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Of All The People ( Why You? )

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“Quick! He’s gonna reach soon and you know how much he hates these messes,” Wonpil rushed his subordinates to clear the long, wooden table they often used to discuss projects when the meeting rooms were occupied. Earlier was no different, resulting in the pale wood being hidden under stacks of paper and empty coffee cups. No one asked who he was talking about, only a look of alarm on their faces as they sprung into action. Whispers and curses were heard as the whole level, or building really, buzzed with the return of the young CEO.

"Shit, shit, shit! Where's my proposal? Wonpil hyung, have you seen it?" Dowoon, one of the youngest editors they had who actually managed to survive to work in this hellhole, asked as he adjusted his glasses. There were dark circles around his eyes and Wonpil knows how many nights he's stayed up working on that proposal to submit later. He takes pity on him and racks his brain, letting out a gasp when he remembers seeing that blue folder Dowoon's been carrying around for weeks somewhere under the pile of papers by the printer. The younger thanks him with a deep bow before he's rushing off. Wonpil sighs as he stands in the midst of the chaos, deciding to look for the only person who would be as calm as he is at this point. He spots the raven head and calls for his attention.

“Youngjae! Over here.” Wonpil beckons, waving a hand to the younger. This was Choi-Im Youngjae, the adopted son of the Chairman himself. Supposedly, he was raised to be level-headed, sly in the right times, business orientated and not one to let sentiment cloud his judgement. But this man, who runs up to Wonpil and loops their arms together, a wide smile on his face as he bounces slightly on the balls of his feet - is nothing like what he was raised to be. That, plus the fact that he was adopted, was probably the reason why he was a Human Resources manager instead of running the company at the top of the building like his older brother. But Youngjae didn’t mind, preferred it actually. It was more peaceful of a job as compared to what his brother did and definitely less demanding and stressful.

“How’re you holding up? I heard you had to break the news to him about his secretary?” Wonpil asks. Poor Hyunjin, the young cheerful boy who was still full of innocence even though he probably had the toughest job in the company, had fallen and broken his leg. He was now hospitalised with a huge cast around it and off work for three good months, which would have left the young CEO to manage his own schedule. Would have, if it wasn’t for his younger brother and trusty Chief Editor, who happened to know someone in need of a job. Speaking of which, Wonpil checked his phone and wondered why Jinyoung hadn’t replied yet. He prayed to God he wasn’t late, or that would be the breaking point to Jaebeom’s temper.

Im Jaebeom, the first and only blood son of the Chairman of Im Tradings Incorporated. Raised by his tutors and maids more than his father, he was taught to succeed in the business world. Countless lessons, attending meetings when he was freshly 20 by his father’s side, Im Jaebeom probably had more dates with his work than with a person. He was surrounded by people who were all older than him but could only dream of achieving what he has.

To many, it might seem like a dream come true to be so successful at the young age of 25. But even though they aren't close enough for Wonpil to call himself part of Jaebeom's friendship circle, Wonpil's observant enough to know that Jaebeom has little to no real friends. There have been many who have tried to gain the young CEO's trust, but very few have. Sometimes, Wonpil finds himself pitying his own boss when it's a Friday night and all Jaebeom has is his laptop and the cold, empty office. He wonders how a person can do it all and still live every day as if it's nothing, going on business trips after business trips and attending meetings after meetings. Speaking of which, it had been a week since the huge twenty story building had been Im Jaebeom free due to his latest business trip to Dubai. Today was the day the man himself returned, and honestly, Wonpil was happy that he might actually have some time to himself to rest this time.

"I'm great hyung, just worried. Your friend is coming, right? He has to, I promised hyung that he'd have a replacement by today and you know what's gonna happen if he doesn't," Youngjae chews on his lower lip nervously, his fidgeting getting worse next to Wonpil.

“Jinyoungie’s gonna come through, I promise. Just that I’m not sure whether we’re gonna be alive by the time your brother walks through those doors,” Wonpil says, trying to keep the tone light but immediately worrying about his job.

“Well, too late. Hey Jaebeom hyung! Welcome back,” Youngjae smiles despite himself and walks forward to hug his brother. Jaebeom is still in his business suit, the velvet soft black material hugging his shoulders nicely and a deep maroon dress shirt that’s neatly tucked into matching velvet black pants.

"Hey, Jae. How's the week been?" Jaebeom gives him a soft, private smile that he reserves for his loved ones only. Despite being step-brothers, they clicked well even though their personalities clash once in a while.

“It’s been okay. Are you still mad about the secretary thing?” Youngjae asks worriedly as they walk to join Wonpil who looks at Jaebeom warily. The two of them see how Jaebeom’s jaw clenches but he lets out a sigh after, knowing that blowing his fuse would do no good.

“It’s fine, as long as Wonpil’s friend can do his job well. Where is he, by the way?” And the silence that surrounds them is pin-drop, everyone waiting for the inevitable. Wonpil gulps and sends a prayer up to the heavens and Jaebeom’s eyes narrow and he steps away from Youngjae’s hold.

"You mean, he isn't here yet?" Jaebeom asks voice low and Wonpil wants to die. He thinks death might be a better option than dealing with an intimidating Im Jaebeom at eight in the morning on a Wednesday.

“Um…” Wonpil shrinks back as Jaebeom corners him, but thank God Youngjae is there. He puts a firm hand on Jaebeom’s arm and tugs him away, muttering a low and warning “Jaebeom hyung,” that has Jaebeom sighing. He presses the bridge of his nose and shuts his eyes, counting down as he tries to keep his temper in check.

This isn’t Wonpil’s fault, this isn’t Wonpil’s fault, this isn’t Wonpil’s fault. No point in yelling at him, Im Jaebeom. Step away, tell him you’ll wait. Be nice for once, he tells himself and when he opens his eyes again, everyone is staring at him with bated breath.

“I’ll be in my office waiting. If he isn’t here in thirty minutes tell him to not bother coming,” Jaebeom says, proud of himself when it comes out surprisingly neutral.

“Yes sir,” Wonpil squeaks out and quickly bows, the other workers doing the same as the two brother’s take the elevator up, up, up to the twentieth floor where Jaebeom can finally breathe and be himself.

“I thought you did pretty well back there, hyung. I’m proud of you,” Youngjae grins as he takes a seat on the plush leather couch in Jaebeom’s office.

“Really? Didn’t notice,” Jaebeom replies sarcastically but a small smile goes to his face. It’s a step up from the last time he got mad - he threw a file at the poor intern who was just passing it to him for his superior and the kid quit the next day.

“You know they like you right? They’re just…afraid of making you mad, is all,” Youngjae assures him.

“Uh huh, sure Jae. If the whole building has to go into a panic attack every time I get back I’m sure it means I’m well liked,” Jaebeom doesn’t really let his feelings get affected by what people think about him, even though being well-liked does come in handy when he needs something. For example - Youngjae. He’s the golden boy of their company and everyone’s always willing to lend him a hand. But when it comes to Jaebeom, people have trouble believing there’s something he even needs help with.

“I’m serious hyung,” Youngjae points out, Jaebeom humming in reply as he checks his phone for messages he’s missed while on the flight back.

From: Mark Hyung
Jaebeommieeeeee

From: Mark Hyung
Don’t forget about tonight

“Tonight? What’s tonight?” Jaebeom asks no one in particular. Youngjae perks up at that.

“Mark hyung’s company is having their annual dinner party and he invited you, don’t you remember?” Jaebeom curses and desperately wants to change his schedule but he’s got a meeting with that new shipment company and currently, still no secretary to do anything.

“Shit, could you make it Youngjae?” his brother shakes his head no. “Then the brat it is,” Jaebeom says, typing off a series of texts to the brat in question before he replies Mark.

To: Gyeom the Brat
Hey you’re replacing me tonight at Mark hyung’s company’s dinner

To: Gyeom the Brat
Don’t argue and I’ll treat you to drinks next time

To: Gyeom the Brat
Wait who am I kidding I treat you all the time you owe me

To: Gyeom the Brat
So go and make sure Mark hyung doesn’t get stupid drunk

To: Gyeom the Brat
You too

From: Gyeom the Brat
WAIT WHAT HYUNG WA I T

To: Mark Hyung
Hey Mark hyung? I'm really sorry but I can't make it today because Hyunjin just got injured and there's this thing with a new secretary and everything and I have a meeting with this new company later on and I'm really really sorry. I checked with Yugyeom and he said he's cool to go if you're okay with that?

From: Mark Hyung
Aww, it's okay Jaebeommie. I know how important work is to you, I'll go with that idiot then. Good luck with your new secretary by the way!

To: Mark Hyung
At this point, I need him to actually be here to make progress

From: Mark Hyung
And I’ll be here praying for his soul :)

Jaebeom locks his screen with a smile, his mood infinitely better from talking to his friends. It's true he might not have many of them that he keeps close, but those that he does make up for all the friendships he's skipped out on throughout his life. Yugyeom has been around with him and Youngjae ever since they were kids, their mothers as close as sisters and Yugyeom would come over almost every day to play. When Jaebeom's mother died when he was five, Yugyeom had cried almost as much as the two brothers had. From that day on, it became more of Jaebeom and Youngjae going over to the Kim's considering how closed off their father became.

Somewhere deep inside him, Jaebeom knew he was as sad as they all were. But different people have different coping mechanisms, and Jaebeom's father's just happened to be working his life away and sacrificing time with his children. It was a rough time growing up without much of a fatherly figure. Jaebeom had grown to become a man on his own, taking responsibility for his brother and younger friend when they all entered high school. Then came in Mark, a shy boy from LA that happened to be the son of the biggest shopping mall tycoon in the country. Their similarities drew them closer, and then it became four instead of three. Two older brothers taking care of two younger ones and really, when days at the company get so bad that Jaebeom feels like giving up, his friends are the ones that get him back up and that's all he needs.

And of course, when Jaebeom’s mood is just getting better, with the best timing in the whole wide world is a knock on the door, followed by the reason why Im Jaebeom’s take on life might just change for once.


Jinyoung swears he might actually storm into the driver’s cabin and take over at the rate the train is going. They’ve made three unnecessary stops between Daegok and Hwajeong and Jinyoung’s still got at least a good thirty minutes of travel time before he reaches. He checks his phone again, the big white numbers feeling like they're mocking him.

Great, yeah let’s just go to work for the scariest and probably most arrogant but also one of the richest guys in all of Seoul. Why not, Park Jinyoung? Since your smart ass got you fired from your last job. Yeah let’s just listen to Wonpil and be the guy’s fucking secretary, now guess who’s late? Jinyoung kicks himself mentally and sincerely hopes this Im Jaebeom guy isn’t really that bad. He remembers how Wonpil described him as - cold but secretly nice and cares from afar. Sounded like a load of bullshit to Jinyoung, that’s for sure. The old tsundere attitude was way too overrated for some multi-millionaire rich guy, who’s Jinyoung’s own age mind you. Sure it’s a stab at his ego but the bills need to be paid and the job’s temporary. Three months and he gets paid better than his previous job could in a year.

He sighs as he counts the stops left, six more and then he's free to sprint the whole way to the building right slap in the middle of Seoul. Jinyoung curses his apartment that's far far away, where the rent is cheap and apartments are comfy enough just to get by. It's ten minutes till eight and Jinyoung thinks he might as well just go home at this point. Knowing Im Jaebeom's character from what Wonpil described him as there probably won't be any second chances given. And Jinyoung knows himself, knows how sassy he can get when someone pushes his buttons and damn does Im Jaebeom already give him a bad impression of a stuck-up rich boy.

He can’t wait for these three months to fly by.

And finally, fucking finally, they reach the Seoul station. Jinyoung pushes through the crowd, praying his shoes haven't turned gray from the number of times people have stepped on them. He's dressed rather nicely today, hair parted and styled to the side, his bangs coming to one side. He's wearing one of his better suits from when Bambam had styled him for fun and honestly Jinyoung is thankful to have a fashion designer for a friend on days like this when he needs fancy clothing he can't afford. It's a cream white one, with a slight baby pink dress shirt on the inside. Jinyoung has to admit he looks good in soft colours and the pants make his ass look great. Wonpil better applaud him for the effort even if he gets fired.

But technically, he does live a good hour away and it’s peak hour with everyone getting to work so Jaebeom should understand, right? Plus he’s only about ten minutes late, plus minus a few. And he hopes this Im Jaebeom isn’t as unreasonable as he seems, but then again he is labelled ‘unnecessarily strict with a bad temper sometimes’ by Wonpil so Jinyoung thinks he might die or flare up as well.

What a great day to be alive.                                 

He jogs the street up to the tallest building in the area and huffs as he steps into the revolving door, tugging on his suit to make sure it still looks presentable. He ruffles the ends of his bangs a little and takes a deep breath before entering the elevator and going to the top level. He checks his phone and there are about fifty missed calls from Wonpil plus hundreds of texts asking where he is. He smiles despite the buzzing feeling of nervousness in his gut and sends a simple text of "I'm going up to meet him right now" and locks his phone, stuffing it deep into his pocket. The weight is comforting and as the elevator door dings open. Jinyoung chews on his bottom lip nervously as he walks to the big doors to the young CEO's office. Standing in front of it, hand hovering over the slim metal handles, Jinyoung can sense the powerful and intimidating aura already. He vaguely registers he's supposed to knock and does it without much of a thought. He hears the conversation inside still to a stop and he pushes the doors open, coming face to face with Im Jaebeom himself.


Now Jaebeom has met plenty of good-looking people in his life, countless actors and actresses and models and idols, but he thinks none can compare to this man's beauty. His skin is milky white, hair a stark contrast of dark hazel brown. His cheekbones are set high and his jawline makes him look like a prince had just walked right into Jaebeom's office. He has the nicest shaped eyebrows Jaebeom has ever seen and a set of full lips that Jaebeom feels the urge to kiss. Those plump, pink lips are set in a thin line and Jaebeom snaps to attention as Youngjae clears his throat. He's thankful for a natural cold-looking face that hardly gives away any clue of his emotions because he feels his cheeks heat up.

“So you finally decided to turn up?” Jaebeom speaks, suddenly remembering the reason why he’s mad. The man, who’s dressed in a cream white suit and a baby pink shirt, gulps as he stands in front of Jaebeom’s desk.

“I’m so sorry Mr.Im but I live quite the distance from here and morning peak hours can get a little crazy. I hope you understand,” And Jaebeom swears he nearly melts at how smooth this guy’s voice is but he focuses on the anger boiling in his stomach.

“If everyone comes in late and uses the same excuse as you do, do you think this company would be where it’s at now? And it’s a little unfair to the other workers and leaves a bad impression on both you and I if I let you off for being late on the very first day of work, isn’t it?” Jaebeom says, immediately feeling the warning glare Youngjae is sending him. The man looks fairly taken aback but the look is replaced by him pursing his lips together and eyes settling into a glare that can rival his own.

"Well I'm sorry, sir, but isn't it also a little unreasonable of you too? I mean, common folk like us have no choice but public transport since we can't afford expensive cars as you can, so I do hope you understand," And even though he was pointing out the truth Jaebeom feels attacked like he's never been before. Who is this man, to just waltz in here almost half an hour late to work and have the guts to talk back to Jaebeom? No one has ever dared to do that and it’s like a match that lights the fuse and Jaebeom’s exploding before he can even think.

"Oh yeah? So is it my problem that you so-called ‘common folk' can't afford things then? I don't understand because it's basic responsibility to be at least on time for your first day and it’s also basic manners to respect your boss when he’s correcting you. I could have you fired in a second, you know that?” Jaebeom’s standing right in front of the man at this point, who stares at him like a defiant teenager. Youngjae stands by his side, helplessly looking on as they stare daggers at each other. Jaebeom thinks he’s pretty intimidating, but the man has the nerve to scoff.

"Do it then, Mr Im. I'd rather go home and be jobless than work under you for three months, besides I'm not the one in need of a secretary. People are right, you really are just an arrogant, stuck-up rich kid who happened to take over his father's company," the man spits in his face and it cuts through Jaebeom's heart like glass. It slices through it easily with so much impact that Jaebeom's breath catches in his throat. It hurts, of course, it does. Being called arrogant is one thing, but the jab at his ability to run the company on his own is on a whole new level. Who was this guy? Before Jaebeom can open his mouth to fire back a hand is firmly gripping his forearm and he stops.

"Jinyoung-ssi, Jaebeom hyung, calm down. Let's all take a deep breath and sort things out nicely okay?" Youngjae's small voice makes their two heads snap to him quickly, Jaebeom softening as he sees how scared his younger brother is. He sighs and runs a hand through his hair, glaring at Jinyoung who does the same. Well, one thing Jinyoung said was true, he did need a secretary. And this man who pushes all of Jaebeom’s buttons just by being there happens to be the only person available to fill that role.

“Hyung, come on. Jinyoung-ssi apologised and he’s here, isn’t he?” Youngjae says to him slowly, and Jaebeom reluctantly nods. He hears Youngjae and Jinyoung talk in the background but he blocks it out, focusing on calming himself. Three months. That’s all, you can do this, Jaebeom tells himself and the sound of Jinyoung thanking Youngjae is all he hears before he and Jinyoung are the only ones left in the room. They make eye contact and Jaebeom scowls when he finds a small smirk on Jinyoung’s face.


“Let’s make this work, shall we sir? We both clearly hate this arrangement and I’m pretty sure I’m crossing lots of lines already right now, but three months and I’m out of here and you get back your peace. And I’m sure you’re smart enough to know that a truce is needed for us to get work done, so, ” Jinyoung extends his hand and Jaebeom looks at him like he grew a second head. The CEO considers it a second and shakes his hand, albeit begrudgingly. Jinyoung smiles one of his signature smug smiles before handing Jaebeom a folder of his personal information Wonpil had compiled for him.

“Park Jinyoung, 25. Graduated valedictorian of his class, majored in business and social sciences. A hard worker, diligent and a good judge of character. Who wrote this? Wonpil?” Jaebeom asks, scoffing as he tosses the folder on his desk. Jinyoung barely bats an eye.

“He did, actually. He’d be pretty sad when he hears you threw it,” Jinyoung says as he leans on the desk casually. Jaebeom watches the action and crinkles his nose, but doesn’t say anything. Jinyoung’s sure he’s crossed more lines and pushed more buttons than any other person in this company has and he hasn’t even been here thirty minutes. Way to break records, your stupid mouth is gonna get you in trouble one day you idiot, Jinyoung thinks but is really past the point of caring.

"Screw what he thinks, I should fire Wonpil for sending you here, Park Jinyoung. Let's set some ground rules since we're having a truce, okay?" Jaebeom says and Jinyoung turns to face him. He's seated comfortably in the leather chair and Jinyoung is slightly amused and proud at how they're both seated but he isn't fired yet. He nods in reply as Jaebeom begins listing.

"First, report to work by 7:30 every day, you have to be in here at least half an hour earlier than I am. Tardiness will not be tolerated again. Second, you have to remember my schedule for the week and be ready to cancel or change any appointments or meetings. Third, you’ll accompany me to all my meetings and appointments the whole day and take notes of whatever I tell you to. Last but not least,” Jaebeom pauses and points a stubby finger at Jinyoung, “when I call, you come. Got it, Secretary Park?” Jaebeom is the one smirking now and Jinyoung wants to slap it off his face. He grits his teeth but agrees anyway, remembering the bills left lying on his table at home. Jaebeom lets out a satisfied hum and hands Jinyoung a stack of papers plus a new notebook.

“Great, now get to work, Secretary Park. You haven’t got all day,” Jinyoung flashes him a fake smile and Jaebeom does the same, the two parting ways with Jinyoung huffing and rolling his eyes. The door doesn’t close as hard as he wants to slam it and he thinks the world might be plotting against him at this point.

"Stupid job, stupid CEOs, stupid Wonpil of all things. Secretary Park?" Jinyoung scoffs and plops down into his own chair behind the counter. It's stationed right outside Jaebeom's office and there's an intercom there for Jaebeom to call him in whenever he wants to. He stares down at the stack of papers, full of words that make his head swim. He sighs and looks at the time, 8:57. If he's lucky, he might get at least half of it done by lunchtime.

Three months and you're done. Oh, it's gonna be a long fucking time, Jinyoung thinks as he flips open the notebook a little too roughly and nearly rips the first page out.

Three months, and Jinyoung thinks he won't even last three days in this hellhole.

Chapter Text

Bambam was not having a good day. There was a production issue with his new line and almost half of the clothing had to be sent back to the factory, which costs him a fortune. There was also this fancy dinner to attend today - the Tuan Family's annual dinner where Bambam would sign the contract for his new mesh line to be sold in their stores. He prayed to God his line would sell well because production costs for mesh were not cheap. He had been struggling with piecing together two outfits for the dinner, one for himself and one for Jackson who, by the way, was supposed to be at his house an hour ago. He huffed in annoyance as he picked up his phone and texted Jackson again, asking where the elder was.

 

From: Wang Kong Hyung

I’m reaching I’m reaching!

 

From: Wang Kong Hyung

Open up Bam

 

The doorbell rang and Bambam ran down the stairs and opened up the wide, beige wooden doors to a fresh-out-of-the-shower Jackson Wang. The rapper grinned sheepishly as Bambam crossed his arms, blocking the doorway.

“Any explanation as to why you’re an hour late, hyung?” Bambam asked as he tapped his foot impatiently, Jackson sighing.

"I was at the gym and I kinda sorta lost track of time? And I know you hate me smelling and stepping foot into your house so I went home to shower before coming here. I swear it was on accident," Jackson holds up three fingers and Bambam sighs, stepping aside and letting his friend in.

"Well, at least your body will look good today. Try this on, we don't have much time left before we have to go," Bambam says, passing Jackson his outfit. It consisted of a tight pair of purple leather pants and a full mesh jacket. Jackson stared at the outfit, mouth agape.

“You want me to wear this, to a company dinner? Are you fucking crazy or is this a joke?” Jackson asks, examining the sheer material. It’s so thin and Jackson swears he’s gonna die from the cold if the embarrassment doesn’t kill him first. Bambam only gives him an unimpressed stare, holding up his own outfit. It’s something purple and glittery and screams Bambam the minute he sees it.

"You're there to promote my new line, hyung. Plus, what's the point of working out when you aren't gonna show it off? Go, there's still makeup and hair to do," Bambam replies with a flick of his wrist in the direction of the bathroom. Jackson doesn't see the point in arguing and Bambam is his close friend, after all, so he only sighs and goes to change.

It's a tight fit, his muscular thighs stretching and filling out the leather material. The jacket hugs his arms and even though it does look revealing, it covers most of his skin because of its colour. It also serves to accentuate his broad chest and Jackson has to admit that he looks good.

"Told you you'd look good. Now sit here hyung, I'm gonna make you look even better," Bambam's in his own mesh ensemble, though it's definitely not as revealing as Jackson's. He has on a mesh shirt with that glittery jacket Jackson saw earlier with black pants over fishnet leggings. His legs look even skinnier in the material and Jackson wonders how he can even walk in how tight those leggings look. The things Bambam does for fashion. The younger pats the seat in front of his huge white vanity and Jackson sits, afraid of what Bambam would do to his newly bleached blonde hair. It's a painful half an hour of hair pulling, gelling, hairspray and of course - glitter, that feels like forever to Jackson. Bambam lets out a triumph sound when he finishes and steps away for Jackson to see.

His usually soft locks that cover his forehead are parted at one side, the long fringe wavy with the help of Bambam's curling iron. It's a totally different style from what he'd usually do to his own hair, which would be simply parting it in the middle and leaving it loose for him to run his fingers through.  But it's not necessarily unwelcome because he thinks he looks sexy and it matches the overall look for tonight. He looks at Bambam through the mirror and catches his friend's proud gaze, giving him a thumbs up for his handiwork.

"Now turn around, I'll do your makeup," Bambam says and grabs a bag full of makeup products Jackson can't recognise. Even when he goes to film his music videos or goes for photo shoots he has his team of stylists by his side to help him. It's a little weird to dress up so nicely on a normal day outside of his schedule, but he trusts that Bambam knows what he's doing.

It lasts for about a few minutes, as the silence between the two always does.

"I swear to God if you put that thing anywhere near my eye I'm gonna punch you," Jackson threatens as he sees Bambam hold up a thin, black liner. The younger rolls his eyes and grabs Jackson's arm to push him back in place.

"Come on, hyung. It's just eyeliner, don't be a pussy about it," the Thai native replies. Jackson holds a hand to his chest and gives a fake hurt expression. Truth be told, he's avoided wearing eyeliner ever since he's started his career. The pointy, winged end scares him when it comes too close to his eyes and Jackson kinda likes being able to see.

"A pussy? I'm the wild and sexy Jackson Wang, mind you," Bambam snorts at that, loud and uncivilised, earning him a slap to the thigh.

"Oh yeah? If you're so 'wild and sexy', then sit and let me finish for fucks' sake. I still have my own hair and makeup to do," Bambam reminds him with a scowl, rubbing the spot where Jackson's palm had landed. He hopes it doesn't turn red and visible under his leggings.

"Right, continue," Jackson says with false bravado that Bambam picks up on immediately, a sly smile coming to his face. He quickly reaches for Jackson's face, the older immediately yelping and flinching away. Bambam bursts into a fit of laughter and Jackson pouts, shoving him lightly.

"Okay, okay. Serious now," Bambam says once he's recovered his breath. Jackson pouts but lets Bambam work his magic, finishing up his makeup in a few more minutes. It leaves Jackson time to go text Jinyoung to see how his best friend is fairing on his first day at work.

 

To: Park Gay

So, how’s working under Im Jaebeom been treating ya?

 

To: Park Gay

I’ll be praying for you along with Bam :)

 

From: Park Gay

It’s literally HELL, Jacks. He’s given me so much work and picked on me the whole day.

 

From: Park Gay

I can’t wait till work’s over in two hours so I can go home and sleep or maybe kill myself

 

“Jinyoung hyung?” Bambam asks from his spot in front of the vanity, blusher in his hand.

“Yeah, he’s complaining about his job,” both of them snicker as Jackson types a quick reply.

 

To: Park Gay

Well, don't go dying on us yet, Jinyoungie. Who would take your role as the biggest asshole?

 

From: Park Gay

And here I thought I could count on my best friend to cheer me up.

 

From: Park Gay

If it's gonna be this way, I'd rather go back to work. Enjoy your little dinner party and drink some wine for me.

 

Jackson grins as he locks his phone, jumping onto Bambam's huge king-sized bed. The plush bedding elicits a sigh from him as he lays on his chest, careful not to mess up his hair. Bambam briefs him on the agenda for the night - go there, meet the CEO, sign the contract, get wasted and/or laid in celebration. Jackson grins and suggests a bet - whoever gets laid has to pay the other fifty dollars. Bambam laughs, but takes him up on it anyway. Jackson knows how easily drunk Bambam gets and thinks he's won already.

 

Oh, little does he know how wrong he is.

 


 

Mark adjusts his suit for the fifth time that night, checking himself in the mirror of the hotel room he'd booked. The dinner's at the fanciest five-star hotel in Seoul, it's marble floors and high ceilings proving its exquisiteness. Of course, only the best guests are invited to this exclusive event. Mark wants to look his best - he is the one representing the Tuan Family, after all. A sigh from the bed makes Mark look up from his unnecessary fixing.

"You look great, hyung. Can we go now? I'm hungry and the dinner started five minutes ago," Kim Yugyeom, his young but talented right-hand man and friend says. He's dressed in a black velvet suit and a white dress shirt while Mark is in the complete opposite, the pair choosing to coordinate their outfits on purpose. Mark lets out a small giggle as Yugyeom rubs his stomach and pouts, giving in to his younger friend. He's no Jaebeom, who would calm Mark down with his words and put a reassuring arm around the older. But the tension in his shoulders disappears all the same. Social events are always difficult for the introvert that he is, his shy nature coming off as cold and strict. It earned him the nickname ‘The Ice Prince of the Tuan Family' over the years. His friends, mainly Yugyeom and Youngjae, tease him endlessly while Jaebeom relates to it on a fairly spiritual level. He hopes he can do well later on, so as to not disappoint his father and close all the business deals he needs to smoothly.

Yugyeom probably senses his worrying, because the younger is tugging him towards the door and whining about his growling stomach, making the native American laugh as he lets himself relax. Yugyeom's right about the dinner starting. All the guests save for a few are already seated when they walk down the stairs to the banquet hall. Some stand and greet him and Yugyeom as they walk past while others start whispering and pointing, failing to be discreet. Mark knows how important his role is and how much authority he holds tonight. The fact that a podium is prepared for him on stage with the words ‘CEO's Welcome Speech' in big, bold letters flashing on the screen behind proves it. Yugyeom gives his arm a tight squeeze before he lets Mark walk up the stage, small cue card in hand. His messy writing looks like squiggles on the white paper and he feels dizzy as the spotlight shines directly on him. He takes a deep breath, slow and steady.

Don’t stutter, just like you practiced. Nice and easy, Mark. You got this, he repeats like a mantra and he begins his speech. It goes fairly well and Jaebeom would be proud of him for delivering it smoothly in front of a hundred pair of eyes watching him like hawks. The audience claps as Mark takes a bow and walks off the stage, feeling air fill his lungs again as he can finally breathe. Yugyeom is there immediately to steady him, a large hand encircling his elbow and leading him to their table in the middle. They're the only ones there, a five-seater table reserved for him and Yugyeom only. Yugyeom hands him a glass of wine with a big smile on his lips.

“You did great, hyung. Jaebeom hyung and Youngjae hyung would be proud after all that practice you put in,” the younger congratulates. Mark ruffles his grey hair affectionately and thanks him, taking a long sip from his glass to calm his nerves.

"You hungry? I'm gonna get us some food," Yugyeom says and Mark watches in amusement as he makes a beeline to the meat section of the buffet. He takes the opportunity to scan the crowd and run through his mental list of the contracts to be signed today. There's one with a fashion designer, one with a company that they want to endorse in their malls and some minor ones with old business partners. He spots his secretary, Felix, a few tables away from him and signals to get his attention. The young brunette immediately rushes to his table, handing Mark a folder and a pen for the contract signing. Mark checks them thoroughly, not missing the way his secretary keeps glancing back to his table. Mark remembers that Felix had asked to bring a guest and figures it's his boyfriend the younger is texting all the time. He smiles and looks up once all the contracts are in order and Felix looks like he's about to explode with how jittery he is.

"You brought your boyfriend, right? Go back to him and take the rest of the night off. Enjoy yourself, okay?" Felix looks positively delighted and makes a deep ninety-degree bow before he's practically skipping back to his table. Mark watches with a fond smile as Felix and the raven head next to him link pinkies and talks excitedly, nearly jumping out of his seat when Yugyeom calls him.

"Is that Changbin? Felix actually brought him, huh? Must be nice being in a relationship," Yugyeom says with a little pout as he stuffs a biscuit with salami on it into his mouth. Mark raises his eyebrow in question, but he's interrupted before he can even start. A loud group of laughter to his right makes both Yugyeom and him look over, curious. It belongs to an interesting mix of people, two men dressed in interesting, to say the least, clothing among businessmen and women. The man in a full mesh top is the center of attention, making big gestures as he speaks.

"That's the designer you're meeting later, Kunpimook Bhuwahkul Bambam. I heard he's from Thailand," Yugyeom points at the man in the glittery jacket. "And that's his model for the night, Jackson Wang. You've heard of him, right? The rapper with that super husky and deep voice that makes people swoon," Yugyeom's description makes Mark choke on his dumpling and he shoots the younger a glare. Yugyeom only laughs and pats Mark on the hand.

“Stay professional, Gyeom. They’re coming over,” Mark tells him, spotting the two stand and look in the direction of Mark and Yugyeom. He’s right when he hears footsteps approach their table followed by a thickly accented voice calling his name.

"Mr. Tuan? Hi, I'm Kunpimook Bhuwakul Bambam, the designer. I hope my friend and I aren't disturbing," the skinny blonde says. Mark gulps as he feels their eyes trained on him as they await his response. He nods, signaling for them to take a seat.

"Of course not, Bambam-ssi. Are those clothing from your new line as stated in the contract?" and Mark can feel Yugyeom cringe at how formal he sounds and hopes it doesn't sound too awkward.

"They are. My friend, Jackson Wang here, is my model for the day. What do you think, Mark-ssi?" Bambam asks, an excited buzz to his voice that makes Mark smile. Jackson hesitates to stand up but does so when Bambam kicks his shin under the table if Jackson's ‘Ow!' is anything to go by. Despite the scowl he shoots his friend, Jackson gives Mark a warm smile as he stands and even does a little twirl for Mark to see.

Is that full mesh? How has he not frozen to death yet, it's like sixteen degrees outside. And oh my god is that leather? Mark gulps as he's suddenly aware of how thick Jackson's thighs look under those pants and how his upper half is on full display for everyone to see, including Mark. He feels heat rush to his face and he clears his throat, eyes darting up just in time to make eye contact with Jackson. It feels like a surge of electricity coursing through his veins, those dark brown orbs staring into his soul. He can't bring himself to look away. The goofy smile that takes up half of the man's face only makes Mark's heart pick up the pace, its beat drumming in his ears loudly. And Mark's thankful he's seated because when Jackson opens his mouth to talk - damn does Mark feel like he's already fallen off the edge of a cliff and into a pit of feelings he doesn't recognise.

"What do you think, Mark-ssi? Isn't Bammie talented?" his deep voice snaps Mark back to attention. He realises, with redness that rises and covers his neck to the tip of his ears, that the three have been waiting for a response from him. And he'd been what, ogling a stranger? Way to ‘stay professional’, Mark Tuan. Aren’t you the Ice Prince, he mentally chides himself and clears his throat to reply.

“He is. I think it’s a very unique design and your line would definitely do well in terms of sales, Bambam-ssi. Would you like to sign the contract now?” Mark (thankfully) turns his attention away from Jackson Wang and to the folder in front of him, looking for Bambam’s contract and handing it to the designer along with the pen. Bambam and Jackson huddle close as they read the terms, whispering and nudging each other like kids who got their favourite candy and were discussing how to split the loot. Bambam signs it and slides it to Yugyeom, who smiles and keeps the contract neatly back in the folder. The designer and his friend share a high five before Bambam extends his hand to Mark, a shy smile on his lips.

“To a great partnership, Mark-ssi,” Mark looks at the outstretched arm nervously, feeling Yugyeom tense up at his side - ready to step in if needed. Mark rarely does the whole handshake agreement thing, it’s part of his introverted character. But for some reason, the pair in front of him makes him drop his guard the slightest bit for once. Maybe it’s how they’re so carefree in expressing their happiness over closing a business deal, or how their friendship seems so genuine it reminds Mark of his own friends. Either way, he’s reaching out his own hand and grabbing onto Bambam’s tightly, giving it a short squeeze.

“To a great partnership and success, Bambam-ssi,” he replies with a shy smile of his own. The peaceful mood is (once again) broken by Jackson Wang sighing loudly as he plops himself unceremoniously on the chair next to Mark, taking him by surprise. He sends Yugyeom a look that screams ‘Help me!’ but the younger seems equally shocked to do anything.

“So, Mark-ssi,” Someone save me before I say something stupid, "I heard you run the company on your own in Korea? Must be difficult, being a foreigner and everything," Jackson says without any offence, only his natural charm paired with a bright smile. Mark can see why he was the main source of entertainment at the table earlier. He hesitates to reply then, Jackson's statement hanging awkwardly in the air.  And maybe it's the red wine in his system that gives him liquid courage or the fact that for once, he's actually intrigued by a stranger at one of these business events. But he's thinking ‘ Fuck it, there’s nothing to lose anyway,’ before giving a reply of his own.

"Aren't you a foreigner too though, Jackson-ssi? I'm pretty sure Wang is a Chinese surname," Mark points out and he can feel the shocked gaze Yugyeom is giving him but he ignores it, courtesy of the little flutter he feels in his stomach when Jackson looks genuinely surprised Mark had actually replied.

“How observant, I guess nothing gets past a CEO huh? Smart and good-looking, no wonder so many people want to get to know you,” and Mark swears he hears fake gagging noises behind him but once again, he ignores it in favour of talking to Jackson.

"Well, not really. They usually only talk to me because they want to be part of my father's business," Mark replies with a shrug. Jackson's eyes shine with something Mark can't place, but he forgets it when the other man rests a casual hand on his thigh. His skin feels hot to the touch and makes Mark wants to lean into it but jerk away. It's discreet enough for others not to see and somehow it makes it feel even dirtier than it should.

"Don't worry, Mark-ssi. I promise I'm here to talk because I do genuinely want to get to know you," Mark doesn't know if it's the blood rushing to his head that fuels his imagination but he thinks that he sees Jackson wink.

And maybe for once, Mark wouldn’t be crowned Ice Prince of the night.

 


 

"Hey, try this, Yugyeommie!" Bambam tries to whisper and fails horribly, earning the looks of some people surrounding them. Yugyeom laughs despite the second-hand embarrassment that he feels, wrapping an arm around his new friend. After Mark and Jackson had started chatting (read: flirting), the two twenty-two-year-olds had decided to give them some space and left the table to venture around. Other than sipping wine and stealing cakes, the two had also found the time to talk and they found out more about each other in the past two hours of fooling around. The pair clicked immediately, having tons of common interests from dancing to internet memes. It makes him feel young and his age for once, hanging out with someone who's just a few months older. They attract a lot of attention, no doubt. From Bambam's weird sound effects to Yugyeom's laughter, the two become somewhat of a drunk mess by the time it's eleven o'clock. The dinner doesn't end till midnight and Bambam's red in the face, even though he insists he isn't drunk. He latches on to Yugyeom's waist tightly, breath warm and ticklish where it's against Yugyeom's cheek. The wine glass in his hand, full of some weird concoction Bambam had ordered the bartender to make, nearly slips from his hand and Yugyeom lets out a squawk of alarm. He's way better at holding his alcohol than the Thai boy is, so his fast reflexes save the glass before anything spills out. Bambam only giggles and sighs, breath reeking of alcohol.

 

“Yugyeommmmmmmmmmm,” Bambam slurs, lifting a crooked finger to his face. Yugyeom nearly goes cross-eyed staring at it.

 

"What?" he asks, slowly moving them to the exit where people will finally stop staring at Yugyeom like he's drugged Bambam and is currently taking advantage of him.

 

"You're no fun. I wanna drink more, it's only…" Bambam lifts Yugyeom's wrist and squints at the tiny watch face, "eleven thirty! We could have a whole adventure, Gyeommie! I don't wanna go home," Bambam pouts. Yugyeom hadn't even thought of sending the elder home, only focusing on keeping what was left of their reputation intact. He's glad Mark was distracted by Jackson, or he would have gotten a lecture on how they should be professional and respectable at events like this. He then thinks, a little smugly, that Mark should be on the receiving end of this lecture instead.

 

'Stay professional' my ass. Who's the one who ogles the guy as soon as he appears, huh? Damn, Mark hyung's never gonna live this down if the others hear about it, he thinks and lets out a small evil laugh. Bambam cocks his head to his side, eyes basically closed and resting his whole weight on Yugyeom now.

 

"What're you laughing at, Yugyeom? Me? Am I- am I that funny?" Bambam hiccups and Yugyeom quickly assures him that he isn't. He softens when Bambam sighs and rests his head on his shoulder, finally stopping his attempts to grab at Yugyeom's suit. Yugyeom pats his hair and mumbles a soft "I'm gonna send you home, okay Bam?" which the older hums in reply to. He considers carrying the older bridal style to his car but thinks it'll create scandals the next day that Mark will surely kill him for. Other guests are already shooting him scandalised looks as he walks with Bambam to the open car park where his personal car is parked, little whispers of his name and Mark's. But he chooses to ignore them and instead focuses on getting his car keys out of his back pocket while supporting the dead weight that is his friend. He lets out a sigh of relief as the damned key finally works and he swings the door open, reaching in to start up the engine. His black Audi roars to life and the headlights aid him in helping Bambam settle in the passenger's seat.

The other is completely out of it now, head lolling to the side as Yugyeom buckles him in. He smiles as he takes a second to admire how peaceful he looks asleep, much quieter in comparison to earlier when he was letting out weird noises every few seconds. Yugyeom ruffles his hair again and shuts the door, walking back to the driver's side and buckling his own seat belt. He sends a quick text to Mark to tell him his whereabouts, though he's pretty sure the elder is occupied , remembering he saw Jackson's arm around Mark's waist as the pair were talking to some other guests by the buffet table. He also opts for some relaxing music so as to not wake Bambam up, putting his phone on his dashboard before driving out of the car park. He realises, with a facepalm, that he has zero idea where Bambam lives. He looks over helplessly at his snoring friend, giving up any hope of getting a response out of him and deciding to let Bambam sleep in his guest room. He's thankful he lives alone, or it would be difficult to explain to anyone why he would be dragging a drunk man home without them getting the wrong idea. Because no, Yugyeom is a sensible and decent human being and he is not going to take advantage of Bambam. Besides, they just met and Yugyeom just thinks of the elder as a good friend/his best friend at this point, even though he has to admit Bambam is attractive and his type in some ways.

 

They reach his apartment, a simple one though larger than the average. He doesn't see a point in spending money on a lavish house like the one Mark or Jaebeom has, preferring to splurge on other things like the interior. It's evident in how his furniture is minimalistic and monotone, costing him quite a good sum for the imported goods. He toes off his shoes and walks to the guest room which he keeps clean, gently laying Bambam on the bed and moving to remove his dress shoes and ridiculous glitter socks. He turns on the air conditioning and throws a blanket over Bambam's skinny body, deciding not to remove his suit lest Bambam accuse him of anything in the morning. He turns to leave after he's satisfied, a small on his lips as he watches the older snore softly. He's starting to feel tired himself and trudges back to his own room. He barely remembers to turn on the air conditioning for himself before he collapses on his bed, out cold the second his head hits the pillow.

 

That night, he dreams for the first time in a while. It's the back view of someone he can't make out, standing too far away under a cherry blossom tree. But he gets the feeling it's someone he knows and feels a fluttering, warm sensation in his chest that he welcomes like spring.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Mark wakes up the next day with a splitting headache. He groans and his throat hurts like a bitch. He struggles to get up and when he does, he realises three things. Firstly, he isn’t in his own bed. Secondly, he's stark naked, save for the white blanket covering his lower half. Thirdly, there's a fucking body next to him. Now Mark is no Virgin Mary and has had his fair share of one night stands in his college days but that was way before he had a reputation to uphold. The man’s face is obscured by his arm and Mark squeezes his eyes shut, trying to recall what had happened the night before.

 


 

 

 

"Mark hyung, " Jackson's voice is low and rough from the amount of alcohol he had consumed. It's dark out now and they're standing by the entrance of the dining hall, waiting for all the guests to clear the area. The dinner ended later than planned, the huge clock on the wall with its little hand pointing at 1 and big hand at 6. Mark hums in reply, leaning his weight slightly against Jackson even as he bids goodbye to the last of the guests. Jackson, however, doesn't seem satisfied with the reply and tugs on his sleeve, bringing his pouty lips to Mark's ear. Mark doesn't notice him yet, only giving his movie-star smile and thanking the hotel staff.

"Hyung," and Mark feels a shiver down his spine at Jackson's honey-sweet voice in his ear. "Let's go do something," Mark wonders how the hell things have ended up like this. He was supposed to be focused and just attend this dinner, get it over with and go home. But ever since Jackson had invited himself into Mark's personal bubble earlier it feels as if he had crossed a line and broken down the walls that Mark has so carefully built up over the years with just his smile. And he doesn't know what's about Jackson but there's just something about him that makes Mark smile and laugh the most he has in a long time. So, Mark lets his hand fall around Jackson's wrist and he tugs him into the elevator, pressing the top floor button and just letting himself be free for once. Jackson’s grip on his waist is tight and there’s an intangible heat between them, both not speaking but awaiting what’s to come. And Mark has never walked that fast in his life. He pulls the key card from his back pocket and taps it impatiently, Jackson chuckling by his ear, lips dangerously close to his earlobe and Mark wants to explode . He pushes the door open and immediately Jackson is on him, big hands on either side of his head as his lips find his.

It’s hot and messy and everything Mark loves and needs at the point. He knows, he fucking knows he shouldn’t be doing this with someone he just met. But it’s Jackson, the man who wears his heart on his sleeve and basically told Mark everything about his life in the past few hours. Jackson, who was the first person who ever wanted to genuinely know Mark for who he is, not what he has. And so he tugs the younger closer by his collar, mouths moving in sync and fitting like they were moulded for each other. They part for air and Jackson is panting - loud and hot against Mark’s ear. They’re silent for a second, just catching their breaths and holding each other in the space behind the door.

“Hyung, do you-” Jackson starts but Mark cuts him off with a searing, hot kiss. Jackson lets out a surprised sound that Mark swallows up, hands coming to Jackson’s chest and pushing him backwards. Mark doesn’t know what’s gotten into him but he isn’t stopping now, not when Jackson is letting out sweet sounds every time Mark touches him. They fall back onto the bed, Jackson’s hands now holding his hips so tight that he’s sure they’ll bruise the next day. And Mark is straddling him now, legs squeezing his thighs and crotches dangerously close while Jackson’s hand trails down, down, down...

 


 

 

Mark turns as red as a tomato and subconsciously touches his hips, feeling the little bruises there. It reminds him of everything that happened the minute they had entered the hotel room and everything that happened after - how Jackson had held him close and whispered sweet nothings into his ears as they fell asleep. It brings a smile to his lips and a flutter builds up in his stomach. The flutter explodes and it feels like there are dozens of butterflies in his stomach when a strong pair of arms encircle his waist and a chin rests on his shoulder. The touch is immediately familiar and he melts into Jackson, feeling the other man’s muscular chest against his back.

“Sleep well?” Jackson’s voice is huskier now from sleep and Mark could listen to it all day.

“Yeah, you?” he leans back further into Jackson’s chest, falling back into him just like the night before.

“Of course I did, I had you beside me,” And Mark turns to slap his chest at the cheesiness of it all. It feels oddly domestic and suddenly there’s a creeping sense of anxiety in his chest. What are they supposed to be now? Does Jackson like him? Do I like him? And the thought scares Mark, to the point that his smile disappears and Jackson is frowning too.

“Hey, hey, what’s wrong? Tell me, please hyung?” Jackson asks immediately, looking at him with so much love and care in his eyes and it's so genuine it makes Mark cry. Jackson clearly takes it the wrong way and is freaking out, shifting Mark off his lap so he can kneel on the floor and be eye level with Mark, like a parent comforting a child. His hands hover by Mark's cheek, wanting to reach to comfort him but he's afraid the elder would flinch away.

“Mark hyung, did I do something wrong? Do you want me to leave?” Jackson asks, voice cracking on the last syllable. He gets more confused when a smile forms on Mark’s lips and he’s pulled into a fierce, tight hug.

“No, you idiot,” Mark’s laughter is wet from the tears but it’s loud and exactly what Jackson loves hearing. “Stay,” Mark whispers in his ear and Jackson thanks God for that. It’s a sweet moment that’s ruined by two loud ‘Ew!’s coming from the door. They turn in surprise to see Yugyeom and Bambam, matching gagging looks on their faces as they let themselves in. Mark had forgotten Yugyeom had the other key card and then realises that both him and Jackson are still very much naked. Jackson realises it the second he does and yelps, jumping on to the bed to cover him and Mark while the two devils snicker and bump fists.

Now, Mark is sure his friends would never let him live any of this down.

 


 

 

Jinyoung wakes up at the ass crack of dawn the next day, groaning and slamming his alarm clock off. He regrets it immediately, clutching his hand in pain as he gets out of bed. It’s the second day of hell and he hates it already. His usual lazy schedule allowed him to wake up at around nine each day, his old work hours flexible. Waking up at five thirty was definitely not going to be easy on him, especially when he reached home at ten yesterday and only got to sleep at around one since he had to arrange and remember all of Jaebeom’s stupid schedules for the week. He shuffles to the bathroom tiredly, opting for a cold shower which would (hopefully) wake him up. He then brushes his teeth and applies some light foundation on his face - it’s become a habit ever since Bambam had told him it helps cover his eye bags which he most definitely has. The bathroom mirror is all fogged up once he leaves, a towel wrapped around his hips. He chooses a simple outfit for the day, a white dress shirt and black jeans. He dresses quickly and grabs his messenger bag, consisting of the notebook gifted by Jaebeom, his personal one, a few stationary, his earpiece and a little bottle of perfume he carries around all the time. He sprays a little on and stuffs it back in his bag once he’s satisfied. The shoes he wore yesterday are a little dirty but he slips them on anyway, grabbing his phone and wallet before he turns the light off and starts his one-hour journey to hell.

Jaebeom yawns as the alarm wakes him up, reaching to shut it off. Nora is laying on his chest while Odd is buried in his armpit and the sight of his cats never fail to make him smile. He checks his unplugs his phone from its charger and squints as he scrolls through the notifications. There are dozens of messages in the group chat between him and his friends and he opens them, a loud laugh filling the room as he reads.

 

From: The Boys Are Back In Town

Gyeom The Brat

 

GUESS WHAT I SAW TODAY

AND WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY

 

From: The Boys Are Back In Town

Mark Hyung

 

Kim Yugyeom I fucking swear.

 

From: The Boys Are Back In Town

Gyeom The Brat

 

OUR MARK HYUNG, THE DEAR PRECIOUS ICE PRINCE

 

From: The Boys Are Back In Town

Youngjae-ah

 

Please tell me he got laid.

 

From: The Boys Are Back In Town

Mark Hyung

 

YOUNGJAE

 

From: The Boys Are Back In Town

Gyeom The Brat

 

Guess what, Youngjae hyung? You are…

ABSOLUTELY RIGHT

AND GUESS WHAT? IT’S JACKSON WANG AKA THE MODEL FOR THE NEW CLOTHING LINE HE SIGNED A CONTRACT FOR

 

From: The Boys Are Back In Town

Youngjae-ah

 

Wait, what? For real, Mark Hyung?

 

From: The Boys Are Back In Town

Mark Hyung

 

Kim Yugyeom you better come out right now. Bambam is gonna die too.

 

From: The Boys Are Back In Town

Youngjae-ah

 

Who’s Bambam?

 

From: The Boys Are Back In Town

Mark Hyung

 

I’ll explain everything later, I have someone to kill first.

Lunch at your office, Jaebeommie? We can order takeout.

 

From: The Boys Are Back In Town

Gyeom The Brat

 

SOMEONE SAVE ME MARK HYUNG HAS A LAPTOP IN HIS HANDS

 

To: The Boys Are Back In Town

 

Sure

And kill Yugyeom for me too :)

 

Jaebeom chuckles as he shuts his phone. His friends sure know how to make a mess in the span of eight hours. He climbs out of bed and stretches, his back starting to ache these days again due to long hours of sitting in an uncomfortable aeroplane seat. He reminds himself to book an appointment with his usual masseuse but then remembers he doesn't have to. He has a new secretary now and Jaebeom happens to love giving him a hard time. Call him a sadist, but watching Jinyoung suffer under that mountain of work he had given him yesterday gave him a sense of satisfaction that he wanted to achieve again today. Hence, he washes up and dresses quickly, choosing a simple white suit with a marble-designed black shirt that he tucks in. His cats are meowing as he walks to the living room, gathered around their empty food bowls and waiting to be fed. Jaebeom chuckles and opens up cans of tuna and distributes the meat evenly, kissing each of them on the head as they purr happily at having breakfast.

"Be good," he tells them as he slips on his usual pair of work shoes, grabs his necessities and shuts the door behind him, exiting his penthouse for the day. He checks the time on his phone, 7:26. I wonder if Park Jinyoung is showing up today, he thinks with an evil smirk.

He nods to the staff who greet him and makes his to the car park, where his black BMW is parked. The headlights flash and he slides into the plush leather seats, sighing as he starts up the ignition. He decides to drive with music that day, feeling in a good mood thanks to his friends and cats. And maybe, he’s also in a good mood because of a certain new secretary that he’s looking forward to torturing for another day. But Jaebeom knows he’s also curious about the man, even though you’d have to seriously torture him before you could ever hear it come from his mouth. Jinyoung is the only person who’s ever challenged Jaebeom and many would say it’s basically wishing for death. But Jinyoung had done it one his first day of work that he was late for and it intrigues Jaebeom how someone can be so bold . Jaebeom might also find it fun to annoy the other man just because of his childish nature, but again he would rather die than admit it to anyone.

 

 


 

 

Jinyoung arrives at the office at 7:34, panting and sweaty. The stupid train had decided to take a long, unnecessary stop again between stations. His shirt feels a little damp and it sticks to his body in some places, annoying him to no end. He thanks God he had brought his perfume and immediately goes to stand under the air-conditioning. He sprays a little of the expensive water on and fans himself, hoping he doesn’t smell as bad as he thinks he does.

“Woah, did you run here or something?” Wonpil, his dear friend who signed him up for this, says as he catches sight of Jinyoung. Jinyoung rolls his eyes and continues, catching his breath.

“Aw, don’t be mad, Jinyoungie. Besides, I did tell you how difficult the job could be,” Wonpil points out, lifting his coffee cup ass he points a finger at Jinyoung. Jinyoung scowls, grabbing the coffee instead of replying and taking a long sip. It’s just the right amount of sugar and improves his mood instantly, Jinyoung always needing a good daily dose of coffee to start his day. Wonpil looks like he’s about to protest but shrugs a second later, slinging his arm around Jinyoung’s shoulder and walking him to the dreaded seat he has to stay in for the next three months.

“I still haven’t forgiven you, you know,” Jinyoung tells him, setting his bag down on the desk.

“Mhmm, sure Jinyoung. See ya at lunch,” Wonpil bids goodbye and reaches to smack Jinyoung’s ass, a habit from when they were in college together. Jinyoung dodges just in time and smacks Wonpil’s hand in revenge, the other man laughing.

"Yah, hands off my peach. Go to work you, idiot, see you," Jinyoung says, using his leg to push Wonpil away. Wonpil pouts but walks off anyway. A faint "Don't die!" comes from Wonpil and Jinyoung shakes his head fondly at his friend's antics. At least Wonpil is here to make it better.

He lets out a sigh and plops himself down in his chair, running his hands through his hair, already feeling the frustration of the day hit him. Im Jaebeom hasn’t even walked in yet and Jinyoung feels annoyed looking at the stupid notebook he gave already, cursing him in his head. The coffee from Wonpil is almost finished and Jinyoung considers going to get another one but sits back down when he hears the ding of the elevator. Here he comes, Jinyoung rolls his eyes as he double checks Jaebeom’s schedule for the day. It goes silent and Jinyoung thinks Jaebeom has gone in, carefully looking up to check. His heart nearly jumps out of his throat when he makes eye contact with a smirking Jaebeom, arms crossed over his broad chest. His black hair is parted like it was yesterday, the slightly curly strands to one side, covering his eye moles that Jinyoung had noticed. His gaze is piercing while a stupid smirk tugs at his lips and if Jaebeom wasn’t such a huge jerk, Jinyoung would have fallen for him in an instant. He snaps out of it and gives Jaebeom his best innocent look, eyebrows raised in question as neither of them speaks. Jaebeom seems to have given up and sighs, clicking his tongue.

“Aren’t you gonna greet me? Everyone does,” Jaebeom says and Jinyoung barely contains his eye roll. Seriously? How far up his own ass is he? Jinyoung thinks but plasters on a fake smile and stands to bow politely, letting the words ‘Good morning, Mr Im' fall from his lips. It seems to be good enough for Jaebeom even though they both know Jinyoung's only saying it to appease Jaebeom. He gives his own fake smile and walks off to his office, Jinyoung raising his fist and wishing he could punch him after the door closes. He plops back down, only to have the intercom linked to the phone in Jaebeom's office beep a few seconds after.

"Bring me my schedule for the day and those files I asked you to arrange yesterday," Jaebeom says. Jinyoung grabs the files on his table and the notebook, taking a deep breath before he knocks on Jaebeom's door and walks in. It's the same as the day before, marble tiles and black and white furniture. It's unnecessarily big for just one person and Jinyoung thinks of the small cubicles the other workers have compared to Jaebeom's personal room. It's unfair in every way, but then again Jaebeom is the CEO so Jinyoung bites his tongue and passes the files to him. He lets Jaebeom skim through them, not missing the way the other man seems slightly impressed at his organisation. Now Jinyoung might be lazy, but he works hard when he has something to prove and right now, proving he can take anything Jaebeom throws at him is at the top of his list. He had even made the extra effort and read through the documents, his brain naturally thinking of pointers that could be used to make the proposal better. He blames it on his stubborn streak and ego that makes him want to make Jaebeom be thankful Jinyoung is his new secretary.

“Your schedule today is quite empty, only a Shareholder’s meeting at 11 and a presentation to attend regarding the plans for the new hospital branch at 3,” Jinyoung recites from memory and Jaebeom hums in reply, but he frowns as he looks through the file, seemingly unhappy.

“Is something wrong?” Jinyoung asks despite himself.

"The proposal is, not your work. There are some parts that don't add up, but I'll sort it out with Mr Yoon later. Call him in for me when you leave,"  Jinyoung bites his lip, knowing how any meeting with Jaebeom would turn out for anyone in this office. He had heard many stories from Wonpil about Jaebeom's tendency to lose his temper once work was not up to standard. And Jinyoung knows he shouldn't be doing this, but his big mouth opens before he can stop himself.

“Is it the part about the expenses?” Jaebeom’s eyes snap up to his, narrowing.

‘Did you read through it?" Jaebeom asks voice low but not quite like the one he had used before he exploded the day before. There's something different about it that Jinyoung can't place.

“I know it isn’t my place to but I couldn’t help it while I was arranging them. I noticed some parts were off too and I didn’t know if I should tell you or not because it seemed quite important for the company but it wasn’t my place to,” Jinyoung blurts out, embarrassed now. Jaebeom seems to consider his response for a minute, lips pursed tightly and Jinyoung can practically see the cogs turning in his head.

"Okay then, tell me. You did major in Business right? What's wrong with it?" And Jinyoung is shocked to the point that he almost drops his notebook.

“Wait, are you for real?” It’s now Jaebeom’s turn to roll his eyes.

“Yes, hurry up. I don’t have all day,” Jaebeom replies, passing Jinyoung the file. Jinyoung remembers all the pointers and mistakes he’d picked out the day before and immediately jumps into a long explanation. To his surprise, Jaebeom actually seems interested to listen. Jinyoung is half afraid that Jaebeom is playing a horrible prank on him and will say “Surprise! You thought I’d actually care about your opinion?” but he does none of that. Instead, he nods along and even comments on Jinyoung’s pointers, giving his own input. It’s weird to have peace between them instead of glares and fake smiles but it’s a nice change for once. Don’t get him wrong, he doesn’t like Jaebeom. But he does appreciate the fact that someone actually bothers to listen to him and recognises his talent for once.

"Huh, who knew you'd actually have some good ideas. I guess you don't have to call Mr Yoon in now, I'll just edit this on my own. Get a soft copy of this from him and send it to me later. And I'll have some guests over for lunch so I'll need you to order some food over and make sure that no one disturbs us. Youngjae will be coming over later too so just let him in when he does. And book an appointment with my usual masseuse for tonight at 8," Jaebeom rattles off a series of instructions but Jinyoung doesn't miss the little compliment at the start and he smiles a little. He nods and takes note of everything, scribbling it down quickly.

"Is that all?" He asks. But this time the politeness feels less forced and he's sure Jaebeom feels it too because the other man isn't smirking at his tone for once.

“No, you may go,” Jinyoung nods and takes his leave, shutting the door behind him and feeling a weird sense of accomplishment in his chest as he walks back to his seat. It’s just one compliment, don’t get too full of yourself and don’t hope for too much. That’s how you get hurt you idiot, Jinyong tells himself. But that floating feeling stays with him for the rest of the morning anyway, making him sit straighter and work harder, even if it’s just a little more.

 


 

Back in his office, Jaebeom leans back in his chair as he flips through the folder, feeling a weird sensation in his chest. He had asked Park Jinyoung to explain and give his input because he had wanted to embarrass the younger by pointing out his mistakes. Jaebeom definitely didn't expect Jinyoung to actually have good ideas and provide pointers that improved the proposal. And he definitely didn't expect to see the little sparkle in Jinyoung’s eyes as he explained to Jaebeom his pointers. It sparked some sort of interest in Jaebeom and he wondered if Jinyoung was actually capable of doing more than be a secretary. Don’t get him wrong, it didn’t mean Jaebeom liked Jinyoung and thought he deserved better. But it did mean that Jaebeom was more certain he wanted to challenge the younger now more than ever, wanting to push him to his limits and see how much it takes for Jinyoung to break. And so, Jaebeom looks for all the loose paperwork he had left for himself to arrange in his free time and carries the thick stack to Jinyoung’s table. He plops it down with a self-satisfied smirk and the glare that Jinyoung sends his way makes him break into a grin.

It’s gonna be a fun three months.

 

Chapter Text

Remember how Jinyoung was in a better mood after Jaebeom had complimented him? And how he was actually starting to feel motivated at this job? Yeah well, that's over the instant Jaebeom slams a new stack of papers on his table, mouth pulled into one of his signature smirks that Jinyoung has come to hate. Jinyoung raises his eyebrows in mild shock, still only a few pages into the report Jaebeom had given him earlier.

"Give this," Jaebeom points to the report Jinyoung is highlighting, "to me by lunch.  This by the end of today and don't forget to do what I told you in the morning," The stack of papers is at least twice as thick as the one Jinyoung is working on but of course dear Jaebeom, doesn't seem to care. He flashes Jinyoung a wicked smile and walks back into his office, Jinyoung resisting the urge to shred the papers. He pinches the bridge of his nose and takes deep breaths, counting down from ten. Calm down, no point getting mad. Besides, just three months to go. Let's just suck it up, shall we? So much for thinking he actually appreciated your work, Park Jinyoung , he thinks and picks up the phone, dialling the number of one of the usual places Jaebeom orders takeout from.

There's a whole list of numbers, from important business partners to Jaebeom's masseuse written in the notebook. Jaebeom's handwriting is surprisingly messy, little scrawls of black ink covering the first two yellow pages. Jinyoung decides to choose a famous food place, Jihal Bros. There's also a little star next to it, so Jinyoung decides it's the safest bet. Thinking of the food makes his own stomach growl and he pouts to himself, glancing at the papers scattered in front of him and then at the clock. He sighs and runs his hands through his hair again, letting it flop back into its messy centre parting. He decides he should stop procrastinating so can he squeeze in a few minutes for lunch later but his concentration is interrupted by loud laughter as the elevator dings open. Out walk three men, all wearing expensive suits that probably cost more than Jinyoung's whole month of salary. They don't notice Jinyoung staring at them at first, immersed in their conversation until one of them, the tallest but youngest looking, goes ‘Oh!' and all eyes are on him immediately. Jinyoung recognises one of them as Youngjae, Jaebeom's younger brother. The mole under his eye is similar to Jaebeom's and their smiles are surprisingly similar for adopted brothers.

"Ah, good morning Jinyoung-ssi," Youngjae greets him with a bright smile that puts the sun to shame. Jinyoung decides he likes this brother a lot more than the devil sitting in the office. He gives a standard bow and greets him in return, the other two me still staring at him. In fact, they're eyeing him from top to bottom and Jinyoung clears his throat and focuses his attention on Youngjae instead.

"Are they the guests your brother was expecting? I've just ordered food from Jihal Bros since he didn't specify what you guys wanted. I'll change it if you like?" Jinyoung asks, reaching for the phone already. Youngjae opens his mouth to assure him it's fine but the tall man is suddenly bursting into a grin and is all up in Jinyoung's personal space in one long stride.

"Jihal Bros? Yes, thank you. I haven't eaten it in like three days," And Jinyoung takes a step back, partly because the man's voice is really loud and partly because he's shocked. Youngjae pushes him back with an arm when he spots how uncomfortable Jinyoung is and gives him a sheepish smile.

"Sorry, Jinyoung-ssi. Yugyeom is just a big fan of their food, you don't have to change it," Youngjae says with a smile.

"Ah, is that why there's a star next to it in the list of numbers he gave me?" At that, all three of them perk up and crowd around Jinyoung's desk. He lifts the notebook and shows it to them, the little out-of-shape star next to the series of numbers.

"Aw, Jaebeommie is such a softie yet he still acts like he doesn't care," the last man, who looks like a foreigner and vaguely familiar says. Jinyoung feels like he should know him but can't place his finger on who he is or where he's seen him. But judging by how they're close enough to call Jaebeom by his name means they're probably pretty important people too so Jinyoung stays quiet and listens to them talk about Jaebeom's tsundere tendencies.

"Jinyoung-ssi, would you let my brother know we're here?" Youngjae's sudden question startles him slightly.

"He said to just let you in. I'll bring in the food later when it arrives," they give him a nod and he bows, watching them pile into the office. It's followed by shouts and laughter that makes Jinyoung smile, oddly enough. He then wonders how a real smile would look on Jaebeom's face. Would his eyes disappear when he smiles? Would he laugh out openly like Youngjae does or cover his mouth like that foreigner friend of his? Jinyoung finds himself wondering as he starts on his work again. It’s a weird thought and Jinyoung crinkles his nose when he realises that.

Maybe if you work hard enough and surprise him with your work one day, he might smile. Wouldn’t that be a huge achievement? Jinyoung muses to himself. And with that, the focus from earlier returns and he manages to be more productive than he's been all morning. The goal of impressing Jaebeom, whether knowingly or not, fuels him to do better and he finds himself actually enjoying reading through some of the paperwork.

He's three quarters through his work by the time the delivery man arrives with the food and Jinyoung realises he has no way to pay but his own money. Jaebeom hadn't issued him any card he could use or given him any form of cash so Jinyoung grumbles as he pulls out his own wallet and passes some bills to the man. He thanks him and leaves, Jinyoung's wallet empty as his bank account bleeds a little more. He curses Jaebeom and his stupid smirk for what feels like the tenth time that morning, knocking on the door and just walking in without a care. He's sure Jaebeom is familiar with his attitude by now anyway because the other man just raises an eyebrow at the packets of food Jinyoung brings in his hands. The other three make sounds of happiness and clap as Jinyoung brings the food over, setting it down on the coffee table where they're all gathered in front of. His flashes them a smile as they thank him, especially Youngjae who Jinyoung has come to like, but his smile falls and settles into a thin line when he catches Jaebeom's eye. Jaebeom has that stupid smirk on again and Jinyoung narrows his eyes at him, starting a staring contest that catches the attention of the other three. They glance between the two comically and it feels like there are lightning bolts shooting out both of their eyes.

"Jinyoung-ssi," Youngjae's voice snaps him back to attention and he tears his gaze away from Jaebeom, "Would you like to join us for lunch? There's way too much food here anyway," Youngjae says, pointing at the containers of rice, chicken, vegetables and whatever Jinyoung had ordered.

"What?! Youngjae!" Jaebeom's loud voice cuts Jinyoung's reply off. Jinyoung can't contain his eye roll now, crossing his arms and staring as Jaebeom gets up too.

"What? He hasn't eaten and we have so much food here. Besides, he's your secretary, not some total stranger," Youngjae pouts as he tries to reason out with Jaebeom. But Jaebeom and Jinyoung have entered another one of their staring contests and Jaebeom ignores Youngjae in favour of glaring at Jinyoung who glares back. It's awfully childish and Yugyeom and the foreigner watch in amusement as Youngjae sighs.

"Go do your work, Secretary Park ," And Jinyoung absolutely hates that way it rolls off his tongue like he's mocking Jinyoung - because he is.

"I was going to anyway, Mr Im ," and somehow Jinyoung manages to make it sound like he's mocking Jaebeom too.

"I'm sorry, Youngjae-ssi. But clearly someone doesn't want me to join you guys so I think I'll pass," Jaebeom doesn't miss the way Jinyoung avoids eye contact with him but feels the jab anyway. "It's okay, we can always eat together next time if you'd like. I'll go have lunch with Wonpil, enjoy your meal," Jinyoung says with a bow and Youngjae waves goodbye as he leaves anyway. There's a sort of satisfaction and pride as he walks off, not because he turned Youngjae down but because he had managed to get under Jaebeom's skin and make it seem like his fault that he was leaving. He takes it as a victory and hums to himself as he starts back on his work, pleased to find that he'll be done in about half an hour and be free to go for lunch.

 


 



"Jaebeom hyung! Why were you so mean?" Youngjae turns to his older brother immediately after Jinyoung closes the door. Jaebeom huffs in disbelief and sits back down, refusing to look at any of them.

"Yeah, Jaebeom. He seems nice, why are you so hard on him?" Mark asks, an amused smile on his face. Yugyeom laughs at the betrayed expression on Jaebeom's face - his hand is to his chest and mouth open.

"Oh come on, you guys just don't know him. You know what he said on his first day here? Jae, you were here right? Didn't you see how rude he is?" Jaebeom defends, hoping for his brother's help. But Youngjae only shrugs, a smile matching Mark's and Yugyeom's forming on his lips.

"Do you know him then? Because from everything I've seen far, you guys don't seem like you have any other form of communication other than yelling at each other," Mark teases and Jaebeom's scowl turns into a pout. He doesn't mention their interaction that morning, which was weirdly nice and Jaebeom actually enjoyed talking to Jinyoung for once. He doesn't know why but he feels like it's a secret he wants to keep to himself. He tells himself it's because he doesn't want any of them to start teasing him but it doesn't sit well with him. Either way, he ignores it in favour of killing Yugyeom because of what the younger man says next.

"Maybe there's just some sexual tension," And Jaebeom's getting up immediately to grab at Yugyeom's neck, the younger squawking and hiding behind Mark, who laughs his high-pitched laughter that Jaebeom is so familiar with.

"Brat. There's no such thing, I'm not like Mark hyung who gets with the first stranger he sees," Mark blushes various shades of pink and red and with that, the topic changes to the real highlight of their meeting that afternoon.

"So, did you top or what?" Jaebeom asks, pushing around the rice and meat in his container.

"Hyung!" Youngjae exclaims, looking scandalised. Yugyeom lets out a loud guffaw that has Jaebeom covering his ears and shooting him a glare. The younger only smiles back sheepishly.

"Well, depends on which round it was," Mark replies with a little smirk, his previous shyness gone around his loud friends. They let out unbelieving laughs and cheer, Mark going red till the tip of his ears. They spend the rest of lunch like that, endlessly teasing Mark and joking around. It makes Jaebeom feel young and free and himself when he's around his friends. He and his ego would never admit it, but Jaebeom would go to the ends of the earth for them. They mean so much to him and so do their opinions, so when they bid him goodbye and leave him to face the half-full containers of food left alone, he ponders on what Mark and Youngjae said earlier.

Was I too mean? But then again, he does deserve it for all that attitude he's given, doesn't he? But I could've been nicer, couldn't I? Should I check if he's eaten? No, he said he's having lunch with Wonpil so he should be fine. Why do I even care? But there's so much food left, it probably cost a lot. He did pay, didn't he? Argh Im Jaebeom, why are you such a dick sometimes? Come on, suck it up and go apologise, he sighs as the voice in his head tells him. All this thinking is giving him a headache and Jaebeom is not in the mood to throw his pride away for Park Jinyoung of all people.

"No fucking way am I doing that," he says to the empty room. He picks up the containers and throws them into the discarded plastic bag, tying it up and tossing it into his dustbin. He knows Jinyoung is going to be the one to clean it up later and the younger will definitely be annoyed but Jaebeom can't bring himself to care.

At least pay him back, you asshole, the voice tells him again. Jaebeom sighs and wants to yell in frustration. Sometimes, he wishes he didn't have a conscience and could live with being as much of an asshole as he wants to. Even though he is an asshole, he's a righteous man and hates to owe people anything, especially Park Jinyoung of all people. Hence, he sucks up his pride and opens the door of his office, peeking out to check if Jinyoung is at his seat. It's still lunchtime so Jaebeom isn't surprised, happy actually, that Jinyoung isn't around. He quickly moves to slip a hundred dollar bill under the notebook Jinyoung had left open, his neat handwriting filling the page. Jaebeom finds himself staring and admiring the neat characters that Jaebeom could never write. It fits Jinyoung's character, he thinks. He also laughs a little when he sees a little drawing of a stick figure that looks strangely like him lying dead on the floor with another one that looks like Jinyoung holding up a knife.

To think he's so childish, Jaebeom muses. On impulse, Jaebeom reaches for a pen and writes a small little note next to it.

I'm pretty sure secretaries aren't supposed to plot to kill their bosses, Secretary Park.

He lets out a satisfied hum and puts the pen back, stuffing his hand in his pocket and going back to his office before anyone can catch him. Call him childish, but Jaebeom thinks he has found a new hobby of teasing and annoying Park Jinyoung.

 


 



"He's so annoying! And so fucking frustrating and full of himself and he makes me want to either kill him or myself. Either way, I just want the three months to end. You know how much work he's given me? I've organised, highlighted and read through three fucking stacks of paper this morning. I had to stay up to remember his schedule yesterday. Do you see these eye bags?" Jinyoung seethes with rage and points at his eyes, Wonpil listening with an amused smile on his face. He stuffs another slice of beef into his mouth and Jinyoung rolls his eyes. They're at the office cafeteria, Jinyoung finally being able to get a break after finishing his work for the morning. It was halfway through lunchtime when he was done and texted Wonpil to meet him but he's proud of himself for being able to catch a break anyway. Every minute away from Im Jaebeom is precious and cherished. Jinyoung spends most of that precious time going off on long, loud rants about said man which Wonpil so very kindly entertains.

"Stop smiling, is my suffering that enjoyable? This is your fault too, by the way," Jinyoung points an accusing finger at Wonpil who only laughs.

"From what I hear and see it as, both of you are just two assholes who finally met your match. You're just not used to having someone who's as big of a dick as you are and be able to have comebacks to your remarks. So,  you feel frustrated," Wonpil shrugs, continuing to eat. Jinyoung's eyes look like they're about to bulge out of their sockets with how big they've grown.

"Wow, so much for supportive friends. You're becoming as useful as Jackson and Bambam are," Jinyoung grumbles and sticks a lump of rice into his mouth, chewing with more force than necessary. Even though Jinyoung says that, Wonpil does have a point. Ever since high school, Jinyoung’s been liked by literally everyone he’s met. He’s been able to charm them with either his wit or good looks or both, his smart choice of words helping him manipulate all conversations he takes place in and getting him what he wants.

"Aw thank you, Jinyoungie. But for real, isn't that what's happening? It's either that or he just wants to challenge you until you break. He has a habit of doing that," Wonpil says and Jinyoung scowls.

"What kind of CEO is he if all he wants is to break his employees? Is he a sadist or something? Or a sociopath? He makes no sense and it's getting on my nerves, Wonpil," Jinyoung whines a little, stomping his foot and picking at his chicken slices.

"Oh come on, Jinyoungie. You're just as bad as he is," Jinyoung reaches to smack his hand at that but Wonpil swats him off. "And to be fair, he can be nice sometimes. You just need to learn to manage him. He's like a cat, they act cold but are actually really soft on the inside. You just need to learn to get to that softness and you've won," Wonpil shrugs like it's the easiest thing ever.

"Have you reached that softness yet then?" Jinyoung asks. Wonpil shakes his head and Jinyoung lets out an exasperated sound from the back of his throat.

"It's only because he trusts me enough and I'm happy with that. Besides, I'm not you. You treat everything like a competition and you can't deny you enjoy getting under his skin as much as he does under yours. So I know you'll try to break him because that's you, Jinyoung," And Jinyoung goes speechless because Wonpil is so fucking right he doesn't know what to say to defend himself. He does enjoy annoying Jaebeom to no end, likes teasing and frustrating the older man whenever he can. And unknowingly, Jinyoung has made it a challenge to himself to break Jaebeom just like Wonpil said. He's so shocked at how easy he's been to read and wants to slap himself for being careless and easily wound up by Im Jaebeom.

"I'm right, aren't I? So what are you gonna do?" Wonpil asks. To Jinyoung's credit and relief, his friend doesn't tease him. Jinyoung is grateful and considers his question for a second, fingers playing with the little stubble growing on his chin. He hasn't had time to shave due to the short time he has in the mornings to get ready.

"I'll be the one to break him then. You know how much I hate to lose," Jinyoung says. Wonpil grins at him and he returns it, feeling better now that he's reached some sort of solution for this.

"That's the Jinyoung I know. Come on then, lunch is almost over and you ain't gonna break anyone if you're late," Wonpil says. They clear their trays and Wonpil walks him up like they did this morning, arms linked. Jinyoung feels determined to make this work now. It's a challenge and he never backs down, always hungry to prove himself. He bids goodbye to Wonpil who sends him a thumbs-up as good luck before settling back in his chair. He notices there's something different about it and immediately knows who's the culprit.

"I'm pretty sure secretaries aren't supposed to plot to kill their bosses, Secretary Park," he reads under his breath and feels heat flow to his cheeks at being caught. He then catches sight of the hundred dollar bill under the leather cover of the notebook and pulls it out, wondering if it really was from Jaebeom.

Maybe he has some conscience, after all, Jinyoung thinks smugly, taking it as a point to him in their unsaid competition. The intercom beeps as Jinyoung is shoving the note into his wallet, which thankfully looks less sad and miserable now that it's not empty.

"Bring me the reports. It's already lunchtime, Secretary Park," Jaebeom says and Jinyoung rolls his eyes again like it's a natural reply to everything Jaebeom tells him to do. It might as well be, considering how many times Jinyoung has rolled his eyes ever since he started working there. He picks up the stacks of paper and checks their order before going to knock on the huge wooden door, not waiting for a reply before entering. Unlike the first time, he walks in without a care and places the papers on Jaebeom's table. The young CEO just sighs and tells him to at least shut the door as he leafs through the documents Jinyoung has painstakingly arranged.

"This isn't right. It's supposed to be under the sales section, why is it with the spendings?" Jaebeom frowns and Jinyoung does the same. He swears he arranged them all correctly, even double checking to make sure. He moves to look over Jaebeom's shoulder, the document in fact under the wrong section. He mentally kicks himself for the slip-up and an apology is already at the tip of his tongue and spilling out before Jinyoung can think.

"I'll rearrange them and pass it back to you soon, I'm sorry," he says and reaches to take the documents back but Jaebeom stretches his hand out and holds them far from his reach. He looks down in shock and sees that instead of an angry expression on Jaebeom's face, he has a scheming smile on his face. Jinyoung gulps and thinks he might be in trouble this time.

"You have time to draw you killing me but you don't have time to check your work?" Jaebeom clicks his tongue and Jinyoung squeezes his eyes shut, dropping his hand and sighing. He knew Jaebeom would jump at every opportunity to tease him. Patience is key, don't be an ass, don't be an ass, he tells himself and opens his eyes to find Jaebeom's piercing stare on him again.

"I'm sorry, it was a mistake and it won't happen again," Jinyoung bows a little, hoping Jaebeom would just let it go. But of course, Jaebeom proves to be a sadist.

"Oh a mistake? The drawing or this?" Jaebeom waves the documents and Jinyoung grits his teeth. The smug look on Jaebeom's face just makes him want to start a fight even more, but he can't and he will not be the one to break first. None, working here was , he thinks in his head.

"Both. I'll redo it and throw that drawing away okay? Can I please have the papers back now, Mr Im?" he asks with all the politeness he has left in him. Jaebeom seems surprised that Jinyoung didn't retort with one of his usual snarky remarks. There's also an expression that crosses his face but Jinyoung can't recognise it before it's gone. His usual smirk is back as he hands Jinyoung's the papers.

"Thank you. I'll have these and the rest on your table by the end of the day. I've also booked your appointment for tonight at 8," Jinyoung says and gives a quick bow. He doesn't give Jaebeom a chance to say anything before he's out of the door and hurrying back to his seat where he wants to die of shame. Not only was it humiliating and a jab at his pride to have to say ‘Please' to Jaebeom, but it was also humiliating because he had messed up. Maybe the lack of sleep was really catching up to him. He decided to go grab another cup of coffee and prayed the caffeine would help him survive the rest of the day.

Or week.

Or month.

Or maybe three. Depending on how it goes and if he's still alive by then.

Chapter Text

When it hits the start of the second week, Jaebeom has thought of a plan to finally make Jinyoung crack. He came in that Monday and immediately called Jinyoung to his office, the younger following, confused. Jaebeom has never done this before, always choosing to start his torturing in the afternoon or at least until he’s settled down in his office. Jinyoung has to admit, he’s nervous and worried. What if he really fires me? I need this job, goddamnit , he thinks as he watches Jaebeom take a seat. The older’s dark pupils are as piercing as ever as he stares at Jinyoung in silence. Jinyoung starts feeling a little self-conscious - it’s the first time he’s wearing his spectacles to work today and he’s kind of given up on wearing fancy suits to work. He’s clad in a woolly blue and white sweater with black pants - it’s definitely less formal compared to the suit he turned up in a week ago.

He wouldn’t scold me about work attire, would he? Jinyoung thinks. Jaebeom is still just staring at him as if waiting for him to start the conversation. He decides to do so, clearing his throat as feeling the air around them tense up.

”Is there something you need, Mr Im?” he asks. He’s gotten used to the title by now and it rolls off his tongue with ease. Jaebeom seems to have snapped out of some trance but he hides it well, letting an embarrassed expression cross his face only for a second before it’s back to his usual smirk. He bends down to pull out a little black envelope and slides it across to Jinyoung, who picks it up tentatively.

Im Jaebeom

The letters are in a beautiful gold cursive and it feels more expensive than any other card Jinyoung has ever and will ever hold in his life. He looks up with an eyebrow raised, Jaebeom nodding for him to open it. It’s already opened - the gold wax seal separated neatly with a letter opener. He slides the black paper card inside out with careful fingers, the sides embossed with gold furls similar to the ones on the envelope. He reads the fine printing of white wording, his glasses helping him with the small letters. It’s an invitation to some gala on Wednesday night and Jaebeom is supposedly one of the guests of honour that night. Jinyoung is plenty confused now. Is he rubbing this in my face or something? he thinks. Jaebeom must see the perplexed look on his face because he’s pointing at Jinyoung and saying something that shocks him even more.

“You're coming with me so I want you to take my card and go buy whatever outfit you’ll need for the night. It’s an important event and the dress code is already written there, just come to work in whatever you buy and we’ll leave at seven. Got it?” Jaebeom asks once he’s done with his instructions. Jinyoung has his mouth agape, the card almost slipping from his fingers and Jaebeom finds it even more fun to tease him now. He doesn't give Jinyoung a chance to reply and slides his card to Jinyoung, who only stares at it like he’s never seen something like that in his life.

“Wait, are you serious?” Jinyoung asks after a long time.

“Yeah, do I look like I’m joking? Now take this,” Jaebeom pushes the card to him further. “and give that card back and go do your work. There’s still that report you owe me from yesterday,” he reminds and it’s like a switch in Jinyoung is flipped and he’s reminded of how to actually talk now.

”Ah, yes, sir. I’ll bring it in for you later. Is that all?” Jinyoung asks, picking the card up but still looking at it like it’s a foreign object. He carefully meets Jaebeom’s eyes like he’s half expecting the other to shout ’Surprise! You aren’t actually invited, I just wanted someone to buy me a suit!” but Jaebeom does none of that, only shaking his head and flicking his wrist for Jinyoung to leave. Jinyoung gives an awkward bow and takes his leave before he embarrasses himself further, letting out a deep breath once he’s back in his seat. He immediately pulls out his phone and sends a text to Bambam, the only person he’ll ever trust to style him well.

 

From: Dab Idiot

Wait are you for real hyung?

To: Dab Idiot

Yes dumbass. I’ll meet you after work tomorrow somewhere

From: Dab Idiot

YES okay meet me at that huge mall next to Seoul Station at 6:30

From: Dab Idiot

By the way, there’s no budget, right?

To: Dab Idiot

I have a bad feeling about this already.

From: Dab Idiot

Hehehe this is gonna be so fun :)

 

Jinyoung lets out an unbelieving laugh and shakes his head at his younger friend. There’s a weird feeling in his chest - like he himself can’t believe it either. Im Jaebeom, inviting him to follow to an important event like that? Jinyoung knows it’s part of their deal and his job scope to follow the CEO to meetings and appointments but he definitely didn’t expect something as big and as fancy as this. One part of him is secretly excited to be at a big event like this where he would never be able to attend on his own. Another part, the cautious, anxious side of him, doesn’t want to go at all.

There’s gonna be a lot of powerful people there, Park Jinyoung. There’ll be wine and everything too, people are gonna get drunk and touchy and you know what that can lead to. Plus, Jaebeom is gonna attract a lot of attention, what if someone approaches you or something? But then again, I’m not anything special so why would they? Just a secretary accompanying his boss to a social event, no worries. It was years ago, get over it already, Jinyoung tells himself and he sighs, eyes falling shut and head falling into his hands.

The memory of pain - hot and sharp and piercing in his belly, clouds his mind and makes it hard to breathe for a second. It comes before he can stop it and the sound of sirens blaring ring faintly in his ears, forming a cacophony with the shouts. He sticks his fingers in his ear tightly, hoping to block it out but inevitably failing. Flashes of that day appear in front of his eyes like sudden bursts of light behind his eyelids. He squeezes his eyes tighter, clenching his jaw and praying for it to stop. His prayers are answered when someone touches his shoulder and he jolts up, gasping and feeling air re-enter his lungs in bated breaths.

“Yah, were you sleeping or something? It’s barely nine and you’re tired already? What kind of a secretary are you, Park Jinyoung?” Jaebeom’s voice is muffled by the constant ring in his ears and Jinyoung doesn’t reply. He focuses on taking long, deep breaths until the black spots at the side of his vision disappear after a while. He can’t come up with an excuse nor can he tell Jaebeom the truth, so he simply keeps quiet and waits for the scolding to come. It does, Jaebeom lecturing him on workplace attitude and what the secretary of the CEO should be acting like. Jinyoung doesn’t have the energy to argue or even glare, only nodding and apologising. He reads Jaebeom’s schedule in a monotonous voice and Jaebeom shoots him a weird look before he goes back into his office.

For the rest of the morning, Jinyoung goes through the motions and completes his work quicker than usual, simply doing what has to be done and submitting it. His brain doesn’t let him think about anything else, subconsciously afraid and avoiding thinking about that repressed part of his memory. Moments like those happen sometimes and Jinyoung just feels so fucking vulnerable for hours after.

He hates it.

 

 


 

 

Jaebeom goes back to his office after getting his schedule, fingers scratching his chin and thinking. What the hell was that with Park Jinyoung? He definitely wasn’t sleeping. Heck, he was barely breathing properly. And you just stood there like an idiot and even scolded him. You must be the world’s biggest asshole , Jaebeom tells himself as he sits back in his chair. He can’t bring himself to even look at the documents Jinyoung had submitted without thinking and worrying about the younger now. They lie in a pile on his table, organised by coloured tags with Jinyoung’s neat handwriting on them. Jaebeom reads the little Hangul characters over and over again, finding himself smiling at how he quirks the end of his strokes and makes it look cute like a high schooler’s handwriting. He then wanders back to how scared Jinyoung had looked earlier; eyes squeezed tight and upper body curled up into itself.

It’s a stark contrast to the usual Jinyoung - snarky and confident and everything that isn’t what Jaebeom had seen earlier. When Jaebeom had scolded him, he hadn’t even glared or rolled his eyes. And the usual richness and calmness in his voice had been replaced by some robotic tone and Jaebeom found himself hating it. Did something happen to him? He’s been holding back on all his comebacks this week and now this? Ah, he’s really gonna make me lose my mind , Jaebeom huffs. He’d decided to invite Jinyoung along to test how the younger would react in such a public and important event, knowing how many of his previous secretaries had racked under pressure and quit. Jaebeom hates to think that’s the reason why Jinyoung had acted the way he did, but a part of him already thinks so.

He sighs and decides to cast the Jinyoung problem aside for now. No one’s gonna benefit if both of them start acting differently on the same day anyway. But even as Jaebeom starts on his own pile of paperwork - eyes trained intently on his computer screen and fingers darting over the keyboard, a small part of him is still thinks about the younger man sitting outside his office.

I hope he’s okay.

Even if Jaebeom would never admit it to anyone, himself included.

 


 

Jackson tugs Bambam by the arm, the Thai man yelping holding on to the door frame of Jackson’s front door. The Hong Kong man doesn’t seem to bother about closing the damn door because he’s insistently pulling on Bambam’s arm with an excited smile on his face. Bambam feels like his poor left arm is about to be torn from its socket with the amount of strength the muscular man is using on his skinny arm.

“Hyung wait! I haven’t even closed the door yet, calm down. Mark hyung isn’t running anywhere,” Bambam huffs with an annoyed eye roll. His friend seems to finally realise that fact and shoots him a sheepish smile, backtracking and letting Bambam close the door. The electronic lock whirrs and chimes when the door is finally locked. They start off at a more leisurely pace now, Jackson letting his hold on Bambam’s wrist slip to link their pinkies. Bambam lets out a fake disgusted ‘Ew’ but hooks his finger around Jackson’s anyway, even swinging their arms slightly as they walk to the elevator.

Jackson’s penthouse is located in Gangnam-gu, near his workplace so it’s a short commute. Bambam lives about ten minutes away from him and they go on shopping trips often, the place being famous for selling designer brands that they both like. Like today, for example. The pair has arranged to meet up with Mark and Yugyeom; not so much a double date but two wingmen and a couple. It makes it all the more fun since Bambam and Yugyeom have now become best friends after hours of texting and calling, followed by hanging out and just living like two twenty-two-year-olds. They were also the ones who convinced their hyungs to go on a date. But of course, Mark being the usual shy man he is had asked for Yugyeom to tag along, resulting in Jackson bringing Bambam. Jackson had then proceeded to whine to Jinyoung for hours about how he’d have to deal with Bambam more now that Jinyoung was barely free to hang out due to his job. Jinyoung, being the amazing best friend and person he is, had just laughed and wished them a fun time.

Hanging out with Bambam hadn’t been all that bad, except for the times when the younger would ‘forget’ to bring his wallet and Jackson would end up having to pay. It wasn’t that he couldn’t afford it; being a rapper with another hit song just released gave him quite a good pay. But Bambam loved ; lived for it actually - spending money on clothing and accessories that he had tons of already. He was a fashion designer after all. Speaking of fashion, the pair attracted quite some looks as they walked down the street to the cafe they were meeting the other two at. Bambam was in a salmon pink shirt that revealed his collar bones and pale skin with tight beige pants. He’d worn a beret out today, a beige one to match his pants and even a little makeup, cheeks dusted in orange and eyes lined with black. Jackson had given up his usual cap and tracksuit look that day, hair styled nicely with a little fringe to the side. He’s wearing his gold frame glasses and a white flowy shirt with its front tucked into black jeans that hugged his thighs. With his face shown for everyone to see, some fans soon gather around them and flashes of the camera are heard as they make their way down the street. Some call his name while others stand in awe at how good they both look. Bambam soaks up all the attention and even gives a movie star wave which Jackson mimics, earning a slap to the thigh.

They tease each other as they walk, ignoring the people around them and getting lost in conversation. Jackson lets out a loud laugh and Bambam snickers as they walk into the cafe about ten minutes later, the cool air conditioning feeling warmer than the cold air outside. It’s nearing fall now, the weather getting breezier and leaves turning various shades of yellow and orange. It’s the perfect kind of weather that’s good for dressing in big, oversized sweaters and cuddling. That’s exactly what Jackson wants to do when he catches sight of Mark. He and Yugyeom are seated by the side, each a steaming hot cup in front of them. They don’t notice Jackson and Bambam at first, immersed in their conversation. Mark is moving his arms around as he talks, long sweater sleeves covering his skinny hands and only showing his fingers. Jackson gets lost in the way he smiles and the vampire-like teeth that show when he smiles at something Yugyeom says. Bambam calls his name a few times, having to tap out him to get his attention.

“Wouldn’t it be better to actually talk to him instead of just looking?” Bambam teases and Jackson blushes, choosing to walk towards them instead of replying. Yugyeom catches sight of them first, lighting up and waving frantically when he sees Bambam. Bambam does the same and he crashes into the seat next to Yugyeom, both talking so quickly the older two have no idea what’s going on. Jackson takes a cautious seat next to Mark, smiling in a way he hopes shows how happy he is to be here. Mark gives a shy smile back and Jackson melts. Their little moment is interrupted by Bambam letting out an undignified mix of a yell and squawk followed by Yugyeom’s chicken-like laughter.

“We have to go shopping later. No way are you going to that event in that horrible outfit,” Bambam says, pointing at Yugyeom’s phone. Curious, Mark and Jackson lean over to see what Bambam is talking about. It’s not horrible per se, but Bambam does have exquisite taste and high standards when it comes to fashion choices.

“Ah, is this for that gala on Friday?” Mark asks, remembering the invites that had came in the mail that morning. Yugyeom nods and Bambam lets out another weird sound effect.

“Wait, Jinyoung hyung mentioned about it to me. Will Im Jaebeom be there or something? Jinyoung hyung is his secretary and he said Im Jaebeom invited him and also asked me to help him choose an outfit,” Bambam says.

“Wait. Jinyoung as in, that man who came into Jaebeom hyung’s office that day? And hyung invited him even after he told us he hates this Jinyoung guy? ” Yugyeom asks, Mark shrugging.

“Maybe they do have sexual tension after all. Jaebeommie’s got lots of explaining to do,” Mark wriggles his eyebrows and him and Yugyeom burst into laughter.

“Wait, wait. I’m lost. You guys know Im Jaebeom? Jinyoungie complains about him all the time. He calls Im Jaebeom ‘The Devil’ that gives him loads of work and shortens his lifespan every day,” Jackson quotes from his most recent texts with Jinyoung, which haven’t been a lot considering the man barely has personal time now.

“That sounds about right. They had this stare-off right in front of us and I’m pretty sure Jinyoung  is the first person to ever have the guts to do something like that,” Mark laughs.

“And now they’re gonna be at the gala together? Oh boy, now I’m so looking forward to it,,” Yugyeom snickers.

“Good, because I’m gonna make you the best-looking person there is by the time I’m done. You did bring your wallet right?” Bambam asks, poking Yugyeom’s side. Yugyeom’s about to reply but Jackson’s loud groan cuts him off.

“Not again! Bam, my legs really aren’t made for window shopping, please don’t make me do this,” Jackson positively begs, eyebrows pressed together in an expression that resembles real pain. Bambam shoots him a glare and kicks him under the table, Jackson yelping in real pain this time.

“Why? Is he that bad?” Mark asks, sharing a confused look with Yugyeom. Bambam smirks and cracks his knuckles, Jackson only sighing in defeat.

“Today’s gonna be a good day,” the Thai native decides triumphantly.

Jackson thinks he should just go home at this point.

 


 

Yugyeom stares with his mouth agape as Bambam hands him yet another suit from the rack, the hangers from the previous five already making red marks on his skinny fingers. He desperately wants to dump all of them into a shopping basket or something but knows it would crumple the expensive material and Bambam would kill him for it. The suit this time is a peach colour - just a few shades lighter than Bambam’s shirt. Yugyeom thinks it would go well with his newly dyed black hair and tells Bambam so, hoping the older would be done with it. Jackson and Mark have wandered off to the arcade since Mark’s just letting his usual stylist pick out his suit and doesn’t have to go through what Yugyeom is going through at the moment. Yugyeom wants to go join them but apparently, his dear best friend has other things planned.

“Yeah but that maroon one looks good too, doesn’t it? And there’s also the navy one, y’know the first one we picked,” Bambam asks and Yugyeom hums in reply. It’s not that he hates shopping, just that he doesn’t really care when it comes to formal events. Can’t I just throw on a plain black suit and be done with it? The dress code literally says ‘Suit and dress shoes/loafers/business wear’ , Yugyeom begrudgingly thinks. Bambam seems to have spotted another outfit and has speed-walked to another rack, eyes shining as he holds up another suit.

It’s a bright red one, a stark contrast to the previous more sensible colours they’ve added to the pile. Bambam stares at it like it’s the most precious thing ever and Yugyeom lets out an amused chuckle at his best friend. Bambam pushes the suit into Yugyeom’s chest and he holds it, letting Bambam guide him to the fitting room. The assistant by the door shoots them a judging look and stares at the number of suits they’re trying but doesn’t say anything else. She hands Bambam a number plate with a big black ‘7’ on the front. He thanks her and leads Yugyeom to the nearest changing room, shoving him in and hooking the number plate by the door.

“Try each one and come out when you’re done. I wanna see,” Bambam says, taking a seat on the little stool by the side. Yugyeom sighs and doesn’t argue that it’ll take too much time, choosing to listen and just do whatever Bambam wants. He’d worn a black t-shirt that day which wasn’t really fitting with a suit but he works with it anyway. The first one he tries on is a classic black one. It hugs his skinny shoulders nicely and he opens the door for Bambam to see once he’s done.

“Too normal,” Bambam says, shaking his head in disapproval. Yugyeom sighs and changed again, into a grey one this time. Bambam says the same thing and rejects the next few suits, saying they’re either ‘Too normal’ ‘Not your type’ or whatever fault he finds in them. Yugyeom is now left with the bright red one and he’s pretty sure Bambam would choose this one, considering how the older looked at it earlier. When he slips it on, he surprisingly likes it a lot. It isn’t the best match with his black shirt but he can picture it paired with a white shirt and loafers. Bambam seems to think the same way because he lets out a little gasp when Yugyeom steps out of the room, a little smile on his face.

“You look...good. Like, really good,” Bambam comments, coming up to examine him. His skinny fingers come up to adjust the collar and suddenly Yugyeom is hyper-aware of how close Bambam’s face is to his. The only time they’d been this close had been that night they met - both slumped against each other and too buzzed to care. But Yugyeom is perfectly sober now and he can feel Bambam’s breath near his neck and how his fingers are separated from Yugyeom’s skin only by thin material. The older’s eyes are focused on the said suit and he, thankfully, doesn’t see how Yugyeom’s face flushes almost as red as his suit.

“Buy this one, Gyeommie,” Bambam says, patting his shoulders and letting out a satisfied hum. He steps back and gives another nod, as to confirm his verdict.

“Isn’t it too...bright for a formal event?” Yugyeom asks, stepping back into the changing room.

“It’s a suit, isn’t it? Plus, I don’t think anyone will have any rights to criticise how you look when you probably look better than all of them,” Bambam says with a shrug. Yugyeom barely contains his blush and chooses to shut the door, hands coming up to touch his cheeks once he’s alone. He turns around and catches sight of how pink they’ve gone, only from a few compliments from his best friend.

What the heck is wrong with me?

 


 

Jackson cheers as Mark makes another shot, the basketball going cleanly into the hoop. The American grins and quickly reaches for another one, firing off shot after shot. His score is already higher than the previous one, beating the record with almost ten seconds left. Jackson cheers again as Mark makes the final shot, ball bouncing off the side of the rim and into the hoop. 165 , the red, digital numbers read.

“Hyung! That’s like enough to get a prize, since when were you so good at basketball?” Jackson asks excitedly. He’s bouncing around like a little kid and Mark thinks Jackson is the most adorable at times like these.

“I used to play back at home, with my neighbours. Do you want a prize? I’ll get you the one you like,” Mark says, reaching down and tearing the tickets that were generated off. Jackson lights up and tugs Mark to the counter, immediately pointing at the huge stuffed Squirtle hanging on the rack. Mark grins and hands the cashier his tickets, using up all of them in one go. Jackson lets out a happy sound (He’d never admit it’s a squeal, he’s supposedly too manly for that.) and hugs the toy tightly. Mark is a little sweaty and tired after all that shooting, but seeing Jackson happy like this makes it all worth it.

“I’m glad you could make it today, Jacks,” Mark says once they’ve walked out of the arcade. “I had a lot of fun,” The tone of his voice is so genuine that Jackson lets his grin fade to a smaller, but equally sincere smile. He reaches for Mark’s hand and gives it a tight squeeze.

“I wouldn’t miss our first date for anything,” Mark’s smile falters for a second at that and Jackson rushes to explain.

“I mean, we don’t have to date or anything yet! But I hope you know how much you mean to me, hyung,” and Mark knows how much Jackson means it with all his heart in the way the younger looks into his eyes, just like the first time they met. Those same brown orbs that never tell a lie tell him exactly how Jackson feels and Mark feels the same way.

“You too,” Mark mumbles, cheeks heating up and thumb tentatively coming to rest on Jackson’s own. Jackson grins - boyish and just so real that Mark feels the walls around his heart crumble yet again. He seems to have a way of doing that, doesn’t he? So much for being ‘The Ice Prince’, huh? Mark thinks as he listens to Jackson talk about how cool he thinks Mark looked earlier. And warmth - not the one he felt earlier from sweating but the kind you read about in stories when something new blossoms between two people; the kind that keeps you up at night thinking about it. It spreads throughout him from his fingertips and all the way to his heart where it stays for the rest of the day.

Chapter Text

Jinyoung yawns for what feels like the hundredth time that day, stretching and feeling a satisfying crack in his back as he finally finishes up his work for the day. He happily closes all the tabs on his laptop and shuts it off, closing it with a smile. He scans his table, ticking off a mental checklist of his workload for the day. Finance proposal - done. Edit Jaebeom’s speech for the meeting - done. Print out new name cards - done. File up paperwork - done. Arrange Jaebeom’s schedule for next week - done. That’s all right? He thinks, flipping open his notebook again just to double confirm. The satisfaction he feels from looking at those ticks next to his writing brings a smile to his face and he resists the urge to give himself a well-deserved pat on the shoulder. He’s finally getting off work at a reasonable timing today, having to go off and get his outfit for tomorrow’s gala. Jaebeom had also given him permission to leave once he was done with his work since Jaebeom’s schedule was also fairly empty for the evening. Jinyoung just had to submit the last few folders to Jaebeom’s office and then he was free for the day. He slings his bag over one shoulder, laptop securely tucked into his bag and files in one hand as he uses the other to knock and push the door open.

Jaebeom is focused on looking at his big computer screen, typing quickly and not bothering to look up at all. Jinyoung carefully slides the files on his desk, not wanting to disturb him. He’s also partially worried Jaebeom would stop him and hand him more work if they have any form of interaction. He turns to leave as quickly as possible, hand almost touching the metal handle; so close to freedom.

“Yah. You’re leaving and you didn’t even bother saying goodbye to your boss?” comes Jaebeom’s deep voice from behind him. Jinyoung lets his hand drop back to his side and he sighs inwardly, eyes squeezing shut and slowly turning back to face Jaebeom.

The older is still looking at his computer screen but there’s an amused smile on his face that makes Jinyoung huff in annoyance. He basically stomps over, arms crossed as he stands in front of Jaebeom’s desk. The other man is still not looking at him and Jinyoung is so fucking close to breaking and just snapping at him.

Calm down, you know breaking is what he wants. Get a grip. Say goodbye and then you’re free, Jinyoung thinks and takes a deep breath, gritting his teeth. He clears his throat and Jaebeom finally looks up, head coming to rest on his hand and an innocent smile on his face that they both know is fake.

“Yes, Secretary Park?” Jaebeom has the cheek to ask and Jinyoung wants to reach over and knock his hand out from under his chin.

“I’ll be leaving now. Have a good night, sir,” Jinyoung grits out, willing himself to give a short bow. Jaebeom seems satisfied enough and he bids Jinyoung goodbye, reminding him to get a good outfit for the gala. Jinyoung quickly rushes off this time, brisk walking all the way to the elevator in case The Devil has any other plans to hinder him again.

He lets out a breath as he finally leaves the office, feeling the cool evening air of Seoul hit him. It's about six-fifteen in the evening, a little time left for him to walk to the mall and meet Bambam. He decides to take his time, normal walking speed slowing to a stroll as he appreciates the personal time he finally has to relax. The streets are getting busier as night time approaches, many people coming to the heart of Seoul for its many restaurants and bars. Jinyoung hums a little tune to himself as his shoe crunches against the pavement, watching the many couples and single people like him bustle their way through the crowd. He keeps to the side, where fewer people are trying to push their way through to get to their destination on time. Jinyoung doesn't mind being a little late, he's sure Bambam wouldn't be on time anyway.

Another gust of cold wind blows by, Jinyoung hugging his brown coat closer to his body. His baggy pants do little to keep the wind from making contact with his bare legs and he shivers a little, hands rubbing up and down his forearms. Maybe I should just hurry up, it’s much better to be early and wait rather than die freezing, Jinyoung thinks. He starts to quicken his pace,  easily weaving his way through the crowd on light footsteps. He makes it to the mall in a record of five minutes, sighing happily as the warm air hits him and engulfs his whole body. He pulls out his phone as he walks, checking the time and texting Bambam to let him know he’s here.

 

To: Dab Idiot

I’m by the front of the entrance, where the heck are you?

From: Dab Idiot

Reschunh sion byt itd haerd to tyoe witg mt fingwrd ibn a gkovw.

 

“What the heck is he doing now? I swear this idiot,” Jinyoung mutters under his breath, shaking his head as he tries to decipher Bambam’s message. He’s midway through giving up when his phone dings with another text from Bambam.

 

From: Dab Idiot

Hey hyung, sorry about that. I was wearing gloves and Jackson hyung insisted on holding my other hand so I had to type with only one.

To: Dab Idiot

Wait, Jackson is coming too? Since when?

 

“Why? Am I not allowed to want to hang out with my best friend? It’s been like two weeks since I’ve seen you, Jinyoungie. I’m hurt,” comes Jackson’s voice from in front of him. Jinyoung looks up and immediately smiles, stuffing his phone in his pocket and walking up to give his friends a tight hug. They return it, Bambam’s skinny arms digging into his back while Jackson’s sturdiness holds them steady. It’s quite the sight - three grown men embracing in the middle of a mall. Jackson’s a celebrity, mind you. But the familiarity of his friends bring warmth to his heart and he laughs, loud and open when they pull apart.

“Of course you’re allowed to, Sseunie. I missed you both too,” Jinyoung admits. It’s been way too long since he’s interacted with anyone outside of the office and it’s nice to be around the people he loves once in a while. His parents live far from him and he doesn’t have the time to visit them regularly anyway. The last time was probably Chuseok and it was only for a few days, which isn’t much in proportion to a whole month of not seeing them. He sets a mental note to video call his mother later to tell her about his new job, once he gets back home. If it isn’t midnight by then and I’m still sober, that is, he thinks. Jackson and Bambam are known to be a little wild when they’re together and Jinyoung lets them get away with dragging him on their little adventures more often than not. They seem to be doing that right now, tugging Jinyoung by each arm to the first store on Bambam’s itinerary for the day.

It’s a normal store that sells tailored suits which probably cost as much as Jinyoung’s monthly salary. He subconsciously pats his pants pocket, his wallet containing Jaebeom’s card stuffed deep inside. I hope Bambam doesn’t go out of control with his spending today, that Devil might cut it from my pay or something. But then again, he did say I could get whatever outfit I needed, right? Besides, what’s a few thousand to him? He’s basically a fucking millionaire, Jinyoung thinks, nodding to himself slowly. Jackson notices the action and links arms with him, face coming close and making Jinyoung flinch away in surprise. Jackson lets out a laugh and Jinyoung rolls his eyes fondly.

“Whatchu thinking about?” Jackson asks, fingers reaching to feel a random suit. It’s pure black and a classic that Jinyoung’s wore before. But judging by the pale blue suits Bambam is looking at, the fashionista won’t be going for anything ‘classic’ any time soon.

“Just work and stuff, nothing much,” Jinyoung replies, shrugging a little. Jackson hums in thought, mouth opening and closing before he settles on something to say.

“Work or that so-called ‘Devil’ boss of yours?” Jackson asks, a smirk coming to his face. Jinyoung immediately groans when he sees it and swats at Jackson to cut it out.

“Don’t smirk, you’ll remind me of him. It’s annoying that even when it isn’t work hours, I’m still doing something somewhat related to him,” Jinyoung replies. Jackson strokes his imaginary beard and Bambam walks towards them, hands stuffed in his pocket and a scowl on his face.

“Well, Mark hyung and Yugyeom say he’s actually quite nice once you get to know him. Plus, the fact that he’s inviting you to this event means he might wanna know you too?” Jackson says, eyebrow raised.

“Im Jaebeom? Oh, he’s definitely into you hyung. It’s either that or he’s at least interested in some way. If he isn’t, I’ll shave my hair off,” Jackson and Jinyoung both snort, knowing Bambam would rather die with his hair intact than shave it off any day. “But before we discuss the sexual tension you have with your boss, let’s go somewhere else. I can’t stand the fake leather in this shop,”

The next place Bambam drags them to is a Gucci store. Jinyoung feels out of place in his sweater and messenger bag but Bambam and Jackson walk in like they own the place. The items in this shop now cost more than Jinyoung will earn in his three months of work and he feels a little bad about spending so much on just one suit. Bambam, on the other hand, clearly doesn’t. He makes a beeline straight for the suits with loads of diamonds stuck to the front; the material various shades and textures Jinyoung didn’t even know could be made into a suit.

“Would he look better in purple or blue?” Bambam asks. For a moment, Jinyoung opens his mouth to ask who but Jackson’s voice cuts him off.

“I think blue. But it’s a little too normal, isn’t it? And if you want everyone at the gala to drop to their knees when they see our Jinyoungie, we need something more... glamorous ,” Jackson replies and Bambam nods after some thought, putting down the two velvet suits he’s holding.

“How is that not glamorous enough? It’s velvet ,” Jinyoung points out. Bambam and Jackson exchange a look before sighing, Jackson clapping him on the back like he’s disappointed.

“Oh, Jinyoung hyung. Let us handle this, you just gotta flash that card once we're done. Besides, I think I've thought of the perfect outfit for you already," Bambam says, tugging him by the arm out of the store. His hip bumps into the corner of a display table harshly and he winces, pinching Bambam to let go. The younger yelps, Jackson laughing and throwing his arms over their shoulders, inserting himself between them.

“Let’s go dress you up, Jinyoungie,” Jackson grins and Jinyoung thinks there’s an underlying tone of mischief in his voice. Bambam’s already leading them to another store in search of his ‘perfect outfit’ and Jinyoung’s pretty sure he’ll have to call his mother tomorrow at this point.

 


 

It turns out Bambam’s ‘perfect outfit’ is only found three stores later. By the time Bambam has finally settled on which goddamn shade of white ( Jinyoung can’t really tell the difference between the four Bambam had picked, all he knows is they’re white and he has to be careful not spill anything tomorrow.) Jinyoung should wear, Jinyoung’s stomach is growling and his brain is barely functioning due to lack of food at this point. The last time he’s had something to eat was lunch and that was at least seven hours ago. He sighed and checked his watch again, 8:47. Bambam was still talking to Jackson about which shirt Jinyoung should wear underneath, a deep blue one in his right hand while a brown one is in his left. Jinyoung personally likes the brown one more but he lets Bambam choose it anyway. He's holding the suit in his hand, an off-white one that is crisp and neatly ironed out. He flips the tag over, eyes going comically wide when he sees the price.

920,000 won? For a single suit? Jinyoung thinks, quickly flipping the tag back so he doesn’t have to stare at it anymore. Jaebeom’s gonna kill me. Even if he said to get whatever I wanted, isn’t this a little too much? I should just put it back before Bambam and Jacks find out, he thinks as he shuffles to the side. He keeps a wary eye on his two friends who are still debating about the shirt as he inches closer to the nearest rack of white suits to his left. He’s so close to hooking the hanger back on the metal bar, face scrunched up in concentration as he tries to make it as soundless as possible.

“Hyung, are you trying to put it back?” comes Bambam’s voice from behind him and he jumps, earning a snicker from Jackson. Jinyoung sighs and retracts his hand, giving up.

“Is this about the price? ‘Cause I’m sure a million won is peanuts to a man like Im Jaebeom. He owns multiple houses and runs a whole company hyung, stop feeling bad,” Bambam waves a hand at him, reaching to take the suit from Jinyoung in case he tries to put it back again.

“Yeah. Besides, doesn’t he overwork you or something? Then just take this chance and treat yourself using his money, Jinyoung-ah. It’s not like he doesn’t know, anyway. So what’s the harm?” Jackson reasons out and Jinyoung can feel his resolve crumbling. Im Jaebeom had given him permission. He had been overworking Jinyoung these past few days, too. Plus, Im Jaebeom had willingly invited Jinyoung, so there’s no harm done. Right?

“Fine. Give me that shirt and suit, I’ll go try it on. And then can we go eat? I’m hungry,” Jinyoung pouts a little as he rubs his stomach. The grumbling has gotten worse and he thinks he might collapse if Bambam drags him to another store after this one. The other two nod, Jackson handing over the brown shirt and Bambam, the white suit. He takes them and happily goes into the changing room, feeling some newfound energy return to his bones at the thought of finally finishing up the shopping.

He shuts the door and tosses his bag on the little stool provided by the side, hanging up the suit and shirt. He quickly toes off his shoes and slips his shirt off, shuddering a little as the cold air from the air conditioner hits his bare skin. He quickly moves to remove the brown dress shirt from its hanger and slips it on. The fabric is surprisingly smooth for cotton, feeling almost like silk against his chest as he buttons up. He rolls up the sleeves once neatly, letting the buttoned end rest at his forearm. It’s a good size that shows off his newly built arm muscles and slightly broader chest now that he’s been working out more. They’ve gone down a little due to him skipping the last two weeks at the gym but he figures he looks pretty good anyway.

He takes off his jeans next, changing into the pristine white suit. As expected from Bambam’s fashion sense, it does go well with the brown shirt. It’s a nice contrast that makes him look classy and rich - almost like those people that were going to be attending the gala tomorrow. The white pants make his legs look longer than usual and the colours compliment his skin tone and dark brown hair well. The jacket is also comfortable and thin enough so Jinyoung won’t be sweating to death tomorrow night. Overall, he just feels and looks as rich and powerful as Jaebeom is.

He can’t wait for it to be over.

Now don’t get Jinyoung wrong, he’d love to act rich and stuff himself with expensive full-course meals for the night. But he’d hate to have to interact or even be in the same room as those people who only want to be at the top, are money-faced and mostly have horrible character. And by horrible character, Jinyoung means stuck-up people who think they’re above everyone else just because they live more comfortably. Working for Jaebeom and calling him ‘ sir’ in the office is already a huge jab at his pride. Doing that in public in front of all those esteemed guests (Read: arrogant people that Jinyoung dread) is gonna be on a whole new level. If Jinyoung is lucky, Jaebeom might end up hating everything more than he does and they’ll get to leave earlier. It’ll be a win-win situation - Jinyoung gets to save himself from embarrassment and Jaebeom gets to go back to being a workaholic in his lonely office.

Jinyoung prays luck will be on his side for once.

 




Jaebeom gets to the office bright and early the next day. He’s there at least ten minutes earlier than usual and he’s pretty sure Jinyoung isn’t at his seat yet. He’s proven right when he walks past the row of tables and sees Jinyoung chatting with Wonpil and Youngjae, a cup of coffee for each of them. They don’t notice him at his place by the entrance and Jaebeom takes the chance to rake his eyes over his secretary’s outfit for the day.

How does he look so good in that brown shirt? Why the hell is that okay? I wear those colours and Youngjae calls me a farmer, of all things,   Jaebeom thinks and curses under his breath. He knew from day one that Jinyoung looks like he walked straight out of a magazine but this really takes it to a whole new level. The younger’s princely looks paired with that suit have turned him into this sexy, classy looking man and Jaebeom thinks it’s unfair how someone can be so handsome in everything. He looks down and furrows his eyebrows at his own outfit. When he’d picked his suit that morning, he thought he’d just go with the classic black-on-black sleek look and be done with it.

He definitely didn't expect Jinyoung to turn up looking like he'd be going for a photo shoot instead of a gala. He should've listened to Mark's advice and actually put in effort in his outfit for once. Other than his triangular necklace and two rings, he'd only worn his usual hoop earrings and called it a day before he left. He subconsciously twists his ring on his index finger behind his back as he walks towards them, suddenly feeling a little nervous. Wonpil catches sight of him and his eyes go as big as golf balls, hurriedly tapping on Jinyoung's shoulder. The man in question turns around and Jaebeom nearly fucking trips.

Up close, Jaebeom can see the little streak of black at Jinyoung's eyelids, lightly winged out to the sides perfectly. His hair is perfectly tousled to his natural centre parting, the short black roots peeking out under the brown. His skin looks unbelievably flawless and glowy under the harsh office lighting and what the hell have I gotten myself into? Jaebeom inwardly sighs. Jinyoung seems to notice his little falter in his steps and has reached out an arm to catch him if he falls, eyes lined with a hint of worry. Jaebeom waves him away and steadies himself, taking in a deep breath to calm himself.

You’re acting like some teenager, calm down. You’ve got a whole day to go, you can’t start messing up now, Jaebeom berates himself and clears his throat.

"Hyung! You're here early," Youngjae greets him with his bright smile and Jaebeom feels himself relax into a small smile.

“We were just talking about you, actually. Well, not you, specifically. But the guests that will be at tonight’s gala. I was telling Jinyoung hyung about...” Jaebeom has trouble listening to anything after ‘hyung’ because when had they become friends? Had Jinyoung started sucking up to his younger brother or something? Jaebeom can’t help the scowl that comes to his face at the thought and Youngjae stops mid-sentence. He looks like a child that’s been scolded and doesn’t know why. Jaebeom notices and wants to say something but Jinyoung beats him to it and has an arm on Youngjae’s shoulder before Jaebeom can even move to speak.

"Youngjae-ah, I'm sure your brother needs to get to work now since it's already eight but I'll catch up with you later if you'd like, okay? Pil-ie has a meeting during lunch anyway so we can eat together like I promised last time," and with that, the smile on Youngjae's face has reappeared. He looks positively excited and as bright as he was before, if not brighter. Jaebeom feels a stinging guilt and a tinge of jealousy. He should've been the one to comfort Youngjae. In fact, he shouldn't have made Youngjae feel bad at all.

And of course, Park Jinyoung had to step in and manage to make things right in a blink.

As if Jaebeom needed another reason to be annoyed at the secretary.

Said secretary waves goodbye to both of them, a smile on his lips that Jaebeom has never had the honour of putting on his lips. He realises then, that Jinyoung never seems to smile around him at all. The fact that Jinyoung immediately drops his smile when they’re alone in the elevator seems to prove it even further. Jaebeom thinks back to his previous interactions with Jinyoung and all he can see is either a glare, a fake smile or a blank expression on Jinyoung’s face, nothing more, nothing less.

Another pang of guilt hits him. Maybe I have been too mean, Jaebeom thinks, a little remorseful. He watches Jinyoung's back as the younger quickly exits the elevator when they reach their floor, following out slowly like Jinyoung's some creature he's never seen before in his life. Jinyoung doesn't notice or at least acts like he doesn't. He simply dumps his messenger bag on his chair, takes out his notebook and goes back to stand in front of Jaebeom, like he always does in Jaebeom's office. Jaebeom realises again that he's spaced out and Jinyoung is waiting to read out his schedule.

“Ah, go ahead,” Jaebeom so eloquently replies. Jinyoung raises an eyebrow but does so anyway, his rich voice filling the silence with ease. It feels weird now that there’s no table in between them and they’re both standing. Jaebeom notices a few things, like how they’re both about the same height, him being only a little taller. He notices how straight Jinyoung stands, not slouching like Jaebeom often does. His hands are also bigger than Jaebeom’s - Jaebeom has surprisingly short fingers while Jinyoung’s are longer and thinner.

It makes Jaebeom wonder if Jinyoung plays the piano or any musical instrument. Or if he likes music. If he does, what genre? Do they share the same music taste? Do they have anything in common? And Jaebeom has another realisation just as Jinyoung finishes reading out his schedule. I don’t really know him at all, huh? Guess Mark hyung was right after all, and the thought deepens the guilt a little more; carves the pit in his gut just that much deeper.

“If there’s nothing else, I’ll go back to work,” Jinyoung steps back and bows a little, turning on his heel and walking off before Jaebeom can stop him. He sits back at his desk, taking out his laptop and files and setting them on the table. His eyes seem to be looking but not really reading as he types and it reminds Jaebeom of a robot. Jinyoung has never really smiled around me, has he? And the guilt from earlier is back, wave after wave and crashing into him as he finally wills his feet to move. Jinyoung doesn’t even look up as he walks past. Jaebeom casts one last apologetic look his way - lips turned down and heart feeling weirdly heavy - before he goes into his office where he stays for the rest of the day.






Chapter Text

“Marketing stocks...check. Revenue...check. Everything’s in order right?” Jinyoung mumbles to himself as he scrolls through the document. It’s his last piece of work for the day before he and Jaebeom have to leave and he’d like to spend a day work-free for once. He’s been meticulously reading through and double-checking everything for the past five minutes, determined to make it perfect. He clicks ‘save’ once he’s done and lets out a satisfied smile. He checks his watch, it’s about ten minutes to seven and he figures he should pack up before getting Jaebeom.

Speaking of Jaebeom, Jinyoung is confused. Usually, Jaebeom would summon Jinyoung into his office to complete whatever useless task he could think of just to annoy Jinyoung. He’d make Jinyoung make him coffee ( Black with a packet of sugar ), make him print some documents or just call him and ask him some questions Jinyoung’s pretty sure Jaebeom knows the answers to. But for the whole day, the intercom has stayed silent and Jinyoung’s getting a little worried. He’d gone in a little after lunch to submit some folders for an upcoming event and Jaebeom hadn’t even spared him a glance.

Is he angry? But why would he be, I didn’t do anything. Unless that’s why he’s angry. Did I miss out something today? Jinyoung frets internally as he packs up his things. He isn’t the neatest person when it comes to his belongings, usually just dumping whatever papers or files he gets wherever there’s space. His pens and highlighters are hidden under some pages, the small container where they’re supposed to be kept is empty where it stands next to his laptop. There are tons of tabs open too and Jinyoung sighs as he hastily closes them. He shuts off his laptop and unplugs the charger, coiling up the cable before stuffing it in one of the table drawers.

I did everything he asked and he didn't seem to ask for anything more so it wouldn't make sense if he's angry. But if he isn't angry then what is he? Is he a teenager or something, going through stupid mood swings like these, Jinyoung grumbles as he picks up his stationary and sticks them into their container. He gathers the papers and arranges them as well as he can, before giving up and just sliding them under some folders for him to arrange next week. He stuffs his laptop and notebook in his bag before grabbing his empty coffee cups and tossing them in the bin under his table. There are empty biscuit wrappers inside from his little snack breaks and crumbs litter the floor from where he'd dropped one earlier. Lunch with Youngjae was more of a mini ranting/advice-giving session regarding Jaebeom, so by the time lunch was over Jinyoung had barely eaten half his bowl of noodles. He enjoyed talking to Youngjae though - he was a natural listener and gave as much advice to Jinyoung concerning his brother as he could. They'd even promised to eat together next time if their schedules allowed it.

It's seven by the time Jinyoung knocks on Jaebeom's door. The gala starts at eight and Jaebeom hasn't told him to book a car or anything so he hopes they can get a taxi in time. He walks in as always, mildly surprised to see Jaebeom's table cleared and him using his phone on the couch. Jinyoung gulps as he sees that Jaebeom has taken off his jacket and his sleeves are folded up to his elbows. The material seems to strain against his broad chest and firmly built arm muscles. Jinyoung has to tear his gaze away before he says or does something stupid. Why does he look so good but act like such a jerk? Jinyoung wonders as he clears his throat to get Jaebeom's attention.

“Have you booked a car?” Jaebeom asks without looking up. Shit.

"N-no, you didn't tell me I'd need to. I can book one right now," Jinyoung moves to pull out his phone but stops when Jaebeom stands. He gulps again, nervously this time. Up close, Jaebeom looks infinitely more intimidating. His steely gaze seems to bore into Jinyoung's and straight into his soul. Sometimes, it feels like he knows everything that's going through Jinyoung's mind.

“That’s fine, I was planning to drive us there anyway. Wait for me by the elevator,” Jinyoung is genuinely surprised but does so anyway, walking out and pressing the elevator button. He’s driving? So I’m gonna have to sit in the same space as him the whole time? It’s gonna be so awkward, oh my god, Jinyoung cringes as he imagines the silence that he’ll be experiencing later. He isn’t an introvert by any means, but that doesn’t mean he’s able to joke and talk to anyone like Jackson or Bambam can. He prefers to think and observe before he talks and he’s pretty sure Jaebeom is the same, judging by how Jaebeom acts in meetings or around clients.

Jinyoung-ssi, ” Jinyoung wants to melt into the floor at the way Jaebeom says his name but also since when did he call me that? "The elevator is here and we wouldn't want to be late, would we?" and Jaebeom sounds impossibly close, his voice right by Jinyoung's ear and Jinyoung jumps. He whirls around and Jaebeom has his signature smirk on yet again.

“Ye-yeah,” he stutters slightly and he swears he hears Jaebeom chuckle. They stand side by side in the elevator, Jinyoung pink in the face while Jaebeom stands comfortably, weight resting on one leg as he adjusts his rings. It's neither tense nor comfortable silence and Jinyoung feels like he should say something but doesn't know what. The elevator finally dings open and he follows Jaebeom out, staring at his broad shoulders as he mindlessly follows him to his car. The silence doesn't seem to bother Jaebeom, like all the other times Jinyoung has followed Jaebeom to his meetings. It's simple - Jaebeom leads, Jinyoung follows. So why do I feel like this should be different? Jinyoung frowns a little as they walk into the carpark. Jaebeom’s car is a black BMW that’s parked right by the entrance in a lot that’s reserved for him only. Jinyoung watches silently as Jaebeom unlocks it and slides in, unsure where he should be sitting.

"Do you want me to open the door for you or something, Jinyoung-ssi?" comes Jaebeom's voice as he rolls the window at the passenger's seat down.  His head peeks out from under and he has a little teasing smile on his lips that shouldn't be so attractive. Jinyoung thinks it is anyway.

"Ah, no. Sorry," Jinyoung mumbles and he ducks his head to hide his pink cheeks. He opens the door and slides into the seat next to Jaebeom, taking his time to buckle his seatbelt and hoping his blush has gone down. His cheeks definitely feel cooler after a minute but he still avoids looking in Jaebeom's direction. The heavy silence is back and Jinyoung wonders if he should say something to break it. He's so focused on thinking that he gets another shock when Jaebeom calls him.

“Did you choose that outfit yourself?” he asks, eyes still focused on the road in front of them. Jinyoung takes a moment to realise he’s talking about the new suit and lets out an ‘Ah’ once he has.

“No, my friend Bambam did. He’s a designer so I trust his fashion sense more than mine. Why? Is it weird?” Jinyoung self-consciously toys with his sleeves, fiddling with the ends where they rest at his wrist.

“No, you look...proper. For once this week, that is. Was it expensive? You used my card, right?” Jaebeom asks and it has to be right at the moment they pull up to a red light. Jaebeom turns his head to look at Jinyoung and Jinyoung wants to sink into the plush leather seats. He’s gonna ask me to pay it back, goddamnit. I shouldn’t have listened to Bam and Jacks, now I can kiss my paycheck goodbye, Jinyoung gulps and he can feel Jaebeom’s gaze burning a hole into his.

"I'll pay you back?" Jinyoung cringes again at how awkward he's sounding today, with all the stuttering and mumbling and unnecessary yelping. The light turns green and Jaebeom's attention is thankfully guided back to the road as he steps on the gas pedal.

"Is that a question or a statement?" Jaebeom lets out a breathy chuckle. "And I gave you my card, right? So you don't have to pay me back, I told you to come anyway. So just...calm down. You're being really jittery today," Jaebeom says and the blush kicks in immediately. The embarrassment from being caught knocks the previous ones out of the water. Jinyoung is pretty sure he's pink all the way to the tips of his gigantic ears now.

“Yes, sir,” he replies, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. Come on, Park Jinyoung. Pull yourself together. Where did confident and sassy Jinyoung go, hmm? Jinyoung thinks and he slowly feels his heartbeat go back to normal. He slowly but surely relaxes a little into the leather seats which are definitely more comfortable than the train’s plastic ones.

“Feeling better, Jinyoung-ssi?” Jaebeom asks after he sees that Jinyoung has returned to his usual state of calm. Jinyoung nods slowly, biting his lip unsurely because Jaebeom has stuck to calling him by his name now, even though they haven’t completely dropped the formalities. Am I supposed to call him by his name too? Jinyoung ponders as Jaebeom drives. He finds the silence now less awkward, but there’s still an air of difference now that they’re sitting less than two feet apart and are out of the office.

What the hell does he expect from me? Ah, I’m gonna go crazy from thinking by the time tonight ends, Jinyoung curses in his head. Jaebeom seems blissfully unaware to his inner turmoil as he drives and Jinyoung wishes he could only know what the other man was thinking for once.

 


 

 

Yugyeom lightly taps Mark awake once he's pulled the car to a stop outside the lobby of the hotel. There are already a bunch of guests there and many cars are waiting in the queue behind him. The valet assigned to them is tapping his foot impatiently as he stands outside Yugyeom's door, waiting to drive the car over to the assigned parking lot. Mark finally stirs from his sleep, blinking his eyes groggily as he blindly grabs for Yugyeom's hand. The younger does him a favour and holds his wrist, pulling him up to a proper sitting position from where the passenger seat is leaned backwards.

“We’re here already? That’s quick,” Mark comments, yawning at the end of his sentence. Yugyeom would be annoyed if it was anyone else but he knows how hard his hyung has been working the past week ever since his father, Raymond Tuan, had landed in Seoul for his yearly visit. The father and son have a good relationship and Mark just puts too much stress on himself to be perfect and make his father proud during that one week. Yugyeom knows how much sleep his friend has been losing and so he replies as nicely as he can while having angry people honking at them from behind.

"Yeah, we are. We have to get out now, hyung. There are other people behind us waiting. Come on," Yugyeom says, unbuckling Mark's seatbelt and ungracefully swinging his car door open, almost hitting the valet in the leg. The man shoots him a scowl and Yugyeom shrugs innocently, simply walking to the other side to drag Mark out. To his credit, the American has already gotten out and is busy arranging his hair using Yugyeom's rearview mirror, flicking the freshly dyed indigo strands lightly until they land the way he wants them to. He straightens when Yugyeom walks over and flashes him a blinding smile, pointy teeth and all.

“Let’s go then,” Yugyeom says, tilting his head in the direction of the lobby. He tosses the valet his keys, a warning look in his eyes before he and Mark are walking up the grand, marble steps and into the red-carpeted lobby. Contrary to the entrance, it’s fairly empty and Yugyeom guesses it’s probably because most guests are already in the function room, considering the fact that the gala was going to start in a few minutes.

“Hyung, do you have the invitations?” Yugyeom asks, looking around for directions to the function room. Mark doesn’t reply him, eyes glued to his phone and a goofy smile on his lips. Yugyeom huffs in annoyance and stomps his foot like a child, yet Mark still doesn’t look up.

"Mark hyung!" Mark snaps to attention, hands flying to his chest and effectively covering the screen of his phone, even though Yugyeom already knows who it is. "Invitations? Jackson hyung can wait, he isn't going to fight a war or anything, you know. It's just a two-hour flight," Yugyeom rolls his eyes as Mark sheepishly hands him the black envelopes from his jacket pocket.

“Yeah but still! He didn’t sleep much yesterday because he had a gig and they’re making him fly off for another schedule today. Of course, I have to comfort him or something," Mark defends, fingers moving over his phone as he types a reply to Jackson.

“Y’all should just make it official already, Bammie and I are tired of watching you two pine,” Yugyeom says. Mark immediately pauses in his steps and typing and Yugyeom can’t fucking believe it.

“You guys are together?!” His voice comes out high and way too loud, attracting the stare of a nearby bellboy. Mark clamps a hand over his mouth and shoots the bellboy a bright smile, nodding at him as he ushers Yugyeom towards the entrance of the function room.

"And you didn't fucking tell me? Does Jaebeom hyung even know? Since when? How? What is this, I feel betrayed! I'm supposedly your closest friend after Jaebeom hyung. I literally see you every day and you didn't even tell me?" Yugyeom rambles in a hushed tone as they walk. Mark ignores him all the way until they reach the function room. He flashes their invitations to the security guards standing outside and raises his hands up for a security check, nodding for Yugyeom to do the same. The younger man sighs but does so anyway, mouth falling shut but eyes still accusing Mark as they get checked. Once they're deemed clean and let into the room, Yugyeom is spitting out words like his life depends on it again.

"So who confessed? You? Or him? Did you meet or was it over the phone? How have I not been-" Mark lets out a strangled groan and shushes Yugyeom, sticking a finger to his lips. They're in a much more crowded area now and if news of someone as well-known as Mark dating gets around, there's going to be a lot of trouble.

"I planned on telling you guys after my dad left, even Jaebeom doesn't know yet. You know what happened with Joey, I don't want that to happen to Jacks and I," Mark whispers, finger falling from Yugyeom's lips as he crosses his arms. Yugyeom's mouth forms an ‘O' shape as he nods like he's understood the situation now. And that's probably because he does. Joey is Mark's younger brother who runs a smaller sister company of the one Mark is in charge of. He'd been fine until Raymond had found out he'd been neglecting his work because of a new girlfriend and Raymond had not been happy about it. It resulted in Joey having to make a choice between work and relationship and that is not one Mark wants to make. He isn't worried about the fact that he's gay, because he came out long ago. He's more worried about what will happen after he makes a choice, especially when it's a choice he knows his father will not be happy with.

“Then consider my lips sealed. But speaking of Jaebeom hyung, where is he? I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be late to any event,” Yugyeom asks, looking around. Mark does the same, eyes scanning the crowd until they land on a man who’s dressed in full black and is standing by the buffet table.

Bingo.

He drags Yugyeom by the arm, not stopping until he reaches Jaebeom and positively scares his friend by clapping him on the back harshly. Jaebeom yelps and turns. His face is set in a glare that turns into a pout when he realises it's Mark. He rubs his shoulder where he's been hit and feigns pain, groaning like an old man.

“Great acting, you should quit and go be an actor instead, hyung,” Yugyeom teases and Jaebeom reaches for his neck to pull him into a chokehold. Yugyeom yelps and whines, apologising as he taps on Jaebeom’s forearm to tell him to let go. Mark stands by the side, watching and laughing at Yugyeom’s suffering.

That’s exactly the scene Jinyoung returns to.

He’d gone to search for something non-alcoholic, knowing he’d be shit-faced if he drank anything more than three glasses of the fancy wines. He totally hadn’t expected to return and see his usually stoic boss strangling someone and the someone happens to be the man that had come previously to the office. The same foreigner, the guy Jinyoung now recognises as Mark Tuan after seeing and hearing Jackson talk about him for hours , is by the side laughing and clutching his stomach. He approaches them cautiously, an amused smile on his face.

He's never seen Jaebeom like this before, used to his more serious demeanour. This Jaebeom is a stark contrast. He has a boyish smile on his face that makes him look infinitely younger; eyes forming into lines as his perfect pearly whites show. He doesn't spot Jinyoung yet as he busies himself with strangling his friend. Jinyoung takes the chance and admires this look of happiness and youth that he might never have the chance to see again.

“Jinyoung, right? I’m Mark Tuan, Jaebeom’s friend. Nice to meet you,” Mark says, extending a hand to him.

"Nice to meet you too, Mark-ssi. I've heard a lot from Jackson," At the mention of Jackson, Mark blushes a scarlet red that almost matches Yugyeom's suit. Jinyoung stifles a laugh as the redhead buries his burning face in his palms.

“I can’t believe Jacks told you already. He was supposed to tell you next week! Ah, that man, really,” Mark sighs but Jinyoung knows fondness when he hears it.

“You can’t really trust Jackson to keep his mouth shut, it’s kinda impossible with him. I’ve tried and failed for years now,” Jinyoung jokes and is mildly surprised when Mark bursts into laughter. He remembered reading headlines of the elder being known as an introvert that rarely talked to strangers. Guess it’s the effect of knowing Jackson, Jinyoung thinks with a little smile. He knows how much of a ray of sunshine his best friend can be and Jinyoung himself gets affected by his constant buzz of energy all the time. He can’t imagine what dating Jackson Wang must feel like.

“I see why Jackson says you’re really sassy now, Jinyoung-ssi,” Mark says and there’s a shy smile on his lips. It sparks a little hope in Jinyoung - maybe he might make a new friend today. And of course, the moment is ruined by Jaebeom calling his name in a less than happy voice.

“Yah, where were you? I was waiting for like five minutes,” Jaebeom says, frowning as he lets go of Yugyeom’s neck. The younger man immediately scurries to hide behind Mark and whine to him about how much his neck hurts and what a bad person Jaebeom is. He could have just gone to get his own drink then, if he’s so fucking impatient, Jinyoung thinks as he hands Jaebeom his wine glass. He seems satisfied by Jinyoung’s choice of wine after he takes a sip, nodding and licking his lips.

“Did you get vodka or something?” Jaebeom eyes Jinyoung’s drink, the colour a bright pink that looks more like some cocktail than fruit punch.

“No, I get drunk easily so I don’t wanna drink tonight,” Jinyoung replies. Jaebeom seems to take in a consider the information, his eyebrows knitting where they start. He wants to say something but gets cut off by Yugyeom, who seems drunk even though he hasn’t even had a sip of alcohol.

“Jinyoung, right? I’m Kim Yugyeom, Bambam tells me a lot about you. Can I call you hyung?" the youngers asks, all up in Jinyoung's personal space again. Jinyoung takes a cautious step back and Jaebeom reaches his arm in between them to stop Yugyeom from getting any closer. He doesn't know why, but he doesn't like Jinyoung feeling uncomfortable. He tells himself it's just so Jinyoung doesn't end up hating coming tonight even more than he already might, ignoring the voice that whispers ‘ Liar!’.

“Aw hyung, you’re no fun. Let Jinyoung hyung live, tonight’s supposed to be fun, you can live without him for a while," Yugyeom pouts and Mark nods in agreement, wiggling his eyebrows at Jaebeom. Jaebeom doesn’t know what the fuck it means but he doesn’t like it one bit. He narrows his eyes and turns to Jinyoung instead.

“Do you want to go dance? I’ll let you off for tonight if you really want to, you need to relax anyway,” It’s Jinyoung’s turn to narrow his eye now. Since when was he this nice? But I guess one dance wouldn’t hurt, right? Besides, Mark-ssi seems nice and Yugyeom’s probably like a second Bambam anyway, it’s nothing harmful. Go live a little, Park Jinyoung, Jinyoung thinks to himself.

“Are you sure, sir?” Jinyoung asks even as his feet carry him further from Jaebeom and towards Mark and Yugyeom, who is bouncing excitedly.

“You obviously want to go dance, Jinyoung-ssi. I’ll call you if I need anything,” Jaebeom waves him off and Jinyoung bites his lip, a little worried it’s gonna be another prank. But Jaebeom waves with a little smile and Jinyoung lets himself get tugged away by Yugyeom, Jaebeom fading into the crowd.

 


 

 

“Jinyoung hyung! Jinyoung hyung!” Yugyeom cheers and Mark whoops, Jinyoung already regretting his decision. He’d stupidly agreed to a bet with Mark and Yugyeom - whoever lost in a game of RPS had to down a shot of whatever the other two ordered. And with his shitty luck, Jinyoung had obviously lost and had to take the shot. It was a horrible colour of deep red edging on brown and Jinyoung was not looking forward to the burn of his throat.

"Let's go, Jinyoungie!" Mark cheers and Jinyoung tips the glass back, cringing as soon as the bitter liquid touches his tongue. It burns more than any other alcoholic drink he's ever drunk and he shuts his eyes, gasping as he finishes. He immediately reaches for his glass of fruit punch and downs it in one go, feeling better as the sweetness takes away the bitterness. He feels like he's burning up already. God, why did he agree?

“That was super cool, Jinyoung hyung,” Yugyeom complements, a cheeky grin on his face as he sips his own weird drink.

“Uh huh, sure. When I start feeling it tomorrow morning, I’m blaming you, Yugyeom,” Jinyoung says, shutting his eyes and groaning. I should really learn to have some self-control. Or at least how to hold my liquor better, Jinyoung thinks hazily.

“Well, at least you’ll be loose enough to dance now. Let’s go, Jinyoungie. You have to see Yugyeommie dance,” Mark laughs and pulls Jinyoung by the wrist to the large open area away from the bar. It’s not a proper dance floor and the music isn’t loud or hype enough for any dancing, but Yugyeom doesn’t seem to care as he starts moving his hips to the beat. Jinyoung watches in minor shock as the man grinds on the goddamn floor . A crowd has gathered around them now and they’re cheering for Yugyeom, some even joining in the fun.

“Is this allowed?” Jinyoung yells to Mark over the noise, worried about how their reputation could be affected.

"Oh yeah, Yugyeom always does this. No one really cares, it's all for fun anyways. You should dance too, Jinyoung," Mark says and Jinyoung lets out an embarrassed laugh, covering his mouth and shaking his head.

“Aw, come on Jinyoung. Don’t be like Jaebeommie, he’s already boring enough,” Mark nudges him again, pouting. And Jinyoung blames it on the alcohol and peer pressure when he lets out a small nod, Mark whooping and shoving him on to the dance floor. Yugyeom catches sight of him and pulls him along immediately.

"Move your hips, Jinyoung hyung! You've got that ass for a reason!' Yugyeom basically yells into his ear. Jinyoung winces a little but does so anyway, a little awkward and shy at first.  People don't seem to notice him and he moves more confidently, letting the music and buzz in his head take over. And soon, people are cheering too and he and Yugyeom dance together in the centre, a weird mess that somehow feels coordinated. Jinyoung feels like he's floating as he laughs, not caring as Yugyeom lets out another weird sound by his ear this time. He's so lost in the moment that he doesn't notice someone coming up behind him until a pair of hands grab at his hips and he jerks away.

“What-” Jinyoung starts but his voice gets trapped in his throat as he realises it’s a man in a suit, eyes glazed over as he looks at Jinyoung like he’s a meal. The man is about forty, judging by the bad fashion sense and greying hair on his head. Jinyoung is a good few feet away and he can smell the alcohol from the man’s breath as he lets out a greasy smile. Jinyoung immediately feels sick to his stomach and he’s pretty sure it isn’t because of the alcohol. He looks around for Yugyeom or Mark but his friends are lost in the crowd of people and Jinyoung is left alone.

“Hey, don’t be scared. Why’d you stop dancing? You looked so good earlier,” the man mutters as he steps closer to Jinyoung. Jinyoung takes a step back and bumps into someone, nearly falling over as his legs feel like jelly all of a sudden. The faint ring of shouts and sirens are back and suddenly, Jinyoung feels like he’s trapped underwater and can’t fucking breathe . He clutches at his shirt and looks around frantically; everything looks like squiggles of colour and the sharp pain in his belly is back again. The man keeps walking closer, keeps talking but Jinyoung can't hear any of it - only sees his lips moving and curling into a sickening smirk. They're almost face to face now, Jinyoung being pushed forward by the crowd. He feels helpless and weak, like a deer being presented to a wolf. A hand encircles his wrist and Jinyoung shuts his eyes, bracing himself for whatever to come.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" comes a familiar voice and Jinyoung opens his eyes. And instead of the man's old, wrinkly face, he's staring at a pair of broad shoulder and he can finally breathe . Air enters his lungs in slow, deep breaths. He's glad for Jaebeom's grip on his arm because his legs still aren't working with him.

“Mr Im? Ohhh, is he your new toy? Come on, let’s share, yeah?” the man raises his eyebrows and Jinyoung feels Jaebeom’s grip on him tighten even further.

“He isn’t some toy, he’s a person who doesn’t belong to anyone,” Jaebeom grits out, chin jutting out and Jinyoung can see the knot in his jaw, can feel the anger radiating off him in waves.

“If he isn’t anyone’s, that means I can have him right?” the man retorts, hiccuping at the end of his sentence. They’ve gotten the attention of many people now, the people who were dancing all stopping to look over. Jinyoung spots Mark and Yugyeom walking over and he lets out a sigh of relief.

“Let me rephrase that, yeah? He’s my secretary,” Jaebeom reaches forward and jabs the man in his chest, “so don’t you dare touch him,” Jaebeom’s voice is cold and sharp, anger seeping through so strongly that even Jinyoung holds his breath. But the man is probably another state of drunk and he actually laughs. Jinyoung prays for his life.

"Hear that everyone? Mr Im Jaebeom here is in an affair with his secretary! Go tell all the reporters! The Im Family is ruined!" he announces and lets out a laugh before he hiccups again. Jaebeom's face has turned even darker if it's possible. Mark and Yugyeom have walked over by now and their faces all show plain disgust . Jinyoung feels his face burn but he’s more worried about Jaebeom now. He knows how bad his temper is.

“Hey, Jaebeom-ah. Call your dad here to settle it for you again, isn’t that what he-” the man gets cut off as Jaebeom lunges for him, seeing red and having enough of it. Mark and Yugyeom yelp and grab him just in time before he can reach the man’s face. The man seems barely scared as he lets out another laugh followed by hiccups.

Jinyoung is plenty disgusted now.

“Let me go, Yugyeom-ah,” Jaebeom growls, still glaring daggers at the man. Jinyoung steps forward and puts himself in Jaebeom’s line of vision, hands planted firmly on his shoulders as he tries to hold him back. The man opens his mouth to say something else but a loud voice cuts him off again.

"What is going on here?" and out of the crowd a man emerges, gaze as steely as Jaebeom's. The anger on Jaebeom's face immediately melts and gives way to shock, arms hanging limply by his sides. Mark and Yugyeom seem equally surprised. In fact, everyone does. Only Jinyoung seems confused, eyebrows knitted as he drops his hands. The man is definitely someone powerful, considering the fact that he made even Jaebeom shut up. Is that his…

“Mr Im! Glad you’re here, please educate your son better. He nearly punched me earlier for just striking up a conversation with his secretary! Isn’t this kind of behaviour unreasonable?” the drunk idiot is still talking and Jinyoung sends him a glare of his own.

“Mr Yoon, I hardly believe that’s the case here. My own secretary has informed me of what has happened and I heard your loud announcement earlier. Something about my family being ruined, was it?” Mr Im clicks his tongue and the gesture reminds Jinyoung so much of Jaebeom.

"Wh-what? Oh, no there must be some misunderstanding! I would never," Mr Yoon says, suddenly looking much soberer. Heck, he's even sweating and Jinyoung is in awe at how scary Jaebeom's father is.

"I'll see that your contract with my company is cancelled. Expect a call from my employee tomorrow," Mr Im states. Mr Yoon falls to his knees immediately, begging and spitting out a load of rubbish that Jinyoung can't help feeling a little bad. Mr Im simply turns on his heel, not caring when Mr Yoon spits curses at his back.

Father , I-" Jaebeom starts but stops when his Mr Im puts a hand up to silence him.  Jaebeom clamps his mouth shut and drops his head in shame.

“We’ll talk about this tomorrow. I expect you to be at dinner, along with your brother,” Mr Im says, the coldness and formality scaring Jinyoung. Is this how they talk all the time? Are they even father and son? Jinyoung wonders, feeling a shiver run down his spine as Mr Im casts him a look as he walks past. Everyone bows as he walks out, a silence falling over the crowd until the doors shut. Jaebeom's eyes are still downcast and Jinyoung hates the look of shame on his face.

And like a switch that is flipped, everyone starts whispering and pointing.

“...held his hand,” “Stepped in and…” “...punched Mr Yoon in…” Jinyoung shuts his eyes as he hears the whispers, the voices that sound all too familiar in his head. A tightness closes around his lungs again and he stumbles a little, legs giving way again now that the whole incident has ended. A pair of hands grab at his hips again but this time it's gentle and warm. It's nothing like the drunk man's touch.

“You okay?” Jaebeom asks worriedly, voice sounding tired but still caring. Jinyoung wants to fall into his arms and just feel safe for a second, but he resists the urge and nods, stabling himself.

“You should take Jinyoungie home,” Mark says, concern in his voice.

“But the people-”

"We'll take care of it, Jaebeom hyung. Just get home safe," Yugyeom reassures him and gives Jaebeom's shoulder a tight squeeze. Jaebeom gives a grateful smile to his friends before he leads Jinyoung out, hand tight around his elbow as he walks. He makes sure Jinyoung is by his side and shoots a glare at anyone who stares as they walk past, his gaze scaring them off. They make it to Jaebeom's car, Jinyoung shakily strapping himself in and leaning his head against the plush leather seats, eyes shut.

It's funny how he finds it so much easier to breathe in the small space of Jaebeom's car as compared to in the huge room. Silence falls around them but it isn't awkward nor tense. In fact, it's more comfortable than earlier and Jinyoung feels his head start to clear a little. He opens his eyes and sees that they're in the heart of Seoul, near their office. Many stores are still open and the bright neon lights feel oddly calming.

“Feeling better?” Jaebeom asks, eyes still on the road as he drives.

“Yeah. Thank you, for earlier,” Jinyoung says softly, hoping his voice can convey how thankful he really feels.

"You're my secretary, Jinyoung. Of course, I'd protect you," Jaebeom replies like it's the easiest thing in the world to say. It warms Jinyoung's heart and he hums in reply, not even minding that Jaebeom's gone from calling him Secretary Park to Jinyoung in one day. The moment is ruined by a loud rumble and Jinyoung looks down, embarrassed.

“Hungry, are we?” Jaebeom muses, an amused smile on his lips.

“I didn’t eat much for lunch and Yugyeom and Mark hyung dragged me off to drink only,” Jinyoung explains, cheeks flushed.

“Let’s stop by somewhere then. It’s barely nine anyway, most of the stores are probably open,” Jaebeom says. There’s a flash of realisation in his eyes as he stops at a traffic light. He turns to Jinyoung and is he blushing? Oh my god, am I imagining it? Jinyoung wonders as he squints a little.

"That is if you're okay with it? It's fine if you don't want to, I can always drop you home," Jaebeom mumbles as scratches his neck. Jinyoung blames it on his alcohol-induced brain; on the buzz and excitement he gets from seeing the nightlife in Seoul.

And maybe, just maybe, because he’s a little curious about Jaebeom.

"Let's go eat," he says. The small smile on Jaebeom's lips as he turns on his blinker feels like the best reward Jinyoung could ever get.

Chapter Text

The shop they end up in is quite unlike what Jinyoung had imagined it would be. He'd expected some fancy, five-star restaurant when it came to Jaebeom's tastes, not the little barbeque place they ended up in. It was those roadside kinds of shops, a cosy place at the end of a stretch of road. The place smelt like delicious, freshly grilled meat and soju - the kind Jinyoung preferred over the fancy wines served earlier.

Jaebeom seems to be a regular here and the old lady at the counter greets him immediately when he walks in. They exchange greetings and Jinyoung sees Jaebeom blush and duck his head when the friendly ahjumma pets his head even though he’s a good head or two taller. Jinyoung hears something about Jaebeom not visiting enough and the pout on the old lady’s face makes him grin a little.

He takes the restaurant in; it’s pale wooden floors and walls feel warm against his touch. The tables are set low with barely much space between them, just enough for someone to walk through. Several posters cover the walls, mostly of beer advertisements with famous actors in them. There aren’t that many people, only a young couple at the table by the door. Jinyoung thinks Jaebeom would like some privacy so he walks to the table at the sectioned side of the shop, where it’s quieter and warmer. The red cushions are plush when he sits cross-legged, his pants riding up a little to expose his ankles. His jacket is folded neatly by his side, his sleeves rolled up and buttoned at his elbow.

Jaebeom appears a few minutes later, a small grin on his face. He shrugs his jacket off and messily folds his sleeves too, Jinyoung’s eyes trailing the movement quietly. He diverts his attention to the menu right when Jaebeom’s eyes flick up to his. The younger misses the way Jaebeom’s lips curl into an amused smile, eyes busy with reading the menu that suddenly seems so interesting.

“Is it okay if I order for us?” Jaebeom asks. Jinyoung looks up and nods immediately, internally relieved. He can’t seem to focus on anything but Jaebeom now that they’re in such close proximity again. Jaebeom smiles, his eyes forming slits and lips almost disappearing as they press together. Why does he look like a cat or something? Jinyoung thinks. He barely listens as Jaebeom rattles off their order to one of the waiters, mind wandering off to how Mark and Yugyeom are doing. He snaps out of it when Jaebeom calls him.

“Do you wanna order a drink?” he asks, both him and the waiter looking at him expectantly.

"Soju, please," he replies. Jaebeom raises an eyebrow and Jinyoung can tell he already has something to say.

“You sure you wanna drink something alcoholic? After everything that happened earlier, I assumed…” Jaebeom trails off, waving his hand vaguely. Jinyoung stifles a laugh and nods.

“I want to forget everything that happened. Besides, it’s you, Mr Im,” Jinyoung replies, head tilting a fraction. “I hardly think you’d try to do anything,”

"Is that your way of saying you trust me, Jinyoung?" Jaebeom asks. He's leaning his chin on his hand now, a lazy smirk tugging on his lips. Sitting down, they're almost the same height. Jinyoung doesn't say anything, only shrugs in favour of the plates of meat arriving at their table. They fall into companionable silence - Jinyoung buttering up the pan and grilling the meat while Jaebeom works on the drinks.

He'd ordered a beer, the glass filled to the brim with white foam at the top. He cracks open the soju bottle and pours a shot for Jinyoung, the cold liquid quick to condense on the glass. He hands the tiny thing to Jinyoung, who takes it with a nod.

“A toast,” Jaebeom suggests, raising his glass.

“What are we toasting to?” Jinyoung asks, even though he mirrors the action.

"To saving your life and you trusting me?" Jaebeom smiles and Jinyoung plays along, their glasses clinking in the quiet room. The bitterness of the beer is comforting and Jaebeom smacks his lips, licking the foam off with his tongue. Jinyoung has already finished his shot and is pouring himself another. Jaebeom watches the calm movements as he picks up the tongs and flips the meat over.

“Thank you, again. I uh...really mean it,” Jinyoung mumbles. Jaebeom finds it cute how he looks away, cheeks tinged pink under the dim lighting. They’re sitting close now and face to face, Jaebeom can see the dark hues of brown in Jinyoung’s eyes; the perfect arc of his eyebrows. Jaebeom thinks that if angels on earth did really exist, he’d be sitting in front of one now.

"I told you. You're my secretary, of course, I'd protect you," The words fall off his lips softly and it feels way too intimate. But Jinyoung smiles anyway, nodding his head like he's accepted it as that and nothing more. Is there anything more? Jinyoung can’t tell. He thinks of how angry Jaebeom had gotten, the pure fire in his eyes and the low growl of his voice when he’d made his threats. He then thinks of this Jaebeom - the innocent grin when he talked to the ahjumma and the way he spoke those words. Of course, I'd protect you.

Of course, he would. If anything happens to me, he's responsible by law. The thought feels bitter and it comes with a sense of resignation because it means Jaebeom doesn't care about him at all. But don’t you want him to care? Things have shifted and changed over the course of one night and both of them know it. Jinyoung knows he can’t go back to ignoring Jaebeom after this, he isn’t that big of an asshole to do that.

And maybe a small part of him doesn’t want to go back at all.

But he shakes the thought from his head. He focuses on picking up the meat and balancing it on a scoop of rice, ignoring the heavy gaze on him. He stuffs it into his mouth, letting out a pleased hum as the meat melts in his mouth, the delicious juice the right amount of oily and salty on his tongue.

“Is it good?” Jaebeom asks as he picks up his own slice and does the same. He chews as he awaits Jinyoung’s answer, eyes never leaving the younger’s face. Jinyoung nods; face feeling like it’s on fire under Jaebeom’s scrutinization.

“That’s good to hear. I like my meat fattier because it tastes better with the beer but I was afraid you’d find it too oily or something,”

“Ah, I’m not that health conscious. You should eat with Jackson one day, he’s all about the organic stuff and his diet,” Jinyoung muses. Jaebeom perks up at that.

"You mean Mark hyung's one-night stand?" he asks.

"More like his boyfriend. Jackson goes on and on about him all the time, they're practically dating already," Jinyoung snorts, barely catching himself from revealing the status of their relationship. Judging by Mark's reaction earlier, Jinyoung's pretty sure they aren't supposed to tell anyone yet.

“I didn’t know they still talked. Mark hyung never told me anything about it,” Jaebeom’s eyebrows furrow and Jinyoung feels something akin to pity settle in his chest.

“Maybe you’re just too busy so he doesn’t want to bother you,” Jinyoung doesn’t know why he’s even making the effort to comfort him.

“Aren’t you equally busy, Jinyoung?”

“Only because I work for you,” Jinyoung replies in the space of a breath.

“And here I was thinking we got past our banters,”

“I’m a persistent man,” Jinyoung plays along, shrugging in a way that has Jaebeom smirking again.

“Sure that isn’t the soju talking?” It’s a challenge and Jinyoung knows it; knows how stupid he would be for falling for it. But he does anyway because he's Park Jinyoung and he isn’t exactly in the rightest frame of mind.

“You’ll be surprised at how much I can drink before I start talking nonsense,” Jinyoung retorts, downing his shot of soju to further prove his point. It burns his throat and tastes more bitter than it should, but he swallows it anyway. Jaebeom seems fairly amused now, fingers drumming against the table.

“Shall we test that out then?”

 


 

Jaebeom-ssi, ” Jinyoung hiccups and Jaebeom hums in reply. He hardly minds that Jinyoung has progressed from Mr Im to his name in the matter of one night. He’d been waiting for it actually, ever since he’d let Jinyoung’s name leave his lips. He thought if he was less formal and strict, Jinyoung might actually smile for real around him just once.

The younger seemed to be doing much more than that now. Jinyoung had lasted almost three-quarters of the soju bottle before he'd gained a permanent redness to his cheeks. Sober Jinyoung was already too cute to handle. Drunk Jinyoung made Jaebeom want to coo and pet his hair. Or jump off a cliff. Either ways, every pout and giggle Jinyoung let out sent a wave of warmth to his heart and flutters to his stomach. No matter if he spouted nonsense or let out hiccups mid-sentence; Jaebeom found this Jinyoung a thousand times better than the one he'd been facing for a week.

“Jaebeom-ssi,” Jinyoung repeated, more firmly this time. His eyes are glazed over and unfocused, pointer finger hovering over Jaebeom’s face. Jaebeom hums again, stuffing the last piece of pork in his mouth.

“Was..was t-that your father?” Jinyoung’s words are slurred but Jaebeom understands them anyway. The topic makes him shift uncomfortably in his seat, eyebrows knitting together. Jinyoung doesn’t take notice, only staring at him and awaiting an answer.

"Yeah, it was. Have you not seen him before? He's in the news a lot," Jaebeom says, remembering the countless articles and reports regarding the Im Family - namely his father. They were usually about how successful they were, the new buildings they acquired or whatever event they went to. And there were those articles too. When they'd receive criticism and be dragged into whatever fake scandals their competitors would cook up. And the worst ones, when Jaebeom was still a child and he had no idea what was happening. He only remembers the constant questions and flashes of the camera, blinding his sight as he clung tight to his father's leg. Things had been different since then, and he'd never known why.

“You two seem…” Jinyoung makes a gesture with his hand, trying to think of a suitable word in his drunken state. His nose scrunches up and Jaebeom chuckles. “distant,” Jaebeom snorts. “Why?”

Jaebeom shrugs. “I grew up like that, ever since I was five, I think. My father’s a busy man and he doesn’t really feel the need? To talk much to me? He’d adopted Youngjae, saying I could learn how to take care of others more and the responsibility of an older brother would be good for me. But I think he’d done it as a replacement for his absence all the time,” Jaebeom shrugs again, feeling a little lump form in his throat. He looks up and he can’t believe it.

Park Jinyoung had fallen asleep.

At least he hadn’t heard any of that. Don’t need another person playing the pity card, Jaebeom thinks. He rests his chin in his hand, silently watching Jinyoung as his head sways a little until it lands on the table with a soft thump . Jaebeom winces, leaning forward to check on Jinyoung. But the younger is still knocked out, even snoring a little. His soft snores sound more like purrs and it reminds Jaebeom of his cats at home when they'd climb on his bed and snuggle to sleep at night. Jaebeom smiles, undeniably fond in the privacy of the little dining space.

He looks so peaceful like this. Should I wake him up? I mean of course I should, I can’t leave him sleeping here the whole night, Jaebeom mentally facepalms. He pulls his phone out from his pocket, shifting a little so the small gadget can slip out. There are texts from Mark and Yugyeom in the group chat, followed by a missed call from Youngjae. He swipes right on the notification and Youngjae picks up on the fourth ring. There's barking from the other side and it's eleven in the night but his younger brother sounds as awake as ever.

“Hyung! Mark hyung and Yugyeommie told me everything that happened so I called but you didn’t pick up. Jangmin hyung told me something about Father turning up at the gala and I got even more worried. Are you okay?” Youngjae blurts out and Jaebeom can’t help the grin that nearly splits his face in half.

“I’m okay, Youngjae-ah. I’ll explain everything later on, but can I come over? Jinyoung got drunk at dinner and I have zero idea where he lives, Plus, I think he’d be more comfortable and less afraid if he woke up at your place instead of mine,” Jaebeom admits and his brother’s loud laughter fills his ears. He hears some rustling on the other side and assumes Youngjae is getting up from his gaming chair again.

“Sure, hyung. I’ll go prepare the guest room, you remember the password combination right?”

“Yeah, see you in a bit,” Jaebeom hums and hangs up, letting out a sigh as he stuffs his phone in his pocket again. He takes in Jinyoung, still sleeping peacefully across the table, and wonders how the hell he’s gonna drag a grown man to his car without someone calling the police. The fact that he’s dressed in all black and that Jinyoung looks like every possible rich target out there doesn’t help one bit. He prays no one is still out at this hour, or that anyone who spots them is too drunk to care.

He stands up, pulling his pants down from where they’ve ridden up before shrugging on his jacket. He loops Jinyoung’s over one shoulder and nearly trips over Jinyoung’s stretched out foot. He squats down and gently taps Jinyoung’s shoulder.

“Jinyoung,” the younger man makes some incoherent mumbling sound. “Jinyoung, get up. I’m taking you over to Youngjae’s for the night, but you have to get up first,” Jaebeom feels like a parent persuading his child. Jinyoung lifts his head, eyes droopy and mouth twisted downwards. He blinks sleepily, squinting his eyes. Jaebeom can’t help the laugh he lets out and resists the urge to pet Jinyoung’s head.

“Jaeeebeom…” Jinyoung blinks again, cocking his head to the side. “...-ssi? Is that you? What time is it? Why are you in my home?” Jinyoung asks and Jaebeom snickers. He wishes he could take a video of this and use it as blackmail forever. Instead, he loops an arm around Jinyoung’s elbow and tugs him up, the younger clumsily getting to his feet. Jinyoung stumbles, his weight nearly taking both of them to the floor again. But Jaebeom’s sturdier even though they’re about the same weight and he pulls Jinyoung closer, hand coming to his waist to support him.

“We’re still at the restaurant, Jinyoung. It’s about eleven fifteen and you’re drunk ,” Jaebeom states.

"Ah, that explains a lot!" Jinyoung says too loudly near his ear and he jerks away from the younger laughing. And it's the first time Jaebeom has ever heard a laugh so beautiful, ever seen someone smile so perfectly. Jinyoung's eyes form a line and the skin crinkles at the side, looking like whiskers. He raises a hand to cover his mouth but Jaebeom can see his perfect teeth anyway. His heart thumps in his chest and he gets lost in staring for a minute, mouth twisted in a stupid smile. Jinyoung doesn't notice, eyes closed and his body weight against Jaebeom's.

Snap out of it. If you keep staring at him like an idiot no one’s gonna get home tonight, Jaebeom scolds himself. He stands Jinyoung upright easily, making sure nothing is left behind before he ushers them out of the semi-private sitting room. The couple was gone and only the same ahjumma was left at the counter, counting the day’s earnings carefully. She perks up as she hears Jaebeom.

Halmeoni, I’ll be going first okay?” Jaebeom says, pulling out his wallet and handing her a few notes. It’s way more than the bill actually is and she protests, pushing the money back but Jaebeom smiles and shakes his head.

“You youngsters, always spending cash like it grows on trees. Keep it and save for a rainy day, Jaebeom-ah,” her words are soft and her tone reminds Jaebeom of his own grandmother. His heart instantly swells and yearns for some form of comfort and warmth, so he reaches forward and gives her a soft hug. It’s difficult to hold two people at once but he doesn’t mind.

“Take care, halmeoni . I’ll be back soon, I promise,” Jaebeom squeezes her frail hand lightly.

"Be careful on the way home! And take good care of your boyfriend," she calls after them. Jaebeom's face burns bright red and he glances down to make sure Jinyoung didn't hear it. Jinyoung is, thankfully, still barely conscious against his shoulder. He heaves a sigh of relief and begins the walk back to his car.

The night is a lot quieter as compared to when they first stepped foot into the restaurant. Shops are still opened by the streets are definitely less crowded now. Because it’s less crowded, the cool breeze sends a chill down Jaebeom’s spine and he can feel the goosebumps rise up on his arm. Jinyong doesn’t seem to take notice, even though he isn’t wearing a jacket and has his sleeves rolled up. Jaebeom relishes in the body heat of another person and quickens his pace.

He gives himself a pat on the back for having the mind to park nearby by the side of the street. He unlocks the door and the headlights flicker on, lighting up the dimly lit street. He moves to the passenger seat and pats on Jinyoung’s shoulder again, the younger not opening his eyes but lifting his feet and blindly stepping to get into the car. After a few minutes of pure torture watching Jinyoung try, Jaebeom huffs and lifts the younger’s legs up, effectively carrying him and placing him into the car. Jinyoung has a contented smile on his lips and Jaebeom mutters a little ‘Brat’ as he buckles him in. He shuts the door and walks back to his side, strapping himself in and starting up the ignition. He turns on the lights and cranks up the heater, shuddering as the warm air fills the car and envelopes him. He removes his jacket and throws both his and Jinyoung’s somewhere to the back seat, making a mental note to retrieve it tomorrow. He steps on the gas pedal, the engine whirring softly as he finally starts on the journey to Youngjae’s place.

Jaebeom isn't exactly the soberest considering he's had a pint of beer to drink too, but he's well under the alcohol limit for driving so he thinks he's pretty safe. He lets his mind wander while his body moves on auto-pilot, knowing the route to his younger brother's house like the back of his hand. That damn old pervert, I swear I’m gonna kill Yugyeom one day for letting this happen, Jaebeom thinks as he glances over to Jinyoung. The younger has sobered up a little and is sleepily rubbing his eyes, head resting on the window. You care, don’t you? A voice, the annoying one that represents his conscience, says. You know you do, that’s why you got mad. That’s why you stepped in. You care about Jinyoung, not just because he’s your secretary. Admit it, you coward, the voice taunts again and Jaebeom wants to slap that part of him. He once again wishes his conscience didn’t exist.

But a part of him knows it’s true. Because when he’d seen that old geezer lay a hand on Jinyoung, something in him - like a rubber band being pulled taut to its limit, had snapped and his legs were moving before his brain could take over. After that everything had been sort of a blur, his temper taking over. He’d only remembered Jinyoung in front of him, eyes determined and hands firm against his shoulders, telling him to stop. And then his father, walking out from the crowd with his cold eyes and strict voice. In that instant, Jaebeom’s anger had melted away and given way to the emotion he hated the most - shame. It always seemed to weasel its way in whenever Jaebeom’s father was around and he hated how small it made him feel in comparison. He’d watched as his father took care of everything in a few minutes, using his words like Jaebeom should have. It felt like a slap to the face when he’d been dismissed like that in front of everyone.

Especially Jinyoung, his secretary who wasn’t supposed to suffer through any of this if Jaebeom hadn’t invited him in the first place.

Of course, the guilt had been eating him up for the past few hours. Heck, if something had happened to Jinyoung, he'd punish himself for it for the rest of his life. That’s why I’m doing this, nothing more, nothing less, he tells himself. The annoying voice once again goes ‘ Liar! ’ in his head. And once again, Jaebeom ignores it in favour of pulling up on Youngjae’s driveway.

The lights are still on and he can briefly make out Youngjae’s shadow moving about. It’s a bigger house compared to others but it was a gift from their father when Youngjae said he wanted to move out to live on his own a few years ago. Jaebeom unbuckles his seatbelt and does the same to Jinyoung, nudging him awake in the process. Jinyoung’s eyes flutter open, a little yawn coming from him as he stretches. Jaebeom can’t help the little chuckle he lets out and Jinyoung’s half-lidded eyes fly to his.

“Don’t laugh at me, Jaebeom-ssi, I’m drunk and you shouldn’t be laughing at the drunk. You should be helping them,” Jinyoung mumbles with a half scowl. Jaebeom is pretty sure Jinyoung doesn’t know what he’s saying but he gets out of the car to help anyway. He pulls Jinyoung up by the arm, throwing it over his shoulder and wrapping his own arm around Jinyoung’s waist. The faint buzz in his head makes the places they touch feel hot and tingly and Jaebeom can feel Jinyoung’s breath on his neck as they walk. His face heats up and he hopes Youngjae will mistake it for him being drunk when he punches in the password.

“Hyung, are you blushing?” comes Youngjae’s voice as soon as he steps into the house. Crap, crap, crap.

"No, I drank too. Come and help me, Youngjae-ah," Jaebeom clears his throat and wills his face to cool down.

“How much did Jinyoung-hyung drink?” Youngjae asks, taking over Jinyoung’s dead weight while Jaebeom kneels down to remove his shoes.

“Not much! I have veeerry low alcohol tolerance,” Jinyoung exclaims and Youngjae yelps in surprise.

“I thought you were asleep, hyung,” Youngjae mutters and Jinyoung smiles, eyes still shut as he blindly reaches to pet Youngjae’s hair. It’s such a domestic sight that Jaebeom feels his heart clench.

“I’ll take him to his room and then we’ll talk, okay Jaebeom hyung? There’s some water if you want some,” Youngjae says, chin nodding to the kitchen. Jaebeom nods and lets his brother carry Jinyoung off, hearing Youngjae’s laughter loud and clear. He moves to sit on the couch, stretching and sighing as he can finally rest a little. Coco, Youngjae’s pet dog, comes up to snuggle by his feet and he reaches down to scratch behind its ear. It’s been a long day and he can feel the tiredness settle into his bones.

"Do you want anything to eat? Or some medicine so you don't get a hangover tomorrow," Youngjae asks as he appears in the hallway joining the living room and the bedrooms.

“No, did you give some to Jinyoung though?” Jaebeom asks, sitting upright and making space for Youngjae next to him. Coco perks up at the appearance of her owner and jumps onto the couch, a white ball of energy even at this hour. Nora would never, Jaebeom muses as he remembers his grumpy Siamese waiting for him at home.

“Of course. So tell me hyung, what happened? I only heard bits and pieces from Yugyeommie earlier. He says he’s sorry by the way, he was blaming himself for it and all. You should talk to him,” Youngjae advises and Jaebeom nods, now feeling a little guilty about wanting to kill the younger earlier. He tells Youngjae what he remembers, the details coming to him slowly as he talks. Youngjae also tells him Yugyeom’s side and he feels his anger melt away completely when he hears how bad their youngest friend feels.

“But is Jinyoung hyung okay? It isn’t like him to clamp up like that,” Youngjae frowns.

“Now that you mention it…” Jaebeom immediately thinks of that day, when he’d walked in on Jinyoung freezing up at his desk. Did something happen to him before? The Park Jinyoung I know would never let someone touch him like that, Jaebeom thinks. Youngjae’s hand on his knee startles him and he snaps his head up.

“Hyung?” Jaebeom shakes his head, dismissing the thought.

“It’s nothing. I should probably get home, I haven’t fed my cats all day. You know about the dinner with Father tomorrow, right?” Jaebeom asks, getting up. Youngjae definitely notices something is up, but he doesn’t push it and Jaebeom’s grateful.

“Yeah, see you there, hyung. And I’ll bring Jinyoung hyung to work tomorrow, so don’t worry,” There’s a hint of a tease in his voice and Jaebeom lightly smacks his elbow.

“It isn’t like that,”

“I never said it was, hyung. Goodnight, drive home safe,” Youngjae says as he opens the door for Jaebeom. The air outside is as cold as it was earlier and Jaebeom braces himself for the walk to his car.

"Don't be a brat. Goodnight," Jaebeom chides lightly as he waves. The door shuts behind him with a soft click and a few minutes later he sees the lights in the house flicker off. He gets in his car quickly, a lingering feeling that he can't identify in his chest. He looks to his side and he can still hear Jinyoung's musical laughter in his ears, can still see his eye wrinkles and that wide smile as he drives off.

It isn’t like that, right?