Actions

Work Header

Only One

Work Text:

It was a rainy day.

Heechul shifted in his bed sheets, trying to drown out the sounds of water that splattered continually against his living room window. Turning to his right side, he lurched his arm over the couch so that it was hanging over the cushions. It was 3:00 in the middle of the night. He had forgotten to take the pills that helped him sleep at night. Not that he wanted to anyway. Plus he was too lazy to actually get up and do that. Heechul turned to lay on his back and stared blankly at the dark ceiling.

“I should stop sleeping on my couch.” he said out loud to himself.

Heechul got out of his couch and groaned at the pain in his leg, taking the blankets with him. He didn't bother carrying them in an orderly fashion; as he walked, the blankets swept the floor. He made his way to red coloured room and swung the door open. Flopping on his bed, he closed his eyes once more, hoping he'd fall asleep within the next few minutes. Heechul reached his arm out to his side and it fell directly onto the bed. He cringed and realized there was no one beside him to put his arm over.

“I'm so lonely.”

He still couldn't sleep.

---

It was a friday night in Seoul.

Kyunghoon heard the rain pouring from outside of the building. It’ll be a bother going home since he didn't bring an umbrella. There were a lot more customers coming in at this time, despite being the middle of the night. Older men specifically and a few younger looking guys. He looked down to his clothes and realized how disheveled they were. Kyunghoon straightened out his black button down bartender uniform and sighed to himself. He noticed a customer gesturing to him.

“Hey! I was calling out your name like 3 minutes ago, what kinda bartender are you?” a stranger exclaimed.

“O-oh uh, sorry ‘bout that sir…” Kyunghoon mumbled.

He took at quick glance at the man's profile. His hair….his face….his clothes…., Kyunghoon observed.
Hmm. He looks older, in his 40’s probably. His clothes look pretty shabby too.
The customer noticed Kyunghoon's interest in the way he looked. The man looked at Kyunghoon with a concerned face.

“Hey kiddo, likin’ what you see or something? I don't swing that way, I'll have you know.” the customer said.

Kyunghoon's face flushed at the comment and almost dropped the drink in his hand. He explained the misunderstanding.
“I-uh no no, sorry it's just a habit!!! Please forget that I did that.”

“Hey, no it's fine. Now, could you get me a refill of beer please?” he said in response.

Still red at his ears, Kyunghoon exclaimed; “Yes sir, right away!”
As he ran to get more beer, he tried to forget the embarrassing series of events that just happened. Kyunghoon looked around the room, no one else seemed to have came to the bar. He sighed to himself.

A guy in fancy looking clothes, who appeared to be younger than the other customer, then approached Kyunghoon after he handed the beer over to the customer.
“Hey, I'm Park Sikyung but it’s probably hyung to you. You wanna make me a special drink? One just for me?” the guy said in a baby-ish manner.

Kyunghoon made a questioning face, then looked him up and down. He looked maybe in his late 30’s, wears glasses and has black hair that covered his eyebrows.

“Err sure, what would you like sir?” Kyunghoon said reluctantly.

“Oh, surprise me. I'm sure anything you make would be good.” Sikyung pointed his finger at Kyunghoon's chest, way too close for his comfort.

He swallowed down his nervousness. “Ahaha, that's very funny sir. Please tell me what you would like, it's my job.”

The man lurched over the counter and put one of his hands on Kyunghoon's waist without warning and smirked.
“You know, I was watching you earlier with that older guy and I thought you were just too cute to pass up on. I mean, I just wanna tease you. I’m a reaaaalllly good singer byyy the waayy, diid youu knnoow?” Sikyung slurred, his eyes bloodshot.

Kyunghoon immediately wanted to run away from this and have the guy just leave him alone. He felt Sikyung’s fingernails dig into his hip and winced a little. Kyunghoon put his own hand on the other guy's wrist to try and pull him off. The grip only grew tighter.
“Hahah I do my fair share of singing too, I bet you’re a great singer… Now if you’ll let go of me plea- Eeek!” Kyunghoon exclaimed when the customer brought his hand closer to his ass.

Shit. This guy's seriously drunk.

“Hey, Sikyung was it? Get your hands off of the bartender, this isn't somewhere for you to fool around.” The older customer from earlier intervened and put his hand on Sikyung's shoulder.

He looked like he was going to say something and then closed his mouth when the older customer tightened his grip. Sikyung then walked away from the two.

“Uh thanks for that….I appreciate that mister… what's your name?” Kyunghoon said gratefully.

“It’s Lee Sangmin. And no problem, just trying to help out. Oh, and thanks for the beer.” Sangmin responded.

Kyunghoon smiled at the kind gentleman. Maybe he had misjudged him. It's due to these kinds of people and his daughter that he's able to appreciate his everyday life. Kyunghoon thought about what his daughter Soojin looked like in bed about now. He'll stay forever thankful to his aunt who takes care of Soojin when he can't.

The shift felt longer than it was.

---

Heechul decided it would be good for him to take a walk at this time in the night. He took his long coat, along with a gray hoodie underneath. He also took his black hat and a mask. He groaned as he bent down to put on his converse shoes. Maybe not the right footwear for a rainy night, but it would do.

He walked to one of his favourite restaurants that was open at this time. It was a Japanese restaurant that had a bunch of general Japanese food. Heechul looked around as he entered. The deep red walls and the murals of cherry blossoms on them were absolutely stunning. He would always be shocked, despite coming frequently. And there was the very prominent smell of chicken broth that always made him feel cozy. Entering the restaurant alone was enough to make him feel just a little bit sleepier. Heechul smiled to himself as he sat down on one of the solo seats placed in a row that had high chairs and faced the countertop.

Heechul made eye contact with one of the servers and they smiled at each other in recognition.

“The usual, I’m guessing?” the lady said. Heechul nodded in response and put his head down onto the countertop briefly, shutting his eyes. Maybe the restaurant’s atmosphere would at least help him relax and close his eyes for a little. His eyes drifted towards the ground and to the converse shoes that he had messily tied. Then they drifted to the shoes of the customer beside him, to his right specifically. When’d another person get here?

The customer’s shoes were expensive but it looked like they were worn carelessly, with the laces tucked into the shoes; not even tied, huh? And to top it all off, he was wearing the cutest striped socks, with dog bones on them that barely matched the expensive aesthetic of his shoes. What kinda person is this guy anyway? Heechul chuckled to himself.

“Heechul-ssi? Here’s your order.” the familiar server said.

“Thanks.” Heechul responded.

“Can’t sleep again, hm? Hopefully this’ll help you a bit.” the woman said. Heechul just smiled at her.

He took a sip of the warm ramen and sighed in delight. It was delicious and always helped him clear his mind. The aroma it exuded was absolutely delightful and it made him forget all the problems he had to worry about. It may be such a small thing but it brought him such happiness every time.
He then looked to his right to match a face with the feet he saw earlier. Heechul tried to be sneaky with it but the guy didn’t seem to notice anyway. Heechul noticed the man was focussed on something, he looked to his plate. He looked to be using the soy sauce to draw little smiley faces beside the sushi he had ordered. Ridiculous. Heechul thought.

Heechul then almost burst out into laughter as the smiley face got ruined, that isn’t how liquid works anyway. He had to admit though, his concentrated frowny face was too cute for words. Heechul almost forgot about his ramen when because he was so concentrated on this guy. He had brown hair with bangs a little too short, but complimented his pretty facial features. His eyes were like a deer’s, so innocent looking. He had a small and sharp nose along with a mousy-ish mouth. He was also wearing an all black bartender uniform which complimented his model-like figure. Heechul forgot he was holding the ramen bowl at an angle towards him, until he felt the warm liquid on his sweatpants.

“Ack! Hot hot hot!!” Heechul exclaimed out loud.

The man to his right quickly got up gave him a few paper towels to dry him off. “Are you okay mister??” The man looked at Heechul with worried eyes and fumbled with the tissues in his hands.

“Ah, yes I’m totally fine! Thanks for the help….what’s your name?” Heechul said.

“O-oh, it’s really no problem. It’s Min Kyunghoon by the way….” he said in response while looking down and twiddling his fingers.

“Kyunghoon-ssi is it? Well, I’ve had a crappy night so I appreciate your kindness.” Heechul isn’t usually this nice to strangers, but he felt the need for him to appeal to Kyunghoon...for some reason. He then realized this guy was THAT Kyunghoon, the singer.

“Oh please, tell me about it! I came here to clear my head.” Kyunghoon said.

Heechul thought this would be the perfect time to start a conversation. He wanted to get to know this guy, from the shoes to the smiley faces, he seemed interesting. Plus his uniform was from the bar he goes to all the time, why hadn’t he seen Kyunghoon each time he went there? He probably would’ve caught his eye if he did catch a glimpse.

“Gladly. I’m Kim Heechul….and, yes THAT Heechul.”

“Wait, the idol Heechul? No...way.” Kyunghoon said in shock. “I-I’m not really into the idol stuff b-but it’s an honour, sir” he bowed slightly.

Heechul cackled, “Come on, I’m not some God. No need to act so formal. And don’t act like you aren’t famous yourself….Ssamja.”

Kyunghoon’s face turned cold, like he’d just been reminded about the worst thing in the world. Heechul suddenly got worried and regretted mentioning him being a known singer.
“I can’t believe someone recognized me… I did leave that life behind. Thanks, I guess...for knowing me.”

“Well you did tell everyone to forget about you…. But I couldn’t forget really. Your songs helped me to fall asleep when I couldn’t.” Heechul said gratefully.

“I did, didn’t I? Hahaha… I’m glad.” Kyunghoon responded nervously.

There were a few seconds of silence until Heechul decided to say something after sipping his now lukewarm ramen.
“I was gonna tell you about my night, wasn’t I?”

“Oh...yes. Please tell me about it.”

Heechul described the events of him not being able to sleep, despite having the choice to take his sleeping pills. Kyunghoon nodded along, while listening carefully and chewing his sushi.

“And I decided to come here, instead of staying home….isn’t that stupid?”

“Of course not, Heechul-ssi. I get it, other places will make you feel better than aimlessly trying to sleep unhappily. That’d probably just make it worse. And as long as you’re happier, then it’s good right? Sleeping pills don’t really target the problem either, it doesn’t give you a natural sleep at all! Your happiness comes first, so what’s the point in something that makes you feel more terrible?”

Heechul’s eyes widened. “Yeah, it’s better to attempt sleeping when you feel better and on a full stomach too of course.” Everyone else just tells him to take medication and a bunch of negative things, which of course, makes him feel more terrible about himself. Kyunghoon was one of the only people that were being supportive. It was weird, Heechul thought, that someone he’d just met in person understood him and supported him so well.

They laughed together. Heechul then asked about Kyunghoon’s night. Heechul was actually enjoying this for a change. He stared into Kyunghoon’s eyes. The way his eyes crinkled when he let out an an adorable laugh was so endearing.

“Well, some jackass at the bar I work at was so damn drunk. He probably didn’t know left from right at that time.”

“Oh boy...that doesn’t sound so good” Heechul said worriedly while chewing the noodles in his mouth and leaning closer in.

“Yeah, just wait for it. So he asks me to make him a ‘special drink’ just for him or something. Then I told him to tell me what he wants ‘cuz it’s my job. Then the jackass takes his hand and grabs me by the waist and….puts his hand lower. I couldn’t shake him off properly.” Kyunghoon rambles.

“Geez! That’s terrible, I would’ve given him a good smack right then and there… So what did you do then??”

“Well another customer called Lee Sangmin told the guy off…. I was really touched. I hope I get to see him again and give him a drink on the house.”

“Oh! I know Sangmin, he’s my friend!” Heechul said in surprise.

“Wow, it’s a small world isn’t it? Then, I hope I get to see you two at the bar another time! But for now...I really have to get going, my daughter’s waiting for me at home.” Kyunghoon said hurriedly.

“O-oh, thanks for talking with me, see you later then Kyunghoon-ssi?” Heechul said.

“Yup, see you!” Kyunghoon put on his jacket and left.

Heechul felt empty again. He thought to himself. Is he really married and has a child? Then, I shouldn’t pursue him…

Heechul looked to the ruined soy sauce smiley face on the plate that was taken shortly after and sighed to himself.

“Am I left alone again?”

---

Kyunghoon made his way home and thought about how nice Heechul was. Wow, he’d never thought that idols could be so kind. At least he didn’t think so. Kyunghoon just wanted to see his daughter badly after such a long day.

He opened the door to his apartment and Kyunghoon saw his aunt ready to leave the room. “Thanks for taking care of Soojin, auntie.”

“Oh anytime darling, I don’t have any kids so I enjoy this very much.” she replied.

Kyunghoon smiled at her as she left his apartment. He then sat down beside his little girl.

“You’re already 5 years old, aren’t you?” he said as he drifted off to sleep as well.

---

“Oi, Sangmin! You know that bartender you helped the other day?” Heechul said into the telephone call.

“Erm, yes. You mean the deer-looking guy right? How do you know about that?” Sangmin responded.

“Well, I met him that that Japanese restaurant the other day and well… I wanna see him again. Wanna come drinking with me tonight?”

“Alright, fine. I get why you wanna meet him again. I mean, he’s pretty cute don’t you think?”

Heechul’s face flushed and he gripped his phone tighter. “Oh, shut up will you?”

“12:30. See you there.” Sangmin then ended the call.

Heechul groaned thinking about how nice and how asshole-y Sangmin could be sometimes. Regardless, he was excited and nervous for tonight.

Heechul walked over to his closet and thought about what to wear. Well, he didn’t want to cause a ruckus or anything so….nothing too flashy. He looked through his closet and saw a mess of things that he had to go through. Such a bother.

“Nope, nope, nope, no way, maybe…, ooh! Yes”

He took out a white blouse with a beige sweater on top, along with black, slightly fitted jeans. Heechul put it on himself and looked into his huge body mirror to proceed and check himself out. He hoped that Kyunghoon would like it, then shook his head thinking about what the hell he’s doing. Heechul’s only been his fan since, what, he debuted until he retired a few years ago. NOT a big deal or anything, right?

---

Kyunghoon was, as usual, working. He tended to the usuals that he saw all the time. He’d already memorized what they get every time. It’s been a whole week since that guy came and made Kyunghoon uncomfortable. Kyunghoon hoped that he wouldn’t come back, or at least come back less….drunk. Everything had been the same ever since. His life remained stagnant and the only thing he looked forward to doing was seeing his little girl. Well, his boss did suggest they do something with the lower level since it was just sitting there, collecting dust. He said something about making a hot tub and installing billiards tables. A strange combo, but the boss said they’ll get more money since customers would have to pay for the hot tub.

Kyunghoon sighed and continued working. Putting a hot tub on the lower level is such a bad idea.

Mixing the drinks skillfully and serving them to a few customers, he was already exhausted. This isn’t good. Probably due to the fact that he did not get enough sleep last night. Kyunghoon looked to the wooden counter where two customers had just arrived.

“Hey, Kyunghoon-ssi!” a familiar voice cried out.

“O-oh, Heechul-ssi and Sangmin-ssi! How are you guys doing?” Kyunghoon asked cheerfully, genuinely happy to see them. He thought Heechul really looked like an idol with the clothes he put on. He had to admit how attractive Heechul was compared to someone like himself. “Can I get you guys a drink? We’ll talk then.”

“Ah. yes we’ll have two margaritas please.” Sangmin said.

“Ooh, feeling fancy are we? Coming right up.” Kyunghoon responded.

Like he was programmed to make margaritas, Kyunghoon swiftly poured the drinks after shaking them. He carefully added a piece of lime and salt to the rim. Heechul watched Kyunghoon like it was the most interesting thing he’d ever seen. His model-like body and proportions made him look like an actual work of art. Kyunghoon then handed over the two drinks with a smile. Heechul and Sangmin thanked him.

“I haven’t seen you guys in a while, it’s pretty funny that I met both of you on the same day. Thanks for coming to the bar! By the way, the drinks are on the house. Enjoy!” Kyunghoon said before hurriedly rushing over to another customer who gestured for him to come.

Heechul didn’t get to say anything and was thoroughly disappointed that they didn’t get to have a proper conversation. But what did he expect, coming here while he was working? Sangmin noticed his disappointment and patted Heechul on the back.

“Why don’t you ask him if he’s free after his shift? I mean, it’s worth a try if you really do wanna talk to him right?” Sangmin suggested.

“Hm, yeah you’re right. I’m probably just gonna embarrass myself, don’t you think? Heechul responded.

“Yeah, probably.”

“Okay, shut up will you?”

“I’m joking, you’re charismatic. I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

Heechul groaned and talked to Sangmin more about love and such. Sangmin knew a lot about that and told him a couple of things that he missed about having a relationship. Heechul carefully listened until Kyunghoon came back. It seemed like he was done taking orders for now.

“Hey, how are the drinks?” Kyunghoon asked.

“They’re great, thank you. By the way, are you free after your shift?” Heechul asked as casually as possible.

“Yeah I happen to be, why?” Kyunghoon said questioningly.

“Do you wanna go to that Japanese restaurant where we met before? As thanks for helping me with the spill….and the drinks of course.”

Kyunghoon blinked a couple of times before he agreed with a smile. He’s not used to people inviting him out after they’d met just once before.
“Sure, my shift’s over in 5 minutes actually. Meet me by the door while I get my stuff?”

“Yeah, okay.” Heechul said.

---

Kyunghoon approached Heechul cautiously.

“H-hey, Heechul-ssi!” Kyunghoon exclaimed, then looked towards his own hands. “S-so, why did you call me out?”

Heechul tried to quickly come up with a normal, platonic sounding response. I really wanna get to know you ‘cuz you were my idol for such a long time and you’re so darn cute, was not a choice.

“Well, I was a big fan of your singing and from that time we met each other I thought you were a really nice person. I’m not sure, I just wanted to become closer I guess.” Heechul tried to say cooly.

Kyunghoon’s ears became red. “Oh, really? Well, I thought you were a nice person too! Thanks for inviting me out, I’m not used to this really…” Kyunghoon said, practically beaming.

“Oh, it’s nothing really.”

The began their journey towards the restaurant which was a 7 minute walk. Heechul was worried things would get awkward.

“Hey Heechul-ssi, aren’t you scared of getting recognized like that? I mean, you look stunning in that get up… Must be hard being famous….” Kyunghoon said worriedly.

Heechul turned his head towards Kyunghoon and smiled reassuringly, happy he was worried for him; for the compliment too. “Well, there’s certainly less people at this time of day...or night. Plus, I’m with someone else so it’d be more intimidating to come talk to me. If people do recognize and approach me… I’ll just brush them off, you know? I’m kinda used to it nowadays. It just comes with being an idol.”

“Huh, wow. I don’t think I would ever get used to that kinda treatment… You’re amazing.” Kyunghoon said in disbelief.

“Is that...one of the reasons why you retired, Kyunghoon-ssi?”

“Well.., probably n-not the main reason but it was a bonus I guess you could say..”

Kyunghoon looked very uncomfortable at the moment so he decided not to continue the conversation, not while they were walking anyway. They spent the rest of the night time walking in surprisingly comfortable silence. They then entered the restaurant in joy. One thing they shared in common seemed to be the love for the atmosphere of this place. Weird how they’d never seen each other before. They sat down in the same place they did before. For old times’ sake.

Kyunghoon then realized that Sangmin was nowhere to be found. “Hey Heechul-ssi, where’d Sangmin go off to? Could he not make it?”

Heechul did not want to say he was being considerate for him and didn’t go so they could get closer. “He had errands to tend to or something. Old man probably went to go sleep actually.”

Kyunghoon giggled. “You and Sangmin-ssi seem really close! It’s nice. Is...there anyone else who you’re really close with?”

“Huh? You mean if I’m dating right? That is definitely something you shouldn’t ask an idol, don’t you think?” Heechul said.

“So...you are dating someone, Heechul-ssi?”

“NO, I am NOT dating someone. I’m single thank you very much. And... how old are you by the way? There’s rarely anyone I go out with that I’m formal with…” Heechul responded.

“Well, I’m born in 1984…. Does that make you older or younger?” Kyunghoon asked.

“Sweet! I’m older than you by a year. You can call me hyung then, will you?”
“O-oh, geez. And okay…...hyung. You can call me Kyunghoon-ah I guess.” Kyunghoon said in slight embarrassment.

Heechul basically swooned when Kyunghoon called him hyung, it was adorable. They then realized they hadn’t ordered anything yet and they had just been sitting there. Heechul said something about saving his appetite for midnight snacking and Kyunghoon scoffed in response. After a lecture about how midnight snacking is bad for you from Kyunghoon, they decided on just some sake. You know, just to share some drinks together.

“So Kyunghoon-ah, you have a daughter right? You mentioned her the first time we met.” Heechul said.

“Oh, yes. She's the best thing that ever happened to me. She's the only thing I look forward to seeing everyday after work.” Kyunghoon said with a smile.

“Aw, I wish I knew what it was like…having a child that is.” Heechul said.

“Haha, yeah I'm sure you'd love it. You wanna see some pictures?” Kyunghoon offered.

“Oh, you bet.”

Kyunghoon took out his phone and clicked on gallery after Heechul his wallpaper. It was a picture he took of the Buzz members. Heechul smiled to himself.

“Hey, your wallpaper….it’s of the Buzz members isn’t it? How come you aren’t in it?” Heechul asked.

Kyunghoon looked down in dismay, then to Heechul and smiled. “Well, don’t you think it’s narcissistic to have yourself as the wallpaper on your phone? I mean, that’s one thing but….I’m also not worthy enough to be part of this amazing group. I’m too weak and too caught up with everything…..it’s amazing really. I mean, people are so emotionally strong, it’s hard to keep up when there’s just so many things to deal with. I’m so jealous… O-oh, sorry hyung. I went off on a tangent.”

Heechul’s heart ached. “It isn’t human if a person doesn’t give a shit about anything happening. Kyunghoon-ah, it’s okay to feel things. And it’s okay. Actually, I think being open about your emotions makes you strong. No one’s perfect, and everyone’s different. The more you set expectations for yourself, the more you’ll feel terrible and unworthy. So, don’t talk about yourself like that. I know you’re a good person.” Heechul tried comforting him.

With just a few words from Heechul, Kyunghoon started to tear up. He twiddled his fingers and tried to compose himself, there’s no way he can lose his cool in a restaurant filled with people.

“Hyung, how do you know exactly what to say? We just randomly met here once a week ago. It’s like you’ve known me for years…..I don’t know what to say. Thank you, for saying all that.” Kyunghoon responded with a trembling voice.

Heechul smiled and patted him on the head, scruffing his soft brown hair a little bit. He poured out some sake for the both on them in their cups.

“Well, I’m your hyung aren’t I? And I think I understand how you feel, I have a group of my own, you know. Now let’s drink up and I’m still waiting on those pictures.”

Kyunghoon flashed a cheeky smile which showed off his dimples and took a sip of the drink. He took out his phone once more to pull out the pictures for real now. He went to his gallery and clicked on the album specifically for his daughter.

“Well, this is Soojin. She’s 5 years old, but very mature for her age. Oh, here’s her eating her birthday cake. Adorable, right? And there was this one time where I was sleeping and she suddenly woke me up. When I got out of bed, I saw that she had cereal and milk prepared for me… It made my entire week basically. It would be my dream to just stay home with her all day and play…” Kyunghoon ranted on.

Heechul chuckled and thought Kyunghoon swooning over his daughter was so endearing. Though he still wondered about who Soojin’s mom was. He hadn’t seen any pictures of her. Perhaps it was a touchy subject but Heechul tried to make it less blunt.

“I see so much of you in her…..she’s so adorable! You seem like such a good dad. Once again, I’m jealous of how it feels to have a kid. I hope I can meet her one day. By the way, does anyone take care of her when you’re out for work and such? Or….” Heechul said.

Kyunghoon suddenly got nervous. “Well, you see…. My aunt, who doesn’t have any kids and is retired takes care of her a lot, when I can’t. I’ll stay forever grateful… And I know you must be wondering about Soojin’s mom…. She had one before….but she’s not with us anymore.” Kyunghoon tried to say without mumbling.

Heechul’s eyes widened in shock. “I-I’m so sorry for your loss. I know it must be hard Kyunghoon-ah… You’re so strong for getting through this.” He wasn’t sure what to say, Heechul hoped it was the right thing. He then lurched for a hug with Kyunghoon. Kyunghoon hesitated at first as if this much contact was rare, he then eased into it and embraced Heechul back. They stayed like that for a while and Kyunghoon buried his face into Heechul’s shoulder.

“You’re so warm, hyung. It’s been a while since I’ve properly hugged someone other than my daughter….” Kyunghoon said.

“....me too” Heechul responded quietly.

They parted and began to drink again, while talking about their hobbies and interests to get to know one another better, as they both wanted to. They then were surprised to find they had a common interest in gaming, and swore they’d share a game of LoL together. Kyunghoon started to feel the effects of alcohol after his fourth cup of sake.

“H-hey, Kyunghoon-ah… You should slow down….. You’re drinking a bit too much aren’t you? I- I mean, Soojin’s waiting for you at home right?” Heechul said in concern.

Kyunghoon put his head down on the table and turned to look at his hyung with a drowsy smile and muttered out a couple things.

“Yeeah, I miss her of course. Buuut hyung is here wiiith me noooow. Hehe. Ittddds so weird, I feel like we’ve known each other since fooorever. I like you a lotttt hyung, thank youu.” Kyunghoon slurred, his aegyo coming out as he rubbed his head against the table.

“O-okay, first of all you’re adorable and all, but second of all you need to stop drinking.
Hyung is going to take this away from you….” Heechul tried to keep his composure and talked as if he was a child.

“O-okay, hyung… you’re sooo responsible..and I…” Kyunghoon then shamefully fell asleep on the counter.

Heechul thought this’d be a bother if this happened every time they went drinking, but then again he was probably really tired from his shift. Heechul’s eyes drifted to Kyunghoon’s sleeping face and chuckled. How could anyone get mad at him with that face? What a sight for sore eyes. Heechul sighed and decided to wait around 5 minutes and then attempt to wake him up.

Kyunghoon opened his eyes and they met with Heechul’s.

“Awake, now? You silly…”

Kyunghoon stared up at Heechul and couldn’t help but admit how beautiful he was. He’d been thinking it the whole night and he just had to tell him.

“How are you so pretty, hyung?”

Heechul blushed at the sudden compliment. “W-what? Still drunk? Idiot…..” He turned away in embarrassment. “A-anyway, I’ll accompany you home...you live close to here right? Then it won’t be a bother since I do too.”

“Really? Are you sure? I mean, I’m still a bit drunk but more aware of my surroundings no-woah!” Kyunghoon said, almost falling off the high chair.

“Okay… I probably need to bring you home…..”

“Uuurgh, thanks and sorry..”

---

I wonder if he's coming today…

Kyunghoon thought to himself as he aimlessly mixed drinks for customers in the middle of the night. His mind was miles away from his body and he delved into the thought of getting the chance to talk to Heechul again. He was an idol after all, of course he'd be busy. Kyunghoon knew something of the sort. Out of nowhere his boss came up to him.

“Hey Kyunghoon-ah, make that pretty face useful and take over for someone in the lower level, if you please will. There's enough bartenders here for now, a worker's absent today. All you have to do really is collect the money for the hot tub use, organize the billiard balls and hand out the billiards cues. Got it?” his boss said.

“S-sure, boss! I'll get to it now.” Kyunghoon responded. The boss flashed a smile then shooed him off to go downstairs.

Kyunghoon was especially nervous to work down here, it was pretty intimidating and he had no strong will to go against anything. It would only be for a little while, he should be fine. Kyunghoon made his way down the stairs and he felt the slight humidity of the hot tub. Once he finally got all the way down, he looked at the people who all gave him an arrogant glare. He got chills.

Kyunghoon walked over to the wall in the middle of both sides, so that he could watch everything. Everything went pretty smoothly, probably because he did everything with a smile to hide the fact that he was absolutely terrified of these people.

Kyunghoon leaned against the wall once again and shut his eyes briefly. Just then a person playing billiards bumped into Kyunghoon after hitting the white ball with the billiards cue.

“W-wooah!” Kyunghoon exclaimed and lost his balance. He ended up slamming into another customer who was, of course, in front of the hot tub. This sent him flying into the wad of steaming water, accompanied with a huge splash. Everyone in the hot tub screamed and glared at Kyunghoon. Kyunghoon was at a loss for words, shaking in his boots for the likely beating he was about to get.

The customer that was pushed into the tub slowly got onto his feet and turned to look at Kyunghoon with an angry and serious looking expression.

“You….think you're gonna get away with this? After you got this expensive suit wet? Hm, pretty boy??” the man exclaimed.

“I-I'm sosososo sorry sir!!! I'll dry clean your s-suit, or- um give you drinks on the house for your next visit?? I really didn't mean to do that, w-what can I do to help you sir??” Kyunghoon rambled on, extremely worried about what his boss would say about this and clearly flustered.

The man thought for a second and grinned. “Then, how ‘bout I do this to be even?” the drenched man said as he yanked Kyunghoon into the steaming water with him. The man even held him down for a little by his neck. He had too much to drink and was clearly a violent drunk.

After Kyunghoon resurfaced, he began violently coughing grasping at the man’s arms since they were still around his neck.

“Ngh- aaagh, kuh….let go…..of me…” Kyunghoon's eyes were welling up and he begun to shake in fear.

The man finally let go, but seemed to be delusional still. He backed off, then walked closer to Kyunghoon again. Kyunghoon shut his eyes and covered his face, still terrified. Until someone came in shouted at the drunk man.

“Hey, you. Get the fuck away from him before I call the cops. You've gone too far. If you don't stop, I've also got you on camera so I think it's wise get the hell out of this building.” Heechul said sternly.

The man, in sudden realization at what he'd done, swore and ran away from the scene. The rest of the people on the lower level were muttering to themselves and Heechul rolled his eyes at the real lack of hospitality down here. He turned to Kyunghoon who was still in the tub. On closer inspection, Kyunghoon was shaking and had tears rolling down his cheeks. Heechul suddenly got worried and wanted to give him an embrace.

“Kyunghoon-ah, it's okay. I'm here now, don't worry.” Heechul said while reaching out a hand.

“H-hyung, I thought I-I was gonna die, I really don't wanna come down here ever again...O-or see another hot tub….kuhh” Kyunghoon couldn't stop himself from stuttering and being vulnerable.

“I know, I know….. Come here.” Heechul embraced a shuddering Kyunghoon. “Hey, my house is closer to here than yours. Your shift's over anyway, right? I'll let you borrow some of my clothes and wash up, yeah?”

Kyunghoon nodded.

---

“Hmm…,hyung your place is strangely charming. Pfffft! I mean, it's adorable how every accessory is red.” Kyunghoon said jokingly.

“Erm, I'll just take that as a compliment… So, you've calmed down a bit haven't you?” Heechul asked.

“Yeah, sorry about that breakdown earlier…. Long, long story.”

“You wanna talk about it? I mean, only if you want to…”

“Well…. You did save me earlier so I guess it's only fair.” Kyunghoon responded.

Kyunghoon seemed to hesitate before opening his mouth to talk about what it was. His eyes then drifted to his hands and he begun twiddling his fingers. “My wife….. and I went on a vacation with my daughter… We were having such a good time. I couldn't put into words how happy I felt that. Then…” The mood suddenly shifted.

“We were at the beach….Soojin wanted to go to the sand and play so I told my wife I'd go with her. That left her all alone in the water. Some sick bastard then took advantage of no one being around. Then, I assume tried to kidnap her…. She struggled and struggled in the water to get away, until she couldn't breathe anymore. Knowing that she was probably calling out my name makes my heart ache every time….I could've saved her. She drowned at the beach without anyone knowing. I was too concentrated with the fucking sand! So...when that guy took a hold of me underwater and stuff, it just….took me back to that time. I've stayed away from public swimming places like hot tubs… I even retired from my band because of how much singing stupid love songs about heartbreak reminded me of her…. I'm so weak. I'm such a coward. I-I don't deserve anyone to love me…” Kyunghoon said, trying to hold back tears.

Heechul was shocked once he had heard the whole story.
“No Kyunghoon-ah, you deserve the whole world. How could you be a coward when you’re dealing with this burden everyday? You aren’t guilty of anything. In fact, you’re doing all you can to take care of your daughter and you are such a kind hearted person. There’s no way anyone can hate you, or what you’re doing because I know you’re trying so hard. And it’s okay to feel this way, it makes you more human and shows just how good of a person you are. Everything is going to be okay, Kyunghoon-ah. I’m here for you now.” Heechul said as kindly as he could, then reached for another hug on the couch with Kyunghoon’s damp and still shaking body. Kyunghoon closed his eyes and hugged back.

“Thanks, again hyung. For everything. I don’t know how you can be this kind. I just feel like I can open up to you and tell you everything. I really, really appreciate it. I already feel better. I want to be the same for you. Please let me help you like you’ve helped me.” Kyunghoon said.

“Oh, Kyunghoon-ah.” Heechul said, breaking the hug. “You’ve helped me already, more than you know. I’m happy that you’re just here beside me. I mean, I’ve looked up to you for the longest time.”

“Oh gosh, I-I...thankss… And, what do you mean?” Kyunghoon asked.

Heechul stood up from the red couch. “Well, aren’t you still wet from earlier? Let’s get you fresh clothes. I’ll tell you later.”

Heechul led Kyunghoon into his bedroom, and to Kyunghoon’s amazement, most things were red again. Heechul opened his closet and picked out something he thought would suit Kyunghoon really well. Totally wasn't for his own wants or anything.

Heechul handed Kyunghoon the clothes and told him he could go take a proper shower. Kyunghoon smiled and thanked Heechul while taking the clothes.

“I won't be long, I promise.” Kyunghoon said as he disappeared into Heechul's bathroom.

Heechul nodded, then flopped onto the bed. He nuzzled his face into the body pillow next to him. He thought about the situation. Thank gosh he had gotten there in time, who knows what that bastard could've done to Kyunghoon? Plus, if it weren't for that, they wouldn't have been in Heechul's apartment together. Nor would Kyunghoon have opened up to him. Heechul was happy that Kyunghoon enjoyed being with him…maybe they had a chance to become something more, just maybe. Heechul delved into the idea of them being together and happy. It was too far of a delusion, probably.

Kyunghoon walked out of the bathroom with gray sweatpants and a plain white t-shirt. His body, slightly wet, clung ever so slightly to the shirt. He was rubbing a towel on his damp hair on top of that. Heechul almost choked.

“Hey hyung I used the towel that was hung on the rack, is that okay?” Kyunghoon said.

“Y-yeah of course it's fine!” Heechul exclaimed.

“I just put my wet clothes in a plastic bag and threw it into my backpack. And, -hey why do you look like that?” Kyunghoon said curiously, Heechul's face intently on Kyunghoon.

“Well, you know..” Heechul started as Kyunghoon sat down on his bed beside him. “...I've never seen you outside of your bartender uniform, I mean, you're equally stunning with the uniform, but- I mean-” Heechul stuttered.

“Pfffft-hahah! That's such a compliment, coming from you. But seriously, you should look at a mirror and see your looks for yourself.” Kyunghoon said, to return the compliment.

Heechul shook his head. “Society has weird ideas of beauty these days, wouldn't you agree?”

“Yeah, I'm pretty sure everyone thinks that and yet we all want to fit into these standards… It's so strange.” Kyunghoon responded and turned his head to look at Heechul, who just chuckled.

Heechul put his hand on Kyunghoon's neck and gently caressed it. Still wary of the bruises the angry customer left.

“It must've been scary, the whole choking thing.” Heechul said quietly.

“Yeah, it’ll be stuck in my head for a while… I don't think I'll ever forget that feeling of helplessness. Not being able to fight back… it'll haunt me.” Kyunghoon said, putting his hand on top of Heechul's pressing both their hands together. “You saved me….when everyone was just watching. How can I ever repay you….?”

“I told you I'd explain why you're a big help to me later, didn't I?” Heechul said as he moved the tinest bit closer to Kyunghoon on the bed. “I don't know why, but I felt like I wanted you to like me when we first met. I wanted to bond with you. Recently, my life was stagnant, nothing was happening. When I met you, I felt the motivation to be better and do something with myself. And that's more than I can ask for.”

“That's how you really feel? Then, can I do this?” Kyunghoon grasped Heechul's hand tighter and leaned in closer. “Hyung, I think-”

Heechul didn't let him finish and sealed the distance between them. Their lips touched. Kyunghoon's arm wrapped around Heechul's neck while the other one was still grasping his hand. Heechul's free arm held Kyunghoon's waist gently, pushing their bodies closer together.

They somehow ended up standing, with Kyunghoon pinned to the wall and Heechul's knee dangerously between the two of Kyunghoon's legs. They parted for a second and put their foreheads against each other. Kyunghoon’s hand ventured to the hem of Heechul's shirt, then creeped underneath and up towards his hips. Heechul moved closer in and made sure to put enough friction with his leg and in between Kyunghoon's legs, just enough to make him groan.

Heechul licked Kyunghoon's ear seductively and gently bit it, Kyunghoon cried out and gripped Heechul's waist a little harder. They ended with a couple of pecks on the lips and smiled.

“You know, I never thought I'd enjoy kissing until now….” Kyunghoon blurted out.

“Well, I'm glad you do now….. but, can I ask you something?” Heechul said, sitting down on his bed again then gesturing Kyunghoon to sit down. “.....do you think we can be a thing?”

Kyunghoon chuckled. “Well, I think this thing can happen.” he took Heechul's hand in his.

“Geez, I'm so happy now. You probably have to go now, don’t you?” Heechul said.

“Yeah. Call me when you're free? You can come over and meet Soojin, pluuuus you can take these clothes back.” Kyunghoon responded.

“I'd love to.”

Kyunghoon left with a goodbye. Heechul's house felt so much emptier without him there. He went into his bed and let the sheets consume him and smiled, knowing that he'd see Kyunghoon again soon.

He slept through the whole night peacefully.

---

Kyunghoon walked into the cemetery’s entrance with a couple of flowers in his hand. He looked for his wife's name and then set the flowers down on top. He looked at the gravestone.

“I thought I'd forever be miserable without you here by my side, but I think I found someone that makes me happy as you did. You aren't being replaced. No one can replace you, so don't worry about that. I think I'm actually happy with him…… Thank you though, for everything.” Kyunghoon felt the tears welling up in his eyes, but didn't let them fall. “I'll never forget you…. And I love you so much.”

Kyunghoon left the cemetery with his head held high. He was going to see Heechul soon. His phone begun to ring, he picked it up.

“Hey Kyunghoon-ah! I'm coming in 5, just a heads up.” Heechul said.

“Oh, hyung! Yeah, I'll see you then.” Kyunghoon smiled to himself as he hung up the phone.