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2.19 a.m

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Jinyoung didn't really want to be here right now. Okay to be fair, he never really wants to be anywhere other than in the comfort of his own bed, reading books till the sun rises. It has gotten to the point where he runs on Iced Americano every morning just to stay awake in lectures. But today, today is different. Today is a school night but he's changing to his uniform for work. That's right, work, on a school night. It wouldn't be so bad if he's working in a quieter environment. He let out a huge sigh as he tightened the black apron behind his back, silently telling himself that it's just a six-hour shift, it can't be that bad. But it is bad, in fact, it's worse than bad. The moment he stepped out of the staff's locker room and walked outside, the music started blaring louder and the lights started flashing brighter and faster. It made him dizzy, and the fact that he drank three shots of espresso and a can of red bull to stay awake did anything but help, his world was spiraling.

“Hey Jinyoung, I'm really glad you could make it today,” Hakyeon, his supervisor walked over and gave him a warm smile. “Sorry for the sudden notice, some huge cooperation booked this bar tonight for a party and I really need more people for better service.” Hakyeon is a nice guy, and Jinyoung would count himself as one of the luckiest employees out there to not get an employer with bad attitude, especially when he's working in the service industry.

“Oh no, it's not a problem. Besides, you're the one paying me $200 tonight,” Jinyoung winked at him.

“The club will close in half an hour to prepare for the party, watch out for the time okay? I can't lose the booking.” Jinyoung was about to reply when a customer waved his hand to get his attention.

It's like this for almost all his shifts, he serves drinks, cleans, joke around with his colleagues, and repeats. He'd even get to interact with customers on days that the bar is empty, or when the customers are drunk and start dragging people to random conversations. Despite the fact that he may end work at times like four in the morning, he enjoyed this job. The people around him are nice and intoxicated customers are pretty fun to talk to. Jinyoung believes that he received better life advices from the drunk than the sober. However, there are also times when he hates his job.

“Can I get another glass of whiskey? On the rocks, please.” The man with a receding hairline said to Jinyoung while seemingly checking his ass out at the same time. He wasn't blind, he is well aware that this man has been eyeing him since he walked out of the locker room. When he fetched the drink from the bar to the man's table, the man took the glass from his hand and seized the chance to caress his hand. It creeped Jinyoung out, but he tolerated it because there's a high chance this man would leave a fat tip if he's satisfied with how much Jinyoung let him touch him. The man pulled Jinyoung closer to him and sniffed the area beneath his jawline, his other hand was on the back of Jinyoung’s thigh, slowly inching closer to his ass.

“Do you want to go somewhere?” The man asked Jinyoung, landing a firm grip on his ass. This is it, this is where it ends. Jinyoung may be desperate for excess cash, but he will never sell himself out like that, because what difference is this from prostitution?

“I'm sorry, I'm not really comfortable with that.” Jinyoung said, hoping that his outer appearance would let the man take pity on him and his innocence. However, things are never that simple.

“C'mon, you can quit this job and have me take care of you. Don't you want a taste of the finer things in life?” The man persisted, this time, he held Jinyoung tighter. He hated this, why can't people understand what fun is without actually having sex? It would've been a lot better if he just let Jinyoung entertain him as Jinyoung liked.

Jinyoung of course, was not surprised by this. He even tried harder to wriggle out of the man's grip. The man obviously still didn't catch his drift and decided to be more aggressive. He grabbed Jinyoung by the face and stared at him sternly, “listen if you don't want to lose your job, boy.” Well, he tried to be intimidating. But the thing is, Hakyeon would never fire him, he hates forcing things onto his employees and Jinyoung is also too popular to lose. Before he said anything else, their interaction was cut short.

“Let him go,” a hand roughly grabbed Jinyoung away from the man. He looked over and saw Mark, the bartender, who also happens to be one of his closest friends here. Mark hid Jinyoung behind his back and stared down at the man, “you know the rules old man, all employees here are allowed to say no. That was harassment, not convincing.” The man glared at Mark and sipped his whiskey, dismissing both of them.

“I see you dyed your hair,” Jinyoung said, referring to Mark's platinum blonde hair. Mark is an attractive guy with a slender figure, and his features are to die for. His marbled eyes and fair complexion blend really well together, and he also has the cutest smile. Jinyoung could only wish he's half as good looking as Mark.

“You didn't have to save me back there hyung, you know I can handle it.”

“A thank you would have sufficed Jinyoung. You shouldn't be too hard on yourself, you know you can come to me for financial difficulties. I'll be more than glad to help you Jinyoung ah.” Mark is different from Jinyoung. Whilst Jinyoung is here to earn money to pay for his rent and some allowance, Mark is bartending for fun. He's 4 years older than Jinyoung and came from a rich family. He's only working to get away from his parents’ constant nagging for him to get married. But Jinyoung could never go to Mark for help, he already feels like he owes Mark too much. This is the umpteenth time Mark has helped Jinyoung out of a difficult situation, and Mark constantly treats Jinyoung to food, knowing that Jinyoung cannot take care of himself.

“Thanks, hyung, but you already know what I’d say.” He winked at Mark and got back to work.

Soon, an hour has passed, and it was 11pm. It was time for the big party that Hakyeon had mentioned to him at the start of his shift. “I wonder who the big guest could be. Must be some kind of big shot for them to be able to afford bottles of our finest spirits.” Jinyoung said to Mark, leaning over the counter and passing him a shot glass that he's wiping.

“You don't know?” Mark looked at Jinyoung with a raised eyebrow. Sensing how clueless Jinyoung was, he continued, “Today is the 20th birthday of the Kim Yugyeom, the next in line CEO for Kim Corps.”

“Huh, so one of the finest guys in the country is going to be here tonight, cool.” Jinyoung didn't really care though, what are the odds that he would run into Kim Yugyeom, or even get a glimpse of him. Well even if he did, he wouldn't know. He doesn't even know what the guy looks like. Right now, he just wants to get his shift done, clock out, and get some sleep. He has a lecture on George Orwell tomorrow that he's really looking forward to.

“I said Kim Yugyeom, not Mark Tuan,” Mark joked with Jinyoung, cracking a smile. Jinyoung wouldn't deny it to himself though, he has the tiniest crush on Mark. Who wouldn't? Mark has it all, and not a single ounce of Mark screams rich spoiled brat. Mark is also independent and takes good care of Jinyoung, and Jinyoung is moved by him at times. But of course, Jinyoung would never risk their friendship over a tiny crush, he convinced himself that he will get over it eventually as time passes. He left Mark behind the counter after laughing at him because he could sense that the club was getting busier. Throughout the entire night, Jinyoung was serving drinks from table to table so fast that he could not feel his legs anymore.

‘Damn, should've known $200 a night was too good to be true. These kids drink spirits so fast you'd think it's water,’ Jinyoung thought to himself. He really just wants to sit down and rest his aching leg. The espresso shots and red bull paired with loud music and bright lights didn't exactly help his situation. His heart was beating really fast and he has been sweating profusely. It felt like his world was spinning and he was going to pass out any moment. Jinyoung clenched his fist and squeezed his eyes shut, he can't afford to pass out right now, not when he's only left with two hours of work. He stood still and took deep breaths to try and slow down his heart rate, but when he realised it wasn't working out, he willed himself to open his eyes and walk to the toilet, squeezing himself past a bunch of sleazy drunkards. When he reached the toilet, he couldn't take it anymore. He leans against the bathroom wall and lets himself slide down to the ground. He stayed there for a good few minutes before his heart rate started to slow down. He then stood back up and walked towards the sink, leaning over it and washing his face with ice cold water.

“Wow, who are you?” A voice sounded behind Jinyoung with the emphasis on ‘you’. Jinyoung looked up in the mirror and saw a reflection of a guy with lilac coloured hair. Saying he's attractive wouldn't even do this guy justice, he has a slender body that can be seen the way his pants are wrapped around his legs and his black button up, with the top two buttons undone, giving the world a tease of his chest muscle. To top it all off, this guy has a sultry gaze and a cute mole placed really closely under his right eye. Jinyoung felt overwhelmed by how breathtaking this guy looks.

“I'm sorry?” Jinyoung answered, finally turning around to look behind him instead of checking out the reflection in the mirror. The guy, however, did not say anything. He took a step closer to Jinyoung and placed his hands on the sides of the sink, trapping Jinyoung.

“Wow, I thought your ass was hot, but your face makes it even better,” the guy said, looking down before leaning closer to kiss Jinyoung on the cheek and slowly tracing his jaw with slow, soft pecks. It was so soft that Jinyoung almost let out a whine. As he did that, his hands started to wander around Jinyoung's body. He had one hand caressing Jinyoung’s back and the other making its way down Jinyoung's chest. He used the hand behind Jinyoung’s back to loosen the black apron and let it slip to the ground. Soon, his hand was fondling with Jinyoung's belt. The kisses definitely casted Jinyoung under a spell, but when he felt the guy fondling with his belt, he snapped his eyes open and stopped the guy, placing his hands on the other’s chest.

“I'm sorry, I don't offer any form of services in that sense. I'm just a waiter here,” Jinyoung said nicely, adjusting his belt. As he was going to bend down to pick up his apron, the guy grabbed his face and whispered, “you already work in a place like this. How does $2000 a night sound?” Jinyoung shook his head at the guy's request, he definitely does not want to lose his virginity to a client, he would feel sorry for himself.

“$10,000?”

“Sir, I don't think you understand. I appreciate the offer, but I'm just not interested.”

“You poor people are all the same huh, you act all righteous and pretend like you have a lot of respect for yourself when in reality you just don't want to feel guilty and don't have the guts to ask for more,” the guy scoffed in Jinyoung's face.

“Just because you can afford to wave a few thousands around in people's faces like they're pennies doesn't give you the liberty to treat people like shit. You probably don't even know the pain that comes from earning your own allowance, go fuck yourself.” Jinyoung spat at the guy before he could stop himself. He bent down to pick up his apron and left the toilet in a hurry. Before he left, he took a glance of the guy's face, and to Jinyoung's surprise, he almost looked sorry.

When he walked out of the toilet, he immediately went behind the bar counter and helped Mark with wiping the glasses. He was internally panicking because what if he loses his job just because he couldn't keep his stupid mouth shut.

“Hey, you alright? You look a little pale,” Mark walked over and asked him in concern. He reached his hand over and cupped Jinyoung's face. Jinyoung couldn't stop his own lips from quivering and he avoided eye contact with Mark. Mark then grabbed both of Jinyoung's hands and forced Jinyoung to look at him. Seeing that Jinyoung wasn’t going to talk any time soon, Mark led him to a stool and instructed him to sit there while he entertained the slightly intoxicated teenagers near the bar counter, serving them drinks. Once he was done, he walked back to where Jinyoung was and handed him a glass of warm water, gently rubbing Jinyoung’s back. Jinyoung looked up at Mark, “hyung, what if I’m fired?” Mark looked at Jinyoung in confusion but continued to comfort him anyway. Once Jinyoung has calmed down, he told Mark the entire story, feeling extremely grateful that Mark did not cut him off and held his hands tightly throughout the entire story.

“Hakyeon wouldn’t fire you, you don’t even know if the guy you met is rich enough to do that.”

“If he can afford to offer me ten grands for a night, I think he’s pretty loaded Mark.”

“You’re acting like you met Kim Yugyeom or something,” Mark joked with Jinyoung. Jinyoung chuckled softly, agreeing with Mark. Yeah, Mark’s right, Jinyoung is probably overreacting.

“Besides, I’m glad you stood up for yourself. Sorry I wasn’t there,” Mark added, gazing softly at Jinyoung. Jinyoung looked away, afraid that his face would turn red if stared at long enough. He also retracted his hand from Mark’s grasp, “I better get back to work, thanks Mark.” Mark lifted an eyebrow in confusion but let Jinyoung go anyway. Before Mark could get back to working again, Jinyoung was back to behind the bar counter and hid behind him.

“Hey, Mark, I don’t remember inviting you,” Mark looked up and saw Kim Yugyeom looking at him. They don’t have any bad blood specifically between their families, it’s just that Yugyeom doesn’t strike Mark as the type of friend he wants. He’s too much of a party animal and unambitious like every other kid born with a silver spoon, and Mark can’t stand being around those people.

“You didn’t, I’m the bartender here. Happy Birthday by the way.” Yugyeom mumbled thanks and was about to turn away when he saw a figure hiding behind Mark. He looked curiously over at Jinyoung, who is slightly taller than Mark, so Mark can’t exactly hide him from Yugyeom.

“Oh, it’s you,” Yugyeom said with an unreadable expression on his face, staring straight at Jinyoung whereas Jinyoung was looking anywhere but at Yugyeom.

“Can you come to my table and entertain us? We’re getting kind of bored,” Yugyeom directed at Jinyoung. Mark was about to interrupt them when Jinyoung cut him off and replied, “sure, of course.” Jinyoung’s pride will never let him back down and say no, he doesn’t want Yugyeom thinking that he is afraid after that heroic scene in the bathroom. As Jinyoung was about to leave with Yugyeom, Mark grabbed Jinyoung’s arm, “give me two minutes with Jinyoung,” Mark said.

“Alright, I’ll be in the VIP room,” Jinyoung nodded, acknowledging Yugyeom. Yugyeom left, and even his back view was alluring enough to make Jinyoung stare at him a little while longer.

“You want to tell me what was that? You never told me you know Kim Yugyeom.”

“Honey that’s because I don’t, that’s the bathroom guy.”

“THAT’S the rich guy you called out?” Mark asked, laughing loudly while Jinyoung’s face got redder.

“How could you not know what Kim Yugyeom looks like when he’s on every single magazine cover and all over the internet? Are you 21 or 61?” Jinyoung scoffed at Mark’s exaggeration. So what if he doesn’t know what Kim Yugyeom looks like, it’s not like that’s a jail sentence. It's not his fault that he can only afford extra time to study literature and not hot guys.

“Enough, I need to go to the VIP room.”

“Jinyoung ah, I'll drive you home later, alright?”

“No it's okay hyung, you don't have to wait another half hour for me. You can go home now.”

“I know you have school tomorrow so please let me drive you home, it's really late. And don’t force yourself to do anything you don’t want to do, even if he’s threatening you, alright? You don’t have to be afraid of getting fired. Hyung’s got your back,” Mark assured Jinyoung and gave him a comforting smile. See, this is why it’s hard to not fall for Mark. He’s so caring towards Jinyoung and always look out for him at work, it makes Jinyoung feels special, at least to one person. Jinyoung smiled tightly at Mark and walked towards the VIP room, not at all prepared for what’s about to go down.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
After being in the VIP room for a bit, he learnt that the two other guys in the room are BamBam and Jackson, who are Yugyeom’s closest friends, which is surprising to him because of how loud their personality is. Yugyeom doesn't look like the type of person who would mingle well with them, his vibe felt too serious to Jinyoung. Just as he was in the midst of his thoughts, Jackson told Jinyoung his purpose for joining them in the VIP room.

“Drinking?” Jinyoung scrunched up his face in disgust as he looked at BamBam preparing trains of shots and lining them up on the table.

“Yes, you're here to play a drinking game with us because we are one player short,” Jackson replied Jinyoung, clapping his hands in excitement.

“Yugyeom said you'll be fine with it,” BamBam added. Jinyoung whipped his head to look at Yugyeom and he hung a smug look on his face. He pulled Jinyoung closer to him and whispered, “I'll tip you heavily if that's what you're worried about.” Jinyoung got annoyed at Yugyeom's choice of words because it made him feel like he's really desperate for money, which yes, he is. But it doesn't feel good to have other people rubbing it in your face.

“Whatever, how does this game work?”

“I'm glad you asked beautiful. How this game works is that there will be two lines of fifteen shot glasses lined up, each shot glass is filled with different liquor. There will be two players in each team, and you start drinking from opposite ends of the table. There are lemons on the sides in case you can't handle the taste anymore. The group that finishes the fastest wins the game.”

“I'll play with Jinyoung,” Yugyeom said from behind him. They all got into their position at the opposite end of the tables. Jinyoung bent his knees at an almost 90-degree angle in preparation and they all did the same.

“Ready, 3, 2, 1, start!” BamBam shouted.

Jinyoung immediately reached out and took the first shot, feeling the burning sensation down his throat and his nose. ‘Bleh,’ he thought to himself. He hated the taste of alcohol and wanted the game to end as soon as possible. One after another shots, Jinyoung felt like his head was spinning, he never had good tolerance and cannot even remember the last time he took shots. He's starting to lose count of how many he's taken when he heard someone shout, “we're finished!” He looked up and saw Yugyeom holding up the last shot glass with pride.

“Damn it, we're only left with 3. I thought you were better than this Bam!” Jackson pouted.

“Who knew Jinyoung would be this good? I mean, no offense Jinyoung, but you look too nerdy for this.” Jinyoung couldn't really process what BamBam was saying so he just nodded and wobbled back to the sofa seat. His head kept spinning and he was far from okay.

“I want a rematch!”

“Jackson, stop being such a baby,” Yugyeom retaliated. However, he started helping BamBam with the pouring of the shots right after he said that. Jinyoung has never felt so much want to strangle a guy this much before, what's up with Yugyeom and why is he getting so much on his nerves?”

“Get up,” Yugyeom ordered Jinyoung and stared straight into his eyes. Jinyoung clenched his fist and forced his last bit of energy to stand up walked towards the table.

“3, 2, 1, go!”

This time, Jinyoung finished his shots as if they were water. He can no longer feel the burning sensation in his throat, and it was much easier to finish than the previous round. His best guess is that his brain is so fucked that it's not even letting him process how disgusting the drink is.

“We won, again.” BamBam and Jackson looked over at Jinyoung and started whining, saying that it's unfair and came up with all sorts of excuses for another rematch. Jinyoung was just standing there, barely processing a single word they were saying. He knows that he's already at his limit, he's drunk and tired and wants Mark to fetch him back home this instant.

As if his prayers were heard, the door opened and in walks Mark with his plain black shirt and ripped jeans. “Sorry dudes, the bar is closing and Jinyoung’s shift is ending.” As if on cue, they all walked out of the VIP room. Yugyeom turned back and handed Jinyoung something before whispering something to Mark. Jinyoung didn't bother checking what it was and just accepted what Yugyeom gave him. When the trio left the VIP room, Jinyoung started walking to the locker room and took out his apron. He also unbuttoned his shirt and started changing in front of Mark. He lifted one leg to change out of his pants and lost his balance, falling face flat and bumping his head into the edge of his locker in the process.

“Ouch,” Jinyoung whined as his face is now flat on the ground, his pants halfway down his thigh and his forehead now bleeding. Mark rushed inside the staff closet and saw Jinyoung on the ground. He hurried towards him and helped him up, sitting him down on the bench.

“You should've told me you need help,” Mark whispered softly to Jinyoung and ruffled his hair. Jinyoung felt his face start to heat up and looked down, thinking how embarrassing it is for Mark to see him in this state. He leaned his head against the locker and shut his eyes, silently cursing himself. Mark, however, did not leave the room after helping Jinyoung up. He squats down in front of Jinyoung and removed his pants for him, which surprised Jinyoung and he opened his eyes and looked at Mark. Watching Mark bending down from his angle is turning him on in some sort of way, but he willed himself so hard to not get a boner and let Mark help him get into his pants. Mark also helped Jinyoung out of his shirt and folded his uniform nicely, putting it in his locker and locking it. He then held Jinyoung's hand and walked him out of the staff closet and to his car.

“Stay here alright, I’m going to lock up the place for Hakyeon,” Jinyoung mumbled an incoherent word and Mark could only assume he said ‘okay’ or something along that line. He ran back to the bar and locked it up, making sure it’s secure. He then ran back to the car to drive Jinyoung home. While Mark was locking up the place, Jinyoung knew that he is going to be dead for tomorrow's class. So, he closed his eyes and let himself drift to sleep on Mark's car despite the discomfort.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jaebum let out an annoyed growl when he heard the doorbell ring for the 5th time. He looked over at his alarm clock and saw that it was 4.30a.m. ‘Who the fuck could it be at this hour?’ Jaebum thought to himself. He looked over and saw Youngjae stirring in his sleep and smiled to himself, so adorable. He jumped out of bed and ran towards the door, afraid that Youngjae would wake up. To his surprise, when he opened the door, he saw Jinyoung unconscious in the arm of a man with platinum blonde hair.

“Hi, does Park Jinyoung live here?” The guy asked. As Jaebum was too in shock to say anything, he only nodded.

“Oh, please don't misunderstand. I’m Mark and I work with him and he passed out while drinking with the customers this time round so I drove him home,” the guy rambled. Jaebum raised his eyebrows in confusion, wondering why the guy was worried that he'd misunderstand, then it hit him.

“Oh no, don't worry, we're just roommates, that's all. Here, I'll show you to his bedroom.” Jaebum opened the door wider and let Mark in, leading him to Jinyoung's bedroom. Jaebum pulled away the covers and Mark gently let Jinyoung down onto his bed, Jinyoung let out a soft whine when he was out of Mark's embrace and Jaebum covered him with his duvet.

He then showed Mark to the door and thanked him for taking good care of Jinyoung.

“No problem. Have a good rest Jaebum-sshi,” Mark said to Jaebum and walked away from the gates of their apartment. Jaebum was still surprised, because for a rich guy, Mark sure does not come off obnoxious. He walked back to his bedroom and laid down on his bed, cuddling Youngjae to sleep.

Chapter Text

6.51a.m and all Jinyoung felt was regret. He was hugging the toilet bowl and emptying his contents from yesterday. His head was pounding, and it felt like there was a war waging inside. The alcohol also gave him a twist in his stomach, he felt sick from head to toe. This is the most hungover he's ever gotten. After he's sure that there is nothing left to vomit, he stood up and dragged his body back to bed. George Orwell lecture was at 10a.m so he can afford to go back to sleep for another two hours, and he can only hope that the two hours would be enough to work some miracle for him to function properly again. The next time Jinyoung woke up was because of the bright light shining directly onto his face, indicating that the sun has risen. He regretted placing his bed opposite the window, but it has its perks because that’s how he wakes up for classes, it could get annoying when he has no need to go to school though. Jinyoung groaned at the bright light and squeezed his eyes until his vision was just a straight line. He reached over and took his phone, which, surprisingly, is fully charged. Probably Jaebum, thanks Jaebum, he reminded himself to thank Jaebum later, for once again taking care of him.

The clock on his phone reads 9.02a.m, indicating that he has about 30 minutes to get ready for his class. He jumped out of bed and went to get ready for school. When he went out into the living room, he saw a breakfast laid out on the table, it was two butter toasts. He walked towards it and saw a post-it note near the plate.

Here’s your breakfast Jinyoungie, there’s an Iced Latte in the fridge that I made for you in the morning. Hangover pills are on the counter, see you at lunch. - Jaebum

Jinyoung smiles to himself and ate the buttered toast, he loves how Jaebum continues to be a caring hyung for him despite dating Youngjae. Initially, he was afraid that Jaebum would change and neglect him because of Youngjae, but when he met Youngjae, he just knew that he can’t stop Jaebum from loving him. Youngjae is such a ray of sunshine and everyone that has ever met him only has positive things to say about him, he’s good for Jaebum, and Jinyoung knew that. His worries turn out to be for nothing when Jaebum continues to care the same for Jinyoung even after dating Youngjae for 3 years. They are so sweet to the point where it makes Jinyoung want to believe in love. Once he was done with his breakfast, he got changed into a plaid shirt and black pants. After wearing contacts the entire night, he decided to go with his round glasses, he has no plans to go blind anytime soon. He took his backpack and went to fridge to get his iced coffee, finally leaving the house.

Jinyoung:

Hyungg, thanks for the breakfast. And thank you for taking care of me last night.

Jaebum:

No problem, see you at lunch.

When Jinyoung reached his lecture hall, he settled down at his usual seat, which is at the front few rows and right smack in the middle of the lecture theatre, because he thinks that seat has ‘one of the clearest views’ of the whiteboard. He reached into his backpack to take out his notes when he felt something crumpled, like a piece of paper. He furrowed his eyebrows in confusion and fished out that paper. To his surprise, when he took it out and laid it flat on the table, it wasn’t just a piece of paper, it was a thousand-dollar bill. Jinyoung panicked and quickly hid the bill in his wallet, afraid that someone would see it. How did this get into his backpack? He closed his eyes shut and looked through the memories of yesterday, there was a vague memory of someone handing him something, but he just can't remember the context and the face of that person. As he was trying really hard to remember, he heard two girls talking behind him.

“Oh my god, did you see pictures of Kim Yugyeom’s 20th birthday party?”

“Yes! It was at a bar, I wish I went there to get a glimpse of his face in real life, he’s so sexy!”

Kim Yugyeom, this name, as if on cue, triggered every single memory of Jinyoung’s night, from the moment he met Kim Yugyeom, to when he insulted him and finally to when he played a drinking game with him, BamBam and Jackson. He remembered every single intimate detail, from how Yugyeom touched him in the bathroom and how Yugyeom kept whispering into his ears and breathing down his neck in the VIP room. He soon puts the pieces together in a matter of seconds and realised that the thousand-dollar bill is from Yugyeom. Jinyoung was so deep in his own thoughts he didn't even realise that his lecturer is already inside the room, ready to begin. And the lecture that he was so looking forward to, ended up being the worst lecture he ever had, he could not stop thinking about what happened the night before. Hence, lecture went by as a blur. When the bell rang, he packed up his bags and went to a café just 10 minutes away from their campus to meet Jaebum and Youngjae for lunch, and he cannot wait to tell them how he managed to fuck up big time.

___________

“Wait, WHAT? You actually said THAT to Kim Yugyeom?” Youngjae asked loudly with his sandwich half chewed. Youngjae's eyes widened in surprise, his hyung that is usually so composed and take so many shits from other people actually retaliated. He didn't know what was more surprising, the fact that he fought back on his own or the person he told off was Kim Yugyeom. Jinyoung sensed that people whipped their heads around to look at their table at the mention of ‘Kim Yugyeom’ and immediately shushed Youngjae, “I really don't want the attention, so stay quiet please,” Jinyoung pleaded. Jaebum was pissed at Kim Yugyeom, he's been with Jinyoung since the beginning and how Jinyoung has to bear with some cocky rich bastard did not sit well with him.

“Better not let me run into him,” Jaebum said, clenching his jaw. Sensing the tension in the atmosphere, Jinyoung laughed nervously and decided to change the topic.

“Hyung, thanks for taking care of me last night, I must've been fucked up because I don't even remember how I got home.” Jinyoung said, letting out a laugh and took a bite from his spaghetti.

“Uhmmm, I didn't? You don't remember who took you home?” Jaebum raised an eyebrow at Jinyoung, cocking his head to the side in question.

“I wasn't by myself?” Jaebum let out a sigh, “Jinyoung ah, you were so drunk, you could barely even walk, and you only mumbled incoherent words. A guy named Mark drove you home and took you to bed, I only assisted.”

“Wait, Mark as in platinum blonde hair and slender body Mark?”

“Yes Jinyoung, that's the guy who brought you home.”

“Well shit, why didn't you tell me? I haven't called him to give my proper thanks!” Jinyoung sputtered with unfinished spaghetti still in his mouth. He quickly chewed the remaining spaghetti left in his mouth and downed a glass of water, reaching out to his pocket and getting his phone. He dialed Mark's number and after the first few rings, Mark picked up.

“Jinyoung ah, I see you're still alive and well.”

“Hyung, I'm sorry, I didn't know you were the one who took care of me last night until Jaebum told me which is literally five seconds ago.”

“Oh, no, it's fine. How's your forehead doing?”

“It's still bleeding under the band-aid, but it'll stop eventually I guess.”

“I'll get you some cream for your forehead and some plasters, see you at work Jinyoung!” “Hyung there is no need -” Before he could complete his sentence, Mark already hung up on him. He smiled to himself at how Mark is taking care of him again despite yesterday, it's like Mark never gets tired of how clumsy Jinyoung can get and it warms his heart just a little.

“Someone's happy, anything you want to tell us about this Mark guy?” Youngjae asked with a smirk on his face. Jinyoung felt a burning sensation from his cheeks to his ears and he just wished he could hide from the both of them.

“Nothing, he's a hyung from work,” Jinyoung answered, providing as little detail as possible.

 

“I think my little Jinyoungie has a crush, how adorable.” Jaebum coos and Youngjae laughed at how flustered that made Jinyoung. He feels like his face could not get any redder than it possibly is right now. He stood up and excused himself from the two of them, knowing that it's only going to get worse if he doesn't attempt to leave. He went to the counter to get himself another Iced Latte, to hopefully last him until he's finished with work. After he ordered, he waited at the counter for his drink. Suddenly, a tall silhouette entered the café and people started whispering around Jinyoung, some people even whipped out their phone to take a photo of the guy.

“What the heck, is that a celebrity or something?” Jinyoung thought to himself. It's hard to tell with the lights shining directly at Jinyoung, it also doesn't help that the man is quite a distant away. All he could see was a tall man with legs that never seemed to end. As the guy inched closer to the cashier, Jinyoung squeezed his eyes a little to get a good glimpse of the guy's face. When he realised who he was staring at, he wanted to turn his back and just walk away, but too late. As Jinyoung was about to make a run for it, the guy looked in Jinyoung's direction and halted in his tracks, his eyes widening. He definitely recognises Jinyoung alright.

___________

Yugyeom is definitely the life of the party, he loves dancing and drinking in clubs, always around to show everyone how to properly have a good time. But yesterday, his 20th birthday, gave him the worst hangover ever. He woke up and hugged the toilet for an hour, just pouring contents out of his body. It literally felt like he was about to choke and die from his own vomit. His head was pounding, and he was still in last night’s clothes. None of this is a pretty sight and in that moment, he swears that that will be the last time he is ever drinking. When he stood up, his world started spinning and he barely made it into his bed. Just before he goes back to sleep, his stomach started growling and he whined to himself. Knowing that he has to get up to go get food for himself, he stood up once again and changed out of his yesterday’s outfit to sweatpants and a hoodie. He definitely did not feel like styling his hair, so he sprayed some dry shampoo and back combed it with his hands, then covering the messy hairdo with a cap. Yugyeom then left his house and drove his matte black Maserati to the café he always goes to when he's back in Korea.

When he got there, he could feel all the eyes on his Maserati and him, probably because it is pretty unusual for someone to drive a luxury car down a humble neighbourhood. When he walked into the café, everyone was staring at him, some even started taking photos of him. ‘Ugh I should've put on some concealer,’ Yugyeom thought, knowing that his dark eye circles probably spell out “hungover” right now. As he was about to get his coffee and food, he felt someone staring intensely at him, so he turned his head and he saw someone standing there in a plaid shirt and a button down. Upon closer inspection, he realised that it is Jinyoung, and he's wearing glasses. Cute, Yugyeom thought. Memories of yesterday came back to him in an instant and he felt apologetic towards Jinyoung. So, he made his way over to Jinyoung, and boy is Jinyoung panicking.

“It's you,” Yugyeom started, not really knowing how to work an apology into the conversation.

“Oh, it is me alright,” Jinyoung answered, looking down and playing with the hem of his shirt. Before Jinyoung could say anything else, Jaebum walked over hid Jinyoung behind his back.

“Look, he might've let you off easily yesterday but just know that today, you're not leaving until I break your nose.” Jaebum said, glaring at Jinyoung. Yugyeom winced at the Jaebum's tone, he could tell how serious Jaebum is and he really can't afford another scandal right now. He is also well aware of how much of a dick he was yesterday to Jinyoung. “Wow, relax, I just wanted to apologise to Jinyoung for yesterday,” Yugyeom tried reasoning with Jaebum. “Save it. Jinyoung ah, grab your bag and wait outside with Youngjae, I'll go to you in a bit.” But that did not happen. Instead, Youngjae came over with Jinyoung's bag and grabbed Jaebum’s arm. “Hyung, you're making a scene, besides, I think we should let Jinyoung handle this.” Upon hearing Youngjae's voice, Jaebum's tensed muscles visibly relaxed immediately and he looked at Youngjae fondly. Youngjae looks really familiar but Yugyeom cannot seem to make out who he is, his identity is at the top of his head, but he just can’t remember anything. Yugyeom then snapped back to reality and saw how gentle Jaebum’s eyes became as soon as he turned to look at Youngjae, it made Yugyeom envious just a little bit. Jaebum, knowing that he should not overstep his boundary, walked back to their table with Youngjae, handling the situation to Jinyoung. But he did not take his eyes off Jinyoung just in case Yugyeom does something unexpected.

“I don't need your apology,” Jinyoung said to Yugyeom. He reached into his backpack and took out the thousand-dollar bill, shoving it into Yugyeom’s hand, “here's your coffee money.” Yugyeom looked down and was confused, Jinyoung clearly needs it more than he does, so why is he rejecting it? It made no sense to Yugyeom.

“Jinyoung,” Yugyeom started, wanting to stop Jinyoung. But Jinyoung raised his hand up to stop Yugyeom. “Yugyeom sshi, I hope we never run into each other ever again.” And with that, Jinyoung walked away and left him there. Yugyeom let out a frustrated groan, knowing that he could've been nicer to Jinyoung, but he let his poor judgement hurt Jinyoung. He sighs and walked back to the cashier for what his main purpose here was, lunch.

___________

Never in a million years did Jinyoung think that he would be lucky enough to run into Kim Yugyeom two days in a row. But he did, and he is glad that he has Jaebum to back him up this time round, if not, he probably would have been a stuttering mess, and the thousand-dollar bill would still be with him. As much as he has the need for that money, he is not willing to accept that tip from Kim Yugyeom, especially after telling him off the night before. He will find another way to raise the money somehow.

“Are you okay? That looked intense,” Youngjae asked, patting Jinyoung’s back softly.

“Yeah, I’m alright, you two should probably get going. It’s almost 2 and you have class, right?”

“What about you?” Jaebum asked, his voice still laced with concern.

“I’m going to work, don’t wait up for me tonight.”

“Got your house keys with you?” At that question, Jinyoung reached into the smallest compartment at the front of his backpack to check for his keys, when he felt it, he gave Jaebum a nod and smiled at him. Youngjae and Jaebum left the café hand in hand and walked to their class together. Jinyoung smiled sweetly at the sight and turned away, walking to the subway to go to his workplace. He took out his earphones and listened to music along the way, calming himself down after the encounter with Yugyeom and to hopefully contain his excitement to meet Mark later.

Jaebum:

Don’t drink tonight, please.

You need to realise that your body has a limit too.

The corners of Jinyoung’s lips curved upwards when he read the two text messages from his hyung, his own mother might not be out here to take care of him, but Jaebum is here, which is pretty much the same thing. In fact, Jaebum probably nags at him about his own health more than his mother does.

Jinyoung:

Yes hyung, I promise I won’t be drinking tonight. I doubt Mark would let me anyway.

Jaebum:

Is this ‘Mark’ guy going to be popping up more frequently?

Jinyoung:

Shush hyung, go pay attention in class or disturb Youngjae.

___________

When Jinyoung finally reached the station, he got up and felt his head spin for a moment, probably due to the hour-long train ride. He ignored it and got out of the train, walking to his workplace. As he had fallen asleep on the journey here, he did not realise that it was pouring heavily until he got to the entrance of the train station. Looking at the rain drops splattering heavily to the ground, his mouth slowly went ajar, how is he ever going to get to his workplace without an umbrella? His workplace was a 10-minute walk away from the station. As he was trying to figure out a solution, he heard a loud honk. He looked to the direction where the honk sounded from and saw a white Mercedes Benz. The window rolled down and revealed Mark, smiling at Jinyoung.

“It’s your lucky day Jinyoung. Get in before I change my mind,” Mark said jokingly. Jinyoung felt so much relief because if not for Mark, he would have been soaking wet by the time he reached his workplace.

“Why are you so early Mark? Your shift doesn’t start till another hour.”

“I could say the same for you. Anyways, I’m early because I have an idea for a new drink and I want to experiment it today.” Mark said, keeping his eyes on the road and driving at a slower pace due to the minor flood on the road. When they reached the parking lot for their workplace, the loud splattering of the raindrops on the hood of Mark’s car disappeared and the atmosphere in the car went quiet. Jinyoung shifted uncomfortably in his seat because of how awkward he felt after yesterday, and the scene of Mark removing his pants for him just had to flash in his mind in that instant. His face went red and he looked away from Mark. When Mark parked his car, Jinyoung opened the car door and got out immediately.

“Jinyoung ah, I got you some cream for your forehead. Let’s go, I’ll help you with the application.” Mark said to Jinyoung, holding up a plastic bag from the pharmacy. Jinyoung followed behind Mark and let Mark unlock the door to their bar. He entered the staff closet and changed into his uniform. Once he tightened his black apron, he turned around to see that Mark is already done with changing and was looking at him with the cream in his hand. Mark even bought cotton swabs and alcohol wipes to clean the wound. Jinyoung sat down on the benches and faced Mark. Mark removed the band-aid on Jinyoung’s forehead and began patting the alcohol wipes gently. Jinyoung flinched as his forehead started stinging, he clenched his fist just a little bit to help him with the slight pain. Once Mark was done cleaning the wound, he used a cotton swab to help with the application of the cream, with how soft Mark was patting on his wound, it was almost ticklish. Jinyoung leaned back a little bit because of how ticklish it was, and Mark leaned forward, closer to Jinyoung, until he could feel Mark breathing on him. Jinyoung closed his eyes shut to avoid staring at Mark but now all he could feel was the hot breaths Mark was letting out.

“Sorry, did I hurt you?” Mark asked and paused the application.

“No, it’s just a little ticklish,” Jinyoung admitted and opened his eyes. Mark’s mouth formed an ‘oh’ and continued applying the medication, “alright, I’m done.” Jinyoung let out a breath that he had no idea he was holding in and Mark took out another band-aid, it was a SpongeBob band-aid. Noticing the designs, Jinyoung raised an eyebrow at Mark.

“What? It’s cute,” Mark defended himself and pasted the band-aid on Jinyoung’s forehead.

“All done, here’s the medication and alcohol swabs, remember to change the dressing if it’s still bleeding okay?” Mark handed Jinyoung the plastic bag.

“Hyung, how much is it? I’ll pay you back when the pay rolls in,” Jinyoung asked. Mark waved Jinyoung off, indicating that there is no need to pay him back. Jinyoung stood up and placed the medication inside his backpack, which was in his locker.

“But hyung, I feel bad,” Jinyoung argued. Mark then hummed for a little bit and leaned in closer to Jinyoung’s face, using his right arm as a prop and resting it against the locker. Jinyoung was trapped and had nowhere to go. “Well, you can pay me back with something else.” Mark said, enjoying how flustered Jinyoung looks in the situation right now, his cheeks were flushed and he’s clenching his fist tightly, it’s so cute. Mark had to bite his tongue so he doesn’t burst out laughing and ruin his own act.

“Hyung, what are you saying?” Jinyoung asked in a soft voice. Mark let out a laugh, removing his arm from the locker and moved away from Jinyoung’s face, he knows he shouldn’t tease Jinyoung too much. He swatted away the dusts on his sleeves and answered Jinyoung, “I’m playing around Jinyoung ah. But I do need your help for one thing.”

Jinyoung raised an eyebrow at Mark’s reply, what help could Mark possibly need from Jinyoung? “Well, I have a cruise party to attend on December 23rd, which is about a month from now. It’s a party that gathers the people of higher social economics class, a chance for us to socialise and hopefully gain more investors for our own companies."

 

“So, why are you telling me about this?” Jinyoung asked, still puzzled.

“I need a date, Jinyoung ah, a date so that my parents would stop coming after me to get married, so that they will leave me alone. And also, a date will make me look more promising for investors, I won’t have a playboy aura if I am only intimate with one person throughout the entire party.”

“But I don’t like crowds,” Jinyoung replied as his face scrunched up at the thought of socialising with strangers and possibly kissing up to them.

“Come on Jinyoung, help me out, please. It’s not much honestly, and there’s a free buffet from Shinhwa Hotel on the luxury cruise ship!” Mark said, hoping to have baited Jinyoung with “free buffet” at Shinhwa Hotel, which is a five-star rated hotel with one of the best seafood buffet in the country.

“Alright, I’ll help you. What’s the dress code?” Jinyoung agreed readily as he didn’t want to owe Mark any more favours.

“Just show up in a suit Jinyoung ah, thank you,” Mark smiled gratefully and ruffled Jinyoung’s hair. They both got out of the locker room and went behind the bar counter. Jinyoung sat on one of the bar stools and watch as Mark begins mixing his new drink. He doesn’t want to admit it but going to the cruise party as Mark’s date made him a little bit excited.

Once Mark was done mixing his new drink, he poured it into a highball glass and placed it on the counter in front of Jinyoung, “here, have a sip.” The drink looked intimidating, it has a deep blue colour with a tinge of yellow and purple at the bottom.

“What’s in it?” Jinyoung asked, he has never seen any drink like this before.

“Well, have a sip, take a guess, and I’ll tell you at the end,” Mark said, winking at Jinyoung. Jinyoung reached for the glass and took a sip, the drink tasted a little bit earthy, with a hint of sweetness that tasted like blueberries. When he swallowed the drink, it left a little burning sensation around his throat.

“I taste blueberry and maybe, a little bit of vodka?” Jinyoung guessed, he couldn’t really tell.

“What about the taste, Jinyoung? Do you like it?” Mark pressed, urging for Jinyoung’s reply.

“Yeah, it also has an earthy taste and doesn’t seem like it has high alcohol content and it’s actually pretty soothing, like a Mojito or Long Island Tea.” “I’m glad you liked it, it’s made after you,” Mark winked at Jinyoung. Jinyoung was surprised, made after him? What does Mark mean by that? As if he voiced out his thoughts, Mark answered, “yesterday, when I sent you home, the sky at four in the morning looked exactly like this, a dark blue patch with a tinge of iris on the horizon that greets the city. You were smiling in your sleep and your cheeks were crimson, so I used half a shot glass of white rum along with a little blueberry syrup to highlight the blue colour. The hotness came from vodka, which is another half a shot.”

Jinyoung stared at the highball glass in awe, “that was all it took for its beautiful colour?”

“No, I brewed some butterfly pea flower tea last night, which created the blue to purple gradient. Adding a squeeze of lemon will result in some yellow at the bottom. The tea caused the earthy taste by the way.”

“How did you even come up with this in a day?”

“I told you, you were the main inspiration,” Mark reached his hands out and pinched Jinyoung’s cheeks.

“Wow hyung, I didn't know you like staring at me that much. Perhaps I should start being cautious of you,” Jinyoung glared playfully at Mark.

“Ah, you like it when I stare,” Mark said, leaving Jinyoung alone with the new drink. Jinyoung chuckled, if only Mark realised how true that was.

“Hyung, what are you naming this drink?”

“I'm thinking Time,” Mark answered, making a second glass for himself.

“What do you mean?”

“Time, something that us humans have been racing against since forever, something that everybody would want more of.” Mark’s voice got timid after each word and he stared into space. Jinyoung turned around as it felt like there's more depth to Mark's words than just the surface. Mark was back facing Jinyoung and his fists were clenched, it wasn't until he saw Mark used his right sleeve to wipe his eyes then he knew Mark was actually crying.

“Hyung,” Jinyoung wanted to go comfort Mark but Mark raised his hands and stopped him before he even left his seat. Mark is a broken man who is still waiting for his lover to come home, and Jinyoung knows that, which is why he respects Mark, so much that he is trying to suppress this tiny crush that is developing. It might be difficult for him to deny the butterflies in his stomach when Mark does something nice for him or how his heart raced every time Mark inches closer to him, but he knows he can’t afford to be selfish towards Mark.

“I’m sorry, Jinyoung, that you have to witness that,” Mark’s voice broke the silence in the room, it was almost too deafening for Jinyoung to stay there.

“It’s okay hyung, do you want to go home? I can stay and manage with Hakyeon,” Jinyoung offered.

“No, I can’t let everyone work so hard while I mop alone at home, it’s been over a year, I’ll learn to manage,” Mark said, pouring himself a glass of the same drink he just made Jinyoung.

“Time, aren’t you a pain in the ass?” Mark asked rhetorically, staring at the slow change of colour at the bottom of the glass as he squeezes the final drop out of the lemon. Jinyoung walked over to Mark and gave him a toast, clinking their glasses together. It’s enough, Jinyoung thought to himself and a smile crept onto his face, his friendship with Mark is enough.

Chapter Text

Lights near the stairwell started switching off on its own, signalling to Jinyoung that the library is closing in 5 minutes. It is time for him to get home. He looked out and saw that night had befallen, and it was drizzling. “Shit, I should’ve brought an umbrella,” he thought to himself. Jinyoung hastily swept all the books on the desk into his backpack and ran to the first floor, hoping to get home before the rain gets heavier. Jinyoung never liked the feeling of rain, it gives off an eerie vibe, very ominous feeling. It’s even worse when there are thunder and lightning, almost like the sky is telling him he is going to have a bad day no matter what he does. He reached the entrance of the library and realised that there are no umbrellas left on the umbrella stand. He was about to make a run to the nearest bus stop back home, which is about 400 metres from the entrance of the library when his phone buzzed. ‘Mine’, the screen read. Jinyoung scrunched up his nose, inwardly cringing and wondered to himself, ‘Who the hell is this?’

He picked up the call anyway and heard a really familiar voice, that is slightly nasally, “stay put baby, I’m on the way to pick you up.”

“Uhmm, who is this?”

“Very funny Jinyoung, I will make sure that by tonight, my name will be the only thing on your mind,” the other voice on the line said cheekily, but he sounded serious too. Jinyoung immediately flushed as his mind started filling up with racy thoughts about someone he doesn’t even know, but he sure sounds hot.

“I’ll reach in about 3 more minutes, stay put alright?” Before Jinyoung could answer, the other person had already hung up on him. He was extremely tempted to run back home on his own, but another part of him willed him to stay at the library entrance. A few minutes later, a matte black Maserati slowed down at the cab stand near the library entrance. A honk was sounded from the Maserati, seeing that he is the only one at the entrance, this is probably his ride. He walked over to the car, and with every step he took, his heart felt heavier, who exactly is this guy calling him baby? He reached the passenger seat and knocked on the car window, which slowly descended in response. Before he could get a good look at the person’s face, he heard someone shouting his name.

“Jinyoung ah, wake up!” He looked around himself and don’t see anybody around him, but the voices did not stop ringing in his head. He covered his ears and clenched his eyes shut; it seems like nothing could shut them up.

___________

“Jinyoung ah, wake up!” Jaebum shouted and smashed a pillow against Jinyoung’s face. It is currently 1 p.m, and Jaebum knows that if Jinyoung does not wake up now, he will be late for all the appointments that Mark has scheduled for him to get ready for the cruise party. Jinyoung clenched his eyes shut in response, and Jaebum took this opportunity to shout louder. Since Youngjae is already up and preparing for the same cruise party, Jaebum didn't have to worry about waking him up. Jinyoung finally groaned in response to Jaebum and mumbled some words.

 

“Today is the cruise party Jinyoung, Mark is going to pick you up from the salon later at 5 p.m so hurry up, let's hustle.” At the mention of ‘Mark', Jinyoung rose out of bed immediately and went to shower. Jaebum chuckled and went back to his room. There were about 10 suits laid out on the bed, all in different colours, patterns and material. He looked at Youngjae, who appears to be in Jaebum's hoodie and shorts, it looks so oversized on Youngjae, so adorable. He walked over to Youngjae, who was staring at the suits and appears to be thinking hard. He wrapped his arms around Youngjae's waist and rests his head on his shoulder. Youngjae jumped a little bit at the contact and giggled, “hyung, pick a suit for me, I can't choose.”

 

Jaebum's eyes scanned the suits on the bed before his eyes finally landed on a blue blazer with matching blue pants and ribbon tie. The outfit was paired with a simple plain white button-up underneath.

 

“That one,” he pointed on the bed and Youngjae picked it up, investigating the suit a little with his eyes before smiling at Jaebum, “thanks hyung!” Youngjae said excitedly and kissed Jaebum on the cheeks.

 

___________

 

Jinyoung let out a huge sigh as he lets the cold water trickle down his body. He gently massaged the shampoo into his hair as he thought about the dream he just had. That voice, he knows he heard it somewhere before, but he couldn't remember who exactly, and it frustrates him because who is he having such racy dreams about? He is supposed to be excited to be with Mark the entire night for the cruise party, but here he is, mind preoccupied over some guy from his dream. He let out a frustrated groan and pushed any thoughts about the dream to the back of his mind.  He has been looking forward to this day since the day Mark asked him, so he's not going to let a stupid dream distract him. He quickly finishes up his shower and wrapped the lower half of his body with his towel as he had forgotten to bring a change of clothes into the bathroom.

“Youngjae ah, do you have any suit that I can borrow?” Jinyoung shouted from his room even though Youngjae’s room is just across the tiny hallway.

 

“Come inside and pick!” Jinyoung then put on his hoodie and shorts and headed over to Youngjae’s room. Youngjae was also going to the party tonight because his older brother is actually the one organising the event on the cruise ship. Having someone else familiar there eased his mind because he doesn’t have to cling onto Mark 24/7, even though he wouldn’t mind at all. Jaebum however, is not attending this party because Youngjae’s parents want the attention to be drawn towards Youngjae’s older brother instead of Youngjae.

 

Jinyoung entered the room and found Youngjae in a blue suit, spraying some cologne on himself. “Take your own pick, hyung,” Youngjae said to Jinyoung while amending the sleeves on his blazers. Jinyoung looked down on the bed and saw a couple of suits laid down on the bed, the suits will be more tight fitting on Jinyoung since he is more built than Youngjae, so it will be a tad bit uncomfortable. But since the cruise party is only going to be a few hours, Jinyoung didn’t care, he is not spending money on a suit for that few hours. He stared on the suits laid nicely on the bed before landing his eyes on a light grey checkered blazer with matching pants, the outfit is finished with a simple white button up and a navy blue tie. He pointed that suit out to Youngjae, who just gave him a nod while he continues to keep himself occupied, still amending the suit on himself. Jinyoung then picked up the suit from Youngjae’s bed and walked back into his room. He stripped off his clothes and sprayed a ton of deodorant before donning the suit carefully so as to not leave any creases or wrinkles. Once he was finished, he looked into the mirror and smiled at himself, ‘ not bad Jinyoung’, he thought.

 

“Hyung, are you done? It’s almost 2 and your hair appointment is at 2.30!” Jinyoung walked out after hearing Youngjae shouting at him and smiled sheepishly at Youngjae.

 

“Youngjae ah, I don’t look weird, right?” Jinyoung asked. He looked down at the fabric and started touching the hem of his sleeves nervously, he was obviously not used to wearing anything fancy like this, so he felt really unnatural.

 

“Are you kidding me? Park Jinyoung, you look like a snack!” Jaebum, who is in an apron and frying an egg, replied him. Youngjae giggled and gave Jinyoung a thumbs up, agreeing with what Jaebum said about Jinyoung. Jaebum turned around and continued to fry his egg.

 

“Can’t you come to the salon with me?” Jinyoung whined at Youngjae and pouted. He can’t imagine how awkward it is for a bunch of people to be surrounding him and grooming him.

 

“What for? The stuff I need to get ready is in this apartment,” Youngjae raised an eyebrow at Jinyoung. “Run along, hyung, you’re going to be late. I’m sure you don’t want a certain someone to wait for you,” Youngjae finished and wiggled his eyebrows at Jinyoung. Jinyoung scowled at Youngjae’s comments and proceeded to wear his only pair of loafers, he left the apartment with just his keys, phone and wallet. The hair and makeup appointment was Mark’s idea since Jinyoung was going to be interacting with a ton of rich people, he might as well ‘look the part’, as quoted by Mark hyung. Jinyoung then walked to the nearest subway station near his house since the salon was only a few stops away.

 

___________

 

When Jinyoung got off the subway, he fished into his pockets and took out his phone. He went back to his chats with Mark and looked for the location of the salon that Mark had sent him two weeks back, the appointment and payment had already been made by Mark. He clicked onto the link and Google Maps popped up. He headed towards the exit of the subway station and travelled up the escalator. While he was ascending, his mouth slowly gaped open, all he sees around him are luxury shops like Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Rolex, Prada, etc. “Jesus, how boujee is this salon?” Jinyoung thought to himself. A salon that exists in the midst of all these extravagant brands must be pricey. He looked down on his phone and continued to navigate his own way to the salon.

 

The salon turned out to be a short walk from the subway station, making it easy for Jinyoung to find. He stopped in front of the shop and looked up. From the exterior, he could tell that the design of the salon is really elegant, the walls of the shop were decorated with black marble prints and had dim lighting, so he couldn’t really see what was going on on the inside. The doorknob was gold and Jinyoung felt intimidated to open the door. He looked at his watch and saw that it was 2.29 p.m, right on time, Jinyoung smiled to himself and opened the door, that action made the door chime let out a tiny little noise and he was immediately greeted by two ladies at the reception.

 

“Hi sir, do you have an appointment?” One of the ladies asked and smiled sweetly at him.

 

“Oh yes, under Mark Tuan at 2.30 p.m, I believe.” Jinyoung replied, repeating word for word what Mark had told him.

 

“You must be Park Jinyoung, right this way sir,” the other lady walked out of the reception and let Jinyoung further into the salon. The salon was really quiet with not a single soul here, the only sounds he could hear is a soft melody playing over the speakers in the salon and the clicking of the lady’s heels as she walked. She led him to the styling chair and instructed him to sit down while she calls for his hairstylist.

 

“Oh my god, how could Mark NOT tell me that you are hot?” Jinyoung heard a voice from behind him, so he turned around and saw a guy rushing down the stairs. The guy had fiery red hair and multiple piercings, he was wearing a black button-up, matching leather pants and a baby pink jacket.

 

“Cause he knows you’d react like that,” the same lady who brought Jinyoung to his seat replied. Jinyoung guesses that the guy with the fiery red hair is his hairdresser.

 

“Hi, I’m Alex, I’m your fairy godmother,” ‘Alex’ walked over and hugged Jinyoung, a gesture that shocked Jinyoung. Alex then ruffled Jinyoung’s hair and cooed at how fluffy it is.

 

“Fairy godmother?” Jinyoung raised an eyebrow at Alex.

 

“Well, yes, Cinderella, I’m going to make you the centre of attention tonight, sweetie.” Alex winked at Jinyoung and took out his scissors. Jinyoung is quite unsure about leaving his appearance to this Alex guy, whom he met for like ten seconds, but if Mark trusts this guy, he should too right? Jinyoung just closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

 

“Okay, so I’m thinking of thinning out your hair a little bit and maybe trim the fringe. I will be giving you a soft perm so your hair will look more ‘effortless’ if you know what I mean.” Alex informed Jinyoung as he draped a giant black towel around Jinyoung, using a clothespin to secure the towel around Jinyoung. Jinyoung opened his eyes and watched as his slight bowl cut loses its volume as Alex thins his hair out. He decided to close his eyes instead of watching the entire process because he’s scared that his facial expression might make Alex think he hates the hair.

 

After what felt like an eternity, Jinyoung could feel Alex sweeping away the hair around his neck and face, he opened his eyes and was shocked, His hair looks really textured even though it was thinned out, and he never thought that he would look this good with a centre part.

 

“I would want to dye your hair, but Mark would fire me because he specifically instructed me to leave the colour as it is. Your brown hair is so beautiful Jinyoung,” Alex complimented Jinyoung and continued to sweep away the hair that was chopped off.

 

“I really like this hairdo, thank you so much!” Jinyoung got off his seat and moved closer to the mirror, inspecting his new hair.

 

“Aw sweetie, you’re gonna make me cry,” Alex pretended to wipe a tear off his right eye when he saw Jinyoung admiring himself and touching his hair lightly. Jinyoung turned around and smiled at Alex, “well, if that is all, I’m going to walk around this area till 5 p.m.” Jinyoung looked down and saw that he has about an hour and a half to waste before meeting Mark. Alex raised his hands and placed it on Jinyoung’s chest, “wow, you’re not leaving yet,” Alex said, emphasising on ‘yet’.

 

“What do you mean? You’re done with my hair, right?”

 

“Yeah, but I got to fix your face too,” Alex said it in a ‘duh’ tone. He grabbed Mark’s hand and led him to the makeup counter.

“Wait, what?” Jinyoung was mortified at this idea, he has never worn makeup in his entire life and was uncomfortable with it.

 

“Oh no, I’m not going to turn you into a drag queen or whatever, I was told to bring out features you already have and that is what I’m going to do. Now sit down, honey,” Alex patted softly on the black leather stool and motioned for Jinyoung to sit down. Alex instructed Jinyoung to close his eyes and Jinyoung listened. A few seconds later, Jinyoung felt his eyebrows being ripped out and yelped in pain. He opened his eyes and saw Alex pulling the stray eyebrows off with a tweezer.

 

“Close your eyes!” Jinyoung listened and shut his eyes tight as Alex continued to pull his eyebrows out. Jinyoung sat in silence as much as he wants to whimper, he just wants this part to be over.

 

“Ah, perfect, you look way better now,” Alex said, smiling at his own masterpiece.

 

“Now, since your skin is close to perfect, aside from your horrible dark circles, I’m just going to use some BB cream and powder on your face. Maybe your eyes need some concealer,” Jinyoung felt slightly offended at ‘horrible dark circles’, but Alex was right because Jinyoung barely sleeps at night. He’s usually up reading novels until wee hours of the morning, regretting the next day, especially if he has to go for work. Alex gently patted all the products on his face and used another product for under his eyes, which he supposes is the ‘concealer’.

 

“Your eyelashes are so long, there is no need for me to curl them. Now open your eyes,” Alex instructed. Jinyoung remained unamused at his own appearance because he looks the same, except now he doesn’t look that tired and has better brows.

 

Jinyoung watched as Alex whipped out a palette and used a fluffy brush to apply some darker coloured powder on his jawline, forehead and sides of his nose. He then switched to another brush and lightly applied some shimmering powder on his cheekbones and the tip of his nose. When he was done, he applied lip balm on Jinyoung’s lips and layered a coral coloured lipstick lightly on top. Alex then finalised Jinyoung’s look with a setting spray.

 

“Don’t breathe, this is to lock everything in,” Alex instructed and sprayed the mist directly onto Jinyoung’s face. After everything was done, Jinyoung opened his eyes and saw his own reflection, he’s not going to lie, he loves how he looks right now.

 

“Wow,” Jinyoung replied after five seconds, he was still in shock. He can’t believe Alex transformed him, it might not be a drastic change, but he definitely looks way better. “Thank you, Alex,” Jinyoung smiled and thanked Alex again.

 

“Oh, put these on,” Alex took out a contact lens case from one of the drawers and slid it across the dresser to Jinyoung.

“Mark told us the prescription of your glasses and told us to prepare these, he thinks these matches your hair better.” Jinyoung opened the casing and saw a pair of brown contacts in the casing, he placed it gently in his eye and blinked a couple of times for the lens to get into position.

 

A soft chime could be heard from near the entrance of the salon, Jinyoung looked behind and saw Mark walking into the salon. He was greeting the two ladies at the reception and appeared to be asking for Jinyoung. One of the ladies pointed in Jinyoung’s direction and before Jinyoung could say anything, Alex pushed Jinyoung, who was still sitting on the chair, behind the wall.

 

“Shhh, I want Mark to be surprised,” Alex placed a finger on Jinyoung’s lips before he could say anything, Jinyoung just shrugged and went along with the plan, it’s not like Mark would care that much. Alex walked away from Jinyoung and towards the entrance of the salon to greet Mark.

 

“So, are you excited to see my masterpiece?” Alex asked excitedly.

 

“Stop holding Jinyoung captive and give him to me, Alex,” Mark said jokingly.

 

“Excuse me? Please prepare to awe yourself, for this is God’s work,” Alex exaggerated and bowed to Mark. Alex used his right hand and signalled for Jinyoung to walk out and show himself. Jinyoung sighed and stood up from the bar stool, he walked slowly towards Alex, heart beating with every step he took because he’s scared of how Mark would react. “ What if he doesn’t like it?” This same question repeated itself about a thousand times as he left the chair. Jinyoung hung his head low when he reached Alex’s side. Alex looked up and pinched Jinyoung’s butt, “look at Mark and show him my masterpiece!” Shocked, Jinyoung jumped and looked up, letting out a yelp in surprise. As he calmed down, he saw Mark smiling at him.

 

Ahh, I would kill to see that smile everyday,” Jinyoung thought to himself.

 

“You look pretty nice,” Mark smiled and looked Jinyoung up and down, checking him out. Jinyoung felt his own face grow crimson at Mark’s actions and quickly walked towards the entrance of the salon.

 

“Come on, hyung, we don’t want to be late for the cruise party,” Jinyoung said to Mark. Mark laughed and thank Alex for his services, he walked behind Jinyoung and followed him outside. The two ladies at the reception counter greeted them as they left the salon.

 

When Jinyoung left the salon, he saw a black limousine parked against the sidewalk. Mark walked in front of him and opened the door for Jinyoung and Jinyoung stepped in with no hesitation.

 

"You cleaned up really nicely, Jinyoung," Mark sat down in the limousine beside Jinyoung and complimented him. He felt really happy giving Jinyoung a makeover because he could tell that the last half of the semester was hell to Jinyoung.

 

"Thanks to you, hyung," Jinyoung said and began fiddling with the edge of his sleeves. As the cruise party is only an hour away, he’s starting to feel tenser. Jinyoung has never mingled around rich snobs, let alone attend a party filled with them. So what was he supposed to do when the party is ongoing? Does he just keep mum and stay by Mark’s side? What is he supposed to do when he’s alone? All these questions started racing through Mark’s mind as he felt greatly perturbed. It must’ve been showing on his face because Mark’s voice interrupted his train of thoughts.

 

“Just stick close to me and smile. Introduce yourself and be honest about it.” Mark reassured Jinyoung and gently patted his shoulders.

 

“What do I do when you’re not around?”

 

“I’m not going to leave you alone in there Jinyoung, that’s like throwing you to a pack of wolves,” Mark said, letting out a laugh. This is exactly what Jinyoung needs to calm his own nerves. Before Jinyoung knows it, the corners of his lips start to curve upwards and he gave Mark a small smile.

 

“If I do, for some reason, leave you alone, just do what you do best,” Mark said to Jinyoung and gave his hand a squeeze. Jinyoung looked at Mark quizzically, not really understanding what he meant.

 

“Just sit still and look pretty, or in this case, stand still,” Mark winked at Jinyoung. Jinyoung’s smile grew wider and he laughed along with Mark.

__________

 

The limousine came to a halt when they reached the entrance of the cruise centre. Mark told Jinyoung to stay in the limousine while he exits the car so he could help Jinyoung open his car door. Jinyoung took this time to look out the window and all he could see were skyscrapers all around this district, and the one building that stands out is the one they were parked right in front of, which is the cruise centre. Mark opened the car door for Jinyoung and put out his hand, which Jinyoung gladly accepted and helped himself out of the limousine. Jinyoung looked up and saw that around them, there were a few people dressed like Mark and himself, in suits and evening gowns, all ready to attend the cruise party. Mark gestured for Jinyoung to link his arm around Mark’s and Jinyoung obeyed, knowing that his act as Mark’s lover for the next few hours starts now. They walked away from the limousine and entered the cruise centre to walk to the other exit, which is where the harbour is. Jinyoung can’t help but notice that as soon as Mark helped him out of the limousine, everyone nearby started to whisper among themselves, a lot of them were eyeing Jinyoung curiously. Jinyoung looked over to Mark but Mark remained unfazed, he even smiled at some of those who were staring. Jinyoung took a few silent breaths to keep his cool, he has got to match up to Mark’s standards.

 

Once they reached the harbour, Jinyoung can immediately tell which ship they’re going on because there is only one ship in that entire harbour that looked fancy enough to host a high social economics classes’ party. Jinyoung lets out a whoosh as they inched closer to the ship.

 

“Hey, I heard they have an arcade on this ship. Maybe I’ll take you there before the party ends?”

 

“Sure hyung,” Jinyoung smiled at Mark’s invitation. Going to an arcade with Mark sounds pretty romantic even if they are nowhere near the dating phase. They walked towards the ticketing officer and Mark handed the man an envelope, which Jinyoung guess is the invitation card.

 

“Mark Tuan, and his date Park Jinyoung,” Mark informed. The man looked into the contents of the envelope and nodded, allowing them to pass through. There were a bunch of waitresses wearing their uniform, lining up along the slope up to the ship.

 

“Enjoy your evening!” The waitresses said in unison, flashing a bright smile on their faces. ‘ This is some five-star service right here,’ Jinyoung thought to himself. As they walked up the slope and Jinyoung gets a glimpse of the ship’s interior design, he was taken aback by how elegant everything seems. The floors on the inside of the ship were all carpeted and black marble prints were used to decorate the walls. The inside of the ship had dim lighting, but it added a touch of ‘home’ because of how warm Jinyoung felt when he entered the ship. There was a soft melody playing and Jinyoung looked to the direction of the music, a guy was playing the piano.

 

“Good evening Mr Tuan,” a lady walked up to Mark and greeted him with a bow. She turned to Jinyoung and greeted him with a bow too, “and Mr Park.”

 

“It is an honour for Royal Fantasy to have you and your date on board, Mr Tuan. You are currently on the third floor of the ship, we have emailed you and your date a PDF version of the map of the ship in case you need it. The reception is on the ground floor at the central wing and the ballroom that you are required to gather in is on the fifth floor. The elevator is just straight ahead, we hope you have a pleasant experience here on board Royal Fantasy.” The lady stepped aside and kept her head down.

 

“Thank you, Miss,” Mark replied and smiled at the lady. He followed her directions and walked straight ahead with Jinyoung’s arm locked with his.

“You know, Royal Fantasy sounds like a lingerie brand to me,” Jinyoung made that remark softly, afraid that if he says it any louder, he would embarrass Mark. Upon hearing that, Mark threw his head back and bursts into laughter. His shoulder that was once tense visibly relaxed and Jinyoung could now see the crinkles around Mark’s eyes, indicating that Mark is truly happy. After Mark calmed down, he turned over to look at Jinyoung and patted Jinyoung’s hand with his other.

 

“Jinyoung ah, you never cease to amaze me.” Mark said to Jinyoung and let out a sigh, “this is also my first social event after Sanghyuk, so I apologise if I seem to be in a daze, alright?” Mark continued. Jinyoung just nodded and followed Mark anyway, he understands how hard it is for Mark to show up to these events without Sanghyuk, and he empathised with Mark.

 

When they finally reached the ballroom, it appeared that the majority of the guests are already here. The area was filled with people in formal outfits and Jinyoung felt daunted. He looked around the ballroom and saw that there was an orchestra at the side of the hall, playing some live classical music for them. Beside them was a grand piano with nobody playing it. He then shifted his eyes to the other side of the ballroom, which is where the seafood buffet was gathered.

 

“Come on Jinyoung, you must be hungry,” Mark saw Jinyoung’s eyes lighting up at the sight of food and decided to bring him over to the buffet counter. He took a plate and filled it with Jinyoung’s favourite food and even peeled the shells off some seafood for Jinyoung.

 

“Hyung!” Jinyoung turned around at that familiar voice and saw Youngjae running towards him. Jinyoung stood up and gave Youngjae a hug. Mark sat by the side and watched them interact, confused as to how Jinyoung knows the youngest son of Shinhwa Enterprise.

 

“Is that Mark hyung?” Youngjae looked behind Jinyoung and saw a guy that matches all of Jaebum’s descriptions. Jinyoung’s face brightens at the question, and Youngjae giggled at his reaction because he knows he’s right.

 

“Hi hyung, I’m Choi Youngjae. I’m Jinyoung’s roommate!” Youngjae smiled at Mark and introduced himself, initiating a handshake. Mark returned his handshake and was even more confused, because why would an heir to one of the most influential industries live with Jinyoung in such a humble apartment? Youngjae excused himself to go entertain the other guests who were also in this party.

 

Jinyoung could see all the questions on Mark’s face and said, “ask away hyung.”

 

“Why is he living with you and Jaebum sshi?”

 

“He’s Jaebummie’s boyfriend. They met in his vocal class three years ago when we were still in high school. All three of us attend the same university so we decided to live together,” Jinyoung finishes. Mark nodded in response to Jinyoung’s answers, ‘ makes sense’, he thought to himself. They continued to eat at their table quietly. Before Jinyoung could get more food, people started making their way to talk to Mark. Jinyoung’s best guess is word probably got around that Mark finally showed up to one of these social events after Sanghyuk’s passing.

 

For the next three hours, Jinyoung waltzed around the ballroom with Mark, he probably passed by the orchestra a thousand times. The three hours was just filled with drinking champagne beside Mark and smiling while Mark talks to the people around him about his future plans for his company when he takes over his father’s work. Seeing Mark so passionate about managing a company was something he had never seen, he only knows the Mark behind the bar counter, whipping cocktails and making jokes once in a while. This Mark is different, he felt like a stranger to Jinyoung. Nevertheless, Jinyoung continued to smile brightly and stay by Mark’s side, this is the least he could do to help Mark. Finally, it seemed like Mark has entertained everyone in the ballroom, and Jinyoung could finally catch a breath. Mark led Jinyoung back to the chairs because he could tell how tired Jinyoung was.

 

“I’m sorry Jinyoung ah, I didn’t notice how tired you are,” Mark said sheepishly and patted Jinyoung’s head softly.

 

“It’s okay hyung, I agreed to do you this favour,” Jinyoung reassured. Mark’s eyes started wandering around the ballroom to go over everyone, making sure that he has talked to everyone. His eyes landed on a couple who were waving to him, and he let out a bright smile.

 

“Jinyoung ah, stay here alright? I’m going over to talk to that couple, I’ll be back in about ten minutes,” before Jinyoung could reply him, Mark walked off and jogged over to the other side of the ballroom to talk to the couple. Jinyoung lets out a huff, what Mark did not understand is that Jinyoung would rather be tired alongside Mark than be alone in an event filled with affluent individuals. Jinyoung felt extremely petty, but he was slightly pissed at Mark. To distract himself for ‘ ten’ minutes, he reached into his pocket and took out his phone. But before he could switch it on, someone stops right in front of him. Jinyoung looked up and found the person familiar, he let out a soft gasp when he realises who it is.

 

It’s one of the customers from Lux that tried to make Jinyoung his sugar baby on the night of Kim Yugyeom’s birthday celebration.

 

“It’s you,” the middle-aged man sneered at Jinyoung and pointed his finger at Jinyoung. Jinyoung panicked and did not know how to respond to this guy, his eyes started searching the room frantically for Mark or even Youngjae, but they were nowhere to be found. Jinyoung is on his own.

 

“Did you come here as an escort for some other rich guy? The nerve of you to reject my offer, what a slut,” as much as this guy is a stranger, his choice of words still hurt Jinyoung to a certain extent.

 

“Whose escort did you show up as huh? Well, doesn’t matter, I’m going to let everyone know what you do.” Jinyoung felt even more anxious now, this cruise party was his chance to return Mark favour, he cannot jeopardise Mark’s career no matter what. As he started to think about the worst consequences possible, his breathing started to become more irregular and short, his heart was also racing faster by the second. He reached his right hand over and clenched his chest, it hurts so bad. It wasn’t long until his world started spinning and he felt like he was going to faint. His body started failing as his knees gave way. Jinyoung tried to focus his vision on the older man in front of him but he couldn’t. The older man, however, did not seem to catch onto the fact that there is something wrong with Jinyoung.

 

“Everyone, look here, this guy, whoever he’s here with, he’s not as innocent as he looks,” the older man started. It did not take long to gather everyone’s attention, because after all, everyone thinks Jinyoung is Mark’s fianc é, the one after Sanghyuk. People started looking over and whispering among each other, which only made Jinyoung’s chest feel even more constricted, he knew he had to get out of here fast, away from the attention. But running away from the older man will not shut him up, it will add on more problems to Mark’s plate. Jinyoung hesitated in his spot as he tried to concentrate, he hated how smug the older man looked right now and really wanted to punch him across the face.

 

“Now now, Jo Sung Min, whatever this guy has with his partner, I believe it’s none of your business,” a familiar voice sounded in the midst of all this chaos. Jinyoung felt the pace of his own heart started to slow down as someone came to his rescue, his breathing was working its way towards being regular. However, he kept his head down, still feeling afraid.

 

“Kim Yugyeom, this is none of your business, so I suggest you walk away,” the older man, apparently named Jo Sung Min said. ‘ Wait, Kim Yugyeom? Why is he helping me?’ Jinyoung thought to himself, he found it extremely hard to believe.

 

“Park Jinyoung here is my friend, so it is my concern that you’re bothering him.” ‘ Friend?’ Since when did Kim Yugyeom become so chummy with him?’ Jinyoung finally looked up and saw Yugyeom smiling at the older man.

 

“Also, I think your company is really in need of my family as an investor. Don’t forget who is the next heir for Kim Corps,” Yugyeom’s expression instantly changed. He glared at the older man and spat his final words, which are laced with threat. Jinyoung was glad that the older man took Yugyeom’s threat seriously and scurried off to the other side of the ballroom after apologising to Yugyeom and even Jinyoung. When the commotion was over, Yugyeom clapped his hands and said, “Alright, the show’s over people, now run along.”

 

As expected, the area around Jinyoung started to clear up and he could finally feel himself breathing normally again. What he did not expect was for Yugyeom to walk up to him and offered him a helping hand, which Jinyoung gladly accepted because his knees may still give way. Yugyeom brought him to the nearest chair and sat him down, patting his chest softly.

 

“Why did you help me?” Jinyoung asked Yugyeom as he swatted the back of his pants.

 

“I saw you having a panic attack and I just acted. I guess we’re even now, huh,” Yugyeom lightened the mood with the last sentence.  

 

“Thank you, you may leave now.” Jinyoung gave Yugyeom a tight smile.

 

“Leave you all alone here waiting for Mark while that just happened? Hell no, what if someone else tries to come after you,” Yugyeom disagreed and folded his arms across his chest, “I’m staying with you till Mark comes back.”

 

‘How does he know I’m here with Mark?’ Jinyoung thought to himself silently.

 

“Words spread around fast here,” Yugyeom answered the question in Jinyoung’s mind smoothly and winked at Jinyoung. Jinyoung tried to smile at Yugyeom but he couldn’t, he was still wondering where Mark had gone with the couple. Sensing that Jinyoung’s mood was affected, Yugyeom decided to take him somewhere else, away from this cruise party to a more isolated area. He took Jinyoung’s hand in his own and ran to the one place he has on his mind, the arcade.

 

“Uhm, where are you taking me?” Jinyoung asked as he ran behind Yugyeom.

 

“Someplace to cheer you up, it’ll only take a while,” Yugyeom answered as he ran down the stairs. He took Jinyoung down the stairs to the first floor and passed by the main lobby into the South Wing. Jinyoung grumbled in his head as he wondered why couldn’t they have just taken the elevator instead. After running for what seemed like ages, Jinyoung whined and asked Yugyeom, “are we there yet?”

 

“Yes, here we are,” Yugyeom started slowing down and Jinyoung followed. He took a moment to catch his breath before looking around the place. When he looked up, his jaw dropped, fairy lights in all different colours lit up and music started playing, it was as if Yugyeom had it all planned out. He was captivated by all the beautiful lights and he could hear all the cogs in the machines starting to spin. This is the arcade that Mark was talking about. The best thing about this place is that not a single soul is present, Jinyoung has this place all to himself.

 

“So, where do you want to start?” Yugyeom asked Jinyoung with a cheeky smile in which Jinyoung returned.

 

“I don’t know, I didn’t play much when I was a kid,” Jinyoung admitted shyly. How could he? His mother barely earned enough for them to survive through education. And when Jinyoung got into high school, he immediately started taking up odd jobs to lessen the burden on his mother’s shoulders.

 

“Well, you’re lucky because I’ve been around all these since I was a kid, come on, I’ll show you around.” Yugyeom once again held Jinyoung’s hand and dragged him to the Mortal Kombat machine. They played for a few rounds as Yugyeom went easy on Jinyoung, he could tell that Jinyoung wasn’t much of a gamer because every time Jinyoung is going for a combo attack, he had to look down to accurately press the keys. Yugyeom chuckled to himself as he watched how Jinyoung played. After they were done, Yugyeom took Jinyoung to a claw machine and ask Jinyoung which toy he wants.

 

“What makes you think you’ll get it within three tries?” Jinyoung challenged Yugyeom.

 

“Oh baby, I’ll get it within my first try,” Yugyeom stressed on the word ‘baby’ and winked playfully at Jinyoung. Jinyoung’s face went red when Yugyeom called him baby but at the same time he couldn’t help but wonder to himself why does Yugyeom calling him baby sound so familiar?

 

“I’ll get you the Stitch,” Yugyeom pointed at the corner of the machine. Stitch was the furthest away from the machine and Jinyoung was really starting to have doubts, can Yugyeom really do it?

 

Yugyeom reached into his pocket and fished out a token. He put it in the coin slot of the machine and the machine started lighting up and music started playing. He currently has three tries to get Jinyoung Stitch. Carefully, he moved the joystick towards Stitch. Yugyeom was as nervous as he was confident, he is known to be really good at claw machines but what if he embarrasses himself in front of Jinyoung? When he reached the position of Sitch, he pushed another button for the claw to go down and grab Stitch by the head, he ensured that the entire claw was grabbing Stitch’s head before pushing another button to grab Stitch up. Now that Stitch was in the claws, all he had to do was bring it back to the box to drop it. He led Stitch there and pushed the final button for the claw to let go of Stitch.

 

Yugyeom bent down and took the Stitch out of the machine. He walked over to Jinyoung who was still in awe, it looked so effortless for Yugyeom! Jinyoung placed the Stitch on the chair beside the claw machine and was determined to win Yugyeom a soft toy.

 

“Move over, I’m going to try and win you a toy,” Yugyeom listened and stood up. He smiled to himself as Jinyoung sat down and his seat and started cracking his knuckles. He then moved his hands over to the joystick and tried to mimic Yugyeom’s movements. However, Yugyeom could tell that Jinyoung did not know when was the right moment to pick up the soft toy, and Jinyoung failed to catch a toy with his first time. Jinyoung pouted and let out a slight groan, indicating that he was frustrated.

 

“You got another attempt, let me help you,” Yugyeom said, after seeing how upset Jinyoung is. Jinyoung’s eyes glimmered a little bit and he nodded. Yugyeom crouched down until his head was just resting above Jinyoung’s shoulder, “I’ll guide you,” he said softly to Jinyoung. It almost felt like he was whispering into Jinyoung’s ears like the night they first met, and this sent shivers down Jinyoung’s spine as he shuddered. Jinyoung let out a deep breath and started to control the joystick once again, confident with Yugyeom’s help.

 

“Press down now,” Jinyoung followed and signalled for the claw to move down with the push of a button. Once the claw grabbed the head of Sulley, Jinyoung felt so confident that he was going to get it, right before he received the command from Yugyeom to pick up the toy, their intimate moment was disrupted.

 

“Jinyoung ah, here you are! I’ve been looking everywhere for you,” Jinyoung was surprised to hear Mark’s voice and lost focus, pressing a button on accidentally. He just lost the chance to win Yugyeom a toy again. Yugyeom also snapped out of his trance and jumped away from Jinyoung. Jinyoung turned around and saw Mark panting heavily, he felt bad but at the same time a little happy that Mark felt as lost as he was when he couldn’t find Mark.

 

“Yugyeom, I didn’t expect to see you here, with my date,” Mark looked at Yugyeom dead in the eye and emphasised on ‘date’. Jinyoung knew that Mark was only putting up an act in front of Yugyeom because they have to look like the perfect couple in front of everyone.

 

“I took him out here because something happened back at the ballroom, I’m surprised you hadn’t heard,” Yugyeom defended himself as he reached behind his ear and scratched it.

 

Upon hearing that, Mark walked towards Jinyoung and started to search his bodies, looking for any signs of injuries, “you’re okay, right Jinyoung?” Jinyoung nodded and Mark let go of him. He picked up the Stitch that Yugyeom had won for him and walked towards Mark, smiling gratefully at Yugyeom.

 

“We’ll be leaving now, thank you for taking care of my date,” Mark said to Yugyeom and held Jinyoung’s hand, they both walked out of the arcade together, leaving Yugyeom alone.

 

__________  

 

The walk out of the cruise and back to Mark’s car was awfully quiet, Jinyoung felt no tension in the silence but it still scared him. What if Mark is angry because someone saw him and Yugyeom alone together? What if he ruined possible business opportunities for Mark? They waited at the front of the cruise centre for their car to be driven over. The chauffeur drove the same black limousine over from the parking spot to them. Mark opened the door and Jinyoung went in first, Mark went in right after and closed the door.

 

“Take Jinyoung back home first,” Mark said to the chauffeur and the chauffeur nodded. He rested his head back on the car seat and let out a peaceful sigh.

 

“Hyung, I’m sorry for running off with Yugyeom alone, my phone was on mute and something bad happened in the ballroom,” Jinyoung apologised to Mark, hoping that he hasn’t screwed up anything for Mark.

 

“No, it’s okay, you must’ve felt bored,” Mark said to Jinyoung and smiled at him, gently caressing his hands softly. Jinyoung returns Mark a smile, feeling relief wash all over him now that he knows Mark is not mad and all is good.

 

“I heard about what happened in the ballroom, and I have dealt with Jo Sung Min, you don’t need to worry about him anymore.” Jinyoung smiled at Mark and thanked him, Jo Sung Min must be really unlucky for two rich heirs to threaten his business consecutively. Mark shushed Jinyoung and told him to take a nap, and Jinyoung did, he laid back and leaned his head on the car seat, allowing sleep to take over.

 

__________

 

When Jinyoung left with Mark, Yugyeom celebrated and danced around, unable to contain his excitement. What are the odds that he would run into Jinyoung again? And what are the chances that he would get such an awesome opportunity to prove to Jinyoung he’s nothing like the Kim Yugyeom in tabloid magazines? He shouts out a “YES!” and fist bumped the air, he gets a chance to do things right with Jinyoung. Yugyeom quickly took out his phone and texted the group chat which consists of him, BamBam and Jackson.

 

Yugyeom:

Guys...

I just ran into Jinyoung!

BamBam:

What the fuck?

 

Jackson:

AHA I called it, didn’t I?!?!

 

BamBam:

SPILL

THE

DAMN

TEA

SISTER

!!!

 

Jackson:

YEAH, HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

You were just whining about how much you miss him yesterday.

 

Yugyeom:

Usual place in 30?

It’s a long story.

BamBam:

OMW

JACKSON HURRY UP

 

Jackson:

uGH

Fine

It’s your treat @gyeommie

 

Yugyeom smiled as he saw his friends’ reply. He headed towards the exit of the cruise ship and walked towards the parking lot, he’s excited to tell his friends about his interaction with Jinyoung. Surely it can’t be just him that think that this could be the start of something?

 

__________

 

 





Chapter Text

“Jinyoung ah, wake up,” Jinyoung felt someone shaking him gently and he opened his eyes groggily.

 

“You’re home,” Mark said to Jinyoung and smiled at him. It was then Jinyoung realised that his face is about 2 centimetres away from Mark’s face and he had been asleep on Mark’s shoulder the entire ride home. Jinyoung leapt away in surprise and knocked his head against the car window in the process. Mark chuckled at Jinyoung’s silliness and Jinyoung pouted at Mark. They walked out of the limousine and Mark followed Jinyoung up the stairs to his apartment. They reached Jinyoung’s doorstep and Jinyoung thanked Mark for the evening.

 

“Sorry if I didn’t manage to give you a good time at the cruise party,” Mark said to Jinyoung.

 

“Don’t be sorry, I know you bringing me along to this party is strictly for the sake of business, I saw it coming.” Jinyoung gave Mark a small smile and added, “besides, I had my fun,” referring to the Stitch in his arms.

 

“Ah, yes, of course,” Mark smirked, “I thought you hated the guy.”

 

“I don’t, I only found him annoying that one night.” Mark raised an eyebrow at Jinyoung’s reply, he is so not convinced. Before Mark could say anything more about Yugyeom, Jinyoung quickly added, “hyung, you must be tired. I’ll see you at work tomorrow!” He immediately took out his keys and started to unlock the door to his apartment.

 

“Oh, yes, Jinyoung ah, I will be going back to Taiwan for about two weeks to visit my grandparents. I won’t be seeing you for a while,” Mark said to Jinyoung.

 

“Who is going to entertain me at work now?” Jinyoung whined at Mark. Mark laughed at Jinyoung and shook his head, “I’m not a clown for your amusement, Jinyoung ah.”

 

Jinyoung laughed and did not say much, he opened his door and stepped into his apartment. Before Mark could walk away, Jinyoung turned around and told Mark to bring him back a small souvenir from Taiwan. Mark nodded his head before turning away and walked down the stairs. Jinyoung watched as Mark left before closing the door. He looked down at the Stitch and smiled to himself, maybe he finds Yugyeom more tolerable now.

 

“Hyung! How was your night?” Immediately after Jinyoung closed the door shut, Youngjae ran out of his room and went to ask Jinyoung. Jinyoung ruffled Youngjae’s hair in response and said, “fun.”

 

“Fun? I need more explanation!” Youngjae said, not satisfied with Jinyoung’s vague answer. Jaebum walked out of the room and joined in the conversation, asking Jinyoung how was his evening. Jinyoung smiled in response and said, “it went like any other social meetings could have gone, nothing much.” Jaebum and Youngjae sighed, knowing that Jinyoung wasn’t going to discuss his night anytime soon, they gave up and stopped questioning Jinyoung. Jinyoung smiled in response and walk back to his room. However, he did not make it far as Youngjae spotted the Stitch Jinyoung was trying to hide from them.

 

“Hyung, what is that?” Youngjae asked, referring to the Stitch. Jinyoung was about to make a run for it before Jaebum ran towards Jinyoung and tackled him, which caught Jinyoung off guard. Jinyoung was currently trapped under Jaebum and his Stitch was taken away from him. Youngjae held the Stitch and told Jinyoung, “you’re not getting him back in one piece if you don’t tell us exactly how your evening went!” Jinyoung sighed in defeat and huffed, “fine, you win.”   

 

Jaebum got off of Jinyoung and helped him up, the three of them walked towards the sofa in the living room. Jinyoung tried to get his Stitch back from Youngjae but Youngjae was not having it, he refused to give it back to Jinyoung until Jinyoung shares what happened.

 

“Okay, okay, let me shower first,” Jinyoung said, knowing that Youngjae will not give up soon. Youngjae nodded excitedly and sat down on the sofa next to Jaebum. He continued to hug the Stitch and Jinyoung sighed, walking to the bathroom to wash up. He used Youngjae’s makeup remover and wiped his face clean before heading into the shower, thinking of how to tell his two best friends about running into Kim Yugyeom. Jinyoung was still feeling conflicted about why Yugyeom is nice to him all of a sudden, it definitely did not feel like Yugyeom’s gestures were all out of pity. “Could it be that Yugyeom actually wants to get to know him?” Jinyoung thought to himself as he gave himself one final wash. He stepped out of the shower and wore his sleep attire, which is an old T-shirt from gym class and cotton shorts. When he walked out of the bathroom, to his surprise, Youngjae was still wide awake and eagerly talking about the cruise party to Jaebum. He stood stationary for a moment and admired the interaction between his two friends. Youngjae was sitting on Jaebum’s lap with Jaebum hugging him from behind. Jinyoung smiled in admiration before walking over to where his friends were.

 

Before Jinyoung could get himself comfortable on the sofa, Youngjae has already started questioning him.

 

“Hyung, how did your date go?” Jinyoung sighed at Youngjae’s excitement before answering him, “it’s not a date. I was just doing Mark a favour.”

This time Jaebum decided to step in and ask Jinyoung the questions, “alright then, how was the party with Mark? Did you have fun?”

 

“Honestly, no, it was boring and tiring to walk around with him and smile for hours while holding a glass of champagne in one hand even though he was the one doing all the talking,” Jinyoung complained. This is news to Youngjae and Jaebum because they thought Jinyoung would be having more fun with Mark.

 

“So he really took this event seriously huh,” Jaebum asked. Jinyoung nodded and continued, “yeah, of course, he’s a serious heir after all.”

 

Youngjae pouted at Jinyoung, feeling disappointed about what happened with him. He then remembers the Stitch that was still sitting in his lap and asked Jinyoung, “but he did have some fun with you in the end right?” Youngjae asked, holding up Stitch.

 

“Well… about that, someone might have made an appearance,” Jinyoung said, snatching the Stitch away from Youngjae’s hands. This comment made Jaebum and Youngjae turned their heads towards one another before looking at Jinyoung and simultaneously asked, “who?”

 

Jinyoung hugged Stitch and leaned back on the sofa, thinking to himself, “this is going to be a long night.” He started telling Jaebum and Youngjae the details that happened after Mark had left him alone and his encounter with Kim Yugyeom.

 

__________

 

“Way to go, Gyeomie, who knew you’d help out a damsel in distress,” Bambam said, lifting his shot glass and made a ‘clink’ sound with Yugyeom’s shot glass. He downed the soju with no trouble and ate the tteokbokki on the table. Yugyeom smiled as he recalled how he helped Jinyoung out of the situation with Jo Sung Min. A part of him is glad that he rescued Jinyoung from the situation. Ever since his encounter with Jinyoung at the cafe, he couldn’t stop thinking about Jinyoung and ways to make it up to him, especially for what he did on the night of his birthday party when they first met. It felt like fate has given him another shot at making things right with Jinyoung.

 

While Yugyeom was deep in thoughts and smiling to himself, Jackson arrived on a motorcycle and started panting heavily. He went inside the tent and sat down on the stool next to Bambam. “What,” before Jackson could continue, he coughed rapidly and took deep breaths, “what did I miss?”

 

“All the drinking,” Bambam answered Jackson before getting another shot glass from the vendor. He poured soju into Jackson’s glass and passed it to Jackson.

 

“No seriously, which part of Gyeomie’s story did I miss out?” Jackson asked after downing the soju and ate the barbecued chicken on the plate.

 

“Not much, Gyeomie is busy reminiscing about his time with Jinyoung to even give a shit about us,” Bambam said, teasing Yugyeom. Yugyeom laughed and his ears turned a slight shade of crimson as Jackson and Bambam continued to make fun of him.

 

“So what happened with Jinyoung?” Jackson asked Yugyeom with a mouth full of meat and lettuce. Yugyeom scrunched up his face in disgust and took another shot of soju, “well, it began like this…”

 

__________

 

“Wait, he was there at the party with Mark Tuan?” Jackson asked Yugyeom with a raised eyebrow and Yugyeom nodded.

 

“AND Mark cockblocked you?” Bambam added, and again, Yugyeom could only nod his head. He doesn’t know what Bambam and Jackson were hinting, but by the sound of it, he can already guess that he would not like it. Still, he wanted his friends to be honest with him, so he asked, “what’s up guys?”

 

Bambam and Jackson exchanged a quick glance that they think Yugyeom would not notice but he did. “Gyeom ah,” Jackson started, “we mean well and we care a lot for you,” Yugyeom leaned his head forward and gestured for Jackson to continue, but he did not. Instead, Bambam took over and said, “have you ever thought that Mark and Jinyoung might be seeing each other?” There it was, that thought has never once crossed his mind previously when he first saw Jinyoung after a month because he was too caught up in his own excitement about seeing them again.

 

“You’re right, I never actually gave that a thought,” now he’s worried. He’s been so happy that he forgot to consider the fact that he might be daydreaming about a guy who is taken.

 

“Well, also adding on to the fact that you don’t even know if he likes men, so,” Jackson added and Bambam nudged Jackson’s arm and hushed him shut. Jackson stayed quiet for the next few moments and continue to eat his barbecue pork. Yugyeom sat in his seat and pondered for a while, he never actually gave much thought to anything else other than Jinyoung, so this was quite a lot to take in.

 

“Guess we’ll have to find out,” Yugyeom said after staying silent for a long time. Bambam and Jackson looked up at Yugyeom with lettuce and meat stuffed in their mouth. They quickly chewed their food and downed a shot of soju before looking at Yugyeom once again, checking to see if Yugyeom is serious. Bambam and Jackson were surprised two things, one being how calm Yugyeom is with this situation and the other being the fact that Yugyeom has not given up on Jinyoung yet. He’s only met Jinyoung thrice and he’s obsessed with that guy!

 

“Well, how do you suppose we find out?” Jackson asked and leaned his body towards Yugyeom and Bambam followed.

 

“Your family works for Choi right?” Yugyeom asked, remembering that he saw Youngjae with Jinyoung in the cafe along with the other male who threatened him.

 

Jackson nodded and so Yugyeom continued to ask, “Do you know Choi Youngjae?”

 

“Oh, yes! My sweet little bro that looks like an otter!” Jackson exclaimed excitedly and clapped his hands together.

 

“I thought I was your sweet little bro?” Bambam looked at Jackson and pouted his lips. He then proceeded to fold his arms and leaned back into his seat.

 

“Awww, Bambam, don’t be jealous!” Jackson cooed and Yugyeom coughed, reminding them to not stray away from the topic.

 

“Well, yes, I’m actually Youngjae’s personal bodyguard and I fostered a pretty good relationship with him. What’s up?” Jackson continued.

 

“Youngjae seems to be close friends with Jinyoung, so maybe you can find out the two big questions that we’re all asking,” Yugyeom answered.

 

“Don’t be a pussy, ask him yourself.”

 

“Well, I would, but I don’t know any way to contact him!” Yugyeom defended himself. Well, this is true but Yugyeom knows that even if he somehow has ways to contact Jinyoung, he would never ask Jinyoung something like that, it’s too confrontational.

 

“I can get his SNS from Youngjae’s, watch me,” Jackson said smugly and whipped out his phone. He tapped into Instagram and scrolled through Youngjae’s photos to find any traces of Jinyoung. Then, he stumbled upon one post in September, earlier this year. It was a photo of Jinyoung holding a slice of cake with Youngjae and Jaebum kissing each side of his cheeks. The caption was “Happy 22nd Birthday hyung <3!!!” Jackson clicked on the comments of the photo and found an account that commented: “delete this”.

 

“HAH, I found it, that barely even made me break a sweat,” Jackson smiled and handed Yugyeom his phone with Jinyoung’s Instagram account.

 

jinyoung_0922jy, he memorised it and searched it up on his own phone. Sadly, the account was private and he cannot see any of Jinyoung’s photos. As he was debating on whether or not he should follow the account, Jackson had already clicked ‘follow’ on his own phone. Bambam, Yugyeom and Jackson all huddled around the table and stared at Jackson’s phone, refreshing the screen every few minutes. They were anxiously waiting for Jinyoung to accept the request. After about 10 minutes, the ‘requested’ button finally turned green and all 3 of them celebrated.

 

They began scrolling through Jinyoung’s profile but there was nothing much to see, Jinyoung barely even reveals his face on Instagram. Most of his photos are either the scenery or a photo of his silhouette and his captions are always something poetic.

 

“Damn, Yugyeom, you’ve fallen for an intellectual,” Bambam said.

 

“This dude is using big words even on Instagram, wow,” Jackson said, continuing to look through Jinyoung’s photos even though there were only 30 of it.

 

Yugyeom pouted and leaned back to his chair, feeling a little upset that he could not find any clues on Jinyoung’s Instagram. His thumb hovers above the “ follow ” button on Jinyoung’s Instagram page but he could not find the courage to press it. Whatever, if he wants to stalk Jinyoung’s Instagram, he can do so through Jackson’s account.

 

Looking at how clueless and helpless Yugyeom was with Jinyoung’s situation made Jackson chuckled a little. He’s proud that Yugyeom is finally maturing and attracted to someone. “Maybe this will help him out with his loneliness,” Jackson thought silently to himself. So, he decided to help Yugyeom out by giving him a little push, a push he believes that Yugyeom needed.

 

“I’ll help you,” Jackson said and downed another shot.

 

“What?”

 

“Youngjae should be visiting his parents tomorrow, I’ll ask first thing when I see him,” Jackson declared proudly.

 

“Please be subtle with it,” Yugyeom said shyly.

 

__________

 

“I don’t know if I like that Kim Yugyeom,” Jaebum said after hearing how Jinyoung gushed about Yugyeom saving him from Jo Sung Min and bringing him to the arcade to cheer him up.

 

“Why not, hyung? He even won Jinyoung hyung a cute toy!” Youngjae said, turning around to face Jaebum. Youngjae then squished the cheeks of Stitch and continued, “Him being so gentle with Jinyoung is adorable, I’m jealous.”

Jaebum let out a huff and responded, “well, he wasn’t a good guy a month ago. Why are you two raving about him now?” He retracted his arms away from Youngjae’s waist and let them fall to the side, resting them on the sofa. Jinyoung saw that Youngjae was visibly saddened and tried to hide it from Jaebum by playing with Stitch, which Jinyoung is hugging. Jaebum did not notice a single thing. Jinyoung reached over and pinched Jaebum’s hands, hinting Jaebum to hug Youngjae. Jaebum noticed and reached towards Youngjae’s waist again, hugging him.

 

“Well, I’m not raving about him,” Jinyoung started, “I’m just saying he might not be a terrible guy. Maybe we just got off to the wrong footing, you know, I work in a bar, he’s drunk, blablabla.”

 

“Him being drunk doesn’t give him the excuse to treat you like garbage. A drunken man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts, so I rest my case,” Jaebum said and rested his head on Youngjae’s back.

 

“Well, maybe that night wasn’t his best night,” Youngjae defended.

 

“That Stitch seems to have stolen your heart, you’re supposed to be my boyfriend,” Jaebum said and chewed his lips.

 

“I’m just saying, he didn’t have to go through the trouble of rescuing me from Jo Sung Min and bringing me elsewhere so I won’t worry about running into other rich old men, I rest my case,” Jinyoung copied and emphasised on ‘my’. Before Jaebum could add on, Jinyoung faked a yawn and told the two of them he’s tired and wants to go to bed, but the truth is he just doesn’t want to fight with Jaebum over Yugyeom. He stood up from the sofa and walked back into his room. Before he entered the room, he saw Youngjae and Jaebum kissing through the corner of his eyes. He smiled in envy before walking into his room and landed on his bed with an ‘oomph’.

 

Jinyoung understands why Jaebum is being so uptight because Yugyeom isn’t exactly the nicest guy to him when they first met. Yugyeom even insulted Jinyoung the first night they met, but if Yugyeom is really such a bad person like his hyung is implying, why would Yugyeom help him? And why would Yugyeom bother to cheer him up by bringing him to the arcade? Jinyoung has about a hundred and one questions assailing through his mind right now. He slammed his own body down onto his bed and buried his face into the pillow as he let out a groan. As he was about to fall asleep, he felt his phone buzz in his pocket. He took out and check the notification, which was from Instagram.

 

“Jacksonwang852g7” has requested to follow you on Instagram. “Jackson Wang?” He clicked onto the profile and decided to scroll through his feed, that is when he realised that this is the same Jackson he drank with on the night of Yugyeom’s birthday. He clicked onto a photo of Yugyeom and realised that it was taken at the bar on the night of his birthday. The first photo was a photo of him, Jackson and Bambam sitting on the couch of the VIP room, clearly sober. Jinyoung started swiping and realised that after each photo, Yugyeom was getting progressively drunker. When he reached the last photo, he realised that it was a photo of him and Yugyeom drinking shots. He cringed at the thought of the memory as the burning taste of alcohol is still haunting him till this day. Jinyoung smiled as he accepted Jackson’s follow request and followed him back on Instagram.

 

The next day, Jinyoung woke up and felt more refreshed than ever. He looked to the side and saw Stitch staring back at him, which made him smile. He reached over to his table and looked at his phone to see the time, “10.40a.m, it’s early, I have about five hours until my shift starts,” Jinyoung thought to himself. He took his phone and left his room in his pyjamas, letting out another yawn.

 

“Oh, good morning hyung!” Jinyoung looked up at the sound of Youngjae’s chirpy voice and saw that he was well-dressed. He looked around for Jaebum and saw that he was also well-dressed.

 

“Are you two heading somewhere?” Jinyoung asked and combed his hair out of his face with his hands.

 

“Yeah! Jaebum is taking me out for a ride and then we’re going to have lunch with my parents over at my house.”

 

“You’re finally having dinner with his parents? Okay, I’ll be at work tonight, so don’t wait up for me, hyung ah,” Jinyoung informed Jaebum.

 

Jaebum nodded and took two motorcycle helmets, one on each arm as he and Youngjae both exit the house.

 

Jinyoung sighed to himself and headed to the washroom to clean himself up before cooking some ramen and sit on the couch for the next few hours watching TV.

 

__________

 

“You’re early today, Wang,” one of the head bodyguards said to Jackson when he saw him entering the gates of the Choi mansion. Jackson bowed and buttoned the sleeves of his blazer together and straightened his sleeves before entering the front door. Word got around quickly that the Young Master is bringing his boyfriend home to have lunch for the first time today. Apparently, they have been dating for years and Youngjae’s parents have never approved of the poor guy. But recently, they were more open to the idea of Youngjae dating and even talked to Jaebum on many occasions. However, today was the first time that Jaebum is formally coming over for lunch. Hence, the entire house was in a havoc today, at least for the maids and chefs. Everyone was all over the place, the maids were busy cleaning up the entire house to ensure that it was spotless while the chefs were busy cooking the perfect dish to welcome Jaebum.

 

Jackson barely got through the maids in the hallway before heading to his station, which is the West Wing, also known as Youngjae’s side of the house. Jackson knocked twice gently on Youngjae’s bedroom door before opening it. He walked in and realised that Youngjae is not home yet, so he left the room and closed the door shut before walking back to the Central Wing to help the maids in the house out with the cleaning of the taller pieces of furniture.

 

Finally, after what seemed like forever, one of the bodyguards walked into the house and announced, “the Young Master is five minutes away, set the dining tables for 4 people then line yourselves up along the entrance!”

 

Jackson sprinted towards the front gate along with the rest of the bodyguards to welcome Youngjae and Jaebum to the mansion. They lined up in an orderly manner at both sides of the gate to prepare for their arrival and dipped their head slightly lower in respect.

 

A motorcycle with two figures on it raced its way down the neighbourhood and slowed down in front of the gates of Choi Residence. The two men took off their helmets and the guards realised that it was actually the Young Master and his significant other. Jackson went ahead and pushed the button for the gates to open. The Young Master got off the bike and waved excitedly at the rest of the guards.

 

“This is Jaebum, which I’m pretty sure you have all heard of,” Youngjae shyly introduced Jaebum to the bodyguards. Jaebum took the helmet from Youngjae’s hand and placed it on top of the bike. He got off of his bike and introduced himself, bowing to the bodyguards. Jackson smiled at this interaction before walking towards Youngjae.

 

“Aye, Youngjae, my sweet little bro!” He hugged Youngjae tightly and ruffled his hair. Youngjae reciprocated to Jackson’s warmness and said, “hi hyung, I missed you!”

 

Jackson turned towards the mansion with his arm wrapped around Youngjae’s shoulder and started walking, leaving Jaebum behind. He swears he can feel Jaebum glaring daggers at his back but he cannot risk having Jaebum hear him asking about Jinyoung, “damn it, Kim Yugyeom, you owe me one,” Jackson thought to himself.

 

“So, Youngjae, I have a few questions to ask you later, I hope you don’t mind answering me,” Jackson whispered softly into Youngjae’s ears, well aware that this is only going to make Jaebum mad if he isn’t already.

 

“Sure hyung, ask away,” Youngjae answered and smiled at Jackson.

 

When they reached the front door, Jackson let go of Youngjae and took 3 steps backwards, bowing his head down. Jaebum let out a cough and went to stand beside Youngjae, holding his hand. The front doors opened and the housekeepers were lined up neatly along the way in. Youngjae’s parents were in the centre, awaiting their son and his boyfriend. Youngjae immediately let go of Jaebum’s hands and went to hug his mother, whom he hasn’t seen since the school semester started. But now that winter break is here, he finally has the time to come home and spend some time with her. Jaebum smiled at the sight and walked towards Youngjae’s parents. Youngjae’s dad gave Jaebum a firm handshake and nodded at him while Youngjae stayed in his mother’s embrace.

 

“Come on, we’ll catch up later. Lunch is getting cold,” Youngjae’s dad said.

 

“Oh Jaebum, it’s been awhile,” Youngjae’s mum said and gave Jaebum a small hug as well.

 

They all walked towards the dining table that has already been set for them and sat down. The dishes were slowly being brought out by the maids. They filled up Jaebum’s teacup with earl grey tea and left a sugar packet by the cup. Jaebum began shaking his leg to try and let loose, it was his first time having lunch at the Choi’s Residence while Youngjae had already been to Jaebum’s countless times. Youngjae smiled at Jaebum and gave his thigh a little squeeze, hoping that it would calm him down, and it sure did.

 

__________

 

Jinyoung sighed as he locked the door of his apartment and plugged his earpiece into his ears, he knew that work is going to be boring for sure now because Mark is going home to Taiwan to see his family. He walked to the subway station and took out his phone to check his Instagram. He suddenly remembered that Jackson followed him on Instagram and went to click on his profile.

 

Is this considered creepy?” Jinyoung thought to himself and started scrolling through Jackson’s Instagram feed to look for more photos of a specific somebody to find that somebody’s Instagram. He also realised that Jackson likes taking photos of himself and that Jackson is really attractive, but he also saw many photos of Yugyeom that were so adorable yet sexy at the same time.

 

Finally, he found a photo where Yugyeom was getting tagged and clicked onto his profile. What he did not expect was to find out that Yugyeom is actually really famous even on Instagram and has nearly 7 million followers. He gasped and scrolled through his profile, surprised to see that Yugyeom actually has a fun personality online. There were lots of videos of him and Bambam doing the most random things and Jinyoung caught himself grinning from eye to eye.

Yu_gyeom, before Jinyoung, realised, that user is already slowing etching onto his memory.


Jinyoung got carried away with stalking Yugyeom’s profile and almost missed his stop, so he ran out of the train in panic and luckily, he made it outside before the door could snap him in half. He slowly walked up to the stairs and out of the subway station, walking the same way, passing the same traffic lights and shophouses on the way to Lux. He unlocked the back door and walked towards the staff’s locker room to change into his uniform and tied the big black apron around his waist. He locked his locker and walked towards the front door of Lux and unlocked it, changing the sign from “CLOSE” to “OPEN”.

 

He walked behind the bar counter and began brewing some tea and coffee for the bases of the cocktails on the menu. Since Mark is not here, anyone can be in charge of the bar, and it’s most likely Jinyoung because he’s the one that spends the most time with Mark, so he would know the most about bartending among the other waiters. He looked down at his watch and saw that it was 3.50pm, Hakyeon and the rest of the waiters should be here very soon. He sat down on one of the bar stools and unlock his phone just to get back to stalking Yugyeom on Instagram. He knows how much of a creep he's being but that didn't stop him at all. In fact, Jinyoung was so engrossed in Yugyeom's Instagram feed that he didn't even hear Hakyeon enter the bar until he almost scared Jinyoung off his seat.

 

"Who's that?" Jinyoung heard a voice from beside him that tickled his ear slightly and jumped.  

 

"Nobody," Jinyoung said, switching off his phone and shoving it inside his back pocket. He tried to remain cool but he just knows that his face is blushing right now.

 

"New boyfriend?" Hakyeon asked, leaning over the bar counter and winked at Jinyoung.

 

"No…" Jinyoung denied, because how can someone high and mighty like Kim Yugyeom be into someone like him?

 

"Oh? So it's a crush huh," Hakyeon continued to pester Jinyoung, it was clear that he doesn't have any intention to stop talking to Jinyoung about Yugyeom. Jinyoung got off the bar stool and walked over to the tea that he was brewing and switched off the power. He then proceeds to slice some fruits needed for the drinks, ignoring Hakyeon.

 

"Alright, I won't ask. I thought you were dating Mark though," Hakyeon said to Jinyoung and scratched his head.

 

"No, hyung, he's not even a tiny bit over Sanghyuk's death," Jinyoung answered.

 

"So if he is, you'd totally pounce on him, wouldn't you?" Hakyeon asked, wiggling his brows at Jinyoung. Jinyoung pushed Hakyeon away jokingly and laughs, honestly, he's not so sure if he would anymore.

 

Before they could continue their conversation, the door chimes and their first customer of the day walks into Lux. Jinyoung gave back Hakyeon the keys to the front door and Hakyeon went to lock both sides of the doors to the sides, making the door open all the time.

 

The man that just walked in sat down on the bar counter and Jinyoung walked over to him, silently sighing to himself, knowing that it's going to be a long day.

 

__________

 

Jaebum was glad that he came over for lunch with Youngjae's parents because he's definitely having a good laugh with the Choi family right now, thank God he did not chicken out last minute. Lunch was done and they were gathered at the centre wing of the mansion, Youngjae was helping his mother out with the cake she baked and Jaebum was talking to Youngjae's father about school.

 

"So, what do you plan on doing after graduation?" Youngjae's father asked.

 

"I plan on producing music for famous entertainment companies sir."

 

"Ah, that's nice. Listen, Jaebum," Youngjae's dad started, looking serious all of a sudden. Jaebum straightened his back and look into the eyes of Youngjae's father, waiting for him to continue.

 

"Thank you for staying with Youngjae all these years, he's been really happy." Jaebum let out a breath that he didn't know he was holding and smiled at Youngjae's dad, answering, "I've been really happy too."

 

As Jaebum and Youngjae's father were chatting in the living room, Jackson walked towards the kitchen and saw Youngjae helping his mother out with the dessert.

 

"Hi Mrs Choi, do you mind if I sneak Youngjae away for a minute?" Jackson asked, peeping into the kitchen through the slight door crack. Youngjae walked out of the kitchen and shut the door after him, "what's up, hyung?"

 

"Hey… Park Jinyoung is your friend right?"

 

"Yeah, we're roommates, what's up hyung?"

 

"Is he gay?" Jackson asked, going straight to the point.

 

"Well, yeah he is. How do you even know him?" Youngjae asked curiously.

 

"Oh, but is he single? What's his relationship with Mark Tuan?"

 

"Yeah, he and Mark are just friends, Mark hyung just takes care of Jinyoung hyung really well. Hyung, answer me!"

 

Jackson nodded and smiled to himself before thinking, "Kim Yugyeom, you lucky bastard."

 

"Well, I'll leave that story for another day little bro. Thanks for the info!" Jackson said excitedly and ruffled Youngjae's hair once again. Before Youngjae could ask even more questions, his mother came out of the kitchen with the cake all sliced and prepped, she asked Youngjae for help to bring them to the kitchen. Jackson seized the opportunity and walked away from Youngjae before he asks any questions Jackson can't answer.

 

Jackson decided that he would tell Yugyeom about it after his shift at the Choi's Residence ends because the rules here are extremely strict, if he gets caught using his phone, it would reflect badly on his family's reputation as his family has been protecting the Chois for generations. He looked down and his watch and saw that it was 4.00p.m, well, only 7 more hours to go.

 

__________

 

Jinyoung thought that being the stand-in bartender would be easier than waiting drinks the entire day, but boy was he wrong. His regular customers know that he was the bartender today and continued to pester him over the bar counter. He silently thanked that it was only Monday, so the bar closes at 11 p.m instead of the usual 4 a.m. He continued making drinks for the VIP table and handed it over to Taekwoon, one of the new servers.

 

"The clear ones with mint leaves are the mojitos, the rest of them are lychee martinis," Jinyoung instructed. Taekwoon nodded and went off to the VIP room.

 

Jinyoung went back to wiping the martini glass and singing to the song that was playing in the club right now, dancing a little in his small station.

 

"Is this what you mean by entertainment?" Jinyoung jumped at the familiar voice but thankfully he did not drop the martini glass in his hands. He turned around and to his surprise, it was Kim Yugyeom standing right before him. He blinked twice to confirm that it was indeed Kim Yugyeom.

 

"Hey…" Jinyoung started, not really knowing what to say either. Yugyeom walked towards the bar counter and took the seat right in the centre.

 

"Hey," Yugyeom smiled at Jinyoung and they just stared into each other's eyes for a few seconds until the guy next to Yugyeom reached out and caressed Jinyoung's hand to get his attention.

 

"Hey, can I get another one of this?" Jinyoung was snapped out of his trance and immediately looked over to his left. It was one of his favourite regulars who wants another order of Jäger Bomb.

 

"Sure, hold on just a minute," Jinyoung reciprocated and caressed the client's hand. Yugyeom's eyes immediately darted down towards their hands and he felt an uneasy feeling in his chest.

 

"Yugyeom-sshi, what would you like to drink?"

 

"Drop the formalities, just call me Yugyeom. I'll have the same thing he's having," Yugyeom said, referring to the guy to his right. Jinyoung nodded and walked away from them to make the drinks.

 

Yugyeom started wondering to himself, " what the heck is he doing here? Why couldn't he just be patient and wait for Jackson to get back to him?" Yugyeom sighed and took out his phone to check for any messages from Jackson, still nothing. He looked over to the guy on his right in the corner of his eye and was silently comparing himself to him.

 

“Here you go,” Yugyeom looked in front of him and saw Jinyoung putting down their drinks. The guy to Yugyeom’s right took Jinyoung’s hand in his own and kissed his wrist, to which Jinyoung just responded by laughing. Yugyeom began drinking by himself as he silently watched how Jinyoung interacted with other guests, he was suddenly regretting his decision in coming here. What was he going to tell Jinyoung? He can’t even bring up any topic to talk to Jinyoung about. It was slightly infuriating for him to watch Jinyoung flirt back at guests, but he knows that it’s his job.

 

At about 10.50p.m, all the guests started leaving. Yugyeom was on his third drink and he still hasn’t talked to Jinyoung yet. Jinyoung was almost done wiping all the glasses and cleaning up the bar counter. With only about 3 customers left in the bar, he sat down in front of Yugyeom. To Yugyeom’s surprise, Jinyoung actually initiated a conversation with him.

 

“So, what brings you here?”

 

“Uhmm… I was bored?” Just as those words left his mouth, he wanted to smack himself in the face, bored, seriously? Jinyoung must think that he’s pretty lame now.

 

Jinyoung however, just laughed at Yugyeom’s response and took the empty glass from him, “sorry, gotta start cleaning up.” He went to wash the glass and wiped it clean before sitting down in front of Yugyeom again.

 

“So, where’s your boyfriend?” Yugyeom asked, pretending to be curious where Mark was when in fact he couldn’t care less.

 

“Boyfriend? Oh, you mean Mark?” Jinyoung asked, to which Yugyeom nodded.

 

“Mark isn’t my boyfriend, I was just there at the party as his stand-in because I owe him a favour,” Jinyoung answered before letting out a chuckle. Yugyeom heaved a silent sigh of relief, thank God he didn’t have to compete with Mark.

 

“So, you’re single?” Yugyeom asked. Jinyoung didn’t say a single word, he only nodded and turned around to get back to cleaning up the bar counter. This made Yugyeom smile in triumph because now he knows he has a shot.

 

“Hey, do you want to eat dinner with me?” Yugyeom asked Jinyoung before continuing, “I haven’t had anything all day and I’m starving.” That’s a lie, he ate a load before he came here.

 

“You shouldn’t drink on an empty stomach,” Jinyoung looked at him in disapproval, “but yeah, sure, my shift starts at 4 p.m anyway. What are you craving?”

 

“I know a place here that sells really good ramen, are you up for it?” Yugyeom asked, grinning from eye to eye. He can’t help it, he’s been dreaming of this day ever since he ran into Jinyoung in the cafe months back.

 

“Yeah, sure, just give me a moment, I need to go change,” Jinyoung walked out of the bar counter and took out his apron. He walked towards the back of the bar and into the staff locker room to change out of his uniform. While Yugyeom was waiting for Jinyoung and having a mini celebration by himself, he felt his phone ring and switched it on. It was a text from Jackson.

 

Jackson

 

Sorry Gyeomie, I was busy.

 

But I did what you wanted me to do!

 

Bambam:

 

Yo bitches

 

SO WHAT’S THE VERDICT?

 

Jackson:

 

Park Jinyoung is just friends with Mark.

 

He’s as single as a pringle ;)

 

@gyeommie

 

Bambam:

 

YoOOoOooOoOoo

 

MY MAN YUGYEOM’S GETTING IT

 

Yugyeom chuckled to himself at his friends’ messages. He decided to mess around with them a little bit.

 

Yugyeom:

 

Thank you, Jackson.

 

But I already know.

 

;)

 

Bambam:

 

What

 

Jackson:

 

WAIT

 

WDYM BY THAT?!?!?!?!?

 

KIM YUGYEOM, EXPLAIN YOURSELF!


Yugyeom switched off his phone and muted it, he slipped it back into his coat pocket and waited for Jinyoung to come out of the locker room, finally.