Everyone makes bad decisions.
But some people make worse decisions than others.
This is the admission Jeonghan is forced to make when he comes to as he emerges from his deep slumber with a raging headache, an acrid taste in his mouth and a warm body pressed against his back. The corporate soirée isn’t the first place Jeonghan would expect to get shit-faced drunk in, much less somewhere he’d find someone to take home, but he hasn’t exactly been himself since Seungcheol and the after-party was one hell of a spectacle. Trust these extravagant corporate know-hows to press all the right buttons in Jeonghan's sin dispenser—as he shifts his heavy, leaden legs slowly he’s starting to regret many things at once. He remembers a bunch of flavoured shots—chocolate, orange, even milk—and downing a row of them, eight or nine (he wasn’t in the best mental state to count) and maybe letting himself be coaxed into more than one additional round after that. At the time, he told himself the exotic-looking drinks were just too rare to pass up, but he’s unable to make the same lie now that the rational part of his brain has decided to kick in.
The room he’s in is all clean lines and blank walls, tiny potted succulents lining the pristine-white windowsill overlooking the roof of the buildings around the area. Judging from the sun glaring at him from the thin blinds, it’s well into late morning already, if not breaching afternoon. He recognises the bookshelves holding up cases upon cases of ancient video game CDs—heck, he recognises the curtains, and it turns the hair on his arms positively on end.
It’s a room he never thought he’d find himself in ever again.
“Shit,” he repeats, for a lack of better vocabulary to adequately convey his distress.
“Yeah. I feel shit,” groans the man beside him, whose broad shoulders look awfully familiar and please, Yoon Jeonghan, for once prove you’re not a complete idiot— “I don’t usually do this. Drink so much, I mean. Or take people home but—” he groans again. “Guess you must’a been one hell of a—“
The man, whose head is still buried in the pillow, turns to face him and it’s like someone has dumped a bucketful of ice water all over the bed—because it seems the universe has a particular knack for screwing up with Jeonghan's life.
Of course, the one and only stranger Jeonghan’s managed to bring home since his break up with Choi Seungcheol is none other than Choi Seungcheol himself.
“Oh,” he says, eyes bleary with sleep but quickly catching up with the horrible, horrible situation. “Oh. Okay.”
“No,” whispers Jeonghan slowly. “Not okay. At all.”
They continue to lie side-by-side on the bed, arms crossed over their torsos, not moving any closer but not away either. There’s a sense of reluctance in the air that Jeonghan can’t pinpoint the source of, but it keeps them both frozen in their spots, just millimetres shy of brushing their fingers against each other.
“My head hurts,” admits Seungcheol.
“Trust me, you have no idea,” is the biting answer Jeonghan chooses to give, though he’s itching to ask which extenuating circumstance is actually giving Seungcheol such pain: the hangover or the waking-up-next-to-your-ex part?
“Are you hurt anywhere?” winces Seungcheol. “I didn’t—it wasn’t—“
“No, don’t worry,” Jeonghan reassures, albeit a little snappily. Even pissed off astronomically, Jeonghan isn’t a monster. “I said yes. I remember everything. Just didn’t process what it meant until I woke up.”
“Tell me about it,” mumbles Seungcheol, and Jeonghan almost feels sorry for him. Until he realises Seungcheol’s half of the equation to this horrible conundrum, and all empathy dissipates. “How did you—what were you doing, in the party, by the way?”
The party was a notoriously exclusive event in the tech world, and Jeonghan’s only managed to get his name on the list because the editor of the start-up company he works for, Lee Jihoon, pulled a few strings to get his long-time friend in the same party. It’s only natural for Seungcheol to be curious, really, but in his tense and worn-out state, the questions sounds more hostile to Jeonghan’s ears.
“What?” he scoffs. “You can say it. How did you get in that party, Jeonghan? Why ask? Can’t stand to see me in your little elite, chic cocktail nights? Scared I’m getting too close to you for comfort?”
Seungcheol sighs. “Jeonghan, that’s not what I meant—“
“—because God forbid I try to weasel back into your little private clique, right?”
He regrets it almost immediately. It’s a low blow, dragging back the misunderstanding that caused their completely avoidable break-up. Now Seungcheol is lying stiff, shocked into muteness as the words of Jeonghan's irritated outburst hangs heavy in the air.
“It was just a question.” Jeonghan’s never heard Seungcheol sound so small. “I didn’t mean to make it sound like… like I was accusing—”
“Yeah, well, that’s the thing with you,” Jeonghan shoots back, but his voice isn’t as sharp as he intends. “I can never tell.”
The silence that follows is stifling.
“I have to go,” Jeonghan says to the ceiling, still not moving an inch. “Since I’ve, you know. Actually got a job now.”
“I’m glad.” His traitorous heart jumps a little into his throat when he feels Seungcheol’s eyes on him. “What… what are you working as, now? If you don’t mind me asking.”
He chews his lips and considers telling Seungcheol it’s none of his business, that he no longer has the right to access Jeonghan’s private life anymore, not for a long time since they broke up and Jeonghan’s credibility had been put up for question. But he makes the mistake of meeting Seungcheol's gaze; and really, Jeonghan’s never managed to learn how to avoid falling for his sincerity, even when misplaced.
“An amateur coder,” he mumbles. “Nothing flashy. And away from company secrets.”
Seungcheol smiles and his eyes stay sad, like Jeonghan’s last admission hits him personally. And it should—when he was accused of divulging confidential data to competition as a business analyst, Seungcheol wasn’t exactly trying to defend him. Whether he was in a position to do it or not, it never stopped Jeonghan from feeling betrayed.
“That’s great. Seriously. That’s amazing,” Seungcheol tells him with a small laugh, the sound a little hollow. “It’ll only be a few months before they realise you can do a lot more and promote you.”
Jeonghan doesn’t know what to make of this. What should be doing is making himself scarce; he should be picking up his discarded things in a frenzy of irritation and maybe disgust, grumbling at Seungcheol that this is all his fault and, if Jeonghan hasn’t already resolved that they’ll never meet again, make Seungcheol pay for the emotional stress on a perfectly good Sunday morning. Seungcheol is too nice to kick anyone out, even one-night stands who turn out to be the ex he broke up with on a sour, near career-destroying note, so Jeonghan should really be the one throwing back the covers and getting shit done.
He certainly should not be trying to make small talk that will only build up hope like a flimsy sand castle within Jeonghan, who knows the coming tide will inevitably sweep it away again.
“Look, this was—nice,” Jeonghan grits out, finally fighting against his own desire to stay curled up in Seungcheol’s warm sheets. “But I really should go. I have—things to do.”
Seungcheol doesn’t try to stop him, but he doesn’t encourage Jeonghan either. It’s a little awkward, dressing in silence, but this isn’t the first time. Though god, does Jeonghan hope it’ll be the last.
“See you around.”
The door slams shut—but it doesn’t carry an air of finality with it.
Outside, Jeonghan jams his earbuds in, plays his music as loud as his ears can take and lets out a long-suffering groans.
What a cycle.