Chapter 1: preface
4 0 1 d a y s b e f o r e
cho seungyoun knows three things.
one- he looks damn fine in a suit.
two- his mom has no idea why he didn’t dive straight back into the diving pool after yibo left.
three- he has no real idea why he has to be at this company party.
granted, it is his family’s company so there was probably some sort of obligation there. but seeing as yena was fulfilling the quota of family that needed to be present, seungyoun thought he could skip it.
so he rocks up in a blue suit and slicked back hair, grabs the first flute of champagne he sees and downs it. the perks of being the son of the current CEO and the brother of the next is that his drink gets refilled almost immediately.
then halfway through the night, yujin proposes to yena and seungyoun can feel his mom’s gaze lock onto him after a few seconds.
‘seungyoun-ah,’ his mom says, grabbing him by the cheeks and squishing them. seungyoun beams back at her. he can see yena making her way towards them, tapping her new fiancé’s shoulder to let her know.
‘i heard your song being used as a bgm,’ his mom continues and seungyoun cocks his head in her hands.
‘aren’t you proud of your son?’ he asks, and his mom hums in agreement.
‘handsome, tall, successful,’ she says. ‘so why don’t you have a boyfriend?’
‘i’m trying,’ seungyoun says jokingly and that makes his mom laugh a big, genuine laugh.
'but honestly,' his mother continues. she lets go of his face to fiddle with the lapels of his suit jacket. 'i’ve never heard anything about you dating.'
'you’ve been worried about that recently,' he says pointedly and she purses her lips.
‘yujin asked me for permission to ask yena a few weeks ago,’ his mom says, ‘and i want you to go to the wedding happy, with someone. especially with how yibo-’
and his mom cuts herself off, fearing that she’s gone too far.
‘i worry.' she says instead.
'don’t.' seungyoun replies, and he closes his eyes briefly to wonder what good would come out of lying. he finds himself saying, 'besides, there is someone,' anyway. and maybe it’s worth it for the look of pure joy that crosses her face.
'it’s not serious , i haven’t even confessed yet,' he adds, lying through his teeth. he’s a little alarmed at how well he pulls it off.
'tell me more about him!’
and he draws a blank. he gapes for a few seconds and his mother raises an eyebrow, mistaking his panic for excitement.
'you’d love him.' he says, stalling for time, and thinks of what he tells the stray interviewer what exactly his ideal type is. 'he’s about my height. shorter.'
'don't spare any details.' his mother says, sarcastic in her own special way and seungyoun flounders.
'he’s nice. responsible. really kind. he has the best smile i’ve ever seen.'
she smiles knowingly.
'what’s his name?' she asks and he panics.
'he’s a lee,' he says and she beams.
'okay,’ she says. ‘keep your secrets.’
Chapter 2: I: i walk through your dreams and invent the future
5 0 d a y s b e f o r e
(16:20) i’ve made that week before free as well so i’ll head down earlier
from: ꉂ ( ๑¯ਊ¯)σ
(16:27) hellz yezzzzzzz
(16:39) oh yh mom wants to remind u to use ur +1 and to book him a flight on the plane too
(16:41) i don’t have a +1
from: ꉂ ( ๑¯ਊ¯)σ
(16:42) what happened to hangyul?
from: ꉂ ( ๑¯ਊ¯)σ
(16:47) the nice, kind lee-ssi with the best smile you’ve ever seen ;)))))))))))))
(16:48) mom won’t stop talking about it!!!!!!!!!!!! :( did you not confess in the end :(
seungyoun jolts in his seat and swears a little. the soup of his ramen spills and leaves a small red splotch on the bottom of his white t-shirt.
‘are you okay?’ asks one of the artists recording.
‘yeah,’ seungyoun says, ‘just unexpected news.’
here’s the thing:
this conversation happened a year ago. seungyoun barely remembers this.
it was at that weird company merger party, seungyoun remembers, either before or around his fifth flute of champagne, which leaves his memory foggy anyway. adding in the fact that his mother had (for once) decided to avoid talking about seungyoun’s love life for a year and the fact that it had been, you know, a year, seungyoun definitely isn’t familiar with everything he said.
he does, however, remember that he never actually specified a name.
so how the fuck they came up with lee hangyul surprises him.
here’s another thing:
one year ago, hangyul and seungyoun were well on their way to being best friends.
it came about naturally. they were always working together on new projects; seungyoun would often go to hangyul when he needed choreography for his new song, or hangyul would ask seungyoun to be his photographer for the dance studio website. their latest project was working on the debut of an idol group, and seungyoun remembers going in to watch the choreography and help hangyul bounce ideas off him, as well as providing some of his own. being a performer himself, he had some moves in mind when composing and producing. his favourite projects were when seungyoun needed a voice on a track that just wasn’t his , and he found that the younger man’s husky tone suited his perfectly.
and so one person always owed the other coffee, or lunch, or dinner, or drinks, and then they were meeting regularly, until regularly became every day, and every day became twenty-four hours straight.
but then them and their friends went out for karaoke one night, and the next day hangyul was every inch the ice prince he looked towards seungyoun. curt, polite, and blunt. the very opposite of the hangyul seungyoun had known.
and here’s the final thing:
seungyoun would really rather prefer to have his mom happy.
4 9 d a y s b e f o r e
‘so what, you’re gonna fake date him?’ wooseok asks when seungyoun tells him everything. he doesn’t even wait for seungyoun’s reply before saying, ‘that is the dumbest idea.’
‘well, yes,’ seungyoun says. ‘but it’s all i can do. hangyulie doesn’t even like me anymore, so i can’t just go up and say, ‘hey, i accidentally implied to my mom that i want to bone your brains out and she’s expecting you at the wedding but let’s just tell her we’re friends’ even though we’re not.’
‘you could literally just say that. or a better idea- ask him out properly.’
‘i just said that he doesn’t like me.’
‘ding dong, you’re wrong,’ wooseok sing-songs as he clicks his next option of the buzzfeed quiz he’s currently doing.
he lets his mouse hover over his next choice as he turns to look seungyoun in the eye.
‘do whatever you think you have to do,’ he says, ‘but if you fake-date him, or pull some kind of cowardly shit on him, you’re gonna break that boy’s heart.’
‘as if,’ seungyoun scoffs.
‘fine,’ wooseok says. his phone buzzes and wooseok quickly scans the text and presses his lips into a thin line. ‘jinhyuk says that they’re all free tomorrow at around two, if you want to make it quick.’
4 8 d a y s b e f o r e
he decides to surprise hangyul, so he forgoes their usual i’m coming to see u now text. he turns up to the studio right as he can tell they’re all finishing up a video, with all of the dancing crew being around halfway through a choreo.
he spots yohan cheering at the side, tentative to dance after his ankle injury but moving along to the choreo nonetheless. seungyoun waves at the younger man and yohan’s mouth falls open as he waves back. he points at the camera and beckons seungyoun in.
as he slowly pushes the door open so as not to distract the whooping crowd of students, he can see hangyul dancing, leading the group. once he makes it next to yohan, the younger man whispers his greetings into seungyoun's ear.
‘this is a new one,’ yohan says, and seungyoun grins. it’s a fast paced song, some kind of remix of a popular western song at the moment, and hangyul is dancing with a bunch of baby-faced boys. the younger man stands out, of course, with his well-defined features and smooth dance moves.
‘when will you be up there?’ seungyoun asks yohan, and he shrugs.
‘next week i’ll be back dancing,’ yohan says. ‘but i need to practice to get good again, so i’m not sure. maybe i’ll be on videos again next month.’
‘nah, you’re better than you think.’ seungyoun says. he notices the song is in the middle of a buildup to the drop.
‘why are you here?’ yohan asks, right before there’s a beat of silence in the song and seungyoun shouts, ‘ LEE HANGYUL, YOU’RE SEXY!’
hangyul’s face breaks from the cool expression to shocked before the music drops and the choreo gets intense. the younger man dances the rest of the song holding back laughter and seungyoun smiles a little to himself.
‘nevermind,’ yohan says. ‘i see why you’re here.’
hangyul shoots seungyoun a look over his shoulder as he jogs back towards the camera, stopping the recording. seungyoun watches as one of the dancers asks hangyul a question, with hangyul thinking before shaking his head as an answer.
seungyoun frowns. why is his heart pounding so fast?
‘hey,’ hangyul says. then he grins impishly and blows on seungyoun’s face. seungyoun splutters in surprise and the younger man laughs.
‘there was a wind so now your face is stuck like that,’ he says with a shrug.
‘devilishly handsome?’ seungyoun asks jokingly, exaggerating his frown whilst cocking one hip.
there’s a beat of silence before hangyul slowly says, ‘sure. anyways- i’m sure you’re here for a reason.’
‘yena’s getting married,’ seungyoun says.
‘oh wow,’ hangyul says. ‘congratulations to yena. marriage. huh.’
‘yeah,’ seungyoun says. ‘i was wondering if you’d come as my plus one-’
‘-and i’ll even pay you for doing me a fa- wait, what?’
‘you’ll pay me to do you?’
‘what,’ seungyoun says. and then he thinks about where he cut off in his sentence and flushes. he narrows his eyes at hangyul’s innocent expression before he shrugs.
‘i’m kidding, hyung,’ hangyul says. ‘i’ll be your plus one. i haven’t seen yena in a while, actually. it’ll be nice to be there.’
‘oh,’ seungyoun says. ‘yes. absolutely, that’s- that’s great. she’ll be happy to know you’re coming.’
‘great,’ hangyul says. he checks the time on his phone and pulls a little face. ‘i don’t have much time but you can stay around-
‘i’ll text you,’ seungyoun says. ‘i have- i have places to go. people to see. wooseok. you know how he gets.’
‘sulky and evil,’ hangyul says with a grin. ‘okay, hyung. text me then.’
(20:03) i already got you your plane ticket
(20:04) it’s in a month
(20:04) yohan said u were free then (:
from: vegan tiger
(20:05) that was presumptuous
(20:05) for good reason
(20:09) i have no money
(20:10) plz buy me food too
(20:10) as well as paying me
(20:12) ( ͡~ ͜ʖ ͡°)
(21:14) yah, lee hangyul
from: vegan tiger
(21:48) don’t be silly
(21:49) yena’s buying
n e w m e s s a g e !
(21:52) I have a bad feeling about this.
there’s no reason for this to end up bad. he thinks. sure, hangyul went along with it fairly quickly, but he was probably already thinking that he hadn’t seen yena in a long time.
and the way that hangyul had latched onto the idea of seungyoun paying him was probably hangyul’s way of showing that he understood that this was a friends-only situation. that really just acts as a testament to how close he and hangyul are- were , seungyoun corrects himself. how close we were.
(21:56) it’ll be fiiiiiiiiiiiiiine
seungyoun chews his lip. he’s uncomfortable with the idea of him and hangyul being a past tense in any way, and he knows that whatever happened between the two of them must be his own fault. he doesn’t recall anything happening that week.
maybe the wedding will be a good way for me to get our friendship back on track , he thinks.
Chapter 3: II: you said i could have anything i wanted but i / just couldn’t say it out loud
seungyoun begins to catch feelings
no beta so apologies for typos!
2 2 d a y s b e f o r e
‘you know i’ve never met your mom,’ hangyul says off-handedly.
‘not even at those dance showcases at university?’ seungyoun asks. ‘i’m sure you must have seen her around, she was definitely there to see yena.’
‘i didn’t meet her though,’ hangyul pouts and seungyoun laughs.
they’re making their way through the airport, having just collected their luggage.
‘she’s great,’ seungyoun says, ‘although she did tell me she was going to make me do the phone calls this week.’
hangyul snorts. in fact, seungyoun’s mom had threatened seungyoun with a manner of things (forced attendance to all family business meetings, his entire wardrobe to be re-appraised, castration) if he didn’t get to jeju a week early to help with the wedding.
‘not much free time then,’ hangyul says. seungyoun can sense a disappointed yet resigned tone to hangyul’s voice.
‘i’m sure there’ll be an evening off,’ seungyoun says, pretending to be unaffected by hangyul’s sadness. ‘i’ll take you out for barbecue? there’s a nice black pork place nearby that’s recommended on naver.’
‘yes please,’ hangyul breathes as they walk into the arrival area. seungyoun watches hangyul squint at all the signs and people, knowing that the younger boy refused to wear contact lenses or glasses despite having godawful eyesight.
‘you’re just gonna watch, huh,’ hangyul says as he somehow squints even more.
‘you’re in charge, hangyul-ah,’ seungyoun says, and he even rests his head on his fist to gaze at him. hangyul scowls and playfully pushes at seungyoun’s arm.
‘jokes on you,’ hangyul says. ‘they’re over there.’
and he gestures to the left. seungyoun finally tears his gaze away from the younger man- there’s a bit of sleep dust by his eyes, and he kind of wants to wipe it away- and quickly scans the people to check that hangyul did indeed find the right family.
‘you should be in charge more,’ seungyoun says as hangyul leads the way. he’s dragging along both of their large suitcases with ease, so seungyoun takes hangyul’s jacket- hanging on the handle of his luggage- and carries it.
‘nah,’ hangyul says. ‘could you imagine?’
‘you do a great job with the dance studio,’ seungyoun says. it’s a rare moment where the two aren’t joking and hangyul nearly trips over his own feet. but he looks at seungyoun over his shoulder and there’s a kind of vulnerability and thankfulness that seungyoun’s never seen in hangyul’s eyes before- but it’s gone, the moment lost when hangyul scoffs.
‘that’s not just me and you know it,’ he says uneasily. he stops and lets seungyoun catch up.
‘you okay?’ seungyoun asks.
‘didn’t want to meet your family before you,’ hangyul says and seungyoun giggles.
predictably, seungyoun’s mom is in love with hangyul.
despite the two having never met, she’s heard a lot about hangyul; not only was hangyul a frequent collaborator on seungyoun’s work, he was in the same year as yena doing the same major, so the two were familiar with each other.
‘you’re more handsome than i expected,’ seungyoun’s mom had said after everyone had greeted each other. hangyul had thanked her with a bashful duck of his head and a bright smile and his mom was gone.
‘you should’ve brought him round sooner,’ she says angrily to seungyoun, and seungyoun splutters as he tries to wriggle his way out of the conversation. yena sticks her tongue out at him when their mom isn’t looking, but their mom snaps her head around and adds, ‘you too,’ to yena.
then she says, ‘hangyul-ah, have you ever been to jeju-do?’
hangyul shakes his head.
‘oh!’ she exclaims. then- ‘i’ll try not to take up too much time with seungyounie then, so he can show you around jeju. everything’s under control.’
‘it’s okay, we came down to help-’ hangyul says, flustered, but he’s silenced with a wave of a dismissive hand.
‘everything is under control,’ she repeats.
‘seungyoun would ruin things anyway,’ yena adds teasingly and seungyoun blows a raspberry in response.
the hotel they’re staying at is fucking fantastic, seungyoun thinks.
‘wow,’ hangyul says when they enter their room. ‘yuehua must be doing great.’
seungyoun snorts at the unexpected comment.
‘only because they have me,’ seungyoun says lightheartedly. he isn’t expecting hangyul to hum in agreement.
‘of course,’ hangyul says. he’s dragging their suitcases to the corner of the room and seungyoun toes off his shoes and-
‘one bed,’ seungyoun says.
‘yep,’ hangyul says. ‘hey, do you think the room service here will be good?’
‘should be,’ seungyoun replies. ‘hangyul-ah, look- one bed.’
‘yeah,’ hangyul says. he looks at seungyoun from across the room and quirks an eyebrow. ‘i’m cool with it.’
‘nice,’ seungyoun says quickly. ‘me too, i’m so cool with it.’
hangyul wanders into the en suite. ‘yah, wow, seungyoun-ah, the bathroom here is bigger than my apartment.’
seungyoun listens to hangyul walk around the bathroom and exclaiming at the shower and the large square bathtub on the balcony. he tentatively lies down on the bed, pulls down the hem of his shorts that have ridden up, and watches hangyul lean over the balcony. the younger man turns to look seungyoun in the eye and he smiles brightly. seungyoun entertains the idea of sharing a bed with the same man- they had napped together, sure, but that was on uncomfortable couches and all in the name of friendship. now here they were, kind of friends and under the guise of dating, not even thinking about how actually sleeping in the same bed makes seungyoun’s mind stutter a little bit.
‘one bed,’ seungyoun repeats, loudly but tentatively.
hangyul rolls his eyes as he makes his way back into the room. ‘if we try to change rooms to a two single beds, we’re missing out on a great view and a big bathtub.’
hangyul suddenly breaks into a run and practically leaps onto the bed, his whole body springing back up. he hollers as he bounces back up and down, before adding, ‘and the most comfortable bed i’ve ever been on.’
‘i see,’ seungyoun says. it makes sense. it’s a great room. he was being dumb.
‘also,’ hangyul says in a quieter voice, ‘the bed’s big enough that it would feel like sleeping in separate beds. right?’
seungyoun looks down at the bed, easily a king size, possibly even bigger (if possible), and he says something like, hell yeah, we won’t even notice whilst his brain reminds him that he likes to spoon anything and everything when sleeping.
‘relax,’ hangyul whispers before dragging seungyoun’s body from a sitting position into a fully reclining one, meeting his level on the bed (except the older man is lying on his back and hangyul, on his front).
‘i’m relaxed,’ seungyoun says.
‘tense,’ hangyul corrects, poking seungyoun’s shoulder.
‘hungry,’ seungyoun decides. ‘we can go to that barbecue tonight if mom’s letting us off the hook. i’ll even pay.’
‘cool,’ hangyul says. ‘i might nap until then.’
‘go for it.’ seungyoun says. ‘i’ll wake you up when you’re needed.’
‘sure. you know, you should probably go downstairs and properly catch up with your family and everything.’
so seungyoun nods, watches hangyul close his eyes and watches his breath slowly even out until he’s sure the younger man is asleep, and then awkwardly toes his shoes back on before heading downstairs to talk to his family.
(‘he’s so handsome,’ his mom tells him the second he gets downstairs. ‘you’re lucky someone didn’t snap him up before you did. when did you confess?’
‘about a month ago.’)
so seungyoun takes the younger man out to dinner that night.
the restaurant itself isn’t that busy- it’s a monday night, after all, and almost too early for dinner- so the owner sits them down on the table by the window. there’s a beautiful view to the sea and hangyul bounces excitedly in his chair as he takes his jacket off.
‘since you’re buying,’ he explains and seungyoun splutters.
‘and not for my company?’ seungyoun asks indignantly.
‘not even a little bit,’ hangyul says cheerily. seungyoun looks down at his bowl and pouts a little, and he looks up to see hangyul drop some beansprouts into seungyoun’s bowl.
‘should we get soju or not?’ hangyul asks and seungyoun shrugs.
‘i haven’t properly had a drink in a long time,’ seungyoun says. ‘so it depends on you.’
‘oh?’ hangyul says in surprise. ‘how long?’
‘maybe a year,’ seungyoun answers before chewing on a piece of fishcake. ‘my tolerance has probably gone to shit.’
‘what tolerance,’ hangyul scoffs. ‘you could barely handle one shot before.’
‘i made it to four last time!’
‘and what happened?’
‘i don’t- i don’t actually remember.’
and hangyul quietens after that, seemingly lost in his own thought. seungyoun’s tempted to just change the subject when the owner comes around and begins cooking their food for them. she’s kind, giving them more meat than seungyoun paid for, and cheerily compliments them both without abandon; the older man does snap a quick picture of hangyul’s horrified face when she starts complimenting the younger man’s looks.
‘you remind me of my son,’ the owner says to hangyul. ‘he’s probably around your age. twenty-five?’
‘i’m twenty-two though,’ hangyul says and she gapes.
‘i’m so sorry,’ she says, and hangyul shakes his head.
‘i get it a lot, it’s okay,’ he says, and he gives her a big toothy grin to reassure her. she immediately grins and seungyoun gets it, because he looks a lot softer when he smile with his little bunny teeth showing.
‘you’re like a baby when you do that,’ she says, and she leans forward to pinch his cheek.
‘ay, auntie, i’m embarrassed now.’ hangyul says. ‘ wait, he’s actually twenty-six,’ he adds, flushing from the attention and the owner looks at seungyoun appraisingly.
‘an older man,’ she says with a leer, and seungyoun chokes on a piece of pork.
‘so old,’ hangyul says in agreement. ‘but somehow i look after him.’
‘yah, treat him right!’ the owner practically shouts at seungyoun teasingly before leaving them with a pile of perfectly cooked meat. seungyoun’s barely recovered from his choking fit when he meets hangyul’s mischievous gaze.
‘lee hangyul,’ seungyoun says warningly and hangyul raises his eyebrows repeatedly.
‘what are you trying to tell me?’ seungyoun asks and hangyul pouts.
‘make me a wrap, seungyoun-ah. you should really treat me right, you know.’
seungyoun rolls his eyes but begins making a wrap immediately, grabbing a lettuce leaf. his hand hovers over the chilis and he laughs when hangyul gets poutier. in the end he decides against it and just makes a standard wrap. hangyul lifts up his hands to get ready to take it from seungyoun, but seungyoun tuts and holds it away from hangyul.
‘i’m feeding you,’ seungyoun says. hangyul lifts one eyebrow in surprise, but he leans forward and opens his mouth expectantly.
so seungyoun pushes the wrap into hangyul’s mouth a little recklessly and he giggles as hangyul’s eyes widen in surprise.
‘does that count as treating you right?’ seungyoun asks and he can see hangyul’s flushed a little bit, probably from the heat.
‘sure,’ hangyul says.
so they sit there and catch up and laugh, and seungyoun notices how hangyul starts looking out the window to stare at the sky that’s bleeding blue and how the twinkling lights almost become muted in the darkness. it’s almost inspiring, in a way, and so seungyoun jots a few lyric ideas down in the notes app of his phone and looks up at hangyul, who looks away quickly.
‘work never stops, huh,’ hangyul says and seungyoun shrugs.
‘it’s pretty inspiring, no?’ seungyoun says. ‘look at the colours- it’s so dark and blue, but i don’t feel any sadness or unsettled or anything. it’s almost comforting. maybe even a little romantic.’
hangyul hums a response to the last word, and seungyoun nods. it does feel a little romantic, honestly, and if this was anyone else, seungyoun would probably even label the whole night a date.
‘romantic,’ hangyul repeats quietly and seungyoun purses his lips.
‘i guess, more in the sense that it’s an- i’ve forgotten the word. not necessarily as in, i’m in love with this night, but more as in, i wish this was what the night could be every night.’
‘idealised?’ hangyul offers, looking at the sky and seungyoun nods frantically.
‘yes, it’s an idealised way of looking at it. like, i’m in here and i’m having a great time with you and because of that, the cold and dark outside doesn’t look frightening, it looks exciting and mysterious, but in a good way.’
‘wow, you’ll make me blush,’ hangyul says laughingly, before he hesitantly adds, ‘you’re cool when you talk about your work.’
he chews before continuing. ‘i wish i could articulate my thoughts like that, it makes your lyrics so deep. whenever i try to write my own, they come out kind of childish.’
‘go out with me more and i’ll teach you how i do it.’ seungyoun says. it’s a cheap shot to get hangyul to meet him more, and he knows it, but he still feels a burst of success when hangyul’s eyes widen.
‘yeah.’ seungyoun shrugs. ‘you’re already an amazing singer, so it’ll be easy, i swear. promise me you’ll do that.’
‘i promise,’ hangyul says after a couple of beats of silence. seungyoun’s heart flutters a little bit at the idea of a promise, for some reason, and he quickly types out a few more key words.
‘hyung,’ hangyul says shyly, and seungyoun’s head snaps up to meet hangyul’s gaze- the younger man rarely uses honorifics, so this must be important.
‘you know what you were saying earlier, about how you wish every night could feel like this?’ hangyul asks, and seungyoun nods. hangyul’s ears are a little red.
‘well, they could be, you know. like this, i mean. if it’s because of me.’
and seungyoun’s heart stutters to a quick stop.
‘i mean,’ hangyul adds quickly, ‘i mean, we could go out more. get us both out of our studios.’
‘now that’s romantic.’ seungyoun says jokingly and hangyul laughs a little too loudly. ‘but hangyul-ah, i don’t think my wallet could afford paying for dinner every night. we ate about six portions between the two of us today.’
‘i’ll pay tomorrow.’ hangyul says immediately. ‘for dinner. we could go to that pork cutlet place that you went to with sunho-hyung?’
‘i mentioned that once, you remember that?’
hangyul blinks before he says, ‘you basically delivered a shakespearean monologue on how tasty this port cutlet was. i don’t think i could forget it, even if i wanted to.’
‘oh,’ seungyoun says. then- ‘yeah, sure. i think i have every night free, honestly. except the weekend, obviously.’
‘yah, of course we’re not going to a pork cutlet place on the weekend when yena’s getting married ,’ hangyul says teasingly.
‘i wouldn’t put it past us two,’ seungyoun says thoughtfully.
getting back into the hotel is fine, to say the least. perhaps the most alarming thing was hangyul coming out of the shower in just his sweatpants, and seungyoun watches him dry off, pretending he’s more fascinated by how his dark brown hair turns blond when he finishes towelling his hair rather than the planes of his abs.
‘you gonna shower?’ hangyul asks, and seungyoun nods, swallows. his mouth is dry.
‘you better hurry,’ hangyul says, ‘you smell like grease and smoke.’
‘you don’t smell any better, and you’ve just showered.’ seungyoun fires back and hangyul smirks.
‘i remember you telling me that i smell nice,’ he replies.
and hangyul’s face goes through a series of emotions- glee, then confusion, then slight horror, thoughtfulness and then resigned- and he says, ‘i just remember.’
‘okay,’ seungyoun says. he decides to not comment on hangyul’s weirdness (what would he even say? hey hangyul, your distractingly handsome face just did some strange things) and gets to his feet, snatching the towel hanging from around hangyul’s neck. he sticks his tongue out as he heads to the bathroom.
‘cho seungyoun-ssi,’ hangyul says quickly. ‘by the way. the shower gets really hot really quickly, so don’t get burned.’
and seungyoun ignores how his heart flutters at the simple worry.
he finishes up his shower fairly quickly and pads out, except he’s wearing a thin white t-shirt instead of going shirtless like hangyul.
seungyoun almost gets whiplash from the sight that meets him; hangyul’s sitting on the large bed, thick rimmed glasses on, hair messy and damp and still shirtless, scratching his head as he frantically types away on his laptop. there’s a pair of wireless headphones resting on his neck, brushing at the younger man’s collarbones.
it’s almost heartbreakingly domestic, seungyoun thinks, then- heartbreakingly?
‘sorry,’ hangyul says. ‘i have to get this video edited.’
‘that’s fine,’ seungyoun replies. ‘is it the video you shot last month?’
he can just about hear the bass pulsing through the headphones and recognises the melody. hangyul nods.
‘i wanna see,’ seungyoun says. hangyul looks up from the screen and at seungyoun, his eyes raking over seungyoun’s body. he swallows.
‘yah,’ hangyul says. ‘your shirt’s turning see-through because you’re not dry yet. you’re gonna make the bed damp.’
but he taps at the space next to him anyways. seungyoun dives into the bed face-first and even bounces back up a little, before turning over onto his back.
‘show me,’ seungyoun says breathlessly and hangyul rolls his eyes as he scrolls back to the beginning of the video.
seungyoun watches as the studio’s name flickers onto the screen. the sound still comes through from hangyul’s headphones, so he snuggles- for lack of a better word, he laments- up closer to hangyul so that he can hear.
the hangyul on screen jumps into the centre, and seungyoun’s widen at the sight of the younger man’s outfit.
‘is that a leopard print shirt?’ he asks incredulously. hangyul snorts.
‘i don’t know what it is, but it fit the colour scheme.’
the hangyul in the video does a hip thrust with a boyish grin and seungyoun can’t help but let out a long ohhhhhhhhh .
‘i’m embarrassed,’ hangyul says matter-of-factly.
‘so am i,’ says seungyoun, right before he sees himself sneak up in the crowd. he lets out a wild giggle at how hangyul’s edited it; there’s a giant arrow pointing him out as well as captions reading WOW A CELEBRITY IS HERE . and then the hangyul in the video drags his hands over his ass to mimic the lyrics and seungyoun’s mind goes blank.
‘do you not like it?’ hangyul asks. ‘i can get rid of the editing if you want.’
‘it’s funny,’ seungyoun says reassuringly. he can’t really stop watching the video- there’s other people in it, sure, but hangyul really takes all the attention from them.
‘wooh,’ seungyoun exclaims as hangyul pops his hips seductively on the video.
‘i regret this,’ hangyul says. and then there’s the buildup in the song, and hangyul blushes.
‘oh shit,’ seungyoun says, barely remembering what he had done.
‘i haven’t properly dubbed over the music yet,’ hangyul pipes in quickly before ‘ LEE HANGYUL, YOU’RE SEXY,’ rings out from hangyul’s headphones.
seungyoun cringes at the sound of his own voice. he can feel hangyul’s huffs of laughter rather than hear them, mostly because he’s practically lying down on hangyul’s bare chest, and his eyes widen as this fact sinks in.
‘you don’t have to dub over the music,’ seungyoun finds himself saying, and hangyul’s laughter stops abruptly.
‘i mean. it’s the truth.’ he says, and he shrugs. ‘look at your thighs in those jeans, lee hangyul-ssi, you’re sexy.’
and again, he can feel hangyul swallow rather than see it.
‘less work for me then,’ hangyul says. seungyoun slaps one of his hands onto hangyul’s abs and slowly gets himself up, and hangyul pokes seungyoun’s mirror tattoo in retaliation.
‘you gonna keep working?’ seungyoun asks. hangyul nods. seungyoun nods and goes to get out his laptop; he might as well work as well, and he’s in the process of developing some beats for his next album.
so they sit next to each other for a long time. they don’t really talk much, and seungyoun can tell hangyul doesn’t mind the fact that seungyoun has his airpods in even though the younger man still hasn’t put his headphones back on his head. hangyul grabs one of the pillows and taps seungyoun’s arm, placing the cushion on seungyoun’s lap so that the laptop doesn’t get too hot on seungyoun’s skin.
it becomes a comfortable kind of quiet, often punctuated by seungyoun sometimes just placing one airpod into hangyul’s ear. the blond man’s head bops along to the rhythm and seungyoun can tell immediately whether it’s good or bad.
‘you have a very responsive face,’ seungyoun says quietly. he sees hangyul try to keep his face blasé as he ignores the urge to pull a disgusted face at the compliment.
‘thanks,’ hangyul says in the end.
it gets to about two in the morning when hangyul finishes up. his computer screen goes black and he puts the laptop on the floor and slinks down into a sleeping position.
‘sleep,’ hangyul groans and seungyoun shrugs.
‘insomnia,’ seungyoun says as an explanation and hangyul pouts.
and seungyoun realises he probably hasn’t done anything productive for the last half hour, so he saves his work about twelve times in succession before shutting down his laptop. he doesn’t want to step on it in the morning though, so he gets up to put it away and turns the light off whilst he’s up. when he gets back to the bed after tentatively stepping through the dark, he stands by the bed for a second.
he’s not really sure what kind of sleeping position he should really go for; he normally sleeps spread-eagled on his back, and hangyul seems to be sleeping on his front tonight. there would be just enough space between the two if he tried keeping his arms glued to his sides, or maybe if he slept on his side. so he slips into the bed and gets on his side, ready to sleep that way. but oh god, seungyoun forgot he was also a notorious duvet hogger-
‘i can hear you over-thinking,’ hangyul says quietly. ‘are you really okay with this?’
‘yes,’ seungyoun says immediately. because he is fine with it, really, he’s just also really nervous that he’s going to wake up cuddling hangyul. he normally sleeps with two duvets, because he wakes up in the morning wrapped around one.
‘okay,’ hangyul says. ‘are you going to get comfortable at any point this night?’
seungyoun huffs and plops onto his back.
‘there we go,’ hangyul says. ‘goodnight, seungyoun-ssi.’
they forgot to draw the blinds though, so they’re awoken by the sunrise at ass o’clock. the birds are chirping loudly, and seungyoun groans a little at the light before freezing.
he’s got hangyul’s face buried in the crook of his neck, fitting perfectly, and hangyul’s arm thrown across his chest. his own arm is underneath hangyul’s head, resting in the blond man’s hair, and their legs are intertwined. it’s the most comfortable seungyoun’s been in ages, and it isn’t just because the bed is soft.
‘relax.’ says hangyul and that’s a feeling. seungyoun shivers at the feeling of hangyul’s lips moving against his neck, soft and even a little slick from the peach lip balm that hangyul puts on before he sleeps.
‘blergh,’ seungyoun replies eloquently, and his eyes slowly shut again. it’s been ages since he’s slept well- he’s just been too busy.
hangyul mumbles, ‘we could go to the teddy bear museum today,’ and seungyoun tries to open his eyes again.
‘romantic,’ he slurs sleepily, and hangyul snorts. he moves his head to the other side and grabs lethargically at the bedside table, slapping his laptop several times before he gets his phone. there’s a sudden bright light and the sound of the keyboard typing, much slower than expected, and maybe two minutes pass before there’s a sigh.
‘never mind,’ hangyul says. he puts the phone back down and returns to his original position with no hesitation, burying his face back into the crook of seungyoun’s neck. ‘it looks boring. what about the spirited garden?’
seungyoun scrunches his nose. ‘is it far?’
‘i don’t know. looks nice though. we should go.’
‘sure,’ seungyoun says. ‘wanna sleep a little longer?’
seungyoun tries to move positions but hangyul makes a little whining sound, and seungyoun stills.
‘are you uncomfortable?’ hangyul asks, this time a little more awake and seungyoun hums to say that he isn’t, and if anything, he’s too comfortable.
‘okay,’ hangyul says. ‘let’s just stay like this then.’
so they do.
1 9 d a y s b e f o r e
the gardens themselves are beautiful.
it’s picture-esque, and almost too much like a landscape that had been ripped out of an anime. seungyoun was glad he brought his DSLR with him and took lots of photos, many of them being candid snaps of hangyul looking awe-stricken at all the flowers.
he wasn’t expecting to have his heart flutter so much, he thinks. he asked hangyul on this wedding because he had implied he was dating hangyul, and no-one else really fit the criteria he had put out. so it wasn’t a surprise for seungyoun to realise that he had probably repressed his crush on hangyul for a while now.
but it had been a long time since they had cooled off. hangyul was always easy-going and funny, so his behaviour of this trip (so far) hadn’t been unbelievable, but the younger man always seemed a little nervous, whether it was talking to seungyoun’s mom (who was smug as hell that hangyul had asked permission to take seungyoun out for the day).
and after their trip to the gardens- DATE, seungyoun’s mind screams - hangyul insisted on driving them to the pork cutlet restaurant. seungyoun had laughed at hangyul pretending to drive coolly, reversing with one hand on the wheel and the other on the back of seungyoun’s seat. (he looked cool though, seungyoun’s mind pops up again).
so they’re at the restaurant, with their drinks having arrived and hangyul returns from the bathroom, flicking the excess water in seungyoun’s face.
‘yah,’ seungyoun says, and hangyul smiles, bright and wide and toothy.
but then the younger man smiles like that sometimes, and it kind of breaks seungyoun’s brain.
‘hey,’ seungyoun says once hangyul’s sat back down. ‘you okay?’
‘you just seemed nervous this week.’
‘oh.’ hangyul says. ‘was it obvious?’
‘no, i just know you. why are you nervous?’
hangyul shrugs. ‘you, i suppose.’
‘you can relax then,’ seungyoun says. ‘it’s just me.’
but inside, his heart lurches.
that’s basically an admission that hangyul is nervous because...because why? probably because he’s still uncomfortable with seungyoun for whatever the fuck reason seungyoun still hasn’t figured out. or because he’s thrown hangyul into a situation where he has to act, pretty much 24/7, and act in love with seungyoun nonetheless. seungyoun feels bad and he wants to grab the younger man’s hands and trace apologies onto his knuckles, but he settles for quickly tracing the small expanse of collarbone exposed by his unbuttoned shirt (as if that would make him feel less guilty) and then training his eyes on the cutlery by his plate.
‘yeah,’ hangyul says quietly. ‘just you.’
and the waiter comes.
once seungyoun’s ordered for the two of them, he fiddles with the napkin and his stomach gurgles a little.
‘oh wow, you’re hungry,’ hangyul says. ‘reminded me of dohyon for a second there.’
and seungyoun lights up. ‘how is he?’
seungyoun and dohyon had met during the summer, as the younger boy stayed with hangyul in the summer break (which was impossibly long). he had only just graduated, and so he was flitting around studios and tutoring and generally being quite busy.
‘eats a lot,’ hangyul says, ‘grows a lot, hasn’t changed much. he asks about you. how you’re doing and when you can meet him and whatnot.’
‘what do you tell him?’
‘to ask you,’ hangyul says dryly. ‘he has your kakaotalk for a reason.’
the pork cutlets arrive after that, so they start eating with gusto. it’s around the fifth bite where seungyoun says, ‘oh! in two days, the gang are coming down.’
hangyul makes a questioning noise and seungyoun swallows.
‘wooseokie, jinhyukie, seungwoo-hyung, yohanie,’ seungyoun rattles off. ‘i don’t think any of the boys could make it down, their schedules are too busy.’
‘ah, to be a rookie again,’ hangyul sighs. ‘yohan didn’t tell me he was coming.’
‘i think he’s seungwoo’s plus one,’ seungyoun says. ‘a new development from maybe yesterday? i don’t think byungchan could make it- his leg, again.’
‘ah,’ hangyul says. then- ‘i didn't know that yena was close to all of our friends.’
seungyoun shrugs. ‘she knows wooseok fairly well from that project they did together for a while, and jinhyuk’s his plus one, obviously. and i mean, seungwoo’s in our company...’
hangyul nods slowly. ‘makes sense. the only other person that i know here is hyewon, and all we really do together is eat.’
‘hyewon, the actress?’ seungyoun asks as he chews around his piece, his brain slowly loading a memory of a rookie praised for her visuals.
‘yeah,’ hangyul says. he gets another piece of cutlet in his mouth. ‘same year in high school.’
‘interesting,’ seungyoun says flatly.
it’s not that interesting. hyewon is hangyul’s age, so she’s younger than seungyoun, and she’s undeniably beautiful. and if they already know each other, then surely hangyul would rather hang out with her than him-
‘but she’s coming with her plus one as well, and i’m not really up for small talk. you know, since i’m with you.’
and seungyoun immediately lets out a breath he didn’t know he was holding.
(20:44) Did Seungwoo already send you the flight details?
(00:12) yes he did
(00:15) see u soon
Chapter 4: III: dear so-and-so / i’m sorry i came to your party / and seduced you / and left you bruised and ruined, you poor sad thing
there's a bonfire and then there's a revelation
i updated the chapter count from 6 to 8, mostly because i miscounted the amount of parts that this has lol (i can't even count anymore)
1 7 d a y s b e f o r e
they pick up the rest of the gang from the airport that afternoon. seungyoun rents out a giant car, a big range rover, anticipating the endless suitcases that wooseok would bring with him.
and hangyul seems a little quiet that day. seungyoun wants to ask what’s wrong, but hangyul seems fine enough that nothing really is the matter, he’s probably just tired, or sick of seungyoun and sick of pretending to be boyfriends. seungyoun really hopes it isn’t the latter.
‘you got up early this morning,’ seungyoun had said during the car ride.
hangyul had peeled himself off of seungyoun that morning and quietly headed downstairs to the lounge area, and then come back up with two cups of steaming coffee.
‘bumped into your mom.’ hangyul said with a smile. ‘she’s really nice.’
then there was a little silence that was punctuated by the GPS giving directions. seungyoun had smiled; it was always a comfortable silence with hangyul, and he had turned to look at the younger man from the corner of his eye when he noticed the corners of his mouth turning down slightly.
they wait at the arrivals for quite a while. seungyoun and hangyul both had their phones out, mimicking the taxi drivers around them with names written on their cards, except seungyoun’s phone flashes asshole and angel and hangyul’s reads hyung-nim and dumber.
‘their plane just landed,’ seungyoun points out and hangyul squints at the information board.
‘yeah,’ hangyul says, and his mouth twitches down into a frown before falling back into his blank face.
‘hey,’ seungyoun says, ‘you okay?’
‘i’m not doing anything wrong, right?’ hangyul suddenly asks.
‘erm,’ seungyoun says questioningly. ‘no?’
seungyoun isn’t really sure what hangyul could be doing wrong. he’s playing the perfect role of boyfriend to pretty much everyone, and seungyoun’s mom could not be more in love. there had been an instance with the bouquets whilst they were in the spirited garden and hangyul had taken the phone from seungyoun and talked seungyoun’s mom out of storming the flower shop the next morning once he had realised how seungyoun was probably on her side (which, in hindsight, would have resulted in disaster). hangyul’s skinship is the perfect amount, he’s complimentary enough so the other people they’ve bumped into don’t seem totally confused at their banter, and he even brought clothing items that match what seungyoun packed.
really, the only problem was that this whole thing is fake.
‘you’re perfect,’ seungyoun adds hurriedly, and hangyul frowns.
‘really.’ hangyul says. ‘i’m not fucking things up somehow?’
‘no? why would you be?’
hangyul’s mouth flattens into a thin line. ‘because you haven’t-’
and then he flushes pretty hard and looks away to the other side. he lets his head roll back and turns to seungyoun to look him in the eye.
‘YAH, LEE HANGYUL, HOW COULD YOU CALL ME DUMBER, ’ yohan shouts as he hobbles up towards the two, managing to walk only slightly faster than the rest of the men.
‘i guess they’ve arrived,’ hangyul says wryly, his attention snapping to yohan. ‘do you think i’ve pissed him off?’
‘maybe a little,’ seungyoun says. ‘what haven’t i done?’
‘don’t worry about it. it’s not that big a deal.’ hangyul says. they see the others all walking up to them relatively quickly, with seungwoo pushing a trolley filled with a (surprisingly) manageable amount of suitcases.
seungyoun waves as embarrassingly as he can and hangyul decides to just mime moving behind a wall with his phone in front.
jinhyuk is the only one that laughs. jinhyuk might be seungyoun’s new favourite.
‘hi hyung,’ yohan says to seungyoun first, and then he bursts into ‘HOW COULD YOU CALL ME DUMBER WHEN YOU THOUGHT THAT DRINK TASTED GOOD LAST WEEK!’
‘it was good,’ hangyul says in retaliation. ‘i liked the vinegary taste.’
‘IT WAS FIVE MONTHS OUT OF DATE, ’ yohan screeches and hangyul shrugs.
‘surely you’re the dumber one for keeping it that long?’
and seungwoo takes advantage of yohan’s dumbfounded silence to shush the younger man, before pulling seungyoun and hangyul into a joint hug.
‘hey,’ wooseok says and the two both nod at him and jinhyuk from their bear hug.
‘hey boyfriends,’ jinhyuk says with a shit-eating grin.
jinhyuk is no longer seungyoun’s favourite.
‘that’s us,’ seungyoun says faux-cheerily. ‘boyfriends, being suffocated by seungwoo-hyung.’
‘bury us in the same grave.’ hangyul says dryly and seungwoo apologises profusely as he lets the two of them go.
‘let’s go to the car,’ wooseok says. ‘i need a shower.’
the rest of that day is mostly just chilling and catching up with each other.
seungwoo had insisted on video-calling dongpyo once they were in the hotel, and calling dongpyo also meant that the rest of the kids were around as well; eunsang, minhee and hyeongjun were practically bouncing off the walls when talking to hangyul and yohan was more heart-eyed at the sight of junho than seungyoun had previously remembered.
‘ah, hyung,’ dongpyo had lisped cutely. ‘i wish we could’ve come.’
‘i know,’ seungyoun replied. ‘but you have a busy schedule.’
‘what time are you all waking up tomorrow?’ hangyul had asked, and he immediately started barking GO DO YOUR WORK SO YOU CAN SLEEP EARLY at them when they had hesitantly answered six am.
‘and call dohyon,’ hangyul had added. ‘he misses you all.’
eunsang had also talked to seungyoun a little bit more about a potential feature whilst minhee oohed and ahh-ed in the background. seungwoo reluctantly ends the call after five more minutes, and he just stares at his dark phone screen with a fatherly gaze.
‘those kids, huh,’ seungwoo says with a bright grin and seungyoun’s smile turns sharp.
‘junho is looking pretty good these days, right yohan?’
and yohan splutters out a vague response before whacking hangyul’s arm several times.
‘control your boyfriend!’ yohan pleads.
‘i like him wild,’ hangyul says, winking at seungyoun. wooseok wolf-whistles and seungyoun sends a scowl at the man in response. heart-fluttering is a dumb description , seungyoun thinks, it’s more like he just had a heart attack.
there’s a clicking of heels that echo across the marble floor of the lounge and the group immediately quietens out of fear that they’re going to be scolded for being too loud; it’s happened before at swankier events, and it’ll probably keep happening to them- they’re just lucky that they only manage to do a full meet-up of all twenty-ish people around two times a year.
‘oh,’ hangyul says. he sits up from his chair and waves at the woman in the heels and seungyoun gapes as a stunningly beautiful woman comes into view.
‘hangyul-ah,’ she says. even her voice is melodic.
‘hyewon-ah,’ he replies, and he leaves their group for a bit to go talk to her privately. seungyoun watches the younger man go, and the rest of the group pick up their previous conversation- if seungyoun pays attention, wooseok unrelentingly drops references to junho to make yohan squirm.
but instead, he just watches hangyul and hyewon talking to each other animatedly. they’re a striking pair, with her doll-like looks and his clear-cut features, and they’re evidently comfortable with each other; seungyoun can see that hangyul’s using banmal with her. he’s getting a little annoyed at hyewon for no real reason, other than her being younger and prettier and-
wooseok snaps his fingers in front of seungyoun’s face.
‘stay with us,’ wooseok says.
‘am i jealous?’ seungyoun asks.
‘yes.’ wooseok answers immediately. ‘but that doesn’t give you permission to zone out like that. also, you’re getting kind of obvious and hyewon-ssi is going to notice.’
there’s silence on seungyoun’s end and wooseok rolls his eyes.
‘she’s dating miyawaki sakura,’ he adds, and seungyoun finally relaxes, practically prising his fingers off the chair and carding them through his hair. he meets wooseok’s knowing gaze and his heart stutters to a stop.
‘oh god,’ he says with a tone of impending doom. ‘i really like hangyul.’
‘congratulations for being perhaps the last person in this world to realise,’ wooseok says in a flat tone. seungyoun looks over at the two talking and feels his chest seize up with jealousy again.
‘i mean,’ yohan says quietly, even a little confusedly, ‘you did ask him here as your plus one.’
and hangyul calls out a ‘sorry,’ as he jogs back to the group. hyewon’s leaving in the other direction, probably going up the stairs towards her own room, and seungyoun decides to train his eyes on hangyul instead. ‘old friend. she was telling me about a bonfire that they’re going to have this evening.’
‘oh?’ jinhyuk says. ‘that sounds like it could be fun.’
‘i’m gonna stink of smoke.’ wooseok says and jinhyuk stifles his amused laugh into wooseok’s hair. seungyoun stares at the two of them, who are basically curled up around each other in the loveseat. jinhyuk mumbles something into wooseok’s hair that makes the man go languid and his eyes half-lidded and seungyoun rolls his eyes.
‘i’m in.’ wooseok says.
‘gross.’ hangyul shoots back with a boyish smile. ‘it’s at this restaurant nearby, apparently they’ve booked the whole place up for everyone for the night, starting at around seven thirty.’
‘that sounds good,’ seungwoo says. ‘i’m guessing we don’t have much time to get ready and we’re all probably dying for a shower and to unpack a bit, so let’s meet back here at around seven?’
and there’s general agreement amongst everyone, so they all groan as they get up (seungyoun ignores the flickers of jealousy as hangyul pulls yohan up into a hug) and head up to their rooms. seungyoun’s just about ready to start going when hangyul’s arms wrap around seungyoun’s waist as he pulls the older man into a back-hug.
‘do you have any spare socks?’ hangyul asks and seungyoun shudders at hangyul’s lips ghosting at his ear lobe. he’s also aware that hangyul is probably on his tip-toes and he can’t help the fond smile that breaks out over his face- thank god that hangyul can’t see his expression.
‘i have socks that have avocados on them, and i have socks that have a shiba inu flipping everyone off,’ seungyoun answers.
‘i’d like the shiba inus,’ hangyul says. ‘i like their attitude.’
‘sure,’ seungyoun says. they head back to their room, and hangyul’s hand doesn’t leave seungyoun’s waist at any point until he has to extract the keycard from his back pocket.
seungyoun finds that he doesn’t mind; he even misses the hot touch of hangyul’s hand.
the bonfire itself is beautiful.
it’s that kind of night where the only way to describe it would be crisp- not quite cold, partly because of the fire licking at the logs and snapping every so often. the air smells of smoke, for sure, but also of all the food lined up tables buffet-style. there’s a lot of people there; the wedding rehearsal is happening the next day, so pretty much everyone is there. seungyoun squints and sees hyewon is indeed holding hands with another equally pretty girl, and he does feel a lot better.
he spots hangyul sitting with yohan by the bonfire, happily following along with yohan’s various drinking chants that the taekwondo player learnt during university. the younger man takes a swig from his bottle of beer and pulls a face at the taste, and seungyoun has an overwhelming sense of fondness; hangyul has a notoriously low drinking capability, so the blond tries to stick to weaker alcohol whenever possible. seungyoun himself has had a few shots of soju and a bottle of beer to himself, so he’s pleasantly tipsy. he doesn’t really want to overdo the drinking, seeing as the rehearsal is tomorrow, and he’d rather not fuck it up.
someone brings hangyul a cup of ramen from the buffet and the younger man takes it gratefully, looking up at them with shining eyes. seungyoun realises a second later that he’s striding towards hangyul with purposeful steps.
‘hey,’ he says, practically wrapping himself around the shorter man in half a back hug.
‘hi,’ hangyul says in return, a little surprised. ‘are you hungry?’
‘no, i already ate my body weight in soup back there.’ seungyoun replies.
‘but it’s shin ramyeon,’ hangyul pouts, and seungyoun snorts.
‘that’s too spicy, right?’ he asks softly and hangyul nods.
‘poor baby,’ seungyoun croons into hangyul’s ear. ‘what if i put some cheese on it for you?’
‘s-sure,’ hangyul says. ‘if you think that’ll help.’
and seungyoun takes hangyul’s cup of noodles and slinks off towards the food, turning around and smiling at the blushing boy. he finds himself back at the buffet tables where wooseok is staring at him with a catlike grin.
‘you’re gonna kill him by the end of the night if you keep flirting with him.’ wooseok says and seungyoun shrugs.
‘am i flirting?’ he asks. wooseok smacks the back of seungyoun’s head lightly with a scoff and seungyoun yelps at the contact.
‘don’t act dumb,’ wooseok says.
‘fine,’ seungyoun says. ‘i’m flirting. but he’s not really flirting back-’
and wooseok chokes on the sip of soju that he’s taking at the moment.
‘-so it isn’t as if anything’s going to happen.’
‘he isn’t flirting back?’ wooseok repeats incredulously. ‘you know what. i’m too sober for this conversation.’
‘aren’t you basically on your third bottle of soju now?’
‘yes, and i’m still too sober for this conversation.’
‘alright,’ seungyoun says. ‘do you know where the cheese is?’
wooseok points and seungyoun drops two slices of cheese into hangyul’s cup of noodles and stirs them in, before placing a third slice on top.
‘whipped.’ wooseok sing-songs, and seungyoun rolls his eyes. he’s about to head back to hangyul when wooseok grabs seungyoun’s arm.
‘have some faith in yourself.’
hangyul wraps his hand back around seungyoun’s waist and practically pulls the older man onto his lap whilst he eats his cup of noodles as his way of saying thank you, and seungyoun tries to not melt into the younger man’s touch.
but his thighs really are very comfortable, so no-one can blame seungyoun for being quite relaxed.
‘your ass is bony,’ hangyul says into seungyoun’s ear at some point in the night.
‘you wish,’ hangyul slurs.
you don’t even know, hangyul-ah, seungyoun thinks.
getting back to the hotel is a little difficult.
jinhyuk had been designated driver, but really only the two 99 liners were difficult to wrangle; wooseok and seungwoo always seemed sober no matter how much they drank, and seungyoun had controlled himself since he was playing several key parts in the wedding rehearsal tomorrow, and he wanted to get through it smoothly with zero problems caused by his own self-imposed hangover. hangyul and yohan were just cursed with low alcohol tolerance, which mainly resulted in the two being giggly messes communicating in glares, laughter, inside jokes and half-finished sentences. how they understood each other, seungyoun has no idea, but he supposes it’s a little bit how he and wooseok barely need to talk to get what the other person is trying to say.
and they had made it to the top of the stairs where the three pairs needed to branch off; yohan had followed seungwoo easily, and jinhyuk and wooseok left pretty quickly.
‘let’s go back, then,’ seungyoun says and hangyul slowly lets out a sigh.
‘what time do we need to wake up?’ he asks, almost with dread.
‘about ten,’ seungyoun says. ‘that’s nine whole hours if you’re asleep within thirty minutes.’
‘too many numbers,’ hangyul mumbles as seungyoun opens the door. he shuffles inside and seungyoun closes the door, turns around and squeaks before turning back around.
because hangyul was just shucking off his t-shirt and undoing his belt whilst absent-mindedly walking towards the bed.
‘my clothes smell like smoke again,’ hangyul says sadly. he dives onto the bed and pushes himself towards the edge where his suitcase lies and he begins rummaging through his clothes to find his pyjamas. luckily, the two had decided to hang their clothes for the rehearsal up on the wardrobe earlier so that they didn’t need to try to find all the components in their freshly-awoken daze.
seungyoun just watches the muscles in hangyul’s back shift, and how his two tattoos move accordingly. he finds hangyul’s tattoos much more interesting than his own; the fact that hangyul’s were almost always hidden by clothes makes seeing them so much more alluring than seungyoun’s own tattoos, many of which were somewhat visible.
‘you should probably shower in the morning then,’ seungyoun replies after a beat too long of silence.
‘you’re so smart,’ hangyul says in awe.
‘and you should get tipsy more often, if you’re going to compliment me.’ seungyoun says jokingly, but hangyul rolls over, lying spread-eagle and shirtless on the bed. seungyoun tries to not look at how the younger man could be offering himself up to look at, and could be offering himself up for seungyoun to pounce on and-
‘am i mean?’ hangyul asks sadly. ‘like, i know i’m an okay person. but am i too mean to you? is that why-’ and then he cuts himself off.
and again, there’s a beat of silence as seungyoun’s brain catches up from just ogling the blond. there’s a silence as hangyul wrestles with something , and it’s the same something that seungyoun suspects he’s been worried about for the past two days now.
‘erm,’ seungyoun says. ‘no? i like the way we talk to each other.’
‘you wouldn’t prefer it if i was super nice to you instead?’
‘i think that would be weird.’
‘okay,’ hangyul says. he does sound a little happier, albeit no less confused. he sits up and wrinkles his nose. ‘i might take that shower now.’
‘okay,’ seungyoun says. ‘you’ll be okay for it?’
‘yeah, i might take a bath after as well. i smell really strongly of smoke.’ hangyul shrugs. ‘but you still smell so nice.’
‘i didn’t sit near the fire, idiot.’
‘you sat on my lap though.’
‘not for that long.’
‘you could’ve sat for longer, i have very comfortable thighs.’
seungyoun flounders for a response and hangyul smirks.
‘yohan’s thighs are better,’ seungyoun offers weakly and hangyul scoffs.
‘as if,’ hangyul says and he bounces off the bed and towards the bathroom. he pauses before he goes into the bathroom and he looks at seungyoun hesitantly and asks, ‘are you going straight to bed?’
‘probably.’ seungyoun says. ‘i’m pretty tired, i think, so i might actually be asleep by the time you finish your bath.’
‘i might fall asleep there ,’ hangyul says in defeat, before he shrugs and goes into the bathroom.
seungyoun quickly changes into his pyjamas and resolutely ignores the sound of water running only a few metres away from him.
this whole trip has been enlightening, for sure. seungyoun wasn’t dumb, he could recognise the signs of a crush; his irrational jealousy, his overwhelming attraction, his heart constantly skipping along at every single joke and wink hangyul directed at him (and there were many ). and his sudden moment of clarity earlier, whilst he was in the midst of glaring at hyewon… it leads him to even tentatively call it a crush.
but hangyul was here as a favour. he was doing this because seungyoun had told him that he would pay the younger man, not because he actually likes seungyoun. (and the older man bitterly thinks that he can’t even think that hangyul would like him back, seeing as how he was suddenly frozen out).
and seungyoun kind of wishes that he had just asked the younger out like wooseok had told him. that way, he could’ve told his mom that he was turned down, and could’ve come to this wedding...alone, yes, but alone is infinitely better than realising you’re pining for someone you already supposedly have.
selfishly, he thinks that he could never tell his family that the two of them have broken up. but that just wouldn’t be fair to hangyul.
he lets out a sigh as he crawls into bed. there’s no point in attempting to do any work, and he wants to look relatively well-rested for the next day.
he’s proud of yena, for sure, but he’s a little jealous that she’s getting married to the love of her life whilst his is within reach, but not quite close enough. at least the rehearsal would give him time to get over it and prepare himself for the probable waterworks of the day after.
the bathroom door opens and seungyoun shuts his eyes and evens out his breathing. he’s not really sure he could handle a conversation with hangyul at the moment.
but hangyul is quietly padding around the room, evidently under the assumption that seungyoun is asleep. seungyoun can just about hear the rustle of hangyul going through his luggage looking for something, and then setting things down on his bedside table.
then there’s a sharp intake of breath and seungyoun resists the urge to react when he hears hangyul slowly let it out, before feeling the sheets around him shift.
‘sorry,’ hangyul whispers as he slides in. they assume different sleeping positions to before- seungyoun’s flat on his back again, but he can practically feel hangyul thinking before he slowly turns onto his side.
but he can’t sleep comfortably on his side, seungyoun thinks.
there’s a horrific moment of clarity when seungyoun realises that he’s basically begging hangyul to cuddle with him in his mind, when the younger man clearly regretted waking up in that position. so he fights back whatever tears are threatening to come up and instead lets his head gently loll to the side facing away from hangyul.
‘oh,’ he hears quietly. then silence.
seungyoun falls asleep ten minutes later.
he wakes up at around seven again, and finds that he’s wrapped himself around hangyul like a koala, spooning him akin to how a lover would; his arms are gently resting around the younger man’s surprisingly small waist, caressing the beginnings of the two parallel lines of muscle creating that V shape on his pelvis, and his face is buried in the mop of blond hair. it’s soft and smells slightly of smoke, but also of the strong smell of hangyul- just a clean and fresh smell.
and his heart hurts, but he gently unravels himself from hangyul and goes back to sleep, a little colder than before.
1 6 d a y s b e f o r e
the rehearsal goes smoothly.
everyone stands when they’re meant to stand and gets up when they’re meant to get up. there’s a slight issue with spacing the seats out that manages to get sorted out, and the food samples that they hand out are bland, so hangyul goes back to the kitchen to give them all a piece of his mind.
‘husband material,’ his mom had whispered to him and seungyoun had given a pained smile in response.
so the dinner was also successful; they just wanted to sort out seating and the order of food whilst they were at it, so it was a quick and painless affair. yena and yujin were trying to avoid looking at each other to honour the tradition of avoiding seeing the bride the day before, which had led to some pretty hilarious situations including yena whipping out a blindfold whenever she heard yujin’s laugh. seungyoun had nearly had a heart attack at the sight of hangyul taking out her blindfold whilst raising his eyebrows at seungyoun teasingly, before realised it was for yena once hangyul had spotted yujin, who was almost within yena’s eyeline.
and once the seats were sorted out, a lot of the guests were free to go; seungwoo had led the gang out to the spirited gardens at the recommendation of seungyoun, but seungyoun had to stay behind to help with the more intricate details.
‘you should go,’ seungyoun tells hangyul. they’re just roaming around the hall, checking the decorations. the latter shrugs.
‘i’ve already been. and you’re here.’
‘you don’t need to flatter me,’ seungyoun says off-handedly as he catches the eye of his ridiculously handsome CEO. hangyul mutters something under his breath, but seungyoun whacks his arm surreptitiously as he loudly whispers, ‘my boss is coming!’.
‘oh shit, it’s mr lee,’ hangyul mumbles, starstruck.
and lee dongwook does have that effect on people with his face alone, so seungyoun kind of gets it, but he does look at hangyul in alarm. the blond very rarely demonstrates genuine awe at someone’s looks, and seungyoun can feel jealousy licking at his stomach again.
and he’s not even a particularly jealous person.
‘seungyoun,’ lee dongwook says in a greeting, and he turns to hangyul and smiles politely. ‘and you must be the famous lee hangyul?’
‘yes,’ hangyul says. ‘hello.’
‘are you here together?’ dongwook inquires politely.
‘yes,’ seungyoun says quickly. ‘he’s my boyfriend.’
he feels hangyul stiffen in surprise but he doesn’t see it- the younger man’s face shows pure happiness instead of the shock that seungyoun can feel from his arm alone. dongwook should take acting lessons from hangyul , seungyoun thinks bitterly.
‘i should be expecting a happy album next, then?’ dongwook says amusedly. ‘that’ll be nice.’
‘maybe the album after,’ hangyul says in an unsure tone. ‘i’ve been listening to some of the stuff that seungyounie is producing at the moment and they’re pretty deep. probably too deep for uh. us. we’ve not been dating long. just over a month now.’
‘oh,’ dongwook says. ‘i would have assumed longer, just from the way you two act around each other.’
‘no,’ hangyul says laughingly. seungyoun watches the two talk like it’s a table tennis match. ‘i’m surprised seungyounie even asked me out, we fight so much.’
‘i was actually wondering about how you two first met.’ dongwook admits. ‘i had no idea that you two knew each other and then suddenly about a year ago, it was hangyulie this, and hangyulie that. you must have made an impression.
‘only because i looked like his hyung, probably,’ hangyul says with a defeated smile, and the three of them laugh.
‘i did think that,’ seungyoun admits. ‘or we would at least be the same age, but he’s three years younger than me.’
and seungyoun thinks, crisis averted . because he vaguely remembers his first meeting with hangyul- it had been about work, he knows that much, but otherwise it would have been a very short story.
lee dongwook stared at the two, waiting, and seungyoun feels panic rise up in the back of his throat. he’s about to just quickly say that they met at work when he sees hangyul let out a huff of laughter.
‘the first time we properly met was for work,’ hangyul says, and seungyoun nods. but hangyul keeps going. ‘it was for seungyoun’s comeback, his third one, and he had told jinhyuk-hyung that he wanted to work with the person who choreographed seungwoo’s recent songs. so we planned a meeting and i got there a little bit early, so i was just waiting in one of the meeting rooms in the yuehua building when seungyounie walks in, looks at me and then walks back out.’
seungyoun remembers this. he had walked into a meeting room and saw the younger man sitting cross-legged in a chair with a cap covering his face, and almost immediately walked back out under the assumption that he was in the wrong place. then seungwoo had directed him back into that room where hangyul had smiled knowingly as he took his hat off and introduced himself, and then they had begun to work on the choreography for seungyoun’s comeback.
a fairly boring meeting.
‘you said the first time you properly met?’ dongwook says questioningly. seungyoun frowns, because he doesn’t really remember anything before that, but hangyul smiles again.
‘he came into my dance studio to watch seungwoo practice,’ hangyul explains. ‘three days in a row. we never actually talked, but he would smile at me whenever we caught each other’s eye and he made a joke about me being good-looking. and he bought everyone food every time he came in. i think the album was coming out the next week, and seungyounie has this way of making everyone feel relaxed and happy, just by existing, really- he’s always livening up the mood. so i jumped at the chance to work with him and we met properly.’
‘what,’ seungyoun breathes out, and he watches in shock as hangyul’s eyes go from fond to a little shy and vulnerable. dongwook coos appropriately and seungyoun can only flush at the picture that hangyul’s painted; he’s made himself seem...infatuated, for lack of a better word, and made seungyoun seem like a cool sunbae, which is more than he deserves. he can just about remember this time, mostly seungwoo’s stress levels being through the roof. and maybe he can recall a younger hangyul, slightly quieter with brown hair, murmuring to seungwoo to keep pressure off his knee and leading all of the dancers in the choreography.
‘i never knew seungyoun-ssi had a soft side,’ dongwook says in pure delight.
‘neither did i,’ seungyoun says quietly and hangyul shrugs.
‘well,’ dongwook says. ‘i’ll leave you two to do your jobs. i’m looking forward to the wedding tomorrow, it’s going to be beautiful.’
‘thank you,’ seungyoun says demurely. the older man leaves and both of the men let out a long breath they didn’t know they were holding.
‘he’s ridiculously handsome,’ hangyul says at the same time as seungyoun saying, ‘what did i say to you when we actually first met?’
‘what?’ hangyul asks.
‘you said i made a joke to you,’ seungyoun says curiously. ‘do you remember what i said?’
‘yes,’ hangyul says slowly. seungyoun makes a little whining sound and hangyul raises an eyebrow.
‘you looked at me and said i call dibs on this one .’
‘it was funny,’ hangyul says reassuringly. he looks a little flushed though, and seungyoun pretends not to watch as hangyul inspects the brick wall of the venue.
‘well,’ seungyoun says. ‘you’re here now.’
‘i’m here now,’ hangyul repeats.
seungyoun’s going through the dj’s playlist when yena sidles up to him.
‘mom’s talking to hangyul,’ she warns him. ‘she’s probably asking him to lock you down quick.’
‘he has me,’ seungyoun says off-handedly. ‘yena, do you really want your song on the playlist? the dj has this as your first dance with yujinie, and i don’t really see how la vie en rose is a romantic song-’
‘-it’s the louis armstrong one, idiot,’ yena says, and seungyoun pauses and makes an exaggerated face of realisation. yena giggles at the expression before she looks around the venue.
‘you’re getting married tomorrow,’ seungyoun says quietly and yena nods.
‘any advice?’ yena asks and seungyoun arches an eyebrow.
‘you say that like i have marriage tips.’ seungyoun says. ‘i’m single as a pringle.’
‘hangyul is literally talking to mom right now,’ yena says. seungyoun curses himself for slipping up. ‘you’re not- you’re not worried about me?’
‘yujinie loves you, and you clearly love her. why would i be worried?’
‘i’m not too young?’
‘maybe, maybe not. but it feels right for the two of you.’
‘and you’re not jealous that i’m getting married first?’ yena asks teasingly and seungyoun scowls.
‘yah,’ he says. ‘and no. like i said- it’s right for the two of you.’
‘are you worried?’ seungyoun asks and yena purses her lips in consideration.
‘i guess i’m only worried that people think we’re rushing into things, or that it’s still only puppy love and that we should wait. i’m not worried about the actual wedding.’
‘then it’s fine,’ seungyoun says. ‘fuck them. it’s going to be amazing.’
‘i know,’ yena says and she smiles widely at seungyoun. ‘you gonna cry when you walk me down the aisle?’
‘you know it,’ seungyoun says, and the two shoot finger-guns at each other.
‘i’m looking forward to when i get to return the favour,’ yena adds. seungyoun looks at yena blankly.
‘you know, when you and hangyul…’ and then yena trails off questioningly, and seungyoun fills in the blanks in his mind.
‘oh,’ seungyoun says. ‘OH. you- you might have to. er. wait a while.’
‘of course,’ yena says brightly, ‘but i have a good feeling about you two! there’s only so often i can hear hangyul talk wistfully about you, you know, and i don’t even see him that often.’
then someone calls yena away and she leaves seungyoun with just his thoughts.
i have a good feeling about you two echoes around seungyoun’s mind. it’s a compliment that’s bittersweet as fuck, and leaves a sour taste in seungyoun’s mouth.
and he realises that asking hangyul to do this was a big mistake. he’s letting his own feelings cloud the way that his family perceive the two of them, seeing them as going steady and madly in love rather than the ‘tentatively new’ that seungyoun was going for. and he knows that in the month leading up to the wedding, he never actually went through what he wanted hangyul to act like (mostly because the topic of fake dating was embarrassing to bring up) and now that the younger man was every inch the doting boyfriend...it makes seungyoun worried.
there’s no way that he could simply mention that the two of them had broken up, if it’s so clear that seungyoun actually likes hangyul, and hangyul’s acting is surprisingly phenomenal. hell, even bringing hangyul to the wedding implies a sense of longevity, something that would’ve been fine if seungyoun really had asked hangyul out maybe a year ago.
but a month?
it’s given everyone the wrong impression.
seungyoun can feel himself spiralling into worry and he manages to spot hangyul talking sweetly to his mom; they look serious, and seungyoun nearly despairs when hangyul breaks out again into that soft toothy grin. it pushes him more towards the precipice of falling from a crush and into love.
and there’s something wrong with hangyul too, when his mom declares everything ready for the next day and dismisses everyone to go rest up.
seungyoun’s standing next to hangyul and he subconsciously rests his hand on the younger’s man’s hip, and hangyul flinches slightly at the touch. seungyoun frowns and takes his hand off, and when hangyul would normally protest, he just lets it happen.
‘do you want to do something?’ seungyoun asks into hangyul’s ear and hangyul shrugs.
‘the others are still out,’ hangyul points out, and seungyoun admonishes himself for thinking that hangyul would want to spend more time alone with him than necessary.
‘okay,’ seungyoun says. ‘should we just go upstairs then? we can order room service later.’
‘that sounds nice,’ hangyul says. and he turns around so that he’s almost flush against seungyoun and he peers into seungyoun’s eyes.
‘you okay?’ he asks.
‘i’m fine,’ seungyoun says. ‘are you?’
and hangyul’s jaw clenches for a second before he answers, ‘i’m great.’
seungyoun can tell by the line of hangyul’s downturned mouth that he’s nervous, and the younger man is practically bouncing up and down on his heels where he stands. seungyoun can’t help but think of an energetic puppy.
‘okay,’ seungyoun says slowly. ‘let’s go then.’
once they get back into the room, seungyoun changes into his pyjamas- plaid flannel pyjama bottoms and his soft white t-shirt. maybe it's too cold and too early, but he’s only really thinking about comfort at this point; most of the next day will be spent in his form-fitting suit, so this is his way of balancing that out.
hangyul doesn’t change though, instead just standing on his side of the bed awkwardly shifting his weight from his left foot to his right. he almost looks like he’s running through choreography in his head, and seungyoun knows that it’s a habit of the younger man’s, but only when he was particularly worried about something.
‘relax,’ seungyoun says, and hangyul startles like a scared rabbit.
‘i’m relaxed,’ hangyul says. he quickly looks seungyoun up and down, appraising the outfit change, and his own hands hover around his buttons; the top four are already undone, so that his necklace sits against golden skin and in-between those impossibly defined collarbones, and seungyoun swallows.
‘can’t believe you’re in pyjamas already, hyung,’ hangyul jokes weakly, and seungyoun rolls his eyes.
‘i’m old, i want to be comfortable,’ seungyoun says, but he furrows his brows slightly at the use of honorific. ‘do you want to talk about why you’re so tense?’
‘i’m that obvious, huh,’ hangyul says.
‘a little,’ seungyoun says with a gentle smile. he sits down on the bed and hangyul walks around to the foot of it, his steps tentative.
‘i guess i’m just worried that i’m doing something wrong still,’ hangyul admits. ‘like, i’m walking around talking to people in your family and in your company and i’m not sure that what i’m saying is actually good, or paints you in a good light.’
‘unless you’ve been going around talking shit about me, i think it’s fine,’ seungyoun says.
‘i suppose.’ hangyul says. ‘but still. i think especially because we’re. you know.’ and hangyul does a complicated hand gesture that points to the two of them and somehow conveys a general feeling of ?????? and seungyoun gets it. their typical banter is a little confusing to the people who know them well, let alone to strangers (to hangyul, at least). and when adding in the fact that hangyul probably dislikes seungyoun but is acting in love, and is continuing on the friendly rapport from a year ago...it must be difficult for the younger man.
‘you’re doing a great job for. uh. what we are.’ seungyoun says. he hides the bitterness from his tone with a bright smile.
‘because we’re…’ hangyul says, trailing off, and seungyoun lets it hang. he knows hangyul is probably waiting for a definition, for confirmation of some kind of mutual friendzoning, but seungyoun can’t really bring himself to box themselves into that, no matter how much he knows hangyul is probably desperate to hear it.
‘exactly.’ seungyoun says instead. and hangyul nods to himself.
‘you know,’ he says, fake off-handedly but with a clearly pre-rehearsed sentence, ‘i did think that being invited to a family wedding was a bit of an intense first date. but now i see that it’s just an economical way of getting in about a month’s worth.’
and seungyoun tries to figure out what he wants to reply with, but his brain halts to a stop as he watches hangyul brace his shoulders and saunter towards him with the air of a predator hunting its prey.
‘i suppose so,’ seungyoun manages to say, and wow, his throat is dry.
and hangyul’s knees are flush against seungyoun’s, except hangyul nudges forward and seungyoun’s legs fall apart ever so slightly because he is weak for this man. hangyul tentatively steps forward into seungyoun’s space. his arms- previously glued to his sides- slowly go up to link around seungyoun’s neck.
seungyoun lets in a sharp inhale.
‘so why haven’t you haven’t kissed me yet?’ hangyul asks, and seungyoun’s world turns upside down.
‘yet?’ seungyoun repeats. it’s just one word, one word that makes the sentence go from everything he’s wanted to hear to confusing. his hands decide to ground him by resting on the sides of hangyul’s hips, and hangyul leans into the touch.
‘yet,’ hangyul confirms quietly. his gaze, given their position, should probably be seductive but instead it’s unsure and pleading, and hangyul’s voice cracks a little.
‘no-one’s watching,’ seungyoun says confusedly. there’s no need to put on a show , he thinks, because no one will know if we kiss.
‘well,’ hangyul says, ‘i’m not really an exhibitionist.’
and seungyoun just stares at hangyul. the younger man seems to be waiting for seungyoun’s next move, as if he can see the cogs turning in seungyoun’s mind.
as far as seungyoun knows, hangyul is just a friend, nothing more and nothing less; the fact that they’re fake dating means that hangyul must feel the need to kiss seungyoun, and that makes something twist in seungyoun’s gut, at the idea of hangyul being nervous because he’s assumed this whole time that he has to kiss seungyoun.
‘oh,’ seungyoun says at this moment of clarity, ‘oh, no, hangyul, you don’t have to do this-’
‘i don’t have to do anything,’ hangyul says indignantly, but his hands unlink from behind seungyoun’s neck. he goes to take a step back but seungyoun, in a panic, tightens his grip on hangyul’s hips, keeping the younger boy there. it’s important to him that hangyul doesn’t go, doesn’t disappear anywhere.
‘i don’t understand,’ hangyul says, and his tongue darts out to wet his bottom lip (it’s so full and pink and seungyoun wishes, wishes that he was just a little bit more of an asshole to seize whatever hangyul thinks he has to offer), ‘did i misread your signals? it’s been over a month and i just thought that this- i mean, this was the beginning of us, and karaoke night-’
‘oh, god, no, hangyul-ah, this isn’t,’ seungyoun interrupts, not really listening, and he has to swallow again, ‘this isn’t a favour i need, yeah? you’re already doing so much for me, you don’t have to do this, i know-’
‘what do you mean a favour ,’ hangyul says, slowly recoiling from seungyoun’s touch. seungyoun knows to let go now, to let hangyul slip through his fingers.
‘hangyul-ah, you don’t have to kiss me just because i’m paying you,’ seungyoun says firmly, and hangyul’s face crumples even more in confusion.
‘you’re paying me? for what?’
‘for this, hangyulie,’ seungyoun says, voice getting high and reedy, and he’s getting more and more confused because why why why why why why whywhywywhywhwywhyhwy
‘i’m confused,’ hangyul says thickly, ‘i’m so fucking confused-’
‘you’re here as my plus one as a favour to me,’ seungyoun says slowly, ‘my mom thought i was dating you so i invited you here, you said yes because i was paying you, we’re fake-dating, hangyul-ah, i don’t understand why you’ve forgotten-’
and hangyul bolts out of seungyoun’s open legs, stumbling a little over his own feet and he heads backwards for the door.
‘ha,’ hangyul says a little maniacally, ‘of course. absolutely. i was just- i was just playing a joke on you.’
and seungyoun’s brain finally catches up with his mouth, and he closes his eyes and opens them again to see hangyul’s eyes shining with unshed tears. he still has no fucking idea what happened that karaoke night for hangyul to still be hung up on it, but if it’s made him cut off their friendship then he can assume it was something uncomfortable, maybe something a little too forward that hangyul’s just carried in his heart this whole time.
‘hangyul-ah,’ seungyoun says softly. ‘if i said anything that karaoke night that gave you the wrong impression, i’m really sorry. i was drunk and i probably didn’t mean it-’
‘please-’ hangyul says quietly. ‘please, stop.’
then seungyoun looks at hangyul, really looks at him; he was expecting hangyul to relax at the realisation that seungyoun didn’t expect more from him, which in itself is a kind of shitty thought- he wouldn’t really think hangyul would think that seungyoun would use his money to pressure him into doing something. but the younger man looks distraught, his face pale and hands shaking as his hands slide towards the door knob and he thinks, wait, wait, wait a second, why was hangyul confused, wait a fucking second-
‘hangyul,’ seungyoun says, ‘hangyul, did you think that this was real-’
and hangyul chokes on a suppressed sob, and seungyoun stands up immediately, hands flying out to comfort and stop the younger man. but hangyul instead scrabbles for the doorknob and turns it quickly.
‘i’m just gonna go,’ he says, voice wavering, slipping out the door.
and he’s gone.
Chapter 5: IV: let’s jump ahead to the moment of epiphany, / in gold light, as the camera pans to where / the action is, / lakeside and backlit, and it all falls into frame, close enough to see / the blue rings of my eyes as i say / something ugly
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
1 5 d a y s b e f o r e
seungyoun’s alarm goes off.
it isn’t as if seungyoun slept much that night, so he just leans over to the bedside table and turns his alarm off. he’s slept just enough so that he’s functioning for the day ahead, plus an extra hour so that he isn’t cranky and his dark eye circles stay away. he washes his face. brushes his teeth. does his hair. slips into his suit.
he’s ready about ten minutes later, and he swings the door open to find wooseok waiting on the other side.
‘jesus,’ wooseok says. ‘what the fuck happened?’
‘me,’ seungyoun replies succinctly.
wooseok narrows his eyes as he stares at seungyoun, who looks pristine.
‘are you doing that thing where you compartmentalise and then have a beautiful artistic breakdown?’
‘yes,’ seungyoun says.
‘is it about ha-’
‘okay,’ wooseok says with a slow nod. ‘we won’t talk about it then.’
the wedding is beautiful.
yena had opted for a late afternoon, early evening wedding, where she would exchange vows as the sun sets, so a lot of the day was spent preparing. the photographer goes around taking pictures of yena getting ready, yena with her bridesmaids, yena and seungyoun bickering, and usually yena can tell when something’s wrong with seungyoun but she doesn’t today. seungyoun doesn’t really hold it against her; she’s getting married, after all.
it’s a beach wedding, so everyone’s in relatively relaxed attire; seungyoun himself is in a linen suit, still tailored to accentuate his best assets like his broad shoulders and long legs, and sand-coloured loafers.
and he wanders around the venue where they’re holding the reception for a while, a place in-between a hotel and a cottage by the beach, his main duty really just being there to help in case of an emergency (he had already been called up for one relating to the bridesmaids having two of the hairpins arrive in the same colour).
and the kitchen is bustling as well, and if seungyoun closes his eyes, he can almost hear hangyul asking whether they were pre-seasoning their meat or not, and he decides that he’s going crazy. he knows not to go in and check; it’s just unnecessary stress on everyone.
there’s no help he can offer when it comes to helping yena get ready. her dress is beautiful and her makeup is accounted for- not that seungyoun could really help. all he’s managed to do is a shimmer highlight and some light pink eyeshadow just to mask his red-rimmed eyes. wooseok had frowned and thrust a tub of lip-tint at him- his lips were plenty red, but they were bitten and swollen from crying- before seungyoun had managed to weasel out of talking to the man properly.
so he just stands there, ignoring the texts from seungwoo coming in ( old man: where are you? are you okay? you said you were going to talk to me about everything today. don’t avoid me).
seungwoo had come into his room that previous night, having been kicked out of his room with yohan, and had immediately enveloped seungyoun in a hug.
but seungyoun didn’t cry until seungwoo had begrudgingly left, dismissed by seungyoun with a hyung, we have to sleep, we can talk about it tomorrow, i’m fine. he had choked out a is hangyul okay? and seungwoo’s face had been all the answer he needed.
he didn’t try to talk to wooseok. he could still hear the man’s warning- you’re going to break that boy’s heart - loud and clear in his mind.
but wooseok finds him now.
since there’s no excuse for seungyoun to squirrel away like he had earlier, running off to help sort out the bouquets in the reception venue and the lanterns on the beach, all he can do is let wooseok take him by the arm and lead him towards the bar of the reception venue.
‘come on,’ wooseok says. ‘it’s an open bar.’
‘it’s not open yet,’ seungyoun says, and wooseok rolls his eyes. he cracks open a bottle of whiskey and says, ‘it is now’ as he pours a half shot for seungyoun.
‘no more, because you’re going to get drunk out of your mind later tonight, courtesy of jinhyukie,’ wooseok says and seungyoun can’t even protest.
wooseok slides the shot glass to seungyoun and the latter stares at it for a while.
‘i fucked it up,’ seungyoun says miserably.
‘what happened?’ wooseok asks gently and seungyoun shrugs.
‘you were right, as usual. hangyul thought we were dating, and i just kind of…’
seungyoun nods and drinks the shot all in one. he barely notices the burning of the alcohol on the way down his throat, and wooseok’s hands worriedly twitch towards the bottle to pour another one.
‘it’s just...i couldn’t process it. he was asking why i hadn’t kissed him, and i took it as me pressuring him into it so i reacted badly. and by the time we were on the same page, i had broken his heart.’
‘fuck,’ wooseok breathes.
‘did you see him?’ seungyoun asks shakily. ‘have you seen hangyul yet-’
‘no, yohan’s pretty protective over him right now. he wouldn’t even let seungwoo-hyung into their room in case you were there.’
‘what about you though?’ wooseok asks.
‘does it even matter?’ seungyoun responds bitterly.
‘yes. i’m worried about you .’
seungyoun’s mouth twists in a mockery of a smile and wooseok rolls his eyes.
‘hangyul’s got support. you’ve purposefully cut yourself off from us all night when you’re clearly just as upset as he is. so do you want to talk about your feelings or do you want another shot beforehand?’
and seungyoun shakes his head before huffing, blowing his fringe out of his eyes.
‘i like him.’ seungyoun says. ‘i like him so much. but now i’m just confused. confused because he was down with the idea that i had asked him out and that we were boyfriends, so i guess i’m just not sure where i stand with him.’
‘he likes you,’ wooseok says simply and seungyoun shrugs.
‘maybe. but it only explains a little,’ seungyoun says. ‘i don’t understand why he was so cold to me beforehand only to suddenly be okay with being my date. i don’t know how much he likes me- this could just be a fling to him. he’s upset now, but i don’t know if he’s heartbroken because i just broke his heart, or humiliated or- or embarrassed, or something like that.’
‘oh,’ wooseok says. ‘ oh. i didn’t realise...that was an issue. because to us, it was pretty clear that you two liked each other a lot and just weren’t saying anything.’
‘clear to everyone except me.’
wooseok shrugs. ‘a little. but i see why you’re upset.’
‘sure,’ seungyoun says. ‘but if he does really like me, he definitely hates me now- is it too late for that drink?’
wooseok pours seungyoun another shot of whiskey and again, seungyoun downs it in one go.
‘it’s a fucking mess.’ wooseok says bluntly and seungyoun snorts into his empty glass.
‘yeah.’ seungyoun says. ‘and you were right, as usual.’
‘i know, but i didn’t want to say it. i guess i didn’t expect you to break your own heart as well.’
and seungyoun stares at the empty glass and thinks, neither did i.
and finally, finally, after a day that’s been too long and too short, at this very moment, the sun is setting and the string quartet is playing the wedding march and yena takes seungyoun’s arm and she whispers, ‘thank you’ as they approach the corner of the aisle.
‘you ready, duckie?’ seungyoun asks quietly and yena looks like she’s going to cry already. seungyoun doesn’t move until she nods.
the ceremony itself is a beach one. there’s an arch set up, and the aisle is really just indicated by the various flowers and lanterns that have been placed in the sand. the sky is a beautiful pink and purple, and everyone stands up, turns around, and gasps as they see yena take her first steps down the aisle.
seungyoun’s got a bright smile on his face and it’s not fake at all, because god, he’s so happy that yena is happy and in love, and he can see yujin waiting at what they’re using as their altar, her hand raised to her mouth and eyes shining with pure awe as she looks at yena, and seungyoun looks at yena’s face and sees that expression matched.
and seungyoun can’t help but sniffle a little. he looks back at the crowd and can’t help but scan them all, looking for-
and there hangyul is.
he’s nearer the front than expected. the younger man is smiling at seungyoun, but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes, and seungyoun realises with a jolt that the younger man had dyed his hair black at some point during the night.
and yohan is next to hangyul, and when seungyoun meets his eyes he just feels shame- yohan was never as good at hiding his feelings as hangyul is- because seungyoun can see him doing it now- and yohan’s managed to mask his own emotions behind a blank slate.
‘oppa,’ yena says, and seungyoun snaps out of his own misery to realise that he’s reached the end of the aisle and this is where he hands yena over to yujin.
‘ah,’ seungyoun says, and he does a comically large sniffle. everyone laughs at the gesture (and seungyoun can hear hangyul’s low-pitched chuckle, that fake one that he always hated a little because it meant his joke wasn’t funny enough) and he takes yena’s hand and puts it in yujin’s.
‘i trust you,’ seungyoun tells yujin, and the younger girl nods.
it’s weird seeing the two of them so serious. he’s so used to them laughing and bickering and joking and watching the two of them look at each other with so much love, but so much gravity and knowledge makes him crave that scalding touch of hangyul’s hands just a little more, makes him wish that he could rewind time to one month ago just a little bit more.
the rest of the wedding...seungyoun really couldn’t tell you much about it.
he spends most of the ceremony holding back tears, mostly from watching his kid sister actually seem like the woman she is right before his eyes, he swears, and not at all because he can feel yohan’s stare into the back of his head (and he knows it’s yohan because he turns around whilst the priest does a long speech about the joys of love and sees hangyul looking at his own hands and meets yohan’s eyes and jumps a little).
and there’s a kiss and cheering and the priest says, ‘time for cocktails?’ and everyone heads back up towards the beach-side hotel that they’re all staying at, with only the families staying behind for photos. seungyoun goes up to the happy brides when yujin says, ‘seungyoun-oppa, your boyfriend,’ and seungyoun turns to see his mom dragging hangyul back to the beach.
‘family photograph,’ she repeats to hangyul, and the man stiffens as he’s practically thrown against seungyoun.
the photographer directs them all to get closer and closer, and hangyul decides to swap places with seungyoun so that he’s on the outside of the group.
‘you dyed your hair,’ seungyoun says as hangyul awkwardly pulls out a peace pose in the pictures.
‘yeah,’ hangyul says. ‘it seemed more respectful, or something.’
‘one more,’ the photographer says to them all. ‘funny faces!’
‘man,’ hangyul says, under his breath. ‘more pictures for you to photoshop me out of, huh?’
and seungyoun has to hide his frown underneath a bright smile and then a silly face, and he’s ready to turn around and just talk to the younger man once all the pictures are done, but hangyul’s disappearing from sight, practically racing off to match yohan’s pace (and the latter is only a few metres away from the picture taking, and seungyoun just knows that he was waiting for hangyul).
and jinhyuk seems set on getting seungyoun as drunk as a skunk, courtesy of wooseok. seungyoun is pacing himself though, because jinhyuk appears whenever seungyoun’s taken so much of a sip of his drink and refills it to the brim with whatever bottle of alcohol is nearest, making his glass a dangerous concoction. he’s not really in the mood to get drunk, and he pretends it isn’t because he’s holding out for a moment alone with hangyul.
(seungwoo apparently seems to be in the mood to let loose, for once, and jinhyuk resorts to giving seungwoo the shots that he keeps getting for seungyoun; jinhyuk can only say the first syllable of seungyoun’s name before seungwoo steals the shot right out of his hand.)
and now his mom sidles up to seungyoun and taps him on the shoulder.
‘seungyoun-ah,’ she says warmly and seungyoun smiles lovingly at her in return. ‘i’ll be heading back to my room soon.’
‘oh?’ seungyoun says in surprise. ‘but the party’s barely started- you know you’re cooler than almost all the people here, right? the true insider of this night.’
‘maybe i want my beauty sleep.’ she replies and seungyoun pouts.
‘you’re already so beautiful,’ seungyoun says sweetly, ‘why would you need beauty sleep?’
and seungyoun’s mom preens a little at the compliment.
‘i’m just a bit overwhelmed, i suppose. i’d like to go to my room, where it’s calm and quiet, and just think about how the years have flown by.’ she smiles a little wistfully and rests her head on seungyoun’s shoulder. ‘it seems like yesterday that you and yena both marched up to me in your matching overalls and told me you wanted to be idols, and now yena’s getting married and you’re finally so happy again.’
seungyoun feels like a steaming piece of shit.
‘will you be okay?’ he asks, ignoring how his voice wavers a little. ‘i’ll happily come up with you-’
‘oh no,’ she says, ‘oh gosh, no. stay down here and have a good time. someone has to be responsible in the morning.’
‘right,’ seungyoun says.
‘also,’ his mom adds, ‘are you arguing with hangyulie?’
‘a little,’ seungyoun admits after a second- he couldn’t really hide it, he supposed. the younger man was usually by his side at all times, but had barely been present today. ‘did he tell you?’
‘not at all. but he seemed a little tense- as if he wasn’t telling me something. but he wouldn’t stop talking about you in such a loving way, so-’
and she cuts herself off at the sight of seungyoun’s pained expression and she winces.
‘ah,’ his mom says. ‘in that case- i saw my son-in-law wandering down to the beach. please be careful.’
seungyoun can barely acknowledge the son-in-law comment before his mom leaves with a knowing smile. he manages to text wooseok that he’s heading down to the beach (jinhyuk and seungwoo are now dragging yohan into a sing-a-long, leaving wooseok as seungyoun’s last hope for sobriety) and looks at the glass in his hand; it honestly looks as if it’s frothing, due to the many mixtures of alcohol within such a small container, but he knows it’s probably just the lights. he takes a tentative sip- dutch courage, or absolute fucking poison- before setting the glass down on the table.
and once he reaches outside, he can kind of spot hangyul.
the lanterns and bouquets are still forming the aisle, as they had decided to clean it up in the morning in case people wanted to come down to the beach, and the light from the candles bathes the place in a soft yellow glow, only accentuated by the moonlight. there’s also the light and faint bass pulsing from the reception place.
and the waves are pretty calm tonight, thank goodness, just a rhythmic- almost slothful -push and pull. seungyoun makes the walk down the stone path, eyes fixated on the figure sitting on the small stone wall a little way aways from the sea- out of danger, but close enough to enjoy the way it glitters as it catches the moon.
‘hangyul?’ seungyoun asks once he’s close enough.
‘SEUNGYOUN-HYUNG,’ crackles a voice and seungyoun stops in his tracks.
hangyul turns around with wide surprised eyes and seungyoun waves awkwardly. to his credit, hangyul reacts pretty quickly and shows seungyoun his phone; he’s got dohyon on a video-call at the moment, and seungyoun blanches as he realises he’s interrupting a family discussion about...something. hopefully not him.
‘i’ll go,’ seungyoun says right as dohyon starts shouting in happiness at the sight of his beloved hyung.
‘seungyoun-hyung, seungyoun-hyung,’ dohyon says, beginning to babble. ‘look at the sea tonight- isn’t it so cool? i was telling hangyulie-hyung about some ideas for a song about the sea, or about the waves or something, and he was saying that i should really ask you about that and wow, you’re here!’
‘great timing,’ hangyul says with a smile that doesn’t quite make the corner of hangyul’s eyes crinkle and seungyoun forces a smile back.
‘that’s me. king of great timing.’
‘hyung,’ dohyon says through a pout and both hangyul and seungyoun react, cocking their heads. dohyon lets out a delighted giggle.
‘seungyoun-hyung, come and sit down! i miss you.’
‘i don’t want to interrupt,’ seungyoun says hesitantly, trying to gauge hangyul’s response in the line of his shoulders but hangyul remains still.
‘please,’ dohyon whines, ‘it’s been so long since i’ve talked to you…’
‘yah, this is why you have kakaotalk,’ hangyul says but there’s no heat in his voice. just a quiet resignation that seungyoun wants to kiss away. he won’t meet seungyoun’s eyes as seungyoun tentatively sits down next to hangyul.
‘seungyoun-hyung, how was the wedding? hangyul-hyung says it was nice and pretty but won’t tell me anything more.’
‘he cried like a baby,’ hangyul adds with a smirk and seungyoun rolls his eyes.
‘i did,’ seungyoun confirms, ‘but i’d like to watch you not cry when dohyonie gets married.’
‘i don’t cry though?’ hangyul says and it’s probably intended to come out more cocky than it does determined. and he’s turned to look seungyoun in the eye- finally- so the older man just drinks in the sight in front of him; hangyul looks ready to leave the party, his jacket off, his tie totally undone and the top three buttons of his crisp white shirt unbuttoned. his hair is flat against his forehead, making him look younger- or maybe more his age , seungyoun thinks wryly, since he always looks so mature - and his eyes fail to hide the resigned sadness that hangyul can normally so easily mask.
and hangyul is staring at seungyoun as if searching for an answer, but seungyoun doesn’t know what kind of answer he’s giving.
‘he really doesn’t,’ dohyon adds obliviously. ‘when he hurt his ankle that first time, he got more upset that i had a nose-bleed from crying too much.’
‘sounds like an anime,’ seungyoun comments, finally dragging his gaze away from hangyul. ‘dohyon-ah, i finally see you in such a long time and you don’t even want to give me an update on your life?’
dohyon squeaks. ‘i got accepted into the seoul institute of the arts, hyung! i’m moving back to korea!’
and seungyoun shouts in excitement as well, and the two of them flail around madly to celebrate. hangyul’s the only calm one, obviously having already known the news, and he just stares at seungyoun with an unreadable expression.
‘i’m coming back in...three weeks?’
‘two and a half,’ hangyul corrects and dohyon nods.
‘seungyoun-hyung, will you be there to collect me with hangyul-hyung?’
and seungyoun gapes. he wants to be there for the kid, he swears, and in an ideal world he’d be right by hangyul’s side at all times.
‘seungyounie’s a busy man,’ hangyul says softly, ‘i wouldn’t get your hopes up.’
right. and that’s a crushing rejection if seungyoun’s ever heard one.
‘oh, dohyon says sadly.
‘i’ll buy you your first meal in korea though,’ seungyoun says quickly. he’s not letting go of these two that fast. ‘or maybe your second, or third, but a meal nonetheless.’
and dohyon lights back up again.
hangyul lets out a small laugh, before he rubs his face with his hand and silently offers seungyoun the phone. seungyoun takes it, and hangyul is careful to not touch seungyoun’s hand as he passes it over.
and seungyoun and dohyon talk whilst hangyul closes his eyes and leans back, settling into a more comfortable position. dohyon’s good at talking, and he rambles on about the latest japanese he’s learnt, what eunsang had told him the previous night, what food he was craving. seungyoun’s listening, but he’s also watching the goosebumps rise up on hangyul’s arms and the way that his breath is beginning to curl into thin wisps of silver.
‘what about you?’ dohyon asks seungyoun and seungyoun shrugs.
‘i’m writing for my new album,’ seungyoun says.
‘is hangyul-hyung going to help you with choreography again?’ dohyon asks.
‘i don’t know.’ seungyoun says, before turning to hangyul and nudging him. ‘is hangyulie going to help me with choreography again?’
‘not if you’re coming back with a ballad,’ hangyul says lowly. ‘i’m shit at modern dance.’
‘you’re good at everything,’ seungyoun says and dohyon repeats that earnestly, and hangyul cracks an eye open with a horrified face.
‘no need for flattery,’ hangyul says with a bitter grin, ‘i’m here as your plus one, aren’t i?’
and seungyoun realises in horror that hangyul probably told dohyon they were dating. the maknae has a wide grin and is clapping to himself.
‘i saw it coming from ages ago!’ dohyon says proudly. ‘hangyul-hyung wouldn’t stop talking about you and it was getting kind of annoying but then i met you and you’re awesome so i’m really happy that hangyul-hyung’s finally stopping pini-’
‘wow, dohyon-ah, isn’t it late in japan,’ hangyul interrupts quickly as seungyoun just gets more and more flushed, and dohyon pouts at the interruption.
‘don’t be embarrassed,’ dohyon says. ‘but also- yes. it’s one am and i have class in…’
‘you have class in seven hours, you’re going to bed,’ hangyul says firmly. ‘i’m a horrific big brother for keeping you up this long.’
‘will you call again tomorrow?’ dohyon asks with big pleading eyes and hangyul nods.
‘at an earlier time,’ hangyul promises.
‘seungyoun-hyung, will you be there?’
‘i don’t know,’ seungyoun says.
‘no,’ hangyul says. ‘he-uh, listen, dohyon-ah, just to bed, okay? we’ll talk tomorrow.’
and dohyon doesn’t really notice the abrupt cut-off, instead just waving sweetly at seungyoun and refusing to be the first one to hang up. hangyul teasingly ends the call with a soft ‘punk’ and then quickly sends a text before sliding his phone into his pocket.
seungyoun doesn’t really want to be the first one to talk in the silence but he gets the feeling that hangyul will happily sit there for hours on end in dead quiet, so he stares straight ahead as he asks, ‘you okay?’
the younger man lets out a long exhale.
‘i’m mad.’ he says, also looking straight ahead. ‘if this wasn’t real from the start, you could’ve just told me.’
‘i tried to, but-’ seungyoun says, but then he cuts himself off. hangyul’s closed his eyes and seungyoun recognises that now probably isn’t the time to try to convince hangyul that it was his fault this whole situation had happened. and besides- he had assumed hangyul knew. that was on him.
‘sorry. yeah. i led you on.’ he concedes.
and hangyul nods slowly. it’s darker now, cold and blue and unsettlingly so.
‘dohyon was telling me about his japanese lesson before you arrived.’ hangyul says quietly. ‘he learnt a new phrase. koi no yokan. it means something like love at first sight, but more like...when you meet someone, you know that you’ll fall in love with them.’
seungyoun turns to look at hangyul and he can feel his breath being punched out of him. the younger man’s always had a stunning side-profile, sure, but the way the moonlight reflects off the planes in his face, the wind gently ruffling his hair... in this moment he looks every inch like the greek statue his fans compare him to; ethereal, cold and unattainable.
‘oh?’ seungyoun responds. he takes a shaky breath. he wants to say something (i’m sorry i’m late to this, i only realised recently, but i could be disgustingly in like-like with you, possibly even in love, i want to write songs about you and map the lyrics onto your body with my touch, please, i’m so sorry, i didn’t realise you liked me that much) but hangyul’s still looking into the distance and seungyoun feels as if he’s interrupting something big.
‘you know where i’m leading with this.’ hangyul says. and seungyoun opens his mouth to interject, but hangyul shakes his head.
‘i wanted to say that i’m sorry.’ he says and seungyoun shuts his mouth. ‘you’ve...made this relatively clear that this, between us, was- is unrequited, from the very beginning, so i’m taking this whole experience as mostly my fault.’
‘i didn’t really tell you it was fake,’ seungyoun says and hangyul shakes his head again.
‘it doesn’t matter. i took things the wrong way.’
and seungyoun sighs. he plays with his fingers for a while, ignoring the biting cold and trying to come up with a way to salvage the conversation.
‘you know i was gonna ask you out at some point?’ hangyul says instead with a wry laugh.
‘i probably would’ve said yes.’ seungyoun replies, and he hopes that’s enough of an answer.
‘nah,’ hangyul says. ‘you wouldn't have. you told yohan we were just co-workers after that karaoke nig- oh. i forgot you don’t remember.'
‘what happened at karaoke night?’ seungyoun asks frustratedly. it’s clearly been the night that drove a wedge between the two, probably because of his own drunken actions, but he just wants to know so that he can apologise for everything he said or did wrong.
‘isn’t it better to just leave it, cho-ssi?’ hangyul returns instead of an answer. and seungyoun huffs because dammit, that’s not the answer he wants. and he lets the conversation linger in the air before he looks at hangyul from the corner of his eye.
‘i like you.’ seungyoun says after a few beats of silence. ‘in that way. koi no yokan- this isn’t unrequited, hangyul-ah, i’ve fallen for you too.’
and hangyul closes his eyes.
‘no, you haven't,’ he says quietly. he opens his eyes and finally, finally meets seungyoun’s eyes for the first time since he hung up on dohyon.
‘don’t say that,’ seungyoun says softly, pleadingly, desperately. ‘i like you, and you like me-’
‘you wouldn’t have done all of this if you did.’ hangyul snaps. he makes a vague gesture with his hands and before running them through his hair, driving his hair into a dishevelled look.
‘this wasn’t on purpose, ’ seungyoun says slowly. ‘i didn’t plan for this.’
‘for what?’ hangyul asks quickly. ‘for me to think it was real? or for you to supposedly like me back? what exactly did you not plan-’
‘don’t twist my words to hear the argument you want to hear,’ seungyoun says sharply. he can hear the panic in hangyul’s voice easily. ‘i don’t understand why you won’t believe me when i say that i like you back. what’s the problem?’
‘the problem,’ hangyul says, his voice low and thick, ‘is that you’ve broken my heart twice now, i suppose, and i don’t want you to break it again when you realise you don’t really like me, you just like how convenient i am.’
seungyoun recoils like he’s been shot.
‘i’ve booked a flight to seoul,’ hangyul interrupts. ‘i’ve already packed, so don’t worry about me coming into your room. please-’ and his voice cracks a little and seungyoun thinks our room, not my room - ‘please don’t try to see me again. we’ll just be coworkers. i’ll be professional, i promise.’
and then, almost on cue, hangyul’s phone rings. he takes his phone out and a picture of hyeongjun flashes on the screen.
‘speaking of work, i have to take this call,’ hangyul says. ‘and it’s too loud in there.’
seungyoun can take a hint. his blood is boiling, from anger at being misunderstood and from hangyul's blasé not-quite-a-rejection, and he thinks maybe this is is all we're meant to be.
so he leaves.
can u tell im not over the co-workers thing
Chapter 6: interlude: here is the repeated image of a lover destroyed
ya this one's a short one...soz
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
3 d a y s b e f o r e
(04:21) is hangyul okay
from: ex-taekwondo #1
(10:05) he’s pretending he is but he isn’t because he’s hangyul
(10:06) are /you/ mad at me
from: ex-taekwondo #1
(10:11) honestly? no
(10:11) he didn’t tell me everything, but i know you two had a big falling out or something because of a misunderstanding
(10:13) i think you’re taking it just as hard as hangyulie which is why i’m not mad
(10:14) please don’t think that i’m avoiding you too ㅠㅠ
(10:14) it’s just
(10:15) i’m trying to keep an eye on him so i can’t really talk to you as well
(10:15) thats okay
(10:16) thank you yohanie
(10:17) can i ask you a question
from: ex-taekwondo #1
(10:19) this...karaoke night that hangyul talks about
(10:20) what did i do
from: ex-taekwondo #1
(10:22) oh hyung, hang on
(10:35) okay seungwoo-hyung says i should tell you but YOU CAN NEVER LET HANGYUL KNOW THIS CAME FROM ME
(10:37) you got really really really drunk and told hangyul you were gonna date him and hangyul thought u were joking bc u were so drunk but then u got kinda serious about it and i’m pretty sure hangyul’s been watching the video of you telling him he has pretty eyelashes on repeat these past two weeks
(10:40) … oh?
from: ex-taekwondo #1
(10:41) i mean like. really serious
(10:42) but the next day u told me that u two were just co-workers and he was right behind u and i think he’s been a little hung up on it ever since
(10:45) f u c k
(10:46) thank you yohanie
from: ex-taekwondo #1
(10:49) that’s okay
from: ex-taekwondo #1
(11:57) i’m still a black belt you know
(11:58) i’ve competed in the olympics, gold medal and all
(11:58) don’t break his heart again
(11:58) and fix this
hashtag co-worker nation
Chapter 7: V: you want a better story. who wouldn't?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
1 4 d a y s b e f o r e
‘don’t cry,’ seungwoo had said as he pulled seungyoun into a lung-crushing hug at breakfast.
‘don’t cry,’ jinhyuk whispered to seungyoun, catching seungyoun’s arm before the drive back to the airport.
wooseok just gave seungyoun an appraising look.
(‘where’s yohanie?’ jinhyuk asked seungwoo. seungyoun strains to listen as seungwoo explains that yohan had driven hangyul to the airport, and that he’s on his way back. seungyoun thinks about hangyul being hundreds of miles away, and getting further.)
and so seungyoun had gotten through the plane journey back without crying.
people often call him a crybaby teasingly, and it’s true; he cries easily, but only when he’s off-guard. it’s why he had let the tears run freely down his face when he shattered both his and hangyul’s heart unknowingly, and why on the plane, he just sits there with a blank face as he goes through his beats. he adds a square wave and thickens out the crunchy harmonies of the synths, and even debates recording some vocal ad-libs when he gets home.
because it’s easy to compartmentalise when you expect the heartbreak. (and it had been a few days of waves of distraught and embarrassment and self-hatred, he’s used to it.)
he doesn’t let himself cry when he gets home. his plant is looking a little sad and wilted, and seungyoun rubs his thumb gently over the leaves- my poor shiba inu, he thinks- as he desperately spritzes it with water. but they can’t help leaking out as he lies in his double bed, cold and more alone than he’s ever felt.
it’s the knowledge of what he had, without really knowing, that’s probably what’s going to finish him, he figures; like the recollections of being tangled up with hangyul, not knowing where one ended and the other began and being so comfortable.
and doesn’t that just sum it up? being with hangyul is comfortable. there’s no pressure to be anything or do anything or make anything, except to just be...be happy, or be content, or even to just be.
1 3 d a y s b e f o r e
and he just lies there, thinking about how it all went wrong as he tries to prise his heart from the iron-clad grip that his memory has on it.
7 d a y s b e f o r e
chinese takeout six days in a row is probably not good for seungyoun’s mental health, physical health or his bank account but here he is anyway, fried pork in his mouth and a big bowl of black bean noodles on the table.
the delivery guy had looked a little concerned when handing him his order that hadn’t changed over the past week, but seungyoun shrugs it off like a duck to water; so what if he hadn’t washed his hair yet? he read an article that says you should only wash it once every three days to replenish the natural hair oils, but seungyoun wasn’t leaving the house so no-one would really care.
and he hadn’t changed out of his pyjamas for the last six days? hadn’t left the house, ergo, no need.
so he cheerily chews his piece of pork whilst bopping to the latest track he’s been working on. it’s a peppy song about hanging out with his friends and being content with himself, and it’s fun and energetic and seungyoun doesn’t feel lonely, not at all, he is happy, for gods sake.
3 d a y s b e f o r e
he’s scrolling on instagram mindlessly when there’s a picture of a franz kafka quote that appears on his timeline. it’s long and in english, so seungyoun reads it, then reads it again, and then reads it one last time in stunned silence. his mind stutters a little as he thinks about the meaning of i would hide my face in you and you would hide your face in me, and nobody would ever see us anymore and he thinks about how he both loses and finds himself in hangyul.
so he texts yohan.
fix it, yohan warns him.
2 d a y s b e f o r e
(12:04) what’s the studio’s schedule like next week
from: ☼ long ☼ legs ☼
(14:18) are you gonna talk to /him/
from: ☼ long ☼ legs ☼
“I can’t think of any greater happiness than to be with you all the time, without interruption, endlessly, even though I feel that here in this world there’s no undisturbed place for our love, neither in the village nor anywhere else; and I dream of a grave, deep and narrow, where we could clasp each other in our arms as with clamps, and I would hide my face in you and you would hide your face in me, and nobody would ever see us any more.” - franz kafka
Chapter 8: VI: are you there, sweetheart? do you know me? is this microphone live? // let me do this right for once
everyone's so nice, thank u all so much for being so lovely!!!!
idk if people get updates and stuff but i've just gone through the previous chapters and revised the typos/grammar issues/everything issues, just in case people got emails like 'ohhh this updated' but it's just the same old stuff lol
am playing with the idea of a hangyul pov accompaniment fic but like ... this might also just be the ultimate procrastination (i have an essay to write lol)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
n o w
seungyoun bounces up and down on the heels of his feet as he slowly heads to the dance studio once more. the lift is relatively slow, so he has time to stare at his reflection; he’s tried to dress up a little, wearing his nicest long coat with a thick jumper underneath. the brightest thing on him are probably the flowers that he just got from the florist near his house. she had made the bouquet of cornflowers, white roses, hyacinths and pink carnations with a knowing grin and given him a wish of good luck.
the lift shudders to a halt and the doors ping open. he takes a deep breath and steps out, his feet leading him to the entrance of the dance studio. and it’s a big open-plan space with a glass door, so they’ll see him coming, but jinhyuk had texted him the studio’s schedule for the next few days and they should be finishing up a class soon.
he peers inside through the door and feels his breath being taken away.
there’s hangyul, slightly to the side this time in a formation and he’s laughing wildly as yohan, in the centre, starts fooling around. it looks like they’re free, but seungyoun can still see a camera and a flashing red light. hangyul makes a hand signal and some music starts up again- seungyoun can’t place it, but it’s familiar to him- and they all start dancing freely once more, obviously waiting for the part in the song where the choreo starts.
and seungyoun slowly debates over pushing the door open as hangyul grooves to the beat, before they break off into groups and yohan leads the second group in the choreo. seungyoun can just about recognise the younger boys there as well and figures it must be a collaboration. and the beat kicks in and hangyul starts doing some complicated moves, so he decides to just wait outside.
he’s not chickening out. absolutely not.
but the minutes keep going by and the session in progress does not stop, and seungyoun checks his text again- they’ll be done by 2pm, jinhyuk promised, and then hangyulie has a meeting at 2:45 with the pd of a tv show for an appearance- but it’s 2:11 now. he’s running out of time for the grand speech he has planned, and hangyul’s answer, so he decides to just go ahead and push the door open, very very slowly so that it doesn’t make a sound and distract them.
of course, the door decides to creak once they finish dancing and the music goes off.
‘hyung,’ calls hyeongjun when he sees seungyoun, and hangyul turns around and sees seungyoun with the flowers and freezes.
‘hyeongjun-ah,’ seungyoun says. then he looks hangyul in the eye and smiles sheepishly. ‘i can come back?’
hangyul swallows and looks at the camera hesitantly. seungyoun smiles bitterly, because of course hangyul would want to draw out the video filming so that he could avoid talking to seungyoun, he had warned seungyoun that he didn’t want to talk.
‘i’ll take over,’ yohan says. ‘we’ve gone over anyway, we need to end the livestream soon.’
‘okay,’ hangyul says. and he apologises to the camera and seungyoun thinks, oh, he wants to talk. the younger man breaks out into a light jog towards seungyoun, and his jaw is clenched stiffly in a way that practically screams hostility.
before hangyul can kick seungyoun out, seungyoun grins brightly, eyes disappearing into small crescents.
‘go on a date with me tomorrow.’ he says. there’s an interesting nostril flare from hangyul on the word date before seungyoun thrusts the bouquet into hangyul’s chest.
‘these are for you,’ he explains. ‘they mean regret and love and please forgive me and i’ll never forget you again.’
hangyul’s face is blank as he processes. he gently takes the bouquet, looking at them with an indecipherable look that seungyoun feels weirdly positive about, and he then looks back at the group behind him; it looks like the ending ment is finished, and they’re waiting for hangyul to return to officially end it.
‘five minutes,’ hangyul says grimacing, and he jogs back to the class, the bouquet clasped to his chest. he delicately places the flowers on the floor as he manoeuvers the livestream into some kind of cohesive ending. it’s a little chaotic and minhee somehow manages to start a round of applause for no reason, but it takes only five minutes. they all cheer and hangyul gets on the floor and slides towards the camera like a penguin, shutting it off like that.
seungyoun barks out a laugh and he’s quickly stormed by the younger members greeting him again after a long time. he wraps one arm around eunsang and another around minhee and strokes hyeongjun’s ears with a free hand as he listens attentively to junho’s chattering, and tries to watch hangyul moving around from the corner of his eye. the boys quickly get called away by their manager and they part with promises to talk soon.
it doesn’t take long for the classroom to empty: it had only been the boys, yohan and hangyul anyway, and with the boys gone and yohan fixing seungyoun with a knowing look before leaving, it was soon just him and hangyul. seungyoun checks his watch- seventeen minutes left.
‘please let me talk,’ seungyoun says quickly when he notices hangyul open his mouth to say something. ‘please.’
‘okay,’ hangyul whispers.
‘okay,’ seungyoun repeats. he takes a few steps towards hangyul, who’s in the centre of the room, and he takes ahold of the younger man’s hands and gently presses down so that they’re both sitting on the floor. hangyul crumples down easily but pulls his hands away into crossed arms.
‘i’ve done a lot of thinking the past two weeks, and i didn’t really say anything the last time i saw you.’ seungyoun begins.
hangyul makes a faint noise at that, like a reaction to their last meeting being acknowledged. but he lets out a shaky breath through his nose and raises an eyebrow and seungyoun takes that as a sign to keep going. he clears his throat and waits for hangyul to look him in the eye before he continues laying himself bare.
‘i don’t want to be strangers, i don’t want to be just co-workers, and i didn’t just want you to be just my friend at the wedding. i want to be more. and i should’ve been honest and upfront, but i get really nervous around you.’
hangyul laughs at that and seungyoun frowns.
‘it’s true,’ he says indignantly, ‘you make me so fucking nervous.’
‘me’, hangyul repeats. ‘sure.’
‘first time i saw you, i realised you were the most talented person i’ve ever met. and then i got to know you, and realised that you’re also the kindest person. i could talk to you forever and not get bored because you’re effortlessly the funniest person ever, but also easily the most good-looking-’ and he pauses at the sight of hangyul’s horrified face.
‘oh god,’ hangyul says slowly, ‘okay, i get it-’
‘no, it’s important to me that i say this-’
‘it’s important to me that you stop,’ hangyul interrupts with closed eyes. he opens them and they gleam with- with something. ‘i get it. you’re sorry. you like me back. and i was projecting.’
‘i’m so sorry,’ seungyoun repeats, ‘and i’ll happily spend the rest of my life begging at your feet, trying to make it up to you if you’ll have me.’
hangyul quirks an eyebrow at that last sentence. he stays silent, thinking.
'you didn't really do anything wrong, you know.' hangyul points out. 'you weren't trying to hurt me. you don't have to be sorry.'
seungyoun shrugs and dials up his puppy dog eyes a little bit more. he's waiting for a more positive reaction than that, because yeah, he knows he didn't do it on purpose but it still hurts to know that he did it. he's holding out for something as hangyul thinks to himself, eyes closed and smile playing on his lips, and then hangyul looks up to the ceiling, avoiding seungyoun's pleading gaze and slight pout.
and hangyul sighs and says shyly, 'you know that i'd have you.'
seungyoun can’t help but match hangyul’s smile with his own that spreads over his face. it’s a big bright one with way too much teeth, probably, but hangyul huffs and moves his head to the side to hide his own embarrassed smile and seungyoun cups hangyul’s face in one hand and gently leads hangyul’s gaze back to his.
‘please let me kiss you,’ seungyoun asks and it’s almost a whisper. he feels hangyul nod before he sees it, and he leans in, close enough for seungyoun to stare at the line of hangyul’s nose, the indent of his cupid’s bow, the curve of his eyelashes before he realises that oh, hangyul’s trembling in his hands.
‘relax,’ he says quietly, ‘it’s just me.’
‘exactly,’ hangyul replies, his eyes fluttering closed, and it’s hangyul that finally closes the gap between them.
it’s a tentative kiss, soft and warm and shy and it’s barely anything more than his own chapped lips softly pressing against hangyul’s and the taste of peach lip balm that hangyul uses religiously. seungyoun’s hand rests on hangyul’s cheek, and he lets his thumb stroke his face gently as he prises a noise from hangyul with a swipe of his tongue. and he lets hangyul set the pace, moving his own lips in reaction to his, and it kind of feels like they’re going at the tempo of seungyoun’s beating heart.
they break apart and seungyoun marvels at the beautiful pink of hangyul’s kiss-swollen lips and the flush building on his cheeks.
hangyul giggles and seungyoun practically melts. he wants to climb into the younger man’s lap and pepper kisses all over his face; so he does exactly that. he gets up on his knees and slides onto hangyul’s thighs with ease, and this time it’s him who rests his hands around hangyul’s neck as he presses a gentle kiss to each of hangyul’s closed eyes and then to the corners of his mouth. hangyul’s hands go up to hold seungyoun by the waist.
‘date me,’ seungyoun says and he presses a kiss to the tip of hangyul’s nose.
‘fine,’ hangyul says with a roll of his eyes.
‘fuck yeah,’ seungyoun crows. ‘it’s gonna be so real, you won’t know what hit you.’
‘text me the details,’ hangyul says, and he checks the clock and almost pales at the time.
‘yes,’ seungyoun says. he peels himself off of hangyul and stands up, pulling hangyul up with him. ‘wow, i miss you already.’
‘are you going to be cheesy?’ hangyul asks. ‘i’m not dating you if you’re cheesy-’
‘i’m dating the bestest, handsomest man in the world, i’m gonna be cheesy about this- hey, wait, stop pushing me-’
hangyul lets out a wild giggle as he pushes seungyoun out the door and seungyoun bows and turns around to leave, before he spins on his heel and marches up to hangyul, grabbing his hands.
‘just for your information.’ seungyoun says. ‘i am going to take you out on so many dates until you know that i like you just as much as you like me. and then i’m gonna be super romantic and ask you to be my boyfriend and hope that you say yes. and then we’re going to be gross and in love and it’s going to be so fucking real, you’ll forget i even tried to fake date you. does that sound good?’
‘i can make do with that.’ hangyul says with a bright grin. then- ‘now go, i have a meeting in two minutes.’
seungyoun kisses hangyul again, this time one with perhaps too much tongue and teeth and desperation, and he lets out a boyish grin as he pulls apart and catches the dazed look on hangyul’s face, and then he races off with a cackle, running down the stairs as hangyul shouts YAH, CHO SEUNGYOUN-SSI behind him.
he nearly trips down the stairs when he spots yohan, and the taekwondo player wolf-whistles as he appraises seungyoun’s bright red face.
‘i fixed it,’ seungyoun says cheerily.
‘and then some.’ yohan adds dryly.
(14:48) tapas bar, hongdae, 7pm, today!!!!!!
from: hood swag
(15:12) thought our date was tomorrow……….
(15:15) but today is good too (:
(15:16) ......... miss u
(15:19) love you!!!!!!!
from: hood swag
(15:20) g r o s s
(15:20) love you too
tag urself i'm yohan