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the pretty and the pink

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Sunwoo lets out a sigh.

He sighs, unconsciously, for probably the fifth time in the past minute. Apparently, his friend has enough because he pulls his chair back, breaking his focus in favor of turning towards him.

“You can pick up where you left off tomorrow, you know. Go home, and sleep, Sunwoo.”

Sunwoo blinks at his computer, at the empty screen in front of him. He shrugs off his headphones that hadn't been playing any music anyway, and leans back against his chair.

He glances to the side, and sees Jacob give him a sympathetic smile. “Go home, it's okay.”

Sunwoo is not even surprised to find out that he doesn't want to argue with Jacob. He doesn't want to stay, and he doesn't want to pretend like he wants to.

Truth is, Sunwoo lost his fire a long time ago.

Back then, when he was still a newbie and eager to work for the studio he's currently at, Sunwoo wouldn't have been one to admit defeat so easily. He would stay overnight working until he physically couldn't, producing absolute gems that the company fell in love with and which helped him make his place within the industry.

He would spend all night composing until his eyes couldn't stay open anymore, and still walk back in the following morning with a wide smile, eager to produce and show what he was made of. Anyone who saw him could see that he was burning with passion, standing tall and proud of himself.

Things had changed.

Over the years, Sunwoo's fire had slowly died out, and his friends had watched him crumble into what was merely the shadow of himself, into the boy who never slept, who kept trying without success. They didn't recognize their little ball of sunshine anymore. And if Sunwoo cared enough, he would notice that he himself didn't know who he was anymore.

Sunwoo rubs his palms against his eyes, frustrated by his own incapability.

“Yeah, I'll head out,” he finally grumbles back. “Good night hyung.”

“Sleep well,” Jacob wishes him in a caring tone, even though they both know his words are in vain.

Sunwoo picks up his things, and leaves their little studio. The hallways of their company's building are dark, as most other producers left hours ago already.

Jacob is a hard-worker, and Sunwoo used to be, too, which is why they often find themselves to be the last ones standing.

As he steps outside, the cold air doesn't even shock him. He just pulls his hoodie over his head out of habit, and walks with his head down, lazily kicking pebbles along the way.

His heart feels heavy, his head filled with the darkest clouds, and he knows he won't be able to fall asleep when he gets home. Usually, he would lay down fully dressed on his bed, and stare at the ceiling until his eyes burned and sleep took him by force.

Today, as he walks along the silent street, he stops in front of a lit-up facade that catches his attention, his eyes squinting to adjust to the blinding neon lights. His ears catch the god-awful music he can hear coming out of the bar.

The bouncer eyes him, him and his dark hoodie and baggy jeans. Sunwoo is well-aware that he doesn't look like he belongs in there, doesn't look like he has any money to buy drinks. But the bouncer meets eyes with him, and with a small tap on the shoulder, he opens the door for him.

Sunwoo finds his way inside, the loud music overwhelming him. He swallows the discomfort and sits down on a stool at the bar, sending a mildly disinterested glance around the place.

The bar is quite calm, but it is nothing unexpected on a Monday night like this. There are a few other people sat at the bar around him, some dancing in front of the empty stage, but Sunwoo can probably count on his fingers the number of people he can see. Maybe it’s too late at night and Sunwoo has missed the bigger crowd, as big of a crowd as a Monday night could gather, and all Sunwoo gets to witness are the drunk people who don't know any better.

Or people like him, who wander around and end up in unknown places without really knowing what they’re doing, maybe in a subconsciously desperate attempt to get themselves to live.

“Hey dude, can I get something for you?”

Sunwoo lifts his head up, only just noticing the bartender who is looking at him, his hands busy drying off an empty glass. Sunwoo looks back at him without much interest.

Right. He should have expected that, going into a bar, that he would have to talk to someone. Tonight, he hadn’t walked back home to find dead silence and familiar loneliness, no, instead, he had voluntarily walked himself into a bar where people would expect him to at least order something.

He probably looks just like he does at home, just like he does at work, and pretty much everywhere he goes in his daily life. He probably looks like how he feels, empty, void of emotion, cold, and bored. The bartender in front of him is short, with brown-ish hair that falls too close to his eyes, and pursed lips as he waits for Sunwoo to speak up.

Sunwoo doesn’t even know why he’s here. He doesn’t like drinking, he doesn’t like the excessively loud and cheap music of night clubs, he doesn’t like to hear the incoherent discussions of drunk people laughing around him. At least, he likes the darkness, and this place provides more than enough of it.

The short bartender has an eyebrow raised now. “Just a beer, maybe?” he offers, and Sunwoo has just enough energy left in him to nod.

He doesn’t really want a beer, but saying yes is a thousand times easier than saying no, and then having to explain himself, or make another choice. All he does is fish out some crumpled bills out of his pockets and drop them onto the counter while the bartender slides him a glass of ice-cold beer.

The bartender stops his movements after grabbing the money, and Sunwoo feels himself being scrutinized for just over a second before someone shouts at him from the other end of the bar, and breaks the awkward moment before it can happen.

The man glances at the other customer that is calling for him, and back at Sunwoo.

Sunwoo’s eyes trail over the glass of beer in his hand, but from the corner of his eyes he sees the bartender stopping another man behind the counter, and leaning in to whisper a few words in his ear. Sunwoo can’t hear what they’re saying, of course he can’t, but that’s not his business anyway.

He simply stares at the glass in front of him, at the little bubbles swimming to the surface and popping, until he thinks he can see someone standing in front of him, on the other side of the bar.

Sunwoo risks a look up, and he sees a pink-haired man, shorter than the previous bartender, leaning casually onto the counter.

“Rough night?” the bartender asks, but it looks like he doesn't expect a response as he simply busies himself with cleaning the wooden surface between them.

The bartender’s hand grips tightly at the cloth that he uses to wipe the counter. Sunwoo follows the movement with his eyes, focusing on the thick veins over the back of it.

Sunwoo wraps a cold hand around his even colder glass.

He sighs. “Yeah.”

The pink-haired man stops for a second.

“Wanna talk about it?” he asks, head tilted in Sunwoo’s direction.

Sunwoo shakes his head. His eyes get lost into his beer again, watching the bubbles pop at the surface with utmost concentration.

The alcohol is there, taunting him and Sunwoo hates how little it takes to remind him of his friends, and of the words they keep repeating to him. A glass of beer reminds him of Jacob, Jacob who has watched him perish slowly over the years, the one constant of Sunwoo’s life, the only one of his friends who hasn’t given up on him. He probably doesn’t have a choice, since they work together and even share a studio, but Jacob does more than being just a presence. He tries to take care of Sunwoo the best he can.

Jacob reminds Sunwoo to eat whenever Sunwoo locks himself up in their studio for ridiculous hours. Jacob comes over to do Sunwoo’s laundry when he notices Sunwoo wearing the same dirty clothes to work three days in a row. Jacob never stops inviting Sunwoo to hang out with him and his boyfriend, no matter how many times Sunwoo declines. Most importantly, Jacob isn’t overbearing in his worry for Sunwoo, he lets him have his own space, and Sunwoo appreciates it.

But if there’s one thing that’s annoying about Jacob, it’s the amount of time he’s repeated to Sunwoo that he should loosen up, that he should have fun and enjoy life outside of work, that he should try and live. Jacob tries to convince him that it would ultimately benefit his producing, the one thing that Sunwoo holds closest to his heart, but every single time, Sunwoo brushes him off. Even though he knows Jacob is right.

Sunwoo watches as one more bubble pops, and it brings him back to reality, to the bar he's in and to the awful music blaring in his ears.

He notices that the pink-haired bartender is gone. It’s not like Sunwoo can blame him; he would find himself uninteresting, too. Customers like him, depressed and unresponsive are probably a regular occurrence. Bartenders just take their money, and let them wallow in their self-pity, alone.

As Sunwoo starts drinking, he spots the pink-haired bartender at the other end of the bar, comfortably chatting up with another customer that, just like Sunwoo, sits alone on a stool. Except the bartender is leaning onto the counter, way too close to the sat-down boy for him to be just a regular customer. Sunwoo doesn’t really care, but still, he watches them interact without hearing anything. He watches the bartender slide a hand over the other man’s, and oh.

They’re flirting.

It might just be an ordinary scene to just about anyone else in this bar, but to Sunwoo, it’s intriguing.

Sunwoo drinks half of his beer.

The pink-haired leans in even more, until his mouth is next to the boy’s ear, and Sunwoo sees his lips moving through a grin, hushed words that Sunwoo wishes he could catch.

Sunwoo used to be good at that: words, knowing exactly which ones to choose to convey his message, whatever that might be. He used to be a great liar, an even better flirt, and most importantly, an outstanding lyricist.

The customer-not-customer grabs the bartender’s wrist in a gentle hold. Whatever the pink-haired has told him, it must have had its effect on the man, because a second later he’s pressing his lips to the bartender’s.

There aren't many people in the bar, but Sunwoo suddenly feels the temperature rise around him as they make out, rather messily for two people kissing in public. Sunwoo pulls awkwardly at the sweaty collar of his hoodie, and looks away.

He downs his drink quickly, but he knows it won't do anything. Sunwoo has been numb to the feeling of alcohol for a long time now.

He stirs the empty glass, watching the ice cubes clink against each other. Not able to get the picture of the two men out of his mind.

When he looks up again, the pink-haired man is laughing with the boy he'd just kissed, and two others soon join them on the stools. They push and tease at each other, their laughter echoing all the way to where Sunwoo is seated.

They all look happy, alive, and Sunwoo feels a hint of jealousy pool in his stomach.

That used to be him. He used to have that, this carefree attitude towards life that he no longer knows how to find. He used to go out with friends, he used to know how to have fun.

He watches the pink-haired mix cocktails together and hand them to the boys on the other side of the counter. They laugh about something, and the bartender throws his head back.

Maybe the pink-haired can sense him staring, but he suddenly brings his head back down and sends a glance towards Sunwoo.

A rush of panic overtakes him at the idea of being caught, but the boy only smiles sweetly, and abandons the other customers - friends, probably - to stride over to him.

“Need anything, pretty boy?”

Sunwoo looks up at him in surprise, and his eyes stop where he can see the boy's lips glistening under the blacklights.

He stares a second too long, and before he can answer the bartender’s question, the pink-haired puts away his empty glass, and Sunwoo's fingers are left sitting on top of the counter with nothing to fiddle with as the tension becomes overbearing, and he doesn't have the energy to think of what he actually wants.

A beating heart. Happiness. Friends.

“If you won't say anything, let me offer you my personal favourite. On the house.”

The bartender winks, and starts moving as he creates a drink. Sunwoo can barely keep up with how quickly the man moves, but he's fascinated by the ease with which the bartender executes the complex drink.

He wonders how long the pink-haired boy has been working here, in this lousy bar, for him to be this skilled at cocktail mixing. Judging from his energy and enthusiasm, Sunwoo would have bet he was still fairly new. But his experience tells him otherwise, and both realizations don’t add up in Sunwoo’s mind.

He wonders how the pink-haired could manage to work at the same place for such an extended period of time, and yet still be so vibrant with happiness.

Soon enough, the bartender slides a drink over the counter, stopping it right in front of Sunwoo.

The liquid is pink, alarmingly fluorescent, and the colour is very reminiscent of the man's hair.

“That's my signature drink,” the bartender grins as if he can read Sunwoo’s mind, and gestures at his hair. “If you couldn't tell.”

That tears half of a chuckle out of Sunwoo, and he glances down at the drink, nervously evading the bartender's presence, and he takes a curious sip out of the straw.

The drink isn't even that good. Average, at most. Not that Sunwoo is much of an alcohol person, that's just not his thing. But the taste is sweet on his tongue, burning down his throat, and it makes him feel something, at least.

“Good?” the bartender asks, making Sunwoo look up again.

He takes a second to properly look at the bartender this time. He takes in the boy's small eyes and round nose, notices his enticing bartender uniform that is a white shirt, unbuttoned lower than Sunwoo would be comfortable doing himself, but it's a look that works on him. It reveals the top of the boy's chest, and the shirt tightens around his arm muscles, his broad shoulders, and synchs his waist.

Sunwoo finally registers that the bartender is looking back at him, waiting expectantly for a response.

“Yeah,” Sunwoo nods. “It's sweet,” he feels the need to add, and is rewarded by a bright smile.

“Glad you like it, pretty boy.”

The nickname falls from the bartender's lips again, but it catches Sunwoo's attention this time.

It didn't bother him the first time. Although surprising, he thought it was simply how flirty bartenders acted these days, but after seeing the pink-haired kissing the boy at the other end of the bar, he's feeling a little uneasy.

“Does it not bother him?” Sunwoo asks before he can stop himself.

The pink-haired pauses. “Does… what?”

“Your boyfriend,” Sunwoo points his chin at the man with caramel hair sitting at the other end of the bar. “He lets you call your customers pretty boy?”

The bartender glances over at the trio who's chatting loudly. “Oh, Jaehyun hyung?” He shakes his head with a laugh. “He's not my boyfriend.”

Sunwoo frowns. “But you just kissed him.”

The bartender laughs again. “Yeah, so? Doesn't mean anything. He's a friend.”

Sunwoo can't help but stare at Jaehyun hyung, and now he's even more intrigued by his and the bartender's relationship. It's unlike anything Sunwoo's boring and repetitive work-oriented life has ever seen. Really, all he knows is Jacob, who's been in a smooth-sailing relationship for the past three years.

Sunwoo himself has been lonely for a while, and the thought of kissing friends has never crossed his mind.

Not that Sunwoo minds loneliness, at this point. Loneliness has been his closest friend for a while.

“Hey,” the pink-haired calls for him again. “I wouldn't call you like that if I didn't think you were pretty.”

Sunwoo's entire world stops right there.

This is uncharted territory. This is beyond simply asking for drinks or making small talk. This is outright flirting, something Sunwoo has neither the energy nor the motivation to do, and now he's on the receiving end, and he can't remember what he's supposed to do about it.

He takes a short breath in, and promptly finishes his drink.

He can't deny that the bartender's character is catching his interest. The boy is happy, talkative, with an easy laugh and a pretty smile. He's unlike those same boring people Sunwoo sees at work every day. He's relaxed, not stressed out by his job, and he's got hair dyed a colour Sunwoo would never even dream about.

The gears in his brain start turning, oiled by the alcohol in his system, and he remembers Jacob's words. Loosen up. Live a little.

He decides the least he can do is ask for the bartender's name.

“My name's Sunwoo,” he introduces himself. “What's yours?”

The bartender's eyes light up slightly at the information, and he almost drops the glass he has been cleaning.

“I'm Eric.”

The foreignty of the name instantly catches Sunwoo's attention. Sunwoo doesn't know many foreigners, except for Jacob, of course, and the fact that his closest friend comes from another country has made Sunwoo aware that foreigners can have stories to tell, a different kind than those Sunwoo was used to his entire childhood.

He adds that to the list of interesting things about the bartender.

“So, Sunwoo,” Eric grins. “It's a shame you don't drop by often. My job suddenly just got way more fun because you're here, pretty boy.”

Sunwoo can't help but roll his eyes. He knows he is many things, but what he is not, is an idiot who'd fall for something like that. He knows he hasn't provided much entertainment to the bartender when all he has done is sit and mop around waiting for something to bring him back to life.

“Let's be honest,” he bites back, “I'm sure you have just as much fun kissing your friend on all your other shifts, little pink creature.”

Eric chuckles, his eyes crinkling with what Sunwoo assumes to be excitement. Over what, he doesn't know, until Eric speaks. “Oh, I get a nickname now?”

Sunwoo leans back a little, and smirks.

“Mine's way more creative than yours.”

“I'll give you that,” the bartender smiles, and it's like he can't tell that Sunwoo is the asshole that he is, like he can't tell just how fucked up everything about him is. Like he can't see that Sunwoo is nothing more than just a dead man walking, that he wasn't trying to be nice, or funny, but just… like himself, or at least like what the tired and empty version of himself is.

“For the record, he really is just a friend,” Eric points out nonchalantly. “Trying to make someone else jealous. And he's a good kisser, so, I don't mind helping.”

Sunwoo raises a brow. A mischievous glint grows on Eric’s face and he leans over the counter.

“He's got this huge crush on Haknyeon, that's my bartender buddy by the way, but he's too big a coward to make a proper move.”

Eric pulls back and giggles, his eyes turning into adorable crescents.

They make eye contact for just about a second, only because Sunwoo looks away quickly after he feels his breath catching in his throat.

He looks good, Sunwoo thinks. Cute, hot, and unlike anyone I've ever met before.

“Can I get another one of that?” Sunwoo asks as he regains his composure, gesturing at the empty glass in front of him.

Eric's smile is directed at him. “Coming right up!”

Sunwoo watches him with a little more attention this time, focused on the little details as Eric moves around. On the way Eric's arms move, the way his slim fingers uncap bottles and wrap around his cocktail mixer.

Sunwoo pulls out his wallet just as Eric places the drink in front of him, but the pink-haired stops him by putting a hand over his, and he pushes Sunwoo's hand away.

“Don't worry about it,” Eric assures. “You looked like you needed it. It's on me.”

Sunwoo just blinks, and Eric smiles reassuringly.

It looks like Eric's about to say something, when suddenly his eyes widen, and a bright smile stretches his lips.

“Oh, I love that song!” he exclaims, followed by subtle head-bumping.

Sunwoo surprisingly hasn't paid much attention to the music, instead letting it act as some background noise he couldn't care less about.

But this is the cute bartender's favourite song, so Sunwoo is a little interested, and he pays attention.

The song is purely a chaos of noise that Sunwoo feels affronted to even call a song. Nothing about it is melodious, no rhythm that is pleasant to the ear, it's just loud and aggressive and illogical, and it makes Sunwoo's ears bleed.

Sunwoo eyes Eric, who has gone back to cleaning the counter in between them, but the pink-haired is still somewhat dancing to the noise that's blaring through the cheap quality speakers of the bar.

“And here I thought you were cute,” Sunwoo remarks out loud. “Abort mission.”

He takes a sip of his drink, proud of his little teasing. But instead of the offended reaction he was expecting, Eric grins up at him.

“You think I'm cute?”

Crap.

“You flatter me, Sunwoo,” Eric's eyelashes flutter exaggeratedly.

Sunwoo snorts, and takes a sip of his drink.

While Sunwoo busies himself with his drink, Eric exchanges a few words with Haknyeon, the other bartender. Eric slaps him playfully on the arm, and Haknyeon slaps his butt in retaliation, before he starts to walk away. Sunwoo swears he can hear him throw something similar to “Remember there’s more than just one customer in this bar!” at Eric as he disappears behind a pivoting door.

Eric looks embarrassed for a second, even though Haknyeon isn’t there anymore. He turns to Sunwoo with an apologetic look on his face.

“Sorry Sunwoo, hyung’s shift is over so I gotta take care of everything on my own.”

Sunwoo can’t help but feel a little disappointed.

Eric smiles at him one last time, and turns around to leave.

“Hey, Eric!” he calls after the pink-haired boy, and he hates how desperate he sounds as he does so.

At least it works, the bartender looking back at him with a raised eyebrow.

“When are you free?” Sunwoo asks.

His mouth surely ran faster than his brain, because this isn’t like him. He doesn’t do stuff like that. He has his job, which he’s been doing terribly at, and he has no time for futilities like this. Still, he feels his heart racing as a smile graces Eric’s face.

“The bar closes in half an hour, so… I’m free in 45 minutes.”

Sunwoo is taken aback by the response, and it takes a second for Eric to speak again.

“What, why are you making that face? You’re lucky I’m even free today, you know, I have a busy life!”

Sunwoo’s mouth opens on its own, but he’s speechless.

Eric has his arms crossed over his chest as he stares at Sunwoo for a second.

“Oh, wait, shit, I'm sorry!” Eric’s eyes widen in realization. “Today’s probably not a good day for you, with the way you looked earlier and all, and it's probably a little late already. I’m also free on Friday!”

Sunwoo nods, fighting back a chuckle. “Friday sounds good.”

Eric gives a nod back, and then he smirks. “Ask Jaehyun for my number, yeah?” he winks, and then he’s gone to serve drinks to the remaining people in the bar.

 

 

Sunwoo wakes up the following day barely remembering how he had made it to his bed after leaving the bar that same morning, right before its closing time.

The curtains were wide open, and so the sun blazed directly on his face. He groans, and rolls around to hide his face into his pillow.

Before he can make himself comfortable and go back to sleep, something ticks in his brain, and suddenly, he is wide awake.

He jumps out of bed to grab his phone amongst the discarded items scattered across the floor, and he checks the time.

He’s so screwed.

He was meant to be at the company building a good three hours ago, to attend a meeting with his colleagues for the current project they were working on. Well, he’s definitely missed that now, and he sits on his bed, staring at his lockscreen in despair.

He’s so going to get in trouble for this.

Him, the one producer who’s already been lagging behind for months on this project, and the only one who hasn’t produced a single decent track in who knows how long.

He just slept through the mandatory check-point meeting.

He unlocks his phone and fumbles to find Jacob’s contact - it’s not a difficult task, as Jacob is one of the only people Sunwoo ever calls.

Hey, Sunwoo?”

“Yeah, it’s me, hyung I’m so sorry about the meeting, I’ll be on my way, I-”

Hey, hey, Sun,” Jacob interrupts. “Don’t worry about it, okay? We pushed the meeting back, no big deal.”

Sunwoo can breathe again, and he slowly sits down on his bed.

“Oh. Okay.”

He takes a deep breath.

“Thanks, hyung.”

“We’re just all glad that this means you slept,” Jacob says, careful in the way he speaks. “Take time to eat and wash up before you even start thinking about showing up at the studio, okay?”

Alone in his bedroom, Sunwoo nods. “Yeah. I’ll be there soon.”

“Take the time you need!”

 

 

Friday comes faster than Sunwoo had expected.

His fingers are rusty on his keyboard, in his studio, like they remember the moves but the outcome just isn’t as great as it used to be. Sunwoo is frustrated, but he’s also distracted, because tonight he’s meeting-up with Eric and the anticipation is just too great.

He had managed to get Eric’s number from this Jaehyun guy, not without receiving a little teasing. Well, technically, it had been Jaehyun’s friend who had taken pity on Sunwoo and had given him Eric's number. But still, no matter how it had been done, Sunwoo had managed to get the number, and they had planned to meet at some place that Eric knew, and that Sunwoo had never been to before.

It didn’t really matter to him where they went, because all he wanted was to be able to see the boy again.

 

 

He arrives at the location nearly fifteen minutes early, not realizing how nervous he had been, scared he'd be late and that he would scare Eric away.

He realizes, was Eric to find out just how early he was, that there is a possibility that the pink-haired would find Sunwoo to be too desperate, and would be repulsed by him.

There's not much Sunwoo can do about that, because maybe he is a little desperate.

Sunwoo wipes his clammy hands on his jeans and enters the bakery, his nose immediately hit by dozens of different fragrances that are entirely different from the plasticky scent that is mostly prevalent in his studio. The pastel colours on the walls are a huge contrast with the boring creme whites of his apartment.

He is still taking everything in when he decides that he should maybe sit down while waiting for Eric. He shoves his hands in his pockets and turns towards the seated area.

The place isn't too crowded, the ambience is rather peaceful, and Sunwoo pulls himself a chair to wait for Eric.

The other arrives only a minute later, making the bells chime as he pushes the front door open.

In broad daylight, the other looks entirely different from what Sunwoo had seen at the bar. His outfit is a lot more casual than the revealing white shirt he had been wearing then; he is dressed in a baby blue sweater that fits just right with the pastels of the bakery.

Sunwoo is too nervous to even think of making his presence known, but Eric notices him quickly anyway.

“Hey, you actually came,” Eric beams as he sits in front of Sunwoo.

Sunwoo smiles back. “You too.”

Eric takes a second to look at Sunwoo's outfit, and then he giggles. “You look so out of place.”

Sunwoo frowns and looks down at himself.

Okay. Maybe Eric does have a point. His black jacket and jeans definitely stand out amongst the decor of the colorful bakery.

“But you look good!” Eric adds immediately. “The dark aesthetic totally fits you.”

Sunwoo feels blush tint his cheeks, and he bites his tongue to suppress a smile.

Eric looks radiant. He's oozing happiness, he's alive, and it makes Sunwoo's heart beat louder in his chest.

“Is this how you dress every day?” Sunwoo asks curiously, gesturing at the sweater that's a bit too big on the boy, collar sliding to expose his collarbone.

“Why?” Eric asks. “You don't like my outfit?”

“N-no!” Sunwoo splutters. “It's just… different from what you were wearing at the bar.”

Eric chuckles. “Oh, yeah, I forget people get surprised when they see me outside of work. In case you're worried, I do wear shirts for fun sometimes,” he ends with a grin, like he knows just how gorgeous he looks in a shirt.

Sunwoo blushes ten times harder. Eric seems content with the reaction, and Sunwoo is eternally grateful that the other doesn't expect a direct response.

He wants to tell Eric that he looks absolutely adorable in his blue sweater, but he can't seem to find the words to say it, so, he doesn't.

“Do you wanna try the pastries?” Eric suddenly asks, halfway to getting up from his chair already. “Let's go order, they have so many good things!”

Sunwoo nods, and follows Eric to the counter.

As they stand in line, Sunwoo realizes this is the closest he has ever stood to Eric. And with the boy next to him, he notices their height difference, the other is clearly smaller than him. It makes Sunwoo's heart warm up in pride, and he shoves his hands in his pockets to suppress the growing feelings inside of him.

Apparently, Eric is only just realizing the same thing, as Sunwoo sees him look up at him with wide eyes.

“This is so unfair.”

Sunwoo smirks. “Unfair?”

Eric pouts. “Yeah, hot guys always get everything.”

Sunwoo's heart stops. He’s not sure if it’s because of the pout or because Eric just called him hot.

When he remembers how to breathe, the line in front of them is moving, and Eric gestures for them to move forward.

“I was short like you when I was twelve,” Sunwoo says, trying to hide a smirk but failing miserably.

Eric shoves him lightly. “Was that supposed to make me feel better?” he complains. “I'm not twelve, I'm twenty!”

It only then hits Sunwoo that he hadn't known Eric's age up until then. Actually, he doesn't know much about Eric at all.

“You're twenty?” he lets out without thinking.

Eric looks at him weirdly. “Yeah, how old did you think I was? Wait, how old are you?”

“I didn't mean it like that!” Sunwoo exclaims defensively. “I'm twenty-one. We're almost the same age.”

“Oh,” Eric breaks out into a smile. “You're older than me.”

“And taller than you.”

Eric pulls his tongue out in annoyance, and Sunwoo laughs. He takes a hand out of his pocket, and wraps it around Eric's shoulder. It sits there comfortably because of their height, and Sunwoo playfully tugs Eric closer.

He can feel Eric's surprise at the sudden contact, but he lets him, and they go to order their pastries like that, with Eric excitedly recommending just about everything on the menu.

Sunwoo offers to pay for them, using the drinks from the other night as his excuse, and Eric lets him.

They spend the next hour sat at the little table in the corner of the bakery, slowly getting to know each other. Eric is really talkative, and it works well for them because Sunwoo listens, and Eric asks Sunwoo just the right amount of questions about himself. They don't cross any boundaries, but they’re both smiling, a lot. Sunwoo thinks this might be the most he’s smiled in over a year.

Eric is like a breath of fresh air that Sunwoo can't get enough of. And when Eric laughs at Sunwoo's timid jokes, that gives Sunwoo the kind of spark of joy and pride in himself that he hasn't felt in a long time.

Eric gets caught mid-sentence when his phone chimes a few times and interrupts him.

“Sorry, I think I have to check that,” he sighs.

“No worries,” Sunwoo smiles reassuringly.

Eric thanks him, and takes his phone out of his pocket. Sunwoo can see the long trail of texts from his upside-down angle, but Eric merely skims over them in two seconds with a roll of the eyes.

“It's just my roommate. He wants to make sure I'm okay before he leaves for work.”

Sunwoo frowns. “He's going to work now?”

Eric laughs. “Well yeah, he works at the bar with me.”

“Ah,” Sunwoo nods in understanding. “That must be convenient.”

“Yeah, sometimes,” Eric agrees. “But when he goes full-on dad mode like right now, that gets so annoying. He sees the kind of crowd we usually get at the bar and… yeah, he doesn't like it when I go out with someone from the bar.”

Eric shrugs, but Sunwoo can see it's not just something to brush off like it's nothing.

“But he can't dictate my life, can he?” Eric chuckles, then sighs. “But maybe it'd be best if he sees me before he goes to work.”

“Oh, don't worry, I get it,” Sunwoo says. “It's good that he looks out for you. Don't make him worry about you for his entire shift.”

“I'm sorry.”

“Don't be!” Sunwoo argues. “I understand.”

Eric pouts. “Can we meet again?”

That brings a smile to Sunwoo's lips. “I'd love to.”

He swears he can see Eric blushing as the boy runs a hand through his fluffy hair, and he gets up from his seat.

“Good night, pretty boy,” he bites his lip a little shyly.

“See you, pink creature,” Sunwoo waves at him, melting at the little giggle the nickname tears out of Eric.

He watches the boy rush out of the bakery until he can't see him anymore.

Sunwoo has never been more glad to be alive.

 

 

The next time Sunwoo sits down in his studio, it’s with an excited bounce to his feet and an itch to his fingers.

He places his headphones over his ears and opens a brand-new file, completely disregarding the works he’s been trying to finish for the past month or so.

He ignores Jacob’s curious stare as he gets right into composing. He lets himself feel the rhythm, trial and errors as he makes up a beat. He feels his heart beating along to the music, he feels like he’s pouring himself into this wordless song. He can feel the passion bursting out of him, and he composes.

His focus remains unbroken until he powers through the end of what is the very first draft of this new melody he’s just created.

Well, no. Sunwoo wouldn’t say he had just now created this melody. He would say it had started to take shape in his head for a while already, ever since this bartender named Eric had stepped into his life and had started to make him feel things.

He doesn’t have words to put on his feelings yet, but he has a beat, he has music, and as he listens to the finished products, he smiles to himself.

“What’s up with you? Did something happen?” is the first thing Jacob asks when Sunwoo removes his headphones.

The older producer is leaning back on his chair, observing Sunwoo with a smile.

Sunwoo bites his bottom lip, suddenly feeling embarrassed.

He's not too sure what to tell Jacob when the older man has clearly noticed the sudden change in Sunwoo's behavior, but he's feeling shy at the idea of revealing everything, he's feeling shy just at the thought of Eric, and their first date.

When Sunwoo looks back, Jacob is still waiting, curious eyes set on him, and Sunwoo can't hold back a giddy smile anymore.

“His name is Eric.”

Jacob squeals at him, and Sunwoo feels his cheeks burning. He hides his face in his hands with an embarrassed groan.

“Sorry, sorry,” Jacob laughs. “I’m just, I’m happy for you, Sunwoo. When do I get to meet him?”

“You’re never meeting him,” Sunwoo grumbles.

Jacob laughs again. “Okay, okay, I won’t pry.”

There is a silence where Jacob just stares at him with an excited smile, and then, he adds:

But just so you know, if that boy can make you walk in here and find your motivation to produce again… he’s got all my respect. I ship it.”

Sunwoo groans again, sinking into his chair as Jacob bursts out laughing.

 

 

Sunwoo and Eric texted a whole bunch of times after their first date, their schedules aligning surprisingly well.

They went out on other dates, getting to know each other more, Eric making Sunwoo discover the city that he had been living in for years as if Sunwoo had just moved in town last week.

Today, Eric had invited Sunwoo over to his apartment; the overprotective roommate was out, so they had the whole place for themselves. Eric couldn’t cook, so he had ordered them some delivery food. He asked Sunwoo if he was okay with that, and Sunwoo said that he was. It didn’t matter to him what they ate.

They eat in the dining room, sitting on the same side of the table because they both agree that facing each other would be too awkward. Instead, their seating arrangement allows them to be closer, hands brushing not so accidentally against each other's, shoulders bumping playfully whenever they're laughing.

Sunwoo brings their rubbish to the kitchen to throw away while Eric goes to the living room to prepare the movie they planned to watch, something the younger had called a “classic” and that he had recommended over dinner.

As Sunwoo looks for the bin, he hears the telltale sound of text notifications coming in. He glances at the kitchen island, where they both left their phones so that they wouldn't be bothered while eating, and he sees the screen of Eric's phone light up.

It chimes a few more times, and again, until Sunwoo is too distracted to carry his search for the trash.

“Your phone's ringing!” he calls for Eric.

“Who is it?” Eric shouts back.

Sunwoo isn't too comfortable spying on Eric's things, so he only glances at the lit-up screen, and is greeted by a trail of text notifications, all from the same contact.

“Jaehyunie?” Sunwoo reads.

“Is it important or is he just trolling?” Eric asks.

Sunwoo places their empty eating recipients on the counter and looks at the phone again. He carefully reads the first few notifications.

Eric

Eric

Eric

Eric

Eric

Eric

Eric

Sunwoo stops scrolling when he realizes that “Jaehyunie” apparently doesn't have anything more to say. He's about to tell exactly that to Eric, when the phone buzzes in his hands.

This is so boring, my hands aren't nearly as soft as yours

Even your chapped lips can do better than this

Sunwoo frowns for a moment, not knowing how to interpret the messages. Or rather, he doesn’t want to understand, because he refuses to believe that Eric would play him like that.

He must have been silent for too long because Eric is coming his way, bouncing on light, happy steps.

“What does he want?” Eric asks with a little laugh.

Sunwoo is too confused to explain, so he hands Eric the phone.

“What does this mean?” Sunwoo asks just as Eric's face falls.

“Sunwoo, I swear-”

“Who is he to you?” Sunwoo asks, his calm voice surprising even himself.

“He's really just a friend!” Eric looks back up at him.

Sunwoo raises a doubtful eyebrow.

“A… good friend,” Eric admits, his cheeks rapidly reddening.

“A good friend?” Sunwoo repeats, like he can't believe his ears.

Eric's face is full-on red at that point. “Yeah, but we- we didn't- not since I met you, I swear!” he stutters.

Sunwoo takes in the younger's slight panic, and he can feel that there's nothing hiding behind what Eric is telling him. He's embarrassed enough to look like he'll combust if this drags any longer. Sunwoo doesn't think Eric would have any reason to panic like that if he wasn't telling the truth.

“Okay,” Sunwoo says.

Eric blinks at him. “O-okay?”

Sunwoo nods. “He's a good friend,” he agrees.

Eric doesn't seem convinced that Sunwoo would drop it just like that. He stares up at Sunwoo. Then, he takes a step forward to place his phone down on the kitchen counter behind Sunwoo, and doesn't pull back. He's so close Sunwoo is afraid to breathe, his head spinning as he tries to make sense of this situation.

So what if the guy he's seeing has a… friend that he sometimes fools around with? Who is Sunwoo to judge how Eric wants to live his sex life? He doesn't understand the drill of having that kind of friend, and he shivers in disgust as Jacob crosses his mind. That would never be him.

“He's just a friend,” Eric repeats again. “A good friend who respects the fact that I'm seeing you. I promise you nothing has happened between me and him since I met you.”

Eric looks at him like he's expecting a reaction, and Sunwoo can only nod.

“And I wasn't bullshitting you about his crush on Haknyeon,” Eric adds. “There's absolutely nothing between me and Jaehyun. Not anymore.”

Sunwoo nods again. “Okay.”

He believes Eric. Maybe he doesn't know the younger that well yet, but he knows Eric is being honest. Not once since they started talking had Eric made him feel like there was even the slightest possibility that Eric was also seeing someone else at the same time. Eric always has time for Sunwoo. Eric always feels genuine, and Sunwoo believes him.

Eric is still right in front of him, and he's staring at him intently, and the sudden realization makes Sunwoo blush.

Eric looks handsome like this, inches away from him, his slightly tousled hair within arms' reach. It would be so easy to throw an arm around the boy's waist and pull him even closer, to run a hand through his messy hair.

“Sunwoo,” Eric whispers, and their gazes meet.

Sunwoo has nowhere to back away, no way to run away like the coward he feels like he is.

This is happening, and Sunwoo has never wanted Eric so badly, yet he's terribly scared of messing up, especially after he realizes for the first time that Eric is probably way more experienced than he is.

“Pretty boy,” Eric's breath is warm against Sunwoo's lips, and he takes in just how close Eric is now. “I really want to kiss you right now.”

Sunwoo blinks. His brain is short-circuiting.

He wants Eric to kiss him, and he’s never been more sure of anything.

“Please,” is all he manages to get out, desperately searching Eric's eyes for comfort.

The pretty smile he gets in return is worth the whole world, and Eric finally closes the distance between them, his smaller lips pressing against Sunwoo's own, the younger's hands quickly finding their way around the back of Sunwoo's neck.

Sunwoo is frozen, and he sees Eric close his eyes into the kiss. He does the same, and allows himself to kiss back, tentatively at first.

Quickly, he gains confidence, and he gains control over his feelings. He knows what he wants, and it’s Eric, and Eric’s lips on his, so he allows himself to let go of the mental blocks he’s placed for himself and places both hands on Eric’s waist to tug him a little closer.

He needs to lean down just a little bit to meet Eric, but it's perfect. He feels Eric's fingers slip into the hair at the back of his head, and Eric kisses a little harder. It's still sweet, and it feels so natural.

They both pull back after a while, out of breath but smiling dumbly at each other. Sunwoo reluctantly lets go of Eric’s waist to finally be able to run his fingers through the boy’s pink hair. He sees Eric blush at the gesture, and that makes Sunwoo feel warm all over.

He trails a hand down to gently cup Eric's face, and they stare at each other.

Sunwoo’s heart skips a beat.

He doesn’t care that Eric kisses his friends when he’s bored. He doesn’t care that there’s a boy he shares the kind of connection with that Sunwoo will never understand, because he knows he wants Eric, and that Eric wants him back.

Eric tiptoes again, and kisses him like his life depends on it, the strength of it pushing Sunwoo’s lower back into the kitchen counter. Sunwoo kisses back, and it’s a lot hungrier than before. Sunwoo licks over the younger’s lower lip and pushes his tongue in, feeling the heat pooling in his stomach at the realization that he’s got Eric all to himself, for the first time since they met.

They get interrupted when Eric’s phone starts emitting dinging sounds, and ringing, and it won’t stop even if they try to ignore it. Eric drops back on the balls of his feet, and Sunwoo can’t help but let out an annoyed sigh.

Eric is about to reach behind Sunwoo for his phone, but he stops himself.

He gestures at Sunwoo, and then at his phone. “You check it,” he says.

Sunwoo raises an eyebrow. “I don’t want to.”

Eric looks at him in disbelief. “Check it!” he insists. “Password’s just four times zero.”

Sunwoo just chuckles at him. “Why do you want me to check your texts so bad? Just do it yourself.”

The pink-haired rolls his eyes, and lightly punches Sunwoo’s chest. “I’m just trying to show you that I have nothing to hide. I’m serious!” he adds when Sunwoo just smiles at him.

“Okay, okay,” Sunwoo surrenders with a laugh, and reaches backwards for the buzzing device.

He brings it in front of him, hiding the screen from Eric’s view, but Eric really doesn’t care and simply shimmies closer, fingers playing with the hem of Sunwoo’s shirt and with the waistband of his jeans.

It’s awfully distracting, and Sunwoo gulps with difficulty.

He turns the phone on, and sees the ridiculous amount of texts Eric has received from “Jaehyunie”.

This is pure torture

I went to the bar earlier. Ofc he was there.

Fuck Eric, he was so handsome

He was wearing his black uniform, you know the one, and I popped a stupid boner over it

All he did was smile at me

He’s just too nice. He’s not jealous of anything.

It’s probably because he doesn’t like me

I hope you’re having fun on your date.. but you won’t be proud of me because I choked out again. I didn’t confess today.

I’ll probably take this secret to my grave.

“Did he spam this much?” Eric asks, and Sunwoo realizes he has been reading for a while.

He nods. “Your friend’s quite the drama queen,” he chuckles, and gives Eric his phone.

Eric glances over the messages, and sighs. “Sounds like he’s drunk.”

He tosses his phone back onto the counter.

“You don’t care?” Sunwoo asks, a little surprised.

Eric shakes his head. “He’s a grown adult, and I’m busy.”

The younger kisses him, and it quickly becomes more heated than before. Sunwoo rests his hands back on Eric’s waist, and he pulls the boy flush against him. Eric lets out a little moan, and Sunwoo smirks to himself.

It’s already late at night, but their date is only just starting.

 

 

They've been seeing each other for three weeks when Sunwoo finishes producing the beat to his new song, and he's now onto the part he's been dreading the most: the lyrics.

Lyric writing used to be his forte, his gift, the very reason the higher-ups saw potential in him when they offered him a position in the company. Lately, it's been extremely difficult to write even the simplest words, to express feelings in that way when he's been feeling so empty himself.

Well, at least that isn't true today, because for three weeks now he has been feeling things, has been getting out of his comfort zone, and he has a story to tell. He can feel it, the story to his song, all bunched up in his brain, and all he has to do is find a way to translate that into lyrics.

He's sitting cross-legged on his desk chair, headphones on and notepad on his lap as he fiddles with his pen. He's got the melody playing on repeat, he knows where the words need to go. But he can't seem to write down anything coherent.

He sighs in frustration, and angrily doodles a few blurry lines on the paper. It feels like he's stuck, back to square one, to where he was three weeks ago. His brain is betraying him.

“Call him,” Jacob suggests over their lunch break.

“I can't call him,” Sunwoo whines.

“Well, talk to him. What would you tell him if he were with you right now?”

Sunwoo takes Jacob's advice. He goes to sit on the rooftop terrace of the company building, finding himself alone with the wind and his empty notebook, and his phone.

His finger hovers over the call button, Eric's selfie staring back at him daringly.

Sunwoo clicks his messaging app instead, and scrolls for a few seconds through their previous conversations. He remembers each and every one of them, the cheesiness of the words on his screen making him blush. He doesn't remember coming up with the admittingly cute phrases he's sent Eric, but he remembers meaning them.

He remembers thinking of Eric in his white dress shirt, sleeves rolled up his forearms, that one night they texted during Eric's break. He remembers hearing the boy's dorky laugh over his “hahaha” text, he remembers feeling the blown whisper in his ear and the brush of Eric's lips at his “i'll see you at my house later”.

Without thinking, he opens his keyboard, and types out something. And he sends it.

He's surprised when Eric immediately reads the message. He thought the younger would be sleeping at this hour, because he'd worked a long shift the previous night. But Eric responds so quickly Sunwoo's heart makes a flip in his stomach.

Miss you too :(

It's simple, but it makes Sunwoo feel so many things.

He bites back a smile as he types something else. And presses send without thinking twice.

His phone chimes with Eric's reply.

I'm going to the gym~

If I can't be taller than you at least I'll be stronger!

Eric texts just like he speaks, in a cute manner, and now Sunwoo can't stop smiling anymore.

The gym. He doesn't remember the last time he stepped foot in one himself. He can't even remember the last time he took care of himself enough to think of exercising.

He reads Eric's texts again, and types back. Something cheesy, borderline disgusting, but that he means entirely. Eric is already perfect, and if he keeps up with his work outs, Sunwoo can't promise he won't drool on him next time they see each other. He tells Eric that.

God, that's so hot

But I'm on the bus, baby

Sunwoo laughs a little. He didn't mean it that way, but he guesses that works too.

He sends a quick apology.

You're so cute Sunny

The nickname makes Sunwoo blush like a teenager. He sends Eric a bunch of lovely texts, maybe messy but he's expressing his feelings the best he can.

How are you so good with words?

Unfair

Tell me more

Sunwoo smiles so wide it hurts. He's happier than he has been in a long time, very long time, he tells Eric. Eric makes him see the world under a new light, makes him see worth in this grueling life. Eric gives him a reason to want to wake up in the morning, he makes sleeping at night easy when he knows he'll see him in his dreams, and even easier when he gets to hold him close and fall asleep with their bodies pressed together.

Woah woah woah

Hand in marriage. Right now!

But please stop before I get a heart attack on this bus

You're a menace, Kim Sun

Sunwoo snorts, and takes a deep breath.

Eric sends a selfie, and Sunwoo chokes on air.

I hope you don't mind I stole your hoodie~

It smells like you

Sunwoo lets out a string of curses as he throws his head back.

When he looks at his phone again, the picture of Eric on the bus wearing the hoodie he thought he had lost is still there, taunting him.

He doesn't mind. Eric can steal all of his hoodies if he's going to look that good in them.

I hope you mean that because I won't hesitate to do it

He saves the picture, and is midway to replying something when the door to the rooftop opens, catching him off guard and he almost drops his phone.

It's just Jacob, coming to check on him like the absolute angel he is.

“You've been up here for a while,” the older says. “Is everything okay? Lyric writing's going well?”

Sunwoo can't say anything but he nods rapidly, hoping Jacob won't ask anything more. He knows his cheeks are full-on red, and he knows Jacob has noticed.

“Alright,” Jacob smiles knowingly. “I still want to meet him, by the way.”

Sunwoo hides his face in his hands, and he hears Jacob walking away with a laugh.

 

 

Sunwoo ends up meeting Eric's friends before he can introduce Eric to Jacob.

Well, he should have expected that, with Eric being the one to taking most of the first steps in their relationship.

It doesn't really happen because of Eric, however.

Maybe they had stayed up late listening to music - and disagreeing on what made a good song a good song - and that had led them to falling asleep in Eric's bed, minutes before Eric's roommate was set to return from work, and too late for Sunwoo to have a chance at leaving without getting seen.

Sunwoo is a light sleeper. And when the door of Eric's bedroom creaks open, he jumps out of sleep, blinking a few times to recognize his surroundings.

“Oh, sorry!” a voice exclaims, and the door closes a few seconds later.

Sunwoo stares at the closed door, and then he looks down at the sleeping boy that's sprawled over him. His pink hair tickles at Sunwoo's neck, his breath warm on Sunwoo's exposed chest.

It only just registers to him that he's half-naked, they're both half-naked, and Eric's roommate just walked in on the very incriminating picture that they're making like that.

It takes Sunwoo a good minute to get Eric to stir up. It's the middle of the day, at least to the regular population; to them it’s just a morning like every other, at least when they get to sleep in without the presence of a nosy roommate Eric’s been trying to protect Sunwoo from.

“I think your roommate is home,” Sunwoo whispers, fingers running through Eric's hair.

The younger presses closer to Sunwoo, pretty eyes shut as he tries to escape the light coming by the window. They had left the curtains wide open the previous night, as they often did.

“What time is it?” Eric asks in a mumble.

Sunwoo stretches an arm to grab the nearest phone on the bedside table - it's Eric's, the one they used to listen to music before falling asleep.

He brings it over to the bed and turns on the screen.

“It's almost two,” he says.

Eric groans and his eyes slowly flutter open, the daze of sleep written all over his face.

Sunwoo thinks he's stunning like this.

Eric grabs the phone from Sunwoo's hands right as it starts ringing. He looks at Sunwoo, like he's asking for permission, and Sunwoo smiles at him before laying his head back down on the pillow.

Eric rolls lazily on his side, one ear to Sunwoo's chest and he brings the phone to the other.

“What's up,” he greets.

From how close Eric is to him, Sunwoo can hear everything on the other end of the call.

Eric-ie,” the manly voice whines. “Haknyeon just texted saying he's coming to the bar tonight even though it's his day off.”

Eric doesn't respond immediately, instead taking a moment to tiredly rub his eyes with his fist.

“Eric? Mayday, mayday, need help!”

Eric lets out a sigh. “Just man up and confess to him, hyung. It's not that hard.”

I can't!" the voice on the other side squeaks. “I can't ever think properly whenever he's close, how do you expect me to confess?”

“You'll have to find a way because if you keep this up he's probably gonna think you're not being serious about him. I can't help you anymore, anyway. You know I'm seeing someone.”

Eric looks up at Sunwoo, softly smiling, and Sunwoo mirrors his expression. He tightens his hold on the pink-haired boy's waist, and he feels butterflies erupt in his stomach.

“But Haknyeon doesn't know that yet.. please, babe,” Eric's friend whines.

The pet name makes Sunwoo cringe, but Eric seems comfortable with it, so he doesn't show any reaction.

It’s not his first time hearing it, but he still can’t get used to the unusual dynamics of Eric and Jaehyun’s friendship.

“Look, I'm not saying I won't help because clearly you need it, and maybe Haknyeon has no idea still, but Sunwoo knows I'm dating him, so I won't help you in that way.”

Sunwoo's world immediately stops spinning, even though Eric seems unaware of what he's just said.

They're dating. They've never made it official between themselves, but apparently Eric thinks it is, and nothing could make Sunwoo happier.

Suddenly, he doesn't care that Eric's friend is on the other end of the call. He looks at Eric until the younger looks back.

“We're dating?” he asks, nervous, voice breaking a little.

Eric looks surprised for a second.

“Yeah? What did you think this was?” he sounds a little defensive, and Sunwoo immediately tries to catch himself.

“No, sorry, that's- we're dating, yeah. I just didn't- I wasn't sure if you…”

Eric cuts him when he presses a quick kiss to his jaw, and then readjusts the phone to his ear.

“Sorry Jaehyun hyung, gotta go, my boyfriend needs a little pep talk.”

Sunwoo’s heart makes a little jump. Boyfriend.

“What? Eric, I'm your best bro-“

“You're not my best bro,” Eric cuts him. “My best bro would find the balls to talk to his crush instead of… whatever it is you’re doing.”

“- and I can't believe you would go and get yourself a boyfriend without telling your best bro- wait what?”

Eric laughs, and ends the call, throwing the phone farther on the bed. It immediately starts ringing, but Eric ignores it in order to climb over Sunwoo, both hands gently cupping Sunwoo's face.

Sunwoo feels like he's burning.

“We're dating,” Sunwoo blinks at him.

Eric giggles. “I thought that was obvious. Was it not?”

Sunwoo shakes his head, and places his hands on Eric's waist.

“It was, I was just… scared you didn't feel the same.”

Eric rolls his eyes, but it's all playful, and he smiles at Sunwoo, his thumbs rubbing at Sunwoo's cheeks.

“Sunwoo, you're the best thing that's happened to me,” the younger says, gaze deep into Sunwoo's.

Sunwoo gulps, his heart thumping loudly in his chest. He wants to return the words, because he feels the exact same - Eric came into his life and flipped it upside down, in the best way, he helped get Sunwoo back on track and even further. Sunwoo wants to tell Eric, because the younger deserves to hear it for all he's done for Sunwoo, and for their relationship, but the words stay clogged up in his throat.

Instead, Sunwoo sits up a little, and closes the distance between them to wrap Eric's lips into a gentle kiss.

He's so in love with Eric, and he hopes Eric can feel it in the way he kisses him, in the way he gently runs his hands up and down his sides, pressing all the love of the world into the other man’s skin.

He knows Eric understands when Eric pulls away and smiles sweetly at him. Sunwoo presses a kiss to his nose, and Eric kisses his lips again, a short peck, but it seals the message, and Sunwoo's heart blooms.

“Are you ready to meet my roommate now?” Eric asks, moving his hands up to brush Sunwoo's hair into place.

Truth is, Sunwoo is not ready, but Eric is already hopping off his lap and off the bed. He watches the younger stealing Sunwoo's black t-shirt from the floor, and he throws Sunwoo a piece of his own that Sunwoo gladly accepts.

“Rough night?” the roommate teases from the living room when they emerge from Eric's bedroom.

“Amazing night, actually,” Eric responds, and drags Sunwoo to the kitchen.

They cook for themselves - Sunwoo does most of the work, but he lets Eric believe he actually did something to help so as to not hurt the younger's feelings.

Eric leads them to the living room to eat, and the roommate scoots over to make space for them. Sunwoo couldn't feel more awkward when Eric sits him in between them.

“So, that's Sunwoo?” the roommate asks.

Sunwoo glances at him, feeling intimidated by the fact that the guy is probably twice his size. They're sitting, so he can't tell if the other is taller than him or not, but he's definitely got more muscles than Sunwoo could ever dream of building up. Sunwoo looks like a toothpick in comparison, and he's very well aware that this overprotective roommate of Eric's could easily knock him down if he wanted.

Then, as he stares a bit longer at the roommate, it clicks. He recognizes the bouncer that let him in at the bar the first night he went, and suddenly the buff shape and intimidating stature all makes sense.

It's not any reassuring, though.

“Hyung, I think you scare him,” Eric loudly whispers.

The older man breaks into a sheepish smile.

“Sorry,” he says, and holds out a hand for Sunwoo. “I'm Sangyeon.”

Sunwoo shakes his hand awkwardly, the look Sangyeon is giving him is sort of like a threat, at least that's how Sunwoo receives it.

“I'm Sunwoo,” he manages to say.

Eric throws an arm around his shoulders. “There we go!”

Sunwoo can feel the way Sangyeon gauges him, a careful stare aimed at the arm Eric has wrapped around Sunwoo. Sunwoo is too nervous to do anything himself.

“You know, the people Eric meets at the bar aren't always the best kind of people,” Sangyeon says.

Sunwoo knows that the older man is judging him. He doesn't know what exactly Eric has told Sangyeon about him, but it's probably not a lot. At least, it’s not enough for Sangyeon to be friendly with him.

Eric seems used to this, however, as he leans his head onto Sunwoo's shoulder and yawns in a bored way.

“The day we met was my first time at a bar in years, actually,” Sunwoo informs him defensively.

“Boring, right?” Eric teases with a laugh.

Sangyeon purses his lips. “First time at a bar and you hit on the bartender?”

Sunwoo doesn't know how to respond to that, but he knows he has to say something. This is a test, somehow, and he has to measure his words.

“I wasn't planning to,” he answers truthfully. “I was just lost, I wasn’t having a good day. But Eric is naturally quite flirty, I know that now, but back then I totally fell for it. I thought he was like that with all of his customers, that maybe it’s part of the job, but then I realized it wasn't. As much as Eric can be a little flirt, I know he was being honest with me that night.”

Sangyeon nods, serious. “Eric flirts with his customers a lot.”

“But he never goes on dates with them,” Sunwoo argues. “He doesn’t send them to his friends to get his number, and even if he does, I’m sure not many people actually bother trying to deal with Jaehyun just for a number.”

He can practically feel Eric's smile light up the room when he says that.

Sangyeon nods, in approval, this time, and a small smile breaks through his stern face.

“That's true. So you better treat him good, okay? I'm always right here if you need a reminder.”

Sangyeon makes it sound like a friendly advice, but Sunwoo feels the threat underneath the innocent tone he uses.

“You done now?” Eric asks. “Is my boyfriend Sangyeon approved?”

Sangyeon rolls his eyes with a chuckle. “Sangyeon approved,” he confirms.

Sunwoo lets out a breath of relief.

He can barely catch a rest, however, as the front door of the apartment bursts open, and in storms Jaehyun, slightly out of breath and quite disheveled.

“Yah, I can't believe Sangyeon got to meet him before me!” he exclaims as he enters the living room, vaguely gesturing to Sunwoo.

He drops on the floor in front of them, and steals a bite of Eric's ramen. Eric slaps his hand away.

“I really need your help,” Jaehyun declares with a pout.

Eric leans back against the couch, crossing his arms over his chest.

“You don't need my help. Just wear your hot-dude-Jaehyun clothes and talk to him.”

“Is this about Haknyeon again?” Sangyeon asks.

Jaehyun whines and sprawls himself across the floor. “I'll never have him.”

“Probably not,” Eric taunts, and Jaehyun grumbles something back that none of them manage to understand.

Sunwoo isn't sure how to act, mainly because, except for Jaehyun's dramatic entrance, the older had paid no attention to him. It’s not his first time meeting the older boy, but they never properly spoke since Sunwoo and Eric officially became a thing.

He leans closer to Eric.

“Do I also need to get Jaehyun approved?” he jokes out loud.

Eric laughs loudly, and Sunwoo swears he hears Sangyeon chuckling next to him.

“No one needs to get Jaehyun approved,” Eric tells him.

Jaehyun's head perks up from the floor. “What's that about?”

“You go back to worrying about your hopeless pinning,” Sangyeon says.

Sunwoo laughs, and finally eases into the situation. He allows himself to wrap an arm around Eric and lean his head onto the younger's shoulder.

Still, he knows that no matter what Eric says about it, it's clear that the younger values Jaehyun's opinion. Or else he wouldn’t have made Sunwoo go through Jaehyun to get his number in the beginning.

Sunwoo thinks that this in itself is probably Eric’s more subtle way of seeking Jaehyun’s approval.

As Jaehyun and Sangyeon start arguing about who has the rights to decide who’s good enough boyfriend material for Eric, Sunwoo and Eric laugh together, and Sunwoo has never felt more light-hearted in a long, long time.

He remembers Jacob, and his friend’s wish to meet Eric.

“Jacob hyung has been dying to meet you,” he tells Eric.

“Really?” Eric laughs excitedly, the movement of his shoulders jostling Sunwoo a bit, but he tightens his arm around the boy's waist and smiles.

“Meet him?” Jaehyun exclaims, suddenly turning to them. “This little demon?”

To Sunwoo, it rather feels like Eric is his own little angel sent from above, sent on Earth to guide him, but Sunwoo doesn’t say anything. He simply laughs at the comment, and lovingly kisses Eric's cheek. He’s happy, because Eric’s closest friends are okay with him, and with him dating their friend, and for once, everything feels right. Sunwoo is right where he belongs, and he’s never been more motivated to make the most out of what he’s got.

 

 

They quickly make it a habit to walk home together at the end of Eric's shifts at the bar. It helps Sunwoo to gain a routine too, to make sure he doesn't stay too late at the studio. Ten minutes before the end of Eric's shift, he packs up his things and waves goodbye to Jacob and the few others left in the building, and he walks down the street to the bar.

The place is already closed to the customers when he arrives, but there's always someone to open the back entrance for him. This time, it's Sangyeon who opens the door for him.

Sunwoo follows him inside, eyes adjusting to the brightness now that the employees turned all the lights on to clean.

“Where's my walking highlighter?” he throws around, asking Sangyeon, but also wishing for Eric to hear his little joke.

“Cleaning the VIP section,” Sangyeon informs him.

Sunwoo thanks him and makes his way to the second floor of the bar.

He passes a private booth and has to make a double check to realize that there's more than one person in there. He recognizes Jaehyun, and the bartender who he knows is Haknyeon, and they're in the middle of a messy make out session that Sunwoo almost wants to interrupt just to tease Jaehyun, but he decides against it at the last second.

He finds Eric cleaning the tables, and the younger automatically drops his products when he sees him.

“There you are,” Sunwoo smirks. “The highlight of my day.”

Eric rolls his eyes. “And you, the paper to my pen,” he replies sarcastically, but it still makes Sunwoo fall even deeper for him.

“Almost done?” he asks, hopeful.

Eric nods. “Yeah, just this section here left.”

He picks back his cloth and his cleaning product and goes back to scrubbing the table.

“I see Jaehyun found his balls,” Sunwoo says as he leans onto a railing to watch over Eric.

Eric laughs. “They were hidden really well,” he says, “but he finally made a move tonight.”

“How did he do it?”

“He just went for it,” Eric chuckles. “He said he could never find his words in front of Haknyeon hyung, so he just kissed him at the bar. And then they both disappeared and this was the most boring shift ever.”

Sunwoo laughs along, but Eric's description of Jaehyun reminds him a lot of himself. Eric somehow always makes him lose his abilities, rendering him into a stuttering mess, and his only way to speak his feelings is showing it through loving gestures.

It doesn't take long for Eric to finish cleaning up. Sunwoo helps him carry the dirty glasses to drop them off at the dishwasher, and then they're stepping outside, hand in hand, walking to Sunwoo's apartment this time.

Eric rambles about some drunk patron who caused trouble earlier in the night, laughing as he tells his story, and Sunwoo listens to him with utmost attention.

When they get into the elevator, Sunwoo nervously squeezes Eric's hand to get his attention.

The gesture immediately gets Eric to stop mid-sentence, and the younger looks up at him curiously.

Sunwoo takes a breath, and locks eyes with Eric. “I did something today, and I'd love it if you could listen to it.”

Eric's eyes sparkle excitedly. “Of course, Sun,” he smiles, and squeezes Sunwoo's hand back.

They arrive at Sunwoo's floor, and Sunwoo unlocks the door and opens it for Eric to enter.

“So what did you want to show me?” Eric asks as he takes his shoes off, glancing around the open area. “It better not be your cleaning skills because I'm not really impressed.”

Sunwoo snorts. He wraps his arms around Eric's waist from behind, and brushes his lips against the younger's ear.

“I said listen, baby,” he whispers.

Eric giggles and leans his back against Sunwoo's chest.

“I'll listen with my eyes closed.”

Sunwoo leaves a kiss down the younger's neck, and another, delicate, lips barely touching Eric's skin. He makes his way up, kissing the pink-haired boy's jaw.

“I cleaned my bedroom,” he says in Eric's ear.

Eric snorts. “That's not the sexy catchphrase you think it is.”

Sunwoo pouts. “I did it for you though.”

Eric turns around in Sunwoo's arms. He gives Sunwoo a gentle smile. “I appreciate it.”

And beyond all the teasing, Sunwoo knows he does, and in the end, that's all that matters.

He leads Eric to his bedroom. The younger sits down on the bed while Sunwoo sets up his speaker.

When he's done, he sits down next to Eric. His hands are holding his phone onto his lap, he's nervous, and even more so when Eric leans his head on his shoulder, just waiting for Sunwoo to be ready.

Sunwoo starts by stating the obvious. “So, uh. You know I'm a producer.”

Eric nods to encourage him.

“I've been working on a big project recently, and… today I finally finished one of the songs for it.”

He's sure Eric can tell just how nervous he is, because he feels the younger rubbing circles over his back as he speaks, and it works wonders on Sunwoo’s nerves, even though he can’t seem to relax fully.

“That's amazing,” Eric says.

“I mean it's not- it's not perfect, far from that, actually-“

“Hey, hey” Eric mumbles, and he presses his lips to Sunwoo’s temple. “Would it help if we just lay down?”

Sunwoo nods, and they both move up the bed to be able to lay down. Eric cuddles into Sunwoo's side, and rests his head like it belongs there, on Sunwoo's chest.

“Okay,” Sunwoo grabs his phone. “I'll play it.”

Eric hums, and Sunwoo sees him close his eyes.

He grabs his phone, and without any other preamble, he plays the song.

Hearing his own voice bouncing off the walls of his bedroom feels weird. No matter if he's a producer, if he's used to recording and monitoring his own vocals, right here with Eric, it feels a lot more intimate. It feels a lot more raw, he's a lot more vulnerable, and even more when he hears the words he wrote over the beat he composed himself.

Eric barely moves for the entire duration of the song, like he's focused on what Sunwoo is offering him. Sunwoo can tell he’s focused on the words more than on the music itself.

Sunwoo doesn't speak out his own feelings often. He shows his love to his boyfriend through every other way he can, makes sure to shower him in unspoken love just as much as he deserves. He wishes he could do more than just cook him breakfast when Eric wakes up at three in the afternoon, offer him more than just soft kisses and bear-hugs, more than just a shoulder to cry into when they watch movies at four in the morning.

That's what his song is about.

It's also about the way Eric's eyes sparkle when he laughs, about that sunny smile that heals his days and makes him fall deeper, and deeper in love with the pink-haired bartender. It's about wanting to move mountains just to make Eric as happy as Eric makes him.

Sunwoo is head-over-heels for Eric, and that's exactly what his song is about.

The last notes end the song, leaving the room in peaceful silence. Sunwoo can hear his own heart threatening to beat out of his chest.

Eric doesn't move for a few seconds, and then, he cuddles closer to Sunwoo, and hides his face into Sunwoo's chest. His hands grip firmly at Sunwoo's shirt.

Eric lets out a hiccup, and Sunwoo freezes.

Did he get something wrong? Was it not enough? No, Eric was upset, and because of him, that couldn't be-

Eric derails his train of thoughts when he lightly punches Sunwoo's arm.

“You idiot,” Eric sniffles. “You write such beautiful words, you can even sing them, so why do you never say them to my face?”

Sunwoo blinks in surprise. He can't come down from his shock that Eric lifts himself up, and presses a heavy kiss to Sunwoo's lips.

One of Sunwoo's hands comes to cup the younger's face, and he wipes the tears that have pooled there as he kisses back. Their foreheads are pressed together, their noses bumping from how desperately they're kissing, but it's fine.

Eric pulls away, slowly, but remains so close that their lips are almost touching.

“Thank you,” Eric says, and he gives a long peck to Sunwoo’s lips. “That was beautiful.”

Sunwoo’s cheeks are heating up and he wishes he could control it, but he can’t. He feels so vulnerable, and the fact that Eric is so close to him is not helping.

“Y-you liked it?” Sunwoo asks carefully.

“If I liked it?” Eric asks incredulously, planting his eyes in Sunwoo’s. “Fuck, pretty boy, I didn’t just like it, I loved it. You’re incredible.”

How Eric can make that nickname sound so sarcastic yet so sincere at the same time is beyond Sunwoo, but he loves it.

Sunwoo can finally smile in relief at the confirmation that yes, Eric did like his song.

“You’re enough for me,” Eric speaks again, this time gently kissing Sunwoo’s nose, and then his cheeks. “You’re doing more than enough, baby. I’ve never felt so loved, by anyone. It doesn’t matter if you know how to say it or not, okay?” Eric asks, locking eyes with Sunwoo. “You’re doing so much for me beyond just words. I love you.”

Eric crashes their lips, and it’s by instinct now that Sunwoo responds, knowing just the ways Eric likes to be kissed. Eric likes it when Sunwoo takes control, when he tugs at the back of his pink hair, so Sunwoo does just that, tongue licking slowly into Eric’s mouth.

Eric rests his forehead on Sunwoo’s, panting a little, but a beautiful smile painting his lips.

“Love you so much, Sunwoo.”

Sunwoo feels like he’s been swimming forever and he’s only just finding the surface, air engulfing his lungs and the world lighting up for him. He’s breathing, and he’s living, and he’s so in love with the pink creature in front of him that it hurts.

He wraps his arms around Eric's body and hugs the boy to his chest.

“I love you," he whispers against Eric's lips.

 

 

Sunwoo is woken up by a warm hand on his shoulder, and fingers gently brushing his hair.

He blinks, and takes in the darkness of the room he's in, and the uncomfortable surface he's laying on.

He groans, and shifts a little to sit up on the couch of his studio. And that's when he's met with Eric's worried face just inches away from his.

Eric doesn't give him a chance to properly wake up before he starts nagging. “You know you can go back home if you're too tired. You don't have to wait for me! I'll understand.”

Sunwoo sighs, and leans his forehead onto Eric's shoulder. The younger is crouching in front of him, and he catches Sunwoo before he can fall forward, face first.

“I just fell asleep,” he mumbles apologetically. “I didn't mean to worry you.”

He takes a deep breath, inhaling the scent of alcohol that's all over Eric, but that is somehow comforting coming from the younger man.

Eric rubs his back comfortingly, letting silence settle over them for a while.

“Were you working on something?” the pink-haired asks.

Sunwoo nods into the crook of Eric’s shoulder. “The deadline is on Friday, so I've been trying to finish this track, but I can't get satisfied with it.”

Eric lets silence settle between them for a while as he soothingly pets Sunwoo’s hair.

“Want to let me listen to it?” he offers.

Sunwoo ponders for a moment, and he pulls away from Eric’s embrace to look at him. “You want to?”

Eric nods excitedly.

Sunwoo gives in, because by now he's learned to be a lot more open with Eric, a lot more trusting. He's allowing himself to be vulnerable in front of him the way he hasn't let anyone in in so long.

Sunwoo gently pushes him to the side so that he can get up, and he walks over to his desk.

“Fine, but don't expect every song I write to be about you, because that one is not,” he says.

“I- I know that!” Eric stutters.

Sunwoo laughs as he sits down on his chair.

“So you were this excited to hear a song that isn't even about you?” Sunwoo teases.

Eric is standing behind Sunwoo's chair, and the younger playfully gives a shove to the side at Sunwoo's head.

“I was excited because you rarely show me the stuff you work on, dumbass,” Eric says.

Sunwoo turns his chair around, smiling from ear to ear. He pulls Eric sideways onto his lap, and nuzzles at Eric's cheek. “I'm just playing with you, baby,” he says.

Eric throws his arms around Sunwoo’s shoulders, he makes himself comfortable, and when he finally stops shifting, Sunwoo turns them back towards the computer.

As he's inputting his information to log in, he sees Eric looking around.

“Is that Jacob hyung's computer?” Eric asks.

Sunwoo hums positively.

He should have known Eric was up to no good with his innocent-sounding question.

“Why are we on your computer then?” Eric asks.

Sunwoo stops typing.

“I bet the stuff on his computer is way better than yours,” Eric finishes.

When Sunwoo glances at him, the pink-haired is grinning proudly, and Sunwoo can't even bring himself to be mad.

“Baby-” is all he can say, shaking his head in disbelief, before they both start laughing.

Eric leans his head on his shoulder, and stays still as Sunwoo searches up his latest work from the depths of his work computer.

“I'm just having trouble with some of the lyrics,” Sunwoo explains. “And with the beat, and… everything, actually.”

“Wow, are you that horrible at your job?”

Sunwoo makes a face at him as Eric bursts out laughing, and he's laughing so hard that Sunwoo has to hold him so he doesn't fall off his lap, because Eric has no sense of balance nor of direction and he's definitely throwing himself to the ground without Sunwoo's guidance.

Sunwoo finds that to be one more endearing thing about Eric, and he doesn’t mind feeling the painful strain in his muscles at the struggle of keeping Eric seated.

“Okay, producer Sunwoo Kim, let's hear it,” Eric says once he catches his breath.

Sunwoo rolls his eyes, but starts the song.

The beat he created fills the studio, and Sunwoo is all too aware of how terrible it sounds. It's different from everything he's ever produced, it lacks cohesiveness, it's all over the place and maybe that's why Sunwoo is so lost as to what to do with it. Maybe he should just delete the entire file and start over.

But then, he sees Eric's head bumping along to the non-existent beat, lips mumbling the lyrics he doesn't know. Sunwoo raises an eyebrow, but Eric is too focused on the song to care.

When the song ends, then Eric finally looks at Sunwoo, eyes wide and excited.

“Are you sure you produced this?” Eric asks. “It's way too good for what you can do.”

“Shut up,” Sunwoo groans in annoyance, and hides his head into the crook of Eric's shoulder.

He takes a deep breath in, and pretends the smell of alcohol is making him drunk.

“But I'm serious!” Eric exclaims. “Download me the file on my phone right now, please, I'll do anything!”

Sunwoo rolls his eyes. “Suck my dick,” he grumbles.

“Gladly.”

“That was a joke.”

“I wasn't joking,” Eric bites back. “I need to have this song on loop for the rest of my life! Your singing could use a bit of work, though.”

“Are we done with the Sunwoo slander?”

“Do you hear yourself?” Eric gasps like he's offended. “You're being the first leader of the Sunwoo slander movement right fucking now.”

Sunwoo snorts, but apparently Eric isn't done speaking.

The younger tears Sunwoo off his shoulder and stares straight into his eyes.

“You can't keep downgrading yourself and your work when your songs are this good, Sunny,” Eric says, angrily at first, then easing his tone a little. “Sometimes even the technically better songs don't win any awards, you know? At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what the critics say, what matters is what the public thinks of it.”

Eric gently traces along Sunwoo's jaw with his fingers, and finishes by placing his hands on the back of Sunwoo's head, fingers tangling with his hair.

“So right now I'm your public, and I'm telling you, I would gladly listen to that song even outside of my boyfriend duties.”

Sunwoo can't help but chuckle.

“You're amazing,” Sunwoo smiles at Eric.

“Sing it or it sounds weird,” Eric teases.

Sunwoo rolls his eyes, but complies. “Baby~ you are~ ama~zing!” he sings.

The younger laughs and leans in to rest his forehead against Sunwoo's.

“I love you,” Eric grins.

And even though it's not the first time, Sunwoo still feels butterflies erupting in his stomach at the confession.

“I love you,” he says it back without hesitating.

It's nearly five in the morning and they kiss, hidden from the world into Sunwoo's cramped and poorly-lit studio.

 

 

The music at the bar is still as terrible as it was the first time, and Sunwoo still can't understand what Eric likes about it. Oddly, Sunwoo discovers that Eric is not the only person who enjoys the music, and it makes him realize that maybe those horrible songs aren't as bad as Sunwoo thought, because there's a public to listen to it. It's not Sunwoo's cup of tea, but it reaches other people, and ultimately, that's the goal of every producer, including himself.

Sunwoo is sat at the bar, a cherry pink cocktail on the counter in front of him.

He's mostly there to keep Eric company on this boring Wednesday night, but he's also there to celebrate the end of the project he's worked on for months at the company. He's submitted his collection of songs in the morning, headed back home to Eric in the afternoon, and Eric had suggested Sunwoo came along to the bar to drink a little, and celebrate.

Jacob is there too, because he has been a part of the project as well, and Eric thought it would be a good idea to invite him. Sunwoo knows it's not Jacob's kind of thing, but Jacob had accepted the couple's invitation anyway. And he brought his boyfriend Juyeon along, meaning there is a little bunch of them hanging out together at the bar.

Eric is busy serving the few customers left in the place, and Sunwoo chats comfortably with Jacob and Juyeon over their drinks. There's Jaehyun and Haknyeon next to them, and Sunwoo is given the awkward task of introducing his friends to them. Jacob and Juyeon are on the shy side, but still polite, and Jaehyun and Haknyeon are overly friendly, but it works, and soon Sunwoo almost forgets that his own boyfriend isn't with them.

“We’ll head home now,” Jacob suddenly announces, and the half-drunk Juyeon next to him only nods, and removes his arm from around Jacob to let the older man get up from his stool.

Sunwoo turns to him with a nod. “Good night hyung,” he says, just as Jacob reaches to hug him.

“It was nice meeting you guys,” Jacob tells the couple. Juyeon repeats a similar comment.

Jaehyun is maybe a little drunk, and so he pats Jacob's head a little strongly. “Nice work Jacob,” he stutters, as what Sunwoo assumes is a last congratulations on Jacob’s work.

Jacob laughs at the clumsy gesture, and thanks him. Jaehyun moves on to Juyeon. “Good night man.”

Juyeon greets him back, just as Jacob is giving Haknyeon a side hug, and then they’re both leaving the bar, hand in hand.

“Hyung,” Haknyeon suddenly jumps to his feet, pulling Jaehyun with him. “Let's go dance!”

Jaehyun grins, and wraps an arm around Haknyeon's waist. It's half a show of possessiveness, and half a way to keep himself balanced on his feet. Jaehyun plants a sloppy kiss to Haknyeon's cheek, and they stumble away to the small dancing area that's been empty for a long while at this hour.

Sunwoo watches them giggle into each other's arms, dancing clumsily but still having the time of their life, and then he turns around, eyes quickly finding Eric who's busy delivering a round of shots to a table at the back of the bar.

Eric comes back with his empty tray, and Sunwoo realizes he's the only person left at the counter.

Eric is on the other side of it, but he makes his way over to Sunwoo. The bartender rests both arms onto the counter, and he leans forward.

“Can I get anything for you, pretty boy?” he asks, smiling.

Sunwoo smiles back, and uses a hand to tuck Eric's hair behind his ear.

“A kiss would be nice,” he mumbles, just loud enough to be heard over the music.

Eric grins. “As you wish.”

The younger leans in, and Sunwoo keeps his hand there to hold the side of his boyfriend’s head when Eric kisses him softly.

It doesn't stay innocent for long, not when Eric licks over Sunwoo's lips, deepening the kiss in a tender way, and then Eric pulls away slowly, biting back a smile.

“Trying to get drunk on the job?” Sunwoo teases.

Eric hums with a smile. "Can’t help it,” he steals a peck from Sunwoo’s lips. “You taste so good.”

Sunwoo chuckles. “It's your special drink,” he gestures at the empty cherry pink cocktail next to him.

It's Eric's turn to laugh, and the boy retreats to his own side of the bar, but he places a hand over Sunwoo's on the counter.

They stare into each other for a while under the dark lights of the bar, and Eric has never looked more stunning. Sunwoo’s heart aches from how much he loves the pink-haired boy.

“I'm proud of you,” Eric says.

Sunwoo smiles. He turns his hand around so that his palms is facing upwards, and he’s able to intertwine his fingers with Eric’s. “I know,” he stares into Eric’s eyes, nothing but love flowing between them. “Thank you.”

And those last two words mean more than Eric could ever imagine.

 

 

Eric's shift ends around half an hour later.

They walk into the street, following behind the stumbling duo that is Jaehyun and Haknyeon. Haknyeon lives in the same building as Sunwoo does, and Eric and him are simply making sure that both of Eric’s friends get home safe.

Eric is the one who finds Haknyeon's keys in the boy's pockets when he's too drunk to do so himself, and he unlocks the door of the apartment for the couple.

“Stay safe, you two,” Eric says as he usher the couple inside, Jaehyun tripping over his own feet and almost landing on the floor. Haknyeon follows, and Jaehyun miraculously manages to catch him right before he falls, Haknyeon’s head hiding into Jaehyun’s chest with a giggle as the older’s arm wraps securely around his waist.

Jaehyun sends Eric a thumbs up, and the door closes in Eric's face.

Sunwoo laughs, and tugs Eric back to the elevator, and all the way to his apartment.

They barely take the time to take their shoes and jackets off, and they drop onto the couch.

It's a little habit of theirs now, to come back home after work and take some time to just cuddle on the couch, and do nothing else for a while, except exchange gentle touches and fluttering kisses.

Eric lays on his back, and Sunwoo has his head on his stomach as he hugs the younger's waist.

Eric always smells of alcohol, but now Sunwoo does too, and their scents mix together in a comforting perfume.

Sometimes they fall asleep like that, on the couch, fully clothed, but that's not happening tonight. Not when Sunwoo is perfectly positioned to hear Eric's stomach grumble in hunger.

“Baby,” Sunwoo says, fingers brushing Eric's sides under his shirt.

“That's me,” Eric lets out a small giggle as Sunwoo gently tickles him.

Sunwoo lifts Eric’s shirt up just a little, and he presses soft kisses to the boy’s stomach.

“You’re hungry,” he mumbles, as if Eric hasn’t realized that himself.

Eric whines lazily. “Let's just order in.” He pouts. “Wanna cuddle.”

“It's four am,” Sunwoo chuckles, making his way up so that he’s face to face with Eric. “We can cook something.”

“We?” Eric protests. “I can't cook. You do it.”

“Why me?” Sunwoo raises an eyebrow. “You're the hungry one. I could just go to sleep.”

Eric raises a closed fist next to their heads, and cocks an eyebrow. “Rock paper scissors. Loser cooks for both of us, because I can hear the monster in your stomach from all the way here.”

Sunwoo accepts the challenge, and raises his fist right next to Eric’s. He bumps their knuckles together.

“Rock.”

“Paper.”

“Scissors!”

Eric lets out a cry.

“Sunwoo, please,” he whines, but Sunwoo smirks, and wraps his paper fingers around Eric’s rock closed fist.

“You lost,” he can’t hold back a proud grin, staring at Eric’s baffled expression. “I want my eggs soft boiled and my ramen extra spicy, babe,” he winks.

Eric pouts, and squirms his way out of Sunwoo's hold. Sunwoo sits up on the couch and watches as his boyfriend walks to the kitchen. And stops dead in his tracks. And turns back towards him, arms crossed over his chest.

“Before we sleep, we also have to clean the bathroom because someone left their whole skincare routine out last night,” Eric declares, glaring at Sunwoo.

“Okay,” Sunwoo agrees.

Eric looks at him, confused. “Okay?” he asks. “So you're just gonna do it and not complain?”

“I never said that,” Sunwoo says, and rises a closed fist.

“No,” Eric shakes his head, “nope, no chance. Your mess, you clean,” he points an accusing finger at Sunwoo.

Sunwoo gets up on his feet, but keeps his first closed. “You're scared to lose?” he challenges.

“You're so annoying,” Eric rolls his eyes. “Rock.”

“Paper.”

"Scissors."

“Ha!” Eric exclaims triumphantly. He pads over to Sunwoo, teasingly sticking his tongue out at him. “Loser.”

Sunwoo groans, and Eric simply laughs at him.

“Oh, babe,” Eric teases, “I'm expecting that bathroom sparkly clean! Not a speck of dust!”

Sunwoo glares at him. “And I expect my eggs actually cooked and in my plate, preferably.”

“Well, we’re both allowed to have unrealistic expectations, can’t we?” Eric giggles.

“Yeah, maybe we should just wait for delivery to open, I don't wanna risk getting food poisoning.”

They bicker some more, but they're barely listening to each other at that point because all they do is laugh at each other.

Until, they both pause at the same time.

Sunwoo eyes Eric, and the look Eric sends him back lets him know that they’re on the same page.

Eric sighs. “Fine, I'll clean.”

Sunwoo nods. “I'll cook.”

He kisses the tip of Eric's nose, and heads to the kitchen.

He hadn't even realized how hungry he had been, too focused on Eric's well-being first to pay attention to himself.

Cooking doesn't take him very long, but Sunwoo makes sure to do it well, just like how he knows Eric likes.

When he's done, he goes to get Eric. The younger is still in the bathroom when Sunwoo leans onto the door frame.

He doesn't say anything, and just smiles as he watches Eric getting frustrated over the mess he's finding in the drawers. He thinks it's cute, the way Eric mumbles to himself while he tries to rearrange Sunwoo's mess.

Eric finally notices his presence. Sunwoo doesn't say anything, he just smiles a little wider and admires just how good Eric looks under the neon lights.

“What?” Eric asks, crossing his arms over his chest the same way Sunwoo has his.

“You're adorable,” Sunwoo smiles. “But the food's ready, so if you wanna-”

He can't finish his sentence that Eric is crossing the small distance between them and shuts him up with a kiss.

Sunwoo is caught off guard, but he doesn’t waste a second before he wraps his arms around the pink-haired boy, and hugs him impossibly close, like he’s afraid of losing him.

And maybe he is, because Eric feels like a fever dream, like something that the Sunwoo of a few months ago would have never imagined would happen to him. But the world he stepped in the second Sangyeon let him in that bar has introduced him to things that, at that time, he didn’t think were possible for him anymore.

Eric is his anchor and his muse, his inspiration and his shoulder to lean on.

“Say that again,” Eric mumbles dreamily against his lips, his arms thrown around the back of Sunwoo’s neck.

“Hm?” Sunwoo tilts his head.

Eric looks at him like Sunwoo’s the greatest wonder of the world, but to Sunwoo, it’s the other way around.

“You’re the best thing that could have happened to me,” he says, and Eric smiles contentedly, and he’s so beautiful that it’s so easy for Sunwoo to continue, showering Eric in pretty words, words that he wouldn’t even have been able to make up in his head a few months back.

Without much effort, he lifts Eric from the floor, the other clinging to him and letting Sunwoo carry him to the kitchen, where they can smell Sunwoo’s cooking.

“Sometimes I ask myself how a pink creature like you can be real,” Sunwoo smiles to himself as he serves them their food on the kitchen island.

“But you’re real, and you’re choosing to date me, and-”

He can’t finish his sentence, because now the emotions are too much, all the words he wants to say wanting to come out at the same time, and he doesn’t know which ones he wants to say first.

Now, Sunwoo’s got too many feelings, too many unwritten lyrics awakening in his mind, and he’s got a heart that’s beating louder than it has ever beaten.

No matter what happens next, Sunwoo’s going to write a thousand songs. And it will all be thanks to the pink creature that he can now proudly call his boyfriend.