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But I'm Sure You Can Change My Mind

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AU Background and Characters

 

Background : Fashion and Sport Magazine Office (the two offices were located in the same floor)

* Gentlefolk (High-End Sport Magazine) >> Glitterati Building  #11F, Right Corner

* Haut Monde (High-End Fashion Magazine) >> Glitterati Building  #11F, Left Corner

 

Characters List and Positions in the Company

Jaehyun            : Haut Monde Features Editor 

Juyeon              : Gentlefolk Features Editor 

 

Sangyeon          : Gentlefolk Editor in Chief 

Younghoon       : Haut Monde Editor in Chief 

 

Jacob                : Gentlefolk Owner

Kevin                : Haut Monde Owner

 

Chanhee           : Haut Monde Art Director 

Changmin         : Haut Monde Advertising Executive 

 

Haknyeon         : Gentlefolk Advertising Executive 

Sunwoo            : Gentlefolk Art Director 

Youngjae          : Gentlefolk Digital Director 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

01 – The Satanic Ritual

 

 

NEEDED – Model to pose for a Fashionable Satanic Ritual

If you think you look like Satan, apply to Haut Monde Magazine Studio, Glitterati Building  #11F

CP. Lee Jaehyun Choi Chanhee

 

 

***

 

 

“Are you it?” Jaehyun eyed Juyeon up and down in a raised mocking brow.

 

Juyeon had to bite his spiteful remark for the sake of the transparent glass walls that divided Younghoon’s office to Jaehyun’s office and also the rest of the working space area. He did not want Younghoon to see frowns -especially coming from Juyeon himself, in the morning. So Juyeon hissed through gritted teeth and fake an eye smile, “What do you fucking mean?”

 

“Our poster,” but of course Lee fucking Jaehyun had to sneer like the psychopath he was -snickering to an inside jokes, all by himself.

 

Juyeon could never.

 

“Whatever-“

 

“I mean, you do look like it,” Jaehyun continued, stopping Juyeon from entering Younghoon’s office, “Chanhee’s department is that way,” he then pointed toward Chanhee’s desk as the said man was busy glaring at Youngjae who laughed maniacally at Chanhee.

 

Juyeon frowned because really, weren’t Youngjae supposed to leave for a meeting since twenty minutes ago?

 

“Well I have no business with your Art Director-“

 

“Chanhee,” Jaehyun corrected obnoxiously, “Why are you talking like you don’t know him?”

 

“Fuck off Jaehyun-“

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

Juyeon freezed in his spot when his voice overlapped with Younghoon’s whom apparently now standing at his opened office door to look for Jaehyun.

 

Fuck.

 

Jaehyun smiled gleefully at Younghoon, “Hi there.”

 

Younghoon gave Jaehyun a small smile before turning toward Juyeon, “Hello Juyeon. How are you this morning?”

 

Juyeon gaped, closed his flabbergasted lips before blinking at Younghoon’s sweet and soft greeting, “I- um, I- um, um- well um-“

 

Jaehyun snorted loudly and it woke Juyeon up from his reverie where he and Younghoon ran around together holding hands, touching the grass to make sure they would live happily ever after.

 

Younghoon threw Jaehyun a warning look as the later rolled his eyes.

 

“Can we help you Juyeon?” Younghoon then asked again.

 

Juyeon cursed inwardly at how he hadn’t even been able to answer Younghoon’s earlier question. But of course Younghoon had to be oh so courteous and made sure Juyeon would never feel uncomfortable.

 

“Juyeon is looking to apply as a model for our next month corner,” Jaehyun announced in a very professional looking smile.

 

“What are you-“ Juyeon spluttered, looking back and forth between a confused looking -yet still absolutely handsome Younghoon, and corrupt looking Jaehyun.

 

“Which…one?” Younghoon tilted his head as he dragged the last word of his sentence.

 

“The Satanic Ritual.”

 

“The actual fuck?!” Juyeon was pretty sure he had lost his mind to be hissing and cursing in front of his delightful and gentle love at first sight, who was now sporting a frown directed at fucking Lee Jaehyun.

 

“Jaehyun I never heard of this corner,” Younghoon said dissaprovingly.

 

“Chanhee can explain,” Jaehyun offered as he turned his head to shout, “Chanhee!! Over here!!” for the whole office to hear.

 

Juyeon slammed his eyes shut at Jaehyun’s shrills. Everything Juyeon hated on a man, Lee Jaehyun had them all.

 

Jaehyun tapped his wrist impatiently as he watched Chanhee refused to walk faster toward him -walking with a sassy sway of hips instead, “Come on, come on,” Jaehyun tsked.

 

When Juyeon opened his eyes, he was met with Younghoon’s apologetic smile as the later mouthed apologies which was preposterous because if anything, it was Jaehyun who was at fault.

 

So Juyeon tried to ignore the burning feeling at the tip of his ears, biting the inside of his bottom lip as he shook his head slightly -peering at Younghoon’s benign smile through his lashes.

 

“What?” Chanhee tsked back at Jaehyun.

 

It reminded Jaehyun to make sure he mentioned workplace attitude later, on the team weekly meeting, “Can you please explain to Younghoon about your newest corner idea?”

 

“Well the fact that Kanye West doesn't even think about making his own-“

 

“Not that one~” Jaehyun said in a sing song.

 

“Then which one?” Chanhee frowned.

 

“The one where Juyeon is applying to be the model of,” Jaehyun said condescendingly.

 

“Jaehyun-“ Younghoon reprimanded.

 

“No!!” Juyeon whined -stopping himself before he would start to look like a child in front of Younghoon. Definitely not sexy. Today’s first point of learning, don’t whine. At least not in front of Younghoon.

 

“What are you-“ Chanhee raised a brow at Juyeon, crossing his arms in front of his chest as he took his time to judge Juyeon right in front of his face, “Oh, well.”

 

Juyeon had to take a deep breath because really, other than Younghoon, the people in Haut Monde Magazine were all jerk face. Maybe not Changmin, or the sometimes (all the time) hot headed Kevin, Chanhee was also not that bad-

 

Chanhee then interrupted Juyeon’s thoughts, “Well I did think -initially, the 365 days of masturbating article-“

 

Fuck Choi Chanhee.

 

Jaehyun laughed so loud and Juyeon felt like peeling the crinkling skin at the corner of Jaehyun’s eyes.

 

This time, Younghoon stepped out properly from his office and stood just one step further from right beside Juyeon, whom felt like a maiden that was being rescued by a noble from the street’s bandits.

 

“That’s not nice you two,” Younghoon sighed disapprovingly before turning around to look at Juyeon, “Juyeon I’m terribly sorry.”

 

“No!!” Juyeon was quick and blasting as he shook his hands in front of his chest -wincing a little because he knew he was being too loud, because even the loudest in this floor which was Jaehyun, furrowed his brows in annoyance.

 

But when Juyeon looked back at Younghoon (did Juyeon said already Younghoon was his sweet and tender love at first sight?), the later kept his facial features gentle and kind.

 

“Well, since I know now Jaehyun is talking nonsense,” Younghoon pointedly ignored Jaehyun’s round of protests, “Can I help you with something?”

 

“Right, right,” Juyeon cleared his throat, trying to remember the original reason -other than ogling Younghoon, coming to Haut Monde’s part of working space, “Jacob and Kevin are waiting for um, you and Sangyeon in the communal meeting area.”

 

Younghoon frowned at the information of a particular meeting with the respective owners of Haut Monde and Gentlefolk in public, “That doesn't sound very good.”

 

“It’s not,” Juyeon admitted in a grimace, “So um, if you can follow me.”

 

“Right, okay,” Younghoon closed his office door, “Let’s go. Oh, Chanhee, I really don't want any article about any satanic ritual-“

 

“A Fashionable Satanic Ritual,” Jaehyun corrected.

 

“Whatever that is-“

 

But Younghoon was interrupted by Chanhee who groaned -stomping his feet, “That is not my idea!! It’s Jaehyun’s!! He’s been pestering me to entertain the idea!! He even made Changmin printing posters looking for models for the article already-“

 

“The last time I saw, it was your name written as the contact person,” Jaehyun scoffed.

 

“Lee Jaehyun you piece of shit!!” Chanhee shrieked as he stormed off toward the said posters to probably tear them all down.

 

“You-“ Younghoon’s lips formed a thin line, “I’ll deal with you later.”

 

“I’ll come with you,” Jaehyun took a needed step to stand beside Younghoon.

 

“No thank you,” Juyeon smiled a scowl.

 

“Well, if you -Features Editor, is there along with your Editor in Chief, why wouldn't I be there to accompany my Editor in Chief as his Feature Editor?”

 

“Juyeon,” Younghoon called out softly, “Can Jaehyun come?”

 

“Yes, yeah, okay,” Juyeon agreed a hundred percent to Younghoon’s brilliant idea of bringing his own Feature Editor. Smart men were sure a different bred.

 

So Juyeon followed as Younghoon started to walk, ignoring Jaehyun’s mutters that sounded a lot like fucking teacher’s pet.

 

 

***

 

 

The thing was, Jacob and Kevin were an actual brothers related by blood, in which Jacob always made sure to let Kevin knew that he was the first born, and Kevin was nothing but a sloppy second -which didn't even make sense, but Jacob always said that the first born was always right anyway.

 

Jaehyun almost had a heart attack when he first got into Haut Monde so many years ago, after hearing that the owner of Haut Monde the ‘it’ fashion magazine -Kevin, was related by blood with Gentlefolk the ‘it’ sport magazine owner -Jacob.

 

And it was only because in Jaehyun’s first Monday Meeting, both had been squawking insults that Jaehyun didn't even know exist, as both clearly tried to rip the others apart.

 

One of the senior staff back then, had sighed and explained to Jaehyun that Jacob and Kevin had been fighting since they were little about who was daddy’s most favourite.

 

Jaehyun wouldn't judge. Hey, every family came with their own issues.

 

Honestly, for how much they hated each other and how much money they both made, it was only rational that they would think of an amazing idea like, maybe leasing an entirely different floor of office space for the two magazines, rather than having them in one massive floor, and shabbily separated it into left and right corner for each magazines, no matter how fancy the interior was.

 

Because really, Jacob and Kevin had both respectively named as part of 20’s most influential entrepreneurs in the country.

 

So now as Jaehyun sat beside Younghoon in one of the table in the communal area where Jacob and Kevin had been screaming their head off, Jaehyun came to a conclusion where both brothers just liked the kick they got from fighting each other.

 

Jaehyun glanced at Younghoon and felt like he really had to applaud his boss for the amazing patience and utter professionality, trying his best to hear both side and offered an input calmly despite the raging storm his boss’s boss had been bringing around them.

 

“It is such a disgrace,” Kevin bawled, “To be having investors over, and make them see how polluted your employees dress code is!!”

 

“What are we screaming about again?” Jaehyun whispered to Juyeon who sat at the table beside his and Younghoon’s.

 

The git had the guts to ignore him completely.

 

Jaehyun had to bite his spiteful remark for the sake of the close proximity he had with Sangyeon. He did not want Sangyeon to hear profanities -especially coming from Jaehyun himself, in the morning.

 

“It’s branded!!” Jacob screamed back.

 

“That doesn't make it less tacky!!”

 

“Fuck you!!”

 

“Excuse me!!“

 

“Guys,” Sangyeon started carefully only to be cut off by Jacob’s sharp glare, “I just-“

 

“He just called us tacky!!” Jacob shrilled, “Did you hear him?! Tell me that you heard him Sangyeon!!” Jacob demanded, voice so loud it rang through the entire floor.

 

Ah, Jaehyun nodded to himself. Office attire huh?

 

As someone who worked in one of the most famous magazine in the country, Jaehyun understood that there were some unspoken rules inside the office. One of them was to always make sure to dress properly. As dandy and shit hot as they could pull off. So mostly, the guys were always in their perfectly well pressed suit and tie, no matter which colour and or pattern.

 

Meanwhile, Gentlefolk was also indeed a high-end sport magazine, so Jaehyun could see why Jacob had given his own employees a more relaxed and sporty dress code with one rule. They had to be from a high-end brand.

 

What had happened then? Because there hadn’t been any problem of it until today.

 

So he asked Juyeon, “What happened?”

 

This time Juyeon closed his eyes and took a deep breath, as if talking to Jaehyun really took up his anger level to a certain notch.

 

“Just answer, you git,” Jaehyun hissed under his breath.

 

“If you only listen-“

 

“Well if I’m already doing that I wouldn't be here asking you.”

 

Jaehyun had the gallant to utter his words like Juyeon was so stupid.

 

Eh, what was the harm anyway. Jaehyun never really liked Juyeon enough, to make him want to waste his time trying to take care of Juyeon’s feelings.

 

Juyeon was poetically weird and awkward.

 

Shall he pity Juyeon instead then, Jaehyun had thought the first time he found out that he and Juyeon just didn't click. But recalling all of Juyeon’s glares and disdain every time he landed his eyes on Jaehyun, Jaehyun knew some things were never meant to be.

 

“Just because you bastards wear suits every day, doesn't mean you are better than us!!” Jacob pointed angry fingers at Kevin who then gasped in complete outrage.

 

Affronted, Kevin turned toward Younghoon trying to find some backup, “He just called us bastards!! Did you hear him?! Tell me that you heard him Younghoon!!”

 

Damn, even their sentence was similar. Jaehyun sighed and shook his head slightly, blood was indeed as thick as people had said.

 

“Yes Kevin,” Younghoon replied gently, “Calm down.”

 

“Calm down?! How dare you?!”

 

“Kevin you really need to stop screaming,” Juyeon quipped carefully.

 

“You’re taking Jacob’s side because you work for him!!” Kevin yelled his exasperation.

 

Kevin never been so wrong, Jaehyun scoffed internally.

 

Juyeon involved himself only because Kevin had yelled at Younghoon.

 

It was too obvious for Jaehyun to see.

 

As someone who worked closely to Younghoon, Jaehyun had the privilege to watch some people Younghoon had to deal with.

 

And Juyeon had unnecessarily spent more than half of his time working in Gentlefolk, to saunter around Younghoon -Haut Monde Editor in Chief, rather than taking care of Juyeon’s own Editor in Chief which was Sangyeon.

 

It amused him the first time Jaehyun entertained the idea of Juyeon having a crush on Jaehyun’s boss. But it had annoyed him to no end, when then blasphemous rumours about how he and Juyeon had been in a secret and loving relationship surfacing instead, because Juyeon did have to hover around Jaehyun’s office to be able to catch a pathetic glimpse at Younghoon’s own office, despite all the transparent glass walls.

 

Fucking Haknyeon and fucking Sunwoo and fucking Youngjae.

 

The trio dumb, dumber and dumbest had been enjoying blending themselves within Haut Monde’s staffs and spread such profane insanity.

 

He would rather be judged by the entire debate team from his high school (which they were all very mean yet accurate on their opinions), than to be involved in a ridiculous dating rumour with Juyeon.

 

Ew.

 

But if he really want to talk about dumb, then Jaehyun had to mention how Juyeon had insisted to play music from his personal playlist on spotify, for the whole floor to hear, for a whole week, in which consisted of specific love songs about pining and admiring from afar, and the perfection of love and how soulmates were always closer than one might think.

 

The playlist was named in an acronym, Jaehyun had checked back then when he sneaked toward Juyeon’s desk trying to hijack Juyeon’s spotify and ended the misery for the whole floor.

 

I.L.Y.S.M

 

Jaehyun snorted at the memory.

 

Maybe too loud that now he could feel everyone’s eyes on him.

 

Fuck.

 

“Ha!!” Jacob said in triumph, “Even Jaehyun agrees with me!!”

 

“What?” Jaehyun gulped dumbly.

 

His eyes caught Sangyeon’s tilt of head toward him.

 

Fuck.

 

Kevin slammed his palms a couple of times on the table -screaming profanities, before storming off towards his office.

 

Jacob yelled back and went to his own office, leaving him, Sangyeon, Younghoon, and Juyeon in total silence.

 

“Jaehyun,” Younghoon started with a clear of throat.

 

“Yes?”

 

“Do you really-“ Younghoon blinked, uncertainty lingered on his face.

 

“What?” Jaehyun whispered in horror, “What?”

 

Younghoon didn't have his chance to continue when Changmin showed up with concern on his face, “Younghoon?”

 

“Yes? Changmin can I help you?” Younghoon stood up.

 

“Um, someone is here,” Changmin frowned yet somehow enthusiastic at the same time.

 

“For me??”

 

“No. For Chanhee.”

 

“Then why are you looking for Younghoon?” Jaehyun impatiently clicked his tongue.

 

“Jaehyun,” this time it was Sangyeon’s turn to call out his name as a gentle reminder.

 

Jaehyun obediently went silent at it.

 

“This man with rippling abs painted in red, with horns in his forehead and nothing on his body except a black and -I must say, a very tight brief, keep saying he’s here for the modelling job.”

 

Jaehyun bit his lips to hide his mirth.

 

But Younghoon had turned to him with a warning look before assisting Changmin who looked way too excited about meeting a perfect picture of horror.

 

Juyeon watched Younghoon walked away and glowered at Jaehyun, “You’re unbelievable.”

 

“Says someone who named their spotify playlist ‘I Love Younghoon So Much’,” Jaehyun retorted under his breath in a mocking tone.

 

“That is not what the acronym means!!” Juyeon hissed as he looked back to see if Sangyeon had heard Jaehyun’s bold claim.

 

“Whatever,” Jaehyun waved his hand dismissively about to leave when Sangyeon stopped him.

 

“Jaehyun can we talk?”

 

“Yeah,” Jaehyun suddenly felt self-conscious on his appearance, wondering if there was any mirror kind of finishing so he could see if he looked presentable or not.

 

Jaehyun swallowed quietly when Juyeon then left him alone with Sangyeon. Sangyeon approached him with a tender smile, resting his back on the edge of Jaehyun’s table to face him.

 

The back of Jaehyun knees buckled.

 

No one could really blame him -Jaehyun defended himself inwardly, not when Sangyeon wore his Louis Vuitton watercolour giant monogram sweatshirt above his perfectly white collared shirt, and perfectly rolled up sleeves to just right below his elbows, and perfectly white shorts, and perfectly swept back hair.

 

Perfectly like a rich DILF who appeared in the school ground to support his son’s football game.

 

Didn't make sense because Sangyeon was single and didn't have any child, but Jaehyun stood by his points of opinion.

 

“Yes?” Jaehyun asked, confused whether he should hate or love the way his voice sounded meek in front of Sangyeon.

 

“Are you doing okay?”

 

“What?” Jaehyun finally dared himself to look up at Sangyeon who was watching him fondly, almost spluttered at the look Sangyeon gave him.

 

“Are you doing fine with everything?”

 

“Well yes,” Jaehyun whined, bottom lip jutting out a little as he chewed on the inside of it, “What do you mean?”

 

“Nothing,” Sangyeon answered him with such indulgence it made Jaehyun cowered in his feelings for his former senior back in college.

 

“Then why?”

 

“I just want to know if you’re holding up well.”

 

“I’ve been working here for years now,” Jaehyun protested childishly, “I can remind you that.”

 

“I know,” Sangyeon chuckled softly, “Well-“

 

“Does this have anything to do with what Younghoon about to ask me earlier?”

 

“Do you really not realize what you were agreeing with, with Jacob?”

 

Jaehyun felt embarrassed to be confessing that he hadn’t been paying any attention in front of his respectable senior ever since college year. So he just flinched a little as a sign of agreement.

 

“It’s okay,” and of course Sangyeon had to pat the top of Jaehyun’s head in a careful motion in order not to ruin Jaehyun’s perfectly styled up hair.

 

Jaehyun protested once -so long ago, when Sangyeon recklessly -rather if Jaehyun could brag, adoringly, messed Jaehyun’s hair with a doting beam on his face.

 

Jaehyun’s objections back then were weak and full of hopes with the idea that love was always supposed to be requited-

 

“You don't have to mind it,” Sangyeon had continued, straightened himself up and squeezed Jaehyun’s upper arm as a goodbye before leaving toward Gentlefolk part of the office floor.

 

It wasn't fair, Jaehyun thought to himself as he watched Sangyeon grinning -putting his arm around Youngjae’s shoulder playfully, Jaehyun was supposed to work in Gentlefolk. It was supposed to be him having Sangyeon’s arm circling around his shoulder.

 

It wasn't fair, Jaehyun put his head down to stare at the fancy floor tiles. He was supposed to be working right under Sangyeon’s wings as he had wished back when he studied his ass off in college, making sure to get those straight A’s.

 

It wasn’t fair, Jaehyun clenched his fists as he tried his best to calm his erratic heart, for they had been dancing amorously for Sangyeon and Sangyeon only.

 

The earth had turned nine times around the sun, and Jaehyun’s heart never wanted someone else other than Sangyeon.

 

Yet the one question Jaehyun had been dying to ask Sangyeon, had been frozen still at the tip of his tongue. On whether it was the same for-

 

Fingers snapping right in front of his face made Jaehyun looked up.

 

Juyeon was watching him with a raised brow.

 

Lee fucking Juyeon, who interviewed in the same day as him, yet get the job at Gentlefolk instead of Jaehyun who had been working so hard for it.

 

“What?” Jaehyun barked.

 

“Is it the same for you too?” Juyeon asked in a scoff.

 

Jaehyun felt his frame stiffening as his spine went rigid when Juyeon spelled the question he had been wanting to ask Sangyeon for the longest time.

 

“What?” this time Jaehyun’s voice was barely above a whisper.

 

“Jacob said suit and ties are specifically made for twats,” Juyeon shrugged nonchalantly.

 

“What?” Jaehyun’s hissed between his teeth, “He’s such a tosser!!”

 

“Back at you,” Juyeon faked concerns on his face, “Since you agree with him and what not.”

 

“Fuck you.”

 

“Back at you Jaehyun. Back at you.”

 

 

***

 

 

“Changmin please at least pretend you’re not excited,” Chanhee’s furrow of brows was a clear indication of the disgust he had right now.

 

“What do you mean?” Changmin probably thought he had sounded and looked insulted, but his tone and expression was as bright as Chanhee’s skin when he was having them in a really good condition.

 

“The love affair you have with anything remotely horror disgust me.”

 

“It’s not like that,” Changmin protested, still with a huge and shy smile on his face, “I mean, he looks okay and his abs is good and-“

 

“Don’t lie,” Haknyeon appeared beside them, eyeing with too much interest at the man who had been trying his best this morning to tell the reception that Haut Monde had been indeed looking for a model for some fashionable satanic ritual, “We know it's the horns that got you hot.”

 

Chanmin squeaks, sounding too delightful for someone who claimed otherwise as he hit Haknyeon’s upper arm playfully.

 

“Is that your kink?” Haknyeon asked under a hum.

 

“Ew,” Chanhee waved his hand in front of Haknyeon’s face, “Please refrain yourself from talking about anything sexual in this part of the office. We’ve been knew that Gentlefolk is consisted of brutes, but Haut Monde is a respectable-“

 

“Chanhee!!” Sunwoo shouted from the printing stations, “I need to use some printer!! How many copies are you making exactly for this ‘Best Lovehoney Butt Tingler’ article??!!”

 

Chanhee gasped, aghast, pointing fingers at Haknyeon’s teasing smirk, “Don’t look at me like that!!” storming off toward Sunwoo.

 

“Well maybe not a yes,” Changmin sighed, “But not a no either.”

 

“What do you mean?” Haknyeon raised a brow.

 

“You asked about my kink?” Changmin shrugged.

 

Haknyeon laughed as he put both of his hands inside his Christian Dior anorak front pocket, “We can explore-“

 

“No, thank you,” Changmin scoffed putting his right hand up, “You said that to Chanhee a week ago.”

 

“Well that was a week ago.”

 

“You asked me the same thing a month ago.”

 

“Well that was a month ago.”

 

“I heard you asked Sunwoo the same thing two months and three weeks ago.”

 

“Well that was two months and three weeks ago,” Haknyeon just couldn't see the point of this.

 

Changmin bit his lips to keep himself from grinning, “Flirt,” he clicked his tongue before crossing his arms in front of his chest and leave toward his desk.

 

“Hey-“

 

“Really?” Haknyeon groaned at Youngjae who just tapped his shoulder.

 

“What?” Youngjae blinked innocently.

 

“Aren’t you supposed to leave for a meeting since like two hours ago?”

 

“Haknyeon do you hear yourself?” Youngjae rolled his eyes, “Mind you, as Gentlefolk’s very own Digital Director, everything I do is digital.”

 

Haknyeon opened his lips and didn't have his chance to say anything back before Youngjae patted his chest twice -shaking his head, “Your age is showing. Even Sangyeon doesn't act like baby boomers.”

 

“But-“

 

“You know, I just helped getting a package for Chanhee from the reception, and inside is lots of Butt Tingler-“

 

“You opened Chanhee’s package?!”

 

“Of course!!”

 

“What do you mean of course?!!” Haknyeon screeched, “Chanhee will and can kill you!!”

 

“I get the privilege to open a package if I’m helping receiving it!!”

 

“What?”

 

“What?”

 

“What?” Sunwoo joined with a blank look on his face -stacks of papers in his hands, “What are we talking about?”

 

“You guys sounds so dumb,” Jaehyun heaved as he passed by.

 

“Hey!!” the three complained loudly, voice overlapping each other.

 

Jaehyun sighed and turned around, “You lot need to stop hanging around here so much,” he meant in Haut Monde part of the office floor, “Don’t you have jobs to do?”

 

“Speak for yourself,” Youngjae scoffed mockingly, “We lost count on just how much you walk back and forth to our part of the office to see your boyfriend.”

 

“Juyeon is not my boyfriend!!” Jaehyun screamed with stomps of feet.

 

“We never said who,” Sunwoo sneered.

 

“It’s ridiculous just how much we see you in Gentlefolk Jaehyun. For so many years,” Haknyeon cackled -high fiving Sunwoo in the process as the latter let out an all teeth grin.

 

“Don’t exaggerate,” Jaehyun’s eyes busy running around the office, making sure Sangyeon wasn't somehow around to hear this half-baked conversation, “I don't visit your office that much-“

 

“Yes you do,” Sunwoo jibed, “It’s hard not to notice you and your suit in our office.”

 

“You stand out like a sore thumb,” Haknyeon snorted, “I can’t believe you and Juyeon lasted this long-“

 

“Fuck off!!”

 

 

***

 

 

Jahyun pasted the last spread prints Chanhee had given him this evening on the white board.

 

A frown formed in his forehead when he spotted too many ads as he looked at the overall initial spreads for next month’s issue.

 

“I’m leaving,” Changmin’s head showed up at the glass door, “Bye~”

 

“Changmin-“

 

“No~ Jaehyun,” Changmin wailed, “Why? Just why when I’m this close to getting home? Why can’t you just ask me before? Why now? Why now?”

 

“Stop being dramatic.”

 

“Because you’re the only one allowed acting dramatic in this office,” Changmin huffed but went inside the huge meeting room anyway.

 

“Exactly,” Jaehyun pointed at the white board, “There’s too many ads.”

 

“How-“ Changmin wheezed woundedly, “You’re talking to me, Haut Monde Advertising Executive-“

 

“Changmin-“

 

“It’s my job!! I bring money to this company!!”

 

Jaehyun looked on unimpressed, “Talk to Chanhee if you want to keep them all and try not to make it too obvious.”

 

Changmin grumbled when their conversation was cut short by a knock on the glass door.

 

“Hi Jaehyun, Changmin,” Younghoon greeted softly, “Are you guys not going home yet?”

 

“Well I am now,” Changmin huffed as he walked out.

 

“I’ll finish up a little,” Jaehyun looked at his watch that showed him it was past ten in the evening already.

 

“Jaehyun can we talk?” Younghoon stood straight on his feet, putting both of his hands behind him as he gave Jaehyun a tight lipped smile.

 

Jaehyun blinked, “Sure. Yeah,” following Younghoon who pulled a chair and sat himself down. Jaehyun pulled one near Younghoon’s, “Is everything okay?”

 

His eyes caught the dim lighted office outside the meeting room he was in. Almost everyone went home when the clock struck six, and Jaehyun could only spot some of his colleagues and some Gentlefolk staff burying their heads on their desk probably trying to finish up deadlines.

 

“I was wondering if,” Younghoon started -snapping Jaehyun’s mind back to the conversation he was about to have with Younghoon, “You’ve been struggling.”

 

“What?” Jaehyun gaped. That came out of nowhere, “I don't understand.”

 

“Jaehyun, if you want, I can make some adjustment.”

 

“For what?”

 

“We know that you originally applied for Gentlefolk.”

 

“And?” Jaehyun stopped himself from voicing out his confusion, “Is this about what happened this morning?”

 

“It’s just-“

 

“Younghoon it’s absurd,” Jaehyun pointed deadpanned, “First of all, I wasn’t even listening to the conversation when somehow Jacob thought I took his side. And really, it doesn't make any sense for you to make a conclusion I’m struggling working in Haut Monde, just because some insignificant misunderstanding.”

 

Younghoon stayed quiet, listening to him calmly and Jaehyun sighed.

 

“Does Kevin told you to fire me?”

 

“Nonsense,” Younghoon let out an amused chuckle, “Kevin adores you so much.”

 

“Well? Is it you who wants to get rid of me?”

 

“I like you so much too,” Younghoon didn't even miss a beat as he said this.

 

“So why?? Why is everyone suddenly think I’m having a hard time, just because I accidentally snorted when Jacob said suits are specifically made for twats??”

 

“Jaehyun,” Younghoon called his name softly.

 

“What?”

 

“Why did you agree when we decided to accept you into the company, yet put you in Haut Monde instead of Gentlefolk like you wanted in the first place?”

 

“You’re asking me this now?” Jaehyun raised his brows indifferently.

 

“Well, if you don't mind me asking.”

 

Younghoon was too good for his own sake, accepting every single one of Jaehyun’s outbursts with an encouraging small smile.

 

But Jaehyun couldn't give Younghoon his truth. That would mean confessing to someone else, about the feelings he had been harbouring for Sangyeon for the longest time now.

 

Because maybe it was shallow of him to think he couldn't get that disappointed when he knew Haut Monde worked closely with Gentlefolk, close to where Sangyeon was.

 

Jaehyun didn't enter his double degree program in college for communications and journalism because of Sangyeon.

 

He only knew Sangyeon when he entered college anyway, so easy on spotting and recognizing Sangyeon as his senior was literally the whole campus favourite with all of his grades, achievements, charming personality and what not.

 

So maybe, applying to Gentlefolk had something to do with Sangyeon. So what?

 

So maybe, accepting the fact that he was accepted for Haut Monde instead, had to do with Jaehyun’s personal thoughts on ‘it doesn't matter as long as I can see Sangyeon almost every day.’ So what?

 

It didn't make it seem fair still for him until now. Jaehyun still had his resentment. But that didn't mean he didn't like working in Haut Monde.

 

“Listen Younghoon,” Jaehyun didn't think Younghoon deserved to be lied to, so he decided not to answer instead, “I love it here. It’s fun and adventurous and I have learned so much -which I’m sure will still be learning even in the future, since my first day of work.”

 

Youghoon nodded gently, listening to him quietly.

 

“I promise I will tell you like I always do, when I’m having it hard. But please don't take my accidental snort to an insult about our office attire…fuck,” Jaehyun slammed his eyes shut at how ridiculous everything was, “As a sign that I wanted to quit.”

 

“I understand,” Younghoon reached out to pat his upper arm softly, “Thank you so much for sharing with me.”

 

“Yeah, anytime,” Jaehyun loosened up his tie to let himself breathe a little better.

 

“Go home Jaehyun. I like that you work hard, but don't overwork yourself,” Younghoon said getting up from his seat as he then pointed at the white board, “That is not even due until next week.”

 

“I know. I’ll clean up after this.”

 

“Thank you Jaehyun,” Younghoon bid his goodbye and went out.

 

Jaehyun ran a hand through his face and let his fingers ran through his gelled hair. Clenching his eyes shut, Jaehyun huffed out loud and should really think about his future decisions on not paying attention in a meeting, no matter how pointless the topic was.

 

When his fingers hovered above a report Chanhee had left for him to read on top of the table, his eyes caught Sangyeon who was walking toward the shared pantry between the two offices.

 

“Is he here still?” Jaehyun murmured, steps faltering, couldn't really decide whether he should approach Sangyeon or not.

 

Stumbling on his feet, Jaehyun took long strides toward the massive and lavish pantry, hoping to catch Sangyeon and maybe offered late dinner? Or dessert, or just, going back home together, or maybe-

 

“How is Jaehyun?”

 

Jaehyun’s stopped dead in his tracks and hid behind a partition wall adorned in geometrical pattern wallpaper in emerald and gold colours.

 

That was Sangyeon’s voice.

 

“Did you talk to him?” Sangyeon asked again.

 

Jaehyun could only guess he was talking to Younghoon.

 

“I did just now.”

 

He was right. Sangyeon was talking to Younghoon.

 

“How is he?”

 

And Jaehyun hated the way he could trace worries underneath Sangyeon’s tone. How it made his heart singing a love song so sweet it made Jaehyun’s stomach churned.

 

He hated that Sangyeon thought he still need to worry about Jaehyun even after they finished college.

 

“It’s nothing,” Younghoon explained softly, “I think it was a misunderstanding from his side, and maybe we read into it too much after what Juyeon had said.”

 

Come again? Jaehyun frowned.

 

What did Juyeon exactly had said to Younghoon and Sangyeon that they thought Jaehyun had it rough in Haut Monde?

 

“Please take care of him well,” Sangyeon had said.

 

Jaehyun’s heart skipped a beat. So clumsy.

 

“Your favourite,” Younghoon chuckled quietly, sounding fond.

 

“He is,” and Sangyeon answered in the same sentiment.

 

Jaehyun’s heart was crawling up his throat, blindly trying to reach out to whom it craved the most, wanting to settle itself inside another’s place other than Jaehyun’s. Maybe Sangyeon’s. Jaehyun would love it to be Sangyeon’s.

 

“I’ll ask Juyeon tomorrow if you want me to confirm more about this.”

 

“No it’s okay,” Younghoon refused politely, “I trust Jaehyun and what he said to me.”

 

Just what was it that Lee fucking Juyeon-

 

Oh, Jaehyun squinted as his lips formed a thin line, speak of the devil.

 

Jaehyun ran as soon as he saw Juyeon entering the elevator with his bag ready to go home. His hand quickly stopped the elevator door as he got inside, glaring at Juyeon who seemed surprised at his sudden arrival.

 

Juyeon said nothing and Jaehyun took a deep breath as the elevator went down.

 

“What the fuck did you say to Sangyeon and Younghoon?” Jaehyun was not going to start nice.

 

“I don't get what you mean,” Juyeon furrowed his brows, still not looking at Jaehyun.

 

“They’ve been pestering me all day thinking I have a hard time working in Haut Monde.”

 

“Aren’t you?” Juyeon said a matter of factly.

 

Jaehyun bristled at the tone, “Who the fuck do you think you are to be thinking that you know what and how I feel?!”

 

Juyeon finally looked back at him in annoyance, “I stated facts.”

 

“You know nothing about me.”

 

“I don't want to either,” Juyeon shrugged indifferently, “But I know you have been wanting to move to Gentlefolk.”

 

Jaehyun laughed hysterically.

 

It ticked Juyeon off, and Jaehyun could see it clearly in his face.

 

“You told me that yourself,” Juyeon sneered tauntingly.

 

“Are you high?” Jaehyun clenched his fist, eyes widening in disbelief.

 

“Were you?” Juyeon eyed Jaehyun up and down, “When you told me two weeks ago right in front of the supply room, that I wouldn't know how lucky I am to be accepted in Gentlefolk, when it should have been you instead?”

 

Jaehyun badly wanted to deny Juyeon’s claim, but he remembered.

 

“Were you high, when you snidely said that I didn't deserve my position because you were somehow,” Juyeon derided, “The best fit for Gentlefolk and I should resign before I humiliate myself more?”

 

Jaehyun remembered.

 

“Were you high-“

 

“Enough-“

 

“When you told me I could’ve never done a better job than you, even when I tried my best,” Juyeon hissed through gritted teeth.

 

The elevator dinged and Juyeon walked out as soon as it opened.

 

Jaehyun stood frozen in his place because he remembered.

 

He hadn’t been very nice that day. Hadn’t been his gracious self that day. Remembering that he had been taking it all out on Juyeon that day.

 

“Are you getting out?” someone asked him from outside the elevator.

 

“No, um, no,” Jaehyun rubbed the back of his neck that had been burning, “I’m going up.”

 

Jaehyun took a step back as some people started to get inside the elevator, looking a lot more relaxed with their rolled sleeved white shirt and loosened tie. Some were bringing cup of coffee in their hand, talking to a friend as it seemed like they were planning on staying in the office to reach their deadlines.

 

Punching his floor number, Jaehyun waited with a silent heaving breaths. He had to talk to Younghoon and explained that he wasn’t-

 

When the elevator arrived on his floor, Jaehyun was immediately met with Sangyeon who looked like he was waiting for an elevator himself.

 

“Jaehyun?” Sangyeon blinked, “I thought you went home already.”

 

Jaehyun got out of the elevator and stood in front of Sangyeon, “Can we talk?”

 

“Sure. Of course,” Sangyeon rubbed Jaehyun’s back soothingly.

 

Jaehyun tried his best not to shiver and let frustration filled the back of his warming eyes.

 

Sangyeon guided him toward the pantry and sat Jaehyun down in one of the empty tables, brewing water for Jaehyun and Jaehyun squeezed his fingers together as they wouldn't stop trembling because he was about to declare to Sangyeon, about how nasty he had been two weeks ago.

 

“Take your time Jaehyun,” Sangyeon put Jaehyun’s mug that he had filled with tea in front of Jaehyun and sat down in the seat in front of him, “You look really upset.”

 

Jaehyun wanted to laugh because of course Sangyeon knew which one his mug was.

 

So Jaehyun mentioned it, “How do you know that it’s my mug?”

 

“No one is as obsessed with iron man as you are,” Sangyeon offered in a comforting grin.

 

Jaehyun breathed a weak laugh at that.

 

The empty pantry went silent after his laugh and Jaehyun cleared his throat refusing to look at Sangyeon.

 

Sangyeon didn't pester him. Now that Jaehyun thought about it, Sangyeon never did even when Jaehyun could be stifling about voicing out his most inner thoughts.

 

Being honest to other people was easier than being honest to oneself, Jaehyun had always understood.

 

“I didn't mean it,” then Jaehyun lied. Not a hundred percent, but he lied.

 

Sangyeon waited for him patiently.

 

“I don't know what Juyeon had said, but I didn't mean it,” Jaehyun didn't mean it when he said Juyeon wasn’t capable of doing his job because the whole office knew how swift yet detailed Juyeon was when it came to doing his job.

 

“I was angry,” Jaehyun told some truth, “I was not myself when I had that fight with Juyeon two weeks ago,” he put his fisted palms on top his knees.

 

“I was jealous,” Jaehyun told some truth, “Because- I guess-“

 

Jaehyun had to lie.

 

He didn't even know that he was nominated, but Jaehyun received a huge award two weeks ago for consistently creating buzz worthy contents and qualities. He was nominated along with some big names of other features editor, and Jaehyun had won it.

 

That day, Jaehyun arrived a little late to the office because he had to receive his award and gave a short interview for it.

 

He got a lot of pats in the back, sweet congratulatory greetings, and Younghoon even bought a huge cake to celebrate together with the whole staffs. Jaehyun had smiled shyly when Sangyeon got proud written all over his grin -hugging Jaehyun tightly, unconsciously brought comfort from his perfume alone as it wafted surrounding Jaehyun.

 

So Jaehyun bit his bottom lip and glanced up at Sangyeon with heart full of wishes, asking quietly, trying to press down his nerves.

 

“We can- can we- would you like to celebrate with me tonight?”

 

Jaehyun had asked, and Sangyeon had turned him down gently -apologies clear in his eyes.

 

“I’d love to Jaehyun. Promise. But Juyeon asked my assistance for tonight’s meeting with our international investors. He said he needed to be watched over.”

 

Sangyeon had apologized and Jaehyun had smiled -even strained, saying that he understood.

 

Jaehyun lied.

 

He didn't understand.

 

Why would Sangyeon watched over Juyeon? It could only mean that Juyeon was a liability -according to Jaehyun, and maybe Jaehyun had then belittled Juyeon out of spite as soon as he spotted Juyeon in front of the supply room. Purely out of spite.

 

Jaehyun lied when he spat about how incompetent and undeserving Juyeon was in front of the man himself. Because Jaehyun never once thought that, because Jaehyun knew and acknowledged how remarkable Juyeon could be when it came to doing his job.

 

Jaehyun hadn’t lie when he implied that he was jealous of Juyeon who got himself into Gentlefolk.

 

Jaehyun was jealous because Juyeon could spent so much of his time alongside Sangyeon.

 

Jaehyun was only jealous, because Juyeon got himself in a place that Jaehyun wanted the most. Beside Sangyeon.

 

He must have been quiet for a long time because Jaehyun felt Sangyeon’s palm enveloping the top of his head, gently fixing Jaehyun’s messy locks.

 

“It’s okay. You don't have to explain.”

 

Brimming with an urge to scream, Jaehyun dug his nails on his palms, making sure to feel up the pain hoping it could tame the way his heart cried out for Sangyeon to take.

 

“Can I ask something from you?” Sangyeon said warmly.

 

Anything, Jaehyun wanted to say.

 

I’d do everything, Jaehyun wanted to say.

 

But he opted for a slight nod.

 

“Will you promise to tell me if you’ve ever feel everything is getting too hard to bear?”

 

The way his head lifted up to see Sangyeon was instinctive.

 

“I will be sad if you struggle all by yourself. You can tell me anything.”

 

Jaehyun was the one who decided that he would love Sangyeon in silence.

 

Cowering when his heart begged him in a sound so woeful, to let Sangyeon knew about its existence.

 

Jaehyun was the one who claimed that loving Sangyeon in silence, meant Jaehyun owned Sangyeon, and there was no rejection Jaehyun had to possibly face, if Sangyeon didn't feel the same- that to Jaehyun he didn't-

 

“Okay,” Jaehyun answered -eyes bleary from too much feelings crowding his exhausted heart.

 

“Promise?”

 

Jaehyun had loved Sangyeon in his own quietude.

 

“Promise.”

 

Jaehyun hadn’t been struggling with his overflowing affection for Sangyeon. So it didn't count as something he had to share to Sangyeon in order not to break their promise.

 

Then again, being honest to other people was easier than being honest to oneself.

 

 

***

 

 

To be fair, Juyeon knew he shouldn't have snitched what Jaehyun had said to Younghoon.

 

But Juyeon didn't want to play fair when it came to Jaehyun.

 

Juyeon quickly slumped on his sofa as soon as he arrived in his apartment. He let his back slid down and closed his eyes trying to calm himself down from the argument he had with Jaehyun in the elevator that left a really bad taste -lingering at the bottom of his chest.

 

Jaehyun had always been an asshole for as long as Juyeon could remember.

 

They got accepted into the company at the same time, yet even from the first sight, Juyeon knew they wouldn't click well.

 

Juyeon had his prejudice already about Jaehyun. He knew he hadn’t really given Jaehyun a chance to prove his prejudice wrong, but Juyeon didn't care enough to do it anyway.

 

Graduating from a double degree in communication and journalism with sports as his main focus, Juyeon’s peers were mostly guys, mostly eager in joining and even creating an overly competitive environment.

 

There were a lot of people like Jaehyun back in college, so Juyeon knew what Jaehyun personality would be like, without having to waste his time to get to know the guy.

 

He just knew. It was clear for Juyeon, from the way he sometimes caught Jaehyun staring at him in an unspoken jealousy. Juyeon knew they both fought for the same position in Gentlefolk, and how petty of Jaehyun, to be holding a grudge for so many years.

 

Overly competitive guy, who took so much pride in his job and positions, who couldn't stand having another taking their so called rightful place.

 

So yes, Juyeon was glad he didn't give Jaehyun his precious time, just to see if Jaehyun was any different from the guys he knew in his college years.

 

Juyeon got up -rubbing his eyes, and finally turned on his apartment’s lights. He went to his fridge and took a bottle of water from it. He walked back to his living room and opened the lid gently -drinking almost everything in one go, before placing them on top of his coffee table.

 

His fingers delicately reached to Haut Monde’s this month three years ago issue, that Juyeon had kept on top of his coffee table since he bought it, before turning the page to the Editor’s Letter page.

 

He didn't like playing favourites. But if he got knives on his neck, Juyeon would pick this particular issues as dearest to him.

 

Juyeon’s eyes lingered at Younghoon’s picture.

 

Younghoon was smiling so wide in this particular Editor’s Letter. It really was a picture of Younghoon taken, when the Editor in Chief himself was caught off guard and laughed freely for everyone to see.

 

It brought a weak smile to Juyeon’s lips as he read the content of Younghoon’s letter for the readers. Juyeon knew it by heart from reading it for so many times.

 

Maybe he was way ahead of himself, but Juyeon really liked the idea, that one of the sentence was written by Younghoon personally for Juyeon.

 

Three years ago, Jacob sent Sangyeon to France for six months. Things were growing fast and despite the wacky fights Jacob always had with Kevin, both agree that Sangyeon was the perfect one to go and see what the company could do on their expansion plans.

 

So Younghoon had to step in to help Gentlefolk with their daily mundane tasks when Sangyeon’s schedule collided with ones he had while working in France.

 

It was a little hard for Juyeon.

 

Because no matter what, even when Jacob, Kevin, Sangyeon and Younghoon had held a meeting for both magazines to tell about the news and that Younghoon would help out, Gentlefolk staffs were timid on asking Younghoon for help.

 

Younghoon was always nice, polite, and Juyeon knew the sole reason Gentlefolk staffs felt reserved, was only because they didn't want to disturb Younghoon’s own job.

 

So they came to Gentlefolk second in command -which was Juyeon, instead.

 

The thing was, Juyeon also felt a little guilty if he had to come to Younghoon for help. So Juyeon recalled being so overwhelmed by everything, and had pressed a frustrated tears at the corner of the supply room all by himself.

 

It was as if Juyeon could still hear the sound of footsteps getting inside the room as the opened door then clicking close. Juyeon still remembered the sight of Younghoon’s shiny Saint Laurent dress shoes from where Juyeon was crouching down.

 

Juyeon remembered looking up with an embarrassingly wet eyes, gaping lips and reddened cheeks out of exasperations.

 

Juyeon remembered the sight in front of him. Of Younghoon’s crouching down, of Younghoon’s concerned furrowed of brows, of Younghoon’s unsettled bite of lips, of Younghoon’s then gentle blink of eyes as his features then changed into an offer of solace.

 

Juyeon’s heart were bellowing harshly -slamming against his ribcage as Juyeon recalled, how Younghoon had then reached out to gently carded his fingers through Juyeon’s disorganized hair -trying to fix them, with a smile so benign it made Juyeon’s heart trembled with pining.

 

“Will you let me help you?”

 

Younghoon had said back then.

 

“Even when you’re already doing an undoubtedly great job?”

 

Younghoon had asked back then, placing both of his hands on top of each other -on his bending knees, to then rest his left cheek on top of his right hand.

 

Juyeon remembered the look of fond he was being given, and Juyeon had agreed with a small nod, breaking into sharp sobs because Younghoon had felt so warm.

 

And when Juyeon opened Haut Monde’s latest issue the month after that to read Younghoon’s Editor’s Letter as usual, a line of it had made Juyeon bought his own print.

 

‘Achieving something with your own strength is as satisfying as it can get, but I believe nothing can ever beat the feeling of relief when you know you have someone else to lean on.’ -Younghoon, Kim.

 

Even when Younghoon might had meant something else, but Juyeon wanted to believe, wanted to be some self-indulgent and believed that Younghoon had written it for him.

 

Juyeon remembered a lot of things when it came to Younghoon.

 

How it felt when he met Younghoon for the first time, how it felt hearing Younghoon’s genuine greetings, how it felt being the receiving end of Younghoon’s affectionate gestures. There were too many yet Juyeon could remember them all.

 

Sometimes even after Sangyeon came back, Juyeon still found himself coming to Younghoon and asked for advice, like he had formed a new habit. Sangyeon didn't mind. He encouraged Juyeon to do so, kindly saying that it was admirable of Juyeon to not limiting his source of learning.

 

Maybe Juyeon could come across as an inconvenience to Younghoon. But if Younghoon ever felt so, he never showed it. He always welcomed Juyeon with open arms, comforting words and encouragements. Then Juyeon indulge himself more.

 

Inhaling a shaky breath, Juyeon put the magazine back on top of his coffee table carefully.

 

His phone which had been neglected beside him on the sofa vibrated. Juyeon glanced at his lighted up screen to see the notification coming from Sunwoo.

 

“I have, that’s right, me, I, have secured the very own Song Minho, to do the graphics for our next issues. What is it that I can’t do? Please make sure Sangyeon knows it’s me, Gentlefolk’s Art Director, who makes impossible possible. Good night loser.”

 

Juyeon chuckled under his breath despite his exhaustion. He unlocked his phone about to give Sunwoo a reply when his fingers stopped as his eyes caught Younghoon’s contact that Juyeon had pinned at the top of his chat application.

 

He opened Younghoon’s profile and bit back a foolish smile when his heart palpitated taking in Younghoon’s very professional looking picture -white background while Younghoon himself was clad in his crisp suite with a perfectly tied tie.

 

Juyeon’s fingers hovered above his screen keyboards that popped up when Juyeon decided to click on the chat box, wondering if he should asked for advice from Younghoon’s on how to work with Song Minho, because Juyeon knew Younghoon had worked with the artist twice. To maybe then after that, Juyeon could bid Younghoon good night, to have a good rest, to say he couldn't wait to see Younghoon again tomorrow.

 

A painful ache kickstarted in his chest and Juyeon decided to close Younghoon’s chat window.

 

Replying with thumbs up and party emoticon to Sunwoo, Juyeon almost closed his app when he saw the word ‘typing’ underneath Jaehyun’s name.

 

The word disappeared before reappearing again, to just disappear again.

 

Juyeon rolled his eyes. Locking his phone and got ready for bed.

 

The chat from Jaehyun never came and Juyeon snorted to himself. Must be hard to apologize for a guy like Jaehyun.

 

Typical.

 

 

***

 

 

“Let’s walk together.”

 

“But-“

 

“My umbrella is big enough for the two of us.”

 

It was not.

 

But Younghoon had pulled Juyeon closer to him as they walked together toward Glitterati Building where Juyeon would be having his job interview.

 

If Juyeon’s heart had then woken up in a hazy as it started to thump faintly, Juyeon blamed it on Younghoon as the later let his umbrella covered Juyeon more -making one side of his own shoulder absolutely drenched from the unforgiving rain.

 

 

***

 

 

Juyeon remembered a lot of things when it came to Younghoon.

 

What he didn't remember, was how he was living before falling in love with Younghoon.

 

 

***

 

 

“What kind of awful demon possessed you, that it made you wear that?” Chanhee put on the most disgusted face he could pull off.

 

Youngjae let out an indignant breath, “Look!!” he said pointedly at his party outfit, “I dressed up as you!!”

 

“You fucker-“

 

“Chanhee, don't mind him,” Sunwoo heaved out, “You’re supposed to pay attention to me. This party is about celebrating me.”

 

“No it is not,” Changmin snorted.

 

“Sunwoo, hey,” Sangyeon approached to give Sunwoo a hug, “I heard from Juyeon yesterday. Song Minho, huh? Congratulations.”

 

Sunwoo sucked the inside of his cheeks making them hollowed to stop himself from smiling too wide, “Well,” he let out a boasting breath, “It’s nothing Sangyeon. Just, remember that it was me who made it possible.”

 

“Will do,” Sangyeon gave a hearty laugh before winking at them when Kevin pulled Sangyeon’s upper arm away.

 

“See,” Sunwoo turned toward Changmin, “My boss even acknowledged it.”

 

“This party is not about you,” Changmin repeated deadpanned.

 

“Really?” Sunwoo grimaced when he felt betrayal churning in his stomach.

 

“Changmin leave him alone,” Chanhee sighed, “You can think it’s for you.”

 

“Wait, really?” the painful disbelief underneath Sunwoo’s tone was enough to make Youngjae howled.

 

“You really haven’t heard?” Youngjae frowned as he smiled.

 

“I mean,” Sunwoo gaped, “When I arrived this evening after meetings, everyone is somehow partying? So I thought, I mean, what a big shot I was yesterday, and-“

 

“Poor kid,” Haknyeon patted Sunwoo’s hair adoringly, “This is for Jacob.”

 

“Jacob?”

 

“Kevin threw the party for Jacob,” Changmin added.

 

“And you expect me to believe that somehow?” Sunwoo’s eyes widened comically.

 

“Jacob just ruined this morning committee meeting,” Chanhee informed while shaking his head, “So Kevin wants everyone to celebrate.”

 

“That’s-,” Sunwoo ran his hand through his face, “Now I understand.”

 

“Where is Jacob anyway?” Haknyeon looked around the room in an attempt to find his boss’s boss.

 

It was a futile attempt since the office floor was pretty packed with Haut Monde and Gentlefolk staffs mingling together.

 

“Stop doing that, you look like a headless chicken,” Jaehyun passed them by, stopping Haknyeon’s head from moving around too much.

 

“Have you seen Jacob?” Changmin tilted his head at Jaehyun as a form of question.

 

“Oh yes, he finally finished crying just now and-“

 

Youngjae gaped, “Oh God.”

 

“I think he’s preparing to give a speech of encouragement for everyone to never back down from failure,” Jaehyun tried his best to sound more concern, but truly it was really funny.

 

Jaehyun snorts along with Chanhee before waving them goodbye and approached the catering table. Kevin really did so well on making such a fancy party happening in less than six hours.

 

He was about to take a flamboyant looking shrimp tails when his fingers collided with someone.

 

Fuck. Awkward shit.

 

Jaehyun tried his best to unclench his jaw when he saw Juyeon in front of him -retracting his hand back with a click of tongue.

 

After his conversation with Sangyeon last night, Jaehyun had been eager to apologize to Juyeon. But then as he arrived home -typing his apologies, the spirit vanished in an instant because really, Juyeon should be the one apologizing for snitching.

 

They glared at each other as Jaehyun took one step to the side to make sure his frame wouldn't touch Juyeon’s frame who stood beside him.

 

Jaehyun watched as Juyeon put down his glass of wine on the table, “Well aren’t you going to apologize?”

 

“Me?” Jaehyun widened his eyes in mock disbelief, “Shouldn't it be you?”

 

Juyeon didn't retort back as fast as Jaehyun had thought as the former took his time on taking in Jaehyun’s frame from head to toe.

 

“What?” Jaehyun barked.

 

“God, you’re so typical,” Juyeon sneered -tugging the corner of his lip up sarcastically.

 

Jaehyun about to spat back when Jacob’s voice suddenly filled the entire floor, along with a microphone high pitch static sound. It made Jaehyun grimaced.

 

“Everyone,” Jacob sobbed a little, eyes still red.

 

“Good lord,” Juyeon groaned and Jaehyun had to bit his lip from laughing because, same.

 

“Everyone listen. Thank you so much, thank you so much,” and it was absolutely hilarious how Jacob sounded so drunk yet he hadn’t even touch an ounce of alcohol, “For marking such a memorable learning moment in my career, with this party,” Jacob slurred.

 

Fuck, Jaehyun ducked his head down to fight the second hand embarrassment he felt from watching Jacob who was clearly, had drowned himself in sorrow. Not alcohol. Sorrow. And the thing was, Jacob’s mistake was not even that huge.

 

Jaehyun could only assume it was Kevin -Jacob’s failure whisperer, that blown everything out of proportion, and made Jacob believed he had failed on making their dad proud.

 

“God he’s so drunk on his blunder,” Juyeon whispered under his breath.

 

Fuck, Jaehyun couldn't help it and laughed at Juyeon’s line because, same.

 

Jaehyun saw from the corner of his eyes how quick Juyeon whipped his head toward him as soon as his laughter started.

 

“What?” Jaehyun scowled -refusing to backdown. He could laugh if he wanted to.

 

Juyeon narrowed his eyes at him.

 

“Even though I am not made for mistakes like my dear brother Kevin,” Jacob continued with a sharp intake of breath.

 

Groans and shakes of head could be seen on almost all the staffs present. Jaehyun bit down a guffaw.

 

“But this is a learning point- moment, and- fuck-” Jacob held on tight to the microphone’s stand for dear life as he was about to crumble down, “I’m sure daddy will understand-“

 

“Well daddy said you’re a disappointment!!” Kevin shouted in such joy and ‘in your face!!’ kind of tone, for the whole floor to hear.

 

It started with gasps from the staffs, before Jacob howled and lunged himself toward Kevin.

 

Everyone was screaming and stuffs were being thrown, and Sangyeon and Younghoon tried to break Kevin and Jacob apart, and Jaehyun about to help, and stuffs were being thrown and made a crashing sound this time.

 

God those glasses were expensive- “Fuck!!” Jaehyun shrilled when he saw an intricate looking pitcher coming his way.

 

He quickly went down and hid behind the catering table. Jaehyun put his hand on his chest as his lips parted in heaves of breath, ears still catching the chaos ensued.

 

“Shit!!”

 

Jaehyun heard Juyeon said as the later crouched down beside Jaehyun behind the catering table.

 

“What the fuck?!” Juyeon screamed, looking at Jaehyun in fright.

 

If Jaehyun wasn’t scared too, he would be laughing, “This happens annually!! You should have known what to do!! Why are you hiding here?!!”

 

“Why are you hiding here?!!” Juyeon screamed back.

 

Jaehyun shivered in pure terror as he saw Juyeon did the same when another piercing screams resonated.

 

The catering table shook violently as something smashed against it and Jaehyun looked at Juyeon in horror because he could see shredded of glasses near where they were crouching.

 

“Fuck.”

 

“Fuck.”

 

Another one slammed against the catering table and Juyeon jumped toward Jaehyun, frame shaking as he whispered what the fuck under his breath.

 

When it dawned on Jaehyun that Juyeon was sitting on his lap, he quickly pushed Juyeon away but alas, Juyeon’s jumper zipper that was located at the bottom because Juyeon had his jumper opened, was caught on Jaehyun’s belt.

 

“Get off!!” Jaehyun’s fingers scrambled trying to somehow divorce the seemingly married situation between Juyeon’s zipper and his expensive belt.

 

“Let me go!!” Juyeon was frantic as he then must have realized it himself.

 

You let go!!” Jaehyun hissed.

 

“Well stop struggling so much!!” Juyeon hissed back.

 

Their fingers wildly colliding as each tried their best to get away as soon as possible.

 

“Why would you sit on my lap?!!”

 

“I never!!”

 

“The fuck you on about?!!”

 

“Shut up!!”

 

“You were the one jumping on me!!”

 

“Shut the fuck up!!

 

“Fuck you!!” Jaehyun yelled loudly, standing up because he could take no more of this pointless conversations -as his palm then unintentionally pushing the catering table upside down because he needed a place to put his strength into if he ever wanted to get up on his feet.

 

The catering table flipped and made an ear-splitting crashing sound.

 

Then it was quiet.

 

It wasn't supposed to be this quiet.

 

What was happening again? Jaehyun frowned, tilting his head to the side.

 

Wasn’t Jacob and Kevin were trying to kill each other off just now?

 

Why was it so quiet in here? Why was everyone looking his way?

 

“I knew it!!” Youngjae shrieked, breaking the deathly silence -pointing at him.

 

Wait, not him. Jaehyun’s way, but not really him.

 

Jaehyun looked down only to find his pants had pooled around his ankle because apparently his belt had loosened up and still stuck on Juyeon’s fucking zipper, and Juyeon-

 

Fuck.

 

Juyeon was forced to be on all fours because of their zipper and belt situation, facing Jaehyun’s crotch, pale as fuck, eyes bulging, lips gaping.

 

Fuck.

 

Jaehyun felt like screaming.

 

So he did.

 

“It’s not what it looks like!!”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

02 – Hush Hus h

 

 

“What are you doing here?” Changmin raised an amused brow at Haknyeon who then pulled a chair beside Changmin and sat down on it.

 

“Definitely not to flirt with you.”

 

“Shame,” Changmin shrugged nonchalantly -turning away so Haknyeon wouldn't see a smile that was about to bloom on his lips, when Haknyeon then laid his arm on the table in front of Changmin, trapping him in the process.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Stop flirting,” Sunwoo clicked his tongue, “It’s disgusting.”

 

“But it’s not disgusting when he flirts with you?” Changmin rolled his eyes.

 

Sunwoo spluttered indignantly, grumbling as he took his seat in front of Changmin.

 

“Hey, hey,” Haknyeon raised his hands, “There’s enough Haknyeon for everyone okay. Don’t fight-“

 

“You’re disgusting,” Chanhee sat beside Sunwoo and opened his perfectly coloured binder, “Why are we here?”

 

“Like you have something better to do,” Youngjae who just got in the joint meeting room snorted.

 

“Excuse you,” Chanhee scoffed affronted, “I am in the middle of helping Jaehyun on a very important corner.”

 

“About?”

 

“Well it’s a quiet one. So, hush hush.”

 

“Oh,” Haknyeon frowned, “Are you talking about that Wireless Hush Butt Plug Powerful and Intense?”

 

Youngjae broke into a howl so profound, he slammed his palms on the meeting table twice.

 

Chanhee went red before hissing through gritted teeth, “How the fuck do you even know that?”

 

“Oh,” Haknyeon grinned widely, “Someone left a poster of it on one of the printers in the printing area.”

 

“None of my subordinates can do their job right,” Chanhee moaned between his palms.

 

“Me too,” Jaehyun quipped as he entered along with Younghoon, Sangyeon and Juyeon following closely behind.

 

Changmin and Chanhee spluttered their protests as Jaehyun just waved them off dismissively.

 

“Are you guys fighting?” Youngjae quirked an eyebrow at Jaehyun and Juyeon.

 

“What?” Juyeon dumbly asked.

 

Jaehyun felt like groaning because how come Juyeon could be so dumb, entertaining Youngjae’s obvious teasing.

 

“Why are you two sitting so far from each other?” Sunwoo added this time around.

 

“Shut up-“ Jaehyun gritted his teeth.

 

“It’s called manners kids,” Chanhee shook his head in mock reprimand, “Jaehyun and Juyeon have to at least pretend they still have shame, after attempting to have blowjobs in an office party-“

 

“Fuck off!!” Jaehyun screamed between the kids choked chortles.

 

“Jaehyun, language,” Younghoon looked up at the ceiling as he inhaled patiently.

 

“It was not what it had looked like!!” Jaehyun yelled impatiently, “Explain you little shit!!” Jaehyun glowered at Juyeon who dared to tsk at him.

 

“Well I never really have the chance to do that now, haven’t I? Since you’ve been doing all the screaming and shouting for the both of us.”

 

“Ooh, both of us,” Haknyeon cackled with hand on his stomach.

 

“Shut up Hak,” Juyeon rolled his eyes, “My jumper’s zipper was stuck on his belt-“

 

“Why would it be stuck there in the first place?” Changmin snorted.

 

“Well this fucker jumped to my lap because boohoo,” Jaehyun mocked loudly, “Apparently stuffs broke and shattered every time Jacob and Kevin fight!!”

 

“It was scary,” Juyeon bit his lip, confessing to Younghoon who gave him an understanding pat on the back.

 

Juyeon the git smiled shyly and Jaehyun felt like ripping his hair off.

 

“Sangyeon,” Jaehyun found himself wanting to be dotted too, “It was not like that.”

 

Jaehyun ignored Chanhee and Changmin’s disbelief squawks at his whiny tone.

 

It was worth it, because Sangyeon squeezed Jaehyun’s upper arm softly -offering a gentle smile.

 

“Why are we here?” Youngjae knocked on the table.

 

Sangyeon looked up at Youngjae and stood up.

 

Jaehyun almost glared at Youngjae and shouted ‘cockblock!!’, when he realized no one in this office knew how much he craved Sangyeon’s attention on him only.

 

“Right,” Sangyeon turned on the projector and clicking away on the meeting room’s laptop, “Younghoon and I need you lots help.”

 

A presentation slide showed up and Jaehyun gaped because-

 

“Sangyeon~” Youngjae whined, “You are such a baby boomer!!” as he stared incredulously at Sangyeon’s presentation slide that had vibrant rainbow as its background, with so many letters close to each other adorned in black.

 

“Hey,” Jaehyun scolded sternly, “Don’t talk like that to your boss,” he had frowned disapprovingly before then turning to Sangyeon, “You should tone down the background next time,” Jaehyun advised in a grimace, “And tone down the amount of words maybe.”

 

“Yeah?” Sangyeon bit the inside of his bottom lip in amusement, “You think so?”

 

“Yeah,” Jaehyun nodded eagerly -letting out a small smile, “Let me know and I can help you out.”

 

“Thanks Jaehyun,” Sangyeon beamed at him and Jaehyun chuckled softly at the sight.

 

“It is bad,” Younghoon commented under his breath, seemingly afraid he would hurt Sangyeon’s feelings if he talked too loud.

 

“Thank you Younghoon,” Sangyeon laughed this time around.

 

“I should have volunteered to make the slide,” Younghoon bit back a laugh.

 

“Eh,” Sangyeon waved his hand, “It’s fine.”

 

“It’s not,” Juyeon kept blinking as he tried to read whatever it was Sangyeon had written on his slide.

 

“Hey, hey Juyeon, you were supposed to be on my side.”

 

“I am terribly sorry,” Juyeon muttered underneath his laugh, “Not this time.”

 

“Anyway,” Sangyeon’s chest went up as he sighed, “The company is testing out a new software-“

 

“No~”

 

Round of protests filled the meeting room and Jaehyun couldn't really blame the kids. The last time the company had tested a new software, Haknyeon’s computer had swum in flames. Literally.

 

“Everyone,” Younghoon then got up and stood beside Sangyeon who scratched the back of his head.

 

Jaehyun could only guess Sangyeon wasn't very fond of the idea either.

 

“I know we haven’t really had good memories about trying out new softwares,” Younghoon continued.

 

“My computer breathed fire last year, Younghoon,” Haknyeon widened his eyes pointedly, “I thought I accidentally adopted dragons.”

 

“I know-“

 

“We were locked out of our own computers for two weeks, two years ago,” Changmin reminded.

 

“It wasn’t that bad-“

 

“It had made Jacob and Kevin frustrated enough, that they joined hands on smashing their computers to our immensely expensive pantry cabinets. Together. It was never about the badly dented and our barely hanging cabinets and the ridiculously huge amount of money we had to pay for the reparations, it’s about Jacob and Kevin. Together. Joining hands.”

 

“Well-“

 

“Younghoon,” Juyeon said quietly, “You cried to your hand towel three years ago when-“

 

“Ok I get it,” Younghoon stopped Juyeon before he could even finish his sentence.

 

Jaehyun’s brows went up at that. He didn't remember Younghoon crying to his hand towel.

 

“What happened exactly?” apparently Jaehyun wasn't the only who hadn’t heard, because Sangyeon also threw Younghoon a questioning look full of amusements.

 

“Not important-“

 

“It was past midnight,” Juyeon shook his head relishing the memory, “And Younghoon used approximately twenty four computers in total, every time the one he used, crashed because of the software. And they never stopped crashing.”

 

“Intense,” Sangyeon whistled.

 

“Like Chanhee’s Wireless Hush Butt Plug,” Youngjae said in a fake concern, “Powerful and Intense.”

 

“Shut the fuck up,” Chanhee threw his pen toward Youngjae who dodged it with a smug grin.

 

“Jaehyun you need to stop having Chanhee working on sex toys articles all the time,” Sunwoo shook his head.

 

“What?” Jaehyun said dumbly, “I never?”

 

The meeting room went quiet as they all stared at Chanhee.

 

“Just this time,” Chanhee blinked slowly, “Please save me from this embarrassment.”

 

Younghoon cleared his throat and sighed -trying to change the subject, “Just-“ before giving up and frowned at Chanhee, “Really? Chanhee?”

 

“I said,” Chanhee spoke slowly, “Just this time,” patronizingly, “Please save me from this embarrassment.”

 

“You can just come to me Chanhee,” Haknyeon let out a puffed up smirk.

 

“Stop flirting,” Changmin berated, “It’s disgusting.”

 

Sunwoo choked at that, because, hello? Double standard much?

 

“What’s the new software do?”

 

“Tracking browser history straight to Jacob and Kevin’s digital report,” Sangyeon shrugged, “It’s not that bad-“

 

“No!!” Chanhee slammed his palms into the table as he stood up -his shrills echoed inside the meeting room.

 

Jaehyun choked a guffaw as other started joining in after him. Younghoon sighed and hid his face between his hands while Sangyeon rubbed Younghoon’s back soothingly.

 

“What is it that you’ve been doing around the web anyway?” Sunwoo tried to calm Chanhee down, standing up himself about to pull Chanhee back down by the shoulder, when he saw Chanhee’s pants zipper was down, “Oh, your zipper is down,” he said casually reaching out, tugging his fingers on Chanhee’s pants, and zipping the zipper up for Chanhee.

 

The meeting room fell into absolute silence as Chanhee’s skin was burning red all over.

 

“What-“ Sunwoo looked around before jolting back when Chanhee pushed him away.

 

“Thanks, but I’ll appreciate it if next time you just tell me rather than zipping it up for me,” Chanhee hissed loudly.

 

Haknyeon blinked, “Fuck if that was not the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen-“

 

“Haknyeon look,” Changmin grabbed Haknyeon’s shoulder to face him, “My zipper too,” opening his legs to let Haknyeon see his zipper.

 

“No it’s not,” Jaehyun frowned as he peered at Changmin’s pants, frowning.

 

“Zipping it up, zipping it down, what’s the difference,” Changmin shrugged -hiding a satisfying grin when Haknyeon gulped audibly, eyes locked on Changmin’s lap.

 

“You guys are disgusting,” Juyeon groaned with disbelief.

 

“Says the one who was eager to give Jaehyun a blowjob in an office party-“

 

“It was not what it had looked like!!”

 

 

***

 

 

“No, please,” Juyeon’s eyes went wide, “You don't have to.”

 

“It’s okay,” Younghoon gave him a tiny smile -sliding up beside Juyeon from behind him, to pay for both of their coffee.

 

Juyeon’s fingers curled against his cup of coffee and stepped to the side, waiting for Younghoon to finish the payment. He looked back to his laptop and papers that were scattered on one of the table inside the coffee shop at the right corner.

 

In three hours, Juyeon would have to leave for a meeting. And since this morning, Haknyeon had been having models over for their next issues. With how ripped and statuesque the models were, everyone had been mingling and lingering around Gentlefolk to take a look. Juyeon even spotted Changmin ogling one of the models with such a dreamy look across his face.

 

So Juyeon went down to the ground floor and set up a work station for himself inside the building’s coffee shop, catching up on his deadlines while he waited for the time he actually had to leave for the meeting.

 

What he didn't expect, was Younghoon showing up behind him and paid for his coffee.

 

Juyeon wished he had met Younghoon at lunch instead so they could have gone for it together.

 

“That’s yours?” Younghoon pointed at Juyeon’s table with his chin in a grin.

 

“Yes,” Juyeon smiled sheepishly.

 

“Rowdy upstairs?”

 

What Juyeon didn't expect, was Younghoon then walking toward his table, and sat in the chair in front of the one Juyeon had been sitting.

 

Juyeon followed with faltering steps, lips gaping as he turned his head toward one of the mirror walls to check if he was looking presentable -running fingers through his styled up hair, before finally sitting in front of Younghoon.

 

“Yeah,” he cleared his throat and put his coffee down, “Even Chanhee looked like he was in a trance while saying he didn't mind entering brutes cave if the brutes were as hot as the models Haknyeon brought in.”

 

Younghoon laughed as his head tipped back, eyes closing -lips stretching in merriment, “Well,” Younghoon ended with a sigh, putting his right hand on top of the table and rested his cheek on his palm, “I heard from Sangyeon you’re meeting with Wonho’s agency for Gentlefolk year end cover?”

 

Juyeon nodded, tight lipped smile as he ducked his head down, “Do you think I’m being too ambitious?”

 

“What? No!!” Younghoon was quick on placing a comforting pat on his upper arm, “Don’t ever feel that way,” the tone was reprimanding yet spoken so tenderly.

 

Juyeon’s fingers were busy tangling between each other on top of his lap and Juyeon didn't dare to look up at Younghoon.

 

So afraid he would slip and let his heart speak for him.

 

Because Juyeon never dared to even dream about Younghoon feeling the same.

 

“I think you will charm their pants off,” Younghoon hummed softly and Juyeon could trace smile on it.

 

Juyeon never knew better so he glanced up, heart grovelling in a screeching scream for Younghoon to finally really see it. For Younghoon to realize that it was his to take.

 

He blinked softly and clicked his pen shut just to take measly seconds to organize his scattering heart. Juyeon blinked once again, trying to recall ways to act like he didn't love Younghoon with everything he got.

 

“You sounded more confident than I do,” Juyeon then chuckled, hoping Younghoon didn't catch how it teetered along the edges.

 

“You charmed me more than enough the first time,” Younghoon grinned.

 

Juyeon swallowed, “Pardon?”

 

“I gave such high scores for you in your interview process,” and sweet Younghoon puffed his chest up like he was so proud of it.

 

But-

 

“Did you get rained on?” Juyeon breathed, losing focus -eyes locked on Younghoon’s shoulder where he could trace damp patches, mind wandering away from the ongoing conversation.

 

It had been raining since morning.

 

“Hmm?” Younghoon’s frame went forward trying to hear Juyeon better.

 

But Juyeon’s heart had stolen his breath away when his eyes were filled with the image of Younghoon smiling expectantly at him.

 

 

Of course it had to rain.

 

Juyeon held back his groan by digging his nails into his palm -fists clenching hard, because he found himself being trapped under a convenience store’s awning, across the building Juyeon had to go to for his job interview.

 

Looking down on his application map he had been holding tight in front of his chest, Juyeon wondered whether he should put it inside his backpack. His forehead creased imagining the creases it would get, so Juyeon palmed them closer to his suit jacket.

 

This would be his eight job interview.

 

 Juyeon knew it was too reaching of him to be applying to Gentlefolk. But after getting turned down six times -the other one would announce the result next month, Juyeon thought why not.

 

Gentlefolk was way too out of Juyeon’s league, so Juyeon didn't have much expectations anyway. Just, why not? It would never sound too bad if Juyeon could actually have the chance to say he got turned down by Gentlefolk.

 

At least people would gape and utter their admiration because Juyeon actually had the guts to apply to Gentlefolk, that Juyeon had a small interview experience with Gentlefolk.

 

Puffing out his cheeks, Juyeon made sure his necktie was still in place inside his pants pocket, and went inside the convenience store to buy himself an umbrella.

 

The employee looked back at him in an apologetic grimace as he said the store hadn’t stock any umbrella since last year.

 

Juyeon decided to just go for it, maybe he could try and dry his suit jacket in the bathroom’s hand dryer before the interview started. Ignoring how loud the rain sounded even from inside the store, Juyeon pushed the door open and found someone dressed in such an expensive looking suit with an umbrella above his head, waiting.

 

Juyeon almost got weirded out because, why would you stand underneath an awning, with an open umbrella above your head?

 

But the man then turned his head toward Juyeon with a small smile on his face, “You’re going to Glitterati Building I suppose??” eyes went down to Juyeon’s Gentlefolk application map.

 

“I-“ Juyeon mentally patted himself on the back for not spluttering undignifiedly when he was being bombarded by how melancholic and stunning the man looked. He glanced at his own map and nodded carefully, “Yes.”

 

“Come on then. I’ll take you there.”

 

“Why?”

 

“I’m heading there also,” the man’s lips turned upwards.

 

“Why?”

 

The blank blink the man did look absolutely endearing.

 

“I work there?”

 

Juyeon bit down the inside of his bottom lip hearing the uncertainty underneath the man’s tone, “Are you sure?”

 

“As far as I know,” the man laughed warmly, and extended his hand, “I’m Younghoon.”

 

Juyeon let his hand acted first, gaping before closing his lips because he forgot his name, to gape again dumbly, “Juyeon.”

 

“Well, Juyeon, let’s walk together.”

 

“But-“

 

“My umbrella is big enough for the two of us.”

 

It was not.

 

But the man -Younghoon, had pulled Juyeon closer to him as they walked together toward Glitterati Building where Juyeon would be having his job interview.

 

If Juyeon’s heart had then woken up in a hazy as it started to thump faintly, Juyeon blamed it on Younghoon as the later let his umbrella covered Juyeon more -making one side of his own shoulder absolutely drenched from the unforgiving rain.

 

Juyeon could only watch as Younghoon twisted his umbrella carefully in an attempt to dry it up when they arrived in Glitterati Drop Off area, right in front of the lobby.

 

“What are you doing here still?” Younghoon gave out a light chuckle, “Go on then or you’ll be late for your interview.”

 

“I- but-“ Juyeon’s chest went up in a nervous inhale, “But-“

 

“Good luck,” Younghoon smiled gently, “Off you go.”

 

Juyeon felt stupid when he bowed deeply before turning to enter the building, head still sometimes went to see Younghoon outside -talking in a friendly manner with one of the security.

 

Juyeon felt stupid when he felt the elevator bringing him up, still cursing inwardly for not being able to properly relayed his gratitude.

 

Juyeon felt stupid when he finally arrived on the 11th floor where he would be having his interview, taking an empty seat on the very end because the other seats had been occupied by his competitors -hoping he would be given a chance to run into Younghoon again to say how thankful he was.

 

He huffed once again and glanced around him, only to realize that he hadn’t put on his tie. Juyeon scrambled, reaching for his forgotten tie inside his pants pocket and quickly tried to put it on.

 

Juyeon was almost facing a hallway from where he was seated. His fingers trembled even more when he saw people started getting up about to enter a room and Juyeon must have had missed the announcement.

 

So he got up, making sure his application map was still within his arms, and his tie was carefully-

 

Blinking, Juyeon stopped altogether when he spotted Younghoon walking in the hallway with a new jacket suit -all dry and a little bit bigger this one rather than the tight fit from earlier, and tilted his head before giving Juyeon a smile of recognition. Younghoon walked toward him quietly, peering as his back bending a little to see the waiting room was already empty.

 

“Let me help you,” Younghoon then said, crinkling eyes forming when he smiled at Juyeon’s poorly tied tie.

 

From their close proximity, Juyeon was entirely sure that Younghoon could hear how loud Juyeon’s heart had started throbbing the moment Younghoon reached out and began tying Juyeon’s tie for him.

 

Juyeon wanted someone, anyone, to be here and reminded him how to breathe, to teach him all over again, how to stow air into his achingly thrumming lungs because Juyeon for the sake of himself, couldn't stop the warmth that erupted from the tip of his fingers throughout his entire frame.

 

Five years spent in a highly individualist and competitive learning environment in campus, Younghoon’s thoughtfulness felt too unfamiliar, too different, too much like what Juyeon didn't even know had been missing and wanting.

 

“Thank you,” Juyeon breathed meekly and it made Younghoon stopped.

 

“I haven’t finished yet,” Younghoon’s smile felt so much like comfort, the way his fingers starting again made Juyeon felt like bending forward to shrink in bashfulness.

 

“From before,” and Juyeon couldn't stop himself from staring, glancing up because Younghoon was a little taller than him.

 

“Well,” Younghoon then folded his collar softly, “You’re welcome.”

 

Juyeon was supposed to look away -to hide and probably run on his feet toward the interview room, and not being a masochist by relishing the way his heart twinged in a prance with ‘Being Swept Off His Feet‘ as its title, when Younghoon stepped back and looked back at him.

 

Younghoon smiled, “All done. Now go,” he had said gently.

 

Like it was a spell, Juyeon found himself doing just that, bumbling out his thank you before entering the interview room as quiet as he could in order not to attract attention.

 

Everyone was still talking to each other, and Juyeon sat silently, waiting for the interview process to start, when he noticed the name tags for the applicants had two different colours. Juyeon looked down on his blue one, before looking around and saw another that wore orange as its colour.

 

“Blue is for Gentlefolk, and Orange is when you apply for Haut Monde,” the guy on his left had said -somehow picking up the question Juyeon had inside his head.

 

Juyeon turned his head and nodded, “Ah, okay.”

 

“No problem,” the guys shrugged before keeping to himself once again.

 

Juyeon let his eyes wander carefully to the guy’s blue tag that had Lee Jaehyun written on it.

 

He was about to comment about how they were both applying to Gentlefolk, when names then started being called to enter another separate rooms.

 

And when Juyeon finally got his name called, when he met eyes with Younghoon who was sitting in one of the interviewer seat in front of him, when Younghoon then gave him an encouraging smile, Juyeon thought maybe, just maybe he was a little bit infatuated with Younghoon.

 

 

“Juyeon?”

 

Wanting Younghoon had felt like enough for all these years.

 

“Juyeon?”

 

The agony of knowing Younghoon was not his exclusively, had been bearable every time it hit him so hard that sometimes Juyeon felt like curling in wretched heartbreak.

 

“Hey are you okay?”

 

Sometimes when Juyeon was struck by solid luck where he could have his dinner or lunch alone with Younghoon, the play pretend Juyeon liked to do inside his head -where he and Younghoon shared an unconditional loving heart, felt enough to quench the thirst Juyeon had, to have Younghoon sleeping by his side at the end of his days.

 

“What are you doing next week?” so Juyeon found himself saying.

 

Because maybe now, nothing could really salvage his badly battered heart that beat only for Younghoon, wanting to be finally recognized.

 

“Next week?” Younghoon blinked, “What day?”

 

“On the weekend,” Juyeon let his heart speak for him instead of his head.

 

But he had hoped the burning he felt at the back of his neck, wouldn't spread like wildfire toward his cheeks, ears, or worse his entire face.

 

“Do you need help with something?”

 

Juyeon also let his heart fell without armor at Younghoon’s words, “Why does it always have anything to do with help-“ he muttered above a whisper.

 

“Pardon?” Younghoon’s head went closer, “I’m sorry I didn't hear-“

 

“Do you have plans?” Juyeon ignored Younghoon’s question.

 

“I do actually,” Younghoon hummed, sipping his coffee, “But I think I can spare time on Friday morning if you want me to help you.”

 

“No it’s fine,” Juyeon didn't want to be a bother, “Where will you be spending your weekend next week?”

 

“I’m coming back to my parents,” Younghoon grinned.

 

“That’s lovely,” offering a smile, Juyeon hoped he hadn’t looked or sounded too disappointed because it was indeed very lovely of Younghoon to be visiting his parents.

 

And Juyeon tried to convince himself that it worked for the better that his somehow reckless plan to ask Younghoon out, had to be cancelled before it got out there.

 

When his stomach churned along with sorrow his heart started to carry again, Juyeon held tight to a tiny hope that one day, Younghoon would be feeling as lost as Juyeon for finding that he would blindly follow no matter road Younghoon would choose.

 

 

***

 

 

“What is that?”

 

“A present,” Chanhee shrugged as he dropped the massive box he had been holding on top of Juyeon’s desk, rolling his eyes when Juyeon eyed him suspiciously.

 

“From who?”

 

“Jaehyun,” letting out a cooing sound, Chanhee made a kissy face.

 

Juyeon took a revision paper from the printer on his desk, crumpled it and threw it right into Chanhee’s lip.

 

“Hey!!”

 

“You expect me to believe you?” Juyeon scoffed incredulously, afraid to touch the huge box.

 

“Why would I lie?” snorting, Chanhee clicked his tongue repeatedly at Juyeon, “So you guys are now like, out and loud about dating each other? After hiding it not so subtly all these years?”

 

“I’m so bored of having to keep denying this baseless rumour.”

 

“It’s not baseless.”

 

“How-“

 

“You and Jaehyun kept visiting each other.”

 

“Err, no-“

 

“One time, Haknyeon saw you too coming out from the supply room red faced and breathless.”

 

“We were fighting-“

 

“Honestly, you two need to keep it in your pants-“

 

“Shut up-“

 

“This is a working place Juyeon. Have shame.”

 

“I can’t explain shit-“

 

“And that last stunts you guys did,” Chanhee shook his head in disappointment, “Did it help you guys get off? Seeing your bosses trying to kill each other?”

 

“What the actual fuck?” came a whisper from behind Chanhee and it was Youngjae.

 

Youngjae’s eyes were blown in fright as he looked back and forth between Chanhee and Juyeon. Juyeon felt like throwing up.

 

“Nothing kiddo,” Chanhee smiled -patting Youngjae’s head twice, “Bye losers.”

 

Chanhee hummed as he pranced toward his part of the office.

 

“What the fuck did I hear about you and Jaehyun getting off by seeing Kevin and Jacob fighting?”

 

Juyeon groaned and ran a hand through his face, “Shut up. Just-“

 

“What is that?”

 

“Chanhee said it’s a present,” Juyeon scowled.

 

“From Jaehyun?” Youngjae tapped the box curiously.

 

“How do you know?”

 

“Aren’t you guys dating or something?

 

“No!!”

 

“Open it.”

 

Juyeon squeezed his eyes shut in annoyance before doing what Youngjae just told him.

 

Huh.

 

A parka.

 

The Kalalau No.02 Moncler 1952 Parka.

 

“Well shit,” Youngjae whistled, “Jaehyun sure does spoil you.”

 

Juyeon frowned, “You talk as if Jaehyun was my sugar daddy.”

 

“How many times do I have to explain that I don’t have a sugar daddy?!! And he definitely does not count as a sugar daddy, just because he keeps wads of cash in his pockets all the time!!” Youngjae let out an exasperated sigh.

 

Juyeon blinked.

 

Youngjae blinked.

 

“What?” Juyeon blinked again.

 

“What?”

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

“What?”

 

“What?”

 

Juyeon breathed a sigh as Youngjae kept repeating his words like a broken record. He did not want to get involved in this.

 

“Ha…hahaha…ha,” Youngjae’s trembling hand went up in a shaky wave as he stepped backward, “Good talk, man. Good talk.”

 

Raising his brow, Juyeon puffed his cheeks and looked back at the parka. Why would Jaehyun gave him this?

 

He did recall having this item in one of the photoshoot held in Gentlefolk last month. Jaehyun had looked around and asked if they were having an all Moncler spread.

 

“Moncler Genius Project?”

 

Jaehyun had asked beside him and Juyeon just nodded while keeping his eyes on the shoot, making sure the wet paint aesthetic properties would never touch the garment.

 

“The Kalalau No.02 Moncler 1952 Parka looks amazing.”

 

Jaehyun had said again. Juyeon remembered giving out another nod before shouting at Sunwoo to keep it civil with the smeared paint.

 

“It does look amazing. I like it a lot. The piece is our highlight. Sangyeon couldn't keep his eyes away from it since this morning.”

 

Juyeon had mentioned in passing.

 

Was it really because Juyeon had said he liked the parka a lot? That Jaehyun then bought it for him? Juyeon picked the parka up to see the tags and indeed, the price tag had been ripped in half, indicating that Jaehyun had bought it.

 

Was this an apology for the bicker they had in the elevator? On Juyeon snitching him out to Younghoon?

 

Was Jaehyun nice? Was Jaehyun always nice and Juyeon just failed to notice because he never really gave Jaehyun a chance?

 

Juyeon scrunched his brow and decided to confront Jaehyun about it later on. He was about to close the box when he noticed Jaehyun had his arm around Kevin who looked like he was sobbing real hard.

 

He walked toward Jaehyun before getting stopped by Jacob who had the biggest smile on his face.

 

“Juyeon hey, hey, hey Juyeon,” the blown out eyes Jacob had as he smiled looked absolutely deranged.

 

God no, “Jacob,” Juyeon said carefully about to ask what was going on, why would Kevin be heaving in sharp sobs, when he saw Jacob’s arms were busy holding a lot of trophies in it, “Jacob,” Juyeon went alarmed now.

 

“Yes? Yes Juyeon? Such a good day today right?” crazed was the best word to describe the smile Jacob had right now.

 

“Jacob, why do you have Kevin’s trophies with you?” Juyeon asked slowly.

 

“What?”

 

A shiver ran down Juyeon’s spine because Changmin had forced him to watch Goedam last week, saying that one of the actor was so hot (Juyeon didn't think so, and actually noticed the actor Changmin kept gushing about, had looked a lot like Haknyeon), and the stretched out grin Jacob had right now reminded him of one of the ghost in the mini-series.

 

“Jacob-“

 

“I’m going bowling,” Jacob said under a demented laugh -lifting up his indeed bowling bag, “Do you want to come,” he laughed maniacally again.

 

Fuck.

 

“Jacob-“ Juyeon tried to no avail because Jacob had left and went to the communal area and started setting up Kevin trophies on the floor.

 

“No~” Kevin sharp sobs echoed around the office floor, “My babies~”

 

Juyeon gulped nervously and approached Jaehyun who tried his best to calm Kevin down, “What the fuck is going on?” he hissed on Jaehyun’s ear -eventually helping Jaehyun to calm Kevin’s flailing arms.

 

“No~ Jacob you sick fuck~” Kevin wailed harder.

 

“Kevin- wait-“ Jaehyun heaved before looking back at Juyeon, “What are you uselessly being here for?” he glared, “Kevin- Kevin-“

 

“Well if you can just tell me-“

 

“This is all your fault~” Kevin started smashing his tiny fists on Juyeon’s chest.

 

“Me?” Juyeon’s eyes went wide, flabbergasted at the sudden accusation, “What?” he turned back to Jaehyun.

 

“Just-“ Jaehyun let out a squeak when Kevin accidentally kicked his shin, “Find Sangyeon!! Or Younghoon!! Kevin wait- just- fuck!! Find them!!” Jaehyun screamed went higher in pitch and longer when Kevin started to run toward Jacob who was readying himself to indeed play bowl, with Kevin’s trophies as the pins, “Kevin!!”

 

“They’re both out!!” Juyeon screamed back.

 

The staffs had turned into crowds, gasping loudly when Kevin wailed in pain because he tried to stop Jacob’s bowling ball with his feet. Kevin jumped on one feet before trying his best to hurl at Jacob who looked at him pathetically while screaming.

 

“Dear brother you had lost the bet!!” Jacob yelled, “Accept your punishment like the good sport daddy taught us to be!!”

 

“Fuck you-“

 

“Oh wait,” Jacob had sneered.

 

Fuck. Juyeon’s actually shivered in his feet. Too much Goedam shits on Jacob’s face.

 

“Is that why daddy never favoured you?” Jacob laughed loudly.

 

Another gasps resonated and Juyeon could even hear Chanhee’s dramatic tone between the sharp intake of breaths the staffs did.

 

“Because you always fail everything daddy had taught us to do- fuck!!”

 

Jacob’s sentence was cut off when Kevin threw the bowling ball as it flew heavily, before grazing Jacob’s ankle, “Fuck you!!” Jacob lifted one of his leg up instinctively, “Fuck!!”

 

“Kevin!!” Jaehyun shouted.

 

“Jacob!!” Juyeon shouted.

 

Jacob and Kevin started the fight, both with limp leg.

 

Honestly, Juyeon would bark in laughter seeing the pathetic scene in front of him, if only they both were not his boss’s bosses.

 

“Changmin quick save Kevin’s trophies!!” Jaehyun looked on his shoulder as he tried to stop Kevin from punching Jacob.

 

“Sunwoo!! Fuck!!” Juyeon struggled to keep Jacob’s fingers from Kevin’s hair, “Sunwoo get rid of the ball!!”

 

Needless to say, it took a total of two hours for Juyeon to finally calm Jacob down, and persuaded him to go home and take a rest.

 

Making sure to Jacob’s chauffer that the man had to really arrive and rest on his penthouse, Juyeon loosened his tie messily and went straight to the pantry as soon as he reached the office floor again. The pantry was empty, except Juyeon then spotted Jaehyun looking dishevelled -hair went up in places, collar shirt sleeves rolled up, suit jacket and tie were laid carelessly on the table where Jaehyun was seated.

 

Jaehyun had his face between his hands, neck bending down it had made him looked dead beat.

 

Pity started to build on Juyeon’s chest as he then proceeded to make himself a coffee, before pouring another one for Jaehyun. He put the steaming mug in front of Jaehyun -clearing his throat as he sat himself down across Jaehyun.

 

Jaehyun didn't react.

 

Juyeon frowned, head inching closer and bending to take a look and Jaehyun was in fact asleep.

 

Poor lad.

 

He blinked softly and quietly noticed how fluffy Jaehyun’s hair looked despite the standing tufts. Juyeon decided to ask Jaehyun about the parka later and just let Jaehyun had his rest.

 

Drinking from his mug, Juyeon put it down after a generous sip. He let his back rested against the overly expensive dining chair -slumping a little to make himself comfortable, and crossed his arms in front of his chest before closing his eyes, also wanting to get some rest.

 

“Penis.”

 

“Penis.”

 

A breathy cackles.

 

“Penis.”

 

“Penis.”

 

Juyeon’s jaw tightened.

 

“Penis.”

 

“Penis.”

 

Juyeon’s chest went up when his strings of patience snapped in seconds from Changmin and Youngjae’s game of penis.

 

“Penis-“

 

“Penis!!!!” Juyeon finally had enough as he shrieked, getting up from his seat, hands went up in exasperation, grumbling a ‘fuck off’ when he saw Changmin and Youngjae jumped back in surprise before running away in laughter.

 

It had successfully woke Jaehyun up, and the sudden movements Juyeon did made the table almost tipped off and fortunately it didn't, and unfortunately the steaming coffee mugs fell and both poured over Jaehyun’s chest.

 

“Fuck!!” Jaehyun yelped in panic -half awake.

 

But Juyeon saw the grimace Jaehyun had when the latter -albeit looking disoriented after being forced to wake up by Juyeon’s loud yell, looked down on his drenched white shirt.

 

“Fuck,” Juyeon hissed.

 

“Ow,” Jaehyun’s eyes slammed in pain and Juyeon could only imagine the burning Jaehyun’s skin must be feeling right now.

 

“Fuck Jaehyun I’m so sorry,” Juyeon was quick placing himself beside Jaehyun and held his forearm to steady Jaehyun’s staggering feet, “I’ll take you to the hospital-“

 

“No, just- ow,” Jaehyun kept grimacing and Juyeon’s heart started to fill with guilt.

 

“Jaehyun come on. It’s just ten minutes’ drive-“

 

“No let me just- I have a meeting in half an hour.”

 

“Look I’ll-“ Juyeon thought fast, “Let’s go to my office. I’ll give you my spare clothes and maybe I can find an ointments for your skin.”

 

“Yeah, yeah let’s do that,” Jaehyun’s eyes crinkled in agony as Juyeon led them inside his office.

 

And of course Juyeon’s eyes had to spot the gift Jaehyun had given him through Chanhee, that made him feel a lot more guilty than he already was.

 

“Wait here,” Juyeon seated Jaehyun on his sofa but retreated him back when Jaehyun let out yelps of pain.

 

“My skin is folding, ow, ow, ow” Jaehyun sat up quickly and Juyeon could almost feel the pain from Jaehyun’s hisses alone.

 

“Fuck, sit here,” so Juyeon guided Jaehyun to sit on the sofa’s armrest instead, in order for Jaehyun to be able to stretch his abdomen straight.

 

Didn't really think he could face more guilts, Juyeon quickly hid Jaehyun’s gift in the corner of his cabinets, because Juyeon would rather pretend he hadn’t receive anything from Jaehyun just yet.

 

“Here, you can change into this,” Juyeon stretched out his Christian Dior Fitted Prince of Wales Suit set for Jaehyun to take, “I’ll go and find something to calm the burn.”

 

Juyeon almost missed Jaehyun’s quirk of lips despite it coming out as a grimace -when he took Juyeon’s suit, “What would Jacob say? Suits are made specifically for twats like us in Haut Monde right?”

 

Jaehyun’s amused chuckles were followed by hiss of pain, so Juyeon just patted Jaehyun’s shoulder in small form of sympathy before heading out to the bathroom.

 

No matter how much Jacob and Kevin hated each other, at least they agreed on some things, like living in luxuries. And that extended to their workplace as Jacob and Kevin really spent fortunes on making sure every single part of the office was lathered in lavishness.

 

The office’s bathroom that was clad in mirrored gold walls, provided a lot of things including a hefty amount of pricey first aid kit.

 

One time, Jacob and Kevin even started to supply condoms in the bathroom. Sangyeon and Younghoon had run an intervention, while Jacob and Kevin whined saying that they were not about to lose face to some club’s bathroom because apparently they had those.

 

It had ended with Jacob and Kevin agreeing and trying to calm Younghoon down, when the latter lost his patience and said that they would be encouraging indecent behaviour in the office, and yelled that it was only a matter of time before the office would smell like heavy sex.

 

Younghoon’s scream had echoed nicely across the entire floor, and Juyeon decided back then, to turn a blind eye when he spotted Changmin openly smirk at Sunwoo’s reddening face.

 

What exactly went on there, Juyeon didn't want to know.

 

Opening the intricate looking cabinet, Juyeon took out a washcloth and drowned them in running cold water as he pick up some ointments for Jaehyun. Juyeon walked back to his office and Jaehyun was crying out as he tried his best to put on Juyeon’s fresh white collared shirt.

 

“Let me help you,” Juyeon put the stuffs he brought from the bathroom on the coffee table, and quickly held his shirt patiently so Jaehyun could put his arms through its sleeves.

 

Juyeon sat Jaehyun back down and studied Jaehyun’s reddening skin across his chest and stomach, “It doesn't look that bad,” he examined, “But you’re the one feeling it. How is it? Do you want me to tell Chanhee to postpone your meeting?”

 

“No,” Jaehyun peered down on his naked chest, “I really can’t miss the meeting.”

 

“With who?”

 

“Sangyeon set me up with some guys from Moncler after you guys work with them.”

 

Juyeon hummed, reaching toward the damp washcloth and started to pat it softly on Jaehyun’s angry skin.

 

“I remember you said Sangyeon couldn't keep his eyes away from one of their Genius Collection,” Jaehyun continued.

 

Huh.

 

“So I bought one for him.”

 

Oh.

 

“The Kalalau No.02 Moncler 1952 Parka, the one you said Sangyeon really like.”

 

Juyeon blinked and mentally took a step back, to try and frame the feeling he had right now that started to swarm his chest.

 

But Jaehyun didn't really give him much time to do that, “It is correct right?”

 

And when Juyeon glanced up, Jaehyun was looking at him expectantly, nervously biting his bottom lip, as if Jaehyun was afraid he had bought the wrong parka for Sangyeon-

 

Juyeon blinked softly at the thought. Of course, it had been weird if Jaehyun bought it for him.

 

Huh.

 

“Fucking Chanhee,” Juyeon muttered quietly under his breath.

 

“What?” Jaehyun tilted his head in confusion, “I can’t hear you-“

 

“Yes it was that one.”

 

“Oh,” Jaehyun had grinned that, “You scared me just now. I thought I bought the wrong one for Sangyeon.”

 

Juyeon sighed and pressed the washcloth on Jaehyun’s chest and said nothing, hoping to end the conversation.

 

But Jaehyun sounded so excited on carrying the conversation, “I asked Chanhee to deliver it to Sangyeon before lunch.”

 

Juyeon noticed how Jaehyun kept clenching and unclenching his fists to hold himself back from hissing in pain.

 

“I wonder if Sangyeon had seen it,” and this time Jaehyun mumbled to himself. But it was loud enough for Juyeon to hear.

 

“You talk like you got it bad for-“

 

“Sangyeon-“ yet Jaehyun had finished his sentence in utter horror.

 

Juyeon frowned as he trailed his eyes to where Jaehyun landed his, to find Sangyeon -the man himself, blinking twice, fast, right outside Juyeon’s office transparent glass walls. Sangyeon scratched his head in amusement, before turning away and left.

 

“No!! Sangyeon!! It’s not what it looks like!!”

 

 

***

 

 

When the office had turned dim, almost as dark as the sky outside and everyone had already left, Juyeon sighed as he put the massive box -that Chanhee had said was a gift from Jaehyun to him, on top of Sangyeon’s dimly lighted office, feeling a little silly for he just noticed the card Jaehyun had put at the bottom of the gift box -Sangyeon’s name on its envelope with cursive fonts.

 

The irony, Juyeon scoffed, how he and Jaehyun each harbouring feelings for each other’s boss.

 

Letting his feet guiding him toward his parked car, Juyeon didn't even remember the feeling he had to frame inside his head anymore after finding out that the expensive parka Jaehyun bought, was never his to begin with.

 

 

***

 

 

“Juyeon’s out for a meeting,” Haknyeon said without looking up from his computer.

 

“Who even said-“ Jaehyun grumbled, “Is Sangyeon-“

 

“Hey.”

 

Jaehyun’s sentence wasn't even finished when he felt a hand on his back along with Sangyeon’s voice from behind him.

 

“Hey,” Jaehyun could only hope Sangyeon wouldn't be able to feel the way his spine shuddered in longing.

 

“You’re looking for me?”

 

“Yes,” Jaehyun almost spluttered, “Can I- um, I was wondering if-“ Jaehyun’s eyes went to Haknyeon unconsciously -looking away when Haknyeon raised a brow along with a tilt of head as he watched Jaehyun closely.

 

“Do you want to talk in my office?” Sangyeon offered kindly.

 

“Yes,” Jaehyun casted his eyes down, “That would be lovely.”

 

“Come on.”

 

And Jaehyun promised he tried his best not to flinch when he and Sangyeon finally sat in front of each other inside Sangyeon’s office in the meeting area.

 

But he did, and it was all Sangyeon’s fault.

 

Jaehyun had envelope in his hands -crumpled at the side where Jaehyun had unintentionally clutching them too hard, trying to gain composure for his painfully whirling heart as soon as it met eyes with Sangyeon.

 

But Jaehyun didn't even remember now why he had been looking for Sangyeon. So his eyes started to look around in a habit, and Jaehyun stiffened immediately when he heard Sangyeon’s warm chuckle.

 

“What are you looking for?”

 

He looked up and Jaehyun’s heart was bombarded with such genuine attentiveness painted across Sangyeon’s eyes, as if he always had a soft spot for Jaehyun.

 

And Jaehyun’s mind just drifted to a memory he treasured so close inside his heart, where he met Sangyeon for the first time in their university ground.

 

 

“What are you looking for?”

 

Jaehyun’s head snapped up at the voice from above him as he was on all fours inside an already empty seminar hall, looking for his major’s gold badge that must be worn all the time around campus.

 

It was a sacred tradition in his major, and as a first year, Jaehyun was not really up to being punished  for whatever reason by his seniors. He had heard the terrifying stories about those who forgot to wear them.

 

But of course forgetting to wear it was mediocre for Jaehyun as he royally lost it instead. So as soon as he realized he had lost it somehow, Jaehyun went back to the seminar hall where he had his last class.

 

“I’m –“ Jaehyun’s words caught well in his throat when he was met with Lee Sangyeon’s thoughtful tilt of head, as his senior then crouched himself down in front of Jaehyun.

 

Jaehyun jumped on his feet almost immediately and almost knocked his senior’s nose with his knees. Thankfully, Lee Sangyeon apparently had an amazing reflexes as he let out a small whoa, before standing on his feet in front of Jaehyun, “You alright?”

 

But it was supposed to be Jaehyun’s question, because wasn't it him that was almost broke his senior’s nose?

 

And his body just flatly refused to cooperate because Jaehyun found himself went rigid at the sight of his well admired senior in such a close proximity. Jaehyun’s frame shook almost violently.

 

Jaehyun lost his badge. Jaehyun would get in trouble. Jaehyun knees buckled, and maybe Lee Sangyeon realized this as he then sweetly, carefully, tugged Jaehyun by his blazer’s sleeve toward an empty chair and sat Jaehyun down.

 

“Can I help you?” Lee Sangyeon went down on one knee in front of Jaehyun, crinkling eyes embellished with benevolence, aimed at Jaehyun.

 

Jaehyun found his heart recoiled as it battered like it had been running for miles. His cheeks felt warm and the way his fingers fiddled against each other, was a tell of how nervous Jaehyun was. It was because Jaehyun lost his badge and his senior was about to find out.

 

If Lee Sangyeon noticed, he didn't mention it.

 

And rather, Lee Sangyeon offered his right hand for Jaehyun to shake, “I’m Lee-“

 

“Sangyeon,” Jaehyun spluttered cutting his senior off, eyes widening as he tried to correct himself, “I mean, Lee Sangyeon,” he had whispered, “I know,” timidly keeping his gaze on his lap.

 

“Well that’s not fair,” Lee Sangyeon hummed.

 

It got Jaehyun to look up.

 

And when he did, Jaehyun could see why everyone on campus seemed to be so in love with Lee Sangyeon. Because if Jaehyun found himself feeling intimidated and restless, it was not because Lee Sangyeon did or say something to Jaehyun. It was purely because what people had praised about Lee Sangyeon, Jaehyun could see and feel it and it made Jaehyun cowered bashfully.

 

Lee Sangyeon was genuine they had said.

 

Lee Sangyeon was exemplary they had said. Inside and outside campus.

 

Lee Sangyeon was downright wholesome they had said.

 

And Jaehyun believed them as he was now met with Sangyeon’s amiability to make Jaehyun comfortable.

 

“What’s not…fair?” the end of Jaehyun’s sentence was barely above a whisper -peering at Sangyeon through his lashes.

 

“You know my name but I don't know yours,” Sangyeon beamed pleasantly, just enough amount to not make Jaehyun uncomfortable, just enough amount to make Jaehyun’s ribcage quivered.

 

“It’s- I’m-” it was almost as if Jaehyun could see the red forming at the top of his cheeks, “Lee Jaehyun,” finally shaking Sangyeon’s hand.

 

“Hello Jaehyun,” Sangyeon had greeted good-naturedly.

 

There was an echo in his chest that made Jaehyun’s heart splintered. It was because Jaehyun lost his badge and his senior was about to find out.

 

And Jaehyun couldn't even answer because his shoulder kept shrinking, shying away from Sangyeon’s gaze.

 

“I’m sorry,” Jaehyun had uttered instead.

 

But Lee Sangyeon didn't even bat a lid, keeping his eyes on Jaehyun, waiting patiently.

 

“I’m sorry,” he then repeated, eyes brimming with unshed tears.

 

What Jaehyun didn't expect, was Lee Sangyeon taking out his handkerchief and handed it to Jaehyun -squeezing Jaehyun’s hands as a comforting gesture.

 

What made Jaehyun’s cheeks wet, was the movement he did -glancing at Sangyeon feeling taken aback at the warmth being offered to him.

 

“Has the day been hard?” Sangyeon hummed quietly.

 

“No,” Jaehyun could only whisper, didn't dare to use Sangyeon’s handkerchief to wipe his damp cheeks.

 

“Do you feel like sharing?” and his senior had suggested courteously, “Or do you feel like being alone in the corner of our building’s trendiest coffee shop, and sip some hot chocolate?”

 

“That’s-“ Jaehyun had to let out a meek laugh at that -which sounded more like a sharp sob, “That sounds very specific.”

 

Sangyeon grinned up at him, “That’s what I like to do,” his nose crinkled, “If you want, I can accompany you there, pay for your hot chocolate, and then leave you alone.”

 

“I like-“ Jaehyun hiccuped -putting his palm in front of his lips for a second to hide his embarrassment, “I like strawberry.”

 

He didn't know what was so funny, but Lee Sangyeon tipped his head back in a laugh at his answer, “Do you, now?”

 

“Yes,” Jaehyun sniffled.

 

“How rude of me to be thinking everyone likes their hot chocolate,” Sangyeon gasped between his laugh, before getting up and motion for Jaehyun to do the same, “Shall we go then?”

 

“Where?” Jaehyun blinked.

 

“Securing your spot in the corner of our building’s trendiest coffee shop, where you can calm yourself down with your strawberry milk or shake. You choose, I’ll buy them for you.”

 

It was not necessary, but Jaehyun found himself doing exactly what Sangyeon proposed to him.

 

Sangyeon really had bought him strawberry milk and also a shake -putting it on top of the table where Jaehyun had seated. But Sangyeon didn't sit down along with Jaehyun, only offering a gentle smile from where he was standing in front of Jaehyun.

 

“I hope you’ll feel better Jaehyun,” Sangyeon spoke so delicately, hand going inside his pants pocket searching for something, before pulling out a gold badge, “Here, you can have mine.”

 

And Jaehyun was so stupefied he couldn't even react when Sangyeon put his own badge near Jaehyun’s strawberry milkshake, giving it to Jaehyun, before waving his sweet goodbye.

 

Jaehyun’s  heart had been erratic.

 

It was because Jaehyun lost his badge and his senior had already find out.

 

And Jaehyun kept telling himself that.

 

 

“Jaehyun?”

 

“Yes?” Jaehyun blinked away from bleary eyes, “Yes.”

 

“Is everything okay?” and now worries laced Sangyeon’s tone.

 

“You know, it’s not what it looks like,” Jaehyun stammered, so embarrassed, praying Sangyeon wouldn't believe the rumours about him and Juyeon, wouldn't think lowly of Jaehyun after seeing the terrifying misunderstanding yesterday where he had been seated inside Juyeon’s office with shirt’s buttons all opened, while Juyeon’s hand was mid-air -a damp washcloth on it, about to compress Jaehyun’s chest.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Juyeon and I are not dating,” Jaehyun felt like crying.

 

“Hey Jaehyun, it’s okay-“

 

“No it’s not,” he said through gritted teeth, ducking his head down, “We really aren’t dating,” he whispered stressfully.

 

“Jaehyun,” Sangyeon tried again gently, “I understand-“

 

“When you and Younghoon were out yesterday, Jacob and Kevin had this awful bowling fight with Kevin’s trophies as Jacob’s bowling pin.”

 

“So I heard,” Sangyeon gave Jaehyun a comforting pat on the back.

 

“It was terrible Sangyeon,” Jaehyun glanced up in helplessness, “I couldn't find you and then Juyeon and I had to separate them and I just, after I sent Kevin home, I fell asleep in the pantry, and Juyeon was yelling and somehow I got splashed by hot coffee.”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“It was all over my chest,” Jaehyun inhaled a sharp breath, “It had hurt a lot.”

 

“I’m sorry Jaehyun,” and charming Sangyeon of course had to take Jaehyun’s breath away when he reached out to Jaehyun’s fingers to hold them in an assuring and apologetic squeeze.

 

“Juyeon felt bad and offered to take me to the hospital but I refused because-“ Jaehyun gasped between his rambling, “And then he offered his change of clothes and then, and then-“

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

“We’re not dating-“

 

“I believe you,” Sangyeon said with a warm finality in his voice.

 

Jaehyun sniffled and stammered, “You-“

 

“I believe you.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

“Never mind that. Does it still hurt?” Sangyeon gave him a small smile, pointing at his chest.

 

“No,” Jaehyun shook his head weakly.

 

“Do you want me to accompany you to the hospital and get it checked out?”

 

It was such a tempting offer but Jaehyun didn't want to be a burden to Sangyeon, “No.”

 

“Okay,” Sangyeon kept the soft smile on his lips.

 

Jaehyun felt like drowning in Sangyeon’s affability, as he remembered his original intention on visiting Sangyeon.

 

 “I’m trying to-“ Jaehyun fought back his heart that kept reaching out to Sangyeon, “I wonder if-“ his eyes went to his neglected envelope.

 

Right.

 

“Sangyeon, are you coming-“

 

“Sangyeon?”

 

Jaehyun’s throat tightened instinctively as his back went straight upon hearing Younghoon’s voice at the door. He turned his head and Younghoon was standing right at Sangyeon’s door.

 

“Oh, I’m terribly sorry,” Younghoon’s lips formed an apologetic smile, “I didn't know.”

 

“I’ll catch up to you later,” Sangyeon gave a quick nod to Younghoon, smiling as he did so.

 

“No, it’s okay-“ Jaehyun about to get up but Younghoon had already bid his goodbye with a smile and Sangyeon had looked back at him expectantly, “I’ll just-“

 

“Jaehyun?”

 

“I was wondering if you’re coming to our major’s reunion next week,” Jaehyun talked fast, bumbling with uncertainty, “I got the invitation,” he said lifting up the envelope for Sangyeon to see.

 

“Ah,” Sangyeon smiled, “I got mine too,” he pointed to his desk and hummed, “I do want to come-“

 

“What would our major’s reunion be if you’re not there?”

 

Sangyeon laughed good-naturedly.

 

“You’re our star,” Jaehyun continued, biting his lips, not really joking, but somehow relieved that Sangyeon seemed to be taking his compliment as only teasing.

 

“I need to make sure of some things first,” Sangyeon grinned, “I’ll let you know if I can make it.”

 

Jaehyun’s lips parting just for a tiny bit as he inhaled silently -upper teeth resting softly against his bottom lip, savouring the queasy feeling inside his stomach.

 

He had wanted Sangyeon to come with him.

 

He had wanted Sangyeon to stand by his side, as they attended the outdoor reunion party.

 

He had wanted Sangyeon to be with him under the bright moon, so maybe then Jaehyun could look at Sangyeon in the eyes, talking about things like how Jaehyun wanted to end his years long of yearning.

 

He had wanted Sangyeon to agree with whatever Jaehyun had said and wanted, so maybe they could start becoming those who held each other’s hands and kissed as other ways to say I love you.

 

Jaehyun had wanted Sangyeon for the longest time.

 

It was ardent, the way Jaehyun’s heart kept crawling toward what it pined the most. Singing a tune so loving hoping Sangyeon would finally take notice.

 

Jaehyun remembered the sound of winds passing both he and Sangyeon, back then when they walked together toward the campus’s library. Jaehyun had asked if Sangyeon could give him pointers on what book to read for his upcoming test. And sweet Sangyeon then accompanied him to look for them in the library.

 

“Okay,” so Jaehyun had said, blinking away the aching love he had for Sangyeon, wondering if Sangyeon’s earlier ‘I’ll let you know if I can make it,’ had meant Sangyeon would want to go with Jaehyun.

 

“I hope I didn't bother you too much,” Jaehyun got up, somehow feeling like hiding the invitation behind his back, feeling like hiding himself because it felt a little too real now.

 

“No,” Sangyeon got up too, walking to him and patted his head softly, “Never Jaehyun.”

 

“If you- if we go,” Jaehyun’s heart rumbled as he used the word we, “Shall we use our gold badge also?”

 

Sangyeon let out a small laugh at that, “Well, I don't have mine,” he said pointedly, brows rising to his forehead.

 

Jeahyun bit his bottom lip, releasing it gently after a second, “Whatever happen to it?”

 

“You tell me,” Sangyeon folded his arms over his chest, feigning irritation.

 

Jaehyun’s eyes lit up in elation, so shy, so he turned away to keep his wide grin out of Sangyeon’s sight, “Well since you don’t have yours and I don't have mine-“

 

“I can’t believe you lost my badge after losing yours,” Sangyeon huffed in a chuckle.

 

“Let’s just get whatever punishments they’ll bestowed upon us together,” Jaehyun continued, ignoring Sangyeon’s claim.

 

“Deal,” Sangyeon beamed.

 

The steps Jaehyun take as he went back to his office was light.

 

Jaehyun wished he would finally find the Sangyeon he had been wanting.

 

The Sangyeon that would say it back when Jaehyun would confess of how much he loved him.

 

 

***

 

 

Jaehyun closed his top chest drawers in a contended hum.

 

Heart pounding in solace when he saw Sangyeon’s gold badge and handkerchief were still resting neatly inside a small box Jaehyun had been keeping safe for years too long.

 

 

***

 

 

“You can go.”

 

“But that means we won’t be driving together.”

 

“Is that such an issue?” a fond chuckle.

 

“Well-“

 

“The one who almost crashed into a parked bicycle was you, as far as I remember.”

 

“That was years ago- you’re never going to let me forget it, do you?”

 

“Years ago?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Feels just like yesterday.”

 

“No, no, no. Let me remind you, it was ages ago. Like, Flintstones era.”

 

“Stop!! Your age is showing, old man!!” a devoted quiet laugh.

 

“It’s not so bad being old.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Why is that?”

 

“It’s not about why.”

 

“Then?”

 

“I just think-“ a committed pause that felt too much like an amorous confession, “It can never be bad being old, as long as you’re right beside me as mine.”

 

A lull.

 

Ones that only filled with dear, ardour.

 

Jaehyun didn't dare to think about what must be happening inside the office pantry as the silence went longer than it should be.

 

“Go with Jaehyun to the reunion party. We’ll meet at my parent’s house the next day.”

 

It prickled.

 

Jarringly loud inside Jaehyun’s chest the way his heart fell on its knees, feeling like giving up but not wanting to give up at the same time.

 

When Jaehyun purposely stayed late -waiting for Sangyeon to come home so then maybe they could both go home together, and Jaehyun could ask Sangyeon once again about whether he would be willing to attend the reunion party with him, Jaehyun didn't expect for his heart to be shattered.

 

When Jaehyun silently followed Sangyeon who finally got out of his office and walked toward the pantry, Jaehyun didn't expect himself to be hiding behind the walls as he spotted Sangyeon giving Younghoon -who apparently had been waiting in the pantry, a hug and such sweet kisses on the cheek.

 

And Jaehyun couldn’t help himself -even if he forced himself, to stay and listened to the loving conversation between Younghoon and Sangyeon, as it pierced to splinter and wounding every bits of his fractured heart.

 

And Jaehyun couldn't stop the memories -along with the fantasies of him and Sangyeon, to mix together and flickered wild inside his head to just batter his ill-fated heart more. Further.

 

The bridge of his nose warmed up in a quick succession, the back of his neck burned and Jaehyun could only let his eyes fell on the shiny floor beneath him -shoulder shaking harshly from the coming aching whimpers that Jaehyun tried to hold back harder. Better.

 

The mourning his heart did sounded too pitiful, and shameful, and awful, and maybe Jaehyun should leave because-

 

Because when Jaehyun had been trying his best to protect his torn heart within his palm by turning away to leave, he didn't expect to see Juyeon across the room -also hiding like Jaehyun, silently watching the couple inside the pantry, as if his world had been reduced to absolutely nothing.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

03 – Adult Angst

 

 

Their eyes met.

 

Jaehyun was a hundred percent sure.

 

But because Juyeon said nothing, Jaehyun decided not to mention it either as he turned away to leave.

 

Jaehyun had spent his night awake, finding it so hard to make himself believe that the door of chance he had been chasing was never opened in the first place, allowing himself to be drowned in heartaches he still couldn't understand and felt too hard to believe.

 

His entire flat was dark. Jaehyun didn't appreciate any kind of lights to be washed over his misfortune, afraid that it would feel too real, believed that he wasn’t ready and just felt like holding on to the overwhelming feeling of affections he had for Sangyeon because it was familiar.

 

Jaehyun wouldn't know how to function if that feeling of familiarity was suddenly being wrenched away from him -taken away inappropriately abrupt, that Jaehyun didn't know what to do.

 

He wasn't sure he could fathom what had happened. There were no tears for Jaehyun to let out. Jaehyun didn't understand -left alone at a loss to what he should be feeling.

 

His heart hurt, but why wouldn’t Jaehyun just accept the fact that his heart finally got the answer for the million dollar question he had kept inside for years too long now?

 

But it wasn't the answer. Couldn't be. Jaehyun didn't want this answer, he was sure it was not the answer his heart had been seeking too.

 

Jaehyun should feel like he had lost Sangyeon.

 

But Sangyeon was never his to begin with.

 

And maybe if Jaehyun hadn’t accidentally saw Juyeon, it would be too easy for Jaehyun to convince himself that everything was just his imagination. Playing tricks so his heart would give up on Sangyeon. But Juyeon was there, Jaehyun could clearly see the torture in his face and everything felt too real now.

 

Jaehyun didn't understand. Jaehyun wanted someone to be here and helped him understand.

 

If the reality was so glaringly obvious, why would Jaehyun’s heart still beat for Sangyeon? Why would his heart still stand on its wobbly and scrapped knees -trying its best to pick up the shattering pieces, just to mend it measly so it could yearn for Sangyeon again, call out to Sangyeon again.

 

Jaehyun didn't understand. Jaehyun wanted Sangyeon to be here and helped him understand.

 

The phone he left on top of his bedside table had been vibrating for so long now, and Jaehyun didn't even have the energy to wince when his stiff neck started a shooting headache by the time Jaehyun turned it to pick up his phone.

 

The call had been missed and Jaehyun saw the number eighty two inside a small red circle at the right corner of his calls application.

 

Jaehyun had blinked slowly -about to go back to where he had been sitting, when his phone vibrated again.

 

Chanhee.

 

“Hello?” so Jaehyun picked it up.

 

“Finally!! Jaehyun are you okay? Where are you? I’ve been trying to reach you since morning!! I’ve rescheduled your meeting with Louis Vuitton when you didn't pick up the tenth time. Thank God one of their executives fancies you so it wasn't so bad. I felt so irritated and annoyed but I got worried now because you’re not picking up!! Jaehyun I’ve called you I think almost a hundred times now-“

 

“Eighty two,” Jaehyun said quietly, correcting Chanhee in a daze.

 

“What? Don't mumble I can’t hear you. Anyway are you coming to work or not? Are you sick? Are you okay? Have you eaten? Do you want me to order something for you? Do I have to take some of your work to your place? Should I go and-“

 

“Is it morning then?” Jaehyun asked because, Jaehyun didn't realize, didn't understand why Chanhee would say stuffs the sun was out and bright already.

 

Jaehyun could only hear static as Chanhee fell silent for a beat too long, before talking gently, carefully.

 

“Jaehyun. It’s almost two p.m.”

 

Oh.

 

It was Jaehyun who fell into silence this time.

 

Jaehyun wouldn't know. Was that the reason why his body had been aching, his neck had been straining, his heart had been wailing? Because he had been sitting by himself since last night until now? Two p.m? That didn't make sense-

 

“Jaehyun, I can help-“

 

“Okay,” Jaehyun blinked once, “I’m sorry for the inconvenience-“

 

“What? Jaehyun-“

 

“I will come in thirty minutes,” Jaehyun then promised, closing the call and got ready for work.

 

And when Jaehyun finally arrived at the office, walking in the extravagant hallway embellished in modern sixties wallpaper and furniture, Jaehyun caught the time in his watch -giving him a silent notion, the fact that it took him almost an hour and a half before reaching the office.

 

Jaehyun broke his promise to Chanhee.

 

Did Jaehyun break his promise to himself too? To hold Sangyeon’s hand and told him how much Jaehyun had been longing for him?

 

Did it count as a promise unfulfilled, when Jaehyun wasn't given a chance to fulfil it?

 

Jaehyun should apologize to Chanhee.

 

Should he apologize to Sangyeon? Or to himself?

 

“Sorry,” Jaehyun offered under his breath when he collided with someone, right before he entered the already opening automatic glass sliding door entrance.

 

Juyeon was looking at him vacantly Jaehyun noted -when he looked up to see that the one he just crashed into was Juyeon. Jaehyun didn't think he wanted to say anything either. The air between them was filled with tense dull of pains. So Jaehyun turned away and finally entered.

 

Maybe he had missed something -clearly because he was very late to work, but when Jaehyun set foot into the office floor, it was as if almost everyone was staring at him, watching him closely.

 

Jaehyun could easily spotted Chanhee -standing hovering Changmin’s desk along with Haknyeon, peering at him cautiously. Jaehyun could easily see Younghoon -with papers in his hands seemingly giving instructions to the IT team, eyes went toward him, lips forming a tiny hesitant smile.

 

Jaehyun could easily spotted Sunwoo blinking softly at him -arms folding across his chest as he was talking in a small group of people consisting of Youngjae who then gesticulating wildly, pointing at Jaehyun’s direction-

 

“I knew it!! You guys can’t even deny it anymore!!” Youngjae let out a triumph smile, “You two are both late!! And then what?!! Arriving together??!! There’s no way you two aren’t dating!!”

 

And Jaehyun could easily spot Sangyeon who was also in the small group of people that were having a standing discussion with Sunwoo and Youngjae. It felt laughable, that Jaehyun could see even from the distance, how Sangyeon examined him attentively, somewhat as if he was trying to gauge something out from Jaehyun.

 

If Jaehyun let Sangyeon saw through him, if Jaehyun kept his eyes locked on Sangyeon only, would Sangyeon see that Jaehyun had been aching? That he had been in pain-

 

“We are.”

 

Jaehyun’s ears filled with low gasps after Juyeon’s answer to Youngjae’s question echoed across the floor.

 

“Really?!” Youngjae was the one stating -accusing, and now he was the one who didn't believe it.

 

Jaehyun’s eyes were steady on Sangyeon -who was now glancing back and forth between him and Juyeon. Juyeon who was now standing beside him. Not too close, but not too far either.

 

“Jaehyun and I are dating. So what? Will you mind your own business now? Will you leave us alone then?”

 

“What-“ Youngjae blinked fast, loss for words.

 

But Jaehyun was too tired, desperate to just not eat his heart out anymore. So he let go of Sangyeon’s stare and turned back in woes he didn't think could ever be healed. He didn't bother to look at anyone as he walked straight into his office.

 

Sitting down slowly, Jaehyun’s short circuiting brain somehow could still pick up how his desk had been clutter free. Everything was placed accordingly, in a system that Jaehyun knew he would know what went where even with his eyes closed.

 

Chanhee must be the one-

 

“Jaehyun.”

 

Speak of the devil.

 

So he looked up, trying his best to put out a smile. If Chanhee saw how it was too small and too shaky, he didn't say anything.

 

“Why are you here?” Chanhee crossed his arms and started to bit the bottom of his lips.

 

“I promise you-“

 

“Jaehyun what’s going on?”

 

“What do you mean?” Jaehyun wanted this conversation to stop, but maybe having Chanhee around would pushed away Younghoon who had been lingering -not too close, around him. Glancing at Jaehyun from outside his office transparent glass walls again and again as if wanting to have a talk with him.

 

Jaehyun rather had Chanhee instead.

 

“It’s one of those days.”

 

“You never have ‘one of those days’.”

 

“Well maybe I have it now.”

 

“Why are you lying to me?”

 

“I don't know what do you expect from me.”

 

“Nothing!!” Chanhee said exasperatedly, “I’m worried,” he then admitted quietly.

 

Jaehyun let his gaze dropped. He had been hurting. But he hadn’t been crying. But he felt like it now, now that he was finally in the office, surrounded by people and not by himself. Now that someone -Chanhee, talked like he could see right through Jaehyun.

 

“When I spend almost an hour trying to reach you and you didn't answer, I just thought maybe something bad had happened to you. And we are all running like a headless chicken when you’re not here Jaehyun. Changmin has been so anxious- not now Jichang!!” Chanhee scowled, stopping mid-sentence.

 

Looking up, Jaehyun spotted Changmin waving to him timidly, the same hesitant smile on his lips as the one Jaehyun saw on Younghoon when he arrived. Changmin turned around quickly and sat back on his station. Jaehyun offered him an apologetic smile when Changmin glanced at him from his desk.

 

“Go home Jaehyun. You really, really don’t look well-“

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“What?” Chanhee blinked, “What?”

 

“I’m sorry,” Jaehyun repeated.

 

Chanhee hissed frustratingly, “For what exactly?”

 

“For making you worry. For not being there when you and others need me-“

 

“Stop it,” disbelief and confusion was clear in the way Chanhee stared at him with furrowed brows, “Jaehyun you’re scaring me.”

 

“Thank you,” so Jaehyun tried again, giving more strength to his smile, “For taking care of everything. For me.”

 

“Please go home-“

 

“Chanhee.”

 

“What?”

 

“The box I gave you yesterday,” Jaehyun dug his nails to his palm, praying it would stop his heart from throbbing in anguish -gnawing at his ribcage.

 

“I gave it to Juyeon already.”

 

“What?” Jaehyun finally met eyes with Chanhee this time, “Pardon?”

 

“You told me to bring it to Gentlefolk.”

 

“Yes-“

 

“I mean, who else is supposed to get your gift if not Juyeon?”

 

Jaehyun didn't answer. It must be the reason why Juyeon said nothing to him. Juyeon must have read the letter where he literally poured his heart out for Sangyeon. Jaehyun was subtle when he wrote it, but enough to let Sangyeon know that he had meant something more to Jaehyun. That Jaehyun wanted more from Sangyeon.

 

Juyeon then must understand how Jaehyun felt toward Sangyeon, how Jaehyun felt when they both found out the fact that Sangyeon and Younghoon had been dating for God knew how long.

 

“I understand,” somehow Jaehyun felt relieved. If Sangyeon had been the one receiving it, had read his letter, had-

 

“Look Jaehyun, you’re clearly not okay and you just won’t tell me. It’s fine. Just know that I at least feel a little less worried when I saw you arrived with Juyeon.”

 

Ah. Juyeon.

 

“I know at least you’re not alone,” Chanhee said with finality before walking out of Jaehyun’s office.

 

It felt bizarre how Jaehyun was washed with evening sun as soon as he turned up for work.

 

Chanhee was right. Jaehyun knew he never had ‘one of those days.’ Jaehyun was always clear with how he felt. Recognizing them, feeling them to an extent, and tried his best to solve them if it started to cause trouble. Jaehyun never avoided his feelings, painting them clear for himself so Jaehyun could understand. And it felt so hard now because Jaehyun couldn't spot any clarity to what he should be feeling-

 

“Hi Jaehyun,” Younghoon approached him silently.

 

Jaehyun hated Younghoon. With everything he got. It was not fair, but Jaehyun was too clouded by how strong the force he got inside his chest to despise Younghoon.

 

“Can I help you?” the short and clipped answer Jaehyun let out, was enough to left Younghoon startled.

 

How dare he took away Sangyeon from Jaehyun?

 

“I-“

 

“You know what,” Jaehyun got up from his seat -head relishing at the way Younghoon was caught off guard once again by his brash behaviour, heart squeezing because he knew Younghoon didn't deserve any of his bullshit, “I have something to do,” Jaehyun pointed at Juyeon -who was walking quietly by himself toward the printing area, with his chin, “Save whatever it is you want to say to me later.”

 

He didn't miss the slight confusion and hurt flying across Younghoon’s face when Jaehyun walked past him nonchalantly and tried to catch up with Juyeon. If Younghoon got the privilege to hear how much Sangyeon wanted to grow old with him, Jaehyun had the right to be an absolute prick about it.

 

His steps halted abruptly just before entering the printing area -almost colliding with Juyeon for the second time today.

 

The exchanged glance was terse and Juyeon about to walk away when Jaehyun called him, “Hey Juyeon.”

 

Didn't even bother to turn his body around, Juyeon looked at Jaehyun over his shoulder -keeping his silence.

 

“The box Chanhee said he gave you-“

 

“I put it on Sangyeon’s desk yesterday,” Juyeon shrugged before leaving.

 

Jaehyun’s heart jumped wildly to his throat as he almost sprinted toward Sangyeon’s office. He caught himself in time to calm down his breathing because if- he could only hope that Sangyeon hadn’t see.

 

His feet stopped walking altogether when Jaehyun could spot Sangyeon inside his office through the transparent glass walls. The defeaning scream his heart did made Jaehyun’s chest flinched. Sangyeon had both of his fists under his chin, carefully examining the spreads on top of his desk.

 

He couldn't physically hear it, but Jaehyun knew the hum Sangyeon must be letting out right now like the back of his hand. It was such an old song Jaehyun knew. Sangyeon never missed humming it every time he was concentrating on something. One day Jaehyun asked Sangyeon about it under their campus’s awning when the rain forced them to stay behind. Sangyeon had grinned sheepishly saying his late grandmother always sang it to him when he was little.

 

Would Younghoon knew about this? Would Younghoon knew the sentiment Sangyeon had for the tune? Would Younghoon even care to notice that every time Sangyeon hummed, it was always the same melody?

 

The back of his eyes started to prickle and Jaehyun didn't think he could handle this. Just before he was about to turn on his feet, Sangyeon looked up and caught his eyes -offering him a smile so tender it got Jaehyun’s knees buckled, got Jaehyun’s heart controlled him, because then he found himself walking toward Sangyeon’s office, knocking before letting himself in.

 

“Hi Jaehyun.”

 

It wasn't fair. Jaehyun should hate Sangyeon. Sangyeon broke his heart. His heart was too foolish, why would it still think that Sangyeon could make everything better, could mend it right away just by giving Jaehyun a smile. But Jaehyun’s feet, liked Jaehyun’s heart more, rather than his head. So it kept walking near to where Sangyeon was -the latter looking up at Jaehyun from his seat dotingly, because Jaehyun was always Sangyeon’s favourite.

 

If Jaehyun was always Sangyeon’s favourite, just where did Younghoon fit in this??

 

“How are you feeling today?” Sangyeon asked breaking the silence because Jaehyun didn't answer Sangyeon’s previous greeting.

 

And Jaehyun’s eyes spotted the box on top one of Sangyeon’s cabinet, seemingly untouched.

 

“That’s Juyeon’s,” Jaehyun turned his head toward the box -seeing Sangyeon did the same from the corner of his eyes, “What is it doing there?”

 

“Oh,” Sangyeon got up as he blinked, “It’s here since morning,” approaching the box as he picked it up to then put it on top of his desk, “I opened it-“

 

“It’s Juyeon’s,” Jaehyun said through gritted teeth, heart so bruised when Sangyeon put his hands up.

 

“Don’t worry,” Sangyeon had said, “I only opened the lids. I didn't touch what’s inside. I wasn't even sure it was mine, so I closed it again and put it there.”

 

“I bought it for Juyeon,” was lying always been this easy?

 

“That’s very nice of you,” Sangyeon gave him a smile like he was proud of Jaehyun, “What’s the occasion?”

 

Jaehyun’s chest tightened as his stomach sank -feeling so suffocated, so stuffy that Jaehyun thought he might go a little crazy.

 

So Jaehyun took what little air he had inside his lungs, picking the box with his arms and walked away, stopping at Sangyeon’s door before glancing at the only one his heart longed for, “I don't think I need a measly occasion to buy gift for my boyfriend,” before leaving quickly, afraid the welling forming under his eyes would let itself out.

 

Was lying always been this easy?

 

 

***

 

 

“Watch it!! Fuck!!” Juyeon almost yelled as he pulled Jaehyun by his upper arm forcefully.

 

Juyeon’s heart felt like it had leapt out of his chest when he saw Jaehyun about to crash into a motorcycle courier -not walking straight and dangerously going to his left.

 

The delivery guy curses loudly and Juyeon threw him an apologetic look, watching it disappear as it turned to the right in the corner of the street.

 

And when he looked back at Jaehyun, the latter was staring at him with wide eyes. Juyeon involuntarily staggered back because it wasn’t shocked or fright that got written in Jaehyun’s eyes.

 

Jaehyun’s confusion and harrows felt too familiar. Juyeon had to look away because it felt like he was looking in a mirror.

 

“I know it’s not easy for you to digest, but I don't think it’s very wise of you to-“

 

“Does it hurt for you too?” Jaehyun cut him off.

 

Juyeon cursed under his breath, “I don't know what you’re talking about.”

 

“Does it hard for you to digest too?”

 

His jaw clenched.

 

But Jaehyun was relentless and Juyeon didn't even have more pity to be given to Jaehyun because Juyeon gave it all to himself already. Beating his heart out in agony already.

 

“Because I spend so long, I can’t even remember when was the last time I am not in love with Sangyeon-”

 

Juyeon’s heart squeezed painfully because he knew how it felt.

 

“But how come I can’t hate him?”

 

The bridge of Juyeon’s nose felt warm. He thought he had dried all of his tears last night but he knew it was stupid of him to believe it.

 

Younghoon broke his heart.

 

The street wasn’t as busy as usual. Working hour had ended long ago, and Juyeon looked around him because Jaehyun wouldn't stop talking and they were at the side of the road and Juyeon’s heart clenched too hard it robbed air out of his lungs, when he saw Sangyeon walking out of the office building with Younghoon by his side.

 

“I don’t want to feel this-“

 

“Jaehyun,” Juyeon muttered breathlessly.

 

“I can’t stop my heart from hurting-“

 

“Jaehyun just- fuck,” Juyeon gave up and dragged Jaehyun with him instead.

 

He had expected resistance, but Jaehyun let himself being pulled away as his whole face dimmed. Juyeon bit his bottom lip hard, wishing it would stop the prickles that was starting violently in his eyes.

 

It was piteous of him -Juyeon thought to himself, how he just never seen it coming. How he never thought about the possibility of Younghoon having someone else to be called his, and able to call Younghoon his.

 

How laughable of him, to not be even aware of the circumstances, how he didn't see -maybe refused to see, any kind of signs about how Younghoon had Sangyeon already, who just wanted to grow old together with Younghoon by his side.

 

Juyeon stopped a taxi and guided Jaehyun in before he did the same and told the driver his address.

 

“I’ll drive you home after we arrive at my place,” Juyeon said quietly, eyes locked at the window beside him.

 

But Juyeon didn't have the heart to let Jaehyun waited in the lobby while he took his car keys upstairs. So Juyeon brought Jaehyun up to his flat, opening the door and let Jaehyun in as he turned on the lights, making his way toward the kitchen -to give Jaehyun some water just to knock some sense into him, after telling Jaehyun to wait in his living room.

 

Juyeon would laugh under different circumstances, seeing how Jaehyun sitting docilly on his sofa -the forlorn emanated with no mercy as it seemed to be eating Jaehyun up.

 

His feet stayed rooted. Juyeon felt like breaking all over again. For the many years he spent pining for Younghoon, he could tell it wouldn't vanish in a blink of an eye. Juyeon thought by knowing he would have so many nights spent nursing his splintering heart, the process would be less painful.

 

But it was not.

 

Because Juyeon felt tired already, spending a full night trying to bandage every slits his heart had from screeching its stabbing grief. It kept going. The rips just kept appearing, the ones Juyeon covered would cut even bigger and deeper and Juyeon was just so, worn out.

 

Juyeon had to text Haknyeon this morning to let him know that he would be late, because the strength Juyeon thought he had, was apparently not enough to straighten his curling back in a futile effort to stop his heart from crying in torture.

 

Hypocrite. Juyeon repeatedly told himself that.

 

Hypocrite, he branded himself as, because why would Juyeon’s heart shatter to pieces if he always thought that wanting Younghoon all by himself silently was enough?

 

Juyeon bent his neck down when a malice twinge rammed in his chest. Both of his hands had to find anchor as they then gripped his island marble until his knuckles turned white.

 

Younghoon was supposed to be his.

 

Younghoon was the only one he wanted.

 

His dreams and wishes were left to nothing because Younghoon was in all of them.

 

As soon as his sharp intake of breath left his lips, Juyeon found his hands being enveloped carefully.

 

He looked up and Jaehyun was standing in front of him, eyes watching their touching hands, before he glanced up to offer Juyeon a very weak and shaky smile. As if Jaehyun wanted to comfort Juyeon despite being in a place where he needed comfort too.

 

And Juyeon would never condemn the way Jaehyun’s smile was swift on faltering before turning into a grimace -how Jaehyun’s lips parted in an inaudible gasp because Jaehyun was trying his best to keep breathing.

 

Because as Jaehyun’s single tear fell straight into Juyeon’s kitchen floor when he clenched his eyes shut in pure agony, Juyeon’s own fell fast on his cheeks as he turned his head away.

 

The drive to Jaehyun’s home, was filled with nothing but silence.

 

 

***

 

 

Softly blinking, Juyeon stayed in his place -refusing to go forward and cross the pantry because he could see Jaehyun’s back as he was sitting in the pantry’s communal table with Younghoon in front of him.

 

A box from Belle Epoque Patisserie -Younghoon’s favourite, was laid on the table near Jaehyun’s side.

 

“It doesn't sound and look like that,” Younghoon said through shuddering breath.

 

Juyeon hated himself for recognizing the frustration Younghoon had just by listening to the way he talk. Hated the fact that he had spent so many years writing down and studying every little thing about Younghoon inside his head. Juyeon hated how overfamiliar Younghoon had felt to his heart.

 

“What do you want me to say?” meanwhile Jaehyun sounded indifferent.

 

Juyeon let his gaze down hearing the unmistakable detachment from Jaehyun’s tone. Ah, Jaehyun really chose to hate Younghoon instead. He wouldn't say he shared the same sentiment -on hating the partner of the one he fell for. But Juyeon would say he understood.

 

There were different ways to cope with heartbreak, and Jaehyun chose what he unconsciously believed was the easiest. And that would be not hating Sangyeon instead.

 

“The truth,” Younghoon licked his lips nervously.

 

“I told you there’s nothing wrong,” Jaehyun had shrugged, “Stop this pestering,” Jaehyun had hissed his last sentence through gritted teeth.

 

Juyeon let a bitter smile formed in his lips as he now understood what was going on.

 

Younghoon must be the one buying the cake for Jaehyun, because somehow Jaehyun had successfully made Younghoon assumed that his sudden change of behaviour was all absolutely Younghoon’s fault.

 

“And I told you Jaehyun, it doesn't seem like it. You’ve been-“

 

“I’ve been what?” Jaehyun darkly threw down the gauntlet.

 

The silence followed was enough to let Juyeon know, that Younghoon decided not to go forth. Younghoon was never one to take on a heated discussion -preferring to keep everything calm and collected.

 

And Juyeon was right, he could see Younghoon getting up from his seat quietly and pushed the box of cakes toward Jaehyun -about to leave when his steps went to a full stop as Jaehyun breathed loud enough.

 

“Take it with you. I don't want it.”

 

The gold mirror surface on some of the pantry walls had let Juyeon see the clear disappointment on Younghoon’s face before turning on his feet and ignored Jaehyun’s biting sentence.

 

Juyeon almost pitied him. Almost.

 

There were different ways to cope with heartbreak.

 

Juyeon chose what he believed was the easiest.

 

And that would be hating Younghoon instead.

 

So Juyeon waited until Younghoon was far from the pantry before approaching Jaehyun.

 

Jaehyun glanced up at him and pushed the cake box to him, “Take it.”

 

“Sure,” Juyeon shrugged.

 

“Pathetic.”

 

“You’re saying you will a hundred percent reject just about anything Sangyeon gives you?”

 

“Fuck you.”

 

“You don't hate Sangyeon.”

 

“Fuck off-“

 

“So why would you dictate me to hate Younghoon-“

 

“You do hate him.”

 

“Don't talk like you know anything about me-“

 

“You and I are too different Juyeon,” Jaehyun had uttered under a mocking laugh, the shaken up Jaehyun that Juyeon encountered two weeks ago, had gone and replaced with a Jaehyun that was way too pesky, too aloof.

 

“You should tone down your change of behaviour,” Juyeon scoffed -letting out a sneer.

 

“What the fuck are you even talking about-“

 

“Even us in Gentlefolk have been hearing about how impossible you’ve been acting-“

 

Juyeon watched as Jaehyun’s fingers clenched into a fist.

 

“Don’t make it too obvious Jaehyun,” Juyeon tsked, picking the cake box as he about to go home like he originally planned before deciding to stop and eavesdropped Jaehyun and Younghoon’s conversation, “It’s like you want everyone to know how badly your heart has been broken-“

 

And Juyeon didn't even flinch when Jaehyun angrily got up and snatched the cake box from Juyeon’s grasp, before throwing it unforgivingly to the floor.

 

The sound was loud enough to make him winced, but Juyeon kept the taunting smile on his face when he noticed some of the ruined cakes and pastries that spilled out from the box, were not ones Younghoon usually bought. So Younghoon must have bought Jaehyun’s favourite.

 

Sighing audibly, Juyeon about to hold up Jaehyun to shame when his tongue froze at the sight of Jaehyun.

 

Jaehyun’s frame trembled furiously. His fists clenched in apparent anger. Jaehyun was seething but Juyeon knew better.

 

Juyeon knew because heartaches were all the same.

 

So Juyeon could see masses of woes brimming wildly from Jaehyun’s twitch of cheeks. Juyeon could see screams of torment in Jaehyun’s glares that looked glassy. Juyeon saw the hard to swallow dejection in Jaehyun’s inaudible sharp intake of breath.

 

“Just because you’re heartless, and shallow with your feelings-“ Jaehyun was near on spilling a tear and Juyeon’s neck started to burn at the way Jaehyun discrediting his feelings for Younghoon.

 

“You have no right to judge-“

 

“Doesn't mean I’m the same as you are,” Jaehyun rasped as his expression hardened, “Your childish obsession with Younghoon, is nothing compared to what I have for Sangyeon-“

 

Juyeon actually laughed at that, ignoring the rattling his heart did out of his own sorrow. Juyeon completely disagree on the childish part.

 

But maybe he had to admit how obsessed he was with Younghoon because now, there was loathe starting to brew at the pit of his stomach, by a mere mention of Sangyeon and Younghoon’s name together in a sentence.

 

Jaehyun looked impossibly more hostile than he was seconds ago when he gave Juyeon a mirthless smile.

 

“Puppy love right?” Jaehyun cracked a deranged raise of brow, ridiculing.

 

The remnants of Juyeon’s sarcastic laugh dissipated as quick as a lightning.

 

Because Jaehyun walked forward.

 

Because Jaehyun then stepped on the cake box with his right foot.

 

Jaehyun’s tightly clenched fists was an unabashed show of how solid he had trampled Younghoon’s offer of peace, on something Younghoon himself didn't know what was it about.

 

And Juyeon was way too agitated to move -to swat Jaehyun’s hands away, when the latter started to fake fixing his collar and tie.

 

“You’re in the wrong field kid,” Jaehyun whispered patronizingly, “What I have for Sangyeon, and what you have for Younghoon, is too different in their league,” as he kept his distance very close, making sure Juyeon could hear all of his lowly spoken travesty -eyes vacant yet full of menace, “I suggest you to go home and tuck yourself to bed.”

 

Juyeon’s eyes flashed in anger yet he wasn't given a chance to speak when a voice interrupted them.

 

“What’s going on?”

 

Jaehyun was the first one to break their eye contact, looking at Sangyeon who was watching them warily from where he was standing, just right outside the open pantry.

 

Juyeon shivered involuntarily when he saw Jaehyun threw a dry and sardonic smile at Sangyeon for the very first time since Juyeon knew Jaehyun, “Nothing that can be called, one of your business,” before tapping Juyeon’s shoulder twice and walked away without looking back.

 

There were different ways to cope with heartbreak.

 

Juyeon chose what he believed was the easiest.

 

And that would be hating Younghoon instead.

 

There were different ways to cope with heartbreak.

 

Maybe what Jaehyun chose, was not that different from Juyeon’s own.

 

Maybe Jaehyun just didn't realize.

 

 

***

 

 

Jaehyun nodded, took notes, and voiced out everything, whether it was his opinions, agreement, or disagreement, as he stood in front of Younghoon’s desk -listening to Younghoon’s daily brief.

 

Younghoon’s smile was not as bright, but it was still there for Jaehyun to take.

 

Jaehyun mentioned nothing when he saw the cake box Younghoon gave him yesterday -the one he stepped on, was there inside Younghoon’s office waste paper bin. He could see his footprints on them clearly.

 

So at the end of his day, after making sure everyone had left, Jaehyun opened his office storage cabinet and took out Belle Epoque Patisserie cake box -filled with everything Younghoon’s favourite, that he bought silently this evening.

 

He went inside Younghoon’s office, and put it on top of his desk -turning around to exit the room when his eyes suddenly met with Younghoon’s as the later was standing near Changmin’s desk.

 

Jaehyun although a little taken aback because he thought Younghoon had gone home already, walked toward the elevator -taking another route far from where Younghoon was standing, refusing to make any eye contact.

 

The phone he had within his palm vibrated when Jaehyun got home, about to enter his apartment.

 

“I’ll see you tomorrow Jaehyun. I’ll make sure to eat everything!!”

 

The scathing scoff of laugh that left Jaehyun’s lips, tasted as bitter as the thought of Younghoon eating them together with Sangyeon.

 

 

***

 

 

“Angst.”

 

“Like, teenage angst?” Changmin narrowed his eyes.

 

“No,” Sunwoo shook his head sighing, “Like, adult angst.”

 

“Adult angst?” Chanhee narrowed his eyes.

 

“Adult as in, containing very explicit contents?” Haknyeon narrowed his eyes.

 

Sunwoo groaned, “I can’t believe that doesn't come from Chanhee.”

 

Chanhee gaped about to protest before flicking his left brow once, “Glad you know my libido is high.”

 

“What-“ Sunwoo swallowed between his parched throat, “What is that even supposed to mean?” whispering under his breath in a trance.

 

“Can we focus please?” Jaehyun knocked the meeting table hardly, “Please.”

 

“Is Jaehyun about to start?” Kevin whispered loudly to Chanhee who smacked his upper arm and told him to hush.

 

“What are you-“ Jaehyun frowned, “Kevin, sorry, why are you here again?”

 

“I mean, I’m bored,” Kevin pouted, “Is not nice just hearing the gossips. I want to experience it,” Kevin gestured wildly.

 

Jaehyun was about to call him crazy but stopped himself when others were nodding, agreeing to Kevin’s stance.

 

“What gossips- wait-“ Jaehyun massaged the bridge of his nose -clenching his eyes tight.

 

“Is this like, before the storm? Before shit hits the fan?” Jacob’s whisper was also loud enough for it to echo inside the communal meeting room.

 

“Hey Jacob,” Jaehyun let out an artificial smile, “Hey sorry, but why are you here?”

 

“I usually don't agree with Kevin because he’s fucking dumb-“

 

“Fuck you!!” Kevin got up from his seat, just to be pulled back down by Changmin and Chanhee.

 

“Fuck you too brother,” Jacob waved his hand dismissively, “But is very boring just to hear the gossips. I want to experience it,” he gestured wildly.

 

Jaehyun barked in laughter because Jacob and Kevin were so similar they wouldn't even realize it themselves.

 

“Fuck just-“ Jaehyun took a deep breath, “Sunwoo, Haknyeon, Youngjae, don't you all have something to do other than crashing a Haut Monde meeting that has nothing to do with you all?”

 

The three merely shrugs and shook their head.

 

“Juyeon’s out for a meeting,” Youngjae had his cheek pressed against the meeting table, “I’m bored.”

 

“And anyway,” Sunwoo threw his hands up as if he was in disbelief, “So ungrateful of you Jaehyun,” he pointed an accusing finger, “We’ve been helping you lots with article ideas-“

 

“Which all of them are pure rubbish-“ Jaehyun intercepted.

 

Youngjae gasped loudly -putting a hand on his chest, “I beg to differ!! Jacob!!” he said dramatically, “My idea to have various human emotions in a form of fashion is absolutely amazing right?!! Jacob!!”

 

“Yes, yes,” Jacob clearly taking Youngjae’s side because he was his boss, “Jaehyun you ungrateful twat.”

 

“What the fuck!!” Jaehyun turned his back from the meeting members to rampantly smash his palm on the white board thrice, “Fuck!! Fuck!! Fuck!!”

 

Taking a deep breath, Jaehyun almost cried when he saw Kevin and Jacob looking at him like he was their fucking personal entertainment.

 

“Is this like, a big one?” Kevin hushed loudly asking Chanhee in wide interested eyes.

 

“Like, the biggest rage Jaehyun has been having?” Jacob added with the same fascination.

 

“What-“ Jaehyun was cut off when Younghoon entered the meeting room.

 

Younghoon looked surprised at the amount of people as he blinked a couple of times, “What is going on here?”

 

“Carry on, carry on,” Kevin urged in a huge smile, “We’re just here to experience the gossips.”

 

“What gossips?” Younghoon’s brows formed a slight frown, “Kevin I told you not to listen to them-“

 

“Yeah, yeah, because you can’t have another staff getting fired by me because their nasty mouth or whatever,” Kevin rolled his eyes, “But I’ve been hearing that Jaehyun has been sour and problematically crusty around the edges-“

 

“What the fuck-“ Jaehyun gasped in disbelief, “Who even said that-“

 

“So I want to see it,” Kevin smiled triumphantly, “Must be fun right lads!! I mean, I’ve only seen him cursing and almost split the white board in half with his palms-“

 

Younghoon caught his eyes and Jaehyun pressed down his need to slap Kevin across his face.

 

“Jaehyun,” Younghoon called his name measuredly, “Are you okay?”

 

“Well fuck no!!” Jaehyun spat furiously, “Jacob just called me an ungrateful twat-“

 

“How dare you call my right-hand a twat?!” Younghoon almost choked.

 

Somehow Jaehyun felt like he had a backup for this shit.

 

“How dare you talk like that to my boss?” Juyeon scoffed as he entered the meeting room, standing beside Younghoon who stood closely by the door.

 

Jaehyun bit down his own scoff, because Juyeon made it so obvious that he had a problem with Younghoon. Not once since he knew Juyeon, had he seen Juyeon acting like that when Younghoon was involved. Jaehyun even remembered Juyeon going against Jacob when the latter started yelling at Younghoon one time.

 

Younghoon parted his lips about to retort when Jaehyun watched Juyeon commanded the room with an unamused look, “Why are you guys here and not working?” clearly aiming it at Sunwoo, Youngjae and Haknyeon.

 

The three cleared their throat before standing up, mumbling about deadlines being met already.

 

“Juyeon but like,” Youngjae pouted, “Can we wait until the ‘Sweet French Milk So Nicey Salted Chocolate Bombs’ arrived?”

 

“What the fuck is that?” Changmin made a face.

 

“Is so nice!!” Youngjae had stomped on his feet, “I bought one for everyone and-“

 

“Does anyone order some, some- Sweet French Busty- Breasty Milk- fuck I don't even remember the name of the drink,” Sangyeon appeared at the meeting room doorway with a deep frown.

 

“It’s ‘Sweet French Milk So Nicey Salted Chocolate Bombs’ Sangyeon!! Come on!!” Youngjae protested but looked happy as he hopped toward the delivery guy who had been standing behind Sangyeon.

 

Youngjae reached for his card and swiped it.

 

Declined.

 

Jaehyun actually laughed all by himself at that. More because his meeting had been delayed for hours already.

 

“Try again,” Youngjae said petulantly.

 

The delivery guy sighed and did it one more time.

 

Declined.

 

“Just,” Jaehyun yelled, reaching to his wallet, “Take my card-“

 

“Papi!!” Youngjae whined, spoiled, loud.

 

The room went silent for so long.

 

“What-“ Jaehyun heard Haknyeon’s whisper.

 

He was about to agree, when suddenly a very handsome man appeared out of nowhere with two bodyguards walking closely behind him, and pulled out wads of cash to pay the delivery guy -whose jaw dropped so hard his chin almost touch the tip of Youngjae’s Christian Dior x Air Jordan sneakers.

 

Jaehyun could sympathize, because what the fuck?!

 

The very handsome man and his two bodyguards left as soon as they arrived, before the former gave Youngjae a small kiss on his forehead.

 

Youngjae twisted his frame in a shy smile.

 

“What the fuck-“

 

“Who the fuck-“

 

“Fuck-“

 

“Youngjae-“

 

“Do you fucking-“

 

“Fucking hell-“

 

The room went silent for so long after all the unfinished gasps of astonishment.

 

“Who the fuck is that?!!” Sangyeon screamed as he put his hands on his shoulder in a cross trying to protect himself from the very handsome and apparently notably rich man.

 

Jaehyun walked toward the secretary desk, crouching down behind it, and started sobbing dramatically because, what the fuck?!

 

His wails must be loud enough to shut everyone up as Jaehyun could hear Juyeon ushering them all out as the room suddenly fell into a quietude.

 

“Get out.”

 

Jaehyun heard Juyeon say.

 

Walking on all fours, Jaehyun turned down the volume of his fake cries -making sure he had been left alone, finally getting up after he saw the meeting room was empty albeit Juyeon.

 

“Why aren’t you getting out also?” Jaehyun nagged.

 

“So much for letting my kids pranced around here and not where they were supposed to be.”

 

“They are your kids!!” Jaehyun screeched, “You fucking leave them without a leash, and you obviously don't train them well enough to not laze their asses off when their boss is not around, by ruining my meeting!!”

 

“Why did you let them then?!!”

 

Jaehyun bit his lip a second too long before answering meekly, “I almost did until Sunwoo came up with a decent enough ideas about an article.”

 

Juyeon’s chest went up in a heavy breath, “Fuck, I know what you’re talking about.”

 

“Right?” Jaehyun found a small light of hope on not being berated by Juyeon, “Sunwoo is actually very witty with his ideas. I mean,” he pondered, “Where have you been anyway?” trying to avert the subject of him actually letting Juyeon’s kids meddle with his business.

 

“Following up Wonho’s deal.”

 

Jaehyun gaped, “You’re really going with that?”

 

“You have a problem then?” Juyeon almost hissed at him, “Didn't think I can handle it?”

 

But that was not what Jaehyun had meant, “Is he going to have his shoot here for Gentlefolk year-end cover?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Here?”

 

“Yes-“

 

“Fuck Juyeon.”

 

“What?”

 

There was impatience underneath Juyeon’s tone while Jaehyun cursed at him blatantly, “Do you even realize the chaos that will ensued here?!!”

 

“I mean-“

 

“Wonho!! Juyeon, it’s Wonho!!”

 

“It won’t be as bad as you painted it to be-“

 

“Fuck we are going to hand so many warning letter for indecent behaviour at work for our staffs, and we are going to get sued for sexual harassments from Wonho’s side!!”

 

Juyeon blinked fast, stammered, “No- I mean- It can’t be that bad-“

 

“Juyeon, Juyeon, listen to me,” Jaehyun’s spine shrivelled, “What happened last year when I had Kai for Haut Monde’s special issue, with his red suit, and red pants, and a very low cut red waistcoat, all tight on his reddish naked skin, with his rich textured dirty blonde hair that was swept up sexily to show his smooth forehead?”

 

Juyeon stared at him for a very long time, “That’s an extremely specific and detailed memory you got-“

 

“You don’t understand!!” Jaehyun shouted -had been so annoyed because Juyeon was kind of right. A highly specific and detailed memory indeed, “Let me ask you one more time. Do you remember what happened?”

 

“I don't-“

 

“Do you,” Jaehyun said patronizingly, “Remember what happened, when one of Kai’s waistcoat button snapped as he pose?”

 

“I-“

 

“Answer me.”

 

“Chanhee dropped his pants. Literally.”

 

“Exactly,” Jaehyun whispered in horror, “And?”

 

“Changmin’s high shrieks took the cameramen so off guard it made two of his expensive cameras smashed into the ground.”

 

“And?”

 

“And-“

 

“And?” Jaehyun prodded because Juyeon had to face the ugly truth.

 

“Sunwoo unconsciously grabbed his junk while letting out a very loud moan right in front of Kai himself.”

 

The absolute terror that now dawned on Juyeon’s face was well deserved, “And what happened then,” Jaehyun continued, “When the said button flew off?”

 

“Haknyeon-“ Juyeon whispered in trepidation -eyes losing its focus.

 

“Yes, Haknyeon.”

 

“Haknyeon had yelled that it was his, as he and Youngjae battled it out and spilled paint all over the heaps of wardrobe-“

 

“Which was?”

 

“All Gucci.”

 

“All,” Jaehyun paused, “Gucci.”

 

“Chaos Jaehyun,” Juyeon was near sobbing now, “Jaehyun it was so bad and almost all of our staffs acted like they were possessed!!”

 

Juyeon bent forward as he bawled -covering his face with his palms.

 

“There, there,” Jaehyun offered condolences, circling his arm around Juyeon’s shoulder.

 

The meeting room door was being pushed opened. Jaehyun glanced through his shoulder and found a gaping Chanhee.

 

He mouthed a fuck off when Chanhee retreated by giving a very dirty wink.

 

“Look, you just-“ Jaehyun sighed as Juyeon rubbed his eyes and rested his back at the edge of the meeting table, “Need to plan it well.”

 

“Tips.”

 

“How preposterously shameless!!” Jaehyun snorted, “Is that really how you ask for help?”

 

“I’ll help with whatever it is you’re struggling with about that article, that had prevented you to dispel my kids away.”

 

“Deal.”

 

“Deal.”

 

But the thing was, Jaehyun wouldn't even imagine the meeting that supposed to bear fruit for them both, would become a drunk and heated discussion, on who was the best man to love.

 

Younghoon, or Sangyeon.

 

They were lounging on Jaehyun’s office floor.

 

It all started when almost all the staffs had gone home, and a delivery came for Juyeon in a huge box.

 

Jaehyun peered at it when Juyeon brought them inside Jaehyun’s office.

 

“What’s that?” Jaehyun asked casually, preparing the meeting spot inside his office so he and Juyeon could start working.

 

“Wonho’s agency gave me this,” Juyeon shrugged and put the box on top of Jaehyun’s table.

 

Jaehyun whistled when he saw two bottles of Henri Jayer from 1978, and a bottle of DRC Romanée-Conti Grand Cru, 1956, “What the fuck?” he actually laughed at the incredulity of the entirely way too expensive gifts.

 

Juyeon jutted his bottom lip out, giving Jaehyun a shake of head before his brows furrowed when he read the card that came with it.

 

“What, what, what?” Jaehyun looked over Juyeon’s shoulder to read it himself and laughed louder this time.

 

“What the fuck?”

 

“Juyeon what the fuck??” Jaehyun sat on one of his sofa to pull his tie loose, “Wonho is definitely trying to get in your pants. Fuck this is too funny!!”

 

His laugh was loud and obnoxious, but that didn't stop him from doing it in front of Juyeon’s face while the latter threw him a dirty look.

 

“You know, for someone claiming that the love he has for Sangyeon is otherworldly-“

 

Jaehyun winced at that.

 

“You still went to that romantic dinner on a yacht with Kai, as far as I remembered.”

 

Jaehyun spluttered indignantly, “Hey for your information, I agreed to his offer-“

 

“For a romantic date.”

 

“Fuck off!!” Jaehyun scoffed, “I agreed to his offer, just so he wouldn't sue us from indirect sexual harassment. Your kid, yes, your kid Sunwoo, God I can’t even forget the way his face twisted when he moaned-“ Jaehyun made a face, “Ew.”

 

Juyeon sighed and got up from his seat, walking toward Jaehyun’s cupboard.

 

“I’m sorry by the way,” Jaehyun said before he changed his mind.

 

“About?” Juyeon came back with two glasses of wine Jaehyun kept inside his office.

 

“That time,” Jaehyun cleared his throat, letting his eyes glanced outside the huge windows, “I belittled your feelings for Younghoon.”

 

Juyeon just hummed so Jaehyun stared at his colleague silently until Juyeon looked up at him from where he was seated on Jaehyun’s floor.

 

“I was angry,” Jaehyun said truthfully.

 

“I know.”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“Sure.”

 

“I didn't mean what I said to you back then.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Juyeon,” Jaehyun held back a frustrated sigh.

 

“What?”

 

So Jaehyun made sure he looked at Juyeon in the eyes and put his apology forward once again. Hoping Juyeon could see that he meant it when he said, “I’m terribly sorry.”

 

Juyeon blinked up at him -chest went up slowly as he exhaled before nodding, “Thank you for apologizing.”

 

Jaehyun let out a tentative smile, and tilted his head in confusion when Juyeon opened the DRC bottle, “What are you doing?”

 

“Opening my gift.”

 

Jaehyun’s lips parted, but then he couldn't be mistaken because Juyeon brought two glasses over, “You’re not going to share this with me right?” Jaehyun pointed out at his two empty glasses of wine that was now being filled by Juyeon.

 

“Yeah. Why not?”

 

“No. Why?” Jaehyun asked perplexed, “This is DRC Romanée-Conti Grand Cru, 1956. Fuck. Either you don't know how much this shit costs-”

 

“I know and I don't care,” Juyeon sipped from his glass and handed one to Jaehyun, “Drink it.”

 

“Thank you,” Jaehyun let out a chuckle, “I guess.”

 

Juyeon gave him roll of eyes.

 

And Jaehyun didn't really remember what happened after that, or how many glasses they drank, or what had caused this heated debate to start in the first place.

 

“Your Younghoon is too mild!! Too nice!! Boohoo, boring!!”

 

“Your Sangyeon throws too many jokes!! Dad jokes!!”

 

“He’s funny!! The disrespect!!”

 

“Well my Younghoon is kind!! You rude buffoon!!”

 

My Sangyeon is manly hands- hand- handsome!!” Jaehyun yelled, hugging the DRC bottle close to his chest, “I like his hands too. His hands I really love-“ he whispered silently because it hurt.

 

“What is that supposed to mean?!” Juyeon squawked in disgust, “My Younghoon is way more tasty-“ he gulped down the rest of the wine in his glass, “Than a sizzling steak from CUT at 45 Park Lane!!”

 

Jaehyun went quiet for a second as he -who somehow had also sat on his office floor, inched closer to Juyeon with brimming eyes, “Tasty?” he asked painfully jealous, before whispering, “You’ve given a blowjob to Younghoon?” Jaehyun couldn't believe Juyeon’s luck, “I haven’t even touch my lips anywhere near Sangyeon’s skin.”

 

“No,” Juyeon shook his head fast. Jaehyun watched as he seemed to regret his action, “No I haven’t. I really want to. I also never- fuck-“ Juyeon wiped a tear that rolled out freely to his cheek.

 

Jaehyun exhaled in sympathy as he gave Juyeon a tissue.

 

“I just-“ Juyeon sniffled, “Younghoon is so nice,” he whimpered, “He tied my tie for me at the entrance interview. He drenched himself every time he shares his umbrella with me-“

 

“Fuck-“ Jaehyun’s heart squeezed along with Juyeon, crying himself, patting tissues on his wet cheeks too, “I know how that feels.”

 

“Right?!” Juyeon wailed, “And then he just has to be so perfect, so helpful, so pleasant to be around with, and his words feels like magic spells that can lift me up every time I feel bad about myself.”

 

“Fuck-“ Jaehyun wailed harder, “I know how that feels.”

 

“And Jaehyun, Jaehyun, have I told you that we’re soulmates?”

 

“What?” Jaehyun blinked between his tears, deciding to try and empty the bottle as he tipped it around his lips.

 

“I mean how can we not when, well,” Juyeon wiped his uncontrollable tears with his sleeve, “My favourite Taylor Swift’s song is August right-“

 

“Yeah,” Jaehyun pulled back his snot loudly, “You made sure we all know that when you keep repeating them nonstop from your ‘I Love Younghoon So Much’ spotify playlist.”

 

Juyeon gaped and wept louder -seizing the bottle from Jaehyun and have some of the leftover wine himself, “You understand the ‘I.L.Y.S.M’ acronym?!! How come Younghoon does not?!!”

 

“Well if we’re talking about soulmates-“

 

“No, shush, no, shush-“ Juyeon used five of his fingers to pull at Jaehyun’s lips and turned it into a pucker, “I haven’t finished!!” he said hysterically.

 

“Okay, okay,” Jaehyun cried, “I’m sorry.”

 

“And I fell in love with the song, and decided to make it mine and Younghoon’s love story original soundtrack, because it represents so much of how I feel toward Younghoon. And then Younghoon’s birthday is in August!!”

 

“Oh my God!!” Jaehyun gasped loudly, wiping his nose with tissues as his eyes widened.

 

“And our job interview? The one where summer rain came so hard and let Younghoon be the starring role within my heart by saving me twice to make sure I could attend the interview safe and sound? The one where I met Younghoon for the first time and think that maybe love is not such a bad word?”

 

“You’re being weirdly poetic about this,” Jaehyun whispered as he shed a tear, and meant his words in a good way.

 

“It was in August!!”

 

“Oh my God you two are soulmates!!” Jaehyun had cried exasperatedly.

 

Jaehyun patted Juyeon’s folding back as the latter cried to his empty bottle of wine, “Why can’t he see it?!”

 

“I know,” Jaehyun suddenly felt a twinge in his chest that made his heart trembled, “Why can’t Sangyeon see that I’ve been longing for him too?”

 

“Fuck-“ Juyeon whispered as he finally glanced up, eyes and nose red with tears still swimming at the bottom of his lids, “I’m sorry.”

 

“I mean-“ Jaehyun bit his lip in agony, “Every year, every time I changed the calendar in my apartment, in my office, I keep seeing how the numbers changed each time, and my heart for Sangyeon stand still. Unchanging. Not going along with the moving years.”

 

“Fuck Jaehyun.”

 

“I lost my major gold badge -which is very sacred in our university,” Jaehyun cried through trembling lips, chest constricting remembering Sangyeon’s smile and comfort, “And I’ve been looking for it, and Sangyeon came and oh Juyeon,” Jaehyun keened on his palms, “He was so terrible. Such a terrible man when he sat me down gently to calm my frantic search for the gold badge-“

 

“Oh no,” Juyeon shed tears to his tissues.

 

“He was so awful. He got down on one knee in front of me-“

 

“Jaehyun oh my God how romantic!!”

 

“I know!!” Jaehyun took Juyeon’s tissues and used it to sneeze out his tears, “Sangyeon is such a horrible man, because he then tried to cheer me up by buying me strawberry milkshake, and strawberry flavoured milk!! Two of them!!”

 

“How nice!!” Juyeon gasped as another tear fell down, “He spoils you!!”

 

“He always does!! And have I told you that I lost my sacred gold badge?”

 

“Yes,” Juyeon whispered, hugging himself by crossing his arms over his shoulder.

 

“I never told him that, and Sangyeon then gave me his sacred gold badge!!”

 

“He can read your mind!!” Juyeon covered his lips with his palm as his eyes got a refill of fresh tears.

 

“He can read my mind!!” Jaehyun mourned out loud as his lids grew heavy from the on-going weeps.

 

“Soulmates,” Juyeon whispered.

 

“You think so?” Jaehyun asked weakly.

 

“Yes. Yes!!”

 

Jaehyun bit his lips and let out a shaky smile as they both rested their back on Jaehyun’s coffee table.

 

“You know, your Younghoon isn’t bad. He’s too nice for his own good,” Jaehyun considered after a long silence.

 

“He does?”

 

“Yes. I’ve been working under him for so long now. And there is never one moment where he doesn't have my back.”

 

“Well your Sangyeon is an amazing leader.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Yes. There’s always tenderness with the way he guides us. That he always listens to us first and actually take our opinions into considerations.”

 

“I think,” Jaehyun inhaled a wobbly breath, “There is a reason why we don’t work under them directly.”

 

“I don't think I can hold myself back if I worked under Younghoon.”

 

Jaehyun gasped loudly at this, “You also think you would jump on his lap and kissed him senseless and then fucked on his big desk and then fucked again against the file cabinets and also fucked against the huge copier, like I always thought about if I worked under Sangyeon too?” Jaehyun’s eyes were hopeful.

 

“Um,” Juyeon gave him a wavering look, “Not like that.”

 

“Oh,” Jaehyun’s shoulder slumped in disappointment.

 

“I only think I would be giving Younghoon flowers every day and communicate with him about work poetically, trying to romance him up.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“But yours is not bad too!!” Juyeon attempted, “It’s just, um, wilder.”

 

“Yeah I mean,” Jaehyun sighed as he stared up at his ceiling, “I don't think you can use my idea because it is not up to Younghoon’s alley.”

 

“I don’t think it’s up to Sangyeon’s alley’s too.”

 

Jaehyun laughed loudly, “Juyeon have you seen the way Sangyeon works out at the gym?”

 

“No.”

 

“Oh okay please don't,” Jaehyun said panickily, “Please don’t. I don't want you to fall in love with him too. Please don't fall in love with him.”

 

“Okay I won’t,” Juyeon whispered determinedly, “I promise.”

 

“Okay, thank you.”

 

“You’re welcome.”

 

“What I mean is, Younghoon is too nice to be romanced in a brusque way,” Jaehyun somehow despite his inebriated mind, recalled what he was about to say, “I can’t even-“

 

Jaehyun fell silent for a very long time.

 

“What?” Juyeon asked, nudging Jaehyun’s side with his elbow, before sitting up -eyes wide in alarm, “You’re not falling in love with Younghoon too right?!”

 

“No, no!!” Jaehyun sat up straight to wave his hands up, “Just- do you remember the cake he gave me?”

 

“The one you stepped on?”

 

“Fuck-“ Jaehyun squeezed his eyes shut at the awful memory, “I thought he deserved it. I was so angry. I’m still angry now but, but then I saw the destroyed cake box in his office waste paper bin-“

 

“No!!”

 

“And he didn't say anything about it.”

 

“And I’m still angry Juyeon,” Jaehyun swallowed the huge lump in his throat, “I still hate him so much for having Sangyeon by his side, but then I found myself buying him another cake as a silent apology. That’s how nice he feels to me. My subconscious doesn't even want to hate him.”

 

“You bought him a cake after that incident?”

 

“Well yes-“

 

“Because you’re sorry?”

 

“Yes-“

 

Jaehyun’s breath got caught in his throat when Juyeon’s hand went up to card his fingers through Jaehyun’s messy hair.

 

“What-“

 

“That’s very nice of you to do,” and Juyeon smiled like he was so proud of Jaehyun, looking a little amused like he didn't think Jaehyun would be capable of doing something like that.

 

It reminded Jaehyun of Sangyeon so he cried again, painfully accepting the way his heart pleaded for Sangyeon again.

 

Jaehyun spent so much of his time dreaming about Sangyeon. How it would be when he woke up and Sangyeon was right next to him. How it would be when Jaehyun would help Sangyeon getting ready for work each day of the week. How it would feel to have Sangyeon hugging him, kissing him, make love to him, because Sangyeon had loved him back.

 

And Jaehyun didn't want it to end. He didn't want to stop his flight of fancy where Sangyeon was his, because in reality, Sangyeon was someone else’s already. The wishful thinking was the only thing Jaehyun had now. The one thing he held tight to, so he could function without crumbling every time his brain decided to remind him that Sangyeon was never his.

 

So he told Juyeon this.

 

Hoping it would be some kind of resolution, where the end was a notion that Sangyeon could be his later on in the future.

 

“I don't want to stop yearning for Sangyeon.”

 

“It’s okay.”

 

“I don't want to stop waiting for Sangyeon.”

 

“It’s okay.”

 

“I don't want to stop loving Sangyeon.”

 

Juyeon, with crinkled eyes, patted Jaehyun’s head -letting out a tiny understanding smile, “It’s okay.”

 

 

***

 

 

“Did you guys fight?” Youngjae scolded with arms across his chest, “Did you at least make up after that?”

 

Jaehyun cleared his throat as his heavy, red, puffy eyes, met with Juyeon’s equally heavy, red, and puffy eyes -when they were stopped by Youngjae in the morning as they arrived somehow at the same time again, after last night’s embarrassing drunk heart to heart conversation or best described as crying festival, inside his office.

 

“Why are you two making each other cry?” Youngjae demanded.

 

When Jaehyun glanced at Juyeon, they both were quick on looking away because shit, this was humiliating.

 

Youngjae left with grumbles and Jaehyun locked his eyes on Juyeon.

 

“Last night never happened-“

 

“Never happened.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

04 – Flip the Coin

 

 

His back went stiff as soon as his ears picked up Younghoon’s voice entering the massive shared photo studio between Haut Monde and Gentlefolk.

 

Juyeon had been preparing for a special spread shoot since morning, and from what he could recall, the studio was solely booked by Gentlefolk today. He felt like leaving and hiding because Juyeon was still not ready-

 

“Sorry there,” Sangyeon held his arm to prevent him from falling as Juyeon crashed into his boss when he turned around, “You’re okay?”

 

“Yeah,” Juyeon answered curtly, not meeting Sangyeon’s eyes.

 

“Juyeon, hey.”

 

“What?” mumbling under his breath, Juyeon busied his eyes by looking around the set -pretending he needed to check more things even when everything was far more beyond ready.

 

“Look at me,” Sangyeon’s gentle order sucked air out of Juyeon’s lungs as he bit the inside of his bottom lip and finally laid his eyes on Sangyeon.

 

“Don’t worry,” Juyeon peeled Sangyeon’s grip on his arm away -shaking his head, “Everything is ready and in order. The schedules are all set and trust me when-“

 

“I believe you,” Sangyeon cut his rambling off.

 

“Great,” Juyeon took a shuddering breath and was ready to walk away once again when Sangyeon’s question made his feet almost stumbled.

 

“Do you think you can spare time for dinner with me after this?”

 

“I beg your pardon?” Juyeon gazed at Sangyeon, puzzled, wondering where did that come from.

 

Sangyeon blinked before chuckling softly, “People would think we never had dinner together from the way you reacted just now.”

 

“No- I mean-“ but Juyeon couldn't say anything because he knew Sangyeon was right.

 

But Sangyeon didn't know that Juyeon had been avoiding him like a plague. Have been wanting nothing to do with Sangyeon even at work because Juyeon’s heart still tear into pieces at night knowing there was no ransom from his grieving heart.

 

Sangyeon wouldn't know how much Juyeon’s heart had pitifully screamed so loud inside his head, it had made Juyeon clenched his knees tight within his palms -praying for it to stop because Juyeon had been so worn out.

 

Sangyeon wouldn't know the way Juyeon’s heart grew weary from loving someone so close to him yet so far from within his fingertips. How the heart Juyeon had been trying to save from shattering, betrayed his efforts by tripping on its welting form just so it could pull memories of Younghoon. Always ones that never failed to remind Juyeon how darling Younghoon was for him.

 

Sangyeon wouldn't know because Sangyeon got everything Juyeon had ever wanted. Sangyeon got Younghoon’s hands and heart within his palm to take home, as apparently Younghoon went and did the same too.

 

Not Juyeon.

 

“Do you have plans already?” Sangyeon asked -breaking his bitter musing.

 

Juyeon hid his fisting palms behind his back and licked his lips, “Sure. Let’s go now. I’m done anyway.”

 

Sangyeon gave him a soft smile as they both walked out from the studio. Juyeon took his belongings when he entered his office and walked out before turning the light’s off.

 

Sangyeon was waiting for him outside his door and Juyeon gave a slight nod before he walked beside Sangyeon toward the elevator.

 

His steps went to a full stop when Juyeon’s eyes met Jaehyun across the room -hair in disarray as the later stopped talking with Chanhee’s team to glance up at Juyeon and Sangyeon.

 

The gaze Jaehyun gave him was questioning and Juyeon about to mouth ‘nothing’ but was interrupted by Sangyeon who also had his head turning toward Jaehyun.

 

“Should we ask Jaehyun to join us-“

 

“No.”

 

His answer came out quick and sharp.

 

Sangyeon must have noticed because the taken aback look outlining Sangyeon’s features was unmistakable.

 

“No,” so Juyeon tried again. Quieter this time, “I don't think it's a good idea.”

 

“Why not?”

 

Juyeon couldn't read Sangyeon’s expression, so when the elevator dinged and opened its door, he got inside and hoped Sangyeon would drop the subject.

 

But he didn't.

 

Sangyeon always had a small smile on his face. Juyeon casted his mind back to the first time he wondered what was it that made Sangyeon was so nice to look at.

 

He asked himself what was it that even when Sangyeon silently keeping to himself -working with trained patience of determination, Juyeon found himself wanting to stare, wanting to come closer and just asked things, learned a thing or two.

 

It was a different kind of attachment from what Juyeon harboured for Younghoon. He came to a conclusion one day, realizing it was as simple as an effect of a smile -the one Sangyeon always sporting.

 

Sangyeon’s face was always relaxed and Juyeon took note how even when faced with difficult situations, Sangyeon still found a time to smile it away -finding solutions with a light heart.

 

“Why not?” Sangyeon asked him again, after they sat in front of each other in the restaurant nearby -placing their usual order before Sangyeon started the conversation with his unanswered question.

 

Juyeon played stupid, “What are you talking about?” finishing almost half of his beer.

 

“Why can’t Jaehyun come with us?”

 

“I never said that.”

 

“You said no to my propositions of it.”

 

“What do you want?”

 

“Are you and Jaehyun really dating?”

 

“What’s it for you?”

 

“It’s just simply a question I think,” Sangyeon sipped from his glass.

 

Juyeon looked away from Sangyeon’s gaze as he motioned for the waiter to bring him another because Juyeon had finished his beer even before his food arrive.

 

“It’s none of your business-“

 

“Because you see,” but Sangyeon cut him off without missing a beat, “You and Jaehyun spent years trying to debunk the rumours.”

 

“Once again, it’s none of anyone’s business.”

 

“And one day, Jaehyun came to me and insisted that you guys aren’t dating.”

 

“Why would he do that?”

 

“You tell me.”

 

Juyeon landed his eyes on the phone he put on top of the table when it vibrated, showing Jaehyun’s name as an incoming call. He picked it up -giving Sangyeon a small apologetic smile, “Jaehyun,” calling out Jaehyun’s name softly as he answered the call.

 

From the corner of his eyes, Juyeon saw the way Sangyeon rested his back against his chair, gently relaying his gratitude to the waiter who just delivered their food.

 

“Should I be worried?”

 

Jaehyun said through the line.

 

“No,” Juyeon shook his head slightly, lips twitching into a fond smile because he badly trying to supress the urge to tell Jaehyun that his lovely Sangyeon had looked nothing but jealous in Juyeon’s eyes.

 

Juyeon decided to tell Jaehyun later. At least one of them should have small victories like this. His heart twinged at the satisfaction swimming hard at the thought of Younghoon hurting. Juyeon only had half the heart to feel sorry for Younghoon. Never once -Juyeon smiled bitterly to himself, Younghoon tried and  reached for Juyeon’s heart pathetic whimpers to be recognized. Younghoon never cared to.

 

“I’ll catch up with you later,” Juyeon made sure he kept his composure, “Let’s go home together,” gently trying to give Jaehyun a sign that he was in the middle of something.

 

“Damn it I just arrived at the basement Juyeon!!”

 

Jaehyun grumbled and Juyeon couldn't stop laughing to himself because he knew Jaehyun would go back up to their office floor. There was no way Jaehyun could wait to hear the whole story of him and Sangyeon having dinner together.

 

“Wait for me?” and Juyeon made sure to put moderate amount of adore -wanting to know what Sangyeon reaction was after this phone call ended.

 

“Shut up.”

 

Jaehyun cut the call and Juyeon bit his bottom lip lightly -shaking his head in amusement before turning his gaze back to Sangyeon who was looking at him with a tiny smile on his face.

 

“Don’t worry,” Sangyeon gestured for Juyeon to start eating as he too reached for his utensils, “I won’t keep you long.”

 

“I’m glad,” Juyeon smiled but didn't start eating as he peered at Sangyeon carefully, “What do you want to talk about?”

 

“Jaehyun,” Sangyeon said as a matter of factly.

 

The straightforwardness caught Juyeon off guard, “What about him?”

 

“There are things I want to ask, but I don't know if I even should.”

 

“What makes you think you shouldn't?”

 

“You never really answer the first question I asked you,” Sangyeon gave a shrug.

 

Juyeon kept drinking from his glass.

 

His food untouched.

 

“Ask anyway.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Weren’t you the one that was supposed to be asking?”

 

“Juyeon-“ Sangyeon put down his spoon.

 

“No, I want to hear it. Come on,” Juyeon gritted his teeth, “Say it.”

 

“I don't think you can answer it if the answer to my first question is a no.”

 

And what really ticked Juyeon, was how casual Sangyeon had looked, had said everything, when it was painfully obvious for Juyeon, that Sangyeon was jealous. So jealous about the fact that now, he wasn’t the only apple of Jaehyun’s eyes. At least that what Sangyeon believed Juyeon thought to himself.

 

“Say it,” but Juyeon wasn't about to back down. Despite the odds, he somehow found comradeship in Jaehyun. And if Juyeon played his card right, he might be able to tell Jaehyun that Sangyeon was jealous-

 

“Younghoon has been a little stressed out,” Sangyeon sighed.

 

Huh.

 

A big lump was forming in Juyeon’s throat.

 

Sangyeon looked a little devastated.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“He’s-“ Sangyeon straightened his back, “Younghoon I mean, having it hard these days.”

 

“Why?” Juyeon hated how fast the question left his lips. He felt like crying at the way his heart slipping from the sanity it had left, and hammered against Juyeon’s ribcage -trying to go to Younghoon, wanting to get rid of everything that made things hard for Younghoon, wanting to caress Younghoon softly so Younghoon would feel safe.

 

“Younghoon has insisted that Jaehyun is not- not the same anymore.”

 

The way his blood ran fast through his veins, made Juyeon shivered involuntarily.

 

“And I keep saying that maybe Jaehyun has been having it hard too. That maybe it’s just him -Younghoon I mean, being sensitive-“

 

Juyeon’s nose started to feel warm.

 

“But one day Younghoon came home crying-“

 

Home?

 

“Then I can’t quite remember. But he kept saying Jaehyun really hates him-“

 

What did Sangyeon meant by home?

 

Another glass was emptied by Juyeon.

 

“That Jaehyun has grown to hate him- and Younghoon kept bumbling about- about cakes-, and I just-“ Sangyeon was frustrated. Juyeon could see it.

 

Younghoon’s pains were Sangyeon’s pains too.

 

Juyeon could hear it.

 

Another glass was fast at being emptied.

 

“The only thing I want is for Younghoon to be okay again. He’s smiling but it’s not really there. And I hate seeing him like that-“ Sangyeon put his head down, covering his face with his palms.

 

The loud thud coming from his chest brought agonizing aches toward Juyeon’s defeated heart.

 

Juyeon had lost count on how many glasses he downed.

 

Ears filled with Sangyeon’s undiluted concerns for Younghoon. Head filed with Sangyeon’s question about how maybe Juyeon knew what had happened to Jaehyun, how Sangyeon couldn't bring himself to ask the question to Jaehyun himself.

 

Juyeon’s eyes grew hazy when his intoxicated mind started to fog his vision as he walked back to the office after dinner was over, exiting the elevator as he spotted Jaehyun working inside the dimly lighted small meeting room -glass door was wide opened.

 

He was sorry.

 

Juyeon was sorry that things didn't go like what he had thought it would.

 

Juyeon was sorry that he couldn't say that Sangyeon had been jealous to Jaehyun.

 

Juyeon was sorry for himself because his heart was still hurting over Younghoon.

 

“Are you drunk?” Jaehyun was frowning as he got up from his seat.

 

Juyeon was sorry because-

 

“Juyeon fuck-“ Jaehyun sounded a little out of breath when Juyeon staggered on his feet, as the former was quick on rescuing Juyeon before he fell.

 

“I’m sorry,” so Juyeon had muttered under bated breath, swatting Jaehyun’s grasp on him, trying to stand on his feet with his own strength that he must muster.

 

“What is going on?”

 

“I’m sorry,” but the effort to have strength felt too difficult and Juyeon deserved to let out a sorrowful whimpers of heartaches.

 

“Juyeon-“

 

“I’m sorry,” because Juyeon was sorry, really sorry, “I’m sorry,” for the fact that he couldn't bring Jaehyun at least a bit of good news. That Sangyeon was probably jealous, but apparently he was not.

 

Jaehyun’s lips formed a thin line as his jaw tightened -staring at him silently.

 

“Jaehyun forgive me,” Juyeon was sorry, that a home had been built by Sangyeon and Younghoon to keep their love under a warm and nurturing roof, “You don't deserve it.”

 

Juyeon clenched his eyes shut tight -feeling tears so thick with woe, tumbling down his cheeks, “We don't deserve this,” he had whispered quietly.

 

Juyeon was sorry to his wounded heart.

 

“I’m sorry,” then Juyeon apologized to his heart by clasping the front of his sweater tautly, “I’m sorry that I can’t stop wanting Younghoon.”

 

Juyeon was sorry to his barely beating heart.

 

“I’m sorry that I can’t stop loving Younghoon,” but Juyeon’s eyes were screwed tight -scared it would bring more tears if they were not shut. But how come tears kept spilling over his soaked cheeks? How come Juyeon hadn’t wrung out every drops he must have a limit over?

 

Juyeon could only apologize and so he did.

 

But everything was getting too much to bear, and Juyeon twisted the fabric of his sweater more, his other hand went down to grasp his wobbling knees, praying harder that it would be enough to not let him fall on his knees -surrendering to the way his heart resisted a mere thought of loving someone else, other than Younghoon.

 

“I’m sorry,” and Juyeon sobbed out, apologizing to his own heart, “I don’t want to stop loving Younghoon,” Juyeon let his feet betrayed him. Letting them pulled Juyeon down disgracefully to the floor along with his suffering heart.

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

The only sound to be heard within the gnawing silence were aching whimpers from Juyeon’s lips.

 

Juyeon wouldn't hear the already faint footsteps approaching the opened meeting room glass door.

 

The only thing to see within Juyeon’s tightly shut eyes must be dark griefs.

 

It was impossible for Juyeon to see Younghoon, standing at the door behind him in absolute dread.

 

 

***

 

 

“Fate is sexy,” Haknyeon made sure he looked charming enough.

 

“Your brain is dumb,” Changmin rolled his eyes at Haknyeon who played around with a coin between his fingers.

 

“No, I’m telling you, letting this coin determined everything I do, is sexy,” Haknyeon read somewhere last night that fate was considered a romantic word when you want to woo someone.

 

“Is absolutely stupid,” Jacob commented as he passed by.

 

“No, it is not!!” Haknyeon yelled out and huffed before turning back to Changmin, “Listen, it’s not stupid-“

 

“So like if I asked you to bed me tonight, you wouldn't say yes-“

 

Haknyeon flapped around undignifiedly.

 

“If the coin told you no?” Changmin raised a brow.

 

“What- what- what-“ Haknyeon’s lips fluttered off-puttingly, “What are you saying? What are you saying-“

 

“I’m saying I don't bed imbecilic brute,” Changmin clicked his tongue and walked away.

 

Haknyeon’s eyes went back and forth between Changmin and the coin in his hands.

 

“Stupid coin!!” Haknyeon slammed his coin on the shiny floor before running after Changmin, almost crashing into Chanhee who let out an indignant scream.

 

“Sorry!!” Haknyeon yelled through his shoulder.

 

Chanhee narrowed his eyes in annoyance before he himself almost got another collision as he turned on his heels.

 

“Hey there, careful.”

 

“Sunwoo,” Chanhee breathed in relief, “Sorry about that.”

 

“It’s fine- oh!!” Sunwoo’s eyes went wide in excitement, “A coin!!” bending down to pick up the coin Haknyeon just threw.

 

“Should I be worried about the fact that you look thrilled over a coin?”

 

“No, I mean,” Sunwoo grinned, “Haut Monde made an article about this no? You made it.”

 

Chanhee didn't even remember, “Right.”

 

“You don't remember, do you?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Sunwoo tipped his head back in a laugh, “You know, that ‘romantic ways to pursue your beau’?”

 

“Right.”

 

“It’s okay Chanhee,” Sunwoo chuckled softly, “You don't have to pretend you remember.”

 

“I remember!!” Chanhee stomped on his feet.

 

“Right,” raising a brow, Sunwoo played with the coin, “One of them is about talking up fate,” he reached behind Chanhee’s ears -made an extravagant hand movement to show Chanhee that the coin had vanished.

 

Chanhee couldn't even try to look unimpressed, “You know magic?” eyes sparkling.

 

“Not really, no,” Sunwoo gave out a shy shrug as he ducked down to take Chanhee’s hand.

 

Sunwoo put Chanhee’s palm up and covered it with his own, “I don't know magic,” he rubbed their palms together before releasing the hand that grazed against Chanhee’s palm, but keeping the one on Chanhee’s wrist, “But I know a thing or two about fate.”

 

Chanhee hid one of his free hand behind his back and turned it into fist to stop his heart from beating too fast, “And that is?”

 

The coin appeared on Chanhee’s palm and Sunwoo glanced up with a sheepish smile, “I was horny last night and suddenly, right in that exact moment, I came across a Kamasutra article- ow!! Ow!!”

 

Teeth gritting in annoyance, Chanhee ploughed away at Sunwoo’s arms, “You!! Dirty!! Fucker!!”

 

“Hey!! Hey!!” Sunwoo laughed between his grimace -face and tips of ears reddening, “I’m joking!! I’m joking!!”

 

“You’re so-“ Chanhee clutched the coin in his hand tightly.

 

“I’m sorry,” Sunwoo chuckled -looking embarrassingly coy, “I didn't mean-“

 

But Chanhee stopped him before he went further and pulled out his phone, “What Jaehyun?” he looked back at Sunwoo from head to toe one more time in absolute disgust, before walking toward Jaehyun’s office.

 

“That’s not really smooth.”

 

“Fuck off Youngjae!!” Sunwoo ran a hand through his face, “Some of us doesn't have a sugar daddy!!”

 

“Just because I call him Papi, doesn't mean he’s my sugar daddy!!”

 

 

***

 

 

“I want you to make sure that the contract is ready for tonight on my desk- no, of course I’m coming to work,” Jaehyun stopped typing away from his laptop.

 

Sitting in his working space area behind the living room sofa, Jaehyun groaned hearing Chanhee’s nagging in the morning.

 

“I just need to take care of some things first,” he reasoned -sipping from his coffee, “I’m ready for work- what do you mean you want a video call as proof that I’m ready for work? That’s preposterous!!” because Jaehyun was still in his red shorts and oversized white shirt as his pyjamas. Chanhee didn't need to know.

 

“I promise I won’t let you attend tonight’s meeting all by yourself,” he promised with a sigh, “Thank you Chanhee.”

 

Jaehyun grumbled before finishing his eggs and toasts.

 

He really didn't want to go to work.

 

Getting up from his seat, Jaehyun walked toward his kitchen and rinsed everything before putting them in his dishwasher.

 

“Hi.”

 

“Good morning,” Jaehyun answered without looking up -back still bending trying to make sure his dishwasher was working properly.

 

When he finally turned toward the voice, Jaehyun clicked his tongue at the sight of Juyeon.

 

Jaehyun had to drag Juyeon -heavy and long limbs Juyeon, back to his place. After what happened last night, Jaehyun didn't think he had the energy to be driving Juyeon back to his own place, taking him up, and then went home. No. Just, no.

 

A small shiver ran through Jaehyun’s arms when his head recalled last night. Younghoon was-

 

“I’m sorry,” Juyeon actually looked embarrassed. Fingers tangling in slight nervousness, his head down refusing to look at Jaehyun.

 

“Just to clear things up,” Jaehyun cleared his throat.

 

It made Juyeon glanced up.

 

“I didn't change your clothes, because ew,” he said flatly, “Am not going to undress you. Ever.”

 

Juyeon’s lips parted. Gaping. Closing his lips just to open them again.

 

God. Poor lad, Jaehyun thought to himself. He actually felt bad when he took his time to study Juyeon closely.

 

Juyeon’s hair was all over the place. He was still in his crumpled outfit from last night. His cheeks were blotchy red, while his eyes were puffy. And also red around the edges. Jaehyun could even still see rashes at the tip of Juyeon’s nose. Probably because the latter rubbed them so much from crying last night.

 

God. Poor lad.

 

“Now, are you going to work or not?” Jaehyun asked again.

 

“Yes, um, I-“

 

“Do you really have to?”

 

“What do you mean?” Juyeon’s eyes fluttered in confusion.

 

Jaehyun hoped Juyeon couldn't see how much Jaehyun felt sorry for him, “If you have nothing important at work today, call Hak and ask him to be independent and lead his pack for once.”

 

“Why?” now Juyeon looked nervous, “Is there-“

 

“We need to talk.”

 

“Right. Okay, um-“

 

“Your phone is being charged in the guest bedroom where you slept. It’s on top of the nightstand.”

 

“Oh-“

 

“I have a couple of shirts and shorts in the dresses. Use it. Take a shower, I’ll cook you breakfast-“

 

“You don’t have to-“

 

“And,” Jaehyun cut Juyeon off pointedly, “We can talk.”

 

“Right. Thank you Jaehyun,” Juyeon stammered as he walked back toward Jaehyun’s guest bedroom.

 

From where he was standing, Jaehyun could hear Juyeon talking to Haknyeon. Jaehyun didn't know if he had the heart to tell Juyeon about last night.

 

How Jaehyun’s eyes met Younghoon’s eyes as soon as Juyeon fell down on his knees -apologizing to himself for not being able to stop loving Younghoon.

 

Jaehyun cooked Juyeon the same breakfast he just ate, and wondered if he could bring himself to tell Juyeon that Younghoon had looked stunned, staggering in shock -feet moving forward before stopping when Jaehyun mouthed ‘leave’ at him coldly.

 

Placing Juyeon’s plate and cup of coffee on the dining table, Jaehyun could smell his shampoo wafting as soon as Juyeon got out from the bedroom. Nicely showered this time around, hair still damp when he sat down in front of Jaehyun -looking up, uncertain.

 

“Eat.”

 

And Juyeon did just that. They should talk after Juyeon had finished his breakfast. Because Jaehyun still couldn't decide whether he should tell Juyeon about it.

 

About how Juyeon’s heartaches for Younghoon, had been heard by the man himself.

 

About how maybe, not going to work today would be a good choice for Juyeon’s sake.

 

About-

 

“Can you tell me now what went wrong?” Juyeon’s voice broke his train of thoughts.

 

Jaehyun eyed the indeed empty plate and glass of water. Juyeon was nursing his coffee -peering at Jaehyun looking highly strung.

 

“Why do you think something went wrong?”

 

“You basically told me not to go to work today-“

 

“You were drunk,” Jaehyun started softly -eyes landing on his opened curtain, letting rays of sun came to wash Jaehyun’s dining area.

 

“That doesn't make it-“

 

“Really drunk,” a weak smile tugged on his lips when Jaehyun finally finished preparing himself to see Juyeon in the eyes, “You were crying so hard by the time you reached the office.”

 

Juyeon’s lips went shut at that.

 

“And you apologized. Kept apologizing,” Jaehyun’s stomach quivered because he too had some questions for Juyeon.

 

Jaehyun was selfish. He still wanted to know what happened between Juyeon and Sangyeon. What did they talk about, that had turned Juyeon into a sobbing mess? Jaehyun wanted to know if Sangyeon mentioned him, if it had something to do with him.

 

“First you apologized to me. And then I think,” Jaehyun stopped himself, recalling the memory, “I think you started apologizing to yourself.”

 

It was hard not to notice the way Juyeon’s eyes turned dim before it was covered in a thin veils of transparent anguish.

 

“Can I ask what happened?” so Jaehyun decided not to tell Juyeon about the accidental declaration he did, on his feelings for Younghoon.

 

To say Juyeon was uncomfortable would be an understatement. Because Juyeon started to twist in his seat. His neck turned red and his eyes busily trying to find a place to land itself other than Jaehyun.

 

“Why did you apologize to me?” preparing his heart to whatever about to come of Juyeon’s mouth, Jaehyun leaned forward to give Juyeon’s hand a small squeeze across the table.

 

Juyeon had his eyes shut for a while -opening them when Jaehyun retracted his hand away.

 

“Sangyeon had looked jealous,” Juyeon breathed shakily in a frail chuckle.

 

Jaehyun clasped his fingers together when his heart felt like leaping out of his chest. It beat impossibly faster, “About?”

 

“Us,” Juyeon offered a distressed smile, “You know, if you ever feel like resenting me for telling everyone that we are dating, feel free to do so. I’m sorry Jaehyun.”

 

“No-“

 

“I was angry. I spent my night defeatedly lonely the first time I knew that Younghoon and Sangyeon-“ Juyeon bit his lip and looked away to compose himself, “And I said it, said that we are dating, just out of spite. Because I want to know what Younghoon reaction would be like. Wondered if he would be bothered even just the slightest, and-“

 

“It’s fine.”

 

“I’m sorry for dragging you into my problems-“

 

“I can’t say I didn't get a kick out of it too.”

 

Juyeon gazed at him silently.

 

“I too, consciously trying to gauge Sangyeon’s reaction. I didn't deny it and went along with what you said, because I was hoping that Sangyeon would at least- that he at least-“ Jaehyun swallowed his aches down his throat, “Would think that he lost something. That he lost me.”

 

“But that’s absolute nonsense now, isn’t it?” Jaehyun squeezed his hands together, “Because I know for a fact that I will come back on my knees again if he ever call to take me in his arms.”

 

Jaehyun’s heart thrashed wildly for how true everything was.

 

“So Juyeon, please,” Jaehyun braved himself -trying a smile even when its bitter, “Tell me what happened.”

 

“Sangyeon pestered me about whether we were really dating or not, so I thought, hey, maybe not both of us have to be miserable, maybe you can be hopeful about your feelings for Sangyeon-“

 

“But you’re wrong.”

 

“I was wrong,” Juyeon’s smile was too, bitter, “I apologized to you, because I thought wrong. I was thinking of giving you somehow a tiny victorious news, but I was wrong.”

 

“You don’t have to apologize.”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“What did Sangyeon want then?”

 

“He asked if I knew what went wrong between you and Younghoon.”

 

Jaehyun’s chest trembled slowly before laughter came out of his strained throat. The tears he had been holding so well, fell freely from the corner of his eyes -bringing warmth along his skin as it went straight to his neck, “This is so funny.”

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

“Stop,” Jaehyun’s warning was rigid as his empty laughter cut short abruptly, “Stop it.”

 

“Of course.”

 

“Did it make you sad?”

 

“I don't understand.”

 

“Juyeon, why did you apologize to yourself so hard, when I am the most pathetic one in that narrative?”

 

“Because I took triumph at the thought of Younghoon hurting, the first time I assumed Sangyeon was jealous.”

 

“And?”

 

“Because I also took it hard, when I heard Younghoon had been having a hard time. When I heard that Younghoon was hurting.”

 

Jaehyun’s silent scoff was followed by the blasting sound of his heart hurling down.

 

He wondered if Sangyeon would care enough to ask if Jaehyun was hurting too.

 

 

***

 

 

“I want to go home~” Chanhee wailed.

 

“Then just go,” Jaehyun slumped in his office chair after a strenuous late night meeting.

 

“I can’t leave if my boss isn’t leaving,” Chanhee pointed out in a pout.

 

“You can,” he laughed fondly, “It’s a command.”

 

“Funny that you think you can give me some kind of command.”

 

Of course.

 

Jaehyun grumbled out the remnants of his laughter, “Go.”

 

“Bye~”

 

Jaehyun could tell how empty the office was when he could hear the elevator dinged from his desk. Stretching out lazily, Jaehyun about to close his eyes when dread washed over him as soon as he heard Younghoon calling out his name.

 

“Jaehyun please,” Younghoon walked inside when Jaehyun got up and started to pick up his belongings, wanting to get away from this, “Let’s talk-“

 

“No.”

 

“I wouldn't know,” Younghoon’s words stopped Jaehyun, “I didn't know that Juyeon- he- that he- to me-“

 

“Say it,” Jaehyun scoffed menacingly, “Say it.”

 

Dismay filled Younghoon’s eyes as it went hazy, “He’s yours.”

 

Jaehyun’s laughter echoed so loud it almost made himself flinched.

 

“Jaehyun, I’m sorry-”

 

“Who’s mine again?” his sardonic question was filled with pure disdain.

 

Younghoon’s stiffening frame was too visible, “I would never take him away from you-“

 

“But you fucking did!!” the bag he had been holding tight made a loud thump against the floor when Jaehyun threw it -screeching out his frustration to the one he knew deserved it, as his exhausted brain told him.

 

Tears swelled at the bottom of Younghoon’s lids and Jaehyun refused to accept the appearance of compassion when it came hard on him, from seeing Younghoon trembling in nothing but guilt.

 

Younghoon should feel guilty about taking Sangyeon away from him.

 

“You fucking did,” Jaehyun whispered in such malice, “You stole him away from me, you locked me out of my own happiness, you laid your hands on what was supposed to be mine.”

 

A sharp single sob escaped Younghoon’s tight lips but Jaehyun was too hurt to know better. Too wounded to think wisely.

 

“You must be really happy, huh?” Jaehyun fisted his quivering fingers out of anger, “So over the moon for having everything being handed to you on a silver platter.”

 

Jaehyun was hurting. This was all Younghoon’s fault.

 

“When was the last time you have someone else run off with what was supposed to be yours?”

 

“When was the last time you worked so hard to just realize it was futile because someone else robbed the outcome?”

 

“When was the last time you loved someone so much,” he breathed painfully -heart was alive to torment him, so Jaehyun must punish Younghoon too, “Just to have them turning away and find their own bliss with someone else?”

 

Jaehyun was hurting. So Younghoon must hurt too.

 

“Never?” Jaehyun didn't expect an answer for his rhetorical question, “I thought so,” he just taunted.

 

Jaehyun had been hurting.

 

Tears spilled mercilessly over Younghoon’s cheek.

 

This last one was for Juyeon.

 

“You sicken me.”

 

But not like Juyeon who thought he would be able to bring Jaehyun small good news, Jaehyun knew he wouldn't tell any of this to Juyeon. Jaehyun knew he would take this to his grave because he still couldn't find any ounce of satisfaction after he did what he did to Younghoon, no matter how deserving it was according to his wounded heart.

 

 

***

 

 

“I said,” Juyeon repeated, talking slower this time, “What are you doing here?”

 

Younghoon was the perfect picture of shambles when Juyeon caught him walking away from his apartment complex.

 

It was way past midnight when Juyeon landline rang. The security called him and said someone was waiting for him in the lobby. His bewilderment wasn’t answered because the security then told him the guy had walked out the lobby now, and he didn't have the chance to ask any names.

 

Juyeon thought he’d seen wrong, but Younghoon’s back was too familiar so Juyeon ran to catch up -pulling Younghoon’s shoulder toward him, was left off guard when he saw red rashes over Younghoon’s cheeks and rimmed eyes.

 

Fresh tears still rolled out and the sight was enough to clench Juyeon’s heart in absolute despair.

 

Younghoon stared back at him in utter daze, lips parting as if wanting to say something -getting stopped every time choked whimpers got caught in Younghoon’s throat to force another tears out.

 

Juyeon kept his lips shut when he decided to drag Younghoon inside and up to his unit. He guided Younghoon to sit on his sofa before grabbing a bottle of cold water from his kitchen -putting it in front of Younghoon whose eyes was set on Juyeon’s coffee table.

 

Running fingers through his hair, Juyeon rubbed his eyes and sighed.

 

It brought a flinch to Younghoon’s frame and Juyeon instantly felt bad.

 

He was pathetic.

 

“What are you doing here,” so Juyeon repeated, hoping he would get an answer this time.

 

And it made Juyeon’s heart suffered so much, when Younghoon looked up in a weak smile as tears kept flowing down -fingers pointing at the magazine on his table, “It’s an old one,” Younghoon muttered under a badly concealed hiccup.

 

Juyeon knew what Younghoon meant. The Haut Monde issues he treasured so much, “Answer me,” but he wanted to know, wondered why Younghoon was not ‘home’, in a place where Sangyeon must have waited for him anxiously because this was really late.

 

“It was-“ Younghoon wiped his cheeks carelessly with the back of his hand, “It’s from three years ago,” but he still didn't answer, “Sangyeon had left for Paris.”

 

“Younghoon-“

 

But it was like Younghoon couldn't hear him, taking the magazine carefully before flipping it open and stopped right on the Editor’s Letter, “It was hard for you, wasn't it?” Younghoon kept the tiny smile on his face when he glanced up at Juyeon.

 

An uneasy feeling starting at the pit of Juyeon’s stomach.

 

“I’ll let you in on a secret,” the image was outright sad -how Younghoon’s smile trembled because he couldn't seem to stop himself from crying, “It was really hard for me too.”

 

Juyeon didn't know where this was going but fear was looming around his pummelling heart.

 

“That particular time was overwhelming for me,” Younghoon kept talking, not minding anything other than making sure Juyeon heard him and not interrupt him, “Even when the job outlines are similar, it’s so different how it works in Haut Monde and Gentlefolk,” taking a shuddering breath, Younghoon grimaced for a split second when he shed a tear, “You did an amazing job,” he gave Juyeon an eye crinkling smile -so painful to see, “It wasn’t hard to help you out because you made things easier for me in my effort to manage Gentlefolk when Sangyeon was gone.”

 

Younghoon’s fingers traced the small letters of the Editor’s Letter content.

 

“Sangyeon had a hard time too back then.”

 

Juyeon’s spine jerked up.

 

He didn't want Younghoon to continue whatever this was-

 

“He didn't tell me exactly, but I knew. So I decided not to share how much I was struggling also. To Sangyeon.”

 

The sound of his heart tearing was defeaning.

 

But Juyeon could still hear Younghoon’s streams of words, and Juyeon knew exactly what Younghoon was trying to tell him. He didn't know why Younghoon would-

 

“I don't know if you remember,” Younghoon rubbed his palms on his swollen eyes, “But you were isolating yourself, crying because it was too much, and it made me really sad.”

 

Juyeon couldn't breathe.

 

Stop.

 

“And you had looked so relieved. Lighter then in your steps, after sharing your worries with me so I thought to myself-“

 

Please stop.

 

“Achieving something with your own strength is as satisfying as it can get, but I believe nothing can ever beat the feeling of relief when you know you have someone else to lean on,” Younghoon quoted what he said in his own Editor Letter.

 

The one Juyeon thought was for him.

 

It was supposed to be for him.

 

“And I felt so comforted when I told Sangyeon-“

 

“What are you doing?” Juyeon cut Younghoon off in vexation so vicious.

 

“About the struggle I was facing back then,” but Younghoon didn't stop, “Despite the time difference, Sangyeon listened and tried to cheer me up, helping me with all he got-“

 

“Stop-“

 

 “And I couldn't be happier,” Younghoon put down the magazine, tears all dried up as he gazed back at Juyeon with earnest plea, “When Sangyeon finally opened up and shared his exertion with me too-“

 

Juyeon didn't know where this was all coming from. It was too tragic how Juyeon was the one casting a tear when Younghoon had stopped himself from it.

 

“What do you want from me?” it was pointless for him to try and hide because if Younghoon did this, it meant that he knew about Juyeon’s feelings for him.

 

So Juyeon laid his raw and pent up emotions all on the line for Younghoon to see.

 

“Sangyeon and I-“

 

“Enough,” his chest rumbled. Juyeon set out to wrench everything related to Younghoon from his thwarting heart.

 

Younghoon watched him silently, timid, so delicate with the way he was telling Juyeon that there would never be a chance for a future where Younghoon would reciprocate Juyeon’s feelings. Younghoon had gracefully put in a picture of how he was a taken man, by someone Juyeon knew closely.

 

Younghoon was turning him down gently.

 

“I get it,” and Juyeon had to look away because nonetheless, he gave in to abusing himself once again with how in love he was with Younghoon, “Sangyeon is your stars, moon, your sun and everything that I can never be.”

 

Juyeon once thought about this particular situation. Long ago where he was still so insecure about what he didn't have yet Younghoon had. How it would be when Younghoon turned him down considerately because Juyeon knew the only thing that made Juyeon felt as good as Younghoon, was the manner of the same perfume that they used.

 

In his imagination, Younghoon would act exactly like he did just now. Subdued, making sure he didn't cause too much damage to Juyeon’s tender and fragile feelings.

 

But Juyeon had thought he himself would be angrier, more spiteful, more wicked, rather than just surrendering to this dull defeated feeling.

 

Maybe Juyeon too, subconsciously had his premonitions about ways his love for Younghoon would end.

 

“Every time we said goodbye after work,” Juyeon owed himself this, “You always said it lightly because for you it was just another ‘I’ll see you tomorrow’. But for me, it’s always about how you didn't come home with me. To me.”

 

“Juyeon-“

 

“I dream a lot that we were in love,” if Younghoon had his say, Juyeon wanted to have his too. So he didn't let Younghoon intervened, “I dare myself to start thinking that you would love me back somehow. But then every day I wake up, and we weren’t in love. You’re not in love with me.”

 

Juyeon felt like leaning over to wipe the incoming tears at the bottom of Younghoon’s lids. But he didn't. Because he wasn’t allowed.

 

“And I tell myself repeatedly, to wait for you. That I can wait for you forever,” his chest tightened so Juyeon helped himself by inhaling a quiet breath -albeit shuddered, “And perhaps,” albeit painful, “That forever has always been fruitless, but I was just foolish enough to care, because I just want you. I just really, really want you.”

 

It wasn't fair how Younghoon was the one crying when Juyeon’s heart was the one shattering.

 

“Waiting then feel easier at times because I got used to it. I wait more, praying one day you would let me show you how much I care for you, even for just a split moment.”

 

Juyeon swallowed the aching lumps clogging his lungs, “But Younghoon, you never reached out to my heart. The romance I kept hidden was never given a chance to show themselves to you. Showing you that everything is there, just for you, to take.”

 

“I’m sorry-“

 

“You’re not.”

 

“Juyeon-“

 

“You came here,” Juyeon pointed out -heart falling into pieces, “To hurt me. You’re not sorry- you don’t feel sorry for me-“

 

“I wish I didn't have to do this-“

 

“But you did.”

 

His answer seemed to bring Younghoon so much anguish as Juyeon watched Younghoon screwed his eyes shut when his lips whimpered in a sharp sob, “I didn't know- that you’ve been feeling this way-“

 

“Would you take my heart if you knew?” Juyeon hated how tiny hopes still bloomed between the cracks of his splitting heart, “You said you didn't know, but would you if you knew?”

 

“I’m sorry-“

 

“If you’re sorry,” he tasted salt at the tip of his tongue, “You would bear this yourself so that I didn't have to,” so he ran his hand through his face carelessly, “Like I always do when it comes to you.”

 

“So no Younghoon,” Juyeon promised himself to throw the magazine -his stupid pipe dream, away after this, “You’re not sorry. You don't love me like I love you, so you’re out to hurt me.”

 

Juyeon got up from his seat and opened his front door, “When days come and there is nothing I could feel but hurt from loving you, I used to think that I love you so much, that’s why it hurts.”

 

Younghoon got up with his head down, frame shaking as he walked toward the opening.

 

“But you see Younghoon,” Juyeon’s jaw tightened when Younghoon glanced up at him so ruined it almost made Juyeon reached out to give nothing but comfort, “I think I can finally see the fine line between thinking that I love you so much it hurts, and actually hurting so much from being in love with you.”

 

 

***

 

 

The soda can let out a hiss once Jaehyun opened it.

 

He sat on the empty bench outside the convenience store in his apartment complex. Jaehyun was quick on putting down his soda when another thumps came in quick succession at the back of his neck. His forehead scrunched when the throbs also spread on it.

 

When Jaehyun’s left hand grasped the edge of the bench, it made contact with his change money as the coins clanked against the asphalt beneath him.

 

“Fuck,” Jaehyun’s eyes felt warm. He left Younghoon in his office and went home after their fight. The thought of how impossible it would be for him to still be working under Younghoon after this, was thrown to the back of his mind.

 

Younghoon had thought wrong.

 

Jaehyun didn't find it within him to correct the slightly misinterpreted situation.

 

Because all the nasty things Jaehyun had conveyed to Younghoon, it had nothing to do with Juyeon, just like how Younghoon thought it was.

 

Jaehyun wreaked Younghoon for a whole other reason. And that would be because Younghoon took Sangyeon away from Jaehyun.

 

Younghoon had made Jaehyun’s relationship with Sangyeon strained. He knew Sangyeon must have felt it too. Because if he didn't, there was no way he would ask Juyeon instead Jaehyun himself, about what went down between him and Younghoon.

 

It was not like Jaehyun avoided Sangyeon. But Jaehyun couldn't help it even if he tried, to look away sometimes when his eyes met Sangyeon -afraid the piercing sound of his broken heart could be heard by Sangyeon. Jaehyun kept his conversations short sometimes when he talked to Sangyeon -afraid the full-throated aches Jaehyun’s heart kept having, could be seen by Sangyeon.

 

Jaehyun barely visited Gentlefolk now to pathetically caught glimpses of Sangyeon throughout his days -afraid the ringing of his heart’s wet tears, could be tasted by Sangyeon.

 

Everything was Younghoon’s fault.

 

Jaehyun had been meticulous when he built his own castle in Spain, where he and Sangyeon kept each other safe and warm -surrounded by their ceaseless love for each other. Younghoon came and step on it without mercy and Jaehyun was left with nothing to linger and maybe rebuild everything again.

 

Because Jaehyun would. As long as it was for Sangyeon, then Jaehyun would.

 

The inside of his pants pocket started to vibrate and Jaehyun pulled out his phone to find Sangyeon’s name on it.

 

Huh.

 

Jaehyun hesitated -biting his lip hard he was afraid he would soon taste blood.

 

“Hello?” but Sangyeon always had Jaehyun wrapped around his fingertips. So he answered the call.

 

“Jaehyun?”

 

“Yes?”

 

The line went silent for a moment as Jaehyun’s heart pounded along the static sound of the call.

 

“Where are you?

 

“Home.”

 

“Did the meeting go well?”

 

“Yes,” Jaehyun felt like crying hearing Sangyeon’s carefully crafted words, “Can I help you?” and there was nothing Jaehyun could do when his trained tone of professionalism came out rather frail than steady.

 

And maybe Sangyeon could hear it too. Would Sangyeon be hurting too like Jaehyun always did, when their change of dynamic was getting too loud to ignore?

 

“Do you think we can talk tomorrow?”

 

Sangyeon was mindful. Never not ever since Jaehyun knew him. Jaehyun always felt coddled by Sangyeon’s gentle way of handling him.

 

But Sangyeon had lied when he acted like Jaehyun was his favourite, because he held Younghoon’s hand instead of Jaehyun’s

 

“You can talk to me now.”

 

“I was thinking maybe it will be better if we talk when we’re face to face-“

 

“Why?” Jaehyun let his heart crumbled once again on Sangyeon’s feet, “Because we’ll be talking about  Younghoon?” he spat in a sharp scoff.

 

Sangyeon went quiet once again.

 

“Juyeon told you.”

 

And it was a statement rather than a question, it made Jaehyun furious.

 

“What’s keeping you from asking me directly then?” he felt sick to the stomach.

 

“Jaehyun, let’s see each other tomorrow-“

 

“No!!” Jaehyun’s knees started to buckle so he wrenched them within his palm.

 

Each other. What a joke.

 

If Jaehyun acted spoiled, it was all Sangyeon’s fault.

 

“Say it to me now. What do you want?”

 

But of course Sangyeon kept his silence.

 

“Should I grovel on my knees right at Younghoon’s feet?” Jaehyun breathed under a smarting chuckle, “Would it make you happy if I did that?”

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

If Sangyeon decided not to answer him when Jaehyun asked before, he should stick to it because Jaehyun was not equipped with tolerance.

 

“You told Juyeon that I’ve been making Younghoon miserable-“

 

“That’s not what I said-“

 

“Well fuck,” Jaehyun choked -heaving a shaky whimper, “That’s what it sounds like in my ears. You don't have to sugar-coat it.”

 

There was too much anger, too much disappointment bubbling in his throat and Jaehyun wanted Sangyeon to know, “If something goes wrong then it’s automatically my fault, right Sangyeon?”

 

“So I have to be the one taking the blame, the one apologizing, the one claiming responsible for all the shits Younghoon said made him feel like he’s down in the dumps.”

 

“Your timing is off Sangyeon,” Jaehyun sneered, wishing it would press down his urge to cry, “I’m too sober now for you to try and get in my head, patronizing the idea on me.”

 

“Make me drunk, and I’ll gladly take everything you blame me for-“

 

“Don’t say that- Jaehyun why are you-“

 

“Who knows,” and with his palm, Jaehyun wiped his eyes before anything could happen, “Maybe then I’ll be ready to kiss Younghoon’s feet asking him for forgiveness.”

 

The warning tone underneath Sangyeon’s voice when he called out Jaehyun’s name was unmistakable. Jaehyun paid it no heed.

 

“You’re walking on your knees, scrambling trying to stop Younghoon from hurting,” but Jaehyun’s heart was too damned to be silenced out of its calls of trials, “Feeling perfectly sorry for him, and you’re ready to ruin whoever it is that make Younghoon oh so helpless.”

 

“Fuck-“ Jaehyun keened breathlessly -slamming his eyes shut, hand turned into shivering fist on top of his knee, “And you decided that it’s me,” the reality dawned on him brutally, “So you set up to ruin me.”

 

“No!! Jaehyun- fuck-“

 

“But I’m hurting too,” and when it got too difficult for him to breathe, Jaehyun bent forward gasping for any kind of salvage to save him, “You feel sorry for Younghoon because he said he was hurting-”

 

Wasn't Jaehyun Sangyeon’s favourite?

 

“Don’t you feel sorry for me too?” because Sangyeon always said Jaehyun was his favourite.

 

“I’m aching too,” Jaehyun’s throat was closing down on him, “Why aren’t you sorry for me too?”

 

“Jaehyun please give me a chance to explain-“

 

But Jaehyun didn't get to hear the rest of Sangyeon’s sentence when his phone was being snatched away from his tight grasp.

 

His head snapped up and he was met with Juyeon standing in front of him -staring with an unexplainable look in his eyes, looking away when he put Jaehyun’s phone in his ear.

 

“You cross a line,” Juyeon had said to Sangyeon.

 

It robbed air out of Jaehyun’s lungs as he battled in stifling breath -clambering up on his feet, trying to take his phone back.

 

“I’m ending this call,” but Juyeon was firm, making sure he pressed the red button before giving Jaehyun his device.

 

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing-“ Jaehyun hissed weakly just to be cut off.

 

“Saving you.”

 

“Pardon?” his eyes widened in disbelief.

 

But Juyeon didn't answer, his eyes went to Jaehyun’s untouched soda on top of the bench, before noticing the scattered coin of change on the ground, that Jaehyun didn't care enough to collect.

 

So Juyeon picked them up. His knees angled to help him compling the coins before securing it within his palm.

 

“What are you doing here?” Jaehyun tried another question, anger slowly dissipating because he felt less lonely in a weary fight when Juyeon was here in front of him.

 

“Looking for you.”

 

“Looking for me?” sniffling out his last tears, Jaehyun used his fingers to dry the patches of shame across his slightly blurry eyes.

 

“I keep calling but your line was busy,” Juyeon shrugged, observing him, “You’re okay?”

 

“So,” Jaehyun inhaled a shuddering breath, “You can’t reach me and come here instead?”

 

“No,” Juyeon shook his head, “I’ve been here, already here, before trying to contact you, and my calls never went through.”

 

“Why are you here again?”

 

“Are you okay?”

 

“Damn it Juyeon!!” a genuine and throaty laugh slipped Jaehyun’s lips, “Would you think I’m okay?”

 

“Well-“

 

“I look like a mess!!” Jaehyun groaned embarrassingly.

 

“It’s only polite to ask,” Juyeon clicked his tongue -putting both of his hands on his jacket’s front pocket.

 

“Okay, no.”

 

“Very eloquent.”

 

“Fuck off,” Jaehyun breathed another laugh -didn't even realize the way his chest starting to expand feeling lighter somehow, “Okay as in I understand your reason for asking. And no, I’m not okay. Why are you here?”

 

“To curse you out.”

 

“What the actual fuck?” that left him gobsmacked, “Why?!!”

 

“You’re not telling me something,” Juyeon’s eyes were inspecting.

 

Jaehyun hated how he instantly knew what Juyeon meant. So he pried his eyes away.

 

“Younghoon came to my place.”

 

His head snapped back fast just to see Juyeon, eyes set on the ground, a bitter smile on his lips, “What the fuck did he want?”

 

“To hurt me.”

 

“I’ll fucking fight him-“

 

And underneath the quietude of the night, Juyeon’s sudden rich laughter split the suffocating air of their shared broken hearts.

 

It stopped Jaehyun’s blowing rant as his mind wondered why would Juyeon be laughing when seconds ago he just said that Younghoon had come to hurt him-

 

“You’re so full of wrath all the time,” Juyeon noted -his eyes even though sad, was still filled with amusement.

 

“People should stop making me angry then,” Jaehyun muttered under his breath before clearing his throat and looked at Juyeon cautiously, “What happened?”

 

“I should be the one asking you that.”

 

Jaehyun’s lips went shut. Tight. He was not going to let Juyeon know about how Younghoon had seen Juyeon’s harrowing confession of the unrequited love he had for Younghoon.

 

“Tell me,” Juyeon coaxed gently.

 

“Don’t talk like you’re willing to get your heart wounded,” the frown on Jaehyun’s forehead was pure out of concern because Jaehyun knew how heartbreak tasted.

 

Juyeon puffed his cheeks before clutching his arms tighter within his jacket pocket, “I never said that.”

 

“So drop this conversation.”

 

“I deserve to know.”

 

“No you’re not.”

 

“Jaehyun you don't understand-“

 

“Don’t you dare,” Jaehyun warned in a shaky breath, “Say that to me, when you perfectly know that I do know what you’re going through.”

 

“It’s not that-“

 

“Alright then,” Jaehyun ran his fingers through his hair, “What happened that night?”

 

“What night?”

 

“When you talked with Sangyeon over that dinner.”

 

“I told you all about it-“

 

“More,” Jaehyun demanded.

 

“What do you mean more?”

 

“There’s more to it Juyeon and we both know it.”

 

Jaehyun was just trying his luck. Sure he felt something was off when Juyeon explained the reason why he was apologizing to Jaehyun that night. But the reason Juyeon gave him, was nowhere near enough to make Juyeon apologized to Jaehyun in woes too painful. They shared an injured heart, but that alone couldn't be a decent excuse to make Juyeon cried his heart out, for Jaehyun’s sake.

 

But the way Juyeon inhaled silently while turning away, indicate that Jaehyun was right. There was something else that had hurt Juyeon and somehow it involved Jaehyun too, but Juyeon wasn't telling him.

 

His heart thud loudly, stomach churning at the thought of giving another wicked news for his badly broken heart. Jaehyun wasn't ready to hear it. Jaehyun didn't think he would be right about this. Jaehyun couldn't endure another night spent in bleary suffering. Jaehyun wasn’t-

 

“I’m not-“ Juyeon broke his train of thoughts, “I’m not hurting you with that.”

 

Jaehyun could physically felt the way his blood ran through his veins, heart wildly thrashing because he wanted to know. Because he didn't want to know.

 

“How bad was Sangyeon’s accusations toward me-“

 

“It’s not that.”

 

“Then what is it?”

 

“I said,” Juyeon’s eyes turned a little bit cold, “I’m not going to hurt you with that.”

 

“I don't care if I’m hurt.”

 

“You’re lying.”

 

“I am.”

 

His honesty brimmed with repressed woes as Jaehyun felt his eyes started to well up.

 

“I am,” Jaehyun phrased his vulnerability once again faintly.

 

Jaehyun’s stomach was sinking. He was in pain and he just wanted to run to Sangyeon, wanted to ask for Sangyeon’s consoling words, for Sangyeon’s soothing affection. Jaehyun wanted to ask for Sangyeon’s hands just so he could hold it and be close to Sangyeon’s loving nature.

 

Habit was a scary thing.

 

Jaehyun had created a circuit specifically for Sangyeon inside his brain. To associate it with salvation and protection. Jaehyun taught his heart to link Sangyeon with the word safe shelter, and it kept switching on every time Jaehyun found himself in need of a refuge.

 

“Well I don’t.”

 

“Sorry?” Jaehyun glanced back up at Juyeon.

 

“I don't care if I’m hurt-“

 

“Don’t lie Juyeon.”

 

“What Younghoon did to me tonight- there couldn't be worse scenario than that-“ Juyeon struggled in forming his words.

 

“At least I don't lie to myself,” Jaehyun said softly.

 

Juyeon’s jaw tightened at his words, “You don't get to decide anything at all for me.”

 

“So do you.”

 

“Stop it.”

 

“Why do you get to be the one deciding to keep whatever it was that had happened that night with Sangyeon, from me?”

 

“I don't want to hurt you!!”

 

“And that’s the exact reason why I also am not telling you,” Jaehyun concluded.

 

“Have you not been paying any attention?” Juyeon stared him down.

 

“You said you don’t care of being hurt.”

 

“Precisely,” Juyeon mocked, “So just tell me-“

 

“But it’s me who doesn't want to hurt you.”

 

Jaehyun could see how Juyeon’s hands turned to fists -quietly eyeing Jaehyun with his lips tightly shut.

 

“You don't care if you’re hurt. Sure. You do you,” Jaehyun gave a slight shrug, “But I don't want you to be hurting.”

 

“Why not?” the mocking disbelief Juyeon used was loud and clear.

 

“Because I know for a fact that hurting is nothing like the glorious anguish everyone keep painting in their flight of fantasy.”

 

Juyeon’s frame was still rigid, pent up frustration etched across his features but Jaehyun wasn't backing down. What he said was the truth, and he stood by it.

 

“You know,” Jaehyun took one step forward closer to Juyeon, “Long ago, Chanhee once made an article about fate.”

 

Jaehyun had expected Juyeon to step back, but he didn't, so Jaehyun attempted a light smile to ease Juyeon’s distress. He then took a coin from Juyeon’s fisted palm.

 

“How about we flip a coin?”

 

Juyeon said nothing but he was listening -gaze switching between the coin in Jaehyun’s hand and Jaehyun’s eyes.

 

“Heads, I’m telling you what happened with Younghoon,” Jaehyun hummed under his breath.

 

“Tails,” Jaehyun continued, “You’re going to tell me what happened with Sangyeon that night.”

 

Winds were blowing gently under the bright moonlight.

 

Jaehyun stopped himself just in time before his head began to collect Sangyeon’s memory once again. The effort felt like a bloody battle inside his head, but Jaehyun survived for the first time, and it brought a thin smile to his lips.

 

The sky was dark but the street light in Jaehyun’s apartment complex was designed prettily.

 

Sangyeon’s amiable eyes had haunted Jaehyun for the longest time now. So maybe Jaehyun stumbled once again. But it was okay. Because Jaehyun didn't want to lie to himself by saying that he could start moving on. Maybe later. But not now. The only thing Jaehyun was able to do now, was made peace with himself.

 

“Let fate decide,” Jaehyun’s eyes crinkled in what he hoped looked like a smile rather than a grimace because his heart was breaking apart, “On what we should do about this situation. Heads or tails.”

 

And Juyeon’s eyes were scrutinizing in its muteness.

 

And Jaehyun could only watch as Juyeon took the coin in his hands and hoarded them back with the other coins in Juyeon’s hands, before handing them all to Jaehyun.

 

“That’s silly,” Juyeon had remarked.

 

“Really?” the smile forming on Jaehyun’s lips didn't feel too heavy now.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Why is that?”

 

“I said,” Juyeon took one step back as he looked at Jaehyun in surrender, “I’m not going to hurt you with it,” before then shaking his head, “I’m not going to hurt you Jaehyun.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

05 – The Nut(crack)er

 

 

“Aight, fuck you!!”

 

“Language Sunwoo!!” Jaehyun gasped loudly but really, who was he trying to fool. Haut Monde and Gentlefolk had long known that Jaehyun himself was one of them who had a foul mouth.

 

“Shut up Jaehyun!! This ain’t your business,” Changmin seethed as he glared back at Sunwoo.

 

Juyeon groaned loudly from the meeting room platform, where he had been presenting about all things to do and not do, when their shared office would be graced by Wonho’s presence a month from now, to have his photoshoot as Gentlefolk solely cover model for its special year-end issue.

 

Jaehyun tried his best to look concerned, but from the way Juyeon glowered at him, he knew that Juyeon could smell his enjoyment from watching their kids fight.

 

Chanhee appeared stressed out, “We all made a mistake,” he referred to the Kai accident, as the topic was brought up in Juyeon’s slide presentation.

 

“Well not everyone’s mistake costs us a fortune,” Sunwoo spat -eyes not leaving Changmin who broke a few very expensive cameras when he screeched out his happiness seeing Kai’s vest button flew up.

 

“Oh yeah?” Changmin narrowed his eyes with a sadistic smile.

 

Oh no.

 

The huge screen was showing a very high definition screen shot of Changmin’s delighted face -lips parting in what they all assumed his usual high pitched scream, as the photographer beside him was in the middle of losing his balance out of fear. The cameras were flying mid-air in the picture.

 

Changmin slammed his hands on the meeting room table -making everyone jumped on their seat, walking toward Juyeon -pushing the later away forcefully, before standing behind Juyeon’s laptop.

 

He pressed a key.

 

“Hey-“

 

“Hey!! Fuck off!!”

 

Haknyeon and Youngjae’s protest were greeted with Changmin’s evil smile.

 

Now the huge screen was showing a very high definition screen shot of Haknyeon and Youngjae fighting -fingers tangling with Kai’s vest button in between, as their faces scrunched fiercely, not really realizing there were buckets of paints -which were flowing mid-air with its contain splashing out, toward the change of wardrobe in the corner. The Gucci prints looked innocent as it waited for its impending doom.

 

“This shit you guys did, also costs us a fortune,” Changmin hissed through his teeth.

 

“Fuck~” Jacob frowned extending his curse loud, “Is that why we had to cover some of the property damage too for Haut Monde’s last year’s mess?” he put his hands up at Sangyeon, asking for explanation.

 

Sangyeon grimaced, “Yeah. Our kids did make quiet a mess.”

 

“Sangyeon shut up!!” Youngjae fisted his palms, “Do not yield to these fucktard who think they are better than us just because they wear suits all the time!!”

 

Jaehyun let out a bitter scoff. Usually he would scold Youngjae on the spot for talking like that to Sangyeon. But that was before Jaehyun pointedly ignored Sangyeon after the phone call a week ago. Sangyeon had been trying his best to have a talk, but Jaehyun was having none of it.

 

“Don’t make it too obvious that you guys are beasts,” Kevin tsked while rolling his eyes obnoxiously.

 

“Thank you Kevin,” Changmin clapped slowly -pushing Juyeon once again when the later tried to take over his laptop, “And, the damage you did,” Changmin pointed his finger at Sunwoo, “Costs us a whole lot more than money.”

 

Changmin pressed a key.

 

Jaehyun wondered how come Changmin seemed to know his ways around Juyeon’s presentation slides.

 

Now the huge screen was showing a very high definition screen shot of Sunwoo, pressing his right palm over his crotch tightly -his face scrunching and lips parting wide on what had looked like a pure picture of carnal desire. Kai was blurry in the picture, but everyone could see the absolute alarmed expression etched on his face from where he was standing, which was right in front of Sunwoo.

 

“You fucking shit!!” Sunwoo’s face turned so red as he screamed at Changmin who was giving him daggers with his eyes.

 

Jaehyun frowned.

 

He didn't want to be reminded of this image. Ever.

 

He didn't think it was such a good idea that Juyeon put those pictures in his presentation slides.

 

“Fuck Sunwoo that face,” Haknyeon blinked, licking his lips as he twisted around in his seat looking all hot and bothered.

 

“They sued us for sexual harassment!!” Changmin howled after seeing what Haknyeon did -not backing down anytime soon.

 

“It was not just because of me!!” Sunwoo yelled from his seat, getting up and pushed Juyeon out of his way, and then pushed Changmin out of Juyeon’s laptop.

 

Juyeon looked so done for being pushed away three times now.

 

Jaehyun sympathized.

 

Sunwoo pressed a key, and the picture zoomed in toward the right corner.

 

Now the huge screen was showing a slightly high definition screen shot of Chanhee with his pants pooling around his ankles. His face was the exact replica of Sunwoo.

 

“Do you have anything to say for yourself?” Sunwoo put his hands on his hips, staring Chanhee down.

 

“I have a lot of things to say,” Chanhee was seething, “First of all, BITCH.”

 

“Second of all,” but Chanhee couldn't finish his sentence as he started to sob dramatically.

 

Younghoon who was sitting beside him gently rubbed his back, “It’s okay Chanhee. Everyone makes mistake-“

 

“It’s not that Younghoon!!” Chanhee shed a real tear, “This incident just reminds me that I lost the thong I was wearing,” he pointed at his indeed sparkly thong, “It was Susan Rosen Diamond Limited Edition!!” Chanhee wailed, “It was expensive and I didn't know where it went!!”

 

“I’m sorry,” Jaehyun quipped with a shake of head. Again, he tried his best to scrunch his brows and filled his eyes with false sympathy.

 

Jacob called him out, “Fuck Jaehyun you’re enjoying this we all know.”

 

“I am,” Jaehyun nodded -keeping his fake worried expression, “I am.”

 

“And anyway,” Haknyeon sighed, “They dropped the lawsuit.”

 

“Yeah,” Changmin scoffed sarcastically, “Only after we sold Jaehyun to Kai.”

 

“Hey!!” Jaehyun gestured wildly, spluttering, “That kind of jab is not necessary!!”

 

“You did went with him in his yacht,” Sunwoo said gloomily.

 

“But-“

 

“God Jaehyun,” Youngjae gave him a pitiful look, “I forgot that we have to sell you out. I’m sorry.”

 

“No-“

 

The others started murmuring their apologies as the mood turned sombre. Kevin squeezed his upper arm in a sad smile and Jaehyun was quick on swatting his hand away.

 

Jaehyun turned toward Juyeon for backup, but Juyeon gave him a grimace and walked toward his laptop.

 

Juyeon pressed a key.

 

Now the huge screen was showing a very high definition screen shot of Jaehyun being guided to hop inside a very expensive looking yacht, with Kai’s hand resting nicely at the back of his waist.

 

“Where the fuck do you even get these pictures?!!” Jaehyun shrieked piercingly.

 

Juyeon gave him a disapproving look -ignoring his question, “Now everyone, this is exactly what I don't want to happen-”

 

The room was filled with whispers of regrets and apologies.

 

“Fucking hell-“ Jaehyun protests were drowned by sympathetic pats on his back.

 

Juyeon continued his speech, “Let’s not sell our colleague again-“

 

“Juyeon you piece of shit!!” Jaehyun barked a laughter. But it seemed like he was invisible because everyone was busy agreeing with Juyeon.

 

“And have a wonderful, tactful, and mindful shoot with Wonho,” Juyeon ended his presentation by pressing a key, to show a massive picture of Wonho in a loose sleeveless shirt, his guns out, hair pushed back carelessly, and suave smile on his face. All in high definition.

 

The meeting members except Jaehyun stood up and gave Juyeon a big round of applause, before swooning over Wonho’s picture as they gathered their things and walked out from the meeting room.

 

Jaehyun could see Sangyeon from the corner of his eyes, lingering as if he was waiting for Jaehyun. So Jaehyun got up from his seat fast and quickly made his way toward Juyeon who was squinting hard at his laptop screen.

 

“Get yourself some glasses,” Jaehyun sighed -placing himself beside Juyeon and silently heaved out a relieved breath when Sangyeon seemed to be giving up and got out of the meeting room, leaving him alone with Juyeon.

 

“Get out,” closing down his laptop Juyeon grumbled out, “Sangyeon left already. Leave.”

 

“That’s absolutely cold of you,” a dramatic gasp left Jaehyun’s lips.

 

Juyeon glanced at him flatly, “There really is no other reason on why you dawdled.”

 

“Well I don't know how to face Sangyeon after that call, in which-“

 

“I saved you from.”

 

“No!!” Jaehyun moaned petulantly, “In which cut off by you!! So now I’m in an awkward position because I don't know how to explain it.”

 

“Jaehyun-“ putting his laptop back down, Juyeon exhaled and half seated himself against the edge of the secretary table, “You have this tendency to-“ but he struggled to continue.

 

“To what?” Jaehyun prodded -standing in front of Juyeon, levelling their eyes.

 

Juyeon didn't bite to his bait of rushing. Choosing to keep quiet, connecting his hands on top of his thighs as he watched over Jaehyun contemplatively.

 

“Can I ask you something?” Juyeon finally broke his silence, “I’ve been wanting to ask this for the longest time now.”

 

“Sure.”

 

“Why do you hate me so much?”

 

“What?” Jaehyun blinked out his puzzlement, “But I don't?”

 

“Come on. It’s fine. You hate me and we both know it. I’m just really curious why.”

 

“But Juyeon, I don't hate you,” he was thoroughly confused now, “Aren’t you the one who’s been hating me instead?” tilting his head, Jaehyun asked plainly. No malice.

 

“Maybe hate is such a strong word,” humming under his breath, Juyeon looked up for a while trying to find the right word, “I just don’t- I mean-“

 

“You don't like me.”

 

“Well yes.”

 

Jaehyun laughed at that. This conversation came off way too civil, “Thank you for that.”

 

“Sorry,” Juyeon bit his bottom lip as he laughed along, “It’s just. I was just trying to be honest.”

 

“Why don’t you like me?” Jaehyun twined his index finger across his back.

 

“Because you hate me.”

 

“Juyeon~” whining, Jaehyun stomped his left feet once, “How many times do I have to tell you that I don't?”

 

“But you always- like, attack,” Juyeon reasoned.

 

“Attack you?”

 

“Yes,” lips pursing in thoughts, Juyeon elaborated, “And you always looked at me in- maybe not disdain, but more like, just- you don't like me at all. So I thought, maybe it has something to do with how I was accepted in Gentlefolk and you didn't.”

 

Oh.

 

Jaehyun understood.

 

“I can see from your face that you get what I mean,” the chuckle Juyeon let out sounded fond, “So it really is because of that.”

 

“Somehow yes, but entirely different at the same time,” Jaehyun admitted, “I want to hear your reason for not liking me first, in details.”

 

“I mean,” Juyeon shrugged, “Back in university, the lads were very competitive in such a toxic way. So I just thought that you’re like them? Which is an overly competitive guy that couldn't stand having another taking their so called ‘rightful place’, and in this case, a position in Gentlefolk.”

 

“That’s where you’re wrong because rather than hate, I’m actually jealous of you.”

 

“That’s the same thing though?”

 

“No,” Jaehyun’s smile was bitter, “I’m jealous because you get to work under Sangyeon.”

 

Juyeon blinked, “Oh.”

 

“Yeah, oh.”

 

The meeting room fell into a quietude. Jaehyun watched as Juyeon cleared his throat while rubbing the back of his neck.

 

“So that kind of explain the evil eyes you kept giving me back then.”

 

“Yes,” Jaehyun found himself laughing recalling the memories, “God, you always got the chance to sit next to Sangyeon and followed him around in his car and everything.”

 

“What made you stop the glares though? Because it kind of stopped somewhere there.”

 

“When I realized you have feelings for Younghoon.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“Sorry,” Jaehyun grimaced, “Was I being too blunt?”

 

“No, no,” shaking his head fast, Juyeon tried a tiny smile, “It’s fine.”

 

“I owe you an apology I guess,” puffing his cheeks, Juyeon extended his hand toward Jaehyun.

 

“For?” but Jaehyun took it as they shook hands for a while.

 

“You know, jumping to conclusion without really giving you a chance.”

 

“Thank you-“

 

“I mean, you are, loud and brash and temperamental and swears a lot and so much into violence-“

 

“Fucker-“

 

“And the whole shebang of being Mr. Blame It On The World,” Juyeon pointed out. But the teasing tilt wasn't missed by Jaehyun so he grumbled and punched Juyeon’s upper arm lightly.

 

Juyeon grinned at his weak punch, pretending to be in so much pain only after a second had passed.

 

“But you’re not a bad person,” Juyeon concluded, “You’re kind of- nice. You know, that hard on the outside but such a Hello Kitty inside?”

 

“I’m-“

 

“Surprisingly you’re a really soft person.”

 

Jaehyun ducked down as he felt heat starting up in his cheeks, “I like Tweety more.”

 

“Right,” Juyeon was holding back a laughter and Jaehyun didn't have to see it to know.

 

“I mean it,” so Jaehyun tried to hide his embarrassment by putting a scowl on his face, “Tweety is cuter.”

 

“Dully noted,” Juyeon smirked with arms folded across his chest.

 

“You guys are disappointing,” Haknyeon’s voice suddenly filled the room.

 

Jaehyun frowned as he spotted Haknyeon standing with his phone aiming at him and Juyeon from the door.

 

“What the fuck are you doing?” Jaehyun berated, hands on his hips.

 

“I’m recording now because I thought you guys are doing something juicy -which you guys aren’t, and hello? Totally disappointing?” clicking his tongue, Haknyeon put his phone down.

 

“Why would you even think that-“

 

“Well Jaehyun,” Haknyeon mirrored his stance, “Look at the way you guys are conversing. Screams Fifty Shades of Grey much?”

 

Jaehyun finally took notice at how he was standing in front of Juyeon, who was half sitting at the edge of a table -legs straightened forward close with each other, with arms across his chest. He hated admitting it even internally, but it was the perfect cliché picture of a rich CEO who was trying to save his secretary from distress. Jaehyun was clearly the secretary from where he was standing.

 

Ew.

 

“What do you want Hak?” Juyeon ignored Haknyeon’s previous statement -standing up and collected his laptop in his arm once again.

 

“I want you to stop kissing your boyfriend and do something productive like oh, I don't know, attend our meeting?”

 

Jaehyun smirked at Haknyeon’s obvious irritation, “You still haven’t been given a chance to go on a date with Changmin huh?”

 

The pout and whines came out in an instant, “I even think about auditioning for a horror series just so he would want to go on a date with me!!”

 

 

***

 

 

“No!!”

 

“Jaehyun come on,” rolling his eyes because their debate was getting nowhere, Juyeon shoved the garment toward Jaehyun’s unwilling hands, “Just use it.”

 

“I’ll have you know that this is the most idiotic idea ever.”

 

Juyeon blinked, “So you’re taking it?”

 

“Only because I have no choice,” Jaehyun had hissed while he snatched Juyeon’s Louis Vuitton Monogram Electric Blue Intarsia Fur Zipped Hoodie from the owner’s hand -rubbing his palm across his eyes to dry the remnants of his tears.

 

Amusement filled Juyeon’s chest as he watched Jaehyun grumbled loudly about inappropriate work attire while putting on Juyeon’s hoodie.

 

Juyeon was washing his hands in the office shared bathroom because his fingers had been inked from the still wet spread prints. He had made a note to Youngjae about smashing their existing printers to pieces discreetly, so Jacob would have to spend some money on new ones.

 

The massive and excessively designed bathroom had some rows of shower cubicles, and that was where the sobbing sounds -that Juyeon’s ears picked up, came from.

 

Brows furrowing, Juyeon put the hand towel he just used into the bathroom laundry basket and walked toward one of the closed cubicle door.

 

“Jaehyun?” Juyeon tried Jaehyun’s name based on the yellow shadow, seen through the glass door. The only one coming to work with a bright plaid yellow blazer was Jaehyun.

 

The wail went harder.

 

“I heard you crying in the shower cubicle, are you okay?” but Juyeon wanted to laugh so hard he didn't know why.

 

He bit his bottom lip to prevent it from happening. Juyeon had seen Jaehyun in some of his vulnerable states. And this kind of weeps weren’t ones where it meant that Jaehyun was seriously hurting, or in need of a mental support.

 

“Leave me alone~” when the sulky cries got harder, Juyeon knew it was indeed Jaehyun in there, “Who is it?” but then Jaehyun asked meekly under a sniffle, only a second after.

 

Juyeon had to physically slammed his hand in front of his lips to stop himself from laughing. He closed his eyes because the sudden movement had brought a blunt thud to his forehead. It also had caused his heart to beat a little faster. Juyeon told himself that. It was not because he thought Jaehyun was cute. He didn't.

 

“Juyeon?” he offered his name, scratching the back of his head.

 

“Leave me alone- Juyeon?” Jaehyun stopped mid-cry.

 

The empty bathroom turned silent for a while before Juyeon saw the yellow shadow moving around and the sound of the door unlocked was heard.

 

“You’re okay?” Juyeon waited for Jaehyun to come out.

 

But Jaehyun peered from behind the door, only letting a quarter of his head to show. Juyeon immediately noticed the messy tuft of hair on top of Jaehyun’s head -some of them went up at the side.

 

Juyeon narrowed his eyes at Jaehyun who was looking at him cautiously.

 

“Get out,” Juyeon groaned because this was ridiculous.

 

Even just from the quarter part of Jaehyun’s face, Juyeon could see clearly the way Jaehyun’s face contorted in a sobbing whimper.

 

“Damn it Jaehyun,” Juyeon gritted his teeth and pulled Jaehyun out from the cubicle.

 

The sight before him made Juyeon blinked twice slowly.

 

Jaehyun’s blazer was stained heavily in what Juyeon could assume was printer’s ink. The blotch was wide enough to cover almost Jaehyun’s entire chest. His eyes went down but thankfully Jaehyun’s pants was unharmed.

 

“You’re-“ Juyeon gaped, “Bleeding? From ink?”

 

Wrong move because Jaehyun pulled his face into a wince as tears rolled down his cheeks once again.

 

“No, wait!! Fuck!!”

 

He contemplated to take a towel, but Juyeon knew it would be a futile attempt from his side to try and fix Jaehyun’s ruined blazer.

 

“Just- wait here okay.”

 

So Juyeon jogged lightly toward his office and picked up his reserved change of clothes, before giving it for Jaehyun to change into.

 

“Kevin will hate me,” zipping up the hoodie, Jaehyun let out a whine when he looked at his reflection in the mirror, “People will think I’m one of Gentlefolk brutes.”

 

“You said it like it’s such a bad thing,” Juyeon scowled.

 

“When you work in Haut Monde, then yes,” Jaehyun’s eyes widened just to prove his point, “No one is walking around in- in- this, this, fuck me this is a hoodie!!”

 

Juyeon looked up to get some peace of mind before blowing out a frustrated breath, “I can help you take your change of clothes in your office then.”

 

“I won’t be crying if I have one Juyeon.”

 

Jaehyun had looked like a lost child. His hair was all over the place, there was sheen of dried up tears on his cheeks, while his eyes were visibly still wet. So Juyeon took pity on him.

 

“What happened?”

 

But Jaehyun’s lips was screwed shut.

 

“Did you, or did you not kick the printer again?”

 

“No!!”

 

“Right,” Juyeon threw him an accusatory raised of brows.

 

“Violence is never the answer Juyeon.”

 

“I saw you kick them printers -the small and huge ones, more than one occasion.”

 

“It was, because I was probably- angry,” Jaehyun put his eyes down -nose crunching sniffling.

 

“But this time you kicked them not because you’re angry?”

 

“I didn't kick anything!!”

 

“Then tell me what happened.”

 

“I accidentally crashed my knees against the old Officejet when I tried to hide behind them-“

 

Juyeon winced because that thing had a reputation of splattering ink all over the place. Jacob and Kevin should really threw them out.

 

“And I guess it got angry and they just, well, you saw it yourself what had happened to my blazer. Fuck Juyeon it’s so expensive!!”

 

Juyeon waved his hand dismissively because Jaehyun could afford buying a new one, “Why would you hide behind it?”

 

“Well I haven’t been talking to Sangyeon and then of course he showed up in the printing area where I had been peacefully helping Chanhee printing his spread because he was pretty overwhelmed-“

 

Juyeon tried his best to keep up with Jaehyun’s fast rambling.

 

“So I don't want to talk to him -to Sangyeon I mean, and then the best plan was to hide and then this happened!!”

 

Jaehyun’s eyes began to water and Juyeon instinctively leaned forward to circle his right arm over Jaehyun’s shoulder and pulled him in a one arm hug.

 

“Have you been talking to Sangyeon?” Jaehyun mumbled underneath Juyeon’s embrace.

 

“He’s my boss if you haven’t noticed.”

 

Juyeon staggered back when Jaehyun pushed him away with his palms -teeth clenching in annoyance, “That’s not what I meant.”

 

Grinning, Juyeon shook his head slightly, “Not really. I won’t avoid it if he wants to have a go, but I don't think it’s me Sangyeon wants to talk to.”

 

“Have you been talking to Younghoon-“

 

“Fuck no,” he cursed under his breath, “I’m giving my heart a break. I can’t keep hurting them.”

 

Jaehyun’s mood visibly turned sour as he mumbled a sorry under his breath.

 

“Come on. Let’s get out.”

 

“No.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“I’m dressed in a hoodie.”

 

“A Louis Vuitton Monogram Electric Blue Intarsia Fur Zipped Hoodie.”

 

“Doesn't make it more fancy,” sucking his cheeks, Jaehyun grumbled yet still followed Juyeon behind his back -stopping right at the bathroom door, “I can’t.”

 

“You’re making this a much bigger deal than it is.”

 

“They will mock me.”

 

“So just make a show out of it,” running out of patience, Juyeon took Jaehyun’s hand to pull him out of the bathroom.

 

Okay maybe Jaehyun was right.

 

Eyes were trained on them as soon as they entered the working area. Juyeon swallowed his nerves and deliberately ignored Youngjae and Changmin who dropped jaws as he walked passed them.

 

Peering at Jaehyun who had been quietly walking beside him, Juyeon realized Jaehyun still had his hair in an absolute mess with his eyes red and cheeks shining from dried tears.

 

“Fuck,” Juyeon whispered in terror. It made Jaehyun looked like he had gotten railed-

 

“What? What?” Jaehyun finally looked up at him. His whisper was filled with dread too.

 

“Did you guys fuck in the bathroom?!” Sunwoo screeched -standing up from his seat, pointing a finger with disgust.

 

“What?” Jaehyun hissed and about to take his hand away, but Juyeon clenched them tighter.

 

“Do not make any eye contact Jaehyun. I swear to God-“

 

“Why is Jaehyun wearing Juyeon’s hoodie?” Jacob didn't even bat an eyelid as he asked this to Haknyeon beside him, as they both kept walking.

 

“Probably some Fifty Shades Darker stuff.”

 

Juyeon pretended not to hear Haknyeon’s snickers and determinedly approached Kevin who was sitting and furiously typing on his laptop in the communal meeting area.

 

“Kev,” Juyeon knocked Kevin’s desk.

 

Kevin glanced up with irritation from being interrupted before it morphed into mortification as he stared at Jaehyun from head to toe, “What have you done to my Jaehyun, you animal?!!”

 

Juyeon seized Jaehyun’s blazer from the latter’s hand, “Not me. But it’s your lovely Officejet fault,” he placed the ruined blazer on the table for Kevin to see.

 

Furrowing his brows, Kevin examined Jaehyun and massaged the bridge of his nose, “We’re going shopping next week Jae. I’m buying you a new one.”

 

Jaehyun bit the corner of his bottom lip and gave a feeble nod.

 

“Is everything okay?”

 

And it felt so disheartening when Juyeon could physically feel Jaehyun depleting as soon as Sangyeon arrived and joined them.

 

“All good,” Juyeon answered quick -along with a tense smile, before turning away from Sangyeon, “So Kev, how about buying new sets of Officejet also?”

 

Kevin let out a long sigh, “Fine. Take care of it.”

 

“Thanks,” and Juyeon gave a slight nod to Kevin and Sangyeon, letting go of Jaehyun’s hand, to just then circled his right arm behind Jaehyun’s waist.

 

He must be taken aback -Juyeon told himself that when his heart jerked heavily inside his chest, directly after Jaehyun’s frame got startled under his clutch.

 

Juyeon didn't fail to recognize Sangyeon’s look of surprise, so Juyeon used his left hand to gingerly adjust a couple of Jaehyun’s standing hair.

 

Jaehyun was holding back a fury -Juyeon told himself that when he saw Jaehyun flushing, probably from Juyeon’s impromptu acts.

 

Never mind, Jaehyun could yell at Juyeon later as much as he wanted. If Jaehyun had been miserable from avoiding Sangyeon, then Juyeon would help him with it -bearing the burden of escaping their object of affection together.

 

“Let’s fix you up,” Juyeon took back Jaehyun’s spoilt blazer, and made sure the heavily stained part was on top for everyone to see. Hoping none would scream like Sunwoo did, saying they were fucking in the cubicle.

 

No. God No.

 

So Juyeon tightened his grasp on Jaehyun’s waist as the latter stumbled on his feet trying to keep up with him -walking toward Chanhee’s desk.

 

Not minding Chanhee who was literally sitting there, Juyeon nonchalantly opened Chanhee’s drawer to take Chanhee’s well-kept hairbrushes, choosing one from many, and brushed Jaehyun’s hair neatly.

 

“You know,” Jaehyun exhaled at his antics, “I have my own comb, and I can do it myself.”

 

Chanhee answered for Juyeon instead, “Where is the fun in that Jaehyun?” he pushed his chair back, crossing his arms, and sniggered while shamelessly observing, “The whole office got’s to know who you belong to, right Juyeon?”

 

“Bingo.”

 

 

***

 

 

Juyeon thought it was silly of Jaehyun -to be running away and feeling the need to hide from Sangyeon, as he walked inside the elevator about to go home.

 

But when the elevator door was slowly closing -and a hand that was severely familiar appeared to stop it, Juyeon changed his mind and thought that maybe, he could relate to Jaehyun.

 

Because when Younghoon’s surprised face greeted him from outside the elevator, Juyeon found his own hardening from an unexplainable fears of a forthcoming mourning about love that was unrequited.

 

Because when Younghoon’s feet took reluctant steps inside the elevator, Juyeon found his own stepping out to leave, to make sure the blisters on his heart wouldn't turn for worse than they already were.

 

 

***

 

 

But still, Juyeon grieved alone underneath the dimness of his bedroom, punishing himself for committing a sin of trying his best for someone who never wanted his heart.

 

 

***

 

 

“I have avoid you, so much.”

 

But of course Sangyeon had to let a soft yet apologetic smile grazed his lips, soothing in his presence as he entered Haut Monde’s Closet where racks and shelfs were full of expensive wardrobes -where Jaehyun had spent his last hour of working, making sure Chanhee’s next shoot wouldn't bring him too much stress.

 

Jaehyun wanted to scream at Sangyeon, wanted to tell him that there was nothing between them worth smiling about.

 

So he clenched the fabric he had been holding. Tight -wishing it would give him enough strength not to  fall on his knees and acted like he was blinded by the daunting love he always had for Sangyeon.

 

“Which part of it that makes you think,” and Jaehyun hated how frail he had sounded, “I still want to talk to you?”

 

“I want to apologize,” maybe Jaehyun’s earlier biting words, were the reason why Sangyeon stayed where he was standing and not getting closer to Jaehyun. Not too close, and not too far from where Jaehyun was.

 

Jaehyun hated him so much-

 

“You don't have to talk to me. We don't need to have a conversation, but I hope you are willing to give me a minute of your time, and listen to my apologies.”

 

Jaehyun didn't want Sangyeon to be special to him anymore.

 

But the circuit of Sangyeon inside Jaehyun’s head hadn’t been broken. Jaehyun kept refusing to break it no matter how much heartache it brought him. He was foolish like that.

 

Sangyeon was supposed to be his.

 

Jaehyun loved Sangyeon so much.

 

So Jaehyun gave Sangyeon what he asked.

 

“I’m sorry,” Sangyeon opened with a genuine apology -so proper in his bringing, “Juyeon was right. I crossed a line.”

 

With that, Jaehyun expected a long explanations on why Sangyeon was losing his mind about Younghoon being in pain. Because Sangyeon loved Younghoon with his everything, because Younghoon’s suffering was his too, because-

 

“I’m sorry because I failed to notice that you’ve been hurting.”

 

But Sangyeon then said.

 

“I’m sorry because I overlooked your aches by assuming everything has always been okay.”

 

But Sangyeon then gazed at him with delicate eyes and smile that felt too personal and frank.

 

“I’m sorry because somehow I managed to make you think that I was out to ruin you.”

 

But Sangyeon’s face then twisted in pains of regrets -slamming his eyes tight before bracing himself to lay his eyes on Jaehyun’s wavering eyes once again.

 

“I would never Jaehyun. Not to anyone, especially not to you. Never you.”

 

“And I respect your decision to stop-“ but why was Sangyeon’s smile came out strained? Why was it shaky like he was really sorry? “I respect your decision to not talk to me again.”

 

Jaehyun’s chest tightened cruelly when Sangyeon’s lips stretched thin -more into a smile that was weaker than before, before giving Jaehyun a polite bow and walked out of the room.

 

And then Jaehyun almost forgot to go home, failing to remember how he found himself back in the office when the sky was already bright, in a new attire, fresh soap and shampoo emanating from his skin. Jaehyun didn't remember anything other than Sangyeon selfless apologies and respectful decisions to give Jaehyun what he thought he wanted. And it was not to talk to Sangyeon again.

 

He was granted his wishes, but Jaehyun wasn't aware that it would bring him so much torment.

 

“So we’re okay with this?”

 

Jaehyun clasped his trembling knees with his palm when the stabbing pain in his chest was getting too much-

 

“Jaehyun?”

 

He blinked fast and met Younghoon’s eyes across the table -the latter gave him a timid smile.

 

Jaehyun brushed Younghoon off and turned to Sunwoo who was leading the meeting, “Sorry come again?” pointedly ignoring Sangyeon’s fleeting glances at him.

 

Sunwoo looked unamused, “Do you see that cookies in front of you?”

 

Um, “Yes?” Jaehyun tilted his head.

 

“Eat it,” Jacob intervened before Sunwoo could say anything.

 

Um, “Okay?” he wondered if the box of cookies were gifts, or something they would made an article about. But Jaehyun took a bite, chewed, and hummed under his breath, “Is nice.”

 

“I baked it,” Jacob looked proud, “It’s called Caramelised Lemon Crunch Cranberry Macadamia, and my dad loves it so much-“

 

“He said it only out of pity,” Kevin hissed under his breath.

 

But Jaehyun had stopped listening -stopping mid chew when Jacob mentioned Macadamia, “I hate nuts.”

 

Jaehyun was glad he hadn’t swallowed any of them as the crumbs went perfectly still on top his tongue and the roof of his mouth-

 

“That’s not what you said about my nuts,” Juyeon quipped from beside him.

 

The crumbs fell down ungraciously from Jaehyun’s gaping jaw.

 

“What the fuck Juyeon?!!” Changmin screeched deafeningly.

 

“What?!!” Sunwoo yelled “What the fuck?!!”

 

Chanhee almost fell out of his chair -eyes hazy grasping Youngjae tight, who howled so loud.

 

“Get it man,” Youngjae’s head fell back in such a satisfactory guffaws.

 

Jaehyun didn't know where that was coming from, but he coughed out the rest of the cookies to the nearest bin and grabbed Haknyeon’s water bottle before drinking from it fast.

 

Haknyeon rubbed his back in an attempt to calm him down, and Jaehyun for the first time, was left tongue tied.

 

“Disgusting,” yet Kevin’s face showed nothing but delight.

 

“Ha, ha,” when he finally found his voice, it came out scratchy. Jaehyun blamed it on Jacob’s fucking Macadamia, “Very cute,” he hissed at Juyeon who seemed mildly amused.

 

“No. You’re cute,”  Juyeon shrugged dismissively, but eyes not leaving him.

 

“Who the fuck are you?!!” Jaehyun was yelling, but it was drowned out by Changmin’s ear-splitting scream and the sound of Chanhee’s palm hitting the meeting table in disbelief.

 

Sunwoo stammered with wide eyes as if he had seen ghosts, “Can you stop?” he begged in absolute horror, “I like it better when you two are obliviously trying to be discreet about the fact that you guys are dating.”

 

“Sorry,” Juyeon turned his seat back toward Sunwoo with teasing glimmers in his eyes, “Carry on.”

 

“You know,” but Sunwoo wasn't finished as he whispered painfully, “Wasting our time by saying Jaehyun is cute in the middle of a meeting, is not going to bring us more money-“

 

Jaehyun felt offended, “It’s not my fault that I’m cute.”

 

“Being cute isn’t everything,” Haknyeon pulled a face, “Unless you’re Youngjae who has a sugar daddy-“

 

“Hey-“

 

Haknyeon ignored Youngjae’s sputters, “But the fact is, you’re not getting paid for being cute.”

 

“Jaehyun would be rich if so,” Juyeon shrugged.

 

“Fucking hell Juyeon,” Chanhee whispered in disbelief.

 

That was it.

 

Jaehyun almost tripped when he got up on his shaking feet, grabbing Juyeon by the front collar with one hand, and dragged him out of the room after throwing a disgruntled smile for everyone to see, “A moment. You all can continue.”

 

As soon as they were hidden from the meeting room view, Jaehyun let go of Juyeon’s collar and punched Juyeon’s chest (why was them hard?!)

 

“What the fuck is wrong with you?!!” he demanded an explanation -ignoring his earlier thought.

 

“Um,” Juyeon scratched the side of his head while his left eyes scrunched up, “Playing the fake boyfriend?”

 

“Why?!!”

 

“You’re okay?”

 

“What kind of question- this conversation is not making any sense!!”

 

Juyeon didn't give Jaehyun an answer, studying him instead carefully.

 

“What?” so he lost his patience.

 

“You seemed okay now.”

 

“What the fuck are you on about Juyeon?”

 

“You haven’t been ‘present’ since morning.”

 

“Excuse you, I was-“ but Jaehyun stopped because he knew what Juyeon meant.

 

“That was why I asked if you were okay,” Juyeon continued, “Did something happen?”

 

“I don't want to talk about it.”

 

“Alright,” putting both of his hands up, Juyeon cleared his throat, “Sunwoo was telling us about Jacob and Kevin’s plan.”

 

“What plan?”

 

Jaehyun saw Juyeon’s lips moving wanting to comment about his lack of focus in the meeting. But Juyeon opted to shake his head and sigh, “Both of us are going as Gentlefolk and Haut Monde’s representatives for the Annual Anorak Gala.”

 

“But that’s outside the city.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“It’s a two days one night business trip.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“But it’s for Editor in Chiefs. Not Features Editors.”

 

“I’m guessing you’re not liking this.”

 

“Well yes!!” Jaehyun threw his hands up in exasperation, “I can’t just abandon my responsibilities here.”

 

“Why can’t Sangyeon and Younghoon go just like they always do?” he pestered Juyeon more.

 

“Ask that to Jacob and Kevin.”

 

“Why aren’t you refusing this idea? Wonho’s shoot is in three weeks from now.”

 

“I just think-“ for the first time in their back and forth chatter, Juyeon tore his gaze away and struggled to speak, “It must be nice, if I don't have to constantly walking on thin ice, and just get out of the office for a couple of days,” his chest went up in a shuddering inhale of breath, “I think you of all people, know how it feels to have to pretend that it doesn't hurt to be walking around the floor, and fight your own thoughts about how you’re not good enough in the eyes of someone you pathetically worship.”

 

Jaehyun took a step closer toward Juyeon and held his hand -wanting Juyeon to know that Jaehyun recognized his heartbreak.

 

Juyeon glanced up in a loud harrowing bitterness.

 

“It will never make sense to me,” so Jaehyun offered his best to comfort Juyeon, speaking a truth he thought Juyeon should know, “That someone can look at you and think that you weren’t enough.”

 

There was an unfamiliar glitz flashing across Juyeon’s eyes when he looked back at Jaehyun.

 

Jaehyun wondered if he said something he shouldn't have said-

 

“But you said I was never enough for Gentlefolk-“

 

“Fuck off!!”

 

 

***

 

 

Jaehyun thought it was silly of Juyeon to think that he had to pretend every day, hurting from fighting his own thoughts about how he was not good enough in Younghoon’s eyes.

 

But when Jaehyun’s laptop screen showed pictures of the alumni reunion he had missed out because he didn't think he could face Sangyeon (avoiding Sangyeon’s eyes when his senior asked him if they should take Sangyeon’s car instead of Jaehyun’s to the reunion. Grimacing, and lying, and saying he couldn't make it because there was something urgent he really needed to take care of), Jaehyun changed his mind and thought that maybe, he could relate to Juyeon.

 

Because when his eyes ran over the pictures of everyone flocking around Sangyeon -looking happy to be around him, Jaehyun found himself questioning about what was it that he got, that had made him so confident all of these years chasing after Sangyeon.

 

Because when his eyes fell down on his lap after coming across a particular picture of Sangyeon shyly holding a microphone -seemingly giving a speech as everyone else laughed good naturedly at what he said, Jaehyun found his head filled with screeches of vicious laughter saying that he had no entitlement whatsoever, to harbour any kind of feelings for Sangyeon, because Jaehyun was lacking in every aspect compared to Sangyeon.

 

So Jaehyun shut his laptop down.

 

So afraid that he would encounter another night spent only in torturous heartache.

 

 

***

 

 

But still, Jaehyun grieved alone underneath the dimness of his bedroom, punishing himself for committing a sin of trying his best for someone who never wanted his heart.

 

 

***

 

 

“This is like a fucking cliché trope that you,” Jaehyun hissed out in anger, and hunger, “And your lover boy Sunwoo, liked to read on those cheap ass magazine that you two ‘oh so secretly’ subscribed to!!”

 

Chanhee gasped so loud on the line.

 

Jaehyun took a deep breath, faintly hearing Juyeon’s angry voice spitting out ‘this is not funny!!’ to Youngjae on his phone, right behind him.

 

When Jaehyun agreed to go with Juyeon for the Annual Anorak Gala, he should have been suspicious of Chanhee’s constant reassurance about passing the entire preparation information for the business trip to the operational officer, to him.

 

Chanhee kept him away from entering the operational team area, saying he got everything under control. Jaehyun frowned the first time, but Chanhee was so good at patronizing people.

 

“I’m doing this, all this, so you don't have to waste time with preparations, and actually do your job right because you’re leaving us for two days Jaehyun. Two days. That’s a lot of days. No, no, don't argue with me. If it’s more than one day, means it's a lot of days.”

 

That was what Chanhee had said.

 

It made sense.

 

It truly did. So Jaehyun ensured completion of his urgent deadlines before leaving.

 

The plane ride was okay. Since he had kind of resolved all the misunderstandings happening between him and Juyeon, sitting beside the guy for a couple of hours didn’t feel terrible at all.

 

And the receptionist of the overly grandeur hotel gave them two cards. They were placed on the same floor, and their room was right beside each other.

 

Certainly, things were great. Except that he was terribly hungry. But that could be solved easily by room service he intended to call later on.

 

Jaehyun had given Juyeon a slight nod along with a smile, speaking that unspoken ‘I’ll see you tonight at the Gala, bro.’

 

Juyeon did the exact same thing and they entered their respective room.

 

A whistle had left his lips when Jaehyun looked around the posh suite. It shouldn't come as a surprise because Jacob and Kevin really held tight to their reputation of making sure luxury always followed them, and whoever worked for them.

 

His eyes went around the glamorous suite. The living area, the working area, the kitchen-

 

Jaehyun took one step back and blinked.

 

Huh. The kitchen was not here.

 

The kitchen must be on the other side of the-

 

“What the fuck-“

 

But Juyeon’s whisper of trepidation filled his ears instead, and Jaehyun turned toward the sound.

 

Jaehyun decided he didn't like the way Juyeon’s eyes widened -filled with terror.

 

“Why are you-“ Jaehyun asked slowly confused, “How do you…get in here…in my room-“

 

“Fuck,” but Juyeon just clenched his fist and got inside Jaehyun’s hotel suite and frantically looking around opening doors -increasingly getting frustrated after he opened each one, not finding whatever it was he was looking for.

 

“What is going on?”

 

Jaehyun watched the way Juyeon slammed his eyes shut, taking a deep breath, before pointing toward the door he got out from.

 

Couldn't be right?

 

But Jaehyun found his legs tripping as he followed Juyeon’s finger direction.

 

Then he found a massive kitchen, a huge dining room, a mini bar, and no, where is the bedroom? It was Jaehyun’s turn to run around the suite in frenzy.

 

Jaehyun found out there was only one bedroom with one humongous bed in it.

 

So he yelled.

 

“No!!”

 

“No!!” he yelled one more time for good measure.

 

“No-“

 

“Stop yelling!!” Juyeon scorned, suddenly appearing from behind him.

 

“What kind of stupid hotel suite, that has two entrance- two fucking entrance, and then only have one

bedroom?!!” his whole body was protesting -arms and feet flailing in frustration.

 

“Calm down,” Juyeon picked up the intricate vintage looking phone on the bedside table, pressing a button, “Hi, yes, um, I was wondering if you have an empty room- of course. Really? That’s great- it’s what? What? What the fuck do you mean by-“

 

“Juyeon don't be rude!!” Jaehyun hissed, afraid they wouldn't get any room if Juyeon started being a brute. So he snatched the phone from Juyeon’s hand and decided to take matters to his own hands, “Hello?”

 

“Ah yes hello.”

 

“Hi, I apologized for the uncouthness of my colleague,” Jaehyun pointedly shunned Juyeon’s choked complains, “As he was saying before becoming extremely rude-“

 

“Yes. We have a very specific request to prepare a Honeymoon Suite for Gentlefolk and Haut Monde’s-“

 

“What the fuck,” so he spat lowly, threateningly, “Do you mean by Honeymoon Suite?!!” before hollering at the top of his lungs, Jaehyun always thought polite courtesy was overrated anyway, “First of all, why would you have two fucking doors-“

 

“We were also specifically instructed to refuse any kind of suite switching and or splitting-“

 

“Fucking hell-“

 

“We had also been warned about the amount of unrefined words coming our way-“

 

“Fuck off!!”

 

Slamming the phone, Jaehyun walked fast toward the door, and called Chanhee -hearing Juyeon coming out also to probably call Haknyeon-

 

“Youngjae you piece of shit-“

 

Or Youngjae.

 

Jaehyun turned his attention back to Chanhee who was busy yakking-

 

“It is a gift from us. How dare you, you thankless ogre!!”

 

“I am not sleeping in the same suite with Juyeon!!”

 

“Why not?!! Shall I remind you that he’s your beau-“

 

“I will make sure,” Jaehyun whispered threateningly, “To make your work life miserable-“

 

“Have fun making babies lads!!”

 

“Chanhee!! Fucking hell- Chanhee!!”

 

The wail Jaehyun let out sounded a lot like that famous falling penguin video.

 

“I’ll sleep on the sofa,” Juyeon’s fingers were clutching his hair messily after finishing his call with Youngjae, “That thing is big enough to hold almost all of Youngjae’s team-“

 

“No just- I’ll take the sofa.”

 

“Jaehyun it’s fine-“

 

“Whatever,” Jaehyun waved his hand dismissively, “There would be no end to this talk. Let’s just- figure it out later. If we don't get ready now, we’ll be late and tardiness is not a word Haut Monde shall ever be associated with.”

 

Jaehyun had said it like it didn't matter. But really, the reality was not as friendly because as he and Juyeon got inside, being together in such a gigantic hotel suite, it still made Jaehyun’s lungs stuttered for air because this was too suffocating.

 

Weren’t this suite colossal the first time Jaehyun entered it?

 

When did it turn into a miniature?!!

 

Jaehyun purposefully shut his eyes when he felt Juyeon walking behind him toward wherever he was heading now. He was so hungry he couldn't think. His suitcase was nowhere to be found, and Jaehyun could only assume the bellhop placed it in the Master, which was ridiculous because calling it a Master was too absurd if there was only one room in this stupidly large suite.

 

His stomach grumbled and Jaehyun grouched toward the bedroom, finding Juyeon bending in half -opening his suitcase.

 

It was only polite for Jaehyun to ask Juyeon if he also wanted some snack Jaehyun about to order via room service.

 

“Do you want?”

 

“What?” Juyeon looked at him over his shoulder -still bending, “Want what? You’re not making any sense-“

 

“I’m hungry-“

 

Juyeon gazed at him for a very long time before croaking out a half disbelief tone, “What is wrong with you-“

 

“What?” he blinked angrily, hungrily, “What?!!”

 

“I could care less if you’re horny-“

 

“I said I’m hungry!! Not horny!!”

 

 

***

 

 

Juyeon almost rolled his eyes obnoxiously.

 

Key word. Almost.

 

Jaehyun was pretty.

 

It was no rocket science, the whole Glitterati Building knew about the fact, and was not ashamed to let Jaehyun knew by doing just about anything to get the male looked their way.

 

The thing was, Jaehyun only had his eyes on Sangyeon to notice or even care about all of the courting directed at him.

 

But the amount of stares people throwing toward their table was getting outrageous.

 

Jaehyun as always was way too oblivious to even recognize the attention he had been getting since the first time he stepped into the great hall.

 

Juyeon was absolutely not jealous of the attention because he knew he was not bad himself -had been getting smiles starting from coy to blatantly flirty. The stares either for him and Jaehyun? He couldn't be bothered about it.

 

What irked him, was when he started to realize he had gotten some dirty look instead. More than thrice now.

 

Attendees from different tables gave him a once over -assessing, before turning toward Jaehyun, and then back toward him. The last look given to him, was filled with what Juyeon would call jealousy.

 

“I don't want to mingle,” Jaehyun whispered sulkily from beside him.

 

“Then don’t.”

 

“That’s very easy for you to say,” Jaehyun sighed -getting up from his seat, “Come on.”

 

“Where?”

 

“Juyeon are you alright?” brows lifting, Jaehyun looked at him amusedly, “The official schedule is over. Everyone is already moving to the ballroom.”

 

Juyeon took his time to look around him and realized Jaehyun was right, “I don't want to mingle,” he copied Jaehyun’s tone.

 

Jaehyun laughed and patted his back twice, “Stick by my side, I’m good at being nice and mean.”

 

“Dual personality much?” Juyeon huffed a breath when he got up.

 

“Depends on whose receiving it.”

 

“I always knew you’re originally mean anyway,” Juyeon joked, poking Jaehyun’s side as the latter giggled childishly that it brought a smile to Juyeon’s face -frame loosening thinking it wouldn't be so bad if he had Jaehyun to help him socializing tonight.

 

People were standing and conversing inside a separate room for the extravagant business gathering. Juyeon eyed the wine being passed around by the waiters, and didn't really feel like having it. He told Jaehyun this.

 

“If you’re going to the bar, can I get whatever you’re having then?” Jaehyun gave a small tug on his suit jacket.

 

They were standing so close to each other in a crowded room, and maybe Juyeon could hear the way the chandeliers above them clinked softly -dancing quietly watching everything happening beneath them.

 

Maybe Juyeon could smell his own perfume, emitting from Jaehyun’s skin (because Juyeon was left unimpressed when Jaehyun said he didn't understand the purpose of perfume as he didn't like to wear one. So Juyeon spritz it all over Jaehyun as a spiteful attack), that it made him a little lightheaded.

 

And suddenly Juyeon was hyperaware of the way Jaehyun’s lashes fluttered across his smooth skin. Jaehyun’s lips were moving -eyes elsewhere but Juyeon’s cloudy gaze at him. Juyeon couldn't make out what Jaehyun was saying, too busy studying how Jaehyun’s lips were thicker at the bottom. The top part thinner, and had a distinct shape of heart.

 

Juyeon’s head was too busy questioning why Sangyeon would miss out a chance on Jaehyun. Because when he finally really looked at Jaehyun -throwing his prejudice away and tried to get to know Jaehyun better, Juyeon came to a couple of conclusions.

 

Nice.

 

Jaehyun was nice. Sure he took fun watching a fight rather than breaking it. Sure he found enjoyment in aggravating people -teasing whatever that breathes to no end. Sure Jaehyun was loud -acted like total brat sometimes, but Jaehyun was nice. Juyeon finally could see -without his narrow mind when it was about Jaehyun, that the guy showed the quality silently. When Jaehyun helped without being told to, checking everyone without being asked to, he did it wordlessly. Such contrast to his flamboyant personality. Juyeon swallowed a fond scoff when he remembered how Jaehyun had bought cakes for Younghoon because he couldn't stand the guilty feeling, even when Jaehyun was still mad, angry.

 

Smart.

 

Ah, Juyeon thought to himself. That he already knew from the start.

 

Proper.

 

Jaehyun was proper. Sure he cursed like a sailor sometimes -all the time. Sure he yelled around the office when his kids didn't take his instructions seriously. But Jaehyun never failed to bow politely -after any kind of jobs done, even to his subordinates and said his gratitude and apologies for any kind of words or behaviour Jaehyun had said or did, that might hurt them.

 

Loyal.

 

Jaehyun was too loyal Juyeon almost scolded him because it was so silly. Every time Jaehyun went all professional, always saying that he represented Haut Monde, that it only meant what he did -what he brought to the table, shall be nothing but impeccable because he was Haut Monde and Haut Monde was Jaehyun. He refused so many offers to work under anyone else, not saying anything about it but Juyeon knew he was so loyal to Younghoon -who had been his mentor from the start of his career. Sure Jaehyun liked to have a go with Kevin, screaming at each other when they came to disagreements, but Jaehyun never passed up an opportunity to brag about how much of an amazing business man Kevin was to their business partners.

 

So stupidly in love with Sangyeon. So stupidly loyal to Sangyeon-

 

 “Where is Sangyeon?”

 

Juyeon’s head turned fast -mind clicking out of a trance, to see a friendly smile on Faberge Magazine’s Editor in Chief’s face.

 

“He um-“ Jaehyun put his head down in a shaky smile.

 

Juyeon’s heart beat just a little faster watching Jaehyun picking up pieces of power to answer the question. His heart break a little for not seeing the usual crinkling at the end of Jaehyun’s eyes when he smiled like he meant it.

 

“Jacob and Kevin I think,” so he wanted to bail Jaehyun out of his own prison -where Jaehyun was left incapable to find a way out of being foolishly devoted to Sangyeon. Juyeon answered the question instead, “Have been wanting to get rid of him, and make me the new Editor in Chief,” he grinned jokingly -hoping it would relax Jaehyun.

 

Luther -the said Editor in Chief, laughed good naturedly and patted his upper arm, “I forgot. You’re Sangyeon’s right hand,” sipping from his glass, Luther smiled kindly, “I always mix you four up because I always thought you’re with Younghoon instead.”

 

Juyeon’s frame tensing at the innocent statement.

 

“I’m sorry Jaehyun. The question should be aimed at Juyeon instead,” an apologetic smile formed on Luther’s lips, “You’ve always been close to Sangyeon. So I just said what I assumed. Younghoon is fine I suppose?”

 

“Yeah,” Jaehyun nodded, and Juyeon could feel Jaehyun’s hand slipping to his back -giving Juyeon comforting rubs.

 

He didn't need to be comforted, but Juyeon would be lying if he said so, because hearing Younghoon’s name -hearing how people presumed he and Younghoon was- it still- his poor heart was still-

 

“Your drink looks nice,” Jaehyun let out a small smile, “Where’d you get it?”

 

“The bar,” Luther pointed out, “It wasn't overly crowded minutes ago. You should grab yours now before it gets packed.”

 

“Thank you for the intel,” Jaehyun gave a conspiratorial wink.

 

Juyeon felt himself being dragged and, “Jaehyun the bar is that way-“

 

But his sentence came to a halt as soon as Juyeon saw Jaehyun’s tightening jaw, chagrin all over his face. Then Juyeon followed along, entering the elevator before finally arriving in their suite and got inside it.

 

Jaehyun was eerily quiet.

 

So Juyeon sat himself on the living room floor -resting his back on the sofa behind him, watching Jaehyun disappear to the other side of the suite, and got back while hugging about six bottles of wine.

 

“Have you gone insane?” Juyeon’s eyes widened when Jaehyun sat beside him.

 

“This fucking suite has a whole wall as wine racks,” Jaehyun grumbled, putting all the bottles on the floor, before opening one and took a sip right from the tip of the bottle, “Jacob and Kevin wouldn't even bat a lid paying for these.”

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

“Shut up.”

 

Juyeon sighed.

 

“You know,” but it took quite a while before Jaehyun continued his sentence as he busied himself gulping down the wine. The sight brought a wince to Juyeon’s face.

 

“Funny,” Jaehyun drank more from the bottle as he continued, “So much for trying to break away, when he’s just-“ daze glimmered painfully in Jaehyun’s eyes, “Everywhere.”

 

And Juyeon couldn't even disagree because he still found Younghoon when his eyes caught the tie he worn on his job interview day, so many years ago. Sometimes Juyeon found Younghoon’s memory when he visited the convenience store where he met Younghoon for the first time -his eyes tricking him without mercy because Juyeon always saw Younghoon there, under the awning, with his umbrella above his head -turning toward Juyeon with a smile so warm and gentle, ready to be his saviour.

 

Juyeon unconsciously reached to one of the bottle Jaehyun brought with him. He opened it carefully, eyes trained over the expanse over Jaehyun’s neck as the latter was tipping his head so hard -emptying the bottle.

 

This couldn't be right.

 

So Juyeon put the bottle on his hand down on the floor -because he had to stop Jaehyun, only to have the bottle he just put down seized.

 

“Hey-“ Juyeon let out a light disapproval, “Jaehyun watch it-“

 

“You know, I really meant it,” and Jaehyun turned his frame toward Juyeon -eyes locked on him before downing more wine, “When I said it didn't make sense to me, that someone could look at you and think that you weren’t enough.”

 

A foreign twinge happened fast in Juyeon’s chest -spreading fast along his veins filling his lungs.

 

It was snug at the pit of his stomach. It felt like it belonged.

 

“I always think you’re…soft,” the top of Jaehyun’s cheeks were crimson -so drunk, “Gullible at times, but I guess that's one of your charm,” the compliments ended with another swig of alcohol.

 

Knots were forming tight in Juyeon’s throat -turning to lumps that Juyeon somehow refused to swallow.

 

It made his breath caught in his lungs, but too much of a delight to be passed on.

 

“You pay attention,” but Juyeon was wrong because Jaehyun didn't stop the compliments, and continued his strings of honour -drinking from his second bottle still, “So kind,” inching closer to Juyeon -bottle tight in his grasp, long lashes swept along flushing skin, “So effortlessly awkward it tickles me sometimes.”

 

Some of Jaehyun’s hair that lost grip of the gels Jaehyun used on it earlier in the evening, swayed -slightly curling and the tip of Juyeon’s fingers were itching to touch it.

 

Jaehyun was pretty.

 

“And you grieve, along with me,” Jaehyun rested his right cheek on top of his right shoulder as he put his weight on his right arm -head tilting peering at Juyeon, “Mourning foolishly over someone who is still alive yet not returning the easy love we have for them,” a bitter chuckle left Jaehyun’s lips before he finished his second bottle dangerously.

 

But Juyeon’s eyes were too busy regarding the flicker in Jaehyun’s eyes that was fixed on him, to note how Jaehyun had put down the empty bottle in his hand on the floor, and moved closer.

 

“It feels tragic for me. And for you too. It felt hopeless for me. And for you too,” their eye contact was broken for a split second when Jaehyun grimaced down looking shameful, “I am blind, and you are too.”

 

Juyeon’s heart was frantic because seeing Jaehyun shrinking in pain, made his heart flinched. Something was cracking in his chest-

 

“And I think you’re brilliant in everything you feel and possessed,” then Jaehyun put both of his palms on the floor -facing Juyeon properly, knees placed near his hands, glancing up in defeated glassy eyes, “Younghoon is a fool for not wanting you.”

 

And Jaehyun reached out to the back of Juyeon’s neck. The clumsy grip made Juyeon’s heart leapt too far from reach. Too far for Juyeon to attain and put back into its casket to control it.

 

Jaehyun gave Juyeon’s neck an assuring pat before retreating back in an intoxicated smile. Juyeon didn't want him to stop. Juyeon didn't want Jaehyun to stop touching him.

 

“I know I’m not the best person to listen to about this,” Jaehyun drunkenly withdrew, “But don't waste your moonlight thinking about someone who is never with you whether it’s dark or bright up there,” he pointed above.

 

The scars on his heart were always loud in their demands of cures -of Younghoon, wanting to be healed -could only be healed by Younghoon. But Juyeon for the first time in such a long time, got nothing but defeaning silence from his heart as Jaehyun glanced at him kindly.

 

“Do you think,” Jaehyun’s lips were wet, coloured in dark red from the wine -arms that he used to prop himself were swaying from left to right, “Sangyeon would want to come if I asked him to go see the sun set with me?”

 

Jaehyun was glorious in his despair.

 

So perfect.

 

“I would,” so Juyeon replied.

 

“Of course you would,” Jaehyun giggled, “You like Younghoon.”

 

Jaehyun was radiant in his oblivion.

 

Jaehyun looked like a darling.

 

“I will come, if you ask me to go see the sun set with you.”

 

It stopped Jaehyun’s giggles.

 

Juyeon could hear the way Jaehyun’s lungs filled up with sharp breath as his gaze wavered.

 

“Will you come if I ask you to?” Juyeon felt the urgency to ask back -somehow desperate to hear Jaehyun’s answer for reasons he didn't understand.

 

“I don't know,” Jaehyun whispered quietly, endearing turmoil etched on his features -looking like he was under a spell, “Kiss me next to my lips.”

 

“Why?” and Juyeon didn't want to delay the way his upper body leaned forward -decreasing the distance between him and Jaehyun.

 

“That way I can see what I want clearly.”

 

Juyeon didn't know why or when they started whispering, “Do you want me?”

 

“Maybe?”

 

“How much?”

 

“I said maybe.”

 

“I heard you the first time,” Juyeon’s lids grew heavy -not feeling too lonely because Jaehyun too had his lids flitting up and down between Juyeon’s lips and eyes.

 

So Juyeon asked again, “How much?”

 

“I can’t possibly know.”

 

“More than you had wanted to work for Gentlefolk?”

 

“I think.”

 

“More than you’ve been wanting Sangyeon?”

 

“I don't think.”

 

“Shall I kiss you then?”

 

“Only next to my lips.”

 

“Okay.”

 

Juyeon felt so drunk. They were so drunk.

 

Jaehyun’s skin felt so soft against his lips. Juyeon tasted the shivers on Jaehyun’s cheek, tasted Jaehyun’s warm breath fanning against his own cheek.

 

“How about now?” so he asked.

 

“I’m not so sure,” but Jaehyun answered.

 

And the side of their noses grazed against each other in a careful manner. Both their head tilted back just a little when tip of noses were touching -eyes locking and not breaking.

 

“Shall you kiss me again?” Jaehyun asked this time around.

 

“Only next to your lips then?”

 

“No,” Jaehyun’s murmur made Juyeon’s stomach churned wildly, “Not there Juyeon.”

 

It was too confusing the relieved feeling that washed over Juyeon immediately after hearing his name escaping Jaehyun’s drunken lips.

 

“Tell me where,” Juyeon nudged their nose together closer.

 

“You will let me have what I want?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Why?”

 

“You’re nice.”

 

“And?”

 

“Pretty.”

 

“Am I pretty?”

 

“Yes,” Juyeon’s chest stuttered when Jaehyun put his palm on it -touching deliberately.

 

“Kiss me again then.”

 

“Where?”

 

“I’ll let you decide.”

 

And even when Juyeon’s whole being was filled with haste, trembling with want, stirring in shambles and uncertainty and confusion, Juyeon didn't surge forward fast like he had thought he would.

 

Because it took a lot more than mere seconds before his lips finally moulded slowly against Jaehyun’s -both heads canting in sync tasting soft and wet caverns across pliant tongues.

 

They kissed.

 

It wreaked havoc in Juyeon’s hammering heart.

 

But it was okay.

 

It was forgiven.

 

Because they were both drunk, so they kissed.

 

 

***

 

 

But when Jaehyun had long passed out on the sofa, when Juyeon‘s mouth covered in faint taste of alcohol, reality unfolded for him in its stealthy silence.

 

Juyeon didn’t drink any kind of inebriating liquid.

 

They kissed.

 

It was not because they were both drunk.

 

Rather,

 

For Juyeon,

 

Jaehyun had looked like a darling.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

06 – (Dis)Card(ed)

 

 

He remembered, Juyeon thought when Jaehyun halted in his tracks as soon as he saw Juyeon sitting in the dining area with their breakfast.

 

Jaehyun’s locks was still wet, hair towel hung over a shoulder.

 

Jaehyun’s lips pouted as he whined, stomping on his feet accusing Juyeon of wanting to rob him off of his breakfast.

 

Jaehyun’s brows furrowed as he scolded Juyeon of being unmannerly, saying that Juyeon was a lost cause, because it was impossible for someone to still be brutes if they worked under his Sangyeon for years already.

 

Juyeon put his head down and secretly let out a bitter smile.

 

Jaehyun didn't remember.

 

 

***

 

 

Juyeon gritted his teeth.

 

The blatant flirting happening in front of him right now was getting outrageous.

 

If only Juyeon hadn’t bring all of his laptop and papers and working gears to the pantry (he was getting too suffocated trying to pretend he wasn't aware of Sangyeon’s constant stare from his office), he wouldn't have been so adamant on staying in the office huge pantry. Taking his work equipment back to his office was too much of a hassle.

 

Had he mentioned the office pantry was lavishly huge?

 

So he didn't understand why would Changmin and Haknyeon be here, sitting on his table, joining him, and flirted like the world was ending in another hour.

 

The whole glancing at each other’s eyes and smiling shyly and just-

 

Juyeon felt salty.

 

He opened his cola can, while his long limbs made sure the can was placed right in the middle of Changmin and Haknyeon’s sights.

 

He ignored Changmin’s widened and irked eyes while sipping from his can of soda.

 

“We’re having a moment,” Haknyeon said deadpan. Because of course, it was Juyeon’s fault that he was there. Because of course, it was Juyeon’s fault that Changmin and Haknyeon chose to sit on his table, in this extravagantly massive pantry.

 

“I’m having a cola,” Juyeon shrugged and celebrated internally when Changmin grumbled -getting up from his seat, which was followed closely by Haknyeon.

 

“You’re so selfish,” Haknyeon whispered hurtly.

 

“I’m- what-“ Juyeon scoffed. The audacity-

 

“Not everyone is in a long term relationship like you and Jaehyun-“

 

“Hak-“

 

“And somehow still absolutely active sexually, shamelessly in a work place-“

 

“That’s not right-“

 

“You’re supposed to cheer me on,” but Haknyeon had his face scrunched  in disappointment before leaving and running after Changmin.

 

“Is no one sane in this office?” Juyeon hissed -irritated.

 

“I’m sane,” but then came a reluctant answer as an attempt to join his joke from behind him, and Juyeon didn't have to turn around to know that it was Younghoon.

 

Juyeon bit his bottom lip hard, before deciding to let out a hum of recognition -pressing the small twinges at the pit of his stomach.

 

Busying his hands with the report Youngjae handed him this morning, Juyeon felt like screaming when Younghoon carefully pulled the seat in front of him. Juyeon didn't want to see, didn't want to look, didn't want to remember-

 

“Hi,” Younghoon’s greet was filled with uncertainty.

 

Not trusting his brain, Juyeon just raised his brows once -keeping his eyes on Youngjae’s report, frowning when he spotted the use of internet memes on it. A lot of them, “What the fuck,” he breathed, half displeased half entertained.

 

And from the corner of his eyes, he could see the way Younghoon’s frame went up a little, taking a peek on the report.

 

The gentle breath escaping Younghoon’s lips sounded amused.

 

A sharp tug shook Juyeon’s chest.

 

This felt too soon. Juyeon wasn't ready. Juyeon wanted to run. He wanted to scamper away from Younghoon who attempted to be comfortable again. He wanted to tell Haknyeon that this -what Younghoon tried to do now, was what selfish truly was.

 

Because Juyeon’s poor heart still pinched pitifully, still frigid -hating Younghoon, still learning how to let go of Younghoon.

 

“I bet Youngjae made the report.”

 

And Juyeon’s unfortunate heart still breaking just by having Younghoon sitting in front of him trying to make a small talk. It was still splitting, open to have its scars harmed.

 

There was painful knots in his throat that made the back of his eyes felt warm. Juyeon blinked it away fast, ducking his head, not answering.

 

So Younghoon retreated his frame back -Juyeon could sense it. Because of course Younghoon would always see right through everything, could always sense when things weren’t quite right.

 

“I’m sorry,” then Younghoon got up from his seat mindfully, apologizing quietly like he was aching.

 

Younghoon wasn't allowed. Juyeon was supposed to be the only one hurting. Why would Younghoon speak like Juyeon’s unrequited love pained him too? Younghoon was not allowed, he had no right.

 

“Jaehyun-“ and then Younghoon sounded like he had been burned.

 

The sound of Younghoon’s chair scraping against the wood floor as his feet slammed into it made Juyeon glanced up.

 

Jaehyun was standing opposite Younghoon with an indifferent look, “What’s going on here?”

 

“Nothing,” Younghoon was quick on answering, biting the side of his lips out of habit when he felt slightly worried, “Nothing.”

 

Juyeon’s jaw clenched before setting his eyes back on his lap.

 

“I was just about to leave,” even when Juyeon didn't see it, he could very well hear Younghoon’s dejected tone.

 

Jaehyun said nothing, unmoving from his cold demeanour.

 

And Juyeon didn't even realize he had been holding his breath as his chest stuttered when he filled his lungs with air.

 

“You’re okay?” Jaehyun sat down in the chair previously occupied by Younghoon.

 

“Why wouldn't I be?” shrugging silently, Juyeon started marking Youngjae’s report.

 

“Look at me and say that again.”

 

“I don't have time for this Jaehyun.”

 

“If you say so.”

 

That answer somehow riled him up. Juyeon looked up about to retort when he realized Jaehyun was busy opening his laptop and papers and- “Um, what are you doing?”

 

“Hypnotizing myself to actually start working.”

 

“Here?”

 

“Why?” Jaehyun’s face dimmed -bottom lip jutting just a little, “That question felt absurdly cold like you don't want me to join you here.”

 

No.

 

Juyeon’s tongue was tied at the sight. He wanted to say of course not, that Jaehyun was more than welcome because Jaehyun wouldn't flirt with anyone here like Changmin and Haknyeon. Jaehyun wouldn't make Juyeon uncomfortable, self-conscious, and worthless like how Younghoon made Juyeon felt.

 

No.

 

Juyeon’s heart lost its way as it got caught hard in his throat when Jaehyun started whining saying things like how he thought they were close already for sharing a secret, sharing a heartbreak, so it didn't make any sense if Juyeon shooed him away right now.

 

But his train of thoughts soon interrupted when Juyeon realized Jaehyun was studying him with his stare for a long time, huffing, before standing up and collected his belongings.

 

“No,” so Juyeon said it out loud this time -circling his fingers along Jaehyun’s wrist, “Please. Stay.”

 

The immediate grin painted across Jaehyun’s face felt blinding. His lips parting showing his rows of teeth, eyes crinkling at the corners -the crinkling that Juyeon felt like pulling until it sagged back then, now had looked- somehow, lovely.

 

Jaehyun’s frame danced lightly from side to side as he opened his laptop, typing away while sometimes he would peer at a report he brought, that Juyeon could only guess made by Chanhee -considering the glittery paper.

 

And something warm began spreading across Juyeon’s chest.

 

Jaehyun felt-

 

 “You said you’re fine,” Jaehyun pointed tone snapped him up.

 

“Pardon?”

 

“See, you’re not paying attention.”

 

“You were saying?”

 

“I still find it hard facing Sangyeon too,” Jaehyun leaned forward to whisper -wincing as he did so, the glum in his eyes wasn't missed by Juyeon.

 

“No it’s not that-“

 

“It’s okay. You don't have to lie to me-“

 

“I’m not thinking about Younghoon-“

 

“Right,” it was said with a brow being raised.

 

“I’m not!!”

 

“So what are you thinking then?”

 

You.

 

But the word didn't leave his lips. Instead, it left him flabbergasted. Juyeon felt how he was visibly taken aback by his own thought. His heart wasn't beating in its place. Why would it beat right below his throat?

 

Jaehyun was watching him carefully, “Are you alright?”

 

“Yes,” then he answered fast, swallowing the clustered baffling sensation that got his stomach churning.

 

“You shall be thankful that I saved you from Younghoon earlier.”

 

Juyeon scoffed -partly wanting to hide his heart’s enigmatic rate.

 

“I don't think you spent more than a minute with him and look at you now!! Awful!!”

 

“That’s such an exaggeration-“

 

“What would you do without me?”

 

“Celebrate.”

 

“Fuck off,” but Jaehyun laughed as he said it, chuckling hard as if the years they spent hating on each other never existed.

 

“Damn it Jaehyun,” Juyeon grumbled when he saw the glitters from Chanhee’s report started getting into Youngjae’s printed internet memes of a report, “Take control of your glitters.”

 

Jaehyun was unimpressed, “Don't tell me you’re not going to ask Youngjae to make a new report to replace this nonsense,” his hand was moving excessively on top of Youngjae’s report.

 

“At least my kid’s report doesn't damage other people properties.”

 

“The paper is fancy!!”

 

“For what?” Juyeon sighed exasperatedly because it was pretty useless in his head.

 

“Well,” Jaehyun bit his bottom lip, “We’re having Gucci x Disney collaboration, and-”

 

“And Chanhee sees it as a gold opportunity to finally open his glitter bombs.”

 

“He said it’s an act of celebration,” Jaehyun tried to defend his kid. But from the slight grimace, Juyeon knew he also wasn't a fan.

 

“Congratulations,” Juyeon clapped really slowly, “I can see it’s a wonderful one since your cheeks are full of glitters.”

 

“Fuck~” frantic, Jaehyun pulled out his phone and realized that he indeed had a great amount of glitters on the top of his cheeks, “Fuck~ this is humiliating!!”

 

“Eh, not that bad.”

 

“Juyeon,” Jaehyun said his name with gritted teeth, “I acted all gangly in front of Younghoon to defend you, while my whole face is apparently having a glitter rave!!”

 

“Oh,” and really, Juyeon genuinely had to stop himself from laughing because-

 

“Stop laughing!!”

 

“I’m sorry, now that you mentioned it I can’t stop-“

 

Right there.

 

An ardent launched like fireworks running along Juyeon’s veins because Jaehyun was sulking in front of him, grouching, petulant, shrieking. Somehow fondness peeking from the back of Juyeon’s heart watching Jaehyun trying to rub off the glitter with his handkerchief.

 

Juyeon didn't think.

 

Sighing the remnants of his laughter, Juyeon got up from his seat to then got on one knee in front of Jaehyun. He took the handkerchief away from Jaehyun’s grip gently, and put it on top of the table.

 

Juyeon couldn't think.

 

The perplexity flashing in Jaehyun’s eyes was sweet in Juyeon’s, so he smiled at it -carefully peeling the masking tape he got on his office supplies clutch, and folded it just so before collecting the glitters on Jaehyun’s face with it.

 

Slowly. Carefully.

 

“Ow,” Jaehyun scowled loudly when Juyeon accidentally pulled too hard on his skin.

 

“I’m sorry,” so Juyeon apologized tenderly, making sure he wouldn't do the same mistake by drawing Jaehyun’s head closer -putting his fingers at the top of Jaehyun’s neck and made sure he held Jaehyun’s head heedfully.

 

His stomach swirled in bewilderments but Juyeon didn't have time to think what it was about -occupied on making sure Jaehyun wouldn't get hurt.

 

It was such a menial task yet Juyeon finished cleanly. His eyes roamed over Jaehyun’s face to make sure there were no glitter left.

 

“Thank you,” the whisper of Jaehyun’s gratitude made Juyeon looked up.

 

And it was as if Juyeon’s chest was shrinking when Jaehyun quickly broke their eye contact and looked everywhere but him. Juyeon didn't recognize the new pattern of throbs his heart was making when it came to Jaehyun.

 

“You’re welcome-“

 

“What does this mean?!!” there was a loud screech coming from behind him and Juyeon hung his head low.

 

Youngjae.

 

“Why is my boss kneeling on one knee?!! What does this mean?!!” Youngjae’s scream now followed by gasps and whispers.

 

“Is it-“ Juyeon took a deep breath to calm his anger -hoping he didn't have to lash out, “Does he attract crowds-“

 

“Fuck off!!” but Jaehyun had yelled back and Juyeon, Juyeon screwed his eyes shut because Jaehyun was so fucking loud.

 

“What does this mean?!!” Youngjae repeated deafeningly -not backing down anytime soon, “Are you two getting married?!! Oh my goodness yes!! Yes!! Thank you universe-“

 

Juyeon let out a surprised yelp and fell on his bum when Jaehyun bent down to take his left shoe off, “Jaehyun that’s my shoe-“

 

“Fuck!! Off!!” Jaehyun screamed louder and threw Juyeon’s precious fabric and suede calfskin in white and ivory Chanel sneaker.

 

Even though it wasn't worth it, but the crowd seemed to disperse along with Youngjae.

 

“They’re gone,” Jaehyun smiled victoriously at him while dusting off his hands.

 

“Along with my left Chanel sneaker.”

 

“Ungrateful much?” Jaehyun furrowed his brows disapprovingly. But he got up anyway, walking to take Juyeon’s shoe back.

 

And Juyeon had a sudden surge to laugh, to hide his face, the smile about to bloom on it, the doting laughter vibrating in his chest.

 

Sure, pressing and hiding them was easy.

 

What wasn’t, was pushing away the memory that kept appearing about what happened a week ago between him and Jaehyun.

 

They kissed in a honeymoon suite living room of an acutely overpriced hotel.

 

Juyeon remembered but Jaehyun didn't.

 

And now as Jaehyun also kneeled on the open pantry floor -kindly trying to put Juyeon’s shoes back for him like he was Prince Charming putting Cinderella’s shoes for her, Juyeon couldn't help but thought.

 

Seeing Younghoon now, filled Juyeon with fear, anxiety, trepidation. Younghoon felt like a personal insecurities.

 

But Jaehyun,

 

Jaehyun felt like an overwhelming affections instead.

 

 

***

 

 

“The printer won't work if it smells fear.”

 

“What kind of bullshit-“

 

“Lick it,” Sunwoo pursed his lips in thought as he looked at Youngjae -waiting, “What are you waiting for?”

 

“Lick it?” the whisper Youngjae let out sounded terrified.

 

“Lick it,” Sunwoo affirmed.

 

“Why would I lick the printer?!!”

 

“To make it feel better.”

 

“What is wrong with you- you know what, no,” frustration clear on Youngjae’s fed up twitch of brows, “It’s my fault for asking you about why the printer won’t print. God Sunwoo you’re so unreliable.”

 

But Sunwoo grabbed Youngjae’s arm before the latter could escape, “Hey,” frowning like he took a lot of offense on that, “At least I can be relied upon being unreliable-“

 

A loud bang from inside the huge printer made Youngjae jumped to Sunwoo side.

 

Something whirring. Not stopping.

 

“Sunwoo-“ Youngjae breathed silently about to cry, “What is that?”

 

But the male didn't answer -frozen in his spot, “Fuck-“

 

“Sunwoo, what is that vibrating sound?” the grip he had on Sunwoo’s arms getting tighter.

 

Another loud bang.

 

“Fuck!!” Sunwoo jumped back in fright -screaming as his hands turned into fists, frame ready to fight despite how badly it was trembling.

 

Youngjae yelled loudly before scrambling to Sunwoo’s back, “Inspect it!!”

 

“Why me?!!”

 

“You said you’re the printer master!!”

 

“I said that ten minutes ago!!”

 

“Check it!!”

 

“You do it!!”

 

“I can’t believe I almost licked it!!”

 

“I can’t believe you almost believed me!!”

 

“You’re stupid!!

 

“You’re likely a lot more stupid than I am!!”

 

“Stop SCREAMING!!”

 

Sunwoo and Youngjae shouted from the top of their lungs when Chanhee’s suddenly screech from behind them.

 

“I can hear you two from the shoot studio, and Kevin is giving me an earful about it-“

 

Another remarkably loud bang against the printer.

 

“Fuck!!” Chanhee yelled -pushing Youngjae away from Sunwoo’s back so he could hug Sunwoo from behind- wait, he meant, so he could hide behind Sunwoo (not hug, not hug), “What is that?!!”

 

Youngjae yelled back -stumbling after the hard push, “We won’t be screaming if we know!!”

 

“Look at it!!”

 

“Okay!! Okay!!” Sunwoo put both his hands up, “Everyone stop screaming,” he exhaled in shambles, “I’ll go and check okay. Just- okay.”

 

“God he’s so brave,” Chanhee bit his lip muttering alone -unluckily getting heard by Youngjae.

 

“Keep it in your pants Choi,” he eyed Chanhee up and down in clear distaste, “We all know he just pretend to be brave because you’re here.”

 

“And that make it worse how?” Chanhee punched Youngjae’s arm lightly in a shy manner.

 

“You disgust me-“

 

“Is that-“ but Sunwoo cut him off, “Is that a duckling?”

 

“What-“ Youngjae got pushed one more time by Chanhee.

 

“Let me-“ Chanhee stood beside Sunwoo and carefully pulled out the poor duckling that had been stuck in the printer, “Poor baby!! My baby!!”

 

“Chanhee,” Sunwoo started cautiously, “Why is there a bright yellow duckling here?”

 

Chanhee cooed and kissed the duckling tiny head, “Jaehyun thought it would be cute to have ducklings with our Gucci x Disney collaboration-“

 

“Catch them!! Catch them!!” Kevin’s shrills from far across the area, suddenly filled the entire office floor, “A mess!! This is a mess!!”

 

The three duckling saviour jumped on their feet at Kevin’s thundering holler.

 

Kevin finally appeared from the shoot studio door -falling on his knees as he wailed, palms smashing the floor, “Catch them!! Catch all of them!! Mayday!! Mayday!!”

 

It was absolute chaos as dozens of bright yellow ducklings running out from the studio in frantic.

 

“Kevin you incompetent shit!!” that was Jacob coming out from the studio, “This is a fucking mess!!” practically yelling his lungs out.

 

“Don't act like this isn’t also your fault!!” Kevin snapped back -getting up to choke Jacob. Literally.

 

It was indeed a fucking mess.

 

“What is going on?!!” Youngjae started screaming because really, the sight of tiny ducklings running around almost filling the office floor was frightening. What if he stepped on them?!! Poor child!!

 

“What is going on?!!” Sunwoo started screaming because really, the sight of his bosses choking each other until their faces red was alarming. What if they were both ended up dead and couldn't pay his salary?!! Poor him and his future wedding with Chanhee if somehow Chanhee wanted to do something cool like marrying him!!

 

“Jacob calm down- fuck- fuck” Sangyeon squawked when he tried to pry Kevin away from Jacob, “Jacob, Jacob that’s my skin you’re pulling!! Fuck!!”

 

“Kevin enough- no!!” Younghoon who also tried his best to separate the two bosses, got elbowed by Kevin accidentally and fell ungraciously to the floor, “Kevin that’s my eyeball!!”

 

“Younghoon!!” Chanhee ran fast to save Younghoon but ended up, “Oh my God!! What the fuck!!” screaming before he could reach Younghoon out of terror when a remarkably huge -like human size huge, yellow duck passed by him running, “What is that?!! What is that?!!”

 

But the giant duck disappeared as fast as it appeared.

 

Glitterati Building 11th floor, was the epitome of catastrophe.

 

However, Juyeon was not there to witness it.

 

In fact, Juyeon hadn’t touch his foot anywhere near the office today. The morning meeting he had to attend with Wonho’s agency went well despite the blatant flirting he got from Gentlefolk’s year-end cover sole model. It reminded him to ask Jaehyun about how to handle excessive flirty clients-

 

“Jaehyun?” Juyeon braked painfully slowly -jumping on his seat when the car behind him started honking, “Fuck- sorry,” whispering to himself, Juyeon parked his car at the side of the road.

 

He couldn't be mistaken. Glitterati Building was only four kilometres away. So Juyeon put his passenger window down and whispered in total dismay when Jaehyun -seemingly oblivious to his surroundings, walked fast about to pass his car, “Jaehyun?”

 

And he was right. Because the hulking bright yellow duck costume, indeed had Jaehyun inside it.

 

“Juyeon?” and Jaehyun stopped -his breathing a little heavy as if he had been running, “I’m glad you’re here-“ Jaehyun reached toward the passenger door and frowned when he found out that it was locked, “Let me in-“

 

“What is- why are you…what are you doing?” meanwhile Juyeon was still drowning in his astonishment, ogling the way Jaehyun’s face came out from a hole in the costume that was big enough to fit a face in. It was under the duck’s beak.

 

“Juyeon let me in-“

 

“Why would I?” horrified, Juyeon frowned -brows flying up in the incredulity of the request.

 

“What kind of comradeship are you exactly showing?!!” Jaehyun throttled out.

 

“Why are you in that costume first of all-“

 

“It doesn't matter!!”

 

“Of course it is!!”

 

“I’ll explain it to you later, but can you please let me in first- stop laughing!!”

 

But Juyeon was too lost in the absurd situation Jaehyun seemed to be facing.

 

“Let me in!!”

 

“Wait, wait,” he laughed so hard and whipped his phone out fast, “I am not going to miss documenting this~ Jaehyun fuck~”

 

“Are you done? Are you done? Juyeon let me in!! I’m freezing!!”

 

“You can’t be freezing in that costume-“

 

“I have nothing underneath it!!”

 

That really brought a stop to Juyeon’s laugh, “What-“ as it turned into wide eyed whisper, “What kind of a sick fuck are you-“

 

“I’ll explain!! Just- I’m almost naked and my balls are numb-“

 

“I don't need to know that!!”

 

“And my nubs-“

 

“Shut up!!”

 

“I’m not stopping until you open the fucking door-“

 

“Fuck-“ hastily opening his car door, Juyeon grumbled loudly when Jaehyun’s huge duck costume slapping him here and there as Jaehyun struggled to get in, “Watch it-“

 

Juyeon’s spine went frigid when his eyes finally landed on the huge front pocket Jaehyun’s costume had, where a duckling head suddenly peeked from it.

 

“Jaehyun?”

 

“What?” Jaehyun hissed still struggling to sit -closing the car door after so much effort.

 

“Is that a duckling? Why do you have a duckling? Wait, where did you get a duckling?” Juyeon pointed his fingers at Jaehyun’s costume pocket that housed what seemed like dozens of duckling- what was happening?!!

 

“It’s a very long story. Now drive.”

 

Ignoring Juyeon’s yelp of help when one of the ducklings about to get out from Jaehyun’s pocket, Juyeon watched mortified at Jaehyun who started counting the ducklings head.

 

“Eighteen-“

 

“Eighteen?!!”

 

“Juyeon shut up you’re so loud. Don't scare the babies-“

 

I’m scared!!”

 

“Grow up-“ but Jaehyun halted, body twisting a little, right arm disappearing inside his costume to pull out another duckling.

 

Juyeon croaked hoarsely, “Another one? Really? Jaehyun we already have eighteen of them!!”

 

“Oh no, I’m bleeding.”

 

“What?!! What?!!” Juyeon spluttered and almost screamed when he saw stain of blood on Jaehyun’s costume, “Jaehyun tell me what’s going on!!”

 

“I will. Just drive to the office-“

 

“Fuck I’m not driving you to the office,” Juyeon started his car while gritting his teeth, “Hospital.”

 

“Yeah that might be a good idea,” and Jaehyun winced while Juyeon whimpered in terror.

 

But then as if it was nothing, Jaehyun begun typing away frantically on his phone, murmuring Changmin’s name.

 

Juyeon looked back and forth between Jaehyun and the road and the blood and the ducklings, “Will you please, please let me know what happen?!!”

 

“Today’s shoot-“

 

“Gucci x Disney-“

 

“Yes, well, I pitched an idea last week to bring some ducklings for the shoot-“

 

“How many did you bring?”

 

“Does that matter?”

 

“How many?” Juyeon pestered.

 

“Four dozen-“

 

“Damn it Jaehyun!!”

 

“Younghoon agreed!! He gave me an okay!!”

 

“Just-“ sucking a sharp breath, Juyeon sped up when he recalled that Jaehyun was bleeding, “What happened?”

 

“Everything was fine until Jacob and Kevin came in to see the shoot.”

 

Juyeon gulped in horror, could only imagine-

 

“And then we heard screaming from outside the studio, and Kevin was yapping telling Chanhee to tell whoever it was to keep it down because it was so unprofessional. So Chanhee got out right,” Jaehyun sighed heavily, “And Jacob somehow thought he can control the ducklings to pose. Like, what kind of mind fuckery-“

 

Indeed. Juyeon’s legs were shaking impatiently as he queued for the nearest hospital entrance.

 

“But then some of the ducklings actually did what Jacob instructed and believe me it was scary as hell to watch-“ Jaehyun frowned.

 

Juyeon too, frowned at the bizarre information.

 

“Jacob got so smug and Kevin went -I think, you know ‘Hey this is my shoot. Get lost,’ and then Jacob was like ‘You’re just jealous because I’m more competent than you are in handling your ducklings.’-“

 

“Oh come on-“

 

“Tell me about it,” Jaehyun groaned, “There,” and pointed toward an empty parking spot before continuing, “And then Kevin said that it was the only thing Jacob could handle because he always fails in handling daddy’s expectations-“

 

“Fucking hell!!”

 

“I know,” Jaehyun’s phone vibrated -startling some of the ducklings as Jaehyun apologized to them sweetly, “Changmin yes. Please wait for me in the lobby.”

 

“Changmin?”

 

“Yes. I texted him to pick up the ducklings here,” Jaehyun got out of the car and Juyeon did the same, fast on running toward Jaehyun’s side of the door to help him.

 

“Right, good thinking, good thinking,” Juyeon gulped as his eyes drawn back to the blood stain on Jaehyun’s bright yellow duck costume.

 

And when they got inside the hospital -in which Juyeon tried his best to pull his cap down so low because fuck people were staring, Changmin and Haknyeon were already waiting for them with a holed box.

 

“Hey,” Jaehyun greeted in a red face.

 

God. Poor lad. He must be embarrassed.

 

“How the office?”

 

“You don't want to know,” Changmin huffed, “Just get treated, and we’ll fill you in later.”

 

Juyeon let Jaehyun talk with Changmin before turning toward Haknyeon, “Was it bad-“

 

“Really, really bad,” Haknyeon ran a palm through his face.

 

“Right. Okay.”

 

“If I were you, I wouldn't come to the office today.”

 

“Why?” Juyeon asked warily.

 

“The ducklings were having a pooping festival as we speak-“

 

“Fuck!!”

 

“Thanks Changmin,” Jaehyun’s voice cut Juyeon’s extremely unpleasant thoughts.

 

Juyeon turned and found all the ducklings in Jaehyun’s pocket had been transferred to the box Changmin was holding.

 

“Go home after this Jaehyun. Please,” Changmin insisted, “Jacob and Kevin already called the deep cleaning vendor for everything. I heard from Youngjae they were planning a whole floor disinfection also.”

 

“I get it. Thank you. Thank you really. We’ll talk tomorrow,” patting Changmin’s shoulder, Jaehyun’s own sagged as soon as Haknyeon and Changmin left.

 

God. Poor lad.

 

So Juyeon dragged Jaehyun to a nearest bench and sat him down, registering Jaehyun in the reception before quietly entering the gift shop corner to buy Jaehyun pairs of clothing.

 

When he got back, Jaehyun still had his head on his hands and Juyeon kneeled in front of him, “Hey.”

 

“What?” Jaehyun’s sigh sounded weak.

 

“I know how much you love your duck costume, but please change,” he handed the gift shop bag as Jaehyun glanced up in teary eyes.

 

“Do you think Kevin will fire me?”

 

“Nah,” Juyeon waved his hand away, “You’re his ‘my Jaehyun’.”

 

Jaehyun let out a defeated chuckle, “Thanks for this,” getting up to walk toward the bathroom.

 

And Juyeon snorted when Jaehyun got out with the change of clothes Juyeon bought for him with his forehead scrunched tightly.

 

“Tell me you love it,” Juyeon let his body laughed for him rather than his mouth.

 

“I want to curse but you bought me this. So thank you I guess,” whining in bright oversized yellow Tweety sweater and white pants, Jaehyun sulked as he sat down in the patient waiting area -slamming the duck costume beside his seat.

 

“You said you love Tweety!!” Juyeon threw his hands up in an empty protest, because despite how blinding the yellow oversized sweater was, Jaehyun still looked good on them.

 

Jaehyun just mumbled but Juyeon heard the ‘well Tweety is cute’ that came out under Jaehyun’s breath.

 

“Thank you again Juyeon,” Jaehyun said petulantly, feet tangling as if he was fighting humiliation.

 

So Juyeon gave Jaehyun’s back an assuring rub, “You’re welcome. Anyway, you never tell me why would you be in this costume.”

 

"I bought the costume-“

 

“You bought it?!!”

 

“Yes-“

 

“Jaehyun there is this thing called renting-“

 

“It’s dirty with other people’s dead skin!! How ludicrous!!”

 

Juyeon slammed his eyes shut for a second, “Fine. And?”

 

“Like I said before you rudely interrupted, I bought it because I want to be their hen. And-“

 

Juyeon for the life of him, couldn't stop interrupting Jaehyun’s spew of nonsense, “Why not their drake?”

 

“Drake?” Jaehyun brows furrowed as he made a face, “Like, that Drake, you used to call me on my cell phone, Drake?”

 

“No~” Juyeon laughed so hard his shoulder shook with mirth, “Jaehyun, drake is an adult male duck.”

 

“Oh. I don't want to know why you have so many knowledge about ducks,” Jaehyun frowned, inching away from him slowly.

 

Ridiculous -Juyeon grinned to himself, inching closer to close the gap Jaehyun just made -heart confusingly fluttered noticing the way Jaehyun’s chest went up a little in a surprise at his move, “So, what happened?” he asked with a tilt of head, with amused stretch of lips.

 

“Well I bought it in case the ducklings went berserk. If they see their hen, which was supposed to be me, they might calm down a bit.”

 

“Did you wear the costume since morning then?”

 

“No,” Jaehyun scowled, “I said, if they went berserk, I would wear it.”

 

“So when the ducklings went rampant from Kevin’s and Jacob’s verbal and physical fight-“

 

“I got inside the costume,” Jaehyun finished with a sigh -frame twisting slightly like he got a little uncomfortable with their closeness, eyes moving around and Juyeon thought maybe Jaehyun was holding his breath.

 

“But,” Juyeon enjoyed this too much, “Why do you feel the need to take off your clothes before getting into the costume?”

 

Jaehyun murmured in agitation.

 

“What? I didn't hear you-“

 

“I said I don't fit!!”

 

“In the costume?”

 

“Yes!!” Jaehyun’s cheeks flamed and he looked a little sad, “Either I ordered the wrong size or I’m just getting fatter!!”

 

Juyeon blinked at Jaehyun’s distress, “Hey, Jaehyun look at me.”

 

“What?”

 

“You’re fine.”

 

“Shut up.”

 

“I’m serious!!”

 

But Jaehyun crossed his arms -fighting the trembling of his bottom lip.

 

God. Poor lad. So Juyeon carded his fingers through Jaehyun’s hair softly -smiling as an offer of comfort when Jaehyun looked back at him with widening and wavering eyes, lips parting in surprise.

 

“Trust me,” Juyeon patted Jaehyun’s head delicately before getting up when Jaehyun’s name was being called by the nurse, “You’re lovely.”

 

 

***

 

 

“They said you can go home.”

 

“I’m not leaving.”

 

“The doctor just said that it was nothing-“

 

“Well it’s my body and not the doctor’s body now, isn’t it Juyeon? Who do you think you should be believing?”

 

“…the doctor.”

 

“You think you know what pain is-“

 

“I’ll give you ten more minutes to play with the bed settings before yanking you forcefully or not, back to your place.”

 

“Fifteen minutes.”

 

“Ten.”

 

“Fourteen and a half.”

 

“Ten.”

 

“Fine.”

 

 

***

 

 

“I-“ Jaehyun screwed his eyes shut as he pushed his working chair down with his weight -reminding himself to go home no matter how late it would be, “It’s fine Chanhee.”

 

Chanhee gave him a look, “I can accompany you until you’re done.”

 

And Jaehyun actually smiled at that as he got up and collected his laptop and reports, because his spread deadlines that had been waiting for him in the meeting room white board wouldn't finish itself, “Thank you. Go home.”

 

“But- do you know the ghost story-“

 

This time around, Jaehyun threw Chanhee a look, “You’re really going with that?”

 

“Okay fine.”

 

Chanhee strutted out and Jaehyun watched him leave after turning off his desktop.

 

The general lighting had long been turned off and replaced only by ambiance lighting. Jaehyun’s eyes roamed along the empty office floor and had to give credit to Jacob and Kevin from hiring such an amazing interior designer to do the job right.

 

He wanted to go home. Exhaustion had been gnawing on his spine and Jaehyun knew Sangyeon was still inside his office -seemingly working late also. Colliding with Sangyeon was the one thing he hated most right now, and the thought made his stomach lurched.

 

Jaehyun was witless like that. Veins always strained in agony singing out Jaehyun’s heartaches every time his head decided to remind Jaehyun, that the winsome and endearing relationship he had with Sangyeon since their university years, vanished in a blink of an eye.

 

But Jaehyun had loved him with everything he got. There were happily ever after in his and Sangyeon’s liaison. It came to an abrupt end instead. And endings were always the saddest part of everything.

 

There was a promise Jaehyun made to himself in which to seek closure. Yet Jaehyun didn't let himself do so because he didn't want to taste more shame and unfulfilled greed.

 

Jaehyun’s eyes blinked softly as he turned toward his huge cabinet. Opening its door, Jaehyun took down the piling papers and small boxes at the front, before pulling out the gift box he had planned to give to Sangyeon before everything went downhill.

 

His chest was squeezing.

 

Jaehyun felt so lonely. And Jaehyun hated how his lonely always seek out for Sangyeon only.

 

So now or never, Jaehyun fisted his palm. His closure would be reached by the time Jaehyun finished ruining the parka he had bought for Sangyeon. Jaehyun would use the fabric scissor Changmin left in his desk months ago, and tore the parka apart.

 

He didn't have a choice but to move on, and the realization brought flicker of anger at the pit of his stomach. Jaehyun threw the huge box carelessly on top of his desk, and searched for Changmin’s scissor.

 

Because Jaehyun had to move on. He had no choice over it. Sangyeon didn't give him it, and it made Jaehyun angry.

 

Sangyeon would never give Jaehyun a chance to not move on. Because Jaehyun would. He would rather not move on whether Sangyeon gave him his permission or not. Moving on meant admitting that Sangyeon would be out of the pictures Jaehyun painted mannerly. Years and years in the making and when Jaehyun decided that it was done -wanting nothing but to put it up for Sangyeon to see, it was brutally denied of being acknowledged.

 

And the pressed frustration, blinding exasperation, riled Jaehyun enough to force himself to finally do his needed closure.

 

Jaehyun was wronged, so it would be easier for him to move on.

 

He opened the box’s lid with trembling fingers.

 

Jaehyun was victimised, so it would be easier for him to move on.

 

He clenched the parka hard within his palms.

 

Jaehyun convinced himself that Younghoon stripped Jaehyun off of his chance with Sangyeon, so it would be easier for him to move on.

 

Because it was too cruel if Jaehyun had to see the truth. That Sangyeon never loved him like how Jaehyun always loved him.

 

He reached Changmin’s scissors in such a frail grips, chest heaving from heartbreak -eyes burning with unspoken tragedy.

 

Jaehyun was resentful, so he took the parka out of its box harshly -scissor opening and pointing right in the middle part of the crumpled parka when Jaehyun saw.

 

There was nothing.

 

Jaehyun saw nothing.

 

His heart started banging -ear splittingly loud it filled Jaehyun’s head with fear.

 

The card he had written was not inside the box.

 

The letter of an ode he created about his wishes to romance Sangyeon was nowhere to be found.

 

Jaehyun’s frame quivered in horrendous anxiety as he put the scissor down and carefully inspected the box, and its lids, and the parka, and everything in between, and-

 

Juyeon.

 

Jaehyun had to call Juyeon.

 

Because Juyeon would know the whereabout of his card. Because Juyeon received them first from Chanhee’s innocent mistake.

 

So he did. So despite his forthcoming spiralling suffering, Jaehyun pressed call on Juyeon’s contact and waited with bated breath-

 

“Jaehyun?”

 

“Juyeon tell me-“ and Jaehyun trembled wild so alone in his trial.

 

“Hey are you alright?”

 

“Please tell me-“

 

“Where are you?”

 

“Where is the card? Juyeon answer me-“

 

“What card- Jaehyun where are you? Is everything okay-“

 

“Where is the card?!!” Jaehyun screamed his calamity, “Please tell me you have it Juyeon please,” he sobbed out, “Please-“

 

But Juyeon took a second too long before his tone changed into trained composure.

 

“Tell me where you are.”

 

“I said-” but Jaehyun just wanted an answer.

 

“Tell me.”

 

“In the office-“

 

“Tell me what card are you talking about.”

 

“The card-“ Jaehyun’s words then turned into whimpers as he crouched down because his feet were failing him, “The letter I wrote for Sangyeon-” his wails sounded pathetic even in his ears, “The one inside the parka box- Juyeon please tell me you have it. Please.“

 

“I put it back inside the box.”

 

The reality took Jaehyun’s heart within its unforgiving palm and wrenched them apart.

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

Jaehyun’s cheeks turned wet as he pressed the end call button. His eyes screwed tight along with the painful stabbing his heart was being tormented with. The merciless gospel got Jaehyun’s right hand grappling the edge of his desk until his knuckles turned white. The unkind truth got Jaehyun’s left hand clutching his chest tight, wanting the pain to stop.

 

Sangyeon subduedly told him to move on.

 

So Jaehyun let his phone vibrated with Juyeon’s name on it -getting himself up, wiping his grief away with determination of confrontation.

 

The hesitated tiny smile on Sangyeon’s face when he saw Jaehyun entering his office was fast on fading.

 

Sangyeon must have seen the clear exhausting frustration running along Jaehyun’s clenched of jaw.

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

“You win.”

 

And Sangyeon put down whatever it was he was doing as he got up and walked closer. But Jaehyun trepidation drove him to take a step back. It made Sangyeon stopped in his tracks.

 

All of his flaming anger dissipated as soon as Jaehyun looked at Sangyeon in the eyes. They were replaced with remorse instead. Jaehyun had been consumed with wasted yearning, and he had mourns left instead.

 

“What did you think would happen,” Jaehyun winced his whimpers, “When I finally found out that you already took and read my letter?”

 

Sangyeon didn't speak but Jaehyun saw sadness emanating loud from the man he foolishly loved too much.

 

“You lied to me,” he didn't think there was a point of beating around the bush anymore, “When you told me that you didn't touch the parka, that I bought for you,” Jaehyun’s throat felt tight but he didn't mind, as long as he didn't cry in front of Sangyeon, “You lied to me, when you pretended that you were buying the bullshit I told you, about how it was a gift for Juyeon instead.”

 

“Have you been lying too in all of the years I’ve known you?” the mere idea of it sent shivers down Jaehyun’s spine, “Have you always known the feelings I have for you, and decided-“ Jaehyun forgot how to breathe, “And decided to dismiss it for good?”

 

Jaehyun couldn't remember ways to fill his lungs with air.

 

Sangyeon was polite and delicate in his resolve to clear things up, “No I didn't.”

 

“You didn't what?” Jaehyun’s clenched his fists, “You didn't lie?”

 

“I didn't know about your feelings until I read your letter.”

 

“Is it another lie?”

 

“No. It’s not.”

 

“Of course,” Jaehyun bit the inside of his bottom lip bitterly, “How would you even realize when I never really crossed your mind. It’s absolutely rash of me to think that you would want to spare a thought for me, when you already have Younghoon by your side.”

 

Slamming his eyes shut, Jaehyun pushed away the poor screams his heart did about how it still believed he and Sangyeon were always meant to be.

 

“Why did you lie to me?” because Jaehyun wanted to hear it, “Did you plan to do it all the way then? Ignoring my feelings even though you knew?”

 

“I-“ maybe for Sangyeon it wasn’t-

 

“You think it was not necessary?” so Jaehyun poured his thought out loud for Sangyeon to hear -having enough of being silenced for years long now, “I’m not important enough for you-“ his nose was getting warm now, “You don't think I matter enough to hear anything from you?”

 

“No-“

 

“And don't say you don't want to hurt me because you do,” ah, Jaehyun’s words came out in a piercing sob now.

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

“It’s like you let me suffer alone,” his chest stuttered, “You let me see the torture of being discarded because you don't want to give my feelings a chance to come and see the light. There was never a light waiting for them because you want nothing to do with it.”

 

“You leave me all by myself to foresee our parting of ways where the answer for my feelings didn't come from you but from my own verdict, because you never care enough to even let me down kindly in the first place,” Jaehyun mourned over his misfortune, “You’re a coward.”

 

“I am.”

 

Sangyeon’s answer brought a dull thud to his spinning head, “When you apologized to me, when you said you were sorry that night, for failing to notice that I’ve been hurting,” Jaehyun recalled the night of the conversation he had with Sangyeon inside Haut Monde’s closet, “You said you were sorry because you had overlooked my aches because you assumed that everything was alright, when you said- when you told me that,” Jaehyun choked out a painful sob, “You weren’t talking about my fall out with Younghoon.”

 

“No.”

 

“It was meant for my feelings for you instead.”

 

Sangyeon’s lips parted in a silent inhale of breath, “Yes.”

 

“You apologized because you can’t return my feelings-”

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

“But you’re too terrified to clear the misunderstanding, because it meant you have to acknowledge my feelings.”

 

His heart was aching. It was too painful Jaehyun ducked his head down to grieve over it.

 

“I didn't know that you would hate the existence of my feelings so much-“

 

“Don’t think like that-“

 

“Then how am I supposed to think?!!” Jaehyun screamed -surrendering when his tears wouldn't stop rolling, “It’s clear to both of us that you don't want it!! It’s obvious that you choose to avoid it for as long as you can!! Then how am I supposed to think if not that you, are repulsed by the thought of it?” his words rang loud in his ears and Jaehyun believed it.

 

Sangyeon had looked like he was hurt by Jaehyun’s words, “I would never Jaehyun.”

 

“So you’re sticking with your lousy of an excuse, that you don't want to hurt me?” his bitter chuckles made his knees quivered but Jaehyun wouldn't lose to them.

 

“You don't have to believe me,” Sangyeon was not allowed to look like he was too, burning in woes like Jaehyun, “But that’s my only truth.”

 

“You don't even like me.”

 

“That’s not true.”

 

“Why don't you like me?” his longing was blistering.

 

“You know that’s not true,” but why would Sangyeon look like he was bracing himself to whatever Jaehyun about to throw his way? Like he was equally wounded, like he was really sorry to Jaehyun, and that he would do anything for Jaehyun even if it would hurt Sangyeon too.

 

Jaehyun whimpered and it felt pitiful even to himself, “Have you ever had your heart raced that it created dull aches because you missed me?”

 

Jaehyun was too afraid to wait for an answer so he kept going, wanting to believe that there must be something for him that Sangyeon could offer, even if it was little, even if it was in the past and maybe had long been forgotten.

 

“Have you ever been in pain? The kind where it tears you apart but you don't want it to end because of me? For me?”

 

Jaehyun had long stuttering between his violent sorrowful whispers, “Do you ever feel like our friendship has been caught on fire for how much you want me?”

 

And Jaehyun wanted an answer despite everything, “Sangyeon do you love me?” no matter how much it would shatter his already breaking heart, “Like I love you,” he whimpered as his head fell -eyes scrunching wincing from the pain, “Do you love me?”

 

Sangyeon’s silence was too much of an answer.

 

But still, Jaehyun had to give it to Sangyeon for showing up as the honourable man that he was.

 

“No,” as the kind-hearted man that he was, “I’m sorry.”

 

 

***

 

 

“Did you hear it?”

 

“I did.”

 

“How much?”

 

“Enough.”

 

“Do you think lowly of me?”

 

“Never.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“It’s not my place to judge.”

 

“Was I pitiful?”

 

“No.”

 

“Don’t lie.”

 

“I wouldn't dare.”

 

“How come?”

 

“Loving someone with everything you have is never meant to be pitiful.”

 

“I didn't know. How is it supposed to mean?”

 

“It shall only be seen as bravery.”

 

“Not silly?”

 

“No.”

 

“Do you think I’m brave then?”

 

“Very.”

 

“If I was brave like you said I was, why am I cowering still from my despair?”

 

“The brave doesn't mean the ones who does not have fears.”

 

“How come it’s not?”

 

“Because the brave means the ones who are willing to face their fears.”

 

“Do you see yourself as the brave?”

 

“I do.”

 

“Would you consider me as the brave?”

 

“I do consider you one.”

 

“Even when I’m bruised?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Even when I have no strength left to keep on?”

 

“Even so.”

 

“Even when I think poorly of myself, ashamed of what I couldn't have?”

 

“Why would you be ashamed?”

 

“There is really no place if it’s not the first place no?”

 

“Let us disagree then.”

 

“Don’t you think the same as I do?”

 

“I don't.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because I never numbered my place.”

 

“I think that’s wise.”

 

“And despite how you feel, I still think of you as the brave.”

 

“You do?”

 

“Yes. Although I prefer you not to feel or think poorly of yourself.”

 

“But I feel so worn out. My scars couldn't be patched.”

 

“Here,” so Juyeon said by putting his palms up near where Jaehyun’s hands were resting inside Juyeon’s car in the passenger seat, “Take my hand.”

 

When Jaehyun exited Sangyeon’s office and walked briskly to his, he wouldn't imagine seeing Juyeon sitting inside it on one of his sofa.

 

Jaehyun wouldn't imagine his belongings were neatly tucked already inside his briefcase that Juyeon kept on top of his lap. He wouldn't imagine Juyeon getting up and walked him toward the elevator by putting his arm gently on his back, and guided him toward Juyeon’s car.

 

He wouldn't imagine Juyeon driving him home, waiting patiently until Jaehyun’s breath was even, waiting patiently for Jaehyun to just do anything he wanted -either getting out, or talked like they did now after arriving at Jaehyun’s apartment complex.

 

Then Jaehyun glanced at Juyeon’s benign palm -ready to give Jaehyun the much solace he needed.

 

“Everything is going to be alright,” Juyeon said, “Just hold onto me, and I promise I’ll keep you save Jaehyun.”

 

And Jaehyun wanted to believe him.

 

So Jaehyun did.

 

 

***

 

 

Haknyeon sighed as he looked around the year-end party the office was having right now, “This is early November.”

 

Chanhee nursed his drink within his dainty fingers and clicked his tongue -resting his chin on top of Haknyeon’s shoulder from behind, “I heard Kevin and Jacob will be leaving mid-December to Edinburgh because their family will be spending their New Year’s eve there.”

 

“Mid-December!!” Haknyeon protested “We can have the year-end party two days before they leave!!”

 

Youngjae grumbled despite already finishing almost a whole pie from the unreasonably pricey yet impossibly tasty catering Kevin hired, “I’m not counting this as our office’s year-end party.”

 

“Say that to the banner,” snorting loudly, Sunwoo eyed the said banner in a sigh.

 

 

In Celebration of Another Year Spent in Posh Progress

Gentlefolk and Haut Monde’s Year-End Party

 

 

“Fantastic!! Fantastic!!” Jacob’s excitement reverberated through the floor. The kids watched with shakes of head on how Jacob was busy hyping up the way too early year-end party to no avail.

 

“So Hak,” Changmin cleared his throat -a dimple appeared on his cheek when his lips stretched in a calculated smirk, “Do you want to come with me to one of my cousin’s wedding?”

 

Youngjae whistled loudly while Chanhee snickered -peeling himself away from Haknyeon and sliding closer to Sunwoo who gave him a shy grin, mouthing a small hi.

 

“What?” Haknyeon was all stammers and stumbles, “Really? Really?”

 

“I mean,” Changmin sighed like he was in an absolute distress, “Not like a date.”

 

Sunwoo spat out an incredulous laugh, “It’s not?” sarcastically narrowing his eyes.

 

“It’s not,” but Changmin leaned closer and swiped his right hand along Haknyeon’s shoulder -enjoying the immediate shiver it created, “I just want to avoid the whole ‘Are you seeing someone? You should find yourself someone’ conversations.”

 

Haknyeon never talked so fast in his life, “God Changmin I’ve read enough fanfictions to know that this will only end up with us declaring our undying love towards each other.”

 

“What?” distaste was clear with the way Chanhee pulled his head back -repulsion etched on his face.

 

“You read fanfictions?” but Youngjae had another question.

 

“Who doesn't?” Sunwoo shrugged casually and it made Youngjae whipped his head toward him so fast.

 

But Changmin and Haknyeon were too lost in their own staring contest.

 

“Youngjae,” Chanhee warned, “Put down the pie knife.”

 

“I’m just trying to cut the sexual tension between them,” Youngjae hissed, “The least these idiots can do is doing it behind the window blankets!!”

 

 Chanhee gaped, “Did you- did you just call curtains a window blankets?”

 

“Back off,” suddenly showing up behind Youngjae and circled his arms around his shoulder, Juyeon scolded Chanhee with furrow of brows, “He’s cute for saying that.”

 

“As much as I love being dotted by you,” Youngjae sighed, “Juyeon I advised you to take your arms away from me. I don't want you to get hurt.”

 

Juyeon froze and was quick on letting Youngjae go. His head turning wildly around the area as he noticed the other was doing the same thing in terror, “Youngjae you should really know that it is not okay, to bring strangers inside our office and let them hide wherever they’re hiding.”

 

“He’s not some stranger-“

 

“Your sugar daddy and his possibly wanted criminals of bodyguards is really here??!!” Haknyeon hissed suddenly feeling guarded.

 

“He’s not a sugar daddy!!”

 

“Fuck Youngjae what if he and his- his what? Men? Bodyguards? Whatever they are!!” hissing through gritted teeth, Chanhee tried to make himself small from behind Sunwoo, “Bring guns here, and just- how the fuck are they always here but none of us never noticed?!!”

 

“He’s not always here-“

 

Sunwoo’s bottom lip trembled, “I hope you get fired so we can also get rid your mafia of a sugar daddy.”

 

“He’s not a mafia-“

 

“That’s not very nice Sunwoo!!” even though a tiny part of him had wished the same, but Juyeon still didn't think it was an amiable thing to say.

 

But Sunwoo glared at him to make a point, “You know what’s not nice Juyeon? Your boyfriend being drunk right in the corner, grinding on Kevin’s precious vintage juke box.”

 

“Ew,” Changmin frowned, “Are you guys not sexually active anymore in your relationship-“

 

Juyeon didn't even have a retort because Changmin was right about the ew.

 

Ew.

 

The horror made Juyeon’s lips parted when suddenly one of Chanhee’s subordinate walked toward them in distress.

 

“Chanhee have you seen Sangyeon?”

 

“Sangyeon?” forehead creasing, Chanhee looked around and shook his head, “Not really. Why?”

 

“Jaehyun has been harassing me nonstop saying I should bring Sangyeon to him? He insisted that he and Sangyeon have to dance to the song from their disco date or something,” the poor subordinate grumbled loudly, “Why can’t he find Sangyeon himself?”

 

Oh no.

 

Juyeon’s heart picked up its pace because this was dangerous.

 

Because drunk Jaehyun was no filter whatsoever Jaehyun. There was a reason why Jaehyun rarely got himself drunk in a company gathering.

 

One time, Jaehyun had gotten so drunk he bit Jacob’s nose saying that he had been thinking about eating it up since he first saw Jacob for how cute it always looked. Jacob spent five days and four nights in the hospital. From the shock. Not the pain.

 

Youngjae gave him a weird look and Juyeon cleared his throat before patting Chanhee’s subordinate’s shoulder, “I’ll take care of him.”

 

Juyeon walked briskly amongst the crowd before he could practically hear Jaehyun’s drunken loud mumbles.

 

“Where is Sangyeon? Why is he not here?!”

 

And his eyes caught some of Haknyeon’s team near where Jaehyun was, throwing a confused look toward Jaehyun.

 

Fuck. Juyeon’s steps got larger.

 

Jaehyun’s chest went up about to holler, but thankfully Juyeon’s limbs were long enough to stop him from doing so by slamming his palm to cover Jaehyun’s lips.

 

The muffled sound indicated that Juyeon was successful on saving Jaehyun’s ass because when he finally stood right beside Jaehyun, he could make out some of Jaehyun’s words about how Sangyeon was the love of his life and he had to dance with Sangyeon before ending the night with a kiss.

 

He screeched indignantly when he felt Jaehyun’s spit smearing his palm, “Fuck Jaehyun!!”

 

“Juyeon hey~” Jaehyun’s slurred along with his swaying frame, “Hey Juyeon~ hey~”

 

“Oh God,” Juyeon confiscated Jaehyun’s glass of wine and put it on the nearest catering table, “Jaehyun are you of your mind?”

 

“What do you mean~” Jaehyun giggled excitedly and buried his face on Juyeon’s chest.

 

There was a second where Juyeon thought his heart stopped beating for a bit, before it dropped in appal when Jaehyun kept the top part of his head on Juyeon’s chest, and had his whole body jutted back to dance using his ass to emphasize his exaggerated movements.

 

“Yeah~ dance~ dance~ keep on~”

 

And the only thing Juyeon could do was screw his eyes shut whenever passing staffs gave them a frightened look.

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

“I hope everyone is enjoying the party!!” Kevin’s loud cheer through the microphone actually brought cheers from almost everyone.

 

Despite the year-end party being held in early November, but Juyeon knew no one really hates the parties Jacob and Kevin kept having in the office. The food was fantastic, the drinks were expensive, and the décor was incredible.

 

“Oh yeah!!” Jaehyun’s answer -regardless of being microphone-less, rang between throngs of people’s chatters.

 

It brought stares starting from amused to horrified.

 

“That’s the spirit!!” but of course. Jaehyun was Kevin’s favourite, so he looked thrilled at Jaehyun’s massive drunken support, “I want to introduce you all to our DJ for the night!!”

 

“I invited him!!” Jacob interrupted from the side trying to snatch Kevin’s microphone.

 

“Whatever Jacob!!”

 

“Okay, no, enough,” but Sangyeon was really quick on jumping between the two brothers. Juyeon could only guess Sangyeon had kept watch from the side all this time. Good thinking.

 

“Oh!! It’s Sangyeon-“

 

Juyeon really had to pat himself on the back from the amazing job he did on silencing Jaehyun before the latter embarrassed himself.

 

“Everyone!! Please welcome!!” Kevin’s scream with delight, “Oliver Brown!!”

 

Gasps of surprise filled the whole floor and Juyeon’s jaw dropped as he saw the hottest DJ for the past year got up with a chic wave into the DJ station.

 

“Fuck me,” he whispered under his breath -starstruck.

 

Oliver Brown had a smirk on his lips as he started with a pre-intro on his mixers. Everyone was running toward the stage to take a closer look -gushing as phones started coming out to take pictures and videos.

 

Juyeon blinked fast when his body was suddenly being thrown to the side. Jaehyun was running too with everyone and Juyeon almost screamed. More when he saw Jaehyun tried his best to climb the stage.

 

“Damn it!! Jaehyun!!”

 

Fortunately Sunwoo and Haknyeon was successful on barricading the stage from Jaehyun’s crash.

 

Unfortunately Jaehyun had managed to grab the microphone Kevin had used earlier to scream, “Play Cha-Cha Slide!! Long live Cha-Cha Slide!!”

 

The staffs were grimacing in disbelief gasps at Jaehyun’s particularly sharp tone.

 

“Jaehyun-“ Sunwoo’s gagged went through the microphone.

 

Jaehyun yowled louder, “Give me my Cha-Cha Slide you fucker!!”  

 

Oliver Brown’s amused laugh sounded rich as he gave Jaehyun an acknowledging nod despite the chaos happening in front of him, “Not my usual go to, but okay lad.”

 

Bless Oliver Brown and his wonderful soul as he then continued, “Let’s go vintage!!”

 

As soon as the opening tune started blaring, Jaehyun proceeded to pass out.

 

Fuck.

 

 

***

 

 

“Cha-Cha Slide-,” Jaehyun murmured.

 

It took a lot of effort to drag a passed out Jaehyun to his office. Juyeon rolled his eyes in annoyance while massaging his sore arms. He sat beside Jaehyun’s lolling head that was resting on one of Juyeon’s sofa.

 

“Shut up Jaehyun.”

 

“Why are they not playing my jam-“ for someone who was drunk out of his mind, Jaehyun spoke very eloquently about his ridiculous demand.

 

Juyeon ran fingers through his hair, “They did. To be exact, Oliver Brown did.”

 

“Cha-Cha Slide is mine and Sangyeon’s-“ mumbling still, Jaehyun slid forward until his head touched Juyeon’s thigh, “Is not fair.”

 

“They played it for you. You passed out on your own accord. What’s not fair?” yet no matter how annoying Jaehyun was acting, Juyeon found his voice dropping lower as he talked -afraid he would startle Jaehyun out of his stupor.

 

“I haven’t had my dance yet with Sangyeon- hic-“ the hiccup pressed Jaehyun’s head closer to Juyeon’s thigh.

 

And Juyeon realized now, everything he did for Jaehyun for this past months, had always been on pure instincts.

 

Like now, like how Juyeon pushed himself against his sofa more, so he could carefully took Jaehyun’s head before placing it on top of his lap.

 

Like now, like how Juyeon then picked a tissue box from the bedside table, and gently wiped Jaehyun’s exposed forehead -making sure Jaehyun wouldn't catch a cold from his drying sweats.

 

Like then, like when Juyeon rushed and drove himself back to the office even when he almost arrived at his apartment complex, after hearing Jaehyun’s frantic and distraught call asking about the card he had written for Sangyeon. Juyeon was-

 

“Is not fair.”

 

“What’s not fair?” so Juyeon asked underneath the quietude of his office, watching Jaehyun’s sleepy eyes drowning in a trance like Jaehyun was hurting and Juyeon felt lurches happening in his chest at the thought of Jaehyun suffering.

 

“Is very cruel.”

 

Then Juyeon without much thought, took Jaehyun’s fingers and tangled it with his own, stroking it gently hoping it would ease Jaehyun’s aches.

 

“What is?”

 

“Why can’t he like me?” Jaehyun sounded so worn out -frame jolting softly when another hiccup left his lips.

 

It made Juyeon wondered -head hung low.

 

Jaehyun felt new.

 

The old wires of feelings Juyeon always had for Jaehyun inside his brain, was nowhere to be found. Juyeon couldn't quite recall when did it happen or where it went. But Juyeon didn't remember anymore.

 

He asked himself questions like how it was before, when he and Jaehyun seemed to always look at each other in disdain. Maybe if he tried hard enough he could call it to mind.

 

Ah, Juyeon bit the corner of his bottom lip when small shivers ran up his shrinking shoulder because, Juyeon didn't want to. He didn't want to try hard enough, and he just wanted this new feelings he got from being with Jaehyun to keep going.

 

Jaehyun was humming a love song so sweet it won four Grammys last year, on Juyeon’s lap. Looking comfortable, like he belonged.

 

“Juyeon?”

 

His acknowledgement was barely above a whisper but Jaehyun heard him anyway as he continued.

 

“I’m not fine.”

 

“It’s perfectly alright.”

 

“I hate pretending and saying that I am.”

 

“Who are you lying to?”

 

“Myself.”

 

“You don’t have to.”

 

Jaehyun though with a huge amount of effort, got up on all fours as he glanced up at Juyeon -peeling their connecting fingers away from each other’s grasp.

 

“Do you remember?”

 

The question Jaehyun threw him brought a churn to his twisting stomach. Juyeon wasn't thinking out loud just now. Jaehyun couldn't possibly know what he had been thinking about-

 

“Sometimes?” Jaehyun continued, “Not to care about Younghoon again? Do you remember sometimes not to think about Younghoon again between your ticking days?”

 

Jaehyun’s eyes were bleary, and Juyeon wanted to say yes. He wanted Jaehyun to know that he didn’t even have to remind himself about moving on from Younghoon, because Juyeon was-

 

“It drives me really crazy sometimes, when I heard-“ Jaehyun’s eyes then scrunched tight fighting fatigue, “I heard a whisper so delicate asking me if I was sure, every time I try to stop thinking about Sangyeon. Wondering if I should move on.”

 

Jaehyun’s back sagged a little as his stare lingered on Juyeon.

 

“But I always remember, I never fail to remember-“ Jaehyun had winced in woes, “That Sangyeon doesn't want me like I want him.”

 

Shaking his head in defeat, Jaehyun’s face turned morose.

 

Jaehyun then spelled out his final decree, “It isn’t fair.”

 

It was not fair indeed. Juyeon agreed inwardly.

 

Wanting someone so much, harbouring intense attachment so much for someone who wanted nothing to do with you, was not fair.

 

You see,

 

Juyeon’s definition of Younghoon used to be words that were associated with warmth and kindness and tenderness. It had changed along with his breaking heart into anxiety and personal insecurities.

 

Juyeon’s definition of Jaehyun used to be- it used to be-

 

The words he was trying to find was getting more vague as Jaehyun was smiling an unconcentrated mournful smile before laying his head back on Juyeon’s lap once again.

 

Juyeon didn't care about retrieving the words he used to describe Jaehyun with.

 

Because Juyeon was finally ready to allow himself to admit, that he was a little more than infatuated with Jaehyun.

 

And Jaehyun was right.

 

It was not fair that Jaehyun couldn't seem to forget about Sangyeon at all, while Juyeon was here -wanting nothing but to ask Jaehyun if it seemed crazy that Juyeon wished Jaehyun would look at him rather than Sangyeon even for just one time.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

07 – Questions and(Un) Answer(ed)

 

 

 

Dear Sangyeon,

 

If this parka is not what you had said you liked, please blame Juyeon because I heard it from him last week that you had your eyes on this one.

 

I can buy you another one if you are not very fond of the one you see in this box. The parka doesn't even cost much compared to what you have done for me since the first time we met.

 

Do you remember? I wouldn't say it was the worst day I’ve ever had, but it was painfully close because I was young -wanting to fit in, afraid about whispers of consequences if I lost the sacred gold badge we were given on our first day of university.

 

Do you remember? That you came and saved me helped me by giving your gold badge instead? So yes, it was not the worst day I have had, but somehow you came like the sun and dried my pitiful tears away.

 

You are to me

 

I always think back of what you said to me every time I feel things are a little too much to bear. Could you bring the memory back to mind, when I waited in front of our university library building for the rain to stop, and you came to rescue me give me a gentle smile and said that you also didn't bring your umbrella with you? You said to me, ‘Jaehyun, I like to look at things on the bright side. Would you like to try it with me?’

 

I was so confused yet I found myself nodding in agreement without first hearing the idea you were proposing simply because the blinding blithe across your lips. And then you told me, ‘Jaehyun, we forgot to bring our umbrella, but we get to walk in the rain instead.”

 

Do you remember? You took one huge step forward and immediately got drenched before stretching your arms out for me to then take your hand if I wanted to? And I took it, and I took your hand feeling light headed from the blaring sound of the heavy rains, and from the way our arms grazed when we walked side by side, so close with each other.

 

Do you remember? When we finally arrived at my dorm because you insisted to walk me back, you had grinned sheepishly -apologizing because you said you were sorry because somehow you felt that I followed you along only for the reason that you were my senior and I must have felt some kind of obligation?

 

For you, I would do anything

 

I didn't answer back then and just shook my head hoping you would see that it wasn't like that to me.

 

I held your hand because I wanted to. I couldn't speak a word because I was nervous -terrified that I would say what I had wanted to say, which was inviting you in, for I don't want you to leave just yet. But it was too embarrassing so I stayed quiet in lieu -even though I wanted nothing but to keep you around for the rest of the night.

 

Sangyeon

 

I’ve spent too many change of seasons to come to a conclusion that reminiscing about you and I, must be a waste of time as I still find my hand hanging without company.

 

I can’t wait to attend the reunion gathering with you, praying that maybe the solitary of my hand would end as it found the companion it always long for.

 

With so much love,

 

Jaehyun, Lee

 

 

***

 

 

“Younghoon-“

 

“I feel so stupid-“

 

“Don’t-”

 

“When Jaehyun told me that I had locked him out of his happiness, that I had laid my hand on what was supposed to be his, he wasn’t talking about Juyeon. He was talking about you instead.”

 

“When did this happen-”

 

“But does it matter Sangyeon?”

 

“It doesn’t.”

 

“What doesn’t? About when the conversation happened, or about Jaehyun’s feelings for you?”

 

Sangyeon didn't think Younghoon would understand. Not now, not when Younghoon was too angry to listen. So he chose to stay silent and got his heart breaking seeing Younghoon whom he loved dearly, busy wiping his brimming lids.

 

“If I-” there was a small choked whimper at the back of Younghoon’s throat, “If I didn't find this letter that Jaehyun wrote you,” his eyes screwed shut in painful wince, “Would you tell me?”

 

“No.”

 

When Younghoon stared at him in dismay -walking away toward their bedroom without even slamming the door only locking it, Sangyeon let his chest stuttered in aches for thinking that honesty could always resolve everything.

 

 

***

 

 

Something went wrong Juyeon knew it.

 

The atmosphere between Sangyeon and Younghoon had been stifling for the past week. At first Juyeon thought it was just him reading into things too much. But then as the shoot with Wonho was nearing, it became painfully obvious that Juyeon even overheard Sunwoo asking Changmin if he saw the way Younghoon hadn’t looked at Sangyeon’s direction throughout their shared schedule studio meeting.

 

And Juyeon caught, the way Sangyeon kept stealing glances toward Younghoon -it wasn't asking for attention. Rather, it felt like Sangyeon was trying to check on Younghoon from time to time. That for Sangyeon, it was alright as long as Younghoon was okay.

 

So Juyeon put his eyes down when Jacob finished up the meeting by telling everyone to do a good job for tomorrow’s shoot with Wonho -felt like prying into things he shouldn't if he stayed observing.

 

He walked toward Jaehyun’s office and waited outside when he spotted Jaehyun was still talking with Chanhee inside. When his eyes met Chanhee, the latter blinked once before saying something to Jaehyun and proceeded to walk out of Jaehyun’s office.

 

“He’s all yours,” Chanhee patted his shoulder twice.

 

Juyeon casted his eyes down thinking how much of that words were not true. But he walked inside nevertheless, observing the way Jaehyun offered him a tiny smile -cheeks puffing as he looked away for a second before landing his eyes on the floor, getting up and motioned for Juyeon to sit on one of his sofa.

 

So he followed along, watching Jaehyun sitting himself down right in front of him -chest heaving up taking a silent breath before asking, “Is everything alright?”

 

But that was not important. Juyeon wanted to ask Jaehyun if he could answer all the questions that had been swirling wild inside Juyeon’s head for the past week.

 

Would you let me remind you about our kiss? Would you be angry if I did?

 

“Sure, it’s great. I just need your staffs list.”

 

“Ah, ones that will be lending a hand for your Wonho’s shoot?”

 

When you never mentioned the times where we lent each other’s shoulder to withstand our heartaches, was it because you were embarrassed? Or you simply didn't care enough, didn't think that it was worth mentioning about in the daylight?

 

“Let me print them out for you.”

 

“I’ll have Youngjae do it. Can you send me the digital file instead?”

 

Did you know that my heart burned along with yours every time you lamented about Sangyeon? I didn't want to stop my heart from doing it. So tell me, should I tell them to stop?

 

“Oh, okay. I’ll send it to you now.”

 

“Okay.”

 

Jaehyun, I couldn't seem to figure out why my heart was slowly turning its head towards you. Did you think you know the reason why? Could you tell me now?

 

“All preparations for the shoot is going well I suppose?”

 

“I’d like to think so. Yeah.”

 

Jaehyun, I still couldn't find an answer to what caused my heart walking carefully yet steadily in your direction now, rather than the one way road it only knew all this time. My heart stopped walking toward Younghoon and went for you instead, so could you tell me why? Would you tell me here and now?

 

“Jaehyun- oh, I’m sorry. I didn't know you have- that you- I’ll talk to you later.”

 

“Sure.”

 

Jaehyun, it was Younghoon just now at the door, wasn't it? So why did I got zero care to turn around and caught a pathetic glimpse like I always foolishly did all these years, and chose to keep looking at you instead? Were you able to let me know why?

 

“Juyeon, you’re alright?”

 

“Why wouldn't I be?”

 

Jaehyun,

 

“Jaehyun,” Juyeon said quietly.

 

“Yes?” and Jaehyun’s voice was as quiet as his was.

 

My heart wanted nothing but serenade you although hesitant. Would you think it was delirious of them? Would you not believe them because although now it always spent the most time looking at you, my heart was still looking back to Younghoon sometimes?

 

“If you had the chance,” Juyeon’s head kept spinning, making his stomach churning, “To get your way in between Sangyeon and Younghoon-“

 

Jaehyun’s frame went tense at his bold statement, and Juyeon wouldn't blame him.

 

“Would you do it?” because Juyeon had to ask, wondered if he should tell Jaehyun about how he thought there was something going on between the two that wasn't pleasant.

 

“What are you saying?”

 

“If I tell you, that Sangyeon and Younghoon have been looking distant,” his parch throat tightening so Juyeon swallowed his fears, “Will you come then between them to take a chance?”

 

He wouldn't miss the dithering glitz in Jaehyun’s eyes. How Jaehyun’s jaw clenched in pressed emotions before his throat swallowed hard to bring his gaze down, “Would you?” but Jaehyun had asked Juyeon back.

 

But Juyeon’s heart started to splinter watching Jaehyun losing his footing of sanity -silent breaths uneven, lip bitten in distress as his eyes turned away toward the direction of Sangyeon’s office.

 

Juyeon wouldn't dream of it but his disappointment came to him in waves, making him nauseous, making the back of his knees faltered in dejection. He studied the way Jaehyun’s fingers tightened along the edge of his work tablet -in the middle of sending Juyeon the file he asked about.

 

And admits his streaming forlorn, Juyeon then said, “Best of luck to you.”

 

Jaehyun’s question came out particularly sharp and biting, “What was that supposed to mean?”

 

“Because you would,” Juyeon didn't want to pretend to not see, “I can read you like an open book.”

 

“I beg your pardon?”

 

“You love Sangyeon too much-“ the breath Juyeon took, stifled right at the back of his throat, “Too much that you wouldn't pass an opportunity like this-“

 

“Just because you’ve seen me in some of my defenceless moments, it will never give you the right to say, or think that you know anything about me,” Jaehyun’s voice was raising, veins protruding because Juyeon knew Jaehyun was trying his best not to scream at him.

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

“Get out.”

 

“Don’t do it.”

 

“I said, get out!!”

 

But Juyeon didn't find it within himself to back down because- “Sangyeon broke your heart-“

 

“Shut up,” Jaehyun was gritting his teeth like he was angry, but Juyeon knew better because he could see the incoming brim of tears forming on Jaehyun’s eyes.

 

“And I know-“

 

“You know nothing-“

 

“That even though he broke your heart,” the reality of his words tasted bitter on Juyeon’s tongue and jealous heart, “You would still let him in to just do it all over again.”

 

“Please shut up-“

 

“Jaehyun don’t do it.”

 

“Why? Because you wouldn't? That’s a load of bullshit if I ever heard one.”

 

“I wouldn't.”

 

Jaehyun stopped his tirade and watched him in burning stare, “I should have known.”

 

Juyeon’s heart almost stopped. Did Jaehyun know about his feelings-

 

“You’re those kind huh?” sneering, Jaehyun scoffed out bitterly, “Anything for you to be happy? I’ll be happy if you’re happy? I don't mind getting hurt as long as you’re not?”

 

It wasn’t like that yet Juyeon kept his lips shut, because the real reason would always be buried -too forbidden to be spoken.

 

“Who would have thought,” Jaehyun clapped as he laughed emptily, “Lee Juyeon. A martyr.”

 

Jaehyun’s vacant chuckle turned cold.

 

“Lee Juyeon. Victimizing himself for the sake and benefit of Kim Younghoon. How splendid.”

 

Juyeon thought it wouldn't, but it hurt. It hurt when Jaehyun spelled his name in condemn. When Jaehyun -even dubious, kept his wall of pretence of not being shaken up.

 

“We are always too different,” Jaehyun concluded, “No matter how similar our misfortune is, our direction is the exact opposite of each other.”

 

Jaehyun, but my heart had been keeping an enough distance behind you to follow whichever road you wished to go. Should I tell them to stop? Would you demand for it now?

 

“So tell me,” Jaehyun’s fists were clenching, “What do you want, by telling me this?”

 

It made Juyeon almost winced in anguish seeing the torment swimming in Jaehyun’s eyes.

 

“You want me to be the bad guy?” a breathy sob that was concealed as a disbelief chuckle escaped Jaehyun’s lips, “You don't have the heart to do it, to meddle and come between them, so you want me to do it instead? For both of us? For you?”

 

Jaehyun, I had been entertaining the thought of you, setting your eyes only on me and not look at anyone else. Did you think it was selfish of me?

 

“Because if you do it, you’re afraid it would hurt Younghoon and you never wanted him to suffer, no?”

 

“You’re putting words in my mouth-“

 

“So why are you telling me this in the first place?!!”

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

“You said you would never hurt me,” betrayal was etched clearly on Jaehyun’s face as he glared at Juyeon in anguish, “You talked big about not wanting to hurt my feelings, but you’ll do it as long as Younghoon is concerned.”

 

“How nice,” Jaehyun whimpered weakly, “It must be nice to be Younghoon because everyone will always come to his rescue.”

 

Instinctively, Juyeon got up from his seat and pulled Jaehyun in into his embrace, “No. It’s not like that.”

 

“I know I’m nothing compared to him-“

 

“Hey, don’t-“

 

“I know it’s vain of me, to be thinking that I’m good enough to be wanting someone like Sangyeon to return my feelings-“

 

So Juyeon held Jaehyun tighter, chest tightening along Jaehyun’s own stuttering chest, “That’s not true.”

 

“Just because I’m quiet about my shortcomings, doesn't mean that I’m blind to it.”

 

Juyeon’s heart cried along with Jaehyun’s.

 

“He is never mine but losing him broke my heart.”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“No,” Jaehyun shook his head and pried himself away from Juyeon -too petrified to look up after his outburst.

 

But Juyeon would never think less of Jaehyun.

 

“Don’t apologize. It’s not your fault.”

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

Jaehyun cut him off, “Look at that,” in an apologetic grimace -studying the wet patch on Juyeon’s jacquard hooded anorak, “I ruined it.”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“That’s supposed to be my line,” though weak, but Jaehyun gave out a small laugh.

 

“I’m sorry for not thinking about your feelings when I told you about them,” because Juyeon was selfish. Because when Juyeon asked Jaehyun about it, Juyeon wanted to hear an answer for his aching questions.

 

Jaehyun put his head down.

 

“I’m sorry for judging that you would do anything to- that-“

 

“Shall we have dinner together next week?”

 

Juyeon blinked, “What?”

 

“I keep finding myself being comforted by you,” and when Jaehyun glanced up in a thin embarrassed smile, Juyeon’s neck started burning with want, “You’re really nice to me.”

 

Jaehyun,

 

“You’re a good friend.”

 

I would make sure to keep my promise to never hurt you.

 

“Let me treat you to dinner.”

 

So I would never ask for any kind of answers from you.

 

 

***

 

 

Glitterati Building 11th floor was blaring Gossip Folks by Missy Elliott as soon as Wonho stepped into it -per Wonho’s agency request of course.

 

Jaehyun couldn't even hold back his somehow half disdain stare -brows furrowing, lips parting as it almost let a scoff escaped.

 

Wonho walked up front, his agency’s COO just behind him on his left, manager on his left right beside the COO. Behind Wonho were four bodyguards clad in a suit with a perfectly pulled poker face.

 

“Oh,” Changmin’s jaw dropped.

 

“My,” Sunwoo’s eyes widened.

 

“God,” Haknyeon whistled.

 

Jaehyun’s frown deepened because come on, Wonho didn't really deserve all this exaggerated jaw droppings and almost fainting gasps reactions. He grumbled though, when he could feel heat rising up his cheeks as soon as his eyes noticed Wonho’s tight suit that faultlessly hugged all of his amazing hard trained muscles. Huffing out a stuttering breath, Jaehyun scowled again when he felt Youngjae’s elbow on his ribs.

 

“Keep your fucking clothes on Jaehyun, damn it!!”

 

Jaehyun clicked his tongue, “Oh please. He’s not that hot.”

 

“You’re fucking blind or what mate?” Sunwoo whipped his head so fast Jaehyun afraid he broke his neck.

 

Actually, Wonho was that hot. It was just that Jaehyun had met him once back then when he was still a rookie, and recalled how Wonho was pretty dismissive to some of the staffs. Not quite a good experience, but not that bad either. So yes, Jaehyun had his own prejudice.

 

“Lee Jaehyun?” yet suddenly, Wonho stopped in his tracks and opened his sunglasses (who the fuck wore sunglasses indoor? The fuck?) before walking toward Jaehyun-

 

Jaehyun gaped. What?

 

“Lee Jaehyun right? We met once do you remember?” Wonho asked enthusiastically -standing in front of Jaehyun in a smile.

 

“Um,” Jaehyun lips couldn’t stop opening and closing like a goldfish seeking its pellets in a form of Wonho’s abs.

 

He could hear Changmin hissing out a ‘lucky bitch.’

 

“I’m sad if you don't remember,” and then Wonho with his stupidly handsome face had the audacity to pout.

 

Jaehyun almost fell on his knees for the terribly Adonis looking man.

 

“You were the one telling me that the staffs preferred hot americano rather than the iced one. I almost bought the wrong one for everyone,” Wonho grinned and suddenly rubbed his hand on Jaehyun’s upper arm.

 

Jaehyun could hear Sunwoo hissing out a ‘good for you, slut.’

 

“Thank you so much,” Wonho’s eyes even smile and it was as blinding as his pearly white teeth.

 

It made Jaehyun dizzy, but he still made a mental note to reprimand Changmin and Sunwoo for the excessive use of profanity. Towards him.

 

“I-“ Jaehyun cleared his throat, feeling guilty for the prejudice he got against the amazingly hot man in front of him, “Yes,” the three alphabets came out as shaky as Chanhee’s portable butt plug toys he had bought for article purposes. According to Chanhee.

 

Jaehyun could hear Haknyeon snorting out a ‘whipped.’

 

“Mr. Wonho,” Sangyeon showed up and offered a hand.

 

Jaehyun could only watch as Wonho gave a blinding smile to Sangyeon before winking at Jaehyun, and followed Sangyeon toward the communal meeting area that was excessively decorated into a 60’s gentleman party zone -specially did and done for Wonho.

 

“What the fuck was that?” Changmin was glaring at him and Jaehyun gulped because the touch of Wonho’s palm against his suit still sent shivers down his spine.

 

“I-“

 

“I’m so disappointed in you Jaehyun,” but Chanhee who had been quiet the whole time, gave him a disapproving look.

 

Jaehyun didn't miss the way Chanhee pulled up his pants while gripping them tight between his fingers, “Chanhee,” he said in a warning, “Make sure you’re wearing your belt tightly. We don't want another pants dropping accident-“

 

“Piss off!!” Chanhee barked, “Have shame Jaehyun. You have a boyfriend.”

 

“Well Wonho’s feeling up Jaehyun’s boyfriend now,” there was amusement underneath Sunwoo’s tone.

 

Jaehyun kept his lips shut as he was about to bring the news about how he already knew that Wonho fancied Juyeon with all of his superfluous gift of wines. If he failed to keep his lips shut, it would lead to too many explanations so Jaehyun pressed his needs to gossip. Hard. Jaehyun loved gossips. So this was a feat.

 

And he thought, maybe Youngjae interpreted his bulging veins differently.

 

“God Jaehyun you’re so jealous your veins be popping here then!!”

 

Jaehyun’s fleeting eyes caught Chanhee as the latter gave him a smirk.

 

“It’s okay Jaehyun,” Kevin suddenly appeared from behind him.

 

Jaehyun’s undignified shriek of surprise got Gentlefolk’s gentlemen and Wonho looking at his direction.

 

“Fucking hell Kevin!!” Jaehyun quick on turning around in shame to face Kevin, “What the fuck?!!”

 

“Hey lad,” Kevin put his hands up, “Relax. I’m here to give you some peace of mind.”

 

“Right,” rolling his eyes, Jaehyun tsked and about to berate his boss when Kevin interrupted.

 

“You can keep an eye on your boyfriend. You know, just in case this Wonho brute is planning an evil scheme-“

 

“What-“

 

“To caught your boyfriend Juyeon by the mouth,” Kevin looked unimpressed.

 

“What?”

 

“And then you have to wait eight long months before he finally set him free, and then you told him you couldn’t lie because he was the only for you-“

 

“Um, Kevin-“

 

“And he would be all whoa, I never meant to brag, but I got him where I want him now-“

 

“Are you really quoting Paramore right now?” Sunwoo’s forehead creased in appal.

 

“Whoa it was never my intention to brag, to steal it all away from you now~” Kevin put his arms up as he sang the rest of the lyrics out.

 

“Kevin!! Behave!!” Jaehyun trapped Kevin’s arms and frame between his own and gritted his teeth, “Enough. What are you even trying to say?”

 

“Well, like I said-“

 

“Before being inspired by Paramore’s Misery Business,” Haknyeon shook his head amusedly.

 

“Yes,” Kevin went urgh, “I put you on the staffs list.”

 

“Staffs list…of what?”

 

“You know, the one lending a hand to help with Wonho’s shoot.”

 

“What?!!” Changmin screeched under his breath, “Why him?!!”

 

“So Jaehyun can keep an eye on his boyfriend of course you silly,” Kevin looked smug like he had the answer to world hunger.

 

“No!!” Jaehyun quickly declined, “Why would I do that?!!“

 

“Too late now my sweet lad,” Kevin gushed, “You’re in charge of artistic set.”

 

“That’s Sunwoo’s fucking job!!”

 

“You’re basically my assistant. Hah!!” Sunwoo then dragged Youngjae and Haknyeon to start their special shoot with Wonho.

 

“Hey, um-“

 

Juyeon’s voice startled him and Jaehyun turned to find Juyeon peering at him nervously -scratching the back of his head, “Should we go now?”

 

“Um-“ Jaehyun stared at him dumbly, “Where?”

 

“The shoot about to start-“

 

“Juyeon~” Wonho’s honey dripped voice calling Juyeon like he was his long lost lover, filled the room.

 

Conspirational gasps and stares were directed at Jaehyun’s direction waiting for his response from having his supposedly boyfriend being called up sickeningly sweet by another man. And Jaehyun had to hold himself from hollering this insanity Kevin bestowed upon him.

 

“Are you coming~” that one was blatantly flirty with an innuendo.

 

“Damn Juyeon he got it bad for you,” Chanhee cackled loudly.

 

“I’ll catch up,” but Juyeon had sounded cool and calm and composed and Jaehyun felt like giving him a standing ovation for that kind of self-control.

 

Then again, Younghoon was really, really handsome, and Juyeon had been so in love with the man. Younghoon’s face and build was nothing sort of just simply stunning. Even Jaehyun had murmured out loud how ravishing Younghoon looked the first time he saw him.

 

“Right,” Jaehyun blinked fast, “Camera, right-“

 

“Um, no,” Juyeon tilted his head in confusion, “You’re helping Sunwoo-“

 

“Right, right,” clearing his throat, Jaehyun gave Kevin a quick glare before following Juyeon toward their shoot studio.

 

“Cheers,” Juyeon thanked softly.

 

“For what?”

 

“For wanting to help. Thank you really.”

 

“No, don't mind it,” Jaehyun shook his hands fast, “I don't know if I can be much help because Sunwoo has Hak and Youngjae by his side-“

 

Juyeon cut him off, “It means a lot to me. So thank you.”

 

“Yeah,” Jaehyun cowered in embarrassment at Juyeon’s words, “Anytime.”

 

When they finally got inside, Wonho was already standing in the middle of one of the set. All glorious in his sleeveless sweater that showed enough of his neck line, and more than enough to show off all of his perfect guns- no, arms. Jaehyun meant arms. Fuck.

 

And really, maybe it had a lot to do with Juyeon’s constant meeting of reminder about how to behave like a gentlemen in front of Wonho that he had done for the past four months, everything was running really smoothly.

 

Wonho ate the camera up and the camera loved him a lot for it.

 

Then Wonho put his hand up as a sign to stop, all eyes were on him as Wonho glanced at Juyeon’s direction -Juyeon who had been standing closely beside Jaehyun to supervise.

 

“So Juyeon,” Wonho said with a dazzling smile, suddenly sitting down on the set floor between the props, “Remember that poses concept you showed me?”

 

“Yeah,” Juyeon walked toward Wonho and Jaehyun felt a tiny thud against his ribs that made his stomach swirled.

 

Jaehyun must be hungry. So he texted Chanhee asking to help him ordered his late lunch.

 

“I want to try those concept.”

 

“That’ll be great-“

 

But Wonho was swift on calling the photographer and motioned for him to give Juyeon the heavy and expensive camera, “You take it,” he leaned back on one of the box props, “I want to see how I look in your eyes. And to see, if I’m doing the poses right.”

 

“Fucking smooth,” Haknyeon whispered from behind him and Jaehyun felt ticked.

 

Somehow.

 

He didn't know why.

 

Fucking Kevin and his fucking Misery Business obsession.

 

Because Jaehyun found himself staring silently at how Wonho flirted with Juyeon, and how Juyeon quietly kept everything professional yet so gentle at the same time.

 

“You’re awfully quiet,” Youngjae snorted in a whisper, nudging Jaehyun’s shoulder.

 

“No one Youngjae,” Jaehyun’s lips were moving on its own accord. Jaehyun swore!! “No one plans a murder out loud.”

 

“What the fuck Jaehyun?!!” Sunwoo had to stop in his tracks as he walked passed them bringing more props, “We know you’re jealous. But not now!!”

 

Jealous?

 

“Why would I be jealous?” Jaehyun questioned himself out loud.

 

Haknyeon patted his back, “It’s okay. We understand. Must be hard having to compete with the one and only Wonho. You know, seeing him flirt with your boyfriend and what not.”

 

“God,” Haknyeon then continued, “I would too if I was Wonho. Juyeon really dolled himself up today.”

 

And Jaehyun bit the corner of his lips unconsciously because Haknyeon had a point. Juyeon showed up in a proper suit today. White collared shirt tucked into black pants while a black tie nestled neatly on its collar. Juyeon had fastened the buttons of his black suit and his hair was swept back while some of it strands fell on the side of his forehead effortlessly.

 

“Do you think he did all of that for Wonho?” Youngjae gasped with an amused grin thrown in Jaehyun’s direction.

 

“That’s his fucking business,” Jaehyun grumbled, questioning the pinches he felt at the pit of his stomach as he watched Juyeon crouching down and taking shots of Wonho.

 

“Keep the jealousy at bay!!” Sunwoo warned in a sharp breath before walking away, “And if you’re done gossiping, make yourself useful Jaehyun.”

 

But Jaehyun was too engrossed in the way Wonho stared up at Juyeon, “What kind of pose is he even doing?”

 

“A hot one?” Haknyeon supplied unhelpfully.

 

“I know,” Jaehyun glared back at him.

 

Juyeon had a soft smile on his face, letting Wonho teased him up through the camera.

 

Jaehyun felt like throwing up when his stomach churned again.

 

He must be really, really hungry. He texted Chanhee again to make sure his lunch would be more than enough to satiate the weird tingling feeling on his stomach.

 

Wonho was coquettish in his stares and dove like movements. Lashes fluttering in wanton and Jaehyun clenched his fists because Juyeon was way too collected on receiving all of Wonho’s advances!! He should have at least be a little colder!! How could he just accept everything?!! Was it because Younghoon was not here?!! Juyeon was a horrible man!!

 

“They should get a room,” Sunwoo grumbled when he joined them back. Even Sunwoo agreed with him!!

 

“Damn it’s like you’re not here Jaehyun,” Youngjae snorted in a small cackle.

 

Jaehyun waved him off, “Whatever,” it was not like Juyeon was his real boyfriend anyway, “Juyeon is being politely professional-“

 

Wonho went on all fours in front of Juyeon prior to placing his right hand on Juyeon’s folding leg. Specifically on his upper thigh.

 

Okay that’s it.

 

“Get your fucking hands off of my boyfriend!!”

 

Jaehyun’s shrills silenced the whole room. The DJ Youngjae had hired to accompany the shoot looked like he almost had a heart attack before turning off his mixers in fright.

 

There was absolute horror and terror wild on Jacob and Sangyeon’s eyes. Youngjae was shaking beside him yet Jaehyun only had one track of mind to even care.

 

Jaehyun did this for Juyeon. He told himself that.

 

Because Juyeon had looked a tad bit uncomfortable with Grabby Wonho’s advances. He told himself that.

 

So Jaehyun was just trying to help Juyeon. He told himself that.

 

Approaching a flabbergasted looking Juyeon and wide eyed Wonho, Jaehyun stood right beside Juyeon -towering over him and placed his hands on his hips before shouting at the poor DJ.

 

“Well who told you to fucking stop the music??!!”

 

“Jaehyun-“ his name was being whispered in alarmed. Courtesy of Changmin.

 

Why was Changmin here? So Jaehyun turned toward him and barked, “I’m expecting the annual marketing report by my desk this evening. Leave!!”

 

Changmin bit his nails and smashed Jaehyun’s chest twice in a frustrated screech before taking off.

 

“Are you fucking deaf??!!” Jaehyun yelled back to the DJ who was on the verge of crying -frozen in his place.

 

“Jaehyun-“ Sangyeon cleared his throat.

 

No. Sangyeon should mind his own business, “Fuck off Sangyeon!!” he said while pointing his index finger at him.

 

Seething, Jaehyun peered down at Juyeon whose lips were parting and eyes were bulging, “What the fuck are you still doing down there?!! You’re enjoying everything?!!”

 

“I-“ Juyeon scrambled on his feet and took deep breaths -blinking fast as his cheeks turned crimson, finally getting up following Jaehyun’s order.

 

Good for him to still have shame. Jaehyun clicked his tongue in disdain. He snapped his head toward the photographer who jumped back as soon as their eyes met, “Why is someone else doing your fucking job?!!”

 

The photographer quickly took his camera out of Juyeon’s hands and started clicking at the floor. Jaehyun assumed he was clicking and aiming to nothing out of fear, but hey, at least it was a start.

 

“Back off,” Jaehyun hissed at Juyeon -glowering and pushing Juyeon’s chest away with his palm.

 

“Sunwoo you prepared five fucking set and we only used one in three hours?!! You’re such a fucking waste of time!!” screaming his head off, Jaehyun watched as Sunwoo put his palm across his mouth simpering before running and preparing the second set.

 

“If you don't change him to another outfit, we are going to charge you with all of your useless expensive marketing collaboration meeting expanses, and cut them through your salary Hak!! You useless piece of shit!!”

 

Haknyeon whimpered pitifully before coming about to usher an appalled looking Wonho.

 

“What?!!” Jaehyun snarled when Wonho couldn't stop staring at him in absolute horror, “What are you looking at?!!”

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

“I said,” Jaehyun glowered at Juyeon, “Back. Off,” tone biting.

 

Four of Wonho’s bodyguards came up toward him while the COO and manager were hiding behind them -wanting to protest yet so scared they could only look at Jaehyun from behind the bodyguard’s frame.

 

“What?!!” Jaehyun hissed at them in menace, “Do I look like I’m going to harm him?!! Do you see me holding a knife??!! Do you think I’m just going to stand here, and do nothing, when my boss’s money keep flying out the window for how unproductive this shoot is going??!!”

 

The bodyguards took one step forward.

 

“Youngjae get your ass over here!!” Jaehyun kept in his place and hollered because nope, he was not afraid.

 

Standing meekly beside him, Youngjae yelped when Jaehyun pulled his sideburns up. Tight.

 

“Aw, aw, Jaehyun what are you doing-“

 

“I know you lot are here,” Jaehyun chuckled lowly -talking to an empty spot.

 

Juyeon looked at him like he was crazy. Poor lad. He basically knew nothing.

 

“If you don't show up now, I’ll make sure Youngjae will get hurt-“

 

Youngjae’s sugar daddy bodyguards -six of them precisely, a lot bigger than Wonho’s bodyguards truly, suddenly came out and stood behind Jaehyun who released Youngjae as he promised.

 

Wonho’s bodyguards took six steps back.

 

“Move the fuck along!!” Jaehyun screamed as Gentlefolk’s staff started running around with their printed schedule tight within their grasp.

 

“And you,” Jaehyun narrowed his eyes at the DJ who was being comforted by Haknyeon, “Play the fucking music!! Now!!”

 

Sangyeon put a hand on his shoulder and Jaehyun brushed it off with a threatening glare.

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

“If what I said is wrong Sangyeon,” Jaehyun said in a sing song full of peril, “I think Jacob would have stopped me. Right, Jacob?” and Jaehyun turned his eyes toward Jacob who actually had a satisfied look on his face.

 

“Thank you for your help Jaehyun,” Jacob had said -stretching his arms wide, “This shoot is going pointlessly long. Let’s take break while Wonho is changing.”

 

Jaehyun sneered tauntingly -winningly.

 

“Jaehyun, a moment,” Juyeon clutched Jaehyun’s wrist and pulled him out of the studio toward a corner in the hallway.

 

“If even Jacob doesn't mind-“ Jaehyun about to start when Juyeon put his hand up as a sign to stop him from talking.

 

Grumbling, Jaehyun found himself following Juyeon’s request.

 

“It’s not that,” Juyeon massaged the bridge of his nose, “Just, okay. First of all-“

 

“What do you mean first of all?! We haven’t got all day-“

 

“Jaehyun.”

 

“What?!”

 

“Wonho does drag the shoot, I mean fuck- every single time I had a meeting with him before this, it could go on for more than half a day. He can be a little high maintenance.”

 

He fancied you that was why. But Jaehyun kept the thought to himself.

 

“And I can’t even say anything because I don't want to mess things up-“

 

Understandable.

 

“That’s why I asked Kevin to get you in the shoot-“

 

“Oh?” this time Jaehyun blinked, “I thought it was Kevin’s idea.”

 

“No it was mine. You can be a lot more ruthless than I am-“

 

Jaehyun scoffed, “You mean rude?”

 

“No,” shaking his head in a laugh, Juyeon gave an embarrassed grin, “You’re more forward than I am. A whole lot more.”

 

Oh. Jaehyun’s stomach twisted, stirring a little wild. So he pulled out his phone.

 

“What are you doing?” Juyeon’s scrunched his forehead.

 

“Texting Chanhee asking about my food. I must have been really, really, really hungry.”

 

“Or we can-“

 

“Juyeon,” Sangyeon called Juyeon’s name softly not too far from where they were standing.

 

Juyeon winced and cleared his throat, “Yeah, I’m coming.”

 

Jaehyun couldn't even bring himself to look at Sangyeon in the eyes as he too then clearing his throat.

 

“Can I please just ask one thing?” Juyeon let his eyes lingered on his shoes before glancing back up at Jaehyun.

 

“Sure.”

 

“No screaming.”

 

“But-“

 

“No. Screaming.”

 

“Fine!!” Jaehyun screamed one last time. Just for the sake of it.

 

And Jaehyun followed Juyeon from behind him to continue the shoot. As he had predicted, everything went a lot faster in speed. Even when the DJ and photographer still had some slight tremor running along their fingers every time their eyes met Jaehyun, it was all going pretty good.

 

One thing worth to mention, was probably how Wonho had been giving Jaehyun the evil eye when the camera was not aimed at him. Jaehyun sneered smugly to himself because that, was what jealousy was. Sunwoo was being preposterously absurd saying Jaehyun was jealous. It was the other way around rather. Wonho was jealous of him. Eat that you hot and handsome man.

 

Years spent working in a magazine, Jaehyun wouldn't have imagine that one day, a celebrity would feel envious of him. Wonho made it very clear when the shoot was finally over -as he walked in front with his team behind him thanking all of the staffs, to glare pointedly when he passed by Jaehyun.

 

Juyeon said no screaming.

 

So Jaehyun hissed lowly at Wonho instead, “His dick is mine!!”

 

Sunwoo and Haknyeon’s choking gasps filled his ears as both were standing on his left, and Jaehyun could see from the corner of his eyes, that Chanhee was about to collapse at his words -fortunately getting held by Youngjae before he could fall to the ground.

 

Why would Chanhee be here?

 

Jaehyun about to scold him when Juyeon walked back inside the studio and gestured him to follow.

 

“Jaehyun has gone mental-“

 

Changmin’s words were muffled as Jaehyun could barely hear him anymore when he finally entered Juyeon’s office.

 

“Am I in trouble?” Jaehyun sighed -refusing to enter further, standing right outside Juyeon’s office.

 

But Juyeon just shrugged -walking toward one of his cabinets and took out a small box, “Not really. Come and sit down.”

 

Jaehyun narrowed his eyes but did as he was told. It hadn’t even been a second since he felt the softness of Juyeon’s sofa on his back, when Juyeon sat on the edge of an armchair near where he was seated -placing a first aid kit box on top of the coffee table.

 

“Are you hurt?” eyes scanning, Jaehyun failed to notice any kind of scratch or traces of blood on Juyeon.

 

You are hurt,” Juyeon said pointedly. He opened the box and squeezed a small amount of ointment at the tip of a cotton bud.

 

Jaehyun blinked in confusion. His brows went up to his forehead when he noticed some gashes on his right arm. It reminded Jaehyun that he still left his suit jacket on the shoot studio. He had opened it and rolled up his sleeves to help Sunwoo around.

 

He wanted to say something, anything, but Juyeon circled his left hand along Jaehyun’s wrist gently while his right hand cleaned the gashes carefully with an alcohol wipes, and it locked Jaehyun’s lips ability to speak.

 

“You,” Juyeon hummed under his breath, eyes determined in focus  -taking care of Jaehyun’s scars, “Remind me of the ocean.”

 

There was a small quake of shivers running across Jaehyun’s chest, “Ocean?”

 

And Juyeon nodded -discarding the alcohol wipes, and begun patting the ointments, “You’re salty and also scare people.”

 

Clenching his fist, Jaehyun took a deep breath with closed eyes, “Well, what can I say,” to then smile sarcastically at Juyeon who patted some of the Band-Aids he successfully put on Jaehyun before sitting back to look at Jaehyun properly, “I am charming in my own way, and irresponsible.”

 

“Irresponsible?“

 

“Irresistible,” Jaehyun corrected his seemingly dead tongue and swallowed a strange lump forming at the tip of his throat when his gaze caught his well nursed gashes, courtesy of Juyeon, “Thank you,” before whispering his gratitude feeling shy out of nowhere, “Has he always been touchy?”

 

Juyeon tilted his head, “What do you mean?”

 

“Wonho.”

 

“Ah,” Juyeon crossed his arms, “The one who you screamed at? The one who you almost harassed-“

 

“I never!!”

 

“The word knife is not really necessary-“

 

“Whatever Juyeon!! I was just trying to help you!!”

 

“You can just scream at our kids-“

 

Our kids?

 

“And not Wonho,” Juyeon sighed. But Jaehyun knew Juyeon wasn’t really chastising him from his tone alone, “That way the shoot can still go fast yet pleasantly.”

 

“But that’s not-“ then Jaehyun found himself frowning, “That’s not what- I mean, yes, I did want to make the shoot went more productive, but I also want to help you.”

 

“Help me with what?” the blink Juyeon did look so innocent and it got Jaehyun’s stomach whirling.

 

Was it all in Jaehyun’s head? That Juyeon looked uncomfortable with Wonho’s overly flirtatious advances? Did Juyeon actually enjoyed it? Did he really?

 

Jaehyun’s frown deepened when the thought created soft thud at the back of his neck starting up a headache.

 

“Jaehyun?”

 

He must have been zoning out for too long that when he snapped his head up at Juyeon, the latter was watching him carefully.

 

“Are you alright?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Why are you frowning?”

 

“I just-“

 

“Why are you so quiet?”

 

“So I can’t scream, and I can’t be quiet,” Jaehyun groaned audibly, “Pick your side Juyeon.”

 

It brought a small chuckle from Juyeon’s moving throat, making his lips parting, eyes crinkling in moon crescent, cheeks lifting looking so handsome-

 

“Juyeon do you happen to see Jaehyun-“ Chanhee’s voice interrupted Jaehyun’s train of thoughts, “Jaehyun what the fuck?? I’ve been looking for you!!”

 

“Why?” Jaehyun got so dumb and he didn't know why.

 

“Your late lunch?”

 

“I’m not hungry?” Jaehyun threw Chanhee a confused gaze.

 

“You’re not hungry- you shit- you-“ Chanhee sputtered indignantly while showing Jaehyun’s his phone screen, “You fucking texted me for so fucking many times saying you were so fucking hungry and I have to fucking order you lunch if I still wanted to fucking keep my fucking job-“

 

“That’s a lot of fucking,” Juyeon whistled.

 

“Means he hasn’t been for a really long time,” Jaehyun waved his hand dismissively.

 

It brought a sharp and hurt and dramatic gasp from Chanhee’s lips.

 

“Listen,” Jaehyun felt bad, “I’ll go and get it. Thank you Chanhee.”

 

“Well you better bring your boyfriend along because I bought a lot of food Jaehyun. A lot.”

 

“I don’t have a boyfriend-“

 

“That’s not what you said five hours ago to everyone inside the shoot studio,” Chanhee squinted at him disgustingly.

 

“I-“

 

Chanhee strutted out before hearing the rest of Jaehyun’s sentence.

 

Seconds passed and Jaehyun kept his eyes on Juyeon’s door right where Chanhee stood before. He did, didn't he? Jaehyun really did yell out from the top of his lungs about how Juyeon was his boyfriend.

 

“Jaehyun?”

 

“What?” his feet tangled against each other as it turned on his heels when Juyeon called his name. Jaehyun stumbled back and fortunately abled to find his footing by grabbing the back of Juyeon’s sofa, “What?”

 

“Oh my God,” concern was etched along Juyeon’s expression, “Is everything alright?”

 

“I’m just- just- hungry.”

 

“But you just told Chanhee that you didn't?”

 

“What do you know about-“ the word ‘me’ was getting halted at the tip of Jaehyun’s tongue, when he saw Juyeon’s eyes went dim just a little. Like Juyeon knew what Jaehyun was about to say, “About my stomach?” but Jaehyun didn't want Juyeon to feel hurt, “What do you know about my stomach?” so he replaced the word instead.

 

Bewilderment brought tugs at the corner of Juyeon’s lips, “You can be really, really weird sometimes.”

 

“It’s called charming Juyeon.”

 

“I’m-“ snapping his lips tight, Juyeon ducked down as his shoulder shook in silent laughter, “I guess. Yeah, okay.”

 

“Do you want to devour the food Chanhee said he bought?”

 

“Yeah-“

 

“Or do you still have something to work on-“

 

Jaehyun’s chest went up embarrassingly when their words collided.

 

“Okay. I’ll eat with you.”

 

“Right, okay.”

 

Jaehyun parted his lips. Closing it. Parting it again. Pointing his index finger on Juyeon’s opened door, before closing his lips again.

 

“Very eloquent,” Juyeon mused in a manly giggle.

 

Why did it sound manly when Juyeon did it, but squeaky when he did it?

 

They walked toward Jaehyun’s office and Jaehyun contemplated a lot about asking what he had been wanting to ask. Jaehyun waited until they both finished their third bowl of rice.

 

“What I did at your shoot,” Jaehyun put his bottle of water down, “Did I cross a line?”

 

“You ask this just now?” Juyeon gave him a teasing scoff.

 

“No, not the screaming.”

 

Juyeon gave him a disapproving smile, “What then?”

 

But the question of ‘did you enjoy Wonho’s attention?’ got stuck at the back of his throat, and Jaehyun decided to not ask. Because logically, there was nothing he could get out of it either. He would just come across prying and it made Jaehyun question himself on why would he want to ask it in the first place.

 

 

***

 

 

“Get your fucking hands off of my boyfriend!!”

 

Juyeon forgot the usual rhythm of his usually composed heart as it ran faster, hasty, rapidly moving by controlling his eyes to see, and only see, Jaehyun.

 

Jaehyun was snarking like his life depended on it.

 

And after their late lunch together inside Jaehyun’s office, Juyeon continued to build a new speed of heartbeat every time his mind went to Jaehyun. It was scuttling to Jaehyun before making a u turn out of fear, because it knew Jaehyun’s heart already anchored in another place.

 

The door to Jaehyun’s heart had always been closed and locked tight, soundproofed to other’s calls to it.

 

So now as Jaehyun was standing in front of him with kind eyes -softly asking if there was something he could help Juyeon with, when Juyeon barged in into the meeting room where Jaehyun had been spending his night alone, Juyeon knew he had to do it.

 

It would be better for him to get rejected by Jaehyun now, rather than later. Juyeon could just embrace his heart again when it shattered.

 

“Remember that dinner you offer me last Monday?”

 

Jaehyun’s eyes went up for a second in thoughts, “Yeah. We’re still going next week right?”

 

“Can I have it now?”

 

“Now?”

 

Juyeon said and did nothing. His nerves prevented him to function at his best, but Juyeon was persistent. He was ready to get his heart ruined.

 

If it was his normal self, Juyeon would ask whether Jaehyun was available or not. But Juyeon pushed forward.

 

“Can you make time for me?”

 

“Juyeon—”

 

“For that dinner you promised me.”

 

The quietude felt heavy at least for Juyeon as he waited for Jaehyun to respond. And Jaehyun’s eyes on him felt imploring, like Jaehyun was trying to examine him -trying to see if he could guess what went wrong. The stare Jaehyun gave him ended with an inhale of breath.

 

“Of course.”

 

“Jaehyun—“

 

“You could have warned me this morning,” but Jaehyun’s spoiled whine got Juyeon to stop talking, “Do you think it’s easy to book a restaurant on the spot like this-“

 

“I already book the restaurant.”

 

“You what?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Where?”

 

“Alaine Ducasse at The Dorchester.”

 

“You little shit,” Jaehyun’s eyes widened before punching Juyeon’s upper arm lightly, “That’s fucking expensive- how do you even get to book?”

 

“Well it’s full until the next two years-“

 

“Fuck-“

 

“But the La Table Lumiere is surprisingly empty-“

 

“Fucking hell Juyeon!!” Jaehyun screeched.

 

And it was too funny for Juyeon, how all of Jaehyun’s antics -ones where he had hated for all these years, were only met with fond -blooming on his blushing yet bruised heart.

 

“That’s the most expensive table-“

 

“You have a very extensive knowledge about the restaurant,” Juyeon raised a brow.

 

“Well,” Jaehyun huffed before the top part of his cheeks started to colour, “I may or may not have made a list about nice places to eat-“

 

It was enough to make Juyeon’s chest stuttered. The thought that Jaehyun had taken his time to find a good restaurant for their dinner-

 

“If I ever had the chance to take Sangyeon out.”

 

It was enough to make Juyeon’s heart grovelled on its knees. The thought that Jaehyun had loved Sangyeon for far too long, so there wouldn't be a reason he would stop now just because Juyeon asked him to.

 

And here -as they were seated in front of each other on such an expensive table and course meal Juyeon had paid upfront, Juyeon chose not to ask.

 

His heart hovered above naïve -thinking Jaehyun would, if Juyeon asked him to stop loving Sangyeon and tried to look at Juyeon only instead.

 

Juyeon would sink rather than swim. Anything for Jaehyun.

 

“Does it not suit your taste?” Jaehyun whispered -leaning forward as he did so.

 

“It tastes great.”

 

“Fantastic. I will be paying this immoderately costly dinner, so you-“

 

“I think I’m a little bit in love with you.”

 

“—better be—”

 

Juyeon finally glanced up from his plate after declaring and admitting his feelings for Jaehyun out loud, trying not to fall apart watching the way Jaehyun’s whole frame frozen, face draining in colours, eyes turning hazy swimming in alarm.

 

“I thought it was nothing but it’s not,” Juyeon owed himself this, so he did his best to stay calm -keeping his eyes on Jaehyun, even though his heart was crestfallen, “I’m sorry. I know you don't feel the same way about me.”

 

“We kissed,” Juyeon put down the tight grip he had on his fork, “You don’t remember, but I do. Because you were drunk, but I wasn’t. And kissing you,” he put his eyes down for a second to hold on tight to whichever part of his heart that wasn't broken, “Back when you were crying all night about Sangyeon after the Annual Anorak Gala, had felt too right for me.”

 

So Juyeon confessed, “Kissing you, feels right and I resent the fact that you can’t recall our kiss to mind.”

 

“Kissing you, made me feel close to feeling alive,” so Juyeon’s fingers trembled along his simpering heart, “When it’s just us two, when you’re beside me, talking to me, glancing at me, falling to my arms sometimes because you’re too fragile to hold your shattering heart between your palms, it almost makes me believe that the status of you and I -the whole office seemed to buy, was not pretend.”

 

“That when you call me a lover, you’ve mean it. That you too, feel the same way about me even for a tiny bit.”

 

Juyeon had been prepared to rebut if Jaehyun ever cut him off. But Jaehyun didn't. Jaehyun never as he only listened although the shake of his pupils were too hard not to be noticed.

 

“And it really upsets me, the fact that I know, I know I still stop and think about Younghoon sometimes. But having you near me, I stop trying so hard to forget about Younghoon because I just forget. I don't even have to try when I’m with you.”

 

“Jaehyun,” Juyeon screwed his eyes shut for a second and clenched his fist tight, “Then I know that it’s over. I know it’s over because I stop trying over Younghoon. I just want you-“ he stopped, licking his lips because his heart kept splitting at the seams.

 

“I keep telling my heart not to want you but it’s not that easy. I know how it feels to love someone so much, but have them not loving you the same way. I was in love, but that wasn't enough.”

 

“And I expect nothing from you,” the painful twinges swarming his chest felt too tight now, “Because I know how devastating it can be, knowing that you can’t get over someone even for all the love in the world as a change.”

 

“But you see Jaehyun, for me, you have felt like magic. How easy it is for you, unconsciously helping me see that I am worth more than my unfortunate unrequited love. Enchantingly leading me, on bidding my one-sided love goodbye.”

 

“I’m not going to lie to myself and not to you. So here I am telling you, that at the same time, you have felt like a taunting dream. And nothing is good about it because my heart, no matter how much it waltz in hope towards you -singing only for you, it still has fear instilled beneath it from the biting reality.”

 

“Because Sangyeon will always be your one, even if he is not yours.”

 

“Jaehyun,” so Juyeon got up, avoiding Jaehyun’s searching eyes as the later head tilted back looking up at him, “Even if you don’t feel the same way, I just wanted to tell you. Thank you for listening to me.”

 

Juyeon bowed politely before leaving.

 

Too afraid to have Jaehyun see the way his eyes brimmed, the way Juyeon’s neck tightened, the way his chest started to seize -lacking out of air and the small love he had for Jaehyun that would never be returned.

 

 

***

 

 

Juyeon had paid for everything.

 

Jaehyun knew he shouldn't have expected less.

 

The expensive table was the most private area in the restaurant. It felt too big when he arrived with Juyeon. It felt even bigger after Juyeon had left him alone.

 

Jaehyun’s eyes hadn’t move from the fourth course that was left by the private table personal butler. It was too pretty to be eaten, so Jaehyun asked for the bill before they told them that everything had been paid upfront.

 

And now as he drove back home alone, his eyes slammed shut for a second recalling Juyeon leaning so close to him -eyes fleeting between his orbs and lips as he complimented Jaehyun under the dim lighting of their shared hotel suite where bright lights only came in dots of yellow, from the room massive windows.

 

Juyeon said Jaehyun was nice, Jaehyun was pretty, before leaning forward and kissed him on the lips because Jaehyun had willingly given Juyeon a chance to choose on where he wanted to kiss Jaehyun.

 

Of course Jaehyun remembered.

 

The memory didn't come as soon as he woke up. Nor a week after that. It came rushing back when Jaehyun was shouting in a Monday meeting.

 

His eyes had spotted Juyeon walking out from one of the small meeting room in his oversized Christian Dior and Peter Doig Zipped Hooded Blouson, draped over a yellow Louis Vuitton short.

 

He remembered scowling, wondering if Juyeon couldn't really feel the biting cold the season was bringing. Jaehyun recalled how he made a mental note to give Juyeon a piece of his mind, before maybe buying him something warmer to wear.

 

Yet as soon as the word warm flew on his mind, Jaehyun found his head being bombarded by how Juyeon’s warm perfume filled his nose as the man leaned forward. His head brought a memory for Jaehyun to recollect, about how soft Juyeon’s lips felt across his cheek. About how Juyeon had said he would go and see the sun set if Jaehyun had asked him too.

 

The images of what happened were bright and vivid. Jaehyun could almost see how delicate Juyeon’s gazes were that night. Could almost taste the hesitant yet sure way Juyeon had kissed his lips that night. Juyeon was careful with him. Juyeon treated him so gently and Jaehyun’s ribcage began to trash when he finally retrieved everything he felt, that he somehow forgotten along with his inebriated brain.

 

Jaehyun recognized the ramming beats of his heart, the melting of frame when Juyeon pushed forward softly -placing his hand on Jaehyun’s waist to pull him in closer. Jaehyun had felt like he was being dotted, pampered under Juyeon’s benign affections and sweet affinity through the way he kissed Jaehyun.

 

Everything came hard and fast and Jaehyun’s yell inside the meeting room had long faltering -feet tripping back as his stomach lurched at the hesitant thin smile the Juyeon in his memory had given him after their kiss.

 

Changmin and Chanhee had screamed and jumped on their feet to catch Jaehyun in time before he would fall down on his feet. His own name along with questions if he was okay filled his ears in a buzz. But Jaehyun was too busy avoiding Juyeon’s turn of head at the commotion.

 

Jaehyun had thought that Juyeon didn't remember.

 

Jaehyun had thought that Juyeon too, had been drunk.

 

So Jaehyun paid no heed to everything Juyeon had done for him -thinking it was only because they were both fell victim as the broken hearted.

 

Now Jaehyun’s heart tumbled thinking about all the things Juyeon did for him quietly whether it was saving him or comforting him.

 

His lungs now struggled to breathe because as Jaehyun listened to Juyeon’s raw confession, as he had Juyeon sitting in front of him just now -explaining the feelings he had been harbouring for Jaehyun, Jaehyun’s brain still run in the same old circuit of seeking protection because he felt too vulnerable hearing Juyeon’s transparent honesty.

 

Jaehyun felt like running to Sangyeon.

 

His heart was tripping trying to reach for Sangyeon asking protection because even though Juyeon was the one baring everything out on the line for Jaehyun to acknowledge, Jaehyun’s heart was floundering wildly like it was the one being stripped naked.

 

So Jaehyun had to squeeze his knees tight back at the restaurant -making sure his fingers were busy in order not to reach out to his phone and called Sangyeon immediately.

 

Juyeon looked hurt and Jaehyun hated it.

 

Jaehyun could see right through Juyeon’s tender smile that he was pained. It scared Jaehyun out of his wits. This wasn't supposed to happen, but it did, and Jaehyun wasn't prepared for it. His car went pass a red light and a loud horn pierced through the almost empty street. Aiming at him and his careless driving.

 

His eyes widened before his whole frame trembled in absolute fright. Jaehyun’s heart almost leapt out of his chest as he slowly reversing and decided to go into the nearest street parking spot.

 

Then he gripped his steering wheel tight and put his forehead on the back of his hands -eyes screwing shut because the back of his head wouldn't stop pounding.

 

Jaehyun’s shaking fingers reached toward his car’s display screen.

 

Pressing one.

 

And then call.

 

“Jaehyun?”

 

His voice was stuck at the back of his throat and Jaehyun’s whimper came out in a choking sob, “Help me.”

 

“Tell me where you are and I’ll come to you.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

08 – Runn(in)g Out

 

 

The scenery had long went to a still frame.

 

Jaehyun kept his eyes outside the window of his car -hands turned into fists when the bridge of his nose went too warm for his liking, pressing his lids tight afraid he would burst into tears because the warmth of Sangyeon’s perfume was too familiar as it filled his car, his nose, his head, as the man himself was sitting beside him on the driver’s seat of Jaehyun’s car.

 

It didn't even take Sangyeon more than fifteen minutes before he arrived in his own car to where Jaehyun was, after Jaehyun called him asking to be saved so desperately. Sangyeon didn't ask if something was wrong, or what happened. He just asked Jaehyun’s whereabout before telling Jaehyun to not end the call so he could stay with him. Sangyeon had left his car where Jaehyun parked his, before taking over Jaehyun’s car and drove him back home.

 

And it felt too cruel because the man Jaehyun tried so hard to forget, was horribly thoughtful and understanding. If Jaehyun was Sangyeon, he wouldn't want anything to do with someone who selfishly did and said whatever they wanted just because their feelings went unreciprocated.

 

But Sangyeon was always the loving one. Always giving and gracious with his comfort.

 

Jaehyun had loved him because of it. But now it had become a menace on Jaehyun’s struggle to run away from his love for Sangyeon.

 

“I have loved you,” and it broke his heart when he could sense the way Sangyeon tensed up even though Jaehyun was turning his back on him, “For a little too long now.”

 

His heart betrayed him as Jaehyun’s chest pricked -words that were leaving his lips were spluttered because the constriction induced a sharp intake of painful breath, “I waited. I keep waiting for you but you never came. You never show up to pick up my heart that has been waiting for you.”

 

“You see I thought back then,” Jaehyun straightened up trying to seek strength, only to find that he was not stable enough to have one. So Jaehyun’s neck bent down and let his eyes fell on his lap, “It was just a stupid crush. Because you’re- you’re so-“ the images of Sangyeon smiling so benignly at him back in their university years flashed without mercy across Jaehyun’s mind, “You’re everything I’ve ever wanted. But then as the realization dawned on me, that you’re the only thing I want-“

 

And it was so selfish of Jaehyun to be doing this to Sangyeon. Yet Jaehyun couldn't stop it, thinking he had the right because he had been so selfless for all this time. Jaehyun just wanted to be heard.

 

“I know that my feelings for you, isn’t as simple as a clueless junior falling for their senior.”

 

“And even back when I still didn't know about you and Younghoon,” the sentence brought pains to his wrenching heart, “I already have it hard. Because you’re so close, so within reach,” Jaehyun put pressure on his fingers, “But too far for me to actually touch.”

 

“My heart is still waiting at the door Sangyeon,” Jaehyun crouched forward as his back bent on its own will, praying it could stop his heart from crying, “It still staring outside wondering when will you come to pick it up, no matter how much I tell them to stop.”

 

“If I could,” his shoulder started to shake along with his pitiful whimpers, “Then I would plead for you to take my love. That it always has been for you to have. I would beg for you to take it. I‘d beg for you to just take it. Please.”

 

Jaehyun too, confessed, “I resented Younghoon so much because I always felt like he took away the chance of being with you, away from me,” but it wasn't like that and Jaehyun knew it, “But if you had loved me, like how much I love you-“ Jaehyun mourned his and Sangyeon’s reality that were too far apart, “Then Younghoon would never have that chance. The bitter truth is just that I never really have the chance to have your heart right from the start.”

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

His frame and head snapped up at the sound of his name rolling out of Sangyeon’s lips. Jaehyun’s heaving chest went up in distress as he stared Sangyeon down. For the first time looking at Sangyeon in the eyes. Hating the fact that Sangyeon had looked morose.

 

“You told me to promise and let you know if something, anything is getting too hard to bear,” Jaehyun squeezed his eyes shut -covering it with his hands, “So here I am letting you know that I’m so in love with you and it’s so hard for me.”

 

Jaehyun opened his eyes and got his heart screaming in torment from seeing Sangyeon’s crestfallen gaze, “You said you will be sad if I struggle all by myself. Are you sad now? For me?”

 

“Or was it just a lie?” the choked sobs made his stomach lurched because when Jaehyun broke down, Sangyeon would usually come to hug him, offered him his kind arms and shoulder as a place for Jaehyun to let his frustration out.

 

But Sangyeon did none of that now. And Jaehyun knew it was only because he knew about Jaehyun’s feelings for him.

 

So loyal. So stupidly loyal to Younghoon.

 

To Younghoon and not to Jaehyun.

 

Never Jaehyun.

 

“I’ll do whatever you want me to do Jaehyun,” Sangyeon took off his seatbelt like he was ready to leave if Jaehyun told him to. Ready to stop looking or talking to Jaehyun like he never knew him if Jaehyun had asked him too. Ready to throw their years of close friendship out the door if Jaehyun wanted to, “Anything for you.”

 

But those were not things Jaehyun wanted from Sangyeon. It never were.

 

Jaehyun was hapless, so miserable as he whispered desperately -praying for nothing, “Will you love me back if I ask you to?”

 

The thin smile grazing Sangyeon’s lips almost made Jaehyun assumed that Sangyeon would.

 

But then again, the smile was too sad, too painful, too sombre to make Jaehyun believed his prayer would be answered according to his will.

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

 

***

 

 

“One more night,” Jaehyun whispered to himself quietly -sitting on top of his bed, facing the window he just opened up earlier.

 

His cream coloured curtain moved sensually against the windowsill as the night wind went passed it -reaching to where Jaehyun was seated as it sent shivers to his skin.

 

“One more night,” Jaehyun let out a shaky smile, making a promise to himself.

 

So Jaehyun let his neck bent down, letting his back lurched forward as he cried over Sangyeon.

 

So Jaehyun let himself grieved, wailing over Sangyeon.

 

Jaehyun let himself missed the warmth of Sangyeon’s touch of consolation and support. Jaehyun let himself missed the affection of doting dancing in Sangyeon’s eyes as he gazed back at Jaehyun. Jaehyun shed tears for the thought of how he was Sangyeon’s only favourite, that was only a mere memory now.

 

“One last time,” Jaehyun choked between his tears, spelling empty promises under the darkness of his bedroom, under the truth that Sangyeon was always there, but would never love Jaehyun like how Jaehyun wanted him to.

 

 

***

 

 

“Can you please give me a reason on why not to?” Jacob glanced up from his paper before running his fingers through his hair.

 

Juyeon fidgeted in front of Jacob’s desk. This was unprofessional of him to feel and ask, but Juyeon was just pushing his luck.

 

When Haknyeon emailed him about his weekly schedule, Juyeon frowned seeing his name alongside Younghoon together. Apparently to attend an annual mode meeting outside of town. It was a one day business trip. He thought Haknyeon had made a mistake, but the later just shrugged and said that Jacob told him to.

 

So here he was -tongue tied because he couldn't really tell Jacob about the complicated relationship of him and Younghoon, that made Juyeon didn't want to go.

 

“If you can give me a reasonable justification, I’ll send Sangyeon instead of you.”

 

“Why don’t you just send Sangyeon as usual?”

 

“Because I’m sending Sangyeon to meetings only I usually attend. I’m trying to give him more, as much as I want to give you more.”

 

“Of course.”

 

“We’re really trying to expand Juyeon, and in order to do that, we have to at least cover all the fashion part of our sports magazine. This meeting is important. I believe you’ll behave, and Younghoon is there so I ain’t even worry.”

 

Juyeon involuntarily let a small smile slipped.

 

“What is it?” Jacob smiled back at him, “You’re happy to have more responsibilities?”

 

“It’s just- you’re always so fond of Younghoon sometimes I think he was the one working here.”

 

“Well he was supposed to be mine,” Jacob frowned as his eyes narrowed.

 

“Oh?”

 

“And Sangyeon was supposed to be Kevin’s.”

 

“Really?” Juyeon’s eyebrows shot up at the new information.

 

“No words truer than that. Kevin wouldn't stop giving me sticks saying I could never mentor Sangyeon as well as he would. Saying I would just waste Sangyeon’s raw talent. Kevin likes Sangyeon a lot.”

 

“I mean, if you two has your own preferences, why not just follow it?”

 

“Daddy thought-“

 

Daddy. Of course.

 

“It would be best for us to work with someone a little bit different from us. We’ll always learn something new from them,” and Jacob just shrugged it out like he really did agree with what his father had said.

 

Juyeon could see where daddy- he meant, where Jacob and Kevin’s father coming from. So he laid his eyes on Jacob’s office floor.

 

“Now, tell me why you don't want to go.”

 

“I never said that,” Juyeon grumbled.

 

“Really?” Jacob sounded amused.

 

“I said,” he emphasized, “’Jacob, why are you sending me to this very important one day trip meeting?’”

 

“Yeah, that sounds a lot like you don't want to go.”

 

“I’ll behave,” Juyeon gave a polite bow, hearing Jacob’s amused chuckle before taking his leave.

 

And as he walked out, he could see from the distance that Jaehyun was walking out from one of the meeting room, followed by Chanhee and Changmin who were busy showing him bulky reports -seemingly demanding for Jaehyun’s undivided attention.

 

Juyeon stretched his fingers to let go of his nerves. Walking toward his own office, Juyeon sat down on his sofa after taking one package of his snack stacks for a quick lunch.

 

He hadn’t had the chance to talk with Jaehyun after he confessed. Juyeon wasn’t specifically avoiding him, but both magazines had been very busy at the beginning of the year to make sure their year-end resolutions would start taking place. So Juyeon just let out a small smile when their eyes met for the first time after Juyeon told Jaehyun that he had feelings for the man. Jaehyun looked unsure, but smiling back nonetheless.

 

They nodded in acknowledgement, openly having a discussion when merging meetings between the two magazines occurred, and it felt sort of polite and business like.

 

Maybe that was the only difference from before Juyeon telling Jaehyun about his growing feelings for Jaehyun. They didn't spend time together again. They didn't spend more time alone when no one was around again. And they hadn’t gotten any chance to talk face to face, with just the two of them.

 

It felt sad. Juyeon couldn't lie and said that he was absolutely fine. But maybe he did the right thing by letting Jaehyun knew. Because even though his feelings were not being reciprocated, Juyeon didn't have much remorse like how he felt when Younghoon turned him down.

 

Juyeon still felt a painful thud ramming against his ribcage sometimes when he caught a glimpse of Jaehyun. Juyeon still spaced out sometimes when his mind started trailing on the time he and Jaehyun spent together back then. Juyeon still tasted bitterness and woes when his head decided to remind him that Jaehyun would never look his way.

 

But Juyeon liked Jaehyun as a friend too. He had enjoyed Jaehyun’s loud and brash company. Jaehyun’s encouraging grins and pats on the back. Juyeon had his fun spending time with Jaehyun, so if Jaehyun would allow him, Juyeon wanted them to keep being friends.

 

It was weird Juyeon thought to himself as he tore the packaging of his snack. In another perspective, Juyeon should be the one deciding if he still wanted them to be friends. But maybe Jaehyun had too much of an impact-

 

“Let. Me. Take. That. Away from you.”

 

Juyeon bit to nothing. His lips opening dumbly when he found Youngjae standing in front of him -snatching the snack out of his grasp.

 

“That’s my lunch,” Juyeon groaned, “Give it back Youngjae.”

 

“No. Juyeon please eat real food.”

 

“I will. I just need to snack first.”

 

Youngjae gave him a pointed stare.

 

“I have real food,” he protested, “For your information, I bought lots of frozen-“

 

“Yeah, Younghoon threw that out a week ago.”

 

“What?!! How dare he?!!” Juyeon got up from his seat, “That’s my food!!”

 

“You should thank him. Juyeon you didn't even touch them for months and it was so rotten, Kevin thought it was one of Jacob’s evil plan to distract Haut Monde from doing their jobs.”

 

Juyeon did buy them four months ago.

 

Youngjae gave out a long sigh, “Look, we just refill the Power Bowls in the pantry. Go get some.”

 

“That’s a waste of time-“

 

“You spend exactly twenty four minutes and twelve seconds, zoning out on our Friday meeting last week.”

 

“I did not, fuck!!” Juyeon spluttered indignantly.

 

“Yeah, Sunwoo and I kind of counted with Sangyeon’s new Patek Philippe’s watch. Neat.”

 

“You two should really pay more attention when a meeting is in progress-“ Juyeon was quick on shutting his trap because right, he too, was not giving a good example by letting his mind being occupied by Jaehyun on some of the meetings he begrudgingly had to admit.

 

“Come again?” Youngjae snickered, “Now go. We hate when you are useless out of hungriness.”

 

Although grouching, Juyeon finally stepped inside the office pantry.

 

Like it was meant to be -Juyeon thought bitingly, Jaehyun was also inside the empty pantry. It was the first time they were placed inside a same space with no one else but them two.

 

Jaehyun blinked once and tugged his lips carefully -offering a hesitant smile.

 

Juyeon cleared his throat and smiled back, “Hi.”

 

“Hi,” Jaehyun answered back softly -looking a little taken aback at Juyeon’s attempt of conversations.

 

“How are things?”

 

“As usual,” Jaehyun fiddled -wiping his palms on his perfectly ironed trousers, “How are you?”

 

“Nothing much,” he shrugged hoping to show indifference.

 

“Right.”

 

“Right.”

 

The silence after that was unavoidable. So Juyeon braved himself after an agonizing minute, “I’ll be having my lunch.”

 

“Oh, yeah, okay,” nodding fast, Jaehyun scratched the back of his head, “I’ll- yeah, okay.”

 

So Juyeon pretended he understood what Jaehyun was talking about by nodding before turning away toward the huge fridge -taking out one of his favourite Power Bowls, heating them and opened one of the top cabinet doors to take his coffee mug that he hadn’t use for a long time since he usually bought his coffee from the coffee shop downstairs, as he waited for his lunch to heat up.

 

He saw a snake inside it.

 

“Fuck!!” he yelled so hard his throat hurt.

 

“What?!! What?!!” Jaehyun screamed along with him.

 

Juyeon threw his mug to the floor, “Snake!! Snake!!” his screech went along with the sound of his shattering mug. Favourite mug.

 

“Fuck!! Fuck!!” Jaehyun freaked out as he jumped on top of the nearest chair, “What the fuck Juyeon?!!”

 

“I don’t know!!” Juyeon howled back, “The mugs mine but the snake is not!!”

 

“What kind of dumb- fuck!!” Jaehyun’s eyes widened when his eyes caught the snake between the broken glasses, “Snake!! Take it away Juyeon!! Take it away from here!!”

 

“What the fuck Jaehyun!!” Juyeon also found himself standing in one of the chair, “You do it!!”

 

“The snake is in your mug!! It’s in your mug-“ but Jaehyun started faltering before reducing his tone into a mumble, “A snake, inside your mug.”

 

Jaehyun went down on the floor and Juyeon almost screamed because it was too dangerous, when he then saw Jaehyun picking up the snake.

 

A wiggling plastic snake.

 

“Is everything alright?!!”

 

Jaehyun was quick on dismissing Changmin, “Yes um. It’s fine.”

 

Juyeon didn't even realize there were crowds already outside the open pantry, watching them with wide eyes.

 

In moments like this, Juyeon couldn't be happier to see Jaehyun snarling out on the staffs -telling them to leave and better do their fucking job, or else Jaehyun would give them a warning letter for slacking off and inappropriately watched over their supervisors like a personal entertainment.

 

Juyeon’s satisfied smug grin when he saw the crowd disperse, soon turned into a scowl as he glanced back at a rather guilty looking Jaehyun.

 

“Care to explain?” Juyeon crossed his arms.

 

“I put the plastic snake in your mug.”

 

“You what?!” Juyeon hissed in dismay, annoyance was building in his chest.

 

“I’m sorry,” Jaehyun pulled his face into a grimace, “I’m sorry. I thought it would be fun-“

 

“You dumb-“

 

“I stole it from my niece-“

 

“Fucking hell-“

 

“Because I thought it would be fun to prank you,” Jaehyun wailed without a tear, “We were still talking back then. I promise it was before we stop talking to each other. I forgot about it. I’m sorry.”

 

Juyeon’s chest squeezed at Jaehyun’s words he just said out loud. Jaehyun had thought they were not going to talk anymore.

 

“Who said we’re not talking to each other?” Juyeon sighed and bowed politely when one of the cleaning facility management showed up to brush the mess Juyeon just made.

 

He said his apology and gratitude -receiving an understanding smile in return, before dragging Jaehyun to the long communal dining table.

 

“Well you never talk to me again.”

 

“I smile at you?”

 

“But that’s it, isn’t it?” Jaehyun kept wailing -looking more petulant than Youngjae could ever be.

 

Like he was upset about the fact that they were not talking anymore. Or so Jaehyun had thought.

 

“We never have a conversation anymore. You just smile and then leave. And I have no right to be sad about it because you have the right to do it.”

 

Juyeon peered at the way Jaehyun clenched the plastic snake tight within his grasp. Breathing out a small frustration, Juyeon carefully took the toy out from Jaehyun’s hand and put it inside his blazer pocket.

 

“Jaehyun.”

 

“What~” Jaehyun’s wail got louder.

 

“Stop wailing.”

 

“Okay,” Jaehyun sniffled -stopping immediately.

 

“You-“ and Juyeon had to bite down his laugh because he couldn’t stop thinking about how impossibly adorable Jaehyun was, “Look. I said what I said. I don't regret it.”

 

Jaehyun glanced up at him.

 

“That doesn't mean we can’t be- we can’t talk anymore. With each other.”

 

“Don’t you hate me?”

 

“A little yes.”

 

“I’m sorry~” Jaehyun’s high pitched dry sob made Juyeon slammed his eyes shut in irritation.

 

“Jaehyun.”

 

“Okay,” Jaehyun sniffled again. Stopping as soon as Juyeon told him to.

 

Adorable little shit.

 

“Disappointed might be a better word rather than hate,” Juyeon sighed, “I am disappointed about it. But that’s it, isn’t it?”

 

And Jaehyun stared back at him in wonder. Lips parting, eyes wide like he couldn't comprehend everything Juyeon just told him.

 

“People eventually, will have to move on.”

 

And Jaehyun had looked like he was about to say something before deciding not to.

 

“So we,” Juyeon pointed his index finger back and forth between him and Jaehyun, “Can still talk to each other.”

 

Jaehyun blinked.

 

“Okay?”

 

“Okay.”

 

Jaehyun’s answer was docile.

 

After all that talk that made him -to Juyeon’s own opinion, seemed cool, Juyeon still found himself turning awkward at the growing silence.

 

He was about to leave when Jaehyun broke the quietude.

 

“Do you- can you come with me to my office?” Jaehyun asked in questioning eyes.

 

“Sure,” he felt bewildered at the request but followed behind when Jaehyun started to walk and led them both inside his office.

 

Juyeon looked around because he didn't know what to do and Jaehyun pulled out one of his desk drawers and took a small book that looked like-

 

“Here,” Jaehyun stretched his hand out -giving Juyeon the thing he was holding.

 

“This is a bankbook.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“What?” Juyeon scrunched his forehead in confusion, “Why are you giving me your bankbook?”

 

“It’s not mine.”

 

“It’s not?”

 

Jaehyun shrugged, “It’s yours.”

 

“Er, no it’s not,” but when Juyeon opened it, it got his name on it, “What the fuck Jaehyun?”

 

“It’s for that dinner.”

 

“What dinner?”

 

“That dinner,” Jaehyun murmured, “I was supposed to pay for it, but you had paid it upfront.”

 

Fucking hell. Juyeon then found his signature in the bankbook, “How the fuck do you even get my signature?!!”

 

“Haknyeon helped Chanhee making this account for you. I don't know how they did it-“

 

“No stop it. Let me get this straight,” Juyeon’s head pounded, he was about to have a migraine, “You want to pay for the dinner-“

 

“Well I was supposed to be the one paying for it!!”

 

“And then when you can just-“ Juyeon gritted his teeth, “Transferred it to my account, you decided to make a new bank account under my name-“

 

“It’s not that complicated-“

 

“And!!” Juyeon barked because he wasn't finished, “Doing it by faking my signature!!”

 

“Like I said, it’s not that complicated-“

 

“Fuck,” Juyeon then remembered the weird conversation he had with Sunwoo a week ago, “Is this why Sunwoo asked me whether I decided not to wear a wedding ring?”

 

“Um,” Jaehyun frowned -guilty, “The kids did think we’re getting married because I told them I have your permission to open a new bank account for you-“

 

“Jaehyun you’re so dumb!!”

 

A disbelief gasp came out dramatically, “Take that back!! How am I supposed to pay you back for the dinner you paid, that I was supposed to pay?!!”

 

“You can just ask for my account number!!”

 

“But we weren’t talking to each other!!”

 

“You-“ Juyeon stopped his hands before it could reach out to choke Jaehyun, “This,” he shook the bankbook in front of Jaehyun’s face, “Is dumb.”

 

“Well it is if you can’t even use it, because I haven’t give you the card yet!!” Jaehyun pulled out a debit card from his pocket.

 

“No-“

 

But Juyeon wasn't able to finish his sentence when Jaehyun suddenly let out a piercing scream as he put his hand inside Juyeon’s blazer pocket to put the debit card inside forcefully.

 

“What the fuck?!! What is this slimy thing?!! Snake!! Why would you have a snake in your-“

 

Juyeon was safe to say, unimpressed.

 

 

***

 

 

And Juyeon bit the corner of his bottom lip hard in contemplation.

 

He spent more than an hour now looking at Jaehyun’s name on his phone screen. Pushing and pulling the idea of calling.

 

Was he hurting himself like this?

 

Because Juyeon despite everything, wanted to keep Jaehyun in his life. Despite the obvious signs of how much he was still infatuated with Jaehyun, Juyeon didn't want to stop spending time with Jaehyun, talking to Jaehyun.

 

If Juyeon just forget about how the door to Jaehyun’s heart had been locked for everyone but Sangyeon, Juyeon thought maybe he could handle just being friends with Jaehyun.

 

Juyeon promised himself not to ask for more. Not to make Jaehyun uncomfortable with Juyeon’s feelings for him.

 

So he pressed call.

 

“Hello~”

 

Juyeon’s eyes slammed shut, lips folding tight in a weak attempt not to chuckle fondly at Jaehyun’s cheerful tone over the line.

 

“I need your help.”

 

“Okay~”

 

“When someone ask you a favour, you should ask for what Jaehyun. What if they ask you to join a cult?”

 

“Have you been binge watching that new show on Netflix with Changmin?”

 

Juyeon rolled his eyes affectionately, “Yes.”

 

“What can I help you with Juyeon~”

 

“Can you come over to my place?”

 

“Okay~”

 

“Tomorrow morning?”

 

“I’ll see you then~”

 

Juyeon put his phone down on top of his bed and groaned out the abundant feeling of adoring blooming inside his heart for Jaehyun, that had formed itself into such a helpless smile.

 

Juyeon would do anything.

 

Anything to keep sweet Jaehyun around.

 

Anything to have Jaehyun be comfortable around him again, even when Jaehyun would never return his feelings at the end of everything.

 

 

***

 

 

Jaehyun fiddled right in front of Juyeon’s door.

 

Slamming his eyes shut, he groaned internally about how stupid he had been for agreeing to Juyeon’s request of help. Jaehyun liked helping people. Juyeon helped him a lot, so Jaehyun too -if given a chance, would love to give a hand to Juyeon.

 

But not at Juyeon’s place on Saturday morning where they would spend time together just by themselves.

 

Jaehyun flinched recalling the phone call he had with Juyeon last night.

 

He was surprised seeing Juyeon’s name on his phone screen.

 

You see, Jaehyun understood. If Juyeon didn't want to talk to him again, or didn't even want to see his face again. Jaehyun had told himself he would understand.

 

It made him sad if Jaehyun were to speak very frankly, because Juyeon had been a pretty constant presence after everything that had happened. Jaehyun liked having Juyeon by his side -knowing that he wasn't actually alone suffering in a love that was unrequited. Jaehyun liked knowing he had Juyeon to lean on, and that Jaehyun too, could be someone Juyeon could depend on.

 

He got way too comfortable with Juyeon, that when it was obvious to him Juyeon decided to stop talking to him altogether -in which he absolutely had the right to, Jaehyun kept finding himself glancing at Juyeon’s part of the office. Jaehyun kept hoping he would catch Juyeon’s eyes so he could return the smiles Juyeon threw at him sometimes.

 

Maybe Juyeon wasn't as heartless as Jaehyun thought he would be after the confession. It really caught him off guard the first time Juyeon gave him a tiny smile after what happened between them. Jaehyun wondered if it would be alright for him to return it. That day, Jaehyun had spent his night tossing and turning on his bed feeling giddy at the small friendly gesture Juyeon gave him, after Jaehyun thought there would be no way for them both to speak to each other again.

 

So when Juyeon said they could still be friends, Jaehyun felt like a lot of weight had been lifted from his shoulder. Making his chest sing, prancing in delight as it brought hums throughout Jaehyun’s week and weekend.

 

So when Juyeon called him, Jaehyun was left genuinely surprised as he leapt from his living room sofa to answer the call on his tripping feet. Making him giddy, his voice overly lively -agreeing to Juyeon’s request without hearing it first, without thinking about it first.

 

It had been such a long time since he spoke to Juyeon, and Jaehyun was just glad that it was over now.

 

Jaehyun looked down on the shopping bag he held with his right hand. He had bought five of the exact same mug Juyeon shattered when he saw Jaehyun’s plastic snake inside of it. Jaehyun still felt bad two days after that, so he decided to order the same mug -telling the store clerk to wrap them nicely and put them in the fanciest shopping bag the store had.

 

He was elated this morning, swaying from left to right as he showered, playing his favourite playlist inside his car on the way to Juyeon’s place, and stepped inside Juyeon’s building in an animated glitz of eyes. The security guy even gave him a salute when Jaehyun said he wanted to go up to Juyeon’s unit -saying he would just let Jaehyun in without calling Juyeon’s first.

 

But now as he stood in front of Juyeon’s door, Jaehyun’s heart begun to be filled with doubt.

 

Jaehyun had been so excited about seeing Juyeon again, that he forgot about Juyeon’s confession to him in the first place. He then questioned himself if this was a good decision on his part, to be-

 

“Are you coming in or not?”

 

Jaehyun blinked.

 

What?

 

“You literally have been standing in front of my door for a whole eight minutes now.”

 

Jaehyun gasped -quickly crossing his arms over his shoulder to protect himself, when he realized it was Juyeon’s voice from the other side of the door, “Have you been peeping at me through your peep hole?!!”

 

“You’ve-“

 

“The uncouthness!!”

 

“Fucking hell Jaehyun,” Juyeon sounded annoyed as the door then swung open, “I can see your shadow hovering right under the door from my living room.”

 

Jaehyun scowled and narrowed his eyes. He got no excuse, “You said you need my help. Here I am. Rather than being welcomed warmly-“

 

“Get in.”

 

“Okay~” Jaehyun hopped in and took his time looking around Juyeon’s apartment.

 

The last time he was here, Jaehyun was breaking down in tears so he didn't really pay attention. He was too busy grieving over Sangyeon- over Sangyeon’s-

 

“Thank you for coming,” Juyeon’s murmur cut Jaehyun’s train of thoughts.

 

“No problem,” Jaehyun put the shopping bag on top of Juyeon’s coffee table.

 

Juyeon was staring at him unsurely and Jaehyun return the same sentiment. The ticking of clock that was placed on top of Juyeon’s TV panel filled the somehow fervent quietude. Jaehyun was the first one to break the eye contact to look at Juyeon’s nice carpet beneath him.

 

“Nice carpet,” he mumbled dumbly.

 

“Sunwoo puked on them once.”

 

“What?” Jaehyun whispered in disbelief.

 

Juyeon just shrugged before pointing his thumb to one of the closed door, “Let’s go to my bedroom.”

 

“What?” Jaehyun whispered in disbelief -this time accompanied with rushing of bloods that made his veins beat wildly, “Why?”

 

“Get your mind out of the gutter,” but Juyeon rolled his eyes jokingly, chuckling to himself, “You know your way around suits. So I need your opinion.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“If you don't think it's a good idea and want to run away, you can still go now.”

 

“No, no,” Jaehyun found himself shaking his head frighteningly fast, “Why would I do that. Of course I’ll help you. Let’s go to um- your um- um-” he licked his lips nervously, “Um-“

 

Juyeon raised an amused brow, “Bedroom?”

 

“Yes!! Yes. Such a big and fancy word that is,” Jaehyun gulped, “Bedroom.”

 

Jaehyun had gone moronic and he hated himself for it.

 

And he knew Juyeon was pressing a laugh by puffing his cheek and turning around to open the door to his- his…bedroom.

 

His feet were frozen in place and he must have taken such a long time because Juyeon’s head appeared by the sill, “Do you want to come in?”

 

“Yes!!” that sounded way too enthusiastic. If he could, Jaehyun would smack his palm over his forehead.

 

“Maybe you know, you can start moving your legs-“

 

“Of course. I know how to walk,” so he huffed to conceal his nerve and embarrassment.

 

To be polite, Jaehyun tried not to look around Juyeon’s bedroom and strode toward Juyeon immediately.

 

“Let’s see what you have,” Jaehyun offered in a smile -hoping it didn't come out shaky.

 

“Yes but um,” yet Juyeon had cleared his throat -blinking at him, “You can maybe step back a little so I can move around.”

 

Oh. Maybe Jaehyun stood too close. Okay. Okay. He took three steps back and-

 

“You can sit on my bed-“

 

“What?” widening his eyes in horror, Jaehyun’s throat felt way too parched for his liking.

 

Juyeon sighed, “Jaehyun, the door is open. I’m not going to jump on you and I promise I won’t-“

 

“No!!” damn he got squeaky there, “Look, look,” Jaehyun chest heaved feeling unreasonably breathless, “I’m sitting. Look,” he made his point by quickly sitting on Juyeon’s bed -nose suddenly filled with such warm and dainty perfume coming from Juyeon’s duvet, “I’m fine. Shall we?”

 

“Help me pick a suit.”

 

“Such Gentlefolk’s brute of a request.”

 

Laughing good naturedly, Juyeon opened one of his huge wardrobe door and Jaehyun was met with rows of suits.

 

“It’s not like you don't know how to dress yourself,” Jaehyun tried to make himself more comfortable as he carefully eyed Juyeon’s suit options, “You got so dressed up on Wonho’s shoot.”

 

And Jaehyun had to bite down a scoff that was hanging at the back of his throat. It felt like jealousy-

 

No. No it was not.

 

“Wonho gifted that suit for me-“

 

“He what?!!” Jaehyun got up from the comfort of Juyeon’s bed -scowling now, “The nerve!!”

 

“What nerve?” Juyeon’s brows raised innocently.

 

Such a terrible man.

 

So Jaehyun placed himself beside Juyeon, “Which one was it again?”

 

“What do you mean-“

 

“The one Wonho gifted you,” Jaehyun replied impatiently between gritting teeth.

 

“That one- hey!!”

 

“You’re definitely not wearing this tacky one,” Jaehyun grumbled as he pulled out the suit Juyeon pointed out and threw it carelessly on top of Juyeon’s armchair near the window.

 

He got back to his position from before -sitting on top of Juyeon’s bed.

 

“Now, where were we again?” he smiled winningly at Juyeon’s frowning face.

 

“Other than rudely tossing such an expensive suit, you haven’t really made yourself useful.”

 

“Oh please. This is easy Juyeon. I wore suit 24/7 even when I sleep-“

 

“No you’re not-“

 

“Whatever,” rolling his eyes, Jaehyun crossed his arms in front of his chest, “That one’s a William Westmancott Bespoke, right?”

 

“Right, yeah,” Juyeon took out the expensive suit Jaehyun just mentioned out of his wardrobe.

 

“Nothing screams unnecessarily posh like that one. Can you please wear them so I can see if it fits well on your frame?”

 

“I have to wear it?”

 

“Yes. Completely with everything,” Jaehyun shrugged, “You can wear the most expensive suit in the world, but if it doesn't fit your frame, you’re just going to look like you don't belong in it.”

 

“A true Haut Monde, aren’t you?” Juyeon let out a small laugh, “Sure. Wait here.”

 

Jaehyun gave a nod as he watched Juyeon disappeared into his presumably en-suite.

 

As he waited, Jaehyun got up and walked toward Juyeon’s work desk near the window. Juyeon was clearly a neat person. He could tell Juyeon was in the middle of working because everything was spread across the desk, yet they were all scattered in such an organized way.

 

A small smile grazed Jaehyun’s lips as his eyes caught the colourful binder that listed off Juyeon’s weekly schedule. Jaehyun’s eyes caught something. Mode Meeting? But that was-

 

“Is this alright?” Juyeon was busy buttoning the suit as he finally got out.

 

Jaehyun turned toward him and started looking at the way Juyeon’s frame fit the suit. Juyeon looked incredibly handsome Jaehyun admitted internally.

 

He was almost as tall as Juyeon. But Juyeon was built different. Juyeon had longer arms, longer legs, smaller waist that just emphasized his already wide shoulder.

 

“You look great,” Jaehyun breathed softly.

 

And maybe the way he said it, or the sentence itself, got Juyeon looking flustered. Jaehyun put his gaze down -noticing the way Juyeon’s chest went up a little sucking in a breath.

 

“The suit looks great on you,” Jaehyun bit his bottom lip that started to tremble before deciding to speak up -glancing at Juyeon as he asked, “Where are you going anyway? To be choosing a suit so carefully.”

 

“What?” Juyeon’s question was barely above a whisper.

 

Jaehyun didn't want to repeat himself, “You heard me,” because his ribcage was closing down on him-

 

“Jacob’s sending me to attend the annual Mode Meeting,” Juyeon’s answer was careful.

 

“The usual outside of town?”

 

“A one day business trip.”

 

“Is Sangyeon unavailable?”

 

“Jacob’s sending him to another meeting.”

 

“Right,” Jaehyun’s lips formed a small strained smile as he looked back down on his feet, “So you’re going instead.”

 

Jaehyun hated whatever feeling it was that begun to fill his narrowing chest. The drop his stomach did was dizzying. The way his heart somehow fell into an unknown territory felt too confusing for Jaehyun. It hurt and Jaehyun could almost feel it physically -judging from the way he kept wanting to bend forward to repel the feeling away.

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

He felt like fleeing. Jaehyun didn't want to be here anymore because he couldn't stop the prickling happening behind his eyes. It absolutely made no sense and Jaehyun wanted to be alone.

 

“I think this is the best one you have within your collection,” so when he glanced back up at Juyeon, Jaehyun made sure he put the best smile he could muster, “It’ll fit the occasion too.”

 

“Hey-“

 

“I should probably leave,” and he hid his hands behind him. Jaehyun walked backward toward Juyeon’s bedroom door and offered an apologetic kind of smile this time -lying through his teeth, “I have plans so.”

 

Juyeon who had been trying to talk to him, now closed his lips tight -watching him silently from where he was standing and Jaehyun really hated how he could see pained perplexity etched on Juyeon’s face.

 

But Jaehyun felt too suffocated. Jaehyun didn't know what he should do with the unfamiliar screaming his heart did when he knew what this was all about. Why Juyeon would be so fussy about the suit he was going to wear.

 

“You’ll look great,” so Jaehyun bid his goodbye -one foot already outside Juyeon’s bedroom, “Younghoon would appreciate you dolling up,” trying not to wince when his heart clenched, “Goodbye Juyeon.”

 

He didn't wait for Juyeon’s response as he walked away.

 

Walking out of Juyeon’s apartment towards his car. Driving until he reached his favourite brunch place and got inside. Saying his greetings back when Hyunjun -the owner of the place, a good friend, waved at him with a smile.

 

“Hi Hyunjun.”

 

Hyunjun grinned and looked over Jaehyun’s shoulder, “Where’s your friend?”

 

“What friend?”

 

“Your reservation is for two, no?”

 

Jaehyun clamped his fingers together and shook his head with a thin smile before walking to his usual table.

 

Juyeon wasn’t coming, he wanted to tell Hyunjun.

 

Because Juyeon was way too busy making sure he would dress his best as he attended the Mode Meeting tomorrow with Younghoon.

 

When Jaehyun looked outside the glass walls beside him -catching his own reflection on it, he swiftly turned away because he hated how handsome Juyeon looked in the suit that Jaehyun had picked out for him, to spend a day with Younghoon -just the two of them.

 

Jaehyun felt like a child.

 

Hating it when someone took his friend away from him.

 

 

***

 

 

Jaehyun ran.

 

The night was cold and a little windy.

 

Jaehyun ran faster.

 

His tracksuit moved along with his movements. The city was quiet and Jaehyun only friends were the yellow lights painting the street he ran in.

 

Jaehyun had been running.

 

The hoodie of his tracksuit had long slipped from his head. His hair swayed as quick as the pace Jaehyun set for his midnight run.

 

Jaehyun was running so hard. He had planted his feet on the ground. He spent too many years not being able to, and Jaehyun had enough of being unable to connect with the harsh reality of how the love he kept, never had a home to live in.

 

So he kept running. Jaehyun was clenching his teeth feeling at loss about some memories he had that seemed not to be able to die. How some of his wounds wouldn't seem to heal. Jaehyun was desperate because he just wanted to be in a place, in a start where Jaehyun finally escaped from his unending yearning for Sangyeon.

 

Jaehyun wished his heart would stop beating him up, so he ran faster -breath turning to choked sobs considering the helpless feeling lingering at the bottom of his stiffening heart, for a fact that Jaehyun couldn't seem to outrun Sangyeon’s memories.

 

Once acted as his pleasant dreams, now Jaehyun felt pain that was getting too real every time Sangyeon’s voice resonated within his head -chasing his prudence away.

 

His fears -the childish fears of not having what he had been fighting so hard for, were his alone. And Jaehyun was left too tired to wipe away all of his tears. So Jaehyun closed his eyes, imagining ways to feel secure without having to link it to Sangyeon. He visualized a moment where time had successfully erased Sangyeon from his heart, where Jaehyun didn't let Sangyeon had all of him anymore.

 

When Jaehyun thought there would be an us for him and Sangyeon at the end of the road, Jaehyun was left with the truth that it was in vain -because it turned out there was just him. Because Sangyeon already had Younghoon.

 

Jaehyun had been running hastily.

 

The cold and biting air filled his fastening chest and inside his head, Jaehyun saw Juyeon in the distance calling out to him, his name. Juyeon felt like a glimmer of hope, so Jaehyun wanted to be where Juyeon was.

 

Juyeon had held his hand throughout his worse point. Jaehyun had been screaming out of unbearable torture, and Juyeon fought it all away with Jaehyun. Maybe, even just for Jaehyun. So Jaehyun wanted to be where Juyeon was, hopelessly wanting to go through all of his pains.

 

Then Jaehyun ran faster than ever. He ran until his legs were aching and lungs were burning deep within his chest. Jaehyun wouldn't let himself stopping from running as hard as he possibly could, because Jaehyun knew that if he didn't make it on time he would surely lose his chance to finally run out the road he created for Sangyeon, and run towards the road where Juyeon was waiting, hopefully still waiting.

 

For him.

 

 

***

 

 

“Younghoon left already. His flight was earlier than yours.”

 

Juyeon read Changmin’s message for the third time after he arrived where the Mode Meeting would be held. Having to fly in a suit was way too uncomfortable, but there was really nothing he could do about it. It was a one day trip and Juyeon kept his change of clothes for later when he flew back home. He wouldn't have enough time to change if he didn't wear his suit from the start, so Juyeon had been sitting quiet stiffly trying to make sure he wouldn't wrinkle his attire.

 

It wasn't like he wanted to impress Younghoon. Far from that. But Jacob had put his trust on him to be Gentlefolk sole representative. And Juyeon had learnt too much from Jaehyun, to see that what he brought to the table had to be impeccable because Gentlefolk was Juyeon, and Juyeon was Gentlefolk.

 

The thought of Jaehyun brought a small smile on his lips, along with a painful clench of heart. The way Jaehyun left yesterday was too abrupt. Juyeon kept repeating all of his conversation with Jaehyun, his actions towards Jaehyun, wondering if he made a mistake that got Jaehyun felt like running away from him as soon as he could.

 

His head snapped up when the company car chauffer told him that they arrived at the hotel where the business gala meeting would be held.

 

And he spotted Younghoon.

 

Younghoon looked impeccable as always. Lean, handsome, neat, and Juyeon remembered as if it was already so long ago, how he would simper at the mere sight of Younghoon alone.

 

He got a polite nod -with a polite smile, from Younghoon when the later spotted him. Younghoon kept his silence as Juyeon walked beside him toward the hotel’s conference hall. And throughout everything, Juyeon could sense how Younghoon tried his best to keep things professional. Knowing Younghoon’s personality, Juyeon could only guess that Younghoon did it because of what happened in the pantry back then. A time where Juyeon still couldn't find strength in his heart to look at Younghoon again without feeling and tasting heartache on his every fibre. Juyeon had rejected Younghoon’s offers of peace back then.

 

So now as Younghoon gave him a polite bow after the event was over -because apparently Younghoon had also booked a different flight from him, Juyeon felt sorry.

 

“Shall we get dinner before we leave?” so Juyeon had asked, because he -now, wanted to have his closure in a good way.

 

Younghoon was visibly taken aback.

 

“I texted Changmin already asking to move your flight to mine’s,” because Younghoon was a great mentor to him. Younghoon never failed to help and support Juyeon and he was thankful for it.

 

Younghoon blinked fast looking like he didn't know what to do with himself.

 

“I know a good restaurant right in the corner of the street,” because Juyeon wanted to close the book he had been writing for Younghoon all of this time. Signed it and closed it with a smile -knowing he would never lose Younghoon as his respectable mentor. As a friend.

 

“Okay.”

 

Younghoon’s presence felt warm. It always had been. And Juyeon felt its familiarity as Younghoon sat in front of him in one of the small restaurant’s table -head down in his silence.

 

Juyeon smiled softly at the sight, “Would I be wrong assuming that you purposely booked different flights from mine?”

 

“No,” Younghoon shook his head -eyes lingered on his own lap.

 

“Thank you.”

 

“Of course.”

 

“For thinking about me.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“For doing it for my sake.”

 

“Juyeon-“ Younghoon finally looked up at this. His eyes wavered in hesitation -brows knitting in harrow, “I know what I did to you was not right. But believe me Juyeon, I really, really like you and care about you a lot.”

 

Juyeon’s heart didn't pound wildly like it used too. Juyeon knew what Younghoon meant, and what left now was only warmth of being dotted as a younger friend. He appreciated it.

 

“You don't use past tense.”

 

“Because I still do.”

 

Then Juyeon gave Younghoon a comforting smile as a start. Hoping Younghoon could see that Juyeon didn't mean no harm by taking Younghoon for dinner, “Thank you.”

 

“Stop saying that.”

 

“Younghoon I want you to understand that I don't really regret the time I spent, coddling my heart that wanted no one else but you.”

 

Younghoon screwed his eyes shut, jaw trembling -sitting so politely, hands on top of his knees -clenching.

 

“I will never be ashamed to say that I was in love with you once. Not when you’re such an amazing person to begin with,” Juyeon spoke kindly, wanting Younghoon to look at him in the eyes.

 

But Younghoon kept his head down.

 

“You’re a compassionate mentor. Courteous, kind, way too soft spoken sometimes, that it amazes me despite how delicate you are being, everyone still follows your directions obediently. Meanwhile Jaehyun for the life of him, seek satisfaction from barking.”

 

Juyeon let out a chuckle at his own comment on Jaehyun, and Younghoon too -who finally glanced back at Juyeon, bit his bottom lip hard to stop himself from laughing.

 

“You made quite a first impression,” Juyeon continued in a relax manner -glad to see that Younghoon somehow mirrored his sentiment, “If you only remember-“

 

“I do,” Younghoon answered a little excited, “You didn't trust me.”

 

“I didn't what?” Juyeon blinked.

 

“You looked at me like I was crazy when I said I work in Glitterati building,” rolling his eyes, Younghoon started to smile now, “Meanwhile, there I was, feeling so bad seeing you keeping the Gentlefolk application map tight to your chest like it was your own child.”

 

“To be fair,” Juyeon laughed at the memory, “It was my eight interview. I didn't even think of being accepted in Gentlefolk.”

 

Younghoon straightened up his posture -giving Juyeon a determined look, “Their loss. Sangyeon wouldn't stop gushing about having you on his team.”

 

“Oh?”

 

“Jacob too, shared the same sentiment. We all do.”

 

“I- I’m flattered. Thank you.”

 

It was so silly how Younghoon grinned and bowed in his seat, “Thank you for choosing Gentlefolk out of the other company.”

 

So Juyeon laughed at the antics, smiling along Younghoon’s lines of mirth.

 

“Let me apologize Juyeon,” Younghoon kept his frame straight -looking at Juyeon firmly.

 

Juyeon said nothing and Younghoon took it as a permission to talk, “But I want to thank you first, for looking at me so very fondly all of this time. Thank you for seeing me in such kind eyes Juyeon.”

 

“You’re welcome,” Juyeon breathed in a thin smile.

 

“I apologize for not noticing your feelings. I apologize for not being able to return your feelings,” Younghoon’s chest stuttered yet he tenaciously, kept his sincere apologies coming, “I’m sorry for turning you down the way I did it. I was too blinded by the idea of making everything alright again. For me. I was selfish, and I hurt you in the process.”

 

He wouldn't imagine it, but Juyeon felt the way the back of his eyes started to warm up.

 

“I’m sorry-“ and Younghoon despite drawing a sharp and shaky breath, kept the wavering regretful smile for Juyeon to have, “I’m sorry for childishly trying to make only myself feel better. I’m sorry that I hurt your feelings. And I apologize for trying to be close to you again, without really asking if you would want it or not.”

 

Juyeon let a tear fell down straight to his trousers when he landed his gaze on his lap.

 

Nevertheless, Juyeon had spent too many years loving Younghoon all by himself. So lonely.

 

“Thank you for reaching out to me today,” and it was just like how it was before. Younghoon would always be there to assure Juyeon with his tender-heartedness, “I wish you know how much- how adoringly I look and think of you. You’re great Juyeon. Really great.”

 

“And I will always wait until you can be totally comfortable with me again,” Younghoon was smiling when Juyeon looked up at him, “If you then decide to want nothing to do with me again, I will also understand. But I want you to know, that I never wish to lose a good friend like you.”

 

 “I’m sorry. I hope one day,” Younghoon said in a tiny smile, “You will be able to forgive me.”

 

“Why did you do it?” and his heart still felt the hurt -recalling a memory on a night where Younghoon was crying in his living room -subduedly trying to turn him down.

 

“It’s-“

 

“How did you know about my feelings for you?” Juyeon looked up at Younghoon -swallowing the huge lump in his throat because he needed to do this for the sake of himself.

 

Younghoon’s eyes flickered in an apologetic glitz, “I heard it from you.”

 

“From me?”

 

“I was waiting for Jaehyun to finish his work,” Younghoon’s smile appeared wounded, “Hoping I could have a talk with him, asking him about our sudden fall out and I didn't think- you were there too somehow, inside the meeting room where Jaehyun had been working.”

 

Juyeon couldn't understand-

 

“I didn't think you would be-“ taking a shaky breath, Younghoon’s frame got taut trying to pull out the memory, “You were crying-“

 

Juyeon’s heart was screaming so loud it shook his chest in absolute riot.

 

“And you kept apologizing. Saying that you were sorry,” Younghoon whimpered under a bated breath, “You were so sorry because you couldn't stop- because back then you didn't think you could stop your feelings for me.”

 

“I’m sorry Juyeon-“

 

“No,” then Juyeon found a small strength. Little pinches that comforted his dejected heart alive, coming from a recollection of the five mugs Jaehyun had left for him yesterday, “It wasn't your fault.”

 

It took a while before Juyeon realized that Jaehyun had left the bag he brought with him in the morning inside Juyeon’s place yesterday.

 

And as he was contemplating to call Jaehyun -even when it hurt, to let him know about it, Juyeon thought he recognized the shopping bag. So he looked inside. A white envelope greeted him first as it was laid on top of a huge black box.

 

Juyeon pulled it out, taking a card out of the envelope to find Jaehyun’s neat handwriting.

 

 

 

So.

 

I broke your mug. To be exact, you kind of broke it yourself. But I admit it was because of the plastic snake.

 

So.

 

I bought you another one. I mean five. Another five. Because that’s what makes me so nice.

 

I’m happy that we’re talking again.

 

Jaehyun, Lee.

 

 

 

It was for him what was inside the shopping bag. Juyeon opened it and indeed, inside, he found five identical mugs -his favourite mug.

 

Juyeon remembered clenching the card and envelope tight within his grasp. How he felt the sudden urge to sit down and took a deep breath when his eyes finally screwed shut because the ache his heart was feeling got a little too much to bear.

 

He wasn't late for his flight this morning, because Juyeon decided not to sleep. Not when the clock kept ticking -eating up what was left for him to take a rest, while Juyeon couldn't stop asking himself questions on why would Jaehyun leave him so coldly.

 

The thought of how Jaehyun might think it was a mistake for them to be talking again was eating him up alive.

 

Maybe Juyeon’s eyes gave out too much. Maybe Juyeon didn't realize the way his smile was burdening Jaehyun a lot. Maybe Juyeon was too selfish for asking Jaehyun to be friends with him again.

 

Jaehyun must be doing it only for Juyeon’s sake, somehow feeling indebted to him.

 

His own verdict made his heart cowered in anguish -whimpering in its loneliness.

 

Jaehyun laughed pretty. Like a child.

 

Jaehyun cried sorrowfully. Like an adult who felt nothing but draining exhaustion.

 

Jaehyun talked about Sangyeon with his everything. Like a proof that only Sangyeon could bring him spring.

 

Juyeon liked Jaehyun a lot, so he laughed when Jaehyun laughed, lent his shoulder when Jaehyun cried, and listened when Jaehyun speak of Sangyeon, right beside him as Jaehyun’s eyes were locked far away to wherever Sangyeon was.

 

“Jaehyun told me to leave.”

 

Of course, Juyeon smiled bitterly to himself hearing Younghoon’s explanation. Of course Jaehyun would do that. Of course he had to make it hard for Juyeon to stop the growing feelings he had for the man. And Jaehyun didn't even realize it.

 

“So I did.”

 

When the keening sound of his heart filled his ribs, Juyeon held tight to his knees -hoping he didn't have to face a reality where he knew how bruised his heart was because Jaehyun would love no else other than Sangyeon.

 

“Jaehyun told me to say nothing to you.”

 

“So you did.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Their conversations went into a lull between the quiet atmosphere of the restaurant.

 

“I can still leave now,” Younghoon offered.

 

“Don’t,” so Juyeon kept his grieving heart for Jaehyun aside, “Please. Stay.”

 

“Juyeon-“

 

“I want to make this work.”

 

“You don't have to do that. When I said I would love for us to be friends again, I never meant to force you into it-“

 

I want to make this work,” Juyeon tried to make Younghoon see, “I too, think it will be nice if we can still be friends.”

 

“Juyeon-“

 

Juyeon really wanted to make Younghoon see, that Juyeon’s heart had stopped looking for him. Had stopped looking over it shoulders to think back about Younghoon.

 

And the small understanding smile painted on Younghoon’s face when his eyes fleeted over Juyeon’s phone that he put on top of his table, was enough indication that Younghoon understood.

 

Juyeon followed Younghoon’s eyes and saw the way his phone screen lighting up with Jaehyun’s name on it. He whipped his head back towards Younghoon because he had to-

 

“Pick it up,” the kind and sweet understanding stretched of lips Younghoon gave him, was enough to make Juyeon jumped on his feet to walk outside, to pick up Jaehyun’s call, to hear Jaehyun’s voice, to talk with Jaehyun again, to-

 

“Hello?” Juyeon’s heart was beating loudly along with his shrivelling throat.

 

He didn't get an answer. But Juyeon could hear, could pick up Jaehyun’s uneven breath. Dread washed over him in an instant thinking about Jaehyun possibly crying by himself-

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

“I left something at your place yesterday.”

 

“You-“ Juyeon drew a silent breath, “Yes. You did.”

 

“It was on top of your living room coffee table.”

 

“I saw it.”

 

“Saw the bag or saw what’s inside them?”

 

“Everything,” Juyeon didn't mean it, but his words were slowly getting quieter as he answered.

 

Then Jaehyun took another long second silently. Juyeon got to hear winds passing, got to hear the way Jaehyun’s breath going steady even though it was still heavy.

 

“How was today?”

 

“I almost break my neck trying not to wrinkle the suit you picked out for me.”

 

“I’m glad the Haut Monde’s spirit is starting to brew inside you.”

 

Juyeon’s felt too helpless in his overwhelming feelings for Jaehyun, suddenly missing Jaehyun so much, “No thanks to you,” he whispered shakily.

 

“Brute.”

 

His fingers flew to his chest -fastening against the front of his coat because his heart wouldn't stop mourning over Jaehyun. Wanting to go to Jaehyun, “I got a lot of compliments.”

 

“That’s…great.”

 

But Juyeon could almost see the way the atmosphere turned a little strained after his comment, “Jaehyun-“

 

“Will you be staying the night?”

 

“No,” Juyeon shook his head fast still even when Jaehyun couldn't see him, “My flight back is in three hour.”

 

“Are you on your way to the airport?”

 

Then Jaehyun heaved out a breath.

 

“Jaehyun?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Where are you?”

 

“Me?”

 

“Where are you?”

 

“Outside.”

 

“It’s late.”

 

“I know.”

 

“Are you far from your place?”

 

“Not really.”

 

“What are you doing anyway-“

 

“Are you on your way to the airport?”

 

The repeated question brought a halt to Juyeon’s nagging.

 

“Is it a difficult question to answer?”

 

“No,” so Juyeon was fast on responding.

 

“No it’s not a difficult question, or no-“

 

“No,” he tried again, “I still haven’t-“

 

“Okay.”

 

“Jaehyun is everything okay-“

 

“So where are you now?”

 

The memory of Jaehyun calling him out of fear -frantically asking him about the card he had written for Sangyeon, flashed across his mind and it made Juyeon nervous. Jaehyun was too far for Juyeon to run to, and he-

 

“Please tell me what this is all about.”

 

“Am I- is my call interrupting you?”

 

“That’s not what I meant-“

 

“I’m sorry. I didn't mean to.”

 

“Jaehyun,” Juyeon pleaded, “Are you alright?”

 

“Why wouldn't I be?”

 

“It’s just-“

 

“Have I been making an impression that every time I call you, it only means I’m in trouble?”

 

“We can talk- let’s talk it out-“

 

“Juyeon.”

 

“Yes? Yes Jaehyun?”

 

“Juyeon?”

 

“You can tell me anything.”

 

“Can I ask rather than tell?”

 

“Anything.”

 

But Jaehyun said nothing after that so Juyeon wanted to ease any kind of doubt that lingered on Jaehyun’s mind. Because Juyeon meant it when he said he still wanted Jaehyun as a friend. When he said it was alright despite the unavoidable sorrow it would bring him.

 

“Anything Jaehyun,” so Juyeon restated, “Anything.”

 

“Where are you now?”

 

“Me?”

 

“Never mind-”

 

“I’m having my dinner.”

 

Jaehyun continued to pause, and it drove Juyeon’s mad because what if Jaehyun was-

 

“Does the food taste great?”

 

“It’s-“

 

“What are you ordering?”

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

“Juyeon-“

 

“Yes?”

 

“Are you ordering for two?”

 

 

***

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

09 – END

 

 

He was mine.

 

He was mine.

 

He was mine.

 

Jaehyun couldn't stop repeating the words inside his head since he woke up after only an hour of sleep this morning. And no matter what he did, Jaehyun still couldn't find it within him to stop thinking about it.

 

So when the sky turned dark welcoming a barely windy night, Jaehyun took his midnight run.

 

He was mine. Was mine. Mine.

 

The street was almost empty but Jaehyun’s head wouldn't stop screaming. So he screwed his eyes shut before stopping right in the middle of a long and empty road -placing both his hands on his knees as his back bent forward, taking choking breaths because his lungs had been grappling for air.

 

Mine.

 

His nails dug against his palm and it hurt and his heart was hurting so Jaehyun made a turn back to his apartment and ran again. Bigger strides now because he couldn't afford being too late, because time was trying to catch up and Jaehyun wouldn't lose this time around.

 

Jaehyun’s slammed his bedroom door open. His frantic fingers pulling the top drawer of his chest to take out a small box and ran out once again.

 

It wasn't far, but would take a longer time if Jaehyun didn't bring his car. So he ran with all his might because the clock kept ticking and Jaehyun could see a finish line far in the distance.

 

His heart was beating wild, chest going up and down in painful stutters for how much he had been running. Jaehyun pull out his phone, pressing one, and hit call.

 

“Where are you?”

 

“Jaehyun- is everything okay?”

 

“Yes,” he took a deep breath and felt his chest expanding trying to breathe, “Where are you?” understanding where the worry came from because Jaehyun was panting so hard.

 

“Are you alright?”

 

“I’m right outside your apartment building.”

 

“I’ll come down.”

 

When the line was finally cut off, Jaehyun still recognized the thin smile on his lips coming from how genial the familiar comfort he never failed to get just by simply hearing a voice.

 

And he waited, biting his bottom lip nervously because Jaehyun was running inside his head. Jaehyun was still sprinting with determination in a one way road inside his head.

 

His heart had stopped ramming wildly now -only beating in a comfortable pace as his eyes caught a figure he had been wanting to see coming out from the apartment building, walking towards him.

 

“I don't think it was a waste,” Jaehyun begun by the time Sangyeon had stopped walking and stood right in front of him.

 

Sangyeon seemed taken aback at the abruptness, but he kept his lips shut. Jaehyun felt emotions surging up through his eyes but he held everything in.

 

“The time I spent loving you,” and he let his head reminded him of how grand his relationship with Sangyeon had been from the start, “It was filled with- I was happy. Even though all I could do was to see you from the back -waiting and praying that one day you would look over your shoulder for me, I still found myself in rapture because of how wholesome you are. To me.”

 

Sangyeon looked so handsome. He didn't change much from the first time Jaehyun landed his eyes on him in the corridor of their university. His hair swayed softly under the fleeting wind and Jaehyun could see the way lights streamed through the waves in Sangyeon’s hair.

 

“So it came in atrocious ripples, the woes I got from realizing that you feel nothing like how I feel for you. And it makes me so angry Sangyeon,” Jaehyun winced out a bitter and defeated smile, “I got so angry because I couldn't stop myself from questioning whether you really did feel nothing and that I never meant something to you.”

 

Sangyeon’s eyes were kind. No matter how much Jaehyun messed up back then and now, Sangyeon never stared at him like he was not worth the benefit of the doubt, as Sangyeon then said, “I care about you a lot.”

 

“I know.”

 

“I’m always grateful to you. For you.“

 

Jaehyun sped up -racing against himself, as he kept running inside his head, “I know.”

 

“And I am very fond of you,” Sangyeon offered a small smile, “I like you Jaehyun.”

 

“But it isn’t the same,” and Jaehyun despite breaking apart for so many times now, gave his best to return the smile.

 

“It’s not.”

 

Jaehyun let himself cried silently because there was nothing to see as he got closer and closer toward the end of a road he had built for Sangyeon inside his head.

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

“Here,” but Jaehyun took one step backward to wipe his anguish with the back of his hand, and pulled out the small box he placed inside his tracksuit pants.

 

“What’s this then?” Sangyeon picked it up from Jaehyun’s grasp.

 

“Yours.”

 

So Jaehyun watched as Sangyeon’s eyes seemed stunned -his lips parting a little in surprise when he opened the box, before glancing back at Jaehyun.

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

Jaehyun had finally arrived.

 

There was no more path to take as he stepped on the finish line, on the road he built for Sangyeon. There was nothing waiting for him on the other side of it. Jaehyun turned his head back and the road behind him was too long, yet still too tempting to be taken on again.

 

But Jaehyun was determined.

 

“I’m sorry I lied,” he finally confessed, “I did lose mine, but I didn't lose yours. I wanted to keep it. I wanted to have it within my hands because I wanted you to be mine so I lied to you and said that I lost your gold badge.”

 

“It’s perfectly alright.”

 

“I’m sorry I lied,” Jaehyun tried a smile although wavering, “I kept saying I forgot to bring the handkerchief you gave me the first time we met after I washed it. I didn't forget to bring them, I just never did. Because having it with me, made me feel like I have a part of you that no one could ever have.”

 

“I understand.”

 

“Sangyeon.”

 

“Yes Jaehyun?”

 

“I continued to love you even after it broke my heart, because you were my first love,” Jaehyun straightened up as the one -the Jaehyun inside his head, did the same, “I didn't know what was I supposed to do with all the love I have for you that had been resting on my hand, because I couldn’t give it to you -the person I wanted to have it.”

 

When the Jaehyun inside his head peered over his shoulder again, the road for Sangyeon was still there -too long that it was impossible for him to see the starting point.

 

“I don't want to do it again,” Jaehyun whimpered -breath teetering.

 

“Don’t.”

 

“Sangyeon.”

 

“Yes Jaehyun?”

 

“Can I have my card that I wrote for you, back?”

 

No matter how enticing the road he had taken for too many years now, Jaehyun was determined not to go back.

 

Sangyeon gave him a delicate smile, “Of course.”

 

Because Jaehyun still couldn't stop playing the words he had been repeating in his mind, no matter how ridiculous it sounded, even to Jaehyun’s own ears.

 

He was mine.

 

The words were slamming hard against his skull every time Jaehyun’s head decided to remind him that Juyeon had been spending his day -all day, with Younghoon today.

 

It was way too irrational, yet Jaehyun couldn't stop hating the fact that Juyeon was probably with Younghoon now.

 

Because Juyeon was his.

 

And not Younghoon’s.

 

Juyeon was his, Jaehyun repeated it like a mantra.

 

He was mine.

 

 

***

 

 

“Ordering for two-“

 

Jaehyun bit the bottom of his lip hard he didn't think he would care if he ended up drawing blood. His eyes slammed shut, heart beating loud as it crawled between his taut and constricting throat.

 

“Jaehyun.”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Why do you want to know?”

 

Juyeon asked him a question that Jaehyun was still too afraid to answer -to find the answer to. But Jaehyun just wanted to know. Jaehyun was dying to know if Juyeon stayed close to Younghoon all day. Dying to know if Juyeon had liked spending his time with Younghoon. Wanted to know if Juyeon was having his dinner with Younghoon.

 

Jaehyun was dying to know -clutching the front of his chest with everything he got, if Juyeon had forgotten about what he had said to Jaehyun on their dinner last time, or how maybe Juyeon had changed his mind, because today Juyeon had spent it alone with Younghoon.

 

He was dying to know if Juyeon thought about him today. Even just for a second.

 

So right after he parted ways with Sangyeon, Jaehyun didn't think and just pressed call on Juyeon’s name on his calls list.

 

“Will you be there tomorrow for work?”

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

“Will you?”

 

It took a couple of seconds before Juyeon answered him.

 

“I will.”

 

“Have a save flight home Juyeon.”

 

 

***

 

 

“Name one thing you couldn't live without-“

 

“This is stupid,” Juyeon groaned -running a palm over his face, as he listened to Haknyeon reading from another card.

 

Gentlefolk had been trying to reach new higher up audience, so they needed new contents that would sell. Desperately.

 

Youngjae came with a deck of card.

 

“Just because the decks is extremely fancy, doesn't mean it’s quality,” Sunwoo sighed before sitting up straight after slouching down from the exhaustion of a three hour meeting since early Monday morning, “Hear that, hear that. Either born a poet, or a rapper I am,” smugly smiling, Sunwoo was quick on clearing his throat after Juyeon gave him a dry look.

 

The card deck were filled with questions to get to know your partner better. It wasn’t the greatest pitch, but Juyeon agreed to try it on because had he mentioned that he was extremely desperate?

 

“I would say food.”

 

“Sangyeon stop being so serious about this!!” Haknyeon protested in a laugh, “I can’t believe you keep answering these stupid questions!!”

 

Juyeon expected at least a small indignant ‘hey!’ from Youngjae who brought the card in, but even Youngjae seemed to agree that this was boring.

 

Loud knocks on the glass door of the meeting room startled them all and Juyeon saw Chanhee letting himself in before getting anyone’s permission.

 

“Here’s a cheat sheet of our -and what I really mean is mine, best articles for the past six months. Fashion moves fast brutes. If you lot want to expand, don’t try too hard and make your research more than a year span- oh, fancy card! What games are we playing?”

 

Haknyeon grinned and cleared his throat, “So Chanhee, name one thing you couldn't live without.”

 

Juyeon saw -as he was sure the others too, how Chanhee’s eyes went to Sunwoo for a split second too long.

 

Sunwoo sat up impossibly straighter now and pulling the end of his Balmain Crewneck down. Waiting.

 

God, this was too obvious even in Juyeon’s eyes. And Juyeon hoped they both would just get it over with and get fucked.

 

Chanhee sighed, “Memes,” he dabbed once before leaving everyone in peals of laughter.

 

“Serves you right,” Sangyeon gave Sunwoo’s back a sympathetic pat.

 

“What did I ever do?!!”

 

“Other than dodging like a coward every time a moment erupts between you and Chanhee and somehow turn them into something kinky?” Youngjae snickered -faking a thought, “Nothing.”

 

“That’s only because he likes kinky!!”

 

“Ew,” Youngjae made a face, “No, Sunwoo. No.”

 

“What state are you constantly living in?” Sangyeon picked up a card -clearing his throat trying to get everyone’s focus back.

 

“Constant anxiety,” Juyeon replied deadpanned.

 

Sangyeon gaped and Juyeon couldn’t help but laugh along with the kids.

 

“The card has a specific mention of -as in a country,” and then Sangyeon asked after his own laughter died down, “Are you alright?”

 

“No~” Juyeon moaned, “I feel so useless right now-“

 

“Hey don't say that,” patting his back this time, Sangyeon tried to be encouraging, “We all can think of something I’m sure.”

 

“Well it’s bad enough that I have to drag you -my boss, here to help,” Juyeon wailed like a child.

 

“Look, maybe we all need a break. Let’s have another meeting later on. How about that?”

 

“Thank God,” Youngjae was the first one to stand up, “There is a reason why we have you here Sangyeon.”

 

Sunwoo and Haknyeon without mercy, got up too and added, “Or else Juyeon would imprison us here until next year.”

 

Juyeon didn't have more energy to retort so he just rolled his eyes and watched everyone leaving.

 

“It’s just a thought,” Sangyeon said before leaving -standing at the door, “Talk to Jaehyun, or Younghoon. See if they have some ideas.”

 

Juyeon breathed loudly as a sign of agreement and smiled back at Sangyeon who left the meeting room -sending Juyeon a good luck with a smile.

 

His eyes caught the files Chanhee just brought and studied them quietly. And Juyeon actually, caught some interesting ideas after filtering through the sex toys and bondage items articles (what the fuck?)

 

Getting up and walking towards Haut Monde, Juyeon almost collided to someone for how engrossed he was reading Chanhee’s files.

 

“Careful there,” Younghoon’a voice filled his ears and Juyeon looked up at this.

 

He noticed that he was already in Haut Monde’s part of the office floor and scratched his head in embarrassment, “Sorry about that.”

 

“It’s alright. What time did you arrive home yesterday?”

 

“This morning to be exact,” Juyeon laughed reminding Younghoon about their late flight.

 

Younghoon winced while grinning, “Oh, right. About four a.m. for you I suppose?”

 

“I think so yeah,” taking a deep breath, Juyeon contemplated to take Sangyeon’s suggestion to discuss his problem with Younghoon.

 

“What’s the matter? Are you alright?”

 

Juyeon smiled at how Younghoon always spoke like he could read Juyeon’s mind, “Yeah no,” Juyeon sighed, “Do you think you can give me insights about what’s going on in them upper class men world?”

 

Younghoon snorted playfully at his choices of words but answered anyway, “I’ve been hearing that soiree is getting back its popularity.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Yeah,” Younghoon nodded -biting the corner of his bottom lip out of habits, “Riches are busy making salon now in their mansions to put their artwork collections.”

 

“Are they really be reading poets to each other?” Juyeon couldn't really grasp the idea of a salon, but hey, anything that floated the riches boats.

 

“Um, well,” Younghoon laughed good naturedly, “Come here,” Younghoon led them toward the open pantry and Juyeon quickly took his seat in front of Younghoon.

 

“So,” Younghoon started, “We’ve been making articles about high fashion food and interviewing famous chefs.”

 

“That’s mint,” Juyeon whistled.

 

“Thanks,” chuckling, Younghoon the continued, “And apparently -in this soiree, rather than reading each other Tolstoy-“

 

“You like Tolstoy,” Juyeon mumbled simply out of habit. He blinked afterward.

 

“I do,” Younghoon smiled until his eyes crinkled.

 

“Sorry- I was-“

 

“You, remembering what I like, doesn't have to mean something Juyeon,” Younghoon grinned.

 

And at that, Juyeon blinked twice and realized that yes, his heart had forgotten its terrifying swift pace every time he talked to Younghoon, “Right,” so he agreed with a smile too.

 

“Shall I continue?”

 

“Please do,” Juyeon beamed.

 

“Rather than reading each other literature, they hire private chefs. Prestigious private chefs to be exact.”

 

Juyeon’s brows shot up at this.

 

“I know,” it brought laughter to Younghoon’s lips, “And so they try fancy and overly exaggerated food cooked from foreign to basic ingredients.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“The chefs we’ve interviewed said that this um, ingredient, has been really popular.”

 

“What is it?”

 

“Um- what is it called, um, it’s sweet.”

 

“Oh,” Juyeon tilted his head, “Sugar?”

 

“No, um, they’re kind of- they’re liquid.”

 

“Liquid sugar.”

 

“No, um,” Younghoon struggled a lot trying to remember the word, “It’s um yellow- um, orange-”

 

“Oh, syrup?”

 

“No, um, they’re kind of sticky.”

 

“Sticky syrup?” Juyeon frowned.

 

“Um, they’re um, bee barf?” Younghoon stammered unsurely.

 

“What the fuck Younghoon? Do you mean honey?!!”

 

“I-“ Younghoon tried not to wheeze as he failed and Juyeon joined him.

 

“Bee barf, fuck?!!” Juyeon breathed loudly under his laughter.

 

“I’m sorry. I am not in my right mind after the lack of sleep,” Younghoon’s shoulder shook as he was drowning in his own foolishness, quiet laughter escaping his lips.

 

“I can tell that yeah.”

 

Sighing together, Juyeon glanced up and found Younghoon smiling back at him.

 

“Hi,” Younghoon stretched his lips wide. Like he was greeting Juyeon after a long time spent not seeing each other eye to eye.

 

Juyeon bit his bottom lip in the same sentiment.

 

And so he said it back.

 

“Hi there.”

 

Greeting Younghoon gently just like old times, but in a new kind of perspective of the heart.

 

 

***

 

 

“Jaehyun, I love you,” Chanhee sighed -ignoring Changmin’s shrieks from his desk of ‘just make him stop!!’

 

“Leave me alone,” Jaehyun too heard Changmin’s protest, but he couldn't care less.

 

“But you, blasting Air Supply nonstop since 7 this morning until now, is not healthy for our staffs.”

 

“Why can’t you guys see me happy?”

 

“Um,” Chanhee scowled at him, “You don't look happy.”

 

“Well Air Supply makes me happy. So I’m trying to make myself happy,” Jaehyun barked from his chair, “It’s called logic, Chanhee.”

 

“Look, I can help you with your Chefs interviews. I know you’ve had enough of them, so Changmin and I can go instead of you-“

 

“You lads just wanted to drool over the hot chefs,” he stated a matter of factly.

 

And damn, Chanhee didn't even want to deny the claim, “Of course we do. See, it is a win-win situation for everyone-”

 

“It’s not the interviews-“

 

“Why are you being so selfish by hogging all the incredibly hot and muscly and thick chested chefs all by yourself when you already have a boyfriend? Why are you trying so hard to push me and Changmin away from our own eyes vacations? Why are you-“

 

“Okay stop,” Jaehyun got up in an instant at Chanhee’s outrageous outburst, “Get out.”

 

“Not until you stop playing ‘Making Love Out of Nothing at All’ Jaehyun. This has got to stop-”

 

“No.”

 

“Why are you being so miserable anyway?!!”

 

“Why do you think Juyeon would talk to Younghoon?!!” Jaehyun yelled back. Biting back the rest of his sentence about how it didn't make any sense for the two to talk comfortably with each other after their fallout.

 

Chanhee stared. Hard.

 

Fuck.

 

“Because they have something to talk about? What the fuck Jaehyun-“

 

“Well- well-,” Jaehyun stammered -tongue tied, “Then why were they sitting so cosily in the pantry this afternoon, and laughing and talking like the world revolved around them?”

 

“Fuck are you jealous or something?”

 

“Well yes!!” he stomped his right feet, “Chanhee, the world should revolve only around me!!”

 

“What the fuck-“

 

“And not around them!! Me!!”

 

“Well Chanhee’s bondage strap that I found on his desk will revolve around you, if you don’t stop this Air Supply INSANITY!!” Changmin showed up in a scream at Jaehyun’s office glass door -with indeed, a black leather strap that was just obviously used for bondage activity.

 

“Why are you rummaging through my stuffs?!!” Chanhee protested in a howl.

 

“Because you can’t even take care of Jaehyun’s shit!!”

 

“Why do I always have to be the one taking care of Jaehyun’s shit?!!”

 

“Because- hey!!” Changmin almost flew to the side when Kevin suddenly barged in and lifted Jaehyun’s Devialet Gold Phantom speaker and smashed it to the ground. Effectively stopping the repeated lyrics of ‘making love out of nothing at all.’

 

“Kevin you shit!!” Jaehyun screamed, “That’s fucking expensive!!”

 

“Oh no. It slipped through my slimy fingers,” Kevin smiled looking deranged, “I’m sorry about that- hey!!” Kevin almost flew to the side when Jacob suddenly barged in and lifted Jaehyun’s already splitting speaker and threw it to the ground. Again.

 

“That was so uncalled for!!” Kevin yelled, “I already bashed it!!”

 

Jacob despite looking annoyed with his heaving chest, licked his lips and rolled his sleeves, “For good measure brother. For good measure,” he spat the words at Jaehyun before leaving.

 

“What the fuck?” Jaehyun withered -sobbing on the death of his expensive speaker.

 

“I’ll buy you a new one,” Kevin breathed in satisfaction. Not at all looking guilty.

 

“Money doesn't solve everything!!” Jaehyun crouched down and about to hug some pieces of his shiny speaker-

 

“I’ll give you thrice the price of this one and you can buy it yourself.”

 

“Oh okay,” Jaehyun quickly got up, “I’ll just throw this old thing then. Thank you Kevin~”

 

“My Jaehyun,” Kevin smiled winningly before leaving.

 

Jaehyun snickered as he hummed -ignoring Chanhee’s and Changmin’s grumbles as they too got out. Getting on his knees, Jaehyun took an empty box and started collecting his destroyed speakers and thinking about what he could buy with the money Kevin would be giving him.

 

“Air Supply huh?”

 

“Fuck!” Jaehyun hissed in fright, hand flew up to his chest in an instant. He looked up from where he was crouching and saw Juyeon at his door -standing there a little awkwardly, not really entering. As if he waited for Jaehyun’s permission.

 

Jaehyun could physically feel the way his heart fell before turning away and finishing his job on cleaning up.

 

“Is there anything I can help you with?” Jaehyun asked -flinching because he knew it came out cold. Even more because Jaehyun said it while giving Juyeon his back as he put the box on top of his desk.

 

Juyeon didn't answer and Jaehyun took a deep breath before turning on his heels to face Juyeon, who was still, waiting at the door.

 

But Jaehyun felt spiteful for last night, he didn't get an answer from Juyeon whether he was ordering his dinner along with Younghoon. Jaehyun spent his night awake thinking about the huge possibilities of that to happen. Juyeon, and Younghoon, just the two of them, sitting in front of each other. Having dinner. Together.

 

Must be, Jaehyun put his head down -refusing to look at Juyeon. If not, why would Juyeon talked to Younghoon so intimately this afternoon in the pantry where everyone could see? Where Jaehyun could see.

 

It wouldn't be easy forgetting someone you had loved for long. Jaehyun knew it. He was well aware of it.

 

Yet he couldn't stop feeling dispirited. Because of course if Juyeon had the chance to choose between him and Younghoon, there was no reason for Juyeon to choose Jaehyun.

 

What made him angrier, was the fact that Jaehyun couldn't find an ounce of regret for deciding to try and move on from Sangyeon. Trying his best to get himself out of the shadow of his love for Sangyeon, just for Juyeon. Because Jaehyun wanted to be with Juyeon. If Jaehyun at least regretted his decision to try and move on from Sangyeon, it meant Jaehyun didn't like Juyeon that much anyway.

 

But Jaehyun did like him. But Jaehyun had his fair share of sadness and blues when he and Juyeon stopped talking for a while. And Jaehyun drowned in his own ache last night -curling up on his bed, eyes screwed shut trying not to think about Juyeon and Younghoon being together all day.

 

“Is it a bad time?”

 

Jaehyun looked up at Juyeon -wanting to scream at him, demanding an explanation. Feeling so mortified for how much he wanted to ask Juyeon whether he had changed his mind about how he felt toward Jaehyun.

 

“No,” he shook his head -answering meekly.

 

“Can I come in?”

 

“Sure,” his eyes locked on his shoes -inhaling silently when he saw Juyeon’s shoes stopping right in front of him.

 

“Jaehyun?”

 

“What?” he snapped up -glaring at Juyeon, hoping it could mask whatever kind of insecurities he got within his chest.

 

Juyeon watched him carefully, quietly without saying anything for a while. It almost drove Jaehyun crazy.

 

Yet, “Do you want to have dinner with me?” Jaehyun blurted without thinking. Appalled at his blunt question that came out of nowhere.

 

Juyeon looked as shocked as Jaehyun felt, “Pardon?”

 

“You heard me,” and he scowled again -thinking it was only fair. If Juyeon had his dinner yesterday with Younghoon, then Juyeon should have his dinner too with Jaehyun.

 

“I mean-“

 

“Fine,” he shrugged turning back when his chest was pulled taut by the refusal, “You don't have to-“

 

“No, hey,” but Juyeon caught him by the wrist -softly turning him to face Juyeon again, “Of course I want to.”

 

A thought crossed his mind it made Jaehyun frowned.

 

“Hey, Jaehyun,” Juyeon coaxed gently, “What is it?”

 

Jaehyun was too busy thinking to answer, his chest stayed shrivelling -leaving twinges that stung, “Are you wearing a new perfume?”

 

His question got Juyeon a little flustered as he let go of Jaehyun’s wrist, “I- what?”

 

“Did you buy the new perfume yesterday? Between the time of your business trip?” Jaehyun clenched his fist tight, didn't want to let out another question of ‘did you buy it with Younghoon?’, ‘did he choose this one for you?’, ‘did he say the fragrance reminded him of you?’

 

“No,” Juyeon shook his head slowly, “I have this perfume for a long time now, I just never wear them.”

 

“Why are you wearing them now?” because you wanted to impress Younghoon? Because you’re talking again to Younghoon now? So is it true then, that Younghoon and Sangyeon’s relationship is straining and you’re taking advantage of it?

 

“I saw the box this morning. Perfectly sealed. So I thought why not- how do you even know this?”

 

“You smell different,” Jaehyun grumbled out.

 

“Are you saying you’ve been sniffing me?” Juyeon stepped back dumbfounded.

 

“No,” he spat sullenly, “Your perfume emits everywhere for how much you wear them, and-“

 

“That’s just creepy,” Juyeon’s tone was teasing but Jaehyun was too aghast to not retort in full spite.

 

“No,” he gritted his teeth, “You know what’s creepy? Eternal Flame by The Bangles. ‘I watch you when you are sleeping’? Yeah that shit is fucking creepy-“

 

“Um, Jaehyun-“

 

“You know what’s also creepy? Goodbye My Lover by James Blunt. ‘I’ve watched you sleeping for a while’? That is what creepy is Juyeon!!”

 

“Do you like watching people sleep-“

 

“No you moron!!” Jaehyun yelled out -running out of patience, “You missed the point!!”

 

“What is exactly, the point?” Juyeon’s eyes widened, “Your references are pointing out that you like to watch people sleep which is a little bizarre if I might say-“

 

“The point is why don't you want to go and have dinner with me?!!”

 

His screech was followed with total silence and Jaehyun heaved out in irritation. He gave up. Jaehyun didn't even want to have this conversation anymore.

 

“Why are you getting so mad about asking me out for dinner?”

 

“That’s not-“

 

“And I said I want to,” Juyeon explained softly, “I already said I would love to. So what are you getting so worked up about?”

 

“Whatever, I’m choosing the place, and I’m paying.”

 

 

***

 

 

There was this silly thought.

 

Juyeon didn't know if he should entertain it.

 

When Jaehyun called him last night, talking short, asking things, like where he was, what he had been doing all day, and basically asking but not really asking for how mundane the questions seemed at the surface, Juyeon didn't think it was something important. Juyeon assumed that Jaehyun needed his help somehow, but too afraid to say it.

 

But then, Jaehyun’s question of if he was ordering for two, came out.

 

Juyeon’s heart was pounding a little too out of control because in his ears, it was as if Jaehyun was asking if he was having his dinner with Younghoon. And last night, when the notion came to him, Jaehyun’s earlier questions before didn't sound so mundane anymore.

 

Jaehyun was persistent in asking this particular question. So Juyeon had to ask on why Jaehyun had wanted to know whether or not he was ordering for two. Because Juyeon’s heart started flushing -still cowering weakly, yet hopeful at the same time. Juyeon wanted to hear it from Jaehyun.

 

Maybe he rushed through it that Jaehyun then carefully backed out.

 

Juyeon didn't have the time to see Jaehyun this morning because of the emergency meeting for their future corners, but he did have a plan to see Jaehyun after.

 

And now as Jaehyun was sitting in front of him -eating and still complaining about Juyeon’s lack of enthusiasm for Jaehyun’s dinner invitation, Juyeon watched Jaehyun in such adore he couldn't contain even if he tried.

 

Jaehyun was impossibly lovely.

 

With how somehow, as time went by, managed to slip a fuss, “Younghoon got to have his dinner with you so why can’t I too?”

 

“How do you know about it?”

 

There was this silly thought.

 

“So you really did have your dinner with Younghoon last night?” Jaehyun’s expression was a clear definition of dolour, voice flinching in whimpers.

 

About how Jaehyun might be a little jealous about the idea of him, spending his time with Younghoon.

 

“I’m sorry that I called you then, last night,” Jaehyun had put his eyes down, “I must have been a hindrance.”

 

There was this silly thought, and Juyeon didn't know if he should entertain it.

 

“Are you finished?” Jaehyun suddenly said, “We should go back. It’s getting late.”

 

And Juyeon’s heart was squeezing trying to hold back because he didn't want to make the wrong judgement, the wrong move, in case Jaehyun would take another step back. He was too petrified about how he might thought wrong and ruined his chance to be beside Jaehyun even as friends. Because Jaehyun currently had his heart anchored on Sangyeon as far as Juyeon knew.

 

So he agreed, letting Jaehyun pay, agreeing when Jaehyun said they should go home respectively.

 

Because Juyeon needed time to think things through.

 

Questions he needed to seek the answer to.

 

There was this silly thought.

 

About how Jaehyun might consider Juyeon more than just a comrade in a heartbreak.

 

And Juyeon would love nothing more than to entertain it.

 

 

***

 

 

Juyeon Lee

typing…

 

Feet shaking faster than Usain bolt racing to the finish line, Jaehyun started to bite the nails on his right hand -left hand busy holding his phone tight. His eyes glued at his phone screen on an opened messaging app.

 

Jaehyun was about to call Changmin. He knew this was Saturday morning and Changmin -according from his reply to Jaehyun’s work request just now, would probably killed him for even calling about work. But heck, Jaehyun wasn’t about to go to the office today for retrieving the marketing data he needed for his annual report. Changmin should do it for him instead. In his perfect defence, Changmin was Haut Monde’s Advertising Executive.

 

He texted Changmin already, and got himself string of profanities. Jaehyun didn't have the energy to reply, so he decided to call Changmin, before he then saw the word typing under Juyeon’s name on the chat app. He sat up straighter on his sofa and waited. Three minutes had actually passed and Jaehyun still saw the word typing appearing and disappearing and still, Juyeon hadn’t texted him.

 

“Come on, come on,” Jaehyun bit his nails harder, “What do you want?” because this was Saturday. Would Juyeon asked him to hang out? To brunch? Lunch? Dinner? Should they go see a movie afterwards?

 

And while his mind was busy thinking of different scenarios and how he would tackle them elegantly, the word typing finally disappeared and Jaehyun waited.

 

For another three minutes. The word typing appeared no more, and there was no new message from Juyeon.

 

“What the fuck?”

 

Jaehyun pressed call.

 

“Jaehyun?”

 

“What do you want?”

 

“What?”

 

“Why do you have a habit of making people repeating their words twice Juyeon?” Jaehyun pinched the bridge of his nose.

 

“I’m- what do you mean by what do I want? You’re the one calling me.”

 

“Well Mr. Idle, you’ve been typing for so long and yet I never get the message from you.”

 

“Are you saying you spend your day staring at my chat window?”

 

“Don’t flatter yourself,” Jaehyun scoffed -stomach swirling causing nausea, “I was texting Changmin to help me get a data in the office when I saw that you’d probably been typing and deleting whatever it was you wanted to tell me.”

 

Juyeon went quiet on the other line.

 

“That’s it? You really aren’t going to tell me-“

 

“I need some of Haut Monde’s art digital record, and I was wondering if you could help me. But I remember that this is Saturday and you won’t be in the office anyway.”

 

Oh. So not to hang out.

 

“But it’s all good. I saw Younghoon just now in his office, so I figure I can go and ask him and not bother you-“

 

“I can help,” Jaehyun suddenly stood up -rushing to his bedroom to change his clothes, “I’m actually on my way to the office now.”

 

“You are?”

 

“Yeah. I have to retrieve some data for my annual report. And since I really can’t make my subordinate to do the work for me, I’m going to the office instead,” Jaehyun held his phone between his ear and shoulder trying to change his jogger pants.

 

“Really? But you just said you were texting Changmin to help you get data in the office?”

 

“When did I ever say that?” Jaehyun huffed -quickly pressing the speaker button because he had to wear his nice shirt.

 

“Less than a minute ago-“

 

“Does it really matter Juyeon?” Jaehyun rolled his eyes obnoxiously, “Does it really?”

 

“I just don’t-“

 

Jaehyun paused mid buttoning his shirt, waiting for Juyeon to finish his sentence.

 

“Are you really coming to-“

 

“I’m on my way. You need to start listening to people. Just- wait for me. Okay?” and he bit his bottom lip to chase out the stumbles his heart did -contemplating if he should really go even when Juyeon said no.

 

“Okay.”

 

“Good,” the tip of his fingers were filled with nerves when Jaehyun ended the call.

 

Now he felt stupid. His heart was beating so loud Jaehyun fidgeted all over the place. He was eager, way too eager. This didn't seem right yet at the same time, it had been such a long time since Jaehyun felt any kind of attraction for someone that was not Sangyeon.

 

Jaehyun wouldn't lie and said he had completely got over Sangyeon. No. Jaehyun’s mind still fleeted to Sangyeon from time to time. Jaehyun still had his eyes wide shut -scrunching in small agony, when a certain memory of him and Sangyeon came out.

 

But Jaehyun too, found himself smiling bashfully remembering Juyeon’s sweet comfort. Jaehyun too, wanting to see Juyeon, hearing Juyeon’s voice all the same.

 

Although Jaehyun couldn't help but be unsure about the progress and process of forgetting Sangyeon, he felt like it would not be as hard as he thought it would because Juyeon would be by his side.

 

If, Juyeon still wanted to. Still wanted him.

 

So Jaehyun didn't want to waste his time and drove fast toward the office on a Saturday, parking quick and clean as he took large steps towards the elevator -feet shaking waiting for it to finally arrive.

 

So Jaehyun almost collided to a wall when he turned too fast in a corner after getting out of the elevator -catching himself before stumbling down to the floor, and went inside when the automatic glass door slid open.

 

So Jaehyun, between his giddiness, uncertainty, and singing heart, stopped dead in his tracks as soon as he spotted Juyeon standing in front of Younghoon near Changmin’s desk.

 

The smile they shared were quiet, so in harmony that Jaehyun felt like he was intruding something.

 

And maybe the way his heart dropped in an instant brought too much of a shock, that Jaehyun’s right hand flew right into his chest to squeeze it tight -foolishly think that it could and would reduce the painful pinches of woes ramming against his ribcage.

 

He felt like throwing up. Jaehyun turned away and ran toward the elevator again because he didn't think it was a good idea for him to stay and look and-

 

“Jaehyun?”

 

He blinked hard, “Sangyeon?”

 

“Hey, what are you doing here?”

 

“I-“ and Jaehyun licked his lips -taking a deep breath trying to kick the remnants of feelings for Sangyeon he yet successfully erased completely. Jaehyun was trying. Jaehyun wouldn't stop until he achieved triumph.

 

Sangyeon’s eyes were kind and understanding and he waited. Always waiting for Jaehyun to get his shit together, “Are you alright?” and his concerns were always in place, generous in its amount.

 

“Yeah,” but how could Jaehyun fool anyone, when he himself didn't believe the word that escaped his lips which accompanied by a wilting heart that was too obvious even for him to hear, “I want to go home,” and he whimpered under his breath -choking from the anguish crawling at the back of his throat.

 

“Okay,” Sangyeon nodded gently, “Do you bring your car?”

 

“Yes,” he put his head down.

 

“Can you drive by yourself?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“You can call me if you need any help.”

 

“I won’t,” Jaehyun glanced up as he said this -braving his heart up, “Not for a while. Not when I still remember about you sometimes when I’m alone. Not until I can stop thinking about you as my safe shelter,” Jaehyun hated the way Sangyeon didn't even flinch at his blunt confession -only looking at him with such delicate consideration, “I won’t ever call you for help, before I can stop feeling hurt from imagining myself holding your hand.”

 

“And let me apologize in advance,” Jaehyun’s breath was faltering, “If one day I come to a decision that talking to you, being friends with you again, is not exactly what I want.”

 

Jaehyun saw the way melancholy slipped between Sangyeon’s small smile, “Anything for you Jaehyun.”

 

“Right,” Jaehyun looked away when he heard the elevator dinged, “Goodbye Sangyeon,” getting inside and faced Sangyeon who stood right in front of him right outside the door, smiling tenderly to give (always giving) Jaehyun the comfort he needed.

 

“Goodbye Jaehyun.”

 

 

***

 

 

“I waited.”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Okay,” Jaehyun ended Juyeon’s call and drove back home.

 

 

***

 

 

And when the sun finally sets, Jaehyun told the security building to let Changmin in to bring the data he finally asked Changmin to fetch.

 

Yet he found Juyeon instead standing in front of his apartment door, still in the same attire he wore this morning when Jaehyun saw him inside the office -standing so close to Younghoon, sharing a smile too intimate for Jaehyun to join in.

 

“What are you doing here-“

 

“Why did you leave?” Juyeon cut him off.

 

Jaehyun almost winced when his heart gave out a loud thud -wrecking that it made Jaehyun looked away from Juyeon’s inquiring stare.

 

“You lied to me about not being able to come.”

 

Jaehyun’s grip on his door handle tightened.

 

“I saw you. Talking to Sangyeon.”

 

“Does it matter?” he commented offhandedly, hoping to end this conversation.

 

“It does,” but Juyeon was stubborn, “You were so insistent about coming in, and you just left-“

 

“Juyeon-“

 

“Was it because of Sangyeon?”

 

“It has nothing to do with-“

 

“Was it because you saw me with Younghoon?”

 

Jaehyun finally looked up at this, lips sealed shut.

 

“Which one Jaehyun?” there was small desperation beneath Juyeon’s stiffening expression, “Which one made you leave? Me? Or Sangyeon?”

 

“I owe you no single explanation.”

 

Juyeon’s palm were fisting by his side when he heard his answer, and Jaehyun’s spine shrivelled in fears because he-

 

“Why did you leave?”

 

“I just suddenly don't feel like coming in for work-“

 

“Why did you suddenly leave, when you came over to my place to help me pick out a suit?” Juyeon’s voice was barely above a whisper.

 

Jaehyun never thought this would ever come as a conversation between them.

 

“Why did you suddenly leave, and said that Younghoon would appreciate the suit?”

 

“I spent all night trying to think about ways I did or said to you wrong,” the top of Juyeon’s cheek twitched as he grimaced in throe, “If I made you uncomfortable. If it was too soon for me to be asking you to be friends with me again.”

 

It didn't make any sense how Jaehyun could see and somehow felt the pain himself, in Juyeon’s words of honesty.

 

“But then you called me the next day. Why did you call me that night?”

 

“I don't want to talk about it-“

 

“Why did you asked whether I was ordering for two?”

 

“Juyeon-“

 

“Why did it make you so angry, the fact that I had my dinner with Younghoon that night?”

 

“I wasn’t angry-“

 

“Why did you complain the whole night during our dinner-“

 

“Stop it-“

 

“Saying things that made me think that you didn't like the thought of me, spending time with Younghoon just the two of us-“

 

“So you did spend your time-“

 

“So why does it matter to you?!!”

 

Juyeon’s screams of frustration brought rumbles on Jaehyun’s cowering heart.

 

“Why did you leave this morning Jaehyun?” Juyeon looked worn out -exhaustion was clear in his wavering eyes.

 

Jaehyun wanted to move but he couldn't. Too frozen in his spot, too afraid about too many things -wanting to just protect his intimidated heart from any kind of pain. No more. He couldn’t possibly endure more.

 

“Why did you say things and do things that makes me-“ the sharp intake of breath Juyeon did, got Jaehyun’s heart splitting in woes.

 

“Will you ever get over Sangyeon?”

 

“Will you ever find yourself looking in my direction and think about things you only think of Sangyeon?”

 

But Jaehyun wanted to forget Sangyeon, wanted to get rid of Sangyeon’s memory. He didn’t want to do it to Juyeon-

 

“If I asked you back then,” Juyeon was withering in front of his eyes, yet Jaehyun was too afraid to cup him in his palm to prevent it from happening, “When I said to you that I was a little bit in love with you-“

 

Jaehyun’s knees buckled in trepidation -losing any kind of sanity and control over his feelings, of himself.

 

“If I asked you to let me, would you?” there were too many sorrow in Juyeon’s eyes, “If I asked you to forget about Sangyeon even just for a while and spent your time having me instead in your mind, would you let me?”

 

“Jaehyun, would you ever let yourself be a little bit in love with me too?”

 

His heart seized, lungs closing down on him and Jaehyun broke away from Juyeon’s searching eyes.

 

“Maybe this is a mistake,” the finality in Juyeon’s tone made Jaehyun flinched, “Us being friends, is a mistake.”

 

Jaehyun let Juyeon pushed the Haut Monde’s map that was supposed to be delivered by Changmin to his chest.

 

“I don't think I want to be your friend,” Juyeon gave him a thin smile full of aches, before turning away and left.

 

Jaehyun didn't know how long he stood right at his door after Juyeon was gone.

 

It was only after his phone blaring from on top of his kitchen island, that Jaehyun remembered how to function.

 

It was only after rays of sun filtered in through his windows, that Jaehyun could really feel the waves of heartaches of having Juyeon saying he didn't want Jaehyun anymore.

 

It was only then, that Jaehyun allowed himself to cry along with his overwrought heart as it finally sank in.

 

Juyeon didn't want him anymore.

 

 

***

 

 

“Careful,” Chanhee said in a sing song -not really looking at Jaehyun’s direction as he said it.

 

Jaehyun stopped dead in his tracks before he let himself inside Younghoon’s office, “What do you mean?”

 

“Nothing,” shrugging as he strutted back toward his desk, Chanhee’s hums halted when Jaehyun forced him by the shoulder -turning Chanhee around to face him.

 

“Tell me.”

 

“I was just giving you a warning,” Chanhee grimaced, peeling away from Jaehyun’s tight grasp, “No need to bruise me Jaehyun.”

 

“Why do you feel the need to warn me?”

 

Chanhee raised his brow, “Younghoon’s not in his greatest mood today,” looking at Jaehyun up and down.

 

Jaehyun felt himself washed in confusion because it was never a problem. No matter how grumpy and brooding Younghoon could be these past years, Jaehyun never thought it was bad enough that anyone needed to be given a warning before talking to Younghoon.

 

“So?”

 

Sighing like Jaehyun was an idiot, Chanhee crossed his arms over his chest, “So watch your behaviour.”

 

“Why do I have to watch my behaviour-“

 

“You’re really blind huh?”

 

“What is that supposed to mean?”

 

Chanhee didn't answer him immediately, studying Jaehyun quietly like he was trying to gauge whether Jaehyun was lying or not.

 

“Chanhee, what is that supposed to mean?”

 

“Younghoon hasn't been really- he hasn't been the same towards you, no?” Chanhee said carefully, “You do realize that, right?”

 

“I don’t…understand.”

 

“Are you fooling with me?”

 

Jaehyun lost his patience. He took Chanhee by the elbow toward the empty printing corner, “Explain.”

 

Chanhee’s eyes widened, “You really didn't know?”

 

“Know what?”

 

“I mean, you really haven’t felt it?”

 

“Feel what?” Jaehyun hissed impatiently.

 

“Even Eunwoo from IT noticed.”

 

“Noticed what?”

 

“Have you not been listening-“ Chanhee gasped incredulously, “I just literally said, that Younghoon hasn't been the same towards you.”

 

“In what way?” Jaehyun’s brows furrowed because clearly, he had missed something.

 

“Jaehyun it’s been going on for months.”

 

“Can you please just explain?”

 

“Well first of all you’re not his favourite anymore.”

 

“What-“

 

“When was the last time Younghoon came to you and ask for your opinion?”

 

“It’s-“ but Jaehyun couldn't continue. He didn't remember. It felt like such a long time ago that-, “I-“

 

“In each of our meetings -Changmin was the one noticing this first for your information, every time you talk, Younghoon just listen-“

 

“We discuss together-“

 

“Younghoon just listen and talk, not looking. Not, looking, at you.”

 

Jaehyun wanted to deny but then as Chanhee mentioned it, he could actually see everything now. That Younghoon had stopped altogether coming to his office and talk just the two of them. Jaehyun barely recalled the last time he met Younghoon’s eyes and-

 

“And it has been a while since we see you and Younghoon walking together, attached by the hip discussing works like both of your life depend on it.”

 

“We?”

 

“Everyone in Haut Monde,” Chanhee sighed and patted his shoulder, “So I’m warning you. Because if you’re already on Younghoon’s naughty list, you have to be extra careful because Younghoon’s mood has been sour since morning,” before leaving him alone with his thoughts.

 

After their fall out, everything had felt professional between him and Younghoon, sure. But Jaehyun didn't realize everything Chanhee just mentioned. And what really ticked him, was the fact that Chanhee wasn't wrong. Jaehyun could feel it now, could see it now.

 

Younghoon had been avoiding him, and he wasn’t aware of it.

 

Younghoon had kept things professional but colder, and Jaehyun wasn't even conscious of it.

 

“Come in.”

 

So when Younghoon’s voice could be heard outside the door, Jaehyun let himself in and started to pay more attention.

 

Younghoon didn't even look up from his computer as Jaehyun stood in front of his desk.

 

“April’s spreads layouts,” Jaehyun informed, putting the said work on top of Younghoon’s stacks of reports.

 

“Thank you,” Younghoon’s fingers still typing -not busily, but enough to give a silent declaration that he didn't want to be disturbed. Didn't even spare Jaehyun a glance.

 

Jaehyun found his feet frozen in his spot. His mind drifted back to the Younghoon he saw last week -all warm smiles and laughs as he talked to Juyeon. So different. And it must have taken him a long time standing still and doing nothing, that Younghoon actually peeled his eyes away from the screen and glanced up at him.

 

“Anything else?”

 

The usual fond smile was nowhere to be found, along with the familiar sound of Jaehyun’s name on Younghoon’s delicate lips.

 

It felt strange but not like Jaehyun couldn't live without it.

 

So Jaehyun shrugged and turned on his heels, before Younghoon’s sudden announcement made his frame stiffened.

 

“I’ll be covering Haut Monde and Gentlefolk collaboration meeting next week. You don't have to come.”

 

“Pardon?” Jaehyun’s eyes narrowed at the sudden news. As far as he knew, it was supposed to be a meeting between Features Editor of the two magazine -which was him and Juyeon, to create a clear outline for the collaboration, before they involved the Editor in Chiefs, and maybe along with Jacob and Kevin.

 

“You heard me.”

 

Younghoon’s tone was pissing him off now, “Features Editor should be the one attending the initial meetings,” Jaehyun mentioned in case Younghoon forgot.

 

“Is there a problem?” and Younghoon gave his attention back to his computer, dismissing Jaehyun subtly in the process.

 

“Will Sangyeon be attending in place of Juyeon?”

 

“Will you barge in crudely if Sangyeon is going to be there?”

 

Jaehyun’s heart almost leapt out of his chest, feeling very much offended, “You’re crossing a line there-“

 

“Not as much as you, writing my boyfriend a love letter no?”

 

“I don’t know what Sangyeon has been telling you-“

 

“Nothing!!” Younghoon suddenly screamed out, getting up from his seat -eyes ablaze, “He tells me nothing,” gritting out his frustration for Jaehyun to see, “He tells me nothing Jaehyun. And it makes me feel that this whole thing is so fucked up.”

 

Jaehyun clenched his hands tight -digging nails through the soft skin of his palm.

 

“If I didn't encounter the letter you wrote him, he said he would never tell me,” Younghoon’s eyes were glazed in a thin veil of transparent anger, “So I wait, I wait until he comes to me and tell me everything, but he never does. He tells me nothing.”

 

Younghoon looked so heartbroken and this time around, Jaehyun didn't have it within him to fight back.

 

“I feel so worthless because he chooses to cover for you, rather than talk to me, his boyfriend. I’m his boyfriend!! Not you!!”

 

“That’s none of my business-“

 

“Are you two playing me for a fool?” Younghoon choked out, “Sneaking around behind my back, having me as your laughing stock for how clueless I am, thinking that you two are just simply close friends from college?”

 

Jaehyun’s jaw tautened at the baseless accusations, “I’m not even going to waste my breath trying to explain. If you have complains, talk to your boyfriend-“

 

“But that’s the thing, isn’t it Jaehyun?” Younghoon’s breathed shakily, “He would never tell me even if I begged, because he’s going to protect you instead of me. Because you’re his favourite,” the last word came out in a mocking breathless jeer, tugging at Jaehyun’s heartstring.

 

Jaehyun would believe the implication of Younghoon’s sentence if he hadn’t been rejected by Sangyeon’s loyalty to Younghoon again and again, and again.

 

“I should have known right?” Younghoon’s chest stuttered in agony, “With how he always showers you with praises, looking at you with so much adoration, shielding you with everything he has,” whimpering out of breath, “And here I am, believing that you were nothing but a close junior of him. Here I am, having my heart breaking every day, for finding out that the thought of me being the most important person for him, is nothing but a lie.”

 

Jaehyun wouldn't know the reason why Sangyeon decided not to tell Younghoon about this. But Younghoon couldn't be more wrong. If all of Younghoon’s claims were true -that Sangyeon had a little bit of romantic interest for Jaehyun, then Jaehyun wouldn't be denied, turned down for how devoted Sangyeon was toward Younghoon.

 

Younghoon’s chest went up slowly as he inhaled silently trying to regain his composure, “I hope you’re happy.”

 

“I beg your pardon?”

 

“I’m not holding on to someone who doesn't want me just as much,” the painful whimpers escaping Younghoon’s trembling throat was followed with screwed eyes -shutting and squeezing with so much aches, like it was so harrowing for Younghoon to be letting go of Sangyeon despite what he just stated. -that it would be easy for him to not have Sangyeon by his arms anymore because Sangyeon didn't want Younghoon just as much as Younghoon wanted him, based on Younghoon’s own ruling.

 

Joy.

 

Happiness.

 

Victory.

 

Those were the things Jaehyun should feel right now.

 

Yet,

 

His mind flashed to Juyeon’s warm hands, enveloping his own inside his car under the dim moonlight.

 

His mind ran to Juyeon’s understanding smile, benign in his soothing encouragement for Jaehyun’s welfare.

 

Jaehyun’s heart cried for Juyeon instead -sinking on its knees to beg for another chance from Juyeon, because his mind reminded Jaehyun about the weariness on Juyeon’s words as he said he didn't want Jaehyun anymore.

 

Jaehyun just wanted Juyeon.

 

He didn't want Sangyeon.

 

Jaehyun wanted no one but Juyeon.

 

“I don't want him,” Jaehyun replied under a wobbly breath, “I don't want Sangyeon,” shaking his head in dismay because it was finally his truth.

 

And Jaehyun had said like he was under a spell, “Talk to him. I wouldn't loathe you so much back then, if only Sangyeon had shown just a glimpse of doubt on the amount of love he has for you.”

 

No, it didn't bring Jaehyun quailing sorrow like it used to, when Jaehyun acknowledged that Sangyeon didn't love Jaehyun like how Sangyeon loved Younghoon.

 

“I would love to tell you,” but Jaehyun’s heart was getting frantic now, “But if you really love Sangyeon as much as you said, you’re going to try and talk to him instead of letting him go with zero endeavour.”

 

“For how much Sangyeon loves you,” Jaehyun continued, wanting to leave now, because he has to go now, “He doesn't deserve any of your bullshit about not wanting to hold on to him, when all he ever does is protecting and respecting what you have between the two of you.”

 

“Don’t do it to him Younghoon,” Jaehyun bit his quivering lips, “Don’t push him away,” and his heart raced as he thought about Juyeon, about himself pushing Juyeon away.

 

So Jaehyun ran with everything he got and left without looking back -footsteps resonating loud on an almost empty office floor. He thought he saw Juyeon going home before this, but he slowed down when he was near Juyeon’s office to confirm.

 

Juyeon’s office was empty, general lights turned off and what was left was the ambiance lighting from Juyeon’s desk lamp and bookshelf.

 

Then he let his feet led the way, towards the elevator -punching the button countless of times although Jaehyun knew it wouldn't make it arrivals sooner. But he did it anyway. Jaehyun got in and paced around the empty elevator until he reached the ground floor of the building -placing his hand on his pants pocket to make sure his car keys were inside.

 

The basement had been full this morning, so Jaehyun parked in the extended building. The lobby’s automatic glass sliding door opened for him to go outside, making sure his strides were wide enough so he could go to Juyeon faster. Wanting to-

 

His heart didn't stop as quick as his feet did when Jaehyun saw Juyeon coming out from the convenient store across the building. Juyeon’s eyes were squinting -reading the label of some drink he had in his hand.

 

Jaehyun froze but his heart wouldn't. It bloomed and spread across Jaehyun’s tightening chest -ready to soak itself in Jaehyun’s sun, under Juyeon’s affections.

 

Warmth filled Jaehyun’s churning stomach as he walked towards Juyeon in determination, wouldn't let go of Juyeon’s surprised gaze on him when their eyes met.

 

He wanted to be close to Juyeon so he did -placing himself right in front of Juyeon, blocking him from running if Juyeon ever wanted to because Jaehyun was selfish like that.

 

For how loud his heart was beating -singing and longing for Juyeon, Jaehyun was sure the sound didn't only occupy his ears, but Juyeon’s too.

 

Juyeon was staring at him with small part of lips, widening eyes while his frame visibly stiffened at such small distance between them.

 

“Give me a chance,” Jaehyun didn't ask. He demanded. Trying to appear tough as a disguise for his fragile heart.

 

The sky had long turned dark as the stars alight. Yet they dimmed because Juyeon’s presence was brighter. Always brilliant.

 

“I’m trying my best,” Jaehyun pretended he wasn't tripping. Hoping Juyeon couldn't see. Hoping Juyeon could see.

 

“I’ve been making effort,” Jaehyun pretended he wasn’t whimpering in dire hope, “To walk away from Sangyeon since I reached the finish line.”

 

Jaehyun’s heart was throbbing -eyeing Juyeon, spilling its defeaning honesty.

 

“I’m not sure about how well I will do in the process, but I want you to give me a chance.”

 

“Even if it’s not as swift as I want it to be, but I’m sure slowly I can get over him completely.”

 

Soft lights streamed through the waves of Juyeon’s hair, and the sight sucked all air out of Jaehyun’s lungs.

 

“I remembered our kiss,” he whispered out his confession, “Only two weeks after it happened.”

 

And Jaehyun struggled to keep his eyes on Juyeon for how embarrassed he was. But Jaehyun’s heart had been glancing up -praying wistfully that Juyeon would consider back about his decision on how he wanted nothing to do with Jaehyun anymore, because Jaehyun couldn't handle it.

 

“I mourned when you stopped talking to me,” the bridge of his nose felt warm, “I tasted mirth when you looked at me in the eyes again, telling me you still want to be friends.”

 

“Juyeon, I left your apartment because I saw that you were going to leave for a trip with Younghoon. I left and bailed out from my own plans to bring you to my favourite brunch place that I already reserved for us, because I couldn't bear the thought of you spending a day with Younghoon, when you had looked so good in a suit I chose. For you.”

 

Jaehyun’s heart had been lost in its own rhythm, and it was looking for something akin to Juyeon.

 

“I called that night because I can’t even stop myself from thinking that you were supposed to be mine, and Younghoon had no right to have a quick dinner with you. Just the two of you.”

 

His heart crumbled down trying to escape from cowardice thoughts that would ruin his chance with Juyeon. Juyeon who turned Jaehyun’s heartaches into a beacon so bright it got Jaehyun’s heart thumping again -albeit shyly.

 

“I hate that you talk so comfortably with Younghoon again. I hate that you hesitate when I asked you to have dinner with me. I hate seeing you smiling at Younghoon like he was your only source of happiness. I hate that I have to compete with Younghoon again to have your ardour this time, like I haven’t got enough perils when it comes to him-“

 

Jaehyun’s heart was floundering in whatever strength it had left, “I hate that you said you don’t want me anymore.”

 

“Why don't you want me anymore? Why can’t I be the one you choose? Why is it so easy for you to change your mind when it comes to me?”

 

Jaehyun was quick on covering his eyes with the end of his palms when the aches begun hurling without mercy straight into his eyes -letting himself stifling out a single sob of anguish.

 

“Jaehyun-“

 

So he wiped his eyes carelessly and glanced back at Juyeon, “I won’t ask for too much. I just want you to know that I’m trying my best to move forward and have my heart wanting you wholly.”

 

“And you have the right to not want it when it happens,” he croaked grievingly, “But I hope you would. You would want to have it Juyeon, because I’m pulling my heart together just for you.”

 

It had seemed impossible, but Juyeon took one step forward and close the distance between them more. Jaehyun’s breath strangled out by the time both of Juyeon’s hands circled at the back of his neck -tipping Jaehyun’s head up in the process, thumbs caressing Jaehyun’s jaw softly.

 

Jaehyun’s chest lurched at their proximity -holding his breath when the tip of their nose grazed against each other.

 

“I’m not sure about the smooth manner of my effort to move on,” Jaehyun whispered -so overwhelmed by the way Juyeon was staring at him, “But I’m sure you can change my mind Juyeon.”

 

Jaehyun thought it was impossible to have his heart repaired.

 

But as Juyeon’s lips touched his delicately, moulding their lips in a careful manner, kissing Jaehyun courteously like a proper man who was a little bit in love with him, Jaehyun found his heart marching forward -walking in a trail toward Juyeon that Jaehyun was sure would turn into a road filled with earnest love that was reciprocated this time around.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

10 – Them

 

 

 “That’s a girl~ lunchbox~”

 

“So?!! Doesn't matter because it will still hurt when I hit you with it!!”

 

“Teacher!! Teacher!!”

 

 

***

 

 

Sangyeon still couldn't grasp the whole idea of him, being called the campus heartthrob.

 

Sangyeon, still couldn't grasp the whole endless confessions he kept getting.

 

The part where he failed to understand was, how the girls still stared up at him with hopes and dreams even after Sangyeon had turned them down very politely. Like it was okay for Sangyeon to say no to them.

 

Later on, it had come to his knowledge, that the girls acted that way because they had come to an agreement that Sangyeon apparently belong to everyone, since he kept rejecting them.

 

So one day he said -to another confession, “I’m terribly sorry. It’s very kind of you to see me in such considerate eyes,” Sangyeon let out a warm and apologetic smile, “I’m really flattered. But-”

 

But then the girl -his senior this time around, started to look at him with hopes and dreams and Sangyeon had enough of it.

 

So Sangyeon had said, “But I like dicks. Like a really, really great cock.”

 

The hopes and dreams were shattered from inside his senior’s eyes.

 

Bingo.

 

“Like really, really,” Sangyeon made a gesture of monstrous cock with his hands, “Massive and fat and juicy cock.”

 

Along with his senior’s stumbling steps backward, gone too, the endless confessions he kept receiving.

 

Sangyeon smiled to himself feeling satisfied. He was flattered. Really flattered.

 

But he just wanted to focus with his studies. He had a goal, and that would be working at Gentlefolk. Where hopefully, he could finally meet his personal heroes in publication, which was the iconic brothers, Jacob and Kevin.

 

He was determined to grow as a kind, respectable and clever man, who deserved what would be given to him in the future. What he wanted for his future.

 

If he had to say he was gay to achieve this even though he was not gay at all, it didn't really matter.

 

Sangyeon got to do what he got to do.

 

 

***

 

 

“I have friends,” Younghoon groaned aloud when his mother had asked him with narrowed eyes as she came to visit at his dorm.

 

“Are we sure?”

 

“Mother!!” gasping in shock, Younghoon got up on his feet from his bed and put a hand on his chest, “What is that supposed to mean?!!”

 

“Son, look at the state of you-“

 

“Dear Mother!!”

 

“I am only worried because you don't look like someone who take a good care of themselves.”

 

“I’m- that’s-“ Younghoon stammered because to be honest -as his thick fringe fell upon his eyes trying to make a point and defended his mother, he couldn't really remember when was the last time he had a proper haircut.

 

“I will cut my hair, as soon as I’m done with my thesis-“

 

“I don't think you can even see your keyboards to finish your thesis while being blinded by your own hair-“

 

“And!!” Younghoon gritted his teeth with tenacity, “As soon as I can get an interview at Haut Monde-“

 

“I don't think you can walk to any interview without being hit, with the amount of hair you have covering your eyes-“

 

“And!!” he screeched this time around, “To finally meet my heroes!! The iconic brothers of business and journalism!! Jacob and Kevin-“

 

“Again, with that amount of hair on your eyes, I don't think you would be able to tell if you’re seeing the real Jacob and Kevin-“

 

“Mother!!”

 

 

***

 

 

Sangyeon still couldn't grasp the whole idea of him, being called the campus heartthrob.

 

Sangyeon, still couldn't grasp the whole endless confessions he kept getting.

 

The part where he failed to understand was, how now, rather than girls, boys started flocking him.

 

Now that he thought about it, must be because his cock talk had reached the whole faculty.

 

So one day, when Sangyeon heard from inside one of the bathroom stalls on the fifth floor of their university building, that one of the boys outside planned to look for Sangyeon to confess, Sangyeon had to physically smacked his palm to his whole face.

 

After making sure the area was clear, Sangyeon ran as fast as he could, avoiding elevators where he could be trapped with nowhere to go. He chose the emergency stairs and he was ready to sprint home when he passed one of the seminar hall on the ground floor.

 

What made him stopped in his tracks, was a sight of a junior -he had assumed because Sangyeon almost knew everyone in the faculty and he couldn't recognize this one, was panicking all by himself inside the huge area. He looked like he almost cried, crouching and bending to each seat inside the seminar hall.

 

Sangyeon had seen this kind of scene for so many times. The gold badge, the ‘pride’ of their faculty, was small and could easily fall from one’s piece of clothing. And Sangyeon’s assumption was proven to be true when Jaehyun -as his junior introduced himself as, had looked so surprised when Sangyeon gave him his own gold badge.

 

He didn't mind. Sangyeon was a senior in his last year of studies, and Jaehyun needed the gold badge more than he did.

 

The following week -as Sangyeon was studying all by himself under a massive tree in their faculty building’s park, Jaehyun showed up in front of him with hesitancy swirling in his eyes.

 

Sangyeon watched amusedly how Jaehyun looked so torn between sitting down in front of Sangyeon, or to keep standing on his feet -towering over Sangyeon who was sitting, back resting against the tree’s sturdy trunk.

 

He grinned up and Jaehyun seemed taken aback at this.

 

“Hello Jaehyun,” he finally let out a chuckle.

 

“Hi- um- hello- I-“

 

“Would you like to sit here with me?” Sangyeon offered with a smile, hoping it could bring comfort to Jaehyun’s obvious nervousness.

 

What he didn't expect was, Jaehyun then immediately went down on both of his knees -placing his clenching fists on top of his thigh as he slammed his eyes shut, and shouted, “I’m very sorry!!”

 

Sangyeon blinked. He closed the book he had been reading in silent laughter -his shoulder shook in laughter rather than his lips moving in one.

 

“Well, it depends,” he teased.

 

Jaehyun opened his eyes in terror -widening in absolute horror, “Please have mercy on me-“

 

“Oh Jaehyun,” Sangyeon finally allowed himself to laugh this time, “I don't even know what you’re apologizing for.”

 

“I just- your gold badge- I- lost it.”

 

Sangyeon laughed harder this time, “So you’re a walking disaster huh?” he said between his cackles of laughter, “I can’t believe you lost both of our gold badge!!” he then reached forward and patted the top of Jaehyun’s head, “It’s okay.”

 

“But-“

 

“Listen,” Sangyeon felt adore blooming inside his heart -watching his junior fumbling, always filled with trepidation because of how clumsy he was, “If one day, one of your senior bugs you because of this gold badge matter, put your right hand up like this.”

 

Jaehyun adorably did what he just told.

 

Sangyeon’s eyes crinkled from how cute the kid was, “And told them to stop the nagging.”

 

“How impossibly rude of me then!!” Jaehyun quickly put his hand down in a wide eyed protest.

 

Laughter was bubbling again inside Sangyeon’s chest, “I haven’t finished,” he gave Jaehyun a pointed look.

 

Jaehyun put his right hand up again. So cute.

 

“After you told them so stop the nags, tell them to follow you, and bring them to me.”

 

“Are you going to beat them up?” Jaehyun asked meekly, “I didn't think you’re that kind of person-“

 

“You cheeky git!!” Sangyeon snorted a laugh, “What I will do, is try and make them understand about your missing gold badge situation. Peace always come before violence.”

 

Jaehyun blinked softly and repeated Sangyeon’s last sentence under his breath. This kid needed to be protected at all cost.

 

“Can’t I just say your name?” Jaehyun tilted his head to the side, “Like in the movies where everyone would suddenly turn afraid just from hearing a name that shouldn't be said?”

 

“You mean like Voldemort?” Sangyeon frowned.

 

“Yes.”

 

And the way Jaehyun answered it, so innocent, so obvious about the fact that he just graduated from high school, was enough to make Sangyeon collapsed in peals of laughter, “I’m sorry to break this to you Jaehyun, but my name doesn't hold that much power.”

 

“Liar,” Jaehyun had then whispered, neck bending a little as he peered up at Sangyeon tentatively, “That’s not true.”

 

“I don't know what you’ve been hearing,” Sangyeon shook his head in an amused sigh, “But don’t worry too much about the gold badge, yes?”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Good.”

 

“Wouldn't it-“ Jaehyun bit his bottom lip -glancing at Sangyeon in uncertainty.

 

“Go on then,” Sangyeon encouraged softly.

 

“Wouldn't it better if I just stick by your side?”

 

“That might also work,” he smiled.

 

Jaehyun put his head down for a second too long before looking back up, “Can I study here with you then?”

 

“You are more than welcome,” Sangyeon offered a wide smile, making space for Jaehyun to sit as they fell into a comfortable silence, reading their respective book.

 

You see, Sangyeon was the youngest child in his family. He had an older sister who was already married and had two kids already. Sangyeon found himself enjoying the time he spent together with his nephews. They were loud, they were clingy, they got scared a lot despite having tons of energy. Yet in Sangyeon’s eyes they were very lovely and endearing. It made Sangyeon wondered sometimes, what would it be like to have an actual younger brother.

 

And as Jaehyun who was sitting beside him screamed with his arms flailing wildly because a dragonfly flew to and perched on his nose, (in which Sangyeon fell on his back with a belly laugh after helping Jaehyun got rid of the equally scared dragonfly from Jaehyun’s screaming) Sangyeon thought to himself that the feeling of fond and needing to protect, must be similar to what he felt for Jaehyun right now.

 

Jaehyun was the younger brother Sangyeon had always wanted.

 

 

***

 

 

“I didn't mean to be rude,” Younghoon cleared his throat -turning on his seat inside a waiting room where he waited to be called for his interview (a job interview at Haut Monde!! See? Mother?!!), because the man on the seat beside him had been blatantly ogling Younghoon for more than ten minutes now, “But can you please stop looking at my face?”

 

The man in question blinked and gave him an apologetic look, face turning red from getting caught red handed.

 

Younghoon felt like punching him in the face, if only the man wasn’t handsome. Exactly his type. Lips so plump Younghoon knew he would bite crazy into it if he was allowed.

 

He then eyed the blue name tags, which meant this weird yet stunning man (Younghoon had to admit begrudgingly), was applying to Gentlefolk.

 

The man about to say something but then the interview door was opened and an employee started calling out numbers. Younghoon got up as soon as he heard his number being called.

 

Rude behaviour from the man beside him forgotten, Younghoon sat in a seat he was assigned to. Sadly, the rude bloke was seated right beside him too.

 

Never mind that. There was nothing that could ruin this day for him, when Younghoon found himself facing his heroes. Jacob and Kevin. The geniuses of business and publications.

 

And the interview, the interview went smoothly!! Younghoon was so happy at how he handled all the questions given, how he brought himself to the table, and how Jacob and Kevin somehow looked at him more than once -discussing and whispering, before nodding between themselves.

 

Nodding was a good sign. Definitely a good sign.

 

“Younghoon Kim?”

 

“Yes?” he answered all poised, looking at Kevin in the eyes because it was basic business etiquette.

 

“May I ask about um-“ Kevin blinked twice, “Your hair?”

 

Fuck.

 

There was an old saying, about how you should always listen to your parents. The thing was, Younghoon had been ignoring his mother’s plead to cut his hair. It grew longer and longer and then one day, an email came saying his application for Haut Monde had passed the first round, and he was invited to come to the next step which was an interview.

 

Another thing was, Younghoon had neglected his daily duties on checking his emails for more than a week, because the farewell party of their faculty went on and on and on.

 

When he finally read the email last night, Younghoon realized he had less than six hour to cut his hair, but no barber opened after midnight in the area.

 

His scissor was his saviour, his clumsy hand definitely was not.

 

So Younghoon understood, why Kevin would ask about his self-haircut. It was not beautiful. Not even the slightest.

 

The back was carelessly cut that it made Younghoon’s head appeared to be square in shape.

 

Fuck.

 

The front, the fringe, the ‘everything’, was cut very straight, very near to his forehead line, and all happened because Younghoon couldn't seem to cut them straight enough. So he tried again. Again until he was satisfied with how straight it was, only to realize he had looked very similar to Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber at the end of it.

 

Fuck.

 

“That’s what I’m saying,” the man -the infuriatingly handsome man, whispered under his breath and Younghoon glared at him. Now kind of understand why he hadn’t been able to look away from Younghoon.

 

Younghoon took a deep breath before answering with a smile, “I’m trying a trend.”

 

“You are?”

 

“You are?”

 

Jacob and Kevin’s sentence clashed with each other. The dumbfounded look on their faces were frighteningly similar.

 

“As someone who is very determined to look beyond what other people can only see, I am here to say that I am not afraid to always be aware of trends, learning them deeply by trying them on,” Younghoon added silent crying to his to do list for tonight.

 

From the corner of his eyes, he could see the well build and gorgeous man beside him parted his juicy and chewable lips.

 

Kevin blinked twice, “May I- if it’s not rude for you, see the back of your head?”

 

“Of course,” he mustered a confident smile, and turned his head a little.

 

The gasps resonating within the room, came from the interviewers panel and the guy who applied to Gentlefolk beside him.

 

“Amazing,” the man whispered, “It looks like your head is square.”

 

Younghoon scratched silent crying from his to do list, and replaced them with bawling and howling on all fours.

 

Never once Younghoon thought that his hair would be the one thing preventing him from his own success.

 

But then Jacob was smiling. Jacob was giving Younghoon a nod of acknowledgement. Jacob, the Jacob, gave him an approving look and Younghoon might not have to cry himself to sleep tonight.

 

Glitterati Building had a coffee shop in their lobby.

 

After the hopefully successful interview, Younghoon decided to treat himself a cup of warm americano. He was about to pay, when someone behind him suddenly stretched their arm out to the cashier, offering his credit card.

 

Younghoon gave a turn of surprise, and found himself staring at the man from before.

 

“I’ll pay for his drink,” the man had said with a smile to the cashier.

 

And it was not fair, how a simple smile could brighten a face that was already so handsome.

 

“Wait, you don’t have to-“ but his protest was in vain because the card had been swiped and now, Younghoon found himself standing near the lobby entrance -holding his warm americano with both of his hands, while facing the man who just paid for him.

 

“You really don't have to,” he eyed the swirling americano inside his cup, “But, thank you,” he said in pure embarrassment.

 

“You’re welcome,” the man still had the same gorgeous smile on his face, “I’m sorry if you were uncomfortable earlier with my stares but just- I couldn't help it.”

 

“It’s fine.”

 

“I promise I’m way more polite than that.”

 

A small chuckle escaped Younghoon’s lips, “Okay.”

 

“I wanted to ask about it, but I was afraid you would think I was being brazen for talking to you because we’re basically strangers.”

 

“I understand,” and Younghoon couldn't help it, as his hand moved toward the man’s upper arm to give it a slight squeeze.

 

Gosh, if only his hair wasn’t a mess, Younghoon would have more confidence to offer this man a lunch to get to know each other better. At least to know a name.

 

The man looked back and forth between Younghoon’s hand on his arm and Younghoon’s face. Younghoon quickly retracted his grasp and cursed internally for how stupid-

 

“I think-“ the man said, interrupting Younghoon’s train of thoughts, “You’re amazingly brave.”

 

“What?” Younghoon uttered in a whisper, didn't know where this was going.

 

“For you to have determination to actually try and not just learn the trend,” the man’s feature turned really delicate as he gazed at Younghoon softly, “Is very admirable.”

 

Younghoon’s heart just leapt out of his chest before blurting, “My mom has been nagging at me to cut my hair but I didn't listen and I only read the interview schedule email last night and I cut my own hair and now it looked like I used a bowl as my cut guide and I find it hilariously ironic because the cut at the back make my head look square instead of round,” Younghoon confessed in one breath.

 

The man gaped. He closed his lips, and parted them again. The top of the man’s cheeks went absolutely red and Younghoon whined because he knew what it meant.

 

“You want to laugh!!”

 

“I-“ the man held back a wheeze and cleared his throat for too many times in order not to laugh.

 

“I’m not as admirable as you think I am,” Younghoon groaned defeatedly, “I’m just a lying bastard with an ugly haircut.”

 

“First of all,” the man hid a giggle behind his palm, “I still think you’re admirable.”

 

“For the lie?” Younghoon raised a brow in dismay.

 

“For being so honest. It’s a great quality,” the man’s smile was too intoxicating, “Really, really great quality.”

 

Younghoon’s stomach churned at the compliment.

 

“And honestly, the haircut doesn't make you look ugly.”

 

His heart was beating so loud. Younghoon could almost feel the way his ribcage shook in infatuation as he asked in a small whisper, “How do I look then?”

 

“Pretty.”

 

The jump of mirth his heart did make Younghoon dizzy, “Really?”

 

“Really.”

 

Younghoon’s clutch on his cup tightened as he offered his right hand, “I’m Younghoon.”

 

“Hello Younghoon,” the man shook his hand with a dazzling smile on his lips, “I’m Sangyeon.”

 

 

***

 

 

“How do I look then?”

 

Pretty.

 

“Pretty.”

 

Huh?

 

Sangyeon didn't have time to be shocked at his own thoughts when the bewitching man in front of him offered his hand to introduce himself.

 

Later that night, Sangyeon decided that his answer was not a lie.

 

The man -Younghoon, was indeed pretty despite the horrible haircut that made him looked like a carpenter pencil.

 

 

***

 

 

Screams.

 

Things being thrown.

 

Somehow a very severe and hardcore daddy issues.

 

Definitely not at all what Younghoon imagined Jacob and Kevin’s brotherhood would be filled with.

 

And now as Younghoon had witnessed it first-hand, he felt the need to calm himself down by going to the office rooftop. He rested his back and nursed his racing heart after seeing Jacob launched himself at Kevin in the middle of a meeting, flying from the other side of the table.

 

He took deep breaths and about to breathe the fresh air when he heard the door to the rooftop behind him creaking open. An urge to hide himself got Younghoon stumbling on his feet to a rather narrow corner near the beautiful pots of flowers. This must be the side effect from the previous terror of seeing Kevin choked Jacob quiet literally as they both fell to the meeting room carpeted floor.

 

“I don't think he’s gay.”

 

Younghoon blinked, this felt very much like eavesdropping. He shouldn't have hide in the first place-

 

“My friend who went to the same university with Sangyeon-“

 

Sangyeon?

 

“-said he is.”

 

“I really don’t get that vibe from him.”

 

“So I shouldn't ask him for a date?”

 

“You can if you want. But I really think he’s not gay though.”

 

Younghoon was crouching, landing his eyes on his lap, suddenly feeling sombre for so many reasons. He didn't really care if his perfectly ironed pants would be covered with dust, so Younghoon sat down and pulled his legs near his chest before circling his arms around it.

 

His first day of work, Younghoon found himself feeling absolutely delighted because Sangyeon apparently got accepted too. They had exchanged warm greetings and conversations, and Younghoon tried not to swoon too hard because Sangyeon was so proper and gentle.

 

It didn't help that Younghoon still couldn't forget how Sangyeon said he was pretty on their first meeting.

 

And even though Sangyeon’s jokes were very dad like, Younghoon found him funny still.

 

“I don’t trust stairs.”

 

Sangyeon once said to him when they were both was being forced to take emergency stairs because the elevators in Glitterati was acting up. Younghoon had blinked back then and asked why.

 

“They’re always up to something.”

 

Younghoon choked on his spit at the incredulousness, but laughed so hard nonetheless.

 

And Sangyeon was so dependable as he -despite being drowned in his own workload, always made time to help Younghoon when he was in an absolute distress.

 

 

 

“Sangyeon just go home.”

 

“Just let me help you. Why are you being so stubborn?”

 

Younghoon bit his lip because he felt bad, he had agreed to take more responsibilities when Kevin asked, and now he had to face the consequences of being swamped with work. Sangyeon didn't have to go through it with him, “I don't want to burden you.”

 

“Well seeing you having all this makes me unhappy.”

 

“What do you mean?” Younghoon’s heart was cowering in bashfulness, biting its lips from Sangyeon’s sweet concern, “Having what?”

 

“Like when a snowman throws a tantrum.”

 

What? Younghoon blinked, “What?”

 

“A meltdown,” Sangyeon looked so satisfied with his dad jokes Younghoon didn't have the heart to punch him in his tall nose.

 

So Younghoon laughed, letting warmth spread around his chest instead at Sangyeon’s subtle comfort, “Thank you.”

 

“You’re welcome,” Sangyeon gave him a wide grin, “So, you’re covering an article about-“

 

“Concerts. But I haven’t- been to one and- so I don't know what to write.”

 

“Right,” Sangyeon puffed his cheeks, “Hey, what concert just costs 45 cents?”

 

“Sangyeon-“

 

“50 Cent featuring Nickelback.”

 

“If you don't stop with the bad jokes, I will strangle you.”

 

“You wouldn't,” Sangyeon breathed under his chuckles, “You need me.”

 

Younghoon knew Sangyeon only meant now. That Younghoon needed Sangyeon’s support now.

 

Because you see, Younghoon actually hated, really hated leaning on someone else. He was raised to be independent and trust in his own abilities. To move forward with his own power, and find ways to improve himself if he was faced with something that was out of his capabilities. Not to look for other people’s help. But he had to help himself.

 

But as Sangyeon supported, cheered, and accompanied him staying late under the soft ambiance lighting on the 11th floor of Glitterati building, the thought of needing Sangyeon other than just now, wasn’t as bad as Younghoon thought it would.

 

 

 

“What are you doing here?”

 

“Oh God!!” Younghoon slammed his own palm to his lips in order not to scream.

 

Sangyeon’s eyes widened too as he got as surprised as Younghoon, “You scared me.”

 

“That’s my line!!” Younghoon hissed, peeking from between the thick flowers and released a relieved breath when he saw the rooftop was empty again.

 

“Why are you peeking-“

 

“Why are you here?” Younghoon got up -flinching at how cold his question sounded even to his own ears.

 

But either Sangyeon was good at hiding it, or he simply didn't care enough, the man went up on his feet too with a smile, “I guess, I need time to digest the fact that Jacob and Kevin’s relationship is not as, how do I say this-“

 

“Civilised as it seems?” Younghoon provided in a sigh.

 

“Yeah,” Sangyeon scratched the back of his head grimacing, “I was kind of shocked because, they’re kind of my heroes.”

 

“Mine’s too.”

 

“Really?” Sangyeon laughed at this information, “That makes the two of us.”

 

But Younghoon’s chest seized hearing the word us for him and Sangyeon. Younghoon was feeling sombre for so many reasons.

 

“You’re here to take a breather too?” Sangyeon tilted his head with a small smile.

 

Younghoon hated him so much, “Sure,” bending his neck so he didn't have to look at Sangyeon in the eyes.

 

“Is everything alright?”

 

“Sure,” his one word answer must have made Sangyeon’s confused and Younghoon blamed himself for not being able to hide just how upset he was.

 

But then Sangyeon’s fingers carded carefully through Younghoon’s hair. It made him looked up. Younghoon stood frozen in awe because Sangyeon had an encouraging smile for Younghoon to take. Sangyeon’s fingers on his hair felt delicate it made the back of Younghoon’s knee trembled.

 

“You’re doing great,” Sangyeon pulled his hand back looking a little embarrassed, “I know it means nothing when I say it, but I hope you’ll know that all you’ve done for Haut Monde is really praiseworthy.”

 

Younghoon was feeling sombre for so many reasons.

 

One, the chance of Sangyeon liking Younghoon back was too small because Sangyeon was always kind and warm to everyone. The fact that Sangyeon chose to be friends with him, didn't make Younghoon special.

 

“I like seeing you work so hard not for your personal achievements, but for the sake of Haut Monde.”

 

Two, the fact that Younghoon would have so many foes because he knew more than a couple of people had been eyeing Sangyeon. Some of them even came to Younghoon asking whether there was something going on between them because they spent quite a good amount of time together.

 

“I hope you can see how you are in my eyes.”

 

Last but not least-

 

“How am I in your eyes then?” Younghoon asked -watching how rays of sun gently made their way to the glistens of Sangyeon’s hair.

 

“Impossibly lovely,” Sangyeon grinned sheepishly.

 

Last but not least, was the fact that Sangyeon might not be able to return his feelings because he didn't even like guys.

 

The thought was too heart breaking for Younghoon to actually return Sangyeon’s benign smile.

 

 

***

 

 

The office sports day were not going smooth at all.

 

Sangyeon knew it would come to this eventually knowing how competitive the brothers were between each other.

 

When Younghoon gave him a horrified look from across the room as Jacob and Kevin’s name were called as the representative of each magazine to do taekwondo, Sangyeon mouthed ‘be prepared’ to Younghoon as the later swallowed in nervousness.

 

As soon as Kevin screamed, “Daddy doesn't need incompetent shite like you as a son!!” just because Jacob failed to nail a meeting with one their future investors, Sangyeon knew at least the fancy and very expensive wallpaper in one of these walls would be ripped in half-

 

Sangyeon sighed, apparently not half but almost all of it when Jacob screamed in a high pitch as he flew -he really flew, to give Kevin an amazingly strong head-height kick.

 

Kevin dodged and locked one of Jacob’s legs with his arms as they both fell -Jacob’s flailing fingers tore the wallpapers apart, before taekwondo didn't seem like taekwondo anymore.

 

“Kevin!!” Younghoon screeched as he tried to save his boss from Jacob’s art punches on his headgear.

 

“Jacob!!” Sangyeon hurdled forward to save Younghoon rather than the name he just yelled out loud. Because clearly, he yelled Jacob’s name just so Jacob would be more careful because he was about to tackle Younghoon to the ground.

 

But between the brave staffs who tried their best to separate Kevin and Jacob’s brawl, Younghoon had got his left foot hurt and Sangyeon had sighed as he kneeled on one knee in front of the man inside his office, to take a look.

 

“I’ll take you to the hospital. Come on,” he decided with finality in his voice.

 

Honestly, Younghoon was too soft for all of the mess. Sangyeon had been trying his best to avoid Younghoon getting hurt when he came to a realization that he might have harboured romantic feelings for Younghoon.

 

It was confusing at first, how Sangyeon couldn't stop thinking about Younghoon, wanting to hear Younghoon’s voice at night or in the morning. But then one night Younghoon was laughing helplessly at one of his jokes -staring at him with sparks in his eyes. Sangyeon’s heart then began jerking -skipping beats as it lunged forward wanting to run to Younghoon.

 

And Sangyeon didn't want to hide or lied to himself, about how he had started to like Younghoon.

 

Sangyeon then tried to go closer, wanting to see if Younghoon had felt the same way, but Younghoon never really gave him enough time to do it. So Sangyeon took a step back wondered if Younghoon didn't have any romantic feelings for him.

 

But then Younghoon’s eyes told him everything. Younghoon might not realize it himself, but his eyes were like an open book for Sangyeon to freely see. And it was so fascinating to him, because Younghoon would turn calm and collected -hard to read, when it came to dealing with his work, but all soft and eager and shy when he glanced back at Sangyeon.

 

“Sangyeon, I’m heavy. You don’t have to do this. I can walk by myself.”

 

And now, as Younghoon was perched on top of Sangyeon’s bicycle with Sangyeon balancing and walking it to the hospital near the office, Sangyeon felt the hair on his necks standing for how loud his heart was prancing under the sweet tune of Younghoon’s presence.

 

“We should have gone with my car-“ Younghoon tried again when Sangyeon didn't respond him the first time.

 

“My bike’s a lot more romantic than that,” Sangyeon shrugged his sentence out, looking away because Younghoon had grown deafeningly silent after that.

 

Did he make a mistake? Did he move too fast?

 

“It’s not funny,” but Younghoon whispered quietly. And there was too much affliction underneath his tone that it was impossible for Sangyeon not to stop and turned toward Younghoon.

 

“I don’t-“

 

“I know you like to joke around-“

 

Sangyeon’s heart lurched painfully as he noticed distress and agitation swimming violently across Younghoon’s expression.

 

“But this time it isn’t funny Sangyeon.”

 

“Younghoon-“

 

“Don't do this to me.”

 

“Do what to you?” Sangyeon asked pointedly, surprised at how impatient he was when it came to winning over Younghoon, “It’s not even a joke-“

 

“I’m going to pretend this never happened-“

 

“And why is that? Which part of what I did, makes you feel like this is all a joke-“

 

“You wouldn't understand-“

 

“Yeah? Try me.”

 

Younghoon bit his bottom lip hard, screwing his eyes shut, “I don't want to do this to you.”

 

“Do what exactly Younghoon?” the grip he had on his bike’s tightened.

 

“I don't want to ruin- this isn’t-“

 

“I’ve been here, always by your side, holding myself back every single time I want to ask you- just- what are we?”

 

Younghoon’s frame tensing as he stared at Sangyeon -looking afraid and astounded, “What are you saying?”

 

“Younghoon I stay with you every time you have to work late. I pick you up every morning so we can go to work together. I take you home every night because the thought of you being alone when the sky is dark scares me. I peel apples for you -which let’s be honest here, no one likes the act of peeling an apple for how remarkably difficult it is. I always make time for you every single time you need someone to talk to. I always eat your spinach for you-“

 

“You don’t…like spinach too?”

 

“Who the hell does?!!”

 

Younghoon was startled at his sudden outburst and Sangyeon took a deep breath -closing his eyes to take control of himself, before glancing up at Younghoon in frustration, “I always make sure to be honest about what I feel towards you, by relaying them straightforwardly. But you always put up this walls that are too high for me to climb. Like you don't want me. But then you look at me- you look at me like you want me.”

 

Sangyeon pressed down the lump forming at the back of his throat that made his heart twinged.

 

“Make up your mind,” he pleaded softly, “Have mercy on me Younghoon,” finally letting exhaustion washed over him, “Do you or do you not want me?”

 

“You’re confused-“

 

Sangyeon felt flares of anger starting at the pit of his stomach, “About what?”

 

“You think you like me because of the things you just said to me. But that’s who you are Sangyeon,” Younghoon couldn't be more exasperated than Sangyeon, but he did, “That’s just who you are. A good person, a kind man, someone who-“

 

“Do I really have to spell it out for you? Younghoon I like you. Not as a friend. Definitely not as a friend-“

 

“You don’t even like guys -“

 

“I don’t!!”

 

Hurt appeared violently -etched across Younghoon’s face.

 

“But I like you!! Why can’t you see it?!!”

 

“What am I supposed to see Sangyeon?” Younghoon whimpered faintly.

 

“That I’m not confused!! Not like what you had assumed.”

 

Younghoon made a little noise filled with aches and Sangyeon’s left hand that had been holding to the back of his bike’s saddle, flinched a little nervously when it went around Younghoon’s frame to hold the left side of his bicycle handle bars -trapping Younghoon in the process.

 

His heart was beating in wishes and hopes feeling the way Younghoon shivered at their close proximity, “I spend a lot of my time with you, catching feelings in the process, and I want more. And I know that you have feelings for me too, so let me in.”

 

“Sangyeon just now you said to my face that you’re not gay-“

 

“I swear I’m not. Or maybe I simply don't know. It doesn’t matter Younghoon. But if you really want me to be, then I am!! Absolutely gay for you!!”

 

“You-“ Younghoon choked in abandon, coughing wildly and Sangyeon only pressed his frame closer to offer comfort -heart soaring when Younghoon grasped the front of his blazer tight afraid that he would fell off the bike, “Don’t be so loud-“

 

“I don't care.”

 

“Sangyeon-“

 

“No. Younghoon listen to me. Really listen to me and believe me.”

 

Sangyeon took it as an agreement when Younghoon peered at him silently.

 

“I want you. As someone that is mine. I don't want anyone to have you, because you have to be mine-“

 

“That’s very possessive of you-“

 

“I am. Very,” Sangyeon grumbled grumpily, “I want to be with you. I want you to think of no one but me all the time, like I always think about you too. Younghoon, you don't even deny me when I said that you have caught feelings for me too.“

 

“Think this through Sangyeon-“

 

“For so many times I do already!!”

 

 “I don’t want you to regret it-”

 

“Stop saying that-”

 

“If one day, somehow you realized that all the things you do for me -the ones you think you do because you like me, were simply platonic-“

 

“Platonic-“ Sangyeon really lost his patience this time, “So, when I check your arse out every time you walk in front of me is platonic?”

 

“You what-“

 

“So, tell me, when I think about shoving my tongue down your mouth, jerking myself off at night imagining it’s your mouth that’s sliding down my cock-“

 

“Sangyeon-“

 

“When I want nothing but to press you hard against the office’s pantry island and rubbed my cock on your arse as I run my tongue along your neck, that’s platonic too? When I can’t stop wanting you all wet, pretty and panting, bending on my desk asking me to rail you hard-“

 

“Sangyeon!!”

 

“Are those platonic too?”

 

“Who are you?!!” Younghoon whispered in shock -flailing while gasping for air.

 

“Someone that is so gay for you.”

 

“Oh my God!!”

 

 

***

 

 

Younghoon placed a hand on his chest that was shaking from how loud his heart was ramming against it.

 

“What is that bicycle doing there?!!” Sangyeon panicked.

 

Biting his lips in adoration he couldn't contain, Younghoon let a protest out of his lips, “Sangyeon, you’re the one crashing your car into a parked bicycle!!”

 

“I’m-“ Sangyeon fumbled, spluttering hard, “I’m sorry. It’s just, I’m so nervous because this is our first date, and I don't want- I just-“

 

Whatever doubt Younghoon had about Sangyeon’s feelings for him, were wiped out clean as he could finally see -truly and really see, the apparent and unrestrained affections Sangyeon had for him, and only him.

 

Younghoon’s heart was tripping, finding a warm companion in Sangyeon.

 

So he reached out and intertwined his fingers with Sangyeon’s -smiling albeit shyly, saying, “I’m really nervous too.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Why?”

 

“I like you too much.”

 

Sangyeon went soft before kissing the top of Younghoon’s hand that was holding his, “I really like you too Younghoon. Believe me.”

 

And Younghoon did. Believed him, “I do.”

 

 

***

 

 

“Can we be-“ Younghoon bit his bottom lip hard, wondered if it was just him that had been thinking and wanting this.

 

“Be what?” Sangyeon gave him a loving smile as they were sitting on Younghoon’s office floor -working on their deadlines together.

 

The road to become an Editor in Chief was not an easy one.

 

Younghoon put his eyes on his lap for a while before trying again, “Exclusive,” he whispered under his breath, “Can we be exclusive?”

 

And Sangyeon went on all fours in front of him -hair dishevelled with his tie loose and white shirt sleeve’s gathered beneath his elbow, leaning forward and kissed him tenderly on the lips, Younghoon’s heart danced in amour, drowned in how romantic it all felt-

 

“Sounds gay. I’m in.”

 

“Damn it Sangyeon!!”

 

 

***

 

 

“I can’t wait,” Jaehyun was looking at him with wonder in his eyes.

 

Sangyeon couldn't help but smiled, always finding Jaehyun cute. His family even thought Jaehyun was adorable. His older sister told him that Jaehyun fit well with their family’s dynamic, and she could see that Jaehyun looked up to him so much.

 

Jaehyun met Sangyeon’s family all the way back then, when he dutifully came to Sangyeon’s graduation ceremony with such a huge bouquet of flowers. Sangyeon was very thankful, hugging him back then and dragged him along as the huge family went to a fancy restaurant to celebrate. Sangyeon remembered scratching his head sheepishly when his sister warned him jokingly to give only good examples to Jaehyun, because Jaehyun followed and listened to Sangyeon with his everything.

 

So when Jaehyun contacted him last week -whining about wanting to have dinner together, Sangyeon agreed with a laugh as he apologized that he had been very busy. Jaehyun talked animatedly about his thesis and the meat in his fork even once slammed near his cheek rather than the inside of his mouth for how focus he was with his story.

 

Sangyeon chuckled amusedly, taking his white napkin before leaning forward to wipe the mess in Jaehyun’s face, “You eat like a baby,” he commented fondly. Such a kid.

 

Jaehyun grumbled -ducking his head down before clearing his throat, “So did you just got off work then?”

 

“True, yeah,” Sangyeon nodded as he munched his salmon, “How’s your thesis going? Not pressuring you with the question I promise,” he laughed under his breath, cutting the salmon into smaller pieces and put some of them on Jaehyun’s plate.

 

“Thank you,” Jaehyun mumbled softly as he put his meat aside and gobbled the salmon Sangyeon just gave him.

 

This kid, “Pay attention to what you eat Jaehyun.”

 

Protesting petulantly, Jaehyun gave him a narrow look, “Is that why you ordered that Garlic Butter Creamed Spinach Salmon?”

 

“I-“ Sangyeon laughed, “Well, yes.”

 

“You don't even like spinach.”

 

“Eh,” Sangyeon shrugged, smiling because he grew to love the vegetable for how much he had to eat them for Younghoon, “Changes right?”

 

Jaehyun gave him an inquiring look.

 

So Sangyeon waited for Jaehyun to say whatever it was he seemingly wanted to say. Jaehyun was terribly shy of strangers, and along with that -after spending years taking care of him and making sure Jaehyun could see that Sangyeon would always be there for him, Sangyeon also knew that it took time for Jaehyun to really say what was on his mind. So Sangyeon tried his best to be patient and learnt not to push Jaehyun to do or say things that Jaehyun wasn't comfortable with.

 

But Jaehyun just bit his bottom lip tight before pulling his eyes onto his plate. Sangyeon decided to drop the conversation altogether. Whatever it was on Jaehyun’s mind, it must bother him a lot, so in order not to upset Jaehyun even more, Sangyeon diverted the attention to himself.

 

He started talking about his office daily life. The chaos, deadlines, and everything. And Jaehyun listened in fascination.

 

“I can’t wait,” Jaehyun said, “To be working there too.”

 

“I’ll be waiting Jaehyun,” Sangyeon grinned, placing spinach on top of the salmon in its last bite, and put it on Jaehyun’s plate, “It will be very fun to have you in Glitterati.”

 

Jaehyun’s eyes went to the last piece Sangyeon just put on his plate, and Sangyeon took it as a chance to see his phone, wondering why Younghoon was still not here.

 

He had wanted to introduce Younghoon to Jaehyun. Sangyeon had been telling Younghoon about Jaehyun by the time they decided to be exclusive. About his adorable little brother. The wonderful, loud, smart and clingy little brother.

 

Younghoon listened to his stories with such affections.

 

“He sounds so lovely Sangyeon.”

 

And Sangyeon had been proud when he heard that from Younghoon. So he arranged this meeting as a surprise for Jaehyun, but then Younghoon texted him an hour ago saying he couldn't make it because apparently, Kevin had set Jacob’s hair on fire. Literally.

 

His eyes bulged at the information, quickly texting back asking if he needed to go back to the office. Younghoon gave him a crying emoticon while saying everything was already under control now. And that he shouldn't worry and focused on indulging Jaehyun as much as he could, before following it with a sweet hug gif.

 

Sangyeon sighed with a smile and put his phone down, only now realizing that Jaehyun had been watching him.

 

“Sangyeon?”

 

“Yes Jaehyun?”

 

“You said- that- changes-“

 

“Pardon?” he leaned his head forward with a soft smile, “I can’t hear you.”

 

Jaehyun stopped, seeming hesitant before asking quietly, “Even though now you can enjoy a spinach, would I still be given some of yours like you usually do?”

 

Goodness. Sangyeon didn't think Jaehyun could be more cute, but here Jaehyun was, anxious over nothing -over his share of spinach that Sangyeon liked to give him.

 

“Always Jaehyun.”

 

Jaehyun’s uneasiness was wiped away in an instant as his lips stretched in mirth.

 

So Sangyeon wanted to pamper him more, “I will always share mine with yours.”

 

 

***

 

 

Sangyeon blinked, “You’re…drenched,” gazing at Younghoon from head to toe as the latter barge in to his office.

 

But Younghoon just gave him a wide and giddy smile, seemingly in a good mood, “I saw one of the applicant that’s going to have his interview with us just now at the convenience store.”

 

“And?” Sangyeon raised his brow in amusement, walking toward Younghoon to peel the suit jacket away -placing it on the backrest of his sofa.

 

Sangyeon opened his small wardrobe and pulled his spare suit, putting it on Younghoon. It was a little big on Younghoon, and Sangyeon gave Younghoon a loving peck on his cheek -laughing when Younghoon scrunched his nose under the affection.

 

“He appears to be a little uncoordinated,” Younghoon then rambled about his encounter with this lad, and Sangyeon listened patiently, “Reminds me a lot of myself when I had my own interview!! He looked so scared because he didn't have an umbrella, so I walked him here.”

 

“So that’s why you’re all wet, and I have to give you my suit as a change,” Sangyeon pretended disappointment.

 

Younghoon’s blinked as his smile faltered. Lord, too easy to tease, “I- I’m sorry. You don't have to lend me your suit-“

 

“I can’t believe a day would come when you’re getting wet because of another man and not me-“

 

“You’re awful!!” Younghoon’s protest came out in a hissed screech, “I think you’ll like him Sangyeon. The bloke I just met.”

 

“Will I?”

 

And Sangyeon really did like this Lee Juyeon. His soft, calm and mature character felt like a breath of fresh air. Gentlefolk was filled with -Sangyeon hated to admit, beasts, despite the Gentle part in their magazine’s name.

 

Younghoon gave him a victorious smile, and Sangyeon laughed quietly -good naturedly.

 

But at the end of the interview, Younghoon sulked. Hard.

 

“Give me Jaehyun,” Younghoon demanded petulantly at Jacob.

 

“Younghoon-“ Jacob sighed -yet Sangyeon knew Younghoon would get what he wanted. Jacob always had a soft spot for Younghoon.

 

“It isn’t fair that Gentlefolk get to have Juyeon and Jaehyun at the same time!!” Younghoon grumbled crankily, “Why they both had to apply for Gentlefolk and not Haut Monde?!”

 

Sangyeon let out such a huge grin because really, Jaehyun killed his interview. He was amazing and Sangyeon had to bite back a laugh when he realized Younghoon had fallen so hard for Jaehyun’s charm.

 

Kevin started whistling by himself looking unbothered, but he whispered to Younghoon’s ear from time to time, and Sangyeon knew Kevin too, was very interested to have Jaehyun on his team. Sangyeon felt so proud.

 

“I really, really like him. He’s a perfect fit for Haut Monde. He’s straightforward, takes no bullshit, and I think he would be good at delegating in the future,“ Younghoon tried to argue, “He’s a perfect fit for me!! I like him. So I want him.”

 

“Younghoon, no-“

 

“I want him, Jacob,” Younghoon said resolutely, pouting with a determined scrunched of brows, “I want Jaehyun.”

 

Jacob groaned, “Fine. But if he doesn't grow as much as the company wants him to be while working under you, Gentlefolk is taking him back.”

 

“Oh Jacob, I promise!!” Younghoon cheered -jumping from his seat, both hands in front of his chest, “I will be so good to him!! I will teach him everything!! He will be amazing!!”

 

“You like him that much huh?” Sangyeon quipped teasingly.

 

Younghoon cleared his throat before sitting back down and whispered in his ear, “I can see why you adore him so much Sangyeon. He’s absolutely lovely!!” before pulling back with such a brilliant smile on his face.

 

Sangyeon didn't think Younghoon could be more perfect.

 

 

***

 

 

“Younghoon, please refrain yourself from going ballistic,” Jaehyun gave him a pointed look.

 

“You don't think I should cut my hair like this again?” Younghoon pondered -an old picture of him after his interview in Haut Monde years ago, was on the screen as he gave it a look to Jaehyun. Sangyeon told him he looked pretty back then, so Younghoon wondered if he should cut his hair like that again. Maybe then Sangyeon would tell him he was pretty everyday-

 

“Why would you?!!” Jaehyun barked like Younghoon was crazy, “Please Younghoon. I don't want my Editor in Chief walking around looking like a carpenter pencil.”

 

“Jaehyun!!”

 

 

***

 

 

“Very telepathic of us,” Younghoon regarded in an exaggerated poised smile as they got out with a big win for Haut Monde after a meeting.

 

Jaehyun grinned as he walked beside Younghoon, “I shall agree on that.”

 

Younghoon circled his arm across Jaehyun’s shoulder because he was giddy about the fact that they both didn't have to talk to understand each other inside a meeting. Their bond was impeccable.

 

“A look is all we need,” Jaehyun put his chin up.

 

Younghoon giggled and did the same, “Indeed.”

 

 

***

 

 

Younghoon smiled as his parents left him alone with Sangyeon after their dinner together.

 

This weekend would be spent nicely in his parents’ house, and Younghoon was so happy that Sangyeon and his parents got along so well (even since the first time they met Sangyeon, where Sangyeon gobbled down almost all of his mother’s dishes shamelessly -saying it should be a sin to have such an incredible talent in cooking. His mother was laughing in a clear delight while his father patted Sangyeon’s back lovingly)

 

“Why didn't Jaehyun come to the reunion?” Younghoon asked as he pulled out album of his baby pictures per Sangyeon’s request.

 

“Your fault!!” Sangyeon accused him with hands on his hips, “He said he’s so swamped in deadlines. Don't work him too hard Younghoon.”

 

“But I didn't-“ Younghoon sat on his living room floor as Sangyeon followed, “I don't think Jaehyun has that many deadlines he couldn't spend time to go to the reunion party,” he started to count Jaehyun’s workload and wondered if he accidentally had given Jaehyun more than he could take, “I’ll ask him if he has any difficulties on Monday.”

 

“Thank you,” Sangyeon patted his head adoringly and Younghoon cowered feeling bashful.

 

Sangyeon picked one of the albums but Younghoon stopped him with a smile.

 

The time had come.

 

“What’s wrong?” Sangyeon blinked, still smiling although confused.

 

“Not this one,” Younghoon returned the smile -tight lipped his was, “This. You should see this one,” pushing a cream coloured album to Sangyeon’s hand. Younghoon watched as Sangyeon began to open it.

 

“Aw,” Sangyeon cooed, “Preschool time,” he chuckled and as soon as his eyes were glued on the album, Younghoon got up on his feet.

 

The time had really come.

 

Walking toward a long console table in the hallway near the living room, Younghoon opened one of its cabinet doors and pulled out a box.

 

“Oh hey-“

 

He could hear Sangyeon exclaimed from the living room. Younghoon sneered.

 

The time had really, really come.

 

He walked back and sat himself in front of Sangyeon once again, box hidden behind his back.

 

Sangyeon glanced up at him -eyes widen in surprise, “You attended Sloane Gardens Preschool??”

 

“I did,” Younghoon was ready for this.

 

“Me too!!” Sangyeon sounded so astonished at this information, “Wait- hey!! That’s me!!” he pointed to a scrawny little boy, excited, “Younghoon it’s me!!”

 

“I know.”

 

“You knew?!!”

 

“That one is me,” Younghoon kept the box hidden behind his back within his left hand, while using his right hand to point at himself in the picture -standing not too far away from Sangyeon.

 

“That’s you??!! Wait, that’s-“ Sangyeon’s face paled, “You’re-“

 

“Hello,” Younghoon finally pulled out the pink lunchbox he loved so much. The one that Sangyeon mocked from time to time saying that it was a girl lunchbox, “We meet again,” he raised the pink box -ready to hit Sangyeon with it.

 

“That’s- you’re the one- bringing a girl lunchbox- Younghoon, no- breathe, calm down-“

 

“I wasn't given a chance to hit you with it because you always ran to the teachers like a coward you are.”

 

“Younghoon-“

 

“Oh no Sangyeon,” Younghoon smiled deranged -revenge was indeed sweet, “There’s no teacher here to save you from a beating now-“

 

“Baby wait-“

 

“You little shite!!” Younghoon lunged forward to hit Sangyeon with his lunchbox, “Take this you evil!!”

 

And as Sangyeon struggled to get away, laughing with so much joy along with half bafflement at their connection back in preschool -accepting Younghoon weak beatings and wincing dramatically before engulfing Younghoon in such a warm embrace, Younghoon knew Sangyeon couldn't be more perfect.

 

 

***

 

 

“There’s a really big sale right now.”

 

“What sale?”

 

“Apparels.”

 

“Really?” Younghoon widened his eyes, ready to get up and put his coat on after he had dinner with Sangyeon’s parents -spending the weekend at Sangyeon’s parents house this time around.

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Where?” he wondered if the neighbourhood did it annually.

 

“In my room. Clothes are like, a hundred percent off.”

 

Younghoon gaped, hissing and flushing, wondering why would he still think that Sangyeon was absolutely perfect as he pinched Sangyeon’s upper arm, “What is wrong with you?!!”

 

 

***

 

 

“Juyeon?” Sangyeon called out in a whisper.

 

“Yes?”

 

“I’m very scared.”

 

“You should be,” Juyeon clenched his eyes shut and massaged the bridge of his nose.

 

Sangyeon whipped his head toward Juyeon in dismay at the betrayal, “You should be comforting me!!”

 

“Sangyeon-“

 

“We’re going down together-“

 

“Nope,” Juyeon gave him an incredulous shake of head, “How many times do I have to tell you not to crack a dad joke in an important meeting??”

 

“But-“

 

“I don’t think the rugby league directors really appreciate it when you said that their coaches must go to the bank a lot to collect their quarterbacks.”

 

“Do you hate me?”

 

“What? No-“

 

Sangyeon wondered if one of these days Jacob would fire him, “Do you think we will land the contract?”

 

“I don’t know-“

 

“Or the collaboration we want to do with them would end like Peter Pan?”

 

“What do you mean-“

 

“It Neverlands,” Sangyeon breathed all terrified.

 

Juyeon actually laughed at that. He laughed so hard that Sangyeon felt some of the tension in his shoulder loosened in an instant, “Sangyeon you’re awful!!” Juyeon bent over in a laugh so full.

 

Sangyeon grinned, “What do you think? Shall we beg for another chance?”

 

Juyeon wiped his wet eyes and let out the remnants of his laugh in a sigh -patting Sangyeon’s shoulder, “Leave it to me. I think I saw one of them held back a laugh at your quarterback joke. We can blackmail him.”

 

“Blackmail him?” Sangyeon didn't get it.

 

“Yes,” Juyeon nodded in satisfaction at his plan, “Laughing at your bad jokes is enough blackmail material.”

 

“You laughed just now!!”

 

Juyeon bit his lips in order not to do it again, “I make the rules Sangyeon.”

 

“Double standard much?”

 

Juyeon pulled a face and pushed Sangyeon toward the door, “Enough now. Let’s go and have lunch.”

 

Sangyeon grinned and wrapped his arms along Juyeon’s shoulder, “I know I make the right decision having you by my side.”

 

Juyeon rolled his eyes but smiling nonetheless.

 

If the milling rumours in the office about how Juyeon and Jaehyun were dating was true, Sangyeon knew he would be very happy about it.

 

Juyeon would be such a perfect match for his little Jaehyun.

 

 

***

 

 

So when he read it, when he read Jaehyun’s letter that was placed underneath a parka inside a gift box on top of Sangyeon’s desk, Sangyeon didn't understand.

 

Sangyeon accidentally brought Youngjae’s report rather than Sunwoo’s. The decisions needed to be made tonight before he could relay them to Jacob tomorrow. He had been pretty far from the office, but Sangyeon turned his car around to get Sunwoo’s document.

 

Looking at the time Sangyeon wasn't surprised that the office floor was almost dark already -only washed by a couple of warm ambiance lighting. He walked toward his office and frowned because he recalled putting the report on top of the sofa inside his office. But his sofa was clean, and Sangyeon wondered if someone had put them on top of his working desk when he noticed a box.

 

Walking towards it, Sangyeon tilted his head because he didn't remember seeing this when he left to go back home. His fingers hovers above it and Sangyeon carefully opened the lid.

 

A parka?

 

He then realized that it was the Kalalau No.02 Moncler 1952 from their Genius collection. Sangyeon knew because he was crushing hard on this particular piece and-

 

He blinked. He did tell Younghoon last week after the shoot. Did Younghoon buy this for him then?

 

A smile grew on his face -letting out a chuckle as Sangyeon pulled out the parka from its box.

 

A white card fell on the floor. Sangyeon bit back a laugh because Younghoon put a lot of effort into this.

 

So Sangyeon bent a little, picking the white and fancy card that just fell and opened the envelope to read its card content.

 

It started with a slight surprise, when Sangyeon read that it was Jaehyun who bought him the parka.

 

It turned into a coo, when Sangyeon read how thankful Jaehyun was toward him. Because Jaehyun didn't have to. Because Sangyeon had think of Jaehyun as his family and-

 

Then it turned into an alarming anxiety as Sangyeon’s eyes widened -restlessly reading the entire card.

 

It began in a slow yet ear-splittingly agitated single beat of heart -Sangyeon’s fears, before changing completely into erratic nerves that created a dull thud at the back of his head. Sangyeon clenched the letter tight when his upper body felt too light to his liking, because why would Jaehyun- that he would- to him-

 

This was a mess. Sangyeon couldn't reciprocate Jaehyun’s feelings like how he wanted Sangyeon to. He felt too lost and Sangyeon’s heart lurched in aches because how come he didn't see it? How come he could be so cruel, letting Jaehyun grew romantic feelings for him and that Sangyeon just looked past it?

 

The riot churning inside his chest forced Sangyeon to slam his eyes shut.

 

He didn't know what he should do. Why would Jaehyun-

 

“Sangyeon?”

 

His ribcage shook at the shock of hearing his name being called. Sangyeon hid Jaehyun’s letter fast -sliding them at the front pocket of his bag, “Sunwoo? Hey. Hey.”

 

Sunwoo studied him quietly, “Are you okay?”

 

Sangyeon licked his lips nervously, “Yeah. I was just- um- I’m looking for your report because I accidentally brought Youngjae’s instead.”

 

“Oh,” Sunwoo gave him a soft smile, “I was just about to call you to ask if I should bring my report to your place because I saw you going home already before I could finish the revision.”

 

“Is that- is that right?”

 

“Yes sir,” Sunwoo handed him a meticulously arranged document.

 

“So did you um- take the other one?”

 

“Yeah. I took it back for the notes you gave me on them.

 

“Okay,” Sangyeon gave Sunwoo a grateful squeeze of arm -smiling fondly when he saw Sunwoo’s face immediately brightened, “You did such an amazing job Sunwoo. Thank you.”

 

“No problem. Anytime. Anything,” Sunwoo nodded a couple of times before waving like a kid as he got out, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

 

“Yeah. Careful on your way home.”

 

Sangyeon didn't have time to breathe when his phone vibrated in his pants pocket.

 

Younghoon.

 

Because Sangyeon was supposed to have his dinner with Younghoon tonight as the later was overly excited about a new recipe he wanted to try, that promised savoury and healthy benefits at the same time.

 

Younghoon.

 

Sangyeon had to go to Younghoon.

 

Sangyeon just wanted to go to Younghoon.

 

 

***

 

 

Sangyeon determined to pretend that he didn't know. Sangyeon would put the card back underneath the parka, and just said that he didn't see it. He would claim that he was too afraid to open the gift box, because he didn't want to assume that the gift box was for him.

 

What Sangyeon didn't know was, the fact that Jacob wouldn't left his side since he got out of the elevator the next morning, taking him to meetings after meetings it made him forgot about the letter altogether.

 

When Jaehyun came in late for work, very late for work, Sangyeon then remembered and his heart got frantic. He had to refrain himself from running toward his office to put Jaehyun’s letter -that he put inside his bag last night, back into the box.

 

Jaehyun beat him into it. Sangyeon held the card in his hand, about to open the lid of the box, when he saw Jaehyun walking fast on his feet toward his office. So Sangyeon had to put the card inside his working desk drawer, pushing the huge box on top of his file cabinets. Then Sangyeon played along when Jaehyun told him that the gift box was for Juyeon, and not him.

 

Sangyeon wouldn't know what made Jaehyun changed his minds. Nor would he ask.

 

 

***

 

 

Sangyeon was sorry.

 

He was sorry that he couldn't love Jaehyun back.

 

Not like how Jaehyun wanted Sangyeon to love him.

 

Not like how Jaehyun loved Sangyeon.

 

Sangyeon was sorry because he knew it was impossible for him to love someone as much as he loved Younghoon.

 

Sangyeon was sorry.

 

He was sorry.

 

 

***

 

 

They didn't talk.

 

Or rather, Sangyeon didn't talk and it made Younghoon’s lips sealed shut.

 

Younghoon didn't get the explanations he deserved about Jaehyun’s letter to Sangyeon. Sangyeon never approached him to talk about it, to coax him and said that he would explain, that it was nothing to him, that Younghoon was still, and would always be Sangyeon’s one and only.

 

And it had been so long, too long since Younghoon had a proper sleep. Hyper aware of Sangyeon’s presence on his side of the bed -keeping to himself, because Younghoon had too, long refused to sleep facing Sangyeon, let alone sleeping under Sangyeon’s warm embrace like he used to. Like how he loved to.

 

The clock struck three in the morning.

 

Their bedroom was bathed in stifling silence. Younghoon slept on his side, facing his back to Sangyeon. Always with his back facing Sangyeon.

 

And Younghoon wondered. Always wondered.

 

“Do you still love me?”

 

This time he wondered out of his head in a shaky whimper. Younghoon didn't expect an answer. Sangyeon might not heard him for how quiet his voice was. Sangyeon might be asleep already since it was already three in the morning. Younghoon just wanted to breathe, just wanted to release the pent up frustration that kept clogging his airways, making it so hard for him to live.

 

The sheets rustled.

 

The bed dipped for just a little bit.

 

Younghoon could feel eyes watching from behind him.

 

Younghoon could hear an answer that was filled with too much desperation from the man he didn't want to let go.

 

“Never not Younghoon. I always will.”

 

 

***

 

 

“Are you dumb?” Younghoon shuddered out, screwing his eyes shut, hands on his hips as he lost his patience.

 

Since his and Sangyeon fall out, they were not really on speaking terms. It was devastating for him, and Younghoon was secretly thankful that they both made some promises at the beginning of their relationship. One of them was to always share a bed even though they were fighting. And for now, it was the only thing that could keep Younghoon sane. 

 

On his slightly better days, Younghoon thought it was simple. He just needed to confront Sangyeon about it. Demanded why wouldn't he ever try to discuss the whole Jaehyun matter to him. But his anxiety would always get the best of him, telling him not to do it because what if the answer was much more than Younghoon could handle? What if the answer would be followed with an apology of things Sangyeon did behind his back, or an apology because Sangyeon was trying to leave him?

 

Younghoon never failed to find his pink lunchbox on top of his desk after his morning meeting. He never saw Sangyeon cooked anything when he was home, but somehow Sangyeon always cooked lunch for him. The pink lunchbox was always accompanied by an iced americano that Younghoon liked so much.

 

After work, Younghoon would always bring his old pink lunchbox home empty. Washing them and placing them in the cupboard. And the next day, he knew he would find it filled again with his favourite dishes, ready to be devoured.

 

On his slightly better days, Younghoon knew it was Sangyeon’s silent ways to say that he still cared a lot. But his anxiety would tell him that it was Sangyeon’s ways to apologize in advance because he was going to leave Younghoon to be with Jaehyun.

 

Today, there was no pink lunchbox on his desk. Younghoon could only guess it was because Jacob had dragged Sangyeon since morning to finalize a new collaboration deal. Gentlefolk was all over the place since morning too. So Younghoon had his lunch with Chanhee, and he went to another meeting.

 

Younghoon hated to admit it, but the absence of his pink lunchbox apparently got the better of him. He got really snappy from a growing disappointment, and it didn't help the fact that some of the investors acted like arseholes.

 

The sky was dark when Younghoon finally got out from the meeting room. He just wanted to go home, but his subordinates needed his approvals. Staying late sounded awful now that Sangyeon wouldn't be there to accompany him. His chest hurt a little recalling the early years where they still tried to get to know each other, skittering around the lines of being friends yet wanting more, where Sangyeon would always be by his side.

 

The old Younghoon who hadn’t known Sangyeon wouldn't mind. The old Younghoon was so used to being independent and not relying on someone else. Everything was his to own and won. His dreams, his kingdom, his grass, his frowns and crowns. His.

 

But Sangyeon changed his mind about being solo entirely. Sangyeon impeccably showed that sharing worries, dividing the burden, and celebrating together, was far better than doing it alone. So much better, and Younghoon believed Sangyeon, felt, and did it with Sangyeon.

 

He pushed his office glass door opened and stopped dead in his tracks. The hair on his arms went up because Younghoon was sure he wasn't imagining it when he saw how one of his wardrobe door closing slowly by itself -not quite tight because Younghoon could see a small opening between the door and the wardrobe’s body frame.

 

His eyes widened and he was about to scream when from the corner of his eyes, Younghoon spotted his pink lunchbox. It wasn't placed in the middle of his desk like usual. Rather it was near the edge -about to topple off.

 

Younghoon took a deep breath, walking toward his desk and sat down -opening his laptop to start working. He wondered just how long Sangyeon would manage hiding inside the cramped wardrobe. He didn't know their relationship was this bad and Younghoon had to bite his lips to prevent himself from crying.

 

Why would Sangyeon felt the need to hide himself from Younghoon in Younghoon’s small wardrobe? Had Sangyeon really have enough of Younghoon that the thought of them seeing each other outside their bedroom was too much of a burden?

 

So Younghoon blew up. About everything. About all the things he had been keeping inside, to Jaehyun as Younghoon found a chance to actually bring the topic because he had been so jealous, oh so jealous of Jaehyun. There was so much Younghoon couldn't cover just for a fact that Jaehyun had known Sangyeon since their university years. Younghoon lost that battle, and he was too insecure about it.

 

And when Jaehyun left -saying things like how much Sangyeon respected his relationship with Younghoon and how Sangyeon had been nothing but loyal to Younghoon and how Jaehyun didn't want Sangyeon before sprinting out, Younghoon finally trampled his anxieties -overpowering them with frustration instead, and stood in front of his wardrobe.

 

“Are you dumb?” he repeated in an exhale, “Get out.”

 

The slightly ajar door swung opened as Sangyeon got out of it with his head down.

 

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” Younghoon said through gritted teeth.

 

“I’m- I’m sorry that I was only able to drop your lunch now,” Sangyeon wasn't meeting his eyes, but Younghoon could see how his chest went up taking a deep breath, “But I heard from Changmin you had your lunch with Chanhee so I guess- I guess it’s fine.”

 

It was not fine.

 

Younghoon wanted to crash in heartbreak because there was nothing fine about their relationship.

 

“I’ll leave you to it then.”

 

Then Younghoon really lost it when Sangyeon went passed him to see himself out of Younghoon’s office.

 

“Is this you breaking up with me?” Younghoon winced because his heart was hurting.

 

“What- No!!” Sangyeon turned toward him fast with disbelief in his eyes, “Why would you think-“

 

“You heard me,” and Sangyeon had turned him weak, had turned Younghoon needy and a lot more sensitive to his feelings, “You heard my dispute with Jaehyun just now, and you’re just going to leave?” he whimpered painfully, “You’re not even going to explain everything still?”

 

“I will. I want to Younghoon-“

 

“But you never do,” he whispered out his sorrow for Sangyeon to finally hear, “You don't think explaining it to me is important enough, because you’re leaving me-“

 

“Aren’t you the one who’s about to leave me?” Sangyeon asked quietly, like he was too afraid to say it out loud, afraid that it would be too real, “That’s what you said to Jaehyun just now, no? Congratulations to him because you’re leaving me?”

 

“Sangyeon-“

 

“I’m hurting too,” Sangyeon breathed out, “We shouldn't talk like this. Not when we’re too caught up in emotions-“

 

“Younghoon-“

 

“Get out!!” Younghoon barked without turning when he heard Changmin’s voice at his door.

 

Changmin murmured a soft sorry, and Younghoon made a mental note to apologize to him later, “We’re going to talk, now.”

 

Sangyeon said nothing so Younghoon smashed his brakes into pieces.

 

“My heart shattered the first time I saw Jaehyun’s letter inside your desk drawer when I was about to give you a little surprise -tickets of reservations to that horrible restaurant where we had our first date. You hurt me when you said you weren’t going to tell me if I hadn’t found the letter,” his fingers were trembling so Younghoon clenched them tight, “You hurt me when you decided to stay silent until the end of it. You hurt me when you never make any effort to talk to me and at least explain,” his last words wobbled along with his brimming eyes.

 

“I wasn't supposed to see the letter,” Sangyeon then said, carefully taking one step forward and reached for Younghoon’s hand.

 

Younghoon took one step back -heart squeezing recognizing the flash of wounded expression along Sangyeon’s face at the rejection.

 

“Jaehyun put the letter inside a gift he wrapped. He must have put it in my office after I got back home, but then I had to go back to the office and saw it and I promise Younghoon, I wanted nothing but to run to you as soon as I realized Jaehyun’s feelings for me.”

 

Younghoon heard it from Jaehyun himself that he didn't want Sangyeon. But that didn't mean it ceased the anguish the fact brought to the table. That Jaehyun had loved Sangyeon with his everything. The thought brought a grimace as Younghoon screwed his eyes shut in aches.

 

“I put it in my bag because as I was reading it, Sunwoo suddenly came in and I forgot and I remembered the next day,” Sangyeon continued, “I remembered making a decision to pretend that I didn't see it. It would save all of us the trouble-“

 

“But you keep his letter still!!” Younghoon cried out, “You keep it!! You keep his letter!!”

 

“I ran to my office as soon as I remembered,” Sangyeon pleaded, “I was about to put it inside the box again, but Jaehyun came and I had to hide it again. Inside my desk drawer, right where you found them. I didn't have the chance to put it back before Jaehyun somehow took the box away with him, so I just prayed, I prayed so much Younghoon, that Jaehyun wouldn't notice.”

 

“But he did,” Younghoon heaved out his tears in a sharp intake of breath.

 

“He did,” Sangyeon confessed -face pulling in agony, “Younghoon it was so hard for me because I feel so sorry. I could never return his feelings and I need to make sure I’m not going to hurt him in the process. I needed you so much back then Younghoon,” Sangyeon’s mustered a small dejected smile, “I needed your support. I needed you to stand beside me, and hold my hand, and tell me that everything is going to be okay. That Jaehyun would understand and believe that it won’t change anything. That I would still love and take care of him like the little brother he always is to me.”

 

“But that wouldn't be fair for you. If I did that to you, it wouldn't be fair for you,” Sangyeon whispered under his breath, “So I have to take care of it by myself first, before telling you. Because I will Younghoon. I will tell you everything, but not with all the baggage it still carried back then. I would never hurt you Younghoon. Never you. Not you,” Sangyeon tried again, reaching out to him again, and Younghoon didn't deny him this time around.

 

The back of his knees buckled as he watched how relief washed over Sangyeon’s painful writhes, “But you, not telling me things, hurts more,” Younghoon said truthfully.

 

“I’m sorry. I just don’t want to lose you. I was so afraid and it made me too short sighted. I’m sorry.”

 

“What happened to carrying the troubles together?” he asked. Had to. Because Younghoon needed to know if the word together was still in Sangyeon’s book.

 

“I don't mind bearing them by myself as long as you’re not hurting.”

 

“Does that- does that mean you still want to be with me? Because you’re not sharing your worries with me anymore-“

 

“Stop it!!” Sangyeon squeezed Younghoon’s hands withing his palms, “It means I love you too much to be putting you under any kind of distress.”

 

“I won’t lie and said that I wouldn’t be resentful if you decided to tell me about all of this back then-“

 

“Younghoon-“

 

“But that doesn't mean I won’t fight for you,” he said resolutely, heart pounding loud for his truth, “Because I will. Because I love you.”

 

They went into silence after Younghoon’s confession. His office was filled with thick tension but the good kind. The one where ones knew it meant moving forward for the better. And Younghoon felt too embarrassed, wilting under a wild contentment at the tip of his fingers because the warmth that used to envelop both of his and Sangyeon’s relationship, returning with all its glory, in an intoxicating lull after the realistic way they both handled this matter.

 

Their relationship matured as it bloomed after a storm, and Younghoon knew Sangyeon felt it too.

 

“I apologize,” Sangyeon broke the quietude in such a small whisper Younghoon almost missed it, “My greed to keep you by my side apparently just blinding me from trying to see things from your perspectives. Will you forgive me?”

 

Younghoon felt it, how his face grew warm at Sangyeon’s courteous apology before nodding slowly, “Thank you for apologizing. Thank you for telling me, and I’m sorry too. For not communicating my needs well.”

 

“Okay,” Sangyeon tried a small smile, “Okay.”

 

Younghoon smiled back nervously, feeling devastatingly shy at how loud Sangyeon’s eyes were screaming for him, loving him.

 

“Promise me something,” Sangyeon used his thumb to graze over Younghoon’s knuckles tenderly.

 

Younghoon wasn't given a chance to ask when Sangyeon said the rest of his sentence.

 

“Don’t fight for me.”

 

“What do you mean-“

 

“Younghoon you barely work out-“

 

“That was not what I meant!!” Younghoon screeched in mortification -pulling away to push Sangyeon weakly on his chest as it rumbled in laughter.

 

He frowned -remembering something, and decided to just go with it, “I have- Sangyeon I have to tell you something.”

 

“I’m all ears.”

 

So he took a deep breath, a bit braver this time because Sangyeon was here by his side loving him, “I found out that Juyeon had feelings for me back then.”

 

“I know.”

 

“I promise I didn't-“ Younghoon halted in a sputter, “You- you knew?”

 

“Yeah,” Sangyeon shrugged, “He had a Spotify playlist called I.L.Y.S.M which stands for ‘I Love Younghoon So Much’.”

 

“He what?” Younghoon whispered -lips parting in disbelief.

 

“The lad was pretty obvious about it, so I kind of got jealous and tortured him for a month or so,” Sangyeon went quiet for a second in a thought, “Or more.”

 

“You what?!! What did you do to him?!!”

 

But Sangyeon just waved his hand dismissively, “Nothing bad. Just made sure he heard my jokes at least twenty times a day, and I always flooded his personal email and number with really bad memes that Youngjae looked up for me daily. A great routine,” Sangyeon nodded by himself in satisfaction, “I even bonded with Youngjae over it after that as a bonus.”

 

“You’re awful!!”

 

“I think he lost about three kilos so I felt bad and decided to stop.”

 

“Sangyeon-“

 

“And I felt kind of silly because I know you only have your eyes on me, and you’re marrying me anyway-“

 

“I’m-“ Younghoon choked, “I’m what?”

 

Sangyeon shrugged -clearing his throat, “I mean, don’t you want to hang out and spend decades of me agreeing to your gay ideas?”

 

Usually Younghoon would hit Sangyeon, but he was too shocked to do it, “Are you proposing?”

 

“Not really- um,” Sangyeon narrowed his eyes, “Are you in a hurry?”

 

“Of what?!!”

 

“Marriage.”

 

“No!!” Younghoon spluttered. Less than graceful, “I don’t know!!”

 

“Well, that can be arranged-”

 

“Sangyeon!!”

 

 

***

 

 

“Wait, wait,” Juyeon breathed out, chest heaving for air after his supposedly sweet kiss with Jaehyun went a little heated.

 

“What? What?” Jaehyun looked worried, “Are you regretting it? Are you changing your mind-“

 

“No, Jaehyun, no,” so Juyeon pecked Jaehyun’s lips to shut him up -had been wanting to do it for such a long time, only able to do it now after Jaehyun ranted out his feelings, saying he wasn't demanding -but clearly quite the opposite, for Juyeon to be a little bit in love with him still (which was absurd because it would take a huge amount of effort for Juyeon to stop his feelings for Jaehyun)

 

“I forgot- I- I need to save Sangyeon,” Juyeon pulled out his phone to see the last text Sangyeon sent him.

 

“What? Why?” Jaehyun brows furrowed, “Is everything okay?”

 

“Yeah he um, he said he was stuck inside Younghoon’s wardrobe and-“

 

“He what?!” Jaehyun exclaimed in the ridiculousness of the information, “He’s so dumb-”

 

“Not as dumb as you making me a new bank account-“

 

“That’s a low blow Juyeon,” Jaehyun hissed, “A low blow.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

EPILOGUE

 

 

“So, are we dating?”

 

“Are you mine and am I yours?”

 

“May us have the pleasure to be each other’s protection?”

 

Jaehyun pulled a face at the last one. This was all Changmin’s fault. Or Chanhee. Or both.

 

He looked at his reflection in the mirror and groaned -definitely embarrassed at himself for practicing so late at night, just so he wouldn't stammer when he finally had the guts to ask Juyeon whether they were dating or not.

 

Chanhee was covering an article about acquaintance card that were vastly used back in America during Victorian era. Haut Monde had such a festival reading the cheesy pick-up lines that seemed insincere somehow. Nevertheless, Jaehyun had to admit it had its own charm because they were light-hearted and humorous. Not at all like how Jaehyun felt right now.

 

Jaehyun got out of his bathroom and turned off his bedroom’s light. The standing lamp near his bed automatically turned on in a dim warm lighting.

 

Changmin on the other hand, had been spending a lot of times with Haknyeon, that one day, a simple and small conversation between them made Jaehyun think twice about the relationship status of Juyeon and him that was safe to say, vague.

 

Changmin gave Haknyeon the biggest orange chocolate cake someone could ever find for his birthday (even Jacob and Kevin looked jealous at the size of Haknyeon’s cake). And Haknyeon’s eyes were gleaming, face glowing as he said,

 

“Changmin I love you-“

 

Before stopping himself in doubt and continued,

 

“No homo though.”

 

Jaehyun remembered snorting so hard and was left shocked later on, when Changmin rolled his eyes in such adore and replied,

 

“Hak, we’re literally dating. You’re so stupid.”

 

Haknyeon choked on his cake, while he and Youngjae who was present at that time almost fell on the floor at the revelation.

 

“We- we are?”

 

Youngjae was screaming his head off when Changmin just smiled coyly at Haknyeon’s question before leaning in to kiss him.

 

Jaehyun was disgusted.

 

It happened last week, and it made him think about his relationship with Juyeon.

 

Two months passed since Jaehyun’s delicate confession -what he liked to thought of it anyway rather than demanding, and everything was…okay?

 

Juyeon held his hand sometimes, when they walked side by side to have dinner after office in a nearby restaurant. Juyeon said Jaehyun was really cute sometimes, as he then proceeded to poke Jaehyun’s flushing cheek with his long finger. Juyeon-

 

Jaehyun felt his stomach swirled hard as he curled up on his bed. He screwed his eyes shut, clenching his pillows between his shaking fingers remembering how one time they were so into their conversation in Juyeon’s place, and the clock struck three in the morning. Juyeon told him to stay and Jaehyun had agreed and they laid down side by side on Juyeon’s bed and Jaehyun didn't think he could ever sleep before passing out two seconds later from how exhausted he was. That morning, they drove with Juyeon’s car to work and Juyeon too, drove him back as they got off work together. Juyeon kissed his cheek softly and wished him a good night before leaving.

 

“This isn’t happening,” Jaehyun spelled it again and again like a mantra, “This isn’t happening,” to make himself believe that his emotions hadn’t aged backwards because he felt like a simpering child so bewitched by a silly crush a lot.

 

And Jaehyun let himself stared longer when he was alone with Juyeon -hiding his face behind the menu book when Juyeon grinned having caught him in the process of ogling. Jaehyun let his fingers reached out to Juyeon’s sleeves sometimes when he felt particularly clingy -ignoring Juyeon’s eyes as the later let out such a small, and sweet, and affectionate chuckle under his breath before walking slower to match Jaehyun’s steps.

 

Goodness Jaehyun was a fool and didn't he know it. The thoughts of Juyeon kept coming and telling him that he shouldn't sleep. And he had lost so many of them!!

 

His phone on the nightstand vibrated and Jaehyun was panicking all by himself almost tripping from the way his white sheet tangled between his legs.

 

Juyeon Lee

Hi Jaehyun! I’m sorry for texting you so late. Sunwoo has an amazing idea for one of his shoot props that will cost Gentlefolk’s staffs their precious times. If you’re free tomorrow after work, would you like to help me with the DIY project?

 

Oh! DIY! Jaehyun’s heart beat faster. It only meant long night being spent together with Juyeon.

 

Jaehyun Lee

Do it yourself

 

He quickly typed his reply. His foolishly bewildered heart was trying its best to appear smart in front of Juyeon, and Jaehyun was busy typing long about what kind of food should they buy to accompany them tomorrow while doing the DIY, when Juyeon’s next text came.

 

Juyeon Lee

Oh. Oh, okay.

Okay. I’m sorry. I should have asked if you’re not busy. My bad.

I guess I’ll see you tomorrow Jaehyun.

 

What? What? Jaehyun blinked twice and realized his earlier message had sounded so fucking rude-

 

“No, no, no-“ so he pressed call.

 

“Jaehyun?”

 

“I was just- fuck- it sounds so stupid now, I was just- you know- I mean, DIY, do it yourself. I was just trying to sound fucking smart and ended up being rude and misunderstood and now that I think about it, even my sister’s kids know what a DIY is. I’m sorry Juyeon, I didn't mean to-“

 

“Hey, Jaehyun. It’s alright.”

 

An amused stifled laugh was clear in Juyeon’s cheerful tone. Jaehyun heaved out a relieved sigh before clearing his throat, “What I’m trying to say is…well…First of all, I know what a DIY is.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“It stands for do it yourself.”

 

“Correct.”

 

Juyeon had said in an amused tone. Jaehyun cleared his throat, “And, well…well-“

 

“Well?”

 

“I’d love you- to!! To!! I’d love to!! I’d love to help you!!” he screeched nearing Changmin’s level of screams, “I said to,” before whispering in a weak humiliation.

 

The line went terrifyingly quiet after his graceless yell and Jaehyun held his breath, wanting to cry-

 

“Okay.”

 

But Juyeon had said with a smile. Jaehyun knew because he could trace it, was already familiar with the way Juyeon talked, “Okay.”

 

“Shall we have dinner before staying late at the office tomorrow then?”

 

Juyeon asked benevolently, taking Jaehyun’s breath away as if he hadn’t tortured Jaehyun enough just by existing, “I’ll go- I’ll- go wherever you go.”

 

The quietude fell upon them again, wrapping in a defeaning heartbeat kind of nerve it made Jaehyun’s toes curled in bashfulness.

 

“That’s very sweet of you.”

 

Jaehyun bend forward -pressing his forehead on top of his bed in a soft thump, slamming his eyes shut because he was such a disgrace.

 

“I’ll see you tomorrow?”

 

“Okay. I’ll see you- I’ll- okay, tomorrow.”

 

“Have a good rest Jaehyun.”

 

“Yeah,” Jaehyun whispered -left hand clenching his chest in a good kind of angst, “You too.”

 

 

***

 

 

‘I’d love you- to!! To!! I’d love to!! I’d love to help you!!’

 

‘I’ll go- I’ll- go wherever you go.’

 

Juyeon calmly ended the call and put his phone down on his kitchen island. He also calmly walked toward his French Door Refrigerator -holding both handles tight within his palms, before leaning forward to put his burning face inside it, hoping the cool interior of the refrigerator across his skin could also cool down his recklessly beating heart.

 

“Fucking hell,” he whispered to himself, eyes wide shut as Jaehyun’s words repeated inside his head like a broken record.

 

It didn't really come as a surprise.

 

Juyeon always knew Jaehyun would be the death of him anyway, when the later practically fell asleep two seconds after they both laid down on Juyeon’s bed, while Juyeon was busy nursing his hammering heart for having Jaehyun in his bedroom, on his bed.

 

 

***

 

 

Juyeon put his hands up, “I’ll do it.”

 

Jacob threw a winning look at Kevin, “Look, my kid. Very admirable, very-“

 

“I’ll accompany Juyeon,” Jaehyun shrugged as he turned toward him letting out a smile.

 

Juyeon had to really bite down his smile before the whole members of the meeting could see how bad he got it for Jaehyun.

 

Kevin threw a winning look at Jacob, “Look, my kid. Very responsible, very-“

 

“Can I just-“ Sunwoo put his hand up cutting Kevin off, “Please say something?” wiping his sweaty forehead with his handkerchief.

 

Glitterati building -for the second time in seven years, managed to break their central conditioning and left everyone sweating like they were inside a sauna.

 

Juyeon realized how bad it was, when he saw all of Haut Monde’s staffs hung their suit jacket at the back of their chairs, loosen their tie completely, and opened two to three buttons of their crisp dress shirt.

 

“Yes, Sunwoo?” Sangyeon puffed his cheeks giving Sunwoo his chance to speak.

 

“When you two,” Sunwoo pointedly stared at him and Jaehyun back and forth, “Volunteer to stay and waited until the building electrical engineers come to our floor’s turn tonight, can I just please- like begging you, not to fuck on my desk-“

 

“What the fuck Sunwoo!!” Jaehyun reached pretty far from where he was seated to pull Sunwoo’s fringe and Juyeon groaned -running his palm through his face.

 

“Damn it!! Jaehyun let him go-“ Chanhee pulled Jaehyun away from Sunwoo who turned redder than he was before, “It’s not like he asked you two not to fuck-“

 

“Yeah, just not on his desk,” Youngjae quipped with furrowed brows, “It’s hardly a difficult request-“

 

“Enough,” Younghoon inhaled deeply -closing his eyes as he tipped his head back, looking for any kind of fresh air which was nowhere to be found.

 

Poor lad. Juyeon reminded himself to give Younghoon a can of his oxygen spray after the meeting.

 

“No fucking in this office,” Kevin frowned.

 

“But you somehow decided to supply condoms years ago in our company’s bathroom?” Sangyeon frowned back and Kevin grumbled under his breath while Jacob purposefully not looking at Sangyeon in the eyes.

 

“Anyway,” Juyeon sighed, “I’m terribly sorry to break it to you, but we’re not really living in some porn videos that you and Chanhee subscribed together to. This is real world. We have CCTV in this office, and-“

 

“Sunwoo and I are not subscribing to a porn channel together,” Chanhee hissed.

 

Juyeon didn't know if he should laugh or felt bad when Sunwoo’s face fell like he had been betrayed, wait probably heartbroken. Juyeon definitely didn't want to go near whatever beef Chanhee had with Sunwoo.

 

“Wait,” Changmin tilted his head -the smile he had was shaky, “CCTV you said…huh.”

 

Juyeon once again, didn't know if he should laugh or felt disgusted when Haknyeon and Changmin sprinted to the wide open meeting room door toward the IT team part of the office. Juyeon definitely did not want to go near whatever mess Changmin had created together with Haknyeon.

 

“Do I even-“ Sangyeon blinked hard, “Do I even want to know? What they’ve been- I’m-” he turned toward Juyeon, “Should I ask?”

 

“No,” Juyeon shook his head, “For your own sake.”

 

“Right,” Sangyeon looked shaken, “Right okay. As we agreed on, Juyeon and Jaehyun would stay and wait for the building electrical engineers tonight. Thank you so much you two. If anything happens, you need help somehow, don’t hesitate to call me okay. I think we’re all good to go home now.”

 

Murmured of agreements filled the humid meeting room as everyone got up on their feet and left.

 

Juyeon stayed on his seat and broke into small fits of laughter when Jaehyun got up and half hopping on his steps toward him. Jaehyun pulled the meeting chair beside Juyeon and put his hands on both sides of Juyeon’s chair as they sat facing each other.

 

“Hello~” Jaehyun grinned.

 

Before answering the lovely greetings, Juyeon noticed how the staffs were clearing out the area with relief all over their faces -seemingly couldn't wait to go home, through Jaehyun’s shoulder. Jaehyun followed his sight and twisted his neck a little to do so.

 

Juyeon watched Jaehyun for a while before getting the latter’s attention again, “Hi Jaehyun.”

 

Jaehyun was pressing shyness as his shoulder went up when he smiled, “Eunwoo said the team would probably visit our floor in another two or three hour. Should we order something for dinner? Did you have dinner already? I mean, it is half past nine. I actually already had my dinner with Changmin. But I can eat again with you if you want. And-“

 

And Juyeon let Jaehyun rambled, feeling so overwhelmingly attached to Jaehyun’s perky mood. There were nights where Juyeon hoped Jaehyun was sleeping beside him again like that one time. Jaehyun could pick his favourite side of Juyeon’s bed, whichever he liked best. Jaehyun was more than welcomed to stay whenever.

 

Or forever.

 

Sometimes Juyeon wanted to pretend he forgot the road to Jaehyun’s apartment just so he could take Jaehyun to his place, even though Jaehyun already spent an incredible amount of time in his flat already. But it wasn’t enough, and Juyeon knew the exact reason why he himself couldn't bring the topic up for Jaehyun to consider.

 

They weren’t exclusive. Yet.

 

It must have slipped his mind the first time because he was too dazed for having Jaehyun telling him that he was pulling his heart together just for Juyeon. And Juyeon remembered losing so much sleep for almost five days in a row because it still felt unreal that Jaehyun kept his promises on trying his best to let Juyeon in. His heart was aching in such ardour because Jaehyun made it seemed so easy, like he was already maybe a little bit in love with Juyeon too, and it drove Juyeon completely crazy.

 

“Juyeon?”

 

“Can I-“ Juyeon licked his lips nervously, “Ask you something?”

 

Jaehyun -lovely Jaehyun, glanced up through his pretty lashes in silent concern, “Yes.”

 

“What made you,” Juyeon looked up at the ceiling for a second, “Want-“ no, not want me. That was too narcistic of him to ask, “I mean-“

 

“What made me realized I want you?”

 

“It’s-“ Juyeon’s heart was screaming in its glorious meekness -heavily embarrassed by Jaehyun’s straightforward question, “Yeah.”

 

Jaehyun didn't immediately answer. His chest moved lightly as he take a breath, “When it was clear to me that I hate the thought of you being alone with Younghoon a whole lot more, than the thought of Sangyeon being together with Younghoon.”

 

It might sound so simple in other people’s ears. But for Juyeon it meant everything. Juyeon knew how much love Jaehyun had and saved for Sangyeon. Juyeon saw the way Jaehyun kept getting up on his bruised feet even after getting his heart beaten, to still run to Sangyeon. And as the thought occurred to him, the insecurities he had been trying so hard to hide stealthily came to the surface.

 

Would Jaehyun one day do the same to him too? Would Jaehyun fight for Juyeon with everything he has someday too?

 

“And when I find myself being stupid and sounding stupid when it comes to you,” Jaehyun used his feet to slide his chair closer to Juyeon’s, “Like how I miss you now,” he shrugged looking nonchalant but the red flush on his cheeks stated otherwise, “It doesn't make sense because you’re here with me, and that sounds so stupid. But I’ve been feeling a lot of stupid things about you anyway, so it doesn't matter.”

 

And it almost like Jaehyun could read his mind as he gingerly grasped the front of Juyeon’s loose white dress shirt, “I just think-“ Jaehyun trailed in his words quietly, “I’ve been catching feelings for you longer than I myself realized. When I called you, that night. When you were out of town-”

 

Juyeon held his breath.

 

“I ended things as clean as I could with Sangyeon that night. You asked me where was I, and I had been running trying to stop thinking about you and Younghoon being together for a whole day. And I just, I did what I could Juyeon,” Jaehyun gave him a smile that looked more like a painful wince, “So after talking things through with him -with Sangyeon, I just couldn't wait. I just want you right there and then. Just- now. And I called you and- and I realized I can’t just have you just because I want to. I can’t stop you from changing your mind about me, or changing your mind about Younghoon so I was- I was pretty agitated.”

 

“And then you came to work, all nice, all- all great and friendly with Younghoon and I just think- I was so absolutely jealous,” Jaehyun put his head down and squeezed Juyeon’s shirt tighter, “And rather than regretting making a decision to move on from Sangyeon, I regretted not noticing my feelings for you sooner. Because Juyeon trust me,” Jaehyun’s eyes went up to him -devastatingly hopeful, “There isn’t even an ounce of regret in my heart about moving on from Sangyeon. None.”

 

The verbal confirmations made Juyeon’s heart lurched, then he took Jaehyun’s hand that had been holding on to him within his palm. Juyeon tangled their fingers together and kissed the back of Jaehyun’s hand lovingly. Wanting to kiss him, embraced him, telling Jaehyun that yes, Jaehyun could have Juyeon just because he wanted to.

 

Because Juyeon was easy for Jaehyun.

 

Always too easy.

 

 

***

 

 

“Chanhee- wait- hey-“

 

“Yes?” Chanhee had his eyes pointedly wide, brows rising, lips pulled in a tight smile, “Yes Sunwoo?”

 

“Does our shared subscription for that particular porn channel means nothing to you?” Sunwoo whispered because he felt really hurt.

 

“That’s it,” Youngjae stomped his feet -groaning loud, “I’m taking another elevator.”

 

“It’s going to end next month anyway, and we don’t have to renew it-“

 

“Why not?!!” Sunwoo demanded shakily, “You can’t deny how hard I’ve tried,” he breathed painfully, “To change my porn preferences. To put you first.”

 

Younghoon who had been standing behind the two -waiting for an elevator too, held Sangyeon’s hand who was standing beside him, whispering quietly to Sangyeon’s ears, “We should have gone with Youngjae-“

 

“There ain’t no gold in this river Sunwoo,” Chanhee said -laced with desperation, “That I’ve been washing my hands in forever. I know there is hope in this waters-“

 

Sangyeon frowned.

 

As Chanhee continued, “But you never move forward. Towards me. So now I gave up.”

 

Sangyeon’s frowns deepened.

 

“Chanhee,” Sunwoo pleaded in his whimpers, “Go easy on me.”

 

“Are you two fighting while using Adele’s new song as preferences?” Sangyeon couldn't hold it in anymore.

 

“Sangyeon!!” Younghoon hissed, couldn't believe how rude his boyfriends was for interrupting a lovers quarrel.

 

“Yes,” Chanhee answered in a sniffle -turning to Sangyeon, “It’s fun.”

 

“It is,” Sunwoo smiled weakly, “Great song too. Chanhee and I have been listening to it together on our shared Spotify subscription.”

 

“You lads are subscribing to a lot of things together,” Sangyeon snorted, “I mean, Chanhee clearly is waiting for you to make a move.”

 

“Damn it Sangyeon!!” Younghoon hissed through gritted teeth, “Let the kids handle this.”

 

There was obvious heartbreak swimming across Sunwoo’s eyes, “How dare I make a move when Chanhee has so many options to choose from?”

 

“Oh my god,” Younghoon put his palm across his lips, “I feel you.”

 

Sangyeon frowned at Younghoon.

 

“I’m insecure enough about whether my feelings are returned-“

 

“Oh my God,” Younghoon breathed -brows crunching sympathetically.

 

Sangyeon’s frows deepened.

 

“And I also have to live every day, knowing that I have so many foes to fight for your affection.”

 

“Oh my-“

 

“If you say oh my God once again,” Sangyeon yanked Younghoon’s arm slightly to get his attention, “I’m going to start thinking that you feel the same way about me, like how Sunwoo feels toward Chanhee.”

 

Chanhee and Sunwoo frowned, turning to look at Younghoon and Sangyeon.

 

“Well can you blame me?” Younghoon asked exasperatedly, “I didn't even know if you were gay at that time-“

 

“Younghoon no,” Sangyeon whispered in anguish, “How many times do I have to tell you, that I’m only gay for you-“

 

“Can you both leave?” Chanhee snarked, “This is Sunwoo and I’s moment. Respect please.”

 

“Teenagers these days,” Sangyeon grumbled but pulled Younghoon toward an elevator that was opened anyway as they both held each other’s hands with assuring words of how much they loved each other.

 

“I don’t care about the others,” Chanhee crossed his arms, “It’s not my fault that they’re enamoured.”

 

“Well,” Sunwoo’s heart started crawling at the back of his throat, “Are you- are you somehow taken?”

 

Chanhee really thought Sunwoo was stupid. But he really, really wanted Sunwoo to be his stupid, “Only for granted.”

 

“I-“ Sunwoo choked.

 

“By you.”

 

“I’m sorry?” Sunwoo gasped for air.

 

“Depends.”

 

“On what?”

 

“Are you going to make up for it?”

 

“I- will,” Sunwoo looked up with pure determination, “I will make it up to you. Let me Chanhee. Let me make it up to you.”

 

“How?”

 

“By being on your side forever-”

 

Chanhee bit his bottom lip hard. Stupid Sunwoo.

 

“To make sure you get nothing but the best kind of love.”

 

“The best kind of love huh,” Chanhee sighed, “From you?”

 

“Only I can do.”

 

Stupid, stupid Sunwoo. Chanhee turned on his heels biting a smile, “Fine.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Are we boyfies now?”

 

“Only if you stop calling us boyfies.”

 

“Anything for you Chanhee,” Sunwoo sighed along with an exasperatedly fond smile, “Anything.”

 

 

***

 

 

Jaehyun knew it must have been hard to trust him. If Jaehyun was in Juyeon’s shoes, he too, would doubt himself about the whole moving on from Sangyeon. For how hard he had fought for Sangyeon back then, Jaehyun understood if Juyeon somehow felt some hesitation about the idea of them being officially together.

 

Yet it was his truth. It was how he felt, his own, but Jaehyun could understand where Juyeon came from. Jaehyun had put Sangyeon first for so many years, for so long. So he decided to be patient, waiting, hoping and praying that one day Juyeon could see that Jaehyun wanted no one but Juyeon now. No one but him. Only him.

 

So he waited, patiently. He tried to make Juyeon see, hear and feel, about his growing feelings for Juyeon. Jaehyun albeit embarrassed, would stop turning away when his eyes met Juyeon’s -opting to give a smile instead before hiding his face between his palms to hide his warm cheeks, only after Juyeon returned the smile back. Jaehyun although afraid, started to say how much he enjoyed Juyeon’s company -spelling out his truth loudly for Juyeon to hear about the loneliness he felt when they were somehow apart. And Jaehyun despite timid, let himself clinging to Juyeon when he felt like it, and it was more than just sometimes.

 

Some nights Jaehyun would have to swallow the big lumps that refused to go away as Jaehyun felt down casted laying on his bed because another day had passed where Juyeon was still not his officially. There were many nights where Jaehyun slept while feeling so crestfallen for how much his heart asking him why it hadn’t held the hand of Juyeon’s heart yet.

 

But he didn't complain. Didn't dare to complain because Jaehyun would wait until Juyeon believed him, believed that Jaehyun spared zero thoughts on any kind of romantic feelings he used to have for Sangyeon.

 

The door in front of him clicked open and Jaehyun glanced up.

 

“Come in,” Juyeon greeted with a smile as soon as he opened his apartment door.

 

Jaehyun put his thoughts away and offered a smile too before letting himself in. Juyeon called him last night asking if he wanted to spend a whole Saturday with him in his place and Jaehyun agreed immediately.

 

The door was being closed behind him, and Jaehyun although had been in Juyeon’s flat for so many times, was still standing awkwardly waiting to be told to take a seat.

 

And suddenly Juyeon stood so close in front of him, that Jaehyun’s upper body instinctively pulled backwards a little, “Hi,” he tried in a whisper, feeling flushed at their proximity, at the way Juyeon circled both his arms around his waist.

 

“Hi there,” Juyeon grinned as he leaned forward, but stopping like he remembered something, “I was thinking.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“I want to take a step forward in our relationship.”

 

What? Jaehyun blinked fast and hard just like how his heart pounded. He gaped so loss for words and more when Juyeon let him go and got down on one knee and-

 

“Juyeon-“

 

Juyeon glanced up at him in moon crescent eyes, smiling so wide as he offered Jaehyun a folded yellow note.

 

What? Jaehyun said it out loud this time around, “What?”

 

Jaehyun took the note and Juyeon got up as Jaehyun opened it.

 

“What is this-“

 

“My Wi-Fi’s password.”

 

Jaehyun had to stop himself from punching Juyeon in the face. Because he really would. Back then, he really would.

 

Juyeon meanwhile, looked so proud at this ‘development’ in their ‘relationship.’

 

“Wonderful,” Jaehyun sighed -he got nervous for nothing then.

 

“You can use my Wi-Fi now!!” Juyeon said excitedly.

 

“Very generous of you.”

 

“Well?” Juyeon looked at him expectantly, “You don’t have to use your internet data when you’re here.”

 

“Right, okay, thank you,” Jaehyun inhaled in a shaky breath.

 

But Juyeon kept looking at him like he was really waiting for Jaehyun to use his Wi-Fi. Jaehyun groaned as he took his phone out from his pants and went to his phone’s data settings -finally relenting.

 

“Alright, what’s your Wi-Fi’s name then?”

 

It took Juyeon a second too long before spelling out his answer gently, “Will you be mine Jaehyun?”

 

Jaehyun’s head snapped up so fast at this, “What?”

 

“Will you be mine Jaehyun?” Juyeon repeated.

 

And indeed, indeed when Jaehyun look at his screen, ‘Will you be mine Jaehyun?’ was there -registered as one of many Wi-Fi’s connections available.

 

And Juyeon, Juyeon was looking at him in such a delicate smile, “I forgot,” he said quietly, “You can only use my Wi-Fi, if your answer to my question is the exact same one with my Wi-Fi’s password I just gave you.”

 

Jaehyun’s stomach was churning wildly, heart trashing making his chest rumbled in abandon because he read what the password was in Juyeon’s yellow note. But this felt too good to be true, Jaehyun afraid he read them wrong the first time, so he opened Juyeon’s yellow note again.

 

‘I will’

 

The password to Juyeon’s Wi-Fi was ‘I will.’

 

Then Jaehyun felt the back of his eyes burning, the bridge of his nose warming and he didn't dare to look at Juyeon because he was too washed in relief, too confused as to why he felt like crying when he felt so fortunate and in love.

 

So Jaehyun wiped his brimming eyes with the sleeves of his sweater and punched the words in, whimpered out a thin sob disguised as a weak laugh, when his phone stated that he was connected to Juyeon’s internet connection.

 

“There,” he breathed out in a sharp exhale -showing Juyeon’s his phone screen, “Your Wi-Fi’s mine.”

 

“As you are,” Juyeon spoke so gently, “Mine,” staying rooted to where he was standing, “Don’t cry.”

 

“I came here-“ Jaehyun felt stupid, silly, everything that got him all embarrassed and in full chagrin, “But then-“ he didn't think he even made sense now, “Because Juyeon, I would understand.”

 

“What would you understand?”

 

And Jaehyun was somehow thankful, that Juyeon stayed in his place, didn't come forward and near because Jaehyun didn't think he could handle it. Not right now.

 

So he basked in Juyeon’s warm consideration, “If you change your mind,” he whispered out his fears for Juyeon to hear, “If you find it hard to believe me. If you find yourself doubting me, about how I feel about you, about-“

 

“Why would I do that?”

 

“Because!!” Jaehyun sobbed exasperatedly, “Because-“

 

Juyeon’s frame tensed ever so slightly and it made Jaehyun glanced up, “Because you’re still in love with Sangyeon-“

 

“No!!” Jaehyun crumpled the yellow note beneath his palm, “No it’s not that- see? You see what I mean-“

 

“I don't know why should I doubt you, unless you give me a really good reason to,” Juyeon’s face hardened, “So tell me Jaehyun, is there a reason for me to do that?” despite the obvious waver in his voice painted in sheer agitation.

 

“No- I don't know-“

 

“You told me you’re giving your best to move on from Sangyeon and I believe you. I made my own decision Jaehyun. You don't make them for me-“

 

“Why would you do that?”

 

“Do what?”

 

“Giving me a chance.”

 

Jaehyun saw hurt flashing fast across Juyeon’s face and he hated the fact that it was him that brought it, but Jaehyun must know.

 

“Are you telling me I shouldn’t?” Juyeon’s palms turned to fists now and Jaehyun, Jaehyun just wanted to hold it and kissed it.

 

“That’s not what I mean.”

 

“Then?”

 

Juyeon’s voice had turned low and Jaehyun tasted trepidation at the tip of his tongue -heart wincing in anguish because Juyeon was too lovely to be putting himself in Jaehyun’s puddles of mess.

 

“I’m saying that I will understand if you want to wait. If you want to see how things will go before asking- before asking me-“

 

“Let me ask you again, is it still him for you then?”

 

“That’s not my point-“

 

“Just answer the question,” Juyeon didn't raise his voice at him. Jaehyun would. Jaehyun would love to scream at Juyeon asking if he still thought about Younghoon sometimes when Jaehyun let his insecurities gnawed at his poor heart. Even though Juyeon’s eyes had turned cold, his tone was all bitter, but Juyeon never raised his voice at Jaehyun as he asked, “Answer the question Jaehyun-“

 

“It’s not!! He’s not!! And that’s the thing no Juyeon?” he wilted, “For how hard I tried to make it work with him back then, I will understand if you need time to trust me. I’m saying that it’s okay for you to take this slow. I won’t push you to do things you don’t want to like- like-“

 

“Like what?”

 

Jaehyun gazed at Juyeon in a dejected smile, “Like wanting me.”

 

And Jaehyun would understand if this conversation somehow brought Juyeon back to his senses. Seeing that he had so much opportunity rather than being stuck with Jaehyun.

 

“I can’t be happier than this Juyeon,” Jaehyun raised Juyeon’s yellow note that he held on his right hand, “But I just want to tell you that it’s okay too, if you still want to think things through. I understand if you think than I’m still under the shadow of love I had for Sangyeon-“

 

“Are you?”

 

“Am I what?”

 

“Still under the shadow of love you had for Sangyeon?”

 

“No!!” Jaehyun shook his head fast, “I told you that I’m not there anymore-“

 

“So why are you saying that I have that thought?”

 

“That’s-“

 

“You don't want to push me,” Juyeon breathed an incredulous laugh, “To do things I don't want to, like wanting you,” ridiculing in each of his words, “What kind of bollocks-“

 

“Because no one really wants me no?” his truth knocked air out of his own lungs, “That I’m-“

 

And Jaehyun watched how Juyeon’s eyes turned in alarm, “Jaehyun-“

 

“Because- years-“ he stammered under a stifling breath because for the first time, Jaehyun finally admitted the little demons that had been pounding at him in such a woeful sound, “Because I spent years believing-“ his legs felt like giving out, “I’m not saying this because I was still in love with him because I’m not. But Juyeon you can’t deny that Sangyeon is nice. He is kind and warm-hearted and selfless and still, he doesn't want me. Someone as generous as him, can’t find it within him to want me, so there must be something wrong with me.”

 

“That’s not how it works Jaehyun.”

 

“I know.”

 

“Then don’t think like that-“

 

“I can’t help it,” Jaehyun tried a weak smile, “But I know it’s not right. That’s a start Juyeon. No?”

 

Juyeon only able to take a step forward when Jaehyun stopped him.

 

“Stop!! Give me-” he didn't mean to scream and Juyeon did stop in his tracks, and Jaehyun was sorry, “So it doesn't- when you said you’re a little bit in love with me, I got so confused but not in a bad way Juyeon I promise. Because I liked it back then hearing it. I was startled, frightened, baffled yes. But you wouldn't know how much you had felt like a solace to me. I didn't know where to go but you-“ Jaehyun hid his face with his palms wanting to hide his anxieties that had turned into a sharp and shaky intake of breath. Just a second. He just needed a second to breathe.

 

“I had nowhere to go but then you’re there,” Jaehyun puffed out -smiling, grimacing as he glanced back at Juyeon who looked worried out of his head. The sight brough a warm chuckle to his chest. So Jaehyun straightened himself up, “You’re there,” he repeated, “All glorious in your endless considerations, and gentleness and oh Juyeon,” Jaehyun was so in love, “Did I ever tell you how sweet you are? How precious your affections are to me? How beloved you are to me?”

 

And Jaehyun stopped himself, feeling too stunned because the fears he had from expressing his insecurities out loud, was nowhere to be found. Jaehyun thought he would become weaker, smaller, and be inadequate more than he already was when he admitted his shortcomings out loud for Juyeon to hear. But he didn’t. Liberation was washing him in its silence and Jaehyun had adrenaline rushing through his veins -making him feel like he could face anything.

 

“So,” Jaehyun was a bit braver now, “Here I am, telling you that I want to be with you, but only if you really want to. And when you really do, I’ll come to you, I’ll keep running to you-“

 

“Thank you.”

 

“Pardon?” Jaehyun’s heart seized when Juyeon let out a small smile.

 

“For sharing it with me,” Juyeon was gallant in his soft spoken words, “For trusting me with everything you just tell me. Thank you.”

 

“I’m- you…you’re welcome.”

 

“And you’re right. It’s a start,” there was understanding in Juyeon’s benign gaze, “I hate that you have to feel and think that no one would ever want you. But you felt it and I can’t control it. But you can. You know it isn’t right, and you want to win over it.”

 

“I do.”

 

“You’re doing so great Jaehyun,” Juyeon smiled -so gracious, “I’m very honoured to call someone as wonderful as you as mine.”

 

Jaehyun’s heart felt so full, relishing under Juyeon’s infatuations. Jaehyun was afraid that his heart would break, that it would burst forth from how much love it kept for Juyeon.

 

“Don’t run Jaehyun,” Juyeon walked up to him before engulfing him in an embrace so benevolent it got Jaehyun’s chest in shambles, “You don’t have to run to me because I’m here.”

 

Juyeon was romance.

 

“Don’t run to me Jaehyun because I’m here, loving you more than you could imagine.”

 

Maybe Juyeon was the one, was everything Jaehyun had ever wanted.

 

“Stop running Jaehyun. I’m already here, ready to love you with my everything.”

 

 

***

 

 

“I need you to trust me.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“I love you.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

“Thank you?!!” Jaehyun shrilled -getting up from where he was seated on Juyeon’s bed, “I said I love you and you said thank you?!!”

 

Juyeon was laughing and it was not funny. Jaehyun kicked him and Juyeon comedically rolled down -thumping on the floor, still laughing.

 

“Say it back!!” Jaehyun hissed through gritted teeth, “Say it back!!” he demanded petulantly.

 

And Juyeon, his sweetheart Juyeon, sat on the floor -folding his arms on top of each other on the edge of the bed, resting his right cheek on them as he glanced up at Jaehyun fondly, “I love you too.”

 

“Okay~” Jaehyun jumped cheerily on his feet toward Juyeon’s lap.

 

And Juyeon, his dearest Juyeon, let out a yelp as they tumbled on their backs from Jaehyun’s attack.

 

And Jaehyun, Jaehyun kissed his beloved before resting himself on top of Juyeon’s chest. Resting his heart completely on Juyeon.

 

 

***

 

 

Juyeon should run.

 

But he held himself nicely -wanting to see until the end of it because indeed, it was him who had hired an epic performance of an acapella group of five people, in the exact same yellow duck costume Jaehyun bought last time, to serenade Jaehyun who was now looking petrified, sitting with horror in one of the communal area’s meeting table.

 

Juyeon wrote the lyrics himself, and left the music arrangement to the group -saying they could sing it however they wanted.

 

They sang it in ballad.

 

Perfect.

 

Jaehyun glared at him like he was ready to pounce on Juyeon and killed him.

 

Also perfect.

 

“So quack, quack, Jaehyun quack~ Stop barking cause you ain’t a dog~”

 

“Fuck,” Youngjae whispered from beside him and Juyeon grinned. Because fuck indeed.

 

“Have I told you I like the way you walk~ Cause your butt moves in such a lark~”

 

Jaehyun’s face was burning so bright it got Juyeon cramps in his stomach.

 

“This song’s for you I made them past the dusk~ hoping you’ll kiss me when you are not drunk~”

 

“What the fuck,” Changmin whispered from behind Youngjae and Juyeon bit his knuckles hard.

 

“Let’s buy Chanhee’s stacks of condoms in a bulk~”

 

“Hey!!” Chanhee protested.

 

“Then we can go down on each other’s junk~”

 

“What the FUCK Juyeon??!!!”

 

 

***

 

 

“When I said-“

 

“I hate the thought of you being jealous,” Juyeon threw his hands up, pretending to be upset.

 

“Shut up,” Jaehyun hissed as he stopped pacing around and leaned his face dangerously close toward Juyeon’s grinning one, “You’re enjoying this!!”

 

“You said you’re still salty that I once made a Spotify playlist for Younghoon!!”

 

“That doesn't mean I want a whole acapella group, dressing in a duck costume, serenading me about how you like the way my butt moves in such a lark!!” Jaehyun shrilled loudly, gritting his teeth afterwards in a threatening manner, “You’re lucky that Jacob and Kevin apparently loves duck so much that now they’re fighting to take pictures with the ducks- with the acapella ducks- oh, whatever they are!!”

 

“I wrote the lyrics,” Juyeon tried his luck.

 

“Yeah I can only imagine.”

 

“Why would I make a Spotify playlist when I can make you a whole song about wanting to go down on your junks-“

 

“Shut up Juyeon!!”

 

 

***

 

 

When The Duck Quacks, Jaehyun Barks

 

That was apparently the title of the song Juyeon wrote him. Jaehyun peered at the scribbled notes he got from one of the acapella lads. He had asked Jaehyun to give the handwritten lyrics sheet back to Juyeon because at the moment, Juyeon was in the middle of a meeting. Juyeon’s handwriting was neat, a little all over the place and Jaehyun could only imagine it was because he was excited while creating the lyrics.

 

He read over them for a couple of times and bit his bottom lips hard.

 

Stupid Juyeon.

 

Before smiling and folded the sheet carefully -slipping them inside one of the pocket in his wallet, intending to save it for the longest time.

 

 

***

 

 

“I’m not going to sugar coat my words just so I wouldn't hurt your feelings.”

 

Jaehyun’s clenched his fists tight, eavesdropping from behind a wall near the elevator.

 

“But Younghoon come on,” Orlando said -one of the board of directors in an upscale fashion brand that was on the rise, who came to talk about their collaboration with Haut Monde, “We all know you’re not capable enough to manage such a big collaboration like this,” he clicked his tongue, putting his hands on his pockets.

 

Jaehyun about to go to Kevin to discuss about the layout of their new corner. As soon as he heard from Chanhee that Kevin and Younghoon’s meeting with Orlando was over, he walked toward the meeting room only to be stopped when he saw Younghoon standing with Orlando near the elevator -Younghoon seemingly walking Haut Monde’s guests out like he always did, like how he always taught Jaehyun to do.

 

The atmosphere was quiet tense, and Jaehyun’s feet walked itself behind one of the nearest wall.

 

“I’ll do my best. Don’t worry,” but even after Orlando’s sharp remarks, Younghoon still had a smile on his face. A genuine one, the one that reached his eyes as his frame was also still kind and welcoming.

 

Jaehyun gritted his teeth.

 

“Oh I do have to worry,” Orlando scoffed, “I don’t think you can handle it, so tell Kevin this collaboration is over if he doesn't handle this himself.”

 

Jaehyun about to break his own knuckles hearing the audacity of the man.

 

“I believe we have come to an agreement where I’ll be taking care of the collaboration, and Kevin will supervise from time to time,” Younghoon offered in a smile, gaze and words were soft.

 

“I don't think you understand what I’m saying,” Orlando laughed obnoxiously, “The collaboration is out the window, if I have an inadequate person like you handling it-“

 

“How about you take a look in the mirror and see yourself, you dumb fuck,” Jaehyun couldn't handle it anymore and snarked loudly before placing himself beside Younghoon. Ready to defend his Editor in Chief.

 

“I beg your pardon-“

 

“Yeah,” Jaehyun jeered, “We all know,” he mimicked Orlando’s earlier sentence, “That you’re pissed because Younghoon keeps rejecting your ‘dinner’ invitations-“

 

“Jaehyun!!” Younghoon hissed as he turned his head to stop Jaehyun from talking.

 

Jaehyun was having none of it, “InAdeQuAtE,” Jaehyun had his hand on his hips, bending forward a little as he mocked out the words -a perfect clone of Mocking SpongeBob memes.

 

Younghoon gasped along with Orlando in dismay -the former started tugging at his elbow.

 

But nothing could stop Jaehyun now, “Tell that to your inadequate dick that doesn't know what’s appropriate or not in a business,” he rolled his eyes with a scoff.

 

“I can’t believe-“

 

“You should believe that Younghoon rejects you because you just ain’t it!! And not only because he already has a boyfriend that is bigger than you, taller than you, older than you, stronger than you, and his arms a little bit longer than you!!” nothing could stop Jaehyun now. He was on fire-

 

“Did you just quote ‘Never Say Never’ by Justin Bieber and Jaden smith?” Younghoon whispered quietly to Jaehyun’s ears in a frown.

 

“Shut up Younghoon!!” Jaehyun hissed back, “Fucking Orlando doesn't know his fucking pop culture!!”

 

“Well you better stop now because the next part of the lyrics is ‘But he ain’t on a JB song with me’!!” Younghoon reminded in a glower.

 

Jaehyun blinked and stopped himself on time, “Right. Right.”

 

“I’m not going to stand here and accept all of this disrespect-“

 

“Well you better leave now because we’re not collaborating with middle low brands,” Jaehyun crossed his arms with a raised brow.

 

Orlando looked like he was about to pass out, “How dare you-“

 

“Leave!!” Jaehyun snarled when thankfully one of the elevator door opened up.

 

Orlando left with profanities and Jaehyun glared at Younghoon, “What?”

 

“That is not how I taught you to deal with arseholes.”

 

“I can’t believe you let yourself getting trampled-“

 

“I was not!!”

 

“You let him say whatever he wanted!!”

 

“Well not all of us is capable of saying whatever we want!!”

 

“Why are we shouting?” Juyeon stammered, stumbling on his feet when he walked passed by.

 

“Back off Juyeon!!” Jaehyun yelled at the intrusion.

 

Juyeon put his hands up, swallowing hard as he stepped back from the scene, “Okay,” before leaving.

 

“What is that supposed to mean?!!” Jaehyun turned his attention back to Younghoon.

 

“All I’m saying is, good for you because you can just run your gob without thinking-“

 

“I never!!”

 

“You gave my boyfriend a love letter!!”

 

“I didn't know he was taken!!”

 

“Why are we shouting?” Sangyeon stammered, stumbling on his feet when he walked passed by.

 

“Not now Sangyeon!!” Younghoon yelled at the intrusion.

 

Sangyeon put his hands up, swallowing hard as he stepped back from the scene, “Okay,” before leaving.

 

“What do you mean you didn't know?” Younghoon asked under a whisper.

 

“I meant what I said,” Jaehyun groaned, “It’s so simple Younghoon. I did not, know!!”

 

Younghoon’s chest was still heaving from the shouting, but Jaehyun could see anger slowly dissipating from his eyes and was replaced with confusion instead, “You didn’t-“

 

“I didn't okay!!” Jaehyun ran his fingers through his hair in frustration, “I only found out after I put the letter in Sangyeon’s office and- just- does he still not tell you anything??”

 

“He- he did but- how come you didn't know?”

 

“What do you mean how come I didn't know?!! How would I know?!!”

 

“I thought- I thought you knew,” Younghoon breathed softly. His eyes fell on the floor and Jaehyun felt really, really bad about everything.

 

“I can’t believe this-“ Jaehyun cried out in frustration, “Come here,” before tugging Younghoon’s arms towards Sangyeon’s office.

 

Jaehyun stormed inside and had to hold himself from smacking the back of Sangyeon’s head when he bolted up from his chair at Jaehyun and Younghoon’s loud arrival.

 

“Is- is everything okay?” Sangyeon looked terrified.

 

Good. He should be.

 

“How come Younghoon thought I always knew about you two being in a relationship?!!”

 

Sangyeon blinked dumbly, “You- you don’t?”

 

“Of course not if you never tell me anything!! What the fuck Sangyeon?!!”

 

“Are we in a screaming match?” Haknyeon’s head popped from Sangyeon’s door.

 

Jaehyun about to scream at him when Sangyeon gave him a warning look.

 

“Is there anything I can help with Hak?” Sangyeon asked in a smile.

 

“Nah, I was just about to go home. I’ve sent you the new proposal Boss.”

 

“Thank you,” Sangyeon grinned, “I’ll check them out. Good work today.”

 

“You too,” Haknyeon left after making a crude comment about a possible threesome.

 

Jaehyun was so close on lunging at him when Sangyeon suddenly clapped his hands together, “So, everyone. Dinner? On me?”

 

 

***

 

 

Somehow, Jaehyun thought to himself, this didn't feel awkward.

 

He was seated right in front of Sangyeon in a four seat table, while Younghoon was sitting right beside Sangyeon with his head down.

 

Sangyeon gave his gratitude to the waiter who just jotted down their order, before turning toward Jaehyun with a smile, “Jaehyun-“

 

“What?” he grumbled crankily.

 

“One day,” but Sangyeon didn't even flinch at his tone. And Jaehyun knew it was only because he was so used to Jaehyun’s spoilt behaviour, “You called me and whined, telling me that your thesis was stressing you out, and that I hadn’t been paying you enough attention.”

 

“I don’t remember,” he replied moodily.

 

“It’s okay. You don't have to,” Sangyeon turned toward Younghoon for a second, rubbing his back in a soothing manner, “That day, we went and have our dinner in this very restaurant.”

 

And as Sangyeon elaborated, Jaehyun began to recall the moment, “Your salmon spinach,” he mumbled to himself but Sangyeon apparently caught it.

 

“Indeed,” he chuckled fondly, “That day, Younghoon was supposed to come with me, because I wanted to introduce you to him.”

 

Oh.

 

“But Younghoon couldn't make it because Kevin set Jacob’s hair on fire.”

 

“Let me make a guess that it was quite literally,” Jaehyun palmed his face.

 

“Sadly yes,” Sangyeon laughed good naturedly, “And then I guess I forgot about at least telling you altogether about the initial plan, and it slipped my mind.”

 

Jaehyun squirmed in his seat. He couldn't really deny that he still cared a lot about Sangyeon. He grew up looking up at Sangyeon, wanting to be like Sangyeon.

 

“So this is where I should apologize,” Sangyeon continued gently, “I guess, back then-“

 

There were regrets swimming delicately in Sangyeon’s eyes and Jaehyun felt his chest hurting at the sight.

 

“Did you know Jaehyun,” he said winsomely, “It wasn't that you don't fit in Gentlefolk. You were supposed to be working at Gentlefolk along with Juyeon.”

 

He didn't know that. Jaehyun’s heart beat so fast at the new information.

 

“But you see, Younghoon here,” Sangyeon gave Younghoon’s slumped shoulder a soft squeeze, “Younghoon was so adamant on having you on his team. It was quite a sight, seeing him tenaciously pestering Jacob about bringing you to Haut Monde, for how much he liked what you have. I was very proud of you Jaehyun,” Sangyeon smiled at him warmly, “You swept everyone off of their feet, and what made me happier back then, was how much Younghoon just fell for your charm, that he decided to pull out his ‘I’m pretty, so I get to have what I want to have’, card to Jacob.”

 

Younghoon for the first time, looked up -biting the corner of his bottom lip, eyes narrowing in silent protest.

 

Jaehyun snorted, “Yeah he does that most of the times.”

 

“He does,” Sangyeon nodded his agreement.

 

“I do not!!”

 

“Younghoon you literally said to me back then, ‘Jaehyun, I’m pretty right? So why are you not helping me in coaxing Chanhee to stop printing sex toys articles?’” Jaehyun hid his face with his hands trying to contain a smile that was about to erupt from the memory.

 

“I-“ Younghoon’s lips turned downward.

 

“Wow,” Sangyeon whistled, “That bad huh?”

 

“Yeah. He kind of stopped now after dating Sunwoo,” Jaehyun shrugged.

 

“Good for them,” Sangyeon chortling at the back of his throat, “So, Jaehyun-”

 

Jaehyun glanced up at Sangyeon. Still feeling the warmth that used to flock across his chest every time Sangyeon spelled his name affectionately. It was different. Jaehyun knew it was different, but it didn't make it less painful because Jaehyun had spent his youth loving Sangyeon.

 

“I’m sorry that I haven’t had the chance to introduce you to my boyfriend,” Sangyeon smiled, “I apologize that I forgot and my brain somehow assumed that I already told you about Younghoon, for how close you two are with each other. For how great you two are together. I assumed wrong Jaehyun. I’m sorry.”

 

“And thank you for agreeing to this dinner, because I know you want nothing to do with me anymore,” Sangyeon’s gaze wavered -breaking their eye contact for a split second when he glanced at the view outside from the glass walls beside their table.

 

“So let’s play pretend,” this time, this time Sangyeon’s smile was shaky, very nearing a wince and Jaehyun’s chest tightened at it -heart tugging painfully because Jaehyun knew he caused it. That he was the one pushing Sangyeon away and telling Sangyeon that the bond they created for such a long time would end because Jaehyun wanted it. And Sangyeon agreed to it. Sangyeon always let Jaehyun won.

 

“Let’s play pretend, and make believe a time where you still think kindly of me,” Sangyeon pulled another trembling smile, “Where you still want to talk to me and not hate me.”

 

Jaehyun saw Younghoon’s swift whipped of head, throwing a forlorn gaze aimed at Sangyeon from the corner of his eyes.

 

“Younghoon,” Sangyeon’s inhaled shakily, “This is Jaehyun, my little brother I keep telling you about,” smiling at Younghoon before turning at Jaehyun. So warm, so benign. “Jaehyun,” Sangyeon smiled until his eyes turned into moon crescent.

 

Jaehyun’s heart was breaking.

 

“This is Younghoon. My boyfriend.”

 

Jaehyun’s heart was aching.

 

Because Sangyeon despite his stretched of lips, couldn't stop the transparent sheen that began to form in his eyes, “I really hope you two can get along with each other,” Sangyeon was a perfect picture of rue, “It would mean a lot to me.”

 

 

***

 

 

Juyeon tapped his fingers on his steering wheels. He looked back at the time with a puffed cheeks. Waiting. Waiting. Still waiting.

 

When Jaehyun told him to come to a sudden dinner invitation from Sangyeon and Younghoon, Juyeon had refused. Juyeon understood. Juyeon knew there were things still unsaid, things that needed to be straightened out between Sangyeon and Jaehyun, and he didn't want to intrude.

 

He drove Jaehyun to the restaurant, and told him that he would be waiting. Hoping Jaehyun wouldn't think that Juyeon was trying to subtly say things like ‘don’t take too long’, or somewhere along the line. No matter how scared he was feeling right now.

 

There was a knock on the window of his passenger seat window. Juyeon’s heart got easily startled from his growing anxiousness, and he was about to curse when he saw Jaehyun’s face standing right outside. Juyeon quickly unlocked his car door and Jaehyun let himself in quietly.

 

Juyeon wanted to know, wanted to ask, wanted to-

 

“Juyeon,” Jaehyun broke the defeaning silence between them. Calling out his name softly.

 

“Yes Jaehyun?”

 

And Jaehyun told him everything. Jaehyun was crying to his blazer’s sleeves and Juyeon listened with every strength he had left.

 

And Jaehyun reached to twine their fingers together after everything. Jaehyun gazed at him wordlessly and Juyeon let Jaehyun rested his right cheek on Juyeon’s palm -eyes went shut, inhaling contently like Juyeon’s touch could give Jaehyun the serenity he chased after.

 

“Why didn't you want to come with me?” Jaehyun asked.

 

“Because I understand.”

 

“Why did you wait for me?”

 

“Because my heart isn’t strong enough to not be afraid.”

 

“Did you trust me?”

 

“I did.”

 

“Do you trust me?”

 

“I do.”

 

“Good.”

 

Juyeon didn't prod further, but then Jaehyun turned on his seat and circled his arms along Juyeon’s neck, clinging to him -letting himself melt under Juyeon’s welcoming embrace before saying, “You’re horrible.”

 

“Am I?” Juyeon rested his chin on Jaehyun’s shoulder after kissing the side of Jaehyun’s head -letting himself being drowned under Jaehyun’s comforting smell of shampoo.

 

“Just what did you do to me?” Jaehyun sniffled -hiding his face on the crook of Juyeon’s neck in the process.

 

Juyeon knew what Jaehyun meant. Yet, at the same time, Juyeon found himself squeezing Jaehyun’s waist tight in need of assurance. His heart was timid, anxious and petrified, “Why?”

 

Jaehyun’s frame shuddered as he inhaled -voice muffled between the column of Juyeon’s neck, “I can't stop thinking about you, wishing to run to you, and I just really, really want you.”

 

His car was too quiet and Juyeon was a hundred percent sure Jaehyun could hear the erratic beating of his heart. The way it clamoured as it crawled only for Jaehyun, loving Jaehyun. Rattling his chest and Jaehyun grazed it along his fingertips.

 

“I love you too,” Jaehyun whispered faintly, replying to the sound of Juyeon’s blaring heartbeat.

 

So Juyeon secured Jaehyun closer to him, running his hands on Jaehyun’s back wanting to comfort him, “I love you Jaehyun. I really do.”

 

“I don't hate him,” Jaehyun choked his sob in a frail whimper.

 

“You don’t.”

 

“What should I do?”

 

“Tell him.”

 

Jaehyun went silent at his suggestion but Juyeon learnt to give Jaehyun his own time -already recognizing Jaehyun’s pattern of thinking.

 

“Will you trust me?”

 

And Juyeon couldn't miss the vulnerability underneath Jaehyun’s question, “Jaehyun-“

 

“I’m not doing it if you don’t trust me. I’m not risking our relationship- because- I can’t afford losing you just because-“

 

“Jaehyun,” Juyeon stopped Jaehyun as he hugged him tighter, “Tell him,” knowing Jaehyun’s closure could only be fulfilled if Jaehyun decided to stop lying to himself and admitted how much he still cared for Sangyeon.

 

Juyeon’s heart battered still in fears.

 

But this time, this time he knew he wouldn't lose Jaehyun to Sangyeon.

 

Not when Jaehyun was here in his arms, murmuring things like how lucky he was to have Juyeon by his side, how much safety Juyeon brought to Jaehyun’s heart that was mourning.

 

Not when Jaehyun was here in Juyeon’s arms, murmuring things like how much he loved Juyeon with everything he got.

 

 

***

 

 

Jaehyun started with a small smile, barely there he was afraid Younghoon didn't see it.

 

But Younghoon did and he blinked once before returning the smile carefully.

 

“Hi,” Jaehyun greeted -walking beside Younghoon, maintaining the distance but wanting to make it clear that he was making an effort to make things right.

 

“Good morning Jaehyun,” Younghoon’s reply was as delicate as the smile on his face. For Jaehyun.

 

“I’m coming in.”

 

“To the meeting?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Younghoon stopped dead in his tracks, horror filled his eyes, “Don’t-“

 

“And I’m going to bite Orlando’s fucking ass if he ever say shit about you not being competent.”

 

“I don’t think-“ Younghoon tugged his elbow and Jaehyun stopped walking -watching Younghoon impatiently.

 

“You don't think what?”

 

“I don't think Juyeon would appreciate you biting other man’s ass-“

 

“Shut up Younghoon!!”

 

 

***

 

 

“What do you think about me biting other man’s ass?”

 

“What the fuck Jaehyun?!!”

 

“But Juyeon, what if it’s justified?!!”

 

“You- Jaehyun I would not appreciate those kind of behaviour-“

 

“Why are you talking exactly like Younghoon?”

 

“What? Why am I- What-“

 

“Stop hanging out with him so much!!”

 

“What-“

 

“Are you trying to make me jealous?!!”

 

“Where the fuck does this even come from?!!”

 

 

***

 

 

“Juyeon?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“This is the honesty of my heart,” Jaehyun put his phone down as he waited for the song to play on his YouTube application.

 

He found a song from the 80’s about a love so warm and sweet and filled with nothing but blissful rapture, and he wanted Juyeon to hear it.

 

“My meat belongs in your mouth~”

 

Juyeon gaped.

 

“What I mean,” Jaehyun cleared his throat in full throttle embarrassment, “The honesty of my heart is after this um- this fifteen second ads, we um- we have to watch it for at least five seconds before we can skip them.”

 

“Right.”

 

 

***

 

 

This time, Jaehyun made sure he bought a flower bouquets bigger than the one before.

 

He waited outside the building. The premises was quiet, not many people around and Jaehyun tilted his head a little at his own thought about how it would be weird if a PhD graduation would be as hectic as an undergraduate programme.

 

Some people started exiting the building main entrance and Jaehyun puffed his cheeks, taking a deep breath before walking near the stairs and caught Sangyeon’s surprised eyes.

 

Sangyeon’s graduation for his PhD was today, and Jaehyun wanted to come, and so he did. Just like he always did for Sangyeon’s last two programme graduations.

 

Jaehyun straightened his posture and waited until Sangyeon went down the stairs to stand in front of him in a questioning yet pleased eyes.

 

“I don't want to pretend,” Jaehyun couldn't remember a single word from the speech he crafted last night with Juyeon’s help. How could he when Sangyeon was looking at him still so proudly -so ready to look out after Jaehyun’s sake, even after everything Jaehyun said and did to him.

 

So he said whatever came to mind, “I don't hate you,” his fingers clenched around the base of the bouquet, “I can’t hate you,” chest stiffening, “So I don't want to pretend. The me that want nothing else to do with you, not wanting to talk to you anymore, would be the one that’s pretending.”

 

Jaehyun recalled Juyeon’s gentle advice to take a deep breath when it felt a little tough before doing so, “I’m sorry,” then Jaehyun handed Sangyeon the pretty flowers, “Forgive me.”

 

And Sangyeon’s warm laughter washed over Jaehyun completely, drowning him in such familiar relief, “That’s a command if I hear them right.”

 

And it felt too easy, too effortless for Jaehyun to act spoiled and indulging himself in Sangyeon’s fondness for him, “Forgive me,” he demanded outwardly this time.

 

“Anything for you Jaehyun,” Sangyeon reached forward and ruffled his hair, and Jaehyun felt contentment resting snugly on his tired heart, “Anything.”

 

“The family’s waiting along with Younghoon in the nearby restaurant. Do you want to come? We can go with my car.”

 

“That would be lovely,” Jaehyun smiled -knowing it was a start, it was his start, “Where do you park?”

 

“Right in the south parking lot.”

 

“I’ll see you there?” Jaehyun scratched his head, “Let me make a call.”

 

“Take your time Jaehyun,” Sangyeon grinned before turning -walking while holding Jaehyun’s bouquet close to his chest.

 

So Jaehyun pulled out his phone from his blazer pocket, tapping the screen to light it up.

 

Jaehyun used the tip of his fingers to open his phone’s keypad number.

 

Pressing one.

 

And then call.

 

“Jaehyun?”

 

Jaehyun’s voice was stuck at the back of his throat -chest expanding about to explode from the intoxicating infatuation and devotion crowding inside it, just from hearing the voice at the other side of the line, “Hi Juyeon,” as he uttered a name of his beloved.

 

 

***

 

 

“I got you okay,” Jaehyun chuckled, “Calm down.”

 

Juyeon groaned, slumping on his bed, looking around at the mess he had created in the past hour inside his bedroom. His clothing were scattered all over the floor because Juyeon just couldn't find the perfect suit to wear to attend Gentlefolk’s annual shareholders meeting.

 

“You’re going to wear Kiton’s,” Jaehyun decided easily, pulling the said suit out from Juyeon’s wardrobe that was now almost empty because Juyeon had successfully removed almost everything in it.

 

“That easy?”

 

“Juyeon,” Jaehyun sighed in a smile, “I spend 24/7 wearing suits-“

 

“That’s not right-“

 

“Whatever-“

 

“You’re wearing my shirt right now-“

 

“That’s not the point,” Jaehyun glared at Juyeon whose eyes was narrowed, “Kiton speaks of humble laps of luxury. It’s perfect.”

 

“Okay,” Juyeon puffed his cheeks and got up to take the suit from Jaehyun’s grasp gently, “I trust you.”

 

“A very smart move,” grinning as he kissed Juyeon’s lips, Jaehyun crouched down -starting to collect Juyeon’s blazers from all over the floor.

 

He picked up a sleek navy blazer adorned in gold and intricate looking buttons, that seemed to small to be Juyeon’s.

 

“Is this yours?”

 

Juyeon who was also busy cleaning up, looked at Jaehyun over his shoulder before nodding in a smile, “Yeah. I used them a lot back in university.”

 

Jaehyun nodded, eyes wandering around trying to find a hanger, when something fell out from Juyeon’s blazer’s pocket that he was holding -clinking against the bedroom floor.

 

Jaehyun’s brows furrowed as he bent, about to pick up the falling small ornaments, before the sound of Juyeon’s bell buzzing filled the apartment. Their dinner was here.

 

“Thank God,” Jaehyun put down Juyeon’s blazer on the bed -everything forgotten, “I’m famished!!” and practically ran out to retrieve their pizza.

 

Juyeon chuckled and took his wallet from his working desk -ready to follow Jaehyun, when his eyes noticed a shiny small ornament on the floor near where Jaehyun had been standing before.

 

He took it and realized it was a gold badge. Juyeon peered at the logo in front only to find that it was Jaehyun’s university logo. He turned it around and found Jaehyun’s name engraved on it.

 

Jaehyun, Lee.

 

It had said.

 

Juyeon smiled and shook his head affectionately. Clumsy. Trust Jaehyun to easily lost his belongings, letting them fell off of his shirt without realizing-

 

And a thought came that got Juyeon tilting his head in confusion. But Jaehyun had been wearing Juyeon’s shirt since morning. Did Jaehyun pin the badge on Juyeon’s shirt? Now that he thought about it, Juyeon didn't think he saw the gold badge on Jaehyun’s own clothes yesterday when he arrived-

 

“Juyeon?”

 

“Coming!!”

 

Juyeon put Jaehyun’s university gold badge inside his working desk drawer -afraid to lost it between the mess inside his bedroom before getting out. He would just give it to Jaehyun later, after their dinner.

 

 

END

 

 

***

 

 

Many years ago…

 

 

Juyeon knew it was a bad idea when he decided to finish an entire new season of Downtown Abbey last night.

 

Now he was late. Like really, really late.

 

Running because his life depended on it -literally (Professor Frederick was nasty when dealing with tardiness), before slamming hard into another body when he made a quick turn in hopeful to catch the waiting tube with its door still opened.

 

“Goodness,” Juyeon breathed loud, “I’m sorry- I’m terribly sorry-“

 

“Yeah, yeah,” although hissing in pain, the bloke he just slammed into -pretty, warm eyes, cute lips with sharp and tall nose, still winced out a smile, “It’s alright,” before waving small and ran like he was possessed.

 

Juyeon guessed he wasn't the only one being dangerously late today.

 

Late.

 

Fuck.

 

Juyeon thanked the Lord for giving him such long legs that he was able to enter the tube with only two big jumps.

 

He took a seat with a sigh, when his eyes caught something shiny stuck at the front of his cream sweater vest. Juyeon blinked and took the tiny gold trinkets -examining it with narrowed eyes.

 

A gold badge.

 

His eyes widened in realization. This must belong to the lad he just collided into.

 

He dumbly about to get up from his seat -wanting to catch the man from before, when the tube shook a little -reminding him that he was already on his way to his university’s nearest station.

 

Juyeon read the name engraved behind on what must have been an important identity pin.

 

Jaehyun, Lee.

 

Well -Juyeon sat back down and put the gold badge inside his blazer’s pocket, Juyeon would just deal with this later because now, he couldn't afford to be late.