When Kihyun saw the person who'd just come through the door, he almost choked.
He managed to keep his face straight, but under the table his legs were shaking. He didn't know how he got up and bowed without falling over. He simply nodded when his boss introduced him. Kihyun didn't trust himself to speak. He didn't know what would come out of his mouth if he opened it. Probably something like “Go fall in a hole and fucking die, you frog bastard.”
Kihyun tried to calm himself. Maybe it wasn't him. He didn't seem to have recognized Kihyun, after all. But he looked just the same. That tall, lanky body, with those ridiculous proportions girls had gone crazy for. That pretty face, with those unusual but pretty lips, those small, soft cheeks and those large eyes. It had been years, but he looked just like Kihyun remembered him.
But maybe it wasn't him. After all, how could he not recognize Kihyun? They had seen each other almost every day for three years, and hated each other through all of it. He'd definitely know Kihyun’s face, and he would react. Maybe it wasn’t him.
And then the tall, handsome young man said, “My name is Chae Hyungwon. Please take care of me.”
Oh I'll take care of you alright. I'll take care of you better than any Mafia hitman.
For a moment Kihyun was afraid he'd said that out loud. His boss was staring at him, as was the other elderly gentleman opposite. And so was Chae Hyungwon.
“Kihyun,” his boss said in a low voice. “The proposal.”
The proposal? What the fuck, I have to marry the guy now? It took Kihyun a moment to realize what Mr. Lee meant. The proposal. The real reason Kihyun was sitting here in a posh restaurant opposite Chae Hyungwon, and not at home in his PJs eating peanut butter ice-cream.
“Ah, sorry sir,” Kihyun said as he hastily brought out the file. He handed it to his boss, who opened it up and started discussing its contents with the other man. Kihyun didn't have to listen. He'd written most of it.
The company he worked for manufactured hypoallergenic cosmetics, and was planning on undertaking a merger with their biggest competitor. This was just a preliminary meeting, almost informal, between two of the higher-ups of the companies. And their subordinates.
The rest of the meeting passed by smoothly. Kihyun just shut up and sat there, and he was glad. Hyungwon - and it was definitely him - was just as silent. Finally, the discussions were over, and Kihyun could bow nicely and leave. He made a polite farewell, and then walked calmly out of the restaurant as though he wasn’t just dying to scream. Or just dying in general.
The air outside was cool and fresh, and had the taste of rain in it. It was a perfect summer night. The sky above was clear, but Kihyun could spot rainclouds in the distance and, every once in a while, the spark of faraway lightning.
He recognizes me. He does. He’s just good at hiding it, that’s all. Kihyun refused to believe Hyungwon wouldn’t recognize him. He looked just the same - short, with dark brown hair and a face that leaned more towards cute than handsome. He hadn’t aged a day from high school, either. And Mr. Lee said my name. He has to remember me.
“Hello, small fry.”
There it was. The nickname Kihyun hated the most from high school. He fixed his features into an unpleasant smile, and turned around with, “Hello, frog.”
Jesus, couldn’t he at least have the decency to become ugly or something? Hyungwon was leaning against the door-frame, and in the golden light from the overhead bulb he looked even better than ever. He’d filled out a bit too, Kihyun noticed with disappointment. That and the side parting he now wore his dark hair in made him even more handsome.
“You know, I’m disappointed, Kihyun,” Hyungwon sighed, stepping forward. “I’d hoped the next time I’d see you you’d be a little more on my level.” And just to make sure Kihyun got the point, he bent his neck and looked down at him.
Kihyun grit his teeth. “And I’d hoped you’d stop being a slimy little tit, but we can’t all get what we want, can we?”
“I see you’re as proficient in words as you are in height,” Hyungwon said lightly.
That was the worst thing about Hyungwon. A guy who looked like that had no right to be so smart.
“Don’t you have something to do?” Kihyun asked pleasantly. “Souls to collect, hellfire to stoke, that sort of thing?”
“Actually, I do have something to do,” Hyungwon answered. “I’m sure you also have something to do, like eat ice-cream straight from the tub to soothe your bitter, lonely heart.”
“I’ll have you know I am dating someone,” Kihyun said, before he could actually consider the consequences of this lie. And again before his brain could work his mouth said, “We actually share an apartment.”
“That’s called a roommate, Kihyun, not a boyfriend,” Hyungwon said in that condescending voice he did so well.
“Mine is both,” Kihyun said, and to stop himself from taking the lie any further he asked, “And you? In-between sponsors?”
Hyungwon laughed. “No, actually I’m on my way to a date.”
Figures. Good-looking guys like him didn’t stay single. “Well, don’t let me keep you,” Kihyun said. “I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon.”
Hyungwon returned his thin smile. “I’m sure we will.”
“Chae Hyungwon? Isn’t that that kid you knew in high school?”
“Yes,” Kihyun said, pulling out the furniture polish. “That kid. That devil incarnate.”
Minhyuk carefully put away his bowl when he saw the polish and cleaning rag. He’d been Kihyun’s roommate since college, and he knew that when Kihyun got angry or stressed, he cleaned. And God help you if you did anything to make the place messier.
“It’s been almost six years and he’s just the same,” Kihyun said, furiously rubbing at the coffee table until Minhyuk was worried he might start a fire. “Still as annoying and as rude and as childish… You know how he was in high school?”
“Yeah, because you’ve told me before,” Minhyuk said, but he might as well have said nothing. Kihyun was on a roll.
“He was horrible,” he said. “He was smart. He was athletic. He was good-looking–”
“That doesn’t sound so bad,” Minhyuk said rather wistfully.
Ignored again. “And he knew it!” Kihyun said. “He slept during all the classes and still aced all the exams. And yet all the teachers always forgave him. You know why?”
“Because he was good-looking.” Minhyuk had heard this a million times before.
“Because he was good-looking!” Kihyun said, not letting Minhyuk get in the way of his tirade. “And he flirted, all the time and with everybody! Halfway through the day he’d unbutton his collar and loosen his tie, and he’d keep running his hand through his hair in a way that he knew was terribly distracting–”
Minhyuk rubbed his face to hide his smile. All the Hyungwon tirades always ended up being about the same thing.
“–and when he played football, every once in a while he’d stop running to wipe at his sweat,” Kihyun continued. “Why would he do that, huh, if he wasn’t trying to look cool?”
“Maybe he was just sweaty,” Minhyuk suggested innocently.
Kihyun glared daggers at him, and then moved onto a different track. “We were sworn enemies the first day we met,” he said, glowering at the tabletop. “His presence was just infuriating. I couldn’t stand looking at him without feeling like my skin was on fire.”
Because you had the hots for him, Minhyuk almost said, but noticed Kihyun was still holding on to the polish and wisely shut his mouth.
“And you know what was the worst thing about that bastard?” Kihyun suddenly said very loudly.
Minhyuk had a feeling he knew, but just shook his head.
“Everyone liked him! And he was nice to them!” Kihyun almost crushed the bottle in his grasp. “He was only the devil to me! I couldn’t even talk shit about him because it made me look bad. Even my friends liked him. I’m 100% sure Changkyun is the one who let it slip about Hoseok-hyung, he liked Hyungwon way too much. Oh, did I tell you about what happened with Hoseok-hyung?”
“Only four million times,” Minhyuk said brightly. Kihyun had put down the polish after noticing he’d mangled the bottle.
“In my second year of high-school,” Kihyun said, ignoring him expertly, “that frog bastard somehow found out I was dating this really cute hyung named Shin Hoseok. And you know what he did?”
“He stole him from you,” Minhyuk said with a yawn, stretching out over the sofa.
“He stole– can you not do that?” Kihyun said with a glare. His hand automatically reached for the polish again, and Minhyuk quickly straightened.
“Yeah, he stole him from you,” he said hurriedly. “That frog bastard.”
“That’s right.” Kihyun’s hand moved away from the bottle. “He coincidentally started showing up at my favorite hang-out spots, wearing these ridiculously tight skinny jeans that made him look even more like a model, like he needed any help with that–”
Minhyuk waited patiently while Kihyun went on about how gorgeous Chae Hyungwon actually was, and how he apparently hated it. Apparently.
Finally Minhyuk got bored and cut in. “You want to know what I think?”
Kihyun stopped mid-sentence. “Not really, but okay.”
“I think you liked him,” Minhyuk said, and quickly continued before Kihyun could stop him, “but you were just a childish kid and so you convinced yourself you hated him instead.”
That struck Kihyun dumb, which was a pretty big accomplishment in itself. He eventually found his words, but they didn’t come out easily. “A-are you crazy?” he sputtered. “Me? Like Chae Hyungwon?”
Minhyuk nodded wisely. “In fact, since you’ll probably be working together, the best thing to keep this whole situation from blowing up is to just sleep with him.”
Kihyun’s whole face became red, and Minhyuk didn’t think it was all from anger. “Okay, now I know you’re insane,” he said, and started attacking the table again.
“Believe me, I know how this all works,” Minhyuk said sagely. “You have to bang him. Otherwise everything will just keep building up, and that’s not healthy.”
“Can you stop that?” Kihyun was getting agitated, and it was obvious. He paused for a moment and then said, “Besides, he’s dating someone.”
“Aww, I’m sorry,” Minhyuk said, and he meant it. His roommate needed to chill about Chae Hyungwon, and he thought he’d found the answer. He looked for a different solution. “Hey, how about tomorrow night we go out? I heard a new bar opened a few streets over from my office building. We could go there.”
“Sure,” Kihyun said automatically. Minhyuk had a feeling he was just glad to get off the topic of his unrealized burning desire for Hyungwon, but he didn’t mind.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “A night out with me and you’ll forget all about Chae Hyungwon.”
The place was packed. Kihyun squeezed between two people squeezing against each other, and felt only slightly bad about it. He hated crowded places, especially crowded places filled with drunken loud people.
In contrast, Minhyuk moved like a fish in a slightly overstocked pond. He made his way to the bar easily, like he was walking straight through people instead of around them. Kihyun laboriously joined him much later.
“This is not a bar,” he said, trying to breathe. “This is a club.”
“Club, bar, is there a difference?” Minhyuk said innocently. He caught the attention of the bartender and ordered two drinks with weird, extravagant names.
There was a huge difference, but the place was too loud for Kihyun to start an argument. Instead, he grabbed Minhyuk’s arm and said, “I’m going outside.”
“What? You can’t leave me,” Minhyuk said, grabbing Kihyun’s arm back. “We haven’t even been here three minutes.”
“That’s long enough for me,” Kihyun said, trying to pull away.
“Oh, come on,” Minhyuk said with a pout. “Then I'll be alone.”
“No you won't,” Kihyun said. “I know why you're here, and it's not for me.”
“It’s for both of us,” Minhyuk said. “Come on, if you can't bang Hyungwon, you should at least bang somebody.”
“Can you seriously stop that?” Kihyun looked around to see if anybody had heard, but the music was loud and no one was eavesdropping. “I’m not banging anybody.”
“Oh, don't say that,” Minhyuk said soothingly. “There’re lots of guys here who'd like you.”
That was the thing about Minhyuk. It wasn't only women that threw themselves at him. It was like he emitted a signal to all interested men that he was interested too. It wasn't like that for Kihyun. Finding partners had never been so easy for him.
And now Minhyuk thought Kihyun wanted Hyungwon, which was absolutely ridiculous. Ridiculous.
In any case he's off with someone else, probably someone rich, and handsome and tall like him–
Kihyun decided to stay. He was suddenly in the mood for some alcohol.
The drinks arrived, and there was more fruit juice in them than alcohol, but alcohol was present and that was a start. Kihyun drank his bright purple mixture while Minhyuk chatted with the bartender in that familiar, friendly manner Minhyuk could pull with anyone. Then Minhyuk dragged Kihyun onto the dance floor. Kihyun made a few awkward attempts at dancing before giving up and making his way out of the building. Minhyuk didn't mind. There was a tall, well-built handsome guy dancing nearby, and he'd occupied all of Minhyuk’s attention.
After the stuffy heat of the club the cool night air was heavenly. Kihyun breathed it in deeply, felt it wash his lungs out. He was about to go back inside to tell Minhyuk he was going home, when he spotted a figure nearby.
Tall, lean, with long limbs and a small head. Kihyun would know that body anywhere.
“Hello, Kihyun-ah,” Hyungwon said pleasantly. He'd probably just ended a phone call; he had his phone in his hand and was putting it back in his pocket. Kihyun noted Hyungwon still had the same affection for skinny jeans, and he still looked amazing in them. It pissed Kihyun off.
“Come here with your boyfriend?” Hyungwon asked in a way that made it clear he didn't think such a person existed. That offended Kihyun. So what if it was true? It was still nasty.
“Yes, actually,” he said, stiffening a little. “He’s inside. Planning on seducing him like you did Hoseok-hyung?”
Hyungwon laughed. “You think I did that on purpose? He saw me, he liked me. It happens. Not that you'd know,” he added.
Kihyun ignored that. “Only because you pretty much followed us everywhere.”
“Me follow you?” Hyungwon fumed, getting angry suddenly. “You followed me. I go to my favorite bookstore, and you're there. I go to that nice coffee shop, and surprise, you're there too. Showing off your cute boyfriend, smiling and laughing and trying to look cute in front of me… don't think I didn't know what you were doing!”
Kihyun was stunned. “I never followed you anywhere! Those were my favorite places first! You're insane if you thought I was following you.”
“Sure, keep playing dumb,” Hyungwon said. “It doesn't suit you, but you're welcome to continue.”
Kihyun could've punched him right in that pretty face. He had never met such a singularly infuriating person. And Minhyuk thought Kihyun was attracted to him!
“So you're going to deny following me everywhere and stealing my boyfriend?” Kihyun tried to keep himself from shouting. Remembering what Minhyuk said just angered him even more. “Even now, after six years?”
“I told you, I never followed you anywhere,” Hyungwon said, and he was getting heated up too. “Your boyfriend dumped you because you were a stubborn bastard, and you still are!”
“Me? I'm a stubborn bastard? You're the king of fucking bastards and– and yes, that sounds about right.”
“I am so close to hitting you right now, don't push me.”
“Try it, I'd break your skinny body in half.”
“I will punch you, Yoo Kihyun. I mean it!”
“I could kiss you right now!”
Hyungwon’s eyes widened. “What?”
“What?” And then Kihyun realized what he'd just said. Oh shit. “Not kiss, I didn't mean to say that,” he said quickly. “I meant I could kill you right now, it was a slip of the tongue– no, not tongue–”
But then Kihyun couldn't speak anymore, because Hyungwon had grabbed him and pressed his lips against his.
Chae Hyungwon is kissing me, Kihyun thought. And then somehow he'd opened his mouth and Hyungwon had slipped his tongue inside, and there were no more thoughts.
He didn't taste of alcohol, or fruit juice. He tasted of something else Kihyun couldn't describe, but something that he wanted, badly. He kissed him hungrily, like he'd been starved for almost nine years.
Kihyun only pulled away when Hyungwon did, and then the two of them stood there together, gasping for breath.
It took a few moments, but Kihyun finally grasped what had just happened. He stood rooted to the spot, staring at the ground. The rational part of his brain could deny it all it wanted, but the evidence was there, on his lips, on his tongue.
Hyungwon got it a second later. He backed away slowly, and when Kihyun looked at him he saw that Hyungwon looked just as he felt, which was dazed and confused as all hell.
“Uh…” Hyungwon couldn't get past one word.
Kihyun just stared. His body felt warm, and he was kind of woozy, which was strange because he'd only had one drink…
“Um…” Hyungwon tried again, and then looked at Kihyun helplessly.
“I have to go.” Kihyun was surprised to find he'd said it. “Home. Right now. Goodbye.”
He caught a glimpse of relief on Hyungwon’s face before turning around and speed walking out of there.
The cold, fresh night air felt very stuffy all of a sudden. Kihyun couldn't stop thinking about what had just happened. It was like a constant stream of words in his mind: I kissed Chae Hyungwon I kissed Chae Hyungwon I kissed Chae Hyungwon I kissed Chae Hyungwon I kissed–
He stopped straight in his tracks as another thought came to him.
What do I do now?
Minhyuk came home from a very worthwhile night at the club to find Kihyun attacking the kitchen counter with antibacterial cleaning liquid and a brush.
“Whoa,” he said. “What did that counter do to you?”
“Nothing!” Kihyun almost yelled. “It did nothing to me! I did nothing back! Nothing happened!”
“What?” Minhyuk was confused.
“I’m going to sleep,” Kihyun said in a strangled voice, and ran away to his room before Minhyuk could say a single word.
Minhyuk shrugged, and then went to bed.