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sugar (oh, honey honey)

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It cannot be any later than 4AM when the phone on his bedside table buzzes, and Kihyun has every mind to ignore it, but he’s a light sleeper, and the vibration is intense, buzzing a hole into his brain, and he throws the blankets off to pick it up.

“Hello?” he answers groggily, a panicking Jooheon on the line, his voice hurried and desperate. “Kihyun hyung? The manager left for a smoke and was supposed to be back in ten, but he’s gone for forty minutes now; I’m not allowed to be in the store alone. Can you come in?”

Kihyun pulls the phone away from his ear and squints as he struggles to read the time: 3:23AM. He feels a rush of annoyance wash up; he’s barely caught a wink since he ended the evening shift at ten, and had finished all his assignments due tomorrow at two.

“Jooheon. I just finished a ten hour shift in the afternoon.”

The younger boy sounds like he’s about to burst into tears—Kihyun of all people should know how he is—but he really cannot bring himself to muster any sense of chivalry at this godforsaken time.

“I spoke to the big boss. He was mad. But he said if you were to come in, he’d pay you double, until the morning shift comes to take over.”

Kihyun is on his feet in seconds, grabbing the uniform that he had just worn hours ago and throwing it over his shoulder. Beelines for the bathroom as he tells Jooheon that he’ll be there in twenty, and hangs up, head throbbing, eyelids heavy.

“Kihyun?” Minhyuk’s head appears from the doorway of his own room, hair a mess atop his head, and he yawns, unabashed, doesn’t bother covering his mouth. “Where are you going?”

Kihyun strips in front of Minhyuk, bathroom door wide open, and he pulls the uniform in, buttoning it up with cold fingers. “Work. Jung left for a smoke break that lasted forty minutes, leaving Jooheon there all alone. Don’t suppose the guy’s coming back for his shift any time soon.”

Minhyuk frowns. “I thought work safety policy stated that there must be at least two employees in the workplace in case of an emergency.”

Kihyun nods. “Yeah. That’s why I got called in. Just to sit around and keep Jooheon company.”

A scoff. “You wouldn’t get your ass out of bed to keep Jooheon company. You’re not that nice of a friend.” Minhyuk’s face is crumpled up in a sneer, and Kihyun throws his bedroom slipper in his general direction, missing his face by a long shot.

“Yes, thank you, that’s exactly what I needed to hear at 3:30 in the morning.”

Minhyuk smiles. “Big boss offered you double, didn’t he?” Sometimes Kihyun thinks Minhyuk is too intelligent for his own good, using his brains for useless things like hyperanalysing Kihyun and his eccentric behaviour. “You’re the only money greed that would be willing to go to work at 3AM if you got paid enough.”

Kihyun scowls, but he thinks Minhyuk can’t see from the lack of lights in the hallway. “It isn’t my fault I’m a struggling university student that doesn’t have nice parents to back him up financially.”

The jab stings, and Kihyun knows he scores, because Minhyuk is glowering, and he can tell from just the silence. “I’m not spoilt,” Minhyuk emphasises, and Kihyun shrugs.

“Didn’t say you were.”

“You’re just too prideful to ask your parents for money,” Minhyuk states, like it’s a bad thing to not want to rely on your parents even though you’ve moved out, like it boils down to just pride. “I still don’t know why you insisted on paying for your own tuition. Even Jooheon gets his parents to pay for his fees.”

Kihyun grabs the cologne sitting by the sink. Three spritzes. Picks up his toothbrush and squeezes a squiggle of toothpaste onto it. “Because Jooheon’s parents can afford it, and mine can’t. I was the one who insisted on going to a better university instead of the local one where we get subsidies, I was the one who insisted on moving out instead of staying with and leeching off them. So I pay.”

“At the expense of sleep.”

Kihyun stuffs the toothbrush into his mouth and shrugs. “I’m young. I can deal with it.”

He can tell the note of worry in Minhyuk’s voice, but Minhyuk is not one to be overly explicit with his concern or his compliments (not when he’s sober or awake, at least) and neither is he, so they leave it there, the same way they do whenever Minhyuk wakes Kihyun up as he finds the boy slumped against the couch with his assignments laid out before him, completely knocked out from doing back-to-back shifts.

Minhyuk ducks back into his room without another word and there is a jangle of keys. The boy walks back out in his bathrobe, yawning again, eyes bleary, heads towards Kihyun, who spits into the sink and turns to look at Minhyuk with toothpaste on the side of his lips. “You can take my car. It’s cold outside.”

Kihyun grins. “Was planning to sneak in and steal it even if you didn’t offer.” He grabs the bunch of keys dangling from Minhyuk’s finger and Minhyuk is so close, smelling like the scented candle he’s been obsessed with recently, whatever Winter Glow smells like.

Minhyuk rolls his eyes. “You are the worst friend, ever.”

Kihyun chuckles and mutters his thanks under his breath, ready to pick up his pyjamas from the ground when Minhyuk steps in, dangerously close, before he lifts a hand and swipes his thumb across the side of Kihyun’s lips.

“Toothpaste,” he comments simply, and Kihyun is so sleepy and tired and wants to curl into Minhyuk’s arms and sleep his night away, but he needs the cash, and makes do with a tip of Minhyuk’s chin and a warm, chaste kiss on his thin lips, shivering as he does.

“Thanks,” he breathes against Minhyuk’s cupid bow as the silver-haired boy just sighs in contentment, kissing Kihyun briefly on the lips again.

“Be careful,” he whispers, and Kihyun can tell Minhyuk wants more, so he runs his slender fingers through Minhyuk’s bright hair and presses his forehead against his. “Go back to bed.”

Minhyuk is obedient, pliant, warm and fuzzy inside from the kiss, so he says okay and lingers a little more, soft muted kisses on Kihyun’s nose, his chin, the side of his lips.

Kihyun smiles, takes in Minhyuk’s Winter Glow, decides that he really, really likes the times where they aren’t bickering and choose to instead kiss and hug each other into comfort.

He sends Minhyuk back into his room, doesn’t have the time to tuck him in because he’s too busy putting his leg through his pants, stumbling as he wears his shoes, Minhyuk’s car engine a tad too loud for the neighbourhood at 3:45AM.

He reaches McDonald’s at 3:57AM, Jooheon jerking up from his position against the cashier counter and he sees all the tension leave the younger boy’s face.

“Ah hyung! I’m so glad you’re here. I was terrified; there was a bunch of rowdy boys in the drive-thru who didn’t look old enough to drink or drive, and they were drinking and driving. When they passed me their card I thought they were going to punch me and I full on cowered.” Jooheon frowns, tight wrinkles on his forehead as his eyebrows crease in frustration.

Kihyun walks over and chuckles, just thinks Jooheon is cute, and pets him on his head. “Was our Jooheonnie scared?”

He scowls. “You’re so mean, hyung.”

Kihyun’s eyes widen into circles. “Me? Mean? Would you like me to go back to my comfortable bed right now then? Because I can.” He poses to leave Jooheon, feet pointing towards the door, and the younger boy hurries to drag him back. “No, no, you’re so nice hyung, you’re the best.”

Kihyun laughs and Jooheon lets out a sigh of relief and they head for the kitchen together. Jooheon makes Kihyun a cup of coffee and they sit through the night, serving the occasional night owl, and soon dawn breaks.

The store becomes slightly more alive, and the morning shift turns up. Jooheon offers to drive and Kihyun doesn’t oppose, dozing off in just seconds as he’s had a grand total of one and a half hours of sleep over the past 24 hours.

Jooheon wakes him up when they reach their apartment, nudging Kihyun in the shoulder as the older boy jumps up, muttering something about his assignments being completed, and he looks at Jooheon with a dazed expression, the younger boy’s chest aching at how hard Kihyun has been taking things.

“You need sleep, hyung,” Jooheon speaks up on the lift ride to their floor, Kihyun leaned up against the wall and it’s too tedious to keep his eyes open, so he yawns and nods, reaction a few seconds slow.

“My class is at noon today. It’ll be okay.”

Jooheon’s lips form a tight line. “That’s less than three hours away.”

Kihyun waves him off. “It’ll be fine. I’ve done worse.”

“And by worse you mean the one time you said ‘it’ll be okay’ and drank five Redbulls and stayed awake for more than 40 hours and Minhyuk hyung and I had to send you to Emergency?”

Kihyun breathes, shallow. “It won’t happen again.” The lift dings and Kihyun’s feet are like lead, so Jooheon offers to be his support, throws his arm around his own shoulder and has to almost drag the older boy into the apartment. Minhyuk hyung is still asleep, obviously.

“Go wake Minhyuk up. He has a class at 10,” Kihyun says in between the sleepy slurs, and Jooheon smiles, bitter, wondering if him and Minhyuk have indeed been more trouble than help.

“You take such good care of us, hyung.”

Kihyun smiles, like he’s dreamt of candy in his sleep, and when Jooheon plops him onto his bed, he is unconscious to the world immediately.

Chapter Text

Minhyuk is leaning against his doorframe and Kihyun jumps when he sees him there, his silence a rare occurrence. Something’s wrong.

Kihyun frowns and beckons with a sharp wave of the hand, and Minhyuk walks over, evident pout on his lips. Kihyun folds his legs together and opens his arms, Minhyuk placing each leg on each side of Kihyun and sits himself on Kihyun’s lap, Kihyun’s arms encircling his waist, keeping him in place.

He cards through Kihyun’s black hair with slim fingers and the boy leans into the touch, a satiated sigh leaving his lips as he does, Minhyuk warm and soothing.

He rubs circles into his scalp, exerting pressure near his temple and Kihyun is close to purring, holds Minhyuk tighter when he realises his grip is slack from the comfort. Minhyuk always knows what to do, even if he never knows what to say, but Kihyun supposes he’s just like him in that regard.

“Is it good?” Minhyuk asks, takes in the view of Kihyun with his eyes closed, lips parted ever so slightly, cheeks pink from a hot shower. Kihyun nods, doesn’t say more, and then his fingers wrap around Minhyuk’s wrist gently, pulling his hands away from his hair.

“What’s wrong?” Kihyun questions, straight to the point, and Minhyuk knows that’s just how he is, but he struggles to speak, even if he’s rehearsed his lines multiple times in his room. “Something’s bothering you,” Kihyun states now, not a enquiry, cups Minhyuk’s face and swipes his thumb across his cheek softly. Minhyuk breathes shallow.

“You’re taking too many hours at the store, Kihyun. I’m worried.” Minhyuk looks nervous, a demeanour someone who shows concern shouldn’t have, and Kihyun chews on the inside of his cheek. He knows something else is up, and he has an idea what it is.

“Your grades are deteriorating because of that. Isn’t it silly to work so hard to pay off tuition only to fail units and have to pay for tuition again?”

It’s 1AM and Kihyun has just done an exhausting shift at work; Jung had bailed again, leaving Kihyun to see through the next shift until someone else could come help out and take over him. Big boss had sat him down that day and expressed his apologies and said that he was looking to replace Jung with someone more capable, hinting at Kihyun’s possible shift into a full-time position as a manager.

Kihyun finds it hard to say no, because it’s a pay rise, but the only reason why he had bothered to put up with all of this was because he had begged his parents to let him go to a university he actually wanted to attend, and he wasn’t planning to spend the rest of his life managing a McDonald’s store.

He had weaseled his way out of the discussion with the big boss, one of those smiles he plasters onto his face to pretend like he’s okay with it, and lets people down later down the road. Ah, heck. You can’t please everyone in the world.

So it’s especially frustrating when Minhyuk is going around in circles, saying some things and not others, and Kihyun is too tired for a guessing game.

“What did you do?” His voice is tight, muscles in his shoulder tensing up, and Minhyuk feels the grip around his torso tightening, but he doesn’t dare to reach out to ease the knots. Kihyun is tired, sleepy, grouchy, and a combination of those make the usually-easily-irritated man more volatile.

Minhyuk’s voice is tiny. “I asked Mum and Dad about helping you out, and they—”

His adam’s apple bobs. “No,” is Kihyun’s terse reply, and Minhyuk tries to talk his way in, even if he knows Kihyun has already pulled his walls up.

“They were happy to help.”

“Don’t. Need. Their. Help,” he says through gritted teeth, Minhyuk annoyed and huffy, and he extricates himself away from Kihyun’s hold, the grip relenting almost immediately. He stands in front of Kihyun, hands on his hips, but Kihyun is stone cold, unmoving, obstinate.

“Why do you insist on being difficult?”

“Why am I being difficult when I just want to work with my own effort and pay for what I want to do? And not owe anyone anything?”

“Me.” Minhyuk makes large hand movements, striking his palm over his chest, eager to make a point. “It’s me. Fuck, Kihyun. You’re my best friend. We’ve known each other for what, four years? And you won’t let me help you?”

Kihyun swallows. “Thing is, it’s not you helping me. It’s your parents. I didn’t want to have to answer anything to my parents, and I chose to not take a single cent from them. I don’t want to start it with yours.”

Minhyuk knows. Minhyuk knows it better than anyone else, because as much as he loves his parents, he knows what it’s like to live under someone’s thumb even when he’s miles and miles away from them. He knows it so well, and the sheer guilt of even suggesting this to Kihyun when he knows he’ll reject it comes as a hot, angry rush, which ends up as a gush of frustration to the tip of his nose, and it sours.

“It’s just.” Exasperated. “I don’t want you to go on like this. Please, Kihyun. If I can do anything at all to help, just.” Breathless.

“It hurts when I see you like this. I don’t want you to pass out. You need to sleep. Have time to rest. Eat. Rest some more. Jesus, I—” Digs the heel of his hands into his eyes, inhales. “It sucks when you have to be so tired. When’s the last time you got a whole day to yourself and did something you really liked?” Exhales, watery.

“I’m just. I just want to help.” Teethers off the edge. “Ah fuck,” Minhyuk mutters as he tilts his head backwards, willing his tears to not fall. It hurts to see Kihyun being so hard on himself, working tirelessly to his very last bone, and it hurts from Kihyun’s rejection whipping him in the face, a mixture of embarrassment, guilt, regret stirring within.

Kihyun is in front of him in seconds, eyebrows etched in a crease as he steps forward and cups his hands around Minhyuk’s face. “Shh, shh. It’s okay. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

Minhyuk breaks, sobs into his palm and Kihyun wraps himself all around, smaller than him, but braver than the world combined. “I—I’m sorry,” Minhyuk returns, and Kihyun’s heart aches. It was never his intention to be harsh with Minhyuk, and if he’s honest, he’s all worn out, and wishes there was a quicker way to solve his problems without having to explain anything to anyone.

“No, I’m sorry I was so curt. You were just trying to help. I know. I’m sorry.” Cradles Minhyuk’s face in his hands and holds him like he’s the most precious thing on Earth. He knows they—him and Jooheon—care for him, but it’s like a downward spiral, one of those things his mum had warned him against: “don’t work too much, or you’ll understand what immediate gratification is like, and forget that studying is the thing you wanted to do”.

She was right, as she always was, and Kihyun wraps his arms around Minhyuk tighter, wishing to at least stop hurting the people around him. Minhyuk sniffles, wipes his tears with the back of his hand as Kihyun looks at him, clear eyes met with watery ones.

“I just want to help,” Minhyuk mumbles, soft and apprehensive, and Kihyun sighs, one of those sighs Minhyuk knows is him half-relenting. He perks up and Kihyun sits himself on the bed, inviting Minhyuk to sit beside him as he opens his arms again, and Minhyuk falls into them again, an endless cycle of them hurting each other only to find themselves in each other’s embrace.

“You’re already plenty of help. I know you washed the dishes that day just so I didn’t have to, and Jooheon did the laundry? I can tell.”

Minhyuk grins, and Kihyun doesn’t have the heart to tell him that the only reason why he had realised was because Minhyuk had forgotten to wash a pot, and the plates he had washed were still greasy, so he had to wash them again. He doesn’t tell him that Jooheon had put the laundry powder in the wrong compartment so half of their clothes had patches of powder on them, and Kihyun had to stay up till 3AM to put them through the wash and put out the laundry again.

“I know we messed up. I heard noises and saw you sleeping next to the washing machine while waiting for the wash to be done.”

Kihyun chuckles. “It’s amazing how sensitive you are to all my movements and yet you won’t budge a single bit when I try and wake you up.”

Minhyuk smiles and Kihyun reflects it, pulls him closer to his chest as Minhyuk lets out a relieved sigh, Kihyun pressing kisses on the top of his head. “I don’t want to take your parents’ money. Name it pride, name it whatever you want. I’m happy you and Jooheon are trying to help around the house. That’s the kind of help I’d be happy to accept. But I don’t want to have to resort to take anyone’s money, not when I’m still capable of earning my own. Is that okay?”

His lips are pressed against Minhyuk’s forehead and Minhyuk’s skin feels the warmth of his breath when he speaks. Minhyuk is prideful, so he hesitates for a few moments before finally nodding his head.

There is something else unsaid between the both of them, and Minhyuk is grabbing bits of Kihyun’s shirt in his hands, looking down at his own thighs. “What else is there?” Kihyun asks, like he reads minds, but it’s really because Minhyuk wears his emotions on his sleeve.

“It’s a silly idea.”

“What is?”

“You remember my high school junior? Junhong?”

Kihyun has an impression of the tall lanky student with a boyish and dimply smile, endearing and friendly when Minhyuk had introduced them to each other, speaks with enthusiasm about the most random things, an air of innocence around him.

“Yeah?” Kihyun is playing with Minhyuk’s hair, flipping a few locks and stacking one on the other.

“I was just talking to him that day. He said he was earning some good cash and getting ample of rest and care and I was so intrigued, only because it sounds like all the things you currently need,” Minhyuk says, and Kihyun lets out a quiet laugh, only to ruffle Minhyuk’s hair, urging him to go on.

“He said he went on a site and got to know someone who was interested in being his sugar daddy. He’s been a sugar baby for some time now and he loves it.” Minhyuk stops for a moment, Kihyun’s fingers don’t. He’s not fazed, which somehow surprises Minhyuk.

“You know where I’m going with this.”

Kihyun smiles. “Yeah, kind of.”

“You’re not… appalled?”

“What, by the idea of a sugar daddy?”

Minhyuk scrambles to sit up straight. “By the idea of me, your best friend, thinking that you’re a suitable candidate as a sugar baby.”

Kihyun shrugs. “Everyone around me knows I like being babied. It’s not a secret. I’m just surprised that it had taken so long for either of us to come up with this idea.”

Minhyuk blinks twice, thrice for good measure. “You’re not against the idea of being a sugar baby?”

Kihyun chuckles. “No, not really. I mean, if I can even find someone who’d be interested.”

It’s Minhyuk’s turn to laugh. “You’re silly. You’re so good-looking it makes me wonder what kind of luck I’ve gotten to have landed you as a roommate.”

Kihyun sneers. “You really mean to replace ‘good-looking’ with ‘good at household chores, cooking and taking care of me and Jooheon’.”

“I didn’t get you as a roommate just so you could be my maid.”

Kihyun laughs, flicks Minhyuk in the forehead. “Reminder, you didn’t get me as a roommate; I chose to be your roommate.”

“Yeah, I wonder why. I’m literally the most irresponsible and laziest person. The worst person to have as a roommate.”

Kihyun shrugs, rolls himself onto the bed and pushes himself back with his feet, until his back hits the headboard, and he pats on the space beside him. “Yeah, I’m not sure too. Maybe since you were looking for a maid, I guess I was looking for a friend.”

Minhyuk takes his position next to Kihyun and they both lie down, Minhyuk laying his arm flat on the pillow, and Kihyun backs up until the back of his head is propped right underneath Minhyuk’s chin, his chest pressed against his back.

Minhyuk kisses Kihyun’s scalp. “You mean you were looking for a big spoon.”

Kihyun laughs, shaky because he’s in the middle of a yawn, Minhyuk’s legs tangled with his under the duvets, his skin warm and soft against him. “Yeah. Cuddle buddy. You’re nice and warm. Like an oven.”

Minhyuk laughs, places his palm against Kihyun’s forehead and pulls the boy closer to him softly, wrapping his entire frame around him, the air around Kihyun filled with Minhyuk and Winter Glow.

“This is a lot of help. See? You’re helping. I sleep comfortably when you’re around.” Kihyun slurs his words because it’s now 2AM and Minhyuk is gentle and soft and smells good, so he curls up and sighs in contentment, the tension in his shoulders and the sore in his feet from standing all day dissipate with the warmth of Minhyuk’s touch.

“Kihyun-ah. So about the site…”

“Get Junhong to send it to me. I’ll check it out tomorrow.”

“Will you quit your job if it pays enough?” Treading carefully, afraid of ruining the perfect moment they’re sharing.

“Depends. Might need the extra allowance as savings, or to bring you out to a good meal.”

“You know I want you to rest more than a treat from you.”

Kihyun smiles, probably halfway into dreamland, but Minhyuk is asking questions that somehow cannot wait till morning. “I know. I’ll have to calculate everything, but I’ll cut my hours, definitely.”

“Okay.”

Silence, and Kihyun wants to think it’s safe to go to sleep, but Minhyuk speaks again, softly this time.

“Is it okay if I’m beside you when you look at all those people who send you requests? I just—I want to make sure that the person you choose isn’t a creep. Or would do anything to hurt you.”

To be honest, Minhyuk is still doubting the legitimacy of the whole proposal, the site, the people that might be on there, but Junhong is a living example and he’s so happy, radiating with pure jubilance and carefreeness these days.

Junhong makes it sound like it’s too good to be true; he has someone who dotes on him and buys him presents and is always accepting of his goofy ways, laughs when he does anything silly or cute, generous with his compliments.

Minhyuk didn’t think it was appropriate to ask if he sleeps with his sugar daddy, but he thinks it might be one of those things that they leave unspoken. It’s kind of obvious though, if you think about it; who would be willing to spend so much just to be around good-looking people? Anyone would obviously want to get something out of it. But Kihyun wouldn’t mind. Minhyuk of all people would know that.

Kihyun laughs, a small one, like Minhyuk’s adorable for bothering to ask. “Yeah, sure. Maybe you can help me filter out some pervs.”

Minhyuk chuckles, closes his eyes and leans to kiss the back of Kihyun’s neck, kisses trailing from the bottom of his skull to just slightly beneath his shirt collar, and lays his chin on Kihyun’s head.

“Yeah. Yeah, let’s do that,” he mutters, and Kihyun is snoring in seconds, Minhyuk quick to follow.

Chapter Text

Minhyuk has his laptop propped before the both of them and opens one of the links Junhong has sent. The young boy had confessed of visiting many sites before deciding on one of them, and how the demographics change depending on site. Kihyun had laughed, when they were out for a cup of coffee on campus, the only place other than their house and McDonald’s that Kihyun can ever be found.

Junhong may have taken slight offence when Kihyun laughed it off——the idea of a Find a Daddy website catered to a certain group of audience is kind of mindblowing. It’s like he’s fallen into one of those rabbit holes and he can’t find his way out.

“Sorry,” he mutters when both Junhong and Minhyuk shoot a glare in his direction. “Anyway,” Junhong continues, when he’s had a sip of his Iced Latte that Kihyun had paid for (read: Minhyuk made Kihyun buy for him, because ‘he’s doing you a favour’, at which Kihyun retaliates with a ‘helping me sell my ass away’, and Minhyuk coming back with a ‘would you rather work a 85 hour shift at McDonalds or be a beggar’, to which effectively shuts Kihyun up), “This one is for businessmen. Not really the kind of people I appeal to, but they’re nice and classy. Only for the high-achievers.”

He gives Kihyun a look, an unreadable one that the older boy cannot decipher if it suggests he try it out and that he would be popular within the millionaire daddies, or the complete opposite, like he’s saying ‘you’re a rookie, start small’.

Either way, they spend a good hour scrolling through the different sites, some stating what sugar babies they’re catered for: males, females, males and females with specific interests, some stating the services users would be looking for, others less bawdy.

“So?” Junhong asks, slurping as he’s reached the bottom of his drink, apparently having quite a bit of fun explaining everything to Minhyuk, and Kihyun sitting on the side, listening in, as if he’s not the one who’s actually going to be putting up the advert. Minhyuk nudges Kihyun in the ribs; he’s not going to answer for him anymore. Junhong had frowned a little when it was Minhyuk who explained which kind of people Kihyun work best with, and which personalities he hated to his very last bone. He’s not his alter ego; he can speak for himself.

“I like the one you talked about. The first one? Businessmen?” Kihyun says, playing with his fingers, and Junhong realises what this is about. Minhyuk did tell him that Kihyun took a while to get comfortable with people——wanting him to meet a stranger he barely knows online in person must be difficult enough as it is, not to say a potential sugar daddy.

He smiles, puts his hand on the back of Kihyun’s, and he sees the black-haired boy look up from his straight bangs, eyes quizzical. Junhong’s heart thumps harshly against his chest. This boy’s gaze will drown a whole city if he isn’t careful.

“Aiming high?”

Kihyun’s face flushes pink, and Junhong chuckles, willing his heart to steady itself. “It’ll be okay. I’m sure they’ll like you. Just don’t feel obliged to say yes to anyone you’re not comfortable with. Keep scrolling until you see someone that might be okay, but sometimes when you meet them it might feel different? Just be clear, and say no. They’re cool with it.”

Minhyuk clears his throat, and Junhong’s gaze returns to him. “No one dangerous, yeah? No one who might feel offended if Kihyun says no?”

Junhong smiles, but shakes his head. “No. The one he’s chosen? Bizdads ? That’s a pretty reputable one. Dads list their yearly income, which is nothing less than a million for these folks, and the website does some thorough background checks. No one sneaky gets through to register as a user. Same with the sugar babies. They have a few stringent checks that some casuals don’t feel comfortable with doing or can’t be bothered with, but if you’re okay with it, it’s a very good choice. Little to no chance of getting catfished. It’s what they pride themselves against.”

He looks back at Kihyun, who appears to have relaxed a lot more, his shoulders less tense and his frown disappearing. “And plus, they’re rich people. They can’t afford to tarnish their rep by pulling some bullshit just because a baby doesn’t like them enough. That being said, it’s equally difficult to reel one in, just because their standards are so high. I don’t bother with it ‘cuz some just keep going on about art and culture and literature and it’s all so stuffy and boring.” Junhong rolls his eyes, and Kihyun laughs, his eyes dissolving into crescents, dimples at the tip of his cheeks. Junhong breathes, but barely.

“Kihyun likes that boring stuff. Surprisingly. Art and culture and museums,” Minhyuk chimes in, and Junhong looks at him with wide eyes, at which Minhyuk replies, “Weird, I know!” Kihyun punches Minhyuk’s arm.

Kihyun buys Junhong another drink for the road, and the younger boy gives him a hug, wishes him the best before they part ways, urging him to text him if he has any other questions. Kihyun just nods, cheeks flushing, thanking Junhong again for his help.

If he’s honest, it’s a very bizarre situation to be in——asking for advice about being someone’s sugar baby. The whole concept in itself is strange enough as it is to the layperson, and here he is, getting a crash course about it.

“You okay? You look like you’re letting your thoughts run wild. Again.” Minhyuk comments, sipping on a cup of boba tea that he had to wrench Kihyun’s arm to have him buy it for him.

“Just a little skeptical about all of this. It’s just… I don’t know much about it. I know about flipping patties and using the fryer, but this? This is uncharted territory, and you know how I feel about that.”

Minhyuk shrugs, his bag shifting higher on his shoulder and he chews on a boba absentmindedly. “You won’t know until you try.”

Kihyun narrows his eyes. “Those were your exact words before you downed seven straight shots of vodka in a challenge with Jooheon and proceeded to throw up all over our carpet.”

Minhyuk frowns, stance defensive. “Hey, I know I don’t make the wisest life choices, but you’ve always been there to pull me out of my bullshit. Just trust me to do that for you, too, okay?”

“You’re not a very convincing person, not when you’ve always been the one between the both of us to get your ass into trouble.”

“Wow, I’m so incredibly flattered that this is how highly you think of me. Thanks, man.”

Kihyun punches Minhyuk’s arm playfully and the silver-haired boy pulls him closer into a headlock before they burst into laughter and Kihyun realises how lucky he is to have someone like Minhyuk, and decides to fuck it , he’ll deal with whatever comes whenever it comes.

*****

Kihyun is a bit of a cynic. When Junhong starts telling him about his sugar daddy and how he’s been so nice and buys beautiful things for him, he thinks he’s missing a big point in the whole story.

At the end of the day, it’s sex. Kihyun knows——or at least he thinks he knows——that while they call it a ‘sugar daddy’, a man who ravishes in the company of someone younger and good-looking, he knows it’s not just aesthetically pleasing company they’re in search for.

It’s time, commitment, affection, and of course fulfilment of their physical needs. It’s not that Kihyun’s opposed to the idea of sleeping with someone for the money——money is money after all——but he thinks he might need to psych himself out a couple of times to convince himself that prostitution is okay, and oh look, he’s prostituting to millionaires . How damn classy.

(He thinks he needs to record a tape of him repeating those very valid points and play them as he falls asleep to be completely immersed in that mindset.)

Therefore when Kihyun begins scrolling through the requests that have appeared on his notifications tab after his (unnecessarily) detailed profile, courtesy of a certain Lee Minhyuk, he only considers the people he would not mind sleeping with.

It surprisingly narrows his options down to a very small number.

“This one looks like a creep,” Minhyuk suggests casually as he points to a man on the screen who’s wearing glasses way too big for his face, hair mussed together in a pile, probably one of those artistic rich men who have specialised kinks, and Kihyun tries not to laugh.

“I’m guessing ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is not really a rule you live by.”

“Might be a difficult rule to adhere to considering I only have their covers to go by.”

Kihyun presses his lips together. “Fair point,” he says, and clicks on the red ‘X’ button beside the man’s request, at which Minhyuk beams, enjoys it when his opinions are respected, a phenomenon rarely seen considering he’s the one who proposes the dumb things between the two of them.

(Maybe allowing Minhyuk to run his stringent checks against the candidates is Kihyun’s way of putting off making a final choice and messaging one of them to meet in person.)

“How about this one?” Kihyun asks, points at a man with well-slicked hair, wearing a suit and his tie is a bright yellow, snatching the attention from his face. Minhyuk cringes.

“Who decided that tie was a good idea?”

“So now we’re not only going off on people’s appearances, but also their fashion sense?”

“You are notorious for having low standards, Ki. I’m just trying to regulate and filter your choices.”

Kihyun kicks Minhyuk in his side, at which the silver-haired boy just chuckles and holds his side in mock pain. “Yeah, my low standards probably made me choose an ass like you to be my flatmate. I know now, yes, that’s right.”

Faux hurt seeps onto Minhyuk’s face as he holds his palms against his chest now, hunching over. “That hurt more than the kick, really.”

Kihyun grins. “That’s what I was going for.”

They scroll through the list, which appears to be a lot longer than he had expected, a few men looked pretty decent, but their customised biographies only spelt boring, and Minhyuk was quick to eliminate them from the choices.

“How can we look for someone who is handsome, rich, and doesn’t have a bio that sounds like he has a glass of champagne up his damn ass?”

“I’m unsure as to what that last trait is supposed to be an analogy for.”

“Boring or stuck up or trying too hard to come off as being exceptionally classy.”

“Well, that’s a bit much to ask for, don’t you think?” Kihyun asks——he’s been staring at the screen for the past two hours and shuffling through the candidates tiredly, Minhyuk still all pumped up at the prospect of finding a potential daddy that won’t disappoint.

As is with Kihyun, whenever he’s left to his devices for even a few moments, he tends to overthink the matter, and now he’s wondering if this was even a good idea to begin with, even if he’s paid the month’s subscription to enter the site, and to call it quits now would be a painful waste of forty dollars.

He slumps against Minhyuk’s side, the boy still furiously scrolling through the profiles, a little upset that the men haven’t really met up to expectations, though to be fair, Minhyuk’s expectations are overwhelmingly high.

 

“Hey. Ki. I think I found one.”

Kihyun must have dozed off for a short while, because he pries open his heavy lids, bleary-eyed, and Minhyuk is practically bouncing on the bed.

“He looks too good of a catch, though, so if you want to send him a message, we have to be quick.”

Kihyun groans at being woken up, but Minhyuk is pinching his arm and his eyes shoot open in pain, glaring at Minhyuk as the silver-haired boy apologises repeatedly.

“Which one?” he asks, voice hoarse from sleep, the screen just a blur of pixels.

“This one. Son H. W.? He’s hot .” He whistles lowly and his eyes never peel off the screen.

That seems to wake Kihyun up, because it’s rare for Minhyuk to call anyone hot, other than the times where they fall together into bed and Minhyuk is atop him, kissing his bare skin and telling him how beautiful and attractive he is.

“Where?” He scrambles, and blinks his eyes back into focus. The image surfaces, and true enough, a well-groomed man with a big frame that takes up most of the picture fills his vision, skin smooth and tanned, single-lidded, a gaze into the camera that seems to eat into Kihyun’s soul, an aura that makes his presence undeniable.

“Wow.” Is all Kihyun manages to say, and Minhyuk nods his head as he mutters an ‘uh-huh’, and they click into his profile.

 

Son H. W.

Net Worth: USD 800 mil.

Age: 30

Looking for: Male/Female

Height: 1.81m

Weight: 74kg

Blood Type: O

Interests: Dancing, Karaoke, Console Games, Eating, Swimming

About Him:

Not very tall, not extremely handsome, has a bit of a weird sense of humour, but likes taking care of people and has a knack for cracking people up by saying the strangest stuff. Not picky with food. Would prefer someone shorter. Mostly quiet. Sometimes kind of stoic. Good with compliments.

 

“He sounds… perfect.”

“It’s mostly because of the last line, isn’t it?”

Kihyun scowls, Minhyuk reminds him it’s not a flattering look. “I like to feel appreciated,” he says matter-of-factly, and Minhyuk just guffaws as he pulls a sleepy Kihyun closer to himself, ruffling his bed hair.

“You’re so lovable when you’re fishing for compliments though. One of those rare times you bother to act a little cute.”

Kihyun raises an eyebrow and Minhyuk doesn’t resist his urge to press a soft kiss against his thin lips, just thinks he looks adorable and he could never really resist Yoo Kihyun, anyway. Minhyuk lets go reluctantly when he realises that speed is of importance and gestures to the screen, nudging for Kihyun to send him a message.

Kihyun clicks ‘Accept’ readily, but now he has to compose a first message, doesn’t want to leave it to passive messaging, and wants to make the first move, only… how?

Kihyun’s fingers hover over the keyboard hesitantly, not sure how to start, how to come off as interested yet not overly eager.

 

From: Yoo K. H.

Hi

 

Minhyuk almost screeches. “Hi? Hi? After we’ve established that he’s possibly the most eligible guy on the whole list of 200 guys who have sent you a request, you start off with a ‘hi’?”

They squabble for the next three minutes, with Kihyun explaining exasperatedly that he doesn’t know what else to say without looking desperate, plus Minhyuk did emphasise that he should throw out his bait before someone else catches the fish and the stress of typing something out in just seconds made him more flustered, yada yada.

There’s a ping on the laptop and their manic screeching halts.

 

From: Son H. W.

Hello

 

“Damn. It worked. I take everything back.” Minhyuk mumbles on the side as Kihyun pauses over the keys again, frowning as he struggles to come up with something interesting to say, but before he does, there is another message.

 

From: Son H. W.

I sent the request out last night and was worried that mine would be buried in your sea of requests.

I’m sure you received many of them, didn’t you?

You look very good in your profile picture.

 

Kihyun flushes a slight pink and Minhyuk is tempted to steal a quick kiss because embarrassed Kihyun is so endearing, but he doesn’t want to ruin the exchange he’s establishing with Son, so he keeps his hands and lips to himself.

 

From: Yoo K. H.

Just a few, thank you for thinking so highly of me, haha.

And so do you, Mr. Son.

Very dashing in your picture.

 

“Who even says dashing in this day and age?”

“Shut up, Minhyuk.”

 

From: Son H. W.

Hah, thank you.

Not really a descriptor I’d use for myself.

Don’t want to come off as a creep, but you’re really pretty. Like. Good-looking pretty. I think you’d be really good-looking if you smiled.

 

From: Yoo K. H.

Well I think you’re very handsome, so it’s okay if people around you don’t share the sentiment. They need better taste :p

Thank you for that, hah. My friend who helped with creating the profile said it would be better if I uploaded more… honest pictures. Whatever that means.

 

From: Son H. W.

Smiling in a picture isn’t exactly lying, is it?

 

From: Yoo K. H.

No, I didn’t think so

 

From: Son H. W.

So, do you live in Seoul?

Do you work? Or are you still studying?

 

From: Yoo K. H.

Yep, Seoul

Full-time uni student majoring in Drama and Music (Vocals), but I work part-time at McDonald’s

I could shout you a few burgers if you come to the store

 

From: Son H. W.

I would love that

Having greasy food that would clog up your arteries sounds like an amazing dinner date, what time do I pick you up for my impending heart attack?

 

From: Yoo K. H.

Hey, don’t diss the magnificence of the No. 1 cause of arteriosclerosis in the country

It is the only thing you’ll want to eat after a few drinks

Speaking from experience

The number of people driving by half-intoxicated and asking for a upsized Big Mac meal can only be the strongest piece of evidence

 

From: Son H. W.

I would never doubt those reliable statistics

So, what are you looking for on this site?

 

From: Yoo K. H.

Someone who’s willing to extricate me from my back-to-back shift at McDonald’s because I’m failing units just to work to pay for tuition

Sounds like a vicious cycle, but yeah

And I guess someone to coddle me to death, pretty much

 

From: Son H. W.

You like being pampered?

 

From: Yoo K. H.

Let’s just say I like feeling like I’m important in someone’s life

 

From: Son H. W.

What a coincidence, that’s my area of expertise

 

From: Yoo K. H.

Well. ngl, I was most attracted by the last trait in your bio?

“Good with compliments”?

It’s a bit meh to say it outright, but I like that

 

From: Son H. W.

It’s not meh if you’re seeking for an arrangement that’s right for you.

It’s only fair you list out the things you’re looking for

 

From: Yoo K. H.

Well, what about you, Mr. Son?

What are you looking for?

 

From: Son H. W.

Coincidentally, someone like you, looking for pampering and someone to shower compliments

I like making people feel good

Was going to write that in my bio but thought that might come off a little… creepy. Or vague.

 

From: Yoo K. H.

You’re not wrong

 

From: Son H. W.

Well, I’m glad I didn’t write that then

Would have been such a waste if I had let someone like you slip through my fingers

Anyway

I don’t really want to come off too strong, but I was wondering if you were just interested for a chat in person?

 

From: Yoo K. H.

It’s not coming off too strong when the whole purpose of this site is to make people meet each other in person, is it?

 

From: Son H. W.

No, I didn’t think so :)

So, um before that. I don’t know if it’s too much to ask for, but I’m just intrigued about you.

Do you think it’ll be okay if you took more pictures of yourself? I’m not going to use your pictures to catfish other daddies. Promise.

 

From: Yoo K. H.

Haha, that’s no problem. I’ll take 50 mugshots for you.

 

From: Son H. W.

Haha, I mean it when I say I’m not going to surrender your pictures to the police as well, okay?

 

From: Yoo K. H.

Okay, phew, that’s a relief

I was afraid for a moment there

Give me a while, I’ll be back with pictures!

 

“Do you want me to take a picture for you?” Minhyuk pipes up and Kihyun jumps, suddenly realising that Minhyuk has been there the whole time, reading their conversation with a grin on his face, obviously taken a liking to Son H. W., and Kihyun would be lying if he said he didn’t share his interest.

“Yeah, please. I’m just in my pajamas though. Do you think I should go put some eyeliner on?” Kihyun presses his lips together and Minhyuk leans back to stare directly at Kihyun’s face and breathes.

“I guess a little powder and eyeliner never hurt anyone. Also put on some actual pants. That would be nice.”

Kihyun smiles widely. “What do you mean Mr. Son won’t appreciate my milky thighs on display?” He asks, stretching his leg and Minhyuk slaps his flesh playfully, but Kihyun notes him gulping as he stares at Kihyun’s pale stretch of skin.

“If you take some nice pictures I’ll treat you to something nice later,” Kihyun whispers into Minhyuk’s ear, his hoarse voice driving a shiver down Minhyuk’s spine, the silver-haired boy jumping up to grab his camera, and Kihyun walks away to change into something acceptable, chuckling as he does.

*****

They are mostly candid shots, because Kihyun feels awkward posing for anything like that, it wasn’t like he was a model for the clothes he was wearing, and he wasn’t trying to come off as something he wasn’t, so mostly it was just Minhyuk making silly faces and Kihyun laughing, the shutter going off as he does.

He falls into a pile of chuckles when Minhyuk tickles him and the camera goes off from on top of him, capturing his bright eyes curved into beautiful crescents while the rest of his face is hidden behind a pillow. It must be one of those ‘boyfriend shots’ they talk about, because the joy in Kihyun’s eyes is unhindered before Minhyuk’s lenses and silly jokes.

Minhyuk’s photography skills are not amazing, but the amateurish shots only make Kihyun’s jubilance radiate more naturally, the dimples on the tip of his cheeks denting in perfectly, his white set of teeth on full display. Minhyuk steals small kisses whenever he can and Kihyun’s surprise is reflected in his almond-shaped eyes, before he breaks into a grin and the shutter goes off again.

“Do you think that’s enough?” Minhyuk asks, and Kihyun’s abs hurt from the laughing, and Minhyuk has his fringe plastered on his forehead with perspiration, and Kihyun chuckles before grabbing a tissue and dabbing at his face.

“Yeah, more than enough.”

They remove the memory card from the camera and connect it to the laptop. They scroll through the photos, laughing at some blurry shots that are just Kihyun falling on the bed in chortles, some very nice pictures of Minhyuk kissing Kihyun on the tip of his nose and Kihyun’s eyes closed in some peaceful relief. The pictures are beautiful, and Kihyun occasionally kisses Minhyuk softly on his lips at some of the really nice pictures of the both of them.

“I can see why Jooheon thought we were a couple when he first met us.”

“Yeah, you’re so clingy.” Minhyuk jokes, and Kihyun smacks him in the head before going back to selecting the photos to send to Mr. Son.

They choose pictures of every possible angle, ones that show Kihyun’s entire frame, others of him just smiling, teeth bright and grin wide, his happiness infectious even over a picture, and Minhyuk nods his head in approval as Kihyun selects the photos.

 

From: Yoo K. H.

(Yoo K. H. has shared 20 photos with you.)

Um, 20 might be overkill but

I ended up having too much fun taking the pictures

 

From: Son H. W.

Wow.

Just. Wow.

You are a stunner.

Absolutely beautiful.

When can I meet you?

 

Kihyun splutters and Minhyuk just guffaws as he leans into Kihyun’s side, the black-haired boy obviously taken aback at how straightforward Mr. Son is, but at the same time appreciating his honesty. Beating around the bush can be so tiring.

 

From: Son H. W.

Sorry, was I too forward?

I should probably have eased you into it.

Sorry

I’m a little impatient, hah.

 

From: Yoo K. H.

No, that’s fine

No need for sorries

It’s all good (:

I happen to have a little bit of time after 5pm next Friday, is the time okay for you?

 

From: Son H. W.

I’ll be available only at 7pm that day.

Would that be agreeable with you?

 

From: Yoo K. H.

Most certainly!

Where shall I meet you?

I’ll be coming from work so apologies in advance if I smell like grease.

 

From: Son H. W.

Don’t worry about the grease :)

There is a pretty good restaurant in the hotel The Continental in the city

If you’re happy to just meet me there, you can just ask for a reservation under Mr. Son and they’ll bring you to the table

Oh, and just in case there are many Mr. Sons in the place, my first name is Hyunwoo.

Son Hyunwoo.

 

Kihyun says his name a couple of times just to get into the habit, feels the syllables roll over his tongue delicately, a nice name, something that matches his appearance. He likes it, a lot. Minhyuk can tell as well, and he smiles as he sets his chin on Kihyun’s shoulder, warm breath against Kihyun’s neck.

 

From: Yoo K. H.

Well, since we’re into first names now, it’s Kihyun.

Yoo Kihyun.

Nice to meet you, Mr. Son.

 

From: Son H. W.

Beautiful name befitting of a beautiful person like yourself, Kihyun.

Thank you for agreeing to meet me so soon.

I cannot wait to see you in person.

 

From: Yoo K. H.

Of course!

And if you find yourself bored in the days leading up to our meeting, feel free to pop me a message

It’ll be nice to know you a little better before we meet as well

 

From: Son H. W.

You’re a very lovely person

I shall do so

See you very soon

Goodnight for now, Kihyun

 

From: Yoo K. H.

Goodnight! :)

 

Kihyun is grinning when he navigates away from the page, only to find Minhyuk smiling as his chin is propped against Kihyun’s shoulder, his eyes closed and the ends of his lips pulled up.

“Seems like you guys hit it off pretty well.”

Kihyun hums. “So it seems.”

“What do you think? Of him?”

Kihyun scrolls through the other candidates absentmindedly, having no actual intention to accept the other requests now that he’s emotionally invested in Hyunwoo in the short conversation they shared. Maybe he will come back to them again if Hyunwoo doesn’t prove to be as great as he sounds over their messages.

“Interesting. He seems pretty funny. I think he’ll be kind of cool.” Kihyun is petting Minhyuk on the head and the silver-haired boy curls into the touch, breathing out a sigh of relief. “What do you think?” Kihyun repeats the question to Minhyuk.

Minhyuk smiles. “Yeah. I like him too. I think you guys will be great.”

Kihyun doesn’t know how to place this feeling of Minhyuk approving of Hyunwoo, like the vote of confidence from his best friend is the most important thing in the world, and his single word of approval puts him to ease.

“Thanks, Min.”

Minhyuk looks up at him with his uneven blink, and Kihyun smiles. “What for?”

“Everything. For being so supportive about all of this. I actually feel pretty good about meeting him now.”

Minhyuk smiles, wide, the ends of his lips pulling as far as possible. “That’s what I’m here for. Told you I’m here to pull you out of your bullshit, which, in most cases, is your own wild imagination. It’ll work out fine. I’ll stalk out at the restaurant if I need to.”

Kihyun shakes his head. “That wouldn’t be necessary, thanks.” Trembles as he laughs, Minhyuk trembling along with him.

“I worry for you all the time. Even if I don’t show it. You know that right?” Minhyuk says suddenly, and Kihyun feels his heart swelling at the confession, and he nods his head quietly, because he has his pride, and it’s quite unlike Minhyuk to be so blatant about his concern.

“Thank you. You’re the best.” Kihyun mumbles, and Minhyuk pretends like he doesn’t hear it, even if his face might split into two from how wide his grin is.

Kihyun shifts in Minhyuk’s hold slightly and he’s now facing him, looking as he blinks unevenly, gaze trained on Kihyun and he studies every little spot and crease on his face. Kihyun leans forward and kisses Minhyuk, melts Minhyuk into the touch, tongue slipping into his mouth naturally, Minhyuk sliding onto the bed and bringing Kihyun with him and their legs are tangled together.

Slim fingers run through Kihyun’s jet black hair and Minhyuk exerts pressure, at which Kihyun breathes out in comfort, a sharp but gentle pull on the end of Kihyun’s hair has his breathing pick up and Kihyun groans.

“That feels good?” Minhyuk asks, voice soothing, cooing, even, and Kihyun almost mews into his touch. Minhyuk always feels warm, easing his nerves, putting him into complete peace and comfort.

“Mmm.” Kihyun replies, lazily searching for Minhyuk’s lips as his eyes are completely shut, and Minhyuk is more than happy to reciprocate. They kiss messily for a few moments and Kihyun’s eyes fly open as he gasps, Minhyuk’s fingers still in his hair, tugging a little tighter now.

“Minhyuk. Please.” Kihyun’s breathing is cut short when Minhyuk smiles and leans closer into Kihyun and his semi-hard erection presses tightly against Kihyun’s crotch, the younger boy grab a bunch of Minhyuk’s shirt in his fists and pulls him closer, eager for the friction, the contact, anything .

“You like that?” Minhyuk is teasing, playful, a spark in his eyes, and Kihyun knows he likes it when he begs, the usually prideful boy rendered to a putty mess when he asks, pushes his buttons, kisses the right places.

“Yeah. Yeah, I like that. Please, Min.” His voice teethers to its breaking point when Minhyuk latches his teeth against a fair piece of flesh on his neck and sucks on it harshly, a purplish spot forming when he pulls away, proud of himself.

Kihyun’s hands are busy searching for Minhyuk’s, fingers wrapping around Minhyuk’s forearm and guiding his hands to where he wants to be touched, on his waist, and he kisses Minhyuk fiercely again, the silver-haired boy proceeding to move his hands down his back and kneads his ass with a tight grip.

Kihyun moans into the kiss and Minhyuk smirks, the curve of his lips printed against Kihyun’s as his fingers presses further into Kihyun’s flesh through his pants, and then he slips his warm palms underneath Kihyun’s pants, under his underwear and his smooth skin comes into direct contact with Kihyun’s ass.

He shivers, presses himself closer to Minhyuk’s chest, urging him to take it further, and Minhyuk relents easily, thumb rubbing quiet circles against Kihyun’s ass cheeks, running his palms over the curve of his ass, appreciating the smooth skin, giving it a sharp pinch and laughing when Kihyun yelps.

“So pretty,” Minhyuk mumbles against Kihyun’s thin lips as the boy shivers, the compliment shaking through his nerves, down to the tips of his toes, tingling, sharp, exhilarating. Kihyun’s eyes are half-lidded and his breathing is rushed, about twice the speed of Minhyuk’s slow and steady inhales and exhales, eager and desperate for a touch.

Kihyun cups the silver-haired boy’s face and traces his thumb against his skin, smiling when Minhyuk leans into his hold, and then Minhyuk is massaging his ass again, and then his right hand is pulled out from under his pants.

Trembling fingertips are held near Kihyun’s lips and the black-haired boy opens his lips cautiously, taking note to do everything as slowly as possible, even if every bit of him is aching for Minhyuk to just touch him, his eyes darting up to look at Minhyuk from under his long lashes. Minhyuk’s fingers are in his hot, wet mouth, and his tongue runs up and down the length of his digits, a trail of saliva pulling out when he leans back.

Minhyuk groans; Kihyun knows way too well what that gaze does, and his cock twitches, pressed tightly against his fevered skin. Kihyun doesn’t stop, keeps going, licking, sucking, making lewd slurping sounds as Minhyuk just watches like a member of the audience, his left hand pulling out from under Kihyun’s pants and reaching to remove his clothes.

“Mmm baby, take off your clothes.” Minhyuk growls, and Kihyun is quick to follow, unbuttoning his pants and pulls it down along with his underwear, then his t-shirt over his head, pale vast planes of toned muscles straining as he stretches to take off his garments.

Minhyuk looks, then Kihyun’s eager fingers are also taking his clothes off, and he lets him, the black-haired boy grinning, giddy, light-headed, like a child waiting for his favourite sweet to be given out.

Minhyuk’s wet fingers return to Kihyun’s bare ass and he runs his finger along the crack of his ass while he kisses Kihyun carelessly, sometimes missing his lips and hitting his nose instead. Kihyun laughs, but the chuckle dies in his throat when Minhyuk pushes his index finger into his hole, a little strangled cry replacing the chortle.

Minhyuk stills, and Kihyun gulps, stray tears gathering at the corners of his eyes, and Minhyuk kisses him quietly, before Kihyun reaches a hand out to Minhyuk’s arm and tugs at it himself. The silver-haired boy laughs when he gets the hint and moves his finger deeper into Kihyun. Kihyun whines, loud, high-pitched, gasps between his little squeaks. Minhyuk loves it.

He inserts his middle finger next and Kihyun visibly tenses up, but Minhyuk knows the rhythm by heart, and in seconds he’s busy pumping two fingers into Kihyun, who has his back arched, and has resorted to moving his ass downwards closer to the base of Minhyuk’s fingers.

“More.” Kihyun barely croaks, and Minhyuk puts in a third finger, Kihyun screams when they are lodged securely into him completely, his breathing rapid and uneven, Minhyuk staring intently at Kihyun squirming in his hold, his head thrown back and his mouth gaping, a silent plea for more.

Minhyuk kisses Kihyun on the tip of his nose before pulling his fingers out, earning a small cry of protest, but Minhyuk promises more when he pushes Kihyun to the headboard and the black-haired boy is leaned tiredly against the wooden surface, his legs wide open, lewd, sexy, milky white thighs on full show.

Minhyuk licks his lips, doesn’t conceal the lust in his gaze as he stares hard at Kihyun, the boy flushing a new shade of red at the attention. “Damn, Ki. Seriously, what did I do in my past life to deserve someone so beautiful like you?”

“Just shut up, oh my god.”

Minhyuk chuckles, before he bends down and drops a kiss on Kihyun’s hard erection, attracting a sharp gasp. “Psh, you like it way too much to ask me to shut up.”

Minhyuk proceeds to kiss the space in between Kihyun’s thighs, dangerously close to his cock, but not close enough, hot breath against his skin, his thighs trembling when Minhyuk steers close to his erection, but Minhyuk is a tease, and then he dips lower to kiss Kihyun’s hole. Kihyun gasps, barely breathes.

Minhyuk sticks out his tongue and the tip tickles his hole and Kihyun’s cries die in his chest and he’s trying so hard to not scream out, tears forming in his eyes and he grips on the sheets tightly. Minhyuk looks up at him from his silver bangs, and Kihyun reaches out to run his long fingers through Minhyuk’s hair, at which Minhyuk just grins.

His tongue goes into his hole and he rims it expertly, the moisture of his tongue lubing up Kihyun’s hole, and Kihyun is tensing up and curling up into himself, knees pulling towards his chest, and Minhyuk’s pulls his knees further apart.

Kihyun is shaking when Minhyuk sticks his tongue deeper into him, his lips touching his skin, burning and wet. “Minhyuk, God, please just. Please.”

Minhyuk looks up from what he’s doing. “Please what?” he asks, a grin on his face, one that makes Kihyun want to punch his face in.

Kihyun breathes, his chest heaving, back arched in eager need, eyes hazy and tears welling. “Please. Just fuck me. Now.”

The silver-haired boy just smiles in return and cocks his head to the side, grinning. “I like it when you beg. It’s unbecoming of you. I like that.”

“You’re a fucking sadist.”

“Only in bed. Beg for it again, Ki.”

“Fuck me.” He asks, gaze still steely, and Minhyuk reaches out to hold his cock in his warm hand, and Kihyun cannot breathe. “Put some emotion into it, will you?”

“God, Minhyuk, just fuck me already.” Kihyun whines, and then Minhyuk pumps his erection in his hands, short, sweet, not quite enough.

“You can do better than that, Kihyun.”

Minhyuk pumps him again. “Fuck!” Kihyun shouts, and Minhyuk is grinning. “Fuck, please, Minhyuk, please.” He squirms in his hold, his waist leaving the bed in sheer desperation, “Fuck, just please. Please, just fuck me.”

Minhyuk pumps him again, for the fun of it, likes seeing Kihyun shivering in his grip, and then leans down to kiss his lips tenderly.

“Your wish is my command.”

Kihyun’s fingers are busy searching beside him, and Minhyuk leans forward to open the bedside drawer and pulls out a bottle of lube and a condom. The silver-haired boy peels the packaging open with his teeth and pours a generous amount of lube on his cock, Kihyun just looking, observing, waiting.

“Quick.”

“Wow, you’re such an impatient brat.”

Kihyun groans when Minhyuk takes his own sweet time. “I just want your dick up my ass. C’mon, Min, it’s not rocket science.”

Minhyuk guffaws. “That’s all I want to hear,” he whispers as he lines the tip of his cock with Kihyun’s hole, and with a knowing glance, he surges forward and pushes himself into Kihyun.

The black-haired boy holds his breath when Minhyuk enters, his eyes shut tightly as Minhyuk kisses his shoulder lovingly, whispering words of assurance, warm breath against his taut skin, palm going to Kihyun’s erection, and Kihyun feels his muscles loosen, feels a stronger need for Minhyuk’s touch.

Kihyun hums with his eyes still closed, and Minhyuk holds his sides tightly as he pushes further in, a wanton moan spilling from Kihyun’s lips, and then more, when Minhyuk rocks his hips against Kihyun’s, moves in and out skillfully, his hard length pumping deeper into Kihyun with every thrust, driving further into his warm hole. Minhyuk groans, almost a growl erupting from his chest, the tightness of Kihyun’s hole pressing against his erection and he breathes, barely able to open his eyes to look down at Kihyun.

He’s glad he does, because Kihyun is splattered over the bed with his knees pressed against his chest, arms coming to wrap around his knees and he’s crying, moaning, beads of tears rolling down the sides of his face and there is drool on the side of his mouth, his lips red and puckered from the kissing, then he opens his mouth wide in silence, a muted cry for more, rocking himself against Minhyuk.

He looks absolutely beautiful. Minhyuk feels a pang of jealousy knowing that someone else might also be able to look as Kihyun comes completely undone under their touch, his beauty not reserved for just Minhyuk. He doesn’t want to own Kihyun, he knows that much, but he was selfish, and he wished that he would be the only person on the planet to see Kihyun reduce himself into a putty and submissive pile of a mess at the slightest touch.

“God, you’re so fucking pretty.”

Kihyun flushes despite his mind being in a mess, despite not being able to think straight, and the compliment goes straight to his already-hard dick, and he heaves. “Tell me more.” Kihyun begs, and Minhyuk smiles between his grunts and his harsh thrusts.

“You’re the most beautiful person I’ve seen in my life. You feel so good, Kihyun. What a pretty thing. Absolutely stunning.” A hard thrust.

“Mm. More.” His thighs slapping against Kihyun’s ass.

“So, so, absolutely eye-catching. Such smooth skin. Look at you. So pretty for me. You like it, hmm? You like it, Kihyunnie?” Pumping Kihyun’s length with his large hands, hips rolling into Kihyun.

“Mmm, Kihyunnie likes it. Am I pretty enough for you?”

Kihyun almost forgets to speak, his voice breaking in the middle of his sentence, and he struggles to pick it back up. Arches his back. Closer, closer to Minhyuk. His dick fills him up completely. His voice is all choked up at his throat. Minhyuk’s left hand pumping his dick, right hand running across his chest. Playing with his nipple with his thumb and index finger. Kihyun gasps, moans, groans. He’s so, so close.

“More than enough, baby. So, so, pretty. Beautiful. Amazing. You feel good, sweetie. Perfect for me.”

Minhyuk is flicking his pink perky nipple and his hips are relentless, and there’s a sharp twitch, and Minhyuk removes his hands from Kihyun’s chest, digs his fingers into his hips instead, so hard they would certainly leave a mark, and hits a spot that has Kihyun seeing stars.

“Fuck.” They both breathe in the same exhale, and Minhyuk picks up speed, Kihyun ready to unfurl whenever Minhyuk does. “Fuck, fuck!” Minhyuk mutters, and then he’s releasing, strings and strings of cum in the condom, the warmth of his release filling up the insides of Kihyun, and then he comes as well, messy, white, bright and blinding.

They rock against each other for the next few minutes, Minhyuk riding out the last of his high, and Kihyun just enjoying the feeling of Minhyuk rutting against him, the deafening sounds of their slaps, spent and breathless.

Then Minhyuk is falling into the space beside him, laughing, head spinning, and Kihyun laughs with him, curls into his front, naked, sticky and sweaty, but having no intentions to move. Minhyuk kisses the shell of his ear and mutters something about towels and leaves the bed empty of his presence.

Kihyun almost drifts off to sleep until he feels the bed dip and Minhyuk is back with wet towels and he wipes him down, careful, gentle, and then he kisses him on the lips again, softly, honey dripping from his gaze.

Kihyun grins tiredly, and Minhyuk just shrugs himself in the space behind Kihyun, pulls the black-haired male closer to himself and pulls the blanket over the both of them, kissing Kihyun’s scalp and his arms are wrapped around him tightly, his warmth akin to that of an oven, easing Kihyun into a whole night of peaceful slumber.

Chapter Text

From: Son H. W.

Good morning Kihyun
How did you sleep?
Hope your day goes well.

From: Yoo K. H.

morning
you’re up early
is it like a rich person rule to be up so early? because tutorial starts at 1pm today and im still in bed at 11am

From: Son H. W.

Let’s just say when you’re busy earning money, 24 hours is always never quite enough

From: Yoo K. H.

hah take it from someone in the service sector: 24 hours is way too long
just begging each shift to get even shorter, wishing for time to pass by quicker
take it from a poor part-time working university student though, you’re right
24 hours is never enough
sorry whoops am i bothering you?
tutorial is boring

From: Son H. W.

I miss school. It has responsibilities only in the way that if you mess up you only do yourself in. Running a company and stuff like that? If you do something wrongly, you could be messing with a few thousand people’s lives.

From: Yoo K. H.

yikes
sounds like some stressful shizz
sorry u have to deal w that

From: Son H. W.

On the bright side, I get to have white wine imported from Europe on the same day as my order, arriving just in time for the midnight drinks my butler brings to my bedside as the kitchen prepares my favourite snacks and I have a lady who comes immediately at the snap of the finger to massage the tight knots in my shoulder.

From: Yoo K. H.

hm u kno what, im startin to feel less and less of that empathy in my previous text
also do u need a secretary im v good at organising stuff i promise i wont mess up ur appt with mr kim with the other meeting u have w dr park

From: Son H. W.

I have a very responsible secretary who won’t be happy you offered

From: Yoo K. H.

aw ): r u sure? cause i was certain i was the best candidate

From: Son H. W.

Mr. Im would be quick to prove you wrong.

From: Yoo K. H.

oh ):
ah well, it wasnt my intention to fire someone from their job anyway
but the position for sugar baby is still open right?

From: Son H. W.

It still is.
And I’m certain that so far, you’re the best candidate.

From: Yoo K. H.

ok it’s reassuring to know no one has managed to oust me from the competition

From: Son H. W.

You are proving to be very strong competition, if I may say so.

From: Yoo K. H.

you flirt in some super weird ways
i like it
a lot

From: Son H. W.

And your direct approach at flirting is commendable, too.

From: Yoo K. H.

thanks!
it took some intense training but i think i’ve mastered the art of blatant flirting now
teach u a few tricks if you’re up for it
also we’ve been texting for ages
do you actually work or are u really just some guy who kicks their feet back on the table and wait for other people to do stuff while u just sign some random papers and try to look important?

From: Son H. W.

You might be surprised that the bulk of what important people actually do is exactly what you just said.
But no, I am trying to be more proactive in my role; the top-down approach from my dad’s generation just causes breakdowns in communication and unnecessary practices that only tire out the staff.

From: Yoo K. H.

so, what, an uprising?

From: Son H. W.

I’m at the head of this company, Kihyun.
Not really an uprising, is it?
Something like a new company culture.

From: Yoo K. H.

sounds like hard work

From: Son H. W.

It will be
But if they all take it in, I promise it’ll be better for everyone

From: Yoo K. H.

you really care a lot about the company and your staff
it’s nice

*****

It’s all Kihyun’s fault for being way too busy to research on The Continental, because he’s just ended a long shift at the store and realises that it’s too late to go back and change into something decent, and The Continental is a hotel that looks like it would have rooms that are five times the size of Kihyun’s entire apartment.

So he turns up in a hoodie and some ripped jeans, admittedly the jeans do a very good job of clinging to his flesh and showcasing his very pretty legs, but he looks like he didn’t even bother to put in effort——way to go to make a lasting first impression——and he runs his fingers through his sweat-damp hair, muttering expletives under his breath as he dashes for the bus.

The ride to the hotel is bumpy to say the least, so Kihyun kind of screws up his eyeliner and his liner wing is lopsided, silently cursing the driver and the bumps in the road, assuring himself that it’ll all be fine, and at least he isn’t late.

He manages to go through the revolving doors at seven, on the dot, and has to spend another five minutes navigating himself in the colossal hotel for the restaurant. He would normally be hyper aware of the stares, at his running or his outfit, or maybe both, but he’s tardy——even in his own books——to really care about glances anymore.

“Hello, Sir, table for?” The piercing stare the hostess serves as she gives him a once over almost hurts him physically, but then his lungs are combusting from the lack of oxygen, so he opts to prioritise the latter and shoves her judgemental glance to the back of his mind.

He smiles, slightly awkward, still catching his breath. “Um, there’s a reservation under the last name Son? Hyunwoo?”

Kihyun notes the way her face lights up the slightest tinge, a mask of surprise or disgust or admiration, he can’t discern, but allows himself to breathe when she nods and gestures for him to follow, weaving through tables of middle-aged men and women who are all dressed up, laughing, chattering, sipping on wine.

“Mr. Son has been waiting for you.”

Kihyun feels another stab, like she’s reminding him of his lack of punctuality, and then the person she refers to Mr. Son comes into view, the man he’s spent the whole of last night Googling pictures of in his real, human form, looking way more suave than a digital image that truly did him no justice.

His broad shoulders fill up his neatly-ironed suit perfectly, his golden tan skin tight and smooth, and he looks about twice the size of Kihyun, which normally intimidates, but instead just makes him wonder if he’d be a better big spoon than Minhyuk is.

Mr. Son looks up from his phone and he sets his gaze on Kihyun, his eyes small and almost like slits, a quick smile lightens up his whole expression. He is not subtle about staring, however, and Kihyun feels the scrutiny from the top of his scalp to the tips of his toes.

“Ah. Kihyun.” His voice is baritone, his syllables seeping into one another, and Kihyun tries his best to remember that he is a mumbler. He rises from his seat and stretches out an arm, Kihyun hunching into his own frame and taking his hand timidly, noting how warm he is, before pulling his lips together in an apologetic grimace.

“Sorry I’m late and look like crap.”

The man laughs, a solid ring that resounds from his chest, before gesturing to the seat opposite himself, shaking his head. “Apology accepted for the first bit, but you look great, so I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Kihyun tries his best to remember that he’s also a smotherer, attempting to push down the blush that’s creeping onto his cheeks.

“You’re very good-looking,” Mr. Son says, like he’s just talking about the weather outside, like he’s discussing what they’ll be having for their meal. “I mean, you looked good in the pictures already, but this. Wow.”

The pride swells within him and Kihyun is certain his cheeks are stained a bright red by now, but Mr. Son remains unfazed. “My eyeliner is crooked.” Kihyun points at his left eye, and Mr. Son just chuckles. “Wouldn’t have realised until you told me.”

Kihyun wonders if Mr. Son has somehow put him up on a pedestal, and wonders what it’ll take for him to do a free fall from his expectations. Maybe if he starts picking his nose. Maybe he’ll stop being so smitten.

“Mr. Son, you——”

“Just Hyunwoo, please.”

Kihyun hikes up an eyebrow, and Hyunwoo just laughs in return, easing the discomfort in Kihyun. He takes in the way Hyunwoo smiles at him welcomingly, and he thinks he’s been silly to have lost sleep over their meeting today. The tall man brings with him an air of warmth, and Kihyun settles into it comfortably.

“Hyunwoo.” Kihyun mumbles, like he’s rehearsing the lines for a play, and there is an amused glint in Hyunwoo’s eyes.

“Yes, Kihyun?”

His name bounces off his lips easily, like he’s practised calling his name in front of the mirror for years, and Kihyun feels his heart in his throat.

“You’re very good-looking too.”

Hyunwoo is stunted for a second, and then he chortles, his eyes turning into straight lines, and Kihyun finds himself laughing with him, hiding his wide smile behind the back of his hand.

Their server comes to the table and asks what they’d like for starters, Kihyun hurriedly picking up the menu and his eyes turn into the size of saucers as he skims through the prices of the dishes. A salad costs close to half of his pay for one shift. It’s insane. Kihyun blinks again at the exorbitant prices, almost hoping that it’ll decrease if he looked at it some more. He knew he wouldn’t have been able to pay for Hyunwoo as well, but now it seems like he’ll have trouble even if they go dutch.

He steals a quick peek at Hyunwoo, who seems to already have his eyes trained on him, gaze expectant. Kihyun flushes and fumbles with the menu in his hands. Hyunwoo laughs, perhaps enjoying, to a certain extent, how he has the ability to settle and unsettle Kihyun at the same time.

“I’ll have the lobster bisque,” Hyunwoo says finally, looking away from Kihyun and at his own menu, the server nodding in acknowledgement. “And you, Sir?”

Kihyun sputters, eyes tracing the lines and lines of words, his mind whipping up a whole storm of calculations and his existing budgets and which dishes he would be able to afford.

“Do you——” Hyunwoo’s eyes are searching when Kihyun looks up from his menu and straight back at him. “Do you want to just get the same? It tastes good. I promise it’ll be an okay choice.”

Kihyun wants to say that it’s not so much the quality of the food as much as it is the price tag that bothers him, but the server still has a smile ironed onto her face, and he would hate to be anything but cooperative. He pushes down the temptation to pull out his wallet and start counting his bills and coins.

He nods without another word, and the server thanks them as she takes the menu from them, Kihyun muttering a soft thank you under his breath, eyebrows knitted together in worry.

He decides that he'll just have to pull out that supplementary card his mother had forced him to have before he left, and have a bit of explaining to do as to why his mother is paying for his extravagant meal in a high-class hotel.

"So, what are your hobbies?” Hyunwoo asks, lacing his fingers together and props his hand on the table between the both of them, exuding a confidence Kihyun can only dream to have.

“I’m not a virgin,” Kihyun states, a response at which Hyunwoo raises a single brow and a chuckle falls from his lips carelessly, one that doesn’t take Kihyun by surprise, but it doesn’t stop him from appreciating the way his voice sounds when he laughs.

“Not really the information I was asking for, but sure. I’ll keep that in mind.” He takes a sip out of his wine glass, red liquid staining his lips for a moment, keeping Kihyun entranced.

“Why are you asking me all these questions? Isn’t this whole,” he gestures a large circle with his arms to mean ‘this whole whatever-this-is’, “just for you to pay me money for sex?”

Hyunwoo inhales, the look on his face serious. “You’re not a prostitute, Kihyun. I don’t think that was what I was looking for, anyway.”

“You mean you don’t want to sleep with me?” Confusion crosses his face; he had assumed that the only reason Hyunwoo had asked for more pictures was because he wanted to find out what he was paying for, and that was half the reason why he was so nervous about meeting this man.

“Not what I said.”

“So you want to sleep with me.”

“Only when you also want that from me.”

Kihyun doesn’t stop himself from eyeing Hyunwoo from top to bottom, the tip of his pink tongue darting out as he licks his bottom lip. He likes what he sees, and he won’t beat around the bush about that. Hyunwoo guffaws at his reaction and throws his head back, amused by the character that Kihyun is.

“You are actually impossible.”

“Will you still want to sleep with me even if I’m impossible? Sorry, I just——I kind of need the cash. Which is why I’m here. Or I could be using this time to work the overnight shift at McDonalds and not have to starve this week.”

Hyunwoo looks at him disapprovingly. The sudden possibility that Kihyun’s small frame may be anything but his natural size makes Hyunwoo frown. “No one’s starving this week. I don’t think you fully grasp the concept of what this is.”

Kihyun narrows his eyes. “What is this?”

This,” Hyunwoo explains, word for word, clearly, not missing out a single syllable, almost like Kihyun is a child and needs to be hand-held, “is me, a rather successful businessman who has a bit of cash to spare, who likes to shower good-looking boys with gifts and things that make them happy. And if they feel like they want to, at any point of time, they can sleep with me. If they want nothing physical to happen, that’s fine. I’m all good with it. Just think of me as a boyfriend, with a bit of money, a lot of love to go around, a huge need to pamper people, and no obligation to sleep with.”

Kihyun snorts. “Sounds more relenting than an actual relationship is.” It sounds too good to be true, but it is 2017 after all, and he has been living under a rock all this time, stressing about money and university, so it really shouldn’t be surprising that people like Hyunwoo exist. “Please tell me you don’t traffic drugs or do anything shady like that.”

Hyunwoo’s gaze darkens, Kihyun almost chokes on his own breath, until Hyunwoo grins, and Kihyun is tempted to swat an arm in his stupid, handsome face. He doesn’t, and Hyunwoo just laughs louder.

Their server returns with their starters, and places a basket of breadsticks in the middle of the table. Kihyun reaches, instinctively, but then shies, wondering if it's rude to be so eager to eat. Hyunwoo doesn't seem to mind, just finds it more endearing than anything, and tips his chin to the bread, urging him to pick one up.

Kihyun does, munches on it quietly, smiles, and lets Hyunwoo return to the conversation.

“Why would you ever think that?”

“I don’t know. People who do things that hurt people want to try to do nice things to other people in a desperate attempt to make amends. It’s like when some hypocrites say they love giving to charity but make a point to tell the world that they just donated some cash, and because they do some dodgy stuff behind the scenes and hope God would let them off when Judgement Day comes.”

Hyunwoo raises his eyebrow again, Kihyun relishing in the fact that he’s managed to be anything but predictable so far.

“You believe in God?”

Kihyun rolls his eyes. “God, no.” He stifles a chuckle from the pun because Hyunwoo is in a suit looking like the businessman he is, and Kihyun is still in an oversized sweater, looking like the poor university student he is. It’s a sharp contrast and he doesn’t think he’s allowed to laugh. “My parents are very religious people.”

“How did they take your coming out?”

A tight grimace, like a quick pinch in his sides, and Hyunwoo knows he’s said the wrong thing, because Kihyun’s expression turns sour for a second, even if he tries to reel it back with a slightly less bitter smile.

“They didn’t. I moved out to live on my own because of that. I felt like it was the kind of thing I would feel increasingly compelled to share if I kept staying in that house.”

“They wouldn’t take it well?” Hyunwoo asks, wants to put a reassuring hand on Kihyun’s smaller one, but he doesn’t.

He presses his lips together, different from the reserved, shy, nervous one when he had first sat down with Hyunwoo. It’s the kind that draws a tinge of pity, even though Kihyun would be the last person on Earth to want any of that.

“Let’s just say it would have expedited my moving out of the house, and not in a pleasant way where they would have hugged me and told me that my young boy has grown up so quickly.”

“Ah,” Hyunwoo replies, and decides against his better judgement, extending out an arm, his fingertips barely touching the knuckles of Kihyun’s hand. The younger boy stiffens, and Hyunwoo is ready to pull his hand back when Kihyun grabs at it hurriedly, almost carving a scratch on Hyunwoo’s skin with his nails.

“Ah, I’m sorry. I’m just——”

“You look stressed,” Hyunwoo explains and Kihyun smiles weakly. “I just haven’t had a good night’s sleep ever since your offer. I get worried a lot. I mean, I was ready to come here and have a meat stick up my butt and get paid and not have to worry about groceries for next week.”

Hyunwoo winces. “Are you always this crude?”

Kihyun looks like he might doze off on the table, amidst the fine dining crowd, and Hyunwoo somehow doesn’t feel embarrassed enough by his behaviour, thumb starting to rub soft circles on the back of Kihyun’s hand. “Not when I’m awake. I still have a bit of shame, but it wears off when I’m sleepy or drunk. It’s not fun.”

Kihyun breathes through his nose, a crinkle between his brows makes Hyunwoo want to straighten it out for him. “Can you believe I’ve had three whole glasses of wine before I came? Just to feel a little more brave. I thought I was super okay with the whole ‘I’m a hooker but it’s okay I need to eat’ thing, but it turns out I’m a little too proud for it.”

“Lucky you’re not a hooker, then.”

Kihyun smiles, a hint of a genuine one for the first time in the night, and Hyunwoo finds himself reflecting the smile, Kihyun’s eyelids fluttering open and shut as his long lashes fan across his eyebags indecisively. What a beautiful boy, Hyunwoo thinks, but Kihyun is pulling his hand out from underneath his and the magic is broken.

“It’s not——I’m sorry. It’s just——” Kihyun yawns, softer when he realises where he is, “It was too comfortable, the whole thumb rubbing thing. I was going to fall asleep.”

“I would have been okay if you did. You look like you need the rest.”

Kihyun laughs, his voice a smatter of handbells. Hyunwoo decides he likes it a lot. “I’m not about to dip my chin in lobster bisque that costs more than two full meals added together, seven whole meals, if we’re talking about ramen for every meal, which is not something I haven’t done before.”

Hyunwoo is frowning again, and Kihyun is silent, afraid that he had upset Hyunwoo, who seems to be giving him a look his mother used to give him when he had told her he was full after half a bowl of rice before he went running back into his room to play some more on his XBox.

“You don’t take good care of yourself. I don’t like that.”

Kihyun breathes, but only slightly, and he shrugs. “I need to be paid enough to take good care of myself Mister——” He pauses, because he doesn’t know what he is allowed to call Hyunwoo if he agrees to all of this, but considering how he hasn’t agreed to any terms, and Hyunwoo hasn’t laid down any rules, maybe Hyunwoo’ll change his mind and decide he doesn’t need Kihyun’s services anymore?

Hyunwoo laughs. “Just call me Hyunwoo. Regardless of the arrangement. It’s okay. I’m not a lot older than you. If you want, you can call me hyung. I don’t really care.”

“Do you——” Kihyun’s eyes are searching for answers, Hyunwoo’s face betrays no secrets, and he silently curses Hyunwoo in his head, wondering if poker face skills were something rich businessmen needed to take classes for before they inherited their family business. “Are you still interested? In this?” Kihyun looks at his lap and indicates to his entire frame, and Hyunwoo can’t help but laugh.

Kihyun furrows his brows. “Is this funny to you? Is this arrangement supposed to be a playful one? Because I’ve been tiptoeing around you the whole night, kind of just beating myself up for turning up in a sweater and jeans and I may not sound this way but internally, I am screeching at me.”

Hyunwoo smiles. “It’s an arrangement. I pay you money, you’re happy, I’m happy. It doesn’t have to be complicated and you don’t need to tread around me. I’m just like any other normal human being.”

“Worth a few hundred millions of dollars, that is.”

Hyunwoo chortles. “At least someone else did their research too.”

Kihyun’s head jerks up, Hyunwoo’s gaze still smouldering, a smirk still pasted on the edges of his lips. Contrary to Hyunwoo who appears as the first search result on Google and has a Wikipedia page, Kihyun isn’t really a character you’d find anything about on the Internet, not even if you squinted hard enough. “You looked up on me?”

“Well, you did say I was worth a few hundred millions of dollars. I have people who’re there to make sure that I’m not dealing with someone who isn’t who they say they are.”

Kihyun falls back into his seat and his shoulders move up and down. “That’s fair enough, I guess. If I were worth that much money I would also be careful with the people I deal with.”

Hyunwoo smiles, a small apologetic one that Kihyun waves off with a nonchalant arm. He sweats, hopes Hyunwoo’s employees haven’t delved deep enough into the pits of the Internet where there lies a certain incriminating video of Kihyun, during his early university days where he took short clips with his then boyfriend as they fucked, faces mosaiced and all, but if you knew Kihyun, you would know it was him from the video. It wasn’t difficult to recognise his voice and imagine how they would form loud urgent whines that escalated as he got closer to his climax.

“Back to the question: yes, I’m still interested. You’re a very interesting person, Kihyun.”

Kihyun gawks, and then explodes in a roar of laughter. “That’s the best joke I’ve heard all day.” He starts another sequence of laughter, barely noticing the way the other patrons are staring at their table, and then he dabs at the corner of his eyes. “Sorry, I’m just the lamest and most boring person you’ll ever meet. No jokes.”

It’s Hyunwoo’s turn to shrug. “Well, I think you’re interesting.”

A tint of pink creeps up from the back of his neck, dusting over the shell of his ears. “T-thank you?”

Hyunwoo smiles with the brightness of a thousand suns, and Kihyun places his hand back on the table, Hyunwoo picks it up again, grinning like a boy who’s gotten his mother to buy him a toy he’s wanted for ages.

“I take it you understand how this works? I won’t go into details as of yet——my secretary will be sending you some paperwork if you’re agreeable——but I wanted to make sure we were on the same page. I repeat, you have no obligation to sleep with me.” Hyunwoo enunciates, almost stern, like he’s lecturing Kihyun for being an inattentive student, and a shiver runs down Kihyun’s spine.

“Yeah. Yeah, I know what I’m signing up for.”

“That’s good. Can I have them serve the next course?” Hyunwoo asks, polite, patient, always asking for permission, his eyes scanning Kihyun’s expression carefully, making sure to sidestep from sensitive questions like the one he had asked before.

“Yes. Yes please.” Kihyun relaxes, feels the knot in his shoulder unfurling, and he moves away from Hyunwoo’s hand when the server comes to pick up their bowls. He sighs, noting the way Hyunwoo orders another glass of wine, his index finger in the air, his whisper muted and private, wine that’s way older and way more difficult to pronounce than the cheap pinot noir he had downed three glasses of before arriving.

“Would you like some? Wine?” Hyunwoo asks, and Kihyun is caught staring, so he coughs into his arm and purses his lips. Fuck it, he's going to be using her card anyway, might as well splurge. “Is it… is it okay if I have champagne?”

Hyunwoo smiles and nods as he mutters something to the waitress who takes his order with a bow, and they are alone again. He realises Hyunwoo didn’t ask him what champagne he would like, and he’s silently glad for that, because he knows next to nothing about good alcohol, other than the ones on sale at the bottle shop.

“There’s one thing that’ll probably be written in the agreement after tonight, but um——” Hyunwoo’s words hang between them, and Kihyun is frowning. “I like to be in control. It’s not a major issue, really, but there are some people who can’t stand it. Like deciding on the drink you’re ordering. Stuff like that. I hope it’s not something you’d mind.”

Kihyun chuckles, and sees the tension in Hyunwoo’s shoulders loosen immediately. “It’s okay. I like being taken care of.” He doesn’t blush when he says this, because it’s true, and everyone around him knows it. “Drink orders are fine. Most things are fine. Maybe I should be micromanaged, like Minhyuk says I should. He says I go around bothering with menial stuff and interfering with other people’s lives and that I should have a taste of what it feels like. It’s silly; who doesn’t like being taken care of?”

“Do you?” Kihyun looks at him with a questioning gaze, Hyunwoo holds it. “Do you take good care of people?”

Kihyun shrugs. “Yeah, kind of. I cook and clean and make sure that Minhyuk and Jooheon aren’t utter messes from a late night out, or don’t go completely out of their minds during exam season.”

Hyunwoo laughs, a bark more than a laugh, loud. “That sounds like a lot of work.”

“It is,” he sighs, “but someone’s gotta do it. It can be tiring sometimes.”

Hyunwoo smiles as the server is back with their drinks. “That’s where I step in,” he says, thinks he can afford a cheesy wink, and Kihyun throws his head back in laughter, dimples on the tip of cheeks dented in, eyes mere crescents. Hyunwoo is smitten.

“But really though. Sometimes I can be a bit… overbearing. Not my own words,” Hyunwoo is checking again, for affirmation, just in case Kihyun is just saying it to make him feel better.

“I deal with a load of crap at work. I think I know what overbearing means. Ordering champagne on my behalf is not overbearing. Trust me.” Kihyun takes a dangerously large swig of his champagne, and Hyunwoo laughs, because he’s genuinely having a good time, and Kihyun feels like an old friend. An old friend that’s way too good looking to just be a friend.

“Or quote unquote, bossy.”

Kihyun hikes up an eyebrow. “Like… asserting dominance?” He doesn’t know why his voice shakes when he says this, Hyunwoo’s smile driving the shiver deep into his bones.

“Yeah. Yeah, something like that. Telling people what they should or shouldn’t do, even if I don’t really care. I sometimes order people around just to feel on top of things. It’s a bad habit.”

Kihyun’s voice is a mouse’s. “It’s not a bad habit.”

“Sorry? I didn’t quite catch you.”

“Oh, I said it was okay. We all have our faults. Minhyuk says I’m bossy too. Though the word he uses is annoying.” His shoulders shrink as he lets the alcohol wash through his system. It leaves a sweetness in his mouth. “I nag a lot.”

Hyunwoo shrugs, pairs it with a chuckle. “I don’t mind nagging. At least it shows you care, right?”

He really tries so hard to not smile, but the ends of his lips pull up, and his cheeks are pink. “If only you’d tell Minhyuk or Jooheon that, and they’ll boo at you.”

“You’re that bad?” Hyunwoo teases, and Kihyun just guffaws. “Yeah. A little overbearing too.” He takes a small sip of his drink. “Is that okay?”

The server comes with their main course——Kihyun orders the steak and Hyunwoo the ribs——and the conversation is fractured for a moment, Hyunwoo is nodding ever so slightly as the food is placed on the table, a powerful presence that really shows everyone up, and Kihyun is gulping, thanking the server with a small voice.

She asks if they’d like anything else, and Hyunwoo is looking at him expectantly. “N-no, nothing for now, thank you.”

She leaves, and Hyunwoo resumes the conversation like it hadn’t been disrupted. “Is what okay?”

“Being a little bossy.”

Hyunwoo is smiling as he picks up his fork. “You can be whatever you are, Kihyun. Just be yourself. I’m not paying you to put on a show.”

He frowns. “But if you’re bossy and I’m bossy, we’re going to clash.”

“And so we do. But I trust you’re not the kind of person to pick fights whenever you can. You said you were okay with being bossed around, being taken care of. Just remember that whenever I order you to do anything, it’s really with your interests in mind. And occasionally mine, but I’ll always let you choose when it comes to that.”

Kihyun still looks a bit bewildered. Hyunwoo cuts an edge of his meat and pierces through it with his fork, and then he stretches his arm, places the meat near Kihyun’s lips. Kihyun just looks, doesn’t question, and parts his lips, Hyunwoo sending the piece into his mouth.

“Like that. When you know it’s what I want and you’re okay with it, you can just agree. It’ll be okay. Don’t worry.”

Kihyun munches on the tender piece of meat and nods, still a little foggy on the idea, but the gist is that he pretty much has nothing to lose. Hyunwoo seems like an amazing guy, he doesn’t have to sleep with him if he doesn’t want to, his tuition is all paid for, and he gets to be pampered. He internally thanks his parents for gifting him with a pretty face.

“So. Uh.” Kihyun starts, and Hyunwoo looks up from his plate to stare at him, which makes Kihyun’s heart race. “The thing is. Uh. I’d prefer if you told me straight up about reciprocation. Like what you’re looking for.”

“I’m not quite following you.”

Kihyun breathes. “See, um, my parents and my best friend’s parents have on many occasions tried to offer me money. Help. Financially. With stuff. I said no to all of them because I didn’t want to owe anyone a living. I don’t want to owe you anything either. So if there’s anything at all that you need from me, I’d prefer if you were upfront about it. I’ll definitely say yes, because I’m paid for it, but I just don’t really want to feel like I’m borrowing money from a stranger who doesn’t ask for anything in return. I mean, at the end of the day, this is a business transaction, isn’t it?”

Hyunwoo laughs. “I like you. You’re very honest with yourself.”

Kihyun thinks he can afford to breathe as he lets out a small chuckle. “Yeah well, I just want to make sure we’re on the same page. Of course I understand it’s affection and company you’re looking for, and I’m definitely happy to supply that, but if there’s anything at all that you need from me, you need only say it, okay? I just don’t think I need that passive aggressiveness from my parents about paying for them after I graduate just because I borrowed money from them, or having anyone complaining to me about being tight on finances because they were tied up with paying my tuition. Or having a deadline to repay them, or not being able to say no whenever they ask me for favours because ‘you owe me this much’. Anything like that, really.”

“Noted. I’ll make sure to have you do as much as you’re being paid for, if that’s what you’re asking for.”

Kihyun grins, and returns to his food. “Yeah. If that’s not too much to ask for.”

Hyunwoo chuckles. “I’ll be more than happy to order you around, Kihyun.”

They go back to munching on their food in silence, Hyunwoo shooting warm smiles Kihyun’s way from time to time, and Kihyun flushing a slight pink at the attention, but not shying away from it completely. Hyunwoo’s presence seems to settle even more comfortably between the cracks of awkwardness between them and Kihyun finds himself relaxing into his company, stealing quick glances at Hyunwoo and realising just how he seems to be growingly attractive the more he looks at him. Minhyuk was right, Hyunwoo is hot.

“I’m curious. What kind of stuff do you normally nag about? Just a bit of a spoiler, so I know what to avoid doing unless I want to have you drill through my ear.”

“General cleanliness. God, I hope your place is tidy. I will kick up a storm and make you clean up if anything that’s not supposed to be on the ground is on the ground.”

“Are you inviting yourself to my place?” Hyunwoo asks, chewing on a slice of meat, and Kihyun almost drops his knife, at which Hyunwoo just chortles.

Kihyun doesn’t know how to answer to that, so he doesn’t, and Hyunwoo doesn’t press; the sweep of pink across Kihyun’s flustered face is incentive enough.

*****

Turns out Kihyun never has to pull out the supplementary card, because in the short time he had taken to go to the bathroom and check if his eyeliner was still in place, Hyunwoo has already foot the bill.

Kihyun wants to put up a fight and say something like "no, let me", but pride costs him a meal and nothing to gain, and he really doesn't want to have to explain anything to his mother, so he shrinks back into himself and offers a 'thank you', at which Hyunwoo just smiles, shrugs, like a few-hundred-dollar bill doesn't even scratch the surface of his Italian leather wallet, and Kihyun keeps thinking about how nice it would be to be rich.

Hyunwoo puts out his arm for Kihyun when they leave, the younger boy hooking his arm with Hyunwoo's, a large grin on his face as people stare, mostly at how Hyunwoo is big, strong, his absence sucking all the air out of a room, while Kihyun is tiny, small, insignificant, almost, but when he's linking arms with Hyunwoo, they look at him too, and wonder what they've been missing out on the whole time.

Hyunwoo shares those thoughts when he looks down at Kihyun, his eyes wide as he takes in the vast expanse of the hotel's interior, intricate patterns running along the marble, beautiful and precise.

A long black car pulls up before the hotel, the valet still there, and Kihyun realises Hyunwoo has a chauffeur, poor man who was probably seated in the heat of the car the whole time he and Hyunwoo were having dinner, ready to appear the very second Hyunwoo orders for the limo to arrive.

They talk on the way back to Kihyun's apartment, Hyunwoo telling Kihyun about his day, how a few employees have really liked his new 'company culture', but he really wants to know more about Kihyun, pushes and pushes for him to answer questions about his closest friends, about his hobbies, about what he does in his free time.

He frowns when Kihyun says he barely has free time because most of his time outside of university is spent working, but the frown dissipates when Kihyun shrugs and smiles and says it's okay, and Hyunwoo realises Kihyun doesn't need the protection. His heart still aches for him, though that's a different matter altogether.

“Thanks for sending me back.” Kihyun’s right arm is hooked underneath the strap of his backpack, and he makes a move to reach for the door, when Hyunwoo sets a strong grip on his other arm.

He looks down at the contact, and then Hyunwoo pulls back, almost like he’s afraid of scaring the younger boy away, even if Kihyun is far from a deer being caught in front of headlights. He’s just curious, is all. It’s all still very new to him.

“Just wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed tonight.” Hyunwoo doesn’t look his age when he says this, more like a silly fifteen-year-old boy's confession you’d hear along the corridor in high school, and Kihyun feels the blush of a fifteen-year-old boy who’s just been confessed to.

“Yeah. Yeah, me too. It was fun.”

Hyunwoo leans back into his leather seat, but Kihyun can tell he’s nervous from the way his adam’s apple is bobbing up and down, like he has more to say. He didn’t take Hyunwoo to be someone who’s so easily rattled; who is he, Kihyun? But the thought of being the reason that Hyunwoo’s becoming so unnerved excites Kihyun. He smiles, and Hyunwoo’s breath hitches. He truly is beautiful; it’s impossible.

“I know we’ve talked about it briefly today, and my secretary will see to it as soon as he can, but I… I really hope you’ll consider the arrangement. The clauses in the agreement are all negotiable. Anything you’re not happy with, just speak up. I’m not here to do you in.”

Kihyun chuckles, not mocking, just slightly amused. “Really, because I was thinking that you were probably lying about that whole ‘send me pictures of yourself I won’t catfish other daddies with it’ thing and that you’re ready to sell me out to one of those two hundred men I received and rejected requests on Bizdads.”

Hyunwoo presses his lips together in admiration. “You got two hundred requests. Impressive.”

Kihyun rolls his eyes. “You’re missing the point.”

Hyunwoo laughs, throws his head back, his laughter stemming as a low growl in his throat. It’s starkly different from Kihyun’s own loud barks, or Minhyuk’s high-pitched guffaws, but Kihyun thinks different is nice.

Hyunwoo is back to normal when his thoughts return to the ground. “No, but even if you were to not want to go ahead with the arrangement, I still hope we can remain friends.”

It’s Kihyun’s turn to laugh, because it doesn’t take him very long to read people, and it’s easy to tell they would both have difficulty remaining as just friends even if Kihyun were to take back his decision on signing the agreement. It’s almost a silly thing to say, but Kihyun appreciates the effort.

“You’re adorable,” he comments simply as he places his hand on Hyunwoo’s forearm, and smiles. It lights up a smile on Hyunwoo’s face, and he really wants to kiss Kihyun here, now, in this moment, and his previous thoughts on not scaring the boy away seem to be thrown out of the window as the words “can I kiss you” tumble out of his lips haphazardly.

Kihyun laughs at this, almost like the question confirms his comment on Hyunwoo being cute, but he nods his head, and whispers ‘yes’, almost says ‘yes, silly’, but doesn’t. Hyunwoo leans over the middle seat between them, his palms pressed down into the leather material of the seats and Kihyun meets him halfway.

Kihyun smells like mint, a hint of grease still clinging to him, and Hyunwoo tastes champagne on his lips, a bubbling sweetness on his tongue. Kihyun is a good kisser, albeit a messy one, and Hyunwoo tries his best to not card his fingers through his soft hair, not to cup his large hands around his tiny face, his smooth cheeks, rub his thumb against his fair skin.

His teeth sinks into Kihyun’s bottom lip lightly and the boy doesn’t jump, just hums against Hyunwoo’s lips, tilting his head more to the left so their noses don’t touch, his tongue slipping into Hyunwoo’s mouth, and Hyunwoo tastes like chocolate.

Hyunwoo finds Kihyun sighing, relaxing into the space between them, the arm underneath his backpack strap going slack and he pushes himself closer to Hyunwoo, wanting, asking for more.

But Hyunwoo draws lines where he needs to, and Kihyun stands behind them obediently, so when he pulls away, Kihyun doesn’t act like a brat, and doesn’t pout or whine, just smiles as his eyes slowly open to see Hyunwoo grinning like a child. He really likes it, and he voices just how nice it was, and Hyunwoo agrees, blatant with his affection when he tells Kihyun that he ‘can’t wait to see him again’.

Kihyun blushes, but shares the same thoughts, so he just nods and decides to fuck it, and presses his lips against Hyunwoo’s briefly, again, lingering a little above his cupid’s bow, and Hyunwoo sighs despite himself.

“That was very, very nice,” Hyunwoo mutters, and Kihyun just shrugs before he leans back, fingers wrapped around the strap again, pulling his bag closer to himself.

“Gotta go. I’ll see you soon?”

Hyunwoo smiles and nods.

“See you soon.”

Kihyun grins before opening the door, and steps out, the biting wind making him shiver down to his bones, and his teeth chatters. He insists on staying to wave goodbye to Hyunwoo before seeing his limousine pull off into the distance, and he staggers back into his and Minhyuk’s shared apartment, lips still pulled up softly on their ends.

 

Chapter Text

To: ukhyun1122@naver.com

Dear Mr Yoo,

Hope you’re doing well.

My name is Im Changkyun, Mr Son Hyunwoo’s personal assistant. You can call me Changkyun from here on. I am sending a contract to you (attached to this email) on Mr Son’s behalf. Please pay close attention to all the clauses as this contract is legally binding and has been looked over by Mr Son’s solicitor. Should there be any clauses that you are unclear about, or are against, please reply this email so that I may consult the solicitor to make amendments. Mr Son has expressed his most fervent desire for you to agree to the arrangement, and is likely to agree to pretty much any reasonable adjustments you would like to make.

Please reply to let me know that you have successfully received this email. I would be more than happy to assist with any of your queries, should you have any.

Thank you for your time.

Kind regards,
Im Changkyun
Personal Assistant to the CEO
Son Enterprises
Tel: 02-4657-8933

To: changkyun.im@sonenterprises.co.kr

Dear Changkyun,

I’m doing good, thanks. Thank you for the email. I’ve received it well, along with the contract as an attachment.

As you may know, I major in some artsy fartsy stuff and have close to no idea about how law works, so I might need to suss it out. It’s probably a conflict of interest to seek help from Mr Son’s solicitor, but I may need the legal advice to make sure I’m doing this right.

Would you know of any good ways out of this? I obviously don’t have the money to pay for a solicitor, so there’s that. Would be great if you had any ideas.

Thank you.

Best regards,

Yoo Kihyun
Artsy Fartsy Uni Student
 

To: ukhyun1122@naver.com

Dear Mr Yoo,

Thank you for your response. I’m glad you’ve received the email.

I’ve spoken to Mr Son and he is happy to cover any costs you may incur in seeking legal advice. Should you require an upfront payment, please notify me of your bank details and I will arrange for a cheque immediately. Market rates will be discussed with Mr Son’s solicitor, so as to ensure that the upfront payment is sufficient for your consultation.

Mr Son wants to ensure that you don’t feel like you are on the losing end of the deal, and that you are equally as informed as he is on the terms of the contract. I hope this works out for you, and of course, you are free to consult any solicitor you like.

I will be sending you email reminders just to check up on your decision, and to find out when we can iron out the details and finalise the deal. Please let me know if you need more time, and I will be more than happy to notify Mr Son.

Thank you very much.

Kind regards,
Im Changkyun
Personal Assistant to the CEO
Son Enterprises
Tel: 02-4657-8933
 

To: changkyun.im@sonenterprises.co.kr

Dear Changkyun,

That’s nice, thanks! It’s very kind of you and Mr Son to offer that. I’ve attached a screenshot of my bank details in this email, so it’ll be great if you’d check it.

I’ll get to looking for a solicitor soon; I’m kind of slammed at work and uni these couple of days (midterms, amirite?) but please let Mr Son know he should probably chill out a little bit, and I’m still really interested in the arrangement, so don’t get too anxious about me saying no. I just need time to make sure I understand everything I’m signing up for. He can relax.

Mr Son told me that you are a very capable secretary and I can’t agree with him more. Thanks for the reminders -- knowing me I’ll probably really need them because there’s just so much going on. I’ll talk to you real soon. Please let me know if you’ve transferred the money through/sent a cheque, just so I can check it.

Thanks Changkyun :)

Best regards,
Yoo Kihyun

*****

Not so surprisingly, the difficulty in finding a solicitor to talk about a sugar daddy-baby agreement is not so much the act of finding an actual solicitor as much as it is having to explain that he’s a sugar baby who wants to make sure he’s not exploited by a daddy for being ignorant about the law.

He shares these thoughts with Minhyuk one night when Minhyuk has to force him to sit away from his desk because “you’ve been staring at those books for the past three hours trying to not fall asleep more than anything else” and Kihyun doesn’t deny the claim, just hums sleepily as Minhyuk stands there with his arms crossed.

“I don’t know about actual solicitors, but there’s this guy I know.” Minhyuk is running his long fingers through Kihyun’s hair, dark strands standing out against Minhyuk’s pale skin, and Kihyun almost falls asleep, if only the weight of sitting for his midterms in two days doesn’t squeeze every last bit of guilt and worry into him.

“Sounds dangerous,” Kihyun jokes, and Minhyuk laughs. Kihyun’s head is on Minhyuk’s shoulder, and they’re on the sofa, a rom com playing on the screen, but neither of them are watching it. Minhyuk’s hand shifts from Kihyun’s scalp to his shoulder and pulls him closer to himself.

“He’s a Third Year Law student. Pretty much the top of his cohort, I’ve heard. I’m not sure if he’s qualified qualified, but students like us often want a quick buck, and he really doesn’t look like one to judge.”

“Where do you know him from?”

Minhyuk laughs when he says the next bit, part embarrassment. “It was this stupid Meme Club thing that they had in uni.”

Kihyun sits up, but Minhyuk’s hand is still on his shoulder, comforting and warm. He’s not sure if he heard it correctly. “There’s a Meme Club in uni?”

It’s not like he had much time to give a hoot about clubs and societies, but memes? That sounds pretty out-of-the-world. Minhyuk guffaws, like he thinks about how ridiculous the nature of the community is, even for him, but he just shrugs.

“Yeah.”

“Wait, you’re in the Meme Club?”

Minhyuk rolls his eyes, the hand on Kihyun’s shoulder shifts and he puts out his middle finger. “I heard you screech the phrase ‘Meme Club’ the first time; you don’t have to do it again.”

Kihyun splutters, but then he cracks up, and in minutes he’s reduced to a laughing mess on the sofa, tears collecting at the insides of his eyes. “It’s just so damn ridiculous, Min. What the hell do you even do at a Meme Club?”

Minhyuk responses blankly. “Talk about memes. And send them to each other.”

Kihyun suddenly remembers a phase in life where there had been a sudden influx of obscure memes and gifs from Minhyuk, and he suddenly considers that that may have been his meme baptism. He laughs, and more tears form, Minhyuk just looking from afar, disgust in his eyes, but his cheeks are pink and Kihyun thinks he’s so adorable.

Really, Minhyuk seems like the only guy he knows who would join such a dumbass club. “And what’s the best student in the Law cohort doing there? Lost a dare or got coerced or something?”

Kihyun doubles over in laughter when Minhyuk tells him that he’s the President of the damn Meme Club, and all his troubles about his academics dissipate in the few moments of Minhyuk slapping him on the arm, warning him to ‘shut up’, and the idea of the Number One Law Student in his university herding a bunch of meme-obsessed university students.

*****

Chae Hyungwon is the name of #1 Law Student in the Cohort-cum-President of the university’s Meme Club. After that session of incessant laughter and Minhyuk feeling betrayed and ridiculed, Kihyun agrees that it might be nice to get the law student to help him out.

He’s aware that solicitors aren’t allowed to divulge their clients’ information anyway, but the idea of heading into a large office, call a receptionist to make an appointment to see a solicitor about a sugar daddy-baby contract is just kind of fricking bizarre.

Kihyun thinks he’s been fully weirded out by a lot of things lately, and if there’s anything he’d prefer, it’s to not have to deal with more of it.

Kihyun doesn’t want to grow up, not just yet, and he’s been putting off feeling like an adult for as long as he can. Heck, he doesn’t even see the doctor when he’s sick, because it means he’ll have to call to make an appointment (plus consultations are expensive), and he’d rather cough his lungs out. He’s aware that Chae Hyungwon doesn’t practise law (yet), and he probably isn’t The Most Qualified Person out there, but a few text exchanges assures Kihyun that Hyungwon knows what he’s doing, and if he really needs to, he can go ask a hyung he knows who is a fully qualified contract lawyer to look it through.

But Chae Hyungwon is the top of the law cohort in the best university in the country. Kihyun thinks he’ll survive. And he supposes if there’s anyone in this world who’s allowed to judge him, Chae Hyungwon, President of the Meme Club, should be the very last one.

Hyungwon exudes a confidence not unlike Hyunwoo’s, but his confidence shines the brightest in the absolute conviction of his interests and abilities. When Kihyun half-jokes about his involvement in the Meme Club, there is no hint of shame or embarrassment in his expression, and Kihyun is envious of that. He envies Hyungwon and his ability to take pride in the things he does, while Kihyun is still struggling to come to terms with his mediocrity in acting, even though it’s one of his two majors, but the lousier one.

The boy is handsome, to say the least, and Kihyun’s opinion on his looks is shared by several girls hidden in a corner behind the lockers, giggling as Hyungwon walks over to Kihyun and Minhyuk.

“I think you’ve got company,” Minhyuk says casually, gesturing to the group of girls with the tip of his chin. Hyungwon turns around to find out what Minhyuk’s talking about, and the girls squeal when he whips his head to look at them.

He turns back, and deadpans. “That’s funny, because I’m gay.” Without a single skip in his beat, he continues, “now, who’s buying me coffee while I read this contract of yours?”

Kihyun is not lying when he says he’s envious of the way Hyungwon has absolute faith in everything he does and is. It’s beautiful.

*****

Law students must be trained to have the eye of a hawk, because they’ve just been seated down for ten seconds, a bit of shuffling on Kihyun and Minhyuk’s part to decide who gets to sit next to Hyungwon (Minhyuk says Kihyun because ‘it’s not even my damn contract’, but Kihyun says Minhyuk because ‘he’s the president of your damn club’) -- Kihyun sits next to Hyungwon -- when the law student looks in Kihyun’s direction.

“You’re nervous about something.”

Kihyun is chewing on his straw a little too much, and he smiles tiredly in return, not sure what to answer. He’s part intimidated by Hyungwon’s confidence (he had assumed him a bit of a dork because you know, Meme Club President and whatnot), part afraid of his judgement, part anxious about the whole thing. He doesn’t know how to broach it, so he just shrugs, and shoves the contract Hyungwon’s way.

The boy picks it up without waiting for an explanation, and his serene expression stays the same, stoicism hardening his features, and he doesn’t seem to even twitch.

“Hmm.” Hyungwon says finally after skimming through four whole pages filled with clauses, and then he looks up briefly from the text and at Kihyun, who’s wondering if his hot cheeks are now flushed red or pink.

“It sounds like a very good deal. I’m not a businessman, but this. This sounds like this Hyunwoo guy is very relenting and really wants you to sign it. He’s being really flexible with terms, most of them, if not all, are pretty much saying ‘do whatever Kihyun wants’. No rules about some things that should be rules, as well.”

Kihyun chuckles. “He’s expressed how eager he is on several occasions, yes.”

And Hyungwon presses his lips together in approval, before he huddles with Kihyun and points at the clauses that talk about the amount of money Hyunwoo pays and how often he pays it, what happens when Kihyun chooses to terminate the contract, how he has to sign a non-disclosure agreement, Kihyun’s working hours and obligations, his job scope (that does not include sex).

Hyunwoo’s alleged ‘overbearing’ behaviour makes an appearance in a clause that says that Hyunwoo will do most of the decision-making, but Kihyun’s wishes will come first, and that his intentions will be respected the minute he voices his disagreement. 

Hyungwon is very good at his job, Kihyun realises, as he summarises passages and passages of legal terms into simple sentences of layman Korean, and Kihyun nods when he thinks it’s okay, lets Hyungwon highlight portions when he frowns at the explanation, mostly with the details: Kihyun does not want to stay in Hyunwoo’s house; he has his own apartment and prefers the freedom, plus Minhyuk.

Little things. He’s sure Hyunwoo doesn’t mind leaving his guest room empty.

Other things such as having to lay down rules, about how Hyunwoo is okay with Kihyun having other sugar daddies as long as he makes the time for him. Kihyun doesn’t want that, wants something in black and white to show his sincerity, somehow, because Hyunwoo’s contract has been nothing but kind and maybe a little too advantageous for him. He feels bad, so he wants Hyungwon to help add that he’s not allowed to have other sugar daddies.

He doesn’t think he wants to, anyway, but not wanting to is so starkly different from not being able to, and Kihyun likes to hope that the latter might satiate the bossy nature in Hyunwoo.

He even asks to reduce the amount Hyunwoo’s paying him, because a clause states that Hyunwoo is responsible for paying all of Kihyun’s basic amenities, such as food, clothes, textbooks, household goods -- all calculated and paid into his bank account -- and on top of that, Hyunwoo will bring Kihyun shopping at least once a fortnight -- to buy him fancy things that aren’t his amenities -- plus an allowance -- for him to save up or send money to his parents, or to splurge on alcohol or anything, really, whichever he prefers -- and pay for his tuition.

It’s an overwhelming amount of money he’ll be receiving on top of his tuition being paid for, and Kihyun remembers how he’d stared at the numbers so hard when he first got the contract that his eyes almost fell out of their sockets. It was ridiculous; a week of what Hyunwoo’s paying him is probably a month at McDonald’s with crazy overtime, double pay and all that stuff.

Hyungwon nods, amicable, doesn’t mention anything about the whole arrangement, impassive about the contents of the contract, picking on the clauses and specific words, never about how Kihyun is selling love and affection and possibly his ass for money. It’s not his place to judge, Hyungwon says after that, weeks and weeks after they’ve met for the first time.

They blaze through three whole Iced Americanos, Kihyun’s head spinning from the details, and he lets out a soft sigh of relief at the end of all of it, Hyungwon’s shoulders visibly less tense. Minhyuk looks up from his laptop -- he’s been leeching off the cafe’s wi-fi watching videos now that midterms are over -- and he smiles, a small bright one that makes Kihyun reflect it.

“You guys look rough,” he says, picking up his Iced Latte and rolls the straw between his lips, before taking a sip.

Kihyun shrugs, only directing his gaze to Hyungwon, who looks a little pale, slumped against the armchair as he sips on his coffee quietly. “Thank you,” Kihyun says, not sure if Hyungwon’s going to start asking questions, but he fortunately just smiles lightly, returning to his drink without saying anything. They stay like that, in silence, for two more minutes as Kihyun leaves through the pages marked in yellow highlighter.

Hyungwon sits back upright, puts down his cup. “Thank you. Now I can ask for fewer hours as a coffee boy at the law firm thanks to your generous job offer.”

Minhyuk looks at the exchange with curious eyes, and Kihyun’s eyes drop to his thighs, and he nods shyly. “No, it’s okay. Thanks for… this.”

Hyungwon shrugs. “Hey, I do this for uni every day anyway. Might as well earn some cash doing it, right?” He folds his fingers together and folds his legs in, sits in the armchair that’s way too small for his lanky figure, and Kihyun doesn’t know what to say, so Hyungwon takes the conversation into his own hands.

“This…” he flips to the end of the contract, reading the name beneath the signature line beside ‘The Daddy’, “Son Hyunwoo guy. He nice?”

Kihyun looks up, an unreadable expression on Hyungwon’s face. He thinks it through, doesn’t really know where this is going, wonders what’s it to Hyungwon. “Yeah, he’s nice. Very sweet.”

“He seems very desperate. He old and wrinkly?”

Kihyun guffaws, Minhyuk sharing the joke as he throws his head back, his whole body shaking as he laughs. He almost runs out of breath as Hyungwon just observes the two boys laughing maniacally, silent, a hint of a smile tugging on the ends of his lips, because even though he doesn’t get the joke, Minhyuk and Kihyun are both very attractive boys, and their laughter brightens up the entire atmosphere almost immediately.

Minhyuk recovers from the joke sooner than Kihyun does, so he clicks a few buttons on his laptop and turns the screen around so Hyungwon can crane his neck as he looks at the image results of the Google Search for ‘Son Hyunwoo’.

Hyungwon lets out a low whistle and Kihyun blushes a bright pink, because he’s just kissed this same man two weeks ago, on the lips, this man that is objectively way too handsome to be offering so much money to hire Kihyun as a sugar baby.

“This one’s hot.”

Minhyuk grins. “That’s what I said.”

Hyungwon smiles, and directs his gaze to Kihyun, who is hiding his face behind his sweater paws, and Hyungwon thinks he’s adorable.

“Well, I’m glad he’s nice. And hot,” Hyungwon says, and that’s the end of his questions about the arrangement, no comments or opinions about how Kihyun is ‘taking the romance out of relationships’, or how he’s ‘just a classy hooker’, or maybe that he ‘lacks in morals’. Hyungwon says none of that, and Kihyun is thankful for his silence.

“Anyway, if you don’t mind scanning a copy of this to me, plus the original document, and send it to my email, plus ask for a contact for his solicitor, I’ll take it from here. You don’t need to worry about sending it here and there, just let me deal with it, and I’ll give you the final copy so that you can sign it. All good?” Hyungwon asks, his eyes glimmering with an enthusiasm so bright it hurts, and Kihyun nods dumbly.

“Thanks again, Hyungwon.”

The tall boy smiles, a mild one, because it seems he’s incapable of anything in between deafening guffaws and a poker face, no toothy beams like Minhyuk, no wide grins like Kihyun. “See you around.”

His hand lingers on Kihyun’s shoulder as he leaves, the ring of bells at the door of the cafe signalling his exit, and Minhyuk straightens up from his slouch against the armchair, placing his laptop on the table. “He’s cool, huh?”

Kihyun smiles. “Yeah, he is.”

That night, Kihyun finds a bit of inspiration for his song composition assignment, the song about his hopes and dreams and his passion for singing, and he remembers his inspiration was revived in Hyungwon’s pride -- in being a to-be-lawyer, in being the meme club president, in being the first in the cohort, in being gay.

Hyungwon is without shame in all his identities, and Kihyun finds a bit of courage in him.

*****

Kihyun meets Im Changkyun for the first time, at Son Enterprises. He would be happy to just send an email with the signed contract over, but he’s just started to lay off the intense shifts at the store and it would be nice to finally meet the man who’s been nothing but helpful over the past few weeks, sorting out the administrative stuff and making it all look like a breeze.

The building is tall and hovers over Kihyun like a tower, and he feels smaller than he already is, warm and snuggled in his oversized jumper, wondering if it’s okay to turn up at an office environment without wearing a suit -- heck, he doesn’t even own one, so there’s no point considering even wearing one.

He steps into the place and realises that it’s even bigger inside than it looks on the outside. He hasn’t made a prior appointment with Changkyun or Hyunwoo, and he’s like a lost puppy, holding a box of doughnuts and being absolutely clueless.

“Can I help?” A security guard approaches him, the hesitant gleam in his eyes fading as his cheeks grow a slight pink.

“H-hi. I’m looking for someone who works here but I don’t really know where they are.”

The guard nods, gesturing for Kihyun to follow him, and the smaller boy does, breaking into a small jog as he hurries to match the long strides.

“Do you have a name?” They reach a guard post where there is a computer screen, a telephone, and a sign-in book. Several lanyards slotted in with cards with the word ‘VISITOR’ on them are strewn across the table messily.

Kihyun considers if he should say Hyunwoo’s name, but that’s bound to attract some suspicion -- the man is the owner of this whole building, security must be tight with him -- so he gulps and nods. “Im Changkyun. Secretary to the CEO?”

That attracts a hike of an eyebrow. “Mr. Im doesn’t normally take visitors. He’s on the twelfth floor, but --”

“I have his office number if you need me to dial him.”

The guard sucks in a deep breath and looks Kihyun from his face buried behind the collar of his jumper, to his feet, sneakers, none of the fancy leather shoes. “I’ll give him a ring. What’s your name?”

“Kihyun.”

He nods, and ducks into the post, picks up the phone and jabs a few buttons. “Hello, I’m looking for Mr. Im Changkyun, secretary to the CEO. Yes, I’ll hold, thank you.”

Kihyun is fidgeting, his fingers wrapping around the hook of the doughnut box, rocks himself back and forth on the balls of his feet, then his heels, then back again.

“Hello, Im Changkyun speaking.” There is a voice resounding over the earpiece, and Kihyun perks up. Changkyun has a very deep voice.

“Hi Mr. Im, I’m the guard from Ground Floor, I have a visitor here for you, his name is Ki --” He looks over to the black-haired boy with a questioning gaze, and Kihyun leans over to say his name loud enough for the receiver to catch.

“It’s Yoo Kihyun.”

“Oh. Oh!” Changkyun’s voice over the phone seems to brighten up as his pitch hikes on the second ‘oh’, and Kihyun thinks he’s managed to surprise the man.

“Please, send him up here as soon as you can.” There is a rummage on his end, and Kihyun suddenly wonders if his presence may have unsettled Changkyun, and if he’s more trouble than anything else.

“Definitely, Sir.”

“Thank you.”

The phone is placed back down and the guard cocks his head to the side, gesturing for the black-haired boy to come over and sign his name in a book.

Name: Yoo Kihyun
Visiting: Im Changkyun
Reason for Visiting: Contractual agreement/negotiation

Kihyun snickers because there is no negotiation; the contract is lying safely in his messenger bag with his signature on the line, but it sounds a little better than ‘passing him a signed contract’.

The guard peers over his shoulder and presses his lips together when he sees the last column. Kihyun is dressed in a jumper and jeans with sneakers that have holes in them. What possible contractual agreement could he have with the CEO’s secretary?

Kihyun doesn’t answer the question lingering in the air, thinks he might give the man the shock of his life if he realises that the other signature on the contract is for the name ‘Son Hyunwoo’. He takes the lanyard and mutters his thanks, before marching his way to the lifts, past the electronic gates and into the lift. He punches the button for 12, and hums a light tune on his way up.

It’s better than pacing in the narrow space of the lift, but he doesn’t really know what to expect.

What he expects is a man in a suit who’s probably as tall as Hyunwoo is, looking smart and intelligent. What he gets is a boy in a suit who’s probably as tall as he is, looking smart and intelligent.

Changkyun is a child, as Kihyun is made to recognise later, a tuft of brown hair on his head and he comes to greet Kihyun at the lift. “Mr. Yoo. Good afternoon.” His low voice reverberates, a few nosy staff members popping their heads up from their cubicles to see what VIP had the ability to get The Im Changkyun out of his seat to welcome them personally. It’s just puny Kihyun, black-haired boy with tattered Converse sneakers.

Changkyun bows, a 90-degree folder bow, and Kihyun returns it, still recovering from the shock. He had expected Changkyun to be older than this. Sure, he looked matured, but still not quite old enough.

“Ah, just Kihyun will do. Hello.”

The boy has round eyes, a tall nose, and when he smiles, there are dents on both sides of his cheeks. Kihyun returns the gesture and the doughnut box hangs on his index finger. “I brought sweets."

Changkyun laughs, sounding more like a bark, not unlike Hyunwoo’s, and Kihyun already feels closer to him, his demeanour friendly and inviting. “Thank you. You didn’t have to.” He takes the doughnut box over with both hands and peers into the transparent film on the top. Kihyun has good taste in doughnuts.

“No, I wanted to. You know, to thank you for your hard work.”

Changkyun grins, a small playful one that makes him look even younger than Kihyun thinks he could be, and the question falls from his lips sooner than he allows himself to think it through.

“How old are you?” Kihyun asks, then realises that he’s just voiced his thoughts, and his eyes widen. “Ah, sorry, I didn’t want to --”

Changkyun laughs, his shoulders shaking as he does, the doughnut box still dangling from his finger as he gestures for Kihyun to follow him into his office. “No, no, it’s okay. I get that a lot. I’m 22 this year.”

His office is a few metres away, a small path between several cubicles, nosy staff members that have now ducked their heads back behind the dividers and tried their best to focus on their work.

The door opens and Changkyun clears his throat towards the general staff floor before cocking his head to the side, inviting Kihyun in with a smile.

It's nice, has a bit of a rustic feel to it, his desk a dark shade of brown, wooden, the name ‘Im Changkyun’ on a silver plated tag in front. There are posters of bands on his wall, a stereo system behind his desk, a guitar, and a full row of CDs by the bookshelf against the wall on the left.

A sofa sits on the right of the room, a television on the wall and a few game consoles under the screen, a disarray of wires from PlayStations and Xboxes. Kihyun thinks he sees a DDR pad folded neatly beneath. The idea of Changkyun starting a dance battle in the middle of his office is hilarious.

He remembers how old Changkyun is, -- 22 -- and supposed that this is about right; this office looks like a 22-year-old’s. 22. Kihyun blinks, once, twice, thrice for good measure, and all he can say is “Wow.”

Changkyun just scratches the back of his neck as he chuckles lightly. “Yeah. I mean, I’m Hyunwoo hyung’s best friend’s cousin’s friend’s younger brother, so.”

Kihyun just looks at him blankly, and he mutters “what” and Changkyun chortles, thoroughly amused by Kihyun’s reaction. “It means I have connections that got me working for Hyunwoo hyung part-time during university, and then I moved into a full-time position in the company after I graduated, and I’ve been here for, I dunno, a year?”

“As Secretary to the CEO?” Kihyun tries to hold back a surprised screech, but his pitch is a lot higher than before, and Changkyun just shrugs.

“What can I say. I’m just really fricking good at organising stuff.”

Kihyun voices his agreement and doesn’t miss the shade of pink over Changkyun’s cheeks as he whispers his thanks. He realises Changkyun calls Hyunwoo ‘hyung’. They must be closer than he’d thought.

Changkyun puts the doughnut box on the table and leans against his desk, folding his fingers together. “Okay, to what do I have the honour of meeting you today? Not as a doughnut delivery man, I don’t think?”

Kihyun smiles, a small, shy one, and he shakes his head, feeling a little silly. They’ve been talking for the past few minutes and Kihyun hasn’t even broached the topic on his contract. It’s strange; he doesn’t seem to feel any of the embarrassment from the fact that Changkyun knows him as his Hyunwoo hyung’s sugar baby.

“I signed the agreement after all the amendments, so I decided to bring it to you. Personal touch, or something,” he rambles on a little, Changkyun’s eyes glimmering with anticipation, and he heaves as he pulls the messenger bag before him and unclasps it. He pulls out a document in a clear file and passes it to Changkyun.

The secretary flips through it quickly and confirms that Kihyun’s signature is sitting on the last page, before breathing a sigh of relief. “Thank you. So much. Hyunwoo hyung has been constantly breathing down my neck, trying to get me to find out how you’re going with your decision. He must think it’s socially acceptable to email you every five seconds with ‘hey, Kihyun, so you signed that thing yet?’ It’s ridiculous.”

Kihyun chuckles, because that sounds consistent with how desperate Hyunwoo has been, the occasional text message asking him if there are any major problems with the contract, and Kihyun having to answer: ‘no, not much, i’m just kind of busy lately, sorry!’

But he supposes Hyunwoo isn’t used to the lack of efficiency, and would prefer to get things sorted as soon as possible, and he nods lightly when Changkyun walks over to the coffee machine in his office (yes, he has his own coffee machine in his office) and offers Kihyun a cup.

“You’re the first sugar baby that he seems to be really keen about. I’ve never seen him so… frazzled. It’s like every other second he isn’t working he’s trying to see if you’ll really accept the proposal. It’s hilarious, if not for the fact that he puts more work on me when he’s frustrated.” Changkyun frowns, shrugging, as he passes the styrofoam cup to Kihyun, who takes it over and thanks him quietly.

Of course Hyunwoo has had other sugar babies before; it’ll be silly to think he would be a first-timer like Kihyun is, especially since he knows exactly what there is to do and how to do it. There’s a strange aftertaste lingering at the back of Kihyun’s tongue: both glad that Hyunwoo’s experienced enough to guide him through it, and a little upset that he’s not Hyunwoo’s first, like how Hyunwoo’s his first. Or maybe it’s just the coffee.

“Has he --”

Changkyun’s eyes are a little wider when they land on him, ready to answer his inquisitiveness. His face turns a light pink.

“Has he had many sugar babies before?”

Changkyun laughs, nods his head, as if he understands where this question is coming from. “Not as many as you’d think. I of course have no idea of the numbers before starting to work for him, but as far as I’m aware, there was only two after me.”

Kihyun almost chokes on his coffee. “After… you?”

Changkyun smiles. “Yeah. I was his baby during second year of uni, then I went with someone else. He was cool.”

The realisation rams into Kihyun face first and he has to physically take a few steps back to reel from the fact. That Im Changkyun, 22, Hyunwoo’s best friend’s cousin’s friend’s younger brother, now Hyunwoo’s really-good-at-his-job secretary, was in his position a few years ago, as Hyunwoo’s sugar baby.

He takes in a sharp inhale and if Changkyun could feel the atmosphere in the room changing, he doesn’t comment on it, just smiles consolingly in return.

There are no hidden secrets behind the wide smile Changkyun is giving him, and Kihyun suddenly realises why he doesn’t feel any of the embarrassment with Changkyun. It’s natural to him, the way he eases him into normativity, that he treats sugar daddy-baby contracts as commonplace. Silence ensues between the both of them, and Changkyun takes a gulp of his coffee, shrugging, not apologetic. Kihyun likes him.

Changkyun then proceeds to grin. “I’m getting a little jealous now, even. He never was this eager with me.”

It bugs him, the curiosity, swallowing him alive, so he clears his throat timidly, and Changkyun is guffawing. “You can just say what you want here, Kihyun. I’m not going to eat you up.”

“Was it not awkward, working for the man you used to get-paid-go-out with?”

He smiles, and his shoulders move up and down. “It should feel weird, right, I guess? But surprisingly, no, not really.” He rubs at his nape as he looks at Kihyun’s puzzled expression. “I mean, it definitely helped considering we ended on good terms and I didn’t work with Son Enterprises straight away after our arrangement. I only kind of got introduced to the job two years after we finished off things, so, I guess it was okay?”

There’s another moment of silence and the awkwardness seems to finally dawn upon Changkyun. “Is… is this weird?”

Kihyun looks up from his shoes, shoots himself out from his thoughts, and Changkyun is there, a little fearful of his reaction, a little uneasy, and he allows himself his most relaxed smile. “No, it’s not weird.”

And Changkyun breaks into an exulting grin, one that forces Kihyun to return it with the same intensity, the same brightness, and he decides he really likes the boy.

*****

Kihyun is sitting in Changkyun’s office as the young secretary speaks in hushed whispers over the phone, something about pushing back an appointment, about an urgent situation having arisen.

He tries his best not to eavesdrop, but he can’t help but feel like his uninvited presence may have brought upon more trouble than anything else to Changkyun and Hyunwoo. He plays with his fingers, folds them together only to pull them apart, reaching forward for the cup of coffee and sips on it slowly, willing time to pass quicker. Maybe he should have told Changkyun that he had an appointment and rejected his proposal to have him meet Hyunwoo.

The feeling of him having burdened Changkyun weighs down on his shoulders and he worries his lower lip between his teeth.

“Hey, Kihyun, sorry for the wait.” Changkyun is running his fingers through his brown hair, forehead all crumpled together, and Kihyun gets up from the sofa, shaking his head and hands. “No, no, I think I should go, if it’s going to inconvenience you --”

Changkyun waves a nonchalant arm in his general direction and grins. “Don’t be silly. I’ve managed to sort his schedule out and he won’t be missing out on anything. I just have to give him a buzz to tell him you’re here.”

Kihyun blinks, and walks over to Changkyun’s desk, which is currently a scatter of various documents and a calendar with small, neat handwriting all over. He sits himself on the chair in front of his desk, and smiles. Changkyun looks at him endearingly, and Kihyun wonders if he’s always been such an open book, because Changkyun lifts the handset off the telephone and presses on a button, passing the phone over to Kihyun.

“He’ll be glad to hear your voice,” Changkyun states simply, and Kihyun takes it with a soft thanks, before putting the headset to his ear, his heart thumping violently in his chest. He hadn’t had the chance to speak to Hyunwoo since their last meeting (because midterms, and his killer shifts at McDonald’s), and the knowledge that he’s going to see him again makes him jumpy in his seat.

“Hey, Changkyun, Lee told me that you’ve postponed the meeting with him to tomorrow? What’s up?” Hyunwoo’s voice is deep, a little scratchy over the static of the line, and Kihyun doesn’t know what to say now that he’s on the phone with him.

He manages an overly loud ‘Hi, Hyunwoo!’ to cover up his embarrassment and the fact that he’s at a complete loss. There is a moment of silence, and Kihyun feels his muscles tensing. It seems a little silly to be so nervous talking to him over the phone, but different people take surprises differently, and he didn’t know what to expect. (Minhyuk, for one, hates surprises. The last time he and Jooheon attempted a birthday surprise party for him, Minhyuk had ran out in tears.)

“Kihyun?” The voice is more curious than offended, and Kihyun will count his blessings when he’s given them. “What are you doing in Changkyun’s office?” There’s no hiding the amusement behind his voice now, and Kihyun can finally breathe.

“Hey. Um, I just signed the contract, so I just came over to pass it on.”

“Personally?”

Kihyun laughs, and Hyunwoo is acutely aware of how much he’s missed the boy, the brightness in his laughter, the way his eyes curve into crescents when he smiles, the softness of his skin, the warmth of his lips. “I also brought doughnuts. Do you want any? You can come over and have some.”

Hyunwoo chuckles, as if the reason for the walk to Changkyun’s office was doughnuts, but he appreciates the offer, and hangs up, promising to appear in a few minutes.

A quick spray of cologne and making sure that his expression doesn’t show proof of his complete stress-out at work a few hours ago, Hyunwoo throws on his suit jacket and walks to Changkyun’s office, ignoring the glances towards him. He’s always known his subordinates to be busybodies, and it is indeed unusual for him to knock off this early, but a quick glare in their direction has them ducking back to their desks.

He grins, and knocks on Changkyun’s office door, oblivious to the soft mutters behind his back.

There he is, the boy he’s not seen for a couple of weeks now, in the chair in front of Changkyun’s desk, wearing an oversized jumper that seems to swallow him whole, looking lovely, and nervous, for some strange reason.

He whips his head behind to look at him, and Hyunwoo is once again reminded of how beautiful Kihyun is, his smile radiating warmth, his cheeks soft and pink as he beams at Hyunwoo, all the pressure from work a couple of hours ago dissipating almost immediately in his presence. Changkyun seems to note that too as he snickers under his breath, rolling his eyes when Hyunwoo stares at him fiercely.

“Hi,” Kihyun says, his voice breathy, and he walks over to Hyunwoo, who smiles in return, and says hi back, his hand reaching out to grab at Kihyun, the younger boy offering his hands immediately. “How have you been?” Hyunwoo asks, pulling Kihyun in, and the black-haired boy is in his arms in a split second, and he hugs him, his hand moving to cup the back of his head, warm breath against his ear.

He feels Kihyun shudder, and then there are a pair of warm lips on his cheek, close to his left ear, and Kihyun presses lightly, a soft peck. “I’ve been good. Tired. Are you okay?”

“Mmm,” is Hyunwoo’s only response, and he thinks it’s okay to kiss Kihyun on his cheek -- it should be acceptable even in friendliness -- and the boy doesn’t shirk away from it, just smiles and leans closer into Hyunwoo’s touch, letting out a calm exhale.

They part reluctantly, and Hyunwoo sees himself in Kihyun’s glistening eyes, his skin still warm and cheeks still pink, and he’s stunning. Hyunwoo’s breath catches in his throat.

“Hyung, Kihyun brought the contract here today. Do you need to run it by --”

“No, I’ll sign it now. Bring it over.”

Changkyun walks over with the piece of paper Kihyun had delivered all the way to the office, and he flips through it almost nonchalantly, his eyes scanning the words quickly. He’s been updated of the changes Kihyun had wanted, so none of it comes as a surprise. It’s mostly just the details and some wording differences, and Kihyun’s nominated solicitor, Hyungwon, has done a very good and delicate job of it all.

He nods, and signs his name beside Kihyun’s, and Changkyun takes it, letting the both of them know that there’s a cooling off period stipulated in the contract anyway, so if there was to be any problems, their solicitors would be able to sort it out. Kihyun and Hyunwoo both nod, and turn to look at each other, like they’re sharing a secret that belongs only to the both of them, and Kihyun grins.

It’s small, playful, and Hyunwoo laughs at how adorable he is.

“I’m glad I got to see you today,” Hyunwoo comments lightly, directing Kihyun to the sofa again, and Changkyun is typing away furiously at his keyboard, not sure whether or not on purpose, but Kihyun is thankful that he’s at least acting busy.

Kihyun smiles. “So am I. I was afraid I was troubling you and Changkyun by coming here uninvited. I hope I wasn’t too much of a bother.”

Hyunwoo chortles. “You’re never too much of a bother. I could say the same about myself, asking you about the contract over and over again.”

“I can second that.” Changkyun pipes up from the corner, and Hyunwoo looks for something to throw at him with. Kihyun laughs when Changkyun sticks out his tongue mischievously, finding their relationship comfortable and amicable.

“Oh, hyung, by the way, I’ve cleared your schedule for the rest of the evening. If you guys want to go out for a little shopping, or dinner, that’s all good.” Changkyun puts up an ‘okay’ sign with his fingers, and winks a little at Kihyun, who just guffaws at how cheeky the younger boy is, before looking at Hyunwoo expectantly.

Hyunwoo breaks into a gorgeous smile that takes Kihyun’s breath away, and he nods, his eyes seeking approval. “You don’t have anything on tonight, do you?”

He shakes his head. “No, not really. I promised Jooheon I’ll watch the new episode of that drama with him though, so I don’t want to be back too late.”

Hyunwoo grins. “Gotcha,” he says, before offering an arm to Kihyun, the black-haired boy taking it graciously, and he looks down at his shoes again, his ears reddening, and Hyunwoo can’t help but think he’s cute.

Chapter Text

Hyunwoo’s gaze is smouldering when Kihyun looks up at him. They’re in Hyunwoo’s office, which is about three times larger than Changkyun’s (not that there’s really a need for that much room, because all he has is a very large desk, a very large bookshelf, a very large sofa, an enormous coffee table, and a humongous TV screen. It’s mostly just space.)

The contents of his room seem to be fitting of the CEO’s office, decent, formal, no DDR pad. Kihyun points it out, how it’s just vast space spanning so many square metres, and Hyunwoo laughs.

He shrugs and shakes off his blazer, aware that prying eyes are directed towards his office, and he strides to the windows, pulling the screen down, the owners of a few curious gazes shuffling back to their work quickly.

Kihyun laughs, because he thinks he had caught Changkyun’s doe eyes beside a pair of large brown ones, and thinks to himself about how adorable the young secretary is.

“Don’t mind them,” Hyunwoo says, waving a nonchalant arm in the general direction of his staff, and despite the tone of annoyance, Kihyun can tell that he cares for them, the same way he had expressed his affection during their text exchange. “And with regards to the lack of stuff lying around; it’s just because I moved offices recently.”

“To a larger one?” Kihyun questions, and Hyunwoo grimaces when he hits bullseye, the accusations of his larger-than-necessary office attacking him where it hurts.

The younger man chuckles when Hyunwoo feigns ignorance, and he thinks he looks cute, a grown man, a good head taller than him, looking like a child because of Kihyun’s silly little teases.

So Kihyun strides towards him and Hyunwoo is slightly surprised at the sudden proximity, but relaxes into himself when he smells the hint of mint and cologne on Kihyun. His presence is comforting, and Hyunwoo wants to hug him, engulf him whole in his warmth, feel the tickle of his hair against his chin.

But he’s so afraid; Kihyun looks almost fragile, his skin clear and smooth, blue-green veins thrumming softly under translucent skin, his whole being about half the size of Hyunwoo’s, his pretty almond eyes looking up at him, always hiding a tiny sparkle.

Kihyun seems to sense his apprehensiveness and offers a smile as he steps forward to wrap his arms around Hyunwoo’s waist. The older man tenses up, before he lets out a long sigh, resting his cheek on Kihyun’s scalp as he holds him tightly, encircling his shoulders.

“You can relax around me,” Kihyun says, after what seems like an eternity of silence, not that Hyunwoo’s complaining, and he shifts in Hyunwoo’s embrace. “I’m not going to break. It’ll be fine. Just do what you want to do, okay?”

Hyunwoo hums, doesn’t know what to say. He swallows. Has he always been so easy to read? Maybe Kihyun’s just highly intuitive.

“I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.” He fidgets, Kihyun immovable. “You know, overstep your boundaries, do things without your permission?” Hyunwoo asks, feeling so unlike himself, so different from his usual bossy self, the kind of man who enjoys ordering people around to feel on top of things.

Kihyun guffaws. “And I thought you said you were overbearing?” he jokes, and Hyunwoo laughs, his body shaking along with Kihyun’s. Then he pauses, and Kihyun freezes with him.

“Yeah. But you’re new to this thing, and I know you said you were alright with it, but you know, what if you don’t actually like it as much, and I just really don’t want to go too quick, because --”

Kihyun frowns, and places his index finger on Hyunwoo’s lips, his own protruding in a tiny pout, then he shushes him like he would with a wailing infant.

“I’ll tell you if it’s too much. I just agreed to and signed a contract with a clause that tells me how domineering you are. I think we’re fine. Just relax, please.”

Hyunwoo rolls his eyes at his lexical choice. “I’m bossy, not a tyrant.”

Kihyun hikes up a brow. “Well, from what you look like now, you’re more like a mini mouse.” Hyunwoo glares, zero hostility, but Kihyun is having way too much fun.

“Squeak, squeak,” his voice hikes in pitch and his eyes turn into a fine line. Hyunwoo’s eyes widen for a second before he breaks into throes of laughter. Kihyun shrugs at his own brand of humour, Hyunwoo just thoroughly amused.

“You’re so weird,” Hyunwoo says, his tone affectionate, before ruffling Kihyun’s hair, the younger man chuckling as he nuzzles his nose in the crook of Hyunwoo’s neck, the strong whiff of musk making him heady. He likes it.

“Do you mind sitting around for a bit? I don’t have any more appointments but I do have this email to send.”

“Mmm.” Kihyun murmurs, but displays no intention to move away from Hyunwoo, and the older man has to physically extricate himself from his clinging hold, laughing as he does.

“You’re such a child,” Hyunwoo comments, and Kihyun presses his lips together, coupling it with an unimpressed glare. “We’re only six years apart.”

Hyunwoo bops him on the nose with the tip of his index finger. “Six years is a very long time.”

A warm sensation makes its way through all of Kihyun’s body at Hyunwoo’s tiny action, and his cheeks turn a slight pink.

“Whatever.” He lets out a huff and marches towards the sofa, Hyunwoo slightly taken aback at his mock tantrum, before his expression evens out and he laughs, shaking his head.

Kihyun is going to be the death of him, and it’s only their first date after coming to a definition for their relationship.

*****

Kihyun runs his fingers along a long pane of wood by the window, peering outside the office to find himself overlooking the busy streets. Son Enterprises owns the whole building in the city centre, a skyscraper built up to 20 storeys, but 12 is sufficiently high enough to see people jostling each other in the crowd, a few schoolgirls giggling as they walk towards the shopping district, businessmen with young, beautiful girls by their arm.

He people-watches for a while, perched on the side as he takes in the sight of tall, lofty, buildings decorating the streets, and he sighs.

He likes Seoul. The bumbling buzz of the city that never sleeps eases him, and he focusses on the honks of car horns, the underlying zaps of energy in the air even though he should be experiencing the lethargic drag of a Tuesday, dreary drift of a long afternoon. It settles him.

It’s bustling with noise, with people, with lights, things he had only wished for in his old suburban home, living with his parents who undoubtedly love him, but like any other parents, felt like they owned a part of him, just because they had given birth to him, and raised him to be what they would call an adult.

Being tied down wasn’t one of Kihyun’s strong suits. He supposes it’s the reason why he didn’t find any glaring points when listing out the cons of having a sugar daddy.

It wasn’t that he didn’t believe in romance. It just felt suffocating to have to answer everything to anyone, to feel pressurised to come clean if only he was asked. If his parents ever brought up his sexuality, Kihyun didn’t think he would be able to squirm and refuse to answer them, nor would he have been able to lie.

Relationships were tiring. Kihyun knew that, and he was thankful for his arrangement with Hyunwoo. The older man obviously gave concessions where Kihyun would need them, relenting and generous with his offer, and Kihyun liked that. He liked that Hyunwoo would never be that petty, jealous character of a boyfriend who thinks he has some right over him. Not unless it was for fun, of course.

He turns around to look at Hyunwoo, who’s worrying his lower lip between his teeth as his eyebrows are knitted together in concentration, eyes trained on his computer screen, fingers hovering over his keyboard.

Kihyun takes his whole appearance in again, a tall, handsome man, a sharp, solid jaw, his disposition calm and gentle, a well-natured man who seems to have too much affection to share.

Hyunwoo was truly too good a catch; the myth about the handsome second-gen chaebol seems to have materialised into real life, Hyunwoo being its finest example.

“You’re staring.” Hyunwoo looks up from his keyboard, and Kihyun quirks his lips up mischievously, a light sheen of pink dusted across his cheeks, the sun setting slowly behind him.

Hyunwoo thinks he looks beautiful.

It wasn’t that any of his previous sugar babies were anything less than beautiful, but Kihyun brought with him a little something; maybe it was in the way he spoke with a lisp, or how his voice softens whenever he curls next to Hyunwoo -- it makes Hyunwoo want to protect him.

Maybe it was how he wasn’t a spoilt brat, and while Hyunwoo had been happy to bring his previous babies out for shopping sprees, revel in the happiness lighting up their eyes when they picked out expensive goods, Kihyun had been different.

*****

“Shopping once a fortnight? What in the world would you buy?” Kihyun had screeched into the phone when Hyunwoo had caught him during his break at work.

Hyunwoo chuckles, sandwiching his phone between his ear and shoulder, and he feels the knots in his back relaxing. He hadn’t been able to see Kihyun after their first meeting -- it had been impossible to make their schedules work, and Hyunwoo had this major project that required his absolute scrutiny, using up close to every waking minute of his life.

Kihyun’s voice is a mix of disbelief and astonishment, and Hyunwoo shrugs, despite knowing that Kihyun cannot see him.

“I don’t know, anything you want. New shoes, new bag, new clothes. You name it, I buy it.”

Kihyun has to hold his laughter back, and Hyunwoo thinks he hears a snort. “That sounds really clichéd.”

Hyunwoo chuckles in response. “I like pampering my babies, making people feel good. It’s a thing, you might have seen it in neon lights on my profile, or in the definition of the term ‘sugar daddy’.”

Kihyun guffaws, and Hyunwoo hears a loud holler in the far background, and Kihyun screams back a ‘sorry!’ before returning to the call.

He snickers, a small part sneaky, many parts adorable, and Hyunwoo thinks he can afford to take a break, leaning into his office chair as he kicks his feet up and props them on the table.

“It’s so much,” Kihyun whispers, his voice tiny and soft, and Hyunwoo feels his heart lurching. He has this urge to see him, right now, but so does the executive board, and the scatter of paperwork in front of him keep him rooted for now.

“What do you want to do, then? If not shopping?” Hyunwoo asks, hears a whirring sound in the background, and Kihyun is talking to someone else about a soft serve machine.

“Hmm?” There’s a shuffle and Kihyun is talking under hushed tones with someone, and then his attention is back to Hyunwoo again. “I don’t know, stay in and watch a movie or something.”

Hyunwoo laughs. “That sounds boring.”

The reply comes instantaneously. “Do you not like boring? Sorry; I just thought it might be nice to chill out a little since you work so much, and --”

“No, no, that’s not what I meant. It’s just… it’s just a joke. I like boring. I’m a very boring person. We can stay in and watch movies, if that’s what you want.”

Kihyun is breathing shallow on the other end. “No, but what do you want?”

Hyunwoo frowns, lines hard on his face, and he struggles to find the words to explain. “It’s not -- I don’t need to always have the last say. I want you to enjoy yourself, and if watching a movie is what you want, it’s what we’ll do.”

He almost hears the hesitation in his voice. “But you like ordering people around,” he states blankly, and Hyunwoo has to remind himself that this whole process is routine for every new baby he contracts with, that they’re confused about the concept of authority, and while it’s endearing, it’s also frustrating to have to explain himself every time.

He’ll have to consider letting Changkyun draft something up so he won’t have to deal with all of these details again.

“Yes, but right now I want it to be about you. I’m planning to bring you out shopping, but if you don’t enjoy it, there’s no point, is there? I want you to like it.”

“Oh.” Kihyun’s voice is louder now, and there’s an itch in Hyunwoo’s gut. He wants to be able to see his cute little face and decipher what the ‘oh’ means. “I get it now.”

Thank God. At least Kihyun is not an airhead.

“I like shopping,” he says finally after a few seconds, and Hyunwoo can hear him shifting the phone near him. “But once a fortnight is a little frequent. Do you think once a month or once every two months is okay?”

Hyunwoo smiles. “Whatever floats your boat, Kihyun.”

“It doesn’t have to be strictly adhered to, does it? It’s not like if we said shopping was a monthly affair, we’d be breaching the contract if I chose to go every two months instead?” Kihyun sounds afraid, and Hyunwoo chuckles.

“If you mean you may occasionally prefer to have less frequent shopping sprees, I’m sure my wallet isn’t complaining.”

Kihyun laughs, and Hyunwoo can only imagine the way the dimples near his eyes dent in and there’s no other moment than right now that he’d want to see Kihyun so desperately. “I’m sure your wallet has never complained even once in its whole existence.”

Hyunwoo snorts, but doesn’t deny the claim.

*****

They’re walking to the lift, Hyunwoo nodding his head just briefly at the greetings from his subordinates, and Kihyun slouches further into his sweater, his face red and he ducks out of sight.

Hyunwoo laughs. He supposes it’s only natural for Kihyun to feel so out of place in his office, and when they’re in the lift, and Kihyun’s head is still hanging low. Hyunwoo reaches out to grab his hand.

Kihyun looks up at him with bright eyes, and Hyunwoo smiles. His heart thumping loudly, Hyunwoo closes the distance between them and wraps his arm around Kihyun’s shoulder.

The boy doesn’t know how to react, frame rigid beside him, until Hyunwoo presses his thumb into the small of his back, and a sigh leaves his lips as his tension unfurls.

Gentle circles over his skin. Kihyun relaxes into his touch and prays that no one enters the lift at this moment.

His wish comes true. The trip down is empty and silent, save for the rustling of Kihyun’s sweater against Hyunwoo’s thumb.They take a smooth ride into the basement, where the lift dings and comes to a stop. Hyunwoo fishes a set of car keys from his pocket as they exit, and Kihyun doesn’t have to look again for the flashy sports car in the relatively empty carpark.

Of course. Trust Hyunwoo to be anything but subtle with his riches.

He voices this, and Hyunwoo laughs, but doesn’t deny his preference for the ostentatious. He opens the passenger door for Kihyun, and the boy rolls his eyes before guffawing, Hyunwoo’s grin wide as Kihyun slides into his seat.

It’s comfortable, albeit a bit low, and Kihyun can barely see the road in front of him, not that Hyunwoo had any problem.

“Ready?” Hyunwoo asks, slightly breathless, and Kihyun thinks he feels the same, his heart staggering unsteadily beneath his ribcage. “Yeah,” he says, his eyes a rich brown, and Hyunwoo melts in them.

The smile he gets in return is eye-blinding, and Hyunwoo tries his best to resist, but he truly cannot. He’s waited for so long to see Kihyun, and the boy is now in front of him, shy, warm, and beautiful.

He cradles his face in his hands and the exhale from Kihyun is loud, deafening in the silence between them.

He remembers distinctly the same way Kihyun’s eyelashes fluttered indecisively over his eyebags, drifting into light sleep at Hyunwoo’s touch during their first meeting.

He wonders if it was then where he had began to grow so smitten of the boy, who seemed to agree to all his advances and relented into him so easily, so simply.

He was so malleable, easily moulded and shaped and met Hyunwoo halfway, never scared or wary, mostly just shy and curious.

There is a sigh, and Hyunwoo realises it’s coming from Kihyun. His eyes are still closed, but his lips are moving. Hyunwoo cannot peel his eyes away.

“We should probably get going. Unless you’re looking to kill us by driving single-handedly with my face in your other hand.”

Hyunwoo chuckles, and Kihyun opens his eyes only to face Hyunwoo’s wide smile. He reflects it. Hyunwoo is so handsome; Kihyun wonders if his lack of winning lottery tickets for all those years had come back as a shower of fortune in the form of Son Hyunwoo.

“That wouldn’t be such a bad way to die,” he teases, and Kihyun’s face turns pink. Hyunwoo laughs before stroking his cheeks with his thumb, and he lets go reluctantly, his gaze still lingering.

He faces the front with his best stoic expression, and Kihyun struggles a little to see the road before them.

Somewhere in the middle of the ride, Kihyun’s hand finds its way in Hyunwoo’s, fingers interlaced as their hands rest on his thigh.

The ride is somewhat silent, save for Hyunwoo asking about dinner, about school, uni, and his shifts at McDonald’s.

He scrunches up his nose when Kihyun mentions the fact that he’s still taking on more shifts than his other colleagues, but he’s starting to cut it down now that he’s signed the contract with Hyunwoo.

It worries him, Kihyun pale and hollow-cheeked, his fingers in between his, grip tightening when Hyunwoo jam brakes at a red light. He wants to take care of him, but he knows Kihyun doesn’t need it.

He’s known it since Day 1, but knowing that he doesn’t need it doesn’t stop the surge of protectiveness from welling up.

So he returns the tight grip and holds on to bits of Kihyun he hopes will stay, memorises the fleshiness of his hands, makes sure that it isn’t just skin and bones the next time he holds them.

*****

When Hyunwoo brought up shopping, he didn’t really think toilet paper was going to be one of those things. Apparently it is, because Kihyun is making him push a trolley while he’s standing before a whole rack of toilet paper, comparing prices carefully while deciding if it’s worth paying 2500 won more for 3-ply instead of 2.

Hyunwoo tries his best to not roll his eyes, but he’s famished, and Kihyun is weighing differences between paper they use to wipe their asses with.

“Are you done?” Hyunwoo drawls, and Kihyun turns around with a mild look of frustration that Hyunwoo would find hilarious if not for his growling stomach.

“This is important stuff, Hyunwoo.”

“Kihyun. I’m paying for your groceries from now on. I think it’s safe to say it’ll be alright for you to pick the 3-ply without batting an eyelid.”

Kihyun thinks about it for a few seconds, and he nods, agrees silently, and tugs at two large packs of 12 rolls of toilet paper, looking as they tumble into the trolley.

“Minhyuk’s and Jooheon’s and my ass thank you for your kind generosity,” the younger man jokes as he walks further down the aisle, looking absentmindedly at shampoos now, and Hyunwoo snorts.

The mention of ass, however, does force Hyunwoo’s line of sight to steer downwards, and he’s staring very hard at Kihyun’s butt, the pair of jeans doing well to wrap around his thighs and the easy curve of his ass, a prominent bump from his narrow hips.

Hyunwoo just looks, doesn’t really think, still pushing his trolley, until he hits the leg of a display rack, and Kihyun spins around to look at the source of the noise.

The older man doesn’t blush very well, but he does have the decency to look away in shame as Kihyun guffaws, gesturing for Hyunwoo to come closer.

He does, and Kihyun drops a bottle of shampoo into the trolley.

“Were you checking out my ass?” he questions, his pitch escalating on the last word, and Hyunwoo shrugs, like it’s nothing, like he didn’t just get caught being distracted because he was staring at his butt.

Kihyun chuckles, and Hyunwoo feigning nonchalance is kind of adorable, so he scurries to his side, and goes on his tippy toes, his lips next to his left ear, and he whispers, “you can touch it, you know. If you want to.”

He leaves a familiar peck on the skin next to his ear, one very much like the one he had left when they were in Changkyun’s office, and Hyunwoo feels his face turning hot. He still doesn’t blush though, although he is sufficiently embarrassed. Mostly at the fact that he really wants to take him up on his offer.

Kihyun is looking up at him expectantly, and the aisle is empty save for the both of them, so really, it’s too much of a golden opportunity to miss. Hyunwoo seems to understand that too, so he leans in closer, his eyes wider than usual, the skin between his brows creasing and his right eye twitches.

“Are you sure it’s okay?”

Kihyun laughs, and before Hyunwoo can say anything, he reaches out and tugs at Hyunwoo’s arm, placing the hand that was on the trolley handle onto his bottom, just right atop his well-fitting jeans.

The younger man’s back is facing Hyunwoo now, and his gaze is challenging, all in good fun, and his neck is craned sideways so he gets to look at Hyunwoo. He juts out his lower lip and tilts his chin upwards.

“Go on, give it a little squeeze.” The younger man shimmies, sways his hips a little, and Hyunwoo tries to not give away any possible signs of him being flustered. Kihyun is convinced businessmen like Hyunwoo go for classes to maintain their poker faces.

The older man does touch him, his fingers curling in, cupping the bottom of his ass, and he feels more than hears the sharp intake of breath from Kihyun. It’s soft but firm, and Hyunwoo spends his time just running his palm around the round globes, his thumb pushing in fleshy places, feeling the skin spring back.

Kihyun’s back is still facing Hyunwoo, and he’s not turning to look at Hyunwoo anymore, only the back of his head visible, and Hyunwoo can see his ears turning a bright red.

Hyunwoo squeezes, and Kihyun throws his head back a little, his jaw slackening slightly as he breathes, the sharpness of his side profile attacking Hyunwoo’s visage.

The older man takes a few steps closer to the boy, warm breath against his neck, and Kihyun shivers.

“You’re so pretty,” Hyunwoo comments before he can stop himself, and his sugar baby squirms under his touch, trying his best to regulate his oxygen intake. The compliment spreads through his whole body, to the ends of his toes, a tingling sensation through his nerves.

“Mmm.” Kihyun sighs in contentment, Hyunwoo placing gentle kisses at the base of his neck, the back of his ear, his hands still running over Kihyun’s ass greedily.

It’s suddenly dawned upon Kihyun that they’re in the middle of the toiletries section in a supermarket, and Hyunwoo is touching him inappropriately, kissing him in places that make zaps run all over his skin.

He shies away, just slightly, and the older man relents easily, his tender kisses making the hair on his neck stand on their ends. Kihyun almost doesn’t want to move away, but an elderly woman is walking closer to them, and he’s trying his best to not scandalise any passers-by on their first date.

Hyunwoo is a trickster, though, because before he pulls away completely he gives Kihyun’s ass a quick slap, the flesh bouncing back against his palm as the younger boy yelps, attracting the attention of the lady who’s regarding them with part judgement.

He bows apologetically to her, offering a kind smile in return, and she passes them with her cart full of actual edible groceries instead of just toilet paper and shampoo, short glances in their general direction.

Kihyun turns to look at Hyunwoo, who has a shit-eating grin on his face. Maybe he’s capable of more than just stoic expressions after all.

“Wow. You’re a dumbass,” Kihyun deadpans, and Hyunwoo presses his lips together, pushing down a smile.

“Okay, but you’ve a very pretty ass.”

Kihyun stares at the ground, his cheeks burning, his ears and neck red, and he’s praying for the ground to open up and swallow him whole. It doesn’t, and Hyunwoo laughs irritatingly loudly, but thankfully the judgemental lady has already left their aisle.

He moves forward to hold Kihyun, ruffling his black locks before wrapping his long arms around his small frame, chin on his scalp.

“You’re so cute. It’s impossible,” Hyunwoo says lightly, and Kihyun feels the praise rushing through him like the comfort of a warm shower, and he lifts his head up slowly, beaming at Hyunwoo with shining eyes.

“Am I really?” he asks, with a voice that’s reserved for when he wants a favour from Minhyuk, for when he’s fishing for more compliments, the praise like his own brand of addiction, and it sounds especially enticing when Hyunwoo says it, because he says it like he really means it, like he’s not just saying it to patronise him.

“Mmm,” Hyunwoo hums, nodding his head as he looks back into Kihyun’s eyes, kissing him on the tip of his nose. “The cutest person on Planet Earth.”

Kihyun giggles at the tickle, but he smiles wider, and throws his right arm over Hyunwoo’s shoulder, hooking behind his neck and pulling him down.

A fond, tiny kiss, no tongue, no fiery arousal, just a sweet, small one, and Hyunwoo smiles against his lips, pulling Kihyun closer. They hold it for a few seconds, and Kihyun backs away, and Hyunwoo has infatuation written in his eyes.

“As much as this is really adorable and all, I am fricking hungry, Kihyun, please.” Hyunwoo frowns, and he looks so much like a spoilt child, and Kihyun chuckles.

Another peck on his lips, because it’s so difficult to resist Hyunwoo acting younger than his age, or unbecoming of a CEO, and Kihyun nods. “Just a few more things.”

Hyunwoo’s hand rests on the small of the boy’s back, and it slides downwards a little as he pats his butt again softly, Kihyun swatting him on the arm.

They laugh, and Kihyun directs them to the food section against Hyunwoo’s protests.

*****

Kihyun is picking out the different cuts of beef, trying to remember the things they need at home, when Hyunwoo rushes back with two toothpicks, one half of a dumpling on each.

“Hey!” Hyunwoo cheers when he catches sight of Kihyun, and he rushes to him, the younger boy looking at him incredulously.

“Wow, frozen dumplings are amazing. These taste really good?” He offers one of them to Kihyun, the younger boy shaking his head, Hyunwoo gladly eating both of them.

“How have you not eaten frozen food before? We eat so much of this junk; Minhyuk and Jooheon literally beg me to cook some actual food.”

Hyunwoo’s eyes widen. “I have a chef. He makes dumplings from scratch, which taste great, but they’re not like this.”

Kihyun blinks. “That’s because this tastes like preservatives and MSG.”

Hyunwoo sniffs, eyeing hungrily at the lady who is preparing a different kind of frozen product, and Kihyun chuckles. “She must really like you. They’re not allowed to give you more than like, two samples.”

Hyunwoo grins, hiking his eyebrows, a smug look on his face. “What can I say? My targeted age group is ahjummas in the 50 to 60 age group.”

Kihyun guffaws, and promises to be quick, picking out different cuts of meat and thinking about the amount of time he has at home to even make them. Maybe if he finishes that essay today, he’ll prepare a lunchbox for Jooheon, since he has that project to work on tomorrow and won’t be home for dinner.

Hyunwoo returns to the lady in the distance, and somehow has managed to gorge himself with more samples, the ahjumma just looking at him fondly. A man in a suit and tie stuffing his face with fried cheese-filled fishcakes is such a sight.

Kihyun just shakes his head as he fills his trolley with food that isn’t instant. Now that he’s officially Hyunwoo’s sugar baby, he’s going to lay off the shifts and hopefully help salvage whatever’s left of Minhyuk and Jooheon’s health.

These days he barely has enough time to sleep, not to say cook for the boys, and the two who are barely capable of cooking instant ramyeon without setting the kitchen on fire, have grown extremely reliant on bags of chips, Chinese takeout, and frozen pizza.

Kihyun would chide them of their eating habits, but his mostly consists of Big Macs, and he really doesn’t want to have to fork out more money in case either of them actually end up burning the place down.

He thinks it’s enough now, how his trolley is overflowing with fresh produce, fruits, vegetables (actual green leafy ones, not the frozen kind in pea form sitting in their freezer) and fresh meat. He grabs pasta, and shrugs when he chooses pasta sauce in a jar. Some things can be instant, he thinks. Pasta sauce from scratch is too much effort, effort that Minhyuk and Jooheon do not deserve.

He calls out for Hyunwoo, who doesn’t hear him, too busy talking the ahjumma up as he gobbles down more samples, making loud chewing sounds that Kihyun can hear all the way from the other side.

“Hyunwoo.” Kihyun glances up at Hyunwoo, who jumps at his sudden presence. “Oh, hey. Say hi to Auntie Sun-hee.”

Kihyun blinks a few times to make sure he’s hearing him right, but bows out of politeness anyway. He didn’t know sample tasting could evolve into being on first name basis with a supermarket saleslady.

“I’m done. We can go now.”

He doesn’t want to believe it’s reluctance he sees in Hyunwoo’s eyes, but then there are bags of frozen dumplings and cheese-filled fishcake sliding into his trolley like an avalanche, and Kihyun does a double take.

“Wha --”

Hyunwoo munches on his food and smiles. “Those are all mine.” And he turns around to smile at the saleslady, who’s beaming at him, and they wave each other goodbye.

Kihyun just stares at Hyunwoo the whole time he pushes the trolley to the checkout, the cashier a little dumbfounded at the 16 packs of frozen food, wondering if she has double vision.

“Wow.” Kihyun finally says when they’ve loaded the bags into the trolley and Hyunwoo is pushing it into the carpark.

“You are truly the eighth wonder of the world.” Kihyun blurts out without thinking, but if the evening’s events are anything to go by, he knows Hyunwoo handles his sense of humour pretty well, and understands his every little poke as a silly joke.

Hyunwoo chortles. “I’m taking that as a compliment.”

They load the groceries into the boot and into the passenger seats, because while it’s a very fancy car, it’s surprisingly lacking in space and general functionality.

(Minhyuk later explains that it’s because it’s made to be for two people in the front; no millionaire’s going to look like a millionaire when he drives a fricking ‘dad-car’ to ‘pick up the kids’.) (Kihyun’s argument is that it’s just not a sensible purchase choice, and Minhyuk has to explain, again, that it’s for the aesthetics, the comfort, the engine, the ability to show-off, not how many bags of chips it can store.) (Kihyun does a rough estimate and tells Minhyuk that it’s not that many bags.)

They agree that with the sheer amount of frozen food Hyunwoo had bought, that it would be a good idea to drop off the groceries with his housekeepers, before heading to dinner, and then home.

It means that the car ride is long, and Hyunwoo feels comfortable, like a long-time friend, his warm presence and his willingness to laugh at all of Kihyun’s jokes and listen to his every rant makes him feel at ease.

Kihyun slumps back into the passenger seat after they’ve passed on all 16 packs of frozen goods to Hyunwoo’s housekeepers, the older housekeeper lady’s eyes widening as she clicks her tongue in disagreement, Hyunwoo just shrugging as they take them back without another word.

“She’s a bit like a mum. Fusses around me and makes sure I’m not dying in my study, or something like that.”

Kihyun perks up. “What about your real mum?”

Hyunwoo smiles, a tinge of sadness in his eyes. “Busy. Just with… I don’t know -- hanging out with her friends and stuff? I’m not too sure; my parents separated when I was a kid. I don’t see her much. Have never seen her much.”

Kihyun frowns, almost wants to reach out to hug Hyunwoo, but the older man just shakes himself out of his little bubble, and breaks into a relieved smile, like he had anticipated the pity, and rejected it vehemently.

Kihyun doesn’t blame him; sympathy does seem like the last thing he’d want to receive if he ever shared a story like that, too.

So he just squeezes his shoulder lightly, offers an encouraging smile, and Hyunwoo sighs. Kihyun is so sweet and beautiful. Why did he only meet him now?

Kihyun suggests a place for dinner, and tells Hyunwoo that he thinks he’ll really like it, the older man pursing his lips, slightly intrigued.

“Lead the way, good sir.” Hyunwoo gestures to the road in front of them as Kihyun just laughs, giving directions.

*****

It turns out ‘I think you’ll really like it’ means ‘holy crap this stuff is amazing I could eat this every day’, because Kihyun’s brought Hyunwoo to one of those night markets, food stalls and carts littering the streets. From honey pancake to cheese ddeokbokki, Hyunwoo is spoilt for choice.

The dumplings he’s ingested just less than an hour ago seem to have disappeared completely from his system, because Hyunwoo goes on a rampage, and consumes everything he sees.

Kihyun laughs when Hyunwoo stares at each dish in wonder, his look of amazement exaggerates when he puts it into his mouth, chews on it, and then swallows it quickly, only to go for another.

He has to physically stop him from pacing in front of one of the stalls, because the wait time for a grilled cheese lobster is 5 minutes, and to a lobster-hungry Hyunwoo, that is 5 minutes too long.

“I’m glad you enjoy peasant food,” Kihyun says lightly when they’re in a cafe waiting for their drinks, Hyunwoo patting his satiated tummy in bliss.

Hyunwoo clicks his tongue and smiles. “It’s been a very long time since I’ve had street food. It’s nice.”

Kihyun raises a brow. “I’m surprised you’ve had it before, considering you’ve never had frozen dumplings.”

Hyunwoo sneers, like Kihyun’s preconception of him eating only fancy food was anything but a compliment.

“I wasn’t allowed to eat preserved or frozen food because the kitchen could make them fresh. I just didn’t see the appeal, and I never went grocery shopping with any of my other sugar babies. Street food, however, was something I enjoyed in my teenage years. I’m a second-gen chaebol, not a snob. Or a prince.”

Kihyun’s eyes widen. “That was your first grocery shopping experience?”

Hyunwoo nods.

“Wow. That’s… cool. How do you like it?” Kihyun twiddles with his finger and Hyunwoo watches as he moves them deftly.

“Apparently supermarts turn me into a frozen food monster, so honestly? Not that great.”

Kihyun laughs, and the talk between them eases quietly into normalcy, and Kihyun finds that in several moments, he forgets Hyunwoo is his sugar daddy, and that there isn’t a bugging need to constantly satisfy him, please him, or to agree with every silly thing he says.

He feels like a confidante, one that is always supportive in his own silent ways, in the words he never speaks, in the subtle smiles he provides instead.

Kihyun slips his hand in Hyunwoo’s on their walk back to the car, the stars casting their brilliance on them both, a dazzling trail in the night.

*****

“Would you like to come in?” Kihyun asks at the door, grocery bags hanging by his wrist and hands, and Hyunwoo is still pulling more out of the boot.

“Eh?”

“Would you like to come in, have a drink, chat with Jooheon?” Hyunwoo looks slightly confused, and Kihyun picks it up immediately. “I mean, it’s okay if you’re not free, or if you’re uncomfortable with it. I was planning to --”

“I would love to.”

Hyunwoo’s grin is infectious, and Kihyun catches it with his face because his hands are full. Hyunwoo holds the rest of the bags and Kihyun leads them up two flights of stairs. The apartment is a little run-down, but good enough for poor uni students, Hyunwoo supposes.

“Ya, Lee Jooheon, open the door for me!” Kihyun hollers over the wooden door, and there is silence. Kihyun kicks the door with his foot, loud bangs resounding in the corridor.

“Ya, Lee Jooheon!”

A quick scurry of footsteps from within the apartment, and the door open, revealing a boy with slits for eyes -- not unlike Hyunwoo -- and dishevelled blonde hair on his head.

“Hyung, you have the keys, why are y --”

“My hands are full, you rascal, why else do you think I would get you to open the door?”

He thrusts the bags in one hand wholly to Jooheon, who struggles to balance them against his chest, and Hyunwoo thinks he almost drops the orange juice when their eyes meet.

“Woah. Hello.” Jooheon is visibly cautious with his own reaction, but that only means that he recognises him.

“Hi, Jooheon, right? Kihyun’s told me a lot about you.” They would shake hands, but Hyunwoo’s hands are a little preoccupied.

“Nothing nasty, I hope. Hyung can be a little mean sometimes.” He scowls, and he looks like a child, more so than Kihyun would ever look, and Hyunwoo is tempted to reach out to ruffle his blonde hair.

He shows them to the kitchen where Kihyun is busy stuffing goods into the fridge and cupboards, and pours Hyunwoo a glass of water, asking for Jooheon to set up the drama on the TV while he prepares drinks and popcorn.

Jooheon tilts his head to the living room and Hyunwoo follows, taking in the decor in their apartment. It’s special -- it looks like three mini-apartments have melded together to form one, a corner filled with snapbacks and energy drinks, a corner with a pile of game consoles and an expensive-looking desktop, a corner with organised shelves, little boxes filled with random gadgets and gizmos, beads and bobs.

It’s the one that lacks personality out of all three of them, but it’s neat and tidy and looks a little boring, and Hyunwoo takes a wild guess and chooses Kihyun.

Jooheon verifies his statement by gesturing to their general area. “It’s a bit messy, sorry. We all have very different interests and uh, this is it.” He does a quick detour from his original route to the living room, and moves to the area with the snapbacks.

“So these are mine. Valued possessions. All of them. Kind of awesome. I also have all these albums in vinyl.”

Hyunwoo smiles. “They look expensive.”

Jooheon winces. “Yeah, they’re not cheap. I’ve been yelled at way too many times by my parents for collecting stuff like that. But I mean, what do they know? I like it.”

Hyunwoo nods, the smile still lingering on his face. There’s this air of innocence in Jooheon that he finds refreshing, and he brings with him a youthful mirth untainted by cynicism and jadedness.

He’s lovely, Hyunwoo decides, as he introduces Minhyuk’s space to be the one messy with video games and game merchandise on his shelf and table. True to his prediction, Kihyun’s space is the most boring one, just books after books on music composition, on drama, acting, a few posters of plays and obscure bands, but nothing jumps out.

Maybe it’s because everything is so well-organised, not the chaotic mess of belongings strewn around carelessly. It doesn’t look like the desk of a uni student, that’s for sure.

Jooheon rubs at the back of his neck and smiles. “Kihyun hyung stress-tidies. It’s probably why his desk makes him look like the only guy who has his shit together, but I’ll warn you, the more tidy his place is, the less likely he’s got himself together.”

Hyunwoo chuckles. “Consider me warned, then.”

Jooheon introduces his vinyls briefly before they return to the living room, where a bowl of popcorn sits on the coffee table, and Kihyun still nowhere in sight.

“Can I -- can I call you Hyunwoo hyung?” Jooheon asks suddenly from his cross-legged seat in front of the TV. He’s holding the remote and opening up the options for dramas, most of them Hyunwoo hasn’t watched before.

Hyunwoo blinks. “Yeah. Sure.”

Jooheon lets out a sigh of relief and smiles, deep dimples forming in both sides of his cheeks. “Thanks… hyung. I knew you weren’t going to be difficult to get along with.”

Hyunwoo laughs. That’s a novel first impression.

“What makes you think so?”

Jooheon is flipping through the latest dramas, eyes on the screen. “Well. Kihyun hyung isn’t the easiest person to get through to. He can be a bit… wary. Defensive, I guess? He’s always putting his fences up.”

Hyunwoo sniffles, and Jooheon cheers as he finds the drama he’s looking for. He spins around to look at Hyunwoo, who’s still drinking from his glass of water.

“So for him to meet you once and decide, “oh yeah, okay, I guess I could hang out with this guy for good” is not easy. Heck, it took me half a semester at uni and my relentless clinging for him to warm up to me.”

Hyunwoo chuckles. “Maybe he’s just trying to be nice because I’m paying him.”

Jooheon purses his lips, deep in thought. “Eh. Maybe. But it’s Kihyun hyung we’re talking about here. If he finds you repulsive, it doesn’t matter if you pay him a bazillion dollars. But I can tell he likes your company. Whenever you call him during his break at work, he has this goofy ass grin on his face. It’s cute.”

Hyunwoo doesn’t realise the ends of his lips are pulling up subconsciously. Jooheon is shuffling, looking like he has something else to say. Hyunwoo tips his chin slightly, and the boy breaks into a grin, the glee not quite reaching his eyes.

“I just wanted to say thank you.” His voice is a whisper, and Hyunwoo frowns. Jooheon clicks onto the ‘OK’ button on the remote so the screen doesn’t go blank.

Kihyun is making a lot of noise in the kitchen, but Hyunwoo and Jooheon exchange gazes, and the space outside of their little bubble is just muted chaos.

“He’s been struggling. As much as he doesn’t like to admit it, it’s taking a toll on him. He’s starting to slack off from uni assignments and it’s not like he had stellar grades or anything, but he’s sleeping in lectures and tutorials, asking people for notes, doing a half-assed job of an essay while serving customers their cheeseburgers.”

Jooheon’s eyes are downcast and he’s staring at his socks. “I told him I wanted to watch an episode of the drama with him and I had to whine and beg, because he wanted to go and work another shift tonight. It’s just --”

Jooheon breathes, his exhale heavy in the air, and Hyunwoo doesn’t know what to say. He had known Jooheon (and Kihyun’s friend Minhyuk) cared for him, and Kihyun had a lot on his plate, but he hadn’t imagined it to warrant such a sombre speech.

“The last time he was cramming for his exams he took in too much caffeine and became all jittery and delirious and Minhyuk hyung and I had to send him to Emergency. He stresses out a lot, for good reason as well, but it’s not healthy.”

“I don’t know if I’ll get to convince him to quit McDonald’s entirely, but I’m glad you appeared?” Jooheon’s gaze lifts up to stare at Hyunwoo, who regards him with part sadness and affection. “You can pay for a lot of stuff so he doesn’t need to stretch himself thin. Plus, you’re good company. He likes you around. I’m sure you calm him down to a certain extent. This morning I saw his book on drama lying on his floor, beside a sweater, and I dragged Minhyuk hyung to come see.”

His eyes are wet, and Hyunwoo clears his throat. He’s never been good with people crying. “It’s just been so long since we saw a trace of untidiness, and we were just so happy, you know? I think you’re good for him, so thanks for sending that invitation message, I guess.”

Hyunwoo doesn’t resist it this time, and stretches out to ruffle his hair, fingers running through his blonde strands and Jooheon hugs his knees to his chest, a pout on his lips.

“I’ll look out for him. Don’t worry.”

Jooheon rubs at his eyes and scoffs as he mutters something about ‘thanking a sugar daddy’ under his breath, and Hyunwoo just laughs.

Kihyun walks in at this moment with his hands full of drinks and more snacks, and Hyunwoo scoots over for Kihyun to take the seat in the middle.

“You guys look like you’re having fun. What’s so funny?” he asks as he places the food on the coffee table, and Hyunwoo finds himself staring at his back, his soothing voice asking questions as if he was Jooheon’s loving mother, and the boy runs over to the couch and claims the seat on the other side of Hyunwoo’s.

“Nothing, just talking about you,” Jooheon sings, and Kihyun glares at him. “What did you tell Hyunwoo, you rascal?” He throws a pack of chocolates in Jooheon’s direction, the younger boy catching it and cheering as he reads the packaging.

“Just told Hyunwoo hyung how cool you were. And introduced him to our ‘tri-state area’.” He smiles, young and lively, and Kihyun finds himself laughing, Hyunwoo unable to refuse the grin on his face.

Kihyun finally stops fussing and sits in between the both of them, Jooheon eager to stick to his side immediately as the older boy frowns. “You’re too close to me, gedoff.”

“No, hyung,” he whines, and while Kihyun complains, he doesn’t pull away. “You’ve been at work too much, I miss you, I want to cuddle.”

Kihyun rolls his eyes and turns to look at Hyunwoo, his expression a combination of ‘can you believe this guy’ and ‘sorry he’s being a clingy little child’, and Hyunwoo just shrugs. He pats the seat right next to him, and Kihyun looks at it before looking back at Hyunwoo.

Kihyun drags a clinging Jooheon with him as he moves closer to Hyunwoo, the older man throwing his arm behind his back, landing on Kihyun’s shoulder gently.

Jooheon is curled up on Kihyun’s side while Kihyun is nested in Hyunwoo’s hold, and they watch the episode.

Hyunwoo is thoroughly confused at the plot considering he’s never watched it, while the other two boys gasp at appropriate moments, Jooheon even scattering some popcorn on the sofa when a jumpscare appeared.

Maybe it’s because he doesn’t understand the show all that well, but Hyunwoo finds his line of sight returning to Kihyun, to his black locks, to his angular jaw, to his tall nose, fair skin, thin lips.

Then Jooheon, who he’s cradling in his arms, eyes wide at the screen, mouth slightly agape, and the two are completely absorbed. He smiles. He’s missed this feeling of domesticity, a warmth that he hasn’t felt in so long bubbling in him, drowning the worries he’s accumulated over the day.

The tension in him releases, and he leans his head against Kihyun’s scalp, feeling sleep overcome him as the scent of mint and vanilla engulfs him whole.

Chapter Text

It’s a Date. With a capital D.

Kihyun doesn’t know what to expect; the first time he’d met Hyunwoo he was too busy trying to reach there on time to bother about other things. The second time he’d met Hyunwoo, he hadn’t really expected to meet him at all.

Now he has a full day to freak out, and freaking out was what Kihyun did. It did nothing to help when Minhyuk told him that he looked amazing, or when Jooheon, who doesn’t really have an eye for stuff like that said, “Hyunwoo hyung likes you a lot, so it’ll be fine”.

He wants to look his best for the occasion, but Hyunwoo is coming to pick him up in half an hour and his hair is still in a mess and he’s still wearing pajama bottoms.

Minhyuk threatens to sedate him or tie him up so he’ll stop pacing, and Jooheon munches on his chips absentmindedly, throwing out careless words of assurance.

So he grabs a very large gulp from Jooheon’s Coke can on the table and tries breathing in and out a few more times.

*****

“You need to tidy your shit up,” Kihyun says, exasperated, running his fingers through his black locks as he struggles to find his eyeliner in a sea of makeup.

Minhyuk’s sea of makeup.

He rummages through palette after palette, an unhealthy number of lip products, six mascaras (he only has one pair of eyes), fake lashes (in abundance), and he finally sets his eyes on an eyeliner. It’s gel eyeliner. Kihyun doesn’t do well with those, but it’s that or finding a liquid one in Minhyuk’s excessively huge stash, so he settles for it.

His hands are shaking as he looks into Minhyuk’s vanity mirror, his head cocked back as he tries the wing, and fails miserably. There’s a snort from the door, and Kihyun whips his head to look.

Minhyuk stands there with his hands crossed before his chest and Kihyun just raises a brow.

“I’m struggling to look decent over here and you’re there, makeup guru and all, standing by the doorway and laughing. I do not deserve this disrespect.”

Minhyuk fully guffaws by now, sighing as he makes his way to Kihyun, taking the gel eyeliner from his trembling hands.

“You look more than decent. You look cute.”

Kihyun looks like he’s about to rebuke his statement with a vehement denial, but Minhyuk is not taking any of it. Looking as hostile as he can with a tub of eyeliner in one hand and a brush in the other, Minhyuk looks at him sternly. “Don’t you get started on that again with me.”

Kihyun exhales, resigning to his fate, and Minhyuk beams as he gets his way. Again. Kihyun loves being called adorable and being showered with compliments, but he’s been a nervous wreck since morning, stressing about what to wear and how to style his hair.

Minhyuk tries his best to appease him, but he knows just how much Kihyun gets into his own head, and by then there’s no point arguing.

Kihyun sits on the bed as Minhyuk hovers over him, a strong stroke over his eyelid, followed by gentle brushing motions. Kihyun only hears breathing and his soft commands for him to open or close his eyes.

His eyelids flutter open when Minhyuk tells him to, and he sees Minhyuk leaning back, his lips a tight line as he assesses how they look.

“You look great,” Minhyuk says finally, and Kihyun cannot stop the blush from running up his neck, slowly easing himself into that sweet spot where he feels the rush of excitement at being praised while still feeling slightly embarrassed.

Minhyuk just moves the eyeliner brush into his other hand as he reaches out to cup Kihyun’s face. His hand is large, and it holds Kihyun together, a soft exhale of relief and comfort. Minhyuk always knows what to do. It’s his special skill, and Kihyun is thankful.

They stay like that for a while, Kihyun closing his eyes and leaning into his touch, while Minhyuk moves in to plop a small kiss on his forehead, thumb rubbing strokes on his cheek.

The tension in his shoulders relaxes, and Kihyun opens his eyes to find Minhyuk looking down at him with a hopeful expression, his eyebrows raised in slight amusement, a smile on his lips. Kihyun sighs. He’s so fortunate to have Minhyuk with him.

“What would I do without you?” Kihyun murmurs in a quiet exhale, and Minhyuk chuckles. “Exactly. That’s the question I ask myself as well; what ever would you do without me?”

Kihyun punches him on his arm lightly, and lets Minhyuk kiss him until the jitters all disappear.

*****

“Hey.” Kihyun’s voice is soft, but Hyunwoo hears him and looks up to see him walking out. Hyunwoo is leaning against his very flashy car, arms crossed over his chest, and Kihyun’s heart skips a beat.

He looks good. No longer in a stuffy suit -- not that Kihyun is complaining about the way his suit fits itself around his broad shoulders -- and tie, Hyunwoo is dressed in a button up and some jeans. He doesn’t look all that different from Kihyun, though his hair is done up to show his forehead, and his shoes look a little less worn.

Minhyuk had insisted on sending him off, joking about wanting to finally meet the man, especially after Jooheon wouldn’t stop singing praises about him.

So there is a blonde boy behind Kihyun, hand on the small of his back, a very large smile on his face. Hyunwoo looks a little surprised at the extra person, but his expression evens out quickly as he pushes himself away from the vehicle. “Hey, Kihyun.” His gaze lands on the stranger. “Minhyuk, I suppose?”

The blonde chuckles, his laughter light and easy. “Yeah, I’m Minhyuk. Nice to meet you.” He extends an arm, and Hyunwoo takes it, shakes his hand firmly with a smile on his face. Kihyun doesn’t know what to do except squirm in between them.

“You look better than your picture,” Minhyuk comments simply, and Kihyun has to try his best to not facepalm at Minhyuk’s words. The boy has always been honest, brutally so, and Kihyun knows that not many people take well to it.

While Kihyun appreciates Minhyuk’s blatant frankness, knowing that he’ll be the only person in the whole world who dares to call him out when he’s messed up, he didn’t know if Hyunwoo would appreciate Minhyuk in the same way.

Turns out he does. The smile on Hyunwoo’s face isn’t forced, and he guffaws loudly, his shoulders shaking as he laughs.

“That’s a compliment, right?”

Minhyuk beams. “Of course! Why would anyone hope to look better in pictures instead of in person?”

Hyunwoo shrugs, as if this is a really serious point up for discussion. “I don’t know, online personalities? It probably pays to be photogenic.”

Minhyuk laughs. “You’re not wrong. Surely it sucks to see someone in person to realise that they’re actually ugly, though, right? Look, if you were horrifying in your picture, I wouldn’t expect you to look good in person? But if your visuals don’t show up as well in pictures, it’ll just come as a pleasant surprise.”

Hyunwoo presses his lips together, as if in deep thought.

“Wow. You’re right. Has anyone told you you make very good points, Minhyuk?” Hyunwoo asks, not a tinge of sarcasm or irony, and Minhyuk grins widely.

“Not really. I get good grades on my essays, but whenever I try to persuade Kihyunnie to do anything he doesn’t like, my points just all sound like ass to him.” He pokes Kihyun in his side, and the boy shifts away quickly.

“I’m surprised both of you even realised I was standing here, whatnot with your burning passion on the topic of looking photogenic.”

Minhyuk chuckles, puts his arm around Kihyun’s waist and Kihyun leans into it, the action so natural and instinctive that neither of them even realise that they’re doing it.

“Oh, is Kihyunnie jealous that Hyunwoo and I are getting along?” Minhyuk teases in a sing-song voice, and Kihyun pulls a face at him. Hyunwoo just laughs.

“Jooheon was right.” Minhyuk pipes up again. “You are easy to talk to. You’re nice. I like you.”

Hyunwoo grins, his teeth showing, and he looks like he’s five again. “Thanks for the Best Friend Stamp of Approval. I just hope you don’t start sobbing like Jooheon did.”

Minhyuk erupts into deafening laughter and hits Kihyun on his shoulder as he does, the black-haired boy just frowning as he returns the favour, light slaps on Minhyuk’s chest.

“Wait till Jooheon hears about this. He’s never going to forgive you.”

Hyunwoo smiles, a cheeky little wink mixed in. “Well, then do me a favour and never let him live this down.”

Minhyuk smiles. “Consider it done.”

The ends of Kihyun’s lips pull up and he relaxes into a grin. He had hoped that they would hit it off, but he hadn’t expected Hyunwoo to play along so well, and for Minhyuk to be so fond of the man. There’s a soft warmth bubbling inside, and Kihyun just looks at the both of them, Hyunwoo then Minhyuk, adoration in his eyes.

“Would love to chit-chat, Minhyuk, but we have a date thing that we kind of have to go to,” Hyunwoo says quietly, and the blonde boy pulls his arm away instantly.

“Yes, yes, of course. Sorry, I tend to ramble and I talk a little too much sometimes.”

Kihyun narrows his eyes. “ Sometimes?”

Minhyuk huffs. Hyunwoo laughs, reaching out to Kihyun, and the boy steps into his personal space gently, the light whiff of his cologne surrounding him.

It’s nice, encasing him in a space that is only Hyunwoo, and he starts to relate the scent to a sense of security, lulling him into serenity.

Minhyuk stares, affectionate, and there’s a gratified look on his face. It’s been so long since he’s seen this expression on him, but to be fair, it’s been so long since Kihyun’s felt this relaxed, without having to skitter between back-to-back shifts at work and uni and rushing out assignments.

“You guys look good together. Where are you headed?” Minhyuk asks, stuffing his hands into his jeans pockets and tilts his head. Kihyun feels warmth creep up his cheeks at the statement, and Hyunwoo holds him closer to his side.

“Movie. And then shopping, I think?” Hyunwoo looks down at Kihyun, who exchanges gazes with him, and smiles mildly, his chest threatening to explode from all the fondness welling up in him. “Yeah, shopping,” Kihyun answers softly, and Hyunwoo wants so badly to lean down to kiss him on his thin lips, but he doesn’t.

Minhyuk shifts the centre of his weight from his left to his right side, and buries his hands deeper into his pockets. “Well, if you end up going shopping, I’m a shoe size 13.”

Kihyun throws him a glare, and Minhyuk mock cowers from him. They laugh easy afterwards, Hyunwoo’s arm snaking around Kihyun’s waist slowly.

“Run along, then. You haven’t got forever.” Minhyuk says, shoos them with a flick of his hand, and Kihyun shuffles into the passenger seat that Hyunwoo opens the door to.

Minhyuk is grinning widely and waving his arms enthusiastically as they drive off, and Hyunwoo puts his hand on Kihyun’s lightly.

“I like him. He’s funny.”

Kihyun laughs, and thinks Hyunwoo doesn’t hear him when he mutters a ‘I’m glad’ under his breath.

*****

Hyunwoo chooses the movie. Kihyun doesn’t mind watching Thor again. It is a good movie, and Chris Hemsworth is a hunk. They buy their popcorn and drinks, and Hyunwoo keeps making glances towards Kihyun, who looks back up at him.

Kihyun presses his lips together. “You’re staring a lot today.”

Hyunwoo eases out the tension between his brows and moves closer to hold Kihyun by the waist. It stays there, snuck and warm, and Kihyun almost sighs into his hold. “You look good today, that’s why.”

Kihyun smiles, warmth encasing them both. “Minhyuk chose my outfit and did my makeup,” he confesses, and Hyunwoo laughs, his eyes crinkling up in mirth. Kihyun thinks he looks so much younger than he actually is, and he’s at a loss at how comfortable he is around Hyunwoo.

He feels like a friend, like a boyfriend, even, and it’s a little alarming to know how quickly Hyunwoo has disarmed his defence mechanisms and edged his way into a tiny spot in his chest.

“No, I meant you look better. Like you had more rest.”

Kihyun blinks. “Oh. Oh! Yeah. I did. Midterms are over, so it’s a bit of lull right now in the semester, and I told them I didn’t want to do anymore night shifts. I haven’t had 8-hour sleeps in forever.” As if making a point, the boy raises the two cups of Coke above his head as he stretches out his back, and Hyunwoo’s hand is warm on his bare skin as his shirt pulls up.

Hyunwoo’s thumb is rough, calloused, but it feels like a good amount of friction against his own smooth skin, and Kihyun shivers before settling for comfort when he puts his hands down.

The older man just thinks he’s cute, and taking a furtive glance around them, swoops down to place a sloppy kiss on Kihyun’s cheek. The boy chuckles, giggling in his hold, and Hyunwoo cannot find any other sentiment except for affection in him.

Ruffling Kihyun’s hair with his free hand, Hyunwoo smiles kindly and ushers him into the theatre, where the lights are dim and the seats are generally empty. Kihyun huffs.

“This is a good movie. I wonder why there are so few people watching.”

Hyunwoo chuckles. “It’s the last day of screening. Most people would have already watched it,” he states matter-of-factly, and Kihyun feels his cheeks growing warm at his indignance for Thor.

Hyunwoo sighs quietly and leads them to their seats, the screen blaring lights and sounds in their faces as advertisements file through quickly.

It’s really not that cold in the theatre, and they’re already sitting dangerously close to each other as it is, but Kihyun still appreciates the gesture when Hyunwoo slings his arm around his shoulder and pulls him in.

His skin is warm, and his thumb is rubbing circles in the back of Kihyun’s hand.

Kihyun thinks it’s the spark of the moment, but when he looks up at Hyunwoo as the movie starts to play, he starts to wonder if Chris Hemsworth is indeed the most attractive character in the whole of this movie screening.

Tilting his chin up just slightly, he sees Hyunwoo taking a quick peek at him, and like spoiling a child who wants his sweets, Hyunwoo moves over to place a soft kiss on his thin lips.

Kihyun keens, feels like he might melt under his touch right now, but the music is booming and Hyunwoo hasn’t watched the movie before. Determined to protect the sanctity of a Marvel movie, Kihyun lets the warmth linger, but moves his lips away.

His hand rested on Hyunwoo’s thigh and his entire frame tucked into his large frame, Kihyun lets the scenes snatch his attention, oblivious to Hyunwoo’s wistful glances in his direction the whole time, smiling as he stuffs a handful of popcorn into his mouth.

*****

“You really bought me something.” Minhyuk sounds surprised when Kihyun drops a box on the floor beside the coffee table, the blonde scurrying to the gift, anxious to open it up.

Hyunwoo really bought you something, even if I told him you were fine leeching off your parents,” Kihyun states truthfully, and Minhyuk scowls as he throws him a death glare. Kihyun laughs.

Pushing the box’s lid up, Minhyuk’s mouth falls open as he finds a new pair of running shoes, his exact size, his favourite brand. He blinks. It’s the new one he’d wanted to buy, but it was that or the new video game that was released two days ago, and Minhyuk is Minhyuk, so he chose the game.

“You -- He --” He points at the shoes, then at Kihyun, finds his words stuck in his throat, which is a rare sight for him, and finally settles for a “how?”

Kihyun huffs, and explains that he had seen the sneakers when they were out shopping, and was just quietly rechecking the price and Minhyuk’s size availability before deciding that he was going to buy it for Minhyuk’s birthday a month down the road.

Apparently Hyunwoo had seen him stare a little too intently at the shoes, because when Kihyun was in one of the other shops trying to find a liquid eyeliner that isn’t buried in Minhyuk’s pile, Hyunwoo had returned to the shop and bought them.

“Here.” Hyunwoo had said with a voice lilting with happiness, and Kihyun looked up at him with a quizzical expression. “Take it,” he urged, pushing the box to Kihyun as the younger boy received it and took a peek.

“Hyunwoo. This is not for me. It’s Minhyuk’s size.”

The smile on his face didn’t falter a single bit, and the man just nods.

“Well. Then this is a gift for Minhyuk. From me. It’s okay. Just tell him it’s thanks for taking care of you.” Hyunwoo smiled, ruffled Kihyun’s hair absentmindedly as the younger boy tried his best to sort out his confusion.

“I was planning to buy it for his birthday.”

Hyunwoo had shrugged. “Well, you can always stuff it under your bed and give it to him after.”

Kihyun’s eyes widened. “Even though you were the one who bought it?”

“You know it doesn’t really matter to me. I’ll probably still end up buying something else for his birthday anyway.”

Kihyun’s eye twitched. “Why?”

Hyunwoo frowned. “Why? What why? I like buying things. For people that I like.”

Kihyun stared. “So you like Minhyuk?”

Hyunwoo pressed his lips together, as if he was trying to push down a grin. “Yeah. I like him. I thought you wanted me to like him.”

Kihyun was at a loss of words. “Yeah. Sure. I do. I just didn’t know your liking him warranted gifts.”

“I mean, I can always take it back if you’re --”

“No, no, that’s fine, I just. I’m just trying to wrap my whole head around this gift thing. There are times where I find difficulty in taking gifts or compliments.”

Hyunwoo wrapped his arm around his shoulder. “I thought you liked those.”

Kihyun's cheeks reddened. “Yeah. Just sometimes when I’m having a bit of a crisis, it’s more difficult to process and take them gracefully. I don’t know.”

Hyunwoo smiles, his heart welling up with endearment for the younger boy and his hand reached out to wrap around Kihyun’s short fingers. He held them tightly in his grip, and Kihyun exhaled softly.

“Well, there will be more to come, so just don’t fuss and take them slowly as you feel comfortable about it, okay?”

Kihyun felt his fingertips burning with a sore from where Hyunwoo had touched, but he nodded mutely anyway, and Hyunwoo’s returning grin was the blaze of a thousand suns.

Minhyuk listens to all of this as he stuffs his foot into the shoe, beaming when they fit perfectly, and he jumps around in the apartment with his new sneakers, strutting around like he was on a runway. Kihyun giggles.

Minhyuk falls into a pile with Kihyun as he litters his small face with kisses, Kihyun chuckling from the tickle, and how a gift from Hyunwoo had made Minhyuk’s mood soar.

“Say thanks to him,” Minhyuk whispers into the crook of Kihyun’s neck as the both of them lay breathless, Minhyuk atop Kihyun’s frame.

“I’m not your messenger.” Kihyun scowls, but knows that Minhyuk’s thanks will probably be the first thing he conveys when he messages Hyunwoo later on.

Minhyuk knows that too, and smiles into his skin, feels a weak pulse thrumming under his lips.

“Why didn’t you stuff it under your bed and pretend like you bought me the gift on my birthday?” Minhyuk asks, his voice teasing, and Kihyun laughs.

“I might be a bit stingy, but not to the extent of taking someone else’s gift and using it as my own.” Kihyun shakes his index finger slowly, and Minhyuk chortles in his hold, Kihyun’s body heat lulling him into a peacefulness like no other.

“He’s good for you. You look happy.” Minhyuk says, only fondness in his tone, and Kihyun feels a gush of pride rushing out, because it really was no surprise that Minhyuk’s opinion on his choices was important to him.

Being the one and only friend who wouldn’t patronise him or treat him like a child when he needed the wake-up call, Kihyun believed in the absolution of truth in Minhyuk’s words. He was never one to sugarcoat words or say things he never meant.

And for him -- an honest friend who genuinely took interest in his well-being -- to approve of Hyunwoo being good company, brought about some sense of achievement that wasn’t Kihyun’s to claim, but claim he did anyway.

*****

The word of the day is Exhausted. Kihyun’s had a run to the store and finally laid down the ‘I quit’ phrase after weeks of feeling horrible about it, because he knows Big Boss is looking to fire Jung from his position, and was hoping that Kihyun would fill in his place. He’s been hyping it up for months, and Kihyun just didn’t have the heart to tell him that he doesn’t want to do this anymore.

He hates himself for even letting the expectations run so high; he really should have made it clear that being a manager at the store was never even in his options. But he had felt so bad for being a wet blanket, and now he’s going to let the man fall from Heaven to Hell.

Jooheon had been helpful, dropping hints to Big Boss and telling him how Kihyun has been particularly busy with school and that he wouldn’t be able to take on his more insane shifts, and most certainly not more responsibility in his part-time job. It’s like it falls on deaf ears.

The last straw has to be the middle-aged lady who storms in complaining about how her fries are not fresh, and that the beef patty in her Big Mac not only doesn’t taste like beef, but that it also tastes frozen. Kihyun had to step in and explain, in his best customer service representative voice, that he would be happy to change it for her, but that all their beef patties are the same, and another Big Mac wouldn’t alter the alleged frozen taste. Her saliva goes flying as she gives a perfect rendition of a rap about how she’ll send in her most well-articulated yet furious letter to the office, and Kihyun almost yells at her to go to a steakhouse if she’d prefer to have flavour in her meat.

It’s fucking McDonald’s, what did she expect?

So he drops the bomb on Big Boss, who looks shocked, almost like he hadn’t realised that he’s been working Kihyun out thin, and that no normal person would be able to handle a workload like that. He tries, very hard, to convince Kihyun out of his decision, but he’s adamant. Kihyun feels bad seeing the disappointment on Big Boss’ face, and reluctantly agrees to stay for another two weeks, emphasises on the timeframe, and urges Big Boss to find a replacement soon.

Big Boss tries his best to look thankful, but Kihyun thinks it’s mostly just disappointment and a fraction of anger that he doesn’t dare show.

He trudges into the flat and Minhyuk is there, computer in lap, and he’s reading something very intensely, eyes squinting through his glasses. Kihyun thinks that just messes up his myopia some more, but Minhyuk is not really a guy who listens to sound advice.

“Hey.” Minhyuk doesn’t look up from his screen and Kihyun plops his bag by the door and grunts in response. That elicits a reaction from the silver-haired boy, whose eyebrows furrow in tension at Kihyun, frame slouching and face spelling nothing but fatigue.

“You told him you’d quit, but he convinced you to stay, and you couldn’t worm your way out of it, so you’re still working for the store.” It’s a wild guess, but it’s close enough, and Kihyun wonders just how much time he spends with Minhyuk for the boy to read him like an open book.

“I said no. Vehemently. He looked upset. So I said two more weeks.”

Minhyuk presses his lips together, the ends curving down ever so slightly, eyes wide. “You stood by your decision and didn’t cave in. I’m impressed.”

“But now I’ve another two weeks to go; another two weeks of relentless, persistent persuasion that I have to turn down time and time again.” Kihyun slumps into the sofa and Minhyuk scurries closer to him, even if the sofa is wide and has space for three. “God, I hate disappointing people.”

“Every man for himself, Ki. You can’t expect to do whatever for anyone just because they’ll be upset. If they want to be upset, they’ll be upset.”

Kihyun sighs, sees concern in Minhyuk’s eyes and presses a cushion against his chest. “Speak for yourself when I say no to cuddling because I have to revise for an exam.”

Minhyuk scowls. “Look, you can revise while we’re cuddling. I’ve done that before.”

Kihyun smiles weakly. “I keep my hands to myself. When you initiate cuddling you just keep touching.” Minhyuk grins, speaks slowly, pointedly, “But you don’t hate it.”

He breathes; arguing with Minhyuk about menial things can be stress-relieving or inducing, depending on how defensive Minhyuk is on the day. “No, I don’t. But I can’t concentrate when you do that.”

Minhyuk knows he’s lost the battle because Kihyun is pressing his fingers against his temple, and apparently today it’s more stress-inducing than relieving. He feels a sour pinch. “You must be tired. Wanna spoon?”

The words sound like magic the minute they leave Minhyuk’s lips, Kihyun almost groans out his yes, and Minhyuk is quick to comply. They settle in a comfortable position, one they’ve been accustomed to over the years, and Kihyun’s chest is pressed against Minhyuk’s, his nose buried in the crook of Minhyuk’s neck.

Kihyun sighs. “Feels like home.”

Minhyuk’s heart swells. “Home is far, far away for you.”

“I know, but it feels more right here. At far, far away Home, I have to hide. It sucks.”

Minhyuk breathes, his chest heaving up and down, Kihyun moving along with it. Kihyun looks up at Minhyuk’s chin for a moment and their eyes meet, and Minhyuk is pressing his lips on the tip of Kihyun’s nose. Another sigh from Kihyun, and he kisses Minhyuk’s chin lightly.

“Hey?”

Minhyuk hums in reply.

“If you ever find someone you’re interested in. Will you let me know?”

Minhyuk frowns. “Why the ques --”

“Just answer it.” Kihyun’s eyes are closed and his breath is quiet, warm against Minhyuk’s skin.

“Yeah, of course I would. You’re my best friend. Would be a bit of a dick move if I didn’t.”

Kihyun stills, his breathing slightly more ragged. “Would you tell them about me?”

Minhyuk frowns, but doesn’t press. He has no idea where any of this is going, and not being able to read Yoo Kihyun is different. Not the good kind of different.

“Yes, Kihyun. You’re my best friend. I will tell a potential partner about my best friend so said best friend can give me their seal of approval or disapproval and I can either vehemently agree or disagree, respectively.”

Minhyuk can feel how his fingers are pinching at the edge of his shirt. He’s nervous -- but what about? Kihyun had ceased to be nervous around Minhyuk ever since that morning after the first time they had drunk sex, which was years ago. Minhyuk had eased the tension by casually suggesting that they do this again, drunk or not, and Kihyun was strangely okay with it.

“Would you tell them about our… arrangement?”

Oh. Minhyuk has an idea of where this is going, but he doesn’t have an end goal in sight. He scoffs, almost like having a friend with benefits is commonplace, like a garden, like everyone in his neighbourhood has one.

Maybe a garden isn’t the best example; they live in a flat.

“What, that I have a best friend that I often spoon and cuddle with and occasionally fuck?”

Kihyun winces. “Hyunwoo asked if I was normally so crude when I said ‘meatstick up my butt’. I guess I can tell him I learnt it from you.”

Minhyuk laughs, and he can feel Kihyun scowling as his facial features scrunch up together. “Well, I will, if the relationship progresses to a stage where I feel it’s important to relate that information to them. After all, if they fall in love with me, they have to at least be aware that I was a FWB kind of guy, and they have to be okay with it.”

Kihyun hums. “That’s fair. I guess.”

Minhyuk sighs, his warm breath ruffling a few strands of Kihyun’s jet black hair. “What’s going on?”

Kihyun closes his eyes again, the tip of his nose against Minhyuk’s neck and he breathes, soft, slow, the silence between them comfortable, but Minhyuk wants answers, even if he doesn’t want to press.

“I haven’t told Hyunwoo about us. Like. I don’t know if I’m breaking any clauses in our agreement or if he’ll mind -- he probably won’t, but still -- and I don’t know if I should, at all.”

“Oh.” Minhyuk repeats, this time aloud, and he frowns, his fingers moving up to run through Kihyun’s black hair. It’s soft and smooth and he doesn’t want to break the intimacy they’re sharing, but he doesn’t know what’s okay to say.

“Do you want to?”

Kihyun fidgets in his hold. “I don’t know. I feel like I should. But I don’t know how he’ll take it. He knows you’re my best friend. My flatmate. That you know about him being my sugar daddy. But I don’t tell him how we sometimes sleep in the same bed and you hold me when things get rough and that we sometimes fuck and that I like it.”

Minhyuk’s fingers card through his hair, slight pressure on his fingertips now. Kihyun has always liked it when Minhyuk did that. “What are you afraid of?”

“Him being mad. Cancelling our arrangement. But mostly that he wants us to stop doing what we’re doing in order to keep the arrangement going.”

A sharp pinch in Minhyuk’s sides. “If --”

Kihyun looks up at him with wide eyes, and he blinks unevenly in response, before he bends down to kiss the bridge of his nose. “If he says that we’ll have to stop doing this in order for the arrangement to go through. Can you promise me you’ll tell me? And that we’ll stop?”

Kihyun frowns. “But Min --”

“You need the money, Ki. It doesn’t matter if we don’t end up fucking; if you need it you can have Hyunwoo, he said he would like to sleep with you sometime, didn’t he?” They’ve never been known to be refined, or sophisticated, but maybe this is next-level crass.

A furrow of his eyebrows. “But you’re different. I’m not sleeping with you because I need a fuck. I sleep with you because you care for me and I feel loved and cared for and I want the affection. Your affection. I like it when you care about me and massage my scalp and hold me and spoon me and hug me and kiss me and I like it. It puts me to ease.”

Minhyuk presses his lips together, sad. “I know, Ki. I love caring for you too. But if it means you don’t have to work killer back-to-back shifts at MacDonalds and jeopardise your entire university education.” He doesn’t finish his sentence.

Kihyun mirrors the sadness. “Are you sure it’s okay? You are warm like an oven.”

Minhyuk allows himself a tiny laugh. “Not sure why you’re asking me if I’m okay when you’re clearly the one who’s going to miss my cuddles too much.”

Kihyun shrugs, Minhyuk’s hold tight around his frame, keeping him in place. This was it, this was home, the only way it should be, a long day of slogging around burgers and here is where he wants to come back to, in complete and utter comfort. No customer representative voice, no hiding who and what he likes, no living up to expectations.

Minhyuk kisses him, soft, like a feather on his lips, and Kihyun returns it, slipping his tongue into his mouth slowly. It tastes like chocolate, and Kihyun curves into the bits to fit in with Minhyuk, his arms thrown across his shoulder as he pulls him in.

Minhyuk breathes heavy. It’s not difficult to tell that uni has stretched him thin lately, the knots his shoulders tight. Kihyun runs his thumbs over them lightly, massaging his tensed-up muscles. Minhyuk melts into the kiss, a sigh as their lips meet.

Kihyun is soft and pliant in his hold, and their legs tangle.

He tilts his head so their noses don’t touch. Minhyuk smells like his latest favourite: Citrus Blast, a lemony scent wafting off of him in mild waves. Kihyun shifts in closer, skin against skin, lips against lips. Minhyuk tastes good.

Minhyuk is running his fingers over Kihyun’s back underneath his shirt when there’s a buzz in Kihyun’s pocket. He tries to ignore it but it goes off again, and Kihyun sighs.

Minhyuk doesn’t want to let go. Kihyun stays in his hold, pulling his lips away as he fishes the device out and checks it.

The backlight is glaring, and Kihyun has to blink to make sure he’s reading it right.

From: Son Hyunwoo
Long day.
Come over.

Kihyun jerks up and elbows Minhyuk in his chin as he does. The blonde hisses at the contact, Kihyun apologising profusely. Kihyun is sat up straight in his lap, eyebrows knitted together. “What’s up?”

Kihyun breathes. “Gotta go.” He scrambles up from his position and sways a little on his feet. Minhyuk grabs his arm, frowning. “It’s… 1:30AM on a Tuesday. Where to?”

“Duty calls,” Kihyun shakes his phone in his hands and realisation seeps onto Minhyuk’s face. His eyes light up at Kihyun’s first call out.

“Is this the legendary booty call?”

Kihyun rolls his eyes, but barks out a laughter anyway, Minhyuk smirking, the corner of his lips pulled up slightly.

He types out a response quickly and shuffles his way to the bathroom to get ready.

From: Yoo Kihyun
as much as im known for my sneaky habits, whatnot w my superior facebook scouting skills, contrary to popular belief, i need an address to actually turn up to places

From: Son Hyunwoo
Haha sorry. Here it is. (Son Hyunwoo has shared a location pin with you)

From: Yoo Kihyun
ok did not know that was a function

From: Son Hyunwoo
How long will you take? I will be in the shower.

From: Yoo Kihyun
eh, no traffic at this time, but minhyuk might not lend me his car.

From: Son Hyunwoo
Take a taxi. I’ll pay for it when I come get you downstairs.

From: Yoo Kihyun
no, i have money its all good im just tryna twist mins arm and see if he’ll be nice for once
boy just read that message over my shoulder and is nowpunching me in the arm
give me an hour? I need to not smell like ive been around nuggets and big macs all day.

From: Son Hyunwoo 
Sure. Just ring me or buzz the intercom when you’re here.
Tell Minhyuk I said hi.

From: Yoo Kihyun
he says hi back
see u later alligator

He sneaks into the shower after the last reply, exhaling loudly as the warm water cascades down his skin.

Practising the lines for the new musical they’re putting up, Kihyun’s singing reverberates within the tiny bathroom, the acoustics making his voice sound fuller. He sings, repeats parts that he goes flat, and tries again. Halfway through lathering his torso with body wash, Kihyun hears the click of a door, and whips his head around to see.

A familiar hand presses onto the back of his neck, stopping him from doing so. He whines.

“What are you doing, Minhyuk?” He asks, feeling a surge of excitement spiking his blood, yet a little afraid that he’s going to be late in meeting Hyunwoo.

“Shh. I’ll make this quick.” Minhyuk leans down and presses a tight kiss on his shoulder, unfurling the strain in his muscles as Kihyun lets the water run down, Minhyuk’s hand moving the body wash around his chest.

The black-haired boy gasps when Minhyuk takes hold of a nipple between his fingers, and he flicks it gently, Kihyun feeling his breath hitch as he arches his back.

“Min --”

“Shh. You’re okay.” His low husky voice seems to have gone down yet another octave as he continues to kiss Kihyun’s shoulder lightly, thumb rubbing over Kihyun’s perky nipple, moving from one to the other.

Kihyun almost wants to beg. The stress from running shifts had collected in him and Minhyuk’s touch had forced the pent-up tension to release itself in waves, his back arching like a bow, his thighs shaking as he struggles to stand.

Minhyuk’s hand moves up to his neck, his thumb pressing harshly on Kihyun’s jawline as he tilts his head to the side. He sees him with hooded eyes, Minhyuk’s lust evident in his gaze. They kiss gently, then hard, Minhyuk eager and hungry for his lips, Kihyun tiny whines dying in Minhyuk’s mouth.

Palm trailing down his chest, Minhyuk touches his flat stomach, pinching his sides softly as Kihyun jumps. A little pain always helped with heightening his senses, and Kihyun tenses up just slightly.

Minhyuk’s dick is hard, pressed against the small of his back, and Kihyun keens when Minhyuk’s palm travels to his crotch, long and thin fingers wrapped around his semi-hard erection, and Kihyun cries against Minhyuk’s tongue.

A cheeky grin on his face, Minhyuk pumps him lightly as he buckles his hips, cock rubbing against the cleft of Kihyun’s ass, eliciting a soft growl.

Kihyun is happy to reciprocate as he sticks his bum further out, lets Minhyuk draw more friction from his ass as the silver-haired boy’s breathing hastens.

Thumb swiping across Kihyun’s cock, Minhyuk spreads the pre-cum all over its tip. Kihyun sobs into his lips, kiss messy and vision hazy.

He begs, please, please Minhyuk, and Minhyuk grunts while his hips are still rocking forward, eager for any bit of Kihyun that can get him off.

Pulling away for a second, Minhyuk spins Kihyun around so that their chests are pressed against each other, the water running down in trickles over Kihyun’s body, his hair flat on his head.

Leaning down just slightly, Minhyuk looks up at Kihyun’s face for confirmation as he takes the left nipple in his mouth, tip of tongue flicking over it mischievously before he sucks. Kihyun throws his head back, the shower facing his bare neck as water patters onto his face mercilessly.

Minhyuk wraps his arms around Kihyun’s legs, and Kihyun is thankful for the grip that keeps him standing upright.

His heart is pumping furiously in his chest, his breathing ragged and rough, and Minhyuk has a talented mouth that makes him want to come undone in his hold right now.

His nipple encased in a wet and warm cavity, Kihyun almost doesn’t feel the hand landing just right above the curve of his ass.

He does, however, gasp, when Minhyuk reaches forward and presses his finger against his throbbing hole, looking back up at Kihyun again with a curious expression.

“Yes. Yes.”

Minhyuk doesn’t seem to be in the mood for him to beg, and pushes it in, the water cascading over his skin doing much to help him ease a digit in, Kihyun turning putty around him.

A sigh, and Minhyuk grunts, standing back up, and Kihyun’s closed eyes flutter open to look at Minhyuk, his jaw slackening as Minhyuk puts in a second finger.

He looks ethereal, the steam of the hot shower doing little to veil Kihyun’s iridescence, and Minhyuk curses when he realises how beautiful Kihyun looks. He’s soft and fair, every piece of skin smooth to the touch, and his hole sucks Minhyuk’s fingers in hungrily.

Fuck, how does someone look this small and soft while being so absolutely hot and slutty? Everything Kihyun does, from the smallest intake of breath down to his soft moans turns Minhyuk on, and he sighs as he lets his cock rub against Kihyun’s in erratic motions, the black-haired boy whining at the touch.

Third finger. Kihyun is almost falling to his knees, his whole frame leaning flush against Minhyuk’s, but he wills himself to stand, holding on the wall, struggling for purchase.

Then he hears it, the almost silent buzz, like a phone, and Kihyun blinks out of his haziness only to be covered up with more confusion. Minhyuk has a shit-eating grin on his face.

Before Kihyun manages to react, he feels the blunt tip of a device against his ass, and he gasps, staring incredulously at Minhyuk who just presses his lips together, trying his best to push down a smile.

Without a single word of explanation, Minhyuk pushes the bullet vibrator in slowly, Kihyun parting his lips in a deafening moan, his whole back so arched his skull almost hits the wall behind him.

Minhyuk is slow, gentle, the bullet pressed in and breaching his muscles as they loosen, only for his hole to contract around it again. Kihyun groans, his thighs trembling as Minhyuk holds him close.

The vibrating buzz sends shivers down his spine. He feels his brain rattling in his skull along to the tremors of the bullet, and Minhyuk manages to push all of it in, a tiny piece of string visible from in between his cheeks.

Kihyun tries to breathe, and it comes in shaky inhales and exhales. He grips onto Minhyuk’s shoulder with a strong grip, fingers digging into his flesh, and the blonde hisses sharply at the bite.

Vibrator lodged deep into him, Kihyun starts rocking his hips against Minhyuk, eager for any touch and way to get off. Minhyuk welcomes the gesture as he reaches out for them, holding both of their cocks in his large hand and starts to pump.

Kihyun groans, his voice echoing in the tiny shower, the same way his singing had amplified in the small space. Minhyuk takes the friction when it’s given, and throws his head back as he grunts with every snap of his hips.

Their movements irregular and messy, Kihyun can tell how Minhyuk is close from the way his eyebrows furrow, his lower lip trembling and his skin twitching uneasily. That, and the way his breathing accelerates, his moans growing louder, and his hips buckling quickly.

Kihyun finds himself backed up against the wall and his blood sings when Minhyuk picks up the pace, large warm hands wrapped around them both as he feels friction all around, the pulsing in his hole still spiking adrenaline into his bloodstream.

He’s so close, and his moans reflect that as he escalates in pitch, all his muscles tightening, his thighs shaking so hard. Minhyuk’s mouth is back on his, and he cries out into the kiss as Minhyuk quickens his pumping and his hips snapping.

It shakes him, unearthing every bit of logic he has in him as he trembles around Minhyuk, his whole frame shaking as he comes, the orgasm so strong it wipes him out, breathless, giddy.

Minhyuk comes too, though his arrives with a loud grunt, and he rides it out against Kihyun’s erection, his arms coming to wrap around Kihyun as they slump against the wall, Kihyun still struggling to catch his breath.

They stay there for ages, trying to put themselves back together, the combined intensity of their orgasms sufficient to render them senseless, and Kihyun suddenly remembers he has places to be.

“Shit. Minhyuk, I need to go. You need --”

The words die in his throat as he shifts, because he remembers the vibrator still in him, still pulsing harshly against his walls. He exhales shakily, his fingers trembling.

“God. Fuck.” Kihyun feels his insides flipping upside down in a good way, or maybe not so good, considering he’s going to have to meet Hyunwoo in half an hour, and he’s completely fucked, wrecked, and looks like a mess.

“Take it out, Min,” he whispers, and Minhyuk cracks open his right eye at him and feigns ignorance.

“Take what out?” He asks, and Kihyun blinks at him, dumbfounded.

“The damn vibrator, Minhyuk. Take it out; I have to meet Hyunwoo.”

“Oh.” Minhyuk says simply, and then presses his lips together. Kihyun knows what he has up his sleeve, but his fingers are shaking and he can barely hold on to himself, not to say pull out a bullet in his ass that has only an inch of the string poking out.

“You know,” Minhyuk says quietly, still looking at Kihyun with those wide eyes, “I don’t think I want to.”

“What. Minhyuk, this isn’t funny.”

“It isn’t. It’s sexy.” He holds a finger out, points accusingly at Kihyun. Kihyun holds his tongue. “And before we have a debate on this, you know you want this, and you’re just refusing it because of your pride. Now. I’m here as your excuse.” Minhyuk shifts, and sits up straight, Kihyun still breathing heavy as he’s leaned against the wall. “You’re free to go up to Hyunwoo and tell him to take the vibrator out of your ass because Minhyuk the Idiot had shoved it up your butt. You’re welcome. Now go get dressed and I’ll drive you there because I don’t think it’s safe for you to drive when you can’t see straight.”

Kihyun grits his teeth, but it’s difficult to argue with Minhyuk when one, his hole is wrapped tightly around a vibrating device that’s making his teeth chatter, and two, Minhyuk’s right.

“Or you could just take it out.” He hisses between clenched teeth, and Minhyuk stands back up in all his naked glory, guffawing as he reaches out a hand for Kihyun to grab.

“Ah. But where’s the fun in that?”

Chapter Text

Yep, if anyone asks Kihyun who he dislikes the most in this entire universe, at this moment, he only has the name Lee Minhyuk to offer.

Barely standing solid on his two feet, Minhyuk had been extremely insistent on not taking the vibrator out of him, and Kihyun cannot put up a fight when he’s slamming facts left and right.

Truth be told, Kihyun really likes Hyunwoo. As a sugar daddy, as a person, as a potential sexual partner. He’s had no lack of one night stands before his sleeping arrangement with Minhyuk, some of them better than he could ever ask for, the memory of a few others still leaving a bitter taste on the tip of his tongue.

So really, it is a little aggravating to see Hyunwoo treat him like he’s fragile, always moving far behind the boundaries whenever he thinks he’s overstepping the line, when all Kihyun wants him to do is to sweep him up in one single motion and kiss him until his head hurts.

Of course, Minhyuk is his best friend and knows that it’s not exactly a request Kihyun will put into actual words in the Korean language, but wanting this and knowing that it’s going to happen are two very different concepts, and Kihyun is nervous. However nervous a brain that is currently a mush of overstimulated senses can be, that is.

Kihyun has to be supported on his way to the vehicle, and when Minhyuk sits him on the passenger side, Kihyun’s breathing is harsh and ragged, and his hands are trembling. He whines lowly in his throat, and Minhyuk throws him a look.

“You’re supposed to be seducing Hyunwoo. Not me. Stop making those sounds,” Minhyuk says, disgruntled, and Kihyun struggles to find a good position that doesn’t lodge the vibrator in the place that makes his nerves tingle.

“I can’t fucking help it.” Kihyun mutters in an exhale, and his vision is hazy. Minhyuk throws the ignitor into force, and Kihyun moans softly, sandwiched in between his panting. They start driving. Minhyuk keeps his eyes on the road, but allows himself quick darting looks at Kihyun, who’s squirming in his seat, curled up into a little ball.

“You okay?”

Kihyun’s eyes roll into the back of his skull. “Not really.” He breathes heavy. “I think I’ve cummed about twice now. Fuck.”

Minhyuk steps on the accelerator, a little past the speed limit, but it’s the wee hours of the morning and his car is one of probably five other cars on the road. Maybe he should have thought this through.

Kihyun’s entire face and neck is red, his frame shivering and Minhyuk observes as he arches his back from the seat, higher, higher, and his voice rises in scale and volume. Kihyun’s hips move up in the air, desperate for some form of friction that isn’t there, and Minhyuk feels himself holding his breath.

Thump. His hips meet the seat again, and Kihyun moans deafeningly as his thighs tremble. Minhyuk can tell he’s cummed, and he exhales heavily. Kihyun looks spent, but there is a certain glow on his face from the high of his orgasm.

“You’re a piece of shit, anyone told you that?” Kihyun asks weakly, and there is still the quiet buzzing of the vibrator between the both of them. Minhyuk chuckles.

“You, on a daily basis. But you want this, so shut your face.” Minhyuk replies, and tries his best to not palm himself underneath the steering wheel.

Kihyun recognises the tension in his shoulder and his locked jaw, and his gaze finds its way to the tent in Minhyuk’s pants, and he smirks.

“Looks like someone’s having fun looking at me cum for the third time,” Kihyun teases, gesturing lazily to Minhyuk’s semi-hard erection, and Minhyuk has the audacity to turn pink. Kihyun laughs at his response, only to realise that it makes his muscles contract tighter around the device, and he stops abruptly, replacing it with a low groan.

Minhyuk echoes his groan as he gives in to temptation and pulls one hand away from the steering wheel to press his palm into his hard-on, breathing shallow.

“Fuck.” Minhyuk curses under his breath, and Kihyun curls over to look at Minhyuk with bright eyes. They seem to sparkle with excitement, and before Minhyuk can ask what he’s got up his sleeve, Kihyun reaches forward slowly with his arms outstretched. His fingers hesitate before Minhyuk’s waistband, more than happy that Minhyuk had chosen to wear track pants instead of jeans tonight.

Minhyuk’s gaze is trained on the road in front of him, his jaw tight, but he moves his own palm away, as if making way for Kihyun’s hands.

“Try not to kill us both,” Kihyun whispers, as he digs the heel of his palm into Minhyuk’s clothed erection, and he hears the spike in Minhyuk’s breathing. They’re close to Hyunwoo’s place -- maybe only a few minutes away now -- and Minhyuk is lifting his ass off the driver’s seat so that Kihyun can pull his pants off him. The waistband slides easily past the crest of his ass and Minhyuk’s erection stands tall, red and bulging, and Kihyun licks his lips unabashedly.

Kihyun cranes over and wraps his tiny hands around Minhyuk’s cock, giving it a hesitant pump, and chortles when the blonde buckles his hips to meet his grip.

“Overeager.” Kihyun comments casually, and Minhyuk places both hands on the wheel, determined to keep his sight on the drive ahead. The buzzing is still there between the little grunts Kihyun makes from the base of his throat, and Kihyun moans as he continues to pump Minhyuk’s cock with his hands, rubbing his thumb over the tip, spreading pre-cum all over his hard-on.

His thumb nail bites gently into the protruding vein on the underside and Minhyuk hisses, his fingers on the wheel shivering, and Kihyun hums lightly in approval, reaching down to stuff his hand down his pants, wrapping a palm around his own hard-on.

They exchange moans as Minhyuk steers the car slightly askew, and Kihyun yelps when Minhyuk swerves them back on their lane immediately. The jerking movement just makes Minhyuk want to buckle his hips so his cock goes deeper into his hand, and Kihyun slaps his thigh worriedly.

“I told you not to kill us both,” he scolds, and Minhyuk just exhales shakily as he laughs.

Having calmed himself down from the scare, Kihyun rubs his thumb against his length and presses lightly on the tip, moving up and down around the crown, and Minhyuk makes a guttural sound that goes straight to Kihyun’s erection.

It must only be less ten minutes when Minhyuk pulls into a slot near Hyunwoo’s apartment complex, and his breathing is strained and heavy when Kihyun stares right at him, his hands still pumping Minhyuk’s erection enthusiastically.

“We’re here,” Minhyuk announces with unnecessary finality, and Kihyun is gazing up at him from beneath long lashes, and Minhyuk feels his breath hitch in his throat.

His foot completely off the accelerator and the brakes, Minhyuk bends over to pull at the lever under his seat, and his seat slides backwards, Kihyun almost losing his balance.

“You’re going to be late,” Minhyuk tells him matter-of-factly, and Kihyun stares longingly at Minhyuk’s cock, and then back at the hazy-eyed boy’s face.

He doesn’t ask for permission, doesn’t give an explanation, and he unclasps the seatbelt and moves over to Minhyuk’s side, kneeling on his seat.

“What are you--”

Minhyuk’s question dies in his throat as Kihyun bends down and takes his cock in his mouth, hot and wet, and Minhyuk makes a loud rumbling sound from his chest.

He’s sloppy and messy, different from the usual Kihyun, granted they’re poorly-positioned in Minhyuk’s shabby car, no lube, none of the usual comfort of their couch or bed, and Kihyun has a vibrator up his butt that’s made him come three times so far.

His tongue runs along the vein and then across the head of Minhyuk’s cock, his cheeks caving in as he sucks. Kihyun goes lower, and the tip of Minhyuk’s cock hits the end of his throat, making a hollow sound from within Kihyun as he hums lightly, the vibrations making Minhyuk’s hands turn into tight fists on his sides.

“Mm, baby, you’re so good. Fuck, you look so good taking me in like this.” Minhyuk manages to throw out a few words of encouragement amidst his arousal, and Kihyun glows from the compliment. He looks up from his position to stare at Minhyuk, which makes the blonde groan once more, and he decides to take it into his own hands to ensure that Minhyuk feels good.

He bobs up and down expertly, and Minhyuk throws his head behind, hitting against the headrest with a thwack. His fingers run into Kihyun’s hair and he tugs, heaving loudly when Kihyun whines against his cock. His groans are raspy, scratchy, and Kihyun grinds against the passenger seat, pumps his own erection desperately to the sound of his moans.

Kihyun’s hands kneads his balls gently and Minhyuk’s hips leave the seat in urgent need, Kihyun’s thin lips wrapped around his throbbing cock so prettily, it makes him want to cum right now.

And really, he can, so he does, and his voice escalates in pitch as Kihyun winds him up, cheeks sucked in, tears on his individual eyelashes.

His orgasmic shout is deafening, and he shoots out strings of cum into Kihyun’s mouth, the black-haired boy’s eyes wide in surprise, but he takes it well, the way he normally does, and swallows it down without a complaint.

Minhyuk tugs at his hair harshly as he comes, pain spreading across the boy’s scalp, and he yelps around Minhyuk’s cock, his own hand picking up speed as he rocks his hips quickly against the fabric seats, his breathing hurried and rushed.

He, too, comes, for the fourth time, and cum splays over Minhyuk’s gear stick in spurts, Kihyun heaving loudly as Minhyuk pulls his cock away from his mouth. He falls back into his seat as cum drips unceremoniously on the fabric.

It’s at least five more minutes where they take the time to ease themselves back into normality, and Minhyuk is glancing at Kihyun, who looks like he’s completely tired out from the night’s events. He winces a little at the mess he’s created, but he won’t deny -- that was fucking hot.

“You know, car sex would be pretty amazing,” Minhyuk comments lazily, and Kihyun opens a single eye to look at him, before scowling.

“You’re an ass.”

Minhyuk sniffs. “Didn’t hear you say that when you went all cock-hungry on me.”

Kihyun turns redder, a shade that Minhyuk hadn’t thought the human skin could reach, and he chuckles before reaching to the glove compartment and pulls out some wet tissues.

He wipes Kihyun down tiredly before cleaning his gear stick, making faces as he does. Kihyun just stays there, limp and drained, and Minhyuk pulls his pants up for him slowly.

The buzzing continues, and Kihyun’s voice is rough, almost like sandpaper, but when Minhyuk’s hand pulls the pants over the curve of his ass, he still makes a tired little sob, and Minhyuk almost feels sorry for him.

“That should teach you to not go sucking my dick when you’ve already cummed so many times.”

Really, Kihyun should smack him across his head and tell him off, but he’s just so exhausted now, and the little bullet is still making his insides turn, and his muscles contract around it unconsciously.

The ends of his lips are downturned, and he knows Minhyuk will remove it if he asks hard enough, but the prospect of Hyunwoo finding a bullet vibrator up his ass and pulling it out gently and maybe fucking him harshly makes his nipples harden.

“Ugh.” Is the sound he decides on making, and taking a brief look at his watch, Kihyun realises just how late he is.

“Fuck, uh, I need to go.” Kihyun’s hand is on the door, and Minhyuk runs out of his side of the car and catches Kihyun when he tumbles out. Kihyun stays like that in Minhyuk’s arms for a while, letting his vision return to him and Minhyuk is staring at him with a frown on his face.

“Are you okay? I should take it out, yeah?”

Kihyun shakes his head, which doesn’t do much to help his spinning head. “No, it’s okay.”

“Are you sure?” Minhyuk asks, and he’s technically not allowed to be so worried when he’s the dickhead who put it there in the first place, but Kihyun is exhausted and spent, and Minhyuk’s concern just feels like a warm blanket encasing him in a cosy little bubble.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m good. It would’ve been for nothing if I sat through all that and went up without seeing through it.” Kihyun’s voice returns to him despite still being a little rough, but it’s louder and more energetic now, and Minhyuk sighs in relief.

He helps him stand on his feet and he sways just a little, but nothing major, and he takes a few steps towards the building. Minhyuk helps him across for a bit, and then Kihyun tells him to leave, shooing him away with a wave of his arm.

“Go home. I’ll be okay.” Kihyun is by the intercom and presses on the button for the penthouse, and there is a scratchy sound on the other end, before Hyunwoo picks up.

“Hey I’m here!” Kihyun sounds happy, excited, even, and Minhyuk puts his mind to ease when Kihyun steps into the lift and waves goodbye at him.

What was there to worry? Kihyun is in good hands.

*****

Kihyun is slumped against the side of the lift as the door opens, and the place has nothing but extravagance written all over.

A humongous chandelier is the first accessory that greets him, and Kihyun grunts as he pushes himself away from the wall, taking tiny steps into the place.

It’s simple, and there are tall open glass windows from the ceiling to the ground, overlooking the bright lights of Seoul city. It’s well-lit, glowing with shine and glimmer, and most of the furniture is sleek and well-maintained. It looks like it’s barely been lived in, which is not much of a surprise considering Hyunwoo spends a lot of time in the office.

Steady footsteps padding over to him. Kihyun tries to keep his back straight, but the buzzing is rattling his brain in his skull, and Kihyun squirms in his own skin, trying his best to not crumple into an overstimulated pile in Hyunwoo’s living room.

“Hi. Sorry, I was just done with my shower and was replying to a couple of emails, I’ll just change into something and--”

Hyunwoo’s voice sounds like white noise, because Hyunwoo is there, his lower body wrapped up in a white towel, his upper body dry but naked, very naked, and his skin is tanned, unblemished. He's muscular.

Kihyun keens at the thought of his strong arms holding him tightly as he ruts into him and his face flushes red.

“You okay? Kihyun?” Hyunwoo is now right in front of him, hovering dangerously close, and Kihyun needs to keep a distance, or it’ll be way too easy to go on his knees and beg to be fucked and thrown around like a ragdoll.

Of course he takes a step backwards and trips on a platform, so he falls with a scream, his arms coming out in an attempt to balance himself, but it does little to help. Just as he’s expecting the slam against the ground, a large arm comes to wrap around his shoulder and he’s pulled into a very broad chest.

It’s musky, thick and intoxicating, and Kihyun’s legs go weak, Hyunwoo letting out a shout of worry as Kihyun collapses into his arms and onto the ground.

His breathing hasty, Kihyun feels the ends of his limbs tingling, sparks running along his arm as the vibrator quivers against his walls, and Kihyun makes a small throaty sound.

“Kihyun! Are you okay? I’ll call for an ambulance,” Hyunwoo’s voice is rushed, anxious, and Kihyun shakes his head fervently, his cheeks turning a shade of velvet. Hyunwoo looks so flustered, so much younger than his age, unlike his usual calm and collected self, and Kihyun finds his heart swelling at the concern.

“N-no, I’m not sick. I just--”

Hyunwoo waits patiently, though his brows are still furrowed in distress. Kihyun takes in a shallow breath, and leans a little easier into Hyunwoo’s hold. Shit, he’s not really thought this through, has he? How’s he going to explain the fact that he has a vibrator up his ass that was put in by his best friend, and can you take it out for me and fuck me while you’re at it, pretty please with a cherry on top?

The buzzing sound seems to echo in the silence, and Hyunwoo’s eyes are wide. He’s never looked younger than he does now, slightly unsettled, alarmed, many parts surprised. Kihyun wants to smile, but he’s also majorly embarrassed.

“What the hell’s that?” He whispers, knowing that it sounds sharper than a phone’s buzzing, and somehow, Kihyun thinks, somehow he already knows what it is, but he thought he might just ask anyway, to be sure.

“Uh.” Kihyun is at a loss of words, but then he shifts in Hyunwoo’s hold, and the vibrator lodges itself in a spot that makes his toes tingle, and Kihyun moans lewdly, throwing his head back as his eyes roll back into his skull.

He barely breathes when he realises just what he’s done, and Hyunwoo is staring at him goggle-eyed, his fingers coming to curl into Kihyun’s flesh.

Kihyun groans again before moving into a better position where the vibrator isn’t directly on his prostate, and then his eyelids flutter open gently, Hyunwoo’s eyes meeting his immediately. There is a pink sheen on Hyunwoo’s neck, spreading up to his cheeks, and Kihyun thinks he sees a glint in his eyes that upturns his insides.

“I, uh,” he says quietly on his exhales, panting slightly, even, “have a vibrator up my ass that I need you to help take out for me.”

Hyunwoo is silent, and Kihyun cocks his head backwards again as his walls squeeze around the vibrator, making him jump in surprise when Hyunwoo moves him into a cradle, and there is a look of determination on the older man’s face.

“Okay. Let’s get you somewhere comfortable.” Hyunwoo says this all without a single emotion, and Kihyun would be tempted to argue his lack of empathy, but his voice gurgles in his throat as his skin is set ablaze.

Pressed tightly against Hyunwoo’s bare chest, Kihyun feels like he’s not going to win this fight.

Hyunwoo’s arms are as useful as they appear, and Kihyun leans against him, burying his nose in the crook of his neck, arms coming around Hyunwoo’s neck. The older man doesn’t seem to even jump from the gesture, and he gets up from his crouch on the ground, Kihyun still secure in his hold.

Kihyun makes a low growling sound against Hyunwoo’s neck, and he feels the muscles in his shoulders tense. Good. That’s what he was going for.

Hyunwoo doesn’t comment on it, and focusses on getting Kihyun into his room. It’s very simple, just a large bed in the middle of the room with some dark sheets and duvets, a desk by the wall, and a bedside lamp that throws interesting shapes onto the ceiling.

Kihyun never would have thought Hyunwoo was the kind to buy lights that cast shapes on walls, but he’s apparently getting to know more about Hyunwoo, and this is the kind of information he wouldn’t exactly find on Wikipedia.

Hyunwoo is gentle despite his size, and he places Kihyun on the foot of the bed as gently as he can, still looking slightly disconcerted when Kihyun moans lightly as his ass touches the surface.

Hesitation is scribbled all across him, in his tense, awkward, outstretched arms, in his thoughtful half-grimace, in his semi-crouch towards Kihyun, and his gaze fluttering from Kihyun’s top to bottom, as if considering his choices.

Kihyun reaches out an arm with much effort, and he bites on his lower lip to stop another moan. Hyunwoo takes his hand in his, and shoots him a quizzical look.

Kihyun’s voice is soft, small, and makes Hyunwoo’s skin prickle with tiny little needles, a want, a request so eager in Kihyun’s eyes that makes Hyunwoo keel over for him. He was already heads over heels for this boy, and didn’t really need the extra push to send himself tumbling over into his trap.

“I asked for this. Can you please--” Kihyun has to take time away to gasp, and his cheeks are pink, translucent, his skin glowing from the inside out, warm to the touch. Hyunwoo has to remember to breathe. Kihyun is truly too beautiful for him, so overwhelmingly beautiful, that Hyunwoo finds trouble putting his beauty into words.

“Please take it out for me?” It is a whisper, but it might as well have been a plea. Earnestness flows through naturally, and Kihyun’s request is made a few pitches higher than his normal voice, sincere, ardent, almost frantic.

Hyunwoo’s knuckles come up to stroke at Kihyun’s cheek softly, and the younger boy moves into his touch, mewling at the warmth. He’s desperate for any sort of contact now, and the way Hyunwoo is so careful with him both frustrates and arouses him.

Truly, for a man who wielded power over all his subordinates, a man so tall and large, a man with a low booming voice, Hyunwoo is gentle, cautious, and caring.

“Please.” He begs now, his hips leaving the surface of the bed eagerly as Hyunwoo regards him with ambivalence.

“And you wanted this?” Hyunwoo murmurs quietly against his ear, making his hairs stand on their ends. Kihyun nods fiercely, Hyunwoo’s thumb on his cheek doing little to quell the desire burning in Kihyun. It burns brighter, higher, and inundates him fully when Hyunwoo leans in to kiss him on the side of his lips.

“Okay.” Hyunwoo’s voice is an exhale, and he stands back up, his gaze fixed on a squirming Kihyun, moaning softly as his clothes rustle from his movements. Hyunwoo reaches at Kihyun’s waistband, and a sigh escapes the boy’s lips when he pulls his pants down, his erection standing tall, throbbing red.

Hyunwoo visibly swallows at the sight, but he doesn’t comment on it, and places his hands on Kihyun’s hips. Flipping him around as gently as he can, he ignores Kihyun’s little cries as his cock presses against his stomach.

Hyunwoo’s breath is stuck in his throat. Kihyun’s ass is fair and fleshy, and he can’t help himself when he reaches forward to knead it between his two palms, smiling a little as Kihyun groans into his duvet.

He pulls his cheeks apart to see the piece of string lying there, and he tugs at it gently, eliciting a deafening ‘fuck!’ from Kihyun that makes the ends of his lips pull up. The boy seems to like it though, and Hyunwoo takes his own sweet time to drag the string out, occasionally pretending that it’s stuck as he lets it sit between Kihyun’s walls a little longer.

Finally getting the whole device out, Hyunwoo observes the sex toy for maybe longer than is required, oblivious to Kihyun’s panting beside him.

His eyes are blown wide when there are a pair of strong hands grabbing at his shoulders, and he’s pulled down to the bed. Kihyun’s eyes are half-lidded, lust clouding over his vision, but his exhales are loud and seductive, and his tiny sounds send signals right down to Hyunwoo’s crotch.

“Stop being such a tease, and just fuck me.” Kihyun’s voice is rough, but there is what Hyunwoo can only regard as relief in his eyes, his entire stance seemingly relaxed now that the vibrator is gone.

The words only serve to arouse him further, and Hyunwoo is once against surprised when Kihyun pulls him in for a kiss, his body flush against his own.

They kiss, messily, wet, inelegantly, and Hyunwoo reciprocates with equal ferocity, cupping Kihyun’s smaller face with his palms and feels his soft skin under his thumb.

“Shirt,” is all Hyunwoo manages to say between their hurried kisses, and Kihyun leans back, fingers at the hem of his shirt and he pulls it above his head. His lips find themselves attached to Hyunwoo’s again, hungry for more, and Hyunwoo can feel Kihyun’s fevered skin against his chest, Kihyun’s erection hard against his, with a towel in between.

Every single one of Hyunwoo’s touch seems to spark electricity that runs along Kihyun’s nervous system, and the way he holds him so close makes him want to combust. He grabs on eagerly to any piece of Hyunwoo he can find, the older man giving in wherever possible.

Kihyun’s fingers find their way to the edge of his towel, and with a mischievous gleam in his eyes, he tugs it off completely.

“Fuck.” Is what he says the minute he sees Hyunwoo’s erection, and his hand goes immediately to his own cock, pumping it once, twice, thrice. “Fuck,” he says again, closing his eyes, as if in disbelief, “you’re so big.”

And Hyunwoo is not one to compare sizes, but he will take it as a compliment when Kihyun says it, so he just chuckles as he pulls Kihyun in for more kisses, loving little pecks on his cheeks. He smiles when Kihyun shies away from them, and his heart grows full. Kihyun is truly a sugar baby with so many mysteries.

They kiss more on the lips, Hyunwoo becoming more daring as he reaches out to touch Kihyun’s bare chest, his thumb rubbing lightly over the boy’s nipples, and he grins when Kihyun arches his back like a bow, his moans amplified.

So Hyunwoo plays with him a little more, having never really found someone whose nipples were so sensitive, and he puts them in between his thumb and index finger, stroking them gently. Kihyun’s voice is deafening as his nails bite in Hyunwoo’s shoulder, and when Hyunwoo bends down to lick a strip over Kihyun’s nipple, the groans in response are extremely rewarding.

His entire frame shaking, Kihyun has to beg for Hyunwoo to stop playing with his chest, and to ‘fuck me well’ instead. Hyunwoo gulps. He wants this, so badly, Kihyun in a mess, a folded pile of overstimulated limbs and the epitome of beauty and lust, yet he’s still so careful.

Fuck, it isn’t even like Hyunwoo to second-guess his choices and sidestep away so quickly from wanting to give in to his desires. He was rich, he was powerful; Hyunwoo was a man who was capable of acceding to any of his wants and desires without a second thought.

Yet here he is, being offered what can be the only thing that’s been on his mind since his first kiss with Kihyun, and he’s hesitating. Why, he doesn’t understand, but he supposes it’s somewhere along the lines of him being completely smitten, and not wanting to cross boundaries he’s not allowed to, for fear of losing Kihyun.

Losing a sugar baby. That’s never been a scarier thought until now. Until now, he had always understood how people needed to move on to better lives, and that the relationship was as disposable as the parties were to each other.

“Kihyun.” He puts on his most serious voice, and he can sense a note of alarm in Kihyun. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

Kihyun breathes heavy, his frame still shaking. “God damn it, Son Hyunwoo. It’s the only thing I’ve been sure of since the moment I laid my eyes on you.”

Hyunwoo is… surprised. He hadn’t known that those were Kihyun’s intentions in the first place too.

“Please just do me a favour,” Kihyun’s voice is raspy, “stop thinking, start doing.”

And Hyunwoo heeds his advice as he kisses him with all the force he has in him, bruising Kihyun’s lips in the process, and the taste of mint lingers on his tongue. He doesn’t think Kihyun would ever be able to rid himself of the hint of grease on him, but Hyunwoo is intoxicated, and he couldn’t care less.

He manhandles Kihyun -- only because it’s easier -- to position him by the head of the bed, and Kihyun seems to know the drill as he reaches backwards to grab onto the headboard. There’s something in that that makes Hyunwoo’s heart swell, and he thinks he’s just so adorable, so special, so he kisses him again as he reaches out sideways to the drawer in the bedside table.

Kihyun lets him, smiling as Hyunwoo kisses him gently like he’s fragile, kisses him messily like he loses himself in his presence.

A familiar rustle of a package, and Hyunwoo pulls away to present a condom and a bottle of lube.

“Strawberry?” Kihyun asks, like he’s asking what fruit they’re having after dinner, and Hyunwoo somehow finds amusement in how casual he is. “Yeah,” he says, putting the bottle near Kihyun’s nose, and the boy takes a large whiff, before breaking into a grin. “My favourite.”

“Glad to know,” Hyunwoo comments lightly, appreciating just how relaxed they are, though the enthusiasm is still evident in Kihyun’s eyes, an underlying pulse still thrumming between the two of them.

Hyunwoo has both his thighs on either side of Kihyun, and the boy removes a hand from the headboard to wrap it around Hyunwoo’s cock. He pumps it slowly, once, twice, rubs his thumb across the wet head, and stares at it eagerly as the erection seems to swell under his touch.

Humming lightly in approval, Kihyun strokes Hyunwoo’s cock again, noticing the way Hyunwoo bites on his lower lip, and he chuckles. “It’s okay to feel good, you know,” he says, and Hyunwoo agrees mutely with just a nod, before he peels Kihyun’s fingers away and rolls the condom on.

“I’m prepped.” Kihyun says quietly, and Hyunwoo nods again, dipping his fingers into the bottle of lube anyway.

“No one ever complained about more prepping,” he states, and pushes a finger into Kihyun slowly. The boy wraps his fingers around the headboard, and his breathing hastens.

A second finger, and Hyunwoo pumps Kihyun’s erection as he fucks him shallowly, drinking in the way Kihyun’s blush runs across his entire chest, his moans climbing in volume out of sheer desperation.

Third finger, and Hyunwoo drives it deeper, enjoying the way Kihyun wriths under his administrations, his lips slightly apart as he whispers Hyunwoo’s name, coupled with a little pleases.

“You’re doing so well. So pretty.” Hyunwoo says lowly, and Kihyun whines at the compliment, his back arching up in want.

“So good, baby.”

Kihyun keens at the pet name, Hyunwoo sounding gruffy and rough, and he feels his toes tingle in delight. Tears find their way down his temple as Hyunwoo continues to tease him, short appendages barely enough to satisfy, but doing their job at stimulating his senses.

“Please, Hyunwoo!” He cries aloud, his voice breaking into sobs as Hyunwoo pulls his fingers out, and then there is a warm embrace holding him together. “Sorry for teasing you. You just look so pretty, baby, so riled up, so ready for me, I couldn’t help it.”

And Kihyun thinks he can forgive Hyunwoo for any more teasing he does to him, if all he ever said was that.

Kihyun wants so badly to be the pretty baby, ready for Hyunwoo, soaking in compliments, so he whines softly in Hyunwoo’s grip, letting the older man soothe him, calm him, coo at him. Hyunwoo’s care makes Kihyun moan some more, and Hyunwoo finally pulls away, Kihyun looking at him through wet eyes.

“You good for me, baby?”

Kihyun nods, doesn’t know if he finds it in himself to say anything, but then he finds the words, sudden coherence in his mind. “Ready for you, Daddy.”

And there is a snap that goes off in Hyunwoo’s brain. Technically he is Kihyun’s sugar daddy, and to have the blushing, crying, soft boy calling him out with a leaking erection and making grabby hands, Hyunwoo feels both protective and destructive.

He wants to shelter Kihyun from the vices of the world, while at the same time ruin him into tiny little pieces with the amount of strength he has in him, taint his innocent little mouth, draw lines on his fair unblemished skin.

He moves quickly, lithe, and his hands hook below Kihyun’s knees, and he pulls them up to above his shoulder. His hands find their way back on Kihyun’s hips, cementing into position, and he stares as Kihyun looks back at him with starry eyes.

He’s such a lovable boy, Hyunwoo thinks.

Holding onto his erection firmly, Hyunwoo guides himself to Kihyun’s hole, and it contracts slightly out of anticipation. Hyunwoo breathes, and with a final look of affirmation, he pushes in.

The crown of his cock moves past the muscles quickly, and Kihyun’s voice dies in his throat, only capable of making loud humming sounds as his nails dig into the headboard. Hyunwoo keeps him in place, breaching his muscles slowly, and Kihyun’s walls relax around him gradually.

Hyunwoo’s cock sits at its hilt, and Kihyun’s breathing is laboured. His eyes squeezed shut, the boy’s shoulders are tense and his whole frame is rigid. Hyunwoo rubs soothing circles in his hips, which alleviates it only slightly, and they wait. Kihyun tries to focus on relaxing, and he cracks open an eye to see Hyunwoo looking down at him with nothing but patience and affection in his gaze, and he lets out a sigh.

It must have been less than a minute, and Kihyun grinds his ass against Hyunwoo’s thighs, the older man chuckling lightly at his sign of approval. So he keeps his hands on Kihyun’s hips, and rolls his hips before pulling out, driving back in with swift, stuttered motions.

Kihyun yelps, the bed shaking and trembling as he’s being sent closer to the head of the bed, his whole body moved along to Hyunwoo’s thrusts, the tip of his cock ramming into his walls repeatedly in short and quick movements.

The headboard rattles as Kihyun is pushed along with it, his moans deafening as Hyunwoo grunts while buckling his hips, fast and exact. Kihyun begs, loud cries escaping his lips as Hyunwoo accedes, picking up speed as he prods into him.

Then he slows down, long drags where he pulls out his cock, and Kihyun sobs for more. Hyunwoo almost pulls out completely before he pushes in again in one fluid motion, and Kihyun comes undone, shattering under his impact, crying out Hyunwoo’s name.

“You’re so fucking pretty, baby.”

Kihyun moans, holding himself by the headboard as an anchor as he pushes himself against Hyunwoo, desperate for more.

“Your little hole is taking all of my cock in, baby, look, you’re doing so well. You like it?” Hyunwoo’s voice is dripping with honey despite the dirty talk, and Kihyun absolutely loves it. He screams ‘yes, Daddy, I love it so much’ as he grinds himself deeper against Hyunwoo, needing him to drive himself in some more.

“God, baby.” Hyunwoo reaches down to kiss him as Kihyun’s legs are folded so that his knees touch his chest, and Kihyun is hungry, eager, desperate to cum. He shivers in delight as Hyunwoo’s thumb runs over his nipples in between his kisses, his ruts intense, shaking Kihyun from the core.

When Hyunwoo’s warm and large hands come to wrap around Kihyun’s cock, he knows he’s done for. His back is arched at an unbelievable angle, and Hyunwoo is still holding him down, holding him together, and God knows just how long he’s waited to cum. With his best puppy eyes, Kihyun stares at Hyunwoo, seeing the older man’s forehead dripping with perspiration as he thrusts into Kihyun.

“Daddy, can I cum, please?” He asks, and moans right after the question when Hyunwoo pushes into a place that makes his teeth chatter, his fingertips go numb, his brain turning to mush.

Hyunwoo is relentless, focussing on that spot and that spot only, and Kihyun calls out for help, calls out to cum, calls out for Hyunwoo’s name, again and again, sandwiched in between calls for Daddy, which leads to even fiercer thrusts.

“Yes, baby, you can cum. Cum a lot for Daddy.” His voice is a mix between a groan and a moan, and while he isn’t exactly coherent as he mumbles his words, Kihyun knows an approval when he’s given one.

So he rocks himself against Hyunwoo’s thighs, desperate for gratification, and then Hyunwoo drives it in further, and he unfurls. His whole body shaking, his thighs quivering from the sheer force of his orgasm, Kihyun cums, thick pearly white strings coming to paint his stomach as he cries out for Hyunwoo again.

Hyunwoo continues in his endeavour, holding Kihyun down into the bed as he thrusts deeper into him, feeling Kihyun’s walls constrict as he cums, and then he too, comes undone, shooting his load in the condom, his thigh muscles tightening as he orgasms.

He takes a mental screenshot of Kihyun’s head thrown back in bliss as he cums, his back arched like a bow, his scream for Hyunwoo’s name, his crimson red skin, lips slightly apart.

*****

They are all cleaned up, and Kihyun is very close to drifting into dreamland. Hyunwoo’s skin is warm to the touch, and they barely exchange any words after their round of debauchery.

But he doesn’t sleep. Kihyun has something important he needs to tell Hyunwoo that can’t wait till tomorrow, so he just curls deeper into Hyunwoo’s embrace, the older man only wrapping his arms around him tighter.

“Hyunwoo?”

“Mm, baby?”

Kihyun’s face flushes again at the pet name, and Hyunwoo grows a little panicked. “Sorry. Should I not have called you that? I mean--”

Kihyun shakes his head, buries his face in Hyunwoo’s chest. “No. I like it a lot. I’m just… embarrassed.”

Hyunwoo lets out a sigh of relief. “That’s good. You don’t need to be embarrassed.”

Kihyun nods, his chin digging into Hyunwoo’s muscle. “And you don’t need to always be so careful around me. I’ll tell you if there’s a problem with what you’re doing, or if I’m not comfortable with anything. Please, just do what you like, and don’t treat me like I’m glass. I’m okay.”

Hyunwoo is mildly abashed at having thought of Kihyun as someone breakable with the slightest force, someone brittle or frail. He really should have known better; the boy has experienced so much hardship from just coping with uni and work that he would be anything but delicate.

He thinks about all the times in the past where he’s handled Kihyun with kid gloves, and imagine it would be a teensy bit annoying for the younger boy. He thanks him for his tolerance.

Kihyun remains silent for another few moments, and then he speaks up, though the uncertainty weighs heavy in his tone, and Hyunwoo hugs him closer, just in case.

“So. You know, you’ve met Minhyuk.”

“Yeah.”

“What do you think of him?” He seems nervous for some reason Hyunwoo cannot comprehend.

“He’s nice. Treats you well. Friendly. Very kind.” None of these are lies, but Hyunwoo doesn’t understand why it’s important to put labels on Kihyun’s best friend now.

“I don’t -- there’s something I need to tell you about Minhyuk.”

Hyunwoo pulls away just slightly to look him in the eyes, but Kihyun is averting his gaze. Something’s up.

“Okay…?”

Kihyun takes in a deep breath, and looks back down at nothing in particular, before he stares right up at Hyunwoo, who just frowns a little at all this suspense.

“He and I. We’re friends with benefits. We fuck, all the time. In fact, just a little bit before I came up to your apartment, I sucked him off in his car.”

Hyunwoo looks at Kihyun, and blinks.

“Okay, and…?”

Kihyun stares. “What do you mean ‘and’? That’s it; we fuck, and we do that now, even with our arrangement.” Kihyun looks so worried, his pretty little almond eyes all squinty and serious, his brows furrowing together in confusion, and Hyunwoo just laughs.

Kihyun looks at him in incredulity, and Hyunwoo just pulls Kihyun back in with another chuckle escaping him.

“Did you think I wouldn’t know from how the both of you act with each other? He reaches out for you and cares for you, puts his arms around and on you, and you ease into his touch so comfortably.”

Kihyun stills. He doesn't know what to say, teetering between wanting to thank Hyunwoo for his generosity, and feeling guilty for giving Hyunwoo less credit for his observance, for thinking that Hyunwoo -- kind, polite, eager Hyunwoo -- would possibly terminate their agreement because he sleeps with his flatmate.

He settles for silence, and Hyunwoo smiles as his fingers card through Kihyun’s soft hair. “The pictures you sent me on the website. It was obvious the photographer was someone dear to you for you to smile like that. You entrust him with a piece of yourself. I could tell.”

Kihyun buries his face in the crook of his neck, his cheeks warm. He hadn’t noticed just how obvious he was with Minhyuk. Sure, they were close and touchy-feely, and maybe they often gave people the wrong impression of being boyfriends, but for Hyunwoo to have thought that from just pictures was a little alarming.

It’s not a bad thing; he likes Minhyuk -- a lot -- and he doesn’t mind it, but to have assumed Hyunwoo to be an oblivious buffoon seems more than a little rude.

“Also, you might not remember, but the first time we met for dinner, you had this huge hickey on your neck. It wasn’t difficult to put two and two together.” Hyunwoo chuckles, and Kihyun wants to laugh along with him, but only guilt eats him up alive, his cheeks a light shade of pink.

Hyunwoo sort of gets the idea that Kihyun doesn't want to speak, though still slightly confused at what had sparked it in the first place -- maybe he's fallen asleep, but no, his eyes are still wide open and he's staring at Hyunwoo’s chest.

He sighs, and Kihyun sighs along with him, soft, his eyes fluttering open and shut indecisively. “That's what I went for in the contract, you know. I want to try to give you as much freedom as I was comfortable with, and I was surprised when you suggested to change the clause on not having any other sugar daddies. I didn't want to stipulate anything about your sexual relationships with other people. I knew how important Minhyuk was to you, Jooheon as well, from how you kept mentioning them during our first meeting.”

Yep, Kihyun has definitely gave Hyunwoo too little credit for being observant.

“Hey,” Hyunwoo whispers, lips pressed against Kihyun’s scalp, taking in a light floral scent from his shampoo, “Are you okay?”

“Mm?” Kihyun looks up, eyes met with Hyunwoo’s cleanly shaved chin, and he breathes, pressing a kiss near his adam’s apple. “Yeah. I’m sorry, that’s all.”

Hyunwoo looks half amused, half baffled. “What? Why?”

“Just. I didn’t think you would have noticed. It felt like you would be completely clueless if I never came clean about anything, and I felt like I was letting you down, for not being honest. Then I felt bad, because I played out the many different ways this could end; maybe you would kick me out, terminate the contract, fly to the other end of the planet so you wouldn’t see me. I took you to be an insensitive, heartless bastard.”

Hyunwoo laughs. “I’m not surprised you think I’m unobservant or obtuse. I tend to give off that impression.” He smiles, kisses Kihyun on the tip of his nose, and pulls him closer to himself. “Besides, it’s not like we’ve known each other for years like you and Minhyuk know each other. I hardly think you know me well enough to not make assumptions.”

Hyunwoo listens to the way Kihyun lets out a shaky breath, and he curls his fingers into Kihyun’s hair, soft and smooth to the touch. The boy trembles slightly when Hyunwoo’s cold fingers hit his scalp, and his hold around Hyunwoo’s torso tightens.

“I tend to get all up in my brain. Sorry if I sometimes jump to conclusions.” Kihyun’s voice is tiny, weaker than the soft buzzing of Hyunwoo’s mini bar fridge in his room, and Hyunwoo almost doesn’t catch it. He buries his chin further into Kihyun’s hair and sighs.

“This is nice,” he announces, and Kihyun cannot help but laugh, even though his eyelids are getting heavy, and he yawns.

It is getting pretty late (or early), and he’s kind of spent from his previous activities. His face turns a little hot at the memory, and Hyunwoo must have noticed, because he just chortles and holds onto Kihyun tighter, like he’s afraid he’ll float off in the next second.

“God, you’re so adorable.” His voice is deep but soothing, and Kihyun’s face burns from his remark, his insides warm. Hyunwoo laughs again, nuzzling against the scratchy bits of Kihyun’s hair. They don’t talk for another short while, the silence comforting and easy. “So, what sparked this?” Hyunwoo’s voice sounds deafening when he suddenly speaks, making Kihyun jump.

The older man apologises when Kihyun’s eyes shoot open in surprise, and looks as his shoulders relax back into the space. “What sparked what?”

“You know, you walking into my apartment with a vibrator in your ass. What sparked that?”

Kihyun reddens, his entire neck turning a light shade of pink, and Hyunwoo just chuckles, holds him closer in his arms.

He thinks he’s so precious, completely infatuated with how Kihyun blushes hard when he’s embarrassed and shy, and yet his voice produces the most enticing moans, restraint and reservation completely out the window in the heat of the moment.

“Well, I got your text to come over, and went for a shower, and Minhyuk thought it was a good idea to slip in and shove a vibrator up my ass. I came four times before even entering your apartment.” Kihyun winces as he explains, and truthfully, it sounds a lot less tasteful now that he has to put the story into words.

Hyunwoo guffaws, and he smiles a little at the idea of Kihyun having cummed five times tonight, but he doesn’t probe.

“I didn’t know you were into toys,” Hyunwoo comments, hiking up an eyebrow, and Kihyun chuckles, his whole body shaking.

“Well, to be fair, this is the first time we’ve fucked? I didn’t think I ever seized the opportunity to tell you what kind of sex I liked.” He rolls his eyes a little at this, his snide sarcastic remark snips at Hyunwoo, but the older man just laughs, wraps his arms tighter around his small frame.

“Looks like I have Minhyuk to thank, then,” he says, large palms roaming down the small of his back, settling on the bottom of his spine, quick fingers strumming on the skin. He kisses the top of Kihyun’s head. “Guess who’s never letting Minhyuk out of your life? He sent you here with a hard-on, all prepped for me. I should buy this boy more gifts.”

Kihyun scowls. It’s not a flattering look, but Hyunwoo is a little too smitten, so he just finds it cute. “Yeah, alright, buy gifts for the guy who pretty much delivered me over like a lusty parcel, because it’s not like I was the one who did all the work, right?” he comments dryly, and Hyunwoo just laughs.

“I’ll buy many more gifts for the lusty parcel, if you’re complaining. Also, from memory, I was the one who did all the work.”

A light punch on his chest, Hyunwoo holding on to the spot he’s just hit, faking pain. “I’m tired, okay? I’ve had a long shift at work and I’m quitting my job in two weeks, and then cummed four times before even stepping into your place.”

Hyunwoo doesn’t reply to that, doesn’t sound surprised at Kihyun’s notification of quitting his job. He just starts carding his fingers through Kihyun’s black locks again, his fingertips pressing into his scalp as Kihyun lets out a breathy sigh.

“Hey.”

“Yeah?” Kihyun’s drifting off to sleep again, the sheer force of the mental burden and the repeated orgasms sucking all the energy out of him, and Hyunwoo is massaging his scalp with just the right amount of pressure, easing his headache slowly.

“Since you quit McDonald’s, have you thought about a career change?”

“Mm?” Kihyun furrows his eyebrows, sleepy, disoriented.

“What do you think about ‘cowboy’ as a career?”

Kihyun frowns deeper, utterly confused from his preposition. Cowboy? They’re not in Texas, or America, for that matter, and -- Oh.

Kihyun’s eyes blink open and he pulls away. He full on punches Hyunwoo in the arm now, the older man just yelping at how much damage his little fists can inflict, and Kihyun is glowering, but his ears are red and a thin sheen of pink is dusted across his cheeks.

“Okay, okay, sorry! You looked so stressed out; I thought I’d lighten the mood.” Hyunwoo pulls Kihyun in before smacking kisses on his forehead, Kihyun still glaring at Hyunwoo’s chest, but it’s all in good fun.

And then Hyunwoo is back to running his fingers through his hair, a few expert presses, and Kihyun is lulled into dreamland, the warmth of Hyunwoo’s broad frame encapsulating him.

Chapter Text

Hyunwoo has seen a lot of great sceneries, beautiful sights, lovely views, but he thinks looking at Kihyun unravel might just become his Top 1. Kihyun is heaving tiredly, his chest still pressed against the lush sheets, tears and drool pooling at the base of his chin and he whines softly when Hyunwoo pulls him up, but he doesn’t put up much of a fight.

“You’re so pretty,” Hyunwoo breathes against his neck and Kihyun shivers, even if his senses are dulled and numbed after the overwhelming stimulation, and he pants lightly.

“You really like it,” Hyunwoo states, matter-of-factly, and Kihyun barely nods, but he really does like it. He relishes in the compliment, and then the glow of the pride that comes after the compliment washes through him, and he grins, goofy, happy, satiated.

“Have I fucked you silly?” Hyunwoo asks, feels that this resembles more and more like a monologue, but while Kihyun is dead beat, his mouth is still smart.

“You wish you had that much game.” He catches his breath as he says this, an obvious contradiction to the point he’s trying to make, but Hyunwoo doesn’t take offence, instead opts to push his wet fringe away from his eyes and kisses him on his nose.

They’ve woken up in each other’s arms, and it seemed only natural for them to go for Round Two, this time Kihyun bent over the end of the bed as Hyunwoo ruts into him, his heart thumping violently to the beat of Kihyun’s moans.

It had been a clutter of deep throaty groans from Hyunwoo and deafening shouts from Kihyun as they both came.

Hyunwoo pulls him up and into his arms, cuddling him up close, and lets Kihyun drift back into a delirious state of half-consciousness while he reaches for the box of tissues on the bedside table and wipes him down.

Kihyun mumbles something about being sticky, and Hyunwoo coos at him, tells him that it’s still early, that it’s only 6AM, that baby you get some shut eye, and we can bathe first thing in the morning.

Kihyun seems to be satisfied with the response and nods off, his forehead pressed against Hyunwoo’s collarbone, his entire torso curled into Hyunwoo’s warm touch.

Waking up to Kihyun pressed flush against his chest is his second favourite thing, Hyunwoo decides, not that he’s keeping a list or anything.

The peaceful rise and fall of his chest, the way he worries a small piece of his lower lip between his teeth, and how he trembles ever so slightly when he rouses, but not quite. Hyunwoo counts the spaces between each lash, and then the small spots forming intricate patterns on his pale skin, resisting the urge to kiss every single one of them.

It happens, always. Hyunwoo always falls head first, hard, slams his skull against the rough edges of a sugar baby, but he never hurts. He loves them all, his heart aching with affection, and then more as he gets to know them.

Who says it can’t be love just because you bought it? Hyunwoo is a big fan of the commodification of everything, and lucky him, he’s got the cash to make his point, and Kihyun is a lovely little thing that Hyunwoo is more than happy to pamper.

He stirs, just a little, and Hyunwoo’s breath hitches in his throat when his eyelids flutter open, his long lashes fanned across his eyebags in successive stuttered motions.

Hyunwoo is tired of using only the words ‘pretty’ or ‘beautiful’ to describe Kihyun, but he can’t really help it. The way Kihyun stretches his arms and legs out like a lazy kitten, his almond eyes cracking open slowly to reveal deep brown eyes, is a gorgeous image that burns in Hyunwoo’s mind.

He doesn’t resist the temptation to press a kiss against Kihyun’s thin lips, and the boy furrows his brows a little at the sudden gesture. Hyunwoo laughs.

“Morning, Sleeping Beauty,” he murmurs against his lips, and the ends of Kihyun’s lips pull up. He chuckles at the tickle of Hyunwoo’s breath against his cupid’s bow.

“Hello.” Kihyun opens his eyes slowly, and Hyunwoo smiles so wide he feels his face might split into two. Drowsiness still clings onto Kihyun like a thin film, and the air is heavy with the scent of sex from just a few hours ago.

“I wasn’t dreaming about waking up at 5AM to fuck, right?” Kihyun asks, scrunching his nose up at the smell, and Hyunwoo throws his head back to laugh.

“I sure hope not; you seemed like you enjoyed yourself.”

Kihyun closes his eyes for a few seconds, and his eyelids flitter again. “Yeah, okay, I remember it now. I did enjoy it.” He smiles warmly, reminiscing the memory of Hyunwoo holding his hips in place as he thrusted into him deeply, prodding mercilessly against his walls as he screamed.

“That’s good. I’m glad you liked it.” Hyunwoo wraps his bulky arms around Kihyun, and while he looks like he could potentially break the younger boy in two, his large, awkward hands come around him gently, holding him like he were a butterfly in the centre of his palm.

Kihyun snuggles closer to him, humming lightly under his breath, and they stay there for a few moments, the morning light seeping through the dark curtains and onto their naked frames.

The sun rays fall onto Kihyun’s features softly, accentuating the sharp edge of his jaw, the tall bridge of his nose, the round fleshiness of his cheeks. Hyunwoo cannot help but sigh. He looks divine, his sublime beauty absolutely blinding, and Hyunwoo has to squint to look at him properly.

He grapples with himself for a second, tries to wonder what it would have been like if he hadn’t saw Kihyun’s listing on the site, if Kihyun hadn’t accepted his advances, if Minhyuk hadn’t given him a vibrator and sent him here all prepared.

Things would have been so different if he had used the time that evening to read up on the Business Times instead of surfing BizDads, if Kihyun had decided to not reply to his messages or turn up to The Continental.

There were so many variables, so many what ifs and maybes, that Hyunwoo finds comfort in knowing that the only reason why he is here with the stunning boy in his arms, is Fate.

He’s not a believer of horoscopes, nor does he think highly of greater powers in the skies that manipulate them like puppets. Hyunwoo believes that Man creates his own Fate, though the way he and Kihyun fall perfectly in place like well-matched pieces of a jigsaw puzzle brings about a chain of reactions superseded by a single thought: he’s glad he didn’t do any of it differently.

It could have just been a little tweak of his finger, a little shake of his head that could have changed everything, and with Kihyun all bundled up in his embrace, Hyunwoo wouldn’t trade it for the world.

He starts thinking about why Kihyun seems to hold such a special place in his heart, then he stops thinking, because it’s dangerous to delve too deep into the reasons behind his affections. Hyunwoo knows when to stop digging where it hurts.

Instead he focusses on Kihyun’s inhales and exhales, observes how his eyes roll beneath his eyelids, and how there is a tug at the end of his pretty lips.

“Why are you pretending to sleep? Open your eyes, lazybum.”

“No.” Kihyun hides his face in Hyunwoo’s chest, and the older man just laughs, his body shaking as he does. It’s peaceful. Hyunwoo’s penthouse is too high up for the cicadas’ song to reach, for the birds to chirp.

Kihyun’s cheek is flat against his chest, and Hyunwoo fears Kihyun might hear the deafening way his heart is racing. When he picks the smaller boy up into his arms to coax him into a bath with him, Hyunwoo knows that this is what dreams are made of.

*****

It’s Wednesday, and Kihyun has already pulled through 4 hours of his 8-hour shift, another 4 hours he isn’t looking forward to, because Big Boss is coming into the office today, and he’s going to have his ear talked off of him.

His boss can be such a persistent man, insisting that Kihyun stays longer at least until he finds someone to replace both him and Jung. But after the case with the frozen patty customer, another middle-aged man had found his way to the counter and complained about the ice cream machine being down again.

Look, it’s nobody’s fault that the damn machine is always faulty, okay? Kihyun kept the rage toward his customer in mind when Big Boss stepped in with a new day’s hope of convincing Kihyun to stay, and shut him down effectively.

“I’m already doing you a favour here, Boss. You know I work casual, and I could have just disappeared off the face of Earth without giving you any time.”

“I get that, Kihyun, but--”

“I just can’t cope. I’m sorry.”

That was the end of that discussion, but as Kihyun pops himself two tabs of paracetamol, he can’t help but feel like it wasn’t the end of all discussion.

Realising that he was going nowhere with his persuasion, Big Boss has opted for a different tactic, though Kihyun isn’t sure how lashing out at Kihyun when he’s doing his job is supposed to be helping his case.

But after a few rounds of nitpicking at how slow he is with the drive thru orders and how he hadn’t supervised a newer employee well enough that resulted in a batch of very charred fries, Kihyun is on his break and his head is pounding.

He has every mind to throw his nametag on the cashier counter and storm out, but he won’t give the man the satisfaction of riling him up.

Hold it in, Kihyun-ah, just a little less than two weeks.

His phone buzzes in his jeans pocket, and he fishes it out, smiling a little when he sees the name.

He’s been talking a lot more with Hyunwoo now that the older man had managed to seal a big contract for the company, and with less negotiations going on, Hyunwoo had more time to chatter mindlessly with him over the phone.

“What’s up, Big Guy?” Kihyun greets the minute he picks up, and there’s a familiar chuckle from the other end that makes his insides feel warm.

“I hate that greeting.”

Kihyun laughs. “Would you prefer if I called you Daddy, then?” He whispers the name into the phone for fear of a colleague standing around, but his worries are for nothing. Hyunwoo, on the other hand, groans in resignation. “I’m in the office.”

He bats his eyelids, even if Hyunwoo can’t see him. He imagines Hyunwoo can visualise the smug grin on his face. “What’s wrong, Daddy? I can’t call you that when you’re in the office?”

Another pained groan. Kihyun laughs. “You just like making life difficult for me, don’t you?”

Kihyun clicks his tongue in disapproval, his head shaking making rustling sounds in the receiver. “How can you say that? It’s not my fault you have a daddy kink.”

Hyunwoo laughs, exasperated. “It’s your fault for using it against me.” There’s a slamming sound on the other side, and Kihyun hears the soft click of a lock. He cheers, teasing, and Hyunwoo doesn’t know what else to do other than laugh.

“You’re fucking impossible.”

Kihyun sniffs. “Says the man who’s about to jerk off in his office just because I called him Daddy.” He presses his lips together, and guffaws when he hears the surprise in Hyunwoo’s response. “You’re not looking at me in my office right now, are you?”

He huffs. “Did you think I was going to just let you get yourself off if I were there?”

A muted clanking of metal. Hyunwoo breathes into the receiver, and Kihyun pushes himself deeper into a chair. “What would you do if you were here?”

“Mm, maybe I’ll start off by pumping your half-hard erection?”

Hyunwoo exhales. “You would?”

“Mmm, I would.” Kihyun takes another furtive glance around him, and realises that no one else is going on a break. He has exactly ten minutes to get Hyunwoo off before he has to get back to work. “I’ll wrap my plump little fingers around your cock. I’d like it a lot, maybe give it a lick at the top?”

Hyunwoo’s thumb swipes past the leaking tip and he moans lewdly. “Then what would you do?”

Kihyun hums, as if thinking. “I’d like the taste, so I’ll probably go for more. You know, put my lips around the crown? Suck on it a little?”

He sighs, and he slips his own fingers past his lips and into his warm, hot mouth. He sucks on it gently, the sound going straight to Hyunwoo’s erection as he wraps his hands around himself, imagining the warmth of Kihyun’s tiny mouth.

“Mmm, you’d taste so good. So big for me. Too big.” Kihyun is whispering by now, and as he puts three whole fingers into his mouth, he sucks, his cheeks hollowing, the sounds from his sloppy movements erotic and indelicate.

Hyunwoo can almost feel his fingers running through Kihyun’s black locks, tugging at his hair tightly as the boy looks up at him with his pretty almond eyes. His fingers come around his cock tighter and he pushes a moan past his lips, Kihyun gaining motivation from his obscene sounds.

He then pushes his fingers further down until it reaches the back of his throat, and then he gags, and Hyunwoo’s breathing is laboured on the phone, his grunts fractured and shaky. Kihyun pulls his fingers out for a while and sighs, breathing heavy as well. “My fingers around your balls. Rubbing on them as I suck some more. It feels so nice, Daddy. You would tug at my hair until I scream, wouldn’t you? I’ll scream against your cock, and you’ll tell me I’m such a good boy.”

Hyunwoo swallows. He can barely keep up with the deafening thumps in his head, but he finds coherence in this moment. “Mmm, Kihyun-ah, you’re such a good boy.”

The boy beams into the phone, feeling his own pants constrict around his crotch. “Yeah? I’m a good boy, Daddy?”

“The best boy. So pretty. Your sparkling eyes looking up at me. You take me in so well, baby.”

“Of course I do, Daddy.” He puts his fingers back into his mouth and continues to make slurping sounds, and Hyunwoo buckles his hips into his large hand to its rhythm.

“I’d kiss you so hard you can’t think, baby. I want to fuck you so bad. Hear you only call for me.”

Kihyun hums approvingly, nodding his head as he hears Hyunwoo’s voice escalate, his groans growingly deafening, so much so that he almost has to pull his phone away from his ear, and Kihyun can hear how his groans turn into growls, and he knows he’s close.

“I want you to cum into my pretty little mouth, Daddy. I’ve been a good boy, right?”

Hyunwoo grunts in agreement. “Wonderful boy.”

“Cum for me, then, Daddy. Into my mouth. I’ll swallow.”

“Yeah? You’d swallow for Daddy?”

Kihyun breathes hard. “As many times as you want.”

And Hyunwoo pumps his cock so hard his bare ass leaves his chair, his thighs shaking as he imagines fucking Kihyun’s mouth, holding him by the back of his head as he skull-fucks him, the boy taking him in with tears in his eyes.

“Fuck.” He says quietly as he cums, emitting a loud moan as he spills his load on his hand, his hips still rocking desperately into the friction.

Kihyun grins, wiping his fingers on his apron as he leans back into his chair, realising that he has all but two minutes left of his break. He relishes in the way Hyunwoo comes back down from his high with soft curses and deep breathing, and he tries his best to ignore how his pants are tightening.

“You okay there?” Kihyun asks cheekily, knowing Hyunwoo is still trying to regain his cool after getting off to Kihyun’s voice over the phone. The older man just chuckles tiredly.

They stay there for a few more moments of silence, Kihyun listening to Hyunwoo grunt as he reaches over to grab some tissues, Hyunwoo content with knowing that Kihyun’s still on the other end.

And then without warning, Hyunwoo says, “I miss you.”

Today isn’t one of their scheduled days to meet, and Kihyun does sort of have an assignment that’s due in about three days that he should really start working on.

Kihyun feels warmth filling him up all the way to his chest, and he breaks into a wide smile that Hyunwoo isn’t there to witness. “So do I.” It feels strange that he had entered this agreement with it being a job in mind, and now he finds himself wanting to spend more and more time with Hyunwoo outside his rostered hours.

“When do you knock off? I want to see you today,” Hyunwoo responses softly, and Kihyun squirms in his seat. “In another two hours.”

Hyunwoo sits back up in his chair, and glances at his watch. “Well, I’ll see you at 8PM, and bring you to have something to eat before coming back to my apartment. We can deduct the hours off next week, or if you want, I’ll just pay you extra?”

He doesn’t admit to anyone, not even himself, that his face falls just a little at the mention of money. But he regains himself quickly -- that’s just what this is at the end of the day, isn’t it? He should stop feeling weird about it.

“You can pay me extra. I don’t mind. Can I do my assignment at yours, though?”

Hyunwoo smiles, even if Kihyun can’t see him. “You can do whatever you want here.”

His eyes widening, the boy’s gaze changes into one of mischief. “Yeah? I want to order lobster to the door, with a side of champagne.”

Hyunwoo laughs as he buckles his belt back up. “If that’s what you wish.”

He chuckles. “Oh yeah, I forgot you were made of money. That doesn’t sound like much of a challenge now.”

Hyunwoo full-on guffaws, wondering just how ridiculous the university student can get. But he supposes that’s part of his charm, and Hyunwoo is stuck into the black hole known as Yoo Kihyun with no way to return.

*****

Kihyun can barely feel his legs anymore. He is certain that he won’t be able to walk the next day, but maybe it’ll just serve as his excuse to stay around at Hyunwoo’s for a bit more.

He lies there, spent, sweaty, sticky, and Hyunwoo’s large arms are around him, muscular biceps holding him in place. He could just fall asleep right now from how warm and comfortable it feels, but Kihyun is Kihyun, and in seconds he’s dragging Hyunwoo off the bed for a shower.

He lets the older man wash his hair, warning him against letting shampoo slide into his eyes, and Hyunwoo seems to take the threat very seriously as his fingertips presses against Kihyun’s scalp softly, massaging his head as he washes it.

The boy sniffs. “You know, if ever you fall out of this business, you can consider being a masseur.”

Hyunwoo chuckles at his statement, but doesn’t tell him that he’d have more trouble falling out of business with a company this big, than actually finding a second career.

They may or may not have fooled around a little bit in the shower, but Kihyun finally steps out of the shower, refreshed and completely wide awake.

Hyunwoo just laughs as Kihyun winces at the pain while he walks, and when Kihyun throws him a look of utter distaste, he just laughs some more as he wraps his arms around his smaller frame, pressing kisses in his wet hair.

“Hey. I know it’s late and all, but there’s a place I really wanted to bring you to.” Hyunwoo’s voice is small and sweet, like honey dripping into Kihyun’s ears, and the boy almost melts.

He stares at the clock on the wall, and then tilts his head up to see Hyunwoo’s chin. “It’s 2AM.”

Hyunwoo chuckles. “And so I’ve noticed. Do you want to go?”

Kihyun exhales, relaxes in Hyunwoo’s hold, and closes his eyes. “I have an assignment due in less than 72 hours.”

Hyunwoo is relentless. He kisses the shell of Kihyun’s ear as the boy fidgets in his grip, giggling. “You can do it in the car. It’s going to be a bit of a drive.”

Kihyun blinks. “Don’t you have to work tomorrow?”

The man shakes his head, shrugging his shoulders. “One of the perks of being the boss of a company is that I get to choose my own working hours. Fascinating, right?”

Kihyun pounds his fist against his chest for the sarcastic snip. “You’re so sassy.”

A hearty laugh from Hyunwoo. “Sounds fake coming from you, the King of Sass.”

Kihyun scowls, but doesn’t deny the accusation. He almost forgets what the question is until Hyunwoo nudges him gently. “So. Trip?”

The boy purses his lips. “You’re not driving me out into the rural areas and selling me off to some dodgy teen-trafficking organisation, are you?”

Hyunwoo guffaws, holds him so tight to his chest he feels like it might combust. “You’re a little too valuable for that. I wouldn’t know what offer to accept. Priceless, I think that’s the word.”

Kihyun’s face glows a bright pink, but runs away quickly, stark naked, as he whines about Hyunwoo needing to hurry up if he wants him to tag along.

*****

The car ride is smooth and quiet, Hyunwoo not trying to turn on the radio after Kihyun complained about it being distracting -- I’m reading this reference text here but I’ve been on the same line for about five minutes now, because I’m somehow more interested in the DJ’s explanation on how to make the perfect fruit smoothie. Do you mind turning it off?

And Hyunwoo had chuckled as he turned it off, apologising as he did. He takes a couple of sneaky glances at Kihyun working on his essay, his lips forming a pout when he concentrates, a soft hum of a song he doesn’t recognise under his breath.

The boy’s glasses are perched on his tall nose, his eyes struggling to keep open as he squints at the sea of tiny words on his screen. Hyunwoo feels like he should tell him to take a break, but the last time he did that, Kihyun had hissed at him like an enraged puppy and told him to stop distracting him for the fifth time.

In Hyunwoo’s defence, the third and fourth times were when he yawned (which are involuntary, might he add) and Kihyun followed suit. He proceeded to smack Hyunwoo on his bulky arms and told him to not yawn, that they were contagious, and that he really needs to finish this assignment.

Hyunwoo bites his tongue as he’s tempted to make a snarky remark about him not having to deal with all of this if only he didn’t procrastinate, but he felt like that wouldn’t sit very well with the boy. (And he’s definitely not wrong on that.)

Another twenty minutes on the road later, and Hyunwoo is closer to their destination. He whips his head to the side briefly only to find the boy dozed off, his cheek pressed against the side of the car, his glasses sliding off the bridge of his nose.

Hyunwoo tries his best to not burst out laughing, but he’s always said this, and he’ll say this again; Kihyun looks like an angel when he sleeps. There’s just something in that unconscious pout he makes with his lips as his long lashes are fanned over his fair skin, his breathing calm and relaxed.

So he pulls up at the side of the road and peels the pair of glasses off his face, and makes sure to save Kihyun’s document before closing his laptop up and stowing it away.

He lets his thumb rub soft circles on Kihyun’s cheek before smiling, and stealing a peck on the tip of his nose, Hyunwoo lets him sleep as his car cruises down the highway.

*****

“Hey, baby? We’re here.” Kihyun is being slowly shaken, and being a light sleeper, his eyes open immediately to the sight of a tired Hyunwoo.

He realises they aren’t in his apartment, and he’s seated up instead of being comfortable horizontally. Right. They were going on a trip. The sky is still dark outside, and Hyunwoo looks mildly excited about something.

“Oh. Hey.” He rubs his eyes sleepily, and Hyunwoo unbuckles his seatbelt. Unlocking the door on the driver’s side, Kihyun stares as Hyunwoo leaves the car, still dazed from his nap. He gives himself a moment when he realises Hyunwoo isn’t returning to the vehicle, and proceeds to unbuckle his own seatbelt, stepping out into the cold.

He’s wearing one of Hyunwoo’s sweaters, and the fabric is loose on him. It does great in protecting him from the cold, but Kihyun is also tiny as compared to Hyunwoo in frame, and he feels himself drowning in it.

He flaps the oversized sleeves around as he tries to find his own fingers, and cheers lightly when he finds them. Hyunwoo spins around and laughs softly, extending an arm as invitation. The man is leaned against the bonnet of his car, overlooking what can only be a cliff. Kihyun walks over slowly, aware that his ass is still in pain.

He slots himself easily into the space Hyunwoo has set out for him, and his arm comes around his shoulder in a half-embrace. Kihyun falls in place. The sky is lighting up, and Kihyun’s watch tells him that it’s 7AM.

“I like this place,” Hyunwoo states suddenly, and Kihyun looks up at him, only to be faced with his sharp jaw. He continues staring despite that, and Hyunwoo’s eyes are trained on the horizon. He peels his eyes off him and looks at the hills in the distance with him.

It’s still dark, but there are specks of light dancing around, a hint of the sun’s rays peeking through the darkness.

With every breath he takes he realises the sky is painted with another splash of colour, black turning to blue turning to grey turning to yellow. He’s quickly bathed in a sea of yellows and oranges, and the sun seems to be rising from far, far away, behind the peaks of hills and mountains.

“Nice view, don’t you think?” He says quietly, and Kihyun nods, doesn’t know what else to say.

“This is a place that means a lot to me. I think I’ve only brought just one other person here before.” Hyunwoo’s thumb presses against Kihyun’s shoulder, and the boy blinks slowly.

He’s always thought about this before -- just how much of the treatment and affection he’s currently receiving from Hyunwoo is standard for all his sugar babies?

Kihyun wants to ask who they were, but the question is stuck in his throat. He doesn’t know what he’s expecting to hear, and if it’s something he wants to hear, so he opts for silence. Hyunwoo doesn’t seem to have any intention of explaining himself further, so Kihyun keeps quiet along with him.

Kihyun leans over slightly so that his head falls onto Hyunwoo’s side. The man doesn’t move a single inch and lets him do so, just sighing as they match their inhales and exhales on the same beats, cold air coming out in puffs from their frozen lips.

The sun peeks out slightly, a burning ball of fire rising slowly but surely, casting rays of warmth onto them. It’s piercingly bright, attention-seeking, and rightfully so. The fiery star stares at them in the face, proud and existing.

“Wow,” is all Kihyun manages to say, and Hyunwoo smiles.

“Wow indeed,” he says quietly under his breath, and Kihyun doesn’t know what comes over him, but he finds his fingers in the sea of sweater fabric, and reaches out to grab at Hyunwoo’s hand. His fingers are like popsicles, but Kihyun holds onto them anyway.

Hyunwoo looks down at him briefly, but Kihyun’s gaze is stuck on the horizon, his shorter fingers interlacing with Hyunwoo’s longer ones, and he tightens the grip.

The man suddenly pulls his hand away, much to Kihyun’s dismay, and then he shrugs his coat off, pulling it to the front, and then dropping it on Kihyun, the large coat burying the boy in more layers of warmth, all of which smell like Hyunwoo.

“I don’t need--”

“Wear it.”

There is no room for debate, no space for complaining or bargaining, and Hyunwoo returns to his original position against the car, slips his hand into Kihyun’s again.

Kihyun tugs at the top of the coat and holds it closer to himself, whispers something along the lines of ‘bossy’ and ‘not listening’, but he does mutter a ‘thank you’ under his breath that Hyunwoo laughs at.

They are bathed in light, squinting as they observe the world soak up in the sun’s radiance, a glow encapsulating all that is moving and unmoving.

The sun rises without fail, every day, predicted to be the same forever except for the times of the sunrises. Why is there something in watching the sun move up from the East that fills someone with hope, with motivation, with more expectations of what tomorrow may bring?

Nothing quite symbolises new beginnings like the rising sun. Time is the only constant and the only variable.

Kihyun sighs. He doesn’t know how many sunrises he’s wasted throughout his life, and suddenly finds the urge to get a piece of paper and write down a bucket list, or the new year resolutions he’s never gotten around to do.

Hyunwoo seems to sense the gush of emotions coming from him, and doesn’t really say anything in consolation. He knows this feeling way too well. He does frequent this place, after all.

The sunrise helps put his life problems into perspective, how the world never stops revolving even if he ceased to exist, and the only meaning in life was really to make every day count. It meant nothing to the universe if he was here or not. Everyone is really just a speck of dust in the larger scheme of things.

Not wanting to get overly philosophical, Hyunwoo only rubs his thumb over Kihyun’s knuckles, pressing down on them softly as he tries his best to convey a ‘I know how you feel’ through just his actions.

He’s unsure as to how much that helped, but Kihyun visibly relaxes into his hold, and Hyunwoo returns to staring at the ball of fire hurling towards the sky.

“We’re kind of meaningless, aren’t we?” Hyunwoo poses, and Kihyun doesn’t question the sudden lyrical enquiry, just hums in agreement.

They stay there for God knows how long, until Hyunwoo’s fingers are trembling, and Kihyun’s lips are turning a pale blue. The sun is completely up now, rays shining on them mercilessly, but the snow around them and falling from the skies is still sufficient to make them shiver from within their bones.

“Hate to ruin the mood and all,” Kihyun starts, his teeth chattering as he barely gets the words out. “But I’m freezing my ass off. Can we get back to the car?”

Hyunwoo laughs, but his face is kind of numb from the cold, and he thinks his ears might fall off from frostbite soon. “Well. We can head in, but not to the car.”

Hyunwoo pushes himself off the car with a grunt and walks over to the boot of the car, opening it up to reveal a duffel bag. He brings it out and shuts the boot with a slam, the smile on his face frozen by now.

“Come on. Wouldn’t want you to freeze your ass off.” He starts walking away from the vehicle. “It’s a very pretty ass.”

Kihyun gasps at the bold statement, and Hyunwoo just guffaws, muttering an ouch as he feels his face muscles pulling against the numbing strain, and Kihyun’s cheeks are a bright red.

From the cold or from embarrassment, Hyunwoo could never tell, but he looks stunning all the same.

They head towards what looks like a town, and on a closer look, Kihyun realises it’s just a very large plot of land where a single building is on it. There is a swimming pool that’s completely empty, and an enormous span of field.

There are three storeys judging from the exterior, the door tall and the entrance area wide and spacious.

Kihyun swallows. What the hell is this place -- is this even still in Korea?

Hyunwoo notices Kihyun’s slight nervousness, and chuckles before pulling him over. He rests his arm on his shoulder as they walk closer to what can only be a place of residence.

“Vacation home,” Hyunwoo says casually, as if this beach villa doesn’t cost what an average person would probably earn in about three lifetimes. Kihyun is once again made aware of just how different they are, and he doesn’t really know how to take it.

Different isn’t bad, he supposes. At least it’s a different he gets to gain from. Right, that’s what it is.

He pushes down the uneasiness as Hyunwoo welcomes him into the house (or whatever you call that behemoth of a house), a domestic helper quick to offer her assistance as they as much as step over the thresholds of the place.

“It’s okay, we’re just staying for a bit. I take it that the rooms are all tidied up?”

She bows. “Yes, Sir. Everything is ready for you and Mister--”

Kihyun bows back. “Just Kihyun, please.”

She bows lower. “Sure, Mister Kihyun.”

The boy reddens, hunches his back as he nods at her again, like there’s a competition for who can bow more respectfully to the other. Right now, she seems to be having the upper hand. He can’t help but wonder how many of his other sugar babies have been here.

Oh, just the one. Were they a sugar baby? Kihyun promised he wouldn’t ask, but now that he’s started thinking about it, somehow he can’t get it out of his mind.

She takes her leave as they exchange more polite bows, and Hyunwoo walks further in. There is a spread of a well-furnished living room, the decor here a little more colourful and creative, even a feature wall where the TV is against.

“How did you like the view?” Hyunwoo asks he stretches out an arm to take Kihyun’s coat and puts it up on the hanger by the door. The boy steps out of his boots and shrugs snow from his hair.

“It was very nice. I really liked it.” Kihyun smiles, and there is a spread of brilliance in his eyes that could compare to the glow of the rising sun. Hyunwoo smiles widely, looks as the boy stands there exchanging glances with him, and then Kihyun walks over with a grin.

“Thank you for bringing me here.” Kihyun cranes his neck up to place a soft, warm kiss on Hyunwoo’s cheek. It isn’t the blazing, hot, wet mess they create when their tongues tangle. It lacks the desperation of tasting each other when Hyunwoo pushes in, swallowing Kihyun’s moans.

It’s just a peck, a press of lips against skin, but Hyunwoo feels his insides turning, his heart full, and there is a boulder on his chest. In both a good and a bad way.

Hyunwoo swallows.

“Yeah. I thought it was beautiful,” he comments lightly, and he knows he’s not just talking about the scenery, and though he’s repeated this same thought multiple times in his head, Hyunwoo starts to fear what it now truly means for him.

Chapter Text

“Are you Googling Hyunwoo again?” Minhyuk asks, popping his head out from behind Kihyun, and the black-haired boy jumps. “Jesus Christ, you gave me a scare!”

He places his palm on his chest in an attempt to calm his racing heart, and Minhyuk just giggles. Kihyun is about 75% certain Minhyuk is actually Satan rebirthed.

No one else would be so annoying, so messy, so nosy and be proud of it. He doesn’t say that that’s what makes Minhyuk so attractive -- the recognition and confidence in his flaws -- because he is the spawn of the devil, and anyone who says otherwise is just wrong.

There’s no point hiding the screen by now, so he lets Minhyuk linger freely behind him as he browses through Hyunwoo’s profile again, another tab on Hyunwoo’s Wikipedia page, the other on Google Images.

Minhyuk stares at the page with Kihyun, eyes tracing the words quicker than Kihyun can.

The Wikipedia page is oddly specific, providing information down to his sexual preferences and his favourite colour.

He thinks Hyunwoo may or may not have a small fanbase tracing his actions and scrutinising the details in all his magazine interviews. It’s nice to know Hyunwoo likes black without having to go through the mundane ice-breaker questions.

Minhyuk doesn’t comment on any of the data on the screen, just reads them as they come, low whistles at a particularly good picture of Hyunwoo in a suit.

“You know, I thought he was good-looking on his profile picture on Bizdads, thought he looked better in person, but this picture? I’m swooning. He looks amazing.”

Kihyun doesn’t hide the mild shade of pink on his cheeks as he scrolls past the picture quickly. Hyunwoo did look spectacular in that picture with his well-fitting suits. Kihyun doesn’t comment on the masterpiece underneath the fabric.

Minhyuk breathes, and it’s almost like he senses the uneasiness, sniffs every bit of a something that Kihyun is hiding. Maybe it’s because Minhyuk’s just especially observant, or maybe he’s just spent way too much time around Kihyun to know his thoughts from just a twitch in his face muscle.

“You like him,” Minhyuk says clearly, and Kihyun feels a sense of protectiveness welling up.

“You like him, too,” he retaliates, and Minhyuk laughs. He wraps his arms around Kihyun from behind, encasing him in a little enclosure of warmth, and Minhyuk smells floral today. It also smells like a hint of spice, though Kihyun remembers it to be one of those scents Minhyuk would never buy in a candle.

“Yes, but I’m not fucking him, and he’s not paying for my tuition, so.”

Kihyun winces. Minhyuk, being the one who sent him in as a lusty parcel, would surely have expected some form of sexual activity to have unfolded in Hyunwoo’s penthouse, but to spell it so clearly like this in a casual conversation makes him slightly mindful.

If Minhyuk had sensed a sudden dip in the exchange, he doesn’t comment on it. He just sighs, loud enough for Kihyun to jolt himself out of a trance, and then he’s moving his cursor down the screen again.

Minhyuk’s hands are still on his shoulders. “You’re happy, right?”

He doesn’t latch onto the question and fish out a confession from Kihyun. It’s both an aggravating and assuring thing that Minhyuk understands him way too well to know his answer without it being uttered.

Kihyun, on the other hand, is often left to grapple with his own emotions and decisions, and he’s always surprised when Minhyuk tells him he’s seen it coming long ago, even before Kihyun had made up his own mind.

Kihyun stares a little too long at the picture of a smiling Hyunwoo on the screen, and he doesn’t understand the sudden gush of emotions. It rises to his chest, and then his throat, and he feels like he cannot breathe.

Minhyuk’s touch is warm, relaxing, but it does little to calm the hurricane of thoughts and feelings swirling in him, kicking up a storm and leaving him wrecked and breathless.

So he opts to nod, gaze fixated on Hyunwoo’s picture. Long, strong vines twine around his frame, spiralling upwards, around his torso, forcing his arms to press to his sides. They extend to his neck, constricts around his windpipe, and forces the last bit of oxygen out of Kihyun. The pressure on his chest doesn’t fade for a long, long time.  

*****

Kihyun had finally ended his last shift at McDonald’s, and while it had been long coming, guilt gnaws into Kihyun -- Big Boss’ passive aggressiveness in his plea for more staff had taken a toll on him.

But Kihyun listens to Minhyuk’s advice, hears Hyunwoo out when the older man tells him that there is no other thing in this world more important than his health, physical and mental. He explains from a boss’s point of view that staffing is and always will be a factor all bosses take into account, and as a businessman, he would have understood the risk with every employee he hired.

So Kihyun feels slightly better, because he’s not really letting Big Boss down, is he? And when Hyunwoo assures him that he isn’t, he smiles in relief, releasing a sigh that had been weighing down on him ever since his resignation.

He doesn’t hesitate to say yes when Hyunwoo invites him over to his apartment.

He half-expects some pop of champagne, some party poppers, some streamers, even, but what really welcomes Kihyun is Hyunwoo’s fierce kiss as he presses him up against the door, not even giving him time to take off his shoes.

Kihyun isn’t complaining, if that’s what the question is. Between that and celebratory decor, at least Hyunwoo’s enthusiasm fuels a night of immense pleasure.

And immense pleasure is what he gets as Hyunwoo’s actions are frenzied and eager, and he’s ready to please. Kihyun doesn’t comprehend the sudden change in behaviour but it would be a lie if he said he didn’t enjoy it.

Kihyun’s eyes are shut lightly, the soft glow of the bedside lamp against his fair skin, the left side hidden in shadows. It has stirred up quite the turmoil in Hyunwoo over the past few days in Kihyun’s absence, but he is only just coming to terms with how lovely Kihyun is.

He’s always been aware of it -- it wasn’t as if his beauty just appeared out of nowhere -- and he had understood it just well enough for warm, affectionate feelings to fill up to the brim, before they are whisked away by Hyunwoo’s own reminder that these feelings are valid if only they didn’t cross a line.

Hyunwoo walks this line now, but he’s convinced himself that he’s capable of staying on the safe side.

He knows Kihyun isn’t asleep, even though he is spent and tired and his breathing is still a little rushed, but Hyunwoo doesn’t broach conversation topics well.

Not when he isn’t sure if any topics will likely topple him across the line he promised to not cross; if Hyunwoo was careful before, he’s wary now.

Kihyun, on the other hand, seems pretty happy to talk. His voice is small, almost inaudible, and Hyunwoo strains to hear him properly.

“...many sugar babies?”

“Hmm?” Hyunwoo asks, presses his ear closer to Kihyun’s lips and feels his warm breath on his skin, raising hairs. The boy squirms and giggles softly before repeating himself.

“Have you had many sugar babies?”

Hyunwoo blinks, doesn’t know what warranted the sudden question, or why it even matters to Kihyun, but humours him anyway.

He nods. “Many. Too many. Many of which I adored to bits, others not so much.”

Kihyun looks up at him with stars in his eyes. Hyunwoo just wants to coddle him to death.

“Why? Were you not happy with many of them?” He sounds curious, more inquisitorial than interrogative, and Hyunwoo has nothing to hide, so he just holds him tight, arms pulled closer to himself as Kihyun rolls over, nose hitting against Hyunwoo’s sturdy chest.

“Mmm,” he shakes his head, and Kihyun glances up at him momentarily. “Far from it, actually. I think it was just the kind of stuff that took practice.”

Kihyun frowns, and Hyunwoo just smiles.

“I told you I liked pampering people, didn’t I?”

Kihyun grins, cheeks against Hyunwoo’s chest as he looks up at him bright-eyed. “Evidently.”

Hyunwoo laughs easy, but his grip around Kihyun doesn’t slacken. “Well, sometimes when you pamper someone enough, you fall in love with them.”

Kihyun swallows. “That’s a bad thing?”

Hyunwoo’s gaze is distant now. “Not really, no.” He looks down at him, a sad smile hanging by his lips. “It is when you start asking for more. When you realise that the both of you want different things from the relationship, when what you want is not what they want. Then you have to learn to not ask for more, even as you fall in love. It takes a bit of trial and error, and a lot of practice.” Hyunwoo’s voice is a whisper, warm breath on Kihyun’s scalp, and the boy stiffens in his hold.

Kihyun sniffs. “That’s what it was -- practice?”

Hyunwoo shrugs. “Yeah, I guess. Maybe just think of it as meeting the right people at the wrong time.”

Kihyun is suddenly made aware of how it had been like with his previous boyfriends. The million questions, the constant doubting, the unnecessary calls to check up on him and his whereabouts. Kihyun had always felt confined; he was looking for a partner, not a pair of shackles. It frustrated him that there was literally no end to the interrogations, that he could never properly spread his wings and do what he desired.

It had been an obligation to answer to questions he didn’t feel particularly up to respond to, and Kihyun grew tired quickly. He sighs, and Hyunwoo seems to notice his little blast of nostalgia, and while he cannot really help, he holds him together, like a blanket encasing him in warmth, a wall of protection around him.

“Love. Kind of sucks sometimes, yeah?” Kihyun says quietly under his breath, and Hyunwoo chuckles.

“Love’s fine, Kihyun. It’s great. I love a lot of things and people, and I would never deny it or shortchange anyone with it.”

Kihyun laughs shakily. “Yeah? But love isn’t enough to keep things going.” A time where he thought love wins all, that it would brave the obstacles and hold out in the storms, and then he is starkly reminded of just how deeply it hurt as deeply he had loved.

Hyunwoo just inhales, then he breathes it out, ruffling Kihyun’s hair as he does.

“Ah, but the problem is with relationships, not love. You obviously love Minhyuk. And Jooheon. You believe in love. You enjoy being loved. You’re right, love isn’t enough to keep a relationship going -- maintenance is. You just don’t like the crap that comes with maintaining a relationship, I think.”

Kihyun hums, doesn’t know what to say. Maybe he is too cynical for his own good.

He doesn’t deny his tendency to turn to the melodramatic whenever he can. It’s probably his coping mechanism in most stressful situations, and his last serious relationship that ended in shambles had forced him to put up his walls and use cynicism as his last resort.

Him and Hyunwoo. They’re straightforward. They know what they’re getting themselves into, and contribution and reciprocation is clearcut. No expectations of the other, no reading between the lines, no expecting the other to come up with novel romantic ideas to spice up their daily lives.

It was what it was, and Kihyun was thankful for that.

So Kihyun becomes a little more honest with himself. He remembers Minhyuk’s question in the morning and decides that yes, he does like Hyunwoo, and he does enjoy his time with him.

While it doesn’t bring him as much closure as he’d like, Kihyun is comfortable with the conclusion, and he finds peace with himself as he burrows his face deeper in Hyunwoo’s chest.

Hyunwoo smiles as he looks as Kihyun all snuggled up against him, a remnant of a smile still lingering on his pretty lips. He breathes shallow.

Hyunwoo says all that, but even though he’s never hesitated to admit his love for his previous sugar babies, he finds it difficult to even entertain the thought now.

The thought that he has fallen in love with Yoo Kihyun terrifies him, because Hyunwoo realises that once he fully accepts the confession, that the only direction he’ll fall is hurtling towards Kihyun at full speed, crossing all the lines he’s drawn, creating a collision so catastrophic, all his previous efforts would have been for null.

Hyunwoo feels a pang of emptiness at what they ‘should be’, and he dodges his feelings quickly, desperate to reason with his own brain, so as to keep Kihyun beside him for longer than he really should.

*****

Kihyun stumbles through the door, almost forgetting about the platform at the doorway, and he would’ve tripped if he hadn’t caught himself on the doorknob. He hasn’t been back to his apartment in such a long time; it’s starting to feel more and more like he’s making Hyunwoo pay rent for nothing.

Not that Minhyuk or Jooheon would have anything against that.

There is a shuffle, a muted shout somewhere, and Kihyun narrows his eyes. He knows Minhyuk is home at this time, but the apartment seems terribly loud for a person of one, even if that person is Lee Minhyuk, who currently earns the crown of being Loudest Person Ever, Kihyun tailing behind closely as mere Second Loudest Person Ever.

Minhyuk is tangled in a mess of limbs when he walks into the lounge, and it should surprise him when he sees a blob of brown hair next to Minhyuk’s shocking white one, but he just blinks owlishly.

“Um.” There is awkward throat-clearing, and Minhyuk promptly climbs off the other male, who just groans, and there’s a loud snapping sound. Kihyun can recognise that anywhere -- the sound of a rubber waistband hitting against skin, and he rolls his eyes.

Of course Minhyuk is being all handsy with someone else on their couch.

He knows he and Minhyuk aren’t exclusive (the word terrifies him) and he knows that Minhyuk and him are roommates-cum-best-friends-cum-occasional-sexual-partners, but the idea that Minhyuk is being frisky with someone he doesn’t know just about sets off all his alarms.

“Kihyun!” Minhyuk greets, wide grin and all. He stumbles off the couch and gathers himself together before he stands up wobbly.

His cheeks flush from being caught, Minhyuk is in a state of unkempt, loose white tee sliding off his shoulder on one side. “You’re back early.”

Kihyun raises his brows, but doesn’t question it. “Mmm. Hyunwoo had an urgent meeting to go to. You didn’t tell me you were messing around this early in the afternoon.”

Minhyuk snorts, still a smidget of shame in him as his cheeks fill up with blood again. “Yeah, you’ve been so busy lately? We didn’t really get to talk.”

Kihyun rolls his eyes. “Just a text would be nice.”

Minhyuk returns the gesture as his eyes roll into the back of his skull, and he slings his arm around Kihyun’s shoulder, pulling him closer. “To say what? ‘Hey Ki, sorry to disturb you and your lovely time with Hyunwoo, but I’m sucking Hyungwon off on our couch, hope that’s fine?’”

For obvious reasons, Kihyun finds his shock in the familiar name instead of the sarcasm dripping from his voice.

As if on cue, Hyungwon pops up from behind the couch, no trace of pink on his cheeks -- typical Hyungwon -- his hair a dishevelled mess atop his head.

He has the audacity to yawn lazily, still looking like someone in a photoshoot when his mouth is wide open and his eyes half-lidded, and he puts up a hand. “Hey,” he says, like he hadn’t just been caught fooling around with Kihyun’s best friend, and Kihyun doesn’t know how to place the emotion.

He finally decides on relief, because at least it’s Hyungwon, a decent guy from Kihyun’s knowledge, and he won’t do anything to hurt Minhyuk.

Well, at least if he does, Kihyun would have a face, a name and an address to go after, instead of the few shadows and aliases of people Minhyuk has hooked up with.

So Kihyun tries on Hyungwon’s perfected nonchalance, far from satisfactory when he attempts, but he does, anyway. “Hey, Hyungwon.” It’s casual, a little standoffish, even, and he silently applauds his own efforts.

Hyungwon visibly swallows, and Minhyuk seems tense, for some reason, still perched beside Kihyun, but his whole body is rigid, staring right at Kihyun’s face, like he’s gauging his reaction.

Kihyun sniffs. “Well, I’m dead beat and I’m gonna take a nap. Will you be around when I wake up? We can go for dinner.”

The blonde-haired boy beside him relaxes, his limbs snaking around Kihyun in a half-hug, and Kihyun lets him, snuggling further into his warm hold. He’s missed Minhyuk, a lot, the boy smelling like strawberries and cream, starkly different from Hyunwoo’s intoxicating and overwhelming musk.

He feels his spirits being uplifted in just seconds, and it’s amazing how Minhyuk manages to do that: exist as a blinding ray of sunshine.

“Yeah, I’ll be around. Hyungw --”

“Yeah, me too, if you don’t mind me sticking around.”

Kihyun nods languidly, waving a nonchalant arm. “I’m tired though, so no cooking. I’ll bring us out for steak, okay?”

He sees the spark in Minhyuk’s eyes, the sheer excitement of having beef in the evening, and the blonde throws his arms over Kihyun some more, nose digging into the crook of his neck. Kihyun laughs at the tickle.

“Go and sleep, Kihyunnie, and when you wake up tonight, we feast like kings!” He throws his arms in the air and does a cheeky dance that involves him shaking his hips and bum, and Kihyun guffaws. It’s easy to slide into comfort around Minhyuk, never having a moment of silence, or peace, never struggling to find the right words to say.

“Okay,” he says before petting Minhyuk lightly on his head, and exchanging a long and knowing glance with Hyungwon, before he relaxes into himself, heading towards his bedroom with his bag full of dirty clothes.

“Hey Min, can I trust you to do my laundry for me?” Kihyun turns around, and Minhyuk is nowhere to be found, probably preparing snacks for what seems to be a movie with Hyungwon on the couch, and the law student is staring back at him with large eyes.

Kihyun sighs. “Minhyuk!”

The sound barely travels, but he’s returned with a loud clanking from the kitchen, and there is a shout of “I’m okay, I’m okay!”

“Here, let me get that.” Hyungwon steps forward, and Kihyun regards him with a suspicious look. The law student laughs, and reaches out an arm.

“I’m not going to steal your underwear, Kihyun. I’m just a better washing machine operator than Minhyuk will ever be, so if you want your clothes clean and your machine intact, I suggest you let me handle things.”

Kihyun stares at him again for a long moment, an exasperated but well-natured sigh leaving Hyungwon’s lips, and he’s about to retract his arm when Kihyun shoves the bag towards him.

“My delicates aren’t in here anyway, so just sort the colours,” he mutters, and if Hyungwon had anything to say about the lack of undergarments in his dirty laundry, he doesn’t voice it.

He remembers the same no-questions policy Hyungwon had had during their first encounter, a trait he was particularly grateful for, considering the conditions under which they had met.

Hyungwon raises a brow. This Kihyun sure behaves a lot different from the Kihyun he’d first met.

Kihyun doesn’t admit it’s his sense of protectiveness over Minhyuk welling up and threatening to spill out in incoherent curses and illogical hatred.

“Sure.” Hyungwon is chill, the same way Kihyun remembers him to be, and then he remembers just how unapologetic Hyungwon is, how he’s proud with the way he carries himself, and how utterly confident he is in everything he does.

Kihyun suddenly realises that maybe the hatred stems from a place deeper than protectiveness, its roots possibly found in envy and jealousy.

He just nods awkwardly at Hyungwon, who hugs his laundry bag to his chest with a look of pure amusement, and turns around to return to his room. It looks the same as it was, a little untidy on the one side of his desk -- possibly Jooheon sneaking in his room to borrow a phone charger -- and Kihyun realises that he misses this.

As he plops himself on the bed, he realises just how much he’s not been around lately, opting to spend the night at Hyunwoo’s, because while the man can be so horribly distracting when he’s trying to finish uni work, his body warmth lulls him to sleep in seconds.

And if body warmth isn’t enough, Hyunwoo invites him to a night-long exercise session that compels him to sleep shortly afterwards.

He stares at his ceiling. It’s funny how comfortable he’s gotten around Hyunwoo, how he’s contented with just staying in his apartment and ordering takeaway as they watch a series on Netflix, on how normal it all feels, like he’s spending time with Minhyuk, only with more hugs, more kisses, and definitely more sex.

He knows what it is, at the end of the day. He’s told himself that since the very beginning, and he’s continued to tell himself that as his relationship with Hyunwoo got closer.

But as Kihyun drifts off to sleep without the familiar weight beside him keeping him warm and safe, he finds himself forgetting the nature of their relationship, blurring the boundary between the both of them, momentarily forgetting that they are but two business partners in a contractual agreement.

Maybe, he thinks, maybe they could be friends.

(His mind tells him that he already are, but Kihyun steps on the brakes whenever he can.)

*****

“So. Hyungwon, huh?” Kihyun starts when he and Minhyuk are back from the steakhouse, smelling a lot like roast, their tummies a lot happier, Kihyun’s wallet a lot emptier.

Minhyuk’s head is lying on Kihyun’s lap, and the boy plays with his hair absentmindedly, twirling a few strands around his finger and Minhyuk presses his lips together.

“Yeah. Hyungwon.”

Kihyun sniffs. “I thought you didn’t hook up with people you know?”

Minhyuk blinks. “Oh. That -- that’s because it’s not a hook-up.”

Kihyun frowns. Oh. Oh. He sniffs again. Minhyuk can tell he’s a little uneasy, so he just chuckles, and presses his forehead into Kihyun’s tummy. It’s soft and flat and Kihyun cards his fingers through his blonde hair.

“Interesting.” He stares at Minhyuk’s ear for a long second. “I thought you didn’t believe in love?”

Minhyuk laughs, Kihyun’s body shaking along with him. “You make me sound like a bitter old hag.”

“But you didn’t.” Kihyun protests, and Minhyuk smiles, not denying his best friend’s claim.

“Yeah. But I don’t know. Maybe I just didn’t find the right one.”

Kihyun’s eyelashes flutter. “And Hyungwon’s the right one?”

There’s a huge boulder pressing onto him, and he can’t identify what it is exactly, but he wants it gone.

Minhyuk shrugs. “Hyungwon’s comfortable. He puts up with my million questions and answers them like he should. He has so much patience with me, and I don’t know? I guess I like it when he pretends like he doesn’t care, but goes ahead to do something kind of heartwarming anyway.” Minhyuk’s eyes are distant, like he’s reminiscing a fond memory, and Kihyun feels the boulder crushing his breath out of him.

“That sounds like me.” Kihyun voices, and Minhyuk agrees.

“And you’re not wrong. I may or may not have a type.”

Kihyun laughs, but it comes out a little airy.

“I love you too, Ki. You know that. But you couldn’t stand my clinginess, and that’s,” Minhyuk shrugs, breathes through his mouth. “That’s just me. It’s part of me. And I know you hated it and yet I kept doing it, because I can’t help it.” Minhyuk shifts and he’s looking up at Kihyun with those large, pretty eyes, and Kihyun sighs.

“I know.” Kihyun presses his lips against Minhyuk’s crown, and the boy sighs in relief.

“Does Hyungwon know about us?”

Minhyuk nods, Kihyun’s chin moving along with him. “That brat. His exact words were ‘the minute I saw the both of you I knew you guys fucked ’.”

Kihyun chuckles. “I’m not surprised. That’s what Jooheon thought too.”

Minhyuk blinks unevenly, letting out a small yawn. “Correction: Jooheon thought we were boyfriends, which would have been adorable if we weren’t actually people who tried to be boyfriends and failed.”

He sits back up beside Kihyun, but leans his head on Kihyun’s shoulder. “Hyungwon was so crude about it.”

Kihyun can feel Minhyuk’s breathing slow down, and he spies the ends of his lips pulling up just slightly. “But you like it.”

Minhyuk’s eyes are closing, and Kihyun is comfortable. “Mmm. I do.” He sniffs, and Kihyun kisses him again, attention averting to the silly sitcom on the screen.

“So.” Minhyuk says suddenly, jolting Kihyun out of his semi-daydream, this close to drifting off to sleep. “He knows about us. And I haven’t really talked about it to him, but maybe we should stop -- you know.”

Kihyun blinks himself awake, and his gaze clears up by a bit. He sniffs, and Minhyuk’s eyes are still closed, his whole frame still leaning onto him.

“Oh. Sure. No more fucking. I’m cool with that.” Kihyun says, ignoring the little pinch in his side. The boulder almost breaks his bones, but Kihyun now properly labels the weight on his chest as selfishness. He tries his best to look past it, but it is staring at him right in the face, and he’d be an idiot to ignore it.

He feels bitter, even though he really shouldn’t, because this is important to Minhyuk. To kind, beautiful Minhyuk who didn’t welcome any of these vile thoughts as he suggested for Kihyun to find a sugar daddy to support his finances.

Why, if it was only Minhyuk’s relationship with Hyungwon, would he feel so left out?

It’s not because he wants Minhyuk for himself, God knows they’ve tested those boundaries, but Kihyun supposes it has always been there, probably just waiting for something like this to happen before it clamps its jaws on Kihyun and capitalise on his insecurity.

It’s the anxiety of not having Minhyuk to fall back on as a fuck buddy now that he’s moving onto his own serious relationships.

The fear of having no one to be a physical support if Hyunwoo were to leave.

The realisation that Minhyuk -- the ever immature Minhyuk -- is abandoning him to make good of a romantic relationship.

Kihyun is left loitering the empty corridors of romance, knocking on doors that never open for him. Maybe he is destined to a life as such, his yearn for freedom superseding his affections, sabotaging all possible boyfriends in his way.

God, Kihyun thinks, this was Minhyuk’s happiness, not his, but why did he always find the need to make everything about himself?

So he tries his best to push away those feelings about needing Minhyuk to always be available for him, to be there and pick him up when he falls. This is for Minhyuk’s good. He can’t always try to want to keep everyone beside him all while pushing them away when they want him by their sides.

“As long as he treats you well.” He settles on it finally, and the boulder releases its weight by a fraction, and Kihyun breathes straight.

*****

It’s one of those days Hyunwoo is very, very glad to see Shin Hoseok walking through the door with a pack of beer cans in his hold.

“You know, you’re technically not allowed to drink on the job,” Hoseok states, placing the 6-pack on the table as Hyunwoo reaches out for it eagerly.

“I’m the boss, I make the rules.”

Hoseok rolls his eyes. “Your father made the rules. You’re here bending them.”

Hyunwoo clicks open a can and downs half of it in one go. “And rightfully so. It’s been a complete shit day, bro.”

“I can tell, man.” Hoseok says, clapping a hand on Hyunwoo’s shoulder and snaps open a can himself. Hyunwoo regards him with a wary glance, and Hoseok narrows his eyes. “Don’t you look at me like that. I bring the booze, I drink the booze.”

“You’re not the boss. You don’t bend the rules.”

Hoseok presses his lips together in annoyance. “It is also coincidentally,” he looks at his watch, “Five-thirty-and-six-seconds, so I’m off work, and you can now take the stick out of your ass.”

Hyunwoo just shrugs and mutters about it being fair enough, observes as Hoseok downs a quarter of his drink.

“Difficult client?”

Hyunwoo sniffs. “Yeah. Absolute nutcase. But I got him to sign it anyway.”

Hoseok grins. “You’re doing well, dude.”

“Yeah, would hate to let my father down, wouldn’t I?”

Hoseok chuckles. “I’m sure Mr. Son is very proud of you,” he says, and Hyunwoo believes him. Surely Hoseok’s word as his father’s ex-secretary would mean a little more than any other person’s. He drinks some more beer and lets out a grunt, massaging the strain in his shoulder.

“Long night?” Hoseok asks, his eyebrows hiked, and Hyunwoo chuckles.

“I know you’re here wanting to listen to the saucy stuff, but really, it was just me tidying up all night.”

Hoseok blinks. “What.”

Hyunwoo complains briefly about having to pack his game consoles into a box that Kihyun had prepared because it was ‘unacceptable to have wires lying all around the floor’.

“You are so whipped,” Hoseok comments finally, when he’s done with his story, sighing as he massages his temple. “And I take it that you got your housekeeper to do it.”

Hyunwoo groans. “Fuck, I wish. Kihyun wouldn’t go to bed until I did them all myself, and ‘no excuses’ ,” he says in a slightly higher pitched voice and Hoseok roars with laughter, barely holding himself together at the imitation of Kihyun.

“Man, I wish I could have been there. I’m just imagining you holding a broomstick and bending all over picking up your Xbox to stow it away in a plastic box. Who would have fricking thought, Son Hyunwoo, CEO of Son Corporations, would have to pick up after himself?”

“Yeah, okay, shut up.”

Hoseok ignores him and laughs again. They drink on their beers for another silent moment when Hoseok speaks up again.

“You look happy though.”

Hyunwoo looks at him, surprised.

“Like, actually happy. I didn’t think you were capable of that look after… you know.” Hyunwoo continues staring at him curiously. “But you seem happy.”

Hyunwoo swallows. He doesn’t know how to make of this situation, but he is also not one to deny a cold, hard fact when it’s put in front of him.

“You know, you’re right. This is possibly the happiest I’ve ever been since then.”

“That’s good, then.”

He knows what Hoseok means beneath those three words.

As his best and closest friend, Hoseok has privy to information on his many successful and failed relationships (and all variances of the word ‘relationship’), his learning curve as he practised with his sugar babies, the emotions that he’d experienced as he went along the learning curve.

Hoseok knew all of this, understood how difficult it was for Hyunwoo to be who he is today, the perfect spot where he admits his infatuation and affection for his babies, all while understanding that commitment and the idea of a future is the bottom line he should never stoop to.

It had been challenging, seemed impossible, even, but Hyunwoo had taken years to master the skill of managing his own emotions. Of liking someone just enough to shower them with gifts and love and kisses, but not quite enough to dream of growing old together.

And he knows Hoseok is warning him against taking further steps to pursue this happiness, to move forward with this relationship, to force it into something that it isn’t, and he’s thankful for that.

But Hoseok is in a healthy relationship with his girlfriend of seven years, and he isn’t like Hyunwoo who struggles to balance himself into the sweet spot all the time.

It’s too easy to go too hot or too cold, and Hoseok would never be able to understand that fully to give him the best advice.

So he just smiles and nods and Hoseok returns it, and they drink in silence, Hoseok asking about his day casually as he replies mindlessly about the difficult client.

Hyunwoo just has to remind himself that this is where he and Kihyun are the happiest, and he would be a fool to ruin it with thoughts that would amount to nothing but disaster if they were acted upon.

Chapter Text

Hoseok meets Kihyun in the most awkward way you can ever imagine. Kihyun had stayed over at Hyunwoo’s (again). The man had left a handwritten note with his scrawly penmanship on the pillow as Kihyun shifted towards to the familiar weight beside only to find it empty.

Hey sweetie, I have an early meeting I need to be at today. Will come back soon in the afternoon and we can have some lunch. Finish your assignment thing while I’m gone. If you’re hungry just order something. My credit card’s on the table. - Hyunwoo

Kihyun pouts a little at the space beside, but does pull up a slight smile at Hyunwoo caring if he ate, and Hyunwoo knowing about his assignment that’s soon due. (Though Hyunwoo is not helpful when it comes to helping him actually complete it when he walks around half-naked and is the epitome of what he calls a ‘distracting yet attractive masterpiece of pure goodness’.)

Hyunwoo’s tried his best to clean him up last night, but he’s still soaked in dried up perspiration and questionable fluids, so he toes out of bed and ignores the ache in his lower back as he rises.

10:40AM. Kihyun decides on a shower before anything else, pushes away the deep rumbling in his tummy. Maybe he should place an order for the takeaway first.

So he leans by Hyunwoo’s desk as he scrolls through a list of nearby food places, whistling softly to himself, and decides on Chinese. Entering Hyunwoo’s card details into the app, Kihyun bobs his head happily as a notification appears that tells him that they’re preparing his food.

He also does a happy little skip in the middle of the room butt-naked, feeling a warmth like never before growing in his chest. It grows and grows, and Kihyun feels like his chest just keeps expanding to contain it properly. He doesn’t know why he feels so absolutely jubilant.

The idea of Hyunwoo coming back and having lunch with him brings a smile to his face, though he does add it to his list of things he doesn’t understand.

Kihyun grabs a shirt and a pair of shorts from his duffel bag and hums a tune under his breath, getting ready to step into the shower, when there is a beep from the lock on the front door.

He frowns; Hyunwoo’s back a lot earlier than he said he would be. But Kihyun’s on cloud nine right now, and he wants to share the sheer elation with Hyunwoo, so he bounds out of his room, into the lounge, still stark naked, only to find himself face to face with a stranger.

“Ah!” he screams, and the man shrieks in response, the both of them just screeching at each other for five whole seconds as Kihyun’s covers his crown jewels with his bare hands.

The man in the lounge just looks away, manila folder before his eyes as he seems to be completely shaken from Kihyun’s appearance, his cheeks a bright red to match his hair.

“Oh my god,” Kihyun mutters as he runs back to the room with his whole butt showing, but he either looks out for his front or his back, and right now he just wants to bury his whole face in a pit of sand.

Catching his breath as he sits himself on Hyunwoo’s bed, Kihyun holds his palm to his chest as he attempts to calm his racing heart, blinking owlishly.

“What the fuck?” After his heart rate slows down by just a little, Kihyun is enraged. He doesn’t know how the man had known the passcode to Hyunwoo’s apartment, or why the hell he’s here in the first place.

Putting on a shower robe in the angriest way possible, Kihyun strides out of the room to find the red-haired man perched by the kitchen counter with a glass of water in his hand.

Seemingly relaxed from his previous scarring experience, the stranger sees Kihyun walk out of Hyunwoo’s room and puts the glass down. He bows halfway, and Kihyun’s blazing fury is replaced by the need for etiquette, so he bows in return as well.

Great display of power, Kihyun, good going.

“Kihyun-ssi, I believe?” The stranger has a brow hiked up and a mischievous grin playing on his lips. Kihyun is at a loss again, and he narrows his eyes just slightly. “Yes, and you are?”

He smiles. “Shin Hoseok. I’m friends with Hyunwoo, and I manage the company’s branch in Gangnam. Sorry for the intrusion. I was here to drop off a document. Hyunwoo said it was fine to come by, but he didn’t say that you were going to be around. Sorry.”

Kihyun reddens. Of course he’s Hyunwoo’s friend, and of course Hyunwoo forgot to tell him that Kihyun was still in his apartment, potentially bum-naked.

He makes a note to remind himself that Hyunwoo is going to pay for it when he returns. What shall he get him to clean up this time? Maybe wash out his entire fridge, even if it is spick and span from the aid of housekeeping. He just wants to see him suffer.

“Kihyun-ssi?”

Kihyun blinks. “Oh. Sorry. Sorry about all of… that.” He waves an arm, his cheeks blushing a bright pink, and Hoseok chuckles.

“It’s alright. If it makes you feel any better, I have a fiancée.” Hoseok flashes a silver band on his ring finger absentmindedly, and Kihyun does feel a little better, knowing that Hoseok doesn’t swing his way.

“Well, I have what you have, right?” Not the time to make a dick joke, Kihyun.

Hoseok sniggers. “Of varying sizes, but the concept is correct.”

Kihyun needs to stop thinking that the way Hoseok is so overly full of himself is kind of hilarious and truthfully a little endearing. It reminds him a little of Minhyuk.

Or it might be because of pure association -- instead of finding him sleazy and gross, it’s acceptable for him to make this joke and get away with it because he’s Hyunwoo’s friend. Kihyun is starting to see a pattern.

He folds his arms across his chest and Hoseok looks at him with a tight smile, before his gaze is directed towards the mantelpiece behind him, then the painting on the wall beside them, and then he sips on his drink without a word.

Kihyun blinks. “Well. You, uh, sticking around?”

Hoseok sniffs, realising that Kihyun is addressing him. “Oh, uh.” Rubs his nose with the back of his hand. “Yeah, uh, document. Where’s a good place to leave it?”

Kihyun looks at him like he’s an alien. Why does he think it’s a good idea to ask Kihyun that question? It’s not even his apartment.

And why is Kihyun answering the question? It’s not even his apartment.

“I think the coffee table should be fine,” he replies and gestures to the area behind him in the living room, and Hoseok manages to clear his throat, mutters a ‘right’ under his breath before he stalks over to the lounge and plops the folder on the table.

They spend another few seconds just staring at each other awkwardly. Kihyun is ready to turn away and actually begin his shower, but Hoseok is hovering there, like he’s waiting for something to happen.

“Can I… actually help you? Or are you just going to keep standing there?”

Hoseok is thrown out of his trance. “Oh. Oh! Right. Yeah. I should get going.”

“You doing alright, Hoseok-ssi?”

“Hmm? Yeah. Yeah! Tip-top. Don’t worry.”

His body language says anything but that, and Kihyun is curious. He looks like he has a lot to say, words that have been stuck in his system for way too long to be healthy.

“You know, you can just… talk. Instead of looking constipated.” He uncrosses his arms and motions at the whole of Hoseok’s frame, stifling a chuckle when Hoseok glares at him, disgruntled.

“I just…” He plays with his fingers, which is a bit of an amusing sight for a man of his sheer size to be so nervous . He looks like he could break Kihyun into half with just a snap of his wrist, and here he is, seemingly so afraid of just talking to him.

“Yes?” Kihyun feels like he’s luring a child to speak his mind, his eyes encouraging and the ends of his lips pulled up in mild fondness.

“You. Make him happy.” He finally decides on these words after the whole storm raging in his head, and Kihyun tilts his head to the side.

“What?”

“You. Make Hyunwoo happy. It’s… nice.”

Kihyun inhales, and holds it. Hoseok looks everywhere but at Kihyun.

He releases the breath. “I make him happy.” He says it more like a statement than a question, but it does get Hoseok to lift his head and stare at him with a small smile. “Yeah, you do.”

“That’s… cool. I guess?” Kihyun frowns. Shouldn’t that be the job of every sugar baby he’s employed? Why would he recruit them and shower them with love and gifts if they didn’t make him happy?

Hoseok looks like he has more to say, but he stops himself in time, his mouth opening and closing like a fish’s, and he settles for a shrug.

“Yeah. I practically grew up with him, and I just wanted to tell you how much he likes you. He cherishes you a lot, for the kind of relationship that you guys share, of course.”

Kihyun blinks a few times at the response. He doesn’t know how to take it, doesn’t know if Hoseok means well, doesn’t know if it’s just a positive little reminder, or a warning filled with all kinds of danger signs.

“I don’t -- is this --” Kihyun frowns. “Why are you telling me all this?”

Hoseok swallows visibly, and Kihyun returns to crossing his arms. He doesn’t know why, but it feels like Hoseok is putting up a wall between the both of them, all the while trying to placate Kihyun by telling him just how much Hyunwoo likes him.

He doesn’t understand.

“I just -- I just wanted to, I don’t know.” Hoseok looks at his expression of pure bewilderment, and then he waves an arm and breaks into breathy laughter. “You know what, ignore what I said. I’m so tired from work today; I don’t know what I’m saying.”

He doesn’t look like he didn’t know what he was saying, but Kihyun isn’t going to stand here and fish the information out of him. “Alright, then.” He presses his lips together, and Hoseok stares at him again, words still lingering at the side of his lips, hesitant.

“Well, if you have nothing to add, I’m going to take a shower, and you can, uh, see yourself out, I guess.” Kihyun says, and Hoseok nods a beat later, bowing slightly.

Kihyun feels Hoseok’s gaze biting into his back as he retreats into the bathroom, feeling more than a little uncomfortable at the exchange.

He hears the door clicking shut behind him, and he relaxes into himself, finding Hoseok’s words spiralling in his head as he attempts to decipher the meaning of it all.

He forgets a little bit about the meaning of it all when Hyunwoo returns in the afternoon, prepared with warm hugs and tiny kisses.

*****

Kihyun is beautiful. It could be something as simple as another trip to the supermarket, where Hyunwoo unleashes his full potential as a frozen food fiend (Kihyun has to physically pull him away from the section if it means Hyunwoo will live a few more years without the addicting but adverse effects of MSG overload).

It could be a stroll along Hangang, where couples hold hands and share tiny pecks, and Hyunwoo daringly tries them both when there are fewer eyes on them.

It could be Kihyun bounding about excitedly at a street performer, the sparkles in his eyes so bright that Hyunwoo feels like he might just go blind from staring at him, but at the same time, he doesn’t want to look away.

He holds Kihyun in his palms dearly, afraid to let go, afraid to squeeze too tight, for fear that it might hurt the boy, and he feels his heart swelling at every single thought of Kihyun.

Everything he did and was was beautiful. Every time Kihyun smiles at him, he thinks he might have underestimated the power that the boy wielded over him.

And how gorgeous he remembers him to be.

Hyunwoo had dragged Kihyun into his tailor shop, insisted that every man should own a suit or two, and let old Mr. Yang do his measurements. He chuckles at Kihyun fidgeting uneasily as the tailor scrutinised the numbers denoting the circumference of his chest.

A card payment and a promise of the suits being ready in a couple of weeks later, Kihyun doesn’t conceal the gratitude in his eyes and plops a wet kiss on Hyunwoo’s cheek as they’re walking back to his car.

Hyunwoo’s grip on Kihyun’s waist tightens, and so does Kihyun’s grip on his heart.

*****

“Okay, you’re not being very helpful here.”

Minhyuk groans. “God, Ki, you’re the one who’s spent most of your waking moments with the man, not me. I’m not supposed to know what kind of birthday present he’d like.”

The blonde throws his hands up in the air in resignation, and Kihyun lets out a long sigh at the lack of progress. He’s flipped through so many catalogues of perfumes and ties and watches and he still can’t decide on anything. What is there to buy for a man who has everything?

“You know,” Minhyuk says from where he is, tummy flat on the living room floor, voice muffled by the carpet, “you could just send yourself as a lusty parcel. I’m sure he’ll like it.” Looks like Minhyuk’s thrown in the towel.

Kihyun throws a catalogue at him, and the blonde dodges, hollering something about suing Kihyun with a battery charge, which makes Kihyun roll over and pinch his sides anyway.

He screams murder, and Kihyun kicks him in the shin. He gets Minhyuk’s entire palm pressed in his face, and he shrieks.

When the two of them start fighting, the winner is determined only through a real fight of who acts more like a five year-old. Most of the time it’s Minhyuk, and this time there are no surprises as well.

Breathing heavily on their backs as they stare at the ceiling fan, Kihyun bursts into laughter, and Minhyuk is quick to follow.

“You’re so dumb.” He shoves Minhyuk good-naturedly, and the boy just returns the favour with a stronger push, Kihyun making an oof sound as he finds himself a few inches further.

“And you’re an ass. Why am I best friends with you?”

Kihyun chuckles. “Because I clean up the apartment and make sure you and Jooheon don’t die of starvation?”

Minhyuk mulls over the point, and agrees with a nod of his head. “Yeah. You’re kind of good at that. Okay, your Best Friend Card is reissued for another year.”

Kihyun chuckles, kicks Minhyuk softly. “You’re a dick. At least reissue it for another two years.”

Minhyuk grins, his whole face lighting up. “Oh, I forgot to say, I don’t think the card has an expiry date. So I think you’re fine.”

Kihyun mock sighs. “Good. I thought I had to buy you a grand dinner every year just to get my card renewed.”

Minhyuk’s ears perk up. “Well, the dinner thing is still a membership requirement, so.”

Kihyun just laughs, and Minhyuk snickers, the both of them still looking at the peeling ceiling paint, their bodies close to each other, so much so that they can feel the warmth from their previous little fight emitting off their frames.

“So. Birthday gift?” Minhyuk asks, and Kihyun shuffles from where he is. “I’m rethinking your lusty parcel proposal.”

Minhyuk guffaws, his laughter coming out in loud barks, and Kihyun finds himself smiling.

There is a moment of silence before Kihyun speaks up again. “Is everything going okay with you and Hyungwon?”

Minhyuk seems to be jerked back into reality from his thoughts. “Oh? Yeah, it’s going great! First off, the sex is amazing, like --”

Kihyun grimaces and rolls over to cover Minhyuk’s mouth with his palm, the boy struggling to speak as Kihyun just holds his place. “Please, stop. I know the both of you personally, and having to imagine Hyungwon naked is already bad enough. I don’t need the details. Please.”

Minhyuk just chuckles, so Kihyun pulls his hand away cautiously, making sure that Minhyuk isn’t going to talk about his sex life with Hyungwon again. He hasn’t found a need to recite all the plays and kinks he’s explored with Hyunwoo, so he really shouldn’t have privy to Minhyuk’s bedroom stories.

They stay there for a bit, and Minhyuk chimes, “But otherwise, everything is great. He’s very nice to me.”

Kihyun has had to learn and struggle a little with dealing with his own feelings, but he’s slowly coming to terms with it. “That’s good,” he says, and he means it, like he always does, only this time he feels the bitterness fading, and the sour taste on his tongue is not as strong as before.

“Hey.” Kihyun starts, and Minhyuk is pressed against his side. The blonde turns around and throws his leg over Kihyun’s torso. The black-haired boy doesn’t even flinch at the sudden movement, and puts his hand on Minhyuk’s thigh.

“I went to a beach villa with Hyunwoo that time.”

Minhyuk hums. “Was it nice?”

Kihyun laughs. “Nice is an understatement. It was massive. Insane. Looked like a fucking palace, Min, you should have seen it.”

“Stop making me jealous! Now I want to go, too. It’ll be years before Hyungwon can afford anything close to that.”

Kihyun slaps his thigh gently. “What, were you planning to just leech off Hyungwon and not actually amount to anything with your life?”

“He studies law, Ki. Why do I need to amount to anything if I have a rich lawyer boyfriend?” He gives it a moment’s thought. “Plus, I major in Game Design, which in real-world talk means Get Ready for Unemployment, Sucker, so.”

Kihyun laughs. “What the hell does he see in you?”

Minhyuk grins. “The same things you saw in me, I guess.”

It doesn’t strike any painful chords when they bring up their previous relationship. Kihyun remembers a time when it did, when the atmosphere turned awkward the moment anyone brought it up, the way they wouldn’t look each other in the eyes, almost like they were guilty.

On hindsight, Kihyun doesn’t understand what they would have felt guilty about; they were just being the people that they were -- Minhyuk being the clingy and over-affectionate lover, Kihyun being anything but that.

Now they even use it as a joke when Jooheon talks about how close they are. (Kihyun, during his less sober moments when Hyungwon’s around, even jokes: I would know, I’ve dated this guy here before, and let me tell you, he’s a massive pain in the ass.)

Kihyun sucks on his lower lip, and Minhyuk shifts into a slightly more comfortable position. Kihyun lets him, easing into the space.

“Okay, but the villa isn’t the point.”

“Oh?”

Kihyun breathes. “He told me that he’s only brought one other person before.”

Minhyuk blinks. “You didn’t ask who?”

“I didn’t think it was in my place to question.” Kihyun taps his fingers against Minhyuk’s skin, pressing his lips together.

Minhyuk nods. “I get that. It would have been a little rude to ask. But aren’t you curious?” He tilts his head to the side, his pretty eyes looking right at Kihyun, and the black-haired male exhales shakily.

“God, I’m so fucking curious I could cry.” He lets out finally, almost like a wail.

“Were they a sugar baby? An ex-lover? His ex-boyfriend?” Kihyun is rattling on, and he cannot stop. “And why did he bring me there? Do you know he’s had more than a dozen sugar babies so far? And he’s only brought me and one other person there? What does it even mean?”

Minhyuk is quiet for longer than is usual for him, and Kihyun knows he has some decent responses, even if they may not be right. But it beats going without any, and Kihyun is positively going a little crazy at the lack of answers.

“I think… you’re quite special to him.” Minhyuk concludes, and Kihyun realises that the response is not much of a consolation to him at all.

“Well, that’s what Hoseok said.”

Minhyuk frowns. “Who’s Hoseok?”

“Oh. One of Hyunwoo’s friends. He came over to the apartment Tuesday morning to drop off a document and I just happened to be around.” (Butt-naked, he should add, but Kihyun doesn’t feel like oversharing.)

An uneven blink. “What did he say?”

Kihyun tries to remember the conversation as best as he can. “It was weird. Felt off. He said something about me making Hyunwoo really happy, that Hyunwoo cherishes me. But at the end he added something along the lines of ‘well, he likes you enough, at least for whatever your relationship is, anyway’ or something.”

“What does that --”

“I don’t know. He tried to pretend like it wasn’t a thing, but I feel like maybe he was just reminding me that me and Hyunwoo were pure business, and not to get to carried away with thinking that we were more. I don’t know, it was really weird.”

Minhyuk pouts. “He sounds very strange. And kind of a dick.”

Kihyun doesn’t attest to either claim and opts to just relax his mind. He’s been thinking about the mysterious person Hyunwoo has brought to the beach villa, and what Hoseok had meant with his little speech.

Minhyuk is quiet, and then he pipes up. “Are you, though?” Kihyun cocks his head sideways to look at him with a quizzical expression. “Are you more than pure business?” He asks, and Kihyun knows that Minhyuk is without judgement, knows that he is without bias, and he would never say a single nasty thing about Kihyun and his choices.

But maybe it is not Minhyuk’s judgement he fears as much as it’s his own.

“We’re friends. I like him.”

Minhyuk seems to really appreciate that Kihyun’s growingly more honest with himself, and chooses to reward him the only way he knows how to -- cuddles.

Sidling up to Kihyun’s side, he slots himself beneath his arms and lets Kihyun wrap his limbs around all of him, and they present as a single ball of flesh and skin and pyjamas.

He’s so comfortable around Minhyuk, his best friend smelling like a basket of fresh laundry -- his candle choices are becoming extremely specific lately -- and his warmth so inviting.

Kihyun misplaces the thought of missing the scent of musk and aftershave and a pair of much bulkier arms holding him in place.

*****

“So all of this had a bigger plot in place,” Kihyun says sternly, but he does slip his arm into the sleeve when Hyunwoo offers it. Hyunwoo chuckles, and when Kihyun turns back to look at him, he pinches his puffy cheeks and boops his nose.

“You can choose to not go, you know.” Hyunwoo flattens out the shoulder pads for Kihyun and takes a step back to admire the view. Kihyun chews on the insides of his cheeks.

“Hell no. A chance to drink all the champagne I want while boring socialites talk about art and music? Sounds like my kind of party.” The boy winks, and Hyunwoo breaks into laughter again.

He’s so lovable. Every part of him is just so endearing. He couldn’t bring himself to dislike any inch of him even if he tried.

“We can people-watch,” Kihyun states, Hyunwoo nodding his head at how the edges and lines fit him perfectly. The suit blazer hugs his frame in the most flattering way possible. Hyunwoo’s heart is in his throat when Kihyun does a little twirl in front of the long mirror.

“What do you think?” Kihyun asks, even though Hyunwoo can tell from the smug look on his face that he’s more than happy with the outfit.

“Stunning. As you always are.”

A pink tint surfaces on his clear cheeks, and it spreads warmly over his neck, his ears. Hyunwoo has to resist to pull him into his arms, because Mr. Yang is definitely observing them in the corner, and while Hyunwoo is unapologetically gay, he’d prefer to not scandalise the old man into an early demise.

“You’re really cheesy, you know that?”

All his efforts of keeping his distance and not publicly displaying affection is shut down immediately by Kihyun taking tiny steps forward, until he’s all up in his personal space, until he’s almost completely pressed up against Hyunwoo, until Hyunwoo can smell his own shampoo in Kihyun’s hair.

The scent reminds him of just how much time Kihyun has spent at his apartment. He suddenly wonders if he’d logged Kihyun’s working hours accurately and paid him accordingly, the way he should have. He’ll have to sort it out with Changkyun later.

Kihyun’s smaller frame just a hair’s breadth away, Hyunwoo caves in, and wraps his arm around his shoulder, printing a tiny kiss on his scalp.

Kihyun exhales, and he feels it against his own flesh.

“You’re warm,” Kihyun mutters, and Hyunwoo can feel his heart thumping against Kihyun’s ear.

“It’s one of my strong suits.”

Kihyun laughs, because they’re in a tailor shop, trying out suits, and Hyunwoo realises his unintended pun belatedly, rolls his eyes because Kihyun is tickled at something so silly.

They stay there for minutes, until Hyunwoo pulls away, saying something about not wanting to crumple the new outfit, Kihyun whining at the lack of physical contact when they move apart.

Kihyun has the brightest glint in his eyes when Hyunwoo looks down at him. He ignores the possibility of old Mr. Yang mortified in a corner, and leaves a searing kiss on his soft, thin lips.

All his moments with Kihyun create a soundproof bubble, where the Earth stops spinning on its axis, like they’re the only two people on the planet.

Hyunwoo sees the universe through Kihyun’s beautiful eyes, how they contain his entire world in them. And fuck, Hyunwoo thinks, when Kihyun’s eyes turn into crescents, he’s done messed up this time.

*****

Kihyun looks ravishing. He’s looking himself in the mirror, adjusting his bow tie, and Hyunwoo is staring forlornly from where he is, sitting on the edge of the bed.

He wonders if the world can tell how smitten he is from his sickeningly sweet gazes, and if Kihyun will take note of how absolutely weak Hyunwoo is for him. Kihyun already gets away with most things, reduced the typically domineering and bossy Hyunwoo into a meek kitten, acceding to all of Kihyun’s requests.

He could never really say no to all his sugar babies, especially not when they wear those big watery eyes and stare into his soul, but with Kihyun, it’s like the boy didn’t even need to try.

“You look dashing,” Kihyun says as Hyunwoo’s eyes are fixated on all of him, and he’s jolted out of his reverie. He stands to pose beside Kihyun, the boy filled with giggles as he slings his hand through Hyunwoo’s ready arm.

He feels so adult, all of a sudden, but the idea of Hyunwoo standing beside him in all his suave, magnificent glory puts him to ease.

“We look good.” He finally settles on saying, and Hyunwoo laughs. He’s not wrong. They are a very handsome couple.

Kihyun is cocking his head to the side, looking at their reflections in the mirror. Hyunwoo is overcome by the emotions, emotions he refuses to place a finger on. Kihyun looks so small, so soft, so absolutely delectable, and Hyunwoo doesn’t know what to do.

In all the 30 years of his life, he thought he’d managed to sort his feelings out, knew what he wanted out of his life, out of people, out of relationships and what they meant to him.

And he finds the previous knowledge he’s built up over the three decades tumbling down unceremoniously, cracking at ground level, and he’s back to square one. Back to being Son Hyunwoo, aged 20, young, immature, susceptible to people’s harsh words, vulnerable to getting his heart broken.

It was one of the downsides of having too much love. Hyunwoo got his heart broken a lot easier, and fell a lot harder, quicker.

Kihyun is unknowingly holding a knife atop his heart, poised towards its centre, and if Hyunwoo’s heart grows any larger, he’d find himself taunting the blade. Find beads of blood trickling down as the tip carved into the organ, find himself in a puddle of his own heartbreak. Back to square one.

It aches, in all the right places for all the wrong reasons, and Hyunwoo cups Kihyun’s face in his hand, shifting it softly to hold the back of his head as he kisses him fiercely, taste the gloss on his lips, feel the shock in his rigidity.

And then Kihyun relaxes into his hold, hands coming up on either side of his face, and kisses him back, tender, and Hyunwoo’s heart breaks again, from how much he wants this, and how much he shouldn’t want this.

Thin lips shaping around his, tracing the contours of his face expertly, Kihyun’s kiss evolves. It’s hard, passionate, and truthfully a bit overwhelming with Hyunwoo’s surge of emotions. But he doesn’t let go.

Hyunwoo knows he’s selfish, knows he’s been trying to hold on to something he shouldn’t, but it’s almost impossible to let go when he’s face to face with the beautiful Kihyun, Kihyun who holds the galaxy in his eyes.

His thumb rubbing gentle circles on Kihyun’s cheek while his kiss is powerful, Hyunwoo steals both their breaths away.

*****

The ballroom is elegant and smells like roses. Kihyun’s eyes are wide as Hyunwoo ushers him into the room, chuckling a little at how in awe he is at his surroundings. A live orchestra is playing a classical piece Kihyun finds familiar but doesn’t know the name of. Ladies and gentlemen dressed to the nines, beautiful flowy dresses and smart, clean-cut suits with gelled up hair.

Kihyun feels like a fish out of water, and he holds onto Hyunwoo’s arm a little tighter.

“Wow,” he whispers, staring dazedly at the large chandelier as Hyunwoo pulls his arm away to pick up two glasses of champagne from a server walking around with a tray.

The boy accepts the drink with a small smile, and sighs as he takes his first sip. Hyunwoo laughs, just thinks he’s cute, and his arm returns to hang on Hyunwoo’s again.

“A charity ball, right?” Kihyun asks, his voice small. Hyunwoo nods. “This is the kind of thing you see only in movies.”

Hyunwoo chuckles. “Well, do you feel like Bruce Wayne?”

Kihyun blinks. “A bit more like Rachel Dawes, if I’m honest.”

A loud ringing from Hyunwoo’s laugh. “Am I supposed to be Harvey Dent, or Batman?”

Kihyun seems to take the question very seriously. “I think Harvey Dent. Because you’re two-faced, you know, soft and nice on the inside, stoic and stern on the outside.”

Hyunwoo scowls, and it’s not a good look on him. He flicks Kihyun gently on his arm, and the boy just bursts into deafening laughter. “What, I’m not the attractive, promiscuous, rich and gruff-voiced playboy billionaire?”

Kihyun laughs, settling down a little when he realises he might be a bit too loud for the occasion, and pats Hyunwoo on his hand. “Sure, sure, you can be whatever you say you are.”

Hyunwoo tells him off lightly for being so patronising, but Kihyun’s smile is blinding, and Hyunwoo thinks he doesn’t mind being teased longer if he’ll earn such a brilliant look in return.

“Oh, Hyunwoo-ssi, hello. It’s been a while.” A voice travels from their left, and Kihyun whips around to find himself uncomfortably close to a middle-aged man, his hair slicked back and his tuxedo long, black, trimmed neatly at the ends.

He gasps a little at the proximity and backs away as Hyunwoo holds him in place. “And you too, CEO Kim.” Hyunwoo’s hold on Kihyun’s arm tightens, and the boy raises his head to stare at him. His jaw is locked, his eyes cold.

The man chuckles. “Ah, so ceremonious with me. I feel like an outsider already.”

Hyunwoo doesn’t return the chuckle, just acknowledges his presence with a slight nod. Hyunwoo doesn’t look like he enjoys this CEO Kim’s company very much.

The man’s eyes travelling to Kihyun, he looks at him from top to bottom, scanning every bit of him closely. The boy squirms from the scrutiny, and Hyunwoo grabs onto him, keeps him grounded.

“And who do we have here? Your new little…” He gesticulates generally at Kihyun’s entire existence, putting out his index finger, as if trying to place the right word. “Lover boy?”

Hyunwoo’s voice is tight. “This is Kihyun.”

Kihyun bows in surprise, coming back up to see Mr Kim wearing a smirk on his face, and a shiver runs down his spine.

“This one’s a looker, CEO Son. You know how to choose the good ones, as always.” He says all this with a lilt in his voice, and Kihyun frowns. Why does this feel like an underhanded compliment? He’s not a piece of merchandise, and he’s starting to feel very uneasy talking to him. Hyunwoo’s expression hardens, and so does his grip.

“Did you come alone today?” Hyunwoo attempts to change the topic, and the man seems to be glad to be asked the personal question.

“No, I brought one of my pretty playthings with me today as well.” He raises a brow as he stares at Kihyun, and the boy simmers in anger. He blinks a few times just to make sure he’s heard right, because while he and Hyunwoo may not be boyfriends, he is not one of Hyunwoo’s purchased goods.

He’s about to step out and rack up an argument with CEO Kim when Hyunwoo’s urging pull on his arm holds him back. Shooting him a disapproving look, Kihyun huffs as he moves back into his position beside Hyunwoo, lets him hold his arm as he strokes the back of his hand soothingly.

“I see. Enjoying the night? I heard the news about your stocks falling with Samsung pulling out of a pretty big project? The company must be doing well now that you’ve found the time to attend the ball.”

CEO Kim sees red, but he takes it as gracefully as he can, fire blazing behind his narrowed eyes.

“It’s doing fine.” His response is curt, but his eyes are glinting with a different spark when he poses his next question. “What about your father? I take it that he’s doing well?”

Hyunwoo nods. “He is, thank you for the concern.”

“Is he still the stubborn old bull? I remember your first lover boy, Hyunwoo-ssi, what was his name, Jae… something-Jae? He was your first one, wasn’t he? Your father was so mad at your ‘preferences’, I heard he went off at you in front of your company’s employees.”

Hyunwoo visibly flinches at the name, and Kihyun looks up at him with concern on his face. Jae?

Hyunwoo keeps his temper in check, though Kihyun can feel his entire frame quivering. He doesn’t know how to help, just moves closer to Hyunwoo as he presses the pad of his thumb atop his tight knuckles.

“That was a long time ago, Sir. About a decade ago, actually. I’m surprised you even remember.” He can feel Hyunwoo’s anger boiling from within, and Kihyun just holds on tighter, ready to hold him back if it evolves into a fist fight.

But of course gentlemen don’t engage in physical scuffles. They merely involve themselves in sarcastic and insults embedded behind deceitful smiles, subtly attack each other’s ego in a show of who has more money or power.

“It was a huge argument, I recall. Hardly something I can easily forget. Your father said some very harsh words that I still remember to this day.”

Hyunwoo presses his lips together. “Well, good to know you have a splendid memory despite your age. It’s almost like the years haven’t caught up to you at all! Mentally, of course.” He does a long look at CEO Kim’s face, and a smug smile surfaces on his face.

The wrinkles in the man’s skin seems to deepen at the poke at his age, but he laughs with his teeth showing, slapping a hand on Hyunwoo’s arm.

“You’re such a hilarious person, you know that?”

Hyunwoo shakes his head, polite. “You overestimate me.”

CEO Kim doesn’t appear to have much in retaliation, and after a mild tip of his glass, he takes his leave to speak to someone else. Hyunwoo is rooted on the spot, his stance rigid, Kihyun still gripping onto his arm.

“Hey,” Kihyun’s voice is small and soft. There are way too many questions on his mind, but he focusses on Hyunwoo and the way he’s seething, his breath heavy. “Are you alright?”

Hyunwoo is shaken out of his trance and looks down at Kihyun wearing a look of worry. “Huh?” He smiles. “I’m fine. Don’t worry.”

Kihyun is not convinced, but Hyunwoo looks down at him wearing an indecipherable expression. Kihyun decides not to push it, and latches himself onto his arm again. “Okay, if you say so.”

The awkward moment washes through them, then washes itself out. Kihyun jumps in wonderment at the sight of an ice carving of a crane, dragging Hyunwoo along to marvel at the craft, and it’s like all traces of the conversation has disappeared.

The rest of the night is filled with polite greetings, mostly boring talk about businesses and shares and things that don’t interest Kihyun. He did, however, strike a particularly deep conversation with an old man about theatre and musicals.

Kihyun was fine on his own, and Hyunwoo, who took several looks around to make sure that he was still there, kept finding a smile surfacing on his face. He fluttered around, talking to people who bothered to speak to him, and kept to the refreshments when he wasn’t being talked to.

Hyunwoo allows himself to slip for a minute or two, and thinks about holding Kihyun by his arm and announcing him to everyone proudly, to put a label on someone who was never his to possess.

Because what were they, right now, in the eyes of common folk? Folk who think beautifully of romantic relationships and consider contracts of their nature horrible products of the mercenary, intended to ruin the sanctity of romance.

Hyunwoo doesn’t have labels for them, because his current labels aren’t accepted by the public, and anything more than that is more than what the both of them had bargained for.

Then he shudders, and Hyunwoo understands that he no longer walks the line precariously. He has tripped and fallen onto the other side, and if he isn’t careful, there will be no turning back.

*****

Kihyun’s perhaps had more than a few glasses of champagne, and had decided that it was appropriate to start swaying aggressively to classical music in the middle of the dance floor where the rest slow-danced.

Hyunwoo had to apologise to the patrons, and dragged Kihyun out, the boy still swinging his head as if he was in a rock concert, giggles escaping him like bubbles. Hyunwoo just shakes his head as he escorts him out, holding onto him like he were a child.

Kihyun is fortunately not the kind to kick up a fuss, still chuckling and singing to an 80s dance hit as his head is still in the clouds, and Hyunwoo manages to get away with it by nodding apologetically to everyone in his way.

Calling for his chauffeur, Hyunwoo drags Kihyun into the back of the car when the vehicle pulls up in front of them. Kihyun falls inelegantly into Hyunwoo’s lap and snorts loudly, burrowing the back of his head deeper into Hyunwoo’s thighs.

The older man sucks in a quick breath at how Kihyun is pressed up against his crotch, but he doesn’t say anything.

It is silent, save for Kihyun’s humming, soft whines escaping his chest. Hyunwoo cards his fingers through his hair, appreciates the peace and quiet that they’ve found in the moment.

“Hey Hyunwoo?” His voice cracks on the last syllable, and Hyunwoo laughs at the sudden normalcy.

“Yes baby?”

“I have a question.” Kihyun drawls as he sinks deeper into Hyunwoo’s lap, his words slurring together.

“Okay, can it wait till tomorrow? Because you can barely talk in sentences, and while it’s kind of amusing, I think you just really need to be in bed right now.” He tries his best to not laugh, and Kihyun is feeling buzzed, feeling the alcohol run through his system, fuels him with bravery he didn’t know he possessed. It was now or never.

“No, I want to ask it now.” He sounds like a child again, whining and demanding for a piece of sweet.

And Hyunwoo never could put up a fight when it comes to Kihyun, so he sighs and say okay, running his fingers through his black hair softly.

There is a full minute of silence and Hyunwoo thinks Kihyun must have dozed off, so he leans forward to peek at the boy. He jumps when Kihyun finally speaks.

“Who’s… Jae?”

Hyunwoo stiffens. Kihyun can feel his thigh muscles tightening, and he breathes shallow. “Who?”

“Jae. The guy CEO Kim was talking about.”

Hyunwoo swallows, his fingers lost their way in Kihyun’s hair, and he clears his throat for no particular reason. “Oh. Jae,” he croaks, and Kihyun shifts in his lap, until he’s facing upwards, and he stares momentarily at the car’s ceiling before glancing over at Hyunwoo.

The man is uncharacteristically nervous, and Kihyun feels bad immediately for asking. Why, he had no right to ask anything of Hyunwoo. He shouldn’t have questions in the first place, not to say answers for said questions.

“It’s okay if you don’t want to answer.” Kihyun says quietly, his hand falling slack beside him, and his head is spinning. He doesn’t know why he wants to know so desperately. It felt strange that Hyunwoo knew almost everything there was to know about him, and yet he knew close to nothing about the man and his past outside of his Wikipedia page and a few magazine interviews.

Hyunwoo exhales loudly, and Kihyun can feel the sigh leaving him. Hyunwoo is conflicted. He doesn’t think it’s right to bare his heart to Kihyun. Not now, not ever. This wasn’t what he signed up for, not really. He was here to pamper him and give him what he wanted, and received love and affection in return.

He didn’t needed to know of Hyunwoo’s insecurities and emotional baggages and tiptoe around him because of his past.

Yet at the same time, Hyunwoo feels like he’s about to burst from the seams from just how much he’s carrying. He thinks he can readily admit that he’s in love with Kihyun, and the idea is terrifying, because Kihyun is beautiful, but he is also not Hyunwoo’s boyfriend.

He wants to desperately to talk to someone about it, but Hoseok has heard him whine for way too many years, and he knows what the advice will be. It’s been what it was for the past couple of times anyway.

So he takes in a deep breath, and looks away from Kihyun’s eager gaze. If he’s going to share this story, then he’ll do it without wanting to smother Kihyun endlessly.

“He was, uh, a boyfriend. The first one, you could say.”

Kihyun blinks. He’s telling the story. He’s sharing things past his Wikipedia page, and Kihyun doesn’t know how this makes him feel. For now, he’s honoured to have privy to his personal life.

“He’s the only one I brought to the beach villa, if you remember.” Hyunwoo says, runs his fingers through his own hair as he keeps his gaze trained straight in front of him.

Of course Kihyun remembers. It’s one of those things that have stayed on his mind for weeks without a solution.

“He was my first boyfriend. My dad hated him.” Hyunwoo chuckles, like reminiscing a fond memory, and chews on his lower lip. Kihyun freezes in his lap, afraid to even breathe.

“I mean, I was a little silly as well.” He swallows. “I don’t know why, but I always felt the need to take control. So I liked to show him around, liked to announce to people that he was my boyfriend, and I think at that point of time I assumed that was what we were.”

He blinks, looks further away. “To be honest, I don’t quite remember how we got together. It was one of those sort of implicit arrangements where we just saw each other more and more, went on dates, slept together, and then I just took things into my own hands and thought, you know, that’s my boyfriend. He’s the one.

But it wasn’t like he actively rejected the notion either. He didn’t clarify things with me, let me think what I thought, and when I introduced him as my boyfriend to other people, he would nod and smile, and I thought it was okay.”

Kihyun doesn’t know if he should speak up, but he does anyway. “It does sound like he was agreeable.”

“Yeah. I thought so, too. But I mean, I was also pretty overbearing. Outside of finding a need to put ‘Son Hyunwoo’ name stickers all over him, I called him frequently, asked if he was free, if he was out for lunch with a friend I’d ask who they were, I’d sulk and complain if he said he didn’t have time for me, would speak to his boss -- who was an old friend of mine -- to let him have time off so that he can spend it with me.”

Kihyun winces. That sounds like a nightmare, and he thinks Hyunwoo knows it himself, because he breaks into embarrassed laughter, and scrubs his face with his palms.

“It’s really shitty, I know. But he was my first relationship, and my father was very against us. Against us, or me being gay, I don’t know, but there was a lot of stress and tension, and I thought, you know, if I was going to be fighting against the world for him, I’d want him to fight alongside me.”

Kihyun turns silent, but has picked up Hyunwoo’s hand and rubs soft circles on the back of it. Hyunwoo smiles weakly.

“But I don’t really know if I was fighting for him or for myself, because it wasn’t like my father wouldn’t have a problem with me if only I changed a boyfriend. It wasn’t him he was unhappy about, I don’t think. In any case, I was going to take over the company, and my coming out made him really upset, so there was a lot of confusion and pressure from everywhere, and the company was waiting for someone to take over. It was… a mess.” He gestures plainly to the air before him with his free arm, and Kihyun hums in approval, urging him to go on.

“Anyway. I was silly. On hindsight, maybe he didn’t really love me all that much. Maybe I was just a financial pillar all along, an emotional support to some extent, but I was never really his lover. I couldn’t understand why it was so difficult to have my questions about his whereabouts answered.

I just assumed that that was how things worked, that in love, couples were relenting and dealt with each other’s bullshit just to maintain stability in a relationship.

But I was naive. I thought that if I gave enough love, that I was then allowed to ask questions. I was allowed to know where he had gone to in the middle of the night, to ask him about his day, to check on what he’s doing.”

Kihyun continues to rub circles into his hand, and Hyunwoo’s muscles in his forearm tighten.

“Obviously he didn’t like that, seeing as he thought of our relationship as something more… disposable. So we argued a lot, shed a lot of tears, and it sounds really stupid, but I thought that that was what made our love stronger. That in order for a relationship to be foolproof, we had to argue about things, and that was normal. So I continued to love him, if not more, because I was convinced this relationship, along with its ups and more importantly its downs, was going to blossom and I was going to find happiness.

And I enjoyed spoiling him, pampering him with gifts and compliments and encouraging words, but I also wanted more. I wanted reciprocation, wanted affirmation, wanted him to answer the questions that bugged me for too long.”

Hyunwoo flips his hand over to take Kihyun’s smaller one in his, and holds tightly onto him. He’s still looking away, no trace of an emotion on his face. Kihyun blinks, stares blankly at his well-shaved chin.

“So I woke up one day in December, to find my room cleared out of all his belongings. He changed his phone number, quit his job, basically disappeared off the face of the Earth. And I tried to look for him for a bit, but by then I think I already knew what was going on. I went into a downward spiral for the longest time, resorted to alcohol and smokes to relieve stress. My father seemed delighted that I was so down, because he thought it would change my mind about boys, that I would stop liking males because one had broken my heart so severely.”

He laughs, humourless, and Kihyun feels his grip loosen a little before he holds onto him again.

“It took me years to move on from him, to even consider getting into a relationship. But I don’t know, it was in that time where I started to get control over the company, and I knew that a boyfriend would complicate matters, would put him in the spotlight, would inconvenience everyone. Most of all, because I now had the money, and I was tired of arguments, tired of possibly falling in love with someone who didn’t love me back, people who don’t reciprocate my feelings. I didn’t want to beg anymore, didn’t want to ask for something I would never get, didn’t want to demean the value of my love.”

He clears his throat.

“So I decided that I was going to invest in sugar babies, where the ability to give love and receive love worked in the exact same way, without the commitment. I knew exactly what I was signing up for, written in black and white, in pen and paper, and there was no reading between the lines, no second-guessing myself and their feelings, wondering if they felt the same way about me.

It was an exchange of services -- if I didn’t find the sugar baby deserving of my affection, my money, and if I didn’t feel like I was getting enough out of the deal, I would simply call it off.”

For the first time, he looks down at Kihyun with slight amusement in his eyes. “Easy. Easy, right?”

His gaze moves away again, trained on a single spot on the leather seat in front of him. The driver is plugged into earphones, completely deaf to their conversation.

“But my first sugar baby relationship wasn’t anything but that. It was a boy with bright sparkles in his eyes, a skip in his step, a chipper lad who was more than happy to please and eager to placate. I tried my best to be distant, cold, stoic, because really, I just didn’t know how to regulate my feelings. It was always taking a dip in the deep waters, and then immediately sinking into them.

I started reverting to my old self, started asking questions where they’re not warranted, drawing lines that weren’t there before.”

He purses his lips, Kihyun shifting slightly on his lap, now staring at a small mole on his jaw. He wants to reach out to touch it, but Hyunwoo is also very absorbed in his story.

“The sugar baby realised what I had wanted out of the agreement was more than what he had asked for. Easy, really, because calling off a deal worked both ways, and soon I found himself without a sugar baby, and I’m the one being left behind yet again.”

He huffs, tries to move himself into a more comfortable position, Kihyun adjusting accordingly.

“So my heart hardened some more. Transactional. That was the word for any of my relationships, and any amount of affection I get was only valuable as a trade-off for more gifts. It wasn’t a bad thing, I just had to wrap my head around it a little bit more, gave myself some time and space to digest the information. That’s why I say it takes practice. Because it does. Because I had to change from being the man who falls in love with people easily to being the man who still does that, but knowing where the boundaries are.

I didn’t think it was anything shameful to ask for love by spending money. After all, I was brought up in a household where they taught me that there was a price tag for everything under the sun, and while I had initially rejected the propaganda, I had slowly began to believe it myself.” He laughs, light, but still mirthless, and Kihyun feels his grip on his hand harden.

“It took a lot of trial and error. I tried his best to keep my distance, to busy myself with work so I wouldn’t overthink my feelings or obsess over my baby’s free time away from me. But then I started to feel like it defeated the purpose of putting money into the agreement, so I slowly sorted out my own attitude, sentiments and my overall take on the whole situation.”

A sigh.

“Tuning myself into the optimal state wasn’t easy. I struggled with a few more cases of failed relationships that always sent me into a spiral of guilt and self-loathe, but then I pick myself up, build stronger fences around my heart, and will myself to not give in.”

Kihyun speaks again. “That sounds like a lot of effort.”

Hyunwoo laughs. “It is. But it’s that, or get your heart shattered into tiny pieces. I’d rather work harder to regulate my own feelings, but everything else remaining clear-cut and uncomplicated, than fall in love recklessly, only for them to smash me into smithereens. It’s not fun dealing with a break-up and stuff.”

“So how did you go?”

“Well, by the time I met Changkyun, I had shuffled past a good number of sugar babies. Sometimes it was me, other times it was them. The one requirement that I needed to satisfy to make sure that I didn’t fall into the deep end was ensuring that the other party didn’t, too. I was quick to cut off connections when I realised that my sugar baby was becoming more attached.

It wasn’t what we both wanted, after all, and in my case, I suppose it was more of me not daring to want it than not actually wanting it.”

Hyunwoo stiffens a little at the realisation that he’s overshared. He promised a story, not an internal monologue. “But it doesn’t matter; I’m not going to make the same mistakes again.”

Kihyun breathes, and Hyunwoo does the same, seemingly not about to add more to his little revelation, and Kihyun doesn’t know if the boulder that was on his shoulders has disappeared, or just grew heavier.

Hyunwoo, on the other hand, certainly feels lighter already, and he’s glad he told this to Kihyun -- mildly drunk Kihyun at that, and hopefully he’ll forget parts of this conversation tomorrow morning. Jae is still a bit of a sore spot for him, but Hyunwoo is slowly forgetting the details of their relationship, even his face is a blurred in his memories, and Hyunwoo has never felt happier.

He pales when he realises that the face in his memories is replaced by an equally familiar one, the face in front of him right now, the face that’s half-covered because he’s pressing his forehead against Hyunwoo’s flat stomach and exhaling loudly. Kihyun doesn’t look like he’s about to give a direct response any time soon, and Hyunwoo laughs quietly despite himself.

Hyunwoo can only hope that telling Kihyun his little story won’t come back to bite him in the ass, and as Kihyun frowns while drifting off to dreamland, he bends down to press a soft kiss into his hair, smiling as he saves an image of the boy in his lap, etching it into the prints of his brain.

Chapter Text

Hyunwoo half-expects things to be awkward. Maybe Kihyun will pity him, maybe he’ll realise that Hyunwoo isn’t the man he thought he was. Maybe he’d keep his distance and they’d inevitably grow apart.

(Hyunwoo doesn’t want to admit it to himself, but it sounds like a much more viable plan if Kihyun decides to leave.)

And because he didn’t know what kind of reaction Kihyun would give, Hyunwoo chooses to sleep in the guest room, staring at the ceiling blankly until sleep finds him slowly. He doesn’t know if he’s worried or relieved.

Drowsiness comes on and off, and Hyunwoo feels himself drifting further and further away, his eyes closing gently, until there is a small knock on the door, and Hyunwoo cracks open an eye to see the boy by the doorway, looking small.

Hyunwoo had changed him out of his suit and dressed him in one of his larger t-shirts, and Kihyun stands in the shadows of the night, his hair a gelled-up mess.

“Why are you not in bed?” Kihyun’s voice is tiny, scratchy, and he shifts his weight from his left to his right leg, the hem of Hyunwoo’s shirt riding up his pale thighs.

“I, uh. Thought you might want to have the bed to yourself.” Hyunwoo is nervous, which is a strange notion it and of itself, and he can hear Kihyun’s breathing from where he is.

His eyes finally adjusting to the darkness, he catches Kihyun’s sleepy eyes gazing back at him curiously, and there is a lump in his throat he can’t seem to swallow.

The boy sniffs from where he is, rubbing his eyes like a child, and Hyunwoo tries his best to not coo at him. “I can’t sleep,” Kihyun says matter-of-factly when Hyunwoo doesn’t make motions for him to come over, and Hyunwoo chuckles. “You seemed to be sleeping just fine when I tucked you in.”

Kihyun presses his lips together. Is Hyunwoo teasing or is he just dense?

“I was drunk. Sleep comes easy when you’re tipsy.”

Kihyun can’t make out Hyunwoo’s expressions, but he imagines his left brow hiked in skepticism. But it never did take an invitation for Yoo Kihyun to send himself hurtling Hyunwoo’s way, anyway.

His feet dragging along the carpeted ground, Hyunwoo doesn’t have the will to resist when Kihyun towers over him with an apparent pout on his face. He shifts to the other side of the bed and leaves out a large space for Kihyun, sighing as the boy curls into his arms.

“Plus, I’m cold,” Kihyun adds, and Hyunwoo laughs. “You’re already in my bed, you don’t need to find more excuses.”

He thinks he sees Kihyun scowl into his chest, but Hyunwoo just guffaws, bringing Kihyun along as he shakes with laughter.

They lay in silence for moments, the windows sealed shut, but a steady flow of wind from the door that Kihyun opened and forgot to close behind him seeps in, and Hyunwoo is half-ready to slide out of his duvets to close the door when Kihyun speaks, soft.

“Is this about your story?”

Hyunwoo realises that while Kihyun had majorly shortchanged him on the observant front, maybe he has also underestimated the boy’s ability to read into things easily. He plays dumb.

“Is what about my story?”

Kihyun blinks. “You. Coming to sleep in the guest room.”

Hyunwoo laughs, strained. “No. Why would you think that?”

Kihyun smiles, soft, a little bitter. “Come on. There can’t be much else, can there? You’re literally clinging onto me whenever you see me, and now you’re creating space between us? It has to be the story.”

Hyunwoo feels like the cat’s gotten his tongue, and he stares a little dumbly at Kihyun, shivering as the cold clamps on his toes. He shuffles them under his duvets.

Kihyun breathes quietly, his face hidden from sight, but Hyunwoo imagines the moonlight catching on his sharp angles, soaking his silhouette in a beautiful shower of light, and the cold sneaks through in tiny streams again.

“I guess?” Hyunwoo finally decides, and he hears him chuckle.

Not expecting the sudden movement, Hyunwoo’s eyes widen as Kihyun shifts and flips himself around so that he’s face-to-face with Hyunwoo and his startled expression. He laughs, and they relax into one another, Hyunwoo’s left arm coming to rest on the small of Kihyun’s back instinctively.

The touch feather-like, Kihyun traces Hyunwoo’s nose bridge with the tip of his index finger, the man scrunching up his nose at the contact. He whispers as softly as he touches. “What are you afraid of?”

Hyunwoo shudders, but he’ll blame it on the wind if Kihyun asks.

His eyes fall on Kihyun’s black fringe, and he reaches out to push it away. The boy’s bright almond eyes on display, Hyunwoo sucks in a deep breath.

“I don’t want you to hate me.”

Kihyun frowns a little. “Why would I hate you? You told me how you felt, and everyone should be allowed to do that. Besides, there’s nothing to hate. You were hurt, you put up your fences, but you didn’t just sit back and let the hurt fester. You thought of a way out, and made it work for you. Why would I hate you?”

Hyunwoo swallows. “I don’t want your pity either.”

Kihyun’s gaze turns gentle. “And you don’t have it. It’s not sympathy as much as it’s empathy, and I can’t help the latter.”

“You don’t think I’m… too transaction-oriented? You’re not put off by how desperate I am to make this about protecting my own interests?”

Kihyun laughs light. “Then I suppose I would be put off with myself, too. I did agree to this exchange of services for money, didn’t I? We’re both in it for ourselves, aren’t we?”

And Hyunwoo feels a lump in his throat he can’t down, not knowing why the line he’s thrown out so casually to his other sugar babies feels like a slice to his gut when Kihyun says it.

He’s not wrong, of course he isn’t. Hyunwoo is just a whirlpool of confusion, that’s all.

He hesitates, but he settles for a nod. “Of course.”

Kihyun has a trace of uneasiness on his face -- Hyunwoo understands him well enough over the past few months to read his emotions like an open book -- but he wipes it off cleanly before tipping his chin and burying his nose into the crook of Hyunwoo’s neck.

He breathes in the muskiness and lets the fumes fill his head up. Hyunwoo stays very still, only the thumping of his heartbeat resounding in the room that’s too large for the both of them.

And when Kihyun cocks his head up to look at Hyunwoo with his beautiful almond eyes, Hyunwoo feels the wrench in his gut, throws inhibition out the window, and kisses him.

God, he loves him, he realises, and he hates it. He shouldn’t. He’s confessed loving his sugar babies one too many times, but each time he knew how to control himself, knew what were the boundaries and where his feelings ended.

Yet with Kihyun, he finds his infatuation for the boy extending past the horizons, dipping into the deep end, never to be seen again. Hyunwoo wants to cry, wants to deny it all, but Kihyun’s lips are moving against his sensuously, and he was never one to say no to temptation.

Flipping their positions around, Hyunwoo finds himself caging Kihyun up between his sturdy arms, and there is a mischievous glint in Kihyun’s eyes. But Hyunwoo is not in the mood to play. Today, it’s not about dominating Kihyun and seeing how far he can push him to go.

Today, it’s about Hyunwoo being honest with himself, and letting out all the pent-up emotions he had dared to harbour for Kihyun.

He kisses him again, holds himself up with a single arm as the other comes to cup his cheek tenderly. Kihyun keens under his touch, his back arching up instinctively. Hyunwoo marvels at how gracefully Kihyun falls against his hold, curving in and filling up the places where they touch.

And then Hyunwoo realises that he has become the person he’d sworn to never be again, but Kihyun glows under the moonlight, and Hyunwoo’s heart aches so desperately for him.

He kisses him once more, his body pressed flush against Kihyun’s smaller frame, and he feels Kihyun throwing his arms across his shoulder, trapping him into a loop with his arms.

Hyunwoo shouldn’t cry, he really shouldn’t, and then Kihyun kisses him so softly, so tenderly, so affectionately, Hyunwoo thinks he can lie to himself in the next few moments, pretend that they’re a couple -- a real one -- and consummate their love. Their love? His love, for Hyunwoo may be hopeful, but he isn’t delusional, and what he wants (what is it he wants?) is not what Kihyun wants.

And that’s okay, maybe, because Kihyun’s breathing turns heavy, and Hyunwoo sees the lust evident in his eyes, sees the way he looks at Hyunwoo darkly, like he’s just asking to devour or be devoured.

They kiss, teeth clashing against each other’s like amateurs, and Kihyun is pushing Hyunwoo’s t-shirt off of him impatiently, inhales deeply before attaching their lips again.

Kihyun brushes his fingers across Hyunwoo’s nipples, and Hyunwoo whines low in his throat. Kihyun smiles lightly, like he’s proud of himself. Hyunwoo kisses him again, his touch feather-like, and Kihyun’s breath is warm against his skin.

Then he peels his clothes off gently, throws his own shirt that Kihyun was wearing in a corner of the guest room. The breeze bites at his flesh harshly now that he’s half-naked, but Kihyun’s cheeks are red and flush and he looks delectable. Hyunwoo shakes.

“You alright?” Kihyun asks, concern in his eyes, and Hyunwoo can’t help but feel like he doesn’t deserve it.

“Yeah,” he decides, and leans down to press hot kisses on every inch of Kihyun’s skin, listens to the way Kihyun hisses whenever he presses against a sensitive spot, and how he grips onto the sheets tightly when Hyunwoo kisses between his legs.

The moon shines onto Kihyun without shame, the boy in all his naked glory bared for Hyunwoo to see. And truly, he must be someone out of this world, for it seemed impossible that he shone with equal brightness as the celestial object, perhaps even brighter.

Hyunwoo kisses him on his collarbones, sucks until it leaves a dark, purple bruise, then more on his chest, littering his skin with small marks that mean more to Hyunwoo than it does Kihyun.

Kihyun groans, the hickeys are hot, though he thinks Hyunwoo’s way of fucking is a lot gentler today. He’s less impatient, takes things slow and sensual, and he’s taking up a lot of time for foreplay. But of course Kihyun isn’t complaining.

When Hyunwoo puts two fingers in him, scissoring, Kihyun thinks he could get used to this, his back arching from the bed as he fidgets restlessly under Hyunwoo’s ministrations. But the playful spark that Hyunwoo always wears whenever he sees Kihyun coming undone beneath him isn’t there anymore. In place of it is a solemnity, and while Kihyun is sure he’s enjoying it, his smile is forced, and he looks so… sad.

Kihyun holds onto his wrist tightly, and Hyunwoo looks up at him with those pitiful eyes, and Kihyun doesn’t know why his heart does a tight little squeeze. “Hey. Are you okay?” He asks, his exhales still coming in puffs at how Hyunwoo had found his sweet spot with three fingers lodged in him, and Hyunwoo is staring at him with the most wretched look he’s ever seen him wear.

He pushes his fingers out of him, and sits back up straight. “Hyunwoo. Are you alright?” He asks, hands on Hyunwoo’s biceps, and he holds onto him. Lube trickles easily onto the sheets, but it’s not his focus right now.

“Hyunwoo?”

The man feels like he’s miles away, and Kihyun frowns in confusion at the dip in atmosphere. “Tell me what’s going on, please.”

Hyunwoo breathes out heavily, but he doesn’t say a word, and Kihyun chews on his lower lip nervously. “Was it something I said?”

Hyunwoo glances at him, slightly surprised. “No, no, it’s not you.”

Kihyun shakes his head. “What is it, then?”

Hyunwoo offers a tiny smile, but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes. “I was just emotional, I guess. Thinking about…”

“Jae?” Kihyun asks, his eyebrow hiked up, and Hyunwoo doesn’t know what led him to think that, but he won’t say no when an excuse has served itself on a silver platter. “Yeah? Yeah. I guess I was.”

“Oh, come here.” Kihyun throws his arms open, and Hyunwoo stares at him skeptically. Kihyun opens them wider still, and Hyunwoo doesn’t know how to react, but he does fall right into Kihyun’s open arms, and rests his head against his chest.

“You poor thing,” Kihyun says, rocking Hyunwoo back and forth like he were a child, and Hyunwoo’s never been treated like this before. He’s never had someone come up to him offering a hug, babying him, saying that it must have been difficult, that they understand him, and maybe a part of Hyunwoo breaks, because he sniffles loudly, and silent tears well up and trickle down his cheeks.

“Oh, sweetie.” Kihyun coos, pats Hyunwoo’s head softly as he holds on tight, and Hyunwoo weeps silently against him. He didn’t know this was what he had kept in himself for so long, all the sugar baby contracts that happened and fell through, all that confusion about his feelings for Kihyun, all the stress from work and human relationships.

Hyunwoo didn’t know he was this tired, and when Kihyun holds him like he’s precious, like he’s worth something, he realises that he, Son Hyunwoo, is only human.

*****

Dawn breaks a little sooner than the both of them had expected, and Kihyun is slumped against Hyunwoo, asleep, while the man is wide awake. He can’t believe he had just broken down in front of Kihyun, shed all those tears that not even his own father had seen.

How is it that Hyunwoo becomes such a complete weakling when he’s around Kihyun?

He observes his sleeping face, long lashes fanned over fair skin, small wheezing sounds escaping his slightly parted lips, a mole right above his upper lip. Hyunwoo looks with such scrutiny that he doesn’t even realise the boy opening his eyes.

He jumps when he sees Kihyun staring back at him sleepily, his half-lidded eyes making him look so dreamy and soft, and Kihyun laughs. “Good morning, Hyunwoo.”

Hyunwoo clears his throat, as if that would help him regain some of his masculinity. “And you, Kihyun.”

The boy laughs again, ringing clearly in the room, and Hyunwoo looks so hard at him he might drill a hole in his face. Kihyun looks at Hyunwoo expectantly, but the man just gazes back at him blankly, and Kihyun gets the idea that he doesn’t want to give an explanation of what happened last night.

“Well, uh, would you like breakfast? I’m thinking of making french toast.”

Hyunwoo blinks, and Kihyun blinks back at him, almost like he’s teasing, and Hyunwoo evades his gaze suddenly. “Aren’t you going to talk about yesterday night?”

Kihyun smiles. “Not if you don’t want to.”

Hyunwoo gulps, then thinks about it for an extended moment. “No,” he says, “I don’t want to.” Kihyun beams like it’s nothing, like they weren’t just trying to talk about Hyunwoo’s little mental breakdown last night.

“Then we won’t. French toast?”

*****

Kihyun’s wearing an apron in his penthouse, holding onto a spatula in a way that doesn’t make him seem like it’s the first time he’s doing it. Hyunwoo knows he cooks for Minhyuk and Jooheon, but he hadn’t really thought of cooking as cooking as much as boiling ramen on a stove (a skill Hyunwoo will proudly proclaim that he does not have).

The thermostat in the apartment is hiked up to a new high, so it had been easy for Kihyun to strut around wearing just Hyunwoo’s shirt. Whether or not he’d been good enough to wear his underwear, Hyunwoo doesn’t know, but he does try to sneak peeks from where he’s sitting at the counter, looking past his newspaper to stare at Kihyun’s butt.

“I can feel the heat on my back,” Kihyun says lightly, and Hyunwoo is unapologetic, almost spits out his coffee laughing, and when Kihyun returns to him with a plate of french toast and a fresh blush on his cheeks, he thinks he’s so damn beautiful.

“Thanks, baby.” Hyunwoo leans over the counter to kiss Kihyun’s nose softly, the boy scrunching up his nose as he shakes his head adorably. Hyunwoo gulps, a trace of a smile on his face, drinks in the crimson shade of red Kihyun turns at the kiss, and then the pet name.

He really does like it.

Hyunwoo takes a small bite of the toast and Kihyun is looking at him expectantly, even though he should be tending to his next batch by the stove, and he’s biting onto his lower lip. Hyunwoo’s eyes widen even though he’s barely even chewed.

“Wow! This tastes amazing!” He points excitedly at the plate, almost bouncing off his seat as Kihyun throws him a dubious look, but Hyunwoo looks more like he’s three instead of thirty when he’s so jubilant, and Kihyun sticks out a tongue, but the compliment spreads through him like the heat of a thousand suns.

Hyunwoo pours more syrup over his french toast, and he’s done with them before Kihyun can even finish making the next two slices. Hyunwoo picks up his paper again, reading through the business section silently as Kihyun continues to cook.

It feels domestic, and oddly natural. Hyunwoo puts the mug of black coffee to his lips and slurps noisily, trying to ignore the blaring alarms going off at the back of his mind. He’s missed this bit in his childhood, the bit where someone other than the housekeeper stands by the kitchen stove to cook him something nice and warm.

Hyunwoo is not one for self-victimising, but he does think there is a huge space left behind from the lack of familial warmth, and it’s probably why this moment he’s currently sharing with Kihyun seems a lot more significant than it actually is.

Kihyun is finally done with the second batch and puts them onto Hyunwoo’s plate wordlessly. “What about you?” Hyunwoo asks, already reaching for his fork as Kihyun just chuckles. “I’m working on it. Do you want more?”

Hyunwoo shakes his head, picks up his knife and digs into the food again, and Kihyun laughs. Hyunwoo looks so much like a child, even though his large frame and muscular build indicate anything but that. Kihyun doesn’t think, doesn’t consider the repercussions, and he reaches out to ruffle Hyunwoo’s hair softly.

He knows there are lines, and sometimes he oversteps them, and when Hyunwoo looks up at him with a powerful gaze, holds his attention with it, he wonders if he’s challenged his boundaries again.

Quickly cowering away, Kihyun reverts to his cooking and ignores the way Hyunwoo is staring a hole into his back, flipping the bread before it even browns. He hums a pop song under his breath to distract both him and Hyunwoo, and sighs when Hyunwoo returns to his food silently.

He places his plate on the counter and eats slowly, gazing around the four walls around him and the peacefulness of the early morning, the Sun’s rays hitting on Hyunwoo’s balcony gently.

Hyunwoo is done with his food, plate pushed away, paper in place. He traces the line he’s reading with his index finger, and there is a permanent frown etched in his skin. Kihyun is tempted to iron it out with his hand, but he remembers the indescribable look on Hyunwoo’s face when he’d ruffled his hair, and controls himself as he continues to chew.

It’s silent, but it’s anything but awkward. Kihyun nods as he eats the breakfast he’d prepared himself, and quietly admits that it is indeed above average. Hyunwoo flips over the last page of the paper filled with advertisements and shoves it to the side.

Kihyun is only halfway through his breakfast, and Hyunwoo thinks he looks cute with his cheeks all filled with food, puffed up and full.

So he opts to prop his chin on his hand, elbows on the table, and he looks as Kihyun eats, the boy’s gaze travelling to all places but on Hyunwoo, and he laughs.

“Stop staring at me eat; it’s creepy.” Kihyun finally says, and when his eyes land on Hyunwoo’s nose (because he’s so close, and staring into his eyes is kind of awkward), he hears the man chortle.

“How is everything you do just so captivating?” Hyunwoo asks, the question directed more towards himself than Kihyun, and the boy blushes again, his ears turning pink as Hyunwoo throws his head back in hearty laughter.

“You really have a compliment kink,” Hyunwoo states, and Kihyun looks away hastily, almost chokes on his food. He neither admits to nor denies the claim, but his reddening face is enough evidence, and Hyunwoo laughs again.

Kihyun stuffs the food into his mouth in an attempt to finish eating quicker, just so he can be spared from Hyunwoo’s scrutiny, but when his plate is finally empty, and he drops his and Hyunwoo’s dishes into the sink, the man appears behind him, his body heat overwhelming and swallows Kihyun whole.

The boy gulps.

Hyunwoo doesn’t give him time to think, holds him by the shoulders and looks at him with dangerous eyes.

He doesn’t say a single word, picks Kihyun up by the waist, surprised at how compliant the boy is as he lets him lift him up to sit on the counter where they’ve just had their breakfast. When Kihyun looks down at Hyunwoo, the man is putting his hands in between his knees, and pushing his legs apart.

Looks like he wasn’t good enough to wear underwear, after all.

Kihyun acquiesces, leaning back on his forearms and elbows as he places his feet flat on the marbled counter, his lower back pressed against the cold, hard surface. Legs spread open, he sees a tuft of Hyunwoo’s black hair, and then soft, aching kisses right in the middle of his inner thighs.

He squirms, muscles contracting as he braces himself for more. Hyunwoo goes down the slope of his legs and closer to where he’s begging to be touched.

It’s both hot and embarrassing to be so aroused so easily in such a short period of time, but Hyunwoo smells of sweat and a trace of cologne that’s clouding his mind. Kihyun is still wearing Hyunwoo’s shirt and the air around him is doused with all of Hyunwoo’s scent, said man’s grip on his hip tight and desperate, his kisses gentle, yet painfully teasing.

Hyunwoo takes things slow, just like he did last night, and his kisses trail upwards, by Kihyun’s pelvis, his flat stomach, his bare chest, his pink perky nipples, and then his neck, goes over the dark bruises he’d made yesterday, his chin, then his thin, wet lips, and he kisses him. Then again. And again.

“Time for dessert,” he whispers against his lower lip softly, and Kihyun shivers, his toes curling up in excitement. Hyunwoo places one more chaste kiss before letting his palms roam over the expanse of Kihyun’s fair skin, and stops just below his thighs. He holds onto Kihyun’s calves, and when he leans in, he licks across Kihyun’s pulsing entrance, and the boy squeals.

“Fuck! Fuck, Hyunwoo, fuck.” Kihyun tries to grip onto anything on the smooth surface but he finds nothing, so he chooses to hold onto the edge of the counter instead, his knuckles turning white as he clings onto it.

Hyunwoo smirks, the look Kihyun had tried to find on his face had returned, the look of sheer pride as Kihyun cries under his touch had made a comeback, and Kihyun doesn’t know why that makes him feel so relieved.

He pulls away slightly, reaching out for his thumb to prod gently at the entrance to see if it would give, and Kihyun’s hole pulsates gently before it allows Hyunwoo’s finger in. Kihyun wriths against the surface, a long whine leaving his lips.

Hyunwoo bends down to lick it again, easing his finger’s slip into the hole, and Kihyun breathes heavy, his whole frame trembling under Hyunwoo’s ministrations.

His lips apart, Kihyun exhales a fierce sigh, the hands that were at the edge of the counter coming up to grapple forward blindly, finally landing on Hyunwoo’s wrists. The man’s left hand is still cupping Kihyun’s calf, the other positioned before his entrance, an index finger sliding in easy.

“Oh my god.” Kihyun’s neck is completely red, a mewl escaping him as his chest heaves when Hyunwoo goes on his knees, and his tongue starts to leave wet traces over his hole, fingers spearing in quickly.

Kihyun’s insides contract around his long appendage, and he outwardly gasps when the tip of Hyunwoo’s tongue nudges at him, testing the ring of muscle before pushing in.

Kihyun’s nerves are all tingly, his brain sent into overdrive as Hyunwoo’s tongue and his fingers alternate in their motions, the wet, fleshy tongue pulling out as his fingers drive further in.

Then he adds a finger, and Kihyun is certain he sees stars.

He cries, his shoulders tense and his jaw locked, and he can’t even bring himself to utter a single sound. His lower lip quivers.

Seeing just how much Kihyun is shaking, Hyunwoo smiles before pulling both of his fingers out, and prying his wrists from Kihyun’s grip, he holds onto the boy’s ankles, and leans in. His nose sitting at the base of Kihyun’s cock, the boy can feel Hyunwoo’s warm breath against his skin, between his legs, near the place where he wants his mouth the most.

And Hyunwoo seems to know that as well, though he has other places he wants his mouth to be, and goes lower as he dips his tongue into the hole.

Kihyun’s muscles go stiff when Hyunwoo starts making circles with his tongue, licking provocatively at the rim, and then the insides, his lips pressed up against Kihyun’s hole.

Kihyun whimpers softly, trying to find coherence in his thoughts and coming up blank, hands returning to the edge of the marbled counter as intense tears run down his cheeks, sobs breaking from his chest.

It feels so good it should be illegal. It’s most certainly not his first time being eaten out, but none of his experiences have been quite like this, and there’s something raw about being placed on a worktop, being snarfed down like he were a delicious meal, perverted slurping sounds coming from between his legs.

Kihyun arches his back as Hyunwoo continues to eat him out lewdly, making low sounds of approval, and Kihyun reddens further, both from the compliment and the embarrassment.

He feels like his foot might cramp up from how hard he’s straining it, so he breathes a sigh of relief when Hyunwoo emerges into view, a mischievous glint in his eyes.

Then the bastard licks his lips. Sick bastard. Kihyun loves it. He moans loudly when Hyunwoo stands back up, leaning down to kiss him. He tastes himself in Hyunwoo’s mouth, and lets go of the counter to hook his arms around the man’s neck, pulling him closer.

“Jesus, baby, you’re so yummy -- I almost couldn’t stop.”

Kihyun groans. Hyunwoo knows exactly when to say what to tick things him off in him, and right now, Kihyun just wants to be fucked so hard he can’t feel his limbs, let Hyunwoo pummel him into the rock hard surface until he can’t remember his own name.

So the boy takes it upon himself to pull Hyunwoo’s shirt off his well-built torso, and he wonders if he’ll ever get tired of looking at Hyunwoo’s perfectly sculpted body, the right amount of flesh and muscles in the right places.

“Fuck, Daddy.” Kihyun looks up at Hyunwoo with eyes that shine even in the bright daylight.

Hyunwoo likes it, obviously, because he kisses Kihyun again, hard this time, and Kihyun whines into his mouth, lets Hyunwoo hold him tight, lets Hyunwoo engulf him whole and submerge his head into a pool of his scent.

“Fuck me, Daddy. Hard.”

Hyunwoo growls against his lips and his gaze turns lethal. “I don’t remember you being the one calling the shots here, baby.”

A sharp whine as Hyunwoo puts his hands through Kihyun’s hair and tugs, and his back leaves the surface again. “What do you say, baby, when you want something?” He pulls again, and Kihyun feels his fingertips prickle, his back turning numb.

“P-please.” His lips are swollen from how aggressively Hyunwoo had sucked on them, and he feels a shiver run down his spine. This excites him. The imperative in Hyunwoo’s tone coupled with the glare in his eyes makes his blood run south. Fuck, Hyunwoo is so hot .

“Please what?” Hyunwoo hikes up a brow, and Kihyun doesn’t know if this man knows the limits to being attractive. His cock is erect, tight against his tummy, and he feels tremors breaking within him.

“Please fuck me, Daddy.”

The smirk returns, and Kihyun thinks he loses a good part of the logical side in his brain, his ability to think malfunctioning almost entirely.

“How did you say you wanted it again?” Hyunwoo says, his voice lilting with amusement, while Kihyun is busy dying over his authoritative tone.

“H-hard, Daddy.”

Hyunwoo smiles, smug, and he pretends to consider the possibility of acceding to his request. “Well…” Kihyun looks so expectant, his eyes glistening with the tears from just now, and his cheeks are a light pink. Hyunwoo teases, but he could never say no.

“Considering you were such a good boy for me,” he leans in and whispers in Kihyun’s ear, “and because you tasted so good. I’ll allow your request.”

Kihyun mewls, likes being called a good boy, basks in the compliment without shame, beaming despite his blurred vision, and Hyunwoo smiles back.

“You’re a bit too high up for me, though. Do you want to come down?” He asks, and it’s gentle Hyunwoo again, Hyunwoo who always looks out for Kihyun and makes sure that he’s well taken care of. The boy doesn’t know how to formulate sentences, though, so he nods, and whimpers when Hyunwoo picks him up easily.

Expecting Hyunwoo to bring him to the bedroom, Kihyun yelps when Hyunwoo merely carries him down from the counter, before pressing his hands into his hips and forcing him to face the counter, his belly pressed against the wooden cupboard beneath the tabletop.

“Hyun --”

“You wanted it hard, didn’t you, baby? Then we shouldn’t wait.”

Kihyun can barely stand on his two feet, his knees turning wobbly from their previous activities, but Hyunwoo seems adamant on this position.

His palm under Kihyun’s knee, he lifts his right leg up and pins it against the cupboard. Kihyun hooks his foot up on the surface, securing his posture against the counter.

Curving his wrist so that his fingers sit right above his hole, Hyunwoo pushes in again, two fingers at once this time, and Kihyun throws his head back, his neck exposed as he groans, his voice scratchy. Hyunwoo leans in to kiss his jaw, but his fingers are merciless, spearing into Kihyun harshly, prodding against his walls, driving it in deeper.

Spit is hardly enough for lubrication, and while Kihyun looks like a full course meal, Hyunwoo does not have intentions of hurting the boy. Placing another soft kiss on his adam’s apple that bobs uneasily, Hyunwoo pulls away and Kihyun sees his figure running into the room, followed by some loud banging and rummaging.

Kihyun feels the strain in his right thigh and is about to bring it down to take a break when Hyunwoo returns. In this time, he’s gotten rid of his boxers, and he walks back steadily with a condom in hand, a bottle of lube in the other, stark naked, his hard-on pressed against his abs.

Kihyun whines lowly.

Hyunwoo laughs, notes the sparkle in Kihyun’s eyes, and he pauses for a moment as if to consider the materials he’s collected, but really he’s just standing there for a little longer just so Kihyun can ogle at him some more.

The boy whimpers, whispers for Hyunwoo to come quickly, and Hyunwoo doesn’t have the heart to tease him further, so he does, flush against Kihyun’s ass, kneading the mounds of flesh greedily.

“A good, good baby,” Hyunwoo’s voice is soft, cooing, even, and Kihyun twists his neck in an attempt to look at him. Hyunwoo chuckles breathily, leaning forward to kiss the boy’s eager lips, his hands busy with unwrapping the packaging on the condom.

They kiss gently, Hyunwoo distracted from his tasks at hand, but he seems to do just fine, rolling the condom onto his cock as he picks up the bottle and uncaps it with a flick of his thumb. Giving his upper lip one more intense suck, Hyunwoo pulls away and smiles against the ends of Kihyun’s lips.

“Come on now, you’re the one who wanted this.”

Hyunwoo had fogged up his brain and his sense with his tender kisses, and he nods, a little too earnest. The man laughs, then Kihyun feels his lubed fingers lining up against his entrance.

He’s fairly opened up by now, whatnot with his tongue and his fingers previously, but Hyunwoo had always been on the careful side, and while he doesn’t normally complain about the amount of preparation, right now he just wants Hyunwoo to ravish him.

Seemingly sharing his thoughts, Hyunwoo slips in three fingers easily, and with one or two more pumps decides that it’s good enough.

Kihyun feels the cock sliding between his ass cheeks, and then Hyunwoo is slapping his length against his left ass cheek, testing the way Kihyun’s flesh springs against his dick.

He doesn’t give a warning, doesn’t say a single word, but he does hold on tight to Kihyun’s hips, and in one fluid motion, he pushes through, the tip of his cock breaching the muscles. Kihyun sucks in a deep breath, feels his mind turning to mush, swimming in a sea of arousal and need.

“Hard.” Kihyun mumbles, and then remembering his manners, “Please.”

“But it’ll hurt, baby,” Hyunwoo says, gentle, and Kihyun almost forgets the man who had been barking out instructions a few minutes ago.

“I want it.” Kihyun frowns, and when Hyunwoo still doesn’t accede to his request, he squirms, and makes a nasal whine he didn’t know he was capable of.

“Alright then, if you insist.”

Hyunwoo’s cock pushes in, ignoring the way Kihyun’s muscles are tensing up as he goes deeper, ignores the way Kihyun hisses loudly at the burn against his walls, his fingers digging further into his hips, leaving nail marks on his skin.

He sits in Kihyun entirely, his length buried in warmth and wetness, and without waiting for Kihyun to properly get used to his size, Hyunwoo pulls out, only to spear his way back in.

His thighs are burning from the strain, but he doesn’t remember the pain from his taut muscles.

Kihyun’s chest is propped further up the counter at the sheer force Hyunwoo is using to thrust back into him, and he cries loudly, his erection leaking painfully. He tries to find some form of friction by the edge of the counter, but the side almost cuts into his skin, while the rest of the surfaces are flat with no grip. Kihyun is losing his mind.

His mouth falls open, a trail of saliva running down his chin as Hyunwoo ruts into him without a single care in the world, low grunts echoing in his ear as Hyunwoo presses down on him. Hyunwoo’s chest is against his back, his hips buckling as he goes in, only to pull out again at an impossible speed, the boy sobbing under his hold.

“Please!” He screams, even though he doesn’t know what he’s begging for, flashes of white dominating his vision, and he feels himself shaking.

He expects it to keep going, wants more, feels his release at the edge of cliff, and all it takes is a tip to push him over, but Hyunwoo seems to have other plans.

He pulls out, and dragging him off the counter almost immediately, Hyunwoo holds him up as he leads him over to the kitchen, where he turns him over so that he faces him, and holds onto Kihyun by the waist, lifting him up. The boy wraps his legs around Hyunwoo, feels his searing cock pressed right beneath his ass, and he whimpers.

Hyunwoo has a gleam in his eyes, and Kihyun stares as Hyunwoo pins him against a wall. Still holding onto his waist, Hyunwoo creates just enough space between them, and then he’s slipping his cock back into Kihyun from below, the boy letting out a moan as he does.

Kihyun rests his hands on Hyunwoo’s shoulder, then hooks his arms around him, burying his face into the crook of his shoulder, smelling sweat, cologne, and maybe even a little baby powder on him. He smells addictive, and Kihyun whines softly against his skin as he continues to thrust into him.

His whole body is being manhandled by Hyunwoo, feeling a little like a puppet as Hyunwoo arranges him in the best positions. His whole body is pushed up the wall whenever Hyunwoo thrusts into him, and when Hyunwoo picks up speed, he finds himself bouncing up and down on his cock, which is really fucking hot, if Kihyun wasn’t so busy losing his mind.

Hyunwoo rams into him, hard, and then he positions himself, poking at all the right places that aren’t quite right, until he hits it, the bundle of nerves, a little spot, and Kihyun lets out a deafening cry, the world as he understands it crumbled into pieces on the ground.

He can barely hear himself screaming from how loudly his blood is pounding in his ears, the ringing of his own pulse reverberating and rattling in his mind. Hyunwoo hits it again, and again, and Kihyun is bawling at this point, scratching mindlessly at the wall behind him as tears trickle down his face.

He can see the stiffness in Hyunwoo’s jaw, how he’s focussing so intently on rutting into the same spot, beads of perspiration down the sides of his face. He looks so aroused, the air between them smelling like lube and sex, and Kihyun loves it. He loses control.

“Fuck, please, please, let me -- fuck!” Kihyun trembles, and he’s never felt anything quite so intense, never felt his surroundings quaking along with him, never tried cumming without touching himself.

His voice escalates in pitch as he tells Hyunwoo that he’s going to come, the man grunting against him, his words jumbled in with his groans. “Yeah? Come for me, baby boy. Be a good boy and come for Daddy.” There is a frown on his face, and he looks so determined canting his hips, chews on his lower lip as he tries to follow closely behind Kihyun towards their release.

And Kihyun really does want so desperately to be a good baby boy, so he does with a shout, thick strings of white spilling from his cock as he curses over and over again.

Hyunwoo murmurs a ‘fuck’ under his breath as his hips speed up some more, and Kihyun can feel the length inside him, spearing in and out. He’s still riding his high, still trembling and his moans are coming out in stunted parts, lets Hyunwoo use him however he wishes.

Then Hyunwoo comes too, a warmth spreading inside him as Hyunwoo comes into the condom, hot and full. He rams into him repeatedly, burying his cock to the hilt and then pulling out, then as he tires, he fucks Kihyun shallowly, rides out his orgasm as the boy’s muscles twitch beautifully around his cock.

They’re spent, and Kihyun’s lower back hurts like a bitch, undoubtedly from the extremely uncomfortable flat surfaces, his thighs aching so much he feels like he’s about to have a cramp. Hyunwoo still in him, Kihyun is carried away from the kitchen and finally towards the room, where the man drops him off gently, and pulls out slowly, sliding off the condom and tying it up before throwing it into the bin.

Kihyun is still breathing heavy, his head still spinning from that, and when Hyunwoo comes back with a warm wet towel, he doesn’t put up any resistance, doesn’t say a single word, just lies there wordlessly as he tries to regain his bearings.

Hyunwoo pads around the place quietly, and Kihyun feels sweat on his back. He’s tempted to go for a shower, but he’s also comfortable on the bed, and his legs feel like lead.

He thinks he hears the tap running, but he can’t be sure, and he can’t be arsed to go find out, so he stares at Hyunwoo’s ceiling, gazes blankly around him, but not investing any thoughts into anything he sees.

Just when he’s about to decide to get off and maybe have a shower, there is a warmth tucked in his side, and he tilts over to see Hyunwoo curled up next to him with a wide smile.

He feels a warmth creeping up his chest, and then spreading all across his body.

“Happy birthday?” Kihyun jokes.

He doesn’t know why he said what he said, because maybe he had been planning to gift himself as a lusty parcel like Minhyuk suggested for him to, but the charity ball and his confession had sort of flushed that plan down the drain, and he wasn’t sure if it was going to go through after all.

Hyunwoo suddenly realises that it is indeed his birthday two days down the road.

He frowns a little, but it’s not an upset frown, more so a confused one. “I didn’t think you’d remember.”

Kihyun laughs, but his lower back hurts when he does, so he does so gently. “What kind of crappy sugar baby would I be if I didn’t remember?”

Hyunwoo blinks. Kihyun’s right. It did seem like an obligation for him to remember the birthday of the man who was paying for his provisions, and he pushes down the niggling feeling within.

He returns to himself, which is apparently a playful and teasing Hyunwoo. “Well, okay, but what kind of birthday present was that? I did all the hard work.”

And he drinks in the blush that Kihyun wears so prettily, the one that spreads over to his neck, then his chest. Hyunwoo restrains himself from pushing him into the mattress.

“Did you not enjoy yourself?” Kihyun asks, almost indignant, and Hyunwoo laughs, his eyes turning into fine lines.

“Yes. Yes I did. Especially the bit where you told me to go -- what was the word -- hard?”

He didn’t think it was possible for Kihyun to turn a deeper shade of crimson, but apparently he does, because Kihyun is digging his fingernails into Hyunwoo’s arm, pulling a face that’s more cute than angry.

“You’re the actual worst. Please just keep quiet.”

Hyunwoo smirks. “Okay, since you used the word please. I like boys with manners. Boys who know where they stand and how to address people properly.”

And Kihyun feels the shiver running down his spine again. This time, despite his lower back hurting, his thighs sore, and his whole body feeling like it’s been weighed down, Kihyun licks his lips and in a swift movement, straddles Hyunwoo, sits on his tummy as the man’s eyes widen in surprise.

“Look, I remember you mentioning a vacancy for the position of Cowboy. Is that still open?” Kihyun asks, a twinkle in his eye, and he swears he sees Hyunwoo gulp, before returning to his calm self, a confident mask spread over his face.

“For you, baby boy, always.”

*****

“I wasn’t actually a miser and decided to only give you sex as a birthday present,” Kihyun explains when Hyunwoo does a long stare at the wrapped-up box sitting in front of him. Hyunwoo hikes up a brow.

“Though you have to admit, you sitting on my face, and then riding my dick was kind of fucking good.”

He guffaws as Kihyun flushes pink, his fingers interlaced as he sits beside Hyunwoo, looking at the present he’s just given him. Hyunwoo looks at the box, then back at Kihyun, who tips his chin at the gift.

“Well, aren’t you going to open it?” He asks, even though it’s not a question and leaves little room for negotiation. Hyunwoo makes a face as he reaches for the box, muttering something about not having any gift-opening privacy.

Kihyun is nervous. He knows Hyunwoo has the ability to buy anything he desires, so choosing a present for him was nerve-wracking. The word ‘challenging’ is an understatement.

When Hyunwoo opens it up, he wears a look of confusion, and Kihyun panics for a second. He holds the band in his hand and inspects it.

“It’s a…?”

Kihyun blinks, and reaches out to grab it. “An amulet. That you can wear on you. Or if you want to, you can put it in your wallet.” Under Hyunwoo’s heated gaze, Kihyun fumbles clumsily with the string and he presses onto the yellow paper.

“It’s uh -- I didn’t know what to get you, cause you know, billionaire and all.” Hyunwoo stifles a laughter, but doesn’t deny the fact that coming up with gift ideas for him is a challenge. “But I just -- I don’t even know if you believe in this stuff, but uh, apparently it’s an amulet that’s been blessed by holy… monks?” Kihyun shifts in his seat, feeling Hyunwoo’s attention solely on him.

“It’s supposed to bring you good luck. And health. And happiness. And like, I was thinking of making you something, but I’m crap at crafts, so, uh, I don’t know if --”

Hyunwoo’s smile is small, albeit a little forlorn. “Thank you. I’ll keep it well.”

And Kihyun smiles back at him, missing the elusive emotions written on his face. “I hope you like it,” he whispers softly, and Hyunwoo places a hand on his gently.

“I like it.” He nods, and smiles when Kihyun grins back at him proudly. Kihyun dusts off his jeans as he stands up, his hand slipping out from under Hyunwoo’s, and he looks down at him, beaming.

“Come on, Gift Number Three is dinner. I made you a couple of dishes. I don’t know if you’ll like them, though? Later if you’re up for it, we can go back to mine and watch movies with Minhyuk and Jooheon? Or I guess I could stay over and --”

Hyunwoo’s gaze is gentle, and he reaches out to hold Kihyun’s hand in his. “Thank you. For remembering. For being so kind to me.” He looks up at him with gratitude written all over his face, and Kihyun realises just how different Hyunwoo is around him and around other people, such as colleagues and partners in the workplace.

It’s like he becomes… softer around him, though Kihyun’s presence shouldn’t really warrant a change in behaviour in Hyunwoo, but he’s not complaining.

While Hyunwoo is normally very affectionate, he never chose to do it much in words, so Kihyun captures this moment mentally, and stores it securely in the depths of his heart.

“You’re welcome, birthday boy. Now will you come out and have dinner?”

Hyunwoo lets Kihyun pull him out of the room, a smile still hanging on his face, a pang in his chest as his grip tightens.

*****

“How long did you say it was going to be?” Kihyun asks as he fusses about Hyunwoo’s apartment, flitting from place to place as he collects items that he thinks he might need. Hyunwoo rolls his eyes; he has a housekeeper for the exact reason, and it isn’t like he needs to pack heavy.

He can buy whatever he needs there, anyway.

“A few weeks. Maybe up to a month. It really depends.”

Kihyun has a pout on his lips. “I hope it’s sooner than later.” He gulps, doesn’t know if it’s appropriate for him to say it, but he does anyway. “I’ll miss you.”

And he will, he’s not lying, and he thinks Hyunwoo knows it too. The older man laughs, standing up as he wraps his arms around Kihyun from the back, holding him flush against his chest.

“Silly. I’ll be back. I can’t promise it’ll be soon, because they’ve just set up the branch there and I need to recruit someone I can trust to take over the place before coming back, but I promise I’ll FaceTime you as frequently as I can.”

Hyunwoo’s exhales raise hairs on Kihyun’s skin. “And I’ll make sure Changkyun remits your funds to you every month. If payment’s late, just let me know, and I’ll get him to sort it out.”

Kihyun feels a lump in his throat. He had been so satisfied with the arms around him, acting as some degree of consolation, and he hadn’t expected the conversation of pay to come in again. But he supposes it is inevitable, so he nods.

“It’s been nine months now, and Changkyun hasn’t slipped a single time with my payments. Give the boy some credit, will you?” Kihyun jokes, because if Hyunwoo can casually bring up his salary, then so can he, and there’s some faux confidence he finds in that as he puffs up his chest in pride.

“I’ll start when he stops messing up my appointments with the four Mr. Kims I have close associations with. I go into a meeting room expecting to see Mr. Kim from the accounting firm, only to find Mr. Kim from the construction company. He’s the worst.” Hyunwoo groans, and Kihyun laughs quietly in his hold.

“Is Changkyun not going with you?”

Hyunwoo shakes his head. “No. I need him here to man the fort, and because I can ring him and get him to settle the stuff I need him to in Korea.”

Kihyun hums. “He must feel pretty down, not being able to go on a trip to New York.”

Hyunwoo guffaws. “I pay him more than enough for him to take multiple trips to and from New York. Don’t worry, money and time are the least of his concerns. He still has so much annual leave he hasn’t taken. Changkyun is a bit of a workaholic.”

Kihyun laughs. “Just like his boss.”

Hyunwoo chuckles, his chin digging into the crook of Kihyun’s neck. “Why else did you think I hired him?”

They laugh, the atmosphere amicable and peaceful, and Kihyun almost forgets that this is about Hyunwoo going off to America for god knows how long to settle a new branch opening. Really, if this were any other job he had, Kihyun would be jumping in delight at the thought of earning money for doing nothing, but somehow it doesn’t sit right with him.

It’s probably just that whole ‘receiving without reciprocating’ thing that he doesn’t deal with well, but Hyunwoo is coming back, anyway, so he foresees this situation going on for only a while.

Hyunwoo’s breath is even, Kihyun soft in his embrace, and luggage forgotten, Kihyun turns around to kiss Hyunwoo, taking out every last bit of breath he has in his lungs.

Hyunwoo effectively shuts down the deafening sirens in his mind, and indulges himself in the moment, hands coming up to cup Kihyun’s small face as he deepens the kiss. Kihyun is tender to the touch, pliant as he lets Hyunwoo put his fingers through his hair, lets Hyunwoo lead him to the bed, lets Hyunwoo press kisses down his neck.

Kihyun fills his heart and body up with all of Hyunwoo that night, so much that it almost spills, and hopes that it’ll be enough to last him for their momentary separation.

*****

“How’s New York?” Kihyun asks a screen of pixels -- the Internet at uni has never been one of the things he’d been proud of his institution for.

“Warm.” He hears the sulk in Hyunwoo’s voice and laughs, because it’s so like Hyunwoo to complain about the weather. “How’s school?”

“Boring.” Kihyun returns with a deadpan, and the line keeps dropping out, but he hears Hyunwoo’s guffaws in stutters, and he smiles back, eyes turning into crescents. “I just realised how much time I spend with you. I now have so much time at home. Minhyuk had to force me out of the apartment this morning.”

Hyunwoo is straining to hear him, probably due to the connectivity, and his response runs a few seconds slower. But when the older man hears him, he nods in agreement, mirth in his eyes. “Yeah, well, he used to have the whole place with his boyfriend but now you’re back…”

Kihyun pouts. “You don’t make me sound like a very treasured presence.”

Hyunwoo laughs, amused. “For me, yes. For Minhyuk… let’s just say he’s more likely to want to strangle you for walking around the house when he’s making out with his boyfriend in the living room.”

Kihyun rolls his eyes, spinning a pen between his fingers. “Ugh, don’t even mention it. The last time I had to witness Hyungwon sticking his tongue down Minhyuk’s throat; he legit looked like he was going to choke my best friend with that tongue of his.”

Hyunwoo hikes up a brow. “That’s a description if I’ve ever heard of one.”

The conversation slowly comes to a halt, and even though Kihyun can barely make out Hyunwoo’s face through all the pixels, he can feel the fatigue radiating off of him. “You’re tired,” he states instead of questioning, and Hyunwoo groans.

“Yeah. It’s late here.”

“You should go to bed,” Kihyun comments, even if that’s the last thing he wants Hyunwoo to do. The man just sighs. “I don’t want to stop talking.”

“Well, we can keep talking and you can go into bed. And if you fall asleep, that’s that.” Kihyun says, and truly, Hyunwoo cannot put up a fight against Kihyun, neither can he against his drooping eyelids, so he pulls his shirt off and slides into the duvets. His phone still propped up so Kihyun can see him, Hyunwoo drifts off almost immediately when his head hits the pillow.

“Told you you were tired. Go to sleep.”

“No, talk… more…”

“Okay. I’ll talk to you. Just close your eyes.”

“No…” Hyunwoo sounds sleepy already, resisting the urge to close his eyes, but it’s too heavy, too comfortable, and as Kihyun rambles on about an assignment he has to do for one of his classes, he hears the soft snores coming from the other end, travelling to him through his earpieces.

He breaks into a smile, and holds the screen there for a moment, just looking at Hyunwoo’s sleeping face, and before he hangs up, he doesn’t forget to take a screenshot (to use as blackmail material, or just something to laugh at when he chats with Hyunwoo tomorrow).

He whispers a ‘sweet dreams’ before ending the call, a grin plastered on his face, and it doesn’t fade away for the whole day.

Chapter Text

Unsettling. There’s an inkling of something that’s not quite right that Kihyun can’t put a finger on, and when he shares his thoughts with Minhyuk, the boy had flicked him in the forehead and told him to stop letting his mind run wild.

Kihyun sighs, agrees that maybe uni work has started to take a toll on him, and maybe he’s just feeling a little uneasy now that he doesn’t have Hyunwoo to run to and whine about stuff whenever he’s troubled.

It never did occur to him that Hyunwoo played such a large part in his life -- outside of supplying him with financial stability, Hyunwoo also took up a massive portion of his emotional support network. It felt almost like his foundation was crumbling with every day that Hyunwoo wasn’t there, and Kihyun is perched on a rocky surface, trying his best to balance everything.

Minhyuk is -- was -- great help, but it seems almost inappropriate to ask for hugs and kisses when Minhyuk now has a boyfriend. The idea is still something of a wild concept to Kihyun. He’d never thought Minhyuk as one to settle for stability, but when Hyungwon rolls his eyes at one of the terrible jokes Minhyuk makes, all while wrapping an arm around his waist to pull him in, Kihyun thinks they’re right for each other.

And Kihyun knows Hyungwon doesn’t have to deal with Kihyun, and most certainly does not have to deal with second guessing himself just because Minhyuk’s best friend is a person who needs constant affirmation.

Kihyun stares blankly at the screen as it dials, and exhales slowly. Hyunwoo has been really busy lately, only sending him a few texts in the mornings and evenings, occasionally a selfie of a pained expression with the caption ‘at a stakeholders meeting and they’re rolling their Rs, help’ , and Kihyun replies with a cry-laugh emoji, and then a cute selfie of him in shades, sipping on a cup of iced coffee.

The dial tone rings out again, and Kihyun sighs. Is he being too needy? Hyunwoo has adult things to attend to, such as not having to deal with him, and so he curls back into his duvets and wishes for someone to hold him tight once more.

*****

It’s interesting how Kihyun pretends to be such an enigma, yet he is nothing but an open book in the eyes of his closest friends.

Minhyuk had sidled up to him during Movie Night, popcorn bowl in hand, and looked briefly at Kihyun before laying his head on his shoulder. The boy stiffens, and Minhyuk almost laughs at how obvious he is.

“Relax, Ki.” Kihyun swallows, doesn’t know what to say, how to answer Minhyuk without asking if he can be the big spoon. Minhyuk, however, reads him clearly, sees his emotions written on his face.

He hooks his arm with Kihyun’s, bowl of popcorn all but forgotten, and snuggles up closer to the boy. “You’re warm.”

Kihyun tries his best to resist, but Minhyuk’s blonde hair is tickling his chin, and he reaches the other arm out to pat him on his head. “Says the human heater himself.”

Minhyuk laughs easy, and Kihyun tries his best to follow.

“Don’t you miss the human heater? You haven’t been asking for cuddles lately.” There’s a prominent pout on Minhyuk’s lips, and Kihyun can’t hold it in longer, shifting to his side to look right at Minhyuk.

“I… why?”

He frowns. “What do you mean why? Because you’re my friend and you love cuddles and I love giving them?”

Minhyuk blinks unevenly, and Kihyun stares back at him. “Because Hyungwon is your boyfriend, and you cuddle with him?”

The blonde smiles. “Not everything is about Hyungwon. Just because he’s the one I snuggle with doesn’t mean he needs to be the only one I snuggle with.”

“That sounds…” Kihyun scrunches up his nose, “difficult. Are you sure he’s okay with it?”

Minhyuk shrugs. “Last time I checked, when he asked me why you look so miserable lately, and I said that you were probably just running low on hugs, he told me to stop being a jerkface and have a cuddle session with you soon, so.”

Kihyun’s eyes widen. “He said that?”

Minhyuk laughs. “When I asked him if he really didn’t mind, he said, and I quote, “you and your silly ass needs to calm down if you’re concerned about me being jealous”. He has no envious bone in him, according to him. I think neither of us need to be concerned about him in that regard.” Minhyuk seems to think it through for a bit, and adds as an afterthought, “Besides, if he told me I wasn’t allowed to snuggle with you, I was ready to break up with him for being so narrow-minded.”

Kihyun rolls his eyes. “I call bullshit. You’re so smitten with the guy, it’ll take him destroying your entire video game collection for you to throw out an ultimatum like that.”

Minhyuk narrows his eyes, not impressed. “You did not have to expose me like that.”

Kihyun hikes up a brow. “So I am right.”

Minhyuk sulks, but leans closer into Kihyun’s side, huffing angrily. “Remind me again why I bother to put up with you?”

Kihyun laughs, and lets the soft scent of Minhyuk’s new candle -- lavender -- whisk him into a space of utter comfort and relaxation. “Because I hold your Best Friend Card, which isn’t due for renewal for a while?”

Minhyuk sticks out his tongue, but doesn’t offer a rebuttal, and Kihyun is thankful for that. He basks in the warmth and fragrance of Minhyuk’s presence, and finds respite.

*****

Kihyun doesn’t remember himself being so self-conscious. It must be the amount of free time he’s suddenly found himself in possession of, which had led to a destructive cycle of self-doubt and questions he has no answers for.

The fact that Minhyuk had re-entered his life as Official Cuddler once more is very helpful, and oftentimes having Minhyuk as the big spoon is the only way Kihyun can go to sleep without his thoughts of career success, abilities as a singer or an actor, and his future plaguing him constantly.

Things hadn’t seemed quite so bleak when he had Hyunwoo by his side. It seemed that he was happy to go with the simplest and easiest option, which was to not consider the possibilities of what the future might bring, and just live in the moment.

It was easy, because Hyunwoo took up a lot of his time and thoughts, and other times when he isn’t with him or thinking of him, he’s busy with uni. Now that he only has uni, Kihyun doesn’t know what to do with the rest of his time.

He bothers Minhyuk for more movie nights, which he knows the boy is agreeing to out of pity, and he knows he’s maybe gone a bit far when Hyungwon starts to join them.

It was a sign that he was taking up too much of Minhyuk’s time, and not wanting Hyungwon to rethink his offer of generosity, Kihyun backs off and lets them have their time.

So he turns to Jooheon. It had taken one sleep-addled night where Kihyun stood by his bedside with a pillow in his grip, and Jooheon blinked his eyes open blearily.

“Kihyun hyung?”

“Jooheonnie.”

“You okay, hyung?”

Kihyun looks so small under the dim glow of the moonlight, and the younger boy squints at the clock on the table. 4:42AM. Jooheon had just barely gotten into bed after coming back from his studio, and he really wasn’t expecting this to be the first thing he sees at the sound of a rustle near him.

How long has he been standing here anyway?

“I’m cold.”

Jooheon sighs. “Do you want me to turn the thermostat up?”

Kihyun swallows, looks like he wants to say something. Jooheon stares at him. It’s not regular that Kihyun comes looking for Jooheon in the middle of the night for anything. Minhyuk is normally that person for him.

As if reading his thoughts, the black-haired boy shakes his head slightly. “Minhyuk is staying over at Hyungwon’s tonight.”

Oh. Jooheon presses his lips together, not sure what he feels about being Minhyuk’s replacement, mostly wondering what exactly was it that they did together, because Kihyun seems to always fall into ease around the blonde. He wonders if he’d be good enough to do that for Kihyun.

“Oh. Okay. Well, do you want to, I don’t know --”

“Can I?”

Was it just cuddling? Jooheon thinks he’s seen Minhyuk’s long limbs wrapped all over Kihyun’s frame on the sofa, and assumes that’s what he means.

“Sure.” Jooheon peels the blanket off of him, shifting backwards as he makes out a human-sized space for Kihyun, who climbs onto his bed and slots himself into the vacancy.

He really is tiny, Jooheon notes as Kihyun barely takes up much of the space, especially when he’s all curled up like that, and he sighs. Kihyun is content with the body heat radiating from Jooheon, but he breathes out an exhale when the boy’s chest presses up against his back, and his arm comes to wrap over him.

“Sorry, is this okay?”

Kihyun gulps. “More than okay. Very okay. Superb. Thank you, Jooheonnie.” He can hear the way his breathing grows even and slows down, and Jooheon isn’t used to this, but he focuses on the way Kihyun moves in his hold, his inhales and exhales soft and small.

It’s different. He’s still on the fence about it being a good different, but it’s not the worst.

So it happens occasionally when Minhyuk isn’t around -- because Minhyuk is still Kihyun’s go-to, and Jooheon doesn’t blame him -- and sometimes Jooheon does fall asleep to the sounds of Kihyun’s breathing, wonders if he’s actually helping him to a great extent.

Jooheon is so kind, but he’s also a busy person with his interests and direction in life set straight, so if he isn’t rushing out his assignments or working, he’s at his studio, staying up past the wee hours of the night to compose.

But despite his schedule, Jooheon accedes to his requests most of the time, knows that Kihyun has contributed to their flatmate dynamics a lot more than he has.

And Kihyun supposes he’s envious of the sheer amount of passion Jooheon has, how he manages to work tirelessly at a track, trying his best to perfect it, only to post it on a SoundCloud account that has a meagre number of followers. Kihyun knows he’s not doing it for his non-existent fans, just out of pure love for the art, and he wishes he has that, too.

Where did that go for him? He’d travelled out of his small countryside town into the big city, supposedly to pursue his lofty dreams, yet what exactly did he gain out of it other than the harsh truth that he may be a more-than-mediocre singer-actor, but not quite good enough to do any of it professionally?

The anxiety of his impending lack of career propelled the boy to work harder in uni as he went for more vocal lessons, more acting classes in a bid to perform better. He picks up talent in both aspects, and slowly, Hyunwoo turns into a bit of a shadow, a character that he’d built up as the protagonist in many of the stories he’s written, but placed slowly into the sidelines, where Kihyun now takes on the main role of his own plot lines.

*****

The situation has changed drastically from the word unsettling to the word worrying.

Hyunwoo’s contact has gone from the texts in the mornings and the evenings to short, brief answers in days. Kihyun wonders just how busy he is to not have the time to talk to the investment he pays for every month, but he’s not here to question Hyunwoo’s spending habits.

He’s kept himself busy with uni and singing and acting, and while it does take up a good amount of his time, he would gladly scramble immediately to a laptop if Hyunwoo had asked to video call.

If Hyunwoo would ask to video call, that is.

He hasn’t seen the man in weeks now, and it feels empty. Like there’s a major part of him just vanished, and Kihyun doesn’t understand why. Sure, he’s come to terms with the fact that he likes Hyunwoo, enjoys his company, perhaps sees him more than just a strict business partner, maybe even friends.

He’s confessed to all of those, but even friends can go without seeing each other for ages and be okay with that.

Perhaps it’s the way Hyunwoo had clung on so tightly to him when he was in Korea, that he refused to let Kihyun out of his sight for as long as he could, acting like a needy child. Maybe that rubbed off on Kihyun, who’s somehow playing the role of the needy child now.

He hates that. He’s never been one to enjoy being tied down and understood that it worked both ways. Why was he now so desperate to want Hyunwoo by his side? He’s not attached -- that is one thing he will not admit to, because it isn’t true.

But he still worries, because it feels like he’s done something wrong, even if the last conversation they’ve had, just like the past few ones they’ve had, were about how busy Hyunwoo is, and Hyunwoo apologising for not having more time, followed by empty promises of a video call very soon.

Kihyun doesn’t understand -- how difficult is it to just turn on your phone for a few seconds and talk? Surely he isn’t working round the clock; he must have some time to himself to sleep, eat, use the washroom. Kihyun doesn’t mind Hyunwoo talking to him while he’s doing all these other things, if only he would talk to him at all.

But then he realises that sounds like what people say when they get too attached, demanding attention even during the times where people just want to be left to their own devices, or when people are busy meeting their survival needs and just do not have the time to talk.

So he falls back into worry again, only there is no solution, and he’s stuck in a maze of his endless questions.

*****

He’s heard nothing from Hyunwoo for a month now. His texts go unread, when he calls him the line rings out but no one picks up. Video calls are out of the question, obviously, and Kihyun has tried to contact him in as many ways as possible.

Guilt pricks at him. He’s been thinking about himself the whole time, wondering if it was something he’d said, but what if Hyunwoo is ill? He doesn’t know anybody there (he’d said that before his trip, and proceeded to elicit more pity from Kihyun who was already showering him with soft cooing words) and he would be incapable of contacting Kihyun if he was feeling unwell.

What if Hyunwoo is hurt in one way or another? How would they contact Kihyun and let him know? Would they even know that there’s someone out there other than the people listed as his emergency contacts worried for him?

Kihyun suddenly realises how invisible and insignificant he is in Hyunwoo’s life, a character that could be replaced by yet another name, holding no weight in any of his matters or decisions.

Before deciding to call Changkyun and freaking everyone out unnecessarily, he does what most people do in this time and age, which is to do a search on the Internet. Sometimes social media works better than the law enforcement system.

It didn’t take him long to find a name of interest, a reporter of The Business Times, who had just tweeted about fifteen minutes ago. He lets Google translate the article, which is in broken Korean, but he thinks the picture speaks for itself.

“Spoke to this legend, CEO Son Hyunwoo from Son Enterprises. One of the biggest conglomerates in South Korea, he’s doubled the value of the company in just a few years of taking over. Check out the latest issue of The Business Times for the interview. For now, enjoy this handsome picture of the brilliant man!”

It’s the biggest fuck you in Kihyun’s face, and the cheek of him to show off the widest grin in the photo, as if Kihyun wasn’t worried sick about his safety, as if Kihyun wasn’t worried that he’d been abducted for ransom because someone knew how much he was worth.

And Kihyun had been putting up a fight with himself the whole time, trying to negotiate with his own conflicted feelings, at one point even wishing that Hyunwoo was ill and not completely ignoring his texts.

But a man has to work, and who was Kihyun to expect his attention? Only they’ve spent all this time together, and Kihyun really thought that he’d made a difference in Hyunwoo’s life, perhaps pulled down a few of his fences, told him that he deserved better.

Was he wrong?

Why would Hyunwoo have pretended to enjoy his company when he could have easily just told Kihyun to go away, or not even initiated the whole agreement with him? Kihyun is confused, utterly, and the smile on Hyunwoo’s face in the picture mocks him, taunting him with awful thoughts of self-deprecation.

He doesn’t know if these thoughts are right, if they’re appropriate. Money still comes into his account, and his tuition fees have all been paid for, and really, Kihyun should just shut up and take the cash, be thankful that he doesn’t have to wait on his calls and care too much about him.

He should be happy that Hyunwoo is too busy to bother with him, right?

Right.

Kihyun breathes, and he tries to focus on the screen, but he loses sight slowly with tears welling up in his eyes. Why is he crying? He’s not cried for a long, long time, not even when he was trying to deal with his quarter-life crisis, not even when he was concerned about being a bother to Minhyuk and butting into his and Hyungwon’s relationship.

Not even in his loneliest nights when he’d missed Hyunwoo so much it hurt.

So why now?

He feels the sharp sting of what appears to be rejection, and struggles to see straight again. Kihyun’s pride takes a hit, and he doesn’t know how to stop the damage, especially not when the source of rejection comes from the man who’d showered him endlessly with compliments, made him feel like he was the king of the world one too many times.

He realises that Hyunwoo is probably not going to talk to him, ever again. The thought terrifies him, and he doesn’t know why. He swallows, wills himself to not let the tears fall. If he cries, he’s really admitting defeat.

Kihyun is many things, but he will not stand for a hit on his pride, and then letting the other person win by agreeing that it affects him a little too much.

But even so, he knows it’s not right of Hyunwoo to scram off without saying a single thing, leaving Kihyun hanging like a fool, waiting patiently for his return.

Only he doesn’t remember that Hyunwoo had told him to wait for him, and he recognises the fact that he’s been a fool on his own accord this whole time.

*****

Minhyuk doesn’t know what to do. Kihyun won’t leave his room, and he doesn’t know if he’s seen him this angry before.

The anger comes along with a side of misery, but Kihyun won’t let him talk about the despondency, only the fury.

And Minhyuk gets it, though it’s been established that he understands Kihyun better than Kihyun understands himself, and he sighs at the misdirected anger.

He wants to tell Kihyun that it’s not anger he’s feeling, but desperation, but Kihyun, when fired up, is an indestructible force that no amount of convincing can bring down.

Minhyuk thinks Hyunwoo is a dick. He’d thought really kindly of the man previously, liked him to bits, thought he was funny, and a good addition to Kihyun’s life.

He had seen the way Kihyun’s face lit up at the mention of Hyunwoo, observed how Hyunwoo held Kihyun so close to his side, protected him with all he had, and he’d really thought that they had found soulmates in each other.

Minhyuk wasn’t jealous; he and Kihyun are soulmates, and they do just fine without being lovers. Sure, Kihyun has commitment issues, but it shouldn’t stop the two of them from being perfect for each other.

Apparently Hyunwoo has very different thoughts on this, and had gone for the easier option: to not talk about his feelings and instead throws himself onto the other side of the Earth.

Minhyuk wonders how long Hyunwoo has thought about it to plan this all so intricately, or maybe he’d realised just how much he didn’t want to deal with Kihyun during his time alone in America.

Regardless, Kihyun deserves an explanation, answers to his questions, but Minhyuk doesn’t know how to get them out of Hyunwoo for him, and he doesn’t know how to help Kihyun, who is absorbed in his own rage, refusing to see outside of his wrath.

*****

Kihyun keeps waiting, as the months keep coming and going, and he thinks he might get a call from Hyunwoo today.

He's furious, yes, but it doesn't mean he's lost hope. Sometimes he wonders if Hyunwoo had accidentally lost his number, though the thought is dismissed quickly, as Hyunwoo could easily ask Changkyun for it again. No, it's definitely something with Hyunwoo. Maybe he had something to settle? Maybe he needs to sort some things about about his relationship with Kihyun?

Kihyun finds excuses for Hyunwoo time and time again, and time and time again he finds himself disappointed, realising that Hyunwoo never did deserve any of the excuses he's spared him.

But Hyunwoo doesn't need excuses. He just needs to never talk to Kihyun ever again, and Kihyun will never know why he did what he did.

*****

Kihyun decides against trying in the second month of silence. His single-sided texts had taken up all of their chats, and Kihyun feels disgusted with himself. It's not like him to grovel at someone else's feet -- his pride would never take it lying down, but this was Hyunwoo he was talking about, and he was willing to make concessions.

He sent him selfies of himself at campus, putting on a smile even if his skin is growing more pallid by the day from overthinking, the extra time that used to be plagued with thoughts of self-worth and career opportunities now infested with horrible thoughts of how Hyunwoo had found someone else, at how he's definitely said something wrong during one of their video calls, or maybe the three hundred different things he could have done better to have prevented this from happening.

But all in all, Kihyun remembers that he's being abandoned by a man who had shown him nothing but kindness, a man who saved him at the time he needed help, a man who offered more than what his agreement had stipulated, always going the extra mile, always offering assistance whenever he could.

And Kihyun hated that he came off as such a good man, that he had portrayed himself to be this perfect character, only to turn out to be a complete jerk, one who thought it was acceptable to not show someone basic respect by notifying them that they were going to be ditched.

And Kihyun slowly stops trying, his texts never growing more aggressive, never more pleading, and slowly he stops texting all together, contented with swallowing his pride for another week, and if he still hears nothing from him, he'll take things into his own hands.

*****

“Mr Im, there is a Mr Yoo Kihyun looking for you?”

Changkyun frowns. He’s been busy flitting from place to place, trying to put together that contract that Hyunwoo hyung had clinched in America, and he’s getting an unsolicited visit from his sugar baby?

He groans. It’s not like he can tell Kihyun to go away and come again some other day, so he sighs into the phone as he asks for security to send him up. He needs a raise.

He’s waiting by the lift by the time it dings, and Kihyun steps out of it with a stomp in his step, and he ignores Changkyun almost entirely, charging towards Hyunwoo’s office immediately.

“Hey, hey, hey! Kihyun!” Changkyun trails behind him hurriedly, stretching an arm out to grab at the boy, only to have him wrench his arm out of his grip. Changkyun runs, oblivious to the eyes that are starting to focus on the scene.

“Come out and talk to me, Son Hyunwoo!” Kihyun shouts, his voice reverberating through the half of the floor, and heads turn towards his direction, an unfamiliar boy in tattered sneakers calling out for their CEO like he owes him a living, and the Secretary to the CEO rushing quickly behind him.

“Kihyun. Will you please keep your voice down!” Changkyun is whispering, but he knows Kihyun hears him just fine. He’s just realised the vengeance in his gaze, and wonders how Hyunwoo had stepped on his tail now, and how much of this mess he should have to clean up after his hyung, again.

It’s not the first time a sugar baby has come to their company to make a fuss, but really, Kihyun didn’t seem like the kind. He thought he was reasonable.

He finally manages to hold onto Kihyun, and despite the boy’s struggling, he maintains a firm grip.

“Stop this right now. Or I will send security on you,” Changkyun hisses under his breath, but there is no trace of fear in Kihyun’s eyes. He’s never thought the boy was capable of such a look, a look of pure outrage, so different from the kind and polite Kihyun he’d been used to.

“Stay out of this. I’m looking for your boss.”

Changkyun clears his throat. “He’s not here.” Changkyun throws a glare at the floor of employees, and they hurriedly return to their desks, undoubtedly starting a whole email thread on the gossip.

“Tell. That fucking coward to come out and talk to me.” Kihyun seethes through gritted teeth, and fear flashes past Changkyun’s eyes, before he resumes to his usual poise.

“And I’m telling you, he’s not here.”

“Why?” Kihyun hollers at the space behind Changkyun, where Hyunwoo’s closed office door is in sight. “Fucking chicken to see me?”

Changkyun has had enough. Rolling his eyes, he grabs onto Kihyun’s wrist and drags him to the space he’s been yelling so enthusiastically at, wrenches the doorknob and throws the door open. Kihyun swallows as he’s faced with an emptiness that echoes his own heart. It still looks like what it looked like just a few months ago when Kihyun had brought a lunchbox to Hyunwoo at his office, only now it’s missing a whole Son Hyunwoo. Kihyun remembers commenting on the sheer amount of vacancy in Hyunwoo’s office, but it only seems to amplifies in his absence.

He’s gone. Kihyun now truly understands what it means, even though the hole in his chest is still scarily large, and now there’s no way of patching it back up.

“I don’t appreciate you throwing yourself into my office and screaming to talk to my boss like that, Kihyun. I thought better of you.” Changkyun’s voice is laced with condescension, and Kihyun throws him a heated glare.

“Well, I thought better of that scoundrel of your boss, and he didn’t meet up with any of my expectations.”

Changkyun frowns. “What the hell is going on, anyway? Hyunwoo hyung is in America to settle some business there, but --”
“Did he tell you his trip to America was indefinite, and that he has been paying me on time for the past three months without fail, but he won’t answer any of my calls, and he won’t reply to my messages?” Kihyun sees red, as if he hasn’t already spent all that time at home simmering the anger just beneath the surface.

“I’m poor, Changkyun, but I’m not a pauper, and I don’t need him to spare me his kind benevolence.” Kihyun spits sarcastically, and then it all comes crashing down onto him, and he finds his voice shaking, his anger bubbling into tears, and they pour out the only way he knows how to.

He’s held back for so long, refusing to admit defeat, refusing to let Hyunwoo know just how much he cares for his presence, and fuck, he hates crying so damn much, hates that anyone else other than Minhyuk has to see him cry.

But his level of frustration is running an all time high, and if he doesn’t expel all this negativity somehow, he might just explode.

So he does, first a stunted whimper, and then realising how everything that had been wonderful just months ago has reduced itself into the mess it is right now, he lets out a pained sob, and collapses on the office floor, his shirt balled up in his fists.

Changkyun is at a loss as Kihyun crumples into a sobbing mess on the ground, especially since he’d been so harsh and snarky just seconds ago, and then he drops to the floor as well, squatting as he meets Kihyun’s eye level.

“Hey.”

Kihyun releases these heart-wrenching wails, the rims of his eyes pink. He looks so small. “I’m -- hic -- sorry. I just -- I just don’t know what’s going on.”

Changkyun sighs deeply, and Kihyun falls into yet another wave of tears. He’s been so caught up with his vexation, forgetting that the root of the problem wasn’t so much that Hyunwoo had vanished without a word, but more of the fact that he didn’t know if he’d done anything wrong for things to result in the way they did today.

Changkyun reaches out hesitantly, places a hand on Kihyun’s shoulder, doesn’t miss the way the boy winces at the touch. Hyunwoo hyung has fucked up big time, and Changkyun can’t help but curse his boss for doing all of this, and then making him deal with it on his behalf.

All because he was a coward and didn’t think to talk to Kihyun himself.

Kihyun is still crying, fat tears streaming down his face as he thumps harshly at his chest with his fist, forcing himself to calm down. The sobs are minimised to soft whimpers, but he continues the loud strikes against his own chest.

“Me neither. But I don’t think this is the right place for it.” Changkyun doesn’t want to come off as too harsh, but he also knows that Kihyun wouldn’t want to recover from his breakdown only to realise that he’s embarrassed himself in front of all those people, fodder for gossip over the next week and a half.

Kihyun pauses for a second, still on the floor, and he looks around, tears rolling unceremoniously down his cheeks. It feels so wrong to be here without Hyunwoo, without his booming voice and his occasional guffaw, to know that this area belongs to him and only him, yet the most important element in the space is nowhere to be seen.

He tries his best to curb the sadness bubbling from within, threatening to come out in deafening bawls.

“No.” He nods, his voice harsh, and he tries to push himself up to stand, completely ignoring Changkyun’s outstretched hand.

“No, it’s not the right place. You’re right. I’ve come and made a fool of myself.” He doesn’t seem to be addressing an audience, dissolving into a monologue, and he stands back up shakily on his two feet.

“I’ll leave.” His voice cracks on the last word, and Changkyun’s heart is on the verge of breaking. He’s not close enough to call Kihyun his friend, but he’s been a lovely acquaintance, nothing but kind and understanding, and while he doesn’t understand just how much Hyunwoo’s absence affects Kihyun, or the intricacies of their relationship, but it’s not in his place to question it.

In his capacity as Kihyun’s acquaintance, however, Changkyun decides against being a heartless bastard. “Do you -- Can you call for someone to come and get you? I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to just go like this.”

Changkyun means to say that Kihyun looks like utter crap, like he hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in weeks, and with how listless he looks, there is a very high possibility of Kihyun walking onto a busy road without caring to look out for vehicles.

Sensing his hesitation, Changkyun shifts, standing by the front of the door. “In fact, I’m not letting you leave until you’ve gotten someone to come and get you.”

Kihyun looks up at him briefly from his gaze trained on the ground, and Changkyun sees the tears rolling in his eyes. He’s never been good with people crying, and especially not with Kihyun, who’d always looked so cheerful and pleasant during every single one of their encounters.

Kihyun gulps, unsure as to what he should say, and decides against saying anything at all. He silently agrees as he pulls out his phone and dials the only number that comes to mind.

Minhyuk sounds flustered over the phone. “Kihyun? Are you okay?”

Kihyun is still shaking mildly, but he’s calmed down considerably. “Yeah? I think so?” His voice is so tiny, so unlike the Kihyun Minhyuk is used to, and he curses internally at Son Hyunwoo to the ends of the world.

Kihyun had told him about his plans to go to the company to seek answers, and despite Minhyuk’s appeal to his logical side, it was evident that Kihyun no longer worked with sensibility, and his need for answers superseded everything else.

So what was a best friend supposed to do? He could tie Kihyun to a tree and make sure he doesn’t go ahead to hurt himself some more, or in this case, he’d let him go out there and have his heart trampled, and then he can come back for Minhyuk to tend to his wounds, nurse him back to health.

He sighs. “Do you want me to come get you?”

A cracked sob leaves his lips, and Minhyuk’s heart breaks. “Please?”

Minhyuk inhales sharply. “Okay. I have ten minutes left of this tutorial. Hyungwon is just around your area. Can I have him get you first?”

Kihyun looks around him, in the space that reminds him too painfully of Hyunwoo, the remnants of his scent lingering in the office, memories of Hyunwoo sweeping stationery off his table only to press Kihyun against it, fucking him as he held his palm against his lips, forcing him to stay silent.

It’s all too much, and Kihyun tries his best to look past the tears welling up in his eyes again. Anyone will do, at this point. Anyone who’ll get him out of this wretched place, a reminder that Kihyun is once again never good enough.

“Okay.” He tries to muffle a whine.

“Okay.” Minhyuk sounds worried, and Kihyun feels bad, wonders if he’ll ever do anything right, if he’ll stop making trouble for other people. He’s about to hang up when Minhyuk speaks again. “Hey, Ki?”

He sniffs. “Yeah?”

There is a second’s silence, and then Minhyuk exhales into the receiver. “You’re not a burden. You deserve better. We’ll get through this together, yeah?”

And Kihyun can’t help the sobs bursting from his chest, his voice raw and hoarse, and Minhyuk’s heart clenches tightly.

He doesn’t know if he deserves Minhyuk at all. Doesn’t deserve his kindness, deserve his boyfriend to care for him, but while he’s normally not one to accept sympathy, right now Kihyun is truly alone, and he’ll take whatever pity that comes his way.

“I have to go.” He whimpers into the phone in between his fits of crying, and Minhyuk says okay, tells him to wait for Hyungwon to come over, and the conversation ends. Changkyun is observing Kihyun quietly on the side, offering him a piece of tissue meekly. The boy takes it with a thanks, dabbing at his eyes.

“I’ll get him to talk to you,” Changkyun says suddenly, and Kihyun looks at him with red, swollen eyes. He inhales deeply, doesn’t know what’s a good response, but then he remembers Changkyun has nothing to do with this, so he settles for a “I’m sorry, thank you”.

Changkyun waves an arm. “There’s nothing to thank me for. I didn’t think Hyunwoo hyung would do that.”

Kihyun rubs his eyes, a dry, bitter laugh escaping his lips. “Yeah? Me neither.”

Changkyun doesn’t know what to say, feels like he shouldn’t be in a position to say anything, not when he’s bound to side with Hyunwoo, when he’s forced into being his spokesperson.

They stand there for a few minutes, until the phone on Changkyun’s desk rings, and they both jump at the sound.

“Hello?”

“Mr. Im, there is a solicitor with the name Chae Hyungwon asking to see you?”

Changkyun pulls the receiver away. “You’re expecting a Chae Hyungwon?”

Kihyun gulps before nodding. He wipes at his tears hastily, not wanting Hyungwon to find traces of his previous breakdown, though he thinks Minhyuk would have already told him just as much.

“Yeah, can you send him up?”

“Sure thing, Mr. Im. Busy with visitors today?”

Changkyun chuckles breathily. “Huh. You could say that.”

He hangs up the call and leans by the table, folds his arms in front of his chest. “Solicitor. Chae Hyungwon. Familiar name.”

Kihyun puts the tissue to his nose. “The solicitor acting on my behalf with the contract.”

Changkyun narrows his eyes. “You’re not… ending the contract now, are you?”

Kihyun hadn’t even really considered this so much, so caught up with feeling betrayed, at how Hyunwoo disappeared without a squeak, making Kihyun feel like a puppet that’s just been manipulated for his entertainment. But now that he’s mentioned it, the thought sticks, and it won’t go away. Of course, that’s the only way he’ll be able to rid himself from such negativity. He’d have to terminate the contract. And it doesn’t matter if he has to return to the killer shifts at McDonald’s. Kihyun would much prefer to die of exhaustion than beg for another cent from the man who couldn’t care less to talk to him before leaving the country for good.

Kihyun stares at him, and Changkyun feels a shiver run down his spine at how cold his eyes are. “Why not? It’s not like it matters anymore, does it?”

Changkyun blinks slowly. “You haven’t heard his side of the story yet, Kihyun.”

The boy looks away. Changkyun sighs, and speaks again. “I’m not on his side, Kihyun, contrary to popular belief. I agree it’s a dick move for him to leave and not talk to you about this. But I also think stuff like this requires communication, and --”

“He was the one who cut off communication, Changkyun. Not me.” He swallows hard, the rims of his eyes turning red again.

“I know. And I’m saying I’ll get him to talk to you.”

“And then what?” Kihyun looks at Changkyun, unable to keep down the anger seething under again. “And then I casually decide to forgive him for ignoring me for three months?” He can see nothing but red, and he knows this isn’t any of Changkyun’s fault, but fuck, he just needs someone to blame, the main culprit nowhere to be seen, not picking up any of calls, acting like the coward he is.

“Look, I’m just saying you can talk it out. He’s technically not breaching any clauses in the contract, so if it’s not a mutual split you can get into trouble. You do realise it’s a legal document, right?”

And Kihyun knows Changkyun is looking out for him, knows he’s advising him to take the logical path, but heck if he has thrown the last of his logic out the window. He doesn’t care if he has to bear a lawsuit for not wanting to have anything to do with Son Hyunwoo.

If that’s how far Hyunwoo wants to go, Kihyun will gladly play along.

His eyes burn with a hatred so uncontrollable and Changkyun doesn’t know how to contain it. “I’m not saying Hyunwoo hyung will bring up a civil case with you just because you’re terminating the contract one-sidedly, but --”

“But if he wishes to, my client will be more than happy to comply.”

Hyungwon emerges from the open door, and Kihyun looks up at him with tear-filled eyes. He’s never felt so vulnerable, never cried in front of anyone but Minhyuk, but he knows Hyungwon is without judgement, and maybe he’s okay.

The taller boy walks over in two long strides and stands beside Kihyun. He seems reserved, like he’s keeping an arm’s length away. Kihyun doesn’t know if it’s because he’s uncomfortable around Kihyun, or if he’s trying to respect his boundaries.

The black-haired boy narrows the distance between them, and when Hyungwon doesn’t move away, he shrinks and falls into the space beside him.

“Are you okay?” Hyungwon asks suddenly, looking down at Kihyun with those large, curious eyes, and Kihyun feels another wave of tears coming along, his heart squeezing tightly at the sheer amount of concern in him. Hyungwon, a person who could only be loosely defined as a mere acquaintance, to be capable of such care.

What about Hyunwoo? What about the man he’s slept with for the past year, the man who’d broken down in his arms, the man who’d smile whenever he smiled? What did all of that mean, if all it took for Hyungwon to show concern was just to ask Kihyun how he was?

“Not really.” Kihyun swallows, the saliva scraping down his throat as he does, and he winces. Hyungwon’s gaze turns soft, then he looks back at Changkyun.

“You’re his secretary, are you?”

Kihyun inches just a little closer to Hyungwon, relishes in the physical warmth he has to offer. He’s no Minhyuk, no human heater, but he’s kind, and he’s radiating a tenderness Kihyun had only craved over the past three months.

The law student takes a small look at Kihyun, and puts out an arm to wrap it around Kihyun’s waist. To say that he was surprised is an understatement, but he appreciates the gesture, feels Hyungwon’s grip on him slowly pulling him in, putting him back together, and he squares out his shoulders.

“Yeah. Im Changkyun.”

“Well, Mr Im. Today I’m here as the capacity of Kihyun’s friend and not his solicitor, so I’ll spare you and your boss the legal spiel, but if I remember correctly, there was a clause in the contract stating the terms of reciprocity, and Mr Son has an obligation to take care of Kihyun’s wellbeing. This,” he gestures lightly to a red-eyed Kihyun, “isn’t much of taking care, don’t you think?”

Changkyun sighs, putting up both hands. “Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m not suggesting that that’s where he’ll bring it.”

“And I’m not saying that you are. Just know that if Kihyun wishes to terminate the contract unilaterally, I’ll do all I can to make sure that he comes out of it unscathed. Your -- pardon my language -- asshole of a boss did this to this boy.” Kihyun can feel Hyungwon’s grip on his waist tighten.

“This boy who barely even cries when he’s trying his best to keep his life together, who doesn’t even cry when he had to do ten-hour shifts six days in a row. Just let him know he’s done this, and if he cares enough, he won’t insist on keeping Kihyun in.” Hyungwon shifts, and Kihyun moves with him.

“It’s supposed to be mutually beneficial. If your boss wants to tie Kihyun up with his signature on a piece of paper, then he can be sure that there’s no way in hell he’s talking to or coming close to Kihyun. Ever.”

Kihyun feels the sourness pinching at the tip of his nose, and he feels it threatening to pour out again. It just feels so… safe, how Hyungwon had built a wall around him and kept both Hyunwoo and Changkyun out. While Kihyun is once again aware that this has nothing to do with Changkyun, he finds it difficult to see logic when faced with any persons in relation to Hyunwoo.

With a sigh, Hyungwon stands back up straight, and blinks slowly. “Feel free to tell his legal team to give me a ring. They have my phone number.”

Changkyun looks like he has something to say, but instead he opens his mouth and closes it back up like a goldfish, and Kihyun feels smug. Confident, for some reason, even if his insides are all mushed up and it hurts everywhere.

Because for once he feels like he could win this. He could, for once, have the upper hand, instead of constantly being kept in the dark, having to second guess someone else’s decision, having to sit there and cope with the pain someone else’s unsound decisions had inflicted upon him.

“Shall we?” Hyungwon looks at him with a spark in his eyes, and Kihyun has never been more thankful. He nods briefly, and Hyungwon flashes him a small smile. “Let’s go, then. Minhyuk says he’ll buy you ice-cream.”

“Chocolate mousse?” Kihyun asks, and Hyungwon chuckles. “I guess so. He did say it’ll be your favourite one.”

Kihyun nods again, and Changkyun is still standing there awkwardly. He feels bad for the boy, he really does. It’s not his fault Hyunwoo had gone ahead to do something so incredibly uncharacteristically Hyunwoo, and left Changkyun to deal with his mess.

“Hey, uh, Kihyun?” Changkyun is playing with his fingers, and Kihyun knows his soft heart could never use Changkyun as the scapegoat for Hyunwoo’s wrongdoings. “I’m really sorry. I’ll get him to talk to you ASAP. Really.”

Kihyun swallows. “No, I’m sorry for snapping at you. It’s not your fault.”

Changkyun looks at him, his gaze more sympathetic than apologetic, but Kihyun is not in the mood to analyse his hidden emotions right now.

They say their farewells, though Kihyun genuinely wishes that he won’t have to see Changkyun again, at least not for any purpose other than officially terminating the contract.

*****

ASAP, according to Changkyun, comes pretty soon.

Kihyun is revising for a test at home when a call comes through from Hyunwoo’s office. He gulps, bracing himself for the conversation before he picks up. His voice doesn’t waver, and he silently commends himself for that.

“Hello?”

“Kihyun? This is Changkyun.”

Kihyun swallows. “Hey. How you doing?”

There is an awkward chuckle on the other side. “Could be better. You?”

Kihyun catches sight of his own reflection by the mirror on his table, and he debates on whether or not he should tell Changkyun that he’s never been better, or if he should be honest. But at this point, they’re baring their hearts out to each other, and there’s no particular need for a farce anymore.

“I look like shit, according to my friends, and my mirror. So I guess, not great. What’s up?”

He tries to keep it casual, even though he feels a lump in his throat, and he spins his pen between his fingers, tries to focus on the way they move.

“Oh.” Changkyun says, not sure what a good response to that is, and he hears the hesitation loud and clear in his reply. He laughs drily. “It’s okay. What’s up?”

He hears Changkyun breathe in deeply, and wonders if this unnerves the young boy as much as it does to him. Funny, considering Changkyun had no part to play in his and Hyunwoo’s relationship, except for facilitating it to happen in black and white.

“I, uh, spoke to Hyunwoo hyung.”

“Good to know he’s picking up at least one of our calls,” Kihyun jokes lightly, and then he realises maybe he doesn’t want to joke about this, and the sarcastic poke isn’t reaching the audience he’s intended.

“Hah.” Changkyun reacts awkwardly to the acidic statement, but he regains himself quickly as he clears his throat. “Anyway. He… would like to speak to you.”

Kihyun bites down on another snarky remark, and breathes in deeply. “When?”

“Tonight? He can do 8PM our time. Is that okay?”

Kihyun looks at his watch, then his notes, and then he hums. “Okay. 8PM is fine. Do I call him?”

“He’ll call you.”

Kihyun inhales. “Heard that phrase one too many times.”

Then he realises, again, that he isn’t doing anyone any favours with his pokes, so he caves into himself, and lets Changkyun pick up the conversation again.

“I, uh, may or may not have went off on him.”

Kihyun’s eyes widen. “You what?”

“He, uh. I told him off. Told him he was being an irresponsible jerk, that this was most possibly the shittiest thing anybody could’ve done to anyone. I said some things that weren’t very nice.”

Kihyun’s voice is a whisper. “Changkyun. Did you yell at your boss because he went off to America without notifying his sugar baby?”

He can hear Changkyun sigh on the other end. “Maybe? In my defence, or yours, he was gone for three whole months without contact. I can’t even start to imagine what it must have been like.”

Kihyun presses his lips together. “Why?” He finally decides, and Changkyun sounds surprised. “What do you mean, why? Because he’s a jerk, and he needs someone to get that through his thick skull, that’s why.”

“Changkyun, you could lose your job.” Kihyun frowns, both a little glad that Changkyun had stood up for him in his absence, yet worried about the boy and his career.

“Don’t worry about me. He’s not completely lost his head yet. He agrees that he was being an ass about it, and I’m not getting fired any time soon. Don’t worry.” Kihyun thinks about it for a second, but Changkyun speaks again. “If he’s the kind of guy to insist in his wrongdoings, then I don’t see much value in working for him anyway.”

Kihyun doesn’t know how to properly express his gratitude, the guilt of using Changkyun as a human sandbag that day at his office coming back as tsunami waves.

“I’m sorry about that day again, I really am.”

“Hey. It’s okay. I would have been mad too, if I was still Hyunwoo hyung’s sugar baby, and he disappeared without a trace for 3 whole months without as much as a goodbye. You didn’t even get a goodbye. That’s pretty fricking crap.”

Kihyun gulps. Somehow, when they spell it out for him like that, he’s suddenly made aware of just how much it sucked, and how much it’s put him through.

“Thank you. Just -- thanks.”

Changkyun’s voice is calming, and Kihyun stares at his fingers. “You’re welcome. Anyway, 8PM, okay?”

“Okay.” Kihyun’s voice is soft, and he feels his heart clenching at the appointment, equal parts anxiety and anticipation crippling him.

He finally gets to hear Hyunwoo’s voice in months, only this time it’ll be to talk about how they won’t get to meet each other again. The irony doesn’t escape Kihyun.

The gap in his chest widens until it almost splits into two, but Kihyun he knows it can’t break properly, not until he has a conversation with Hyunwoo, where he gets to have his heart fully torn to pieces, and maybe then will he be able to piece it all back.

*****

He strums his fingers uneasily along the side of his table, swallowing loudly as he waits for the minute hand to hit 12. His phone is sitting in front of him, and he’s waiting for all hell to break loose.

He promises himself to not cry. He’s done it in front of Changkyun, Minhyuk, and then Hyungwon, and he thinks maybe that’s enough of embarrassing himself, though a bigger part of him insists on keeping his emotions in check because he’d rather die than let Hyunwoo know just how much this affects him.

As he’s busy thinking about how to distract himself from delving too deep into his emotions, the phone rings, and Hyunwoo’s profile picture shows up, a candid shot of the man at the supermarket, suit and tie, staring wondrously at the products on the shelves.

Kihyun breathes through his mouth, and then slides his thumb over the screen to pick up the call. He doesn’t talk, already sensing his distress seeping through in streams.

“Hello?” Kihyun bites down on his lower lip, and fuck, he can tell himself the opposite as many times as he wishes, but God, he had missed Hyunwoo. So, so much.

“Hello?” Hyunwoo tries again, and then Kihyun hears him miss a beat, a small exhale on his end. “Kihyun?”

The boy is close to tears, his hands shaking as he grips tightly onto the phone, muffling his voice with the back of his hand. He blinks, tries his best to resist the wetness in his eyes, his blunt fingernails digging into the flesh of his palm.

“Kihyun?” He tries again, and then a gulp. “I know you’re listening.”

Shit.

Kihyun can’t help the wetness welling up, hindering his line of vision, and his table looks like a blur, as does his surroundings. He holds his head up and leans back, hoping that the tears will fall right back into their sockets instead of across his cheeks.

“I’m so, so sorry.” There is something like a raw sincerity in Hyunwoo’s voice, which should trigger some idea of forgiveness in Kihyun, but instead the boy springs back into his seat, and swallows his tears back.

“Hyunwoo.”

There is a sigh on the other end, one that signifies more resignation than fatigue. Kihyun is familiar with the man enough to understand the nuances in his behaviour, yet the reasons for his actions still remain much of a mystery, point proven.

“Hi, Kihyun.” An inhale. “How have you been?”

Kihyun is shaking again, and he slowly makes his way to his bed. The soft pillows provide some level of comfort, and he hugs one against his chest. He offers a breathy chuckle. “Miserable. And I assume you’ve been having the time of your life?”

Now that Kihyun’s managed to find the correct target audience for his sarcastic pokes, he’s not going to let them off.

A moment’s silence. Kihyun thinks it’s guilt, but he could be wrong.

“No. No, I wasn’t. Look, I’m sorry, Kihyun.”

Kihyun gulps, blinks his tears back. He will deal with this like the adult he is. He is not going to cry. “What are you sorry for? For the fact that you didn’t think to contact me for three -- now four -- months? For the fact that you didn’t bother to tell me that your trip to America was essentially forever? For the fact that you did both of those things and didn’t consider telling me anything about it, and just about disappeared off the face of my Earth while you existed on everyone else’s?”

“I just thought -- I --” Hyunwoo is struggling to find the right words, though in the fog of Kihyun’s fury, not many words could be made out as the right ones.

“I should have said something, you’re right. I just thought -- I just thought if I kept paying for you, that --”

“So that was your way of apologising? Of resolving things? Money? You didn’t think a face-to-face conversation would’ve worked?”

“I’m sorry, Kihyun --”

He’s unstoppable now, throwing out piercing words that undoubtedly inflict pain on them both.

“I don’t need your fucking sorry money, okay? Take it all fucking back. I’ll put back whatever you’ve been sending over for the past few months. I’m not a fucking beggar. I don’t need your sympathy, especially not when you don’t treat me like your equal.”

He sees a blaze of red, fire burning bright and inundating all that surrounds him. Hyunwoo could be eaten alive by his anger at the rate that he’s going, and Kihyun thinks he doesn’t mind.

“Kih --”

“Were we not friends? At the very least? Outside of the arrangement?” He shifts on the bed, but is seated up straight now that he’s making his points, shooting them over to Hyunwoo’s side relentlessly, not giving him a chance to attack back.

“I don’t expect you to treat me like a boyfriend. You don’t do relationships. I know. You know I don’t do them too. But friends?”

Hyunwoo doesn’t know what to say, holding his breath.

“Don’t you think it’s basic decency to tell me that you’re not going to fucking come back? You just left me hanging for months, Hyunwoo. That’s fucking shit. Even friends with benefits would tell each other that, no?”

Kihyun is trying not to cry, but the fond memories of their times together comes gushing back in waves, and he hates it. He hates reminiscing their good times, hates that he’s saying everything he promised didn’t matter to him.

He told himself that he didn’t care if Hyunwoo didn’t see past him being his sugar baby. Didn’t care if he wasn’t treated like a friend. He told himself that none of it mattered, yet here he is, babbling like some spoilt child demanding answers to his questions, declaring victim over and over again.

Hyunwoo keeps mum, and for a second, Kihyun does, too.

Hyunwoo is about to say some more, when he hears a shaky exhale, and an unconcealed sob. His heart does a flip. He didn’t know what he’d expected, maybe hoped for Kihyun to just leave things be and pretend like their paths never crossed.

But really, Hyunwoo should’ve known better. Kihyun was a tidy freak; he can’t just leave a piece of loose thread lying around, especially not just to avoid confrontation.

Kihyun clears his throat, his voice small and weak, and Hyunwoo feels a pressure against his chest, pinning him down, and he struggles to breathe. “Is that what we were? Business partners? Not even friends?”

The boy’s voice breaks on the last word and Hyunwoo wants to tell him that that’s not the case, that the reason behind his wordless departure was exactly because he could no longer see Kihyun as his business partner, or his friend.

He finds himself wanting more, expecting more, his mind asking questions he knows Kihyun doesn’t

have to or want to answer. It’s been a long while since he’s had thoughts like that, ever since Jae. And it’s silly, but it’s there, and Hyunwoo cannot run away from it anymore.

Instead he chooses to run from Kihyun, which seems like the healthier choice for everyone.

He’s promised to no longer be the man that would allow himself to be hurt, and maybe this is the cowardly option, but he’s spent all these years putting his fences up, and he’s not going to risk pulling them down for Kihyun.

Not like this.

Not when he knows this isn’t what Kihyun is looking for -- he’s even said it himself just then -- ‘You don’t do relationships. I know. You know I don’t do them too.’ -- and Hyunwoo does know it, perhaps a little too well. Knows how much Kihyun hates being tied down, hates being bombarded with questions, hates maintaining the gritty bits of a relationship.

On hindsight, maybe he should have sat down with Kihyun like a proper adult, talk to him over a cup of coffee and tell him how he felt. But Hyunwoo, despite what anyone says about him, grapples with himself a lot.

Why should he talk about feelings that he knows aren’t reciprocated? Why should he offer a confession if he’s certain that it’ll go nowhere?

There is no way out, Hyunwoo thinks. And even amidst all of this, he’ll admit that he had been selfish. He’d wished Kihyun would turn a blind eye at his absence, that he’d still let him take care of him financially, have his associates in Seoul look over him while Hyunwoo scurries overseas with his unrequited feelings.

He just wants to take care of Kihyun in the only way he knows how to without having to hurt himself in the process.

But Kihyun has been his sugar baby for more than a year now. Hyunwoo, of all people, should know how he is. Why, that had been the one thing Kihyun was so insistent on when they met to discuss the arrangement; Kihyun didn’t want to take advantage of Hyunwoo’s kindness, didn’t want to feel indebted to anyone, didn’t want to take money without rendering his services.

Maybe Hyunwoo didn’t think this through. Maybe he hadn’t expected this to blow up in his face. But between this cowardly phone call where Kihyun is probably crying on the other end and actually looking at his tear-streaked face, Hyunwoo would still choose the spineless option in a heartbeat.

He didn’t know how to keep this arrangement going without hurting anyone’s feelings. To terminate the contract seemed harsh and unnecessary, especially if he was going to keep his feelings to himself. To keep pretending like nothing was wrong was digging himself a grave and forcing himself to jump into it, and Hyunwoo can only keep up a pretence for so long.

The truth was, he was smitten with Kihyun. Heads over heels. Irrevocably in love with Kihyun. And that truth hurt, because he was made to spend all this time with the ethereal boy of his dreams, to touch him, hold him, say lovely things to him, and none of it had any true significance.

It was merely a reminder to Hyunwoo that Kihyun was here for a good time and not a long time, yet a long time with Kihyun was something he hadn’t wished for so desperately ever since he’d gotten his heart trampled on.

It broke his heart to know that he kept wanting more with a boy who didn’t want more, and the time with him was a stark slap across his face, telling him to wake up from his desires, and that everything that would amount to anything would ultimately result in nothing.

Kihyun seems to have recovered from his tiny outburst, but Hyunwoo hears nothing more than a sniffle from the other side. He’s about to apologise again when Kihyun says something that he’s both relieved and pained to hear.

“I’ll get my solicitor to prepare the termination papers. Are you happy to sign them?”

Hyunwoo deliberates on saying something really silly, like tell Kihyun just how much he adores him and he would love to keep the agreement going, but he’s afraid that if he keeps this going, that he might act like the man he had despised himself to have been in the past.

Maybe Kihyun will say something equally silly, like he’s willing to try relationships out if it’s with Hyunwoo, that he’d be open to a possible future if only Hyunwoo would, too.

And really, it’s all so silly, and Hyunwoo feels like an idiot. Of course the only option he has now is to snip it clean, leave no traces behind, and maybe, just maybe, if he’s allowed the time away from Kihyun, he’ll learn to patch up the hole he’s left from his departure, and although Kihyun isn’t gone just yet, Hyunwoo has no doubt that the hole he’ll leave behind would be massive.

Maybe Hyunwoo can learn to slowly go back to contractual agreements with people he doesn’t want to develop long-term relationships with.

Maybe, if he tries hard enough, he’ll forget Kihyun existed as this powerful force in his life that pretty much toppled his every sense of logic, every piece of brick wall around him, made him see his own tenderness and weakness all in one night, and destroyed him in a single blow.

So he holds himself back from saying all the silly things he was ready to say, and swallows before answering.

“Yes, of course, I’ll be happy to sign the termination papers.”

Chapter Text

Hyungwon walks into their apartment with a hand through his hair, large round glasses on the bridge of his nose, and he looks troubled.

Minhyuk is on the sofa with Kihyun curled into his side, hugging a pillow to his chest as he stares blankly at the drama on the TV. He’s not watching much of it, just feeling the way Minhyuk is threading his fingers through his black hair slowly.

He almost falls into a lull of slumber when he feels a weight on his left.

“Hey babe,” Minhyuk says, not looking away from the television, not stopping his hand from running through Kihyun’s hair.

“Hi sweetie.”

Kihyun sniffs through his nose. Yeah, okay, pretend Kihyun didn’t just have a whole serious phone conversation with Hyunwoo two days ago, and be all sickeningly lovey-dovey with each other.

“Hi, Kihyun.”

“Glad to know I still exist to you.” Kihyun presses his lips together in a sulk, and Minhyuk just huffs in half-amusement, half-exasperation.

Hyungwon bites back a rebuttal and flips through a stack of documents in his hands. “I, uh, prepared the termination papers.”

At the sound of it, Kihyun perks up and sits up straight, Minhyuk staring at his back as Kihyun turns to look at Hyungwon.

“Yeah?”

Hyungwon swallows. “Yeah.”

He nods slowly. “Okay. Any terms I should take note of?”

Hyungwon blinks. “Not really. Just what you told me to do -- return him the money he’s sent over the past three months.”

“Yeah.” He pauses for a bit. “Do you think that’s okay?”

The answer comes in the form of a Lee Minhyuk behind him. “No, I think it’s crap. Why do you have to return him his money when he treats you like this? You should be scalping him for more cash.”

Kihyun spins around to look at Minhyuk, who has his brows furrowed, and his hands kneaded together.

“Our relationship was a disposable one to begin with. You know that.”

“I know. And you’ve been talking about how he had no obligation to notify you of his whereabouts,” Minhyuk says, and Kihyun can feel his frustration welling up, perks of understanding his best friend too well.

After the phone conversation, Kihyun has spent a lot of time thinking of more excuses for Hyunwoo.

He realised that the reason behind his unhappiness was in his covert expectations of the man, that he had somehow assumed himself a position of importance in Hyunwoo’s life.

“I did. And he really has no such obligation.”

“Yeah? Then why are you so upset? To the stage where you have to terminate the contract with him?” Minhyuk asks, his gaze challenging, and Kihyun doesn’t know how to answer him. Just because he’d now understood that his unhappiness stemmed from closeted expectations didn’t mean he was happy about being abandoned.

“Because I was hurt, I don’t know? Why are you questioning me?” Kihyun frowns, growing increasingly frustrated at the lack of answers. He knows this is the right thing to do, and he doesn’t appreciate Minhyuk finding loopholes for him to jump through.

“He didn’t respect you as a person, Ki. He didn’t treat you like a friend. I know you guys had a contract and could agree to split as soon as you wanted, but you spent a year with the guy. More than 365 days. And he thought of you as disposable? That’s bullshit.” Minhyuk glares angrily at Kihyun, though the fury is directed towards Hyunwoo, and Kihyun gulps, staring at his hands.

“Did you ever think of Hyunwoo as disposable? A moment in your sugar baby career you thought: ‘oh yeah, I guess I could get rid of him and get another sugar daddy, no big deal’?” Kihyun can feel Hyungwon’s gaze burning a hole in his back.

“A couple of times. Not so much after we fucked. He was… important. I guess? To my wellbeing.” Kihyun swallows, then he adds, albeit hesitantly, “he made me really happy.” And fuck, there it is again, those tears rolling in his eyes, Minhyuk eyeing him cautiously, wondering if he’ll finally let it all out like he deserves to. “Did I make him happy, though?”

Minhyuk shakes his head, pulls Kihyun in for a hug. “You’re silly. Of course you did. You should’ve seen the way he looked at you. Like you’re the most precious thing on Planet Earth. It was really cute.”

Kihyun breathes deeply in Minhyuk’s hold. “Yeah?” He’s shaking, and then he lets his tears fall softly on Minhyuk’s shirt. “Then why did he treat me like I’m nothing, and pretended like I didn’t matter enough for him to even talk about his leaving? Why couldn’t he have just terminated the contract and told me that he didn’t like me anymore?”

Minhyuk opens his mouth up to speak, but he doesn’t have anything good to offer. “I -- I don’t know, Ki. I’m sorry.”

And the boy starts to cry, soft little sobs echoing into deafening bawls, and Minhyuk holds on tight to him, not knowing how to properly console him, and Hyungwon is even more at a loss, sitting awkwardly on the other end of the sofa with the papers still in his hands.

“Let it all out, Ki. Slowly.” He rubs at his back gently, and the boy bubbles with cries, tears falling gracelessly on Minhyuk’s shirt, wetting its hem.

*****

Kihyun gets Hyungwon to send the termination papers out, keeping in the clause on returning him his money. Call it pride or anything you prefer, but Kihyun is not one to owe debts, doesn’t want to be left in a position where he would be forced to be at someone’s beck and call because of a favour he’s owed them before.

It’s something he’d mentioned to Hyunwoo at their very first meeting, so it had been highly disappointing to know that Hyunwoo had thought he was able to get away with paying for Kihyun in his extended absence.

When the papers return after a few business days, from where Hyunwoo had signed them in New York and sent them back to Seoul, Kihyun is found staring at the familiar sign on the dotted line. That’s it. That’s the end.

That’s how it started, and that’s how it comes to a close.

It should feel… gratifying. Should feel like he’s placed a full stop on a run-on sentence, unnecessarily long and complicated, its language verbose yet restrained, like they’ve wasted so many words describing everything, yet meaning nothing at all.

The paper crumples a little in his grip as he glares at it, almost like he hadn’t asked for this, like he wasn’t the one who initiated the split, as if Hyunwoo was being too compliant. It leaves a bitter taste on his tongue, the fact that he’d cooked up a storm in his brain, deliberating on whether or not he should do it, finally doing it, and all Hyunwoo did was be terribly acquiescing.

He didn’t even put up a fight.

And that pisses Kihyun off, because the man had been the one to land them in their situation today, and yet he didn’t do anything to help salvage it, just taking whatever came his way.

*****

Changkyun swallows, his right eyelid twitching. He’s listening to the dial tone ring out, attempting to gain a connection, and he takes another massive hit of his black coffee.

It finally comes through, and his screen is filled with Hyunwoo’s face. He looks pretty crap, though he didn’t look quite as bad as Kihyun did when he came shouting into his office.

“Changkyun.”

He blinks. “Hyunwoo hyung.”

“How are you do --”

“Horrible. Can we save ourselves the pleasantries and just get to the point?”

Hyunwoo frowns. “Is this how you speak to your boss?” It wasn’t common for Hyunwoo to play his Boss card, but maybe he’s been feeling a little under the weather in recent days, and the last thing he needs is sass from his personal secretary.

Changkyun rolls his eyes. “Well, Mr Son, Sir, would you like to talk me through the contract with Amazon, or should we sit here and ask about each other’s days some more?”

“Do you have a problem with me, Changkyun?”

Changkyun bites his tongue. As much as he’s unhappy about the way things had turned out and mostly Hyunwoo’s role to play in the whole Kihyun fiasco, he does want to keep his job. “No, Sir.”

Hyunwoo’s gaze grows soft. “You can tell me. You already lectured me for half an hour the last time we spoke, so what’s there not to say?”

Changkyun inhales. “And it seems like our conversation did little to change your mind.”

Hyunwoo’s face is too clear on the other side, and Changkyun regrets the fact that he can see every bit of the wince Hyunwoo’s just made. He plays dumb.

“Change my mind? About?”

Changkyun is trying not to lose his temper. “You know what about.”

Hyunwoo turns silent, and then he looks away from the camera for a bit.

“Kihyun?”

And he sees the hard lines in Hyunwoo’s face forming when he mentions the boy, and regrets being able to see that, too.

“Yeah.”

Hyunwoo sighs, a small one, twiddling with his fingers on-screen.

“What did you want me to do, Changkyun? He proposed the termination. What was I supposed to say?”

Changkyun narrows his eyes, but there is emotion bubbling in him. He remembers the heart-wrenching cries that Kihyun made as he fell into a heap in Hyunwoo’s office. He feels horrible, heart aching for the boy, remembers the dark circles under his eyes, how he’d stormed into their office with a tremor in his hands.

“Anything, hyung. Anything would’ve been alright.”

Hyunwoo presses his lips together. “I can’t do anything, Changkyun,” he whispers. He looks… scared. Like he isn’t 30 years old, like he isn’t a successful man worth millions of dollars.

“Why?” Changkyun doesn’t know if he wants to know, his chest growing heavy as Hyunwoo breathes out shakily.

And when Hyunwoo looks back at the camera, he’s wearing a pained expression, the most tortured look Changkyun has ever seen on him.

“Because I love him, Changkyun, and that terrifies me.”

*****

It’s like he’s set free all his pent-up emotions and tears he’d failed to let out in Hyunwoo’s absence. The gates open, the force gushing out like water released from a dam, drowning towns as it goes.

Kihyun throws a pity party. He lets Minhyuk coddle him, baby him as he hugs him against his chest while he falls into another cycle of sobs. He’s so tired of crying, but maybe he’s held himself back for way too long that the fatigue feels almost satiating, like he’s managed to appease his inner turmoil with some weary emotional relief.

Hyungwon seems to be contented with sitting on the far end of the sofa, but when Kihyun had sniffled and looked in his general direction, the law student sighed and shifted back in.

It became almost natural for Hyungwon to fall into place as Kihyun’s second protector, and while Kihyun appreciates his occasional cuddle sessions with Jooheon, Hyungwon was different. He was relaxed. Easy. Brought with him an air of nonchalance.

He was so casual it felt peaceful, like he didn’t mind at all if Kihyun would wipe his snot against his sleeve, or if Kihyun grabbed onto his arm in a death grip for no particular reason. And even though he isn’t warm like Minhyuk, and he’s way too thin to provide cushiony comfort, he feels… safe.

And safe is what Kihyun needs.

He’s nestled between Minhyuk and Hyungwon, and he feels like their child, which is an odd feeling, because he’s been playing nothing but the role of the mother hen over the past few years, and to be held so softly and closely by the people he had always looked out for felt strange.

Jooheon returns from his shift from McDonald’s and casually replaces Hyungwon’s position beside Kihyun, his arms coming around his hyung as he dabs tissue at his eyes carelessly. He almost pokes Kihyun in the eye, and it was the first time he’d seen Kihyun laugh in the past month.

So he pulls more funny faces, cracks a few more horrible jokes, and when Kihyun has a semi-permanent smile on his face, Jooheon feels at ease. Kihyun knows what he’s doing, knows that he’s tired and he’d love to do nothing but sleep, and his heart aches at the knowledge that his friends are doing this for him.

They’re showing up to his pity party, providing the ice-cream and the cuddles and the consolations, and he delves into yet another round of self-pitying, feeling so wretched, feeling like maybe his friends don’t deserve to sit around to deal with his moping around.

When Kihyun falls asleep with tear streaks dried on his cheek, Jooheon is glancing over at Minhyuk, who seems to be very emotionally invested in the latest episode of some sub-par rom com.

“Minhyuk hyung.”

The blonde turns his head to look at Jooheon. “Hey.” He holds the volume down button on the remote and hikes up a brow. “You look tired. Do you want to go to bed? I’ll take care of the big baby.” Minhyuk’s arms are around Kihyun’s shoulders, and Hyungwon has already retired for the night in Minhyuk’s bedroom. Minhyuk would feel bad for ruining their date, but Hyungwon didn’t seem to mind, said that Kihyun deserved Minhyuk’s time more.

Minhyuk wonders how he’d been contented with casual hook-ups before. Relationships are so fulfilling, and Hyungwon is so relenting it hurts. Maybe it was just because he’d never met someone quite like Hyungwon before.

“I’m okay,” Jooheon says, waving around an arm. He stares at Kihyun’s tear-stricken cheeks and goes ahead to wipe at them with his sleeve. “He has it bad, hyung. I don’t remember ever seeing him like this.”

He pauses. “His room is a mess, have you seen? Normally I would be over the moon about it, but it just seems like he’s way past the point of even stressing. He’s suffering, it’s painful to watch.”

Minhyuk nods, clicks his tongue. “Yeah, I saw. I mean, I don’t know. Hyunwoo was an ass, and Kihyun… you know how he is. He doesn’t look like it, but rejection has always hit him the worst. He thinks Hyunwoo lost interest in him, thinks he’s not good enough to have kept Hyunwoo by his side.”

“That’s not true at all --”

“I know. And I keep telling him that, if only he would listen. I mean, people change their minds all the time. He’s a millionaire; he’s allowed to be fickle.” He sighs. “I just wish he was a bit nicer about it, that’s all. He could have sat Kihyun down and talked, you know. Sure, Kihyun would have taken it just as badly, but at least he wouldn’t have had to sit through three whole months of guessing.”

Jooheon frowns. “Yeah. He was a massive jerk about it. And to think I liked him.” He slides further down the sofa, and finds himself at eye level with Kihyun’s face. He pats him on the head softly.

Jooheon doesn’t remember the last time he’d seen Kihyun so vulnerable. Heck, he doesn’t even think he’s seen him cry before.

Minhyuk sighs, gaze falling back on Kihyun’s sleeping face. “We all liked him. A lot. And I think Kihyunnie here did too,” he says softly as he rubs his thumb against his temple, “only I don’t think he realised just how much he did.”

*****

Hoseok is startled by the slam of his door against the wall behind, and he jumps from his seat. By his doorway is Changkyun, a character he’d heard more of from Hyunwoo during his sugar baby days than in his current secretarial position.

The boy, however, does not look like he’s here to sip on coffee or to chat about their daily lives. Changkyun is dressed in his suit, neat, tidy, and a briefcase in hand. If not for the way he’d swung open his door with all his might, Hoseok might think he was here to talk business.

Then again, he’s wearing his hardest scowl, so it’s not difficult to tell that he’s peeved about something -- or someone.

“Changkyun!” He greets, standing up from his seat. “To what do I owe the honour?” He steps out of his desk with an outstretched hand, and while Changkyun looks like he’s positively fuming, he does shake his hand.

“Mr Shin.”

“Woah. Sounds serious. I thought you got used to calling me Hoseok hyung.” Hoseok side-steps away from Changkyun to usher him in, and closes the door behind him. He pulls down the blinds to keep away wandering eyes, and gestures to the chair before his desk.

“Please, take a seat.”

Changkyun does, resting his briefcase on Hoseok’s table, ignoring the scatter of documents on his desk that seem to be arranged in some disarrayed order. Hoseok bites on his tongue. Even though Hoseok has been here since Hyunwoo’s father was in the company, and is Hyunwoo’s trusted best friend, he knows better than to offend Changkyun.

Capable people can afford to do that -- Hoseok understands that well enough.

“Is everything doing okay at the main office?”

Changkyun nods curtly. “Tip-top. It’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.”

The ends of Hoseok’s lips turn up. “Evidently. What did you want to talk about?’

Changkyun blinks, swipes at his bottom lip with his tongue. “Yoo Kihyun. You know him, right?”

Hoseok nods, his expression unreadable. “Mm. Hyunwoo’s sugar baby? I may have met him once. Saw him in passing at Hyunwoo’s office. What about him?”

Changkyun clears his throat. “ Ex-sugar baby.”

“Sorry?”

“I said, ex. Ex-sugar baby.”

Hoseok frowns, his face falling. “Oh? Oh.” He regains composure. “That’s… unfortunate. What happened?”

Changkyun inhales in deeply. “There’s really no need for you to put on a show, Hoseok hyung. I know.”

The man raises a brow. “Oh? What do you know?”

Changkyun swallows. He can’t believe Hoseok is being so utterly smug now. He must think he’s doing Hyunwoo a favour, or something.

“Hyunwoo hyung told me that you convinced him to leave for America to ‘think things through’.”

Hoseok glowers, just slightly. “I told him to go to America to try and clinch us that bid with Amazon.” He relaxes into his chair. “But if it helped him clear his mind about his feelings for Kihyun, that’s not at all a bad thing, is it?”

Changkyun feels his anger rising. “No, it’s not a bad thing. But you know how obtuse the man is with his feelings. You give him an escape route, he’ll run down it and never come back.”

Hoseok folds his arms before his chest. “I’m not following you.”

“I’m saying he ran off to New York and ignored Kihyun for three whole months as he was ‘thinking things through’. He left the poor boy stranded in Seoul, wondering if he was kidnapped or hurt or sick, wondering why the man who’d been so nice and kind to him just before he left was now ignoring him entirely. He made a scene at the office.” Changkyun’s hold on the handle of his briefcase tightens, and the little twitch doesn’t escape Hoseok.

Hoseok frowns. “A scene?” He cracks his knuckles. “He doesn’t look like the kind.”

Changkyun’s stare is intense. “He isn’t the kind. You can imagine how absolutely furious he was.”

“Huh.” He leans back, his chair tilting as he does. “And you want to talk to me about him because?”

Changkyun’s eyelid twitches. “Were you not the one to advise Hyunwoo hyung to settle it ‘once and for all’?”

Hoseok glances furtively at Changkyun. “Hyunwoo told you?”

The chuckle escaping Changkyun’s lips almost bites into Hoseok’s flesh. “Did you give him crappy advice thinking he wouldn’t tell on you?”

Hoseok’s brows furrow. He doesn’t understand the hostility, so he hashes it out with Changkyun, questioning his lack of manners towards a superior in work.

“I’m not here to talk to you about work, though. I’m here to talk to you about your friend. Do you know Hyunwoo hyung is miserable?”

Hoseok breathes, his chin tipping upwards. “And you reckon he’d be less so if he kept things going with Kihyun?”

Changkyun snorts, though it’s one of distaste instead of amusement. “And who am I to make the rules to decide if that would be the case? I’m just laying out the facts here, and right now, he’s inconsolable.”

Hoseok gulps. He blinks softly. One second of silence. Two. Three.

“Hyunwoo isn’t cut out for romance.”

Changkyun doesn’t bother to conceal the loud guffaw of absolute disdain. “And who made you King of Romance?”

Hoseok huffs, puffing up his chest in indignance. “He’s my best friend. I know him better than he knows himself. He was… affected by a previous relationship.”

Changkyun nods. “I know.”

Hoseok’s eyes are the size of saucers. “He told you about Jae, too?”

“It may surprise you to know that Hyunwoo hyung doesn’t only have you as a friend. And I’m certain I give him considerably better advice.” He taps his fingers on his briefcase, and Hoseok eyes his movements. He stares at him.

It’s not that Hoseok didn’t care for Hyunwoo’s feelings. Quite the contrary, Hoseok knew how soft Hyunwoo was as opposed to his public image. The man was affectionate, enjoyed showering people with compliments, seeing them smile. Hoseok thinks if Hyunwoo isn’t who he is, he would have devoted himself to a life of giving, volunteering with charities, or even adopting several children as his own.

And exactly because Hyunwoo had such a weak spot for people, it made him easy target for individuals like Jae to hurt him, trample on his beautiful soul, render him helpless. And despite all of what he’d gone through, Hyunwoo is still Hyunwoo, and he never could quit his generosity and love.

Hoseok sighs. “I was just trying to protect him --”

Changkyun doesn’t agree. “Yeah? And you know how else you could have protected him? By not handling him with kid gloves, and letting him grow the hell up.”

“Changkyun. You don’t understand. Hyunwoo was hurt so badly the last time --”

Changkyun deadpans. “That’s where you’re wrong -- I do understand. But for God’s sake, if you keep trying to keep Hyunwoo hyung in a tiny little cocoon of safety, he’ll never develop healthy relationships, only bingeing on short-term pleasurable toys he calls humans, sees every relationship as disposable and values them according to how much he should pay. That’s not the right mindset you should have. Not when you’re 30, and you could have all of that happily ever after stuff you’ve ever wanted, but you’re too damn afraid to go and get it, because your friend keeps telling you otherwise.”

Hoseok grows irate at this stage, his chair creaking as he sits up straight. “He’s not a child,” Hoseok spits, eyes narrowed. “He doesn’t have to listen to me if he doesn’t want to.”

Changkyun doesn’t back down. “Yet you are fully aware of how much your opinions matter to him.”

The man grips at the edge of his desk and Changkyun can see a vein by his neck pulsing. He could get punched right here, and judging from how Hoseok’s suit sleeves are wrapping around his bulging biceps with much difficulty, Changkyun will most certainly lose.

“What do you want me to do, Changkyun? I just want to help.” Hoseok’s face is contorted into one of sheer exasperation, like he’s trying his best to make a mull point. Changkyun listens, though he regards most of it as bullshit.

“He was a fucking mess when that Jae guy left. He was in shambles, and was so close to turning into a hermit. Until I opened him up to the prospect of ‘expendable’ lovers, he was ready to suppress the feelings that big heart of his was capable of. I just want him to be happy.”

Changkyun swallows. “Then you know, better than anyone else, that the best person to have done that for him was Kihyun.”

And Hoseok cannot lie through his teeth, because he does know exactly how Hyunwoo wore the brightest smiles he’d seen on him ever since Jae, and how he would talk about Kihyun endlessly, all with a twinkle in his eyes, admiration written all over his face.

Hoseok knows, way too well. And perhaps it scared him just as much as it did Hyunwoo. He just wanted to be a good friend.

“What would you like me to do now?”

Changkyun shakes his head. “Nothing. They’re done for, so there’s nothing to fix.” Changkyun plays with his fingers. He looks down at his briefcase for a second, but when he lifts his head to stare back at Hoseok, the older man thinks he’s staring right into his soul.

“But please, Hoseok hyung, please stop treating him like he’s fragile. He’s vulnerable and susceptible to people hurting his feelings, yes, but he’s not made of glass. If he doesn’t stand up for himself and change his outlook on relationships, he won’t ever move on. You’re indulging him, letting him live in the shadow of Jae’s existence, and every alleged relationship he gets himself into is just a stark reminder of how he’s never gotten out of the little trap Jae had created for him.” Folding his hands together, Changkyun leans back into his chair. “I don’t think that’s helping him at all.”

And while Hoseok is prideful and has every right to be, he doesn’t know what the correct response to Changkyun’s outburst is. Had he really ruined the next best thing to have happened in Hyunwoo’s life for him? Did he really put up Hyunwoo’s fences for him and forced him to stay in his little play circle, refusing to let him go out and see the world for himself?

The guilt eats him up alive.

It’s also ridiculous how both their ages exceed the years of a half-century, yet Hoseok still babies him, and Hyunwoo allows himself to be treated like a child. Hoseok provides advice that he assumed was good for Hyunwoo, yet little did he know that it only served to cage Hyunwoo deeper into his personal bubble.

And without the push from a trusted individual, he knew Hyunwoo was satisfied with not overstepping the boundaries, staying in his comfort zone, and Hoseok’s affirmation that he’s making the right choice only encouraged him further. Hoseok knows better, Hyunwoo thinks. Hoseok has a loving relationship with his fiancee, and he’s happy; he could give me decent advice that’ll make me happy too, Hyunwoo thinks.

As Hoseok looks back at the secretary, who has a pleading look on his face, he can’t help but agree that Changkyun’s advice is considerably better than Hoseok’s will ever be.

*****

It’s a lovely thing to not be stuck in debt. Kihyun despises Hyunwoo for his decision, but he cannot deny that Hyunwoo’s help during his most financially dire times had meant the whole world.

He tries not to rub it in Jooheon’s face as the boy struggles to balance his shifts at McDonald’s, composing, and uni, all so he can pay his parents back for his education as soon as possible.

Kihyun had no such problem, though it somehow unsettles him, and he suspects it has much to do with the ample free time that’s back on his hands again.

He’d allowed the pity party to go on for several more rounds, until he woke up one morning and decided that he was done moping around and feeling down. He still has all that money he’s saved from Hyunwoo, so he packs his bags, books a ticket and notifies Minhyuk briefly that he’s going home for a few days.

“Home?” Minhyuk is perched by the kitchen counter, munching on a banana.

“Mmm.” Kihyun is stuffing a few more necessities into his backpack, stares briefly at an energy bar, and decidedly wedges it in the front pocket. Minhyuk rests his elbows on the marbled surface.

“For how long?”

Kihyun picks up his contact lens solution, which has mysteriously appeared on the dining table instead of where it was in the bathroom. The culprit is still chewing on his fruit.

“I don’t know. Maybe a week and a half.”

“Wow. That’s a long time.”

Kihyun huffs. “It’s not that long.”

There is a long pause. “I thought you hated going home,” Minhyuk says casually, and Kihyun is too busy packing to realise just what he’s said. The reaction is a little stunted, coming only seconds after.

“I have never said that.”

Minhyuk shrugs. “You haven’t, but you’ve always made sure to book tickets home for the new year where your schedule would only permit your stay for no more than a week.”

Kihyun is taken aback, the words prickling his conscience. He didn’t think Minhyuk would have noticed or known at all. “Why do you know so much about me?”

“I’m concerned about you, Kihyun. I’m your best friend. You have a lot of problems you don’t directly face, and that’s fine by me. I’m happy to sweep them under the carpet, but it doesn’t mean they don’t exist, or that I don’t know about them.”

Kihyun frowns, cannot place the emotion that growing in him. “What problems? I don’t have problems.”

Minhyuk raises both his brows and finishes the last of his banana. “If you say so.” He drops the peel in the rubbish bin, and makes his way back to his room.

“No, you’re not leaving. Tell me what my problems are.”

Minhyuk swallows. “I’m not starting a fight with you, Ki.”

“I’m not either. I just want to know what my problems are, since I have so many, and since you know them so well.” Kihyun is seething, and it doesn’t need to take being his best friend to know that.

“I really don’t want to have this conversation with you right now.” Minhyuk puts up a hand, and Kihyun stands in front of him, blocking his way.

“No. Tell me.”

Minhyuk takes in a deep breath, and stares at Kihyun dead in the eyes. “Yeah. You wanna talk about your problems? Okay. You have problems dealing with your emotions, Kihyun. This whole,” he makes a small circle with his hand, gesturing to the space between him and Kihyun, “emotional breakdown with Hyunwoo happened because you never know how to regulate your feelings. You always just keep everything in, hold everything back, and then let it all come out like a burst pipe. That’s not healthy.”

Kihyun inhales, but Minhyuk isn’t done.

“What else? Oh, you have commitment issues. You’re always so morbidly afraid of establishing good, healthy relationships with people. What’re you so scared of? They’re just people. I know you don’t like the leashes. Makes you feel constrained, like you’re not allowed to spread your wings. But you’ll find that someone who’ll be happy for you to do what you like, all while loving you. You never know if someone is the right one for you if you keep running.”

“I’m not running --”

“Yeah? How long did it take for you to realise that you liked Hyunwoo more than just a business partner? And even then you keep telling yourself that he was just a friend . You don’t bawl your eyes out at a friend ignoring you for three months, Kihyun, but if you want to keep telling yourself that, that’s fine by me.”

Kihyun braces himself for the third blow.

“While we’re at it. What’s so difficult about maintaining a relationship? No one’s asking for grand romantic acts of love every day. You don’t always have to keep things interesting. Sometimes boring is okay. Sometimes Hyungwon and I take a cute ride on a ferris wheel, other time we eat pizza and watch stupid dramas. And sometimes that’s okay. It’s not going to take up all of your time. Or cost you an arm and a leg. You just have to try.”

Kihyun bites on his lower lip. He’s trying his best to restrain himself from punching Minhyuk in the face, because well, he’s right. Minhyuk’s right, just like all the other times he’s been, and it’s not just because he’s a smartass, but he really does know Kihyun better than Kihyun knows himself, and Kihyun feels exposed.

He’s being stared down by Minhyuk’s challenging gaze, confidence written all over his face, and Kihyun feels himself cave in. Of course Minhyuk is correct.

He feels the corners of his eyes turning wet, and turns to pick up the backpack that’s bursting from the seams. He straps it onto his back and makes sure he has everything he needs.

“I’ll see you in a week and a half,” is all he says before he leaves the apartment, the silence deafening after the door snaps shut. Minhyuk smacks himself on the head and slips back into his bedroom quietly, wondering if he’s possibly made things worse than they’ve ever been.

*****

Kihyun is reminded of just how much and why he dislikes coming home. His mother had been so surprised at his sudden appearance that she’d pulled him in immediately, busying herself with whipping up a scrumptious dinner. Kihyun has barely even said hi.

His father is more or less the same, gushing at him about a neighbour’s kid who’s enrolled into Harvard, the boy smart and upright, and he maybe hints at how the boy keeps his parents updated about his life in America. He also tells Kihyun that he’s back for his holidays, rushing back to see his parents almost immediately when he landed in Korea.

It feels a bit like a poke to Kihyun who never bothered to contact his parents save for the festivities, and he was always quick to diverge the topic whenever his parents went on a spiel about how he should be managing his finances better, paying more attention in school, going out less, finding a girlfriend.

He sometimes feels like he is but a malleable piece of dough that his parents are desperate to stuff into a mould, and if it wasn’t for the fact that his elder brother is already the over-achiever in the family that his parents boast about on a minutely basis, he’s certain he would have gotten it worse.

“So Kihyun, how is uni?”

Kihyun picks at his bowl of rice. “Good.”

“How are your grades?”

He hums. “They’re alright.”

His father hikes up an eyebrow. “You know we’ve never thought well of your whole artsy fartsy major. We wanted you to do --”

“Medicine. I know.” He rolls his eyes as subtly as he can, feeling like he’s five again. Or maybe a suspect being taken in for interrogation. Either way, the questions leave a bitter aftertaste on his tongue.

“Right.” His father picks up a piece of meat and puts it in his mother’s bowl. She smiles softly at him. Kihyun doesn’t deny that his heart aches a little bit, maybe even craves some variety of their kind of relationship. “So we let you go out and study what you enjoy, I’d assume you’ll be passing with flying colours.”

Kihyun breathes through his nose evenly. “Just because I like it doesn’t mean I’m a prodigy at it, Dad.”

“Yeah, well, I know that. It’s just. We have high hopes for you, son, and even if what you’re doing isn’t really a viable career, I’d at least hope you’re faring well.”

Kihyun suppresses the growl that’s threatening to escape his chest. He wonders why the world has moved on, and yet his father still stays happily in his dream of a perfect traditional family, where his wife is loving and a great domestic helper, his sons successful with well-earning careers and married with kids.

“I’m doing okay.” He pauses. “Is there nothing else to talk about other than my grades?”

He bites back a remark on how he can choose to do whichever study he prefers, and flop as badly as he likes, because he doesn’t take a single cent from his parents for his education.

He holds it back because he knows the argument doesn’t stand, knows that even if he hadn’t taken any of their money, he’s still somehow indebted to them, out of sheer upbringing. It would spark a whole fight on how Kihyun would never be the 24-year-old he is today if not for his father’s hard work or his mother’s loving care.

Kihyun could pay off every last dollar they’d used to bring him up, and still had to listen to this argument over and over again. He resigns himself to Fate. It is what it is.

So his father relents, thankfully, but launches into a whole discussion on their next door neighbour’s son yet again, talks about his achievements, the twenty scholastic medals he’s attained, his bright future in the field of law.

Kihyun hears him, but he doesn’t listen, and when he’s more or less done with the rice in his bowl, he interrupts his father in the middle of his praises for someone else’s son, and excuses himself from the dinner table.

He hears his parents sharing hushed whispers behind his back as he closes the door to his old bedroom, and he blocks them out for good.

Plopping himself on his bed, he wonders what Minhyuk is doing. He left with the atmosphere slightly sour, and while Minhyuk had been spot-on about everything Kihyun struggles with, it’s still not easy to come to terms with them.

They wouldn’t have manifested into actual personality traits if they were easy to resolve, anyhow.

His thoughts travel, mindlessly thinking about Minhyuk and Hyungwon’s relationship, how easy they fell into place and into each other’s spaces. He wonders if he’ll really find that person for him, and he doesn’t understand why his mind goes straight to Hyunwoo.

He scowls. He hates thinking about him. Thinking about Hyunwoo makes his mind go fuzzy, like white noise hazing over his brain.

His brain unkindly starts to supply him with scenes of their shared memories, memories of Hyunwoo pushing a mountain of frozen food into his trolley, memories of Hyunwoo staring at him as he spins around in his tailor-made suit, memories of Hyunwoo nodding in agreement when Kihyun picks out a particularly nice pair of shoes.

Kihyun feels the ends of his lips pull up from the memories of Hyunwoo, feeling a slight heat glowing under the apples of his cheeks, and just as he’s about to move on to the memory of Hyunwoo pressing him against a wall, Kihyun feels the overpowering gush of past rejection.

The fond times are quickly muffled and drowned by the wave of pain, and Kihyun wills himself not to cry, again. It’s the least he can do. Blinking back his tears, he shoots a quick message to Minhyuk as a distraction.

To: Minhyuk
I’m sorry for being an ass
You were right
All of it was right
Don’t hate me, please.

The reply comes almost immediately.

From: Minhyuk
Kihyunnie
I could never hate you ):
I just want you to be happy
I’m sorry for being so harsh
You’re allowed to do what you like
I’m not perfect either, why should I be allowed to list out your problems and lecture you on them?

Kihyun gulps.

To: Minhyuk
But you know yourself
We all have issues but at least you’re aware of your issues
And I always choose to ignore mine
You’re right it’s not healthy
Can you help me try to change?

He smiles as he reads Minhyuk’s message.

From: Minhyuk
Why is that even a question? ):<
You know I’d wade the deepest waters for you Ki

To: Minhyuk
You can’t swim

From: Minhyuk
I know
Only goes to show my absolute devotion to you, right?

To: Minhyuk
You’re a freak

From: Minhyuk
You love me!!

Kihyun laughs.

To: Minhyuk
That, I do
I love you Minhyuk
Thank you for being my best friend

From: Minhyuk
Best friends don’t say thank you to each other
But I’ll gladly take the I love you
Hope your parents are bearable

Kihyun grimaces.

To: Minhyuk
They are… terrible
But I’ll survive
But this trip home will be my quota for the next two years

From: Minhyuk
You’re always exaggerating

To: Minhyuk
They’ve just started telling me about our neighbour’s kid who’s studying at Harvard
Has a fully paid for scholarship and all that stuff
Like, why do I care??

From: Minhyuk
That really does sound terrible

To: Minhyuk
It is the worst
But you know what’s interesting

From: Minhyuk
The boy’s hot?

To: Minhyuk
:) Very

From: Minhyuk
You think he’s gay?

To: Minhyuk
Looks like a full cub to me
My gaydar picked him up
Talked to him for a bit when I went to take out the rubbish

From: Minhyuk
Kihyun… please tell me you’re not going to fuck him in your Dad’s Catholic household

To: Minhyuk
:-------)
I sometimes wonder if you really can read my mind

From: Minhyuk
It’s so inappropriate

To: Minhyuk
It’s the biggest Fuck You I can offer him right now
Will you be a good friend and support my decision
If he catches us red-handed
I will be disowned
And will probably throw another pity party
So your take on this is important

From: Minhyuk
I say go forth and catch the cub
And cross your fingers that he’s a good fuck

To: Minhyuk
Already on it ;)

That night, Kihyun invites the Harvard kid from next door that he doesn’t remember the name of, and when the young, apparently intelligent guy presses Kihyun’s face into the mattress of his childhood bedroom, Kihyun wonders what his father would say if he knew Kihyun’s ass was being fucked into oblivion by his neighbour’s son’s hard Harvard cock, engaging in such nasty acts under his same roof.

As he muffles his moans with the back of his hand, he wonders how else he can spite his father, and then his thoughts of petty revenge are flushed down as he orgasms with the help of the cub’s warm, big hands.

He tries not to remind himself of Hyunwoo. It’s the least he can do.

*****

Hyunwoo doesn’t know where he’s going. The streets are unfamiliar, as is with a large foreign country, and he hadn’t really intended to just cruise in his car.

It’s the first time he’s venturing outside of his stuffy apartment with a housekeeper who (fortunately) speaks Korean, and the neighbourhood filled with so many Koreans that it felt more like Seoul than New York.

He supposes his associate in New York had intended for him to feel more at ease in the presence of people who speak his language, but Hyunwoo hadn’t escaped the country only to be closed in by the same people.

The ride is long, the radio off, and Hyunwoo has no particular destination in mind. He has no place to be at this time, and he lets his mind run.

Hoseok had demanded a video call in the afternoon and explained that Changkyun had spoke to (or in his words, questioned) him about Kihyun. While Hyunwoo has been trying his very best to bury himself in the stacks of paperwork and discussions on their merger, the name doesn’t fail to strike a dull ache in his chest.

“It wasn’t right.”

Hyunwoo had gulped. “What wasn’t?”

“I shouldn’t have told you to go away just like that. You should have stayed. If you were to have snipped it off clean, you should have done it in person. I shouldn’t have told you to go to New York and run away like that. You’re not a coward. You shouldn’t be seen as one.”

Hyunwoo sniffed. Hoseok looked apologetic on the screen, like he’s just kicked a puppy by the side of the road accidentally because he wasn’t seeing where he was going.

“But I am a coward. I chose this because I didn’t want to deal with him. Didn’t want to deal with inevitable tears, didn’t want to come up with excuses to terminate the contract to cover up for the fact that I want a future with him that he doesn’t want.”

Hyunwoo was bewildered. He’d thought that was the end of a conversation and a relationship he never wants to bring up again, so why was Hoseok talking about it as if every mention of Kihyun doesn’t send an arrow through his heart?

“But I swayed you into that direction, and even as you doubted yourself, I kept convincing you that it was the right thing to do. Hyunwoo, I really shouldn’t have.”

The man cleared his throat, accepted Hoseok’s guilt-tripping tendencies for a while more before speaking up. “I’m not a child, Hoseok. I don’t do things because you tell me to.”

Hoseok looked almost embarrassed. “But that’s what I’m doing with you. I’m treating you like you’re a kid, like you’re breakable, like you aren’t some grown ass man who can make his own decisions.When you came to me for advice, I should have told you to be brave and step out of your comfort zone, and go ahead to pursue the happiness you deserve. When you asked me if you were doing the right thing, I shouldn’t have told you that New York was definitely the better choice, and suggested for you to follow your heart instead.”

Hyunwoo wanted to stop him right there, but Hoseok seemed to have had a speech prepared.

“I know you can do whatever you wish to and I’m only here as spiritual support. But I can’t help but think that I’ve been nothing but a poor protector of your heart over the past few years, convincing you that being comfortable and safe was more important than being happy.”

Hoseok has always been a bit of an emotional character, so it didn’t surprise Hyunwoo at all to see the mild wetness in his eyes.

Hyunwoo had no reply to that. He wouldn’t deny that Hoseok’s words over the years had been like music soothing to the ears, the one man he could trust to tell him that he should stay on the safe side instead of going for what seems like a straight dive into the shallow pool, where Hyunwoo would hurt himself, and fall into yet another round of wallowing.

And for Hoseok to come back to tell him that it wasn’t the right thing to do, echoing Changkyun’s thoughts, only Changkyun hadn’t explicitly expressed his dissatisfaction with the older man, felt like a punch to the gut.

So Hyunwoo was sacrificing his happiness for safety, and the person who shared his beliefs turned out to have found his own advice unacceptable? Where does that leave Hyunwoo, then?

His mind runs at full power as he steps on the accelerator, letting the wind rush through his dishevelled hair, wheezing past him in a trance. As he continues to consider Hoseok’s point, he suddenly realises that Kihyun is no longer here anyway, so why should any of it matter?

The vacancy in his heart grows bit by bit, expanding so wide that it almost consumes Hyunwoo entirely. He finds himself left behind as a husk of a man, who only had emptiness to brag of in the absence of the boy he’d loved and adored but refused to fight for, all because of his cowardice and fear.

And Hyunwoo can repeat the mantra of self-blame multiple times, yet the ending of his and Kihyun’s story is set in stone, and no amount of repetition would help erase it from the foundations of what they once were.

*****

“Hey, Kihyun hyung. Can I ask you a question?” Jooheon is sprawled over Kihyun’s bed like a star, the boy looking over his shoulder from where he’s seated at his desk, poring over his essay that’s due in two days.

“Shoot.”

The room is spick and span, way more tidy than Jooheon’s ever seen it, and the sight brings an influx of worry. Which is why he’s currently in Kihyun’s room, bothering him as he tries to finish his work.

Jooheon pauses. “It’s just an example, okay? Hypothetically speaking.”

Kihyun frowns, but returns to the sea of words in front of him. “I’m listening.”

He can almost hear Jooheon’s heart hammering loudly against his chest, but he doesn’t comment on it. Jooheon seems to think his question over again, and Kihyun clicks his tongue in frustration. “We don’t have forever.”

“Okay, sorry. I was just thinking, if Hyunwoo hyung, uh--” Jooheon doesn’t miss the way Kihyun’s body stiffens at the mention of the man. It’s been about almost a month and a half now, but it’s still a touchy subject. Kihyun’s told both him and Minhyuk that he’s over it now, but it’s not very convincing at all.

“What about him?”

“If Hyunwoo hyung had, you know, told you something along the lines of… I don’t know, that he liked you a lot, and he wants to see you as more than a sugar baby. What would have been your response?”

Kihyun stills, processes the entire question, and drops his pen on his writing pad. He blinks a couple of times, and turns around in his swivel chair. Jooheon is sitting up now, picking at his fingernails as Kihyun stares at him.

“What.”

“It’s just a question.”

“It’s a silly question.” Kihyun frowns, doesn’t understand the small ball of fire in him. Jooheon should stop spouting nonsense like this. It makes Kihyun imagine things that will never happen, and create speculations for Hyunwoo’s sudden change in attitude again.

He’s spent enough time making guesses about Hyunwoo and why the man had done a complete 180, and guesses are ultimately what they are -- speculations, without any speckle of truth in them, and until Hyunwoo is there to confirm their statements, they are but words thrown carelessly in the air.

“I know. But it’s just… a what if. A big what if. Just answer the question?”

Jooheon puts on a pleading look, and no one can really resist Jooheon when he turns on his puppy eyes. He exhales, assignment entirely left aside.

Minhyuk told him to be honest. He wasn’t doing anyone any favours by lying to himself, or to Jooheon.

“I liked him. Maybe a lot more than I thought I would. Or should. I did, anyway. But a relationship?” He stares blankly at Jooheon, who’s gauging his reaction.

He thinks about it for another long moment, before shaking his head decisively. “Probably not.”

Jooheon’s eyes are wide. “No?” Kihyun shakes his head again. “Why? I thought you liked him?”

Kihyun blinks, twirls his pen between his fingers skilfully, staring mindlessly at the floor, at the legs of his bed, then on his duvets, but nowhere near Jooheon.

“It’s not just about how much you like someone, I guess. I wasn’t -- and still am not -- in the position to develop proper relationships. It was…”

Jooheon hikes up a brow. “Your commitment issues?”

Kihyun narrows his eyes. “Minhyuk told you?”

Jooheon rolls his eyes to the back of his skull. “I don’t need Minhyuk hyung to tell me that you struggle with establishing healthy relationships with human beings. I can see it for myself, thank you very much.”

And maybe Kihyun is more readable than he’d ever imagined.

He sighs. “My commitment issues,” he agrees. “I’m trying to work on them now, but it’s not easy. It’s even more difficult when you cannot find someone to want to commit to.”

“I just --” he finds trouble voicing his thoughts on this, even if he’s the most eloquent person that he knows after Minhyuk. “I just don’t know if being boyfriends with Hyunwoo,” he grimaces at the word choice, and Jooheon tsks at him, “is going to be as good as I’d like it to be. Sure he’s pleasant. He treats me well. Is just the right amount of possessiveness and freedom. I like being around him a lot. But it’s very different once I start building expectations. When we start putting labels on people, we start to request that they behave a certain way that satisfies us. And I don’t know if I’m ready for that. To make such requests, but also to fulfill them. It just sounds like a lot of work, Joo.”

Jooheon takes another long look at Kihyun, and he looks like he has something to say. But as he catches sight of Kihyun staring vacantly at the carpeted ground, he relents, and falls on his back on Kihyun’s bed.

“Well, it was just hypothetical, anyway.”

Kihyun jolts himself out of his trance, and affords a small chuckle. “Hah. Yeah.”

And that’s the last of Hyunwoo he’ll allow himself to think of today, though he’s already bent the rules about five times during the day, but no one needs to know that.

After all, thoughts of Hyunwoo only spark a cycle of hatred, followed by intense rejection, and then an uncontrollable urge to cry.

Kihyun could do without that, and most importantly, without his friends’ knowledge that he maybe still keeps a small piece of Hyunwoo in his heart, unwilling to let go.

Chapter Text

Kihyun whines sharply as Jon presses his palm into the curve of his back, his short, quick thrusts sending him into overdrive.

His lips apart, threads of saliva run down his chin and onto Jon’s silky duvets as the boy clambers for more purchase. Jon’s cock runs deep, and Kihyun moans to the rhythm of his hips snapping, walls pulsing around the cock in him.

“Fuck.”

“You feel amazing, baby.”

Kihyun can barely open his eyes, lust screening over them as a thin film. The words sends sparks through his system, and he would tell Jon to keep going, only the man starts to hit a spot that makes his legs go soft, and he opens his mouth in a muted scream.

“I got it, baby?”

He nods, his cheek rubbing against the sheets desperately. “Fuck, Daddy. It’s so good. Please.”

“Yeah, sweetie? Right there? Daddy’s big cock filling you up just fine?”

Kihyun whimpers again as Jon continues to attack his prostate, making him see stars, his entire body almost going limp. He ruts against Jon’s cock, eager for more, feels his well-lubricated hole take in all of Jon, his walls tight and warm around him.

“It’s so good, Daddy. More.”

A sharp sting as Jon’s palm meets his left ass cheek. “Manners, sweetheart.”

Kihyun cries, his toes curling up in overstimulation. “Please, Daddy!”

He hears him chuckle, feels his laughter run shivers through his wrecked body, and Jon puts his fingers in Kihyun’s hair, tugging on it gently as he pulls it back. Kihyun mewls, his chin tipped back, showing off a side profile so angular he could carve wood with it.

“You’re so pretty, darling. I want to break you into tiny pieces.”

Kihyun sobs into the mattress, his fingers curling into the bedsheet. “I want it, Daddy. Destroy me.”

There is a sharp gasp. Kihyun grins, happy that he’s managed to elicit such a satisfactory response. The pull on his hair intensifies, and he beams so hard his face hurts.

Jon reacts with his actions instead of his words, and he buckles his hips at an insane rate, spearing it and out easily of Kihyun’s twitching hole, hitting right for the prostate with every thrust.

Kihyun shouts, whines leaving his swollen lips as he allows himself to be completely ruined, like he’s pulled out all of his little bolts and pieces without wanting to fit them back in again.

He comes undone, unfurling all his frustration and yearning for release in thick squirts, panting heavily as Jon cants his hips hypnotically, rutting into Kihyun at his last lap before his cum paints his walls a blinding white.

*****

“Hey.” Kihyun walks into the apartment, pressing his lips together at the sight of Hyungwon draped over Minhyuk casually, and steps out of his shoes.

“Hey, Ki. Wanna join us?” Minhyuk chimes out, and he can hear him mumbling about something with Hyungwon. Kihyun narrows his eyes and sets his eyes on a coffee table filled with fried chicken and pizza.

“Is the invitation for dinner, or for this,” he gestures lightly to the strange alloy that is a mix of Hyungwon in Minhyuk’s lap, arms around his whole frame, hanging loosely over the boy, “sitting in each other’s laps thing?” The muscles in Kihyun’s cheeks tighten as he makes a face, staring condescendingly at Hyungwon, who seems to ignore him almost entirely.

Minhyuk rolls his eyes. “For dinner.” He raises a brow. “But if you’d like to sit in my lap, the other half is available.”

He thinks he sees Hyungwon jabbing Minhyuk in the ribs, a soft whine under his breath. He’s not willing to share. Kihyun laughs, and bends down a little to look at Hyungwon. He flicks him in the forehead softly. “Don’t worry, I’m not here to steal your boyfriend.”

He straightens up and looks Minhyuk in the eyes. “I think I’ll give dinner a miss. I’m tired.” He rolls the tense muscles in his shoulders, as if to make his point, and Minhyuk chuckles. “Jon working you too hard?”

Kihyun smirks. “You could say that.”

Minhyuk smiles. “So. Jon. What do you think of him?”

Kihyun accepts the question easily. He and Minhyuk have discussed this in detail -- if Minhyuk were to help Kihyun be more honest with himself, he’s going to learn to answer his questions with as little thought as possible. It’s the only way he can make sure that his responses come from the most natural of reactions.

“He’s nice. Treats me well. Buys me things. I’m getting better at this gifting thing. If they want to offer me presents, I shouldn’t say no.”

Minhyuk blinks. “That’s nice and all, but what do you think of him?”

Kihyun sighs, feeling a little sorry for what he’s about to say. “He’s really kind and nice, but he can be a little… clingy.”

“You wouldn’t --”

“I don’t see this contract going past a year, no.”

Kihyun knows what his question is, the same question he’s posed to Kihyun during a brief summer fling with one of his coursemates. The guy had been so serious about Kihyun too, but Minhyuk is slowly understanding that it’s not so much that Kihyun is being elusive about his own feelings again as much as them not being the right people. He nods.

“I hope you’ve gave him enough notice.”

Kihyun waves a nonchalant arm. “I’ve left a few implicit statements here and there, dropped a couple of hints. He’s not a stupid man. He knows what’s up.” Kihyun fiddles with the strap of his duffel bag before he speaks again. “And that day I saw him back on Bizdads looking at some newcomers, so I’d say that’s plenty of notice on my end.”

Minhyuk’s face falls, and he scrambles to stand, making Hyungwon almost fall flat on his face as he rushes to Kihyun’s side. “Oh. Ki.”

Kihyun frowns. “What? I’m fine.”

Minhyuk looks at him, stern. “We talked about this.”

The boy sighs. “Okay, look, I’m not happy about it, and it does prick me a little to know that he’s looking at other options already, but I’m not planning to take this any further or longer than is required, so really, I’m fine.”

“He’s not spoken to you about it?”

Kihyun smiles, a little tight. “That’s hardly fair, considering I’m the one who’s thinking about leaving first.”

Minhyuk’s lips quirk a little. “I guess you’re right.”

“I always am,” Kihyun replies lightly, and when Minhyuk elbows him playfully all with a hateful Hyungwon glaring at them from the sidelines, Kihyun laughs. Maybe he isn’t truly happy yet, but this is as good as it comes.

*****

Jon is a billionaire, a man worth five times as much as Hyunwoo, and bound to some degree of secrecy. Kihyun doesn’t forget the NDA Jon’s secretary had made him sign even before their first meeting.

The veil of mystery had been intriguing, to say the least, and Kihyun was always a sucker for the enigmatic. His promise of discretion was closely monitored, and while he didn’t appreciate being looked over by a bunch of Jon’s subordinates, he had liked the man enough to sleep with him on their first date.

It continued for a bit as friends, as people who had met each other online, until Jon expressed his wishes to sign a contract with Kihyun for his services. Kihyun couldn’t find any possible reason to say no.

Hyungwon had been compliant, as he had always been, and agreed to draft up a contract for him. He was concerned for Kihyun in his position as Kihyun’s new friend, but both Minhyuk and Kihyun assured him that he knew what he was doing.

Hyungwon voices worries about Jon being Hyunwoo’s substitute, and Kihyun denies the possibility vehemently.

They were very different people. Jon, for one, could never afford to bring Kihyun to any of his fancy dress parties. He lived a very separate and vastly different life outside of his time with Kihyun, and Kihyun never complained. Their nights of lust and lewdness was all Jon had requested, and Kihyun was happy to comply. It lacked a certain affection, and when they met, it always ended with them in bed, rounds after rounds of Kihyun being bent over surfaces, fucked so hard his head spun for hours.

His relationship with Hyunwoo was so drastically dissimilar that he found difficulty finding any area of likeness, save for the fact that they were both his sugar daddies.

Sure, Jon lingered, soothed Kihyun back from his headspace, ordered luxurious dinners to his mansion, touched him inappropriately as Kihyun watched a movie on his mega wide TV in the entertainment room.

But the soft kisses, the small pinches, the gentle gazes -- those were things that were exclusively Hyunwoo, and Jon couldn’t be his substitute even if he tried.

But the lack of those things wasn’t necessarily bad.

This was a good kind of different. A different that wasn’t confusing and didn’t blur the lines, a different that sorted out their relationship for what they were, nothing more, nothing less.

It reminded Kihyun more clearly of their boundaries, the huge canyon that separated them, and the fact that having their needs satisfied was the first and only priority in the agreement.

Kihyun could live with that. If it meant less confusion, less heart-racing moments, less sudden fractions of time where he wants to make out until he passes out, he was okay with it. All he needed to do was spread his legs, right?

Kihyun could float that boat, but it didn’t mean he was looking to stay on that raft forever.

*****

Kihyun graduates in a few months’ time. If he graduates.

He stares longingly at his final thesis and heaves a sigh. Fucking finally. Four years of slogging away at words and songs and scripts and he’s finally left with this.

This and a musical that he’s taking on the main role for, but that isn’t until three weeks later, and he feels more ready for that than handing in this ten thousand-word essay.

As he reads through his paper on the analysis of Grease and its societal meaning, he can’t help but remember that this is Hyunwoo’s favourite musical. Granted the man didn’t care an awful lot about musicals, except that he needed to, because socialites preferred to talk about arts and culture, and found value only in commentary on operas, ballets and plays put on by esteemed troupes and academies.

Hyunwoo had to know about them, yet his favourite musical was one that was a little raunchy, a little vulgar and raw, something that was entirely not the taste of high-classed folks who preferred to watch women in tutus prance around than a genuine musical about self-exploration with rock and roll scores.

And Kihyun thinks that’s so Hyunwoo, a man who knew his likes from his dislikes, a man who didn’t desperately try to fit in, and paved a path for himself and made choices that may not have seemed correct to others, but he still went with them unapologetically.

He flips through the paper again, his eyes scanning but not reading the words, and his thoughts land back on Hyunwoo. He was just so… special.

Kihyun doesn’t mean to say that because he’s his first sugar daddy, but perhaps that has forced upon him a pair of tinted glasses whether or not he agrees.

How long has it been -- six months? Kihyun remembers being hesitant on going back onto Bizdads even though Minhyuk had encouraged him to, not so much as a distraction, but more so a reminder that there were plenty of fish out there in the sea, and Kihyun was desirable to a whopping few hundred more.

Maybe he’d told him that in an attempt to convince him that it wasn’t his fault, and he wasn’t less attractive or interesting just because Hyunwoo had left. Regardless the reason, Kihyun had taken his advice, if only to shut him up properly.

That’s where he found Jon. And really, he does thoroughly enjoy the man’s company, enjoys how he lavishes him with gifts, showers him with compliments, think he’s beautiful and lovely and wants to always be in contact with him.

Perhaps Hyunwoo had set a bar so high that Kihyun feels a bit of a gap from where he and Jon stand.

But he knows this is the correct course of action, the course of action he and Hyunwoo should have taken before it all went terribly wrong.

Kihyun sighs as he thumbs at the edge of the pages, his mind still in a slight fuzz. Thoughts of Hyunwoo still do that to him, makes him a little dizzy, drives him a little blank. He wonders if there will ever come a day where memories of Hyunwoo will cease to do that.

Then he wonders if he wants a day like that to ever arrive.

*****

Hyungwon is perched on the armrest of their sofa like a feline, staring dazedly at his phone. Kihyun eyes him for a brief moment before picking up an apple from the dining table, and Hyungwon glances at him slightly before returning to his phone.

“Where’s Minhyuk?” he asks, and Hyungwon doesn’t bother to even look up from his screen.

“Getting us food.”

“Any for me?” Kihyun asks, biting off a large chunk of the apple, and Hyungwon shrugs. “You can ring him, I guess.” He pauses. “I thought you were going to Jon’s.”

“I am,” Kihyun says, in between his chews. “I’m also hungry.”

Hyungwon leans back and his thumb scrolls the screen some more. “We have some takeaway food left over from yesterday, if you’re interested.”

Kihyun scrunches up his nose. “Nah. I think I’ll go to Jon’s and get his housekeeper to make me something.” Hyungwon makes a face. “Privileged ass,” he mutters under his breath, and Kihyun laughs.

He and Hyungwon have gotten a lot closer over the months, and while he doesn’t offer cuddles like Minhyuk does, or pander to Kihyun to spend Movie Nights together like Jooheon does, Kihyun knows Hyungwon looks out for him in his own way.

The black-haired boy walks over to the sofa and plops himself on the seat casually. Hyungwon continues reading something on his phone, and Kihyun is bored. He has another half an hour before Jon’s chauffeur comes to get him, and Hyungwon is being extremely unentertaining.

“What are you reading?”

Hyungwon sniffs, rubs his nose with the back of his hand. “Just the news.”

Kihyun catches sight of a headline about Justin Bieber, and guffaws. “You mean the entertainment news.”

Hyungwon clicks his tongue. “News is news.”

Kihyun looks over his shoulder for a bit, reads about some idol group’s controversy over some stuff they’ve said, a few more snippets of some celebrity’s new boyfriend, and then the next headline jumps out at him and almost eats him whole.

Multimillionaire Bachelor Son Hyunwoo with New Lover on His Arm

Hyungwon reacts a little by clearing his throat, and Kihyun wonders if Hyungwon had detected how his body stiffened, how his whole frame just seemed to shrivel into himself.

The taller boy scrolls away from the article quickly, and Kihyun shakes his head, reaching out a finger only to drag it back up. “Let’s read it.” Almost like he had a point to prove, almost like he wanted to justify something, even though no one has pointed fingers.

“Kihyun --”

The boy just bites off another mouthful off the apple and stares at Hyungwon, whose long bangs are beginning to cover his eyes. He sniffs.

“Let’s.”

“You don’t have to prove anything to me. I know you’re over him. We all know you’re over him.” Hyungwon is quick to say, but Kihyun has already made up his mind, and convincing him otherwise is futile.

“No, if you believe I have gotten over him, why are you not letting me read it? Let’s read it,” Kihyun replies, chewing on his apple, and Hyungwon gives him a long stare, almost like he’s asking him if he’s sure. Kihyun sighs.

“Hyungwon --”

“Okay, let’s. I don’t care if you’re affected anyway, why do I care?” He sounds huffy, but Kihyun knows it’s mostly indignance at his words of concern not being taken seriously.

The page opens up to a picture, and Hyunwoo looks… good. Good is an understatement. He looks gorgeous, the same way Kihyun had remembered him to be, his hair slicked back, revealing his forehead, his small eyes curved into crescents as the lover in question has his arm hooked on his left.

They look fitting. The other man has around him an air of poise and elegance, quite different from Kihyun’s ratty sneakers and shabby hoodies, like he’s been in the possession of class and wealth for a long time.

Kihyun scans the article, though the picture speaks for itself. They aren’t looking each other in the face, seeing as they’re looking into the camera lens. Kihyun wonders what it’ll be like if he were in his place, arms hooked with Hyunwoo. Then he remembers that he was, mere months ago, only he hadn’t chosen to linger.

“The guy has a horse face,” Hyungwon comments lightly, and Kihyun should feel amused, but instead there is only a large warm force washing up his chest, and he glances briefly at Hyungwon. It’s not like the law student to criticise anyone for their looks.

“You don’t have to try to make me feel better.”

He can almost see Hyungwon’s eyelid twitching. “Who said so? Like I said, I don’t care if you’re affected, why do I care?”

Kihyun lets out a soft exhale amidst a laugh, and shakes his head. He looks back at the screen. “He’s handsome.”

Hyungwon mutters a hesitant eh that Kihyun can’t help but laugh at again, and while both he and Hyungwon are not the kind to engage in mushy words, he hopes Hyungwon knows just how much he appreciates the small gesture.

Hyungwon clears his throat again as he navigates away from the page. “So, uh, you should probably get ready, shouldn’t you?”

Kihyun blinks, and then reads the time on his watch. “Oh shit, you’re right. I’m gonna go change into something.”

“Have fun,” Hyungwon says as he waves an arm towards Kihyun’s back. The black-haired boy hums in approval and walks back to his room, closing the door behind him.

Now that he’s alone and only has his own feelings to grapple with, he’s starting to feel the full impact of the news.

They looked… lovely. Almost like they were made for each other. Hyunwoo’s new lover was tall and handsome. Had a tall nose. Sure he had a bit of a long face (damn it, Hyungwon), but it matched with his overall look very well.

He was no Kihyun. He wasn’t short, didn’t have a terrible sense of fashion, didn’t look like he was freaking out at the number of camera flashes in his face. He was different, in the sense that made him look like he was the right kind of people around Hyunwoo, the kind Hyunwoo would associate himself with on a daily basis.

A person who truly belonged in Hyunwoo’s world.

And he didn’t know why that bothered him so much. Hyunwoo is moving on, and Kihyun is too, right?

He can only hope desperately that the answer to his own question is a loud and ringing yes, because anything less than that only helps fuel the little niggling voice in his head, reminding him that Hyunwoo is a shadow he can never shake himself off of.

*****

“Hyung. Fourth one in six months. You trying to break a world record here or something?” Changkyun is speaking to Hyunwoo through a screen, and the CEO shrugs nonchalantly.

“And why does this bother you so much, Changkyun?” He looks like he’s a little annoyed, but he’s really mostly amused. Changkyun does that to him, and he can never truly be angry with the boy. Call it a personal skill, or something.

“It’s a lot of paperwork,” Changkyun states plainly, and Hyunwoo laughs.

“And for a moment I thought you were concerned about my emotional wellbeing.”

Changkyun’s left eye twitches. “Well, and that. You know what I --”

Hyunwoo chuckles. “Yeah, I do. I’m just teasing.”

Changkyun sighs, and looks down at the paperwork in his hands, flips through a few pages of the contract that he’s been sent a few hours ago. They’re discussing the addition of a few clauses for this particular sugar baby who appears to have very specific requests.

And really, Changkyun is totally fine with acceding to people’s requests, but when he has to skim through approximately seventy pages of legal bullshit and go through this arduous process every month and a half, it’s hardly reasonable for Hyunwoo to expect him to be okay with it.

“No, but seriously, hyung, is everything okay?”

Hyunwoo looks up from his copy of the contract and into the camera. He’s been in America for months now, the branch operating rather smoothly, and his return to Korea was to occur within the next six months.

Hyunwoo insists that there is more he needs to settle in New York, but Changkyun suspects he’s trying desperately to evade being back in Korea, where memories of a certain boy are the strongest.

Changkyun stares back at the man on the screen and comes to a sudden realisation that Hyunwoo has aged. Maybe a little more than usual. He can tell the grey hairs on his sideburns, and he would assume it to be because of stress, but something tells him it’s more than just that.

“Why would anything be not okay? It’s all breezy.”

Changkyun huffs. “This isn’t like you, hyung.”

Hyunwoo seems to look away from the camera for a brief moment, but he regains his composure. “What isn’t?”

“This whole,” he makes a circle with his hand, unsure as to how to phrase this all properly, “temporary thing. With your sugar babies. You never went through them so quickly.”

Hyunwoo laughs, but there is no mirth in his eyes. “You’re forgetting the definition of sugar babies, Changkyun.”

He scowls. “I’m not. I would know, because I was one, but you’ve never seen them as disposable. Sure, some may not have been up your alley, but most of them, if not all, you spent time with them to know them a little better to decide if they were who you liked. Now you’re just getting in and out of contracts because you can. Because you want something new all the time, and because you can’t stand the thought of being without someone?”

Hyunwoo inhales. He’s never been obvious with his anger, but Changkyun thinks he sees it in a split second. “So are you being my psychotherapist now?”

Changkyun sighs. “For fuck’s sake,” he mumbles under his breath, then he looks back up at Hyunwoo on the screen. “I’m not. I’m not trying to police your thoughts or your actions, but I can’t help but feel like you’re looking for something, hyung. You keep trying to fill up a space with different people, trying to find the right one. That or you keep changing partners, almost like you’re trying to prove something. To who? To me? To yourself?”

Then a whisper. “To Kihyun?”

And then the fury detonates, and Changkyun can barely look out for himself.

“Kihyun?” He holds in the wince that strains his features when he mentions the boy. “I don’t have anything to answer to him.”

“Sure doesn’t seem to be the case when you’re doing that downward spiral thing Hoseok hyung said you experienced with Jae.”

Hyunwoo grits his teeth. He’s had to sit through various arguments and lectures from Changkyun, all of them logical and valid, which is why he’s allowed the boy to override all formalities posed by seniority and social hierarchies, but he’s stabbing where it hurts the most, and Hyunwoo can only fend for himself with a smouldering blaze.

“So you and Hoseok gossip behind my back and think you guys are so fucking good, don’t you? You think I’m pathetic, don’t you? Both of you?”

And Changkyun was never one to cover it all up with a fire blanket, and he decides that if things were going to blow, he might as well go with it with a bang.

“Stop making this about me and Hoseok hyung. We care about you, which is why we talk about you behind your back. We’re concerned. Will you please take the stick out of your ass and realise that you’re becoming a different person?”

Changkyun can still see the remnants of his anger collecting in his eyes, so he swallows and sighs. “Look. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have yelled. You’re still my hyung, and you deserve respect. I went out of line. I’m sorry. But I just --”

A grimace on his face. “I care about you. You have such a big, warm heart. You treat people so genuinely. You always show kindness and generosity, and with every sugar baby you had, while it was a major struggle for you, you never failed to love each and every single one of them.”

He blinks, and he thinks he sees Hyunwoo looking down at his paperwork instead of at Changkyun. That’s okay. Changkyun just really needed to get this off his chest.

“And now it’s just different. You treat them like commodity, which was the idea you never supported. You never saw them as goods, only people.” He exhales. “What happened?”

Hyunwoo takes in a deep breath. There is silence for a good two minutes before he speaks up. “What’s so bad about being different?” His voice is quivering, and Changkyun chews on his lower lip.

“If being different means that I get hurt less, is that so wrong?” He’s frowning, and Changkyun probably hadn’t understood the full impact of Kihyun’s absence in Hyunwoo’s life.

He probably hadn’t comprehended exactly how much self restraint and control Hyunwoo had to govern over himself to keep himself from overstepping the boundaries with every sugar baby.

And the idea that Hyunwoo had to be a person that wasn’t himself just to make sure that he didn’t hurt anymore brought a javelin through Changkyun’s chest, and he feels tears welling up in his eyes.

“Hyung…”

“I don’t want sympathy. I told Kihyun this, and I’m telling you this now. I just --” He gulps, thumbing through the papers in his hands. “I just want to learn how to cope. I fell in love with Kihyun because I was who I was. So maybe if I’m no longer who I am, I’ll learn how to fall out of love with him.”

*****

Kihyun’s graduating. Finally. After four years of McDonald’s shifts, long nights of studying and the Redbull Incident, he’s finally graduated.

While his future career prospects left much to be desired, and he spent an average of four hours a day freaking out over his career options, Kihyun is glad that he no longer has to deal with essays and incompetent groupmates.

But as he looks around his campus and his classmates who have wide grins on their faces, he thinks he’ll come to miss it weeks down the road. For now, he’s glad to escape this hellhole and gain some independence.

Jon has sent him a bouquet of roses. In there is a handwritten card expressing his congratulations and how proud he is of Kihyun, and the boy smiles subconsciously at his words. He’s always been a sucker for compliments, and Jon had always been generous with them.

But obviously the man couldn’t be seen in public with Kihyun, and his graduation ceremony had seen the appearance of his flatmates, Hyungwon, and his parents, who had found the time to travel to the big city.

He loves them, he really does, and when he sees the tears welling in his mother’s eyes, he hopes he’s made them proud. His father even clapped a hand on his back, and while Kihyun hadn’t graduated with first class honours, he thinks his father is at least glad that he can boast to his friends about his two sons who have graduated from university.

After all, Kihyun often feels like he exists in his father’s world only as another medal he wears around his neck, showing off proudly to his friends who may or may not care at all.

When asked about the sender of the flowers, Minhyuk had grinned and claimed that he was the one who had arranged for it, and Kihyun had never been more thankful for his best friend and his ability to rescue him in the nick of time.

It was hilarious how they all found a facade to wear around his parents, how Hyungwon acted like Minhyuk’s club president and close friend, or how Minhyuk pretended like he was the one who had sent Kihyun flowers.

He has one of those rash thoughts of coming out to his parents dressed in his graduation gown, but decides against a day filled with immense drama and tension. He’ll drag it out for as long as he’s allowed to.

And really, graduating is such a special occasion, and everyone seems to be so happy for him, but Kihyun finds an emptiness in him.

He tries not to recall Hyunwoo’s promise of bringing him on an overseas trip for a couple of days to celebrate his graduation.

He looks at the red roses and convinces himself that Korea can just be as good, and that there was no need to travel. Only he’s had dreams of that promise being kept for way too long, and now that those dreams are dashed, it feels like there’s a void waiting to be filled.

He could ask Jon to bring him on a trip, and he’s sure Jon would be more than happy to comply with his whims, engage in a few completely hectic nights of debauchery in some hotel overlooking the most beautiful of scenes.

He doesn’t doubt that his sugar daddy would satisfy him of every request he proposes, but he daringly imagines the scene playing before of him, and shudders as he shakes it out of his system.

It sits uncomfortably with him, only he can’t place a finger on what exactly is wrong.

(He suspects it’s the people in the scene that are mismatched, but he can’t tell for sure.)

So today he accepts the congratulations from people who he’d known for a lifetime but felt like strangers, and others he’d known for years only for them to feel like family.

He basks in the glory of his achievements, and wills himself to not think of broken promises.

*****

“Hey.”

Hyunwoo has the right edge of his lips turned up, and pulls Changkyun in for a hug. “Hey, kiddo. You doing okay?”

Changkyun rolls his eyes. “We literally Skyped two days ago.”

“And I’m not allowed to say that I miss you?” Hyunwoo asks, and Changkyun sneers as he makes a face, but anyone can tell that he likes it, and he answers his question anyway.

“I’m doing okay. Tired. How was your flight?”

“Unbearable. First class is now being taken up by some really inconsiderate folks. There was a ruckus somewhere that kept me up for a bit.”

Changkyun chuckles. “Maybe you should consider taking out a private plane then.”

Hyunwoo raises his brows. “Maybe I should.”

Changkyun rolls his eyes. “I was just joking. You don’t travel enough for it to be a sound investment.”

Hyunwoo shrugs. “Then perhaps I will start travelling more once I have my own plane.”

The secretary laughs. “You just like the sound of owning a plane, don’t you, you showy, over-the-top millionaire.”

Hyunwoo snickers. “Why be a millionaire at all if you can’t afford to be a little conspicuous with your wealth?”

Changkyun shakes his head. “I will never understand rich people.”

Hyunwoo just laughs and throws his arm over Changkyun’s shoulder, the younger boy sulking as they exit the airport. They’ve just sat in Hyunwoo’s limousine and Changkyun is already rattling on about Hyunwoo’s schedule tomorrow. The older man chuckles as he places a hand on Changkyun’s knee.

“Relax. I just got off a fifteen-hour flight. We have plenty of time to discuss which Mr Kim I’ll be seeing tomorrow.”

Changkyun is ready with a rebuttal, but he senses the fatigue in Hyunwoo and lets it go, relaxing into himself and easing himself into the seat.

They exchange only silence for a few moments before Hyunwoo picks up the conversation. “The, uh, sugar baby. Ethan?”

Changkyun whips his head to the side to look at Hyunwoo. “Yeah?” Ethan is his most recent soon-to-be addition, the sugar baby with an impossible number of requests, and they’ve been in constant discussions on how better to make both parties in the agreement happy.

“What about him?”

“I’ve spoken to him a few nights ago. Told him that I’m sorry, and that I have to call off the arrangement.” Hyunwoo is staring at his hands, and Changkyun wonders if he really is 31. He looks more like a teen when he gets all nervous talking about things like that.

“Oh,” is Changkyun’s only reply. “Why?” He stares at Hyunwoo’s hands kneading together, and wonder why it feels like he’s older than Hyunwoo and trying to get him to go onto the correct path.

“You’re right? I guess? I should stop trying to fill the space that Kihyun used to be in with different people. And I guess Hoseok talked to me as well? If I ever want to have a shot at a healthy relationship then I need to stop running away from my own feelings.”

Changkyun gulps. “You seem like you’re experiencing some kind of epiphany.”

Hyunwoo spits out a chuckle that seems hardly humourous. “No thanks to you. I’ve had a lot to think. I thought I was done dealing with all of this emotional turmoil after Jae, and then you come along and try to set me straight, and I have to do it all over again.”

Changkyun smiles, albeit a little bitter. “Just because you managed to devise a coping mechanism after Jae didn’t mean it’s the best one in the long run.”

Hyunwoo presses his lips together in a tight smile. “And I suppose you’re right again.”

There is more silence, though this time there appears to be a very big question hanging between the both of them, and Changkyun doesn’t know if it’s in his place to ask.

Fortunately for him, Hyunwoo brings it up himself.

“Do you know where he is?”

Changkyun inhales. “Be specific, hyung.”

He can feel the way every muscle in Hyunwoo tightens against the leather seats. “Kihyun.” He mutters the name in an exhale, like a breath of relief, like he’s glad he’s gathered enough courage to speak of him again.

Changkyun sniffs, rubs his nose with the back of his hand. “I may or may not keep tabs on his life.”

“That sounds exactly like something you would do,” Hyunwoo teases, and Changkyun tries his best to keep the scowl off his face.

“Well, you’re thankful that I am who I am, because you’d be having a hard time tracking him down otherwise.”

The secretary pulls out his phone and jabs at the screen a couple of times, and there is a ding from Hyunwoo’s phone. “I’ve just sent you his most recent updates and the place where he currently works, including a very vague schedule of his work days.”

Hyunwoo blinks a couple of times. “So… you stalk him.”

The boy rolls his eyes. “There’s only so much you call stalking when everyone posts everything on social media. They’re all time stamped, and it really doesn’t take much to just draw a table and figure out when he works, where he works, and occasionally what else he does in his free time.” He takes a brief look in Hyunwoo’s direction. “Though I don’t suppose you’d know how it works.”

Hyunwoo reaches out an arm and hits on Changkyun’s skull lightly with his knuckles. “I’m just older than you by about a decade, but I’m not a dinosaur. I know how technology works, thank you.”

Changkyun sticks out a tongue. “Yeah? How is it that I know the password to your Twitter account when you don’t?”

*****

The thing with him and Jon is meeting its definite end. He’s had to sit through a lengthy conversation with Jon about moving on, Jon constantly reassuring him that it’s not his fault, but that maybe they should consider having some time apart.

Kihyun had chuckled and told Jon that they weren’t in a romantic relationship and time apart was a tool invented by partners as an attempt to salvage relationships.

He and Jon didn’t need that, and he made that clear. There was a bit of a prick when Jon let out a sigh of relief at Kihyun’s words. He’d handled the boy so carefully, trying not to hurt his feelings, and when Kihyun told him what he wanted to hear, he wore a smile so bright he couldn’t get it out of his head.

So they kissed, for a last time, and fucked, for the last time too, before Kihyun bade him farewell, and promised him that he’d have Hyungwon arrange the termination papers.

Jon says he hopes they’ll remain friends, and that he’ll see him around, but Kihyun already knows of the other sugar baby Jon is looking to sign with, and wonders if that will indeed be true.

But he agrees, anyway, because formalities are important, and he doesn’t want things to turn ugly, so he kisses him once more on the cheek before leaving Jon’s mansion for good.

He doesn’t know why the boulder on his shoulders that he didn’t even know was there is lifted off him as well.

That being said, adult life without a sugar daddy is anything but a breeze.

Kihyun has trouble with finding a full-time career in anything that vaguely interests him, but he does snag a part time job as a vocal trainer in a music academy, where he teaches young children how to vocalise.

It’s a pretty good place to start accumulating experience, and he does kind of adore kids. He works at a coffee shop as a barista in his other time, because he has to make ends meet, and because he’s always had a bit of a dream of being a barista, one of those silly ones in his childhood where he dreams of making people their coffee instead of being, say, an astronaut.

He doesn’t try to find another sugar daddy, despite Minhyuk’s constant urging. Hyungwon had to physically pry him off Kihyun so that he wouldn’t bother him.

Kihyun knows where Minhyuk is coming from -- having a sugar daddy had provided so much financial comfort and security that it made Kihyun relax around everyone, and perhaps Minhyuk misunderstood that as happiness for Kihyun.

There was only one occasion where it was, in fact, happiness. But that didn’t stay, and Kihyun doesn’t spare much thought for it nowadays.

Now that he’s a graduate and has all this time on his hands to pave a future for himself, he wants to learn how to do the things he loves and enjoys, and makes sure that all his time is spent wisely.

Today is one of those days he doesn’t have classes, so he goes for a morning shift at the cafe, where he’s partnered up with Youngjae at the counter. He likes Youngjae. The boy is oftentimes a ball of sunshine and talks endlessly (a little like Minhyuk) when he isn’t on the dipping end of his emotional pendulum, and today seems to be one of his good days.

Kihyun’s glad.

When the bell by the door chimes at the notification of a customer, Kihyun welcomes the new day with a large smile.

*****

He looks better than the beautiful being he’d remembered him as.

The light hits on him on all the right angles (or maybe it’s because he never has a bad angle) and his skin shines through with a glow, his nifty fingers pressing buttons on the cash register.

Hyunwoo is hiding furtively behind the wall near the cafe in an attempt to see the boy. He has on him a cap and casual clothing and tries not to look like he has ulterior motives by constantly lingering behind a concrete wall.

He stays, and observes.

God, has Hyunwoo missed him. He’s missed the way the dimples at the ends of his cheeks dent in when he smiles, or how his eyes curve into pretty crescents, and just how breathtaking he is as a person.

His breath hitches in his throat. He wishes there was some other way to dial down Kihyun’s perfection in his brain, but now that he sees him in person, all he does is live up to the flawless image he’s drawn of him.

He’s never known of Kihyun as a perfect person. He has his idiosyncrasies, sure, and sometimes his pride can get in the way. But Hyunwoo had chosen to expand his heart and embrace all of him, flaw or not, and it’s difficult to see him in any way other than beautiful.

And at the sight of Kihyun, he remembers all the times they’ve shared, the good, the bad, the stressful, the soothing. And regardless of what nature they were of, Hyunwoo enjoyed every single one of them. The reminiscing jots back fond emotions, but also a constant reminder that Hyunwoo was the one who had single-handedly ruined it for himself. He sighs.

There’s a constant smile on Kihyun’s face (though Hyunwoo supposes it’s only because he’s in a customer service role, and anything less than a beam is hardly acceptable) that Hyunwoo finds himself mirroring.

But there’s something different about him, outside of the fact that he now has his forehead showing, that he now wears coloured contact lenses, that his hair is striking silver. It’s how his eyes seem to dim in its brightness, the starry-eyed boy seemingly disappeared.

Hyunwoo is not a narcissist. He doesn’t want to believe that he’s the reason behind the lack of life in what used to be sparkling eyes, but it’s the one thing that stands out that strikes a painful slash in Hyunwoo’s chest, and he frowns.

He stays for another few minutes or so, just contented at looking at Kihyun from afar, wondering if he’ll one day find the courage to speak to him, and what his reaction would be.

He wouldn’t put it past Kihyun to pour a cup of scalding coffee over his head, though on second thought, maybe Hyunwoo deserves it.

Just as he’s about to leave, a lady stops him in his tracks, holding a clipboard in her hands, and pushes the glasses higher up the bridge of her nose. “Hi Sir, do you have some time to spare?”

She’s loud, is the first thing Hyunwoo realises, and her booming voice seems to spread across the whole plaza, attracting a few head turns. Hyunwoo shakes his head hurriedly. “No, sorry, I have somewhere to be.”

He probably wouldn’t mind entertaining her for a bit in a normal situation, but he’s going incognito at the moment, and the less attention from people around him, the better.

“It won’t take you a second!” She seems desperate to retain his attention, and her voice hikes up a couple of decibels. Hyunwoo tries to cover his face.

“No, it’s okay, really, I’m in a rush --”

“Sir, I just wanted to talk to you about this product we have that will help make household chores a lot easier. Do you have a family, Sir?”

Alright, so Hyunwoo normally doesn’t have a temper, but right now he’s extremely tempted to yell at the lady to get the hell out of his face so that he can run away from the crime scene as quickly as possible.

Their exchange (or in this case, her monologue as he keeps fending away her advances) has attracted quite a few gazes, and by how several customers in the cafe have also turned their heads around, he knows he’s done for.

Fuck.

The commotion seems to have spread all the way to the counter, and Youngjae turns around from where he was working on a drink order to look over to where all the noise is coming from.

There is a man in a cap who is physically shying himself away from what seems to be a very aggressive sales promoter, and he clicks his tongue, mildly amused. Kihyun is at the cash register, busy serving a man who has trouble making up his mind.

“Hey Kihyun. Look at that.” He nudges his colleague in the ribs and points at the distance. Kihyun’s ears pick up on the lady’s loud and piercing voice, and his eyes travel to where Youngjae is pointing.

Kihyun’s eyes are searching, and his eyes widen when they land on the familiar frame. He may be dressed casually in an attempt to hide himself, but he’d remember that build, that height, that whole aura of Son Hyunwoo till the day he dies.

He feels his entire body turn rigid, and he swallows a large gulp of saliva. He had not expected to see him ever again, especially not here of all places, at his workplace, under the watchful eye of his colleague who has no clue of his history with said man.

His mind scrambles to find a logical solution to all of this.  

Hyunwoo is still busy rejecting the promoter’s advances -- always too polite, that man -- consistent responses of ‘no, thank you’. She doesn’t take a hint, and he sighs tiredly, his gaze wandering, wandering.

They meet. Hyunwoo finds Kihyun’s eyes trained on him, a crumple between his brows, and his own eyes widen in alarm. “Holy sh--”

Kihyun seems to lip read just fine, and his lips pull into a tight line at the sight of Hyunwoo trying to deal with the persistent lady all while flailing his arms in surprise.

He returns to the man by the counter with a forced smile and takes his order slowly, trying his best to not avert his gaze from the customer. It’s proving difficult, because it’s Hyunwoo, and while Kihyun fools most people, Minhyuk included, it’s hard to deny that he’s missed him.

A little too much, actually.

Hyunwoo is still Hyunwoo, suave yet goofy, his sideburns turning a light shade of ash, exposing how the years have caught up with him.

Kihyun fumbles with the sharpie in his hand as he writes the customer’s name with a tremor, and he gulps. Saliva is harsh against his throat on the way down, and he puts the cup on the counter with a shaking hand.

“Hey. You alright?” Youngjae asks, tilting his head to the side, and Kihyun has never been more glad to be on a shift with him.

“Um, I -- I don’t know.” Kihyun’s honest, and Youngjae’s eyelids flutter in confusion. “Do you mind taking over the register for a while? I’ll make the coffee.”

Youngjae’s eyes light up at the suggestion and he grins. “Yeah, sure! I’ll be more than happy to.”

So they swap places, and Kihyun picks up the empty cup he’d just left on the counter a few seconds ago, preparing the heinous concoction of a double espresso soy mocha with two shots of hazelnut and whipped cream.

He tries his best to concentrate on the sounds from the grinding machine, and measures a cup of syrup with much more accuracy than is actually required.

He says that, but he still hears the ring of the bell by the door, signifying a new customer, and he begs desperately under his breath that it won’t be the person he has in mind.

As the universe would have it, Kihyun’s wishes never come true. He hears the familiar voice, and all the muscles in his back tense up.

“An Iced Americano, please.”

“Sure, Sir. And your name for me?”

A pause that seems to last forever, and then a breath of what can only be relief.

“Hyunwoo. Son Hyunwoo.”

Chapter Text

The air brings with it a breeze. Kihyun is looking at the people walking by the cafe, mostly with specific destinations in mind, others looking intently at their phones. He detects the green leaves and wonders if cherry blossoms will be in season soon.

He turns back to his table, the man he’d never imagine to turn up again in his life sitting right across him, also staring blankly at the flow of people strolling past them.

“Was America good to you?” Kihyun’s voice is gentle, small, and Hyunwoo reins himself in, reminds himself that they are no longer who they were before, and Hyunwoo is not allowed to coddle Kihyun the way he used to.

(But Hyunwoo’s brain works in the strangest ways possible, so of course he does remember Kihyun’s voice waking him up, Kihyun’s singing voice when he practises for his school performances, Kihyun’s moaning voice when Hyunwoo presses him into a pillow.)

Hyunwoo attempts composure. Attempt is a good word. He is sipping on the Iced Americano Kihyun has made, and tries very hard to not reminisce the days where Kihyun prepares his morning coffees, inviting in a new day by littering tiny kisses on his skin to wake him up.

Kihyun’s fingers are wrapped around a hot drink, and he holds it up near his face, breathing in the warmth from the cup. He looks lovely. Pretty. Beautiful. Kihyun is still all the words Hyunwoo had used to describe him back in the day, but intensified.

His silver fringe falls and covers his eyes, and Hyunwoo is tempted to reach out to push it away. Kihyun seems unbothered, just blowing on his drink some more.

“It was okay. English is difficult,” Hyunwoo comments, and Kihyun nods, his expression unreadable. Conversation isn’t easy.

It’s no longer the smooth flow of exchange, mostly on Kihyun’s end as he rambles something about school, and Hyunwoo reacts accordingly, oftentimes with just a soft stroke on his arm.

No words. That had been okay before. Now Hyunwoo struggles to find words to fill the void that separates them both.

“You? You doing alright? I heard you graduated. Congrats.” Hyunwoo looks up at the boy, who is staring rather intently at his long black. He lifts his head a little, but his gaze is at Hyunwoo’s edge of the table. “Hah, yeah. Thought I’d never finish. Looks like I did.”

Hyunwoo doesn’t know if it’s still in his place to say what he’s about to say, but he does, anyway. It’s always been a Hyunwoo thing to ignore conventional behaviour. “Yeah. I’m glad.” A short pause. “I’m proud of you.”

Hyunwoo says it, and then regrets it almost immediately. Proud of him? That is such an incredibly snobbish thing to say to someone he had had the gall to abandon more than a year ago. Kihyun didn’t graduate to earn his affirmation. Hyunwoo wallows a little too deep into his thoughts, and wishes he can take back what he’s just said.

If Kihyun minded, he didn’t comment on it. He just hums and nods again, and goes back to poring over his caffeinated drink.

Hyunwoo clears his throat and mutters a ‘right’ under his breath, but he doesn’t elaborate. He doesn’t know what he’d set out to do when he requested Kihyun to join him for a coffee over his break. As it seems, they’re just wasting each other’s time.

Yet with that being said, Hyunwoo feels his chest squeezing. It’s not an unfamiliar sensation -- he’s experienced it a great deal when he and Kihyun still had the contract between them -- but just like Kihyun’s beauty, it seems to only have intensified over the past year.

His mind allows a fleeting thought: if Jae had appeared before him today, would he fall for him again, harder this time?

The fringe seems to finally get to Kihyun, so he puts his fingers through his hair and pushes it away from his forehead, pursing his lips as he sips on his coffee quietly. Hyunwoo feels his world crumbling when Kihyun raises his eyes slowly and looks back at him.

He feels his breathing die in his throat, along with all his silly thoughts about meeting Jae again. He thinks he couldn’t describe any of Jae’s distinct features now even if his life depended on it.

All he remembers now is silver hair, dimples, straight teeth, and a tiny mole above the lips. The image is imprinted on the insides of his eyelids, and searing into his skin so tight he’d have dreams of it.

And the image moves, talks, and blinks, and Hyunwoo is snapped out of his trance.

“You okay?”

Hyunwoo gulps. “Yeah.” Wondering if it’s too out of line, but decides to say it anyway. “You’re just as beautiful as I remembered you to be, if not more.”

Kihyun makes a small yelping sound that Hyunwoo assumes is welcoming, and his eyes are blown wide in surprise. Then the comfortable glow of his blush travels from his neck and onto his cheeks, and Hyunwoo wonders if he’ll ever escape the trap that is Yoo Kihyun. Utterly and completely smitten, Changkyun had phrased it as, and Hyunwoo can only dumbly admit that it’s true.

Kihyun splutters. “How -- how are you saying things like that with a straight face.”

Hyunwoo hikes up a brow. “Would you rather I pull a face saying it?”

The boy puts his drink down and starts flailing his arms. “N-no. That’s not what I -- ugh. You know what. Forget it.”

Hyunwoo holds his gaze for a few more seconds, just enough for Kihyun to squirm and look away, and he smiles. “You know, I’ve missed this.”

Kihyun swallows. He looks at him cautiously, his eyes narrowing. “What do you mean?”

“Just us. Banter. Talking. Me looking at you being all flustered. It’s all very nice.” He picks up his drink and sucks on the straw slowly, and Kihyun turns a darker shade of red. Hyunwoo chuckles, and Kihyun stills.

The laugh elicits a sort of yearning he didn’t know he possessed, like an alarm that awakened his most closeted longing for Hyunwoo, at the thought of Hyunwoo being amused by his silly behaviour and laughing when Kihyun acts like a child to fish for compliments.

He frowns. It seemed so unlikely that he had all of this buried in him for the past year. He’s gotten over Hyunwoo.

Right?

He chews on the insides of his cheeks and sniffs. Hyunwoo senses a sudden change in the atmosphere and frowns. He blinks a few more times and when he sees how Kihyun’s frame has turned rigid, he sighs. “Shall we have the talk now?”

Kihyun looks at him, then away. “What talk?”

“The overdue one that I’ve owed you for a year.” Hyunwoo crosses his fingers together and rests his hands on the table. Kihyun collects his apparent pining for Hyunwoo and the dozen questions he’s posed himself, and stuffs them into a small box at the back of his mind.

“It’s been a year. Surely it must mean nothing now.” He sits back up straight, and really, he’s not the one who had ran off without a goodbye, so he puffs up his chest and tips his chin upwards.

“No, I owe you an apology.” Hyunwoo frowns, and he looks at Kihyun briefly, then back at his knuckles. “I’m sorry I left without a word. I shouldn’t have. I was… confused.”

Kihyun blinks. “Confused?”

Hyunwoo inhales deeply. This is it. This is the time he gets to be honest with his feelings, and he really doesn’t want to mess this up. Changkyun and Hoseok have told him to be real. To just let Kihyun know what he really thinks, and at the end of it if it isn’t what Kihyun wants, he’ll just have to accept it and move on.

Really, it’s just so simple. He just needs to tell Kihyun that he likes him, and perhaps a little more than what they’ve agreed on as business partners, more than acquaintances, more than friends. He’s just confessing -- fuck, he’s confessing.

The last time he did that he had his heart trampled into pieces. But he supposes that since it’s already in pieces, there’s not much that could break it up any further, is there?

So he braces himself for the laugh that Kihyun will spit in his face, and tells himself again and again that this is his way of finding closure. That none of this needs to mean anything to Kihyun, and that’s okay. That’s fine. That’s his choice.

Just because Hyunwoo is an idiot who chose to fall in love with his sugar baby didn’t mean Kihyun needed to reciprocate those feelings.

He just wants a fullstop to what they were, because the sign on the contract wasn’t enough, not for him, at least, and he wants to know what the answer is, because then he’ll learn to move on, and hopefully has grown wiser to not repeat his mistakes.

“I, uh.”

There is cold sweat breaking on his forehead, and Kihyun is looking at him expectantly. Fuck. He’s just so good-looking, so lovely, so perfect for him. Everything he does, down to his breathing, makes Hyunwoo’s toes curl.

He’ll never tire of seeing Kihyun’s face light up, or the way his lips curl upwards and make way for his teeth as he grins. Listen to Kihyun sing, see him wave his arms dramatically as he rehearses for a play. See his eyes sparkle with excitement at a gift Hyunwoo had bought him, drink in the rosy blush that travels all the way to his ears, and spreads across his whole body when Hyunwoo teases him in bed.

Kihyun is growing impatient, and Hyunwoo can tell from the way he’s tapping his fingers against his cup. He’s also… nervous? He’s biting on his lower lip, and Hyunwoo is split between wanting to wedge his lip out from between his teeth, and actually saying what he wants to say.

“I, uh.” He blinks. A couple of times. He doesn’t know how many times. Seven. So maybe he had counted how many times.

“I --”

Kihyun exhales. “My break is ending in five,” he states, clearly less amused as time goes by, and Hyunwoo steadies himself, before looking right back at Kihyun.

“I like you.”

Silence. He cannot read the emotions that are surfacing on Kihyun’s face, but he thinks it’s more confusion than anything else. The boy raises a brow.

“O...kay?”

“I like you. As in. I like you. A lot.”

Kihyun frowns. “Okay, Hyunwoo. So did I. We slept together a fair bit. Safe to say you didn’t irk the sight of me.”

He crumples his face together in an unattractive way. “No. I meant. I liked you. I like you. Still do.”

His expression evens out a little. Hesitation, then, “oh.”

Hyunwoo holds onto the sides of his chair, grounding himself one way or another. “Like?” He breathes, like he’s contemplating his word choice. Breathes in. Out. Blinks a few more times. Three times, to be exact.

“Like?” he repeats. Then, like a realisation, like a form of enlightenment, he looks at Kihyun, gaze gnawing into his soul. In a whisper.

“Love.”

He hears the breath Kihyun takes in, and the way he holds it, his whole body inflated and stiff from the impact of his reaction, and he stares at Hyunwoo. Stares at the way Hyunwoo looks at him like he’s the most precious thing, stares at the sincerity flowing from his ways, stares at how completely wretched he is, his heart in shards, and yet he still has the strongest desire to protect Kihyun from the world.

And really, he remembers Hyunwoo telling him that he has loved all his sugar babies, and that he wouldn’t for a moment shortchange them on how he feels about them. But something about how Hyunwoo says it now sets off something like an ache in him.

Somehow, he knows Hyunwoo is talking like Kihyun is different from all his other sugar babies, and how the love he speaks of exceeds the kind he’s mentioned before.

Perhaps it is the echoing of Hyunwoo’s confession in his own chest, some degree of recognition of that scattered emotion he’s allowed himself to have, finally gathering it together and putting a finger and a pretty label sticker on it.

Kihyun’s breath is stuck in his chest, and he pushes it out with much effort. It comes out as a tumble, along with some stutters. His heart hammers violently against his ribcage, its pounding echoing in his ears. His brain rattles uneasily in his skull, and his vision blurs.

“Shit. Kihyun. Are you crying?”

Kihyun regains his composure, and dabs at his eyes. They are wet. Strange.

“No.” Stubborn. A distinct trait he has to offer, and Hyunwoo doesn’t fight it, just picks up the napkin lying on the table and passes it to him. Kihyun takes it and almost scratches his eyeball out from how hard he’s wiping his eyes.

Hyunwoo licks his lips. He‘s never seen Kihyun cry before, only heard him through a heartwrenching phone call. “Was that too overwhelming? Sorry.”

He knows it’s horrible, but Kihyun looks beautiful even when he cries. Large teardrops gathering in his eyes, showing off a glisten like no other.

Kihyun frowns, then shakes his head. “Yeah. Kind of. It’s not every day you have someone tell you that they loved you.”

Hyunwoo knows Kihyun is not looking at him, because he’s staring at his shoes, but he corrects him quickly on the next beat. “Love.”

“Sorry?”

“I meant love. Present tense.” He presses his lips together, and when Kihyun looks back at him with mildly vacant eyes, he rubs at the back of his neck.

“Ah. I’m sorry. It’s all just -- it’s too much, isn’t it?”

Kihyun isn’t one to sugarcoat things. “It is a little much, yeah,” he says after a few seconds of thinking about it, and Hyunwoo nods.

“Understandable. Look, uh, do you have to go back to work?”

Kihyun looks at his wristwatch. Hyunwoo doesn’t comment on how it’s the watch he’d bought Kihyun on one of their shopping trips during their first month of the contract.

“Preferably.” Hyunwoo can tell that the news is still unsettling to Kihyun, and he feels sorry. So he does the next thing he can think of, which is to reach out and place his large palm over Kihyun’s smaller hand.

The boy gasps, his fingers curling inwards at the contact, and Hyunwoo almost pulls his hand back in. But other than the initial surprise, Kihyun doesn’t seem to have intentions of moving, and Hyunwoo is still eyeing him carefully to make sure that it’s okay.

“I’m sorry I dumped this on you. And I know me… confessing isn’t a good enough excuse for what I did back then.” He daringly allows his hand to wrap over Kihyun’s, and screams internally when the boy stays put and doesn’t shrink his hand back.

Kihyun swallows visibly. “It’s okay. I just need… time. To digest.”

And Hyunwoo figures this lukewarm reaction is better than an outright rejection. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever get to hear an answer from Kihyun about his own feelings, but he’s managed to answer his own unasked question, and that’s good enough for him, for now.

“Okay.” As an afterthought. “Is it too much for me to want to see you after work?” Mindful Hyunwoo is back, constantly threading the fine line of his boundaries and wondering if he’s overstepping any of Kihyun’s comfort zones.

There’s something simmering in between them, be it the way Hyunwoo’s staring right into Kihyun, still in awe at how beautiful he is, or how Kihyun looks like he has something he’s dying to say, but won’t.

So he settles for a “it’s probably okay, I guess”, and tells Hyunwoo that he knocks off at three.

Hyunwoo says okay in the softest hush, and Kihyun feels his chest growing at how Hyunwoo looks at him, the gleam in his eyes, the curve of his lips as he smiles.

There is a warm, fuzzy feeling that stems from the lowest pits of his heart, and Kihyun returns to work with a promise to see Hyunwoo after his shift.

Kihyun messes up way too many customer orders for it to be acceptable, but his head is still spinning from the day’s events, his mind still reeling from Hyunwoo’s big reveal. Youngjae proves to be great help by not intruding on his privacy, keeping firm to a no-questions policy that Kihyun is thankful for.

And, he covers Kihyun’s ass when he screws up a mocha again, so he’s amazing that way.

Kihyun stares at his watch from time to time as his shift progresses, and wonders why he’s so looking forward to it ending.

Because while his heart often tells him many things, the one thing Kihyun finds trouble admitting to is the fact that not only had he missed Hyunwoo, but that he is looking forward to being in his company again very soon.

He spends the rest of the shift fantasising about large, familiar, bulky arms, and wishes for time to travel both quicker and slower.

*****

“Mr Yoo, Sir, it’s been so long.”

Kihyun smiles at the chauffeur. “Mr Lee.” He lets the middle-aged man open the door for him. “What have I always told you -- just call me Kihyun.”

Mr Lee shoots him a cheeky wink. “Ever the kind soul, Kihyun.”

Kihyun chuckles and eases himself into the back of Hyunwoo’s luxury sedan, tapping his feet on the base of the car uneasily. Hyunwoo is talking to Mr Lee about something, and then he ducks as he enters the vehicle, eyes darting to Kihyun.

There is a moment of silence, and then Hyunwoo plops himself in the seat next to Kihyun. He’s a little close, even though there’s plenty of space spread out around them. Kihyun doesn’t mind, gulps as he takes in the heady scent of Hyunwoo’s spicy and musky cologne. He feels himself drowning again.

“Hi.” Hyunwoo’s voice is breathy, and Kihyun doesn’t know why his insides turn. But he does offer a tiny smile as he says ‘hi’ back, and there is an immeasurable amount of joy dancing in the older man’s eyes.

Kihyun knows he’s caving in when Hyunwoo’s eyes curve into slits, and he has to hold back a whimper at the familiarity of it all. Hyunwoo is still in his casual clothes, something of a norm when they spent days just watching movies in Hyunwoo’s penthouse instead of going out.

Hyunwoo would just pad around his place in his gym gear as he finds Kihyun in all corners of his house, and then slotting himself easily into any space he’s left out for him. Sometimes the clothes come off, too.

Hyunwoo is sitting so close he can feel the warmth radiating off of him, and he basks in it. His phone vibrates, and he pulls it out to see a message from Minhyuk.

From: Minhyuk

have u ended work
do u think u could get me and hyungwon some dinner

He replies quickly.

To: Minhyuk

hey sorry
got some errands to run
if u guys can wait i’ll come back and make dinner?
idk when i’ll end tho ):

From: Minhyuk

bah ):
it’s ok then
we’ll sort smth out
what errand?
did that creepy dude come to the cafe again today?
asking u to go on a date with him?

To: Minhyuk

post office
and need some documents certified for that full time job
also thank god, no
but it would have been fine anyway
i was on with youngjae

From: Minhyuk

oh!
u right u wouldve been ok then
my man yoo youngjae has a whole spirit in him that isnt afraid to fight

To: Minhyuk

i wouldve fought my own battles >:/

From: Minhyuk

for someone as snarky and angry as u
you’d think so
instead u just keep saying sorry and ignoring him and not telling him off D:

To: Minhyuk

he’s a customer :/

From: Minhyuk

didn’t stop my man yoo youngjae!

Kihyun finds himself smiling at their exchange, and after shooting a quick text to tell Minhyuk that he’ll be back soon, he returns to whatever was going on between him and Hyunwoo. Which was, unsurprisingly, nothing at all.

Hyunwoo is just replying to some work emails on his phone, and when he realises that Kihyun is done with his device, he, too, stuffs his cell back into his pocket. They just sit there, wordlessly, just relishing each other’s presence after a long, long time.

“So…” Hyunwoo begins, and Kihyun looks at his own knees. He strums his fingertips along his thigh and exhales.

“So,” he repeats, and he can feel the tension emitting from Hyunwoo in waves. He’s nervous. About what? The car starts to move, and Kihyun doesn’t know where he’s going, where Hyunwoo’s bringing him.

And what unsettles him is the fact that he doesn’t really care, and that he has no sense of danger when he’s around Hyunwoo. The fact that he would trust Hyunwoo with his whole life upsets him for a split second, and then Hyunwoo shifts his whole torso to face Kihyun.

The boy inhales, and does the same, and they stay there for what seems to be ages, just staring at each other, gauging each other’s reactions, and wondering how they’ve found each other, split apart, only to find themselves back here again.

Hyunwoo swallows. Kihyun looks as his adam’s apple bobs up and down, and he plays with his fingers. Hyunwoo is still dashing, though he looks like he’s been through quite a bit, and Kihyun doesn’t know why the urge to burst into tears wells up in him again.

He pushes down the gush of water attempting to breach the walls, and he bites on his lower lip. He breathes, and Hyunwoo follows him quickly.

“Kihyun, I --”

Hyunwoo is promptly cut off when Kihyun lunges forward. He stretches his arms out only to fall directly into Hyunwoo’s lap, and he captures the man’s lips with his own, a part in him breaking ever so slightly while another part pieces itself back together. To say that Hyunwoo’s surprised is an understatement, his eyes wide from shock as he turns stiff.

Hyunwoo is still in a trance even as Kihyun whines lowly in his throat when he swipes his lips over Hyunwoo’s in desperation.

When Kihyun puts his stubby fingers through Hyunwoo’s dark brown hair, Hyunwoo realises where he is, what he’s doing, and almost with a cry of joy, he pulls his arms up in a swift motion to go around Kihyun, palms lying on his back.

He only drags him in closer, his own lips moving to form some concept of rhythm with Kihyun’s movements, holding him tight, his left hand coming to rest at the base of his neck, keeping him upright.

He kisses him like his life depended on it, like it was his last breath on Planet Earth and he wouldn’t want to waste it anywhere else other than against Kihyun’s lips.

When Kihyun makes a small humming sound, he presses tighter against Hyunwoo, and with the tip of his tongue, attempts to pry his lips apart. Hyunwoo relents easily, and they dance. They put on a splendid performance of dance and play, Kihyun’s tongue waltzing across the area as Hyunwoo steps up, giving where Kihyun takes, step back when Kihyun darts forward.

There is a dull twinge in his chest, and Hyunwoo grips onto Kihyun’s collar a little tighter, wanting to savour the sweet taste of a caramel macchiato on his tongue, yet wanting also for his feelings to come out in lyrical gushes of words he was never capable of.

He kisses him, gently, moulding his lips around Kihyun’s, just like the hundreds of times they’ve done before, only this time Hyunwoo feels his insides burning, eating him up alive, until he caves in, and is left with nothing but an empty husk.

Perhaps it was what he had felt when he had left Kihyun, -- bare and empty -- only this time he’s dug out all his parts and gave them to Kihyun to safeguard. He’d rather stay ignorant of Kihyun’s choice on whether or not to accept the mission.

But Hyunwoo only really understands the full impact of their split-up when he tastes salt on his tongue, and he pries open his eyes to see tears rolling down Kihyun’s cheeks, his eyes still closed, his expression relatively calm for someone who’s having his tongue down Hyunwoo’s throat.

Kihyun is trembling in his hold, and Hyunwoo has to physically peel himself away. Kihyun opens his eyes, and more moisture pours from the sides of his face. “Kihyun?” Hyunwoo’s voice is a whisper as he treads carefully.

The silver-haired boy takes a single look into his eyes, and suddenly his expression morphs into one of immense pain, and the taps start running. He starts blubbering in the midst of his apologies, wiping at his eyes with the back of his hands quickly, fingers quivering as he does.

Hyunwoo doesn’t know what to do, so he does the only thing he can -- he pulls Kihyun in so the boy buries his face in his chest, and Kihyun quakes under his hold, attempting to calm himself down as Hyunwoo hushes him, rocks him back and forth soothingly.

“I’m s-sorry.” It comes out in stutters, but he can’t stop his shaking, and Hyunwoo’s embrace feels so soft, so warm, so familiar. Kihyun lets his emotions pour out, drowns himself into Hyunwoo’s bulky arms, gets himself drunk on his musky, heady scent.

“There’s nothing to be sorry about. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Hyunwoo hugs him tighter, against his chest, against his heart, against every bit of pride he’s found, and everything he deems precious in the world. “I’m sorry. So many times, baby. I’m sorry. So, so, sorry.”

And Hyunwoo really is, truly, because he may be almost a decade older than Kihyun, but he could only dream to be half as brave as the boy. He had given in to his cowardice, his flight instinct in his fight-or-flight response.

And honestly, it should have been okay, but Hyunwoo had been selfish enough to not consider that Kihyun was only a victim in the poor execution of his plans, been the collateral damage in the battle between his heart and his mind.

He didn’t deserve this, yet here he is, breaking apart in Hyunwoo’s arms, relishing all that he had missed out on in the past year, solely because of Hyunwoo’s poor life choices.

Guilt gnaws at his flesh and refuses to let go, and Hyunwoo can only pay it back slowly by running his palms along Kihyun’s back, though the ability to touch the boy feels more like a reward than a payoff for his debts.

Hyunwoo rubs large circles and Kihyun sobs quietly in his hold, his body shaking and trembling, and he doesn’t know what else to say or do, just bends down slightly as he presses his lips against the shell of Kihyun’s ear, whispering his apologies over and over again.

“I’m so sorry.” Hyunwoo’s voice breaks on the last syllable and he knows it’s not weak to cry; he’s shown this side to Kihyun before, but he doesn’t think he deserves to, not when he’s the one who abandoned Kihyun in the first place.

But his world properly shatters when Kihyun looks up at him finally. His eyes are glistening with fresh tears and his nose is stuffed, small whimpers leaving his throat as Hyunwoo feels a large thwap across his face. He’s reminded of just how small Kihyun is, and how Hyunwoo had completely let him down.

He looks beautiful even when he cries. Hyunwoo didn’t know if it was possible for anyone to do that, but of course Kihyun does. With the gentlest of touches, he reaches out to cup Kihyun’s face in his right hand and kisses him.

Light. Feather-like. His lips barely come into contact with Kihyun’s, but he feels the intense buzz of electricity coursing through them. Tears are still rolling down Kihyun’s face, and Hyunwoo is still feeling out of place, but Kihyun is here, right here, in his arms, pliant, warm, and beautiful.

Kihyun pushes himself against Hyunwoo before pulling away, his eyes meeting the softest gaze, and he lets out a tiny whine before kissing Hyunwoo. Kisses Hyunwoo like he means it, like he had nothing to lose, like he was accepting his mission to cradle Hyunwoo’s poor heart in his hands.

He cries, and Hyunwoo tries his best to not follow, just lets Kihyun’s lips shape around his as he slides into movements that complement his. It is none of that aggression from before, none of that mind-rattling fervour.

Just two people kissing deeply, two people who had been so blind and slow to realise that they had been unwittingly in love with each other. They wouldn’t blame their transactional relationship, no, because it had been what prompted them to collide into each other in the first place.

But perhaps, if they’d met under more satisfactory conditions, maybe Hyunwoo walking into the McDonald’s Kihyun worked at and ordered a Big Mac all while flirting with the boy, their story would have been very much different.

But perhaps, in another universe where their affection for each other unfolded like that, Hyunwoo wouldn’t have had to deal with the pain of separation, or came to understand just how important Kihyun is to him. And Kihyun wouldn’t realise just how much he invested himself into Hyunwoo and his wellbeing, and why the termination of an employment contract brought him way more distress than is normal.

Hyunwoo holds Kihyun by the back of his neck and Kihyun loops his arms around Hyunwoo’s shoulder, pulling the older man in. Closer, closer, feel his skin against his, how his hairs stand on their ends and the sounds of his inhales and exhales.

They pull away, and Hyunwoo kisses Kihyun on the tip of his nose. The silver-haired boy lets out a shaky sigh, his eyes still closed. Hyunwoo kisses the mole above his lip. Kihyun isn’t shaking as much anymore, and Hyunwoo reaches out to wipe at his wet cheeks. He looks so ethereal, so lovely, and heartbreakingly stunning.

They don’t say a word. Kihyun opens his eyes and looks back at Hyunwoo, and he can see the desperation festered in him, pouring out from his gaze. Carding his fingers through his hair, he tugs at it gently, and smiles when Kihyun lets out a soft moan.

It happens silently but quickly. Hyunwoo latches his lips onto Kihyun’s neck and sucks in various spots, still remembering where Kihyun is the most sensitive, worrying his flesh between his teeth, and his lips pull up against the place where Kihyun sucks in a deep breath at.

Putting his large hands around Kihyun, he pushes his shirt up to sit just beneath his armpits, and his thumbs swipe over Kihyun’s dusty brown nipples, pressing them into the flesh as the boy writhes under his hold.

His silver hair is a swish of a coloured paintbrush as he arches his back, his head hanging backwards while Hyunwoo holds onto him, anchors him onto his own lap.

Letting his hands roam across his fair chest, Hyunwoo plays some more with his nipples as he licks at the blossoming bruises along his skin. Kihyun whimpers slowly, his breathing growing laboured, and Hyunwoo continues his ministrations, lets Kihyun’s voice create a melody that puts itself on repeat, ringing through his ears.

He pushes the shirt further up. Kihyun raises his arms for Hyunwoo to push the sleeves through, and the shirt is thrown onto the leather seat beside them. Kihyun glows from within, his cheeks a bright pink, the blush extending to his neck and his chest. Hyunwoo’s breath dies in his throat. He wonders what he’s done in his previous life to deserve this boy.

This absolutely breathtaking, bewitching boy that has him grovelling in the dirt if only just to savour his sweet taste on his tongue, flavours bursting through every seam that ties his flesh together, makes his fingertips burn with a radiating heat.

He kisses him gently on the lips again, and he can see Kihyun reeling from the sensation, so he just smiles and presses small circles in his hip.

“Kihyun.” His voice is low, growling, and it makes Kihyun’s toes curl. He loves it when Hyunwoo calls his name, almost like he finds his place on Earth only if Hyunwoo says it, like a word materialising into reality, keeping him rooted and grabbing hold of him as he’s about to float away.

“Hyunwoo.” He doesn’t cry, but he is close, and he sees Hyunwoo’s gaze breaking, the guilt eating him up alive, and he doesn’t want that. Not now. Now is not for apologies, now is only for making up for lost time.

He holds onto Hyunwoo’s shoulder and grips onto it tightly, and Hyunwoo stares back at him with impassioned eyes, like he had prepared a whole cheesy soliloquy on how Kihyun is the only thing to put him back together, about how he’s sorry about everything he’s done, about how absolutely alluring Kihyun is to him.

But instead of words, Hyunwoo speaks with his kisses, and his kisses pour his most frantic and arduous feelings into Kihyun, where the boy takes them all, and lets all of it drown him, fill him up, and overflow, spilling all over the car seats.

Hooking his fingers through the loops on Kihyun’s pants, Hyunwoo tugs, and Kihyun exhales breathily. His crotch sits directly atop Hyunwoo’s, and when the man bites into his neck once more, he cannot help but swivel his hips as he grinds into Hyunwoo’s lap, seeking for some degree of friction.

They do this for a few more moments, Kihyun’s breathing accelerating as he continues to dig his crotch into Hyunwoo, gulping as Hyunwoo sways his hips occasionally, feeding him the contact he so desires.

His gaze flickers up to Hyunwoo, and the boy looks through half-lidded eyes, his nipples perky and pink from Hyunwoo’s touch, and he can hardly hold himself back.

“Are you sure?”

Kihyun can’t hear Hyunwoo very well from how his heart is pounding, his blood thumping in his head, but he gulps and nods desperately, the only way he knows and is.

He lets Hyunwoo unbuckle his belt and undo his button. Placing his feet on the car floor unsteadily, he lets the man pull his pants and boxers down until they pool at his ankles. With a decisive fling, they sit on the other side of the car, next to the door.

Sensing his impatience, Hyunwoo grabs onto the hem of his own shirt and pulls it over his head, and when Kihyun is busy stepping out of his own pants, he, too, wriggles his way out of his suit pants and boxers, where he places them lightly beside him.

If Kihyun had an issue with how their clothes are scattered messily across the back of his car, he doesn’t mention it. Instead, he pounces forward and finds himself fitting into Hyunwoo’s lap yet again, the man’s hands now resting on the small of his back.

His skin tingles from the warmth of his fingers. They kiss, again, Kihyun now rubbing against Hyunwoo aggressively, soft moans leaving his lips as he grinds harder against his semi-erection.

When Kihyun kneels on the leather seats, Hyunwoo takes a nipple into his mouth, and smirks when Kihyun groans as Hyunwoo licks a long strip across.

Hyunwoo’s heart grows so full, and it continues to grow. He doesn’t know if there’ll come a time where it’ll expand so much it explodes, but right now, he places marks on every visible piece of skin on Kihyun, like a reminder for Kihyun, and for himself, that this is where they are now, a vital part of each other.

When Kihyun slots his tongue into Hyunwoo’s mouth yet again, the older man slides his hand down to rest on the curve of Kihyun’s ass. His index finger runs along the crack with the lightest of touches, and Kihyun gulps visibly.

Hyunwoo has never been more glad that the divider between the passenger and the driver seat exists, though Mr Lee has been sworn into a non-disclosure policy, and anything that happens in the back seats stay in the back seats.

Also, that he is not in favour of anyone else but himself looking at Kihyun’s beautiful ass.

He sucks tightly at Kihyun’s neck once more before reaching to one of the pockets in the front seats, and pulls out a packet of lube. Kihyun’s chest heaves.

“Do you just keep things like that in your car?” He says, and for a second the magic, the affection, the emotional outburst is broken, but when Hyunwoo chuckles, he realises that that, too, is one of the reasons that make his dynamic with Kihyun so incredibly special.

“You never know when you need some lube.” He shrugs, and when Kihyun’s wet teary eyes curve up into crescents, he thinks he has never seen a more magnificent sight. But as this had never began as a random hook-up session, he returns to pressing searing kisses against Kihyun’s flesh, the boy feeling it all within him as he’s reduced to a putty mess under Hyunwoo’s lips.

Tearing open the packaging, Hyunwoo lathers his fingers with lube, and when they ghost over Kihyun’s crack, he can feel the boy’s body stiffen. He looks up at him again, fiercely, and when Kihyun stares back at him with the most determined expression on his face, he exhales in relief.

His left thumb moving up to stroke Kihyun’s left nipple, Hyunwoo wedges his index finger between Kihyun’s ass crack, and he prods his entrance gently. He sucks in a deep breath when he feels the hole constricting weakly.

“Ugh, fuck.” He almost reminisces the velvety heat of Kihyun’s insides, and his breath hitches when he prepares to put a finger through. Kihyun’s eyes are glazed over by a sheen of lust and arousal, and when Hyunwoo pumps his erection with his left hand all while pushing through his index finger, his jaw falls slack, and he opens his mouth in a silent moan.

Hyunwoo holds very still, feels the way Kihyun’s walls contract and loosen around his appendage, and he swallows. His walls pulse tiredly around the short appendage, and at the way Kihyun brings himself down further onto his finger, Hyunwoo knows its his cue to push forward.

So he does, pushing through slowly as Kihyun moans, all the way till his finger sits entirely in his wet, warm heat.

With his middle finger, he places the blunt tip at his hole once more, pushing through a little to see if it would give. Kihyun makes a small whimper that seems to be grounded from his chest, but he does eventually loosen up, leaning forward to rest his forehead on Hyunwoo’s shoulder.

The older man continues to let his left hand run along Kihyun’s cock, pumping it once, twice, thrice, and his thumb swipes across the tip gently, precum coating his thumb generously. He pulls the foreskin away and rubs again, and Kihyun feels his touch coursing through him in spikes of electricity, his whole body arching as he mumbles for more.

Hyunwoo digs his fingernail into the long throbbing vein on the underside of his cock, and his right middle finger circles Kihyun’s perineum to stimulate him some more. The boy cries, his body shaking from the influx of sensations, and he trembles lightly.

Deciding against teasing him, Hyunwoo lets the tip of his finger sink into his hole shallowly, and when Kihyun lets out a breathy whine, the sound goes southwards immediately. He groans, resisting the urge to touch himself.

Kihyun’s walls pulse more violently now, squeezing Hyunwoo’s two fingers so tightly he has trouble pushing it in further. A grimace worn on Kihyun’s face, Hyunwoo takes it slow. He kisses Kihyun’s chin gently and nuzzles his nose in the crook of his neck, and Kihyun sighs.

Relaxing, Hyunwoo manages to bury two fingers completely into Kihyun, and he hears the way the boy breathes harshly against him.

The man pumps Kihyun a couple more times, revels in the way the silver-haired boy seems to jerk every time he swipes across the tip of his cock, and he sucks on his earlobe softly, his fingers in Kihyun moving slowly.

The boy grips onto him tightly, his fingernails puncturing the flesh in his biceps, and Hyunwoo has to bite down his request for Kihyun to be less rough. He doesn’t mind -- the harder he digs his nails into him, the more he’s feeling. It’s what he was going for.

Kihyun weakly pushes himself away from where he’s resting on Hyunwoo’s shoulder and exchanges glances with the older man again. The initial flame that he needed to put out has now evolved into a small smile on each other’s faces, a knowing one, one that makes Kihyun’s heart feel so warm and tight.

He’s always thought Hyunwoo was gentle during sex, but only now does he properly feel like maybe what they’re doing is making love. Romantic love, not the kind bounded by two signatures on a piece of paper. Proper love, where Kihyun sinks deeper onto Hyunwoo’s fingers, and Hyunwoo pumps his cock because they love each other.

It’s a bit of a foreign feeling to Kihyun -- after all, it has been so long since he’s gotten into a serious relationship where sex felt more like an emotional outpour instead of deriving nothing but sheer pleasure.

He didn’t remember it to feel so good. Somehow, other than the skilled way Hyunwoo touches him, other than how he knows all the ticks and tricks to arouse Kihyun, there is something else that makes this so much more special, makes his insides flip and turn in a good way.

The realisation of all of this, and mostly important of all, the fact that Hyunwoo is real, and here, and right before him, makes him want to break down into tears again. But Kihyun knows he’s spent enough tears crying over Hyunwoo during his absence, and then again when he appeared.

For now he wants to feel the man, wants to once again let him fill him up and get him intoxicated on every bit that is Son Hyunwoo, cripple him and render him helpless under his spell. So he swallows his tears and smiles, and lets himself go.

And letting himself go has never felt so good. He’s always harboured some degree of suspicion towards people -- it was just the way he was made, how he was overly cynical and didn’t trust people enough. But Hyunwoo had seen it all, his fences, his walls, tore them down partially, only to put them up again. And Kihyun has nothing to lose. Not in front of Hyunwoo.

When Hyunwoo puts in a third finger, he bends his wrist in an impossible way, almost snapping it as he tries desperately to find the spot that would make him feel good. Kihyun tilts his ass upwards a little more for better access, and when Hyunwoo’s efforts bear fruit, Kihyun finds his knees going weak as Hyunwoo presses against his swollen prostate, making him beg so desperately for more.

“Hyunwoo.” His voice sounds fractured when it leaves his lips, and his thighs are shaking so much, his vision blurring as he grips onto Hyunwoo tighter, letting the man violate his bundle of nerves repeatedly.

His jaw locks as he pushes himself further onto Hyunwoo’s fingers, and the man still has his other hand pumping Kihyun’s hard and leaking cock. He could come, right now, here, in Hyunwoo’s lap, but he raises his eyes to look at Hyunwoo weakly, and he can tell just how absolutely aroused Hyunwoo is, staring back at Kihyun’s red, bruised lips, his pink cheeks, his mussed up fringe, and how he looks completely fucked out.

“Let me ride you,” he says quietly, and he can hear a rumbling from Hyunwoo’s chest at his statement. “Let me feel you,” he whispers, leaning forward, his warm breath leaving goosebumps in its trail. “Feel your big cock fill me up so good, Daddy.”

Hyunwoo’s glint in his eyes turns dangerous almost immediately, and Kihyun knows better than anyone else on which buttons of his to press. Sure, he’s no longer his sugar daddy, and he no longer has an obligation to please, but the fact remains that Hyunwoo has the biggest daddy kink on Planet Earth, and who is Kihyun to deny him that?

“Fuck me so hard until I can only remember your handsome face, Daddy. Don’t you want to see Kihyunnie all fucked up?”

A growl. He presses his fingers harder against his prostate. “Yes. Yes, yes, yes, I want to see my pretty baby all fucked up. All red and sweaty and hungry for more. You want it, baby?”

Kihyun whines. “So much. So, so much, Daddy.”

“Did your naughty little mouth call anyone else Daddy when I was gone?”

Fear flashes past Kihyun’s eyes. Shit. He’s never told Hyunwoo about Jon. Surely this isn’t going to ruin the mood, is it? Hyunwoo seems to sense his panic, and fucks Kihyun with his finger shallowly. The boy is quickly brought of his reverie and dropped into a reverie of another kind.

“So, anyone else?”

Kihyun nods, anxious. “A few.”

Hyunwoo presses his lips together, relishes in the way Kihyun’s mouth falls open. “Well then I guess I better put you in your place so you remember whose baby you are. Sounds okay to you?”

Kihyun keens at his words. He mewls softly and nods. “Okay. Always okay.”

“Safeword?”

Kihyun mewls. “Red.”

Hyunwoo inhales. “Okay.”

When Hyunwoo pulls out his fingers from Kihyun’s hole, the boy whines softly, a whine that is silenced almost instantly when Hyunwoo seals his lips with his own. His kisses him, full and wet, and their tongues begin a sparring duel as Hyunwoo massages the flesh at the small of Kihyun’s back.

The boy kisses him hard, certain that his lips will start to bruise from how much Hyunwoo is sucking on them, and with a last small smooch, he pulls away. Hyunwoo looks at him with so much care and affection, and Kihyun wonders how he’d been so blind before to not have identified this as love.

Love. Hyunwoo loves him. It’s such a strange moment to come to this admission, but it’s a fulfilling one, one that seems like the only acceptable fullstop to what they used to be, only to start a new sentence.

Standing on his two feet on the leather seats, Kihyun struggles to keep his balance. Hyunwoo holds him by the hips, careful, always looking out for Kihyun as the boy rests higher up Hyunwoo’s lap and gets into a squatting position.

Holding his erection up for Kihyun with his right hand, he guides the boy further down so that the tip of his cock is positioned right at his entrance. Kihyun’s thighs are shaking from the strain, so when he sinks down on Hyunwoo’s cock, he lets out a sigh of both relief and pleasure.

Impaling himself on the older man’s long, thick erection, Kihyun goes down slowly, grounding himself by placing his hands on Hyunwoo’s shoulder, and allowing himself to relax and loosen as his cock breaches the rings of his muscles one by one.

When he finally sits onto Hyunwoo’s lap, the erection buried to its hilt, he looks back up at Hyunwoo with tear-filled eyes, and he smiles.

Hyunwoo knows how cliched it is, but there is a part of him that breaks at how pretty he is, and he lunges forward to capture Kihyun’s lips with his. He can’t resist Kihyun -- never could -- and now he doesn’t need to.

The freedom of being able to love whoever he loves is so unbelievably liberating, and Hyunwoo wonders why he hadn’t had the guts to confess it to himself sooner. He probably would have saved both him and Kihyun a lot of heartbreak.

With a hesitant little shift, Kihyun tries rotating his hips a little, and realising that his walls are constricting tightly around Hyunwoo’s thick appendage, the boy starts to move. Bouncing up and down on Hyunwoo’s dick, Kihyun’s exhales come out in huffs, his fringe stuck all over his forehead as he bobs on the cock, smiles as Hyunwoo lets out gibberish and low-grounded moans.

His thighs are straining, but the blissed-out look on Hyunwoo’s face is worth every bit of it, and when he pulses violently around Hyunwoo’s cock, he moans, throwing his head backward, leaving his neck bare for Hyunwoo to leave marks on again.

He rides him well, the tip of his cock constantly driving into the deepest, warmest spots, and Hyunwoo hisses at how tight he is, the heat smooth and pressing into his cock. Kihyun buckles and cants his hips, going in rotations as he lets all of Hyunwoo’s cock feel his insides quivering upon his arousal, and Hyunwoo’s hold on his hips bites little crescent marks into his flesh.

His body feels like it’s on fire, and when Hyunwoo subconsciously buckles his hips upwards as he spears his cock upwards, mercilessly into Kihyun’s hole, the boy yelps at every thrust, his frame shivering.

Hyunwoo takes his time, but Kihyun can tell he’s looking for that familiar spot he’s found just before. He bites down on his lower lip in concentration, like he’s remembering where it was, and upon a shrill from the younger boy, Hyunwoo knows he’s found it.

Without a single beat of hesitation, he attacks the same spot over and over again, the young boy’s fingers on his shoulders shaking, fresh, hot tears running down his face as Hyunwoo continues to abuse his sweet spot, his fierce, strong thrusts rutting into the spot at full power.

All the stress, pressure that he’s kept all pent up in him spills in spurts, and when his pitch escalates and his moans start growing more intense, his eyes rolled into the back of his skull, Kihyun comes gloriously, thick white spurts coating Hyunwoo’s stomach.

He cries, because it feels so good, but also because this is all so raw and real to him, the fact that he has feelings for Hyunwoo, and that he is no longer afraid to admit it to himself. There is something primal about the way they’re fucking, how they’re searching for each other’s pleasures, chasing to satisfy each other’s needs. And Kihyun curses again when he comes, because he’s become true and honest to his own emotions, and he hopes it isn’t too late to realise that for himself.

Hyunwoo is still in search for his high, his ass leaving the leather seat as he continues to fuck into Kihyun, feels his walls throb harshly as he orgasms, squeezing tightly around Hyunwoo’s cock.

It’s the last straw, and with a low groan to pair with Kihyun’s moans, Hyunwoo comes, shooting his load into Kihyun’s hole, which drips out almost instantly, coating his own dick with his cum, pooling at the base.

The tipping off the edge feels almost like an emotional release, and Hyunwoo finds all the words he’s never been able to say, the words he’s incapable of uttering gushing out in his shallow thrusts, in the way it surged out of him and into Kihyun in large intense flows.

They ride on each other’s highs and go silent for a good ten minutes, still reeling from what they’ve just experienced, every bit of skin on them sensitive to the touch. Kihyun doesn’t want to move, Hyunwoo’s cock still buried in him, and he feels his walls undulating around Hyunwoo, waves of pleasure still running through him, in less intense amounts.

They stay there, and when Kihyun lifts his head to stare at Hyunwoo, who’s looking at him with an open mouth, he laughs. They both laugh. It’s nice and warm, and it makes his insides all funny in a way he now recognises as affection.

When he’s cleaned Kihyun up with a pack of wet tissues that were also made convenient at the back of the car (Kihyun tells Hyunwoo he feels like this has all been plotting against him, and Hyunwoo laughs), they put their clothes back on.

Mr Lee knocks on the door to notify them that they’re back at Hyunwoo’s place, and when Kihyun steps out of the luxury car with hickeys decorating his neck, his lips bruised and swollen, and looking like he’s utterly and completely fucked out, he blushes brightly at Mr Lee’s wandering gaze.

“Welcome back to the penthouse, Kihyun.”

A chagrined smile. “Thank you, Mr Lee.”

Hyunwoo just guffaws beside him as he wraps his arm around his waist, and Kihyun slaps him on the chest.

*****

Round Two.

Okay, so maybe Hyunwoo remembered wrongly -- he has seen Kihyun cry before alright. All the times he’s spread his legs wider as he spears into him relentlessly, Kihyun had always reacted positively with a desperate cry that made his heart sing. And his eyes shone under the dim light of the moon, and Hyunwoo falls for him all over again when sobs of Hyunwoo’s name leaves his lips in melodious tunes.

They engage in rounds after rounds of indecency and decadence, Kihyun’s throat growing hoarse at the number of times he’s called out for Hyunwoo’s name, his skin littered with marks he’s lost count of.

Hyunwoo’s back aches from the thrusting and his hand mirrors the swollenness on Kihyun’s ass cheeks, but he’s never felt better, like he’s alive, like this isn’t just go after go of mindless, relentless sex.

It feels like filling up a missing piece, like all the time he’s spent away from Kihyun, a whole year and a half, and he’s only now just starting to put it back in.

Kihyun is reactive to his actions, as usual, and Hyunwoo is thankful. He’s thankful that Kihyun had taken him back so readily, that he hadn’t grown disgusted of the man, or looked down at him for making the worst choices that hurt him.

At the end of round five, Kihyun’s wrists are sore from where the handcuffs were, his hole so unbelievably stretched, and he thinks he would tremble himself into another dimension if he were to be mildly stroked again.

Sensing that he’s had enough for the night, whatnot with the two crying sessions and the very intense love-making, Hyunwoo is cautious as he inches closer to Kihyun. Squeezing his eyes shut as Kihyun hisses at his touch, Hyunwoo is gentle, and slowly curls his whole frame around the smaller boy, not wanting to come into too much contact, as he’s still feeling sensitive, but wanting to give him the warmth he’s not been able to for the past year.

They lie there, staring at the ceiling, before Kihyun speaks up.

“You know. I’m glad you left.” His voice is small, and Hyunwoo turns to look at him.

“What?” Bewildered is an understatement. Did he read his feelings wrongly? Is this all suddenly just one of those hook-up things, and did Hyunwoo misunderstand it all for love? Surely it isn’t a rerun of what happened with Jae, where he pours out his soul only for it to be a superficial act to the boy.

He holds his breath, unsure if he wants to hear what’s coming next.

Kihyun lets out a sigh. “Yeah. I don’t know when it was, but I think I started to develop feelings for you, and I wasn’t sure how to approach them. Commitment issues. I always thought I did better alone, and then you came along and made everything really confusing.” He lifts his arm, almost like an attempt to touch the ceiling. Hyunwoo stays very still.

“But then you left and I got really mad without knowing why. I covered those feelings up with anger, and I suppose your leaving just gave me another excuse to run away. If it wasn’t for Minhyuk telling me to be more honest with myself, I --” He laughs breathily. “I would probably have made a run for it when I saw you today.”

Hyunwoo reaches up and holds Kihyun’s hand, intertwines his fingers with the boy’s. He tries not to, but he chuckles anyway.

“That’s really dumb,” he says, and Kihyun shifts a little, wincing when the sheets rub against his ass. He scowls, and Hyunwoo thinks he’s the most adorable being to stand on this Earth.

“What is?” he asks, and Hyunwoo shakes his head. “Us.”

Kihyun blinks. “Excuse you?”

Hyunwoo guffaws again, and he brings Kihyun’s hand down and places the back of it against his chest. His heart hammers furiously against it, and he likes to think Kihyun can feel the way his heart is thudding deafeningly.

“I love you, Kihyun,” Hyunwoo says, no humour in his gaze, only heartfelt sincerity, and Kihyun is knocked back, unsure of what to say. “I can admit it now, at least.” He smiles, but Kihyun doesn’t feel like it’s much of a joke.

He turns serious again. “I liked you so much back then, until it reached a stage where I became so overwhelmed by my own feelings. You know what happened with Jae. I felt like I was getting a replay of that, only ten times more intense, and I didn’t know what I should have done.” He breathes out softly, and Kihyun resists the urge to push his fringe away from his eyes.

“I knew just how much you weren’t into relationships, and I guess I thought the same after Jae. But then there was a day -- I don’t remember which one it was, maybe the one where I brought you to the holiday house -- where I started to think that I would be happy to deal with all that commitment stuff if only I could be allowed to love you.”

Kihyun doesn’t put up a fight anymore, and reaches out with his other hand to push Hyunwoo’s brown fringe away from his eyes. The man presses his lips together and smiles, closing his eyes briefly. “And that made me really happy for a second, until I realised that it wasn’t what you wanted. From Day 1 we established that a relationship was what neither of us were looking for. It’s probably why all of it fell into place so easily and quickly. Because we knew what we wanted, but then I started to ask for something neither of us did. It was terrifying.”

Kihyun smiles too, a little sad. “I’m sure it was. It must have been confusing. Especially after all of that with Jae. But God damn it, Hyunwoo. I wish you were even a little bit honest with me.”

He worries his lower lip between his teeth. “I don’t know if I was more upset at you leaving entirely, or you leaving without a valid explanation.”

“I know.” Hyunwoo gulps. “I’m sorry. I really am. I just thought that was the best way. I didn’t want to have to fight you. Didn’t want to see the light go out from your eyes.” Then, a whisper. “Didn’t want to deal with rejection. Especially not from you.”

Kihyun’s gaze turns soft. He wonders how Hyunwoo makes him feel this way. So small, so vulnerable, yet at the same time, he wants nothing than to protect Hyunwoo from the people who wouldn’t hesitate to trample on his large, generous heart.

He sighs. “And I can’t promise I wouldn’t have rejected you back then. I really wasn’t in the right mindset for a relationship then. Heck, I didn’t even want to admit to myself that I liked you more than what I should have as your business partner.”

He runs his thumb along Hyunwoo’s knuckles, and the older man relaxes into himself. “I think if you had confessed to me at that stage, I probably would’ve ran even if you hadn’t.”

Hyunwoo looks at him with an unreadable expression, and Kihyun feels his breath hitch in his throat. He reaches out to trace Hyunwoo’s features with his index finger, and he memorises the dips and curves of his face, his tall nose, his small eyes, his full, plushy lips.

Hyunwoo exhales. “What about now? What if I confessed to you now?” Hyunwoo blinks slowly, as if he doesn’t want to waste a moment blinking when he could be spending that moment looking at Kihyun.

The silver-haired boy chuckles. “Again?”

Hyunwoo doesn’t blush, but he does look away slightly, embarrassed. “Again.”

Kihyun plays along. “Just hypothetically?”

The man smiles. “Just hypothetically.”

Kihyun thinks about it seriously for a moment. “Eh, I guess it’ll depend on how you’d carry out the actual confession, I guess.”

Hyunwoo hikes up a brow. “Didn’t take you for a die-hard romantic.”

Kihyun laughs. “Am not. But I’d like to see you make the effort. It’s the least I deserve, I think.”

The laugh that Hyunwoo returns is filled with mirth, and Kihyun realises just how much he misses it. He no longer wears a forlorn look, and he seems to have completely set himself free. Kihyun wonders if he reflects the same on his own face.

Minutes of just them staring into each other’s eyes. Hyunwoo’s confession is at the tip of his tongue, though he knows them being naked, lying next to each other on his bed is hardly romantic.

But he also thinks they’ve been through a lot, and he really wants to do this right by Kihyun, so he holds his words back, just smiles as he looks at the boy who holds his entire heart in his hands.  

*****

“I met Hyunwoo last week.”

Minhyuk cocks up a brow. “Who?”

Kihyun suppresses a large grin. Minhyuk is impossible sometimes. “You sound like an owl. You know who.”

Minhyuk sniffs. “No I don’t. Who’s he?”

Kihyun rolls his eyes. “My first sugar daddy? Son Hyunwoo? CEO of Son Enterprises?”

Minhyuk pretends to look surprised. “Oh. You had a sugar daddy before Jon?”

“Shut up, Minhyuk.” Kihyun clicks his tongue in frustration, and Minhyuk chuckles before easing beside him, though Kihyun can tell that he’s still a little wary.

“So you met him. After… how long, again?”

Kihyun counts the years in his head. “One and a half years?” Kihyun is aware that Minhyuk remembers exactly how long it’s been, but he’ll let him put on a farce if he so wishes.

“Wow.” Minhyuk blinks slowly, staring back at Kihyun. “That’s the amount of time you’ve spent with him. It’s a very long time.”

Kihyun presses his lips together. “It is, indeed.”

“He doing okay?” Minhyuk flips through a magazine absentmindedly.

“Yeah. He looks good.”

Minhyuk laughs breathily. “I asked if he was doing okay, not asking if you’d like to take his cock up your butt again.”

Kihyun chuckles shakily. “Don’t think you have that to worry about.”

Minhyuk pauses, his finger on a glossy page, and he can see the gears working in his head. He grimaces when Minhyuk shifts his torso to look at him.

“No. Tell me you didn’t.” His eyes are wide in incredulity, and Kihyun flushes a bright pink.

“Didn’t what?”

Minhyuk blinks a couple of times, as if to make his point.

“Kihyun. You did not sleep with him.”

Kihyun’s adam’s apple bobs up and down uneasily and he stares very intensely at the space in front of him, trying his best to ignore the heated glare Minhyuk is throwing in his direction.

“Oh my god. My god! You did!” Then, upon remembering something, “ That’s why you didn’t come home that day when I got you to buy dinner! What the hell, Kihyun?”

“What!” Kihyun’s voice rises in pitch and volume as he turns to look at Minhyuk, who just looks absolutely flabbergasted. Kihyun, on the other hand, has a fresh blush travelling to his neck.

“You slept with Hyunwoo? Wha -- why?”

Kihyun scrunches up his nose. “What do you mean why? Because I wanted to?”

Minhyuk is about to blow, Kihyun can tell.

“He was an ass to you, Kihyun. It has been quite some time ago, so just in case you need me to jot your memory.”

Kihyun swallows. “Yeah. I remember that.”

“And then you proceeded to whine about it for weeks. Dragged yourself around, wallow in all that… stuff. And you’re telling me you’re sleeping with the guy again.”

Kihyun sighs. “When you say it like that.”

“That’s because I’m saying it for what it is, Kihyun.” Minhyuk looks down at the edge of the table, his index finger going out to poke at it. “I just don’t want you to get close to him again.”

Kihyun exhales loudly. “About that. We may or may not have a thing going on.”

Minhyuk is seething silently, but Kihyun can feel the boiling underneath the surface. Uh-oh.

“What thing?” He chews on the last word and spits it out like it’s nasty, and Kihyun gulps.

“Eh. I may or may not be seeing him.”

Minhyuk is trying to get his bearings straight, though it’s proving to be a challenge. He feels like Kihyun’s just thrown him onto a merry-go-round and spun him about a hundred times. He thinks he might throw up.

“When you mean ‘seeing him’, what do you mean?”

Kihyun breathes. “It means we’re… meeting regularly.”

Minhyuk tries to calm himself down. “And do these regular meetings consist of sex?”

Kihyun stills for a moment of silence, and then grounds himself. “Maybe?”

“Kihyun.”

“Occasionally?” He’s averting Minhyuk’s gaze again.

“Kihyun. Be honest.”

“Yes. Oh my god, yes, it consists of sex, I let him fuck me every time we meet and it’s good and I’m happy, okay? Jesus.” Kihyun is throwing his arms in the air and waving them hysterically, looking as Minhyuk’s judgemental glance lands on him, and he turns a dark red.

Minhyuk is shaking a little, and he inhales deeply. Pushing himself back to face the table, he picks up his cup of tea and sips on it quietly. It’s almost like they’ve reached the end of the conversation, only the Minhyuk that Kihyun knows is not someone to let things go so easily.

“We’re… done? You’re done asking me questions?” Kihyun asks, a little skeptical, but he does wrap his fingers around his drink and suck on the straw slowly.

Minhyuk flips through another page of the magazine, but Kihyun feels like his attention isn’t really on the featured pages of scantily-dressed female models.

“Yeah.”

“What, no interrogation?” He jokes, but he’s worried. It’s funny how he’s worried that Minhyuk isn’t bothering him, when normally he couldn’t stand the boy’s talking for another long second.

“Nope. None of that.”

Kihyun feels a sharp tugging at the base of his chest and it hurts, even just slightly, and he doesn’t know why. Maybe it’s because it feels better to be annoyed by Lee Minhyuk’s lectures than to feel like he’s lost all hope in him to even talk him out of his choices.

“Why?”

Kihyun waits patiently for the answer that comes only after an extended beat.

“Well. You said you were happy, right?” And as Minhyuk’s eyes leave the page of posing models with legs for days, he stares straight into Kihyun’s eyes. “Then that’s all that matters to me.”

Kihyun sucks in a tight breath, and Minhyuk looks so worried. He looks like he was about to lash out at Kihyun and the fifty reasons why he should stay away from Son Hyunwoo, only to have simmered back down, caved back into his shell, and kept his mouth shut.

If it makes Kihyun happy.

Kihyun gulps. “Minhyuk --”

“I’m your best friend. But I’m not your mother, and I don’t get to tell you what you can or cannot do, should or shouldn’t do. That’s up to you. And I don’t agree with it, but if you say you’re happy, then you are, and I can’t find a better argument to win that.”

Kihyun smiles gently. “You know my mother couldn’t even get me to wake up if I didn’t want to.” He reaches out and curls his arm around Minhyuk, pulling himself in. He feels a sigh escape the blonde, and he leans his cheek against Minhyuk’s shoulder.

“You’re a terrible son.”

Kihyun chuckles. “I am.”

They stay in silence for a bit, and Minhyuk seems to gather enough courage to pat Kihyun softly on his silver hair, still browsing through the magazine. Kihyun speaks up.

“We’re not dating, if that’s what you’re concerned about.”

Minhyuk pushes the magazine away, focusing entirely on Kihyun now.

“Then what is it? Is it like a friends with benefits thing? Because it’s fine if it was.” Minhyuk says quietly, and Kihyun stares at the condensation forming on the plastic cup of his drink.

“I know it’s fine. The benefits bit is definitely a component, and I guess he is my friend. It’s just… complicated.”

Minhyuk snorts. “You sound like a 13-year-old filling in their relationship status on Facebook.”

Kihyun laughs, though the humour is lost. “Yeah. Maybe? I don’t know.”

“Well. What is it that you guys are doing then?” Minhyuk slurps on his tea noisily, making sure to not scald his tongue in the process.

“Fucking?” Kihyun asks, and Minhyuk’s eyes roll to the back of his skull.

“I know that bit. What else?”

Kihyun hesitates. He isn’t reluctant to share anything with Minhyuk, God knows this man knows all of his secrets. It’s just now that he has to somehow arrange his thoughts and sort out a somewhat coherent explanation for his newfound relationship with Hyunwoo, he struggles.

What are they?

“He, uh, confessed, to me?”

Minhyuk frowns. “What do you mean ‘confessed’?”

Kihyun frowns back. “Should I grab you a dictionary?”

Minhyuk punches him in the arm. “Not the time to be a smartass.”

Kihyun chuckles lightly, rubbing the sore spot, and then his smiles drops a little. “I don’t know. He told he loved me?”

“Loved?”

“Yeah. Told me that the reason why he was being a dick a year ago was because he was scared.”

“Scared?” Minhyuk narrows his eyes.

Kihyun looks back at the blonde. “Oh. Oh. Right. I didn’t tell you about Hyunwoo’s story with his first boyfriend who was an ass and ripped his heart apart, and he grew super afraid of developing real feelings and entering serious relationships with people.”

Both of Minhyuk’s brows disappear behind his bangs. “Sounds like you.”

Kihyun blinks twice, once confused, the other in realisation. “Oh. Yeah. Kind of. Guess we’re a lot more similar than I thought, I guess?”

Minhyuk seems very invested into his story now, pulling his knees up to sit under his chin, and he tilts his head to the side. “So he was scared, because he fell in love with you?”

Kihyun purses his lips. “Apparently not even just the I’ve mildly fallen in love with you and would like to bring you out to dinner and touch your pretty little butt kind.”

Minhyuk is entranced, his eyes wide.

“Then?”

“Apparently it’s the I am heads over heels in love with you and would like you to be my boyfriend and marry you and wake up next to your sleeping face every day kind.”

Minhyuk’s jaw falls slack, his mouth open. “Wow.”

Kihyun nods. “I know, right.”

“What did you say to that?”

Kihyun gulps. “Told him I’m trying to figure things out? That I’ve grown a bit from who I was a year ago, but also it’s… strange. After not being in a relationship for so long. I told him to give me time to sort myself out.”

“What kind of sorting out?” Minhyuk looks at Kihyun still clinging onto him, and stills. “You love him too, don’t you?”

Kihyun turns a new shade of pink, and that’s all the answer Minhyuk needs. “Oh god. Oh my god, Kihyun. Did you finally come to terms with your own feelings and realise that you loved him too, a year and a half ago?”

And once Minhyuk starts, he doesn’t stop. “Only the both of you somehow have had such crappy experiences with relationships that you somehow chose to run away? That’s why you terminated the contract, wasn’t it? You started asking for more, and you got so mad that he left without a word because you assumed you were as important to Hyunwoo as he was to you. That whole ‘he should have respected me as a friend and told me he was going to leave’ thing was just an excuse, wasn’t it?”

He’s so excited, his voice teetering at the edge of the breaking point, and his pitch rises to one that makes Kihyun’s ears physically hurt.

Kihyun pouts, buries his face in the crook of Minhyuk’s neck. “You’re not supposed to act as my psychic.”

“My god. Ki. You love him.” He sits back up against the sofa and stares blankly in front of him, like he’s proud of himself. He blinks a couple of times, then to himself, “you love him.”

“Loved,” Kihyun corrects, and Minhyuk flicks him in the forehead, and he lets out an ‘ouch!’ that Minhyuk casually ignores.

“Love. You’re an idiot if you think your feelings for him were only a thing of the past.”

Kihyun curls his lips up in a disgruntled grimace. “Why are you policing my feelings?”

Minhyuk blinks unevenly. “I wouldn’t have to if you weren’t being an absolute dumbass about it.”

“Thanks,” Kihyun says dryly, “I knew I could count on you.”

Chapter Text

Kihyun had thought that he knew Hyunwoo relatively well over the past years, but as it seems, there are still plenty of secrets of Son Hyunwoo left to be uncovered.

Narrowing his eyes, Kihyun questions, “what do you mean you eat anything?”

Hyunwoo blinks, a little confused at the question. “It means…” Another blink. “I eat anything.”

Kihyun pulls a face, even though he’s trying not to. “Even celery?”

Hyunwoo thinks about it for a second. “Yeah.”

Kihyun blanches. “Even brussels sprouts?”

The man laughs. “Those things aren’t that bad.”

The grey-haired boy is on a roll. “What about kale?” He physically winces at the mention of the hated vegetable, and Hyunwoo shrugs. “I blend it into a shake.”

The boy sticks out his tongue. “That is disgusting.”

“It’s food, you can’t say it’s disgusting.”

“It’s food, it’s not like it has feelings, and I can say whatever I want about them.”

“What’s your favourite food?”

“Beef ribs.”

“As expected from our multimillionaire.”

“How’re they expensive?”

“Point taken, Mr Son.”

Hyunwoo laughs, unable to help himself. Kihyun finds himself reflecting the smile, and the atmosphere is easy.

“Oh, another favourite food.”

Kihyun shifts around in his arms to look at him with a hiked eyebrow, and Hyunwoo reaches out a finger to push it back down. “You’re going to grow wrinkles soon if you keep pulling your skin like that.”

The boy rolls his eyes. “Stop giving poor advice just because you’re older by like, six years.”

“Six years is a very long time.” Kihyun feels like he’s heard these exact words before, so he ignores them, and looks back up at Hyunwoo with an anticipatory gaze.

“Your uh --” Wow, Hyunwoo really didn’t think this through, because now he’s overwhelmed by his own embarrassment, and Kihyun is somehow waiting for the punchline.

“Your uh -- ass?” He says it like he’s unsure, like he hasn’t spent most of their dates doing just that, and Kihyun rolls his eyes so hard they fall into the back of his skull, but there is a sheen of pink dusted over his cheeks, and Hyunwoo thinks he looks delectable.

“You are such an idiot,” he chastises, and Hyunwoo rests his chin on his palms, looking at him with an absolutely smitten look, and Kihyun reddens again.

And this seems to be their unwavering dynamic, the one where Hyunwoo finds himself falling in love with Kihyun over and over, while Kihyun just takes in his adoration with a red face, all while pretending like he isn’t over the moon that he seems to be the sole centre of Hyunwoo’s attention.

Kihyun still can’t paste the pretty label on the box that stores the both of them, but he supposes the label hardly matters, as long as they can be found in the same box.

*****

Apprehension hangs in the air between them, some idea of a dramatic showdown playing vividly in their heads as Jooheon and Minhyuk stand cross-armed, Hyungwon lounging lazily on the sofa.

“Are you guys done with glaring at the man or are you going to let him come in?” Hyungwon says suddenly, and Minhyuk’s frown intensifies.

“Shut up, Hyungwon. The adults are talking.”

The brunette snorts. “Yeah, because adults totally pull faces at people they don’t like instead of sitting down and talking.” Realising that his boyfriend is not budging the slightest at his words, Hyungwon sighs as he drags himself towards the blonde.

“C’mon, Minhyuk. Let’s watch TV. Your favourite drama is playing.”

Minhyuk starts to whine, and Hyungwon is losing his patience. “How can you call yourself a good friend of Kihyun’s when you won’t even stand up for him against the man who hurt him!”

There it is again, that accusatory index finger. Hyunwoo is still frozen by the doorway, blinking a couple of times at how things have developed.

Kihyun had complained of a stomach ache and rushed into the toilet at godspeed once they had entered the threshold of their apartment, leaving poor Hyunwoo here to bear the wrath of Kihyun’s alleged knights in shining armour.

“Because I know he won’t be happy that you’re bullying his friend. Just sit your ass down, will you? You too, Jooheon.”

The younger boy wears a very deep scowl on his face, and Minhyuk’s protests are silenced when Hyungwon pulls him over to the sofa and glares at him sternly. He knows this is more Minhyuk’s way of solving things than Jooheon’s (the boy has a very matured approach to most things), but he also understands Minhyuk’s need to express his unhappiness about Hyunwoo to Hyunwoo.

Hyungwon can’t really blame him, but it doesn’t mean he’s any less embarrassed.

Hyunwoo stills by the arch of the door, and when Jooheon finally leaves after throwing him a hateful glare, he sighs and eases his limbs out.

He knew he had to pay for his misdeeds at some point of time; Kihyun had forgiven him way too readily after their reunion, but he supposes it was only fair, since Kihyun held some degree of romantic affection toward him.

His friends, however, were less relenting.

Hyungwon is whispering something to Minhyuk under his breath, and Minhyuk is obviously arguing something in return. Jooheon is silently fuming on the other end of the sofa, his arms still crossed over his chest, and Hyunwoo is at a loss.

He’s always been a little stunted when it came to resolving conflict, and he most certainly didn’t fare well with tense atmospheres like these. But he decides they couldn’t hate him any more than they do now, so he might as well try.

Swallowing his saliva, he inches closer to where Jooheon is, and invites himself onto the space beside the boy. Jooheon is huffing, leaning to the armrest and away from Hyunwoo, and the older man promptly ignores the dull pain in his chest.

“Jooheon.”

No reply. The younger boy is staring at the space in front of him, and he kicks his feet a couple of times.

“Jooheon.”

Hyunwoo tries again.

“Jooheon?”

A frown, and then he’s turning his whole torso around to look at Hyunwoo. “What do you want!”

Startled, the older man’s eyes grow to the size of saucers, and maybe Jooheon’s gaze softens by an inch.

He takes in a deep breath. “Look, I’m sorry.”

A scoff from Minhyuk’s end, but Hyunwoo can only deal with one at a time.

“I know I did a really shitty thing. I’m sorry. Not just to Kihyun but also to the both of you. It seems like I’ve betrayed your trust.”

And that seems to be the trigger, because Jooheon explodes. “Yeah. You know what? Kihyun hyung was miserable after you left. You broke him, and I thought I would never see him smile again. Do you know how much it hurt to see him like that? I can’t believe I thanked you for taking care of him back then. You went ahead to be the biggest dick and I don’t -- how does he just take you back like that?” He’s waving his arms madly, and Minhyuk looks like he has more to add, but Hyungwon just grabs hold of his shoulders and throws him a glare. He keeps quiet.

Hyunwoo gulps. “To be honest with you? I have no idea. I don’t know if I deserve to come back into his life at all.” Jooheon looks like he’s about to go off again, but Hyunwoo cuts him off. “But I know I want to make amends.”

He breathes. “Look. I know I did a really crappy thing. I know it’s not much of a reason, and that it sounds like an excuse more than anything, but I just --” He inhales. “I was really scared, okay? I hadn’t met anyone like Kihyun before. He just --” Another sigh. “-- sucked me in completely, and I didn’t know how to get out.”

Jooheon looks at him. Hyunwoo doesn’t know if he understands enough, doesn’t know if his attempts at explaining himself are futile, but he supposes at least he’s listening to him, which is consolation enough.

“You could have just called off the agreement and confessed to him.” He says it plainly, like it’s the most obvious course of action Hyunwoo should have taken, and sure, it would have been, if Hyunwoo was anyone but himself.

He almost laughs, but he realises that there is nothing humorous about the situation, so he just looks back at Jooheon. He seems to have gotten Minhyuk and Hyungwon’s attention too, and while he dislikes sharing his emotions, and most certainly not the rotten bits of his past, he knows that if he wants to gain any sliver of trust back from Kihyun’s friends, it’s something he has to learn to do.

“The last time I did that with someone whom I thought loved me as much as I loved them, they upped and left, and disappeared off the face of the Earth.” Hyunwoo smiles weakly at the blonde boy. “And I’ll be honest, I’m not sure if I’m ready to go through another round of heartbreak and severe alcoholism.”

At Jooheon’s lack of response, Hyunwoo presses his lips together, and tries his best not to grimace. “I may or may not have been sent into hospital to have my stomach pumped from all that booze. Safe to say it’s not a very fond memory, and I didn’t really want a replay.”

There it is -- pity. It’s half the reason why he didn’t want to share his story, because he was always supposed to exist as the strong adult male who knew how to deal with anything that came his way. It’s almost like he was born into knowledged existence, and that he never had to trip and fall to find his own way.

It seemed to be an easy assumption to come to, considering Jooheon and Minhyuk knew him in his mature stages of his life, when he was rich and successful and didn’t have uni-related woes.

So perhaps it felt misplaced, the fact that Jooheon pitied him. Hyunwoo has to learn to grapple with himself better.

The atmosphere seems to dip, and Hyunwoo is unsure if he’s made things worse. He clears his throat, and he can feel the heat of Minhyuk’s gaze on him. Hyungwon, on the other hand, seems less interested, but the sympathy radiates at high levels around him.

Jooheon speaks, as expected. “You were scared?” His voice is much softer now, and there seems to be a furrow between his brows. Hyunwoo swallows. He doesn’t know why the concerned question affects him so much, but he feels like he’s five again, and the way Jooheon asks him encases him in a warmth that he never could relate to.

Minhyuk is looking at him, and he’s not saying anything, but Hyunwoo can tell from how his eyelids start relaxing, that he’s growing more comfortable.

Is this what it feels like to have more than one genuine friend?

Hyunwoo just laughs, even though it comes out a little bitter, and he thinks he’s not done a marvellous job of concealing it. “Yeah, I suppose I was scared.”

And words are secondary, because there is a frown on Jooheon’s lips, and before Hyunwoo knows it, Jooheon is stretching out an arm, and pulling Hyunwoo’s arm. “Come here, hyung.”

He hugs him. Jooheon’s arms are a lot longer than Kihyun’s, and it goes around Hyunwoo’s girth snugly. He’s warm, soft, and he’s patting Hyunwoo gently on the back. He feels like a baby again, and he chews on his lower lip.

He doesn’t deserve this charity. Not after he’s done all those things to people who saw him as their friends. Yet Hyunwoo is Hyunwoo, always chasing after a beacon of warmth, no matter who provided it.

When Kihyun steps out of the bathroom, there is only a bewildered look on his face. Minhyuk is curled up in Hyungwon’s arms, face buried in his chest, while Jooheon is embracing Hyunwoo, and it seems so warm, but so bizarre.

Kihyun blinks. “Am I missing out on something?”

Instead of hurrying to escape from Jooheon’s arms, Hyunwoo just smiles gently. “Just seeking for forgiveness around here.”

Realisation seeps into the younger boy’s eyes, and he nods, before taking a seat next to Hyungwon, the brunette turning over to look at him. They both stare at the back of the Minhyuk’s head for a good minute, before returning their gaze to the television screen.

Silence ensues them for a whole ten minutes before Hyunwoo announces that he wants to bring them all out for dinner, and Jooheon cheers at the prospect of a steak dinner, and Minhyuk scurries to his bedroom to get changed. Kihyun and Hyunwoo exchange a small smile, before the younger boy finds his way to his side. Hyunwoo wraps his arm around his waist and it stays there.

They stare at each other for a while, just showing tight-lipped smiles, and Hyungwon lounges casually beside them with his arms folded.

“You know,”  he says later, at the restaurant, where Hyunwoo is busy laughing at how excited Jooheon and Minhyuk are at the selection of food, “I think it’s the happiest I’ve ever seen you.”

“It’s not much, considering I was depressed half the time you’ve known me,” Kihyun replies, and Hyungwon laughs breathily. “True,” he says, “but you also look at him the same way he looks at you.”

Kihyun hikes up a brow. “What way?”

Hyungwon’s smile is small, and his voice is gentle.

“In love.”

*****

“Promise me you won’t laugh,” Kihyun holds out his index finger, as if it would do any harm towards Hyunwoo at all, but the older man just shrugs and reaches out to hold his finger in his palm.

“Kihyun. Please just stop worrying and just show it to me.”

“You didn’t promise!”

There is a video on his laptop, a thumbnail of what is obviously a pornographic video, only this time instead of all the other times they’ve watched porn together and evolved it into something in action, Kihyun has the brightest blush on his face.

“It’s just porn, right?” Hyunwoo says, and Kihyun looks at him. “We’ve watched plenty of porn together. It’s fine.”

Kihyun’s face turns another shade of red. Hyunwoo thinks it’s both endearing and hilarious. “It’s not just porn. It’s my porn.”

Hyunwoo holds his hand to his temple. “That would make it even better. Why are you freaking out?”

Kihyun’s eyes are wide, his silver fringe falling over his eyes as he shifts. “Hyunwoo. It’s porn. I’m having sex with another man in this video and we’re watching it. How’s that not weird for you?”

The middle-aged man looks at him. “I’m a 32-year-old man who thrives on buying cute boys gifts and showering them with compliments and you think watching someone’s homemade porn is weird to me?”

The younger boy pinches his lips together. “Well…”

“Just show it to me, god damn it.”

Kihyun takes in a deep breath and shakes his fringe out of his face. Hyunwoo looks as he readies himself and he taps on the spacebar so quickly he almost doesn’t see his hand movement.

The cue of a familiar deafening moan, however, is enough of a hint.

“Oh god, oh god.” Kihyun is covering his whole face with his palms and he’s so embarrassed it’s adorable. The man in the video is lean and small, a tinier version of Kihyun, and his moans are crystal clear, loud and booming, and at least a few pitches higher than what Hyunwoo is used to hearing.

The camera pans to their side view, and both men’s faces are covered with a huge sticker as a form of mosaic. The sounds from the boy at the bottom, however, are sounds that Hyunwoo has heard so many times that they have been drilled into his mind.

There is a close-up of a pink, thick cock driving into Kihyun’s pulsing hole, and Hyunwoo has to swallow his saliva at the sight of teenage Kihyun’s clenching hole. It looks so clean, so tight, and Hyunwoo feels his pants tighten around his crotch. Kihyun is trying his best to look away, but he’s peeking from between his fingers, and Hyunwoo really wants to kiss him.

His cheek pressed into the pillow, Kihyun sings a tune of melodious tones, his breathing heavy as the cock ruts deeper into him. He buries his face into the cotton, his hands coming to form fists that bunch up the sheets.

Hyunwoo presses his lips together. Kihyun is still blushing red, his hands covering his face shaking a little, and Hyunwoo just laughs before he reaches out and holds him by the shoulder. He pulls him into his side and rubs small circles on his back, and Kihyun’s frame seems to relax by a little.

“Fuck!” Kihyun in the video screams, and he continues to pant as his then-boyfriend spears his cock deep into his hole, grunting from time to time at the tight, velvety heat. Hyunwoo’s breath is hitched in his throat, but he does try his best to not let Kihyun find out that he’s turning very, very aroused, and very, very bothered.

Fuck. He wonders what teenage Kihyun’s lean, small body would have felt like in his arms. He must have been much more flexible, much more eager and enthusiastic. He even imagines taking his first time, planting small kisses on his cute little face and assuring him that he’d be gentle, see the tears jump into his eyes as he screams for Hyunwoo, tells Hyunwoo that he feels funny, that it feels good and he doesn’t know why.

Hyunwoo would baby him, shush him, be so soft with him, makes him feel so good his toes would curl and his thighs would tremble as his orgasm washed through him.

If tainting the innocent could be considered a kink, Hyunwoo thinks he’d gladly add that item onto his list.

Hyunwoo chooses to grip tighter onto Kihyun’s shoulder, and when the boy turns to look up at him, he ignores him and stares harder at the screen. Probably not the best idea, considering the images from the screen are what spurred his growing hard-on in his pants, and he grapples at the last strands of his sanity.

“You’re moaning an awful lot,” he says, mostly as an attempt to distract himself.

Kihyun glowers at him. “He was really good.” And when Hyunwoo turns silent, Kihyun clears his throat. “And also I was 18, and when you’re a hormonal teen, you thank the Gods if you even as much as have someone suck your dick. I thought that was the best sex I’ve had in my life.” He glances sneakily at Hyunwoo. “Boy, was I wrong.”

He can’t tell from where he’s sitting, but he thinks the ends of Hyunwoo’s lips are pulled up just slightly. Dork.

They continue watching in silence, teenage Kihyun’s voice soaring higher and higher as his then-boyfriend buckles his hips relentlessly, pulling out almost completely only to slam back in with double the force, Kihyun sliding up the bed against his own intentions.

The bed creaks dangerously, creating some sort of rhythm along with Kihyun’s scaling moans, his wanton sounds coursing through the room, echoing in Hyunwoo’s ear. Fuck. He tries his best to settle himself, but he can feel his dick growing harder and harder, and knowing that the protagonist of the very video he’s watching is tucked in his side is really not much help.

Hyunwoo sucks in a sharp inhale when Kihyun starts to shift beside him, and he properly lets out a sigh when the boy reaches out to hold his hard-on in his small hand.

He doesn’t dare turn to look at the boy for fear of crumbling under his intense gaze, so he watches the video intently as Kihyun continues to rub his short fingers against him, digging the heel of his palm into his crotch. He hisses. The warm touch of his hand sends quivers down his spine in waves, and Hyunwoo braces himself for more.

Teenage Kihyun is heaving, his pitch escalating so high Hyunwoo struggles to follow. He ignores his then-boyfriend’s groans, imagines himself aiming straight into teenage Kihyun’s tight, wet hole, feels his walls come around him in a squeeze, warming him entirely.

Adult Kihyun plays along, letting his hand swim below Hyunwoo’s waistband as he grabs hold onto his erection, its skin fevered and warm, pre-cum leaking from its tip.

He pumps hesitantly, the older man’s growls stemming deep from his chest as Kihyun swipes his thumb over his tip gently. His ass leaves the bed as he buckles his hips, eager for more friction and more of his touch.

Kihyun’s hands are small, warm, and everything Hyunwoo has ever wanted in this moment, though the idea of spearing into his hole is equally inviting.

Teenage Kihyun’s pants and soft whimpers are just as helpful, and Hyunwoo feels himself getting harder at the thought of a young Kihyun, saliva across his cheeks, his eyes rolled back into his skull at the sheer exhilaration, at the intensity of something so strong, so overpowering, something that he’s never felt before.

“Oh fuck.” Hyunwoo whispers low when Kihyun grabs at the hem of his shirt, and he pushes it up all the way, until it bunches just underneath his armpits. Hyunwoo’s eyes are still trained on the younger version of Kihyun on the screen, sees the way he’s grabbing onto the headboard for dear life as he’s being fucked against it, the wooden board creating resounding bangs against the wall behind.

A wet lick across his nipples. Hyunwoo groans loud as Kihyun’s other hand roams across his well-toned muscles. His tongue flicks across his other nipple gently, and then he latches his lips onto his skin and sucks, tongue still swirling circles around. Hyunwoo tries to keep his cool, but he’s finding it so terribly difficult. All he wants to do is to fuck Kihyun into oblivion, and hear the same sounds he’s made in the video in real life.

But patience is a virtue, and he’d hate to give in so easily when he knows Kihyun is just playing. So he attempts a straight face, attempts to not beg for Kihyun’s right hand to pump him faster. Kihyun sucks at his neck, hard and wet, undoubtedly to leave a huge, dark hickey where he’s been, eager to leave traces of his presence.

Hyunwoo breathes in through his nose, and holds himself together. He will not fuck himself into Kihyun’s hand. This is not the time for it. Yet.

Kihyun kisses him, gentle over his nipples, his warm breath breezing over it, making them erect and perky. Then hard over his neck and jawline, forcing his skin to bruise, dark spots blossoming over his tanned skin.

All of Hyunwoo’s resolution decidedly dies in his throat when Kihyun drags his waistband down to his knees, and without a single word, he kneels on the bed and bends over, places his lips over the tip of Hyunwoo’s cock.

“Jesus fucking Christ, Ki --” Hyunwoo doesn’t finish his sentence, because Kihyun opens his lips and sinks his lips onto his cock, the insides of his mouth wet and hot, and Hyunwoo holds onto the sheets tighter. “Holy fuck --”

The boy’s head bobs up and down on Hyunwoo’s dick, his silver hair distracting and eye-catching, yet Hyunwoo has still yet to see him properly, still immersing himself in the video of teenage Kihyun being fucked relentlessly, being pummeled into the sheets, being banged so violently he would probably walk with a limp the next day.

Hyunwoo loves that. Craves that. Wants to absolutely devour and ruin Kihyun as he falls into pieces, but as it seems, he looks like he’s about to fall into pieces first.

Kihyun’s tongue goes around his erection in circles, strong, decisive licks across the tip of his cock, tasting the pre-cum and sucking his cheeks in as far as they would allow him to. Hyunwoo tried to keep his distance for fear of losing, but as Kihyun’s cheeks cave in, so does Hyunwoo.

He grabs onto his silver hair tightly, the boy whining a little under his tug, and the vibrations from his vocal cords tickle Hyunwoo. He inhales sharply, grip on his hair growing tighter, and Kihyun just continues to suck without a care in the world.

Hyunwoo grunts, his voice melding in with the tinny sound of Kihyun’s moans from the video, and he realises he doesn’t need to imagine fucking into Kihyun, when he can have that realised right here, right now.

The tip of his cock hits the end of Kihyun’s throat, the boy gagging slightly at the intrusion, but he relaxes slowly, and lets Hyunwoo drive in deeper. The fist still in his hair, Hyunwoo decides to fuck it all, and starts bucking his hips. He holds onto Kihyun firmly, skull-fucking him as the boy grabs onto either sides of his thighs, struggling to follow Hyunwoo’s rapid movements. Tears spring into his eyes as Hyunwoo continues to fuck into his mouth roughly, breathing quickly from his nose. He digs crescent-shaped marks into Hyunwoo’s flesh as the man cants his hips into his wet heat, his thrusts growing more erratic, and Kihyun knows what is coming.

“Oh, fuck.”

“I’ll swallow,” Kihyun says, however best he can pronounce with a cock in his mouth, and Hyunwoo gives him a small look that’s returned by one of affirmation. It’s the first time they’ve looked at each other since the start of this little game, and Hyunwoo feels his gut tighten. Damn, he’s even more arousing to look at.

So he spears into his small mouth repeatedly, grunting out expletives as he does, and when he does come, it arrives in a wave, spurts of white shooting itself into Kihyun’s mouth, warm and wet. The boy trembles as Hyunwoo comes, and with a wince, he swallows his load entirely, the cum hot as it travels down his oesophagus.

“Fuck,” is all Hyunwoo has to offer as Kihyun looks up at him with teary eyes, his lips red and swollen, a fresh blush on his cheeks. He looks delectable, even after Hyunwoo has cummed into his small, pretty mouth. So Kihyun gasps when Hyunwoo picks him up and kisses him, deep yet gentle, and he throws his arms around his shoulders to pull him further in.

He’s nestled in Hyunwoo’s lap, feeling small and loved and protected, and when Hyunwoo kisses him, he feels like he might float off anytime soon. It’s a marvellous feeling to be loved, he thinks, and as teenage Kihyun in the video comes with a deafening scream, Kihyun is placed on the bed with his legs spread, and Hyunwoo has his tongue teasing his perineum.

Fuck, he thinks, it’s such a fucking wonderful feeling to be loved, indeed.

*****

“Hey, uh, Hyunwoo?” Kihyun is naked on Hyunwoo’s bed, which is a much more frequent phenomenon than you would expect.

“Yes?” He’s holding the boy in his arms, his hand rubbing circles on his back.

“What are we?”

Hyunwoo blinks, clearly at a loss of a coherent response when being attacked by such a random question. Sensing his uneasiness, Kihyun shifts slightly on the bed, and chuckles lightly.

“Don’t answer that. It’s fine.” He buries his face in the crook of Hyunwoo’s neck, and Hyunwoo sighs. “Is it fine?”

Kihyun presses his lips together. “Didn’t have trouble going without labels for the past few months, did we?”

The older man shakes his head. “Doesn’t mean it’s fine.”

Kihyun remains silent, and they don’t really know what to say. Hyunwoo realises that his already stunted conflict-resolution skills become worse when it comes to Kihyun; he never knows what to say for fear of hurting or angering the boy.

“You have something to say,” Kihyun states, not posing a question, “what is it?”

Hyunwoo waves an arm. “It’s nothing.”

Kihyun narrows his eyes. “Doesn’t look like nothing.” 

“I don’t want to anger you.”

Kihyun huffs. “Who do you think I am?”

“You’re Kihyun. Which means that you’re very precious to me, and I want every moment that we’re together to be happy and joyful and without arguments.”

The boy frowns. “Hyunwoo. That’s not how relationships work.”

“I thought we just established the fact that we don’t have a label?”

“Relationships between people. We’re both people, aren’t we?”

To that, Hyunwoo has no reply, only looks away from Kihyun and at his own fingernails, which aren’t very interesting.

“Hyunwoo.” Kihyun extricates himself from Hyunwoo’s death grip and ignores the way a flash of hurt crosses the older man’s face. “I don’t know what we are. I don’t know when we’ll end up figuring it out, but for now, for whatever this is, we’ll need to at least be able to maintain a good relationship, don’t we?”

He continues when Hyunwoo doesn’t take up the conversation. “That means you have to learn how to use your words, Hyunwoo. I don’t care if you’ve been hurt before, but we’re not going into this if we’re going to second guess each other. If you have an issue, you tell me. Don’t assume I’d behave or think a certain way -- how could you possibly tell when I can’t even predict my own reactions?”

Hyunwoo looks at him, a little sad. “What are we going into, Kihyun?”

Kihyun’s frown weakens. “Honestly? I have no clue. But I really like you?”

“As do I, Kihyun, not that I’ve told you any less of my adoration.”

Kihyun blinks slowly. “Yes. That’s -- yeah.” He suddenly flushes red, and in his nervousness, he crawls back into Hyunwoo’s arms again. The man just laughs and shakes his head as he pats the boy on his hair softly.

“Just talk to me, Hyunwoo,” his voice is a whisper, his breath warm against his skin, making his hairs stand on their ends. The middle-aged man sighs. He knows communication is key, but couldn’t they just continue with their healthy dynamic of bantering and joking and having sex and only talking about delightful and pleasant things without addressing the elephant in the room?

He supposes that’s what had sparked his whole wordless departure, and he knows how that had turned out for him, so maybe Kihyun is right. Maybe they do need to talk about the difficult things as well, something Hyunwoo has never been particularly good at.

How do people broach unwanted topics? Surely there must be a segway into them one way or another. Kihyun is looking up at him with expectant eyes, and he gives in. He knows what the boy is saying is correct, and that it’s important to discuss unpleasant things, but he just doesn’t want to have to tread carefully around him, and the easiest way to not do that is to not initiate anything that would force him to have to do so.

He swallows, and looks back down at Kihyun. The boy is pursing his lips together and his cheek is all squashed up from how he’s lying on Hyunwoo’s chest. He chuckles, and wonders if the magic Kihyun holds will cease to exist some day.

He most certainly hopes it never does.

“I don’t know what you feel about me, Kihyun. I’ve confessed -- even though it was really crappy and not romantic -- and spilled my guts to you, but you’ve never really… addressed it? I guess I was just afraid to take the next step because I didn’t know what it is that you feel?”

His grip on the sheets behind Kihyun grows tight, and the boy is visibly tensed, and there is a frown tainting his features. Crap, he’s messed up again. He knew he shouldn’t have been honest about his feelings -- it wouldn’t hurt anyone for them to keep going like this for months, years, decades. As long as they were happy, who needs labels?

And while that is true, Hyunwoo knows the person that Kihyun is, knows his need to stuff people and personalities into small boxes and categories, loves when they jump out of their stereotypes, and finds great delight in having well-drawn boundaries in every aspect of his life.

Who is Hyunwoo to deny him that? Yet the need to draw boundaries requires honest heart-to-heart talks that will probably end up with one of them in dampened spirits, and that’s the last thing Hyunwoo wants to see.

“I --”

Hyunwoo sighs. He knows it’s a difficult topic, and he really doesn’t want one of them (probably himself) in tears at the end of the conversation.

“It’s okay, Kihyun. It’s fine if you don’t --”

“No.” The answer is curt and fierce, and takes Hyunwoo aback. Realising what he’s just said, the silver-haired boy splutters as he shakes his head. “That was rude. I’m sorry. No. I mean, no it’s not fine. I want to talk about this. You told me your concerns, and I want to address them. It’s how communication works.”

Kihyun has a fire growing in his eyes, and Hyunwoo doesn’t know how much more smitten he can be. It seems that Kihyun has an apt personality that calls for every situation, and when he’s putty and small, he’s so endearing and docile, yet when he’s faced with conflict, he’s always the first to put himself on the frontline and fight for what he believes in.

Taking in a deep breath, Kihyun looks Hyunwoo straight in the eyes. “I like you, Son Hyunwoo. I don’t know if it’s love, because love has been such a distant concept for so long, and I’m still trying to find out what it is, or means, or what it’s like to me. But I like to think that what I feel for you would be the closest to what I think it would be, and it makes me happy.”

Another deep breath.

“I’m happy when I’m with you. You’re so much fun, you give good advice, you love my friends, and it seems like you’ve won them over too.”

Hyunwoo laughs at this, but Kihyun doesn’t miss the way his eyes are misting over.

“I feel so safe around you. Like I don’t have anything to fear, and that if anything goes wrong, you’ll always have my back.”

“It is true. I always will,” Hyunwoo replies softly, and Kihyun sees the way his eyes turn soft, and the ends of his lips pull down just slightly, so he kisses him on the tip of his nose gently.

“And you are so stunning. Everytime I see you, I wonder if there is any way you could be more amazing, and then you go ahead and do something so unexpected that I realise that there is no end to your charm.”

Hyunwoo is about to reply with something along the lines of “these are supposed to be my words to you”, but he stops himself. This isn’t Hyunwoo’s confession -- it’s Kihyun.

The boy gulps, his fingers coming to cup Hyunwoo’s face, and he strokes his cheeks with the pads of his thumbs gently. Hyunwoo looks like he’s on the verge of tears. “So look, I don’t fricking know where we stand right now, but I think I like you a lot, and that’s my answer.”

Oh god. Hyunwoo promised that he wouldn’t cue the waterworks, but it seems inevitable after all. Instead of a sobbing mess, he just lets the tears welled up in his eyes spill, and Kihyun seems to understand it, considering how he’d done the same at Hyunwoo’s confession. It’s been one and a half years; they’re allowed to be emotional with each other.

“God.” Hyunwoo breathes, and when Kihyun looks at him, concerned, he just laughs. “God, I love you. So, so much.”

And while Kihyun is incapable of saying the same words to him, he just smiles and nods, and when Hyunwoo kisses him on his thin, soft lips, he thinks it’s enough. For now, this is enough.

*****

Hyunwoo commences World War III without trying. Wielding a spatula in one hand and a ladle in the other (he’s holding a ladle where there isn’t soup), Hyunwoo is standing about one metre away from a stove with a pan of frying fish on it.

The fish is almost burnt beyond recognition, but Hyunwoo still has his guard up, and oil seems to still be flying in every possible direction.

Kihyun steps into the penthouse only to witness a smoke-filled living room, and the smoke alarm going off.

“What the --” He steps out of his shoes immediately and dashes into the kitchen to find Hyunwoo engulfed in a room of fumes, and he coughs while holding his sleeve to his nose. “Jesus, Hyunwoo, what the fuck are you doing?”

There is a grimace, then a sheepish grin. “Trying to make dinner?” He hollers over the screaming alarm, and Kihyun opens the windows and starts to fan the smoke out.

“Or trying to get the fire brigade to come? Turn off the damn stove, for God’s sake!”

Hyunwoo does weird jumpy movements and finds himself on the side of the stove, and with a timid little push of a button, the electric stove turns off, and Hyunwoo breathes a sigh of relief. The smoke alarm seems to stop screaming, and Kihyun’s head stops rattling with its high-pitched whine.

He stares at Hyunwoo, confused, while the older man just looks a little disappointed.

“You are 32 and you have no sense of danger. How did you manage to survive for so long?” Kihyun asks as they stand there after a prolonged silence, the air still smelling like charred fish. Hyunwoo frowns.

“I didn’t have to make my own food, ever. I spent half an hour trying to find out how to turn on the stove.”

Kihyun blinks at him. “Why do you sound smug?”

“I don’t!” Hyunwoo wails, and Kihyun just chuckles as he folds his arms together. Sometimes he wonders if he’s just sticking around to be Hyunwoo’s nanny. He takes over the spatula, and with a look into the pan, he shakes his head.

“What’s this supposed to be?”

“What do you mean what’s it supposed to be, it’s fish.”

“Hyunwoo, this looks like a charred blob.” He gestures at the contents of the pan, and the older man peers over in curiosity. As it appears, Kihyun is nowhere near exaggeration this time round. The fish truly looks like a soot-filled tragedy.

Hyunwoo sighs, and Kihyun can’t help but to laugh as he scoops the fish out from the pan and onto a dish. It looks even sadder now. Hyunwoo stares at the plate unhappily, and Kihyun gives him a pat on the shoulder.

“What inspired you to make such an ambitious attempt at cooking?” Kihyun asks when they set the table, the charred fish sitting on the left, and a dangerously red pot of stew sitting on the right. It’s soybean paste stew -- it’s not supposed to be red, is it?

Hyunwoo shrugs, placing the chopsticks on the table as Kihyun goes in to scoop the rice. “I don’t know. You wanted something romantic for a confession, and you wanted to see me make an effort, so I thought something homemade would be nice?”

Kihyun stills, his frame growing rigid before the rice cooker. Hyunwoo sees, but he doesn’t comment on it. “Looks like I was probably better off just bringing you to a steakhouse.”

The silence goes on for a little longer than a minute, but then Hyunwoo sees Kihyun relaxing into himself, and resuming his rice-scooping activities. He doesn’t say anything about Hyunwoo’s blatant message that this dinner was a Confession Dinner, but Hyunwoo can tell from the way the knots are forming in his back that he’s nervous.

Funny, because Hyunwoo thought he was the nervous one.

They place the rice bowls on the table, and Hyunwoo takes the seat opposite Kihyun. Maybe this isn’t the way to do romantic. Maybe romantic is the typical candlelight dinner with a vase of rose and a restaurant that smells like overpriced room mist.

And while Hyunwoo’s penthouse is definitely on the pricey end, and they have a bird’s eye view of the city laid out before them, it smells like burnt fish, and the food looks unappetising.

Kihyun’s hands are clasped together, and then he unclasps them. There is a small smile on his face.

“So.” Hyunwoo begins, unsure on how to continue.

Kihyun tries his best to curb the smile that’s twitching at the ends of his lips.

“So what?”

Hyunwoo looks expectant, like he’s waiting for Kihyun to already get the hint, but the boy is playing dumb to the very last minute, leaving an extremely vexed Hyunwoo struggling to find the right words.

“The, uh, confession.”

Kihyun blinks, his silver hair falling over his eyes gently. “I’m not following you.”

The older man sucks in a deep breath, and he can see the way Kihyun is pressing his lips together to push down the grin. Asshole.

“You said you wanted a confession.” And Hyunwoo gestures plainly to the table of food, an extravagance, really, especially since Hyunwoo wasted most of the food seeing as they’re not entirely edible.

Kihyun hikes up a brow. “Is the fish supposed to voice your confession, or?”

He glances at the charred fish, and then back at Hyunwoo, and the middle-aged man is this close to ripping his own hair off. Sure, he loves Kihyun, and sure he has to say it at some point of time, but it’s so unnerving.

He’s told himself that he loves Kihyun multiple times. He knows he’s in love with the boy, but god damn it, why is it just so difficult to say it?

The faintest memory of a shocked expression on a fading impression of a face finds itself washing onto Hyunwoo’s consciousness, and the remnants of that bite of rejection still leaves teeth-shaped marks in his flesh.

He gulps, and Kihyun is looking at him with those eyes, those eyes that hold a brightness that could compare to all the stars in the universe combined, and the last of that memory flushes itself out of his system.

He inhales deeply, and Kihyun is poking mindlessly at his rice.

His hands balling into fists under the table, Hyunwoo doesn’t quite recall the last time he’s been so nervous. He gazes up at Kihyun, who chooses the exact same moment to look up, and they exchange a look for what seems to be minutes.

He thinks Kihyun knows, no, he knows Kihyun knows just how infatuated Hyunwoo is with him, but Kihyun had always been one to live on words of affirmation, and Hyunwoo knows just how important this is to him.

Sucking in another deep breath, he lifts his fists from under the table and reaches out to hold Kihyun’s hands. The boy stares at their hands, and then back at Hyunwoo, and he sees that look. That look that Kihyun always finds him wearing, the look that Minhyuk was talking about -- the one where he thinks Kihyun is the most precious thing on Planet Earth, and that he would risk anything if only to put a smile on his face.

He feels the gush of emotions before Hyunwoo even utters anything, but when the older man grabs onto him harder, and strains his features as the words tumble out, Kihyun finds that he is completely wrecked.

“Will you go out with me? I promise I’ll take good care of you. Always.”

And Kihyun seems to feel his walls building up, only this time the walls come in the form of a human named Son Hyunwoo, the rock-hard human wall encasing him in warmth, protecting him from everything outside of his happy little bubble.

And he doesn’t know why the thought of it reduces him to tears.

Hyunwoo is flustered when Kihyun starts crying again, because God knows it’s impossible to see the boy cry -- he’s too tough, even for the saddest of movies -- and Hyunwoo’s managed to do that to him thrice single-handedly.

He scurries to his side immediately, and when Kihyun falls straight into his arms, he doesn’t say a word. His chest aches, the pain coming in waves, receding only to wash back up again, and he thinks maybe he might have chosen the wrong words. Maybe he shouldn’t have said that. Was it not romantic enough?

Kihyun is a blubbering sobbing mess in his embrace, and Hyunwoo holds him, like all the other times he has, willing him to calm down, being the solid rock for him to anchor himself upon.

When Kihyun looks back up at him with tear-filled eyes, something in Hyunwoo breaks, and then pieces back up again. He reaches out to wipe at the tears under his eyes with his thumb, and Kihyun sniffles softly, leans his cheek into the cradle of his palm.

“Why are you crying, baby?”

Kihyun shakes his head quietly, his hair rustling against Hyunwoo’s hand. “How did I --” He breathes. Tries again. “How did I -- get so lucky?”

Hyunwoo stares at him, seeking elaboration. The answer comes in a whisper, and snatches all of Hyunwoo’s breaths away.

“You.” Kihyun’s voice is like a feather’s, soft, light, and it tickles Hyunwoo’s chest. “How did I land up with you?”

Hyunwoo breaks into the kind of smile that Kihyun is forced to mirror. “I was just about to say the same with you.”

Kihyun chuckles through his tears, and Hyunwoo chews on his lower lip, wipes away more of his tears, and stills. “You still didn’t tell me why you cried.”

The silver-haired boy shrugs. “I don’t know. When you told me you’d take care of me.”

Hyunwoo stares. “And I mean it.”

Kihyun smiles, his gaze gentle. “I know.” He pulls up his hand and cups Hyunwoo’s hand against his face, and leans into it some more. “I think you maybe poked a sore spot, or something. I don’t think I’ve had anyone said something like that to me, and even if they did, I don’t think I fully believed any of them.”

Hyunwoo frowns a little, and Kihyun pulls out his other hand to press his thumb against the fold between his brows. “Why wouldn’t they?”

Kihyun smiles again, this time a little tight. “I don’t know. Maybe I just want to be babied, you know.  Protected? It’s not very consistent with my personality, but I guess it’s nice to know that there’s someone out there who will care about you when you don’t care for yourself.”

Kihyun laughs when Hyunwoo flexes, and the hold on his face tightens a little. “It’s okay.”

Hyunwoo is looking at Kihyun with those eyes again. Impassioned, he grits his teeth together. “I’ll take care of you. No matter what,” he says it so fiercely that it makes a few more tears spring into Kihyun’s eyes, and he chortles as he slaps Hyunwoo on the arm.

“Stop making me cry some more.”

And Hyunwoo would find it in himself to laugh, only there is a small rip in his chest knowing that Kihyun -- ever so strong -- has a spot in him that practically yearns for protection, that he traverses along life searching for the right harbour to set port at, only for a shelter to fend him away from the moody and stormy days.

And while that is, to a certain extent, adorable, it is more painful knowing that Kihyun put on a farce all the time, pretending like he had his shit together, like he knew better than everyone, yet all he wanted was for someone to look out for him permanently.

He suddenly understands Kihyun’s attachment to Minhyuk. Minhyuk was that person for him -- still is -- but Minhyuk had his own life, his own relationship, his own lover that isn’t Kihyun to care for.

And Hyunwoo wants to -- he would be honoured to be that presence in Kihyun’s life. The pillar for him to lean on, the support for him to cling onto.

He’s never felt a stronger sense of protectiveness over the boy than now, the teary-eyed boy who still smiles despite everything he’s been through, the boy who shines the brightest when the ends of his lips pulls up, and his eyes hold the universe in them.

So Hyunwoo finds the answer to his confession in their touches. He kisses him, because he doesn’t know how else to express himself, and when Kihyun melts into his touch, dinner is forgotten, only each other’s fevered skin left to savour.

Kihyun moulds himself against every curve and snap of Hyunwoo’s hand, folds himself into the spaces and meets Hyunwoo where he stops.

When he kisses Kihyun again as the boy arches his back at the perfect angle, Hyunwoo tells him that he loves him, and Kihyun cries, again. This time, Hyunwoo kisses all his tears away as he buries fingernail marks into his hips, swallowing his sobs and claiming them as his own.

*****

“No one told me that when they became boyfriends they would be disgusting,” Jooheon is making faces on the side, while Hyungwon and Minhyuk are just looking on like members of the audience. Kihyun is halfway through feeding Hyunwoo a sandwich, and at Jooheon’s jab, he throws him a glare.

“In case you didn’t realise, my man is trying to set up tent while these two good-for-nothings,” he looks over to Hyungwon and Minhyuk who just shrug, “sit around under a tree and talk about stupid things.”

“The debate on which kind of Coca-Cola is not stupid, Kihyun!” Minhyuk rebukes, and the silver-haired boy only manages to fume. He loves Minhyuk, he really does, but then there are also times where he feels like wrangling his thin neck and forcing all the air out of his smug little face.

“Did you just call him ‘my man’? Hyung, I thought you were supposed to be normal.”

Kihyun is this close to picking up a shoe and throwing it at Jooheon. “I am normal. Why do you never say shit about those two over there?” He stares at Minhyuk and Hyungwon again, aggrieved. Hyunwoo continues munching on his sandwich and he pushes the poles through the holes in the tent.

“I don’t know. I guess I’m not as involved in their relationship? One day Minhyuk hyung and you were friends with benefits, the next day he has Hyungwon hyung as a boyfriend? It just… there wasn’t much of a role for me.”

“So what you’re saying is that I shouldn’t have brought Hyunwoo back with me to the apartment so you could sob in front of him on your first meeting?”

Jooheon frowns. “Hey! That’s a low kick!”

And so setting up tent becomes Hyunwoo’s sole project as Jooheon chases Kihyun around the campsite, and Minhyuk and Hyungwon just look upon them as they munch on their snacks.

*****

“You need to learn to relax.” Hyunwoo glances over to Kihyun who is playing with his fingers, kneading them nervously in his lap.

“That might be a little difficult.” He groans. “I need to pee again.”

“Kihyun.”

“I pee a lot when I’m nervous, okay? Could we stop at the next pit stop?” Kihyun asks, picking at his fingernails this time, and Hyunwoo sighs. “Of course, baby.”

They’re on their way back to Kihyun’s small hometown, in a neighbourhood where everyone knows everyone else. Kihyun is bringing a friend home for the first time, someone who isn’t Minhyuk, but is someone who holds an equal amount of importance -- if not more -- in his life.

It’s safe to say he’s nervous. His palms are sweating at an impossible rate, and no amount of assuring words will calm him down. Deep inside, he thinks he’s still a young boy anxious for his parents’ affirmation, and while he’s always been a strong believer of standing up for himself, he knows that this time it won’t be easy.

It’s not as if he had wanted to win them over. There wasn’t anything to win; he’s gay, and no amount of his parents’ lectures was going to change that, but perhaps what he sought was some degree of acceptance. It may be a tall order, but he’s ran away from it for decades now, the initial phase of denying it for himself, and then denying the fact that his parents absolutely needed to know.

He’s been in a relationship with Hyunwoo for two years now, not counting all the time they’ve spent together in a different context. That was a stable relationship, wasn’t it? It isn’t a flaky fling that he had, not a casual friend he sometimes goes on dates with.

He’s serious about going out with Hyunwoo. He’s in a stable, healthy relationship with an older man. Only the problem isn’t with their relationship, but obviously the gender of said person he’s in a relationship with.

He washes his hand by the basin at the pit stop’s restroom, and looks himself in the mirror. He looks good. Better than he’s ever looked, if he’s honest, and hopefully he’ll be able to convince his parents that Hyunwoo is good for him. The best thing that has happened to him. He chews on his lower lip as he stares at himself some more, and wonders if it’ll work out at all. Maybe he and Hyunwoo will have to spend the night at some local motel because Kihyun is being kicked out on the first day home.

He breathes. Silver lining: at least Hyunwoo is here, and he can cry in his sturdy arms for as long as he wants.

When he returns to the car, Hyunwoo has a bag of sweet potatoes, and Kihyun’s mood is lifted almost immediately at the sight of food. The car ride along the highway is peaceful and Hyunwoo embellishes it with small talk, questions about Kihyun’s brother and his parents, and a few of his childhood memories.

When they reach his house, the sky is turning dark, and the sweet potatoes are left with only their skins. The tension comes back, rattling Kihyun’s core, and he may blame it on the cold, but Hyunwoo sees him shaking, and identifies it as apprehension.

“Hey.”

Hyunwoo reaches out, like all the other times he’s reached out to stabilise Kihyun, to be his source of light, pointing him in the right direction, holds him in his place, and leads him all the way back home, back to where Hyunwoo is, in his warm arms that fend him from the world.

The silver-haired boy looks up at him, and Hyunwoo’s eyes are kind, soft, and the gentlest he’s ever seen. “It’ll be alright. I’m here, remember?”

There is so much conviction in his words that Kihyun cannot help but believe him, and he remembers Hyunwoo’s promise of taking care of him. He feels at ease slowly, and he holds Hyunwoo’s gaze with the same tenderness, the tremor in his hand growing weaker.

Hyunwoo’s thumb goes over the ridges of his knuckles, and in his eyes swims an affection he’d never want to see anywhere else. “Okay,” he whispers, and when Hyunwoo breaks into a exulting smile, Kihyun can’t help but to tag along.

They hold hands when they step out of the car, the wind bringing along a nip in their flesh. Hyunwoo holds Kihyun by his side, sheltering him, holding him close.

As they ring the doorbell to Kihyun’s house, Hyunwoo wonders what lies in store for them.