Taeil’s eyes fluttered open at the sound of his name. For a moment he was blinded by the bright light coming from the lamps on the ceiling. When his hands threaded through the soft fabric of the sheets on top of him, he realized that he was lying in a bed. Once his eyes were adjusted to the light and his surroundings came into focus, there was a woman sitting in a chair next to his bed, who he didn’t recognize.
“I see you’re finally awake.” The monotonous voice of the woman broke the silence.
Taeil blinked a few times as his eyes settled on the woman, who was holding a board in her hands, her clothes light and unwrinkled, like she was in a work environment. His first attempt to talk failed, but when he tried the second time, words finally left his lips. They sounded awfully strained.
“Y-yes. Where…” and he swallowed as he looked around the room. The only thing that was noticeably present was the huge painting of a vase with yellow and orange flowers hanging on the wall that he was facing. “Where am I?”
The woman’s face didn’t change, but she let out a breath that Taeil interpreted as a sigh. “You’re in a rehab centrum, Moon Taeil. Do you remember why?”
Rehab? Taeil’s brows furrowed in confusion, trying to wrack his brain over what could’ve possibly happened. “I-I don’t-“
Suddenly Taeil’s hands shot to his chest on instinct when such an immense amount of pain emerged in his chest, that he was left breathless. His breathing came out fast and ragged and his eyes teared up at the intense feeling that seemed to rip apart his insides.
The woman didn’t seem to be fazed by the behavior, because she continued talking. “You overdosed on Love. Right now you're experiencing the withdrawal effects. You’re lucky to be alive.”
Taeil barely registered the words as memories flooded his senses like a movie cut into pieces. Light brown strands getting further and further away from him. The sound of a gunshot. A scream, not his.
Outside the sudden images, experienced feelings came with them. There was a longing feeling. A painful feeling. Feelings he couldn’t even attempt to explain as he tried to get himself together. All of them ran through Taeil’s body at once and he gasped when one face in particular became clear in his mind. It was like a picture, burned into the back of his eyes. The picture of a beautiful man, with a soft smile, dimples in his cheeks and with a body like a model.
Someone who learned him how to live. How to love.
4 months prior
It was dark in the streets of the outskirts of Seoul. Some lampposts were giving off a buzzing orange light, others weren’t working at all or flickered in an almost threatening way. The moon was almost full and the stars were shining brightly in the night sky as there were no clouds to make them disappear. There were barely people out at this hour and except for the cars that passed by so now and then, it was fairly quiet.
Taeil didn’t care about any of it.
The only thing he wanted right now was go home and fall on his bed after taking a hot shower. He had worked over hours in the office, which resulted in more salary, but it also meant he had only left the gray and dull-looking building at eleven.
Taeil sighed as he walked along the pavement. It had been a tiring day.
It had become a normality in his life lately. Being tired and feeling unfulfilled. There wasn’t really anything he enjoyed, to a certain extent. No it was just…
And it worried him slightly. He had always been someone who wanted to work and study hard to achieve everything that was in his possibility. Heavy emotions didn’t play a role in his life anymore, so he had the opportunity to follow his dreams without being distracted by unnecessary feelings. He did exactly what he was supposed to do, what everyone expected of him and what he expected of himself. But even if he didn’t know how True Happiness felt and didn’t really wanted to know how it felt either, he still wasn’t even remotely happy.
Around a hundred years ago the world had been a mess. People dropped out of university or stopped working more and more. The cause: depression. And some countries had taken action, thinking it was getting out of hand. They decided to take on the Anti Emotion Policy. Scientific research had pointed out that emotions were the cause of all the misery inside people’s minds. It caused disturbance in life, be it public or private, and Korea among other Asian countries had taken on the policy as an experiment.
It turned out to be a success and not many years later the policy had been fully accepted and every inhabitant was forced to participate. There was no free will in the matter. Taeil thought that if he had lived back then, that he would’ve participated voluntarily anyway.
Because it was either take your pills or die.
Of course not everyone was happy with it, but Taeil knew The Uprising was a dangerous topic to talk and even think about. His parents and he himself didn’t know any better than living like they did now. His emotions had been dulled right from the beginning and he didn’t mind. He learned what True Emotions were, but only on a theoretical base, from textbooks. It was interesting, but Taeil never longed to have them.
No, he was satisfied with working hard without distractions. Who needed jealousy or shame or even love to hold you back or make life harder? Taeil didn’t need it. Of course there were some emotions that were needed in order to make life stable, such as fear, sadness, happiness. He all knew them and had experienced them, but they were there in a more restrained way than all those years ago. He would never know what True Sadness or True Happiness feels like.
Taeil thought that was a good thing. He remembered when his cousin died in a car accident. They had been pretty close and he had been sad. It was the first time he had ever cried and it had been a weird experience. His parents had been shocked as well when they saw it and had taken him to a doctor to prescribe some medicine immediately. It was, again, a moment in which Taeil was thankful for not having True Emotions.
Taeil looked at his digital watch to see it was nearing half past eleven. He still had to walk at least ten minutes to his apartment.
He lived alone in a small apartment on the second floor of a large complex. He huffed in annoyance. Why was he so agitated lately? Nothing seemed to be good enough, nothing seemed to brighten his days only for a bit. There was just this empty feeling in his gut, that no amount of achievements seemed to fill.
Maybe he should call a doctor. There was obviously something wrong with him.
He was pulled out of his thoughts when he suddenly heard a loud crash behind him. Taeil whipped around to see a man stumbling over a trash bin from one of the alleyways he just passed. He was obviously in a rush because once he regained his footing, he started running.
Straight at Taeil.
“You!” the man yelled while running at him. It was a hoarse voice, thick from exhaustion and adrenaline from running for a long time and Taeil’s eyes widened as he realized it was directed at him.
He took a hesitant step backwards, a light shiver of fear running down his spine. His eyes widened when he saw the pocket knife in the man’s hand.
Time seemed to stand still for a moment as the man came nearer. The situation seemed to hold Taeil’s limbs captive and didn’t let him move from his spot. The man’s pursuer became visible as well. It was a hooded male, running, no rather sprinting after the man with the pocketknife. And so, also towards Taeil.
It was a weird situation and Taeil surprised himself by still thinking so clearly. The man had almost reached him and was already drawing his arm back to stab him, which Taeil thought was totally unfair and unnecessary, because he had done nothing to provoke him. He was just an innocent bystander. But that didn’t seem to faze the man.
Taeil raised his arms to his face instinctively. If he was going to be stabbed, then not in his face. That wouldn’t be a way he wanted to die. He still looked with trembling eyes at the other, hooded, pursuer, who was now standing still.
But not because he was giving up, no, he was aiming something at the other man’s back. Taeil noticed the flickering of the orange lanternlight on metal.
It was a gun.
But his attention, through a gap between his arms, was now on the pocketknife man who couldn't be further away than two meters. The arm with the knife came down in slow-motion and Taeil closed his eyes tightly, an overwhelming feeling of fear taking hold of his gut as he waited for the inevitable moment the steel would hit his chest or stomach. True Emotions or not, the fear of losing your life apparently hadn’t disappeared.
Was this is? Was this the end?
It was a bit of a late realization, but he didn’t want to die.
Taeil shrieked when suddenly someone pushed him away roughly and he fell to the ground, hard, his side hitting the asphalt of the street, making him lose his breath momentarily. It felt like a dream as his mind was all over the place and his body still refused to move.
“Yuta put the fucking gun away!” Taeil heard someone yell and then there was the sound of fighting.
He had to get out of here.
So he slowly pushed himself up with the palms of his hands after which he crawled to the pavement so he at least wouldn’t get run over by a car. Then he stood up with trembling legs.
He looked up to see a guy with light brown hair, wearing a leather jacket and ripped jeans holding down the man who had been so close to stabbing him just a moment ago. The guy looked over his shoulder at Taeil, giving him a smile, or more a smirk, before punching the aggressor in the face rather harshly, knocking him out cold immediately.
After that the guy in the leather jacket flexed his hand a few times. The hooded guy, who had been watching wordlessly, walked closer and once again took out his gun to point it at the unconscious man’s head.
“I will fucking kill you,” he growled.
“Yuta! stop it right now!”
The hooded stranger called Yuta turned towards his friend(?) angrily, and carelessly waved with the hand that was holding the gun.
“Jaehyun, he fucking touched Taeyong.” Then he gritted his teeth and put two hands on the trigger to aim it at the man on the ground again. “I’m not letting him get away with it.” But even Taeil could see that his hands were shaking badly.
“If you do this, I’ll stop supplying you, because it means you don’t have your emotions under control. Remember what you promised me?” The other said with crossed arms, his voice neutral, but not as neutral as people usually sounded.
Then Yuta turned towards him, and Taeil noticed the other’s bags under his eyes, his tensed up shoulders and the almost murderous look he was giving him. “Who the fuck are you, and what do you think you’re staring at?”
“Nothing,” Taeil quickly said while taking another step backwards.
“Fuck,” Yuta wheezed as the realization finally settled in, “he heard you saying that, Jaehyun. Fuck!” Yuta started to pace around. “He can’t go to the police. He can’t…” And then - to Taeil’s shock - the gun was turned towards him.
“Yuta!” Jaehyun warned him, and he locked eyes with Taeil for a second, before turning back to Yuta, “You go back to Taeyong, I’ll take care of him.”
Yuta seemed to think about it for a moment and let out a frustrated scream. “Fucking fine.” And with that he stormed away, back towards the alley he originally came from.
“You okay?” Came the sudden worried question as the guy called Jaehyun looked him up and down.
Taeil nodded quickly. “Y-yes.” And he bowed. “Thank you for saving me. I-“ He moved himself upright again. “I’m not…” He gestured to the unconscious man under Jaehyun’s foot awkwardly. “You know, calling the police.”
Jaehyun just shot him an apologetic smile, “That would be nice. Sorry for the inconvenience.” Then there was a pause, followed by, “are you really okay? It was a pretty traumatic experience.”
“I’m okay, really.” Why was this man insisting on making sure he was okay so much? Taeil just wanted to go home if he was honest. The fear he had felt earlier, had left his body completely.
Jaehyun scratched the back of his neck. “I know. Sometimes I forget that you all don’t have True emotions.”
What did he mean by that? Taeil cocked his head a little to the side. “Uh… okay,” Taeil said. Then he pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. “Is it okay if I… leave?”
Jaehyun’s expression turned from surprised to apologetic again. Taeil was astonished at how many times his expression had changed during their short conversation - It was intriguing. Very much so. He’d never seen someone’s facial muscles move so much with every different word they said. Jaehyun waved his hand dismissively
“Yeah, go ahead. I’m not going to kidnap you or something.”
It was almost said with a laugh, and Taeil thought that there was something off about this guy. He had to be careful.
“What are you going to do to him?” And Taeil nudged his head to the guy.
Again multiple expressions crossed Jaehyun’s face and Taeil couldn’t place them all.
“I think it’s better for you to go.”
The dangerous glint in the other’s eyes made Taeil shiver involuntarily, and without saying anything else, he turned on his heels and walked away from the scene.
Even though Taeil could forget the nasty incident rather quickly, he somehow couldn’t get the picture of Jaehyun out of his head. Lately he had been paying closer attention to others, searching for different emotions, but never did he really see the rich expressions he had seen on the man with the dimpled smile.
“Taeil-hyung, you’re staring.”
Taeil blinked a few times as he was shaken out of his thought. It was said in a casual way, and when Taeil met his coworker's eyes, he noticed the other’s eyes were twinkling with something that looked like…
“Do I have something on my face?” Sicheng asked further and Taeil shook his head.
“No Sicheng, you don’t.” And he patted his shoulder. “I shouldn’t have. Let’s get back to work.”
Sicheng smiled at him and nodded. Why hadn’t he noticed the younger’s bright expressions before? It was a bit out of place in their working environment, but it was evident that Sicheng seemed livelier than others. Than him.
Before Sicheng walked away, Taeil called after him. “Sicheng.”
“What is it, hyung?”
“Do you…” and he hesitated for a bit, “do you enjoy life?”
“Huh?” Sicheng asked confusingly. His facial expression changed a little, more than his own would, less than Jaehyun’s would. “Enjoy life? Well…” Then he smiled again, “Well, yes I do.”
Taeil leaned closer to his coworker, and brought down the volume of his voice. “Don’t smile so much here, I don’t want to see you into trouble. Maybe you should see a doctor and take some pills. You’re shining very brightly these days, Sicheng.”
Sicheng took a step backwards at his words, his face still the same as a moment ago. He looked around the room at the other coworkers who were just silently working on their computers. He nodded absentmindedly and his eyes stopped twinkling.
“Yeah… maybe I should, thank you.” With those words the lanky, Chinese man walked away quickly.
Somehow Taeil felt a little bad.
Okay, he should definitely see a doctor.
Curiosity had been a human’s trait from the moment they started to be rational beings. But along with the restrainment of emotions, so went away a large part of that exact curiosity - There was no desire to explore the world, to find love or to discover every little thing in life anymore.
Somehow on his way back home from the office, Taeil still stopped in front of the alleyway where the man that had attacked him yesterday had come from. Taeil briefly wondered if that Jaehyun had killed the man. He didn’t seem capable of it, and killing was highly uncommon these days, since there were no such things as jealousy of grudges being held anymore.
But still, the unreadable expression the brown haired male had carried made Taeil suspicious.
It was late at night again and Taeil hid behind the wall to peek around the corner. There were some men standing in the darkness of the small street. They weren’t really subtle out it, and their voices were quite loud as they were discussing something.
“I was wondering if I’d see you again,” came a voice behind him, and Taeil jumped, his heart jumping with him to his throat. He quickly turned around to see Jaehyun standing - or rather leaning - against the wall, his arms crossed, a lazy smile on his face.
Taeil breathed out in relief with a hand covering his chest. However, before he could say something, he heard a series of shouting coming from the alley, and again the sound surprised Taeil.
“Why are they so angry?” Taeil asked while peeking behind the corner again. Jaehyun grabbed his shirt and pulled him backwards.
“Don’t do that.” And when Taeil met Jaehyun’s eyes, they were sparkling with amusement. It reminded him of Sicheng earlier that day. “And I guess you don’t do ‘hellos’, but it’s okay, I guess,” Jaehyun said with a roll of his eyes.
“It’s what Love does with people,” Jaehyun said challengingly.
Love. It was a strictly forbidden drug that made people act like hooligans and made them irresponsible human beings. It had been an emotion that had existed all those years ago. The whole situation should’ve surprised Taeil. The name of the drug alone should’ve made him run away. But it did neither.
Love was the only emotion that had disappeared completely within people, while the rest of them existed in a restrained way. Taeil had always found it an interesting thing. Even more so because of the fact that even textbooks barely spoke about it. The only thing he knew about the emotion was that children were being conceived through it back then. Nowadays, a man’s seed was just injected into a woman’s womb, so no sexual activity had to take place anymore. Luckily.
Taeil studied Jaehyun. “Are you perhaps affiliated with those men?”
“Hmm not affiliated directly, but I guess in a way.”
“But you don’t look…”
“Like a criminal? Isn’t that more logical though? I think, if I really looked like a junkie, I would’ve been in jail a long time ago.”
Taeil nodded in understanding, which was weird, because this guy basically admitted being a criminal right in front of him. But just the way Jaehyun acted was enough to pull Taeil in somehow.
“You’re their dealer?”
Jaehyun’s eyes widened and he uncrossed his arms, looking to the side nervously. Taeil watched his expressions with interest. “How did you-“
“Know? I’m not totally stupid. You’re not affiliated directly and you seem the only… sane one. You seem more responsible and calm, characteristics that are suitable and needed for someone with a higher status in this circuit.”
Jaehyun whistled at his words. “You sure know your stuff.”
Taeil shrugged and decided on his next question.
“Did you kill that man?”
Again that unreadable expression appeared. “Well, wouldn’t you like to know?”
“I would,” Taeil said back. “That’s why I asked, right?”
Jaehyun sighed heavily. “Ah I keep forgetting that y’all don’t get or appreciate sarcasm.” He kicked the wall a few times with his foot. “I’m not going to tell you what I did, sorry.”
“Oh,” Taeil just said. He felt his fingers suddenly tingle as another question was burning on his tongue. “Why does your face move so much?”
That pulled a laugh out of Jaehyun. “My face moves? How’s that so?”
Somehow a twinge of annoyance settled in Taeil’s stomach. “It just moves.” And he gestured to the other man’s face. “I’ve never seen it do that on other people.”
That seemed to make Jaehyun understand. “Oh.” Another laugh. The dimples in his cheeks were showing, and it made Taeil unable to look away. “Hmm it’s a secret,” the other said mishievously. Then he thought for a second, before stepping a little closer to Taeil. “You sure are curious. Well, okay I will tell you… but only if you try it out yourself.”
“Try out what?”
Taeil immediately shook his head. He needed to stay as far away from this criminal ordeal as possible. He was already being irresponsible by talking to a drug dealer. Something he still didn’t understand. Was this curiosity? He wanted to know every answer. Why was this Jaehyun so different? Why was Love something people liked? Why was he interested?
But he still valued his life.
“I think I need to go,” Taeil said more softly than earlier, but before he could leave, Jaehyun grabbed his wrist, making the shorter male turn around once again.
“Don’t you feel… empty inside?" Jaehyun asked him while looking deeply in his eyes. "Don’t you feel like you’re not really living? Love can change that. It changes everything and everyone.”
All of a sudden Taeil felt more uncomfortable than ever before.
Taeil pulled his hand out of the other’s grasp, and without saying anything back, he almost ran all the way home. The questions Jaehyun had asked were engraved in his mind and didn’t let him go in his sleep, nor in the following days. Rather, it made him even more agitated and annoyed at his surroundings. He tried to ignore it, but the empty feeling Jaehyun had asked about - it was as if he could look straight into his body and his feelings - only grew at the knowledge that there was a possible remedy.
A week later Taeil resolutely stepped into the dark alleyway. A few shady looking men looked at him aggressively and it made him feel a bit out of place and uncomfortable. Once he spotted Jaehyun talking to another man, he ignored his surroundings and walked straight at him.
Jaehyun looked up from his conversation when his partner looked at Taeil incredulously and when his eyes settled on the shorter male, he quickly hid a pouch with pills inside his jacket and let out a nervous chuckle. He glared at Taeil though and grabbed him by the back of his collar, dragging him out of the alley with an. “I’ll be back in a second.” Directed to the other man.
“What are you doing here?” Jaehyun asked with a huff once they were back on the regular street.
Taeil shook his head. “I- I don’t know…” a silence followed in which Taeil was gathering his thoughts on exactly why he had decided to come back.
He decided to start with the one thing that had bothered him every single day in the last week.
“How did you know? How did you know how I feel? I never told anyone.” His hands went to his chest unconsciously with a frown on his face. “I don’t know why it bothers me this much. but this feeling… it doesn’t go away. And it doesn’t make sense, because I have everything I could wish for, I-“ Jaehyun’s eyes were soft and understanding when Taeil looked up at him, searching for an answer.
“I just know. I’ve seen it happen before.” The dealer said with a sigh, “I believe it bounds to happen to everyone eventually. Humans were never supposed to live without love in the first place.”
“That’s not true. my life is just fine, all good, nothing wrong. I probably need to call a doctor.” Taeil said back.
“Then why haven’t you yet?” Jaehyun challenged him calmly. “You could have, but somewhere you know that it won’t help. You keep coming back here. Why do you think that is?”
“Because something just…” and Taeil was getting more and more desperate, not understanding himself at all.
“Don’t you get it?” Jaehyun continued, “It’s love that they wiped from our existence. It’s the sole reason every emotion in us is gone. Because love, love heightens everything. It brings out the best and the worst in us. I think, unconsciously, you’re searching for the real life experience and not just this empty shell that everyone think is oh so good.”
“Why are you a drug dealer? Why are you so keen on making people addicted to something illegal?” Taeil said back in a borderline accusing tone, trying to ignore the wise words the other just said. Jaehyun shook his head.
“It’s not because I want people to get addicted. I can tell you all about it. All about me, all about what it is that makes Love something beautiful. But I can only do that when you try it out yourself.”
Taeil shook his head and opened his mouth to say something. However, the drug dealer started talking before he could.
“And before you’re going to refuse and keep telling me how much of a bad person I am, remember you voluntarily stepped into that dark alley to confront me. You can’t tell me it was just to ask me a simple question. Somewhere you’re tempted to try it out and you know it.”
“I’m not-“ Taeil started weakly, but the realization that Jaehyun could be right hit him hard and scared him.
“What’s your name?” Jaehyun asked him then, out of nowhere.
“Taeil, Moon Taeil.” He said without hesitation. Why? Why was he doing this? There was a small spark in his gut. Was it because it was dangerous? Because it was not allowed? Because he still wanted it despite that?
“Well then Taeil,” Jaehyun said with an knowing and amused smile, again showing his dimples, “let me offer you this. I’ll give you one dose for free to try it out. You never have to come back here again after that if you don’t want to. I just want to show you what you’re missing out on. It’s not that you have something to lose. You won’t lose your job, nor your lack of emotions. In the best case you learn a new experience and find something worth living for.”
When Jaehyun put it like that it was indeed very tempting. And the fact that Jaehyun was giving it him for free meant he wasn’t doing it to get money out of it.
“Say…” Taeil began tentatively, “I wanted to try it. What’s in it for you? What do you want in return?” Taeil wasn’t as naïve as to think there existed something like selflessness.
At this Jaehyun smirked at him.
“I want to see who you really are, Moon Taeil.”
The first thing Taeil noticed when he walked through the big and heavy black door situated in the back of the alleyway, was the music. Music wasn’t illegal necessarily, but it wasn’t appreciated at all in daily life. It didn’t add anything valuable and Taeil had never listened to music voluntarily. So having loud music blast through a room that smelled like sweaty bodies and alcohol was not something that reassured Taeil that he was indeed doing the right thing.
Not that taking drugs was a good thing…
The next thing he noticed was even more shocking.
His eyes were drawn to two men somewhere on the side of the room. They were kissing and weren’t subtle about it as their hands were all over each other and their mouths were glued to each other tightly. What were they doing? Did they have any idea how dangerous that was?
Jaehyun saw his shocked look and chuckled. “Not something you see every day right?”
“W-why would they want to do that?” Taeil asked. He couldn’t believe it was a nice thing at all.
“Because it makes them feel good.”
“I can’t believe that feels good.”
Jaehyun wrapped an arm around his shoulder and Taeil flinched at the sudden proximity. Then the other led him to what seemed like a bar. There were a few men and women talking loudly, laughing, eyes twinkling. Loud and slurred phrases left their lips and Taeil wasn’t impressed at all. Was this really worth doing something illegal for?
“You, Taeil, still have a lot to learn.”
Left and right people shot him confused and judging looks, while they greeted Jaehyun respectfully. The brown haired man led Taeil to another room, behind the bar. When the door closed behind them Taeil got a little nervous.
Jaehyun left his side and walked to a storage closet to open it. Taeil could see different tubes, syringes and even pills lying in the boxes on various shelves.
“You would get a lifetime in prison for this if someone finds out.” Taeil said monotonously.
Jaehyun just hummed and pulled out a syringe and filled it with a red liquid. It looked almost like blood, except that the color was a little lighter and less thick. Jaehyun tapped the needle a few times. Then he turned to Taeil again, his eyes expectant.
“I mean normally pills work just fine, but for the first time I always recommend to let it enter your blood stream immediately for a quick effect.”
Taeil gulped as he stared at the syringe. “So that’s Love?”
Jaehyun nodded. “it is.”
“And you?” Taeil asked him, “Are you taking it as well?”
“I don’t need it.” Jaehyun simply said as if it was normal, “I’ve taken it before, but it doesn't have any effect on me.”
Then why was he a Love dealer in the first place, when he didn’t even know what it felt like? Things were turning out like he hoped less and less. Upon seeing Taeil doubts, Jaehyun quickly added. “Take it and I tell you why. I’m not forcing you to, but I can’t tell it without this in your system.”
Taeil looked at the door and then back at Jaehyun who looking at him encouragingly. He thought about the empty feeling he dealt with every day. With a sigh he stretched out his arm after removing his jacket and dropping it on the floor.
“Please be quick about it.”
Jaehyun took hold of his arm carefully and brought the needle to the crook of his arm. He hesitated a moment before finally inserting the needle into Taeil’s skin and bringing the red liquid right into his vein.
Taeil gasped softly at the sensation, not tearing his eyes away from his arm. When the little tube at the end of the injection needle was completely empty the needle left his arm and Jaehyun walked to the end of the room to throw the needle away. Taeil flexed his arm a few times in the meantime.
He tried to focus on a change in his body, maybe even in his mind. But there was nothing, not even a spark. Instead he felt even more empty at the disappointment.
“Why isn’t it working? I don’t feel anything.” Taeil asked almost irritably.
It angered him further when Jaehyun walked back to him with a roll of his eyes and a smile on his face.
“Love is not something you experience yourself. You feel it together with someone else. But beside that… it’s already working. Your expressions are changing visibly this time. At first I didn’t understand when you asked me why my face was moving so much, but now I finally see you showing actual emotions, I finally get it.”
“T-together?” Taeil stuttered, “With who? I don’t know anyone here except for you!” there suddenly was an anxious feeling in his gut. Wasn’t love supposed to feel good? “And my face…” he touched his forehead and his cheeks. “What’s wrong with it?”
“Nothing is wrong, Taeil.” Jaehyun said with a sigh. then he stretched out his hand. “Come on. I’ll introduce you to some people who can help you experience it all.” As Taeil hesitantly laid his hand in Jaehyun’s larger one, he suddenly felt something and couldn’t help but jump at the feeling.
It was a warm spark in his chest.
“Yuta! can you come over for a bit?” Jaehyun yelled over the music when they were standing somewhere on the side of the warm and packed room.
Yuta? it sounded familiar…
To his shock one of the guys who he had spotted kissing earlier, looked up and skipped over to them, taking the other boy, who’s pink hair was vibrant and in contrast with everyone else’s hair, with him by the hand.
When Taeil and Yuta locked eyes, the shorter realized that this had been the hooded guy from a week ago. The guy who had pointed a gun at him. And suddenly he was surprised that it scared him. He had forgotten all about the incident before, but now it felt like he had experienced it just a moment ago, the feeling of almost dying settling deep in the pit of his stomach.
“Oh?” Yuta said surprised, but happily. Scared or not, Taeil couldn’t really tear his eyes away from this Yuta. he looked completely different from the last time he saw him.
He looked so alive. Not tense and nervous. He looked carefree.
“Taeil, I believe you two already met under different circumstances, but this is Yuta” And Jaehyun gestured to Yuta, who shot Taeil an apologetic look, scratching the back of his neck. “Ah yeah… I’m sorry for that. I wasn’t really myself back then.” Taeil just nodded, still a bit amazed by the difference.
Jaehyun then pointed to the pink haired guy. “And this is another good friend of mine, Taeyong.”
Taeyong waved at him with a smile and Taeil hesitantly waved back. Somehow he felt really overwhelmed by looking at this guy. He was just so…
“Yuta, Taeyong, this is Taeil.” Jaehyun told the two. Then he turned to Yuta with a dimpled smile. “I was wondering… this is his first time taking Love, could you learn him a thing or two? You know, guide him through it? I need to take care of some things.” Then he turned to Taeyong. “Sorry Tae, I hope you don’t mind? I don’t want you to strain yourself.”
“It’s okay.” the guy called Taeyong said with a soft smile and a dismissive wave of his hand.
“Y-you’re so pretty.” Taeil suddenly uttered. He had never really felt like actually having an opinion about anything, such as art and music. But now everything he was seeing and feeling was so… heightened. The music in the room was terrible for example and this guy, or both of these guys, were stunning.
Taeyong’s eyes widened before he chuckled.
“Thank you. This is your first time right?” and Taeil nodded, “You’ll be alright with the right guidance. It can all be pretty overwhelming, but I assure you, you’ll love it. You will love everything.” His voice was soft, with a nice ring to it. Then Taeyong kissed Yuta’s cheek and walked away.
Suddenly Taeil felt very aware of Yuta’s stare on him. Again their eyes met and Taeil noticed the grey lenses the other was wearing that gave his eyes an extra sparkly effect. Then Yuta smiled and grabbed his hand unexpectedly.
He felt his stomach flip.
“Just the usual?” Yuta asked Jaehyun, who hummed in agreement.
“Yeah nothing too heavy. I think he’s pretty sensitive.”
Yuta smirked at that and put his other hand to his head in a saluting manner. “Got it! Only kissing allowed.”
“W-wha-“ Taeil said with wide eyes. He didn’t understand what the others were talking about exactly, but he did know it was about him. he pulled his arm back a bit, but Yuta didn’t let go.
“Let’s go.” He said instead and started pulling at Taeil’s hand while walking, almost skipping, backwards. Taeil shot a worried look at Jaehyun over his shoulder. The other just waved and laughed. Taeil could only blink at the sight. He was pulled to the middle of the room where different people were either talking or moving on the music. They stopped and once again and Yuta stood right in front of him. He didn’t let go of his hand, but instead brought it to his lips and kissed the skin on top of it.
With a squeak Taeil pulled back his hand. “What was that for!?” he almost yelled and Yuta just laughed at him. It was a lighter sound then his usual voice and his teeth showed while doing so. It was really attractive. Taeil felt his face heating up. In awe he placed his palms against his cheeks.
Why did his face feel so warm?
“You’re adorable you know that?” Yuta told him while cocking his head to the side and putting a hand in his side. “Okay let’s start, shall we? Lesson one.” And he held up one finger. “Don’t fight your sudden feelings. Just let them flow through you and accept them as a part of your current self. It might be weird at first, but if you try it more often, you’ll get used to it.” Then he winked, “Got it?”
Taeil nodded and tried to relax. But it was hard. Especially when Yuta took hold of both of his hands and brought them to his own shoulders. “Hold on.” He whispered and then laid his own hands on Taeil’s hips.
“W-what are you doing?”
“Lesson two.” Yuta said with playful grin. “Love is all about experiencing things together. An important part of that is intimacy. Oh don’t look at me like it’s the most disgusting thing in the world.” Yuta ended with a laugh.
“I- I don’t think this is a good idea.” Taeil said. He was starting to panic. The way his heart was thumping wildly in his chest couldn’t be healthy.
Then Yuta pulled him closer all of a sudden, fully wrapping his arms around him. Taeil yelped and closed his eyes tightly at the sudden warmth in his chest.
“Open your eyes Taeil.”
And he did. Yuta’s face was awfully close to his, smirking at him like he knew exactly what he was feeling.
“Come on you can wrap your arms around my neck. I know you want it.”
“I don’t want it!” Taeil huffed, but he found himself doing it anyway. It was thrilling in some way. He had never felt like this before. Feeling warm inside, tingles dancing along his body, being incredibly nervous.
He was feeling so much, that the emptiness from earlier was nowhere to be found.
They moved around like that for a moment and Taeil enjoyed every second of it. Never would he have thought to enjoy being held like this, but the warm hands on his lower back that he could feel through his shirt were thrilling.
“You enjoying yourself?” Yuta asked him and Taeil nodded with a smile.
Before he could say something, suddenly another presence was close behind him, trailing fingers from his neck down his back. A breath was against his ear. Taeil jumped at the touch.
“Lesson three.” It was Taeyong’s voice, “Love brings all the emotions to it’s fullest. It makes you passionate about things, appreciate things and it makes you jealous. Love is beautiful, but it can be an ugly, ruthless thing as well. It’s all about having control over your emotions. Let it slip once…” Lips pressed against his nape and Taeil’s eyes widened, a gasp escaping his lips as his stomach jumped. His arms tightened around Yuta’s neck unconsciously.
“And the hurt will be unbearable.” Yuta finished his lover’s sentence in a whisper, while moving his face even closer to Taeil’s, who definitely had a hard time breathing at the new sensations. Apparently Taeyong saw it because he calmly dragged a hand through his brown hair.
“How old are you?” Taeyong asked him.
“T-t-twenty f-four.” Taeil answered as he closed his eyes tightly again.
“Okay breath in and out slowly, Taeil-hyung. Don’t fight it, it’s supposed to feel good remember?” Taeyong’s voice was soothing and Taeil opened his eyes again. Yuta was looking at him playfully, eyes dancing with interest and Taeil impulsively touched the other man’s face, feeling the soft skin.
“Good.” Yuta said and then he shot a look at Taeyong. Taeil felt the presence behind him disappear. “Just focus on me now, hyung.”
“A-are we going to kiss?” Taeil asked and he heard his voice come out higher than he intended.
“Do you want to?”
“But you have-“
“Taeyong? I know, but believe me this is not the first time I’m doing this. We are here for exactly this purpose, guiding people through the experience. And right now, when the Love is still strongly in your system, it will feel really good. Don’t think about consequences right now, just us.”
Yuta’s voice became softer and softer with every word he said and their faces were so close their noses were touching. Taeil felt it. He felt the drug taking hold of him, his mind and body.
Don’t think about the consequences.
“Close your eyes.” Yuta whispered and Taeil obeyed.
The next moment he felt lips touch his.
And that was when everything became clear.
Every fiber in his body was reacting to it, burning up at the weird sensation he had never felt before. The emptiness in his gut, moved to his mind, but not in a bad way. No, in a way that made him feel freer than ever. Yuta’s lips were so soft, his smell so nice and his body so warm. It was overwhelming. Taeil felt like drowning.
Yuta pulled back and Taeil whined in return, pulling on the other’s neck and connecting their lips once again.
It was addicting and Taeil wanted it to last longer.
To last forever.
But Yuta pushed him away softly, his cheeks and lips a little red. Then he smiled at him and Taeil felt dizzy at all the different emotions. An arm appeared around his shoulder and he saw pink strands in the corner of his eye.
“He’s pretty isn’t he?” Taeyong murmured against his ear softly and Taeil just nodded. Yuta was now looking at Taeyong longingly.
Taeyong continued, “I know you like him, but I do too… so maybe we can share him tonight.” Before Taeil could ask what he meant by that, another voice came from behind him. a voice that made him let go of Yuta and turn around immediately.
“What did I tell you? I said nothing too much. How is having a threesome not too much, huh?”
It was Jaehyun and he was obviously holding back his laughter at Taeil’s shocked expression. Taeyong just shrugged. “It was worth the try.” And Yuta nodded in agreement.
Jaehyun held out his hand to Taeil. “Come on, let’s get your jacket. It’s getting late already.”
“Oi!” Yuta said and wrapped his arms around Taeil, making him unable to put his hands into Jaehyun’s. Taeil turned to Yuta, surprised.
“Let me say goodbye first.”
This time it was Jaehyun who rolled his eyes, “Fine.”
“Will we see you again soon?” Yuta asked him hopefully. Taeil didn’t know what to say, but what he did know is that he had never felt this alive before. It was as if things finally mattered.
“I-I think so.” He answered thus.
Yuta then took hold of his chin and pecked him on the lips. “See you around then, Taeil-hyung.”
With that they left and Taeil touched his lips with the tip of his fingers. His face, that was heating up again, did not bother him in the slightest this time.
“So I take it you had fun?” Jaehyun asked him when they were standing in the room behind the bar again. Jaehyun had taken Taeil’s jacket from the floor and handed it to him.
Taeil nodded hesitantly. “It was… strange. I never felt like this before.” He held a hand to his chest and smiled softly, “It felt so good. And so intense. I felt like floating, even if he was just holding me. I felt free.” When he looked up, Jaehyun was looking at him with a dimpled smile, leaning against the wall with crossed arms. “W-what?”
Jaehyun pushed away from the wall and moved closer to him. then he pinched his cheek and Taeil slapped the hand away playfully.
“I finally saw you smile today. It’s definitely not a bad sight.”
Again Taeil felt his stomach flip.
“I would love to talk more with you, as I promised, but you probably have work tomorrow and It’s already two AM.”
At that Taeil’s eyes widened in panic. He totally forgot the time. And work. Jaehyun just laughed again.
“Time flies when you’re having fun.”
“So? Will we actually see you again?” Jaehyun asked him once they were outside. The other had immediately lit up a cigarette when they left the place and now blew out some smoke, up in the air. The street was silent and empty and there was a constant ringing in Taeil’s ear from the past music. He bit his lip while wrapping his arms around himself, feeling a little cold. He honestly didn’t know. He knew he shouldn’t come back. First of all it was illegal and he could go to prison for this. Secondly, It was changing him, making him a different person than he was.
Or maybe this was just the real him...
Without looking at Jaehyun he started talking, “I think I want to try it again.” He left a pause, after which he quickly added, “Don’t worry I will take my money with me next time.”
When he looked at Jaehyun, it was the latter whose eyes were slightly widened. Then he shook his head. “You don’t have to… Bring money I mean. Just… come by again. I’m sure Yuta and Taeyong would like that as well.”
“W-why, everyone else pays as well right? I don’t want to be a burden.”
“Because you intrigue me, Taeil.” Jaehyun said after taking another drag of his cigarette and exhaling to the side. “I stopped charging Yuta and Taeyong for at least a year now. It’s good to have some friends around.”
At this Taeil smiled. “Okay if you’re sure.... Thank you for everything, Jaehyun.”
Jaehyun smiled back and stepped forward to bow his head closer, his mouth next to Taeil’s ear.
“I saw you kissing with Yuta tonight. Maybe next time we can continue from there.” When he pulled back he let the cigarette fall from his hand and stepped on it with his foot, looking straight in his eyes. “Only if you're interested of course.”
“I-I think I need to go home.” Taeil quickly said and with that he turned around and walked away. His heart was beating faster than ever and he cursed at himself as he wondered how Jaehyun’s lips would feel on his and his hands on his body.