“that’s your friend, right? mom made me sit for one episode and i rooted for his character more.” hoseok says, slurping a spoonful of kimchi jjigae that his mom especially prepared for kihyun. hoseok really eats hot soup well, kihyun muses, watching his best friend struggling with the heat.
the camera pans to the whole audience cheering out loud after seeing the nominees for ‘best supporting actor’ category. kihyun was supposed to attend the 2018 KBS drama award, all behind the scene crews who were involved in the making of ‘does the flower bloom?’ drama got invited, but kihyun was down with the seasonal flu a couple of days ago. he’s recovering now, but he can’t risk contaminating the whole gala if he did go.
“i mean,” hoseok continues, pink lips getting more vivid, “his acting was so good i could feel his pain, you know? i could feel it. when he cried because of what his sister did? mom laughed at me with tears streaming down her face!”
kihyun smiles, wide, can’t help but to feel proud. he had a major opinion on the script back then, and soyou-noona actually managed to incorporate his suggestion into the original story, making it way much better, raising the viewer rate up to 39% on the episode hoseok just mentioned, making the episode the most-watched out of all airing dramas in major broadcasting stations in the first half of 2018. hyunwoo did deliver the killer line and emotion; kihyun heard from jaebum—his friend on the second camera—that not a single one present during the filming of that scene not choking up because of hyunwoo’s acting. even i had to collect myself, kihyun remembers jaebum, the chic and generally quiet guy, said when they had a drink together with their group of friends, i can totally see him as my main character (because jaebum is gathering materials for his upcoming indie movie).
“i hope he wins.” kihyun says, chewing a piece of meat and silk tofu.
“he will.” hoseok raises one hand and points his finger at hyunwoo, who is shown on kihyun’s flat screen looking so handsome in three-piece midnight blue suit and black bowtie—smiling to the camera on the top right corner, the five other nominees are also smiling or making peace signs or nodding in their tiny, individual boxes.
the bell rings when kihyun is putting the dishes that hoseok had washed before he went home. kihyun frowns, glancing at the minimalistic clock on the wall. it’s already ten minutes to midnight.
the bell rings again.
kihyun snatches the hand towel and hurriedly goes to the front door, taking a look from the peep hole.
“oh my.” he gasps, slinging the hand towel to his left shoulder, feeling his heart racing as he unlocks the door because there stands hyunwoo; tall, disheveled in his three-piece midnight blue suit but no black bowtie in sight, smiling at him in his adorably goofy way, eyes disappearing.
“h-hi! hyunwoo-sshi!” kihyun squeaks, shuddering because of the cold november wind. “come in!” he, out of habit, grabs the sleeve of hyunwoo’s suit jacket. the actor never minds, and kihyun, in all his 5’7 glory, argues that he’s entitled to touch just because hyunwoo is physically bigger and taller than him.
“thanks.” hyunwoo mumbles, stepping inside, bringing a whiff of his expensive cologne as he stands close to kihyun on the hall. his pair of black oxford is really shiny, kihyun thinks. “sorry i didn’t call or anything. my manager has my phone.”
“it’s okay!” kihyun is still speaking in a high tone and that can’t go on for too long. he tells himself to calm down. this isn’t the first time hyunwoo visits his humble abode! he can do this like any rational men in his 20s who might or might not be flirting with a very hot, very funny, and very much his ideal type guy!
(he really should stop ending his thought sentences with an exclamation mark).
they both are staring into each other’s eyes with kihyun’s hands still grasping the sleeve of hyunwoo’s suit jacket.
hyunwoo smiles, and asks, softly, “how are you?”
“much better, kinda sad couldn’t go to the award ceremony though.” kihyun is looking up at hyunwoo, and maybe it’s thanks to his apartment hallway that is too cramped, but he’s really enjoying their close proximity. hyunwoo smells so so good. and warm. and handsome, just like always.
“i bought a slice of your favorite cake,” hyunwoo clears his throat, lifting the plastic bag he’s holding. “i dunno it seemed right. there’s peppermint tea and lemon for your throat and, uh, i assumed you have honey so i didn’t buy it. do you?”
“yes,” kihyun’s cheeks are burning hot with nothing akin to fever, “i do have honey.”
“good.” hyunwoo breathes, and they lock eyes, and kihyun has to swallow down his nervousness and blinks, breaking the spell.
“i should go,” hyunwoo says. there’s a slight crease on his temple, like he’s trying his best to process what just happened. “it’s late.”
“oh,” kihyun takes the plastic bag hyunwoo gives to him, “but you didn’t come here with your manager, right?” he tries not to sound like he’s whining. or like he’s too curious about it even if he is.
he wants hyunwoo to stay.
“i took a cab,” hyunwoo answers, moving closer to the door. “i’ll call you tomorrow.”
the moment hyunwoo steps out of the door, the thunder rumbles and there’s a loud crack, a sharp flash of lightning, and the rain starts to pour in big buckets. the rain hits the ground in this loud and angry patters, like a thousand of pebbles being dropped from the sky.
no one says anything for a while, too stunned by the turn of events.
at least not until hyunwoo sneezes and kihyun bursts out laughing, pulling him back in.
the peppermint tea is amazing. kihyun has never tasted anything quite like it before. his throat feels the warmth and the kick of the plant, with a clean aftertaste on his tongue. it’s neither bitter nor acidic, but rather bland, but so so warm. his chest feels full, not only because of the particular companion for once.
the clock hits half past midnight.
“congratulations on winning the award, hyunwoo-sshi,” kihyun beams, “i’m so proud of you. even my best friend who doesn’t watch drama cried at your killer scene.”
“it’s all thanks to you,” hyunwoo says, looking fresh after washing off his makeup and is wearing the largest t-shirt kihyun could find in his closet. the dusty pink t-shirt is only loose around the torso but still tight on the shoulders and arms. kihyun doesn’t have any pants that fit hyunwoo’s size, so he’s still wearing his black slacks. “you wrote that killer scene.”
kihyun blushes, but he really likes the killer scene, too.
the flat screen is playing a rerun of some american thriller movie. it looks promising, but kihyun is not going to split his focus on hyunwoo, not when the older man is lounging on his plush grey sofa with a pink piglet mug in his big, big hands, looking like he belongs here.
(here, in his studio apartment with no bedroom, one bathroom, a rather spacious but orderly kitchen because kihyun takes his cooking as a serious hobby, one flat screen, and a tiny balcony.)
kihyun mentally laughs at his delusion, but as long as it’s not known to the object of said delusion, then what’s the harm?
“are you free tomorrow?” hyunwoo asks, pauses, and corrects himself, “my bad. later today?”
kihyun laughs. that’s so cute!
“yes,” he giggles, covering his mouth with his own sagittarius sign mug. “why?” and he dares to ask why, probably because he’s in his element. hyunwoo is in his home, it is acceptable for him to ask why.
hyunwoo’s smile is small and brief but he sounds hopeful, “take me to your favorite breakfast place.”
and kihyun takes his turn to throw the bait, “like a breakfast date?”
“like a breakfast date.” hyunwoo easily agrees, and that’s that.
kihyun grits his teeth to cover his groaning as he stretches in his seat. when was the last time he got up to take a breather? his sagittarius mug, he collects those printed mugs in different design of his zodiac sign, is emptied. kihyun glares at the computer, displaying the doc file he’s been working on for a pitching of KBS one-episode drama special. the white light is hurting his eyes. he forgot his glasses and it’s been eight hours. either it’s time to go home or he can just take his contacts off and continue typing with narrowed eyes.
next to him, always so prepared, wonpil has removed his contacts and is wearing his thick glasses. he’s pouting to his own computer screen while revising a script for next month’s episode of ‘superman returns’.
it’s 9 pm. they haven’t had dinner. most of the creative team in the room is already gone for the day. it’s friday, after all.
“wonpil-ah,” kihyun whispers, “hey.”
“yes, sunbaenim?” wonpil acknowledges kihyun but he doesn’t stop typing, he’s tilting his head closer to kihyun, presenting his ear.
kihyun smiles. the new kid is so cute. even his name alone is so cute, very rare. wonpil’s cuteness is different to jooheon’s—kihyun’s junior back in university—because jooheon is cute when he just stands still while wonpil might look like he’s the handsome sunbae when he just stands still, not opening his mouth to talk like he’s a very patient kindergarten teacher or to wheeze out his cute, hiccupping laugh. they both are clingy, though, and wonpil has done a good job of being assistant junior scriptwriter for twenty days he’s officially hired, and kihyun doesn’t mind that wonpil is clearly prioritizing his work more right now.
“do you want to have dinner delivered here?” kihyun asks, leaning back in his chair, crossing his legs. he’s long abandoning his converse and socks. it’s more comfortable wearing his black slippers whenever he’s working long hours.
the question makes wonpil pause. he looks at kihyun and opens his mouth in horror, his eyes that are looking smaller thanks to the thick lenses are widening.
“what time is it?” he squeals, and kihyun laughs.
“a little bit after nine,” kihyun answers then asks again, “do you have a deadline for that?”
“not really it’s just,” wonpil blinksblinksblinks, “i didn’t realize the time!” he throws his arms in the air.
“aren’t you hungry?”
kihyun swivels his chair to get closer to wonpil’s cubicle, and asks seriously, “do you want to get dinner delivered here? because if you do then i’m in, i can work on my project while we’re at it. but i’m also okay if we just get the hell out of here.”
wonpil pretends to scold kihyun’s bad influence. he clicks his tongue, “i want bibimbap.”
kihyun grins. “i know just the right place.”
they don’t take too long to get ready. after making sure their docs are saved, they shut down their computers and shouldering their backpacks. kihyun bids goodbye to everyone else who is still struggling, and wonpil waves at them cutely.
“what do you usually read, sunbaenim?” wonpil asks as they walk to the elevator.
“books?” kihyun asks back, and wonpil nods. “nowadays i’m more into watching indie movies, and then trying to break down the script with my own words. it’s a good practice in our field job.”
wonpil is swooning. he puts one hand on his cheek and sighs deeply like kihyun disclosing his pastime is something so groundbreaking. kihyun barks a dismissive laugh to cover up his embarrassment.
“what is it?” he elbows wonpil’s side.
“nothing, sunbaenim, that’s just so cool!” wonpil yelps, hopping cutely to press the going down button, right on time when the elevator dings and someone is walking out.
kihyun knows who that someone is even before hyunwoo notices him and says his greeting with a very handsome smile.
“i was just going to check up on you. i brought dumplings.” he lifts a plastic bag with two styrofoam boxes inside.
kihyun puts his hands in the pockets of his coat, relaxing his stance. the dumplings have this mouthwatering smell that makes kihyun’s stomach rumble. “your manager has your phone again?”
hyunwoo actually looks sheepish. “yeah, i just finished shooting for ‘hello couns—‘”
at that moment, kihyun doesn’t understand it yet that the feeling of something heavy in his guts is called jealousy. if kihyun is being honest, he can’t quite pinpoint what started it all. it being why he’s pretty much smitten with another man who could be his ideal type if he were really swing that way. he doesn’t think he’s gay, not on a full scale anyway, because he tried, on multiple occasions, even went as far as drinking a glass of sweet cocktail a stranger bought for him, that one time he braved himself to go to a gay bar at itaewon, alone—to look at other men like the way he looks at hyunwoo, but nope. nah.
at that moment, kihyun can only watch the scene slowly unfold. how the surprised look on hyunwoo’s handsome face is so genuine upon seeing wonpil with his cutely crossed eyes looking up at him—how wonpil is swaying on the balls of his feet like he can’t wait to throw his arms around hyunwoo’s broad, broad shoulders, something that kihyun hasn’t got the opportunity to do, not with how he still calls hyunwoo-sshi even after whatever it is they’re doing, not hyunwoo-hyung, and how he’s stupidly so taken aback with hyunwoo initiating the long hug between him and wonpil a moment later.
the elevator’s sliding doors are closing on them. the hallway of KBS building, 11th floor, is so quiet at 9.14 pm on a friday night.
“my shownu-hyung! congratulations on winning the best supporting actor award! i’m so proud of you! how are you?!” and as if wonpil can’t contain his excitement, he yells, radiating a sunny smile, “i miss you so much!”
hyunwoo is chuckling. he gives wonpil’s lithe, smaller body a squeeze before letting go. wonpil doesn’t, he still has his hands clutching hyunwoo’s arms, clad in black denim jacket today.
“how are you, wonpil-ah?” and hyunwoo is speaking in a tone that is filled with nostalgia kihyun can’t not feel like he’s an unwanted intruder. it’s awkward, mostly because he thought he was safe in whatever element they supposedly were in. then again no one really knows what’s going on, just soyou-noona raising one expertly drawn eyebrow at him when she put two and two together that hyunwoo personally bought taro bubble tea for kihyun when she and kihyun came to ‘does the flower bloom?’ shooting location, while everyone else in the set had either iced americano or iced coffee latte.
wonpil is innocent in this. kihyun really should stop frowning.
he sniffs when he hears his name is being said by hyunwoo.
“kihyun told me about a new kid but i didn’t realize it was you,” the oldest man says, fondly, “have you eaten?”
“you guys know each other?” wonpil asks, genuinely curious, still holding onto hyunwoo’s arms. “and no! we were going to have bibimbap! hyung you should join us! i can’t believe we finally meet!”
“i have to go, wonpil-ah, maybe next time.” hyunwoo says, turning to kihyun with an apologetic smile. “will you share the dumplings with kim pencil?”
wonpil whines just as kihyun is nodding, hopefully smiling back or else he will look like a fool. who are they? they seem like strangers, not a good friend or a cute hoobae. what was it before? shownu? kim pencil? kihyun is not going to be able to call them any of that, is he?
“give me your number.” hyunwoo pinches wonpil’s chin, gently, before patting his pockets only to remember that his manager has his phone. wonpil laughs, and kihyun joins in because that’s really, really, hopelessly, cute.
“my bad,” hyunwoo snorts, “have mine.”
wonpil programs hyunwoo’s number that kihyun knows by heart to his phone, and attaches the selca he just takes with hyunwoo in a text message. kihyun swallows down his nervousness, leaning his back against the wall and blurts out,
“do you guys know each other?”
“that’s what i asked hyunwoo-hyung before!” wonpil demands, cutely, still clinging to the sleeve of hyunwoo’s black denim jacket.
“wonpil is the childhood friend of my school’s best friend,” hyunwoo answers patiently like he always does whenever he talks to anyone. “does that make any sense?” he smiles at kihyun.
“that’s right,” wonpil tightens his grip around hyunwoo’s hand, nuzzling at hyunwoo’s arm happily, “how about you and kihyun-sunbaenim? did you work together for a drama before?”
it’s too early to tell but the way hyunwoo is staring at wonpil? yeah, thanks. kihyun wonders why did he decide to indulge himself and what the hell did he get himself into. what made him have the right to think that hyunwoo is his?
“it was for ‘does the flower bloom?’” he confirms in a hopefully steady voice. his chest hurts. it doesn’t help that hyunwoo smells different today. kihyun remembers hyunwoo told his fans he just changed cologne during his latest Vlive a couple of days ago. dior homme or something. not that the new cologne smells bad or anything, but hyunwoo smelling different is tipping kihyun off his axis, ruling out the last strike of his confidence of being in whatever element they supposedly were in.
“kihyun wrote the killer scene.” hyunwoo adds in a teasing tone.
wonpil opens his mouth in a very adorable fashion, squealing, “really?! the killer scene that snatched the whole nation bald with hyunwoo-hyung’s superb acting?”
kihyun clenches his fist.
“that’s the one.”
“sunbaenim!” wonpil gives kihyun a cute version of a military salute and kihyun knows he doesn’t stand a chance. “no no you don’t understand!” wonpil whines when he sees kihyun pretends to react badly to his aegyo. “hyunwoo-hyung was called robotnu by his friends because he used to be sooooooooo nonchalant and unenthusiastic about everything. he was the captain of the swimming team, our school even got to compete on the national level and won second place but he was just—” wonpil scrunches his handsome face so he looks like the imitation of hyunwoo’s goofy smile, and continues after hyunwoo and kihyun snickering at him, “when jae-hyung and i found out he’s a big name actor we couldn’t even believe our eyes!”
“hush i’m not a big name actor, wonpillie.” hyunwoo flicks wonpil’s cute ear, as gently as before, and wonpil gives him a cute mehrong.
“yeah, well,” hyunwoo chuckles, his eyes disappearing. “i’ll work hard. should we go? eat the dumplings while they’re still hot.” to this, he’s addressing kihyun.
kihyun nods, reaching out an arm to press the going down button but wonpil beats him to it. he’s slotted between the two longtime friends, and he can’t do anything else but to listen as they wait for the elevator to go up to the 11th floor.
“how’s jae doing?” hyunwoo asks over kihyun’s head.
and maybe it’s kihyun’s unrivaled jealousy—it is jealousy, he finally has to admit—but there’s a note of longing from hyunwoo’s simple question, especially when hyunwoo said their mutual friend’s name.
“he’s a lawyer now,” wonpil sighs, sounding like a very proud best friend, “our jaechicken.”
“what is it with your nicknames?” kihyun clears his throat after the slip. he bites his bottom lip, annoyed by his foolish heart. “umm, it’s just they’re rather… peculiar. sorry.”
“it’s okay,” hyunwoo puts a hand on kihyun’s lower back, guiding him gently to get inside the elevator after wonpil. he presses the second and the ground floor and explains, “my friend jae looked like a chicken, that’s all.”
wonpil is nodding cutely at kihyun, as reflected on the elevator’s double doors, a silent reassurance that it’s okay, sunbaenim, i know that our nicknames are indeed peculiar he he he!
“let’s have a drink with jae another time, yeah? i will call you.” hyunwoo talks to their reflections and wonpil moves to hug hyunwoo for the last time as the elevator stops on the second floor.
kihyun watches the fluttering of hyunwoo’s eyelashes and he blinks, looking away when the doors slide open.
“fighting, shownu-hyung,” wonpil chirps, pushing hyunwoo away playfully, “i will always cheer for you!”
“see you soon.” hyunwoo nods at kihyun, then at wonpil, and hyunwoo waits with his hands in the pockets of his black denim jacket until the elevator doors are closed and kihyun is left with wonpil together, as they were supposed to be, the only difference from before is that kihyun kinda wishes that his life is the kind of indie movie he loves to watch to practice his scriptwriting—just so him falling in love with hyunwoo can be unwritten.