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Heart of Fabric Episode 18, Scene 9

(Lying in bed is the happy couple, HYUNGIL and MINSEONG, after a long day. A romantic mood is in the air.)

HYUNGIL: (Glances fondly at MINSEONG) Do you remember when we first met? I think I loved you even then.

Minseong: How could I forget? I loved you then, too.

(Happily, they kiss.)

HYUNGIL: We’ve really come a long way. Even without my mother’s approval, I’ll never let go of you, angel.

MINSEONG: Please don’t talk about your mother when we’re in bed together. I’m stressed enough as it is.

HYUNGIL: (Mischievous) Then allow me to take your mind off of things.

(MINSEONG silently agrees and they kiss again, continuing in escalating passion.)

 


 

Seungcheol tossed the script unceremoniously on the table, raising an eyebrow at his manager.

“What do you want me to say?” Wonwoo shrugged, “You asked for a drama role and now you have one.”

“But I didn’t know I’d be playing the token gay character!” He tried not to act upset, but who could blame Seungcheol? After auditioning for the male lead and scoring a callback, Seungcheol’s confidence had reached a new high. But according to the casting director, he was “not what we’re looking for in this part. It would be a shame to let your talent go, though; would you be open to playing a smaller role instead?”

And in Seungcheol’s desperation for money and exposure, he’d accepted without a second thought.

One look at Wonwoo’s smirk said his manager knew this entire time what role he’d been reassigned to. “I don’t understand what the problem is,” Wonwoo said, “You have a drama role now, and it’s not your most challenging part ever.”

“The problem is that this character only exists to pull in views. And what if I don’t get cast in anything else after this? My résumé has a stigma against it now. I’ll always get cast as Gay Man Number Two after this.”

Wonwoo rolled his eyes. “Don’t be such a crybaby. It’s not just you, there’s another guy in the same boat: the poor man playing your boyfriend. You know, Gay Man Number One.” Sometimes Seungcheol considered hiring a new manager. “Shooting starts two weeks from tomorrow. So you have thirteen days to prepare, and then you’re out of the closet and into the world.”

Technically, two weeks was enough time to back out. But as Seungcheol weighed his options, sticking with the role looked like his best bet. Wonwoo was right; he was an actor. Being too sensitive or picky was not in the job description. Besides, the paycheck for this role was his highest yet.

And if a hopelessly-in-love gay accountant was who they wanted, then Seungcheol planned to deliver.

 


 

As expected, the first day on set was hectic. In all his past roles as an extra, Seungcheol had never been part of such a busy production. The staff greeted him warmly, made him feel right at home as they introduced Seungcheol and Wonwoo to every important person.

One of the staff, leading him to the makeup room, said, “Of course, there’s one last person you really need to meet. Let me check outside for a second and I’ll be right back.” The glint in her eye did nothing to ease Seungcheol’s stomach.

He had a good idea of who the person was, and Seungcheol couldn’t help the slight nerves. Wonwoo picked up on this, too: “Ready to meet your future husband?”

“I am, actually,” Seungcheol scoffed, “I’m sure he’ll be great and we’ll have a nice, professional relationship.”

“Speak of the devil!” The staff member’s voice sounded from outside the room before she ushered two men inside.

Both of them appeared to be actors; the taller one was very polished and charming, while the shorter one had this confident, ethereal look to him. “Are you Choi Seungcheol?” The taller one asked, and if this was the man playing Seungcheol’s lover, he was a bit intimidated. Seungcheol almost responded, but then noticed the question was directed at Wonwoo behind him.

“I am not,” Wonwoo blinked, “I’m Choi Seungcheol’s manager, Jeon Wonwoo.”

“Well in that case,” the tall man pulled out a business card from his shirt pocket, “Here you go. I’m Yoon Jeonghan’s manager, Kim Mingyu.”

Seungcheol did a double-take—what kind of actor would want such a handsome manager by his side? Then again, Wonwoo’s face itself made Seungcheol keep his mouth shut.

As the two exchanged business cards, the other man smiled at Seungcheol. He had quite a commanding presence, and instinctively, Seungcheol reached out to shake his hand. “Choi Seungcheol.”

“Yoon Jeonghan.” If anyone could hold their own next to the handsome manager, it was this man; Yoon Jeonghan’s unique smile and pretty face were made for the big screen. “It’s a pleasure to be working with you.” He actually was not that short, and could lock eyes directly with Seungcheol.

“Same to you.”

Then would be the time for uncomfortable small talk on Seungcheol’s part, but fortunately, one of the stylists called out, “Mr. Yoon! Please come get your makeup done at the third chair!”

That struck a note of jealousy in Seungcheol’s soul. His makeup hadn’t been done yet and he already looked this good? Being surrounded by so many attractive people made Seungcheol want to quit on the spot.

“That’s my cue,” Jeonghan flashed a brilliant grin, “I would say goodbye, but we’ll be seeing a lot of each other.”

“I guess we will,” Still, Seungcheol gave him a small goodbye wave and watched as the man towed his tall manager away.

From a first impression, Seungcheol didn’t know what to think of Yoon Jeonghan. He was obviously handsome, and seemed friendly, but Seungcheol got this feeling from him. Something electric, like there was more to Jeonghan that a first impression couldn’t let on.

But for Jeonghan, their introduction went better than expected. He’d done his research on Choi Seungcheol over the past few days, and it seemed like this drama could be the breakout roles for both of them. Jeonghan had auditioned on a whim, and was over the moon to land this part, however small it was. He was lucky to be best friends with an ex-model and business major, who he could hire as a last-minute excuse for a manager.

In the makeup chair, Jeonghan thought back to meeting Seungcheol. From what Jeonghan had dug up in his preemptive Google background check, Seungcheol looked even better in person. Strong arms, soft eyes, a sharp jawline—he could definitely work with that. His lips were very pink and full, too; Jeonghan didn’t see a problem, having so many romantic scenes with the actor. “He’s cute, right?” Jeonghan asked Mingyu.

“Who, Mr. Hot Manager? Yeah.”

He should have known Mingyu’s first real day on the job would involve something like this. “No, I’m talking about Choi Seungcheol.”

Mingyu lets out a chuckle, “I’m joking. Well, not really, I mean, the manager guy was really hot. But yeah, Choi Seungcheol seems very photogenic. Good face for the camera.”

The makeup artist (who had certainly been eavesdropping) tilted Jeonghan’s head up and brought a dark pencil to his eyes. Filming wasn’t even starting today, so this was only a makeup test, but Jeonghan blanched all the same— “Could you use brown eyeliner instead, please? Black looks worse on me.”

From his brief time so far as an actor, Jeonghan had already been called a diva. Maybe it was true; Jeonghan had lived however he wanted for his entire life, and it had gotten him this far. His attitude was built for success, but Jeonghan wasn’t sure how other people could deal with him for extended periods of time. Mingyu could only put up with Jeonghan because he’d known the actor for so many years and had grown used to his antics. In a way, Jeonghan felt sorry for Choi Seungcheol. His patience would surely be tested, working next to Jeonghan every day. But in his heart (which Jeonghan knew was never wrong), he couldn’t help thinking, This will be fun.

 


 

Seungcheol sat on the edge of the kitchen set, alternating between scrolling through his phone and flipping through his script. In his previous roles, the waiting time between important things was always insane. With a larger role, the wait times seemed no better, but Seungcheol was getting paid to sit around, so he made no protests.

“Let’s run lines.” Standing above him was Yoon Jeonghan, who sat down cross-legged without waiting for Seungcheol’s response.

But Seungcheol had nothing better to do, and maybe he could get to know Jeonghan through this. “Alright, which scene?”

“Scene ten,” He made it sound obvious and maybe it was, since that was the first scene they would be shooting, in only two days.

Seungcheol had bookmarked all of his scenes, so he quickly flipped to the right page. And waiting for Jeonghan to do the same, Seungcheol took a closer look at the man; his makeup was subtle, but had enhanced his appearance nicely (especially a smudged-out ring of brown along his lower lashes). Yoon Jeonghan was frustratingly pretty.

“I’ll start at the top of page 45,” Jeonghan cleared his throat, “Hi, honey, have you been waiting long?” He looked Seungcheol in the eyes. The difference was day and night; Jeonghan was the kind of actor who could switch his attitude instantly, and it almost caught Seungcheol off-guard.

“Not at all,” Seungcheol pictured the script in his mind. If they were really shooting this, he would be hugging Jeonghan right now, “I just got done meeting with Areum.”

“And how is she?” Even casually running lines like this, Seungcheol could tell Jeonghan was a strong actor. His character voice was slightly different from his speaking voice, laced with the perfect amount of sarcasm.

Seungcheol kept eye contact with Jeonghan, “Don’t worry. I already promised you I wouldn’t fall in love with her.”

Jeonghan seemed genuinely relieved. He really didn’t have other credits to his name? Seungcheol was impressed. “I wasn’t worried. I trust you.”

“I like it when you get jealous,” Seungcheol put on his best infatuated expression.

“Who’s jealous?” The only thing Jeonghan was missing were flushed cheeks.

Seungcheol tried to remember whose line was next, but nothing came to mind. When Jeonghan noticed he’d forgotten, he whispered, “Then you kiss me,” like a hint.

“Oh, right.” Might as well get a kiss out of the way. Seungcheol leaned in, but never got closer than halfway before Jeonghan pushed his head away. “Not now, I want the first one to be on camera.”

What an odd request. Their characters were supposed to have been together for a year, so wouldn’t it make sense for them to practice beforehand? Instantly, Seungcheol’s mind went to the worst scenario: maybe Yoon Jeonghan had a thing for being in front of a camera, and that was why he became an actor. It was possible; he was a complete stranger, and such a pretty face couldn’t come without some bizarre traits attached.

(Really, Jeonghan was just nervous. He’d never kissed anyone as part of a character before, but telling Seungcheol that might make him look like a true novice. Yes, Jeonghan was uncontrollably nervous about kissing Seungcheol—he seemed so nice, after all—and who could blame Jeonghan? He also might have taken a bite of Mingyu’s ham sandwich right before approaching Seungcheol, but that was just another reason to postpone their lips’ introduction.)

 


 

Something became clear as the day stretched on: the main actors were being attended to far more than secondary roles like Seungcheol’s, leaving him terribly bored. Wonwoo told him to suck it up and accept this lifestyle, but Seungcheol wanted action. Breaks were nice, but the restlessness had already begun to set in.

Apparently, the director recognized this as well, because within a few hours, a man was introduced to Seungcheol as an acting coach. Lee Seokmin was very young, but extremely animated and passionate about acting. He led Seungcheol to an off-putting room (dimly lit with nothing but a presumably thrifted sofa and sparse decorations), and Seungcheol was surprised to find Jeonghan already inside. “Alright!” Lee Seokmin clapped his hands together in an enthusiastic way, “If you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of actors here who need to be taken care of, so we’ve decided to split all of you up into workshops. I’ll be your workshop coach; Director Shin gave me exact instructions for most of your scenes, so I’m here to guide you through everything he wants, and then when we start shooting in a few days, you guys will be experts.”

Seungcheol did not know how to go about this situation; should he be excited? Annoyed? Jeonghan looked much the same, simply blinking at Seokmin’s words. He wished Jeonghan could feel more comfortable around him, but doubted that would be happening today. “So what are you guys waiting for?” Seokmin smiled (it was such a large and bright smile that Seungcheol was a bit intimidated) and hopped to the floor, “Let’s sit down and have a chat.”

This reminded Seungcheol of the acting workshops he endured throughout high school and college—sitting in a circle (as circular as three people could be arranged), talking about character rather than doing any acting. “Seungcheol, describe your character for me,” Seokmin encouraged him.

“Well, Hyungil is an accountant who’s arranged to marry a woman, even though he likes men.” Honestly, Seungcheol had done a lot of thinking about his character. Hyungil’s dialogue and actions were like any typical drama character’s, so Seungcheol was desperate to make his interpretation of Hyungil different than people would expect. “And his personality is very strong, so he gets upset when he can’t have what he wants.” Hyungil’s character was challenging not only because of the content, but because he was so different from Seungcheol as a person. Sometimes throughout the script, he was almost a jerk (which was quite fun to play, as guilty as Seungcheol felt doing so).

Seokmin made a noise that Seungcheol couldn’t interpret as approval or not. “Okay. And Jeonghan, what about you?”

Jeonghan spoke up for the first time since they’d arrived at the room: “My character only exists because of Hyungil’s, right? He’s a chef, but what really matters is that he’s Hyungil’s secret boyfriend. And he gets jealous easily.” Seungcheol could tell that Jeonghan was at least slightly disappointed by his character, and the reason why was clear; after reading the script, Minseong had little to no character development or apparent motivation.

“Is that all?” Seokmin prompted him to say more.

“Yeah,” Jeonghan nodded, “He’s pretty flat. That’s not a bad thing, but he’s a character that anyone could relate to because he’s that vague.”

“You could use that to your advantage. What’s so relatable about him specifically?” Seokmin asked.

Obviously, Jeonghan had done some thinking about his character as well, because he answered with no hesitation: “It’s a tragic story, right? Being in love, but something is holding you back.”

“Have you experienced that yourself?”

“Me?” Jeonghan laughed, “No, and I hope I never do. Their relationship’s pretty messy, but that isn’t Minseong’s fault.”

Seokmin considered that thought, and then moved on. “Well, imagine this is about you. You’re so in love, and you would do anything for him. Your motivation is love, and that’s the main thing you need to get across. And that’s why—” Seokmin opened his script to the very front pages, gathering a mysterious glint in his eye— “We’re going to work from the bottom up, Episode 1 to Episode 24.” The approach was designed so they could build their characters from beginning to end. Seokmin had every scene with them bookmarked, and so they began rehearsing their interactions in the very first episode.

It was supposed to be a simple scene. All that happened was a fleeting moment of eye contact, and then one line Seungcheol would direct at Jeonghan. Yet somehow, they spent hours on that one sequence. Seokmin would ask questions like, “Why does Hyungil look at him that way?” and, “Is the intention of their gazes more innocent, or more lustful?” By the end of the day, Seungcheol could pick out every fleck of gold in Jeonghan’s deep brown eyes.

Day two was more workshops. Hours upon more hours of reading, analyzing, practicing—and Jeonghan itched to get in front of a camera. At the same time, Jeonghan started becoming more confident in his character. Any doubts that he’d been poorly cast went out the window, even if Minseong wasn’t his dream role. And the extra workshop time gave him a feel for how Seungcheol acted as well, and within two days, they were able to play off of each other effortlessly.

As Seokmin was far younger (and therefore less experienced) than other acting coaches in his company, he felt like he had something to prove. Jeonghan and Seungcheol were the only two actors he was working with in this project, so naturally, he wanted them to be the best. If everything went according to Seokmin’s plan, these two actors could steal the show. It was just a matter of practice (and they practiced; they practiced until Jeonghan’s throat hurt and Seungcheol accidentally called him “Minseong” while they were on break).

And by the time filming was set to begin, Jeonghan and Seungcheol were ready.

When an assistant called Jeonghan to be on standby for Scene Ten, he immediately became excited. This was going to be his first scene in a drama. Mingyu walked him to the set like a proud, incompetent parent seeing his son off on the first day of school. “Say hi to your hubby’s manager for me!” Mingyu pulled Jeonghan into a hug and pretended to wipe tears from his eyes.

“You’re gross,” Jeonghan deadpanned. But once he was apart from Mingyu, the lost-puppy feeling set in. In the hours of downtime, while other actors had been getting to know each other, Jeonghan was either being coached by Seokmin, or loafing around with Mingyu. Now he was alone amongst dozens of strangers, all styled in office-ready ensembles. Even Jeonghan looked extra polished; the stylist, who introduced himself as Seungkwan, had been very passionate about making sure Jeonghan’s appearance fit the part. He’d described Jeonghan’s look as a “rich Sugar Baby,” which Jeonghan had only laughed at until he looked in the mirror (and promptly offered to have Seungkwan style him every day).

But now, Jeonghan had no idea where to go or what to do. He would search for someone official-looking, but on an office set, everyone looked official. So Jeonghan, in a moment of near-panic, stopped the most attractive person in his immediate area and asked, “Excuse me, do you work on-set?”

The man looked confused, then smiled, “Me? No, sorry, I’m just an extra.” He had a slight accent, and the more Jeonghan looked at him, the more he looked like a cat.

“Oh. Then do you know what’s going on?”

“Are you an extra, too?” The man asked hesitantly.

Jeonghan shook his head, “I’m Yoon Jeonghan, I’m a lead actor, I guess? One of the gay ones.”

That put a grin on the man’s face. “Oh, nice,” and he reached out to shake Jeonghan’s hand, “My name’s Joshua. Well, it’s Jisoo, but Joshua’s my professional name. And I don’t know if this helps, but I saw the director talking to some other actors over there,” he pointed across the set, to where all the cameras were, “Here, I’ll come with you.”

Jeonghan liked Joshua already. He’d heard that extras could have inflated egos sometimes (not that Jeonghan was one to talk) but Joshua made a very laid-back first impression.

When the two got close enough, Jeonghan recognized Choi Seungcheol’s face in the crowd. It looked like Seungkwan had gotten a hold of him, too—Seungcheol was significantly more put-together than he usually was. “Ah, there’s my hubby,” he told Joshua proudly, “Thanks for all your help!”

“Any time,” Joshua seemed a bit put-off by the term ‘hubby,’ but he smiled anyway and promised to see Jeonghan later.

Seungcheol greeted him with a curt nod. He was speaking with the director, who Jeonghan had met when they first began a few days ago. An eccentric middle-aged man with intimidating eyebrows, Mr. Shin could easily be pinned down as a control freak. “Minseong, perfect timing!” The director called out when he saw Jeonghan. He would have to get used to responding to ‘Minseong.’ Inside, Jeonghan was praying he wouldn’t have to method-act throughout the whole shooting process. “I was just telling Hyungil about what I had in mind for this scene. I want the focus to be on the relationship between you two. So don’t focus on where the camera is, focus on Hyungil. You love him. If you can convince me of that, the rest will come naturally.”

Jeonghan glanced at Seungcheol, who was pointedly looking away. “Got it.”

“Perfect! And I need to tell you boys: I know kissing another man might be hard,” Jeonghan tried not to laugh at that, “so if you want to fake some kisses here and there, let me know and we can play with the camera angles.”

Hadn’t they somewhat agreed earlier to kiss for real? Seokmin had pushed them to do so as well. Seungcheol glanced at Jeonghan, “I’m fine with the real thing.”

Jeonghan nodded back at him, “So am I.”

Mr. Shin, if anything, was surprised and happy at how cooperative his actors were. “Even better! Now head over there and leave your heart on the camera.”

Silently, Jeonghan followed Seungcheol to the set and at one cue from Mr. Shin, assistants rushed out to position them perfectly. Every last detail of his appearance was fixed in place, down to an extra layer of powder on his nose and chin.

He wasn’t as nervous as he thought he’d be. Seungcheol had done this before, so all Jeonghan had to do was follow his lead, right? This was a scene they hadn’t run too thoroughly with Seokmin since it came a few episodes in, but Jeonghan felt prepared. From studying the script so much over the past couple of weeks, Jeonghan knew all his lines by heart and he knew what kind of character Minseong was. The rest was all in the delivery.

“Action.”

It was like a switch flipped on inside Jeonghan’s brain; at that one word, he became Minseong. Anxious Minseong, hurrying to his lover’s desk so they could go home together.

“Hyungil.” Jeonghan spoke softly, and Seungcheol’s head raised up from his work to meet Jeonghan’s gaze. “Hi, honey, have you been waiting long?”

“Not at all,” Seungcheol got up from his chair with enthusiasm and met Jeonghan in a tight embrace. The warmth of it surprised Jeonghan at first, but he tried to imagine that Seungcheol’s arms had been wrapped around him hundreds of times before. “I just got done meeting with Areum.” Seungcheol ran his hand along Jeonghan’s back as he said this—the perfect intimate shot.

But Jeonghan pulled away as if he’d been hurt. “And how is she?” he tried to pour in every amount of jealousy possible.

“Don’t worry. I already promised you I wouldn’t fall in love with her.” Seungcheol was very close to him, close in a way only a couple would be.

Jeonghan breathed in relief and hope it showed up on camera. “I wasn’t worried. I trust you.”

Seungcheol’s eyes were the best part. They swirled around to every part of Jeonghan’s face, like it was the last time they’d see each other. He was a very talented actor. “I like it when you get jealous,”

“Who’s jealous?” Jeonghan looked away, shy, but the next second, steady fingers were at his chin and Seungcheol brushed his lips over the corner of Jeonghan’s mouth—their first kiss.

Oh. He’d almost forgotten that was next in the script.

“Cut!”

The director’s voice broke through Jeonghan’s tunnel vision, bringing him back to earth. And Seungcheol was off him in a flash, like they were strangers again. Mr. Shin continued, “Hyungil, that was a nice kiss—for your grandma. I need more passion.” Apparently after agreeing to do real kisses, Mr. Shin had high expectations. “And Minseong—” Jeonghan’s heart stopped. What had he done wrong? “Be more submissive.” Well, then. “There needs to be no doubt who’s in charge in your relationship. It’s Hyungil.”

Jeonghan willed his jaw not to drop. Submissive? That was the last word Jeonghan would use to describe himself, but he was an actor. He scanned the sidelines of the set to lock eyes with Seokmin, who wore a helpless expression and simply mouthed, “Sorry.”

This time after Mr. Shin called “action,” Jeonghan melted into Seungcheol’s arms, leaned into his warmth and delivered his lines with conviction.

Seungcheol was more affectionate with him, placing a hand on Jeonghan’s arm. “Don’t worry. I already promised you I wouldn’t fall in love with her.”

“I wasn’t worried. I trust you.”

Once again, Seungcheol’s eyes fell softly on Jeonghan’s features. “I like it when you get jealous.”

Jeonghan stuck his lip out in a pout. “Who’s jealous?”

Seungcheol’s chuckle was not scripted. He leaned in with no fear, this time capturing Jeonghan’s lips fully, leaving no room for doubt that it was real. His lips were soft, Jeonghan noticed in their brief time pressed together.

And like they did that all the time, Seungcheol pulled back to say his next line: “Come on, angel. Let’s go home.”

Jeonghan gave a shy nod, the pink in his cheeks genuine. With Seungcheol’s steady hand on his back, they walked out until Mr. Shin called, “Cut!”

Both actors turned toward the director. That was it? Quick and painless? Jeonghan had expected a much more hellish time with the first shot, but as staff began flocking to the monitors, Jeonghan realized this acting business could be much easier than he thought. Sure enough, not two minutes had passed before Mr. Shin moved onto something entirely different.

“Is it always this easy?” Jeonghan asked Seungcheol, who was surprised Jeonghan had spoken to him.

“Only if you do it perfectly on the second take.” Seungcheol couldn’t believe how fast it was himself, “And this director is known for being picky, too, so we must have done a good job.”

Jeonghan was concerned at how uneasy Seungcheol sounded. “What do you think? Did we do a good job?”

Seungcheol was less concerned with his own performance and more with Jeonghan’s. For a moment during the scene, Seungcheol actually believed they were lovers despite only knowing Jeonghan for a few whirlwind days. Not everyone could affect Seungcheol like that. “You were great.”

It wasn’t the answer Jeonghan had been looking for, but he would never shy away from a compliment.

As the two walked off set, a camera operator called out to them, “Do you want to see how it looks?”

Jeonghan was immediately excited. This was his first on-camera appearance, and to get a sneak-peek at the final product would be amazing. When he got closer to the monitor station, Jeonghan recognized the cameraman as Xu Minghao, the film protégé from China who had everyone talking. Perhaps that was why the take wrapped so quickly; because Minghao could make even bad actors look good.

But as he showed Jeonghan and Seungcheol the clips, Jeonghan was impressed with himself. He looked like a real star. And Seungcheol on-camera was completely different from the Seungcheol he’d met previously; the man had this commanding presence that the audience would definitely swoon over.

Minghao scrolled through the scene and when it neared the end, Jeonghan found himself shocked by their kiss. That looked amazing. And he wasn’t the only one who thought so; a nearby staff member asked, “Have you two worked together before? Your chemistry is perfect.”

“We met on Tuesday, actually,” Seungcheol answered for them, which incited shocked reactions from their small crowd. And when he said that, Jeonghan was a bit surprised, too; they looked like they’d been acting together for years.

 Minghao nodded, impressed, “Well, thanks for making my job easy. I won’t name names, but some of the lead actors here couldn’t get that right in fifty takes.” Although he didn’t know who the man was talking about, Jeonghan admired Minghao’s willingness to throw people under the bus.

“Yeah, pleasure working with you!” Jeonghan shook Minghao’s hand, then turned around to do the same to Seungcheol. “And you, too, of course.”

“The pleasure is all mine,” Seungcheol had this dorkiness to his personality that Jeonghan quite liked.

In fact, he already liked a lot of things about Seungcheol. Obviously, they were going to make a good team. And if every scene between them was shot that easily, then the rest of the filming process would be a breeze.

(Easier said than done.)

 


 

After a long day on set, Seungcheol returned to his apartment and flopped down on the sofa.

“Crazy day?”

Jihoon’s voice drifted in from the kitchen; Seungcheol was so tired, he’d completely missed his roommate grabbing a late-night snack.

“Crazy is one way to describe it.” Everything had passed in a blur today, and Seungcheol couldn’t decide if he loved or hated it.

Jihoon walked over to the couch with a bowl of cereal in hand. He loomed over Seungcheol, which never happened unless Seungcheol was lying down like this. “Was it fun? How’s the guy you’re supposed to be in love with again?”

Ah, how could anyone forget about Yoon Jeonghan? “He’s interesting. We’re very different, so I don’t know how we’ll work together, but he seems nice.”

“Cute?”

“I mean, this is going to be on television. Everyone’s cute.”

Jihoon seemed frustrated with Seungcheol’s answer—he must have had a bad day, and that was never something Seungcheol could help with. “What is this drama about, even?” Jihoon shoved a spoonful of cereal into his mouth, not bothering to swallow it before he continued speaking: “Called something like ‘Silky Heart,’ right? Is it worth watching when it comes out?”

Heart of Fabric. And I’m going to make you watch it anyway, since I’m in it,” Honestly, it was too early in the shooting process to tell how the drama would turn out. From the script, it seemed like a generic, over-complicated drama that Seungcheol would never watch on his own time. “It’s about a girl who’s the daughter of a fashion line CEO, and she falls for the younger CEO of their foreign rival company. I play the guy she’s arranged to marry, who secretly loves the male cook in her family mansion.”

Jihoon ran over the plot in his mind, eyebrows scrunched like he had a bad taste in his mouth, and then said, “Sounds dumb.”

Seungcheol hoisted himself up from the couch, nearly knocking Jihoon’s cereal down in the process. “Well I didn’t write the script! All I know is, I have to spend the next few months smooching a guy I just met.”

“Smooching?” his roommate laughed, “Okay, you’re tired.” That was one thing they could agree on. Seungcheol headed for his room, but before he could shut the door Jihoon stopped him again: “Wait, I have one more question.”

“What.”

The man grinned, “Is he a good smoocher?”

That took Seungcheol’s mind to Jeonghan’s lips, which were a very nice shade of pink and obviously well-moisturised. But their two kisses so far had been too short to consider enjoyable, so Seungcheol replied, “I don’t know yet. I’m going to bed.”

But Seungcheol didn’t go to bed, not for a few long hours. His mind kept him up, processing the stressful day and generating every possible outcome that could stem from this role. On one hand, this role could open up a lot of exciting opportunities for him. Then again, depending on how lovable his character was, Seungcheol’s reputation could go down the drain. Seungcheol eventually fell asleep with the script cycling through his mind. Only time will tell.

 


 

Jeon Wonwoo could be considered someone who hated his job. In the past, he’d been pressured to join the entertainment industry— “Your face is too perfect not to be famous!” people would say, “Do you like singing? Acting? Dancing? Even if you’re untalented, you can always learn!” But Wonwoo had never been interested in the limelight.

And when he got older (perhaps out of spite), Wonwoo became a talent manager. Now he could be just close enough to see the limelight every day, without feeling it directly on his face.

In that respect, Wonwoo loved his job. Each day was a reminder that he’d made the right choice, and fame was nothing to search for. His clients were constantly dejected, stressed, or tired. Choi Seungcheol was no exception.

Wonwoo watched Seungcheol from a distance, as he ran lines with the actor who played his love interest. That was all Seungcheol seemed to be doing recently; the filming itself had only been happening for three days, and he’d memorized the entire script by now. After managing Seungcheol for a year, Wonwoo knew this was unlike him, and he immediately thought it was because of that man, Yoon Jeonghan.

Perhaps they were a bit awkward around each other, but for being strangers still, they seemed friendly and had good chemistry from what Wonwoo could tell.

“Fancy seeing you here.” A voice interrupted Wonwoo’s thoughts. Once he realized whose voice it was, Wonwoo shot his hand up to press into his ear, as if he had a Bluetooth headset there.

“Yes, I’ll have my client there by noon,” Wonwoo said to his imaginary headset, glancing at Kim Mingyu as if to tell him, I’m on the phone. “Yes, not a problem.” It was hard to invent a one-sided phone conversation on the fly, but Wonwoo really did not want to talk to Mingyu. That man had been following Yoon Jeonghan around like a parasite, and every time he was in the same room as Wonwoo, he would try to catch Wonwoo’s attention in the least subtle ways. “That’s fine, I’ll have the information faxed to your office.” Unfortunately, a fake phone conversation could only continue for so long. “Sounds perfect. You too.” And he pretended to end the call, then looked uninterestedly at Mingyu. “Hi.”

Mingyu smiled. “Hey. Sorry, didn’t know you were being all business-y.” Wonwoo wished he wasn’t so damn handsome, since everything that came out of Mingyu’s mouth gave him a hollow feeling.

“Just some client troubles,” Wonwoo shrugged (really, the only client troubles of his were about Choi Seungcheol’s self-management tendencies). As much as Wonwoo tried, he couldn’t prevent his eyes from scanning Mingyu’s form: despite being physically attractive, his wardrobe was far too casual and not fitting of his position as manager. Everything Mingyu did screamed “unprofessional” to Wonwoo, and that got under his skin even more. “What about you? Is Yoon Jeonghan your only client?”

“He is,” Mingyu answered, almost proudly, “We make a good team, I’d say.” From Wonwoo’s perspective, Jeonghan was more in control than his manager, but Wonwoo let him continue anyway, “And it seems our clients are a match made in heaven.”

For a minute, the two men stared over to where Seungcheol and Jeonghan were running lines. If they really were becoming friends, that was a shame. Wonwoo didn’t want to see any more of Kim Mingyu than he had to.

“I’ll bet you they hook up by the time shooting ends.”

Mingyu was flashing him a daring smile, in all his pointy-toothed, glowing-skinned glory. It made Wonwoo sick. “I’m not betting against that. I’d lose.”

“What, you think they’d actually hook up?” Mingyu seemed surprised, even though he’d suggested it.

Wonwoo shrugged, “Seungcheol gets crushes easily.” That was one thing Wonwoo had learned during his time as Wonwoo’s manager; a strong personality and a face as perfect as Yoon Jeonghan’s was a recipe for disaster.

“Perfect, Jeonghan doesn’t. He hasn’t been interested in anyone in years—” Just how long had Mingyu been managing this actor?— “and he wouldn’t hook up with a co-worker. So I’ll propose the bet again, but on the opposite side this time.”

Something about Mingyu’s cocky expression put Wonwoo in a competitive mood. “Alright, I’m game.” But nothing could come that easily; this was show business, after all. “If I win, then you have to do all of my paperwork for a week.”

Mingyu was not at all upset by the condition, and fired back with one of his own: “Fun. And if I win, and they don’t sleep together, then you have to go to dinner with me.”

Wonwoo blanched at his own naivety; he should have seen that coming. Of course this ill-intentioned man would have something so self-indulging up his sleeve. Still, a bet was a bet. “You’re on. I can’t wait to give you my stack of paperwork.”

The man’s smirk was far too cocky for Wonwoo’s liking. “Not as much as I can’t wait for dinner with you.” And without hesitation, the two shook hands and the deal was sealed.

 


 

At one point, Jeonghan had been uncertain about his career path as an actor. It was a risky field, after all, and fame often brought out the worst in people. But after settling into this role and understanding what life on set was like, Jeonghan was starting to believe he’d made the right decision.

The company wasn’t bad, either—over the past few days, Jeonghan had assembled his own makeshift crew of talents, who he’d begun to consider his friends. Seungkwan was an obvious choice of acquaintance; he was so funny, and let Jeonghan hang out in the dressing room whenever he wanted. Joshua, too, made Jeonghan feel right at home, along with another extra named Hansol. Together, they were like a misfit crew of D-list celebrities; ironically, Seungkwan was the most famous out of their circle, and he was the only non-actor.

Hansol and Seungkwan had obviously worked together before (and if they hadn’t, that would be the shock of Jeonghan’s life, considering how they bickered like an old married couple). Not only did they both have obscure personalities, but both were gossip-prone, Seungkwan being the more severe culprit. And as much as Joshua played the voice of reason, he was also secretly interested in on-set gossip. Of course, their main point of discussion was Jeonghan.

“So how has your juicy relationship been going?” Seungkwan winked at him.

“If by ‘juicy,’ you mean, ‘pretend and constructed,’ then it’s fantastic so far.”

Unsurprisingly, Seungkwan was disappointed by the answer. “You have to give me more to work with. You’ve at least kissed him, right?”

“Oh, they’ve kissed,” Hasol piped up, “I can’t believe you missed that. Jeonghan was getting into it, and then Choi Seungcheol started—”

“Hansol, don’t exaggerate. It was really short, and it was just part of the scene.” Yes, Jeonghan liked Joshua best out of everyone. He always came to Jeonghan’s rescue when needed. “But did you like it?”

Suddenly, Jeonghan did not like Joshua so much anymore. “Everyone shut up. I can’t really judge from just a little peck, can I? But Seungkwan, I’ll let you know when we film the sex scene so your perverted ass can come watch.”

Seungkwan’s face distorted into a pout. “Speaking off asses, I’m jealous of Seungcheol.”

Hansol snorted. “Why? You want to make out with Jeonghan?”

The stylist ignored him in favor of slamming his fist angrily against the nearest surface. “Because before he showed up, I was the thick one! My ass was the talk of the set, but how can I compete with someone like him? Every time he turns around, I feel the jealousy burning in my gut!”

He seemed genuinely upset, which would have been comical to Jeonghan if it weren’t true. Jeonghan had avoided acknowledging that Seungcheol’s body was just his type, but the actor was broad in all the right places and Jeonghan couldn’t help finding him attractive. He didn’t know if Seungcheol worked out, but he had to do something to look like that. Especially his thighs—Jeonghan was amazed at how thick they were in comparison to his own.

Joshua’s voice brought him out of his thoughts: “Seungkwan, you’re the stylist. If anything, aren’t you the one in control of how good his butt looks? You could sabotage it with baggy pants.”

Seungkwan was quiet for a moment, then turned to Hansol. “Should I get a butt lift?”

“No,” Hansol pat Seungkwan on the shoulder, comforting his friend over something so idiotic, “Bro, your butt’s perfect the way it is.”

After their demonstration of true friendship, Seungkwan was sated, at least until another gossip-worthy topic popped into his head: “Oh! And what’s the deal with your manager?”

“You mean how he’s been chasing after Seungcheol’s manager like a horny teenager? I have no idea,” Jeonghan sighed, “But you guys should be paying more attention to their weird pseudo-courtship instead of being all nosy about me.”

Because Mingyu was actually interested Seungcheol’s manager, and therefore they stood at least some chance of going somewhere. He and Seungcheol, however, were a completely different story. His friends could tease him all they wanted about this made-up romance, but in reality, nothing would ever happen between him and Seungcheol. Jeonghan would make sure of that.

 


 

The small family renting next door to Jeonghan had a teenage son who always impressed him with his social media fluency. Even years ago when he babysat for the Lee family, the boy had constantly been glued to his tablet (partly because Jeonghan did not know how to entertain him otherwise. And really, who hired a babysitter for a 13-year-old?). But now as a smart and mature young man, Lee Chan often went next door to bother Jeonghan as his friend, and not as his responsibility.

Jeonghan made it clear to Chan that he should be honored to have such a celebrity neighbor, never letting Chan forget he was an actor in a real drama. And as Chan did look up to Jeonghan (though he would never admit it), one day he asked the man about an online article he’d found: “Is it true that you have a love affair on set?”

“A love affair?” Jeonghan almost laughed, “Chanie, have you ever seen me bring anyone home in all the years I’ve lived next to you? Being single is a staple of my lifestyle.” But then Jeonghan started thinking—if Chan had heard a rumor about him, where did he hear it from? “Wait, did you see this on the Internet?”

Chan nodded, quickly pulling up a tabloid-esque article on his phone and showing it to Jeonghan. The title read, “Upcoming Drama takes BL sub-plot to new heights.” And after skimming the article, Jeonghan was flattered. His part was quite small; he hadn’t expected to get media attention for this role. It was odd, seeing pictures of himself on the Internet. Of course, nothing was particularly incriminating of a true relationship, but this drama was apparently innovative enough that it deserved an article (either that, or one of Mr. Shin’s PR minions paid the news source enough to write one, which was the more likely story).

The comments section was even more interesting, and probably where Chan came up with his wild idea: “A BL couple?? I hope we get some steamy interactions from them~” “Wow, they’re both cute! I bet they’re a real couple, that would be so hot!” “I wonder which one is the bottom hehe I hope his top treats him well!!!”

Jeonghan had never understood the teenage female population’s fixation with gay men, but suddenly he saw it as an advantage. If this was how Jeonghan could get famous, then why not exploit it as much as possible? Jeonghan liked attention, even if it was for something that could be looked down upon. He didn’t figure out exactly how in the moment, but Jeonghan saw the faint light of potential: he could use this.

“I’m guessing you don’t have a secret on-set love affair, then?” Chan looked almost disappointed.

“I don’t. You have the inside scoop now, Chanie.”

Jeonghan said this as light-hearted as possible, but still, Chan didn’t look pleased with the answer. “You probably think these comments are crazy, then.”

“Not exactly,” Jeonghan told him, “In fact, they might be so perfectly crazy that they’re onto something.”

 


 

Scene Eight of Episode Nine was hardly eventful for Seungcheol; he just had to sit in the background while Jeonghan clung to his arm. They’d been shooting this scene for forty minutes already, since the leading male (a Chinese actor named Wen Junhui) consistently stumbled over one of his lines. Where the director found a famous foreign actor so handsome who also spoke Korean, Seungcheol would pay to know.

Fortunately, after years of acting under his belt, Seungcheol’s patience levels had risen to impressive heights. But as Jeonghan had far less experience and was generally an impulsive person, he had a much harder time dealing with boredom than Seungcheol. Jeonghan’s cheek bounced against Seungcheol’s shoulder in a steady rhythm, deliberately trying to annoy him. “Am I ‘submissive’ enough?” Jeonghan whispered around a grin, making Seungcheol roll his eyes. The only reason why Seungcheol hadn’t pushed him away yet was because of how good Jeonghan’s hair smelled (like pear, which Seungcheol was very fond of).

But Seungcheol, ever one for staying in-character, projected his most fond expression onto Jeonghan and reached up to touch his hair. Instead of being surprised, Jeonghan retaliated by snuggling his head into the crook of Seungcheol’s neck. It had been awkward when they’d rehearsed this with Seokmin, but it was less awkward now. This was all for the camera, so Seungcheol didn’t allow himself to become too comfortable, but he and Jeonghan had become closer every day. He wasn’t about to give Jeonghan the satisfaction of seeing him squirm.

After at least the fifteenth take, Mr. Shin called a short break so everyone could collect their minds before trying again. And as soon as “Take Five” left Mr. Shin’s loud mouth, Jeonghan distanced himself from Seungcheol. The absence made his shoulder catch a chill.

Seungcheol got up from the prop loveseat first, and helped Jeonghan up when the man whined comically about being tired. “What an adorable couple.” The voice did not belong to Jeonghan; in fact, it was a voice Seungcheol had become familiar with after hearing it for the past hour, repeating the same lines.

Wen Junhui was even more charming up close. Seungcheol had only introduced himself briefly to the star earlier, and even then he could tell Junhui was a smooth talker. He had an industry-wide reputation of being able to flatter anyone, and the rumor on-set was that his current target was cameraman Minghao (Seungcheol found this hilarious, since every time he talked to Minghao, the man always made sure to complain about Junhui and how hard he made his job).

“Why thank you,” Jeonghan answered for them, not at all nervous to be speaking with the actor.

Junhui continued, “You guys already have some fans out there, you know?”

Seungcheol did not know. Wonwoo told him before that their subplot was designed to gain viewership, so Seungcheol had accepted that as fact rather than thinking about how. He was surprised when Jeonghan said, “Yeah, it’s crazy. The show hasn’t even aired yet and people already love us.”

Hm. Seungcheol would definitely have to look that up later, or at least ask Wonwoo. “I can see why,” Junhui replied, “You two just look like a couple.” Seungcheol did not know if that was a good or bad thing. “Anyway, Mr. Shin wants some of us to film behind-the-scenes stuff, including me, so don’t be shy if you ever catch me around with a camera, okay?”

He knew Junhui was a big-name actor, but Seungcheol got an odd feeling from him for some reason. Ironically, having cameras everywhere all the time made Seungcheol a bit paranoid. Jeonghan seemed quite enthusiastic about filming behind-the-scenes videos with Junhui for some reason, but Seungcheol wasn’t so sure about the idea. Besides, he and Jeonghan would likely have much more important things to do...

 


 

“Want to practice making out?” Jeonghan did not see any reason to be shy about it; if anything, they should have practiced this a while ago. Only one of their onscreen kisses had been filmed so far, but the script included five total, three of those being more than just a peck.

Seungcheol’s apparent nervousness surprised him; wasn’t he supposed to be the professional one here? But after chuckling (he seemed to do that a lot when he felt awkward, Jeonghan noticed), Seungcheol agreed.

“Okay, stand up,” He couldn’t help being a bit eager; as a longtime single man, Jeonghan didn’t kiss people regularly, and would definitely accept a rehearsed kiss if that was all he could get. Jeonghan grabbed Seungcheol’s arm to help him up, but Seungcheol resisted.

“What, why?” The actor’s eyes darted around, taking note of the dozens of people nearby.

“There’s that one scene where we’re against a wall, right? So we should practice standing up.”

But that wasn’t what Seungcheol was worried about: “No, I mean shouldn’t we go somewhere a bit more… private?”

“Everyone knows we’re just acting,” said Jeonghan, but he could tell this was bothering Seungcheol, and so he made a compromise: “But we can go somewhere else if you want.” It was actually kind of sweet, that Seungcheol had a shy side to him.

(Meanwhile, Seungcheol was becoming more convinced of his theory that Jeonghan was an exhibitionist.)

The two searched for an empty room, eventually deciding on the place where they practiced with Seokmin. It had become a sort of secret space for them, the site where their characters developed and their real-life friendship as well. They both knew this room thoroughly, but now it felt like a strange place all over again. As much as Jeonghan tried to push the feeling down, he could feel the nerves creeping in.

There wasn’t much room to move around here, and limited walls for them to practice against. Jeonghan picked one at random, and backed himself against it. “Alright, let’s do this.” To lessen the tension, he made a ‘come-hither’ motion toward Seungcheol, but it appeared to have the opposite effect.

Seungcheol carefully closed in on Jeonghan (after much hesitation and internal monologuing), his wider frame enveloping Jeonghan’s in a way that should have been claustrophobic but was more comforting. He seemed unsure of what to do, which made Jeonghan laugh and wind his arms around Seungcheol’s shoulders. “Come on, I know you don’t want to kiss me, but we have to do lots of it eventually.”

His co-star finally decided on where to place his hands, fitting them along Jeonghan’s waist. “Should I just…” he glanced at Jeonghan’s lips.

“Go for it.”

Slowly, Seungcheol inched in until his mouth met Jeonghan’s in one smooth moment. His initial impression was that it felt good, especially as he tugged Seungcheol forward to deepen their kiss. Jeonghan tried not to come off as too eager; he just enjoyed kissing people, and as Seungcheol’s awkwardness melted away, he became a pleasure to kiss.

Jeonghan played into the natural momentum of their lips, pulling Seungcheol’s lower lip between his teeth as he saw fit. The action made Seungcheol smile and pull back, warm breath brushing Jeonghan’s mouth as he spoke: “Aren’t you supposed to be submissive?”

That had become a tiny inside joke between them, Mr. Shin’s insistence on Jeonghan’s character traits a source of amusement for both actors. But Jeonghan didn’t want to think about Mr. Shin when he was pressed against Seungcheol like this. “Then maybe you should work harder.”

And Seungcheol accepted the challenge in his words, playing right into Jeonghan’s hand, capturing waiting lips with determination.

They could never have done this on camera without practicing beforehand. Something about kissing someone new had to be experienced privately; figuring out exactly what Seungcheol liked, exactly what made him tug Jeonghan closer.

For one guilty second, Jeonghan let himself forget this was acting.

The first one to introduce tongue in the mix was Jeonghan, once again betraying his character. Seungcheol made no comment about it this time, instead meeting Jeonghan’s tongue with his own. The whole thing was messy, and hot, and Jeonghan would even describe Seungcheol’s lips as addicting. They were perfectly thick, and he tasted better than Jeonghan had expected.

Like everything else in his life, Jeonghan got carried away. He wove his fingers through Seungcheol’s hair, arched his back off the wall so Seungcheol could hold him better. But they only lasted so long before needing to separate. Jeonghan took heavy breaths after Seungcheol’s mouth left his, but Seungcheol immediately lowered his head toward Jeonghan’s neck. He only managed one heated kiss to Jeonghan’s jaw before he seemed to snap out of it entirely, stiffening against Jeonghan’s body.

Jeonghan had to give him credit for playing it off nicely, as if he wasn’t just about to get intimate with Jeonghan’s neck. “That should be good enough practice,” Seungcheol kept a completely straight face, which in itself nearly made Jeonghan laugh.

“I don’t think we’ll have a problem doing that on camera,” Jeonghan pat his shoulder, trying to diffuse the thick atmosphere between them. The line of professionalism was hard to walk, especially with Jeonghan’s informal personality. Really, there was nothing Jeonghan could do to alleviate this new layer of discomfort.

So Jeonghan did exactly nothing; he and Seungcheol went their separate ways for the time being, like everything was normal. Because this was part of the job. Still, an itchy and indescribable feeling came across his skin, similar to how Jeonghan felt when he wanted a shower.

He found Mingyu a few minutes after practicing with Seungcheol (although “practicing” was hardly how Jeonghan would describe it), sitting alone and looking very unlike the manager he was supposed to be. Mingyu greeted him with a bright smile. “Hey, what have you been up to?”

And Jeonghan shrugged, “Not much.”

 


 

Seungcheol did not say hello to Jihoon when he got home that night. Instead, he entered their apartment like a cyclone and flopped down on his bed in a proper starfish position. An actor by trade, sometimes Seungcheol’s knack for dramatics leaked into his real life as well. Face-down on his bed, Seungcheol felt the weight of the world working against him in some obscure physics equation.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Jihoon’s voice was tired, but not the least bit surprised or concerned.

Seungcheol inhaled deeply, catching only the suffocating scent of his sheets. “Remember when you asked if Yoon Jeonghan was a good kisser?”

“I believe you used the term ‘smoocher,’ but yes.”

Jihoon’s wittiness didn’t bother Seungcheol; he actually paid no attention to his roommate and was only using him as a venting mechanism. “Well he is, Jihoon.” Yes, Yoon Jeonghan was so good at kissing that Seungcheol hadn’t stopped thinking about it since. His one-track-mind tendencies were a curse, especially with something like this. How could Seungcheol call himself an actor when he hadn’t been acting at all earlier?

And that got him thinking on other things about Jeonghan. For one, he was beautiful, which only made Seungcheol’s conflictedness worse. He was also funny, and clever, and had this bizarre personality that worked with Seungcheol’s in the best of ways. Really, it was inevitable that Seungcheol would develop a spot of admiration for him—Seungcheol should have realized that the moment they met. Because it was always like this: Seungcheol met someone, he fell for them, and nothing ever came of it because he was always too stubborn or shy or his stupid job got in the way (Yet this time, for some reason, things felt different).

Every night since filming had begun, Seungcheol had dreamt of his role, the script, or the overbearing responsibility of his career. But tonight, he let himself fall asleep to thoughts of contagious smiles and deep brown eyes flecked with gold. Yes, tonight Seungcheol dreamed of Yoon Jeonghan, and it was like a trainwreck. This could be the start of something absolutely disastrous, but just as the trains began to crash into each other, Seungcheol couldn’t bring himself to look away.