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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.

 

Chapter Text

Although Wonwoo did not consider playing therapist to be his forte, somehow he was always the bearer of Seungcheol’s life problems. “I need your professional advice.” His client looked worried, but there was an underlying eagerness to Seungcheol’s expression that gave Wonwoo a better idea of what this was about.

If Wonwoo’s suspicion was correct, that was good news, as he’d be one step closer to winning his bet against that slimy manager Kim Mingyu. He was slightly awed by Seungcheol’s ability to fall for someone so fast. But on the other hand, adding feelings to the mix was risky business. Only one way to find out: “Let me guess, this is about Yoon Jeonghan?”

“Yeah,” Seungcheol sighed, disappointed in himself, “I promised myself I wouldn’t crush on him.”

“But you are?” It was hardly a question; Wonwoo could tell just by looking at Seungcheol that he was in an emotional crisis.

Of course, he should have expected that Seungcheol would deny his feelings: “Not exactly. I just feel the potential, you know? Like right now, I’m holding back and trying not to fall for him, but if I stopped holding back, I definitely would.”

“Sounds like your heart is already set, then,” Wonwoo nodded in understanding, but silently prayed, Please at least sleep with him so I don’t have to go out with Mingyu. “If you like him, you should try flirting with him or something.”

“Isn’t that unprofessional?” Seungcheol’s breathing became uneven as his stress set in more and more, “The director wants us to be actual straight guys playing gay guys. So Jeonghan is straight, right? If he were gay, he wouldn’t have gotten cast.”

Wonwoo smirked. Seeing him so worked up was fun. “I don’t know.” (Although from speaking with Mingyu, Wonwoo could guess that Jeonghan was at least slightly interested in men.) “But what about you? You got cast, and you’re having a pretty non-straight moment right now.”

“I guess you’re right,” Seungcheol let out a noise of defeat that came from his very soul. “What do I do about it, though? Just wait for my feelings to die down?”

No, because if you do that, then I’ll lose my bet, Wonwoo thought, but even without a bet in place, it would be the natural choice. “I think you should get to know him more. A relationship would be good for you. And if you want to, ask him out.” Wonwoo knew he was terrible at this motivation and reassurance stuff, but he tried anyway, “Before filming ends, I think.”

“That would just make everything worse!” Seungcheol tugged at his hair in frustration. He was someone who didn’t work well under stress, but Seungcheol was able to take some deep breaths and a drink of water. “Okay, maybe you’re right. Maybe I just need to take the initiative and accept that I might like him. A little bit. Thanks, Wonwoo.”

“Do I get a raise for helping you?”

Instantly, Seungcheol’s mood changed from conflicted to annoyed. “Don’t count on it.”

Seungcheol left after that (presumably for some self-reflection time), and once Wonwoo was alone, he became the perfect target for bored, overgrown “managers.” But this time, Wonwoo was not angered by the sight of Kim Mingyu. He was actually excited, and got up to approach the man.

“Hello there, stranger,” Mingyu winked shamelessly. His attitude dropped, however, when Wonwoo grinned right back at him and willingly slung an arm around his shoulder. Mingyu cherished any attention from Wonwoo, but this was too abnormal.

“I hope you’re prepared to do some paperwork soon,” Wonwoo’s voice so close to his ear was enough to send shivers down Mingyu’s spine. But his words had the opposite effect.

Mingyu whipped his head around, searching for any sign of the actors, and panicked when he found none. “What? Are they hooking up right now? Where?”

That made Wonwoo laugh (and as Mingyu had never heard his laugh before, he was taken aback by how deep and melodic it was). “I wish. But I now have some inside information that puts me in the lead.”

“In the lead?” Mingyu repeated with a dramatic pout, “You won’t be ‘in the lead’ until they get it on.”

The competitive spirit between them was probably the only thing Wonwoo liked about Mingyu. Besides his face. “I’m just saying I have the upper hand. Don’t be a sore loser; it doesn’t suit you.” He didn’t have anything more to say to Mingyu, so Wonwoo touched his own ear as if his imaginary Bluetooth still existed. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a call to take.”

Wonwoo walked away with an expert poker face, and Mingyu watched him go. He might be confident now, but they both knew this wasn’t over yet.

 


 

In the fourth week of shooting, the PR department decided to hold a press conference. This conference was organized by Kwon Soonyoung, a personable and capable young team leader who would try anything to make his company stand out.

Jeonghan arrived early to the venue, where he was ushered into the makeup room. Usually, Jeonghan was comfortable on set, since he had the company of Joshua and Hansol. But today, not even Seungkwan was present at the conference hall. And with a character that wasn’t one of the four leading actors, Jeonghan had been surprised at Mr. Shin’s invite in the first place. So it was just him, Junhui, the two other lead stars, Minghao (who was only there for Mr. Shin to show off that he had a famous cinematographer on his staff) and of course, Seungcheol.

Nobody had briefed Jeonghan on what actually happened at a press conference. Oddly, he was more nervous for this than he’d been on the first day of filming. But in came Junhui as his saving grace, who arrived shortly after Jeonghan and cornered him in the makeup room for some energetic conversation.

“I did this a lot in China,” Junhui told him, “So I’ll give you some tips. First, we’ll all pose for a bunch of boring photos. Then there will be a tiny stage, and all you have to do is walk up there, sit pretty, and answer any question the reporters give you. It’s all about the media coverage, so don’t give dumb answers and you’ll be fine. There will be a host to walk us through everything, probably Soonyoung.”

His words made something click for Jeonghan: Mr. Shin easily could have invited only the lead actors, but he and Seungcheol were part of something larger. He wanted the media to sell the drama as one that took risks by including a gay couple, and in a way, it was brilliant.

When Seungcheol showed up, Jeonghan greeted him normally, but there was a larger plan working in his mind. Jeonghan wanted the reporters and the media and all of Korea to see the connection these characters had. Lined up for photos (with Jeonghan’s first paparazzi-like experience, which was both overwhelming and flattering), he tried to interact with Seungcheol in silent actions: a wide smile, a slight nudge to the shoulder, a whispered comment about something pointless. And Jeonghan knew that all these photos would be published soon, and the Internet would eat up this reflection of their characters.

(Seungcheol, although he did expect an ulterior motive, was simply glad to be on the receiving end of Jeonghan’s affection. It made the day less boring, as Jeonghan always did.)

After photos came the actual press conference, just as Junhui had explained. With Soonyoung leading the conference, everything was far less complicated than Jeonghan had feared. Not a lot of questions came Jeonghan’s way, but the ones that did were simple: “How does it feel to be a rookie actor in such a high-production drama?” “What can we expect from the romance between your couple?” (And to that, Jeonghan had honestly answered that people had a lot to look forward to.) Since the focus of the reporters was rarely on him, Jeonghan allowed himself to be distracted. He even dared to reach the short distance between them and fiddled with Seungcheol’s hand (by then, Seungcheol had definitely figured out that Jeonghan wanted him to play along. And he did so by holding Jeonghan’s hand on his thigh—a firm sensation Jeonghan couldn’t help but appreciate—but Seungcheol’s expression was somehow empty).

The entire event was over within two hours, and Jeonghan had no idea what to do when it let out. Finding Mingyu was easy, because Mingyu was predictably at the snack station. But that only made Jeonghan hungry, so they decided to stick around and eat (although the snacks had been provided for the press and not the actors).

Jeonghan had just bit into a cupcake when he spotted Seungcheol walking his way. Suddenly, Jeonghan became very conscious of whether there were crumbs down his suit or frosting on his nose. “Hey,” Jeonghan covered his mouth when he greeted the man.

“You look like you’re having more fun now than during the entire press conference,” Seungcheol smiled, and Jeonghan couldn’t quite get past how polished he looked in a suit, “I might get a snack, too. I can’t find my manager.”

Mingyu piped up, his mouth also full, “Do you have his number?”

“I do, but—”

“Can you give it to me?”

Jeonghan groaned, and spun around to smack Mingyu’s chest. “You need to chill.” Then he reached for another cupcake and offered it to Seungcheol. “While you’re here, cheers to a successful first press conference.” There was no champagne around, so cupcakes would have to do.

It was something so dumb that if anyone else had said it, Seungcheol would have laughed. But this was Jeonghan, and anything Jeonghan did could make Seungcheol weak (Besides, he had a spot of frosting on his nose that Seungcheol found too adorable). There was nothing but fondness in his tone as he touched his cupcake to Jeonghan’s half-eaten one and said, “Cheers.”

(In the taxi later on, Mingyu said that Jeonghan and Seungcheol were ‘gross’ for how comfortable they had become with each other, but Jeonghan chalked it up to jealousy. While he couldn’t wait to see what the news outlets had to say about their blatant fanservice, Jeonghan was more preoccupied with how enjoyable the day had been by Seungcheol’s side.)

 


 

“When are you going to run the scene where your man pins you to the bed like a lion?”

Jeonghan gave Mingyu his most baffled look, “What are you talking about?”

“It’s in Episode Thirteen,” Mingyu tossed him his copy of the script, “Wonwoo told me about it.”

“Oh, Wonwoo? Are you guys buddy-buddy now?” His voice came out teasing, but as Jeonghan flipped through the script for Episode 13, he became a bit anxious.

Mingyu scoffed, “I wish. He hates me, Jeonghan. Do you know how it feels to have a hot guy hate you? Not good.”

But Jeonghan completely missed Mingyu’s response, instead skimming the pages of Scene Eleven. Apparently he hadn’t read the script too closely the first time, because there in black ink was a passage that made Jeonghan’s eyes bulge:

 

(HYUNGIL pulls MINSEONG into his lap, and the two kiss passionately. MINSEONG’s shirt comes off, and after more kissing, HYUNGIL flips their position with ease so that he is on top of MINSEONG.)

MINSEONG: We can’t tonight. This is Areum’s house.

HYUNGIL: You know I have trouble controlling myself around you. Then I’ll call a rain check for now, but don’t expect me to be gentle next time we’re alone, angel.

(They stand up off the bed and resume their romantic activities, but more reserved this time.)

 

The whole gag, predictably, was that Areum would walk in and blow a fuse when she saw them making out, which caused her to trust the characters less in the end.

As Jeonghan read the passage, silently mouthing the words, Mingyu spoke over Jeonghan’s mise-en-scène: “I, for one, am looking forward to it. It’ll probably be hot. Wonwoo said you guys are getting paid good money for this scene.”

Jeonghan summoned his vague coordination skills to successfully throw the script at Mingyu’s head. “Shut up about Wonwoo! And I’d better get paid well, because this is like fake porn.” As soon as Mingyu started to argue about how All porn productions are fake, actually, Jeonghan walked away.

His first reaction was to find Seungcheol. That seemed to be Jeonghan’s reaction to a lot of things lately, but he didn’t want to think about that now. Meanwhile, Seungcheol was simply minding his own business and listening to music while Wonwoo filtered through e-mails next to him.

“Seungcheol!” Jeonghan called to get his attention.

Wonwoo pulled one of Seungcheol’s earbuds out and pointed toward Jeonghan, “Your boyfriend’s here.”

Seungcheol didn’t flinch at his manager’s passing comment; he was just glad to see Jeonghan. They hadn’t seen each other all morning, and Seungcheol found himself missing Jeonghan whenever they were apart. It was pathetic, but Seungcheol secretly liked the feeling. He shut off his music to give Jeonghan his full attention: “Hey, how are you?”

“Fine, you?” Before Seungcheol could answer, Jeonghan corrected himself, “I mean I’m not fine, because I was reading the script—which you should be doing, by the way—”

“I’m just taking a little break,” Seungcheol butted in, defensive, and next to him Wonwoo smiled at the couples’ banter. “I know the script, Jeonghan.”

“If you know it, then what about Scene 11 of Episode 13?”

For some reason, that particular combination stood out in Seungcheol’s mind. The he remembered: Wonwoo had mentioned that scene, specifically highlighting how sexy it was. “That’s the one where we almost do the thing, right?”

Jeonghan obviously found that hilarious. “‘Do the thing?’ You mean the one where we almost screw like animals? Because that’s the scene.”

Wonwoo took that opportunity to back out, weakly excusing himself for a drink of water.

“Why, are we filming it soon?” Seungcheol asked, “Or are you just nervous about it?” Seungcheol was very nervous himself (he became that way over anything with Jeonghan, unfortunately) but he pretended the scene was no big deal.

“I just don’t want you to flip me over and I get injured.”

It sounded almost like an excuse, but Seungcheol tried to ease Jeonghan’s mind anyway: “Let’s practice it now, then.”

Seungcheol knew they would be running this scene later with Seokmin. He knew that, and yet he still wanted to practice this in advance with Jeonghan.

Every time since their original make-out session (which still burned clearly in Seungcheol’s mind), the pair had opted for practicing in the workshop room. But this scene required a bed with some space to move, and the only place nearby like that was the actual bedroom set. Seungcheol did not enjoy practicing out in the open, especially since most of their scenes were overtly romantic, but there seemed to be no other choice. Of course, Jeonghan had no issue with practicing in public, once again strengthening Seungcheol’s exhibitionist theory.

The bedroom set had been designed for luxury, and since no lights were plugged in, the space was cast in shadow. It truly felt romantic, which only made Seungcheol’s stomach flip.

But as always, Jeonghan was all about being professional. Seungcheol was thankful that he didn’t make things awkward or get embarrassed easily; they balanced each other like that. Without prompting, Jeonghan sat on the bed and patted the space next to him. “Let’s go.”

So Seungcheol did; he laid down just like the script said to. “How should we—do you want to—” Thankfully, Seungcheol didn’t have to stammer for long before Jeonghan understood and got into his position as well.

‘His position’, unfortunately, was directly on top of Seungcheol with his legs bracing either side of Seungcheol’s hips. It was a position that could only be provocative, something very intimate that was completely out of Seungcheol’s comfort zone. Jeonghan was heavy (as expected of a fully-grown man), but his weight on Seungcheol’s body felt unusually welcome.

“I like this a lot better than acting super shy all the time,” Jeonghan smiled down at him. His hands linked with Seungcheol’s naturally, and Jeonghan asked, “You ready?”

“Action,” Seungcheol whispered. The first part of the scene involved them kissing, and both men knew the drill by now: Jeonghan bent his head so his cheek was near Seungcheol’s, without their mouths ever touching. They always saved the real kisses for the camera, but when Jeonghan was so close like this, it was hard to resist kissing him right now.

How was Jeonghan staying so calm? Just being near him set something off in Seungcheol. This was only practice; he shouldn’t feel anything. But Seungcheol sensed this electricity between them that was almost unbearable. He wondered if Jeonghan felt it, too.

“So then you flip me over,” Jeonghan’s voice was far too close to his ear, “Try not to hurt me.”

Seungcheol would not consider himself too strong, but he channeled his energy into rolling over so Jeonghan would land on his back. The first attempt was more of a blundering twist of limbs than anything, too close to wrestling to be sexy (but it made Jeonghan laugh, so Seungcheol wasn’t disappointed by the failure. With more practice, they learned exactly how to make the move look effortless—with Jeonghan’s ankles hooked around Seungcheol’s legs, and Seungcheol’s arm supporting Jeonghan’s back.

“This is kind of fun, actually,” Jeonghan admitted softly, gazing up at Seungcheol after having just been flipped over. They could have easily stopped practicing now, but Seungcheol was enjoying himself far too much with Jeonghan beneath him. It felt like something a real couple would do (and Seungcheol had to remind himself between intimate moments that they weren’t a real couple).

“And to our left, we have these two lovebirds,” That wasn’t Jeonghan’s voice, and when Seungcheol turned his head, he saw Junhui with a camera pointed at them.

“Are you filming this?” Jeonghan asked, immediately embarrassed by the situation.

Junhui nodded, “I told you I’d be filming behind-the-scenes footage,” There was no escaping this; Junhui was a merciless advocate of fanservice, and now he wore a confident smile. “How about you guys tell us what you’re working on?”

Seungcheol cleared his throat and both men sat up on the bed, untangling from each other and ignoring Junhui’s note of, It’s okay, you can stay there if you want. “We were just running a scene, I won’t spoil it,” Seungcheol smiled at the camera, unconsciously placing his hand on Jeonghan’s shoulder.

“You’ll see it when the episode comes out,” That was Jeonghan’s way of saying, ‘Please get the camera away from us,’ and Junhui fortunately took the hint.

The star lowered the camera, but instead of leaving, he sat down next to Seungcheol and Jeonghan on the bed. “I’m glad I caught you at the right time,” he said, “The fans are going to eat it up, watching all the juicy videos—”

“Hey,” Jeonghan cut in, “Don’t you practice your own scenes like this? Let us live.”

Junhui just laughed, which devolved into a deep sigh. “At least you guys get to make out with each other all the time. I have to make out with a woman.”

Seungcheol didn’t know what to make of how casual Junhui seemed with Jeonghan lately. Maybe it was a case of their personalities naturally syncing well together, but Seungcheol let himself stupidly worry it was something more. He liked Junhui and admired him as an actor, but Seungcheol’s heart had begun this possessiveness toward Jeonghan that made his insides knot up.

So he watched, as Jeonghan rolled his eyes at Junhui and said, “Boo hoo; you’re getting paid way more than us. Now go away, we have more practicing to do!”

That was untrue. They had already practiced more than enough, but Seungcheol would gladly run the scene again for hours if Jeonghan wanted to. Junhui left them soon after with a wink and a, ‘Have fun, boys,’ and once again, Jeonghan settled himself in Seungcheol’s lap to be flipped over. He loved the way his palms fit around Jeonghan’s waist, loved the hot energy in the air around them.

“How much longer do you want to practice for?” Seungcheol asked, “If you’re tired, we can stop.”

At that, Jeonghan made a face. “Are you tired?”

He heard the message: “We can stop when you want to.” And Jeonghan’s trust in him raised a spot of guilt. Because if Seungcheol had his way, they would stay forever like this, and maybe after a while Seungcheol would imagine it wasn’t practice anymore.

 


 

Despite the ease of the first scene they’d shot together, every scene following took much longer to perfect. Mr. Shin was never satisfied with the result, always saying the actors were lacking their initial “spark.” And it was true—Seungcheol’s theory was that the first scene was so simple because they’d been strangers then. Now, with weeks of socialization under their belts, Seungcheol and Jeonghan’s real-life rapport was much more complicated. No matter how good of an actor Seungcheol was, he couldn’t erase his thoughts about Jeonghan while he was supposed to be thinking of Minseong.

And so, every filming night for five days had been late ones. Seungcheol didn’t step off-set until around midnight. This schedule was taking a toll on him, and Jeonghan, and Wonwoo, and everyone else involved. They just couldn’t connect as well on camera anymore, and Seungcheol was left to figure out what had changed so much. With over twenty takes for each long shot, Seungcheol was convinced he’d lost his touch.

He’d kissed Jeonghan so many times in the past two days that they both lost count. This was dangerous, at least for Seungcheol, because the intimacy started coming naturally. He already liked Jeonghan (just the smallest bit, of course), and the bad news was, he never got tired of kissing him. And off-set, sitting idly on the sidelines or talking with Minghao at the monitor station, Seungcheol had started clinging. Placing a casual hand on Jeonghan’s back, pulling him into a hug when they wrapped up a scene. Oddly enough, Jeonghan began clinging, too.

Like now—Mr. Shin called a wrap, and Jeonghan even reached for Seungcheol as if expecting a hug (which Seungcheol would never deprive him of, but he was scared of becoming too comfortable with touching Jeonghan).

Usually after filming ended, Seungcheol packed up, bid everyone goodnight, and took the subway home with Wonwoo. But today as he packed up, Jeonghan tapped him on the shoulder and said, “My manager is missing.”

Seungcheol looked around—no sign of Wonwoo, either. “He’s probably sneaking around with my manager.”

(Wonwoo had actually gone off to find his jacket on the other side of the set, with no idea of or care for Kim Mingyu’s whereabouts. When Seungcheol later teased him about being MIA at the same time as Mingyu, Wonwoo threatened premature retirement.)

Jeonghan let out a genuine laugh, which was always a treat for Seungcheol to hear. “Well, they don’t deserve to have fun while we’ve been busting our asses working, do they?” Immediately, Seungcheol jumped to the wildest conclusion of where Jeonghan was going with this. He was tempted to ask, ‘Do you suggest we go have fun, too?’ before Jeonghan continued: “Have you eaten yet?”

“Me?” Seungcheol had not thought about food in hours. “I had a light dinner. But I could really go for Dinner Part Two right now.”

“Then it’s settled!” Jeonghan clapped dramatically and took Seungcheol by the wrist, “Let’s go get food.”

They agreed on a hole-in-the wall noodle bar neither had been to before (and also the only restaurant open so late). And they ordered an appetizer, which oddly pleased Seungcheol (perhaps it was the way Jeonghan phrased the order in, “We’ll share it”).

Although Jeonghan had wanted their impromptu meal to be a fun reward after working all day, things were slow right from the start. Seungcheol didn’t know how to talk to Jeonghan if it wasn’t about acting.

But without realizing it, over time the two had built up an effortless chemistry that ran deeper than basic interaction. Seungcheol didn’t have to worry about what to say to Jeonghan, because soon the conversation started flowing naturally. It was like he and Jeonghan were the only two in the noodle bar; everything clicked and neither man had to stress about work at that moment. Even though they were technically co-workers, Seungcheol wanted to move beyond that with Jeonghan, and tonight felt like a wonderful start.

Just after their meals arrived, Seungcheol asked Jeonghan how he got into acting. And Jeonghan’s “origin story” wasn’t too unconventional, but the passion in his voice made Seungcheol stop eating just to listen to every word Jeonghan had to say. “How are you enjoying this, though?” Jeonghan asked. He was leaning into the table as if Seungcheol had his undivided attention. “I know the drama itself isn’t that great, but do you like filming it?”

There was the underlying question of, “Do you like acting with me?” and Seungcheol could see the rare worry in his eyes, like he was nervous to hear Seungcheol’s answer. “Honestly, I almost turned down the role at first. I really didn’t want to do this.” And he watched Jeonghan’s expression shift as his foot lightly tapped Jeonghan’s beneath the table, “But now I’m so glad I did.”

Jeonghan grinned, and Seungcheol’s gaze caught on when he licked his lips before saying, “Me too. This is dumb, but if there’s anyone I’d have to play this part with, I’m happy it’s you.”

That wasn’t dumb. Seungcheol had been thinking the same thing since their first workshop together. Whoever had cast the drama had obviously seen the potential for their personalities to match up, with results that were too perfect. Seungcheol echoed Jeonghan: “Same here.”

Across from him, Jeonghan took a bite of his noodles (with no effort to eat politely, which Seungcheol appreciated), a content spark in his eyes. After a moment, he looked away from Seungcheol, scrunching up his nose—“Wow. This is spicy.”

Seungcheol didn’t want to laugh at his pain, but Jeonghan’s red cheeks made it hard for Seungcheol to suppress his chuckle. “Do you want to swap? Mine’s pretty mild.”

(Even though Seungcheol was not a fan of spicy food, he took Jeonghan’s bowl of noodles anyway. Seeing relief and appreciation on Jeonghan’s face made every bite worth the burn.)

Instead of going home after the meal (which Seungcheol realized halfway through was almost like a date), Seungcheol wandered around the brightly-lit streets with Jeonghan. Something about the nightlife had always interested Seungcheol, but he’d never had anyone to explore it with before. All they did was walk, and Seungcheol still had fun. It was an aimless sort of adventure between two people who didn’t feel at all like co-workers.

He tried to keep in mind that their fun would come to an end. And sure enough, after twenty minutes of roaming the streets together, Jeonghan got a text: “It’s from Mingyu,” Jeonghan said, “He wants to know where I am. I’m telling him you abducted me.”

Seungcheol clapped him on the shoulder. “If anything, you abducted me first.”

The actor only smiled. His reached down to grab Seungcheol’s wrist, as if afraid to hold his hand. “Come on, we only have a few minutes to do more dumb shit before Mingyu shows up and spoils our fun. What do you want to do?”

He made it sound like this time alone was something to be treasured (or maybe Seungcheol only heard it that way because he felt that way himself), but to Seungcheol it didn’t matter what they did. Everything was fun because it was with Jeonghan (and if Seungcheol had said that out loud, he would have cringed at how hopelessly attached he was).

They ended up sitting on the lip of a fountain and showing each other stupid photos on their phones. It was nice to laugh with someone, and even in such a busy part of town Seungcheol was focused on Jeonghan and nothing else. “Let’s take a picture together,” Jeonghan sounded excited, immediately raising his phone and curling into Seungcheol’s space. His head lolled onto Seungcheol’s shoulder, and with a smile (without waiting for Seungcheol to prepare), he snapped a photo.

In the photo, Jeonghan looked stunning (as he always did, but the city lights were soft on his face as Seungcheol had never seen before) while Seungcheol had his eyes closed. But they were both smiling so naturally; they looked happy. Jeonghan’s eyes weren’t directed at the camera, but at Seungcheol instead. And it almost made Seungcheol sick, with how much this screamed “couple photo”. “Not your best look,” Jeonghan teased, keeping his head on Seungcheol’s shoulder, “But we’re not taking another one. I like this one.”

(The common question, thirty minutes later in the back of a dusty cab after Mingyu had stolen Jeonghan away, was, “Why are you checking your phone so much?” And Jeonghan refused to give his manager a clear answer, simply shrugging and glancing at his phone screen again. His phone felt heavier now with Seungcheol’s number in it, but Jeonghan kept going back to that photo of them. To a stranger, it would appear as a photo of a young couple out at night, but Jeonghan knew better. He knew better, and that was why the photo set something empty off inside him.)

 


 

Jeonghan had a secret.

Even realizing it himself had been a moment of conflict, so naturally, nobody could find out about this. Not Mingyu, not Chan, not his friends on-set, and most certainly not Seungcheol. Because Jeonghan liked Choi Seungcheol, and he didn’t know how to handle that.

When Jeonghan’s entire career depended on being another person, it was sometimes hard to stay true to himself. But shortly after Jeonghan’s “great revelation”, as he came to know it (last week after wrapping a scene with Seungcheol, when Seungcheol had hugged and congratulated him and Jeonghan had this wild passing thought of I like him so much), all at once it became nearly impossible to act like he wasn’t slowly falling for Seungcheol.

He hadn’t been romantically attached to anyone in years, and never in a serious relationship. At nearly 25 years old, Jeonghan was reaching the point where he’d accepted his identity as a happily single man; nothing was able to change his mind. But when thinking about Seungcheol, imagining a real relationship with him, Jeonghan felt completely ready to settle down forever. The thing he’d avoided his entire life had become a thing he desired. Why, suddenly, did Jeonghan find himself craving something new?

There was a question, at some point, of whether this was The Feeling. A fabled emotion his parents had talked about long ago, where he’d eventually meet someone and know they were The One. Jeonghan had never looked at Seungcheol and thought, “That’s my Mr. Right,” but if it wasn’t Seungcheol, then who else could it be? The intimacy he experienced when acting with Seungcheol was remarkable, and every conversation with him was refreshing. Obviously they had wonderful chemistry, but Jeonghan’s mind often took it further than that. What was Seungcheol like in bed? Was he good with kids? Those thoughts should have been the first sign that Jeonghan viewed Seungcheol differently from everyone else.

When kissing him took Jeonghan’s breath away, talking to him separated Jeonghan from any negativity in his mind, and thinking about him made Jeonghan warm and floating—he knew he was in too deep, and Jeonghan adored every second of it. He’d never felt like this before, and it was changing him. On top of becoming a better actor, even Mingyu was recently suspicious of Jeonghan’s random bursts of kindness.

But then there was the reality: each morning when Jeonghan walked on set, he was reminded that everything he was experiencing wasn’t allowed. Whether or not Seungcheol liked him didn’t matter, because he wasn’t allowed to be in a relationship with Seungcheol. It could end his career (which had only just started but was quickly evolving into something Jeonghan was not willing to give up yet).

So Jeonghan would do what he needed to. He would act, until everything on-camera was more real than anything behind the scenes when Jeonghan was trying desperately to hide how much Seungcheol affected him. And this would be the best damn performance of Jeonghan’s career.

 


 

Although Wonwoo valued professionalism, he would consider Seungcheol a close friend as well as a client. And as a friend, Seungcheol’s life issues were something Wonwoo took seriously. He wanted to find a way to help Seungcheol, not as his manager, but as someone who cared about him.

It wasn’t as if Seungcheol’s new romantic interest was anything to have an intervention over (Wonwoo was actually amused by Jeonghan’s effect on him), but it was technically Wonwoo’s job to organize Seungcheol’s life anyway. Besides, he had a bet to win.

But as romance wasn’t something Wonwoo had time for himself, he didn’t know how to go about helping Seungcheol. The answer came to him, oddly enough, while tidying his apartment. Wonwoo found a small paper square on his dresser, easy to pass up if he wasn’t looking for it. He nearly threw the paper away, but when he caught sight of a certain name, Wonwoo knew exactly what this was: Kim Mingyu’s business card, given to him when they first met.

He must have taken the card out of his suit pocket that day and forgotten to throw it out (or burn it, which Wonwoo had intended to do). But for some reason, Wonwoo had held onto the card, and he was almost glad. In novice-looking typeface was Mingyu’s contact information.

And if anyone on the planet would be willing to give Wonwoo a hand, it was that man.

Reluctantly, Wonwoo dialed the number on the card (from his work phone, of course; no way in hell would he ever want Kim Mingyu to have his cell phone number), and was surprised when the line picked up on the first ring. “Hello?”

“Hello,” Wonwoo spoke as professionally as possible, “This is Jeon Wonwoo.”

“I know,” Mingyu’s voice was far less professional, obviously happy that Wonwoo had called him, “I have your number saved.”

“From where?” Did he even want to know the answer?”

“Your business card, silly.” Why did his voice sound like he expected them to engage in phone sex? (Mingyu was actually nervous; he’d only picked up the phone in panic at seeing Wonwoo’s number, like a celebrity had called him.)

Wonwoo sighed, with a passing sense of flattery that Mingyu had saved his card as well, “I called you for a reason, but I can hang up if you want to try me.”

On the line, Mingyu bit his tongue from saying something like, ‘I’d love to try you,’ opting for the much safer option of, “I’m all ears.”

“You can probably guess this is about our clients. Everything stays between us here, okay?”

“Yessir.”

Usually when speaking over the phone, Wonwoo had a notepad or some kind of message prepared beforehand. Now, he was working with nothing but his own thoughts, and that made him a bit anxious. “I don’t know what Yoon Jeonghan has mentioned to you, but Seungcheol did tell me that he’s… interested, in your client.”

There was a pause, then, “Oh. Jeonghan hasn’t said anything to me.”

And Wonwoo can feel his veil of professionalism crumble by the second. “I hate to admit this, but I was hoping you could help me.” He could almost hear Mingyu grinning through the phone.

“You mean, we could play matchmaker?”

“If you don’t want to, I’ll try something myself anyway. I know that isn’t exactly in your favor.”

Wonwoo wanted him to know he certainly hadn’t forgotten about their bet. Mingyu didn’t seem to pick up on what he was saying, though, and answered, “Sweetheart, I’d love nothing more than to be your partner in crime.”

Wonwoo felt that shiver from the pit of his stomach. “It’s like you enjoy sabotaging yourself. Are you free today?” He didn’t want to meet up with Mingyu outside of work—definitely not—but some things just had to be done.

“I can clear my schedule.” (Wonwoo doubted he had anything going on in the first place.)

They met at a bake shop by Mingyu’s office (allegedly, as Wonwoo didn’t see anything remotely like a corporate building nearby), and as usual, Mingyu was disgustingly handsome. He hadn't even bothered to dress well, confirming Wonwoo’s suspicion that he hadn’t been busy at all, but the plain black T-Shirt he wore looked so good on him that it made Wonwoo’s eye twitch.

Then again, Wonwoo was dressed casually as well, which Mingyu made sure to comment on in an unnecessary compliment. And then he offered to buy Wonwoo a muffin; it was like he wanted to butter Wonwoo up (and how did he know about his well-concealed sweet tooth?) but Wonwoo refused to be swayed. He did not, however, refuse the free muffin.

“Wait a second,” Mingyu said before they had even begun talking about the issue at hand, “You’re a sly dog. You just want to win the bet, don’t you? Why should I help if it gets me one step closer to being your paperwork slave?”

Unfortunately, he wasn’t as dumb as Wonwoo had thought. Attractive and smart was a rare combo, and it made Wonwoo’s skin crawl to know that Mingyu was both. “Because we’d be even, then. Isn’t this like us eating together right now? So it’s like you’ve already won.”

That shut Mingyu up, but the tall man did mutter something like, “We agreed on ‘dinner,’ unless you eat muffins for dinner.”

Surprisingly, they worked very well together. Both men had the same goal in mind, and that was for their friends to be happy. Within an hour, they developed a genius plan that would at least open the door to a relationship between the actors. Wonwoo had even brought his day planner along, and everything was perfectly coordinated by Wonwoo and Mingyu.

“What’s our next step?” Mingyu leaned into the table, “Just wait for them to get closer before our plan starts?”

“No, we should be pushing them,” Wonwoo replied, “Anytime Jeonghan talks to you about Seungcheol, be very encouraging. That way, the idea of a relationship won’t seem so scary.”

Mingyu sighed dreamily, obviously trying to get a reaction out of Wonwoo, “You’re so clever.”

Compliments were usually pleasant surprises for Wonwoo, but coming from Mingyu’s voice, they made him feel itchy. “Have you ever heard someone say that flattery will get you nowhere?”

The other man looked unbothered. “I can still try.” (And Wonwoo hadn’t considered that Mingyu was being serious this entire time instead of mocking Wonwoo, but the carefree smile caused his perception of Mingyu to change the slightest bit.) “Now, let’s put the finishing touches on our game plan.”

Just like that, the two were back to work. Even though everything about Mingyu peeved Wonwoo to no end, setting aside those differences for this brief time gave Wonwoo less of a headache than he’d expected. So if anyone asked, Wonwoo did not enjoy their little conference at the bake shop. But when they put their minds together, Wonwoo couldn’t ignore the untapped potential (and that gave him a headache more than anything).

 


 

The first episode of Heart of Fabric aired three months after they began filming. This being his first role, Jeonghan did not know whether three months was long enough time to produce anything worth watching, so he was nervous to see the result. Nobody in the cast had watched any finalized footage; the first time Jeonghan would see any clips of the drama was with everyone else, the night it premiered on television.

Naturally, this was a big event for Jeonghan. He invited Mingyu to his apartment for a viewing party, but Mingyu was visiting with family. Still, Jeonghan wanted someone to share in his accomplishment. So in the end, Lee Chan came over from next door to watch Episode 1 with Jeonghan.

Chan was almost as excited as Jeonghan, asking, “When do you show up?” even during the opening sequence (which Jeonghan, bitterly, did not make an appearance in, while Seungcheol did.) Apparently, three months was more than enough time to produce a quality drama, because Jeonghan was very impressed by how polished it looked. If he didn’t know all the actors personally, he wouldn’t have dreamed he was a part of something like this.

Of course, the drama itself was campy and not the kind of television Jeonghan enjoyed (but he remembered that Chan had a secret liking for sappy romantic stuff like this). To keep himself from getting too bored, Jeonghan interrupted the episode with facts of his own, like how Junhui had taken forty minutes to get that cut right, or to pick out Hansol’s split-second cameo in the background of a scene, then pause his TV to take an unflattering picture and send it to Hansol. (Every time Jeonghan did something like this, Chan told him to shut up as respectfully as possible.)

When Seungcheol’s character was first introduced, Jeonghan announced, “That’s my hubby,” perhaps too excitedly.

Chan made a very childish noise, like a primary school student teasing his classmate about a crush. “Oooooh, he’s handsome!” The boy nudged Jeonghan’s shoulder and wiggled his brows, which Jeonghan laughed at.

“Are you five years old? I know he’s handsome; I wouldn’t want an ugly man, Chanie.”

Watching Seungcheol’s first scene was almost surreal. If Jeonghan were a teenage girl watching this right now, he probably would have fallen for Seungcheol’s character. He found it difficult to separate Seungcheol from the man on screen, Hyungil.

Jeonghan was only in one scene in the first episode, and his only line was, “Dinner will be ready soon, ma’am.” He knew exactly when it was coming, from picturing the script in his head, but seeing his face on screen still caught Jeonghan off-guard. In the scene, Hyungil and his arranged fiancée Areum walked into the kitchen while dinner was being prepared by the chefs. Hyungil kept focusing on one chef, obviously trying to get his attention, and that chef was Minseong. Jeonghan didn’t realize that was him until Chan shook his shoulder and yelled out, “Look, there you are!”

Jeonghan became very concentrated on the screen, trying to discern the difference between this character and himself. Because it didn’t look like himself; the man looked like Minseong, a lovelorn chef who smiled shyly at every glance from Hyungil. The editing was most convincing, panning from Minseong to Hyungil in a way that made their connection apparent. And Jeonghan discovered something that night: he did not like watching himself on television. Every time the camera moved to him, Jeonghan wanted to crawl under his couch. It was simply weird to see himself as a character, because Jeonghan knew himself very well, and this was like a bizarre uncanny valley.

“Ooooh,” Chan’s teasing voice floated back into Jeonghan’s ears, “You look like you’re really into him!”

“I told you I’m a good actor, Chan. You should believe me more often,” Jeonghan scoffed.

At the next commercial break, he got a text. It was from Seungcheol, reading, “Are you watching the premiere? Your part turned out really well~”

He texted back, “It was only one scene :/ meanwhile you’re out there stealing hearts lol”

“What are you smiling about?” Chan asked, once again proving his immaturity.

“Mind your own business, little boy.”

Maybe Jeonghan had such a hard time watching the episode because he wasn’t so different from his character at all.

 


 

“Alright, boys, this is your time to shine!” Mr. Shin’s excitement did not match the lazy atmosphere on-set, where Jeonghan and Seungcheol lounged around on the bed prop (which was starting to feel too much like a real bed.) “I’m looking for sexy and hot. If this scene isn’t banned from at least one daytime TV network, you aren’t doing enough.”

Seungcheol had not felt any nervousness all day for this scene—after all, he’d already kissed Jeonghan plenty of times, so what difference would it make to push the limits a bit? But once Jeonghan took his shirt off and handed it to Seungkwan, that’s when the nerves set in. Not only was Jeonghan stunning as usual, but he looked at Seungcheol with deep-set hunger. Seungcheol knew it was just Minseong getting ready to break out, but what if Seungcheol took this too far? What if he gave into his desires and stopped acting halfway through? He didn’t want to think about that.

The worst part was that there were no rules for this scene. “The pair makes love,” was the only script direction, not explaining how they should go about doing so. How much improvisation was Jeonghan up for? How long would they have to have pretend-sex while the entire crew (and likely some of the other cast members) watched? They’d practiced this for at least two hours with Seokmin, but with minimal nudity and strictly cheek-kisses. No matter how prepared Seungcheol was, things would be different this time.

“Let’s do this,” Jeonghan spoke with confidence, going in for a hi-five that did nothing for Seungcheol’s feelings. “I’ll try not to pop a boner.”

That threw him off-guard, followed by a panic; getting hard was not an issue Seungcheol had considered. But it was a very real possibility, and so Seungcheol said, “No worries,” just in case the same happened to him.

As the set was being prepared, Seungkwan took it upon himself to style them. Essentially, it was “de-styling”, since he handed out some underwear and told them to put it on under their character outfits. Jeonghan had no qualms about changing in front of Seungcheol, which was expected, as Seungcheol had learned weeks ago of Jeonghan’s shamelessness. But as much as Seungcheol tried to look away from Jeonghan and give him privacy, Jeonghan was truly hard to take his eyes off of. Every contour of his body was attractive to Seungcheol, and he could only appreciate Jeonghan properly because he knew Jeonghan. That was what made him sexy; there was nobody else like Jeonghan.

(And right before they began, out of Seungcheol’s sight, Seungkwan gave his friend a pep talk. It hardly did the job of preparing Jeonghan for the scene, but more so reminded Jeonghan that his friends would be watching him “lose his camera virginity,” as Seungkwan called it. Minutes later, they were ready to begin.)

When Seungcheol kissed him the first time, Jeonghan began laughing and they had to start over. Jeonghan dealt with stress by turning it into humor, and so Seungcheol knew he was nervous, too. And the second take, they didn’t make it a minute before the same thing happened (which Jeonghan did apologize for, but Mr. Shin was less than pleased).

“Third time’s a charm,” Jeonghan said as they were being re-positioned by assistants.

“Really, you aren’t going to break character this time?” Seungcheol teased.

Jeonghan beamed at him from his place beneath Seungcheol. “It’s just funny.”

“What’s funny?” But he never told Seungcheol, because the next moment, they were being cued to start the scene again.

As Hyungil, he kissed Minseong gently, laying his lover down onto the soft bed. That was as far as Seungcheol made it before Hyungil melted away. And then it was all Seungcheol, holding the man he loved, kissing him deep until he keened off the mattress. He didn’t need a script for this, because Seungcheol did what his body felt was right.

Jeonghan slowed things down while he unbuttoned Seungcheol’s shirt, and once it was gone his thin hands stretched down Seungcheol’s skin. Seungcheol was completely absorbed in Jeonghan, but couldn’t erase all the eyes on him, only a few meters away. Dozens of people were watching them now. Mr. Shin called directions out, which Seungcheol would have appreciated in any other situation except when they were distracting him from his time with Jeonghan. “Minseong, shirt off!” The mics overhead weren’t able to pick up distant voices, but Mr. Shin’s loud orders might have broken that threshold.

Still, Jeonghan did as he was told without missing a beat, and Seungcheol helped him until they were both shirtless. In the back of his mind, Seungcheol remembered how Seokmin had choreographed this scene, and tried to follow it as closely as possible. But he couldn’t help adding more to it, and he could tell Jeonghan was holding back from being aggressive like he wanted to.

Just as they’d rehearsed, Seungcheol trailed his mouth down Jeonghan’s neck and chest, lips gentle against his pulse. Seungcheol had discovered, through practicing this so many times, that Jeonghan’s neck was extremely sensitive, especially at the base of his throat. When Seungcheol’s teeth grazed this area, a genuine moan escaped from Jeonghan. It was exciting, how Seungcheol could arouse Jeonghan even when they were pretending (because this was pretend, and Seungcheol had to keep reminding himself of that).

From his throat, Seungcheol next turned the attention to Jeonghan’s chest. His lips fit over the man’s nipple, once again earning a beautiful noise from Jeonghan. He remembered when they first practiced this and how awkward it had been, but now there was no discomfort and Seungcheol sucked graciously along Jeonghan’s chest.

“Next part!” Mr. Shin called. The next stage of the scene was the implication of a blowjob. Seungcheol had been nervous when Seokmin first told them this, and now it made him nervous for different reasons. His job was easy—all Seungcheol had to do was hover over Jeonghan’s crotch and the camera would take care of the rest. It was hardly intimate, with sheets creating an effective barrier between himself and Jeonghan, but Jeonghan definitely got the short end of the stick. Since the camera was on him only, he clutched Seungcheol’s hair desperately, throwing his head back—when he did that, it wasn’t hard for Seungcheol to imagine what sex with him would really be like. And that was sweet torture.

“Cut!” Seungcheol heard someone shout, and rather than stopping, he tilted his head to place a kiss on Jeonghan’s hip, making Jeonghan giggle. “Cut, cut!” Mr. Shin yelled again, audibly annoyed by how in-character his actors were.

This was a montage scene (so they would have enough content to chop up into a ‘clean’ version), and that meant lots of footage was needed. Once they cut, Jeonghan and Seungcheol had to repeat much the same process again. And again, and again, until Seungcheol’s lips were swollen and impressions of Jeonghan’s fingertips raised on his skin. Sometimes, Jeonghan’s hands would stray dangerously close to his ass, and they played this unspoken game of how far things could be pushed before it became too much.

Mr. Shin called for a break only after the actors were sweaty and cramping. The laziest parts of Seungcheol begged him not to get up, and fortunately Seungcheol had remembered to keep his water bottle nearby on the floor where the camera couldn’t see. All he had to do was roll over and reach for it, but when Seungcheol did so, he felt Jeonghan’s arm catch him from behind.

“What are you doing?” Seungcheol glanced back over his shoulder, to see Jeonghan’s cheeky smile. “Cuddling me?”

He meant it as a joke, but Jeonghan actually brought himself closer and curled his arm around Seungcheol’s waist. “I hope you like being the little spoon.” (In fact, Seungcheol loved being the little spoon, and nearly sighed in satisfaction as Jeonghan’s bare chest hit his back.) “I just feel like a cuddling session is in order.”

In his tired and content state, Seungcheol lost track of what he was saying: “Cuddling is the best part.” And if they were really keeping a professional relationship, then Seungcheol would not talk to Jeonghan about his post-sex habits. But it was understood between them that strict professionalism was not what they wanted.

“You think cuddling is better than sex?” Jeonghan’s tone bordered on offended, “I always knew you were a romantic.”

In the chilly air of the set, Seungcheol wanted more of Jeonghan’s warmth, so he tugged the man closer by the arms. It was peaceful, and Seungcheol found comfort when he was with Jeonghan. He could get used to something like this, which was an attachment Seungcheol tried desperately to suppress.

The call of, “Jeonghan!” reminded Seungcheol that they weren’t the only two on set, and immediately he could feel Jeonghan’s body stiffen behind him. Standing not too far away was one of Jeonghan’s friends, an extra, motioning for Jeonghan to go over there.

Jeonghan groaned, the noise vibrating close to Seungcheol’s neck. “I’ll be right back.” He didn’t need to reassure Seungcheol like that, but it made Seungcheol feel oddly protected. That sensation left once Jeonghan uncurled himself from around Seungcheol and went to join his friends.

At the end of filming (an hour and a half later, in which Jeonghan might have earned an actual bruise from how much attention Seungcheol gave his neck and chest), Minghao proudly announced that they had plenty of quality footage. Jeonghan would normally jump at the opportunity to watch Minghao’s raw footage, but he hesitated this time. Seungcheol was much the same—if he watched how good they looked together, he’d likely feel sick. It was best not to entertain the idea at all, but Seungcheol still promised Minghao he’d look forward to the episode’s release.

“Oh, and Jeonghan,” Minghao stopped the actor before he headed off to change, and Seungcheol pretended not to be eavesdropping, “I’ve e-mailed those clips your manager requested. Let me know if there’s any problems, but I think everything should be fine.”

“Thanks for doing that,” Jeonghan replied, “It’s the only material I have for reference now, but I have to start somewhere.”

“No problem, good luck at your audition!”

Audition. Seungcheol chewed on the word in his mind, until it became a wake-up call. They weren’t going to stay in these roles forever; filming would be ending far too soon, and after that, both of them would move on to other things. Wonwoo had recently sent off his own pre-screening clips to another casting director as well, and he had an audition lined up for the day after final filming. No matter what project he joined next, Seungcheol doubted it would mean as much as this did. For now, all he could do was enjoy what little time they had left.

 


 

Reviews began pouring in after the second episode aired. Mr. Shin’s PR minions had sent advanced releases of the next few episodes to drama news outlets, and they had a lot to say about Heart of Fabric.

Junhui rounded up the cast members and they read the reviews together. Everyone was aware that this drama wasn’t particularly ground-breaking or amazing, but miraculously, it was popular. Criticism could be taken with a grain of salt, but whether or not people watched it was what mattered (so needless to say, none of the cast really considered the reviews important, and had expected low ratings). One of the largest drama critic blogs posted something that caught both Jeonghan’s and Seungcheol’s attentions:

Heart of Fabric, at face value, is nothing we haven’t seen before. Littered with clichés from both dialogue and plot, I would be hard-pressed to find anything in the pilot that stood out to me. Production value is high, but a visually stunning film style can’t make up for the lackluster score and characters, among other shortcomings.

“However, drama fans do have something to look forward to in later episodes. Although their time on-screen in brief, the homosexual romance between breakout stars Choi Seungcheol (as Kim Hyungil) and Yoon Jeonghan (as Minseong) is believable, captivating, and unique—easily one of the high points of Heart of Fabric.”

That was the only mention of them in the article. And as Junhui read the passage out loud in careful Korean, Seungcheol took Jeonghan’s hand and squeezed it. “We did it.”

“Yeah,” Jeonghan grinned back at him, holding tightly onto Seungcheol’s hand, “Yeah, we did it.”

 


 

The last scene focusing on Hyungil and Minseong’s romance was in Episode 18. It was a sort of resolution, and similarly, Seungcheol felt this was a conclusion to their roles here. Any scene after this didn’t matter so much, because this was where Hyungil and Minseong’s story came to an end: peaceful, happy, and just surrounded by a carefree kind of love.

Even the bed set was something Seungcheol had grown used to over the past months. It had been designed to feel intimate, and when Jeonghan was curled in his arms like this, ‘intimate’ definitely came to mind. Seungcheol began the scene as if it were just him and Jeonghan in the room. He wanted this to be special, wanted Jeonghan to feel special. “Do you remember when we first met?” Seungcheol spoke low and kissed the top of Jeonghan’s head. It wasn’t scripted. “I think I loved you even then.”

Jeonghan relaxed in Seungcheol’s embrace, his bare back perfectly smooth against Seungcheol’s chest. “How could I forget?” He turned his head to see Seungcheol’s face fully. Something in Jeonghan’s eyes was warm, and Seungcheol was once again stunned by how talented of an actor Jeonghan was. “I loved you then, too.”

He knew it was a line. Just a line of text in the script, the script that messed with his head and opened the doors to something far more real and scary. But when Jeonghan said that line, it hit Seungcheol’s soul. And he wanted to tell Jeonghan a thousand times, I love you, I love you, but he couldn’t because this was all fake. Seungcheol knew what came next in the script: Hyungil was supposed to kiss Minseong. That didn’t happen.

What happened was Seungcheol kissing Jeonghan gently, a smile at his lips. He wasn’t following the script now, of a man in love who could finally share his life with someone. Seungcheol was inserting too much of himself into the role that it was undoubtedly the best acting of his life (but when did the acting become so powerful that it actually became Seungcheol?).

At some point, he had to return to being Hyungil again. So Seungcheol broke the kiss and delivered his next line: “We’ve really come a long way. Even without my mother’s approval, I’ll never let go of you, angel.” His fingertips drew patterns up and down Jeonghan’s arms, and Seungcheol hoped the last part resonated with Jeonghan: I’ll never let go of you.

Jeonghan groaned, slumped back against Seungcheol with his face buried in Seungcheol’s neck. “Please don’t talk about your mother when we’re in bed together. I’m stressed enough as it is.”

Something about that line was different. Because the way Jeonghan said it would never come from Minseong’s mouth. The dry voice, the affectionate tone mixed with constant disappointment—only Jeonghan would talk like that. Maybe Seungcheol wasn’t the only one lost in this scene, unable to distinguish his character from his heart.

“Then allow me to take your mind off of things,” Seungcheol wasn’t even sure that picked up on the mic, because of how softly he said it. But it was flirtatious, and Seungcheol guided Jeonghan around until he was properly seated in Seungcheol’s lap. Jeonghan was so ready for what came next in the script, tipping his chin up the graze his lips over Seungcheol’s.

Together, they became lost in the moment. Seungcheol kissed Jeonghan how he knew the man liked it best, and was rewarded with Jeonghan’s smile against his mouth. It was the perfect happy ending, one that fans would undoubtedly enjoy. And this was it—they were home free until the director wanted them to stop. So Seungcheol took his time, savoring this last scene, cherishing the weight of Jeonghan in his arms. Since day one, they had built these characters together, and Seungcheol wanted that to mean something.

“Cut!” The gravelly voice cut into Jeonghan and Seungcheol’s trance. Reluctantly, Seungcheol broke the kiss and waited for Mr. Shin’s next instructions. But all that came was, “Perfect job, boys! That’s a wrap.”

A silence fell over the set, and Jeonghan’s fingers traced the lines of Seungcheol’s forearms as he spoke: “That’s it? We’re done?”

“Yes,” Mr. Shin wore a large smile, “I couldn’t have imagined it better myself. Congrats; you can both go home and get some rest.”

After ten stunned seconds, Seungcheol separated himself from Jeonghan. He wanted to do it again. There had to be some mistake—everything couldn’t be over so simply. There had to be something more, some excuse he could make to hold Jeonghan again.

Like every other time they finished a scene, Jeonghan pulled him into a hug. These were usually fleeting (and Seungcheol was glad for that), but this time, Jeonghan wouldn’t let go. “Hey,” Seungcheol whispered, aware of all the staff around them wondering why they hadn’t left yet, “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” Jeonghan was smiling, but it was strikingly empty. “I just can’t believe we’re done.” And he stood up, pulling Seungcheol with him. “Great job. It’s been… great, working with you.”

Suddenly the air was thin. Seungcheol had been naive, to believe they could maintain this honeymoon atmosphere for weeks and never snap out of it. But now was the time to be co-stars again. Nothing more. “Yeah. It’s been a real pleasure.” He took a breath. “Jeonghan…”

“Yes?”

He spotted Mingyu just off-set, evidently waiting for Jeonghan to finish up so they could leave together. In a moment of quick deliberation, Seungcheol said, “Oh, it’s nothing important. I’ll see you at the wrap-up party, right?”

Jeonghan’s expression was one Seungcheol couldn’t pinpoint—confusion, disappointment? But then Jeonghan glanced behind him, saw Mingyu hovering idly on his phone, and he seemed to understand that it was time to go. “I’ll be there if you will,” Jeonghan promised. And when he walked away, it didn’t feel like this day was any kind of different. If Seungcheol didn’t know better, he could imagine himself coming in the next morning and seeing Jeonghan’s bright face again, because that was just routine.

Seungcheol arrived home that night to a mug of hot chocolate on the table, which Jihoon had uncharacteristically prepared for him. All Seungcheol had talked about that week was his final filming schedule, and now Seungcheol could finally relax with this hot chocolate, never having to worry about the demands of his role again.

It didn’t help.

 


 

Back in high school, when a year ended, it never felt like any time had passed since the first day of school. That was the feeling Jeonghan was experiencing now—the final day as a cast, and Jeonghan was not emotionally prepared. Everything had happened so quickly, and he remembered his audition like it were yesterday.

The wrap-up party was boring. So boring, in fact, that Jeonghan fell asleep halfway into Mr. Shin’s lengthy speech and Joshua had to wake him up. The only way Jeonghan kept himself engaged was via the champagne station (and for someone who had never developed a taste for champagne, Jeonghan certainly drank a lot of it that night). Some of the extras brought in celebratory dessert platters (presumably to boost standing with industry higher-ups), and Mingyu had to drag Jeonghan away from the snack table to keep from eating too many. All in all, Jeonghan was not on his best behavior, but at least he made it through.

Seungkwan was, predictably, the most dramatic about everything ending. Halfway through the party, he assembled their makeshift crew in a spare room for one last blowout shit-talking session, which ended up turning into a confessional (and although Jeonghan was not about to confess his crush on Seungcheol to his friends, everyone knew).

It was also Seungkwan’s brilliant idea to have their own little afterparty at a nearby club, which everyone was on board with, even if Joshua had pretended not to be at first. Jeonghan loved clubs—something about the atmosphere, and he loved dancing and having a good time.

When they were getting ready to head there, Mingyu asked if Wonwoo could come, too. That should have been the first red flag that the managers were up to something, because Wonwoo seemed completely willing to join them. He only had the condition that Seungcheol could also tag along.

And that was how Seungcheol ended up clubbing with Jeonghan’s friend group.

Jeonghan had been clubbing with Mingyu in college enough to figure out his habits and limits (which he usually ignored in favor of having more fun). Being a lightweight was a trait Jeonghan would deny until his grave, and tonight he would drink as much as he wanted, because he deserved it. They had no clothes to change into, so everyone loosened their ties and left their expensive suit jackets at the coat check. Thanks to the aftereffects of champagne in his system, Jeonghan had no trouble admitting that Seungcheol looked dangerously sexy with his shirt untucked.

“Can I grind on you if anyone tries to dance with me?” Jeonghan heard Seungkwan ask Hansol as they entered the club.

“Of course,” Hansol replied, “That’s what bros are for.”

For Jeonghan, the exchange was the first indication of how bizarre the night would play out.

The bass vibrated through Jeonghan’s whole body from the moment they entered, and bright lights transformed the space almost into another world. Like an over-excited child, Seungkwan dragged Jeonghan to the dance floor by his wrist. When Jeonghan glanced back, Seungcheol was headed in the opposite direction with Wonwoo. He tried to ignore how he felt about that.

Jeonghan wanted to enjoy himself tonight; he didn’t want to think about his audition tomorrow morning, or his stupid suppressed crush on Choi Seungcheol. So he danced with his friends, a drink in one hand courtesy of Mingyu, not worrying about the hangover he’d have in the morning.

After a few songs, Seungkwan and Hansol disappeared to get more drinks. But Jeonghan stayed on the dance floor with Joshua. They were having fun, swept up in the music, but suddenly Joshua looked over Jeonghan’s shoulder and announced that he had to use the bathroom. Jeonghan didn’t even care about being left alone—he could handle himself. The worst thing that could happen was if someone tried to make a move on him, and honestly, Jeonghan would welcome it.

As if answering his drunken prayers, he could feel someone behind him, deliberately joining Jeonghan in moving to the rhythm. Jeonghan knew it was a man from how firm his chest was, and Jeonghan soaked up how the stranger’s palms held his waist with confidence. This was what he wanted—someone who could make him forget everything, who could give him attention just for tonight and they wouldn’t have to deal with it later. Jeonghan spun around so he could dance with the man properly, wasting no time in clinging to his thicker frame. He couldn’t have been more pleased by how extremely handsome the man was, and after deciphering his features under the strobing lights, Jeonghan instantly felt weak.

Of course it was Seungcheol. Of course. Jeonghan had been ignoring his existence all night in fear of doing something stupid, but he should have known that they couldn’t stay away from each other for too long. So Jeonghan gave up then; he surrendered himself to Seungcheol, to the fact that no one could replace him and that Jeonghan was too buzzed to care.

Seungcheol said something over the loud music, but Jeonghan didn’t hear or care what it was. Whatever he said, Jeonghan’s response was to tug Seungcheol impossibly close, his breath on Seungcheol’s cheek. And Seungcheol’s reaction was not to pull away, but to gently wind his fingers through Jeonghan’s soft hair. He could smell the alcohol on Seungcheol’s breath (likely better than his own), and Jeonghan concluded that he had nothing to lose.

Four centimeters was all it took to reach Seungcheol’s lips, and it was like Seungcheol had been waiting for this. He kissed Jeonghan back with rooted passion, not caring about how sloppy it was or about the unromantic mood of the club in general. Jeonghan didn’t care either; they needed this, because it was something they could never have done during the drama. But that was over now, and he could taste how much Seungcheol wanted this.

“What are we doing?” Seungcheol spoke low in his ear.

Jeonghan placed a kiss on his neck, paying no mind to the crowded dance floor around them. They were just another couple now. “Come home with me.”

Seungcheol did not have to tell him how bad of an idea that was, because Jeonghan knew. But he also knew that Seungcheol was up for taking risks sometimes. “You’re sure?” Jeonghan nodded without hesitation, and Seungcheol continued, “Then let’s get our jackets and an Uber.”

The walk to the front of the club involved lots of pushing through the crowd, with Seungcheol keeping a protective arm around him the whole time. By sheer chance, Jeonghan stumbled into Joshua as they passed a bathroom. “‘Shua,” he caught his friend’s attention, never letting go of Seungcheol, “Tell Mingyu I’m safe and I left with Seungcheol, okay?” He didn’t wait for Joshua to give a proper response (unless he counted Joshua’s wide-eyed shock). “Thanks, love you!”

And he was back to following Seungcheol toward the entrance as the man scheduled an Uber with his free hand. The whole experience was a rush, and Jeonghan’s head filled with dizzy excitement. The last time he’d experienced this reckless attitude was the night after filming, when he and Seungcheol discovered the city together. And it was this in-the-moment mindset that Jeonghan had adored ever since his grade-school improv courses. Whatever happened tomorrow didn’t matter. Tonight, Seungcheol was his.

 


 

Wonwoo watched the entire scene unfold from the edge of the bar; it was oddly like sending his child off to somewhere far away, but he felt accomplished.

A long shadow joined his on the floor nearby, and for once, Wonwoo wasn’t annoyed by the company (maybe it was because he’d been drinking, or maybe because he’d just won a bet). “I’ll fax you my paperwork by tomorrow morning,” Wonwoo greeted Mingyu.

“Woah, didn’t filming wrap already? You must have selective memory—I bet that they wouldn’t hook up before shooting ended. And they didn’t.” Is that what Wonwoo had agreed to? “So I’ll be by your office at 6 tomorrow to pick you up for dinner. If you’re available, of course.” Wonwoo didn’t have his schedule on-hand, but for some reason, he couldn’t be bothered to argue with Mingyu and mentally accepted their date tomorrow. “You wouldn’t want me doing your paperwork anyway.”

Wonwoo glanced over at Mingyu, which he instantly regretted. Sleeves rolled up, hair pushed back, top two buttons undone—Fuck, Wonwoo would climb him like a tree. “I’d want anyone to do my paperwork.”

Mingyu was holding a beer, and took a long sip of it, which Wonwoo found unbearably sexy in his buzzed state. “I’m not a real manager. Well I’m a manager, but I don’t actually work in an office or anything. I used to be a model; I used to have a manager. I don’t know anything about being a manager, except Jeonghan asked me to be his. We’re just old friends from high school. I printed my business cards off my laptop. The most professional thing I’ve done was set up that audition for Jeonghan, and you had to show me how to do it.” The confession seemed to flow from Mingyu’s mouth, one thing after another. Wonwoo was not even surprised.

“I could tell.”

Mingyu blinked. “Are you mad?”

“No.”

“Alright.” Mingyu was obviously relieved, and scanned the space around them before saying, “Want to dance with me?”

And if Seungcheol hadn’t pressured him into an extra drink earlier, Wonwoo might have said no.

 


 

Mind swimming with lust and alcohol, Jeonghan did not care what messy state his apartment was in. He did not care if Chan would inevitably tease him about bringing someone home later, or that he would regret this by tomorrow. No, Jeonghan was struck with an insane case of tunnel vision—all he cared about was Seungcheol.

 Kissing him now was different than every time before, when it had been an obligation and part of the job description. Now, Jeonghan could kiss Seungcheol however he wanted (and he wanted). It didn’t matter which one of them was drunker, because neither man was hammered enough to ever forget this. If anything, the alcohol had enabled Jeonghan to act on his feelings in the first place.

Seungcheol made no effort to be gentle—they’d hardly entered Jeonghan’s apartment before he had Jeonghan up against a wall, biting and licking into his mouth. It was a lot, but somehow, not nearly enough. Because Jeonghan had spent the last few months pretending to be submissive and soft, and tonight he could finally stop pretending. He pulled at Seungcheol’s hair, let his leg brush the thighs Jeonghan had admired for so long. Everything was far too easy; they already knew how to treat each other, how to make each other feel good, and it was almost like they were lovers and not some maybe-one-night-stand.

Jeonghan could physically feel when Seungcheol began his moment of clarity, when his body went stiff against Jeonghan and he pulled back to say, “This is gonna get us in a lot of trouble.”

He didn’t know what Seungcheol meant by ‘trouble’—between themselves? With the media? With their careers? There were lots of reasons this was a terrible idea, but Jeonghan couldn’t bring himself to consider any of them. “I don’t give a fuck,” he cupped Seungcheol’s face, kissed him long and slow.

Seungcheol seemed pleased with that, hands slipping beneath Jeonghan’s thin shirt to touch him better. “Then where’s your bedroom?” The words went muffled against Jeonghan’s skin, before Seungcheol began trailing sloppy kisses down his jaw and neck.

Jeonghan only lived in a small one-bedroom apartment; an idiot could figure out where his bedroom was, so they both knew Seungcheol really meant, “Can we take this to the bedroom?” And Jeonghan choked out an answer while Seungcheol sucked at the most sensitive spot of his throat: “Door on the left. Unless you wanna fuck in the bathroom. Shit.” Neither of them had explicitly mentioned sex yet, but that’s what Jeonghan wanted. He had wanted that for weeks, and by the way Seungcheol nearly dragged him past the bedroom door, he guessed they both had the same goal in mind.

The bedroom was messy, and that was another thing Jeonghan did not care about in the moment. Jeonghan was getting far too eager, leading Seungcheol to the bed and pressing him down to be on top of the man. There was a mutual communication that both their clothes should come off then, because Seungcheol eagerly stripped himself of his pristinely-ironed shirt and watched as Jeonghan did the same above him. It was like a strip-tease, which Jeonghan had no experience in, but he loved Seungcheol’s reaction. Every time Jeonghan had seen Seungcheol’s body, his breath was taken away, and now was no exception. Seungcheol looked so strong, and that excited him.

Seungcheol touched him like he was something precious, something to covet or worship. Wide hands mapped the softness of Jeonghan’s stomach, the curve of his waist and hips. And once Seungcheol grew impatient enough, he reached to unbuckle Jeonghan’s trousers. The trousers that Seungkwan had suggested for how they hugged his legs, now being peeled down Jeonghan’s thighs like a ritual. “You’re a briefs guy?” Seungcheol spoke teasingly, tracing the waistband of Jeonghan’s Hanes.

“Stop talking,” Jeonghan was breathless, and crushed his hips into Seungcheol’s to shut him up. Instead, it caused Seungcheol to moan and wrap his arms around Jeonghan’s form. It was like an embrace, like something lovers would do. And when Seungcheol flipped them so he was on top (with practiced ease), Jeonghan couldn’t bring himself to be upset.

It was only fair, if Jeonghan’s pants were halfway down his legs, that Seungcheol’s would be the same. He wore expensive-looking slacks, that Jeonghan would be worried about ruining if he weren’t so ridiculously turned on. “What are you talking about,” Jeonghan smirked as he rid Seungcheol of his pants, not-so-subtly feeling along his ass as he did so, “You’re a briefs guy, too.”

Seungcheol chuckled and one again turned Jeonghan over, this time onto his stomach. He could easily pull off Jeonghan’s pants fully like this, but the angle made Jeonghan feel exposed. So this was how they were going to do it: Jeonghan face-down with a pillow wedged half beneath his chest, completely at the mercy of Seungcheol. He couldn’t wait.

“What do you want, angel?” Seungcheol breathed against his ear, caressing Jeonghan’s back and making him shiver.

Jeonghan wanted so many things. He wanted Seungcheol’s mouth, his heart, his everything. He wanted attention, and when Seungcheol didn’t give in, he bucked his hips into the mattress below. It hardly satisfied him, but the subtle move still got under Seungcheol’s skin. “Fuck me,” Jeonghan whined, “Fuck me.” For someone who often asserted that he wasn’t at all submissive, Jeonghan would kill to have Seungcheol’s dick in him now. But rest assured, if this ended up going anywhere after tonight, Jeonghan wouldn’t be the one with the sore ass next time.

The moan from Seungcheol vibrated along his entire back, and he wasted no more time in pulling Jeonghan’s briefs down. The view was unforgettable to Seungcheol, how the man raised his ass teasingly off the mattress without a hint of embarrassment. His entire body was perfect.

“I’ll just do this myself if you’re getting cold feet,” Jeonghan’s voice was muffled by the corner of a pillow, and he reached behind to press an impatient finger between his legs. Well. Jeonghan had obviously done this before (and that knowledge alone was enough to spark Seungcheol’s imagination). But he wasn’t here to watch Jeonghan; he aimed to give Jeonghan ecstasy.

Admiring the rhythm of Jeonghan’s finger pushing in and out, Seungcheol pressed his own finger alongside his lover’s. “I’m right here, don’t worry,” And together they worked Jeonghan open like they had all the time in the world, until Jeonghan curled his fist into the sheets instead and all the work became Seungcheol’s.

The breaking point came when Jeonghan couldn’t wait anymore, writhing underneath Seungcheol with unbearable need overtaking him. “Seungcheol,” he tried to look behind him, see Seungcheol’s face, “There’s a condom and stuff in my top drawer. Let’s get a move on.” Seungcheol had to laugh at his impatience, but he did as Jeonghan asked with shaking hands.

Finally, finally, after an eternity of Seungcheol messing with the lube bottle (and if Seungcheol were anyone else, Jeonghan would have gotten himself off by now), Seungcheol was ready to enter him. Jeonghan held his breath in anticipation, and when Seungcheol pushed into him carefully, it was like he was floating. Everything was so powerful and overwhelming; Jeonghan couldn’t get enough of this, but didn’t know how much more he could take. Seungcheol made him feel so special, and it was a shame that this might be their only night together. Never before had Jeonghan experienced this intense range of emotion, all because of Seungcheol.

He’d expected nothing less than for Seungcheol to be amazing in bed, but in the moment, Jeonghan was too far gone to think about his expectations. Because this was now, when Seungcheol was gripping his hips, and trailing comforting kisses down his shoulder blades, and groaning every time Jeonghan reached back to pull him closer. It was better than anything Jeonghan could have imagined, any shock-factor sex scene in a drama.

Jeonghan was so focused on the pleasure and on Seungcheol that his orgasm hit him without warning, leaving Jeonghan a shuddering mess. And Seungcheol was there for him, working him through the aftershocks and reassuring him in low whispers. In the oddest way, it was romantic. Not a minute later, Seungcheol finished as well, and Jeonghan understood why people claimed making love could feel magical.

There was a surreal moment, both of them lying on their backs after coming down from the high, where their heavy breaths synced up and Jeonghan believed they were connected. But that moment ended too quickly, and soon it was like all the alcohol had drained from Jeonghan’s system and he had gone frighteningly sober. Everything was quiet.

“Are you going to kick me out now?” Seungcheol asked in a soft voice.

Jeonghan turned his head, eyes tracing Seungcheol’s face in the low light. “I was actually wondering if you wanted to stay.” Then, as a sort of justification, “It’s late.”

“I have to be somewhere in the morning.”

“So do I, just set an alarm.” He couldn’t remember where he had to go tomorrow; his body was slowly going weak, mind reverting into a restful state. If Seungcheol didn’t leave in the next five minutes, Jeonghan would easily fall asleep.

A pause replaced the seconds when Seungcheol was weighing his options, and his answer barely registered in Jeonghan’s brain. “Then if it’s okay, I’ll stay.”

Jeonghan hummed in acknowledgement, taking Seungcheol’s decision as an invitation to lazily fling an arm over the man. Seungcheol got the hint (it was like he’d been waiting for this) and shifted so Jeonghan could be the big spoon. He didn’t care if Seungcheol stayed awake the whole night, but Jeonghan was perfectly content in falling asleep right now.

He should have feel shame, or regret, or guilt. Jeonghan should have felt everything he’d been dreading since he began liking Seungcheol, but seeing him curled up in Jeonghan’s bed only brought happiness. He was happy, to have Seungcheol here with him, filling the empty spaces in his bed and in his arms. This was nice—so nice, in fact, that Jeonghan could almost see why Seungcheol thought cuddling was the best part. Almost.

It was a dreamless night, and when Jeonghan woke up to the last rings of an alarm, he still had an arm curled around Seungcheol’s form. Seungcheol was just waking up as well. The way he slipped out of Jeonghan’s hold was like a nightmare.

“I should leave,” Seungcheol spoke softly and inwardly, pulling blankets over Jeonghan’s form to keep him warm. He probably thought Jeonghan was asleep, but Jeonghan was very much awake. He watched as Seungcheol pulled a shirt over his head, admiring now what he hadn’t properly last night.

“Where are you sneaking off to?” Jeonghan mumbled once Seungcheol was halfway decent, and the other man jumped at Jeonghan’s voice.

“Go back to sleep,” Seungcheol wouldn’t meet Jeonghan’s eyes, “I have an audition soon.”

That was one way to make Jeonghan fully awake; he sat bolt upright, scrambling for his phone. “Fuck, so do I!” He’d completely forgotten, and now he was mildly hungover with lots of damage control to do with Seungcheol. Mingyu was going to be pissed. “What time is it?”

“9:40.” Jeonghan’s audition wasn’t until 11:00. He could breathe easy for now. As Seungcheol was gathering up his belongings scattered across the room, he suddenly stopped and looked back at Jeonghan for the first time this morning. “By any chance, is your audition for Sweet Potential?”

Oh. “Wow. Yes it is, actually.” Jeonghan was stunned; this was a crazy twist of fate almost too good to be true. “What a coincidence.”

Seungcheol, like a true gentleman, handed Jeonghan his briefs from their drop location on the rug and sat at the bed’s edge. “That’s too much of a coincidence,” he said, “Looks like our managers double-crossed us.”

Slowly, Jeonghan put the pieces together. Mingyu would never be sharp enough to plan this himself, but with Wonwoo’s help, it seemed they were two steps ahead of their clients. Out loud, Jeonghan said, “I’m going to kill them both,” but inside, he celebrated this second chance to be by Seungcheol’s side again.

Jeonghan offered to take the train there with Seungcheol, and he accepted, but Seungcheol wasn’t about to go anywhere until they cleared the air. “Jeonghan, I’m really sorry, by the way. About last night. It was unprofessional, and I don’t want things to be awkward between us because—”

“Hey.” He wondered how many times Seungcheol had practiced that in his head, and decided to save the actor some trouble. “I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t want to. Just in case it wasn’t obvious last night, I’m pretty into you.”

A smile crept onto Seungcheol’s lips. “Are you?” He sounded surprised.

 “You idiot. Can you expect me to act like I’m in love with you for so long and not feel anything?” Once Jeonghan got going, he wanted to lay everything out for Seungcheol’s knowledge. If Seungcheol didn’t feel the same, he would have to accept it, but Jeonghan couldn’t keep up the act any longer. “And I’m not saying that I like you just because of the drama, but because we were in the drama, I had the chance to get to know you, and I’ve been trying not to like you this whole time.”

He stared Seungcheol down, waiting for him to say something that would make or break them. But Seungcheol had a dazed look on his face, and said nothing. Jeonghan was about to take it as rejection, but then Seungcheol let out a breath. “That’s… really good news.” He didn’t stop smiling, not for however long Jeonghan looked at him. He liked this shy side of Seungcheol, and he knew the man liked him back through the little things, like how his cheeks flushed and his eyes grew bright. But although Jeonghan had just confessed, nothing felt changed between them; if anything, the room was easier to breathe in.

He helped Jeonghan up, and sheepishly admitted, “I, uh, really thought you were going to kick me out last night. So I don’t have clothes for the audition.”

Jeonghan couldn’t believe how cute he was. He pointed toward his closet. “Shirts are on the left and pants are on the right.” Jeonghan stretched dramatically, each muscle in his body craving more rest.

“Can you walk okay?” Seungcheol grasped Jeonghan’s forearm for support, but Jeonghan shook his hand away.

“Don’t give yourself that much credit,” he smiled (although his hips were more wobbly than usual). “Now, I would be a good host and make you breakfast, but I honestly suck at cooking and we have auditions to go to.”

Seungcheol reached for him again, this time smoothing the fabric between Jeonghan’s shoulders. “It’s a good thing I’m not a terrible cook, then.” That sounded domestic. Jeonghan liked it. “We can get breakfast on the way there, if we have some extra time?”

Jeonghan nodded. “And if we get super lost and show up late, then at least we’ll be late together.”

An hour later, waiting for Seungcheol to finish his audition, Jeonghan sent Mingyu a thank-you text.

 


 

The press conference for Sweet Potential snuck up on Seungcheol (as lots of events did), and two days before, he had gone suit shopping to at least look decent at the event. It was nice to see some familiar faces—Soonyoung did a great job planning this as usual, but Seungcheol hadn’t seen him since his last drama and of course, they had a lot to catch up on.

“How do you like being famous?” Soonyoung wasted no time in jumping to what interested him.

Seungcheol thought often about how his life had changed since Heart of Fabric; as it turned out, there were lots of reporters and directors wanting to backpack off of the drama’s success, some even inviting Seungcheol in for interviews or sending audition information to his management (and ever since Wonwoo and Mingyu had formed their partnership, they took care of things like that for him). Staying humble was sometimes hard (and Jeonghan often abandoned the idea of humbleness altogether), but Seungcheol tried his best. “I wouldn’t consider myself a full-on celebrity yet, but things have been a little different. Actually, on the walk over here, a fan asked for our autographs. That was nice.” Of course, the biggest change since the drama had nothing to do with his fame, but that was under-wraps for now.

Soonyoung grinned, “Well, I’m honored to be speaking with half of the ultimate celebrity power couple.”

“Don’t say that too loud,” Seungcheol said with a hint of seriousness, “You never know who’s listening.”

If there was one thing Seungcheol had learned in the past year, it was that his life would forever be lacking a sense of privacy. Seungcheol was often paranoid about paparazzi sneaking around, and although Jeonghan always told him not to care about the tabloids, Seungcheol wanted to make sure both he and Jeonghan were safe. But Soonyoung did not understand the gravity of the situation: “Right, we wouldn’t want Jeonghan to think we’re conspiring against him.” And as if on cue, Jeonghan entered through the double doors, cupcake in-hand. “Don’t get frosting on your suit!” Soonyoung called.

Evidently, Jeonghan did not care. He shrugged and tauntingly bit off another portion of the cupcake. “I wanted food before we start the thing.” He shrugged, words muffled by his full mouth.

As he approached them, Seungcheol admired Jeonghan. Even with sprinkles stuck at the corner of his lips, the man was stunning. His suit was a deep red, and fit him perfectly. Seungcheol would have fun taking it off later. “Hey, where’s my cupcake?”

“I’m right here, baby,” Jeonghan replied without missing a beat (which melted Seungcheol’s heart just as much as it made Soonyoung gag). “You can have the rest.” He handed the half-eaten cupcake to Seungcheol, who accepted it without a second thought.

“Wow, if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.” Soonyoung commented from the sidelines.

Jeonghan rolled his eyes and ignored Soonyoung completely, before offering a hand to Seungcheol. “Alright, get up.” Once Seungcheol was standing, Jeonghan took in his appearance and straightened Seungcheol’s collar until it was just right. Jeonghan did this often, and Seungcheol felt very cared-for because of it. “See, I told you the blue suit would look best.”

“Are you saying I look hot?”

“I’m saying you should listen to me more.”

And they waved goodbye to Soonyoung, heading out to the event.

Every time they attended a conference like this, the attention from media seemed to grow. Maybe it was Soonyoung’s publicity skills improving, or maybe it was the reporters who took interest themselves. After Heart of Fabric did so well, who could pass up an opportunity to interview the series’ breakout stars?

Once again, Seungcheol was not the lead role. In fact, Jeonghan’s role was larger than his (which was a constant point of mocking). But he didn’t mind, because he got to act alongside Jeonghan (and since this was a film, his pay was better). Despite falling into the category of ‘gay side-couple’ again, a lot of questions were directed to them, something nobody had expected. The first question Seungcheol took was, “How do you like working with Yoon Jeonghan for a second time?” And Seungcheol had prepared his answer in advance, to prevent from revealing the whole truth: “It’s an honor. Jeonghan is very talented, and I think acting with him again has improved our chemistry this time around.”

(He wondered if anyone noticed Jeonghan’s wandering hand, skimming Seungcheol’s back and catching the bottom of his suit jacket.)

Another reporter stepped forward, this time with a question for Jeonghan: “We’ve been hearing talks of Heart of Fabric Season 2. Would you want to re-join that project?”

Jeonghan had heard nothing about a second season, but answered anyway. “Nothing is confirmed yet, but because I had so much fun with that season, I’m definitely interested—” and just for effect, Jeonghan fielded a shy glance at Seungcheol— “Only if Seungcheol is interested, too, of course.”

(The other actors lined up with them tried to remain stony-faced; they knew a lot more than the media did because they’d encountered the truth first-hand every day on set. Although Jeonghan’s affinity for fanservice was tacky at best, his co-stars had to mentally applaud the way he maintained denial of any involvement with Choi Seungcheol.)

After the press conference was supposed to be a time for networking, but Jeonghan could care less about that. As usual, his only post-event goal was the snack table. Mingyu was already waiting for him there with a bored-looking Wonwoo. “Hey, where’s Seungcheol?”

“He’s actually making an effort to network,” Jeonghan rolled his eyes. “I say my job is just to be an actor, and leave the networking to you guys. He told his roommate we’d be back soon, though, so he’d better not take too long.”

Wonwoo rolled his eyes, “Well if you’d move in with him already like I’ve been saying, you wouldn’t have to coordinate everyone’s schedules all the time.”

If anyone was a surprising advocate of Jeonghan and Seungcheol’s relationship, it was Wonwoo. Jeonghan had been intimidated by him at first, but now he could see why Mingyu liked him so much. Still, an eye for an eye: “Not going to happen. By the way, have fun on your date tonight!” Jeonghan teased.

“It’s not a date,” Wonwoo said flatly, “It’s a business dinner.”

But Jeonghan wasn’t about to believe that for a second, so he turned to Mingyu, who shrugged. “What can I say? It’s a business dinner.”

“Sure.” He’d be asking Mingyu how it went later.

Jeonghan's phone buzzed then—a message from Seungcheol, telling him to meet out in the lobby. He said goodbye to his managers and made his way toward the venue’s exit, thanking staff members as he passed them by. And at the end, standing in the middle of the lobby like a lost child, was Seungcheol. The actor’s eyes brightened up when he spotted Jeonghan.

“Hi, honey, have you been waiting long?” Seungcheol greeted him.

“Don’t you dare fucking quote Heart of Fabric at me.” It was something Seungcheol did far too often, and he seemed to get a kick out of it every time. “That script still haunts me. Did you know Chan got caught watching the uncut version of Episode 15? And I’m the one who got yelled at for it.”

Seungcheol squeezed his shoulder comfortingly. “To be fair, you were the one who lent him the DVD.”

“He should be honored; it was a signed DVD.” Jeonghan let out an exhausted sigh. “I just don’t want to think about that stupid drama anymore. Let’s go.”

Even though both men weren’t especially fond of the script, it was hard not to think about. The memories attached to their time as Hyungil and Minseong were far too important to forget. But as Jeonghan tugged at his sleeve now, leading them on the way back to Seungcheol’s place, Seungcheol could see where Jeonghan was coming from. He only wanted to focus on the present, and the future they shared.

After all, their reality was much better than anything a script could offer.