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Almost Paradise

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“Monster 4?” The question left Changkyun’s mouth before he could really process it. He couldn't wrap his head around such a cheesy name. He didn't understand it.

He didn't even understand why he was having this conversation with his best friend, Choi Youngjae, right at that moment, at Changkyun’s dinner table, over dinner.

His friend could at least have the decency to wait until after Changkyun finished eating before he started with his usual weird and wacky conversations about the oddest things.

Sadly, Changkyun was sure that his friend didn't have any decency at all when it came to their friendship.

The worst part wasn’t that Changkyun had to go through this, either. The worst part was his other best friend, Lee Jooheon, was right there next to him, mooching off of Changkyun’s food and absolutely doing nothing to help him.

Either way, without anyone raising any qualms, Youngjae continued, quickly shaking his head, hand also waving as he corrected Changkyun “ Monsta 4”

Changkyun’s face scrunched up at that and his eyebrows pulled together in confusion “ Monsta 4?”

“It's like French or something for my star. Like, Mon Star? And there's four of them.” Youngjae shifted in his seat across the table from Changkyun, tone a-matter-of-factly as if this information was obvious.

“I'm pretty sure star in French isn't Star .” Changkyun’s face relaxed a little but he still looked like he didn't quite believe what Youngjae was saying. “Maybe they’re called Monsta because they’re all monsters?”

Jooheon finally reacted at that, letting out a small snort as if entertained by the idea “Their parents are definitely monsters, right?”

Changkyun chuckled softly at that before he and Jooheon shared a look, one that said they both thought that this conversation seemed silly.

Youngjae either didn't notice it or he didn't care “Well, when you're as rich as them, I think you can name your posse whatever you want.”

At that, both of them agreed before Changkyun shovelled a considerably large spoonful of rice into his mouth. Youngjae made a disgusted sound in the back of his throat but said nothing.

“Anyway, since you've been accepted to Jeonseol Academy, I think you should know who they are.” Youngjae completely ignored both of them being unsupportive before he pulled a laptop from the seat beside him as if ready to give a PowerPoint presentation (which didn't surprise Changkyun at this point in their relationship) “It's like being battle ready.”

Changkyun chewed a little before swallowing “I'm not waging war.”

“Yes you are! You're a shining example for all of the poorer citizens of this country! You need to know who the big players are so show people that even someone like you can make it big.” Youngjae waved away Changkyun’s opinion with another motion of his hand before gesturing to the laptop screen that was now in clear view of both of them.

Jooheon nodded, shrugging a little as he spoke with just a little bit of food in his mouth “Jaejae has a point, kind of? You do want to stay under the radar, don’t you?”

On the screen was a PowerPoint titled Battle Plan: the Big Players. Changkyun wasn't surprised. “Yeah but this is stupid.”

“You're stupid.” Youngjae pressed the right arrow key anyway and the PowerPoint progressed to the next slide.

There were pictures of a guy and then his name right across the top but nothing else. Changkyun wondered if Youngjae basically memorized all of the information he was about to present. If so, Changkyun wouldn't be surprised because his friend was extra like that. He'd at least give Youngjae credit for being dedicated, though.

The guy on the slide had blonde hair in the ever popular comma hairstyle. His smile was soft on a couple of the pictures but, on the others, he looked as if he was purposefully trying to look handsome. Posing like that usually made one look serious but, instead, it only made this guy look even cuter, if that were possible. Even on his smiley photos, he only succeeded in looking cuter with his peace sign pose.

“This is Lee Minhyuk. Don't let his adorable looks fool you.” Youngjae looked cutely serious all of a sudden “His mom heads a big weapons company and his dad has a very dependable security company that trains security guards and makes security systems.”

Not having a particular interest in either weapons or security systems, Changkyun just nodded, looking unimpressed as usual. It didn't seem to deter Youngjae and his enthusiasm.

“Minhyuk, on the other hand, surprisingly doesn't have any hobbies related to the family business. In fact, he's kind of into a lot of things.” Youngjae shrugged, making a face as if he didn't want to list all of it. Changkyun couldn't help but roll his eyes at that. If Youngjae was going to make a presentation, he might as well be thorough.

Youngjae saw this and sighed “I mean, he's a pretty well-known artist and he has pieces in different big museums like the MoMA? And he's a world-class bowler? Things like that. His hobbies are kind of unrelated to each other.”

“He sounds a little all over the place…” Changkyun commented and Youngjae agreed before pressing the right arrow key to progress the presentation.

“You kind of are too…” Jooheon pointed out, directing his spoon towards Changkyun “You’re into a lot of random shit.”

Jooheon’s comment is ignored, something that made the older man pout. Instead, Changkyun’s attention was directed to the next slide which was, in general, the same layout as the previous.

This guy had neatly styled hair that was a soft shade of pink and he didn't have a smile on. Despite that, he managed to look alluring instead of cold. He had a nice jawline, skinny long legs and plump lips. He looked like the type of guy that could look good in anything, even a trash bag.

“This is Chae Hyungwon.” Youngjae read the name out loud “He’s a little bit my type. Princely, you know?”

“I'll make sure to tell him when I see him.” Changkyun snickered a little at that before narrowing his eyes at Youngjae “Wait, what happened to being into the bad boy, bad girl type?”

“There's nothing wrong with being into both.” Youngjae laughed, all giggly and high pitched before continuing.

“Anyway, he's the son of the CEO of a really famous model company called MYK.” Youngjae finally got to the point “They have really big time models and staff working for them there.”

“Ohhh, you know, Dongminnie got recruited for that company.” Jooheon decided to insert his input once again but, this time, Youngjae and Changkyun actually turned and paid attention.

Changkyun waved the fact away, however “That’s not a surprise. Dongminnie is really handsome.”

“We inherited it from our parents.” Jooheon grinned before making a squeaky noise in the back of his throat and poking his cheek. Changkyun and Youngjae, though used to Jooheon’s random acts of aegyo, obviously cringed.

Youngjae then attempted to change the subject, which was admirable “His mom is also a really well known fashion mogul and she's released really well-received clothing lines and make up lines.”

Their chat about Jooheon’s younger brother interested Changkyun more than this. After all, Changkyun only ever really put on clothes if they were comfortable or felt good. He never took notice of what brand they were.  

Seeing as his friend was trying, Changkyun decided to indulge Youngjae this once and gestured at the laptop screen “Is that why he looks like a model?”

“Yeah, he works for his father's company sometimes. He says he does it because he wants to know the company well before he takes over.” Youngjae nodded as he answered Changkyun’s question “He also does music. He goes under the name H.ONE and he's a pretty well-known DJ.”

“I know he did a collab with a rapper I really like but that's about it…” Changkyun put his two cents in, looking quite a bit intrigued or maybe a little bit confused “What's up with this pattern of one letter and one number? M4? H1?”

Youngjae shook his head, expression as if he was about to school Changkyun “The one in H.ONE is spelled out so it's different.”

Changkyun didn't look convinced. Before he could say anything, however, Youngjae pressed the next button. Jooheon just laughed at the rather tired expression Changkyun’s face.

The next guy was different. He looked familiar as all hell. His hair was pitch black and messy. He looked handsome too with his muscles and his face. It reminded Changkyun of Son Hyunwoo, his friend. Unlike Hyunwoo, however, this one gave of a more fuckboy vibe. Changkyun knew for a fact that these type of boys were Jooheon’s type.

He was proven right by Jooheon’s sudden holler and the way he scooted closer to get a better look at the screen “Wowow, he’s a looker , dude.”

“Actually, Changkyun might know this guy already since his parents are researchers and stuff.” Youngjae looked just a little bit sly as he said that which got Changkyun thinking as Jooheon stared at him with just a little bit of wonder.

Then, it hit Changkyun “Oh isn't his name like… Lee Hoseok? My parents worked for this one big pharmaceutical company and I remember him… but I was super small then?”

“Yeah, you're right! I knew I heard your parents working for that company before.” Youngjae seemed a little bit too happy about getting Changkyun to speak more than two measly sentences. “He goes by Shin Wonho now, though.”

Changkyun went from looking rather happy he remembered to looking really confused “What, why?”

“A lot of people say that it's because he didn't want to carry his father's last name and the name his father gave him. They got into a big fight when Wonho came out a few years ago.” Youngjae frowned a little at that “He's not the heir to his company anymore because of that. His brother is said to inherit it.”

Changkyun was saddened by that fact. So rich people like him also experienced things like that.

He could remember when Youngjae came out to his parents as bisexual and it had taken some time for them to adjust. Youngjae took turns sleeping over at Changkyun’s and Jooheon’s houses because his parents really couldn’t accept him.

He couldn't imagine being in a situation like that. It was probably worse for rich people because the tabloids practically fed on things like that.

Youngjae saw the change in atmosphere and quickly moved to try and lighten the room “It's fine. Other than his father, his coming out was kind of well-received and he's said to have plans to start his own company one day.”

Changkyun supposed that was just a little bit better. He didn't remember a lot about Hoseok-- Wonho but he didn't think that the guy was all that bad. It was unfortunate that he had to go through that.

“Hey, he’s gay.” Jooheon nudged at Changkyun as a joke which, of course, caused Changkyun to roll his eyes, pretending to be annoyed at his friend’s actions.

With a little huff, he pushed Jooheon right back but a little harder “Then why don’t you take him?”

At that, Jooheon quickly turned from mischevious to sheepish, a pink shade obviously bleeding onto his cheeks. Changkyun knew perfectly well why Jooheon wouldn’t and, usually, it wasn’t something that he usually used to tease Jooheon with. But , since Jooheon started it--

“Last one!” Youngjae excitedly called out, pulling Changkyun and Jooheon out of their conversation just as the slide changed.

The guy on that slide was definitely familiar. His fiery hair and his famous expression gave it away immediately. Like always, he was posed in a way that made him eye-catching, like he was the most powerful man in the room. Most of the time, he was.

“Oh my god, Yoo Kihyun is part of this weird clique?” The words left Changkyun’s mouth before he could stop them, earning an amused expression from Youngjae.

“So you do know him!”

Changkyun rolled his eyes so hard he swore he saw his own brain “He's the part of the biggest and richest family in all of South Korea. They own, like, everything.

“They even own the place you're going to be attending.” Youngjae nodded, agreeing “He's the heir to the big Jeonseol empire, actually.”

“So… why the clique?” Jooheon finally asked the most important question of all and Youngjae looked absolutely pleased by that.

“I'm glad you asked! Nobody really knows.” Was his simple answer.

Changkyun deadpanned, narrowing his eyes at Youngjae as he looked pretty much done with his friend. Jooheon looked pretty much the same but, rather than staring at Youngjae, he quickly turned his attention back to his food.

Youngjae laughed before shrugging and proceeding to the next slide. It displayed a picture of all of them together, looking almost like a idol group or a bunch of rich businessmen. The latter was very accurate.

“Everyone says that it was only natural they come together. They've been attending Jeonseol Academy since kindergarten and they've been friends for that long.” Youngjae gestured to the picture “They kind of act like the LGBT club of Jeonseol too. If LGBT clubs could literally rule the world and do whatever they wanted.”

Jooheon’s attention was pulled right back “You're telling me they're all gay?”

“More or less?” Youngjae sounded almost doubtful which didn't go unnoticed by Changkyun who raised an eyebrow.

“Well, you know our society here in South Korea. A lot of their claims of being anything but straight either go unnoticed, under the rug or just plain labelled as a rumor and nothing more.” Youngjae explained, looking just a bit bothered.

“While I was researching about them, there was a lot of scandals about their sexualities. Wonho’s is the most notable because it's the only one that's labelled as without-a-doubt true.” Youngjae continued before pursing his lips and shaking his head “Really, the rest of them have been seen with boys in compromising situations, have been rumored to have admitted they were attracted to the same sex, all different things.”

Youngjae then shrugged again “Their families or their fans or whomever seem to come in and claim this as false or ‘disprove’ it, though. Their families claim slander, their fans protest against it, media outlets are shut down whenever they mention something like it…”

“Anyway, that's not the point. Basically, they're bad news in general.” Youngjae wagged a finger at Changkyun which wasn’t at all as intimidating as the boy probably thought it was “They’re known to be pretty brutal. They do a lot of stuff just to entertain themselves and they’re known to have rather foul personalities.”

“That’s really shitty.” Jooheon frowned a little.

Changkyun said nothing, just returned to eating. He told himself that he didn't really care. These rich people where just rich people, their sexualities meant nothing to Changkyun, everything they were meant nothing to Changkyun.

Even if he knew what it was like to be forced to stay in the closet. Even if he thought he knew what it would feel like to be them. To be rich beyond measure but still not completely accepted into society.

He himself didn’t know what it was like, of course. His parents weren’t anything close to rich. But, truly, it wasn’t as if there was a lot to being someone like them, was there?

Youngjae was right, though. Rich people like that were bad news and he was better off avoiding them.