Since the bus ride back to Seoul the week before, there had been an awkward sense of courtesy. The entire gym felt lighter now that the two eldest trainees were not quarreling. In fact, there seemed to be an air of humor as they all returned.
Wonshik had heralded Boyoung as the next sensation, to which the teenager graciously bowed. But it was true—he had a raw type of talent that melded instinct and nature with strategy. He had said he had learned from watching Woojin.
That had made the brunette smile, because truth be told, he didn't want to be a shadow to the rest of them. He didn't necessarily need to be in the spotlight, like Chan, but he wanted to be a good role model at least. That was where part of the joy came from.
There was no joy in winning when you won all the time.
But he'd never admit that.
"Hey, you want to help me wrap my hands?"
Startled from his reverie, Woojin looked over to the mop of platinum blonde currently looking at him. Bony wrists outstretched, the brunette regarded them with skepticsm.
This was also new.
Their vibe had always been too intense for Woojin and he found himself wanting to trade places with anyone else in the room. Because Bang Chan made him feel odd and there wasn't an easy way to describe how he wanted nothing to do with the younger man.
And yet, wanted everything to do with him at the same.
Woojin had had crushes in the past—this was not that. He had lusted after others—this was also not that. He didn't think it in him to truly hate someone—and for some reason, there was a resounding understanding he did not hate Chan.
There was something, though, that always kept Chan at the back of Woojin's mind. Not far from his every day thoughts and though Minho joked about the small grin he'd get thinking about the blonde, there was some truth to it. It had been easier when they disliked each other. Because that was clear and easy to understand.
This was not easy to understand, weird and oddly enticing.
When Chan smiled, Woojin melted.
And he didn't appreciate feeling disarmed so easily.
But that was because Woojin had always been good at everything (except drawing) and to encounter something, someone, that could reduce him didn't feel… right.
It felt something else.
Woojin didn't have time to think, though, because as Chan thrusted his hands in his personal space, closer than they had ever amicably been, there was also the screech of the gym doors. All eyes flew to the entrance and once Woojin recognized who came through, his edges softened slightly.
"Who is that?" Chan wondered aloud, the others crowded in the stretching area all looking to their feet. Or the ceiling. Either or.
So Woojin answered easily, "None of your business."
And he had meant it jokingly serious. Because Jung Taekwoon wasn't any of their business. And if Wonshik wanted people to know, he'd let them know. Until then, it wasn't for them to speculate.
Chan's brow furrowed, cheeks bunching. "I was just asking," he muttered, taking back his hands slowly. Woojin focused on him once again. But as he was about to apologize for his curtness and reach for his wrists, Chan spoke again. "Wait… Does he know Wonshik?"
Woojin's eyes slid over to where Taekwoon was talking with Jae, laughing shyly. He loved watching Taekwoon smile, his entire face lighting up in delight. His elder could be stoic and scary—two things Woojin had encountered when he first met his piano instructor years before.
All it took was a moment where they sang together for the brunette to get behind his soon to be mentor's walls. Woojin couldn't help but smile at his friend, giving a nod when the black haired man's eyes caught his. Lips curling, his smile turned into a wide simper.
Then, everything happened at once.
Wonshik appeared, smiled just as widely—lovingly. And in a show that wasn't new, but definitely rare, he pulled Taekwoon close. If they had been anywhere secluded, Woojin was sure there would have been a kiss to follow. He had seen enough of them to know the familiar dance. But this wasn't anywhere hidden, this was Wonshik's gym.
And as all turned away against the barely there public display of affection, Chan stared outright. Woojin turned to him and grabbed his wrist, yanking him closer.
"I'll help you," he rushed out, hoping distraction would work.
It didn't, as the blonde simply looked over his shoulder at the couple by the gym door. Then he looked at Woojin, pretty eyes hallowed.
Chan had to decide whether to pay attention to the fact that Wonshik was close—very close—with the gorgeous man by the door. They were laughing with each other, their height, their legs—their everything making the perfect pair. Or examine and re-examine his words to figure out what could have possibly made Woojin look at him the way he was. But the older man was not letting go of his wrists so that, at least, was a positive sign.
Eyes crawled back over Woojin's shoulder.
Before he could finish his thought, Woojin had narrowed his eyes.
"What does that have to do with you?" came out, controlled and lower than Woojin normally sounded.
Immediately, Chan's defenses spiked down his spine.
He felt the familiar trappings, starting to tire of this game. But as he felt Woojin's fingers along his palms, there were two warring feelings:
- Excitement from the soft touch. So much so that he wanted to curl his own hands around the long fingers, enjoying their warmth. Chan always had such cold hands, the contrast was tempting.
- Then there was the aggravation that was slowly growing. It made him want to grip those fingers and break each and every one of them, then dominate the brunette in a show of force.
The duality was not lost on the blonde, that Woojin took him to such places so quickly. It didn't make sense.
But it felt good, the now anger surging through him as he watched Woojin frowning at him. Ripping his hands away, he steeled Woojin with dark eyes.
"I am allowed to wonder—"
"No. You aren’t."
Chan's blood started boiling. "Yes. I am."
Youngjae had since walked away, Boyoung as well. Sunho and Sungmin fell into the background though they had a perverse interest in the whole thing. They didn't disappear as the others. But that just fueled the blonde, who had been so nice and so understanding. Even as Woojin rebuked his offers or his greetings, Chan kept at it. Because he had seen that look the brunette wore as he won his bout.
It was the first time Chan recognized the enjoyment inside Woojin.
But his patience had worn thin and now he was fucking pissed, muscles vibrating. He was allowed to speculate about what he saw with his own two eyes. It wasn't as if he was being disrespectful or judgmental. Hell, who was he to judge when he—
Woojin was leaving but Chan wasn't done yet.
So instead, the younger man impulsively acted the way it worked in his mind: beginning middle end resolution.
Except they had already been through the beginning and were barrelling towards the end.
"I am not done talking to you," Chan spit, angrier than he realized.
Woojin spun around and pinned him with blazing eyes. "Excuse me?"
Chan steeled his spine once more, ignoring that he was being disrespectful to his elder. "You don't just walk away from me."
"You think?" the older man questioned, void of any emotion as he stood straighter. It fanned the flame as Chan squeezed his fists.
"I just—he's obviously close with that guy," he explained, as if offering that would convince Woojin he was right. But the brunette just continued to stare. Chan flexed his jaw. "I have the right to ask—"
"What gives you that right?"
Unable to hold back, "Are you fucking Wonshik? Is that why you're so mad right now?" Chan bellowed, partial smile rising to cover his incredulity.
Because, if he thought about it, why was Woojin acting like this? And why did Wonshik smile every time he was around or talking about Woojin? Why did he always look after the older fighter?
As if it dawned like a rising sun, Chan's anger turned jealous.
"You are, aren't you?" he whispered, eyes squinting in judgement. "Holy fuck, you are."
"I am not!" Woojin finally responded stepping closer. "You are pretty unbelievable."
Chan ignored him easily, tutting his tongue as he crossed his bare arms. "No wonder you didn't get kicked out for almost splitting my tongue—"
The rest of his sentence died as Woojin tackled him, the two falling unceremoniously to the padded ground. Reaching up, Chan pushed his hands at Woojin's chest to keep him from gaining the upper hand. He had already witnessed what the fighter could do on the ground.
Something in that thought incited further fury and twisting his hips, Chan tried to switch their positions.
But before he could, someone had yanked Woojin away, others dragging Chan by the armpits. Without looking, the blonde knew he was in trouble. Even though he only had eyes for Woojin, he could feel Wonshik's energy swarm above the two and when the tall elder stood between them, Chan didn't have the decency to look at him long.
Irate was an understatement.
Chan looked at Woojin once more, the most animated than he had ever seen, but this time he was talking to the man that had come through the doors and started this whole thing. His eyes, though. Woojin's eyes were trained on Chan.
"I am so fucking tired of you two fighting in my gym," Wonshik ground out. "Everyone out!" he roared, a stunned silence folllowing his demand. They all looked from one to another. Wonshik took a deep breath through his nose, eyes closing as the air seemed to leave the room. In an instant, everyone started scurrying, emptying the near full gym until it was just the three.
"You don't leave this gym until you figure your shit out," Wonshik seethed, dark eyes narrowing as he looked between the two. "Otherwise you're both out…"
Woojin frowned. Chan pursed his lips.