Woojin stood outside Chan’s apartment, they having shared their last kiss of the night. There had been a shy regard as the now black haired man slipped back into his home.
He stood and listened to Chan’s friends hollering at him, laughing with him as he dodged muffled questions Woojin couldn’t clearly hear. They were yelling, practically, and it sounded like a mess lay just beyond the metal door. But it made Woojin start to smile none the less, Chan’s loud laughter joining the barrage of noise.
The brunette wasn’t quite sure why he had come that night.
In fact, Woojin had chastised himself as he showered in the gym for how many times he had looked over at the other during training.
But as he had pulled on his jacket, ready to trek to Minho’s studio so the two could have a drink before heading home together, the corner of his mind where Chan had always lived suddenly lit up. And something said that he needed to talk to him about what had happened.
Although when he had seen the younger man, he thought with a flush, that was definitely not what they did. Talk, that is.
No, instead of calling the one time incident what it was and assuring the other that he had no intention of spreading it, those familiar feelings started blooming in his chest the moment he landed in front of a bright eyed Bang Chan. Pressing on his lungs, Woojin felt the discomfort of pressure that always resulted from seeing the younger man’s smile.
That hadn’t changed. That hadn’t been overnight, he acknowledged as he stood in front of the other’s apartment door.
It was just now, he knew what that smile felt like. Woojin had such intimate knowledge of that mouth and it was startling how quickly he could abandon his purpose given the chance.
But Woojin could refrain, he had trained himself in the art of restraint.
Chan, on the other hand.
Woojin’s lips curved as he finally turned away from the noise. He heard his name one last time before deliberately taking measured steps back down the hallway towards the apartment complex’s exit.
Chan didn’t quite know how restrain anything. It was why his fighting was so wild, so unpredictable. He did whatever came in to his mind and then contemplated after. Woojin had watched Chan enough to see him tire himself out jumping from one technique to another.
But it was also the reason why he was so fucking spectacular to watch.
The night chill suddenly engulfed Woojin as he stepped through the lobby doors and he easily buried his smile into his collar, starting the journey to Minho.
The next day, though, their remembered kiss(es) were far from mind as they both finished training, still keeping their distance. It had been a pretty good day.
That was until Wonshik, just in the gym for the latter part of the session, called Woojin and Chan into his office as they all walked towards the locker rooms. Heads tilted, both stopped. The rest of the trainees gave sympathetic looks, Youngjae whispering a good luck when he passed. Chan caught the back of his head as he swept his eyes over to Woojin who stood equally still.
And now, sitting in front of Wonshik’s desk for the third or fourth time, Chan took a deep breath.
Wonshik’s heavy eyes slid from Chan to Woojin slowly.
Then he nodded, stapling his fingers as he leaned back. His chair creaked slightly and the noise rang loud in the very silent room. But he knew why they were here and why they were being disciplined with silence. Disappointment was the headiest of tactics and it was working brilliantly on the two young fighters.
Chan prepared himself for whatever was ahead.
“You two seem to be getting along.”
Both of their heads whipped up. Then they dared to look at each other, neither making a face. Then Woojin looked back to Wonshik easily, but silent. Chan took his cue and did the same.
Wonshik nodded again, sinking back into his chair. “I struggled with what to even say to you… and when. I admit,” he said with a chuckle. “I was ready to expel you both the next day. I had it in my mind that you two just couldn’t get along. And I would have the unfortunate task of telling you two to leave.”
Chan didn’t find it as funny and when he looked over to where Woojin was squeezing his knuckles, it didn’t appear he found the humor in the situation either.
“And then I come in here to find you two fine. Perfectly fine,” Wonshik mused, leaning over his desk once more. Pointed, tattooed elbows steadied him as he tapped its surface idly. “You weren’t talking to each other but there had been no murder, no crime scene and I think I was just as flabbergasted as everyone else.”
“We’re sorry to worry everyone—”
“I am not done speaking,” Wonshik said sharply and the slight smile on his face turned frightening. He wasn’t laughing because it was funny, either. He was dead serious.
Chan leaned back in his own chair, turning his eyes downward once more.
“I went home last night thinking that my problem had solved itself. That two of my best fighters had finally gotten over whatever was going on. Which was fucking great because I don’t like to deal with stuff like that.
“But then it kept me awake and I realized it wasn’t fair to the rest of your team that you two act out repeatedly, continue to disrespect myself and Jae as if we should just be grateful for a break in the clouds.”
Wonshik’s tone was now the sound of midnight in the woods—dark, troubled and overwhelming.
“I realized it wasn’t fair to us that I don’t share how disrespectful you two have been. So this is your official notice.”
Chan gulped but continued to look at his lap.
“Your chances have run out here,” Wonshik said somberly and waited for them to acknowledge what they were hearing before continuing. “If you two so much as get into a heated argument in the gym, you’re out. I do not and will not condone such behavior any longer. You owe it to your team, you owe it to Jae and you owe it to yourself to understand how serious this is.”
With energy commanding so, Chan and Woojin both looked up at their trainer.
“Do you? Do you understand what I am saying to you both?” Wonshik asked lowly, eyes narrowing on each of their faces.
There was a chorus of yes amidst solemn apologies and though Chan had known this was coming, it didn’t make him feel any better about it. He didn’t want to disappoint Wonshik. He didn’t want to waste anyone’s time. He certainly didn’t want to disrespect his team. He just wanted to be…
Looking at Kim Wonshik, how physically close he was to the veteran fighter, Chan struggled with ending that thought. Wonshik had been fighting for years, never gave up despite his own trials and tribulations. Never allowed an injury or personal items get in the way of becoming a great mixed martial artist. He was a respectable person all around.
And Chan wanted to be like him.
So the black haired man resolved to get his act together, starting right that moment.
“You can go,” Wonshik boomed, standing. His tone was still full of authority but less now, more brotherly. Chan looked back, wanting more of that as well, hoping he hadn’t ruined any chances of it.
Turning towards the door to the office, he filed in line behind Woojin. Watching the other’s back through his shirt, Chan replayed the words disrespectful in his head with each flex of Woojin’s shoulders.
Wonshik suddenly reached out to his shoulder, his phone sandwiched between his ear and his own shoulder as he stopped Chan from descending the stairs Woojin was halfway down.
“Wait here, I want to speak with you in a second.”
The black haired man’s eyes grew but he nodded quickly. Then he looked at Woojin who just watched back, brow bunching slightly as he also tried to read the situation. Wonshik retreated back into the office and half closed the door.
“Shit,” Chan cursed as he leaned against the railing, burying his hands in his hair. Woojin started walking again, though he looked up when he got to the bottom. “Am I done for?”
The brunette shook his head. “He’d have told you back there. He’s not a liar.”
Chan’s eyes closed. “You’d know.”
“Hey,” Woojin warned lightly. “You heard him, we can’t fight anymore.”
Draping his arms over, the black haired man just let his head hang towards the other. Woojin leaned against the banister at the bottom of the stairs.
“It’s probably nothing.”
“Then why didn’t he say it back there?” Chan challenged.
Woojin gave him a look that said he was trying to help. The younger man’s face softened as he recognized it late.
“You don’t always have to show your emotion to express yourself,” the brunette spoke.
Chan watched him, biting his tongue with a quick remark. He was trying to help—and he was also trying to make sure they didn’t get in trouble again.
“I’ve only ever been emotional.”
The tip of Woojin’s pointed canine threatened to show as he scoffed. “I’ve noticed.”
“Be nice,” Chan warned this time, though he was very much enjoying this.
Woojjn tilted his head. “Youngjae isn’t here to walk you home, you think you can get there by yourself?”
Woojin wasn’t leaving and Chan was enjoying the break in the mood. They had been so angry with each other for so long, yet they had made out the day before—for the second time. Now they were back to reality and it all felt so surreal.
“Is that your way of saying you’ll take me home?”
Jaw dropping, Woojin’s eyebrows shot up slightly. Since he was looking up, his hair had fallen back from his forehead attractively. Chan just smiled in return.
But before Woojin could say no—they both knew it was a no—Wonshik reappeared and started to speak, though he stopped when he spotted Woojin at the foot of the stairs.
Losing his smile, the brunette gave a curt nod, wishing them both a good night before walking towards the locker rooms. Chan watched him leave, avoiding the inevitable.
Then the younger fighter turned to his trainer, readying for whatever else Wonshik had to say.
“Your eye looks better.”
That was not what he had expected and Chan simply agreed, running a tender finger across it. It was still pretty purple but the swelling was all but gone and it no longer ached when he blinked.
“I wanted to chat with you about what I said in there,” Wonshik went on, leaning against the same railing. He was taller than Chan, his limbs longer so whereas Chan’s belly button rested against the metal, Wonshik’s hip sat heavy against it.
“Am I in more trouble?” Chan asked, focusing on where Wonshik met the railing.
“No more than you were a minute ago,” Wonshik answered honestly. He then dipped his head and caught Chan’s eyes. “But you have a different outcome in this, Bang Chan. If you two get kicked out, Woojin simply finds a new gym. Hell he might not even continue training,” he said off handedly. “Either way, he’d have no trouble finding a place to join. But you… you’d have to find a new sponsor, Chan.”
Eyes narrowing in an attempt to clear the emotion—the same one Woojin saw so clearly a moment ago— that pushed forward at the thought. It was a coping mechanism Chan had been using since he was young, to squint when he felt the biological reaction of tears press against his eyelids. He brought his top lip into his mouth and bit thoughtfully.
“You know I can’t sponsor you under an athletic visa if you don’t train with me. You remember the time and money it took to get you out here—”
“I do,” Chan rushed out. “And I am beyond grateful you did.”
Wonshik sighed, angling towards him again. “I know you are, Chan. I am not saying this to make you feel worse. I just need you to understand that you and Woojin have been acting like there aren’t consequences to your behavior. And you need to start recognizing yours in particular are much more dire than his.”
Chan nodded, then met Wonshik’s earnest gaze and nodded more emphatically.
“I understand. And I will make you proud of your decision. I do not want you to have any regrets when it comes to me.”
The corner of Wonshik’s mouth curved. “I’ll always have regrets. About you, about the rest of the group. About being the person I want to be, the fighter I am. A man does not live a full life without having at least one.” He placed a hand on Chan’s shoulder. “But I don’t want needless regrets. So I look forward to how you are going to do well here, starting today.”
Chan stepped back into a deep bow.
“I will try my best for you.”
Wrenching the gym door open, Chan ambled into the dark, wet night. As if he hadn’t known it had started raining, he held his palm out, puffs of condensation bleeding from his nose as he regarded the street light next to him.
Woojin figured he should make his presence known before he scared the man.
But Chan had already caught sight of him and paused in his inspection of the surroundings. His face cutely scrunched up and if it weren’t for the fact that he was getting rained on, Woojin wouldn’t have mind watching that face a bit more.
“Pull up your hood, you’re going to get sick,” the older man said instead, cursing how fatherly he sounded.
“What are you doing here?”
Woojin couldn’t admit that he waited. And he also couldn’t admit that he had intended not to walk Chan home because that might mean something more than what he wanted, but there was something in the dejected look Chan had given him at the top of the stairs.
There was something in the way he looked absolutely defeated in the glow of the street lights.
It was like seeing the sun slowly get blocked by a thick, never ending storm cloud. Chan’s presence had been like that most of his time at the gym, never really allowing rays to filter through—most of that Woojin’s doing.
But yesterday had felt a little different, hearing him with his friends, seeing how cheeky he had been before they had kissed in his doorway. It had felt like the sun on his face after a long rainy season. And now that same sun was disappearing once more.
So Woojin stayed.
And he was going to walk Chan home.
“I was just joking earlier,” said man spoke, now pulling his hood over his wet hair. Luckily it was a short walk to his apartment, Woojin thought.
Chan regarded him with suspicion. “Then why does it look like you’re coming with me after all?”
“I have to pass your apartments on my way home.”
That got a tiny smile on the black haired man’s face and while his doubts were plainly stated, he started walking all the same. Then he looked back at Woojin.
“Do we get to hold hands?”
Chuckling before he could stop it, the brunette shook his head. “Absolutely not.”
Chan smiled, stuffing his bare hands in his coat pockets. Then he threw his head back exaggeratedly. “Do I at least get a kiss goodnight?”
Woojin reached out to cuff Chan, the other laughing as he evaded it. But their eyes met and their mirth was shared.
“Stop talking,” Woojin insisted, giving Chan a small simper. It wasn’t much but it fed the younger man, his nod one of satisfaction.
And so, as they walked just around the block to Chan’s apartment building, Woojin realized it didn’t matter.
It didn’t matter that he had kissed someone considered an enemy, let alone a prospect of something more.
It didn’t matter that he had used anger to avoid how special Chan made him feel when he smiled.
It certainly didn’t matter that they were walking side by side, shoulders brushing every now and then as if they hadn’t been at each other’s throat days before.
None of that mattered because this felt natural and organic and… good.
Eyes grazed over the side of Chan’s face, his poignant features, his soft skin. Woojin realized just how long it had been since he had felt good.