Jeongguk’s life was pretty simple in his own opinion. He would wake up, drag himself to his conveniently placed morning psychology lectures, and no matter how tired he felt, he would always smile politely at the coursemates that passed him. On the occasional afternoon, he would find himself working for barely the minimum wage in the corner shop that only kept him on because they liked him, not that they needed him, and after that, he’d either head to the gym for a bit or just go home, the rest of the evening he’d watch random animes while stuffing his face with food.
He shared a flat with Jung Hoseok, who seemed like the complete opposite of Jeongguk. It felt like Hoseok always had someone around, or was out socialising with someone over food and drinks, always drinks. But despite their differences, the two flatmates got along swimmingly. Jeongguk regarded Hoseok as an older brother.
“Are you working today?” Hoseok asked Jeongguk as he exited his bedroom, coming straight over to steal a slice of Jeongguk’s toast.
“No, it’s my day off.” He replied, swatting Hoseok’s hand away when he tried for another slice of his toast.
“Does that mean you’re going to hang out with your hyung after your lectures?” Hoseok sat opposite him, placing his chin in the palm of his hands and batting his eyelashes.
Jeongguk rolled his eyes. “No, I’ll have coursework to do.”
Hoseok huffed and let his hands fall down onto the table loudly. “Ugh, you’re boring.”
“You can help with my coursework if you really want to hang out with me?” He suggested back, laughing at Hoseok’s mildly disgusted face.
“No, thank you, I finished uni and I have no plans of going near studying again.” He told him, making a final successful attempt to steal Jeongguk’s toast before running off to the bathroom, giggling to himself.
Jeongguk rolled his eyes again as he watched the older go. Considering all his toast was now gone and he was too lazy to make more, he gave up on breakfast and decided that maybe for once he would turn up to his lectures early. Except, it didn’t really happen like that because he walked past the cute cafe by the uni and just had to get one of their fancy hot chocolates with about twenty marshmallows, and he wasn’t the only one with that idea, leaving him stuck in a queue.
He crept into the lecture theatre by the back door and slid into the seat next to Jaehyun.
“Morning.” Jaehyun said, sounding like he was already bored to death of the lecture and took Jeongguk’s cup, downing what was left of his hot chocolate. What was it with people taking his food and drinks today? “Oh, it’s not coffee.”
“What were you expecting from me?” Jeongguk replied, chuckling a little. He doesn’t touch coffee unless it’s an absolute, stayed up all night and a 9am exam the next day, emergency.
“I was hoping for a bad day.” Jaehyun sighed, slumping in his seat as he turned his attention back to the lecture.
Jeongguk did his best to pay attention, taking notes with his coloured pens and ignoring the urge to go on his phone like Jaehyun now was. He bought pretty pens, he had to use them, so therefore, he had to take notes. On the other hand, he could always use them for doodling.
“You working tonight?” Jaehyun perked up after a while, looking up at Jeongguk from where he was with his head on the desk.
“No, day off.” Jeongguk replied, finishing his little sketch of a pine tree in the corner of the page.
Jaehyun peered over at the drawing. “That looks like one of those aesthetic tattoos girls always have.”
“Is that a good thing?” Jeongguk turned his head slightly to see that Jaehyun had a point. He could post that on pinterest, or become a tattoo artist, or maybe just an artist in general. No, psychology has always been in his heart. He wanted to help people, and he wasn’t smart enough to go the traditional medicine way.
Jeongguk blinked and turned to Jaehyun, giving him a sheepish smile. “Sorry, was thinking about tattooing.”
Jaehyun frowned a little but seemed to brush past Jeongguk’s weird admission. “Anyway, the boys are meeting up tonight for drinks, fancy it?”
He pondered on it for a moment before shaking his head. He said no to Hoseok, he’d feel bad if he said yes to Jaehyun after that. “I’ve got work to do, I haven’t started that essay professor wants for next week.”
“Fuck.” Jaehyun said a little too loudly, gaining the attention of a few people around him. “I’ll do it over the weekend.”
Jeongguk knew over the weekend meant monday morning, an hour before the lecture and shook his head. He didn’t like leaving things to the last minute, although, sometimes that would happen.
“Come on, Gguk, one night won’t hurt.” Jaehyun said, going back to trying to convince Jeongguk to change his mind, the usual.
“You know it’s not my thing.”
Jaehyun nodded and sat back, a cunning look on his face. “One day, Jeon Jeongguk, I will get you to come out with us. One day, it’ll happen.”
Jeongguk chuckled a little, picking up his pink pen. “Let me know when it does.” He spoke before returning back to his notes, or rather now his doodles of little puppies.
The lecture finished soon after that and Jeongguk and Jaehyun went their separate ways, Jaehyun on a mission to track down their other friend, Mingyu, whilst Jeongguk wanted to pick up some books from the library and head home to make a start on the essay. Another indication of the contrast between the two of them, just like him and Hoseok.
Jeongguk shoved his headphones into his ear, putting his music onto shuffle and made his way walking back to his flat. He was humming quietly to the lively beat of the song blasting in his ears when he saw a group of men further up the street, talking and laughing together.
He got a bad vibe from them straight away, from the way they all interacted, the clothes they wore and the way some of them hung back, cigarette in hand, watching others like they were prey as walked past. They were menacing.
Jeongguk didn’t like judging people, he wasn’t one to go off of first impressions, but this group of men - they scared him. As he drew closer to them, he tried to look for a way to avoid them, but the road was way too busy for him to cross and there was no roads off of the one he was on.
Biting his lip, he kept his music loud and head down, wanting no trouble. He started to weave between the group, muttering excuse me’s and sorry’s as he did, but only got so far until he accidentally bumped into one of them. He’d say accidentally, but he wasn’t sure if he was pushed or not.
He raised his head to look at the person he bumped into, finding one of the most handsome men he’d ever set his eyes upon. His black hair was swept off his face, eyes dark and staring right back at Jeongguk, and, oh God, his skin, it was like he was an angel, the way his golden skin glowed under the sun. Except, he was anything like an angel. It was more like a devil in disguise.
Jeongguk didn’t want to look away. He knew the crowd of people around this area and if he went by guesses, this handsome stranger could probably beat him to a pulp with ease at the flick of a switch.
His legs were still following the rational part of his brain which knew the wisest and safest thing to do was to get out of there, but his eyes, oh, they were stuck. The only thing that made them look away was when the stranger’s face turned from mildly annoyed to the smuggest smirk, and winked .
Jeongguk couldn’t believe it. His face was heating up, he knew he was bright red at this point. His legs moved faster and his heart raced. He felt so embarrassed, but despite that, he couldn’t help but glance back when he had gotten far enough away. The handsome stranger was back to joking around with the group he was with, like nothing happened. Jeongguk felt relief flood through him and he continued on his way home.
When he got in, he had forgotten all about his encounter with the group of men, if it even was an encounter, and his attention was on where the hell Hoseok was. He wasn’t on the sofa with his laptop balanced weirdly on his knees like he always was.
It only took Jeongguk one minute to solve the mystery and find the note pinned to the fridge telling him that Hoseok was out with Namjoon. Anyone would think he was incapable of texting.
have fun with namjoon slut
Are you calling Namjoon a slut?
no im calling u a slut bye
Jeongguk hit send and turned his phone off, wanting no distractions whilst he worked on his essay. He sat down on his bed, laptop at his side and textbooks all wide open and scattered around him. He avoided the temptation to scroll through twitter, or put on an anime, or even make food. If he got the essay done now, he could be free the rest of the week and weekend.
The essay was sending Jeongguk round the bend, he couldn’t find the right words to explain what was in his mind and every sentence sounded stupid. Frowning, he picked up the textbook he was using for the research study and read over the information like his life depended on it, and something in his head clicked. Suddenly, he was typing out what felt like one hundred words a second, his sentences flowing with ease.
He was almost finished when there was a loud bang outside, making him jump out of his skin. Out of curiosity, he went to his bedroom window, looking down onto the street to see a group of people running down the street, away from where Jeongguk presumed the bang had come from. There was a second bang and people on the street screamed and ran faster.
“Fuck.” Jeongguk muttered to himself, stepping away from the window. He was glad he was inside the flat, safe away from whatever was going on outside. “Hyung! Have you looked outside?” He yelled into the flat. Silence back. The cogs turned in Jeongguk’s head as he realised Hoseok wasn’t home, he wasn’t in the flat safe like he was.
Quickly, he ran across the room and scrambled for his phone. He turned it on, watching it slowly come back to life. He was getting impatient and went back to the window, trying to see if he could see what was actually happening. He opened the window completely and almost got half his body out the window to look down the long street.
Further up he could make out a large crowd of people fighting, it looked chaotic and messy, and it was right outside the bar Hoseok loved. The men fighting, there were even some women too, were going in and out of the buildings around, including the bar, people getting pushed to the floor and beaten that might not have even been involved.
Jeongguk’s panic only increased as he called Hoseok, getting no answer. He tried again and was met with the answer machine again. “Hyung, please answer.” He said, biting his lip worriedly as the third attempt failed too.
He knew Hoseok and Namjoon were capable of looking after themselves, they were older than him after all, but he had to know if they were okay. And maybe protect them too.
One more peer out of the window had Jeongguk making up his mind. He had to go looking for them. The fighting wasn’t dying down anytime soon and Hoseok wasn’t answering his phone either, if anything had happened to him-
That was it. Jeongguk was quickly running towards the front door, swinging it open to see Hoseok, key in hand, about to open the door himself. Jeongguk was so overcome with relief that he jumped forward, engulfing Hoseok in a tight hug and never wanting to let go.
“Answer your fucking phone.” He mumbled against Hoseok’s shoulder, the older hugging back and softly rubbing his back.
“My phone died, but we’re okay, look.” Hoseok pushed Jeongguk back a little so he could look at him in the face and then Namjoon behind him, whom Jeongguk hadn’t even realised was there.
Jeongguk nodded and looked down, now feeling embarrassed that he had reacted in such a way. He stepped aside, scratching the back of his neck as Hoseok and Namjoon entered the flat.
“We were heading down towards the bar when it all kicked off, we quickly got away and came here.” Namjoon explained, sitting down and turning on the tv like it was his own home. In fact, it probably was like a second home to him the amount of times he was round here.
“Gguk, fancy watching a movie with us?” Hoseok asked as he walked over to the fridge, picking up two beers from his shelf. At this point, his shelf was only beer. “Joon, catch!” He threw a can of beer across the room and luckily, Namjoon caught it.
“Arsehole, that’s going to go everywhere now.” Namjoon replied, yet still opened it, although now he had to hold it over his mouth so any beer that overflowed dripped down into his mouth.
Jeongguk stood watching the whole thing, noticing how the two were fine and were acting like nothing had happened. He, however, still felt overwhelmed.
“I-I’ve got an essay to write.” Jeongguk replied, giving a sheepish smile before quickly cowering back in his room and sighing. Blue flashing lights lit up the room, indicating the police were finally sorting out the fights, one final look outside confirmed this as Jeongguk saw some men being arrested and some others running away. He swore he recognised the man from earlier among the latter group, but he wasn’t completely sure. It could have been anyone.
He flopped back onto the bed, staring up at the ceiling. He didn’t feel like continuing his essay, or doing anything. He could hear Hoseok’s signature laugh from the other room and sighed again. He felt emotionally, and now physically, drained and despite Hoseok being the loudest he could possibly be, Jeongguk fell into a deep sleep still fully dressed and sprawled out among his textbooks.
The second Jaehyun walked in and almost ran over to Jeongguk, eagerness and curiosity written all over his face, Jeongguk knew exactly what he was going to ask him, it was like he could read his mind.
“Did you see what happened last night?” Jaehyun asked before he even sat down, getting his books out while still staring at Jeongguk. “It was all over the news, but they won’t say any of the juicy details.”
Jeongguk sighed and slouched in his seat a little. “I saw some of it, I guess.”
Jaehyun huffed. “You’re useless. And here I was thinking you’d have all the gossip.” He said, coping Jeongguk and slouching in his seat also. However, this only lasted for a second before his eyes widened and he was ripping a piece of paper out of his pad.
Before Jeongguk could ask what the hell he was doing, Jaehyun had scrunched the piece of paper into a ball and threw it straight at the girl in front of them’s head. She turned round slowly, glaring at Jaehyun and Jeongguk.
“Hey Jiyeon, you live on the same street as Jeongguk, right?” Jaehyun asked, the girl looking Jeongguk up and down before nodding. “Did you see what happened last night?”
Jiyeon perked up a bit. “It was that gang, someone had pissed them off and it all kicked off in that bar, the other person having his group of friends there too. I saw people helping someone stabbed, and there’s still smashed glass like all outside the bar.”
“Thanks Jiyeon, you’re an angel.” Jaehyun replied, even giving a wink. Jiyeon rolled her eyes and turned back around. “See, people know stuff.”
“But why would I need to know about some gang’s fights?” Jeongguk questioned back. In his mind, the safest thing to do would be to stay far away from them and their business, last night was an example of what could happen if you got on the wrong side of them.
“It’s just interesting, knowing what’s going on in that world. That gang is everywhere, it’s like they run the city.”
Maybe they do , Jeongguk thought to himself, getting himself wrapped up in the idea that they have people everywhere and that they truly did run the city. And then he wondered what would make someone want to join a gang, maybe they were forced, maybe they agreed with what they did, either way, Jeongguk could never do it. It wasn’t right to hurt people. If Hoseok had turned up hurt the night before, he didn’t know what he would have done.
“Gguk, you’re doing it again.”
Jeongguk sighed and tried to focus his attention back to Jaehyun or the lecture, trying to keep his mind off of the whole gang situation. Jaehyun had other plans, though.
“Why doesn’t the gang have a name? I swear all gangs have a name.”
Jeongguk shook his head. “This isn’t a movie. Besides, doesn’t them not having a name make them more secretive and threatening? They’re just there, the gang.” It was quite poetic really, he could appreciate the mystery around it all. He could still see Jaehyun thinking about it all and sighed, “Stop being so obsessed.”
“I’m not obsessed!” Jaehyun said with a gasp, then lowering himself in his chair as his voice was a little too loud and a few people looked over. A lot of people in that lecture hall must hate them for their constant talking. “Aren’t you worried about the impact they could have on our city?”
“No, give it a couple of years and they’ll all be locked up.” He said with a shrug. “Focus on your life, not there’s, because soon they won’t have one.”
“Oof, wig snatched, you went in.”
Jeongguk had to prevent himself from laughing to not gain anyone's attention but also because that was the dumbest thing he had ever heard and he didn’t want to give Jaehyun the satisfaction of a snigger. “Stay off twitter too.”
“Boring.” Jaehyun said, and to make his point, got his phone out and started scrolling through twitter. “I would ask if you’re busy today but I already know the answer.”
“I’m working until six and then I’m going to the gym.” Jeongguk guessed that was the answer Jaehyun was ready for. His life was predictable and plain, just how he liked it, however, he did miss his friends. “If I don’t have any studying to do, I can meet you guys after my shift on Saturday.”
“For drinks?” Jaehyun asked, his eyes lighting up. It didn’t last long though, Jeongguk’s pointed stare giving the message he wanted. “Fine, fine, no drinks. We’ll get coffee.”
Jeongguk smiled. “I’ll look forward to it.” Now he had more motivation to finish his essay before the weekend.
The lecture finished soon after that and Jeongguk was off, walking for five minutes before he reached the little convenience store. It was a small, almost cramped store selling the basics and probably too many snacks, but that’s what brought in the customers.
“Afternoon.” The guy at the register greeted, Jeongguk not remembering his name. He has worked in the shop for a long time, but everyone else seems to come and go pretty fast, so Jeongguk struggles to keep up.
“Hey.” Jeongguk greeted back just to be polite, smiling kindly as he swapped places with the guy. He could tell that this one would be working only for a short time here, it was the way his whole body relaxed as soon as he could leave, and the speed in his walk once he was outside.
Jeongguk, however, liked it very much. It was the perfect way to people watch, hearing all the random conversations that would go on with the customers, all the different people that would come in and out. It was like a glimpse into everyone’s lives.
And on top of that, he could get away with doing work when it was really quiet, aka days like today, when only a handful of customers came in the whole shift. Sometimes the shop was a better place to study than the library, although, on other days it would be the complete opposite, there was no way to tell.
Jeongguk’s shift passed by quickly, it feeling like a blink of an eye before his boss, Mrs Chi, was telling him he could leave. She was a nice woman in her 60’s, treated Jeongguk almost like a mother would treat their child; lovingly.
“Thank you, Mrs Chi!” Jeongguk said as he left the store with the free energy drink he was given from her. According to her, all students his age needed some extra energy.
Looking at the time, it was just before six. Deciding he had enough time, he started the five minute walk to the gym, his music getting rudely interrupted halfway there by Hoseok ringing him.
Before Jeongguk could even say hello, Hoseok was speaking loud and fast. “When you coming home?”
“Since when did you turn into my mother?” Jeongguk asked back, hearing Hoseok tutt loudly. “I don’t know, I’m heading to the gym.”
“And how long will you be?” Hoseok really was starting to sound like a worried parent.
“A couple of hours, maybe.” He replied, entering the modern building and heading straight for the locker room, the path drilled into his mind like breathing from the amount of times he’d been here.
“No, no, it’ll be dark in a couple of hours.” Jeongguk could hear Hoseok muttering to himself, it was mainly swear words and the sound of him moving things around. “Ugh, I’ll have to pick you up.”
Jeongguk’s eyes widened a little. “Seok, you really don’t have to.” It was only a fifteen minute walk to their flat from the gym, it wasn’t like he needed to be picked up.
“No, I will. Can’t have you walking home in the dark with… everything. Text me when you’re ready to be picked up!” And with that, Hoseok had hung up.
Jeongguk frowned, guessing that Hoseok was trying to conceal his fear from the gang’s antics to keep Jeongguk from worrying too. The gang was scary, yes, but there was no use being scared of them, at least that’s what he told himself. On the other hand, he knew full well he would be petrified if he was up close with some of their members.
Shaking the thought out of his mind, he continued with his usual workout routine, losing his mind into random thoughts like he always did. This time it was about if dogs could actually tell what you were saying to it and if they can truly know if you love them; deep thoughts.
Hoseok was right when he said it’d be dark by the time Jeongguk finishes at the gym. As soon as he walked outside he was met by a cold chill and the dark sky.
i’m out and it’s fucking freezing
Okay stay by the entrance, I’ll be as quick as I can
Jeongguk was about to reply but was met with his phone’s blank screen, the battery had died. Glaring, he put the phone away into his back pocket, making a mental note to invest in a portable charger.
Now with no phone to distract him as he waited for Hoseok, he leaned back against the wall of the gym, hands tucking into his coat pocket for warmth and breath misting up as it left his body, only making him feel colder.
Looking around, he saw how bad the traffic was on the road in front of him, the cars barely moving. One positive was the darkness was lit up by the constant use of break lights, but that meant it would take longer for Hoseok to get there.
There weren't very many people out at this time of night, the pavements baren. But there was one other person stood similarly to Jeongguk on the other side of the street, and when Jeongguk focused more on the person, his eyes went wide. Of course it was his luck that he was now staring at the man from yesterday, the scary yet attractive one, the one that winked at him. And the worst part of it, this man was staring back.
Jeongguk wanted the ground to swallow him whole. His eyes were glued to this man, watching as he kicked off the wall he was leaning against and started to weave through the traffic on the road, getting closer and closer. Jeongguk didn’t know what to do, panicking internally as this man was now on his side of the road, smirking and standing next to him.
He was stood still, breath held as he watched the man pull something out of his pocket, and as soon as he saw what it was, a small feeling of relief rushed through him.
“Cigarette?” The man offered, holding the open packet in front of Jeongguk. His voice was deep and rough, something Jeongguk should have expected from a scary smoker.
“No thank you, it’s not good for you.” Jeongguk replied in a small voice, tearing his eyes away from the man to look up the street in the hopes he’d see Hoseok’s car. He didn’t.
The man made a tutting sound, followed by a “Pity.” and when Jeongguk looked back, he was placing a cigarette between his lips with his slender fingers and lifting his lighter up with the other hand to set it alight.
If it was any other situation, Jeongguk would admit to the man being very attractive, deep voice and beautiful hands included, but he just couldn’t see the appeal of cigarettes. He could barely avoid coughing when the smoke reached him. He wanted to move away from the man, however, he didn’t want to come across as rude, especially when he didn’t know what else lied in the man’s pockets. So he suffered, every breath making his lungs want to kill him.
Jeongguk remained staring at the man’s face, silently admiring the attractive side profile, the delicate slope of his nose with the little mole on the tip, his long eyelashes, his soft looking lips wrapped around the cigarette. This man could be a model.
The second wave of relief from the encounter happened when the man dropped his cigarette, grinding it into the ground with his boot. What was left was the smell of cigarettes mixed with expensive cologne, everything Jeongguk found most and least appealing in a man.
It was then that he properly looked the man up and down, seeing he was only in tight ripped black jeans, a thin top and a leather jacket on top, and Jeongguk’s mind spoke before he had a second to think. “Aren’t you cold?” He looked good, yes, but Jeongguk was in a thick coat and he felt cold, he couldn’t imagine how he felt.
The man looked taken aback a little from Jeongguk speaking. “A little.” He replied with a shrug, before adding, “I’m used to it.”
“Why?” Jeongguk wondered aloud before thinking, he really shouldn’t be asking so many questions. Talking to strangers was a bad thing, talking to dangerous strangers was on a whole other level.
“I’ve got an image to keep up, haven’t I?” He said cockily, smirking and straightening out his jacket as if to prove his point.
“But what’s the point if you’re cold?” The man chuckled a little at that, contrasting with his scary image. “You can still be scary in warm clothes, you won’t be shivering for a start.” Jeongguk’s eyes went wide as he realised what he had just said out loud.
“You think I’m scary?” No answer. “If I’m scary then why are you talking to me?” There wasn’t any offence in his voice, it was more like he was shocked and maybe a little curious. It made Jeongguk wonder how many people would actually stand and talk to him like he was.
“Because-” The reply was on the tip of his tongue, but he paused, for once, to get the words right. “Because you’re not being rude to me, so why should I be rude to you and ignore you?”
The man chuckled a little again. “That’s cute.” He said, taking out another cigarette from the packet. “Cute, but potentially dangerous. Who knows how scary I can be.”
Jeongguk gulped, watching the man place the cigarette in his mouth and raised his eyebrow cockily at him. He could feel his cheeks heat up a little as he watched, preparing himself for another round of torture courtesy of cigarette smoke.
Jeongguk had completely forgotten why he was stood there in the first place and almost jumped out of his skin when Hoseok sounded his car horn in front of them.
“Um, well, it’s been nice talking.” Jeongguk said, taking hesitant steps towards Hoseok’s car.
“See you around, kid.” The man replied before Jeongguk quickly got into the car, glancing out of the window to watch the man stare back at the car for a bit and then walk the other direction, small clouds of smoke following him.
“What the hell?” Hoseok said, pulling Jeongguk’s attention away from the man and to his flatmate sat next to him.
“You!” Hoseok exclaimed, eyes wide and hands gripping the wheel a little too tightly. “What the fuck are you doing talking to Kim Taehyung ?”
Jeongguk frowned. “Who?” That was the first time he had ever heard that name. He assumed that it was the name of the man he was just talking to, but he didn’t understand the relevance or importance behind the name.
He heard Hoseok sigh, his grip loosening on the steering wheel, in fact, his whole demeanour seemed to relax. “Just-” Another sigh. “He’s bad news. That’s all you need to know.” He moved in his seat, taking a quick glance at Jeongguk. “Promise me you’ll stay away from him.”
Jeongguk bit his lip, not sure what he was agreeing to exactly, but he nodded all the same. “I promise.”