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Nightmare

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Wet streets, wet pavement and wet umbrellas. The rain was drumming its own melody as it poured as if somebody was emptying buckets over the city. The sky was a single grey plane and almost indistinguishable from the dark grey color of the wet asphalt.

“Shit weather,” an elderly woman commented in German, aimed at nobody in particular apart from her tiny red umbrella that turned inside out from the force of the wind.

‘She isn't wrong,’ Hyungwon found himself thinking as he briefly contemplated crossing the few puddles and helping the older woman, but her steps had already turned into an echo as she crossed at the traffic light and disappeared in the grey fog of water drops.

His attention returned to his dirty sneakers, close to the color of the black puddle next to them with the exception that it wasn't their original color. Hyungwon doubted that the rain was able to help them any more than a washing machine could.

A thick drop of water landed right next to the tip of his shoe, big enough to splatter a few more drops on his sockless ankles and the pant leg of his too short jeans. It was maximum ten degrees, too cold for the end of May, but Hyungwon doubted that any of the businessmen waiting at the traffic light next to him cared about that. The weather was shit and all thought ended there.

Grabbing the collar of his oversized denim jacket, he wrapped it tighter around himself in an attempt to stay warm. It was definitely not warm enough, but there wasn't another option, so he had to make do with what he had. A short man glanced up at him, pursing his lips in distaste at his attire, assuming Hyungwon was trying to send a fashion statement by wearing all denim during a downpour.

There are better statements to make.

His attention returned to his feet to keep himself from rectifying the shorter man's misconceptions.

The traffic light remained red, as if taunting them and Hyungwon chewed on his cheek as another man joined, dressed in a sleek blue suit that stuck out among all the grey. There was nothing else to hold his interest as a few drops from the edges of the black umbrella dropped on his shoulder and a cigarette butt joined the puddles at his feet.

He didn't even bother to stomp it out.

Hyungwon felt the sudden need to bury said cigarette butt in the bright blue suit, but he was polite, so he refrained from it and used speech instead.

“Hey,” he called out, but the other man didn't reply, too focused on something on the screen of his smartphone and holding his umbrella straight enough to keep him dry.

“Hey, excuse me,” he tried again and stepped a little closer. Blue eyes met his and the business man raised an eyebrow but didn't give him any further attention. Apparently he wasn't even worthy of a single second of his time.

“I think this is yours,” he continued and gestured towards the cigarette butt lying at his feet. The older man followed his gaze briefly before simply shrugging and hurrying to cross the traffic light that had suddenly turned green. Hyungwon wanted to groan in frustration at the sheer ignorance, but refrained as he quickly picked up the butt and threw it into the nearest trash can.

Two meters, two meters with an umbrella was everything it would have taken.

He was running a little late, probably because public transport was just as affected by the weather as humans were, becoming moody and ignoring their responsibilities. As soon as he left the tram his curly hair only turned curlier, wrapping in big curves around his forehead. At this point, right in front of the glass door to the cafe he worked at, he was a dripping mess. Nothing resembled curls on top of his head, only heavy soaked strands that fell into his eyes and covered his head like wet blankets.

“You look terrible,” his boss commented as soon as he stepped through, washing her hands in the sink, as if the mere sight of Hyungwon's face made her want to wash invisible bacteria off her palms. He shrugged because the weather was enough of an explanation.

“I can give you a different shirt, but we don't have a blow dryer. Don't scare off the customers, we don't serve wet bird nest.” Sarah smiled a little, probably meaning to cheer him up and placed a dry white shirt and the apron on the counter for him.

Hyungwon still felt a little frustrated that nobody cared about anybody but themselves as soon as a little bit of discomfort was involved. After pulling the wet denim jacket off his shoulders, he threw it into one of the drawers next to the sink and added his soaked t-shirt before throwing the new white shirt on. It fit better than his own had and he pursed his lips while forcing his frozen fingers to close the buttons properly.

The glass door opened just in time, revealing another businessman with an umbrella. At this point Hyungwon felt like he had enough of them for the day. He didn't bother looking yet and attempted to finish buttoning up his shirt.

“I'll be with you in a second, is it for here or take away?” he replied in fluent German and brushed his wet hair back, hoping that water wouldn't run down his back and soak another shirt.

“Here,” was the brief reply as the broad figure rubbed his wet shoes against the black mat Sarah had placed in front of the entrance, glancing at him weirdly while throwing his umbrella into the provided container. A few more seconds passed before the blonde man walked slowly towards the table that was right next to the counter, placing his laptop bag on one of the chairs and opening his fancy black trench coat.

He's definitely prepared for the weather conditions.

Hyungwon nodded instead of replying and grabbed one of the dish towels to ruffle up his hair. It made him look like a lion but was definitely better that ruining other people's property. His eyes scanned over the newcomer in the meantime, attempting to sort him into one of the groups of customers they usually got. It was a little more difficult than usual since the blonde man didn't look utterly lost, but also not like he belonged.

Throwing the towel into the sink, he brushed his hair back one more time and reached for a mini whiteboard with a non-permanent marker. They were saving the trees after all.

“What can I get you?” he asked as soon as he crossed the few meters to the table and looked up from his whiteboard, waiting for a reply.

“A coffee. Do you also serve food?” Looking up from the menu, the customer stared right at his face which was rather unusual for a first time meeting.

Probably because your hair is all over the place and he's used to people licking his into extravagant hairstyles.

“Of course we do, unlikely we'd call ourselves vegan and only serve coffee,” he replied with a raised eyebrow and the hint of a smile and gestured towards the menu on the wall. Hyungwon stayed polite but couldn't resist another comment. “I hope you don't want real milk.”

“I drink it black,” the customer replied while staring him down despite their position. “Can you recommend something? Without real milk?”

Hyungwon chuckled at that, positively surprised that the blonde guy had a sense of humor despite looking so stern. He liked that.

“Sure,” he replied as he glanced over the other man's attire, eyes passing over the dark-blue suit that looked more expensive than his whole wardrobe. “You look buff, so I'd say the protein explosion is for you. It's basically what the name says with some super foods and our special sauce.”

Raising an eyebrow, the blonde man tilted his head and unbuttoned his suit jacket, before brushing his hair back that was perfectly styled and dry. He looked as if he wanted to say something, but swallowed it expertly, nodding and smiling instead.

A comment about the special sauce, huh?

Hyungwon grinned a little because that was the number one reply to his mention of their homemade sauce.

“She makes it,” he remarked and gestured towards Sarah with his head while scribbling down ‘protein explosion’. “Anything else I can get you?”

“The cafe was recommended to me, so I wanted to try it out, as it’s not far from where I work. My friend also said that the employees are nice and the coffee is well made too. You can’t disappoint if the coffee is good.” Smiling, the blonde man took a black leather notebook out of his laptop bag and a black fountain pen with golden letters on it, writing the date in elegant handwriting. 21st of May, 2030.

All of it screamed decadence and Hyungwon felt pity for the animal and the tree that were used to produce the other man's notebook. He felt the urge to point it out, especially considering they were in a vegan cafe, but he knew that the man in front of him was mostly concerned with coffee. In addition, Sarah didn't give a single shit whether their customers believed in the greater good of veganism as long as they kept coming and spending money.

He also said he only heard good things, you have to make sure he believes them.

“I'll do my best,” he replied and smiled while biting down on his bottom lip, unable to resist. “I'll even give you a blueberry cookie as an extra, it matches the color of your suit.”

Turning around on his heel, he sucked his lips into his mouth and ignored Sarah who rolled her eyes at him, already smearing sauce on the buns. He was going to make sure the coffee was fucking heaven and that the guy came back or all of this effort and shame was wasted.

He concentrated on his task, only glancing at the single occupied table once in a while as he ground the beans, filled them into the machine and poured aromatic black coffee. They even roasted the beans themselves and the effort was totally worth it. Once the almost black liquid filled the cup, Hyungwon added a pinch of spice which they were known for and arranged it and the cookie prettily on the plate. The sandwich was taken care of by Sarah, adding color to the plain drink. Proud of himself, he carried the finished product over and placed it in front of the blonde man.

“There you go, please enjoy,” he remarked and smiled, curious what the other man would think.

Instead of drinking the coffee, the pale finger poked the sandwich, inspecting the sauce and what else was stuffed between the two halves. Without looking especially fond of it, the blonde man decided on the coffee, taking a sip and closing his eyes for a few seconds. “This is really good,” he said, before lifting the cookie next to his face and grinning. “I would give you a puppy because it suits your hair, but I don’t have one, sorry.” The customer stuffed the pastry in his mouth and chewed, gulping hot coffee right after and acting as if he hadn’t just compared Hyungwon to a puppy.

“A puppy,” he commented deadpan while staring at the enormous motions that the other man's cheeks were capable of. “Walk through the pouring rain from the tram stop to here and then we can talk about what I can gift you.”

“Hmm, I know how I look after I get out of the shower, so a snake, I guess? A boa constrictor?” The man smirked and stared at his sandwich, obviously unsure whether he should try it or not.

Hyungwon contained a loud laugh, wondering where the hell the other man got the comparison from. A brief glance at the counter revealed Sarah mouthing ‘what the hell are you doing?’, but he ignored it. Grinning, he turned back to the blonde man and lifted an eyebrow.

Boa constrictor, really?

“A snake… do you have ridiculously long and wobbly limbs? Melting in the shower?” The image was funny inside his head, causing a chuckle to leave his lips and he couldn't understand why the guy would make such a comparison unless he planned on strangling Hyungwon.

“It’s gorgeous, the boa, I mean. It’s strong but elegant, curling around your neck without performing any unnecessary movements, simply tightening and killing you at a moment you expect it the least, graceful but at the same time so effective that you can’t do anything about it. Anyways, your hair looks cute, that’s why I said puppy.” Smiling, the blonde guest took a knife and fork and started cutting the sandwich even though he could have eaten it with his hands. Oh, how sophisticated.

He's fucked in the head, absolutely fucked in the head.

Hyungwon smiled apologetically, unsure whether the man in front of him could be trusted with a knife at his point. After careful contemplation on what to reply without talking about how beautifully deadly a boa is, he merely nodded and decided to thank the blonde man for the compliment. There was no need for him to engage any further, not with such a topic.

Somehow he also wasn't too surprised by a guy in a suit talking about a boa as if it was the best animal ever, something to look up to. The brutal metaphor made him angry and want to stomp on everybody who thought that killing something the way a boa constrictor does was a good thing.

Slowly strangling resistance right at the core.

It was all over the news, the decrease in protests as if somebody had blown out a candle that kept them warm. It was something personal, a topic the man in front of him didn't know and therefore didn't deserve to be reprimanded for, not now. He swallowed and all of his anger and distaste went along with it.

“I hope you enjoy the sandwich,” he murmured with a fake smile and returned to the counter where Sarah was already asking him why he needed to talk to him for so long.

“Let the food convince him, not that he thinks we are creepy or anything,” she whispered and emptied half of a cappuccino with a single motion of her hand.

Hyungwon safely avoided pointing out that they definitely weren't the creepy ones. Business might have been ruthless, but associating with slow murder was simply disgusting.

“He'll come back if he likes the coffee.”

_

 

When the same blonde hair appeared in their glass door, Hyungwon was grateful for not being half naked and with hair that covered his face like the mane of a lion. He looked reasonably taken care of with the exception of his jeans and sneakers, but that didn't really matter when he was supposed to make coffee and not look acceptable.

That's why he's here, isn't it?

Their special coffee was the one thing Hyungwon felt particularly proud of, it included spices he had gotten from home and that were rarely used in Germany. A treasure to say the least.

“Liked the coffee?” was his first comment as he smiled and gestured towards the same table that happened to be free. The guy must have been working close by, there was no other reason for coming by at ten to eight in the morning.

“Mhm. It tastes weird, but the kind of weird you want to taste again after it didn’t kill you.” Smiling, the man with a weird sense of humor sat down at his designated spot and took out the same leather notebook and fountain pen, writing down the date before looking up at him. “You look like a styled puppy today, but the curls look really good on you.”

Hyungwon swallowed down the ‘fuck you’, but couldn't resist his second comment. He had never been very good at resisting comebacks.

“Mhm, like the cow that died for your notebook might have been able to lick over your head real good to make it look even better than that. What a shame.” There was no reason to get annoyed at comments about his hair, but Hyungwon simply didn't get it. There was no point in talking about his hair or his looks. He understood coffee, even if insulting his secret recipe as ‘possibly deadly’ was going a little too far. The guy was an obvious snob, through and through.

“Ah, you don’t like my notebook? You can dislike it. And my shoes.” Glancing down, the blonde man crossed his legs at the ankles, presenting the black leather shoes. “I’ll skip the sandwich, but I would really like the coffee, please. And the blueberry cookie. I’ll pay for it this time.”

Again Hyungwon resisted the first reply that came to his mind. It was a skill that he had fought to perfect over the past few years.

“Well, your notebook and shoes have something, how should I call it, brutal to them considering the purpose of this cafe. But it's your choice, I just hope you are aware.”

Unfortunately his choice may be one of the reasons all of you die.

Licking over his lips, he brushed the black curls from his forehead and focused on forgetting everything that made him angry, because Sarah didn't tolerate laziness, not unless it resulted in more sold vegan food. “I'll get you the coffee and the cookie.”

Focusing on the task at hand, he went through the necessary steps again, making sure it was perfect and enough to hopefully give Sarah a customer that was going to return. Even if Hyungwon was pretty sure the guy was an ignorant dick.

Maybe he just doesn't know better.

Hope dies last, so smile back on his lips and curls falling on his forehead, he placed the small cup and the cookie in front of the blonde man.

“Please enjoy and let me know if I can get you anything else.”

Pale fingers curled around the cup as the blonde man took a sip while closing his eyes, very similar to how he had done it the day before. Hyungwon didn't need to be an expert to know how much he loved it, every single drop.

“It’s delicious,” the blonde man murmured, before opening his eyes and focusing on his face. “What are you more bothered by, me calling you a puppy, my notebook, or my persona in general?”

Hyungwon's eyes widened a little, caught off guard by the sudden confrontation. It wasn't something he would have expected from a random businessman buying coffee, not even one that approved of the boa constrictor.

“That's a difficult question, isn't it? I don't know you, I can only judge your behavior and what I see. You calling me a ‘puppy’ has zero significance for the world, but that notebook and your persona sure do, so I guess that will have to be my answer.” He rested his palm at his waist and lifted an eyebrow, curious where this was going.

“You are concerned about the world? I see. Well, the animal already gave it’s skin for my notebook and my shoes, would be a waste throwing it away. What do you put into the coffee?” The dark eyes glanced at him, staying for longer than it was appropriate for German culture.

Hyungwon stared back as he had no problem with eye contact and smiled.

“A family secret,” he replied but kept the gaze. The other man was right that there was no point in throwing away something that an animal died for, but he doubted that his customer was going to refrain from buying more.

Apparently he mostly cares about what's in his coffee.

Curious, Hyungwon glanced over at the pale fingers to figure out what it was that the blonde man kept scribbling whenever he sat at that table.

“I see.” The customer followed his gaze towards the notebook and immediately closed it, not allowing him to decipher the writing. Emptying the coffee, the blonde man left the cookie on the plate and got up, placing the brown notebook into his laptop bag. “You have ground beans on your cheek,” the blonde man commented, placed a bill on the table and left with a grin.

Hyungwon immediately lifted his right palm to his cheek and wiped over it, seeing it come back clean. That liar.

The notebook held his attention for longer than the broad man in a suit though. What could a man like him want at a vegan cafe, constantly asking questions but not working on anything that was obvious?

Just like last time there was a fresh date written on the page and nothing when Hyungwon got to him to ask for his order. What if the guy was trying to find out business secrets, attempting to make more money by creating a chain? He looked a little young for that.

“Stop obsessing over him,” Sarah commented behind him and sighed. “He's buying coffee and thinks you're cute.”

“Oh god,” he commented and brushed through his hair again, messing it up more than necessary. “I hope he stops and focuses on the coffee.”

The older woman giggled, obviously amused by his reaction. Instead of saying anything else she pressed a wet rag into his hands and gestured towards the table that the blonde man had just left.

Stop being paranoid and focus on work.

 

***

 

Hoseok watched his own reflection while unbuttoning his shirt. His skillful fingers loosened the buttons one by one before he slipped the fabric off his shoulders, uncovering his toned, pale torso. His apartment was quiet and he loved it. Living on the thirty-fifth floor had its advantages: he didn't have many visitors, it wasn't noisy and he had the whole city at his feet.

Sighing, he got rid of his pants and picked a new outfit from his walk-in wardrobe. Looking over his shoulder, he smiled at the huge tattoo on his back. He had gotten it from a priest in Tibet on his first trip before he started university. It was gorgeous, moved with his shoulder blades and looked alive when he flexed his muscles. It fit him well.

You know what also fits you well? Reaching your goals.

Right. The thought immediately dragged the image of black curls in front of his inner eye.

Right. Puppy.

The whole thing was more annoying than anything else, but there was a lot to gain depending on the outcome, so he left his leather shoes on the rack and reached for sneakers, completing his outfit. He didn't need his laptop this time as it was Saturday. Not that he didn't work Saturdays, but he mostly worked from home and the trip could have been considered work.

It is. What else would it be?

The puppy named Hyungwon Chae had a cute face and rather strong opinions, but he didn't expect anything else from someone like him. It had been clear from the start that he had to put in some effort and he was willing to do whatever it took.

You can see him at university too, so don't worry. No desperation allowed.

Hoseok had called the engineering faculty to offer a free talk on business and environment with the explicit mention that it would benefit the students of environmental engineering. The dean was so fucking honored after Hoseok told him about his company and his job description. The guy couldn't stop thanking him because he was doing it for free. It wasn't for free. Nothing was.

Smiling to himself, Hoseok looked at the vibrating phone on his desk and decided to ignore it. Puppy had first priority and everybody else could wait until he had time.

The glass elevator had a mirror and he looked at his own reflection while riding to the ground floor. The black jeans, sneakers and white shirt made him look more like a 25-year-old than the expensive Yves Saint Laurent suits he was usually dressed in. It was all about the impression one wanted to make. He hadn’t tried to do business with the puppy at the coffee place, at least not yet. The curly head needed to trust him first, let him wrap himself around his neck while feeling safe.

He parked his SUV two blocks away, to not be obvious and pulled the mountain bike out of the trunk. At this point he was super thankful that they made gigantic cars. Swinging himself on the bike he hasn't used for ages, Hoseok rode for two minutes, before stopping in front of the cafe and glancing inside.

“Do you have a designated space for bikes?” he asked with a smile, imitating being short of breath.

The familiar black, curly head lifted from the counter and the puppy smiled briefly.

“Yeah, it's between the two buildings on the left. We even have stuff to fix it if you ever run into problems,” the boy replied and returned his attention to the cappuccino foam he was currently decorating, drawing something with cocoa. “The usual?”

“Yes, you already know.” Winking briefly for effect, Hoseok turned around the corner and locked his bike, giggling at the fact that it looked completely new. The uncomfortable chair was waiting for him upon his arrival and he let himself fall into it, placing his rubber bag on a chair next to him. He had never used it, but they made them out of car tires half a year ago for a marketing event. Looking up, he focused his gaze on the black-haired boy and smiled. “What is your favorite food here?”

Dark eyes met his as Hyungwon looked up and raised an eyebrow. The puppy had finished decorating the cappuccino that he served to a lady at a table closer to the window and had almost finished making his coffee. Arranging it on a simple plate, he made his way over to him.

The boy looked like he was wearing almost the same clothes he wore the last two times with the exception of the shirt looking worse than on the first day. Once the tall waiter stood next to his table and had placed his coffee in front of him, he kept one hand at his slim waist while observing Hoseok's attire.

“What's with the style change? I doubt that I convinced you to save the animals,“ he commented and brushed through his curly hair before pointing at the menu. “Since you didn't like the protein explosion, my favorite dish might be more to your liking. I like the avocado bowl, the one with quinoa and local fruits.” The description sounded kind of disgusting, but he smiled and nodded.

“You have quite some prejudices my friend. It’s Saturday and I’m not working, so I can wear what I like. You might not know that because you’re young and your workplace doesn’t have any dress code.” Sighing briefly, he took out his notebook and wrote down the date.

“It's still your choice to work at a place that requires dead animals to meet the dress code, isn't it?” The puppy pursed his thick lips which made him look even more like one and gestured for Hoseok to drink the coffee. “Also, I thought that you work close by, how come you are here on a Saturday then? You like the coffee that much?” The boy smiled like he enjoyed the prospect and Hoseok could see how his colleague mouthed ‘lovestruck stalker’ while preparing a sandwich.

Lovestruck? Why not?

“The coffee is okay,” he commented and smiled. “I like your puppy face, it gives me positive vibes.” Hoseok grinned and took a sip of his coffee, ignoring the buzzing of his phone until it got annoying and he put it on mute.

The tall boy licked over his lips like he planned on saying something, but didn't. Instead he chewed on his cheek and glanced towards his colleague to check whether she needed any help.

“Maybe you should make sure there are other sources of positive vibes in your life independent of my face. I imagine that to be more efficient.” Grinning a little, the black-haired boy bit down on his bottom lip. “Although I am of course glad that you keep coming and drinking coffee.”

“It’s good for business, so you’re being a good boy for attracting customers. You only work in the early morning and late afternoon, right?” Hoseok looked at the bowl that the puppy placed in front of him and prepared himself to choke if necessary.

“How do you know my work times? Are you watching me from your office building?” The gaze in the black eyes changed a little as he glanced outside, as if to make sure that there was no building that looked suspicious to him. “I don't really care about the business in the literal sense, because if you buy here that means you're supporting local farmers and fair trade coffee beans. You're also not eating meat, so I support your decision to come here wholeheartedly, even if you only drink coffee. It already makes a difference, you know?”

Thank you, sustainability Jesus.

“This place is on my way home, so I see you when I go to work and when I come back late in the evening. I don’t have much time to watch you. Do you want me to?” Hoseok grabbed the provided spoon and stirred the unidentifiable mush in his bowl before placing a bit in his mouth. It tasted like mashed veggies with rough texture. Amazing. “You aren’t a school kid, right?” he asked, even though he already knew that Hyungwon was in University, enrolled in first semester environmental engineering.

“What?” It took a few seconds for the black-haired boy to catch himself, fingers tightening a little at his waist. “Why would I want you to watch me? This isn't 1984 and I'm not a school kid. What is the point of your visits? Drinking coffee and making fun of my looks?” There was no anger, only a hint of annoyance in the younger man's voice as he returned to the counter and prepared another order that his colleague gave him.

You aren’t supposed to make him annoyed. Only intrigued.

“The point of my visits is a slow change in my habits, and I’m not making fun of your looks. You look adorable, but I won’t mention it if you are annoyed. No problem.” Sighing, he stuffed a full spoon into his mouth and took his pen, scribbling ‘angry puppy’ into his notebook. The confrontation didn’t seem to work well and he needed to find another approach.

Flexibility is your forte.

“I don't mind you finding me adorable and what not, I just don't understand why a stranger would keep telling me that.” Exhaling slowly, the black-haired boy cleaned a cup and turned in his direction again, eyes attentive. Hoseok had said something that got to him. “But I'm glad you want to make a change concerning your habits. Is there something in particular that you are going for?”

Him. You’re going for him.

“Don't bother. I didn’t come to prevent you from working,” he said with an apologetic smile, deciding to change his strategy. The worst thing in the world was attachment, clinging onto something only made it less likely that you could keep it. Hoseok didn't want to cling onto the boy, it was annoying and definitely not the right way to get to him. Hoseok drank the rest of his coffee and stuffed the remains of the avocado bowl into his mouth, placing a twenty-euro-bill on the table. “Have a beautiful Saturday.” He smiled and packed his notebook into his bag, throwing it over his shoulder and nodding at the tall woman glancing at him from the counter.

“You too,” the black-haired boy replied, brushing the curls from his forehead as he looked after Hoseok, earning a slap on his upper arm from his colleague.

You will see him Monday anyway.

Getting his bike from around the corner, Hoseok rode back to his car and stuffed the thing back into the gigantic trunk. Turning on the engine that made a loud noise with its infinite horse powers, he drove home, thinking about a nice topic for his talk. One that would intrigue the puppy enough to step closer.

_

 

“What? You are leaving already?” Hannah asked after entering his office without knocking. Or maybe she knocked, but he wasn’t attentive enough to realize, busy with packing his stuff into the laptop bag. He didn’t have much time before the talk and unfortunately also not enough time to change. Oh well.

It will be enough. Your topic will.

“Yes, I’m giving a talk at the University in an hour,” he murmured, buttoning up the suit jacket and collecting the slides he prepared but wouldn't end up using. Being smart was definitely a blessing and having a perfect memory the cherry on top.

“Really? You haven’t done that for a long time, last time was a year ago after you finished in Zurich, right? Are you working on a new project? Boss said something about ‘incomparable relevance’. He also used it as a reason for putting the diversity campaign on hold and I need your help, we really need to do this!” The black-haired woman stepped closer and gestured at him, but he really didn’t have time even though the topic needed attention too.

“I’ll take care of it after I’m done, okay? I promise. First I need to get the puppy.” Grinning, Hoseok stepped closer and placed a kiss on the soft cheek that smelled a little like the cherry fragranced blush Hannah loved to wear. “Let’s meet up in the evening.”

“Puppy? What puppy? Why would you get an animal, you are never home!” The loud voice accompanied him out of his spacious office and made him smile. No, he didn’t intend on adopting an animal. He intended on wrapping around its neck, but the beautiful woman didn’t need to know that.

She would try to stop you. You don't need that.

He smiled and entered the elevator, meeting two men in suits who didn't care much about him, gossiping loudly.

“I’ve heard the Boa Constrictor is at something again, I think this time it’s big, I heard from the marketing department that there is stuff going on. I have no details but it seems likely that it will change the seats on the board of directors,” one of the men whispered, not paying any attention to him. “Definitely, it was already close last time when he strangled the rival company in Munich. Like- shit, how does he do that without getting known and being all over the news? It’s only the others who end up exposed and embarrassed.”

Yeah. How does he do that?

Hoseok nodded at both men, before leaving the elevator at the ground floor to walk towards the prototype car that he parked right next to the entrance. It would’ve had more impact if he came by bike, but the fancy electric SUV had to do the job.

After arriving at the old building complex, he realized that the University looked just the way it did years ago. Nobody invested money as education wasn’t for everybody anyway, so only those who really wanted to study did, sitting on the fucked up benches from a hundred years ago while listening to old men telling them about modern technology and typing their notes into their tiny notebooks.

Forcing those thoughts to the back of his mind, Hoseok smiled at the dean, who was waiting for him all excited and was fast to grab his hand, shaking it.

He wants funding, doesn’t he?

Smiling, he glanced towards the lecture hall and waited until he was introduced.

“Today, we will listen to a lecture from Hoseok Lee, he has studied in Zurich and Stanford, received multiple awards for his business models and will tell you about the environmental aspects of business management and how to create sustainable models for the future.” The applause sounded loud in his ears and he walked in with a hint of a smile. Not too bright to keep his professional aura while avoiding looking untouchable and stern. The lecture hall was one of the renovated ones, bright and completely filled with people. He let his gaze travel over the first few rows, immediately recognizing the curly head and huge dark eyes staring at him in shock.

Nice.

He nodded at the boy, smiling a little brighter and stopped in front of the podium.

“Nice to meet you, as the dean has already introduced me, my name is Hoseok Lee and I am here to talk to you about sustainability in business. I guess most of you study environmental engineering for a reason and I would like to get some input on why you decided on this study program and what you are hoping to get from this talk. It’s important information for me to make this as valuable as possible for you guys.”

You want to know what he wants.

It didn’t take even a second for Hyungwon's arm to shoot up, waiting patiently until Hoseok nodded at him to speak. Puppy seemed even more fluent in English than in German, easily moving from word to word and explaining his motives.

You know that he's not of German origin.

“Research suggests that there isn’t much time left to completely reduce emissions. It’s important to stop giving money to old coal-fired power stations that poison the planet and come up with something better that protects it instead. Global warming is no joke and a lot of the damage is already done, so I want to prevent more while coming up with compromises that enable us to live on this planet for a little longer.” A few students nodded, agreeing while observing his face intently in curiosity.

As you thought. Puppy Jesus came to save the planet.

“I see. I love your mindset. The problem is that people with great ideas mostly suffer from poor understanding of marketing and lack of structure. A scientist throws his results on your table, telling you ‘we are all going to die’, but is it good marketing? Spoiler: it isn’t. It also won’t result in any feelings of urgency or other outcomes one would like to have following such a statement. What I’m going to show you today, is how you can create a feeling of necessity in others, how to lead the public towards an outcome that you desire, be it to increase the use of sustainable energy or to replace the old coal power plants with wind-power. I'm very sad to inform you that ‘it works’ and ‘it’s better for the planet’ are not arguments that 98% of humans will listen to. It is what it is.” Imitating a sad smile, Hoseok went to the board and drew an apple. “You see this apple? I drew it, so it’s not really pretty, but imagine it is red and sweet, hanging from a big tree. You want it, right?” He grinned and turned around. “You have to use nature as an example. It knows how to make something desirable, with color, texture, taste. You need to do the same with your ideas, they need to appeal, but not only to you, to almost everybody. And it’s not only the desire to have the apple, it’s a global issue. It’s about talking about the apple in newspapers, making it relevant to a person’s life, suggesting improvement by owning it, eating it, wanting more.”

Hoseok looked at the first few rows, catching Puppy-Won’s gaze and smiled.

“Let’s say the person with curly hair in the first row invented a way to operate vehicles without fuel and without electricity. Wouldn’t it be amazing? Now, the pup… I mean he probably thinks that’s all it takes, now everybody will use it to save the planet. Spoiler: they won’t. It’s even worse, they won’t do anything because they don’t have to. In addition, change costs money and personal resources, fighting habits, getting used to a new technology. So, what I'm telling you is that you need to make the change desirable, hip, awesome, innovative and promising. You need to involve the press, movies, music, industry, politics, literally everybody to make this idea work. However, most of us are selfish. We think others have to believe us and do what we want because ‘we have a point’. There is no such thing, so listen well.” Hoseok was going off, drawing theories and diagrams on the board, giving examples and citing famous people without telling the kids that he personally knew them because they were part of his own armada of change-makers and influencers. The time flew by so fast that he had to cut the Questions and Answers and suggested to the students to come to him after the talk. Thanking the dean and the students, he packed up his things under a loud applause and sat down on the provided chair, scribbling the date into his notebook.

Instead of seeing the boy he had hoped for, many students came and asked him questions, obviously trying to network while looking for advice on their projects and how to make them ‘shiny’ and enough for a company to be intrigued and give them funding. The puppy remained seated in the first row, scribbling something down into his notebook and observing him intently. The boy’s intentions became obvious as soon as the last student gave up on talking to him and he finally stood up, crossing the distance over to Hoseok.

“Now I know what it is you do for work,” he remarked and brushed through his hair. It must have been a habit. “I see your point about making solutions desirable, similarly to the way it had worked with vegetarianism, lying about losing weight while emphasizing the health benefits of vegetables. The problem is that there is nothing attractive about dying. If the only thing we can do to stop the deterioration of the planet is giving up something that is valuable to us, then we should do it.”

He doesn't get it.

“I don’t think that you know,” Hoseok commented and smiled at the naivety. “I see your point, but you don’t seem to understand how people work, Hyungwon.”

Why would you say his name?

“If people suffering from lung cancer continue smoking and diabetics continue eating cake, people will definitely continue driving huge diesel cars and eat their giant steak, because it’s more fun to listen to the eight-cylinder engine roar and chew the beef filet than think about possible death scenarios.”  At this point Hoseok wasn’t sure whether the boy was cute or just stupid. Whatever it was, it didn’t really matter to the task at hand, but it did explain why he had to get involved with the puppy in the first place, instead of taking care of more important matters.

But this became important and now you have to do it.

There was no reply, only big eyes that watched him intently as something about the gaze switched from frustration at the topic and the inability to change something, to blatant suspicion.

“How do you know my name?” the black-haired boy asked quietly, as if he was suddenly conscious that they were in the middle of a lecture hall and people could have been listening in to their conversation.

“I heard your colleague call you that. Why? Is it top secret? I also know a lot of other things because my exceptional memory is one of the skills I’m most proud of.” It was easy, but he had several explanations if this one didn’t work.

“Fine, Hoseok.” The tall boy had a few centimeters on him, but his frame didn’t allow the height difference to have much of an effect.

He feels cool now.

The way the puppy pronounced Hoseok’s name also had something peculiar to it.

“You misunderstood me though. I agree that people are particularly good at getting themselves killed, after all it is what they have been doing for many, many years, in one way or another. The question is rather, why the people who have done almost nothing to bring about this disaster are being punished. The countries getting flooded right now are not the ones with the biggest CO2 emissions, are they? Otherwise nature would have already solved the problem. I am mostly struggling because it seems that technology is not good enough to make an electrical car desirable and people aren’t able to say goodbye to what they have.”

It’s always about justice, that’s why he’ll stay unhappy.

“People getting cancer are probably not the ones who deserved it either, you know? Actually you are pretty wrong about it. The technology is there, it’s the politics and the people who don’t want it, but the companies can’t force stuff on people, so they continue making the fat car for the dude who drives it to the vegan restaurant. Were you born here?” Hoseok finally asked after thinking about the fact that the boy’s nationality in his files was listed as ‘stateless’. Furthermore, he spoke much faster in English than he spoke in German.

“That’s none of your business.” Taking a deep breath, the black-haired boy brushed through his hair again, breaking the eye contact to glance towards the door. “You are wrong, because you are of the opinion that people legitimately don’t want change. Some do and even more of them just don’t know what their driving is doing. The more we teach and show what we could do through small changes in our environment, the easier it is to make the big changes, changes that don’t depend on the individual anymore. Currently there are crowds of people protesting on the streets, but there is barely any media coverage because it could weaken the economy, couldn’t it?”

There is no media coverage because you don’t want any media coverage.

“Would you protest if your dad or your mom worked at one of the companies involved? You’d probably say yes now, because you have your strong opinions, but there is very little that humans are willing to do if it somehow concerns changing their lives and giving up, even on the smallest things. Right now, I’m talking about someone losing his or her job because of a protest, but why would I even talk about that if people aren’t ready to tolerate a wind turbine one kilometer away from their fucking house? You know why they won’t? Because it will lessen the value of their house. It’s not even about existential issues, it’s just greed. But I guess it’s nice to see people in a nice light and hope for the better. I’d rather rely on my knowledge that humans are selfish, ignorant bastards that won’t do anything unless there is some kind of personal profit involved. Do your best.” Hoseok didn’t mean to go all out, curse and openly talk about his views on humanity, but the boy’s ridiculous views triggered his anger.

Don't be angry, it is how it is.

 “Again you are wrong, because you give up without investing the necessary effort to make a change. You assume that everybody has to change on their own accord, but they can’t. They need guidance and they need help. Currently more than 300 thousand people have signed a petition to allow for wind turbines to be set up in their immediate proximity. You think they would have done that without influence and having somebody talk to them? Of course not. You might be right about the status quo, but you are wrong about it being impossible to change it. Who knows, maybe you’ll see it too in due time, when everyone else has already been convinced and made the decision to change.” Biting down on his right cheek, the black-haired boy shook his hair to remove a few stray curls from his eyes and threw his backpack over his shoulder. “I hope you came by bike,” he added before waving briefly and disappearing from the lecture hall.

You do invest a lot of effort. He simply doesn’t know. And he doesn’t need to know.

Rolling his eyes at the obvious misconceptions the black-haired puppy had about the world and especially him, Hoseok packed his notebook into his bag and thanked the dean for inviting him. He couldn’t afford being annoyed at the boy. He wasn't foolish and knew too well that all the negative feelings would disappear as soon as the boa wrapped around the elegant neck, pressing down and taking care of the issue in the most cold and pragmatic way, once and for all.

Chapter Text

‘Save the Car Industry.’

Hyungwon stared at the billboard, red letters on a black background with all the car brands that people had emotional connections with printed at the sides. It was smart, even if the depicted manufacturers hardly needed salvation. His lips pressed together into a thin line and he observed an elderly man that walked past the tabloid and nodded to himself.

How can they believe that?

There was no way for him to understand how the public could willingly pour their money into a company who not only lied to them and polluted their air, but also left all collateral damage for them to take care of. There had been so much on the news, videos of cities disappearing under walls of water, but now there was nothing but tabloids screaming to do the one thing people have always been doing.

Ignoring. It's telling them to ignore everything.

Hyungwon ripped his eyes away from the tabloid and turned around a corner, following a narrow street all the way until the end. Frankfurt was a very urban region, but even in the most populated cities there were a few quarters with houses built in clean lines. However, even in those areas there wasn't a single house that stuck out. All of them were white with three floors, a garden and a big car parked inside an equally big garage. The living dream of more people than Hyungwon dared to admit.

A man with hazelnut-brown hair was busy cleaning his car with a hose like in some cheesy movie and smiled at Hyungwon when he walked past, probably recognizing him from one of his other trips to this part of the city. He smiled back and made his way to the only house that didn't quite fit in. There was no car and the whole garage was covered with bikes, broken bikes, half-way repaired bikes and parts that most likely belonged to a bike but weren't identifiable all by themselves.

As soon as Hyungwon closed the small gate behind him and made his way along the pretty pathway there was motion in the garage and a big puff of ginger hair appeared in between two bicycle wheels.

“Hyungwon!” Sasha was quick to jump up and brush the dirt off her jogging pants and oversized t-shirt. They always looked similarly dressed, only that in his best friend's case it was intentional. “Sorry about the mess, I was fixing a friend's bike. A fucking truck hit him at a roundabout. Can you imagine? What the fuck is wrong with people?”

Holy shit.

“Shit, I hope he's okay,” he remarked and rolled one of the tires to the side to give Sasha some space to leave the garage. She looked funny with the way her curly hair didn't split equally around her face. It was puffy, but Hyungwon wasn't really in a position to talk about messy hair.

“Yeah, that guy just doesn't die.” Giggling, his best friend threw a wrench into a toolbox and gestured for him to follow her into the house. “Mom and dad are travelling again, so we can take over the computer room without problems. I have good news for you, Shepherd.”

Hyungwon rolled his eyes at the nickname but followed into the spacious house. It wasn't his first time walking up the stairs to the PC room, but his eyes still paused at the various family pictures, different travel locations and Sasha at various stages of growing up. She had been a really cute kid.

“You were really sweet,” he commented and smiled before overtaking Sasha and holding the door open for her. His best friend flicked his forehead with her index finger for no reason and hurried inside, booting up the computer.

“You say that every fucking time and my answer will be the same, what the hell do you mean by ‘were’?” Pursing her lips playfully, she slapped his flat ass and gestured towards the screen. “Better look at this.”

Hyungwon didn't need a second invitation as soon as he recognised the petition. His hand reached for the mouse all on its own as he scrolled down and checked the total number of signatures. Half a million, half a fucking million.

“Holy shit,” he whispered, grateful that they weren't talking German because Sasha couldn't bear cursing in German. It was something about fecal swearing not being to her taste. “Oh my god.”

“Proud, Shepherd?” his best friend asked with a wide grin and gestured for him to pat her on the shoulder. Hyungwon didn't need a second invitation, wrapping his long arms around Sasha and squeezing her in appreciation.

“Amazing job, I'm so grateful that it worked. I mean, I thought the pictures would do the job, that's why I told you to use them to convince people, but shit, it actually worked.” He couldn't help the smile, bouncing on his toes while the image of a bright red apple suddenly appeared in front of his inner eye.

Hyungwon needed a few moments to realize why a successful petition for more wind turbines resulted in him thinking of apples, but once he did the connection was obvious.

It was him, he told you that you need something bright and attractive to convince people.

Hyungwon had used pictures before, but only when people needed convincing. Adding something desirable, beautiful even, got to the people much quicker than his words alone ever could.

He was right, but not about everything.

In general, Hoseok Lee was a little bit of a mystery to Hyungwon. The blonde man had appeared out of nowhere, buying coffee at the vegan cafe he worked at, talking to him and calling him cute. It completely confused him until the other man pointed out he was interested in changing his ways.

You could help him there, but his talk tells you something else.

Hoseok was interested in changing something about his life, but at the same time he spent several precious minutes telling Hyungwon that change wasn't going to happen anytime soon and should be given up on. The blonde man had the most negative view of people Hyungwon had ever encountered. Sure, he also tends to get angry all the time because people don't understand how important change is, but he was willing to work with what he had, to take small steps and get to the finish line even if he couldn't be the first.

He was angry because you didn't give in.

The blonde man had also called him by his first name while using the excuse that Sarah had called his name. It was bullshit, because she never did. His boss hated making mistakes and as soon as she figured out that she couldn't pronounce his name right, she gave up on it all together. Hoseok Lee must have known it from somewhere else then, but the University was the only option. Hyungwon doubted that the other man would go to such lengths to see him and figure out his name, but there was no other alternative. In addition, he really didn't like Sarah's theory about the whole thing.

Suddenly there was pain in his shoulder as Sasha slapped him as hard as she could.

“Snap out of it, you have this face when you think about how terrible everything is even though you achieved something. The day after tomorrow is the big demonstration and we already have shitloads of people participating. Promoting at uni was a good idea, so chill and focus on the good things, huh?”

Hyungwon smiled and nodded, looking forward to seeing the crowd.

There's still a lot of work to do, but you're getting there.

 

_

 

“Loverboy alert.”

Sarah raised an eyebrow next to him and gestured towards a familiar broad-shouldered man with blonde hair that was about to open the glass door to the cafe. Hyungwon's eyes widened as he turned towards his boss who had already grabbed her coffee cup and pretended to be busy. It was ridiculous and Hyungwon didn't believe her for a second, but there wasn't much choice apart from turning back towards the bright smile and fancy blue suit.

“You're back,” he exclaimed, sounding a little happier than he had planned on. Hoseok hadn't appeared for several days already and somehow Hyungwon had felt that he had upset the other man the last time they met.

People get used to things really quickly, even to customers that keep coming at the same time everyday.

“Mhm. Could you make me a coffee to takeaway?” the blonde man asked, placing a reusable ceramic cup on the counter. Hyungwon couldn't contain his smile at the sight and nodded, immediately grinding some fresh beans.

Despite being busy, his eyes returned to the blonde hair.

“You know, I've been thinking about what you said during your lecture. How easy it might be to be convincing if we only use the right tools, the correct framing for what we want to say. I am aware that you are busy, but I was just wondering-” The foam machine that Sarah was currently cleaning interrupted him and Hyungwon saw his boss mouthing the word ‘cute’ at him. God, she had no idea what this was about. “I was wondering whether you could find a little bit of time to help me look into it. Or at least give me some good sources if you're too busy.”

The unfamiliar gaze was observing his face intently, before the blonde man took out his black wallet and glanced at the empty cash slot, inspecting the various credit cards. “It’s not only the marketing, the framing, or whatever you want to call it. It is the manipulation of the internal wish. Of the wish to have it, to apply it, to be part of the movement or whatever it is that you want to achieve. I am indeed busy, but who knows, maybe I will come again if I find some time.” Paying for the coffee with his credit card, Hyungwon saw something fall out of the wallet and land between the counter and the blonde man. It looked like a business card.

Hyungwon stared at it for a few moments, considering staying quiet and keeping it to himself, but it felt like he was taking advantage of the blonde man.

“I don't want to manipulate an internal wish, I want people to understand the value and act on it themselves, with my help, of course.” Placing the reusable cup under the coffee machine, he turned it on and gestured towards the business card on the ground. However, just when he wanted to mention it, Sarah moved around the counter and picked it up as if she dropped it herself before serving coffee to another table.

What the hell.

Hyungwon swallowed and sprinkled the spices on top, observing Sarah until he gave up and smiled at the blonde man in front of him. There was no way he could call out his boss for stealing somebody's business card.

“I enjoy seeing you walk through these doors, so please feel free to come back.”

Hoseok Lee returned his gaze after putting his wallet back and lifted an eyebrow.

“You wanting people to understand your values and act on them only shows that you still have a lot to learn. Thank you for liking my image, I like seeing your curly head too.” A few seconds passed before the curved lips spread in a smile and the pale fingers wrapped around the reusable cup. Taking it from the counter, the other man turned around and Hyungwon saw his blonde head disappearing through the door.

Whatever happened, he's much less interested suddenly.

Hyungwon didn't really want to admit it, but it felt weird. He liked the idea that the other man had come because of him and to make conversation. During the past few days he had kept expecting the blonde hair to appear and for Hoseok to order coffee while making fun of his hair and making notes about random things. Habits were scary and if anybody should’ve known know that, then it was him.

Sighing, he brushed through his hair and leaned against the counter, wondering how else to meet somebody experienced to talk to him about marketing ideas without them telling him to fuck off because he had no marketing intentions.

“Look how fancy,” Sarah suddenly commented next to him and fanned her face with the business card that the blonde man had dropped.

“You shouldn't have taken that,” he replied and chewed on his cheek. “He didn't want to give me his contact details.”

“You are stupid and know nothing about human relationships. Loverboy had no intentions of taking this card back, can't you tell? This way he gave you the opportunity to call him without having to admit that he wants you to. I'm loving this drama.” His boss seemed overly excited as she talked him through her limitless imagination and pressed the small card into his palm. Hyungwon really didn't want to look, but he did anyway.

‘VABD Corporation, Hoseok Lee, Department of Corporate Strategy.’

Hyungwon stared, and stared some more, disbelieving that the words he had read on the small card were correct.

“What's the matter? Shocked because he probably earns more money than both of us ever will? That's how it is in the car industry, it's the money heap, boy,” his boss remarked with a laugh, amused by his response. But she didn't get it. It wasn't about the money, not at all.

Hoseok Lee was basically working for the enemy.

“Fuck,” Hyungwon hissed right before crumpling the little card in his first.

_

 

“This is way more than we anticipated,” Sasha commented next to him and lifted her sign with the words ‘ClimateActionNow’ a little higher. A single glance around the crowd was sufficient to know that they had collected several thousand people in front of the VABD headquarters. The attendance was enough to keep most workers locked inside the building for fear of confrontations and being asked questions that they couldn't answer without revealing their schemes. Hyungwon was glad about the sight, he really was, but he also knew that it wasn't enough yet.

“It is, but there is barely any media. Only the news stations that we contacted directly are here, how come?” he asked and tried to see if he could identify any of the major broadcasting stations. None of them were there.

Technically that wasn't surprising because their media coverage was usually shit considering that people didn't want to deal with climate change. The main difference was that these stations usually came to say something bad about them, or talk about how they protested against people having jobs.

But not a single one of them is here, as if they died out.

“It's the boa’s doing,” one of the activists on their right remarked. It was a young boy, probably still in high school with a pair of glasses but a broad build that made him seem older. “I heard there was interference with the media to make sure that the people forget about us. Assholes.”

That fucker.

Hyungwon didn't know if it was a single person or several. He didn't even know what exact alliance the boa had apart from the German car industry. Most people suspected VABD, simply because it was the biggest one and their opponents kept going bankrupt or getting involved in scandals. It was too obvious at this point to ignore.

“Don't give those people the honor of calling them by their nickname. They have no idea what they are doing to the world,” he replied and chewed on his cheek. The protest hadn't started yet and he wanted to make sure everything was going well beforehand, talk to a few of the people, agree with the police and hopefully engage the media.

Who will do it if not you?

His eyes travelled over the few present media outlets, the crowd of young people, ready to demonstrate for the sake of the planet and observing the surrounding cafes and shops. The owner of a grocery store walked out and probably hoped for profit due to the mass of people on the streets. There were also patrons doing their daily business, as if there was nothing wrong with the whole plaza being blocked by several thousand people. They were still going for lunch and drinking coffee. His gaze fell on a cafe right next to the meeting point. There weren’t many people inside, but one person immediately caught his gaze. The blonde hair combined with a breathtakingly white button down that almost shone, as if mocking him, made him look twice and indeed, Hoseok Lee was sitting in a cafe in front of his own company, drinking coffee while watching the demonstration with a calm face, as if it didn’t bother him at all.

Because it doesn't.

Hyungwon inhaled sharply and stared at the figure in the window, observing the way he held his coffee cup and lifted it to his lips. All of it suggested that there were no worries on the blonde man's mind, none at all. Of course, why would there be? Hoseok had told Hyungwon already that he didn't believe in change and that telling people what was happening with global warming wasn't going to make them stop driving cars.

He doesn't want them to stop driving cars because it's how he makes money. He asked whether you would protest against a company your dad works at because he's working at one.

Somehow Hyungwon wanted the other man to turn around, to take his gaze away from the crowd and look at him, at him in particular and show him what he was thinking. Hoseok was working for the car industry and obviously didn't give a single shit about whether it was okay to drive a car or not, but Hyungwon couldn't give up yet. So many of the blonde man's actions had suggested a change in thought or at least some kind of consideration for the planet. It couldn't be that there was nothing at all. Maybe Hyungwon only needed to pull it out while learning from Hoseok's knowledge on convincing others.

As if following his wishful thinking, the dark eyes focused on him. There was a hint of surprise from what Hyungwon could tell, before the blonde man lifted his cup and nodded at him with a smile, waving at him with his free hand.

Hyungwon contemplated what to do, but there wasn't enough time to evaluate the options, so he lifted his hand and waved back. He didn't like the way it felt, like he was somebody inside a cage and the blonde man was watching him with interest while living his extravagant life. There was no reason to feel that way, after all the one who was inside was Hoseok and Hyungwon was making a change while the blonde man was rotting away in the routine he was used to. But still he didn't like the way it felt.

“Who's that?” Sasha asked next to him after following his gaze and wrapped an arm around his elbow, pulling him towards the front of the demonstration. “You have to be the Shepherd again.”

“Yeah,” Hyungwon whispered as he slowly followed the shorter girl, but his eyes remained focused on the blonde man in the cafe for a little longer. “Yeah, I have to.”

 

***

 

"Why is there a demonstration? Why do I only know because I looked outside? It's huge! Why is nobody talking about this?" Hannah exclaimed as he held the phone next to his ear and listened to what the high voice would tell him next. "Do you think it was the boa? He does stuff like that, doesn't he? Making sure that people don't care if it's not beneficial to the company. Boss did great hiring him, but I still think it's a little too much. Why do we even need someone like him if we did nothing wrong?"

Why?

"I guess he has his reasons, I'm at the cafe right now, so I can't talk a lot, I just saw the demonstration myself, it's right in front of my salad," he chuckled, glancing at his beef salad that the waiter placed in front of him right when he mentioned it. "It really doesn't have much media coverage. Maybe it's not relevant enough."

"There are literally thousands of people here, Hoseok, why wouldn't it be relevant? You act as if you don't work here. It is relevant for you too. What are you planning to do about this? And don't tell me Corporate Strategy is confidential. I'm family." Hoseok could imagine his sister's pout, but it didn't change the facts.

"I'm putting a lot of resources into a project right now, so I'll simply do my job and everything will be fine, like it always is. Don't worry." Staring at the puppy who kept yelling something at the crowd, Hoseok hung up and turned back to his salad.

Is it tiring?

It wasn't. At least not really. He simply wasn't used to this kind of work, especially compared to his last project that went smoothly and was easier than anything else. Patience was his virtue, slowly coming closer and making sure to not make any unnecessary movements. He did well with his change of strategy, the card he had dropped on purpose and the less frequent visits made the puppy more intrigued than his open confrontation managed to. It was okay. Whatever worked was okay as long as it was reasonable and goal oriented.

Will he call?

Hyungwon hasn't called yet, but he didn't expect it either. They were too different and the puppy had a lot of internal dissonance to overcome before he would call him. Hoseok was willing to wait. Wait and observe, just like he did now, stuffing the meat into his mouth and watching the curly head move from one spot to the next, waving signs and doing all kinds of other completely unnecessary things.

He's indeed a puppy, jumping around like an idiot without achieving anything.

Hoseok lost his appetite, pushing the bowl away from himself. It was lunchtime, but he didn't want to go back to the company. His face wasn't one that should be remembered by anybody. Only puppy should remember.

He does.

Smiling at himself, he placed a bill on the table and left, glancing back at the almost untouched salad as he opened the door and encountered all that noise that Hyungwon and his friends were producing. It was indeed a little tiring. It was more due to his current mood that he chose the path that led around the main demonstration, so that he could look at puppy from up close, but it didn't matter, it wasn't relevant. It only helped him study the boy's face better, to see how emotional he was about the goal. It made him vulnerable. Vulnerable and foolish.

Smiling once when their eyes met, he nodded briefly and refocused his gaze, as if Hyungwon didn't bother him at all. Without looking back, he disappeared down a narrow street where he had parked his SUV to be able to get out after the demonstration started.

Noisy, he thought as he started his engine that made noise too and drove off.

_

 

"How is Hoseok?" he heard while approaching the dining room. He was blessed with a lot of different talents, perfect sight, good ears, incredible memory, a creative brain and the absolute calmness in using all of the above without getting too involved. That probably was the reason for his continuous success. There was no point crying about something you couldn't have, you just had to think, plan well, curl around it and flex.

"He's busy with some new project. Do you know about it?" he heard his sister's voice reply. His steps became slower as he wanted to listen to the rest without his family being painfully aware that he was there.

"Not quite. I told him about a problem and as usual, I have no idea what means or strategies he has to solve it. I only know that he will solve it, like he always does. I can always rely on him," his father commented followed by shuffling. It wasn’t time to go inside yet. “How are things going with Gabriel? He talked to me, asking a lot of questions about Hoseok. It seems weird to me that he asked me instead of asking Hoseok himself. Considering their relationship I would’ve thought that they talked about private things, but instead it seems as if he doesn’t really know him. Hoseok isn’t someone to share, I guess.”

“Oh,” his sister replied. “But show me someone who can really say that they know him. There is no-one. Not even I know him.”

Because she doesn't need to know everything.

Pulling out his phone, Hoseok selected the relevant number based on the first five digits and wrote a text with the simple message that was as precise as it was short. ‘I’m breaking up with you. Don’t call me anymore.’ Sighing, he sent it off. Feeling better and less bothered, he entered the room where his family gathered for dinner. He was late, but being on time wasn't his priority. Puppy was.

“You’re here!” Hannah exclaimed and patted the vacant chair next to her, smiling like a beautiful sun.

She likes you so much.

His sister was a few years older than him but always acted as if she was the little one, starting from the time they ended up attending the same class after he skipped two years in school. She kept asking him for advice, listening to him and somehow after all these years, the black-haired woman ended up being the only person he genuinely loved and was ready to do anything for.

In a reasonable manner. It has to be a reasonable anything.

He kissed the soft cheek that smelled like cherry and leaned in, whispering ‘I broke up with him’ into the protruding ear. The disclosure ended in his sister pinching his thigh painfully, mouthing ‘why again?’ at him. It was easy, the guy wanted to know too much. The worst thing about humans was attachment. Clinging onto something, anxious about losing it, they started making mistakes, forcing the loss they were afraid of upon themselves. It wasn’t his bother anymore, so he gestured at Hannah to stop talking about it and turned to his father, who observed them with a smile. Parents really liked it when their children got along.

“Don’t work too much, Hoseok. Focus on the nice things too. You haven’t had a holiday in ages. Your mother is worried about you.” Why did men feel the need to hide behind a woman when it came to expressing emotions? His mother was eating peacefully and the only one who looked worried was his father. The world was full of horseshit. Horseshit and the cute puppy, who believed people only needed to be educated on how terrible everything was going to be to act in the same way he did. The naivety was too much.

Suddenly his phone buzzed and he decided to look at the incoming call. Irrelevant. Turning his attention back to his family, Hoseok waited until the buzzing stopped and only returned once he received a message notification.

Does he have something relevant to say? Probably not.

The first few digits were familiar, however, this time he looked at the last few. It wasn’t Gabriel's number. It was someone else's. His mind worked furiously, assigning numbers to a face until a curly head appeared in front of his inner eye.

Shit. It’s Hyungwon’s number, you made a mistake.

The reply stared at him while he tried to come up with what to say, shaken that he was distracted enough to make a mistake like that.

'Is assuming a relationship your way of dealing with the fact that I haven't called you yet?' the message said without any additional smileys or other hints.

He feels superior because you fucked up. Don't get emotional.

Hoseok needed to think. There should be a way of straightening it out without having to explain where he got Hyungwon's phone number from.

'I am sorry. I just realized that I sent my message to the wrong number. Your number is not part of my contacts, so I don't think that we know each other enough to 'call'. Have a nice evening,' he replied and made sure to write the breakup message to the right number this time. Usually, his memory was so good that he didn't need names for contacts, but he was probably annoyed and made a mistake.

Plus, people shouldn't know about your contacts in case your phone gets lost.

"Is everything okay?" Hannah asked, but he was not in his best mood after writing a message to the wrong recipient. With his line of work it could've gone terribly wrong. The strange feeling remained, so he excused himself and left the huge villa, driving home to be able to concentrate on the important stuff again. He ignored the continuous messages and calls Gabriel blessed him with and blocked the other man's number, feeling better about the whole thing.

Attachment is the worst.

As soon as he turned off the engine and stepped out of the car, he felt his phone buzz in the pocket of his suit pants. A brief glance at the expensive smartphone revealed that puppy was calling, but he felt much better after the drive home, so he picked up.

"How can I help you?" he asked in English, remembering that was the language Hyungwon was more fluent in.

"Hi, Hoseok," the boy's low voice replied and he couldn't tell where the puppy was from the sounds around him, but most likely inside a building because there wasn't even a hint of traffic noise. "Would you be willing to share your knowledge now that we have each other's phone numbers? I could also try to be creative and find another way to contact you, maybe a letter delivered by a dove. I feel like it fits with the current development towards Noah's arc." A low chuckle followed, showing that Hyungwon was obviously joking.

He called without suspecting you. Nice.

"Ah, it's you, puppy. I would say it's fate if I believed in it." Chuckling to himself, he walked up to the elevator and pressed the button. "You want my knowledge? You should've listened to the lecture," he commented, unwilling to make it easy for the boy.

"I did, but I doubt that you were able to tell all 300 people everything about marketing their ideas within 1,5 hours. You said you'd think about it, right? You're a businessman and I probably have to offer something, right?" He could hear the smile in the boy's tone. "I don't think there is much you could want from a person like me, but you mentioned wanting some change in your life. I think I might be the right person for that."

He's one foolish bastard.

"It was interesting to see you at the demonstration, I didn't know that you were an activist. Is that the reason for your sudden interest in my competencies?" Thankful for the good network connection despite being in the elevator, Hoseok drew a circle around the button with the 35 written on it and smirked at his own reflection. "I don't need anything from you though."

"Of course you don't." Hyungwon sighed on the other end and Hoseok could already imagine him running his long fingers through his black curls. "Why would you when I basically stood in front of the company that provides you with money and told them to stop their government manipulations? It's independent of that. I'm interested in your knowledge because it's relevant to my studies. If I find solutions, I need to be able to convince people of their suitability. You seem to be the right person for that, no more, no less."

"Interesting interpretation. I don't really care about money, I work there because I work there and the government issues are not under my control," he lied, typing in the code and turning on the light as soon as he entered his apartment.  Not everything has been a lie though, only the part with the inability to control the government manipulations. "You are a little too emotional about this for my taste, you can demonstrate in front of my workplace as much as you like, I have absolutely no feelings concerning that," Hoseok added before slipping out of his shoes and walking towards the wine fridge.

Just that it won't get him anywhere.

"You're a little bit of a mystery, aren't you, Hoseok? Saying you want change only to argue that you don't believe in change a few days later. Then you come to the cafe I work at with a smile on your face, showing much more interest in my person than I can comprehend and then you're suddenly not interested in anything at all. Which of these is it now?"

Smirking to himself, Hoseok poured some white wine into the glass, wondering if Hyungwon could hear it, waiting on purpose with his reply.

"I might actually be the typical, average human, you see? Thinking one thing while doing another, wanting one thing and acting in a way that makes it unreachable. Let's make it fun and I give you the opportunity to decide which one it is. Feel free."

"Interesting. How will I know that you're not playing another game, adding option three into the equation for good measure?" The puppy was a little smarter than Hoseok had assumed, doubting his intentions. "But I'm intrigued."

"Option three is that I like the coffee, but all three options are not mutually exclusive. I guess it's a mixture of all of them. What do you think is more likely? But let's not talk about me, let's talk about you instead. You want to learn something, I like that because I like learning too. On the other hand, I'm super busy, so I only have time starting at midnight, so tell me your action plan." Hoseok took a sip and sat on the armchair, glancing at the Frankfurt skyline. One could've said it looked amazing, but attachment sucked, so he tried to remind himself that it was just a part of the now.

"I'm familiar with sacrificing sleep for the greater good, so my answer is pretty clear. Let's do it, Hoseok. Tell me when and where and I'll try to arrange it." Hoseok heard a metallic sound and steps that moved away from the phone, so they couldn't be the puppy. The black-haired boy wasn't alone, but it wasn't relevant. Hoseok had the advantage that he knew almost all things one could have found out. Humming in agreement, he said his goodbyes.

Greater good my ass, he thought before hanging up and deciding to wait another few days to make it more valuable because his time wasn't easy to get.

 

***

 

"Where the flying fuck did you find that weirdo?"

Sasha was staring at him with her tiny green eyes and tapped on her forehead, probably to emphasise how little she thought of Hoseok Lee.

"The vegan cafe," Hyungwon replied truthfully and sighed. He still couldn't believe the other man's timing, as if he had planned every single step only to end up on the phone with Hyungwon. It sounded a little too paranoid for his taste, but all their meetings and the sudden message spoke for themselves.

Sasha and him were relaxing in her parents' living room, enjoying some iced drink that she took from the fridge and poured into oversized wine glasses to make fun of her decadent neighbours. Hyungwon didn't really care, he had been too busy fighting his inner demons over calling a number he wasn't meant to have.

At least two hours had passed with him staring at the digits that he had saved into his phone and the small business card that lay on the table next to him. His best friend had given up on him after half an hour, telling him that one could learn from enemies and that he should use everything Hoseok might tell him. It sounded tempting, but the blonde man hadn't given him the number willingly, at least not directly.

Sarah still thinks that he's interested in you and doesn't want to make it obvious.

Hyungwon didn't believe it, not until Hoseok suddenly knew his name, broke up with him through a text message and smoothly pretended not to know him even though the answer was too quick.

It's still too perfectly planned, isn't it?

"He's playing hard to get, one hundred percent. I know guys like him, they feel super skilled and important and want you to come crawling on your knees. He probably wants something, but doesn't want you to know." Sasha grabbed a slice of cucumber and placed it between her lips, munching with her mouth open.

"He was pretty obvious about wanting something before, at least that's what Sarah thinks. She calls him lover boy and winks at me whenever she sees me. It's fucking creepy." Hyungwon shuddered and stared at his phone again. Hoseok had successfully avoided setting up a meeting between them. One might have really thought the blonde man was avoiding him as much as he could.

Maybe he doesn't want to associate with you either, not with other people knowing.

Hyungwon didn't know how much Hoseok Lee knew about him apart from his name and possibly his phone number, but he wasn't on the list of people VABD employees willingly hung out with.

They hate your guts.

"You know what I think about people like him?" Sasha asked, pulling his attention back to her pretty face and messy hair. His best friend was wearing a jumpsuit and looked like a mechanic. "I think that once nature gets angry enough and sends the pigs to avenge themselves, that guy will be one of the first ones to get brain damage from being fucked in the ear by a curly pig dick. That's what I think."

As if she had held a mind-opening speech, his best friend sunk back into the couch and gestured for him to take some veggies. Her picturesque descriptions kept him from following through. It was kind of disgusting.

"I don't know what he wants, I can't tell, but his input helped us get way more signatures and additional participants for the demonstration, so I'm sure it's useful. Maybe he has something else in mind or he's just curious about somebody with a different view, but there is only one way to find out." Sighing, he brushed through his hair and opened the lid of his laptop. There were only two articles about the demonstration and none of them were on any sites with sufficient visibility. It wasn't enough yet and Hyungwon felt like somebody had tied a rope around his ankle and pulled just when he was about to run.

You still have the people that came, but you need the knowledge to reach further, much further than those you can talk to in person.

Hyungwon needed to engage people and Hoseok Lee seemed to be the perfect person to teach him how to do that, regardless of his intentions.

"You're crazy, but go off I guess," Sasha replied and smiled at him, wiggling her own laptop that showed one of their current initiatives in which they presented information about the car industry in a more accessible way. It was perfect for those that were still neutral and only needed a little push with data that showed them the truth.

"That looks really good!" he exclaimed and leaned a little closer, glad that they were moving forward on another front.

"Of course, that's because I'm not busy having some guy stalk me at my workplace." It was obviously a joke, but the glint in Sasha's gaze told him that she considered him too occupied with the blonde man.

"Don't worry, I'll just get some info and be done with it."

Hyungwon really hoped there wasn't going to be more to it.

 

_

 

"Where's lover boy?" Sarah asked next to him just as he tightened his apron around his waist. His boss was very particular about the time ten to eight because that was when Hoseok had popped by before.

"I don't think he's coming anymore," he replied and sighed out loud, fingers checking the lids on a few of the bean containers even though it wasn't necessary.

"But why would he give up so quickly? He even dropped his business card to have you call him. That boy is definitely not giving up yet." Sarah shook her head to support her words and gestured towards Hyungwon's face. "He likes your curls just like almost every customer that walks through this door."

Hyungwon nodded briefly to show that he was listening but decided not to reply to that. He doubted that Hoseok was particularly interested in his curls, even if he gave him a nickname because of them.

He sounds like he considers you a child.

Well, one didn't need to be a genius to tell that the blonde man was older than him, but Hyungwon decided to see that in a positive light. Therefore there was more to learn.

The clock ticked past eight and Hyungwon gave up all his hopes. It felt like it was easier to read Hoseok when they stood right in front of each other, but like this he would have to wait for the older man's call.

Just focus on your projects and stop wasting brain power on this.

He was so occupied with cleaning the machine that the somewhat familiar low voice ordering a coffee for takeaway caught him by surprise.

"I hope you had a nice weekend," the blonde man said, placing his cup on the counter and smiling while keeping his gaze intense and focused on his face.

Hyungwon turned around much quicker than he should have, eyes widening in surprise until he caught himself and smiled. He was glad to see the blonde man, it made their meeting arrangements much easier.

But you shouldn't ask about it.

"Busy, how about yours? Do you also work on weekends?" he asked and ground the beans for the blonde man's coffee. They were a slightly different roast, but Hyungwon decided that they might be even more to the older man's taste.

"Well, business value would be higher, but I’m working on a different kind of project at the moment, so I do work on weekends even though I usually refrain from it." A playful smile appeared on the other man's lips as he leaned against the counter, placing his wallet next to him. It was a different one this time.

Does he switch his wallets like underwear?

For somebody who didn't care about money, Hoseok Lee surely had a lot of it. Hyungwon wasn't surprised, after all, those who don't know what it means to starve don't see the value in being able to afford living.

"Is the project going well?" he asked and pressed the button for the coffee to fill up the reusable cup. Turning back to the blonde man, he smiled brightly and removed a few curls from his forehead. "I'm experimenting with your coffee today. Please tell me if you like it more or less."

"Oh, I will. My project?" Glancing up at him, Hoseok Lee tilted his head and observed him like a mango in a supermarket, before nodding in satisfaction. "It's okay, but I need to invest more, I guess."

"Must have a lot to invest then." Hyungwon turned to the coffee and added the spices the way he always did. Hoseok's gaze made him feel uncomfortable, especially with the suggestive gaze that Sarah threw his way. There was no way that Hoseok had that kind of interest in him, it was all kinds of wrong and wouldn't explain his actions at all. It didn't matter what Sarah thought, that wasn't it. Never.

"Yeah, the target is greedy. But I'm not complaining. Can't wait to taste your creation," the blonde man commented and placed a twenty euro bill on the counter.

Hyungwon purposefully grabbed the money and exchanged it in the cash register to give the blonde man his change back before he could run away.

"Target sounds like you're a hitman," he muttered and lifted an eyebrow before placing the reusable cup in front of Hoseok's face. "Go ahead then, give me your review."

Only now Hyungwon realized that Hoseok had begun to speak English to him, as if he realized that it was easier for him.

So much for getting practice in order to improve.

"A hitman?" the blonde man asked with a grin before lifting the cup to his lips and tasting the coffee, humming lowly and licking over his lips right after. "Not really, I don't kill anyone, I'm more like a boa, I guess." Winking at him, Hoseok Lee fixed the lid on his cup before leaning in and mouthing 'delicious' right in his face.

Hyungwon's lips pulled together into a thin line as he almost instinctively stepped back from the counter. He was grateful for the compliment about his coffee, he really was, but the way the blonde man whispered the word 'delicious' and the look in his eyes triggered his fight or flight response. Fighting was definitely not an option at his workplace.

He sucked in a few deep gulps of air through his teeth and moved closer again, smile plastered on his plump lips.

"A boa you say," he muttered, disbelieving that the blonde man dared to mention it again.

He must look up to the person behind the title, it's the same company.

"Do you want me to keep making the coffee this way or work towards perfection?" he asked to change the topic and fumbled with his apron. He still couldn't forget the look on Hoseok's face, it made him want to run as fast as his legs allowed him to.

"Don't bother. You can call me when you’ve calmed down, puppy." The blonde man lifted an eyebrow and left, sipping on his coffee on the way past the glass walls.

He always disappears as if the world is his stage.

"You'll have to work on the reactions to innuendos, you look like a frightened puppy." Sarah shook her head in mock disappointment and gestured towards the milk foamer that needed to be cleaned.

Staring at the expression on his boss's face, Hyungwon considered cleaning the foamer without another word, but then the groundless assumptions were never going to stop.

"I have no interest in innuendos and I have even less interest in whatever it is that you are assuming. He is working in an area that I find fascinating and that's it, understood?" It was rough considering he was talking to his boss, but he couldn't help it. Sarah's assumptions made him furious.

"Wow, someone's getting defensive. I don't know what you're interested in, but the blonde one is definitely interested in you," the older woman remarked and turned away, as if she decided that the conversation was over.

"I'm not like that, it's weird," he muttered and grabbed the rug to wipe over the milkfoamer, letting out his frustration that way.

"Oh, is it now?" Sarah didn't say anything else, but Hyungwon didn't like the amusement on her face.

It doesn't matter as long as she stops assuming things.

"I'll clean the tables," he muttered and regretted his outburst a little, focusing on the work at hand. For some reason people had moved away from assuming the default, namely basic friendly relationships between men and it drove Hyungwon up the wall.

She should worry about climate change instead of your sexuality.

Definitely.

 

Chapter Text

 

His reaction was a little extreme, wasn't it?

Puppy was afraid of him, but Hoseok didn't expect anything else, so he focused on the task at hand. Reading over the information that he and his agents gathered, Hoseok tried to make sense of the boy being stateless and having refugee status. The question regarding his country of birth had made the puppy uncomfortable, so he tried to figure it out without asking outright. It was hard even though he had a lot of contacts. The information was very complicated and not what he expected.

A stateless refugee, huh? He can speak German pretty well though.

Not only did the black-haired boy speak almost perfect German, he also bothered to be active in so many different groups, even leading one of the biggest countrywide protests.

That's why you have to make sure he trusts you. You don't really know what to expect.

Sighing, Hoseok wrote a text with his current address and a time, after double checking Hyungwon's number and locking his phone with a password.

An intensive look revealed that the apartment was still fully furnished and had everything he needed to pretend that he actually lived here. He didn't, but he gave his best, putting some trash into the white trashcan and spreading a few old documents on the table for effect. Grinning brightly, he wrinkled the sheets on purpose as he tested out the bed. It needed to be perfect for the curly-haired man.

Not the bed.

Right. But it needed to look as if someone slept there. Did he need to go that far for an eighteen-year-old who wanted to know about marketing? No, but he needed the puppy to trust him so much that he revealed something that could be fatal. Hoseok was willing to invest the time until Hyungwon let him wrap around his throat.

You'll be gentle.

Smirking to himself, Hoseok looked into the wardrobe and chose a tight black shirt and blue jeans, leaving his expensive clothes on the top shelf. A glance at his Rolex revealed that it was almost time, if Hyungwon really decided to come. The chance was fifty-fifty.

The reply arrived a few moments later as his phone vibrated in his pocket. 'Give me half an hour,' was all the message said.

It's enough time to get comfortable.

Hoseok walked through the narrow hallway until he arrived at the living room. The apartment was almost as big as the living room at his actual apartment, so it felt weird to cross the distance in such a short time. Glancing at the shelf that was filled with all kinds of books, Hoseok picked Dostoyevsky’s 'Idiot' before returning to the bedroom. He was thankful for the thirty minutes he could spend reading. There was too little time during the day and he usually ended up falling asleep when he grabbed a book at midnight.

Just don't fall asleep now.

He didn't. Instead he worked himself through the novel, hungrily reading page after page, seeing how the protagonist tried his best to help the people out of their despair, failing and being pushed back into social isolation. Sighing, he turned a page as the bell finally rang, pulling him out of the plot.

Puppy came.

Hoseok jumped up, leaving the book on the bed and fixed the fit of his clothes. After checking himself out in the mirror, he finally opened the door, buzzing Hyungwon though in the process.

The black-haired boy had chosen the stairs, slowly appearing at the bottom of the last staircase with his curls framing his small face and covering his forehead. The puppy looked just as run down as he had at the demonstration, an oversized grey t-shirt that might have been white before and loose faded jeans. A denim jacket completed the 'teenager from the 90s' look.

"Hi, I hope I won't be stealing too much of your sleep," Hyungwon remarked and glanced at the screen of his phone to check the time. The boy seemed more careful than he had been before, observing him intently and checking out the entryway before finally stepping through the door frame.

"It's okay. I thought my apartment would be the most convenient because there is barely anything open at this time." Hoseok left the door open and walked through to the small living room. "Can I offer you anything to drink?"

"Every other place would also cost money." Hyungwon smiled and shrugged before pointing at the couch and sitting down as soon as Hoseok nodded. "I'm good with water, thank you."

The boy's big eyes passed over his furniture, the books on his shelves and the abstract art on the walls. He looked interested, taking everything in as if it was going to tell him more about Hoseok.

"I imagined your home to be different," Hyungwon said eventually and spread his legs a little, getting more comfortable.

"You did? I'm glad that I could surprise you. How was your day?" Hoseok filled a glass with mineral water and placed it on the couch table next to the puppy before sitting on the armchair across from him.

"Ehm, fine." Hyungwon obviously hadn't expected Hoseok to be interested in his day. "The usual, our meet up adds more spice to it. But let me get to the point immediately." Long fingers untangled two thick curls and arranged them right above the boy's big eyes. "Let's assume you want to convince people to abandon something they've been doing their whole lives - how would you do it?"

Hoseok thought about it, smiling at puppy's straightforwardness.

"I would use any means possible to make them want the alternative I wish for. It would include a multidimensional approach, multitasking is my forte, beginning on different fronts and working towards one specific thing. The problem is usually the emotional value behind a goal. I usually don't have any, so I definitely have an advantage compared to those who are oh so desperate and obsessed about what they want. People are obsessed with themselves, that's the reason you can't win them over with your own obsession."

"I wouldn't call myself obsessed," Hyungwon remarked and wrapped his right hand around his glass to take a sip. The black-haired boy kept it in his hand as he answered, gaze lifting to observe Hoseok again. "Obsession suggests that there is something irrational to the desire, but I don't think there is. Furthermore, I doubt that not caring about a goal makes it easier to reach. I think there needs to be a healthy amount of enthusiasm and at the same time professional distance. You say that you would use a multidimensional approach, but that doesn't tell me anything. It's like saying 'I would do many different things'. Please be specific."

"You're demanding." Hoseok chuckled and brushed his hair back. He felt some tiredness, but it had to wait until he was home. "You can be obsessive about something that's right. It's how you act about an issue that makes it obsessive, not the amount of truth. But let me ask a question back; what do you want?" It was interesting to observe the tall man, how he wrinkled his forehead while thinking, how he chewed on his cheek and looked up at him, some nervousness visible in his movements.

"Change," Hyungwon finally replied, voice becoming firm towards the end of the word. The black-haired boy looked older with that look on his face. "I want to bring about change that will save more countries from being destroyed and children from losing their homes. I want people to want this change independent of my words."

A visionary, huh? Cute.

"Very exemplary, but way too abstract. Cut it into pieces, what do you get?" Hoseok spread his legs and leaned against the comfortable backrest.

"I mentioned it before, during your lecture. We need to stop producing CO2 emissions, so less meat, no cars and especially no flying. That's just the beginning, but we can't get around it. There isn't enough time to come up with alternatives, people need to understand why they should stop doing what they're doing without having an equal replacement yet. That's my current challenge." Hyungwon took another sip of his water and rubbed his right palm over the armrest of the couch. It looked like he was checking out the fabric, enjoying the way it felt under his fingers.

"You're eighteen, but you might still be familiar with psychology, tell me if you know the things I'm trying to explain to you. People are not able to take negative information well, it's better with positive messages, so telling people that we are all going to die if they don't stop doing this or that isn't the right way. As I mentioned with lung cancer, people even take dying into account only to keep doing what they want and are used to. They won't care about your abstract scenarios. In addition, humans hate it when someone tells them what to do. What did you think would happen after you protest?" Smiling, Hoseok stood up and poured himself a glass of water before returning to his seat.

"The part about negative information makes sense, it's easier to act on clear instructions than if somebody tells you not to do something." The black-haired boy nodded in understanding and chewed on his bottom lip, repeatedly rubbing it over his bottom teeth in thought. It was easy to tell that he cared about the topic, eyes glistening and thighs tensing even though he was sitting. "I expected to have more people be interested in why so many youths are protesting against a single company. I reached that goal, but interest isn’t resulting in behavioral changes yet. I'm successful when I talk to people personally and I do that a lot, but there isn't enough of me to go about doing it that way. Over the Internet we've been successful too, but it's still not on the scale that I need it to be. A few thousand aren't enough."

"Are you… experiencing any obstacles?" Hoseok looked up from under his bangs and took a sip of his water. He hadn't eaten yet and his stomach started sending signs in addition to his phone that kept bothering him, vibrating in the pocket of his jeans.

"I wouldn't call it an obstacle apart from too little media coverage. I'm rather secretive with what I'm doing, but I'm sure you understand with everything that's been happening in the past few weeks." Hyungwon sighed and rested his head on top of the backrest, big eyes fluttering shut. The boy had a smooth jaw and very plump lips that made his features look soft. His eyes were still closed when he continued speaking. "My main concern is that everything is going too slowly. Today there was news of another city being covered by water and it drives me mad. We're not efficient enough."

"We were pretty aware that it would happen ten years ago, so it’s been going on for longer than you think. I keep thinking that you're too emotionally involved for a random 18-year-old student. I know that you don't trust me because I work where I work, but it definitely prevents you from knowing things." He winked and scratched over his collarbone, pulling the shirt down a tiny bit.

The boy's eyes followed his hands but immediately returned to his face as his eyebrows furrowed.

"I think I have every right to be emotionally involved if it concerns my future," Hyungwon replied quietly and his fingers turned white around his glass of water. "How do you know my age?"

"I don't, I guessed, but you didn't say anything, so it seems as if you're really eighteen. Are you suspicious of me?" Hoseok asked, taking the vibrating phone out of his pocket while the sound of the bell gave him a mild heart attack.

Who?

He got up and walked towards the door, trying not to show his surprise and calming himself down sufficiently. There weren't many people who knew about this apartment. He stared at the video, showing his ex-boyfriend staring up at the camera and sighed.

Well, now it's too late. You can open and let him see Puppy. Maybe he'll think you have somebody else and stop bothering you.

Hoseok pressed the button and listened to the steps on the stairs, until the already forgotten face appeared in front of him.

"I said you shouldn't call, so you decided to bother me here instead?" he asked with absolute calmness. "You couldn't have forgotten anything, right?"

"I fucking did, you asshole, you would know if you didn't break up through text and block my number. I was trying to call you from my other number at least a hundred times. I left the ring my grandad gave me on the night table. You really wanted to keep it?" Gabriel looked hurt, angry and all the other things that only made people act like idiots.

You didn't see any ring. Probably because you don't live here.

"No, I don't care about the ring. Take it and leave, I have a visitor." Hoseok simply turned around and walked back to the living room, smiling apologetically. "Sorry for the interruption, he's trying to get back his attachment, he'll be gone in a moment," he said and sat across from Hyungwon again.

The black-haired boy looked shocked, eyes wide as he stared at his face for a few seconds, only to look up towards the entryway.

"I don't think you should be talking like this after hurting somebody," Hyungwon said quietly until something must have suddenly made sense to him and his whole body tensed, face a deadly white. The switch would have been scary to anybody but Hoseok, unfitting to the boy's soft features. "Is this the person your message was meant for?"

"He doesn't own me. Feelings fade and it's fine to move on. Yes, you received my message directed to him." Hoseok heard steps and turned around, locking gazes with the bright blue eyes that jumped from him to Hyungwon.

"Is that why?" Gabriel asked like the complete idiot that he was and pointed at puppy. Why were people so predictable?

"No, but if it makes you sleep at night. Found the ring? Then please leave."

"I'm sorry, but-" Hyungwon suddenly interrupted the next words that Gabriel had planned to speak. The black-haired boy looked like a ghost, thick lips pressed together into a thin line and jaw visibly clenched. He didn't continue but placed the glass on the table in front of him with shaky fingers. Not long after, he stood up and brushed over his faded jeans in a gesture that showed an unusual amount of discomfort.

"This is… too far out of my comfort zone. I'm thankful that you were willing to meet me, but I don't think it will be necessary anymore. Thank you," he finally squeezed out and stumbled towards the entryway past Gabriel. The boy didn't need to put on his shoes as he hadn't even taken them off in the first place, immediately heading for the way out.

It didn't even take a minute for Hyungwon to leave his apartment and emphasize the silence that stretched between him and Gabriel.

"You freaked out the poor guy. Was it really necessary? Now please leave, I'm tired." Hoseok gestured after Hyungwon and picked up both glasses. The boy was terrified which could have happened for two reasons: either it was discomfort about witnessing a private talk or…

He asked whether the message was directed at Gabriel, but they didn't seem to know each other… so… because it's a man?

It was so funny that he started laughing while bringing both glasses to the small kitchen, completely ignoring Gabriel who told him about ruining his life and other absolutely irrelevant details of his coping with the fact that Hoseok lost interest. Puppy being homophobic was the most unexpected and hilarious turn in the whole thing and it definitely gave him more options.

You have to make sure it's the case. Maybe you made a wrong judgement because you're tired and hungry.

Gabriel left and he kept feeling ridiculously excited about the possibility of puppy being a conservative little shit.

 

***

 

His feet worked all on their own, dirty sneakers pounding over the concrete as he put more and more distance between him and the apartment building that he had left in a hurry, running as if his life depended on it.

You were the one who miscalculated. Nobody else.

His heart was hammering in his chest and his ears, legs hurting from the effort of running at full speed for so long. Hyungwon wasn't stupid, he knew that nobody was coming after him, but he wanted to have as much distance between him and those two men as possible.

It's freezing the blood in your veins.

His expectations had been different. Of course he had been careful because of Hoseok Lee's company and profession, but Hyungwon had been convinced that learning more could only be beneficial. Even Sasha had supported the idea as long as he looked after himself and didn't do anything stupid.

There has always been something intimidating about him, now you know what it is.

Hyungwon had disliked the older man's gaze from the beginning since it made him uncomfortable. Even now a shudder travelled down his back at the thought. Hoseok Lee knew too much about him, his name, his number, his age. There were too many serendipitous situations for them to be all by chance.

Even with all his suspicions Hyungwon had been ready to stay and learn, to benefit from the older man's experience and knowledge if only it meant that he could be faster with reaching his goals. There was no time to waste.

But you can't do it like this.

Breathing heavily, he stopped just for long enough to fall to his bony knees, gasping at the pain that passed through his limbs. He didn't really care where he was as long as he was far away, as far away as possible. A couple of men threw him suspicious glances, probably convinced that he was drugged out of his mind. He felt drugged, dizzy with anxiety that rushed through his system.

He scraped his right palm a little, but it wasn't bad enough to keep him from thinking or getting home. He stared at it for a bit before sighing and removing his black hair from his face.

Calm down, only then you can go home.

It didn't matter what Hoseok could have possibly told him or what knowledge he could acquire from talking to the blonde man. Hyungwon couldn't do it when he was like this.

You're too scared.

There weren't many things that he wasn't able to deal with. Of course some situations have given him a hard time, prejudice about his background, assumptions because of his clothes and influential people with destructive views. Hyungwon could deal with all of these, fight them with his fists or his words if necessary. But if a man was able to want another man, then he couldn't bear being next to him.

It's strange and unnatural, it scares you.

Hyungwon wasn't going to fight it or force the blonde man to change his ways. It wasn't up to him, but he had the right to stay away from him, to keep his distance and make sure that it wasn't something he had to witness. He couldn't anyway, not since then.

Scrambling to his feet, he shrugged off the dust and dirt from his knees and stumbled across the street. His legs hurt from all that running, but he felt calmer now that he was far away.

Stay away from him and do what you've been doing. You'll find other ways to reach your goals.

Nothing has been able to stop him yet, so he'd find an alternative in due time. A smile returned to his lips and it must have been enough to diffuse the interest of the people around him, still wandering the city of Frankfurt in the middle of the night. His fingers were shaking a little when he reached the big courtyard of the gigantic white house at the edge of the city. It looked peaceful and empty, dead one might say with not a single window remaining lit.

They must be asleep.

Hyungwon smiled to himself, glad that they didn't wait up for him this time. It was better when they learned to go to bed without him around, relaxing without his presence. Observing the familiar window that remained dark, he made his way into the building, into his current home.

Hyungwon hoped it would stay his home for longer this time.

_

 

The clock showed ten to eight, but Hyungwon didn't even dare to look at it for longer than a split second. There was no reason for Hoseok Lee to appear at the cafe, not after Hyungwon had told him that he was thankful but didn't require any more assistance. He had run away like a panicked chicken, but he stood by it and the conclusions he had drawn from it. His anxiety had taken over and he wasn't willing to deal with it any more.

"You're unusually tense," Sarah remarked when Hyungwon used a wet rag to clean over the tables a second time even though no customer had used them yet.

"I want to occupy my hands with something." Glancing at the clock once more, he considered going to the back to sort through beans and avoid all possible customers. Unfortunately he wasn't fast enough as blonde hair appeared in his periphery and his whole body froze in place, long fingers dropping the cup he was holding.

Shit, don't break things.

He hoped that Sarah would take that one and immediately occupied himself with the broken shards that he collected in a tissue before vacuuming the rest with a small hand-held vacuum cleaner.

"Hello Hyungwon, did you sleep well?" Hoseok commented, before sitting down at the table right next to the counter.

He's not going to buy it for takeaway today.

Hyungwon cursed mentally and pretended to be extremely occupied with cleaning up, grabbing a wet tissue and rubbing it over the wooden floors. Sarah released a sound of surprise, probably because Hoseok's comment hinted at them meeting.

"He's a little grumpy today," his boss replied for him when the silence stretched for too long and laughed cheerfully. Hyungwon bit down on his cheek and focused on the uncomfortable feeling to keep his wits as he stood up and began to prepare some beans. It was easier to ignore somebody when he wasn't supposed to serve them coffee.

"Yeah it was pretty late and I guess he's not used to sleeping so little," the blonde man replied to his boss and waited at his table with his arms crossed and glancing at him. "I thought I'd come by to make sure you're not upset."

"I'm fine," Hyungwon replied quickly to make sure Sarah couldn't say anything else and poured black coffee into a cup. He wanted to disappear somewhere and not have to deal with the heat in his cheeks and the hammering in his ears. He refrained from saying anything else, worried that the blonde man would have heard how dry his mouth was from the growing anxiety.

"I can't believe the boy finally gave in! He kept telling me he's not interested," his boss commented with a laugh and mixed a smoothie for a college student that just walked through the door. Hyungwon wanted to drop everything and leave, but he wouldn't be able to survive without the money.

And nobody would give you another job.

"Interested?" Hoseok Lee stared for a few moments before laughing cheerfully. "No no, we were just discussing politics, but sorry that you had to witness my ex-boyfriend being a hurt mess, that wasn't planned. I wanted to apologize, you must've been uncomfortable."

"It's fine," Hyungwon forced out and sprinkled the spices on top. He hoped that Hoseok was going to leave as soon as the coffee disappeared down his throat. Arranging the cup on a pretty plate, he swallowed and made his way over to the table. It was difficult to hide the shiver in his hands and his ragged breaths didn't make it any better. Hyungwon was fucking terrified and he had no way of running away without ruining his life.

"You don't look fine though," Hoseok whispered to him and reached for the cup, taking it from him while brushing over his fingers.

It felt like lightning had hit him right on, burning it's way along every vertebrate on his spine and he gasped for air that he held in his lungs to keep himself from hyperventilating.

"I must have been too cold on my way home," he muttered and put more distance between himself and the table, hands a deadly white color. "Please enjoy the coffee."

Turning around, he hurried behind the counter and began cleaning the already cleaned milk foam machine. A little more of this and he was going to either run to the backroom without a single thought or faint.

Hoseok chuckled but continued drinking his coffee for a few more minutes. The blonde hair appeared at the counter right when he was about to sort the bills and the other man's pale hand placed a ten euro bill on the counter, face coming closer.

"Why are you so terrified? I'm not a boa wrapping around your throat, or am I?"

He's worse than the boa.

"I'm not- feeling too well," he forced out and held his breath, hands barely holding on to the bill and the change that he had to pick out. He couldn't do this, he couldn't bear dealing with the blonde man while knowing about his preferences.

It would have been better if you never knew.

It had been so easy before Hyungwon knew. He could have kept meeting the blonde man and learned everything he needed to know, but here he was suffocating simply because the older man was only a breath away from him. A glance around revealed that Sarah had gone to the backroom and no other customers were present. It was only the two of them.

Don't fucking faint.

"You are definitely pale and your hands are shaking. Do you want to sit down?" Hoseok leaned even closer, dark, round eyes examining his face closely.

The black circle that devoured the edges of Hyungwon's vision started slowly, giving him about a second to stutter something incomprehensible before everything turned black.

 

***

During all the many projects he had worked on over the past view years, he never had to take care of a fainting teenager.

You're learning new things.

He had only wanted to make sure that his first impression was an accurate one, but it turned out to be way worse than he thought. As soon as he saw the puppy slip down while muttering some incomprehensible bullshit, he managed to catch him and pull him over the counter.

Thank god he didn't pee himself or something similarly annoying.

Placing the weightless body on the floor, he pulled a chair next to them and put the long legs on top of it. The other man's face could've been a wall, pale and without any hint of working blood circulation, so he felt the pulse at the boy's neck, making sure that he was alive and started slapping the puffy cheeks.

"Hey, puppy, wake up," he said, leaning closer and opening one of the boy's eyes. "Hey, Hyungwon, don't faint, you're at work," he hissed and slapped the boy's cheek again, this time harder.

You haven't called an ambulance yet. It would also be a first time. But he's working here illegally, so it might create problems.

A jerk passed through the boy's long limbs and his eyes opened wide, only to close again and return the limpness of Hyungwon's slim but long body. The black-haired boy couldn't be fully conscious yet, for that his eyes weren't open for long enough.

Maybe you need to hold his legs higher?

Hoseok kneeled down and threw the long legs over his shoulder while pulling at puppy's arm and calling his name repeatedly. God, he only wanted a coffee and a confirmation that the boy was a conservative little shit, nothing more, nothing less. He wasn't a medical professional and had no idea besides holding his legs up and returning the blood to the brain.

"Oh god, what the hell is going on?" Hyungwon's colleague muttered when she returned from wherever it was that she disappeared to. Luckily, the boy began to show a few more signs that he was alive, breathing in deeply and curling his fingers as he attempted to recover.

A few patrons that considered buying a coffee quickly changed their mind as soon as their eyes fell on Hoseok on the ground with an unconscious employee.

"I wish I knew. This surely isn't part of my job description," Hoseok murmured truthfully. "He lost consciousness, probably didn't eat." He pointed at one of Hyungwon's stick arms to support his theory. "You can take over if you like." Puppy's thick lips moved and he slapped his cheek once again.

"Take responsibility, he was fine before you walked in," the blonde woman pointed out and pursed her lips. She seemed dissatisfied with something that he’d done, but it was difficult to tell what it was. "Let me get some water from the back."

"Stop- stop hitting me, you jerk," the boy muttered and caught Hoseok's wrist with his long fingers. Only then his big eyes opened and met Hoseok's, furiously attempting to assess the situation. "Why am I on the floor and why… are my legs-"

Again the black-haired boy looked deadly pale and quickly switched his gaze to the ceiling as if he was aware of his predicament.

"You fainted and I pulled you over the counter and put your legs on the chair but it didn't help, so I put them higher. The hitting helped though, should I slap you again? You look as if you're about to leave us mortals." Hoseok glanced in the direction the woman disappeared to. "Your colleague went to get water."

"It might be the most helpful if you leave me," Hyungwon muttered and covered his eyes with his big palm. "Just let go of me and stop bothering. I'll be fine, great even. Simply continue doing what you've always been doing."

"You're not telling me that you lost consciousness because of me, right? I literally just paid for my coffee. You were so happy about me coming, what changed?" Hoseok glanced at the white fingers holding onto his wrist and sighed in annoyance. "Also a bit of helpful advice, it's a very hypocritical thing to hold onto someone's wrist and telling them to leave. This is not how you do it, puppy."

The black-haired boy's eyes widened and he let go of his wrist as if burned. Wiggling  his legs, he struggled to sit up and shook his head.

"It has nothing to do with you, I'm just not feeling well. But I'm fine now, you can go to work." Shifting some more, Hyungwon must have suddenly realized something as he turned quickly and stared at him in disbelief. "This cafe is nowhere close to either your workplace or your apartment. Why do you come here?"

The fainting must've freed some brain cells.

"Uhm, because of the coffee?" Hoseok grinned and got up, brushing the dirt from his suit pants. "You can keep the change." Taking his laptop bag from one of the chairs, he glanced at the terrified puppy on the floor, making sure he was conscious, before leaving through the glass door.

He's fucking terrified of you, but he needs to trust. You have to think about how to integrate this variable into the rest.

_

 

“What’s the matter?” his sister said, sitting down on his desk. Hoseok didn’t hear her coming, too busy thinking about the puppy. The whole thing was so complicated because he wouldn’t have disclosed his sexuality had he known that Hyungwon was so shocked about it.

Homophobic fool.

The boy was, but it wasn’t the point. The point was that Hoseok needed his trust.

“I’m having a little trouble with the project, it’s more complicated than I thought. Every time I think that I’ve solved one variable, I start seeing a new one that rearranges the whole structure and makes me start anew. It’s… bothersome.” He sighed and looked up at his beautiful sister, smiling brightly. She got sad quickly when he showed discomfort with anything. “How about you? You look dissatisfied. Is there something I can help you with?”

“But can’t you ask the boa? He will probably solve it in a second and you will have your preferred outcome. I wish I knew him, then I could ask him too, instead of asking you. I need to organize the ‘Day for Future’ and I have gotten every speaker, but I don’t have any for the environmental sustainability. That’s so stupid, because the person would be able to make an impact, it’s all over the media and we don’t even do much censoring! It’s an amazing opportunity, but I guess I suck.” Hannah sighed, trying to mess up her long hair. Hoseok stared for a few seconds, letting the words sink in and thinking intently.

You wish you could ask the boa too. Damn it.

“I’ll try to get you someone, how long do you need him? Is it okay if it’s a guy? What exactly do you need? Is it okay if he’ll do the activism stuff? Like, ‘no cars’ and ‘we are all going to die’? Because he might.” Hoseok chuckled, thinking about what the ‘Day for Future’ is usually like and how incredible it would be if puppy could grab his tiny balls and come. Not that Hoseok knew anything about his balls, but he assumed homophobes had tiny dicks and shrunken balls.

“No! I really need someone like that , but most of them don’t want to talk because we're an automotive company and they don’t understand what kind of publicity it is for them. And of course for us, but more for them because the boa prevents them from having any media coverage.” Hannah smiled brightly and wrapped her thin arms around him, squeezing him like a doll. It was okay, she was allowed to.

“I’ll give my best. I’m not the boa, but I’m pretty skillful too.” Hoseok winked and packed his laptop, deciding to visit a cafe at the other end of the city.

“You are the best, Hoseok. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have you.”

“You’d be fine, beautiful, successful and happy, like now,” he whispered and placed a kiss on Hannah's cheek, stroking over her long, black hair and leaving his office to catch the puppy before he finished work.

Just hope that he won’t faint again. So annoying.

He tried his best to be on time and parked his car only a few meters away from the cafe because he didn’t have any time left with the traffic he was stuck in for almost forty minutes, but it was still twenty minutes before Hyungwon was supposed to finish his shift. Walking into the cafe, he immediately spotted the black-haired boy who was alone, probably because his colleague only worked in the mornings. It made sense, there were more customers before work.

Funny, considering that there is only one person registered at the cafe, a female named Sasha, but he looks nothing like a girl.

“Hi, puppy,” he commented and walked straight to his favorite stalker table, throwing his bag on the seat and sinking into the uncomfortable chair. The chairs were the worst.

Hoseok was pretty sure that if Hyungwon had been holding something he would have dropped it like last time. Luckily the black-haired boy was occupied with cleaning the coffee machine, probably to finish up for the evening and only froze in place, big brown eyes focused on him.

"You-" Puppy looked to the clock as if he needed to make sure it wasn't early morning. "This isn't your usual time."

“It isn’t. I came after work. Just please don’t faint, it’s really not my forte and definitely not part of my job description. I see I won’t get a coffee. Sad.” He pouted because he was in a good mood and opened his notebook, noting down what he needed to do.

The boy examined him for a few long moments, face already paler than it had been when he entered but luckily he remained conscious.

"I can still make you one. I was too fast with cleaning, convinced that nobody else was going to come." Grabbing the container with the beans, Hyungwon put them into the grinder and expertly avoided looking at him. "How come you are here? For the coffee again?"

You never came for the coffee.

“No. This time I came for you.” Smiling into the notebook while he wrote down his strategy for convincing puppy that talking at the Day for Future was an amazing idea, Hoseok lifted his gaze to look at Hyungwon because the sounds suddenly stopped.

The boy looked like a sheet of paper, the non-recycled chlorine-bleached type.

"Why?" he asked carefully and placed the grinder next to the coffee machine, not bothering to continue working on a coffee Hoseok hadn't ordered.

“I’m in a good mood, so you can guess.” This time he paid attention to his gaze, keeping it on the tall boy and observing his features intently to see his reaction in detail. “Why do you think I came for you today?”

Hyungwon's face remained pale as he clenched his jaw, knuckles turning white as well from the force with which he held onto the counter. Only his ears showed a hint of color, turning a little pink at the tips.

"I'd rather not," puppy replied and ripped his gaze away, big eyes focusing on a rag with which the boy cleaned the surfaces. The poor boy was terrified, it was obvious.

“No need to faint, puppy. I have a very good deal for you. The problem is only your judgment and naivety, so I need to invest time to explain to you why you should totally take this opportunity. That’s the only reason I came. Unconscious people make me uncomfortable because they remind me of all the brainless humans around me, so I definitely wouldn’t have come if I didn’t have something I needed to tell you.” Hoseok got up and walked towards the counter slowly. It started getting dark and the lights in the cafe started painting everything in a yellowish tone, giving Hyungwon’s golden skin a glow up. “I also have something to say that will make you sad, but I’m willing to make it better afterwards.”

You sound creepy, Hoseok.

The black-haired boy froze in place as soon as Hoseok stepped closer, observing him intently with a clenched jaw and tensed muscles. Hoseok couldn't remember the last time somebody was so obviously afraid of him without having a reason to be. Hyungwon inhaled sharply and held the air in his lungs, eyes the size of sauce pans.

"Every time that you came here...it was for me, wasn't it?" the puppy whispered, voice low and echoing through the empty cafe. There was barely anyone outside in this quarter of Frankfurt, not even the traffic noise interrupted them.

Puppy doesn’t get the point.

“Listen, baby, I really admire your self-esteem and that’s important, especially in your line of work, but no. My colleague told me to check out this cafe. I guess he did that because he fancies your colleague, however,. I only wanted the coffee because I have particular tastes. Now, today, I did come for you. Does it make you uncomfortable? Why? You literally came to my house on your own two feet and sat on my couch talking about change. Sorry for my ex, he was admittedly annoying, but I unfortunately couldn’t prevent it because I blocked his number and didn’t see all his calls. Again, sorry about that.” Hoseok propped both arms against the counter and tilted his head.

"I would come again and discuss change if I didn't know," Hyungwon replied and brushed the curls from his eyes, visibly unhappy with the topic. "But I know, so can you get to the point? What do you want from me?"

“If you didn’t know what? That I have an ex-boyfriend? Are you interested in me? You aren’t, right? Because you should do other things if you want me to notice you. Definitely not faint and look terrified.” Hoseok lifted an eyebrow and stared, waiting for a reaction. He needed to break at least some of the anxiety Hyungwon displayed towards him.

"What?" The boy's eyebrows lifted in shock that transformed into anger. His voice was loud enough to echo through the cafe. "Why would I be interested in you? I told you last time to leave and stay away from me, but you reply by coming back and saying that it's because of me. What the fuck?"

Definitely shriveled up balls.

“I'll spare you the reasoning why you would be interested in me. Fact is, even if you are interested, I am very sorry, but you’re a giant baby and not my type at all. Your activism and the wish for change, on the other hand, that’s something I can work with and have something to suggest to you. I only need you to listen without fainting or looking as if I’m a fat boa wrapping around your neck. Can you do that?” Hoseok stepped back and closed his eyes, massaging his temples for effect.

"Stop insulting me and I will," the black-haired boy replied and sucked his thick lips into his big mouth. "What is your suggestion?"

At least he didn’t faint. Also, he is definitely a giant baby, what insult?

He turned around and went back to his spot, noting in his notebook that puppy was butt hurt about being called a baby.

“Do you want the sad news first?”

"Fine." Hyungwon removed his apron and threw it on the counter before walking around it and observing him intently, one hand resting at his narrow waist. As soon as their conversation moved towards activism the boy seemed to be able to keep his composure. Well, and with more distance. It did annoy him a little because homophobe assholes were the worst.

“Do you know about the boa?” he asked after getting the amazing idea to start with some  information first to gain trust.

"Heard of it. A piece of garbage human or more with unnerving loyalty to a company that treats people like shit and ruins the planet." Hyungwon didn't need a second to reply, as if the name was already on the tip of his tongue. "Why?"

Fuck you too.

“So the boa might have killed your petition. I heard about it at the company today, so unfortunately for you, this huge thing won’t go through. You’ll hear about it tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow. As I made you faint today, I thought I might as well make you sad too. I understand how much time it took to collect all those thousands of signatures, but he has far reaching contacts in the government. I'm pretty sure that it won’t go through.” Hoseok looked at his notes and crossing off the point with the info in black ink.

"You're lying," the low voice whispered in reply, giving out even though the boy's face didn't betray it yet. Hoseok could tell that Hyungwon didn't believe his own words. "That's not democratic, they- they can't deny something with the majority of the population of a whole city. It- it was a project that had been planned before with a vote, nobody could have destroyed it just like that unless it was unconstitutional. That's-"

Just hope that he doesn't cry.

The black-haired boy stopped talking and shut his mouth, jaw clenched and eyes wet even though his features didn't betray the hurt yet.

He’s emotional about this. You knew from the start that it’s his major weakness.

“I’m sorry but I am sure.”

"You're not," Hyungwon replied immediately. "You're not sorry, not a single bit. If you were, you wouldn't stare at me with that face while crossing out elements on your list like a fucking recipe."

Why don’t you pay attention, Hoseok?

He exhaled, throwing his notebook into his bag and crossing his arms, gaze intense.

“I am not sorry because it’s not my project, but I know that it is what it is and it’s confidential information. However, I had a tiny moment when I did think of you, namely when the head of PR told me to get someone to give a forty five minute talk about climate change and environmental sustainability. That’s the only reason I’m here because I know that you would’ve found out in a few days anyway, nobody wants to bother telling others the sad news, don’t you think? I want you to talk at the Day for Future.”

"Now tell me, at which point of thinking all this did you decide that it's a good idea to come to me with your stupid bullet point list, show me how fucking helpless I am just to feel superior by being able to give me an offer that your company will turn into dust by influencing media opinion right after? Why would I, Hoseok?" Hyungwon inhaled sharply and stepped closer for the first time since Hoseok got to the cafe. "Why the fuck would I speak at an event of a company that is going to step on me as soon as I leave the fancy glass doors?"

He expected the resistance, but the helplessness and bitterness wasn’t something he  imagined being confronted with because he never tried to make a person like Hyungwon trust him.

This time, he decided to go with more truth than usual.

“Yes. They will not give a single fuck about you, just like you don’t give a fuck about them. You should speak there because there will be every major media outlet you can even imagine and they won't censor. You would only be cut off if you start attacking the directors or employees. I personally made sure with the head of PR that you are allowed to speak about whatever you like. I could take some dude in linen pants who will give me a lecture on sustainable engineering, but I’m giving you this opportunity because I know that your petition failed and that you’ll never ever get the media coverage you want as long as the boa has his fingers in this.” Hoseok felt his heart start beating faster because he got angry at puppy’s stubborn antics. He would have loved to just tell the homophobic little shit to fuck off and go back to fucking companies over, it was much easier than trying to fuck over a dumb teenager.

Suddenly the boy laughed, sound bitter as he licked his lips and met Hoseok's gaze again.

"Smooth, fucking smooth, Hoseok. Stop pretending that you are doing this for me. Do you think I don't know that you weren't able to get anybody who's credible to present? Who do you think put shitloads of effort into making sure that planet-wrecker of a company doesn't get anybody who pulls their image out of that sustainability shithole they got themselves into? Every word that I say there will be used to speak about transparency even though your company has been lying about their emissions for decades. For decades, Hoseok. Maybe some of those people that are dead now wouldn't be fucking dead yet, fuck." Sucking the air through his pursed lips, Hyungwon attempted to calm himself down, hands trembling. "I hope this isn't why the boa killed the petition, just to kill another bunch of innocent people that don't even know what fucking emissions are."

Something about the boy’s irrelevant monologue grabbed him and didn’t let him go. Hoseok didn’t pay attention to puppy’s face anymore, thinking about what it was that made him want to leave the boy in his stupid cafe and concentrate on something else.

He said you weren’t able to get anybody else. That fool.

“You think I won’t be able to find anyone else? You want to see how I find someone who’ll be all over the media talking about the same things you do while praising the company as a cherry on top? I guess they will also be happy to meet all the ministers who will come and make some contacts. I don’t need you puppy, you don’t realize the level of fool you are.” 

"I never thought that you needed me, not even once. I only know that not a single activist was willing to go to your event, simply because it feels like condemning everything that we believe in. You might convince the common people, but not the ones that are already doubting you. Unless you allow for criticism, you won't be able to convince anybody. Will your company improve if criticism is given? What can I hope for?" Puppy brushed through his curls again and suddenly slipped down the counter to the floor, long legs bent at the knee and head tilted back. “If not even my petition goes through, how can a single talk in front of ministers give me opportunities? Aren't they there because they support the company?"

He makes you angry. This is bad. Really bad.

“You are sitting in a pile of shit without realizing it. The boa has people among activists too and is able to do so many things you’re not aware of because you’re cute and emotionally involved. I will find someone in a matter of minutes, they will be from the activism circle, able to talk about their issues with media coverage and get the attention for the things they want. That’s precisely the reason why you are a naive idiot, Hyungwon. Instead of trying to make me angry, you should’ve taken the message I gave you at the lecture. The ministers are not the ones you want to listen your talk. It’s the people all over the country, you fool. But please feel free to sit here and hate on me and on the company while feeling helpless while I’ll go back to work and get someone who doesn’t faint and gives me some profit.” Hoseok got up and took his bag, glancing one last time at the figure on the floor. “I should’ve at least gotten a coffee, this was a complete waste of time.”

"Wait," Hyungwon whispered and jumped up, followed by a slightly louder call of his name.

“No,” he replied and left through the glass door, feeling his blood boil for the first time in years.

Maybe the emotional component is the only thing you’re not good at?

Being bad at something? There was no such thing.

Chapter Text

Drops fell onto the wet sand under his naked feet, not changing the greyish yellow into a darker hue anymore. It wasn't possible with how soaked the ground already was, puddles developing in between bigger heaps that children had created the day before. His sneakers stood at the side, already filled to the brim and no help to fight off the water.

The playground wasn't a place for him, but now, around midnight, it was the most quiet place he could go and be sad without having to deal with confrontations. His family was sad enough on their own, they didn't need him to look devastated too. Of course he could have gone to Sasha, but he didn't know if her parents were home. His best friend's family considered him a bad influence and a danger to their daughter's future.

Without the petition there is nothing in your hands.

It was a dark thought, one that he didn't allow himself to think usually. There were always other things to achieve and work on, other demonstrations to participate in and other citizens to convince. There was still so much he could do, but the mere knowledge that something that he had been so convinced of, spent months creating and that might have helped them to reduce the emissions of coal-burning power plants in the near future, felt like a stab to his chest. It was like a written confirmation that the people in power didn't care, didn't give a single shit what kind of world their children would have to live in.

If they will live in this world at all.

But what Hyungwon understood the least were the boa's motivations, the fact that a person could be so loyal to a company that they accepted all consequences. There was nothing personal that the boa could gain from influencing the revision of the petition, nothing apart from spite. The wind turbines weren't related to the company and an independent project. There was no reason for the boa to get involved, but still it did, only to hurt him.

It's somebody who hurts others and the planet because of petty power games.

Hyungwon didn't care about power and he had no interest in influence either. If he could be sure that politics would act according to scientific recommendation all on their own, there wouldn't be a need for him to break his neck to fight climate change.

Maybe your home would still be there if people cared in the first place.

The thought hurt, so he swallowed it down, focusing on the drop that fell on his hair and ran down his neck. His hips were slim, so he still fit into the seat of the swing, only his legs were too long. If only changing things was as easy as pushing himself forward on a swing, controlling the start and then being able to ride the momentum.

Maybe that's what you need. You need to have the right force behind your back first, pushing you once before you are able to ride the momentum.

Hyungwon still thought that the blonde man had planned on using him, taking his appeal and the fact that people followed him to improve the image of the company. If the reduced censorship was really true, he would still have the possibility of pointing out different changes, different activities, possibly even another petition. It was an opportunity, even if it was offered by the enemy.

It was, it's not yours anymore.

Now that he’d calmed down and the hurt remained as a buzzing in his chest, he regretted turning down the blonde man, rejecting the offer. Independent of how he felt about the person Hoseok, whether he was terrified of him or not. If there was a chance to change something, then he should have taken it.

You were even ready to talk to the enemy to improve, but not talk at their event?

Hyungwon kicked a heap of wet sand, watching it fly in different directions.

Hoseok said that you are sitting on a heap of shit, unaware of people willing to betray you.

Hyungwon didn't mind the thought much, the fact that some activists didn't see eye to eye with him. In his opinion, they didn't have to. The most important thing was that all of them fought for positive changes for the planet, whether it involved protesting against the car industry or not.

If the petition fell through and he didn't even have a chance to address it anywhere, calling out politicians and the current developments, it was really a lost fight. He couldn't lose, not if so much depended on it.

You have to make him change his mind, Hyungwon.

He didn't have any other choice. After all, he needed to create the momentum first before moving forward.

_

 

Holding his phone to his ear, he listened intently to the long beeps on the other line. It only took a few seconds until his call was rejected, switching to quick beeps without getting to voicemail.

Hyungwon wasn't surprised, after all it was the fifteenth time he attempted to call Hoseok Lee that week. He was determined, but apparently so was the blonde man when it came to phone calls.

He blocked his boyfriend's number, he is definitely determined.

It felt like his veins squeezed together at the thought and Hyungwon tried his best to ignore the feeling. Hoseok might have been determined, but so was he. Hyungwon wasn’t the kind of activist for giving up early and not learning from his mistakes. He did his best when it came to learning, even if he had to admit defeat in some cases.

Days had passed and the rejection of the petition still hadn’t reached him. Hyungwon kept having the irrational thought that despite his anger the blonde man had added a little bit of his influence. He didn’t know how important Hoseok Lee really was, but there were enough signs to make inferences.

If he’s really as important as he seems to be, you might have a chance.

What made Hyungwon special was that he didn’t shy away from unconventional methods. He didn’t have the opportunity to talk to the blonde man over the phone? Fine, then he would have to find an alternative.

Collecting his courage and mentally stomping his anxiety with his foot, he made his way past rows after rows of fancy cars. He felt bitter about the sheer size of each of them, but this time he hadn't come to protest.

You're here to ask him to reconsider.

The last time Hyungwon had been anywhere close to VABD, he carried a big sign that said to stop selling cars that ruin the environment and screamed at the employees through a megaphone to get a conscience. Now he was absolutely silent as he snuck past most of the cars to a parking spot closer to the entrance. It wasn't the first time that he observed Hoseok Lee leave work and walk to his terrible car, but it was the first time that he felt perfectly prepared to talk to him as soon as the older man reached it.

Perfectly might be an overstatement, you have no idea what he'll say.

At this point Hyungwon was grateful if he'd get three words out before the blonde man jumped into his car and drove off.

A few moments passed and he heard the sound of Hoseok's shoes before he could see the blonde hair and the rest of the broad figure dressed in some expensive suit. The other man stared at his phone, scrolling through something, probably deleting his calls while he opened the car with the key he was holding in his other hand.

Now or never.

Hyungwon swallowed down his worries and developing anxiety and quickly made his way to the passenger door, opening it and slipping inside as quietly as he was able to. It was the first time that he had sat in a car like that and his general dislike made way for a feeling of shabbiness because of the state his clothes were in. The seconds ticked by where nothing happened until he saw the pale hand reaching for the handle and opening the heavy door easily. The blonde man was talking on the phone and threw his laptop bag on the passenger seat and on top of his lap without watching where it landed. Hyungwon let it slip down his legs.

"The petition?" the older man asked someone on the other end of the line. "I haven't decided yet, wait for my review," the blonde man continued in a low, stern voice, slipping onto the seat before his head turned and he stared at him with his dark, round eyes. The person on the phone kept talking, but Hoseok simply hung up, sliding the phone back into a pocket of his suit pants.

"What are you doing here?"

Hyungwon licked over his lips and tried to ignore the fact that there was only one big petition that was currently in the news and under revision. Maybe Hoseok was talking about something else, but he didn't want to believe it. His theory on the blonde man having some influence must have been right. After all, the rejection still hadn’t reached him.

"Finding a way to talk to you," he replied and pressed down a button close to the window that he was pretty sure locked the car.

Only that it didn't and the window slipped down instead.

God, you idiot.

He didn't comment and pretended that it was his intention, after all his anxiety was already bubbling in the back of his head simply because the blonde man was that close to him. There was no need to fuel it further by admitting to his own stupidity or showing that he wasn’t as composed as he tried to be. Hyungwon didn't need a mirror to know that he was paler than usual.

"Wow. I must've forgotten that you wouldn't be an activist if you listened to reasonable arguments. What do you want?" Hoseok pressed the start button and the engine growled so loudly that he jerked in his seat.

"I wouldn't be an activist if I gave up easily," he replied once he caught himself and pressed the same button again to close the window. There was no point locking the car because Hoseok had no intentions of leaving it.

But what if he's going to drive somewhere with you?

Hyungwon's panic got worse and he held his breath for a few seconds to get the wits to make his request.

"I wanted to ask you to reconsider your offer for the 'Day for Future'," he forced out as his right hand reached out for the seat belt at his side, just in case he needed it.

"Buckle up," Hoseok hissed and turned towards him, placing his muscular arm on top of his seat. The other man looked back and pulled out of the parking spot. As soon as they left the company ground, stopping at one of the traffic lights, the blonde man turned to him and stared. "Reconsider what?" he asked.

Hyungwon's hand was firmly holding onto the seat belt across his chest while he struggled to keep himself from thinking where the older man could be driving with him. There weren’t many options and Hyungwon didn’t like any of them as they left his blood frozen in his veins.

"Letting me give that talk," he answered and licked over his lips to return the moisture. Anxiety was making his mouth dry and he hated it, struggling to remain calm and collected. There was no reason for the older man to give the talk to a panicked wreck.

"I didn't want to give it to you after I walked out of your cafe. What changed that would make me reconsider my opinion?" Hoseok looked ahead, driving without a navigation system while appearing to know exactly where he was going. Hyungwon hoped that it was a familiar place since the area was still one that he knew from frequent demonstrations.

"I hopefully learned from my mistakes," he replied and finally dared to properly look at the older man's black eyes. Hyungwon didn't know how much older Hoseok was, but the way he was dressed and sitting in his car, driving single handedly, made him seem very adult. Hyungwon needed to show that he had finally understood. "You were right that there is no point in convincing the ministers. They only care if enough people want it. If I reach a sufficient amount of people with my talk, it will give me the momentum to make a difference. I'm sorry for rejecting your help before and I hope you will still allow me to be the one to speak about sustainability."

"You think you can do it? Just like that? You know that I actually wanted to suggest to you to talk there and to supervise you a little bit because it's important to present the right material to the right audience, but you…" The blonde man let out a rough breath, lips parting briefly before pressing together along with the narrowed gaze that replaced the usual look. He looked kind of scary and a spark in Hyungwon's anxiety led to a cold shiver running down his spine.

"I got emotional because of the petition. I- I was doing the one thing you told me not to do, namely obsess. I obsessed over my antagonism towards you. Because of your affiliation I rejected your offer even though it could help me achieve my goals. It was stupid and I wanted to apologize." His hands were trembling on his thighs and he held on tighter to hide it, eyes focused on the older man's chest instead of his face. It was true that he had gotten emotional, implicitly blaming the blonde man for what happened thousands of kilometers away.

It's everybody's fight, you can blame neither him nor the boa for it.

Hoseok didn't say anything but looked thoughtful until the car finally stopped. Hyungwon was so scared that he didn't even think about where they were driving.

"You've arrived," the low voice said while the blonde man leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes, fingers tightening on the steering wheel.

"Huh?" Hyungwon glanced around the few trees that surrounded them in addition to an utterly empty parking area. He didn't need long to recognize the big white house, the tiny windows and a few of the children that played in the courtyard. It was Frankfurt’s biggest refugee home.

It was home, as close to home as he could get.

Hyungwon had not even once mentioned where he was staying, no matter who it was. Even Sasha found out much later and had never been here before.

How does he know that you live here?

His eyes widened as he turned to look at the blonde man, to see whether there was more to the thoughtful expression on his face. Hoseok must have known, known that Hyungwon lived at a refugee home and actually wasn't allowed to work as long as he lived there. It wasn't possible that the man next to him wasn't aware of such a simple rule.

He could tell on you and you would lose everything at once.

The blood ran cold in his veins as he waited for another comment, scared of what the consequences were going to be.

"I'll think about it. It's late," Hoseok said and finally opened his eyes, glancing at him, before his right hand left the wheel and pressed a button next to his hips, releasing his belt with a loud click. "Good night."

For a few more seconds Hyungwon held the older man's gaze, contemplating a reply, but in the end he didn't dare. He didn't know what the consequences could be and not having the opportunity to speak at the event would be the least of his concerns once Hoseok decided to speak out.

It’s not about climate change anymore, it’s about basic survival.

"Thank you," he whispered and opened the door, slipping out as quickly as he was able to and hurrying towards the big white building.

His steps brought him to the big brown door that led inside the building with an abundance of small rooms that were filled by families that hoped for a second chance. Each additional step towards the door that harbored his family made one thing painfully apparent.

Hoseok Lee had him in the palm of his hand, whether Hyungwon wanted him to or not.

 

***

 

He was so determined to make sure the stupid petition got rejected, he even wrote a fucking review. He even wanted to let someone file a complaint with the police about a refugee working illegally and destroy the puppy with help from the information he had gathered so far, only to show himself that he was able to make it fast and emotionless, but…

But Hannah was so happy about the prospect that he would speak at the Day for Future as a refugee and activist. And your project…

His sister made him weak and he was aware of his unusual emotional response to the black-haired puppy. Destroying him wasn't part of his project. His project was to create a nice scandal that would affect puppy and spread to the whole activist community, thereby giving them another year to launch their plug-in cars without being bothered.

He needs more popularity for this to succeed.

Hoseok knew, that's why he told the secretary that he didn't know what he would do about the petition yet while the puppy waited for him inside his car like in some psycho thriller.

You took something away from him, now you can give it back, making him feel as if it wasn't his from the start.

The idea was amazing, but he needed to think and he still felt angry about the curly haired man, so he decided to drop him off at his refugee home and go back home to develop a nice strategy.

Don't get angry. You'll make a mistake.

He took his phone out of his tight suit pants and wrote his sister that Hyungwon was going to talk at her event before pulling out of the parking spot and driving back home. He didn’t finish his project and everything seemed even more complicated than before, but one thought made it all bearable.

You made her happy and you will succeed no matter what.

_

 

Hoseok stopped right in front of the vegan cafe, not bothering to park his car somewhere else this time. It was raining and he didn’t want to get the umbrella out of the trunk, so he opened the door quickly and slipped inside, still catching some of the drops that he shook off his head.

Again, there was only Hyungwon because it was late, but he didn’t care about the woman anyway. She was absolutely irrelevant to his project apart from the fact that she claims her employee is a girl instead of the black-haired man who was working there illegally, due to his refugee status.

“Do you have something that doesn’t taste like vomit, apart from the cookies?” he asked while his stomach kept making loud noises that he was pretty sure everybody could hear if they came close enough. Sighing loudly, he sat in his favorite spot. He had kept the notebook in the car this time as he knew everything by heart. The notebook was very helpful if he needed to reconstruct his thought processes to understand his own conclusions and make sure he didn't make a mistake.

“You sound as if you would be fine with vomit as long as it had nutrients,” the black-haired boy answered calmly before he recognized him, eyes widening and hands quickly turning on the coffee machine. The puppy had already taken off his apron and was in his usual jeans and oversized t-shirt, looking tiny despite his height. "Tell me some of your favorite things and I’ll create a bowl for you. I don’t think you are a fan of the ones that Sarah makes.”

"I'd rather not eat," he commented. "Just give me a few of those cookies. They're safe."

Hyungwon observed him for a little longer, concern obvious on his small face. What exactly he was concerned about Hoseok couldn’t tell yet. The puppy took out one blueberry cookie from the transparent jar on the counter which he arranged on a plate, before looking up at him again. “Will you let me try? If you don’t like it, you don’t have to pay for it.”

He's all kinds of desperate, isn't he?

"If it's tasty, I'll think about this petition of yours," Hoseok murmured quietly while staring at his phone and the email he’d received from the ministry for review.

Don't give it to him easily, Hoseok.

“You mean- there is still a possibility of influencing it?” the black-haired boy asked, but didn’t wait for Hoseok to answer as he grabbed a big bowl from one of the shelves and began by arranging a few leaves of mache at the bottom. The attention and effort that puppy invested in putting together ingredients and checking whether they went well together was ridiculous. Hyungwon washed fresh fruits and cut them into little pieces and instead of using the prepared bottles of sauce he mixed vinegar with oil and some of those spices that he kept putting into Hoseok’s coffee.

He's thorough.

A few minutes passed during which the black-haired boy worked diligently, opening drawers and cutting ingredients until he sprinkled a few sesame seeds on top of his creation and brought the finished product along with a cup of coffee, placing it in front of Hoseok. Puppy wasn’t even breathing properly, holding the air in his lungs as he waited for Hoseok’s judgement.

He lifted an eyebrow at the unnecessary amount of desperation and dipped the provided spoon into the bowl, chewing slowly. It was okay, definitely better than the stuff he got served here before.

"It's fine, and now come here." He pointed at the chair, pushing it from under the table with his foot.

The boy released the breath he had been holding and brushed his hair from his forehead, only to have the black curls bounce right back. He looked nervous as he sat down on a chair next to him, eyes attentive but body posture rigid. Some of the color left his round face, similar to the way it had when he fainted.

Terrified puppy. He should be, but not because you're gay.

"Don't bark only because some piece of shit has power, puppy. It will most definitely fade because those bastards are too attached to it and define themselves over it. And please don't faint, I'm hungry and I don't know if I'll manage to hold your legs in addition to the kneeling/slapping combination." Hoseok kept chewing on the salad-rice mixture and glanced at the other man's pale face once in a while.

Is he even listening to you? He looks as if you'll bite his head off.

"I won't faint and I'm not barking either," the black-haired boy replied quietly and shifted in his chair. "I don't think that anything I do will influence your decision, but feeling hungry is terrible, so I hoped to do something about that."

Can he stop being cute? It's terrible.

"You're wrong. You made me a tiny bit angry last time and I almost made a foolish decision. Thankfully, I'm a rational person, so you're safe, for now. How important is this petition to you?" he asked, placing his head on his palm.

"It's the one thing I've been working on for months. It's my hope that convincing the public can make a difference," Hyungwon replied and held his gaze. Even though he looked scared, the determination overshadowed the fear. Remarkable.

"If I tell you that your petition will go through, will you still give the talk and let me supervise you?" Hoseok stuffed the remains of the rice into his mouth and swallowed, feeling much better.

"Yes," puppy replied but Hoseok didn't miss the obvious glint of hope in the big eyes.

"Fine. Then you're allowed to be a tiny bit happy, but it'll be on hold until the event is over. We need to develop a strategy, create a target specific topic and you will show me how you are going to do it. The only question is when we are going to do all this." Hoseok pulled out his phone and wrote an email to the ministry to put the petition on hold. "When do you need to be home?"

"I don't have a curfew or anything, but I need to be home early in the morning to take care of my family. I work at the cafe in the morning, have lectures and then cafe in the evening. I'm free around this time every day, but I also have some university work to finish. I can sacrifice sleep, it's worth it." The determination didn't leave the boy's eyes as he stood up and cleaned Hoseok's plate and cup away before cleaning up the counter, the tables and the coffee machine.

His day is almost as full as yours.

"Fine, then let's start today. You can finish up and then let's go." Hoseok checked whether he packed the keys to his pseudo apartment but everything was in place and he was ready to go.

The puppy was a little slower, filling the dishwasher and turning it on while his eyes remained focused on the task at hand. Only when the whole cafe was perfectly clean and an old denim jacket covered the boy's shoulders, he followed after Hoseok, face as white as a ghost.

When he unlocked the car and made himself comfortable in the leather seat, he decided to address the issue again.

"Are you scared of me?" he asked while observing the puppy who tried to buckle up with shaky fingers. Sighing, Hoseok took the belt from him and stuck it into the provided lock.

Hyungwon froze almost immediately, staring at him with wide eyes as if he expected him to point a gun at him and shoot him in the face without a second thought.

You don't do stuff like that, there are more effective ways. Violence is for brainless idiots.

"Not… necessarily scared. I just feel uncomfortable," the black-haired boy muttered in reply and quickly turned to stare straight ahead, hands clutching onto the seat belt. "I prefer to avoid people that make me uncomfortable, but it's difficult with you."

That conservative little shit.

"Why do I make you uncomfortable? I mean- I have a few ideas why you should be uneasy around me, but I don't think you're aware of any of them, so what is it?" Hoseok started the engine and returned his attention to the traffic.

"I don't know what to expect from you. Even before I learned more about your private life you were a mystery, but now my body just freezes all over and tells me to run." Hyungwon sighed and covered his face with his big palms, sinking into the seat. "Usually I just avoid people like you, but I can't."

He should be scared, but not because you're gay.

"I could tell you that you can expect me to wrap around your neck and squeeze until you lose consciousness, but you faint just fine without my help." Hoseok chuckled and stopped at a traffic light close to his second apartment.

"Don't say that," the boy hissed, fingers digging into the leather of his seat. "You're not making it any better. We will simply keep a healthy distance and then it should be fine I guess. You haven’t done anything terrible yet and I'm holding onto that thought."

"What kinds of terrible things do you expect from me? I swear I'll be honest with you, just tell me and I'll tell you if I might or not. A few weeks ago I heard the closest person to me tell someone that she doesn't know me, so I guess it must be hard to get to know me." Hoseok didn't know why he said that. Was it to gain trust? He could've tried without mentioning his sister.

Hyungwon turned towards him and Hoseok felt the boy's eyes on his face, observing him intently.

"I don't really expect you to do anything in particular, nothing- really explicit or anything. My head just tells me to stay as far away as possible and I get anxious. Anxious enough to faint." Groaning in frustration, puppy covered his face and ruffled up his hair. "I obviously don't do it on purpose. If I could control it, then I'd turn it off and live in peace while ignoring it."

The scary, gay man will come and make him gay too.

Hoseok suppressed a laugh and made himself a note that his sexuality made the puppy faint. What idiocy.

Every bit of information is helpful.

"Who knows, maybe I'm contagious," he elaborated while pulling into his parking spot.

"Don't make fun of me, Hoseok. I know that's bullshit." Massaging his temples, the puppy shifted to get out of the car after opening his belt buckle. "Just don't get too close and both of us will be fine."

Just strangle him right here.

"You are making me angry," Hoseok hissed and took his bag and the scripts he brought from his real apartment before closing the trunk and running up the stairs to the second floor. The living space looked just as he left it a few days ago, smelling like cherry. His favorite scent.

"Take off your shoes," he commented, slipping out of his own and walking into the living room. The boy was quick to follow as he left his dirty sneakers in the hallway and followed him.

"I make myself angry too," Hyungwon muttered once he entered the living room and sat down at the far end of the couch. "But I am prepared to learn and listen to what you want to teach me, independent of how you make me feel. Wait- that sounds a little weird, but... I guess you know what I mean."

What an idiot.

"No, I have no idea what you mean." Hoseok came closer with each step, smiling before dumping the four thick scripts onto the puppy's lap. "Here, that's a base for what I am going to tell you later. I’ll be in the bedroom if you have any questions."

Massaging his temples, Hoseok went to the bedroom and changed into a white shirt and shorts, deciding to do some quick exercises. There was no way that he would serve the little shit everything on a plate.

You need his trust, but he has to work too.

 

***

 

As soon as the bedroom door closed behind the broad man, Hyungwon released a breath he hadn’t been aware of holding. His whole body relaxed and the dull pain in the muscles of his thighs and forearms suggested that he had been flexing them in irrational fear. He hated that he reacted that way even though he had no choice but to be around the older man.

His anxiety didn’t care about whether Hoseok Lee was somebody he had to deal with or not. It took over as soon as there were less than two meters between them even though Hyungwon hadn’t cared before, not much at least.

You disliked the innuendos.

He threw his head back and took a few deep breaths to calm himself, getting used to the cherry scent of the apartment. Sasha’s house always smelled like freshly cut grass and his own home was difficult to put anywhere because his scent was probably a part of it. The refugee house itself smelled a little like old walls.

Now that he was on his own, his brain returned all of its capacity to think. No matter how angry the blonde man had been when Hyungwon rejected the opportunity to give the talk, there was no doubt that Hyungwon had been the first choice for the event. Even now, when Hoseok came to him, the older man made sure he was still willing to give the speech before throwing the petition as bait.

Hyungwon wasn’t stupid and it was clear as day that the man next door had much more influence than he let on. How else would Hoseok be able to tell him that the petition fell through before pulling it back and keeping it on hold for as long as Hyungwon danced along to his plans? Rejecting and accepting a huge petition with a flick wasn’t something many people were able to do, especially not one with over half a million signatures that was already handed over to the parliament.

He’s using it to make sure you play along.

Hoseok Lee didn’t need the petition to make sure that Hyungwon played along. After all, he already knew more than enough to ruin his life. He knew his name, his illegal workplace, his age, where he studied and the refugee home he lived at. The other man even knew his phone number before Hyungwon called him. There was no denying it now. From beginning on the blonde man wanted something from him, only Hyungwon didn’t know what it was.

He lied easily, but he didn’t expect it to fall through that quickly.

The older man had told him that the cafe was between his workplace and his home, which it wasn’t. He said he came because of the coffee, but didn’t seem particularly interested unless his questions were able to make Hyungwon talk. There was something that Hoseok Lee wanted from him, but Hyungwon couldn’t figure out what it was. He didn’t have much influence yet and apparently all that influence that he had could be easily broken with a single word from the other man, by rejecting the petition. In addition, Hoseok could have ruined his life as soon as he told on him and his illegal job. It was simple, really, one word was enough.

You’re a refugee, so people will suck this up like a smoothie, motivated to throw you out because you are a danger to the country, being all illegal and foreign.

The answer was simple. Hyungwon didn’t have much choice except to go along with what Hoseok Lee wanted from him. No matter the circumstances and the anxiety that being in the same room with the other man gave him, Hyungwon still had the chance to learn something.

You have to take as much from this as you are able to, no matter if your body thinks that he is dangerous or not.

Sighing out loud, he glanced around the small apartment. Considering what he had learned about the blonde man, it didn’t really fit him well. Hyungwon would have expected something much bigger and higher up, showing off the city just like the older man showed off his other possessions.

The butchered tree on his lap weighed him down, so he returned his attention to the scripts that Hoseok had given him by throwing them carelessly on top of his thighs. It was a lot, much more than the literature for a university lecture. Swallowing at the amount, he forced himself to focus and read through it. Grabbing a ballpoint pen from the living room table, he marked everything that was particularly relevant to his goal or that he wanted the blonde man to elaborate on.

He has the influence and the knowledge to help you make a difference. Even if you are in his palm, you have to make sure to make the best of it.

Once he dared to call himself vaguely competent on the script that had been given to him, he stood up and contemplated disturbing the blonde man in his room. His legs almost gave out as soon as he put his weight on them, showing him that he had been sitting down for much longer than anticipated. Exhaustion came second, vision blurring briefly until he caught himself. Breathing in a few times, he slapped his cheeks to wake up and finally felt ready to interact with the blonde man again, asking him the questions he had prepared.

 That was until he stood right in front of the door to the older man’s bedroom and was just about to press down the handle.

It’s his bedroom. Why the fuck would you go there?

Adrenaline flooded his blood and he gasped loudly, eyes widening and hand letting go of the door handle. He tried to calm down and tell himself that the blonde man had no interest and was only going to help him prepare for the talk, but Hyungwon didn’t believe a single word of that excuse. It didn’t make sense, the older man wanted something, Hyungwon just didn’t know what it was.

The longer he stood in front of the closed door, the more prominent Sarah’s words became in the back of his head, telling him that Hoseok had interested in him since day one and thought he was cute. But then the anger that quickly took over Hoseok’s features as soon as they talked about change didn’t make any sense.

He changes his mind because you make him angry, but what’s the goal?

Standing around while shaking in fear wasn’t going to give Hyungwon the answer he needed, so he opened his eyes wide and stared at the brown wood.

Holding his breath, he forced all his fears down his throat along with his saliva and pushed down the door handle. He couldn’t bear to knock and wait for an answer.

The small room was covered in warm light, making it look cozy with the pictures on the walls and the white sheets. A glance at the desk revealed that Hoseok wasn’t there, instead there was the other man’s phone and his leather notebook. When Hyungwon finally moved his gaze to the bed, he recognized Hoseok's broad figure lying on top of the sheets, wearing a white t-shirt and black shorts, legs spread and with a book lying on top of his muscular chest.

He fell asleep reading?

Hyungwon’s eyes widened in surprise and some of the anxiety disappeared like a puff of air, leaving the adrenaline that couldn’t go back where it came from. There was no way that the blonde man could do anything while being asleep. Something about the sight was disconcerting and Hyungwon carefully closed the door and stepped closer until he finally realized.

He doesn’t seem like somebody who would let his guard down like that.

Instead of stepping even closer and taking a proper look, Hyungwon remained about a meter away, waiting for several seconds to see if the older man was going to wake up simply because he was being stared at. It worked on Sasha sometimes and Hyungwon had learned to be careful before assuming people were fast asleep.

When the blonde man didn’t move after more than a minute, he relaxed further and allowed himself to take in more of the room. There was nothing personal to it, not a single photograph and no notes or dust as one might have expected from somebody who was busy and rarely home. The notebook and phone on the table were beckoning him over, but Hyungwon had always considered himself a decent person, not somebody who snooped around in other people's belongings.

But he’s the one who snooped around to find out things about you.

The thought was pretty convincing. After all, Hyungwon might be able to understand what it was that the blonde man wanted from him, what those notes were that he constantly made while talking to him.

He didn’t have the notebook with him today.

Chewing on his thick lips, he stepped closer and took the phone first, unlocking the screen. He didn’t have a lot of hope in finding something out through the device, after all most people locked it for privacy. A glance at the screen revealed password protection. Hoseok must have been extra careful. Understandable for somebody with so much influence and that many secrets.

 A brief listing of everything that Hyungwon knew about the older man only gave him three or four things he was actually sure about. Hoseok’s work place he was sure of, the department he wasn’t too sure of because of the university talk unless the blonde man had organized that one independent of his workplace. Hyungwon also knew that he had an ex-boyfriend even though that was something he tried his best not to think about. It was the only hint about the older man’s private life that he had.

Inhaling quietly to not wake Hoseok up, he placed the phone back, arranging it the way it lay on the table before, extra careful, and took the notebook instead. It felt heavy in his hands and had a big snake engraved in the leather he hadn’t noticed before because it wasn’t colored. Only his fingertips could feel the difference and complete the picture. Opening the first page, he didn't see a lot of notes, only digits that looked like phone numbers, coordinates and random words like university, coffee, bike and a name. Hannah.

He turned the page, staring at the word ‘puppy’ before he felt tight heat envelop him from behind, forcing him to drop the book and cross his arms in front of his chest, accompanied by a warm breath against his ear.

“Are you curious? You shouldn’t be,” the low voice whispered.

Hyungwon screamed in shock as soon as the older man grabbed him, sound echoing off the walls and doing nothing to calm his racing heart and the ice that froze the blood in his veins. His eyes were wide, but he couldn’t see Hoseok, only hear and feel him all around his slim torso. Hyungwon had never felt that small before, that small and terrified after doing something he had justified to himself. The fear and anxiety that slowly took over, stealing all the blood from his face and brain weren’t rational, not at all, but Hyungwon wasn’t able to fight them, trembling in the older man’s embrace.

Don’t faint, don’t do it. You don’t know what will happen, don’t.

“Shht, I have neighbors, puppy. You want to know something? You can ask me, I might reply, or not, depends on my mood,” Hoseok’s low voice whispered into his ear again, feeling hot against his skin. Hyungwon hated the way the words heated up his neck and only increased the speed of his heartbeat, making him dizzy with fear and uncertainty.

“What do you want from me?” he forced out, voice barely more than a breath and body still shaking in the tight hold. Even if he would have wanted to escape, he couldn’t have. Anxiety wasn’t what kept him from fighting back, it was the older man’s strength.

There is nothing you can do, nothing at all.

“Ah,” Hoseok replied and he was turned and pressed against the wall, blonde hair appearing right in front of his face as the dark, scary eyes came so close that he could see his reflection inside them. “I want you to concentrate on your task and stop touching my stuff,” the older man breathed into his face, lips red and curled at the corners.

“You’re the one to talk, knowing all these things about me that I never told you about,” he dared to reply, feeling like he wouldn’t have another opportunity to speak his mind. His hands were limp at his sides, hesitant to reach out and push the older man away. He doubted that he could unless Hoseok let him. “And you should brush your teeth.”

Why the hell would you talk back, Hyungwon? You’re alone with him and he can overpower you with a single fucking hand.

“Oh should I? Why? Do you want to kiss me?” The other man’s eyes looked almost black, staring at him from under his blonde bangs as Hoseok moved forward, pushing him against the wall with his chest, one hand propped against the wall right next to his shoulder.

Hyungwon couldn’t breathe, air remaining stuck in his lungs as his body froze in place. There was nothing about their situation that was able to calm him down, not their height difference that should have given him some kind of advantage and not the few centimeters that separated their faces. All of it was too much, too close and too sudden.

Lifting his right hand to place it on Hoseok’s chest, he attempted to apply pressure and keep the older man further away from him as he could feel the color drain from his face and the edges of his vision.

“You wouldn’t dare,” he whispered.

“You got it all wrong, puppy,” the low voice vibrated in his ears as he felt himself being pressed further against the wall. “Why would the boa want to kiss you? That’s not what a boa does,” Hoseok’s face came closer and he felt a hot exhale against his lips.

Hyungwon’s eyes widened as he attempted to push the blonde man away from himself, but the strength slowly slipped from his fingertips, dissolving into the blackness that occupied his vision, focusing on the black eyes that observed him intently. Black eyes that were so cold, Hyungwon couldn’t shake off the feeling that he was really looking at a snake. A boa.

 

_

 

Consciousness returned slowly, beginning with pain in his thighs and forearms, the typical sign that he had fainted because of anxiety, too terrified of what was happening. Hyungwon didn’t remember the reason for fainting yet, too occupied with shifting on the hard surface he was lying on and attempting to get comfortable enough to use his brain.

Where the hell are you?

He had no idea, but he also felt too dizzy to open his eyes yet. Reaching for his face with his right hand, he brushed over it briefly, convincing himself that he was still in one piece and aware enough to feel the round shape of his nose and the softness of his lips. Once the dull headache subsided a little, he finally dared to open his eyes.

“Are you finally back? Why would you faint in front of my bedroom door? Is it scary? Should I leave it open next time?” Hoseok crouched a meter away from him and placed a glass of water next to his face, dressed in his dark blue suit and looking at him in annoyance.

“W-what?” Hyungwon sat up, a little too quickly so he had to close his eyes for a few seconds to not lose consciousness again. But once he felt safe enough to look around, he was met with the brown color of the older man’s bedroom door and the hard parquet floor that he was apparently lying on. He must have fainted right in front of it.

But then you would have hit your head, wouldn’t you?

His head didn’t hurt enough to suggest a bruise, but the sheer annoyance on the blonde man’s face didn’t fit with the strange images in his mind, the unpleasant closeness and the low voice that whispered threats into his ear.

Are you losing your mind, Hyungwon?

“But didn’t you… I mean-” he began, but couldn’t find a decent way to express his thoughts. They sounded ridiculous inside his head, especially the longer he observed the older man in his suit. There was no sign of shorts and a t-shirt. “Didn’t you...change?”

“Change? No, I still need to drive you home, it’s far from here and there is no tram at this time of the night. I also don’t think you will be able to tell me something relevant after passing out in front of my bedroom door. Let’s call it a night. Drink the water and I’ll drop you off at home.” Sighing in annoyance, Hoseok got up and grabbed his car keys.

A glance into the living room revealed that it looked exactly the way Hyungwon had left it with the scripts lying on the couch and his glass of water on the couch table. Everything was the way he remembered it to be, only the older man wasn’t.

“I walked home last time,” he pointed out, but preferred not to mention that it was the day he found out about Hoseok’s preferences and simply ran without a second thought, unaware how far and where he was even running.

Did you dream everything that happened in his bedroom? That’s impossible, why would you dream crazy shit like that?

The thought was uncomfortable, just like sitting on the floor, so he got up quickly and emptied the glass of water Hoseok had prepared for him. There was a feeling that he shouldn’t be in a car with the older man, but Hyungwon had felt the same way on the way to Hoseok’s apartment, so he tried his best to ignore it.

He leaned in to kiss you.

Shaking his head in terror, he turned to look at Hoseok, focusing on how little the older man fit to the mental image inside his head. The image that felt so much like a memory.

“I thought about something while you were reading. If you think about it, people rarely talk about other people who tell them what to do, right? But they do talk about movies or books, which are all based on real people and their personal struggles, their stories. I think you might be able to pull it off. I mean creating your talk inside a personal story. There are not a lot of people who can do that without seeming to want attention or being overly exhibitionist about their private life, but good books can do that and you might be able to do that too. This way you wouldn’t have to learn too much and could make it personal, I guess. Think about it.” Hoseok went to the laptop bag that stood next to his shoes and pulled out the black leather notebook, writing something into it, before placing it back.

It wasn’t on his desk?

Hyungwon couldn’t make sense of the prank that his memory was playing on him, showing him what he had seen in the small notebook in beautiful detail. He remembered the various numbers and words, the ‘puppy’ that had been circled a few times until-

Stop thinking about it.

The mere thought already forced his heart to beat irregularly and his hands became sweaty. He tried to hide it by rubbing them over his faded jeans and thinking about what to reply.

He wants you to talk about your personal experiences, but you only do that with individuals when you want to convince them, not the mass media.

Hyungwon’s small family might end up seeing his talk if it was as important as the blonde man suggested. Could he really force them to remember simply because he wanted people to wake up and make a change?

“I- never spoke of my personal experiences in front of a crowd bigger than a few hundred people. This will be all over the media, won’t it?” he asked and sat down on the floor to pull his dirty sneakers over his sock-clad feet. Sitting right next to the standing, broad man, reminded him of how different their lifestyles were, black leather shoes reflecting the light of the ceiling lamp.

“It will be huge, that’s why I’m investing way too much time in you, even though I should be focusing on my own projects. Comes from not being able to say no to her,” Hoseok commented, getting quieter in the second part of the sentence, as he opened the door and waited for him to follow.

“Her?” Hyungwon asked after jumping up and following the broad man out of the apartment. It still felt weird to him, like he had missed out on a big chunk of time because of fainting and still couldn’t figure out where he was and why.

You fainted in the middle of the night, of course you feel weird. You would have probably slept through the night if he hadn’t attempted to wake you up.

“You’re doing it for a woman?” he asked when Hoseok didn’t reply and simply unlocked his car and slipped into the driver’s seat. His fingers were quick to pull the seat belt over his slim chest this time, distracting himself from the fact that he was still uncomfortable close to the blonde man.

“Yes, puppy. I’m doing it for a woman. She’s the only reason why I reconsidered my previous decision. And also everything else.” The black eyes glanced at him briefly, intensity overwhelming and reminding him of his dream, before the older man turned on the engine and turned into one of the well-illuminated main streets.

“But I thought you’re-” he began, but stopped himself just in time. He didn’t really want to talk about it if he was honest, no matter how curious he was about that woman the older man apparently dealt with Hyungwon for.

Does that mean he came to the cafe because of her too?

“Ah, I’m not allowed to like women. I see. Fuck you too.” It was the first time that he heard Hoseok curse at him.

“No, that’s not what I meant. I just assumed because you- yeah.” Hyungwon felt really stupid for having to swim in a sea of uncertainty while the older man cursed at him for making assumptions with what he had. For all he knew, Hoseok could be lying to him again, talking about a woman that didn’t exist just like he probably talked about a colleague that didn't exist and a workplace that was close to Hyungwon’s cafe. It was a mess and he had no fucking idea what to believe. Every word that left the curved mouth could be a lie.

Why would you pay attention to how his lips look?

His brain quickly supplied him with the answer, a close-up of curved lips that parted to blow at his face. How was his brain even able to come up with such images?

“Fuck,” he muttered and threw his head against the headrest of the seat, fingers playing with a few random buttons that he didn’t know the function of that were attached to the door.

“I’m yeah? Whatever you say, you must have hurt your head. Do you need a checkup? If you want to know something you can ask me, I’ll reply, or not, depending on my mood.” A smile spread the older man lips but he kept his gaze on the road, approaching the area where the refugee home was located.

Hyungwon’s eyes widened and he turned his head so quickly his neck hurt a little, eyes looking for some sign on the older man’s face but there was none.

He said the same in your dream, didn’t he?

“Tell me about that woman,” he replied eventually and fit the fingers of his right hand in between the spaces of the fingers of his left hand.

“No. It’s none of your business. I understand that you’re curious, but you shouldn’t be. Spend your time thinking about your talk, it’s in a few days.” The car stopped and Hoseok unlocked the door, pressing the button of his buckle, releasing the belt. Hyungwon had never seen anybody who could throw somebody out of their car that smoothly.

“I made notes to discuss with you, but I didn’t get to it,” he muttered and shifted on the seat, hesitating to climb out. He knew that Hoseok still had his future in his palm, but there had to be something that the blonde man wanted from him and didn’t get yet. Didn’t Hyungwon have some kind of influence over him until then?

It’s probably the talk.

“When can we meet again?” he asked eventually and glanced towards the window that belonged to their room, pitch black just like it should be at 4 o’clock in the morning.

“I want to sleep a bit tomorrow, so the day after tomorrow if you like. Think about a story that will raise awareness in the most positive way, something you stand for. I promised that you’re allowed to talk about the things that you want people to listen to, so make sure to use it well.” Glancing at an incoming call from some number without a name, Hoseok put the phone back into his suit pants, not showing any signs of annoyance at being called at four in the morning.

“I’ll do my best,” he muttered and opened the door, unsure of what else to say. The situation felt weird, too nice compared to the roughness that his mind and body remembered. Hyungwon thought of thanking the older man, but decided against it, quickly jumping out of the car and closing the door.

Hurrying over the big courtyard, he didn’t dare look back, images of his dream still too vivid in the back of his head. His steps echoed through the hallways as he ran up several flights of stairs and finally stopped in front of the room that was his home. His fingers were careful as they inserted a key and unlocked the door, as quietly as possible to not wake up the person sleeping on the single bed at the side in addition to the small bundle of blankets on the bunk bed. Hyungwon stepped closer and sat at the edge of the bottom bed, moving back some of the thick layers. A brief smile passed his lips as he leaned in to place a kiss on the small, round forehead, a little sweaty from the lack of proper temperature regulation.

He didn’t want to be the reason for the two people that mattered in his life to be reminded of what has happened to them, but if that meant he could keep it from happening to others then it was worth the sacrifice.

Hyungwon simply had to stop thinking about the person Hoseok and begin focusing on the task at hand, the change he was so determined to achieve.

 

Chapter Text

Mistakes were a no go. Falling asleep in his second apartment while having puppy over was an absolute disaster. Catching the giant baby in the middle of snooping in his stuff had been absolutely unnecessary, however, he thought that the younger man would faint immediately.

Would've been too nice.

Instead of the easy way out, the boy kept talking back to him and asking uncomfortable questions. The mention of a kiss and a light exhale against the thick lips were enough for the puppy to sink to the floor, eyes rolled back and consciousness fading in a matter of seconds. Fucking ridiculous.

Yeah, and you told him a boa doesn’t kiss. What the fuck is wrong with you, Hoseok?

Instead of thinking about his previous mistakes, he used the time Hyungwon was unconscious to remove his notebook, get dressed and drag the almost weightless man in front of his bedroom door, making sure there was no hint that all of what really happened. He hadn’t filled the notebook yet, but now he had to buy a new one. Damn it.

He asked about Hannah. You have to be careful what you say around him.

His projects had never implied an involvement that went as far as pressing someone against the wall. There were other people who could do that better than him and he usually didn’t get involved with physical threats.

Why did you do that?

It was easy to understand why he reacted like that. He made a mistake, a mistake to let his guard down which immediately resulted in consequences that he needed to keep minimal.

That’s why you used his obvious homophobia to make him faint.

He wasn’t very proud of it, but he definitely didn’t regret it. It worked and shifted Hyungwon’s attention towards something else while he could keep pretending that he never curled around Hyungwon’s skinny body, letting him feel the boa’s grip on his delicate neck.

Why would you warn him of yourself?

He had no answer. Instead he arranged the African food he had gotten for take away on the way to his pseudo apartment and waited for Hyungwon to arrive. This time he had to make sure to prevent himself from making any mistakes. It was a project and miscalculations only made everything more complicated, adding variables to the equation and ending in a cluster headache.

Like now. You should’ve told him to stay home.

He almost did, but Hannah explicitly asked him to ‘take care’ of the speaker, telling him it was 'because he was only eighteen and would be doing it for the first time in front of the press, have some compassion’. What compassion? If Hyungwon was screaming just fine at demonstrations, he could just as well pull something out of thin air without having Hoseok working on minimal resources because of that.

He needs to gain popularity for this to work and you know it.

He knew. The signed petition lay on his desk, ready to be sent back to the ministry with his review and simulation concerning the future strategy attached. Hyungwon had wondered why the petition was in revision under him even though the topic had nothing to do with cars. The topic didn’t, but neither did Hoseok.

You don’t give a shit about cars.

The boy started being overly curious, which was understandable, but annoying and dangerous nevertheless. He only hoped puppy would swallow his stupid homophobia and present him a nice tear jerking story about climate change in addition to the reasoning regarding how it concerned the random asshole eating his fifth curry sausage while demonstrating against refugees at the marketplace.

You have to drag the employees there to listen too, if it’s good.

Finally the bell rang and he sighed, walking up to the door and buzzing Hyungwon through. This time he wasn’t wearing a suit and went with black jeans and a loose sweatshirt that caught on his collarbones, color a pretty light blue. Innocent and friendly.

You could be a con artist.

Again the black-haired boy took the stairs, but instead of quickly walking past him, much like he had the first time, Hyungwon stopped about two meters away from him, left hand still holding onto the railing.

“Hi,” puppy muttered, but he looked a little less composed than he had been at the bottom of the stairs. However, instead of looking pale there was more blood in his cheeks than usual.

"Hi. Are you okay? Did you run here? You look healthy." The comment was unnecessary, but sounded nice. It was a good start. "Come in, I got some food."

“It’s late, so there isn’t really a proper bus going here.” Hyungwon shrugged and carefully made his way past him, as if the boy was scared that their shoulders were going to touch or something equally ridiculous. “I thought about what you said.”

Chewing on his cheek without looking at him, the black-haired boy slipped out of the same sneakers he wore everyday. This time the younger man wasn’t wearing socks, revealing a few thin lines on his feet, scars as far as Hoseok could tell.

"You thinking is definitely the best news, come in and tell me about it, but first I really need to eat something. It's been fourteen hours. Feel free to join, I got it for two people and I really like African food." Hoseok gestured towards the living room where he arranged the various dishes on the small couch table because he didn't have a dining table.

You don't have one at home either because you don't need it.

A smile passed over puppy’s thick lips and he sat down across from him on the couch.

“Me too,” he remarked and gestured at one of the dishes Hoseok had bought. “I didn’t even know that it was possible to eat this in Germany.”

"Germany is lucky, one can do a lot of things here. You can eat with your hands too if you like, I bought the bread too." Hoseok ripped open the paper bag with the thin bread and placed some of the dish on it, putting it into his mouth right after. "My favorite food is definitely Tibetan, I miss it, it's been ages, but you really can't get it here. There isn't a lot growing there, but after not eating for days it tastes amazing."

“You’ve been to Tibet?” Hyungwon’s eyes widened in surprise as he took off his denim jacket and placed it on the couch next to him before carefully taking a piece of bread and covering it with steaming food. “I wouldn’t have expected that. But I guess you’re not deep enough in the culture to have a plate with water on the table.” It didn’t seem like an accusation as the black-haired boy smiled and inserted the bread into his mouth, chewing happily. He must have really liked it.

"Depends on the cuisine, I need to go back some time. To Tibet, I mean, but I work too much and haven’t managed to. I went there when I was your age." It was definitely enough private talk, so Hoseok stuffed rice and some of the meat stew into his mouth and chewed. "So, what was the conclusion of your thinking session?"

“That you’re probably right. I also think that I should talk about something personal, something that only I can share. A few years ago people kept talking about the polar bears that suffer the most, right? Well, now that we killed most of them I doubt that the argument works, it’ll have to show more of the reality. The fact that it’s humans suffering now, humans that aren’t far away where we don’t see them, but right here.” Sighing, the black-haired boy clenched his fists and occupied himself by stuffing more bread into his mouth. “You know, it’s kind of nice that if you find the time and really want to, you can go back to Tibet and have Tibetan food again. My favorite food… it doesn’t even exist anymore.”

"How can a food stop existing?" he asked, pausing in the middle of chewing.

“It stops existing when one of the ingredients does, or when the devices that one needs to make it are gone, just like the only people that knew how to make it.” Hyungwon’s voice had gotten quieter and the boy fumbled with a piece of bread without stuffing it into his mouth.

"And what happened to your favorite food? Where are you actually from, puppy?" He focused his gaze on the boy's small face and big eyes and observed his reaction to his question.

There was no hesitation like there had been before, only resignation and a tremble that passed through the boy’s bottom lip.

“I doubt that you know it. It belongs to the places that children won’t learn about at school, erased from the map. I don’t even think you can buy a map that has it anymore.”

It's not on the map?

He couldn't hide his surprise, staring right into Hyungwon's eyes with his lips slightly parted, brain trying it's best to find the answer to his questions. "Wait, you're not a political refugee?" he asked again.

Hyungwon chuckled, sound darker than Hoseok was used to. “That depends on your definition of political. You want to know if I am here because the place I am from isn’t safe to be? Then yes, I guess I am a political refugee. After all, the reason for me having to leave is still the same, humans and their terrible decisions.”

He doesn't want to tell you.

Fine, then Hoseok would find out by himself. Letting his thoughts structure the information, he pulled out his phone and went online, searching for countries that had disappeared over the past few years in addition to those that turned inhabitable.

That makes so much sense, how come you couldn't figure this out sooner?

"Water?" he finally asked, lifting his gaze from the screen.

Hyungwon nodded and brushed through his hair, fingers keeping the curls in between them for a little longer and occluding the boy’s eyes. The topic got to him.

“You know what’s interesting about being from a country like that, Hoseok?” the boy suddenly asked and removed his palm from his forehead, big eyes focusing on him. Hyungwon looked so much younger like that.

"No. Apart from the fact that you can't go back."

“You’re close.” The boy smiled a little but it didn’t reach his eyes. “A lot of people in Germany consider refugees intruders, I’m sure you know. People that came to steal their jobs, their wives and their lives, as if I could walk in and start being like them. I can’t and I also can’t go back where I came from. When people compliment my German with a twitch in their eyebrows and ask ‘where are you really from?’, there isn’t really anything that I can say. It’s an interesting feeling. Do you consider yourself German, Hoseok?”

You know this feeling a little bit.

"I was born here, but no matter whether I have citizenship or speak perfect German, my face speaks for itself, so I do get asked where I'm from. Well, and I answer Frankfurt Westend because that's where I'm fucking from. Having money and power shuts people up quickly because they're easy to see through, so I'm doing my best at having both without any attachment to it." Hoseok took a spoon and ate the rest of the stew after realizing that Hyungwon didn't touch the meat. "The racism here is another topic though. I think it would be a little too much to combine, but I see where your feelings are coming from."

"I'm glad that you were born here, even though your face speaks for itself as you say. This way you always have a place to return to, something that you can call yours because it's part of your identity. Someone once told me that people who lived in the Soviet Union before it fell apart feel the same way I do, because they were born in a country that doesn't exist." The black-haired boy grabbed the water and took a few gulps, hands remaining tense and expression emotional. "It's not the same, because the culture is still there, the places are still there only with different names. Things might have changed, but the physical entity is still there. There's no way for me to go back because there will be fucking nothing."

But you are not attached to a place or your home country, or your citizenship. That’s why you can’t understand.

“I have to admit that I don’t feel that way. I wouldn’t mind if this place changed or disappeared. I feel no emotional connection to it, but I understand that you do. Did you finish eating? Because I got you clothes that you need to try on.” Hoseok collected the empty plates and carried them to the small kitchen, dumping them into the sink. Next, he took the big paper bag from the bedroom and brought it to the living room, throwing it next to Hyungwon’s stick-like figure. “It’s jeans and a shirt, I think you'd look like an idiot if you wore a suit, so I decided this would be more appropriate, but you can tell me your opinion after you’ve tried them on.”

"You're giving me clothes?" Puppy's eyes were wide as he glanced back and forth between the paper bag and Hoseok's face. One might have thought he had given the boy freedom by gifting him a paper bag. "You- you didn't have to. I could just wear what I always wear. I don't think I can pay you back."

Oh god.

“What are you talking about? It’s an event for the company I work for and you aren’t getting paid for it. Of course you can wear what you like, I can’t force you, but people are superficial, so unfortunately it’s important for your message to not look rundown. You don’t need to pay me anything, puppy. Money is the last thing I need from you.” Hoseok pointed at the bag and nodded, encouraging the giant baby to open it.

"But I am rundown," Hyungwon muttered quietly and carefully separated the two sides of the paper bag, eyes widening even more. "But what if people think that I'm all fancy like these clothes and have an amazing life, confirming their opinion on refugees. I'm not sure if you're aware but I'd never be able to afford this, Hoseok."

“If you go there with your huge jean jacket and sneakers, you’ll confirm their opinion that refugees are rundown hobos. Choose your fighter. Furthermore, not being able to afford things is not anything one should be ashamed of. I travelled in Tibet and Nepal completely without money, so believe me, it’s not as important as you think. I only want you to wear a pair of jeans and a simple shirt, it’s not designer clothes or anything. God, just try them on, please.” The annoyance started seeping through and he groaned, massaging his temples to get rid of the pressure.

Instead of saying anything else, the black-haired boy nodded and took out the shirt and jeans, examining them for a few moments until he chewed on his cheek and put them aside. Grabbing the seam of his oversized grey t-shirt, the boy simply pulled it over his head. Without the old fabric Hyungwon looked different, even slimmer and with prominent ribs and collarbones. Hoseok's eyes passed over the flat chest and caught on the boy's small nipples. Hyungwon also had a few scars on his torso, thin white lines that covered his abdomen and shoulders.

Even though the boy had been terrified of him before, he didn't seem to struggle with changing in front of him. Jumping up, puppy unbuttoned his wide jeans that only held up on his hips because of a belt with additional holes cut by scissors. Loosening it, Hyungwon let his jeans slip down his legs, revealing golden skin and toned muscles. The tall boy looked like a different person without his clothes.

Hoseok decided not to comment on it and simply leaned back and observed the young man changing into his new clothes.

“There is also underwear, I got it for free because of a sales event, but you don’t need to try it on now. You have a lot of scars. Why?” he asked while his gaze travelled over Hyungwon’s lean body, taking in every detail to keep it as relevant information somewhere at the back of his mind.

Hyungwon lifted his gaze to meet his, observing him for a few moments as he unbuttoned the white shirt before throwing it over his shoulders. The boy kept the fabric loose as he reached for the jeans and slipped into them. Even those were still a little loose on his legs.

"Comes with trying to escape death," the boy replied eventually and paused with his hands on the button of his jeans. "Do you want me to wear it on top?"

“As you like. I only have a tattoo, but your scars definitely make you look less like a baby.” Hoseok waited for Hyungwon to close the buttons and got up, walking around the slim figure to check the fit. “It seems fine. Would you like the pants to be tighter, or is it okay?”

"I don't really care, they don't slip down my hips, so it's fine." Stroking along the sleeves of the shirt, the black-haired boy lifted his gaze to look at him again. His expression was difficult to place anywhere, a mixture of emotional and conflicted. "Thank you, Hoseok."

“You look good. Take a look at yourself in the big full size mirror in the bedroom.” Hoseok pointed at the brown door.

"What if I’m sad once I have to take them off again?" puppy asked, but still crossed the room towards the bedroom door. The boy didn't hesitate for long before disappearing behind it.

“You don’t have to take them off. I have another bag with the same stuff in a smaller size. I wasn’t sure because you always wear potato sacks,” Hoseok yelled and chuckled to himself because the way Hyungwon reacted to the new clothes made him seem really cute.

People rarely know how to be thankful for the things they have.

The younger man didn't reply anything to that and simply remained in his bedroom as the seconds ticked by. Hoseok was just about to say something when the door opened again and revealed puppy, eyes wide and staring at him while his arms were hugging a black folder to his slim chest.

"I knew that you were important," he muttered and Hoseok could see how the boy's knuckles turned white from the force with which he held on. "But now I know how fucking Important you really are."

Oh no, you left it on the desk. Again.

“I think that’s mine,” he murmured, jumping up and walking until he stood only a few centimeters away from the tall boy. Reaching for the folder, he carefully loosened Hyungwon’s long fingers that were holding onto it and took it back. The black-haired boy had first attempted to step back and increase the distance, but the wall didn't allow him. Only the lack of color on the round cheeks told Hoseok how Hyungwon reacted to the proximity.

"Why would you let it be rejected if-" Hyungwon began and chewed on his lips, eyes wide, "if you have so many ways to make it happen, a whole fucking strategy to roll it out this year?"

Just hope that he didn’t read that you’re head of the energy and sustainability strategy committee at parliament. Fuck, Hoseok, why? You should’ve done it all behind his back and without throwing it at him as bait.

“Because you’re way too curious,” he whispered and opened the folder to check if everything was in place. It seemed like it. “You shouldn’t be.”

"How can I not if that's everything I care about?" Hyungwon whispered and pressed himself closer to the wall, as if the single occurrence that Hoseok had transformed into a dream returned to his mind suddenly. "I didn't take anything, I'm not a person like that. I also can't do anything with those documents, unlike you."

“I’m not important,” he murmured and lifted his gaze, letting his hand fall to his side while holding the black file. “You keep imagining things.”

The boy narrowed his eyes, looking for something on Hoseok's face that he couldn't find.

"There is only one thing I still don't understand. Why would you need me?" A tremble passed through Hyungwon's body as he kept himself flat against the wall and attempted to hide the fact that he was anxious simply because Hoseok was so close. It was interesting that puppy didn't struggle to undress in front of him but panicked as soon as he was closer than two meters distance.

You can’t let him faint like last time, but you can play with it.

Leaning closer, he tilted his head and looked up from under his blonde bangs, catching the boy’s terrified gaze, unwilling to let go.

“Why would you think that I need you?”

"Because-" Hyungwon's voice broke, but his face remained stern, big eyes holding his gaze. "Because you invested all this effort to see me, all the way up until I angered you."

Maybe you should just tell him that you like him. But then he won’t come anymore, being all scared.

“She wanted a speaker for the ‘Day for Future’, and I promised to help, so I needed to find someone. You are this someone, but you are also replaceable. I know enough people like you and it made me angry that you thought I couldn’t get anyone else. I think your internal beliefs make you think weird things.” Licking over his lips, Hoseok threw the file on the chair on his right and crossed his arms in front of his chest, reducing the distance further. “Do you think that I like you, puppy?”

The mix of shock and sheer terror was enough of an answer as Hyungwon's eyes widened even further and his plump lips parted, trembling a little with fear.

"I don't know what to think," the boy whispered eventually.

What a delusional little shit.

“Oh really? What makes you think that I like you?” he asked again, deliberately licking over his lips and staring right into the big, brown eyes.

"I didn't say that I think you like me! There is no reason for you to like me, only what Sarah keeps telling me and the fact that you prefer… men." Hyungwon swallowed and switched his gaze from his eyes lower, probably to his chest before it met Hoseok's eyes again. "I just can't figure you out. You say you want me to give that talk but start out by lying to me and telling me that the one thing I care about was rejected. I don't understand how that makes it more likely for me to give that talk."

"I didn't lie. In addition, I hoped that it would make you understand that you shouldn't be picky about opportunities. Your thought patterns are remarkable, I get it on with guys, so I will definitely want to get it on with you too? Wow, I'm mind blown. Does your straight ass have a girlfriend?" Hoseok thankfully prevented himself from saying the girl's name that was registered at the cafe.

"I don't. I also don't think that you necessarily want to get it on with me. I don't think anything apart from wanting to run away, I told you. God, I-" Hyungwon inhaled sharply, shaking while still keeping himself flat against the wall. "What I don't understand is why you would compromise the future of the planet just to teach an 18-year-old a lesson. I learned, but what if you couldn't have taken your decision back? What if something terrible would have happened? I have no time for love when I can't even be sure if the countries I see on the news will still be there tomorrow."

Compromising future. What an idiot.

"I’m not teaching you a lesson. Just do the talk, and do it well. You don’t date? Amazing. I do not reproduce. You should give me an award for saving the planet from overpopulation." Leaning in, Hoseok blew air against puppy's thick lips and turned around, taking the file from the chair and walking towards his bedroom. "You make me so fucking angry. If you want to run away so badly then fucking run, for fuck's sake," he muttered, before he threw himself on top of the bed and groaned, trying to calm down and remember his goal.

Stay reasonable, what is wrong with you?

Hyungwon remained frozen in place, eyes wide and right hand reaching out for his lips as if Hoseok had touched them instead of something as meaningless as blowing air. The boy's gaze passed over the furniture until it settled on him, a loud gulp telling him that puppy prepared to say something.

"I'm not running away because I want to make a difference. You're the only one who is giving me a chance," the black-haired boy murmured and Hoseok could hear him step a little closer to the bed. "Not reproducing is your choice, but only because you're not leaving anyone behind doesn't mean that the rest of the world should suffer."

“Yes.” Hoseok had enough of being bothered and sat up on the bed. “You’re not here to teach me about the suffering of the world, right? Get to the point, I’ll listen and give you my feedback.” Crossing his legs, he pulled a brand new leather notebook out of his bag that stood right next to the bed and opened the first page. ‘20th of June 2030,’ he wrote and lifted his gaze, trying not to show that he wanted to strangle the puppy right there.

It was quiet for a few moments until Hyungwon finally nodded and carefully sat down on the edge of the bed, closer to Hoseok's feet. Hesitation slowly drained from the boy's motions and he lifted his gaze to observe him before he finally spoke, voice more level than it had been a few moments ago.

"I wanted to talk about personal experiences with climate change, that it can indeed break a person. That it's not as far away as it seems. Then I wanted to do what you taught me, show them that by doing something small they can already help a person that is suffering. By taking public transport, through not eating meat and through fighting political decisions that force the opposite."

“Awesome. Draw an outline, a common thread that your talk will move along. It will be broadcasted nationwide and I- I mean the company has invited some international media too. People might only listen to ten minutes out of forty five, so keep it such that they will still want to know more, get curious. It’s important that they’re not feeling ashamed for eating meat and driving cars, but feel educated on what potential they have.”

Hyungwon observed him intently after his slip, but didn't comment on it, mostly scribbling something down on his big palm with a ballpoint pen he took from Hoseok’s bag without asking. The boy was immortalizing his advice while formulating his next question.

"During your lecture, you pointed out that it’s important to show weakness and thereby make it easy for the other person to associate with you, but I am not sure what weakness to show. There are too many to keep track of considering the topic I am talking about. I am also not sure how to make more work seem like something desirable, after all it can be bothersome for some to use public transportation instead of cars." Sighing, puppy brushed his curls away from his forehead and examined him intently, obviously hoping for a solution.

Hoseok ripped a few pages out of his brand new notebook and placed them on puppy's lap. His thighs looked nice, covered by the black jeans fabric.

"The jeans look good on you," he commented with a smile, before leaning back on his arms and bending one leg for comfort. His phone kept buzzing, it was annoying. "Show them their power. You're an activist. That's what you're hoping for. Change doesn't spread on a guilty conscience, it spreads on the knowledge that one is powerful and can make a difference. Tell them what they can do, how they can influence the political decisions with voting, how they can force innovation with their consumption decisions. Show them the world you want to live in and make it sound amazing, like an improvement. Instead of talking about pollution, talk about clean oceans, fresh air to breathe, enough space to live on the planet. Talk about people who won't need to lose their homes and immigrate to a different country because theirs doesn't exist anymore."

“You’re a genius,” Hyungwon muttered, eyes wide as he began to make notes on the few pages that Hoseok gave him, writing quickly and in the form of a perfectly structured table. “I’m really excited about this and you actually know why activism is important, so why aren’t you active yourself? You could change so much, Hoseok.”

Because that's simply not the kind of decisions you made. The trash people around you are so easy to knock out, but look at him.

"Because I'm a boa constrictor," he said but laughed right after. "It's a joke, don't look at me like that. I know that he's at my company, but I don't know him. Nobody really does." He sat up and brushed back his hair, feeling the exhaustion from the long day. "I told you I'm not attached to anything in particular. For activism you seem to need the kind of emotional involvement you have. I would need to poke myself with a needle to feel things. Even then I don't think I really would."

“I... don’t really believe that,” Hyungwon commented and chewed on his cheek, scribbling some more words on his sheet of paper. The boy decided not to elaborate on what exactly it was that he didn’t believe. “I think you just haven’t really seen why it matters yet. Nothing has changed in your life because climate change doesn’t affect you personally, but once it does it will be different. I’m just hoping to make a change before we even get there.”

"That's a cognitive bias. Thinking that people only start thinking about solutions if it affects them. Otherwise advertisements wouldn't work. Most things we buy are not to solve some problem. It's to make ourselves feel better in our rotting skin. If it starts affecting them, they'll do something that's much easier than thinking about the planet. They'll just blame the refugees, independent of whether it makes any sense." Hoseok sighed and pulled the sweatshirt over his head, deciding to change back into his button down to drive Hyungwon home. Hyungwon didn't seem worried by undressing, so he also had no reason to be.

The black-haired boy lifted his head as soon as he lifted the seam of his shirt over his head, but immediately returned his attention to his notes. The aversion to look at him was interesting and didn’t make much sense.

“So you don’t need to ‘make yourself feel better in your rotting skin’?” puppy asked eventually and chewed on the back of his pen, still not glancing in his direction and focusing on his naked feet instead.

"No. I don't care that it's rotten. I have no specific opinions and I only care about processes and strategic thinking. I don't need a car to feel better, but I have one, so I go to work in it. I don't need an apartment, I slept well in a tent for a year, but I have one, so I'm using it. As soon as I feel attachment, the thing or person I’m attached to has to leave. There's exactly one exception to that kind of strategy." He got up and walked around puppy, breathing hot air against his neck, just to see him jerk before he stopped in front of the wardrobe.

The black-haired boy didn’t move from his position at the edge of the bed and not even the sheet that he had been writing on made a noise, leaving them in silence. Just when Hoseok opened the wardrobe door, he heard Hyungwon whisper a single word, no more. It was a name.

Hannah.

His heart almost stopped and his fingers curled around the wardrobe door, pressing down so hard that it hurt. "It's late, let me get dressed and I'll drop you off," he said, hoping that he didn't have to make the boy faint again because of his continuous revelations.

You need to keep her out of this.

 

***

 

The bleached paper felt rough against his fingertips as Hyungwon observed the way Hoseok pulled his sweatshirt over his head and discarded it at his side. He only allowed himself a brief glance, a path from the older man's solar plexus to his abdomen until he returned his attention to the pen in his hands and the notes he had written down.

The two of them were discussing the talk he was supposed to give, but still the topic slipped towards Hyungwon's frustration and inability to understand what motivated the man in front of him. Could it really be a woman alone, pure infatuation? Hyungwon struggled to believe that. If giving a talk had been the goal from beginning on, then the blonde man should have taken a different path to convince him, without lies and unnecessary detours.

But there is something about her, he tenses whenever he mentions her.

Hoseok Lee rarely showed a change in his expression, but observing the way his eyes looked when he spoke of her or how he got angry about Hyungwon's anxiety, told him more than any explanation could have. His head already hurt from all the memories of their dream-like encounter in the bedroom. Hyungwon didn't want to be in that room, not when his mind constantly provided him with images of the older man standing too close for comfort and exhaling against his lips. He had never fainted in a dream before, not unless it was the end of the dream because he died.

An additional glance supported his discomfort. The room looked the same, exactly the same. He couldn't have dreamt up a room that existed just like that. He remembered it all, the furniture, the lack of photographs. Even his opinion was the same, a deja vu that was stronger than a dream could be.

You've been here before, but which part is the dream?

Hyungwon didn't know and partially he didn't even want to know. The mere thought of curved lips too close to his own froze the blood in his veins and returned the anxiety he had successfully abandoned for as long as there was enough distance between them.

But the notebook isn't the same.

It was a cheap excuse, after all Hyungwon had seen that it was a new one. Hoseok had ripped out some of the first few pages for him.

You're worried, but you also can't stay away anymore.

 Hoseok still had his future in his palm and apparently much more of it than Hyungwon could have anticipated. The blonde man was part of the sustainability team, he could ruin everything Hyungwon was working on if only he wanted to.

Anxiety returned as soon as he felt Hoseok's hot breath at the back of his neck, forcing his body to jerk and his muscles to spasm in shock. His mind only belatedly registered the older man's words.

He's afraid of attachment, avoiding it like the plague while making sure to separate himself from anything that threatens to become meaningful.

Hyungwon couldn't believe that the older man would cut himself away from the world like that, lead a half life filled with meaningless relationships and interactions. Words and actions that didn't mean anything because there was nothing real that he worked towards.

Except for one thing. He said there is an exception.

There was only one exception the blonde man had consistently mentioned, even if he preferred not to. The woman.

Hyungwon's mind immediately returned the image of the notebook he had seen in his dream, with a boa drawn on top of it in black and impossible to see from afar. It wasn't the same notebook anymore and Hyungwon didn't know if it was true, but he remembered the words he had seen inside it.

Hannah, there was a girl's name.

He didn't have a lot of opportunities to find out if he had really fallen unconscious and dreamt up more closeness than he wanted to admit or if the older man was lying to him again.

Chewing on his lips, he slowly lifted his head from the paper on his lap and glanced at the older man's jeans-clad legs. His clothes fit him perfectly, as if they had been created around the blonde man without any intention to take them off.

"Hannah," Hyungwon whispered, speaking the name he had seen out loud in the hope that it was going to show him a little more of the truth. Hoseok Lee was difficult to get through, but it wasn't impossible.

Collecting the bravery to deal with the repercussions of his words, he finally looked up properly, examining the blonde man's naked back. His back that was completely covered by a pitch black snake.

Hyungwon's eyes widened and he gasped, quickly covering his mouth with his palm to hide the sound. The tattoo was detailed, showing a gigantic boa constrictor, curling around the other man's broad shoulder blades and crawling down, head with the split tongue located on his lower back.

It's a boa, a fucking boa, Hyungwon.

He felt like he was caught in a movie, surrounded by a person he couldn't predict and the movie director was just about to insert a compilation of each time the blonde man had said the word 'boa'. Hyungwon didn't need the compilation, his mind was stuck on a single image, black eyes that came closer and lips that whispered at him that boas don't kiss.

Fuck, there's no way, Hyungwon.

His lungs burned from lack of oxygen and he allowed himself to greedily suck the air into his mouth, hands digging into the soft sheets next to his hips. He didn't even hear Hoseok's next words as his notes slipped from his lap and covered the bedroom floor.

"I'm sorry," he forced out but didn't look up, body frozen and not even bothering to move to collect them.

He can't be it, no fucking way. He said he doesn't know who it is.

Hoseok said he didn't know, but the blonde man had lied countless times before. It wouldn't be the first time and surely not the last time. Hyungwon didn't know what to believe. Was he dreaming again? Coming up with the idea that the one person who was giving their campaign a hard time was right next to him, close enough to grasp and hold on? It was a naive idea because there was nothing he could hold against Hoseok even if he was indeed the boa. Hyungwon was just as helpless after seeing the tattoo as he had been before.

"Huh? What's the matter?" The older man grabbed a white button down from the hook and turned towards him, staring at the notes that littered the floor. "You're not planning on fainting, are you?"

"No," he whispered and sank to the floor, hands quickly collecting the sheets and holding onto them tightly as he got up to his feet. His eyes examined Hoseok's expression, attempting to understand what the older man was thinking. Was he aware of what he had shown Hyungwon? Was it meaningless to him or was it his intention?

"I thought it was okay to undress after you stripped in front of me just fine. God, puppy, I only blew air against your neck because it annoys me that you're terrified. Makes me seem like some kind of monster."

The monster isn't far.

"Not really, but you got one on your back," Hyungwon commented, voice much more casual than he felt. He wrapped his arms around his notes and made his way towards the bedroom door, opening it wide for both of them to leave. The additional distance calmed him down a little.

It's not about him undressing, it's about the secrets he keeps from you.

A glance in the older man's direction revealed something he hadn't seen before. Hoseok looked lost, for a split second only, before a bright grin spread on the pale face and Hoseok turned, moving his back muscles and making it look as if the snake was moving. Still, for a split second, Hyungwon had seen the confusion.

He didn't mean to show you, just like the tension when you said her name.

"I like snakes, you know?" the low voice said before the white fabric covered Hoseok's broad back.

"Of course you do," he muttered and waited for the moment the blonde man finally decided to leave the bedroom. Hyungwon still felt dizzy and he didn't need an explicit statement to know that the older man liked snakes, it was the first thing he told him when they met.

Who knows, maybe he wanted to give you a fair chance by warning you, but you were too stupid to figure it out.

Hoseok buttoned up, face turned away from him before the dark eyes finally focused on his and the older man picked up his car keys.

"I don't think we need to meet again. You'll do a good job," the blonde man said and walked past him.

Hyungwon couldn't hide the shock on his face, but luckily the older man had already walked past him, not interested in his reaction.

Is he afraid of revealing more?

"Can I still call you if I feel uncertain?" he asked as soon as he entered the hallway and began to pull his sneakers over his naked feet. It felt strange to not be wearing his oversized clothes, it almost didn't feel like him.

It feels like you back then, before everything fell apart.

The thought hurt, so he swallowed it down and focused on making proper bows out of his laces.

"Yes. See you at the event." Hoseok didn't bother looking at him and slipped into his leather shoes. The blonde man seemed urgent to get rid of him.

Hyungwon only hummed and followed Hoseok down the stairs to his car. One might have thought he was already used to riding in one, hands quickly buckling up while his eyes focused on the blonde man's stern face. Neither of them spoke on the way to the refugee home and Hyungwon wondered if he had hit a nerve with Hoseok, gained knowledge he wasn't supposed to have.

"Do you have friends, Hoseok?" he asked suddenly when Hoseok turned into the main street that led towards his home. He had a few minutes to find out the answer to that question if the other man let him.

"No. I told you I'm not a fan of attachment," the low voice replied. Only now did Hyungwon realize how many times Hoseok had been looking at him, observing him intently. It was obvious now, with the sudden lack of eye contact.

"Isn't it lonely?"

Why would you ask him? What does it matter to you if he's lonely?

Maybe Hyungwon was hopeful, convinced that if he only got close enough he'd find out what it is that makes the blonde man tick, what he could offer to fascinate somebody with so much power for changing the world for the better.

"No. I thought that the girl that covers for you at the cafe was your girlfriend, but I guess she's just a friend then." The blonde man pulled into the empty street and stopped in front of his home.

He even knows that Sasha signed for you.

"She's not, we're good friends," he replied, unsure what else to say now that the older man simply cut off the topic without telling him much. Maybe Hyungwon had found out enough for the day. "She's really cool, you should meet her sometime. Maybe you even remember, she was with me during the demonstration while you sat at that cafe."

"No, thanks. I'm looking forward to your talk. Take the other bag from the trunk. I don't need it." Hoseok turned, unbuckled his belt and pressed a button that opened the trunk.

Give up, he's not willing to talk to you tonight.

"As you like," he whispered and turned towards the older man, observing him for a little longer. Whispering a quiet 'thank you' towards him, Hyungwon eventually climbed out of the car and got the clothes. He would need to come up with a good reason for owning something new. He didn't want his dad to feel bad for having other people buying him things.

If he'll even realize.

Crossing the courtyard, Hyungwon couldn't help feeling that it was time to act on his own now, to fight for information himself without pulling it out of Hoseok, bit by bit.

Who knows, maybe you have to be the stalker from now on.

_

 

“You’re fucking crazy,” Hyungwon muttered as he pulled at the seat belt on his right to make sure he survived this day. He was in cars way too much for his taste recently, but there was no opportunity to argue when his best friend was involved.

“I’m pragmatic and solve your problems, Shepherd,” Sasha remarked and held onto the back of his seat while she fit the tiny electric car into a way too big parking spot. Apparently Frankfurt was nice enough to offer several cars to be used by residents that were not interested in owning their own. Hyungwon was immensely grateful that it wasn’t a petrol car and stared straight ahead, disbelieving that they were really doing this.

He glanced around the parking area that he had already seen a few times before. He had no idea how Sasha managed to lie to the guy at the entrance and get them in, parking among VABD-employee's cars. His eyes were already fixed on Hoseok’s black car, looking just as new as it did everyday. Sometimes Hyungwon wondered if the blonde man secretly exchanged it for a new one every second day simply because he could.

He did say that he uses things simply because they are there and not because they matter to him.

Hyungwon wondered if it was the same with people too.

“You know,” he began and glanced at his best friend who fixed some of the mascara that smeared under her eyes. She didn’t really look like herself with makeup and fancy clothes, but it made lying to security much easier. “When I said that I’m sure he’s hiding something and I want to know more...I didn’t mean that I want to stalk his car once he leaves work.”

“Same thing,” Sasha commented and shrugged nonchalantly. “This is way more efficient than waiting until he calls you again. There is still some time until the talk and if that is what he wants from you, we need to find out stuff beforehand. Preferably something that will make it difficult for him to not give a single shit after the talk.”

“Good luck with that.” He sighed and glanced at his watch. It was late and pretty close to the time Hoseok had left work the three days that Hyungwon had observed him like a creep. Hyungwon was also wearing his new clothes, otherwise nobody would allow him anywhere close to the parking garage, not to mention the headquarters building.

“Where’s all that conviction that you have during demonstrations? You have to yell that we’re going to be super successful!” Sasha shook her head in disapproval and giggled while putting on a pair of sunglasses for no apparent reason. It was too dark around them for such a stunt, but his best friend was enjoying this way too much.

He could see Hoseok's broad figure approach, phone pressed against his ear and unlocking the car with his left hand.

“That’s him,” Hyungwon whispered even though Hoseok couldn’t have heard them anyway. They had parked far enough to not be seen, but also close enough to follow quickly.

“What, really?” Sasha tilted her head down to see better and turned to him with a grin. “He’s kinda hot.”

Oh god.

“I guess he knows how to dress,” he murmured and waited for Hoseok to be distracted by a phone call and start the engine. “Come on, he’s going to leave in a bit.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Sasha murmured and started their car. Hyungwon still couldn’t get used to how quiet it was, no engine sound, nothing. “I’ll just skip out on you calling a buff guy with a pretty face ‘well dressed’.”

He wouldn’t be interested in her anyway.

Unless Hoseok was in love with the woman he mentioned and tried to impress her by fulfilling her wishes. But why the blonde man would sleep with- or generally be close to other men didn’t make sense then.

Stop thinking about it and focus on the task at hand.

Hyungwon really didn’t need to have another moment of remembering being pressed against walls and fainting. He had way too many of those recently. Even his dad had asked him whether he was doing okay recently and he never asked Hyungwon anything.

Only about mom.

“Relax, we’re just cruising around Frankfurt.” Sasha put her palm on his thigh and Hyungwon nodded and leaned back, observing the way Hoseok’s car smoothly turned around the corner and drove towards the exit. Sasha waited only for a moment before following. Leaving was easier than getting in, so Hyungwon wasn’t worried. His main concern was keeping up with Hoseok.

Hyungwon had expected the older man to turn left, driving in the direction of his apartment, but instead he turned right, moving towards the sky high buildings.

“Boy lives expensive,” his best friend remarked with a chuckle and followed easily, keeping enough distance and making sure that they were as casual as planned. Hyungwon still couldn’t believe he was trailing somebody’s car.

“That’s not where he lives. I’ve been to his apartment.” Chewing on his cheek, he kept hoping that the blonde man wasn’t going to visit his parents or anything equally uncomfortable. That was definitely not what Hyungwon planned on seeing unless it told him more about Hoseok. Not even once, had the older man mentioned his family.

“Who knows, maybe he has three apartments for each of his girlfriends.”

Again Hyungwon wanted to correct her, but decided not to. It wasn’t really relevant and he feared that his best friend was going to ask him uncomfortable questions.

They passed the cafe he worked at, before Hoseok turned into a big street, littered with skyscrapers. He could see the garage door lift as if welcoming the huge SUV before it closed again as soon as they came closer.

“Okay and now we have to be fast if you want to learn something,” Sasha hissed and simply parked the car at the sidewalk. It wasn’t even close to an actual parking spot, but his best friend didn’t give a single shit as she quickly reapplied her make-up and jumped out of the car, small handbag thrown over her shoulder.

“What are you even talking about?” he muttered, but his best friend had already curled her arm around his elbow and pulled him into the building. Only now that they walked past the reception and a few people with luggage, Hyungwon understood that it was a hotel.

“He came to a hotel? But why? He has an apartment,” he commented and glanced around. Hoseok was nowhere to be seen.

“Obviously to meet somebody, discuss shady business, fuck. What do I know? You’re the one who said that you want to find out something new. I’m just enjoying the excitement while it lasts. In addition, I don’t remember the last time I wore a dress.”

Hyungwon didn’t reply and quickly turned so that his back was towards the greater part of the lobby, panicking as soon as his eyes settled on familiar blonde hair and a tailored suit.

“That’s him,” he hissed, but Sasha remained perfectly calm.

“We’re lucky, he’s going to the bar. I hope you have your ID in case nobody believes you.”

His best friend smiled brightly and waited it out, smiling at him as if they were having a conversation until she turned him around and pulled him towards the bar.

“We can’t afford that,” he hissed, already feeling desperation seep through the closer they got to Hoseok. There was something dangerous about the older man and Hyungwon really didn’t want to be reminded of his dream to know what it was.

“We don’t have to buy anything.”

The bar was spacious but already filled with quite a few patrons. After finding Hoseok’s styled blonde hair, they found themselves a small table not too far away with perfect view. Hyungwon really felt like he was in a movie, in a really bad one because they didn’t have the means to pretend to be wealthy and able to afford a twenty euro cocktail.

Chewing on his cheek, he lifted the wine menu to cover his face and peeked over the edge at the older man’s table.

Hoseok was sitting on one of the bar chairs, wearing an expensive dark blue suit having just received his drink. It was completely transparent and could've been anything. Suddenly there was someone else, placing a palm on his shoulder and sitting right next to him with a smile. The tall man was wearing suit pants with a black button down and smiled at the blonde man, cheerfully telling him something he couldn't hear because they were sitting too far away. It was the most affectionate Hyungwon had ever seen Hoseok be, even though the older man wasn’t the one who initiated all the contact. Was it a friend?

But he said that he doesn’t have friends.

Sasha expertly sent the waiter away, pointing out they were still thinking because she needed a while to choose something that was to her liking. She was good at this whereas Hyungwon felt like he was wearing somebody else’s clothes and screaming notice me at the top of his lungs.

Staring at the two men, he tried to figure out what was going on. Maybe it was a business meeting and they were about to make some kind of agreement? Hoseok was influential enough to have people meet up with him and do him easy favors.

Suddenly he noticed Hoseok's hand that lay on the other man's thigh while the blonde man leaned in and whispered something into the guy's ear with a playful smile, earning himself a laugh and long fingers that curled around his flexed arm.

The blood drained from his face as if somebody had pulled a plug, fingers shaking enough to make the menu tremble in front of his eyes. He swallowed and tried to look somewhere else, at the bartender preparing a bunch of cocktails, at a couple kissing intently close to the bar. There were a bunch of places to look, but Hyungwon’s gaze still returned to the two men and how close they were to each other, how affectionate Hoseok was and how intimate the scene appeared that he was witnessing.

This isn’t a business meeting.

“Hyungwon, darling,” Sasha muttered next to him and he felt how his best friend kicked him in the shin painfully, green eyes staring a hole into the left side of his face. “Is our target gay?”

He swallowed, focusing on his best friend while attempting to forget what he had just seen. It was difficult because it seemed like his brain enjoyed combining the pictures with those he already had, giving him the phantom sensation of a hand on his thigh and freaking the shit out of him.

“He might be,” he whispered in reply and placed the menu on the table in front of him. It shook too much.

“Great, so we’re basically watching that guy flirt until they probably disappear in a hotel room and fuck each other’s brains out. That's great for them and all, but what does it tell us about him?” Sasha was much more efficient than him, as usual, crossing her arms and examining him intently.

“Can we not talk about what he plans on doing? I’d rather not deal with that.” Sighing, he closed his eyes and massaged his temples. “I guess we know that he goes to hotels to meet people.”

“To hook up, which means he either has a secret relationship or its a person he only meets to fuck. That’s personal information, but probably not what you were looking for.” His best friend hummed and kicked his shin again. “He seems more like a one-night stand guy to me.”

“He had a boyfriend, but he broke up with him over a text message. The guy came to his place later, very emotional and assumed I was the new one.” Hyungwon wasn’t sure why he shared that information, but it was probably his hope that it would simply disappear from his memories and find a new home, hopefully in his best friend’s head. Sasha just laughed loudly, amusement wrinkling her eyes.

“That sounds hilarious. He’s a little too old for you in my opinion. In addition, you’d probably faint before he even gets anywhere close. Just for the record though, he’s a dick if he broke up over text message. Only real assholes do that.” Pulling at his shirt, Sasha got up and attempted to pull him to his feet. “Come on, there’s nothing left for us to see unless you want to watch them flirt.”

Before he managed to stand up, the bartender placed two cocktails in front of them, smiling brightly.

"The gentleman said to have a nice evening," the man murmured and pointed at Hoseok, who winked at him, before simply grabbing the tall guy's chin and kissing him. Hoseok pulled on the full bottom lip with his teeth, his own lips spreading in a grin shortly before he leaned back and waved with his hotel card, earning the other man's nod.

He’s doing it on purpose to rile you up, he always does, breathing down your fucking neck to make you faint.

Hyungwon’s hands grabbed the edge of the table with so much force that it hurt, jaw clenched and eyes wide. He didn’t want to look, he didn’t even want to give the older man his attention, but he couldn’t help it. Not until he felt a small hand wrap around his jaw and pull it to the side roughly, making him meet Sasha’s angry eyes.

“If you don’t want him to think we’re here to stalk him, you better pay some attention to me,” she hissed before smiling widely and lifting her cocktail, expecting him to do the same. Hesitating briefly, Hyungwon wrapped his long fingers around the cold drink and lifted it up, feeling uncomfortable because he couldn’t even remember the last time he drank anything alcoholic. Sasha was smooth, looking cheerful and blowing Hoseok a kiss as soon as she got his attention for a brief moment. As soon as his lips touched the cold liquid and he swallowed, he realized that there was no need to be worried. The cocktail was non-alcoholic.

Because he still considers you a child.

Hyungwon didn’t need to look to know that Hoseok was gone, his best friend’s face changed almost immediately and she clenched her teeth.

“Wow, he’s attentive. You’re lucky he didn’t see us while we were staring at him, but rather when we were discussing your issues. Let’s drink this and go home, tomorrow is another day.”

Hyungwon nodded until something felt off about his best friend’s words, causing him to look up with widened eyes.

“You want to do this again tomorrow?”

“Sure, he can’t be fucking dudes every day, can he?” she asked cheerfully and took a big sip of her drink, visibly enjoying the taste.

Hyungwon didn’t want to know the answer to that question.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

The past few days were weird because he felt stalked. It wasn’t the first time, of course it wasn’t. Back when he worked at the biggest German Bank, right after getting his diploma, there were a lot of people who wanted to harm him and fuck him over, even sending people to threaten him. Hoseok wasn’t stupid, he knew exactly how people were.

But it feels different this time.

Meeting Hyungwon and his ginger friend at the hotel bar definitely hadn’t been a coincidence, he was smart enough to figure it out, but after that, he hadn’t noticed anything especially suspicious besides the usual Frankfurt traffic. He even stayed at his second apartment one night to make sure his other one was safe, however, he had important documents there and needed to go home to take them along to the event tomorrow.

Let puppy talk once and the rest you can do without having to gain his trust.

He suddenly remembered how Hyungwon asked whether he had friends. It was ridiculous, friends were the most dangerous people because they knew the best and you were the most attached to them while they could easily fuck you over.

He can have friends. They might help him when he starts having a hard time.

He drove his car into the big garage and turned off the engine, grabbing the scripts from the other apartment and his laptop bag and went out. Thankfully a cleaning lady took care of his clothes and made sure everything was tidy and there was food available. Everything seemed wonderful, but something kept bothering him, causing pressure to develop at his temples.

He already knows too much about you, you kept making mistakes, miscalculating and lacking attention to detail and now he only needs to put two and two together.

Hoseok had thought that sex would solve the problem with his mood, but unfortunately it didn’t. He was waiting for tomorrow to finally end the official part of his project and start attacking puppy from undercover. He didn’t need to be close for that, the information was enough and the boy speaking at the event only aided his strategy. He knew what Hyungwon was capable of, he watched most of his speeches from his demonstrations and with his feedback he was sure that it was going to be amazing, make the rounds, be played and watched all over the country and give the protest a face it could lose. It was perfect.

You are almost there, curled around his neck and ready to strangle him.

Smiling to himself, Hoseok walked to the elevator to go to the 35th floor, when he saw a figure standing next to it. Black jeans and white button down, curls covering the small forehead and big, brown eyes lifting to look at him.

Fuck.

He was unprepared, completely unprepared, holding the scripts in his hands and staring into puppy’s huge eyes.

“Are you trying to become my friend?” he asked to win time.

“I’m trying to get to know you,” the black-haired boy replied and gestured towards the elevator door that just opened, a careful smile on his lips.

To make sure you’re the boa and expose you.

“There is no-one who knows me. I doubt that you’ll be any more successful. How do you know about this place? Will you wait in my bed the next time?” He placed a foot in the gap, preventing the doors from closing again. He needed the 35th floor and didn’t want to wait. “What will you do if I say no? Will you stop caring and move on with your activism? Then it’s definitely a no.”

“I think you mistake me for yourself, I fear I don’t have the ability to stop caring once I begin, Hoseok,” Hyungwon replied and stepped a little closer, obviously waiting for him to enter the elevator. “You also don’t have to worry about me ending up in your bed. You… have other people for that.”

“They usually also like my proximity more than you do, moan nicely, and don’t stalk me.” His lips spread in a grin and he walked into the elevator. “If you come in here you won’t be able to come down without me.”

“That’s fine,” the boy muttered and entered after him, leaning against one of the beautifully decorated railings. He didn’t look nervous, but Hoseok knew exactly how to make sure that he did. As soon as the doors closed behind them, Hyungwon lifted his gaze and met his. “Can you really blame me after you made sure to find out my name, my worktimes, my phone number, where I live and who signed my work contract for me? I think that what I did is nothing in comparison. It’s just a drop in the bucket.”

“Most of the information is extremely easy to get my hands on. Everything about you, apart from where you are from, I got in a matter of a day, puppy. I didn’t even have to do anything, I have people who do that professionally. This on the other hand…” He placed the card in front of the reader, typed his password quickly and pressed the thirty five.

Don’t reveal that it’s valuable information, Hoseok. Don’t be so honest with him.

“I don’t have your resources, Hoseok, so shouldn’t you be at least a little proud of me? I’ve been trying my best.” Smiling a little, Hyungwon brushed through his black curls and revealed more of his golden face. The boy looked different wearing the clothes Hoseok had given him, much less like a teenager from the nineties.

The elevator moved so fast that his ears hurt a little and it felt completely surreal to have the boy leaning against the railing next to him.

Are you dreaming this?

The doors opened and he walked out, typing his password into the locking mechanism on his door, before holding the card against the NFC interface. If someone had asked him why he let an 18-year-old into his home that nobody knew about, he wouldn’t have had any reasonable reply.

That’s the problem. You are completely unreasonable.

Slipping out of his shoes, he brought the scripts to the big shelf in the living room and placed his laptop bag on the armchair next to the leather couch that was so big that one could have fit about ten people on it. Stopping in front of the complete glass front, he looked over the city.

Something went wrong. But when?

“Wow,” the puppy gasped behind him and quickly untied his shoelaces before slipping out of his sneakers. His feet were naked again, golden skin even more obvious with the superior illumination of his real apartment. “Will you be offended if I told you that this is more like what I imagined your home to be like? I thought it should be high up, as high as possible.” There was a soft smile on the boy’s plump lips as he peeked into his living room and glanced towards the gigantic windows. Switching his attention to the center with the seating arrangement, the black-haired boy gasped. “The couch is longer than I am and that surely means something.”

“I’m barely here,” he murmured and started unbuttoning his shirt on his way to the bedroom. The way was long enough to finish completely before he arrived, slipping it from his shoulders and letting it drop to the floor recklessly. “I’m going to shower, but you can be sure that I’ll break your neck if you try to look through stuff,” he commented, stepping out of his pants, socks and underwear.

“Can I read a book at least and look around?” Hyungwon called after him from the living room and he heard the boy pull something out of a shelf.

“Yes,” he said, even though he wasn’t sure whether puppy heard him and stepped into his gigantic shower, turning on the rain function and enjoying the drops that felt like a rain shower in Nepal. He really liked it and it was one of the things that really relaxed him, in addition to the shower gel with cherry scent that Hannah got him. A few minutes passed without him moving and he could finally silence his thoughts that kept appearing in his head, suggesting new strategies, actions, explanations. All of it disappeared behind the wall of rain mingling with the warmth of the water. Inhaling the mist-filled air, he turned off the faucet and dried himself, walking back towards his bedroom to put on underwear and the black robe that he wore at home.

His eyes immediately fell on a slim body on top of his bed, one lean leg stretched out while the other was bent at the knee, showing Hoseok a prominent scar than ran along the bottom of the boy’s foot. Hyungwon was lying on his bed with a book, index and middle finger held at the middle of two pages to keep them apart while his head rested on the palm of his other hand. He was reading Hard Boiled Wonderland by Haruki Murakami. His favorite book.

Hoseok wanted to kick the boy from his bed, but first he needed underwear, which he put on successfully, before taking the robe from the hook and slipping his arms into the sleeves, tying a tight knot.

“Did you stop being scared?” he asked as he turned around and rubbed his hair dry with a black towel.

The boy jerked at the sound of his voice, obviously not expecting him. Glancing over his shoulder, Hyungwon hesitated to reply, eyes passing over his face, partially covered chest and robe until he quickly glanced away, focusing on the book again.

“I doubt it,” he muttered and lifted the book in his hands. “But you have my favorite book. You even stopped right before one of my favorite scenes.”

“You said you wouldn’t wait in my bed. Liar.” Hoseok chuckled and pointed at the book. “It’s my favorite book too.” He smiled briefly, walking towards his bed. “And now tell me why you are here.”

Hyungwon’s eyes widened as soon as Hoseok mentioned waiting in his bed and didn’t reduce in size even though the seconds ticked by. Puppy definitely didn’t stop being scared.

“Shit, I didn’t think about what you said in the elevator. I just chose it because it’s comfortable and the book was here.” Chewing on his cheek, the black-haired boy turned around, sitting down on his scrawny butt and stretched out his legs. “I came because of several reasons. I wanted to see your apartment and I wanted to make sure that what I prepared for tomorrow is okay.”

Hoseok observed the boy for a few seconds, before simply crawling on top of the bed and sitting across from him, legs crossed and silk robe pooling at his lap. “I’m listening.”

Hyungwon lifted a hand to his eyes almost automatically and slipped towards the headrest until he must have realized that Hoseok wore underwear and relaxed again. A little bit of color covered the boy’s cheeks, probably because he felt ashamed for reacting the way he did.

Fumbling in his pocket, Hyungwon pulled out a recycled piece of paper with a few notes on it which he stretched out towards Hoseok.

“Those are the main points, I thought it’s safer to get your ‘okay’ than to make a mistake.”

He didn’t know what was worse, the fact that Hyungwon found his apartment to give him a list of stuff, or that the other man acted as if he stalked him, only to show him something related to the event. Exhaling sharply with his eyes closed, Hoseok refrained from commenting and read through the notes instead. It was just as he thought. Perfect.

“You did well,” he muttered, stretching out his hand with the note, but holding onto it tightly. Hyungwon smiled brightly, unable to hide his cheerfulness even though the boy had been stalking Hoseok and couldn’t have had any good intentions towards him. Still the puppy acted as if his approval meant that he had saved a country already. Sucking his lips into his mouth, Hyungwon reached out and wanted to take it back, only to struggle because Hoseok kept his grip.

“There is another thing I am curious about,” the black-haired boy began, relaxing his arm a little. “Do you hate me, Hoseok?”

He let go of the note and curled his fingers around the boy’s wrist, pulling it until he had Hyungwon’s face right in front of him. He could hear how the younger man inhaled sharply and held his breath, eyes widening.

“I am really, really bothered by you,” he hissed right into the handsome face.

“But-” Hyungwon swallowed, eyes quickly switching from his eyes down to his lips until they returned to his eyes. The whole game kept repeating as color covered the pretty boy’s cheeks instead of the deadly white that usually took its place. “But you are the one who looked for me, seeking me out and keeping me close.”

“So?” He observed Hyungwon from under his wet bangs that hung into his eyes. “Do you want me to adopt you, puppy?”

“You don’t make any sense,” the boy muttered and tried to break the eye contact, staring past his eyes only to focus on his lips and eventually on his eyes again. It was amusing. “I’m trying to understand your intentions, the power you have and why you use it the way you do. I am an open book compared to you, just like you said.”

“Don’t try. I told you that you shouldn’t be curious about me, didn’t I? Just do that talk like a good boy and let’s not see each other again, what do you think about that?” Hoseok pulled puppy a little closer by the grip on his wrist that was slim compared to his rather big and thin hands.

Instead of showing additional signs of panic as he would have expected, Hyungwon turned his wrist slightly and wrapped his hand around his wrist in return, holding on as tightly as he was able to. The boy’s eyes were determined as he slipped closer on his own accord.

“I don’t like that outlook,” the low voice whispered accompanied by big eyes that couldn’t choose where to look. “I wouldn’t be an activist if I listened when people told me to drop something, Hoseok. I’m used to fighting for what I think is right.”

That’s exactly the problem. If he was able to stop, you wouldn’t be here with him right now. You wouldn’t be anywhere near him.

“You want to fight me instead of fighting global warming? I don’t think I’m as important, puppy. Why don’t you go home, forget that you sat on my bed holding onto my wrist and give that talk tomorrow and then simply continue doing that activism stuff you’re so good at? Maybe you’ll faint and this will all have been a dream.” Hoseok smiled and watched the changes in Hyungwon’s facial expressions. The curly-haired boy’s eyes widened briefly at his last comment, showing that he began to doubt again, but the determination didn’t disappear the way Hoseok had hoped.

“You misunderstood,” Hyungwon murmured and tightened his grip on his wrist, even daring to sit up on his knees and crawl a little closer. “I’m not fighting you, I’m hoping that I can fight global warming with you, to make sure that there won’t be any more people that are forced to end up like me.” A chuckle passed the thick lips as puppy used his free hand to brush through his hair. “Isn’t that something you want? Fewer people like me?”

A fool.

"You're an idiot," he sighed. "But maybe you need to be foolish to do stuff like you do. You sure pity yourself a lot. I don't pity you and I don't get how you assumed I wanted fewer people like you. It's so much easier, puppy. I just want to finish my project and move on to fucking over other companies because it's what I'm good at. Why don't you just faint? God."

“That’s why I thought you might want less of me,” Hyungwon replied with a smile, “you’re so annoyed by me and I haven’t even done much. I also don’t pity myself, I pity my family, but not myself. I am trying to make a difference and reach my goals, so I try to see it as something positive, maybe even a gift.” Shifting next to him, the younger man tilted his head a little to be able to look under his wet bangs. “You know, Hoseok, I’m pretty sure there could be much cooler things that you are good at than fucking over companies. Do you like it that much? Are you planning on fucking me over too?”

You definitely shouldn't have let him in.

He stared at puppy's face before leaning in and placing a kiss on his plump lips.

"Fucking faint already," he whispered, hoping to see the consciousness fade from those brown eyes.

 

***

Hyungwon had never felt a lot of control with his interactions with Hoseok. There had always been the distinct sensation of a string pulling at his neck and leading him somewhere, a place that the blonde man wanted him to be. He never knew where it was, but unless he saw the familiar sign of annoyance or brief surprise on the older man’s face, he knew that Hoseok was perfectly aware of what was happening.

It’s like he planned everything in advance, making sure it goes according to plan.

Seeing the brief expression of shock, maybe even terror on Hoseok’s face when Hyungwon waited for him at the elevator was a first. It returned the euphoria and excitement that he knew from reaching a goal, from making a change. The feeling was addicting and he didn’t want to let it go, even when the older man tried to scare him by grabbing his wrist and pulling him in.

Hoseok kept revealing things, suggesting that his dream wasn’t a dream and that what the blonde man enjoyed doing the most was ruining other companies, getting rid of competition.

Just like the boa.

Smiling, Hyungwon dared to move a step further, crawling closer and leaning down to be able to see past the wet bangs that covered the older man’s forehead and partially his eyes. The previous angle made him seem dangerous and as soon as Hyungwon was able to glance behind it, there was almost something cute about Hoseok’s round, black eyes. The other man watched him intently and Hyungwon decided to speak his mind.

You could reach so much if only you had somebody like him on your side. It doesn’t matter what kind of person he is as long as he works towards the same goal.

He told the blonde man, whispered how convinced he was that Hoseok could be much better at other things, at much greater things than getting rid of a capitalistic enemy. What was the point of ruining companies and fucking over other people?

Who knows, maybe he planned on doing the same with you?

Hyungwon met the gaze of those round, black eyes, overwhelmed by how much less threatening the older man seemed until Hoseok suddenly disregarded the distance between them and kissed him, pressing his hot mouth against his for a split second, whispering that he should faint.

Don’t.

Hyungwon’s eyes widened and he felt the familiar rush of adrenaline, the irregularities of his heartbeat and tremble in his hand that was still holding onto the older man’s wrist. It was all there, just the way it was before he fainted, only that he didn’t.

Instead of feeling dizzy, his face felt hot, burning even and his thighs trembled. He hated the way it felt, unusual even though it was much less uncomfortable than fainting was. Biting down on his bottom lip, he couldn’t decide what to do, eyes frantically searching for something that suggested a solution. He glanced at the black eyes that watched him, just waiting for him to lose consciousness and make it easy for the older man. Hoseok would just throw him out and pretend nothing had ever happened, just like he had when he pressed Hyungwon against the wall and exhaled against his lips. His gaze slipped down to look at the curve of Hoseok’s mouth, the mouth that had just touched his without warning.

“Why would you-” he began and felt pain from biting down too harshly, lips pulsating from the force he applied. His hand only tightened around the older man’s wrist, enough to hurt and his free hand grabbed a fistful of Hoseok’s silk robe, pulling at it. His face was burning, so he couldn’t be fainting now. He didn’t want to faint, not when Hoseok was only going to use it against him. “Why the fuck would you do that?”

"So that you stop asking questions. Why don't you faint? It was so easy before." Hoseok stared at him, gaze intense and reminding him of a snake.

“Maybe because you played with it a little too much, so that it left an impression,” he forced out, remembering the way the image of the older man’s face still returned to his mind once in a while, accompanied by the feeling of the tight grip around his torso and the subsequent hot air against his lips. He was sick and tired of it coming back and the blonde man only fueled his struggles. “Maybe it’s also because you’re not that scary anymore once you lift your bangs. Your eyes are almost cute.”

He wants to be scary, don’t let him, Hyungwon.

"The only one who is cute is you, foolish puppy. Fine, then don't faint, just go home." Hoseok started loosening his fingers around his wrist easily. "If you're trying to undress me, that's not the right strategy, you have to pull the belt not the collar."

“If you are still trying to make me faint, then you have to try harder,” he hissed, forcing his eyes away from the older man’s belt and returning it to the pale face. The difference in their skin tones became apparent the longer he stared at his fist and Hoseok’s chin and lips.

"Should I try kissing you again?" the blonde man elaborated while pressing down on his wrist to make him let go of his silk robe. Hyungwon had no idea how he could have forgotten about Hoseok’s strength, the sheer force he was able to apply if only he wanted to. Licking over his lips slowly, he contemplated on the best strategy to deal with the comment without giving in too much.

“I thought you didn’t like me, why would you want to kiss me?”

"To shut you up. You have soft lips too, so it feels nice." Hoseok fixed his robe and wanted to uncross his legs to stand up, but Hyungwon was right in front of him, preventing him from doing it.

“Why would you say that?” he muttered, licking over his lips again at the comment while he tried not to think about whether his lips were actually soft or not. It didn’t matter. “I- I thought you had somebody that you like.”

Smooth, you saw him hook up with a dude. He can’t like the girl enough to be faithful.

"Someone I like? I have no idea what you are talking about. Why do you sound as if you want me to kiss you again?" Leaning closer, the older man let his pink tongue slide over his lips and looked up at him. Hyungwon couldn't help the relief that it wasn't split.

“Bullshit,” he hissed, but his face felt hot again, burning in his cheeks and along his neck towards his ears. His heartbeat was irregular too and Hyungwon almost missed the sensation of weightlessness that accompanied fainting. At least he knew what was happening to him then.

"Blush suits you, puppy." The blonde man smiled at him and lifted his hand, stroking over his cheek for a split second before moving back on the bed to get up. Hyungwon didn’t dare to move, eyes wide and disbelief written all over his face. The heat only increased and he sucked his lips into his mouth to focus on something else, to look anywhere but at the blonde man.

He’s right, you should leave. He’s taking control again and won’t let you take it back. Not today.

He gasped, feeling impossibly uncomfortable and slipped towards the edge of the bed with his long legs, letting them touch the wooden floor as he finally dared to look at Hoseok again.

"Just forget that you were here and let's enjoy tomorrow, unless you want me to continue doing things you don't like." Skillful fingers opened the belt and Hoseok let the black fabric slip down his shoulders, pulling jeans over his muscular thighs and grabbing a black shirt. The boa on the broad back looked as if it was moving along with the blonde man.

“Can I see it from up close?” he heard himself ask, eyes focusing on the black lines and body remaining rigid at the edge of the bed.

"What?" the older man asked, glancing over his shoulder until he realized the focus of Hyungwon's gaze. "You can, if you like."

Since Hoseok didn’t move towards him, Hyungwon concluded that the older man expected him to move. It felt strange to stand up and make his way towards the broad figure, covered by black ink and half naked. He had no idea what he had been thinking apart from the desire to look closer, maybe even to understand something from the tattoo itself, without needing Hoseok to tell him about it.

He stopped right in front of the muscular back, examining the detailed lines and the motions of the boa. The work was impressive, even Hyungwon with his lack of experience with tattoos could tell.

“It’s impressive, it moves with your shoulders,” he muttered and didn’t even realize when his index and middle finger already reached out and touched the head of the snake, stroking the area between its eyes. “Where did you get it done?”

"Tibet," the low voice whispered as the blonde man stayed motionless, only slightly reacting to his touch. It felt different because he didn’t feel afraid or worried. After all, Hoseok had his back turned to him and there was no imminent danger, only the eyes of the boa that observed its surroundings.

Hyungwon decided to continue, moving past the snake’s head and along its long and powerful body that curled along Hoseok’s back and shoulders. The skin didn’t feel different, smooth and soft even though it depicted something as dangerous as a snake. Touching it took some of the fear Hyungwon hadn’t been aware of feeling towards the animal.

“It’s beautiful up close, not- not that scary anymore.”

"Boas are gorgeous animals, elegant and quiet," the older man said, flexing his muscles under Hyungwon's fingertips. He gasped, sound a little embarrassing as it echoed through the bedroom. But the effect was clear, the animal appeared to slide along Hoseok’s shoulders as if it decided to do so on its own accord.

“Is that why you like them so much?” he asked next and applied a little more pressure at the spot where the movement appeared, feeling a firm muscle. Something about the sensation evoked mixed feelings in his chest and abdomen and he held his breath to not make any more stupid noises.

"Yes. It's remarkable how they are able to come close slowly and silently before curling around the victim and killing it quickly. They know the pace to each step so well. I usually know it too, but I think you fucked up my pace," was the low reply as muscles contracted under his fingertips.

Hyungwon exhaled sharply through his nose, even though he didn’t mean to. His fingers travelled a little further, along the sides of the snake until he slipped lower again, close to the older man’s spine.

“Maybe that is because instead of slowly coming closer… I am the one who moved towards you,” he whispered, suddenly aware of how quiet and mostly dark it was around them. Hyungwon had only turned on the bedside lamp when he read and the lack of light became apparent when they were further away from the bed.

"I told you that you are foolish, puppy." Hoseok brushed through his hair, making the snake slide along his shoulders with the movement. "Have you looked enough?"

“I don’t know,” Hyungwon answered truthfully and swallowed down any other remark that could have possibly left his lips. His fingers didn’t obey and simply travelled lower, sliding along the waistband of Hoseok’s jeans. The boa didn’t reach that far.

What are you even doing?

He didn't have time to think as the blonde man turned towards him, lips parted and watching his expression carefully. Hyungwon didn’t know what Hoseok could see, but he hoped it wasn’t too much. His breaths sounded much rougher than he remembered them to be and the longer the black eyes passed over his features, the hotter his face felt.

“I should go,” he forced out, hand remaining lifted and trembling against the older man’s naked skin. Hyungwon pulled it away as quickly as he was able to.

"Definitely," Hoseok replied, covering his face with the black fabric that he pulled over his bare torso. "I'll accompany you down."

Hyungwon nodded instead of replying, fighting the strange feeling of disappointment inside his chest. He had never been interested in tattoos before and there shouldn’t have been a reason for developing the fascination now, for a symbol that stood for everything he had been fighting against. It couldn’t have been the tattoo, but Hyungwon didn’t really want to think about that yet. It was late and he was probably just as exhausted as the man in front of him who quickly slipped into his shoes and waited for him to follow. He did, sitting down on the floor and pulling on his sneakers as quickly as he could before silently following Hoseok out of his apartment. His real apartment.

The elevator brought them down in complete silence that was only interrupted by the opening doors. “It would've been better if you fainted,” Hoseok said to him while the doors closed, removing the sight of the almost black eyes staring from under the blonde bangs.

“It wouldn't have,” he whispered, even though the other man couldn’t hear it anymore.

The words were true, but somehow Hyungwon felt like the reason wasn’t the one he wanted it to be.

 

 ***

 

You'll need to move out.

The necessity of the action was clear, only that he felt annoyed because it had worked so well for the past seven months. If puppy hadn't found his real apartment, he could've concentrated his efforts on something more relevant.

"What are you thinking about?" Hannah asked, pulling on his fingers to return his attention.

"Whether you're happy that it worked out," he lied and smiled, nodding at the director of the German Press Agency who walked passed them and recognized him.

"Is he here yet? His talk is in forty minutes." His sister was visibly nervous, playing with her suit jacket and rubbing over her blush covered cheek.

"Yes, he went to the bathroom, he's probably nervous too, but don't worry, he's competent. Really." Leaning in, Hoseok rubbed Hannah's makeup in place and placed a kiss on her pink cheeks.

"I can't believe we have more media coverage than the huge demonstration a few weeks ago. It's even bigger than I've ever seen it before. Do you think it's the boa's doing? But then again, why would he want to have talks about climate change all over the news? Isn't he like super conservative? Ah, I would really like to know what kind of person he is. Do you think he looks like a snake?" Hoseok loved his sister, he really did, but the whole boa talk was getting annoying, the employees kept talking about the boa and his strategy, spreading rumors and making assumptions too.

Idiots.

He was so busy telling Hannah that he didn't know about any of it, that he only now recognized puppy who observed him from a few meters distance.

Hyungwon looked good, wearing the tighter pair of black jeans and a loose white button down, locks framing his small face.

"I don't know about the boa, but that's him," he murmured, pointing at the tall boy. His sister pinched his cheek for no reason and hurried over to Hyungwon with the brightest smile. She was a literal sunshine.

"Hi, thank you so much for agreeing to give this talk, it means a lot to me! I'm the head of Public Relations, Hannah Lee, but you can call me Hannah."

"Hi, I'm Hyungwon, thank you so much for this opportunity," puppy replied and stretched out his big hand to shake his sister's small one. The boy looked interested, eyes attentive as he examined Hannah's face. It didn't take long for a beautiful smile to appear on his face, spreading his full lips and lifting his cheeks.

“I know I shouldn’t say it, but I don’t think this event would be this big without my brother’s help. I’m so glad that he asked and you agreed. Have you found the catering and drinks? We also have rooms, if you need to prepare or just be alone for a while, just tell me!” Hannah smiled like a sunshine despite him pulling at her sleeve when she mentioned him. Instead of saying anything, he kept observing Hyungwon intently.

"Oh, he's your brother?" Hyungwon glanced in his direction briefly before returning his attention to his sister and smiling shyly. "I somehow assumed that you were married because of the last name. I can only agree, Hoseok helped me a lot and coached me throughout the preparations. I'm really thankful."

“Oh, he did? You must be close!” His sister turned to him and stared in disbelief. ‘He’s annoying,’ he muttered in reply, unsure what else to say.

“We made sure that there will be no censoring and I’m amazed by the media presence today. I have no idea how that happened, but we have this person in our company, you probably heard. He is very influential and does things undercover, so I guess it was his doing. Usually he does mean things, but this time I'm thankful."

"Yeah," the black-haired boy replied, glancing at him again. "I'm really thankful to that… person for making this possible. I heard that it'll be transmitted live, that's why there's no censoring. Thank you."

“Yes, I’m looking forward to your talk!” Hannah commented and smiled, before turning to him and pointing at the diversity exhibition. “You could show Hyungwon the LGBT artworks, you still have some time and I’ll take care that everything is ready for the talk, the press is gathering already.” Leaning forward, his sister put a ‘it’s okay to be gay’ pin onto his expensive suit and pressed a kiss on his cheek, giggling like a fool. God.

He watched, as the slim figure disappeared between old white men and turned towards puppy.

"If you are a snake, then your sister is a bunny," the black-haired boy whispered next to him and brushed through his curly hair while chewing on his cheek. He was a little amused, but Hoseok could tell that he was also nervous before his talk. How nervous became apparent as soon as big eyes focused on his pin. "Isn't- this event about sustainability and new energy concepts?"

Hoseok stepped closer and tilted his head, pointing at his pin.

“This event is called ‘Day for Future’ and covers topics like diversity, sustainability and health, you conservative little shit. Let’s go, I’ll show you some hot guys kissing on a canvas, you’ll be thrilled.”

"W-what?" Hyungwon stuttered but followed as soon as Hoseok made his way towards the exhibition. "I don't mind diversity, you can do whatever you want in the privacy of your bedroom."

“Do you know the most frequent argument that homophobic assholes like you mention? It’s ‘Do it, but not in front of my salad’. But you must also know the most frequent argument against wind-turbines. Namely: ‘Do it, but not in my backyard.’” Hoseok walked along the hallway towards the exhibition, showing gorgeous photographs and paintings, sketches and sculptures. He loved his sister so much for all the effort that she put into this.

"But the argument isn't the same, is it? What does doing it in front of my nose give you? Wind turbines cannot be built in people's bedrooms. I see what you mean, that people don't want things that make them uncomfortable close to them, I feel the same, but I don't understand why you would want to show your private life to everybody. I also feel strange seeing straight couples eat each other's faces in public." Puppy sighed and looked around, suddenly stopping at an oil painting of two men embracing intently. His eyes widened a little, but it didn't seem to be shock or discomfort this time.

“What doing it in front of your nose gives me? Freedom, puppy. Straight couples can do that without being looked at with disgust, whereas people who have a different sexuality, are bi-gender, or gender fluid have to deal with the accumulated discomfort thrown at them in the best case scenario. Worst case they’ll get death threats or are killed, even though it’s just attraction, joy, even love for some people. It’s positive feelings, you know?” Hoseok sighed and brushed through his carefully styled hair. The painting was gorgeous.

Instead of arguing back, the tall boy only hummed, arms wrapped around his waist as he kept examining the painting.

"I think I understand that," Hyungwon whispered and turned towards him, expression different from the way it had been a moment ago, a little affected even. Hoseok wouldn't have expected so much change from simply looking at a painting. "I understand the wish for freedom. I never thought about it that way, the fact that it's not only wanting to do it but knowing what reaction accompanies doing it. Do you get nasty looks when you are with somebody you love?"

Somebody you love.

“It’s been a long time since I was with somebody I love,” he whispered, looking at the photograph that was right next to the painting. It showed two dancers. “Attachment is the worst, however, that’s not the point. The point is, that I am apparently not allowed to behave in the same way others do, only because of my sexuality. Like sitting next to you in a car without you having a mental breakdown because you fear that I’ll drive you to the forest and fuck you, or whatever it is that your mental cinema shows you.” Hoseok glanced at the black-haired man, lips pressed together and feeling his anger return even though nothing really happened.

He really manages to make you angry easily.

"My head cinema is a problem that I have to deal with. It has nothing to do with you or what you do. It's a conclusion that my head made and now I have to deal with it and hope that I can teach it that it's bullshit someday." Hyungwon licked over his lips and closed his eyes for a few moments, only to open them again, as if he didn't want to see what happened behind his closed lids. Meeting his gaze, the tall boy inhaled sharply, as if he collected strength.

"I was sexually harassed by border patrol before my arrival in Germany and now I'm simply trying to deal with the consequences, it has nothing to do with you," the low voice whispered before Hyungwon walked past him, crossing the hall towards a sculpture of two women kissing that he examined with his arms still wrapped around his body.

“I am sorry that you had negative experiences, however, the problem is, that other people, who never harassed anyone can feel your discomfort, disgust and whatever it is. They don’t know about your experiences and they think you are like this because of them. I’m someone who gets angry, but others get hurt.” Hoseok sighed and crossed his arms. It felt weird to be so close to someone, talk about relevant and irrelevant topics, discuss and feel angry, amused, or simply good.

Are you getting attached?

If he was, puppy needed to be cut off as soon as possible. The only problem was that he couldn't remember what attachment felt like.

"I'm sorry," Hyungwon whispered and turned towards him, still standing close to the sculpture. "I tried to do something about it, but the type of insurance I get as a student costs a lot of money and I can already barely afford it. I can't pay for counselling, so I'm just trying to stay away. I don't mean to hurt anybody. It probably sounds like an excuse to you, but I mean it, I'm sorry, Hoseok."

“You don’t need to be. We won’t have any reason to see each other again after this.” He smiled and put his hand on the boy’s shoulder for a second, before removing it again and walking further into the exhibition.

He could hear the boy's steps behind him as he caught up with him and wrapped his long fingers around his bicep, showing much less hesitation than before.

"But why? I'm trying to get better, I didn't even faint when you kissed me yesterday. Have I upset you?" Hyungwon asked, voice so quiet that Hoseok barely heard it. The younger man was trying to be careful, lips moving more than that he actually produced sounds. "I was being serious about what I said yesterday. There are so many things you could do, Hoseok. I've never learned as much as I have in the past few weeks. I'm thankful for this opportunity and for everything else too."

He needs you for his goals, but they are not compatible with yours.

“I wanted you to faint. It’s not because of your attitude towards my sexuality. You didn’t upset me. You are too curious, you want to know things that I don’t want to show or talk about. You’re thankful, it’s amazing. Please use this opportunity to become known for your ideas and forget about me. You asked me whether I would fuck you over? I might, puppy. Stay away, you’ll get hurt.”

Big eyes remained focused on his as the tall boy let his fingers travel downwards along his arm until they curled around his wrist. It felt strange because Hyungwon didn't look afraid or worried, he only looked disappointed.

"So you want to break me?" the low voice whispered, exhales close enough to reach his face. "Is that the real reason for getting so close to me?"

“Oh, I was searching for you,” the environment minister exclaimed from a few meters away, giving him enough time to rip his wrist out of Hyungwon’s hold. “Do you have time to talk about the recent petition?” he asked, glancing at the boy briefly, before returning his attention to him

At this point you might have to change jobs.

“Yes, after the talk. I have to brief a speaker,” he murmured and gestured for Hyungwon to follow him to an empty hallway. Licking over his lips quickly while observing the retreating figure of the environment minister, puppy finally followed him, eyes attentive and lips a little parted.

As soon as he was sure that nobody saw them, Hoseok opened a door to an empty office on the left and pulled the boy inside, closing the door.

“You don’t want me to break you? Stop protesting. You can’t? Then stay away, wait to see what’ll happen and pay attention to who you’re friends with.”

“But what does breaking me give you, Hoseok? You were the one who told me what to put emphasis on because you know exactly why what I am doing matters. You know it, but still you follow through with what you decided beforehand. Are you a contractor? Are you following orders you were told in the beginning?” Hyungwon bit down on his bottom lip and glanced to the side before focusing his attention on his face again. “You were the one who told me to integrate information, to update what I know and what I argue for based on new developments. How can you tell me all that and not do it yourself? Do you really think that none of this matters? You can’t lie to me and pretend that you are following orders because you have way too much influence to not be able to act on your own.”

Why do you even have to explain?

“I’m a strategist, puppy. I have a goal, I reach it. That’s as simple as it gets. I’m not a contractor and I’m not loyal to anybody either. I have a strategy, I follow through with it. No attachment involved. Why? Just because. You have a bias in your thoughts, a misconception. You think I’m doing it because I hate you. You’re wrong. I simply don’t care.” Contrary to his monologue, he stepped closer, forcing the boy to press himself flat against the wall. Hoseok was losing his cold calmness so easily with him.

“But is this really what you want, Hoseok? You keep saying that you do it just ‘because’, but you are perfectly aware of all the sacrifices that you make for this. You have two apartments, live a double life, don’t allow anybody to see your real self, remain on your own with the exception of your sister that you seem to care about. You don’t even tell her what it is that you are doing or how you are living, do you? Why? You don’t allow anybody close to you, not even the people you care about or that call themselves your lover. You can’t tell me that this makes you happy.” The black-haired boy was trying to mingle with the wall, curly hair spreading out over the white tapestry, but still he dared to talk back to him, gaze stern. Hyungwon’s hands were brushing over his chest and disregarding the few centimeters that had still remained between them because Hoseok hadn’t closed the distance yet. “You wouldn’t be getting angry if you really didn’t care, Hoseok.”

He's trying to touch you to make it seem as if it's intimate. That fool.

“It’s because you don’t understand. Everything you do is drenched in pointless emotion and attachment, even now you’re worrying about my lifestyle for nothing. Those are the decisions I made, I’m aware and absolutely fine with it. You like what I taught you? Then just use it to improve instead of telling me how to live. That’s precisely the reason why I’m doing just fine and you are here, pointlessly attached to something that I created for you. Don’t come too close, the boa might get angry and break your neck without any foreplay,” he hissed, staring into Hyungwon’s big eyes and hoping that he finally understood.

“I’m not afraid of the boa,” the low voice whispered as the slim boy didn’t move, body remaining flush against the wall and bottom lip trembling slightly. It wasn’t fear as Hoseok had hoped, it was emotion, taking over Hyungwon’s face in a matter of seconds. “You said that there is only one person you care about. How far does that care go, Hoseok? Is it enough to be concerned about her well-being or do you only give her the things that she wants but ignore everything else? Do you care about her future? About the kind of world she is going to live in, the air she will breathe? I can tell that you do not care about yourself when it comes to this, but what about her? Caring about your family is the one thing I see us having in common, I don't understand how far this goes with you. You want people to be afraid of you, but why? Are you afraid of something yourself?”

It’s enough.

“My personal life is not any of your business. I don’t want people to be afraid of me, I don’t give a single shit about people, you fool. I only want you to stay the fuck away from me and I’m investing a lot, but you’re still here holding onto the straw that I held out for you. Drop it.” Exhaling against puppy’s trembling lips, he stepped back and fixed the fit of his suit jacket and pants, brushing his hair back and glancing at his phone briefly. “It’s your turn in five minutes. Use the stuff you just told me to talk conscience into someone who has one.”

“I told you before,” Hyungwon muttered as he made sure his shirt was in place too, long fingers brushing through his curls briefly. “If I knew how to give up I wouldn’t be an activist.”

Allowing himself only one more glance in his direction, the tall boy opened the door to the room they had been hiding in and disappeared down the hallway. The turmoil in his head didn’t fit to the fact that the most annoying stage of his project was about to end and he decided against watching the boy’s talk. There were other things that he had to do for it to have the best possible outcome.

He pulled out his phone, dialing a number and waiting for the low voice to answer.

"Pay special attention to the boy who will talk about climate change. Go to his demonstrations, write about him, I promise there will be something big soon," he said, before ending the call and typing a message to a different number. 'Start with five thousand,' he wrote and sent it off.

The boa doesn't hesitate, Hoseok. The boa wraps around its prey and constricts until there's nothing.

He walked towards his office while trying to forget every word that the low voice in his head tortured him with.

 

***

 

“One minute,” a man in professional equipment muttered next to him after a glance at a digital watch, heavy camera already adjusted on top of a muscular shoulder and directed towards him. Hyungwon had never had the pleasure of owning the undivided attention of so many people at once. Several businessmen sat among the padded chairs with their legs crossed and examined him intently, probably wondering what a young guy like him could possibly tell them.

You have a lot to tell.

Hyungwon’s hands were sweaty but luckily nobody was able to tell from the distance and he also didn’t have any notes to direct attention towards his hands. It was another recommendation that Hoseok had given him, pointing out the advantages of a hands-free talk. Even if less fluent it had a better impact than reading perfect sentences off a cue sheet.

A glance through the crowd was sufficient to show him that the blonde man wasn’t there, neither among the businessmen on the seats, nor close to the media. Even when Hyungwon identified Hannah, not too far from the podium and giving him a thumbs-up, he wasn’t able to make out Hoseok in the crowd.

He’s not here.

Hyungwon couldn’t quite tell why the older man’s absence upset him, after all he had been the one to provoke him and question his lifestyle and choices. It was only understandable that Hoseok had grown sick and tired of him and preferred to avoid his presentation and afterwards hopefully also him.

You can’t allow him to avoid you, you need him more than he can imagine.

A green cue card was lifted at the side, Hyungwon’s sign to begin and he stepped a little closer to the podium and lifted his gaze at the crowd, smile in place. Just as Hoseok had taught him, he began with a weakness, namely pointing out that he hadn’t been the first choice for the talk, but through lucky circumstances he ended up on such a big stage in front of a big crowd, talking about sustainability. Hyungwon was making his way from one point to the next with ease, showing personal photographs, of him and friends, the only pictures they still had of the place that had now disappeared from the face of the earth. It was an emotional topic that he struggled with, but he held his ground, just like he has always done whenever he told individuals about it.

The effect he wanted to create was visible in the shocked faces of the crowd and the wide eyes when he switched his slides and showed that everything they had just seen was gone, disappeared as if it had never existed before. It was the perfect way to keep the crowd's attention, focus their negative emotions on the reasons for the disappearance that he uncovered like a present, bit by bit.

He wanted you to make it educational, so it is.

Hyungwon presented the consequences and reasons for the disappearance of countries, obvious by showing beautiful graphics of earth temperature, of emissions and of water levels that kept increasing in the oceans. It was only reasonable that the earth had to succumb to the seas as soon as they decided to claim the land back.

When twenty minutes of his talk were over, he took a deep breath and observed the crowd, the curiosity that was still there. It was time for the main point, convincing the people around him that doing something about the current situation was a good choice, something that they benefited from as well. Hyungwon had spent days on end coming up with a strategy to convince the average white privileged person to give up on comfort for the greater good. Smiling, he thought of the apple that Hoseok had drawn on the whiteboard during his lecture and presented his plan, the way he imagined emissions could be kept in check while making it healthier to breathe, having more beautiful surroundings due to more greenery, having less stress from parking and benefiting from improved public transport that was for free. It disappointed him a little, but the point about paying less money fascinated several listeners the most, earning him a smile and a nod.

When Hyungwon spoke his final words, hands holding onto the podium tightly and voice loud enough to reach the last rows in the hall, he felt like fainting and forgetting about all the anxiety that mixed with euphoria into a potent ball of achievement in his chest. Cameras stopped rolling and people clapped, so loudly that Hyungwon still felt the echo of it even when the applause faded away and people stood up to make their way towards the buffet. Hyungwon didn’t expect an immediate change, that’s why he didn’t even feel disappointed when he saw a man holding a gigantic german fried sausage, before biting into it deliciously. Change wasn’t that fast, but it was on its way, beginning with a talk and continuing with returning thoughts of adjustment.

Stepping down from the podium, he almost ran into Hannah who was waiting for him, a big smile on her face.

"You did amazing! I cried two times and I'm not even mad about my makeup. I'm so sorry that it happened to you, oh my god and you are so young too, this is so sad." The woman talked, until she decided that he needed a hug and wrapped her thin arms around him, covering the air in cherry scent. Just like Hoseok's second apartment.

He must like it because of her.

“Well- at least my little brother doesn’t remember anything, so he’s fine,” he muttered, wondering if seeing the child in the photographs was what got to the slim woman. He hugged back awkwardly and wondered if he should help her with the mascara at the bottom of her left eye. It was the proof that Hannah hadn’t lied about crying, much unlike her brother.

"It shouldn't have happened at all, I'm so sorry. I'll tell Hoseok to stop driving the SUV and take the electric car instead." The woman smiled so brightly that it was contagious. "Did he say where he went? I haven't seen him."

“The environment minister wanted to talk to him about a petition,” Hyungwon pointed out and felt a little weird because his hands were still on the older woman’s shoulders. “But I am really happy that you want to change something. It means a lot to me, especially considering that you want to ask Hoseok as well. Thank you, really. It will already be a huge contribution. May I… help you with your mascara?”

"Did it smear? Oh my god, please. I don't want to scare off grumpy white men." She grinned and leaned forward, looking up. "Do you think you could help me make a plan of things I could do to be less of a bother for the environment? You seem really structured and competent."

Because Hoseok helped you to structure your thoughts.

Hyungwon nodded with a smile and reached out to brush over the black smudges under Hannah’s eyes. It wasn't difficult and he had done it for Sasha before, mostly when they were stalking Hoseok.

“Do you and Hoseok hang out a lot? His apartment smells like you,” he commented with a chuckle and stepped back to give Hannah more space.

The wrong apartment, but still.

"I wish we were, but he is so busy. I don't even know when he's not working. But you're right, I put the cherry candles into his house. I haven't been there for ages though, as we mostly see each other at work. He changed his job because I started working here, he had a very high position at the German Bank before." Hannah talked freely and acted so differently from Hoseok on so many levels."

Not even his own sister has been to his actual apartment.

Hyungwon couldn’t believe how anybody could be that secretive, even with their own family. If his brother needed it, Hyungwon would have done anything to make sure he was safe and taken care of. He doubted that Hoseok felt differently, but apparently the blonde man preferred to do that from a distance.

“This might be a strange question, but do you think he is happy? I’ve been thinking about it because he is very secretive and I can imagine that it’s pressuring after a while.”

"Oh, you seem to be worried about him. Are you close? Is that why he broke up with Gabriel?" Tilting her head, Hannah observed him with a smile before speaking. "I don't know if he's happy, I can't know because he doesn't talk about it. I think he had a very hard time, once, a long time ago and since then he has changed his lifestyle a lot. I mean, he was smart and super effective as a kid too, I'm two years older than him, so I can remember, but he was more… how should I put it… emotional? He was angry a lot and affectionate too, but it changed after he got hurt once and then that Tibet trip and yeah. I only hope that he's not making it too hard for himself, but he appears okay on the outside, so I try not to bother him too much and make sure to be next to him when he lets me. I ask him for help a lot, but mostly because I want to involve him. It's a trick." The black-haired woman grinned and winked at him.

He got hurt once and then everything changed after the Tibet trip. Interesting.

Hyungwon was thankful that the mixture of emotions in his chest wasn’t perfectly visible on his face, beginning with his reaction to the assumption that he liked men and had sexual interest in Hoseok and finishing with particularly interesting information that told him Hoseok hadn’t always been that distant and ‘without attachment’. Not even his sister was able to be close to him even though the older man had told him that she was the only person he cared about.

She’s nice and he cares about her, if you help her to be closer to him, then she might help you too.

“Well, concerning Hoseok and me I can tell you that I want to be his friend, but he’s very good at pushing people away. I’m sure you know.” Hyungwon smiled and gestured for Hannah to follow him to the buffet. He didn’t want to be the reason for the older woman to not get enough nutrients to make it through her work day. “I think you don’t need to hesitate that much. He told me that he cares about you a lot, so I am sure you can approach him and just ask him to go drink a coffee with you. I work at a pretty nice vegan cafe with special coffee, you could try that one out. We could even visit him someday, not give him a choice to be all distant and grumpy.” Chuckling, he grabbed something that looked like fancy cheese and took a careful bite.

"You're really nice, but… I'm a little scared to be honest. He is unpredictable sometimes and I'm afraid that I'll make a mistake and he'll cut me off, I've seen it enough times and I'm terrified, so I'll just stay with what he gives me." Sighing, the woman with curved lips stuffed a chocolate covered strawberry into her mouth.

Holy shit, even she is scared of him breaking off any kind of attachment.

“I find that difficult to believe. After all, he told me that there is nobody he cares about with the exception of one single person. He told me that person is you, even if he didn’t really want to admit it. I’m sure you are important to him and he won’t cut you off. You’re a sunshine, Hannah.” Smiling brightly, he brushed through his hair in the hope that his curls weren’t all over the place.

"That's so nice of you. Thank you for saying that, I'll pin my hopes on your words. I like him so much, you don't even know." Hannah's eyes looked teary and she compensated by stuffing two choco-strawberries into her mouth at once, chewing like a bunny.

Hyungwon decided not to comment on that. There wasn’t really anything he could say to a woman admitting that she likes her brother a lot and ‘me too’ just sounded plain weird, so he decided to take out his mobile phone and give Hannah his number. It was the best choice if she wanted to have some advice on what she could do and hopefully Hyungwon could motivate her to help convince others too.

“Just text or call me and I can come by and help you figure out what your options are. But I mostly have time in the late evening because I have to pick up my brother from kindergarten and take care of him. I hope that’s fine.”

"Sure! I definitely will. How old is your brother?"

“He’s four years old, super tiny and chubby, very much unlike me,” Hyungwon replied and smiled at the memory of small hands poking his calf and telling him that it’s like a hockey stick in a sports magazine. “Maybe you can meet him someday. He’d be happy, since usually it’s just me and my dad.”

"Oh… I'm really sorry, but I would love to meet your brother. But please tell me what he likes, so I can get him a present." Hannah smiled brightly and hugged him again. The slim woman was so different from her brother, Hyungwon barely realized that he had already revealed a lot of personal information that he was usually more careful with. It was impressive how easily Hannah was able to make him open up.

“Don’t worry about it, no matter what you get him he will be happy,” he commented and checked quickly whether he had everything before saying his goodbyes to the black-haired woman and leaving the company that he had spent the past few months demonstrating against. He felt light as a feather, as if he had achieved something with his talk and hopeful that the amount of people that demonstrated on the streets was going to increase in the next few weeks. If the talk was really broadcasted as far as Hoseok said it would and if it left an impression, then Hyungwon had just made a gigantic step in the right direction.

Fifteen missed calls and thirteen text messages told him that his best friend had seen the talk, congratulating him happily and asking when he planned on celebrating.

Hyungwon didn’t think of celebrating, at least not in the way Sasha had in mind. Making his way towards the closest bus stop, he quickly checked whether he had enough change for the way and jumped in as soon as the bus with the right number stopped in front of him.

First you are going to see him, whether he wants to see you or not.

Hyungwon didn’t want the talk to be their last meeting, so he curled his fingers around one of the poles and observed the way the stops kept changing, moving closer and closer towards his goal. Jumping out at the correct stop, he walked for about fifteen minutes, making his way past gigantic skyscrapers and cars that were better off remaining in their garages. Once he reached the already familiar building, he walked inside and stopped right in front of the security man, putting on the nicest smile he could manage.

“Could you please tell Mr. Lee that he has a visitor?”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Regret. Do you really feel regretful?

Hoseok wondered why a feeling that seemed almost forgotten with how rarely he experienced it suddenly returned full force, bothering him continuously and preventing him from making well informed and strategically clean decisions.

You need a different project.

It didn’t get much better after he stepped out of the shower and got told that he had a visitor. He was just about to tell security that he didn’t intend on having any visitors, as his phone buzzed with a text from his sister, informing him about her wish to create a charity campaign for the refugee home and asking him to be nicer to Hyungwon because she liked him. Fuck.

“I’m coming down,” he told the security guard, determined to strangle puppy and go to jail for a few years.

Why can’t he leave you alone? Why?

The black locks were the first thing he saw after the doors opened. He didn’t bother to step out and made a movement with his head, suggesting the boy to join him in the elevator. He didn’t look like it but his anger was boiling hot under his skin, fingers itching to punch something.

Hyungwon nodded briefly and slipped inside, back leaning against the railing as he examined the elevator at if it was his first time seeing it.

"You left early," the boy muttered and rubbed the sole of his sneaker over the floor. "Why?"

“I was busy, but I saw parts of your talk online and on the news that aren’t out yet. What part of my monologue about not seeing each other again did you not understand?” he asked after typing in the password and watching them lift from the ground and riding up to the 35th floor. It felt unreal, even though Hyungwon has visited him before.

Because it seems as if he's allowed to.

"I didn't miss it, I chose to ignore it." Hyungwon smiled carefully, as if staring at him cheered the tall boy up. "I'm glad that you saw it after all, I was a little disappointed that you weren't in the crowd."

He’s standing here smiling while you only need to bridge a few centimeters to bite him and wrap around his neck.

“You are such a fool. I guess it’s the sacrifice of evolution. What do you plan on doing now? Moving in with me?” Hoseok stepped out of the elevator and unlocked his apartment door, thinking about how bothersome it was going to be to find a place with similar security.

"No, but I hoped to make you a cup of coffee with my special ingredient and maybe I can even motivate you to lend me a book to read." Hyungwon's smile remained, but there was a little more uncertainty on the boy's face when he reached into his jeans pocket and took out the small dispenser that he had used at the vegan cafe.

“What is it? You can be sure that I’ll need exactly ten seconds to knock you out if you try to drug me and another minute to completely crush everything you worked for since you came here,” Hoseok hissed, glancing at the container in the boy’s hand. He was definitely not going to drink anything with any special ingredient. It wasn’t the first time people tried to get back at him.

"You're very suspicious of me for somebody who is as powerful as you are. You are aware of all the things you could do to ruin my life much more so than I am, so what could I possibly accomplish by drugging you?" The black-haired boy sighed and opened the lid of the small dispenser, pouring a mixture of spices on his palm. "I took some of this when we left home. It's spices that grow on some funny looking bushes and taste really good. Well, grew, I guess. They don't anymore, not there. They don’t exist in Germany, that's why I keep saying that the coffee is special."

You're suspicious because he is so close and doesn't want to leave. What the hell does he want from you?

None of it made sense, he wanted to go back into the shower and let the rain hit his face until there were no thoughts anymore. Or fly somewhere far away.

Maybe you can after all of this is over.

“What do I have to do, so that you finally understand that we won’t be friends? Should I let you come here and watch as you get more desperate every day? Or should I kiss you? But then again you didn’t faint last time, so it’s pointless. You think now that you’ve touched the snake it won’t bite you? The snake doesn’t care, puppy. It’ll sink its teeth into your neck and strangle you until your circulation collapses.” Hoseok isolated his index finger and brushed over Hyungwon’s neck, right over his jugular vein.

"Is that what you want to see?" the boy whispered and lifted his hand to curl it around his wrist. Hyungwon's skin was cool compared to his, probably because he came from the unusually cold weather outside. "Do you want to see me desperate? Do you want to see me faint? You keep saying that the snake won't hold back only because I've seen it up close. I don't expect it not to bite, I simply want to see it again."

His eyes widened after registering Hyungwon’s words. The unexpected reply that suggested a motive he hadn’t considered, not even once.

He wants to see you again? But he could also be lying. Just like you did, to gain his trust. He learns so fast.

“I don’t want to see you faint and I don’t want to see you desperate either, but I definitely will if you continue bothering me. You say you want to see the snake? Why?” Hoseok leaned closer and exhaled against the boy’s neck. “Did you know that a boa can sense heat with its lips?”

"It's fascinating," the low voice whispered right against his ear, breaths becoming rapid and warmth traceable against his skin. "The boa. It might be dangerous, but it still pulls me in."

Does he react to you? Don't repeat the same story all over again.

“Why are you out of breath? We took the elevator,” he murmured, leaning back slowly, but stopping right when their faces were next to each other.

He's excited because of the snake.

"You're the one who threatens to bite me and breathes down my neck. How do you expect me to react?" Hyungwon asked in return and sucked his lips into his mouth, big eyes travelling over his face until they finally settled on his eyes. A tender pink grazed his cheeks, visible despite the lack of illumination.

Pretty.

The only thing Hoseok had managed to do was to slip out of his shoes. Hyungwon still wore his and they stood in his dark hallway while the boy held onto his wrist as if scared that he would run away. He didn't know why he had let it come to this situation. He should've thrown puppy out, intimidated him, done something that made the boy understand that this wasn't a game.

This is ridiculous.

“I’d like you to run away, but you are still here holding onto me. Do you like me, puppy?” he asked, licking over his lips and feeling how warm the skin on Hyungwon’s neck was against his fingertips, jugular pulsating quickly against his index finger.

You really want to bite him.

"Isn't that obvious from me wanting to see you again? I told you last time that I don't want the talk to be our last meeting, so I'm here to make sure that it isn't." The boy's hands trembled but a small thread of self control kept it from being too obvious. Still, Hoseok was able to tell from the change in the grip around his wrist and the motion of Hyungwon's bottom lip. “Meeting you was a big change for me and you know what I think about change, Hoseok."

But you can't be playing around with him, he knows too much already.

“I’m glad, baby. But I won’t change my goals only because some puppy likes how a snake looks before it bites,” Hoseok whispered and asked himself why he refrained from doing something invasive, something that Hyungwon wouldn’t like, but the story with the border patrol interfered with his thoughts and he hated it. He hated that puppy had told him about his personal experiences and that Hannah wrote him that she liked him and he hated that it made him reconsider his actions.

Emotional involvement is the worst.

"I thought that snakes don't like distance, after all they need to be close to attack. Does the boa bite just as viciously if the prey comes willingly?" The boy's questions were metaphorical and another deep exhale revealed the effect he had.

"You have to come closer to find out, but the boa will never let you," he whispered before turning around and walking towards the wine fridge in his living room. He couldn't remember the last time he drank. He couldn't afford it if he had to work, to gather information or to drop puppy off at his house.

Why is he already part of your thoughts?

Shaking his head at himself, he poured the yellowish liquid into the prettily curved glass. Dostoyevsky’s 'Idiot' stared at him from the book shelf over the fridge as soon as he lifted his gaze from the glass.

Maybe it's the same with you. You're the idiot, caught in the emotions and unfulfilled wishes, trying to escape. Maybe you shouldn't have gotten involved with him.

But Hoseok was different, he didn't hesitate to bite when it was the right time.

"Do you like wine?" Hyungwon followed him into the living room and threw his slim body onto the gigantic couch, one hand stroking over the material while the other shook the container with the spices. "No coffee then?"

"I drink it because I need calmness to prevent myself from doing something foolish because you make me so fucking angry." Hoseok emptied the glass in one go and poured himself another one. "No. Keep your coffee for yourself."

"I make you angry?" Hyungwon tilted his head and shifted his feet so that he could throw his long legs over the armrest. He had managed to take off his sneakers before following Hoseok, thin white scars perfectly visible on the golden skin of his feet. "But I’ve done nothing yet, nothing apart from offering you coffee in the tradition of my home country." Puppy didn't know how to give up when it was time.

"And implicitly telling me to bite you," he added. "I can't believe I let you in again, I must be crazy."

But you advised the media and started the final stage. You didn't hesitate. You are ready.

Hyungwon's eyes widened a little as Hoseok mentioned being bitten, but the boy didn't move from his spot on the couch.

"Why is it so terrible to let somebody in? Doesn't the quiet drive you mad?" Hyungwon smiled and lay down completely, black curly hair covering the grey pillows. "I always think that I'm tired of noise and want it quiet, but once it's gone I suddenly miss my little brother's high pitched voice begging me to play with him."

You know that he has a brother and came with his father.

"I love the quiet. I have so much noise in my head that I need to stand under the rain for ten minutes to shut it out, to empty my mind," Hoseok murmured while thinking about sitting on one of the armchairs, but then sunk into the couch a meter away from puppy, stretching his legs out on the comfortable recamier.

Why would you care about his anxiety if he is an uninvited guest?

"I listen to loud music when I want to stop thinking, or read Murakami because he's very good at occupying my head," Hyungwon replied and arranged his arms above his curly hair. The boy's fingers almost brushed his thigh but a brief glance revealed that the brown eyes were shut, unaware of how close they were. "Your shower is probably as big as our bathroom."

"It's the size of the kitchen in my other apartment," Hoseok muttered before taking another sip of wine. "Why don't you just go home, huh? Aren't you exhausted after spending the night touching my back and the whole day at the event?"

Hyungwon didn't open his eyes, but Hoseok saw the boy suck his lips into his mouth for a few seconds as color spread out over his cheeks.

Someone is embarrassed.

"There is nothing but a bunk bed at home," the low voice murmured as puppy finally opened an eye and looked up at him, showing surprise at how close he was. "Even though you probably don't believe me, I still enjoy your company."

"What company? I'm only drinking and telling you to leave all this time. You could meet your friends instead. The ginger friend, she's the least likely to fuck you over."

Why would you say that?

"Fuck me over? You know Sasha? She's a sweetheart, but her parents aren't too fond of me, so I never stay over unless her parents are travelling again." The younger man shifted and turned around so that he was lying on his stomach, long legs in the air and chin resting on his palms. "Why would you think that my friends would fuck me over? I don't really have any other friends."

He's a fool, but that's not your problem.

"Just stay over at her place, love has no boundaries. Her parents won't be able to do much. It's definitely a better idea than hanging around next to a hungry snake." He grinned and emptied his second glass before leaning in and placing it on the black glass table.

"But I can make the hungry snake a sandwich," puppy replied and chuckled, smile spreading his round cheeks. "I'm not in love with her though, we're just friends. In addition, I definitely learn more when I'm next to the hungry snake." Chewing on his cheek, Hyungwon looked up to meet his gaze. "I'm… thankful for what you explained to me today while we were at the exhibition. The artwork was breathtaking."

Being thankful won't give him anything.

"The snake doesn't want a sandwich. It wants you," he whispered, before acting as if he didn't say it. "Hannah gave her best with the exhibition, researching, contacting artists and putting everything together. She did an amazing job."

"I was impressed too," the black-haired boy murmured and brushed through his hair, messing up the way it fell on the small forehead. "I've never felt that way while looking at art. Some of the works were really desperate and physically painful. The oil painting made me think a lot. It looked like a farewell embrace."

"It felt like one," Hoseok replied, sinking further into the couch. "Are you hungry?"

"It's okay, I don't eat much." Hyungwon shrugged and sat up suddenly, weight resting on his calves as he moved closer towards Hoseok and observed him intently. "But I'm curious about something."

"Don't be." Hoseok closed his eyes, before opening one and observing the boy's antics. He was pouting a little, disappointed by his quick reply without any further consideration. A few moments passed during which Hyungwon remained in place.

"Why…" puppy began eventually and moved even closer, almost exhaling against his cheek, "does the snake want me?"

Why is he such a fool?

"Why? Because it wants something and you're in the way, so it will bite you, move you out of the way and get what it wants. That's how it works, just that the prey usually doesn't crawl towards it with his pretty blushed cheeks and parted lips as if he can't wait to have the boa wrapped around his neck." Hoseok turned his head while speaking, gaze gaining intensity, simply due to the fact that Hyungwon knew so much about him. Too much.

If you were a hitman, you'd kill him now.

The boy's eyes widened and he reached for his cheeks, covering the pretty color with his big palms as he sucked his lips into his mouth, letting Hoseok's reply sink in.

"You said that the boa knows its pace. Maybe it's… just not time to bite yet." Hyungwon's words were careful and insecurity appeared, showing in his hands that fumbled with the fabric of his own shirt and his big eyes that didn't know where to look. "The prey isn't eager to be bitten, it- only wants to see the snake up close, reach out and touch."

He's delusional because he doesn't want to accept the facts.

"That's why I keep telling you that you're foolish. You want to see and touch it? Like last night?" He couldn't hide his disbelief at the boy's words, turning his body and pulling one leg under himself.

"Wait, I meant- well- I wouldn't mind seeing it. It was gorgeous." Hoseok could tell that puppy wanted to say something else first, caught off guard by him addressing the way the boy had touched his tattoo the day before. "I didn't feel anxious next to you yesterday. I was thinking about it, Hoseok."

"You looked more determined than anything else. I guess it's a survival instinct." Sighing, he lifted his hands to his hair and messed it up, groaning in frustration. "What do you want from me, puppy?"

The boy licked over his lips and looked a little unsure, fingers fumbling with his jeans this time.

"You told me that my reaction can be hurtful, the way I become anxious and try to stay away," Hyungwon murmured and glanced to the side, focusing on one of the paintings on the wall. "Even though I fainted before, I didn't yesterday. It seemed okay and I also don't feel as scared next to you anymore. As if I learned not to be. I wanted to ask you if... If you could help me again. Help me to abandon the anxiety. I don't want to hurt anybody, especially not if the person has been hurt enough."

You keep warning him to stay away from you and he loses his anxiety instead. What is this?

Hoseok crossed his legs on the couch, turning towards the boy and staring right into his eyes. "I'm not a professional, Hyungwon. I don't think I can do anything about your anxiety apart from fueling it."

"But I was terrified of you, Hoseok. The mere thought of being in the same room with you immediately reminded me of- it just made me want to run or become unaware. But yesterday I even dared to touch you. You even fucking kissed me, God." Hyungwon glanced at the few centimeters distance that remained between their bodies before looking up again, teeth settling in his bottom lip. "I was fine, angry that you did it to provoke me, but not terrified. I only felt strange, like I had to do something about it. It feels like it can be changed and you're the first person that makes me feel that way!"

What's with all these confessions?

It was way too much personal information, information he couldn't sort anywhere, words that only confused him and made him wonder what it was that Hyungwon really wanted from him.

"What do you want?" he tried for the last time, reaching out and grabbing the boy's round chin with his thumb and index finger, tilting his head so that they could look into each others eyes.

A gasp left Hyungwon's lips and he immediately reached out to hold onto Hoseok's forearm.

"Show me that it's okay, that nothing terrible will happen. I know that you can, you already showed me," the low voice whispered as Hoseok could see a spark of fear in the boy's eyes, the anxiety that was right there behind his eyes, simply because he grabbed the boy’s delicate jaw.

How can you show him that, if you're the one who will make the terrible things happen?

Instead of holding onto his chin, Hoseok brushed his thumb over puppy's jaw, prolonging the touch into a stroke over his cheek, the shell of his ear and down his neck.

"Like that?" he asked quietly, observing the movement of his pale hand on the boy's sandy skin that was so smooth to the touch, soft and easy to break.

Hyungwon's eyes remained wide, but his expression changed, making way for surprise as he loosened his grip on Hoseok's wrist. Swallowing once, the pretty boy nodded, cheeks regaining color and lips parting slightly.

He looks just like you when you saw a boa constrictor for the first time, fifteen years ago.

Smiling, he brushed over Hyungwon's slim shoulder and along his clothed arm, big hands and long fingers before returning his own hand to his lap and sighing.

What are you even doing?

"You resemble Hannah when you smile," he heard next to him as Hyungwon reached out and placed his big palm on his thigh. It was not quite enough to wrap around it. "It's beautiful."

It felt nice to hear that he looked like his sister, but it was also strange because it was personal.

He knows your weakness.

"Are you trying to make me weak by mentioning my sister?" he asked, lips pressed together.

"No, I told you before that I can't fight you, not even when you are weak. I talked to her today and she smiled a lot. It looked beautiful and I merely recognized it in you." Hyungwon shifted a little and removed his hand from his thigh, chewing on his cheek. He looked a little ashamed, cheeks gaining more color. "It was a pretty weird thing to say, sorry."

He's trying to get closer and tells you that he can't fight even though that is exactly what he's doing. Be careful

Hoseok was careful, but even if the boy wanted to come closer, the difference was that it appeared so helpless and not planned at all.

"I'm merely careful, just like you should be." Hoseok reached for the boy's hand and placed it back on his thigh. "You look as if you want to touch me."

"It's a little weird though, isn't it?" Hyungwon chuckled, but shifted a little closer nevertheless. The boy's long fingers felt warm against his thigh now, carefully applying pressure to his muscles. "But your body feels so different from mine. It's not comparable at all. I'm more…"

Nibbling on his bottom lip, puppy reached for his hand and placed it on his leg, close to his narrow hips. The action was sudden and Hoseok didn't need to look at the younger man's face to know that he didn't think before doing it, eyes widening a little once Hoseok touched the jeans-clad skin.

He lifted his eyebrow for a second before deciding to play along. The worst that could happen was puppy fainting, being terrified of him and never coming again which was at the same time the best possible outcome.

He curled his fingers around the lean muscle and stroked along the whole length of the boy's thigh down to his knee. Exhaling softly, he let his gaze follow the motion of his hand, spreading his fingers and travelling back up Hyungwon's thigh, but slowly this time.

The boy held his breath, lips pressed together and eyes following his movements until the gaze switched to his face.

"You keep telling me to be careful," Hyungwon whispered and pulled at his bottom lip with his teeth. "But I simply know that even if I was, nothing could stop you from hurting me if you really wanted to."

Bingo. Smart puppy.

"You know, but still you're here." Sighing, he removed his hand and leaned back on his arms, observing the younger man's eyes, his gaze that travelled along his body and the long fingers that still held onto his thigh.

"Because it doesn't matter whether I'm here. Not for getting hurt. You can do it independently, so I might just as well enjoy your company and learn something on the way." Hyungwon leaned back too, but kept his hand on his skin, warming it gradually. "Having you touch me wasn't a scary as I would have thought."

A groan followed and the handsome boy covered his small face with both hands.

"That sounded weird."

What the fuck are you doing here, Hoseok?

Hoseok sat up and wrapped his fingers around Hyungwon's wrist, pulling him closer to himself until there was only a little space between their bodies and faces. "Okay, listen, I'm not some kind of gay sex-ed class, okay? If you want to touch me, you should behave well. If you want to kiss me, I might agree to that too, because you're handsome and have plump, soft lips. You think I'm scary? Then please be scared and go home."

The black-haired boy's lips parted in a surprised gasp and he tensed up, not moving a single inch while he stared at him. Hyungwon’s knees sank slightly into the black leather of the couch, but his weight wasn't enough to make much of a difference. The white shirt lay flat against his golden skin and emphasized how slim his waist was, more so than his clothes suggested.

"Are you saying that to make me leave again?" Hyungwon whispered eventually, bottom lip trembling.

"What out of the three things I mentioned?" He made sure to not make the grip too tight, carefully brushing over the younger man's wrist bone with his thumb. The effect the tenderness had on Hyungwon was easy to observe, beginning with reduced tension in the boy's shoulders and a light pink blush that covered his cheek bones and partially his golden neck. Puppy hesitated to reply at first, but changed his mind once his fingers wrapped around Hoseok's wrist in return.

"You saying that I am pretty and that you would kiss me or let me touch you if I 'behave'."

"Would me calling you pretty make you leave? People usually like compliments, but fine, whatever it is you get turned on by. I simply can't create a picture of what it is that you want from me, so I'm trying to get this information and decide on what I'm going to do about it. In a strategic and calm way."

"Maybe I don't know myself." Hyungwon chuckled and used his free hand to brush through his hair while his thighs spread a little for comfort, stretching the tight fabric at his groin. "I cannot tell what will happen with you, but I'm also not afraid. Who knows, maybe curiosity will kill the cat this time too?"

Hoseok sighed while his senses took in the boy's slim frame, his hesitant touches, his words and his actions. "You know what, baby, I'll just give you a hug and call a cab for you," he murmured, wrapping his arms around the younger man for a few seconds, before letting go and looking around to find his phone that he must've left in his bedroom.

The boy didn't say a single word, only gasped when Hoseok hugged him. The touch was over as quickly as it began, but still Hyungwon remained in place, body in the same position Hoseok had left him.

"Will you come to the cafe?" Hyungwon asked as soon as Hoseok returned from the bedroom. He sounded hopeful. "I'll make you the special coffee."

No.

"Don't know," he lied, ordering a cab that was supposed to arrive in a few minutes. "Let's go, I'll accompany you to the lobby, the cab is almost here. Don't worry, it's paid for and the driver knows where to go." Hoseok glanced at the younger man before slipping into his shoes.

Hyungwon only nodded, whispering a quiet 'thank you' as he slipped into his old sneakers and followed him outside of the apartment and down with the elevator. The ride was filled with pleasant silence and he was grateful that puppy decided to keep quiet.

"Get home well," he said, shortly before the doors opened. Hyungwon looked crushed and he should have ignored it, but he pulled the boy into another hug instead. A soft exhale brushed along the skin of his neck and thin arms wrapped around his waist, fingers entangling with the fabric of his shirt. The boy hugged back with as much strength as he was able to muster.

"Don't try to get close to the boa, it won't be sad when you get hurt," he murmured before letting go just in time for the doors to open. "Good bye, Hyungwon."

"Maybe I want to see it for myself," the tall, black-haired boy whispered in return and stepped out of the elevator, waiting for the doors to close.

'I hate goodbyes,' Hyungwon mouthed right when the elevator prepared to leave again and the younger man turned around quickly, running to the exit of the building.

He returned to his apartment and looked at the couch Hyungwon lay on a few minutes ago, at the wine glass and the beautiful night view from the thirty fifth floor. His apartment was amazing, but boas had no attachment, so he said his silent goodbyes while looking around for one last time.

You need to move.

 

***

 

It feels like a farewell.

The cab drove through the still full streets of Frankfurt. It was only fitting considering that it was Friday night and most youths were outside partying, not ready to go home shortly before midnight. Hyungwon’s long legs were tightly packed into the space between the backseat and the driver’s seat, tight but just enough to not be uncomfortable. He hated cars, especially those that produced emissions, but he couldn’t get himself to reject something that the older man had already paid for. Hyungwon would have needed at least an hour to get home by foot, so it also saved him a few extra minutes of sleep before the next morning.

But your personal needs aren't worth sacrificing the planet.

It wasn’t the first time that he was on his way home after seeing Hoseok, but it felt different, unpleasant. Hyungwon would have even said that the feeling resembled the same one he felt when he looked at the oil painting several hours prior to their meeting. The way the two men embraced in the picture had something desperate and final to it. The touch was intimate, but it was clear that it was nothing lasting, a fleeting sensation that both individuals were going to miss.

Do you feel the same way, now that he also hugged you farewell?

Hyungwon wasn’t quite sure what to think. He had come to the older man because he didn’t want their talk to be their last meeting, their farewell. He still felt the same way now. He didn’t want to stop seeing Hoseok.

You want to keep meeting him, to learn, to enjoy his company.

Hoseok called him foolish, because he ignored the danger, but not knowing the danger would have made him foolish, not purposefully ignoring it. Hyungwon wasn’t stupid, he knew exactly how easily Hoseok could ruin his life, to rip everything he has worked on to shreds and even destroy the effect that his talk had a few hours ago. All of these things could easily become nothing if only Hoseok wanted it to.

But they didn’t. All this time had passed and he still hasn’t hurt you.

The blonde man hadn’t even rejected the petition when he was angry and wanted to hurt him. Hoseok hadn’t touched it apart from making it possible and providing effective implementation strategies. Even if Hoseok preferred to be seen as a boa, as somebody dangerous who should be avoided. Hyungwon couldn’t help the feeling that there was more to it, something that was almost graspable with his fingertips if only he got close enough.

You can’t give up yet. No matter how he feels about you, he doesn’t detest you and that’s something you can work with.

As long as there was at least the smallest hint of interest or tolerance towards him in the older man’s chest, Hyungwon had a chance to make a change. If only Hoseok allowed him close enough he might be able to show him everything he was capable of, the changes that he could implement through his contacts alone. The improvements that could take place through his involvement.

Hyungwon’s hands trembled from the thought alone, the knowledge that somebody like Hoseok had so much power to change the world for the better, but decided not to use it.

Instead he eliminates competition even though he doesn’t even care about the company he does it for.

Hyungwon struggled to understand the older man sometimes, to grasp what motivated him apart from taking care of his sister and being the boa, the one person that had control without being in the spotlight and ripped people to shreds before they even realized the danger.

That’s what he means, isn’t it? Once you realize that he is going to hurt you, it will be too late.

Hyungwon knew all that. He was perfectly aware that Hoseok wouldn’t have come to him for nothing. But the knowledge didn’t mean there was much he could do about that fact. Hoseok knew everything he needed to know to hurt him and Hyungwon had no possibility of stopping work at the cafe, not if he still wanted his family to survive for another month. Even if he wanted to protect himself, there was no way to do it without compromising his family, so he wasn’t going to do it.

You can only be yourself and hope that it will be reason enough to change his mind.

The cab stopped at the familiar courtyard and Hyungwon smiled at the driver as he climbed out and brushed through his hair, immediately freezing in the cold air. It was June, but still the night didn’t remind him of summer.

Hoseok felt like a mystery, even after Hyungwon had found out so many things about the other man. Still it was difficult to understand his actions, why he would let Hyungwon in and keep telling him that he was in danger, but not do anything to support his words. Hoseok kept threatening him, but without actually acting on it.

It’s as if he’s scared to have you next to him, but he also can’t get himself to do anything about it.

Chewing on his cheek, Hyungwon hurried up the stairs and snuck into the one room apartment that he shared with his family. The window was opened despite the chill air and he closed it quietly, worried that the little one would catch a cold. A brief glance at the bottom bed revealed naked arms and legs and a blanket that lay at the side. Hyungwon quickly covered the small body with the big blanket and pulled his own clothes from his body, throwing them on the tiny heap of things that belonged to him. He was going to wash them in the morning and hoped that they dried while he wore others. A brief glance at the tiny table close to their beds revealed a note. It carried his father’s writing.

‘We’ve seen you on TV. I’m proud of you, Hyungwon’ it said in his mother tongue.

Hyungwon’s bottom lip trembled but he swallowed the accompanying emotions, quickly taking the piece of paper and turning it around. He couldn’t remember the last time his father had spoken more than a sentence to him, too occupied with his own demons.

Inhaling sharply, he hid away in the bathroom and washed his face a few times to get rid of the hurt. The small note only added to the feeling of loss that he carried in his chest since Hoseok’s embrace in the elevator. He hated goodbyes.

You’ve said goodbye often enough already.

He brushed his teeth quickly and took a quick shower to not make his bed dirty. Curling up in the thin blanket on the top bunk above his brother, he stared at the ceiling and thought about what was going to happen now. Would he feel the difference that the talk made tomorrow already? His family saw him on the news. Did that mean that people cared enough to talk about it? To care about the environment?

Hope burned in his chest and plastered a smile on his face. Even Hoseok’s sister had been fascinated by the changes she felt capable of after his talk and Hyungwon felt positive that she wasn’t the only one thinking that way. Maybe he would even be able to convince Hoseok, to show him how much he alone could do for the environment.

The expression on the older man’s face suddenly returned to him, the black eyes that observed him intently as the elevator doors closed. Hoseok had told him to give up and stop attempting to come close to him, not unless he planned on getting hurt.

Hyungwon didn’t plan on getting hurt, nobody ever did. Hurt was something that happened subconsciously, without control and preparation. Even if Hyungwon could prepare himself for the hurt it wouldn’t change much. The preparedness definitely wouldn’t make it more bearable. He knew that Hoseok could hurt him. He realized that the blonde man kept warning him about it every single time they met, each time Hyungwon showed interest in Hoseok as a person and attempted to get even closer, to stroke along the boa’s body and see what would happen.

If Hoseok wanted to hurt him, then he was going to do that. Hyungwon had only one feeling that he was relying on, the single experience that had repeated every single time they met until now.

No matter what he says, there is something that he likes about you.

Hyungwon didn’t know what it was, not at all. But he knew that it might make a difference in the end, give him something to step even closer, close enough to stroke over the boa’s head and show it the cage that it was living in.

_

 

Hyungwon woke up to small hands pulling away his blanket and holding his phone into his face, way too close to be able to tell what it said.

“Wake up,” his brother’s high-pitched voice muttered next to him, speaking his mother tongue and almost immediately grabbing his attention. Hyungwon heard it so rarely that his brain was tuned to it. Jimin pulled at his blanket and uncovered his chest, allowing cold air to make contact with his naked skin. Groaning, he reached out to hold onto the warm fabric, heated up throughout the night. His cheeks were burning a little, but that was courtesy of his dream.

Why would you dream about running your hands over his tattoo, Hyungwon?

Sucking his lips into his mouth, he sat up quickly. It was the most effective way to prove to the little sunshine that he was awake and wasn’t planning on sleeping anymore. Jimin didn’t seem to care much and immediately climbed all the way on top of his bed until he was sitting on his side and sticking his phone into his face again.

“Hyunwon, your phone rings lots,” the little boy exclaimed, still mispronouncing his name and wiggling his arms in excitement. Hyungwon smiled and accepted the device, hoping that it hadn’t woken anybody up. He had apparently been too occupied with running his imaginary fingers over Hoseok’s equally imaginary tattoo. He wasn’t too sure why he would dream about it, he rarely dreamt about things that happened, mostly it were dreams about their run or crossing the borders. None of those dreams made him feel as hot and embarrassed as he felt now.

Like when he brushed over your thigh with his hand, your face was also burning like this.

He groaned and rubbed his cheeks, hoping to rub his thoughts away along with the signs of sleep in his eyes.

He was liking the switch in sensations too much. The heat was embarrassing, but it was almost addicting compared to the terror he usually felt. Thinking about the times when he fainted or felt close to losing his consciousness, the way he reacted now was much more pleasant.

You weren’t joking when you told him that you’ve never felt like this. It’s almost as if he can make you feel okay, not so scared.

He smiled to himself until a fat pillow hit him in the face and a tiny fist punched right between his ribs. It hurt like a bitch and he hissed in pain, glaring at his little brother who looked frustrated and attempted to explain that something was up with his phone. A little bit of German already mixed into his speech and Hyungwon swallowed down the spark of sadness in his chest.

“I’ll look, I’ll look,” he muttered and lifted the screen to his face, eyes widening in surprise at the countless messages from Sasha in addition to missed phone calls and notifications for emails on his official email account. Hyungwon couldn’t believe it. It felt like he had become famous or something, only because of a single talk. Most of the emails were from news outlets that wanted to interview him on what he thought was important for the fight against climate change and what was necessary to achieve the goals. It felt insane and Hyungwon didn’t even think that he had enough time for all of this with lectures and working at the cafe. His exam period was coming up and he was already suffering from lack of sleep and an apparent desire for an early death as Hoseok would probably describe it.

You have to tell him. This is amazing.

“Oh my god,” he whispered to himself and tried to figure out when he would be able to go to Hoseok’s apartment again. Definitely not before midnight. He still had several lectures and a shift at the cafe at the end of the day. It was exam period, so more people came to work on their thesis papers while drinking a cup of coffee, even later in the day. There was so much stuff, but Hyungwon couldn’t allow himself to feel stressed or overwhelmed. He only felt like running all the way over to Hoseok’s apartment again and wrapping his arms around the older man’s neck to thank him for everything. For the chance to speak and for all the media coverage that he allowed him to have.

“Papa says that god doesn’t exist,” Jimin whispered, but Hyungwon only smiled at him briefly, not feeling ready to elaborate on atheistic views of the world. However, he didn’t need to as his little brother lifted his small body and prepared to climb back down from the bunk bed, lips pulled together in a pout. “He said if god was real, then mom would also still be here.”

Oh no.

Hyungwon froze, fighting the way his emotions plummeted despite the euphoria only seconds ago. He quickly glanced down to see if their father had heard, but he was out of hearing range, brushing his teeth in the bathroom.

“It’s because dad is very sad that she left. I am too,” he whispered, hoping that it was enough to explain why their father would make such a comment to a four-year-old without explaining.

There was nothing else he could have said to that, so Hyungwon didn’t, only smiling briefly and making sure that Jimin didn’t fall on his way down. Big round eyes stared at him, but quickly got distracted with the note that Hyungwon had found the day before and left upside down on the table. It must have fallen down.

“Let’s get you to kindergarten,” he murmured finally, hoping that the little boy wouldn’t mention the note or their father’s words anymore. Only when he had taken Jimin to kindergarten and hurried to catch the next tram to the cafe, did he dare another glance at his phone, smiling at the additional registrations for their sustainability campaign.

You have to show him what he enabled you to do.

 

_

 

Smiling widely, he hurried down the streets that led to the tall building that Hyungwon already recognized without looking around. He felt pretty sure that he could imagine the view out of the gigantic windows when he closed his eyes, gorgeous and making him feel small in comparison.

Entering the spacious hall, he looked for the security guard and hoped that he wasn’t going to reject him because of his non-formal attire. He couldn’t wear the clothes Hoseok had given him all the time, so he would have to deal with what he had.

“Could you announce my arrival to Mr. Lee?” he requested and played with his hands, unable to help his excitement. His head was busy formulating how he was going to share all the things that happened with the older man. He didn’t manage to see Hoseok immediately, too busy with the cafe and a student that stayed longer than necessary and additional homework that he was behind on. Now Hyungwon had finally managed to catch up and didn’t care about the hours of sleep that he was probably going to lose because of being with the older man. It was okay, worth it because Hoseok had given him so much.

Not only the knowledge, he also takes some of your fear even though he’s so convinced that you should be terrified.

Instead of contacting Hoseok like the last time, the security guard looked surprised.

"Oh, unfortunately you missed him by an hour. He doesn't live here anymore, I saw him bring the rest of his documents down." The older man smiled and returned to his lists that he examined intently.

What?

Hyungwon stared at the middle-aged man, waiting for him to admit that it was a joke and Hoseok simply didn’t want to see him anymore, asking the security to lie for his sake. The guard didn’t even lift his gaze, drawing pointless circles next to a bunch of names.

“Did he request to not be disturbed anymore? That’s it, right? He didn’t actually move,” he murmured and tried to look for a hint of a lie on the guard’s face, but he only looked mildly annoyed by his questions.

Of course he is, probably doubting that you understood what he said.

"No. The apartment is for sale, but I don't think it'll be available for long, Mr. Lee left all the furniture inside, so I guess somebody will buy it soon." Nodding briefly, the man gave him a sheet of paper with the offer to buy the apartment for three million euro. "You don't look like it, but maybe your friends have an interest in purchasing it. The price is really good."

Hyungwon stared at the sheet with the ridiculous amount of zeros and pictures of the living room that he had been sitting in only a few days ago, watching Hoseok drink way too much wine while telling him to stay away.

It was a farewell embrace. Your feelings didn’t betray you.

Hyungwon swallowed and merely nodded at the man, mumbling something meaningless about showing it around as he turned around quickly and made his way out of the building, fingers crumpling the bleached sheet of paper without meaning to. He wanted to scream out loud in frustration, but it wouldn’t have gotten him anywhere, especially not with somebody like Hoseok.

You got too close, so he made sure to bring the distance back. Too close to bite.

He dropped the paper to the ground and reached for his phone, fingers trembling in the attempt to choose Hoseok’s number from his contacts. Holding the device to his ear, he held his breath and listened to the other end of the line. There was nothing, only a voice telling him that the number couldn't be reached.

He blocked your number, just like with his fucking ex-boyfriend.

Hyungwon lifted a hand to his hair and ruffled it up, back clashing against a wall as he leaned against it and tried to catch his breath, think about what to do next now that he had no chance of contacting the older man. He could try to find out where he lived again, wait for him after work, but he couldn’t afford to miss hours. He had already skipped enough work hours for the first few days during which Sasha and him attempted to find out where Hoseok really lived. He couldn’t afford it anymore, he couldn’t even find out if Hoseok still went to work.

He could do anything, nothing is holding him back.

It was a scary thought, much more so than Hoseok hoped to be himself. Hyungwon hadn’t been afraid of Hoseok as a person, not at all, only of what he could do once he decided to, once he had enough distance and ignorance towards him to move on and carry through with what he wanted to do.

You have to go home, check if they are okay.

Hyungwon ran like crazy, jumping into the first metro home while trying to reach his father. He didn’t pick up, but he never did.

What if something happened, what if they were confronted because you work illegally?

His lungs burned, but Hyungwon wasn’t even sure that it was because he ran, sprinting along the streets as soon as he reached his stop, all the way until he finally saw the refugee home from afar.

Please let everything be alright.

The fear wasn’t new, it was painfully familiar but different. It wasn’t the anxiety and the terror that had forced Hyungwon to faint before, it was the helpless type of fear, the way he felt when he had to run for his life, struggling to breathe as he crossed bodies of water while holding a small boy above the surface, getting hurt in the process.

He only stopped running when he reached the courtyard and was blocked by a gigantic truck. There was laughter and lights, people talked in different languages and a pleasant female voice kept commenting that there was more. As soon as he walked around the truck he could see the incredible amount of boxes that were handed out to his neighbors while a short figure in blue jeans and a black shirt held his brother in her arms and pointed at the boxes that a few men distributed. Only when the black-haired woman turned towards him, did he recognize Hannah's beautiful smile while she pointed at him, showing his little brother.

"Look, it's Hyungwon!"

Hyungwon’s eyes widened, but he couldn’t help the remaining fear in his chest as he quickly made his way towards Hannah and Jimin and wrapped his arms around the little boy, placing a kiss on his round cheek. He looked fine, but he had to make sure, his adrenaline didn’t allow him to do anything else.

“Are you okay?” he whispered quietly, aware that Hannah couldn’t understand, but he hoped that she forgave him. Jimin nodded quickly and smiled widely, lifting up something that looked like a miniature car that he attempted to drive over Hannah’s shoulder. “Car,” he exclaimed in German and nodded like he made a very intellectual contribution to their conversation. The relief was instant and Hyungwon wasn’t surprised when he couldn’t find his father among the crowd. He had probably sent Jimin down, inconsiderate of the fact that he was only four years old and couldn’t even carry one of those boxes.

She’s giving out rations, isn’t she?

“What’s going on? How come you are here, Hannah?” Hyungwon finally asked, taking Jimin from Hannah’s arms and meeting the woman’s eyes. Now that he paid attention he could tell that there were quite some similarities between her and Hoseok.

"Oh, sorry that I didn't tell you, I coordinated a charity event at the company and the employees donated so much that we spent some of the money to buy clothes and toys for our fellow neighbors here and next Friday we wanted to do a summer celebration in the yard, I already organized the food and talked to some of those guys who would like to cook something nice in addition. The benches are also reserved, so you'll see me again, I guess." Smiling brightly, the slim woman hugged him. "Your brother is such a beautiful kid, we communicate well with weird car noises but I also meowed."

Hyungwon chuckled at how nonchalant Hannah was about this. She didn’t seem to mind the language barrier at all, the fact that she could barely understand the people around her and most of them couldn’t even express their thoughts or needs. Somehow that made him respect the slim woman so much more, her effort and interest in a community that everybody else preferred to ignore.

“You’re amazing,” he muttered, still overwhelmed by everything that Hannah had organized in such a short time. “Jimin isn’t shy, but he doesn’t speak German yet.”

He turned to the little one and smiled briefly, explaining to him that Hannah was the sister of a good friend and brought a lot of presents. The wide smile was priceless as Jimin said thank you, but not in German.

He’d make fun of you for calling him a friend, telling you that he’s dangerous.

“He’s thankful for the presents and so am I. It means a lot, Hannah. I don’t know how to thank you or what to do to be honest. Does Hoseok know?” Discomfort returned to Hyungwon’s chest at the realization that the blonde man was gone, somewhere he couldn’t reach him, but the woman in front of him still could. She knew.

"I mentioned it but he’s been busy during the past few days, always on the phone or gone, so I couldn't really make sure he understood. But he donated the most, so I guess it kind of counts. Throwing around money without carrying boxes is a shit move but he knows." The black-haired woman signed and pulled at the sleeve of her shirt.

He was busy with organizing his move, wasn’t he?

Hyungwon chewed on his cheek, bitter about the fact that the older man had cut him off so easily, without a single word. Only an embrace that hadn’t told him what was going to happen yet. Hoseok probably knew exactly what he was going to do, that he would move and not allow Hyungwon near.

“I haven’t seen him for a while, I had hoped to meet him, but you say he’s busy,” he muttered and let Jimin down when he began to pinch his arm and attempt to drive the car further than he could reach. Having the little boy around didn’t allow him to relax, eyes immediately switching between Hannah and him to make sure he was okay.

"Oh, but he's always busy, Hyungwon, it's nothing new. You need to get yourself your time with him. I was at his place yesterday, unannounced, and brought him new candles, he used them all up." Proud of herself, the slim woman leaned down, grabbed a box and hurried to a tall man and handed it to him, smiling brightly and nodding.

Hyungwon was grateful that Hannah was distracted with his neighbors, eyes widening as he understood what the older woman visiting her brother unannounced really meant.

It means he was there, at his second apartment.

If Hoseok used up the candles that also meant that he was there for longer than usual, actually sleeping there without having to drive anywhere in the end.

That’s why he always brought you home, he had to leave anyway.

A smile pulled at the corners of his mouth, returning some of the relief that he had felt as soon as he saw that his little brother was fine. He still had a chance to contact Hoseok, he only needed to be fast. There was no way that the blonde man would allow himself to stay at an apartment that too many people knew about.

“I’m proud of you,” Hyungwon remarked when he joined Hannah and helped to hand out boxes to his neighbors, smile remaining on his lips. He couldn’t believe that his advice to the black-haired woman was what enabled him to know that Hoseok stayed at his second apartment in the end. “You should keep visiting him unannounced, making sure you also get your fair share of his time. I’ll try to do the same.”

You have to be fast Hyungwon, get too close to bite again.

"I will do my best. I still think about your talk a lot." Hannah looked in thoughtful, glancing somewhere past him. "Ah, I'll be here for at least two more hours, so you can visit him if you like and I'll take care of Jimin. I saw your room as we carried the box up, so I can bring him back, if you're okay with it. And please tell Hoseok to pick up his calls."

Holy shit.

Hyungwon would have laughed at Hannah thinking that he had any more luck reaching the blonde man via phone, especially considering that he had been blocked now. But he was too busy with his chest bursting from happiness. He couldn’t fucking believe that Hoseok’s sister was nice enough to offer to take over his responsibilities, only so he could go and see Hoseok.

You can be sure that you’ll see him, he only moved out for good today.

“Fuck, thank you,” he cursed and reached out to wrap his arms around her briefly, squeezing tight before he let go again, lips sucked into his mouth. “Thank you, really. It would be all kinds of amazing. I mean- he’s not even your child. Only if it’s alright. He’s not problematic, if you bring him back to the room, he’ll be fine and stay with dad. I’m sure my father will put him to bed, he does so every night.”

"I really want to spend time with him, we get along well! I'm not creepy, I swear!" Hoseok's sister meowed and picked his brother up, twirling him around while mouthing 'go'.

Hyungwon hesitated for a brief moment, wondering if he should explain to Jimin why he was leaving, but then the little boy would only be disappointed again, possibly even want to come along. Nodding quickly, he inhaled sharply and ran, hurrying right back to the tram stop he had come from. It wasn’t that late yet and he was lucky to be able to take a tram for most of the way. Going back would be the bigger problem since he needed over an hour by foot.

Think about that after you’re inside, you don’t even know if he’ll let you in.

Hyungwon’s hands were shaking and he attempted to control it by wrapping them tightly around a pole and counting down the stations. He didn’t know what to say yet apart from telling Hoseok that he should pick up when his sister calls. He was a little angry too, but screaming wasn’t going to get him the older man's address, only ignorance and avoidance.

You have to be honest about this.

So far telling Hoseok the truth had been the best choice, explaining his confusion and his strange obsession with wanting to be friends with a boa. Hoseok had an interesting way of seeing himself, as if the older man used the metaphor to keep himself away from others.

Even when he was standing in front of the familiar bell, aware of the previous times he had been here, Hyungwon didn’t feel calm.

This is where he threatened to kiss you, wrapping his arms around you and pressing you to the wall.

It couldn’t have been a dream, Hyungwon knew now. He still couldn’t believe that Hoseok had lied to him, smoothly changed everything only to pretend that it hadn’t happened.

Because he revealed too much, but it doesn’t matter anymore.

Holding his breath, he pressed the bell and turned so that the camera at the top wouldn’t be able to see him. Hyungwon couldn’t give Hoseok the choice to not let him in.

Because he will take it.

A few long seconds passed before the older man buzzed him through. As soon as he arrived upstairs, he could see that the door was slightly open, however, there was no sign of the older man.

Is he expecting you?

Hyungwon's eyes widened, but Hoseok couldn't have known that he was on his way. There was nothing suggesting it and maybe the older man had been expecting someone else. Walking into the apartment, he carefully closed the door behind himself and untied his sneakers, arranging them next to Hoseok's leather shoes. It was quiet and he hesitated to walk through to the living room at first, feeling his hands become clammy.

Calm down, you wanted to see him and share with him, now you can.

Taking a few more deep breaths, Hyungwon brushed through his hair and stepped into the living room, looking around. He didn't hear anything before something pressed against his mouth, chest and arms, immobilizing him and holding him so tightly that he was barely able to breathe.

"What are you doing here?" the low voice hissed into his ear, almost sounding like a snake.

He's going to hurt you.

Hyungwon's eyes widened and he attempted to suck air into his lungs but failed because of the crushing grip around his chest. Hoseok loosened his fingers around his mouth a little, barely enough to enable him to speak.

"Hoseok, don't-" he forced out as the almost forgotten sensation of cold sweat and fear returned full force, body beginning to tremble as he hyperventilated and felt his anxiety take him over.

The grip around his chest loosened too before the older man turned him easily and pressed him against the wall, staring at him with his pitch black eyes.

"Don't what? So you can ignore what I tell you, coming here even though I told you not to? I almost knocked you out because there is someone who looks similar from behind, but your clothes gave you away."

Hyungwon gasped, still struggling with the fear in his system even though he knew that nothing was going to happen now that Hoseok recognized him. Still, he couldn't calm his rapid breaths and leaned in, pressing his head to Hoseok's shoulder in the hope that it was going to help.

"I thought… you were going to hurt me," he muttered and inhaled the fresh scent of shower gel that mixed with cherry candles.

"I was about to. God, puppy, why don't you fucking listen?" The older man propped himself up against the nearest wall, but didn't move away from him.

"No, knocking me out wouldn't have been that bad." Hyungwon swallowed and tried not to think about what else his stupid head had assumed and kept breathing in the sweetness and exhaling it quickly. "I told you that I want to see you. Why would I listen if you need to put kilometers between us to actually push me away?"

Once you are this close he can't push you away, he needs more distance to be able to. You can't let him have it.

"Put your energy into all those interviews and talks instead of coming here and making my adrenaline spike up. I was so close to hurting you. This is not a game, Hyungwon." Hoseok's low whisper vibrated against his ear and he could feel the older man's rough breaths, hitting his skin irregularly.

Is he scared of hurting you?

"I thought you weren’t a hitman," he breathed out and lifted his head, attempting to recognize the familiar features and tell himself that it was fine now. It had seemed easier before, but now his brain had two images available, the Hoseok that stroked over his cheek and the Hoseok that immobilized him and threatened him by pressing him against the wall. Hyungwon couldn't tell if the switch had already happened and he was safe. "You were so close, but you didn't."

Hoseok observed him for a few seconds before speaking. "I usually only protect myself if I'm threatened by someone and only get physical if someone tries to hurt me. I'm not a hitman. I'm a boa."

"I don't want to hurt you," Hyungwon began and slowly realized how close they really were, barely a few centimeters separated their faces and he could see a little bit of light reflected in Hoseok's irises. "I came because I was so happy and wanted to share."

"But why me?" the low voice asked as the older man let his hand slide down the wall next to his head until it stopped right over his shoulder. "Just leave me be."

"Who else should I tell if you're the source of it? You made it possible, you organized the media. The people wouldn't give a single shit about me if you hadn’t helped me bring my message across. I wanted to tell you how many people called me during the last few days and that I don't even have the time to do all these interviews because of my studies." He smiled, unsure whether Hoseok could see it, but he couldn't resist anyway. "You were the only person I wanted to see as soon as I found out. I was devastated when the guard told me you moved out."

He's right, you care so much even though he could hurt you.

"Maybe I should really fly somewhere far away, after this is over," Hoseok whispered and stepped back, increasing the distance between them.

"Don't," Hyungwon gasped even before he decided to reply, eyes widening at how terrible the thought seemed to him. Hoseok had given him a lot, but as the older man loved to point out Hyungwon had also been scared that he could hurt him, him and his family. His reaction didn't make any sense, even if there was really nothing he could do once Hoseok decided to act. Still, he didn't dare to admit to his attachment, chewing on his cheek as he found an excuse. "You know what I think about flying."

"I do, but I shouldn't care about what you think and I shouldn't let you into my apartment either. Stay out and wait for the right time." There was something in Hoseok's gaze, but the blonde man turned around, showing him his broad, muscular back and walked towards the couch, sinking into the soft cushions.

"Why shouldn't you let me in? Is your reasoning still the same? You don't want to get close because you are the boa?" Hyungwon followed and sat down next to Hoseok's muscular thighs. It was closer than he had been before, but it seemed right. The closer he was the more difficult it was to push him away. The proximity reminded him of his dream, the way he relived his experience with touching Hoseok's tattoo in his sleep. The sensation of heat returned to his chest and he was grateful for the switch, for the positivity after the crippling fear.

"I have to constantly remind myself that I'm a strategist when you're next to me. You will tell me what you want and why I should put up with you, even though you are a target that I'll remove without blinking an eye, and I will tell you whether your strategy is any good." The dark eyes focused on him and observed his cheeks, eyes and lips.

The older man's words hurt, especially since Hyungwon had seen them come true, experienced Hoseok's attempt to cut all ties and become unreachable. He didn't want the hurt to show, so he hid the tremble of his bottom lip by biting down on it as his fingers played with the couch surface between his and Hoseok's thigh.

Just tell him the truth.

"I don't want anything specific, mostly to be next to you. You taught me a lot and even though you say that you are dangerous, I feel like there is something else to you, independent of the danger. You only let me see it when I'm close." Hyungwon paused and dared to move towards Hoseok, one hand carefully placed on the older man's firm thigh as he met black eyes. "Close enough to forget about my fear and feel something else instead. I like being next to you and wish you would be next to me too."

Heat spread in his face and Hyungwon held the air in his lungs in the hope that it would disappear again. He didn't want Hoseok to assume he was lying and ashamed for not speaking the truth. It was the truth, only a little deeper than he had planned on showing.

"Let me sum this up, you are here because you want to be next to me and learn, fascinated by the danger and attempting to feel something else instead of fear. However, the fact is; I'm someone who will most definitely hurt you and I won't hesitate doing it because that's who I am, I have a strategy, a goal, I reach it. The only reason why I haven't thrown you out yet or intimidated you in a way you wouldn't like is the fact that you are determined in your goal. You come here even though it's foolish and will end badly. But emotions are not my forte, puppy. I have no idea what you are attempting to feel." Hoseok spread his legs and seemed to have regained his calm, regular exhales leaving the pretty nose with heart shaped nostrils. Hyungwon hadn't seen it before, but observing it now from up close it was obvious.

A smile spread across his lips as he sank deeper into the couch and turned to Hoseok, long legs pulled up against his chest.

"Neither do I," he replied, because it was true. He also didn't know what he wanted to feel, only that it was there and not fear and that Hoseok was able to make it happen. "You say that you are somebody who will hurt me and that you won't change your mind. Why would it matter then if I'm here or not? Can't you let me have your presence if your decisions are set in stone? You taught me so much already, have given me opportunities. Why would having me next to you make such a difference for your goal if you say that it's set? Just keep me here."

Why do you sound so desperate? Do you really want to see him that much?

"Because I don't like attachment. I can teach you more for your interviews because it corresponds with my goals, but I'll wrap around your neck and you shouldn't waste your time hoping that I'll stop because you're sitting on my couch. The boa doesn't care, Hyungwon." Reaching for his neck, Hoseok curled his fingers around it, but instead of pressing down, the older man stroked over his skin, touch light and almost weightless. "The snake will definitely bite because apart from that, there is no reason for it to be next to a puppy."

Hyungwon gasped, sound involuntary and soft, staying in the air between them. Warmth returned to his chest and face, spreading out and causing his fingers to tingle as they tightened in the firm thigh. His eyes were still observing Hoseok, meeting the black irises and feeling the danger that the blonde man wanted him to feel, but that wasn't there for him, not quite.

The attachment is all yours, so he should let it be your concern.

"Let it wrap around my neck," he whispered and licked over his bottom lip, attempting to return the moisture. "I like it."

 

Chapter Text

He had experienced all kinds of humans before, people who broke into his apartment to steal information, people who were advised to hurt him, threaten him. However, the black-haired boy in his living room did neither. Adrenaline was rushing through his system and he almost hurt the puppy who didn't know what was good for him.

He wants to stay close to you but you almost hurt him.

It was foolish of Hyungwon to act on his urge to see him and was probably also connected to the ridiculous belief that the boa wouldn't bite if the prey stayed close enough.

But then again, why would you care about his reasons? You have your goals and you don't hesitate.

As soon as the adrenaline calmed down, he felt much better and became aware of his thoughts, structuring them properly, just like a strategist should. There was nothing that spoke against letting puppy stay close to him apart from the fact that the younger man could've used their proximity to get new information out of him.

You won't let him.

A part of him liked Hyungwon for being so persistent, so willing to learn and focused on his goal. The younger man could have achieved a lot with his attitude, just that the attachment and emotions didn't let him. Even now when he wrapped his fingers around the elegant neck and felt the boy's heart beat way too fast against his fingertips, he wouldn't have hesitated to make a few calls and end him.

Because you're not attached, just like you should be.

The long fingers tightened on his thigh as the black-haired man whispered that he wanted him to wrap around his neck because he liked it. The words triggered a response he didn't expect, blood rushing through his system and concentrating in the middle. He took in how pretty the blush on Hyungwon's cheeks looked in addition to the thick lips, parted in a gasp. Stroking along the boy's jaw first, he flexed the muscles in his thigh in response to the pressure Hyungwon's fingers applied. Exhaling sharply, Hoseok traced the shape of the boy's red lips with his thumb, trying to learn it by heart.

"You like it? Are you sure?"

Hyungwon stared right back at him, fingers applying a little more pressure in response to Hoseok contracting his thigh muscles. The big brown eyes were focused on him, appearing almost hazel because of the contrast to the healthy blush that travelled from the boy’s cheeks down to his neck. Hot air brushed over his thumb as Hyungwon exhaled and his lips parted further in response to the touch. Again it looked determined, but involuntary, as if Hyungwon knew what he wanted to reach but didn’t understand the way he responded to the effect of reaching it.

“I am,” the low voice whispered in reply. “I want to see the boa.”

"You have to put in effort, the boa is always alone and only comes out to hunt," Hoseok whispered back. He kept his body in place, but let his fingers explore the boy's face and neck, pausing at the pulsating jugular. He loved how fast Hyungwon's heartbeat was.

You enjoy your presence having an effect, no matter how it shows.

“Aren’t I close enough yet?” Hyungwon asked quietly and swallowed, adam’s apple bobbing right next to Hoseok’s fingers.

"Close enough for what? For you to see the boa or for it to bite you? I like how hot your skin is. The boa likes when it's hot, it can sense the heat with its lips," he whispered, applying a little more pressure with his fingertips to feel the rapid pulse better.

“Why... are you using your fingers then?”

Hoseok could tell that the boy was just as surprised by his own reply as he was, eyes widening briefly and blunt nails scratching along the fabric of the tight pants that hugged his thigh. Still, Hyungwon didn’t take it back, watching him intently as he waited for Hoseok’s reply as the boy’s blood warmed his skin.

"You want me to use my lips? You're living risky, puppy. Or are you trying to overcome your fear? I don't know if I'm the right choice for that." He licked his lips, staring at the golden skin of the boy's neck, asking himself what it would taste like.

“You’re the only choice for that.” Again the pretty boy swallowed but kept his gaze locked with Hoseok’s, slim body still in his hold. A sharp inhale revealed that Hyungwon was preparing to speak before he did, accompanied by teeth that settled on his dark red bottom lip. “I’m curious why the boa treats me differently, with careful fingers instead of its dangerous lips.”

He's attracted to you.

"Because the boa doesn't like playing with straight boys," Hoseok whispered, leaning in and kissing Hyungwon's pretty lips for a second. It felt hot and soft, just like he remembered it, but it wasn't his playground, so he leaned back and removed his hand from the boy's neck.

Too complicated. You can have it easier and faster.

Hyungwon gasped, as if removing his hand from the boy’s neck returned his ability to inhale oxygen. The plump lips were still parted, looking the same way they did before Hoseok covered them with his own with the exception of additional color that also painted the boy’s round cheeks. Hyungwon’s gaze was different too, but Hoseok saw the additional blackness in the big eyes for only a moment before puppy focused them on his own hand that was still placed on Hoseok’s thigh.

"You'll find a cute girl who'll play with you. The boa isn't in your league, baby." He brushed his hair back and patted Hyungwon's hand, one mouth corner lifting up in a smirk.

“How can you be so sure?” the black-haired boy asked immediately as his fingers slipped lower on his thigh, wrapping around it in defiance. Hoseok had seen the look of determination before, right before Hyungwon had grabbed him by the collar of his silk robe after he kissed him. “I’m not interested in that, Hoseok.”

"What are you interested in then? Strategy? I'll tell you about it, you don't need to tremble in my arms for that." Hoseok winked and flexed his thigh under the pressure of the boy's fingers.

Hyungwon pressed his lips into a thin line, anger recognizable under the surface as he curled his free hand into a fist.

"I'm not trembling yet," the boy forced out and reached out tentatively, brushing over Hoseok's chest with his stretched out fingers. It was careful, but determined nevertheless. "I told you that you're the only choice, you can tell me whatever you like."

You like how he's trying to fight you.

"The boa has a gorgeous body, you know? Do you like it?" Hoseok sucked his bottom lip into his mouth, before releasing it right after. "I understand your fascination, but it's nothing puppies like you should be concerned about."

"I'm-" More color appeared on Hyungwon's cheeks as his eyes widened in bewilderment. The sudden embarrassment was clear as day, but still Hyungwon kept his hand in place, right in the middle of his chest with his long fingers spread. "It's not about fascination, it's about a way out." The first sentence sounded like a blatant lie, but the second didn't as it was accompanied by a shift of Hyungwon's long legs and a squeeze of his hand around his thigh.

"I hope you are smart enough to know that I'll bite you, even if you attempt to get close to me and touch me. Don't waste your time." Hoseok reached out and brushed a stray curl behind puppy's small ear. "You look way too cute to be having this conversation with me."

"Shut up," Hyungwon hissed but there was no heat to it, only plump lips and a gorgeous blush. "I told you before that I know my behavior won't make a difference to whether you hurt me or not. If it will happen anyway, you can also let me in, can't you?" Taking a few deep breaths, the boy slipped a little closer and let his hand fall to Hoseok's lap, joining the other on top of his thigh. "I'm being serious when I say you are the only choice. I'm not afraid of you."

Is he trying to self-medicate his homophobia by touching you? Is he only here because of this? Did you have to move because he wanted to be able to be close to men?

His anger spiked up, heating up his insides and tingled at his fingertips. "What do you want me to do? Kiss you?" He rolled his eyes with a groan and turned his body towards puppy, grabbing his chin and pulling him closer. "If you knew how angry you make me," he hissed instead of keeping it for himself.

Maybe he'll get scared and finally leave.

Hyungwon's eyes widened in shock, an immediate change from the trembling limbs and pink cheeks a moment ago. This time there was a hint of fear, but determination outweighed it as the boy sucked his lips into his mouth and stared right back at him.

"I don't fucking know what I want you to do. I'm not here to throw myself at you or whatever it is that you think. I'm here because I know that even though you keep pushing me away and threatening me, you actually don't hate me. I like being next to you, it's interesting and you even like the same fucking books." Hyungwon's voice broke in the middle but he hid it by glancing away and swallowing once.

Now you're soulmates.

"You probably consider it childish, but you're the only person that knows this much about me and that matters. I can be myself and ignore the consequences, simply because you already told me that they won't change. I'm an 18-year-old refugee with a broken family and no real home, what the hell should I be expecting? You can't return my family and you can't give me my home back." The slim boy's whole body was shaking as the one weakness that Hoseok had identified weeks ago showed on the handsome face. Hyungwon was emotional, bottom lip trembling and hands reaching out to wrap around the fabric of Hoseok's shirt.

But why is he telling you all this?

"You got the point. I can't give you anything back and I obviously can't make you feel better either, so give up, Hyungwon." His gaze was intense when he moved closer, exhaling against the boy's lips, before he remembered something his sister told him. "Isn't Hannah at your house today? She wanted to deliver some boxes. You should go home, you'll gain more if you go than if you stay here with me." Wrapping his fingers around Hyungwon's hand, he loosened the boy's tight grip carefully.

You got him and his brother so many clothes, but he probably hasn't seen them yet.

A little bit of tension returned to the broad shoulders and insecurity tainted Hyungwon's face until he finally met his gaze and shook his head.

"I have seen Hannah. She was willing to bear my responsibilities so that- so that I could see you."

It was her. That's why he knew that you were here.

"She likes you and doesn't really know the thing with the boa, otherwise she wouldn't have done that. However, it doesn't make my previous words any less true. Just give up," he whispered.

"That's bullshit." Hyungwon exhaled roughly through his nose, eyes slightly narrowed. "Going home won't give me anything. I will end up in the same fucking stalemate I was in before I met you. Hannah might not know that you're the boa but I don't think she was being naive. She must have seen how fucking desperate I was to meet you. I'm a shit actor, you know?" The boy chuckled and brushed through his curly bangs, eyes falling shut in frustration. "I've been trying to find time to see you during the past few days, to tell you how excited I am about the interviews, how much progress I have made. I'm glad you didn't see me when the guard told me you moved out. It- ah, fuck."

Why does it matter so much?

Hoseok couldn't hide his surprise at the boy's desperation, at his emotional response towards him and the words that showed too much vulnerability for his taste. All of it was too much for his taste.

"But… I will do it again, Hyungwon. Why would you want to stay next to me if it crushes you so much? That's why I don't understand you and get angry at you. You keep talking about a way out, about the boa, wanting to see it, being attached and I tell you that I won't hesitate to cut you off as soon as there's nothing that I want from you anymore. It doesn't make any fucking sense. Where is your strategy? Are you a fool? You are not trying to seduce me because I'm gay or anything similarly ridiculous, right? Because that's definitely not how you do it." Hoseok pointed at the boy's hand that tried to hold onto his collar. His thoughts were a mess again and he looked in the direction of the shower.

"Of course not, I just- I don't know, I want to be your friend. You might think it's stupid, but I like you. I like the way you make jokes and how you are able to see through things, find the right strategy and make it happen. You know so much and I feel like I'm becoming a different person simply by spending a few hours next to you. It feels like I'm finally getting somewhere, not physically or with my projects even though you influence that as well, but I mean mentally. For the first time since coming here, I stopped feeling stuck in my personal situation, with the thoughts in my head and the dreams of the time we ran away that still come back to me occasionally. Now it's just you." Again the boy sucked his lips into his mouth in an attempt to hide the way they trembled from the overflow of emotions and the inability to explain himself. Hoseok felt pulled into the authentic expressions while the younger man talked. "I can't believe that it's by choice, that you don't want anybody next to you. I'm not saying that you have to accept me and care about me, but can't you just allow me to be here? Like now?"

A friend? Really?

He would have laughed if he wasn't angry, but no matter how many times he had told the boy to give up and leave, he simply didn't listen. As if he was deaf.

"I'm better by myself," he whispered and freed himself, feeling the urge to be alone. His feet carried him to his bedroom. It wasn't as spacious or comfortable as the one in his previous apartment, but it was sufficient until he was able to find a new place to stay. At least the room smelled like cherry and the scent calmed him down.

You need to rest and then think.

He unbuttoned his shirt before letting it slide down from his shoulders and threw himself on top of the soft bed, turning away from the door, cheek resting on top of his folded hands. The blanket started smelling like him and he felt more comfortable being in the small apartment today compared to the times before. When he turned to the side, glancing at the desk, he still remembered how Hyungwon tried to look into his phone and notebook and how the boy fainted when he got closer.

Good times.

"The boa showed itself," Hyungwon's low voice suddenly sounded behind him, stemming from the door followed by careful steps. The boy didn't sound like he planned to provoke him, instead his voice had something hesitant and overwhelmed to it. The mattress gave out under the additional weight as the young man sat on the side, allowing the silence to stretch between them. "It's just as breathtaking as the first time. I… dreamt of it."

He definitely likes your tattoo.

"Of what? Of how you fainted?" he asked without turning and glanced over his shoulder in the boy's direction. The puffy cheeks showed a hint of pink and Hoseok was sure that he had seen the expression before. It was the same gaze and the same rough exhales.

"No, of…" Hyungwon trailed off and kept quiet for a few moments that were accompanied by warm fingertips on his back, stroking along the length of the boa and carefully travelling over his skin until the boy reached the tip of the boa's tail. Still, Hyungwon didn't move away as warmth travelled upwards to his shoulders, soft fingertips caressing the boa's broad body. "... Of touching it.".

It's beautiful, he can be fascinated by your tattoo, right?

"I got it on my trip to Tibet, a priest inked it on my back. They don't have boas there, but I showed him a picture and he said that he thinks that I'm a boa." Hoseok closed his eyes and concentrated on the sensation of Hyungwon's fingers that felt warm and so gentle against his sensitive back.

"So you wanted him to tattoo a boa in particular? Why?" Hyungwon asked quietly and kept following the lines of the tattoo while applying pressure. "Did it hurt?"

"Pain is inevitable. I think I was more hurt, so the stabs of the needle didn't make a difference. I wanted a boa because that's who I am." Sighing briefly, he looked over his shoulder. "Is stroking a person's back something that's common in your culture? Or is it something that you do in order to make friends?"

"No," the black-haired boy muttered in reply. Usually one would have taken their hands away and been embarrassed by Hoseok pointing out their ridiculous actions, but puppy didn't care this time. Instead, Hoseok could feel a shift in the mattress again and a brief inhale before soft lips suddenly touched the skin of his back, right at his spine. "I do it because I want to," Hyungwon exhaled against his naked shoulder, noticeable due to his increased sensitivity.

"You've lost your fucking mind, haven't you?" he asked quietly, but couldn't help the tingling that spread over his skin, covering it in goosebumps. Hoseok suppressed the urge to move his shoulders to regain control over his body and concentrated on the intense sensation instead.

Is it easier to understand him like this?

"Maybe," Hyungwon replied and added another kiss to his skin, this time closer to the bottom of his shoulder blade. Not even a second passed until another followed, travelling downwards along his spine. The touch was soft like a feather at first, barely there until the boy gained courage and applied more pressure, plump lips giving in against the skin of his back. "You said the boa enjoys heat, I hope my lips are hot enough."

"Boas enjoy the heat before they bite. You know, there are two possibilities, puppy. Either I simply don't understand your motives, or you don't make any fucking sense. Something tells me that it's the second." Independent of whether puppy made any sense or not, there was no way that Hoseok could hide his response, muscles flexing and eyes closing at the feeling of plump, wet lips against his back.

It feels amazing.

Hyungwon didn't reply and merely placed one hand on his arm while the other landed on his side on top of the sheets. Long fingers carefully wrapped around his bicep as additional kisses blessed his shoulders and lower back. The black-haired boy didn't stop and only became more daring, applying more pressure and holding the contact for longer than before. He could almost feel the gentle touch of the younger man's lips lingering against his skin after it was long gone.

You're losing your mind too.

"But you never bite, do you?" the low voice whispered against his naked back as Hoseok felt Hyungwon's hot, wet tongue at the bottom of his spine, slowly licking a line to his shoulder blades. Cool air heightened Hoseok's awareness of the touch as puppy lifted his head and exhaled roughly. The sound resembled a gasp, but he couldn't tell without observing Hyungwon's pretty face.

He is insane.

"I do," he hissed, curling his spine and sucking another gulp of air into his lungs. It was useless information, but the skin on his back was rather sensitive. "Are you doing that to get bitten? Then you're on the right track, but you can't run away once the boa has you," he whispered with a smirk.

"I told you before," Hyungwon murmured and closed his lips around a patch of skin, sucking briefly, exhales revealing that the boy wasn't a calm as his voice suggested. "Let it wrap around my neck, I like it."

Instead of replying, he turned around and curled one arm around the boy's head, pulling him towards himself until their lips almost touched. He couldn't hide his rapid breaths, but he also didn't mind. His body reacted to the touch, it was natural. Leaning in, he caught Hyungwon's bottom lip with his teeth and sucked it into his mouth, before letting go again.

"I think you might be tasty."

Long fingers reached for his shoulders and waist, holding on tightly as the boy froze in his hold at first before a shaky gasp left his lips and his eyes fluttered open, body only moving closer towards him. Hoseok doubted that Hyungwon was aware of it with how ragged his breaths were and how tightly he held onto him, nails almost digging into his skin. Puppy was overwhelmed but unable to control his response, whole body heating up and beautiful blush covering his cheeks.

"Why… don't you find out then?" Hyungwon breathed out and bit down on his bottom lip that looked beautifully wet in the dim light.

Hoseok sat up and pulled the slim body on top of his lap, sinking one hand into the curly hair while his other hand wrapped around the boy's slim waist. Hugging him flush against his chest, Hoseok licked over Hyungwon's red mouth tentatively, savoring the taste while keeping him in place.

"Mhm, you might fit my taste," he whispered as a brief smile spread across his lips at the sight of the boy's widened eyes and puffy cheeks.

Gorgeous puppy.

Hyungwon didn't reply, probably surprised by his sudden motion, and merely reached out for his shoulders, stroking over them carefully. There was not a single sign of fear, only yearning and insecurity that fought for dominance on the pretty face.

"And that means?" the tall boy asked quietly and shifted a little on top of his thighs, skinny butt rubbing over his lap. The boy's breaths were rough enough for the air to hit Hoseok's face each time he exhaled. The fresh pink color on Hyungwon's face grew more prominent and the grip on his shoulders tightened, pulling him even closer. Puppy liked it, but decided not to admit to it. He didn't need to, his body expressed it all on its own.

He likes it so much.

"That means that you should come here," Hoseok whispered and pulled the boy closer against his chest, clashing their lips together.

A whimper was caught in their kiss as Hyungwon wrapped his arms around his neck and held on for dear life, eyes fluttering shut immediately and body fluently moving along with the pull, as if there was nothing that he wanted more. Hoseok guessed that puppy didn't reflect on what he was doing and acted on his desires instead, which he expressed by parted lips and allowing Hoseok to deepen their kiss. Hyungwon's mouth was burning hot, much like his face and body, ablaze only because he pulled him close.

The reaction was more than enough to suggest that puppy wanted him, so he licked between the younger man's warm lips, playing with his tongue, while his arms wrapped tighter around the slim body, one hand stroking over the boy's lower back while the fingers of his other hand grabbed a fistful of black curls, tugging lightly at first. He loved how the younger man felt on top of his lap, almost weightless, but still here, holding onto him and whimpering into their kiss.

The sounds he makes are pretty attractive.

The light pull on the boy's soft hair gifted him a low moan. Hyungwon immediately attempted to quieten it down by a deep, hot kiss, but the gorgeous sound still echoed in his bedroom, breathy and desperate. It was a perfect moment to make things clear.

"And now tell me whether this is what you wanted." Hoseok broke the contact, but still held onto the boy's black hair, observing him intently. Leaning in, he licked over the pulsating jugular vein, unable to hold himself back.

Worth it.

Hyungwon bit down on his lips, but wasn't fast enough to hide the sound that left his lips, accompanied by a shudder and the boy's lean thighs that tightened around his hips.

"I'm- I'm dizzy," the black-haired boy forced out, but only reduced the distance by pulling Hoseok closer. "I'm dizzy but I don't want you to stop."

But he doesn't look as if he has any idea where this is going.

Not that Hoseok cared, but taking sexual advantage of foolish straight boys wasn't really something he was going for.

You stay away from straight guys, they're no fun.

"Sshh, baby. You obviously don't know where this is going, so I'll give you a good night kiss because you're tasty and then you'll be a good boy and go home, okay?" His breaths were rough and his mind felt a little mushy, but he still managed to think about a good argument to make the stubborn puppy understand his point. Hoseok curled his fingers around the boy's wrist and pulled it towards his groin, pressing the big palm against his jeans clad dick. "Feel that? I'd definitely comply with my suggestion if I was you."

Hyungwon froze and he could feel how the grip on his shoulder turned painful with every passing second. Only the boy's thighs narrowed around him as if they didn't want to let him go. The shaky and frequent breaths told him that puppy must have figured out what was happening and he could confirm it in the big, dark eyes that focused on him. The pupils were completely blown and Hoseok couldn't see a hint of brown.

"I don't want to go home," Hyungwon whispered instead of anything else Hoseok would have expected.

What?

"You're joking, right?" he asked, disbelieving that Hyungwon still sat on his lap after his admittedly genius argument.

Maybe he doesn't want to go home because it makes him feel like shit.

Hoseok remembered his own time living at home and puppy had it way worse, a pretty rough life after a long run with his mentally ill father and little brother. Sighing, he lifted his gaze and brushed over the boy's hair that he messed up while pulling it.

"Is it because you want to stay over?"

"Will you let me?" Hyungwon asked back and chewed on his cheek, black eyes focused on his chest until the slim boy simply leaned in and closed his lips around Hoseok's collarbone, tongue licking a strip along it. "I'll still have to leave early in the morning to take care of my brother."

Of course he will.

Hoseok hissed at the pleasant warmth of Hyungwon's tongue and lips, watching how his defenses crumbled because he knew that no matter what he did, the younger man would be back anyway.

He doesn't know what's good for him.

"I'll kill you if you touch any documents," he murmured, disrupted by another hiss. Hyungwon only nodded before wrapping his arms tighter around his neck and placing kisses below his ear and along his jaw before sucking his bottom lip into his mouth. It seemed like the boy didn't only learn quickly when it came to giving talks as he easily lost his hesitation and kissed him intently, trembling at the way it felt.

Hoseok tried to say something, but ended up humming unidentifiable sounds into the boy's mouth. His hands tried to pull Hyungwon's shirt over his curly head. The boy was reluctant to separate, eagerly licking into his mouth and whimpering whenever he stroked over his skin or got a grip on that soft black hair of his. When Hyungwon pushed himself flat against his chest, he could finally tell that the boy reacted to him, obvious erection straining against the loose fabric of his faded jeans.

"I see, the puppy likes the boa, huh?" he whispered with a grin, before finally getting rid of the potato sack-like fabric and attaching his lips to the tiny dark nipples, sucking on them and teasing the tiny buds with the tip of his tongue. He loved how they felt and tasted. Hyungwon looked so good without clothes.

"Shut u-" puppy attempted to mutter in reply, only that he must have completely forgotten about that as soon as Hoseok touched the erect buds, moaning loudly and throwing his head back. "Shit."

It looked gorgeous, black curls flying back and long neck bared as if only waiting for Hoseok to sink his teeth into it. Hyungwon's hands travelled higher until they settled in his hair and pulled him closer to his chest, encouraging him to continue.

"Fuck," the black-haired boy cursed again and couldn't help a tremble that passed through his body, followed by another moan.

So much for being friends with you.

Hoseok nibbled on the tiny, dark buds with his teeth, careful to not hurt the boy who was obviously sensitive, while his own body continued catching fire. It felt very different from the way it usually was when he got physically close to somebody. In most cases, it was clear from the start and he worked towards his two goals, namely his partner's orgasm and his own. With puppy it was a mess because he didn't have any goal. Instead he kept waiting for the break of contact due to the fact that the boy was a straight, homophobic little shit.

It could also be internalised homophobia.

However, that break appeared to be nowhere in sight as Hyungwon applied enough pressure to allow himself to fall to the mattress and pulled Hoseok on top of himself, breaths still interrupted by loud moans and daring fingers that entangled with the strands of his hair and pulled.

"Oh god," the pretty boy muttered as he opened his eyes and took in the sight of Hoseok on top of him, playing with his nipples. "I'm going crazy."

"You are crazy, puppy, having a grown ass half naked man on top of you sucking on your nipples, while you felt uncomfortable sitting next to me in a car a week ago." Hoseok let his fingers travel over Hyungwon's lean stomach and over his way too loose jeans and rubbed along the obvious erection. "But you seem to like it."

The way the boy's fingers pulled at his hair was borderline painful as he moaned and immediately covered his lips with his free hand, muffling the noises. Hyungwon’s eyes were wide and he kept staring at Hoseok while his chest rose and fell rapidly, showing how close he was to losing it. Puppy was gorgeous, out of breath and with his golden skin on display, only interrupted by a few white lines along his shoulder and abdomen.

So pretty.

"I was scared because- I thought you would hurt me. That you would do something I don't want. Currently I'm more worried that I'll be the one to do something, shit." Hyungwon removed his hand from Hoseok's hair and used it to cover the rest of his small face, breathing heavily.

"You can still claim the good night kiss I promised, and go to bed," Hoseok whispered, before he let his tongue travel over Hyungwon's lean stomach. Instead of removing his hand, he stroked over the whole length of the boy's thigh and back to his groin.

"How-" Hyungwon attempted to ask but only shook under him from the pleasure that the simple touches blessed him with. The boy kept his palms pressed to his mouth and muffled his moans as he bent his right knee, spreading his legs. "How am I supposed to want a goodnight kiss when you make me feel this way?"

"Are you a virgin, puppy?" he asked, licking along the waistband of the boy's jeans.

"No," Hyungwon replied, but Hoseok didn't believe it for even a second. Hyungwon's white teeth settled in his thick bottom lip and he covered his mouth with both palms, trembling from the way his touches felt. "It doesn't matter. I've never been with a man before, not apart from…" Inhaling sharply, Hyungwon grabbed a fistful of Hoseok's hair and pulled him up, clashing their lips together.

That disgusting piece of shit.

"Forget about that one. It wasn't a man, it was trash," he whispered between their kisses. "Do you want me to touch you or do you want to kiss until one of us loses it in a completely uncontrolled manner?"

Hyungwon leaned in to lick over his neck and nibbled at the sensitive skin below his ear before replying. "I like it when you touch me, Hoseok. It's not comparable at all."

"Don't let yourself be fooled only because the boa is gentle," he whispered, exhaling sharply and sinking his fingers into Hyungwon's curls. "But you make me want to show you what it should be like."

He might learn from it.

Hyungwon's eyes opened wide and the young man moved back to be able to look at him, red lips wet and cheeks a beautiful rose color.

"Why does the boa keep warning me if it wants the prey? Why don't you just show me, Hoseok?" the low voice whispered as a hot tongue licked over his jaw again, fueling his own bodily response.

"Because no matter how calm it is, it doesn't want others to feel the same pain." Hoseok looked away, glancing at the pictures on the walls in his second apartment that became his first, suddenly wishing that everything would return to the previous state of emotionless calm.

 

***

 

Hyungwon’s breath caught in his throat as his fingers ran over beautiful, soft skin, smooth muscles and only interrupted by thick, black lines that created the drawing of a boa. Its mouth was slightly parted and he let his fingers draw the tip of the split tongue, remembering that boas sensed heat with their lips.

He couldn’t explain what had gotten into him when he leaned in and pressed his own lips to the boa, to the black tattoo that was permanently engraved into the older man’s skin. Hyungwon didn’t understand the significance of the animal yet, not fully, but he knew that it meant a lot to Hoseok, helped the blonde man to shape his identity, the distance he created between himself and other people.

His dream returned to his mind, the way he had covered the older man’s skin with his hands, stroking along it and observing the way his muscles contracted and revealed that he could make Hoseok react by touching him. Hyungwon could make the blonde man reveal more with his lips than his words had ever been able to.

Maybe that was the reason he dared to move closer, to kiss the sensitive skin and lick along the older man’s spine, continuously until the tensed muscles and goosebumps transformed into muscular arms that grabbed him and pulled him on top of Hoseok’s lap.

The change was sudden even though Hyungwon was aware of the warnings along the way. There were always warnings. Hoseok didn’t dare to step closer without telling him to run, to stop what he was doing and to increase the distance.

But you won’t.

He provoked it, asking the blonde man to taste him even though he knew exactly what it meant, that the distance between them shrunk until curved lips that he had kept seeing in front of his inner eye moved towards him and covered his own. Hoseok’s hot tongue met his and hands sank into his hair to pull at it, evoking a sound he hadn’t expected himself to make outside of the privacy of his bathroom.

Their kisses seemed desperate, barely allowing more than a second in between that Hyungwon used to inhale the air that he needed to continue to be even closer. The heat kept increasing, making him dizzy and his whole body tremble until the older man suddenly paused everything and smiled, convinced that he had no idea what he was doing. Hyungwon didn’t, not really, but he knew enough.

You know that you want this.

When the older man took his hand and placed it over his groin, showing him how much Hoseok enjoyed their kisses, his blood froze in his veins. He heard the words that accompanied the action, the suggestion to leave, to go home and forget about everything with something as simple as a kiss still traceable on his swollen lips.

The fear was there, he could feel it making its way along his veins towards the middle of his chest, fighting to reach his head and return the anxiety that crippled him and made him lose consciousness. Hyungwon could have easily succumbed to it, returned to the same fear he found himself feeling whenever he knew that a man could be interested in him. He could, but he didn’t.

Because you know that he is only trying to push you away again.

Hyungwon didn’t want to go home. He didn’t want to return to his responsibilities and the knowledge that for as long as he wasn’t in this apartment, close to the older man, he could disappear as quickly as last time. Hyungwon could attempt to visit him the next day and find an empty space, only that there wouldn’t even be a guard telling him that the boa had disappeared again, leaving him nothing at all, not even a possibility to contact him. He couldn’t risk it, not when he was this close.

You need to show him that he can remain close to you, especially if the consequences are settled.

The boa kept hissing at him, telling him that he was going to get hurt, that it would break him just like everybody else before him. Hyungwon understood the consequences, he could read from Hoseok’s face that they were there and would happen. He couldn’t change them, not with all the knowledge Hoseok had on him. But he could use the proximity to make Hoseok understand that one thing, namely that keeping him close was okay.

If he’s convinced that he will bite you, why keep you at a distance?

He expected a lot of things, but being allowed to stay over wasn’t one of them. He couldn’t tell if the blonde man would change his mind, so he acted on his instinct, closed the distance between them and licked along the soft skin until his t-shirt was removed from his body and the dizziness hit him full force. Lips closed around his nipples and he saw stars dancing behind his eyelids, burning his body down like a hut made out of hay. He moaned loudly and struggled to keep the sounds to himself. It was embarrassing but his palms only had a minimal effect, covering his lips but not blocking out the noise completely.

The touches felt so good that he began to fear that he would be the one to cross borders he had created for himself, the safe distance for relationships that he had been so convinced of. His body burned so much that Hyungwon felt ready to reach out and touch the older man himself, to make him react the way he had when Hyungwon covered his back with kisses.

You’re losing your mind.

Again Hoseok gave him a warning, an option to run as fast as he could by leaving it at a touch of lips and a good night’s sleep. Hyungwon couldn’t even imagine agreeing, not with the way his skin tingled and his lower body burned with arousal. Hoseok blamed it on his virginity, but it had nothing to do with it. It didn’t matter at all. Even if Hyungwon had been close to somebody before, his only experience with a man sent a cold shiver down his spine and felt like a hand that crushed his chest in a matter of seconds. There was no experience except for that one to draw on, but the feeling wasn’t comparable.

There was a little bit of this tension, but you hate yourself for it.

The memories began to come crashing in, but Hoseok’s low voice hissing an insult at the man who touched him in addition to the continuing touches, this time against his groin, distracted him sufficiently to moan and throw his head back. The older man kept providing him options, asking him whether he wanted to be touched, to continue burning the way he did. Hyungwon couldn’t even imagine the point of such a question, not when everything about him screamed that he wanted it, even his lips as they admitted to it, whispering that he enjoyed being touched.

Instead of following through Hoseok gave him another warning, low whispers that told him not to get too comfortable, too trusting only because the boa wasn’t acting viciously towards him.

He’s trying to keep you safe, but doesn’t want to admit to it.

It was obvious, the way the older man kept stopping to check whether he knew what was happening to him, that he was too close and that the boa wouldn’t let go after wrapping around his neck. Hoseok might not have realized, but the boa had already wrapped around his neck. There was no point in holding back anymore.

“Why does the boa keep warning me if it wants the prey?” he finally asked, staring at the black eyes as the older man still lay on top of him, weighing him down and fuelling the burning in his groin and chest with his presence alone. “Why don’t you just show me, Hoseok?”

You want him to, you kept wanting him to show you since you told him the reason for your fear.

"Because no matter how calm it is, it doesn't want others to feel the same pain," Hoseok replied carefully, turning away to glance towards the wall at nothing in particular. It was the first grain of emotional truth that the older man dared to share with him, the first admittance of having real emotions apart from hunger, arousal and the desire to fuck people over.

That’s not true, he told you before. He said that the tattoo didn’t hurt because the internal pain was worse.

Hannah had told him, told him that something had hurt the older man before and he left for Tibet. The tattoo must have been his way to bury it, to pretend that it wasn’t there while the boa took over who he was.

He wanted to become emotionless through it, abandon all attachment.

Hyungwon’s eyes widened in realization and he didn’t even feel the way his arms tightened around Hoseok’s broad body and he pulled the older man closer towards himself, pressing their naked chests flush against each other.

“But why would it bite if it is afraid to cause pain?” he whispered and leaned in to place a careful kiss against the muscular neck, hoping that it gave the reassurance and distraction that he was going for.

"Because the pain feels different. Very different. It's not the same, not at all, but I think that you have experienced enough pain to tell how various it can feel depending on the context and the reason." A few seconds passed before the older man lifted his body and rolled to the side, staring at the ceiling instead of him. "I think I have a new toothbrush," the low voice added, calm and emotionless.

You’re losing him again, just like this, with a single question.

Hyungwon’s body was still burning, but fear returned to him at the mere thought that Hoseok wouldn’t understand, wouldn’t keep him close because he considered the consequences to be bad enough to stay away.

But you don’t know them.

“Don’t leave,” he whispered and reached out for the older man’s wrist, holding on like he had so many times before. He felt naked suddenly, without his usual oversized clothes that hid most of him. He couldn’t even tell if it was something about him that made the blonde man move away, deciding against being close to him.

"You can stay over, I told you. And I'm not leaving today."

“I meant me,” he murmured and crawled closer to Hoseok, carefully lying down on top of the older man’s chest. He didn’t know why he did it, but it felt like the right thing to do to not be cast away. “Don’t leave me.”

He must have been hurt before, enough to cast away attachment and emotions, enough to become the boa.

"How am I supposed to leave you if you're the one who keeps finding me wherever I go? I can only cut it clean, but I can't, it's not the time yet," the blonde man whispered, hesitating to put his arms around him. "I keep asking myself why it is me you want to be close to. The boa, out of all people."

Cutting it clean means breaking you, doesn’t it?

Hyungwon didn’t know how he felt about the realization that it was really happening, that the blonde kept thinking about breaking him and everything he knew, rip his chance at a new life with his family from his hands. Of course he had known that the boa had been planning it all along, but it still felt strange to see such a clear reminder of it.

He shifted a little, head resting on top of Hoseok’s muscular chest, right above his heart that wasn’t beating as slowly as the calmness in the older man’s voice suggested. Hyungwon wrapped his arms tighter around Hoseok and thought about how to answer, how to explain why he chose the boa.

“The boa chose me, didn’t it? I only decided to look closer,” he whispered and placed a careful kiss right below Hoseok’s left collarbone. He wasn’t afraid of the boa, but he was concerned about the distance it attempted to create between them.

"I was so sure," Hoseok whispered barely audibly. A few seconds were filled with pressuring silence, the one you know can be toxic because someone thinks something that you can't reply to, can't change, it manifests in the person's brain and stays there, influencing the following actions. There was no perceivable movement, but Hoseok's hand settled on top of his hair, carefully stroking over his locks, accompanied by the older man's exhales.

Hyungwon didn’t know what Hoseok was sure of, not at all, but he hummed quietly and placed another kiss to the soft skin, inhaling the scent of cherry and something that was inherently Hoseok. He could even remember it from his dream that hadn’t been one at all, a scheme of the blonde man to make sure that he didn’t learn anything about him.

But you already know so much. You only don’t know what it is that hurts him so much, making him into the boa, the man without attachment.

“I am attached to you, so let it be my worry,” he murmured and inhaled more of the delicious mixture that warmed his chest. The burning he had felt moments ago subsided, as if Hyungwon hadn’t felt it in the first place. Had it been anything else he could have forgotten it, but with this he couldn’t. His mind still supplied him with the dizziness he felt and the way Hoseok’s hands and lips felt on his body.

"I would have loved to do that," Hoseok whispered and placed a kiss on his hair out of nowhere. "You look very attractive without clothes."

Hyungwon pulled his lips into his mouth, embarrassed by the sudden confession. He hadn’t expected it from the older man who was obviously experienced and had seen a lot of people naked.

“I thought the scars would disturb you, but I guess the clothes I have to wear are worse,” he muttered and rubbed his lips along Hoseok’s collarbones. He loved the shape and how they left small dips above them, as if they were meant to be kissed and licked along. He resisted even though it seemed like the right thing to do.

"You'll have… more variety now. But you don't need to wear them if you feel uncomfortable about it, I just thought you might like it. Hannah said she delivered it all. What I mean is that I never cared much about your clothes, apart from the talk but it had strategic significance for me." The blonde man exhaled at another touch of his lips and tightened his fingers around his waist. Hyungwon enjoyed the touch, so much that he dared to lick along the pretty collarbone, tasting it and hoping that it wasn’t too much.

“You bought me clothes?” he exclaimed when he finally realized what Hoseok hinted at, head lifting from the muscular chest and realizing that he was leaning right over the blonde man, lips only a few centimeters apart. Familiar heat returned to his chest and his cheeks immediately as he remembered the way it felt. “How can you be sure that I am attractive without clothes if… you haven’t really seen me without though?”

"There is a big, yellow box in your apartment, but as I said, it's just… clothes and a few other things. I saw you when you changed into your new outfit, of course not stark naked, but I don't think I'll be very surprised, except if you have something special to show me." Hoseok grinned and licked over his lips, eyes focused on his.

Oh god.

The heat in his cheeks only increased as he imagined undressing completely for the older man, having those fingers that were currently wrapped around his waist or stroking over his hair at other parts of his body.

“I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of people naked,” he muttered and stared at the blonde man’s curved lips, following the line with his eyes because they were distracting him more than he dared to admit. He couldn’t explain where all that sudden desire to be close to Hoseok came from, it hadn’t been that bad before, not beyond the dreams. “The only special thing about me is that people from Alia keep looking young for way too long and aren't hairy. When I arrived at the border I was made fun off for looking so young.”

Why would you mention the country? You never do.

"You aren't very hairy, but people are so different. I've seen a lot of people naked, but it's how they actually are, so it's interesting to see. Alia sounds interesting, did many people survive?" Wide, dark eyes stared at him as the older man kept stroking over his hair. It felt more intimate than Hoseok had ever been before. It didn’t even compare to the kisses they shared and the two hugs that had been in farewell.

“No,” he replied quickly and closed his eyes. He hated to think about it, but closing his eyes was the wrong strategy. He immediately saw meter high walls of water and his panicked attempts to save Jimin. He still hoped that the little boy wouldn’t remember anything. He wished that he himself wouldn’t. “Only a few hundred survived. Not everybody died when the country was destroyed, but- most died on their way to a safer place.”

The blonde man hugged him tighter, but it didn't seem planned. "If I think about the experiences you must have had until now, you don't really seem like a puppy to me."

Hyungwon chuckled, but buried his face deeper into the crook of Hoseok’s neck. He sounded a little hysterical because of the memories that were still vibrant images in front of his inner eye. “Isn’t there the English saying to never judge a book by its cover? One could say the same about you.”

"But this experience changed you and enabled you to learn and understand things in a different way. Like this, you are able to have an outlook on life most people will never get. The majority would say they don't want to, but they are also losing, aren't they? You're very smart, so you'll be able to do and achieve a lot in the future, no matter what happens." A glance upwards revealed Hoseok's smile that didn't look especially sad or happy, it was simply there.

He means after he wraps around your neck and hurts you the way he planned all this time. He thinks you will still be able to achieve things.

Hyungwon smiled back, but it didn’t reach his eyes because he knew it wasn’t true. Everything that hurt him involved his illegal working situation and his family. There was no way that it would be fine in the end, but he still didn’t want to stay away.

“Was there an experience that changed you?” he asked in return and reached out to brush a few blonde strands away from Hoseok’s forehead. It felt intimate to be so close, still lying on top of the older man and having their lips only a few centimeters apart.

"Yes, from a long time ago, but it was intense and I became the boa. I like it. It is the reason for my calmness and rationality. I am able to do so many things because I simply don't get attached."

He is thankful for what happened in Tibet, for the way he erased his pain with the tattoo on his back.

Hyungwon swallowed and nodded slowly, leaning a little bit closer, enough to feel Hoseok’s exhales against his lips. His fingers travelled to stroke over the older man’s chest, pausing right above his heart to be able to tell how quickly it was beating, how Hoseok really reacted to what was happening.

“Is that the experience you wouldn't wish on anybody? Even though it gave you the possibility to become the boa?”

"Yes," the blonde man whispered and leaned in, touching his lips with his own. "Your good night kiss."

It feels like a goodbye again.

Hyungwon couldn't leave it at that, he didn't want to. Licking over his lips briefly, he leaned in and kissed the older man, deepening the kiss as soon as he was able to while his hands found blond strands of hair to hold onto. The contact immediately produced a spark in his abdomen, but he tried to hide it by kissing Hoseok with more vigor.

"Do you ever listen?" Hoseok asked between the kisses, but grabbed his face with both palms, pulling him closer and licked into his mouth hungrily.

"I told you that I hate goodbyes." It felt strangely empowering to be the one who lay on top of Hoseok and could decide whether he wanted to pull away or not. Hyungwon didn't, he only pressed his body closer to the muscular chest and sucked the older man's bottom lip into his mouth the way Hoseok had done it with him before.

"What's the point in hating something inevitable?" The body under him lifted easily as Hoseok sat up and took his thighs, placing them on each side of his broad hips. "It's late and you have to go back early, is this really worth the lack of sleep? You also have an important interview at one, but instead of preparing a strategy you're here kissing a boa." The older man's pale fingers stroked over his cheek and brushed his black curls behind his ear in a gentle gesture.

"Maybe my survival instincts are actually shit and I'm just lucky," he whispered and curled his arms around Hoseok's neck. He really liked sitting on top of the blonde man's lap even though every reasonable thought inside his head told him that it was a weird thing to do. Hyungwon also decided not to ask Hoseok about how he knew about his interview. There weren't many things the boa didn't know and only the name of his home country had been one of them.

"Maybe I can also pull a strategy from the boa's lips," he gasped and closed the distance again, licking into the warm mouth and trying not to react too much. His thighs were already flexing and pulling together and a tingling sensation travelled from his lips right down to his groin.

"You look as if the strategy is the least of your concerns right now, you look more as if…" Hoseok let his hands travel over the whole length of his thigh, scratching along the fabric of his jeans and stopping only millimeters from his groin. "As if you want to be touched."

Hyungwon's breath hitched and he wasn't able to hide it, Hoseok was too close for that. The fact that the older man could see through him easily was embarrassing, but he couldn't hide it, not when his body responded in a matter of seconds as soon as those elegant hands touched him.

"I do," he admitted finally and nibbled on his bottom lip. "I told you I enjoy the weight of the boa around my neck. It seems like you still don't believe me."

Why doesn't this scare you?

"Then let's see how puppy behaves when it's losing its mind," Hoseok whispered, turning them quickly. The blonde bangs hung into the older man's eyes as he hovered over Hyungwon, licking over his lips and letting his intense gaze jump from his face to his neck and chest. The pale delicate hand started at his shoulder and touched his chest, rolling his nipple between the soft fingertips as Hoseok parted his lips with the tip of his tongue, without deepening the kiss and only teasing him with a playful smile playing around his curved lips.

Hyungwon moaned and tried to hold his breath, but it wasn't possible when he had to keep his lips parted to meet the kisses. He didn't want to miss a single one as he held on tightly to the older man's shoulders and stroked over his back. Hoseok was really beautiful up close, the contrast of his black eyes and blonde hair, the broad body that covered him whole and those soft lips that stole his breath away. It was a little scary, but not in the way Hyungwon would have expected it to be. He was scared of not being in control of his actions, not of the way Hoseok made him feel.

He wants to make you lose it.

Meanwhile Hoseok's hands arrived at the waistband of his jeans and opened the button with a quick movement.

"Can I take them off?" the low voice vibrated against his neck right below his ear as Hoseok attached his soft lips to the sensitive skin, kissing and nibbling on it.

"Yeah," Hyungwon breathed out and closed his eyes to focus on the way it felt to be caressed. There were no terrifying images as soon as his eyes fell shut and he was relieved about the mixture of safety and burning arousal in his chest and groin. Hoseok would have warned him that the boa wasn't safe had he known his thoughts, but Hyungwon didn't care about that. It felt safe to him, safer than anything else he had experienced until now. His fingers travelled from Hoseok's back to the soft hair and he pulled lightly, curious whether the older man would enjoy it.

A hiss followed the pull, before Hoseok escaped his grip, pulling his jeans down his long legs. Instead of crawling back up, the blonde man started kissing his right calf and thigh while stroking over his left leg with his fingers, alternating the pressure. The hot lips travelled up slowly before they finally arrived at the fabric of his underwear and the older man glanced up.

Even though he says that he's dangerous he keeps warning you.

Hyungwon's dizziness returned full force, accompanied by arousal that pulled a soft moan from his lips. His breaths were ragged even though Hoseok was only caressing his skin, touching his naked legs and licking those beautiful lips of his. It seemed like the boa was asking him for permission to continue, so he propped up on his elbows to show that he was aware and nodded briefly.

Instead of undressing him further, Hoseok continued placing open mouthed kisses along his stomach. Isolating his index finger, the blonde man slid it over the length of his clothed erection.

Hyungwon's whole body jerked with pleasure and he was grateful that Hoseok was lying on top of him and made it impossible to knee him in the face. The moan that left his mouth didn't sound like himself and he bit down on his lips painfully to keep quiet.

A grin spread the curved lips as the dark, round eyes looked up from under the blonde bangs and Hoseok moved his tongue like a snake before licking a stripe over his clothed dick. Hyungwon's eyes widened and he immediately lifted both of his hands to his lips, covering them tightly as a loud whimper still echoed through the room. He attempted to hide the tremble in his legs and the way his erection twitched against his will by pulling his thighs together, but it wasn't very effective.

He's playing with you and he likes it.

"The boa seems fond of the puppy," he managed to whisper, sound escaping between the spaces of his long fingers. His eyes met Hoseok's and Hyungwon didn't need a mirror to know that his cheeks were pink. Desperate whimpers and hisses kept leaving his lips and it felt so good, even though Hoseok wasn't even doing much. It was embarrassing to be that loud, but the expression on the older man's face told him that he must've enjoyed it.

"Mhm, it's fun and I like the way you taste," the low voice commented before his trunks were pulled down his legs and thrown somewhere carelessly. Hoseok played the same game all over again, kissing and caressing his legs until he arrived between them and licked a strip from his shaft to the tip, teasing the latter with his snake-like tongue movements.

Oh god.

Without any fabric in the way, the sensation was so much more intense. Hyungwon's body shook in response and he wasn't even aware enough to muffle the sound this time, hands grabbing the sheets next to his hips instead. He still had freedom, but he was barely aware of it with how automatic the next motion of his hips was, as if his body desired to encourage Hoseok all on its own.

"Fuck, sorry," he gasped and let his head fall back to the mattress, vision blurry with streaks of white.

"There's nothing wrong with wanting to be touched. You taste delicious, so it's fine," Hoseok whispered before throwing one of his legs over his muscular shoulder and taking him into his hot mouth.

Hyungwon screamed at the burst of pleasure that centered in his groin and burned every single coherent thought from his mind. He couldn't even care less about whether he had any responsibilities or had to leave early, none of it mattered for as long as those hot hands held his hips and heat enveloped him. He tried to apologize to Hoseok for involuntarily thrusting in his face again, but he didn't manage and only moaned again, sound low and desperate. Hyungwon hadn't heard himself sound like that, not even when he touched himself, away from curious eyes and ears.

The older man only hummed, sending more arousal through his body and reached for his nipples, playing with them while the curved lips tightened around him further every time Hoseok sank down and let his tip hit the back of his throat.

"Hoseok- I-" he mumbled, but wasn't even sure what he wanted to say. His throat was rough from moaning, heel digging into the older man's naked back, encouraging him to steal his breath away. A release from the building of his arousal seemed close enough to grasp, right there in his groin. Hyungwon felt like it only needed a little more, an additional touch and motion of Hoseok's hot mouth to fall apart.

"Please," he begged and covered his eyes with his right arm, panting heavily and not even bothering to muffle his sounds. He didn't have the strength. "Please, Hoseok."

Instead of continuing, the blonde man let him go and teased the transition between head and shaft with his tongue, playing with the twitches while his gaze didn't lose any of its intensity. "Look, you're so close," Hoseok whispered before tightening his lips around him and sinking down until he could feel the warm mouth touch his groin. That single motion was enough to throw him over the edge with force as he screamed and buried his nails in the sheets and whatever it was that he could reach, thighs shaking and chest rising and falling swiftly.

White patches still covered his vision as Hyungwon attempted to recover from the wrecking pleasure in his groin and the heat that remained for longer than he expected it to. Blinking way too many times, he tried to lift his head and focus his gaze on Hoseok.

The older man was busy licking the rest of his release from his penis. Hoseok was concentrating but it didn't prevent him from playing with his reactions and his oversensitivity. The blonde man placed a kiss on his tip and looked up, catching his gaze. "You're delicious," he whispered with a grin.

He likes this so much.

Hyungwon felt dumbfounded, unable to comment anything proper or that could at least remotely sum up the way he felt. His body was still trembling a little and his brain only now caught up with the fact that the older man had voluntarily taken his dick into his mouth. Watching Hoseok play with him was the most intrigued and cheerful Hyungwon had seen him since their first meeting.

"Oh my god," he whispered and felt hyper aware of the fact that he was naked. Usually he would have felt ashamed, but Hoseok didn't seem to mind at all, rather the opposite.

He said he finds you very attractive when you are naked.

"Isn't it… bitter?" he asked eventually and glanced to the side to hide every hint of embarrassment that could have possibility stained his features.

"No, it's sweet, like you." Hoseok winked and licked over his lips before crawling up and letting himself fall on the sheets next to him. There was tender blush on the older man's pale cheeks that he hadn't noticed before.

He's aroused, isn't he?

Hyungwon chewed on his cheek and turned towards the blonde man, lying down on top of his naked chest the way he had before. The healthy blush and glistening lips were pretty and he couldn't resist staring a little longer until he finally leaned in and sucked a patch of skin right below Hoseok's ear into his mouth. It tasted good, with a hint of salt and he licked over his lips and went for it again, this time with the prettily formed collarbone.

You can make him feel good too, can't you?

"You want more?" the older man asked audibly surprised, hissing at the kisses and let his hot hands slide over his back, drawing along his spine with his fingers and the curve of his butt. The touch made Hyungwon hyper aware of the fact that he was stark naked whereas Hoseok had only removed his shirt. Suddenly, he felt desperate to change that and not be the only one this exposed.

He's always the boa, isn't he? Fully in control.

Hyungwon didn't reply and merely continued covering Hoseok's chest in kisses, repeating what he had seen the blonde man do to him. His lips closed around a hardened nipple and he sucked on it to see whether Hoseok enjoyed it just as much. If there was something Hyungwon was good at, then it was definitely learning. Adapting was the only thing that kept him alive all this time.

A gorgeous low moan filled the bedroom, vibrating in the air even after Hoseok pressed his lips together. The older man's fingers raked through his curls, grabbed a fistful and pulled enough for a spark of pain that mixed with pleasure. Hyungwon gasped against the bud between his lips, but caught himself quickly to continue, playing with the hardened nipple the way Hoseok had with him.

Maybe you can make him let go after all?

Attempting to multitask, he let his right hand travel over Hoseok's abdomen and defined abs until his fingers traced the waistband of Hoseok's pants. They seemed uncomfortably tight, so Hyungwon simply decided that it was okay to touch because he had done it before.

When he placed your hand on his groin, not the other time.

He swallowed and paired an intense suck with a touch of his fingers that finally dared to stroke along the outline of Hoseok's rather long erection.

"Is puppy curious about the boa?" Hoseok whispered, lips parting in a moan. The older man must've been similarly sensitive. “However, you definitely shouldn’t be, baby.”

Hyungwon didn’t even know what exactly the older man did with how fast it happened. He only felt that he was pulled up while the strong, muscular arms curled around him and he was lifted in the air. His feet touched the floor after a moment while the tight grip around his waist loosened gradually. “I’ll show you your toothbrush, or do you want to put something on first?” the low voice whispered before the curved lips touched his for a split second.

He blinked rapidly, attempting not to get dizzy with the sudden switch of position and the blood that had to fight to return to his head. Hyungwon looked up to meet Hoseok's gaze and understand why the older man considered it necessary to interrupt whatever it was that he had been doing only to brush their teeth.

He doesn't want you to get too close.

His jaw tensed at the unexpected rejection and he merely nodded before hurrying to his underwear that Hoseok had thrown pretty far from the bed and pulling it over his scrawny butt. Hesitating briefly, he also found his oversized shirt and added that too for good measure.

Were you too slow? Is that why he had enough time to decide against being touched even though he liked it?

"Why shouldn't I be curious?" he asked finally when his eyes met the blonde man who was still standing in the middle of the room and observed his antics.

"Because you'll get hurt playing with a giant boa. I hope you liked the way I touched you though. You looked pretty with the blushed cheeks and everything." Hyungwon could see the older man's obvious arousal through the tightness of his pants, especially when Hoseok finally moved, pale muscular body coming closer before the blonde man opened the wardrobe and took out a simple black shirt. It was impossible to ignore the intricate lines of muscles on his back and the curve of his behind. "Here, it's freshly washed, you can wear that."

Unfair, it was plain unfair and Hyungwon didn't know how to deal with the shitty argumentation. If Hoseok wanted it to be believable, he should at least not run around with an erection and be obviously interested. Hyungwon understood the concept of self-control, but there was no reason for it, not if the consequences were clear to the older man and the desire present.

You were scared of him a few weeks ago and now you're angry that he doesn't let you touch him.

The thought sounded hypocritical and made him think of what had happened to him, sending a shiver down his spine. It was wrong to be angry about Hoseok not wanting to be close to him, terribly wrong.

But it's not the same, he wants it but thinks you should stay away from him.

Grabbing the black shirt from Hoseok's hands, he exchanged it with his own grey one and chewed on his cheek, unsure how he was supposed to feel about this.

"So this is for my sake and not your own?" he asked quietly once he pulled the sweet-scented shirt over his head and met the older man's gaze.

"I did think about you being a conservative virgin, but you seem unaware. Mostly it's because I don't want to show you this part of myself. But I can show you the toothbrush instead." Hoseok winked and walked past him towards the bathroom, shuffling sounds indicating the older man was probably searching for a new toothbrush.

There it is, the boa at its finest.

Hyungwon attempted to swallow down the spark of anger that developed, but he still knew that it was hiding somewhere in his chest. He understood that the blonde man doubted whether he really wanted this. Hyungwon would have doubted it too, had his body not been burning and had his dreams not suddenly began to make sense. He wasn't ready to reflect on what this meant for him yet, but he decided that he had some interest in the older man that went beyond learning how to be an amazing activist.

That's a very light way to put it, isn't it?

Maybe Hoseok was right about the necessary break and the possibility to reflect on what was happening between them, but Hyungwon didn't want it to rip a whole fucking chasm in between them. He still didn't know if the older man was going to leave as soon as he walked out of the door to return to his family.

Pulling at the seam of the shirt to make sure it covered more, he entered the bathroom and stepped closer to the mirror. There was still pink color on his cheeks and his lips looked much more swollen than he had ever seen them before. He reached out with his right hand and covered them, eyes switching their attention to Hoseok.

"What happens now?" he whispered, sound partially muffled by his hand. It was no use, so he turned on the tap and washed his face with ice cold water to return his coherency. He didn't know what to do with himself, especially not now.

"I'm glad that you finally decided to ask a proper question. I will give you a new toothbrush,  a fresh blanket and then you'll be a good puppy and sleep. Then in the morning, I'll drop you off at your house because I have a meeting ten minutes away from there at seven thirty and you have to take Jimin to Kindergarten at eight, so you'll manage. After that, you'll nail your seminar, your interview and preferably also gain awareness that you shouldn't try to get close to me while feeling joyful and happy." The older man grabbed his palm and placed a new toothbrush into it, before brushing his own teeth.

He knows everything about you, every single appointment, the name of your brother even though you have never mentioned it and the time you have courses.

Hyungwon didn't remark on it and merely observed Hoseok as his fingers curled around the toothbrush in his hand, tight enough to make the plastic cut into his palm.

Shit.

Hoseok was going to disappear again, convinced that Hyungwon needed to stay away and live his life far away from him. Hyungwon had hoped that the blonde man understood that if the consequences weren't going to change, there was no point in staying away from him. Somehow he thought that after kissing he could at least have Hoseok's presence without the constant fear of arriving at an empty apartment.

His bottom lip trembled and he turned to the side to make sure Hoseok couldn't see it. He didn't want him to.

"I won't gain awareness," he muttered, but still didn't look towards Hoseok. "The only one who I hoped would gain awareness is you. Awareness that I don't care whether you are going to hurt me or not. Your warnings don't matter to me anymore, Hoseok. I want to be next to you independent of all that."

"No, puppy. You will gain awareness, but it'll be too late when you do," the low voice muttered as Hoseok placed his black toothbrush into the provided container and left the room before he heard shuffling and the light creaking of the bed that gave out under the other man's weight.

Hyungwon threw the packed toothbrush against the wall out of frustration, but the action was pointless and he picked it up again. The toothbrush wasn't at fault for his helplessness, after all it had already been present before. This wasn't the first time that Hoseok turned him down and told him to stay away, warning him that he was going to break him.

He keeps saying it, but you still don't know why he wants to do it.

He didn't say a single word when he returned to the bedroom and simply wrapped his slim body in the new blanket that lay next to the older man's side. It felt strange to be allowed to sleep next to him, even though they had been even closer, kissing intently only moments ago.

He shared so many things with you, but now he's like a locked door.

Hyungwon turned his back towards the older man and covered his face with the blanket, inhaling the strong cherry scent and thinking about what his options were. He couldn't bear Hoseok disappearing again. If only he knew a way to change the blonde man's mind, be it about keeping him close, hurting him or even fighting the current regime. No matter how distant Hoseok was, Hyungwon simply couldn't give up on the older man.

"Goodnight, Hoseok," he whispered and squeezed his eyes shut, hoping that he was going to fall asleep instead of reflecting on all the experiences and thoughts that still fought for attention in his mind. "I didn't lie when I said that I like you, even if you don't believe me."

"Just shut up and get your good night kiss," Hoseok murmured in reply, not commenting on his confession any further. The reply angered him, so he didn't move even though he wanted to, head screaming at him to get a touch of those lips if it was offered. Hyungwon didn't want to be like that, so he pressed his lips into a thin line and didn't dare to move, nails digging into the soft skin of his palm.

You need to understand him, you can't if you stay away.

Hyungwon was convinced that he wanted the right thing and that getting through the thick shell was the key to it all, to everything that was happening around him, to the ambivalent behavior of the boa and the hammering in his chest that drowned out every other sound.

Maybe you need to understand the boa before you can understand him.

 

 

Chapter Text

It isn’t working the way you wanted it to because he keeps putting all his efforts into being next to you instead of preparing for his interviews.

Hoseok groaned into his phone and pulled into the guest parking spot at the parliament building before turning off the engine.

"What do you mean he isn’t doing anything with the money? He was supposed to put it into campaigns and buy materials, what the hell is he doing?" He rubbed his hair against the fabric of his leather seat.

"We transferred thirty thousand to their donation fund, but my person reported that the money hasn't been used. The target seems unaware but also hasn't been at any meeting, so it seems as if he simply hasn't realized yet. What should we do next?" The voice echoed in his head while his own thoughts reminded him of a messy pile of clothes that didn't seem to fit.

He said he likes you.

"Just wait for my call," he muttered and hung up. Next was the secretary of the head of the German press agency and Hoseok had the silent hope that he had better news, but after reading and watching every interview, he wasn't so sure.

"Hello Mr. Lee. We sent out more invitations and tried to call the person of interest, but they didn't pick up and haven’t reacted to our emails yet. We have more offers, but at this point it seems as if they aren't interested in media and press coverage. Maybe you should consider getting involved."

Oh for fuck's sake.

"I see. I will. Keep up the good work," he commented absentmindedly and hung up.

This won't run smoothly, will it? You need to get involved again, coach him and tell him what to do.

Hoseok shook off the shudder that ran down his spine at the images of the black curls right in front of his face while the handsome boy lay on top of him, naked and so attractive, kissing him as if it was the only thing that mattered. The sudden intimacy wasn't part of his strategy, on the contrary, it was disturbing it, making the younger man obsessed with his wish to get to know him, the boa. That fool.

Of course he obsesses. That's why he is an activist, he gets attached, emotional, foolish and wanting something he can never have.

However, Hoseok still couldn't understand the sudden attraction the boy expressed towards him. Sure, it was easy to play considering how sensitive and eager puppy was to be touched and Hoseok wanted to see the pretty blushed cheeks while ideally replacing the terrible memories with new, arousing ones.

Why would you care about his memories?

Homophobia was the worst and puppy seemed to learn so fast, understanding and changing, not only with his smart brain, but also following up with his behavior. The jumps the boy made in the shortest time were remarkable and Hoseok liked it more than he was willing to admit. It had been so easy to recognize how good he was able to make Hyungwon feel. Good enough to express the wish to touch him back even though the boy had been terrified only a few weeks ago.

But this is not a meaningless hook up, you shouldn't allow him to get close.

At least that was clear. However, it didn't help him follow through with his strategy to stay away and let the fundamentals work towards his goal. He couldn't stay away and had to get involved again.

But maybe you can teach him, Hoseok. He'll need the skills to get back on his feet after you crush him down.

Sighing, he glanced at the parliament building and felt a little bit tired for the first time since he’d started.

Maybe you just need to go back to Tibet. It's easier to not get emotionally attached if there's nothing you can get attached to.

_

 

"Where are you going, stop right there!" Hannah ran after him and finally managed to grab his wrist. She tried her best and used all of her strength to prevent him from leaving his office.

"I have a meeting, I'm late," he murmured and tried to shake his sister off without looking because looking was always bad.

She knows too well how she has to stare for you to become weak.

"You are trying to escape because you've read my message, aren't you? I'm so proud of you, I've seen what you put in Hyungwon's box because Jimin was curious and we unpacked it together. You went shopping for him and even bought shoes in his size. Hoseok, that was so nice of you! I thought you just gave money but you were so considerate." He tried his best to suppress the need to run away as fast as possible.

"It's nothing, it means absolutely nothing, don't imagine anything."

Well done appearing like a panicky teenager, aren't you a genius strategist, Hoseok?

"Ay, you know I don't believe a single word. He told me that he stayed over at your place. Are you dating? He's quite young, but such a sweetheart, I think he's perfect for you." The familiar round eyes appeared right in front of his face as his sister grinned at him.

Why does she have to like him out of all people?

"No. We're definitely not dating, he's an activist and I'm a strategist at an automotive company, what do you think we have in common? I want him to stop protesting and he wants me to stop the lobbyism. The thing is that I'll definitely destroy him because I can and that's it," he hissed, pulling his hand out of Hannah's grip and brushing his hair back in frustration.

"Wow, you're venomous. Interdisciplinary projects are the big thing right now, so you can collaborate and create something cool instead of practicing stupid medieval antagonism. He has amazing ideas and he suffered so much, don't you dare hurt him." His sister slapped his arm painfully, before turning around and walking back to her office. "You better come to the summer celebration at the refugee home, I mean it," she hissed before disappearing inside one of the long hallways.

First you'll catch him after his class.

He didn't reply and left the building like he planned and drove to the university building where puppy had his lecture on hydraulics. He found the location easily and decided to wait in front of the door to not miss the boy coming out.

Be reasonable.

He heard shuffling and the door opened as the students left the lecture hall, talking loudly and stealing a few glances at him. He must've looked alien while standing there in his blue Versace suit. A few girls giggled among themselves and gestured towards him with their chins, trying not to be obvious. It didn't work.

Hyungwon was one of the last students, heavy backpack thrown over his bony shoulders and eyes fixed on the screen of his phone. The boy was wearing some of the clothes Hoseok had picked out for him, a tight pair of jeans that hugged his thighs snugly and a simple t-shirt that was cut to emphasize his waist. Puppy looked as good as Hoseok had imagined he would.

Instead of stopping and recognizing Hoseok, the boy simply ran past him, hurrying somewhere with his phone pressed to his ear.

For fuck's sake.

Hoseok sprinted a few meters after him and attempted to grab his wrist, but it didn't work so he stopped the boy by curling an arm around his waist.

What drama is this?

"Don't run away, puppy," he muttered, turning him. The obvious expression of terror was not what he had expected as Hyungwon dropped his phone to the floor in the middle of his phone call and stared at him with wide eyes, hands pressed flat against his chest to push him away. However, all attempts stopped immediately as soon as the boy stared at his face for a few moments, finally recognizing him.

"Hoseok? What- what are you doing here?" Hyungwon asked and looked around as if he expected some kind of event that he hadn't been aware of.

"The boa came to bite you," he hissed, before his lips spread into a grin. "Kidding. I decided that I would be willing to coach you for a little longer, if you like."

"I-" Hyungwon's hands were still flat against Hoseok's chest, but the boy wasn't applying pressure anymore, he merely looked embarrassed as he kept them there and glanced to the side. "I'd love to, of course, only- fuck, where's my phone?"

Turning his head quickly, puppy glanced around until he identified his phone, several meters away from them and with an obviously cracked screen. Hoseok didn't need to step closer to know that it was a lost cause.

"Oh my god, no," Hyungwon whispered and didn't move.

Technically it's your fault.

"I'm sorry, it's my fault, I shouldn't have touched you out of the blue. Let's go, I'll get you a new one." Hoseok chewed on his lips to hide that he was really sorry and gestured towards the exit. The black-haired boy shook his head furiously and freed himself to run towards the poor excuse of a phone. Lifting it from the ground, Hyungwon was careful not to cut himself with the shards that splintered off the screen and stared at it for at least a few seconds until he turned towards Hoseok.

“Shit, I can’t go with you, Hoseok. The kindergarten called, but I don’t know why and now I can't find out and-” Puppy looked close to a mental breakdown, holding the device like it could help him somehow while hyperventilating.

"No problem, let's just go there. It's a five minute ride, Hyungwon, we'll figure it out." Pulling his phone out of his pocket, Hoseok googled the number of Jimin's kindergarten and dialed it, listening to the beeps. "Here," he handed his phone to the younger man quickly.

Hyungwon pressed it to his ear with both hands as if his life depended on it, introducing himself briefly and listening intently while nodding even though the person on the other end wasn’t able to see it. The longer the conversation continued, the wider the boy’s eyes became until he ended the call with a brief ‘I’ll be right there’ and just ran, Hoseok’s phone still in his hand.

"Wait," he yelled and ran after him. God, why was this so complicated?

You can't have it easy with this project, can you?

"Just jump into my car, you fool, it's fast and more efficient than running away with my phone!" He caught the boy by his wrist and pulled him towards his car, opening the door and pushing him into the passenger seat, before jumping in himself. "Buckle up."

Hyungwon was breathing heavily from his brief sprint and yanked at the seat belt so roughly that it got stuck. Taking a deep breath to calm down, the boy tried it again, this time successfully as the seat belt clicked and he sank into the soft leather of the passenger seat.

“He’s hurt,” Hyungwon murmured and covered his face with both palms, as if he wanted to hide it. “We need to hurry.”

"I tried to escape two cars following me last year, so I'm really good at this," he replied and pulled out, driving onto the main street and going 70 km/h in the city. He knew Hyungwon wouldn't approve, but then again he didn't care. Three minutes, it was a new record as he stopped right in front of the entrance and jumped out.

"Does he need medical assistance?" he asked, running after Hyungwon and trying to plan ahead. The black-haired boy didn’t even turn as he ran through the gate and furiously pressed the entry button until one of the women allowed him in and was nice enough to keep the door open for Hoseok to follow. A single step was sufficient to see the little boy sitting on a bench, crying bitterly and with a bloodstained tissue pressed to his head. Puppy immediately wrapped his arms around his little brother and began whispering something into his ear, long fingers stroking over the small head as he cradled him in his arms.

“You should take him to the hospital. We haven’t called an ambulance because you  asked us not to, but he needs immediate medical assistance,” the woman that opened the door next to them remarked with pursed lips and glanced at Hoseok towards the end of her monologue, as if he was the authority.

"Okay," he murmured, unsure what else to say and crouched down to look at the chubby kid. Winking, he took the boy's small hand and stroked over it. "It's okay," he said in their native language because Hannah had attempted to teach him things to surprise Hyungwon for no reason and his memory was too good for his own sake.

Puppy switched his head towards him so quickly that it made a sound, eyes wide until he must have remembered that his shock could freak his little brother out. Jimin took his comment positively, surprised at first but then with a cute smile despite the tears that still ran down his round cheeks.

Hyungwon began speaking quickly, saying something he didn’t understand and switching languages while glancing at the kindergarten teacher and back to the kid.

“We can’t go to the hospital,” he eventually said in English and chewed on his cheek. He looked devastated and lifted his hands to the bloodstained tissue that stuck to his brother’s forehead. After peeling it off lightly, the big eyes only widened further. It was a laceration and Hoseok didn’t need to be a doctor to know that it required stitches. “Shit,” Hyungwon hissed and buried his face in his hands.

"It'll be fine," Hoseok commented and simply lifted the kid and nodded at the kindergarten teacher before leaving the building and walking to his car. He didn't have a booster seat, but the SUV had special, child friendly back seats.

The company did something right for once.

He pulled out the bottom part and placed the kid on top of it, buckling him up. "That's a car," he said again in Alia's native language and felt like a complete idiot. The little boy wiggled  his legs and smiled at him. “Car,” he replied, but in German.

"Right, it's a big car that will take you to the doctor." Hoseok smiled and pressed a fresh tissue against the wound. "You have to hold it there, okay?"

Hyungwon’s brother didn’t look like he understood, but he held it to his forehead anyway, probably because the caretakers at the kindergarten had asked him to do the same.

“But my insurance won’t cover the hospital, Hoseok,” Hyungwon muttered as he climbed into the passenger seat and buckled up himself. Even though the tall boy resisted, he seemed desperate enough to follow Hoseok anyway and trust him with his hurt brother. He looked embarrassed as he played with his fingers and glanced to the back, forcing a smile to calm down the little boy. “Hoseok, they’ll treat him and then- then we’ll get a bill that I can’t pay because it’s beyond what they pay for refugee health insurance."

"God, just shut up, he needs treatment, I'll pay for it." He couldn't believe that Hyungwon would start money discussions while the kid had a cut open forehead. "Next time we should do a charity event to give everybody proper medical insurance," he muttered and asked himself how the government could treat people like that.

But why would you care?

Because it wasn't something an individual was responsible for, it was about basic human needs and the lack of equality between people only based on their citizenship status.

“Before… I tried to take care of the wounds myself. I had to when we were on the run,” Hyungwon whispered next to him and pressed himself flat against the seat, hands squeezed between his thighs. He looked scared, but not for himself. “Thank you, Hoseok.”

"There is not even one thing that I’ve done up until now that you should be grateful for," he whispered and drove as fast as he could until they arrived at the ER. "Racism is everywhere, so let me do this, okay?" Hoseok asked as he lifted Hyungwon's brother out of the car and hurried towards the entrance.

The hospital was one of the fancy ones that was properly organised and definitely had the capability to stitch up a laceration. He immediately walked through to the registration and called the employee over.

"My son has a deep cut on his forehead from a fall at the kindergarten and it needs to be stitched. I’ll pay privately." The last sentence was of course the clue for the personnel to start running and immediately giving Jimin all their attention. They were allowed to charge more if it was paid without insurance or with private insurance, so they gave higher priority to those patients, independent of urgency. People were superficial assholes but it worked.

Now you suddenly have a son.

The boy gave his best to appear cheerful but still cried a little while the pediatrician stitched the cut. However, he couldn't say the same about Hyungwon. The young man was still shocked and looked overwhelmed, hugging his own waist helplessly while his long fingers dug into his sides. It looked painful.

He's terrified that something will happen. He has probably seen enough to know that it can.

Hoseok placed his hand on top of the slim shoulder and squeezed once. "It'll be fine, Hyungwon, don't worry."

The black-haired man didn't reply but moved closer towards him. His black curls tickled his neck as the boy leaned down to rest his head on top of his shoulder. He was shivering a little and chewed on his bottom lip as the doctor kept working on his little brother's wound.

"Thank you," the low voice whispered suddenly, not elaborating further.

"It's nothing," he said in Hyungwon's native language and suddenly felt lost. As if it had suddenly become too intimate. As if their conversation, the situations they ended up in together suddenly became heavy, overwhelming, too much.

He knew all too well that the more they experienced together, the more the cut would bleed after it was over.

And you know that it won't only bleed for him.

***

Hyungwon had almost forgotten what real fear felt like. He forgot the sensation of vicious teeth eating their way through his stomach without an ounce of resistance, hands ripping his chest apart in an attempt to pull him towards a course of action. All this time in Germany, he hadn't been afraid, not remembering the type of terror that had no return.

Nothing matters anymore when a person is gone for good.

Dark red blood was staining the cloth that Jimin pressed against his head and none of the drops escaped, but still Hyungwon felt like he was hearing the distinct sound of blood dripping onto a cold floor. His hands were shaking and he barely managed to force words of consolation past his lips. He whispered meaningless things, that everything would be okay and he would take care of it, that it would stop hurting. All things he couldn't be sure of. He couldn't be sure of anything.

You are lying to him because you don't want him to be as terrified as you are.

He pressed the little body to his chest, unwilling to let go and fighting away the images of the same small face, only a little younger and stained with blood and bruises. He couldn't bear it anymore. The sight had been so far away before, overshadowed by his positive experiences and his will to survive.

But this isn't something you can control. You can't even protect your own brother from getting hurt.

Memories starting pouring in, his helpless attempts to take care of Jimin's wounds when they were on the run, still aided by his father because he had been aware enough back then. Hyungwon had ignored his own injuries then, resulting in the scarring on his shoulders and abdomen. It didn't matter as long as Jimin was safe. He had promised to take care of him, but here he was hugging the little boy while knowing exactly that he couldn't bring him to the hospital.

You can't keep him safe.

The low voice that talked to the caretakers barely registered in his mind until Hoseok suddenly took the little boy and hurried to his car. Hyungwon felt dizzy when he followed, slipping into the passenger seat knowing that they couldn't afford a hospital. The insurance only covered basic wounds and didn't care much for Hyungwon's family. He had to get the insurance for studying back then and refugee insurance barely paid anything.

You don't have money for this, you can't help him because all of it costs money.

He wanted to cry, for the first time since his mother died.

"I'll pay for it," Hoseok spoke next to him, already in the driver's seat and started the engine to drive them to the hospital. Hyungwon couldn't believe it, hands still shaking as his eyes widened. To somebody else it might have been meaningless because Hoseok Lee was rich, but Hyungwon didn't care about that. Even a rich person had the choice to give or not to give financial support, to help or not to help somebody.

He's helping him on his own, without you asking for it.

Hyungwon hadn't even thought of requesting help, too used to being on his own. His breaths sped up and he struggled to not hyperventilate, calming himself with Jimin's cheerful giggles because the older man had spoken Alian to him.

He's okay, it's going to be okay.

It still sounded like a lie in his head, something he had told himself too many times to believe it. The 'thank you' that left his lips as soon as they got going sounded pathetic compared to what Hoseok had done for them.

The blonde man was so much calmer than him, easily taking Jimin from the car and hurrying inside the ER. Hyungwon felt like he had to give something in return, anything, but there was nothing to give. Leaving all his belongings in the car, he ran after the two of them and trembled while Hoseok spoke to the reception.

They wouldn't treat him immediately because he is a refugee, even if you could pay.

The thought that somebody could ignore a hurt child because of something as meaningless as origin returned the feeling of helplessness and anger that burned in his chest. He merely stood there as Jimin was brought to a spacious doctor's office and given a toy while the female doctor prepared what she needed, even a spray to numb the area. Hyungwon couldn't believe how different the treatment was, only because Hoseok said it was his own child and that he was paying privately.

He's doing so much for you.

Hyungwon didn't care what happened to him, he was able to deal with it somehow, be it wounds from running or being touched against his will. All these things didn't matter, it only mattered that he could keep the little boy safe, his brother who was crying at the slight pain in his forehead and the inability to understand what was happening.

His arms were wrapped tightly around his waist as he fought to keep himself calm, to not succumb to his memories and all the things that could have happened. Hyungwon didn't know what he would have done without Hoseok's help, there was nothing he could have done.

"It'll be fine, Hyungwon, don't worry," Hoseok whispered next to him and Hyungwon felt a warm and steady weight on his shoulder, squeezing once. For the first time the words sounded believable, like Hoseok knew better, could assess the situation and keep him safe.

He couldn't bear it any longer, tired of being on his own for such a long time and stepped closer, disregarding personal space to rest his head on top of Hoseok's shoulder. He was in no position to expect comfort after everything the older man had done for him, but he couldn't help it.

"Thank you," he breathed out and his voice sounded wrecked. He didn't loosen the arms around his waist, but he closed his eyes and attempted to focus on the warmth of Hoseok's neck, the comfort of having somebody to lean on. It was scary to take the risk of relying on somebody that wasn't him but at the same time it felt so safe that his chest hurt at the mere thought of letting go again.

"It's nothing," the blonde man replied, but it wasn't English. It was Alian. The older man was the first person apart from his father and his brother that spoke his mother tongue to him. Hyungwon's body jerked at the words, suddenly aware that the older man had been using his language all this time. His pronunciation contained an accent, but Hyungwon appreciated it nevertheless. It was more than anybody else had ever done for him.

He might not want to, but he cares, Hyungwon.

Inhaling sharply, he kept the air in his lungs and carefully removed his arms from his waist. He didn't know what possessed him and gave him permission to do what he did next, but he allowed his arms to circle Hoseok's waist and buried his face in the crook of his neck, adjusting to the height difference by bending his knees. He didn't expect to be embraced back, there was no reason for Hoseok to do that, but he hoped that he wasn't forcing the boa back by stepping closer.

You need this more than anything, more than you thought.

“They will take care of him, it’s not a very deep cut, don’t worry,” Hoseok whispered and wrapped an arm around his shoulders, stroking over his messy curls. “You seem more scared than he is.”

"Because I know what can happen and he doesn't," Hyungwon replied quietly, hoping that Hoseok was able to decipher his words if he murmured them into the collar of his suit. "I hope he doesn't remember anything. It's okay if only I do."

Maybe this is the key. You keep the memories for all of them, so they can live in peace, start over.

“Memories are what shape us, no matter how bad they are or how hurtful they might seem. I’m someone who can’t forget, I remember every tiny detail of the things I’ve experienced, the words people spoke to me, their faces, how I felt, all of it. I can understand you, I am similar when it comes to Hannah, but in the end I can’t guarantee anything. She won’t be safer only because I can’t handle the feeling of uncertainty.” The older man pushed him a little, until they were face to face and brushed a few of his black curls behind his ear. “I’ll tell you one thing as someone who was able to get rid of the crippling agony. You become an animal, Hyungwon, unable to feel anything at all because there is no love without hurt and no happiness without black despair. I don’t think of you as someone who would want something like that.”

Hyungwon observed Hoseok intently, attempting to see behind the words, understand if Hoseok was satisfied with the decision he had made for himself.

He doesn't sound like it.

"Why did you make that choice then?" he asked quietly and let his hands slip lower until they reached Hoseok's hips. He felt troubled by his memories, but he could bear them. He had decided that they were a part of him, just like his fear of losing somebody. Hoseok sounded like he distanced himself to not feel the pain of loss.

“I told you, to get rid of the hurt, I lived without anything for a year, without a home, without a partner, without my family or friends and without belongings and became someone who doesn’t need anything because I know that it won’t give me peace of mind. When I moved after you found me, I felt regret for a split second, before simply abandoning everything at once. I know how to do it and it helps me to keep myself in a cave where nothing and nobody can hurt me.” Hoseok talked without establishing eye contact, but during the last part, the dark eyes found his and he recognized a softness that hadn’t been there before. It was only a brief moment, but he had seen it.

Does he feel differently about you? Would he miss you if you were gone?

Hyungwon couldn't tell, Hoseok was too difficult to read. Only the older man's actions suggested hints of affection, care that hasn't been there before. Hoseok cared enough to give him clothes, take care of his brother and whisper words at him that he didn't believe when they stemmed from himself.

"I can't abandon everything because I could never forgive myself for leaving somebody who can't fight for himself," he muttered and glanced towards Jimin briefly who was sniffing and looking at him. Hyungwon smiled, waiting until he received a cute smile in return. The sight was so reassuring that he felt like he was about to collapse from relief, body giving in after an hour of adrenalin. His hands were still holding onto Hoseok's hips and he finally let go, choosing decency over his own comfort.

“Me neither, that’s why I don’t adopt anyone in the first place,” Hoseok whispered and turned to the pediatrician, talking to her about aftercare and asking to give him a prescription so he could get it at the pharmacy. The older man left Jimin with him and went on to pay for the treatment, easily wrapping the personnel around his finger without being asked unnecessary questions about his imaginary son, while getting everything he wanted on top of it all. “Let’s drop by a pharmacy,” he said, grabbing his brother's hand and smiling at him.

Jimin was as wrapped around Hoseok's finger as the personnel were, grabbing the older man's hand and attempting to swing by holding onto Hyungwon and Hoseok at the same time. It was a little embarrassing and Hyungwon chewed on his cheek to swallow it down, hoping that the blonde man was okay with it.

"Thank you," he murmured again, but it felt just as meaningless as the time before. It didn't weight against everything Hoseok had done. "I promised to take care of him, so I will. My father… he isn't able to."

“I don’t mean to butt in, but there is a woman, she lives on the third floor in your building, she is from a neighboring country, but speaks Alian. She is a psychotherapist and would be willing to counsel your father. She has done it with a few people already, but as I said, only if he feels ready to.” Hoseok secured his brother in the backseat, before dropping into the driver's seat without a comment. “Where should I go after the pharmacy?”

"W-what?" Hyungwon stuttered, unsure what to say to something like that. He didn't waste time on being surprised that Hoseok knew about his father's mental health problems, but he didn't know there was another person speaking Alian in their refugee home. The woman must have chosen not to approach them so far.

Or you haven't been around long enough to meet her.

Hyungwon didn't even know what to say. He wasn't very hopeful about his father deciding to have counselling. “To the refugee home, Jimin should be home.”

The thought of his father getting counselling was hopeful, a little too hopeful even.

"On some days he doesn't even recognize me. But… thank you," he whispered and turned around the corner in the direction of the closest pharmacy and squeezed Jimin's hand. His little brother pouted and pulled at his fingers with all the strength he could muster.

"I don't understand," Jimin complained and glanced up at him with his big round eyes. "You don't even speak German." His pronunciation was funny and Hyungwon hoped his knowledge would be enough to teach him proper Alian before German took over.

"We are talking about adult things," he answered and looked towards Hoseok. His brother didn't have a lot of inhibition as he pulled at Hoseok's arm next.

"He is pretty like a girl."

Hyungwon immediately blushed a little, hoping that Hoseok didn't understand that. He could already hear the older man's voice telling him that there was no rule deciding that only women could be pretty.

"Boys can be pretty too," he whispered and couldn't help the color on his face. He wasn't used to having other people around when he was with Jimin. Somehow Hyungwon preferred to be on his own with the little boy.

Because people don't like hearing other languages around them.

"Like you!" Jimin exclaimed and giggled happily, before pulling at Hoseok's arm and saying the same word in German. "Pretty."

“Mhm, your brother is pretty. It’s so cool that you can speak a language I can’t. Will you teach me?” The older man smiled, before running out to the pharmacy and coming back after a few minutes with a giant bag. “I bought a few things I thought you might need, so that you have it,” he said and turned on the engine. “I’ll drive you home.”

"You… wanted to talk to me, didn't you?" he asked, suddenly remembering that the older man had purposefully come to his university to see him. Hyungwon had felt at ease about Hoseok still living in his apartment because Hannah ensured that she would tell him as soon as something was off, but he hadn't expected the blonde man to come all the way to his university, only to talk to him.

Did something happen?

Jimin didn't care about his antics and immediately began enumerating random Alian words that he also knew the German counterpart to, starting with 'cucumber' and finishing up with 'Lego brick'.

“Never mind, we can talk another time,” Hoseok murmured, before repeating every word his brother had taught him with a proud grin directed at Jimin in the back. “See, I am a fast learner.” Hyungwon struggled to believe that Hoseok's memory was really that good, but the way the words left his lips without an ounce of hesitation should have been proof enough.

The older man didn’t hurry this time and rode calmly through Frankfurt’s streets until they arrived at the refugee home. “There’s a celebration on Friday, Hannah said.”

"Yeah," Hyungwon agreed and loosened his belt buckle, still hesitating to leave Hoseok's car. It felt like he should have done something as a finish, give the older man a hug or a brief touch of lips like the last time they met, but Hyungwon didn't know if it was right. In addition, it was particularly intimate and he didn't want his little brother to see. "Will you come?"

“Don’t know, the boa doesn’t like being around people too much,” Hoseok murmured with a soft smile. “Take care.”

Hyungwon couldn’t extend his welcome any longer than that and nodded slowly, climbing out of the car and walking around it to cradle Jimin in his arms. The laceration on his brother’s forehead was covered, but Hyungwon barely contained his shudder at the knowledge what a close call this was. With all the medication Hoseok had bought at the pharmacy, he could make sure that the wound didn’t get infected. Only removing the sutures would be a problem in the end.

Closing the car door, he dared one last glance at Hoseok. The temptation to whisper ‘thank you’ was right there on the tip of his tongue, but he resisted. It would have been meaningless anyway. Putting Jimin down, he grabbed his tiny hand and made his way towards the refugee home, not daring to look back again.

Will father even realize that Jimin is hurt?

Hyungwon decided not to dwell on that for too long.

_

 

“Are you fucking crazy, Shepherd?”

Sasha’s voice cut like a razor blade as she sat on the spacious sofa in her parents’ living room and clicked through Hyungwon’s emails. The ginger-haired girl had been furious over the last few days, courtesy of not being able to reach Hyungwon because of his broken phone. He had no money to replace it, so he tried to live without for now. It was difficult because his access to a computer was limited by time. That was the exact reason for his best friend’s current fury. She couldn’t believe that he hadn’t checked his mail the past few days and had missed at least six interview opportunities.

“I’m not, I’m merely busy. I can’t skip university for an interview, Sasha. I also have working hours and a brother to take care of. Until now all of this was perfectly planned into the spaces between my courses and work. It’ll be easier once the semester is over, it’s not long now.” His words sounded reassuring, but the knowledge that he had exams soon was not. Hyungwon already felt overwhelmed by the mass of material he had to look at while still fulfilling all of his other responsibilities.

“Can’t you just work less? I don’t get it. It’s just a cafe job, tell Sarah that you’ll be busy for a few days.” Sasha shrugged and scrolled through the messages directed to their mini organization. A lot of it was support and Hyungwon loved the way she smiled at all the positivity. Unfortunately his friend had no idea about his monetary needs.

“I can’t work less, it means less money and I can’t afford not working, not even for a few days. I did it once for the talk, but I cannot keep doing it.” Sighing, he ruffled up his curly hair and sat down next to his best friend, glancing over his shoulder. Her lack of reply indicated that she hadn’t been listening and Hyungwon understood the reason for that as soon as his eyes fell on the donation page she was looking at. Holy shit.

“What the fuck?” he choked out and leaned closer to the screen, blinking furiously to make sure he wasn’t imagining the ridiculous sum of money that had been transferred to them. All of it was from different donors that agreed with their ideals and asked them to continue being active. It was the best thing that could have happened to them.

It's change, exactly the way you wanted.

“Oh my god,” he murmured again and pulled at his cheeks to make sure he woke up now in case it was a dream and not later when he was already too happy to bear the sad news.

“That’s an understatement. How the hell is this even possible? You just gave a talk, the way you always do only that this time more people listened. A lot more people.” Sasha shook her head in disbelief and reached for her cucumber water to take a sip. The smile on her lips told Hyungwon she already had a few ideas. A dull feeling in his chest told him that the boa must have promoted him much further than the talk could reach, but Hyungwon didn’t understand why yet, so he attempted not to dwell on it too much.

You can do so many things now. You could promote information that nobody wants to share by putting it on billboards.

Hyungwon smiled widely and remembered that Hoseok mentioned his willingness to coach him again, right after his phone broke. It was some of the best news he had received that week, along with Jimin making improvements in kindergarten to talk to other children.

He could help you to do this right.

Hoseok could help him make a change, exactly the way Hyungwon had been so convinced that he could.

“I’d vote for you for chancellor if they allowed refugees,” Sasha commented with a grin and Hyungwon couldn’t help the feeling that somehow, with the right contacts, Hoseok could probably make even that possible. It seemed like there was nothing that the older man couldn’t do and it returned the familiar excitement for change to his chest and fingertips, throbbing in expectation.

Hoseok was going to help him make a change and maybe, just maybe he would be able to give the blonde man something in return, a hint of that attachment and care that Hyungwon had discovered on the pretty face at the hospital.

It had only been a brief moment, but it had definitely been there.

 

***

Loud voices and music managed to seep through the closed car windows while Hoseok stared at the small box on his lap.

It’s too much, isn’t it?

The new phone stared back at him in silent judgement, as a subtle hint, hidden evidence for a thought that wasn’t motivated by his goals, but by something different.

You were sorry.

He was still sorry for freaking out the younger man after his lecture and making him drop his phone, breaking it as a result. Still, it felt unusual to spend so much money and thought on the black-haired boy, without any relation to his previously set goal of making him stop his protests. His goal still included preventing Hyungwon's activism and making him unable to continue until the company released the electric cars, making it seem voluntary and increasing sales.

You don’t give a shit about sales.

That was true, but Hoseok had a goal and goals needed to be reached. There was no use in overthinking the goal at this point, he simply needed to make it work to be able to make a clean cut and move on somewhere far away.

Finish this and go back to Tibet. Or maybe Bali this time? Somewhere he can't find you.

Sighing, he left the car, carrying the new phone in his right hand and a Lego car toy in his left. The music and voices got louder the closer he moved towards the big building, but one voice was especially conspicuous.

“Hoseok,” his sister screamed as if he was the most important guest and ran towards him, grabbing him by the hand and kissing his cheek briefly. He could bet that he received a red lipstick stain along with it, but didn’t comment on it.

You missed her.

“I thought I could drop by briefly,” he murmured and let his gaze travel over the packed benches and the insane amounts of food, the few kids who played together with some of the toys his sister had bought and the teenagers, some of them smoking others drinking some kind of pink drink out of paper cups.

“Are you looking for Hyungwon? He’s here,” Hannah exclaimed excitedly and pulled him towards the far right side of the tables, where he immediately recognized the boy’s black curls. “Look who’s here,” she added, after making sure that Hyungwon gave her his attention.

Puppy’s eyes widened briefly before a gorgeous smile occupied all the space on his face, lifting up his cheeks and making his brother’s chubby face look slim in comparison. Hyungwon had obviously not expected him to come.

He looks gorgeous.

“You came,” the young man muttered quietly, but the smile stayed. Hyungwon was dressed in an attractive outfit that Hoseok had bought for him, tight black jeans and a dark red button down. He must have considered the festival an important occasion.

“You look good,” he murmured, before catching himself and focusing his attention on the little boy. “Look, I got you a present. It’s a car,” he said in Alia’s native language, trying his best to remove his accent.

You tried your best to learn in those thirty minutes.

Jimin smiled cheerfully and wiggled his arms before accepting the present and waving it around Hyungwon’s face while talking quickly. It sounded a little funny compared to Hyungwon’s careful pronunciation and Hoseok didn’t need to be fluent to tell.

“Thank you for the present,” Hyungwon answered for his little brother before whispering something in the tiny curled ear. It reminded Hoseok a lot of puppy’s cinnamon roll ear. The little child nodded briefly and stretched out his tongue like he was thinking very hard, before thanking him in Alian.

“I also got a toy for your brother because I broke his,” he said in English this time and put the box with the phone on Hyungwon’s lap.

“Look at him trying to act unbothered,” Hannah’s voice mocked him from behind and he rolled his eyes in response. Turning around, he narrowed his gaze, trying to prevent his sister from sharing more irrelevant information that could be used against him later.

“I really broke his phone, okay?”

“Ah, I see, did you also destroy his clothes? How did you do that?” Of course he forgot that his sister was mad at him for not picking up the phone for two days, but he was busy trying to gain evidence of puppy spending the donations he sent him. He wanted to groan at the obvious innuendo, but refrained, practicing calmness instead.

“Is your brother nice to you?” he asked Jimin with the amazing vocabulary he had gained from his thirty minute research on the Alian language. The little boy nodded furiously and answered something, but Hoseok stopped understanding him after ‘yes’. The break in communication didn’t seem to disturb Hyungwon’s brother though as he took the car he received and made loud engine noises.

Hyungwon was too busy blushing to comment on that, glancing away as if he had seen somebody important in the crowd as he pursed his lips and played with the packed phone in his hands. “Thank you,” puppy whispered eventually and turned back towards him, eyes big. “I know I keep saying it, but there is nothing else I could possibly say. There is no way for me to return all those things you keep doing for me and my family. Jimin is doing a lot better and it’s all thanks to you.”

Hoseok felt his eyes widen, accompanied by the strange feeling of discomfort that he tried to suppress as well as he could, but that kept returning to him as soon as the black-haired boy was affectionate towards him. Leaning in, he stopped right next to Hyungwon’s ear and hissed his next words. “Okay, listen puppy, all I did up until now was the bare minimum and you make me feel completely lost if you thank me. I told you we are not compatible and I will definitely end up swallowing you like a hungry boa, so please don’t thank me, okay?”

Hyungwon froze in response to his words, eyes widening as he looked up to meet his gaze. A look of confusion and shock remained for a few seconds until it switched to determination.

“I told you before that I am not afraid of being swallowed,” the black-haired boy whispered and tightened his grip on the packaged phone. “The question is, what are you so afraid of?”

Suddenly a painful sensation pulled him out of the carefully prepared thought as his sister punched his back right where it hurt the most.

"Are you scaring people with your snake references again? I told you to be nice to him" Another pinch resulted in him hissing loudly and catching his sister’s hand. "You shouldn't be too scared of him. Sure, he's a little special and can be rather mean, but I can remember him as a kid and I think it's still somewhere under all those muscles."

Amazing.

"Ah, you were at the ministry yesterday, right? So what did they say about the health insurance?"

Remember to not meet them both at the same time. Ever.

"Just shut up," he hissed and pulled at Hannah's sleeve. "I don't like my sister," he said to Jimin while rolling his eyes.

The small boy was obviously surprised that Hoseok decided to talk to him and answered in Alian, but this time it was easy to understand. “She’s nice. Like mom,” Jimin murmured and smiled before returning all of his rather limited attention to his toy.

Hyungwon jerked at the words, air visibly remaining in his lungs for much longer than he planned as he glanced at his little brother and finally at Hoseok and Hannah.

“Hoseok is nice to me, don’t worry, Hannah,” puppy pointed out, but he looked rather distant with his eyes not focusing on either of them properly. “After all he helped Jimin. I cannot be thankful enough for that, even if he doesn’t want me to talk about it.”

As if realizing what this was about, Hannah took the little boy and ran with him to the newly set up sandpit, leaving them alone at the end of the table. It felt quiet even though the noises of cheering adults and children continued around them.

"I'm sorry," he murmured and sat down next to Hyungwon without being aware of what he was even sorry for.

“What for?” the boy asked quickly and pulled the package in front of him closer to his chest. “For being nice to me?”

"Don't know. Probably for getting involved," he murmured, pouring some wine into a paper cup. "I can't get my thoughts in order, I want to soak in the rain, but it isn't raining."

“I go to the little chunk of forest around here when I want to think. They haven’t managed to destroy it yet,” Hyungwon muttered and gestured towards a path that led away from the refugee home. “Come with me.”

Standing up, the black-haired boy wrapped his arm around the phone Hoseok had gifted him and curled his long fingers around his wrist, pulling him up from the bench. The speed with which Hyungwon crossed the courtyard and the parking area that didn’t actually belong to the refugee home, suggested that he wanted to escape, be further away from all that. It wasn’t long until they stepped onto a gravel road and were surrounded by tall conifer trees.

“Getting involved is the one thing you shouldn’t apologize for,” Hyungwon commented quietly as soon as the sounds of the festival seemed far away.

"I apologize for the things that I think I shouldn't be doing. Involvement is one of them." Hoseok glanced around, before looking up. The refugee home was located on the outskirts of Frankfurt and one could even see a few stars.

“Then why did you? Why did you come to me, Hoseok?” Hyungwon turned towards him and stepped closer, using his height for the first time to make sure that he could look him in the eyes. The boy placed his gift on top of a tree stump, not breaking their eye contact for even a second.

Will he do what you want if you tell him? As if.

"Because you're in the way," he replied, staring right into the big brown eyes. They widened a little, obviously not expecting such a genuine response. After all, Hoseok hadn’t bothered to tell Hyungwon why he planned on devouring him all this time.

“Why? You plan on taking over the world?” the black-haired boy remarked and chuckled, long fingers brushing through his curly hair in a nervous gesture. “Why would somebody like me be in your way?”

"You're not in my way in particular, but you're preventing me from working towards some goals that I have to reach. Stop your activism and we can part ways and not see each other again, just like it should be." Hoseok reached for the boy's chin, holding it with his thumb and index finger while he leaned closer. "The boa might be nice for once if you're a good boy and do what it wants."

“The boa has been nice to me more than once,” Hyungwon whispered back and remained standing in front of him, brown eyes focused on him and perfectly visible despite the darkness. “I could never stop demonstrating and you know it. You’ve seen so much of me during these past few weeks, I’m sure you understand by now. If I give up on changing something, then I am giving up on myself and countless others that could be in my situation. I wouldn’t dare stop, not after everything I have achieved so far. Why would you help me if you want me to stop?”

"God, why are you so foolish, Hyungwon? I know that you can't stop, that's why you're slowly moving towards the boa while it's slowly moving towards you and I know perfectly well how this will end. That's why I'm saying, don't be thankful and attached, just take what you can and keep it in mind for later when I'm gone." Hoseok let go of the boy's chin and poked his round nose with his index finger instead.

It didn’t even take a second for Hyungwon to reach out and grab his shirt, holding on tightly and thereby reducing the distance between their faces. The tall boy looked shocked.

“Gone?” he muttered and glanced from one eye to the other, searching for something that he didn’t seem to find. “What the hell do you mean by gone? I thought you planned on biting me, there was not a single word about leaving, not the way you say it now. This isn’t about staying away anymore, is it?”

Why is he so shocked?

"Well, staying away is the easiest when one is far away, isn't it? Don't worry, it won't concern you, I promise that you won't hear anything from me once this is over." Hoseok nodded cheerfully and curled his fingers around Hyungwon's wrist, ready to press down to release his shirt from the boy's grip.

“You’re such a fucking idiot,” Hyungwon hissed and attempted to punch his chest with his right hand, curled into a tight fist. “What makes you think that I would be worried about hearing from you? It’s the fucking opposite and you know it. I told you that I don’t want you to leave, that I was fucking terrified when I thought you moved somewhere I couldn’t find you. What the hell is wrong with you if you even consider that I would enjoy your absence?!”

It's because you don't care whether he will.

Hoseok sighed and pressed down to loosen the boy's grip. "You'll be hurt, so it's nicer to not see the reason for your misery, you know? But I meant that you shouldn't worry because there's nothing you can do about it. My advice is, don't be thankful, don't even think about liking me, just take what I'm giving you, especially when it comes to advice, because it's universal and can be used in any kind of situation. I'll treat myself and go somewhere far away without phones and networks and shed my skin to return new and without any attachment."

Hyungwon stared at him, lips parted and bottom lip trembling slightly, but the big brown eyes looked dry and betrayed, even though Hoseok had merely told him the truth.

You hate that he feels betrayed. It makes you feel as if you betrayed him, even though you warned him. You warned him so many times.

“Sometimes I’m not sure who you are lying to more, me or yourself,” the black-haired boy whispered and let go of his collar. But Hyungwon didn’t step away, instead he reached out and wrapped his arms around his neck, tight enough to press their chests together. Hot exhales brushed over his lips as the boy met his gaze and inhaled sharply. “You want me to greedily take what you are offering and let you disappear into the night right after. Maybe you are able to do that, Hoseok, but I am not. Instead of avoiding the reason for my misery, I keep following it, observing it on TV and attempting to fight it. What makes you think that it will be any different with you?”

"The fact that the boa will slip right between your fingers while you try to hold on, only able to keep its shed skin. There's no use. But I told you, I will show you a lot of things in the next few days, if you want to. It's okay if you don't, whatever makes you sleep at night, puppy," he whispered because they were so close. His heart beat in a weird rhythm, but it was probably due to the lack of prediction he had about the young man.

“It’s fine, show me,” Hyungwon murmured right against his lips and held on, long fingers slowly sinking into the long, blond strands at the back of his head. “Let the boa wrap around my neck. At least I will have the illusion that it’s close enough then.”

Tugging at the strands between his fingers, Hyungwon tilted his head to the side and covered his lips with his own plump ones, eyes fluttering shut and embrace only tightening, as if the boy worried that he was going to run away. It felt so hot suddenly, as if the younger man was able to warm him from the inside. Hoseok wasn't sure about Hyungwon's motives, why he suddenly kissed him so desperately, but it felt too good to stop.

"It is close, but it'll disappear again," he whispered between kisses, wrapping one arm around Hyungwon's middle and letting his other hand sink into the black curls. Hoseok kissed back, greedily sucking on the boy’s thick lips and licking into his mouth to taste him. "Ah, I think I really need to shed my skin to forget the way you taste."

You do.

“I think you should shed the pretense instead,” Hyungwon whispered before licking into his mouth and whimpering softly into the kiss. The sound was beautiful, vibrating and accompanying the continuous tugs on his hair and the light scratches against his clothed shoulders. The forest was perfectly silent apart from their gasps that echoed along the treetops.

"There's no pretense, puppy, don't kid yourself," he hissed, licking over the boy's delicious neck before sinking his teeth into it while keeping his calm to not hurt Hyungwon unnecessarily.

You'll hurt him enough.

"I don't know if it's pretense, but I know there is something." Hyungwon shifted in his embrace and moved towards the sensation of Hoseok's teeth against his neck. The boy moaned softly as soon as Hoseok bit down and tugged on his hair with more force.

"Yeah? What do you think it is?" Hoseok hissed at the tugs and curled both arms around Hyungwon's lean thighs, easily lifting the boy in the air while continuing to ravish his neck. "You think the boa is pretty, but it'll wrap around you until you collapse. Don't try to get close. It's not a warning, it's common sense. Even kids know stuff like that."

"If I had followed common sense back then I would be dead," Hyungwon hissed right back and moaned again, succumbing to the grip Hoseok had on him. The boy was beautiful and each sound that left the plump lips and was potentiated by the silence around them drove him mad. Long fingers kept pulling him closer, inviting him to sink his teeth into the soft, golden skin, scratch along the pulsating jugular vein. "I'm not afraid of danger, Hoseok."

"But you fucking should be, puppy," he breathed into the curled ear and accepted the invitation, biting into Hyungwon's neck and soothing the red mark with tender licks of his tongue.

The boy pulled at his hair with force and moaned again, this time much louder as he fruitlessly attempted to keep quiet. The lean thighs were trembling in his grip and Hoseok could feel puppy's erection pressing against his lower body through the fabric of their clothes.

Hoseok's body was burning too, begging him to touch the pretty boy in his arms, to hear the attractive moans and see the pink blush travel from his cheeks to his flat chest. "What am I supposed to do if you moan so prettily, huh? I told you to find a cute girl and play with someone in your league."

"I don't want a cute girl," Hyungwon gasped and threw his head back for a few moments to have enough distance to establish eye contact. His pupils were blown and the blood made his puffy cheeks glow, just like the almost blood-red, swollen lips. The boy struggled to act, too affected by what Hoseok was doing to him and used his hands to rip the first button of Hoseok's silk shirt, uncovering his collarbones. "I want the boa."

He wants you?

"You have so much to learn, most important of all, to only want things you can handle. Don't act as if you can handle a fucking boa," he hissed before catching the boy's thick lips with his teeth and pulling lightly. He loved the texture and the taste, just like the arousing sounds puppy made, giving him the whole package of things he found attractive.

Hyungwon's left hand began to travel all over his shoulders and partially uncovered chest, slipping under the fabric and rubbing his long thumb over Hoseok's right nipple, sending sparks of arousal through his body.

"Goals should be big," the boy whispered and wrapped his long legs tightly around his hips, pulling their bodies flush again. Hyungwon's right hand was still busy with his hair, tugging at it to improve the angle for the kisses he blessed him with, vigorously licking into his mouth. As soon as their lips separated again, he felt a tongue licking over his neck and playing with the skin while the boy's thumb drew circles over his nipple.

You like this too much.

"Okay, puppy, what do you want?" he hissed after letting out a low moan. Glancing at the green clearing, he turned and knelt down, letting Hyungwon's back touch the fresh grass. Hovering over puppy's attractive face, Hoseok observed the pink blush and how quick the breaths that left the thick lips had become. "Do you want me to touch you?" he asked and drew a boa with his index finger over the boy's clothed, flat chest.

Hyungwon's eyes widened a little and what remained of the pretty brown color mixed with the vibrant green of the grass that framed the boy's face. It was dark, but the moon had perfect access to the clearing they had stopped at, covering it in a soft silver color.

"I want the boa," the low voice repeated and Hyungwon reached out to loosen the buttons on his shirt, immediately rolling his nipples between thumb and index finger as soon as they were visible. The gorgeous boy didn't bother sitting up and remained lying on the grass, beautiful and right under him, as if he only waited for Hoseok to ravish him. "But what does the boa want?"

To sink its teeth into the delicate neck.

His fingers moved all on their own, quickly unbuttoning the white shirt only for his lips to attach to the tiny dark nipples, sucking on them and drawing circles with his tongue. "It's a secret," he whispered with a grin, before rolling the tiny bud between his teeth. "But right now, it wants to enjoy your eager moans for its personal pleasure."

The handsome boy did exactly what Hoseok wanted him to and moaned out loud, gorgeous tremors and flexes returning to the lean thighs and showing how much Hyungwon liked what he was doing to him. The tall boy kept rubbing his black hair over the grass and managed to cover his mouth with his palms, eyes barely remaining opened. Hyungwon's abdomen flexed each time he licked over a hardened bud or sucked intently.

"Would you mind if the boa got a taste of you again?" he asked after circling his tongue around the dark nipple, enjoying how pink it looked next to the boy's gorgeous darker skin tone. Meanwhile his right hand arrived at Hyungwon's groin, rubbing over the length of his erection teasingly. "I meant taking you into my mouth, not the other, more intimate kind of tasting, so don't panic."

The black-haired boy whimpered at the brief stimulation even though it wasn't much and Hoseok could feel his legs jerk briefly. Sucking his plump bottom lip into his mouth, Hyungwon glanced to the side, face red and a few grass stalks tickling his cheek.

"Here?" puppy whispered quietly, worry painting his features until another small motion of Hoseok's hand resulted in a loud moan. The boy was impossibly sensitive, melting under his fingertips in a matter of seconds.

"You don't have to, if you feel uncomfortable, puppy," Hoseok whispered in reply and removed his hand, placing a few kisses on top of Hyungwon's lean stomach instead. "Should we go back?"

It was a mean question considering the raw arousal on the boy's face and the vibrant blush that showed how much he obviously wanted to be touched. Hoseok could observe the inner struggle, the way Hyungwon glanced around as if checking whether they were safe and on their own. The slim thighs were shaking under him from desire.

"No," the low voice whispered eventually and Hyungwon's hands freed his lips, reaching for him instead and pulling him close. "Please."

Aren't you liking this too much?

He did, fuck, he liked it way too much, but puppy begged to be touched and Hoseok caught himself looking forward to having a taste of the boy under him once again. His hands made quick work with the tight jeans, freeing the long erection and blowing air against the tip while he teased Hyungwon with careful licks right at the transition. It must be driving puppy insane with how sensitive he was.

A low scream sounded through the clearing and the boy immediately plastered his hands over his lips again, whimpering loudly at every single motion of Hoseok's mouth and tongue. Desperation slowly transcended into movements, beginning with his indecisiveness between wanting to spread his legs wider and pulling them shut and continuing with his inability to keep his head still, rubbing the black curls over grass. Hoseok loved how unrestrained the younger man looked and how eager he was to be touched.

"You are making it hard for me, puppy," he whispered, sliding his fingers over the boy's length and circling his tip right after. His left hand sunk deeper into the black underwear and massaged Hyungwon's balls while he let the boy's dick hit the back of his throat, tightening his lips and humming around it.

"Please," Hyungwon moaned between his lips and finally decided for spreading his legs, appearing delirious as he gave up on controlling his gasps and low screams and reached for Hoseok's hair instead, pulling at it whenever he felt particularly good, shaking with pleasure.

Trying to combine several sensations at once, Hoseok rubbed over Hyungwon's nipples, pressed the spot under his balls and slid down his pulsating length, feeling it twitch repeatedly against his throat, accompanying the boy's release. He swallowed a few times before sucking a greedy gulp of air into his lungs that he definitely needed.

Now he should be sated, right?

Hyungwon was breathing roughly, shaking from the aftereffects of his orgasm and keeping his lips parted to suck in more air. The boy's exhales sounded rough from screaming so much in pleasure, hands loosely resting above his head and curls a beautiful mess. He looked gorgeous when he finally opened his eyes, half lidded and focusing on him between his legs.

"I like your face when you come," Hoseok commented and licked over his lips before closing the button of the black jeans and sitting down next to the breathless puppy. His knees hurt from kneeling on the ground like an idiot. He wondered whether he would continuously have to blow puppy to remove the foolish wish to have the boa from the boy's mind.

Instead of giving him an answer to that question, Hyungwon inhaled roughly and climbed on top of him, kissing him vigorously and unbuttoning the rest of his shirt at the same time. The enthusiasm with which the black-haired boy devoured him didn't allow him to react immediately as lips continued from his mouth to his neck, nibbling on it until he felt Hyungwon suck on his collarbone.

"I want to see yours," the low voice murmured against his skin until he felt long fingers stroke over his groin, carefully following the outline of his erection through his pants

"Wait, wait, wait, puppy, we didn't agree on that. Our conversation was about me wanting to hear your pretty moans," he murmured, followed by a low moan, because shit, Hyungwon's lips felt too damn good on his skin.

The younger man only hummed and continued, nibbling along his collarbone until he pushed him back and closed his lips around his nipple, sucking intently and stroking along his clothed dick at the same time. Hyungwon learned quickly, fingers efficient and feeling good despite the clothes that kept Hoseok from getting a proper taste. Drawing his teeth along his nipple carefully, puppy unbuttoned his pants and lowered the zipper, brushing his fingers over his dick with only his underwear in the way.

"Listen, I'm not called boa for nothing, how sad would it be if you choked on me and I wouldn't get to bite you properly?" Hoseok grinned while suppressing another moan and curled his fingers into the black curls, pulling at them. "I'd still sign the petition for you to find a cute girl to experiment with and then fall in love and forget about this."

"God, I don't want a cute girl," puppy hissed and Hoseok could feel teeth slide over his nipple again, followed by fingers that simply slipped into his trunks and played with his tip, similarly to the way he had toyed with Hyungwon. It was obvious that the younger man didn't miss Hoseok's comment about the boa but decided to ignore it, cheeks still pink but lips working hard to caress every spot of his skin. "I didn't want a girl before meeting you and I don't want a girl now."

A boy then?

"Then a boy, I don't care. There are enough cute boys out there who would love to have your pretty long fingers curled around their dick. I'm really not the best choice to experiment with, okay? I wasn’t joking about being a lot to take, puppy. It was meant in every sense of the word." His monologue was interrupted by his own low moan. "In addition, imagine that I am the one who ruins your life and the one who you had your first experiences with, how fucked up is that? Come on."

He feels so fucking good. Imagine how his gorgeous lips would feel around you, fuck.

"Then maybe you should have thought about that before making me want this," Hyungwon replied with a gasp and tugged his underwear low enough to be able to wrap his long fingers around his erection. The boy didn't struggle to fit him in his hand at all, easily sliding the foreskin over the tip and back as he tightened his grip and chewed on his gorgeous lips. There was hesitation but Hyungwon tried to mask it with fake bravado and more tongue against his nipples. "I didn't think about boys either, Hoseok. I didn't think about anybody until you came around and decided to drive me fucking mad, shit."

"That means that I'm an exception, exceptions are bad, puppy, they undermine your values," he hissed, but felt how his words were only a fake mask on top of his imminent arousal and the wish to have the pretty boy sit on his lap and touch him some more. "Come here," he heard himself say and curled an arm around Hyungwon's slim waist and pulled the younger man partially on top of himself, letting his pretty little butt settle on his thighs.

"Exceptions are special," Hyungwon whispered and leaned in to kiss his lips, following the curved outline with his tongue. "And I've never met a boa before."

He shouldn't have met one in the first place.

Sitting half naked on grass covered soil in a forest wasn't a good moment for regret, Hoseok knew, but still something deep inside him suddenly suggested that it would've been better if they wouldn't have met. Not like that.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Their breaths sounded impossibly loud in the clearing, surrounded by trees and darkness. The light breeze against the shell of his ear and the sharp exhales that left Hoseok’s lips and tickled his neck were difficult to differentiate.

Hyungwon greedily sucked the fresh air into his lungs, hoping that it would calm his racing heartbeat and the excitement that remained in his chest despite his recent orgasm. He still couldn’t believe that they were doing this. That he was doing this.

You must have lost your mind.

The thought wasn’t new, Hyungwon had felt this way before. Back when he lay naked on the older man’s bed and let himself be touched, feeling the soft lips around him and enveloping him in heat. Again Hyungwon felt the mind-blowing pleasure, so intense that he barely kept himself in place, missing out on what his hands were grasping or how much noise he was making. The remaining arousal still coursed through him when he decided to return the favor.

 The boa needs to allow you close enough for that.

Hyungwon knew that it was a challenge, that the blonde man wouldn’t let him have control that easily. Hoseok kept up pretenses and distance like it was his second nature, teasing him about his inexperience and with innuendos that he didn’t grasp immediately. Once he did, Hyungwon made sure to remain calm and not reveal his insecurities or hesitation. He couldn’t afford hesitation. Not with the boa.

It was easier when the blonde man angered him in the same way he had before, telling him to find somebody in his ‘league’, a cute girl or boy. Hyungwon couldn’t care less. He didn’t want an abstract person that was defined by their sex or an attribute such as ‘cute’, he didn’t care about that. He hadn’t needed anybody apart from himself to deal with his tension until now and he had been sure that it would stay that way until Hoseok came along and set his whole body on fire by pushing him against a wall, but not taking whatever it was that he wanted forcefully.

Is that where the attachment and the attraction comes from? Because he didn’t act the way you know it?

Hyungwon doubted that it was that simple, for that his emotions were too much of a mess whenever the older man was involved. He didn’t have the time to sort them out and reflect on them. The longer he needed to make a decision, the more likely it was that the boa would be long gone.

Hoseok was sitting on the grass below him, warm hands stroking over his lower back and partially his behind while Hyungwon settled on top of the older man's muscular thighs. Had somebody asked him how they ended up in this situation, Hyungwon wouldn’t have known what to reply.

You kissed him, it was you.

Hoseok gave him the same warning he always did, disclaimers that boas only knew how to hurt, that being an exception was dangerous, a mistake that Hyungwon shouldn’t want to make. It didn’t matter.

Because it’s too late anyway.

He wrapped his arms around the broad neck and shifted on top of the older man, sneakers digging deeper into the soft grass. Exceptions weren’t something bad, they were special, something that needed to be treasured.

Wetting his mouth the way he had seen Hoseok do it before, he leaned it and clashed their lips together, tilting the blonde man’s head back to deepen the kiss and slipping a free hand between their bodies. It felt alright and his mind remained calm apart from the excitement of the moment. There was no fear to numb him and distract him from the way a hiss left Hoseok’s curved lips and his abdominal muscles tensed. Hyungwon loved the way he could observe it, see what effect it had and that what he did was something good, pleasurable even.

"You're a little bit beautiful, puppy," Hoseok whispered and it would've almost slipped past his awareness, but the older man said it right between two desperate kisses. The muscular arms enveloped him, one resting around his waist while the other stroked over his neck and raked through his hair. Hyungwon almost stopped as soon as he registered the words, but didn’t allow himself to.

“You’re beautiful too,” he murmured and thought back to the way he had let his fingers travel over Hoseok’s back and the black lines that covered his pale skin. The tattoo wasn’t the reason he considered the older man beautiful, there was much more than that, his face, his expressions, the intense gaze he was capable of, the way he explained strategy perfectly earnest and with a gorgeous curve to his lips.

You have to focus, he’ll dismiss you otherwise.

He enjoyed the physical signs of affection, the only ones that Hoseok admitted to. The older man had also shown affection by giving him clothes and helping him, but seeing how Hoseok responded with anger after Hannah pointed it out, Hyungwon realized that it wasn’t something the blonde man wanted to admit to. It was easier when it was his body talking, Hyungwon’s fingers repeated what he had seen Hoseok do to him and pulled low gasps from the older man’s lips.

The sounds told him that Hoseok enjoyed it, but it had been the same the last time until he was pulled off the muscular body and sent away to brush his teeth. Hyungwon didn’t want the older man to reject him because of distance again, there was no point to it with everything that has already happened.

“Will the boa let me come closer?” he exhaled against the skin of Hoseok’s neck while his fingers kept stroking along the firm length. It felt hot in his palm, different from his own and he fought the embarrassment and insecurities that threatened to come to the surface. There was no room for them. The older man’s gasps would have to be feedback enough.

"Do you want to touch me that badly?" the low voice asked in return right next to his ear, as he felt the older man's delicate hands wrap around his own, guiding. Hoseok moaned softly at the way it felt, but a feeling of shame intensified as he must have either been too hesitant or Hoseok had easily seen through his concerns, acting to calm him down. Sucking his lips into his mouth, he nodded and followed the motions, noticing the way curved lips parted to release arousing sounds. Observing the older man got to him more than he expected, causing heat to drip into his stomach with each additional stroke over Hoseok’s erection.

“I want to make you feel that way too,” he whispered and leaned in to connect their lips, relaxing into the kiss as he continued the motions Hoseok had shown him, more pressure around the tip the way he liked it for himself in addition to letting his thumb draw circles over the slit. He wasn’t sure if it could be enough for somebody like Hoseok who was used to so much more, but he paid attention to the frequency of the older man’s breaths and whether his eyes fluttered shut the way they had when he played with his nipples.

"You have to look at it as if it's a dance. We dance together, you and me, but it won't work if you think about the next step all the time. Do you enjoy touching me like this? Do you like it? Do you like how big I feel in your hand and how I twitch if you lick into my mouth needily?" Hoseok whispered in his ear before pulling him closer by the grip on his waist. Hyungwon moaned, not meaning to and couldn’t help the heat that developed in his cheeks at the questions and the fact that he knew his answer to all of them.

“But it won’t feel good for you only because I like it,” he murmured and tried to get a better feeling for the way Hoseok’s length felt in his hand. It seemed hot, heavy and rather thick in his palm, so he used his index and middle finger to follow a few prominent veins along the side, all the way to the base until he moved back up and applied a little pressure next to the slit, curious how different the skin would feel. “I like it a lot,” he admitted and struggled to fight the arousal that spread in his abdomen again.

"I see that you like it, and it makes me like it a lot more. That's the thing, because it's a pair dance and it's no fun if only one is dancing." Hoseok moved his hips and moaned, eyes fluttering shut for a few seconds before the dark gaze settled on his face, observing him intently. The other man's pale cheeks were painted with a light color and his curved lips were parted and looked a little swollen from taking him a moment ago. Hoseok was so much more than gorgeous and his breaths turned ragged from the sight alone, body attempting to slip closer to feel the exhales against his lips, capture them in a kiss if he could. He removed his right hand from the older man’s erection quickly to lick over his fingers the way he did for himself when he was in a hurry and wrapped them around the hot erection again, using the wetness to improve the slide. It felt so good to finally touch the older man that he felt embarrassed about his own responses, yearning to be close and have Hoseok moan into his kisses.

"It feels so good when you touch me," the attractive low voice breathed into his ear as he felt Hoseok's hot lips against his neck, sucking on the tender skin while he could hear how rapidly the older man breathed. Hyungwon enjoyed it so much that it was almost scary, the knowledge that he was the source of those sounds, that his fingers evoked them and made the other man feel that good.

"Your voice arouses me," Hyungwon admitted again and closed his eyes, hand stroking over the older man's length with more ease now, similar to the way Hoseok had shown him and the way he enjoyed it himself. A moan passed his lips at sucks on his neck and he felt the sudden need to be as close as possible, to know that Hoseok could still feel him when he closed his eyes. "Your everything drives me absolutely mad. I want you to experience at least a hint of that pleasure."

When did you start wanting this so much, Hyungwon?

"I'm close," Hoseok hissed, leaning back a little and staring at him from under his bangs. The moans continued to spill from the curved lips, but it had so much more intensity because the boa was staring at him while showing every sign of pleasure on his face, abdomen and thighs flexing under him.

Hyungwon didn't dare look away, observing every single twitch, every gaze and listened to every single sound that left Hoseok's gorgeous mouth. He couldn't breathe because the way the blonde man looked when he orgasmed stole his breath away. It was a brief moment of raw facial expressions, no hesitation, no concealing and no lies, only genuine pleasure on Hoseok's beautiful face.

If only you could see it all the time.

Still gasping because of how much the sight affected him, Hyungwon realized he hadn't thought ahead when he touched Hoseok's groin and decided to return the favor. Sticky white liquid covered his fingers and partially the older man's trunks and it felt mildly alarming that it wasn't his own. Hyungwon tried not to hyperventilate and think about associations he didn't want to think about, so he opened his eyes wide and stared at Hoseok's face, not allowing himself to look away.

"Don't worry, puppy. A snake always has some spare skin in the trunk of his car." Hoseok winked at him while catching his breath, and took off his shirt, wiping his stomach before jumping up like an athlete. "Good that I parked a little further away."

Hyungwon would have laughed at the dumb remark but his heart was beating furiously and it wasn't the pleasant type, rather resembling an adrenaline rush.

"I'm glad that you have spare clothing and I'm sorry about the mess, but… I panicked because of something else," Hyungwon mumbled quietly and dared to close his eyes for a few moments, hoping that the anxiety wouldn't return as soon as he let down his guard. Something about Hoseok always made him speak the truth and admit to his insecurities.

"Ah. I was so absorbed that I didn't think about anything else, I'm sorry." He felt how Hoseok's warm fingers wrapped around his wrist and pulled him up.

Him being absorbed is what you enjoyed so much.

"Don't be sorry for something that took my breath away. You are really stunning, Hoseok." Smiling, he wrapped his arms around the older man's neck and simply hugged him, enjoying the warmth. The boundaries were blurred whenever they crossed the line of friendship, going beyond usual intimacy. It was the same at Hoseok's apartment, when they shared kisses into the evening and a few days later everything that happened between them was suddenly gone. Hoseok's rejections could be sudden and ruthless and Hyungwon wasn't willing to miss a single second of the physical affection he knew he could have now. "I feel better now because I know it's you. It's not the same. My brain just made stupid associations."

"You know that you don't have to explain, right? You have the right to feel awkward and uncomfortable about it. I can take it. I just hope that it was more nice than terrifying." He was pulled into a tight embrace as their chests touched, Hoseok not wearing a shirt at all while his own was unbuttoned. The warmth felt comforting and he allowed himself to enjoy it for a few moments longer before pulling away. His hair felt like it was a mess and random grass or flowers fell to the ground whenever he moved. Hyungwon didn't need a mirror to know that he looked like a mess.

"It was amazing," he replied quietly, but didn't establish eye contact. Hoseok told him it was okay to be embarrassed, so he was going to use the opportunity. "I don't think I will forget your face. You looked so beautiful."

Why would you admit to that, Hyungwon? He might never allow you to see it again.

The fact that he wanted to was the scarier thought. Touching hadn't been his intention when he decided that he wanted to get closer to the boa.

You can't help it, something pulls you in.

"It's tricky because I have less awareness than usual, can't think and probably also can't bite, so it's not very reassuring, but thank you for the compliment. You look stunning when you come, the way your lips part is my favorite moment. But now I should put something on, you have no idea what my life will be like now that she has something in her hands." The older man sighed and stepped away.

Does he mean Hannah?

Hyungwon grinned a little and realized what the first comment actually meant. It sounded like a glimmer of hope in a dark tunnel, a chance to see a glimpse of the real Hoseok instead of the boa.

"You mean you're a decent human being when you orgasm," he pointed out and laughed, brushing through his messy black hair that had random sticks and what not caught in it. Explaining that was going to be a shit show.

"If you think that a moaning mess with lack of thought and awareness is a decent human, then I'm more than happy to be a boa." Hoseok looked disgusted, curling his mouth funnily and started picking out stuff from his hair. "Why did you have to roll in the dirt, puppy? You should behave."

"You made me feel too good, I can't help it," Hyungwon whispered and couldn't suppress the spark of shame that came right back. The fact that Hoseok called him puppy also didn't help. "But I just meant that you're genuine when you feel pleasure, I like that. It seems fair since I can't hold back at all even if I want to."

"Mhm, I really like that about you. It's gorgeous," the older man murmured as if to himself and pushed him towards the parking lot.

Is he taking you along?

Hyungwon's eyes fell on the lonely package on the tree trunk and he quickly picked it up and wrapped his arms around it. It was probably too utopian to expect Hoseok to take him along, but still his brain came up with all kinds of stupid scenarios. It wasn't like him, but still it cheered him up a little. He enjoyed the playful atmosphere and the warm hands that brushed over his shoulder lightly.

What will happen when you see each other again? He just told you that he came to you to stop your activism.

Hyungwon still didn't understand what exactly the motivation was, but now he knew the goal that Hoseok wanted to reach.

He wants to make you stop, but why is he encouraging you and giving you opportunities?

The boa appeared to be a hypocrite, quickly changing his mind with the weather, beginning with an attempt to get close to him only to lose interest right after. The same thing happened right after, Hoseok tried to push him away only to offer him more coaching.

Is he undecided? Do you have a chance to change his mind after all?

The way to the parking lot was quiet as Hyungwon reminisced about the older man's intentions and glanced around to make sure there weren't any curious neighbors around, wondering why they were running around with flushed cheeks and messy hair. Even Hoseok's suit looked like it had seen better days.

The trunk of the fancy car opened after the older man had pressed a button on his key, revealing a neat pile of clothes. The suit jacket the older man wore on top of his bare torso was carelessly thrown next to the pile, before Hoseok took a plain, white shirt and covered his body with it.

"And now? Should we go back to the celebration or do you have a better idea?"

Hyungwon felt caught as he had been shamelessly staring at the older man's bare torso until it was covered by fabric again and there wasn't much to see. Only the buttons that fought to stay closed on Hoseok's muscular chest kept stealing his attention. Switching his gaze to Hoseok's face, he thought about what was reasonable and what he wanted.

Common sense is really not your strength.

"We probably should be going back to the festival, I can't expect Hannah to take care of Jimin forever," he muttered and brushed through his hair, finding another stray leaf. His own shirt was dirty in places and Hyungwon hoped that he would be able to clean it again. Chewing on his cheek, he fixed the fit of his jeans before looking up again. "But I'd rather be with you."

"Hannah really likes your brother and keeps talking about him, so I guess she'll be fine. You want to be with me? To do what? Pull a strategy all nighter? Or to stay over?" The older man's black eyes were observing him intently while Hoseok closed the trunk.

You'd be fine with anything, wouldn't you?

"You wanted to teach me, didn't you?" he asked eventually and stepped closer, one palm resting on the fancy car. The longer Hyungwon stared at it, the more obvious it was that Hoseok had switched to an electric one, as Hannah had asked him to.

If you make it about strategy, he's more likely to agree.

“Mhm, depends on what it is that you want me to teach you,” the older man whispered and winked playfully. The broad figure moved towards the front of the car and gestured for him to get in. “You should escape your responsibilities sometimes.”

What is he offering to teach you?

Hyungwon's face was burning from the innuendo and he pursed his lips to at least pretend that he wasn't such an easy target. Climbing into the passenger seat, he buckled up and hugged his present.

There needs to be somebody to take care of your responsibilities while you escape them.

He couldn't just run away from everything and expect it to be fine, especially when people were dependent on him for their safety. His hands kept playing with the package as he turned towards the older man and finally stretched out his hand.

"Will you let me call Hannah?"

You can't escape without a word, you're the only one they have.

A hint of suspicion passed the older man’s face, but faded after a few seconds and made room for a brief smile, accompanied by the slim, elegant looking smartphone that Hoseok stretched out in his direction. “Sure.”

Hyungwon hadn't been aware of how expensive it looked the last time he used it to call the kindergarten. Clicking through it, he realized there wasn't a single number saved into the older man's contact list.

Does he remember them all by heart?

The realization didn't surprise him anymore, it might have back when Hyungwon snooped through Hoseok's belongings while the older man was asleep, but now it didn't mean anything.

He hates attachment and is secretive, why would he reveal his contacts?

Turning back to Hoseok, he chewed on his cheek and thought about how to say his next words without hinting at anything.

"I don't know her number by heart, could you…?" he said eventually and handed the phone back.

“Ah, I forgot,” the low voice murmured, before the pale fingers quickly dialed a number and handed him the phone back, cheerful female voice already talking when he barely managed to press the phone against his ear.

“Oh, are you still with Hyungwon? He is cute, right? I told you, I think you two are really good together, even though you seem a little old when you’re next to him,” Hannah exclaimed. “Don’t you dare hang up, Hoseok.”

Oh god.

"Ehm, it's Hyungwon," he muttered in German because Hannah spoke German and glanced towards the older man. For some reason he felt like Hoseok might have heard that and Hyungwon really didn't want him to. It felt strange to hear the way somebody talked about him to somebody else. He was also slightly disturbed by the fact that everybody called him cute, it wasn't really what he was going for. Protest leaders weren't supposed to be cute. Licking over his lips, he tried not to give Hannah too much time to be shocked. "Hoseok wants to take me home, so… I'm not sure how to ask this, but do you think you could take Jimin to my father at the end of the festival?"

“He wants to… what?” Suddenly it was quiet, apart from the cheerful voices in the background. “Uhm, yes, yes, sure,” Hoseok’s sister murmured quickly after realizing how long the pause had been. “Could you give me Hoseok for a second?”

Did you word that strangely?

Hyungwon spoke fluent German, but sometimes he missed hidden meanings in his speech. Curious whether that was the case, he turned towards Hoseok to see if he could read anything on the older man's face. But the blonde man only lifted an eyebrow in addition to a hint of amusement.

"For you," he murmured and handed Hoseok the phone after humming his agreement into the receiver.

“God, I have absolutely no interest, I’m going to teach him strategy and that’s it. Thank you for taking care of the boy.” Hoseok groaned and ended the call quickly. “Why are you both such fools?” he added in English.

"What makes you think that?" he asked back, a little angry about the sudden insult. "Because she thinks that you are interested in me? She's not the only one making that conclusion, Sarah did too and I fear that's entirely your fault."

It definitely is, he kept playing with your reactions right from the beginning.

“Well, you told her that I want to take you home, so she got angry and told me that I shouldn’t fuck you and leave you like I did with my ex-boyfriend. Whose fault is that?” The older man sighed and turned on the engine before smoothly pulling out of the parking lot. “I’m only interested in my goals.”

"But you do want to take me home, don't you?" Hyungwon remarked and brushed through his hair again, frustrated that they weren't reaching a consensus. That is until he realized that he must have used the wrong wording. He had told Hannah that Hoseok wanted to take him home to fuck him.

His body froze and a cold shudder ran down his back, returning crippling anxiety and breaths that were too quick to get enough oxygen.

"I… didn't mean to say that," he forced out and saw how his fingers left small dents in the cardboard packaging of his new phone. "Why- did you leave your ex-boyfriend?"

Why would you ask him? It's not relevant for you.

It was, because it meant that Hoseok began relationships that required attachment, only to throw them aside as if they were meaningless. Hyungwon needed distraction, anything to forget about the crippling pain in his chest

“Of course you didn’t mean to say that, cute little puppy, but she doesn’t know.” The boa’s dark eyes were observing the traffic ahead and the older man spread his legs for comfort, sinking deeper into the leather seat. “Why I left him? Because he wanted to know too much about me and tried to keep me,” the low voice whispered before Hoseok’s intense gaze focused on his face right after they stopped at a traffic light.

Hyungwon knew exactly why the older man looked at him like that, why Hoseok expected a reaction from him after telling him about his ex-boyfriend.

Because you are doing the same, attempting to stay close and understand him.

“But you were the one who was lying in the end, weren’t you? Why would you begin a relationship that suggests attachment if you are not willing to give it?” Hyungwon swallowed and pushed his sneakers against the leg compartment of his seat. “You should have warned him from the beginning, like me. Then he would have known what to expect.”

“I didn’t lie. I told him that he shouldn’t try to keep me because I won’t let myself be tamed by anybody and I warned him that I would immediately leave if I feel as if he is trying too hard. And now you tell me one thing, puppy,” Hoseok whispered and leaned in so close that their noses almost touched. “Why are you acting like that, even though I told you the same thing? I told you to stay away from me and not try too hard, but you’re still here.”

“Maybe surviving has given me the false belief that I am invincible,” he whispered and felt the sudden urge to bridge the last few centimeters and cover the older man’s lips with his own again, to erase the hostility through proximity. There was no fear of Hoseok running away from him, not now that the older man had decided to take him along to his apartment, but still Hyungwon resisted thinking about what their interactions meant, why he wanted to be close.

At first you wanted him to help you make a difference, and you still do.

But that wasn’t everything, Hyungwon wasn’t stupid enough to believe that his opinion hadn’t changed. Hoseok had warned him countless times, but still it felt like the boa only tried to save itself, not him.

He’s afraid of you getting too close, so he keeps warning you.

“I told you before, I like the boa. Maybe others are scared as soon as they see what’s hiding under your skin, but I’m not. The boa is what makes me want to stay.”

“You think that you’re special, but in the end all of you have one thing in common, the foolishness. You end up hoping that the facts will change but they won’t, Hyungwon. That’s why I tell you to stay the fuck away from me if it’s not about professional stuff. Because the things I can teach you are universal and will heighten your competence and ability to act, but everything else, the proximity and the way you… get close, all of it will only bring pain, nothing more, nothing less.” Sighing, the blonde man exhaled sharply, air hitting his lips, before he leaned back, focused his attention on the road ahead and stepped on the gas.

“Let that be my concern,” Hyungwon whispered and followed Hoseok’s example by focusing on the road ahead and the city lights that blurred into millions of colors. “Teach me everything you can teach me, be it professional or not.”

You want this so much even though you should be terrified.

“I wish you would listen to me for once,” the older man whispered barely audibly before they both sunk into silence.

Hyungwon didn’t reply to that and let the seconds tick by as Hoseok maneuvered through Frankfurt’s evening traffic until they stopped in a parking lot close to his apartment. The older man hadn’t moved out yet and a little bit of relief warmed his chest at the knowledge.

He wouldn’t have brought you here after moving.

A brief glance at the boa’s face was sufficient to know that he had to change the topic, address a professional one to make sure the older man stopped pushing him away, at least long enough for Hyungwon to come up with a better course of action. He still believed that Hoseok could make a big difference. The petition wasn’t everything. With enough involvement the blonde man could change the world in a matter of months while Hyungwon would require years for the same effects. If he managed at all.

He doesn’t care about cars or his company, he only cares about distance. You might have a chance to change his mind.

“We have received a large amount of donations,” he commented as soon as he had climbed out of the car and made sure to take his new phone along. Hyungwon still couldn’t believe that Hoseok would buy him something that expensive. It felt like too much. “I wanted to ask you about the best way to invest the money. Currently I have designed a few billboards with information on current CO2 emissions and pretty graphs on how easily we can change that by not driving cars.”

“Now you only have to put them on a highway,” Hoseok commented and grinned. “I told you that it’s way easier to target the positivity. Think about ads in the tram or bus, informing the people who only ride it because the main street is blocked, how much they did for the environment, only by using public transport. In addition, you have to gain more media coverage, puppy. You can’t just hang around at the boa’s cave and think that you’ll manage to accomplish anything this way.. For example tomorrow.” The older man glanced at his phone and declined a call before opening the door to his apartment and walking inside. “Tomorrow they asked you to be on a talk show. It’s tricky, but you could do it. You’re super cute, baby, it’s easy to be adored if one has a face like yours. There are also a few things you consider weaknesses that you can always use to make other people shut up.”

“Like?” Hyungwon asked and couldn’t resist the way his eyes widened at the sudden influx of information. “The talk show is during my working hours, I actually declined the offer.”

He felt a little ashamed by the fact that he cancelled something Hoseok considered important for reaching his goals and brushed through his black curls again. Hyungwon had no doubts that the blonde man was right though, positivity was the better choice and public transport adverts were affordable and reached a lot of people. The only problem was whether he was only reaching people that took the tram anyway.

“But I called Sarah and told her that you’re busy and that I’d send someone to help out if she needs it and she said it’s not a problem at all, so you can go.” The older man acted as if there was nothing wrong with his approach and walked into the kitchen to turn on the tiny coffee machine. “You have your experiences as a refugee, so as soon as someone comes along and tries to complain about your pointless activism, you shove all the grief right into his face. In addition, how can one be mad at you if you’re this cute?”

Hyungwon merely stared, disbelieving that Hoseok had straight-out called his boss to cancel his work shift and even offered a replacement. It felt strange, like the older man was perfectly aware of everything that was going on in Hyungwon’s life and had his delicate fingers wrapped around it. Sure, he knew that Hoseok was influential, but the knowledge the blonde man had about his schedule and the offers he received made it obvious that the boa must have been involved in producing these offers.

In addition he keeps complimenting you.

“You’re crazy,” he murmured and pulled his slim body on top of the counter, wondering how ready he felt for going on a talk show. “But I’ll go.”

"Amazing. There are some things you need to know, they might seem a little scary but still listen. There will be four people, one activist from Sweden who's only there to be foreign, don't think he will help you, he's useless. Then a scientist who will try to be scientific and who people won't listen to, because they're dumb and then two others. You and the tall, scary guy from VADB. Fact is, he will try his best to devalue your sufferings and declare your position as delusional. You could of course fight him with facts, but the scientist will do that and it's ineffective. What you can do, is use the things he has done and talk about them on TV after he tried all that on you. He raped an eighteen year old last year, but was never convicted, however, I have the proof, so you could get him with that. Furthermore, he embezzled money and created a donation fund for an NGO that doesn't do anything besides printing posters. He uses that money to support the oil industry, I have proof for that too." Hoseok took the cup from under the machine and took a sip, moaning quietly.

He’s scary, Hyungwon.

He knew that, of course he did with all the influence the older man had on his talk, the media presence and the petition that should have gone through without any difficulties. Hoseok Lee was a powerful man and not somebody Hyungwon would like to have as his enemy.

But it’s too late, isn’t it? The boa said it is only a matter of time until you will get bitten.

“Why are you giving me all that information?” he asked and observed the blonde man’s calm face, the way his muscular arms tensed to lift the cup of coffee to his lips and enjoy another hot sip. Hoseok wasn’t concerned about anything he had just told Hyungwon, it was merely part of his plans, a means to reach his goal. Hyungwon just didn’t know how Hoseok helping him brought him closer to the goal of stopping his activism. “Is that helping you reach your goal?”

Maybe it is not you that he wants to get rid of, but that man.

“You want me to break him for you, don’t you?” he asked eventually, not giving Hoseok enough time to reply, and shifted on top of the counter, spreading his legs a little for comfort.

He is somebody who raped another person, will you be fine being in the same room with that man?

He didn't know, especially not when his fingers tightened into fists at the thought and left half-moon shaped marks in his palms.

"If a solution or an explanation sounds too simple, it's usually only part of the truth. I could easily send someone else on the show to expose him, but I have multiple goals and I'm a strategist, I don't need you to get rid of people, cute little puppy. I work precisely in a way I've planned beforehand and if something doesn't fit, then I make it fit." Hoseok observed him with interest, gaze wandering over his body and face slowly.

What does he mean by making it fit? Is he attempting to squeeze you into his plans, no matter what you do?

Heat returned to his face at the memory of what the two of them had done only moments ago in the forest and he cleared his throat before occupying himself with his gift and finally unpacking it. The phone was of no use to him covered in cardboard.

“I see your argument, but I don’t understand how telling the public what a terrible person that man is, helps my cause. I want to show that he is wrong about arguing against me and caring about comfort when he should be caring about the planet. How am I really winning if my main point is that he is a shit human being?” Hyungwon wasn’t sure if he really won an argument if everything he said was personal and in no way related to activism and doing the right thing for the planet.

You want to make a change, but with fair means.

"Fine, then don't mention the rape, just talk about him supporting the oil industry and how bad that is for the environment." Hoseok rolled his eyes and took another sip of his coffee. "I'll give the papers to the police right after you're done."

“I think I won’t feel like it’s a real victory. However, if I manage to show that his support for the oil industry is what makes him unreliable, it should work, right?” He knew that Hoseok’s method was easier, but Hyungwon wanted to make it fair and win with related arguments and not the disclosure of crimes. “People don’t like two-faced individuals, so showing his dependency might help me to drive my point home. Why won’t the man from Sweden be of help? And why are there no women present?”

"Because they're misogynistic pigs and don't think that women have anything proper to say. The guy from Sweden has no idea what he's doing and he has also done some shady shit. In conclusion, you're the least problematic one there. Why I told you all this is because you should get familiar with all the information to be able to pull it out when you need it. The VADB guy is an annoying asshole, so he'll attack you because he thinks that he'll get promoted if he does, however, he'll go to jail instead, because I'm tired of him." The older man placed his empty cup into the sink and took off his shirt right in front of his face." I'm going to shower, don't even think about sniffing around."

You were right, he’s reaching his goal of getting rid of the guy while having you present at a talk show.

Hyungwon still didn’t understand why his presence was important for Hoseok, but he was dead sure that it was planned and mattered to the older man. Hyungwon didn’t know how it was relevant yet. His eyes didn’t care about decency when they followed Hoseok’s gorgeous chest and he had to force his eyes away and stare at the half-way unpacked phone on his lap to get his thoughts back in order.

“So I keep all this information just in case I need it while being a perfectly innocent puppy and doing as you told me,” he murmured and couldn’t quite get rid of the spite in his voice. Hyungwon didn’t know what he could find out while Hoseok was showering, but he was definitely not going to sit still like a fucking dog.

"Don't even think about sabotaging me, because I'll find another way even if you try your best," he heard from the bathroom before the door closed with a loud noise.

Fucker.

Hyungwon rarely felt angry at Hoseok because the blonde man was simply too aware of his actions and had been successful in everything he had attempted until now. It hadn’t seemed like Hyungwon was going to make much of a dent in his plans and decisions. But a person like the boa was more than needed in activism and Hyungwon couldn’t give up just like that. Still, the blatant confidence with which Hoseok shrugged him off and ordered him to do as he was told made him furious.

Ripping the packaging of his phone the rest of the way, Hyungwon took out the delicate device and turned it on to set it up while looking around Hoseok’s apartment. That way he had an alibi in case Hoseok was wondering what the hell he was doing while the older man took a shower.

Good that you’re capable of multitasking.

Clicking through the setting of his device absentmindedly, Hyungwon entered the bedroom and looked around, carefully sliding shelves and drawers open and glancing inside. He was careful and always checked whether there were any controls or tests for intruders and only found a small trick with a drawer at the very bottom of Hoseok’s desk.

Bingo.

Grinning, he slid the wooden drawer open and glanced inside, identifying the forgotten notebook with the pretty boa, a few keys, three phones and loose documents, among them entrance permissions to parliament. Hyungwon stared for a few seconds, still disbelieving that Hoseok had managed to trick him so well that it had all been a dream. The older man was good at what he did and just how good, was what scared Hyungwon a little.

But you’re not scared enough to keep him away from you.

Successfully ignoring the thought, Hyungwon didn’t want to lose any valuable time, ignored the keys and the phones and grabbed the notebook. He hadn’t seen Hoseok use it for a long time, but it could explain what exactly it was that the boa wanted from him, why he went after him in the first place and how he planned on choking him in the end.

His phones won’t be accessible anyway, you don't need to check to know that.

Listening out for steps and the sound of water, Hyungwon assessed how exactly the notebook lay in the drawer before taking it out and opening it, eyes greedily running over the pages.

It was all about him, his past, his family, where he worked and when, even his grades in university. There was a whole paragraph about the petition and possible outcomes depending on whether Hoseok decided to let it flop or not, strategic connections, but nothing about the goal, nothing that could've explained why the older man was doing all of it. There was a word on the first few pages, accompanied by a question mark, 'Love interest?', but the older man crossed it out before writing the comment 'unnecessary' next to it.

Was he considering becoming your love interest?

Hyungwon furiously tried to look further, make more sense out of all the notes that talked about him and everything that his life was about. It was terrifying that there was a person in this world that knew so much about him, everything that he did and had ever done written on a few pages in a notebook with a boa on it. His hands trembled and he chewed on his cheek as the time slowly ran out and Hoseok was close to finishing his shower.

Instead of putting the notebook right where he found it, Hyungwon closed the drawer and took it along to the bed, still glancing through the notes. Hyungwon wanted to lie down on the comfortable sheets, but his clothes were a mess and he didn’t need to try it out to know that his knees would leave dirty patches on the pearl-white sheets. Feeling shy even though he was on his own, he carefully slipped out of the tight pants and unbuttoned his shirt, hanging it over a chair on the side. His underwear wasn’t dirty, so there was no need to be extreme and scare himself.

Taking a few calming breaths, he lay down on the soft sheets, legs in the air and propped up on his elbows to look through the pages and hopefully make more sense of them than he had the first time. His heart was beating furiously in his chest because he knew what he was doing. He was defying Hoseok’s warning to not touch his things, but still he was holding the notebook, something private in his hands and only waiting for the older man to see it.

It’s about you, how can he even say that it’s his?

He heard slow steps before the door opened and turned a little to see Hoseok come out, wearing a black towel around his hips while a few drops still glistened on the older man's smooth skin. First, there was no reaction because Hoseok was looking at his body starting with his legs and moving up, but a loud hiss sounded as soon as the black eyes recognized the notebook.

"You little shit," the low voice growled, before the broad figure crawled on the bed and sat on top of him, ripping the notebook from his hands and catching his thin arms under his knees that pressed down painfully. "I told you not to touch anything."

“You did,” Hyungwon gasped and suppressed a yell from the sudden pain in his wrists. “But considering what you wrote in there it could also be mine. It’s all about me, isn’t it? How can you still call it yours? You even abandoned it only because I found it back then.”

"Yes, because it was easy to scare you a little until you fainted. Now I have to deal with your persistent attempts to get information you won't be able to use in any way and blow you so that you forget about wanting to have me close. It is mine because I gathered all this information about you. I have even more, but it's all safely stored here." Hoseok pointed at his temple, wet bangs partially covering the dark gaze.

He only touches you to make you give up?

“What does all this information give you? There is nothing relevant about me apart from the fact that I work illegally and you could ruin my life by revealing that,” Hyungwon whispered, remembering what power the older man actually held over him. Independent of all the information or the contacts the older man had, with a single word he could make sure that Hyungwon was thrown out of Germany with his whole family.

Feeling the blood thumping in his ears, he purposefully avoided Hoseok’s gaze and found himself staring at the black towel that only barely covered the blonde man’s groin and partially his thighs. He hadn’t expected Hoseok to react without bothering to dress first.

He must be furious.

"That's why I'm trying to find something else, you curious little shit, and now stop looking through my things if you don't want to be bitten," Hoseok hissed right into his face, leaning in close enough for his breaths to hit Hyungwon's lips.

He still doesn't understand.

“Bite me,” Hyungwon murmured before he could stop himself, eyes widening after the words had left his lips and pain in his wrists becoming almost unbearable. Maybe he was still trying to see the point at which everything changed, the moment when Hoseok finally gave up on his threats and bit him.

Do you want to know if you are like all the others? Is that it?

Hyungwon didn’t know, but the closer the older man’s curved lips were to his own, hissing at him to be careful, the more he wanted to know what would happen once they closed around his neck. What was it that Hoseok wanted from him? Why hadn’t the boa been able to get it yet? It was so easy to break everything, but Hoseok wasn’t willing to take the easy way out.

But why? It would be so easy to get rid of you, but he’s not doing it.

Suddenly something appeared in the boa's eyes and it sank lower, sucking on his neck while freeing his wrists. "It's not time yet," it hissed.

That means it will be time eventually.

Hyungwon gasped from the sudden wave of relief that washed over him, beginning with the disappearance of pain in his wrists and continuing with the knowledge that Hoseok had no intention of hurting him. Yet. The yet was important, but his mind didn’t dwell on it for too long. For as long as it remained a yet, Hyungwon had free reign with his closeness and his attempts to convince Hoseok otherwise, to show him that he was an important asset in the fight against climate change.

It also means you can be close to him, just the way you know you want to.

His thoughts conjured heat in his cheeks and abdomen, adding to the spark of arousal that Hoseok’s lips were able to evoke all on their own. His legs trembled without any cognitive control and Hyungwon found himself wishing he was more composed and could wrap the boa around his fingers the same way that it wrapped around his neck.

“Is this how you punish me?” he asked, voice breathy and body still immobile because of Hoseok’s weight.

"How can it be punishment if you like it so much?" the older man whispered, licking over the shell of his ear.

Hyungwon whimpered at the sensation and squeezed his eyes shut, hands finally free to roam and touch if he wanted to. His fingers started out carefully, brushing along the older man's naked thighs and drawing the edge of the towel as he held his breath and focused on the way the firm muscles felt under his fingertips. Their situation hadn't changed much, not enough for Hyungwon to be able to take a sufficient amount of control for himself and cause the blonde man to lose his mind in the same way that Hyungwon did. Their lack of clothing hadn't been his intention at first, but he liked it too much to change anything about it. Even the anger that was still present in the curve of Hoseok's eyebrow was attractive to him. It seemed like any new expression on the older man's face was a newly found treasure.

"That depends on the goal of that punishment," he finally replied and dared to slip his hands under the black towel around Hoseok's hips. He still didn't touch the blonde man and merely stroked along his inner thigh, but it felt intimate.

"Are you a masochist, puppy?" the low, attractive voice vibrated against his neck before the older man grabbed a fistful of his hair and pulled roughly, tilting his head back, licking and nibbling on the curve of his shoulder.

Hyungwon moaned, unable to help it and attempted to shake his head, but the grip on his hair kept him from it, resulting in an additional whimper at the pull instead. He had never thought of himself as somebody who enjoyed pain, rather the opposite as he fought to avoid it and to keep him and his family safe.

But whenever he threatens to bite you, you tell him to do it, every time.

"Only with you," he gasped and struggled to keep his body still, to not feel his legs shiver and the way Hoseok's thighs contracted under his fingertips. Hyungwon liked it too much, way too much to remain composed. Moaning softly, he scratched his nails over the soft skin, hoping to evoke a response in the older man, anything that justified forgetting himself.

"Do you find me attractive? Do you like the way I touch you? What is it? What is it that makes you react like that?" The words were clearly directed at him, but it seemed as if the older man asked himself the same question.

He doesn't understand what's happening between you either, that's why you managed to get so close.

"I love the way your thighs contract whenever you touch me," he murmured and turned to the side, using it as an excuse to have Hoseok's lips closer to his neck. "And your teeth in my neck drive me mad. It's unfair how you know how to burn me down."

He melts you like candle wax.

"I should be calm and reasonable, but instead I get angry, I make mistakes and I hate it," Hoseok whispered, removing the hands from his hair and tracing his body instead, both palms drawing the curve of his shoulders, his flat chest and his slim waist. The other man's pale hands were so hot, as if their proximity had heated them up. "It makes no fucking sense, I should just carry on with my strategy and fly away from here, but instead I'm caressing my prey and enjoying its pretty whimpers. God."

You were right, he is affected too. That's why he can't continue easily, you distract him.

"And what would quench your anger?" he asked carefully and dared to travel further, reaching the transition from Hoseok's thighs to his hips and stroking along it, still careful not to touch the blonde man where it became intimate. "Why do I make you so angry?"

Hoseok's words kept repeating inside his head, telling him that Hoseok was affected, enough to make mistakes and not go through with his plans. The blonde man avoided taking the easy way out and tried to find a different way to reach his goal.

Is he even hurting you?

Hyungwon couldn't be sure, not when Hoseok did everything to improve his standing in the community and help him reach further than he could have on his own.

He's helping you from the sidelines, just the way you wanted him to.

Only that he had begun wanting so much more than that, shaking under the older man as arousal began to burn on his cheeks and between his legs. He hadn't planned on responding so obviously and the hot hands hadn't even reached his groin yet, but still his body already begged for more without asking him for permission.

"Because attachment is the worst," Hoseok replied and crawled down from the bed, moving towards his wardrobe and picking out a pair of underwear that he put on away from his curious eyes. The only thing he could see was the huge boa that moved on the older man's broad back.

Hyungwon observed intently, following the motion of the snake on Hoseok's shoulders and attempted to understand if he felt afraid or concerned for his safety. Rationally he knew that he had a reason to be, that Hoseok knew enough to hurt him and that he was somebody with shady information on random people that he wanted to get rid of. It should have been easy to be scared, but still he wasn't. Hyungwon feared the border patrol man that touched him against his will, but he didn't fear the blonde man that could break his life into bits and pieces in an instant.

But that's the difference. He could, but he doesn't.

"Why is it the worst? What makes you hate it so much?" he asked quietly and climbed down from the bed. He felt naked, but so was Hoseok, uncovered apart from his underwear. Hyungwon shouldn't have asked about anger and mistakes, given the blonde man the time to reflect on what he was doing instead of planning strategy and getting rid of him.

You have to be daring or you won't achieve anything.

Stepping forward, Hyungwon wrapped his arms around Hoseok's waist and rested his head on top of the snake's black body. It was warm and sent another wave of heat through his body, but this time to his chest instead of his groin.

He doesn't hate attachment, he is afraid of it, isn't he? Afraid to get hurt the way he had before.

"The inability to think," the other man replied, but didn't move, even keeping his fingers curled around the door.

"You think that attachment keeps you from thinking? I disagree," Hyungwon murmured and attached his lips to the snake, kissing it in opposition to its danger. It was dangerous, but he cradled it as if it was something precious. "Attachment changes what matters to you and might change your decisions, but the thoughts and rationality are still present. I wouldn't think differently if I didn't have my family to take care of, I would only make different decisions because other things would have value."

"I think you misunderstood something here," Hoseok started quietly and he could tell from the movement in the broad shoulders that the older man was undecided about turning around. In the end he kept his gaze on the wardrobe and continued speaking. "I said I will teach you strategy, I didn't say that I will discuss my personal concerns with you. Is it because we were intimate? Then we should most definitely stop."

He panicked, scared that Hoseok was going to cut him off the way he had done so many times before. It was a naive thought, based on the older man's fear and attempts to lash out to shake him off, but Hyungwon's arms still tightened around the blonde man's waist.

"I was only trying to help," he murmured and buried his face in Hoseok's neck again, hiding his face even though the older man couldn't see it anyway. "Don't cut me off only because I care. I told you that my attachment is my burden to carry."

"Bullshit. I know, because once very long ago I was the one who spoke like that. It's not true. The burden is never exclusive." Suddenly the beautiful man's eyes appeared in front of him, both palms grabbing his face. "Let's stop."

You can't.

"Isn't that how unrequited love works?" he whispered, sounds barely leaving his lips as he trembled, scared of what Hoseok really meant by stopping.

It's the only moment at which you are scared, the moment when he wants to disappear.

"The person in love has feelings, but hides them away, not confronting the other person with them while dwelling in their own misery. How is that not exclusive?" Hyungwon chuckled, unsure how he came up with the example and stared right back at those black orbs, wrapping his arms around Hoseok's neck to keep him close. The older man let his arms fall to his sides, only observing him.

"What love, puppy? There are so many things that are worse than unrequited love. I think it's a good idea if we stop being intimate with each other. Nothing good will come out of that, you're not trying to get off by using me, it's complicated. I only know the kind of meetups you stalked, we met, we have sex and there is literally nothing else involved. However, this is a giant fucking mess. Let's stop, it won't take long anymore anyway."

He was hesitating but you went too far, you went too fucking far, Hyungwon. He's going to leave.

"How can you change your mind so quickly?" Panic developed in his chest and forced his blood to run cold, a whole new type of anxiety he hadn't experienced yet. It resembled his fear of loss, the way he shook uncontrollably and hyperventilated when he feared for Jimin's life, but this wasn't the same. There was no reason to fear for Hoseok's life, the blonde man would stay, somewhere far away from him, but he'd still exist.

But that's not enough for you.

His breaths picked up and he felt his heartbeat in his ears, accompanied by a dry mouth and clammy hands. Hyungwon was terrified of being cut off even though there shouldn't have been a reason to care so much for the older man. Sure, he liked him a lot, but Hyungwon doubted he would have felt the same way about anybody else.

"How can you say that you will help me, only to threaten to abandon me as soon as I step closer?" he choked out, hands digging into the skin below the older man's ribs. "Just before the festival you said that you want to coach me, what the fuck happened to that?"

"Because stepping closer wasn't the deal. Instead of getting coached you prefer to look through my things, press down on the bits of my personality I showed you and try all kinds of things that you mistakenly believe will prevent me from hurting you. They won't, Hyungwon, I'll just leave and abandon everything. You have hope because you don't fucking know me. Now you only need to call me an asshole for hurting you and we're done." Sucking in a gulp of air, Hoseok stared at him while chewing on his lips.

"But I won't," Hyungwon whispered, bottom lip shaking with emotion even though he didn't want it to. His hands still held onto the older man with the remaining glimmer of hope that he would stay and change his mind again. Hoseok was wrong, Hyungwon didn't hope because he didn't know the older man. He hoped because he wanted to get to know him. "I won't call you an asshole, because you aren't one."

Hiding his lips in his mouth, Hyungwon stepped closer and wrapped his arms around Hoseok's neck instead, hugging him tightly and burying his face in the warm skin. The strong arms didn't curl around him in return, but it was okay, he could deal with that.

"I'm sorry for taking your things, I only did it because your words felt like empty threats to me and I couldn't bear not understanding what it is that you want from me. I shouldn't have, especially not if I call myself somebody who cares about you." His voice sounded muffled but Hoseok didn't give him a sign that he couldn't understand him, so Hyungwon continued. "I know that you will hurt me, you said it often enough, but can't I stay close until you do? It doesn't matter anymore, so why would you hurt me before it's time? You said yourself that it's not time yet."

You sound so desperate while struggling to be reasonable.

"It's not time, but I'm considering speeding it up. I will coach you and you can stay over because I promised, but that's it," the low voice whispered next to his ear.

That will be it.

"You mean that I won't see you after this?" he asked quietly, arms remaining tight around the older man and breaths ragged from waves of adrenaline that kept washing over him.

"No, that would make it too easy for you to find me, but I don't want anything that crosses the boundaries of what I just mentioned."

He doesn't want you to touch him because he needs to remain distant, aware of his surroundings.

"I see, so you're telling me not to touch you, is that it?" Brushing through his black curls with his shaky right hand, Hyungwon looked up and stared at the emotionless way Hoseok looked at him. It couldn't compare to the turmoil and indecisiveness, the pleasure and arousal that he had seen on the same face only a few hours ago.

He wants to take that away because he opens up when you're close.

"Why would a touch matter to you, Hoseok? I thought you do it all the fucking time, enough for your sister to worry about me."

"Like that, she doesn't have to worry," Hoseok replied and stepped back before pulling a black shirt over his muscular torso and handing a similar one to him. "You can shower if you like, I'll read and sleep, it's late."

"Fine," he whispered and ripped the clothes out of the older man's hold as he hurried to the bathroom and slammed the door. Only when he was on his own and surrounded by four tiled walls and otherwise nothing he realized that he was acting like a child, throwing a tantrum because the blonde man refused to be close to him.

Why does that suddenly matter? You wanted to be his friend, so stay close this way, try to get through to him. It's not impossible.

Maybe it wasn't and Hyungwon only needed to try harder, but still he would always know what he was missing, that the closeness he had enjoyed with the older man revealed more than anything else ever could have.

You like him, Hyungwon. Enough to want to be close to him even though you didn’t give a single shit before.

His body slipped down the wooden bathroom door and he pulled his naked knees to his chest, staring at the black and white tiles in alternation. Rejection wasn't new, he had experienced it before, with projects and demonstrations and with people that he had hoped to motivate for the cause. He was familiar with it, so it should have been okay.

It should have, but it wasn't. Instead his bottom lip trembled as he attempted to remain calm and his blunt nails scratched over his naked calves, leaving thin red lines. Hyungwon didn't want to remain on his own, for the first time in years it felt like he had met somebody who made a difference, a person that mattered and showed him that he mattered.

He didn’t even care that it was all a lie that was going to crumble in his hands as soon as Hoseok wanted it to. Hyungwon had hoped he could keep the illusion at least a little longer, for as long as he was able to.

You don't really matter, but he keeps making you feel like you do.

His right fist hit the bathroom wall and the pain in his knuckles was enough to stop thinking for a few seconds, squeezing his eyes shut and waiting for the sensation to fade. It was familiar to sit in the bathroom on his own and fight with his tears. After all, the cold tiles were the only place that he allowed himself to feel weak.

You are too weak to fight him.

Shaking with fear and hurt at the knowledge that all those things he had treasured for the past weeks were going to disappear now, he peeled the remaining clothes from his skin and stepped into the shower, letting the cold water cover him whole.

The last time he had been drowning, the sensation was real, he had been fighting for his life, to survive and save his family. Back then there had been something he was able to do, force himself to move despite injuries, to swim, to scream for help, anything. No matter the situation, there had been something he was able to do, no matter how tiny and meaningless.

Now that the boa had spoken and his hands continuously closed around empty air, Hyungwon remembered what helplessness felt like. It was screaming into the void, knowing that the words mattered and the feelings did but none of them arrived at their goal. They were reflected off the wall the same way Hyungwon had been rejected by the blonde man.

Sinking to the ground in the shower and ignoring the ice water that ran down his chest and legs, Hyungwon finally allowed himself to cry.

As soon as the first drop mixed with the icy water and dripped down his lips, he could say for sure that it was the first time he’d cried since his mother's death, quietly and because of the same old helplessness that had destroyed him back then.

Chapter Text

Why can’t you just cut it clean?

He sat on the edge of his bed, stared at the open cupboard and listened to the sounds of water coming from the bathroom next door. Puppy had looked hurt and panicked when he grabbed the t-shirt he gave him and disappeared into the room, slamming the door shut with a loud noise that still echoed inside his mind, even though there should have only been the sound of water.

Did you become weak lately? Why is it so hard to cut this off? You only got a messy hand job out of this, it's ridiculous.

It was, however, they were around each other a lot, too often and too close. Hyungwon was impressionable, easily reacting to him and listening to what Hoseok told him, but also bratty. It almost seemed as if the black-haired boy tried to test out how close he could get for Hoseok to change his mind. Just that there was nothing to change. Hoseok had planned to carry through with the project and go somewhere, not caring about anyone and anything to shed his skin once again to come out stronger than before.

He's a fool, thinking that you'll dance the way he wants you to, only because he was allowed to touch your dick and visit your apartment a few times.

However, he wasn't unaware of his own reaction to the beautiful curly-haired activist. It was difficult to hide his fascination with the boy's internal strength paired with visible vulnerability and his open approach towards him, inviting him to wrap around his neck.

You want to, but not to bite him.

The thought made him angry. He wasn't supposed to want his prey, not like that. The story with the border patrol, Hyungwon's reaction to his orgasm and the boy's expression of pure shock at the wrongdoings of the VADB employee, made their closeness more difficult because there was too much complexity and pain involved.

You can't just fuck him and then let go. You will have to break his neck and you know too well how that feels if you like the person who ends up breaking your neck.

Glancing at the shut door and listening to the noises coming from the bathroom, Hoseok checked the time on the alarm clock next to his bed. Hyungwon had been inside for twenty-three minutes, which wasn't long per se, however, it was the sound of water that made him suspicious. The drops were continuous, unchanging and stable, as if the person under it didn't move.

As if he wasn’t moving.

Suddenly there was a sudden shot of adrenaline while his mind came up with alarming scenarios involving a fainted puppy and ending with the worst case that he couldn't bear thinking about. Inhaling sharply, he stood up and walked towards the door, listening closely, after a few seconds he was sure that it sounded the same. Motionless.

You should knock first.

Following his own advice, he knocked a few times in case Hyungwon simply wanted to think while letting the water run, but the sounds didn't change and there was no reply.

You have to open the door.

Unfortunately, the bathroom door had a key that stuck in the keyhole and there was no easy way to open it, so he had to use force in combination with his body weight.

Just hope that he's still alive.

His shoulder hurt a little bit after repeatedly slamming it against the wooden surface, but the lock finally broke and he stumbled inside, focusing his gaze on the running shower.

The black-haired figure was crouching on the floor in the shower, knees pulled up to his chest and slim arms wrapped around his long legs. Hoseok couldn't see his face at it was buried in his arms, only the dark curls were visible, stuck to Hyungwon's unusually pale skin.

Shit.

He forgot the last time he moved that fast. Opening the glass doors, and turning off the running water that was completely freezing, Hoseok curled his arms around the cold body and felt the boy's pulse at his neck. The hypoventilation was obvious, but there were breaths, which meant that he still had the opportunity for some kind of action.

He needs to get warm.

Without much thought, Hoseok carried the slim, almost weightless man out of the shower, trying his best to revive the limp form. Hyungwon felt ice cold in his arms and the sensation forced a shudder down his spine.

You're scared and confused, but you need to think and make the right decision.

It felt overwhelming, but he didn't have time to dwell on it. Instead, he placed Hyungwon onto his bed, drying him quickly with one of the towels he brought along before placing the big blanket on top of the naked body. Hyungwon could have been a nymph with that bluish skin color.

Body warmth should be effective.

The black shirt landed on the floor before he crawled on the bed and wrapped himself around Hyungwon who was shivering so hard that he had trouble keeping him still.

"Hey, puppy," he whispered into the curled ear, feeling so cold himself that he threw a second blanket over them. "Why would you try to freeze? Huh?"

Hyungwon didn't reply but a brief jerk in the boy's limbs suggested that he tried to get closer to him, surround himself with the warmth that he was offering. Bony fingers pressed flat against his chest, but weren't used to establish distance between them the way the boy had done before.

"Shh, come here," he whispered and rubbed the towel against the boy's hair to dry it a little, before pulling the freezing body further into his embrace, legs wrapping around it to establish more points of contact. "You wanted me to wrap around you, so voila. It probably isn't quite what you imagined." Hoseok was so cold, but didn't show it, wrapping tighter around the boy's thin body that wasn’t able to warm itself.

"I… thought you wanted to leave," the boy's low voice suddenly sounded next to his ear. It was rough and gave off the impression that Hyungwon fought for every word that left his lips, fighting against hypothermia. There wasn't even much to keep the boy warm in the first place, so staying under cold water for a long time was insane.

Hyungwon didn't move a single inch, not even after speaking to him and continuously shivering in his embrace. It didn't seem like the boy was consciously talking to him, it rather reminded him of delirious mumbling.

"You know, my mom... left too. I should be used to it by now." The words resembled ice and fit to the body temperature Hoseok was dealing with, cold and cutting through as if they had been on repeat in the boy's head and only now managed to escape confinement.

He didn't just compare the death of his mother to you leaving, did he?

"It's not the same, Hyungwon. I'm sure that your mom didn't want to leave you. I understand that it makes you want to freeze under cold water until you can't feel anything, but you shouldn't do it because of me. You shouldn't react like that, I'm just a boa, nothing more," he whispered and tightened his embrace, pushing Hyungwon's face into the crook of his neck. "I thought you fainted or something worse. There are people who need you and who you love, there's no point in hurting yourself."

You too should have moved on.

"Why are you able to make me feel so much adrenaline at once? It's been a long time," he whispered, wondering if puppy already had a thread of his attachment in his hands, pulling it while acting unaware.

"Maybe because you make me feel scared too, but not for the reasons you want me to be." The boy's cold nose pressed against the hot skin of his neck and Hoseok barely resisted shuddering at the temperature difference. Even Hyungwon's breaths were more reminiscent of a cold breeze in winter than the burning gasps he was familiar with. "It's the same because you made me cry. I never cry, not since she left."

You made him cry. But why would he cry because of you, Hoseok?

"Just… Just get warm again," he replied, feeling increased discomfort at the image of puppy crying under the cold shower only because of something that he said and not something that he did.

How much does he feel towards you to react like that?

Curling his fingers into Hyungwon's soaked curls, he pressed him closer to his chest, even though everything inside him screamed to push the boy away and run.

"You told me to let go of my responsibilities sometimes." Hyungwon swallowed and shook in his hold, struggling to get closer because there was already no space between them. "This is what happens when I do. I… can't allow myself to be dysfunctional; I have to be the strong one."

He shouldn't let go around you. Why did you tell him to?

"That's why you need to let go of me." The conclusion was so easy; the man in his arms only needed to let him go and everything was going to be amazing again. "Forget that I existed and move on, I'll help you."

"You misunderstand," Hyungwon whispered and Hoseok felt how the boy's hands finally moved from his chest, carefully wrapping around his waist. "It's hard, so fucking hard and nobody gave a single shit before. I can only let go of my responsibilities when you are with me, I- I can't do it alone, Hoseok."

Nevertheless, you will be gone.

"Bullshit, it's because you feel helpless right now, unable to get warm by yourself, but as soon as your skin is hot again, you'll be able to do anything. You're so strong, you are taking care of your family, working, studying and saving the planet all by yourself." Hoseok leaned back and cupped the boy's pale face with both palms. His lips were an unhealthy blue color, adding to the nymph image. "The boa isn't hot enough to make you feel warm," he whispered.

The boy was staring at him, eyes big and skin still far away from a healthy pink. Observing him for a few moments longer, lean arms tightened around him and a soft breath escaped the boy's thick lips and tickled his mouth.

"Kiss me," Hyungwon whispered.

He wants to be close so badly. Is it bad if you let him? Will it harm your goal? Will you be able to pull this off? How will it affect you?

He didn't know the answer to any of his strategic questions. Swallowing down the terrifying conclusion, he licked his lips and leaned in; covering the boy's ice-cold mouth with his own while wrapping his legs tighter around Hyungwon's narrow hips.

The plump lips immediately parted in invitation, beckoning him to meet the hot tongue, the only part that wasn't cold. Hyungwon's hands roamed over his back and shoulders, pulling him closer as big brown eyes fluttered shut. Even with pale cheeks and almost blue lips the boy was beautiful.

You find him attractive and fascinating. Why do you allow him to be here?

"What am I giving you that you like so much?" Hoseok asked between their kisses, struggling to understand why the black-haired man wanted him close, so close that they breathed the same air while their lips touched and their chests rose and sank in unison.

“Affection,” Hyungwon whispered against his cheek before he blessed it with a cool kiss and returned his attention to Hoseok’s mouth, tracing its form with his hot tongue. “You make me feel like I matter.”

How?

He couldn't believe it. How could Hyungwon feel affection when the only thing he was trying to do was reach his goal by being a bastard?

What are your goals?

“But- you matter without me, puppy. The main problem is that you don’t understand the most basic thing about our relationship. You should take what you can out of it and continue doing what you did before. You are so smart and capable, my knowledge will benefit you a lot and I see how fast you learn. Instead of kissing me, you should learn my strategies and then forget about me.” It was hard to express how hypocritical he sounded, muttering the words breathlessly between their desperate kisses while his limbs wrapped around the naked young man in his arms and didn’t want to let go any time soon.

But he needs to get warm to leave.

“But how can I forget about somebody who gives me so much, Hoseok?” Hyungwon slipped his arms in between their bodies until he was able to wrap them tightly around Hoseok’s neck, fingers sinking into his hair. The boy was just as desperate to hold on as he was, wrapping his lanky limbs around him and breathing his kisses instead of air. “You are the only one who cares. I don’t care whether it is to hurt me or not, but- you do.”

A fool.

“I can, you can, everybody can forget another person, Hyungwon,” he heard himself whisper. “Are you feeling warm now?”

“No,” the boy murmured and kissed him again, arms wrapping tighter around his neck. Hoseok couldn’t tell whether Hyungwon replied to his assertion that everybody could be forgotten or to the question.

“Then maybe you need someone who can make you feel warm,” he muttered, leaning back and observing the wet curls and the big brown eyes that stared at him. There was something deep about them, something he usually couldn’t find if he established eye contact with people.

“Until now nobody was able to,” Hyungwon whispered in reply and carefully moved forward, pressing a kiss on his cheek and to the tip of his nose. The slim boy was careful, as if he was scared that whatever they shared would fall apart if he was being too rough, too sudden in his motions.

He doesn't understand that there is nothing to fall apart and the only thing separating him from the reality where you're gone is exactly one decision. Your decision.

"You're eighteen. There's so much waiting for you," Hoseok whispered, accompanied by a smile. Somehow, the prospect that puppy would find someone to be with made him a little cheerful. "Let the boa choke people and invest your precious affection into someone who can share warmth and comfort."

He will move on.

“But who will take care of the boa, Hoseok? It isn’t able to keep itself warm.” Hyungwon swallowed and wrapped his right leg around his hips, curling around him like a koala around a tree branch. “And what is this if not warmth and comfort?”

The boa will swallow people and keep itself warm.

"I don't need to be taken care of. I made decisions in favor of my structured mind seven years ago, back when I was just like you and since then I'm on my way to perfection and success. There is little that I'm not capable of Hyungwon, and attachment is what makes me unusable, weak. I'm weak and I hate it so much that I want to throw you out, but again, I'm weak, so I can't." Hoseok sat up and tried to catch his breath, terrified of his own words.

You're attached. That's the reason for acting like this. You try to work around your goal because it can hurt him. But you need to let go.

"I can't let you get closer," he muttered, feeling adrenaline spread in his chest and stomach.

You shouldn't share too much, just shut up.

“But what are you so afraid of? What makes you so sure that your decision from seven years ago is the right one?” Hyungwon sounded desperate as he scrambled to sit upright as well and reached out to stroke over Hoseok’s exposed forearms. The boy’s body was still pale, but he had dried and some of the color had returned to his plump lips, painting them a vibrant pink. “Is everything you feel so terrible that it deserves to be abandoned? Is it only pain?”

Yes.

"You don't understand that the better it feels and the more your heart opens, the rougher the fall will be. It will hurt so much that you'll hate yourself for every single touch, every single word and every single second that you spent with that person. You will hate yourself for being so fucking dumb and for thinking that people change," he hissed, while his hands shook from all the adrenaline and he didn't allow himself to reach out. His mind was flooded with images, confessions and touches, that all turned out to be directed towards a specific goal.

It was the goal and not you.

Hoseok kept warning him, kept saying that he was doing it all for his goal, but still the younger man sat naked across from him and touched him with a face that spoke of nothing but affection. Fuck.

You'll do the same to him. The same thing.

"Stay away from me, Hyungwon."

The black-haired boy stared at him, eyes wide and hand frozen in the middle of a motion, just when he had been about to reach out. A few seconds passed as the plump lips parted and Hyungwon wanted to say something, but hesitated. The long fingers ignored his warning and reached out for his cheek, brushing over it with a cool thumb, following the line of his bottom lip.

He's a fool and he won't listen to you.

“But the fact that you tell me all of this means that you care, doesn’t it? It means that even though you know it will happen and that I am going to get hurt, you still gave me your affection. Even if the goal is a different one, the affection is real, isn’t it?” the younger man whispered and brushed over his cheek to his neck and all the way down his arm until he grasped his palm and intertwined their fingers. Observing him intently, Hyungwon lifted his hand to his lips, placing a cool kiss on top of his knuckles.

What affection? Did you give him affection? When?

"You've lost your mind taking the boa's exhales against your neck for affection." His hand was shaking against the boy's plump lips.

You need to think, but you can't when he's next to you. How could it slip past your consciousness? You should have known earlier where this was going.

"You're still freezing," he murmured, glancing at the boy's thin build.

"But only because you let go of me." Hyungwon was watching him as he continued to press his lips to Hoseok's hand, each knuckle separately until he finally slipped closer and wrapped his arms around his neck, climbing on top of his lap. “Nobody is keeping you from hurting me if you need to, just don’t leave.”

You wouldn't have come close if you knew that he would ask you to strangle him with that expression on his face.

"Just take what you want from me and leave," he said, but returned the embrace, tightening his grip around Hyungwon's body, lips attaching to the crook of the boy's neck that was still cool in comparison.

“I only want you to stop being afraid,” the low voice whispered and fingers reached for his hair and began to rake through it, calming as Hyungwon’s palm travelled downwards to his nape only to resume at the top of his head again. “Stay, I can bear it, whatever you plan on doing to me.”

How are you supposed to act now?

"I only have one thing that I want and it's for my awareness to return," he whispered. "We need to sleep."

“You are right,” Hyungwon admitted and leaned in to kiss his forehead, soft lips cooling the hot skin. “But what happens after you have gained your awareness?”

"I guess the boa will remember the point of its existence." Hoseok loosened his grip on the boy's waist and tried to put some distance between them.

“Maybe it will also remember that it cannot keep itself warm.” Smiling, Hyungwon placed another kiss to his forehead and attempted to climb off from his thighs, slim body still rather unstable.

It knows, but there is no consequence from that.

"It doesn't care about warmth. You have to offer it something else if you want to make it change." Hoseok had no idea why he said that, but the thought had lingered in his mind since they started talking about warmth. Why would the boa change its goals? It made no sense.

Only if it’s new prey.

He covered himself with the blanket and turned away from puppy to spare himself from the boy's reaction.

He didn’t hear a reply, only shaky steps that made their way towards the bathroom. The sound of water worried him at first, but it was the sink, so there was no reason to be concerned. The minutes passed until the same steps returned to the bedroom, still unstable and almost weightless.

“You said I would have to offer you something else,” Hyungwon whispered behind him and slipped under the blanket, long arms wrapping around his waist and hugging him. “The boa needs a goal, doesn’t it? How about a different one, a goal that is so much more difficult to reach than what you are fighting for now?”

A different goal?

It sounded too easy and manipulative. Of course, puppy wanted him to abandon his goal and do something else instead, but he wasn't stupid.

Give him a random deadline and let him try to convince you. He can learn a lot while coming up with a strategy.

"You have exactly seven days to convince me with proper strategy and rational arguments, otherwise I will carry on with my original plan," he said, shifting a little in Hyungwon's hold.

“Fine,” puppy murmured behind him and plastered his flat and cold chest against his back, holding on and breathing softly against his nape. The boy was warmer than before, even if it didn't compare to Hoseok's body temperature yet. “You said I have seven days, so I am going to make sure my case is watertight before I present it.”

Of course, he will.

"Uuh, will you also wear a slim fit shirt and a blue suit?" The mockery wasn't necessary but it felt safer that way. "I won't accept anything less than perfection and you need to go to this talk tomorrow."

You need to get rid of the rapist dude too.

“I will. Will you promise me not to leave until I have presented my case?” The slim arms tightened around his waist until Hyungwon suddenly let go, lifted the blanket and climbed over him, all the way, until he lay in front of him, slim body squeezing in between his arms and against his chest. “Better,” puppy whispered quietly and the bit of warmth that radiated from the slim body told Hoseok that the boy must have been feeling better.

He won't leave you alone and he knows that you are weak when he's like that.

"You're adorable, puppy," he whispered and kissed the boy's forehead while his eyes fluttered shut. He was tired, unwilling to think about the consequences of his attachment, about Hyungwon's words or about what would happen in seven days. He wanted to sleep.

 

***

 

Shadows danced along the wall with every passing car, patterns made of light that illuminated the meaningless paintings that covered the tapestry across from him. The light didn't reach the bed or their blanket covered bodies. The dim, yellowish hue of a street lamp was the only source of brightness that allowed Hyungwon to identify the straight nose and heart-shaped nostrils. Hoseok had prettily curved lips that parted a little when he slept, making it look like he was smiling.

He looks so innocent and friendly without his teeth bared.

Maybe he should have been asleep, especially considering his schedule for the day, but as soon as his eyes opened in the early morning hours, Hyungwon hadn't been able to close them again. Hoseok had shifted a few times but remained blissfully asleep, unaware of Hyungwon's eyes observing him intently.

He's really beautiful when he's asleep. So different from the danger he attempts to show.

He swallowed and shifted closer, hyper aware of the warm arm around his body. He had finally warmed up and the numbness disappeared. Hyungwon had been careless with his actions, allowing himself to freeze in the cold shower and forgetting about the people he was responsible for.

You can't abandon them and you can't let go of him.

His right hand reached out and removed a blonde strand of hair from Hoseok's pale forehead, uncovering more of the delicate features. The older man didn't look like a boa, cold and threatening.

He's fighting to be one by not feeling anything.

If only he knew, what it was that made the older man decide to become the boa, to not let anybody close to him and abandon attachment. What pain did he go through to make such a decision? Hyungwon couldn't imagine it and he doubted that Hoseok would share it with him.

You can only try to change his focus.

Hyungwon had agreed to find a new goal for the blonde man, something that was a challenge and worth focusing on instead of causing him pain and misery.

You are crazy, you haven't even fully grasped why he plans on hurting you.

But did it really matter? Hyungwon knew it was about the protests and his involvement with them. It was no secret that helping the planet was such a better goal for the older man, a bigger challenge and one with a much more satisfying outcome. If Hoseok didn't care about humans then he should have done it for the challenge it involved, the number of people that were against it.

He could accomplish so much with the power he holds.

There wasn't much time left until the older man was going to rise and drive him to the refugee home, so he could take Jimin to kindergarten and return to being himself. Meaningless and stubborn.

But there is no point in forcing him to drive you again. He's doing enough already.

A smile passed his lips as he observed Hoseok's pretty face and brushed over the blonde man's mouth with his thumb, fascinated by how vulnerable and calm he seemed.

The boa had invested so much effort into teaching him, there was no way that Hyungwon could fail. He couldn't allow himself to.

This might be your only chance, don't fuck it up.

Leaning in briefly, he placed a kiss against the soft lips and lifted the blanket off his slim body. He was still naked because of Hoseok's attempt to warm him up and heat spread in his cheeks as he glanced down at the way his legs intertwined with the other man's muscular ones. It looked intimate, as if they were sharing air and much more than only kisses.

Stroking along Hoseok's firm bicep, he attempted to loosen the grip around his middle.

This is so much more than you expected when you decided to step closer and fight your fear.

Suddenly the grip tightened and he was pressed against the hot, muscular chest, while Hoseok gave himself a few more seconds to gain awareness.

"I don't think it's time to wake up yet. My alarm didn't ring," the low voice whispered right next to his ear.

"It- didn't." Hyungwon's eyes widened in shock. He hadn't expected the older man to wake up despite his efforts.

But it wouldn't be the first time.

"You can continue sleeping, it's fine," he whispered and placed a kiss on the older man's forehead, unsure what made him decide it was okay. Maybe it was the dark and the dim light of the lamp, resembling the moment when he let his hands roam Hoseok's tattooed back.

Sucking his lips into his mouth, he was perfectly aware of Hoseok's naked legs entangled with his own. The blonde man was so strong that Hyungwon doubted he had a chance to free himself unless Hoseok decided to let him go.

"I didn't mean to disturb you," he explained quietly.

Hoseok chuckled quietly but made no efforts to loosen his embrace. "I know. But I learned to be a light sleeper because I can't let go, especially if there's a curious puppy in my apartment. You can sleep another forty minutes, or do you need to go to the bathroom?" Hoseok pushed against his lower back.

"Just a little," Hyungwon murmured and felt embarrassed right after. He had hoped to leave quietly and without disturbing Hoseok but that had failed spectacularly. "I… hoped I could spare you the bother of chauffeuring me around."

"Thank you for your concern, but it’s part of my plans, so you don't need to worry. Should I let you go to the bathroom?" The warm embrace tightened and he felt Hoseok's thick thigh slip between his legs.

Hyungwon swallowed and could tell how his body heated up, starting with his cheeks and fluently continuing with his groin. He shouldn't have reacted to something as basic as the older man's thigh, or the firm embrace, but somehow he couldn't help it. Even the question Hoseok had asked was embarrassing; emphasizing that Hyungwon couldn't have freed himself even if he wanted to.

But why aren't you scared? Isn't it similar?

In one way it was, but Hyungwon knew that Hoseok had never done something to him for his own pleasure. There had always been an ulterior motive, to scare him off or to hide how affected the blonde man actually was. Even now there must be a reason, something that Hoseok wanted to reach by restricting him and exhaling warm air against his neck.

Maybe he wants to see you react, tremble in his arms again.

Hyungwon should have been disgusted by morning breath and uncomfortable with unnecessary proximity, but he was blushing and responding with arousal instead. His hands rested flat against Hoseok's chest, but didn't even attempt to push the older man away.

"I might be the boa, but not letting you pee is not my kind of threat," the older man chuckled and let him go, loosening his embrace gradually before putting enough distance between them. "Feel free, you seem very excited to see me, it'll get better after you come out."

"Come out?" Hyungwon stared at the older man in confusion for a few moments, before pushing himself backwards and climbing out of the bed. He seemed embarrassed because of his nakedness and obviously aroused.

But why would you be embarrassed? He acts as if it's the most normal thing ever when he says he's fine despite sporting an erection.

Licking over his lips, he straightened his back and did his best to pretend that his body was supposed to look like that, quickly crossing the room and disappearing in the bathroom. He hurried up, taking care of his business as soon as his body calmed down enough to be able to and brushing his teeth in a hurry.

Once he returned to the bedroom, he was grateful that he didn't look 'excited to see him' anymore. Somehow, the comment reminded him of Hoseok calling him a puppy, which definitely didn't help his image.

"I apologize for stealing your sleep," he murmured and climbed under the blanket to cover his naked body. He wasn't too sure what to do with himself now that Hoseok was awake and he couldn't sneak out. Forty minutes was a long time for somebody who barely got a handful of sleep.

And he didn't even promise you that he won't move within the next week.

"You look good naked," Hoseok whispered with a brief smile before escaping himself, obviously to brush his teeth. A few minutes passed before the beautiful blonde man appeared in the doorframe, leaning against it. He looked gorgeous, only wearing underwear and creating more contrast to his skin tone. "I'm not much into cuddling, so would you like a coffee instead?"

He compliments you, but it has no consequences.

"Sure," Hyungwon replied and attempted to be nonchalant as he waited for the older man to disappear into the kitchen so he could escape and get dressed. As soon as Hoseok's broad form stepped away from the doorframe, he jumped up and pulled his underwear over his long legs, followed by the new jeans that Hoseok had given him and the red shirt. Both were still a little dirty from rolling around on the grass, but he hoped it wasn't that bad.

Don't think about it, you'll react.

Running his fingers through his curls to get them into something that vaguely resembled a hairstyle, he entered the kitchen and pulled himself on top of the counter, observing Hoseok in his tight trunks. It felt calming to be the dressed one for once and Hyungwon allowed his eyes to roam the tattooed back, the prominent dips in between the defined muscles and the gorgeous v line that disappeared under black fabric. That is until Hoseok turned around and met his gaze.

God, stop staring like a creep.

"The agreement is still on, isn't it?" he asked to distract from his ridiculous obsession.

"You mean that I will let you present me a strategy and a new delicious prey?" The older man stepped closer and handed him the cup, unbothered by his lack of clothes. "It's on. You have six days and twenty hours."

Hyungwon wished he could have been as unbothered as Hoseok was, easily agreeing to deals and feeling confident about his success. He had felt confident, until the older man used that particular description for what he was looking for.

"Delicious?" His eyes widened a little and he wrapped his fingers tightly around a cup of coffee. "Does the goal have to be a person?"

You cannot give him another person as the prey, it's many, opposition as a whole.

"You know, puppy," the low voice started, "the boa only eats once every few months, but the prey needs to be worth it. You're a particularly delicious one because I spent so much effort coming closer, so I need something that's at least as tasty as you are and makes up for all the annoyance I had to go through to get near enough to bite." The older man hissed into his ear after leaning closer.

How much more does he want to taste? Until he is able to break your neck?

"Didn't you get a bite yet?" he asked and spread his legs a little, almost automatically to have space for Hoseok in case he planned to move even closer towards him. There was something dangerous to those black eyes again, but instead of feeling scared, Hyungwon felt curious.

"You think I did? You're mistaken, puppy. I simply moved close enough to smell your pretty fur," Hoseok chuckled and blew his curls from his forehead. "But your neck does look bitable, so you need to present me something attractive, something that I might want instead of you."

Hyungwon swallowed and nodded. He knew that Hoseok was being metaphorical, that he needed somebody to strategize over and manipulate who was more interesting than Hyungwon. It didn't seem to be difficult, after all anybody would be more interesting than him.

You're only a boy trying to save the world, no more.

"Shouldn't it be easy to have something that you want more than me? After all, you said yourself that I anger you and don't act the way you want me to. Maybe you will only benefit from something that doesn't waste your time the way I do. Why stay with somebody like me if you could reach so much more?"

"That's not for you to decide. Good luck," the older man whispered before disappearing down the hallway and finally the bedroom, judging by the sound of the heavy wardrobe doors.

Hyungwon didn't comment, after all there was nothing he could have said to that. The blonde man was right; he had his own thoughts and his own assumptions. Hyungwon had gotten much closer than Hoseok had previously planned. So maybe that made breaking him even better. He had no way of knowing.

You only know that you need to find something that is better, no matter what.

Hyungwon also needed to go to the talk show without having a mental breakdown.

"Would you drive me home?" he murmured as soon as he heard Hoseok leave the bedroom. There was no point in stealing the blonde man's time or he hadn't found a way to convince him yet. In addition, Hyungwon didn't want to stare and occupy his mind with warm hands on his body and the same cold face, but only stricken with pleasure.

You've seen it once, but that obviously doesn't mean anything.

Hyungwon had gotten close enough to be desirable, but not close enough to matter.

_

 

His hands were trembling from worry and excitement, crossing them on his lap was the most effective way to hide it. Hoseok had told him to be himself, while making sure to appear confident. The task sounded easier when he was still sitting in the black leather seats of the older man's car. Now, with his thighs barely taking up space on the gigantic red couch of the talk show, he felt like he was drowning in anxiety.

Hoseok had been right about the Swedish activist, he was vegetarian and wanted change, but didn't seem aware of what change really meant. Hyungwon had met many people like him, convinced that there had to be change, but of course only change that didn't result in discomfort for themselves.

How can he promote change, but support car manufacturers?

The scientist was more reliable; elaborating on facts that even Hyungwon struggled to follow sometimes. He wasn't well-versed and supporting the elderly man with simple explanations might have impressed the moderator, but not the VABD employee that sat across from him and observed each of his movements with an amused twitch of his eyebrows. Hyungwon felt uncomfortable merely being in the same room as that man, not to mention talking to him.

He doesn't give a single shit, he only wants to make you look bad.

The man was taller than him and definitely worked out, covering his muscles under the expensive fabric of his dark blue suit. The most uncomfortable part about the older man were the gazes he gave him every time he spoke, there was something dark and borderline disgusting about the way the guy looked at him, but maybe it was because of his knowledge about the man's deeds.

You probably judge him because you know that he is a criminal.

Hyungwon hated the knowledge and the way it pulled his anxiety to the surface whenever his eyes met the other man's amused gaze. Compared to the creepy dude, he couldn't even believe that he had been terrified of Hoseok before.

Despite his discomfort, he tried his best, arguing against the employee and translating the scientist's words as well as he could. When he felt like the VABD employee was about to embarrass him because of his age and heritage, he mentioned the support for the oil industry, the additional cover up organizations the other man was part of and why that was detrimental for the environment. The curious glance that the moderator threw him was a good sign.

You have to show him that he was not going to get away with his lies.

The longer he spoke the more confident he felt, voice becoming steadier and hands curling into fists to emphasize his arguments until they rested calmly next to his thighs.

When the moderator called for a break with a wide smile in his direction, he couldn't remember the last time he had felt so relieved and so powerful at the same time. Everybody listened to every single word he spoke, hanging on them like a prophecy and even the irrelevant comments about his heritage and the fact that he was a refugee were ignored because of his arguments.

It's too good to be true.

Smiling to himself, he walked backstage to the small area he was shown before. They had smeared something on his face and he felt tempted to remove it, but didn't because the show was supposed to continue in fifteen minutes. The stylist left and he remained alone in his chair, scrolling through his feed and smiling at the new signatures for his petition.

Hyungwon didn't know how much time passed when he was turned in his chair, facing the unpleasant grin of the VABD employee who held onto the armrests and hovered over him.

"So, where did you get your information from, refugee boy?"

Hyungwon's eyes widened and he dropped his new phone on his lap, breath remaining stuck in his throat and adrenaline immediately joining the blood in his veins.

He is trying to provoke you, Hyungwon.

"Reliable sources," he replied and didn't allow himself to sink into the seat and thereby admit that he was scared. The first step of not being scared was pretending that he wasn't. "You'll find out soon enough."

"Oh, really?" The tall man asked while leaning closer. "Why don't you just tell me and I'll disregard the fact that you exposed me on national tv? Aren't you a little too pretty for a boy?" A big hand landed on his knee and stroked over it.

Hyungwon's breath hitched and his anxiety broke free from the small cage he had willfully created in his chest, forcing him to crawl back on his seat in an attempt to be further away from the man in front of him.

You can't tell him, you can't tell him that it's the boa.

"Maybe you should have made sure that you had nothing to hide before coming here," he murmured, but his voice sounded only half as confident as he had wanted it to sound. The hand on his thigh returned memories he had tried to ban since arriving in Germany. He didn't need to close his eyes to feel fingers on his thighs and fabric disappearing that was meant to protect him.

You have to stay aware; you can't fade away, Hyungwon. You have somebody to protect.

"Maybe you should've made sure that your informant can protect you when you decided it was a good idea to go against me." The hand travelled higher immediately arriving between his legs. "I like how you shiver." The disgusting warmth attached to his neck before suddenly pulling away along with the hand on his groin.

"You can come out, we're ready," a female voice said.

"Don't think this is over," the low voice hissed at him, breath smelling like cigarettes before he heard steps that subsided after some time.

Hyungwon struggled to breathe, touch remaining on his skin like a layer of mud he wasn't able to wash off. Bile rose in his throat and he barely lifted himself out of his seat, legs giving out and knees bruising on the hard floors.

You can't give in like this, Hyungwon. He's trying to beat you with your fear.

The words in his head hit an iron wall of fear and disgust, fear of being touched and disgusted at being somebody who had enjoyed it before.

That man will be hurt, Hoseok told you that he will be hurt and punished for what he did. Don't give up now.

The feeling was so familiar, the way he forced his slim body off the floor and scratched his nails over his own thighs to get a grip. He still couldn't breathe, but neither could he allow himself to faint. The door blurred in front of his eyes and Hyungwon knew that it was his fear, panic of what could happen next, of the older man with wrinkles around his eyes and stubble on his chin touching him again.

You have to finish this segment, Hyungwon. You promised.

His body burned when he finally forced himself to walk through the door and nod at the woman that was in charge of leading him to his spot on the show. Hyungwon didn't allow himself to meet the self-satisfied eyes, the smug face that told him how triumphant the monster felt after touching him against his will and making him feel like that.

Is not the first time, Hoseok told you.

He tried his best to ignore the other man, to explain his position while arguing for what he knew was right. Hyungwon even repeated his accusation when the moderator asked him for it, nasty laugh of the VABD employee echoing in his head as he spoke. It felt like his words were meaningless, like whatever he said, the man was still going to walk out of here unharmed and with the knowledge that it was okay to touch him and that he could do whatever he wanted with somebody like him.

Like you're not human enough to be kept safe, to deserve having a home and a safe place.

As soon as Hyungwon heard the sign that the show was over, saw the red light above the cameras turn off, he jumped up and ran towards the back with shaking fingers. He barely reached the backstage bathroom before he emptied the contents of his stomach into the bowl, whole body shaking with the effort and chest burning with a few more dry heaves.

You need to run, far away from here.

Salt water burned in his eyes the same way that acid burned on his tongue. Hyungwon wiped toilet paper over his mouth and stumbled out of the stall. He had no time to get rid of the taste in his mouth or to get himself in order.

You have to run before he gets to you.

He was scared, so fucking scared because he knew that there was nothing he could do. This was the real world; nobody would believe him that a successful businessman would touch an 18-year-old boy backstage at a talk show.

They will only think you're trying to ruin his image.

Throwing his backpack over his shoulders, Hyungwon didn't even dare to look into the mirror on his way out. As soon as his eyes settled on the broad form of a man in the hallway, his heart hammered in his ears and numbed his feet, carrying him as far away from the building as he was physically able to. He didn't care where he was running as long as it was far away, crossing streets with traffic lights that were still red and causing drivers and people to scream at him that he was crazy.

Maybe he was crazy, but at least he was safe.

When he began to recognize the buildings around him, Hyungwon slowed down, body simply sinking to the ground and hands bruising on the rough concrete. It hurt but not as much as his chest that still burned with the need for oxygen and the anxiety that froze his blood. He couldn't think about anything apart from the rough hands sliding over his jeans and the superior look on the other man's face, as if he knew that he could do anything he wanted without having to fear consequences for his actions.

You can't go home like this, they'll be able to tell.

He felt helpless again even though he had managed to escape, body exhausted from running and giving in to the desire to just fall down to the ground and finally faint, forget where he was and what was happening to him.

Feeling the cool concrete under his fingertips, Hyungwon rested his head on his forearms and closed his eyes, attempting to calm down his breaths, to convince himself that he was safe and far away.

Fainting here is probably better than having your family see you this way, isn't it?

He smiled at the thought and focused on the burning in his knees and the sensations he felt at this instant instead of the ones that attempted to return to his mind. He felt dirty and disgusting, like a rag used to wipe a grimy floor and thrown away.

You tried to teach yourself that it's okay, but in the end the experiences only repeat, don't they?

That thought was enough to return bile to his throat even though Hyungwon doubted that there was much left in his body. Air remained stuck in his lungs and he struggled to breathe, slowly losing the feeling in his arms. A smile passed over his lips as he observed the sensation of pain and disgust finally leaving him, relief that none of his thoughts were able to stay. Nothing but empty blackness remained.

Blackness was the only escape for his helplessness.

_

 

Hyungwon felt like he had been chewed extensively and spat back out against a wall. His head hurt and his body felt heavier than he remembered it ever being. A careful shift revealed soft sheets and a blanket that he was wrapped in, he was in a bed.

You aren't home.

His most recent memory was the sensation of cold concrete and blissful blackness and Hyungwon couldn't connect it with a soft bed and the scent of medicine.

Fuck, you're at a hospital.

His eyes opened wide and he sat up in a single rough motion, quick enough to result in stabbing pain in his arm. An IV had been carefully attached to the crook of his arm and he had almost ripped it out. A split second passed before he felt warmth against his forehead that pushed him back into the pillow.

"Stay where you are, puppy," a familiar, low voice said calmly and he glanced at the blonde man who sat right next to his hospital bed. The room looked fancier than his apartment and only contained his bed.

Holy shit, he must have paid for it.

"I can't be in the hospital," he murmured and attempted to get up again, but it was in vain. Maybe it was for the best since dizziness caught up with him and he was forced to close his eyes for a few moments and fight his nausea. "What time is it?"

You have to pick up Jimin; you have no time to be lying here.

He also had no time to break down the way he did. It was weak and he couldn't afford such a stupid escape from how dirty he felt.

"Don't worry, Hannah will pick him up. I called her and the kindergarten, it's fine. You stay here like a good boy and get your tasty meds. You can tell me what happened after you feel better. Do you feel ready for food?" Hoseok asked, removing his hand from his forehead and leaning back in his chair.

Do you feel better?

Hyungwon didn't think there was a real way to feel better, the sensation of hands and dirt on his thigh and groin remained and his brain drew colorful scenarios of what could have happened if the woman hadn't interrupted them.

Again, you are forcing Hannah to bear your responsibilities.

"I'm sorry that I'm asking for help again. I should be able to bear this." Inhaling sharply, he covered his face for a few moments and forced himself to get a grip, to be himself and functional just the way he had to be. "I can try to eat."

The older man lifted the phone and ordered food to be brought before turning back to him.

"What is it that you need to bear, Hyungwon? I saw that you weren't okay in the second half, did something happen?" The dark eyes were observing him intently.

The nausea was right back and Hyungwon swallowed to get rid of it. It had been easier to talk about what happened to him before.

But you are still not afraid of him, it has nothing to do with him.

He lifted the blanket and saw he was wearing the same clothes. Hyungwon felt the urge to rip them off and scrub over his skin until the sensation was finally gone, in water hot enough to burn the feeling of filth away.

"I want to change," he whispered and couldn't help the increased frequency of his breaths, adding to the tremble in his hands.

"You want to change? Why? Should I ask for a gown?" The older man didn't wait for a reply and called again, asking for hospital clothes. "You don't need to tell me if you don't want to, I'm not someone you should trust, but I thought that it might be something I could help with."

"You're probably the only person I trust," Hyungwon replied with a chuckle and thought of immediately pulling his shirt over his head until he remembered his IV. "I can't change into a gown, I can't stay for long. I just need to go home and do what I always do. I'll get used to the thought and it'll be just like before. I simply… feel dirty."

"Dirty? Why would you feel…?“ Hoseok started, but quieted down, eyes looking for something in his expression, before widening with some kind of understanding. "Who?" the older man asked right after, knuckles turning white as he fisted his blanket.

Did he… guess?

Hyungwon didn't know how he felt about that, the idea that Hoseok knew made him feel like the same greasy hands were all over his body, there for the blonde man to see and judge. He swallowed and held a hand in front of his mouth, too scared to empty his stomach again.

"I can't breathe," he whispered and squeezed his eyes shut, right hand reaching out until he was able to grasp the bottom of Hoseok's shirt.

"It's… it's fine, you need to keep the IV and eat something first. I think it's better if you stay here for a little longer, I'll make sure to take care of your brother," Hoseok murmured and a warm hand covered his fingers that curled around the fabric, squeezing a little in reassurance. "I'll kill him."

Hyungwon flinched at first even though he didn't mean to. He knew that Hoseok wasn't planning on touching him, not against his will. The older man never did, not the way the man at the talk show had.

"You don't have to take my responsibilities, it's fine. I- I only need a little bit of time and I'll be fine again, I promise. I'm also not scared of you even if it looked like it." He intertwined his fingers with Hoseok's to prove his point, second palm covering both of their hands.

"I won't touch you, Hyungwon, I promise." The older man looked somewhere between worried and scary, mind visibly working on something while the pale hands let go of him gradually until there was no point of contact. "I need to get back to work for a bit, but I'll make sure to help Hannah out with Jimin. The doc said you had a reaction to extreme stress and that you'd be okay to leave in the evening, but you can stay a bit longer if you like. It's paid and you could let go of your responsibilities for a bit." A shy smile spread Hoseok's curved lips before the usual expression of calmness and cold rationality returned to the handsome face.

Hyungwon smiled and missed the contact a little, it was the most pleasant experience he’d had all day.

"I thought you saw what happens when I let go of my responsibilities," he murmured and pulled the IV out of his arm, gritting his teeth in pain and pressing down against the spot. "I'll go mad if I stay here because I won't be able to think about anything else aside from that man's hands. I don't want to think about them, it makes me want to vomit."

"Do you want me to take you home? Or is there a place you would like to go?" Hoseok made another call, probably annoying the shit out of the employees. "I'll take care of him; let's see what he'll be able to do with his hands when I'm done."

"He won't understand. I could see it in his eyes. He doesn't know what consequences are, Hoseok." Hyungwon closed his eyes and massaged his temples, struggling to calm down the returning anxiety only because he dared to remember. "I can't go home; they'll see that I'm not fine."

"Do you want to…come with me? I won't touch you, I promise." Hoseok caught his gaze and kept it for a long time. "I can also ask Hannah, but she's busy with Jimin and she lives on the other side of the city."

"I want to come with you, you're safe," Hyungwon answered even before he finished understanding the second option. He knew that he was better off with Hoseok, he felt at ease around the other man, like there was nothing he was forced to do with the exception of not snooping around. Even if the blonde man wanted him to be scared, he wasn't, simply because he had never done anything worth being scared of. "Please."

The blonde man listened to his words and nodded, before standing up and walking towards the door. "I would argue, but it's not the right moment, so let's go. I'll go pay and get the documents."

"I must be such a monetary hazard." Hyungwon pursed his lips but didn't say anything else, perfectly aware that whatever argument Hoseok had for spending so much money on him didn't justify his efforts. "Thank you."

There was only a little bit of blood on his arm and he wiped it away nonchalantly before lowering the sleeve of his shirt.

You are still escaping your responsibilities, but you are using him as an excuse.

The door opened and the blonde man walked in, holding a pile of documents in his hand. He looked so strong and invincible with his broad build and radiating calmness, almost like a boa. Coming closer, Hoseok checked his belongings and gestured for him to come along.

"Are you sure that you want to come with me?" he asked quietly before they walked through the door, searching for something in his expression that he didn't seem to find.

"Yes," he replied and ruffled up his curls in an attempt to look like himself. He hated how it felt to be in his skin after somebody decided to treat him as if he was worthless. Hoseok made him feel different and the mere knowledge made him want to be with the older man instead.

There was no confirmation and no sound, only the heavy presence of the boa, its soundless strength and implicit care that one could feel simply by coming close enough.

Hyungwon wished he could erase all the memories in his head, all the times that hands stroked over his skin without his explicit permission or desire. He wished he could erase them all and replace them with the older man instead, have a familiar and warm embrace or a pale thumb that stroked over his cheek and brushed a strand of his hair behind his ear. Hyungwon felt so many things when he was next to Hoseok and none of them was disgust. Even now, there was a familiar warmth in his chest as he moved towards Hoseok and carefully curled his hands around the older man's arm.

"Let's go," he murmured and rested his head against the strong shoulder for a brief moment before straightening his back. There was no need to think about the reason for feeling so at ease next to the boa that threatened to hurt him, Hyungwon knew.

Because he is the only one who really cares about you.

 

 

Chapter Text

He knew that something was off as soon as he saw puppy sinking into his chair in the second half of the talk show, not daring to lift his gaze and only replying after being addressed by his name. He knew that something must have happened, but he didn’t know what it was. Only after he was called by the hospital and saw the terrified look in the boy's eyes, the jerk in his hands when he tried to touch him in reassurance, only then did he understand that it must have been Mark. The person he wanted to get rid of so many times, but only stopped because his father asked him to wait. His fingers itched and he played nervously with his phone, anxious to take out all the pent up anger he had collected to release it in the most efficient way and break his neck.

Along with his filthy fucking hands.

Hoseok was angry but tried not to show it, especially to the black-haired boy who walked up the stairs behind him. Hyungwon should have stayed at the hospital after fainting and hitting his head, but insisted on coming with him because he was safe.

You aren't safe, not at all, but you won't touch him.

"Would you mind making two cups of coffee while I make a call?" he asked after they arrived upstairs and puppy took off his new sneakers that Hoseok had bought him. Suddenly, Hoseok remembered how Hyungwon said that he wanted different clothes because his own made him vomit. "Would you… like to change first? You can take something from my wardrobe if you like."

"Can I… take a shower?" The boy looked hesitant and rubbed over his forearms even though it wasn't cold, not anymore. "I'd like to shower and change, but I can also make you a coffee first. It's distracting and I'm good at it." A smile lifted the corners of Hyungwon's plump mouth.

"No, please shower, but warm this time," he murmured back and gestured towards the shower. "Ah, and the door doesn't have a lock because I broke it last time." Playing with his phone nervously, he repeated the same phone number in his head until the boy disappeared in the bathroom. As soon as he was sure that Hyungwon was showering, he finally allowed himself to dial and pressed the device against his ear until he heard the familiar low voice.

"I'm going to take him down," he said without beating around the bush.

"Who? What are you talking about, Hoseok? Who will you take down? You haven't called for ages, what's with the sudden threat?" his father asked, sounding nervous.

"Mark. I'm taking him down and I thought I would warn you beforehand. Don't make any plans with him." Hoseok wanted to hang up, but was interrupted by his father's sudden 'no'.

What does he mean by no?

"No? It wasn't a question. It was a fact; I'm going to take him down."

"You can't because I need him for a strategic project. Your personal case needs to wait. You are forgetting that you still work for me, Hoseok." The words that his father's low voice pronounced didn't make any sense to him. It was ridiculous.

He doesn't understand.

"You forget that I don't work for anybody," he whispered and hung up, breathing heavily and thinking about a good strategy.

He heard quiet steps, and saw a tall figure dressed in his fluffy bathrobe, wet curls hanging into the big eyes. A puppy.

"Now you really look like a puppy. You can choose something if you like."

"It'll probably be too big for me," Hyungwon murmured and wrapped the bathrobe tighter around himself, a few black curls hanging into his eyes. He looked pretty with the pink color on his face that emphasized his golden skin.

"I know. But you can try. I don't have any clothes in your size. I might have bought some, but I gave them all to you." He put his phone on the desk and opened his wardrobe. He went through all the options and decided that underwear should be first. "You have no ass, but they're stretchable, so you can wear them. Let me look for the rest." Hoseok slapped a pair of freshly washed underwear against the boy's chest.

"I have an ass," puppy grumbled and pouted his lips as he accepted the trunks. "Only because it doesn't look like a peach, like yours, doesn't mean that I don't have one."

He doesn't have one.

Hyungwon turned around and untied the bathrobe, letting it fall down his broad shoulders and pool at his feet, covering the thin white scars on his feet with fabric. The boy looked gorgeous naked, golden skin that was only irregularly interrupted by scars and created a beautiful contrast with his black curls. There was no hesitation as Hyungwon grabbed the trunks and pulled them over his behind, turning around as soon as his groin was covered.

"They are okay," he muttered and pulled at the waistband.

"Yeah. Okay is what they are. Do you want to wear sweatpants or jeans? They might be a little too short and definitely loose on your thighs. Here's a shirt, it's too small for me." Hoseok threw the clothing on his bed, remembering that he promised not to touch the younger man.

He’d probably had enough for the next two years.

"I'm fine like this too; you don't need to cover me whole." The black-haired boy grinned a little and pulled the shirt over his head. It was the perfect length, but a little too wide on his hips and waist. His arms also drowned in the broadness of the fabric. Hoseok couldn't remember the last time he saw anybody wear his clothes.

Hannah, when you were little.

"You want to run around in underwear and a shirt? Fine, but only if you don't wear socks." Hoseok smiled and put the pants back into his wardrobe, turning around and closing the door with his ass. "What would… would you like to do?" he murmured, struggling with a topic that did not remind Hyungwon of his experiences with Mark, that trash human.

You wanted to break his arms. So many times.

"I like it when you look at me, so I can just as well run around in a shirt. I don't really have scars on my legs, so I dare say they look nice." Hyungwon winked and sat down on the edge of his bed, color painting his cheeks after the fake display of confidence. "I would like for you to tell me what happens now. I've been to the talk show, but I don't know if people will believe me after this."

Your goals. You completely forgot about having them in the first place.

Something about his thoughts made him angry, but he couldn't pinpoint what it was. Shaking his head briefly, Hoseok stepped a bit closer and crossed his arms in front of his chest.

"You will get more opportunities; I’ve already called the press, don't worry. Concerning Mark… I'll take care of him, I'm not sure about the detailed strategy yet, but I will. Right now, I only want to break his arms, but it's not a thought through course of action, so I probably shouldn't do it. Would you like tea? It sounds uncool but I can make a really nice cup of tea."

Hyungwon stared at him for a few moments until he started laughing, brown eyes peeking out under his curly bangs and long arms wrapped around his waist.

"That sounds good, I like tea. My… my mom was really good at mixing different types of leaves to make the perfect taste combination," the boy replied and got quieter towards the end, big hands stroking along slim thighs. "Who- who is Mark?"

"The guy from today. His name is Mark. What is your favorite memory of your mom?" Hoseok decided not to bring too much attention to the disgusting asshole and gestured towards the kitchen. "I learned to drink tea on my trip. I'll make you a delicious one. How is your head?"

The switch in topic must have been a lifesaver as the boy froze in place and only relaxed when Hoseok asked about his wellbeing.

"I'm okay; my head wasn't hurt in the first place. I guess I was mostly dehydrated because I emptied the contents of my stomach several times." The black-haired boy smiled but it didn't really match his words, it must have been a protection mechanism, making it seem less bad then it was. "My mom- she always mixed white pomegranate tea with coconut green tea. It was my favorite."

"I hope you understand that I in no way will be able to come even close to your mom when it comes to tea, but I'll try my best. You must've felt like shit. Is it still bad? Do you want to lie down? You have to tell me what you need, I have no idea." Sighing, he took out the green tea from the shelf over his stove and turned on the kettle.

Hyungwon moved towards the same spot on the counter that he always sat on and pulled his skinny body on top of it, hands still hugging his waist as the black-haired boy observed him preparing the tea. Hyungwon didn't say anything for several long seconds and merely licked over his lips.

"I don't know, a hug?" the low voice muttered and chuckled to himself.

A hug?

The words shocked him and he turned around, staring right into the younger man's big brown eyes.

"A hug? I thought you don't want to be touched."

"You're- god, I know this sounds stupid now, but I mean it." The boy loosened his embrace around himself and placed his big palms on his naked thighs, observing Hoseok intently. "You're different."

"I'm different? How am I different? I'm a guy with some power who uses it to get what he wants. I don't think it makes me different," he murmured, scratching over the surface of the kitchen counter, to distract himself from Hyungwon's words.

"That's what you think, but you are different to me. Never mind, just- just make that tea I guess." The slim body shifted on top of the counter and he could see a little more blush on Hyungwon's face as he attempted to hide it by turning towards the kitchen door, naked legs dangling down.

You asked him what he needs and he said that he needs a hug.

He moved away from the counter and stepped closer, observing Hyungwon's face intently. It looked healthy. A pink blush covered the puffy cheeks and complimented the boy's golden skin. His big hands curled around the edge of the counter, right next to his bare thighs.

"Come here," he said, uncrossing his arms and stopping right in front of the black-haired boy.

Hyungwon's eyes widened and he turned back to look at him, examining his face intently as if he was waiting for something to tell him what Hoseok was planning. He didn't know whether the boy had found it as he carefully slipped forward on the counter, t-shirt riding up on his underwear from the motion and revealing his flat stomach for a brief moment.

"And now?" the low voice whispered as teeth settled on those luscious lips.

You should control your thoughts better.

Hoseok licked his lips and smiled briefly, spreading his arms wider.

"Your hug?"

Surprise painted Hyungwon's pretty face before he caught himself and smiled at him. Long arms wrapped around Hoseok's neck and pulled him closer, curly hair tickling the skin of his shoulders while the boy's naked legs wrapped around his hips.

He's taking it all.

Hoseok let the feeling of Hyungwon's body wrapped around him sink in for a few seconds, before reaching out himself, extremely aware of how important it must have been for puppy, how meaningful it was to bare himself like that even though he had a terrible experience just a few hours ago. His touch was light when he reached out for the boy's waist, stroking along his sides carefully, always aware of his facial expressions and body posture. When it seemed okay, Hoseok finally curled an arm around the slim middle and placed his other hand on Hyungwon's hair, stroking over it regularly. "Is it okay like this?"

"It's perfect," the boy whispered against his shoulder and embraced him tighter. Hyungwon was inhaling his scent instead of pure air and leaned into his touch. At first, there was urgency in the contact, as if the boy wrapped around him with all his strength and was afraid to let go, but as soon as Hoseok hugged back the urgency faded and made room for calm.

"I'm glad," he whispered back and continued stroking over Hyungwon's curls, carefully raking through them. "Are you feeling better now?"

"Yeah, but don't move away," the boy murmured and pulled him close enough to feel the edge of the counter against his thighs. Hyungwon's legs were tightly wrapped around him and long fingers played with the strands of his hair.

"Why? Isn't it painful to be touched? I mean- I've never experienced being touched against my will, but I can imagine not wanting to be touched ever again." Hoseok leaned back to catch the boy's gaze, trying to find a hint of what he was thinking.

"But you're the one who changed my mind before, can't you change it again?" Hyungwon lifted his head from his shoulder and smiled at him, long fingers stroking over his cheek and following the outline of his lips. "I was scared and didn't know what to do to make it stop, but you're not like that. That's what you’ve shown me during all this time. Maybe you want to hurt me, but not in that way. You even showed me how tender one can be."

The handsome boy lifted his second hand to his face, cupping it as he leaned in and kissed his lips. The touch was brief and warm, but it lingered when Hyungwon leaned back and met his gaze. It felt so pleasant, the brief touch and the softness of the boy's lips that enveloped his.

"Do you want to kiss me?" he asked and reached for Hyungwon's thick lips, brushing over them with his thumb and enjoying the way the soft tissue gave out under the lightest pressure. "You look so soft, I can't imagine anybody wanting to hurt you physically, but maybe it's just me."

Aren't you a hypocrite, telling him that you wouldn't hurt him?

But Hoseok never tried to hurt people without a reason. Usually he took the things they did and exposed them in the most effective way. With Hyungwon he…

You hesitated.

"I do," Hyungwon admitted and covered his hand with his own big palm as he leaned in and brushed his plump lips over his. "I don't think he wanted to hurt me, only take something that isn't his to have."

The gesture was intimate and warmed his body and chest in addition to a wave of heat to his lips. The boy smiled and stayed close, observing his expressions intently as he caressed his cheek and neck while making sure Hoseok kept his on the round face.

"He does it to assert dominance, making himself appear stronger. I did that too, trying to scare you, but for some reason it doesn't seem to work well," he whispered, sliding his tongue over the surface of his lips, wondering how Hyungwon's soft mouth tasted. He couldn't remember.

"It worked when I believed you. You cannot assert dominance with empty threats, Hoseok." The pretty smile remained on the black-haired boy's face as he moved his long legs a little higher around his hips and leaned back, forcing Hoseok to lean over him. "Kiss me."

"I hope you are preparing your case well," he whispered, before going for Hyungwon's plump lips, sucking them into his mouth and nibbling on them. He tasted delicious.

"Do you need it to be ready to kiss me?" the low voice mumbled into the kiss, but the handsome boy didn't seem to expect an answer, needily returning the kiss and playing with Hoseok's hair. One of Hyungwon's legs slid upwards and stroked along his side and hip. The motion moved up his shirt and allowed him to feel the warm, naked skin against his own.

"I guess we can kiss, if that's what makes you feel good." Hoseok wrapped his right arm around the boy's waist, pulling him closer while ravishing his mouth and travelling down to his neck. Hyungwon smelled like cherries and a fresh bath and he couldn't keep himself from tasting more and wanting more.

"The question is…" Hyungwon curled a blonde strand around his index finger and used it to pull as he hummed instead of talking because Hoseok covered his lips with his own again. "The question is: do you want to kiss me too?"

"How could the boa not want to get a taste of the puppy? It doesn't make sense, does it?" Chuckling, he finally parted Hyungwon's lips with the tip of his tongue and pulled the boy from the counter, holding onto his thighs to keep him in place.

A loud gasp left the luscious lips and Hyungwon held on tightly and laughed, smile obvious when their mouths met again.

"The boa keeps talking about wanting a taste, but rarely gets to it. What if the puppy gets hungry from all that waiting?" Licking over the corners of his mouth, the boy leaned in and bit into the soft skin of his neck, not enough to break it but sufficient to create a painful spark that needed to be soothed with the boy's hot tongue right after.

"So, do you want to be tasted, or do you want to bite back?" Hoseok asked, pushing Hyungwon into the closest wall while accidentally turning off the light switch and covering them in darkness.

"I want to taste you," the boy whispered and leaned in to suck Hoseok's bottom lip into his mouth, nibbling on it before he let go and let his right hand roam over his chest. "See the boa with parted lips and shaky breaths."

But why would you allow him to see it?

He remembered the new strategy he came up with during the time puppy was showering, giving him a few more opportunities to act.

"Why? Why are you so interested in me? Why don't you just take my touch and leave? I don't know what you want, so I don't think I can show you the boa with parted lips and shaky breaths. I can give you the boa visibly liking how you taste, liking how you react to it being close and wrapping around your body."

"You keep thinking that I will leave after having you touch me, but haven't you realized that you're wrong? I have no intentions of not seeing you or staying away from you. I like being with you, Hoseok." Another gasp left Hyungwon's full lips and he wrapped his slim arms around his neck, so that their faces were perfectly aligned. "Let me taste you. You already told me that I'm not threatening, so why not let me close? You showed me once, but I want more, to be the one to act."

He can wish for many things, but the ending is always the same.

"You want to touch me? Feel free, but don't think that it'll get you any closer," he whispered and carried the gorgeous black-haired man into his bedroom, letting himself fall on top of the sheets. He moved up until his head settled on the freshly washed pillow. He took Hyungwon along until he had the slim body hovering over him and the black curly hair tickling his nose.

The boy was chewing on his cheek, obviously thinking about his words as long fingers carefully stroked along his stomach and sides, uncovering his chest by removing the fabric.

"Why is getting closer so terrible?" Hyungwon asked and leaned in to kiss a path from Hoseok's navel to his chest, pink tongue licking over his right nipple tentatively.

"It's not about judgement. It is what it is. You being here and touching me will not change anything and I want you to be aware of that. However…" Hoseok stopped in the middle of the sentence and sank the fingers of his right hand into the black curls, pulling carefully to return the boy's attention. "You are intriguing."

You are mesmerized by his strength.

"I should be the scared one, but here I want to see your face switch the way it did in the forest." Hyungwon grinned and covered his nipple with his thick lips, sucking at it while his fingers continued to stroke along his muscular abdomen and ribs. Travelling lower, the boy dipped his tongue into his navel and licked along his waistband, glancing up at him to make sure it was fine. Hyungwon looked a little nervous, but the curiosity and healthy blush outweighed his insecurities. "Can I… really taste you?"

"Okay, just to make sure, you're asking whether you can take me into your mouth, right. Because last time I talked about tasting I suggested that there are two types." He lifted up on his elbows and tilted his head, watching Hyungwon's confused expression.

"Well, yeah," the boy murmured, not meeting his gaze because he was obviously embarrassed, pink color intensifying and even reaching the tips of his ears. Hyungwon's fingers were playing with his zipper at this point and cupping his clothed erection. His big hands were perfect for touching him, toying with his pants and stroking over his waistband in a teasing manner. Hoseok doubted that Hyungwon was aware. Instead, the younger man must have learned from him, easily repeating what he had seen.

"You're adorable, puppy," Hoseok whispered, messing up the boy's black curls before twitching against his big palm on purpose, imagining how good those thick lips would feel around him.

Hyungwon bit down on his bottom lip and Hoseok loved how suggestive it looked as the boy glanced up, eyes partially covered by his pretty, black hair. The blush remained as the boy applied more pressure with his palm and rubbed along his groin. Adding a kiss to the zipper for good measure, long fingers opened the button, plump lips following the outline of his erection through his trunks, littering it with kisses. Glancing up briefly, Hyungwon licked along the whole length once, still with the tight black fabric in the way.

"Your eyes look like I'm not only adorable," the low voice whispered as puppy lifted the waistband away from his skin and gave his dick some room to breathe, lips closing around its base through the trunks and sucking briefly. The experimenting was going better than Hoseok would have expected.

"You're attractive. Very attractive. Quite fitting to the boa's taste if you ask me," Hoseok commented between the hisses that kept escaping his lips at Hyungwon's ministrations. "You learn quickly, but there are so many things you don't know yet. I'm still of the opinion that you should get someone nice to experiment with."

Preferably someone who is more likely to stay.

"You are also somebody who held his abilities on a pedestal. Maybe not these abilities…" Hyungwon licked along his clothed length again and finally pulled his trunks down, leaving them in the middle of his thighs while he bit down on the skin of his inner thigh and licked a path to his groin. "But all other abilities. Shouldn't I learn from the best, Hoseok?"

What is he even talking about?

Hoseok had no idea, but it was hard to think rationally while those luscious lips travelled along his thighs towards his erection that had almost reached its final size.

"You should learn and explore together with someone who will stay," he whispered before moaning at the tender bites and grabbing a few of the younger man's black curls, pulling just enough to get a breathy whimper in return.

"You seem so sure that you will leave," Hyungwon murmured, but didn't elaborate further. "I prefer to learn from people that know what they are doing. You've taught me so much already, you might just as well teach me more."

He's still hoping, isn't he?

A smile played around the corners of Hyungwon's lips as he finally reached the point where Hoseok wanted him the most, obviously encouraged by the fact that his body reacted to the touches. Pulling his pants and trunks further down his legs, Hyungwon reached for the base of his erection and lifted it up to exhale against the wet tip, following up with a careful lick of his tongue.

Hoseok moaned and combined it with a pull on the boy's hair, attempting to keep his hips still and leave puppy the opportunity to determine the pace.

"I thought about how your lips would feel around me."

"Did you?" Hyungwon asked and closed his lips around the tip of his dick, sucking intently and observing his face in the meantime. Letting go, he gave it a few strokes and attached his mouth to the transition between head and shaft next, sucking and licking over it. "Is it similar to the way you imagined it?"

"Mhm, better. It's better," he hissed, after a low moan. "Make sure to be careful and don't take too much, you won't be able to breathe," Hoseok added with a bright smile that was interrupted by another moan.

Hyungwon nodded like a good puppy that he was and returned his attention to Hoseok's throbbing erection, closing his lips around the tip again and sucking his way down while his tongue remained in motion, rubbing over his length repeatedly. Holding his breath, the handsome boy attempted to take more into his mouth, getting about halfway until he sucked his way back up and rubbed his tongue over his slit before exhaling against the tip.

"Would you lead me?" puppy asked and stroked over Hoseok's hand that was still buried in his hair, tongue lapping at the tip briefly.

"You are insane for trusting me like this, puppy. Don't you want to decide the pace?" Hoseok lifted up on his elbows again and watched the boy slide his tip along his swollen lips tentatively. Fuck. Here he was, parted lips and shaky breaths, just like Hyungwon wanted.

"But I can only repeat what I’ve learned; I cannot know when to increase the pace or how you like it. It'll be easier for me if you lead me and I trust you because you earned it." The boy was kneeling between his thighs, naked legs mostly stretched out and shirt partially sliding off one shoulder. Hyungwon was gorgeous as he looked up at him again and dipped his tongue into his slit, eyes dark and only darkening further as Hoseok moaned from the sensation.

"Fine, then come here," he hissed and tightened his grip in the boy's hair while propping on one elbow to see well. "How much of me can you take? I need to know to pay attention and not go too far."

"Let me try," the black-haired boy murmured, licking over his lips nervously until he shifted between Hoseok's legs and attempted to take as much of him as possible. The longer he observed the pretty boy, the more obvious it was that Hyungwon had a big mouth, plump lips easily sliding down his length and only struggling with the last two centimeters.

"I think I'll be fine with some practice." Puppy wiped over his mouth with the back of his hand and glanced to the side, obviously embarrassed.

"You're insane," he muttered, trying to process what he had seen just now. "You're insane, but I like it." Pulling himself up until his back settled against the backrest, he curled his right hand around his dick and beckoned puppy over with his left index finger.

The black-haired boy swallowed and moved closer, wetting his lips again with a quick motion of his tongue. His hands rested on his mostly naked thighs and he really looked like a puppy with his curly hair and big eyes, waiting for instructions.

Hoseok tilted his head and smiled briefly. "I thought you wanted me to fuck your mouth, baby, why are you sitting and looking at me like that? Or did you change your mind?"

"No," Hyungwon replied, obviously faster than his brain was able to process it. He looked embarrassed by Hoseok's way of putting it, but hid it with even more fake bravado. Leaning in, the boy pressed a quick kiss to his lips and reached for his right hand, which he placed on top of his curly head. Dark eyes observed him intently as puppy positioned himself between his legs and parted his lips, cheeks a vibrant red.

He's so attractive.

Hyungwon was gorgeous and he couldn't wait to feel those gorgeous lips tightening around him.

"How can you be so pretty, puppy? Fuck." He moved his tip over the boy's thick bottom lip before pushing it into the hot mouth. A loud moan parted his lips and he tightened his grip on Hyungwon's black locks. "You feel so good, babe, just like that."

The handsome boy hummed and didn't stop as soon as he realized how Hoseok's thighs contracted from the sensation and he moaned again. Hyungwon's hands were on top of his thighs, fingers spread and applying pressure as he obediently followed the pull on his hair. His thick lips were tight around his dick and the boy didn't skip out on using his tongue, swirling it around his tip.

The sight was such a turn on that he felt his lower stomach contract and twitched inside Hyungwon's warm mouth. He pushed himself further, moaning with his mouth open and throwing his head back. It felt so incredibly good.

"A little more and you'll have me. Should I pull you off when I orgasm?" he asked between the moans and light pulls on the boy's hair.

Hyungwon lifted his head until only the tip was in his mouth and glanced up.

"What feels better?" he murmured and tongued the slit, eyes a pitch black color. Hoseok's reaction must have aroused him, enough to show the signs on his pretty face and blush along his neck and uncovered collarbones.

"It feels better when I come down your throat, but you need to get a kick from it to enjoy it, I don't know if you're the type." Hoseok licked over his lips while struggling to breathe from holding the air in his lungs for too long. "God, you look so good, I'd eat you like ice cream."

"Only one way to find out," Hyungwon whispered against the sensitive skin of his head with a smile and sank back down, taking him whole. The boy's left hand immediately covered his to emphasize that puppy wanted him to take over again. The boy learned so fast, rubbing the transition between tip and shaft as he waited for Hoseok to catch himself. The whole situation was so arousing that he only needed a few practiced movements to groan loudly and release himself down puppy's warm throat. He paid attention to not be too rough and pulled the boy off as soon as he could think.

"Fucking hell," he whispered completely out of breath.

Hyungwon lifted his gaze to meet his, swallowing a few times for good measure and licked over his lips. The younger man looked gorgeous, face flushed, lips swollen from taking him and shirt still only covering one shoulder. Hoseok didn't need to look between the boy's legs to know that he was aroused, it was clear as day on his face.

There was no hesitation, as Hyungwon leaned down again to press a kiss to his tip as a finish, fingers dancing upwards along his length once until he let go.

"You're beautiful," puppy whispered, voice rough.

"So are you," he murmured, a little overwhelmed by the sudden compliment. It felt strange because he would let go and wasn’t being very aware. "What are you into, puppy?" he asked, pulling the boy on top of him and feeling his arousal against his stomach.

Hyungwon laughed. "I don't know. I have never done any of this before, Hoseok. I'm merely doing what you showed me. But-" The boy chewed on his cheek and let his hand dance over Hoseok's groin again. "But I enjoyed it all. I wouldn't have thought that I would, but- it's pretty obvious."

"Hmm, you haven't played with yourself? Like- at all?" Hoseok struggled to believe that puppy wasn't only a virgin, but also completely inexperienced when it came to pleasure.

"Of course I have." The boy hid his face in the crook of his neck and Hoseok didn't need to look to know he was embarrassed again. "I doubt there is a boy in this world that hasn't touched himself."

"Just tell me what you did and I'll think about something nice," Hoseok whispered into the curled ear and chuckled. It was somehow ridiculous that he was lying around and trying to teach an 18-year-old about pleasure instead of achieving his previously set goals.

"What I did? Well- the usual, I touched myself. God, what else would I do?" Hyungwon lifted his head again, leaning over him and pursed his lips. The shift of the slim body on top of him resulted in stimulation of the boy's groin and elicited a breathtaking moan, directed right in his face. Hyungwon's eyes widened in response, but he didn't apologize.

"What else? Literally everything else that's fun apart from touching your dick? But fine, I can blow you, if you like." Hoseok pushed the boy's lower back down and rolled his hips, giving Hyungwon some more stimulation.

The following groan was gorgeous as Hyungwon fell forward and closed his lips around his collarbone, whimpering softly.

"Fuck, I'm- I'm really sensitive after having you in my mouth," the black-haired boy muttered and shook his head right after. "Teach me more, Hoseok."

God, this is not some kind of straight boy seduction.

"I could see that you liked it, but I have no idea whether you like the rest. I usually top, but I do use plugs if I'm in the mood, it feels nice. You never tried touching yourself apart from masturbating?" Another roll of his hips followed and he caught the pretty moan with his mouth." I don't want to be invasive, it's easier if you have already experimented. I don't want to do anything you might not like. Is this a good moment to come back to my suggestion to get someone nice to experiment with?"

"Fuck you," Hyungwon muttered and sat down on top of him, small butt right on top of his spent dick. "I usually have exactly five minutes until the water runs cold in the shower. I can't do much. Can't you just…" The black-haired boy wet his swollen lips once more and leaned down, exhaling against his mouth, "... eat me like ice cream?"

You'd love to.

He lifted an eyebrow at the comment and nodded with a smirk on his lips. "I can, you definitely look like a nice flavor." Licking over his lips, he stroked over the outline of Hyungwon's erection, rubbing over the wet spot on his underwear. "Do you have an idea what I meant when I said that I would eat you like an ice cream, puppy?"

"No, but I still want it." There was more confidence in the boy's voice despite the immediate moan and reduction in muscle tension. He was so sensitive, giving in to Hoseok's touch as if he was meant for it, full lips gasping against the skin of his neck. "I trust you, you're different."

Here he goes again.

"Oh, am I? Let's not beat around the bush, puppy. The boa wants to push its tongue inside you and make you feel ecstatic. Of course I could also finger you and take you into my mouth at the same time, but I don't know if you like the slide." His gaze didn't leave the boy's face, observing how pale he suddenly became." So after that being said, should I introduce you to some of Hannah's friends? They're super cute and nice. Exactly your style."

"No," the boy whispered even though his face remained pale and his fingers shook until he curled them into fists. "I don't care about cute, that's- that's not it." Hyungwon visibly struggled as he crawled a little closer on top of his lap and wrapped his arms around his neck carefully, noses brushing. "It's just… somebody put something inside me before, a device and- it hurt."

Damn it.

"Okay, listen, Hyungwon. Screw it. Let's not do any of it and I'll simply make you feel good, okay? I won't hurt you. Deal?" He cupped the boy's small face with both palms and placed a kiss against his forehead before pulling up his underwear and pants.

"I'm sorry, you told me not to share last time, but I don't know how else to explain it. I never actually told anybody." Hyungwon swallowed and moved towards his kisses, big eyes remaining closed as the boy's lean thighs tightened around him. "You make it okay somehow."

"I might be the boa and you should not be around me, but I never create pain for people that isn't a consequence of their behavior. I don't want to hurt you and I meant that it's hard for me if I know too much about you, but it's too late anyway, the wound will bleed, so the amount won't matter anymore, I guess." Stroking over the black curls, Hoseok kissed the boy's round nose and lips before leaning back to catch the look in his big eyes. "Would you like me to make you feel good?"

Hyungwon leaned into his touch and nodded, plump lips placing a wet kiss to his mouth.

"You're the first person that I want to touch and be touched by. I really like you, Hoseok, even if you don't want me to. I don't care that you are the boa, you are also Hoseok." The boy was smiling as he tightened his embrace and kissed his lips again, eyes fluttering shut.

Why is he like this?

"Don't," he murmured and crawled down, escaping Hyungwon's embrace and pulling the black shirt over the boy's head to attach his lips to the small nipples. The words still echoed in his head and made his heart skip a beat, making him uncomfortable. He wanted to stop it, to please Hyungwon and make him moan instead of listening to his authentic confessions. It was so much easier.

You need to give him something positive, a memory of how it can be.

"Let me give you the intimacy that you deserve," he whispered.

 

***

 

Sometimes Hyungwon couldn't understand himself. He struggled to follow his own thoughts and the way they quickly transitioned from fear and the desire to run away, to intimacy and his undying yearning for the older man's arms around his body and curved lips against his. He understood that his fascination with Hoseok was unusual, but it was simply how he felt.

It's different from what you know, but isn't that a good thing?

He would have been dead by now if he hadn't been able to adapt to his surroundings, to deal with terrible experiences and clench his teeth to live through it.

The older man's words could have been considered such an experience, the way he emphasized that Hyungwon had already been hurt, that there was a wound that he couldn't close anymore.

He's convinced that you are going to bleed.

The images inside his head were painful to recall. He had many of them, of his own body hurt and bleeding, but none of them were similar to the way he felt next to Hoseok. It wasn't applicable and Hyungwon couldn't imagine that the blonde man was going to break him that way.

He means the mental, but you only know the physical.

It didn't fit the image inside his head, the loud moans and uncontrollable body motions, the way Hoseok thrust up but tried not to, the rough tugs on his hair that sent sparks to his groin. Hyungwon was thankful that the older man couldn't tell he felt that way, that he couldn't see how his body burned from the experience of Hoseok's pleasure alone, the knowledge that he was making the gorgeous man feel that way.

You never wanted to touch anybody this bad, but he makes you wish for nothing else.

Hyungwon really liked the man below him, the curved lips that smiled at him and the black eyes that hid so many secrets, many more than the fact that Hoseok was the boa. Knowing the boa was only the tip of the iceberg, he knew that.

That's why you need to give him something else to discover, something that allows you to stay next to him.

It was so easy to confess his feelings to Hoseok, be it his fear of pain the way he had experienced it before or his genuine feelings. Hyungwon cared about him and no matter what was hiding below the pale skin, whether it was a boa or not. The person below it all was still Hoseok.

"Don't," the blonde man murmured but didn't elaborate, pulling his shirt over his head and immediately blurring his senses by stimulating his nipples. Hyungwon moaned, unable to question what exactly it was that Hoseok wanted him to stop, but his voice gave up on him, merely releasing moans and gasps.

He could feel the frequent breaths and strong thumps of the older man's heartbeat as he leaned over him and whispered into his ear, telling him that he was going to give him the intimacy that he deserved.

It's what you asked him for, for him to finally take your fear.

Hyungwon gulped down empty air, overwhelmed that Hoseok was willing to give him that, that the older man believed him to be deserving of more than had happened to him. A few months ago Hyungwon wouldn't have cared, he'd run just to escape the discomfort and fear. Now he only wanted to wrap his body around the blonde man's muscular torso and forget himself, to share the intimacy he enjoyed so much.

"Please," he whispered and kissed those lips he saw whenever he closed his eyes.

Hoseok travelled lower and littered his body with kisses that kept their warmth even after the touch has already passed. Every single lick of the older man's hot tongue translated into a burning in his groin that turned into a fire as soon as the pale hands removed his underwear.

"Put your legs on my shoulders. I will kiss you first," the low voice whispered from between his legs, stroking over his inner thighs and blowing air against his leaking tip.

Hyungwon nodded despite the urgency in his groin. He loved kissing the older man; it was intimate and resulted in warmth within his chest. The instruction was a little embarrassing, but he’d had his legs over Hoseok's shoulders before, so he shifted slightly and lifted his right leg over the muscular shoulder first before he repeated it with the left one. He was tall, but compared to the broad, blonde man, he seemed too slim, calves taking up little space on top of Hoseok's shoulders.

"Please kiss me," he whispered and rested his back on the soft sheets, hands reaching out to cup Hoseok's face. "I feel like my insides melt when you do."

"I will kiss you everywhere, you fool. This sounds cheesy, but I'm going to kiss you where nobody has probably kissed you before." Hoseok leaned in to place a soft kiss on his lips briefly, bending him in half, before leaning back with a smile and leaving his lower body in the air. Licking over his curved lips, the blonde man started littering his inner thighs and groin with kisses, travelling lower and past his balls.

"Oh god," Hyungwon muttered when he finally understood what Hoseok was getting at and barely resisted pulling his legs together. It didn't make much of a difference since his calves were arranged over Hoseok's shoulders, but he attempted anyway, embarrassed that the blonde man was willing to kiss him all over. "Aren't you… disgusted?"

"More aroused than anything else, but I'm willing to stop if you feel uncomfortable, so please tell me if you don't like it, okay?" The darkness and intensity in the familiar eyes didn't fit to the softness of Hoseok's words and the gentle actions. It was so different from the affectionate gaze in combination with the older man's rough exhales that hit his sensitive skin.

He must really like touching you this way.

Hyungwon struggled to imagine it. He opened his eyes wider to not be forced to think of it and focused on Hoseok's hands on his body and the air that brushed over his skin.

"I'll tell you," he whispered and curled his hands into the sheets, unsure what to expect.

Hoseok nodded briefly and continued travelling lower with his warm mouth and bending him further in the process. Strong arms wrapped around his hips and there was warm air that hit his crack before he felt soft lips kissing it carefully.

Hyungwon's eyes widened and for a brief moment, he felt panic rise from the depths of his sub consciousness. His brain successfully noted that he was stark naked whereas Hoseok was dressed, but the sensation was different from his memories, even if the rest wasn't too far off.

It's Hoseok.

It felt unusual, strangely sensual even though he wouldn't have expected that from being touched there, not at all. A gasp sounded around them and Hyungwon only belatedly realized that it was him.

"W-why?" he stuttered and flexed his legs, thereby automatically flexing the muscles in his behind, which made him shy because Hoseok was so close.

"It's a very sensitive spot; you can even feel the temperature difference." The comment was followed by cold and hot exhales that he felt right there. "There's a reason people like to play with themselves, it's because it feels good. Does it for you?" the older man asked and placed an open-mouthed kiss on the same spot, followed by a careful lick of his tongue.

His face was burning and he felt the sensation all the way to his toes that curled, accompanied by a loud gasp and his attempts to tug at the sheets. Instead of scrambling far away, he felt the desire to move closer and feel it again. It felt strange to admit, a weird thing to enjoy.

"I- well," he tried and sucked in a deep breath, wondering how to express himself properly without sounding too easy. Was he supposed to like it immediately? What if one usually needed to get used to it or he should react even stronger but didn't?

"How about that?" Hoseok's low voice vibrated right against his skin before the older man simply licked over his crack, drawing circles with his tongue and exhaling sharply. He could feel every little thing.

Hyungwon moaned and immediately clasped his hands over his mouth, groin responding to the touch and reminding him that he had been aroused in the first place. He couldn't believe that something like that brought his arousal back and even fueled it. His eyes were wide as he observed the way Hoseok held him in place, bent in half, and licked over his behind without hesitation.

"Shit," he hissed and felt the urge to cross his legs behind Hoseok's neck and pull him closer.

"I see you like it. I like it too. You're a delicious ice cream." A grin spread the curved lips, giving Hoseok a nasty look for a split second, before the warm mouth attached to his skin once again, more daring this time and combining kisses, gentle licks and sucking on some sensitive spots.

"Isn't it-" Hyungwon couldn't continue as he moaned again and his erection twitched between his legs, responding to the stimulation as Hoseok took his breath away. It felt so fucking good and he couldn't believe it, lying on the bed with wide eyes and observing his thighs shake. "Isn't it strange for you? Fuck, my whole body is shaking."

"So pretty. It's not strange at all. My usual hookups don't include this because you need quite some trust, but you're so attractive. I told you, I would eat you like an ice cream if you would let me. It's pretty nice foreplay because it makes the rest easier." Thinking about it, Hoseok really looked like a snake between his legs, playing with him, tongue teasing his sensitive spots while the dark gaze stayed on his face.

You are special too, aren't you? The boa only doesn't want to admit it.

"What makes you think that I won't let you?" he asked, voice way breathier than planned. The ministrations strengthened his urge to be touched, to have Hoseok's warm hands and curved lips all over him. Even more than they were now.

He's this close and you still want more?

"My wish to do it doesn't give me the right to have it, am I right?" The blonde man winked at him and teased him with his tongue.

Hyungwon moaned again, unable to hide it because he wasn't expecting it. His palm only belatedly covered his lips and it felt a little stupid with the knowledge that Hoseok enjoyed the sounds he made. Chewing on his cheek, he gasped and shifted closer, allowing himself to show that he was really enjoying it.

"You're right," he agreed and glanced to the side, unable to look Hoseok in the eyes as he finished his sentence. "But I would still let you. I… really like what you're doing to me."

"I have no idea what I'm doing here and I  would drop all of it if you weren't so incredibly attractive," Hoseok whispered and grabbed his hips, kissing and caressing his behind, pressure increasing and hot tongue licking circles around his entrance. He could feel every rough exhale and every hum that vibrated against his sensitive skin, showing him how much Hoseok was enjoying it.

But you enjoyed touching him too, he told you that it's always mutual.

His lower body burned up and he threw his head back, suddenly feeling the urge to touch himself and move towards release, lips remaining parted as he moaned from each single lick and touch of lips.

"I didn't think of you as superficial," Hyungwon gasped and lifted his head again, eyes meeting Hoseok's almost black ones. The older man's pupils seemed blown and Hyungwon couldn't believe that touching him like that resulted in arousal, despite a recent orgasm. "So it is my body that you like so much?"

"Just be quiet, puppy," Hoseok hissed and wrapped his fingers around his dick, stroking it rhythmically while he felt more pressure paired with arousal and the older man's tongue inside him.

The combination shut him up for good as he couldn't keep his head up and fell to the sheets again, moaning and whimpering in succession as variations of please and the older man's name rained from his lips. It felt so good that he couldn't keep a coherent thought inside his mind, head turning from side to side and thighs trembling from his imminent orgasm.

"Shit, please, Hoseok," he murmured when he felt the older man's hot tongue inside of him again and his whole body contracted, burning as he released himself on his own stomach and chest, breathing heavily. It was definitely more than usual and Hyungwon couldn't help the desire to hide his face at the knowledge that it was because of the way Hoseok had made him feel.

You always lose yourself so quickly once he wants you to.

"Your sensitivity is my fucking kink," Hoseok murmured between the kisses that he placed against his behind before crawling up and wiping over his stomach and chest. "You're better than ice cream."

Hyungwon blushed at the compliment, disbelieving that Hoseok genuinely compared licking over his behind with ice cream. He would have made fun of it, but decided against it because the fact that he enjoyed it was a little too obvious.

Are you more sensitive than others are?

"You resemble a snake when you're between my legs," he said and pulled Hoseok up to his face, kissing his curved lips. "Do you mean that others don't react the way I do when you touch them? Am I weird?"

"No. I mean that I usually need to bury myself balls deep inside them to get the same reaction, so I really like the way you react to the foreplay. Sensitivity varies; I sometimes meet people, who are quite sensitive. I like it more because the reaction is usually more intense, you know?" Hoseok brushed a strand behind his ear and smiled. It looked gorgeous. "You're pretty, puppy."

So it's because you enjoy it more, that makes it more intense for him.

Hyungwon smiled back, enjoying the genuine affection that Hoseok showed him. It felt special, like a rare gem that only a few were able to see, the moments when the boa was not looking for prey but enjoying itself.

"Your smile makes me want to kiss you again," he replied and reached out to stroke over Hoseok's cheek. He enjoyed the older man's weight on top of him, even though he was the only naked one and should have felt uncomfortable.

"That's probably the reason for hiding it," the blonde man murmured as he rolled to the side and took off his pants before crawling back to him, arms reaching for his waist almost automatically.

So much to not being a cuddler.

Hyungwon purposefully kept silent, aware that Hoseok would have immediately left and come up with some stupid strategic reason as to why he wasn't supposed to be hugging him. There was no need to hear any of them, so he stayed silent and merely enjoyed the older man's presence, the warmth of his body and the pleasant buzzing that remained after his orgasm.

"This might sound weird, but would you read out loud to me?" he asked eventually and chewed on his cheek, eyes remaining focused on his favorite book that was several pages ahead of where he had last opened it. It was another sign that Hoseok really lived in his second apartment now.

"Sure. It will make an even better memory, I guess." Grabbing the book, Hoseok lay on his back and started reading to him, low voice immediately occupying the auditory space. Hyungwon needed a few moments to be able to focus, too surprised by how easily Hoseok agreed.

Why is he so approachable now? Did you finally push past his defenses?

He couldn't believe it, it seemed too easy. There had to be more challenges, more warnings of the boa and not Hoseok's pleasant voice reading out Murakami to him. He loved it, the voice, the facial expression and the soft fingers that stroked over his shoulder absentmindedly.

It felt intimate and somehow Hyungwon was afraid of the moment ending, like a bubble that popped all of a sudden.

_

 

His notes were a mess that spread over the whole expanse of Sasha's parents' couch. Hyungwon felt apologetic that he had to do it at his best friend's house, but there was no real alternative. He had no space at home and Jimin would simply throw it all around and want to be included. That was the reason Hyungwon couldn't even study at home.

The library, on the other hand, was too public. He couldn't throw around all his information on the boa for everybody to see. It has been on the news a few times and it was actually safer for Hyungwon to pretend that he didn't know anything.

It wasn't the first time that he was collecting his knowledge on a person to make a point or provide a proper argument. He had to do it all the time. The difference was that Hoseok was much harder to impress than anybody he had the honor of having a discussion with before.

He's the boa after all.

"I still don't get why you have to do this," Sasha commented and sighed aloud. She was in the process of designing motivational posters for improving the state of the planet, quirky and without putting blame on:-h anybody, just the way Hoseok had taught him.

He's doing so much, but he could do so much more.

"Because he is the best ally to have." Smiling at his best friend, he lifted a sheet of paper that included his notes on Hoseok's involvement in political decisions that he figured out from the documents at the bottom of his drawer. That piece of information was crucial to show Hoseok why his new goal would be more exciting to reach and more of a challenge despite his influence.

Because he would be going against everybody else.

"You make it sound like he's some kind of politician." Sasha pursed her lips and took a big gulp of her cucumber water, gesturing for him to drink too.

"Better," Hyungwon answered and grinned at the thought. Hoseok wasn't a politician, he was the boa, somebody with a giant network, important information and far reaching influence. Hyungwon had to collect information to at least not be a laughing stock for when he presented his case. Climate change was a more exciting goal to reach, with positive effects for the one person Hoseok cared about, his sister. It was a challenge because he'd have to prove his influence despite opposition. The results of reaching the goal were tremendous and would benefit the whole world, not just Germany.

You only need more arguments on why it would benefit him personally. He isn't interested in anything in particular with the exception of Tibet.

"Tibet!" Hyungwon exclaimed and grabbed his laptop, searching up the countries geographic location and current state considering the worsening of the earth's climate. It was a little far-fetched, but it was as far as he could get without pulling the older man’s attachment to his sister into the whole thing.

"You make no fucking sense, Shepard. I feel like we lost you." Sasha shook her head in fake disappointment before slapping his shoulder. "I decided that I need to say this as a friend: You're obsessing over him a little, don't you think?"

She has no idea, because you haven’t told her.

"It's more complicated than that. Let's just say he's in a position to fuck me over and I'm trying to come up with something exciting he could do instead." The words sounded like a bad joke to him, but unfortunately, they were true. Looking at Hoseok and the way he acted towards him all this time, Hyungwon couldn't imagine that the blonde man was going to stay and be nice to him only because they touched. Hoseok hadn't cared about that before either. He tried to prevent it but giving in didn't have to mean anything. Hyungwon missed him.

Because you haven't been able to see him for days, he keeps arguing that he's busy.

"What? That person is fucked in the head, Hyungwon! Why would you hang out with somebody who would willingly hurt you and try to get that person on your side? We don't need somebody like that." His best friend looked outraged, shocked enough to put her drink down and crawl towards him on the couch. She didn't even try to be careful with his notes on Hoseok's family situation. "What's going on with you two? Is he manipulating you, do you need help?"

You're already way past that point.

"No, I'm fine. I only need to convince him, which is why I'd be grateful if you wouldn't destroy my notes." Hyungwon felt a little guilty for not telling Sasha about the fact that he was close to Hoseok, but he simply didn't feel ready to share and confront himself with the truth. Talking about it made it so much more real than it felt in his head. His face heated up at the memory of the blonde man touching him and how gorgeous he looked when he held onto Hyungwon's hair and orgasmed.

You can still hear his voice reading to you if you want to.

"I think he has wrapped you around his finger. I've never seen you like this, Shepherd. Are you sure you're okay?" Sasha wrapped her arms around him and stroked over his hair once. His friend was rarely affectionate beyond a slap, so his eyes widened a little in surprise.

"I'm fine. He- he simply did a lot for me, Sasha, despite his occupation. He paid the hospital bill for Jimin and bought lots of medication to take care of his laceration. Nobody cared enough before and I'm thankful, thankful enough to hope that I can keep him around."

His best friend observed his face for a few moments, searching for something in his eyes until she nodded and let go, returning to her spot on the couch.

"Well, if he's so important, shouldn't you make sure he doesn't fuck off? When was the last time you saw him?"

Three days ago.

"A while," he replied and sighed. Hyungwon checked occasionally if his number still got through to Hoseok without letting it ring for long. He simply wanted to know if he was still somebody who was allowed to contact the blonde man. Wanting to be friends with Hoseok was a fucking roller-coaster and Hyungwon had never been on one.

But you can imagine what it feels like, rising up and falling fast.

"Shouldn't you make sure that he hasn’t changed his mind yet? From what I've seen he's a very arbitrary, handsome man. The talk show, that was also him, wasn't it?"

Hyungwon's hands immediately turned sweaty at the mention of the talk show and he automatically began to collect his notes, putting them all in a neat stack, which he squeezed into his laptop bag for safekeeping.

"The opportunity was, but nothing else. The rest is my responsibility," he murmured and threw his backpack over his shoulder. "You're right, I should see him. I have exams beginning next week and there's no way that I'll be able to see him then. I think I'm mostly prepared to convince him anyway. Thank you for letting me hang out."

Sasha smiled and lifted her glass in a goodbye, pretty eyes watching him put on his shoes.

"I care about you, be careful, okay? Don't let him hurt you."

Hyungwon smiled back, aware of how arbitrary such a reminder was. He doubted that it was in his hands, not with how quickly Hoseok was able to cut ties.

"I'm working on it," he whispered and left the house with a wave, ready to see Hoseok and deal with whatever the blonde man was going to throw his way.

_

 

The apartment still looked the same and the single plant still stood under the window that was directed towards the street. It calmed Hyungwon down a little, like a sign that the blonde man was still living here.

But he left all the furniture last time.

His eyes widened and he hurried to the door, pressing the bell and hiding his body this time. He didn't want Hoseok to deny him because it was him. He hadn't cared before because it was mostly agreed on meetings, but the anxiety of rejection stayed. A few seconds passed, but he was buzzed through. This time too, the older man didn’t meet him at the door, instead it was open and there was shuffling in the apartment. As soon as he stepped inside and took off his shoes, he recognized the blonde man stuffing a huge pile of documents into a drawer of his desk from the corner of his eye.

Hiding things from you?

“I knew that it was you because I looked out of the window and saw your pretty curls,” Hoseok murmured, turning the key and locking the drawer. It must have definitely been something he wasn’t supposed to see or know about. The dark eyes settled on his face and he couldn’t help but be in awe at how stunning Hoseok looked, wearing an expensive shirt with a red snake on it and tight, black jeans, naked feet and blonde hair creating a huge contrast with the older man’s dark clothes.

He's taking his role as a snake very seriously.

“Are you happy to see me? I heard that you got a lot of interview opportunities and another talk show. This time there are no creepy dudes, just this one person from the conservative party. He embezzled funds, but you don’t need to talk to him at all. I’ll break his neck a little later.” Winking at him, Hoseok tucked his shirt into his jeans and ended up looking even hotter than before.

Hyungwon was dumbfounded by the sudden information and cheerfulness that Hoseok greeted him with. It plastered a smile on his face and he hurried closer to embrace Hoseok in greeting. Only when he saw the brief shock on the older man's face he realized that he had never done that before.

"Y-yeah, I'm glad to see you," he murmured after inhaling Hoseok's sweet but intense scent and let go quickly, embarrassed by his sudden affection. Hyungwon was so confused by his own actions and preparing his argumentation for Hoseok that he had absolutely forgotten about the talk show.

"I see you decided to attack me with your cuteness. I'm surprised, but it's fine that you're here." The blonde man glanced to the side looking shy for some reason. "How are your preparations going?"

"I think I'm doing well," he replied and felt a little more confident because Hoseok seemed just as confused about their dynamic as he was. "I even have my spices with me to make you a coffee."

Grinning, he blew Hoseok a kiss and made his way to the kitchen, fumbling with the coffee machine and successfully pulling a cup from the cupboard. Hyungwon really wanted to see Hoseok on his tiptoes though, struggling to reach the highest shelf.

He can also be cute, even if he considers himself a dangerous snake.

"Are you coming?" he called out when Hoseok didn't follow and happily sprinkled some spices on top of the thin layer of foam. He remembered that Hoseok drank his coffee black.

"You seem really eager to see me," the older man commented, leaning against the doorframe. "It smells delicious," the low voice added, before Hoseok made his way towards him, taking the cup from him with careful fingers and a smile so beautiful that he almost choked on his saliva.

Oh god, since when do you feel this way?

"Your smile is unreal," he whispered and brushed through his curls nervously, distracting himself somehow.

"It is pretty real, let's see if I can keep it after drinking the coffee you made me." Hoseok hummed after taking a sip and smiled once again, bright as the fucking sun. "Would you like to have a taste?" the older man asked, and took his chin between his thumb and index finger before leaning in and licking into his mouth briefly, finishing the kiss with a suck on his bottom lip. "Delicious, right?"

He is.

"Y-yeah," Hyungwon stuttered like an idiot and tried his best to suppress the heat in his cheeks. Unfortunately that only made it worse as he thought about how obvious it probably was. He couldn't even be sure about the taste of the coffee because his brain supplied him with the memory of Hoseok's erection between his lips.

Oh god.

"Almost as good as ice cream," Hoseok added and grinned. "You look best naked with blushed cheeks and messy hair, no matter what."

Hyungwon chewed on his cheek and glanced to the side, not sure what to say without feeling even more embarrassed. That is until he remembered that he was the source of Hoseok's pleasure the last time they met.

"I love it when you let go," he replied and blew a few curls away from his forehead.

"You do? Thank you. I love how you clench around my tongue when you come. Some tea?" Another grin appeared on the handsome face as Hoseok moved away and took out a cup. Hyungwon was grateful that the tea wasn't done yet, otherwise he might have spilled it all over the snake on Hoseok's shirt.

Don't challenge him, he'll beat you with experience.

Hyungwon smiled and nodded, covering his cheeks with his palms to hide the color while pretending that he was fixing his hair and rubbing over his eyes.

It was so strange that the older man wasn't warning him or attempting to push him away. Hyungwon didn't even know how to deal with the sudden smiles and affection.

"I saw all your messages, but I was pretty busy during the past few days, so I couldn't find time to reply. Did you miss the boa?" Hoseok didn't look up and was busy preparing the tea leaves and heating the water. "The boa missed you a little bit."

Hyungwon's eyes widened and he barely contained a gasp at the unexpected confession, chest constricting involuntarily. The words made him ridiculously happy, but he didn't dare to admit it, not so easily.

"I missed you too," he whispered and curled his fingers around the edge of the counter before he heaved himself on top of it. It felt different with clothed legs and more distance between them.

Physical distance, mentally he seems closer than he had ever been.

"Here, I'm not sure how your mom prepared it, but I took about fifty fifty pomegranate white tea and coconut green tea, don't be too disappointed if it doesn't taste the same, okay?" The blonde man held the cup with both palms and handed it to him. "Be careful, it's hot."

Hyungwon stared, speechless from the sheer disbelief that Hoseok had remembered the teas his mother had always mixed for him. His hands trembled as he attempted to grab the cup and the older man didn't let go of it, aware that he couldn't hold on to it yet. There was a distinct burning in his eyes, but it wasn't hurt. Hyungwon wasn't hurt at all, he was thankful, thankful and so emotional that he wanted to wrap his arms around the older man and never let go.

"You- you just-" He held his breath to suppress the emotions and held onto the cup so tightly that his fingers turned white. His lips were parted as he carefully leaned in and took a sip. It wasn't quite the same, but it was the closest Hyungwon had ever enjoyed, reminding him of the way his mother brushed her long fingers through his hair in a fruitless attempt to tame it.

"Thank you," he finally choked out and placed the cup on the counter before wrapping his arms around Hoseok's neck and pulling him into an embrace, fingers holding onto the black shirt in an attempt to calm down.

"There's nothing you have to thank me for, Hyungwon. Really," the low voice murmured into his neck as the embrace was returned to him, enveloping him tightly with the older man's fingers stroking over his hair. "I'm really looking forward to your presentation."

You can't disappoint him.

"I'll do my best, I know that I can," he whispered and raked through Hoseok's blonde hair, enjoying the softness of the strands between his fingers. "I was able to convince the moderators during my interviews and we've almost finished the design for motivational posters throughout Germany. I'm so much further than a few months ago and it still feels unreal. Do you… do you think I can stay today? I promise I will leave early to take care of Jimin."

"Mhm. Stay," Hoseok whispered and attached his lips to the crook of his neck. "Is it that nice to be next to me?"

It is addicting. You keep coming back.

"Yeah," he breathed out in reply and tightened his embrace, goosebumps spreading from the spot that Hoseok kissed. "I like you, Hoseok."

There was nothing for a while before the older man's voice vibrated against his neck. "You do? Then I guess I am able to make you feel good." Soft kisses littered his skin, jaw and finally arrived at his lips, mixing tea and coffee. "I'm glad that you came. You know that the deadline is tomorrow, right?"

Now that's more like him, reminding you of your responsibilities.

Hyungwon smiled brightly and nodded, he knew. That's why he was going through his notes to make sure the reasoning was perfect. The only thing that could still make a difference was additional information that Hoseok might share with him while they were together.

He also concluded that he could make you feel good because you like him.

"About making me feel good… do you mean that it's okay because I like you? Since I'm not afraid of you and enjoy your presence?"

That was exactly Hyungwon's reason for wanting to be close to the older man instead of anybody else, the reason for only being able to explore with Hoseok.

Do you even trust anybody else to this degree?

Hyungwon doubted it; his immediate fear at the talk show was enough to know that he couldn't.

"You like spending time with me and you keep coming back, you react like a bushfire to my touch and you lose yourself in a matter of seconds as soon as my lips caress your skin, so I think that I can give you something nice." Hoseok pulled him closer and placed another kiss on his lips. "You taste like the forbidden fruit," he whispered.

Hyungwon felt overwhelmed by the touch, the affection, the authenticity that was present in every word. Hoseok was speaking the truth, acting on something that he wanted too, namely be close to him.

To him you taste like the forbidden fruit, but to you he tastes like home.

"If I am the forbidden fruit, shouldn't the boa be the one who tempts?"

Chapter Text

Hoseok barely managed to hide all the documents that he removed from the safe at the bank two streets away when Hyungwon arrived. Thankfully, he was smart enough to look out of the window, recognized the messy curls, before hurting puppy unnecessarily, and before the boy got suspicious.

You don’t need to hurt him, but you will.

He had been busy during the past few days, preparing for something big and working on his new strategy that was quite risky and needed a lot of energy and all of his cognitive capacity. He couldn't allow himself to make a mistake. Not a single one.

You have one chance and it needs to be perfect and clean, without loose ends.

The knowledge was pressuring, but he got used to it after the first couple of days. What he couldn’t get used to was the fact that he missed puppy. He missed his small face, his big eyes that turned even bigger when he talked about change, environmental protection and his days on the run. It wasn’t only adorable, there was also something else, something that stuck with him and didn’t let him go.

You can give him something that he can use later in addition to some nice experiences.

Hoseok decided that there was no point in warning the younger man anymore. Warnings were for people who listened, not for those who completely disregarded them and jumped right into the danger. Hyungwon was insane, but he liked it. He liked how the younger man didn’t seem to care about his obvious attempts to hurt him and how he still came, sitting on his kitchen counter and looking absolutely adorable and so intriguing. Too good to not take the opportunity as long as he had it.

He’s like the forbidden fruit, but you know how to let go, don't you?

Puppy told him that he should have been the one to tempt, but Hoseok didn’t need anything. Not anymore. There was nothing for him to gain, nothing to lose and nothing to achieve.

“I don’t need to tempt you, you seem quite affected without it.” Hoseok reached for the boy’s small face, brushing his thumb over his jaw and tracing his features with his isolated index finger. Hyungwon was so soft, so vulnerable, but at the same time so strong, that it gave him goosebumps. “Have you always been this gorgeous?”

The boy licked over his lips and glanced to the side, beautifully affected by his compliment as his thighs tightened around Hoseok's hips and he tugged at his hair with his long fingers.

"You're a snake, I shouldn't be the one that you tempt, and I’m the one you tempt with, unless… you are tempted yourself. Who knows, maybe the snake wanted to eat the fruit all along?" Hyungwon leaned into his touch and met his gaze, blush fitting perfectly to the red color of his lips. "I'm the fruit; I have to be delicious, don't I?"

“I considered using you as a temptation, but I realized something important. The fact that I looked at you for too long and forgot what I was supposed to be doing. I stared for such a long time that I ended up wanting to take a bite, puppy.” His lips spread in a smile that lasted for a split second before disappearing again. “But I’m not even sure that I should bite, I think I’d much rather suck in your intoxicating scent and look at you some more to remember how red and delicious you look, being next to me and blushing beautifully, just like now.”

He showed what it means to be the apple, without even meaning to.

The handsome boy observed him as he spoke, teeth settling in the thick bottom lip as he wrapped a strand of his blonde hair around his thin index finger. Once Hyungwon had a grip on it, he tugged him closer, head turning to the side and revealing the golden, delicious neck. The boy was tempting him, eyes remaining as dark and determined as they have been before.

"Breathe me in then," the low voice whispered, rough even though Hyungwon hadn't used it much.

“I will, I will wrap around you like a snake, but not to break you,” he hissed and sunk his teeth into Hyungwon’s golden neck, sucking in the fragrance that stayed with him much longer than it should have. It wasn’t a meaningless touch, a kiss to tease or to provoke, it was walking on a thin rope over a giant void while knowing that every touch and every genuine word he spoke made the rope thinner, cutting into it and making it more likely for him to fall.

You will be okay. You always are.

“I don’t think you will sleep today,” he said, lifting his gaze and catching the younger man’s. “There are too many things I need to show and teach you.”

The black-haired boy moaned loudly from the bite and tugged at his hair, almost painfully. His lips remained parted even when he didn't make a single sound and merely watched Hoseok, chest rising and falling quickly from the simple touch alone.

"You sound like you have already made your decision about my future," Hyungwon whispered and leaned in to suck his bottom lip into his mouth, nibbling on it until he finally let go, eyes almost black. "Teach me, Hoseok."

“I am not someone to make a decision about your future, you fool. However, I am able to give you something valuable because you are like a sponge, sucking knowledge up and using it for your goals. Just like it should be. I will listen to your case. In the end the boa is the one to decide.” Exhaling the air that he had kept in his lungs, Hoseok curled his fingers around Hyungwon’s lean thighs that looked so good, covered by a thin, tight fabric, and lifted the boy in the air. “But I’ll give you a say too, you can tell me what you want to know, it can be anything, strategy related, or pleasure related, anything. It’s your only chance.”

"What if I want to know about you?" Hyungwon asked and shifted his legs so that he simply leaned on Hoseok's shoulders with his lean arms and held on by wrapping his legs around his hips. The boy's lips were only a breath away, tickling his with each exhale. "You make it sound as if you aren't the man who is holding my future in the palm of his hand. Only because you decided to keep it safe, doesn't mean you aren't the one with power, Hoseok. I know our dynamic and I know my position in this. I might be the forbidden fruit, but I am still a chess piece in your head." A warm kiss caught him off guard, followed by fingers raking through his hair.

"I might be a chess piece, but I'm still not scared of you, Hoseok. I want to have you close and know more about you."

“People who think that they have power over others lie to themselves, puppy. When I bite, I do it in the most effective way, but I can’t guarantee that the prey will succumb under the pressure of my grip, you know? It’s easy if it’s a rat, but it could also be a crocodile. You want to know more about me. Like what? How I work? That is easy, I gather information, a lot of it, until I can draw a conclusion and understand what the person stands for, what’s important and what kinds of decisions they made during the course of their life. I know what they did wrong and what they had tried to protect or maximize by doing so. It’s easy for me because in most cases it’s three things: pride, money and power. I am someone who cares about none of those things, so I have no compassion if a person loses any of them. Satisfied?” he whispered against Hyungwon’s parted mouth and licked over the boy’s delicious bottom lip, while his feet carried him through the hallway and towards his bedroom. The lights were dimmed, but it wasn’t meant to create a certain atmosphere, only to shed less light on what he had been doing there with the documents he hid in the drawer.

Hyungwon listened intently, but shook his head, hands caressing his hair and neck as if they were meant to calm him.

"I don't want to know your secret as the boa, Hoseok, even if it is a part of you. I-" The big hands paused on his shoulders and the boy reached out to tilt his chin upwards, making sure their eyes met. "I want to know why you went to Tibet."

He didn’t expect it, not at all, even though he had talked about it so many times and puppy was probably curious about his motives.

“Why do you need to know that? It wasn’t anything life changing, nothing that you would expect. I was eighteen and a little naive. A well working brain can’t protect you from everything.” He chuckled and let himself fall on top of the sheets, taking Hyungwon along, but gradually loosening his grip on the boy’s waist.

Even though he wasn't holding on tightly, Hyungwon remained on top of him, sitting up to arrange his thighs on each side of his hips and hands flat on his chest.

"It is life changing because that is when you became the boa and abandoned attachment. I want to know why, Hoseok."

You were the boa before that. I tiny one that couldn’t bite.

“That’s your personal view of the story, but actually it’s much simpler. Attachment sucks because it makes you unaware, ignorant, and biased and prevents you from making the right decisions for yourself.” He felt how his fingers clenched into fists while he spoke. “Fine, story time. I was attached to a boy who was pretty damn straight and we were close. Funny thing was that I talked like you, telling him that my attachment is my own problem, taking all the responsibility. Well, he told me that he liked me, before being intimate with me and finally using me to get something that had been his goal from the start.” Chewing on his lips, he glanced to the ceiling, collecting his wits to look into puppy’s brown eyes without showing too much. “It doesn’t matter, I don’t even remember his name anymore, Hyungwon,” he lied.

You should’ve broken his hands back then.

"You were hurt," Hyungwon whispered and stroked over his chest tentatively until his fingers arrived at his cheek, brushing over it carefully. "You cannot forget somebody that has hurt you like that, Hoseok. I don't believe it."

"That's the good thing about living in a country that respects the freedom of speech, you can say and think whatever you like. I was hurt, but it was because of attachment and naivety. However, there is more. If I acted immediately, so many things would not have happened, but I hesitated. It's the worst, puppy. You don't even know how painfully true it is." Sighing, Hoseok closed his eyes and listened to his breathing, letting his hands rest at his sides and inhaling quietly.

"But isn't it different when you are attached to the right person? To somebody who cares?" The boy's voice wasn't more than a whisper as he kept stroking over his face and finally leaned in, covering his lips with his own. "I've been surviving all this time, but affection and my feelings for others are what allow me to relax, to be myself and not feel fear. Is there no such place for you?"

"I'm not home anywhere, so I don't think there is. But I also don't need one, I'm fine with my healthy body and the continuous noise in my head. But it makes me cheerful that you have a place like that, Hyungwon." He opened his eyes and smiled before leaning in and catching the boy's lips in a soft kiss. "I'm happy for you."

Hyungwon hummed and kissed back, black curls brushing over his eyes and cheek in the process. There was something vulnerable to the big eyes when their lips parted and the boy met his gaze again, thumb brushing over his cheek.

"You are that place, Hoseok."

The air got stuck in his lungs and he stared at the boy's face, confused and overwhelmed. He didn't know what to do with that information, how to make sense of it in their current relationship.

"How can it be me, Hyungwon? Why isn't it someone who will cherish it? Who will protect it and make sure that you won't get hurt? This doesn't make any sense."

The broad but slim shoulders shrugged and Hyungwon smiled at him, lips spreading wide while his eyes kept the same vulnerable look.

"I told you before, you made me feel like I matter. I always have to be strong, to pull myself together no matter what, no matter whether I'm ripping apart or choking on my own anxiety. With you, it seems like I don't have to, like I can allow somebody else to be strong for me, to trust you and know that everything will be alright. It doesn't matter whether it makes sense, because it's how I feel. Feelings don't need to make sense, Hoseok." A tremble passed through the boy's slim body as he bit down on his bottom lip and shifted closer. "Even if you don't cherish me, you make me feel like you do. It's the first time I’ve felt this way, Hoseok."

Again, his lungs didn't allow any air to enter them, clenching from the influx of emotions that was the reaction to the boy's words.

"It does have to make sense, puppy. Otherwise it can all turn out to be a lie," he whispered and propped up on his elbows, glancing at the handsome face. "Don't."

"It's too late for that." The boy's thighs narrowed around his hips and Hyungwon leaned in, kissing his lips and brushing their noses together, though exhales tickled his cheek. The touch was intimate and just like before, Hyungwon ignored his warning.

"It is," he whispered back, giving up on everything for the few hours that they were able to be together. "Kiss me."

Something changed in Hyungwon's beautiful brown eyes, switching from vulnerability to determination, to a decision that had been made and couldn't be retracted. The boy's left hand propped up against his chest as the right sank into his hair, pulled him into an intimate kiss, noses brushing, and tongue licking over his bottom lip. Hyungwon had learned so well, following all the steps Hoseok had demonstrated but never explained to him. Nevertheless, the kiss wasn't typical or a simple brushing of lips, the boy's breaths were replaced by it. As if he didn't need oxygen as long as he was able to kiss Hoseok, to have him close by tugging at his blonde strands and covering his mouth with his own.

"You taste too good for a forbidden fruit," Hoseok whispered, kissing back desperately, raking through the black curls and trying to create more points of contact. He gave up after a few seconds and turned them, pushing the boy into the mattress with his weight, both elbows placed next to his head and ravishing his pretty lips.

"Shouldn't the forbidden fruit be the sweetest of them all?" Hyungwon asked, voice no more than a low breath, mingling with gasps and impatient whimpers. "But I want to touch you too much to be a passive fruit. Maybe I am a human after all, easily tempted."

"I have no idea what you're talking about, but it doesn't make me want you less," Hoseok murmured and travelled lower, biting into the boy's neck and soothing the spot with his tongue, before sinking down and closing his lips around one of his tiny nipples that he uncovered by pulling on the loose shirt.

The boy moaned prettily, sound low and unrestrained. Hyungwon's hands wrapped around him and played with his hair, pulling him closer to his chest or away to give himself enough time to breathe. He was so sensitive, trembling under him even though Hoseok hadn't even begun.

"I feel like I'm the human and not the fruit, tempted by the gorgeous snake."

Hiding his smile by sucking on the sensitive bud, Hoseok teased it with his tongue while his eyes found the big brown ones. "You might be tempted by the snake, but the snake is tempted by you."

"Sounds perfect," Hyungwon whispered and smiled, pulling him up by tugging on his hair until he was able to kiss him, licking into his mouth and sharing oxygen. When their lips parted, the black-haired boy swallowed and observed him intently, big eyes slipping from his eyes to his mouth and back. "Do you think I want to hurt you, Hoseok? Is that why you are scared of attachment?"

If you aren't attached there is nothing that can manipulate you, hurt you, or make you unable to act. You don't need to tell him, he doesn't understand and he won't be able to understand you.

"I don't think that you want to hurt me. And I'm not afraid either. I just want to kiss you," he whispered, before pulling the boy's shirt over his head.

"Just because you decided not to be attached, does it really keep you from it?" Hyungwon was chewing on his cheek, but lifted his body to allow Hoseok to undress him, arms immediately wrapping around him as soon as the fabric was gone. "I want to kiss you too, so much that I haven't been able to think of anything else during the past few days. I keep thinking of the way you looked when… I pleased you with my lips." The vibrant blush on those round cheeks told him that the boy hadn't planned on revealing so much.

Take it and ignore the rest.

"I keep thinking about it too, but I also think about how I could make you feel if you'd let me. You're so sensitive, I bet that you'd scream from pleasure if one touches you the right way." Hoseok littered the boy's gorgeous sandy skin with open-mouthed kisses, tracing the lines of his stomach, his ribs and dipping his tongue into the space between his collarbones.

"You make it sound like screaming is a good thing," Hyungwon commented and chuckled lowly. His fingers were brushing through Hoseok's hair repeatedly and tugged lightly whenever the boy felt good. "Do you want to touch me?"

"I do. And screaming is definitely a good thing if you do it because it feels so fucking good that you simply can't help it. I want to show you something, but only if you would like me to. It might trigger bad memories and I don't want to make you feel bad, I want you to scream and I can make you," he whispered, remembering how the boy clenched around his tongue while orgasming from a bare minimum of stimulation.

Hyungwon hummed to show that he was listening and pressed a kiss to the top of his head, long legs intertwining with his own.

"Make me scream then."

"Would you like me to undress too?" Hoseok asked while unbuttoning the boy's jeans and pulling them down Hyungwon's long legs. "I can stay like this, but you won't see how much I like it." He winked while placing kisses on Hyungwon's uncovered thighs and hooked his fingers under the waistband of puppy's underwear. The boy wasn't fully aroused yet, but obviously getting there.

"I want you to be naked too," was the quiet reply as Hyungwon tugged on his shirt to pull it over his head. "I want to see you lose it."

You probably can, right?

There was nothing that spoke against it, so he nodded and undressed quickly, crawling back on top of the gorgeous young man. "You smell like cherry blossoms so I guess you just showered, right?"

"Yeah," Hyungwon murmured and blushed softly, bending his knees and thereby stroking along Hoseok's naked thighs. "You are gorgeous, like from a magazine. People from Alia don't look like you and neither do people in Germany. You look very special to me, the curve of your lips and the color of your hair."

He's attractive too.

"You also look special, with your pretty golden skin and your curly hair. Usually the innocent ones are not what I go for, but I guess I got tempted by you, puppy." Hoseok reached for the boy's hair and messed it up, making him look like a lion. He leaned to the side and took out a condom and lube, throwing it right next to them to have it handy, before turning back to Hyungwon who looked mildly terrified, eyes wide and thighs contracting. Despite the obvious shock at Hoseok’s actions, Hyungwon didn’t tell him to stop and merely nodded, as if to himself.

“You mean you prefer to be with somebody who knows what they are doing, right?” Chewing on his cheek, the boy sat up on his calves and leaned in to close his lips around Hoseok’s collarbone, sucking along it and dipping his tongue into the dent. “But I can learn.”

"Are you scared? I won't do anything you don't like and you can always tell me to stop. The condom is not for the boa," he said and glanced between his legs. "It's for its little brother." Hoseok wiggled with his fingers in front of the boy’s face.

“God, you’re so corny,” Hyungwon exclaimed and slapped his shoulder, but Hoseok could feel the boy smile against his chest, worry dissipating in a matter of seconds. “I really hope you don’t actually call your dick ‘boa.”

As if.

Hyungwon looked vulnerable, so he decided to go with the truth for once.

"You're a fool, puppy. I'm not corny at all, but I can feel that you're anxious, so I’m trying to joke around, to not make it worse. Usually I wouldn't say a word."

“Mmh, you never talked much before apart from asking me if I’m okay,” Hyungwon murmured and placed another kiss to his cheek and lips. ”I trust you. It might seem strange to you, but you are the only person who keeps threatening to hurt me, but never does.”

You shouldn't have let him hang around you. Your strategy was shit because you didn't realize what kind of person he is.

The talk was way too intimate and he feared that the threads would slip out of his fingers. Licking over his lips, he pushed the boy into the mattress and settled between his legs. "I hope that you've learned some things from me. And now let me hear your gorgeous moans."

It's better to let your body talk and give him the maximum amount of pleasure, instead of pushing your nails into the wound.

He was quick, licking a strip from Hyungwon's shaft to his tip, before tightening his lips around it and sucking briefly. He knew that it needed a lot of arousal to make it as nice as possible and the talk about attachment wasn't going to get them anywhere.

Hyungwon obviously planned on saying something but gave up immediately, falling to the soft mattress and rubbing his raven black hair over the sheets as he moaned loudly. His long fingers entangled with Hoseok’s hair and tugged lightly, definitely not enough to hint that the boy wanted him to stop. The gorgeous tremble in his long legs and flexing of Hyungwon’s abdominal muscles told him that the sensation was perfect, just enough to distract him.

He sucked on the tip while using both hands to rip the packaging and roll the condom over his finger, covering it in lube. After waiting for a few moments, he pulled the boy forward, throwing one of the lean legs over his shoulder and started circling his entrance, combining the sensation with more stimulation against his dick.

Hyungwon’s body froze for a single second before relaxing again, low voice filling the room with breathy moans. The black-haired boy must be feeling good, pulling at Hoseok’s hair and lightly scratching over the boa on his back. The heel of Hyungwon’s right leg kept digging into his spine, as if telling him to continue.

“Ah, please,” the low voice gasped, followed by a shift as the boy spread his thighs.

Sinking down the whole length, Hoseok pushed his lubed digit inside Hyungwon’s body that was immediately clenching around it. He didn’t have much time, so he curled it, concentrating on the feeling through the layer of latex until he finally found what he was searching for and drew circles, pressing down lightly.

The boy whimpered and pulled his thighs together again, trembling from the sudden sensation as he threw his head to the side and scratched over Hoseok’s back. It was easy to observe how goosebumps spread out from the boy’s groin to his legs and all over his arms, showing how easily he responded to his touch.

“Fuck,” puppy cursed and and blinked rapidly, chest rising and falling without a break as he finally relaxed his muscles and spread his thighs apart again, giving Hoseok more freedom to move. “Oh my god.”

Hoseok let go of his dick and looked up, rubbing careful circles right where it felt good, observing the twitches and trying to move to see whether puppy liked the slide. “How does it feel? Do you like it, or would you like me to stop?”

“Don’t stop,” Hyungwon hissed and reached out to wrap his fingers around his arm, as if he was worried that Hoseok would pull it back. “I like it, like it a lot, lots.” The next words sounded very different from English, stemming deeper from the boy’s throat and Hoseok recognized it as Alian, but couldn’t understand what the boy was saying. Only the word for ‘please’ was recognizable as Hyungwon tugged at his arm before whimpering and throwing his body to the mattress again. He was stunning and Hoseok couldn’t wait to see him completely lose it.

The reaction was even better than he had expected, so he decided to add another finger for good measure. Licking over the boy’s tip, he pulled out and put two inside, easily finding the spot again. This time he stabbed it with his fingertips, knowing how fucking good that felt.

The soft whimpers transitioned into straight out moans, bordering on screams as the boy dug his nails into Hoseok’s arm that he was still holding onto and muttered his name, pronouncing it differently, voice much lower than it was in English.

Please,” Hyungwon repeated again and struggled to keep his hips still, perfectly aligned to keep feeling the fingers that Hoseok smoothly slipped in and out of him. “I - close - don’t want to - yet.” Hoseok understood parts and the way the gorgeous younger man kept moaning in between turned it into even more of a challenge. The low sounds sounded attractive, showing how affected the boy was to switch to his mother tongue.

“You’re gorgeous puppy,” Hoseok murmured and leaned in to kiss his golden thighs that shook from pleasure. He slowed down a bit while focusing on the slide and to hit right as soon as his fingertips met the spot. If puppy didn’t want it to be over yet, then he was more than willing to play. “Do you like it?” he asked in Alian, remembering the phrase.

Hyungwon's eyes widened a little, probably because he spoke his mother tongue and reached for his black curls, brushing them away from his sweaty forehead.

"Yeah," puppy replied, but this time in English, breathing heavily and contracting his muscles as if he tried to stay in place but failed to do so. "So much that I can barely breathe."

“You can try moving your hips, if you like,” Hoseok suggested, keeping his fingers still, but touching the sensitive spot. His own erection was its full size and kept twitching as soon as Hyungwon let out one of his gorgeous scream-like moans. He liked the sight, he liked it so much that he imagined how fucking full he could make the boy feel.

Again Hyungwon nodded and lifted up on his elbow, holding most of his weight that way while his hips were held by the leg on top of Hoseok's shoulders. The boy sucked his lips into his mouth as he tried it out, pushing back and cursing quietly. It must have felt amazing, as puppy didn't even hesitate before doing it again, and again, fucking himself on Hoseok's digits with his head thrown back and mouth open. The low moans could have been music, breathy but loud enough to turn him on beyond belief.

“Fuck, you make me want you so much,” he hissed and closed his eyes, imagining that it wasn’t his fingers. Enjoying how the boy’s erection twitched every time he hit dead on, he decided to release himself from the sweet torture of watching Hyungwon completely lose himself and leaned in, sucking on puppy’s leaking tip and moving his fingers himself, stabbing the spot that must have released white sparks into the boy’s vision.

Instead of giving in as he should have, Hyungwon reached for his shoulders and forced him to let go as he climbed on top of his lap, gasping in his face and covering his lips with hot, plump ones.

"Why don't you act on it then? I want to see you lose yourself too," the boy whispered and rubbed his behind over his hard erection, meant as simple simulation but feeling like so much more than that.

“You want to have sex with me? But you’re a virgin puppy, you don’t even know what you’re doing. Let me touch you a bit more so you can regain your senses back,” he murmured after moaning quietly at how good puppy felt on top of him. The boy gasped but didn't argue with him even though his expression suggested that he wanted to. Instead of agreeing, the black-haired boy slipped down from his lap and began covering his chest in kisses, sucking his nipples into his hot mouth and kneeling in front of him. Hyungwon travelled lower with each kiss until he had both of his palms on Hoseok's thighs and his lips brushed over the tip of his throbbing erection.

"Feed me with your affection then," puppy whispered and parted his lips, using his cockhead to push the bottom one down.

Why didn't he want release?

“No. I always finish what I started,” he murmured in reply and pulled the boy up. This wasn’t some weird game but the longer they were together, the more it seemed as if it was. “Or maybe we should just drop it and talk some strategy. What do you think?” Exhaling sharply to calm down, Hoseok took the blanket and threw it over his groin, crossing his legs and staring right into puppy’s widened eyes. “You won’t let me achieve my goals, so I won’t let you achieve yours, it’s as easy as that. Please present your case. Now.”

"W-what?" Hyungwon's eyes widened and his body froze in place, visibly shocked by the sudden change in Hoseok's behavior. There was even a hint of fear in the big brown eyes, but it didn't look like Hoseok was the source. "Did I do something wrong? I just- I wanted to make you feel good too."

“Don’t worry about it, I don’t think this will get us anywhere anyway, so it’s fine.” Throwing the condom to the floor, he wiped his hands off the blanket and propped up on both arms, watching the confusion on the boy’s face. “You’re pretty and everything, but all of this is starting to give me a headache.”

"I did something to change your mind." It didn't sound like a question, more like a fact as Hyungwon brushed through his black hair and sucked his lips into his mouth. His eyes weren't focusing on Hoseok and aimlessly roamed the sheets and the bedroom. The boy was obviously emotional, Hoseok had seen that face before, the brief instance of hurt until it was hidden by fake bravery. "You're talking for yourself again. This won't get you anywhere, but fine, I understand, just-" Puppy's chest shook and he stroked over his own thighs, holding the air in his lungs for several long seconds. "Just give me a moment."

Before, he would have smiled at the whole situation, feeling nothing but impatience, but there was the small face and Hyungwon’s gaze that looked so unsure only because he decided that it was enough. The nervous gestures and the vulnerability of being exposed in front of another person hit him as if it was him sitting there and feeling terrible. It made sense why he suddenly started to care, it did, but he hated it.

Reaching out, Hoseok curled an arm around the boy’s middle and pulled him against his chest, kissing those pretty, swollen lips and stroking over his long black locks.

“I hate you, puppy. I hate you so much,” he whispered.

 

***

 

 

The more time Hyungwon spent with the boa, the more obvious it became that the roller-coaster he had climbed on, fasting the security belt, was a no-return ride.

There is nothing you can hold onto to keep him close.

Hoseok's moods seemed arbitrary. When Hyungwon asked personal questions to understand the crippling hurt that the older man experienced, there were no attempts to push him away. The wall was still there, firm and unbreakable.

But as soon as you desire to make him lose his mind in return, it seems like the wall is still there, showing how little you can actually do.

Hoseok's fascination with him was easy to see in the motions of the older man's delicate hands, the care with which he touched and stimulated him. Even his face had been more accessible, showing his arousal as he watched Hyungwon move on his own, feeling pleasure from something he would have never considered possible. His father would have slapped him for something like that, had he been aware enough to understand what it meant.

You don't even know if you understand, you only know that you need to hold on somehow, even if it means scratching over the concrete with your nails.

Hyungwon hadn't lied when he told Hoseok that he was his safe place, the one person that didn't need him to be strong, to pretend and bear everything. The blonde man was strong instead of him and could hold him steady, support him.

You can't let go of this, you'll go mad.

It was difficult to contain his emotions, the desire to cry and express how much it hurt to see Hoseok lock his expressions away and cover himself with a blanket. The older man was expecting him to perform and be productive like everybody else, despite being overwhelmed in a newfound pleasure only moments ago. His thighs were still jittery and his body was uncovered and aroused. It was obvious to Hoseok who had decided to leave Hyungwon as the only one exposed.

Why does he keep doing this? Does he still believe that pushing you away will change your mind?

It was too late already. Both of them knew it. Hyungwon just couldn't understand why the blonde man still kept his wall, the concrete that pushed him away and forced him to fight with his bare fists, bruising them against the rough surface. He was willing to fight, he needed to be able to, but not against Hoseok.

He's the single exception you have.

The way the blonde man asked him to present his case, right this instant with his body still burning from arousal and chest rising and falling rapidly, suggested that his case wasn't what Hoseok really wanted to hear.

He wants to distract, to build the wall higher again.

Hyungwon tried his best, telling the older man that he knew it must have been his attempt to get closer, that distance was a solution for Hoseok, but not for both of them. His bottom lip shook, but there was nothing he could have done about that. He didn't want to hide his face, it was cowardly.

Instead of a pointless warning and an additional rejection, a muscular arm wrapped around his waist and pulled him closer, hugging him tightly. The force with which Hoseok embraced him squeezed the air from his lungs and he gasped into the older man's ear, unsure how to react.

"I hate you, puppy. I hate you so much," the low voice whispered into his ear. The words were hurtful, but not the way Hoseok spoke them. They sounded like an excuse, an excuse to explain the blonde man's behavior.

He's breaking his rules for you and he hates it.

"No, you don't," he murmured in reply and cupped the warm face, observing the long eyelashes and the shadows they drew on Hoseok's cheeks. The curved lips were slightly parted and Hyungwon felt like the wall had stopped pushing him, stopped ripping the ground away from under his feet. "You hate the situation that makes you act this way."

"Be quiet," Hoseok hissed and kissed him with more desperation than before, pulling him on top of his lap. The older man's careful fingers sunk into his curls and pulled lightly, deepening the kiss.

Hyungwon let him, parting his lips and still tasting coffee and a hint of home. He wanted to calm the older man down, to return the feeling of being safe, but he just didn't know how. His arms wrapped around Hoseok's neck and stroked along his back and shoulders, fingertips dancing over the naked skin. The tighter the embrace was, the better he felt the warm skin against his own, surrounding him whole like a cocoon. He wanted to be someone like that for Hoseok too, a person that didn't require the wall of impenetrable concrete.

But he won't let you, he doesn't even let his own sister in.

Maybe him liking the boa was like a mouse liking an owl, only that their roles were switched. The prey was relaxed and felt at ease whereas the predator was terrified of letting go.

Because he's afraid of getting hurt, the type one cannot shake off. The way he has been hurt before.

Hoseok let himself fall back and pulled him along, littering his face with kisses. The caresses were so unlike the boa. The older man's eyes were closed and the rapid breaths gave away how affected he was. Hyungwon would be the last person to break it, so he kissed back with everything he had, forgetting about skills or how to kiss properly and simply enjoying the contact, melting into the touches and focusing on the delicious scent and taste of the older man. He had never felt this way next to anybody before, like he wanted to merge into a single entity, hold on and never let go.

"It feels too good," the low voice whispered right next to his ear. "This feels too good."

"But isn't that a nice thing?" Hyungwon asked and nibbled on the skin of Hoseok's neck, licking his way to his earlobe. He didn't want to say the wrong thing, but he also didn't want to stay quiet. The blonde man simply shook his head and tightened his embrace, wrapping around him and burying his face in the crook of his neck, sharp teeth sliding along his jugular. He couldn't resist a whimper at the rush of pleasure that travelled along his legs, tingling in his chest and groin.

He wants to be close to you, but he's worried about attachment. Can't you make him feel safe somehow?

Hyungwon doubted that he was able to do that with a single action and focused on the sensations instead, on the silky hair between his fingertips, the warm arms surrounding him, the firm thighs under his behind. All of it felt real and that thought alone was already enough to calm him down.

"Come here," he whispered and tilted Hoseok's jaw upwards, enough to catch those curved lips in a deep kiss, only focusing on the way it felt and how his whole body burned from the knowledge that it was Hoseok he kissed. "I feel so complete like this, like a finished book."

"I want to see your pleasure-stricken face right now, just for a brief moment." The blonde man turned them and crawled down, sucking his nipple into his hot mouth.

For a brief moment?

Hyungwon wanted to ask, to point out that it didn't need to be for a brief moment, but the way Hoseok reacted before made him hesitate. Instead he moaned softly and nodded, holding onto the blonde hair to tug at it whenever he felt good.

"Would you like me to touch you the way I did before? It feels good, right? You can make yourself feel the same without me." The beautiful smile disappeared between his legs and he moaned from the pleasure of Hoseok's lips around him.

"But I like it when you do it, please do it again," he muttered and wished that his dick didn't harden as quickly as it did from the mere memory of the way Hoseok had made him feel. Blush covered his cheeks and he cursed in Alian, thighs trembling in anticipation. He was so easy to read without even meaning to.

"I love your voice when you speak Alian, it sounds gorgeous and makes me feel things," Hoseok commented with another smile that took his breath away. The older man was so quick, pulling out another condom package and pulling the latex over his fingers. He must have owned a lot of those.

"You want me to speak my mother tongue?" Hyungwon asked and smiled, unsure whether Hoseok was going to understand. His own dick twitched as soon as he saw the older man's hand disappear between his legs and he bit his lip to stop being so embarrassing. It felt good, but it wasn't a reason to throw himself right into it.

Bullshit, it drove you mad, enough to forget English.

Hoseok looked thoughtful, before nodding and replying 'yes' in Alian. "But speak English if you want me to stop to make sure that I understand everything. Are you ready?" The dark eyes peeked from between his legs and the older man put his legs on top of his shoulders. "When you put your fingers inside, you have to make sure to curl them upwards, there's a spot, a little swollen, the size of a walnut, press it and lose it."

That's very detailed considering he's way better at this anyway.

"But how am I supposed to lose it if I have to keep pressing it? In addition, I only have 5 minutes in the shower, that's barely enough to jerk off while imagining that it's you." Hyungwon smiled and spread his legs wider, heart hammering in his chest. He hadn't mentioned thinking about the older man while he pleased himself, but it was probably obvious to Hoseok. "You know so well how to make me feel good, makes me want to find out just how good."

"Jerking off is a bit lame considering what you could do, but you thought of me, so I'll let it slide. Licking over his lips before licking over his tip, Hoseok glanced up, tightening his lips around his dick and pushed his fingers inside him.

It was definitely less uncomfortable than the first time, way wetter and easier to slide in. His thighs contracted, just like his body around the fingers, and Hyungwon held his breath to relax again. It felt unusual because there wasn't supposed to be anything in his body, at least not that way. The tight lips around his tip distracted him though and made his body spasm when he got too sensitive. Chewing on his cheek, he patiently waited for the moment when he was going to forget all about that. It was about three to five seconds until the older man finally curled his fingers and pressed down, immediately letting go of his dick.

Because you would come in a matter of seconds.

Hyungwon yelled, mostly in pleasure and partially in surprise because his memory hadn't done the feeling justice. It was so good that he wanted to bury his face in the pillow and scream the older man's name until he mercilessly pushed those digits in and out of him like before. He whimpered from the lack of stimulation as soon as the pressure was gone and mumbled something that must have been 'please'.

You want it so much, it blurs your thoughts. He could ask to sleep with you and you would scream your agreement.

"I want you, so much, so fucking much," he gasped and pushed his hips forward himself, moaning from the electricity-like pleasure that travelled through his whole body. "Please."

"You're fucking gorgeous, puppy, fuck," Hoseok hissed and moved his hand faster, stabbing right where it felt like an electric shock coursing through his limbs and concentrating right in his groin.

"Oh god, yes, please," he moaned, sound bordering on a scream as Hoseok moved his fingers fast enough to keep him from having a break. It felt like standing under a waterfall and each drop was a spark of pleasure. Hyungwon's whole body trembled and he wasn't even aware whether he pushed back against Hoseok's fingers or if his body had given up on all control. His vision kept turning white, his orgasm approached through the motion of Hoseok's hand alone. The thought sounded crazy, like Hyungwon was somebody who preferred penetration over normal touching. Tears burned in his eyes from feeling too much, but he didn't want it to stop, so he kept begging, asking the older man for more and scratching over his skin in an attempt to push his hips closer. He wanted more of it, so much that he almost fainted.

"You look as if you're close, baby. Come for me," Hoseok whispered somewhere close by and started rubbing the spot with more pressure as his fingers slid in and out of him.

Hyungwon couldn't have contained it even if he wanted to, his whole body spasmed and his vision turned white, burning arousal transforming into a fucking firework of pleasure. He screamed the older man's name, rolling off his lips without a single thought as he scratched over the muscular back in an attempt to hold on.

Even when his vision cleared, his body was still shaking, overwhelmed by how fucking good it felt. The sticky mess on his stomach only confirmed his impression as it was more than usual. His lips remained parted as he looked up to meet Hoseok's gaze, pulling the older man closer with his legs on his shoulders.

"You're so sensitive, it's a fucking blessing," Hoseok whispered with a soft smile and kissed him while keeping his fingers inside him, circling the spot carefully.

"It feels so good," he muttered, remembering how the English language works and shifted his hips a little, moaning from oversensitivity. He should have felt strange, but instead he merely repeated the motion. Having fingers inside of him didn't feel all that unusual anymore.

"It does. It feels good for me too, but I prefer plugs because I'm not a fan of the slide." Hoseok took a few tissues out of the box that stood on the bedside table and wiped his release from his stomach. "You were gorgeous, damn it. Watching you definitely has addiction potential."

"I want to see you come," he whispered, lifting his head from the bed and observing the older man. He didn't look as affected as his thick erection suggested, but Hyungwon wanted him to moan the way he had before.

 "You do?" Hoseok removed his fingers and cleaned him up calmly, before spreading his thighs, sitting back on his calves and curling his elegant fingers around his huge dick. The older man stroked it slowly while observing him. "Should I?"

Hyungwon's eyes widened and he observed the contrast between Hoseok's delicate hands and his veiny dick. He had never thought about dicks before, but the older man's looked really nice and he had enjoyed the way it felt in his hand.

And your mouth.

He swallowed and chewed on his cheek.

"I want to help you come," he murmured and reached out to stroke over Hoseok's naked thighs.

"You want to help me? How?" The blonde man tilted his head and let his almost black eyes travel over his exposed body while moving his hand tentatively.

"Whichever way you enjoy," he replied quietly and moved closer, stroking upwards with his fingers. "With my hands, my mouth, or something new you want to teach me."

"You should keep what I didn't take from you yet," Hoseok whispered and pulled him closer. "You can do what you like, puppy. It's your lucky day today." He caught a hint of a smile before Hoseok clashed their lips together, licking into his mouth while holding onto his waist.

Hyungwon hummed into the kiss as warmth spread in his chest at the older man's words. Hoseok was always so considerate with him, only taking what he willingly gave to him.

"I want you in my mouth," he murmured and couldn't help the blush that only increased as soon as the words left his lips. "I… liked it."

"Mhm, then come here." Hoseok gestured between his legs. "Do you want to move by yourself?"

Hyungwon smiled softly and leaned down, licking over the tip before shaking his head. Hoseok smelled like a mixture of shower gel and himself and he enjoyed it, breathing in as he licked over the wet head again. "I like your hands in my hair, that way I can feel you better."

“I can feel you too,” the older man whispered barely audibly and inhaled deeply before releasing a breathy moan. The delicate fingers tightened their grip in his hair as Hoseok pushed himself into his mouth and started moving, moans and gasps filling the bedroom and replacing the silence.

Hyungwon enjoyed the slide on his tongue and flattened it to make sure Hoseok was able to move faster if he wanted to. When the tip was at the tip of his tongue, he sucked on it, adding to the sensations and accompanying them with low hums that tensed the firm abdominal muscles. Hoseok must be enjoying the way his mouth felt, gasping repeatedly and breaking the rhythm of his thrusts. Hyungwon wanted to know the moment the boa let go, losing himself in how good he felt.

“I’m close,” Hoseok murmured and tightened his grip on his hair, moving faster until he buried himself in his mouth with a loud groan, erection twitching between his lips. Hyungwon held still, eyes burning a little from suppressing his gag reflex and feeling warmth sink down his throat. He massaged the other man's thighs and slowly sucked his way up, hoping for oxygen as soon as he let go. He really needed it. His lower body was tingling with arousal that had been pleasantly satisfied before. Hoseok made him want to stay close forever, watch the beautiful face in pleasure until the end of his days.

"The boa is beautiful, but to me Hoseok is even more beautiful," he whispered and smiled as he lifted up to kiss the blonde man's lips.

“Your words are worse than any bite,” the older man whispered and kissed him, carefully tracing his swollen lips with his tongue and licking into his mouth. Hoseok brought him along as he fell back on the bed, wrapping his arms around him tightly. “I really wanted to give you feedback on your case though, or are you spent?”

"I'm okay," Hyungwon murmured and tried to collect his thoughts. "Is it midnight yet?"

"Mhm. It is. You need to get up early and so do I, but I want to listen to what you prepared. That was the whole point, wasn't it?" The older man brushed through his hair and sat up, looking around until he found his underwear and handed Hyungwon his.

It felt strange to talk about strategy stark naked, so he was thankful for the little bit of cover which he pulled over his behind before sitting up on the bed and observing Hoseok's muscular body in front of him. Had the older man worn more clothes, it would have been easier.

"What makes a goal appealing for you?" he asked and crossed his legs to appear at least a little more serious than he did with messy hair and naked chest.

This is important, it's what keeps him from hurting you.

"It needs to be logical in itself, reflect my values and have nothing to do with personal obsession or attachment." The blonde man leaned against the headboard and crossed his arms, observing him intently with a different look than usual.

"You like challenges, don't you? You are bored when something is too easy or people are acting stupid. I think I might have something for you then." Hyungwon smiled and brushed his black hair from his forehead to look older. Looking older meant that he appeared more commanding and like he knew what he was talking about. To keep the suspense for a little longer, he observed Hoseok and gestured around them. "Climate change."

Hyungwon expected an immediate objection and to get around it, he didn't allow Hoseok a lot of time for that. His plan was pretty organized and straight forward and he had to make his point clear without Hoseok jumping to the conclusion yet.

You should have waited with the conclusion.

"It's a challenging goal because most of the contacts you have are against it. Working against the car industry and political opinions would be like working against all the allies you have. It'd be like starting at rock bottom. You've been successful before? That's great, but how much of it was because of your aids helping you to gather information and the individuals in the parliament that you manipulated into following your words. It's not challenging that way, I'm not even a challenge. You could have broken me with a single word if you wanted to." Hyungwon had to stop there, realizing how true that actually was and how lucky he was to still be able to live in Germany and have a second chance at life. "Climate change isn't that easy. It's about breaking the influence of the oil industry, something that nobody has been able to do yet. It's about working against the people that have protection, working in the shadow of others instead of the ones you can easily throw into the spotlight and eliminate. Helping reduce emissions is almost impossible with the current political mindset, which means that it's a perfect goal for the boa."

"Sounds good," Hoseok commented just like that and uncrossed his arms. "You don't have to worry about yourself, I dropped my previous goal, but there will still be changes for you, however, no negative ones."

What?

Hyungwon sat there, cross-legged and half naked and must have looked stupid to Hoseok, mouth open and dumbfounded that the older man accepted the first half of his case as if it was obvious. He hadn't even presented the second part yet.

"That's… it? You change your goal just like that, after I give you a few reasons to do so?" It didn't make sense, not after all the times Hoseok had warned him, emphasized that he was going to hurt him no matter what Hyungwon attempted to do. The longer he observed the blonde man and the calm expression on his face, the more obvious Hyungwon's unimportance in the whole matter became.

"You didn't drop it because of what I said, did you?" he muttered, realizing that his whole case was moot.

"Please still elaborate, I want to give you feedback on whether your explanation makes sense," the older man gestured for him to continue. "It wasn't because of what you said just now, but let's say that you played a significant role in my decision process."

You played a significant role, but it must have been something that happened before.

Hyungwon couldn't figure out what it was, why Hoseok would have changed his opinion beforehand. He had tried so many times to convince the older man to change sides, to help a world that his sister and her future children would have to live in. To save lives and other people from ending up like Hyungwon. There had been so many emotional reasons to change his mind, but the older man hadn't cared about those.

But what was it?

"I can give myself some feedback. I should have mentioned the goal at the end, instead of taking away all the suspense of what I was hinting at. I should have argued one by one about the things that are important to you in a goal and elaborated on why your current goal doesn’t satisfy them before getting to my proposed goal. I should have sold it as something that you want, much like I presented myself as the forbidden fruit." Hyungwon chuckled and let himself fall to the mattress, overwhelmed by the relief that Hoseok had changed his mind. "Does this mean you will really help with fighting climate change?

"I guess. But I have my way of doing things, so it won't be what you usually do. I just need some time to sort stuff out, so I'll be busy for the next couple of days. You… did well though, your thoughts were clear and well presented. But I want to show you an example of how a person who did nothing wrong can become someone who did."

"What do you mean? Wouldn't the person have to make an accidental mistake then?" Hyungwon felt warm about the compliment, but Hoseok's last comment confused him. The older man's tone didn't sound as excited and positive as he had expected it to be as soon as he managed to convince him. Instead Hoseok sounded resigned, like he had accepted it as a fact and therefore felt no particular emotions anymore. "Do you fabricate stories about people?"

Did he lie about the crimes of those men?

"I don't. Usually, I only use the information about something they have done, substantial evidence. I collect everything. However, there was this case where the only thing that I found was absolutely irrelevant and marginal in comparison to the consequences it carried, so I decided to create a situation where this person would make a mistake, so I could use it to achieve my goal." The dark eyes didn't leave his face while the older man spoke, body shifting a bit on the bed. "Do you want to know what I did?"

A test, he must have tested the person to see if they would act in a terrible way.

"It was a test for them, wasn't it? If they make the mistake, then you can know that they aren't as nice as they pretend to be, like an extreme situation, right? I've seen people at their worst when the wave hit, people I believed I knew," he murmured, curling his hands into fists at the memories.

"No, puppy. I created a situation where this person made a mistake because they didn't think about their actions, they didn't have a strategy or the awareness that someone might try to manipulate them. I needed two things, for that person to have enough popularity and a scandal big enough to affect them so much that they wouldn't be able to continue doing what they were doing." Hoseok sat up and crossed his legs, leaning closer towards him, gaze intense and still observing every twitch in his face. "I let one of my people send them money, first a smaller sum, then bigger sums, acting as if it were donations, simply to see what would happen to that money. There's nothing wrong with donations, however, it can create a huge scandal if the donor and the receiving organization are related positively or negatively. Can you follow me?"

Hyungwon's breath hitched as Hoseok's words slowly began to make sense. Of course, the longer the older man talked, the clearer the conclusion was. His mouth felt dry and his hands were clammy and he wiped them over his naked thighs, disbelieving how naive he had been about this. Hoseok had come to him and given him amazing opportunities and publicity, media coverage and everything that was needed to give him enough popularity for the older man to crush it and complete his goal.

And you fell for it.

"What was your strategy before you decided to do this? Back then when you came to the cafe to talk to me," he asked quietly and wished he could have turned off the beating of his heart, the pain that spread the longer he thought and talked about it. Hoseok must have planned it all out perfectly before sending them money. Hyungwon hadn't suspected a single thing, merely being happy about such generous donations that allowed him to achieve his goal. He had known that Hoseok wanted to break him all along and get rid of him and his activism, but he had never known how.

It feels different once the reasoning is arranged in front of you on a plate, doesn't it?

"When I came to the cafe? I wanted more information. The only thing I had against you was that you worked illegally, but it didn't give me enough, I didn't know why you were stateless, so I wanted to find out. After I did, I understood that you would probably have to leave the country if I exposed you. You know, rape is considered less severe than tax evasion. I… didn't think it was okay to have you sent out of the country, so I tried to find something else." The blonde man sighed and pointed at his forehead. "However, there was nothing besides your naivety, so I used that. Long story short, don't trust people, puppy. Always question the things that happen to you and try simulating where a certain decision will lead you and who will benefit from it. Don't just take the things that come your way, it's important that you think. The money is neutralized now, so don't worry."

Hyungwon watched the way Hoseok spoke, how his voice had that level and controlled tone to it, the way he spoke when he taught him something or wanted to be untouchable. He listened, ignoring the hammering in his chest and the pain that accompanied it. Hoseok had changed his mind, nothing was going to happen to him, but that wasn't even the point.

"I never had a chance to decide before, Hoseok. This is a new development, the knowledge that I can impact what happens to me." He swallowed and hid his palms between his legs. "I want to know what made you change your mind. Why did you decide not to hurt me? It would have been so easy for you. You kept warning me that you wouldn't hesitate, no matter how close I became. You say the boa is ruthless, but if it was, it should have sent me out of the country, along with my family the way I feared all along."

Hoseok stared at him, disbelief mixing with something he had not seen in the older man's expressions before.

"I told you, the consequences were not in any way justified. If you embezzled the money, tried to shit on people for your personal profit or hurt someone, I wouldn't have hesitated, but you just tried to make enough money for your family who has nothing and who also has to bear the consequences. Why the fuck would I send you out of the country if I kept the evidence of some rapist for three years without revealing it?" Suddenly the blonde man looked angry, clenching his fists and biting down his bottom lip. "Just pay attention to who you're hanging around with. There's an informant in your organization, the blonde guy with glasses. He is studying engineering and is secretly hoping to get a job at VADB. So much to altruistic motives."

"Why- why are you telling me all this, Hoseok?" Hyungwon swallowed and moved closer, placing his excessively hot hand on top of the older man's thigh instead of his own. "Why would the extent of consequences matter to you? If you were as ruthless as you claim to be it shouldn't have mattered. Innocent people die everyday because of climate change and nobody cares either. There's is nothing promising me that anybody will care, that's why I stopped caring about motives. I only care if a person does the right thing, which you have, all the fucking time."

He felt a little angry too, angry for not realizing what was happening and falling for it so easily and angry because Hoseok must have changed his mind in the middle, but didn't tell Hyungwon why.

"What changed your mind? What made you decide not to fuck me over the way you planned to? You fabricated evidence beautifully, making me look two-faced after teaching me everything you knew about convincing people to accept a foreign goal. Why all the effort?"

"It's not relevant. Fact is that I did and that you're not my goal anymore. I taught you because I knew that you learn like a sponge, I knew that you would only need a bit of time to get back on your feet, just like you kept coming here and I know that you will keep coming here." Hoseok glanced at his palm that covered his milky skin and put his own hand on top.

Embracing the boa does not mean that you get under its skin.

"I knew that you wanted to hurt me, you warned me often enough, but I had no idea that it would be that way, with something that I didn’t even do." Hyungwon's breath hitched from the sudden influx of adrenaline, fingers shaking even though they should have remained still, continuing the illusion of calm that he tried so hard to create. He didn't feel calm at all. Hoseok had changed his mind, but he didn't know why. What was going to happen now? The blonde man had no reason to see him anymore unless he adapted Hyungwon's goal and planned to continue teaching him. "I told you before that actions matter to me and you often act in one way, but say something else. I believe your actions and those tell me that you don't want me to stop coming to you. You made me feel like I matter while seeing me and coaching me to become somebody who has an impact. Now you’re decided to stop teaching me, but still I feel like I matter to you. Why?"

"I just taught you to be careful and aware, what do you mean I'm not teaching you anymore? I don't know why you feel that way, I only know one thing for sure, puppy." The blonde man moved closer and connected their lips for a split second before leaning back. "I know for sure that attachment sucks."

Nothing changed, even though he changed his mind.

Hyungwon didn't know why he felt so disappointed suddenly, as if something he had hoped for was ripped from his hands even before it was allowed to see the light. He glanced to the side to not show his emotions too obviously and focused on the feeling of Hoseok's skin under his fingertips. How could they be so intimate without anything changing between them? Hyungwon didn't know what he had been expecting, but it wasn't the cold acknowledgment that meaningful closeness was detrimental.

But if this isn't meaningful, then what is it?

"Don't be sad, puppy. You'll be fine, the boa will be the boa and do what the boa does best while you will be able to make an impact. And I'll accept your goal. I'll do it." Hoseok lifted his palm from his thigh and placed a kiss against it before getting up and walking towards the bathroom." We should get ready for bed, you're going to be dead on your feet after taking Jimin to kindergarten, your five lectures, work shift and the talk show. You have to take care of yourself."

"I do," he whispered in reply, unsure whether Hoseok had heard it, but didn't move. Everything seemed so nonchalant with Hoseok, as if he could erase meaning with his sheer power of will. The blonde man accepted his goal, but it didn't turn out the way Hyungwon imagined it to be. Instead it sounded like the boa planned on working alone, the way it always did. Hoseok had a talent for being indifferent and building up the wall while still caring about him.

How can he stay the same despite everything that happened between you, after telling you all that?

He felt shaky on his own two legs when he finally lifted his slim body from the bed and made his way to the bathroom, mechanically brushing his teeth and attempting to cover himself from the cool air in the apartment. The argument felt like it was over with Hoseok's final comment and change in topic. The blonde man didn't want him to be sad, but he couldn't help it, not when he had expected the wall to crumble in his two hands.

It feels like not even a change in goal is able to break it.

Hoseok waited for him when he came back and patted the spot next to him, lifting the blanket so that he could crawl under it. Hyungwon hesitated for a moment only, a moment during which he considered changing his own behavior to change Hoseok's, but that wouldn't have worked on the blonde man. Their behavior already complimented each other, so he chewed on his cheek and slipped under the soft blanket, warmed by the immanent presence of Hoseok's hot body.

"Can I… hug you for a moment?" the low voice asked next to his ear after he turned away.

He wants to embrace you? He said that he isn't interested in hugging another person.

The words signaled a crack in the thick concrete and Hyungwon took what he could get, turning around and nodding slowly when his eyes met Hoseok's black ones.

"Please do."

There should've been a sign of ease on the handsome face, however, instead Hoseok looked unsure, reaching for his waist and pulling him as close as possible.

"Thank you," the older man whispered.

"I haven't done a single thing you should be grateful for," Hyungwon repeated Hoseok's words back at him and smiled against the soft skin. Their situation was a complete unknown in which he couldn't predict what would happen or what the older man was thinking. "Would you… read to me again until I fall asleep?"

He felt a nod against his shoulder and a shift as Hoseok reached for the book, opening it where they had stopped. The low voice whispered the words to him, pronouncing them carefully, while the other man's delicate fingers raked through his hair. Hyungwon's ear was pressed flat to the muscular chest and he listened to each heartbeat, wishing for one thing only.

That there was a book without a last page.

 

Chapter Text

His fingertips were careful as they travelled past the older man's beautiful body and reached for his phone that lay on the bedside table. It was 5 a.m., the perfect time to wake up and make sure he got home before Jimin was aware that he hadn't come home.

Your fascination with the boa is not an excuse to become irresponsible.

It wasn't, but he still did it. Those black eyes and warm hands easily convinced him to give in, to knock on the concrete wall and hope for an answer. Right now, the blonde man was asleep, messy strands covering the white pillow and one arm arranged above his head. Hoseok's armpit was smooth and Hyungwon considered kissing it until he remembered that the older man slept lightly.

You should use the opportunity to take care of yourself for as long as you can.

Climbing out from under the warm blanket, he slipped into his jeans and shirt, brushed through his messy curls and even found something vaguely skin colored that he used to smear under his eyes. He didn't want Jimin to be worried.

Leaning against the door, it felt unusual to be awake while Hoseok slept. There were only a few such moments that Hyungwon remembered. The first one he considered a dream for weeks and the second resulted in hot arms around his middle, pulling him into an embrace.

You like the second scenario more, but you don't want to steal his sleep.

Smiling to himself, he made his way towards the desk and grabbed a post it note and a pen, scribbling a short message on it.

'Even if you asked me now, I would still decide to be the boa's prey. The forbidden fruit is too sweet to be me, but I'm not bitter enough to stay away. I hope to see you soon, Hoseok.'

He signed the note even though it wasn't necessary and left it on top of his favorite book, lying on the bedside table. Hoseok was still sleeping soundly right next to it, curved lips slightly parted and eyes moving behind closed lids. He must be dreaming.

Maybe it's about you.

The knowledge that Hoseok planned on changing his goal and promised to focus on fighting climate change was enough to be ecstatic, but having the older man kiss him desperately and ask for an embrace stole his breath away. The first few stones had crumbled and Hyungwon felt like he only needed to reach out through the hole it created to touch the fear he could fight as soon as he grabbed it.

Maybe you can show him that attachment can be a good thing, you have so much of it.

Glancing at Hoseok's sleeping form, he contemplated kissing him goodbye, but decided not to, remembering that the older man was a light sleeper.

You will have enough opportunities to kiss him from now on.

_

 

'Blaise Pascal studied fluid hydrodynamics and hydrostatics, centered on the principles of hydraulic fluids. His discovery-'

Hyungwon's eyes followed the same line for what felt like the fifth time and he sighed out loud. Maybe it was better to give up on studying for the night. His brain was mush after several lectures, work, the talk show and his attempts to console Jimin when he picked him up from kindergarten.

His little brother had argued with another child and pushed them because he wasn't able to communicate properly. Hyungwon had tried his best to be the replacement for a parent and explain why getting physical wasn't okay, but he was eighteen and had no fucking idea what he was doing.

Hoseok would probably know what to say.

Currently Jimin was refusing to go to bed and played with the colorful cars that Hannah had given him as a present during the festival. The bright red t-shirt with a cookie on it looked unusual on the little boy, but Hyungwon smiled at how easy so many things had become because Hoseok got involved.

"Want me to join?" he asked with a grin and closed his hydraulics book with a loud slap. There was no way that he could remember anything in his current state. Crossing the tiny room that the three of them shared, he lay on the carpet next to Jimin and reached for a small blue car. "Where are we going to travel?"

"To Germany!" his little brother exclaimed happily and drove his red car into another green one with force. Hyungwon felt warm about the mention of Germany, even if Jimin symbolized it with a car crash. He had attempted to tell the boy about their travels before, the fact that they were safe and had a place to stay. It must have left an impression on Jimin.

"Will we go there and live happily?" he asked and drove his own car towards Jimin's rather brutal crash. A glance to the side revealed his dad who was sitting on a chair, looking at photos the way he did every day at his time. He wasn't paying attention to them, too occupied staring at the few things that were left of their life back then.

"Yes, with Hana and Sok." Jimin looked cheerful as he waved around his tiny hands and added a few more colorful cars, probably for Hannah and Hoseok. Hyungwon was happy that Jimin included them, as if they were a part of their life now.

"Yeah, they should be there too," he whispered and barely contained the warmth that took over in his chest, making him want to rush out and go to Hoseok's apartment. He had only left it in the morning, it was crazy to be so greedy. Hoseok had told him that he was busy, there was no need to overdo it.

His father's voice caught his attention, rough from not being used much.

"A letter came for you." A white envelope was pushed towards the edge of the table, but his father didn't comment anything else, merely switching to the next page. "Don't crash the cars too loudly, Hyungwon."

"He's Jimin," he murmured, but didn't dare to say it loud enough. It wasn't the first time and he merely took the white envelope and peeled out the formally written letter. It was complex German, but mostly consisted of an explanation on how their income was going to change after leaving the refugee home.

Are they making us leave?

Hyungwon's eyes widened and he struggled to remain calm and hide the worry that rose inside his throat in the form of bile. He didn’t have any idea where to live if they couldn't stay at the refugee home anymore.

Maybe you need to look for an apartment because the time is over?

He returned the letter to the table and took a few deep breaths to think clearly, strategically the way Hoseok had taught him. Leaving the refugee home had advantages and Hyungwon only had to figure them out, find a way to look for an apartment and move in without paying too much money.

You can do this, you are effective and maybe your popularity will cause people to be nicer to you.

Hyungwon wasn't sure, but he felt positive about the chance to leave and be independent, at least partially.

You will be able to work legally and might even make more money to support them.

The thought cheered him up and was only interrupted by the sound of a bell. His whole body jerked at the sound, shocked because not even once had their bell rung. There had never been a reason for anybody to come to them. Even his father looked up from the photos to focus on the door.

Hyungwon stumbled over a few cars as he jumped up to open the door, but Jimin was faster, pushing down the handle and staring at the person in front of the door. Instead of being surprised or shocked, his little brother wrapped himself around a slim, tights-covered leg, rubbing his small face over it.

Maybe you’re the only one who never heard the bell ring because you're never here.

Hannah looked lost, but stroked over his brother's head and told him that she was happy to see him, before her eyes found him. She looked as if she had been crying.

"Oh, hey Hyungwon, I'm sorry that I came unannounced, but you didn't pick up your phone. Do you have a minute for me?"

"I-" Hyungwon glanced down at Jimin and back towards his father at the small table, hoping that it was okay to leave them for a few moments. "Sure."

The dread creeping up from the pit of his stomach suggested several scenarios that might have explained Hannah's sudden appearance. Hyungwon liked none of them, but he couldn't be weak now, not with his family around.

He smiled at Jimin and told him to introduce their father to the cars, waiting for the little boy to nod and run off after a few complaints and arguments that he also wanted to play with Hannah.

There was no way to have privacy in their tiny room with the exception of the bathroom, so Hyungwon slipped out and placed a hand on Hannah's shoulder, leading her to one of the common rooms. It was late and the inhabitants rarely used the facilities, preferring to stay among themselves.

"What happened?" he asked as soon as the door closed behind them and his eyes met Hannah's slightly swollen face. The way her eyes glistened undoubtedly revealed that she had been crying.

What the hell managed to make her cry like this?

"I thought you might know where he is," the woman whispered, shaking a little and hugging her own waist desperately.

Hoseok, she means Hoseok.

"What do you mean by that? He was sleeping in his apartment this morning, he can't have just disappeared. Maybe he's busy, I'm sure there is a lot to do, he said so." Hyungwon was barely aware that he was speaking quicker than usual, heart hammering in his chest and hands sweating. He tried to wipe them off on his jeans as he walked to one end of the room before returning to Hannah, feeling anxiety grasping for his self-control. "I'm sure he's fine," he added, meant to convince himself more than the woman in front of him.

Hannah rubbed her arms and sucked in a long breath before speaking. "He hasn’t come to work for the past three days and texted me that he was on holiday after I asked, but he’s never taken a holiday before, you know? However, today people started cleaning out his office, so I went to HR and they told me that he resigned a week ago. His number doesn't exist anymore and he rented out his apartment, there is nothing in there apart from furniture and I tried to find out what happened, but he rented it to you and your family, so I thought you knew where he was. I'm so terrified, Hyungwon, I'm so scared that he's gone. I think he's gone. Please tell me that you know where he is." The words were accompanied by tears that rolled down the woman's pink cheeks as Hoseok's sister reached out and curled her fingers around his arm.

He left, without you.

Hyungwon didn't know what to do, mind dizzy as he struggled to make sense from Hannah's scrambled words. It sounded like a bad joke, a prank in which Hoseok hid from him and even his sister then surprise them both by reappearing with a wide smile on his face and notes that showed how well he had planned it all.

He planned it well, but it's not a prank.

His chest constricted and he struggled to breathe, mind frantically searching for a hint at where the older man could be, any clue that told Hyungwon where to find him. There wasn't anything, Hoseok had allowed the wall to crumble only to disappear right after. The boa had shown Hyungwon what's behind its shell to leave it behind.

It was a glimpse of something that you were never meant to keep.

His breaths sounded ragged as he forced himself to stay strong, to deal with what was happening the way he had dealt with so many things before. It should have been easy with how much practice he had over the past years as he wrapped his arms around Hannah and pulled her close, stroking over her long black hair. Hyungwon wished he could have said something, anything to make her feel better, a truth that calmed her down and made her less worried.

But you don't know where he is. He left you behind, the same way he left her and everything you believed him to care about.

"I don't know," he whispered and hated the way his voice trembled, revealing that he was losing his composure the same way the woman in his arms had. "I have no idea where he is. I thought- I thought he was going to change his focus, but I didn't think that meant he wasn't going to include me, or you, or anybody he should care about."

"Our dad is going crazy trying to find him, but he wasn't able to and he has crazy contacts, I don't know what to do. I asked everyone I know, but they know nothing, so I thought because of the rental contract you might know more. Dad said they had a disagreement but Hoseok isn't someone to leave only because of a small conflict. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do now." The woman cried in his arms, shaking and holding onto him desperately.

"I didn't know about the rental contract," he replied quietly and thought of the letter he had read only moments ago, wondering why they were being forced to leave the refugee home. Hoseok had provided rental accommodation for them even though nobody wanted to take in refugees. "Hoseok isn't somebody who would let himself be found if he doesn't want to. He- agreed to work against climate change, I was with him last night. He… seemed different, but I didn't think it meant he was going to-"

He wasn't able to finish his sentence, lips trembling from the onslaught of hurt that washed over him. The same kind of pain he felt the day he froze in Hoseok's shower, never expecting to feel again. It didn't make sense, why would Hoseok open up only to disappear again? Did the blonde man know all along that he was going to leave? Accepting Hyungwon in and giving him a genuine smile, sharing his plans, only to disappear and leave him nothing, nothing at all. His eyes burned and he barely kept himself upright, hugging the woman in his arms tighter in the hope that he could stay strong, be a pillar for her while feeling like he was falling apart.

How are you supposed to be without him now? He can't just leave. You told him so many times why it matters, why it's okay. Did it not matter at all?

A sob escaped his throat and he dug his blunt nails into his palm, still embracing Hannah while fighting the tears that collected in his eyes. He couldn't do this, not when he was supposed to be functional and take care of his family and Hoseok's sister. There was only one person that didn't need him to fight all the time, a person that had left him now.

Again.

"I'm going to go to his apartment now, I haven’t looked through everything yet, maybe I'll find something. I'm so sorry that I bothered you with this, Hyungwon, you must be busy with moving." Sobbing, Hannah leaned back and cupped his face, rubbing away his tears. "You like him a lot, don't you?"

The question was too much, too fucking much. The words immediately pulled out every single time he dared to tell the boa that he cared, how being with him seemed safe despite all the warnings Hyungwon had been confronted with. It must have seemed funny to the older man, listening to his confessions while embracing him, kissing him, touching him even while knowing exactly that he planned on leaving the next day.

Just like devouring a prey and leaving an empty shell behind.

"Asshole," he sobbed and sank to his knees, yearning to turn away from Hannah and hide his breakdown but he wasn't able to. "That fucking asshole. I didn't care that he wanted to fuck me over, but this? This is the worst, the fucking worst. What am I even supposed to do now? He should have pushed me away at least, fuck."

"Fuck you over? What do you mean?"

Hyungwon couldn't focus, hands blindly reaching for the carpet and scratching over it as tears ran down his face without a break and his throat felt too swollen to breathe properly. He felt so fucking helpless, just like back then when his mother died and the first time Hoseok disappeared.

But this time there is nobody who can find him for you, not even Hannah.

"He was with me to set me up for a scandal that would destroy our activist movement, he told me yesterday. That doesn't even matter to me, I knew that despite doing that he- he cared somehow, but-" He rubbed over his eyes and didn't dare to look up and reveal the mess that he was. He didn't want to show anybody, he couldn't let anybody see him like this, especially not Hannah who needed his support. "It wasn't enough to stay."

"L… Listen, Hyungwon, he cared. I know that he did, the way he tried to help you and your family behind the scenes was what made me think you knew where he was. I don't know what's going on inside his head, but he must've thought it was rational enough to leave everything behind. You said he wanted to be active in climate change, but… wouldn't he appear in some group or something? He can't just disappear, right?"

He can if he wants to, because the boa works alone.

Suddenly Hannah pulled her phone from her handbag and accepted the incoming call with shaky fingers.

"Do you have something, dad?" she asked and seemed to listen, face turning pale the more time passed. "I… I didn't know, I don't know, dad, I… I'll call you later," Hannah murmured and hung up before sinking to the floor next to him.

"Did you know that he's the boa?" she whispered barely audible in the long hallway.

Hyungwon felt the blood leave his face as quickly as it had the older woman's. There was no way to deny that he knew, so he nodded, fingers tightening in the carpet as he struggled to breathe. If Hoseok didn't want to be found, then there was no way of finding him, not unless there was a hint.

You have nothing, he gave you nothing to find him. He opened up and showed you what's beyond the wall to take it all away.

Hoseok had kept telling him that he wanted to teach him so he could pick himself up afterwards, be strong enough to manage on his own. It hadn't made sense before and yesterday Hyungwon had concluded that it was in case Hoseok used him as a scapegoat after all.

He meant this, didn't he?

It didn't matter what Hoseok believed he was capable of doing, he wasn't, not when the one person that was on his mind for months suddenly disappeared from the face of his earth.

Just like everything you care about, it always disappears and you sit at the edge, watching it drown.

The sobs that left his throat were pathetic and he used his right hand to cover his face, vision turning blurry.

"You won't find him, not if he doesn't want to be found. He let go of his skin to start anew, the same way he did after Tibet."

You are attachment and he's abandoning you, the same way he abandoned his hurt back then.

"That's not even the point," Hannah whispered and looked up at him. "My father said that there were at least fifteen people he reported to the police with enough evidence to convict them and they are all important company employees. He said that there are reports coming in every hour and asked me to stop him, but I don't know how to stop him if he's gone."

"You can't stop him," Hyungwon whispered and brushed over his eyes, forcing himself to look at Hannah. "If he decided to remove criminals from the company there is nothing you can do. He has evidence on more people than you can imagine and he would never submit anything in person. Not even the police will be able to find him."

He took your goal, but abandoned you along with attachment.

That must have been what the older man meant, convinced that Hyungwon's attachment wasn't only his to bear. It had become too much for Hoseok, so he let himself have a taste before abandoning him along with everything else.

"Shit," he hissed when another wave of hurt felt like it was about to crush him, choking him with icy hands while reminding him of all the emotions he felt whenever he was next to the blonde man. It was torture, how could being set up hurt as badly as this did? He shouldn't have convinced the older man to change his goal, not if it meant that he would leave.

He decided before you, he knew it all along, before you came and presented your goal. It didn't matter to him anymore, he was ready to be close to you and to leave right after.

It was pathetic but Hyungwon's mind returned to the moment before he left the blonde man's apartment, contemplating kissing him before his departure. Hoseok had known all along that Hyungwon wouldn't see him again and left him in the naive belief there were so many opportunities to be close, to talk and to touch.

"Fuck, what is he even thinking? I understand criminals but why would he touch Mark? They were really close during their high school years and I think they even had something going on, before he went to Tibet. I don't know anymore. I was right when I said that I don't know him. You seem to know more about him than I do." The slim woman hugged her waist and bit down on her bottom lip.

Hyungwon held his breath and reached out, maybe that was what Hoseok had hoped for, that the people he cared about would help each other as he left them behind to keep himself from harm. The thought caused blood to boil in Hyungwon's veins, but he held back, embracing the slim woman instead.

He was close to Mark before going to Tibet?

Hyungwon's eyes widened and his mind immediately returned the pure terror he had felt as those filthy hands touched him against his will, returning bile to his throat.

"He hurt him," he whispered and clenched his fists. "That fucker hurt him, that's why he went to Tibet. He hurt him and then he hurt me. Hoseok must have- oh god." His breath hitched and he tried to make sense of everything, of the calm with which Hoseok had told him about the people at the talk show and how emotional the older man had seemed in the hospital. The two of them were close later, touches that helped Hyungwon to forget, but it must have been difficult for Hoseok, knowing that it was the same person.

But why didn't he report him before?

"He wanted to get rid of him before, he said so, but something must have stopped him. But it shouldn't be a reason to start over, unless all this time he was hoping for revenge that didn't work out. I don't know, Hannah, I only know what he allowed me to see. I can't be without him."

You're a shell he left behind, void of everything that matters.

"You know, he always said that there is nothing that he needs to live apart from food, water and air and if there was, he would cut it off to show himself that it's a lie. I guess that's what happened to you. I can't think right now, I'm going to go to his apartment. Call me if you find something, or if you need help with Jimin. Now that I think about it, Hoseok must've given you the apartment because it's close to his kindergarten and the place you work in the afternoons." Hannah got up, eyes unfocused and face pale. Brushing over her skirt absentmindedly, the slim woman glanced around.

He gave you the apartment and a glimpse behind the shell, but he didn't leave her anything.

"He didn't want to hurt you through what he does," he murmured, but stayed where he was. "That's why he didn't tell you anything. You are the only person he cared about, his only weakness as he wanted to protect you. He only allowed me in because you told him to. It's me, I must have done something to make him leave."

"Yes. He probably needed you to live," Hannah whispered and stroked over his hair affectionately, sad smile remaining on her pretty face. "But I understand him. It just hurts so much."

Hyungwon looked up at her, remaining on his knees on the ground as a perfect depiction of his helplessness. To Hannah, Hoseok was her brother, but what claim did Hyungwon have to say that the older man mattered to him, more than anybody else?

Nothing, you should have been a nobody to him, a scapegoat. To you he was so much, a teacher, a friend, the one person you dared to be close to.

"Leaving doesn't make it hurt any less," he whispered and bit down on his bottom lip, enough to break the skin. "Maybe he needed me to live, but not enough to want to stay alive."

"He's an egoistic asshole," Hannah hissed and hugged him one last time before disappearing down the long hallway without any further comment.

Hyungwon remained on the floor, feeling tears collect in his eyes and drip onto the colorful carpet, leaving dark drops that appeared just as foreign as he felt in his own skin. He knew helplessness, he did, it hurt and showed him that life really ripped the things that mattered away from him in a matter of seconds, but not even once had these things left willingly.

The longer he sat on the floor and fought the pain in his chest, attempting to calm down and be functional, to take care of his little brother the way he had to, the more he realized that his feelings weren't typical. Why would somebody that he had known for only a few months make such a difference? Was it the fact that they touched and kissed? Was it the warning Hoseok had given him, that being hurt by somebody he shared his first experiences with was going to be so much worse?

It doesn't matter what it is. He left and it feels like he took away a half of you, abandoning an empty shell he expects to be functional.

Hoseok was good at his predictions, but he failed with this one.

_

 

"How does it feel to see your mortal enemy be ripped to shreds in front of your eyes?" Sasha was clicking through various TV channels while placing dried vegetable chips into her mouth, eyes mostly fixed on him instead of the screen.

Hyungwon wasn't sure how to reply to that. It should have mattered to him, given him a feeling of power over the company he had been fighting for the past year, but instead of triumph it just reminded him of the sacrifice he had to make for it.

You'd rather have him with you still than see VADB crumble.

"I don't know," he replied and brushed through his black hair, knees pulled to his chest and mind blank.

Hoseok was wrong. The blonde man had been convinced that Hyungwon could simply focus on his own goals, keep fighting climate change and demonstrating, using the momentum of the strong push the boa had given him. Instead of jumping, he was desperately holding onto the chains, bruising his hands on the rusty metal as he glanced back to see him, to identify the source of the momentum through the fog.

You've seen it, but turning around is what took him away from you.

"I've never seen you like this, Hyungwon." Sasha turned off the TV, silencing the news anchors saying the same thing while showing the faces of the men Hoseok had reported to the police. It was like a strategic game, a new person every two days. Had Hyungwon not considered himself irrelevant to the workings of society, he might have feared for himself and his family.

His best friend looked concerned as she crawled towards him on the couch and played with his long fingers, stroking along them and pulling at the thumb when he didn't look up.

"Me neither," he replied and chuckled. It sounded dark.

She's right, you've never allowed yourself to be like this for longer than five minutes under the shower.

Hoseok disappeared, so he had no chance to keep his weakness to himself anymore, it was overflowing, enough to fill one bathtub after the other. His mind wasn't able to let go of the last night he was allowed to be with the blonde man, the desperate way with which Hoseok had embraced him. It seemed like the boa hadn't wanted to let go of him either, but why did it? Why was it necessary to leave?

Hannah told you, he is proving to himself that he is untouchable, hurting you in the process.

"I hate him," he whispered and clenched his fist, realizing that Hoseok had spoken the same words to him. Both had never been true.

Did you make him feel this helpless too? As if your chest is ripping apart and the only person that knows how to pick up the pieces left.

"You don't," Sasha whispered and wrapped her soft arms around him. Her curly hair tickled his nose and he sniffed, only belatedly realizing that his emotions took over him. It felt so unfair, like he wasn't allowed to partake in the decision whether he wanted to see Hoseok or not.

That is what he meant, your attachment isn't only yours.

"I can't believe he left, Sasha, just like that. Did all of this mean nothing? Nothing at all? He even opened up during the last day, he seemed so desperate when he embraced me, as if he didn't want to leave either. Why did he? Why the fuck did he leave then?"

Silence stretched between them, only interrupted by Hyungwon's pathetic sobs while a warm hand stroked over his head. It was always the same, Hyungwon cracked and needed somebody else to take care of him, to stroke over his head to make him feel safe. What made Hoseok so fucking different that he couldn't be without him? Hyungwon survived so many things, lost so much on the run to Germany, why did it hurt so much?

"You must really like him. Have you thought about that, Hyungwon?" His best friend's voice was careful but insistent, like she didn't want to scare him but blocked the escape route.

"I hate him," he repeated, but it sounded even emptier than the first time. "I don't know what to do, I've never felt this way. Even when my mother died I was less of a wreck than this, Sasha. What kind of terrible person am I?"

"One that is in love." Brown eyes met his as his friend brushed a few curls from his forehead, staring him down as his eyes widened.

"But he's a guy," he mumbled, not sure what else to say. Hoseok seemed more like a role model, somebody he looked up to and not a man he was able to meet as an equal the way he had always imagined a relationship. He was a child to Hoseok, a puppy.

"I doubt that is your main concern. You talk in your sleep sometimes." Sasha shrugged as if it meant nothing and grabbed another chip, sprinkling salt on the wound.

"I- I was trying to deal with my fear," he tried next, but it hurt him to say it. As if each time he leaned in and kissed Hoseok's lips had been to abandon his fear of being touched. It wasn't. He wasn't afraid next to the blonde man, he hadn't been afraid for a long time.

You wanted him to, you kissed him because you wanted to and you let him touch you because you trust him and wanted to be touched.

"That makes you sound like an asshole. Why would you be close to a gay man only to fight your fear, convinced you won't develop feelings? That's a dick move, it's like you telling me 'I'll fuck you because I'm scared of pussy'." His best friend's red lips pulled into a thin line and she furrowed her eyebrows. Hyungwon winced at her words, immediately regretting his own.

"I- god, I don't know, Sasha. I just went with what felt right. It doesn't mean that I fell in love with a man," he mumbled and tried to hide his face with his palms, but Sasha didn't let him, holding onto his wrists and staring at him with narrowed eyes.

"It does, Hyungwon. That's exactly what it fucking means. I never said anything because I figured you must have had some bad experiences, especially when you fainted when Marcel touched your shoulder, but how can you deny this? You're miserable because you miss him and if you were the Hyungwon I know, you'd acknowledge it and do everything to find him. What are you an activist for? Definitely not moping around and feeling helpless." A smile passed the pretty girl's lips and she slapped his cheek lightly before wrapping her arms around him and squeezing as tightly as she could.

He struggled to breathe, but the embrace felt better than the emptiness that had accompanied him the whole last week. Hyungwon hadn't been able to stop thinking about Hoseok. He had even failed an exam and that had never happened to him before, not even once. No matter how much time passed the emotions stayed and even if he didn't break down crying as he did on the first day, the tears merely transformed into a dull ache in his chest. An ache that told him he was a puppy and puppies weren't meant to be close to a boa.

Because boas are always alone.

"But I can't be in love with him, he left," he mumbled, feeling the hurt slip to the surface as his voice turned rough and he was forced to swallow. "He left me."

"I don't know him well enough, Shepherd, but even if he had a good reason for leaving, it's worth finding him and forcing it out of him. He doesn't like you? Fine, then that is something you have to deal with, but not even allowing a person clarity is the worst. Like this you will never know if he left because he's scared or because he doesn't want you." His best friend let go of him and pressed a glass of cucumber water into his hand, nodding in support. "Drink, crying dehydrates you."

"But... even if I find him, what am I supposed to do?" Hyungwon shook his head, but drank some of the liquid anyway. It seemed like the older man cared about him, like he wanted to be close too, but if that was the case, what were the consequences of meeting again? Kissing a man and being close is one thing, but being in love was a whole new level Hyungwon hadn't thought about. It meant that the pain wasn't going to leave him, not this quickly and not unless he at least knew why Hoseok left him behind.

He can't be indifferent towards you, for that he was too desperate kissing you.

"You'll do what you always do, give him a fucking speech on his behavior and hope he'll reconsider. Make sure to take a megaphone." Sasha grinned and fist bumped his chest, forcing him to cough, which in turn made her laugh. "We'll find him, Hyungwon. A guy that hot and important can't just disappear from the face of the earth."

Will it be okay? Can you really find him and make him reconsider?

The longer Hyungwon thought about it, the more utopian it sounded. Hoseok was a single person in a world with billions of people. Despite his influence he had never had a public appearance and only talked to his targets. There was no way of finding him serendipitously.

You have to identify possible targets for his goals and see if you can find him anywhere close.

The thought caused an adrenaline rush and Hyungwon had to hold onto the couch to remain steady.

"Got a motivational rush, Shepherd? That's more like you." Sasha had already grabbed her laptop and arranged her short legs on top of the dining room table, naked feet wiggling when she caught him looking. "I can't believe you managed to deny liking him while having your tongue inside his mouth. How is that even possible?"

Hyungwon felt himself blanch, but didn't say anything, holding onto the couch tightly in an attempt to remain in place instead of running away. He knew that it was stupid and nothing dangerous was happening, but he had spent such a long time beating himself up over enjoying hands on his body that ended up hurting him, that the mere thought of being in love with a man revolted him. It did, but he couldn't apply it to Hoseok. It felt like the older man was something else, a safe place that his anxiety wasn't able to reach anymore. Hyungwon didn't care whether Hoseok was a man or not, he only cared about the fact that he had left and the mere fact ripped him apart.

"We have to find him," he whispered and ignored the rest, thinking about every possible person Hoseok might consider his next target. Remembering the beautiful man lying in bed, asleep and vulnerable, he couldn't help but regret walking out of that door.

The odds are against you, but when were they not?

 

***

 

 

The weather was amazing and not too hot, considering it was one week into August. Time passed so fast when one had something to do and Hoseok made sure to be unable to keep himself on his feet when he came home. It was one of those days, when he struggled to jump down from his bike because he had ridden from the west to the east of Berlin and his thighs were just about to give up functioning. Groaning at the prospect of walking up eight flights of stairs, he finally managed and rubbed over his jeans, as if to soothe his legs and convince them to give their best until he reached his tiny one room apartment.

It smelled like marihuana, but it always did, so he sighed as usual and slipped out of his shoes. It took exactly two steps to step into his improvised kitchen, to pour the beans into the grinder and add the special spices that the person occupying his mind left in his apartment before hurrying back to his home. Right before he ceased to exist for Hoseok, in his reality and his proximity. Only the familiar taste of coffee remained on his lips and he made sure to put just a little of the mixture inside and enjoy only a cup a day, so that the feeling and the accompanying memories would last longer.

Is it okay to be attached to the taste?

It probably wasn’t, but he couldn’t bring himself to throw it away and he didn’t want to do it either. The taste brought him quite some pain, but he almost got used to the constricting feeling that overcame him when he took a sip of the delicious coffee and turned on his small laptop to watch the news. Seeing the black locks and the big, brown eyes, glancing at the camera once in a while was hard, but such is life.

He still doesn’t know how to deal with cameras.

Smiling to himself, Hoseok crossed his legs on the carpet and asked himself why he still hadn’t bought a couch. However, after looking around, he remembered that it wouldn’t fit into his fifteen square meter palace he rented from a local artist. Sure, he was used to a big apartment and a huge car, but cutting everything off required a lot of change and he made it, throwing off his previous skin and returning to himself. The boa. A person who didn’t need anything besides a goal.

You are doing well with your goal.

He was. After removing most of the key people from VADB, the company turned into a chaotic mess. He kept one eye on Hannah through an informant, but it hurt, so he hired a headhunter to get her out of there as quickly as possible. Regarding the beautifully tanned man that was talking about sustainability into the camera in his attractive low voice… Hoseok tried to get used to the fact that he was only going to see the stunning face through his 13 inch laptop screen. That was more than he should’ve allowed himself, but his goal gave him the excuse of monitoring his activities without butting in too much.

And still you send them anonymous emails all the time with poster drafts and advice. The ten email addresses won’t be enough if you continue like this.

Sighing, he glanced at the moderator that didn’t deserve any of his interest and opened the draft he prepared for the parliamentary expert commission on refugees and checked whether his explanations made sense. Being in Berlin had a few advantages, like cheap housing, if one was in a refugee quarter and the fact that he could ride his bike to the parliament building without any problems. He didn’t need informants anymore and his name was always changed on official papers. It was fortunate that he could work in peace.

The hitmen hadn’t found you yet.

They hadn’t, although he was expecting it because exposing half of the VADB directors was a dangerous move, but not comparable to what was about to come. Fortunately, it was harder to track him down now because he was working independently. The money that he received from his consulting company was more than enough to get by and he didn’t need anything else.

You do, but you’re good at depriving yourself.

It made no sense that he still thought about an eighteen-year-old refugee boy. His mind should’ve been emptied out already. It had been weeks since he saw the figure disappear down his hallway. He had only been feigning sleep and had seen the stupid note that he put on the last page of the book he had read to Hyungwon before leaving for good.

Dramatic.

Lifting his hands to his hair, he ruffled it up and groaned, before doing fifty push-ups to punish himself for thinking about things he shouldn’t be thinking about. The punishment worked well because he gained about five kilograms of muscle mass during the past few weeks.

Because you keep thinking about him.

The rest of his coffee disappeared between his lips before he brushed his teeth and crawled into his bed that took up most of the space in his tiny flat. Sometimes he wondered how he had managed to leave every single thing behind, even the grey shirt that Hyungwon had left in his apartment after changing into the new clothes before the talk at VADB. He remembered smelling it briefly and leaving it in his wardrobe along with quite some clothes that he bought. However, his mind was at fault. It was all safely stored in there. The smell of the shirt, the bright smile that turned the thick lips into a heart-shaped line, the long fingers reaching for his face and the look in Hyungwon’s eyes while he did. Vulnerable and naked.

He was always bare for you, ready to be bitten or hurt.

His chest constricted at the thought and he normalized his breathing with a familiar exercise that he learned at the meditation temple in Tibet. There was no use in crying or feeling sad about his own decisions. They were right and he would have done the same if he had another chance. Apart from maybe one single unnecessary little thing.

You would have kissed him before he left.

_

 

He felt excited but also a little nervous because he was going to the parliament building to present his proposal that he’d worked on for the past three weeks. This was a big one and way harder to push through compared to his usual projects. It was about giving money and ensuring basic human rights for a group that didn't have a lobby.

Well, now they do. They have you.

Hoseok smiled while locking his bike a few blocks away. He was still careful due to the few times he was followed by a car. Riding a bike has saved him so many times because he could go against the traffic and a big SUV couldn't compare with his flexibility and reaction times.

They probably want to hurt you, intimidate you, or get some of your information, but you keep it all safe.

Nodding to himself, he showed his pass and walked through the metal detector while security scanned his bag. Smiling at him, his informant wished him success as he took his belongings and moved towards the conference rooms.

It's the least you can do. Give your best.

The meeting room was packed and he tried his best to suppress his nervousness when it was his turn to speak. Hoseok presented the case calmly, without any hint of obsession and used previously constructed arguments to highlight how an improvement could even save money for the government and create a better image regarding foreign affairs and acceptance from citizens. It seemed to work as he received a loud round of applause while getting seated and waiting for a decision.

He looked so helpless when Jimin got hurt.

Hoseok was thankful that the thought hadn't disturbed him when he was presenting, however, even now it made him feel too much, was too vivid and forced his body to react to the emotions that it carried. The members of the Parliament voted while he stared into nothing and hoped that the all-nighters paid off, that he could achieve something apart from destruction for the first time after cutting everything off, abandoning his skin and leaving so many things behind.

You need to prove to yourself that you're still the boa. Exposing the criminals didn't help in satisfying it.

The loud applause after the announcement was deafening, it was a hairsbreadth victory for him, and he released the air that he had kept in his lungs in a relieved sigh.

They will get what they deserved from the start and you know that you were the one that made it possible.

He felt proud for the first time since forever, knowing that he had achieved something by himself without the help of his father, money or the company he worked for. After shaking what felt like a thousand hands, he finally left the parliament building, walking past all the media outlets, knowing that his decisions had been right, that he did well cutting off everything and leaving.

Attachment is the worst, he thought while trying to separate his euphoria from the hurt that mixed in with it, painting it grey instead of the pretty colors that should've been there.

 

_

 

Almost a week had passed and his achievement was still all over the news. He felt unsure whether it was okay to be this proud, but on the other hand, there was no one to judge him for it. He even participated in a street celebration, organized by refugees in his quarter and decided to sponsor some food and drinks without standing in the spotlight too much.

They were so thankful.

Strolling through the streets and watching the people celebrate something that should have been theirs from the start made him cheerful. The prospect that someone like Hyungwon's father finally had access to mental health care was amazing and made him happy, putting a smile on his lips, mixed with the familiar constricting feeling.

But you saw him on the news, he's doing fine without you.

The black-haired man, who was only allowed to exist in his reality as a moving figure in the news, did indeed do well and must have listened to his advice. Hoseok witnessed one success after another, cheering silently in front of his tiny laptop screen while sitting on the grey carpet in his one room apartment in Berlin Neukölln.

He exists there and you exist here. The attachment is only harmful if you're confronted with it. Right?

Hoseok wanted to go home, to look at the recent news reports to see whether the curly black hair would appear in any of them, he silently hoped so even though he knew so well that cutting the loose ends off meant that he shouldn't have cared about them any longer.

Attachment is the worst.

He felt his lips spread in a brief smile, confirming his own judgment while he walked through the many people celebrating and finally arrived at his building. The front door was open, but it wasn't unusual, especially considering the festival that was going on outside, so he stepped inside, walking up the stairs steadily.

Something isn't right.

There were shifting sounds coming from the fifth floor. His floor.

They found you.

His heartbeat hammered so fast in his ribcage that it almost seemed as if someone was able to hear it, if they listened well enough. Moving like a snake, Hoseok slid along the wall until he could see a figure dressed in black that was looking at the wrong name that he put on his bell.

Now or never.

Jumping up the rest of the stairs, he wrapped his hands around the man's neck and pressed down against the first few seconds of resistance and muscle tension, ignoring the nails that were buried in his arm. His hands shook when the man collapsed on the floor face down and he tried to think about a solution before the hitman regained consciousness.

You need to know who sent him.

Crouching down, Hoseok pulled down the hood and grabbed a fistful of hair to identify the intruder. However, instead of cold calmness there was terror spreading in his chest as he let go. He shivered as he stared at the red marks on the man's neck.

Fuck, Hoseok. What are you supposed to do now?

 

Chapter Text

 

"It's so big!"

Hyungwon listened to the tiny feet, that sounded as if they belonged to an elephant, stomping on the wooden floors and smiled at Jimin's antics. They had spent the past few days moving and even though he would have preferred to use the time for his news search, it was relaxing to do something else for once.

In addition, you are able to see him this happy.

Jimin was ecstatic, jumping around and rolling on the couch once or twice until he almost ran into a bookshelf and grabbed a random book, pretending that he could read it. The apartment was familiar to him, but it also felt strange to have his family sit on the leather couch, walk to the kitchen to open the fridge, or simply mess up Hoseok's book order.

You still think of it as his.

Because it was. Everything about it screamed Hoseok, the books, the coffee machine, the bed where the older man had stroked over his ribs and embraced him. The desk where Hyungwon had found the notebook and got pressed into the wall, believing it to be a dream for weeks. So many things had happened in the older man's apartment that he couldn't erase them easily.

He caught himself feeling thankful that they didn't own much and barely needed help moving. Hannah had thrown everything into her car and easily brought them to their new home.

She's busy too, changing jobs and leaving the wreck that Hoseok had turned VADB into.

The constant reports on the news and parliamentary discussions were enough to know that Hoseok was alive and working towards his goal, that the blonde man was somewhere out there, only waiting to be found.

He probably doesn't want to be found, but you're going to try anyway.

Jimin found a glass vase and threw it on top of the couch, still giggling and Hyungwon almost suffered a heart attack as he ran over and took the beautiful object away from his brother's chubby fingers. In the refugee home they had no space, but at least there had been nothing for Jimin to find and break.

Hoseok wouldn't care anyway, he probably abandoned this place along with everything else.

A glance at the wardrobe revealed a few shirts that were definitely Hoseok's and a suit he had seen the older man wear. Hyungwon's heart was hammering in his chest as he reached out and smelled the fabric, thankful that nobody could see him. The mixture of sweet detergent was thick, but when he closed his eyes he could still smell Hoseok, wrapping his strong arms around him and smelling his hair.

Fuck.

His chest constricted and he suppressed a sob, quickly shutting the wardrobe door and refocusing his attention on the desk. He didn't need long to open the drawer he remembered being important. His hope to find a hint about Hoseok's whereabouts died along with the lack of important documents. Only a black leather notebook was still there, pushed towards the far end.

Licking over his lips in anticipation, Hyungwon pulled it out and inspected it intently. He didn't need long to recognize Hoseok's second notebook, bought to replace the one with the boa on the cover. His exhales got more frequent as he opened it quickly and skimmed the pages.

It was about him again, but there wasn't any important information or a strategy on how to fuck him over. After looking closer, he recognized that it was a list of the things he had told the older man. Facts about his daily life, like not having any insurance, about work, living in a refugee home and studying without a passport. Instead of plans to set him up, Hoseok had scribbled strategies to solve all those problems into the black notebook. It was the manual for making his life better. The words 'moving into your apartment will solve the issue with the illegal part-time job' stared at him from the last page.

It's for you, he left it on purpose.

Hyungwon's hands shook and he dropped the notebook, staring at the words as his chest constricted. It hurt, it hurt so fucking much that he wanted to grasp whatever it was that burned behind his ribcage and rip it out. His lips trembled as he reached for the book again and read the same line over and over again.

He planned to solve your problems all this time.

It couldn't be that Hoseok hadn't cared, he must have with all the effort he invested and the affectionate touches he gifted Hyungwon. Even now the sensation of fingers tracing his thighs and lips sucking on the sensitive skin made him tremble.

"What is this?" a high-pitched voice asked behind him and Hyungwon felt Jimin's finger poke his thigh, followed by stretched out hands that wanted to see the notebook.

You forgot that you're not alone, simply because the words are addressed to you.

"It's mine," he replied until his mind caught up and he was able to come up with a decent explanation. Being possessive was only going to make the little boy more curious. "Hoseok gave it to me as a present."

"Like the book!" Jimin exclaimed excitedly and jumped up and down, pulling on Hyungwon's jeans to make him follow.

What book?

Hyungwon smiled to pretend that he knew what his little brother was talking about. Instead of a random picture book, he was met with the sight of his father sitting at the kitchen table, examining Hoseok's copy of Murakami's 'Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World'. It was the book Hoseok had read out to him, stroking over his hair while watching him fall asleep.

Don't you dare cry in front of your family.

He forced a smile to his lips, but it must have resembled a grimace as Jimin's genuine smile faded and his father looked up from the book. He hadn't been reading, instead the book was opened on its last page, the back of it with a note stuck to it. Hyungwon stepped closer, tasting blood in his mouth from the effort with which he forced himself to stay composed.

His father kept looking at him, not saying a word as he grabbed to book and held it out to him, nodding briefly.

Hyungwon didn't know what to say, so he remained silent, accepting the book and staring at the words written in Hoseok's delicate handwriting.

'Now you are free to come and go whenever you like,' it said, followed by a quote from the book.

'I must keep my mind but lose you.'

He swallowed as the helplessness came right back, filling op his lungs and spreading all the way to his fingertips. His eyes watered and he swallowed repeatedly to fight it. He had no way to explain it to Jimin and his father, none that was acceptable.

"Does Sok live here? Where is he?" Jimin asked next to him and lifted a pillow off a kitchen chair as if Hoseok could have been hiding there. A giggle revealed that it was his brother's attempt to cheer him up. Hyungwon tried to smile, but it just didn't work, not with the book in his hands and the knowledge that Hoseok had attempted to fix his life before disappearing out of it.

He thought you needed all this, when it's actually him that you need.

His father was still staring at him and Hyungwon didn't have the strength to come up with an explanation for a man writing him such a message. There was no way to write his devastation off as missing a friend and Hyungwon couldn't hide the tremble in his hands and the wetness of his eyes.

Because you like him so much more than a friend.

"He's gone," he whispered and hurried to the bathroom, shutting the door behind himself and taking a few deep breaths as he sank down along the door. The floor was cold and he was suddenly reminded of the first time he feared that Hoseok would leave, sitting in the shower until he barely felt anything.

You can't, you need to function to find him. He said goodbye for good, but you haven't.

Clenching the book in his hands, he pressed it to his chest and took a few breaths. This was the proof, the written words told him that he mattered. Hoseok left because he feared the consequences, the attachment that he is convinced he doesn't need.

He became attached and needed to prove to himself that he doesn't need you.

A smile pulled at the corners of his mouth at a simple realization and he leaned his head against the hardwood.

Hoseok only needed to prove it to himself, right? Leaving should have been enough for that.

You have to find him and show that his decision is bullshit. You can't live here, breathing his scent and missing him.

If Hoseok really cared about him, there was nothing left that could stop him.

_

 

Apparently there were way too many things in his way, among them the fact that Hoseok didn't leave any traces, none that directly led to him. Sasha and him had spent several weeks going through hours worth of news material. They looked at everything even remotely related, parliament meetings, climate change debates, demonstrations, anything that Hoseok could have mingled with.

Hyungwon remembered that Hoseok had sat in a cafe when he demonstrated, observing his enemy from up close to assess the situation. There was no way that Hoseok stayed at home and never left the house. He had to, the question was only when and if Hyungwon would end up lucky enough to identify him.

He can't hide from you forever, he needs to act.

"What if he's an alien and morphs into other people?" Sasha asked and giggled, amused by her own idea as she gestured towards her computer screen. The Berlin parliament was deciding on an insurance bill for refugees. It was a big step, especially for people that already received the permit to stay until a final decision about their immigration status.

This could do so much for you and your dad if it gets through. You could finally help Jimin on your own instead of stroking his hair and apologizing helplessly.

His best friend was munching on an apple this time as she crossed her legs and groaned.

"I'm happy you got his apartment and all, but if you told me a few months ago that I'd have to watch the same fucking story on every channel to find your blonde serpent lover, I'd have told you to fuck yourself."

Hyungwon smiled even though ‘serpent lover’ pushed it too far. He didn't consider Hoseok his lover and he would have attempted to hide inside a cupboard in shame if the older man had heard it. It didn't matter what Hoseok was, it only mattered that Hyungwon needed to find him and talk some sense into him.

She calls it love, but you don't dare to.

Watching a few politicians leave the building as the news anchor desperately tried to get an interview, he pursed his lips and shook his head when there was still no sign of bright blonde strands and Hoseok's familiar muscular body.

He looks so special, how can you miss him?

A blonde woman stepped in front of the camera, blocking most of it with her wide, but unfortunately fake smile. Only when she mentioned the passing of the new bill did Hyungwon understand.

It passed, they pushed it through, they fucking pushed it through.

He couldn't contain the smile that spread his lips, right hand reaching out to grasp Sasha's thigh to share his excitement, to check that it was really true and not just a figment of his imagination.

You finally have similar rights.

Hyungwon wasn't stupid, he knew what it meant and that passing a bill didn't mean that he had healthcare the next week. But it meant that it was on its way, if not in a few months then soon.

"About damn time," the curly-haired woman next to him remarked and crossed her arms, grinning at him. "Now you can face plant over my equipment as much as you want and I don't have to worry about your safety."

Hyungwon chuckled, feeling genuinely happy for the first time in weeks. Still smiling, he returned his attention to the anchor woman and observed her face, eyes passing over a broad nose with a slim nose bridge until they reached the women's forehead. She wasn't a natural blonde, right at her hairline there was a bit of black shining through, creating a rough transition. She colored her hair and it was time to freshen it up. The longer he stared, the more obviously he realized a simple possibility.

What if he isn't blonde anymore?

"Fuck," he hissed and slapped Sasha's shoulder so hard that he felt sorry as soon as he saw her wince in pain. "We missed something."

"What?" his best friend looked up and stared at the laptop screen, as if Hoseok was going to magically pop out of it.

"We kept looking for blonde hair like idiots. But he could have changed his hair. Someone with a face like his would show up with blonde hair, but with dark hair it'd be fucking easy to hide."

You're such a naive idiot, that's why he tried to teach you things.

He couldn't believe that he hadn't thought of that before, expecting the older man to pop out of his TV screen when he was obviously attempting to be inconspicuous. Nobody would keep coloring their hair a bright blonde if they wanted to stay low.

"Fuck," Sasha repeated and Hyungwon nodded, agreeing as he massaged his temples and closed his eyes. This was going to be a shit show. They had to go through all their material again, attempt to find Hoseok among the hours of video footage.

"God, no, look!" Yanking at his jacket, his curly-haired friend froze the live stream and pointed at a figure in the back, walking straight and about to turn around a corner. Hyungwon would have recognized that profile everywhere, those lips and the broad build. His heart hammered in his chest and the same pain that was a dull ache turned into a full blown throbbing.

It's him.

"That's him," he whispered, not believing his own words as adrenaline rushed through his veins and his vision blurred, turning the screen into a bunch of grey. The gorgeous man with black strands framing his face was carrying a simple briefcase under his arm as he left the parliament building. The building in which a new law on refugee insurance had been passed.

He's doing it for you. He's still doing it all for you even though he left you behind.

"I need to go to Berlin."

_

 

His consciousness returned only slowly, beginning with a throbbing at his throat and continuing with a dull ache in his head that spread from his neck to his temples. It hurt and Hyungwon couldn't help a groan as he tried to move but couldn't feel his long limbs yet.

His memory was hazy at best and the last thing he remembered was sneaking up the stairs to the apartment he had identified as Hoseok's during the past five days in Berlin. Attempting to sit up, he hissed and rubbed his neck.

Somebody knocked you out.

His eyes widened and he tried to stand up, only to fall right back on his knees and with his palms flat on an old grey carpet. The place was small and he wasn't familiar with it. A glance around told him that he was in a very small room, way smaller than their one room apartment at the refugee home. There was nothing on the walls and a bed at the window took up most of the space. The whole sparsely furnished place looked old and shabby, however, one thing didn't fit. A broad back hidden by a black shirt with a hood that covered the person's head and the sounds that came from the man next to him. He must be typing something.

Did you get it wrong?

A cold shudder ran down his back as he quickly tried to figure out whether he was hurt anywhere, hands passing over his chest and brushing along his thighs. He seemed fine with the exception of his neck, his headache and the fact that his legs were jelly.

Don't make too much noise. What if he knocks you out again?

Hyungwon had never had anybody choke him until he lost consciousness and the memory alone was sufficient to return his ruthless anxiety, freezing his blood and paralyzing him right there, on the carpet.

He couldn't tell if the man was Hoseok. There was nothing personal on the walls or on the table and Hyungwon couldn't remember ever seeing the older man in casual clothing beyond a shirt.

You can't even see the man's face.

He was scared, but he didn't dare stand up and run. He couldn't do that, not when he had finally gotten close to Hoseok's location. Hyungwon knew exactly what would happen as soon as the older man knew that he’d been found.

He will probably move again, try to run like before.

"Hoseok?" he tried and bit his tongue, shocked by how rough his voice sounded. Even if the man wanted to knock him out again, Hyungwon was too dizzy and exhausted to run.

"You're worse than a VADB hitman," the painfully familiar low voice murmured before the figure finally moved, turning towards him, raven black hair hanging into the equally black eyes and gaze immediately finding his.

It's really him.

Hyungwon gasped, not prepared for the sight after only seeing it on shabby news videos and from far away on the street. There was no way that he could have known how Hoseok looked with black hair, because the impression was so different. The feeling was difficult to explain but the raven-like blackness had something insecure to it. Maybe that was the reason he dared to move, crawling closer on his knees until he was able to reach out, stroke over the pale cheek to make sure it was real, that it wasn't another dream he would wake up from, accompanied by small hands pulling him back into reality. Hyungwon didn't want reality if it didn't involve the man in front of him.

You finally found him.

The now black-haired man jerked and leaned back, fleeing from his touch.

"There is no train right now, but you better take the one at 7 a.m. and go back home," Hoseok murmured, grabbing his laptop and turning it towards him. It showed the best ways to go from Berlin to Frankfurt and the older man held onto it as if it was a shield that protected him.

There he goes again.

"I won't," he replied and surprised himself with how steady his voice was. It didn't shake and despite holding his hand in the air for a few moments he rested it on Hoseok's right thigh.

"You will, because you have your responsibilities at home and this is the boa's place where you have no fucking reason to be. Or did you like being choked?" The black eyes looked different from the last time they’d seen each other, but he couldn't say what changed.

He flinched at the comment and couldn't help the way his hand immediately reached for his neck, returning a feeling of fear. It was there, but it wasn't associated with the man in front of him, even though Hoseok was the one to hurt him.

He did, but he couldn't have known it was you. Like the one time he caught you in his apartment.

"Since when does the boa abandon its prey, or was I too tough a pill to swallow?" His fingers tightened on Hoseok's thigh and he swallowed, remembering the hurt from the past weeks. It was still there, only waiting for a rejection, but Hyungwon wasn't going to allow it.

"Since I decided to go for something else." The older man stood up, ignoring his hand on his thigh and walked a few steps towards his improvised kitchen. Opening the tiny freezer, he took out a frozen bottle of wine and came back, handing him the said bottle wrapped in a kitchen towel. "You look hurt. You should cool the bruises on your neck."

"Why do you freeze wine?" Hyungwon asked and accepted the cold bottle, holding it to his neck. It felt good and he couldn't help a content sigh. He still couldn't believe that he was really in the same room with Hoseok, sitting on a dirty carpet in a tiny apartment in Berlin and attempting to convince the boa not to send him away.

Nothing changed, did it? Only your surroundings did.

Hyungwon's clothes were almost as dirty as the carpet from running around Berlin for five days. He hadn't taken much along with him because it was safer in case he got mobbed or robbed. He only had himself and a toothbrush.

"I can't believe I finally found you," he whispered and looked up at Hoseok's face, attempting to memorize every twitch and curve. He needed to be able to find the older man the next time he dared to run away. Hyungwon didn't care where, he was going to find him over and over again.

"I can't believe it either. I must have made a mistake. Fuck, why can't you just live like you have for the past weeks? Go and give interviews, show your tiny face to the cameras and celebrate success after success. I wish you were a hitman, because even those know when it's time to stop." Shaking his head, Hoseok moved to the farthest possible corner and sat down on the carpet crossing his legs. However, the corner was still only about two meters away.

He's been watching you all this time, but still he has no idea what you've been doing.

Hyungwon wanted to yell it into Hoseok's face, but he knew that it wouldn't get him anywhere. Hoseok was good at shielding himself from emotions and showing his so quickly would only cause Hyungwon to break down and cry again.

"How I lived over the past weeks? You mean trying to find at least a hint of your existence in the news and the things you left behind? You don't seem all that informed to me, Hoseok. The boa must have gotten rusty."

"The boa cut you off. Since when does a severed limb come back? You should've stayed where you were and did your thing, instead of coming here, getting strangled before having to go back. You should've… left our last meeting the way it was." Leaning forward, Hoseok took his laptop and turned his back towards him.

"Then why did the boa make me feel like it didn't want to leave?" he asked and stepped closer, not accepting the artificial distance Hoseok tried to put between them. It didn't mean anything and both of them knew it. There was no way Hyungwon could return, not before he felt like the older man was a part of his life again. "You say I should go back and do my thing, do you mean getting attached? I fear you have occupied that spot permanently."

Why are you laying yourself bare like this? He could hurt you so easily, cold back turned towards you instead of attentive eyes.

Suddenly, the older man's black eyes peeked over his broad shoulder before he replied.

"What are you talking about? You're eighteen, puppy, grow up. That's how it happens in real life, people meet people, separate. Why would you… get attached? I told you that it'll make you miserable, you fool. Now you are here thinking that this is some kind of hide and seek game. No. It's the boa throwing off its skin and coming out in new colors. I'm not the entity that asked for a hug desperately like an idiot. I'm the boa, I have a goal and no space for anything beyond it." Hoseok closed his eyes and his laptop lid, breathing a few times before placing the device on the floor next to the charger.

He abandoned you and places his choice on a pedestal, hiding the fact that each step hurt him too.

"Liar," Hyungwon whispered and felt his lips tremble, eyes easily seeing the struggle in the way Hoseok's chest moved, the glances that were directed everywhere but him. "You can’t even look at me. I don't care how old I am or what you abandon along with your skin. I told you how much this means to me, I confessed it to your face and you still left. Was it worth the illusion that you're fine?"

Don't get emotional, you'll lose.

"You thought that puppy liking the boa would have made it stay? Attachment is the worst, Hyungwon. I feel it every day since I left and I don't need you to show me how bad it is. Why can't you let go? Go to sleep now and go home tomorrow," Hoseok whispered before walking another few steps and disappearing into the tiny bathroom. He could see the older man brush his teeth and he didn't look happy.

"I can't," he murmured, but the black-haired man didn't look in his direction even though he must have heard. "I'm scared you'll disappear as soon as I close my eyes."

Hoseok was right, the puppy had naively believed the boa liked it back, enough to stay.

 

***

 

Thinking that puppy's visit was worse than being found by a hitman wasn't a joke. Hoseok struggled to concentrate on something else besides his visitor that lay on the carpet and was easy to handle, as long as he was unconscious. However, as soon as the low voice started speaking, he only wished that Hyungwon would stop and simply leave. Why couldn't he just turn off the screen when it got too much? Why couldn't he turn off his mind when it felt too intense?

There is no way you can throw him out, but he can't stay for too long either. He's famous now.

Why would you even think about keeping him around for longer? No, Hoseok.

It was no use, Hyungwon kept declining his attempts to make him leave and he decided to personally put the boy onto the next train to Frankfurt in the morning.

But now you should sleep.

"I have no spare toothbrush. Did you bring one with you on your unnecessary trip?" Hoseok tried his best to avoid looking at the black curls and the handsome face that he knew from the news. It seemed as if the boy had grown up during those few weeks.

"Yeah, it's the only thing I brought along with me," Hyungwon replied and stepped closer to the tiny sink. The boy was staring at him, observing his profile instead of brushing his teeth the way he was supposed to. "I was ready to stay for a long as necessary, but after three days I felt so hopeless. You can't imagine how happy I was when I finally found you."

"It's a virtue to know when to give up and you definitely don't have it. Don't you have to work and study? What about Jimin? Can you leave all of that just to be strangled by the boa? What do you even want from me?" Hoseok pulled the hooded shirt over his head and started doing push-ups as a punishment for his thoughts that contained nothing but the tall person that stared at him from a short distance.

"I asked Hannah for help." There was a hint of guilt in Hyungwon's voice as he finally pulled out a foldable toothbrush and began brushing his teeth. It seemed like the boy didn't want to elaborate further, tremble in his hands easily revealing how emotional he was to see Hoseok. Once the boy spat the remaining toothpaste into the sink, he finally turned to him again, eyes determined. "It's semester break and Sasha is replacing me at the cafe. Jimin is with Hannah."

What is he so determined for?

Hoseok tried to catch his breath after the intense exercise and crossed his arms, finally allowing himself to meet the brown eyes.

"Sounds well planned, but you still have to go home. There's nothing here that you might need, so let's sleep a few hours and then I'll make sure that you are on that 7 a.m. train. You can sleep in my bed because there's nothing else here."

"You," Hyungwon breathed out and stepped closer, long fingers reaching out to wrap around his forearm. "You say there is nothing here that I need, but there is. You, Hoseok. It's fucking you, after you decided to just disappear without a goodbye." He could tell that Hyungwon immediately regretted his outburst as he bit down on his plump bottom lip. The muscle was chapped and had a few cracks, probably from whatever it was that the boy did during the past five days.

"Me?" He jerked at the touch, but there was no space to escape to. Hyungwon was…

Beautiful. He's so beautiful.

Hoseok chewed on his lips, before catching himself in the middle of staring and how obvious it must've been to the younger man.

"You're unreasonable and foolish," he murmured, looking to the side.

"And still you like me." There was challenge in Hyungwon's eyes, ready to fight back as soon as Hoseok attempted to deny the accusation.

It's irrelevant.

"But it doesn't mean anything to the way I live. I took the goal just like you wanted me to, and now you should leave me alone." Inhaling once, Hoseok tilted his head and grabbed the boy's soft chin. "Now tell me, how did you find me?"

A gasp filled the thick air and Hyungwon's eyes widened, but it wasn't in fear. The same determination returned as the boy kept staring right back, long fingers wrapping around his wrist. They were cool in comparison to his hot skin.

"I wouldn't have given you my goal if I knew that it meant your departure. Is living like this something you really want, or something that you decided you want?" the low voice asked, smooth jaw moving against his hand as the boy spoke. "What did you think would happen after you left? That I would cry a little and go back to doing what I've always been doing? Do you have any fucking idea how much this means to me, Hoseok?"

That's precisely the reason for not letting him close.

His emotions were a mess as he grabbed the round face with both palms and moved closer.

"That's why I'm saying that you should leave if this means so much to you. Fucking leave already. I will bring you more and more pain. I already did and I can't undo it, but I'm trying not to cause more, don't you understand? I decided to live like this and I'm going to continue doing so. Liking you is… it just happened, but it doesn't change anything." He had to look away from the slightly parted lips and a gaze full of emotion. Hyungwon shouldn't  be here in his reality, he should just act nonchalant and strong on his laptop screen.

You only understand now how much easier it was to bear his absence when you thought of him as a figure on the news.

“But why would I leave if the pain dissipates as soon as you are close, as soon as you look at me? You could tell me that you hate me and I would still come back, that’s how- that’s how fucking much I like you, Hoseok.” The boy’s bottom lip trembled and he inhaled sharply through his nose, fighting his own emotions as he glanced to the side, hiding the obvious hurt from him. “I’m so tired of the people I care about leaving me. Is it really necessary, must you leave too?”

"You have your family and you have friends, you don't need me, but I… I can't just lay myself bare in front of you, I only have myself and my mind and I decided for my mind. Accept it," he whispered, stroking over the boy's cheek that felt a little rough under his fingertips. He wanted to kiss those lips so badly, to remind himself how good it felt before he decided to stop.

You can't trust him.

“Haven’t you proven to yourself that you can be without me yet? Isn’t it enough yet?” Hyungwon was shaking, but concealed it by wrapping his other hand around his wrist, holding on tightly. “You don’t have to lay yourself bare, I can deal with the wall you built between us, I can bear it. But I can’t bear it when it fades away, when I can’t even reach for the cold stone.”

"I didn't prove anything. You shouldn't have come here, Hyungwon." Hoseok let go, clenching his fists. It was only hurting him again to be close. A few steps and he was at the wall, pressing the light switch and covering them in darkness before he took off his jeans and lay on the bed.

The boy didn’t reply, but he heard the soft scratching of feet over the grey carpet, moving towards him. Rustling, followed by fabric hitting the floor, told him that Hyungwon must have taken off his shirt, followed by jeans that he heard slide down the boy’s long legs. The old mattress creaked when the slim body finally climbed on top of it, calves brushing over Hoseok’s until he could see the outline of the small face, plump lips and eyes that reflected the minimal light.

“Will you let me touch the black outline of the boa?” Hyungwon asked quietly, minty breath tickling Hoseok’s nose.

"I will, if you tell me how I can make you leave, because I'm running out of strategies. Maybe I should get a boyfriend? But I don't like hurting people on purpose, so I can only have consensual sex after agreeing that it's a one-time thing. How about you tell me what I need to do?" Again Hoseok cupped the boy's face in a sign of crippling desperation. How was he supposed to explain to himself that he wasn't allowed to touch and kiss someone that he’d longed for so much during the past weeks?

“You want me to leave? Then come with me,” the boy murmured and leaned into his touch, exhaling as if only Hoseok’s palm allowed him to breathe properly. Hyungwon’s slim thighs moved to each side of his hips as the almost weightless body settled on top of his lap, dark curls covering the boy’s forehead.

"I can't come with you. I made a decision and I'm here now, working on my goal. I was successful too, so I need to keep up the good work." He was barely able to control his hands as they followed the outline of Hyungwon's naked shoulders, chest and waist. 

“Wouldn’t you be even more successful if we worked together? You have taught me so much, Hoseok, showing me how to leave an impression and make a difference. Can’t you teach me more, use me to reach your goals?” The boy crawled closer on top of him, leaning down as he gasped from the sensation of Hoseok’s hands on his naked skin. Hyungwon’s lips were so close, frequent breaths caressing his nose and jaw.

"Kiss me and leave," he whispered, staring into the boy's big eyes and trying to catch every bit of air that Hyungwon exhaled against his mouth.

"You know that I can't," the low voice breathed out before he felt hot lips meeting his own, soft at first until it became desperate, teeth clashing together and hands sinking into the black strands of his hair. Hyungwon whimpered into the touch, body losing tension as if only Hoseok's hands holding him allowed the younger man to let go.

"Fuck, puppy, why do you have to be so stubborn?" Hoseok murmured before wrapping his arms around the boy's waist, pulling him against his chest in a desperate attempt to be closer. He didn't expect himself to be this needy, but his lips didn't care, trying to get more of the delicious taste. The kiss was rougher than he remembered the boy's lips to be, but just as addicting.

"Because that's what life has taught me." The boy's hands were warm as they travelled from his nape to his neck and finally cupped his face. Plump lips were pulling him in, refusing to let go as they covered his own. Hyungwon's naked thighs rubbed over the skin of his hips as he shifted closer and the sudden proximity was too much and not enough at once.

"I'm conflicted. I never told you, but I like it, it shows how strong you are. Do you feel comfortable in your new apartment?" Hoseok turned them until he ended up hovering over the gorgeous, tall body and exhaled against Hyungwon's thick lips while his bangs tickled the boy's nose.

“I liked it more when you were part of it,” was the quiet reply as Hyungwon shifted under him and brushed the strands away from his face, watching him intently until the boy couldn’t resist and kissed him again. “Everything screams at me that you are gone now. The clothes you left barely smell like you anymore.”

"Will you leave if I give you a shirt?" he asked and chuckled at the sad irony of his question. He knew that Hyungwon would immediately decline. Puppy was indeed of a different caliber. One he wasn't sure how to deal with.

A flat palm that slapped his shoulder was enough of an answer as the boy grabbed his face and pulled him down, meeting halfway for a hot kiss. Hyungwon's right leg shifted and wrapped around him, as if to keep him from escaping.

Hoseok kissed back with his eyes closed, before he pushed himself up, observing the face that he had dreamt about so often. It looked even better than he remembered. Reaching out, he stroked over the boy's lips. "I have no idea what to do with you, puppy."

"Keep me," Hyungwon whispered and kissed his fingers, eyes big and vulnerable.

"I can't. You're not aware, but I reported half of the directors of my father's company to the police. I thought you were a hitman when I saw you. What I mean is… when I asked you for a goal… that was the moment I decided that I can't do things half-heartedly. I fucked my family over and I left my sister behind without any point of contact, just like I left you. I had a strategy. I told you before, I still think that attachment sucks, it does, I taste it every day in my coffee, but it's simply dangerous for you to be next to me and for me to be next to you. You're famous now and I'm a boa. Fucking over people who could hurt you." Hoseok shook his head and brushed his bangs back in a nervous gesture, watching them fall over his forehead right after.

He has no idea what else you're going to reveal.

"You punished criminals, not your family. There is no need to hide. The police have witness protection services and if enough people know about you the public won't allow you to be unfairly prosecuted. I don't mean to endanger you, I want to help you." Hyungwon sighed and tried to hold onto him, hands tightly wrapped around his biceps. "She cried when you left."

You knew.

"I cried too. Life's like that, you make decisions and they mostly hurt. There will be things happening soon, I'm in the middle of preparing the final strategy of exposure and it will be huge, going beyond caging some idiots for their greed. It will be your momentum, you will be able to do so much while I will have to stay still for a bit. It has nothing to do with the insurance that I pushed through, it's really huge." Hoseok let himself fall next to the boy, head immediately occupied with the complexity. "That's why you need to go home."

"How can I be at peace knowing that you are endangering yourself? How can I use the momentum if as soon as I turn around on my swing to share my success, I see a gaping hole instead of the person that kept pushing me." The boy turned to his side and reached out to stroke over his stomach, fingers dancing over his ribs to his chest before following the lines of his collarbones. "What happens after the big reveal?"

"They'll try to blame someone irrelevant, but it won't work because I have the evidence and then they will know that it's me and will try to hurt me and get the rest of the information, I guess." Turning around and staring at the boy in rising excitement, he pushed his finger into the flat chest. "And that's when you can create history, puppy, you'll be able to use it to make a change. A big one. The boa isn't a fan of reusable cups, it needs to be something big to excite me."

Maybe that's why you like him and why you can't move on from him even though you tried.

"And after the big reveal, after I've done what you want me to and you lay low for a while?" Hyungwon wrapped his hand around his index finger and moved it aside, observing him intently. Hoseok could see how quickly the boy's heart was beating in the hollow of his collarbones. There was barely enough light to identify Hyungwon's features, but they were engraved in his mind in so much detail that there was no need to guess. He could tell where the bow of his lips was, the round nose and the prominent brow ridge.

"Who knows? You need some empty promises? Can't give you those, sorry. I've never done anything on a scale this big, so I can't tell what will happen to me." Blinking a few times to get used to the darkness, Hoseok pulled his finger out of Hyungwon's grip and wanted to pull away at first. Instead, he intertwined their fingers and shifted closer. "You told me that I should fight against climate change and I decided that it was an appropriate goal, so that's what I'm going to do."

"I'm proud of you," Hyungwon whispered, tender smile lifting the corners of his mouth. It looked genuine even though the boy's eyes remained sad. "I only hoped that there was a way to do it together. I have to keep my unrealistic ideals, I'd simply crumble under pressure otherwise. I hoped your grand plans involved me somehow, enough to be able to see your face. I'm not even expecting you to touch me if you don't want to. I just want to see you. Is it too much?"

It is.

"If you see my face, they will see it too. It's part of my strategy to dye my hair and live here for a while, working completely independently while going in and out of the Parliament building. On the outside I'm helping refugees but in reality I'm trying to uncover some huge bullshit. I can't go back with you, Hyungwon. You say you're not expecting me to touch you, but you misunderstand. I missed you, I did," he whispered, fingers curling and fitting perfectly into the spaces between the boy's digits.

"I missed you too." Shifting closer, Hyungwon squeezed his hand and leaned in to place a soft kiss on his lips. "I understand and I don't want to endanger you. But I am scared that you are using this as an excuse, a warning to get rid of me the way you tried before. I can't bear the thought of never seeing you again, Hoseok. I can't fucking do it."

He thinks that you're trying to fool him?

"Maybe I should have tried to fool you instead of telling you the truth."

"Now, you’re misunderstanding. I believe you and I know you are working towards your goal. What I fear is something else, it's the fact that I cannot be sure if I will ever find you again as soon as I walked through that door. How do you expect me to get up if I know that nothing hurts more than knowing that you're gone?" Hyungwon's body trembled as the boy attempted to wrap around him, long leg circling his hips and one arm curling around his neck to pull him closer. "I missed you so much, Hoseok. I've never felt that way about another person, not even once."

"But you can't know what happens. There is no such thing as a sure thing and you must know that better than anybody else. But if you know, why are you like this? Is there something about the boa that pulls you in? But I'm just a person, puppy, only a determined and very rational one, but it still doesn't explain the way you feel. Are… are you in love with me, Hyungwon?" he asked, freezing in puppy's desperate embrace, struggling to understand what it meant for them if it was true.

It's tragic.

The boy fell into a stupor, eyes widening and nose pushing out the air in his lungs, rough and with a needy attempt to breathe in again. Hyungwon didn't deny it, he didn't say a single word, remaining close and holding onto him as if it was the only thing that kept him alive.

"I didn't mean to be," the hesitant voice whispered suddenly, breaking towards the end as Hyungwon crawled closer and hid his face in the crook of his neck. "I didn't mean to, I promise, I'm sorry. I-" The apology didn't sound like it was directed towards him, but rather like the boy was struggling to convince himself, body shaking as he desperately scratched over Hoseok's back to be even closer, hidden from sight.

Why would he apologize?

"Are you apologizing for being in love with me? There's nothing you have to apologize for, Hyungwon. I am the one who should be sorry. You must've been so hurt because of me." Hoseok hated it so much. He didn't want to hurt someone the way he got hurt. The pain was still a dull buzzing in his chest when he thought back to that time. Wrapping his arms tighter around Hyungwon's slim waist, he placed a kiss under the boy's earlobe. "I'm sure that… that I'm not a good choice for your affection. You keep laying yourself bare in front of me while I crawl deeper into my cave. Doesn't it hurt?"

The curly-haired boy nodded and dug his nose into the crook of Hoseok's neck, tugging at his hair in an attempt to remain attached.

"It hurts… but it also feels so safe when I'm next to you, when you allow me a glimpse behind the wall." Hyungwon was breathing heavily, similar to the way he did when he was scared, but the desperate way with which the younger man held onto him didn't fit. "I didn't know, I realized later, after you left. I didn't think losing somebody could hurt this much. It didn't feel this way when my mother left and you- you only abandoned me, willingly. I must be terrible." The jerk of Hyungwon's thin body suggested a sob that the boy attempted to contain, keeping his face hidden.

"God, no, why would you think that? I needed to leave for my goal and to keep you and Hannah safe from what I'm going to do. I haven’t dealt with my feelings towards you yet, so it was a good thing that I left and only saw you through the screen. I like being the boa, the calmness in my mind and the clarity of my thoughts, but you are not even sure yourself what it is that you want from me, are you?" Sighing, he leaned back and brushed a curl behind Hyungwon's small ear.

"I'm sorry," puppy whispered and Hoseok felt the distinct sensation of wetness against the skin of his shoulder. "This is new for me, I'm not sure how to act or whether this is even okay. I understand that you want to keep me safe, I want you to be safe too. It's just-" A gasp left Hyungwon's lips, followed by shaking shoulders. "I want to be next to you."

Did you make him cry?

“Please don’t cry, oh god. I really like you too, but I still think that attachment sucks and that it will lead to mistakes, that’s why I’m saying that you can’t be here because I will definitely end up being foolish because I’m distracted by how fucking beautiful you are.” Murmuring the last few words that were nevertheless true, Hoseok grabbed the boy’s chin and lifted his face to catch his gaze. It was dark, but his eyes were used to it already, easily making out the soft features that were overwhelming in comparison to the face he saw on TV for the past few weeks.

"It's different for me," Hyungwon whispered and held his breath as a single drop travelled down his cheek, stopped by Hoseok's hand. "I feel like you make me stronger, like I can do anything when you are next to me."

“But I do cheer for you, from my carpet while watching you on the news on my tiny laptop. You can do anything, I’m sure. I want you to know that there is nothing wrong with the way you feel. That’s why it’s so assholish to use other people’s feelings for your own goals.” Hoseok remembered Mark’s hearing that was about to take place tomorrow and was supposed to be reported on the news. It was finally about to end.

After seven years.

"I… felt so convinced that you liked me back, that the way you kissed me meant something, the day before you left." The younger man swallowed and let his hands travel to Hoseok's chest, warm palms flat against it. "But you seem so calm while I feel like you set me on fire with something as simple as your hand grabbing my chin. How can you be so controlled?"

He won’t answer your questions if he’s still shaking like this.

“It’s because I know what I feel. It was there when you left through that door after writing the note and it’s still here with me. Of course it hurts, but I take it as a catalyst to achieve something. I try to turn the pain into free insurance for your family or other things that I do apart from trying to expose VADB. I want to touch you and I want to kiss you, you foolish puppy. But you will have to go back and I don’t want to give you more wounds to cry about.” Hoseok stroked over the younger man’s hair repeatedly while his body shifted closer, feeling the warmth of Hyungwon’s skin, his smooth legs and slim arms. "I want you to feel good, like you did before I left."

"It was already too late before you left, wasn't it? That's why you gave in and touched me, making me lose my mind," Hyungwon whispered, purposefully exhaling against his lips while his big eyes remained focused on him. "Why would it make a difference now?"

There is no difference.

"It doesn't. I want you," he whispered and curled his fingers into Hyungwon's messy locks, grabbing a fistful and pulling the boy into a deep kiss. The touch tingled from his lips over his chest to his stomach where it collected and made his breaths quicker. "You should stay away, however, you're here now, aren't you?"

"I am," Hyungwon breathed out, moaning softly as he leaned further into the touch, long naked legs intertwining with his own. "Touch me, Hoseok."

"I dreamt about you," he whispered against the boy's smooth skin as he kissed the visible bruises that he had created and was sorry about. His hands were gentle and provided an almost weightless touch against Hyungwon's sides and stomach, playing with the waistband of his tight underwear. "You smell so good. You managed to shower while stalking me? I don't think I'm that skilled."

"You're way more skilled, you'd have taken an apartment close to this place and watched me change through the window," the pretty boy gasped, but a smile was gracing his features. The lean legs spread as if in invitation and Hyungwon didn't bother glancing to the side, showing his yearning in all its colors. "I merely used what my finances allowed me to use. I mostly slept on the street."

Dear lord. He probably used a public shower.

"I should tell you that you're crazy, but I simply can't believe that you would come here only to find me. Would you like to shower? It's not big or anything, but it can fit two people. If you like having someone next to you." Hoseok chuckled and shifted closer, creating more points of contact.

"I do, if it's you." Hyungwon's black curls were spread out over the white sheets as the boy threw his head back, creating a gorgeous contrast despite the darkness. The younger man's right calf was stroking over his thighs in a tender motion, inviting him to enter his embrace. "What if I cannot keep my hands to myself?"

"Then I'll gladly take them," Hoseok murmured in reply, reaching for the boy's collarbones and drawing a beautiful line towards his chest, brushing over his nipples. He was immediately blessed with a soft moan. "Why are you worried about that?"

"Because I am somebody who cannot control himself." Something changed in Hyungwon's gaze, but Hoseok wasn't able to identify it, not with how quickly the boy glanced away and slipped his thigh in between his, carefully rubbing over his groin and firm stomach. The action was closer to an attempt to distract him than a genuine expression of arousal, unlike what Hyungwon had done before.

"You can't control yourself? Well, I don't know anybody who can control themselves well while getting their sweet spot stabbed, so you're not alone." Hoseok smiled in assurance. The topic must have been uncomfortable for puppy. "Don't worry, I really like it when you lose control."

A gorgeous pink blush finally colored the boy's golden cheeks, revealing how easily Hoseok's words affected him in addition to his hands on the smooth skin. Long fingers sunk into his hair and tugged once, tilting his head to allow plump lips to meet his briefly.

He's adorable.

"I'm never afraid with you, because you are so much stronger than me. You could easily push me away if you wanted to." Lifting himself from the soft mattress, Hyungwon climbed on top of him, lean thighs arranged on each side of his hips. The boy looked so slim in comparison, thighs taking up half the space of his own. Fingertips carefully followed the lines his abdominal muscles formed on his stomach until they arrived at his shoulders. "You could push me away, but you don't, which tells me that it's okay, that you want this as much as I do."

Is he afraid to do something that you don't like?

"Don't worry, I would immediately tell you if I didn't like something and probably also show you the way I like it. I often ask myself whether I'm using the fact that you're literally a puppy when it comes to pleasure and being close to someone, but I have the hope that asking questions and monitoring your reactions will help me do the right thing." Hoseok tried to see more in the barely illuminated room, only recognizing Hyungwon's gorgeous face, his slim silhouette that threw shadows on the grey blanket that had been white before. "Am I doing the right thing?" he asked, reaching out and placing both hands on the boy's firm thighs, travelling upwards until his fingers touched the black fabric of his trunks.

"Y-yeah," Hyungwon replied quietly and Hoseok could clearly observe how the lean thighs contracted and the flat stomach flexed, causing the boy's groin to twitch in his tight underwear. He was so sensitive that it resembled an orchestra, each touch evoking a different sound, no matter how light. "I cannot imagine you ever doing the wrong thing. Everything you do feels so right to me, enough to want more."

"I can do the wrong thing too, I'm human, but I don't want to do it. I want you to like it at least as much as I do. I want you to moan in Alian and beg me not to stop." Licking over his lips, he put his hand on the boy's groin, stroking over his clothed erection carefully.

Hyungwon moaned immediately, thighs pulling together and squeezing his hips before they spread apart, welcoming him to continue. Hoseok loved how the boy almost fell back, big hands holding onto his calves as Hyungwon threw his head back, obviously not expecting how good it felt.

"Oh my god," the breathy voice murmured as Hoseok felt the grip tighten, as if puppy was convinced that he needed it. "Please."

Hyungwon was so responsive and he loved it. Repeating the motion, he wrapped his other hand around the boy's waist and sat up to close his lips around a tiny nipple.

The tremble that passed from the weightless body on top of him to his lips and hands, accompanied by a loud moan, sent an immediate wave of arousal to his groin. Hyungwon let go of his calves and wrapped his arms around his neck instead, tugging at his hair to encourage him one moment and scratching over his shoulders in an inability to help himself in the other. Hoseok was only starting out, but he could already tell that the boy's toes were curling.

"Please," Hyungwon begged again and whimpered right after.

"How would you like to be touched? My mouth? Or would you like to feel my fingers inside you?" Hoseok asked, feeling hungry for Hyungwon's scent and trying to only breathe it by not moving away from the boy's sandy colored skin.

"Everything," Hyungwon gasped and clashed their lips together, moaning into the kiss. "Please give me everything."

He probably wants you to blow him while you finger him, but he'll never hold out. Ever.

"If I do both it'll be over pretty quickly, but whatever you like, gorgeous puppy. You're lucky that I didn't plan on being celibate after coming here." He reached for the bag that was placed under the bed and contained tissues, lube and condoms. The only things he hadn't unpacked yet.

"I said everything," Hyungwon murmured and took a few deep breaths, holding the air in his lungs as if he believed it would calm him down. The boy was still sitting on top of him, heartbeat visible in the hollow of his collarbones. "I want you to burn too, Hoseok."

"I burn, I'm a fucking bushfire when I touch you, but fine, I'll do both if that's what you want." He isolated a finger and rolled the condom over, lubing up sufficiently. "Would you like to sink down yourself? This position gives you the possibility."

He can try to be in control.

Hyungwon observed him intently, lips parted as if he wanted to say something, but as soon as Hoseok began preparing him, the boy had decided not to, merely nodding at his proposition. The pretty blush had only increased and began spreading lower. The black fabric was impossibly tight at Hyungwon's groin, showing how much puppy wanted him.

Chewing on his cheek, the younger man lifted his hips, remaining on his knees, and carefully pulled his trunks down his legs. He looked embarrassed, but hid it by hurrying up and glancing down at Hoseok's hips.

"It might be irrelevant information, but your body is stunning. Exactly my type." Licking over his mouth, Hoseok reached behind Hyungwon until he found what he was looking for and used his free hand to curl around the base of the boy's pretty dick, stroking it gently while he spread the lube.

"I prefer yours," Hyungwon managed to reply before almost falling forward, hands grasping Hoseok's shoulders to remain upright. His thighs flexed and he lifted his hips almost automatically as a loud moan left his lips. "Don't- I- I might lose it too quickly."

"It's just for you to feel good while you sit down on my fingers. I'll let go as soon as I found what I'm searching for." He smiled and continued moving his hand lazily, giving Hyungwon the opportunity to move himself. His strokes were obviously distracting puppy as he needed a few moments to finally tighten his grip on Hoseok's shoulders and lower his hips, carefully allowing his digit to slip past the tight ring of muscles. A muffled moan, hidden by teeth on lips, revealed how much Hyungwon enjoyed the slide.

It was a major turn on and he shifted, regretting the fact that he still wore underwear. He curled his digit and made sure he had the spot before letting go of the boy's erection. "Do you want another one?" Hoseok asked, circling right where it felt good while loosening him up a little.

"Yeah, just- let me get used to it first," Hyungwon replied quietly and lowered himself even more, up until the point where he couldn't contain a loud moan and his thighs trembled so strongly he had to lift up again. A few moments were enough for the boy to repeat the motion, moaning again and throwing his head back. The parted lips and shut eyes were enough to show that the feeling must be fantastic, but the rhythm with which those slim hips took in his finger told him even more. "This feels so good that I'm getting dizzy. I want more," Hyungwon moaned and reached for his wrist, holding his hand still as he didn't bother to move his legs anymore and merely thrust his hips down.

Your imagination is going places. You need to call it back.

"Let me give you another. Damn it, seeing your pleasure-stricken face while you move your hips is more of a turn on than you might think," he whispered and shifted, giving himself at least a bit of friction. Pulling out for a second, Hoseok took more lube and lined up his latex covered digits, waiting for puppy to move.

The boy took a few deep breaths before closing his eyes and moving down, soft whimper turning into a full-blown groan as Hoseok found the spot again and stimulated it each time those narrow hips almost met his. Hyungwon started out slowly, wincing a little at first when he wasn't used to the stretch, until he sped up and threw his head back in absolute bliss. The sight was difficult to put into words, golden neck bared for him to see, plump lips parted in a mixture of moans and his name with different pronunciations, most of them Alian. Hyungwon's thighs stayed flexed and each wave of pleasure was identifiable through a tremble, followed by a twitch of the boy's erection, precum glistening at the tip.

"Please," Hyungwon begged when his whole chest was covered in blush and some black strands started sticking to his forehead. The boy must have loved the feeling enough to be unable to stop, riding his fingers like there was nothing he wanted more.

"Do you want to come, baby?" he made sure, curling his hand around the base of Hyungwon's fully hard dick that twitched in his hand.

"No," the boy gasped and shook his head for good measure. The younger man's hips were still moving, but this time in smooth circles, as if he was playing with himself to feel pleasure, but wanted to be coherent enough to talk. "I want another, please."

Oh?

The request caught him off guard, but he complied, removing his fingers from the tight body and making sure that the three digits were nicely lubed before he returned them to their previous position.

"Tell me to stop if it's too much, okay?"

Hyungwon nodded, but didn't wait long before lowering his slim hips again. This time the boy needed longer, trying it out and biting down on his bottom lip without making a sound.

"The feeling reminds me of something I don't want to remember, but your eyes make me forget," Hyungwon whispered and leaned in to kiss him, hips sliding a little lower. Hoseok could tell how tightly the thin body was squeezing his digits, barely allowing them to pass even though Hyungwon had relaxed already. "Can you make me scream, Hoseok?"

"I think I could, but I don't want to hurt you. The fingers… they're kind of rough because of the knuckles and the generally rough skin, it might feel uncomfortable. Maybe we should stay with two?" Hoseok asked, but curled them anyway, rubbing against the spot but with less precision.

Hyungwon groaned and buried his face in his shoulders, attempting to muffle the sound as his hips pushed down to feel more of it, erection twitching against Hoseok's stomach. The movement must have been involuntary as Hyungwon winced at first, but quickly recovered enough to repeat the motion, moaning into his own palm.

"I- I like it when it's more," the boy gasped and sped up his motions. It still felt ridiculously tight, but the pleasure must have been distracting.

"Well, more is… only me." Glancing between his legs, Hoseok shook his head at himself for even thinking about it. Hyungwon was a confused puppy who wasn't even aware of what that meant.

"Then give me yourself," the younger man breathed out in Alian and grabbed a fist full of his hair, tugging at it as he slammed his hips down with more force than before, screaming in his face from pleasure.

Is he aware of what he's asking for?

 "Do you want me inside of you, Hyungwon? Do you want to sleep with me?" he asked after removing his fingers.

The boy's chest was rising and falling rapidly, blush and painfully hard erection revealing how close to the edge he had been, lips remaining parted as those eyes slowly settled on him. There was yearning in Hyungwon's gaze but also a hint of insecurity. Only when the younger man wrapped his arms around his neck and pulled him into a kiss, hips pressing down on his covered groin and rubbing along it, did he understand which feeling had won within the boy's chest.

"You're the only one I trust," Hyungwon whispered and covered his face in kisses, body still shaking from undisclosed desires and emotions he could tell the boy didn't dare to speak out loud. "Sleep with me. Please."

 

Chapter Text

There is no way for you to keep him.

Every motion of his body, hands wrapping around the older man and every word that left those painfully familiar curved lips screamed at him to give up, to understand that there was nothing he could change.

But you were so convinced.

Now it felt pathetic to think that somebody as sophisticated as the boa would leave him behind to prove his independence. It was too simple for somebody like Hoseok, too plain a goal to follow. Of course it had to be grand, dangerous and lonely. There was no room for somebody like Hyungwon, not for a puppy that couldn't even protect itself.

How could you even think the police will keep him safe from this? You know about the lobby, you've been fighting it all this time.

Hyungwon had been hoping, pointlessly hoping just like he always did. His expectations were a bright smile, stealing his breath away and arms that wrapped around him. He had been naive about it, again underestimating the boa.

You cannot expect him to act on it only because he wants you

Wanting him meant nothing to the older man, it was a buzzing in the back of his head, an additional word in his notebook, but no more.

Hyungwon had hesitated, constantly reaching for the warm skin, fingers wrapping around the older man's wrists and brushing stray strands away from his eyes. It felt like a stalemate, circling each other like predators without stepping down. He couldn't give up like that, not even if Hoseok wasn't his to have. The memory of the crippling pain was enough to burn in his chest all over again and dig his nails into the sensitive skin.

He hadn't planned on confessing, it was his dirty little secret, something he banned to the back of his mind until there was nothing else left to convince Hoseok.

But you should have known there is nothing he will do, even if you are in love.

Desperation hit him full force as soon as the older man asked him, eyes showing him how terrible the thought was, how much Hoseok wanted him to be unaffected.

You thought he was disgusted, but he fears his own weakness, his inability to push you away.

Hyungwon was fighting for the contact, for every kiss to keep the boa from moving back, from establishing distance and abandoning him all over again. It was easier the closer he was, the fewer centimeters remained between their lips. As soon as the black-haired man's delicate hands brushed over his groin, his ability to think diminished. Only the realization that Hoseok was the only person he could be close to remained.

Because you cannot hurt him, he would never let you.

It felt safe, like he wasn't able to ruin anything with his delirium driven moans and hands that held onto the muscular shoulders. Hyungwon's imagination wasn't enough to explain the pleasure, the burning in his groin that heightened his arousal with the motion of fingers alone. He didn't want it to end, not without seeing pure bliss on Hoseok's face.

Instead of feeling pain the tingling sensation only increased with additional stimulation like the fog in his mind and the need to feel more. The closer they were, the better Hyungwon could hold onto the boa, step over the danger the way he had before. Hoseok's expression took his breath away as their eyes met and he moaned into the older man's face. The sight reminded him of those animal documentaries, where they zoomed in on the snake that was waiting for its prey, ready to attack and bite right into his neck. However, instead of biting, Hoseok hissed at the movement of his hips while tracing his thighs and waist with his free hand. It looked as if the older man was already wrapped around his neck and simply enjoyed how it felt to know that he was the reason for his complete loss of control.

But he must want more, the same way you yearn for more.

Speeding up his motions, Hyungwon bit his lips to contain his moans, but it was in vain. He enjoyed the fullness despite the discomfort at the beginning. Hyungwon gasped just thinking about more, about feeling more pleasure while those black eyes watched him, reacting to the way he looked.

It's fueling you and intertwining the two of you like two ropes.

As soon as he spoke, he saw hesitation on the breathtaking face, eyes that glanced down to the older man's trunks, followed by a quick headshake. Hoseok was denying himself again for his sake, even though Hyungwon wanted nothing more.

No.

His lips spoke in Alian even before he decided to, asking the older man to give him all of him, everything there was as he slammed his hips down and moaned from the pleasure. His toes curled from how good it felt and his thighs flexed to stay in place, savor the sensation for as long as it lasted. But it was too short, always too short.

You have to bridge the remaining distance between you.

The pleasure left him like air in a balloon, resulting in a feeling of gaping emptiness as the dark, round eyes focused on him, curved lips parted and black hair covering the gorgeous forehead.

"Do you want me inside of you, Hyungwon? Do you want to sleep with me?" Hoseok asked, fingers tightening in his thighs as he got rid of the condom and held onto his legs instead.

Is he scared?

Hyungwon couldn't tell, but the words didn't scare him, not really. He had already gone further than what had been done to him and anxiety wasn't waiting for him around the corner. There was no fear, no dry lips and no nausea, only arousal and the knowledge that bridging the last bit of distance would allow him to hold onto the older man, to keep him close.

It's the closest you can be to him. There is nothing closer than this.

He took a deep breath before replying, struggling with the lack of stimulation and how much his body wanted it. He yearned to be the source of Hoseok's pleasure again, the way he had with his lips before. It felt like they were one when their eyes met, pupils wide with arousal and the need to be connected.

Hyungwon crawled closer, thighs still shaking from the remaining tingling and wrapped his arms around Hoseok's neck, kissing those curved lips again. He needed to let the older man know that he meant it, he wasn't a puppy that needed to be pushed away.

"You're the only one I trust," he finally replied and closed his lips around a patch of skin below Hoseok's jaw. It tasted delicious and Hyungwon wanted to cover all of it with his tongue while the older man moaned because of him. He wanted it so badly that his grip tightened in fear that Hoseok could change his mind. "Sleep with me. Please."

Round eyes glanced up at him from under the raven black bangs that created an intense contrast between the older man's hair and skin tone. Hoseok didn't say anything, merely holding onto him before he finally decided to move his fingers. The touch was gentle, almost careful as it travelled from his thighs to his stomach, circling his hip bones and brushing over his nipples with more pressure.

"Would you mind lying on your back? I can see your face like that and can make sure to give you the pleasure you deserve," Hoseok's low voice whispered into his ear while he was pushed back by the boa's body weight.

Hyungwon sucked his lips into his mouth, feeling his adrenaline spike and his heart hammering loudly in his ears. He nodded and let his head rest on the sheets. They smelled a little like Hoseok and that knowledge alone was sufficient to calm him down. The black-haired man resembled a predator, but the tenderness with which he treated him told a different story.

He's worried about hurting you, not the other way around.

"I can take a lot," he whispered and hesitated to spread his legs. It felt filthy somehow, just like the sound of Hoseok's fingers when they were still moving in and out of his body.

"It's not about you being able to take a lot, it's about the feeling. I want it to feel amazing for you, not make sure that I fit. We will take our time and do it at your pace." Hoseok took another condom and ripped the package, rolling it over his thick, veiny erection, before spreading lube over it. His hands looked delicate, completing each movement with a natural elegance, no matter what kind of motion it was.

Again he is only thinking about you. How can he deny all of this?

"Your hands are so tender," he whispered and reached out to stroke over the pale digits, eyes observing the expression on Hoseok's face. The older man looked focused, not as gone as Hyungwon wanted him to be.

But it's not time yet.

"Come here," the beautiful black-haired man said, sitting down between his spread legs, taking his calves and pulling them on top of his thighs. "It might seem like a weird position, but it feels amazing because I can move right where it feels good. Try to relax a little bit." An astonishing smile lit up Hoseok's face as he shifted closer and Hyungwon could feel the warm, wet tip against his entrance.

Hyungwon felt the genuine expression tug at his chest, constricting it, but he enjoyed the way it felt. He nodded again, not daring to look away from Hoseok's face. There was no real place to put his hands, but they seemed obsolete, so he arranged them above his head, ignoring his black curls that brushed over his wrists.

"You're so beautiful," he whispered and smiled back. Hoseok always felt so safe to him.

"Thank you. So are you," Hoseok whispered and curled his fingers around his dick, increasing the pressure while his free hand reached for his nipples, playing with them.

Hyungwon gasped and couldn't help the way his body tensed automatically. The only thing even remotely the size of Hoseok had been a rather bad memory and his breaths sped up as he thought about it.

"Would you kiss me...please?" he whispered, even though he knew Hoseok would have to bend forward.

You need it.

It was practically impossible to kiss in the position they were in, so Hoseok reached for his wrist and pulled it towards his mouth. A soft touch of the other man's curved lips against the back of his hand was accompanied by the dark eyes that fluttered shut. "I'll kiss you until you can't speak after you’ve gotten used to me."

Hyungwon nodded with a smile and closed his eyes for a brief moment, focusing on the soft thumbs that rubbed circles over his nipples and sent small waves of pleasure between his legs.

"Go ahead," he murmured and opened his eyes again. He wanted to see the expression on the older man's face, know how it felt for him.

Hoseok could feel how he relaxed as he pushed forward, moving his hips and slipping inside his body, hissing loudly. "Oh my god, I thought I was prepared but I guess the feeling in my fingers is different."

"Does it… feel good?" he asked and couldn't help the way his body contracted involuntarily. It felt tight and his body seemed to be opposed to the intrusion despite Hoseok going slowly. His fingers tingled and he took a few deep breaths to relax and be ready for more. There was no real pain, but it felt like the older man's length spread him slightly past his muscles' comfort zone.

"It's a lot, right? Does it hurt?" The older man moved a bit forward as he relaxed to think about an answer, bridging a few more centimeters easily with the amount of lube they used.

"No, it doesn't really hurt. It only… feels like a lot." He smiled and removed his right arm from the sheets, stroking over Hoseok's muscular thigh instead. He liked how he could tell whenever the older man felt good as the firm muscles flexed.

Hoseok hummed lowly while moving back and forth carefully, slipping deeper inside him with every thrust. The older man was concentrating as if he was suppressing his own response while trying to pay attention to his face, gaze not leaving it, not even for a second. "Try to relax a little more and I promise that I'll make you scream as soon as I can move freely."

"O-okay," he stuttered, immediately embarrassed that he couldn't act like a grown ass man. He nodded and took a few deep breaths, contracting his muscles before relaxing again to get a feeling for what relaxing really felt like. Whatever he did, it must have felt good for the older man as he saw his eyebrow twitch as a gasp escaped his pretty lips.

"Just like that, baby," the low voice whispered as the gorgeous man rolled his hips sensually, burying himself inside his body, thighs touching his behind and fullness overwhelming. "Good Lord, you're gorgeous," Hoseok said and twitched inside him.

Hyungwon gasped, body contracting involuntarily this time. He felt embarrassed at first, but as soon as he saw the expression on the black-haired man's face, he knew that it was worth it. There was something empowering knowing that Hoseok reacted that way because of him, his body and the way he looked.

"It feels really full but-" He smiled playfully and shifted his hips, gasping as soon as the older man's length stimulated and burned him up in a matter of seconds. He was so sensitive that as soon as Hoseok found his sweet spot, he lost all awareness of discomfort. He simply wanted to be stimulated, even if it meant he screamed Hoseok's name and forgot himself. The small shift had been enough to want more immediately, hips repeating the same motion as he whimpered, fighting his desire to ask for more.

Only a moment ago you were embarrassed, but now you want him to take you without holding back.

"Oh, that's the good thing about being big, you can hit easily," Hoseok chuckled and rolled his hips, hitting dead on and moaning right into his face.

Hyungwon was so loud that he covered his lips with both palms, feeling his whole body tremble from pleasure, thrusting back as if he couldn't be without. It seemed needy, but he couldn't help it. It felt so good that he wanted to pull Hoseok even closer, push back against the older man's motions and lose himself in the pleasure.

"Please," he begged in Alian even before he recovered from the burning in his lower body.

"I should be the one saying please, gorgeous," Hoseok mumbled while his hips moved sensually, connecting their bodies and making him feel dizzy with the pleasure that the older man was able to provide.

It was slow enough to remain aware but intense enough to make his words incoherent. He moaned and begged for more, unaware of which language he was even speaking. The nails of his right hand dug into the older man's thigh while the other tugged at the sheets. White was constantly covering his vision whenever Hoseok thrust forward. Hyungwon couldn't help a low whimper when the older man got a bit slower. His body was faster than his lips, attempting to scramble closer and feel the same pleasure all over again. He wanted more, to have only white littering his vision while the muscular man's moans got louder and his hair messily covered his forehead.

"God, please," he managed to force past his lips again and left red lines on the other man's thigh.

"Do you want me to go faster? I can bend you in half too, if you like." The muscular figure shifted and lifted his lower body while leaning over him and bending him in half, curved lips attaching to his and hot tongue licking into his mouth hungrily. Hoseok started moving faster, hitting without mercy and exhaling roughly against his lips.

There was no chance to say yes, none at all as he screamed instead and attempted to silence himself by biting into the older man's firm shoulder, skin warm against his tongue as his body lit up like a candle doused in gasoline. The pleasure was too much, but so good at the same time, making him dizzy and breathless. Scream after scream was muffled in the pale skin and his arms reached out to scratch over Hoseok's back in an attempt to have him closer and make him move faster. Release appeared to be at the tip of his tongue, only a breath away.

Hoseok slowed down, only moving torturously slowly with a smile on his lips that was interrupted by the rough exhales as he tried to catch his breath.

"You're clenching around me, so you must like it, right?"

"Yeah," he breathed out, struggling to keep his eyes open as he leaned in to kiss the older man's lips. "You feel so good that I can barely breathe."

"It sounds like cringy bullshit, but your body is like, made for me, puppy," Hoseok muttered, rolling his hips and letting out a breathy moan. "Should I go all out and you come for me?"

Hyungwon would have been embarrassed by how quickly he nodded, whimpering again as his toes curled behind the older man's back. He would have, but he didn’t give a single shit as Hoseok moved a little and he found himself moaning loudly.

"Take me," he gasped, again in Alian because it felt safer, lessening the likelihood that Hoseok would understand how much he wanted him.

"I can't believe that I have to hold myself back, that's a first," the older man said and started moving in and out of him, slamming his hips into his body and stabbing the sweet spot mercilessly without break. Hyungwon's vision blurred and he gave up containing his sounds, screaming each time the older man moved inside of him and moaned at how good it felt. The dizziness caused him to let go of Hoseok's shoulders and let himself fall to the mattress, thighs burning with his approaching orgasm. He felt so close that he began begging without a break, repeating the same words over and over again, only interrupted by the gorgeous man's name. There was no pause this time, nothing to hold him back as the pleasure rose and finally exploded in his groin, pulling a low scream from his lips as his whole body contracted before turning limp, chest rising and falling quickly.

Hyungwon barely managed to open his eyes and focus them on the stunning man above him, sweat drops collecting on his forehead and shoulders. Hoseok was so beautiful that he wanted to lean in and kiss all of it away, keep him inside his body for as long as he was able to.

You're so emotional.

"You are beautiful. Really." Warm hands stroked over his chest and wiped his release from his stomach with a tissue that the older man found while he was almost passed out.

But he hasn’t come yet, he stopped because of you.

Hyungwon bit down on his bottom lip and clenched on purpose, observing Hoseok's face. It was worth it, calmness immediately making room for parted lips, eyes that rolled back and a loud moan that was accompanied by a movement of the older man's hips. The sweat was running down the gorgeous face and made Hoseok's pale chest glisten in the barely lit room.

"I want to ride you," Hyungwon murmured, fascinated by the sight and how much he wanted to see more of it. "Will you let me?"

You will control the movements so he can't hold back.

"How could I possibly say no to that?" Hoseok said, but he was not prepared for the thickness to leave him. The older man didn't seem to care, simply letting himself fall on the mattress next to him and patted his thigh, after pouring some lube on top of his dick.

Hyungwon stared, dumbfounded by how easily Hoseok controlled himself, pretending like he wasn't ridiculously aroused and wanting nothing more than to bury himself inside his body.

You'll have to work on that or improve your own self-control.

Still chewing on his cheek, Hyungwon crawled towards him, climbing on top of his lap as suggested and reaching out to line up the thick length with his body. Even though Hoseok had moved inside of him only seconds ago, he felt hesitant to just slip down.

Because you haven't hit the spot by yourself yet.

He held his breath and forced his body to relax, observing Hoseok's face as he slipped down, all the way until his behind touched thighs. It immediately felt so full that he moaned, falling forward and holding onto Hoseok's shoulders.

"I feel the same," the beautiful man under him pressed out before moaning with his head thrown back, raven black hair sprawled over the grey pillow. "Fuck me up, puppy."

How could you say no to that?

Hyungwon smiled, holding onto Hoseok's shoulders as he smoothly lifted his hips, enjoying the slide especially if it ended up hitting the spot inside him that felt so good. His body didn't seem to care about his recent orgasm as it immediately throbbed again, buzzing accompanying each motion. He wanted Hoseok to feel good, so good that he wasn't able to hold back anymore. He clenched on purpose and sped up, slamming his hips down and gasping at the sparks of pleasure. The black-haired man under him was so breathtaking that he couldn't slow down, not with the way the tousled hair and the constant twitching inside of him spurred him on, accompanied by rock-hard chest muscles.

Hoseok started talking, telling him how gorgeous he was, how amazing he felt around him and that he was close.

"Please don't stop," were the final words before a loud groan and the older man's delicate hands that curled around his hips and pushed him down as Hoseok twitched inside him repeatedly. "Oh god, puppy," he breathed out, staring at him with his round eyes and parted lips.

Hyungwon gasped at the additional sensation of heat inside of him, accompanying the twitching. He liked the way it felt, but didn't dare mention it, scared to break the moment as he merely exhaled roughly and stroked over Hoseok's cheek. It was soft, freshly shaved and added intimacy to their proximity.

"You said you feel the same," he murmured and sucked his bottom lip into his mouth, worried about what the older man was going to reply.

"Mhm. You feel so good," the low voice whispered as Hoseok tried to catch his breath, still twitching inside him occasionally.

It was about pleasure.

He hummed, realizing how out of place he suddenly felt, lower body throbbing and eyes unsure where to look. Hyungwon had been convinced that he could make the older man his by having him as close as possible, but none of the words fit the feelings in his chest.

"Yeah," he muttered and brushed through his curls with his right hand. "I never thought I'd do something like this, but I'm glad I didn't hurt you."

The dark eyes fluttered shut for a few long seconds, before glancing at him, as Hoseok lifted his upper body slowly, gaze staying on his features until their faces met. "What do you mean? You sound disappointed, that wasn't my intention. Rather the opposite. But let me pull out, it's a little strange to talk about things that matter while being inside you." The older man looked serious as he curled his fingers around his hips and lifted him, breaking the connection between their bodies. Hoseok was quick to get up and disappear into the bathroom.

The separation made it even worse, taking away the warmth and reassurance Hyungwon enjoyed before. The thin thread of control that was wrapped around his little finger had ripped so easily, getting tangled with the sheets like his limbs. His thoughts hurt, just like his disappointment. He wasn't sure what he expected, but he had hoped for a change, a sign of affection that went beyond his body.

You asked him before and he merely told you to be quiet.

He coughed because of the dryness in his throat and covered himself with the blanket, still sitting on his calves.

Steps sounded and the mattress creaked under the additional weight. Hoseok sat on the edge and reached for his hand, pulling it towards his lips and placing a kiss on top of it.

"I'm sorry that you are disappointed. Would you tell me why?"

"I thought you meant that you love me back and not that I feel good from the inside." There was no point in hiding it, Hoseok was going to figure it out sooner or later. He shrugged to appear nonchalant and stared.

"I'm not used to talking about my feelings or confessing to anybody. I have no idea how to do it or what you expect from me. I only know that it's definitely not your body that I adore and that I can't just throw a confession at you because you told me that you are in love. I haven't even thought about my feelings yet, I don't know what it means for me and I don't even know what I'm supposed to do with the fact that you're here because I was so sure that I could only allow myself to look at you through the screen. However… " Sighing in resignation, the black-haired man brushed his thumb over the back of his hand before letting go. "I'm sorry that I made you feel like that. I didn't mean to hurt you."

He tried to remain emotionless, all this time.

Hyungwon's lips trembled as he struggled to remain calm and composed, but he knew that Hoseok could tell while holding onto his hand.

"It's easy once you know what you feel," he whispered, but the seconds that stretched afterwards showed that it wasn't as easy as he liked to make it seem. His heart was thumping in his ears as everything he had ever learned during his lifetime told him that it was bullshit and not something he was supposed to say. Hyungwon allowed himself another deep breath before meeting Hoseok's eyes, as black as always. "I love you."

The dark gaze remained on his face while the muscular figure shifted closer, pulling him into an embrace. "I will take it and cherish it. I hope that I will be able to give you something back," Hoseok whispered into his ear while his arms pulled him flush against the older man's chest. Hyungwon merely nodded, wrapping his arms around the broad neck and inhaling the familiar scent. Muskiness added to it, probably because they had been close only moments before.

You never thought you'd find yourself in a situation like this.

"I told you that the attachment is mine to bear," he replied and held in the impulse to cry. There was no reason to. The older man cared, only not to the same degree that he did. It wasn't anything new and it wasn't a type of pain he didn't know. It merely reappeared like an old friend as he sucked oxygen through his lips and held it in for as long as he was able to. "I will love you and be happy that you haven't pushed me away yet."

"The attachment isn't yours to bear. That's why I said that I will keep it instead of telling you that I don't want it, you fool." Hoseok climbed on top of him, weighing him down, and grabbed his face with both palms. The older man stared into his eyes for a long time before he finally leaned in and connected their lips in a kiss so soft that it resembled the touch of a feather.

"Will you hold onto me while we sleep?" Hyungwon asked, voice no more than a whisper. It reminded him of feeling vulnerable and weak, helpless even, but somehow it was always alright next to Hoseok. It was alright as long as he could be sure that the warm body on top of him wasn't going to disappear, leaving him all over again.

"I was about to tell you about the boa being a loner, but I can't, because I want to hold you." The black-haired man let himself fall to the mattress and took him along, curling his limbs around him tightly. "I'm wrapped around you without biting. This has never happened before, so I guess you're a little bit special, puppy."

Hyungwon inhaled the familiar scent and focused on the warmth and affection that Hoseok was finally showing him. Brushing over the pitch-black hair, he realized that it felt exactly the same, reminding him of the bed in Hoseok's apartment and the times they spent together.

"Can't you stop being the boa for a moment?" he asked and placed a kiss on the pale cheek. "Can't you be yourself, be Hoseok?"

His words must have surprised the older man as he tried to look at him, but it was futile as his face was buried in the crook of Hoseok's neck.

"But you said that you were fascinated by the boa, that you wanted it to be yours. Why would you change your mind now? Being the boa is how I decided to live, I can't stop just because you ask me to, can I? I don't even know who Hoseok is without the boa."

"I do," Hyungwon replied and lifted his head from Hoseok's neck. "The boa fascinated me because I wasn't sure what was behind the danger, what could explain the affection despite teeth against my neck. I think I know now and I've seen Hoseok. It wasn't for long, but I did, right before you hid him along with the boa."

It was there, right at your fingertips when he embraced you, unwilling to let go.

"I prefer to think that we are one, the snake and I. Like that, there is strength in what I'm doing so I don't get hurt and can deal with anything that gets in my way. I'm stronger, a better person when I'm like this." Hoseok seemed a bit embarrassed at his mention of their last meeting, glancing to the side and chewing on his cheek while playing with his curls absentmindedly.

"Is it that terrible to be weak with somebody you care about? I am weak all the time when I'm next to you. Do you judge me for it?" Hyungwon wanted to catch the insecurity in Hoseok's gestures, wrap all his fingers around it and keep it safely clutched to his chest. It felt like a present, something rare that he was only able to see for a few brief moments.

"I don't explicitly judge you, I simply think that you're strong because you're showing weakness. And foolish. You let me hurt you, even though you should be like 'I made that scary asshole drop his goal and talked him into my goal and now he doesn't bother me anymore' but instead you are here. With me." Exhaling roughly, Hoseok stared at the ceiling even though there was nothing interesting to see.

"Because I love you," he replied and the words were easier the second time around, rolling off his tongue and spreading warmth in his chest. It felt calming to finally understand himself, to know why he was so attached and unable to let go, why Hoseok's departure hurt so much that he felt like dying would have been a blessing. "I love you so much that I cannot help it."

"You must be some kind of divine creature. There is no other explanation for falling in love with somebody who tried to ruin you, hurt and manipulate you all this time. God, I would've been in so much pain." The words were a whisper and followed by a jerk in the muscular arms, a traceable reaction to their emotional value.

"I was," he whispered back, stroking over Hoseok's hair in careful motions. "But I was also hopeful, hopeful of the fact that you held back and didn't bite me meant something. I hoped that the way you hesitated and acted towards me meant that you cared in the end. I didn't know about love then, but I thought I had a chance to convince you, to show you what really matters. In the end, I selfishly wish it had been me and not my goal."

Hoseok shifted and covered them both in a thick blanket, wrapping his arms around his shoulders and placing a soft kiss against his lips. "I like you, puppy," he whispered before the words made room for silence that stretched between them in the tiny space of Hoseok's apartment in a city he didn't know.

This much is enough, isn't it?

He nodded and closed his eyes, holding onto the warm body and relaxing in the tight embrace.

Hyungwon had always accepted everything that came his way, since the day his home had been ripped from him along with the person that he loved the most. How could he ever ask for more?

Because he told you that you deserve it.

 

***

The shadows on the ceiling moved slowly, then quickly, big, nightmare-like creatures, growing in size like his fears, pushing the boundaries of the possible, before succumbing to the lack of light and disappearing out of the window.

You should sleep.

His eyes closed for a few seconds, but opened again, facing the shadows, his fears and the fact that he couldn't fall asleep. He had no idea how much time had passed since Hyungwon cuddled up to him and fell asleep on his chest, one leg placed on his groin and long arms wrapping around him loosely.

It's been a long time since you liked someone.

Even the thought sounded strange, the fact that he was feeling something towards another person. That it was enough to care despite his goal and the current strategy he was pursuing. Hyungwon's breaths tickled his neck but he didn't dare move because it might have broken something.

You can't keep it.

It hurt to admit to it, but he had to. It was the only way to be prepared to send the beautiful boy away in the morning. He couldn't be weak like that when puppy didn't want to leave.

He will fight you.

How could the boa want to be wrapped around someone’s neck, enjoying the warmth but not even consider biting them? He was supposed to be alone, working on the goal that he had set for himself, instead of hoping for someone to override his decisions and reverse them.

There is no other way. You can go to him after you are done with this. Just this one project, you can go back to him and think about what you are able to give back for the love that he gave you.

Hoseok still couldn't believe the words the black-haired boy spoke, talking about love repeatedly and how hurt he looked when he couldn't say them back.

You can't. You can't just keep him next to you, isolated from everyone and everything.

His breaths became irregular as his thoughts started turning in circles around the fact that there was no real solution. However, he closed his eyes and listened to the boy's continuous breaths. Like this, in the middle of the night in his tiny apartment in Berlin, it seemed as if everything was right. As if the weight on his chest wasn't the result of his feelings and decisions that he had made for himself, but simply the beautiful curly head that rested over his heart.

_

 

His eyes opened because the August sun warmed his apartment like an oven and sweat collected on his forehead and his chest that felt warmer than the rest.

Because he's with you.

Jerking briefly, Hoseok reached for the black curls and raked through them, massaging the boy's scalp and feeling how hot he was. They had ditched the blanket in the middle of the night, remaining stark naked and melting into each other like milk and honey ice cream. Glancing at his alarm clock, he almost had a heart attack.

The next train is in an hour.

"Wake up, puppy. It's time," he whispered and kissed the curly curved shell of Hyungwon's ear before blowing cool air against the pretty curls.

The boy merely shook his head and covered a patch of skin close to his collarbone with his plump lips. Hyungwon seemed reluctant to wake up, eyes remaining closed and breaths feeling hot against his chest. Hoseok was also reluctant to pull the younger man out of his blissful dreams, but there was no way he could stay next to him for longer than a few hours.

"But there is no alternative. I have to get up too. I can make you a cup of your famous coffee if you wake up quickly," he whispered in reply and kissed the boy's soft cheek, keeping his lips attached for a few seconds longer than he had intended.

Hyungwon sighed and nodded, reluctantly peeling himself off Hoseok's body and brushing through his messy curls. He looked gorgeous with black hair covering his forehead and a little bit of the blanket pooling at his feet.

"I'm used to lack of sleep, it's your body heat that I already miss," the boy replied and climbed off the bed, wincing in discomfort. Hyungwon didn't remark on it though, pretending that he was alright and glancing around as if he needed to remember where he was for a moment. The sight must have been unexpected as he turned towards Hoseok with a frown. "I dreamt… that we were back. Back in your old apartment."

"But it's the place for you and your family. I won’t go back. I don't go back once I leave a place," he murmured and sat up, letting his feet touch the warm wooden floors. Sighing briefly, he went to the tiny dresser that occupied the space under the window sill and took out a fresh pair of underwear. "Would you like to have new underwear too? You're lucky, because I still have one unopened package."

Hyungwon nodded and stepped closer, smile playing around the corners of his lips.

"It's fascinating for me to see you here, in an apartment this small. When I found out where you really live, I was so convinced it was exactly where you belong, but now that you threw it all away it seems like there is nowhere you belong." The black-haired boy swallowed before turning away, hiding his face as he made his way towards the bathroom. "Not even with me," he whispered before closing the door behind himself. It didn't take long for water to run in the sink.

He's right. You belong nowhere.

"I belong with my goal until it's reached," he murmured in reply, but there was no way that Hyungwon could hear him. Using the time that the black-haired man was washing up, Hoseok put on his black jeans and started making coffee. The minutes ticked by as the departure time of the train came closer, but instead of joining him in the kitchen, Hoseok heard the shower turn on.

He won't make it easy for you. Did you forget why you left in the first place?

Exhaling loudly with his hands digging into his sides, he walked the few steps to the bathroom and opened the door that couldn't be locked anyway. A cloud of misty fog covered his sight for the first couple of seconds, before he could finally make out the black-haired boy, eyes closed as he let the warm water run down his face, drops following various paths down his broad shoulders to his narrow waist. Only the water that collected at his smooth jaw had a quicker way down, dropping to his feet immediately.

Hyungwon didn't open his eyes and didn't turn towards him. Instead the younger man kept enjoying the water, big hands holding onto his own hips.

Hoseok allowed himself to observe for a few moments, before stepping closer and opening the shower door.

"Wow, you don't look like the puppy you are when your hair is wet. I'm confused," he murmured and grinned while his eyes took in the breathtaking sight. Hyungwon looked absolutely stunning, long body covered in water.

"Must be the lack of curls," the boy replied and finally opened his eyes, right hand brushing the long hair back in a smooth motion. A smile brightened Hyungwon's features as he suddenly grabbed Hoseok's arm and pulled him under the shower, using the brief moment he wasn’t paying attention. The warm water was quick to soak through the heavy fabric of his jeans and underwear, drops pearling on his lips until the younger man leaned in to kiss them away.

"Want to join?" the low voice breathed out even though it was too late to ask.

"I see you're not intending on making it easy for me," he whispered, completely soaked and staring past the water drops at the gorgeous naked man next to him as soon as he moved back.

The train, Hoseok.

He nodded to himself because he knew, he knew what he was supposed to do, but his body didn't seem to care, wrapping one arm around Hyungwon's narrow waist while his free hand sank into the wet hair, grabbing a fistful and leading the boy towards his lips.

"Why would I make it easy for you?" Hyungwon gasped and didn't hesitate before curling both of his arms around his neck while easily rubbing his right thigh over the soaked fabric of his jeans. "If I did, you would only discard me, as easily as you should be discarding these jeans."

Only the way the boy's Adam's apple bobbed, revealed the adrenaline in Hyungwon's blood. The boy used one of his hands to stroke over Hoseok's naked chest until he reached the waistband of his jeans, long fingers carefully slipping past it.

"Is a later train really worth it?" he breathed out in between the ministrations as his teeth travelled along the younger man's gorgeous neck, it was bitable and smelled deliciously like cherry. "I'm not discarding you, you fool. I'm staying away from you. That's two different things."

"Things that hurt similarly," Hyungwon replied and pulled him up, sucking his bottom lip into his warm mouth and playing with it as he deepened the kiss. Again puppy had learned so fast, observing his reactions and acting accordingly, long fingers teasing his groin without really touching him yet. A few strokes of his hand were enough to get distracted and to let go of his neck and use the other to open the button and pull down the zipper. "Every second is worth it to me. Fighting is the only thing I know how to do, Hoseok."

"I'm not used to it. Nobody was ever able to fight back because I've never hesitated to bite before I met you." His hands explored Hyungwon's smooth back and curled around his cute butt, reducing the space between their lower bodies and hissing at the rising arousal that tingled his groin. Hyungwon was so incredibly attractive, but it wasn't because of his looks alone. It was the younger man's behavior, his readiness to fight the huge boa while being a puppy in a tight grip, his unconditional display of emotions towards him.

What did you get yourself into?

"There's always a first time," Hyungwon murmured, hiding a gasp by biting down on his lips. There was no need for the boy to hide that he enjoyed it, Hoseok could tell anyway, observing the increasing color on Hyungwon's cheeks and the blood rushing to the younger man's groin. Kissing his lips briefly, puppy sank to his knees, long legs folded under him as he tugged at the fabric of Hoseok's jeans. "You took mine, can't you take the second too?"

He means his first time?

"You want to have sex with me? But… aren't you uncomfortable after yesterday? You were so disappointed and I couldn't fall asleep thinking about it. I don't think it's a good idea," he whispered through the sounds of the water while licking the drops from his lips. Sinking down to his knees and barely fitting between Hyungwon and the tiled wall, he grabbed the boy's handsome face with both palms and placed a kiss on the tip of his round nose. He could have left it like that, but he snatched another soft kiss from those thick lips before leaning back.

"I was disappointed because I thought it was my body that you wanted. You've said it yourself, you're not discarding me, only staying away from me. You're denying yourself, but there is no reason for me to do the same." Hyungwon didn't wait for his reply before kissing him, lean body pushing him against the shower wall as the boy licked into his mouth while still pulling at the fabric of his jeans to get rid of them.

You have time until the next train.

Hoseok got up and left the stall, undressing quickly, before visiting his bedroom and bringing along the stuff that he needed to be close again. He couldn't believe that Hyungwon wanted to have sex after yesterday. He must be sore.

He will fight you, that's what he said.

He walked straight to the shower, dumping the condoms and lube onto the tiny shelf for the shampoo and took the boy's firm thighs, lifting him up and pressing him against the warmed up tiles.

"I really want to bite you," he hissed quietly.

"Why don't you?" the black-haired boy asked back, hiding the gasp that left his lips at Hoseok's sudden actions. Hyungwon's hands were holding onto his shoulders, scratching along the sensitive skin as he encouraged him. "How many times have I told you that I like it?"

Many times. You are scared because you like it too.

"I like it too much. I prefer to stay away from things that have addiction or attachment potential, and you are an explosive mixture of both things, which is why you need to take the next train." His hips moved forward, arousal obvious as he pushed the boy into the wall, holding onto his legs and licking a long strip from his earlobe down to his collarbone.

"But I can tell you like the mixture, why would you let it go?" The black-haired boy was holding his breath as he played with the strands of Hoseok's hair and shifted enough to stimulate his groin, eyes observing him intently. "I want you just as much as you want me if not more."

"What will you do if you get me, puppy? Keep me in a terrarium and feed me dead mice? That doesn't sound very attractive to me, but your goal did, so I'm on it. Unfortunately…" He inhaled sharply and continued his path before playing with the boy's nipples. "Unfortunately, I only belatedly realized where my hesitation and affection was taking me."

"The right way, that's where you are going," Hyungwon muttered and tugged at his hair to improve the angle of their kiss, breaths becoming ragged and urgent. "I never planned on having you as my pet snake, Hoseok. I want to slip my fingers in between yours and hunt with you, move step by step while learning how to improve, how to be somebody that helps you instead of endangering you."

The talk moved into dangerous terrain and he was quick to rip the condom package and roll the latex over his fingers, lubing them up quickly.

"I'm the one endangering you, you fool. I'll be careful," he murmured and reached behind Hyungwon who hung in his arms, holding onto his shoulders tightly while he spread the lube over his entrance. The boy immediately gasped at the sensation, not quite expecting it at first. Once Hyungwon relaxed, lean arms wrapped around his neck and plump lips left kisses below his earlobe.

"I've seen enough to bear that as well," the low voice whispered and tugged at his hair again, struggling to have him closer, close enough to kiss.

"Sshh, puppy, you have family and friends. Let's not talk about the same things all over again, I want to see you feel so good that you see white explode behind your eyelids. I want to keep that image and use it to calm myself down and gain strength." Hoseok chuckled and used the moment when Hyungwon relaxed to insert both fingers into the younger man's tight, hot body.

He was immediately blessed with a moan and a nod as Hyungwon struggled to move his hips, whimpering when Hoseok didn't pump them in and out of him right away. He could tell that the boy was sore, jerking briefly in the beginning and glancing away each time to conceal it. However, as soon as Hoseok found the spot he was looking for, all hesitation disappeared within seconds as the younger man moaned loudly and scratched over his arm, desperately asking him to move his fingers.

Hoseok previously planned to let the younger man do it himself while he watched, but the reaction was like a drug, occluding his senses and making him want more after a few moments.

His hand moved while he held the boy pressed against the wall while getting a tiny bit of friction himself. "Do you like it?" he asked. "I really want to watch you do it yourself. With your long, pretty fingers."

Hyungwon was chewing on his lips as he nodded furiously and tightened his grip on his shoulders. The boy's brown eyes met his and he could easily see a hint of embarrassment, light pink color that hadn't been there before and couldn't have stemmed from the hot water.

"I... thought of trying it, while standing here and thinking about you."

"You can try it now, for me. Would that be fine? I… really want to see how you look with your gorgeous long fingers inside your body." Hoseok removed his hand and let Hyungwon slip down the tiles until his feet touched the white floor of the shower.

"I'll… try it," Hyungwon whispered and didn't bother to take a condom as he reached for the lube with slightly trembling hands and poured it over three of his long fingers. He seemed unsure, but his groin and the frequency of his breaths showed that he must also be excited. "How… would you like me to do it, so you can see? Like this?" The black-haired boy turned around and glanced over his shoulder, lubed up hand far from the water and close to the smooth curve of his behind.

"The most important thing is your pleasure, so you need to be able to curl them well. Pick a position and I'll find a way to see what I want to see." Smiling, he stroked over the curve of the boy's lower back and his pretty butt, slapping it lightly.

The boy whimpered at that, but contained the sound by biting down on his cheek. He looked beautiful as he faced the wall and rested his head against it, breathing heavily. Hyungwon didn't look back at he reached for his entrance and perfectly copied Hoseok's movements. The younger man began with careful circles to spread the lube and only dared to push his index finger in when he relaxed sufficiently. The slide already evoked a beautiful moan and Hyungwon kept his lips parted for more sounds as he looked for the sweet spot, hand curling but not appropriately.

"You're gorgeous, baby," he whispered, touching the beautiful man in front of him and feeling how aroused he became from the sight alone. "You need to push a little deeper and then curl it downwards," he suggested.

Hyungwon nodded and shifted a little closer to the wall, leaning forward with the minimal space he had as his thin index finger slipped deeper inside the long body. The boy looked gorgeous, breathing rapidly and whimpering as soon as he found the spot. He mumbled something, but Hoseok couldn't tell what it was. The brief touch of his sweet spot must have been good enough to repeat it, as puppy began sliding his finger in and out of himself, only allowing several thrusts before he let his middle finger join. Hoseok could clearly see how the boy's thighs contracted more frequently and his free hand attempted to hold onto the wall to remain in place. Low moans filled the shower, joining the steam.

"It feels good, right? You look gorgeous, babe," he whispered, stroking over the curve of Hyungwon's pretty ass. The younger man merely nodded quickly before speeding up his movements and struggling to keep himself upright. His moans became louder, but didn't quite reach the volume that Hoseok was able to evoke.

"It does," Hyungwon gasped eventually and paused to catch his breath and add another, pumping three long fingers in and out of his body, up to the second knuckle. Pleasure was quick to numb whatever discomfort there might have been as the boy sucked his lips into his mouth and whimpered when his legs almost gave out and he had to stop for a few seconds to remain coherent.

"I can't believe you haven't touched yourself like that before. What a waste." Leaning over, he kissed the boy's wet back before sinking his teeth into his shoulder.

"It is considered... grotesque where I'm from, not something that's becoming of a man," Hyungwon whispered and hissed at the sensation of teeth. The fluent motions of the boy's hand resumed, as if the bite fueled him to continue, moaning against the shower wall.

Hoseok wanted him, be one with him again. Seeing how rapid the boy's breaths and his moans became, he rolled a condom over his length and lubed up.

Hyungwon glanced to the side, observing him for a moment before the younger man held his breath and removed his fingers, rinsing them in the spray of the shower. "I... cannot imagine how freeing it must be to grow up in an environment where all of this is okay."

"You still have to fight for it," he whispered in reply. "Do you think your love for me is wrong?"

"It doesn't feel wrong," Hyungwon replied quietly and turned around, big hands stroking along his forearms until they reached his shoulders, circling them as the boy's lips grazed his. "Do you think humans are meant for it? For falling in love and finding a second half, having a person that one can feel at ease with? I never thought I needed one, but as soon as you left I simply fell apart. Like a house of cards."

He thought about Hyungwon's words for a few moments before placing a soft kiss on the beautiful red lips and replying.

"I think we are only meant for living the time we are given to be alive. Everything else is what we construct in this limited frame and period. You think I am your second half? I think you're perfect on your own. Having a half implies that you aren't complete, but you are, puppy. You are strong and persistent, you could accomplish so many things if you did them instead of coming here to be with me. But then again, you're persistent and I'm seemingly weak."

"You seem to hate being weak, but I yearn for it. I'm so sick and tired of being strong for everyone. You're the only person that gives me the feeling that he can bear my weight, as weightless as I might seem to you." Hyungwon kissed back, holding the contact for longer than before as he inhaled deeply and leaned his forehead against Hoseok's. "It scares me that all this time I've learned that falling in love is destined and controllable, something that comes with time, but here I am, falling involuntarily like being pushed."

"How am I supposed to pleasure you if you squeeze my chest like that with your words? I can't concentrate," Hoseok whispered and wrapped his arms around Hyungwon's waist, pulling him closer and not caring about the lube being washed off.

The boy smiled, reaching out to brush through his hair and cup his cheek. The motion was affectionate and only tightened the figurative grip the younger man had on his chest.

"You say that I'm complete and can reach so many things on my own. I agree, I can and I have achieved a lot, but at the same time, you have made so many things possible for me. You aid me in reaching my goals and complete me in a way I didn't know I needed before." Hyungwon's Adam's apple bobbed as the boy swallowed and clashed their lips together, long legs easily wrapping around his hips as the other man jumped up. "I want you to complete me again, even if both of us are whole on our own."

Swallowing down his concerns, his precautions, thoughts and feelings that started to occupy his chest; Hoseok lubed up again and let the boy's back touch the wall, as he pushed himself inside the tight body carefully. His heavy breaths hit Hyungwon's full lips and it felt intense to be so close and feel the same sensations together.

"I love you," the younger man whispered, as if he wanted to fuel the intimacy, holding on to him tightly and gasping at the feeling of being filled. It was just as tight as before and Hyungwon's additional tension, contracting around him repeatedly, only added to their connection.

There were no words that he could have said to that, to the way it felt when Hyungwon confessed once again, pulling him into his body. There weren't, so he kissed the attractive young man instead of pointless words, letting him slide down his length until his hips met the warm skin.

Was it on purpose? Did you hesitate to go too far away, so that he could find you in the end? What happened to you?

"What am I supposed to do about this?" he whispered to himself before attaching his lips to Hyungwon's long neck. The younger man moaned softly, holding on tightly and tugging at his hair to allow their eyes to meet.

"Allow me to complete you too? To add to your whole?" the boy asked, eyes dark and lips trembling a little. He felt overwhelmed by the sight as the boy's words seemed to warm him up from the inside, from some spot that Hyungwon must have hit involuntarily.

"Just wait for me. Just for a little while," he whispered and rolled his hips sensually.

Hyungwon moaned and dug his long fingers into his back, pushing back as much as he could. Those brown eyes were still focused on him when the younger man nodded slowly, before finally throwing his head back. Hyungwon closed his eyes and basked in the feeling, mouthing 'I will' in Alian.

He will wait, so you'll have to come back. At least once.

The thought was scary, but somehow also acceptable. He could go back after the big reveal, knowing that there was no danger for any of them. It was something to look forward to. Until the next big goal.

Since when are you looking forward to anything when there is no strategic goal behind it.

He didn't dwell on it further, instead, he started moving his hips faster, rougher, before slowing down again and nibbling along Hyungwon's gorgeous collarbones and sucking on his small, dark nipples. The boy became less and less coherent, moaning loudly and scratching over his skin and leaving thin red, irregular lines. He looked gorgeous with his head thrown back and goosebumps spreading along his legs despite the warm water. It didn't take long for Hyungwon to beg him for more, pulling at his hair to make their hips meet faster.

"Touch yourself and come for me," he whispered, feeling his own orgasm approach and slammed his hips into the tight body while his moans melted into the sounds of water. It felt different, but he didn't know why. Sex wasn't supposed to trigger any thoughts and feelings, but here he was, wishing to keep his arms around Hyungwon's attractive body, observe his beautiful face, framed by the black, messy curls and hear his low voice saying 'I love you'.

The black-haired boy nodded and slipped his right hand between their bodies, wrapping it around his length and stroking along with Hoseok's thrusts. The sound that left those plump lips echoed off the shower walls and pushed both of them closer and closer towards the edge. It didn't take long for the slim body in his arms to wrap around him with a low scream, as Hyungwon released himself into his own hand, remnants disappearing along with the water raining on them. He continued moving for a little more stimulation before burying himself inside Hyungwon with a loud moan of his name.

Holy shit.

He didn't know how much time passed while they just stayed like that, breathing heavily and holding each other, but time was ticking independent of what he wanted. Glancing up, he kissed the boy's lips briefly before pulling out and helping Hyungwon down.

The younger man kept his hands around his neck to stabilize himself, breathing heavily. He seemed dizzy as he blinked a few times and rested his head on top of Hoseok's shoulder.

"This feels so intense," he whispered, sound barely penetrating the wall of water.

"It does. In addition, you are definitely insane for taking me twice in twelve hours."

"I forget about my struggles as soon as you move." Hyungwon chuckled and hid his face immediately, probably because of embarrassment. The black-haired boy rose up on his tiptoes a few times, probably to return the blood to his legs. "I'm sure my body can get used to it. The human body can get used to the most unlikely things."

"You seemed to enjoy it a lot, but we have to hurry up. I want to accompany you to the station. I can't work when you're next to me," he admitted and glanced to the side before deciding to step out and be a good role model.

He needs to leave.

He could feel the boy's eyes on him, but Hyungwon didn't say anything, merely turning off the water and stepping out himself.

There were no more words, only shuffling as they both got ready to part, even though neither of them wanted to.

 

Chapter Text

His seat was a light blue color, dotted with white and was even fancy enough to be able to rearrange it into a lying position. Hyungwon had only found that out by observing an elderly woman do the same as she took off her shoes and placed her naked feet on top of a newspaper on the seat across from her.

The scenery changed quickly, replacing grey houses and skyscrapers by fields and planned forests. At first glance it seemed like nature was going strong in Germany, but a detailed glance at the height of the trees revealed that they had been planted by people. All were the same height, the same type and perfectly straight.

The human ideology.

He pursed his lips and returned his attention to his hands, holding a big reusable coffee cup. Hoseok had bought it for him before handing him his train ticket and brushing over his hair once instead of a goodbye kiss. It was okay, Hyungwon hadn't expected much in public.

You only agreed to leave because he asked you to wait.

His skin was still tingling after their shower and sitting down wasn't very comfortable, but all of that didn't matter to him. Hyungwon had reached a part of his goal, he found Hoseok and explained his feelings. The rest was up to the older man, to fight with his inner demons that didn't allow him to be close to anybody.

His lips closed around the opening in his cup and he took a sip, enjoying the flavor and richness, he suddenly realized where it came from.

It has your spices. Did he put them in?

Smiling, he took another sip, realizing that he must have forgotten one of his spice jars back then, one that Hoseok decided to keep for himself. It was something simple, but the knowledge that it mattered to the older man made him ridiculously happy.

Now you will have to stay strong on your own, take care of your responsibilities until he returns.

Sudden vibrations in his little bag caught his attention, eyes immediately widening as he fumbled with the black fabric. He had left it on the seat beside him when he boarded the train and hadn't bothered to check whether anybody wrote to him after recharging his phone.

Instead of messages, there was only a call from an unknown number. Not hesitating for long, Hyungwon pressed the button and held it to his ear, heart hammering in his chest.

"Hi. Did you find a seat?" Hoseok's low voice said, sounding so beautiful, even from the speaker. "I thought I’d call you, so you don’t get bored."

Hyungwon's heart made a somersault out of the train window, as he straightened his back and contained a smile by biting down on his bottom lip. Hoseok couldn't see any of those things, but that was probably for the better.

"Yeah, there was space at the back of the train. I watched a woman and learned how to recline my seat, I'm an expert now." He laughed and brushed through his hair. Having Hoseok call him felt like a dream after only having his memory of the older man's low voice for the past four weeks.

Because he's not trying to run away from you. There is a reason for not coming along to Frankfurt.

“Well, you are an incredibly fast learner, that’s what I like about you. You suck up knowledge like a sponge.” Hoseok chuckled and he heard a bit of shuffling. “You can survive a bit without me, right? Being in love doesn’t mean that you can’t breathe. I’ll come back when all of this is over and we can talk about all the things I’ve avoided talking about until now.”

"I understand," Hyungwon murmured and belatedly realized that he was wrapping a curl around his index finger like an idiot. That must have been the reason the woman two seats over looked at him while shaking her head.

Maybe it's also your face, one can never know.

"I'll do my best to help you from here, riding your momentum the way you wanted me to. I'll… I'll miss you though." Swallowing he imagined another few weeks without Hoseok around. Knowing made it easier, but the loneliness still hurt. "Will there be a way to contact you?"

“I will miss you too, but you can call this number. It won’t make it better, but I will try to call as often as possible. I’m almost home now, but before I forget, how did you know where to look for me?” the older man asked while he heard the sound of a key unlocking a door.

"Huh? I saw you on TV, you were walking out of the parliament building during the announcement of the refugee health insurance bill," Hyungwon replied and secretly jumped up and down in happiness because he had a way to contact the older man. It was a first step, but it was much greater than he had hoped for after jumping onto the train.

It was silent on the other end of the line apart from a quiet ‘fuck’.

“You... saw me on TV?” Hoseok asked again, but he had no opportunity to answer as he heard a loud thumping noise followed by the sound of the phone dropping to the floor. Then there was nothing apart from steps followed by short beeps.

Hyungwon froze, pressing the device tightly to his ear and repeating the older man's name, hoping to be reconnected and the calm voice apologizing for dropping the phone. But nothing happened.

Adrenaline rushed through his veins as he quickly redialed the number and held the phone to his ear, barely able to catch his breath.

Please pick up, please be okay.

Instead of the long beeps there was a female voice saying that the number can’t be reached, repeating the same phrase all over again.

Fuck.

"Fuck," he hissed out loud and dropped his phone to his lap as he hid his head in his palms, breathing heavily and attempting to come up with a solution. There was nothing he could do, he was already halfway to Frankfurt and there was no way that he could find Hoseok without at least a hint.

Something must have happened to him, you're not the only one who saw him.

The fact that he was the reason the older man left the house, going somewhere as public as the train station, was his fault. His fault alone, nobody else's. Had Hyungwon found a way to be more secretive, Hoseok might have been okay still, hidden away from sight.

But he was on TV, they could have easily found him the way you did.

His breaths sped up again and he looked up, glancing around the train and struggling to come up with a course of action.

You have to make sure that he is okay. You can't do anything, but others can.

The air in his lungs burned as he dialed Hannah's phone number, mentally begging for the older woman to pick up.

“Hey, look, it’s your brother calling. Hi, Hyungwon,” the pleasant female voice replied as he heard Jimin laughing somewhere close by.

Again you are abandoning your responsibilities. The time to be weak is over.

"Hannah, it's urgent," Hyungwon muttered and struggled to keep his hands from shaking. He was so scared, so fucking scared that something had happened to Hoseok. "Do you know if your dad planned anything?"

“Dad? What do you mean planned? He is busy trying to keep his company together after Hoseok reported half of the important people to the police. Today is Mark’s hearing too, so I guess he is watching it.” Hannah told Jimin to draw her a car before coming back. “Why? Did something happen? You didn’t find him, right?”

"I did," Hyungwon replied and swallowed, realizing how close he had been. He should have stayed, maybe he could have helped somehow, prevented whatever it was that happened to the older man. "I found him and I'm on my way back to Frankfurt. He put me onto the train and went back, but- he was talking to me on the phone and then something happened, Hannah. There are enough people after him, I'm so fucking scared. Are you sure the company isn't after him?"

Again it was quiet on the other end of the line apart from the cheerful babbling of his brother who was talking about an appropriate color for his car in Alian.

“What do you mean something happened?” she asked quietly.

"I don't know, Hannah. He was talking to me and I heard him trying to open the door to his apartment and then there was the sound of something falling and the connection broke. I don't fucking know. I tried to call him again, but it just says his number cannot be reached, as if it was turned off. I'm so fucking scared." He took a few deep breaths to calm down, to remember that he couldn't dump everything on Hoseok's sister. She wasn't somebody who could bear his burden.

She's already done so much for you. Be strategic, Hoseok taught you.

"Do you have somebody who would know if your dad or somebody from the company found him?"

“I… I can’t believe that my father would ever touch him, but I’ll try to find out. The problem is that those people who were reported, have a lot more going on than the things Hoseok reported them for. It must have been one of them. I don’t think dad would go that far. I will call him. Please tell me his address and I will try to send someone there.” Suddenly the breathy voice sounded firm, strong, and resembled Hoseok.

"I will, but it's risky over the phone, so please decipher the letters, Jimin can help you if you need it. I don't want to endanger him more than… than I already have." Hyungwon ruffled up his hair and hated himself for getting Hoseok into such a situation in the first place. He didn't even fucking know if Hoseok was still alive.

But you need her help to find out.

Spelling out Hoseok's address in Alian letters, he relayed them to Hannah, hoping that it was easy enough for her to figure it out.

"I'll be there in two hours."

“I’ll wait for you. I’ll try to find out what’s happened, but please be careful too,” the woman whispered and thanked him before hanging up.

Hyungwon's hands were shaking when he lowered them to his lap, staring at the shining screen of his phone. Unsure of what else to do, he attempted to reach Hoseok's phone number again, but the same female voice repeated the same phrase endlessly instead of blessing him with the familiar low voice.

There is nothing you can do, try to relax.

The thought wasn't very helpful because his fear didn't care about whether there was something he could do or not. It made him want to jump up and run somewhere, even if there was no place to run.

You have to remain calm and look for him. You found him once, you can do it again, Hyungwon.

Hyungwon could bear getting hurt himself, deal with the consequences of his status and accept people looking down on him. But if it was a person he cared about, his veins burned with fire instead of blood and helplessness returned like an old friend.

You're not helpless, you're not on your own.

For the first time in years the words in his head sounded true.

_

 

When he finally stood in the Westend area in front of Hannah's apartment door, Hyungwon felt much calmer than he expected himself to be. Maybe it was because he was going to see Jimin again, his little sunshine that had been without him for over a week. It was a first and Hyungwon had only been with Hoseok for a single night.

Plastering a smile on his face to not make his little brother uncomfortable, he pressed the bell. Until now he hasn't seen much of the older woman's apartment, only the entrance from when he brought  Jimin to her in the middle of the night.

There was some shuffling, quick steps and his brother’s chubby face peeking through the door crack. Hannah removed the lock after confirming that it was him and gestured for him to come in. She was wearing shorts and a black shirt, which made her seem way younger than she normally looked.

Hyungwon nodded and wrapped his arms around Jimin who had already attached himself to his leg. His little brother seemed taller than the last time he saw him, but it must have been his mind playing a trick on him. Maybe even his guilt for leaving him for a whole week.

"How was it with Hannah?" he asked and smiled brightly, happy to see the round face and the big brown eyes. They were identical to his own.

"I got presents and swam in a lake outside!" Jimin wiggled to be let go and began taking off his clothes, throwing them down in Hannah's hallway as he waddled to a big glass door leading outside. "I'll show you!"

"You have a lake?" he asked Hannah, shocked that anybody could have enough money to have a lake on their balcony. It helped him to stay calm and distracted. If Jimin had something to do he could talk to Hannah in peace.

“I have a terrace with a bit of green and bought an inflatable pool. We had quite some fun and he was just about to go out again.” Hannah hugged his brother and pointed at the swimming shorts that hung on a chair. “You have to put them on, okay?” As soon as Jimin was busy putting on the bathing suit in the middle of the spacious hallway, the slim woman finally turned to him. Instead of whatever her reaction was supposed to be, she gasped, eyes widening and walking towards him. “Oh my god, who did that to you?” she whispered, reaching out and stroking over his neck with her cool fingers.

Hyungwon's eyes widened in confusion, reaching for his neck himself to cover the woman's delicate hands. He needed a few moments to realize what she was talking about.

There must be marks on your neck, you hadn’t seen them yet because Hoseok didn't have a mirror.

"Look!" Jimin exclaimed behind them and ran outside, almost stumbling over a step on his way to the terrace. Hyungwon merely nodded as he thought about how to explain to Hannah that the marks were made by Hoseok.

"He didn't recognize me at first. He said that someone sent hitmen after him before, that's why he-" He glanced to the side as his eyes widened, realizing that it couldn't have been the first time Hoseok was attacked. It had happened before, but this time they got him unprepared. "Shit, it must have been a hitman. Fuck, what are we supposed to do now? What if he's hurt somewhere and needs our help?"

“Oh my god, this looks as if somebody strangled you and you barely survived, shit.” It was the first time that he heard Hoseok’s sister curse. Pointing at his shoes, Hannah gave him slippers and brushed her hair back, messing it up in the process. “Let’s talk outside, I have to make sure that Jimin is okay. Coffee?”

Maybe you barely survived, who knows. You were always prepared to be bitten whenever you were next to him.

He shook his head in reply to Hannah's question and followed her. The apartment was spacious and tastefully furnished. There was nothing that seemed out of place and instead of Hoseok’s mostly naked walls, Hannah’s walls were littered with picture frames. A black-haired boy in one of the pictures caught his attention. He was wrapping his arm around a girl who was undoubtedly Hannah and looked like a teenager, sixteen, maybe seventeen years old. His shy smile looked gorgeous.

"That's Hoseok, isn't it?" he asked quietly and stopped halfway to the terrace, unable to tear his eyes away. "Do you have more pictures of him?"

“Ah, yes. He was always that gorgeous, but he didn’t choke people back then. I have pictures of him everywhere, we were like twins, hanging around together 24/7 when we were younger and before he decided that he didn’t need humans next to him. I also have whole photo albums filled. This picture is the day we both graduated. He was seventeen and I was nineteen. Good times.” Sighing, the slim woman walked a few steps further, pointing at one of the pictures that showed the same boy, raven black bangs covering a bit of his eyes and smile lighting up the whole photo like a beautiful sunshine. He was slim. Not as slim as Hyungwon, but definitely half the size he was now.

“Those two pictures are where you can see the development best,” Hannah whispered and took another frame from the wall, handing it to him. It showed a muscular blonde man in a black shirt. Hoseok’s face was tanned, unlike in the first picture and he was focusing on the camera with a gaze that made him slightly uncomfortable. “Those two pictures were taken seven months apart. The first one was taken before he went to Tibet and the second one after he came back. It’s only seven months but it seems like years, right?”

Hyungwon nodded slowly, examining the two photos. It was as close to observing Hoseok's transformation into the boa as he could get.

"His hair is black again, like here," he whispered and pointed at the first picture, at the gorgeous smile that he had seen