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In Between Yesterday and Today

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HAZY

 

Eye contact always gives him a weak feeling.

At least, with Kai Kim it does. He feels like a dried leaf falling from high heights, only whither away and crumble once it’s stripped away from its natural color. It’s the feeling of an unwanted penny that doesn’t bother to get retrieved once it’s fallen from a front pocket. Making eye contact with Kai Kim gives him this feeling of distance like a left behind leaf or penny would.

Kai sits with better posture than him, elbows refusing to touch the marble surface. He’s in a beige turtleneck and an oversized jean jacket. He clearly understands the temperatures in February in addition to having hot tea, whilst Taeyong indulges in an oolong milk tea with extra toppings, shivering.

Disregarding the feeling of his goosebumps forming, and the uncanny silence, Taeyong thinks for a few seconds. He plays irrelevant scenarios in his mind, imagining outcomes of what could happen depending on what he’d say.

It’s not like the man in front of him would bite him, or reprimand him — even as low as pouring the scorching tea at him, Kai would never — for saying something foolish. Albeit those eyebrows have a way of displaying intimidation and power, he knows the man’s kindness towards his fans and the people he works for. Taeyong has just never experienced it first hand. He doesn’t really want to, either.

Sometimes, Taeyong thinks he is so strange with Kai is because he doesn’t have to do anything. They’ve been meeting for a few weeks now, usually surrounding themselves in a popular setting, only the sound of their breathing while people mindlessly walk by. They don’t need to work well with whatever they have to work with. What they have, it’s something uncontrollable, out of their reach. They’re both uncomfortable and don’t have voices on their own. It’s best that they don’t speak with what they don’t have.

When he extends his arm out to his drink, he instinctively looks forward. Hazelnut eyes meet his, and boy , does Taeyong hate when Kai wears those contacts. It’s hard to look away, even if eye contact with Kai detaches himself — from himself.

“I think we should plan our next… outing .” Taeyong says without much thought. He didn’t prepare this conversation so he doesn’t know what to expect. And because of that, he looks over Kai’s shoulder instead.

“Doesn’t our agency deal with that?” Kai responds in a deep, disinterested voice.

Taeyong suddenly feels strong over the topic. He straightens up and crosses his arms before speaking, “They’ve already got us into this. I want some control. Having us choose dates and locations is the least they can do.”

“Okay.”

“Well,” Taeyong licks his lips, “Since they pay for our dates, I say we choose something awfully expensive next.”

Once they settle for a high end buffet somewhere in a city hours away a week from now, Kai willingly does what he did the last four times.

Walking out of the shop and onto the cement with a small crowd, it’s fairly simple to still see the ground and what’s ahead. It’s when Kai touches aren’t as strong as when they’re closer to Taeyong’s company building. His fingertips curl around Taeyong’s waist, safe for the both of them. With Taeyong not worrying about it being too much, and without Kai taking advantage of their proposition. Passing the palm trees twirled in lights, that’s when Kai becomes dedicated. It’s when all lampposts in the street meet as one and distract Taeyong’s eyes. Even closed, he still gets struck by bolts. The shutter clicks ring in his ears, as well as the fans and reporters piercing shouts. During it all, it’s when Kai wraps Taeyong’s shoulders with his jacket and brings him close enough for their hips to touch. He engulfs Taeyong with all his strength as he hurries towards the lobby entrance. Taeyong absolutely hates it; it must be the acceptance he gives Kai.

Each time, they end their outing as if the last part never happened. Taeyong never really thanks Kai because he always tells him not to bring it up. Many times, he forgets to return the jackets right away, earning curious expressions from Jaehyun. He, too, never really says anything.
Along with announcing to staff on the plans he and Kai made, he begs that they take him to his boyfriend’s home instead of his own. Taeyong realizes, he didn’t think about the long drive there and back that he has to endure, with Kai Kim for their next date.


TALK TO ME

 

Kai Kim had always dived deeper into this proposal compared to Taeyong, even if he’s the one who throws tantrums much more. He’s the one in the pair who tells off their managers when it’s necessary, the one who would slam the door behind him until it echoes when he doesn’t get his way. He refuses spending nights at Taeyong’s and never wants to kiss him, even something as quick as half a second. He seems to whine about hating this, yet he still gives smiles to cameras when they’re together, makes posts with captions about missing him, and holds Taeyong’s hand securely. He puts more effort in everything they do, despite the whining, and Taeyong can’t decode why.

Taeyong does it partially because he has a reputation to maintain. Still, that isn’t his biggest concern. He wouldn’t have cared if he received hate for dating someone with this type of platform he’s in. He would be happy that he could invite a person he loves to red carpets and behind the scenes of shoots. He would do it all if Jaehyun would allow him. But he doesn’t, because of Jaehyun.

It took a lot to convince Taeyong to date Kai, but it takes Jaehyun to get him through it all.

Jaehyun is bubbly, but reserved. He’s compassionate and sweet, reminding Taeyong of strawberries because despite the rough and confusing exterior, inside is just pure and sweet. He loves Jaehyun and would do anything and everything for him. If Kai is a distraction to the media from his shy college boyfriend, he’d do it.

Taeyong wonders more about Kai’s story. Just like himself, Kai had a reason to agree with it all. But again, Taeyong certainly did not cave in that easy. He thinks that Kai agreed with just a flick in that direction is because it gives him the opportunity for more popularity and practice. From what Taeyong knows, Kai only recently became public with his sexuality. He’s never been linked to anybody until this plan commended. Kai must be gaining plenty of talk for this, with Taeyong having been around a lot, in the industry and with others.

When Kai texts that he’ll be arriving soon, Taeyong launches out of bed as if he’s just been drenched with ice water. It startles his partner besides him, his body getting up just as quick. Taeyong sees this as a quick gift and revels in the look that is a shirtless Jaehyun after sex with beet, red cheeks and strands of hair in all directions.

“What! What are you staring at? Why’d you jump like that?” Jaehyun says, panicky, fighting his way out of bed but still being tangled within the sheets.

Taeyong kneels on the bed, reaching for Jaehyun’s cheeks to kiss him quickly as an apology. “I got a text from Kai and forgot to give him your address.”

“What? Why’s he coming here?” Jaehyun pouts. Taeyong can’t help but kiss him again, though Jaehyun isn’t having any of it and dodges him with a groan.

There’s a feeling in his chest that comes from the rejection. He ignores it and responds, “We’re meeting again.”

“Figured.”

“I have to tell him that I’m here. Not at mine.” Taeyong sighs, swallowing down what could have been an argument that dealt with all of this being for Jaehyun’s comfort and safety in the first place.

By the time Taeyong looks away from his apology message to Kai, he sees that Jaehyun is no longer in bed. He follows the trail of yellow blankets on the ground until he spots Jaehyun laying chest-flat on the couch. Out of everything so modern in that house Taeyong got him, the couch is what remains from Jaehyun’s bedroom back home. It’s the most comforting piece of furniture he has, despite the fragile tears and suspicious white stains of what had been created during high school. Taeyong smiles at the sight, but pouts immediately when Jaehyun won't budge.

“Jae, move a little. Let’s talk.” Taeyong insists, shaking his butt so he can nestle between Jaehyun’s leg and the left arm rest.

“No, you get ready to leave me tonight!” Jaehyun says with no malice. He’s teasing of course, but a sense of guilt still settles in pit of Taeyong’s stomach.

“I’ll bring you back something,” Taeyong pats at his boyfriend’s butt, “We’re purposely ordering a month’s worth of food. Name something fancy, Jae.”

“Don’t bother.”

Taeyong’s gentle smile falters, “Fine. Just so you know, I only go out with him to make it work for us. Because you weren’t ready to be exposed to the media. I never wanted this. You told me to go along with it all.”

Jaehyun can’t get another word out because Taeyong is already in the bathroom with his overstuffed duffel bag.

With the life Taeyong has, he tries hard to visit often to remind his boyfriend that, beyond the extreme success and his new celebrity friends, it’ll only be Jaehyun. Jaehyun, who he met when he was twelve because of a ticket raffle, the one who doesn’t like people talking about him or using him for his brains — and if he were to publicly date Taeyong, Jaehyun had once said he’s certain people around would use him for that connection, and he doesn’t want to land a media job with his knowing good looks. Jaehyun doesn’t want to live the same way as Taeyong.

It bothers Taeyong the more and more he sees Kai. There’s guilt, and stress, and longing. He feels the distance growing between them, an iceberg submerging into the ocean leaving itself to melt. He feels like he’s breaking down little by little because there’s no right way to please his boyfriend. No matter how much Taeyong sends him photos during he and Kai’s outings, with texts telling him he misses him, or how he tries to see him right after with both hands occupying plastic bags from takeout places, and even the bedroom intimacy following has been lacking.

Whilst getting ready, he doesn’t realize there’s a glistening stream of tears. He uses tissue paper to wipe it away hastily before applying uncommitted makeup. It’s always something extremely lighter when he meets Kai, whether on their dates or a formal meeting with him and his company.
Because of last time when he found himself awfully cold, he remembered to pack a heavier jacket. He doesn’t remember where it came from, but it suits the neutral top with his knee-torn jeans that his supporters seem to love so much.

The second he’s out the door, familiar arms secure him. He won’t admit that there’s something missing, but maybe it’s just because he isn’t hugging back.

“Taeyong,” Jaehyun mumbles against his neck, “Sorry. I forget why you do this, and for that I’m really sorry.”

“That’s why your sorry?” There’s tease in Taeyong’s comment. He’d always forgive Jaehyun.

“I was a dick? You offered food and I declined? So, I’m sorry.”

Taeyong finally wraps his arms around Jaehyun’s torso and presses his lips to his cheek. “All of the above. I forgive you.”
There’s a knock on the door that separates them. Jaehyun is on his way to acknowledge it, meanwhile Taeyong wonders if Kai will tell him he’s in the garage or something like he does usually within that context.

Taeyong hears a hum from the other side of the loft. He follows towards the direction of the door and sees Jaehyun leaning against the frame. His back has faint lines that are barely healing and it makes Taeyong wonder if they could do anything before he has to leave. He gets closer, wanting to be the center of attention and maybe if he can distract Jaehyun enough, he’ll slam the door on whoever’s on the other side.
It isn’t until he’s standing right behind him does he hear Jaehyun singsong, “So, it's nice to finally meet you, Kai.”

Jaehyun and Kai are practically the same height, so it was difficult to see him. But now with himself on his tippy toes, he can. Kai is looking left and right, almost about to walk away until Taeyong pokes his head even further more to the side to. Kai’s confused state occurs even more confused, but in a gentle way. It’s as if he’s gaining reassurance by seeing him. Taeyong is almost amused with it, like his chest tickles of something.

Taeyong tries to move towards him but gets a steady grip around his body, Kai is quick to say, “Is this a delusional fan?”

“No, no,” Taeyong giggles. He shrugs off Jaehyun’s touch and stands alongside them instead while they give each other this peculiar stare down. “Kai, this is Jaehyun. Jaehyun, this is my boyfriend, Kai.”

“Hey.” Kai says with a smug look.

The drawn out grin, it’s a bit different than what Taeyong is used to. He’s only seen this look in photo shoot pictures that he was forced to look through because his manager insisted he needed to get used to the man he’d be sitting across for the next six months.
He admits it intimidates him, and he knows sure as hell it makes Jaehyun feel small. He can tell by the way Jaehyun’s shoulders go loose and he’s looking away from both of them, towards the left at a potted plant his mother gave him as a welcoming gift.

“I’ll be down in a minute. Okay?” Taeyong says and only receives a nod from Kai in response.

Once they close the door, Taeyong is pressing his fingertips against Jaehyun’s chest, only to get shrugged off for the second time today.

“What?” Taeyong expresses a little irritatedly.

Jaehyun says with bare minimum effort, “Don’t bring anything back.”
In that moment does Taeyong know what this is really about. As gentle as he can be, he attempts to explain, “Jaehyun, he doesn’t know we’re— he doesn’t . And with everyone knowing that he and I are together, it’s only expected that you should know he’s my...”

“I know. I’m not mad. I just need to be alone. Clear my head. I really don’t think you should come home.” Jaehyun mumbles dejectedly and though slowly walking towards the windows, it’s clear enough for Taeyong to understand.

Because this is a loft apartment, there’s nowhere for Jaehyun to just hide until Taeyong leaves, so Taeyong gives him the satisfaction immediately before Jaehyun could lock himself in the restroom like he had done so himself earlier. It is his place after all, and Taeyong isn’t welcomed for now.

Kai is bowing to a lobby secretary by the time Taeyong arrives at the first floor. He finds it endearing because, despite being thousands of miles away from their hometown, Kai still brings traditions with him. Taeyong can’t say he remembers much from Korea besides the numerous dishes he can make.

“Hey.” Taeyong says without much emotion because it’s what they do. And maybe he still feels terrible for what had just happened.

Kai nods, escorting him out of the carousel door and into his passenger seat. There’s only one man with a camera this time around who manages to capture that, and a few more of the two of them buckling their seat belts before Kai can drive off.

The industry here is mad, Taeyong thinks. But in ways, he prefers it so much more. He wouldn’t of had been able to come out without people disrespecting his preferences. Fans would scream at him through all media sites and he’d lose their support and trust.  He might of been living in a garbage can that had property of said entertainment written on the forest green. It wasn’t worth it there. But here, here he feels right. Even if fake relationships are involved for publicity and extra bucks, he’d rather have it this way.

“Why’d you come here?” Taeyong says absently.

“You told me to pick you up at your friends house?” Kai shrugs, and Taeyong notices his shoulders, and the jacket clinging onto him and likes it a lot.
Taeyong laughs lightly before correcting himself, “Like, to America. Why? Hollywood industry just felt right to me. The freedom of different style. Not expected to have a concept or new hair during new releases. Not having to train for so long. Walking hand in hand with any person you love. For me, that’s what it was all about.”

It’s a little quiet. Taeyong thinks he’s spoke to much, because actuality, it’s the most he’s ever spoke to Kai at once, as compared to all the times combined. Just when he thinks he’s done something foolish, and is about to apologize Kai clears his throat.

“I was an idol in Korea, anyways. I happened to do a shoot here and someone interested had given me more options and treated me more respectfully here.”

“Idol, as in...” Taeyong grins. He thinks he can see this big, bulky boy dance in a schoolboy uniform and sing with a heavenly voice.

Kai shakes his head, “I did all you do. But don’t ask me to sing. Not going to do it.”

“I could probably find pre-debut clips of you.”

“It wouldn’t be hard, considering I came here about four years ago.”

“I’ve been here since I was ten.” Taeyong shares, feeling warm nostalgia creeping up.

There’s another gap of silence when Kai takes a left turn. But this is more comfortable than all the other times. For a moment he divulges into his thoughts, mostly, why had he and Kai tried so hard to not get along? There’s something here, as if they can develop a good friendship. It might be more tolerable to do all of this if they had that type of thing going for them.

With a second sharp turn, he’s also realizing, “Why isn’t one of our drivers taking us?”

“It’s just as weird sitting here with you. Why do I want one of them in here for an hour?”

“How am I weird? You’re the one who never wants to talk.”

Kai scoffs, “Maybe I don’t want to talk.”

“Fine. We’ll just carry on with every date in silence!” Taeyong whines.

He doesn’t know where the immaturity comes from but he even has as little control as to elbow the console between them and stick his tongue out at Kai, making incoherent sounds. He thinks he spits on him as well because there’s some street lights illuminating wet on his collar.

“You’re so immature. They could of set somebody up, my age.” Kai retorts but Taeyong doesn’t find much aggression in it.

Taeyong thinks he prefers these senseless banters than their typical empty silence. If Taeyong hadn't nudged any signs of interest towards Kai, they might of still remained tense and cold and distant as ever. It might take Taeyong to bring them to a state of friendship. He’d keep trying if it means

Kai trying to stifle a smile when he pretends to be so irritated.

“You’re a year older than me!” Taeyong shouts, masking his urge to laugh.

“I’ve lived an extra year more than me. I don’t think I deserve the raise of voice.”

Point taken. Taeyong sinks into his seat with his arms crossed. He listens to thick rubber grind against the smooth road, sounds of the engine releasing bad fumes for the environment, and basks in the glow of the sky dimming to its darkest time. He is amused at himself for not occupying himself with the only thing that kills his boredom, his phone. Something about this car ride gives him ease. It’s probably Kai humming to a pop tune subtly. He doesn’t mention it, but avoids humming along.

Up until they get to the parking lot, Taeyong straightens up and dips his fingertips into the dashboard, eyes widening at the sight of the massive building that feels like a room to get in touch with space and have the sky within fingertips reach. There’s a dome above the cream white structure and Taeyong thinks he can see green through it. Plants and their vines and roots, some sort in some way. He wants to take dozens of photos and send it to Jaehyun until he remembers the position they had been before he left.

“I didn’t know it as this nice.” Kai mumbles.

“It is nearly two hundred a person, but neither did I.” Taeyong says exasperatedly.

He hops out of the car sooner than Kai can, only stopping upon realizing he’s frantically running like a child about to go to a playground. He’s not a child, this isn’t a playpen. For anybody else surrounding him, they’d think he’s an immature menace.

Kai might think that of him as well. He’s always looked more luxurious and stuck up, as a celebrity compared to Taeyong. With that in mind, Taeyong takes a few steps back and waits for Kai to adjust his coat. See. Either, he replaced his previous outerwear because of Taeyong’s spit, or because he would never dare have the nerve to wear leather at such a high end establishment.

When a particular bright flash occurs, Taeyong instinctively reaches for Kai’s hand and holds tightly. When he feels a gentle squeeze, followed by a loose grip, he understands that it’s only a couple taking a photo for another couple. It’s nothing to worry about, but it doesn’t stop Taeyong from holding on.

“What are the reservations under?” Taeyong asks as a way of distraction.

“You. You’re the one who talked to your company. I didn’t.” Kai mentions.

Taeyong furrows his eyebrows and pockets his other hand nervously. He doesn’t want to disappoint Kai, because despite him trying not to seem so struck with awe, Taeyong can see it in his. He only responds with, “Okay we’ll go check.”

The inside is even more beautiful and picturesque. Taeyong has always had a hidden hobby for capturing scenic photos, and has dabbled in portraits and still photos. He imagines himself with his camera and preparing the right setting. He’d take a photo of the folded hands that rest on podium because the hostess maintains her position so firm and professional. He’d capture the deep blue and lilac purple in between the gold frame. He’d do it all. Though it would be difficult because this place is insanely busy.

Kai reminds him of just that as he comes back to Taeyong — when did he even leave?  — and announces, “There aren’t names under mine, nor yours. And don’t ask about our companies because it’ll be the same answer.”

“What’s the wait time?”

“They’re booked all night.”

Taeyong bites his lips and looks away from Kai, to be precise, he raises his head to the dome above and flutters his eyes shut. “It took an hour and forty minutes to get here.”

“Yeah. Not our faults.” Kai grumbles.

“I’m hungry. I haven’t had a meal yet.”

“Well what were you doing all day?”

My boyfriend. Taeyong and Jaehyun spend all day, like most, whenever Jaehyun isn’t at school or work and whenever Taeyong has a free schedule. It isn’t often that they get to spend time together. And when they do, they don’t go public. So, their date always result in delivery food and closed blinds.

At no response, Kai must be aware of Taeyong’s lack of interest in responding because tugs Taeyong out. He doesn’t protest because he’s not sure what they should do at this point.

When they’re in the car again, Kai is on his phone and Taeyong doesn’t have the energy or right mindset to bother. He willingly followed Kai just a moment ago, so that says something. He just pouts with his arms crossed over his stomach waiting until Kai desires to kick him out the car for being too gloomy.

What surprises Taeyong is when Kai starts the ignition and comments, “There’s a decent hot pot restaurant about twenty minutes away. Outside this shopping district.”

“Okay.”

Kai shifts in his seat, looking in Taeyong’s direction for probably the first time since they shared this car ride. He blinks slowly, before wording out, “Okay, what? Do you want to?”

Taeyong blinks back. “Will they have stir fry food? I wanted to come here for the buffet stand with the different grilled meat.”

“Probably. You can always just order pork or beef and use the stove.”

“Good idea. Onward, Sir.”

Kai gives him a strange look, something in between receiving an insult towards their hair and feeling as if they’ve stepped on gum.

Taeyong sucks in his lips, then breaths out awkwardly, “I won’t say that again.”

It’s strange how Taeyong’s fingers ache to text Jaehyun. It’s like millions of ants tickling his fingertips, all guiding him towards his phone. He badly wants to avoid Jaehyun and the urge to check in. He knows how Jaehyun gets when he doesn’t feel good. He knows that when Jaehyun asks for some time, he needs it. Jaehyun doesn’t often get irritated with Taeyong, but when Taeyong becomes too clingy, Jaehyun becomes frustrated. He can’t text him because it’ll end up making Jaehyun think something in the lines of, how am I supposed to trust you when you can’t even give me a couple of hours?

It’s happened before.

January 21st. Taeyong’s first post that made his relationship public was a snapshot of an instant photo on the surface of smoke grey wood, petals and tiny bulb lights around it. He and Jaehyun’s fingers intertwined with matching bracelets on their wrists. Only, everyone outside of Taeyong’s personal realm was supposed to think it was Kai Kim. And they had known so because Taeyong had captioned it @kai__kim planets aligned where we should be.

It was only a few days after he met Kai Kim, so he was certainly not comfortable with holding that stranger’s hand, even for the matter of this plan amending two weeks in advance of their first meeting. Taeyong remembers his refusal on posting anything of Kai, claiming that his name being tagged on his on boyfriend’s hand was enough. Even until now, Kai doesn’t know who’s hand that is. Nobody on Kai’s side really knows Taeyong’s reason, as much as Taeyong and his team do not know Kai’s reason of agreement. All this is, really, is one manager to another, claiming this covers up Taeyong’s ass and supports Kai’s. It’s enough for the two to agree.

So Taeyong sits, studying that image. He looks at his grid of photos, noticing that it’s the only one he’s ever posted despite them being open about this for a month.

Apparently it’s been written somewhere on the net that they’ve been seeing each other for practically a year, not becoming official until the holiday time. He doesn’t know which team came up with the plot, but Taeyong considers it romantic enough. No one has ever asked them about anything, so Taeyong doesn’t think about those trivial questions with its answers and would only prepare to say he’s madly in love with Kai, if asked.

On Kai’s page though, Kai’s page is almost full of Taeyong. He knows this because his manager asks him to email photos of himself and such candid photos taken from his original boyfriend. He expected it to be sent to Kai but never really acknowledged it until now. It apparently even takes him a month to realize he doesn’t follow Kai on the gram, only the bird app (though he won’t admit that he follows him on there because his photoshoot portfolio quality is better). 

“It’s about time.” Kai mumbles.

“Hmm?”

Kai raises his phone. “Finally you completed the mutual.”

Taeyong curls his fingers around his wrist and snatches the phone out of his hand, placing it back onto the stand against the radio. “Don’t use your phone while driving.”

“And your seat belt hasn’t been on since I’ve started driving.”

Like a lighting bolt, Taeyong tugs at the seatbelt and latches it frantically until he hears a click. He turns to Kai (half) frustratedly. “You didn’t bother to tell me?!”

“Nope.”

“You really hate me, don’t you?”

“Your words. Not mine.”

Taeyong sulks with a whine.

It’s seconds later that Kai is murmuring, “If I hated you, I would have made you drive back and not offered a place that had something you’d want to eat.”

Maybe Kai Kim doesn’t hate him, but he surely does hate Kai Kim.

This time around, Kai doesn’t take his time exiting the car. He doesn’t wait for Taeyong to follow either. Taeyong has to skip just to meet up with Kai, and now does he notice that when he’s with Kai, usually the man walks slower with his long limbs just to match steps with Taeyong.

Naturally, Taeyong wraps an arm around Kai. He immediately lets it go when they pass by a vacant building with their reflection on the glass. It’s just that, Kai’s frame is awfully similar to Jaehyun’s. And it’s his first time standing on the left of Kai, where he’s usually standing with Jaehyun.

“Sorry.” He mumbles while opening the door for Kai.

The pair manages to claim a spot rather quickly, ordering drinks and receiving fried shrimp chips. Under this warm tone dimmed light, he tries not to think about Kai’s ankle against his because it’s purely unintentional. Kai’s legs are long, he saw that earlier, he gets it. Boy’s gotta stretch.

Everything that Kai orders is a contrast of what Taeyong would expect. He gets oily things, he gets extra sides, even two orders of a four piece mochi ice cream set, though he requests iced tea. Taeyong is surprised, yet of course, shouldn’t be. They’ve only gone to boba shops and a theater once.

Never eating together properly. So Taeyong doesn’t know his habits or preferences that well.

Even if they’re still strangers with one another and this is supposedly a date, it doesn’t stop Taeyong from scarfing down his food. He still picks on chicken with his fingers, sucks at it, too. He doesn’t wipe his lips immediately when teriyaki sauce stains it. He makes it obvious that he likes to mix his sauces together in one plate to dip. The only etiquette he has is when he burps into his cloth and excuses himself for it.

Kai straight across him just stares. It’s a look Taeyong can’t decipher. It’s nothing negative. Maybe surprise. 

They’ve both been surprising each other all night.

To a point where they play paper, scissor, rock to determine which company credit card they use to pay for their meal. Though this was certainly cheaper than the first destination, they’ve still spent enough for their bill to roll out as the length of their dinner table.

The first thing Kai says when they’re on their way to Kai’s car is, “Back to where you came from?”

“Sounds dumb the way you word it.” Taeyong admits.

Kai seems amused and even says, “I’m glad we’re getting more comfortable.”

“It is nice.”

“No, it’s not.” Kai retorts immediately with a sudden aggression.

“What?”

And all of that is suddenly gone as Kai barely breathes out, “Nothing.”

Taeyong doesn’t know him enough to pry. There’s a comfortable level they’ve reached together and he can’t ruin it by jumping ahead, again.

“Anyways, back home.”

Disinterestedly, Kai responds, “Why? Weren’t you going to bring that guy food.”

“I got kicked out, apparently.”

“Ah, so you two are fucking.” Kai has that smug grin on his face, that similar one to when he and Jaehyun had come face to face.

“Shut up.” Taeyong pesters and leans his head against the window, eyes still lingering on Kai.

Kai shrugs. “Hey, hey. It’s fine. None of my business. Makes my job easier. I don’t have to please you like that.”

Taeyong finger flicks Kai’s forehead, at least, whatever side part of his head that he can get a hold of while he’s driving. “As if I would let you!”

“Lee Taeyong, there have been countless of times where I’ve caught you staring at my body.” Kai says with this silly tease.

Taeyong desperately wants to tell him to stop using that low and immature way of voice because it feels too comfortable for them even after all Taeyong has been trying to achieve between the two.

All lost in what he feels, he settles with a grumble, “You’re right. I preferred when we didn’t talk!”

“As do I.”

The sky is as dark as when they arrived to the grand buffet. Only difference is that Kai and Taeyong stick to their quote of silence is better.

For an unknowing reason, another imbalance is when Kai walks Taeyong all the way to the lobby of Taeyong’s apartment. He’s never done so before, then, Taeyong considers that it’s their first time where their outings have last longer than an hour. They’ve been out since evening light, a typical domestic dinner time but now the time ticks minutes away from midnight.

“I’ll eventually want that back.” Kai says when Taeyong reaches for the door.

Confusion clouding up his mind, he asks, “Want what back?”

“The jacket you wore today is mine. Good thing it isn’t my favorite. But it looks great in my wardrobe.”

 

DO WHAT WE HAVE TO



Days later, he receives a phone call from Kai when he’s on his way to pick up and deliver snacks to Jaehyun. In any other instance, he would decline and fixate his attention on his boyfriend, but Kai doesn’t just call out of nowhere. Kai wouldn’t. Maybe Taeyong doesn’t know him, but he knows that he wouldn’t spare a second out of his life just to make casual talk with Taeyong.

“We need to meet up.” Kai says deeply through the speaker.

Taeyong only responds a quick okay, before sending an address of the sweets shop he’s heading to.

He completely forgets about everything else and centers his thoughts on what could be happening with Kai. His driving is hasty, and his other leg that doesn’t occupy the car functions won’t stop shaking. He doesn’t stop shaking, and he can’t comprehend why. He’s probably afraid to hear what Kai might say.

Kai called. Why would he call? It still gets to Taeyong that he called instead of texted or emailed.

Taeyong spots Kai outside of the shop, not surprised that there isn’t even a slightest mob with him. After all, it’s Taeyong’s favorite bakery for a reason.

“Hey. Kai?” Taeyong attracts the lean man’s attention, causing him to turn around.

Kai makes quick steps to Taeyong and brings him to the alley of the shop. He does a three sixty pace before standing face to face with Taeyong. “We have to kiss and they’re not taking no for an answer.”

“What why?” Taeyong surprisingly doesn’t stun with disgust, but concern.

“It was your dumb ass address thing,” Kai rolls his his eyes, “That single pap was paid to get those shots. He’s who followed me from my company to pick you up. After blog posts, your update accounts, they know it’s neither of our apartment locations. And you look — as some fans say — thoroughly fucked.”

Taeyong groans, tilting his head back to where it rests against the stucco wall, “Oh, ugh. It is my fault.”

“Sure is.”

“Hurry up.” Taeyong puts two hands on Kai’s collar, shaking him closely.

“Hurry what?” Kai pants frantically, trying to stray away from Taeyong.

Clearly Taeyong isn’t having any of it, and he can see there’s slight fear in Kai’s expression. It almost makes Taeyong laugh, if he had the funny bone in him right now, he would.

Taeyong digs his fingers into Kai’s shoulders, one hand snakes down to Kai’s back pocket where he retrieves his phone. He breathes out exhaustingly almost as if he could cry, “Just kiss me already. Do it, set up the camera. Send it, and I’ll post this off my page. I’d rather have this come from myself than tabloids.”

Kai doesn’t protest but just says, “Why not your phone?”

Sighing, Taeyong admits, “That’s too much heavy weight. As soon as I post it, I’m deleting every copy and I’m going inactive on my accounts.”
Neither of them break boundaries even if they’re meant to be broken. Despite Kai’s arm raised in the air with preparation and Taeyong’s strong will to get it over with, their lips are still foreign to one another. Taeyong’s arm is draped over Kai’s shoulder but he doesn’t have it in him to bring his face any closer to Kai’s. He’s on his tip toes and it’s causing an ache in his calf but he can’t complain because the same must go for Kai holding his phone in an unsettling angle. He gets why Kai isn’t making the first advantage, because from as much as he can know, Taeyong is off kissing another. Kai might not know what kind of relationship Taeyong and Jaehyun have, but he gives enough respect to understand that Taeyong shouldn’t be kissing another person. Even if it’s fake. That theory of Taeyong’s alone... a part of his chest lurches at that — Kai’s sincerity — and gives him a sudden push to alleviate the distance between them and have their lips collide.

The taste of his favorite cake is evident on Kai’s lips, even if either of them are hardly pursing their lips out within the kiss. Taeyong figures, if they’re at it, they might as make the most realistic and passionate known to the moon and its stars. He experimentally deepens the kiss, gasping when Kai swipes his bottom lip with his tongue. It feels delicate — Kai’s lips — like how fragile autumn leaves are, it feels light like a lavender scented dryer sheet. Kai is gentle, almost hesitant about their kiss. It must of been Taeyong’s gasp that had radiated any signs of discomfort.

Right now, he feels the opposite of that and almost craves to prove Kai otherwise. He lurches forward, pushing Kai against the brick wall behind him. It’s just the greatest opportunity to act upon his motives, eager for giving into the access that Kai gives him. Tongue and lips and saliva, it’s smooth. Everything about this is still in a dramatic and relaxing pace, nothing is frantic or lust driven. He regrets coming here, but he doesn’t regret kissing Kai Kim. Because it feels indescribable, like a tide hitting him relentlessly and being carried away, but something special in the air allows him to knows he’ll always survive.

Kai pulls away first, head knocking against the bricks. If Taeyong hadn’t felt so conflicted, he would’ve laughed. Wait, if it had been Jaehyun, he wouldn’t because he cares about him.

“There. You got it?” Taeyong hurries out, utterly breathless.

“Uh, yeah,” Kai looks down at his phone, anywhere but at Taeyong, “It was a video.”

“Yeah, I’ll just screenshot,” Taeyong says noncommittally. He shakes his head and retrieves his phone out of his own pocket when it chimes. Glancing at the thumbnail briefly, he says, “See, it was like a scene for a movie. You’ve acted before right?”

Kai shrugs. “Yeah. Once.”

Taeyong smiles at him, not feeling as if it’s genuine, “Well, there you go.”

The two nod and Taeyong looks over to the street where his car is parked without any change in its toll fee. He didn’t think he’d spend a long time where, considering Kai’s ultimately vaguely message. He stares at his car until seconds later, he can finally make his legs move towards it. 

“Taeyong.” Kai says when he’s barely nearing out of the alley.

“Oh, right. Thanks for doing this.”

Kai purses his lips before correcting, “No.”

“Then what?” Taeyong asks, tilting his head in sudden concern.

“We’re not talking about this, either.”

“Okay.”

It’s just another thing on their list that they don’t talk about. Their list isn’t that long anyways. Everything goes unspoken between them, it might as well feel like their list is too long.

Though neither of them are shifting in their place. Taeyong dwells in the features that exist now. Kai’s lips, plump and taken advantage of. In a sudden instant, he turns around and hurries out the alley. He doesn’t think, only making it a priority to escape from Kai. Because his chest is aching, his head is spinning. He feels as if he could collapse any second now because he and Kai just—

Everything happens all at once before Taeyong can reciprocate it.