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Trails of sunlight streaked amidst pallid clouds covering the blue sky, entering past curtains inside a tiny apartment in downtown Seoul. Radiohead's Pablo Honey album plays while two guys are eating breakfast like it's not 8 in the morning and they aren't running late for work. The lyrics of 'Creep' weave through words which reflect Jeongguk's state of emotions, your skin makes me cry. He kind of wanted to cry since last night.

Hoseok chokes on air in front of him.

"You got dumped..." Hoseok reiterates, this time, firmer and over the sound of Radiohead. His chopsticks are frozen midair, a konjac jelly pinched between the wooden utensil. "Again?"

Jeongguk tones down the volume of his phone, skipping the song, switching to Arlo Parks. He sighs, curling his toes over the hard floorboards, frustrated both sexually and emotionally. Maybe a bit off-kilter because his head's still pounding from last night's last minute Soju abuse. He could have gotten laid after months of adapting celibacy but life is a huge dick and apparently, his ass is the kind that's easy to fuck over.

"Amazing. Life really hates you," Hoseok says.

"Life is a hoe, hyung. It fucks anyone it sees," Jeongguk grumbles, swallowing the bland and soggy cornflakes.

"Highly relatable," Hoseok bites the konjac, slowly chewing the zero calorie food. He's speaking between bites, "I thought that was going good?"

"I think we just don't fit," Jeongguk says, slurping the cold milk from the bowl. "I dunno how to describe it...it's kind of like having different taste in music?"

Hoseok stares at him with eyebrows arched so high it might as well disappear on his forehead.

"Like, uh...I prefer grinding to Vagabon but he's the Pussycat Dolls kind of guy?"

Hoseok chokes for a second time that morning. "That was the reason?"

Jeongguk shrugs, pushing the bowl away from him. He grabs his phone to crank the volume up when 'Blow Out' floats from the tiny speakers. All the time killin' what I feel, he hoped those words were a different case. It wasn't. It depicts him getting dumped by Jimin, offered a cab ride home as compensation, memory vivid in terms of how he got told: 'I'm sorry. I don't think this is going to work out.' Those words contributed to debilitating sexual drive.

It's not like he only wanted sex, trust him, that's not it. Jimin is a pretty decent guy and Jeongguk would really date him.

But it's been long arduous months.

"He once joked that he won't have sex unless Pussycat Dolls is playing."

"Don't tell me that's the only reason," Hoseok purses his lips.

Jeongguk stares.

Hoseok rolls his eyes. "And you ask why you never get laid when you're this level of picky."

"I really don't wanna get railed to I'm a sexy mama," he crinkles his nose. "It reminds me of bad porn with actors calling themselves 'mommy'."

It would have been funnier watching Hoseok this incredulous, brows bunched together in judgment, lips gaped so wide a fly might as well enter and choke him to oblivion if it wasn't for Jeongguk's expense. Hoseok is trying to bite down a tirade about how stupid it is that different tastes in music could be an ultimate game changer for a relationship. Again, it's not the case. Jeongguk just plainly refuses to voice it out loud, (the fact that it's not Pussycat Dolls' fault) that Jimin told him he held the montage of a baby deer.

"I didn't need that mental image this early, dick. ...But if this thing with Jimin failed," Hoseok air quotes, forgoing his chopsticks to grab his mug. "This has been the...fourth time you got dumped?"

Jeongguk pretends he's deaf, standing up to dislodge his bowl at the sink. He grabs a clean glass and rinses it on the faucet before filling it with water.

"Let me recount it for you, Jeonggukie. There's Yugyeom from five weeks ago. Yoongi from three weeks ago," Hoseok lifts his hand and begins to count using his fingers. "Mingyu from two weeks ago and now..." He bends down his pinky finger. "This Jimin dude you met a few days ago. Are you a heartbreak collector?"

He turns to give Hoseok the stinky eye, glass paused by his lips. "I'm more concerned about how you're able to accurately keep track."

Hoseok snorts. "You even have notes about what you liked and disliked about the dates."

"Hold that thought there, Regina George," he lifts a finger to stop Hoseok from speaking, sipping water. "How did you even know about that?"

"You and I, my dearest Gukie, breathe the same air and use the same toothpaste."

"Fuck," Jeongguk coughed the water he drank. "You're the one going through my toothpaste like changing underwear!"

"That's a bold claim. I only squeeze a decent amount!"

"How many times a day?"

"Er. About four...five...?"

"You don't need that much fluoride on your teeth!"

"I have you know," Hoseok says slowly. "Giving a blowjob twice a day tends to cause foul breath."

"I didn't need to know how frequent you give blowjobs, fuckface," Jeongguk makes a face of disgust.

Hoseok scoffs. "I don't shame your taste in romance movies! The Kissing Booth? 1 and 2, even!"

"Marco deserved better!"

"That's not what you said when Noah came back from Harvard to suck Elle's face o--"

An alarm blared from the table, phone vibrating and producing the noise. It's the work alarm sound. Picking up the device made Jeongguk realize it's already 8:20, remembering that he has a 9am orientation schedule and he didn't have time left to argue with Hoseok whether Noah truly deserved Elle or not. The walk to the subway station takes fifteen minutes from where they live, too. He's fucked.

"S'no good. Shit, I'm gonna be late!"

"In short," Hoseok says. "You're going to get fired."

Jeongguk throws him another glare. There's this thing about Hoseok that Jeongguk loved to hate and hated to love: he's warm but very, very blunt and if he hates someone, they'll know it. He's the epitome of the 'no shitting on my lawn' type of guy. Hoseok also finds it fun, telling Jeongguk "You're going to die alone," while offering him hot cocoa with a sweet smile whenever Jeongguk gets his heart broken.

And he also has a habit of kicking Jeongguk out whenever he brings someone home.

"If I get fired and fail to pay the rent, you won't be able to find a roommate who endures getting sexiled for hours!"

"I can do that."

"No, you can't!"

"Fine. I can't," Hoseok sighs, pushing the chair while standing up and grabbing his used plates. He waddles to the sink to dislodge the used dishes. Turning around with arms crossed over his chest, he's asking Jeongguk in a tone like he just remembered something: "Wow. Isn't this your first day at work?"

"Not helping!" Jeongguk bemoans, running back and forth from his room to the living room and back again until he's sure he didn't forget anything. Keys. Wallet. Phone. Bag. Lip Balm. Gummies if the orientation drags out. Check. Jogging to the front door in a jiffy, almost tripping over his feet while grabbing shoes from the rack, is an acquired feat in itself. He checks the time on his wristwatch and curses. 8:24.

"Yup, you're going to get fired."

Jeongguk ignores that, opting to focus on why he feels breezy from the lower half of his body down to his ankles. Opening the front door while struggling to insert one shoe past the heel of his foot, (alternately hopping while doing so) he shouts a brief, "I'm leaving!"

The least he could do is not turn up late on the first day.

"By the way," Hoseok pipes in when Jeongguk is already halfway through the door. "Nice Johnny Bravo boxers."

Jeongguk takes a full moment to process that. How did Hoseok know about Johnny Bravo...?

"...you're very in character with your physique," Hoseok hums thoughtfully. "They'll appreciate the dedication."

Realization occurs in terms of what those words meant, causing Jeongguk to freeze with the door ajar and his hand on the knob. Blinking, his gaze flickers from the apartment complex's railings, down to his legs, which are apparently, very exposed and naked.

He mumbles a soft and defeated, "Oh fuck."

Hoseok's hooting bounces as Jeongguk scrambles back inside the house with a pained whine.

 

 

"Wake up!"

The duvet's getting tugged off a body cocooned within.

"Nooooo! Five more minutes."

Curtains are pulled sideways, revealing a view exclusive only for high rise condo living. Sunshine filters through the glass, illuminating a sage-themed bedroom. The body stirs while nestled deep in thick blankets, burrowing inside the covers to escape the onslaught of poking from stray hands.

"Taehyung," a stern voice reprimands. "When I allowed you to live with me, it also means you abide by my rules."

"I hate you," Taehyung grumbles, words slurred from sleep. "I'm telling Dad you suck."

"I doubt he'd appreciate his sons getting piss drunk on a work night, either," the voice chides. "Come on! Move or we'll leave you."

When Taehyung made no move to comply, a frustrated huff emanated before the pillow underneath Taehyung's head got snatched, his head bouncing down the flat mattress as a result. He whines, the complaint cut when the pillow smacks him in the face with force, knocking sleep away. Taehyung shoots up, affronted. "What the fuck, hyung!"

The voice snickers, the pillow tossed down Taehyung's lap. Socked footsteps thud along smooth wooden floorboards, before a door creaks open. The steps halt, followed by an instruction, "Breakfast on the counter. Finish at five and we'll leave at twenty."

"Twenty?!" Taehyung gasps, incredulous. "What can I do within twenty minutes?!"

"Namjoon-ah's already up, you cretin," the voice answers him, an issued challenge for defiance evident.

"Are you shitting me? Joon-hyung's more wasted than I was--"

"Namjoon-ah!" The voice who scolded Taehyung shouts, sound ramming inside the condo. It didn't take that long for another one to call back, "Yes, Seokjin-hyung?"

Seokjin turns to Taehyung with a smug smile, all crisp and ready with pressed long sleeves tucked in black slacks. His hair's styled neatly, slicked with no stray strand. His tie's elegantly knotted and the only missing thing to finish the attire is a suit jacket. Taehyung huffs petulantly, swinging his legs to the side of the bed, toes curling to wake the veins up. "This is so unfair."

"You should stop drinking when you can barely hold your liquor."

Taehyung glares at him. "At least, I'm not like you who issues bets and loses them."

It throws Seokjin off the loop, confusion dripping in folds. "What? What do you mean?"

An interim of brief silence falls, Taehyung looking equally addled due to the look that surfaced from Seokjin's face. The bafflement didn't last long because Taehyung is able to catch the telltale sign that showcases how he can use Seokjin's confusion to his advantage. It's not often that Seokjin gets confused this way and it's an open invitation to tease him.

Taehyung grins wolfishly. "Oh," he says. "You don't remember?"

Seokjin furrows his brows, not getting it.

"Too bad," Taehyung hums nonchalantly. He's standing next, stretching his muscles like a cat, twisting his body to get rid of kinks. A satisfied groan tumbles off his lips followed by a sly, "It was a spicy good bet."

"...What?"

Taehyung's grin impossibly widens. "You were so sure of winning."

Seokjin narrows his eyes. "Taehyung-ah..."

"Gosh, you seriously suck. It got me thinking if life was a poker game," the look on Taehyung's face morphs to devilish naught, akin to that of a Cheshire Cat. "I'd be able to kick your butt."

If there's one crucial thing passed around their family, it's not to let Taehyung gain an upper hand to anything. And in that moment, Seokjin surmises, it's what exactly is happening. There's growing trepidation of what this 'bet' might be about, resolve to be rapidly debilitating because he doesn't remember hosting a poker game. It didn't help that the only memory vivid last night was them laughing at the recent Running Man Episode and laughing more when Namjoon slipped off the chair and landed ass flat on the floor.

There wasn't any particular recollection about a bet.

Seokjin tries to read past the braggadocio. He crosses his arms over his chest with an accompanying frown and the use of his hyung privilege to demand answers. "Taehyung. My house, my rules."

He isn't all that lucky.

"That's your weakest comeback yet," Taehyung chuckles, padding across the room to grab his bath essentials. He doesn't answer, letting the query linger in the air. He glances briefly at Seokjin who adorns a weird mixture of clueless frustration and helplessness. He stops while pulling out a white bath towel from the closet, thoughtful. He lets silence stretch before slowly facing Seokjin then saying, "Hmm. Since you look so miserable right now...you challenged us to strip poker."

Seokjin inhales sharply. "Strip poker? Why would I do that?"

"It's indeed pretty stupid," Taehyung shakes his head in mock disappointment.

"Unbelievable," Seokjin says incredulously. "This sounds like an elaborate scheme, Taehyung-ah."

Taehyung gasps, pseudo offended. "Hyung! You know I would never!"

They stare at each other. Taehyung adorning an infuriating veil of smug and Seokjin reading the lies beneath the lines, continuously, until the feat develops to an impromptu staring contest and the cold air causes Seokjin's eyes to stutter from the itch due to dryness. It's him who folds first, sigh accompanying his admission of defeat. Taehyung hoots while returning to grab what he needed for the bathroom.

"Alright, fine. If I did challenge for strip poker, what was the bet I ended up losing?"

"Hmm. There are a couple of things, hyung."

"...Go on."

Taehyung wiggles his brows. "Posing as a stripper, for one."

What? Seokjin blinks. "...There's an 'and' there somewhere."

"That...and," Taehyung passes by Seokjin who's lingering by the door. He looks smug with a white bath towel slung over his shoulder and hair sticking to all corners. "Dancing to Britney Spears for a Bachelorette Party."

Lying had always been Taehyung's strongest suit, but growing up with him allowed Seokjin to discern which was genuine and which was not.

Like that instance.

The statements reeked of nothing but the truth.

Ever since childhood, Seokjin's been the subject of many bombshell news. Thunderbolts came to him in forms of surprise birthday parties, surprise gifts, surprise awards, surprise break-ups, surprise get togethers, surprise fuck ups. But none of those aforementioned warranted this level of shock. Posing as a stripper and dancing to his childhood nightmare Britney Spears was something entirely new. He's so floored he might as well journey to the center of the Earth and melt with the magma running through the core.

He'd rather be burned with molten rocks than give in to the incredulity sprouting out of Taehyung's mouth.

So, of course, his first instinct is to deny.

"This isn't real," Seokjin declares. "Nope! You're mad I woke you up early so you're trying to get back at me."

In his mind, he expected the reaction to be Taehyung agreeing and telling him it was all a joke. They'd laugh and proceed to go about their day like nothing happened. But when Taehyung looked at him blankly, bunched brows and pursed lips, Seokjin did the next thing he found plausible: panic internally.

There's really nothing but truth in the claims he begins to wish this moment is nothing but a dream. It's so cathartic that he hears all ounces of hope shattering so loud right next to his ears.

"Fuck me with a chainsaw," he bleats weakly. "You're not doing this because you like seeing me suffer?"

Taehyung looks offended to be accused of such atrocity even if Seokjin didn't imply it hard enough that he's indeed accusing Taehyung of such atrocity. But Seokjin's stubbornness was like the weeds that used to grow on his mother's lawn. He squints, muttering, "I still don't believe you."

"Fine," Taehyung rolls his eyes, so done with Seokjin's shit. "You need proof. I'll give you proof."

Seokjin nods. Taehyung heaves a sigh that strangely sounds like 'I told you so', then calls for Namjoon.

"Namjoon-hyung!" Taehyung shouts. There's a loud grunt. Taehyung follows his call with a blasted query. "Seokjin-hyung's going to be a stripper for a Bachelorette Party as penalty, right?"

If there's anything that Seokjin wanted to hear that day, it's Namjoon yelling 'No, it's a joke! Taehyung punk'd you!' because he knows Namjoon's not the type to lie. But when they received an audibly clear: "Yeah, he will!" from Namjoon who's somewhere in the living room, Seokjin feels the second Big Bang happening inside his body. It's not the solar system that exploded though, he's sure it's his breakfast. The unsettling feeling nestled deep he's afraid he might acutely catch an impromptu diarrhea.

Taehyung, on the other hand, looks cocky. Seokjin feels like he went through an economic depression.

"Oh no. No. This can't be happening. No. This isn't real," he deflates, shoulders drooping.

Out of all things to lose from. Out of all the bets he could have had raised. He closes his eyes so tight he begins to see stars beneath his lids.

This entire ordeal is making him want to ask the church what's the meaning of life and what's the purpose of having siblings.

Taehyung cackles, brushing past Seokjin who's currently undergoing the five stages of grief and an added existential crisis for good measure. When Taehyung's near the bathroom, there's a follow up laid so casually, "...And oh, the bet is happening tonight."

Seokjin curses Britney Spears to hell.

"Tonight?! Are you out of your min--"

He doesn't get the last word because Taehyung's already shutting the bathroom's door close.

 

 

Please stand inside the white line and wait for the train doors to properly close. Route to Jongno-gu leaves in two minutes. Please stand inside the white line and wait--

Jeongguk steps inside the last subway ride to Jongno-gu with a deep sigh of relief, the train's doors closing behind him. The subways are always packed during weekdays, which honestly sucks. Especially on rush hours, it's exponentially full, students and workers filling the seats. Usually, the lull of the train would put Jeongguk to a temporary nap and the automated voice of the station warnings would be his wake up call but, this time, he's too jittery to even close his eyes.

Reason why the moment he arrived in front of the revolving doors of the tallest skyscraper in the area, the butterflies in his stomach ran amok, causing him to throw up on the sidewalk. People ignored him which is understandable, except for a nice old lady wearing a shawl who offered him bottled water, the kind action reminding him how he met Park Jimin. He inwardly sighs. After getting over the initial panic, he took the mental degradation road of how he still couldn't believe he got hired at one of the largest modelling agencies in Seoul as a photographer.

It's unfathomable and hard to swallow for so many reasons, all contributing to the fact that most jobs he applied for never called him back.

Frankly, the building before him felt like a fever dream and he'd wake up anytime soon.

But this is real.

The building looms in the vicinity, high and mighty it covers the sun's rays. Jeongguk feels like throwing up again.

Awestruck, for the lack of a better word, is what coursed through in each step. His hand tightens on the strap of his satchel bag, checking his reflection on the building's glass walls to see if he looks decent with his choice of black long sleeves and black slacks, waves neat and tamed. Relief awash when he's able to discern he's orientation ready. The first itinerary schedule is an HR Orientation at 9:05 followed by a company tour at 10. They were asked to meet before 9.

Jeongguk flicks his wrist and checks the time: two minutes before the promised meeting.

It's a save.

Entering the building got him thinking like he's entering Narnia instead of an office. It's too lavish and chique, like one of those CEO dramas he religiously watches on MBC and TvN. Floors built in shiny marble tiles and walls painted graphite with potted plants taller than him on each post, all these decorated the entire place. Lots of employees walked around, dressed in smart attires with ID lanyards hanging above their chests. The crowd looked expensive, screaming metropolitan Seoulite fashion.

Jeongguk feels out of place, realizing he's underdressed compared to the overall garments that littered the milieu.

Taking a deep breath, he squares his shoulders, reminding himself that he isn't there for a fashion show but for a job. It's his first day, he can always buy new clothes when he receives his first paycheck, clothes are still clothes and he's not the one getting photographed.

What's important is leaving a strong impression.

Skimming around, he spots the reception area easily. In front of the pristine granite counter, there's a buff-looking guy with grape-like hair wearing eyeglasses. He has a clipboard tucked beneath a navy blue blazer over white collared shirt clad arm, standing idle in tan chinos paired with white rubber shoes. One other male is talking to him, both of them immersed in a deep conversation.

Jeongguk adjusts the strap of his satchel bag, calming himself. Nothing else is going to bring him down.

How wrong he was.

Films, over the course of Jeongguk intaking too many forms of media, taught him one thing: romantic clichés never happen in real life. Screenwriters depict romantic clichés so unrealistic it's improbable to even occur. He believed that religiously, held it as a motto, that when it happened to him he wasn't able to properly function. If clichés weren't real, the exact moment his eyes focused on the two guys at the reception area, why did he lock eyes with someone he never expected to see?

Is the internet also not trustworthy these days? Is Soompi wrong? Why didn't T.O.P say anything about having a girlfriend? He got Jeongguk's hopes up in years.

So as the guy before him, but not in years, mind you.

A cliché happened in the form of Jeongguk crossing paths with the recent fling he had been lamenting about that morning: Park Jimin. The shock value he experienced is more than enough to buy himself a unit in Storage Wars. He's utterly flabbergasted to see Jimin. The Jimin who joked about Pussycat Dolls, the one hopeful lay that dated him for days, got his hopes up, only to dump him like a homeless body.

Jimin's mirroring the same expression Jeongguk has, gaping mouth and wide eyes.

Startled at the situation, flashbacks on how he got dumped transitioning in haywired cuts, he takes a step back. Never had he harbored a strong desire to just escape. Maybe out of embarrassment? Resentment? Disappointment? He's not sure. But he takes another step back because Jimin's whole attention is now pinned on him. He'd never been good with confrontations and even hated it. He'd never been exactly good at comforting people, either, because he also sucked at comforting himself.

The assumption of them never going to cross paths again had never been so wrong. Fate is undoubtedly shitting on him.

Taking another step back, he thought, was the ideal solution so he did. But it caused another mishap on his end: crashing into someone. Hard. He jostles forward from the collision, followed by a noise of liquid spilling on the floor, an echo of something falling, then a string of curses. Jeongguk gasps, turning to face whoever he crashed into so he can apologize, only to step on the liquid mess. He adjusted his footing with a surprised yelp, causing him to ungraciously slip. He curses, limb coordination failing, gravity claiming him briskly.

It happened so fast he had no time to do anything else but close his eyes and brace for impact.

Except that nothing happens. He doesn't fall. He's not hurt. More like...he's suspended in the air. The next thing he's able to process is a sturdy arm around his waist and a firm grip on his wrist. Hesitantly, he opens his eyes and his brain short circuits on the spot. He tells himself, okay you died earlier, because there's no way someone this handsome is hovering before him, staring at him intently, holding him tight like he's made of dainty glass.

He gapes at his savior who cast him a look of concern, voice low and melodious: "Woah there. Are you alright?"

To which Jeongguk answers dumbly with a: "Whu?"

A small smirk tugs at the corner of the stranger's lips. "Are you okay?"

Oh fuck. The movies told him this is the part where he should say something, so he opens his mouth, but nothing comes out. He closes it again. Then opens.

The stranger quirks a brow.

"I--" Jeongguk swallows his heart that threatens to spill from his mouth because that would be gross and morbid. "I'm...good."

Time stops. Cherry blossoms fall. Or, like, it seems like it did akin to how lead actors in dramas would experience after they meet someone beautiful. Because holy shit, the stranger is beyond enthralling and would put shame to any actors of this age. This person holding him close looks otherworldly because the man is a hot mix of being drop dead gorgeous and intimidating.

Full-on suit and tie -- the kind one sees on James Bond filmographies -- fringes slicked back from a small face with tufts styled to curve over one of the thick brows. Jeongguk miserably notes this guy has the plumpest lips in existence. He's almost resolute to stare at the man's face the entire day but he can't, he knows, because what he saw next cemented his hunch that he really has the worst luck in the world.

Life's dick really likes his ass.

Right on the man's suspected Armani suit, there's a dark spot forming a blotch over crisp whiteness of the long sleeves. Another man Jeongguk belatedly took notice, (who looks like a runway model from Vogue) wearing a brown beret, emerald knitted cardigan over white collared shirt and beige boxy pants, stared at them in surprise.

"I-I'm sorry!" Jeongguk can't help the string of apologies that came, eyes focused on the stain. "I'm so sorry! Oh god. I'll--"

This seemed to do the trick. Mr. Suit and Tie snap out of it, blinking, following Jeongguk's gaze down and releasing a small gasp upon seeing the mess on his suit.

Jeongguk is fucked.

He's too stunned to even comprehend what was happening, both of them staring at the stain. When Mr. Suit and Tie's brows bunched together, nose scrunched and lips pressed to a thin line, Jeongguk swears he feels shivers running down his spine with electrifying accuracy. He wilts not only from being held close, but also from the humiliation of the feat. The smolder from the discomfiture accelerates his overworked heart.

Mr. Suit and Tie had let go of him so fast, like he's dropping hot potato, causing Jeongguk to fall flat on his ass on the floor. He winces in pain from the thwack he received, the marble too hard and cold. His misfortune didn't end there. It seems that whoever Mr. Suit and Tie is, warranted enough attention towards them because several gasps resounded the entire lobby.

"Dude. Oh my god," Mr. Vogue says incredulously, entertained. Jeongguk looks up with wide eyes, seeing the shit-eating grin on Mr. Vogue's face. "You did not just stain his suit before a business deal! You're so fucked."

Jeongguk is pretty certain there's someone up there who likes seeing him suffer.

"I...what?"

"That's a custom-tailored Armani! Shit, this is the best ever!" Mr. Vogue is now laughing out loud.

Jeongguk flutters his gaze from Mr. Vogue to Mr. Suit and Tie who's trying to rub the stain off the white fabric using a handkerchief. Panic bubbles up so fast that the desire of wanting to throw up resurfaces. Jeongguk tries to breathe calmly, swallowing back the bile and patting his pockets for anything that might help. Dread is rising in crashing waves because the suit does look expensive and he only has roughly 20,000 won -- give or take -- in his bank account at the moment.

He can't even afford a dry cleaning. Goddammit.

"I-I didn't mean to! I'm so sorry! Please, sir, let me," he babbles, scrambling to stand up so he can assist.

An intense stare is what's given to him, halting his movements and pinning him back down his earlier position, on the floor.

There's an indescribable look on Mr. Suit and Tie's face. He looked at Jeongguk so hard, akin to memorizing, the feat coming off as a signus for something that held no name. Jeongguk is confused on why the intensity faded out to genuine curiosity that eventually gave way to a smirk. No other words were said. Mr. Suit and Tie look way past Jeongguk, enabling him to see a plethora of emotions flickering through before it settles to blank. His jaw is set when he walks towards a huge executive-looking elevator without looking back.

Jeongguk is left speechless.

 

 

Tight hand wrapped around the strap of a crossbody bag, deep breathing and the silence of the entire lobby, resonance of a liquid spilling, surprised gasps and speculations in regards to what will happen next: these are the things that encapsulated Jimin right after the initial shock of seeing Jeongguk again.

Jimin's lost in regards to what he needed to process first.

One does not simply encounter two exes in a single day. An ex-boyfriend and an ex-fling. In the same building. His two exes that stood before him and, like how horrid a ttongsul is, collided into each other, causing a commotion. Jimin is aware that what caused Jeongguk's (the ex-fling) horror was because he, too, didn't expect for their paths to cross again after Jimin kicked him out. Admittedly, he's still feeling shameful and guilty for that night.

It's not the fact that Jeongguk is bad, he would have been an ideal partner. Jimin just has poor abilities in letting go of the past.

He stood in the distance, watching the scene unfold like a bystander, an extra character in a storyline. He vitiated the sinking feeling on his gut when Jeongguk almost slipped and Seokjin (the ex-boyfriend) perfectly caught Jeongguk in his arms. He swallows the tight knot that painfully binds his lungs together, because he has no right to be bothered. He knows he has no right to feel unsettled for other people because it's been months already, and this has nothing to do with him anymore.

But he does. Because everything seems to unfold towards a similar path he's familiar with. Caring too much isn't foreign to him, akin to a parallel road running right next to guilt and self-loathing.

Anxiety tangoed with Jimin since his initial spiral down a filthy drainage after The Break Up. Everything in his life reeked of Seokjin down to a T that the first few months had been incredibly hard. It was so arduous to dissociate himself from traces of the past. It's taxing to move forward, having no clue where to start after his life got rattled. He might have broken free, but it didn't mean there aren't going to be another who's going to suffer after him.

If only life has a rewind button.

Jimin jilts out of his internal turmoil when the entire lobby erupted into gossips of how the guy in black long sleeves (Jeongguk) looks so young and incompetent he's going to get fired for the stunt he caused. Incredulity barely explains what Jimin felt. The murmurs around him reminded him of a similar situation he got stuck before. He's appalled on how freely people are able to talk bad about others just because they don't know them. It's disheartening that the first reaction to incidents will always be dishing out judgments like a five course meal.

It's not the world that's tainted, he tells himself, it's the people living in it.

In front of him, Jeongguk is continuously staring at Seokjin's retreating figure, dumbfounded. He's still sitting on the floor with mouth agape. The employees inside the lobby began to disperse now that the act was over but their chatter didn't stop. It's crude how people only like gossip if it's not about them, an ultimate act of hypocrisy known to all.

Jimin heaves a soft sigh.

Beside him, Namjoon groans.

He turns to Namjoon. "...Everything okay?"

"I wish I could say that it is," Namjoon laments. He glances at Jimin briefly, adjusting the eyeglasses perched on his nose. "I really don't want to fire someone on their first day."

He pauses. Jeongguk is gonna get... "What?"

"That guy on the floor. He's going to get fired."

"He's...hold on," Jimin hides consternation with false calm. "Why?"

"Why?" Namjoon looks befuddled. "Isn't it natural to watch out for troublemakers?"

Troublemaker. Another judgment without proper back-up. Jimin clenches his jaw. That's not true, he wants to say. Jimin may have met Jeongguk without prior knowledge to anything about him. They may have dated for a bit. He may have enjoyed their time together even if only for a few days, but it's more than enough to know that Jeongguk is a decent guy and not a troublemaker. Someone who's struggling to find his place in the world.

Jimin, admittedly, can relate.

They had an actual real conversation. Jeongguk's insecurities mirrored Jimin's and he understands it so well, being a recent graduate without a job and a stable source of income. The expectations that came with it, the disappointments and the judgments. Jeongguk hated how he's still leeching off his parents and how he'd been to several job interviews but none called back.

Jimin knew of the struggles. He also knew of how to deal with them logically. When the MUA job offer came, despite seeing the seal of Seokjin's family on the contract after promising himself to distance so he'd heal, he didn't have that much of a choice.

A beggar can't be choosy.

He'd been on and off several part-time jobs after he and Seokjin broke up, unable to maintain a lasting one. These experiences had all been unfair to him for so many reasons. Sometimes, they'd blame his poor performance when a mistake he didn't cause happens. He'd be asked to work non-stop without a raise. More often than not, a co-employee causes an accident and pins it on him because he's the easy target. His employers never gave him a chance to defend himself, never listened. It felt strangely similar to what happened to him prior the break-up.

Instability in terms of career is something Jimin is familiar with and, even now, still too ashamed to outright admit. But Jeongguk listened patiently and said he's not alone. No one's ever alone. Jimin is certain that Jeongguk is a good person, making this entire predicament incredibly unfair. Condemnation due to innocent ignorance is wrong. He wants to help, even if the exchange he saw earlier worried him, because of the subtle raunchy look Seokjin gave to Jeongguk. He wants to help because he isn't obtuse.

Money was more important.

Ignorance isn't a sin.

Jimin exhales deeply. It's not his place, he knows, but he'll try. "Joon-hyung. I don't mean to be invasive..."

Namjoon hums, fully facing him. Jimin lifts his gaze and casts a sincere look at Namjoon.

"Won't he have a chance? It's his first day like you said," Jimin finally says after a beat, hoping he sounds convincing. His heart's hammering loudly against his ribcage. "If you fire him, you might lose a potential asset. ...Not to mention the paperworks."

"Ah," if Namjoon's surprised, he doesn't show it. "From what grounds are you basing that?"

"I don't want to overstep my boundaries..."

"That's fine. Go on."

"A company's assets are its people, right?"

"Yes...you're right."

"There's also the process of learning along the way...? Um, people grow. Ignorance isn't a sin. I think."

There's a brief pause, before Namjoon releases a chuckle so loud Jimin has the faint impression it carried across the lobby. "Are you sure you graduated in Makeup Arts, Jimin-ah? You sound like you'd fit the Human Resource Team," Namjoon jokes. Jimin's cheeks are burning. "You raised good points," he says. "I'm easy to negotiate. A written warning should be fine."

A bloom of relief sprouts in Jimin's chest. He's having a hard time toning down a smile, gaze returning to Jeongguk who still looks shaken while Kim Taehyung talks to him.

After another beat of silence, Namjoon clears his throat. "You should probably head home for the day."

"Oh," Jimin peels his gaze from Jeongguk to look at Namjoon. "Why?"

Jimin hears Namjoon's name getting called.

"I'll postpone today's orientation," Namjoon says while raising a hand after Taehyung waves him over. He pats Jimin's arm. "Congratulations on saving someone's employment."

Jimin nods. "Should I say thank you...?"

"Depends," Namjoon chuckles. "Maybe giving you this opportunity isn't all that bad despite the history."

Jimin smiles while Namjoon beams at him, turning on his heels to leave. He peers at Namjoon walking to where Jeongguk is, feeling a tiny bit happy he's able to do something good. At least, he's able to make it up to Jeongguk for That Night even if it's through something small.

But he still feels unsettled. Did he do the right thing?

 

 

Jeongguk got jolted out of his dilemma when Mr. Vogue snickers loudly, bending down and offering a hand which in return, he dumbly accepts. Mr. Vogue has a big hand, he notes, while getting hoisted up to his feet. Jeongguk is still in the middle of steadying himself when Mr. Vogue speaks again, tone laced with cursorial teasing.

"You, my dude, is legendary," there's a mischievous smirk that graced Mr. Vogue's features that quickly dissolved when he called someone over. "Namjoon-hyung!"

In retrospect, Jeongguk should have already died with the ample amount of times his heart either plummeted to the ground or threatened to spill out of his mouth. But for unfortunate events, he's not keeling over yet. He's still alive, and he kind of hoped he's dead because he's pretty certain that Mr. Vogue just called the HR guy.

This, quite frankly, doesn't sound so good.

Jeongguk gulps, throat thickening and bile edging to overflow. Like some kind of a ghost from Mario Kart in the Ghost Valley race track, Namjoon from HR appears by his side, right on his periphery, looking grim. Jeongguk is too busy trying to breathe that he only heard a voice that's riddled with a gentle scold while saying, "Taehyung. Your shoot starts in two minutes. You should get going, I'll handle this."

Jeongguk gingerly lets out a breath he had been keeping in, looking back and forth between Namjoon of HR who clearly knows Mr. Vogue guy who's apparently named 'Taehyung'.

Why do people around him seem to know each other? Is he in some kind of a romantic comedy film? 

"I know. But please escort the newbie to HR? Do what you need to do. Dad's been pressing Seokjin-hyung about this deal for weeks and his suit just got ruined."

HR guy sighs, filled with pity. If Jeongguk's heart plummeted down the ground earlier, it's now buried ten feet under. That sigh isn't a good sigh. It's the bad kind of sigh. The 'you're getting fired' kind of sigh. He deflates like a paper balloon that even the warm hand curling over his shoulder feels like the claws of the grim reaper.

Namjoon says to Taehyung, "I'll handle this. You should go."

A curt nod from Taehyung, then: "Hey you," he's turning to Jeongguk with a wolfish smile, impressed. "Good luck. You got his attention," he winks at Jeongguk, "see you around." He's sauntering towards the direction of the executive-only elevator with a spring on his steps.

He distinctly feels like he's about to get thrown inside a lion's den, wholly confused and a tiny bit nervous at the statement.

Once Taehyung is out of sight, Namjoon faces him with an unreadable look, sympathy the most prominent one being reflected. Jeongguk swallows hard, mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water. Trying to piece excuses proved to be a feat, a hint of a plea lacing his tone. "Sir. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to--"

"We'll talk in my office."

Great. He's going to get fired on his first day.

 

 

In the second floor executive-only restroom, Seokjin holes himself inside. The sound of the gushing water and the warm lighting plus the lemon-scented air were his companions. That, and his distressed reflection on the mirror. He's trying for a steady breathing, handkerchief wet while trying to get rid of the coffee stain that marred his suit.

A frustrated sigh escapes him because the stain won't come off and his mind keeps coming back to both Jimin and the cute guy earlier. He's smacking the wet cloth against the sink counter loudly. Thinking nothing's going to rectify the problem, he turns the faucet off in time for the door to creak open.

Taehyung walks in with a tentative: "Hyung?"

Seokjin takes a deep breath. "Yeah?"

"You okay?" Taehyung asks. There's a pause. "...Jimin was there. I thought...?"

"Of course he is," Seokjin chuckles humorlessly.

Taehyung walks to him, halting by his side, grabbing the wet handkerchief and turning the faucet on again. He aligns the cloth under the running water, turning the faucet off, squeezing the excess liquid from the fabric. He doesn't say a word but only nudges Seokjin to face him.

They stay like that, Taehyung trying to finish what Seokjin started, wiping the stain off. It doesn't work. It does lighten but it's still very prevalent and obvious. Silence falls thickly, no one uttering a single word. It's after a few beats before Taehyung says, "You could have told Namjoon-hyung to block the contract signing."

"You know I can't do that," Seokjin murmurs.

"But it would have done you good...he might cause trouble."

If asked what Seokjin hated the most, out of all the inherent and initial things he already dislikes, it's to burden other people and reveal to them a part of him that he knew was fucked up. The look Taehyung has right now is of worry, severely out of place. It didn't settle well with Seokjin because it implies he's incapable of helping himself. Why would Taehyung be worried about something small? It's not even that huge of a deal to warrant so much fuss. It's just Jimin.

"Hey," Seokjin curls his hands around Taehyung's wrists, guiding his brother to look at him, showing a comforting smile. "I'm fine. It's all good. No one will know."

Taehyung looks at him. "I know how much you valued Jimin before, hyung. What happened...it's not something easy to gloss over."

"I know it isn't," he says, shaking his head. He doesn't let his smile falter. "And it's okay. Everything's fine. Nothing will happen."

There's a look of apprehension on Taehyung's eyes that Seokjin doesn't like. "Hyung. Remember, you didn't fulfill your end of the bargain. He might stir up something. Those sessions in exchange for his sil--"

Seokjin gives Taehyung a stare so stern he immediately shuts up.

Nothing's wrong with him. He's fine.

 

 

"I hate to break it to you, but the person you crashed into is the owner of this building."

Jeongguk takes a double turn at the statement. "I'm sorry...what?"

The insanely good-looking, downright perfection suit and tie dude is the boss? Holy shit.

"That's Kim Seokjin. He owns this building, your boss," Namjoon emphasizes, peering at him through thick-rimmed eyeglasses, returning to his paper scribbling. "I'm going to let you off the hook for now since you're new. But..."

"But...?"

"You need to be really careful from now on."

Jeongguk nods, belatedly noticing that the HR Office smells a lot like Lemon Breeze air freshener, walls painted with sunset hues. Namjoon has so many bonsai plants on his table, lined up at the edges that made Jeongguk think it's a garden. This meeting should have been intimidating because Namjoon is the HR Manager, but somehow, it feels as if he's back to being 19 again, getting reprimanded inside the Dean's Office.

Namjoon has a kind aura, not too imposing but teems with diplomacy. He looks like he can run for President and could actually win.

"I'll issue you a written warning for now," Namjoon says, the glide of his pen against smooth paper the only audible sound in the room apart from Jeongguk's heartbeat, which is so wild he has the faint impression of it exploding. "Orientation is rescheduled tomorrow. You can go home after this."

"Oh. Okay. Um. I understand," he clears his throat. "So...does this mean today's not going to count in my payroll?"

Namjoon looks up, capping the pen's cover in place, setting it to the side. The look he gives Jeongguk is one of either commending his bravery for asking the question or condemning his dumb ass for even raising it. Namjoon adjusts the eyeglasses perched on the bridge of his nose with an index finger. "Technically, yes...however, I wouldn't worry about the payroll right now."

Maybe Jeongguk shouldn't have asked that.

"I sincerely apologize," he mumbles, cheeks heating up. He didn't want to go home. What would he even do at home? It's not even lunch time yet. He's long way past of wanting to be lazy and rot inside their apartment like a jobless sloth. "I'm happy with anything as long as I'm not fired."

"You're not, yet. But be extremely careful next time."

"Yes. I, um, I will," Jeongguk feels relief as if his head's above the water. "I'm really sorry."

"Don't apologize to me. I'm not the one you spilled coffee on."

"I...I didn't know he's the boss--"

"Jeon Jeongguk-ssi," Namjoon interrupts. "The reason why I'm not giving you the pink slip is because someone vouched for your credibility. You also have an impressive photography portfolio. Your video editing skills are of professional caliber despite being a recent graduate. And," Namjoon clears his throat, giving him a kind look of understanding. "Your ignorance isn't your fault since it's your first time here," there's a warning laced on the next words, "but if it happens a second time..."

The only thing he's able to gather from what Namjoon said is that someone vouched for him.

But who?

Jeongguk zones out so far that Namjoon had to tap the empty space in front of him to catch his attention. No time is wasted. He gets handed the paper that Namjoon had been scribbling on earlier, still reeking of ink, freshly printed. He stares at the big bold red letters that states, Disciplinary Action: First Written Warning.

It's his first day and he already violated rules because of unprecedented circumstances. He's not even sure if the given chance is a blessing in disguise or a condemnation awaiting in the shadows.

A beggar can't be choosy.

"Um. Thank you. For giving me another chance," he says.

A dismissive wave is what's given to him followed by Namjoon reclining against the swivel chair. "You may leave. But you need to come early tomorrow for the orientation."

Nodding and standing up, Jeongguk bows politely. Namjoon returns to his work, a sign that Jeongguk is dismissed. He pushes the doors of the HR Office open, mind reeling with thoughts about who vouched for him so he'd be able to keep his job. There's still lurking anxiety buried several meters deep where the sun no longer shines, churning each intake of breath he takes. He's torn from wanting to throw the written warning or keeping it as a reminder, due to several reasons he can't name. It also didn't help that he's taking the walk of shame out the Human Resource floor, weaving past the humdrum of the department's activities, steps weighing heavier each turn.

His phone not so helpfully dings from continuous notifications, Kakaotalk ringtone noisy amidst the workplace. He ducks his head in shame after getting several stinky eyes his way, grabbing the device and silencing it, cursing whoever's flooding him so they'd burn in hell. Unlocking the device and watching the screen coming to life so bright it burned his retinas, he glares at the app bubbles displayed and the fact that the battery is almost dying.

It's from Hoseok.

Hoseokie-hyung 9:45 AM

loser pants~~
did you get fired?
if you were, i'll cook your fave Yukgaejang~~

Jeongguk fumes while scrolling down the rest of the conversation window, squinting at the 'did you get fired' message. He's pretty certain Hoseok must have jinxed him.

Hoseokie-hyung 9:46 AM

ya, wait, don't answer. i want to be surprised
btw, i won't be home tonite. got sum stuff to do at work
think u can handle being alone?

Pressing the down arrow of the elevator buttons, he waits for the contraption to arrive at his floor. Meanwhile, his fingers fly across the screen, typing a response with a deep scowl, waiting for the doors to open.

To: Hoseokie-hyung 9:50 AM

i wasn't. fuck u
w8, why won't u be home?

Jeongguk's phone vibrates from another message. That was fast. His scowl fades to a look of confusion in time of the elevator doors opening, revealing employees walking out. He steps aside, waiting for the people to thin out before stepping in, pressing the button for the ground floor. Once inside, he stares at his phone again to read the response Hoseok sent him.

Hoseokie-hyung 9:51 AM

need to stay behind for a rehearsal T▽T
btw there's going to be a party at the floor above us. it's hyojoo-noona's
just warning you in case you plan to sleep early.
they're going to be really noisy

Locking his phone, he heaves a sigh. He's not really fussed regarding whether the apartment is going to be quiet or not. He's more concerned about who vouched for him and what he's going to do from then on. The elevator's chime buzzes, the doors sliding open, revealing the ground floor lobby.

 

 

It's unusually noisy in the lobby. Employees are filtering in and out, either for advertisement campaign ads or photoshoots.

Seokjin finds a temporary solution to his suit stain problem by means of making up a lie about Armani collections. He's fairly believable, he thinks, because he's been told plenty of times he has the kind of face that people easily trusts.

He walks out of the elevators, ready for the first meeting, taking his time greeting back employees who bows to him. His father had always boasted how good mannered he is, that he's something who can do no wrong. If Taehyung is the unconventional genius of the family, Namjoon being the ultimate genius, Seokjin can probably win Mr. Universe Congeniality if he enters the competition.

That being said, when he got cornered by Jimin, he inwardly cursed because he knows he needs to be friendly.

Park Jimin stands before him, hands on his pockets, ash blond hair styled neatly to part on sides, revealing his forehead and giving Seokjin a full frontal attack of his cherubic features. He heaves a shaky sigh, halting on his steps. Jimin always looked so appealing and composed, back then and now. Nothing changed.

Neither speaks. Seokjin toes on whether he'd leave with a small smile or wait to hear whatever this might be about, even though he's certain he knows what it's going to be pertaining to.

The latter wins.

Jimin inhales deeply, then exhales long. "Hyung."

"Jimin-ah."

"...I'm not here to cause trouble."

This is ludicrous on so many levels that neither treks down being good nor bad. Lifting a brow, he says a matter-of-factly, "I know you aren't. You're not capable of that."

"...I saw that earlier," Jimin bites his bottom lip. "I've heard you've been skipping."

Seokjin smiles. "You're awfully well-versed."

"I still care," Jimin says. "Please. Don't repeat the same mistake you did with me."

Ah. He knew this would be coming. "Mistakes aren't meant to be repeated, Jimin-ah."

"Hyung. You know I didn't file for a restr--"

"I'm going to have to stop you right there," Seokjin interjects, looking around. He gives Jimin a stern look filled with warning. "I work here. You work here now as well. The ground has ears and the news has wings."

Jimin stops talking.

Seokjin, quite frankly, isn't equipped for any of this, the impromptu confrontation. He didn't anticipate another reminder of what happened to them. There are so many things bogging his mind, all contributing to a conundrum. There's the deal within minutes, the papers he needs to sign, schedules he needs to double check and the cursed bet that's happening that night. Getting to know the guy earlier who looks wholly innocent would be a lot better than entertaining the past.

"Hyung. I'm just concerned. You and I both knew you needed help."

"I never needed any help," Seokjin warns with grit.

"You know that's not true. The reason why I can't stay away because I know that you're sic--"

"I'm not," he grinds the words out.

"You could be better, hyung. If only you followed through."

Jimin looks at him with so much concern and contrite, it's making Seokjin uncomfortable. The tone of Jimin's voice depicts well-meant intentions and genuine regret it's making him sick.

"You don't need to worry. There's nothing wrong with me."

"When I broke up with you," Jimin says with dismay. "It didn't mean that I stopped loving you."

 

 

It turns out that Jeongguk's day has the capability of getting worse than it already is.

In the ground floor's waiting area, his latest disappointment stands waiting while leaning against one of the building's pillars with a creased forehead. Jeongguk's not entirely sure how to approach. Not even sure if he's the one Jimin's waiting for, but he squares his shoulders just in case, puffing his chest out and clenching his jaw to appear tough as if his job wasn't nearly snuffed.

Jimin spots him, waving with a tiny smile. Jeongguk's not even sure why he's automatically walking over like some dazed idiot.

"Hey," Jimin greets him, hand rubbing the back of his neck. There's several beats of silence before, "...How have you been?"

His brows bunch together in confusion, not understanding the purpose behind the question. "Uh. I'm fine, I guess...?"

"Good. That's...nice," there's an awkward silence before Jimin breaks it with a: "T-There's really no way around this..."

Jeongguk's heartbeat races a mile for the nth time that day.

"I...How about we..." Jimin says.

"...?"

Jimin chews his bottom lip nervously. "Do you think...we can be friends?"

Jeongguk stares, unsure of what to do with the request, thinking back to the way they parted and the lame way he got chased off. Jimin fidgets under his gaze, which is funny because the last time they were together, he was the epitome of confidence.

"We're going to be coworkers."

"...I'm not sure what you expect me to say," he deadpans.

"You don't have to say anything," Jimin hurriedly adds. "I-If you don't want to be friends, at least...be civil with each other?"

Jeongguk heaves a small sigh. He isn't that much of an asshole to completely shut off a harmless approach. "Don't worry, I'm not going to bite your head off just because you kicked me out of your apartment at two in the morning."

It looks like he struck a nerve. Jimin seems apologetic and embarrassed at the same breath, eyes cast downwards and cheeks tinting pink. "About that..."

"It's fine," Jeongguk dismisses the upcoming excuses. It's one thing he never liked, people giving him reasons for things that already happened so they can justify why they had to do it. He'd rather move past than deal with it, quite frankly. "It's not really the worst thing that happened."

There's another beat of silence before Jimin speaks in a tiny voice. "Maybe...maybe if we...you know..."

"Maybe, what?" Jeongguk furrows his brows.

Jimin exhales long. "How about we start again?"

"What do you mean?"

"Let's start over...? Let's get to know each other again, like it's the first time."

"Um. Okay...? How?" Jeongguk blinks, looking hesitant.

Jimin smiles shyly. "Like this," he says. He reaches forward, grabbing Jeongguk's hand and shaking it. "Hi. My name is Park Jimin, I'm your new coworker. It's nice to meet you."

Caught off guard, Jeongguk is merely staring at Jimin. His gaze flutters next to their joined hands, unsure of what to say.

"Well?"

"Uh."

Jimin huffs playfully. "Aren't you going to introduce yourself?"

Jeongguk gapes around words refusing to come out. Jimin smiles, squeezing his hand encouragingly. It takes him a few moments before he's mumbling a self-effacing, "I'm Jeon Jeongguk. It's, uh, it's nice to meet you too, Park Jimin-ssi."

Jimin beams at him. "The pleasure is all mine, Jeongguk-ssi."

The gentle warmth etched on Jimin's face prompted Jeongguk to smile too, although small and a bit forced. He nods, squeezing back before letting go.

"Since the orientation was canceled...would you like to have lunch?"

Jeongguk gawks, surprised at the sudden offer.

"It's an innocent offer," Jimin chuckles. "Friendly lunch?"

"Uh. Well..." Jeongguk flicks his wrist to check the time, frowning at the displayed numeric. It's still a bit past 10am. "It's a little early for that?"

"Brunch, then. A friendly brunch," Jimin says, hopeful. "Coworkers brunch? ...I have nothing scheduled for the rest of the day."

Jeongguk mulls over the invitation, weighing options he can take, before reluctantly nodding. First, he didn't have any plans and second, this, admittedly, is a lot better than camping back in the apartment and binging movies he already watched.

Jimin's Vegas wattage smile while dragging him off the building was totally different from the lifeless one he received the night he got kicked out.

 

Dinner was nice and as predicted, Jimin is a very decent host. A whole bottle of wine was consumed and there's a pleasant buzz thrumming Jeongguk's skin, making him feel warm. They had long forgone sitting in the dining room. It's been hours since they cleared their meal, Seoul nightlife fading into the twilight. Deep into the fourth movie, sat side by side in Jimin's leather couch, was how Jeongguk had found himself. There's a heart-shaped feathery throw pillow trapped in Jeongguk's arms.

On the screen of the television, Joseph Gordon Levitt was getting suckerpunched by some goons in Sin City: A Dame to Kill for while Eva Green continued to act like a sly witch.

Beside him, Jimin looked ethereal. Jeongguk would have loved to focus on the film's noir cinematography but his attention was elsewhere. It's in how warm Jimin felt right beside him, their shoulders brushing and arms merely centimeters apart. He'd met Jimin a few days ago, although brief, had Jeongguk feeling an instant connection. Call him a hopeless romantic and an idiot who puts too much faith in love, but intimacy had been so rare in today's age that it's hard to even move past the first date and, by far, Jimin and he had already gone to three. It’s as good an indication as any.

Without the kissing, however, which was pitiful in several forms but he’d wait. Jeongguk's aim for that night was to score a kiss, get laid and if possible, the dry spell in extension, chafed.

It was the perfect moment: lights dimmed, movie a distant buzz and Jimin dangerously close to him.

Ideally, it should have been. The mood was set between them, electrifying and magnetic. Jeongguk scooted nearer until their skins were touching, body heat mingling. Jimin leaned closer as well, drawn to the gesture. He laced their fingers, delighted at the warmth encapsulated within his grasp and how soft Jimin's hands were. It's stupid but he felt as if he's a high school Charlie from Perks of Being a Wallflower when he first touched Sam.

Ideally, it should have been easier to simply twist and reach over, to plant a kiss on Jimin's mouth. It should have been, if not, say, when Jimin suddenly sighed and retracted his hand like Jeongguk was hot coal and he got burned. The sigh got succeeded by a groan of exasperation, Jimin palming his face, sounding like he'd rather be anywhere else than there.

Jeongguk was both alarmed and concerned. "Did I...Sorry, was that too forward...?"

"No," Jimin bleated. "No, sorry. It's not you."

"Then...why?"

"It's..." Jimin paused, considerably torn. The look he gave to Jeongguk was that of regret."I'm sorry. I don't think this is going to work out."

Jeongguk's eyes widened in fear. "What? Did I do something wrong to upset you?" He knew he sounded like he was begging but damn it, he wanted to know.

"There's nothing wrong with you," Jimin shook his head, breath shaky and voice broken. "It's not you. ...But, please leave. I'm so sorry."

"Jimin-ssi," Jeongguk stated around a soundless laugh, incredulity seeping through. "It's two in the morning."

"I'll fetch you a cab."

 

Fleur Soleil, the place they went for 'brunch', is a quaint cabin-inspired coffee shop located two blocks from the company building which took them fifteen whole minutes of silence, walking side by side and not knowing what else to say other than let the city bustle be their background noise. The night when Jeongguk first met Jimin was so hazy since he was drunk as fuck, nearly blacking out and vomiting his guts out, but he remembered it to be under the flickering neon lights of a twenty four hour convenience store. Jimin was nice enough to offer Jeongguk a bottle of green tea so he'd sober up.

Acting chummy and friendly with an ex-fling shouldn't even be this cumbersome. Jeongguk knows he's probably reacting like an immature brat, but there's a part in him wary and guarded, a side where once he takes a risk with someone and it ends up with not-so-ideal results, the second time it happens, he'll be flooded with reservations and hesitancy to give it another shot.

For instance, right now.

They occupy a four-seater table, facing each other, plates of stroganoff and bolognese respectively, glasses of chilsung ciders served, with Jeongguk blankly staring at the food in front of him. He peeks at Jimin who's currently removing the tissue wrapped around his fork, wiping it clean.

He stares at his food again.

Jimin looks at him, addled. His fork is lodged at the corner of the plate. "Why aren't you eating?"

He sighs. "Don't you think this is a bit weird?"

"Weird?"

"I dunno. ...Us acting like nothing happened?"

Jimin reclines on the chair, falling silent. 'Let's Eat Grandma' croons from the cafe speakers in time of Jimin's soft exhale, the song's lyrics taking a sudden personal turn.

"I know I owe you an explanation for that night," Jimin finally says.

Jeongguk straightens on his seat. It isn't because he's acting like a prick, believe him, but it's truly a bit callous to immediately pretend everything's peachy that easily. He's not upset anymore but there's still reluctance in him stemming from not knowing what to expect. He waits for Jimin to continue, doesn't even pry nor press for more.

"...I didn't mean to be a dick."

"That's a nice ice breaker."

Jimin leans on the table, elbow propped at the edge with cheek on his palm, staring at Jeongguk. He looks contemplative, options weighing hefty on his features. It continues for a few more beats before he says: "I didn't mean to lead you on. ...Honestly? I still haven't recovered from my ex."

Jeongguk sputters indignantly. "Excuse me?"

"A lot of things happened that made me...wary of anything intimate."

"So...it's just that? You kicked me out because you're still hung up?"

"It's not just that," Jimin sighs. "It's really private and a bit hard to put into words."

"Jesus. You acted like you never had any emotional baggage your entire life."

"It's easier to hide the woes and throes. Some are also good at pretending they're fine."

Jeongguk scoffs. "We're not in a Cameron Crowe film. Please don't recite Say Anything's plot to me."

Jimin stares funnily. "I'm gonna pretend you didn't just reference the corniest movie to ever exist."

"Listen," Jeongguk glowers. "John Cusack's boombox woo is legendary."

"It's actually very crude," Jimin quips. "And unrealistic. That never happens in real life."

"You, insulting a movie I really like, isn't helping you at all."

"Okay, sorry," Jimin chuckles sheepishly, then he sighs. "But, to put more context...I've been in a really messy situation before. It's hard to get over with."

"No shit," he rolls his eyes. "You don't have to emphasize it more than you're already doing. I get it, you're hung up from a broken heart."

"It's not something light," Jimin frowns at him. "It's more than just a broken heart. Stability is hard to find in this day and age."

Jeongguk shrugs. "We're in a digital age where nothing is stable anymore."

"You do get it," Jimin hums. "The age of technological love affair."

"Not the words I'd use, but close enough," he smiles a little, thoughtful. Silence didn't overwelcome it's stay because he's already asking: "Can I ask you something?"

"Go ahead," Jimin nods.

"Who is it?"

"...My ex?"

"No. My ex. Because we're talking about my relationship throes. Duh."

"Brat," Jimin chucks him the rolled up tissue ball wrapped around the fork earlier. Jeongguk giggles, evading the attack, the ball sailing past him and to god knows where. Jimin gives him a tiny grin, eyes teeming with frayed trails of regret. "...it's the one you collided with earlier."

Jeongguk's mouth falls wide, he begins to gag on air. He now knows what Hoseok felt that morning when he kept on choking. Tears prick the corners of his eyes, vision swimming from the absurdity of the answer he just heard. "Sorry...who? That guy? Kim Seokjin?"

The look on Jimin's face is that one of bitter nostalgia.

"Are you sure? You're not hallucinating?" Jeongguk derides, reaching for his soda. He isn't even going to believe it since it's highly preposterous to even think about. "It's okay to have delusions. We all want to marry rich at some point."

"I don't care about status symbols. I only care about Seokjin-hyung," Jimin says slowly, eyes narrowing at him.

Jeongguk lifts a brow. "Proof or it never happened?"

A huff is made, then Jimin's pulling out his phone, unlocking it. From that angle, Jeongguk can only see the screen slanted and the LCD faded before it gets thrusted right in front of his face, making him suffer from a sudden bout of cross-eye. He blinks, leaning away from the phone, blinking again to chase away the swirls that formed on his vision before refocusing back on the device.

When Jeongguk's able to properly look at the screen in front of him, he sees a selca of two people. One of them is Jimin in a green sweater, happily grinning in front of the camera. Besidr him, indeed, is the person who's their boss, wearing the same green sweater. He wants to gag at the couple stuff before him. They looked cozy with each other's presence. Frankly, he's a bit envious.

Fucking hell. He's speechless.

Satisfied, Jimin pulls his phone away, locking it and placing the device beside the plate. "There's your proof."

Jeongguk stares. And stares. Staring, waiting for Jimin to actually pull the prank card and laugh at his face because no shit, the ordeal sounds so far-fetched. Jimin doesn't. Jeongguk mutters another incredulous, "Holy shit," under his breath, which makes Jimin preen and all the more pleased he's able to prove him wrong.

"You weren't kidding," he says, flabbergasted. "You really dated Kim Seokjin?"

"Yes. That photo was from before we broke up. When things were still fine and I was still ignorant," Jimin says somberly. The look on his face paints someone going through an impromptu trip down memory lane. "People often turn out to be different than what you initially thought they would be. It's expectations that destroy us."

Jeongguk had no refute to that.

In today's age of technological love affair that promotes five second relationships and ten second marriages, it's hard to find someone that would be more than willing to spend eternity with you. Jeongguk is familiar with that, the longing of wanting to find the one who’d be by his side despite the quirks and hardships, the cumbersomeness of a relationship, who'll stay no matter what. He thinks, no, is sure that once he finds the one he's going to fight for them and never let go.

His romantic view might have been influenced by too many chick flicks and romantic comedies but the world needs a few people who are sincere and serious, not only those who’d choose lasting hickeys but fading warmth rather than cuddling that could last for more than one night.

The world is already too fucked up and full of lies as it is.

Jeongguk doesn't say anything, the song in the cafe fading out to Amaria's vocals, I know I’ll see you tomorrow. There's a contemplative silence that blanketed them, both their head space lost in different thoughts.

After a while, picking his fork up again, Jimin motions for Jeongguk to do the same, pointedly gesturing at the untouched food on his plate. "Eat or I won't shoulder the bill for this."

 

 

After the arduous meeting Seokjin had, Taehyung walks inside the office with a shit-eating grin and a box of Panda Express.

"Hi, hyung!" He chirps, strutting across the carpeted floor. He's setting the pink box in front of a grim-looking Seokjin sans suit jacket, the coffee stain vivid on his white long sleeves. "You look half dead. Nice."

Seokjin throws Taehyung a glare. The pen on his hand smoothly glides across paper, palm clutching his forehead, fingers locking around messy tufts of hair. He continues to sign papers even if the smell of fried chicken wafts in the air right after Taehyung pulls the box open, enticing and inviting. He looks at the digital clock on his office table, the red digits blaring the time, stating lunch already passed.

"You could have asked Namjoon to have lunch with you," he says, a sigh following shortly. "I'm busy."

"Joon-hyung's having an existential crisis over employees who filed for LOAs at the same time," Taehyung relays, flopping down the leather armchair in front of the table. He's pulling out two chopsticks from inside the box, then three different dipping sauces. "And I'm here as your reminder."

Seokjin leans back on the swivel chair, placing his pen down and letting his palm rest flat atop the surface. He's preventing a scowl. "Taehyung-ah."

"Hyung."

"Come on," he whines for emphasis, puckering his lips for a pout. "Don't you feel sorry for your brother?"

"Nope," Taehyung says, popping the 'p' because he's evil.

A groan escapes Seokjin, deep and morose. "This is literally blackmail, you little shit."

Taehyung laughs, handing Seokjin a pair of chopsticks he gingerly accepts. Taehyung produces a small paper plate from inside the box, deftly separating the joined makeshift dishes. He's snapping his chopsticks next, piling chicken cuts onto the paper plate. Once satisfied, he hands Seokjin the food, saying, "It's not my fault you lost a bet."

"I lost a bet I couldn't even remember," Seokjin grumbles, accepting the food and setting it down in front of him. He kind of wants to slam his forehead against the furniture until it bleeds so Taehyung will have pity on him. He feigns hurt, "How can you do this to me? I pay for your caprices."

"You love me, shithead. Don't even bring up how you pay for those because I buy you extravagant presents every year in exchange," Taehyung says. He's shaking his head while piling chicken on his plate. "It's not my fault you're very competitive when drunk. Even Namjoon-hyung thinks it's pathetic."

"Damn you," Seokjin sighs, snapping his chopsticks. He feels like disintegrating despite the juicy chicken meat pinched between the utensils. "...But fine. Tell me the time and place."

Taehyung beams, pleased. "Sinsang-dong, around 9-10ish tonight. Oh Hyojoo-ssi's Bachelorette Party."

"I'm not going to walk there in my suit, am I?" Seokjin asks, biting the meat. "Where did you even find this?"

"She's a friend of the dance instructor I met a couple of months ago," Taehyung says while grabbing one of the dipping sauces, opening the lid and sniffing the content. It's ranch dip. He sets the opened sauce between him and Seokjin. "Don't worry. I got a costume ready for you."

Seokjin pauses from chewing, chopsticks frozen in the middle of grabbing another piece. His brows arched so high due to the thunderbolt revelation. "Costume? What costume?"

"It's a heroic costume," Taehyung shrugs. "A hot and heroic costume."

The chopsticks in Seokjin's hand fell with a soft thud, all dramatic. His mouth gapes around incredulity and words that die in his tongue. In front of him, Taehyung's acting like a wisenheimer, akin to winning the lottery draw and parading it around the losers.

"What the hell, Tae? You didn't tell me there would be costumes!"

"It wouldn't be a surprise if I told you. Duh."

"Taehyung!"

"What?" Taehyung blinks innocently at him.

This day is running for the first place in the list of worst ever, right next to when he accidentally ate mustard thinking it's custard, gagged until he teared up in the middle of a board meeting. Signs were laid to him, from the moment he saw Park Jimin since the bad break-up, to getting doused with hot coffee by a good looking guy with the cutest doe-eyes, down to fulfilling a bet he even forgot raising.

Seokjin ignored the signs because, really, who still believes those?

He thought seeing Jimin again was the low point of this day, getting reminded of an incriminating past rubbed to his face. He truly didn't want to dwell on it that much.

Taehyung thinks differently. "I think you just need to loosen up. What happened in the past isn't your fault, hyung. You're going to be better."

Seokjin's stomach churns, a heavy lead setting on the pit of his stomach. It’s true he was thrown off-kilter because of Park Jimin. But it's also true that, more than the unexpected appearance of his ex, the defining moment of his day was that guy earlier. The pretty guy that looked so cute, rivaling how cute Jimin was before when they just got together. He can't stop thinking about the innocently-bewildered look and the dainty waist he got to touch.

He craves to know more. Since Jimin, there's been no one. He wasn't allowed to touch anyone. Number one rule he got given by the Doctor was to dissociate himself to anything sexual so he won't spiral a trigger. This doesn't count, he thinks. He only wants to, kind of does, take this guy out to dine, converse and end the night with them on his car ki--

--a hand slams in front of him, jilting him off his reverie. He blinks, seeing Taehyung looking at him with honest wonder.

"I know that look!" Taehyung exclaims. "I know a look of thirst when I see one! You're having sex eyes!"

Seokjin sometimes thinks Taehyung is psychic, but it's not stopping him from pretending to be daft. "There isn't any thirst here."

"Oh my god. Seriously? You're going to deny it? Hyung!"

"Taehyung-ah. If I'm thirsty, I can always go to the dispenser for water."

"Let's put it this way," Taehyung huffs. "The dispenser is sex. There isn't any other way you can get water except going through that."

Seokjin blinks. "I...what?"

"Simple. You're thirsty for water so you go to the dispenser. In other words, you need to get laid."

"How did you even..." Seokjin is speechless. "You know what? I'm not going to look at a water dispenser the same way ever again."

"It's been so long since you'd let yourself indulge," Taehyung points out.

"Since Jimin happened, I stopped caring about that."

"See? It's time you need to get your rusty gear oiled. Jimin is a thing of the past. You can be better. Don't let a ghost chase you."

"Are you trying to say my dick is rusty?" Seokjin asks, incredulous.

"No, asshole. I mean," Taehyung says exasperatingly. "If I'm not mistaken about who you're thinking about, maybe you should give it a go."

Seokjin had been right. Taehyung is psychic. He says, "Are you trying to play cupid? You don't even know my type."

"I know you like them innocent and putty," Taehyung quips, grabbing a piece of meat. "I'm just trying to help," he receives a sincere look from Taehyung. "Have fun sometimes. Life happens at 40. It doesn't end with therapy sessions."

Seokjin smiles, it doesn't quite reach his eyes. He opts to chuck his used chopsticks at Taehyung for that tactless comment. "I'm not yet 40, asshole."

Taehyung laughs, evading the wooden projectile, the item landing on the carpet with a soft thud. He wiggles his brows, happily chewing on his chicken. "That's the only pair of chopsticks you'll get."

With a sigh, Seokjin reclines against the swivel chair, thinking about Taehyung's words. How long has it been since he actually chased for sexual gratification? He can't quite remember. Ever since The Break Up, he has been focused on everything aside himself. Then, he thinks about Jimin and what he said earlier. Jimin still loves him, it's what he says. Somehow, it's both easy to believe and easy to dismiss. Their relationship had been disastrous. He failed to understand why Jimin loathed the things he did for him when he had only been trying to protect him from the cruel outside world.

His brother is also aware that his break-up with Park Jimin didn't go well. In fact, it's the worst, out of every recorded partners he had from the past. He's not opening his chances for entertaining someone yet, but sometimes, he does think of sex. Even if he's not allowed to. Yet, sex came to him that day with how namkeen the guy within his grasp was, smelling sweet and akin to holding bonbon chocolat. He couldn't shake off how cute the guy's eyes were, how he sounds so good stuttering.

The impulse of wanting to know more is starting to become an itch. It's been so long and he wants it scratched. Even if he knows he isn't allowed, fully aware he ditched the sessions before it even ended.

He wrestles for Taehyung's chopsticks instead, stowing the thoughts away for the meantime.

There's always later.

 

 

"Game?"

"You're on."

Jeongguk positions in front of the screen, lifting his arms and imitating a shooting stance, the toy firearm connected to the game's main system vibrating in his grasp. The screen transitions to the first scenario of the game: an abandoned warehouse, a screen door and numerous zombies groaning and moaning, trying to destroy the door. He glances at Jimin, smug when he sees the perplexed look. He aims the nuzzle of his gun, directing the cursor to a zombie head. He scores a clean head shot.

If not for the brutality and adrenaline rush of the game, Jeongguk would appreciate the arcade's music choice, 'Grimes' playing on bass speakers while Jeongguk is busily shooting zombies dead, head bobbing along the beat.

He shifts his stance, pressing the trigger of the gun, successfully aiming for a fifty point score from getting a clean headshot. He does it again, again and again until he's cleared the plague of zombies preventing them from setting out and exploring the grassland area of the current stage.

The screen is split on two perspectives: Player 1 and 2. Jeongguk's character is the one below while Jimin is the one above. He's busy shooting zombies and keeping them at bay, multitasking and making sure Jimin is safe. There's a huge zombie that spat green chemical waste on Jeongguk's character, preventing him from moving for a moment as he struggled to get out of the damage zone. He's barely out of the area when the screen above him grays out, GAME OVER blinking accompanied by a clip where zombies are mauling a body.

Jeongguk gapes, flabbergasted. They're only two minutes in the game and Jimin is already fucking dead.

"Holy shit," he stifles a chuckle. "You fucking suck."

Beside him, Jimin seethes like he's about to kick the arcade cashier for good measure. This is proven true when he suddenly tossed the toy gun in front with a frustrated sigh. Jimin glares at him. "I don't suck! You're just kill stealing!"

"What?" Jeongguk exclaims, affronted. "I was trying to save your ass from getting mauled! I look away for a moment and you're suddenly dead!"

"We could have played car racing or DDR and yet you chose violence!"

"I'm not the one who asked to hang out in an arcade in the middle of the day!"

"You agreed!"

"You said it's for free!"

"How broke are you right now that you'd bite an offer for free arcade junk?" Jimin gasps, unbelieving.

That struck a nerve. He's actually very poor at the moment, thank you very much. Jeongguk lowers the gun on his hand, pouting. He grumbles under his breath, "Shut up, shorty."

An affronted gasp was heard right before an audible hiss. "Oh now you've done it, asshole," Jimin grits each word out. "You're so dead."

Uh oh. Jeongguk's eyes widens while he's slowly setting the gun controller down. He takes a tentative step back, Jimin takes another step forward, repeatedly. He looks so angry that it's making Jeongguk's legs quiver. It didn't take that long before he took off, hollering apologies, running to another aisle inside the arcade with Jimin not far behind his trail.

 

 

Later that afternoon, while the skies outside the floor-to-ceiling glass windows takes an ombre shade of purples and pinks for the sunset and the skyscrapers of Seoul flickers their lights on as a preparation for nightfall, Taehyung steps inside Seokjin's office with another box on his hands.

This time, however, it wasn't food.

"What's up, capitalist loser!" Taehyung's voice booms across the room, making Seokjin wince.

"Jesus, Tae, can you at least come in normally?" Seokjin bemoans, reclining on his swivel chair. He's exiting the Excel workspace on his laptop and pressing the power button before snapping the screen shut.

"Now, that would be boring," Taehyung clicks his tongue while shaking his head, each step a signus to the upcoming trifle Seokjin's going to face later. "I'm no longer Kim Taehyung, Seoul's Top Model, if I act normally."

Seokjin rolls his eyes. "When I told Dad you might have been switched at birth, this is the proof I wanted to show him."

"Whatever," Taehyung snorts, slamming the box on top of Seokjin's desk, dusting his hands after. He grins, smug, hands on hips while chinning the cardboard junk he just laid like some sort of offering. Seokjin stares hard at the object, looking uninterested.

"Well? Come on," Taehyung prods. "Don't keep the crowd waiting."

"..."

"Aren't you going to open it?"

If only time could be rewinded, Seokjin would've done it already. He'd go back to the night of the bet and knock his past self unconscious so no tactless dares would be issued. Seokjin flicks his gaze from the box then to Taehyung who's looking at him with an expectant look.

He simply states, "No."

"Who died and made you this incorrigibly dull? You were lots of fun before the therapy," Taehyung sighs dramatically. "It's your costume! Unless you prefer going  naked? You know, to spice things up? Dick out and all?" Taehyung pauses thoughtfully. "Hmm...going commando sounds nice."

Seokjin wonders where he had gone wrong in life and why he's being punished this way.

"This..." Seokjin distantly choked on the very air he breathed. At this rate, he's already developing early signs of aging. "Did mom actually birth you in the toilet and you swallowed piss instead of breastmilk?"

Taehyung glares at him but ignores the comment, proceeding to open the box. Not a moment later, he's brandishing what looks like a bright red colored fabric. Not bad, Seokjin thinks, it might actually be a decent costume. Firemen are after all, heroic people that save lives. He got told earlier that the costume is also heroic.

How wrong he was.

The clothing gets fluffed in front of him, revealing a slutty, tiny fireman costume. It's paired with a hideous Captain America mask and knee-high boots that could stab a man and be used as a weapon for attempted murder.

"Ta-da!" Taehyung grins like a kid who got his first christmas present. "A heroic fireman!"

There's nothing heroic about the costume.

Seokjin begins to regret every decision he ever made. He wills himself to mould into the chair so hard he starts imagining he's transforming with it so he can live his life as an idle piece of junk, like how Junji Ito illustrated that horrid manga where an actual human stitched himself to the furniture and became one with it.

Outside the windows, the sky bleeds to an orange color, streaks of purple disappearing and lights from nearby buildings growing brighter. His misfortune doesn't end there, it only grows bleak. Taehyung plucks out a small walkman and fumbles around the device until it blasts a song that's reminiscent of Seokjin's rebellious childhood. Britney Spears wafts from the small speakers of the device, her voice filling the room.

"Taehyung," he calls weakly. Britney continues to sing, Seokjin thinks she's a bit insensitive.

"Yeah?" Taehyung's grin widens.

"Don't tell me..."

"Yup!"

It takes every ounce of his willpower not to stand up and jump off the window like that one guy in The IT Crowd. In the midst of his woes, Taehyung handed him a small paper accompanied by a conspiratorial wink that resembles an eye stutter. Puzzled, Seokjin turns the paper over his palm, reading what's scribbled on the piece of paper. Startled, he looks up, asking, "How did you--?"

"Jeon Jeongguk," Taehyung states knowingly. "That's the name of the guy earlier."

Seokjin looks at the details again with burning interest. He takes a mental note of it, imprinting the name so he won't forget, staring hard at the phone number written underneath It shouldn't be bad, right? After all, he's just trying to get to know. There's no harm in satisfying a growing curiosity.

"It's going to be different this time, okay? He's not Jimin. The Doctors won't know," Taehyung assures kindly. "It's not the same before. You're better now."

Seokjin's gaze is glued to the paper on his hand. Will he see this Jeongguk again tomorrow? He should ask Namjoon. Ah, Namjoon might suspect him falling back to old habits. He might discover Seokjin ditching everything. He'd always been the strict one.

But he's not, believe him. It's not falling back to habits. Taehyung says he's okay, he knows he's fine as well.

He mulls over all the possibilities, weighing them and surmises that there's one option to get information. He can always dig for the files on their database and get to know Jeon Jeongguk's company records. He's interested and questions should always have answers. Maybe he'd be able to learn things like what Jeongguk likes, dislikes, where he lives, where he graduated, etcera.

It's only a background check for an employee.

He's not stalking.

 

 

Jimin is actually kind of fun.

An entire day spent battling over Left 4 Dead was refreshing. Jimin sucked and Jeongguk obliterated him, even in racing and DDR where he gave himself a handicap. They ate at the arcade's cafeteria, sat in a red booth near glass windows, their table filled with greasy slices of kimchi pizza and fried onion rings paired with cans of Milkis. Free falling conversations shared between bites until pastel purple skies began to bleed a deep indigo, the remaining daylight fading.

It's susceptibly different, he thought, talking to Jimin like they've been friends for years.

That afternoon, over the last bottle of Milkis, Jeongguk learned that Jimin got hired as Kim Taehyung's Make-up Artist. By the time bottles of Milkis were gone and the greasy bites long consumed, Jimin had let Jeongguk call him 'hyung' and even invited him for samgyeopsal and Soju in Myeongdong for dinner.

Even if Jeongguk didn't ask, on their way to Myeongdong, Jimin conveyed the story of how he met the ex-boyfriend 'Kim Seokjin' in a part-time job where he was a waiter who accidentally served Seokjin so much garlic it caused an allergy attack.

He remembered telling Jimin an incredulous, "You fell in love with the guy you almost killed?"

"Hey! It was an accident! It was my first day and the restaurant was so busy."

"Uh-huh. Let's say I believe you, hyung. ...How did he even start liking you?"

"We met again several times after that."

They walked side by side under the bright street lights in the sidewalk, past people going home and getting off of work.

He hummed, urging Jimin to continue. "Seokjin-hyung became a frequent diner at the restaurant. Every night, he seemed to appear at places I least expect him to. He's always waiting for me," Jimin released a tiny chuckle. "His excuse was he wanted to make sure I won't end up sending someone to the hospital," a small pause. There's the echo of zooming cars and their shoes thudding on the concrete, then, "After that, we shared numerous breakfasts and dinners since."

"Cool," Jeongguk said. "How noble of him."

Because of that little comment, Jimin fell silent, prompting Jeongguk to glance at him only to witness a vivid sad look of nostalgia. The only answer Jimin provided him before they arrived at the samgyeopsal spot was a small and bitter: "I used to think that, too. But then those thoughts became questions. Was he really good for me?"

If broken hearts held a sound, the voice Jimin used while saying those words would have been it.

Jeongguk offered a small pat, hoping it'd get conveyed as a gesture of comfort. "You really loved him?"

"He was my world for the longest time," Jimin said quietly, a gesture not quite reaching his eyes.

"...How did you two break up?"

Silence bequeathed. Jeongguk thought he wouldn't get an answer, resolved to apologizing for being invasive, but Jimin spoke after a while with a shaky voice filled with remorse. "His parents tried to buy off my silence."

Buy silence for what? He glanced tentatively at Jimin, grim looking and deep in thought. It looked like he unknowingly touched a relatively sore subject. He laid a hand over Jimin's shoulder to show he's listening. Jimin spared him a grateful look. "I should have fought harder..." Jimin trailed off. He sighed. "I just wanted him to get help. It didn't sit well that they thought I could be bought."

Time for a serious topic change.

"Fuck them," Jeongguk stopped on his tracks which prompted Jimin to do the same. He stared hard. "Fuck capitalism."

Jimin held a rueful look. "Money isn't the main reason. It's because we belatedly discovered Seokjin-hyung suffered from obse--"

"Okay, hold up," Jeongguk lifted a hand to silence Jimin, cutting him short. He noticed how uncomfortable Jimin looked. This moment, their topic teetered on private territory, blatantly obvious that Jimin didn't like where their conversation was going. "Reminiscing is nice but don't go too deep into the past. Don't go down that road. Nostalgia's a bitch, hyung."

"I know," Jimin said. "I'm trying to, at least."

"I guess what I'm saying is...don't ride a train going back. Ride the train moving forward," Jeongguk shrugged.

Jimin wrinkled his nose in amusement. "That's a nice subway reference. Would you like to add stationed advice as well?"

"Shut up," he grinned. Jimin grinned back. They resumed their walking to the samgyeopsal place in comfortable silence.

"Hyung," Jeongguk began, glancing at Jimin. "Don't worry. You've got a friend at work now."

Jimin chuckled. "After you destroyed me at DDR? I'll be surprised if we didn't become friends."

"That. And you just gained the privilege of having someone to talk with regarding how most of the executives there probably has smelly feet," he teased.

"Hm. As far as I can remember, Seokjin-hyung's feet actually smell nice. Especially his toes--"

"Hyung!" Jeongguk grimaced. "Fuck, TMI!"

Jimin is a very nice guy, don't get him wrong, Jeongguk isn't just willing to talk about feet.

Or anything about exes.

Or, mainly because the fact stood obvious. Since earlier, even without knowing that Jimin's ex is the boss, Jeongguk had already found the guy attractive. It didn't help that Kim Seokjin is very good-looking and probably has pretty toes. Unfairly gorgeous, if he could be honest. Heaven has its favorites and it shows.

Jeongguk's mind flies back to the exact moment 'Kim Seokjin' had caught him, the way he got held, still vivid and warm like the summer skies. And, like summer heat, it's unwelcomed and akin to betrayal. Too hot and too searing, sticky and prevalent. Hearing Jimin talk about his ex made him feel guilty even if he didn't do anything wrong. He's not sure why he feels as if it's a bad thing to consider someone to be hot when it's something that could be seen first hand.

The weird churn in his stomach is completely out of place.

He mulled over gnawing discomfort for the rest of the dinner. Focusing on the present, on the smoking grill, the sizzling meat and the array of side dishes, is hard. He's drowning in thoughts. But Jeongguk found himself unable to chase away the sensation of warm hands holding him close. He pretended he's listening while Jimin chatted away, oblivious to the internal turmoil Jeongguk nursed like a baby.

 

 

"Hyung! How long are you going to stay in there?" Taehyung calls from outside the bathroom. "We want to see!"

To Seokjin, his brother's voice sounds like judgment day, like how God came down in Bruce Almighty and told Bruce Nolan he's fucked straight to his face. Another yell from outside, followed by two laughters of different octaves, and Seokjin's sure he can no longer delay his imminent fate. He stares at his reflection in the mirror, grimacing at how scant the clothing is, the fabric around his shoulders dangerously close to getting ripped.

"Tae," he calls, voice dripping with agony. He's answered by two loud snickers. He bemoans, "I don't think I can do this."

The sound of a knob twisting open echoes right along Taehyung's head appearing between the ample space the door made. Seokjin turns around, facing his brother who's currently looking near suffocation, biting his lips hard to prevent a round of giggles from escaping. Not a moment too soon, Namjoon's head pokes in above Taehyung's, bursting into fits of laughter immediately like the imbecile of a brother he is.

"Damn," Namjoon wheezes, pushing Taehyung inside so now there're three of them crowding a tiny space. "That's categorically indecent."

Taehyung laughs loudly while nodding. Seokjin fights the urge to roll up tissue papers and stick them to their mouths so they'd graciously shut up. He fumes silently, squirming and keeping his legs closed because whenever he slightly moves, his balls start getting caught and squeezed in the leather.

He kind of wants to give his siblings a suckerpunch. There are so many things he's aching to do that moment, say, for example, escaping to another city and changing his name. Or, snitching on Taehyung regarding how he used to steal freshly made kimchi, releasing farts and then blaming it on the house dog.

"This will teach you not to raise bets you can't win," Taehyung's face is so red from laughing and Seokjin kind of thinks he's going to choke and die right there.

Namjoon's nodding along, eyes crinkling with humor. He's thinking of cutting Namjoon's credit card access.

"Jesus christ. Out of all the costumes you had to choose, it had to be really skimpy," he groans mournfully, inserting a finger beneath the edges of the short shorts, trying to pull it further down to at least cover his thighs. It doesn't. He wants to keel over and die.

Taehyung's pulling out his phone, loud shutter sounds chasing the quietude inside the tight space. The two shitheads didn't seem to mind how they're literally recycling carbon dioxide in the air and are probably getting poisoned to a slow death. Few more shots before Taehyung got satisfied and began pushing Namjoon's gigantic body out of the bathroom. Taehyung pulls Seokjin by the arm, both of them stumbling out, the sudden blast of cold air making him shiver like a baby bird. Outside, Namjoon is lounging on the loveseat inside Seokjin's bedroom, legs crossed, remote pointed at the flatscreen and browsing channels.

Seokjin gets handed a note with an address: Oh Hyojoo's apartment complex. 5879 Sinsang-dong, Floor 7.

"I'll be driving us there," Taehyung says. "Don't worry. We'll be waiting in the car. Right, Namjoon-hyung?"

Namjoon spares them a glance and a thumbs up.

"You're going to wait for me?" Seokjin fails to hide the surprise in his tone. He narrows his eyes: "Why?"

Taehyung shrugs and walks to Seokjin's closet. He pulls the doors open and begins to rifle around, pulling clothes from drawers and rummaging through cleanly folded shirts. He doesn't answer, busily searching, before a triumphant noise is let out. He's tossing Seokjin a hoodie that lands straight on his head, willing himself to calm down from the insolent behavior.

"We'll be your getaway car in case the cops pull up," Taehyung says so nonchalantly Seokjin almost doesn't believe the gravity of the words.

"Cops?" Seokjin reiterates, shrugging the hoodie on. "Why? Why would cops be there?"

"Uhh," Taehyung palms the back of his neck, sheepish. He's blinkling, trying to look cute while saying in a pouty voice, "This is actually a surprise Bachelorette Party so they might not expect a stripper."

"Taehyung!"

 

 

Going home while he's two Soju bottles deep and very tipsy had been a feat. Jeongguk remembered almost face planting several times on the way to the apartment complex. Stumbling inside the foyer and kicking his shoes off, he pads inside the small two bedroom living space and lays his satchel bag on top of the kitchen counter.

The apartment is quiet.

Right. He's alone. Hoseok said he'd be out the entire night.

Since moving to Seoul and living with a roommate, it's been so long since Jeongguk had alone time, a taste of privacy. Privacy in terms of doing so many things that no one would mind because no one would be there to listen through thin walls.

Remembering that there's a Bachelorette Party happening above their unit, the thrumming bass music and the loud thudding of footsteps, had him vibrating giddily. Shedding his clothes off and making sure he's placing the dirty laundry inside the designated basket so Hoseok won't mouth off, he barged in his room and closed the door with only his boxers on.

Jeongguk's room is smaller compared to Hoseok who got the master's, but it was cozy. Pale cream walls, a flat screen propped, one huge glass window overlooking the building's fire exit where he spends his time lounging while smoking or reading a book with Seoul's city view on display. It's pretty decent and cheap compared to anything else that's offered within the metropolitan area. It’s a home even if the walls were paper thin.

Flopping down the bed, legs dangling and feet touching the floor, arms spread wide enough and occupying the entire space, Jeongguk stares up at the ceiling. He's blankly listening to the resonance coming from the party above. Bass music, several footsteps walking around, furniture scraping discreetly, and, if he filters out enough noise, made him hear distant conversation in hushed voices.

He closes his eyes, sinking further into the comfort of the bed, covered by clean threads and the scent of their flowery fabric conditioner. It's calming, lulling him to a sense of peace, strong enough to send him to sleep right there. But he fights it. He takes a few moments to simply breathe, let the day's toxicity dissipate and have his wits refocus on the fact that he's home alone and he can relax.

It's a quiet evening despite the noise from the unit above, the traffic of vehicles traversing the national highway a distant noise.

Jeongguk peels his lids open and stares in the darkness until specks of stars appear on his vision. The cold caress of the room warranted goosebumps to rise from his skin, making him shiver.

The silence persists.

There's no Hoseok. No getting sexiled. No loud Girl Group songs and Hoseok chanting dance steps loudly. Biting his lower lip, Jeongguk lets that information sink in, numerous ideas forming on his mind. He's really alone. He can do anything without receiving a stinky eye from Hoseok the next day.

Only one thing comes to mind.

Heart hammering in growing anticipation, Jeongguk lifts a hand, curling it around his neck. It stays there for a few seconds, letting himself adjust to the solid grip he has around the column. Then, he slowly tightens his hold, loosens, repeat. He imagines it's someone else's hand. After a few more beats, his hold grows lax and begins to glide it down the column of his throat, to his collarbones. His breathing picks up pace, fingers skimming taut bones, skin tingling. He closes his eyes, trying to even his breathing while reveling in the trail of warmth his touch left.

More, he thinks, not enough.

His fingers slid down his chest, in between pecs. His hand goes right, moaning the moment he brushes past a nipple, the bud perking after getting teased a few times. He doesn't stop. His index finger and thumb rolls and pinches the bud, alternating between a soft and harsh tug. He keeps on pinching, tugging, rolling, his back arching off the bed, breath puffing in intervals. He repeats the motion again and again, body quivering from the mild stimulation.

Limbs tingling and jelly, Jeongguk forgoes the touch and slides south, caressing the crevices of his abs from the middle, down to his stomach, up and down, down and up, repeatedly. He sucks in a deep breath, muscles flexing because of his touch. He feels hot. He feels like burning. It's balmy despite the night temperature, and it makes him feel as if he's slowly getting scorched.

His fingers slide down to his navel, feeling the beginning of his happy trail, hand dancing tentatively over the waistband of his boxers. Tracing the length of the garter before slipping his hand inside, way past the clothing made him gasp. Once in, his touch reaches the tip of his cock, making him whimper when he accidentally scrapes a nail over the head.

He's not surprised that he's already half-chub, rubbing circular motions right on the tip using his index finger, keening from the electrifying yet feather glide. He dips his hand further, wrapping his fist around the base of his chubbing erection, hissing from the harsh meet of skin against skin.

Fuck. It's too tight for his hand to move.

Retracting his hold, he lifts his hips up, pulling his boxers down halfway, cock finally springing free. He tips his head back, burrowing against the mattress while wrapping a hand around his shaft, this time, greedily thumbing the slit and pressing down. He shudders, precum beginning to leak in tiny beads, index finger rubbing the underside of the flared head while his thumb continues to caress the tip. He repeats it until he gets fully erect, head beading out strings of precum, breath coming out in heavy pants.

He can feel the way his chest is shrivelling up with the onslaught of stimulation, fingers spreading the slick all over his cock, hips bucking in tune with the pace he set fucking into the tight circle of his fist. He's imagining himself getting fucked silly, taken from behind, in front, choking on cock, anything.

Several images of getting railed flashing like graphic pornography clips on his mind. It was getting good, the slide easier and messier, his shaft straining for a release. His abdomen getting tight and developing knots made of pure wanton. He's moaning from pleasure, forehead creasing and jaw slack, drowning in bliss for that edge he's going to jump over when all of a sudden, the window inside the room opens with a loud creaking sound, the Seoul night air blowing in a harsh manner.

Jeongguk shoots up with a squeak, eyes wide and frantic, gaze landing to the source of the noise. He gapes, fist loosening around his cock. The intruder -- who looks like a deranged lunatic with a mask on -- not once spared him a glance. Jeongguk hurriedly tucks his erection back inside his boxers, standing up to confront the intruder wearing some kind of a costume and a Captain America mask. His eyes desperately look around for a weapon -- anything at all -- heartbeat drumming loud on his ears in a nasty warning of danger.

"Shit," he hears the intruder mutter, almost toppling over due to getting stuck in the windowsill. "Why did I even agree to th--"

He's going to die. Oh god. He's really going to die. He's going to die with only his boxers. Hoseok's going to find his mutilated body. His soul's going to get stuck in this tiny apartment foreve--

The intruder does topple over accompanied by a loud 'Fuck!', forcing Jeongguk to snap out of his hysteria.

"W-Who are you?" He stutters out, horrified and experiencing a panic attack ten times worse.

Out of all nights he'd be killed, it had to be when he's wearing Johnny Bravo boxers. He could have worn the expensive Calvin Klein ones but he just had to wear a blond cartoon dude with too much muscles and chicken legs. Fucking hell. The news headlines. Oh god. 'Local korean man dead while wearing Johnny Bravo, body disposed of in a dumpster.' He wilts, dread hiking up in steady folds, wholly ready to make a dash to the door so he can grab a weapon.

The intruder freezes after hearing him, snapping his head up so fast Jeongguk worries the guy might have broken his neck at some point. The intruder's eyes widened in shock (Jeongguk can see it through the eye gap on the mask) plump lips parted. The intruder is hunching forward awkwardly before straightening, giving Jeongguk a full display of the scant clothing on his body.

Holy skimpy fuck.

Jeongguk ogles, mouth slacking open. It's not just some costume, it's a scant fireman costume.

None of them move.

They stare at each other, caught in a trance. The intruder is looking at him intently like Jeongguk somehow did something offensive, a look of recognition(?) flashing across the exposed eyes. Jeongguk blinks because he's not sure why he's interpreting that look as recognition when he's sure he's never met this guy before.

But damn it. This guy is packed, he thinks, holy shit. Slim body, muscles filling exposed arms, stomach toned with glistening abs -- did the guy use body sheer? Is it the famous Kylie J brand? Should he consider purchasing one? -- moulding down to tapered waist and sexy thighs. The fireman costume covered the guy's pecs but exposed his abs, the tiny red leather shorts providing no relief to one's imagination of how tight and bulging the guy's crotch area is. Jeongguk chokes on nothing because of the slim legs that are covered with black knee-high boots.

"Uh. Hi?" The intruder tentatively says. He didn't seem all weirded out nor fussed.

Jeongguk snaps out of it, making sure his voice sounds demanding, intimidating and less scared. "Who the hell are you?"

"Didn't you order for a stripper tonight?" The guy asks. He scans the place around. "Isn't this Oh Hyojoo's apartment?"

"I didn't--" Jeongguk squeaks, blinking hard. He's stammering, addled. "N-No! That's the floor above!"

The fireman guy sucks in a harsh breath. He looks like he's having an internal episode of existential argument with himself which Jeongguk can relate to if he also isn't stuck in this weird situation.

"It's the floor above?" The guy repeats in a low whisper, frustrated. "Damn it. The note says it's this floor," then he shrugs. "Oh well."

Jeongguk opens his mouth, closing it again, before settling with a weak: "I-I didn't order a stripper."

"You didn't?"

"I didn't!"

"Hm. Really? You look like the type, though."

"I-I'm not into that!"

"Then...what are you into?"

"What?" He asks incredulously.

Jeongguk gets an answer to his claim by means of the fireman guy taking a step closer, which in extension, made him take a step back. Forward. Backward. Forward. His morbid sense of humor actually gibes him that they only needed a piece from Tchaikovsky and it'd seem like they're waltzing. Fireman guy doesn't stop. The stare he casts on Jeongguk is intense, if anything, making him wonder what the potency is all about.

Alarmed and afraid, Jeongguk swallows hard, lifting his fists, imitating a boxing stance. "Stay right where you are," he warns.

The fireman guy looks amused more than threatened. He's taking another tentative step forward, which made Jeongguk flinch, causing the guy to withdraw his foot. He places his foot forward once more, and when he gets the same reaction from Jeongguk, slowly retracts it again. He does it again. And again. And again, garnering the same flinching reaction. The guy looks like he's having a blast.

This dude is definitely playing with him. With a low hiss, Jeongguk draws his foot back and angles his body for a straight jab, gritting, "Do you think you're being hilarious right now?" 

"Woah there Muhammad Ali," the fireman guy flummoxes, taking a real step back this time, hands in the air. "Relax! I'm not here to cause harm."

"Relax?! How could I?!" Jeongguk is already hysterical. "For all I know, you could be a serial killer!"

Fireman guy -- to Jeongguk's disadvantage -- chuckles a low melodious sound. It's the kind that is refined and held back with etiquette, which should sound sexy in porn movies. It's also the same kind that would whisper filthy words and derogatory goading while fucking into someon--

Shit. Jeongguk squirms, willing the thought away. He resumes his malicious squinting.

"A serial killer? Really?" The fireman guy is shaking his head in mock affrontement, lips curving to a condescending smirk that makes it look like he's looking down on Jeongguk (which made him weak in the knees). His next words weighed with smugness, "what serial killer looks like this?"

"Huh?" Do serial killers have a required physical profile?

Exasperated, fireman guy's hands lowered to an angle, arms posed for a flex. Jeongguk feels a tad bit winded at the way the arm muscles in front of him grew taut, causing an indirect reaction from his cock in the form of a slight excited twitch. Jeongguk curses his dick to hell. The fireman guy laughs. "See? I doubt a serial killer looks this good."

"Jeffrey Dahmer was good loo--hold the fuck up," Jeongguk is dumbstruck for all the wrong reasons. "Are you actually sick in the head?"

Fireman guy stares at him, deep and intense, pinning him in place. The guy lilts his head to the side with a hand on his hip, adorning a ruminative look. Jeongguk swallows hard -- because this is so weird and he's not sure if he's going to survive the night -- taking a step back and brandishing his fists as a weapon.

Faint mumbling that Jeongguk barely hears got dished before fireman guy says after a beat, dead serious. "Do I need to prove that I'm actually a stripper?"

"What?" Jeongguk's distant drunken buzz fully disappears.

"I said -- do I need to prove that I'm a stripper?"

Jeongguk is honestly speechless. "How about you get out before I call the police?"

Plethora of emotions can be seen flickering across fireman dude before it settles for amusement. "I don't think law enforcers are in the mood for a strip dance."

"What the fuck?"

A finger gets pointed at Jeongguk, specifically, towards his groin. "But I think your dick would like to say otherwise."

Baffled, Jeongguk looks down and, much to his horror, realizes that the glistening tip of his cock is peeking out the waistband of his boxers. He looks up, eyes wide in terror and shame with cheeks bursting in flames, mouth gaping.

Fireman guy looks insanely smug. "Well? I can give you a show to prove I'm not here to kill you."

"Huh?"

"By the looks of it," a dismissive wave and then, "I think I'll be able to make you feel good."

Again, what?

 

 

Laughters from upstairs distinctly sound like it's directed towards this entire predicament that Jeongguk also found laughable, so he truly can't blame them. Said fiasco is unlike any other, truly unrivaled even if he often found himself in a lot of compromising situations in the past.

Nothing beats this.

Countless situations in his recollection surmounts to encounters he had, for example, during middle school when he got a hard-on listening to Sex Ed. During high school, when his first boyfriend decided that an under the staircase blowjob was cool, until they got caught by the school maintenance man. During plenty of times in college, namely in lecture rooms, rooftops, broom closets, restrooms, and most of them occurred when he dated scumbags who only wanted sex instead of holding hands. But, never, not even once in his entire life, had he expected to experience first hand what Seoul's red light district is about. He frequented bars during college but never entered strip clubs.

So, he's unsure why he's caught in the middle of this when he just wanted to have a peaceful night masturbating before going to sleep.

The walkman placed neatly on top of the mattress spills Britney Spears' voice from the speakers. She's singing But mama I'm in love with a criminal, uncaring of whether the ones listening to her actually appreciates the song or not. Jeongguk is experiencing a moral dilemma and Britney's doing nothing to help. She's alleviating the entire problem. Said problem is him finding himself forcibly sat on the bed for a show.

A supposedly free strip show.

He observes fireman guy getting ready, watches each step he takes, standing in front of Jeongguk, shedding the murder weapon looking boots from his legs. He watches how the guy bends down and how his long, slender but muscular body flex while zipping the thing down before discarding it beside the bookshelf, neatly arranging the shoes.

This is probably the part where he should say something. The silence is deafening and he's beginning to feel awkward about this entire deal. Receiving a strip show isn't what he expected to experience when he wanted to confirm whether this dude is a serial killer or not.

But he knows, desperately, that he should say something, anything, for the sake of his nerves. He fidgets nervously.

"Um...So," Jeongguk chews on his bottom lip, playing with the stray threads on the edge of his boxers. "S-Strippernim."

Fireman guy turns to slowly face him. "...Did you just call me strippernim?"

His cheeks burn in embarrassment. "What am I supposed to call you? ...I don't even know your name," the last words came out as a mumble.

Fireman guy falls silent. Jeongguk catches the guy's gaze, thoughtful look and all. A small smile curves on the guy's lips before a word that Jeongguk already heard plenty of times that day was given: "Seokjin."

Surprise is an understatement of what erupted inside him the moment that name was given. Though impossible to even consider because the Seokjin he's heard of over the course of the day is a rich guy who owns an entire building. Seokjin is Jimin's ex-boyfriend. Seokjin is the handsome guy he crashed into earlier, the shock factor from the encounter not dwindling even a bit. His heart hammers wildly inside his ribcage, it might as well jump out and breach his chest.

He sputters, winded. "S-Seokjin? Your name is Seokjin?"

"Yes," Fireman guy -- 'Seokjin' -- says. There's an odd gleam on his features. "That's my name. You can call me that."

Jeongguk tries to calm his heartbeat down. What in the goddamn fuck. This guy who said his name is 'Seokjin' is a stripper, and, judging from reliable sources (Namjoon and Jimin) the other 'Seokjin' is a CEO. Nonetheless, he still begins to mentally tick off similarities way past the name. If his memory serves him right, CEO Seokjin has beautiful eyes, small face and plump lips. Tall and slim, well-built beneath the suit and tie. Suspected God. He also smells rich and expensive. Strippernim is...Jeongguk takes a look at the guy in front of him. It takes him a moment before settling for: decent. Fine. Good-looking.

Okay, scratch that, strippernim Seokjin is fucking gorgeous. Sexy. Glistening abs and muscles filling him up in all the right places. Jeongguk feels envious of how effortlessly fit the guy looks. Beneath the mask, he also has a pair of plump lips that could rival CEO Seokjin -- Jeongguk has the sudden urge to compare which Seokjin has the plumpest lips.

Both 'Seokjins' are definitely on the scale meter of being dangerously captivating. But they should be different, he thinks, because a CEO has no reason to be a stripper. Oh. Maybe...maybe all Seokjins are good-looking as a standard...? Right. That's probably it.

Jeongguk nods to himself, palms now laid flatly on his lap. "Got it, stripperni--Seokjin-ssi."

"Just Seokjin is fine."

"Oh, uh. Okay, Seokjin."

"Not so bad, right?" Seokjin offers him a kind smile. "You're too stiff. What's your name?"

Jeongguk straightens. He also didn't expect that introductions are needed before a strip show. But then again, he's never been in one, so he indulges. "J-Jeongguk. That's my name."

"Jeongguk," Seokjin repeats. He nods thoughtfully. "Cute."

He tries not to preen from the small compliment, pretends he isn't all affected. He clears his throat, gesturing between the two of them. "So, Seokjin...how does...any of these work?"

"Depends on the kind of dance. How old are you, Jeongguk?"

"Um...t-twenty two...?"

"Twenty two," Seokjin hums. "I'm older," a low hum of acknowledgement, then: "You can address me as hyung."

They move fast. From first names and now to honorifics. "H-Hyung...? You want me to call you hyung?"

"I'm twenty seven," Seokjin says. He lifts a finger as a warning. "Call me strippernim and I'll charge you," Seokjin says sweetly.

Oh.

Oh. That actually makes sense. He kind of feels like a dolt for failing to consider that fact. He nods. "Okay, hyung."

"You listen well," Seokjin smiles sweetly. "Good boy."

Oh god. Jeongguk keens from the tiny praise. Fucking damn it, he's not fifteen with raging hormones, jumpy to almost everything, but here he is like he's back to Sex Ed and getting a hard-on just by staring at a dick pic with labels on them. It's so off-kilter to have this kind of immediate reaction from mere words and pretty eyes and lips. Seokjin's burning gaze is on him, Britney's sultry singing their background noise. 'He is a villain by the devil's law', the beat drums continuously from the walkman but it did nothing to lower the steady rise of thick heat in the atmosphere.

For a few beats, neither moves. Jeongguk's breath is caught in his throat.

Seokjin's giving him a smolder through the Captain America mask on his face.

His dick twitches. He tries so hard to send it a mental signal to calm the fuck down, please.

The lyrics shift to But mama I'm in love with a criminal and Seokjin boldly flings one hand in the air, keeping eye contact with Jeongguk. And, as he did so, he retains the eye contact while slowly and lithely going down to squat, back straight and thigh muscles flexing. Jeongguk mentally kicks himself for even thinking about Legally Blonde's bend and snap movement in the middle of a really sexy attempt at a slut drop.

In retrospect, thinking of Legally Blonde should have tamed his raging boner, but it only made his cock jerk excitedly in his boxers. He fails to peel his gaze off from the scant leather shorts Seokjin is wearing because it's getting stretched, crotch area emphasized, dick bulge ever so apparent.

Oh god. This is a really bad idea.

It's so bad solely because Jeongguk's scene is never the One Night Stands by a mile. And moreso, with a stranger who's conveniently named Seokjin, who's also a stripper. He's not judging the profession, trust him, it's just isn't his cup of tea. He prefers soft conversations over meaningless fucking. But his erection is aching so bad he wants to cry. He was already hard before Seokjin barged into his bedroom window by mistake and he just wants relief. His hands curl to a fist on top of his lap, lip bitten sore.

He continues to stare, internally cursing why he can't look away.

Seokjin pops back up and repeats the movement. Jeongguk would have given him perfect 10s for the fluidity alone. He thought it's going to end there because the song is also coming to an end. Yet, the show didn't stop. Seokjin dances with an added sway on his hips, hands caressing his sides up in a come hither motion, touch sliding up to his shoulders until his arms lifts in the air. His skin sheens of mild sweat, Jeongguk notices, exposed parts of his face flushing pink. The next dance move is Seokjin parting his feet apart, bending forward, back straight and hands on knees. Seokjin's burning gaze focuses on Jeongguk as he, ever so lithely, begins parting his legs wider while squatting down.

Jeongguk swallows hard. His dick is positively weeping, heart beating wildly and near combusting.

The lyrics shift near the end and so do Seokjin's dance moves. Each snap of hips is done so prettily Jeongguk's wholly convinced that Seokjin really is a stripper and not a serial killer. His mind is swerving hard in differing opinions: wanting to continue watching, wanting to make Seokjin stop. Enjoying the show and getting ridden by guilt. It didn't help that there's a cacophony of sounds all around.

It's too noisy.

In his room, it's Britney. The party above has some Electropop music turned up too loud, like a clubhouse mix. In front of him, on the other hand, Seokjin moves gracefully. Jeongguk thinks that if Hoseok was here to see this, he'd be awed.

They'd probably be both busy staring at Seokjin's groin, however.

Britney's song -- fucking finally -- ends.

Jeongguk releases a sigh he didn't realize he'd been holding in.

Seokjin stops, torso sheening with sweat. There's a knowing smirk on his features that distinctly shows he knows how much impact he left. God. Jeongguk is dazedly staring at him. No one speaks, silence akin to one that's toeing between lines, wondering when and until where should be crossed. It's a bubble made of trance, might be temptation, or the disembodied Bob Ross ASMR-like voice that's whispering to let loose. Jeongguk's sure it's something along those lines because the moment is lulling him to a mindless state. Seokjin is reeling him, casting a spell that's hard to breach.

Until Britney shatters that bubble by singing again.

"Oh my god. Oops I did it again," he groans, palming his face. For the first time, he actually thanks Britney for snapping him out of a dangerous plane.

It seems like Seokjin shares his sentiment, the slight shake of his head and sheepish smile, an indication. "Don't even get me started on that one."

"Jesus...uh, okay," Jeongguk says, voice raspy. He shifts, trying to find a position where his cock isn't getting choked. "Okay. I'm now convinced," he clears his throat. "You don't need to do anything else. Um. I can escort you to the front door and tell Hyojoo-noona--"

He got interrupted by Seokjin's sensual chuckle. "I can't let you do that."

"Huh?"

Jeongguk decides right there that strippers are dangerous. He'll never visit the red light district.

"Baby," Seokjin whispers lowly, licking his lips. Jeongguk turns to jelly due to the pet name it's downright ridiculous. It's an instantaneous reaction. He doesn't know why his arousal is spiking up by getting called 'baby'. Fuck. Seokjin smirks knowingly. "We're not done yet."

By the ever loving grace of God, he's still trying to recover from the pet name.

Now, they're not done yet? Jesus christ.

"What? Not done yet...?" His eyes widen, fists curled tightly over his lap that his knuckles are turning white.

His query got answered in the form of Seokjin strutting to him and closing their distance. From this close, even with half of Seokjin's face covered, he looks ethereal. He's so beautiful Jeongguk thinks he belongs to a painting and escaped by means of dark magic. His  breathing accelerates hard when Seokjin bends down and, to his surprise, climbs on top of him. He automatically assists, curling his hands over Seokjin's bare waist to help with positioning. It's slim. Holy fuck. Jeongguk lets out a tiny whine from the feeling of smooth skin beneath his palms.

"We've barely begun," Seokjin says, the lilt of his tone akin to a hungry beast. He cards fingers through Jeongguk's hair, fingers digging and massaging the scalp. "Not going to leave a pretty thing like you unsatisfied."

He must have died somewhere in between going home because there's no way this entire situation is real.

"Oh fuck," he rasps, getting riled up just from words and the fingers curled on his hair.

Seokjin pauses on his movement and takes a moment to stare at Jeongguk, removing his touch around the tufts. Jeongguk stares back, breathing narrowly. The hand on Jeongguk's hair moves down and, without warning, a thumb began to caress and press against his bottom lip. He exhales softly, parting his lips slightly, waiting. Seokjin seems gratified, thumb pausing in the middle then sliding it up until it settles between the gap, inside. Jeongguk swallows, giving a tentative bite on Seokjin's thumb, preens when Seokjin lets out a curse.

Jeongguk feels dismay from the loss when Seokjin pulled his touch off.

"Have you ever slut dropped to Britney Spears?" Seokjin asks in an undertone while swinging a leg over Jeongguk's lap, straddling him, scooting closer until their groins touch. The slight friction Jeongguk felt from that alone is more than enough to hurl him straight to oblivion. It feels so good, the brief sensation of relief, making him whimper without shame.

"Shit," uneven breathing and lips parted, he doesn't finish whatever he was about to say because Seokjin begins to grind against him. "Hyung."

Two hands are curled over the slope of Jeongguk's shoulders, nails digging through skin. It stings, knocking the winds off his sails, but it's also hot. Noticing how Seokjin's hands are smooth and soft, like they never had to work a day, didn't help the liquid heat that began to pool on his belly. Strippers takes good care of their bodies, Jeongguk thought. From this close, he can smell almond and shea butter, a scent he's going to begin associating to this particular night.

Seokjin leans in, nudging Jeongguk's chin up with his head, pressing his lips on Jeongguk's jaw. He kisses along, trailing up until he reaches the spot beneath Jeongguk's ear. A low purr gyrates in tune of licking and sucking, Jeongguk meeting Seokjin's hip rolls, pace a mix and match of slow and fast. He's desperate, he knows, but it's not stopping him from tightening his grip on Seokjin's waist, chasing sexual pleasure through gratified friction. Fuck, he thinks, it's obvious he's touch starved for months because he's too eager for this. He's whining just from the soft and plump lips trailing down the side of his throat.

He groans, head thrown back, feeling lips sucking a hickey on his neck. "Oh god -- please don't ask me that while my dick is rubbing against yours."

Seokjin chuckles breathlessly and grinds down, urging Jeongguk to roll his hips up. It's an erratic tempo. He's chasing the hard curve of cock beneath tight leather shorts, satisfied for the euphoric bliss yet disappointed because he can only feel the bulge indirectly. He does it again, breathing harsh and gyrating, mind fuzzy and body too hot, too turned on.

"That's it," a low murmur tumbles out of Seokjin's mouth, sound causing vibrations against Jeongguk's skin. He's trying to match the rhythm of their grinding, doing his best to roll for more despite the weight resting on his lap. "Doing good for me, baby."

"Hyung...fuck," he calls in broken gasps, hips rocking in smooth rolls, so, so close to crossing the edge. Toes, fingertips, arms, legs, everything in him tingles, nerve-ending singing so heavenly he's close to releasing. His cock drags continuously along Seokjin's, not mind the harsh rub of clothing between.

He's almost there.

Eyes closed, he sees the blinding white light beckoning him to cross. His belly's ready to burst from the burning heat, tight like a taut string ready to get plucked.

Only a little more. He's rutting in an uneven, mismatched rhythm that Seokjin's nearly bouncing on his lap, groans spilling from their mouths.

The white light is already within an arm's reach. Awfully close to tipping over to finally relieve his belly from the tautness--

"Oh fuck," he moans.

"That's it, baby," Seokjin coaxes, voice taking a commanding tone. "Come on. You can do it. Show me."

--until something from the floor above crashes down the floor so loud it echoed downstairs and into Jeongguk's room, jarring him out of the heat-induced reverie.

Everything clears. The pink hot lustful haze evaporates. His hips stutters to a halt.

It's a harsh wake up call, similar to getting doused with cold water, this realization of what he's doing, about to do. It sends him to a frenzied state of disbelief, the grating reality of the current situation: he's about to get off with a stranger who he absolutely knew nothing about except for a name. And a name that seems common, nonetheless. It's a rattling discernment, numerous facts slapping him in the face about the absurdity of it all.

First one to come to the forefront of his mind is the fact that he doesn't have enough money to pay for this. If he's learned anything about watching films, is that strippers aren't cheap. They're fucking expensive. Second, Seokjin should be upstairs, not with him.

Jeongguk's morals are still very much intact, so firmly bonded in fact, that he's pushing Seokjin off with a string of apologies.

Confused, Seokjin obliges, getting off Jeongguk's lap. But he doesn't leave. Instead, he cages Jeongguk between his arms, hands planted on either side of where he sat. He asks, "Hey...you okay?"

Palming his face, Jeongguk speaks beneath the hands covering his face. "This feels so wrong."

"Wrong?" Seokjin asks. "Why?"

"I feel like I'm taking advantage of you..." Jeongguk laments brokenly. He doesn't recognize the remorse and distraught tone his voice adapted. He feels really bad. "I don't even know who you are and I'm holding you back from earning a living."

Seokjin falls silent. There's a few moments of utter quietude before he's lifting a hand, pinching Jeongguk's chin between his index finger and thumb, tilting Jeongguk's chin up. He obliges, locking eyes with Seokjin and realizing that their faces are dangerously close. Only a bit more, if he so chooses to inch forward, they'll be kissing. He can see a shine in Seokjin's dark eyes that's predatory. It's primal, all-consuming and bone-chilling. He shivers from it.

"Will it help you relax if I show you my face?"

Jeongguk's eyes widens. "W-what...?"

"Answer if you're being asked," Seokjin commands with an undertone. "Will it?"

His head nods automatically from the command.

With a satisfied smile, reminiscent of a beast catching its prey right where it wants it to be, Seokjin pulls back and reaches behind the mask. The sound of a zipper getting pulled gyrates so slow. Jeongguk swallows down his anticipation. Is he really going to...? Will he...? Are any of these even real? He's lost on what to think. Stripper Seokjin is already good-looking with the mask on and he's curious to confirm if all Seokjins are truly good-looking. Seokjin the CEO is already drop dead gorgeous. Seokjin the stripper showed signs that he could be.

Jeongguk waits with bated breath.

The mask gets pulled off.

Stripper Seokjin shakes his head to fluff his hair, plump lips parted, head thrown back with the motion. Like time slowing down, Stripper Seokjin, without the mask on, looks at Jeongguk straight to the eye. Dark eyes, thick brows, sharp nose, plump lips and smooth skin: everything screams perfection. He looks majestic and alluringly imposing. A slow smirk begins to curl on his lips and he looks so fucking mean.

Jeongguk's eyes widens.

Oh.

Oh fucking hell.

"Holy shit..." He trails off, breath hitching. "Holy mother of--"

Stripper Seokjin throws the mask on the floor. The smirk on his features curls to a lopsided grin. From this angle, the shadows of the room cover parts of Seokjin while the lights outside the window highlight some, making him look mysterious and striking, like how night meets day.

But that's not what Jeongguk found the most disturbing.

"You..." Jeongguk struggles to say the word, to finish it. "Holy fuck. You're--"

Stripper Seokjin prowls to him, shrugging the scant top of the fireman costume off. He's shimmying the short leather shorts next, the clothing sliding off his thighs smoothly. He's pulling the material off each leg and leaves it laying on the ground, leaving him in nothing else but his underwear.

"Oh my god--" Jeongguk wheezes. "It can't be..."

Out of all the people in the world, the coincidences he had to encounter and the people who'd end up trespassing his room by mistake, it had to be the someone so high profile and downright impossible to even consider. This is another cliche that shouldn't have happened by a mile because this shit should only happen in movies and not in real life.

But here it is, here he was, experiencing the second cliche of his day.

Jeongguk gapes, the name rolling off his mouth in a breathless tumble. "Kim Seokjin..."

"Why, pretty?" Seokjin 'the actual CEO and not a stripper' smirks so menacingly. "Did you think I'm someone else?"

"I..." Jeongguk's brain is short-circuiting. His chest heaves. "Oh my god...this is the last thing I ever even considered. Fuck."

"Does this change anything? I don't think it does, quite frankly," Seokjin asks so casually like everything about this weird situation is okay. He's now looming before Jeongguk, resuming his earlier position, caging him on the edge of the bed.

"What?" Jeongguk is plainly nonplussed. He's having an episode of a short mental breakdown. "Of course! I didn't even--oh god. No. I haven't even thought..."

Seokjin lays his hand on top of Jeongguk's thigh, squeezing lightly. "Shh. Relax for me," he hears a whisper of encouragement, the hand on his thigh doing slow ministrations. Seokjin's voice drop to an octave laced with seduction and temptation. "Don't think about anything else. Only think about this moment."

Seokjin eyes him with a look he can't quite decipher. It's heavy, dark and chilling. It's the look a predator would give the victim of their trap. It's the kind that drips of blood and teems of greed. The turnaround of events had left Jeongguk winded, confused and nettled. He wants to ask so many things, clarify how things led to this, bemoan about how the fuck did a CEO become a fucking stripper.

However, before he can even open his mouth, plump lips are already pressing against his, knocking his breath away and returning it by means of a nibble on his lower lip. There's a biting sting that made him gasp, forcing him to open his mouth for an invitation directed at Seokjin to reel in with his tongue.

He tries to push Seokjin off, hands balled against bare chest, but Seokjin pushes forward, cupping the side of Jeongguk's face, kissing him senseless, hot and wet.

They break away for a moment and it's what Jeongguk takes as a chance to speak. "Hold on. Sto--"

But Seokjin doesn't let him say anything.

 

Inside Jeongguk's bag, his phone vibrates from several messages. The device lighting up with numerous app bubbles fading in on the screen.

+082 017 0000 10:30 PM

Hey Guk
This is Jimin-hyung :)

10:31 PM

U might hear it from HR tomorrow but I'm the one who vouched for u
Did that sound cocky? Sorry. I just thought it'd be best if u heard it from me first :)

10:35 PM

...Ik I shouldn't even be saying this but
I saw the look Seokjin-hyung gave u earlier
Remember when I told u abt ppl not being who they seem to be?

 

They kiss, although Jeongguk's mind screams that it's wrong and he should pull away, he melts like goo in the way Seokjin guides him and takes full control. This is his boss, his mind tells him, the ex-boyfriend of a friend. He's aware but getting encased in strong arms, the heat that licks through his veins when their naked skins touch, made him forget and dismiss the heavy things as something light. Tongue flicking and licking inside his mouth, he's lost on how to react, squirming and unable to stop. Seokjin's hand angles Jeongguk's head to slot their mouth perfectly. Bites are made in between tasting saliva and a hint of mint.

Jeongguk is so dizzy and it's only just a kiss that's making him melt this way.

"Hyu--" Another kiss. "Hold on--" He's getting tugged forward without breaking the kiss. Their positions shifted. Seokjin's now the one sitting on the bed and Jeongguk settled on his lap.

Seokjin trails his mouth down, from Jeongguk's lips to his jaw, kissing south to the underside of it and then to his neck. Two hands cups his ass, kneading on the flesh, the grip tight and bruising. He keens, moaning into Seokjin's mouth and completely losing track of his coherent thoughts. He loses the whys and the hows. Seokjin slowly begins to roll his hips, urging Jeongguk to rock back. The grip on his ass is goading him to try for more friction, for more touches both front and back.

"Hyung," he whimpers, body rolling to drag his throbbing erection through their clothes. "Hyung. Listen. This is..."

"Shh. So good, baby," Seokjin murmurs, mouthing against the column of Jeongguk's throat, sliding his tongue down until his tongue catches the taut of Jeongguk's collarbones. He's guiding the roll of their hips in slow motion. The undertone of his voice is doing weird things to Jeongguk. "You're doing good for me."

"Oh fuck," Jeongguk gasps, rocking his hips faster, fingers digging through Seokjin's shoulders. He's unable to control his voice from dissolving to little whines of pleasure. "Shit."

"Will you cum for me this way, baby?" Seokjin purrs yet he sounds so mean. Jeongguk shudders from the words but doesn't stop the way he's rutting against Seokjin's groin, pressing down. "So easy. Are you this easy?"

At this point, Jeongguk didn't even know why he wanted to stop in the first place.

"N-no," he whines, shaking his head to prove his point. He's growing delirious with frolicking heat, unable to stop the way he's grinding down. He braces his fists against Seokjin's chest, picking up the pace. "No, m'not -- won't," he says around a broken gasp.

His back arches when a wet warmth suddenly slides across his nipple, tongue swiping repeatedly over the pert bud. He leans forward to feel more, moans spilling from his mouth, the rock of his hips stuttering when there's a definite bite made. Seokjin hums but doesn't stop, tonguing Jeongguk's nipple like he's licking a lollipop. Jeongguk braces his hand behind, right on top of Seokjin's knees, pressing his groin and directly rubbing his erection against Seokjin's, the familiar heat of orgasm already beginning to pool fast on his belly.

It starts slow. Beginning on his toes, making them curl. Then it creeps up to his legs, thighs, settling on his belly. It starts again at the nerve endings on his fingertips, travelling to his hands, arms and to his nape. The liquid heat is gushing all over like lava, spreading fast and wild.

He was already close to orgasming before he got interrupted and it didn't surprise him that it's forming again much faster. He's rutting for gratification of relief, leaning back to the bruising grip on his ass and towards the friction on his groin. His mouth goes slack, head thrown back, mouth spilling Seokjin's name over and over like a prayer. Seokjin is  aiding their pace, set on a fast tempo. Jeongguk is getting closer to his high, desperately chasing the blinding white light forming beneath his lids. Grinding down, uncaring of the drag of fabric and focusing more on the hard curve of Seokjin's cock. He shuts down anything and everything.

Moans and grunts fill the space, a symphony of sounds, making him convulse within Seokjin's hold. The final push that made him jump over the edge was Seokjin telling him he looks 'Beautiful' coupled by the bite administered on his nipple. He's cumming in spurts inside his boxers, body quaking and balance loosening. Arms circle around his torso to steady him, holding him close so he won't fall back and break his neck in the process. Ideally, it would have been a great option.

It takes Jeongguk a few moments to come down from his high, perpetually sated, chest heaving from catching his breath. He's floating aimlessly in a hazy cloud, heat slowly draining from his body like receding ocean waves.

A soft sigh tumbles out, forgetting where he is and who he's with.

Who just made him cum.

There's a slight squeeze and the euphoric walls crash down.

"You with me?" Seokjin's deep drawl slices through Jeongguk's floaty headspace.

He nods breathlessly.

It should have been the wake up call, it should have been the cue to drag himself off of Seokjin's lap. The traces of sweat, weight of hands around him -- these should have been the reminders.

When Seokjin leans in to whisper right next to Jeongguk's ear, "Where are your lube and condoms?"

He knows he should have said no.

But he pointed to his bedside table.

Seokjin hoists him up, carries him like he weighs next to none. It should have been the other cue he heeded to back out, but his arousal began flickering again. The moment his boxers got pulled off, soft and calloused hands began caressing his thighs, nudged his legs open followed by Seokjin settling in between, Jeongguk should have pushed him off and said no.

This should have been the part where he tells Seokjin:'Stop, this is wrong. This wasn't supposed to happen.'

But he didn't. Instead, he followed Seokjin's orders and lifted both his legs up until they're pressed flat on his chest, exposing his ass to full view.

The sound of a lube cap opening and closing, the silent drag of slicked fingers and the first digit to circle his rim should have been the warning. All of these screamed that he's about to have sex with the Ex-boyfriend of an Ex-fling. That this man isn't a stripper. That he's the boss of the company who signed him. He should have demanded answers, throw questions, but all these got lost when Seokjin inserted a first slicked finger, pushing past Jeongguk's rim, swirling around to open his body. It shouldn't have been moans that began spilling from his mouth but whys.

One night stand is something he tabooed because he didn't like how it makes him feel empty the next morning. Used. Tossed. He should have steeled his resolve, staved his arousal and demanded more forcefully to stop because it's what his brain is telling him, but he says instead, 'More. I want more'. Another finger breaches past, circling and swirling, loosening him up. He says it again. More. Please. Again. Third finger swirls inside, crooked, scissoring, making him see stars after his prostate got nudged and brushed repeatedly.

He's breathing in broken gasps, head thrown back against the pillow, shaking from pleasure he knows he shouldn't be feeling because he just talked to Jimin earlier and he's fully aware that Seokjin is Jimin's Ex and fucking the Ex of a friend is such a shitty thing to do.

A tear of a foil, Seokjin's deep groan of pleasure, and then Jeongguk is moaning Seokjin's name like a call for mercy after feeling the tip of a cock tapping his clenching and loosened hole. It circles around teasingly before sinking in. He shouldn't be begging for Seokjin to slow down a bit because the stretch stings, but he finds himself doing so.

He shouldn't be moaning around a cock like he couldn't be sated.

 

The screen of Jeongguk's phone lights up again.

10:55 PM

Guk
U awake?

10:56 PM

Idk if u are but in case…
I remember getting interrupted on relaying the reason y we broke up
There's this incident that happened

10:57 PM

I'm only telling u this cos Ik the look Seokjin-hyung gave u earlier
He used to give me that when we first met

10:58 PM

He's a bit disturbed
Mentally

10:59 PM

We got into numerous fights
It got to a point where he didn't want me to go out of the house
He wanted to keep me locked. If I stepped out I got hit
He said he loved me and only protected me
I got hit numerous times whenever I tried to defy him
I know love is not supposed to be like that

 

Jeongguk shouldn't even revel to the sensation of running around a nuthouse when Seokjin begins to fuck into him and mean it, jostling him up higher, higher, until his head almost hits the bed's headboard several times, but he does. The sting he felt earlier began to fade into a fullness he liked so much, each drag made against his walls so heat prevalent and heightened. He shouldn't even be wrapping his legs around Seokjin's hips while he's getting pounded to oblivion.

He shouldn't love the way his wrists got pinned above his head with Seokjin's body curved aboved his, lips sucking hickeys across skin, but he does, and he pulls Seokjin closer to feel him deeper. He wants to feel more, to feel the liquid heat on his veins again, the electricity and the ecstasy whenever his prostate gets directly nudged, over and over.

This is a manifestation of the Ecstasy of Saint Theresa in the form of Seokjin's cock buried to the hilt inside him.

Technically, Jeongguk shouldn't even be this eager to get fucked that he nodded his head without hesitation when Seokjin told him to stand up so he can fuck him against the window. He shouldn't be this willing to bend over, jutting his ass up and arching his back like some porn star, or even gasp and moan when he gets taken from behind, when Seokjin begins to slam his hips against him quickly, barely pulling back.

Yet, all he can do is support himself by bracing his hands against the glass of the window while he's getting fucked from behind.

Dirty words spill from Seokjin's mouth, telling Jeongguk how much of a good find he is, how tight he is, how he looks pretty getting fucked near incoherency. All he can do is nod, rolling his hips back to meet each thrust made while Seokjin growls how shameless Jeongguk is that he's willing to be seen by people outside in such a state. It shouldn't make him whimper and whine, but it does. Those dirty words shouldn't be the reason why he's growing more aroused, cock leaking beads of precum and aching to be touched. Again. He shouldn't feel the toe curling heat when both of his arms got pulled back, wrists held together behind him while Seokjin continuously pounds, cracking him open, pushing his face flat against the dirty window glass leaving trails of sweat.

Through their reflection, him bent over and Seokjin curved over him with bitten lips and furrowed brows, Jeongguk's little 'Ah!'s and matted hair with sweat slicked body -- all of these contributed to the sudden gush of bliss which threatened to erupt the moment it's finally become evident who's fucking him with intention.

His boss. Jimin's ex-boyfriend. Kim Seokjin. So many taboos are gathered in one person.

"S-Seokjin-hyu--mm!" He babbles, speech breaking when Seokjin reaches forward and slots two of his fingers inside Jeongguk's mouth, shutting him up. He laps at the digits, moaning and sucking, making Seokjin grunt deep with a curse. The angle that Jeongguk's getting railed fast and hard made him want to sob because it's direct and precise. Breathing heavily, unable to control the tiny gasps, he begs and begs 'Please, make me cum. Please, I want more. Please, go harder. Harder. Faster. More,'.

He should have asked Seokjin to pull out and told him 'No, this is wrong, we shouldn't be doing this', because it deviates company etiquette, because he agreed earlier to be Jimin's confidante, and there might be a tiny part of Jimin that's still very much in love with Seokjin.

Jimin trusted him enough to be a friend.

A good friend.

And a good friend never fucks a friend's ex-lover.

Yet, he's unable to stop. Seokjin's name on his lips sounds like a chant. His arms are sore due to getting pulled from behind, ass bouncing because of Seokjin's hips snapping and thrusting hard. He shouldn't whimper from the way Seokjin's free hand is squeezing his wrists until the hand imprints his skin rouge. Being shamelessly loud despite the fingers lodged on his mouth, knowing people can see him outside the window, yet despite all of these, his hole tightly clenched around the cock pounding inside and nudging his prostate. He shouldn't want for more, but he does, "Please. Please. Please. Please."

"Fuck. I'm close," Seokjin answers him with a low moan, letting go of Jeongguk's wrist in favor of lifting one of his legs and placing it on top of the windowsill. The new position allows Seokjin to roll his hips in different angles, thrusts hitting Jeongguk's prostate with deadly precision. He uses a free arm to anchor himself against the glass, the cock gliding into him pushing him closer and closer until he's once again, teetering to the edge.

"Please. Please. Don't stop," he whimpers, each nerve endings heightened that even the roll of sweat on his skin sent tingles that contributed to scorching warmth taut on his belly the second time that night. "Don't--ah!--don't stop. Please. Please."

Seokjin rewards him with long and deep thrusts, slow and then fast, body curled over covering Jeongguk, reaching forward so his lips are right next to Jeongguk's ear as he murmurs low, "I don't plan to. I'm going to keep you."

It shouldn't have been the trigger, the undertone and the growl. It shouldn't have been what drove Jeongguk near the edge of the cliff, the point where he's swaying until near falling, but it was. He's clenching down Seokjin's length, the drawled out moan he got from it being that final push he needed to spill, body spasming and cock twitching, spurting cum in a splatter down the floor and onto the edges of the windowsill. He falls hard and fast, cascading down like the waves of the sea meeting the shore.

Technically, the moment he learned that fireman guy is actually Kim Seokjin, not a random stripper, should have been the deal breaker.

Seokjin being Jimin's ex-boyfriend should have done it.

This being a One Night Stand should have been the turn off.

Him fucking his boss should have been the final straw.

And yet, he loves the feeling. He likes the way he's cumming hard around Seokjin's cock buried deep. Seokjin thrusts into Jeongguk's orgasm, milking it. He loves the way that Seokjin's still moving, not stopping, ramming Jeongguk's ass it makes him want to scream, 'Stop, it hurts. Please.' But it's the good kind of hurt. It's the hurt that made Jeongguk clench tightly, triggering Seokjin's orgasm until he's shaking and cumming hard inside, making Jeongguk feel faux full.

They should have stopped right there.

But they didn't.

Seokjin pulls out, both of them hissing due to the slow drag. He turns Jeongguk around, hauling him from the underside of his thighs then carried him to bed. Seokjin crawls on top of him, kissing him, whispering between their lips: "No backing out. I want to hear you moan all night."

Jeongguk should have said no.

But he nodded yes.

 

Incoming messages continues to pop conversation bubbles up, coming from the same sender, gadget vibrating and screen lighting up.

11:19 PM

This is a heavy topic
Sorry
I didn't file for a TRO against him cos there's still a part of me that loves him
I never stopped

11:36 PM

Jeongguk?
U asleep?
I won't tell you to avoid him
I'm not bitter. I think I'm okay now. I'm just worried
Seokjin-hyung stopped his therapies
His family didn't want any of what happened to be disclosed to the public

11:45 PM

Please be careful
I hope you’re wise of who u let into ur life

11:46 PM

Not everyone can be trusted

The phone issues a low battery warning sign, then shuts down.