It had been Seon Woo's idea to go to the zoo.
Jin Hyeok decided to store this little realisation for later when he wanted to throttle someone. He should have known as soon as the words "us four don't spend enough time together out of work" came out of the pattiser's mouth that the best thing to do was to get as far away as soon as possible.
However, there was nowhere to hide, and so somehow he had ended up there, with three packets of cigarettes stuffed in his pocket and a familiar scowl on his face.
The entrance loomed in front of them, to Jin Hyeok, like the gates of hell. There were huge boards painted with cartoon animals, there was a man selling balloons, and there were children everywhere. Someone's baby was screaming at the top of its voice.
Jin Hyeok winced, tugged a cigarette free of its packet, and pushed it between his lips.
"There's a 'no smoking' sign over there, loser," a voice piped up. Ki Beom was trailing behind the other three, one of his cheeks filled up with cake, giving him a rather hamster-like appearence.
The cigarette slumped in the man's mouth at almost the same time his shoulders slumped in despair. "... I'm going to kill you all. Who wants to go first?"
When no one volunteered immediately, he pulled the unlit cigarette from his mouth, crushed it against Ki Beom's face, and then launched himself at Seon Woo.
But before he could reach him, strong arms gripped him round the waist from behind.
"Master, don't do anything you'll regret," came the calming voice of Soo Yeong, and Jin Hyeok crumpled.
"I never regret anything," he commented. "I'm going -" he began to announce, before realising he had been cleverly manuvered into a surging queue and through a one-way barrier.
Somewhere just inside the entrance, the group became separated. Seon Woo had taken off after Jin Hyeok, who had immediately attempted to make his escape, leaving the other two standing beside some obnoxious singing monkey statue which two children had just fed coins into. A monkey wearing boxing gloves.
"... that reminds me of you," Soo Yeong commented, for lack of anything else to say.
Ki Beom gave the monkey a look, and one fist became clenched. "Are you saying I look like a monkey?"
"Hm? Oh, no, no, I didn't mean it like that," Soo Yeong stuttered, and looked away awkwardly. It was times like this that he agreed with Jin Hyeok when he said that sometimes, he just shouldn't open his mouth.
"I know exactly what you meant," Ki Beom frowned, and his fist made contact with the other's side. Soo Yeong whimpered, and broke into a run, dropping his bag and umbrella in the process. His moment of hesitation as he leaned down to pick them up led to another punch. He leaned over and retrieved his belongings as quickly as he could, and then he broke into a run once again.
"Don't run away, you bastard. Come back and fight like a man!"
However, Soo Yeong seemed intent on getting as far away as possible. He ran, and Ki Beom took chase. Nearby kids stopped to watch the pair passing by, two grown men, running in circles round a singing monkey. The chase continued, until Soo Yeong tripped over his own foot, and crashed into a heap on the ground. Ki Beom, who had been on the verge of catching him up with him, ended up on top.
"This is the kind of situation Seon Woo would get himself into," Soo Yeong spoke, glancing round at the one now spread across his back, and his response was a hard slap around the head.
"You wish," Ki Beom scowled, and gave him another slap for luck.
"Je viendrai vous rendre visite en France prochainement, je vous promets ... Oui, bien sûr, je suis moi-même se comporter, je passe toute la journée avec Jin Hyeok ..."
("I'll come and visit you in France soon, I promise... Yes, of course I'm behaving myself, I spend all day with Jin Hyeok...")
The one being spoken of, who was standing nearby, gazing into a cage of tigers and half considering finding some way in there so they could put him out of his misery, glanced over at the other as amongst all the French, he heard his name. His basic knowledge of the language was failing him. Seon Woo met his eyes for a moment, and was greeted with a warning scowl.
"... Ne vous inquiétez pas, ma chérie, Jin Hyeok est beaucoup trop malheureux d'être un amant."
("... don't be worried, darling, Jin Hyeok is far too miserable to be a lover.")
A giggle escaped the pattisiers mouth, and he gave Jin Hyeok another look. The other man's scowl grew more fierce.
"Nous sommes au zoo. Ce n'est pas une date, sweetie, tous les quatre d'entre nous sont ici. Nous cherchons à comprendre les tigres."
("We're at the zoo. It's not a date, sweetie, all four of us are here. We're looking at the tigers.")
Another giggle, and Seon Woo's cheeks became flushed. "Faites ce moment le bruit suivant, nous sommes dans la chambre."
("Make that noise next time we're in the bedroom.")
Jin Hyeok began to make cutting motions with his finger across his throat. It didn't matter that he couldn't fully understand what was being said. He could guess.
"Je dois partir maintenant. Je t'aime, kiss kiss, au revoir."
("I must go now. I love you, kiss kiss bye bye...")
Seon Woo moved the phone away from his ear for a moment, and then placed it back, his lips spread wide in a grin. "... Vous êtes toujours là?"
("Are you still there?")
With a frustrated roll of his eyes, Jin Hyeok grabbed the phone from the other. "Kiss kiss au revoir," he spoke, mimicking the words Seon Woo had spoken previously, although in his tone, it sounded more like a threat. And with a swift click of one of the buttons on the phone, he ended the call. He monentarily considered throwing it into the cage of tigers nearby, even went so far as aiming and swinging his arm, but decided he'd never hear the end of it if he did, and didn't let it go.
Seon Woo's lips curled into a pout as he swiped his phone back before the other got any more ideas. "You're just jealous," he muttered dejectedly. "But you know I like you better," he added, and attempted to slide his arms around his friend's waist.
"… Do you want me to throw you in there?" Jin Hyeok snapped as he skillfully moved himself away from Seon Woo's embrace.
Lunch was a treat for some, but not for others. Seon Woo had lovingly prepared a box of cake for each of them and he and Soo Yeong were happily tucking in. Ki Beom, who had eaten the whole of his box during the course of the morning, was staring longingly at the untouched box sitting on the blanket in front of Jin Hyeok, who was looking even more disgruntled than usual.
"Why did you make me cake?" he commented, for the fourth time in the space of ten minutes. He had an unlit cigarette sitting between his lips, because everyone refused to let him light it. "I -"
"... don't even like it, and did you even pay for those? Because I'm not made of money, you know, blah blah blah," Ki Beom finished his sentence for him, and then looked hopefully at Seon Woo. "If -"
"... he isn't going to eat it then can I have his? Pretty please with a cherry and... other horrible sweet things on top," Jin Hyeok retorted, copying the other's sentence finishing, complete with a bad imitation of the other's voice.
"You need to learn to savour your food," Seon Woo told the ex-boxer. "And you, eat your cake, or would you like me to feed it to you?" he asked in that seductive tone that made Jin Hyeok quiver. Without letting him answer, the pattisier reached over, took a piece of cake, and manuvered it towards the other's mouth.
Unfortunately for him, Jin Hyeok saw this coming a mile off, and swiftly grabbed the cake out of the other's hand, and pushed it into his face. "I'm going to find somewhere quiet and secluded so I can actually light this cigarette."
As he walked away, brushing crumbs from his fingers, he heard a yelp, and as he looked back, he witnessed Seon Woo spread out on his back across the blanket, and Ki Beom leaning over him and frantically licking cake from his face.
"This is how it all starts," he muttered to himself, and decided it was best to leave them to it.
Jin Hyeok eventually gave up his quest for a quiet place to smoke when he realised that not only was the entire place filled with 'no smoking' signs, there were staff everywhere who were happy to remind him of the rules. He flopped down on a wall, and took his annoyance out by squashing his un-lit cigarette against the bricks beside him.
It was only when he heard a sound behind him that he realised the wall he was sitting on was holding something again. When he turned his head, he saw two brown eyes peering back. Two brown eyes belonging to a meerkat.
"What are you looking at?" he frowned at the creature, and the sound the meerkat made in response made his forehead crease even more. "That's it, laugh. Laugh at poor unfortunate Jin Hyeok here in this awful place where you get warning looks if you so much as take a lighter out of your pocket."
The meerkat tilted its head to one side.
"Well yeah, I figured you wouldn't understand." He let out a sigh, and then glanced at the creature again. "Okay... I had this idea. Open a cake shop. It seemed like a good idea at the time. You're a guy, right? .... right? Well, assuming you are... women come to cake shops. Imagine, I don't know, opening a really good bug shop. And they get really excited when they eat cake, or bugs. But I ended up with a pattisier who is scared of women, a greedy idiot who spends more time eating cake than making it, and a guy who is determined to break every plate in the place. Added to that, I repell women, and my mother insists on calling me every five minutes to check on me... My life sucks."
A glance back at the meerkat told him he had been completely ignored. The creature was sniffing at someone nearby on the ground. "Yeah, what do you care anyway. Thanks a lot, buddy."
He pulled another cigarette free of one of his packets. He could have sworn the meerkat gave him a warning look.
Seon Woo approached Soo Yeong in a darkened room housing the zoo's bat population. Ki Beom had decided that bats were too boring, and had left to find something more interesting to look at, or more likely, something interesting to eat.
In the darkness, Soo Yeong had removed his now slightly cracked sunglasses, and was peering through the glass at the sleeping creatures inside. A hand was placed on his cheek from behind. He glanced round.
Seon Woo smiled warmly. "You should hang around in the dark more often. You look cute," he told him.
"T-thank you," Soo Yeong replied nervously. He got the feeling he'd been in this position before. He looked down, away from the other's gaze. The hand moved to his chin, and Seon Woo met his eyes again. Then, he leaned in for a kiss. His hand slid up to the bodyguard's face, and he pressed his lips against his. Soo Yeong's head moved back against the glass.
The kiss lasted longer than it should, Soo Yeong thought, alhough he certainly wasn't complaining. He knew in the back of his mind that this was wrong, that Seon Woo had a boyfriend in France who would probably hit him if he knew about this, but a large part of his mind was recalling what he had once been told: guys like Seon Woo were meant to be shared.
When the kiss was finally over, Soo Yeong let out a mumbled apology. The response was another quick peck on the lips.
"You apologise too much," was Seon Woo's reply, and he fiddled with a strand of the other's hair. His gaze moved to the door marked 'private' to their left and he made sure the other saw. "Besides, I was the one who kissed you," he added, and Soo Yeong leaned forwards and decided he was going to kiss first this time. Seon Woo's right hand remained on his cheek, while his left pushed open the door beside them. Before Soo Yeong knew what was happening, he was being led inside.
Ki Beom finally found Seon Woo and Soo Yeong in Pets Corner. He had headed there in the hope of finding something to eat, and was now carrying around a large and now slightly melted creation consisting of chocolate icecream in a huge cone. The other pair had come across a pen of rabbits, and Seon Woo had found one that he thought looked like Jin Hyeok.
As soon as Ki Beom saw the two, without any hesitation at all, he said, "You two have had sex." He licked at his icecream, his expression blank and calm as usual. These kinds of things happened recently, it was nothing unusual.
"Us? No, of course not," Soo Yeong replied. His cheeks became a little flushed. He was glad to be wearing his sunglasses, his eyes would have told all.
Seon Woo just smiled and slid his arms around Soo Yeong's waist. "How did you know?"
"Soo Yeong's shirt is back to front," he replied, beckoning to the other with his icecream. Soo Yeong realised the back of his collar was digging into his chin. "You know, you should put that right before Jin Hyeok sees you or you'll be in big trouble."
"Who is going to be in trouble?" came a rough voice from behind the group, and Soo Yeong's heart sank.
The four were escorted out of the park by a huge, serious looking but now slightly ruffled security guard.
Soo Yeong had a suspicious red mark on one of his cheeks, that seemed to be in the shape of a hand, and a solumn expression on his face. He was now topless, and was carrying his shirt and jacket under one arm.
"Well you can't say we didn't warn you a thousand or so times. 'He eats guys like you for breakfast,' we said. But you didn't listen and now you got slapped," Ki Beom told him, sounding like a disappointed parent lecturing a son. He had no sympathy; he didn't get what the big deal with Seon Woo was anyway. Ki Beom himself was now carrying an empty icecream cone, and his face was covered in a melted chocolatty mess. He couldn't quite recall how it had happened, but he supposed the scuffle with the security guard probably hadn't helped.
Seon Woo was trailing slightly behind the pair and to one side, and kept stealing glances at Soo Yeong's chest, recalling fond memories. Resting between his shoulder and his ear, was his cellphone.
"Nous avons été jetés hors du zoo."
("We've been kicked out of the zoo.")
"Moi? Oh, non, non, Jin Hyeok entré dans un combat avec Soo Yeong," he responded to his lover's doubt with a soothing and reassuring tone.
("Me? Oh, no, no, Jin Hyeok got into a fight with Soo Yeong.")
Jin Hyeok stormed ahead of the group, three lit cigarettes hanging between his lips. A smoky haze surrounded him, and he looked the most relaxed he had been all day. He had decided that speaking to the other three was just too much trouble, and didn't feel like associating with them right now. He could vaguely hear his name again amongst some French, but he no longer cared.
Later that evening, the group sat around in the attic. Jin Hyeok was drinking from a bottle of random alcohol he had found in the kitchen. He needed it after the day he'd had.
"You know, I poured my heart out to a meerkat today. This is what my life has come to," he sighed, swirling the liquid in the bottom of the bottle.
"You could have poured your heart out to us," Seon Woo pouted.
"And told you that I'm surrounded by idiots? I can't believe you got us kicked out of a zoo. I'll never live this down."
"I can't believe they actually banned us from the zoo," Seon Woo frowned. He had been hoping to take Jean-Baptiste there next time he visited. "What did I do wrong?"
"You had sex in the middle of the bat enclosure! I bet the poor bats are traumatised," Ki Beom spoke through a mouthful of cake.
"I think maybe us four need to spend less time together outside of work," Seon Woo decided, and Jin Hyeok breathed a sigh of relief. He would remind Seon Woo he had said that the next time he had any supposedly brilliant ideas.