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mea maxima culpa

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He looks at the two from afar, who both are smiling and happy.

But his eyes are staring at only one person.

And here he is, hurting because he is not the reason why that man is happy and angry at himself for being stupid, for allowing someone to manipulate and control him so easily.

All he wants now is for that someone, for the person he loves, to look at him the same way as before.

----

They have known each other since they were kids because of their families being friends. His grandfather owns the company, the founding Chairman, and Chanyeol’s, Yixing’s, and Junmyeon’s parents are trusted by his father. Thus, he grew up having Chanyeol, Yixing, and Junmyeon as his friends since he was a kid.

Yixing and Junmyeon are two years older than him while Chanyeol is a year older. Despite their age difference, they are very close to each other. They agreed to reach their dreams together and eventually work in the company of his grandfather who welcomed them with open arms. As for him, it is already expected that he will have a position in the company being the heir to it. But thankfully, his grandfather and father did not pressure him unlike other children of big companies. They allowed him to enjoy his life by only asking one thing from him: to do well in school and to not do anything stupid that will ruin all the years that both his grandfather and father have spent building the company from nothing.

Junmyeon, among the three, holds the highest position because the man’s father is a long-time friend of his own father, way before his father’s empire became successful. Aside from that, Junmyeon’s father is the right hand of Chairman Oh, his grandfather, holding the position of Company's President that Junmyeon immediately assumed after his father’s retirement. It could also not be denied that aside from the fact that Junmyeon is trusted and really excellent at his work, the Chairman himself is fond of Junmyeon.

He is now the CEO of their family company after his father decides to let go of the CEO position in favor of him. His father is now busy with their other business but still is part of the Board of Directors as he is the son of the company founder. His three friends work under him. Aside from Junmyeon being the President, Yixing is the Vice President for Finance and Chanyeol is the Vice President of Human Resources, a position the man wanted being a graduate of Psychology. Both are also Directors of the Board, granted by his grandfather.

He is already in his office by 7:30 am, way before most of the employees arrive in the company building. He dislikes the rush hour and even if he has the privilege and luxury of time somehow to come in late as he is the CEO, he hates also being late for work.

A knock on the door comes and he raises his head as it opens, revealing a smiling Junmyeon. “Good morning.” the man greets. He smiles at the man, setting his pen down. “Is there anything I can do for you? It is not every day that the company’s President visits me early in the morning.”

Junmyeon looks over to the wall clock, frowning. “9 am is not that early anymore, Sehun.”

“Well, I quite agree with that.” He says, smiling. “So, is there anything you want?”

“Do you want some bagels?” Junmyeon asks. “I bought several and thought of you not eating something for breakfast.”

He smiles. This is why he likes and loves Junmyeon. The man is very caring and attentive. “Well, if a paper is that edible, I have been spending mornings eating only that.”

Junmyeon chuckles and shows something from behind his back: a paper bag from a nearby bread and pastry shop that he knows Junmyeon frequents for what they sell and the hot chocolate.

“Here.” The man says, handing over the paper bag. He opens it and there are two bagels. “Thanks,” he told the man. “Seeing this made me hungry.”

“Sometimes I think you are not eating breakfast on purpose.”

He chuckles. It is a half-truth. “Well, you could say that.”

Junmyeon shakes his head, amused.

He took out a bagel and began to eat it. Halfway through, he looks at Junmyeon. “No hot chocolate.”

“Find one for yourself,” Junmyeon tells him and he chuckles. He then used his intercom, telling his secretary to get him a cup of hot chocolate.

The door opens not long after and instead of his secretary, it is Yixing who appears.

“Is there a meeting I do not know about?” the man asks, eyeing him and Junmyeon, back and forth. “It is sort of rare for the CEO and the President to be in one room.”

Junmyeon’s office is one floor below his. “There is none,” He answers. “Junmyeon just gave me bagels. He saved me from eating these papers on my table as breakfast.”

“Oh,” Yixing mutters and goes to him, taking the paper bag and smelling the bagel inside it. “Smells fresh.” the man says and takes it out, taking a bite immediately.

“Hey!” he protested. “That’s my bagel! I was saving it until my hot chocolate arrived!”

Yixing looks at him. “Ooops, sorry.” the man tells him and goes on to take another bite then laughs. He could only sigh in disbelief. Yixing, among the four of them, is the brat. Thankfully, not to the point that it could not be tolerated by any of them.

“I will buy it for you next time, Yixing,” Junmyeon says. “I did not know that you love bagels.”

"Oh, I eat everything," Yixing says.

Junmyeon smiles. "I need to get going. I have a lot of work to do. See you later." and the man walks out of his office, leaving him and Yixing alone.

"So, what brings you here?" He asks Yixing. "It is also sort of rare to see the CEO and the Vice President of Finance in one room. Usually, there are financial matters to be discussed when we are seen together."

"Nothing. Just checking out."

"You do not do 'checking out." He said, making his point. "Something is telling me that there is something you want to talk about."

He is staring at the man and Yixing sighs, giving up. "Well, it is about Junmyeon."

He raises a brow. "Is there a problem with Junmyeon?"

"Well, he would be a problem if you are just being too...friendly with him at work. I mean, we are at work, we are friends but we are professionals here so friends or not, we should not act that we have the privilege, especially if you are close with the business owner."

He frowns, confused. "What exactly are you trying to say, Yixing?" He asks, and leans back on his chair, folding his arms. "You are not making any sense to me."

"I heard some talk about Junmyeon." Yixing began to explain. "He has been using your name to manipulate the company employees and taking advantage of the fact that he is the President of this company."

He snorts. "That doesn't sound like Junmyeon." He says. "I know him and he is never like that."

"People change, Sehun," Yixing says. "Especially if you are holding a high position. It makes your head go big.”

“Well, it is not how I know him.” He says. “Maybe he scolded some employees for doing something wrong and he scolded them or reprimanded him, as he should.”

Yixing shrugs. “I do not know about you, Sehun. But I myself have noticed how Junmyeon changed, slowly but in a worse way.” the man tells him. “So, if I were you, I would be careful and keep an eye open at night.”

“Maybe you are just imagining things.” He tells Yixing.

The man shot him a look but said nothing else. As the man left, came in his most awaited hot chocolate brought in by his secretary.

He pondered what Yixing said but however he thinks of it, he finds it ridiculous.

----

Another day has ended and he left the company building at around six, drained and famished. He had a back-to-back meeting in the afternoon and all the food he ate during lunch was already burned while listening to presentations that were either terrible or mediocre.

He loosened his tie as he made his way to the parking lot. He immediately spots a very familiar hair that he would not mistake for someone else’s.

Smiling, he approached Junmyeon carefully, trying his best to take soft footsteps to make his presence not known to the man. Junmyeon’s back is facing him and the man is currently busy talking to someone. From what he heard, the man is talking to his father.

“I will eat dinner, I promise. Stop worrying father.” Junmyeon says. He just stood behind the man, with an intention to scare Junmyeon out of his wits. “It has been a long day. You know it is the end of the month…”

He decides to do what he planned. He shouted. “Boo!” as he appears right in front of Junmyeon all of a sudden. He saw how the man jumped and screamed that he could not help but burst out into laughter.

Junmyeon finally realizes that it is just him and glares at him. “Oh Sehun!” the man shouts his name, giving him a punch on his arm. “You little rascal! You could have killed me!”

He is still laughing. “You should have seen the look on your face!” he tells the man who is still glaring at him. “I should have taken a video.”

“You and your pranks are getting older but still work deadly,” Junmyeon says. He smirked knowing that the man is always his victim for pranks. Yixing and Chanyeol are too used to him scaring the hell out of them that even when he says he is hungry, both would not believe him.

Junmyeon now has his phone back in his ear. “I am fine, father,” Junmyeon says and looks at him, still glaring. “It is just Sehun as usual, with his antics.”

“Hi, Uncle.” he greets.

“My father said hello,” Junmyeon tells him. “Alright, I will see you on the weekend. Bye.” and ends the call.

“You finished late.” He says. “Unusual.”

“And when it is unusual, it means I am busy reading reports before they get to you,” Junmyeon says. “I have learned my lesson well.”

He chuckles. “Are you still holding a grudge against me?” He asks, smirking. He scolded Junmyeon the other day because of one report from the Finance Department, which is under Yixing’s supervision. Junmyeon overlooked something with the numbers that were there on the report. “I know Yixing also has a fault for not checking it before he submitted it to you but then-”

The man cut him off before he could finish. “Enough because I am not holding a grudge against you. In fact, I do not take it against you. I just cannot forget.” Junmyeon says.

“Sentimental.” He says and chuckles. He is really fond of Junmyeon and he is very comfortable around the man. It is why he has been crushing on Junmyeon since they were kids. However, he is afraid to confess because for sure, Junmyeon never sees him as more than a friend. He will not be able to take in what the man’s reaction will be if he tells Junmyeon that he has feelings for him.

“You are late too,” Junmyeon says. “How were the meetings?”

“Horrible.” He says honestly. “Maybe one of these days I will ask you to attend meetings for me.”

Junmyeon scoffs. “I think I will pass.” the man says, shaking his head a little. “I would rather read reports than attend your high-profile meetings.”

He laughs. “They are not high profile. The meetings are just death that is waiting to happen,” he says, which made Junmyeon laugh. He could not help but stare at the man because he really likes it when Junmyeon is smiling and happy. He would trade anything in this world just to see the man smile. “Anyway, why don’t we grab dinner together?”

“I won’t say no to that,” Junmyeon says. “And of course, you are going to pay. You are the one who asked and the one that has a lot of money.”

“You are so sly,” he says, hand-messing Junmyeon’s brown-colored smooth hair. “Let’s go. I will take you home after so leave your car here.”

“And what will I use tomorrow?” Junmyeon asks. “Commuting is not my thing, you know that.”

He puts an arm over Junmyeon’s shoulder. “Then I shall be your chariot tomorrow, how does that sound, your highness?”

Junmyeon chuckles.

----

“I saw you two last night,” Chanyeol tells him. “And this morning. Have you been together since last night?”

He chuckles. Chanyeol knows his crush about Junmyeon and is really good at keeping it a secret, especially since they move into the same circle of friends.

“No.” He answers. “We just had dinner and I drove him home. Since he left his car, I picked him up from his apartment this morning.”

Chanyeol chuckles. “Why did I find your answer sounding rather defensive?”

“I am in no way being defensive.” He defends himself.

Chanyeol shows him an expression like he is constipated, but is actually wanting to say something witty.

Before the man can spit out witty remarks, he lightly pushes his friend. “Go to work.”

Chanyeol chuckles. “Ohh, the CEO is scolding me. That is a first.”

He chuckles. “Well, we are at work. I do not want people to think that I am being taken advantage of.”

The expression Chanyeol is wearing suddenly drops. Now, the man is frowning, a little confused. “What are you talking about? Is there anyone telling you that people are taking advantage of you?”

He realized that what he said is offensive. “I didn’t mean you.”

“Well, I know for myself that I do not take advantage of you and the fact that we are friends so, I am not offended,” Chanyeol says, looking like he is not going to drop the topic anytime soon. “But where did that idea come from, Sehun? You do not think like this, ever.”

He is not sure if he should tell the man but Chanyeol is a very good friend of his, like an older brother, his best friend. It would be unfair if he is not going to tell the man. Besides that, Chanyeol is their best friend as well as Junmyeon.

“Yixing.” He answers.

“He took advantage of you or he told you that someone is taking advantage of you?”

“The latter.”

“Who?” Chanyeol asks, frowning. “Because I am certain no one is doing that. At least none of the four of us.”

He huffs, becoming unsure if he should tell Chanyeol after all. “It’s Junmyeon.”

“What?!” Chanyeol almost screams. “That is ridiculous.”

“It’s what Yixing told me.” He says. “I told him maybe Junmyeon was misunderstood. Maybe he scolded some employee for something wrong. But he says people change and-``''

“Really?” The man asks, interrupting him. “Do not tell me that you believe him.”

He could not find an answer to the man’s question but deep down, he is doubting both Yixing and Junmyeon. Yixing because what the man said was terribly ridiculous and Junmyeon because anything can happen, who knows. But he is giving the benefit of the doubt.

“Trust me Sehun,” Chanyeol says. “The last person you should think who will betray you is Junmyeon. I hate to use this comparison but Junmyeon is as loyal as a puppy.”

He knows Chanyeol has a clear point because he thought of the same. The years they have been friends, he knows Junmyeon better than anyone else; when he is sad, upset, happy, angry, and hurt. Though, he rarely sees the said man angry and hurt since Junmyeon is such a happy and lively person, to begin with. You would think he never gets angry or upset with anyone.

“And Sehun, for damn’s sake, you know him better than anyone else, better than I do,” Chanyeol says, finally voicing out the thoughts that he was just thinking a while back. “In the first place, you have been crushing on him because of what kind of a person Junmyeon is. Such nonsense talk from Yixing should not make your thoughts on Junmyeon change that easily.”

The things Chanyeol said made him feel suddenly guilty for ever doubting Junmyeon.

“I did not see it coming that you will be the first to doubt Junmyeon because all this time I thought you will be the first to defend him when bad things are being said about him,” Chanyeol says, shaking his head. “You are the last person that I could think of to ever doubt Junmyeon - not because you like him but because you know what kind of person he is.”

He fell silent. Chanyeol is right.

“I am sorry.” He just says.

“Tell Junmyeon that,” Chanyeol tells him. “Not to me. If Junmyeon heard all the nonsense you have said, he will not be just upset.” He did not say anything further. There is no use. Chanyeol also looked upset. “I will pretend that this conversation did not happen,” Chanyeol says, sounding exasperated. “I need to go.”

He simply watched Chanyeol leave for his department’s office.

--

“Knock knock.” He heard someone say. He raises his head to find Chanyeol standing by the door. He smiles at the man. “What brings you here?” he asks.

Chanyeol steps inside his office. “To submit our department’s reports because I hate to experience firsthand your wrath.” the man answers, making him chuckle. “And to check also how you are doing.”

He shakes his head. “I am not sick.” he says, setting his pen down, “But thank you, I appreciate the care, especially that I have a new set of reports to read through, courtesy of you.”

Chanyeol sets the folders, chuckling. “At least it keeps you busy.”

“I am already busy as it is,” he says. “So, why are you really here? Something is telling me that you are not here just to submit reports or to see how I am doing.”

“I swear, there is no other reason,” Chanyeol says and he raises his brow at the man. “ I promise!”

He chuckles.

“But really, you look good today?”

He looks at himself, checking his clothes. “Just neat.”

“I do not mean your clothes,” Chanyeol says. “You look good. Did you wake up on the right side of the bed?”

“I had a good night's sleep, that is all,” he says. “A good night's sleep results in a good morning or better yet, the good whole day.”

“Really? Are you sure?” Chanyeol asks, giving him a look.

He could not help but smile as he recalled what happened last night.

“Oh, you’re smiling,” Chanyeol says. “Something really good must have happened last night.”

“Whatever, Chanyeol.” He tells the man as he rises from his seat.

“You are leaving?” Chanyeol asks him and he nods. “Where?”

“I cannot tell but it is for the company.” He answers. “Think of it as a secret mission.”

“Really?”

He nods. “Now go.”

Chanyeol chuckles. “Whatever you say, Junmyeon.” the man tells him and drops a wink, then turns around to leave. He could only shake his head, chuckling.

---

He walks into the company building, with many employees greeting him as he passes by. He acknowledges their greeting with a small nod and a smile.

“Junmyeon!” Someone calls him and he turns to find it's Yixing. The man jogged to him. “Just arrived?”

“Not really. I arrived earlier at eight but I went back down to buy some bagels.” He answers.

“Well you should have ordered or asked your secretary to do that for you,” Yixing says. “That is one of their tasks, you know. That is why they are called secretaries.”

“I think you have a wrong perception of what a secretary should be.” He says. “And besides, I like to keep my personal and professional errands separate. Also, the bakeshop is just across the street and I badly need exercise. My ass is getting stiff these days. Signs of aging? Probably.”

Yixing chuckles. “Can I have one?” his friend asks and he nods at the man’s question. “Sure, just leave some for me and Sehun. Chanyeol does not eat bagels, so don’t bother leaving a piece.”

He lets Yixing take one from the paper bag. “Thanks.” his friends tell him. They proceed to the elevator, where other employees are waiting for the lift to ascend on the ground floor. As usual, they were greeted.

“By the way, are you free tonight?” Yixing asks.

“Yeah,” he answers. “Why?”

“Should we have dinner?” Yixing asks. “You know, just the two of us and having dinner.”

“Oh, Uhm, I can’t. Sorry.” He tells his friend. “I may be free tonight but I promised myself I should clean up my apartment already. Anyone visiting would think it is a pigsty.”

“Then I will help you then let us just cook at your house,” Yixing suggests.

“No need to.” He tells the man. “I am fine doing the cleaning all alone. Let’s just have dinner next time, maybe with Chanyeol and Sehun. It has been a while since the four of us had a meal together.”

“Well, next time. Let us have a meal together, you know, just the two of us.” Yixing insists.

He is trapped in a situation where one’s insistence is overwhelming that anyone would end up saying yes if they were in his shoes. He was about to give an answer when a familiar voice spoke. “Just the two of you? We are hurt.”

He and Yixing turn around to find that Chanyeol and Sehun are behind them. He smiles at Sehun and the man smiles back at him.

“There is no way we are going to allow just the two of you to go on a meal together,” Chanyeol says. “Aren’t we your friends also?”

He chuckles. “I told Yixing that the four of us should have a meal together.”

“You little selfish brat,” Chanyeol tells Yixing.

“I am older than you.” Yixing tells Chanyeol. “And do not forget we are still working and in the company. Save the profanities for later. Be thankful I am also a Vice-President. How I wish I am the President so you would bow down to me.” Yixing says and looks at him. “No offense, Junmyeon.

He and Sehun chuckle as the two of them listen to Yixing and Chanyeol’s banter. Sehun looks at him and he does the same. “Tonight?”

He nods. “You are fine with cleaning up, right?” he asks and Sehun chuckles. “In the first place, I am the one who suggested that it is time for your apartment to be cleaned.” the man tells him.

“What ‘tonight’ and ‘apartment’ you two are talking about?” Yixing asks.

Chanyeol is the one who answers. “Sehun volunteered to be the cleaner of Junmyeon’s pigsty apartment.”

“I thought you were fine to clean up all alone,” Yixing says with a frown.

“Well-” He began but Chanyeol put an arm around Yixing’s shoulder. “Let them be, Yixing. You are no expert in cleaning. They are better off doing it together.”

Before Yixing could say something, the lift opened. Sehun went in first and he followed. Yixing and Chanyeol came in last after some employees went in to be lifted above to their floors.

He and Sehun are sandwiched between the employees in front of them and the wall is made of steel that is cold to the skin. He and Sehun are almost leaning on it.
“Are you alright?” Sehun asks him. He just nods. The elevator stops on the fifth floor, jerking. Suddenly, he felt an arm around him, balancing him. He looks up to Sehun who is looking back at him. Everything around him suddenly did not exist as he just stared at the man. “Are you sure you are alright?” Sehun asks once more.

He nods again. Sehun smiles and finally takes away his arm that is wrapped around him.

The lift moves up again and this time, Yixing and Chanyeol alighted the lift, with the latter stretching a hand upward and doing a wave. The few employees left with them chuckled. Chanyeol’s wave is meant for him and Sehun.

The lift finally stops on his floor. “I’ll see you later,” Sehun says and he nods at the man, smiling. He then follows out the employees that have alighted the elevator.

----

“You know I cannot cook to save my life.” He says as he enters Junmyeon’s apartment, bringing in paper bags with him. Junmyeon chuckles. “You bought too much and there’s only the two of us,” Junmyeon says.

Junmyeon helps him in carrying the bags inside his apartment, setting them on the kitchen counter. Junmyeon spoke. “I have started to clean up but it will take me days before I can finish totally. So thanks for coming and saving my life.”

“You are very much welcome.” He tells the man with a smile. “We should eat first so we will have the energy to clean everything up.”

Junmyeon nods in agreement. They set the table and ate the Chinese food that he brought. The food is their usual when they eat together. Junmyeon loves Chinese food so much that when he and the man went to Shanghai, he made sure to visit a new restaurant for every meal so Junmyeon could taste the variety of the Chinese cuisine available.

“So,” He began. He looks at the man. “How’s work?”

“Good,” Junmyeon answered. “But there will always be setbacks and hard-headed employees but I can deal with them pretty well. It is all about professionalism when I scold them, nothing personal. And you know how I scold someone. No one could ever tell that I am already angry and my patience has been tested already.”

He remembered what Yixing told him about Junmyeon scolding employees and using him as he does so. He also remembered what Chanyeol told him, reminding him that Junmyeon is the type to hold his anger back and would rather stay calm. Junmyeon, in short, never gets angry. If the man ever does, it is more like once in a blue moon. But, he still would not appear angry.

He remembers that one and only time he did not show up when he promised Junmyeon that they would have lunch together. He forgot as he was enjoying too much that day while playing golf.

When he remembered his promise to Junmyeon, it was already too late and Seoul is an hour away from Incheon. He knows that Junmyeon hates it when a promise is broken but still tries to reach the restaurant as soon as he can, almost overspeeding on the main highway. Junmyeon is not even answering his calls and texts. When he arrives at the restaurant, Junmyeon is already leaving. He expected the man to lash out at him and he would not mind if Junmyeon would do it right in front of everyone but instead, Junmyeon scolded him in a very calm manner but it was obvious that Junmyeon is just holding himself back.

Since then, never once has he broken a promise to Junmyeon. His father would even joke that the only competition their company ever has is Junmyeon because his attention is all over the said man.

“That is good to hear.” He tells Junmyeon. “If there is anything bothering you, you could always tell me.”

Junmyeon chuckles. “You know I am not a little kid.” the man tells him. “I can manage things fine. I do not want to depend on you or take advantage of the fact that we are friends. I do not want people to think negatively of me.”

He smiles as he begins to doubt in his head the things that Yixing told him.

After they ate, they cleaned up his apartment. This is not the first time it happened though and it always ends with a blast.

They finished a little after midnight.

“You should stay for the night,” Junmyeon tells him. “You are tired and it is also late, even if I know you are capable of driving yourself home at this time of the night.”

He chuckles. “I do not know what exactly your point is,” he says. “If you want me to stay here for the night or if you want me to go home.”

“What do you think?” Junmyeon teases.

He stretches his back. “I am going to stay for the night. My back hurts and I am already too tired and sleepy. You do not want me to get into an accident, don’t you?”

Junmyeon smiles. “Alright then.”

“Now, help me get the mattress and the pillows from the cabinet, will you?”

“You do not need a mattress. You can sleep on the sofa, you know.” He says. “Just as usual.”

He shakes his head with a little frown. “Well, the only ‘just as usual’ thing that I know is us sleeping in the living room, on a mattress.”

“We were kids back then,” Junmyeon says.

“I am feeling like I am a kid at this very moment.” He says. “So, hurry up before I change my mind.”

“I think I should consider waiting for a while, until your mind changes,” Junmyeon says but leaves anyway. He follows the man into his room, a private area he is welcome to go inside. Junmyeon is already by the cabinet, now opened, pulling out the pillows and comforters stashed away there while he takes them with his hands.

While he waited, he watched Junmyeon reach for the mattress that was on top of the cabinet. The man struggles, even trying to stand on his toes to reach it. The cabinet is too high for him.

“You know you could always ask for my help,” he tells the man.

“I can manage,” Junmyeon says with pride.

He just shrugs, letting the man do what he wants. He could really help but he is having fun watching Junmyeon doing his best to reach the top of the cabinet where the mattress is. He finds it cute.

“Okay,” Junmyeon says and climbs onto the cabinet.

“Careful,” he tells the man as the cabinet has gone lighter since it is now half-empty of things and lighter than earlier. “The cabinet might fall over you.”

Junmyeon only nods, instead of saying a reply. As the man moved up, the cabinet moved. Then finally, Junmyeon gets the mattress.

The cabinet moved once again but this time, it moved forward.

He quickly lets go of what he is holding and moves to push back the cabinet before it falls on Junmyeon. He successfully blocks it, caging Junmyeon between him and the cabinet.

They are eye to eye now.

The moment lasted for a while. His heart is beating like crazy.
Realizing the position they are in, he quickly moves away, but making sure first it won’t fall forward anymore.

“Next time, you ask, okay?” He tells Junmyeon but is unable to look at the man.

Junmyeon chuckles. “Thanks, Sehun.” the man tells him. “But I waited for you to help me, you know?”

He laughs, now looking at the man, their eyes meeting once again. “Sorry, I thought you said you can manage.”

“Well,” Junmyeon says, looking a little embarrassed. He shakes his head and picks up the pillows that are scattered on the floor. “Come on,” he tells the man and he lets the man go ahead since Junmyeon is the one carrying the mattress they will use.

They laid out everything on the floor of his apartment’s living floor. When everything was set, they took their turn to shower. Junmyeon went first and him next. By the time he returns, Junmyeon is already lying down on his side, using his phone.

The man did not notice him and because he loves to surprise Junmyeon and scare the hell out of him, he jumps on the mattress, startling the man.

“Sehun!” Junmyeon screams when the man realizes that it is just him. He could not help but laugh so hard, rolling on the mattress back and forth.

“You never change.” He told Junmyeon after he calmed down a little.

“Of course I do not,” Junmyeon tells him. “But you have to thank me and my patience or else I already have whacked you on the head with my phone.”

He chuckles. “You just love me.” He says out of nowhere.

Junmyeon suddenly went silent and stared at him, an unexplainable expression painted on his face. He felt somehow scared. Oh shit, he cursed in his head. What the hell did you just say, Sehun?

He could not help but clear his throat, as the nervousness began to rise up in his throat. “We should go to sleep,” he says.

“Yeah,” Junmyeon says with a nod. “I think we should.”

He could not help but sense that what he had said caused a sudden awkwardness. Stupid, he thought.

“Good night, Sehun.” He heard Junmyeon say. He did not look at the man but responded anyway with a good night.

And he barely got any sleep.

----

“Okay, why can’t you just confess?” Chanyeol tells him.

He and Chanyeol saw each other the next day, a Saturday. He is in the office and so is Chanyeol as they both need to sign some documents. They then went to have lunch together. Chanyeol noticed the dark circles under his eyes and asked him what happened - then the rest is history.

He watches as Chanyeol sips half of the content of his glass of ice tea, almost slamming the glass back on the table, but not enough to break it.

“I really do not know why you can’t confess to Junmyeon when it is obvious to everyone that you are fucking in love with him.” Chanyeol points out.

“Chanyeol, it is easier said than done.”

“It has been years, Sehun. For Pete's sake, get married already!”

He could not help but laugh at Chanyeol. He could sense the man’s frustration. He thought of what Chanyeol said and knows that his best friend is right. It has been years and it would have been easier to confess - but maybe also not at all.

“I want to confess to him but I have no idea how he will react.” He says, slightly shaking his head. “Chanyeol, Junmyeon only sees me as a friend, a brother he never had and that is just it. This is all just one-sided.”

Chanyeol looked more frustrated than he was. “How sure are you? Have you ever considered asking? Asking is a bitter thing to do but sometimes it is the better thing to do.”

“I do not get what you are saying.”

“I am just spitting words at random because I have never, in my entire life, been this frustrated,” Chanyeol says and finishes his glass of iced tea. A waiter then came over to refill it. Chanyeol then takes a deep sigh. “Sehun, do me a favor and just confess.”

“Chanyeol-” he began but someone interrupted them.

“Who is going to confess?”

They both turn to find that it is just Yixing.

“Why are you here?” Chanyeol asks. He wondered why, of all the questions, it is what his best friend asked Yixing. It sounded...a little hostile to his ears. He just ignores it a little after, thinking that Chanyeol is annoyed for having their conversation is interrupted when they are in the middle of discussing something that is a matter of life and death.

Yixing takes a seat right next to him. “Why not? I am hungry and this restaurant is not yours, to begin with.” the man answers. “But, who is going to confess? I know I heard the word confession.”

He looks at Chanyeol, who shook his head once. He was about to open his mouth but Chanyeol beat him right to it. “It’s none of your business really,” Chanyeol says. “And since when did you become interested in other people’s love life?”

Yixing chuckles. “Not with other people but with my friends, yes.” the man answers. “And the last time I checked, we are friends, not ‘other people. Stop being hostile over having to discuss love life, Chanyeol.”

“It is my love life at stake,” Chanyeol says, making him surprised that his friend lied to Yixing. “Remember that time when I had a crush on someone back in college? The music major?”

“Kyungsoo?” He asks. He remembers the person that Chanyeol is talking about. He knows how crazy Chanyeol is over that guy because it is his best friend’s, first love.

“And do you remember what you did that made Kyungsoo be creeped out of me?” Chanyeol asks, looking at Yixing who chuckles. “Come on. That was years ago, Chanyeol. I just told him that you took photos of him during events. I was trying to make him know you. I mean well.” the man says. “And I thought you had forgiven me already for that.”

“For the record, Yixing.” Chanyeol began, “I was part of the Photography Club and a photographer for the school magazine. I was being professional at that time and there were only photos of him because he is in a band and they always play in every event the school could think of to celebrate. You made it sound to him like I am creepy for basically doing my job as a photographer for the school magazine.”

He recalls that. He was in his first year in the university while Chanyeol was in his second year. Both Yixing and Junmyeon were seniors at that time.

“My reputation was ruined and I had to say sorry for doing something I really did not do. Most of all, I was forced to quit being in the photography club and from helping out the school magazine in getting more photos.” Chanyeol says, a little dramatically "That was a hobby I cannot go back to doing. The memories are too haunting for my peace of mind."

“You sure do hold grudges,” Yixing says, chuckling.

"Oh, you have no idea," Chanyeol says and he could sense that there is some seriousness in his friend's voice and Chanyeol is not hiding it from Yixing.

Yixing just shrugs. "Well, a piece of advice for your love life, Chanyeol." the man says. "Think properly first before you confess. Also, how unlucky of whoever it is you are going to confess to."

"Did you come all the way here to eat or to annoy the hell out of me?" Chanyeol asks, a brow raised and eyes wide, obvious with anger. "I am not in the mood to deal with any of your bullshit, Yixing. I do not care if we are friends or what."

Yixing chuckles. "Take a chill pill, Chanyeol." the man says who then looks at him, smiling. "Before he goes crazy, I think I should go."

Without another word, Yixing leaves and they both watch the man do so.

"Okay, what was that for?" He could not help but ask as soon as Yixing was nowhere to be seen outside. He could tell that there is something that is making Chanyeol act like this because the guy rarely gets pissed. "Such hostility at this time of the day. Can't move on?"

"You know I already did," Chanyeol says and drinks half of the water in his glass. He lets the man finish who then continues. "Listen, I have something to tell you.

He raises a brow, curious. "What?"

"You know how a brat it is."

He nods. "We all are well aware of that fact."

Chanyeol sighs. "Don't trust him, no matter what." His friend suddenly says that he did not expect his friend to tell him that. "Why not?" He asks, which made Chanyeol shake his head, face painted with seriousness. "Just don't. Trust me, Sehun. It is for your own good."

He wondered why because this is so out of Chanyeol's character to say such a thing. Moreover, Chanyeol is telling him not to trust Yixing, who has been their friend for a long time.

"Is that advice?" He asks. "Or a reminder?"

"Neither," Chanyeol says. "It is a warning."

____

Yixing loosens the tie he is wearing before he arrives on the floor where his family's apartment is.

When the lift opened, he immediately went to find the door. There are only two units on the said floor and one belongs to his parents.

Before he keys in the passcode, he takes a deep breath and smiles, a forced one which he uses and shows to his parents, especially to his father, every time he visits.

He entered the password and went in. Immediately, he sees his mother who smiled upon seeing him. "You're here!" and his mother went to give him a tight hug. "You rarely come home."

"You know how busy I am, mother." He tells her as she pulls away from him. "But I make sure to come here when you tell me so."

"Soon, you would not be able to do that once you take over."

He turns to his father who just exits from the study room. He bowed to his father. "So, how is it working?"

"Honey, I was the one who asked him to come home and I did not ask him because I want to talk about business politics." His mother told his father. "If you want to tell anything related to business, do it somewhere and not here. Do you both understand?"

He chuckles and hugs his mother once again. "I can smell jealousy here."

"Well, I rarely see you and when you come here all you will do is talk business? Ridiculous!"

He laughs and pulls away. "Alright, just dinner tonight and nothing else, I promise."

His mom smiles wide, looking back and forth from him to his father. "Alright, settle now you two," she told them and they followed her into the dining area. They had dinner together and just as he promised, they did not talk about anything that is business-related and only spoke about him finding someone, settling, getting married, and having kids. Of course, he has one person in mind but he could not tell them yet that it is Junmyeon. His mother will be thrilled because she likes him while his dad sees Junmyeon as a piece of a chess game that is badly needed to win.

He has had a crush on Junmyeon for a long time and he is aware that he is not the only one who does so. He knows Sehun also has feelings for Junmyeon; in fact, admitted it to him and Chanyeol.

He sees Sehun as a competition. However, he cannot do anything with it because the man is the CEO of the company, and Sehun's family owns it. Trying to oust him from the said position is going to be bloody and his father told him that the last thing they would have to do is anger the Oh's, especially the Chairman. With that, they have to do something that does not involve the Oh's, Sehun in particular.

Without any choice, he has to find another target so he could get the highest position next to the CEO which is the President. Coincidentally and unfortunately, the person who is in that position is Junmyeon.

He has seen the man as a competition for a long time but he could also not help himself fall for Junmyeon. The man is an ideal person to anyone that is why it is no surprise that Sehun also fell for the man. However, this time, he has to set aside the feelings he has for Junmyeon for the sake of his family. Also, what he is doing is hitting two birds with one stone: he will get the position of President from Junmyeon by getting Sehun to trust him. With that trust comes a price and that is Sehun to betray Junmyeon.

Once Sehun betrays Junmyeon, the latter will hate the former and of course, he will be Junmyeon's knight in shining armor.

He and his father are now in the study room while his mother is already in her room, doing who knows what. Probably her skincare routine.

"How is it going?" His father asks. He is seated comfortably yet formally while his father is just leaning on his seat, relaxed. "I am doing my best." He answers his father. "It takes time as it is not easy to do-"

"So, until when should we wait?" His father asks. "Are you sure your plan will work, Yixing?"

He nods. "Yes, father."

"It better be." His father says. "Step on anyone who will stop you. You have to get that position. You deserve it in the very first place. Make sure the Oh's will trust us, especially that brat."

His father meant Sehun but funnily, Sehun is not even close to a brat.

“I already spoke to some board members so do whatever you must do.” His father says with finality.

After their short talk, he left. As soon as he got into the car, all he could do was take a deep breath, remove his tie totally and unbutton the topmost button of his shirt as he felt more suffocated just thinking about the pressure that his father put upon him.

____

He entered the main doors of the company building to find employees either busy reading something on their phones or others shooting him a look. Some greeted him but there is something in their eyes that screams they are wary of him.

He wondered what was going on. What did he do? He is sure that he did not do anything stupid or silly so far.

When he got by elevator, the employees who were waiting for the lift, also did the same to him and he could not shake the feeling that there was something going on that he was not aware of. He does not use his phone first thing in the morning and never checks it until he is to leave for the office. He did not see anything that is of his interest too when he checked his phone while he was on his way to work.

Even if he is the company's president, the strange looks that are coming from the employees and their gazes that feel heavy on him, he is starting to get conscious.

"Junmyeon!" And he turns to find Chanyeol, smiling at him. "Good morning!"

He smiles at his friend. "Good morning too, Mr. Park," he says, reiterating the use of courtesy since they are surrounded by the employees and they are still in the company building. Chanyeol chuckles. “Why so formal?”

He leans in and whispers. “We are in the company building, Chanyeol,” he tells the man. “I do not want other people to think that we are being comfortable just because CEO Oh is our friend for a very long time.”

“We cannot help it. Chairman Oh is also very fond of us.” Chanyeol says. “But what you said could be true. I bet someone out there is making up stories.” his friends added in a whisper.

The lift arrived and they both went in first, taking the side of the elevator. Other employees came in and he noticed some of them shoot him a look. It is making him confused and curious about what is actually going on.

Chanyeol was near the buttons of the elevator and pressed the close button. However, they both saw two more employees running for the elevator and since it still has space for two more, Chanyeol quickly pressed the open button.

The two employees got in and gave a bow at Chanyeol, not noticing him since his friend’s towering height hid him very well from anyone who was coming in. The doors finally closed then Chanyeol clicked some buttons as if his friend memorized the floors of the workers that were with them in the elevator.

The last two employees that got into the elevator still did not notice him as both were busy reading something on a phone. He did not mind what they were doing; he is not the kind to pry.

“I am sure that is President Kim.” One of the two women suddenly says, making him look at them, surprised with the sudden mention of his name. Chanyeol also looked at the two and with his friend’s height, he was sure Chanyeol could practically see what the two were reading.
“Of course.” The one agrees. “The description is very similar, I can imagine the President in my head while reading.”

“I am not surprised.” the other says. “It is just a matter of time he will act high and mighty and take advantage of the fact that he is close with CEO Oh. I could tell he is keeping a side of him that is-

Out of nowhere, Chanyeol’s hand appeared to grab the phone off from the two employees. One of them shouted profanity out of surprise. But when they realized that it was Chanyeol, the Vice President of Human Resources, the two shut their mouths up.

“Is this how you work? To gossip?” Chanyeol asks, sounding how he should be as the Vice President that deals with employees in the company. “The last time I checked, the company is not paying you to gossip. This is not a tabloid company. Worse, the person you spoke about is right inside this elevator. Are you all even decent in the first place?”

The two women’s eyes went wide and Chanyeol moved to reveal him to the two. The women could not look him straight into the eyes. Chanyeol then checks the phone to see what the two employees are buzzing about and sees how Chanyeol frowned. His friend then looks at him, face painted with worry and anger.

“What is it?” he asks. The look Chanyeol gave him made him remember the countless times employees looked at him as soon as he entered the company building. Something is going on and he is in the center of it.

Chanyeol looked hesitant to tell and show him what it was, even moving his hand away from him which holds the phone. However, Chanyeol seemed distracted that even with the man’s towering height, he snatched the phone from his friend and checked whatever it was that was making everyone fuss and give him a judgemental look.

He realizes that it is the company’s official online board where everyone, from the executives down to the employees, can post. Announcements are also to be found there.

As he read on one of the posts, it is about someone who is said to be ‘sitting in a high position’ and is ‘close to the CEO’ who is taking advantage of his power and is already out of the line in scolding employees. If this is him, it is impossible because he never has scolded anyone that is not in a professional manner and never he has ever used profanities to someone. He prefers to calm down first and talk it out well.

He read further, reading the last line which gives away the capital letters of the person’s name that the post pertains to.

Mr. K.J.

“Junmyeon-” He heard Chanyeol say and he looked at his friend, frowning. Before he could say something, Chanyeol spoke first. “We are not sure if this is you-”

He held out the phone. Of course, it is him. The last part of the post just confirmed to him the horrifying thought that ran in his head that the post is about him. In the company, Chanyeol, he, and Yixing are the only ones who are close to Sehun. He has no idea what to say. How can someone judge him this way? Who did he anger and who is hating this much to the point that a post like this has to be posted?

“I will talk to the people handling the online board and have this deleted,” Chanyeol tells him. The other people inside the elevator are silent and he almost forgot their existence as his thoughts ran wildly, trying to remember when did he ever do such a thing to someone in the company. He cannot even scream and say profanities to a puppy eating his shoe.

He held back his tears. It felt all of a sudden that he had been carrying out his job wrongly simply because of that post. He wonders to what extent this person’s hate for him.

When the elevator stopped and opened, even if it was not his floor yet, he decided to get off. He cannot stand being there for another second - even if Chanyeol is there.

----

He is staring at his screen for a while now, reading over and over again the post that Yixing showed him.

“See? I told you.” Yixing says. “An employee has already spoken. But I must say that I commend the courage of this employee for posting this on the online board. It must not have been an easy decision.”

He read the post again from the beginning, not entirely listening to Yixing who was still talking.

“Can Junmyeon really do this?” He asks loudly, a question that he only meant for himself to hear.

“It is not impossible,” Yixing says. “I mean, Junmyeon has been like that in college. It is just a matter of time, you know.”

He shakes his head. He cannot believe what he has read. Is it really Junmyeon? He read through the comments below the post which agrees to what the post says, saying that they were also scolded by Junmyeon, cursed at, and told to do their job properly or he will fire them on their own since he has a hold with his connection to the CEO, which is him.

“People change, Sehun,” Yixing says. “Especially in the face of success and power. People cannot help it because both of them are seductive. Junmyeon has that side of him already way before and it showed finally. He is just really looking for the perfect time to do so.”

He sets his phone on the table and takes a deep sigh. The post is surely seen already by everyone in the company, including Chairman Oh.

Yixing is also checking out his phone. “Look, there is another post.”

In a hurry, he grabs his phone and refreshes the online board. The employees who will post can also post anonymously, except the executives. This was done to allow employees to express themselves freely without the need to be known. The post about Junyeon is anonymous and no one will have any idea who it is.

He checked the new post that Yixing is talking about. Unlike the first one, this post is more like a letter, and worse, Junmyeon’s name appeared.

His head spun as he read through the letter. The writer hates Junmyeon because he acts mighty, he acts as if he is the owner of the company and is threatening employees in the name of being a close friend to the CEO.

“This is not how I know Junmyeon.” He says. What he is reading is making his head ache and frustrated at the same time. “Well, now you know, from the eyes of the employees,” Yixing says. He sat on his chair in a daze. He really finds it unbelievable.

He purses his lips as his office went silent when a knock on the door came and his secretary came in. “Mr. Oh.” the secretary greets, who he realizes to be holding a thick envelope. “Someone left this on my table while I was away for a while. It is addressed to you, sir. There is no return address.”

His secretary held out the envelope to him and said his thanks. She left right away after setting the cup of coffee on the table, the coffee he asked from her a while back. However, right now, a cup of coffee is not going to do good for him but a glass of cold water will. He needs to calm himself down.

He opens the envelope with so much curiosity. It was a large envelope but inside were actually photos. His world almost stops when he realizes who is there.

It is Junmyeon, meeting the other board members and investors in restaurants. The man is pictured while being handed a bulky white envelope which he sure is filled with cash while giving a board member a handshake and smiling so wide and other photos are of Junmyeon laughing.

He is not aware of these meetings. Is Junmyeon trying to do something behind his back? Meeting board members except for Yixing and Chanyeol and meeting investors, without him knowing?

He did not notice that Yixing was already behind him, staring at the photos he was flipping through to check. “Wow, the audacity,” Yixing says. “See, he is meeting board members and even investors! He is indeed planning on doing something behind your back Sehun. This is him taking advantage of you!”

He purses his lips. These photos are enough proof.

Yixing moves in front of his table. “A piece of advice from someone older than you Sehun and from someone who is a friend who really cares for you.” the man says. “Do not trust Junmyeon anymore. He is just going to ruin this company and he is starting that by meeting board members, who are also stakeholders in your father’s company, and who are our possible investors. If he is doing this for the company, we should have been made aware of these meetings, but no he didn’t. And see him accepting an envelope that is surely full of cash? This company is better off without him before he does more damage.”

He knows that Yixing is right. Even if Junmyeon is close to him and even with his family, he cannot let that closeness take over his ability to make a judgment. He has to be professional and most of all...set aside his feelings for the said man.

“Imagine, just in one day, two issues are revealed about Junmyeon!” Yixing says. “I won’t be surprised if there is a third one. After all, they say that the third time’s a charm.”

He knows Yixing is right. After all, the man is older than him and surely has a lot of experiences to compare with his own experiences.

Being the CEO of this company, he has to do something fast. He picks up the telephone’s receiver and calls someone who he needs to talk to - for the sake of the company.

----

He is in his office and doing his work.

After he alighted the elevator, he used the back stairs of the company building to reach the floor where his office is. Not that he does not want to talk to anyone, he does not want to be surrounded by many people while he is trying to think.

When he got to his floor, emerging from the back stairs, some employees saw him and looked away as quickly as how they looked at him after he emerged from the door.

The accusations thrown at him were exaggerated or his intentions were perceived differently from how it is supposed to be by this employee who posted. He does remember scolding some employees and he had reasons to as they were slacking off while doing work or have not submitted the reports he asked for or have not done their job properly. But even if he scolded these employees, never once did he raise his voice or curse at them. He wants to do something but he does know what to do at that moment.

And he is wondering if Sehun knew already - which is not impossible because in so many ways, being the CEO, Sehun will be able to find out.

The thought of Sehun knowing is scaring him. However, he has confidence that the man will trust him because he knows he will. Sehun knows him well to the point that he will not believe whatever is posted on the online board.

As he checked the reports that Chanyeol left the other day, he heard some commotion coming from the hallway that is right in front of his office. He raises his head to see the door of his office open, revealing three men.

“Sir, you are not allowed inside-” his secretary says and he raises a hand to dismiss his secretary. He noticed immediately the lanyard of the man who was holding a folder of paper; the man is from the police. The man then unfolds it in front of him. “Mr. Kim Junmyeon, you are under arrest for embezzlement, bribery, and company fraud.”

Hearing those, he frowns. “What?”

The man went on to tell him his full Miranda rights, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed by you.”

More men appeared, entering his office. These men are bringing boxes. From the prosecution, he thought. He cannot understand what is going on. How come suddenly he is being arrested for the things he did not do?

While he is being handcuffed, men carrying empty blue boxes proceed to fill them in with documents coming from his office. He watches in horror, not because they might find something that would be used against him because there is none, but because they are taking the documents roughly and messing them up.

And for the record, he is not hiding anything.

He is confused. Just this morning, he is being talked about on the online board and now, he is being arrested for the crimes mentioned which he surely did not do.

Even if he feels like he is being wronged, he still lets them cuff him and follows the person, who showed him an arrest warrant, out of his office. As soon as they got out, he saw Chanyeol jogging towards them.

“Junmyeon!” A look of horror and worry crossed his friend’s face. When the man got to him, Chanyeol looked at him. “Are you alright?”

He let go of a deep breath which he did not know he had been holding. “I am,” he says. “Chanyeol, I do not know what is going on. I did not do anything wrong but-”

“I believe you,” Chanyeol says, cutting him off right in the middle of what he was about to say. “You do not need to tell me.”

He purses his lips as he feels the tears forming in his eyes but he cannot show them as weak. They might think that he indeed did something wrong.

“But how did you know?” He asks Chanyeol. “I mean, how did you know that they were coming for me?”

“I saw them and followed. I was just held back because of the elevator.” Chanyeol answers him and turns to the man who is holding his arrest warrant document. “He is not yet proven guilty and he is not a criminal. I can vouch for him.”

The man, after a look of hesitation, crossed his face, motioned for the man who cuffed him to remove it.

They got into the elevator, which was quickly cleared out of employees to give way to them. Everyone shot him a look but he is thankful that Chanyeol did not leave him. However, he hopes that Sehun is here. He would be relieved more if the said man is here.

When they got into the ground floor, more eyes looked at him. Chanyeol is on his phone, making a quick call to someone, who he assumes is the company lawyer.

Chanyeol walked by his side as they went for the main doors of the company building, not letting him out of his sight.

“What?” He heard Chanyeol say, a look of surprise and anger painted on his face. The man’s brows are also formed into a frown. “Junmyeon is our employee. In fact the Company’s President. What do you mean you cannot?”

“I assume that you are talking to the company lawyer, Chanyeol.” a voice says and both he and Chanyeol turn to find Sehun standing just a few meters away from them, with Yixing standing behind him. He immediately notices the look on Sehun’s face. Something is wrong, he thought. Sehun’s eyes briefly met his but as quickly as he did, the man looked away.

“There is no help that is coming from the company lawyer,” Sehun says coldly, which made him shiver a little. This is the version of Sehun that is cold and ruthless and he has seen it a few times before. “I myself instructed him not to.”

His eyes went wide with what Sehun said. He froze on where he was standing, staring at the man who was obviously avoiding him.

“Sehun!” It was Chanyeol, voice raised.

He felt tears now coming out from his eyes, not being able to hold them in any longer. “I did not do anything, Sehun. I am telling you the truth.”

“You have to be punished,” Sehun tells him and looks at Chanyeol. “And there is proof, Chanyeol. So if I were you, choose the right thing to do.”

“This is the right thing to do, Sehun,” Chanyeol tells Sehun. “Junmyeon did not do anything. Why are you jumping to conclusions? What proof do you have?”

Yixing scoffs. “Well, there are photos of him meeting the board of directors excluding me and you.” the man says. “And meeting even with the investors in secrecy. He is doing things behind Sehun’s back. He received an envelope too that looked like an envelope filled with money.”

What? He thought as he stared at Yixing. But how come someone knew about his meetings that there are photos of him from those? Who has been following him during those times?

The meetings were done in utmost secrecy because he was asked to, a favor he did for someone and the person made him promise that until things are settled, he cannot reveal who it is to whom he did the favor.

However, it seems it was not really a secret at all as he thought it would be.

“I told you,” Chanyeol says. “Junmyeon can never do things that are not good and between us two, you know him better.”

Sehun just stares, wearing a serious expression. “Maybe I do not know him after all.”
What Sehun said hurt him. He looks away from the man, head down. He cannot believe that so easily, so quickly, Sehun easily believed things that were said to him. How come it was so easy for the man to distrust him? Everyone knows how close they both are and how much they know each other. So why?

He cannot believe this. Of all people? Is it really Sehun who will treat him like this? Bitterness rose from his throat and began to pile in his mouth that he wanted to laugh because of it.

Sehun gave him a cold look and turned around to leave, with Yixing trailing behind, but not before the said man gave him a smirk

As he watches Sehun leaves, he realizes that many employees are watching them like they are shooting for a film. He then looks at the man who holds his warrant, “Let’s go, please.”

The man nodded and he began to walk away from there. He cannot stand there to see Sehun and listen to whatever the man has to say.

All he knows is that Sehun broke his heart into pieces at once.

----

He is sitting in the interrogation room. He is still going to be interrogated but without a lawyer, they cannot proceed.

Chanyeol is with him in the station but is just outside. He has no idea what the man is doing but one officer who entered to give him water told him after he asked that Chanyeol is busy calling and looking for a lawyer to help him.

It has been more than an hour since he arrived at the station and it seems that there is no one who is willing to help him. He hoped for a lawyer to arrive but expecting is only making him hurt more, reminding him of the expectation he had of Sehun about helping him.

He lets the moment of alone thinking. His mind is stuck with Sehun. How come Sehun can accuse him so easily? Just thinking again of what Sehun did made him feel hurt again and he cannot help but tears to fall.

He quickly wipes them away when the door opens. The man who presented him his warrant earlier came in with a man, a Prosecutor. The man has cat-like eyes.

The two men sat and the prosecutor immediately placed photos in front of him one by one. He looked at each with so much attention and focus. He knew which meetings that he was pictured in. Yixing is correct with one thing; indeed these were meetings he had with board directors and investors who he knows are loyal and who he could trust.

“I am Prosecutor Minseok Kim.” The man introduces himself and he gives a small bow to acknowledge the man. “Your name is Junmyeon Kim, the President of the Oh Group of Companies, correct?”

“Yes.” He answers with a polite nod.

“We are still looking for a lawyer for you since your friend, Mr. Chanyeol Park, has not found a lawyer yet for you.” The prosecutor says. “However, we can still proceed. Is it alright if we will record this discussion or shall we wait for your lawyer?”

He wants to end this as soon as he can. Lingering in the interrogation room is making him feel suffocated. However, he wants to take his time to decide which is better but the Prosecutor’s stare at him made him decide to do the former.

But before he could tell his choice, the door to the interrogation room opened. Two men stood outside; one was a police officer and the other was a man in a suit, carrying a briefcase. A lawyer.

“Mr. Kim’s lawyer is already here.” The police officer says and makes way for the man in a suit to come in, who bows and takes the seat that is next to him. He does not know who this lawyer is, but the man is familiar somehow. However, he has no idea where the hell did Chanyeol got ahold of this lawyer that looked...incompetent to him.

But he spoke and judged the man too soon because when the man spoke, he felt relieved. The lawyer sounds confident. He watched as the lawyer produced a calling card and handed it to the Prosecutor, who took it with a small smile.

“Nice to see you, Lawyer Byun.” Prosecutor Kim says.

So, the two know each other. Lawyer Byun introduces himself for the sake of the police officer who is with them and for him. “I am Lawyer Baekhyun Byun. I was sent by someone important here for Mr. Junmyeon Kim who is being accused of crimes he did not commit.”

“We will see about that.” the Prosecutor says. He could sense that the man is being competitive all of a sudden because of Lawyer Byun. “I see you are still working for a secret VIP.”

“We should not be discussing who I work for.” Lawyer Byun says. “I was sent here to assist and defend my client, not to catch up with you, Prosecutor Kim.”

He saw the Prosecutor glare at the Lawyer. “So, we shall officially begin.”

He just nods.

“So this man in the photos is you, correct?” Prosecutor Kim asks.

“Yes, it is me.”

More questions about the photos were asked and he tried his best to answer them by making sure he was not breaking the promise he made. He told them they were just simple meetings. However, the Prosecutor is looking at him, unconvinced, knowing that he is hiding more.

“Mr. Junmyeon Kim.” Prosecutor Kim says. “You have to tell everything, no single detail left behind, and spill whatever secret you have that could save you.”

He sighs. He cannot do this.

Lawyer Byun suddenly spoke. “Tell them everything, Mr. Kim. You are given permission to. It is for yourself.”

He looks at the Lawyer, confused with what the man said. Given the permission to speak about the meetings? The man then just gave him a reassuring nod.

Who are you really, Lawyer Byun? He wants to ask. Who sent you here?

The Prosecutor shot Lawyer Byun a look and then at him. “Alright, I will ask the questions again.”

He nodded and his lawyer said. “Go on.”

“What were those meetings for?” Prosecutor Kim asks. “Why were you meeting the Board members and investors of the company in secrecy?”

“I was asked to.” He answers. “I did it as a favor for someone. Also, those who I met are just a few of board members and investors - those I know who are loyal and trustworthy."

“You said you did it as a favor for someone." The Prosecutor asks. "Who?”

“Chairman Oh.” He answers, suddenly unsure if he revealed the name of the person who asked him to meet these people. He looks at Lawyer Byun who just gave a nod. "He was trying to find out something. He thinks he is being betrayed by someone close to him."

The Prosecutor seemed surprised with his answer but still managed to go on and ask the necessary questions. "If so, why did he ask you? Why not his grandson who is the current CEO, who was the one who called us about you?"

"He trusts Sehun." He says, almost choking at the name he said. The bitterness in his mouth again and the scene from earlier when Sehun turned his back from him just like that played in his head. "However, Chairman Oh thinks that Sehun will not be capable of finding out since all eyes are on him as he is the CEO. So he asked me to do it for him in secrecy. The photos were taken during those secret meetings which I guess is not a secret as I thought they are."

"My client is being followed and tried to use these photos against him to ruin his reputation." Lawyer Byun says.

"And what about the white envelope that was handed to you?" the Prosecutor asks.

"They were documents and not cash." He answers.

Prosecutor Kim just remained silent, checking what the police officer next to him was writing and comparing it to his own notes. Then, the man takes a folder from a small pile that is on his right side of the table. The prosecutor opens it and slides the folder to him.

"The prosecution went through the seized items from your office." The man says. He then checks the documents and realizes it is a report from the Finance Department. "This shows that you have embezzled from the company."

Before he could speak, Lawyer Byun spoke. "I am curious." The man says. "Based on the copy I got of the warrant, he was arrested for embezzlement too when the photos you have meant he could only be tried for corporate fraud and bribery." He looks at the lawyer, wondering where the man is getting at. "How come you all knew about embezzlement if you only found out the proof of embezzlement after seizing his things?"

"Someone tipped us off, Lawyer Byun." The prosecutor says.

"And you knew the documents of embezzlement were in his office, thus the sieze of items." Lawyer Byun says. "Interesting. Something is not making any sense to me."

The prosecutor shakes his head and decides to ignore the Lawyer who looks like he is thinking deeply. "Where did this come from?" the Prosecutor asks him pertaining to the document in front of him.

"That is what one of the board members gave to me." He answers. "The document inside the envelope."

“So, it is not cash, just like what we were told?” The Prosecutor asks and he nods. “Explain to us the content and tell us what was told to you about the document.”

“This is proof that someone is embezzling money from the company.” He answers. “I was supposed to hand it over to Chairman Oh but we could not find time as he also left the country for a vacation. However, I told him already about the document and sent photos. He asked me to keep it until he returns. Our conversations are on my phone.”

The Prosecutor wrote everything he said while nodding. “Did Chairman Oh have any suspicions as to who is embezzling money in the company?”

“I think he does.” He answers. “But he did not tell me who.”

“But do you have any idea of who the Chairman was suspecting?”

He hesitated but answered. “Former Vice-President of the Finance Department, Mr. Zhang,” he says. “Mr. Zhang is still a member of the board even if he has retired already. His son is the current Vice-President.”

“You mean Mr. Yixing Zhang?”

“Yes, him.” He answers.

“I see.” The Prosecutor says. There were other questions and when they were done, Prosecutor Kim and the Police Officer that was with him left the interrogation room, leaving him with Lawyer Byun whose eyebrows were furrowed.

After a while, a different police officer entered and informed them that he will be detained in the meantime. However, Lawyer Byun shook his head. “The person who sent me here would not want that.”

Lawyer Byun then followed the police officer, probably taking care of his bail. He is left alone in that somehow dark interrogation room that reminds him instead of those torture rooms in movies he has watched.

Being left alone made his mind also active, but not of horror thoughts such as ghosts and the like. He thought of Sehun again, of what happened earlier, the look on the man’s face, and when Sehun turned away, telling him with just an action that he has nothing to do with him anymore.

It breaks him that the person he adores for a long time is the one hurting him right now. It hurts him that the one who means the most to him is the one who did not believe him and instead accused him so easily of things he did not do.

He thinks he will lose his sanity just by thinking of those things.

The door opened once again and he saw Lawyer Byun. “You can go home now.”

He nods, feeling a little relieved that he will not be detained in such a lonely place for long. However, he might prefer it better than standing in the same room as Sehun.

----
Sehun sat in his office, recalling the events that happened just this morning.

He could really not believe it. Junmyeon did those things behind his back. Why did Junmyeon do those things? It hurts and breaks him just by thinking that the person he loves and trusts the most is the same person who will betray him.

He remembered the look on Junmyeon’s face - hurt. But he does not care. He is the one who has the right to be hurt and feels angry right now. He feels so stupid. His feelings for Junmyeon clouded his ability to judge the man.

What did he do to deserve this treatment?

“See, I told you,” Yixing says, who is still in his office and never left his side after what transpired. “Junmyeon is just a trouble waiting to happen.”

He did not say anything. He doesn't care anymore about Junmyeon. He loves Junmyeon for a long time but he also cares for the company. His grandfather, Chairman Oh did everything to make this company big and successful. He cannot let anyone, not even the person he loves but betrayed him, ruin the company that his grandfather and father spent years building.

“Yixing.”

The man looks at him.

“I am sure the board will agree after what has transpired.” He says. “But I will promote you to President to fill in the position that is now empty.”

A smile crossed the man’s face. “If that is your decision, then so be it. I will be glad to accept and do well with my job.”

He nods. He knows Yxing well. With what happened, he proved that Yixing is the one who is most loyal to him and the man earned more of his trust.

And he will make sure to keep the man close instead of people who will end up betraying him in the long run.

----

Chanyeol brought him into his house instead of his own. Lawyer Byun came along with them. His friend thought that it is best if he will stay there for a while. The lawyer even agrees, saying that he needs emotional support from a friend.

He noticed that his friend kept on glancing at the lawyer. He could tell that Chanyeol is smitten with the said man because he knows Chanyeol too well to know if he likes someone. It is just that Chanyeol is too easy to read.

But he does not care about that at the moment and neither does Lawyer Byun. He is not sure if the lawyer is being oblivious to the fact that Chanyeol kept on glancing at him or he does not care because he is here to do his job.

“Who are you really? He finally asks. He has been holding himself back from asking the lawyer, who currently is seated across from him.

“Chairman Oh sent me.” The man answers which rendered him and Chanyeol speechless and staring - which he thinks Chanyeol is taking advantage of to stare at the man he is obviously crushing with.

“He did?” He asks and the man nods. “How did he know?”

“Mr. Sehun Oh informed him about what happened.” the lawyer answers. “He immediately contacted me after his grandson informed him that he will not send the company lawyer to assist you. But I had to be discreet. CEO Oh is not aware of who I am because there are few lawyers that are working for the Chairman in secrecy.”

“And you are one of them?” Chanyeol asks and the man nods. “So what do you think is going to happen?”

“Chairman Oh asked me to relay his message for you.” The lawyer says. “As of now, the Chairman is trying his best to return to the country as soon as he can. He did not expect this to happen. He sent his apologies that he is not here to help you and also his thanks for helping him out. Chairman Oh also told me that will deal with this on his own. He told me he will see you as soon as he arrives. However, his grandson cannot know.”

“He helped me by sending you here.” He says. “It means a lot.”

He heard Chanyeol sigh. “I am annoyed as hell to Sehun and Yixing.” the man says. “I have a feeling Yixing did this.”

He looks at the man. “What are you saying?” he asks. “What do you mean that Yixing has something to do with this?”

Chanyeol gives him a look while Lawyer Byun is looking at the tall man with an expression of curiosity on his face.

Chanyeol sat down and pursed his lips. He could tell that the man was hesitant to tell him. “Chanyeol,” he says. “What is it?”

“Sehun told me that Yixing told him some things which I disagree with.” the man began after sighing. Chanyeol narrated that Yixing told Sehun about him ‘taking advantage of his position and being a close friend to the CEO’. Hearing just that, he did not know how to react already. He could not even process the other things that Chanyeol said because he was stuck with the first thing the man said.

“Is Mr. Yixing Zhang close to you?” Lawyer Byun asks. “And he is the current Vice-President of the Finance Department, right?”

He nods. “We have been friends since we were young,” he answers.

The lawyer looked like he was thinking deeply. “This is probably why I said earlier that something is not making sense.”

He and Chanyeol look at the Lawyer. “What do you mean?”

“I know this is just a thought but it is not impossible.” The lawyer says. “But what if this was all planned out by them?”

“But I do not see any reason why Yixing would do that, if ever,” he says.

“Family,” Chanyeol says looking like he recalled something. “And position.”

He stares at the man.

“I thought it was a joke,” Chanyeol says. “But maybe it has a double meaning. I honestly found what he said weird and thoughtless that it stuck in my head for a while. But I then ignored it.”

“When did he say something about the position?” Lawyer Byun asks.

“When we accidentally saw each other in front of the elevator. We bantered but I do remember what he said that I should be thankful that he is also a Vice-President like him and that he wishes he is the President of the Company so I would bow down to him.”

“But it was a joke.” He says.

“Maybe and maybe not also.” The lawyer says. "Jokes could be half-meant Junmyeon.

Chanyeol nods in agreement with what the lawyer said. “And I told Sehun not to trust him anymore. I said it is a warning.”

He fell silent. Is Yixing really capable of doing something elaborate like this? Well, he does not know.

Chanyeol’s phone rang, who quickly answered it. “Jongin?” Chanyeol then remained on the phone for a while, just listening. “Alright. Come to my house as soon as you can. Junmyeon needs to see that.”

After the man ended his call, he asked Chanyeol. “What should I see?”

Chanyeol looks at him, eyes filled with anger. “You will know soon.” his friend answers him, a look of anger now painted on Chanyeol's face. “I am right that he could not be trusted anymore. Yixing is all behind this, Junmyeon and he needs to pay for everything.

----

The next day, Sehun is surprised to find Junmyeon in the company building.

He is aware that the man was able to go out on bail. He did not know how Junmyeon managed to, Maybe the man has connections, probably board members or investors who are working with who helped him t\o be out of jail.

“What are you doing here?” He asks. Junmyeon turns around and so does Chanyeol, who is with the man.

“I am here to work,” Junmyeon says.

“You are no longer the President of this company.” He told the man. “There will be an emergency board meeting and I have already put forward my nomination.”

“Let me guess,” Chanyeol says. “Yixing is the one you will nominate, right?”

“You have no business with who I want to nominate.” He tells Chanyeol .”I cannot believe that you will betray me alongside Junmyeon. Are you really a friend of mine? Or you are helping Junmyeon out with the things he has been doing?”

“Believe whatever truth you think is true, Sehun,” Chanyeol says. “But a piece of advice: do not be so easily manipulated.”

He scoffs. “Maybe you are the one who is being manipulated.”

“We will see,” Chanyeol says who then pats his shoulder, making him pissed off.

“I am still the President of this company,” Junmyeon tells him. “Whether you like it or not. And I shall attend the board meeting.”

“You have no shame, don’t you?”

Junmyeon scoffs. “I did not do anything Sehun and I will prove to you that I did not do anything at all.”

The man then left with Chanyeol following. He feels angry just by seeing the two.

He made his way to the conference room. The other directors are already there, waiting. Yixing also arrived.

The last people who came in are Junmyeon and Chanyeol. Everyone looked at them as they entered.

“Why are they here?” Yixing asks.

“I am still the President of this company,” Junmyeon says. “I am not proven guilty and those accusations to me? I never did them.”

Yixing scoffs.

“Brave of you to make such a statement, Mr. Kim.” One of the board members said, Mr. Choi.

“Because I am innocent,” Junmyeon says. “And whoever is pinning me to be blamed for such accusations, I will make sure that person will pay for it.”

He saw Junmyeon look at Yixing.

The meeting began and of course, Junmyeon is being thrown under the bus. Angry voices asking questions and throwing insults could be heard in the room.

Junmyeon looked hurt but kept his ground, telling that he did not do anything wrong.

“If my father and my grandfather are here, they will be angered by this.” He says. “My grandfather built this company and nurtured it with my father, only to be betrayed like this by someone we trust,” he adds, looking at Junmyeon who did not look at him. “With what he did and him still under investigation, I, on behalf of my grandfather and father, as the CEO of this Company, I am firing Mr. Junmyeon Kim as the President of this company, with Mr. Yixing Zhang taking over the position, effective immediately.”

The room fell silent. Some are nodding in agreement while some are also looking over Junmyeon. The ones who looked at him are the ones he has met during those meetings that were pictured.

Before anyone could react, the doors of the conference room opened and all of them inside looked at whoever was entering.

His eyes widened when he saw his grandfather, Chairman Oh, coming in and looking unimpressed. He knows that the old man has left to have a vacation overseas but he did know that the chairman has returned already.

He rose from his seat, everyone did, and bows to the Chairman who looked around the room. He then watches his grandfather approach Junmyeon and he expected that the Chairman would scold Junmyeon and tell the man to leave.

But he was surprised when his grandfather stood beside Junmyeon. The others in the room were surprised as well, whispering to each other of what was going on.

He too is surprised. As he was about to talk, his grandfather looked at him with eyes that he knew so well what they expressed: anger and disappointment.

“Mr. Junmyeon Kim shall remain as this company’s President.” His grandfather says immediately.

“Grandpa!” he could not help but say.

His grandfather glares at him and looks at someone who is standing beside him. The man nods and makes his way to the person who is taking care of the technicals, handing over a flash drive. His grandfather on the other hand approaches the podium.

Photos flashed on the white screen that is hanging from the ceiling. He recognizes those photos.

The ones that were sent to him.

“These photos of the company’s President during ‘secret meetings’ are because of me.” The chairman says, making him surprised. Is his grandfather defending Junmyeon that is why he is telling these things? What did Junmyeon do to have his grandfather, the chairman, defend him? Also, he knows his grandfather is very honest. So what is really going on?

“I asked Junmyeon to meet board directors who he trusts and investors who are loyal to me.” His grandfather says. “Because I want to find out something as I have been told that someone is betraying me and the company.”

He stares at the Chairman, surprised by the revelation. He looks over at Junmyeon. He then took notice of the other directors. So maybe that is why they looked at Junmyeon earlier with so much worry.

“I have intended to do the meetings on my own.” The chairman says. “But I want the board members to be not suspicious, especially those who are puppets of the person who I suspect to be the one betraying my company and trust.”

Murmurs ran through the room.

“Someone else is embezzling funds, doing bribery, and is committing corporate fraud.” His grandfather says. “And it is not Mr. Junmyeon Kim. I am certain of that. He instead was used to hiding the truth, pinned to take the blame for these crimes which he never committed. I knew Junmyeon since he was a child and he has such a good character, the reason why I decided to appoint him as the President on my own is that I know he will do well and indeed I am right as he proved to me that he deserves the respect and support I gave to him all these years.”

His grandfather then looks at the man who went to give a flash drive to the technical man. The man went to the Chairman and handed out what seemed like a folded document. “As you can see in that photo.” his grandfather says, pointing out the picture that is flashed on the screen. “There is a white envelope that you can see. Someone said that inside of that envelope is cash when in fact, inside of it in this document.” the chairman says, raising the paper that was handed to him. “And this document is proof that someone did embezzlement with and bribed others using the company’s funds.”

Gasps filled the room.

“Junmyeon obtained this for me from one of the board of directors who I banned from coming here today to attend this meeting.” The chairman continues. “And let me tell you who is this person betraying me and worse, who used his son to do his dirty tricks.”

The room fell into total curiosity. Directors look to the people seated beside them left and right.

His grandfather then looked at Yixing and smirked.

Before anyone could process everything, policemen came inside the conference room and went straight to Yixing, who looked surprised.

“Mr. Yixing Zhang,” a policeman says who unfolds a paper right in front of Yixing. “You are under arrest for bribery and aiding and abetting corporate fraud.”

Everyone in the room gasps then other police officers went to some of the directors, getting the same warrant of arrest as Yixing.

He went to his grandfather who greeted him immediately with a slap on the face. “How dare you.” his grandfather says. “I cannot believe you are the CEO of this company. You were easily manipulated, sending Junmyeon to prison without investigating properly. You have hurt a very innocent person Sehun and you have no idea how disappointed I am! I and your father did not raise you like this. Suddenly, I now regret that we have been so lenient with you.”

He felt tears in his eyes. He never did anything which made both his grandfather and father disappoint him. Both are always proud of him for whatever he does.

“Those posts made on the online board, Yixing did it.” Someone suddenly interrupts him and his grandfather and he finds Chanyeol standing behind his back. The man immediately shoveled papers to him. “He bribed employees, which by the way I already fired as the Chairman ordered me, to post those posts and leave comments.”

He checked the papers and they were screenshots of exchanged messages between Yixing and the employees he bribed. As he read through the conversation, he felt betrayed. He feels angry.

Yixing plotted a perfect plan to ruin Junmyeon and he cannot believe he was manipulated to take part in it.

He looks at Junmyeon, noticing that there are tears already in his eyes.

“Junmyeon.” He whispers. He cannot believe that it is not him who got betrayed by Junmyeon. Instead, he is the one who betrayed the man. He did not trust and believed Junmyeon enough and allowed manipulation to control him. He felt foolish.

He remembered the look of hurt on Junmyeon’s face and this time, it is haunting him.

He approaches the man but Junmyeon steps back and Chanyeol blocks him to get near the man.

“You have no right to call him by his name after you did not trust him enough,” Chanyeol tells him. He wants to argue with the man but he knows Chanyeol is right. He has no right after what he did to Junmyeon.

And he could not do anything to take back what he had done to Junmyeon. A sorry will not be enough.

He then watches as Junmyeon exits the conference room. Without another word, he follows the man as fast as he can. “Junmyeon!” he calls after the man. He hurried after the man and when he did, he grabbed the man by his wrist, making the man turn to look at him.

A slap landed on his cheek.

“I hate you,” Junmyeon says and he stares at the man.

The words that left Junmyeon's mouth made him weak. “Junmyeon, I-”

“I cannot believe that of all people, you are the one who would betray me like this,” Junmyeon tells him. “I trusted you to be there for me but what did you do? You turned your fucking back at me and you have no idea how much it broke me. And for fuck’s sake, Sehun. You know what kind of a person I am. It astounds me that you were so easily manipulated by someone and hurt me like this.”

“But I am a victim too.” He says.

Junmyeon scoffs, shaking his head. “Really?” the man asks. “Then you should have known better. Instead of sending me straight to a hell of jail, you should have talked to me first, asked me, and trusted me.”

He saw tears fall from Junmyeon’s eyes and he could not help but let his tears fall too. Suddenly, he saw the hesitation in the man's eyes and looked like he was about to say something. He knows the man too well to know that Junmyeon never hesitates.

He is not a victim, he realizes. It was the wrong thing to say to Junmyeon who suffered the consequences of what he had done and hurt the man in the process when he told himself that the last person he will ever hurt is Junmyeon.

The words Junmyeon said, especially the last that he said, felt like a knife that was stabbing him over and over again in his heart and made worse by the look on Junmyeon’s face that screams anger, hurt, and betrayal.

And he caused all three at once.

He saw the look in Junmyeon's eyes, suddenly empty, different from how the man looks at him before.

Mea maxima culpa. Through my most grievous fault.

His fault.

“I do not know how I can stand in one room if you are there and being haunted by what you have done to me with the sight of you,” Junmyeon says. “So, don’t talk to me, and let us just remain as people who are connected because of this company.”

“Junmyeon,” he says, he is already pleading. He does not want what Junmyeon wants. He cannot survive this. “Please, don’t do this. “I cannot-”

“Then you should have really known better,” Junmyeon says and the man immediately turns away to leave, leaving him alone standing in the hallway.

Someone then passes by him and he realizes it is Chanyeol, running after Junmyeon. The man calls Junmyeon who immediately stops going away and turns to Chanyeol, looking his friend into his eyes. The next thing he knew, Junmyeon crashed himself into Chanyeol and hugged the man as tightly as he could, crying.

And it is not just a stabbing feeling in the heart that he could feel any more but as well as the feeling of his heartbreaking at the sight in front of him.

----

As he angered the chairman and with what he had done to Junmyeon, he was suspended by his grandfather for a month. His father took over temporarily during the time he was suspended.

However, the one month he rendered is not enough to compensate for what he did to Junmyeon. Nothing ever will.

With the one-month suspension, he cannot go to the company because his grandfather told him that he should not appear in the company building for the time being. The damage he created because of his trust and getting manipulated by Yixing really caused gossip to exist within the company building and left a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth, including the public’s.

Yixing’s father is also arrested. The father and son are now being thoroughly investigated since the case became high profile due to the public’s interest in it. On the other hand, he went to see Junmyeon’s father and apologized to the elder. The man’s father was angry as expected and did not accept his apology. The Kim patriarch told him to go and apologize to Junmyeon instead because the one who suffered for being wronged is Junmyeon.

He went to visit Yixing in the jail to personally ask him why he did those things - why he had to set up Junmyeon and why he had to manipulate him. He needed the answers because it has been bothering him since it caused him to betray Junmyeon. Though he did not know that he was being manipulated to betray the person he loves the most, he still is at fault because he fell for manipulation. Yixing then admitted to him why he did such unforgivable things. Because Yixing was controlled by his father. Yixing was pressured to get a high position thus he did the setting up of Junmyeon in those crimes the man did not really commit, including the posts on the company's online board which Yixing also admitted to him was his idea and bribed some employees to do the deed. It turns out that Yixing is eyeing the position Junmyeon has because the closer the position is to him, the CEO, the easier the trust will be gained. Of course, he told Yixing that the trust he has for Junmyeon is not because he loves the man, or because Junmyeon is the President but because the man earned it on his own.

But what took him back is the last thing Yixing said - that he loves Junmyeon. Yixing was hoping that with his manipulation of him and the effects that come with it, Junmyeon would run to him and be the man's knight in shining armor. However, things did not turn out as planned because of Chanyeol, who apparently was the one who found out that Yixing is the one behind all of this.

The revelations from Yixing angered him. Yixing has been in love with Junmyeon for a long time and he never knew, never even noticed.

Before he left Yixing on that first and last visit of his in the jail, Yixing also told him something.

"Junmyeon is in love with you, Sehun. Ever since we were thirteen." Yixing told him and of course, after what had happened, he could not bear to trust the words Yixing said to him

He tried his best to approach Junmyeon when he saw the man outside the building. But every time he tries to, it is either Chanyeol is with him or the man appears out of nowhere.

That day, he waited outside the company building, hiding inside his heavily tinted car. He saw Junmyeon exit the building after a long day at work.

Chanyeol appears next, putting an arm around Junmyeon's shoulders. The two looked more comfortable with each other than how he remembers.

He looks at the two from afar, who both are smiling and happy.

But his eyes are staring at only one person.

And here he is, hurting because he is not the reason why that man is happy and angry at himself for being stupid, for allowing someone to manipulate and control him so easily.

All he wants now is for that someone, for the person he loves, to look at him the same way as before.

He lived every single day since then recalling everything, regretting and wishing he had done things differently. If only he asked, if only he trusted Junmyeon, everything would have been fine. But no, he did not. He let Yixing get the best of him.

He watched as Chanyeol and Junmyeon crossed the street, heading to the restaurant that is just across the company building. The two entered a restaurant he knew so well because that is where he and Junmyeon eat.

The two took the table that is by the wall made of glass which makes them visible to anyone passing by the sidewalk.

Every time Junmyeon laughs at whatever Chanyeol says, a pang of guilt and jealousy overwhelms him. That should have been me, he thought. If only I was not stupid and all I could do now is regret.

He just sat there in his car, watching them until they finished eating. Junmyeon looked really happy. He is thankful that Chanyeol accompanied Junmyeon everywhere and made sure he was alright. The two left the restaurant and made their way to the pedestrian lane. He is murmuring in his head. Maybe they are going to the parking lot of the company. Both have cars and are parked there.

The traffic light is still on a green light, the cars speeding off to catch the time before it is up. Junmyeon and Chanyeol are just talking while waiting to cross the street.

He then felt jealous again when he saw Chanyeol fix the red scarf that Junmyeon is wearing - a scarf he bought for the man when they went out to have dinner together in December of last year. Junmyeon lost his scarf that night and insisted he will buy one so the man won't catch a cold.

He could not stand to watch it any longer because it only makes him more jealous, angry at himself, and regrets the things he has done. Every time he sees Junmyeon happy, the things he did to the man would haunt him, which becomes a constant reminder of his stupidity.

The two crossed the street, with Chanyeol disappearing into the underground parking lot of the company building. Junmyeon is out front, obviously waiting. He decides to get off his car after a while when a car appears and stops right in front of Junmyeon. He knows whose car it is because he has used it before.

It is Chanyeol’s.

Junmyeon got inside the car and the vehicle sped off.

Right there, with jealousy, regret, and anger at himself taking over him, he decides to make things right.

When Monday came and with his one-month suspension over, he returned to work. Of course, the employees and everyone else in the company gave him a look that is either judgemental or professional. Everyone still bows to him though. However, he could feel that things have become different. He knows everyone in the company does not see him the way as before and he could not blame them. He brought this upon himself.

He waited by the elevator and he came in last. As the doors of the lift began to close, he saw someone running towards the closing doors.

It is Junmyeon.

Quickly. He presses the open button, stopping the door from fully closing. As it opens wide, Junmyeon noticed him standing in front of a crowd of employees who were not even talking.

The man stood there, never moving to get into the lift. Junmyeon just stares at him.

“Jun-”

“Junmyeon!” He heard someone call the man and he saw Chanyeol heading towards Junmyeon who was now looking at him. The tall man noticed him but did not acknowledge him.

He also has to say sorry to Chanyeol because in a way, after not trusting Junmyeon, he has hurt the man too. Chanyeol was the one who advised him not to trust Yixing and to trust Junmyeon instead, which he failed to do.

“Junmyeon, let’s use the other elevator,” Chanyeol tells Junmyeon who just nods and lets Chanyeol pull him away from there.

He could not do anything and he just let the elevator doors close.

But he had already seen enough of Chanyeol being close to Junmyeon. He wants to take back the spot right next to the man, his rightful place which he lost for his stupidity, and now which Chanyeol took over. Not that he hates the man for it, he is thankful in fact. But he could not stand it anymore to see them and be jealous and angrier at himself when he sees Chanyeol by Junmyeon’s side all the time. But if Junmyeon wants Chanyeol in his life, he has nothing to do about it. He would not mind if Chanyeol would stay, fall in love and take care of Junmyeon. It is not a betrayal.

It should be him, a chance that he blew out.

When he got into his office, the place felt new to him that he could not sit in his chair and instead paced back and forth inside, thinking of what he should be doing.

A knock came and the door opened. It is Chanyeol and the man entered without too much of an expression painted on his face.

“Here are the reports I was told to submit today,” Chanyeol says without even looking at him. He watches as the man sets the folders down on his table and walks towards the door.

He did not let the man leave. “Chanyeol.” and the man stops from exiting his office. The man did not answer him but just turned to look at him.

“Thank you.” He says.

“For what?”

“For taking care of Junmyeon.” He tells the man.

“You do not need to thank me, Sehun,” Chanyeol says. “I will do it anytime for him because Junmyeon is my best friend.”

“I know.” He says because it is what he could only think of at that time. There is not that much that he could tell Chanyeol, who is just looking at him and obviously waiting for him to say something.

“You have no idea what you have lost, Sehun,” Chanyeol says. "You almost lost him."

Of course, he knows he lost Junmyeon. Though this all happened for the first time, the magnitude of what had occurred was too much, the effect that took place was unbearable, and trust being questioned and broken - losing Junmyeon was bound to happen. Thinking about what he has done repeatedly makes him feel like he is a new hell every time.

This is the sin he will atone for for the rest of his life.

“I know there is nothing that I can do to take him back and trust me again.”

“Trust that was questioned and broken is hard to fix or earn again,” Chanyeol says. “But one has to try. You love him, don’t you? Then I suggest you try whatever you can.”

“Why are you telling me that?”

“Because I know Junmyeon,” Chanyeol says. “Though this is not my place to say, I will have to tell you before everyone gets exhausted and chances are lost in time. You have no idea how much Junmyeon suffered because of what you did. But you also have no idea how hurt he is that it had to be you who would betray him like that. Junmyeon loved you for a very long time and even if he never said anything, I know he has been waiting for you to come around.”

He stares at Chanyeol because of what the man said. He fell speechless.

“If it was me in your position, I would not have spent a month watching Junmyeon from afar and checking how he is. Instead, I will go to him.” Chanyeol says. “But you are not me and I am not you. However, you should have known better, just like what Junmyeon kept on telling you.”

He still could not find the words that he wanted to say.

“Even if his trust for you is not the same as before, don’t make Junmyeon wait for you,” Chanyeol says. “Because he is still in love with you and both of you are honestly annoying me to pieces because you both are so blind that you love each other.” and turns around to leave.

He remained standing there, taking time to process the last thing that Chanyeol said. So what Yixing told him is true. Junmyeon is indeed in love with him.

He felt weak on his knees that he decides to take a seat, his head spinning with the information repeating echoing in his head. Chanyeol is serious and he could see it written on Chanyeol's face. However, with the knowledge of Junmyeon being in love with him, the more he felt angry at himself and the more he is now regretting what he has done to the man. The more he felt worse. How dare he hurt the man who loved him and remained loyal to him?

If only he could punch himself. If only he could go back and change what he did, he would. What if he had known, would things have been different?

When he finally processed everything that Chanyeol said, he immediately ran out of his office, surprising his secretary, and went for the elevator.

However, the lift is still on the ground floor so he decides to take the stairs. He cannot let a second go to waste. Besides, the floor where Junmyeon's office is just one floor below his.

Upon arriving at Junmyeon's floor, he went straight to the man’s office. Junmyeon’s secretary rose upon her seat upon seeing him approach and bows to greet him. But when she realizes that he is going into her boss’s office, she tries to stop him. “ Sir, Mr. Kim is having a meeting and you-”

But he did not care and without knocking, he opened the door of Junmyeon’s office and went inside.

Several pairs of eyes are on him, a look of surprise on their faces. But he does not care All he needs right now is Junmyeon. They need to talk. Just like what the secretary said, Junmyeon is having a meeting and the said man is staring at him. The look in his eyes was empty and never the same as how it used to be.

And he hates seeing those eyes looking at him in that way.

He takes a deep breath to muster enough courage. “Junmyeon, can we talk?”

Silence fell after that, then Junmyeon finally spoke. “Leave us alone, please.” the man tells the employees he is having a meeting with.

The employees went outside, leaving the office and them alone but not before they gave him a bow as a greeting. When the door closes after the last employee went out, Junmyeon rose from his seat and goes to his table but before the man could reach it, he hurried towards the man and hugs Junmyeon tightly from the back.

“I am so sorry.” He says, not helping for his voice to crack. The tears are now forming in his eyes. “I am so sorry. I really do.”

Junmyeon did not say anything but instead, tried to remove the arms that were around him. He did not let the man succeed, wrapping his hands tighter around the man.

“Junmyeon.” He says. This time, his tears fell. He could feel the passiveness radiating from the man. So he decides to continue talking. “I love you,” he says. “I know I did something wrong. I know I betrayed you and broke your trust and I feel so stupid. I know that an apology is not enough to atone for what I have done to you and I will spend my entire life atoning for it until you forgive me.”

Junmyeon did not move and thankfully, did not attempt to remove the arms that were wrapped around him. At least that is progress.

He then noticed that the man was shaking and then he heard a sob, which made him loosen his arms. He then turns the man around to make Junmyeon face him. Junmyeon is crying.

“Junmyeon.” He says. Seeing the man cry would always break his heart and he rarely saw Junmyeon cry. The times the man did, it is all because of him. “Why are you crying?” Junmyeon did not look into his eyes and just shook his head. He lifts the man’s face and wipes the tears that are falling from the man’s eyes. “I am so sorry. I really do.”

He expected Junmyeon to look away but the man didn’t and instead spoke. “I still hate you,” Junmyeon says.

“And you can hate me forever if you want to and I do not mind.” He says. “I deserve it.”

“But I cannot hate you forever,” Junmyeon says. “Because that will be torture for me. The past month was already enough of a torture for me.”

Imagining Junmyeon being tortured for the past month is not easy to do. If he felt tortured for the past month just by watching Junmyeon from afar, the man had it worse. He cannot compare Junmyeon’s feeling of torture to his own.

“I love you so much, do you know that?” Junmyeon says. “I have loved you for a very long time, that is why it hurts so much when you betrayed me, broke my trust, and did not believe me. You broke me, Sehun but it breaks me more to stay angry and hate you more for a very long time.”

He doesn't know how he will ever deserve Junmyeon. The man deserves someone better than him.

But, he cannot run away from this chance. He just cannot. He wants Junmyeon badly in his life. He sees his future with Junmyeon and no one else. He would rather live alone than marry someone else.

He leans into Junmyeon and kisses the man on the lips. He felt afraid that Junmyeon would pull away but the man did not. Instead, the man lets him do what he wants to do.

Through the kiss, he made sure to make Junmyeon feel that he is sorry, that he regrets what he has done, that he will do everything that he can to make the man trust him again, that he will not do something to hurt the man ever and to love him forever.

He pulls away from Junmyeon and leans his forehead on the man’s, caressing Junmyeon’s soft cheeks.

“I will make sure to love you every day, to do everything to earn and make you trust me every single day, to always ask for your forgiveness forever, and to be a better and best man for you.” He told Junmyeon. “I love you, Kim Junmyeon.”

Their eyes met and he kissed the man’s forehead. Junmyeon then hugs him.

He hugs the man as tightly as he can, never letting go of Junmyeon ever again.

He will make sure that Junmyeon will never regret loving him.

The man looks at him and immediately he knew that Junmyeon is his favorite sin that he will be willing to atone forever.