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Myungsoo knows he's distracted. Though he tries to focus on putting the dishes into the dishwasher, it's not a task complicated enough to occupy his mind, and it keeps wandering, just as his eyes keep flickering to the direction of the door. He can't see it from the kitchen but he knows he'll be able to hear when someone enters.

The sign is turned to closed now. The door isn't locked, though, and Myungsoo keeps hoping for someone to enter, despite the late hours. Of course, a friend could come by, or the owner of the café, Myungsoo's boss, could come up to check up on him. But there's someone in particular he's been waiting for.

It's been over three months since Sunggyu last visited. It's about time for him to appear again.

He jerks in surprise when the doorbell— an old-fashioned one, hanging above the door— rings. A cup slips out of his hands and lands on the floor— luckily, despite being a perfect imitation of porcelain, it's not as easy to break. As he picks it up he can hear his heart thump in his chest, his mouth turning dry. It's embarrassing, just how big of an effect the mere thought of seeing Sunggyu has on him.

He quickly washes his hands and wipes them with a small towel hanging by the kitchen door, and, trying to calm his nerves, he enters the shop's main area.

But it's not Sunggyu who's waiting there for him, leaning on the counter. It's his flatmate, Soojung.

"Hi there," she says with a smile, and Myungsoo's lips quirk nervously as he tries to cover his disappointment. But Soojung, of course, notices. "You were hoping to see someone else?" She gives a dramatic sigh. "And I even bought you food." She places a takeout box on the counter.

Myungsoo feels his spirits lift a little. It's chicken from his favorite place. It probably has little to do with real meat, but it tastes delicious nonetheless.

"Thanks. I'll eat well."

"I'd wait until you finish work but," Soojung glances at the digital communicator on her wrist, "I really need to go. I'm meeting friends soon. We're going clubbing. Maybe you'd like to come once you're done here?"

"No, thanks, I've got to-"

"Study?" Soojung interrupts with a teasing grin. "Or go on a date with a special someone?"

Myungsoo rolls his eyes, though he can't stop the blush from coloring his cheeks. "There's no special someone."

"Really?" Soojung raises an eyebrow at him. It's, obviously, not the first time she's asked him about it, but even though his response is evasive, he's not really lying. He's sure Sunggyu doesn't consider their relationship special in any way. Soojung seems to be losing her patience with his secretiveness but thankfully, it doesn't seem she's going to press this time. "Well, I gotta go. I'm gonna come back late."

"Sure." Myungsoo pats her head. "Be careful."

"Okay, mom," Soojung huffs, but she's smiling good-naturedly. "See you later."

 

***

 

The stuffy air outside hits Myungsoo in the face as he leaves the coffee shop; it seems to stick to his face, cling to his clothes, heavy and unpleasant. It's a stark contrast against the air conditioned air in the coffee shop— just like the old-fashioned interior of the cafe is so different from the modern city outside.

It's the beginning of December, but it's not like you'd be able to tell by the temperature. It never goes below twenty degrees in the central parts of New Seoul. It's one of the things Myungsoo dislikes about living here. You can't witness the season change— you can't even tell the difference between day and night. It's always hot and humid, and most of the time, it rains. The tall buildings, the upper districts platforms, the sky mobiles, and finally the pollution, they all shield the city from the sun. But despite that, the city is bright, colorful and bustling with life at all times.

Myungsoo likes the liveliness. Seoul was known as city that never sleeps and New Seoul is no different. There is always something happening and it's not like he's bored or especially unhappy. And yet there's this pressure at the back of his head, that constant nudging telling him to leave and see new things.

The last time he saw the sun was three years ago— before he went to university his parents took him on a trip to Hawaii. It hasn't been that long ago but the memory feels distant, like a dream, and even looking at the pictures he took doesn't help to make it feel real. And it'll be long before he can afford to leave the city again.

He locks the door and turns to walk towards the small plaza he always passes through on his way home. He needs to walk through the colorful food stands to reach the stairs leading down to the riverside district where he lives.

The lady behind the Thai food stand waves at him as he passes by— he smiles and waves back. He often buys takeout food here on his way home from work and even though he's full now it still smells very tempting.

"Not hungry this time?" she asks; her Terrian is fluent but laced with a thick accent, a clear sign that unlike Myungsoo, she was born before it became a necessity for everyone to know and speak it.

He shakes his head. "Tomorrow!"

"It's a promise! Have a good day," she responds cheerfully. Myungsoo gives her a light bow, something Soojung would scoff at, just as she does each time she hears him use Korean honorifics. It's not like she's disrespectful but she's not very fond of what she calls 'outdated traditions'. Myungsoo, on the other hand, can't help but respect them. It's not like he dislikes progress, but the notion that someone might find him impolite makes him uncomfortable.

His mind is on the essay he has due in four days but as he reaches the stairs, all thoughts of it fly from his head. Sunggyu is here, casually leaning back against the railing, staring right at Myungsoo. He's dressed in a leather jacket and fitting pants, he looks as stylish and confident as always. Myungsoo stops in his tracks, his heart jumping in his chest. His body's reaction is almost instant— the quickened pulse, the warmth on his face and in his belly.

He still gets surprised at how attracted he is to Sunggyu, as he's never felt that way about anyone before, never thought it was even possible. It's not like he had no libido, quite the opposite actually, but sexual attraction to people used to be a completely foreign concept to him. Until he met Sunggyu.

"You're— you're here," he mutters, still stunned, and Sunggyu raises an eyebrow at him.

"Very observant," he says but the sarcastic remark is soothed by the smile blooming on his face. "It's good to see you."

"You too, hyung," Myungsoo responds, regaining his composure. "Did you wait long? You could have just come to the shop."

"Not long." Sunggyu gives a careless one-shoulder shrug. "You have time tonight?"

Myungsoo bites his lip. There are things he has to do, but he knows Sunggyu won't be staying long. He knows he wouldn't be able to bring himself to say no— and Sunggyu probably knows it too. The question holds no weight, like he's already expecting a positive answer.

"I do." Myungsoo chases away the uneasy thoughts and smiles. "The usual place?"

Sunggyu looks pleased and just that is enough to make Myungsoo's heart skip a beat.

"Yeah," he says, taking Myungsoo's hand in his. Sunggyu's hands are slim— beautiful, Myungsoo often catches himself thinking— but the grip is strong, makes Myungsoo's heart speed up. "The usual."

 

***

 

He remembers the day he first met Sunggyu all too clearly. That night, Soojung managed to drag him out to one of her and her friends' clubbing outings. Myungsoo's alcohol tolerance wasn't bad, so Soojung left him at the bar with an instruction to get drunk enough to go on the dance floor. He was halfway through his second drink when someone sat down on the stool next to him.

"Are you here alone?"

The mere sound of his voice made something twist inside Myungsoo and when he raised his eyes to meet the stranger's sharp eyes, he immediately felt the blood rush to his face. He wondered if it was the drink— but he still took a sip before answering, just to give himself time to recompose. There was something about the man that Myungsoo found incredibly attractive. He wasn't sure if he was objectively handsome, but he was effortlessly hot in a way Myungsoo hadn't seen anyone else be.

"With friends," he managed a coherent answer, and even a smile. Sunggyu nodded, smiling back.

"Same here. Got dragged here because I'm apparently in need of stress relief."

"Ah." Myungsoo gripped his glass a little tighter. "As in, dancing?"

Sunggyu chuckled. "I don't think that's what they had in mind."

"Oh." Nervously, Myungsoo took another gulp of his drink. Was the guy proposing him? If so, he had an unusually direct way of going for it. He didn't even introduce himself yet. Or maybe it was how usually things happened? It wasn't like Myungsoo had a lot of experience. But looking at this guy… for the first time, he actually wanted someone. "Then you're looking for someone?"

Sunggyu tilts his head, eyeing him, his expression hard to read. "And if I am… would you be interested?"

"I… I don't know," Myungsoo answered, a little helplessly, because the mere thought of this man touching him made him feel hot all over but he just didn't do one night stands— he'd only had sex in long term relationships. Or well, just one relationship. "We don't even know each other," he added, tone a little firmer.

The man chuckled, his heavy stare changing into something softer, warmer. It didn't do anything to dissolve the raw, sexual charm he had in Myungsoo's eyes. "Well then, we have all night to change that? If you'd like my company. The name's Sunggyu, by the way." He nodded at Myungsoo's nearly empty glass. "One more?"

Sunggyu, Myungsoo thought. He found the name very pretty. But the more he looked at the man, the prettier everything about him seemed to him.

They only had one more drink and they didn't really get drunk but Myungsoo still decided to take Sunggyu up on his offer. He sent Soojung a short message and left the club, his whole body tingling in excitement at the thought of what was about to happen.

When they entered the motel room, it was mere seconds before Sunggyu had him pressed to the wall, kissing him passionately. Just that made Myungsoo feel dizzy with pleasure, his knees going weak. He wanted Sunggyu so much.

"You don't mind if I'm a bit… controlling?" Sunggyu asked as he pulled back, his gaze heavy, serious. Myungsoo felt a shiver run down his spine, the excitement making his stomach tighten. He liked the idea— plus, he could probably use some guidance. He licked his lips.

"Not at all," he breathed and Sunggyu's gaze seemed to darken.

"Down on your knees," he whispered and Myungsoo obeyed, all too easily; all he knew that he was aching with want and he was ready to do anything, anything, just to have Sunggyu touch him. "Unzip my pants."

They ended up with just a blowjob that evening but just that turned Myungsoo on so much; it was his first time and Myungsoo knew it was messy but he tried his best despite his aching jaw and knees. When Sunggyu told him to touch himself he came all too quickly, and it was a bit humiliating, coming like that on his knees with his hand in his pants, Sunggyu's come still on his lips, in his mouth. Still, he loved it and he wanted more.

They ended up meeting again. And then again. Their relationship was supposed to be about sex only— "Can't imagine it any other way if I'm on Terra only a few weeks a year," Sunggyu told him. And it's true that he doesn't visit often but when he is here, they spend almost all of that time together. They naturally found out quite a lot about each other and Myungsoo couldn't help but get attached. Especially since he has no one else. Maybe Sunggyu does have more lovers, but Myungsoo isn't interested in other people.

And besides, Sunggyu does those things, things that confuse Myungsoo, like holding his hand so firmly on the way to the motel where they're supposed to just— fuck. Like patting his head and calling him adorable when he gets tangled up in his hoodie in his attempt to undress quickly.
Like looking at him so intently when he fucks him— making him feel like maybe it's more than just sex.

He probably wasn't even good from the start, relying on Sunggyu to teach him everything. Myungsoo thinks their strong attraction must be mutual, because otherwise, why would Sunggyu choose him of all people? His looks, maybe, but then again, Sunggyu hardly ever complimented him on those. Myungsoo hears it enough from other people not to value such praises much, but still, Sunggyu is not other people and Myungsoo has no idea what the man thinks of him.

They don't do anything unusual this time. Sunggyu instructs him to go on all fours and fucks him hard and fast, then, a bit later, he makes Myungsoo ride him. He's pleasantly sore and spent afterwards and all he wants is to be held close. And Sunggyu indulges him, pulling him into a tight embrace, petting his hair.

"Sleep, baby," he murmurs, voice warm. It's another one of those things he does that baffle him. He tries not to give it too much thought; how much he likes the feeling of Sunggyu's soft skin brushing against his, his scent, his warmth. How safe it feels to be held like this. But he knows by the tightness he feels in his chest that it's already too late for him to back away from this relationship unscathed.

 

***

 

Myungsoo watches the flying mobiles pass by the restaurant window, their colorful lights standing out against the dark sky. Sungjong's parents' restaurant is placed on top of one of the tallest buildings in the city. The speed limit isn't low up here so the mobiles fly by rather fast, some of them not more than a blur of light in his eyes.

The restaurant is one of the most popular spots for upper class people to dine with their business partners, lovers and families. Myungsoo used to feel extremely out of place here. Sungjong invited him often enough for him to grow accustomed to it. He wasn't one to say no to free food, especially since the restaurant served real organic meat, not the synthetic chicken flavored product Myungsoo usually ate.

He's seating in his usual spot, by the window, separated from other tables by a big pot plant. The plant is, apparently, also real. Myungsoo suspects that it's the only plant most of the people who come here have seen in a long while. Many middle class people don't see one throughout their whole lives.

He's mindlessly watching a commercial displayed by a bot flying by the restaurant window— Final Fantasy Ultima, a new virtual reality game— when Sungjong drops down on the seat opposite of him. He follows Myungsoo's gaze and promptly scowls.

"I swear to God, all Sungyeol does these days is playing that game. I invited him out too, but I doubt he's gonna come."

"He'll get bored soon." Myungsoo gives his friend a reassuring smile. "You know how he is with those games."

Sungjong rolls his eyes with a sigh, which probably means that he knows all too well, but then he brightens up. He rests his forearms on the table, leaning in closer, his eyes twinkling.

"So," he says. "About that guy you're seeing. Spill."

Myungsoo groans inwardly. He was right to be suspicious when Sungjong invited him here out of the blue to "discuss something important".

"I'm not seeing anyone."

"Oh yeah?" Sungjong raises his eyebrows. "According to my sources, you're seeing Kim Sunggyu, 28, the pilot of Aries, a merchant spaceship coursing between Mars, Luna, and Terra."

Myungsoo gapes at him. "How— how do you—"

"A friend of mine works in that Italian food place you went to." He leans back in the chair, a smirk playing at his lips. "She remembers you from the last party I threw— I suppose a face like yours is hard to forget."

Myungsoo rubs the bridge of his nose. "And how does she know Sunggyu?"

"She doesn't. She described him to me, though, heard you call him by his name. The rest wasn't that hard to figure out."

"That's kind of creepy, Jongie," Myungsoo mumbles, hiding his face in his hands, feeling his cheeks turn warm. He doesn't know how to explain it— that he's not dating Sunggyu. That it's not serious, probably never will be, no matter how much he'd like it to be.

"It's not like I stalked you or anything. But you can't blame me for getting curious when she told me you were on a date with some guy." Myungsoo can hear the pout in Sungjong's voice. "You never told me or Soojung."

"Does she know too?" He can imagine how much she's going to pester him about it, and he won't be able to escape, seeing they live together. It's not like Myungsoo doesn't trust her. It's just that he's a private person by nature and talking about stuff like that makes him nervous and flustered. He'd much rather just watch tv shows and joke around. He doesn't mind listening about his friend's crushes, either, but talking about his own love life has always been difficult.

"I didn't tell anyone. But now you've got to tell me all about it." Sungjong smiles at him encouragingly.

In the end, he tells Sungjong everything. Sungjong keeps asking questions and he only seems satisfied with Myungsoo’s answers long after they finish eating and the waiter takes their empty plates away.

"So… he's basically using you," Sungjong sums up, stirring his drink with the straw. Myungsoo solemnly sips on his own, unsure how to answer that. "Does he bring you expensive gifts at least?"

"Gifts?" Myungsoo gapes at him. "I'm not after money! I— I like the sex."

Sungjong raises an eyebrow. "You never seemed much interested in sex. I mean. Putting porn and jerking off aside."

"What?" Myungsoo sputters. "How do you— okay, no, never mind." He rubs his cheeks, feeling how hot they are. "I like it with him, it's… I've never felt like this before."

Sungjong hums, tilting his head. "That sounds serious."

"No, it's not like that!" Myungsoo protests. "It's… it's really just sex."

"How long has it been?"

"About a year and a half…"

"So almost two years of just sex. I know you, Kim Myungsoo. You're a hopeless romantic. Definitely not the it's just sex kind of a person."

"How can you tell?" Myungsoo asks defensively.

Sungjong snorts, doesn't even grace that question with an answer. Myungsoo can see his point; he knows just how hopeless he was in his former relationship. But he was young and naive; he's learned his lesson.

"I'm more careful now," he says honestly. Of course it's not like he doesn't want those things anymore, cheesy things that make him feel giddy when he watches romance movies and animations. Couple rings, holding hands, cute dates at amusement parks, sharing ice cream, giving each other sweet no occasion presents. It's just that he knows he shouldn't trust people too easily, shouldn't give too much when he gets nothing in return. What he gives might not mean as much to the other person as it means to him.

He suddenly remembers the way Sunggyu almost always holds his hand when they go somewhere. It's probably not meant to be romantic at all, though. It's more that Sunggyu just pulls him around, the grip firm as not to lose him when they push through the crowds of people. They don't go on dates, of course, but they do go out to eat between, well, the sex. The hand holding might not mean anything to Sunggyu but Myungsoo likes a lot, how secure it feels. He probably likes it too much for his own good.

Sungjong takes a sip of his drink, studying Myungsoo's face for a moment, before he answers. "For your sake, I hope that's true. Just be careful not to get hurt, okay?"

"I'm not a child, Jongie." Myungsoo frowns. "I'm older than you…"

"Yes." Sungjong exhales heavily. "Sadly, both you and Sungyeol are just big kids. Why do I have to babysit my friends?"

There's a complaining tone to his voice but he's smiling, his eyes warm. Myungsoo knows he means well. And deep down, he's scared that Sungjong is right; that he's being reckless and it's going to hurt him in the end.

 

***

 

When Myungsoo wakes up from his nap, he's alone in the motel bed. It's not unusual for Sunggyu to leave him like this but it's not the case this time. When he turns his head he finds him sitting on the windowsill, wearing only a hoodie— Myungsoo's hoodie. His eyes linger on Sunggyu's bare legs, long and pale, one of them pulled up to his chest. There's a glass of water in his hand, a small glass jar in his hand. Myungsoo realizes he must have just taken the pills.

It's a rare sight in times when nanotechnology is so advanced everyone has bots implanted into their blood system, to destroy any infections before the symptoms can become a bother. But for someone who travels from planet to planet and thus gets in contact with different microorganisms, additional precautions are a necessity.

Myungsoo isn't interested in the pills, though. He silently observes Sunggyu as he looks through the window. He's not watching the city outside; the windows in the motel are actually hologram screens, offering a variety of deceptively genuine looking sceneries. Sunggyu is looking at a small stream, merrily weaving through a forest clearing, sparkling in the rays of sun. The sound of the water resonating through the room makes Myungsoo thirsty. He can almost hear Sungjong's voice in his head telling him that even this seemingly relaxing feature of the motel rooms is actually a ploy to get people to spend more money. Maybe Sungjong is right. If he had money to spend he would probably order drinks right now.

He thinks the visual qualities of the hologram picture are nothing impressive compared to Sunggyu, anyway. He looks pretty in that calming, green and gold light. Myungsoo can't quite see his face but his soft hair, pale skin, his slim hands, his long legs… he can't take his eyes off him. He often finds himself thinking Sunggyu is beautiful, and the more time he spends with him the stronger that impression is. But they don't tell each other such things so even though Myungsoo frequently has cheesy compliments at the tip of his tongue, he keeps quiet. He has a feeling Sunggyu wouldn't want to hear any of this, that for some reason it would make him uncomfortable.

"Are you cold, hyung?" he asks. He keeps his voice quiet but Sunggyu still jumps a little. He must have been lost in thought. "I can turn the heating up." The panel is right next to the bed, full of buttons to control the light, temperature and humidity.

"It's fine." Sunggyu gives him a faint smile. "It's comfortable… and I like the scent." Myungsoo blinks once, twice, before he realizes Sunggyu means his hoodie. The softness in the tone of his voice… He feels his face turn warm. He doesn't know what to think of it, and he tries his best not to read too much into it.

"You can keep it, if you want," he offers. Sunggyu's expression is unreadable; he hums noncommittally and slides off the windowsill. His eyes are heavy, the corners of his lips curled up as he approaches the bed. Myungsoo feels his mouth turn dry, once again all too aware of just how strongly attracted he is to Sunggyu.

He makes a move to sit up but Sunggyu straddles him and pins him down. Myungsoo shivers, looks up, licks his lips nervously. Sunggyu looks soft and cozy like this, in the hoodie, with his hair tousled, his eyes crinkled in a smile. But the intensity of his gaze keeps Myungsoo still. He knows that look, and he knows Sunggyu likes it when he obeys him.

"I want to ride you," Sunggyu tells him. Myungsoo swallows thickly, his pulse thrumming in his ears. He's already growing hard and his breath hitches when Sunggyu shifts on top of him, releasing his wrists from his grip. "Keep your hands at your sides."

It's difficult not to move, especially after Sunggyu takes the hoodie off. He loves touching Sunggyu; his skin always feels so soft under his fingertips and he's sensitive, it's easy to get a reaction out of him. Myungsoo likes knowing that he's making him feel good. He's not vocal, always holding back, but Myungsoo can tell from the way he sharply sucks in a breath when an intense sensation surprises him, the way he chews his lip to keep any sounds down.

But if he's learned anything about Sunggyu is that he hates feeling vulnerable, so the purpose of the order might not only be to tease Myungsoo. He's so different from Myungsoo in that matter. Myungsoo can be guarded when it comes to his feelings but he doesn't mind giving up control. He doesn't mind giving all of himself away when they're alone like this.

Maybe it's reckless of him; maybe this is why he ended up falling in love.

"I might be able to stay a little longer next time," Sunggyu says breathlessly a moment later, right when he starts moving on top of him. It's difficult to focus on the words. Sunggyu feels so good around him, so warm, his body enveloping him tightly with each roll of his hips. The pace is slow but steady and Myungsoo feels the pleasure build up, clouding his mind.

"Really?" he asks then gasps when Sunggyu leans down, starts pressing sloppy kisses to his jaw, his neck. He's lost in all the sensations, Sunggyu's breath against his skin, the wetness of his tongue. "A-ah, hyung…"

"You're cute like this," he hears Sunggyu whisper, but he doesn't fully register it. He feels Sunggyu clench around him, the sensation making him moan, his hips bucking on their own accord, prompted by his need to bury himself deeper in that warmth. And then, Sunggyu stops moving altogether. Myungsoo looks up at him, worried that Sunggyu is upset since he wasn't supposed to move. He doesn't catch the look in his eyes as Sunggyu leans closer, playfully licks at his lips.

"Fuck me, Myungsoo," he whispers. Myungsoo is still dazed but he immediately grips Sunggyu's hips and flips them around, eager to finally touch him.

Sunggyu is quiet when Myungsoo pushes into him, filling him again, he doesn't make a sound except for the small sighs and whispered words, yes, here, harder. But Myungsoo can feel his pulse, his quick heartbeat beneath his lips as he kisses every part of his skin he can reach, and it's more than enough.

He doesn't think he can muster up the courage just yet but maybe the next time Sunggyu visits they'll be able to talk properly. Maybe something between them can finally change.