It was a quiet, almost cold night in the middle of January in Seoul. The air was still and so peaceful that no one should have been awake. And yet Hyoyeon was, wide awake and staring out her bedroom window which was across from her side of the bed. She hadn’t been able to sleep at all and as the clock on her nightstand indicated, it was close to five in the morning and she had not an ounce of sleep. As she stared out into the night wide awake, she began to think that she was that preoccupied because she had bumped into Kangin on her way out of the mall a few hours ago.
Of all the places and all times, she had to bump into that man there and then. He had stared at her in a way that had chilled her bones and she was instantly reminded of why Seunghyun was always scared of him. He had a look that could kill without even trying.
At that moment, her thoughts were filled with Seunghyun. She even started thinking of making up lies in case Kangin asked her about him, but he didn’t. He apologized for bumping into her and walked away. But she didn’t believe in that hostility. She quickly made her way to her car and drove off while keeping her eyes on the rearview mirror just in case Kangin decided to follow her or something. However, in the middle of the road she remembered that she had no reason to run away from the cruel man. Seunghyun was far away. He was in another country, starting his life over, away from the monster who belittled him on daily basis and broke his self-confidence. She had nothing to worry about anymore.
Then, why was she still awake thinking of Kangin? He wasn’t a threat anymore, right? As long as Seunghyun was safely hidden in New York, then she had nothing to worry about, right? She shook her head and walked back to her bed to get her phone. She needed to hear Seunghyun’s voice to be sure that all was fine. Her best friend was probably working or on his way to the nightclub, so she had to talk to him before she attempted to sleep for a bit.
Seunghyun’s phone started ringing instantly, but there was no response. At that, Hyoyeon started to get nervous. Did Kangin find him? It’s impossible. I’ve just met him earlier. Why isn’t he answering? Oh God-
“Hello,” A voice answered and broke her mental freaking out.
She swallowed hard when she realized that it wasn’t Seunghyun who had answered. “Who are you?”
“I could ask you the same thing.” The man on the other side noted.
“Why are you answering Seunghyun’s phone? Where is Seunghyun?” She inquired in hurry, her voice shaking in nervousness.
“Seunghyun is sick.” The man answered her.
“Why? What happened to him?” She asked frantically.
“He’s down with fever. It’s nothing serious.” The man reassured her. “He left to work tonight, but then the boss noticed his weak form and gave him two days off to rest. I brought him home and he’s sleeping now.”
“Do you work with him?” Hyoyeon inquired.
“Yes,” The man said. “My name is Jiyong. You can ask him later in case you don’t believe me.”
“It’s not that.” Hyoyeon said in a rush. “I just got worried when you answered on Seunghyun’s behalf. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay.” Jiyong said shortly.
“I’m Hyoyeon, by the way.” She said after short silence.
“Nice to meet you,” Jiyong uttered calmly, his heart not completely in that sentence.
“Nice to meet you too,” Hyoyeon answered. “Thank you for looking after hyunnie.”
“It’s okay. I didn’t do much.” Jiyong whispered.
“Seunghyun has no one there, so it means a lot to him and to me that someone is looking after him.” Hyoyeon commented sadly.
Jiyong didn’t answer but chose to give a barely heard hum in retort.
“Please, look after him, Jiyong. He has no one and he wouldn’t open up to others easily. I would want nothing more than to be there with him to give him company, but I can’t. So, please help him to adjust, Jiyong. Please.” Hyoyeon pleaded.
Jiyong again stayed silent, and Hyoyeon almost believed that he hadn’t heard a word of what she had just said. After what seemed like eternity, Jiyong managed a loud sigh and what sounded to Hyoyeon like ‘I’ll see what I can do.’
“Thanks, Jiyong.” She said gratefully. “I’ll call him back later to check on him. Have a nice day.”
Jiyong hummed through the phone once again and Hyoyeon hung up, believing that the man who was currently tending to Seunghyun’s sick form was a man of a few words. Jiyong didn’t really care about her opinion of him. His mind was too preoccupied of Seunghyun’s current state and why he cared that much. He recalled with a little bit of bitterness the circumstances that made him the babysitter instead of the waiter Brian had assigned to drop Seunghyun home once he noticed his weak form. He should have let Nick do all the job instead of grabbing his arm to stop him before he got to Seunghyun. He should have called Heechul and asked him to come look after his soon-to-be husband, but he didn’t. He was tired of their interactions together so he offered to take Seunghyun home instead.
As if watching them get all the papers ready to get married and become sort of friends wasn’t enough.
As if Seunghyun’s previous break down in front of his eyes wasn’t still engraved in his memory.
As if Seunghyun’s indifference towards him wasn’t confusing the out of him.
As if Seunghyun wasn’t someone he admitted being hugely attracted to, but he still fought against himself not to feel anything.
Seunghyun’s indifference disturbed him and he couldn’t point out why for God’s sake. He was used to be either admired for his mysterious persona or disliked for his nasty, cold character, but never once had he been the subject of such indifference. He was puzzled and being in close proximity with the object of his confusion only added more salt to his wound.
“Ugh,” Seunghyun suddenly stirred and struggled to get the covers off of his body.
Jiyong walked slowly towards him to put down the phone he didn’t realize he was still holding on the nightstand next to the bed. Seunghyun opened his eyes slowly and caught him leaning on his form. “Do you feel better?” Jiyong asked him.
Seunghyun could only manage a quick nod as his throat felt heavy and kind of sore. “W…Water,” He uttered hoarsely.
Jiyong nodded and moved to get him a glass from the kitchen. Seunghyun waited until he was out of the room to let out a curse. He hated to be sick especially now that he was getting close to his freedom ticket. He was planning to marry Heechul in two days and there was still one paper he needed to get, but then the fever chose that moment to strike him. He tried to sit up slowly but failed when the dizziness struck him once again and he fell against his pillow.
“Let me help you,” Jiyong said once he came back. He deposited the glass of water on the nightstand and moved to help Seunghyun sit up straight. He adjusted the pillows behind him and held out the glass of water to him. “Here, take this pill with the water.”
“I’m fine,” Seunghyun said, a cough catching him right after he finished.
“Oh yes, because almost collapsing in work and having a fever and coughing is everyone’s definition of fine.” Jiyong said sarcastically, rolling his eyes. “Just take the pill and try to go back to sleep.”
Seunghyun chose not to answer but to take the pill and swallow it with the whole water inside the glass. “More?” He asked feebly, feeling embarrassed to bother Jiyong.
This latter nodded quickly and left to get him more water to quench his thirst. Seunghyun looked grateful when he came back this time with a bottle full of water instead of one glass. “In case you felt thirsty later tonight.” Jiyong explained and poured him more.
“Thank you,” Seunghyun whispered and took the glass weakly. He drowned the whole content in a sip and lay back on his pillow, closing his eyes instantly.
Jiyong swallowed hard at the sight. He cursed internally as he wasn’t supposed to be left breathless when Seunghyun was a sick mess, but his eyes couldn’t help wandering over the exposed collarbone inside the black shirt, and then the hands that were clutching the covers tightly and which looked so soft and gentle. Jiyong wanted to hold them so bad to be sure that they were as soft as they looked.
This is bad. This is so bad. Jiyong’s mind screamed. Seunghyun chose that moment to open his eyes and see him staring. “A girl named Hyoyeon had called when you were sleeping. I didn’t want to wake you up, so I answered her. I hope you don’t mind.” He quickly uttered before Seunghyun could say something to about his staring.
“I never took you for the considerate type.” Seunghyun did indeed .
Jiyong frowned at him. “You don’t know me, so you can’t judge me.” He shot.
“You didn’t leave a good first impression on me for me to perceive you as someone considerate.” Seunghyun commented calmly with a weak smile.
Jiyong bit down on his lip hard. Okay, so maybe he had acted nasty on their first meeting. He was in a hurry that day when they had bumped into each other and he was in a bad mood, not that he wasn’t always, so it wasn’t his fault that Seunghyun was meant to meet him for the first time in that precise moment. He had to blame his bad timing not him.
“What did Hyo say?” Seunghyun inquired, breaking his chain of thoughts.
Jiyong blinked. “She’ll call you back later to check on you.”
“Anything else?” Seunghyun insisted. “Did she ask about the marriage?”
Jiyong’s heart skipped. “It’s her first time talking to me. It wouldn’t be smart of her to approach such a subject with a stranger.”
“You’re right,” Seunghyun agreed and adjusted the covers on his body before he coughed. “Just my luck.”
“You’ll be fine.” Jiyong reassured him.
“I’m getting married in two days. I can’t show up to the court in this state.” Seunghyun cursed as he coughed once again.
“You’ll do fine. You just need to sign some papers. Heechul will be there to help you out.” Jiyong uttered and walked slowly to the window inside the room; needing to get away from Seunghyun and the unfamiliar feeling he was stirring inside his heart with nothing but his mere existence.
“Won’t you be there too? I thought you’ll witness on the marriage.” Seunghyun said with a frown.
“I won’t,” Jiyong answered. “I have other things to do on that day. Heechul has contacted some of our friends for that.”
“Can we trust them?” Seunghyun said nervously.
“You can.” Jiyong reassured him, his back to him.
Seunghyun hummed his response and closed his eyes once again. Jiyong sensed him and finally turned. He stayed by the window but his eyes weren’t on the view outside but on Seunghyun’s gorgeous form. He didn’t know what was so captivating about him that he found himself staring at him the moment he stepped close. He bit on his lip hard when the unfamiliar feeling returned to him in full form this time.
“You’re staring again.” Seunghyun whispered with his eyes still closed.
“I’m not,” Jiyong blurted out and looked away.
“I can tell that you’re staring even with my eyes closed.” Seunghyun commented. “It’s all you do when I’m around.”
“You’re so full of yourself.” Jiyong spat a bit angrily. “Plus, I can say the same about you. You’re the one who had started this entire staring thing.”
“I won’t judge you if you feel attracted to me or see me as a ual object. I’m used to it.” Seunghyun said out of nowhere. “I’m meant to be stared at, ed with and discarded.”
Jiyong’s mouth fell open at the unexpected comment. “What?”
“Everyone think of getting into my pants, starting from the customers who devour my form every single night and preposition me all the time. I decline politely and walk away, but it doesn’t stop them from asking to have their way with me every night. Their offers remind me constantly of the reason I decided to flee from Korea.”
“I’m not like them, so don’t generalize. I told you that you don’t know me, so don’t assume things about me.” Jiyong fired angrily this time, partly because he wasn’t expecting Seunghyun to be that open with him after the indifference he directed at him from the start.
What had changed now?
“I’m not supposed to be loved. I’m just meant to be played with and stared at like a piece of fresh meat.” Seunghyun whispered painfully, opening his eyes at last but looking the other way. He wasn’t ready to face Jiyong and see his possible pitying stares.
“What the hell are you talking about?” Jiyong spat and marched to his bed once again. He stood in front of him, but Seunghyun refused to meet his gaze. He stared ahead from him, but Jiyong wasn’t fazed. “Why do you believe in this crap?”
“I don’t care about love anymore. I don’t need love anymore. I’ve been in love and it only broke me to pieces. Coming here made me realistic, so I don’t mind if you stare at me like the rest.” Seunghyun continued his monologue, unaware that his words were infuriating Jiyong so bad.
“I don’t stare at you because I want in your pants.” Jiyong shot angrily. “Okay, maybe I’m so attracted to you, but I’m not that shallow.”
Something flashed inside Seunghyun’s eyes at that comment. It was like he was trying to believe Jiyong, but he was forcing himself not to.
“I don’t see you as a ual object. I stare because I can’t help myself, but if you’ll just perceive me as the rest, I promise you that I’ll stop. And whatever made you believe that you’re not worth it, just get over it. All that ty thoughts aren’t healthy or good for your psyche.” Jiyong said seriously.
Seunghyun was silent during the entire speech. He so wanted to believe him, but it wasn’t that easy.
“You’re moving one step ahead with your marriage to my best friend. It’s your chance to start over, but if you keep thinking this low of yourself, I’m not sure you’ll do better.” Jiyong muttered shaking his head.
“Don’t lecture me as if you’re so perfect.” Seunghyun blurted out before he could stop himself. “I don’t need your pity.”
Jiyong looked as if someone had slapped him. Seunghyun regretted his words the moment he saw Jiyong’s struck features. He means no harm, but here I am acting like an . He thought and was about to open his mouth to apologize because it wasn’t like him to be rude to others. “I’m-“
“-You’re right.” Jiyong stopped him. “I’m not perfect but you have no idea what I’ve been through to be where I am right now. I was just trying to be a friend, but I guess you don’t need me as one.” He added painfully. “I think I should just go.” He said and turned to leave.
Seunghyun winced at his crushed look. Part of him wanted to stop him in his tracks and apologize sincerely, but then the action would just set things right between them and that was something he wasn’t ready for. The fact that Jiyong actually cared about him wasn’t supposed to happen. He didn’t want anyone to care for him anymore because believing that someone did care would make him fall and he refused to fall again. He accepted Heechul’s proposal because Heechul struck him as someone professional. He was only interested in money and that was the kind of people Seunghyun wanted to be around; people who were professional or those who lusted after his body, no emotions involved. He didn’t want to be around people like Jiyong who stared at his soul and tried to heal him with their soft words. He was willing to heal on his own and he wasn’t ready to let anyone inside.
He could definitely want someone like Jiyong and even fall for him hard and fast, but for a bitter soul like him, he needed someone like Heechul.
What if I believe in him and then he would break me and leave? He thought as he watched Jiyong walk away from him. I need someone like Heechul. Jiyong is too dangerous and I can’t have that. He thought determinably and clutched the covers tightly in his hands unaware that his comment plus his forced indifference had just hurt Jiyong like never before.
This latter had fought hard against his disappointment as he walked out of the building. Just my damn luck! He forced himself not to care about anyone for a long time, but then the moment he confessed to be attracted to Seunghyun, he was rejected. That’s what I get for being an idiot. It’s a good thing he’s marrying Heechul. That way I’ll never think of him again. He snorted painfully when he thought that. Who was he kidding? He knew that he would be thinking of Seunghyun now even more than before. To be denied something had always stirred his interest, and the fact that Seunghyun had pushed him away was all the twisted motivation he needed to want him even more.
If not to him, but at least to stir that unfamiliar feeling within his cold heart every now and then.