Devil XIV

Devil Confrère
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I thought I could finish it earlier but work during year end is always hell, I can't TT

I hope it's worth the wait!

 

***

 

MARK HAD NOT SEEN Jinyoung for the whole week after the teary kiss, since the Tax Convention was conveniently stretched from Monday to Friday. After all this time, with particular watchful eyes, arriving at the office without a set of dark brown orbs pinned at him was a bit unusual. It’s not unwelcomed, he still enjoyed it. It's kind of like being free from neck pain. Aside from one thing in which he kept glancing in a certain direction, only to be reminded that the desk was empty.

This was probably the perfect example of what he had in mind during their kiss last week. Jinyoung became an essential part of his everyday life without him realizing it. It’s as though he was programmed to a certain task and it wouldn’t work without him in it. It never occurred to his consciousness before, not even a second passed his mind. But when it came, it hit him like a truck.

While he was an adventurous guy, and used to new experiences, the whole new acknowledgement making him feel like standing on the edge. He had never been this high. To him who was a mere human, the way brain worked was befuddling. It's completely out of control despite it’s his own brain.

It’s not like he missed Jinyoung. Definitely not. He’s just used to seeing him on his desk, with occasional daggers thrown at him. It had only been five days, who missed a coworker after five days? No one. Who stared at a photo of their coworker every day? No one. Certainly not Mark.

“Markie, are you going overtime?”

Mark’s body went rigid from the sudden interruption of thoughts. “Ah, don’t scare me like that, Jacks.”

Jackson looked apologetic. “Sorry.”

“Um, yeah, I gotta finish this report first. I’m not having it haunting my weekend.” He pointed to the computer screen, smiling sourly.

“Ah, I see, so no Friday Night drinks? I’m going with Bambam, and for once I think it’d be fun with more people.”

“Nah, I'll take a rain check. Enjoy your date.”

“Okay.” Jackson bobbed his head. “You’ll be the last one here, though. Everyone went home already.”

“I know. I actually thought you have gone home too.”

“I was in the conference room.”

“Oh okay. Enjoy your weekend then.”

“Thanks, Markie.” Jackson grinned, saluting. “Oh, before I forget. Minjoo is going to resign.”

“Huh?”

“Minjoo. Jinyoung’s girlfriend.”

Mark rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I know.” Resign? Why?

“You must be asking why, huh?” Jackson chuckled. “But sorry, that’s all the info I got from HR.”

“Oh, yeah, yeah. No problem.” Mark didn’t know anything about Minjoo, that’s a fact, other than being Jinyoung’s girlfriend and which unit she worked. It’s almost impossible to know whether she had been grooming the decision to resign since long ago or, because of their talk? He wouldn’t call it a tense talk, but it’s certainly not eventful. Had she told Jinyoung about it?

Jackson bent down, leaning closer, like really close. “Maybe it’s your chance to sweep Jinyoung off of his feet?”

“I-huh, no! Why would I do that? Besides, Minjoo resigning doesn't mean they broke up. People usually resign because they got a better job.” He never disclosed any information about what he and Jinyoung actually did and surely never admitted that he wanted them to break up. If Minjoo had thoughts about them thus decided to sashay away, it’s all on her. Right?

“I smell something fishy though,” Jackson smirked, eyes glinting.

“No, Jackson, no fishy,” Mark said, sighing. “Now, go on, you said you have a date. Shoo! Shoo!” Minjoo could resign all she wanted. His theory was still valid, her resigning didn’t mean she’s breaking up with Jinyoung.

“Okay! Okay!” Jackson stepped out of his cubicle. “I’m saying, now that you’ll have a chance to be with Jinyoung more, maybe you can finally knock some sense into that little head of him. Use it. As a relationship expert”—he puffed his chest out—“I noticed that there’s something off with their relationship. Other than the fact that he ing blew you, though. I mean, if that’s not a dead giveaway, I don’t know what else.”

Mark didn’t react, gazing at the office carpeted floor instead. Thankfully Jackson didn’t push more, leaving him alone in the Tax Unit workspace. He would never do that, stealing someone’s lover only because they’re not together in one building anymore. Yes, he might have fallen for Jinyoung, but as long as the tie hadn’t broken then it’s unjustified. As he told himself over and over, what they had now was enough. It’s not the norm, obviously, but people all over the world still did it anyway. He was just another human succumbing to lust. Just like the others.

As much as he was willing to fight it, in the end he let the bubbly feeling inside him arise. It's good news, he supposed? He didn’t have to see them talking together, or catch them kissing at the emergency exit. So what now? Woo Jinyoung? him day and night? “Aaargggh!” He ruffled his hair frustratedly. The mood to finish the work had dissipated into thin air. Which was bad because he had to finish it tonight. He would rather stay till midnight at the office than work on the weekend. Focus Mark, focus.

Forcing himself to stay in the lane proved to be fruitful, though. He managed to make progress, patting himself mentally for the prospect of a work-free weekend. He was on fire, almost finishing the report in half of the expected time when suddenly the room was flooded by the bright lights, striking his eyes. Somebody turned all the lights on. Blinking to adjust the sudden brightness, two figures came into his vision.

“Declan? Jinyoung?”

“Yo, Mark!” Declan waved, approaching closer.

“What are you guys doing here?” He looked between Jinyoung and Declan back and forth, confused.

“I want to see your office!”

“He insisted on coming here, despite me telling him that you might have already gone home,” Jinyoung said flatly.

“And Mark is still here!” Declan exclaimed, clapping with grin on his face.

“Are you guys done? The convention?”

“Yes.” Both Declan and Jinyoung answered in unison."It's almost 8.30 if you haven't noticed."

“Dec, we’ll see each other tomorrow, you don’t have to come here, it’s already past work hours and you might be tired from the long- week listening to bullcrap.” Mark had promised his friend to take him to Times Square, they'd go on Saturday.

The ia guy cracked up. “Bullcrap indeed. But uh, Mark, I rescheduled my flight tomorrow. My Mum is coming to Richmond and I have gotta be home earlier. We can’t hang out tomorrow.” Opposite to what he just let out, his mouth went downturned projecting disappointment.

“Oh.”

“That’s why I come here! It’s Friday night and we can still have fun till morning!” 

“Mark is tired and he wants to go home. Right, Mark?”

“Uh…” Well, he did want to go home, right after he finished the work. But at the same time, Friday night with Declan sounded tempting. Everything aside from work on Friday night was tempting, to be honest. “Yeah, but you can call me, I can go to the hotel and we can go from there.”

“Why would you do that?” Jinyoung shot, looking unamused.

Mark drew his eyebrows together. “Excuse me?”

“Why would you pick Declan from the hotel when you’re tired and you clearly still have work to do since you’re still here at this hour. You don’t have to spoil him, Mark. I even had to take him here. He can get an Uber or something, or hang out by himself. He's an adult. You already took him out last Sunday, paid for his meal and—”

“What the hell??” Mark cut in, triggered. He had a lot on his plate in these past months. And it’s always about Jinyoung, Jinyoung and Jinyoung. The said man had made his head spin in confusion, dipped in an abyss, into a territory he had never seen before. While it didn’t come out as glaringly as he thought, apparently it took a toll on him. He barely managed to contain his own revelation of what he felt about this coworker, swimming in what-ifs and emotional battle. Who was he to determine what's what in his life? “What are you babbling about?! It’s up to me what I want to do. If I want to take him out then I’ll take him out! If I want to spend all my time with him, then I’ll spend all my time with him! I don’t even know why you complained about taking him here, as you said he can get an Uber to get here. No one asked you to come with him!”

“Mark…”

“No, Dec, Jinyoung is way out of line. He doesn’t get a say on what we can do and what we can’t do. We can hang out every day and he can’t say no. He literally talked about you, Dec! I’m tired of your ed up jealousy, Jinyoung!”

Jinyoung’s eyes went big. “Jeal—”

“You’re jealous of Declan, you’re always jealous of him! I like being with him. He’s fun to be around with, he’s funny, he’s nice, he’s kind. But most importantly, he’s not passive-aggressive and he’s not a hypocrite like you!” He spat at Jinyoung’s face. “I will tell you this now and I will keep telling it to your face until it gets stuck in your messed up head!”

“Mark, it’s okay…” Declan said softly, squeezing his arm gently. “Jinyoung was just stating his opinion.”

Mark scoffed, looking away. “His opinion, my . His sulky can go to hell.” He was actually surprised by the way he reacted. All he knew was he needed to get something out of his chest. Strangely, it didn’t make him feel better though.

“I-I gotta go,” Jinyoung stuttered, already turning his body but Declan caught his arm.

“Jinyoung, Mark didn’t mean it, okay? He’s just stressed from work. We all do. Let’s have fun together.”

“I wanna go home, let me go.”

Mark winced at the shaky voice, a wash of guilt knocked past him. Should he lash out like that? In front of Declan? Did he just humiliate Jinyoung? But it’s the truth though. He told no lies.

“Mark,” Declan’s voice sounded desperate, begging.

“You heard him, he wants to go home.”

“Yeah, but—”

“Dec," he warned, attempting to make his friend stop driving him to the corner. Stop. Stop. Stop. The disappearing footsteps of Jinyoung stabbed his ears unforgivingly.

Declan exhaled audibly. “Mark, what was that?”

“You saw what it was.”

“Do you have to be that harsh though?”

“Harsh? Don’t you get tired of his unexplainable sulky and jealous behavior? He’s too much!”

“I told you from the beginning, I’m okay with it. Because I know why he’s like that. And I know you know too. I mean, I know you have realized something now. I don’t exactly know what’s happening between you two but the aura has changed completely from the last time I met you guys. For the better, by the way. Did you see the way he looked at you when we’re at the cafe?”

“No…”

“He adores you, okay. I’m not talking about you being handsome and , but it’s like you’re a God and he’s alive to worship you. It’s literally heart eyes.”

Did Jinyoung do that? “You might have misunderstood it.”

“I’d think so if Jaebeom didn’t mention it to me first,” Declan revealed. “On the way back to the hotel he told me the exact same thing. I was surprised too. And he got it on video, in case you wanna see it yourself.”

“I-I don’t wanna see it.” Where’s Jaebeom when he needed him the most!

“I stand corrected to what I said last month, okay. And I truly don’t want to be the one telling you this, but you’re stubborn as heck. He doesn’t like you. He loves you.”

Mark’s whole body tingled like there were a hundred switches inside and now it was being one by one. “That’s not possible.”

“Why not? Because he has a girlfriend? Mark, millions of people out there are in some kind of relationship with someone they don’t love. It’s happening every single day. You’re not a special case. It’s not impossible to love someone that isn’t your partner.”

Love? Jinyoung loved him? But they’re only buddies! “T-then it’s his problem for being in a relationship with someone he doesn’t l-love. Don’t drag me into this.”

Declan snorted. “You’re one hell of a tough nut to crack, huh? Are you going to keep denying what you feel?”

“Yeah, if he loves me then it’s on him. I can’t do anything.”

“You can and you should.”

“Why?”

“Are you seriously asking me that?”

“Yeah—”

“Because you love him too, silly. Oh my god, Mark.”

“I love him?”

“Yes. Now ask again, ask yourself. I know you already have the answer inside this.” Declan prodded Mark’s temple.

Did he love Jinyoung? Last weekend he realized that he might be falling in love with his coworker. But loving Jinyoung? That meant he’s already at the bottom of the well and had reached his destination. That’s bizarre. When did it get to this? Weren’t they just ing?

“Mark?”

“Do you still want to go out?” he mumbled grumpily. He gave up on the work, it seemed like he’d have to work on the weekend. That's fine, he didn’t ing care. Not now. “Let’s go.”

“What? No, I don’t—”

“Well, I want to. I need a drink. Or two drinks. If you don’t want to then I’ll go by myself.”

Declan let out a defeated sigh. “Okay, okay. Maybe you do need a drink. Come on.”

 

 

***

 

 

Mark could have missed the call from Jaebeom if he didn’t take the phone out of his pocket to check the time. Whatever it was his sub-unit wanted to tell must be quite important if the persistent buzz was any indication.

“Yeah, boss?”

“Mark, you won’t believe what I just heard from Youngjae!” Jaebeom blurted out as soon as the line connected.

“Who’s Youngjae?”

“Tsk. My boyfriend, wit. I’ve told you many times. And where are you? Why is it so loud?”

“Boss, I’m not in the mood. Can you tell me what you wanna tell me on Monday?” Or perhaps not ever.

“It’s about Jinyoung.”

“More reason for you not to ever tell me anything.”

“HI, MAAARRKKK!!!”

Mark was one hundred percent positive that his eardrum had just exploded. The booming voice pierced through him like a spear, making his ears ring. “What the f—”

“MARK, THIS IS YOUNGJAE, JAEBEOM’S BOYFRIEND.”

Yes, the music blaring in the club was deafening, and it’s difficult to hear through a phone, but whoever this Youngjae guy was, didn't have to blast his voice like that. “Can you talk normally? If you can’t then I’m hanging up now.” He didn’t want to talk with anyone in the first place. Even Declan had been whining about his dismal mood.

“Wait! I can! I’m sorry, I got too excited! I’ve been wanting to meet any of Jaebeom’s friends from his office.” Youngjae laughed. Mark wasn’t going to lie and said that it wasn’t some kind of outlandish, in an adorable way, one that’s contagious. Too bad he was too much in deep right now to get infected.

“Yeah, okay. What’s up?”

“You’re in a relationship with Jinyoung, right?”

Why was he asking that? Why did Jinyoung follow him everywhere? Wasn’t it enough that he’d been tormenting Mark’s mind 24/7? “I’m not.”

“But Jaebeo—”

“If you don’t have anything else to say—”

“My cousin is his friend!”

Mark frowned, although his interest was piqued. “So?”

“Jaebeom told me about your, umm, your situation with Jinyoung. As soon as he mentioned Minjoo’s name I knew that this Jinyoung was my cousin’s friend who had to date his brother’s girlfriend.”

“I don’t follow.”

“Kai, uh my cousin, told me about his friend sometime around last year, that his friend—Jinyoung—dated his brother’s girlfriend after he went missing, leaving her and everything.”

Mark’s stomach stirred, Declan who sat across him raised his eyebrows from curiosity. “I-I, uh, what did you say?” Jinyoung dated Minjoo because his brother ran away?

“Minjoo was originally Jinyoung’s brother’s girlfriend, but one day he just disappeared. Rumour said that his parents asked Jinyoung to take his brother’s place to kind of ease the family's predicament,” Youngjae revealed. “Minjoo was pregnant when Jinyoung’s brother left him. She then had a miscarriage, and I guess that’s when Jinyoung stepped in.”

“That’s ridiculous.” Who did that anymore? This was not 1900s! “Well, if Jinyoung likes her then I don’t see why not.” He might sound calm, but the hurricane ripping in him was nowhere near it. The info might be horrendous, Minjoo had a miscarriage! But this was surely a game-changer.

“Could be. But he likes you, doesn’t he? Doesn’t that make him gay? I mean, as far as I know, Jinyoung wasn’t the one who took the initiative to date her. It’s his parents, remember?”

Why did Youngjae come and preach to him? He didn’t need it. He didn’t even know him. The alcohol had already teased his right mind, a couple more glasses of whiskey would get him to forget this misfortune that was his life. “Don’t listen to whatever crap Jaebeom told you.”

“Maybe he doesn’t want you to know that he dated her just to help her cope?”

Seriously, next time he met Jinyoung he’d tell him to get his brain checked, he might have a brain dead or something. Because, what’s that logic? Why would a gay guy date their brother’s girlfriend?? Who the felt responsible for what their sibling did? Did his parents come from the past or something?

“Mark?” It’s Jaebeom’s voice. He must have spaced out so long for him to take over the phone from Youngjae. “Did you get it?”

“Um, Jaebeom, can we talk later? I don’t feel good. I think I drank too much. Okay, bye.” He hung up the phone without hearing approval from the sub-unit head.

How legit was that information? Could it be that Youngjae’s cousin mistaken Jinyoung for his other friend? How close was Youngjae’s cousin with Jinyoung anyway?

“Mark?”

“Hm?”

“You look pale,” Declan commented with a look of concern.

“Yeah, I, uh, I think I need some water.”

“Do you want me to get it?”

“Can you?” Mark had lost all his energy. He didn’t know what to do anymore. “Thanks,” he added after Declan said okay.

Did Jinyoung date her because he’d been keeping his feelings for her and then finally able to act it out? Or was it purely pity and misplaced responsibility? If it was the latter, did he love Minjoo now? A lot of times, even when a couple started with no love, being together for some time nurtured one’s heart into loving the other. On the other side of the page, if Jinyoung did not love Minjoo, did he love him?

 

 

***

 

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