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Pride

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"The only time your driver went to my house was when I'm dead drunk and probably drooling myself to sleep." Baekhyun whines while spacing out, "I expected a lot better. I imagined far better scenarios but he saw... me probably looking so stu—"

"Will you shut up?"

Baekhyun looks at Kyungsoo, "So did you leave right after you put me to bed?"

Fixing his glasses on the bridge of his nose, Kyungsoo takes a subtle gulp.

"Of course?" he says, sounding slightly defensive that to his luck, Baekhyun barely noticed.

"You didn't stay for a while?" his friend asks that made him even more jittery when images start coming back to his mind.

"We should go..."

Kyungsoo's the one who pulled away first, putting an end to whatever they're doing when he started feeling a hand on his waist. Because of this, Jongin instinctively pulls his hand away, nodding twice even when his eyes lingered on the shorter's swollen lips. They both casually stood up, fixing both their disheveled shirts. Kyungsoo kept his gaze on the floor, especially when he felt a pair of eyes watching him closely.

"Let's go?" Jongin repeats, following right behind him as they left the house.

Kyungsoo couldn't remember how many times he cursed himself on their way out and no one had spoken a word. He was still shocked, a little embarrassed, too. But for some reason, the heaviness that lingered in his chest for the whole day was gone in a snap.

So when they reached the car and he caught his driver's gaze on him, history repeated itself. Only this time, they didn't have to worry about Baekhyun.

"So?"

Soo flinches a little when he realizes Baekhyun is actually present beside him and anticipating a response for the question he can't even remember anymore.

"H-Huh?"

"I was asking if you immediately left my house right after!" Baekhyun hisses in frustration. Kyungsoo has been spacing out a lot lately and it's not cute when they're the only one each other has for company. "Do Kyungsoo, what the fuck is wrong with you?"

"I'm sleepy." he rubs his eyes, coming up with a quick yet lame excuse for his behavior. "But yes, we left right after throwing you on your bed. Do you think I'll waste a minute staring at you?"

The sigh that escaped Baekhyun's lips is definitely out of relief that he's back to his feisty responses.

"You should've just left your driver there." he pouts, earning him a chuckle from Kyungsoo.

"Stop that shit. You know you're not his type."

Baekhyun slightly rolls his eyes, "I'm a little prettier than Soojung though."

The grin on Kyungsoo's face slowly fades. He doesn't answer Baekhyun anymore and unlocks his phone to keep himself busy instead.

"Soo," an org officer walks to where he is with a piece of paper in his hand, "the members have voted and here are the final two. I know you said we should choose but—"

"That's why you should." Kyungsoo raises his brows, "It's your right, choose the lead."

"We know! But... ugh, it's the first time you asked us. Why don't you just choose anyway? It has always been you who decides about the casting. Why are you throwing this to us now?" he almost rolls his eyes, "Anyway, we can't collectively agree on one person so here's the two who got the most votes. The final decision is now yours. All the members are anticipating for that."

Kyungsoo stares at the two names on the paper. One is a freshman girl who he barely knows and the other is Soojung.

"You're making it hard for yourself when we obviously know who the best option is." Baekhyun tells him from behind, "Seriously, Soo? You literally casted Soojung right after her audition piece, did you forget? What's with this sudden democratic voting for the lead?"

The org president's eyes linger on the same name for a little while before inhaling a deep breath as he shrugs.

"Everyone deserves a chance. You said it yourself, it's too early to give her a privilege."

He doesn't look at Baekhyun but he knows pretty well that the other's eyes are narrowing at him.

"I said it's unusual of you to admit you're impressed with a newbie." Baekhyun says before letting out a loud tss.

It's not like I meant it. Kyungsoo thinks to himself, not bothering to say it out loud because everyone here seems to be in awe of the said girl. He looks at her name on the paper once more. Even at the voting from the old staffs, she's leading.

He's still the head, though. It's his choice who to cast.

And he has always been fair.

Kyungsoo bites his lower lip while recalling the last images he had with this girl. He raises a brow before tilting his head up.

"Alright, I've decided."

  

At 4PM, students flock in front of the Performing Arts office, desperately trying to get a glimpse of a single bond paper posted on the door. Even from the inside, Kyungsoo can hear their faint mumbling. There are coos when some of them found out they're casted.

He's used to it. Their yearly production is quite a big deal because it's usually budgeted and talent scouts make time for it. Kyungsoo barely exerts an effort on other activities, except for this one. And being the perfectionist he is, it has always been a yearly success as well.

This year isn't going to be different. He shouldn't even be convincing himself about that anymore.

He lets out a sigh and checks his phone for any new text, but there's none. Soo's lips protruded.

You just kissed him and you're acting like you're impregnated. Shut it.

Of course.

He's not that clingy.

Kyungsoo stares at the door before picking his phone up, typing a message too fast before he could change his mind. But it's a wrong idea. He should've changed his mind. Now he's looking at the sudden text he already sent and grits his teeth in annoyance.

Are you driving today?

He taps his lips with his index finger, staring at his screen intently. Kyungsoo blinks when a response bubble appear after almost a minute.

From: Kim Jongin

I have an early shift at the diner now, do you need to go home already? I can tell Mr. Han.

A small pout unconsciously forms on his lips, he can imagine Jongin trying to reply in between getting ready for work.

So you're not coming?

He blinks once while reading the text he just sent. It took longer for another response to come, in a form of a call that got him flinching on his seat.

"I need to go to an early shift today." Jongin's voice is as deep as it usually is, yet still gentle. "We'll see each other tomorrow... in case you need help for... designs, blueprints."

Soo touches his lip with his finger. Lips that are pursed in a thin line.

"I'm thinking if Baekhyun and I can tag along today." he suggests shamelessly, "He said he wants to try that diner. We can use the car."

Just as he predicted, Jongin sighs from the other line, obviously against this.

"Is it really Baekhyun?"

"You wanna ask him?" Kyungsoo snorts, even when he's not really sure how he'll bribe Baekhyun into this after using him again. "We'll just eat. Why do you push potential customers away?"

"We can see each other tomorrow." his driver proposes again, implying his hidden intentions.

"But he wants to eat there today! Don't you want us there?" he whines, "Why don't you like it when we drop by your work place?"

Jongin sighs again, "Fine. You'll just eat then you'll go home."

The side of Kyungsoo's lips curves, "He probably will." he smiles a little, slightly clearing his throat. "I need help with a few plates and blueprints so I guess... I'll wait for you to finish."

The satisfaction on his face doesn't go away when Jongin falls silent from the other line. It's either he's used to Kyungsoo's agendas or he's just really too intelligent (and up for it) not to bother defying anymore.

"And they're in your apartment?" Jongin asks carefully, "The blueprints?"

Soo bites his lip, "Yeah..." another smile comes out when he hears a hum as an answer, "it's fine, right?"

"Of course..." Kyungsoo's lips protruded when he hears an underlying tone in Jongin's voice, followed by a deep chuckle. "It's not like I have a choice."

He licks his lip just to stop his grin from getting bigger, leaning back on the chair with a huge satisfaction on his face.

"You bet you don't." he says suggestively, "And this can't wait until tomorrow."

As soon as he dropped the call, the door opens and the huge grin on his face falters. Baekhyun narrows his eyes at him suspiciously, sipping his milk tea while walking towards where he is.

"Why do you look like a Cheshire for two seconds there?" he asks while handing Kyungsoo the other milk tea on his hand. He raises a brow when Kyungsoo only shrugs, "You think you can keep a secret from me Do Kyungsoo."

"Let's have dinner tonight." Baekhyun almost chokes on his drink because of the sudden suggestion. He stares at Kyungsoo wide-eyed.

"You think I don't notice how you're hitting on me for the past few weeks." he wiggles his brows.

"You wish." he snaps back, "We're going to my driver's part time job."

Baekhyun pauses on sipping from his straw to smile at him knowingly.

"So you're officially matching us now..." he teases, earning an eye roll from Kyungsoo before he speaks further, "Kidding. I've completely moved on from him now."

Soo chuckles sarcastically.

Baekhyun flashes a sly smile, "So is Soojung coming with us so he can congratulate her personally?"

Kyungsoo's eyes unintentionally turns into a glare, pursing his lips while watching Baekhyun innocently speaking. But the door opens and most of the org members walk in, disrupting the peaceful ambiance with their loud voices and coos. Some of them are picking on the casted members. They walk to where Kyungsoo is and personally thank him, some are teasing him on why they didn't get bigger roles.

Kyungsoo smiles at everyone. Even those who are for sure, disappointed that they didn't get casted. He walks up to them and gives them a reassuring tap on the back. Yes, Soo can be the bratty, popular chaebol student leader but he's cool with his org members. Their dynamics become so much better, especially since he stopped being friends with the bullies that used to intimidate them. Cause why wouldn't they, when he basically sneak in beers for everyone illegally when they get too exhausted with the events?

The room is in a buzz when the door opens again, revealing Soojung. Most of the people look at her, but her gaze roams around before settling on Kyungsoo as soon as she spots him. He looks at her blankly while she blinks rapidly, looking a little stunned.

Kyungsoo looks back to his phone when someone started clapping and some of them followed. The others cooed, including Baekhyun who even stood up before joining the applause.

"I..." Soojung mutters weakly.

"Congrats!"

"Yey, girl!"

"Your first role is a lead one, how unfair is that!"

Kyungsoo keeps himself busy by texting Jongin when the room is filled with joy for Soojung. A joy that wouldn't be there if it wasn't for him.

But of course, he wouldn't be that petty to emphasize that. He chose her because she deserves it, and he's not that bitter to dismiss that. He has never been the type to let a guy get in the way of his professionalism. He's so much more than that.

As soon as he gets a response, he stands up and excuses himself from the crowd. He bids everyone goodbye even when most of them try stopping him from ditching the celebration too early. Soo tells Baekhyun it's time to go, but being the social butterfly the latter is, he tells him to give him a minute that would probably turn to thirty.

So he leaves the room first, texting Jongin to just meet them at the office so he wouldn't have to go here. He'd like to think it's just because it won't be more hassle for his driver but there's just something else. Fortunately, the latter didn't try asking anymore.

He hears footsteps from behind. Thinking it's probably Baekhyun, he doesn't turn around to look. So he flinches a little when there's a gentle clearing of throat close to him, seeing Soojung standing timidly behind him. Kyungsoo gives her a knowing look, but he doesn't smile.

"Uh..." Soojung awkwardly starts off, looking more intimidated than before. If it's because of Kyungsoo's lacking responses, he doesn't know. "I was surprised when... you chose me for the lead role... but thank you."

Kyungsoo tries to be civil, but it's just so hard when it comes to this girl. He doesn't even want to come close to the thought of insecurity, because he's certain that it's not what it is. Because he never experienced such feeling before. He has always been the standout in terms of everything even without trying.

But at the same time, he slowly realizes that this feeling is completely new to him either, so how can he be so sure of the previous point?

He forces a small formal smile, "No worries. We're all impressed by your audition piece, so it's expected."

Why would he feel threatened with a girl who, like everyone else, shouldn't even come close to him? Why?

"Still... it was your decision. And I'm grateful that you chose to trust me with a big production like this." she says with a genuine smile.

Kyungsoo doesn't know what to say anymore, so he nods.

"And sorry if I didn't get the chance to address you in the office last time." Soojung adds, "I didn't... know that you're the Chairman's son."

Now it makes sense why she looks so nice and careful with her words this time. Kyungsoo wants to grin. Does she think he can kick her out of the internship anytime?

Well he sure can, but it's not like he'll do that.

"I don't go around announcing it, so understandable." Soo chuckles lightly.

Soojung sheepishly smiles, "I hope we can be good friends, especially now."

Kyungsoo looks at her, pursing his lips. Her smile fades a little when he doesn't respond immediately.

How do you say no in the nicest way? He thought.

"Sure." he says, his smile looking more like a wince. He figures out he's acting convincingly when Soojung goes back to smiling, "See you next time, then. I should get going now."

It's funny how people like her seem so familiar to him. He already met a lot of the likes with the same exact approach, and this time he can't be fooled.

He turns around, his face back to blank in a snap. Soo starts walking away even if Baekhyun hasn't come out yet.

"Hey, Kyungsoo?" he stops and exhales a breath when Soojung calls him again. Kyungsoo looks back at her, raising a brow when he sees her fiddling her fingers, "I...uh, heard Jongin's your part-time driver too..."

Kyungsoo doesn't face her completely, but the mention of Jongin's name provokes something in him, especially when it comes from her.

"Yes..." Kyungsoo fakes another smile, "and?"

He's irked by the fact that Soojung doesn't seem to get his simple expressions, or she just doesn't care. She even manages to chuckle timidly.

"I know it's weird to ask, but..." she pauses briefly, "do you know... if he's dating anyone? I-I mean... did he mention anything?"

Kyungsoo subtly grits his teeth. Now he's sure that Soojung likes Jongin the same way, and something bitter rushes down his throat.

"Well..." Kyungsoo smiles sarcastically, "did you ask him that yourself?"

She looks slightly taken aback by his response, but she looks down on the floor as if recalling something unpleasant.

"U-Uh... well, he didn't answer me directly that... one time when he was walking me to the bus station and I asked." she looks so bothered by it and Kyungsoo feels suddenly annoyed.

So she showed signs and Jongin just had to mess up like that? Why didn't he answer a simple no and asked her out straight to the point?

He inhales a deep breath when thoughts of what if's enter his mind. If Jongin gave the right answer then things could've gone in a whole different way. That kiss wouldn't have happened, and that alone gives Kyungsoo a whirlwind of emotions.

Soo wonders what Jongin would do if he's hearing this right now. His crush asking these questions about him, obviously interested. What would he want Kyungsoo to answer?

"Nevermind... I—"

"I don't think he is. As far as I know." Kyungsoo says with an indifferent tone. He doesn't miss the way Soojung's eyes light up a little, so Kyungsoo feels the urge to kill the hope that had just started blooming in her.

"But last time I checked, he was making out with someone." Kyungsoo adds, suppressing a grin from forming on his lips. He feels oddly satisfied when Soojung's smile completely falters, "A lot."

She blinks in surprise, obviously not expecting Jongin to be the type of guy.

"Do y-you know her... I mean..." she gulps, "i-if he's dating her?"

Even the fact that she assumes it's a girl doesn't offend Kyungsoo in slightest way. The smile on his face becomes even more gratified.

"I honestly don't know." he shrugs, just in time as Baekhyun comes out of the room. Kyungsoo leaves her with a few vague words, "Jongin is a very secretive man."

 

×


They used Baekhyun's car to go to their company building, where they plan to leave it too. Even if Baekhyun was completely blabbering nonsense while driving, he responded every now and then, a ghost of smile still etched on his face whenever he recalled the look on Soojung's face before he left.

He may have broken her heart with what he told her, but it's true. And it's not a question for him to answer, so he only responded with the way he wanted. I didn't know she'd be a crybaby. He thought to himself while grinning at the window.

Maybe if Jongin told her the direct answer when she asked, then Kyungsoo wouldn't have to slap her with that fact. It's Jongin's fault.

At least she got the lead role, right? Something good still happened to her today.

Kyungsoo grins at Baekhyun as they got out of the car. The latter, completely thinking that it's a response to his stories, mindlessly continues.

They find their way to the underground entrance, where the VIP elevator is. Kyungsoo has always used this elevator every time he goes here because he doesn't like the unnecessary attention at the main lobby. The brat is here again. He already memorized the employees' look. It's not like he likes seeing them either, so he asked for an access here even when it's supposedly for his father's important dealers and clients.

So when they reach the exclusive parking, he gets taken aback by the amount of tall guards in it. There are also multiple black SUVs parked, almost identical to each other. There are men unfamiliar to him. And even if they're simply standing near the cars, he can't stop the uneasiness building in his chest. Baekhyun slows down from walking, but Kyungsoo heaves deeply and walks straight inside.

A big muscular man blocks his way, looking at him coldly.

"You're not allowed here."

Kyungsoo narrows his eyes in disbelief. Even if he's starting to get irrationally nervous, his curiosity gets the best of him.

He looks behind him where Baekhyun is standing, looking terrified, too. He blinks at Kyungsoo.

"Maybe we should just... use the main one." he mumbles at Kyungsoo while looking at the big men slowly surrounding them. He clutches on Kyungsoo's arm, "Soo..."

Kyungsoo looks around him sternly before facing Baekhyun.

"Go back to the lobby. Wait for Jongin there." he says and Baekhyun frantically shakes his head when he realized he's asking him to leave him here, "I'll call my Dad, Baekhyun. Go."

Baekhyun looks so hesitant but when another man takes a step towards him, he takes quick steps away from Kyungsoo, going back outside while looking behind every now and then to check on him.

When he gets farther, Kyungsoo throws a sharp look at the man who blocked his way.

"Use the main elevator."

"You don't know who I am?" the man creases his brows at him, "What are you doing here and who the hell are you in the first place? Why are you in my building?"

He tilts his chin up with demand. Despite looking so small and frail compared to the men surrounding him, he bravely raises his brow at them.

Soo noticed that they're all in the same black shirts. No one is looking smug like he expected, just blankly looking at him. He gets even more nervous.

And then every rumor that he's been hearing, he's been eagerly trying to repress in his mind, comes back to him in a snap. He looks back to the heavily tinted SUVs nearby, stunned.

"Use the other elevator, boy." the man repeats with the same tone. Kyungsoo's chest heaves deeply, his hand a little shaky as it finds its way to his pocket to get his access ID.

"My father owns this building." he subtly gulps while flashing them his ID, "I'm Do Kyungsoo. I have access to the VIP elevator so get the fuck out of my way."

The man maintains a blank expression. He barely glanced at his ID, but his cold eyes linger on his face. Kyungsoo holds his breath while waiting for a response because now that he figures it out even more, he's cornered by unfamiliar, grim-looking men. He's feisty, but not to the point of provoking them to a combat.

Then the man simply nods once at the men around him, and they collectively take a step back. Just as Kyungsoo lets out a silent sigh of relief, two of them hold him by the elbows while walking inside.

"Fuck—what are you doing? Get off!"

He tries shaking their hands off of him but they're too strong. The man talking to him already has a small smile on his face, without any trace of humor.

"They're just going to guide you to the elevator, Sir." Kyungsoo grits his teeth while still trying to resist but the grip around him only becomes harder, "Strict orders."

Kyungsoo doesn't understand. It's their building, their company, and this is the first time he saw these people here. Yet it seems like he's the intruding one.

As much as he wants to stay clueless and wait until his father clarifies everything, an idea is building up in his mind, and he doesn't like it one bit. It has always been impossible for him, and it should stay impossible.

The SUV from the farthest corner opens, and even if they're already getting closer to the elevator, Kyungsoo manages to take a subtle look at it. His eyes widen, breath hitching with what he saw. He blinks rapidly when the two men holding him grip him tighter to make him face in front, realizing what he's trying to do.

They almost push him inside, causing him to slightly lose balance. Kyungsoo spaces out even when the elevator has already closed. There's no one there but him but he feels suffocated. He breathes through his lips.

What was that?

"Sir?"

A woman's voice brings him back to reality. He looks at the floor LCD, showing that he's on the right floor already. Kyungsoo tries to blink his glistening eyes.

"S-Sir..." the woman stutters when Kyungsoo wordlessly walks past her, taking the hall leading to his father's office. "Sir, the Chairman has an important—"

"I don't care."

Words jumble in his mind, badly wanting to be thrown at his father as soon as possible. Kyungsoo doesn't knock even when the other secretaries try to beg him from behind. His jaw is hardly clenched. He opens the door.

"W-We tried to warn him, Sir..." a secretary starts off, afraid for her job when the Chairman frowns upon seeing his son.

But Kyungsoo looks at the other man in front of his father, wearing the same color as the men from the underground parking. He gives Kyungsoo a smug look before facing the Chairman again.

"That's it for now." Kyungsoo hates how his father sounded so careful. Unlike any of his usual clients, he only nods at this man and didn't say anything else as he leaves. Then he sharply looks at his son, who's following the man with his gaze.

"Leave us." his father tells the stiffening employees.

Kyungsoo stares at him with bloodshot eyes.

"Soo, have you completely lost your manners? Or you just don't respect me at all?" he asks through gritted teeth, "You show everyone how rotten and spoiled you are—"

"What were those... in the underground entrance?" he asks weakly. The way his father's face relaxes into shock doesn't go unnoticed, "I saw guns... lots of cars filled with guns... and— what the fuck was that?"

His father's shoulders heave as he pants.

"Why were you there—"

"The rumors are true, a-aren't they?" Kyungsoo breathes, "You're involved... You're into some illegal smuggling and shit Dad, what the fuck are you doing?"

His father avoids his gaze.

"Stop being stupid, Soo. You're imagining thi—"

"I'm not stupid. I know what I fucking saw!" he snarls back, "Don't try denying it for fuck's sake. How could you even do that, Dad? We're one of the richest families in this country and you still have to be involved with that? You're putting everything we have at risk just because you can't be contented!"

"Kyungsoo!"

"What will happen if you get caught?! What will happen to us? Your wife and kids, did you even think about that?!" Soo doesn't even care anymore. He stares straight into his father's eyes, condemning him for everything. "You're the stupid one here!"

Unlike what he expected, his father doesn't respond anymore. He only watches Kyungsoo while the latter lets it all out, breathing heavily after shouting. For a moment, he thought he's imagining things when he sees remorse from the old man's eyes but he blinks once and it's still there. Kyungsoo grits his teeth while harshly wiping his eyes.

"I-It's all about the money... isn't i-it?" Soo asks shakily, "You never cared about us. It's all about money for you."

He never expected he'd hate his father even more. That he'd hate this life even more.

The chairman stands up, looking at him before exhaling a deep breath.

"You have everything because of the choices I make." he gently tells Kyungsoo, "You're overthinking everything, Soo... One day, you'll completely understand. But right now I don't expect you to."

Another tear escapes Kyungsoo's eye, chuckling bitterly when his father doesn't even bother denying it anymore. A little bit of hope that was left in him completely crumbles down. His father doesn't even bother explaining.

He has everything, it's true. Because he's always been forced to take everything thrown to him, even if he doesn't even want it at all. It's like forcing him to swallow all of it until he throws up. He's tired of it. Kyungsoo has everything he never truly wanted.

And he doesn't even get to complain because he has no right.

Once you're exhausted, you're ungrateful.

"Go home, Soo." his father tells him weakly, walking past him even if he's in the middle of heavy tears.