Actions

Work Header

Notes On A Conditional Seoul Gentleman Escort's Form

Chapter Text

I love Seoul, Joshua Hong wrote on his laptop, thinking back to a morning two weeks ago when it had been pouring down rain and he was under an umbrella trying to move through the city CBD, people crashing into him and nearly trampling one another, the overcrowded population desperate just to get to their destinations, unhampered. Its rudeness, its lack of community, its impatience. I love Seoul the most when it rains. But most of all I love the anonymity; we all look the same, we all have the same last names, we all have the same purpose - getting through out lives.


The first thing you should know about me is that I'm a whore. In a sickening world of children in bikini's and Grandmother's in thigh-high fuck-me boots, the surest way to tell of a male prostitute is to look at the designer suit, the equally sickening pretty-boy expression. Watch him locate the lifts, ride past reception as they gawp at the demi-god that walked across the floor. Look like you know where you're going, walk quickly, don't attract too much attention. Be attractive but forgettable; don't stand out. You should also know that this isn't the real me

 

----------------------------------

 

Joshua groaned, waking up from his sleep as his alarm clock went off. "It's morning again..." He said to him, getting up and turning off the alarm as it continued to beep chirpily, the sound going through his head. 


Escort, man-whore, prostitute, molly, sex-worker, gigolo, hookers, slappers - I don't care what you call me. That's just the semantic. 


Joshua kept the curtains in his house shut all except for the blind over the kitchen sink which he raised eight inches, and the one in the sitting room, which he opened about a foot. 


There aren't as many different types of male prostitutes as there are with the "working girls" who are as different as each individual person on the planet. All male prostitutes are split into three sections depending on their work - are they gay prostitutes, or do they cater specifically for women, and, finally, are they heterosexual and homosexual happy? Once you've organized your three sections, you've got the pockets. Gay prostitutes either act like they are straight, they are ultra feminine ultra ridiculous drag queens in Calvin Klein underwear, or they are masculine, heavy muscle guys who are usually the ones who dress up as fire-fighters, doctors, police officers, and James Bond. And then you have another three pockets for the heterosexual male prostitutes; they are usually either complete Mummy boys, or tough, intelligent men who might also be alot into the business of male sex work. And, then, there's the third pocket for heterosexual male prostitutes. These ones are the smooth, sensual, every woman's dream man. Finally, the hetero and homo happy, which come in together as one - all six pockets from the former two categories or converse as one under the hetero and homo happy male sex-work brand


Joshua checked his phone to see messages from his Mother and Father who wanted him to come for a visit next time he was free, and a text from his neighbours next door - a couple in their mid forties who had a five year old daughter called Alice who was gorgeous - who apologised for any noise last night due to a child with chickenpox and a dog that decided to destroy the house while they had to take Alice to the hospital. 


Now, I'll tell you about me. Upfront, I wasn't abused by a relative, I have never been addicted to drugs or alcohol, I came from a happy, financially well-off background, I've got no children to support as a single parent - except, sometimes baby-sitting the daughter of some friends of mine. With me, she always sees the inside of some place her parents would have a fit over purely due to the entrance fee. 


"Fuck!" Joshua scoffed as his phone rang as he just flushed the toilet, and he already had a shower running.


I'm very high-class which means I charge by the hour, and I charge alot


"Hey - yes, hi, sorry about that. Of course, thank you for letting me know. Thanks, bye." The call had been from his electricity company saying he would be without power from lunch-time until eight o' clock that night due to maitencence work on the powerlines in the immediate area.


So why do I do it? Well, I love sex, and I love being my own boss and being able to earn my own money - a lot of it, twice the average wage - without having to pay as much tax on it, have someone remind me constantly about superannuation, and have to put up with a boss and a office environment, say, that would have consequences where I bring an axe to work one day and kill everyone in the vicinity. I made £145,000 the year before, and £285,000 last year - just from sex. And I know you don't think I actually enjoy the sex, but, trust me, I do. 


I'm not completely self-employed. I have an agent who gets me all my clients. She's an ex-brother Madam from Dresden; her Mum being a Fraulein. I trust her, and I'm grateful to her. All the clients she sources, I have accepted. Clean, straight forward men who have the manners usually to not fuck you until your unconscious, injure you while the sex is being performed, and never a client that has been an arsehole. She takes thirty-five percent commission from my earnings.


"Two lovely new gentlemen for you today." Gerda crooned on the phone as Joshua dried his body, his phone by the sink on speaker-phone.


"Ok."


"An out-call for this evening and a in-call for this morning."


"When is the one for this morning?"


"Ten 'o' clock."


"It's three minutes to ten now." Joshua said.


"Is it?"


"You know it is, Gerda." Joshua laughed. "I need at least five minutes after I get out of the shower, yeah?"


"Well, hurry up then, sweetheart." Gerda replied.


"Quick, tell me - did he specify bondage or me wearing women's underwear?"


"Possibly to the bondage."


"Oh, fuck." Joshua hung up the call, and raced out of the bathroom.


That's another thing. When I'm at work, I'm specifically a homosexual male gigilo. And I'm not one of the faerie's, or one of the body-builders. I'm the best sort; the sort where clients come back and back and back, again and again, for more. Specifically because I'm not a faerie or a body-builder. I'm the best sort of a gay man; a gay that acts like a straight, heterosexual man.


Joshua quickly sprayed on deoderant, and rubbed QV cream over his shoulder, chest, stomach, hands, arms, back and neck. He didn't bother putting any clothes on. It was his style to answer clients naked at the door anyway; depending on which ones they were. For Seong-hun - genuinely handsome and with wonderful peronsality, he was client in his late forties with a scar on his nose from where he had a nose-ring in his youth - Joshua always answered the door in a two-sizes-too-big tank-top shirt and women's stay-up stockings, black as the ace of spades. Seong-hun was his favourite client, no matter mind the stockings part. Joshua genuinely got hard for Seong-hun whenever he turned up, and three other clients that came in quick succession on the favourites list. Seong-hun at the top, then Hyung-Woo - a thirty-six year old undertaker who preferred it if Joshua had pubic hair, but gave him a kiss and said he didn't mind when Joshua said to him, "Sorry, bald as of lately". He was followed by Min-ho, thirty-four, who had become a success as a portrait photographer, painter, and art restorer in France, and now had made a family business out of it; he had three sons and four daughters, who he proudly and happily talked to Joshua about.


Then, last but not least, was Kaito, the seventeen year old son of a South-Korean insurance businessman who had come under the seductive spell of a Miko - a female Japanese Shintoist Shaman. Kaito lived with his Father in the Autumn and Winter in Seoul, but in the Summer and Spring he lived with his Mother in the Japanese Alps.


Out of all of his twenty-three clients, those four were the ones that made stars explode inside his mind.


I live in the Seongbuk Dong district of Seoul; this area is old money, old blood, old world. Duty, hierarchy, nepotism, with their grandchildren - selfish and proud, bright, white, metal and electric, employers of Scandinavian architects and British interior designers. Anyone reading this from the Seongbuk Dong area might be scandalized at the thought a male prostitute could be living next door to their grandparents, or maybe he was the man who bought the house down the lane.


But, I have rules. Rule One: keep life and job separate. For example I have two I-phones - work I-phone and personal I-phone. Never mix the two up. I have doors closed off to the private rooms of my house; my kitchen, sitting-room, study, gym, and spare bedrooms - one of them being the one I sleep in at night. The master bedroom is the professional room; the bonking room. Even my wardrobe. One half is Joshua, the other half is Jisoo.


"Jisoo -" The man stopped and stared open mouthed down at Joshua's thin, fatless figure. Everything line, every shadow cast in his collarbones and his hip-bones and cheekbones.


"Lovely to meet you, come in." Joshua said softly, entwining his finger's through the man's and bringing him indoors. The second Joshua clapped eyes on him, he worked out what he was; he was a bit like Min-ho. Tall, grey-haired, family man, would be nice to animals. Joshua would say he had never been married, and no hint of the silly sentiment about the pale ring mark on the tanned hands and fingers of a married man. This client would want it slow and luxurious but as hot as hell. Not to far off from Min-ho, even though this client was in his mid-fifties, and had quite a lined complexion.


Rule Two: any hooker knows to never use their real name. At work, my name is Jisoo Wilde. Why a Yeong-eo name? Because I don't - even for work - to use another surname despite my real surname "Hong". Hong in Yeong-eo (literally meaning "English", the term is used anything Western in Seongbuk Dong) means "to be a wild bird, great, vast, free". That's why I picked Wilde (spelt the English-Norman way)


Joshua sat him down on the bed in the master bedroom, the bed freshly made up in sheets of a bone, cream and coffee-coloured palate, the bone-coloured curtains finishing off the staple with the polished wood floor and the dustless 1930's gentleman-style Yeong-eo furniture. The furniture always gets them, Joshua thought privately to himself, happy. Joshua gave him a glass of white-wine, and smiled as the man handed him the payment upfront.


Rule Three: Always stay in control, especially when naked and the hour or however many booked hasn't started yet. They sit, I stand. They drink, I don't. I always sit them down and get the money first in a brown paper envelope.


Joshua walked into the kitchen and checked the notes in the envelope, coming to a total of £890. He was wanted for two hours then.


Rule Four: Safety. Always check in with the agency that there is no problems, and the client is willing, mannered, and behaving. If I say on the phone, "Don't make that Vodka too strong", it means there is a problem. It's my way of telling my agent that's she's getting too big for her boots and needs to screw her head back on to her shoulders. Another party of safety is knowing that even as a hooker and as a male hooker, there's no shame in having to strangle someone with a bondage cord, or hit them with something if the situation arises. Getting a security person or policeman to get them out, either, is nothing to be ashamed of if it cannot be managed personally


"Everything you need is in here." Joshua brought out towels and a fresh tooth-brush in its packet with toothpaste to the client, still sitting on the bed, and pointed over to the en-suite bathroom door. He left the room so the man could wash.


Rule Five: Hygiene. Mine and his. This is how if you're clever, you can fuck men all of your life an never get one single STD, or the worst ones, the dangerous ones; Syphilis or AID's. While the client is in the shower, I've usually got about ten or fifteen minutes to do my preparation. Sort out a hard-on, which I don't have to get my hands dirty for. I've had the best sex dreams in the world brought to life. Sometimes, I get paid to do the things I've always wanted to do, and the things other people have always wanted to do. Second task; get wet. If the pre-come doesn't happen plentiful enough depending on me, the client, or the memory/dream, and whether or not the client wants me to have clothes on at the start, I massage lube into the fabric of the underwear. When you're wet, the job is half-way accomplished. Third task; loosen up for the anal sex. And, as for the condoms - well, that goes without saying. And, last but not least, despite your first impressions and opinions, work out what the client actually wants as fast as you can, then give it to him


Joshua walked into the en-suite just as the man had finished towelling himself off, and stood there awkwardly with the towel around his waist. He didn't immediately notice Joshua - lost in his thoughts - until Joshua's arms snaked around him, and he pressed a kiss down to the top of the man's shoulder, by his neck.


"Come with me..." Joshua took off the towel around the man's waist, and led him to the bed. "What do you want me to call you?"


"My name - my actual name - is Sung Charles." The man said as he laid back against the pillows on the bed, and he sucked in a deep breath as Joshua straddled him.


Charles was tall, a head taller than Joshua, and slightly over-weight but on him it just looked like volume; the weight didn't fall in rolls. He had hairy legs but a shaven face, chest and underarms. 


"Tell me what you fantasize about?" Joshua asked in English.


Charles laughed. "I knew there was an American accent in there. American language teacher, eh, but, what do you mean?" His English was British-accented.


"Something that turns you on." Joshua implored. He gyrated against Charles's length beneath his arse, and it made the older man gasp.


"This." He replied.


"Where are we doing this?" Joshua coaxed Charles to use him imagination; the scope of fantasy. "Where are you fucking me?"


"Oh." The realization dawned on Charles along with the feeling of his penis slipping inside Joshua, where it was hot and tight, the lube making it slick. "Outside." He decided.
"In an alleyway?" Joshua asked, beginning to ride him. He leant over a bit and whispered against Charles's mouth before kissing him, "In a dirty alley?"


"Erm...alright."


"On a beach?" Joshua tilted his head to the side, looking down at Charle's through half-closed eyes as her murmured suggestions. "In a field?"


"On a Scottish farm?" Joshua nearly laughed as suddenly Charles came to life as he had the older man entirely, working it out. Charles moaned underneath him as Joshua rode him. 


"Oh," Joshua moaned. "Fields on a farm. I'm a scottish farm-hand called something like...Duncan." He and Charles both laughed for a moment at the absurdity, before it melted away in the sex and Charles wanted that.


"Can you see the thistles and the gorse in the glens and the Pagans having a punch-up with the local Anglicans?" Charles said aloud, his eyes squeezed tight shut. This time around, more of Joshua's weight fell onto Charles - making his penis slide in deeper, and more weight on his testicles - as Joshua's hands flew to his mouth to stop himself bursting out laughing.


Joshua shouted out in euphoria as Charles's penis for a few second had pressed directly on his prostate like a person's hands on the steering wheel of a car. "Of course I can..." He murmured, tweaking one of Charles's nipples, making Charles's head tip to the side.


"Can you smell the horses?" Charles said aloud.


"I can see the horses making noises in their stalls...they're getting very excited, these two studs about one another." Joshua smiled, gazing down at Charles as the man became lost in his dream, his eyes not opening for a split second.


"Horses have giant cocks, don't they?" Joshua commented as he fucked Charles rougher and harder, he and Charles's bodies moving on the mattress like a person's back on a galloping horse. "Maybe you should take me to the stables...

"
"Not fucking the horses." Charles's eyes suddenly flew open.


"Ew, no. Oh, you're close." Joshua gave a smile oozing sexuality as he ran his thumb over his tongue and wiped it across Charles's bottom lip, ready to talk Charles through the rest of the sex and the rest of the Scottish farm-yard fantasy. "The horses, they're out on control. fighting for their release. Pagans have beheaded a Anglican priest and their roasting him on a spit. They want to fuck like animals in front of the bonfire. The horses are too big, they sound like they're going to break the stall door -"


"Powerful fucking things. Hooves causing damage." Joshua gasped out as Charles's hands held onto his hips and gripped them hardly, beginning to manually bounce Joshua up and down on his crotch as Joshua continued to ride him. Joshua was breathless a moment later as Charles's came, his back arching off the bed, his knees raising of the bed as well. His feet sat against the mattress, and Joshua leant his back against Charles's thighs, Charles's penis still inside him. 


Joshua and Charles took one look at each other directly, and burst out laughing, Joshua's hands running back and forth over Charles's chest.

Chapter Text

I tell everyone I'm a clerk for one of those huge international law firms. You know the ones that need staff at night to be contracted at nights? Its so boring, no one ever asks me about it. I've never told my two best friends what I do for a living. It's not out of shame, I suppose you could say, but it's more to do with the fact that they would have a heart-attack. Both my best friends are straight Korean men with girlfriends that they are in happy relationships with; they are not male hookers, and, personally, I love that


"Best sausage rolls in Seoul these are." Joshua brought up three plates with three cans of coke under his arm. He put them down on an outside table for he, and his two best friends, Choi Seungcheol and Yoon Jeonghan. "This is how a sausage roll is meant to taste. Crisp, brown buttery pastry that crumbles everywhere, and rich-tasting firm feeling without been messed about with; it has salt and pepper with cabbage, onion, carrot and rosemary. Not like those disgusting ones you brought from the supermarket and cooked for the Christmas eve party last year, Cheol." He told them. Jeonghan laughed as Seungcheol hung his head in shame.


"I don't know why you two are so against me getting you to try Yeong-eo food." Joshua said.


Seungcheol and Jeonghan were both ridiculously good looking. Seungcheol was of a decent height with a specific type of features that could be found in the Korean man, whereas Jeonghan had a face that Joshua had never seen another person even remotely share features with. Seungcheol had thick black hair he slicked over the back of his head, a 1930's English-style hair-cut, with a small flat nose, small eyes, straight thick brows, a V-shaped jaw, and almost a heavy kind of forehead. Jeonghan was almost a little bit underweight with wide-set brown eyes, a heart-shaped face, cheekbones that curved outwards with gaunt cheeks, visible collarbones, and thick curtain hair that was short at the back and dyed white-blonde.


"Because the one time you cooked us English food we got sick." Jeonghan reminded Joshua, nevertheless.


"Carbonara isn't English, it's Italian. I think the cream in the sauce had gone funny, but I didn't get sick." Joshua corrected. Jeonghan rolled his eyes, and bit into the sausage roll. Joshua grinned as he chewed it and gave a thumbs up. 


"It tastes really good; we don't have stuff like this." Jeonghan laughed as the pastry flaked away perfectly into a mess in his lap.


"You know the pastry is good when it does that." Joshua pointed out to Seungcheol for reference.


Seungcheol was a bar-tender at a nightclub in the Seoul CBD, and Jeonghan had the coolest job of all of them; he was a professional cinematographer and worked specifically on the cameras for the six 'o' clock evening news. Joshua always grinned at the idea that when he saw the newsreader on the TV screen, that shot was been filmed by Jeonghan; every single night his point of view through the camera lense was projected to the South Korea and the rest of the world where the Korean news was played on alternative channels.


"I've got tickets to a heavy metal concert; I've either got the choice of bringing you two idiots, or bringing my girlfriend and her hot best friend." Seungcheol put down on the table. Jeonghan immediately burst out laughing.


"So charming." Joshua commented.


"I hate heavy metal. It's just fat people with piercings in black denim and leather shoes screaming like they're been tortured." Jeonghan said.


"Prick, but, right fine!" Seungcheol accepted. "Joshy?"


"Take your girlfriend." Joshua grinned. "How is Lily?"


"I haven't seen her for a week. She's got her period." Seungcheol replied. Jeonghan snorted into his coke. "She doesn't come near me while she has it because she swears her mood swings are off the charts and for no reason at all she might bury a hammer in my head because she's had a bad memory come up."
"Hyung...that's not good. Is she ok?" Joshua leant his elbows on the table.


"She thinks neither of us will ever get enough money to buy a house together, either. The landlord on our apartment has jacked the rent up a extra £65, as well. We can manage, but it's a pain in the arse."


"Don't worry, you'll be fine. It's just about making it, that's all." Jeonghan comforted Seungcheol. "Could Lily's Mum and Dad help out?"


"Lily's Mum and Dad are dead you idiot." Joshua said, widening his eyes at him. Jeonghan quickly apologised to Seungcheol for forgetting, a horrified expression coming onto his face.


"Her Godmother can't help more than about £2500." Seungcheol continued.


Joshua knew he might come to find he's shot himself in the foot by saying this. "Hannie and I can help you and Lily out. How much do you need as a mortgage deposit as a ten percent rate to buy the apartment you're in, or somewhere else?"


"Lily refuses a mortgage; even though interest rates are low the idea of owing a bank money with the interest absolutely terrifies her."


"How much is the place you need?" Joshua asked again.


"£300,000." Seungcheol replied.


"How much do you two have between the two of you?" Jeonghan quipped.


"£76,000, and that's taken us two years." Seungcheol confirmed. Joshua picked at the nail on his thumb as Suengcheol and Jeonghan talked about possible wage increases and how trusting Seungcheol's parents were on-top of the squalid but top-money places Seungcheol and Lily had looked at with estate agents.


"There's a place half a kilometer down the hill from me in Seongbuk Dong that has come up for sale." Joshua said. Seungcheol and Jeonghan went completely silent. "It's not as flash as the other homes in the area. It was built in the 1970's so it's red lady-bug speckled brick, all timber-paneled inside - the kitchen, sitting room, dining room, bathrooms, toilets. Yellow tiles and invisble curtains. It's only got two bedrooms, and no bathrooms except the two ensuites that come with the bedrooms. It's single-story, and the houses either side of it look down onto it. It still gets daylight, but there's thick garden and old trees in there; the trees are about two hundred years old when a Hanok home was originally there back in the early 1800's. It's £650,000 pounds, but I could give you enough money where you would only need a £274,000 loan from the bank."


"Are you fucking kidding me?" Jeonghan said. "How do you even have that sort of money, Shua?"


"I'm a night legal clerk for a multi-billion dollar company. I get paid £350 an hour and on the weekends I get penalty rates which makes my hourly wage go to £700 an hour. I've been doing this job for three years. Last year I made nearly £300,000."


Jeonghan and Seungcheol swore, and proceeded to have a go at him about him not telling them things, out of shock.


"Stop the yok in public." Joshua warned. "This house isn't flash and it's probably too far away from you and Lily's work, but I don't like the idea of you and her going to Cheongdam. That was shitville ten, twelve years ago. It's nice to see all the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of companies - Apple, Chanel, Dior, Moschino, Google, Oasis, David Jones - but the place is the bronks, Seungcheol."


"You're twenty-four!" Jeonghan protested. "Are you secretly your boss's bit on the side or something?"


Oh, trust me, about sex on the side...yeah, Joshua thought. "Don't be stupid, you know I'm not gay. I wouldn't pretend to be gay either for money." He hit Jeonghan's hand across the table, but, the irony was, it was true.

Chapter Text

It was seven 'o' clock in the evening, and it was time for the evening client.

Joshua sat at a bar in one of the newest, most expensive, and most raved about clubs-cum-hotels in Asia, called "New Rules". No matter the meaning behind the name, their employed bar-tenders made a decent version of a weird concoction Joshua liked to drink; it was straight Vodka with ice with a lemon and lime juice squeezed into the alcohol. It wasn't just a shot of Vodka either. It was half a pint. More than enough to get anyone pissed, but Joshua could handle it. He wasn't an academic in science, but he suspected the acidity in the citrus juices broke it up a bit.


It was a nice hotel, expensive enough for Americans, trendy enough for Europeans, and in the bar there was a touch of class about it that was British, Joshua took note of it, thinking to write it down later. The client that night was - according to Gerda - over fifty, divorced after being married for a long time, it was his first time with an escort - let alone a male escort - so Joshua guessed as well he must be newly retired which had led to a drop in self-esteem and the need to feel powerful and special. Which was why he had been drawn out of his house for appointment. This is why I am good at my job, Joshua thought.


"Jisoo? Jisoo Wilde?" Joshua looked around and fell into a state of shock at the young man - maybe a year or two older than him - in a white dinner jacket, jeans, and a INXS t-shirt that came up to him and smiled nervously, his hands in his pockets. Dowoon was as handsome as Kaito with his youth, oval-face, full lips and brown eyes.


"You lied, Dowoon." Joshua whispered as the man leaned in to grab the leather bag of the floor that Joshua carried everything in he thought he might need for the appointment; lube, sex toys, a vibrator, bondage straps, a pair of knickers, suspenders and stockings, blindfolds and condoms. If Dowoon had been a woman, or Joshua himself had been a woman escort, they would have kissed, but neither of them made a move until they were safely inside the elevator going to the fifth floor. 


"You look so sexy." Dowoon murmured in Joshua's ear, biting on his ear-lobe. Joshua gasped out at the blip of pain before Dowoon's mouth was warm, gentle and experienced on his, and Joshua realized this guy before him might just be his fifth favourite client - depending on what happened next and if Dowoon wanted to pay for him again.

 

-------------------------------------------

 

Dowoon sat on the edge of the hotel room bed naked as Joshua sucked him off slowly. He looked around uncomfortably, feeling like a pervert with the exceptionally handsome man in between his legs. The night hadn't gone well. The escort - Jisoo - had tried riding him, but that hadn't worked for Dowoon, and then Dowoon had lost all his nerve as Jisoo lay beneath him, coaxing him to take his time and calm down, he wasn't going to hurt either himself or Jisoo with the anal sex.
"Dowoon, why do you try lying down?" Jisoo's head appeared at his chest, hand gently pushing him down.


"Oh, God yeah, sorry." Dowoon fell back onto the bed and tried not to tremble too much as the escort in-between his legs resumed the mind-blowing feel of the oral sex, a hand massaging his testicles as well.


"Oh, look, the hour's up -" Dowoon checked the watch on his wrist, quietly thanking God, and sat up quickly.


"No, it's fine, I can stay -" Joshua said.


"I'm sorry, I can't afford you." Dowoon shook his head.


"Shh. We'll get there." Joshua ran his hands up and down Dowoon's thighs, supporting. "You just need to relax." Joshua's head titled to the side. "Is this your first time having sex, or is just the first time it's been with another man?" He asked Dowoon quietly.


Dowoon looked down at the ground, visibly ashamed.


"Hey, why don't you watch me?" Joshua asked, leaning back on his hands, spreading legs wide open for Dowoon to see. As Joshua took himself in hand and began to run his hand up and down his length, Dowoon didn't immediately look at him, but then he came to. Joshua frowned as Dowoon winced when he began to leak pre-come. Dowoon was a fanastic-looking man with a good body on him; he wasn't like portly Sung Charles with his Scottish farm fantasy.

Joshua was genuinely attracted to him, but it never seemed that the thought had crossed Dowoon's mind. He was evidently insecure and had no faith in himself, and it was confirmed even more to Joshua when Dowoon suddenly exclaimed, "That's extraordinarily nice of you, but, I'm sorry, I've got to go."


Joshua sat up on the bed as Dowoon quickly pulled on his clothes. "Aren't you staying?" Joshua said. For the first time in his whole career as a escort - nothing had ever happened like this, before.


"No, no - I can't. I've never been a huge fan of hotels but you stay if you want, I've already paid online."


"On my own?" Joshua echoed.


"Yeah - I'm just offering so, you know, it's not gone to waste, that's all. Anyway, thanks though." Dowoon gazed at him, horrified. "Thank you for you time, and I'm sorry...Jisoo." He walked over and shook Joshua's hand.


"Look, I'm sorry, but - was there just something I didn't do right? I could have done?" Joshua asked.


"Oh, no, no, no, no, no, it's just me. I'm sorry; you were perfect. Wonderful. Er...goodnight." Dowoon left the hotel room in a flash, leaving Joshua sat there, even more stunned.

Chapter Text

Joshua dialed Gerda's phone number, and walked through his house impatiently as he waited for her to pick up. When she did, he said, "Hi, Gerda, did you hear back from Daniel the other night?" It was a week after that horrendous night, and it had been niggling at him all week. Earlier that week he had gone around to Seungcheol and Lily's with Jeonghan to see a movie with them, and halfway through Lily had asked him if he was ok. He quickly invented a story that there had been another night recepetionist on the same shift as him wearin increasingly shorter skirts and doing her hair differently and he was irked about whether or not she was giving him the hint. This led to the film being paused by Jeonghan, and a two hour long discussion starting about Joshua's love life, the history of it, past dates, boyfriends, and total fuck-ups, and what Joshua had to do to sucessfuly ask this fellow night-worker out, and then effectively marry her, have kids, and then die together. And all of it was bullshit.


"He rang again, but he made an appointment with a company in town owned by the Hui family; that's the family that does all of those notorious married and engaged only adult parties for the celebrities and artists. I think he might have been more specific with them." Gerda told him. He could imagine her sitting back on her couch in her living room, examining her nails and watching the Netflix.


"You know the manager, right?" Joshua rolled his eyes. Gerda talked, but she never told. "What does Daniel really want?"


"He asked for boy-next-door. Jeans, no designer suits, no James-Bond-has-a-shag hotels. Takes all sorts I suppose." He could hear the deresive incredulousness in Gerda's tone.
"Can you get him back?" Joshua asked simply.


"Are you playing me?" Gerda asked. "Why do you - Joshua?" All of a sudden Joshua was reminded of a school-teachers.


"I can't get it out of my head. Never have I failed to get a paying client off, or have him get me off." Joshua confessed. "Daniel paid for me and it didn't work. He paid for the hotel room as well. It was a waste of £500. I want him back just so my ego has the satisfaction of getting him off, and I'll pay you out of my own money, once I give him back what he paid - your commission included. If you can get him back - for both times - I'll give you £1000, flat out, Gerda."


"Make sure you're free for this afternoon." Gerda replied after a pause, and Joshua couldn't help but wonder if everything she had said to him about another sex company was a lie.


Two hours later, Daniel was sitting on the couch in Joshua's sitting room whil he fished beers out of the fridge. As Joshua came back into the room, he smiled at the sight of Daniel looking around the interior in awe.


"You like it?" Joshua sat. "It's nice in here. I like it too." He was just wearing a white t-shirt and a pair of denim jeans. Nothing fancy. Just ordinairy. These clothes were from the "Joshua" side of the wardrobe, not the "Jisoo" side.


"What do you think?" Joshua asked Daniel. "Without the miracle of expensive tailoring the hotel lighting?" All the curtains were open in the house, letting in the views of the neighbourhoods surrounding them, plus the gardens, and the clear blue sky above. The hot sun made the air warm, and, so far, for many people it was the perfect day.


"I like it." Daniel replied earnestly.


"Now, we can put you in a nice hot shower when you -"


"Oh, yeah, yeah, of course." Daniel pulled out a bundle of notes for Joshua which he stuck in the back pocket of his jeans. Before Joshua could speak. Dowoon hastily pinned Joshua against the couch, his hands creeping up beneath Joshua's shirt, feeling his skin and the warmth of it as Daniel slipped his tongue gently into Joshua's mouth, making the world spin on its axis. They weren't just fucking. This wasn't Joshua trying to get Dowoon off for the sake of his pride, and for Dowoon's part, this wasn't him rutting into a prostitute. Without the years in-between them and the knowledge of each other, they were making love. Joshua moved his knees up either side of Dowoon's hips, letting Dowoon's body cover his completely. Dowoon's body felt heavier than Joshua his own body to be, but it didn't suffocate him.


"So this is what you're like." Joshua breathed out, stroking Dowoon's hair back from his face. He could tell the gesture made the other man warm, and he kept doing it. "This is what you wanted all along?" He shifted his hips up so Dowoon could get his jeans and underwear off, and Dowoon exhaled sharply at the amount of pre-come glistineng and leaking from Joshua's tip onto his thighs, and inside his underwear as well.


"You're so wet." Dowoon wiped some of the precome off of Joshua's penis and thighs, and the pure dizziness that took hold of Joshua from been so turned on when Dowoon used that has lube to slip his fingers into Joshua's arse. Joshua moaned, pushing himself towards Dowoon's fingers despite the fact that pre-come wasn't lube, even though it made just as much of a mess.


”You're so beautiful - like this.” Dowoon said while he added a second of his lanky fingers as Joshua pulled off his shirt.


Joshua moaned, trying to stop himself from screeching as Dowoon stretched him and massaged his balls and managed to kiss his chest as well, without breaking any of the three rhythms. The combined feelings was phenomenal; it reminded Joshua of a threesome he was in a year ago. Why aren't all people this multi-taskful? Joshua barely thought comprehendedly as he craved more.


”Be inside me.” Joshua communicated shakily. ”Please, I'm ready.” he added. Dowoon removed his fingers and he stripped the rest of the clothes he had on. Joshua slipped on a condom he had in his pocket onto Dowoon's length. Dowoon rubbed his covered penis against Joshua's arse, making Joshua moan. He pulled Joshua in closer to him, bringing one of Joshua's legs over his shoulder until the knee, and lining the inner thigh of the other leg with his side. "Hurry, I need you so bad." Joshua panted, his pupils fully dilated in desire.


Dowoon made sure Joshua was resting flat on the couch before he aligned his hardened length along Joshua's opening, and pushed it. He and Joshua didn't hold back their moans as Joshua came with Dowoon's penis just past the opening of his hole. Dowoon laughed, kissing Joshua in amazement about what his body had just down. "Oh, God...!" Joshua covered his face with his hands while Dowoon still laughed.


"That good am I, Jisoo?" Dowoon pushed all the way in, immediately hitting Joshua's g-spot. Joshua through his head back and gasped at the feeling as Dowoon teasingly rubbed his penis back and forth over the spot, not thrusting but instead sending Joshua into throws of ecstasy that had his penis hard again within moments. Joshua's hips raised and bucked against his as Dowoon began to thrust. With each thrust he felt fire churn throughout his body, all the nerves alive and burning with Joshua's body around him and in him. 


"God, I love you. Don't bother paying me. Just come back a few times a week and we'll sort something out." Joshua moaned and panted and swore, gasping for air. He actually wailed as Dowoon stopped thrusting and began to rub his penis over Joshua's g-spot.


Dowoon wasted no time beginning to thrust into Joshua again as he became more and more wrecked, clenching and clawing at the arm of the couch behind his head, unable quite to hold onto Dowoon's body. "Don't stop, don't stop." Joshua breathed as Dowoon slowed down the rhythm, his muscles getting tired. He hadn't come yet, and was close to it, but not yet. He thought he was practically abusing Joshua's hole as suddenly the most powerful words were said to him. "If you're getting to tired can I fuck you until you cum instead? You have to come this time, no argument about it. You can't leave like last time, I won't let you."


Dowoon shifted, sitting at the opposite end of the couch with his knees raised, and his legs parted, arms leaning against the couch. Joshua crawled over to him and straddled Dowoon, sucking a hickey into his neck as Dowoon yelled out, his penis inside Joshua again. Joshua bounced up and down headily with his hands curved around Dowoon's neck, kissing him to within an inch of his life. He can feel himself coming again soon, all over Dowoon's stomach.


”Fuck, Jisoo! You're so fucking good at this.” Dowoon's breath hitched as one of Joshua's hands moved forcefully under his thigh, and began to massage the opening to the entrance of his own arse.


Joshua gasped, looking down at Dowoon viscerally when the man slapped his arse. He fucked Dowoon harder and harder until Joshua kept his eyes shut because he could only see white lights.


Joshua’s wet hair moved along to the rhythm of Dowoon's thrusts. Dowoon was frantically trying to control himself. "Here." Joshua reached for his white shirt over the back of the couch. "Stuff your mouth with this or stuff your mouth with me fingers and you're fucked in both holes?" Joshua said. He ran a thumb down the line of Dowoon's cheekbones, before slipping three of his fingers on his right hand into Downwoo's mouth, letting the other man suck them and wet them and moan around them.


”Just let it out.” Joshua said, Dowoon's penis still hitting his prostate over and over again. Dowoon shuddered, his body coiling sideways, biting Joshua's knuckles deeply with his teeth. 


”Jesus Christ," Joshua whispered, the dawn finally breaking for the world around and Dowoon; bright, brilliant, hot, more inexplicably divine than the day presently around them. He slowed down as Dowoon ejactulated into his burning body. Dowoon finally lets out a loud moan as Joshua's fingers curved around his chin, letting go of Joshua's fingers from his mouth. They were bleeding and had deep teeth marks at the knuckles, and saliva ran down Dowoon's face onto his chest. Joshua came as well, another load of his come pouring down onto Dowoon's skin in front of him.


Both of them stayed silent in the aftermath, shock coming at the two of them like armies. "I'll get off before I crush you.” Joshua weakly remarked, trying to push away Dowoon. Dowoon caught at his arms as Joshua went to move away after he took Dowoon's penis out of his arse. 


”Let’s stay like this for a while.” Dowoon said tiredly, opening his arms and embracing the smaller body tighter to him. Joshua complied and allowed Dowoon to make the decisions he is too exhausted to move. He still straddled Dowoon's lap, his head in the crook of Dowoon's shouder, listening to the man’s heartbeat. 
Joshua kissed Dowoon's hair before rolling off him with a thump onto the floor so he could have the comfort of lying on his back, the couch to small for his height. ”I don't know what to say, but, please, don't feel bad.” He whispered, breaking the silence. 


”It's ok, I get it." Dowoon stretched out on the couch. Within a few moments, both men were asleep, Joshua on the floor and Dowoon on the couch.

 

-------------------------------------

 

"I've never had a girlfriend, or a boyfriend. Serious, I mean. I tried for four years with one girl, but we never even had sex once. We used to hang out, and maybe twice a year we'd actually go out together. I tried with other people; about eight in total. Nothing ever happened. Relationships and that would form, but they were never wholesome. It was happening only when we could both give permission for it to happen, you know what I mean? It wasn't love - any of the times - where there was no alternative. I suppose as well I never completely trusted any of my ex's anyway." Dowoon talked to Joshua. They were both dressed - Joshua in fresh clothes - and were lying on the floor of the sitting room, the TV playing quietly in the background.


"What are things you like?" Joshua asked him.


"I like the number six and numbers ending with 6; I like Australian rock music. I like Paris; I went there once. The traffic is insane. No rules, no directions, no traffic lights; it's all up to the skill and rational mind of the individual drivers." Joshua laughed as Dowoon mimicked steering the wheel of a car and imitated the sound of a car's brakes screeching to a halt with his mouth. "And you know how there are words that are spelt the same backwards and forwards? Like noon, for example? I hate that. Absolutely hate it. I like names and things that aren't like that."


"Like Joshua?" Joshua said, half lost in Dowoon's visual. A second later, he kicked himself internally as Dowoon's eyes lit up.


"You're Joshua?" He echoed warmly.


When Dowoon left afterwards, Joshua found himself sitting in his kitchen at the island bench, calling Seungcheol's phone. Seungcheol would have knocked off work by now, whereas Jeonghan would have been working from five 'o' clock that morning and still  going strong eight hours later for the evening news. Jeonghan's hours were long, but he made just as much money as Joshua - even more Joshua suspected - every month. Fourteen hour days, even though it was a job Jeonghan loved; "Plenty of time to grab a coffee and chill. The only time you really need to work is when you're working with a Steadicam rather than a gimbal, or when we were filming that advert for the even news at the beginning this ear and I had to walk backwards down some stairs to film the female anchor coming down them."  He had once said.


"Hi, this is Seungcheol, I can't take your call right now, but please leave a message after the beep."


Joshua hung up his end of the line before the tone went off. He swallowed, curving his hands back and forth over each other as he thought.


Lily had came into Seungcheol's life five months ago. She was a music guru and worked in a record shop that her best friend's Mother owned. She had waist-length black hair, and extremely white skin due to cosmetic whiteners and make-up. She always wore deep red lipstick, and had drawn-in eyebrows that curved around her forehead like a wing. Her mouth was long and wide with her upper lip slightly bigger than the lower, with almost a slavic looking nose and small ovular cheekbones. When Joshua had first met her he considered her the rudest bitch in this hemisphere.


Jeonghan had invited them all around to his place for new years eve last year, and Seungcheol had turned up with her wrapped in a tweed jacket. "I want you to meet someone; this is Lily. Lily, Joshua and Jeonghan."


"What's that terrible music playing?" Lily's mouth had quirked up funny and her eyebrows furrowing at the sound of the Jonas Brothers playing from Jeonghan's stereo after she intitally smiled at him. Seungcheol just laughed and gave her a kiss.


"Welcome to Yoon Jeonghan's house." He said, beaming widely.


It had taken Joshua a few weeks to warm to her, but he did eventually. Somedays, he wasn't quite amicapable towards even the thought of her, and he often thought Lily had some stupid ideas, paarticularly about suburbs to move into a get a house that would cost hundreds of thousands.

Chapter Text

"Gerda, no, I'm not having him back." Joshua said into his phone, leaning against the tall-boy in the professionial bedroom while Charles washed in the shower. It was two weeks later, and Charles had booked a second appointment.


"Did something happen?" Gerda asked.


"No, I'm just being unpredictable." Joshua rolled his eyes, refusing to go into it with her. "Do me a favour, I put £1000 cash into your bank last night. Bye."


Joshua collected what could effectively be called his "lodge-book", and wrote down details of Dowoon in it. He always kept a record of his clients - old, new, present, and past - names and usual turn-ons. It wasn't as though his memory was unreliable, but it was a method which he didn't turn his back on.


Dowoon - Tall, Sweet, Well-Off, Twenties - Wants Me Not the Work-Me, Joshua wrote, before snapping the book shut.


In a way, Joshua was going to miss Dowoon. He couldn't quite explain it - not even to himself in his head - but he knew in time to come he would think about Dowoon.
"Now," He looked up and looked at Charles as the older man walked in from the ensuite, a towel wrapped around his waist. "You won't believe what I found." Joshua walked around to the other side of the bed and held up a horse-riding saddle. "My best friend's wife -" Joshua personally hoped Lily never became Mrs Choi. "Was quite a spoiled little girl when she was younger. And one of her pastimes was...well, have a guess?" 


Charles stared at him, his mouthing hanging open.


"Now, what I want to know is which one of us is going to wear this?" Joshua raised an eyebrows, half-smiling coquettishly. "You or me?"


Sometimes it's not the richest or the youngest clients you want, or the ones you have the most in common with


Joshua laughed with Charles as he rode Charles's back, his arse on the saddle, and whipped him lightly on his thigh with the riding crop as Charles's bounced up and down on the bed on his hands and knees, his face covered by a dominatrix leather mask. Joshua twitched the reins connected to the bridle in Charles's mouth to the left, and the man underneath him turned around, facing the foot of the bed. 


For me the perfect partner is one where I never have to be myself


Joshua fell off Charles's back onto the bed, the two men still nearly pissing themselves laughing as Joshua took the bridle out of Charles's mouth and kissed him.

Chapter Text

Behind closed and locked doors in warm and illuminated rooms all over Seoul, sex, pleasure, forgiveness, desire, kink, and sexual aspiration is been performed, watched, recieved, and given. All of this sex comes under three parts; some spontaneous, some planned, and, yes, some paid for. And tonight - tonight is strictly invitation only. Sometimes I get paid to do the things I've always wanted to do


Joshua waited quietly in the seat of the taxi until a few minutes later outside the entrance to a hotel - forty storeys high - next to the banks of the Cheonggyecheon stream. Tonight he was with Seong-Hun; they had arranged that the doorman would accompany Joshua inside past the line outside. He nodded his head graciously as a doormen in a traditional and beautifully tailored English uniform open the door of the taxi for him. "Miss Wilde." The man greeted him, bowing. Joshua had changed his appearance drastically that night. Everyone knew that what went on in the party stayed at the party; no photographs, no whispered tales, no leaks to the press and the gossip trash of the cities media. Earlier that day he had gone to Jeonghan's house and had got an idea from the tiny one and two minute sections of film Jeonghan had shot. He was now working as a cinematographer on a film set in the 15th Century of Korean history. He had pointed out all of the hairstyles on the men - long, thick and dark hair that fell effortlessly around their bodies, and was pulled up onto their heads in semi buns with tails, and shorter styles that were a rectangle top-knot on their scalp.


"If I told you I'm going to a fancy-dress party tonight and I needed some help with the hair, what would you say?" Joshua put to Jeonghan.


Joshua wore a hip-length wig of black hair parted in curtains over his face, in a haute-cotoure Valentino dress. It was long sleeved and 1930's grey-hound cut style, patterned with wisteria vines that looked like water-colour paintings on the cloth. He also wore nude-tone stockings, bone coloured ankle boots with a thick block high-heels and not a scrap of make-up on his face.


He hadn't come to the party dressed as drag queen. He definitely wasn't a drag queen. He had come to this party to be someone that everyone else in the hotel would never see again. They would see that Seong-Hun had come with a girl that wasn't Ha-Yoon - and considerably younger than her - with masses of silky black hair and a vintage tastes in dresses. Joshua Hong was a male escort, but no one else was to even know that he was of male gender.


The Cheonggyecheon stream region is money. Real money. Real empire, real wealth. A whole load of power. There is a hotel on the right side of it's concerete lined banks. It is owned by a already powerful family who are a rarity; their last name has become a semi-common first name for young women. I love it when my personal desires can come in and take place side by side my professional duties. Tonight is the most prestigious adult party in the country, and I'm with Min-ho who was waiting inside for me. That's another thing as well. These parties are only for genuine couples and it is competitive. You have to be under forty, educated, beautiful, and famous. Seong-Hun of course is renowned for his wealth and business, but he is expected to turn up with his long-time "partner", Rhiy Ha-Yoon. Ha-Yoon is in fact his housemaid who he is extremely good friends with. Ha-Yoon goes with the confirmed bachelor everywhere. Seong-Hun doesn't want to get married, have married life, and have himself in a situation where one day the woman could leave him and take him for at least half of everything he has. I know for a fact that Seong-Hun wouldn't even marry me, even if I wasn't a man, same-sex marriage was legal nonetheless, and he trusts me completely. Ha-Yoon is the divorced wife of a transgender man who has moved far away from Seoul. So, for all the dinners, company fucntions, charity events, and holidays, Ha-Yoon is on Seong-Hun's arm, and no one else in the world apart from me is any the wiser. 


"Good evening." A skeletal woman with dyed blonde hair greeted Joshua as he walked through the reception and into the elevators with the doorman.


"You look lovely." He praised as they waited silently in the elevator as it took them up, storey by storey, to the fortieth floor and the penthouse suits where the party was been held.


"Thank you, it's Valentino." Joshua said, not bothering to make his voice sound more like a womans in front of the doorman. "They're usually rip-off merchants. That's why they only tend to see wedding dresses."


The doorman laughed. "Seong-Hun said "No matter what you think, just as long as there is an answer to the name Wilde, just be cool like Fonzey"."


"You know Happy Days?" Joshua asked, grinning.


"No, but Henry Winkler is holidaying in Singapore and turned down an invitation to this party." The doorman made a shushing gesture, winking. "Seong-Hun said that if you wait by the balconies, he'll find you." As the elevator came to the fortieth storey, the Doorman bid Joshua goodnight, and soon disappeared behind the closing doors.


The air was warm, and there was no lighting as such apart from the occasional hanging lamps, fey-lights, candles and the moonlight coming into the Penthouse which was pure Scandinavian hard angles and chic metal, marble, wood, and glass. There was a heap of people in the centre of the Penthouse; fifty, perhaps, that Joshua saw. As he walked through the crowd, collecting a glass of champagne from a muscle-built waiter in a suit-collar, tie, leather gloves and a g-string, and a handful of condoms from his tray that Joshua slipped into a hidden pocket of his dress. "New Rules" by Dua Lipa played on an un-seen stereo system. And adult party wasn't a nightclub; there were no sweating, emotionally and drug high, dancing bodies bouncing up and down to a DJ covered in tattoos with a bizarre face and a microphone. It was civilized by still upbeat, and Joshua personally thought the waiters were a nice touch.


On the balcony, gold fey-lights hung down like curtains from the balconies ceiling above the the ground below, and when Joshua looked back inside, the interior of the Penthouse looked like it was on fire, lines of electrified gold pouring down from the ceiling intermingling with candles and the hanging lamps. The night air was cool, but it wasn't cold. It was still Summer, after all. But as the Summer begain to wain, the changes you noticed the most was how much better you slept at the nightime, and how much you weren't prespiring.


Adult parties are like any other parties. There's someone who wants to be the centre of attention


Joshua sipped the champagne slowly as he saw a African woman with blue dye intermingling with the black of her waist-length dreadlocks with a blue feather boa tied around her throat, knotted at the back of her neck with the tail going down and brushing her knees. She wore a white leather miniskirt, high heels, and no top or bra, her nipples painted bright gold.


Then there's the shy people who find themselves in the corner


Joshua looked over the see two girls fanning themselves with curious looks; one girl's face from the lips up as concealed by the mask of a raven's face in a thigh black silk dress, and her friend wore traditional chinese make-up. The cupid's bow lipstick, dead white painted skin, shining black hair parted in oiled curtains either side of her face with her eyelashes mascaraed white and rendered invisible, with a lotus flower drawn in red just above her eyebrows in her forehead. The second girl was dressed head to toe in a traditional silk qi pao that made her look quite dazzling once you got over the shock of her made-up face. They definitely weren't lesbians, but Joshua thought they might be trying some techniques later on. And the raven-girl would be on the bottom, whether she liked it or not


The cool crowd who know everyone and the organizers


Joshua rolled his eyes to himself in the direction of the girls in g-strings and child-size bikini tops fawning over men in 18th Century sytle Versailles masks, frilled shirts, and silk pantaloons; one man was having a conversation with two other girls and been sucked off by a entirely naked one in-between his legs on a couch in the centre of the Penthouse and it's party


And just off from the main Penthouse are the rooms where the real party happens


"You never cease to amaze me." Joshua tipped his head back and let Seong-hun nuzzle his face into the crook of his shoulder, smiling at the contact and how Seong-hun had finally found him. "I didn't think it was you at first, in this beautiful dress."


Joshua hummed as Seong-Hun's arms wrapped around him, and he felt his blood begin to flow, tingling, down to his crotch. He turned around and his arms wrapped around Seong-Hun's waist beneath his jacket, and kissed him warmly. Seong-Hun was wearing a tuxedo, and he looked gorgeous in it. Joshua was having the best night of his life. "Come with me, I've got something to show you." Seong-Hun tucked Joshua's arm through his, and led him through the crowd of the Penthouse, and then through a set of velvet curtains that were as deep as Lily's red lipstick. In the centre of the room stood a round pouffe the size of a bed with voile curtains attached to a chandelier on the ceiling raining down over it. Three other couples were in the room; two were socializing and groping each other, there was a young man with his head buried in the naked lap of a English woman, and then there was a same-sex couple - two woman. They were scissoring together on the floor slowly, and no making a sound or having any other awareness of Joshua and Seong-Hun coming into the room, or the other couples. Their eyes and their whole worlds were intently focused on the other one.


"Wow, this is all a bit of a turn on." Joshua chuckled softly as Seong-Hun's arms wrapped around him, the old man's hands palming his penis through the skirt of the dress, and Seong-Hun's own erection pressing into Joshua's arse.


"It's quiet here." Seong-Hun commented.


"It's early yet." Joshua turned around in Seong-Hun's arms, slipping one hand across Seong-Hun's shoulder and the other down the front of his trousers.


"Alas, it's too early even for us." Seong-Hun said, stroking Joshua's cheek. "I want to wait." Joshua's eyes closed as Seong-Hun's lips grazed over his cheek. "What I want is to watch all the other men and even all the other women watch you and want you and not be able to have you. All that desire but they don't even know anything about you." Seong-Hun held Joshua's hip through the fabric of the dress. "And then, maybe later on..."


"You're going to make me desperate?" Joshua asked.


"Not so much that it's poison." Seong-Hun's eyes glowed in the semi-darkness. Joshua let Seong-Hun go to socialize with the rest of the party guests; Seong-Hun said that a friend of his that he went golfing with if they were on holiday at the same time of year in Italy was there with his wife, who Joshua had met before and knew to be Mary. She was half Italian-half Korea, with monolids but otherwise Italian features. Many people said Mary was bizarre looking, but Joshua found her attractive. Joshua laid down by himself on the pouffe, and looked up at the voile curtains, thinking to himself.


"Oh, shit, sorry!" Joshua rolled over quickly as suddenly a man's face was directly beside his; it seemed another couple had come into the room, and the woman had pushed the man down onto the pouffe, not realizing that Joshua was lying there. "That was all my fault - are you alright?" The man asked him. Joshua lost the ability to speak for a few seconds as he realized who the man was. That was the news anchor that Jeonghan filmed every night as he presented the Sport edition of the news program.


"Excuse me, I'll leave you and your wife in peace." Joshua said, smiling quickly, as he pushed his skirt back down over his thighs where it had gone up when he had rolled over on the pouffe, before leaving the room entirely. Instead of going into the main Penthouse, Joshua walked into one of the other rooms - it was like a second sitting room - with about thirty people intermingling and talking to one another. Andrea Bocelli's operatic voice played as the music in the room, and Joshua found it a break from the pop tunes in the Penthouse.

Chapter Text

I shouldn't panic if I see someone I recognize because, frankly, with the outfit and the wig I was wearing that night, I doubt they would recognise me. Honestly, the moment I saw that news-reader, I had the weirdest thought go through my head. I genuinely wondered if Jeonghan was here. And, also frankly, having split-second sex dreams of fucking your best friend at a Adult party in a Valentino dress because you're in a state of shock is not a good idea. I also thought he and his wife might have noticed the fact that this "girl" in the flower-patterned dress had either a very large abdomen, or an erecting penis.


Joshua sat by himself down on the couch with had a pattern similar to the one of his dress; within a couple of minutes, someone sat beside him.


"That's a Valentino dress, right? I saw that lovely model Kwak Ji Young wear something similar at Paris Fashion Week."


"Because you're the man that photographs her." Joshua reached out and hugged Min-ho tightly who mumbled, "Oh, that's nice" in response.


"Min-ho, it's me, Jisoo." Joshua pointed at his chin. A few moments later Min-ho was laughing softly, and his hand cupped the left side of Joshua's face beneath the wig's hair, running his thumb back and forth over his cheekbone.


"Oh my goodness, how are you?" Min-ho said, kissing Joshua quickly on the mouth as Joshua knelt on his knees beside the man. "You don't look like yourself."


"I'm great. I'm here with someone, though. As for this -" Joshua gestured at his out-fit, talking quietly. "Yes, I'm a male escort, I'm not transgender, I'm just ordinary, but I'd rather be something where even my gender remains unknown and thought of as different thing entirely when I'm here. This is the first time I've been to one of the rich ones. Some of the people here might be my neighbours, I don't know."


"A beautiful disguise." Min-ho kissed Joshua's lips again. 


"Are you here with your wife?" Joshua suddenly asked, feeling like a deer in front of headlights. He was supposed to be Seong-Hun's escort tonight, but been with Min-ho for a bit was alright. Been within a hundred meters of Min-ho's wife, however, was a nightmare come to life if she saw him.


"As it happens, I'm not." Min-ho smiled. "Our divorce formally went through this morning. She's in Paris with her boyfriend and the children; the custody is fifty-fifty. I love her, Jisoo, and she loves me. Where each other's best friends. As she said to the judge today, "The only mistake in our marriage as that we both married our best friend's", and then she came over and hugged me in the court. Everything is perfect. She and Marc are happy together, and he doesn't feel guilty that I might be home when he brings her flowers."
"Christmas will be great fun, then." Joshua smiled. "Come here, that's wonderful news, Min-ho." Joshua gathered Min-ho into his arms, and held on tight for a while. "I knew you got up to some weird stuff but I didn't know this was your sort of thing." he said to Min-ho, coming to lie with his head in the older man's lap.


"I managed to buy myself an invitation because, of course, I'm celebrating my wife been happy, and one of my other girls is here. On the front cover of Korean Vogue this month is a woman - twenty-seven - called Tanya Ristevski. She's here tonight - I think - dressed as a Stephen King raven."


"Black Doctor." Joshua corrected. "When the bubonic plague went through England in the 17th century, the plague doctors would wear these masks that had ventilation systems in the beaks, and in their spirituality the association of the raven with death came into affect because the Doctors would have to act as priests as well; all the priests, nuns and monks were locked up in their monasteries, safe from the plague due to no human contact with the diseased individuals."


"Oh, now I get it." Min-ho nodded. "I hope someone tells her that her breasts look great in her dress." He smiled as Joshua laughed.


"Do you mind a lack of privacy?" Joshua asked, sitting up and straddling Min-ho, gazing down at him.


"I'd say you weren't prepared." Min-ho said rightly.


"No, but my mouth is pretty wet." Joshua kissed Min-ho, the older man making him moan as he slid his tongue into his mouth. Joshua ground down on Min-ho's slowly erecting penis as Min-ho's hands went up the line of his thighs to his hips beneath the soft fabric of the Valentino dress, and made Joshua gasp against his mouth as he snapped the suspender belt to the stockings with a sharp twang against his skin


"Very pretty, isn't she?" Joshua sucked in a deep breath, pulling away from Min-ho's mouth at the sound of Seong-hun's voice, and the man himself leaning with his arms on the back of the couch, surverying the sight of Joshua and the strange man.


"Yes, he is." Min-ho confirmed brightly.


"Um, you two..." Joshua hesitated. Joshua beckoned for Seong-hun to come in closer. "Just for the record and so you know, I didn't know Min-ho would be here - I thought he was still in Paris - and, well, you two should know that you two both come to see me for -" Joshua broke off with a shallow gasp and he convulsed as Min-ho stuck a finger - without any lubricant or warning - directly into Joshua's hole, right to the knuckle on his hand.


Despite everything, the two men regarded each other pleasantly as Joshua couldn't help but gasp and moan as Min-ho kept his finger in him, covering directly Joshua's prostate as well.


"Nice to meet you." Seong-hun held out his hand for Min-ho to shake."You're a painter." Seong-hun said correctly.


"And you're rich." Min-ho replied charmingly, shaking Seong-hun's hand with his free one. 


"This really is turning out to be an interesting night." Seong-hun said.


"Get your fucking finger off my prostate before I cum in a £3000 dress." Joshua hissed in Min-ho's ear.


"£3000? To come to this party with me tonight?" Seong-hun echoed. 


"That's absolutely lovely." Min-ho agreed.


"Min-ho, I need to go. I'll see you whenever you want, ok? Goodnight." Joshua kissed Min-ho on the cheek as he got off Min-ho's middle finger and his lap. Seong-hun picked him up and carried him over the back of the couch before settling his feet back on the ground, and putting his elbow through his.


"He really likes you, Jisoo." Seong-hun murmured into his ear, stroking Joshua's wrist.


"Do you think?" Joshua didn't glance back at Min-ho, but it was too late to do so now, as they were out in the hallway.


"God, yes." Joshua made a soft exclamation as Seong-hun pointed to the centre of the Penthouse's main rooms where curtains appeared to have fallen from the ceiling, and naked female acrobatics were performing acts in the red velvet. "He wants you, now."


"Yeah?"


"But it's put him in a position where you're mine tonight but it's a solace to him that you'll be his sometime later on." Seong-hun said.


"You're taking this really well." Joshua said to Seong-hun. "You're being really understanding. I can't tell you how grateful I am, Seong-hun. Just...thank you so much."
"I'm sorry tonight has been so shit." Seong-hun said.


"What? What do you mean?" Joshua said.


"I didn't mean to leave you alone for so long." Seong-hun elaborated. "This party is turning out to be shit as well. Adult Parties back in the late eighties - now they would have blown your mind. As soon as the 1990's came around everyone lost their touch, and all of us who knew how to do it were struggling to have a piss before bed let alone get a erection."


"Do you know the guy who presents the sport on the news - channel seven? He and his wife crashed into me. He nearly had a heart-attack in case he broke my nose or something." Joshua told Seong-hun, who laughed.


"God, really? That's interesting." He grinned coyly. "I know his Father."


"Seong-hun, don't you dare." Joshua punched his arm. "Have you seen any Kpop stars?"


"It's too early to say." Seong-hun shrugged, making Joshua smile. "I'm too old to know any of them, anyway. It was Australian rock and roll, Rick Astley, and Cantopop back in my day."


"Oh, trust me, you can tell." Joshua said. "The girls are anorexic and have had cosmetic surgery, and still wear spanx even though they don't need it. They all have on the glittery, brightly colour dresses and cute-girl make-up. The men are not wearing make-up but they have percings, hard abs and dyed hair. They'll be shirtless or have all their buttons open, and both the girls and guys will be terrified to touch someone - constantly second guessing - in case they lose everything tomorrow morning. They're always the most vulnerable ones. You've got the wallflowers, the show-offs, the organizers and their friends; and then you've got the wildflowers."

Chapter Text

The night wears on, the clothes come off, the guests get down and dirty and do what it is all about...except me.


"This really sucks." Joshua genuinely remarked to Seong-hun. He and Seong-hun were sitting on a couch on the balcony that swept around all of the Penthouse. The couch was plain grey and a three-seater before making a two-seater at a right angle. Joshua wasn't one to turn up his nose, but everything around them was utterly pathetic. It was a cheap stab at class, and there were too many people in a confined space. There weren't enough rooms and you could barely breathe. Despite the mood lighting, it was so dark that a lot of the waits had gotten kisses because they were mistaken for guests. "What's the time?" He asked.


"Half past ten." Seong-hun replied.


"I know of other places we can go?" Joshua offered. He knew that the night had been dampened for both of them by running into Min-ho, and how this was supposed to Seong-hun's night with him, but another of his clients was in the next room. Seong-hun knew he was a male prosititute. He knew he was an escort, a hooker, a whore. A human body for hire. But Joshua appreciated how strange and disoncerting it would feel to have had the night that Seong-hun was in the middle of.


"Most as well take you home." Seong-hun's head tipped onto his shoulder as he gazed at Joshua tenderly, a small smile on his face. "Go home myself. I tell Ha-Yoon not to wait up for me. I hope she's in bed."


"It's only half eleven." Joshua reached over and pressed his hand against Seong-hun's knee.


"I'm an old man, now. And I've got to take blood pressure tablets." Seong-hun swallowed the rest of the champagne in his glass and set it down on the floor.


"You're bloody forty seven years old." Joshua said.


"Forty seven isn't twenty-three." Seong-hun reminded Joshua of their age gap. 


"Not to me." Joshua answered.


I know this isn't what anyone might expect. But it's the truth. Not everything turns out wonderful and sexually explicit with three orgasms in an hour. Sometimes things are a failure, or they just don't work. I have a relationship with all of my clients, but with four particular clients, it transcends the typical client-escort relationship. Because we've known each other so long and have used each other so many times, we've got to know each other. Traditionally, a client-escort relationship is no place for tenderness. This is our world. These four in particular...the relationship changed because they showed that tenderness towards me. As an escort, if in the realism of things, I never do things. Traditionally, I service and submit. That is it. But these four put me in a place where everything was altered. They themselves altered their half of the client-escort relationship, and so therefore, I did as well. On both sides, the changes and alterations were genuine, simplistic, and warm. A particular kind of humanism, if not love. 


They walked side by side as they left the Penthouse, and were quiet all the way to the ground in the elevators. Before they had left the hotel Joshua leant across the reception desk and told the skeletal woman in blonde hair that Vladimir Putin could have organized a better "sex brigade". When Joshua climbed into the passenger seat of Seong-hun's Mercedes Benz, he told him what he had said.


"I like how you've always got a come-back." Seong-hun commented after a while. "What you were saying before about the Kpop stars...has one of them being a client? It's just that you seem to know what you're talking about."


This client in particular...he was my first time as an escort. You never forget the first time with a paying client, and you also never forget the first time you fuck it up with a paying client. I'll write more about that one day. But not right now


"No, it's just...I'm sorry. It's been a bad night." Joshua sighed. "I just meant youth, and been vulnerable and nervous because of being young. All the new realisms and effects of the stuff you do and the stuff that goes on around you. There's always the feeling that some bastard is going to come up one day and give you karma for the stuff you've done as well."

 

---------------------------------------

 

Joshua peeled the wig off of his scalp, having soaked his head in warm water first. He had tied the wig's length at the base of his neck, and had kept putting his head under gently running warm water from the shower, repeating it a few times until the wig came away naturally. His real hair underneath was held back with lots of hair oil that had dried; it made his hair feel hard and crinkly to the touch, but it was wet in places from where the skull-clap the wig's hair was sewn to had let the water through. He still wore the Valentino dress and the stockings, having taken the high heeled boots off at his front door. Joshua mused for a few moments that if his next door neighbours turned up with their small daughter, Alice - who had recovered from her chicken pox - they would think he had a woman in his home. There actually had never been any women in his house, apart from Gerda, Lily, Alice - who was only a little child - and her Mum, Jun-Eun. Joshua sat down on his bathroom floor and slowly rolled the stockings off down his thighs, and down his calves. He didn't want to over-stretch or have one of his nails tear a hole in the grain. Not every garment he bought for the benefit of his clients was expensive, but at the end of the day, he was a man in stockings. Joshua felt he couldn's rip them off with thoughtless abandon.


He decided tomorrow he would go see his parents. He missed his Father.


Been surrounded by men all the time, servicing men - all of that doesn't make me crave a woman's touch, seeing as I still am a heterosexual man, Joshua typed further on his laptop. Every-time I get into the shower and I wash off someone else's ejaculation, someone else's scent, more happenings that will become my memories, I don't automatically run away from it all. There are days where I don't necessarily feel like sex; I don't want to see it, know about it, hear about it, do it. Been an escort isn't a job I do every single day. It's not as though I wake up every morning and service around the clock. There are days where I don't want it, and I'm happy I don't have to give it. There are days where I'm thankful that I don't hear from my two best friends, and even more thankful I am where I might call them in a moment of weakness and they don't pick up. When they text me after and apologise for missing my call, or they try to ring me back, there is a kind of power in knowing that I can say to myself, "I'll answer them say....eight hours time?" or I go to sleep at night without even looking at their messages. Been an escort hasn't made me bitter, or otherwise damaged. 


Should I crave a woman's touch amidst all of this masculinity and interaction with my own gender? Probably. But I don't have the time for complications and promises and faithful entwinement with another's person's soul and heart. I love my four favourite clients. Despite the fact I'm not homosexual, bisexual, pansexual - whatever you might say - they turn me on and make me alive. Of course I love them. But, I'm not in love with them. All of them know never to do anything stupid, either; dump me suddenly, get to serious. Propose even. One of my favourite clients is my youngest; he is not even in his twenties yet. He asked me to have my life so it never ends up like the American film, "Pretty Woman". He said that it would be so boring and typical if I was too fall for a rich client who was scared of heights.

Chapter Text

Joshua had the wig cleaned and re-packed perfectly in it's packaging when Jeonghan arrived to pick it up the next morning.


"I've only been awake for half an hour." Joshua answered when Jeonghan said about the kettle just boiling for a mug of coffee. He averted his gaze from Jeonghan, busying himself with making Jeonghan a coffee as well. That split-second sex dream he had had last night about Jeonghan at the party when the sports newsreader crashed into him. It still lingered in Joshua's head with a deep level of clarity that made it surreal to look at Jeonghan without the lightest bit of blood warming his skin below. It was enough for Joshua to feel a sense of shame.


"I thought you didn't like coffee." Jeonghan said, drinking from the mug Joshua made for him.


"You're right. But sometimes I get a need for it. About twice a year." Joshua put the ceramic lid of the coffee jar back together, and turned on the dishwasher for a few plates that were stacked in there.


"Hey, can I ask you something? Just from a dream I had last night -" Jeonghan began, suddenly vibrant.


"Shut it." Joshua warned him.


"What was the last song you listened to?" Jeonghan finished, raising his eyebrows in an expression that screamed See? Nothing to make a fuss about.


"Lust for Life by Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd." When he and Seong-hun had left the Penthouse, that had been the song playing on the hidden stereo system as couples fucked and danced and drank wine like it was water.


Joshua turned around as he felt Jeonghan gazing at him. "You don't have to hide her, you know." Jeonghan remarked softly.


"What are you on about?" Joshua said, genuinely clueless.


"I saw her shoes in the hallway." Jeonghan still spoke softly. "Can I meet her?"


"Jeonghan, it's not like that." Joshua answered.


"And don't tell me she's left either without her shoes. Those are a great pair of shoes." Jeonghan turned the coffee mug around in his hands, regarding Joshua as the other man hesitantly.


"They're my shoes." Joshua said. "But let me explain before you have a heart-attack."


"I'm not going to have a heart-attack over you telling me total shit." Jeonghan smiled open-lipped. "Why are you keeping her such a secret from me?"


"No, Jeonghan, genuinely they are my shoes and my feet actually fit into them. The head of my department at work has rumors flying about him; rumors about his sexuality." Joshua lied cleanly, words coming out of his mouth completely un-premeditated and natural. "They think he has things on his mind where I'm concerned. The high-paid lawyer and the cute young clerk, that type of thing. No one realized I get all of his work because I process and type it quicker more efficiently than any of the female secretaries. Everyone also thinks he's gay because he doesn't give much attention to the girls. He's not gay, he's just not interested. When we had the fancy-dress party last night, I said to him earlier before "Let's come up with a stupid plan. I can dress up - it being fancy dress - and no one will realize that your date to the party who recently had a tracheotomy is Joshua Hong the clerk you nay be screwing"."


"Where does the tracheotomy come into it?" Jeonghan interrupted.


"So I wouldn't have to talk and pretend to have a woman's voice." Joshua said. Jeonghan's mouth fell open a little bit.


"I put a round piece of plastic on my adam's apple with a white tube connected to it that disappeared down the front of the dress I wore. I was playing a part; that's what fancy dress is. Fantastical costumery and messing about. The hardest part was that every-time I breathed in and out I had to wheeze a bit."


Joshua grinned as Jeonghan buried his face in his hands, mumbling things Joshua didn't hear except a profound "You total idiot, Josh."


"Believe it or not, it worked." Joshua said.


"So...you pretended to be a girl and that girl being your boss's girlfriend at a fancy dress party to stop sexuality rumors about you and him?" Jeonghan repeated.


"Yes." Joshua nodded.


"Bullshit." Jeonghan gulped some of the coffee.


"I've got the dress, arsehole." Joshua challenged.


"Put it on, then." Jeonghan followed Joshua into his bedroom. Jeonghan stood there with his arms crossed as Joshua pulled off his clothes and threw them on the floor, before walking into the walk-in wardrobe and coming out with the dress on a coat-hanger. He undid the button at the nape of the neck at the back, and let the fabric slip onto his body over his head, feeding his arms through the armholes, before doing the button up at the back. Jeonghan stared at him, fully open-mouthed. Not a piece of him was taking the piss out of Joshua, or out of the dress. Joshua slapped Jeonghan on the shoulder and gestured for him to come to the front of the house. Joshua felt Jeonghan stare at his backside beneath the flower-patterned fabric as he pulled on the high-heel boots, and stood in front of Jeonghan.
Jeonghan parted his lips to talk, but no words came out.

"What do you think?" Joshua asked. "It was expensive." He plucked lightly at the fabric of the skirt.


"I don't believe it." Jeonghan turned around, clasping his hands at the back of his head, before looking back at Joshua again. 


"Let me put the wig on." Jeonghan followed Joshua into the bathroom once they had collected the box from the kitchen. Jeonghan saw, doubling over as he exclaimed, shocked, as suddenly a river of black hair ran down over Joshua's shoulders and back. Joshua quickly combed it into the curtain style he had last night. 


"Hello." Joshua saud, as Jeonghan's eyes widened.


"You look like a total fucking girl!" Jeonghan blurted out. 


"That was sort of the point." Joshua tilted his head to the side, moving his hands loosely by his side. "I had five men come and ask me to dance; absolutely no idea."


Jeonghan blurted out a strangled sort of noise. "What the fuck?" He leant against the vanity. "You're kidding me."


Joshua shook his head solemnly. "I'm not."


"Fuck, don't do that." Jeonghan said.


"What?" Joshua asked.


"All of this." Jeonghan moved his hand up and down, before collapsing internally again. "Fuck, do you realize just how much -"


"Yes." Joshua nodded. "Do you want me to take it off now?"


"I don't fucking know!" Jeonghan let out a burst of laughter. "Oh my God, honestly, Josh - shit!" Joshua gave him a few moments to calm down to rational thought and speech.


"Can I take a photo?" Jeonghan asked. "On my phone?"


"Can we not tell Seungcheol this?" Joshua quickly interjected.


"Why not?" Jeonghan's expression froze as Joshua quickly searched for an excuse.


"He'll tell Lily." Joshua said. Jeonghan exhaled heavily, rolling his eyes. But he understood, nevertheless. Seungcheol would tell Lily and show Lily the photograph and Lily would have Joshua pinned down as a "tranny" for the rest of his life.


"Why don't you like Lily?" Jeonghan implored.


"I do like Lily but I think she's the rudest little tart in this hemisphere. She's the sort of girl that insists her Grandfather should always mention her in the will."


"Shua!" Jeonghan protested, laughing appallingly.


"Take your photo." Joshua smooth down the wig and the dress over his thighs, and hoped that the camera didn't catch in it's photograph just how much of a liar he was. 

Chapter Text

With six bags already under one arm, Joshua had to knock on the door of the next sex shop he went into, and gesture wildly, hoping someone would appear to open the door and wouldn't mistake him for the police. 


Shopping in sex-shops, sleazy dives, and having to walk past Doctor's clinics and gynaecologists to get to these establishments. In any city in South Korea you go to, where there is a sex shop, there is usually a doctor's clinic either straight next door, or just down the road. The irony of it is practically funny. Receptionists can pop next door and try on £300 price-tag underwear and leather corsets on their lunch break. Probably black corsets


 He figured it would be pretty hard to mistake him for a policeman in his jeans, long brown scarf and white coat. It was the Autumn-time but it felt more like the Winter-time. This meant many things. Min-ho possibly taking him for a holiday to Paris before Christmas for a few days, the usual influx of businessmen and managers and company staff who had received their financial bonuses and wanted to splash out a bit of expense, a few more appointments from already signed clients who wanted to get some work in before Christmas; Joshua knocked on of the 19th of December until the 7th of January. 


Kaito.


In the Summer and Spring, Kaito lived with his Miko Mother - a Japanese Shinto Shaman, female - in the Japanese alps. In the Autumn and Winter, Kaito lived with his financial broker Father here in Seoul. This was the time of year when Joshua saw him, and the very thought of Kaito made his heart race. Kaito was born on Christmas Eve. No matter what, Joshua would give up as many Christmas parties as he had to just so he could spend the day with Kaito. It would be his eighteenth birthday, and for any human being, it was a huge event and very, very special.


Every six months, it could be described, Joshua replenished his stocks. He got rid of all the hand-cuffs, whips, dildos, vibrators, leather, bondage straps, underwear, and other equipment, and brought it all again - brand-new. The amount of condoms he went through every week on average was enough to make a person choke in shock, let alone what he went through every six months.


That night in particular he had lots of things to prepare for. It was one of his four favourite clients; Hyun-Woo, the thirty-six year old undertaker. Petrol in the car for the one-hundred-and-forty-kilometer drive to Hyun-Woo's country estate, condoms, lube, change of clothes, underwear, phone charger, a book, and lots of planning for the all-nighter.


Everything that goes into that bag of mine is important; but the most important thing on an all-nighter is my watch. A lot can happen on a all-nighter. The biggest growing market in escoting/hookerism/prostitution/whoring is the girlfriend/boyfriend experience (as well as the revolting Sugar-Daddy and Sugar-Mummy craze which I have never been subjected to and will never subject myself to). Now, that doesn't mean been paid to be moody and for him to try and work out what's wrong. No, this is a particular service. I've never been a very boyfriend in real life, but for one night only, I am the perfect boyfriend


Joshua sighed happily to himself as the electronic gates to Hyung-Woo's property opened automatically for Joshua's Jeep as soon as they sensed the vehicle. Hyung-Woo's house was a traditional Korea Hanok home, except, seven times as big as the average and traditional, and three storey's tall on one hundred acres of land in which farmers paid him rent for their sheep and cattle to graze on his land. Garden surrounded the house all over; Korean Oak, Acorn, Maple, and Pine trees instead of the Anglo-Saxon or Slavic varieties, with gardenias, chrysanthemums, bell-drops, irises, orchids, mixed wild-flowers and hedgerows. It was a masterpiece of a property, and worth a bloody lot of money. The Hanok's straw-and-clay walls were painted white, with the timber foundations and decoration visible painted black; the style was faintly reminiscent of the Tudor-era houses in England, Joshua mused to himself. As he parked the Jeep in one of the two barns on the acreage property, the doors already open and ready for his arrival, Joshua heard barking from Hyung-Woo's pet Labrador, Ichko. Joshua squatted down on the ground, his bag over his shoulder, rubbing Ichko's stomach as he laid down on his back, paws in the air. Ichko followed Joshua as he walked onto the verandah of the Hanok, and found the front door already un-locked for him to walk in. 


Some of my clients, they're not just after sex. They want the intimacy, the exclusivity of a real relationship. Especially if it's one of my favourite four clients. Because they know money doesn't come into it anymore. The traditional client-escort relationship is dead and instead something new in nature and humanly profound takes place instead. And what is wrong with that? We all want to be held


"Hello, love." Joshua held out his arms as the man came down the first set of stairs from his study on the second floor, in a thick navy jumper and tailored trousers. Hyung-Woo had his glasses on that Joshua said made him look like a Doctor, and Joshua could smell the smoke on him from the pipe tobacco he smoked. Hyung-Woo had once told him despite been in his thirties rather than his seventies, he smoked a pipe because his Father did. Hyung-Woo had told Joshua had had always conceived it as the best way to smoke; every year the cigarette companies made the filter in their cigarettes a little bit longer, so every decade you were getting about three millimeter's less cigarette and three millimeter's more Styrofoam filter. "When I put my tobacco into my pipe I know I'm getting the same as I was when I was eighteen."


So, at half past seven, and from this moment onwards, I'm on the clients time. A treat for the night; a gift to himself. Hyung-Woo is one of the most worldly, honourable, decent, intelligent men I've ever met. And if someone hurt me, he would kill them - or Seong-hyun would - and then Hyung-Woo would do their funeral; perfect way to hide and clean the body and no one would be none the wiser.


"I've got hair down there." Joshua told him.


"I've got a new jumper." Hyung-Woo replied. They laughed together before Joshua gave him a kiss.


"I've got a surprise for you." Joshua pulled out tickets to a Verdei opera. Hyung-Woo exclaimed happily.


"I could not find them and I've been searching frantically for ages." The man said.


"Yes, but I do something you don't. Online shopping." Joshua grinned. He went out and spent companionable time with all of his four favourites, but Hyung-Woo was the only one he had ever been to an opera too. Seong-hun was not suited to opera and neither was it his style or taste, Kaito was too young, and going with Min-ho to a theatre display like that was always a challenge because Min-ho - of course - would know every single person there, talk to them for ages, and before the second act started his hand would be creeping up the inside of Joshua's thigh in the darkness.


"Would you like to come upstairs or can I get you a drink first?" Hyung-woo asked.


"Oh, no thanks." Joshua replied. He blushed as Hyung-Woo nodded. "You make really nice tea, but...I'll tell you after so I don't completely gross you out and give you a need of a new set of lungs due to laughing."


Hyung-Woo held out his arm. "Shall we?"


All my older clients - my favourites and my regular clients - always do this. The gentleman giving his arm and his hand to hold. I've come to know it to be a gesture in middle-aged, old-wordly raised closet-gay men. That sweet, old-fashioned manners in regular behaviour. Nothing beats it. Hyung-Woo, Min-ho - truthfully, Min-ho does it because he can be a bit of a smart-arse and, of course, he's an artist which automatically means all things temperamental - and Seong-hun all do this. Kaito and I take one look at each other and we're running through my house like children in a play-ground, racing each other to get up the stairs, and then jumping onto the bed like we are going into a swimming pool. 


Joshua laid down on Hyung-Woo's bed as he ushered Ichko outside downstairs and out to his bed in the barn where Joshua parked his Jeep; Hyung-Woo's Hanok was full of expensive Russian and Chinese antiques that couldn't be broken or damaged by a Labrador who meant no harm. So, Ichko was an outside dog, even though he was kept immacutely clean and fed bacon every morning, by sleeping in the barn in blankets and straw. Joshua liked the smell of the washing powder that Hyung-Woo used for his clothes and his bed linen. Joshua couldn't describe it, apart from the fact that scent made him warm and happy and homely; he would always associate that smell with Hyung-Woo.


Hyung-Woo's biggest sin is that he believes he has to give me £8,400 to have twenty-four hours of my company. I let him put the cash money into a small suitcase, but during the night when he goes to sleep - once you hit thirty-five years old as a man you have trouble staying awake at night - I sneak downstairs and give the money back. In clearer words, I hide and stash £8,400 cash money around his Hanok. I put it into his bedside tables, under the sink in his bathroom, on his book and DVD shelves; I put it in his office, in the pantry, but never in places I know he'll never find it, like the spare bedrooms in the Hanok he just doesn't use.


Joshua began to take off his clothes, waiting for Hyung-Woo to come back. 


The first job of an all nighter is to get that first orgasm; get the hormones and endorphins flowing. It sets us up for the rest of the evening; he relaxes, and I can think

Chapter Text

Joshua unlocked Hyung-Woo's front door, and wandered outside onto the verandah, looking up at the stars of the galaxy above that was one display admist the cloud cover in the sky. Apparently it was going to pour rain tomorrow and with it, bring thunderstorms. There were lots of tall trees around Hyung-Woo's Hanok. He hoped none of the trees fell through Hyung-Woo's roof. 


This is the only bad thing about all-nighters. If you can't sleep, and it's too late to call any of your friend, you're stuffed. The problem with Hyung-Woo is that he is a deep sleeper. Once his eyes closed, he's lost to the world until the dawn of the next morning. It's a great thing for his health, but it's not so good for my patience.


Joshua went back inside and called Jeonghan.


"Hey, I just got home literally five minutes ago." Jeonghan said delightedly on the other end of the line. Joshua smiled to himself. "I've got nothing to do and I can't sleep and it's only half past eleven. Not that late."


"I've got nothing to do as well." Joshua answered, lying down on the couch, crossing his ankles together and sitting his feet up on the arm of the couch.


"Seriously? I thought with your clerk job you'd be typing until the keyboard was on fire." Jeonghan said, laughing a little bit.


"The guys I type for most of the time - they's not got much on this week. Three burgleries, two street violence cases - drunken assaults in pubs - and eight divorce settlements to go through the family courts." Joshua replied. 


"Are the divorce rates really that high?" Jeonghan sounded surprised.


"In April I had seventy-three cases in one week." Joshua quipped thoughtfully, remembering the amount of angry-faced couples and the ones who looked sad or just completely cold. Jeonghan swore.


"That's too many." He responded.


"Some of them were death cases; the husband or the wife had died from a terminal illness, a workplace accident, or a sickness." Joshua paused. "A few suicides." He quickly pulled off the topic. "Anything interesting happen today?"


"I think I saw one of the make-up girls staring at my arse as I bent over to lubricate the axle on one of the Gimbal cameras." Jeonghan said. Joshua covered his mouth so he wouldn't wake Hyung-Woo up as he burst out laughing, nearly hysterically. He thought it was one of the funniest things Jeonghan had ever said to him.


"Is she pretty?" Joshua asked.


"Last time I heard she was gay." Jeonghan quipped.


"You sure it was you she was staring at?" Joshua's brow furrowed. 


"Let's forget about it, otherwise I'll actually think about it. You really don't have any work to do? No supervisors telling you off?" Jeonghan checked.


"Not a single one." Joshua said. "I need something to do; what do you think?"


"Something stupid and inapprioate." Jeonghan replied simply. "Masturbate in your boss's office, work for the rest of the night in your undies, do a live-stream on instagram with one of the night secretaries, buy a pregnancy test and put it in the staff-room -"


"You're gagging for some sex, aren't you?" Joshua snorted a laugh. "Masturbating, pregnancy tests, getting my clothes off?" He grinned at the ceiling of Hyung-Woo's sitting room. 


"Shut up..." Jeonghan replied, clearly slightly embarrassed. Joshua didn't let it up. Now they were talking about it, he wanted to know and he definitely wanted to talk about it.
"What do you like?" Joshua asked. Jeonghan didn't immediately answer.


"What are you even saying?" Jeong answered.


"Sex, you idiot." Joshua said. Jeonghan laughed, but it was slightly indignant.


"I'll tell you if you tell me what you like." Jeonghan bargained. Joshua grinned again. Oh, trust me, when it comes to what I like, he thought.


"Actual sex, getting sucked off..." Joshua said. "Bondage -"


"What, seriously?!" Jeonghan exclaimed. "You like getting tied up and blindfolded and having things stuck in your mouth?"


"Yeah, a little bit." Joshua smiled a bit. "Now you tell me." He replied to Jeonghan.


"Having sex when I'm drunk...and being on top." Jeonghan finally admitted. "Or having a fight about whose on top. Constantly getting shoved over and rolled over."


"I like someone giving it as much to me as I do to them," Joshua said as Jeonghan went quiet. "But...there's a bit of vulnerability sometimes when you're just lying there. You lose control sometimes."


"What are you doing tomorrow night? Friday night?" Jeonghan asked. 


"Nothing."


"Come around. We'll do something."


When he said goodnight to Jeonghan a few hours later - nearly two 'o' clock in the morning - Joshua climbed back up the stairs and climbed into bed beside Hyung-Woo, feeling guilty he had left the man all by himself. Even in his deep sleep, Joshua knew that Hyung-Woo would have been able to sense that his thin, warm body wasn't there. Joshua wrapped his arms around and beneath Hyung-Woo, tired, cuddling into his chest. 

Chapter Text

"Morning." Joshua blinked sleepily at Hyung-Woo as he felt the older man stir.


"I slept very well." Hyung-Woo said. "Come down; I'll make you breakfast."


Joshua shook his head slightly, pillowed on Hyung-Woo's arm. "Let's skip it." He whispered.


"Oh, no." Hyung-Woo kissed his cheek. "A funeral director can't walk around with a stupid smile on his face and a happy expression when he's dealing with very upset clients whose family members are in your cold-fridge or the mourge."


Joshua rolled his eyes, making Hyun-Woo laugh. "Come on." He begged. "Let me get you off."


"Fine." Hyung-Woo gave in, but as Joshua went to move, Hyung-Woo pushed him back gently, before he lifted Joshua's legs up so his knees were either side of Hyung-Woo's shoulders, and Hyung-Woo took Joshua in his mouth. Joshua gasp, his back arching and his hands clutching the bed-sheets. Hyung-Woo could really, really suck. He was fucking good at it. Joshua kept gasping breaths and moaning as Hyung-Woo's tongue pressed firmly against his slit, moving back and forth. Joshua tried not to squirm, even thought it was only of pleasure, not pain. For a few second, Joshua's cock slipped out of Hyung-Woo's mouth, the older man temporarily giving Joshua a bit of relief, pressing a kiss to the inside of his thigh. When Hyung-Woo resumed the oral sex, Joshua's hands desperately and firmly gripped onto the wooden bed-head behind them.


"Hyung-Woo..." Joshua said, leaning up on his elbows, throwing his head back as Hyung-Woo's head continued to bob up and down in his lap. He was close to coming. "Hyung-Woo...ah!" He moaned as he came. He laughed weakly, falling back down onto the bed as Hyung-Woo wiped his mouth on the sheets.


"I think I need to get into the shower for a few minutes." Joshua said, smiling. "Want to join?"

 

-----------------------------------------

 

"Call me, yeah? I want to see you again soon." Joshua said, leaning out of the driver's window and kissing Hyung-Woo on the mouth. Joshua pressed his face into the crook of Hyung-Woo's shoulder for a moment, smelling his skin and the bath-soap, before running a thumb along his jaw-line.


"Of course, see you." Hyung-Woo waved as Joshua drove down the driveway.


All-nighters...there's tricks to them, there's curves to them. For no matter how much I care for my favourites...it's not entirely real. They still give me money, even though I tell them not to and I hide their money back into their houses. I can't always help it, and neither can they. So, this is what happens. Especially in the colder months, the Autumn and the Winter. I stay for a long time; I fall in with them, sleep with them, love with them. I get up, walk around, phone a friend. Then, the Dawn comes and I find that I'm back beside them in that bed, all fresh and new and bright for the morning. More sex takes place sometimes; it's like - we see it as it would be rude not to. It's not sensual and heady. It's all-feeling and quite funny.


It will sound bad, but in many ways, but I both hate and enjoy leaving. I hate leaving these men because that's what they are; they're are the best kind of men. Wholesome, loving, intelligent, worldly, understand. They're all different. But I enjoy leaving them. I'm only in my early twenties. And all bar one of my favourites are in their thirties and their forties. There is no crime, or indecency in that. But it does is make me someone who is in a relationship of sorts with a man in their thirties or forties. To me, age doesn't matter...but it does. They are aged, and there are consequences with that age. Reputation, empire. Image. I would always be the "bit on the side". The younger, handsome man; the ulzzang embodiment.


I'm a man as well. That in itself complicates things. I don't have raving desires for "acceptance" or anything like that. I don't wish for any of my favourites to be spat on in the street for not wanting women carnally. But, then again, no one in the world has a right to an opinion where their lives and concerned and how they are led. These men aren't criminals. They are not paedophiles. People might refer to them as that, even, though it's incorrect if we were seen together. I'm not a child, but I'm young enough to be in people's eyes on the outside compared to these business-man and highly-reputable men.


It's a balance. One that is infinite at times.


It's good that I go. Because I always come back to them.

Chapter Text

I spend most of my life removing hair, toning my body, keeping things attractive. Been an escort involves pain, and it's almost always self-inflicted. But sometimes pain can be pleasure


Joshua grunted as he shut his front door, exhausted from running for an hour and a half. Eight and a half miles. In two hours he had a morning client.


"Sleep for an hour, get into the shower, and then..." Joshua stop talking aloud, making notes for himself as he had trouble straightening back up after getting his runners off. He swore. Water. Sleep. Piss. Shower. Get stark naked for client, who of all things, was employed by the government as a tax-man. Late fifies. Not over-weight. Thick grey hair on his chest; receding on his head. Talked to him about the bank interest rates after the sex. It was tax time pretty soon as well. Joshua decided he'd sort it out with him.
He groaned flopping down onto his bed, going to sleep immediately.

 

------------------------------------

 

Cheol-Soo thrust three more times into Joshua before sighing fullfullingly, and rolling of the top of Joshua, settling down on the bed beside Joshua, who still lay on his stomach. Cheol-Soo liked fucking him with Joshua's back to his chest.


"So, how much do I owe you?" Joshua asked, smiling a little bit, gazing at Cheol-Soo.


"Er..." Cheol-Soo thought. "Let's make it £300."


Joshua rolled over and grabbed his box of notes as Cheol-Soo put on his reading glasses and got tax return papers off of the bed-side table on his side. Joshua had a quick read of it through with Cheol-Soo.


"It's just gone even, hasn't it?" Joshua said.


"Uh, no. I need to do this by the book; declare it. You earn it, I need a receipt." Cheo-Soo said. Joshua scoffed a laugh, rolling his eyes. He quickly wrote out a receipt for Cheol-Soo, reading, "One appointment consisting of three round of oral sex where I - Joshua Hong - delivered to Park Cheol-Soo, and one count of anal sex I - Joshua Hong - received from Park Cheol-Soo". 


"Thank you." Cheol-Soo said, but raised his eyebrows as he read it.


"Please start to put away 40% now -" Cheol-Soo began.


"I know." Joshua nodded.


"Otherwise you'll get a nasty shock next week." Cheol-Soo took off his glasses. He exhaled a deep breath.


"Are you alright?" Joshua rolled onto his side. Cheol-Soo glanced down at him, his expression warm.


"Everything's fine."


"Sure?"


"My wife's been diagnosed with cervical cancer." Cheol-Soo gave in. 


"Cheol-Soo, I'm so sorry. Is she okay?" Joshua felt sick suddenly.


"It's not terminal. But...it's complicated. Ji-Ah first got it when she was twenty-one, and then at thirty-six. Now it's back. Ji-Ah had her ovaries taken out when she was thirty-six, but we had already had Hei-Ran. I would have liked more children, but things were the way they were."


"How many kids would you have liked?" Joshua asked. Cheo-Soo chuckled.


"About six I think." Joshua laughed at Cheo-Soo's response. "I've always liked the number six. I didn't think Ji-AH would want to be pregnant and give birth six times. And that's fine. It's her body, not mine. I understand. But, yeah, six children. Six little ones. I would have really liked that." Cheol-Soo sighed. "Sometimes, there are things that you do...."


"Hey, you can tell me whatever you want." Joshua said as Cheol-Soo went to stutter.


"There are things I think about, Jisoo." Cheol-Soo admitted. Joshua smiled.


"Tell me." He poked Cheol-Soo's shoulder.


"You've always been so good to me."


"If it wasn't for you I'd be panicking over a shoe-box of receipts and unexplained income." Joshua said.


"No, you see...I don't want you to be nice to me." Cheol-Soo implored.


The penny dropped for Joshua, who digested the brand new news gently. Cheol-Soo had been a client for five months. This had never before been asscioated with him, let alone...Joshua would never thought that Cheol-Soo - considering his age as well - would ask him this.

 

------------------------------------

 

Joshua was slumped on Jeonghan's couch, his head his Jeonghan lap and his feet in Seungcheol's as a random movie played half un-watched on the TV. He was drinking cold green tea while Jeonghan and Seungcheol were drinking beers - at least Seungcheol was. Jeonghan had been given a box of cider in tin cans by a visiting Irish reporter - who Jeonghan had got to know - who had done the speak-over for a program filmed in the Gyreonsan mountain district, and was been aired on the channel Jeonghan worked as a camera-man for. Jeonghan had ordered a couple of pizza's, but Joshua hadn't touch any of them; given the run that had exhausted him this morning, and the sex with Cheol-Soo and two other clients that day, the last thing he felt like doing was eating. People never thought about it like that. People always assumed that after sex, people slept, showered, pissed, and then ate. Joshua couldn't stomach a thing afterwards the sex as a rule. He, Jeonghan and Seungcheol were talking about women - a.k.a Lily - sex, and just how much botox the female news anchor at Jeonghan's news channel had actually had.


"I bet you're real kinky in the bedroom, Cheol." Joshua quipped, making Jeonghan laugh.


"Oh yeah, baby, I'm the boss in the bedroom." Seungcheol winked, slapping Joshua's lower stomach.


"Of course you are - smack her about do you?" Joshua scrunched his nose.


"Yeah, got to teach her." Seungcheol wriggled his eyebrows.


"As long as it is an open palm, sir." Joshua and Seungcheol both winked, talking in daggy accents.


"What the hell is this?" Jeonghan asked, getting concerned.


"Common and rough-as-shag English-men from the 1930's." Joshua explained to Jeonghan. "Taking the piss out of the British and all the stuff that actually used to go on. It wasn't just the world wars, policeman in tall hats with whistles, tea parties at the church ground."


"I've been seeing this girl -" Joshua lied. "And she's quite into bondage and choking and all of that domintrix stuff."
"What girl?" Jeonghan said as Seungcheol commented, "Dominatrix stuff?"


"Just a girl." Joshua replied, suddenly feeling awkward, and having to lie his arse off.


"Like who? Do we know her?" Seungcheol said.


"Doubt it." Joshua shook his head.


"Is it serious?" Jeonghan checked.


"It's not serious. I see her sometimes." Joshua squirmed. "That's all."


Sometimes I wish I could be a little bit more honest. Everytime I say something like this, slyly trying to get advice, it makes them get a bad opinion of me and how I treat "women". They're always "women"; gender-swapping the clients when related by mouth to my two best friends. And, even if I did tell them I was getting with men; the thing is, I'm actually not. I'm heterosexual. And another thing - I get paid for it. And that's why I do it


"What would you two say if I said I'm going to ask Lily to marry me?" Seungcheol said slowly after a little bit. Joshua put his mug down on the ground and sat up straight.
"Don't you dare; you'll ruin your life, she's a total bitch, the worst thing that has ever happened to you." Joshua said at the same time Jeonghan said, "That's crazy, Cheol! You really want to get married? Oh my God, come here, come here!" And held out his arms for the oldest man out of all of them.


Seungcheol stared at them both, but mostly Josh, and began to nearly piss himself laughing, leaning back into the opposite end of the couch.


"Don't you dare; you'll ruin your life, she's a total bitch, the worst thing that has ever happened to you?" Seungcheol echoed to Joshua, who just stared at him, his mouth falling open a bit.


"What do you even see in her?" Joshua put to him. Jeonghan told Joshua in the background to not be an arsehole, but Seungcheol and Joshua ignored him.


"She's truly a wonderful woman." Seungcheol answered. "The sex is incredible."


Joshua genuinely felt revolted by the sentiment, and his whole body and face showed his internal feelings. Why Lily? Of all the six billion women or whatever the number was - of all the women in the world, and all the women in South Korea, why did Seungcheol have to go for Lily? Jeonghan finally reached over past Joshua, and hugged Seungcheol, who looked stunned.


"I haven't ask her to marry me, you know?" He said. "I just meant - I wanted to know what you would think if I did, and, obviously..." He scoffed, messing the air at the back of his head.


"Have you picked a ring or anything like that?" Joshua asked, half-in half-out of Jeonghan's lap.


"We could go and look at the jeweller's together." Jeonghan enthused.


"We don't need to. My Dad gave me my Grandmother's ring. It's taken care of. I didn't mean guys...I was just wondering. I'm twenty-six years old. I work in a bar, and I'll be going into the army soon for a few terms. I want to start making things...concrete things." Seungcheol explained. They settled into a quiet for a few moments, mostly all of Joshua's fault.


"I'd be doing the wedding photography and video, right?" Jeonghan said aloud after a while. Seungcheol laughed, and so did Joshua.


"Of course, Hannie." Seungcheol smiled. He looked to Joshua. "Why don't you ever tell us about the rotating wheel of girls in your life?" He put to Joshua.


Joshua sighed. "Because it's never concrete, Cheol. They come, and they go. I see them a few nights, but then they go after a while. It's not life-long. I make an effort, they do to. I work to please them, and they pay for it. They're usually not girls I work with." Joshua got off Jeonghan's lap, and sat on the couch cross-legged in-between the two of them.

"They nearly all have serious boyfriends that they cheat on." Joshua tipped his head back, leaning against the couch's cushions. "And that's that. I can't find anybody who would actually bunk down and stay, you know what I mean? And, look, that's just how it is, ok?"

 

Chapter Text

"I tried being a dom, Josh." Gerda said to Joshua sagely, sitting in his sitting room. Joshua had poured got her a beer, and she drank a little bit of it. Gerda was quite a attractive woman, and had taken good care of her skin. She was an intensely Korean-looking woman, quite old-world, thick-boned features. Nowhere near the ulzzang ideals that were plastered on the fronts of magazines this day and age. "Doesn't make any money."


"I'm not making a career swerve, Gerda." Joshua explained. "I just want to give it a go."


"Good." Gerda looked at him pointedly. "I understand. Do this job long enough and you want to kick the shit out of a man eventually."


"No, it's not that, I like him. And he does my taxes." Joshua replied, shaking his head at the suddenly livid, mildly vigilant look in the shape of Gerda's mouth and her eyes. She pulled her black leather handbag onto her lap, and fished around, before pulling out her wallet. Gerda smirked cruelly.


"There's a woman called Sirena; French-Korean. Runs a dungeon in a cave in the country. She comes up to Seoul on the weekends; she's a skinny lesbian." Gerda pushed a business card across the coffee table for Joshua. "Tell the bitch I said hi." The smirk got more profound, and even dangerously gleeful as Joshua examined it, before laughing. Job was set.

 

----------------------------------------

 

The next day, Saturday, Joshua opened his front door to be greeted with the sight of a woman with thick black hair in perfect curtain waves down either side of her face and torso, in a high-necked long-sleeved latex dress with the hem below her knees; she had on black gloves, French-style make-up, and a young woman behind her in a black dress like a over-sized t-shirt and fishnet stockings. The younger woman had a black dog collar around her neck, and thick, chunk-helled boots on, with a fringe and dead straight hair, as black as her clothes. The young girl carried a handbag, and a large trunk.


"Hi, I wondered if you could spare us a few moments to talk about Jesus." Sirena raised an eyebrow, mocking Jehovah Witness's.


"You must be Sirena." Joshua grinned, leaning against the doorway. Sirena smiled broadly, walking in with the young girl.


"Hello, darling!" She greeted Joshua happily. Joshua greeted the young girl, but she didn't say anything. Joshua led them through to the sitting room, where he sat down with Sirena on the couch. As the young girl went to, Sirena barked at her.


"Ah, I don't think so." She commanded. "Position three."


Joshua watched, internally horrified, as the girl got down on her knees and began to strip on the ground beside where she had put the suitcase.


"You don't mind do you?" Sirena said pleasantly. She seemed like someone's lovely sister, except Sirena was in her late forties at the least. The other girl must have only been Joshua's age, or flat out twenty. "She's not allowed clothes indoors."


"Oh, no, I'm used to it." Joshua replied faintly as suddenly a completely naked, scarily thin girl was on all-fours on the floor, the collar still around her neck.


"Can I get you anything to drink?" Joshua said to Sirena.


"Oh, green tea if you have it." Sirena beamed. The girl looked through Sirena's handbag, and pulled out a thick chain.


"Does your friend -?" Joshua looked to the young girl.


"Only with asking me." Sirena said. She barked again at the young girl. "Do you want anything to drink, pet?"


"Yes, mistress." The young girl spoke for the first time. Her voice was sweet and high.


"You can drink out of the nice man's toilet then, can't you?" Sirena raised an eyebrow coldly.


"Actually -" Joshua interjected. "I'd rather - rather she didn't."


Joshua walked out of the room as the girl connected the chain to her collar.

 

-----------------------------------------

 

Joshua couldn't help often glancing down at the girl; she drank tea out of a soup-bowl on the floor like an animal, her eyes covered by a leather mask with pin-prick holes in it. "So why not send your client my way?" Sirena asked Josh, sipping the tea, one leg folded over another back on the couch. Joshua had opened the curtains, letting in the soft-focus autumn light, and all around him were views of forests and gardens turning shades of ornage, red, gold, brown and yellow.


"Because I'm curious and he's gay." Joshua explained. Sirena made an understanding noise.


"Curiosity is the first step to enlightenment." Sirena replied, sighing.


"I thought it killed the cat." Joshua glanced down again at the naked, chain, and bandaged girl on the floor.


"Jisoo, I like you. I like anyone with a open mind and clean shoes." Sirena praised. "Just to be clear though, I take this job seriously." She ducked her chin.


"Of course." Joshua crossed his arms, leaning into the couch.


"Some people meditate, some people pray -" Sirena said pointedly.


"Sure." Joshua nodded.


"And fetish is not something for working girls or boys to retire too once their balls and breasts have started to sag." Sirena raised an eyebrow. Joshua frowned slightly.


"My testicles are fine." He answered.


"Then -" Sirena gave her mug to Joshua. "Let's begin." She ordered. She clapped her hands.


Sirena opened up the suitcase, showing a display of what were undeniably weapons; riding crops, whips, polished bars of metal and wood, what looked like cake decorating knives and leather masks, mouth-gags, and bondage straps.


"To speak in very basic terms -" Sirena educated Joshua, the girl now standing with her ankles together, her back to them. "It breaks down into cross-dressing, role-play, Japanese rope-bondage, dog training, mate-training, dildo training, slave beating and medical - but you're just a beginner." She smiled as Joshua pushed some of his hair back from his face. "If he married?" Sirena asked Joshua of Cheol-Soo.


"Yeah. Obviously, she doesn't know..." Joshua gestured down to Sirena's riding crop.


"Shame." Sirena said softly. "All of these secrets..."


"So, uh, how do I avoid leaving marks?" Joshua rubbed the back of his head awkwardly, gesturing to the naked girl.


"Ah! The key is building up." Sirena smacked her hand in a rhythm against the girl's bare arse. "Light smacking, light flogging, soft leather." She gripped the girl's left arse cheek. "You increase the circulation, get it red. The fluid in the tissue acts as a cushion; far less likely to bruise or split." She smiled. "Then you can go to town. Position four!" She barked at the girl. The girl got down onto her hands and knees.


"Avoid -" Sirena gestured with the whip to all of the girl's back. "Avoid." She gestured to the top of the girl's arse. "Here -" She whipped the girl at the bottom of her right arse cheek. "And here -" she whipped her on the left arse cheek on the side. 


"Now get off the carpet, you disgust me." Sirena said to the girl.


"Yes, Mistress." The girl crawled across the floor, settling on all-fours again, still, on the tiles.


"Before we go any further, can I use your bathroom?" Sirena asked Joshua.


"Oh, yeah, sure, it's just up the hall to the right in the second floor." Joshua pointed, feeling slightly dismayed as Sirena walked off, and he was left alone with the young girl. He gazed at her a little bit, but looked away as the girl twisted her head to the side to look at him. Her chain connected to her collar clunked on the ground.


"Zyi!" Sirena yelled. "Wipe!" Joshua shrunk in on himself as the girl put her chain in her mouth and crawled up the hallway to the bathroom on the second floor.

 

----------------------------------

 

Sirena smiled as Joshua securely finished tying a bondage knot, tying both of her fists together. "That's a very good lark." She praised Joshua. "Did you do scouts?"
"I watched that on a horror film once." Joshua chuckled. "Now, what about the sex?"


Sirena just stared at him, suddenly expressionless. "There is no sex." She stated.

"None at all?" Joshua leant his chin against his fist. "How do you know when your finished?"


"I watch them, mon enfant." Sirena said. "I'm a Goddess to my slaves; that's what they want. I don't have sex with them. Plus I'm a married woman; in Italy anyway with their laws." She smiled lovingly. Joshua could tell she was telling the truth.


"Does your wife know?" A smile bloomed on Joshua's face.


"Of course she knows, the sitting room is a dungeon."


"Oh, wow, that's great!" Joshua chuckled. "Is she in the business?"


Sirena laughed. "No, Francesca is a physicist; but she's often there, pottering about, making tea."


"That must be lovely. Sharing it with someone."


"It's marriage." She looked down beneath the table, to where the girl was licking her boots clean. "Not clean enough." Sirena said, before kicking the girl in the stomach, making her moan. "You try." She said to Joshua.


Joshua hesitated for a moment, before kicking the girl. As she moaned at that, Sirena burst out laughing and Joshua hid his face in his hands.


"That is so bizarre." He said. "I'm sorry." He said to the girl under the table. He glanced at Sirena, to see if she would make comment on it, but she didn't.


"You've got to see, Jisoo, it's a huge relief to some people." Sirena said.


"Not been in charge?" Joshua questioned. Sirena hummed a reply. 


"She's -" She pointed to the table. " - Not doing these dirty things, her Mistress is forcing her too. She's got no choice."


"Yeah, it must be kinda of peaceful under the table." Joshua checked on the girl down here. "I think I'm starting to get it, Sirena."


Sirena nodded. "Then you're ready."

Chapter Text

Joshua grunted a breath as he picked up one end of the couch, and managed to move it a little bit along the carpet. He didn't want to stratch the tiles or leaving any marks on the carpet that couldn't be vacumned out.


Note: When moving furniture - always roll up the rugs, disassemble furniture if you have to to make the job easier, and shoving the bed linen and pillows into the wardrobe is alright, just as so long you can keep the door shut


"Shit!" He swore as he dropped the couch onto his foot. He felt even more irate as he genuinely found himself thinking about what he would have to buy. I'm not wearing...that, Joshua thought to himself as he typed into Google "male dom". One model was shown wearing a cock-ring and a leather jock-strap with studs. Maybe it's just easier to get dressed up as a woman, he thought. But that latex dress of Sirena's looked lethal. She must have to cut herself out of that thing every night and then get a dressmaker to fix it.
He snorted a laugh to himself as he typed into Google instead, "classy female dom", and suddenly images of 1930's style blouses and 1940's dresses came up in colours mainly grey, white and black, all made from latex. 


Cheol-Soo never made gender-specific comments in this..."role-play", Joshua decided to himself.


That's the thing with nudity. It's never the actual nudity that is the problem, it's the vulnerability. And wearing leather jocks-traps with studs and a cock-ring, it's not about the vulnerability. It's the ridiculousness that someone would find that more of a turn-on over simply, natural nudity. But be semi covered up with pieces of a dead cow?


When Joshua was in one of the sex shops he went to frequently, he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket, but he didn't answer it. When Joshua did check his phone later, he saw it was Seungcheol who had called. Fuck, he'll think I'm giving him the silent treatment over fucking Lily, Joshua thought bitterly, eight bags resting on one of his arms. As I said to Jeonghan and Cheol last night - any other woman. Any other woman, it would be fine. But bloody Lily!


Joshua nearly fell out of the doorway of the third sex shop he had to visit when his phone rang again, and it rang again as Joshua checked that everything was stored away properly as he had to borrow a ladder from his next door neighbours to start putting black plastic sheeting up over the windows, and the red velvet connected by a neck from the ceiling. Joshua fished around in the bags, and found the thick baton whip with multiple hairs of soft leather on the end.


And, frankly, thank God I didn't get  hit by a bus, he thought, grinning to himself, pulling out the eye-masks, the bondage straps, and the ten ton of leather, leather, leather, all one shade of black. That morning as well - delivered into his back garden for privacy reasons - Joshua had bought a black suede lounge chair that had the structure of a cartoon horse in it's body; a wide, long leather seat that bowed in the middle, rising higher at  the top then at the bottom, with floor sharp metal legs at the base. 


As well as the two six-foot high metal mediaeval-style candelabra that had twenty-eight inch-thick scentless candles stuck into it's holders, he placed with side of the leather chair-bench. A good square-footage section of his house had been transformed into the "dungeon". At least with their been no sex, he wouldn't be too un-bothered to have to move everything back into it's rightful place before the night was over. Joshua stood back, admiring the effects of the candles in the dark space as he lit their wicks.


As he laid out what had formally been his desk - now covered with black velvet - with all of the "tools" for that evening, his phone rang again. This time, it was Jeonghan. Joshua didn't answer it, but listened the message Jeonghan left, and the last one that Seungcheol left.


From Jeonghan, "Hey, Shua, it's me. I know you're pissed with Cheollie about Lily but can you call me back - me - so we know that you haven't died somewhere?"


Joshua rolled his eyes as he tapped on Seungcheol's last voice-message. "Josh, it's Seungcheol, can you pick up I've been trying you loads, you're been an arsehole."


Joshua slammed down his phone and turned up the music on his phone as he tapped into his Spotify playlist.

 

----------------------------------

 

Joshua had re-borrowed that dress wig of Jeonghan, saying it was for the purpose for another dress-up party; not a company one, but for the 27th birthday party one of the secretaries he was friend's with. Joshua fixed it into place, and adjusted the high-necked, long-sleeved, and ankle-length latex dress, slipping on a pair of black high-hells. Just as he decided he was ready, the a knock sounded on the door. He grabbed one of the leather g-strings he had bought for Cheol-Soo, and hoped it would fit the man. Joshua opened the door, and stared coldly at Cheol-Soo, who gawped at the sight of him.


"Close the door." Joshua said emotionlessly, walking down the hallway and into the "dungeon". He was simultaneously terrified, but also having a bit of fun with this..."experiment". 


"Clothes off." Joshua said. He gave the g-string to Cheol-Soo. "Wear this." He pointed at his feet. "Kneel here."


"Yes." Cheol-Soo said, slightly breathless.


"Yes, what?" Joshua raised an eyebrow.


"Yes, m-" Cheol-Soo frowned slightly, looking at Joshua's outfit. The penny dropped. Master, Joshua mouthed. "Yes, Master." Cheol-Soo said, slightly more confident, though still evidently shocked. Joshua walked across the room, almost thinking that one of the candles had gone out by itself; the leather of the skirt squeaked as he moved.


The trick is you work everything out in advance by email. The script, the scenario, even the insults I am going to use and have been worked out beforehand. 


"Hands behind your back." Joshua said, getting a length of rope as Cheol-Soo stripped out of all of his clothes, and was kneeling on the ground. Cheol-Soo shivered as he followed Joshua's command. Joshua went to bend over, but the latex skirt only let him go down a few inches. He quickly covered it up by ordering, "I'm not bending down for you! Get on the chair!" Joshua pointed to the leather bench. Cheol-Soo crawled across the floor, sitting up on the bench. Joshua pushed Cheol-Soo roughly, his back hitting the leather; Joshua put the handle of a baton whip into the older man's mouth. Joshua tied Cheol-Soo's hands together, before stretching them back over his head, and securing the rope to the bench leg.


"Now...you're going to do whatever I tell you." Joshua murmured into Cheol-Soo ear. He took the baton out of Cheol-Soo's mouth as he moaned a response, and trailed the leather straps down the line of his neck and chest. 


"When we caught you trying to escape..." Joshua began to dialogue, half invented from one of the movies Jeonghan had worked on as a cinematographer that he had seen. "I could have had you shot." Joshua whipped Cheol-Soo's groin moderately. "But, this way, I thought it would be more fun for me." He whipped Cheol-Soo's inner thigh, and the older man let out half a chuckle, half a moan.


"Please let me go, Master." Cheol-Soo breathed. 


"Speak up." Joshua whipped his gentiles; it was a gentler hit, and Cheol-Soo's manhood was protected by the leather g-string, and the fact that the baton leather was still heady, but it was softer than a stock-whip.


"Please let me go, Master." Cheol-Soo repeated, louder.


"You're my prisioner here -" Joshua's lip curled, whipping Cheol-Soo's other inner thigh. "And you're not going anywhere."


"Yes." Cheol-Soo moaned. Joshua ran the leather whip over his stomach and chest, before hitting him again, Cheol-Soo moaning louder.

 

---------------------------------

 

As the evening progressed, Joshua switched the maneouvers around; He sat on a wooden chair balance above Cheol-Soo's face and chest, balanced on the leather bench, Joshua's feet in the high-heels pressing and tendering Cheol-Soo's chest, stomach, and upper thighs. Joshua had put a blind-fold over Cheol-Soo, and was texting Jeonghan while he dug the shoes into Cheol-Soo's elderly body. Cheol-Soo moaned and panted breaths, shifting under Joshua's feet; Joshua had also tied Cheol-Soo's ankles up. 


"Stop moving." Joshua said, as a new text from Jeonghan read, "One of the senior film guys is getting married on Monday, next week. Do you want to come with me? If I ask Cheollie, it means Lily comes as well - and the invitation says I can bring one guest, and I don't have a girlfriend right now".


"Sorry, Master."


"I shall have to punish you."


"Oh, please don't Master. I don't think I could take anymore!"


Joshua looked up from his phone, checking on Cheol-Soo who couldn't see him through the blindfold. Despite the instructions for that evening, Cheol-Soo was a fifty-two year old man. "Really?"


"Yes, Master, please stop." Cheol-Soo begged painfully.


"Ok, ok. Get up if you need to." Joshua said, worried, but successfully keeping the tone out of his voice.


"No, I'm a bad slave."


"Yes you are -" Joshua implored. "But if you want you can just get up."


Cheol-Soo remained silent beneath him. Joshua's brow furrowed. "Red, amber, or green?" He asked; he and Cheol-Soo had decided to use the traffic-light colours for endurance signals.


"Green." Cheol-Soo replied. Joshua swallowed down a sigh and put his feet back on Cheol-Soo's body as he texted back a response to Jeonghan: "Of course I can come; wedding theme or something else? The last wedding I went to was vampire theme. The groom had more make-up on than the bride".


"This - is - what - you - deserve." Joshua growled, digging his feet harder down into Cheol-Soo's body.


How do you know if you're doing it right? Dom-and-dungeons? In my job, if you make a man cum that is success. With this, I could not even tell if Cheol-See was enjoying it.


After another few seconds of the high heels, Joshua took them off Cheol-Soo's body. "What shall I do next, Master?" Cheol-Soo asked breathily. Joshua froze; What the hell am I supposed to do now? He thought.


"Er, give me a minute." He said to Cheol-Soo before forgetting he was supposed to be role-playing. "You disgust me." He growled, before walking out of the dungeon and into his kitchen, finding it a difficult experience to walk in the latex dress which clamped his legs and ankles together, the leather squeaking horrible and tight on his skin.
He dialed Sirena's number on his phone, and sat on the kitchen island. "Hi, Sirena...look, I've run out of ideas and I've still got ages to go. What do I do?" he asked the older woman.

 

------------------------------

 

"And then do the kitchen!" Joshua ordered to Cheol-Soo, lying down on his bed, still texting Jeonghan. Cheol-Soo was now wearing an apron, and was "cleaning" the bathroom. Sure, he was using the cleaning sprays and the foam-sponges, until he gave it a run-over with his tongue. That had been Sirena's advice; "House-cleaning on a whole new level". Joshua checked the voice-message on his phone, and found it was from Seungcheol.


"If you're going to be a dick, fine, be a dick! But at least drop me a text to let me know you're alright." Seungcheol said, annoyed, in the message.


That made Joshua feel absolutely livid. He sat up straight on the bed, and paced around his bedroom.


"You think I'm been a dick?" Joshua shot at him.


"Hi, how are you?!" Seungcheol responded sarcastically.


"I'm not the one who wants to get married to the rudest little bitch in this hemisphere." Joshua said to Seungcheol.


"What?!"


"Any other woman on earth, Cheol. Literally, any other woman on Earth. Why the hell does it have to be Lily?" Joshua snapped.


"Why are you being like this, Josh?"


"Oh, fucking hell!" Joshua gritted his teeth.


"Shua, she's got nothing to do with you, and, anyway, it's my life, my decision. Deal with it!"


"Yeah, well, you didn't talk to us before-hand - you didn't talk to me beforehand - because you'd knew what I'd say. Go and get your Grandmother's ring and everything - she's a total cow, Seungcheol!"


"Fuck you." Seungcheol replied clearly. "You're having a go at me just because you're jealous. Fuck you. Fine, yeah, you've always got to be...you don't even have a girlfriend" You've got no one in your life apart from a few party-girls, work-girls. Do you know what, Shua?" Seungcheol scoffed darkly. "You're the one that never picks up the phone or talks about anything real these days; Jeonghan thinks that same." He had a go at Joshua. "The two of us can't even come around to your house anymore! You're doing my head in." Seungcheol hung up the call, as Joshua quietly exploded inside.

Chapter Text

Joshua looped a chain through a collar and put the collar onto Cheol-Soo's collar firmly, before dragging through him down the stairs and through the house, back to the dungeon. Joshua hated everything around him; he hated doing this, he hated the latex dress, even though he was paid to do it. Joshua tipped the chair Cheol-Soo had been laying down one earlier over, and pushed the man to the ground, sprawling him in amongst it's legs.


Joshua picked on of the tougher whips at random and hit Cheol-Soo across his arse and back, three, four, five times hardly, feeling out-of-body and dead inside. The only thing that made him stop were Cheol-Soo's exclamations of sensation and pain. Joshua wasn't talking anymore; there was no more dialogue. Joshua took the whip to Cheol-Soo's skin again, whipping the man a further seven times, even harder, the cracks echoing in rhythm with the pain grunts and gasps that Cheol-Soo made as the leather beat into his skin. Joshua stood for a moment, getting another whip, this time, this one a proper stock-whip.


Joshua whipped him with it, gritting his teeth viciously. On the fifth time, Cheol-Soo gasped out "Red!" wanting Joshua to stop, but he didn't. A sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth time Joshua hit him, Cheol-Soo protesting "Red", until Cheol-Soo just roared out. 


It scared Joshua enough that he stepped back away from Cheol-Soo, dropping the whip as the older man trembled. Cheol-Soo tipped onto the floor on his back, breathing heavily in shock and fear and the after-math of the pain. "I don't want scars." Cheol-Soo said, searching Joshua's face.


Joshua shook, sitting down on the raised platform that separated the dining-room from the sitting-room. He brought his knees up to his chin, wrapping his arms around his legs, giving Cheol-Soo space even though his skin burned beneath the leather.


"I'm - I'm sorry, but could you help me get this off?" Joshua whispered, his voice shaking as he pulled desperately at the tight, un-breathing plastic over his skin that was suffocating him. Cheol-Soo crawled across the floor to where Joshua was and sat beside him, undoing the hook and clasps at the back of his neck. Joshua quickly pulled the dress of, gasping as his skin was released, hot and clammy and sticky, from the latex, the high-heels getting caught up in the material. He breathed happy, feeling emotional, and utterly ashamed of what he had just done. He had lost all self-control, and he had caused Cheol-Soo great pain. As Joshua sat naked beside, still in the wig, Cheol-Soo himself still wearing the apron, g-string, collar and chain, they both bathed in un-easy, all to heavy silence and realization around them.


"Sorry." Joshua said, but his voice came out quieter than he intended for it to.


"I'm sorry." Cheol-Soo said, gazing at Joshua meanfully, his eyes mournful.


"I don't think this is for me." Joshua said, as Cheol-Soo hung his head, resting back on his hands.


"You were very good, I just got a bit -" Cheol-Soo began.


"No, I'm sorry." Joshua interjected, shaking his head. There was no excuse for what had just happened.


"No, I am." Cheol-See said heavier.


"I can recommend someone else; she'll be great." Joshua said, speaking of Sirena.


They gazed at each other intently, as Joshua tried his best to not lose it, right there on the spot.

Chapter Text

Joshua walked briskly down the street in the inner CBD of Seoul where Seungcheol's bar was located at the hotel was located where Joshua had gone only a couple of weeks ago to that crap adult party with Seong-hun where they had bumped into Min-ho. Joshua pushed his way through the doors of the fire exit, and stormed up the Seungcheol who was on the public side of the bar, two waitresses behind it.


"I may be the world's biggest liar and dick and whatever that doesn't like your girlfriend but at least if I've got someone I want to marry I don't chicken fucking about it." Joshua snapped to Seungcheol, who simply regarded him silently. Seungcheol - Joshua noticed - had been writing in a lodgings and reservation book.


"Alright." Seungcheol said gently, putting the pen down. "Come sit down." He guided Joshua over from the bar counter to a booth. "Come on. You look mental."


Joshua sat tucked up into the same side of the booth in a corner with Seungcheol, while it rained heavily outside. "I thought about the different ways I could get around to it."

Seungcheol said, after one of the waitresses had made two barcadi and coke's, and had brought them over to the booth table. "You have always said you couldn't see me actually getting married."


"Yeah, Jeonghan, either." Joshua said.


"Yeah, and I don't know; you've never gotten on with Lily the way Hannie has -" Seungcheol talked.


"You think I don't approve because she wears blue or red lipstick, does the Italian eye-makeup, works in a record shop - all of that? She had dreadlocks last year?" Joshua cut in. "That's not it." He swallowed, and shifted a bit closer to Seungcheol. "We're best mates Cheol and I didn't know you wanted to marry her and you loved her like that."


"Ok, but we're not best mates like that are we?" Seungcheol conceded. He was still confused and completely un-impressed with Joshua for the phone call yesterday; there was no way he had been able to sleep it off.


"Why? Is it something to do with Lily or -"


"No, Joshua, it's you." Seungcheol gestured to the other young man. "I didn't tell you about this, I get that, but you don't tell me everything"


"What do you want us to do? Share our feelings or something?" Joshua remarked condescendingly.


"Don't be a dick, Shua. Its fucking obvious you keep secrets everywhere." Seungcheol for Joshua back in his place. "You're seeing someone, whatever it is you're doing - you know what? it's fine - it's so fine. But don't make it out to be -"


"That's my fault, alright, I know. I should have more respect for Lily but I just fucking don't. I can't stand her." Seungcheol gazed at him as Joshua stuttered. "I'm just a private person, that's all."


"Yeah, well, I just don't understand what's going on - do I?" Seungcheol exhaled a slow breath as Joshua looked down at the table. "Look, you'd better go, yeah?" He rubbed his hand over Joshua's knee before he slipped out of the booth to start his shift, and Joshua left.


Sirena is right. Hurting people is a very special talent. Been a Dom has taught me one thing. Been in total control isn't always the best. Maybe sometimes you've got to give a bit away


Joshua stood outside Seungcheol's bar, and brought up his escort profile on Gerda's agency website, and texted it through to Seungcheol's phone. He would see it later, or he would see it tomorrow morning. He might show Lily. He would definitely show Jeonghan. Joshua still had the wedding to go to on Monday with Jeonghan; weddings were always lovely. And hideously expensive. Maybe this was the time that he had been waiting for; something he had been needing.

Chapter Text

It was only three-and-a-half weeks into the Autumn/Winter seasons, but for Joshua, that was enough time to not have yet heard from Kaito.


Until the morning he did. It was the morning of the wedding that he and Joenghan were expected at; the wedding ceremony was being held at the Seoul Botanic Gardens, and then the reception was being held in a restaurant next to a performing arts theatre and production company where the Groom and Jeonghan had trained in cinemtaography and other filmography, where then the party would be. The wedding was ultimately bohemian and eclectic; Jeonghan said the Groom always wanted to get married in jeans, leather cow-boy boots, a top hat and a fur coat, and his long-term partner of ten years - a painter called Rose - always wanted something equally as outrageous for her wedding dress. He and Jeonghan sat in his sitting room, half-watching the TV, half-talking. Joshua noticed anxiously, deep-down, that Jeonghan didn't make a comment about the..."escort thing" as Joshua had come to think of it. Joshua had definitely sent that message and profile to Seungcheol's number from his own number. There was no way...no way he could have not seen it - unless he thought he was being stupid. The name on the agency profile read "Jisoo" after all. Shit...Joshua thought to himself.


"Hey, is this her?" Jeonghan reached down and snatched Joshua's phone off the carpet before Joshua could get to it in time. Jeonghan answered it brightly.


"Give that to me, you cunt!" Slipped out of Joshua's mouth before he could probably think, feeling suddenly angry, his own personal thoughts mostly the purpose for it. Even though it had been an accident, Joshua's insides reeled in regret from calling Jeonghan that. What the fuck have I just done? He couldn't help but think.


"Hello?" Joshua said desperately into the line, hoping whoever the caller was hadn't hung up.


"Is that Jeonghan?" Kaito's voice said softly. Despite Seong-hyun, Hyung-Woo and Min-ho been favourites, Kaito was probably the number one. It wasn't to do with the fact that he was not an older man; it was the matter that he and Joshua had just utterly connected. Kaito was the only one of the favourites that Joshua talked to about his personal life and his friends. He nearly came close to it sometimes with Min-ho, but generally Joshua was too immersed with Min-ho's children and his family. Joshua couldn't help how his body electrified with pure happiness at hearing Kaito's voice, and knowing that he was here, in Seoul, and he was going to be for a good six months.

He excused himself for a moment, burying his phone beneath a cushion before exclaiming aloud, shaking his fists in the air, grinning broadly, his eyes squeezed shut. When he opened them, he saw Jeonghan gawping at him, before mouthing, "What the fuck?". He seemed to have completely forgotten about Joshua calling him a cunt; either that or, unbelievably, it didn't bother him, even though Joshua doubted Jeonghan had ever been called that in his life.


"Hi!" Joshua got his phone out from beneath the pillow, and answered it again brightly, adrenaline rushing through him. Kaito laughed on the other end of the line.


"I'm here for the Winter." Kaito said softly, almost like a croon which melted Joshua; he didn't care right now that Jeonghan was there. He really, really couldn't give a fuck.
"What are you doing tonight?" Joshua asked.


"Something to with your naked body." Kaito replied. Joshua moved quickly into the kitchen as he felt himself getting turned on, and he genuinely pressed a hand against the front of his trousers, trying to stop his penis erecting.


"Anytime from seven?" Joshua said breathily.


"Sounds great. Missed you." Kaito said, before Joshua had to hung up. At that moment, Jeonghan walked into the kitchen to check on Joshua, and stared at him.


"Sorry, I know we've got to go!" Joshua practically jogged into the hallway and grabbed his coat, walking down the stone staircase that led to his front door and climbing into the passenger seat of Jeonghan's car. Jeonghan didn't immediately put the car keys into ignition. He leant back in the driver's seat, and gazed down at Joshua's crotch where he had his legs crossed, before looking direcly to his eyes.


"Do you want to tell me something?" Jeonghan asked softly.


Yes, actually, now might be a good time but we've got a wedding to go to, Joshua thought. "Yeah, uh, now might be a good time but we've got a wedding to go to, Hannie." He echoed his thoughts aloud.


"Hey, it's alright. There's all the time in the world." Jeonghan's hand touched Joshua knee.


"That's Kaito; he's a friend of mine from Japan and he only comes to Korea for a few months every year. We catch up when he's here." Joshua nearly told Jeonghan the whole truth.


"Yeah?" Jeonghan said, eyes sliding down to Joshua's crotch before going back to his face.


"Yeah." Joshua nodded.

 

--------------------------------

 

"No way!" Joshua whispered. As the bride - Rose - began to walk down the aisle, "Trumpets" by Jason Durelo began to play; she was in a lace wedding dress witth a high-neck and long sleeves, the hem coming to above her mid-thighs. She had a fantastic body; even though she was in her mid-thirties, Joshua couldn't help admiring her legs in thigh-high lace-up boots that were Victorian-style. Taeyeon - the groom and senior camera-man in Jeonghan's studio - was wearing a top-hat, a huge brown fur-coat, 70's flair jeans, cow-boy boots, and John Lennon glasses. Suddenly, behind Rose, bridesmaids, the best-man and...Buckingham Palace guards, shirtless, in the uniform trousers and the beaver hats exploded into the background playing trumpets and dancing as Rose walked up the aisle and the first chorus of "Trumpets" played.


"How the hell did they come up with this?" Joshua whispered to Jeonghan, stunned, as the celebrant carried out the wedding ceremony. To fit the trumpeters into the seats, a few of the guests had to get into their partner's laps, Joshua included. He and Jeonghan - with the rest of the guests - were dressed casually if not bohemian in linen shirts and tank tops, jeans, cords and cotton skirts; most of the women guests didn't have any make-up or excess jewelry on. They had opted for rose-gold or silver necklaces or bangles that curled around their arms like snakes, and a lot of them had flowers in their hair.


"A concept from you, actually." Jeonghan whispered, his eyes sliding across to the side to meet Joshua's. "Tell you after."


As the vows were read out, all of the guests and even the celebrant herself began to nearly wet themselves laughing as the bride and groom took the mickey out of each other.
"You may kiss the bride -"


"I'm kissing him, thanks love." Rose cut in on the celebrant, and, suddenly, as she kissed Taeyeon, the trumpeters leapt out of their seats, the final chorus of "Trumpets" played again. Suddenly the newly-weds were half-running and half-dancing back down the aisle to the ensemble of half battered secondhand Jaguars, Fords, and Kias, and then the clean-cut 2000's model Bentley's and Porches, applauded and cheered on by the guests who followed them.


"Oh my God." Joshua suddenly burst out laughing to Jeonghan in the back of a Bentley driven by the best-man and his wife; Jeonghan laughed just as much, leaning across the back seat - neither of them wearing seat-belts as the Bentley didn't have any - with his head in Joshua's lap. "That was amazing, Jeonghan."


"Do you remember when you first showed me "Trumpets", what, like two years ago at the New Year's Party the Studio had that I brought you, Cheol and Lily along to? Rosie really, really likes that song." Jeonghan chuckled. "Yeah...that was that, Joshuji."


Joshua went to smile, but it turned into a semi-embarrassed line because he remembered that Taeyeon's best man and his wife were in the front seats.

 

--------------------------------

 

"What the hell is that?" Joshua said to Jeonghan as he brought over to him a deep-bellied glass of cloudy soft-pink drink. "It looks toxic." They were in the film studios, eight-meter ceiling space decorated with fey-lights, and other plants, and chandliers were made from bracken and oak limbs, currling in circles around electric bulbs that looked other-wordly in the air-space above them. It was just after two 'o' clock, and everyone was relaxing on the couches and the bean-bags and the rugs on the floor, the party been later on that night when it got dark.


"Rose makes this stuff at home. Drink this now - just the one glass - and you won't be hurling all night. It's only lunch-time right now. Just after." Jeonghan explained.


"What is it?" Joshua repeated.


"So untrusting." Jeonghan rolled his eyes.


"You know one of us has to be sober to drive?" Joshua commented. "I'm getting fairly drunk later tonight, anyway."


"Oh, yeah, with your boyfriend." Jeonghan remarked, and gulped the pink drink back like it was water. He winced afterwards, putting the glass back down on the table, his fingertips touching his Adam's apple. Joshua stood their completely frozen, unsure whether Jeonghan was already getting drunk, he was annoyed, he was taking the piss, or whether he was serious. Jeonghan just grinned at him, his eyes twinkling.


"What are you looking so pale for?" Jeonghan commented intently, before sneezing, and ruining the effect. Joshua grinned. He couldn't help it.


"That pink drink has side effects." Joshua said. "I'm not touching it."


"You're desperate." Jeonghan replied, searching deeply into Joshua's eyes; Joshua couldn't hold the gaze and kept breaking, looking to the floor or over to the crowd of wedding guests. 


"Jeonghan, what's going on?" Joshua's mouth went dry.


"What?" Jeonghan frowned. "Are you alright?" He chucked Joshua's chin. "I just meant you look like you're desperate for a bacardi and coke or something; the stuff you have."


Joshua nearly sighed in relief. "Sure, that's great. No, no." he said to Jeonghan. "I'll get it. You wait here - sorry, what do you want? I'll go into the restaurant next door."

Chapter Text

When Jeonghan drove Joshua home at five, protesting that he should leave when the party hadn't even effectively started yet, Joshua's world tipped on its axis at the sight of Seungcheol sitting on his front doorstep in the black jumper Joshua had bought him a couple of years ago, with his arm around Lily who was sitting beside him in a wool coat that went around her knees.


"Hey Lily!" Jeonghan jumped out of the car and walked up the front steps to Joshua's house, immediately giving Lily a hug before greeting Seungcheol. Joshua felt even worse as he saw Seungcheol whisper something into Jeonghan's ear; Jeonghan turned around to look at Joshua, his expression gone quiet and worried. As anxiety flooded Joshua's body he wanted to run away from the whole scene.


Inside every anxious person is a very vicious one


Lily had once said that to him; that had made Joshua not like her even more. He thought Lily had been having a go at him. They had been sitting outside, Lily smoking a cigarette. She only smoked sometimes, because Seungcheol wasn't a big fan of her doing it. She and Joshua had been talking a little bit about everything; the weather, music, the latest k-pop groups. Joshua had actually laughed a fair bit when Lily had made a comment about how the men always had on more make-up and diets and corsetry than the girls did. All of a sudden she looked at him and had said that. It had made Joshua un-describable cold, and uncomfortable. He knew it wasn't at all fair or correct to refer to Lily as "the rudest little bitch in this hemisphere". The problem was that she just hit him in places that were too deep; sometimes Joshua felt that she was a immaculate, angrier, violent, darker, more worldly, more intelligent, more street-smart, more real version of himself, Seungcheol and Jeonghan.


You're scared of her, just a bit, right? Aren't you? A voice said in the back of Joshua's head of Lily. That's stupid; you shouldn't be. Embrace it. You could learn a lot from her; look how much she's taught you but you haven't realised it. Don't be ashamed; go up and do it. Look how many times you've been someone else's animal. You don't have to be Seungcheol's


Joshua walked up the steps and unlocked his front door, and pushed it open roughly. "Inside." He said, holding his arm out, doing the Dom trick again; this time he wouldn't fuck it up the way he did with Cheol-Soo. Lily's eyes twinkled as she walked in, head of the pack. Joshua correctly picked her for being head in the bedroom over Seungcheol. He can't just act like it's fine because it is? Joshua thought to himself of Seungcheol as everyone went into his sitting-room.


"So...the three weeks you were in Russia -" Seungcheol began, Jeonghan concerned.


"I was in France actually, with one of my favourite clients Min-ho who is thirty-four years old. He is a famous photographer and painter who has actually with Jeonghan on that last movie. What was it called? Yeah, "Sober II"." Joshua said. "By the way, I'm not sure if this idiot said anything -" he pointed to Seungcheol. "Like I thought he would -"
"What are you talking about?" Jeonghan asked. 


"I'm a escort. A gay escort. I screw men for money; £350 an hour, actually. All my clients are good. I've never had a violent one.  I work through an agency who gives me the clients and..." Joshua broke off as Jeonghan pushed his hair back from his face, looking winded.


"Why?" Jeonghan managed, looking at Joshua from across the coffee table. Joshua got up from the armchair and sat beside him; Jeonghan leant his head against Joshua's shoulder. Joshua rubbed the underside of his wrist for a few moments. "Give me a second?" He asked both Jeonghan and Seungcheol quietly. Seungcheol nodded, virtually mechanical. Lily looked quite bubbly. Joshua almost wondered if Lily had had him picked for what he was from the start. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and dialed Seong-hun's number.


"Hey, love." Joshua said. It made Seungcheol flinch and Jeonghan's head turn on his shoulder. Joshua slipped his arm around Jeonghan's back, wanting to keep him tucked into his side. "Can you come around? No, no, everything's ok, I'm ok. It's true, everything's good." Joshua assured the older man whose protective insincts kicked in. "I just told my friends what I actually do for a job, and they're convinced that I'm the subject of gay paedophiles." Joshua raised an eyebrow at Seungcheol pointedly as he went rigid, Lily cackled a laugh, and Jeonghan snorted a shocked laugh, halfway into a bad moment. "I'm going to have to call a few others; do you mind being in the same room as...yeah, 'cause you know, it's..." Joshua trailed off, letting Seong-hun talk to him. "Min-ho? Yeah - it'll be alright?" Joshua felt relieved. "'Cause you met Min-ho at that awful fucking party...thanks so much Seong-hun. See you soon...yeah, yeah, bring Ha-Yoon. I think Min-ho has some of his children with him for the week - yeah." Joshua laughed; Seungcheol had just changed in an instant at the mention that one of Joshua's clients had children. "They know about me." Joshua said to both Seong-hun, Seungcheol, Jeonghan and Lily. "When James and Vanessa were still babies I'd be helping Min-ho with them in the bath."


Jeonghan and Seungcheol stared at him while Lily giggled behind her hand. She was genuinely having a great time. He texted Min-ho.


"You said to me about telling the truth, Cheol." Joshua said to Seungcheol when he was finished. "We're going to do this properly. I've got twenty-three clients - regulars  or otherwise frequent. I've got four favourites. Seong-hun -" Joshua held up his phone. "Who is forty-seven. He is a sucessful businessman and lives alone with his housekeeper who the media and socialites think is his partner. He puts it across as that with the excuse, "I'm too rich to have to give half away in a marriage contract"."


"Wait, I've heard of that." Lily grinned. "Kim Seong-Hun - tall guy? Great body on him?"


Joshua nodded. "He looks even better undressed." He couldn't help the smile that tugged at his mouth. "Why should this have to be a bad experience for everyone?" He appealed to Seungcheol. "Aren't you having fun? 'Cause I am. Lily is." Joshua held his other arm out as Lily got off of the couch beside Seungcheol and came to sit on Joshua's other side.
"Then, there is Hyung-Woo, who is thirty-six. He lives about 140 kilometers out of the City, and he is a funeral director and undertaker." Lily gave a appalled laugh as Joshua talked. "Gives the dream blow-job."


"He...he does it to you?" Jeonghan asked. "I thought -"


"It is supposed to be the other way around. These guys are my favourites because it's not exactly the client-escort relationship with them anymore. It's something different; it evolved. These men - Seong-Hun and Hyung-Woo and the two other's I'll get around to - they are gay men. And because of every other detail of their lives and how they were raised, and their age, they do not want to be openly gay or publicly have a partner of the same-sex. For one, they would be shunned and lose everything, but they also don't want it that way." Joshua explained. "Then, there is Min-ho, who is a portrait photographer, painter, and art restorer. Fifteen years ago he married his best friend, and had seven children with her. Three boys, four girls. Alec, James and Tyler, and the girls are Vanessa, Theresa, and Poppy. Vanessa and James are twins; one year old now. He amicably divorced his wife a few weeks ago; she is living in France with her boyfriend. It's a happy arrangement for all of them. 50/50 custody between Min-ho and his wife. Then there is Kaito, who is my youngest. His 18th birthday is on Christmas Eve." Joshua said. "His Mother is a Japanese Shinto Shaman, and his Father is a financial broker here in Seoul. Wealthy."


"Is it even legal?" Seungcheol asked.


"For me, yes, my clients, yes. They can do whatever they want, whatever I want. It's the agency that is less legal. The money I legitimately earn I pay tax on." Joshua replied.
"What about with the young one? Kaito?" Seungcheol tried again.


"Well...no one knows." Joshua said. "I don't take their money; Seong-Hun's money, Hyung-Woo's money, Min-ho's money. I get it from them in cash and I hide it in places around their houses for them to re-fine. if they give me a cheque I tear it up. With them it's different. I've never charged Kaito; the first time around he was a virgin - it's common decency to not do that. And, even after, I've never charged him. I never would." He stopped talking as a knock on the door sounded.


"It's open!" Joshua called.


"I really want to see what these guys look like." Lily enthused while Jeonghan and Seungcheol looked sick. Joshua got up from the couch, and went into the hallway to met with the exclaimations and chatter of little children. Min-ho had come around with his whole flock of off-spring, and Seong-Hun's car pulled up outside. Joshua smiled to himself as Seong-Hun opened Ha-Yoon's door and held her hand as they walked up the steps. Of all Min-ho's children, Alec was fourteen, Tyler thirteen. Theresa was ten, and Poppy eight, Vanessa and James been the small twins. Alec put Vanessa onto his shoulders, and Joshua picked up James, holding Poppy's hand. They were all sweet, round-faced kids that would be extroadinarily good looking one day.


As Joshua led them into the loungeroom, Vanessa on Alec's shoulders started singing in his baby voice, and  Poppy and Theresa cooed up at their baby sister as Alec swung her around like an aeroplane before sitting on the floor with her in his lap. Joshua gave James to Lily to hold as the baby reached his small arms out to her. 
"Good evening." Both Min-ho and Seong-Hyun greeted Lily, Seungcheol and Jeonghan.


"Hey, Joshy." Ha-Yoon cuddled Joshua. 


"Jesus fucking Christ." Alec, Min-ho's oldest son, effectively summed it up.

 

-----------------------------

 

All of the adults moved into the kitchen as Lily, Ha-Yoon, Alec and Tyler kept the smaller children entertained in the sitting-room.


Seungcheol was currently glaring at both Seong-Hun and Min-ho, while Jeonghan was regarding them, interested.


"Why not get someone your own age?" Seungcheol asked. Min-ho actually laughed, and Seong-Hun's mouth quirked, but it didn't reach his eyes; he was obviously in a position of empathy for Jeonghan and Seungcheol, whereas Min-ho quite clearly didn't give a fuck what they thought.


"Prostitution whether you're a woman or a man - catering to bisexual, heterosexual or homosexual audiences - there's a fine line." Min-ho explained. "There is that low, underworld dangerous side of prostitution where there are pimps, abuse, rape, violence, deaths, drugs, alcohol; all of that. But there - in Europe, the UK, and Asia - somewhere along the middle is a richer, middle-class range culture of sensuality and getting around to it. In this culture, there can be problems, but the level of exploitation is lowered drastically as you move higher through the invisible hierarchy that all humans have settled into their civilizations."


"And despite that philosophy -" Min-ho winked at Seong-Hun as the older man spoke. "Anything that is not heterosexual is quite restricted in this country -"
"You should try Thailand." Min-ho commented.


"Shut up, Min-ho." Joshua said, casting the man a look that Seungcheol and Jeonghan paid attention to. "What he's trying to say is that the market is restricted and that if you can find a male hooker they're young like me. There's no crime in that."


Min-ho actually chuckled. "You're pissed off?"


"I actually smashed a plate over his head once." Joshua said to Jeonghan and Seungcheol; Jeonghan's mouth came open a bit. "Because he was been an annoying shit."


"Should have seen what I did to him afterwards." Min-ho smirked.


"Stop the gay!" Tyler came into the kitchen and told off his Dad, carrying Vanessa in his arms. "Vannie wants a cuddle from you." Jeonghan and Seungcheol stared as the young boy put the baby into Joshua's arms.


"I think she's getting a bit tired, Tyler." Joshua said as the baby buried her face into his shoulder, wrapping her tiny arms in a cuddle around his neck. "You and Tyler put her to sleep up in my room. The console is set up so you can have a play on it while you keep an eye on Vannie."


After a few moments of silence when Tyler left with Vanessa, Seungcheol said to the men across the bench. "Why do you keep...been involved with Joshua?"


"Who wouldn't be?" Seong-Hun answered simply as Min-ho suddenly look quite angry.

Chapter Text

All of them stayed in Joshua's house for another hour, partly because Vanessa was asleep upstairs with Tyler keeping an eye on her, and partly because Seungcheol wanted to see for himself how Seong-Hun and Min-ho behaved around Joshua; as pride went, as well, Seungcheol had told Jeonghan and Lily that they weren't leaving before the "pricks" did. A foul mood was bubbling away under the surface, and Seungcheol knew Min-ho saw it.


Joshua was relaxing with Seong-Hun on one of the couches in the living-room as Poppy and Theresa played with James and Ha-Yoon was in the kitchen cooking with whatever Joshua had in the fridge. This isn't right, Seungcheol thought to himself. Prostitution isn't...happy families and fucking home life with one of the prick's housekeepers cooking for the other pricks kids - what the fuck is this?


"Don't be angry." Lily came up behind him, touching his back. "Joshua said it was different with these guys."


"I hate the idea that they've been doing stuff like this to him." Seungcheol muttered a reply.


"Don't fight about it." Lily said.


"He didn't say anything about that either?" Seungcheol hissed. "Obviously, he's gay! Obviously, he totally forgets to mention that -"


"Can't you see, baby?" Lily held Seungcheol's chin in her fingers for a few seconds. "He isn't gay. Joshua. Not like that."


"What do you mean?" Seungcheol said.


"Because he gets paid for it." Lily look over her shoulder. "And the others? They're an experience; they both are to each other. Josh to them, them to Josh."


"Yeah, a gay experience." Lily scoffed, rolling her eyes, at her boyfriend's self-righteous response.


"Why's that one over there so shitty?" Min-ho commented to Joshua of Seungcheol, saying about gathering the kids up and going home in-between.


"He must really care about you." Seong-Hun said.


"Either that or he's a jealous fuck."


"Enough. Out. The two of you." Joshua glared at Seong-Hun as he smirked at Min-ho who had initally been told off. Even though the anger was more passive-aggressive, all of it left Joshua's body as he held Vanessa's little hand in his right and James's in his left, and the twins had a short walk together down the hallway to the front door, much to the enjoyment of Ha-Yoon, Seong-hun, Min-ho and his other children, Jeonghan, Lily and even Seungcheol. Min-ho's oldest child, Alec, filmed on his phone as the twins then babbered to themselves in their own personal language that only the two of them understood.


"That'd be nice. One day." Lily said to Seungcheol, smiling warmly, before pointing down at the twins now been put into Min-ho's...Lily cackled a laugh to herself as she informed Seungcheol and Jeonghan that it wasn't a stolen army vehicle, but rather a Ukrainian Soviet-Era amphibian, the LuAZ-969. 


"He has to have a big car that can be turned into a boat with a change of the keys in the ignition with all those kids." Lily said to the men either side of her as Jeonghan went completely still and Seungcheol went to stone as Joshua deeply kissed Seong-Hun before he climbed into his Porsche with Ha-Yoon and drove after the LuAZ-969.


Seungcheol didn't say anything as Joshua came back up the stairs. "It's time for you lot to go." He said simply. "I know this isn't over tonight, and, right now I've got other stuff to do."


"Thank you for telling us." Jeonghan said. "We support you -"


"Oh, for fuck's sake!" Lily flapped her hands. "Don't do that sickening bullshit, can't you see how revolting that is? Yuck! Let's just pack it in so Joshy can see Kaito - hey, hey, come here, you." Lily beckoned to Joshua. She kissed him on the cheek. "You look so cool, baby." She said to him. Joshua watched as Lily marched Seungcheol and Jeonghan down the steps, smiling widely over her shoulder at him.


"Night, flower." Joshua said, waving his hand. As he went back inside, he saw all three of them - Seungcheol, Lily and Jeonghan - staring up at him.

Chapter Text

Joshua waited for Kaito, but decided to write about him until he was actually there. 


Kaito is absolutely wild. Six months of the year, he lives in a temple in a forest with three hamlets-cum-villages about it; his Mother's temple is at the peak of Mount Hotakadake which is in the Hida Mountains range. It is a radius of sixty-five miles in length and sixteen miles in width, before the actual prefectures of Niigata, Toyama, Nagano and Gifu. Kaito when he is with his Mother and her family in the Hotakadake temple rarely goes down into either Niigata, Toyama, Nagano or Gifu. In the old world, Miko - a Japanese Female Shinto Shaman - was actually that, and was known as a "kami uba", meaning "God Woman". Nearly all traditional roles of a Miko in Japanese Shinto were killed away by laws from the government in the 1870's. But, in the isolation and the hierarchy and the obsessive, animalistic secrecy of the mountains, Kaito's Mother is truly a Miko from pre-history, before censoring rained down upon the Indigenous culture.


For the other six months of the year, Kaito lives in Seoul with his Father. These are the month's I see him and his Father sees him; Kaito's Mother as well - along with a lot of other Miko women - have the belief about children not being exposed to the freezing temperature and the curses of the Alps winters. In that temple in Hotakadake, they have no proper heating to warm people anyway.


Kaito has a good relationship with both of his parents despite the fact that his Shrine-chained Mother was not supposed to go out and have an affair with a Korean businessman just under twenty years ago who came with colleagues on a skiing holiday in the foreign landscape.


Kaito's completely fearless. I had to lie to the next door neighbours and say Kaito was a student and I was tutoring him in history when he volunteered and climbed onto the roof of their two storey house to check their solar-panels after a hail storm, with no safety equipment or mattress to land on if he fell. He's like a monkey. He's very young; younger than me. It's hard...to try and describe sometimes, just how much it is

 

--------------------------------------

 

"This is dumb." Lily said blatantly to Seungcheol and Jeonghan as they waited in Seungcheol's car a little bit down the street as Seungcheol and Jeonghan spied on Joshua; Lily would admit she was curious, but Seungcheol and Jeonghan were doing this to be arseholes. It wasn't a behaviour that came from pain of love; it was a behaviour that came from pain of hurt or otherwise completely tossed aside pride.


"Let's see if they come out in Joshua's car or whether they stay in for the night." Jeonghan said to Seungcheol, leaning from the back-seats over the console into the front of the car.


"If they don't come out after ten minutes let's have a look through the windows." Seungcheol decided.


"The curtains will be shut, idiot." Lily remarked drily.


"We'll just climb up over the garage and look through the skylights." Seungcheol put to her, smiling sardonically.


"This is the poshest place in the country; If anyone sees two people on the roof of a house around here the call the military." Lily replied. "Oh, wait! Here comes someone." She ushered Jeonghan down onto the back seat.


"Does he look like a Jap?" Seungcheol asked, fiddling with the car radio, attempting to look inconspicuous.


"Nah, not ugly enough." Jeonghan squinted as the man walked closer.


"Fuck, he's hot!" Lily whispered as they got a clearer sight of the young man - in his late teens, actually - as he drew closer to the car as he walked past it. He was thin in a plain shirt and jeans, but he had long, thick black hair that was damp and hung down to his mid-thigh. Lily knew he was Kaito. "He's definitely Josh's."


"There's no good-looking person who has a prostitute; they're all hideous." Seungcheol said drily. Unseen by him, Lily quirked a eyebrow. "Beside, Josh doesn't do women."


"Min-ho and Seong-Hun were hot." Lily said, not able to fully believe that Seungcheol just mistook Kaito for a girl when all of the years that Jeonghan had had long thick black hair. "I feel a bit envious over Joshua." She smirked as Seungcheol just looked at her.


"These are men that seek out a guy in his twenties and put their penis in his arse." Seungcheol said in a filthy tone, a nasty expression coming over his face.


"He's going into Josh's!" Jeonghan exclaimed.


"Oh, for shit's sake!" Seungcheol swore, hitting his palms against the steering wheel.


"You mean "for fuck's sake", bae." Lily smirked coquesttishly, kissing Seungcheol's cheek.


"Lily!" Seungcheol hissed. Lily held up her hands in surrender, saying she would shut up.


Joshua shut the lid of his lap-top as he heard Kaito knocking on one of the glass windows. He quickly scrambled up from the couch, trying to find which window. He rushed to the floor-to-ceiling windows in the loungeroom and open the curtains, but to no avail was he greeted with the sight of Kaito; the only thing that he saw outside was a brewing thunder-storm, dense, thick and freezing rain falling. He rushed into the dining-room, opening the curtains there, before going into the professional bedroom upstairs and opening the cutains. Joshua exclaimed aloud as he saw Kaito - upside-down - hanging from what could only be the roof edge of the guttering like spider-man, his feet hooked into the guttering with his other hand holding onto in-between his thighs like an upside-down crouch. He waved, smiling cheerfully, even though he was more than two storeys off of the ground and it was pouring rain. Joshua ran down the stairs to get the keys from beneath the sink for the window upstairs, panting as he put the keys into the locks and thanked God that when the house was built he had decided to not put in fly-screens; in that moment that would have been cut apart with a knife or a strong pair of scissors to get Kaito inside. Which Joshua had no idea how to do.


"Hello." Kaito smiled, sweet and completely unbothered by the fact he was hanging upside down from a roof gutter to match his aura. Joshua was touched despite the terror that was surging through him. He leant forward through the openly window as pressed a kiss to the corner of Kaito's smiling mouth. Joshua stepped out of the way and sat on the bed, his hands clenching the duvet cover as suddenly Kaito straightened around so he hung by his hands grapsing the gutter, before swinging his whole body in an arc straight through the window and landing in a heavy thud, a perfect crouch on the floor in front of Joshua.


Joshua grinned, his body melting as his back collided with the mattress as Kaito's body crawled to a move over his like a animal, Kaito's warm mouth covering his in a way that made Joshua's eyes roll into the back of his head. His hands went up Kaito's soaking wet back - the younger man only wearing a plain black shirt and a pair of jeans - to his wet hair, entweing his fingertips in and through the strands.


"It's been too long." Joshua moaned out softly, one hand still loose in Kaito's hair as he moved down Joshua's body slightly, running his nose up the line of Joshua's throat. "Let's go down to my room. My actual room."


"I was a bit late coming over to Korea, sorry. Snow-storms in the alps. I got over your fench, got up that tree in the garden, and came over the roof." Kaito added like a gentlemen as he moved off the top of Joshua. They laid down on the bed together, just looking at each other for a few moments.


"I think you've gotten a bit taller. Your body looks good." Joshua said, with a soft laugh. Kaito considered the statement for a few moments, before shaking his head, his wet hair slick against his scalp.


"I was tall and slim even before I arrived and you just remember me as a fat fucking midget." Kaito replied, making Joshua burst out laughing.

 

-------------------------------

 

Of course it had to start pouring rain as soon as the guy they had seen with the long hair had gone into Joshua's property. "There's a light on, sh!"  Jeonghan pointed to Joshua's loungeroom, where they could see directly in, and into the dining room, but from the back garden most of the second storey was blocked by a huge Acorn tree that grew in the back garden. Seungcheol and Jeonghan moved into the shadows of the gardens as through the sitting room window and the rain they saw Joshua's figure opening the windows, laughing, and then the long-haired man leaning backwards out of the window, getting soaking wet as Joshua continued to laugh.


"Kaito!" Joshua called out.


Jeonghan felt himself go numb and Seungcheol visibly deflated beside him. "I wish I didn't know." Jeonghan admitted quietly. "I just feel awful."


"It's a mess, either way." Seungcheol said, gravel-toned. "We would have found out eventually...it would have been even more shit."


"No." Jeonghan shook his head. "I mean this." Jeonghan pointed up to where Joshua and Kaito were visibly kissing in the sitting room through the window. "That's what really hurts. Having to stand here right now and see that and having to stay still earlier when the two other guys were here with the kids and the woman...all of that. Why did it have to be like this?" Joshua ran a hand through his hair, feeling sick.


"Hang on, something's going on." Seungcheol said to Jeonghan as Kaito and Joshua were suddenly talking to each other intently, and a look of pure frustration came across Joshua's face. Seungcheol and Jeonghan knew they were up to their neck in the shit in Joshua's books as the man leant out of the sitting room window, but before his roar could be heard, he was smothered by the rain.


Jeonghan and Seungcheol quickly climbed back over the fence and made it around to Joshua's front door, but to find it already open, with a soaking-wet Joshua - his top half, anyhow - glaring at him.


"What the fuck do you think you two are doing?" Joshua said angrily, Kaito coming to his side.


"Whose wife is that in the car?" Kaito said. "I hope oen of you left the car keys with her, it doesn't look like she's got any oxygen in there." As Seungcheol panicked, Joshua caught at his arm and snapped that Jeonghan "Can check on Lily, and, for God's sake, you could be half-decent and bring her up into the house where the heater is turned on."
Seungcheol didn't think he had seen Joshua genuinely so angry; upset, hurt in general, bitter or ashamed, but nothing like this.


"What would you know about treating women good when you're Japanese?" Seungcheol had a go at Kaito.


"There is no fucking way we are bringing up the second world war!" Joshua yelled as Kaito suddenly looked vicious. "His Dad is Korean anyway, you idiot!" He added.


"Shit taste in women then." Seungcheol remarked.


"I told them this morning...you know." Joshua quickly explained to Kaito, who didn't understand quite what was going on. Joshua exhaled heavily as suddenly Lily came up the stairs, Jeonghan's arm around her shoulders. 


"Hey sweetie." She waved at Kaito. "Now, you!" She put to Seungcheol darkly. "You get your arse into that fucking car otherwise we're breaking up you utter dick!"


"Does she have Scottish or Welsh in her somewhere?" Kaito quickly murmured to Joshua which made him grin; he tried to fix his face as Jeonghan and Lily and Seungcheol looked at him but it didn't quite work. Jeonghan swore suddenly.


"Taeyeon and Roses's bloody wedding party!" He said as Lily slapped his neck lightly.


"Either way, thank you so much for ruining my night, now fuck off." Joshua slammed the front door in their faces, and locked it from the inside.


"That was a bit harsh." Kaito reasoned.


"Don't care; they're fully-grown adults, they can get over it and deal with it." Joshua replied.

Chapter Text

"Could you play me a song?" Joshua asked Kaito who was pressed against his chest as they both lay on their sides beneath the duvet.


"You can play guitar too." Kaito commented, looking up to Joshua's eyes warmly.


"I like it when you sing." Joshua implored. "You sound so cool; not like a k-pop guy. Otherwordly sounds - a deep sort of croon. Magic."


"Which one?" Kaito asked.


"Anchor." Joshua moved so Kaito could get out of the bed and went over to the wardrobe. he actually laughed as he pulled the accoustic guitar from the hidden space, as clean and as fresh as the day it had been bought and first played the best part of twenty years ago by his Father to his Mother.


Kaito picked up the guitar and strummed his fingers along the strings, coming to sit cross-legged beside Joshua on the bed who was still beneath the covers. "Took the breath from my open mouth; never known how it broke me down. " A smile bloom on Joshua's face at the sound of Kaito's voice that didn't sound very much like a Japanese voice at all. "I went in circles somewhere else. Shook the best when your love was home, storing up on your summer glow; you went in search of someone else. And I hear your ship is comin' in....your tears a sea for me to swim. And I hear a storm is comin' in; my dear, is it all we've ever been? Caught the air in your woven mouth, leave it all I'll be hearing how you went in search of someone else. They taught the hand that taught the bride, both our eyes locked to the tide and we went in circles somewhere else..." Kaito broke off singing, but still strummed the guitar strings.


"I think your friends are back." He said, looking in the middle-air. "There's someone coming up the steps to the front door."


Barely a second later, knocks sounded out on the front door.

 

"Why don't you answer it?" Kaito asked as Joshua didn't move. "I can answer it if you want, aisidu."

 

"You don't have to get involved in my problems." Joshua told him. "He wants attention, but I'm not giving it to him, not now. What Seungcheol did last night was ridiculous."

 

"It's not Seungcheol." Kaito said. "It's Jeonghan. Seungcheol's foot-prints are heavier in sound than Jeonghan's."

 

"You only properly met those two last night yet you can tell their foot-steps apart?" Joshua said quietly, bathed in absolute wonder. Kaito nodded.

 

"You have to listen for things when you live in the mountains." Kaito said by way of explanation. "Are you sure you don't want me to see him, instead?"

 

Joshua groaned, getting up from the sheets.. "No, I'll do it. Jeonghan does a lot of this of his own accord, but getting dragged into the back garden in the rain last night - that's something signature of Seungcheol where his brain doesn't work." Kaito gave him his shirt and he grinned to himself when Joshua didn't bother putting any underwear or a pair of trousers on as he walked out of the bedroom and down the stairs. The shirt covered him enough, but it went just below his arse. Kaito played some more of the strings to himself, changing the song.

 

"Shua." Jeonghan said, looking anxious but relieved with his hands in his pockets as Joshua opened the front door. It didn't matter to him how ruffled Joshua's hair was or the fact that he was only wearing a shirt and because of that the realization dawned on Jeonghan that Kaito was upstairs in bed, naked as well. Rain continued to fall outside, and despite it, Jeonghan could hear a guitar been played upstairs. "I don't even have the words right now to explain myself." Jeonghan said, looking to the ground. "It was stupid. So stupid, yesterday...but..." He broke off as Joshua stepped outside with him, not caring about his lack of clothes.

 

"Come in; you alright to come in?" Joshua said, reaching out for his best friend. Jeonghan came across the threshold, and followed Joshua into the sitting room. Jeonghan saw the windows and curtains were still open from last night, but, miraculously, the carpet had not been wet by the rain.

 

"I know it's hard, and that it is a really huge thing." Joshua said, sitting cross-legged beside Jeonghan who was just completely quiet in upon himself. "I'm not abused, Jeonghan. I know that there's no morality or suitable ethics in it, but it's not always like that. It's not like that for me. You can see this."

 

"We care about you a lot, and all of us just worry, Josh." Jeonghan said in response, his eyes looking wet. Joshua hugged him tightly, not letting him go.

 

"Hey, I'm the last person here in the world that wants you and Cheol to be upset about this." Joshua said. "Come with me for a minute." He stood up, leading Jeonghan by his wrist down the hallway and up the stairs to the top where they sat.

 

Jeonghan gasped softly at the sound of Kaito's other-worldly vocalizations before he began to sing Seneca; Joshua knew that it connected in him. Joshua recognized the guitar's notes changing from Birthplace to Seneca, and leaned his head against Jeonghan's shoulder, still holding his wrist, as they listened to the Miko's son in Joshua's bedroom. The sound when heard by anyone was immediately capturing upon one's senses; utterly and completely captured was Jeonghan then. 

 

"Oh, given the chance to break, would you be on your way out? Who are you? Ooo, given the chance to break, would you be on your way out? Who are you? Who are you? Who are you?"

 

"You don't need to worry about me. You or Seungcheol. Ever." Joshua said, and, right then, he knew Jeonghan believed it. 

 

"I know all of this doesn't just get fixed in a heart-beat, but what you feel now...that's what I feel all the time." Joshua said. "I'm ok. I'm happy."

 

"You know Seungcheol still wants to know about it, even if acts like an arsehole?" Jeonghan said, laughing softly.

 

"Yeah." Joshua said. "I know he does. Both of you do."

Chapter Text

"Who decided this again?" Joshua said to Gerda on the phone, walking backwards and forwards across his sitting room, Jeonghan and Seungcheol sitting on the couch, half-watching the TV, half paying attention to Joshua on the phone, and half watching in horror as Kaito drained the blood on a freshly be-headed market chicken into a bucket in the back garden through the open-curtained windows. "Shit, Gerda, and you know it. Kaito is over in Seoul; that's my time, right now. You just don't book my body into your little diary windows for new clients that you haven't told me about." Joshua rolled his eyes to Seungcheol, before pointing to the phone and mouthing something ill-temperedly.


"This one replaces Cheol-Soo." Gerda said by way of explanation. "Called Won-Hae and is forty years old. Already paid me directly for you. I'll send you your 60%. Obviously has a job that can pay you money, sweetheart."


"I don't want him." Joshua said firmly. "You can give him to another one of the escorts in your books."


"You're a prostitute Joshua, Kaito - little rich kid - should be paying you and you know better than to get romantically involved with clients; especially the ones who are not yet eighteen. Fairly idiotic to forget these rules." Gerda's tone was honey-sweet but equally bitter with temper on the other end of the line. Not overly noticed by Joshua, Jeonghan nipped outside to see Kaito and commented to him, "You might want to keep the bucket of guts; he's having a fight with Gerda on the other end of the phone."


I don't believe in swearing and abusing women, Joshua later wrote down. But escort agencies are another matter. Especially when they're run by cantankerous, scheming, ugly middle-aged women who none of the James Bond villains have nothing on. These are women that take 40% of your wages in high-heeled shoes and Chanel pearls.


"Oh, shut up." Joshua snapped. "No wonder no one ever wanted to marry you, you ugly bitch." He raised his eyebrows pointedly at Seungcheol who covered his mouth to stop a laugh coming up and been heard in the background by Gerda, but he mouthed at Joshua about been "rude".


"He's due at half-six tomorrow night. Bye!" Gerda sung cheerfully, slamming down the phone. Joshua grit his teeth at the engaged tone. 


"Arsehole." He said of Gerda. Seungcheol laughed, shaking his head.


There's an irony to calling a agency-madam a "ugly bitch", though. They go and take it as a compliment.


"You shouldn't do that, Josh." Seungcheol said as Joshua got onto the couch beside him. "Calm down."


"She won't do anything; the cow wants my money." Joshua replied. Seungcheol nodded, not making further comment.


"Is Kaito alright with that...is it a chicken or a small turkey?" Seungcheol pointed out of the window as Kaito lit a cigarette with blood-covered hands, before he crouched down on the ground by the bucket and began to remove the organs from the decapitated chicken.


"It's a chicken." Joshua replied. "It's what they do in the mountains. Kill everything fresh, like that. I get it's a bit macabre, sort of -"


"Sort of?" Seungcheol scoffed a laugh. "Jeonghan looks like he's going to pass out."


"But he's one of the few guys who can cook really good food." Joshua finished.


It was a week after Jeonghan had apologised, and things were going smoothly. Joshua had seen Lily twice, and their relationship had improved greatly since he had stopped lying about everything. A few nights ago he had been with her in the kitchen while Seungcheol and Jeonghan were having a fit outside and Kaito was on next-door's roof getting a tree branch out of the gutter and counting the tiles that had been damaged in a storm  earlier. 


"You there'll never be enough of people like us." Lily had said, leaning into Joshua's side, cuddled into him. Joshua kept looking out of the corner of his eyes to see if Seungcheol had noticed his girlfriend cuddling one of his best mates.


"What's..." Seungcheol began. Joshua turned to look at him.


"He's not paying me." Joshua said. "It's not like that."


"Is he...your boyfriend, then?" Seungcheol worked through the words as he thought them.


Joshua looked down at his hands, flexing his fingers on his right hand softly. "Well...that's the harder part to explain." he said, smiling a little bit at Seungcheol, hoping that he would understand. Seungcheol nodded, but Joshua knew he would be hearing about it again.


"You'll be alright tomorrow? This new guy?" Seungcheol asked. Joshua nodded. "I know you say it's safe and everything -"


"I'm alright. I'm always alright." Joshua grinned. "I just open up my legs and moan a bit. I swear if you keep going on about it I'll blow my face out to the radio."


Shit, Joshua thought and suddenly Seungcheol looked awful. "Don't think about it." Joshua said, moving his hands slightly in gesture before going outside to where Kaito and Jeonghan were coming inside.

 

--------------------------------------------

 

"He's not concerned about us hyungs is he?" Jeonghan said to Joshua as Seungcheol helped Kaito pluck the feathers from the chicken in the kitchen, talking amongst themselves. "Or is that just the Japanese in him?"


"His Mother taught him as a child to give nothing to people unless he deemed that they deserved it." Joshua replied. "Really smart option."


"This has made you pretty wise, hasn't it?" Jeonghan. "The...business."


"I don't care what you say, Hannie. Escort, hooker, gigilo, prostitute, sex-worker." Joshua said. "I use escort or hooker myself."


Jeonghan took the comment, nodding. He stayed silent beside Joshua for a few moments before suddenly asking, "Does it hurt?"


"What?" Joshua echoed, stunned.


"Nothing, nothing." Jeonghan smiled brightly, shaking his head. Joshua let it rest for the rest of the night.

Chapter Text

"I'll be down in a second." Kaito called, sticking his head out of the shower. There was a rock band that they both liked playing a concert in the city; they had got ticket to it via Jeonghan who had a work-mate filming the concert of free-to-air television.


Joshua went downstairs as a knock on the door sounded. He opned it to see a middle-aged man standing there - reasonably handsome face - with receding black hair and a grey suit. "I expected a bit more, I have to say, at that money." He said.


"Are you Won-Hae?" Joshua checked. "Look, I'm sorry, I can't have you now. I can't fulfill your appointment."


"I've already paid."


"And you'll get all of your money back, what you pay me and what goes to comission for the woman you spoke to on the phone; Gerda?" Joshua replied. "Come in. I'll get it for you. Cash or cheque?"


"Cash."


"Wait in the sitting-room, I'll be right back." Joshua led him down the hallway and showed him into the sitting-room. He went to the kitchen and pulled a ceramic sugar jar out where he had emergency funds stashed, more than enough to cover Won-Hae's expenses.


When Joshua walked back into the sitting-room, Won-Hae had taken off his jacket and was walking towards him. "Here's your money." He held it out.


Won-Hae's eyes went up and down him. "Why don't you give me what I paid for?"


"Here it is." Joshua nodded down to the money. "I told Gerda to ring you back, but the cow refused, I'm sorry for that."


Won-Hae just looked at him and walked closer. Joshua stepped back, refusing to trip, his feet and his gaze and his body under the man's gaze.


"You need to take the money and leave." Joshua said.


"Rich area this. Good house. Pretty faced rich kid having some fun on the side?" Won-Hae's tone, underlying, contained a bit of sardonism. His hand came up to hold Joshua's jaw; he didn't move for a moment, letting Won-Hae do what he wanted, reading his face and his mood.


"I'm not doing what you want." Joshua said, his teeth grazing Won-Hae's thumb as it pressed down on his lower lip. Joshua didn't blink as he back pressed against a wall behind him. "Leave my house."


"I don't think so."


"Well, fuck you." Joshua punched Won-Hae in the throat and his chin, getting out from the way he had been pinned against the wall. He knew he should have ran into the kitchen and grabbed a knife, but it barely occurred to him to do it when the irrational part of his mind thought Won-Hae would have got the message and would just leave. Seungcheol kept saying about the dark side of what I do; congratulations, here it is, Joshua thought to himself as Won-Hae straightened with a livid expression on his face.


"You little cunt." Won-Hae wheezed, spitting blood from his mouth down onto the floor. 


"Just get out." Joshua said again.


"Gonna call the police, eh?" Won-Hae sneered. "Or that not your type?"


And what if I had just given in and done it? Of course,  he would have been rough; I had just yelled at him and hit him. Anytime a hooker hits a client...of course it always goes beyond anything normal, or relitaively human. We've both already had a go at each other; now the fight plays out. I could have just got my clothes off.


"Get out of my house!" Joshua yelled. He was sick to death of this. "Get - the - fuck - out!" Each word he spoke came with a shove that he gave against Won-Hae's chest. He gasped, falling down onto his knees on the ground as Won-Hae's hands went around his neck, pressing his thumbs down firmly. Joshua gave out a strangled yell, in pain and the fire that was burning his lungs inside his ribs as he couldn't breathe.


Suddenly, it was gone. Everything it was gone.


Joshua rolled over weakly onto his side, coughing, feeling blood come out of his nose and his bone-dry throat. He sat up to see Kaito - half-dressed, only in a pair of jeans - pressing a knife to Won-Hae's throat and another knife to Won-Hae's abdomen. The man stood utterly still, two blades held at dangerous parts of his body.


"Ask me to cut your skin." Kaito said into Won-Hae's ear, his eyes glinting dangerously. Joshua knew that Kaito hunted in Japan, and he knew he was good at it to. With a few slips of his wrists, Kaito could carve Won-Hae up. "Ask me, and I'll do it."


"Let Won-Hae go, aisidu." Joshua said. "Let him outside."

 

------------------------------------------

 

"I'm so sorry you had to see that." Joshua said to Kaito who pressed a pack of frozen vegetables against the bruising on Joshua's throat as the man didn't have an ice pack in his freezer. "That was horrible. No one should see violence like that when we're our age."


"Don't say that to me." Kaito replied. "I've seen my Mother's friends attacked by wolves in the forests around the temple because the animals didn't know their scents or their faces. I was beaten if I was misbehaved when I was younger with a wooden stick. Leather belt, sometimes." Kaito moved the ice-pack to the other side of Joshua's neck. "Don't make it out like that. I'll call Jeonghan, say we can't come."


"What do you mean?" Joshua frowned. "We're still going."


"You said to me only ten minutes ago your throat was still hurting every-time you breathed."


"It doesn't matter. It's the band singing, not me." Joshua held a hand over Kaito's on the make-shift ice-pack. "I don't want the rest of tonight to be ruined for you."


It's still incredible to me how grown-up and mature and strong Kaito was. There's always the murmured in culture; boys shouldn't be brought up just by their Mother's. They selfish, sulky, weak, effeminate because of it. But Kaito's Mother isn't an ordinary woman. She's an animal, and in consequence, she gave birth to one from a ordinary business-man in Seoul.


I think he's too young, to have to deal with things like that. He should leave me over it, really. But he doesn't.


And, even worse...I hope he never does leave me either. I'd be happy to have him around forever


"I'm fine." Kaito said. "You know that stuff gets me high." He grinned suddenly. "You should come over to the mountains in the winter for a few days. Fright of your life." He leant in and pressed his forehead against Joshua's, their noses meeting as well. It wasn't a kiss. It was just connection.


"All old cultures have a version of this." Kaito had once said to him. "The Welsh, the Norse, the Serbians, the Maori's, us Japanese. It's that closeness; that challenge to have th guts to come in and have that respect. Not be so uptight and close-minded that you won't alllow someone and insight into your soul."

Chapter Text

Jeonghan that night was in charge of the medium and close-up shots on eye-level, low and dutch angles, working between a gimbal and a steadicam cameras on the side of the stage connected between two computers and a hard-drive. The band members were talented, good-looking, and knew how to conduct themselves in front of the camera, giving all the performance and effect that the viewers desired. They were foreigner's, a English band playing their first East-Asian tour . All Jeonghan had to do was capture it the best he could.


"So what's the past for? I'll need it if love don't last long; you can run around infinite in my head." The leader singer, a thickly-muscled man - overly six feet tall - with a ring through his nose, black buzz-cut hair, and the shadow of grey stubble on his face, sang deeply, the sound soaring and gliding with a devastating purity comparable to opera over the crowd and the cameras. "Oh, you can't see, oh, I'd stay if you'd ask me. Now you know I care but it's hard to tell when you're scared."


Jeonghan picked up the steadicam and moved in close to the singer, correcting the dutch angle fix for the live broadcast for the television.


"But last night," The singer's gaze pierced him through the camera lense. "It hurt me to hear you say it felt broken."


"And even though I tried," The second camera-man picked up focus for the next shot as the singer sung the next line, and Jeonghan rushed back across the stage, one of the guitarists hopping out of the way to make room for him. "All these memories run my mind in slow motion."


Joshua held up the pass-slips to the door-man and the burly bouncer by his side, them giving access to the gig even though due to Won-Hae he and Kaito were already late to it. The concert was the best part of three-quarters over.


Joshua and Kaito half dragged each other through the crowd, forgetting about the terror with Won-Hae earlier and putting it at the back of their minds, as they moved towards the front of the crowd. They found their way at about half-way, and Joshua said to Kaito about putting him up on his shoulders so that Jeonghan might be able to spot them; how many guys at that venue that night had black hair that went down to their thighs. Kaito protested at first, but he didn't fight as Joshua bobbed down towards the ground, and was lifting him up into the air.


Kaito balanced up on Joshua's shoulders, Joshua's hands tight on his thighs, holding onto him. Kaito's hands rested against Joshua's head, his hair loosely falling around them. He threw some of it behind her bakc so it would annoy Joshua's face, and he felt still high from dealing with Won-Hae earlier. That violence, that hunt...it always did that to him. And with the loud beats and the sound of the music of the concert, the only thing wrong with it was what Joshua had had to suffer earlier. Kaito already knew that he wasn't going to tell Jeonghan. Maybe it would get outted from him by Seungcheol, but Jeonghan would never be told.


Kaito spotted Jeonghan cleanly, and at the right moment, dropped him a wink. He saw Jeonghan abruptly disappeared behind the gimbal camera just visible from the edge of the stage, and a few seconds later, a female assitant in a mic-set and black clothes with a pass around her neck was gesturing over to them from a blindside of the stage that could only be seen by Kaito and Joshua in particular. Kaito tried not to tip Joshua over as he climbed off him, and he was the leading them through to the side of the stage.
Joshua knew a few people looked at him as he navigated his way through with Kaito; they were staring at Kaito's hair and at the bruises on his throat. He realized luckily with Jeonghan that he would just think and Kaito had done it a bit rough, rather than any other thought.


"Thanks." Joshua grinned as the girl who brought them up to the back of the stage gave he and Jeonghan a couple of beers.


"This is fucking cool." Kaito said in a lowered tone to Joshua as he took a drink of some of the beer. Joshua laughed a little bit. "I like your mate; nice arse on him too." Kaito gestured over to Jeonghan. Joshua took a look at Jeonghan, and then Kaito.


"Yeah?"


"Yeah." Kaito nodded. "Not much to look at from the back when he goes up a set of stairs, but pretty alright otherwise."


"You're crazy." Joshua shook his head. "You're so crazy."

 

---------------------------------

 

The rest of the night went by in a whir; Joshua remembered the lead singer of the band and the drummer taking an interest in Kaito with his man-bun and through the help of a stage assistant translating, Joshua heard one minute they were talking about music, then man-buns, and then why k-pop stars - the male ones - why the hell did they wear make-up?


Even though Kaito is a favourite, we still have that balance of where he completely understands what my job is, and doesn't take it the same way that Jeonghan and Seungcheol does.


I'm seeing Hyung-Woo tomorrow night; an all-nighter. Every second Wednesday since I started, unless it's been an emergency for both of us. A important client family for him; the patriarch has died in the middle of the night with a bit of help from his granddaughters and his wife, or an emergency for me - not that it has happened yet for me. But if anything were to be classed as an emergency, it would be finding out Seungcheol had got Lily pregnant, Jeonghan had got someone pregnant, or I got accused of getting someone pregnant or otherwise giving them a STD, syphilis, or, worse, AID's.


While I'm with Hyung-Woo, Kaito goes back to his Dad's and chills out for a bit. When he's in Seoul, we don't spend all our time together. But a fair bit gets donated from each of us to the other one


Maybe I should just head off to Hyung-Woo's first thing in the morning, Joshua thought to himself, admiring the winter's night sky through the open-roofed stadium, and the staging lights, white and flourescent. He didn't see the sense in the stadium roof not been closed over when it could start snowing or pissing down rain any given second. I know where he hides his spare set of keys, and the keys to the barn. Ichko won't try and gnaw any of limbs off. He won't get pissed off if he finds me on his couch when he comes home


"Shua!" Joshua turned around a beamed at Jeonghan, who suddenly appeared out of nowhere, arm out in a wave. Jeonghan tucked himself close to Joshua side as they leant against a huge set of disabled amps-cum-speakers.


"God, that guy can sing!" Jeonghan said half-under his breath, nodding over to the band's singer. 


"Why are all British rock stars either skinny like twigs or built like tanks?" Joshua replied. He offered his beer to Jeonghan, who shook his head. Joshua had forgot for a minute that Jeonghan didn't drink while he was working. That had been a disaster once. He had had a skinful last year - around Christmas time - and then was called up to replace someone else who was nearly passing out on the floor - drunk as well. Joshua chuckled at the memory.


"The drummer gets a heap of exercise from those drums; did you see how he was playing them? And that massive one that came on in the first song - it was half the size of Lily's Honda CRV." Jeonghan chattered on.


Joshua just laughed, agreeing, not making a mention that he and Kaito had been late, and why they had been. "He's got a really deep voice." Joshua said of the singer.


"Hey, come over, I'll introduce you." Jeonghan tugged at his elbow, insisting.


"Careful what you say; I'm a legal clerk, remember?" Joshua quickly said. Jeonghan took one look at him and doubled over as he tried not to lose it.

 

Chapter Text

That night, Joshua had one of the worst night sleeps he ever recalled having. Kaito had asked if he wanted him to stay, but after the concert and meeting the band and seeing Jeonghan, Joshua was convinced he was alright. For three hours, he tossed and turned in the dark, making a mess of the bed-linens, feeling suffocatingly hot and then freezing cold in versions of feeling that repeated one after another. When Joshua looked at a clock, eventually giving up on sleep, he saw it was four minutes past two in the morning. He felt like shit, and was so significantly aware at how he was the only person in his house. When he had first moved into this house, that was the thing he had been most aware of. How quiet it was with just you in the house; no Jeonghan or Seungcheol with their voices and the sounds of their feet, no parents around. You could walk around the house naked, play music loud, do anything you wanted, and it was completely your own space. No one to shout at you, tell you off, no one coming through to ask you something or tell you something. All the chores you always thought nothing much of but were grateful you didn't have to do them; taking out the recycling and the other rubbish bins.
Joshua sat up in bed, the only thing he was able to feet was this devestating anger inside his whole body that raged and raged and raged. You could have done more, he thought. You could have beaten the cunt harder. Why did you let him shove you up against a wall like that? You could have refused to let him in. Lock the door. Ring up fucking Gerda and tell her what a cow she is to do this. "Remember your an escort?" She said. And, oh, for her, "Remember that you're an ugly, scheming, conniving bitch that ought to be shot?". Ring her in the morning and have a go at her. 


"Seungcheol? Cheol? Look, is it -" Joshua stammered, his throat closing up. "Can you - can - can -"


"Josh!" Seungcheol said as Joshua put his phone face down on the bed, burying his face in his hands as he lost the power of speech completely. Joshua wrapped his arms around himself as he looked down at his phone. He couldn't tell him; he couldn't speak. Joshua felt utterly regretful; while he had been acting like an idiot at Seungcheol, he had Lily laughing in the background, happy. What do you even think you're doing you idiot? A voice in the back of his head said. It doesn't matter if they're awake or anything - they were probably having sex! Fuck, congratulations for ruining that for them!


"It's alright. Everything's cool. Please, don't bother. Go back to sleep." Joshua quickly said into the phone before ending the call, feeling completely ashamed of himself.


Why is it always if I make a choice about something I lose something else? He thought to himself, roughly getting under the linen again and trying to block out every part of his body that was screaming.


Knowing it would work, he went downstairs, finding his laptop in the sitting-room. He laid down on the couch and played music for what felt like an hour, and when he looked down at the clock on his laptop, he saw it had been about forty-five minutes. Joshua listened to English music over Korean. He didn't have to make an sort of effort; even though his Korean was perfect, there was something about the English that had a greater sense of understanding to him. There were things expressed in English that weren't expressed in Korean; just the matter of culture and the races of people in-between the two things. America, England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand - things like sexuality were profound but they were so open that there was something informal about it. 


Joshua took his headphones off as he thought he heard someone call his name. His heart sank in his chest as he heard Seungcheol's voice call out, "Joshua!" again. Joshua considered just staying on the couch, ignoring Seungcheol, pretending he was asleep. He closed the lid of his lap-top, and frustratingly got up and jogged to the door, taking a deep breath as he opened it.


"Josh -" Seungcheol began.


"Look, I'm sorry for disturbing you and Lily - I'm sorry about that. Go home, Cheol, I'm fine." Joshua said, not giving Seungcheol enough room to try and come inside. "Just go home, I'm fine, I don't want you here. Leave me alone." He throat ached painfully as he tried to make his voice rise louder.


"Bullshit!" Seungcheol said. "Josh!" His hands rose up in the air as Joshua slammed the door shut on him, and leant his back against it on the opposite side as Seungcheol tried the door-handle, trying to push the front door open.


"What happened? Did you get hurt?" Seungcheol asked, still pushing against the door.


"I said I'm fine!" Joshua wheezed out. "Just shut up and go away!"


"Josh!" Seungcheol exclaimed. "Why are you doing this, for God's sake?"


With that, something clicked deep inside Joshua, and he opened the front door, just looking at Seungcheol. Seungcheol's eyes searched him for a moment, before locking on the bruising around his throat and the other discolouration. "I don't want to talk about it. Just go home." Joshua said.


"Tough shit, you are telling me, Shua." Joshua didn't fight Seungcheol as the older man finally got his way inside, and shut the front door, locking it, also. "Did Kaito do that?"


"Are you fucking kidding me?!" Joshua winced as his throat came out bizarre. He pressed his hand there, silent for a moment. "No, he didn't. Just leave it, Cheol. I'm sorry for causing a problem -"


"No, no, no." Seungcheol forced Joshua to come down the hallway with him and into the sitting-room. "Stop apologising to me. Stop doing it."


Joshua sunk into the couch numbly, swallowing as Seungcheol looked at him so hard that it was as though he was trying to see into his chest.


"I - I can't sleep." Joshua chuckled weakly. "It's driving me mad." He stretched, his back hurting him suddenly. "It was all Gerda's fault. When you heard me having that argument with her on the phone, it was about a new client and I said I wouldn't be having him right now because Kaito's here. All my other ones at the moment, yeah, they're fine, but no new ones. She just wanted me to have a new one so she wouldn't miss out on not having Cheol-Soo; because of the 40% comission, it would be one client less per week with me moving Cheol-Soo on." Joshua laughed again softly. "Cheol-Soo didn't do anything wrong. He wanted a bit of Dominator stuff; not my sort of thing so I gave him to someone else. Anyway, this guy came around expecting it of course. Kaito was up in the shower. I brought him in to give him his money back and apologise for Gerda's behaviour. Then he got violent when I told him to leave. he would at first. I punched him in the jaw and the throat when he shoved me up against a wall. He started to strangle me and then kaito came down with a couple of knives and threatened to stab him. He would have, too, Seungcheol." Joshua ran one of his hands through his hair. "I told him just to let the guy fuck off, and he did. I don't think he'll be coming back, but, yeah...and before you say about reporting him to the police - I'm a gay-market hooker, Cheol. No, no fucking way."


Seungcheol was quiet for a while. "I think you need to get some perspective, Joshua. Come down to real world. Get out of this thing, "business", whatever it is you want to call it. I just don't believe that you've got it in you - because this - all of this - it's just fucked up. Really fucked up."


"No." Joshua said firmly, shaking his head, suddenly defensive. "I'm not giving it up, Seungcheol."


"Why not?" Seungcheol put it to him. "You got assaulted by some creep today and your boyfriend -"


"Kaito's not my boyfriend." Joshua said harshly.


"What is he, then?" Seungcheol scoffed. "Why do you keep saying you're straight when you're obviously -"


"I am straight, you idiot!" Joshua wanted to shove at Seungcheol. "You really don't get it do you?" He looked at Seungcheol mirthlessly. "It's the money. All about the money."
"But what about those two men that came the other day - the one with the floozy and the one with all the kids? And Kaito? What does that make them?" Seungcheol replied, purposely degrading.


Joshua moved over the couch to Seungcheol's body, pushing him down onto the couch, and pressing his mouth against his, one of Joshua's hands coming to slip underneath the back of Seungcheol's head. Joshua pulled back, Seungcheol not pushing him away.


"It makes them like you and Jeonghan." Joshua said. "People I think are above been charged for the parts of me that I give out. And as for that -" He touched his mouth. "A kiss is just a kiss. A fuck is just a fuck. Been held is just being held. There's no crime in that, and sometimes been held or been fucked or been kissed - that's all it is."


Joshua moved back, letting Seungcheol sit up. The older man pressed his hand against his mouth, feeling the tingling burn sensation that went through him. He looked to Joshua, but flushed in embarrassment as Joshua smiled at him.


"First kiss from another guy always feels funny. It's not a girl kissing you; not the same feeling; gentle and willing for you take control." Joshua mused quietly, moving to the other end of the couch, giving Seungcheol some space. Joshua wondered to himself what Seungcheol would do. Would he just stay in his spot like he was or would he go for some kind of come-back?


"Can I ask you something?" Seungcheol asked hesitantly. "I want to hear it from you. Did you and Jeonghan ever...you know?"


"We nearly got to it sometimes. We'd be able to see it in one another; I could see the burn in him and he could see the burn in me." Joshua admitted. He moved off the couch to lay on the floor, and Seungcheol followed him. "We used to touch each other sometimes; try and get a sense of it. Along the chest, hips. Neck...mouth. Wonder if we could do it and not fuck everything up in the process." He gazed up at the ceiling, and suddenly had the wish for it to start raining; add some background noise. "When I think about it, it was just personalities. It made me and Jeonghan into some sort of bizarre alchemy that we ourselves made work. Sometimes - most of the time - it's divine. It's great. And, other days, it was absolutely horrible. Really bloody awful. I was nearly to the point of tearing his clothes off just to see if doing it could fix the two of us." Joshua turned his head to Seungcheol. "The truth is, I never really wanted to fuck him, as the word is. Touch him, feel him, breathe him in...you could say I was a bit in love with him, but that wasn't it, either. It's complicated, but it's easy, and it's..." Joshua laughed softly. "All of that."


"I'm going to head off in the morning; about eight?" He added to Seungcheol. "Go up and see Hyung-Woo. He's the one who is a funeral director."


"Nice touch." Seungcheol commented. "Want to go to sleep then?"


"Yeah." Joshua said. They had both said all they needed to for that night.

Chapter Text

"Fuck it, it's nearly eleven 'o' clock!" Joshua yelled out to Seungcheol who just laughed over the top of the stairs with a toothbrush in his mouth.


"We both work at nights, it's not really that much of a problem." Seungcheol answered. He made himself, waiting until Joshua came downstairs. "You sure you'll be alright?" He asked, following Joshua back upstairs as Joshua said to stop yelling between floors. 


"Yes, of course I will." Joshua replied honestly. Seungcheol watched as Joshua pulled out a simple black bag and put a array of condoms, lube, a dildo, his phone and a zip-lock bag into it. 


"That's what you said to me last time." Seungcheol said, trying to right himself; that dildo had been huge. He hoped to hell that that wasn't going to go anywhere near Joshua's anatomy.


"It's Hyung-Woo. He's a good man." Joshua insisted. "Thanks for staying over. You didn't need to."


"That's shit and you know it." Seungcheol said. "I'll uh - I'll see you later." He half did a weird handshake with Joshua that the two of them had sort of muddled up when they were younger. All the while, Joshua smiled at him in such a way that even thought Seungcheol knew Joshua was telling the truth, he couldn't believe it himself for one second. 

 

--------------------------------------

 

In the drive to Hyung-Woo's rural residence, Joshua thought to himself about what he had told Seungcheol last night.


Can I ask you something? I want to hear it from you. Did you and Jeonghan ever...you know?


Why was he asking that, Joshua thought to himself. He couldn't decide if maybe it had just been apart of the mood when Seungcheol had asked it, but when he had spoken he had been hesitant. Like he had deliberated over the question for a while. He can't seriously think I was getting in a bit of practice with Jeonghan before I decided to go professional


Joshua was surprised to see the gates to Hyung-Woo's acerage property already open when he drove up the driveway, and then to the Hanok home. Ichko was lying on the verandah, bur picked up back into life as Joshua pulled his car up near the barn. Hyung-Woo was never usually home during the day. As soon he closed the car door, he saw Hyung-Woo come outside in his usual set of jeans and jumpers and his black glasses.


"You're early." Hyung-Woo remarked as Joshua made his way over to him. 


"You're actually home today; not at work and it's daylight." Joshua replied in wonder. Hyung-Woo conceded that comment with a chuckle, giving Joshua a kiss.


"I'm the most simple creature on Earth; a human man." Hyung-Woo said. "And today I made a decision, like all men do."


God, I love him, Joshua thought.


"I've got a bit of an idea if you're alright with it?" Hyung-Woo suggested, walking with Joshua tucked under his arm into his side.


"And this is the day where I didn't pack enough stuff." Joshua nodded to himself, joking with Hyung-Woo.


"Not like that. They've finally re-opened the lake down teh road after doing some land-scaping on the forest. Want to take down a couple of bottles of wine and have a look?" Hyung-Woo asked.


All my favourites bring me different things. Seong-Hun brings me that bachelor-hood, upper-class, reputational class and it gets moulded into a slightly different shape when we're in his sitting-room or out on the balcony with a couple of bottles and you can hear Ha-Yoon singing to 1980's Cantopop in the kitchen.


Min-ho brings me artistic brilliance and insight, weekends and holidays in Venice and Paris and Rome, and some of the most wonderful, obsessive sex one person might ever encounter in their life; he also brings me a houseful of children, the painful experience of stepping bare-foot onto Lego bricks, and the functions of a big family.


Kaito brings me primeval wildness conflicting with the issues of modernity; a perfect blend of both his Father and his Mother. One minute he's slaughtering chickens and other poultery in my back garden, and then he's talking through the MAMA music awards and which artists he thought should have one. Hanging upside down my roof outside my windows and then trying to get a cab in the middle of rush-hour.


As for Hyung-Woo...he simply gives me days like this. I never have days like this

Chapter Text

Joshua walked through the weekend markets that were held either side of the banks of the  Cheonggyecheon  stream. He admired the tent stalls and the more stable ones - secured with metal poles - with tables of food, wine, beer, clothes, hats, shoes, and knick-knacks laid out. Joshua saw a flower stall and had a split second thought of if he did have a girlfriend right now, would he be the flower-giving type. Well, it would depend on her, he reasoned to himself. If she was allergic it would definitely be a no. If she just hated flowers in general thank God that back garden doesn't have much in it that would annoy her.


Joshua stopped by a stall and brought a coffee. As he drank it, the rich oily bitterness of it pretty much had a slap-around with his senses, and filled his stomach up with something.


Sometimes sex is just sex. There's no fireworks, there's no erotica, there's not a great deal of sensuality that drags all of your emotional and psychological senses under and makes your physicals senses elevated to the sky above. Sometimes sex is just a person putting a part of themselves in me, moving around a bit. That's just it. I get a transaction of money, and in return, they get to do whatever they want.


Simple, right?


But sometimes sex is like financial wealth; it's all about the numbers. With two people, it's easy. One gives, one receives. But add a third, and then a fourth, that's when things become complicated.


I've already got a carefully constructed life which revolves around time with another twenty-three carefully constructed lives, plus my family, Seungcheol, Lily and Jeonghan thrown in.


This is why there are some things you just don't say to these people of your carefully constructed life, even if they know about what you do. Because all carefully constructed things can fall to pieces


The truth is, I probably shouldn't have told Jeonghan certain things and asked certain things of him

 

------------------------------------------


Wednesday:


"How do work such long hours?" Joshua said to Jeonghan, helping him carrying tracking for the gimbal cameras into his house.


"Let's put this in the lounge-room." Jeonghan grunted out, sighing as he and Joshua fnally put the tracking on the ground. "The idiots at work."


"Why couldn't they move all of this stuff in the vans to the shooting site tomorrow?" Joshua asked.


"Because we're they want to film is just down the street - only fifty meters - when Sprog -" a nickname for fellow camera-man Taeyeon who was back from his honey-moon in Western Europe with Rose. "Said that if we put everything we need tomorrow in my house we don't have to worry about getting up early to ogranize equipment or anything because it's all here."


"What are you filming just down the street?" Joshua questioned.


"The network is launching a new show next year; Korea's version of "Grand Designs". It's a show in England; basically, over the course of however long it takes to build the house, we film a show about architecture and a couple trying to build this massive, million-pound worth home and the story behind it - all of that stuff. That vacant block that has builders all over it just down the street? That's what we're filming for "Grand Designs". Plus in doing that, there is all the Christmas and Solstice editions of the other shows on the Networks, plus the telethon they have every year." Jeonghan answered. "Want to sit down for a minute?"


"Don't you have to ressemble the gimbals on their stands?" Joshua asked. Jeonghan swore heavily, making Joshua burst out laughing. He had forgotten about the gimbals.


Twenty minutes later, Joshua was sitting on the floor beside Jeonghan with mugs of tea in front of them, talking to each other and Joshua holding bits of metal in place as Jeonghan put in screws. He had never thought Jeonghan a very mechanic person; Seungcheol nearly had to help Jeonghan everytime he wanted to mow the grass to start the lawn-mower engine, and Joshua knew that if Jeonghan's car broke down he'd have no idea what to do about it apart from ring the Highways department and get them to sound out someone with jump cables, or call a tow truck.


"Can you do photography as well?" Joshua asked Jeonghan, having a mouthful of the tea.


"Yeah, of course. What d'you need?" Jeonghan answered.


"Can you do me a favour and not have a fit?" Joshua asked. "Some of the other girls in the agency - who have Gerda as their agent - need some photos done and she asked if I could get my hands on a photographer as she's used up everyone else who can be discreet."


"Do I have to do photos for you too?" Jeonghan asked. Joshua didn't look at him, just took another mouthful of tea. Jeonghan chuckled, but it was a bit nervous.


"Yeah. Sure. Alright, no problem. It'll have to be Sunday and only after four in the afternoon, yeah?" Jeonghan said. Joshua grinned at him.

 

------------------------------------

 

Sunday:


Jeonghan wondered why he wasn't photographing Joshua first as they drove to the first girl's house. Joshua said that they couldn't all get photographed in his house; the carpet, furntiure and background gets recognised and spotted even though you think the viewers on the Agency's website would only be looking at the faces and bodies of the escorts. When they walked in, Jeonghan met Joshua's agent, Gerda, who was supervising the shoot apparently.


"This is Camille." Joshua introduced the twenty-four year old to Jeonghan.


"What's your actual name?" Jeonghan asked her.


Camille shook her head, a smile coming onto her face. "No, honey." She replied. She parted the front of silk kimono to reveal a old-fashioned style petticoat purely made from lace, except it barely covered her backside.


"You're about to get the best photos ever." Joshua said to Gerda, raising an eyebrow as Jeonghan guided Camille to walk down the hallway of her apartment, her hair tumbling loose and natural over her shoulders, make-up simply done but she looked gorgeous. When he had first started as an escort, he had initially thought that rather than having no relationships at all in his personal life, maybe the option was to date another escort; like Camille, or some of the other girls, Coco, Janelle, or Skye. "He's a cinematographer."
Over the next few hours they worked all the way through the fourteen escorts that Gerda had on her books, and Joshua could tell that even Gerda was amazed enough by Jeonghan's work and conduct to actually be quite civil to him. Unless she was making money out of them, Joshua knew Gerda didn't have much softness for men.


"He's made them all look like models." Gerda said as she looked at her computer screen, Jeonghan having uploaded the photos for her and even the bit of film he had shot of Camille and Janelle. As she talked to Joshua, it was as though she didn't care that Jeonghan wasn't on her other side.


"You're supposed to have a high-class agency. Yeah, we still do what we do but it's not bad, Gerda. You can't say that." Joshua said. He selected a certain photo of Camille and showed it to Gerda. Camille was looking over the side-curved of her shoulder at Jeonghan, her hair falling in gently curled curtains either side of her face, only a little bit of her skin on her shoulder shower as the kimono fell a bit away around her back.


Gerda gave one nod of her head, indicating that they were acceptable. Even though Joshua looked happy, Jeonghan wasn't impressed.


What a cow, he thought.

Chapter Text

Jeonghan felt anixety whirling in the pit of his stomach as Joshua drove back to his house. All I have to do is treat it like a game. Take light in it. But it's never that simple is it? Photographing and filming the girls was easy; they had their array of underwear, their hair and make-up done. What the hell is Josh going to do? He thought.


"What are we going to do?" Jeonghan asked Joshua as they got inside.


"Getting you a drink." Joshua called over his shoulder, walking down the hallway.


"It's fine, I don't need one." Jeonghan shook his head, wondering how he was going to photograph Joshua to make him attractive to gay men. Photographing the girls had been alright, but now Joshua was another kettle of fish entirely.


"Yeah, you do. You're terrified. Gerda put the wind up you earlier."


Thought Jeonghan wouldn't admit it, he had actually been alright earlier; he had been treating the whole thing as a joke but he didn't know if it was anything to do with Camille or any of the others, but maybe Joshua was right in what he said. Maybe Gerda had just fucked up everything with him; maybe it all came down to her. Jeonghan sat down at Joshua's kitchen island as Joshua poured a random mix of alcohols from different bottles into a coffee mug for him.


"How do make yourself attractive to gay guys?" Jeonghan just dived in and asked Joshua.


Joshua leant his elbow on the kitchen island. "I'm good looking, I keep it that way, and I give them what they want." Joshua said. "The clients."


"You know what I mean. With the photographs." Jeonghan said, heat churning in his stomach.


"Gay prostitutes either act like they are straight, they are ultra feminine ultra ridiculous drag queens in Calvin Klein underwear, or they are masculine, heavy muscle guys who are usually the ones who dress up as fire-fighters, doctors, police officers, and James Bond. I'm the best sort because I am straight." Joshua explained. "Did you have a look at the website? The one I sent to Cheol?"


"He didn't give the address. He said it wouldn't be a good idea." Jeonghan said. He laughed suddenly, but it wasn't of humor or happiness. "Were you naked or something in the last ones?"


Joshua looked down at the alcohol in Jeonghan's mug, before his eyes slid back up to meet his. Jeonghan stared at him.


"Oh, no way." He buried his face in his hands.


"I'm not getting naked this time around." Joshua said. "We update the photos every three months, and -"


"What's the website?" Jeonghan said. "Now I've got to see it." He wondered why Joshua hesitated before he took Jeonghan's phone and typed in the web-site address. As he sipped the drink that Joshua had made him, he sat his phone down on the bench and gulped at the alcohol at the first photograph he saw. It showed Joshua naked in a bed with a man on top of him, their stomachs pressed together as they kissed, the man's hand coming around Joshua's back and his neck, Joshua's legs bent and open, his knees pressing against the man's hips. The way the photograph was taken, it was completely professional but it reminded Jeonghan of the style of image he took. He flicked through the second image and saw it was a close-framed lens from a birds-eye point of view of Joshua's upper body and face as the man on top of him kissed a line down his neck. Joshua's lips were parted, bruised and flushed grey and dark red, his eyes glazed over and his pupils dilated; his skin seemed to shine in the photograph, and his cheekbones were a peach colour.


Jeonghan felt overwhelmed just looking at it.

"Whose the guy?" Jeonghan asked, trying not to drink to alchol too fast but he still did.


"Anyone you want." Joshua replied, closing the tab on Jeonghan's phone. "You alright to do it now, then?"


"No, sorry, I can't." Jeonghan blurted out.


"I told you it might be..." Joshua didn't finish his sentence. "Does seeing me like that - what's with you and Seungcheol that it gets you two so worked up?"


"You're stark naked making out with another man and then having him kiss your neck and your bloody face...!" Jeonghan exclaimed, before hanging his head, clasping his hands at the back of his neck.


"All those times we used to mess about when we were younger - you never got it over, did you?" Joshua said, before leaving the kitchen. Jeong looked up after he heard the footsteps fade and wondered if Joshua was coming back. Jeonghan got up from the bench and tried to find Joshua, before heading for the stairs as he heard the creak of the floor upstairs. Joshua came out of his bedroom as Jeonghan appeared at the top of the stairs.


"I was putting the heater on you idiot." Joshua said. He eyes went up and down Jeonghan. "Why did we never do it?" Blood rushed south in his body as he studied Jeonghan's face.


"Don't fuck with me right now." Jeonghan realized a second later what he had said. "You know what I mean."


"I know what you want." Joshua said. 


It's my view with same-gender sex that it's a chance to lose your virginity, and experience it, twice.


Jeonghan followed Joshua as he moved towards the bedroom. When Jeonghan shut the door behind him, he stood half-frozen in the space, in a position and a depth he purposely had kept himself out of for a very long time while Joshua laid down on the bed..


"Can you at least get naked so I can have a look at you?" Jeonghan spoke, finally.


Joshua gazed at Jeonghan, sensuality beneath a scale of honesty. Joshua sat up. pulling his shirt off. Jeonghan couldn't help shifting across the floor to the bed to touch his chest tentaively. Joshua ducked his head, searching Jeongha, and pressed a kiss against Jeonghan's mouth. It was chaste, and the feeling of the pressure of each other's lips lingered when Joshua drew back. Joshua hummed softly for a moment before moving his hands beaneath so he could undo his jeans and take them off with his underwear. He threw them away on the floor, and Joshua looked back at Jeonghan.


"Isn't this what you wanted?" Jisoo said.


"Hm, pretty much." Jeonghan moved up over Joshua's body to kiss him, their noses and foreheads pressing together as their mouths filled up with blood and electric warmth that fed it's way down to their spines. Joshua breathed in through his nose as he let Jeonghan slip his tongue in his mouth, and the feeling itself had him drugged. 


Kissing your best friend in a situation like that - anyone can be forgiven for losing their head. It's touches and situations like this that are built for human beings to lose their heads; losing all control, all sensibility - that's something allowed in nature. It doesn't nessecarily mean, however, that the person afflicted knows what to do - and what not to do - when it hits. It completely dumbfounds you. The problem is getting it to stop. How do you stop from getting in so far when you can't think straight and you lower anatomy betrays you even though want it? 


"Enough of that." Joshua put his hand to Jeonghan's throat, pressing his index finger into the hollow there in-between his collarbones just enough that it put pressure on his ecophigous below. A slight wheeze came with the breath that Jeonghan inhaled at that moment.


"That feels good." Jeonghan said, but it came out more hesitant that he wanted it to sound. Shit, he thought.


"Look." Joshua said. "Don't touch."


Jeonghan turned back over onto his back on the mattress, tucking one arm up around his head, looking at Joshua who laid on his back also.


"What was it like the first time you had sex with another guy?" Jeonghan asked. 


"It was intense and natural and naked." Joshua said. "My first client was Seong-hun. He's forty-seven now, but he was forty-three when I first met him."


"Fuck; you would have been nineteen, then?" Jeonghan realized.


"Seong-hun wanted sex, and I thought I could do it and do it brilliantly. I didn't think he was ugly, or unattractive, or stupid. I could tell he wasn't an arsehole. We got our clothes off, and then I saw his body, and his penis...I got scared. The trick to anal sex - gay sex - is being able to fit your partner inside you. I didn't think I'd be able to. I panicked. He laid me down on the bed and laid beside me and said that I shouldn't be with that agency; the woman on the other end of the line hadn't told him how young I was, or the fact that I was brand new. I felt hopeless, considering that as each minute went by that was money from his wallet into mine. I couldn't give him bad sex for the money he was paying; it would be better to have no sex at all, but then why make an appointment with me then?" Joshua chuckled suddenly. He rolled onto his side, putting his naked thigh over Jeonghan so Jeonghan's still clothed crotch pressed against Joshua's skin. Jeonghan couldn't figure out how he hadn't got his clothes off yet.


"Then the most amazing thing happened. Seong-hun started to suck me off even though I wasn't wearing a condom, and...for two hours we just looked at each other. Like this."
"Is that all?" Jeonghan spoke. 


"Well, he..." Joshua laughed. "We finished off with me coming because he had four of his fingers in my arse."


"What the fuck?" Jeonghan said, tipping his head forward. Joshua nodded.


"Like this." Joshua held his hand up, but pressed his thumb towards his palm.


"Fuck." Jeonghan swore again. "How could you do that?"


"The next time we had an appointment, I had his whole hand inside me." Joshua replied. "Never came so hard in my life when he had his knuckles resting on my prostate and then he punched me."


"What...inside?" Jeonghan put across, terrified of what the answer would be. 


As Joshua nodded again. Jeonghan let out a exclamation, genuinely horrified at the thought of what Seong-hun had done in the name of sex to Joshua.


"Why the fuck did you let someone put their hand inside you like that?" Jeonghan asked.


"Because it gives you the best orgasm you'll ever have." Joshua said honestly. Jeonghan's eyes slid closed to half-lids lids as Joshua moved his body over the top of his, looking down at Jeonghan. "What do you think this close?"


Jeonghan's hands rose up and felt up Joshua's thin hips and waist.


"It feels different, doesn't it?" Joshua read Jeonghan's mind.


"Does it feel different to you?" Jeonghan asked.

Chapter Text

In the moment, everything is good. Everything seems fine. But it always ends up that I am responsible for the making of a huge fucking error that is not going to be worked out easily.


I look at Hyung-Woo and I feel desperately sorry for him sometimes; it does make me really sad. Hyung-Woo doesn't have much of a life; he never has had much of a life. Been gay, he never moved on through school, had a date to the graduation ball, got married or had children. He's not even someone's Godfather. He has in house in the country and runs and funeral director's and organizes the dead client's remains. Sometimes he sees me. And that's it. That's his whole life. He doesn't really have any friends, he keeps his staff in tight because they don't have the understanding that their job is dealing with dead people and their grieving families.


In a way that's really quite degrading for Hyung-Woo, I hoped to never end up like him in my real life. That completely monotone life that only gets a bit of colour in it every Wednesday, or every second Wednesday week.


But maybe it's simpler; it's emptier, sure, but it's simple. Because of how Hyung-Woo lives, he doesn't fuck up relationships, other people's relationships; he doesn't embarrass himself or cause any problems because it's just him.


People have too many conceptions, too many dreams, to many self-made fairy-tales and ideaologies. When you throw aside all of that shit you end up like me. When you throw away all of the shit in my life you're like Hyung-Woo. Happiness and the "sweet life" is pretty pathetic, when you think about it.


And that's a pill that anyone can't just swallow


"Are you alright?" Kaito asked Joshua, cuddling into his back with his arm over Joshua's ribs beneath the duvet. Where Kaito's head rested behind Joshua's on the pillow, he gazed at the curve of his neck and inhaled the smell of his soap.


"I'm fine." Joshua said hollowly, not turning over.


"Don't lie to me." Kaito said. "Which one of them was it? Seungcheol or Jeonghan?"


"How do you do that?" Joshua asked, still staring at the opposite wall hazily. "Just read me like a book?"


"I'm amazed you have to ask me that." Kaito responded. "You two did something?"


"Kaito -"


"I can read you body." Kaito said. "The way you moved; everything. Your eyes, your mouth. You were different." 


"Can you go?" Joshua turned over onto his back, lying to Kaito. He didn't even think about what the younger man had said about not doing so. "I've got another client in an hour."


"No you don't." Nevertheless his words, Kaito got up and dressed, not looking at Joshua.


"Get angry, then. Go away." Joshua said as he sat up, just looking at Kaito who finally returned his gaze.


"Lie to me. Be a mess. Be stuck in this colour." Kaito replied. 


A consequence of been young is that, naturally, you're a total fuckhead. Lessons from both Seong-Hun, Min-ho, Hyun-Woo and Kaito. You do things, you say things; you destroy things, and you make things.


It's complex and emotionally difficult and it's a consistent chaos that we sometimes tame down and relfect back upon. The shame and the regret creeps in, but it's always too late. Been young means you say that thing, and you do that thing. Most of the time, even though you might repent on it, you can't reverse it. Apologies don't fix everything. They don't fix anything most of the time.


Seungcheol is a thousand percent right. I need perspective; I need  a new bit of life. 


But how do you still do it, be human, and not fuck things up because with been young, deep down you're a selfish, ignorant prick?


"No, don't go." Joshua said, getting out the bed and reaching Kaito as he went to walk out of the room. Joshua held onto Kaitos wrist. "Please. Stay."


But sometimes there is that one chance - that one window of oppotunity - to fix what you fucked up.


And I was fortunate that Kaito is the type of person he is, otherwise, I think I would have made it even worse


Joshua didn't resist as Kaito took control and got rid of the space in-between them. Joshua had never admitted to anyone - not even Seungcheol or Jeonghan - but with Kaito could get him so high in sex that he had passed out once before, and had woken up a time later he didn't know, Kaito's soft breath on his neck, a palm rubbing his chest, trying to stimulate more life into a heartbeat that had slagged as Joshua's blood-pressure had dropped. That had been Kaito as well; Joshua had never passed out before, and it had agitated him why he had. The next thing he knew Kaito was talking to him, and Joshua learned as well that been the child of a Shaman meant that you were as good as the child of a Doctor.


Kaito was gentle as his hand pressed in a curve around the line of Joshua's throat and neck, making Joshua tilt his head to the side. Nonetheless, the animal that Kaito said every human being had in them started to appear in him. Joshua knew it was an unspoken command for utter submission when the young man put more force in his right hand. Joshua understood where Seungcheol had had a bit of a problem with Kaito, the half Korean half Japanese man not yet even twenty years old, but, right then, Joshua did not dare to move. The grab on his neck was not enough to choke him, but it still blocked some oxygen down into his organs.


Joshua had never felt himself so vulnerable like that before with Kaito. He knew in some way it was his mood now afflicting itself upon this one, but for a moment he doubted every ounce of trust he had in Kaito. 


“Don't get scared of me.” Kaito put a wet kiss on Joshua’s neck at the pulse beneath his skin, making the older man's throat glisten under the dampness, the tendons in his throat moving as he swallowed. “Whatever you and Jeonghan did, this isn't now. I'm here. Kaito. Not Jeonghan. There's no more of what shook you so much. Don't think about it, Josh.”


Kaito's words sent a series of shivers up and down Joshua’s spine. He had no choice but to nod. Kaito in the application of the therpay was not contented with that non-verbal answer. His voice was forceful while his hand held Joshua's neck tighter. Joshua gasped, completely under Kaito as they still both stood in the doorway of his bedroom. 
“Open your mouth and tell me, Joshua.” Kaito said, his lips moving against Joshua's throat as he ran his mouth across the other's skin. He waited for Joshua to speak.


Right then, it was hard for Joshua to speak or breath, but he submitted as he realized what Kaito was doing. He mentally kicked himself for not realizing earlier. Animism. This is why Kaito just laughed when you asked him why people like him didn't mix with other people who were not like he and his mother and her family. "Because we act like this." Kaito had said, moving over Joshua's body. "And the only way people like you can cope with it if you can as to be like this." He finished his setence before pressing his tongue over Joshua's as they had kissed.  


“I won't.” Joshua said.


But that was still not enough for Kaito.


“What do you call me, Josh?" Kaito whispered, kissing Joshua's neck one more time. “What do you want me to do?”


Joshua didn't want to take control; with Kaito it had always been a bit of a game, wild and fluorescent and mildly chaotic. Something might get broken or smashed in the process. Bruises formed on backs and heads and legs as they rolled off the bed and crash to the ground or shoved each other up against walls or straight to the ground. 


Sometimes animals get tired. That's why they get referred to as mates. Because the other animal they chose comes to revive them.


In any situation, it always gets down to this point. You could say you're still human but you're truly not. There's no room for modernity and other evolutions when you feel so deep and there's another person involved; whether it's Jeonghan been called up to operate a camera for live television even when he was half-drunk, or keeping an eye on Seungcheol and Lily because they decided to pull up on the side of the a road in the country and slow-dance in the middle of the road at ten 'o' clock at night with Coldplay playing on the car radio.


Just as I think of it now...now wonder Seungcheol wants to marry her.


“Kaito," Joshua said, his skin warming. “Back to the bed.”


Joshua's head tipped back on his neck, his mouth falling open as suddenly the contact of Kaito's mouth of his throat changed and suddenly it became ten times more sensual, the touch of it light and fleeting, sending electricity up and down Joshua's legs. The two of them didn't wait anymore.


Kaito’s hand did not let go of Joshua’s neck as they went back to the bed, Joshua laying down with Kaito on his knees over the top of him. Kaito's teeth slowly and deeply dug into Joshua's skin. Joshua's back arched at the pain and the feeling, gasping out and giving a feeble yell, holding tightly to where his hands had settled at the back of Kaito's head and on his hip. Every moment of it was pain to him, but there was something erotic about the way his body was trapped underneath Kaito's leaner and stronger one, securing him against the mattress as he moved. He gasped one more time when Kaito choked him harder and bit harder too as if he was a wolf in the Hotakadake mountains, killing it's hunt.


Kaito didn't stop as Joshua began to moan in pain and breathe shallowly from the pain and the bite itself. Ocasionally when he and Joshua talked about sex - always when there had been alcohol involved - Joshua made mention of a friend who used to love suffocation in sex; a plastic bag over his head as he was sucked off, or a bondage strap tied around his throat to the bed-head as he was fucked. Kaito thought this to be Jeonghan, and deep down, he was jealous. 


When Kaito finished creating the mark, he left go of Joshua's neck and moved up his body to kiss him on the mouth, suffocating out all whispers and gasps from the pain. Joshua didn't push Kaito away as suddenly he felt himself drowning in the aura that blanketed the both of him. Joshua's hands clung tighter onto Kaito's hip and his hair, pulling and it and surely in the process of leaving bruises of Kaito's hip. Joshua's back arched again helplessly as Kaito parted his legs with one of his own, and kissed the still painful bite, before nipping at his ear-lobe. Blood rush south in Joshua's body, tingling and bright.


 “Are you okay?” Kaito asked Joshua.


"Remember when we had sex for the first time?" Joshua said to him. "You were so nervous. I could barely get your clothes off and you were nearly covering yourself up. You've got no idea how beautiful you are, yet you thought you were revolting. Even where money was concerned, you didn't get why I would have sex with you."


Kaito stared down at him for a moment. "We never do this sentimental stuff." He said, running his hand along Joshua's thigh and the curve of his arse before without any warning they were in a bid to get each other's clothes off first. Joshua won the race, and pushed Kaito off the bed altogether; Kaito pulled Joshua down with them as they collided on the ground. Joshua gasped as his head smacked against the floor, but let the thought of it go as Kaito slipped two of his fingers inside him, Joshua already having been prepared a few hours ago. Kaito lifted one of Joshua's legs over his shoulder and angled his fingers to the side, beginning to finger Joshua roughly and quick.


"Fuck, Kaito." Joshua breathed heavily, his eyes closing, submitting entirely to Kaito's body. As Kaito fingered him roughly, making a over-stimulated mess of Joshua, Kaito pressed slow and wet kisses to Joshua's chest. "Kaito...Kaito...." Joshua breath, Kaito driving him wild. Joshua pulled at Kaito's hair everytime Kaito left another red mark on his chest which would blossom as a black and grey bruise tomorrow.


"Hm?" Kaito hummed as Joshua let out a whine when he took his fingers out of Joshua's arse.


"T-too much..." Joshua panted. Kaito gazed down into his eyes which were completely and erotically dilated. Kaito smirked against Joshua's jaw, licking at the sweat that dripped from Joshua’s skin. Kaito moved his nose against Joshua's cheek, kissing and biting the very tip of Joshua's ear. As he had moved, the look in Kaito’s eyes was one that had made Joshua want to push him down to the ground - the other way around - and fuck him as rough as Kaito had fingered him. But Kaito was on top, and he wouldn't be able, not if Kaito was in control. So, he let Kaito continuing biting his ear, his penis filling further with blood.


Joshua had both of his arms laid back on the bedroom floor above his head. With one hand, Joshua started kneeding at the hip of Kaito's he had been clenching. Kaito leaned back up, breathless and wild above his body. Kaito rutted against him, their cocks rubbing as Joshua gripped and released his skin, pleasuring Kaito with his rough fingertips. Kaito closed his eyes, absorbing the pain and the intensity and the feeling of he and Joshua's cock's slick with pre-come rubbing together, making their own friction. The noises Kaito made Joshua's’s stomach in turn flip. The warmth of Kieran’s body on top of his was too erotic for Joshua to focus on for too long. 


When he was done groping Kaito's hip, Joshua trailed his fingertips down Kaito's chest and stomach to rest on Kaito's cock. Kaito immediately slapped his hand away and leaned over Joshua, sliding their mouth's together again. Both of their mouths were burning hot, and Kaito licked his tongue across Joshua's lips. Joshua freely moaned at that feeling.
When Kaito moved away from him to adjust his position, Joshua had never felt so bare. He opened his eyes to watch Kaito, still above him and moving his own cock to Joshua’s opening. Joshua locked his ankles around Kaito's’s thighs, keeping him close as the tip of Kaito's cock pressed against him as it pushed inside him. The movement was slow and easy compared to their kissing and biting. 


The slow rhythm was quickly forgotten when Kaito filled him completely, his length familiar and comfortable to Joshua, the two of them having been together only hours earlier, and enough times now to know. They were messy and clumsy suddenly, Kaito slapping into Joshua. The sound resonated throughout the bedroom and the house, overwhelming any other sounds that Joshua might have been able to hear. They were not slow, they were not calm, and they were not restrained.


Kaito had returned to Joshua’s lips, biting and nipping, drawing blood that he licked up without a care. Joshua let him do it, loving the taste of sweet taste of his own blood on his tongue. He also loved the taste of Kaito on his tongue, the salt of his skin that came from sweat running over his skin. Joshua ran his tongue over Kaito’s neck when Kaito had bent his head to nip and lick at Joshua’s collarbone. Kaito shivered, and Joshua bit down on Kaito’s shoulder, sucking to mark him in return for the damage he had created earlier.


Kaito growled erotically, and Joshua could feel his body change as Kaito hunched his back to get better access to fuck into Joshua. Joshua locked his ankles tighter, craving Kaito’s length deep inside him. Joshua could feel Kaito, every inch of his cock filling him till the base, and Joshua craved it; the feeling of Kaito inside him was the only thing he ever wanted as they lay on the floor, the morning sunlight created a luminessence on the room and their naked bodies.


Kissing at the red mark he had left on Kaito’s shoulder, Joshua kissed up Kaito’s neck to the sensitive strip which sent Kaito wild. The true nature of Kaito's being shined through as he growled instead of moaning, biting harsh into Joshua’s chest. Joshua’s teeth found the lobe of Kaito’s ear and nipped at it, Kaito slapped into Joshua’s thighs, loud and sharp, the only thing Joshua wanted.


The noises Kaito made worked in making Joshua’s cock even harder, the friction from rubbing against Kaito’s hip not nearly enough as it leaked, leaving trails against Kaito’s dark olive skin. Their hot skin burned into each other, uncomfortable but as contagious as a fever. Joshua moaned into Kaito’s ear, feeling Kaito react as Kaito came closer to his body.


It was messy and hungry as they locked themselves together, fierce and wanting, lust the only thing they knew as they held onto each other, hands and fingers and teeth bruising the other. Joshua gripped at Kaito’s arse with one hand as his other fisted in Kaito’s hair, forcing his head up so they could lock lips again.


Hot breath ran into each other, Kaito unable to keep his head up, burying it in Joshua’s shoulder and kissing and sucking over and over, making Joshua as his own, making it impossible for him to belong to anyone else. He wanted these to be marks and scrapes and bruises that Jeonghan would see, and get vicious over. 


Joshua slapped his hand against Kaito's arse. Kaito’s growl ran through his body, biting down on Joshua’s skin and licking over the blood he had drawn. Joshua dug his fingernails into Kaito’s arse, Kaito continuing to fill him up.


Joshua could feel himself close, the orgasm ready to fill up his bones as he melted into the ground around him. His stomach clenched and released, Kaito’s relentless rhythm perfect to Joshua as they slapped into each other. The mewls and whimpers they both made were uncontrollable, and Joshua wondered if he truly was the only one who knew what Kaito sounded like in this moments.


Joshua could feel Kaito close as well, their mouths finding each other, Joshua having closed his eyes to feel everything completely without any restrictions. Kaito’s body had gotten tense, his grip on Joshua growing tighter and tighter, his slapping into Joshua even more desperate. They breathed hot air over each other, attempting to lock their lips but failing, their yearning to come too strong to attempt any form of composure.


"How much do I have to do to make you come?" Kieran gasped out, and Joshua actually laughed.


"I want you to come already and fill me up; have it drip out of me so you can do that thing where you lick it up and then kiss me, I can taste you on your own tongue in my mouth. I want you to lick my come off my stomach; my skin feels like it's on fire." Joshua told Kaito. At his words, Joshua knew Kaito was about to go as the angle of his penis penetrating Joshua changed to release as Joshua clenched around him.


Joshua came hot and wet and in heavy loads over his own stomach and in part on Kaito’s. Kaito’s hot body was close to his as they rubbed against each other. Joshua moaned Kaito’s name as the orgasm claimed him, his body clenching over Kaito’s cock that was throbbing and pulsing inside him. Joshua continued to pant our moaned gasp, completely gone to the rest of the world, as he came in thick loads, coating his olive skin in white.


Kaito continued to pump into Joshua’s opening, biting down onto Joshua’s shoulder as he could not keep himself up, humming and whimpering as Joshua’s hole tightened around him. Joshua’s climax filled his body, his hot blood going cool as he kissed along Kaito’s neck, encouraging Kaito’s seed out of his long cock to fill him until he leaked.
He did; Kaito filled Joshua with his entire load, his semen filling Joshua until Joshua could no longer hold him in. Kaito pulled his cock out of Joshua, thick, white seed leaking from his slit, continuing to pump out semen, Kaito whimpering and moaning as he stroked his cock, semen from the tip of his head still connected to Joshua until Kaito stroked it away. White loads covered his hand, leaking down his wrist as he continued to empty his cock, his orgasm running through his body.


Joshua sat himself up, pushing Kaito down onto the floor so he could take Kaito’s cock into his mouth. Kaito let him with ease, his hand going into Joshua’s hair. Joshua knew there would be semen in his black hair, but he didn't care. He licked over Kaito’s softening cock, swallowing any and all semen that came into his mouth, tasting the salt that he loved on his tongue, down his throat.


Kaito moaned again as Joshua took his cock into his mouth, sucking and cleaning him. He could feel Kaito’s come leaking from his hole in his new position, on all fours over Kaito's body on the floor.


Once Kaito was clean, his come swallowed down Joshua’s throat, Kaito pushed Joshua until he was lying on his back again, and he started licking up Joshua’s cock, licking him clean. There was still come leaking from Joshua’s opening, but he did not care; all he cared about was Kaito’s warm tongue pressing against his cock and his skin as he licked up his stomach, cleaning him after making him filthy. 


Done with cleaning his stomach and cock, Joshua expected Kaito to kiss him, but Kaito didn't, instead going down to his arse and licking up the come that had leaked down his thighs. Joshua moaned lightly, suddenly able to hear the sounds of the traffic outside of the city and birds in the trees outside again. 


Kaito cleaned up his thighs with his warm tongue, and then went to his opening, licking up any come that he could, cleaning Joshua again as Joshua’s breathing calmed. Kaito was loving in his touch now, and Joshua played with his masses of long hair, stroking strands with his fingers as Kaito finished.


Kaito crawled up to Joshua’s mouth and kissed him deeply. He had kept come in his mouth, and he transferred it to Joshua’s. Joshua tasted Kaito heavily, relishing in the strong taste of salt that he swallowed down his throat, taking anything he could get from Kaito. Joshua stroked his head gently, tucking the lengths of it behind his ear, caressing his cheek.


Kaito pulled away, wiping his mouth and licking his lips. His pupils calmed, love and wonder returning where lust had been before. He leaned down and kissed Joshua softly, his lips like feathers against Joshua’s, warm and delightful. Joshua craved that soft attention after all of the agony. Kaito's weight on Joshua’s body was comfortable and reassuring, and Joshua was happy with him staying there.


Kaito smiled gently, resting his forehead against Joshua. Joshua could feel his own heartbeat and what he thought might be Kaito's. He, too, smiled up at Kaito, his hand that was not in Kaito’s hair set gently on Kaito’s hip, tracing patterns into his skin. Joshua leaned up and kissed Kaito as tenderly as he knew how, breathing him in deep.


I thought at that moment that it could be the answer to eveything if I said to Kaito, "I think I'm in love with you". The truth is, because I'm young, I don't know.


I just don't know.

Chapter Text

Elvis Presley wrote a song that went, "Like a river flowers, surely to the sea, some things are just meant to be."


I thought I had that figured out when I first laid eyes of Yeong Analiza, known professionally as Camille. The reason why she had picked her professional name as Camille was because she had always adored the name. Her Father was South Korean, but her mother was half Chinese-Singaporean, half French. She hated her first name, but out of love for her parents had never changed her name, and never actually would go through the idea of it. So, all who knew and adored her for more than ten seconds happily called her "Camille". She once said to me that Analiza's sounded like dutiful, coldly righteous upholders of hierarchy and patriarchy within their internal cultures; jet black hair and mono-brows and black Victorian dresses greeting suffered guests at the top of a staircase, and acting like ghosts in Italian Catholic Monasteries. "Camille's" - on the other end - were skinny, flawless French girls (which she is, partially), they had a thing for cherries, apples, pears and raspberries, plus embroidered cotton dresses, amazing lingerie, and they were generally hookers (which she is).


To this day I still think she's so cool. She made a lasting impression on me, even though it never went anywhere. I should probably tell Seungcheol or Jeonghan about her. Not today. Maybe next week.


Actually, no way in hell am I telling them about Millie; sorry, Camille


Two Years Ago:


On the first Friday of every month Gerda took Joshua and the rest of the escorts on her books out to a restaurant or a café in a series of five escorts at a time to receive notes and commissions from. That was how it worked at least until she endorsed modernity and it's internet-banking. They were sitting at a large circular table in the windows, and Joshua had been the first to arrive. Within about two minutes, the young woman he came to know as Camille walked through the restaurant doors, and though she could have sat anywhere at the table, she plonked herself down into a chair right beside Joshua with a smile, swinging her handbag down onto the floor by their feet. She was wearing a satin shantung dress with an ankle length hem, high neck, and no sleeves. Joshua immediately absorbed a vision of her beautiful face and her beautiful body as Gerda introduced them and Camille quietly said, "Oh! You're the gay one."


"I'm not gay." Joshua replied quickly. "Just because I do it for money, doesn't mean I do it when there's not."


Gerda had actually laughed, leaning back with her thumb on the tip of her jaw-line and her index finger lined up and pressed to her chin. "Well, then, let's get down to work, shall we?"


Joshua didn't notice Camille keep glancing at him, but Gerda did; Joshua did notice Camille keep un-crossing and crossing her legs again, and he wondered if she had period cramps or she was busting for the loo. The girlfriend of Seungcheol's before Lily, Bae Jun-Eun, had done those things. According to Seungcheol, while she would wait for the pain killer's to kick, she would just be restless, arms wrapped around her stomach while she was vomiting into a bucket.


After the paperwork had been done, and the accounts drawn up, Joshua had left the restaurant going out through a back entrance that went onto a full-blown Edwardian style market; it was a narrow stone-paved street with shops hardly bigger than his sitting room with a half of his professional bedroom added on, all crammed and built wall-to-wall together each side of the old-wordly street. In the hall, he had seen Camilla with her handbag beside her on the ground leaning against the wall, breathless. Joshua had rushed up to her and had asked her if she was alright. Before she replied, seeming speechless, she lifted the hem of her skirt and put her hand up there, her skin came away damp.
"I'm wet just looking at you." Camille said to him, lifting her head up, her loose black hair flowing everywhere, her dress still up around her thighs. Joshua could see glistening damp on the inside of her thighs, the slick on the palm of her hand and the wet patch on her underwear. He realized Camille had actually came, and nothing in the world had happened.


"Sorry, this is the first time this has happened." Joshua attempted an excuse for his wide-eyed silence, barely thinking it through before it came out of his help. "Um - can I - can I help you? In anyway - like, somehow?" He stammered, lost for words.


"Do you...want to come back to my house?" Camille asked him, still sort of hunched over with her hair hanging towards the ground like curtains, the hem of her dress up on her legs.


I know it sounds stupid, but I couldn't just leave her there; I do a lot of things in my life but running off like an idiot isn't one of them.


Camille's house was only just up the road from the back market street. It was a tall, long and skinny rectangular ultra-modern home built in-between two other buildings, wall-to-wall; a three storey book-shop and a European-style tourist hotel.


"God, you're beautiful." Camille said, holding his neck in her hands as she kissed him. The kiss itself was knowing and firm and experienced, and all Joshua was aware of was the warmth of her skin and her perfume and the swishing sound of the fabric of her dress as she moved. "I've never seen anyone like you." As he hands sought out beneath the hem of his t-shirt, Joshua kissed her again, sliding his tongue into her mouth, his hands at the small of her back.


Any guy knows that having a girlfriend is complicated, but, then, it's not complicated at all. There's a delicate art of relationships, depending on the woman. In my Father's day, you had who you fancied, you messed around, you acted like an idiot, and if there were girls you didn't like you made it known that they just weren't your type. Now, in our time, there are the girls you fancy but know you've got no hope in hell of getting in, a consequence of bringing her home to your flat means she is moving in within a week, if you act like an idiot she's got the power to flip you single-handedly; block your phone number, block your account on social media and even be responsible for getting it shadow-banned or deleted. And, nowadays, there aren't girls you don't like. There are girls, and then there are your girls. It's almost like there's a greater acceptance and honesty, no matter what.


However, when it comes down to the crunch, I think it's great how most girls have the understanding that this is why guys just prefer to be dickheads with their mates and their pet dog, driving around in a ute doing their jobs and getting drunk on the weekend with crap pick-up lines that have never worked and never will work.


Joshua's hand searched her back for the zip for her dress, but Camille guided his hand down to her right side, where the zip began under her arm and went to her hip. She giggled as he unzipped it, the teeth making sound as the zip went over it. 


"That's a really nice dress." Joshua told her. Camille beamed.


"You're such a sweetheart, thanks so much." She said, leading him to her bedroom. Joshua was able to tell straight away it was her  professional bedroom, but maybe she slept in the bed she worked in as well; most escorts did. At that moment, her phone started ringing, and she swore.


"Sorry, sorry, sorry, it might be my Grandpa." She said, rushing down the hallway back into the adjoined kitchen and dining room. 


I didn't mind. Most guys might get a bit shitty in the girl racing to the need of her Grandfather over him, but, genuinely, I didn't mind. She looked over her shoulder at me apologetically, mouthing "sorry" again, before sitting at her table, pushing her hair back from her face.


Girls have criteria's for boyfriend material. To me, Camille was girlfriend material, completely. Tall, extremely pretty, and she gave up me to talk to her Grandfather. 


`Joshua went into her bedroom and laid down, waiting for her. She had wall-paper on the ceiling with a old-fashioned gasolier Victorian light. She had a double bed with a wooden bed-head, and classic Edwardian European furniture in the large space. The house had floating floorboards throughout it, and long gathered curtains that were a nice shade of silvery-grey hung from the two window on the left wall, each window have a day-seat built into it. It looked out over a garden filled with flowers and then a view of the city.


I thought she was perfect; I even entertained the thought that this might be the beginning of something. That's until she came back into the bedroom after finishing the phone-call twenty minutes later with her Grandfather


 Walking back into the bedroom, Camille slid her dress off her frame, and slid along the bed like a cat beside Joshua's body lying down there, keeping her eyes locked on his all of the time. She lay on the bed on her side in her black lace lingerie, gazing at him. "You've been with a woman before right?" She asked him, her black hair spreading across the pale green and white linen like a river.


"Yeah." Joshua replied.


"Can I wee on you?" She quipped.


You know how I said I'm not usually a dickhead to just run off? Scrap that. I don't think I've ever left a girl's house as quick as I did that time in my life. It's not as though I'm ignorant; getting urinated on in a bath-tub, the back garden or on the easy-to-clean-up tiles in the kitchen, laundry or bathroom is the number one thing in kink. Followed by excessive use of spit, anal sex done by men on women or done by women to men, and, last but not least, Japanese-style bondage.


The thing is though, there's the realism. It's alright to read and watch kink like that, but actually performing it or having it done to you...that's another thing entirely.
I wonder about it sometimes. Maybe if I hadn't been such an idiot and put up with it for a few minutes I might have had the best heterosexual sex in my life. If I had really felt that violated, maybe we could have stepped it up to where I would do more homosexual practices on her. Who knows? But, like I said, there's the reality where you think, and where you make choices.


I think you could have heard her front door from the other side of the city.


Joshua stopped typing his laptop for a moment and leant back against the pillows in his bed, thinking to himself.


The reason I'm writing this is because I'm wondering if I should give it another shot. Call her up, again, and see where we go. Seungcheol was right when he said I needed a new perspective. Kaito proved that point to me as well when we were animals on the bedroom floor. Maybe I really need to listen to them.


The first step in normality for a guy is getting a girlfriend, right? What could possibly go wrong?

Chapter Text

And, to clarify the other day, me and Jeonghan didn't have sex. That's partly the reason why it got to me so much. All of my clothes were gone, I revealed myself entirely - and I mean it. That was really the last possible thing. And, from that, nothing happened. He just looked at me, touched me a bit.


I want to hit him thinking about it.


"Hey, Shua, come see this!" Jeonghan called.


Joshua came into Seungcheol and Lily's apartment, just having got through the doorway. Jeonghan waved his phone in the air at him from the couch, and stuck it under Joshua's nose as soon as he was close enough.


"Look at young you were!" Jeonghan said, laughing. "You must have been about eleven there."


Joshua looked down a video that he had sent Jeonghan years ago. He and Jeonghan had been talking about stuff they had done when they were younger, and that video had been a personal one from America, filmed by one of his friends in their sitting room in Los Angeles. Joshua felt sick seeing a younger version of himself, probably weighing more then than he did right now, in jeans and a yellow shirt on the floor in a bean-bag, randomly doing pub-dancing and laughing, pushing his hair back from his face. The friend who had filmed that, they're relationship had endly horrifically. She had been in tears and sobbing her heart out and then had exploded into a rage that had simply made him say to her about never coming near him again. The camera was turned around, and it showed his Father with his black hair curling at his temples and the bottom of his scalp by his neck, laughing too but then shushing them because Joshua's mother had been in the back room, sleeping, and sick from a cancer that had been in her ovaries. The cancer hadn't killed her, but it had resulted in a surgery that had had her in an out of hospital frequently for three months.


But Jeonghan didn't know that. Yet, it didn't stop Joshua from saying to him, "What the hell are you showing me that for? I hate seeing those things." He looked coldly down at Jeonghan, who was taken aback. "I wished you'd never showed me that bloody thing, you dickhead, for fuck's sake, honestly."


In one swift move he got up from the couch and walked out of Seungcheol and Lily's apartment, not even having seen them.

 

--------------------------------

 

I love Jeonghan. I'm not having a go at him, and I'm not punishing him. But I'm sick of getting my heart bruised like that because of other people. I'm not weak; I don't lack armour when it needs to come out. But there are things I want forgotten, I want dead, I want never to have happened. And whenever someone brings it up from the dead, it really hurts. I should have never sent Jeonghan that video, even though it was years ago. I should have just deleted it


Joshua ignored his phone as it rang in the car. He turned it off altogether as he parked the car and walked down through the back market street only a few hundred meters to Camille's front door. He had never forgotten where it was. Joshua knocked on it, and as his sense came to him a moment later, it occurred to him she might be with a client or she actually might have someone. It had been two years, after all. A lot can change in a person's life in two years.


To his amazement, Camille answered the door in a baggy white t-shirt and a pair of olive coloured peasant trousers.


"Josh?" She said, blinking at him. "What are you doing here? Is - is something wrong with the photos for the website or something?"


"Sorry, are you busy right now?" Joshua replied. Camille shook her head, smiling prettily, tucking a length of hair behind her ear.


"No, I'm free. Do you need something?" Camille asked. Joshua unconsciously hesitated before he spoke.


"I was wondering if you would give me another chance?" He asked, tucking his hands into the pockets of his jeans. "It's been a fair while, but -"


"Come in." Camille held her hand out to him, holding onto the door with her other hand. Joshua put his hand in hers and walked inside, Camille closing the door behind them. She looked Josh in the face, only an inch shorter than him.


"I shouldn't have walked out like that, and not bothered to send you a text or anything." Joshua said. "I wasn't even that shocked. I wasn't revolted, either. I was just an idiot. We can do it this time, if you want. We can do anything you want."


"You actually want to be weed on?" Camille answered.


"Just not in my mouth or on my face." Joshua added. Camille's monolids looked like straight lines as she smiled, warm colour coming into her cheekbones.


"I still think you're absolutely gorgeous." She said, kissing Joshua on the mouth. For Joshua, it was slow, a languid press of lips because it's been too long since he had kissed a woman. Kissing a woman was different from kissing a man. Joshua often had this feeling in the back of his mind that radiated around him that whenever he kissed another man he felt like he was kissing himself; there was the same gravity, same un-said words behind it. But women were gentler, and they tasted different, and generally you had to clean down a little bit to accommodate for their smaller size. Joshua had to ease himself into this again. Joshua took his time latching onto Camille's bottom lip. Joshua's arms wrapped loosely around her shoulders, and Camille took to pulling him closer by his waist. When her breasts pressed up against his chest, Joshua got washed in the remembered feeling of those little, insignificant things that came from having a woman in your arms.


"You remember where my room is?" Camille giggled as Joshua put his lips on Camille's jaw, kissing her skin. "I waited so long to see if you'd come back last time." Camille whispered.


"I'm here now." Joshua whispered back, nuzzling against Camille's ear which elicited a tremble out of her, and had her hair falling around her face as they moved into the bedroom and onto the bed. 


Joshua ran his fingers through the lengths of Camille's hair at her back in-between the moments when she pulled off her own shirt and he did the same. Her hair in it's thickness and natural black colour reminded him of Kaito's, but since Joshua had last properly seen her, Camille had had lighter colour put in at the hair that came around her shoulders and towards her waist-a dark brown which grew to a bit of a chestnut colour. He thought it looked good on her. 


Camille stayed quiet, feeling the air between them that she had wondered about since she had first seen Joshua Hong that day in the restaurant with Gerda. She automatically had had her heart skip a a considerable number of beats, utterly destroying it's normal pattern, as she had spent time with him and had sat next to him. For a good seven months it had been fair to say she had had a massive crush on him, but, after that time it faded; all the while she had wanted to hack her own head off for immediately suggesting weeing on him. Just because it had been a fantasy of hers, doesn't mean something like that goes down well with everyone else. It took all of her effort to not just rip Joshua's clothes off and throw him into the bath or on the bed - whichever came first. But with Joshua been this gentle to her, she could do it too. 


His clothes shed, and his underwear soon after, Joshua was graced with the sight of Camille's dark red underwear falling effortlessly down from her skin. He couldn't help it as he let his eyes roam a bit, taking his time looking at every single detail of Camille. After being single for years and running out on her last time, he still couldn't believe Camille before him now was real, her body crafted like something out of fantasies, and when he looked up he caught Camille staring as well.


Joshua was ready for Camille to say something cheeky like, "This must be a new sight, after all the guys in and out of your house, babe.".


Instead, Camille smiled at him. She took him by his hands again and led him to the en-suit bathroom. The bathroom was a work of art; all black faux-marble tiles with a bath in the centre of the floor; there was no shower or toilet in here, but Joshua thought they might be behind another door he saw coming in. The bath was like a roman free-standing, a shrunken well which had steps going to it. They both got into the empty tub slowly, careful not to slip and have the most mortifying trip to the hospital A & E.  Camille straddled his hips, still smiling but now more shyly. Joshua couldn't stop looking at her, the down-lights in the bathroom's ceiling giving just the right depth of lighting on her naked skin, Camille's hair fluffed up and full of weightless volume. Joshua thought at that moment, maybe I'm really going to make it work this time. He hadn't felt like this for two years.


Joshua traced his curved hand down her neck and the line of her shoulder before cupping on of her breasts, rubbing his thumb across her nipple as the kissed again, their noses bumping together like teenagers and her hair ticking his neck and shoulders and chest pleasantly. His other hand went across her lower back, feeling the curve of her backside as her naked skin beneath rubbed against his own nudity.


Camille exhaled a soft chuckle mixed with a breath, her right temple leaning against Joshua's neck, her mouth by the crook of his shoulder as she started to wet his skin beneath. Joshua tipped his head back against the edge of the bath, his hand roaming over her skin and groping it as Camille rubbed herself up against him as the liquid poured from her body, wetting his abdomen and lower stomach, trickling down along his inner thighs. Camille gave that soft exhale - a mixed chuckle and breath again by Joshua's ear, one arm around his neck loosely and the other pressed up against his back between his skin and the tub edge.


"I don't mind." Joshua said into Camille's ear through her hair. "I really don't mind, actually." Suddenly, he and her were laughing at the absurdity of what she had just done to him. Camille reached to the left side of his shoulder and turned on the taps. Warm water instead of coming out of taps filled the floor around them fairly quickly with water, before she adjusted the tap again, and the water sunk and sunk into it had all vanished.


"What do you want to do to me?" She asked. "What do you like?"


In his mind flashed pictures and memories of the violent, animalistic sex he had with Kaito, Hyung-Woo's skills at oral sex, the first time Joshua came the hardest he had in his life from when Seong-Hun had fisted him, a occasion when he was twenty-one and had his hand down the front of Jeonghan's jeans, and last year on a trip to France with Min-ho where they had had spontaneous sex at dawn on the beach. "Just the ordinariry." Joshua said.


Camille giggled. "Really? Nothing else? Because, trust me, anything you want to do -" She stopped talking at Joshua murmured into his ear.


"Let's try it out for a bit, then." She answered, a few moments later. "I'll be your girlfriend, and you can be my boyfriend?" Camille said to him.

 

------------------------------------------

 

"Oy, Josh! What the hell happened with Jeonghan? You nearly made him cry!" Seungcheol's voice immeidately exploded into Joshua's ear when he picked up his phone the next morning.


"He didn't, did he?" Joshua replied mildly.


"No, he went absolutely fucking mental. What's wrong with you? You're been an arsehole!" Seungcheol continued to go ballistic.


"Why are you so angry?" Joshua said. Seungcheol scoffed on the other end.


"Jeonghan's my friend too!" Seungcheol responded. "And you were rude just walking out last night!"


"It's not an excuse, but he showed me a video from when Mum had a tumor in her ovaries and a old friend who I just hate now was filming; I just lost it because there was a part of the video where Dad was laughing at the friend filming the video and told us to quiet down because Mum was trying to sleep." Joshua said. "I hate thinking about that stuff. I had forgotten about it; to me it had never happened. Then, it did. I don't want to know about stuff and like - it's just that. Jeonghan and I had a thing the other day; say sorry to Lily for me. I know she was cooking that chicken."


"What do you mean you and Jeonghan had a "thing"?" Seungcheol said. He knew that Joshua's mother had had ovarian troubles at once stage, but Joshua had never talked about it.


Joshua stayed silent for a few moments, hoping the penny would drop of Seungcheol's behalf. The release didn't come. "Just think about it." Joshua said.


"Why can't you just say -" Seungcheol begun impatiently, before quieting.


"Oh, shit, Josh." Seungcheol breathed out a little while later. "Shit. Alright, yeah. Right. Good to know."


"It's not a big problem, you don't need to -" Joshua half said, but Seungcheol interjected.


"Yeah, actually, I do mate." Seungcheol said. "All of us are a team, and - fuck." Joshua heard him sigh heavily on the end. "All the drama; it's not good. It's really not fucking good."


"It's been a long time coming, Cheol." Joshua said. "You said I needed some perspective; I'm getting on to doing that, but me and Jeonghan needed to sort that out before it can really happen." Joshua rubbed his eyes. "But the reason why he's a bit weird at the moment is because we actually didn't. The sex. It didn't actually happen."


"Can the two of you just stop this?" Seungcheol asked. "Can it just get obliterated and us just be normal?"


"I'll call you back later, hyung." Joshua said, hanging up the call.


I try not to be an angry person. Because everytime I am I cause a huge problem. I think it was Tolstoy who said, "Every family has it's own special way of fucking things up."
Can you do the same with the next best thing to family?


Of course you can.

Chapter Text

"Hey." Joshua waved up at Camille from the foot-path as she stuck her head out through the front door. She had her hair in pigtails at the base of her neck that were tied into a single length of hair halfway down her back, and light gold and nude-coloured eyeshadow on her lids with thick long black lashes that Joshua knew were real and not synthetic fakes.


"Five minutes!" She called. "I'll brush my teeth."


"No worries."


"Want to come in?" She asked, sticking her thumb over her shoulder. "It's freezing - or are you one of those weirdo's who doesn't feel the cold?"


"I love the cold." Joshua grinned at Camille, and waited outside by her front door as he heard her footsteps jog up the stairs.


Jeonghan and Seungcheol think that because of how I look people always assume that I'm a ayego-boy. Honestly, I find that sickening. Aygeo as the most revolting invention after...I don't even know. I just hate aygeo. I've never had a client - thank God - who has asked me to do it. I always laugh when Seong-hun and Hyung-Woo comment about it been "freaky". It really is. You're asking a full grown man or man to behave retarded, a child. Not even children to aeygo. In America and England, it's the thing to be "sexy". In Korea, it's the thing to be "cute".


I can't stand it.


If anyone asked me to do aeygo, I'd sooner publicly have anal sex in a cinema rather than do a stupid impression that looks like a baby rabbit in a field or some crap.


Actually, anal sex in a cinema - that's pretty sexy. I should keep that in mind. Make an interesting Christmas present for Seong-hun....


You've got to think about her now though, a voice reminded Joshua in the back of his head as Camille came outside in a trench coat, dark brown leather boots, tight black jeans that showed off her thigh-gap, and a chunk knit grey jumper with a high-neck. Joshua noticed she had taken off the eye-shadow, had put on some light pink blusher, and was surreptiously sucking a tic-tac.


She's trying to impress me, Joshua realized to himself. It had been a really long time since he had had a girlfriend.


"What do you want to do?" He asked Camille.


"Fancy a coffee or something?" She asked. "Can you tell me what bubble tea is? A friend was ranting about it the other day and I thought it sounded weird."


Joshua laughed. "I think it's tea that has some kind of chemical in it that makes it froth."


Camille made a retching sound response. "I had this guy come last night; he spilt wine all over a really nice white dress of mine and I don't know if I'll be able to fix it."
"That's no good." Joshua said. 


"I tried that Vanish washing powder and it sort of worked." Camille continued, swinging her handbag back and forth as she walked down the street with Joshua.


"What do you mean?" He asked.


"It got the stain out of my dress but now it's turned the bucket I washed it in pink." Camille replied matter-of-factly, before giggling. "Typical, right?"


"Is it true you can sing?" Joshua asked her. She blushed a little bit, her eyes glowing, halting her pace.


"Uh - who told you that?" She said.


"A little bird." Joshua said. That quip was from two years ago. He had noticed Gerda making a comment about Camille getting a bit of a reputation downtown for her covers.
Camille laughed softly. "I don't sound like a Korean girl when I sing." She confessed, tucking some of her hair behind her ear. "I sound like a big tall skinny British bitch." She grinned, but there was something in her eyes that made Joshua understand that she was shy about it. "I got a band I sing for on Sundays." She added.


"Is it a Church gig?" Joshua asked. "Maybe I can get to know you a bit better." Camille wrinkled her nose.


"All good Christian girls go to hell because they haven't got souls." Camille opined. She spun around on her heels, smiling with a genuine kindness on her face. She wasn't trying to cause an argument. "That's why boys like you come running to heathens like me."

 

---------------------------------------

 

"Type in "Night Creates Release" on your phone." Camille said, waving the nail of her index finger over towards Joshua's lap, drinking some of her vanilla-flavoured milkshake through a straw. "That's me and my boys."


Joshua leant his head against his hand as the search came up with results for a Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Youtube and Spotify channels, pages and blogs.

"We've done just the one album; "Electrified Seasons"." Camille said. "It's not like I get recognised or anything. All my clients are older men; none of them would be on alternative music that gets played at the "Boom-boom-boom" festivals and that." Her mouth quirked up on one side. "I got a set of headphones in my bag if you want to listen?"


"You're signed to a company?" Joshua echoed as he read the information about "Night Creates Release" on the web search, putting the headphones over his ears that Camille gave him. On the band's Instagram they had over  two-hunded-thousand followers, and on their Twitter they had one hundred and ninety five thousand.


"Yeah." Camille traced a fingertip around them rim of her glass.


"Which song?" Joshua asked. Camille properly smiled.


"Midnight (Lose My Mind). Skip it to around the 1:03 mark." Camille suggsted. "Don't get too shocked by the MV."


Joshua tapped on the video, it been brought up in a Youtube tab. He skipped the MV threw to the time that Camille said. His eyes widened, a gasp been smothered by a short inhale of air threw his nose at the sight of Camille filmed by a camera in a semi-underground cave with a dark blue aura of light around her. She had on a leather corset and a leather floor-length skirt with a thigh slit that ran from the skirt's hem to her hip; apart from the leather skirt, she was naked. Her round breasts were perked with hardened nippes, and her hair fell in damp, messy tangles in curtains either side of her face. Her eyes looked like they were teary as she sung. Her voice made a aura that was devastating and calming sweep through Joshua's body; it was deep-throat and symphonic and he was transported to something he would associate in every part with Kaito and his Shaman family. The song's discography was slowed-down, and euphoric even though the instrumental itself was a mix of drum-beats, synthesis organ, and one-beat sound hand-claps.
"Dancing around the highs that are hell; dancing around huge lies as well, oh...even the mind-fucked boys, they don't inject and fall." Joshua's eyes slid closed to half-lids as the song came to it's chorus, the discography not changing, only swelling, perhaps a touch deeper, more euphorically profound even though it wasn't happy. "We live in infinities that you cannot even dream; not very alive but we sure know how to run things." Different angles and shots showed Camille as she moved as she sung utterly effortlessly, her arms moving slightly, carding her fingers through her hair and clenching at her hair as though she suffered and anxiety or a bad memory before her hands fell to touch her mouth and her cheekbones and her arms wrap around her ribs. "Living in the ruins of a palace within my dreams and you know that we're on each other's team."
"God." Joshua said as he took off the headphones. "That's amazing, Millie."


"Millie?" Camille repeated.


"If you don't mind." Joshua offered.


"Sure." Camille glowed. "Millie."


Dating is considerable easier when the girl in question is ten times more interesting than you. You don't have to worry about asking questions or thinking of random and dumb things to say because you can talk all about her. Right then, I wanted to talk all about Camille. I knew she might have thought I was purposely dodging information about myself; she asked a few things about what I do myself. The trouble is - and I don't think girl's realize it - that men get the same thing. Even if we really like that purpose, you get that really horrible and embarrassed feeling of the fact you've said too much about yourself; you've let the girl know you too well. It's no harm; you've just been a loud-mouth. There's a shame that guys get as much as girls. But what could I tell her? Really? A increasingly blurred lines relationship with one of my best friends, a increasingly agitated sense of relationship with my other best friend whose getting caught up in-between me and the first friend and is been side-lined all the time. I can't really say either about what I might talk about to Seungcheol or Jeonghan anyway; nothing about Kaito, Hyung-Woo, Min-ho or Seong-Hun. Nothing about my family. Once we get past my stuff, we get onto Jeonghan and Seungcheol's stories; the crazy fucker in Seungcheol's bar the other night, and then Jeonghan's job, which me and Seungcheol are both really interested in.


Men from a early age perfect the art of not giving a fuck.


Me, Jeonghan and Seungcheol are exempt from that ruling most of the time


"What do you usually do on dates?" Camille asked.


"It's been a really long time since I've been on one." Joshua confessed. "It's complicated with work." Camille nodded, understanding.


"If it makes any sense I didn't think it was really a good idea either to be having sex with men and then having sex with women." Joshua added. "Having that constant involvement...it messes your head up. The inside of anyone's head is weird enough without other stuff added." He grinned as Camille snorted a laugh on a mouthful of drink.


"You're so cool." Camille opined.


She said I was cool. Not cute, not pretty, not a spunk. Not cute like k-pop boys, small tight arses, coloured eye-shadows, flawless skin, underlying narcissm in the sexuality, bubble-tea, ulzzang aura. Not anything like that. Camille describes thing fully. In words that are like hers, she described me as cool; Brixton suburb, London, pouring rain in December, a couple under a blue umbrella on a footpath in denim jackets and high-top sneakers and cheap supermarket coca cola and lemonade. You're so cool.

Chapter Text

Joshua called Jeonghan's phone and instantly said as Jeonghan picked up, "I'm sorry for being a dick. All of this is getting stupid, and it's my fault."


"Do you have trouble looking at me?" Jeonghan said slowly. "When we see each other...is it just too much of a problem?"


"No. No, of course not." Joshua replied earnestly. He had just driven home from his date with Camille.


"If you want to come and hang around in my house, you can." Jeonghan said. Joshua heard the chatter of men in the background, and the high-pitched beeping sound of reversing machinery. "I'm only just down the street filming; I'll be home soon. We're on a break at the moment; bit of an accident happened."


"Are you okay?" Joshua checked quickly.


"I'll tell you soon." Jeonghan answered, before saying he had to go.

 

---------------------------------------------

 

Joshua sat down on Jeonghan's couch, waiting for him. On his phone, he listened to Camille's song, "Midnight (Lose My Mind)" on repeat, playing it over and over and over again. He never got tired of it's slowed-down symphony that appealed to his soul so much. In his mind flashed memories and thoughts he had tried to hide away; how lost he was when he had first kissed Camille compared to how experienced and knowing he was when he kissed Kaito, Hyung-Woo, Min-ho or Seong-Hun. Not a single person in the world had seen him kissing Hyung-Woo  in the lake-side forest on freshly mown grass before the banks of the lake while Ichko entertained herself, running in and out of the freezing cold water. Joshua let his eyelids slide close to half-lids as he thought about Kaito and his naked body on Jeonghan's, who hadn't stripped one bit of his clothing for him.
Joshua looked up, turning off his phone as he heard a key in the lock of the front door, and suddenly standing on the tiles in the hallway - not stepping onto the carpet in the sitting room - was Jeonghan, covered in dirt and mud, his skin, hair and his clothes. He was also soaking wet from the sleet falling outside.


 "The lighting crew, us camera-men, and the tradesmen on the site had to dig a trench to get the film crane out because the sleet started and bogged in the wheels." Jeonghan explained. "While we were doing that the presenter and the husband of the couple whose house-project we're filming went off down the street, asking all the neighbours if they had a four-wheel drive we could borrow for the site. Not only did the crane get bogged, but so did one of the cherry picker cranes. One of the tradesmen turned around and said, "Fuck me dead; with all the trees and that you can barely get a fucking Hyundai Getz down the road let alone a four-wheel drive." And, the thing is...I was at the top of the cherry picker with a Steadicam when the electrics fucked up. The head builder on sight said even if did start to rain or snow, the machine is resilient to it. No harm. We had a bit of Romeo and Juliet situation. The couple's daughter sang up - gorgeous thing, huge chest - "Jeonghan, oh, Jeonghan, catch this rope! Shimmy thou arse down it, and a group of middle-aged workers in high-vis jackets will catch you!"


Joshua couldn't help it as he started to laugh. Within a few minutes, he was barely breathing as he tipped onto his back on the couch, having hysterics.


"Glad you find it funny," Jeonghan remarked. "But right now I'm getting into the shower because I look like I have a job digging for shit in a pig sty."


"Don't pinch Lily's quotes!" Joshua gasped out, still laughing his head off. He eventually calmed down, and listened for the creak and the whooshing sounds of the pipes in Jeonghan's house as we worked the taps in the shower upstairs.

Every man gets tired of just throwing his hands up in the air. It's a thing in our gender; if there is something not quite right, we fix it. Or, we ask one of our girls - daughter, sister, wife, friend - is she has any idea about it. Girls don't realize it, but we get to know them just as well as they get to know us. They work us out down to a pin; know when we get up in the morning we have a piss then come out, make breakfast, put on the television, and then we pass our phones over to them when our mates call and she tells him/them to bugger off, they'll see me (the man) in half an hour when he gets to work, anyway. We try to get back into their good books with a cuddle, and sometimes we succeed. Other times, we're giving our marching orders, or, incredibly rarely, she genuinely doesn't care.


That's essentially marriage before the actual thing.


But men get the practice as well. We know that the weather-presenter with the silicone breasts on Channel 4 news of the morning gets on her nerves; therefore, we never watch Channel 4 of the morning. We also know that she hates most of our rap music, but doesn't mind if we play it because she knows that we've worked out to keep our headphones plugged in. That pleases her enormously. Therefore, us cunning bastards know that at any given time she might come up and randomly give us a kiss before she gets on the phone to her best friend for the next two hours in the bedroom upstairs.


We work out what you're going to say and start on about just like you do us (girl). What would Lily or Camille or my Mother say about all of this?
One. My Mother would be utterly lost for words, Two. Lily would tell me to gather my testicles together and tell me to go upstairs and jump Jeonghan in the shower, and Three. Camille...I've got to get to know her better. But I think she would put it to me like this: "What is it when you're with him? Friend or beyond? Friend been London in the rain, beyond been Moscow in the Autumn?"


Classic, romantic, empire London in Nature's heaven or a city bearing the scars of the Soviet-Era with it's colours forming, blooming and fading


Already the artist part of her is rubbing off on me. This might be more serious quicker than what I thought....

Joshua climbed the stairs to the second storey of Jeonghan's house, and pushed open the bathroom door to be met with a hazy, warm room of thick mist and condensation from the hot shower that Jeonghan was running. The glass was so fogged that Joshua could barely make out the out-line of Jeonghan's body.  "Shua?" Jeonghan said aloud. Joshua stayed silent for a minute, his head feeling as fogged up as the bathroom.


"Why can't you just be angry with me?" Joshua asked, unable to see Jeonghan's face through the fogged up glass. Why doesn't he put the fan on? Joshua thought. This is why paint peels in people's bathroom and mould grows.


"Why should I be angry with you?" Jeonghan whispered, barely visible of the sound of the rushing water.


"It would be easier if you were." Joshua exhaled, leaning his forehead against the fogged up glass. His eyes opened from the half-lids they had closed to as he saw one of Jeonghan's fingertips pressed to the fog glass - making a clear patch - where Joshua's mouth was on the other side of the glass, untouched.

"I'm the one with my clothes off...this time." Jeonghan said, barely loud enough for Joshua to hear. 


"Is it alright if I come in?" Joshua asked.


"Don't ask me stuff like that." Jeonghan replied. He opened the glass door for Joshua to come inside. Joshua didn't bother taking his clothes off before he went into the shower. The first things he saw and felt was the boiling temperature of the hot water on his skin, and how Jeonghan stood over to one side, arms wrapped in a hug to himself around his torso, dark brown eyes searching Joshua's face. His light blond hair fell wet either side of his face, the tips of it sticking the heat-flushed cheekbones; his mouth burned the same colour, and so did the backs of his hands. Joshua stepped to hit, hand curving light around the back of Jeonghan's neck and kissed him.


I only did it so it could be over. The tension, the...everything. We could look back on it and smirk a bit and laugh and say that our parents were right; when you're in your twenties you're no more mature or less dumb than you were at your mid-teens. The truth is, there's many parts of me that don't make me Jeonghan's type. That's why we're a team with Seungcheol; we're all mates. It doesn't work if we're together. If we were together there would be days when it was heaven, and days where it would be absolutely horrible, and he would do his best to get rid of me, and I would do my best to get rid of him. 


Jeonghan and I already know this because we've been there. Right then, though, we had to finish it off, because otherwise it would stay like this forever.


It fucks up Seungcheol, as well, something that neither of us realize but give much gravity too. It really fucks him up to see the two of us like this.


This is why we cancel things out, and get over them, even if the shower water is nearly burning my skin and the feel of Jeonghan's skin beneath my hands reminds me of both Camille and Kaito.

Chapter Text

I wouldn't usually be seen here dead during the day


Joshua looked around the inside of the church around him. He had come with Lily and Seungcheol to the christening of a colleague's child. Lily had sworn black and blue that she "would not step near that shithole architecture they call a church unless Josh comes with us", even though it was her friend and colleagues baby been christened. 


Whenever I turn up at one of these things I've always got a guy that sits next to me; he's got teeth so white his molars shine in his mouth like the lights in the underpass I drive under out of Seoul when I go up to the countryside to visit Hyung-Woo. Cheap suit. Shoes that are dirty soles. He's probably got a dirty soul as well. I once read an article - it came from a Feminist website of all things (I only clicked on it because some American idiot had written an article about gigolo's in Memphis and I was interested) - about infidelity with male Church-goers. Apparently, fewer men commit adultery and other sexual/romantic/predatory behaviours once they go to Church. Religious transformation you could say. Anyone who believes that for more than a second ought to have their head read. What the guys do, rather than bonk their secretary, they'll bonk the Vicar's daughter.


All priests as of late look dodgy. Maybe it's the whispers down their necks of paedophile priests been rounded up and locked away in prision with the key flushed down the toilet; I don't know. But all of them lately look like they're on the run from something.


Maybe it's just the opinion of people like Jeonghan; I don't even want to be near one of them.


The thing with me going into a Church, is that I'm not very holy. But, let's face it; none of us are very holy, are we? I'm not holy, Seungcheol's not holy, Lily's not holy, Jeonghan's not holy. I like Camille a lot, but she's definitely not holy. I suspect she's a bit into Kaito's Mum's deal, anyway (Shinto). That definitely excludes her from this Jewish stuff.


"As soon as this is over, we're gone." Lily whispered to Joshua as the Vicar read the vows for the baby in his arms and the baby's parents, grandparents, and god-parents. "I feel like I'm going to be sick. Look at that poor baby up there; can't even get away from the paedophilic letch."


"Beautiful christening gown." Joshua commented in reply. "Now shut up so I can hear the service."


"As soon as that baby gets wet, we're gone. Hunch over. You've got gastro." Lily remarked darkly.

 

----------------------------------------

 

"Are you cold?" Joshua asked Lily, Seungcheol trailing only two or three steps behind them, on his phone.


"Of course I bloody am, it's the middle of December." Lily retorted drily. "If that baby-thing had been anywhere else, it would be been bloody lovely." She added in a mild temper, hunching her shoulders and wrapping her arms around herself. 


"Hey, come here." Joshua said, shrugging off his thick wool coat that had been a birthday present from Min-ho last year.


"What's that for?" Lily looked at him.


"Since Cheol's on his phone and doesn't remember that girl's have internal thermostats." Joshua explained as Lily let him put the coat on her shoulders. She mumbled to him how it was a great coat.


"Sweet-talker." Lily scrunched her nose as her mouth quirked up in a smirk on one side.


"Gentleman Escort." Joshua corrected as they walked further down the street; overhead hung a line of lanterns, and he pushed one out of the way so it would set he and Lily on fire.


Seungcheol looked up from his phone as Lily burst out laughing, and began to walk arm-in-arm with Joshua, leaning her head against his shoulder.


"Want to do something a bit silly?" Joshua asked her, murmuring into her ear. Lily giggled.


"Like what?" She sighed, sounding a bit tired. Joshua figured the moment they all got into the car, she would be snoring in the passenger seat up the front. 


"Live-stream us behaving like idiots to Jeonghan?" Joshua suggested.


"It's nearly dark." Lily said; Seoul in December always went to dark early.


"Half four." Joshua responded.


"Want some music? My pick." Lily confirmed the idea, and pulled out her phone. Within a few seconds, Joshua recognised the beginning of the final chorus and the break of "Paris In the Rain" by Lauv playing, and, simultaneously, they were on camera, and it was connecting through to Jeonghan's phone; by coincidence, they must have caught him on a break.


Seungcheol stood back and watched, open-mouthed, as his girlfriend - possibly soon to be fiancée - and one of his best mates began to dance and sing in English to song he didn't know, beneath streets lined with shops and tourists and city locals, candle and gas-lit lanterns strung high and low in the airspace above them, illuminating Winter aura everywhere around them.


"Paris in the rain, Paris in the rain - oh!" At the break, Joshua head-banged, and Lily jumped up into the air, doing a circle in mid-air, before landing neatly back onto her feet and been swept into Joshua arm's, as the moved around once in a circle, holding each other's hands. "Girl, when I'm not with you all I do is miss you." As the harmonies played in the background, Joshua and Lily danced shamelessly in the middle of the street, Lily swinging her handbag around her head. "So come and set the mood right underneath the moonlight." Joshua came over and pulled a stunned Seungcheol into the chaos as he filmed, laughing his head off. "Days in Paris -" Lily getting into the camera's frame slunk to one side in the dance with Joshua. "Night's in Paris -" They slunk to the opposite side with the change of line.


"Paint you with my eyes closed -" Joshua and Lily lyp-synced to the words, both looking and pointing at Seungcheol. " - And I wonder where the time goes. Eh, isn't it obvious? isn't it obvious -"


Lily sung out a perfect higher-pitch symphony in a croon, making Seungcheol even more stumped as Joshua returned to functioning the live-stream to Jeonghan's phone.
"So come and set the mood right underneath the moonlight." Seungcheol saw the perfect line to Joshua's throat and how his adam's apple bobbed up and down in his throat as he sung and swallowed and grinned into the face of the phone where Seungcheol saw a couple of middle-aged men and Jeonghan watching, Jeonghan's phone on the other end of the live-stream held in the air.


"Anywhere with you feels right, anywhere with you feels like Paris in the rain; Paris in the rain. Walking down these empty streets, puddles underneath out feet." As the song came to an end, Joshua chattered to Jeonghan as Jeonghan and his colleagues exclaimed aloud of appreciation as Lily planted a kiss on Seungcheol's mouth, still wrapped in Joshua's coat.

 

--------------------------------------

 

"If we're going to do anything we might as well just fuck." Joshua reasoned to Jeonghan on the phone later that night about eleven 'o' clock.
"Around." Jeonghan added.


"Yeah." Joshua grinned to himself.


"I think Seungcheol would go mental if he knew you and Lily were messing around." Jeonghan commented. "Anything bad happen? The priest or whatever he is didn't nearly drown the baby did he? The god-parents get someone else pregnant in the pews?"


Joshua stared at the ceiling of his kitchen, his face scrunched up in appalled humor over what Jeonghan had said. "No. I've got something interesting happening on Wednesday night. Couple's work. I've already told Cheol, and I'm telling you so don't expect me to be around."


"What do you mean by "couple's work"?" Jeonghan asked. Joshua heard a thump in the background, followed by Jeonghan swearing. 


"I've just reversed into a fucking tree..." Jeonghan said. Joshua put down his phone as he burst into hysterical laughter, burying his hands into his hair, elbows on the kitchen islands polished stone surface. 


"Where are you? Do you need a tow truck?" Joshua recovered.


"No, I'm fine. Don't take the piss, but I drove out a bit to get some photographs of these really old trees that are by the lake that's completely frozen over -"


"Where are you?" 


"Cheonji."


"It's nearly midnight!" Joshua protested. "Are you in the actual forest?"


"You should see the stars." Jeonghan mumbled in return, sounding dreamy. A few seconds later Joshua's phone buzzed with a text, and it was a series of photographs that Jeonghan had taken on his professional camera, frame edited, and sent through dropbox. Joshua gazed intently down at the screen on his phone, Jeonghan silent on the other end. He hadn't hung up, and Joshua didn't know what was going on with him. The stars in the photograph were white and were arranged in kaleidoscope chaos, a series of perfect and imperfect lines and structures and embodiments of life across a pure black sky.


"You didn't tell me what couple's work is." Jeonghan suddenly said out of nowhere.


"Oh, yeah. Couple's work is when a couple books a prostitute who has a partner. Couple's work, couple's sex, foursome. Whatever term you like to use. I say couple's work over foursome because most of the time the employing couple are married, and want some fun."


"What did Cheol say about that?" Jeonghan asked. Joshua grimaced at the memory.


"Absolutely not!" Joshua waved his arm out as he and Seungcheol walked into the bar, Seungcheol's job as manager to open up the bar and arrange everything for the night. Lily had got a taxi home, leaving the car with Seungcheol for when he knocked off work after midnight. Joshua had arrived in his own car as well, which was parked just down the street from Seungcheol's bar. "Now way! Look, I can't even believe you suggested it - fuck off! No."


"Why not? You're short of a partner." Seungcheol put to him.


"No, I didn't mean you - I was just, you know, thinking aloud, telling you my problems." Joshua sat up on the serving counter of the bar, kicking off his shoes and tucking his legs up underneath him before Seungcheol could make a comment about Seoul's street-filth getting on his clean benches which someone had probably puked on the night before. 


"Well, now, it's not a problem." Seungcheol prodded his chest before gesturing Joshua to get off the bar and get his shoes back on as he said something about the waitressing staff turning up any minute and they were cows a lot of the time.


Joshua scoffed a mix of an impateint sight and a groan. "Cheol, this a job. Money is involved. It's not amateur gang-bang night."


"I know!" Seungcheol said. "And I know I can handle it. And I think you're forgetting to that I already know how to have sex."


"Yeah, but not professionally." Joshua responded, feeling tired.


"Professionally?" Seungcheol echoed, before making a noise like a raspberry, but he didn't stick his tongue out.


"What is it you actually think I do in my job?" Joshua put to Seungcheol.


"Joshua -"


"It's not young, fit, sexy ulzzang girls, Cheol." Joshua said. "Apart from Kaito, it's older and middle-aged men - most of the time portly and hairy - on heart medication. And don't say I'm been dumb because you have no idea."


"So show me. Come on, it makes perfect sense." Seungcheol appealed to Joshua. 


"Oh, Cheol..." Joshua shook his head.


"Look, I've accepted what you do. I sort of get it, I sort of don't, I worry about you as a mate and you know. Let me see for myself."


"It's not a good idea." Joshua rubbed the back of his neck. 


"Why not?" Seungcheol raised his eyebrows, refusing to back down.


"Because it's more involved than you think and the couple who I'm working for are in their late-thirties, heterosexual - man and a woman - and they want too smoking-hot gay guys with erections that look like the candles burning on the Easter Sunday Mass at the Vatican, which, incidentally, having been burning all through Lent and Easter Week!" Joshua said. "Two young hot gay guys just desperate for each other and then the married couple, doing it all together."


That shut Seungcheol up. He went across to the opposite side of behind the bar and pulled a coke out of the small fridge underneath the bench, screwing off the lid and giving it to Joshua. "This matters because it's my job, my reputation, that's the point. I don't work with just anyone. And, hyung, you don't want to do that. Didn't you hear what I just said? You...you don't realize." Joshua's head tipped to the side as he gazed at Seungcheol. "You're saying about it but you don't get that you'll be stark naked with me, having sex with me, having sex with the wife, having sex with the husband. It's not paperwork of evening organizing. It's sex."


With that, taking the coke with him, Joshua walked out of the bar.


"He thought it was a bit of joke." Joshua replied to Jeonghan. "He took it down fine."

Chapter Text

Most men or women who do couple's work have a regular partner. The rest of us just point and click, but not without caution


"What about him?" Camille said, sitting on Joshua's lap where they were at his kitchen table; he was scrolling through the website of another agency, looking at the male profiles. The man she had picked out was suave, long-faced, with thick black hair swept back from his face 30's style like Seungcheol.


"Chiseled, classy, I'm pretty sure he is as straight as high street." Joshua replied, making Camille giggle. She was wrapped up in patterned silk kimono and a nice set of white lace lingerie. "Not right for this job." Joshua clicked to the next one, and laughed.


"Oh, I love these ones!" Camille said aloud, clapping her hands together. "Amateurs with egos. They take a few snaps of themselves in the back garden, pay a fee to the agency, and think they're going to make seven grand per night!" She giggled more.


Why don't I ask Camille? For the first time in my career, I regret been a gay escort. Because the "gay" part is basically the whole thing. And, for this job, I need a professional


"Let's give him a go." Camille said to Joshua on the next man's profile that came up. "He looks like a 70's playboy with a 20's pencil moustache but people like that sort of Italian thing with the gold chains. Nice body on him."

 

--------------------------------------

 

"And, how long have you been in the business?" Joshua took down a note in his lodge-book, consulting the man that Camille had picked out from the other agency across the table in a restaurant.


"Three, four years." The man - older than Joshua, in his early thirties - replied aptly. He seemed well-natured enough. Confident, but decent-natured. 


"Enjoy your work?" Joshua smiled a little bit. 


"The sex is great." He chuckled a laugh.


"What do you think you bring to a client's experience?" Joshua asked.


"Twelve inches." The man replied, speaking of the size of his penis, running his tongue along his lower lip. 


Fuck, I hope he doesn't fancy me, Joshua thought to himself. He swallowed before speaking. "I'll get back to you." He said, shaking the man's hand as he recognized the signs and took his marching orders. Joshua leant back in the wooden seat at the table, and pulled out his phone to text Camille the second it rang, and it was her number.


"Baby, baby, baby, I've got someone - like, right now - whose good for an interview. He's skinny, used to do drugs, bit of a cunt but he's sort of nice. Want him or not?" She chirped happily and quickly on the other end of the line.


"What's his name?"


"Matty. Oh, warning." Camille added. "He's Welsh."


In hindsight, thank God I didn't say no


Joshua looked up as a guy - he guessed about twenty-eight - walked into the restaurant in a black leather jacket, black skinny ripped jeans, a black shirt, deep black hair that was curly and shaved all at the back, the hair at the top pulled back into a pony-tail that went down to his shoulders. He had deeply brown eyes framed by thick black lashes, not hint of stubble on a finely-boned face with a thick jaw-line and slightly cave-man shaped eyebrows and forehead that was a racial feature in Welshmen. He had a heavy adam's apple in a thin, fatless body, and a couple of bracelets on one wrist while on the other was a thick leather strap that was patterned and carved with designs. "Oi, are you Jisoo?" Matty called out in an accent Joshua was sure he had never heard before in his life. It was harsh, deep, rough and Northern sounding, but at the same time sort of musical. It was bizarre. Joshua waved his hand, and Matty came to sit at the table he gestured. He was so glad that Camille hadn't told Matty his real name.


"So you speak English, mate? Because my Korean's pretty shit." Matty said. straight-up.


"It's alright, I can speak English." Joshua said. Matty chuckled suddenly.


"American. Like that." Matty noted. "Uh, Millie said you needed a hand with a couple's work and I reckon I'm up for it."


"What...agency do you come from?" Joshua asked, slightly dumbfounded.


"I don't come from nothin', mate. Didn't Millie tell you? I'm her guitarist and keyboard player in the band." Matty said. "Come outside, I need a fag. You smoke?"


"Can you hold on a minute?" Joshua pulled out his phone and called Camille.


"Matty's arrived." Joshua said when she picked up. "Firstly, can you tell me -"


"I know, babe, I know." Camille said. "But, please, trust me. Trust me on this. He's the perfect guy."


Joshua said goodbye to Camille and hung up, taking a look at Matty who was leaning back in his seat and doing the exact same thing. "She just told me you were the perfect guy." Joshua said.


"Millie told you I'm the perfect guy and you think I'm a dead-set cunt." Matty responded, matter-of-factly.


"What do you think of me?" Joshua asked him. Matty considered his question for a moment.


"I think you're insecure, you're anxious, you're mistrustful, you're angry and you're unforgetting and on certain grounds unforgiving. You don't tolerate what you don't want to, and you give nothing to people unless you think they deserve it." Matty said. "But that's just you when you're fucked-up and complicated like the rest of us dropkicks are. Other times you're a bit of a gent; nice clothes, nice manners, nice view of the world. But you evidently break it up with a bit of random shit; any old fucking around. Hookers keep things separate their whole lives and they eventually do it to their personal lives as well; Millie does it, you do it. But I don't know you. That's the truth. I don't be here pretending I know you when I don't. You sure you don't want a fag?" Matty held up the box of cigarettes.

Chapter Text

Joshua didn't mind as Matty chuckled to himself, having a look in his wardrobe. "Work side and then the "you" side, eh?" he clucked his tongue. "Fuck, are they stockin's or what?"


This time, Joshua did laugh. He realized Matty had toned down his accent and had tried to sound more English in the restaurant. But, now, the rough-as-shag accent poured from him. It was still something completely alien to Joshua.


"Some guys like that." Joshua replied. It was a new feeling as well, or rather a remembered feeling, to be having a fluent English conversation with a person. It made a change from all of the Korean, day in, day out.


"That assessment earlier - did some of that come from Camille?" Joshua asked Matty as the Welshman sat down on his bed.


"Sit down, mate; don't flutter around in your own house. Chill; don't mean no harm. Not havin' a go at you." Matty replied, waving him over with a relaxed expression. He regarded Joshua. "Tell me one thing you're scared of?"


"You go first." Joshua replied. 


"I'm scared of getting put into rehab or a padded cell and being abused by nursing stuff because I'm a fuck-head on cocaine and methamphetamines again." Matty admitted, honestly. That blew Joshua away. He hadn't expected something so...raw. He had once asked a Englishman he had known briefly about what Welsh people were like - just out of curiosity. The Englishman had replied, "We've got a rhyme about Taffy's - the Welsh. Taffy is a liar, Taffy is a thief / Taffy is a heathen, Taffy is a prick / Taffy be the cunt who killed the Church of England priest."


"I'm scared of fucking even though I know I shouldn't be...I'm scared I'm going to lose everything one day and the only person to blame will be myself." Joshua replied slowly.
"Dyn tlawd. Sorry, mate, but can you hear a phone ringing?" Matty said, frowning slightly.


"Yeah, that'll be me." Joshua jogged downstairs quickly, to find it was a displeased sounding Gerda on the end of the line.


"The couple has canceled. Family Emergency they said. Probably chickened out. No refund." Gerda said clipped.


"Ok..." Joshua replied hesitantly. "What else is there?"


"I've just had a very interesting phone-call from Min-ho." Gerda replied. "He wants me to cancel you for the rest of the month because apparently he's taking you to Moscow."
Joshua's mouth fell open. This was the first time he had heard this. He realize he hadn't had not even a phone call from Min-ho in the last month. "Yeah." He managed.
"I want the commissions from that." Gerda got down to the crunch. Joshua scoffed.


"I'm not giving you a commission every-time I have sex." He replied.


"With the signed clients you do, no matter how much of a shine you've taken to them. 40% from the hourly rate, each hour, on the hour." Gerda told him.


"Get fucked, Gerda. Not happening." Joshua said.


"Do you still want to be employed at this agency?" Gerda inquired.


"You know something? A lot more people would be a lot more comfortable if they didn't have to deal with a Fraulein - whose Dad is a Neo-Nazi no less - getting at them first on the phone." Joshua remarked nastily.


Gerda slammed the phone down. Joshua knew the Nazi quip had gotten to her. He knew it wasn't kind, but he couldn't have given less a fuck right then. He went back upstairs to Matty, and told him that the couple had to pull out.


"I'll give you half the money." Joshua said. 


"Oh, nah, what for?" Matty rubbed the back of his neck. "I didn't do nothin'."


"You would have done." Joshua said to Matty, leading him downstairs. "Just take it, yeah? I feel bad, otherwise. Feel like I've ripped you off."


"Pretty decent of you, love." Matty chuckled as Joshua pulled out the ceramic jar he had hidden in his kitchen where he kept spare cash money, and counted out notes for Matty. "Bit fucking depressing, eh?"


Joshua suddenly yawned. "Sorry, I'm just tired for some reason." he commented sheepishly, blinking to try and wake himself up out of the aftermath of the yawn. He thought it was the underlying dulcet tones of Matty's voice; once he had gotten over the shock of Matty's rough voice, it was extremely attractive, and evidently had a thing for making him really, really relaxed.


"Have a rest. I'll fuck off and leave you to it." Matty folded the notes and put them in his jacket, before patting Joshua's shoulder and walking neatly out of Joshua's house.

Joshua gazed after Matty, even when he was out of sight. Joshua decided he wasn't going to tell Seungcheol or Jeonghan that the couple didn't come. 


It's a bit humilating, really. Even though it's just work, Matty's right. How depressing, really? 

Chapter Text

I didn't think about it when it happened, but now when I think about, I get it. 

 

---------------------------------------------------

 

11th Of December:

 

"So, Seong-Hun and Ha-Yoon are going up to her family's for Christmas, Hyung-Woo said he's got his own thing organized which just means he'll be alone, Min-ho is over in Europe with the kids...." Joshua muttered to himself as he packed a suitcase. Min-ho and neither Gerda had been fucking with him when the German-Korean woman had said about Min-ho taking him off to Moscow. Min-ho or Seong-Hun, Kaito and Hyung-Woo didn't realize that Joshua had a "favourites" thing, and that there was more than one on the list. As far as favourite's list went - in the context it was as well - it was almost indecently extensive. Joshua checked the time on his phone and saw that it was half an hour due until Min-ho was supposed to pick him up to take him to the airport.

"You know I've got to be back a day before Christmas eve, yeah?" Joshua had said to Min-ho. Min-ho gave a mock scouts honour as a response.

 

This why you don't have a personal life - friends, girlfriend, family - when you're a escort.

 

Everything gets fucked up. Camille understood, and considered it pretty lavish, but she wasn't impressed that I wasn't going to be back until the 23rd, and, then, not available on the 24th because it was Kaito's 18th birthday. Because it was his 18th, I probably would be up and walking until nearly four 'o' clock on Christmas day anyway. Then, I've got to fit in Seungcheol, Jeonghan, Lily and Camille. I don't want Camille to have to come around and join in our stuff, and, thank God, she doesn't want to either. She's big on keeping things separate as well. 

 

So, Moscow.

 

Min-ho isn't possessive or anything like that. But he gets to have my time, he goes about it in a way that trumps everyone else. I'm trying my best to convince myself not to get pissed off if he makes a comment about Seungcheol been a arsehole. Min-ho isn't paying me; it's a relationship thing for us. But as soon as it starts - any chaos - I'm on the first plane back to Korea.

 

--------------------------------------------

 

"We'll miss you!" Jeonghan said over the phone to Joshua as he sat in the passenger seat of Min-ho's car as they drove to Incheon airport. Joshua smiled to himself.

"I'll miss you too. It's only for a few days. I'll be back soon - in time for everything. Hey, hey - can you do me a favour and not drink some much vodka that you fall over?" Joshua asked.

"That was all of your fault. I asked the bar-man to give me what you were having and he served it to me in a pint glass."

"Oh, yeah, always blame the bar-man because you're hopeless with alcohol."

"Am not."

"You are. You actually forgot where you were and when Taeyeon came up to talk to you, you didn't remember he had tried growing a moustache so all night you talked to him like he was a stranger." Joshua laughed as Jeonghan made a groaning noise.

"You had to bring that up. Who are you with?"

"Min-ho. Want to say hi?"

"Uh, better not."

"Jeonghan, he's carting me off to Moscow for twelve days. Be nice." Joshua said. He held out the phone to Min-ho.

"Happy Christmas, Jeonghan." Min-ho said.

"You too!" Jeonghan called.

"Hey, I got to go. we're nearly at the air-port. Call you when we get to Moscow." Joshua said, grinning as he ended the call.

"You could have turned me down." Min-ho offered.

"You're taking me on a holiday to Russia and we're staying the richest place in the Soviet block. Why would I say no?" Joshua reached over and squeezed Min-ho's knee. "By the way, if I fall asleep on the plane again, God, don't lie to the flight attendants and say I'm your son."

"Most people think you are my son." Min-ho pointed out.

"It's a bit degrading for me." Joshua said. "You're ugly."

Min-ho lips went up in a tight smile as he got roasted and Joshua laughed to himself. "I'm kidding, I'm kidding, that was smart last time." He stroked Min-ho's cheek with the back of his fingertips.

 

-----------------------------------------

 

During the something hour flight, Min-ho skyped his children, ex-wife, and her boyfriend in France, and Joshua notice Alec raise his eyebrow a few times about his Dad taking his hired piece of flesh off to Russia. 


Alec's a really smart kid. Apparently he's a bit hopeless academic, but, otherwise, he's as sharp as a knife. Vicious, too. I assume Min-ho can fight, but Alec's unbelievable. He's got not idea how strong he is either. A few years ago I made a few comments - nasty - and he did too. I shouldn't have; it was completely in-inappropriate. But, he turned around and punched me in the face.


The next thing I knew I was just covered in blood. It looked more like he had stabbed me, rather than punched me.


If he was a girl, he would be the sort who would do his make-up in the car, order different drinks to his friends at the same bar, and snarl into someone's ear probably halfway through the evening, "You know, rumors have big teeth that'll bite you."


He knows what I am. He knows what I do. Depending on if Min-ho stays around for another couple of years, it's then getting through the process of the rest of his children working it out about "Joshy".


That terrifies me a little bit Min-ho loves his children. If they give enough opposition, that's him out of my life forever

 

"I've got a friend who has a house in Rublyovka; that's a really nice part of Moscow. Lots of trees, green space, oxygen to breathe." Min-ho told Joshua. "It's a very large house, two storey; all the outside is made from wood in a contemporary architecture design. Flat-roofed and slate; it's got three acres around it, then another five; all around the house is just plain grass with lots of Serbian natives; the birch trees, oaks, acorns, all of that sot of thing."


It sounds like Hyung-Woo's home, Joshua mused to himself as he smiled quietly, listening to Min-ho. I have to see him to. I don't want him by himself

 

"What's the first thing you want to do when we get there?" Joshua asked Min-ho.


"Get some decent food." Min-ho replied shortly. Joshua chuckled. The flight food did taste like shit. Food on aeroplanes was never meant to taste good, anyway. Clause of nature.


"Not sheep brains in potatoes or anything like that." Joshua said. "Normal food."


"What about Knish? Or Pelmeni? Pelmeni is like a dumpling; taste good."


"What's Knish?"


"It's either a baked or fried potatoe in pastry." Min-ho explained. 


"Knish and Pelmeni; sound good." Joshua rested back into his seat, chuckling for a few moments. "This is cool."


Min-ho looked like he had won the lottery. "Not much longer until the flights over. I hate these fucking things."

Chapter Text

Russians have a perfected art; psycheldic, viciously violent psychotic crowd uproar and crowd control. All of those things form one single line as through drawn with ink, which is then inducted into a race and a culture, therefore been the racical mentality and the cultural identity of this race.


That's how Min-ho candidly explained the behaviour of his friend's wife, who tried to stab me in the neck.


When we arrived in the Russian airport a few hours later, Min-ho unashamedly looped his arm through mine as we walked out through the huge glass and crystal entrance that was over four storeys high, and domed ceiling. His friend whose house we were staying in was picking us up when the plane landed. It was co-ordinated so Min-ho and I had the house while the friend and his wife went off for their annual trip to Monaco. The rush that I felt...I can't really describe it. Even though Min-ho wasn't been flamboyant and obviously, I was keen to keep up the "Father-and-son" image. I let go of his arm after a few minutes, and I think that pissed Min-ho off a bit. It's his theory that if you have enough money - especially on the Soviet block - you get out of anything.


I don't think like that. I think about been arrested for public indecency in a foreign country. I'm not a romantic, not in situations like these. I'm not a romantic where Russian law and Russian people enforcing it are concerned.


When we arrived at the house in Roblyovak...it was like driving through a Versailles creation but with the aura of Park Avenue in Beverly Hills. A single long, winding, curving road, the bichemond and it's road-lines paint flawless. There were houses that were mansions and palaces and homes fit to the Tzars that the Russian people killed. There were half-kilometer long driveways lined with thick trees, and landscapes that were flawless; lawns that did not have a single leave on them. Even though all of the trees except the pines were bare of their leaves and there was snow on the ground, they were beautiful. The snow and the cold and the wet had damped the bark of the trees black. Min-ho and his friend - a Russian man that was like a bear in his size with a thick black beard and cold eyes unless he was looking at I, Min-ho or his wife - talked in a mixture of Russian and English. I paid attention to their words when they were spoken in English, but, otherwise, I couldn't think at all. I was captivated by everything around me. Hardly anything felt real; actually real. Min-ho had taken me away before, and every-time it was a pure shock, but their was a normality in it by now when it came to our relationship.

"No-expense-spared" were some of the words mainly featured in our relationship.


Where Hyung-Woo's home was a traditional Korean Hanok, this home - or, rather, this mansion - was it's Anglo-Scandinavian contemporary cousin. Min-ho and his friend who I finally found out was called Rudolphus went out into the garden - which as Min-ho said was acres of beautifully mown grass, kept clean like a bowling green, with Serbian natives planted that soared high to the sky, above the rooftop of the mansion.


I don't really have words; I'm not a writer, really. I just have a interesting life. It's not colourless. It's not like Hyung-Woo's; and what a arsehole I am to say that.
Min-ho - and Ruldophus - and neglected to tell the lady of the house that Min-ho was bringing someone with him.


She crept up behind him, and wrapped her arm around my throat, before she shoved me to the ground, stamped on my wrists and both my kneecaps - indescribable agony, particularly because she was in high heels - and she had a huge double-serrated edge fishing knife pointed down at my face.


Russian women maybe be beautiful and immensely powerful, but they are completely psychotic. That doesn't just go for Rudolphus's wife either, or just the female gender; that goes for the whole Serbian/Slavic race.


I had met Min-ho's friends before; they were polished, intelligent, good-natured artists, film-makers, painters and writers who remembered the names of all of his children and asked his ex-wife about things like her knitting and sewing hobbies, and talked to her easily about German and French politics. Not a single punch-up. 
These ones un-nerved me. I told Min-ho that he had fucked-up, later on.


Joshua groaned softly as Min-ho lowered his naked body into the hot water of the huge circular-bath in Rudolphus's bathroom that reminded Joshua faintly of Camille's bathroom. But where Camilles bathroom was metal fittings - brass and copper and blends of the two - and she had veined tiles, Rudolphus's bathroom was genuine marble, with crystal taps and flecks of gold in the marble stone in the carved out bath-tub. The water was hot and warm; Joshua had come to be told by Min-ho that Rudolphus's wife was called Irina, and he might be able to tell - obviously - that she was quite fit.


"Are you kidding me? She could be in the KGB." Joshua murmured, half out of it due to a cocktail of drugs that Rudolphus had made him swallow - Joshua had seen him tip Vodka into it, along with crushed-up white powder Joshua hoped to hell was aspirin over methamphetamine or cocaine. Not that he thought Irina and Rudolphus were drugs dealers, but it didn't mean that they didn't have a stash somewhere in the house.


I'm a serious person; I have to be in my job. I'm not a clerk or a tradesman. I'm a hooker. It's not dodgy paperwork or lack of materials that are a problem. It's my body.
Something had to have happened. I knew something had to go wrong. The drink didn't fizz up thought, whatever the powder was Rudolphus put in the drink. I think if you put cocaine into liquid it fizzes up - right?


"What is this?" Joshua squinted at the water. It wasn't clear, and it wasn't soapy, it didn't have that thick white colour. It was the colour of a rose wine. Like a diluted...Joshua thought the colour was like if a girl bled due to her period in the water. That pink hue. That information in part had come from Seungcheol. Seungcheol had rang Joshua - for some reason - in a panic. 


"Do girls spend hours vomiting when they're on their monthly?" He had blurted when Joshua picked up the phone. "Lily climbed out the bath and the water was practically fucking red and she's throwing up in a bucket wrapped in a towel and it looks like she's been stabbed!"


Across the surface of the water floated dark red rose petals, stems of Slavic-Pine cuttings, Ivy and even bracken stems, or so Joshua thought.


"Irina's a spiritual sort of lady." Min-ho replied soothingly, running his hand gently over Joshua's chest which was bruised from his fall. His wrists were swollen, and ugly shades of mustard and navy. Rudolphus thought he might have greenstick fractures; the greenstick was a long, thin bone beneath the main tendons and arteries of the wrist, and could be left alone, but, if a bone is broken, a bone is broken. 


"The boy's not a child anymore, he does not grow. When you're young you're bones are sticky. A child can be left with a fractured greenstick because it can heal itself. With an adult it doesn't." Rudolphus had explained to Min-ho - coincidentally - about seven years ago when Alec had broken the greenstick in his right wrist by falling off the monkey-bars in the playground at Primary School.


"A lot of folk-lore and old ways - Pagan rituals - exist in the culture. A lot of people go with it." Min-ho said more.


"Is this...a ritual then?" Joshua said, his skin turning a bit pink in the hot water. He almost looked like he was sweating a bit from the water's temperature; his mouth, neck and lips were flushed, his eyes bright. If it hadn't been for the disastrous circumstances, Min-ho would have climbed into the bath too and pulled Joshua's wet body to straddle his lap.


"It's Irina's belief that if she doesn't help to heal you bad spirits will haunt her." Min-ho kissed Joshua's temple softly. The younger man - practically a boy compared to his old age - relaxed at the touch of skin.


"I didn't think I brought any bad spirits. I think the customs officers back in Seoul would have picked them up." Joshua tried to chuckle a laugh, but it didn't really come out. It sounded more like a heavier, stuttered exhale. "Why's the water...the water looks like it has got blood in it."


Part of the ritual was for Irina to slash the skin of the palm of her right hand and let it bleed into the water. But Min-ho wasn't going to tell Joshua that. "In the Slavic folklores they have a connection in their mythologies between flowers and healing. It's a mixture of oils and flowers in there; Roses, particularly, because it's the winter now. Slavic Pine in there too...Ivy moon." Min-ho tried to remember as Rudolphus had given Joshua a calico handkerchief to wipe the blood from his face and all panic had broke loose as Joshua cried out something was wrong with his arms, and even more hell came to the world as he yelled out in pain as Min-ho and Rudolphus tried to stand him up, and he collapsed back to the ground, thumping his head on the hard wood floor. From the moment he couldn't clean his face, Irina had tucked the knife down the front of her blouse into her bra and had rushed into the little private garden she cared for in the attached Greenhouse to the many structure of the mansion. 


Rudolphus had carried Joshua up the stairs, but as Joshua had sworn blue - emotionally aggravated - about leaving Korea and coming to Russia. Rudolphus had transferred Joshua to Min-ho's sturdy arms, before leaving the second storey of the manchion altogether as Min-ho tried to calm Joshua down, laying him and himself down on Ruldophus and Irina's marriage bed as Irina silently begun her water ritual in the bahtroom. In a mixture of pain, discomfort, aggravtion, and fear, Joshua hadn't noticed the woman at all, even as she left ten minutes later and Min-ho helped Joshua to get his clothes off. Joshua had just thought it was typical of the Russians to have a hot bath on their home-cure's list. He didn't realize the reasoning behind it was this extensive.


"That sounds like a perfume." Joshua mumbled. 


"Try to relax." Min-ho said. "The water will do you good."


Suddenly, Joshua's chest ached for Seungcheol and Jeonghan's voices, Lily's dark humor and appalling but loveable conduct of general life, Kaito's sensuality and the presence of his skin entangled with Joshua's own in the water, and, most of all, Joshua craved Hyung-Woo. He missed him so powerfully that the ache in his chest was more profound than the dull thuds of pain in his wrists and knees that came with every second or third heartbeat.


"You've really fucked up, Min-ho." Joshua said. "Why did you bring to a country...like this?"


I'm a hypocrite, but, then, so is everybody else. It freaked me out that Irina had done this ritualistic water ceremony for me when only minutes before she had seemingly wanted to kill me, and would have done so effortlessly. If Kaito had done something like this - this folklore, this paganism - I would have been under a spell. Just mesmerised.


Min-ho stayed quiet for a long time. "It was going to be perfect." He finally said.


"When I can walk again...I want to go home." Joshua said. A look with about five different emotions blended crudely together crossed Min-ho's face.


"No, Josh, don't say that. Give it time - give it a few days. Please?" Min-ho willed of him.


"I don't even like Russia." Joshua said, breathing in and out deeply; the water was making him feel terrible. It was so hot that it was making him sweat, and it difficult to breathe. "And you know I think communism is bullshit." He scoffed a derogative laugh. "I could be at home right now with all my family and yet...I'm just here with you and it's fucked up and crazy."


"Give it a chance." Min-ho's arm sunk into the hot water until it lapped at his elbow, running his hand up and down Joshua's thigh slowly, trying to get him to see sense. Even though Joshua was now soaking in Irina's apology, Min-ho was indescribably angry with her. Why did she have to act like that? Joshua wasn't a wild animal prowling the indoors, or a armed robber. "Stay with me."


"You know something, Min-ho?" Joshua said. "I really wanted to be able to suck you off tonight, but I don't think I'll be able to get on my knees." The tiniest possible smile pulled at the corner of his mouth.


"Three days, Min-ho." Joshua granted him. "Three days only."

 

-------------------------------------

 

"Tell me, tell me, tell me that I'm your man."


"Fuck." Joshua looked up to the ceiling, where via the Google play system the exceptionally deep voice of a Irishman singer was echoing throughout the house. "His voice is amazing." He turned his head to Min-ho as a Doctor came to Rudolphus and Irina's house to see him. No matter what had happened the day before, Rudolphus and  Irina had left for their annual holiday to Min-ho, and had told Min-ho to put any medical expenses through Joshua on their Medicare and medical insurance accounts, or, if needed to, just modestly bribe the Doctor.


"It appears that you have swelling from aggravated tissue above your patella on the right leg, while on the left leg your patella has moved entirely, but has slid itself back into place when you have tried to move." The Doctor informed Joshua in English. He was a tall, under-weight looking man with a huge nose, thick short hair and a baby-fluff like moustache. "However, your arms I am more worried about. They suffered a great trauma but thankfully are not broken. I am a bit worried because your wrists - both of them - should have bruises now purple and black. At their most dark colours, that means that red blood cells are coming to the tissues and muscles and are healing the stress. Your skin should have reached that by now over the course of the night."


"They're not as painful anymore; they still look inflamed, but the pain has lessened a lot. If you press they are tender, but I can move them where I couldn't last night." Joshua said to the Doctor, who nodded, thinking to himself.


"The best thing you can do for your arms is gentle movement, hot water, and ice-pack routines." He advised. "I want you on a pair of crutches if you going to walk. Left leg to heaven, right leg to hell. Put your left leg first as you walk or go upstairs."


Within a few minutes, he was gone.


"Oh, shit." Min-ho rubbed his face with his hands. "Everything's really ruined."


All of a sudden, Joshua found himself feeling like he was underwater. He just wanted to think and remember things so he wouldn't be in the huge house of a strange couple he didn't know in Russia with a bruised and damaged body. He wanted to put on his headphones and listen to Camille and her band's music, even though he was supposed to be spending time with Min-ho and fucking him.


I wish I could just get my things and let go, Joshua thought to himself. Even if I wake up in a different bedroom and all of my sins are watching me. I just wish I could let everything go


It frightened me; all of it. Irina frightened me. Russia made me uneasy enough. It's not a vibrant place, a happy place. It's almost sneering and dulcet, sickeningly dominating in how it looms. The people aren't happy; they don't laugh or smile or play songs by American singers and fool about in the streets after christenings.


You'd never realize the cold war was over, if not for the coco cola adverts and the clothes and the Versace and Prada sunglasses.

Chapter Text

"People are looking." Joshua chuckled slightly, commenting quietly to Min-ho as he hopped on crutches on the stone pavement outside the Zachatyevsky Monastery, the oldest Russian Orthodox nunnery in Moscow. From where it was situated on the northern bank of the Moskva River in the Khamovniki district of Moscow, Joshua could smell the silt of the river and the smell of the cars fumes. There wasn't much in the way of garden and other green life planted into the ground. Min-ho had said in personal opinion that Khamovniki was one of Moscow's prettier parts, and Joshua agreed, looking in awe up at the architecture as Min-ho took photographs on Joshua's I-phone with a skill and grace that Joshua could never muster up, even if he wasn't semi-disabled at the current time. "The convent was closed by the Bolsheviks in 1918 and did not reopen until 1995. Let them look, all the Moscow natives." Min-ho told him, putting a hand over his eyes to block the glare of the winter sunshine coming down in the manner of heaven's rays. Despite the cold sun, the snow was thick on the ground, and Joshua was careful with each hop of the crutches in case they would slip on the invisible black ice on the stone beneath them, and the holiday would get even worse. It was nearly towards the end of the afternoon, about four 'o' clock. The sun was in it's processes of beginning to set.


"Even though you're on crutches, I know a really good place this evening that will change your whole opinion of Russia." Min-ho suggested to Joshua, slipping the younger man's phone in the pocket in the lining of his own coat. Joshua was battered up enough, but the last they needed was for him to slip and ruin his phone in the process.


"Is it because they don't act like nutter Russians?" Joshua inquired conversationally.


Min-ho laughed. "That's a bit racist."

"That's a bit fair." Joshua raised an eyebrow. "Whenever it opens - let's not go straight in. It's not really cool; it looks a bit pathetic."


"You're on crutches; that's pathetic." Min-ho replied, but he realized the sting he had responded in fact came back to bite him on the arse. He felt a bit shameful as suddenly Joshua glowed.


"What's the place called?" He scoffed as Min-ho replied in unintelligible Russian dialect. "What's that in Korean? Or English?" Joshua elaborated.


"I want to show you something. Come on." Min-ho walked in pace beside Joshua as they went inside the Zachatyevsky Monastery. 


"Jesus Christ." Joshua gasped quietly as they walked through a moderate-height curved arched ceiling for about a hundred meters, the stone floor beneath them cold, before walking into a domed-ceiling room with the square-footage of Ruldolphus and Irina's house, and over nine storeys tall in dusty and incense-perfumed oxygen between the floor and the domed ceilings above, painted with pictures of Christ and the disciples form the Bible. Across from them, other tourists stood behind a velvet rope while across the marble floor and polished stone tiles arranged into kaleidoscope artworks of black, red and white, were Moscow worshippers seated in pews, each pew hand-carved and individually longer than a bus. Three priests stood on a raised section of marble platform shaped in a half moon, a altar built into the space. Winter sunshine sparkled into twenty-eight foot tall windows made from glass and paper thin crystal, priceless if broken. One was rotund and old with a long beard that was as white as the interior of the Church; it went down to his belly button and he wore embroidered, godly robes of gold and red, shining luminescent in the light and the candles burning fire bright. Joshua identified that part of the garb as the outer cassock to the white fabric inner cassock beneath. Two others stood behind dress in robes equally as brilliant. Min-ho whispered that their garb was called Ryasa, and the masterpiece clergy-mans hat the fore-front priests wore was a Skufia. The fore-front priest talked in deep, rumbling Russian that reverberated the Lord's prayer into every corner of the Cathedral and Monastery beyond. The other two clergymen behind him swung centuries-old incense vases billowing scented smoke, their thin and pale lips moving in whispered sync to their Master on Earth before them, and the Master of the Heaven's above everywhere else.
"Russia used to have a lot of money before the Tzars and Communism clean it out." Min-ho remarked with a certain tenderness to his voice. "No Masters or Kings when the ritual begins."

I knew that somewhere I must have been born sick as I watched the ritual be practiced out. Even though I just watched amongst others as a spectator, I realized that was it. I was a spectator. There was a bizarre feeling somewhere along the line; I felt like all of us tourists were Roman civilians sitting in the stone seats of the Colosseum, watching a gladiator or a slave below have the hunt and the fight of their lives for their lives with a wild animal or another human being that the Romans in power had signed off as worthless. But I also felt something else. You could say reading this that I am queer, I am a deviant; I lead a alternative lifestyle that has it's awfulness and has it's bizarre pleasure that I adopt as the normal. If I was really a antichrist, a Shinto, a freak, a faggot, a queer - anything you want - on the good times, the good days, then I regarded that as my lover.

 

I looked at the Priests, offering the people knelt and sat before them the sacrifice, the deathless depth of infinity and God. The people were attracted to it and in love with it as though they were starving and they were hollow and they were hollow.

 

The people in the pews were the ritual as well. I understood how they felt. Before those robed men, before their painted God and their disciples, only then were they human. Only then were they clean

 

-----------------------------------

 

Joshua felt something inside him as shaken. He and Min-ho, unlike many other of the tourists, had stayed for the entirety of the service - the ritual - almost like worshippers themselves. When they had left, Joshua thought if anyone had tried to speak to him he would actually find that he had lost the ability too, just temporarily. It was as though it had drowned in him, as the crutches made a continual, rhythmic click-click-click on the stone floor beneath them as they left the Zachatyevsky Monastery. Worshippers gave him space because of his crutches, but it as though he and Min-ho were swept under in a river current of black and red and white and Sunday-Best clothes as they left intermingled with the worshippers. They got into the black Toyota Rav-4 that had been in Irina and Ruldolphus's garage, ready for Min-ho to drive around in along Moscow streets. Joshua leant his head back against the head-rest of the passenger seat in the front, closing his eyes but not falling asleep as Min-ho drove.


"Have you ever heard of Gogolevsky?" Min-ho intent voice asked Joshua, interrupting the fog behind his ears and in his head.


"I don't really know Russian writers except Tolstoy." Joshua said, opening his eyes blearily as though he had slept, and slept for a long time.


"I mean Gogolevsky Boulevard. It's near the Arbat District, named after the writer Nikolai Gogol." Min-ho explained. Within a few minutes, Min-ho had parked the car and as they climbed out, small, tiny, and solid white snowflakes began to fall from the sky.


Rain pours down. Snow flows gently in the gravity to the ground. It's sort of weird but it's cool


Joshua walked with Min-ho to the beginning of the boulevard at Kropotkin Square next to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, when it was also the beginning of the Boulevard ring. He and Min-ho talked quietly about few things and really nothing at all.


I wanted to be able to kiss him. But you don't do things like that in Moscow, especially when you're not behind closed door and closed curtains

The avenue was lined with twelve foot high young Acorn trees, bare of leaves and their nuts hidden beneath snow and rotting foliage on the ground below. Joshua was testing the weight on his left leg, and found that as long as he tread carefully he could walk with one crutch only. His wrists twinged in deep throbs every now and then, but there was nothing he or Min-ho could do about it. Joshua felt a hotter sensation curl in his chest that he thought for a moment might make his exhaled breath to the freezing air even more thick and white as Min-ho put his arm through his. Suddenly, tiny things like that mattered the world to Joshua. He didn't know what was wrong with him. He blamed it on Russia and how funny-looking they all were but how they made things controlled and living. Joshua saw Mother's in thick coats with fur hats and knitted scarves and gloves hand-in-hand with small children, and young couples out together in converse sneakers and ripped skinny jeans. Joshua quietly admired the long straightness of their Serbian noses and the curious pout of their mouths they all the Russians he saw had, no matter the size of their lips or their moods; if they weren't smiling, they were pouting. The sense of everything around him was sweet, and it pooled at the bottom of his spine, coursing like a river down the bone from the bottom of his skull. It didn't matter to Joshua that it was now nighttime, and all of Moscow was now blazing bright, electric lights like bonfires, exploding the city as though molten liquid metal or contained fireworks within glass soared and flourished. A new recognition took place as he realized that the mothers were taking their children home, and the couples were going back to the warmth of their cars or their bedrooms or the night-clubs.

"I'm freezing." Joshua remarked conversationally to Min-ho, who suddenly laughed. Frosted air shot from his mouth as though he was a smoking addict, and he had not just smoked five or six cigarettes, but, rather, a whole packet.


"Good, I am too." Min-ho replied. His arm slipped out of Joshua's, but his hand came to hold the younger mans. For the first time since arriving in Russia, Joshua kissed Min-ho on the mouth, and, for a reason he couldn't fathom, he felt even colder despite the closeness of Min-ho body, and the way he wrapped Joshua into his coat.

 

---------------------------------

 

Joshua was aching for the sound of Camille's deep croon as she sung, but he couldn't just put his headphones in an listen to it. But, for a reason that doesn't quite make sense, he's alright with the separation from Lily, Seungcheol and Jeonghan because he's with Min-ho. They were in a club that was a Chinese-Russian affair opened in 1912 and closed from 1942 through to 2008, because the owners who had been mixed-race and their Russian and Chinese staff had been divided up between Communist China and Russia. The Chinese and the Russian had been on the hunt for those who had helped the Japanese; the Russians would give anyone suitable happily to the Chinese to slaughter, and slaughter they had. Despite been half Russian, the owners had been executed in a section of Tiananmen square along with Chinese nationals from Harbin and Shanghai accused of aiding Japan in the war.


The sickening history of the club's parents were a universe away from what the club conducted, what the club was made for, and what the club did.


Joshua was pleasantly drunk on alcohol that was British rather than fermented and Russian and flavoured; the club was rich and decorated and it was full of beautiful Russian people - couples dancing, eating, singing, having fun - even if the girls looked like they were on the infamous coffee-and-apples diet twenty-four-seven and they looked like Botox had been put into their lips and into their cheekbones to make their eyes look higher and slanted above blushing skin. The styling of the room was Edwardian; chandeliers made from crystals where they once would have sported diamonds before the Russian Revolution hung from the ceiling; the club wasn't closed off walls; there were huge dome-topped windows with window-seats upholstered with velevet and damask-fabric curtains in light olive shades with a stencil embroidery design on them. The floor was a seamless and un-grouted white tile with raised steps for a jazz band, with tables situated in the manner of a restaurant around the edge of the dance floor; a bar was situated at the far south of the room and to one side of the ball-room amongst the tables a African man in a white suit played slow jazz music on a piano which was backed up by the band's trumpets and drums.


The class it oozed was indescribable, and Joshua knew the entry fee would have been a small fortune. Joshua watched from the bar area of the ballroom in a half-moon velvet upholstered booth that he could tell had been used to update the space from wooden seats in the late twenties or the early thirties before the second world war took place. A tall, gaunt-faced man with monolids, buzzcut hair and dark tan skin that Joshua thought had to be Mongol. His linen suit hung off him, and Joshua couldn't tell if it was because he was poor, he didn't believe in spending money on suits, or it was a new fashion; a new aesthetic. That sensuality in austerity. Inside the club was a wealth beyond means of a single person while all the while, there were people living in damp shoebox apartments from the late sixties and seventies, un-clean and starving in stained clothes and jobs that don't pay the money that any human being needs to get by comfortably.


"My lover's got humor; she's the giggle at a funeral." The man sung in a tone so rich and deep and graveled that Joshua couldn't believe that it was real and that it was human. "Knows everybody's disapproval. I should've worshipped her sooner. If the heavens ever did speak she's the last true mouthpiece. Every Sunday's getting more bleak, a fresh poison each week." Piano played softly, simple strikes of the keys followed by a cooing vocalization in the background to feel up white noise before the strums like heartbeats dead of a bass guitar, and a drum. Tears sparkled in Joshua's eyes, burning them in a way that didn't kill him inside; there was nothing to kill inside. There was no physical embodiment; there was just a warmth and a curious hollowness that came with the perfect summer's day bleeding into a humid night where you couldn't sleep. He sipped a straight glass of Vodka - no citrus in it to break it up - as the man's almost unearthly depth crawled it's way into his soul. ""We were born sick", you heard them say it. My church offers no absolutes; she tells me "worship in the bedroom". The only heaven I'll be sent to is when I'm alone with you." Joshua felt but didn't consciously notice Min-ho appear back in the booth beside him, having left Joshua alone to mingle with more and more people he knew. A painter, another photographer, a ballerina. "I was born sick, but I love it." Joshua blinked slowly at a underlying passion that came across the blue-crooners face. "Command me to be well."


When I told Min-ho I loved him but he had to drop me at the airport the next morning, he could understand it to; we had experienced all of those twelve days in not even three. There's only so much the both of us could take. I was weak, but even he said he could everything wasn't alright. Maybe five days? At best?


I had already planned it before he left the club. Get back to Seoul, get in a hot bath with a YouTube video on chiropractic and home-hydrotherapy. Call up Camille and talk to her for an hour before getting onto Matty. Ring Gerda and get her to personally give me the contact details of the couple who wanted to foursome; that got at me that they had pulled out. I wanted to do it, with Matty. I wanted to do it for the couple so their non-refundable money hadn't gone to waste and I wanted to do it for me, too. I needed something to knock the bullshit out of my body. Organize a night with Lily, Seungcheol and Jeonghan; buy a couple of pizzas and crash on their couch. No dishes for Lily to do. Day after spend time with Seong-hun and Hyung-Woo. Hyung-Woo I'm desperately worried about, and Seong-hun - I've just about blanked the poor guy to death by masturbation (Kaito's type, maybe, but when I think about it, not Seong-hun's). The truth is he'd probably pay someone else

Chapter Text

Joshua had some explaining to do. Having come in Min-ho's car, he had no vehicle to drive, and he couldn't drive - he believed - with his leg. This meant that he called Seungcheol who was a nightworker to come and pick him up. As Seungcheol pulled up at the taxi bay curb in Lily's Honda CR-V, along with the vehicle came agitated questions.
"Look, quick, before we got out onto the freeway, don't go towards Seongbuk-Deong. Go to the CBD. Cheonggyecheon stream."


"Why?" Seungcheol cut in.


"I'll tell you if you drive to Cheonggyecheon." Joshua bargained. Seungcheol relented and accepted. Seungcheol mostly exclaimed and said "Fuck!", looking at Joshua with a mixture of horror, mortification, and a sick sense of humor that was fed to him as Joshua would grin candidly every now and then.


"That club sounds better than the shithole where I work." Seungcheol laughed, half in shock. "So you definitely saw a Doctor?"


"Yes." Joshua confirmed.


"And the same cow who beat you up thought putting you and some plants in a bath would fix you?" Seungcheol scoffed, looking to Joshua who nodded, and asked him quietly to not get angry. The two of them stayed mostly silent for the drive until Joshua coaxed Seungcheol into talking about Lily and Jeonghan because he asked. Joshua tried to let Seungcheol know everything was okay about the whole days that were not okay at all. That's why he had come back to Seoul.


"Oh, no..." Seungcheol said slowly as he breaked to a halt outside Camille's house. "Don't even think about it. You're not...working - like that." He pointed to the swelling and the bruises on Joshua's wrists and then his right leg.


"It's not like that, Cheol." Joshua replied soothingly. "She's a friend of mine. She's a escort to; she's from the same agency I'm from. I need to see her."


"You'll be alright to get home?" Seungcheol said, worriedly. 


"Hey, hey, I'm fine." Joshua hugged his shoulder for a moment, thanking him, before getting out of the Honda with the crutch and getting a suitcase off of the back seat, wandering up to Camille's front door. Not looking back, Joshua considered it almost sweet that Seungcheol didn't drive off - even though he was blocking a whole road - until he saw Camille come to the front door.

 

-----------------------------------

 

"What sort of games did you get up to?" Camille giggled behind her hand, her hair bouncing slightly as she laughed, sitting naked by the bath Joshua was in except for a pair of yellow-daisy patterned knickers she had answered the door wearing. Camille's naturally huge breasts lay naturally low and wide on her body, out of the push-up constrains of a bra. The bath was full of hot water, and with a computer that Camille operated away from the water, she and hydrotherapy tutorials on Youtube and the CSIRO website had Joshua bending and moving his naked body all availble to Camille's eyes into positions and maneouvers that had him exposed in a way he never had been to a woman. When you're a man having heterosexual sex the positions are completely different...as a rule.


Later that night he went around to Jeonghan's with a pizza; Seungcheol had already passed on the details of Joshua's short time in Moscow to Jeonghan via phone and text.
"You know the worst thing?" Joshua said, smiling a little bit and it was wry after he had confirmed everything Seungcheol had said to Jeonghan about Moscow. "I'm desperate for it now."


"What do you mean?" Jeonghan said, chucking him a can of coke that Joshua put on the floor to calm down before he opened the tongue of the can's mouth.


"Sex." Joshua elaborated with a dumb, mocking expression.


"Not here, you're not." Jeonghan frowned at Joshua. "Fuck off." He added cleanly and mirthlessly.


Joshua and Jeonghan both burst into laughter that nearly had them in tears. Halfway through the couple of hours Joshua was spending with Jeonghan, he got a few texts from Matty and a phone call from Gerda. The couple's work was set for tomorrow night. Look forward to it, he thought to himself. Think about the funny side; you get to see Camille's guitarist stark naked. Anything that's gone on; don't think about it. People make the insides of their heads complicated even though they're complicated enough


"Hey, you don't mind do you?" Joshua asked Jeonghan, holding up his phone. Jeonghan shook his head, mouthing a few words, putting the television on mute as Joshua called the number he wanted.


"Hyung-Woo?" Joshua smiled as the older man picked up the phone. "Your business - can I ask you about it? How many days a week do you actually have to go in and be present there? Is it alright if I ask?"


"I do the undertaking of the body personally if asked of me by clients families, but, really, at the most...three days a week." Hyung-Woo answered, slightly hesitant. "Is everything okay, Josh? Has one of your family passed on? Is someone ill?"


Joshua chuckled slightly into the palm of his hand. He could forgive Hyung-Woo that; asking an undertaker and funeral director about his work surely brought those questions.


"Would you want to move in with me?" Joshua asked. "Or I move in with you? Whatever works best for the two of us?"

Chapter Text

Note for future: Matty's hair gets really cute and fluffy even when he's just doing normal stuff


"They said that would be here at nine 'o' clock, yeah?" Matty walked into Joshua's house with his thick Welsh accent, a bottle of Tequila, a shopping bag, a oat-meal coloured cowl-necked jumper, leather cords, and a hand-rolled cigarette dangling from his mouth. Joshua took it out of the Welshman's mouth for a minute, sniffing it, and gave it back when he was satisfied it was just tobacco in there. Matty chuckled like he had had that experience before.


"You know we're supposed to look professional, right? Not like artist University drop-outs or..." Joshua broke off at the look of simplicity Matty gave him, lightly wondering, lightly searching. Joshua bet there was a lot of people in the world that utterly loved him, in that moment.


"Yeah, love, I know." Matty appeased Joshua. He held up the bottle of Tequila. "You don't mind if I have a swig, do you?" He asked. "My korean's fucked enough as it is, but if I stutter that's really the queens balls on a shining shit."


Joshua laughed to himself, his lips still together. Where the fuck had Camille got line long enough to fish Matty from the depths of whatever ocean or river he had come from?
"You alright if I swallow one?" Matty pulled a small glass bottle of pills out of the pocket of his cords. Joshua recognised them as viagra. "Just in case the grog doesn't do it's job."


Joshua waved his hand, giving Matty permission.


I didn't think the Welsh were that considerate and polite when it came to non-Welsh people. The same man who snag me the poem about Taffy been a thief and a liar and killing the Church of England priest told me that the Welsh were fiercely territorial, and would fuck you over on grounds of been native to their indigenous. If you were to stay in a hotel, if you had a Welsh last name - like Hughes, Perkins, Jones, Jenkins, Davies - automatically you would get the room no matter if you were blonde, brunette or ginger. If you came in with the last name "Hong" and they had the opportunity to turn you down or give the room to a Hughes, Perkins, Jones, Jenkins or Davies, well, guess what? You were thrown into the barn like a animal

 

--------------------------------------------

 

"Hi, I'm Jisoo, how are you?" Matty waited by Joshua's side dressed in a suit he had packed into the bag he had brought with him. For some reason - which Matty guessed might have been client preference - Joshua was dressed...in a knee-length grey suit skirt, a tailored jacket, black stockings, black high heels, with what looked like a corsolette underneath the ensemble. Matty personally thought that was taking the "butch and bitch" pronouns in a whole new way. A couple in their late thirties talked pleasantries to Joshua and smiled happily, coming into the house; the woman wasn't ugly but neither was she a gracefully aged beauty. She would have been sweet-faced when she was younger, Matty decided. She had neatly cut bobbed hair that were sleek around her shoulders with a short fringe. She had a curvy but toned body on her like an Englishwoman, in a black and white striped tea-dress. Her husband - dressed in a cheaper black suit that had some age on it - still had a good body on him, and all of his own hair. He was practically a male version of his wife.


"Eunkwang, Delia, this is Matty." Joshua didn't make up a pretend name for Matty, and next thing he knew he was shaking Delia's hand - soft and warm and feminine - and then Eunkwang's - firm, rough-skinned, but decent.


"How was the traffic? No hold-ups across the bridge?" Joshua asked the couple. Delia shook her head, smiling, while Eungkwang replied something that Matty didn't catch. What he did catch though was something about a local air-force museum that had lots of world war two planes and aeronautical parts in it, but before he went to ask, Joshua's arm was through his, the younger man's head on his shoulder.


"I can take care of your coats?" Matty offered. Joshua blended in to the conduct, showing Delia through to the rooms upstairs leaving Eunkwang to follow behind; Matty had seen teh upstairs once, and it was huge. There was the professional bedroom with en-suite, but it had a connected second sitting room as well with floor-to-ceiling windows and light olive curtains.


"Can I get anybody a drink?" Joshua said as Delia and Eunkwang were sat down on a wraparound couch similar to the one in Joshua's downstairs sitting room - except this one upholstered in a colour like raw calico with studs, Matty noticed. He observed himself been noticeable of a lot of things; especially how good Joshua's small arse looked in that skirt. He's not a tranny, Matty thought to himself. He's not a tranny for money like this. The thought nearly made him laugh. "Some champagne maybe?" A small smile quirked Joshua's mouth into a attractive shape as his eyes twinkled. "As we're celebrating?"


"Yeah, fifteen years married. Can't believe it." Eungkwang chuckled, looking to his wife lovingly. Her eyes and cheeks glowed.


"Well, twenty, technically." She smiled. "We were together for five years before we got married."


"That's quite an achievement." Joshua said, still smiling.


"I've been lucky to not get kicked in the arse on first dates." Matty thoguht aloud. Eunkwang and Delia laughed. "'Til I met Jisoo." Matty put his arm around Joshua, cuddling him into his side.


"Oh, you're a -" Delia faltered on her words, curious. "You're together? I mean, we weren't sure if you'd be a real couple - well, together."


"Yeah, four years now." Joshua picked up his end of the lie together effortlessly. "We met at a bar. Went home with my head on his shoulder." He stroked Matty's chest through his shirt.


"Yeah, and my best mate Dylan were carrying Jisoo's legs." Matty added. Delia and Eunkwang laughed more. They seemed more relaxed.


"Well, we met at University." Eunkwang and Delia smiled at each other affectionately. "I twisted my ankle in my high heeled sandals dancing to Sting."


Matty left Joshua to chatter with the couple and collect the brown-paper enveloped full of money as he went downstairs and grabbed a bottle of Bollinger in the fridge, along with a bucket of ice. "Twenty fucking years..." Matty muttered to himself, head in the fridge. "Fuck me dead."


Two people, three sexual agendas. His, her's, their's. The question is are they compatible?


"What are some particular things you would like to do?" Joshua asked the couple. "I understand completely it might have been a bit embarrassing trying to talk to the woman you first did -"


"Gerda." Eungkwang volounteered the name, followed by a nod from Delia. Matty appeared upstairs with four glasses and the Bollinger. Eunkwang and Matty had a laugh amongst themselves as when Matty undid the champagne cork, it flew across the roam, hit the wall above the bed, and ricocheted in the en-suite bathroom.
"You want to tell me some things you like?" Joshua appealed first-off to Delia, stroking his thumb across the underside of her wrist as she sipped a glass of champagne that Matty had poured for her.


"I, uh..." She blushed, before giggling to herself. Joshua found her nervousness endearing. "Well, you know, the normal stuff, and...well..." She gestured minutely to his clothes. Suddenly Matty understood why Joshua was dressed like that. On enough angles - particuarly his face - he was like a girl with short hair. His face blurred the lines of gender...put him in a skirt, a corsolette and some stockings...the whole image became clear to Matty. He privately wondered if Delia was a bit of a closet pansexual; the cross-dress evidently turned her on, the illusion of non-binary.


"How about you two have a lovely shower while me and Matty get everything ready?" Joshua proposed to the couple, who nodded agreeably, rising to attention.


"Darling, could you get some towels for our guests?" Joshua said to Matty, playing their personal dialouge like the game it was.


"Sure." Matty said, Delia and Eunkwang downing the rest of their champagne in their glasses.

 

----------------------------------

 

"So, am I doing alright?" Matty asked Joshua, lighting candles situated around the upstairs sitting room and the bedroom as water from the shower faucet ran strong and hot in the en-suite, the fan for the steam whirring loudly. Joshua had given him a gas-lighter to use, but Matty was more content with the matches he used for lighting his cigarettes. He like the old-worldiness of the flame burning up the thin strip of timber towards his fingertips.


"Funny, charming, incredibly knowledgeable about anything related to aircraft and world war two." Joshua commented.


"Come on, you can't really believe I said that?" Matty replied.


"It's fine, don't worry about it." Joshua shook a hand, sticking his head into the en-suite.


"Is there any music you'd like?" He called to Delia and Eunkwang.


"Oh, anything really!" Delia responded.


"Except for Take That, Backstreet Boys, any of the modern K-pop rubbish, or rap music!" Eungkwang added his opinion.


Matty's eyes followed Joshua as his high heels clacked on the carpet, muffled, as he jogged over to a I-pod sat in a stereo system - really quite 2000's, Matty noticed - before quickly hissing under his breath, "Quick, underwear, I need to change it!"


"What do you mean?" Matty said. "I've only got what I have."


"Not you, mine!" Joshua said as quietly as he could, going into the walk-in wardrobe. "This isn't for them." Joshua took off the jacket, and gestured to a black corset. "Too hard-core."


"Oh." Matty leant against a shelve, crossing his arms as Joshua bent over and fished about in a draw near the floor.


"Right, what do you think about these?" Joshua held up a 1950's style bra with high-waist lace knickers, and then a see-through burgandy lace corset with no bra or knickers. "Retro or Dita Von Teese?"


Even though Matty knew the retro underwear - especially the high-waist knickers - would soften the lines of his body and hide his penis better, he knew that Delia knew what she had wanted when she specified that Joshua - a man - get into woman's frillies. Matty pointed to the burgandy lace corset. Joshua chuckled. "Now I know what your taste is." Joshua remarked softly. "Time now; clothes off."


Joshua glanced over to Matty as he undressed, before staring at the huge erection making Matty's briefs look like a tent. Joshua figured that either somehow Matty's loose cords had magically concealed the erection, or putting him to the task of picking knickers and bras and corsets had got the blood-flow stimulated. He kept his mouth shut as he laughed, trying not to cause a hassle which might make Delia and Eunkwang nervous. "How many pills did you take?" Joshua asked Matty.
"The bottle says it takes half an hour to kick in." Matty replied.


"Don't knock it." Joshua said, doubling over before straightening up, nearly falling over as he lost balance in his internally-trapped hysterics of laughter. Matty leant against the cupboards like Dita Von Teese did in her photographs, flaunting the erection with a cheesy smile on his face. Matty then leant back and swung his hips to the left and to the right, making the sound of a piece of fruit been put to the spinning teeth of a blender. Joshua lost it again, having to sit down on the floor with his head in-between his knees. "Oh my God..." He muttered. Matty moved behind Joshua and knelt down on the floor, and Joshua felt thin but strong fingers pulling at the laces on the back of the black corset, opening it up and freeing him. It was the first time he had experienced such a seductive gesture of a Welshman; he realized it was also the first time he had had sex with a Welshman as well.


The moment Joshua and Matty finished arranging themselves onto the bed, Delia and Eunkwang walked into the room, hand-in-hand. Joshua was leaning against the foot of the bed, entirely naked with a steadily rising penis in the black corsolette while Matty sat on the bed with one leg drawn up and his arms resting on it in his black briefs.
"Eunkwang, come here." Joshua moved only a few steps across the floor to Eungkwang, and led him by his hands to sit on the couch which he and Matty had moved nine feet closer to the bed across the carpet. Joshua looked away from Eunkwang to Delia, and held out his hand for her.


"Why don't you watch me and Delia have a play?" Joshua said to Eunkwang. Eunkwang's chest rose and fell visibly as Matty came to sit at the opposite end of the couch; Joshua led Delia over to the bed, sitting her down on the mattress, the backs of his fingertips stroking down her cheek. Eunkwang and Matty took a look at each other and Joshua's hands came to settle each side of Delia's throat, thumbs at the tip of her jaw, and he kissed her. Delia smiled into the kiss, resting back on the bed on her hands, letting Joshua's tongue slip into her mouth and stroke over her tongue in a way that made blood rush faster all over her body, utterly blissful in the hands of this curious looking boy. Eunkwang and Matty stared as Joshued pushed Delia gently until she was lying back on the bed, not breaking the kiss until her back touched the mattress fully. He kept his face close to her skin as he traveled her body, placing kisses at the top of her abdomen, her stomach, the tops of her pale breasts, her shoulders, her neck, before finding her mouth again. Matty leant forward, elbows on his knees, watching in a way that consumed him as Delia's hands stroked up and down Joshua's sides and Joshua's penis hung down in-between his legs. Joshua wrapped an arm around Delia, hang at her back, guiding her back up as he straddled her lap, and slipped the straps of her bra off of her shoulders.
"Matty." Joshua said gently as Delia kissed his neck. "Matty." He repeated when the older man didn't hear the first time around, his eyes glazed over from the foreplay been conducted on the bed before him. Matty got the hint the second time, and came around the other side of the bed, undoing the hook and claps at the back of Delia's bra, undoing them, Joshua still keeping Delia attended to for those few little moments. Matty nuzzled his face into her neck, kissing her there as well, keeping the transition of partners smooth as Joshua got off of the bed, and walked over to where Eunkwang was on the couch. Joshua neatly straddled Eunkwang, their noses sliding past one another.
Matty and Delia bodies pressed together curiously well, his hands stroking up and down her back, feeling her muscles loosen up as all her hesitancies were abandoned.
Eunkwang's hands ran and threaded Joshua's hair through his fingertips as they kissed like only two men with their mouths on each other could; simultaneously, Joshua pulled the hem of Eunkwang's black vest up over his torso and he chest. Joshua saw Eunkwang watching his wife and Matty over on the bed together, seemingly unaware that there was anyone else in the room; Joshua managed a moan and a gasp out of him as he rubbed their crotches together, his nude skin against Eunkwang's clothed member. 
Matty pulled off his underwear and threw them over the other side of the room, his length free from the cloth and leaking pre-come that Delia giggled over. Joshua bit gently on the tip of Eunkwang's ear, but felt his breath change not from the feel of teeth against cartildge, but rather Matty rolling over to the bedside table and collecting a condom packet. It was time for more to take place, over on the bed. Eunkwang moved onto the bed beside his wife and wrapped his arms around her, smiling down to her mouth as he kissed her, the two of them experienced with each other's bodies, knowing without forethought what the other wanted. Joshua sat on the edge of the bed, still in the burdgandy lace corset, watching as Matty tore the top of the condom packet off with his teeth, and spat the plastic away. Joshua nearly rolled his eyes as Matty kissed Delia's shoulder.
"Matty." Joshua said, barely making a sound. "Come here."


Matty raised an eyebrows, moving across the bed to Joshua. "I know, you fuckhead. But a bit of manners never hurts." Matty said, in a tone perhaps even more queiter as Joshua took the condom off him and put it into his mouth. Matty grinned as Joshua pushed him back, and in one swift bob of his head had the contracepetive laid tight over Matty's length. Joshua nodded his head back over to Delia and Eunkwang. Joshua lay on the right side of the couple, and Matty on the left. They couple had come to lay with Delia's body pressed on top of Eunkwangs; while the two of them made out passionately, she rubbed herself against Eunkwang's penis, making a wet friction.


"That's amazing." Joshua crooned softly, rubbing the space in-between Delia's shoulderblades, a small massage, letting she and Eunkwang know that he and Matty were still there. "Oh, yeah...yeah..." The last "yeah" came out like a moan as Delia and Eunkwang panted heavily as they tried to breathe in-between the deep kisses. Matty caught onto what Joshua was doing, and choked down a laugh, mimicking his half-formed words of encouragment and the naturalistic noises of sexuality that Joshua was making. Matty's eyes met Joshua's as he reached across the couple entwined together and played with one of Joshua's nipples, stroking the nip and pinching it, making the skin flushed dark pink and hard.


Fifteen minutes later, no actual sex had taken place. Joshua and Matty had taken to lying together - Joshua on top of Matty - like an actual couple while Delia and Eunkwang still made out, touching and stroking each other, the two of them now sitting up, Delia straddling Eunkwang. Matty's head tipped to the side, seeing if his penis was inside Delia yet. He mouthed a "no" to Joshua, who frowned slightly. Without doing too much to make it strange personally for them, Matty pressed a light kiss to Joshua's mouth, one of his hand sliding down Joshua's back and over the corset to grope his arse gently. Matty felt Joshua's penis leak against him as his skin was griped and released and felt, hands resting on Matty's chest with his head on top of them. Matty's lips grazed his temple, humming softly as Delia and Eunkwang began to fuck.


"Are you two having a good time?" Delia suddenly asked. Matty nodded lazily, feeling surpringly tender as Joshua talked to her for a few moments.


"We could take advantage of this." Matty gestured to his condom-covered length as Jisoo leant up with his elbow either side of Matty's head. "You're really fucking gorgeous, you know that? You're absolutely beautiful..."


Joshua threaded one hand through the wild curls that had become weightless and fluffy on Matty's head and shoved their mouths together. Joshua bit into Matty's lower lip, tugging on it with his teeth, able to taste a strange sweetness in the blood of Matty's that bled into his mouth. He remembered what Camille said about Matty been a drug-addict, and Matty himself admitting to cocaine and methamphetamine. Joshua gasped as Matty attacked his neck with his teeth and his tongue, creating bruises and leaving marks from the sharpness of his teeth along the skin of his throat. Matty smiled into Joshua's skin as Joshua put a knee in-between Matty's thighs, getting a better anchorage as he felt his head spin. Matty's fingernails scraped down Joshua's hips as he held on, digging into the fatless flesh there; it was just skin and bone.
"Joshua."


Whatever it was he had said, Joshua froze.


"We can't." Back in the real world and the real time around them, Matty was suddenly paying attention to Delia and Eunkwang; from the light squeals underlying in their pants and their moans, they were only seconds fro coming.


"Why not?" Matty tried to kiss Joshua again, but the younger man wouldn't allow him to.


"It's not Joshua, it's Jisoo." Joshua said simply, giving Matty a look of an animal; it screamed "back off". Time didn't exist as Joshua and Matty looked into each other's eyes; it was because of that that they didn't know how long it had been when the sex finally reached it's peak and ended on a high, Delia practically giggling her head off as both she and Eunkwang both came.

 

-----------------------------------

 

"You did well." Joshua said, throwing on a purposely over-sized sweat over his nudity as Matty finished dressing, pulling on his shoes. Delia and Eunkwang had had another shower and had left, flushed-skin and bright-eyed, looking like blissful newly-weds again, or teenagers high on the thrill of those first loves and making graffiti of genitals on the School princple's new Mercedes Benz.


"I didn't do anything. Did we?" Matty remarked. 


"You gave them what they came here for. You should be pleased." Joshua implored.


"I just feel...I don't know what I feel." Matty shrugged, his back to Joshua. "Just wasn't...I don't know. It's been different, other times, you know. Korean couples are different to us Taffy's or the Poms or the Scots."


"You'll be alright." Joshua came to sit on the raised floor between the bedroom and the adjoined sitting room, next to Matty. "It always feel like this. Excitement, and then all the anticpation, and it's just...adrenaline. But you already know that, right?" He and Matty gazed at each other. "Here." Joshua got up and went over to the bed. "£200." He gave a wad of notes to Matty, who nodded his head and tucked them into his pocket.


From the beginning of even the thought of it all people know that group sex is complicated. All of those people...but it's just the mechanics. The kissing, the touching, the fucking. For some other's, one plus one is the hardest of all. They can't seem to make it up

Chapter Text

Four nights a week - perhaps five if it's quiet week on the client's-death front - I agreed to come and live with Hyung-Woo in his rural Hanok by the forest and the lakes, or he comes and lives with me in Seoul. When Jeonghan had been in - photographing the stars over the glassy surface of the lake, how it always turned if there was no wind, I didn't tell him how close he actually was to Hyung-Woo's house. 


It sounds complicated. Because it is. It's simple as well. All I have to do is completely withdraw what I said and try to not destroy the house with a cricket bat if Hyung-Woo decides he wants to forget that I actually exist.


How stupid was I? How the fuck can I make an arrangement like that work when I'm a hooker with twenty-three clients, I've got not one or two but four people I am extensively attached to, and - 


Joshua stopped typing and buried his face in his hands, swearing and swearing and swearing.


Haven't I made a huge fucking problem?


The thing is - I care! I really do care about Hyung-Woo, and I care so much that I forgot about the part of my job, and I forgot about Seong-hun and Kaito and the other clients. I can't just knock off numerous days a week. Hyung-Woo knows what I am, but he couldn't stand seeing other guys paying - and not paying - to fuck me coming in and out of the house.

 

-----------------------------------

 

"You're either a fucking moron or you're actually in love with him." Lily stated stoutly over a beer. Either side of her, Jeonghan and Seungcheol were shell-shocked and silent, whiel Joshua sat down on the coffee-table in Seungcheol and Lily's apartment. "Or you're just a whore who doesn't know what monoagmy is." She added thoughtfully, tapping the bottom of the glass beer bottle against Joshua's knee.


"What do the other's think?" Jeonghan asked, meaning Min-ho, Kaito and Seong-hun.


"Min-ho I'm not speaking to right now -"


"Fair enough." Seungcheol said.


"And, yeah, you're right - Kaito and Seong-hun."


"Kaito's still practically a child; his heart will be broken into a hundred million bits and Seong-hun will probably blacklist you from every bar and hotel in town, including Cheol's." Lily diagnosed. Jeonghan shushed her.


"You know she's right." Joshua said after a while. Lily beamed sarcastically at both her boyfriend and Jeonghan. "He'd make sure to never want to see my face again."
"Now I get why you don't have social media." Seungcheol commented, having a mouthful of beer from the bottle in Lily's hands. 


"You need to stop doing only what you want, though." Jeonghan said cautiously. "Do they all know about each other?"


"Nope." Lily said with a strange kind of smug happiness. "They all know there are others but they think they are special one, the different one. They think they are the only one."
Joshua nodded, confirming Lily's words. Jeonghan and Seungcheol both groaned, before looking at him firmly.


"It's nearly Christmas." Jeonghan remarked out of nowhere. 


"I don't think I'll be hearing from Min-ho again." Joshua said simply. He didn't feel upset, or otherwise agitated. He just felt quiet inside, like the time he had when he had first heard a Billie Eilish song - he thought it was called "When The Party's Over" - in the supermarket. There was a difference though, because he was aware more acutely of Jeonghan, Lily and Seungcheol's presence in the room.


"Up to now you've had the guy's dream." Lily talked, filling the silence as none of them knew what to really do or say. She gave the beer to Seungcheol and pulled Joshua off the coffee table to be squished in-between them all, three bodies on the couch really enough. "Have heaps of sex, pleasure someone and have them pleasure you, no twenty-four-seven commitment, on top of that, you make money out of it, you've got a good car, and you've got a nice house in a nice area. Why the fuck do you want to mess with that?"
"Lily..." Seungcheol groaned. "Why do you say stuff like that? It's not right and you shouldn't." Lily raised an eyebrow, a half hung slung around Joshua's back while he was reclined into Jeonghan's chest with the lower half of his body half on Lily's lap.


"She's right." Joshua said quietly to Seungcheol. "Pretty much right."


"Well, he's coming down about four 'o' clock tomorrow, yeah?" Jeonghan said. Joshua hummed a reply.


"So...don't do anything. Just go with it. Be Shua and Hyung-Woo - like you always are. Just normal stuff. Don't think about it." Jeonghan advised. Lily giggled all of a sudden.
"You could write a book about this stuff, babe." She said, winking, and wriggling his big toe with her index and middle fingers; it was a gesture that Joshua hoped didn't irk Seungcheol, because it made his heart swell in his chest.


I was starting to really like Lily, even if it had taken so long

 

-------------------------------------

 

Tonight Camille and her band were playing a gig at a bar called "Anobrain". Joshua had nearly laughed at the text when Camille had sent the details. 


As Joshua found a carpark and willed that no one would drag their car-keys down the paintwork, Joshua realized Anobrain was only four doors down from Seungcheol's bar. There was a bigger line stretching to Anobrain rather than Seungcheols' bar, as well, Joshua noticed with mixed feelings. But the time he got through the queue and flashed a ID - courtesy of Camille - and was excluded from paying an entry fee, Joshua got inside just as the first song started to play. His eyes found Camille up on a theatre-like stage and he gazed intently at her; her long black hair fell loose and lightly curled at the length's ends around her shoulders and her back; she was in a knee length black dress with no sleeves but straps over her shoulders like a bra; there was triangle in-cuts beneath the curve of her bust and just above her waist, leading to a one-inch thick band that ran in-between her left and right rib cages. She looked absolutely incredible. The first song of the evening started, and it began with Camille singing into the microphone in a breathless and open-lunged way, "Night, Midnight, lose my mind; Night, Midnight, lose my mind; Night, Midnight, lose my mind; Night, midnight." Bongo drums started to play a beat with a single three-second electric guitar rift played by a second guitarist who wasn't Matty. "Oh god, I'm clean out of air in my lungs it's all gone. Played it so nonchalant; it's time we danced with the truth." The synthesis artist began to play a back-track of Camille's voice that crooned like a murmur, "Night, Midnight, lose my mind". "Move along with the truth -" Her mouth curved up wards into a grin as she made a "Ooh" vocalization, and suddenly the whole crowd, filming on their phones and dancing and singing as well called out a breathless sounding "Hey!" Which made the rest of the band grin and Camille's breasts jump up and down in her chest as she giggled, not losing place in the instrumental rhythm. "We're sleeping through all the days; I'm acting like I don't see every ribbon you used to tie yourself to me...but my hips have missed your hips -" Joshua watched Camille's body as it swung sensually and slowly in an aesthetic movement that was faintly Hispanic. The instrumental composition grew with more gravity at each of her words. "So let's get to know the kicks. Will you sway with me? Go astray with me?" The audience once more sang out, this time a even more breathless "Aha!"


"King and Queen of the weekend, there ain't a pill that could touch our rush..." Camille's eyes bored through the eyes of audience they she sang too, heady and darkly illuminated. "But what will we do when we're sober? Ah, when you dream with the fever I bet you wish you could touch our rush." Animalistic cries and noises appeared in the synthesis track that Joshua knew had been born from Camille's chest. "But what will we do when we're sober? These are the games of the weekend -" Joshua's mouth came open in a silent laugh as suddenly Matty appeared with five other trumpet players, giving off a rhythm, the crowd cheering on. "We pretend that we just don't care -" Camille's eyes didn't just gaze, they hunted. "But we care." Behind her, the band spoke, "But what will we do when we're sober?". "Ah, when you dream with the fever I bet you wish you could touch our rush. But what will we do when we're sober?"


We all experience things that we don't forget; sometimes they fade until they are bare slivers of what you once remembered them as, because too much time has gone by or you've grown so naked that they have been shed with their intimate detail along with your clothes.


I can feel myself changing. Getting older. Feeling different things. Expressing different things. It's a change that would have most people going for a break-down. Even though life is complicated and messy, it's an energy which I hollowly subscribe to.


Maybe I just miss the water.


I can't remember the last time I swam, deeply and with my breath held, beneath it's surface. I think the last time was in the Summer at the lake just down the road from Hyung-Woo's Hanok. I think Seungcheol thinks all of this is due to an anxiety. I wouldn't term it as anxiety. I would term it as passing time

Chapter Text

I had the strangest dream last night. I was underwater with Kaito; Lily was meditating on the bottom of the pool, bubble gently rising from her nose and mouth, in a bikini that kept changing colour and pattern everytime I looked at it; one minute it was green and white striped, then a bright, rotting yellow, then a sailor blue with little white boats printed on the fabric. Jeonghan was sitting at the edge of the deep end of the pool with his feet in the water and dark green boardshorts with "You look so cool" printed on them in dark blue letters. His feet were rough and hard, like he had taken up the habit of walking and running barefoot on gravel. Camille and Seungcheol were dancing on the pavement a few meters away from the pool edge; she was in a gypsy style dress from H&M that all the girls were wearing in the 1970's, and Seungcheol looked happy. I wondered in the dream why Lily was content to be by herself in ever-changing colours on the bottom of the swimming pool while her boyfriend who wanted to marry her danced with my girlfriend. I saw Jeonghan's mouth moving as he spoke, but I couldn't hear him underwater; I tried to tell him that, but, then I realized. Even though he was speaking, there was no sound coming out. Despite everything, I was happy with Kaito under the water. Kaito's youth didn't make me feel younger; I felt even older than twenty-three. But, then again, I do most of the time. He said something to me about Jeonghan. "Are you going to give it one more time? Are you going to give it one more fight? Are you going to say one more lie and then will they know you?" My mind went blank. I had no idea what to say to Kaito; his expression wasn't angry or otherwise degrading. He was jus talking to me. His body was naked with mine in the water, and I didn't know if Lily had opened her eyes at some point and seen us, or how long Jeonghan had been looking down at Kaito and I, his mouth moving with no sound.


A music began to play, and I recognised it as Matty's voice. Somewhere invisible in the sky, his beautiful but rough Welsh accent had been transformed into a heartbreaking but fulfilling sound. He had come to the front microphone to sing a song towards the end of the gig to, Camille taking his electric guitar and playing it as she sat on the edge of the stage; the crowd had touched her legs and her thighs and her arms and she had whispered to a few, eyes glowing and warm. Halfway through the song which was slowed down - it was post-rock, Joshua thought to himself correctly - her eyes had connected with his.


As Matty had sung the song, tears dripped down people's cheeks and wounded cries like dying animals called out from the crowd as they danced in a post-rock revel, the music in their veins. Camille's eyes were wet as well when she played the guitar.


Joshua realized after the gig, during the last bit of the gig, in the dream he had, and the morning after the dream that for the first time in his life he wasn't just Joshua Hong, he wasn't just a young escort in South Korea. He was finding out what it meant to be human

 

--------------------------------------

 

"Hyung-Woo." Joshua smiled as he went down the front steps of his house to Hyung-Woo whose top half was hidden, rummaging around in the boot of his four-wheel-drive. Ichko's head stuck out the left window of the back-seat, and Joshua patted the labrador before going to Hyung-Woo who loaded out two small navy suitcases.
"Lovely to see you." Hyung-Woo kissed Joshua's cheek. Joshua closed the lid of the boot and opened the back door for Ichko. He led her through to the back garden before guiding Hyung-Woo through the house. Hyung-Woo had always been an out-call. This was the first time he had been in Joshua's house.


"You're so young to be such an opportunity to have your own home." Hyung-Woo remarked lightly, smiling just as so. Joshua felt his heart twist comfortably in his chest. Immediately, he realized he had a problem.


The spare bedroom he slept in - it was a room he slept in. He was alright with keeping his clothes and everything down in the hall in the professional bedroom and wardrobes, but that spare bedroom was too small for Hyung-Woo as well. The bed was a single, a bit on the larger side. That was it. The reason he had chose to sleep in the spare bedroom was because he had always felt a bit uncomfortable sleeping in a bed that he worked in, that his and clients cum and spit and sweat and lube and even sometimes blood had gone on-to. But it seemed he really didn't have much of a choice.


Joshua led Hyung-Woo up the stairs, and opened the door to the professional space. Hyung-Woo chuckled. "You should be so proud of yourself." He praised Joshua. "This is wonderful; all that beautiful furniture." Joshua chuckled as well as Hyung-Woo's eyes fell on the antiques. "Where on earth did you get them from? They must have cost a fortune?"


"Well, not really..." Joshua slipped easily into the story of how he had come buy the furntire. It made Hyung-Woo laugh, even though there was an apalling tone to the story; the furniture had all been robbed from the personal belongings of a UK-Korean Consulate official within the embassy in Seoul. It had ended up in a Auction house and had sat there for nearly fifty years, the robbery have taken place in 1972. Joshua had actually gone to that Auction with Seong-hun, and had told the older man that he had money to spend. Seong-hun had told him to go for anything he wanted; the Auction house was closing down, and that meant firesale prices. The furniture in the eyes of the bidder that day was worth nothing.


Hyung-Woo's mouth curved affectionately. "What a nice life you have here, Joshua." Joshua wrapped his arms around Hyung-Woo's thicker, older body and stayed there for a long time. Hyung-Woo's chest was wide and as hard as it was ten, fifteen years ago. Joshua inhaled and exhaled Hyung-Woo's scent deeply; Hyung-Woo was wearing a dark blue jumper and grey tailored slacks. He looked quite old-world, especially with his glasses, and Joshua was pleased by it.


"Are you hungry?" Joshua asked him.


"I'll cook for us - if you don't mind me in your kitchen?" Hyung-Woo's eyebrow quirked up.


"You know you're a total fucking gentleman?" Joshua said, chuckling.

 

-----------------------------------

 

Jeonghan texted Seungcheol. Should we interfere or should we just leave it?


Seungcheol texted back, This guy isn't some idiot our age; he's not a faerie or a weight-lifter. He's like a Dad that handles dead bodies


Jeonghan rolled his eyes. That was obvious. Pulling out a person's bowels and liver and kidneys and other human organs needed a certain type of person to do it; raving gays that pranced about or soft-natured muscle in tight shirts wouldn't get the job done. You don't get it. Should we go around?


Seungcheol responded instantly. No way


Jeonghan texted, Yes


Don't you dare, Jeonghan. Jeonghan murmured "ouch!" to himself. Unless Seungcheol was really pissed off or really irritated, he never called him by his full name in a text. Another text came through. Just leave Shua and Hyung-Woo be. We don't have the right to act like fucking idiots. So what if Joshua's fucked up? If he calls us and needs help, that's that. But it's not. I need to get back to work

 

----------------------------------------

 

Joshua relaxed on the couch in the sitting room with Hyung-Woo, relaxing with his head on the older man's lap, watching the television. Hyung-Woo's hands that were normal - not overly soft or rough and calloused - ran back and forth between Joshua's temple, behind his ear, and towards the edge of his neck by his scalp. Joshua didn't feel so bad; any regret he had had from sensibility had just vanished. "Let's get Ichko inside, she'll get cold." Joshua thought of suddenly.


"She's an outside dog, Josh, since she was a puppy." Hyung-Woo replied.


"There's no barn here with hay and blankets for her to sleep in like there is at home." Joshua said.


"I folded her bed in that second suitcase; we can put it by the hot-water system in the garage. She's been taught not to jump up on cars or scratch the paintwork." Hyung-Woo explained.


"It's ok, I know she wouldn't." Joshua said. Joshua sat up so Hyung-Woo could move down to the garage. Joshua's house was built on the side of the high part of a hill, and the house had floors and rooms on all angles and levels. It was structurally safe, but it wasn't nothing if not unique. Compared to the kitchen, in the sitting-room when standing you were two feet below. Joshua's fingertips touched the carpet, and he pulled out his phone. He looked up Camille and her band and one of the two albums they had made. He needed her voice like oxygen. He saw one the first album released seventeen months ago had the song that Matty had sang at the gig in Anobrain on the album. The song was called "Lladron Yn Wahanol I Ladron". With the song, a journalist in England plus critics at Rolling Stone had written a review about "Lladron Yn Wahanol I Ladron".


"You look so cool" are the words of divinity, and they are the embodiment of a love that worships." Had been written by an Englishman for Rolling Stone.


Something in his chest burned as fierce as tears would in a girl's eyes. 


He tucked his phone back beneath the couch, leaving it until later, a few moments later Hyung-Woo coming back into the sitting-room.


"You look so relaxed." He told Joshua, resuming his seat. "You look in love."


Joshua moved into the space along Hyung-Woo's side, pressing close to him. He suddenly needed that touch.


"Because I am." The words fell out like a promise as he heard Matty's deep voice sing "Lladron Yn Wahanol I Ladron" in his head. 


She had a face straight out of a magazine / God only knows but he'll never leave her / Her balaclava is starting to chafe / But when she gets his gun he's begging, "Baby, stay, stay. Stay, stay, stay." / Now I'll give it one more time / We'll give it one more fight / Said one more lie / Will I know you / Now if you never shoot you'll never know / And if you never eat you'll never grow / You've got a pretty kind of dirty face / And when he's leaving her home she's begging him to "Stay, stay. Stay, stay, stay." / Now I'll give it one more time / We'll give it one more fight / Said one more lie / It'll all be alright because I know you / Well now that you've got your gun / It's much harder now that the police have come / And I'll shoot him if it's what you ask / But if you'll just take off your mask to find out that everything's gone wrong / Now everybody's dead / And their driving past my old school / He's got his gun / He's got his shoot sign / And she says, "Babe, you look so cool. You look so cool. You look so cool. You look so cool. You look so cool. You look so cool."

Chapter Text

"Shit." Joshua said half-dazed on the phone to Gerda, while Hyung-Woo cooked eggs in a jumper and his dressing gown, and a pair of slippers with the ducted heating turned on. It had been freezing overnight.


"Really?" Gerda's voice questioned coldly.


By the time Hyung-Woo and I had got up it was ten 'o' clock. I had no appointments that day, but earlier Gerda had got a phone call from a international escort service called "Emerald". The short version is, they wanted to purchase me and terminate my contract and work with Gerda and her agency. The long version is this: Gerda going nuts about it. The "Frau Deutsch" in her really came out this time.


"What have you been up to?" Gerda accused Joshua. Joshua raised his eyebrows at Hyung-Woo.


"A lot of great sex, actually." Joshua replied lightly. He could sense Gerda's burning indignity and anger on the other end of the line. He had the patience, though, that morning to deal with it. "What about you?"


Gerda scoffed darkly on the other end. "I don't know I put up with you?"


"Why not entertain the idea of Emerald International Escorts, anyway?" Joshua said. "Get me off your books for a decent amount of money. £50,000 is a lot of money, even in our buisness. I don't know why you're upset - oh, unless you've grown fond of me -"


"Don't be ridiculous!" Gerda snapped. "It's the sheer impertinence."


"But, it's not really, is it?" Joshua appealed gently. "They contacted you first; pure business procedure. You didn't have to tell me, Gerda."


Gerda scoffed again. "I'm your agent, not your owner." She responded. "And I'm obligated under a thing we have called "Trade Unions". That institution and it's laws applies to the sex trade as well."


Alright? Hyung-Woo mouthed to Joshua, who nodded.


For all Gerda's coldness and shrewedness, she's a pillar of pride.


"They want an interview from you. Two days after Christmas if you've recovered from getting drunk." Gerda told him clippedly, before abruptly hanging up.


"Hyung-Woo, what are you doing Christmas Eve?" Joshua asked Hyung-Woo, putting his phone into his jeans. Hyung-Woo winced slightly.


"I've been invited to not one but two Christmas Eve parties, and then New Year's Eve parties which I have to go too. One of the Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve parties are a collobartion of old university friends, colleagues, and medical school professors. The other Christmas Eve party is my little brother and his family's "do", and the other New Year's Eve party is there idea as well." Hyung-Woo explained. "I'm sorry, Josh, but I can't bring you."


Thank fucking God, that's Kaito and Seong-hun sorted then, Joshua thought to himself. "I'm sorry, but I need to go straight after breakfast." Joshua said to Hyung-Woo. "I need to see Gerda over this agency thing."


I know that Hyung-Woo knows that I'm going out to get laid by someone for money. We don't talk about it, or bring up anything about it, because anytime it comes across, it makes the poor man feel like a criminal. Hyung-Woo actually shrinks in on himself, like a convicted paedophile standing before a jury who has signed his death warrant. It's easier for the both of us to say that I need to see Gerda over the business of the new agency.

 

---------------------------------

 

You know one thing I cannot stand? "Work-sex". Not that actual sex in the workplace itself, but just how it is said and tolerated and talked about. It gets the entire concept into the field of "Fifty Shades of Grey". And, frankly, if your partner is one of the fifty shades of grey, you ought to loosen the bondage. I still laugh when I think of that; Ha-Yoon, Seong-hun's housekeeper, had made that comment. As a bit of a joke, I had got her the book for her birthday. Seong-hun had thought it was funny, but Ha-Yoon had hit me with it, and made that comment of the kinky sex inside.


Joshua walked confidently through the front revolving-glass doors of Seong-hun's head building for his company, head held high. He saw the ditzy receptionists behind the desk and dozens of other men in suits of varying quality, and Joshua felt like a king who in real was was going to fuck their boss on his desk.


Joshua walked into the elevators, and a operator pressed for the forty-third floor where Seong-hun's office was situated, with a sky-line view over the city where the streets curved and wound like veins beneath a person's skin and the people on these veins below were as small as red and white blood cells, the life coursing through. He used to be as nervous as hell, doing these entries a few years ago when he first started out. "Why are you worried?" He now thought to himself back to those days. You've got a face straight out of a magazine or a movie screen. Actually, when have you ever seen a guy that looks just as good as you?


Joshua purposely wasn't very kind the moment the elevator doors opened and he and Seong-hun's personal receptionist laid eyes on each other. Joshua knew she had it in for him, and as he walked past her desk to Seong-hun's office, she called back at him over her desk, waving the phone and calling that Seong-hun was in a meeting and not to be disturbed. Joshua resisted giving her the finger as he slid through the traditional style sliding wood doors in Seong-hun's office. She knew what he did, and what he was to her boss. He instead became delighted at how revolted she would be as she eavesdropped, able to hear he and Seong-hun's wet skin slapping together and their moans and their conversation. Joshua pitied her slightly; she was evidently lonely in been single, and miserably frustrated. But, God, was she a hag, otherwise; the only reason Seong-hun didn't get rid of her was because at least she would never talk about the things that went on at the forty-third floor.


As Joshua entered the room, Seong-hun was drinking alcohol out of a tumbler at his desk; at the first side of him, Seong-hun smiled with his teeth showing, and then picked up a remote and pressed a button, making the curtains fall down over the floor-to-ceiling glass windows in the huge office that was just as big as Joshua's professional bedroom and sitting room at his house.


"I've been begging the God's above to see your face." Seong-hun said with a humor but a relaxed tone in his voice, his hand curving around Joshua's hair and up into his head before they kissed. Joshua held onto the front lapels of Seong-hun's jacket, as close as they could properly be as Seong-hun's tongue slipped into his mouth. "Have you really been that busy?"


"Had a horror few days in Moscow." Joshua chuckled, getting off his shirt and sliding Seong-hun's jacket off his shoulders, blood rushing south all throughout his body.
"You were in Russia?"


"Long story, this first." Joshua got him back on track, kicking off shoes and trousers, standing before Seong-hun completely nude - as the older man liked it - with the signature pair of black Danish self-hold stockings on his thin legs. Seong-hun takes a few moments to study Joshua like this, before the rest of his clothes come off.


Joshua bent over Seong-hun's desk, resting his head on his crossed arms as Hyung-Woo prepared him, warm hands touching the inside of Joshua's thighs and the bottom of his spine and his hips in mall touches and strokes that made him shiver and gasp. Joshua bit into his wrist as to not moan too loudly or, rather, keep himself from moaning at all. Considering how rude he had been to Joshua's receptionist on the way in, she was bound to be in on them now. As his teeth sunk into his own, there was nothign disturbing or painful about it. It was just as it was. Joshua pulled off a few moments later, deep marks grey in his skin, the skin between the marks damp from the inside of his mouth. Joshua loved it. Joshua gasped as Seong-hun finally entered him; he bit down onto his wrist again, creating new marks and indentations from his teeth as Seong-hun's hands grasped his hips.


 "God, Josh, you’re so… tight." Seong-hun grunted out. He pulled himself out of Joshua and straightened him up. Seong-hun's hand ran over the stockings still on Joshua's thighs and then the bare skin of his arse as he picked the younger man up and carried them around the desk to his brown leather chair.


"What do you expect? I waited for you...I know what you like to do to me." Joshua's mouth fell half-open and eyes lidded as he sank back onto Seong-hun's length. Seong-hun rutted his hips upwards, and Joshua barely resisted yelping out. He nearly lost his grip and his sense around Joshua, but not quite. The younger leaned down to kiss him, but Seong-hun blocked his mouth with a hand.


"Good boy." Seong-hun ran his tongue over Joshua's mouth, his chin grasped in-between his fingers, and continued moving his hips up and down slowly beneath Joshua's body. Joshua was gasping breaths in a moan; his pelvis moved in tandem with Seong-hun, but it was clear that he wanted to go faster. Seong-hun didn't relent; he enjoyed having Joshua this way after having to be made to wait so long for him.


"Does –" Joshua head tipped back for a moment as in one thrust Seong-hun went as hard as he ever had, just for that one thrust. The movement exposed Joshua's neck, and his adam's apple a stark, hard lump beneath his skin that was damp with sweat. "Does that mean you've really been that fucking desperate for me?" Joshua panted and moaned, but he still got his words out with a wide smirk. Seong-hun snorted a laugh but groaned, his forehead toucing Joshua's chest as the young man clenched his muscles around Seong-hun's penis inside him.


“Really, love, do you think I’m that weak? I know that in the space of an hour I can get you to come five times all over me and all over yourself, no matter how we do it.” Seong-hun was somply riling Joshua up, if he was honest. He wanted to see how long the other could hold back, how long until he is fed up with Seong-hun's temperament and really began to fuck him.


All of a sudden, Joshua's hands were gripping hard around his neck, and in a time where age took no stage let alone centre of it, and therefore unsaid terms, Joshua took control of Seong-hun, bottoming out on the older man and sliding his tongue over the underside of Seong-hun's teeth. Joshua bucked himself up and down harder on Seong-hun, exclaiming out as suddenly they along with the chair tipped over. Joshua arms quickly wrapped around Seong-hun, the older man clutching him to his body, they still connected in their sex, as the crash happened. He and Joshua tipped out of the chair, rolling like animals on the ground. Joshua writhed and shook under Seong-hun as his penis seemingly went deep than before into him, and he felt as though his spine was impacted by the internal thrust. Seong-hun pulled himself out of Joshua, talking to him, but was only met with a clenched-jawed expression and a set of beautiful dark brown eyes with fully dialted pupils and a hazy expression. "Why the fuck did you pull out?" Joshua spoke breathily, his limbs still trembling slightly. Joshua had to re-convince Seong-hun to get back inside him, nearly begging him. As the older man did, his hand ran up and down Joshua's stockinged thigh with each thrust, and he doesn't stop this time. Joshua wasn't get tired, and neither was he. Seong-hun just wanted to fuck him, and Joshua wanted the same.


Seong-hun doesn’t stop him when Joshua moves his chin in a quick motion, wanting Seong-hun to kiss him. Joshua's lips were wanton and demanding, sliding against and sucking on Seong-hun’s own. Joshua moved his hands up to Seong-hun's now messy, dark hair and pulled at it, hard. Joshua grinned against Seong-hun's mouth as the man instead of making a sound thrust into him harder, almost like had he done when the chair had collapsed. Joshua sucked on Seong-hun's tongue and found "Lladron Yn Wahanol I Ladron" playing his head as the sex with Seong-hun was enacted out, and, this time, it was Seong-hun's turn to truly moan. 


 "Come on." Jisoo murmured the challenge to Seong-hun, his lips parted and his glazed eyes at half-lids, struggling to keep his eyes open, feeling himself coming close. Seong-hun took Joshua's own length in his hand, and gripped in in tight and quick strokes faster than the pace of his anal thrusts. It was only a few moments before Seong-hun himself comes within the condom inside Joshua, but he didn't even notice it, and he was sure that Joshua didn't either. The young man was laid back with his arms above his head, his lips parted open and all effort it had taken to keep his eyes open lost. Seong-hun didn't stop until finally Joshua came, and he gazed at how beautiful he looked when he did.

 

------------------------------------

 

Joshua sat up straight in bed as he realized it was two days until Christmas Eve, Kaito's 18th birthday, and the fact that it wasn't even yet six 'o' clock in the morning. He had woken up from a dream hearing Lana Del Rey's voice, and knew it must have had something to do with the radio in his Mother's kitchen, Camille, or Lily; he didn't listen to Lana Del Rey's LP's. Joshua suddenly thought that some of her songs would sound good if Camille sung them with her deep voice, but the lack of quality compared to Camille's original work would just be degrading. He turned his head to see if he had woken up Hyung-Woo, but it seemed he hadn't. As Joshua lay back down in the bed and cuddled into Hyung's back where he had been. Next thing he knew, Hyung-Woo rolled over, and blinked at him sleepily. "You didn't tell me yesterday...your new job. Did you get accepted into the new agency? Emerald's, isn't it called?"


Joshua was startled by the fact that Hyung-Woo remembered, even the details of the Escort agencies name.


"I've still got the interview to do a few days after Christmas." He replied. "I'm sorry for waking you up. Had a really...weird kind-of dream."


"Want to tell me about it?" Hyung-Woo asked.


Joshua rolled his eyes, slightly embarrassed though he really wasn't. He pushed at Hyung's shoulder, but whispered so quietly he barely heard it himself, so un-rehearsed were the words: "You're so good to me."


"Don't be nervous about it." Hyung-Woo advised. "Up-grading careers is a normal thing. It's a good thing." Even if you're in the sex industry, hung unsaid between the two of them, but it didn't need to be said.

 

Chapter Text

In having Hyung-Woo move in with me...he's sort of become my partner. The serious one. I just wanted him close because I worried about him, but it's become...it took me half a bottle of alcohol to have the guts to get into the car and drive around to Camille's and tell her that I really won't be able to see her anymore. The truth is, she's absolutely mental, but I love her - I love being around her. But one subconsciously thought out thought has changed all that. Even in the days that Hyung-Woo isn't down with me in Seoul...I won't creep around criminal to her house and to her bed. I did that for enough years with Seungcheol and Jeonghan.


"Hey, Josh-man!" Joshua looked up to see Matty walking back and forth across the island bench in Camille's kitchen in tight skinny jeans, leather shoes, and a thin-fabric white shirt patterened with pink peonies - all the buttons open and the shirt itself half falling off his shoulder - a cigarette dangling from his mouth.


Camille was lying on blankets and pillows and bean-bags spread out in the dining-room, her head in the lap of the synthesist; she was in a pair of black bra and knickers, and from the expression of her face, Joshua could tell she wasn't drunk and hadn't been smoking drugs.


"Oh, hey, baby!" She called out, jumping up to come over and hug him. "Sorry, I should have said about the guys - are they alright? I can get them to go - oh, no, what am I saying? You can meet everyone!" She kissed his cheek, and brought him over to the rest of the band who raised their hands in waves and seemed cheerful. Out of the corner of his eye Joshua saw Matty come down into a crouch on the bench, still smoking his cigarette.


"Is it true about the new agency thing?" Camille asked all of a sudden, just as Joshua met the band's drummer. "Gerda's doing her nut about it."


"We all know she's a bit of skirt and you're a bit of jock." Matty commented in Welsh-accented English over Korean, getting off the kitchen island with a bit of a wobble and coming over to sit beside the drummer who had bleached-blonde hair - all shaven - except for a bit of his scalp which were like dread-locked twigs. Matty absent-mindedly fiddled with one. The drummer had a tattoo on the tip of his left cheekbone that ran down to just beneath the outer corner of his eye; it was off a mermaid, and Joshua wondered why he had it. 


"You should see the artwork on his back." Matty said, noticing sharply Joshua's gaze on the mermaid tattoo. 


"All of you can go, now?" Camille suggested, twirling a strand of hair around her finger. The drummer chuckled as the synthesist got the hint and got Matty plus the second guitarist to get off the floor and out of the door.


"You, um..." Joshua nodded to Camille's underwear. he snorted a laugh, turning his head as suddenly her hands delved into the cups of her bra and pushed up her naked breasts with a duck-lipped expression that made her well-formed cheekbones look enormous.


"Okay, okay." Camille beamed.


Even when you plan things out in your head, it doesn't mean you can do them. Lily has it down to a fine art; "It means you're not supposed to do it, you silly fucker." She'd say. "Just keep your mouth shut and walk the tight-rope for a bit more. There's always something to land on, whether it be a net, the ground, the weight-lifter, or a pile of elephant shit."


"I need to talk to you about something." Joshua said. "It's not about work, it's -" He faltered on his words. He hadn't worked out what he was going to say to Camille. She sat there patiently, her legs crossed and her shoulders hunched in a curve, gazing at Joshua and in-between his adam's apple, his mouth and his eyes.


"I'm sorry, I need to go." Joshua said suddenly, getting up to leave.


People say you need to see a doctor the moment voices start in your head. But what do you do when it's your best friend's girlfriend's voice? One of the women you trust - begrudgingly - the most on Earth?

 

-------------------------------------

 

"Hyung-Woo?" Joshua called out as he came back into his house, shouldering open the front door. Joshua waited in the silence, waiting for Ichko to bark. If there was no response at first from Hyung-Woo, there was from Ichko. Joshua went upstairs, and found all of Hyung-Woo's things gone. On the bed was a spare bit of paper with hand-writing in tidy black ink scrawled across it.


I need my own house, my own land, my own bed. I cannot leave my business like I thought I could. I hate this city. I can't breathe here, and the people are revolting; it's chaos. I've wasted your time. I thought it would be best for me to go before you came home. I didn't want to see your face. I care for you very much but I live my own life in my own house. I like being by myself. I know that you have feelings too but I always feel disgusting; I'm abusing a child. Don't call me again. I wish you the best,
Hyung-Woo


Joshua sank down to sit on the floor, his back against the side of the bed of the bed. He didn't really feel anything for a few moments. He ripped the piece of paper into twelve little ripped shapes and through them across the room; they fell in a confetti across the floor onto the carpet, which Joshua abruptly turned his gaze away from. He thought it had been a shit letter. Nothing special in it. Joshua went into the bathroom downstairs, and filled the bath-tub up with cold water.  He stripped off his clothes and climbed into it just as the bath-water reached as far as it could fill the tub without overflowing. He sank into it, and as he felt the cold rush into his body, replenishing function feeling, he didn't gasp or shriek out like other people did in reaction to temperature. He slid beneath the surface of the water, and let himself exist below the surface of the water in the cold, his head empty.


There's a reason why people say all gay men are degrading takers, selfish users, back-stabbing liars strange-minded, weak-natured, idiotic people with no sense or understanding of anything.


Because it's true. They're arseholes. Min-ho is gone, Hyung-Woo is gone....and yet all I wanted was that cold water.

 

----------------------------------

 

He didn't exactly mean too, but the first thing he did was put his foot so hard to the wall that suddenly he was half stuck, and there was a huge hole in the plaster. He didn't count either on getting any tradesmen in two days before Christmas, either. He went down to the kitchen, and under the sink found a few foam sponge wipes he used for cleaning upstairs. He stuck two of them into the hole in the wall, and tried to ignore the few bits of white plaster that crumbled down onto the tiles.


He didn't feel the need to call either Jeonghan or Seungcheol. Well, it'd prove Seungcheol was right all along, wouldn't it?

Chapter Text

"Who are they?" Lily asked Seungcheol and Jeonghan as they waited outside Joshua's front door; a lethally-curved 1930's Rolls Royce had pulled up at the curb, and out had climbed a shaved head with bleached dreadlocks and facial tattoo's, a Eurasian woman in a tight black dress with the hem at her ankles and a French trench coat, a man who didn't look enough to be Anglo with curling dark hair and expensive black fashion, a cloud of cigarette smoke behind his head. Another two men appeared; they were both thin-built, one in a flannel shirt and a beanie while the other was in a fleece-line denim jacket and had lips blue from cold. She saw the Eurasian woman speak the same three words to the men surrounding her. 


"Jeonghan." The Eurasian greeted gracefully, her eyes warm; Lily didn't like her one bit, no matter how good-looking her face was.


"Hey Camille." Jeonghan said, slightly too brightly. "Guys, this is -"


"Shut your fucking trap out here." The man with the cigarette and curling black hair suddenly spoke. He dropped his tone to a mutter and pulled Jeonghan forward. Jeonghan reacted roughly to the gesture. "You don't talk about fucking brothels out here." He hissed quietly. A few seconds later, Joshua opened the front door with dripping wet hair, a oat-meal coloured shirt that look over-sized on him, the sleeves going to his fingertips, and blue pyjama pants. He stared at them, his mouth coming open to speak, but no words came out.


"Well, of course we going to come around." Camille frowned, crossing her arms in a way that lifted her already plentiful cleavage. 


"Sorry - what the -?!" Lily jabbed a finger at her, looking pointedly at Joshua. Seungcheol whispered for her to calm down, and the man with the blonde dreadlocks and the tattoo on his face snorted a laugh.


"Love's working tonight -" The cigarette man pointed to the Eurasian woman. "Joshy's working tonight, so we thought we'd come around and say "Nadolig llawen" and then fuck off."

"Nado...?" Seungcheol tried to repeat.


"Matty's Welsh." Joshua explained. "Can we just get inside, yeah?"

 

------------------------------------

 

Joshua tried his best to introduce everyone, sitting on the arm of the couch in the sitting room downstairs rather than choosing sides of sitting with Jeonghan, Seungcheol and Lily or Camille, Matty, and the rest of the band. Seungcheol and Lily became interested in the band, Camille became interested in Jeonghan's other film-work, and Matty talked in-between everyone else about those two subjects and other things. Camille hadn't said anything about turning up with all of her boys, but Joshua knew that Jeonghan and Seungcheol would have come around.


He looked around as suddenly Lily came into the kitchen. She was in skinny black jeans and a light pink long-sleeved top; she nice in it, but it made the cheeky look on her face even more profound.


"Too many people in the same space at once?" Lily commented. Joshua shrugged.


"Come on. Talk to me." She poked his hip. "You look really pissed off."


"I'm fine."


"You look like your going to kick a wall in."


Actually, about that...Joshua thought to himself, before saying it aloud. He led Lily upstairs and showed her the bathroom. She immediately burst out laughing.


"Nice shot, chicken!" She praised him. Joshua found himself staring at her. Oh God. he realized to himself. She's...Camille. Or, Camille's...Lily.


"What you're going to not have to is shower in here anymore." Lily put her arm around his waist, and gestured at the wall, absolutely earnest. "Steam and heat residue won't be blocked by the sponges, and the internal wall can't be getting affected."


"Okay..." Joshua took into account her advice. "How do you know this?"


"Everybody knows this shit." Lily frowned matter-of-factly. 


"No, they don't."


"Well, time they fucking learnt." 


"I've always loved your pretty language, Lily." Joshua said. Lily giggled.


"Yeah, it goes." Lily stripped him down to his exo-skeleton. "You sure you're alright?" She didn't press anymore as Joshua rolled his eyes and insisted he was fine. Four hours later when they left - separate to Camille and her boys - Lily said to both Jeonghan and Seungcheol, "He's gone. That guy that Joshua was with. That's why we didn't see a car or anything or the guy himself. He's walked."

 

--------------------------------

 

Camille hummed softly. "Look, Josh." Her hand curved through the crook of his elbow, and she pointed outside to the garden and the tress via the parted curtains in the sitting room. "It's snowing." Matty and the rest of the band had gone out to the car they had come in while Camille said goodbye.


Joshua quietly regarded her as she talked. "Whose your one tonight?" She asked him.


"A young one. Japanese-Korean. He's pretty good." Joshua responded. "What about you?"


"Seventy-two. Wife died of dementia five years ago. No children. He was the one with the trouble, not her. He's pretty good too." Camille smiled. "What were you going to tell me the other day?" She asked him. "Do you love me or something like that?"


"I wanted to ask your advice about something." Joshua invented quickly. "And I wanted to ask you what you wanted for Christmas but I figured it out."


"Alright." Camille nodded her head. "What do I want for Christmas, then?" She put to him.


"Sex in the bath." Joshua said. His stomach backflipped as suddenly Camille ducked her head with a very pretty but embarrassed smile, her eyes and cheeks glowing. Fuck, I got it, Joshua thought to himself, amazed.


"Yeah...that sounds pretty nice." Camille kissed him on the cheek, and Joshua watched after her as her backside moved from side to side as she walked. That dress looked amazing on her, and Joshua hoped he would see her wear it again.

 

----------------------------------------

 

Joshua was going around to Kaito's Father's house tonight; Kaito had implied that specifically over a phone call along with the promise that his Father wouldn't be home until about eight 'o' clock tomorrow morning because his girlfriend was head of HR and he would be at her place. Kaito's Father had organized a party between just he and Kaito for his eighteenth; Joshua had felt sympathetic. Even though Joshua knew Kaito wouldn't have minded because of what was planned for this evening, it would have sent anyone else to tears; Kaito's Father's idea of a "party" had just been watching a football match with a couple of Australian-brand beers and a cake that had been brought from the supermarket. Joshua navigated his way through the empty Scandinavian-designed condominium to the backyard. What he knew for certain is that no matter what, Kaito can sense his state of mind. The light above the backyard's swimming pool filled the water with colours so intense that it looked as though Kaito - somewhere down there - was swimming in blue lava, or monochrome melted steels, otherwise mythological existence. Joshua worried for a few moments about the cold; surely there had been ice frozen on the surface if the pool that had to be broken apart and melted down so as not to be icebergs and knives and chunks of dangerous objects in the water for a person to be submerged in it. As Joshua got to the pool, he felt the most serene smile had thought he might ever have had come onto his features.


Kaito was waiting; Joshua saw by the edge of the pool Kaito five meters below, floating in the salt-water over chorine sterilization, utterly gravitiless. He twisted and rolled and Joshua was entranced by his graceful movement under the water and his balletic aura, his body completely naked and his skin illuminated in lines. 


Joshua sat down on the edge of the pool, taking of his shoes and socks and rolling his jeans up, putting his legs into the freezing water. Time went by thick and happily slow as Kaito's body swam to the surface, and his hair was pasted to his scalp, neck, shoulders and back as he appeared above the water. "Happy birthday." Joshua said, leaning his head against the line of his left shoulder.


"Happy Christmas." Kaito replied. Joshua could tell that he was happy. Joshua leant down and their mouths closed together with a gentle stick. Joshua could taste the pool's salt-water on Kaito's lips, and he didn't mind. 


"You're not cold?" Joshua said.


"I'm never cold." Kaito moved through the water until he was in-between Joshua's legs; he leant his head against the inside of Joshua's right knee, treading the water slowly and effortless beneath. He doesn't seem eighteen, or even seventeen, Joshua thought. He's a person that's never been a age


"I'm coming in with you." Joshua said to Kaito. The cold covered all of his skin like a breath as he peeled off the layers of his jacket, jumpers and shirt, and then his trousers and underwear. The cold went across the insides of his thighs, and now, back beneath the water's surface, bubbles appeared from Kaito's mouth as he chuckled to Joshua shivered reaction. He saw Kaito's mouth move under the water, speaking words that he couldn't hear. Joshua slipped his whole figure into the pool, pushing off from the edge, and allowing no hesitation. His mouth opened in the shock of the cold, but he didn't react to it. He just swam through the water, and searched for Kaito's body in the place where gravity didn't exist.


He didn't find Kaito the first time around. After taking in a deep breathe, Joshua went beneath the water. He smiled as he swam up along the line of Kaito's body and they found each other's arms; his knee bumped against Kaito's ribs, and their legs bumped and knocked and swam in-between each other's as they treaded the water halfway submerged in the overall seven meter depth. Joshua didn't know who Kaito's Father must have had to bribe to be able to have a metropolitan zoned house with a pool this deep in the back garden. 


Joshua had a thing for underwater kisses; anything to do with the water he liked. It was a constant sensuality that drew him in. Sleeping in the water, relaxing in the water, masturbating in the water, kisses in the water. But for as far back as he could remember, this was only the second time he had had the latter. Joshua had to remind himself not to breathe in as water came into his mouth when Kaito slipped his tongue into his mouth. It was like a suffocation, but it was one that didn't belong in the world around them. It belonged only in the water the two of them were submerged in even though it was freezing cold. Joshua wanted to keep it that water. 


Suddenly, Kaito's legs were moving, and he was dragging his body and Joshua's up to the surface because they were still human and they still had to breathe even though Joshua was happy to ignore that. When they broke through the water, Joshua broke from Kaito's arms and went to the edge, pulling himself out of the water. As Kaito swam in-between his legs again, looking up at him with eyes so richly black in colour, Joshua started to laugh. "I'm never going to get hard at this rate," He leant his head down and whispered in Kaito's ear. "The water's fucking freezing!" A grin bloomed on Kaito's face, and he murmured something in Japanese that Joshua didn't understand. A second later, with Kaito still in the water, Joshua's head fell back with a soft groan as Kaito's hot and wet tongue pressed over the slit of his penis, and began to suck him off. Joshua moved a few centimeters closer to the edge of the pool as Kaito's head bobbed back and forth. Joshua gathered the long lengths of Kaito's wet hair in his hand and looped it into a tight hold over his fist, leaning back on his other hand on the pavement for balance as the feelings from the sex washed all of the cold out of him.


Just as he felt he was going to spill down Kaito's throat, his body is pulled back into the water; his skin is re-shocked from the cold, and he gasped into Kaito's mouth as the cold water washes over him, cleaning away Kaito saliva and killing the erection in general.


Joshua just laughed, trusting Kaito to keep them above the water to breathe as one of his hands went through Kaito's hair and the other up and down his back as Joshua bit his teeth into the crook of Kaito's shoulder and neck.


"Let's get into the shallows so I can fuck you." Joshua said quietly, his lips against Kaito's ear. Kaito said something in Japanese that Joshua didn't understand. The next thing Joshua knew was Kaito pushing his body away and climbing out of the pool, a waterfall of water coming from his black hair. Joshua followed him as they went back through the glass sliding doors. Joshua barely felt real as he walked past Kaito's Father's office before walking into a frosted glass room that looked like a greenhouse, with a running warm hot-tub in the centre of the space. Kaito had made it clear that he wanted it in the water, and Joshua was more than happy to oblige even if he felt the water was sacred sometimes.


"Are you already?" Joshua asked, going into the waist-high water and pressing Kaito up-against the wall, wrapping the younger's legs around his waist. Kaito's nails clawed sharp and hard down Joshua's back, a mark for letting the older man take control.


"Just get inside, you know none of that stuff matters." Kaito said as Joshua teasingly pressed the pad of his middle finger against Kaito's entrance, which gave way easily. Kaito groaned as Joshua finally entered him, some of the erection having coming back in the hot water. It only increased as Kaito purposely tightened his muscles around Joshua as he began to thrust.


"Come on..." Kaito's teeth bit Joshua's throat painfully. "Harder, harder..."


Joshua gave in to Kaito's demands. Kaito gasped and moaned and murmured long words in Japanese as Joshua moved as hard and as fast as he could. Kaito's hands came to clench the ceramic edge of the sunken hot-tub, keeping his legs tight around Joshua but having to keep them loose enough so the older man could move. "Fuck...fuck me..." Kaito moaned, his chest rising and falling in panted breaths. In one thrust, Joshua slammed into Kaito, and he wailed, before one hand wrapped around the back of Joshua's neck and they kissed like animals.


Outside, un-noticed, more snow began to fall, the ice melting at the touch of the pool, the salt in the water breaking the ice's particles into nothingness.

 

----------------------------------

 

Only with Kaito would I be putting up a Christmas tree and other Shinto-based - even though I'm not Shinto - traditions at my house at three 'o' clock in the morning on Christmas Day, even though me and Kaito were still treating it like Christmas Eve. It had only been a matter of a few hours.


"That's real." Joshua stated the obvious, astounded. He knew Kaito had loaded something into the back of his car, but he didn't realize it had been a genuine cyprus pine tree, about five feet tall.


"And it's nice and dry." Kaito told him, carrying it in through the house from the garage. The tree itself was planted in a tin tub with filled to the brim with dark brown soil and little orange balls of fertilizer. "Cut it out of the back garden the other day to make room for a bit of a deck Dad wants to build off the pool. I put it in a baby-bath that was my Grandfather's or something with some potting mix and - well - he lives - sorry, where do you want him? Sitting-room?"


Joshua nodded, moving out of the way for Kaito. "He?" He questioned the apparent gender of the cyprus tree.


"Yes." Kaito nodded matter-of-factly, putting it down in the corner of the sitting-room by the windows. "Trees are boys and girls. This one's a boy." He smiled affectionately at it.


"How do you tell?" Joshua sat on the arm of his couch. Kaito still smiled.


"Mum's first rule: don't tell Shinto secrets and ways to Christians." 


"I'm not Christian, I just happen to be baptized." Joshua remarked. Kaito rolled his eyes.


"See?" He reasoned. "I mean, not your fault, you were only small, but -"


"Shut up." Joshua grinned. "I've got a few boxes of baubles and stuff under the stairs. You won't know this yet, but, honestly, when you move into a new place by yourself and it's just you - you don't feel the urge to do any of this. Thanksgiving stuff -"


"Total bullshit." Kaito opined of the American tradition.


"Christmas." Joshua further explained. "You're just happy to stare at the ceiling and consider it a normal day until you're friends demand to know what you have and haven't done, and when you're coming around for the party and they remind you to bring alcohol." Kaito chuckled.


"Modern day philosophy. When extrovert adopts introvert and whoops his arse into doing stuff." Kaito said.


Forty minutes later, a reasonably well-dress Christmas tree stood before them, baubles coloured gold, gold, silver and white, with a string of gold beads in three-dimensional triangles and a star - made like a gold wire exo-skeleton - on top. "Please tell me you played it safe and just brought Lily soap or perfume?" Kaito suddenly commented after Joshua took a few pictures on his phone.


"I didn't get her anything." Joshua replied, feeling a little bit caught out.


"She's your best friend's wife." Kaito frowned. He never understood how things could be so different in Korea compared to the little village and temple life in the Alps.


"Not quite wife." Joshua looked slightly happy - in a sarcastic way - about it.


"As good as wife." Kaito said. "I saw the way he looks at her. He's thinking about it." And you're not happy about it, aisidu, he thought to himself of Joshua.


"Are you tired, aisidu?" Kaito asked Joshua, running the backs of his fingertips up and down the back of Joshua's neck. Joshua tipped his head back, leaning into the touch. Kaito moved, his lips brushing against Joshua's temple, smelling the washing powder of his clothes, the salt from the swimming pool, and the faint trace of his own skin.


"You know I'm supposed to be the one looking after you right, doengsang?" Joshua said, eyes closed.


"I don't pay attention to stuff like that." Kaito pressed a kiss to Joshua's temple, then his cheekbone. "Come on; let's go to bed."


As Joshua changed and climbed into bed, he laid on his left side, tucked up into the blankets with his hand beneath his face on the pillow. A strange wooden carving hung above the bed; it looked like lines and shapes curving to become a bear's face. "Have you always slept naked?" Joshua asked as Kaito stripped to his natural state.


"Yes. Since I was a small boy." Kaito climbed beneath the covers, lying on his right side, tucked up against Joshua so he wasn't pressed up against him but close. "It's good for your health."


Joshua chuckled a laugh softly. He glanced down, unperturbed, as Kaito's hands stroked against his lower stomach and abdomen as they slid off his pyjama pants and underwear, and when Kaito move over the top of him, pulling his shirt off as gently as if he were a child, Joshua didn't mind either. He shifted closer on the sheets towards Kaito's body; he didn't mind either when Kaito tucked his leg over Joshua's mid-thigh, even though he usually slept on his back, he was no rendered in a side sleeping position.

"It's not "Happy Christmas" for you, is it?" Joshua asked Kaito.


"Winter Solstice." Kaito replied, eyes as black as his hair that spread out like a river across the bed-linen, the curtains in the room closed to block out the moonlight and the lamp street-lighting outdoors while it still snowed.

Chapter Text

"What is that?" Joshua laughed lightly, Kaito hoisting a cloth bag up onto the kitchen island.


"We've got a thing -" He reffered to his Mother's Shinto world. " - call premonition. I had a premonition that you would do this." His head tipped to the side as Joshua regarded him and picked up a black velvet box that Kaito had put on the island bench. "Come on, aisidu. It's decent. That's for Lily, by the way."


The necklace was a rose-quartz carved into a oval shape and pressed into a open sterling-silver locket, on a long and thin chain. Joshua knew Lily would love it, along with a choker version of the necklace, this time a dark red and glassy stone set in a dark brown leather band. It appeared to be a ruby, but Joshua was sure that it wasn't. For one, it would have cost a fortune, and there was no way in hell Kaito would have been able to buy it. 


"Which one has the tattoo under his arm?" Kaito asked. "Seungcheol or Jeonghan?"


"Did I tell you that?" Joshua's mouth fell open in a astounded scoff before he rolled his eyes towards the ceiling.


"Yeah." Kaito's brows came together for a moment. "Out in the back of your car is enough Armangac and Vodka to stock a brewary."


"Please tell me you're kidding." Joshua said, the steadily revolving world coming to a halt out of shock. Fuck, he thought to himself.
"Didn't you notice?!" Kaito exclaimed, his hair swinging about his features.


"I was sex-drunk; I had enough trouble remembering which pedals were the clutch, accelerator and break and which knob either side of the steering wheel was for the windscreen wipers." Joshua said half meekly by way of explanation.


Kaito nearly pissed himself laughing as Joshua just stood there, the jewelry box in one hand with the rose-quartz necklace in the other.


"What the fuck is in there for Jeonghan?" Joshua out the jewelry carefully back inside the case, and waited as Kaito fished around, his long black hair falling in front of his face and hiding his expression. He handed Joshua an envelope, and Joshua was more than relieved when he saw they were tickets to a concert Joji was having in Seoul in May, and a 1980's cassette. On the back was something written in Japanese symbolics that Joshua couldn't read. Joshua didn't question it either; he dared to entertain the thought of just how right Kaito and his Shinto God's could get it.


"I'll have to give this stuff to them, tomorrow. Jeonghan's gone home to see his Mum, and both Cheol and Lily's parents have got together at Cheol's parents house." Joshua said. 


"Don't forget your Mum, either." Kaito said, and out of the bag came a envelope with handwriting Joshua recognised as his Mother's, plus another envelope, which was from his Grandmother. They were Christmas cards. "Don't you ever check your mail-box?" He commented as Joshua looked at him, stunned, the envelopes warm in his hands.


"How do you do this?" Joshua wondered aloud. "You're unbelievable..."


He didn't mean it in a bad way, and Kaito recognized that, kissing him on the cheek. 


"I'll leave you in peace. Happy Christmas, aisidu." Kaito said softly.


"What?" Joshua turned around sharply. "You don't have to go - I mean - like, sorry, what...? How are you getting - there's no trains or trams or cabs."


"I'm going to go home to my Father so we can skype my Mother and get everything cooked for when my paternal grandparents come around; it'll be about the right time in LA to ring your parents and text your old friends. I'll leave you be. Good morning." Kaito kissed Joshua's cheek again, before leaving the house.


It was still snowing.

 

---------------------------------------------

 

"What happened?" Joshua waited patiently on the other end of the line as a crash went off somewhere in his Mother's kitchen.


"You're Father's opened a cupboard and in the process brought out fifty years of pots and pans between Grandma and me." She replied. "I could wring his neck."


Joshua laughed. "Is Dad been picky over the food again?"


"He still swears blind that cranberry sauce was the reason he was on the toilet for three days last year." His Mother sighed. Joshua laughed more. "Miss not having you here." She said.


"I miss you too, Mum. I'll let you go; nothing'll get burnt." Joshua half-smiled to himself. He had rang her, and therefore footing the international-toll cost of the phone call. He didn't mind, but he knew everyone elses would if there was the slightest hint of black on the turkey in the oven.


"Love you, darling. Happy Christmas." They were the last words Joshua heard as his Mother was the first to hang up. A couple of minutes later his phone buzzed with a text from Seungcheol. It was a video of his parents and Lily's parents sniping at each other, and then Lily bashing a fist down on the table, calling them arseholes and telling them to shut up.


We've only been here half an hour and already it's world war three, he texted.


This is why people have Christmas once a year, Joshua texted back. The one day a year when they can lose their shit


My Dad's good impression of her was gone within thirty seconds, Joshua grinned at Seungcheol's obvious weariness.


Don't text me. Sort out the fight. Happy Christmas, Joshua advised.


You dick, Shua. You come and fix it. Happy Christmas


Joshua gave it another half an hour, and called Seong-hun. "Happy Christmas, love." Seong-hun said within the first three rings, picking up. Joshua thought he might have been asleep - it only been ten 'o' clock - and the Christmas Eve parites are the company were always well-supplied with alchol. "How's the morning been so far?"


"My best mate's family met his girlfriend's - they're pretty much a married couple, just not actually - and, well, the Germans and the Russians have nothing on them apparently." Joshua went into his sitting room and turned on the TV, lying down on the couch. Seong-hun laughed. "Are you by yourself this year?" Last year Ha-Yoon had gone to the countryside to see her dozen or so nieces and nephews and her parents.


"The whole crowds coming down here, actually." Seong-hun said. Joshua noted how happy he sounded. "Ha-Yoon gave me a lecture worthy of Hitler about having little kids and pregnant ladies and old people with corns on their feet in the house."


"Cool." Joshua laughed with Seong-hun. "Thought I'd give you a call. Happy Christmas."


"If one of the kids ends up in A&E, someone gives birth in the kitchen, or a walking stick gets put through a Samsung TV you'll hear about it." Seong-hun told Joshua delightedly.


Anyone would usually have a fit about the day that Seong-hun's in for. But he sounds so happy. A lot of gay men are lonely in Korea; especially the older ones, who were - in a way - born in the wrong time. It's rare for them to be able to experience what millions of other straight men. And, when they get to, nobody in the world ever really thinks about it, and realizes just how important it is to them.


Joshua spent the day quietly and by himself, reflecting on the "what-if's". What if he was still in America? What if -


His phone started to ring, and he looked down seeing it was Camille, and that the day was crawling past painfully slow. It had just gone eleven 'o' clock when Joshua felt like it should be four 'o' clock.


"How'd you like to be swamped by French people, my parents plus my Grandpa, a already certainly pissed Welshman, home-practicing tattooing, the rest of the boys and their families, plus a couple of corgi's that have a territory setting around the Christmas tree?" Camille's voice suggested to him when he answered.

 

----------------------------------------

 

Camille's Father was South Korean, but her mother was half Chinese-Singaporean, half French. Which means there were enough people there to feel a neighbourhood. I never really worked out what to make of Camille, and her background. She hadn't got into prostitution because she was disadvantaged and in poverty, and neither had she been addicted to drugs or alcohol, abused by a family member, and she had no children to support. Obviously it means she got into it the same reason I did, then; money.
But, I started to look at it differently. Camille's Mother was easy to spot; she had long natural brown hair that was so light it could be classed as a dark blonde, with heterochromatic eyes and you couldn't really tell she had any Chinese in her apart from the monolid curves of her eyes and her heart-shaped face. Camille's father was interesting looking with a thick nose and equally thick cheekbones; he was bald, and of moderate height, and there didn't seem to be anything remarkable about him, except that he just seemed very strong and trustworthy. The rest of the people at the house were mostly Korean; men and woman who were from the music label Camille and her band worked with. The rest of the band's families were there as well, and there were a few children - nine and ten - running around. They all had the same wide-set eyes as Camille's drummer with the mermaid tattoo. I found Matty too, outside, in the cowl-necked jumper and his leather cords, having a smoke outside in the snow. His hair was a damp mess across his scalp, like it had been after the couple's night. He looked like I felt inside; missing family but there's a surrealist to the independence of being by yourself amongst a dozen and hundreds and thousands of people in a foreign city that somehow you have connection with. Faerie lights and tinsel were strung up along the cornices of the walls in the house; fairie lights fell either side down the stairs, and the heater was turned on inside. Wrapping paper torn and opened - a huge mess of it - had been kicked ans shoved underneath a artificial Christmas tree made up in colours of gold, pink, blue, red, green and white. Michael Buble was playing on a stereo somewhere, and, honestly, I admired Camille then. She had got everything sorted and moving with something that I'd normally associate with my Mum, her Mum; anyone's Mum. Because that's what Mum's seemed to do.


"Hey, honey!" Camille appeared through the crowd in a tight dark red top and a pair of denim bootleg jeans with socks patterned with Christmas puddings. Joshua gave her a hug as suddenly she brought him through the hallway and up the stairs briefly, to where she had a bag on her bed with his name written on it. Before he could find out what was in it, she swore, kissed his cheek, and rushed downstairs, saying something about the oven. Joshua was left standing in her bedroom, the feel of her kiss still burning on his cheek. Eventually he came down the stairs, feeling foolish just being by himself up in Camille's bedroom. After he had regained his sense, he had lain down on her bed for a few minutes, checking in the bag. Inside were about six LP's and three vinyl records, all British.


Joshua tapped Matty's shoulder, coming out into the frozen back garden. The Welshman turned around, raising an eyebrow, before putting his arm around Joshua's back.

"Nadolig llawen, annwyl." He said.


"Is that "Happy Christmas" in Welsh, or...?" Joshua asked. Matty nodded.


"Sut dych chi, Josh-man?" He continued speaking Welsh. Joshua laughed. He had no idea what Matty was saying, so he tried to guess, playing along.


"Yes, it has been snowing a lot." He commented.


"Dw i'n hoffi Eira. Dim, dw i'n cariad Eira. Dych chi'n?" Matty put to him, offering Joshua his cigarette. Joshua shook his head.


"Eira? What's Eira?" He asked, pulling at the hem of Matty's jumper.


"Eira is the snow. Eira's the most beautiful living thing in the whold world." Matty replied, huskily-toned, as though he hadn't used his voice for a long time; Maybe it's just the smoke burning his lungs, Joshua thought. Or maybe that's just what Welshmen sound like at Christmas


"You're not cold?" Joshua quipped.


"You slopes wouldn't know cold weather if it bit you on the arse. No offence." Matty said, glancing side-long at Joshua. "It can be minus two in Monmouth and little lads are still getting out and kicking a football. Don't bother us one bit." He exhaled a huge lungful of smoke into the cold air.


"The house smells great inside." Joshua chuckled. Matty's mouth went up on one side.


"Everythin' under the sun is fuckin' cookin' in there." He pointed inside, curved-shouldered. "Beef, lamb, turkey, chicken, ham, salad, vegetables, vegetarian lasagne, trifles, puddings, some of the stuff you slopes have at this time of year; cater for everyone."


"What's one thing you have back in Wales?"


"Bara birth. Real nice." Matty didn't elaborate; he pulled a empty vitamin bottle out of his pocket, and put the finished cigarette in there, before lighting up a fresh one from his other pocket.


"Are you going to be out here all day?" Joshua asked, feeling the snow seep through his clothes coldly to his skin. By now his hair was as wet as Matty's, and his feet were frozen. "It's a bit awkward inside, isn't you? All the Korean and the stuff you don't really know about." He considered Matty. "What are you even doing in Korea?"


"Me wife died." Matty replied. Joshua's neck cricked, he turned his head so fast to look at Matty. Matty's chest jumped with a internal chuckle that was sad and remembering. "She wasn't a half-cast or anything; she was a little hybrid of a thing. Mum was Welsh-French, and her Dad was Korean. She was a model in Paris. Millie's Mum has a label over in Europe and she wanted a Eurasian chick to be the face of it. That's how we all met and I figured out Millie could sing better than Debbie Harry. I married me wife when I was eighteen. She died five years ago. Hung herself in the living room. She had trouble with depression and stress of her job. She was leaving modeling to do paintin' and all that. Never got on with my family; said they were all inbred cunts. Turns out me old man was right; she was a total spastic." Matty chuckled quietly, thumbing his brow. Joshua felt awful. "Don't ask me shit like that 'cause I don't even know why I said that to you, love." He looked damp-eyed at Joshua, before lighting the cigarette again that had lost it's flame in the cold while he had talked.


"Dw i'n cariad Millie a dyl's." Matty said in Welsh. He threw it on the wet ground and stubbed it out, before picking up the butt and putting it with it's mate in the empty vitamin pill bottle. "Better get inside and get dried off before the old hens start cluckin' about and fuckin' fussin'."


I get that Matty wished he hadn't said that. If he had the opinion about that making an impact, he's right. I didn't get that out of my head; I still haven't.


Joshua watched on with a quiet enjoyment and a interest as when the mountain of food was served an hour later, people were everywhere. People sat in the sitting room on the couches and on the floor, and that continued into the dining room and parts of the kitchen and on the stairs. Joshua and most of the kitchen and dining room watched on before losing it as Camille's grandfather - a lethal looking, extremely tall, thin man - pulled a Christmas cracker with her and the prize - a penknife - landed in Camille's cleavage beneath the neckline of her dark red long-sleeved top.


Before he knew it it actually was four 'o' clock; most of the guests from the record label for the band were leaving, which left most of the people just the band's family members and siblings, Camille's family and Joshua. The two children were the drummer's younger twin siblings, and his Mother piled them into the loungeroom and put on the TV from something that wasn't the news.


"Did you see the carols on the TV last night?" The syntheist commented to Joshua, the second guitarist miming throwing up. 


"No." Joshua shook his head.


"Thank God." Joshua laughed at their reply. 


"Why do you hate it so much?" He asked.


"It's totally sickening." The synthesist said honestly while the second guitarist disappeared off for a bottle of plonk. Joshua was halfway through a mouthful when he suddenly heard Camille's Grandfather say - loudly - "Is that a ladyboy, then?" Joshua choked as Matty and the rest of the boys pissed themselves.


"He's bloody not!" Camille yelled, appearing from the kitchen with a bowl and a whisk tucked under one arm. "He can't help the way he looks. Offically, no chocolate for you." She scolded her Grandfather before disappearing. A few moments later, Joshua was greeted firsthand by Camille's parents.


Within ten seconds of talking with them, I realized that they didn't realize she was a escort as well as having her music career. 


"And what do you do, dear?" Camille's parents conversed with him in English; Camille's Mother studied his face as she spoke, a champagne glass near her cheek.


"I'm a legal clerk." Joshua brought out the old lie.


"Oh, for which company?" She asked.


Horrifically, Joshua was saved from having to answer Camille's Mother by Matty promptly passing out on the floor.

 

--------------------------------------

 

It turned out that the syntheist's Father was a Doctor. He straightened up from listening to Matty's lungs and heartbeat, the Welshman lying on the couch with his feet dangling over the edge. "I've got only one thing to say about that." He said, and it was all he managed as suddenly, Camille, her Grandfather and the rest of the band nearly pissed themselves laughing. 


"Yeah, looks like the corpse bride in a pair or cords, doesn't he?" Camille remarked, beaming widely.


"Reaper before Christmas or whatever the fuck that Tim Burton film is." The drummer said.


"Nightmare before Christmas." His little sister - the twin siblings fraternal - corrected.


"Thanks, baby." Camille cuddled her.


"Does he take tablets? Any sort?" The synthesists' Father asked sternly.


"No, he doesn't Dad. And he's not on drugs either. He drinks a bit, smokes a bit - normal stuff, not a weed - and he drops. Sometimes. It's not a big thing." The synthethist said.
"You should know better; this isn't right and this isn't healthy and this is not normal." He glared at his son.


"He's fine, probably had too much soju." Camille's Grandfather cut in dismissively.


It was seven 'o' clock before Matty woke up. They had only realized he was gone because the second guitarists Mother had gone to check on him, and screamed that he had disappeared when Matty had just been upstairs having a piss.


Joshua was relieved when the evening was finally over; Camille's Grandfather was a tenacious old bastard with a consistently malicious expression who had no kindness, respect, civility or common decency to any woman in the room apart from Camille. It pissed off every other man in the room, Joshua included. Both the drummer, second guitarist and synetheists Mother's and the syntheist's Father had made comments about Camille's body and her weight. The synthesist's Father thought she was underweight, whereas the women thought she could do with a losing a "couple of pounds". 


"There's nothing wrong with her body you ugly old fucking bags." Matty had growled darkly, looking vicious, making an appearance in the sitting-room as the desserts was dished out. The women had closed their mouths as Camille's Grandfather appeared with a huge knife, before asking Camille sweetly if she could help with the trifle.


"Sorry if I made you look like an idiot in front of your family." Matty whispered to Camille, holding her hands in the kitchen and leaning against the bench beside the oven before he left. Joshua had been dragged into looking for a pair of boots for the drummer's little sister, they having gone missing from the hallway. Joshua had seen Matty giving Camille a kiss on the forehead and in the packing most of the wrapping paper from earlier that morning into a bin-liner and putting it outside into the bins.
Joshua thought it was amazing that Camille wasn't tearing her hair out. 


"I think Mum and Dad just figured out why you haven't left yet." Camille locked the front door when everyone was gone, before putting her arm around Joshua's waist and leaning her head against his shoulder as they went up the stairs. Joshua was ready to fall asleep, but he knew if he did he'd be stark awake in the early hours. The promise of Camille's sex was enough to keep him awake, anyhow.


The only problem with gatherings like this is that it suffocates you until you've just had enough, and you end up telling everyone to fuck off, or you end up experiencing a night like this one. The truth is I don't like any of them. Camille and her band are alright, but their families are a bunch of arseholes. And Matty's wife...maybe she's the reason he got addicted to cocaine and methamphetamine.

Chapter Text

I'm a high-class escort but there's a whole level above me. A £600 an hour, international living, sports car, Scandinavian-designed home, luxury clothing and shoes level. They're known as courtesans, whether they are men and women. They have only two or four long-term clients, and they earn a fortune. And Emerald's Escorts wants me to be one on their books


"Jeonghan?" Joshua called him.


"It's seven 'o' clock on Friday morning." Jeonghan answered him. Joshua heard him yawn, and a clunk in the background.


"And right now you're in a staff room over a litre of coffee." Joshua remarked humorously.


"What's happened?" Jeonghan asked.


"What do you mean?" Joshua immediately got defensive. He hated it when anyone did that. His Mother, his Father, any of his clients, Jeonghan, Seungcheol - if he wasn't fine, they would know. He'd put it across.


"You sound like your on drugs and you're having a heart-attack." Jeonghan added.


Joshua put his phone down on his bed and purposely delayed responding, annoyed. "I've got something quite cool happening this morning, and, I need your help." He eventually said.


"What sort of help?" Jeonghan sounded cautious. This is the problem with phone-calls, Joshua thought. The person on the other end can never see your face


"What the fuck do I put on?" Joshua said simply. 


Jeonghan laughed. "What's actually happening? Because otherwise I'd say just wear your birthday suit."


"I've got the opportunity to upgrade my career and I'm having a meeting with a new agency that's run by two women; it's the top of up-market sex business in South Korea."


"Fuck. When did this happen?"


"At ten 'o' clock so hurry up."


Jeonghan laughed. "Do you really need me to style you?"


"You and Cheol complain I don't involve you in anything so for the first time I am genuinely trying to. Comply and help me?"


Jeonghan just laughed. "Alright, alright. I know you're gay for your work, but don't dress gay. Not sparkles."


"I don't own "sparkles" you idiot. You know this."


"Ok. White shirt, definitely. What are you supposed to put across?"


"I'm a gentleman, I'm classy, I've got maturity, I'm experienced - I have to bring some samples of my clothes and shoes with me, as well. Plus, depending on if I'm hired or not..." Joshua trailed off, before putting his phone down on his bed for a moment and saying "Fuck, fuck, fuck" to himself, silently.


"What's the other thing?"


"New photographs." Joshua said quickly, trying to get it over and done with. "And, look -"


"I can do it. No problem." Jeonghan told him. 

 

------------------------------------------

 

Joshua approached the front door of the Emerald's Escort Agencies business; it was a series of buildings built with two front doors in a German Victorian style. As he guessed the structures themselves were built in the midle 1990's, he saw through a front woman two women in their mid-forties; one had halzenut-ombre hair in a wispy thick style more assiocated with much older women, and the second woman had thick black hair in a french knot at the back of her scalp.


"Jisoo." The woman with the French knot dressed in a cream wool dress with navy leather boots answered the door; her make-up was done simply but prettily, and she shook his hand. Her skin was soft and smelt of a expensive hand-cream that Joshua guessed had retinol in it; it wasn't just faces and necks that older women wanted wrinkles to not form on. Legs, elbows, hands, upper arms, breasts. "I'm Yunjee. How lovely of you to come." Joshua studied her face, and she really was handsome, despite her older age.


"This way, please." Yunjee guided him inside down the hallway and made a sharp left into a sitting room with a huge wood-fireplace and classical design of a upper-class English home in the Victorian period. The colour-scape of the room interior design reminded Joshua of his own house; polished floorboards, cream colour rugs and carpet, the old-world furniture, nude colours with soft greys and blues and olives. 


"Are you nervous?" Yunjee asked him. He sat on a couch with a younger girl beside him - perhaps about nineteen - in a leopard-skin slipdress with a tight black skivvy underneath and black tights in black ballet flats. Opposite across a wooden coffee table in armchairs sat both women, head of the agency business.


"No." Joshua said as Yunjee poured cups of tea for her and her business partner who Joshua learned was called Sonoya. "...A little bit. Yeah."


Sonoya laughed warmly, eyes like her laugh taking in his visual. She sat elegantly cross-legged, her hands clasped together on her knees. She was in black high-heels, tailored boot-legged trousers, and a soft grey knit top with a v-neck that only showed her décolletage.


"You know Kim Seong-hun?" Sonoya asked.


"Yes." Joshua replied.


"He's a good sort." Sonoya nodded. She regarded the bag of clothes Joshua had brought with him.


"Are these examples of your wardrobe?" Yunjee asked.


"Uh - yes. I was told I should..." Joshua looked down to the bag and then back to Yunjee and Sonoya.


"Oh, absolutely!" Yunjee assured him. "Shall we dive in?" Joshua went to hand the bag to Yunjee, but the girl to his left gestured with a smile to take it instead. Joshua pushed some of his hair back, trying not to be nervous. Been under the scruitiny of women in a capacity like this was a new thing entirely. Gerda hadn't done any of this. She just took 40% of his money.


"Shall we go through one or two things?" Sonoya suggested. "How old are you, Jisoo, just for the record?"


"Twenty-four." Joshua replied.


"Ok." Sonoya answered. Joshua saw Yunjee look down to her cup of tea and the girl in the leopard print dress pull out one of his suit jackets. "Well, our clients like their companions like they like their wine. Expensive and...mature."


"A man who wants company with someone for weeks wants someone with life experience." Yunjee said. Joshua nodded, understanding. "Something to say."


"I'm twenty-seven." Joshua lied. "I'm sorry - I don't know why I said twenty-four. Nobody usually believes I'm even past eighteen."


Sonoya and Yunjee gave a understand smile, both nodding. Joshua couldn't help but be incredulous that they believed it. "We're a partnerhood." Sonoya said. "We're not an agency." Beneath her words lay others; You don't need to lie about your age so you can still keep to the client's fanasty, and the money. You don't need to contort yourself in a level as high as this just to do it


"Sonoya and I felt that there wasn't really anywhere providing upmarket quality in this industry, so we thought we'd do it." Yunjee said.


Joshua couldn't help but smile. "Wow. That's really good."


"This is nice." Yunjee and Sonoya looked quite starkly, as if actually shocked, as the girl pulled out the bugandy lace bodice. Joshua rested his neck in his hand, his elbow on the arm of the couch, thinking quickly.


"It doesn't really shock you that even though I'm a man clients might want a bit of a feminine touch?" He put to Yunjee and Sonoya, his eyes sliding from the lingerie to their faces. The girl pulled out the Valentino dress, and Joshua saw Sonoya's expression change. She looked like a woman who read Vogue, and knew Valentino's collections each season.


"Where do you wear this?" The girl asked.


"Expensive parties if I get asked to attend, or otherwise functions where I don't want people to even know what gender I am. Bit of fun with the client." Joshua said honestly.
"Yes, this is good on you." She said. "You should avoid dark blue, green, orange, and purple."


"Why do you want to be a courtesan, Jisoo?" Yunjee asked.


"That's a good question." Joshua shifted his position. "I'm ready to take the next step up the ladder of my career. I'm really proud of it, and what I do. I don't see it as a demoralizing or in anyway a degrading job. I'm proud. I've got great communication skills and all the relationships with my clients at the current agency are functional and comfortable. I want something new. A new challenge."


"At this level, it isn't about the client." Sonoya said. "It's about the woman - or, in your case, the man."


"It's about languages, personality, social etiquette...golf, knowing how to ski." Joshua listened to Yunjee.


"We're not just about servicing the client, if you will." Sonoya elaborated. "We're genuine companions. What you might call lifestyle sponsors."


As he listened, Joshua thought to himself. Either they have successfully got through life and this industry with no sense, or they've gotten so rich they can afford to not have any realism of what things are. "But it's still all sex in the end." He stated. Sonoya chuckled awkwardly at his words, while Yunjee and the other girl - now sitting back on the couch - went silent. It was beginning to snow again outside, but Joshua thought that none of the women realized. He watched it for a few moments, entranced, while the women got over what he had said.


"Excuse me, is it alright if I use your bathroom?" He asked them, breaking the ice. 

 

---------------------------------------

 

Joshua paced back and forth in the bathroom, having thrown a bit of toilet paper into the toilet after a short time and flushed it, trying to be convincing. Before he had gone upstairs, Yunjee and Sonoya had set a test by him by speaking English - which he passed with flying colours - and then French, which he had no idea about. In school in California, they had done Indonesian and Mandarin. The only phrases he knew in French were a quote about moonlight, something to do with a post office, greetings, and  a phraze he couldn't remember the English translation of - "pet a' pois". That in question had come from a British Sitcom, "Blackadder". A French Revolutionary character had said to Rowan Atkinson in the program, "You English all say Frenchman are great lovers, but I am hung like a baby carrot with a couple of pet a' pois".


"Hi." Joshua appeared back in the sitting room to see the girl, Sonoya and Yunjee sitting together on the couch, talking about him. "I know things haven't gone as well as they should have." The girl crossed her arms while Sonoya and Yunjee simply looked at him, giving attention. "And I know what I said in French was, "Which way is the post office under the Parisian moonlight on a night made for lovers - Good morning, goodnight", but -" He inhaled a deep breath. "But people who know me would say that I'm intelligent...I know how the world works, how people work - the good side and the bad side. I'm discreet, I'm strong, I'm a self-respecting man and just because I cater for the gay market it doesn't mean I don't like women or I look down on them in any respect. Even through all this, I still do what I do, and I'm very good at it, even though many other people would not ever be able to grasp the idea or not be revolted by it." Joshua watched the three women as they regarded him.


"I like him." The girl turned her head to Yunjee and Sonoya.

 

-----------------------------------------

 

Joshua called Seungcheol - knowing that Jeonghan would be at work - the moment he got back into his car. "I got it!" he said. "I got the job! They said I need to grow my hair out a bit and learn a new language and I need new photos - which I've already got sorted out - but I did it, Cheol!" Joshua grinned widely. "I'm in! Too, is it alright for me to ask Jeonghan to take photos of me in not that much clothing so rich men can decided whether or not they want to have sex with me?"


"Well make sure he edits out your flaws and doesn't take videos." Seungcheol managed before bursting out laughing.

Chapter Text

Photographs have a huge impact on the sort of client you get. 


"Go for the tight black shirt." Jeonghan searched through Joshua's walk-in wardrobe in the professional wardrobe. "Actually, no, for the grey - no, no, black."


"Who do you think you are? Gok Wan?" Joshua joked.


"I'm not that camp." Jeonghan defended himself.


"Says the guy whose spent the best part of five years groping and slapping my arse, getting his hand up the inside of my thighs and up my shirt. Oh, and you used to watch me in the shower." Joshua pointed out. Jeonghan found a belt and flicked it through the air at Joshua's backside. It him with a sharp snap, making both he and Jeonghan grin like idiots after the initial shock and the sting.


"That wasn't me, that was one your boyfriends -"


"Jeon Wonwoo was not my boyfriend." Joshua argued. He hadn't thought about Wonwoo for ages. He had briefly been a appearance in Joshua's life, having made sure he got to a hospital after he slipped on a wet floor in a café and cracked the back of his skull open.


The more expensive you are, the less skin your show. 


"What we should do...we need a nice bridge or something, by a river. Everybody likes a guy with a sense of nature and other...natural global...stuff." Jeonghan suggested. "Or...lean against the windows in the living room and I'll try not to get any of the neighbours in the shot."


Joshua knew the routine. He tucked his hands into the pockets of his jeans, and lowered his chin slightly as the camera clicked away in Jeonghan's hands. Jeonghan laughed as Joshua tilted his head back against the glass, pulling at the bottom of his shirt out of frame, showing a few centimeters of his chest.


Collarbones are good, but no nipples. Not at this level. Above waist shots are great if you wish your legs were longer. 


Joshua laid down on his bed - the duvet straetigcally arranged aesthetic and messy in creases - shirtless, with the jeans slung low on his hips. He tipped his head to the side, his arms above his head, letting Jeonghan do his work before suggesting putting a belt around his neck.


"What...?" Jeonghan watched on as Joshua demonstrated thus, messing his hair up attractively and tightening the belt so it was like a choker beneath his jaw, and the leftover length of the belt ran like the body of a snake across the sheets above his head. One hand tucked it into the pocket of his jeans, Joshua gazed alluring into the camera, one thumbed slipped beneath the leather of the belt that Jeonghan had hit him with. The eye contact he caught briefly with Jeonghan made for more sensual photographs, and Joshua would bet money that he and Jeonghan would have created the best to be on the Emerald's International Escorts portfolio.


But sitting down and looking like a God to worship is just as good. 


Jeonghan sat on the floor, focusing on Joshua's adam's apple as he lined up a close-up shot of Joshua sitting backwards on a chair, his legs either side of the chairs back with his arms laid together across the back, and then another shot of Joshua sitting on a 1930's era ottoman upstairs in the professional room which nearly had Jeonghan sitting in-between Joshua's legs in an effort to capture the image.


The lying-down pose is a good one for hiding a stomach and making your arms good, your waist trimmer, and her neck and jawline pop. 


Jeonghan swore as he stood on the bed again, his feet either side of Joshua's hips, balancing on the mattress as he adjusted the scope of the camera lens. "You're going to get more work than you can handle. What are you going to do if some women want you?"


"I've got older." Joshua replied. "I think I could deal with it whereas I was terrified when I was younger."


"Women are going to want you, no kidding." Jeonghan stated.


"I won't be the toy-boy of a woman whose no better than Gerda." Joshua opined. Jeonghan lowered that camera, looking at him interestedly. "Sorry how it sounds, but that's just my opinion." Joshua chucked his chin, coaxing Jeonghan back into doing his job.


But if you still don't look handsome enough - or classy enough - go to monochrome, or a 4K resolution.


"This looks really good." Jeonghan said as Joshua finished uploading the images and submitting them to the online platform that came set up with the Emerald's contract. 


"You look pretty good when you make an effort." Jeonghan looked down to his camera, and flicked through some of the images. Joshua had chose to use only seven images for the website, out of the thirty-six in total that they had taken.


"You'd be great doing this job." Joshua typed on the keyboard, gazing at the screen intently. "You're got a pretty kind of face and a dirty personality."


Jeonghan scoffed, hitting Joshua's arm. "You just say that so you can do foursomes with me." Jeonghan said, raising an eyebrow. Joshua made a "aah" sound in return.


"No." He said, making Jeonghan grin. "You'd have to start at the bottom and work up though."


"Where's the bottom?" Jeonghan leant his head against Joshua's shoulder.


"Not the actual bottom. The bottom of the up-market. Gerda's high-class, and then you've got a level below her, and a level above. The level above her is Emeralds, the level below Gerda is "accidentally" getting sent to stag do's, business sex parties, and girls having to stuff bits of sponge up themselves when they have their periods." Joshua explained.


"Surely there's a human rights case in that?" Jeonghan frowned.


"No, welcome to prostitution, Hannie." Joshua smiled brightly; it was completely sincere. He sighed, rolling his head back on his shoulders. It was past Midnight; by the time Jeonghan had knocked off work and had come around, plus the two hours they had done the photos for, time had flown by. "Do you just want to stay here for the night? You have to be up by five 'o' clock to get into your work - it just saves you having to drive home in the dark."


"I drove here in the dark." Jeonghan pointed out, but nevertheless took up Joshua's offer. What he didn't know was that that night Joshua slept in the bed he used for work, and Jeonghan slept in the bed that Joshua did every other night.


"Shua? You awake?" Barely half an hour after they both said "Goodnight", Joshua was turning up the bedside lamp with Jeonghan climbing onto the bed beside him, on top of the covers. He was fully dressed, even though Joshua thought Jeonghan should know better than to sleep in his clothes. "I had something happen the other day, can I tell you?"
"You know I'm the confessional-booth for you and Cheol." Joshua said. "Come underneath the covers, don't get cold."


"There's this girl at work who does the marketing and consultancy work for people wanting to put ad's on the TV; her name's Saesang and we get on really well. She's not a girlfriend and I'm not her boyfriend, but we're good friends. Except, I met her best friend yesterday when the caterer's brought up lunch for us in the studio. She's absolutely gorgeous but...it'd be like telling Lily that I've got the hots for her little sister or something, do you know what I mean?" Jeonghan told Joshua. "And if things do change a bit, I've got to tell her that I'm loving her friends..." he broke off with a groan. "This is why Seungcheol stays put with Lily even if she says the wrong things sometimes and I don't bother dating. Like, who wants to be single or like this? Everyone says about been young and the adventure of falling in love and it makes me so cynical and I feel - I just feel old." Jeonghan looked at Joshua, their breath mingling together a bit. Joshua's smelt better; it smelt like his toothpaste.


"I get that but it's only sometimes." Joshua smiled, but he didn't want to offend Jeonghan. "Between me and you and Cheol there's always a roller coaster of things happening. It's never normal."


"Of course it's not normal. You're an uber whore now, Seungcheol's dating a firecracker and is trying to get enough money to buy a house, and I'm a camera-man." Jeonghan replied. Joshua ducked his head, laughing. "Give me advice."


"What do you want me to say?" Joshua said.


"You're old. Old people and old things are supposed to be wise."


"Most old things and old people are just belligerent." Joshua rolled onto his back.


"Be belligerent to me then." Jeonghan gazed at Joshua. "That girl the other day, Camille. You know what."


"That's different, Hannie. All her friends are guys." Joshua kicked Jeonghan under the sheets.


"That's not an issue for you." Jeonghan commented delicately.


"Don't you even start." Joshua looked at him. "I'm straight."


"Except from nine to five. And me." Jeonghan didn't break his gaze.


"Go to sleep, it's -" Joshua checked the time over Jeonghan's shoulder. "It's four minutes past two."


"Hmm."


"You can stay here if you want, but take your shirt off. It'll smell in the morning and be wrinkled and sweaty." Joshua said.


"If I mess things up, I blame it on you not telling me what to do." Jeonghan remarked.


Joshua rolled over onto his other side, and didn't answer for a good ten minutes. "Pretend you don't have feelings for her if it's too difficult to deal with."


"Yeah?" Jeonghan mumbled.


"Yeah."

Chapter Text

You know when you know you shouldn't do something, but you just can't help yourself?


Joshua walked into the restaurant where Gerda was taking the monthly checks from the escorts she had on her book, and found her easily in a booth. Across the table from her sat two girls Joshua had never seen before in his life, and he got mildly irritated by how they stared at him. Gerda regarded him drily, twisting a pen in-between her fingers.
"You're releasing me and getting a hefty payment; I'm with Emerald's International now." Joshua said. "Which means I'm my own boss, you don't get 40% of anything, never again will I fill in for your mates girls are strip clubs as naked waiters, and you don't send me clients that try to assault me in my own house." Joshua turned on his heel and left, but a sharp snap of bony fingers went through the air.


"Aren't you forgetting something?" Gerda asked. Joshua walked back over to the table. he wrote out a check in her lodge book for her, before walking away again. A second later, he was snapped back to the table.


"I'll write you a reciept." Gerda raised a thin eyebrow, signing her name on a docket, and blowing the ink dry before giving it to Joshua.


I hate her, I hate her, I hate her, what a total bloody bitch, Joshua thought, finally free to go back to his car and drive back home. That thing out of fucking"IT" has nothing on that cow

 

---------------------------------------

 

Part of breaking the contract with Gerda was that I had to work one last week with her and the clients for me on her books. That means twenty-one clients in one week. It sounds like a lot, but it's really not that bad.


Can you see me bullshitting yet?


"You don't usually smoke." Kaito and Joshua sat on the section of the roof above Joshua's pressional bedroom. Joshua had just taken a burning-tip cigarette out of Kaito's fingers and inhaled on it.


"You actually sure you want to wait up here while I fuck an old man down there?" Joshua pointed at the roof tiles. He winced slightly at the dry heat of the smoke in his throat and climbing up his sinuses. He knew how to smoke, but it wasn't an art he had perfected to a satate of naturalism like Kaito had.


"It's all money, aisidu, it's cool." Kaito nodded.


"And, for God's sake, if one of the neighbours sees you, don't wave or give them the finger." Joshua laughed, remembering one time Kaito had been spotted on the roof. The neighbour had seen him, and had called the Police, even though joshua was home at the time and knew Kaito was up there. It had resulted in Kaito calling the neighbour - since moved out - a "Cunt" and giving him the finger for having Joshua to have to explain why he had a teenager on the roof of his house.


"I can't believe the pigs -" Kaito's term for the police. "Didn't believe you owned this house."


"It's sort of understandable." Joshua nudged Kaito's ribs. "Now how to I get back down, genius?"


"Spiderman."


"No." Joshua shook his head. "Not Spiderman."


"Why not Spiderman." Kaito asked.


"I can't do Spiderman." Joshua inhaled some more of Kaito's cigarette.


"You just don't like heights." Kaito ran his fingers through Joshua's hair.


"No, I don't like bugs. Millipeeds, cockroaches, spiders, worms." Joshua corrected Kaito.


Kaito grinned. "Just walk a bit over to the other section of roof, and get down onto the balcony outside the sitting room. I'll climb back through here, come downstairs, and unlock the doors."


"You'd make a great career burglar." Joshua opined. "You really have no idea how weird it is to walk across the roof of your house."


"This house is weird. Give it another ten years and - didn't you have a look at the foundations when you bought this thing?" Kaito said. "You sitting room's on the ground foot by it's actually fifteen feet off the ground. You put a pool in the garden you could dive off the balcony, no kidding."

 

-------------------------------------------

 

I shouldn't have laughed. I really shouldn't have laughed. And Kaito definitely shouldn't have terrified the guy like that. Kaito shouldn't have brought Seungcheol and Jeonghan around to the back of the house either. But, then, it's my fault. I shouldn't have had the curtains open.


"Fuck, that's sexy!" Kaito yelled out as Seungcheol whipped around not to see, and Jeonghan began to nearly piss himself laughing at the sight of Joshua on his hands and knees on the bed, and the sight of the slightly portly Sung Charles quickly pulling out of him and running for his life and privacy out of the room and away from the side of the windows. "What?" Kaito shrugged his shoulders. "It's your last week, right?"


Trust an eighteen-year-old to act like an eighteen-year-old. I feel sorry for Sung Charles and for Seungcheol. I don't think Seungcheol will ever get that image out of his head, and when you're paying me £350 an hour for my body, having total discretioncy is number one. Until you have someone in your life like Kaito who decides to pull a stunt like this

Not bothering to cover himself up, he went over to the window and was met with a blast of freezing cold air as he opened it. "And what was that in aid of?" He exclaimed at Kaito who just smiled.


"You're not Gerda's bitch anymore. Why should you have to fuck them? Her animals can go somewhere else." Kaito replied simply.


"What the fuck - you two!" Joshua called down to Jeonghan and Seungcheol who were standing on the grass, hunch-shouldered. Due to the bizarre angle of the slope that the house was built on, there was a set of stairs from the garden below going to the balcony that came out from the professional room, that was twenty-two feet above the ground of the back garden.


"All shit hit the roof with them. And as you generally work at nights -" Kaito cut to the chase as Joshua glared at him. "Seungcheol's woman left him and Jeonghan broke someone's nose and now is being sued."


"You're..." Joshua was lost for words.


"Jeonghan wants to know how much Viagra you took; you look like a horse." Kaito added, pointing down at Joshua's erected penis. 


"Ever thought that might just be real?" He scoffed.


"You're bleeding." Kaito pointed at the crook of Joshua's neck and shoulder. Before he could protest, he was in Kaito's hands and Kaito's tongue was on his skin. Joshua pushed Kaito away, speaking gibberish for a moment as he saw Jeonghan and Seungcheol waiting on the grass huddled in their coats, watching the pornographic display above.
"Get in here!" Joshua yelled down to Seungcheol and Jeonghan. He went back to the bed and sat on it, covering himself up with the sheets and tucking them around his waist as Jeonghan and Seungcheol appeared on the balcony. Kaito helped them inside, grinning broadly while Jeonghan looked reasonably heady and normal, and Seungcheol looked like he had just been told he had three months to live and because the bowel condition is terminal. Jeonghan and Seungcheol sat on the end of the bed; Kaito hovered in the background before climbing out of the window and up onto the roof.


"Where's he going?" Seungcheol blurted to Joshua, pointing at Kaito.


"Where are you going?" Joshua inquired.


"Having a smoke!" Kaito yelled.


"Alright." Joshua said as Kaito's lower body disappeared and a thump was heard on the roof.


"This is mental." Seungcheol said. He was pink-eyed and hollow looking. Jeonghan moved closed to him on the bed, studying his face before glancing at Joshua. He decided for Jeonghan's problem first; the older man was pale and sickly looking.


"Who the hell is suing you?" Joshua asked. Jeonghan went even paler.


"You're not going to like it." Jeonghan warned.


"Oh, shit." Joshua deflated. "Just say, come on."


"He's been having an affair and somehow during the sex her nose got smashed in." Seungcheol filled in blandly as Jeonghan's mouth just came open and gave silence. "The woman is...you know that Grand Design's house they're filming down the bottom of his street? The couple - the woman is the wife."


"How old is she again?" Joshua asked.


"Thirty-eight."


"Fuck, Jeonghan!" Joshua exclaimed. "But what about the girl at work - her best friend -"


"Is married and is the..." Seungcheol laughed as it all fell into place. Joshua stared at Jeonghan.


"Well, that was conniving." Joshua opined. 


"He's going to have to stay here because, like, everyone knows where his house is." Seungcheol added, itching his scalp. "The reason why everything's fucked-up and serious is because the husband knows that she was lying when she said she walked into a light-pole. He first accused Jeonghan of violence against women and sexual assault, but he's just settled on adultery."


"And you're going to have to make room for him because Lily's kick him out and all of his stuff is in the back of the car." Jeonghan finally regained the power of speech. He and Seungcheol looked at Joshua.


"Please say something."


"Two days ago it was Christmas." Joshua exhaled heavily.

 

------------------------------------

 

They were going to sort out some sort of bedding for Jeonghan tomorrow; at that time Seungcheol was asleep in the spare room, and Joshua was in the professional bed. He hadn't want Seungcheol or Jeonghan to have to sleep on a matress that he performed sex on, but, nevertheless, Jeonghan had said that he wasn't sleeping on the couch. Joshua was lying on his back, one arm beneath his head; he was reading the news in English on his phone; it was all the usual stuff. The British Government having a kick-boxing class with the German, French and Irish Governments, the Trump impeachment which would never happen in a million years, sweltering temperatures or chaos caused by snow; in Russia there was snow ten foot deep and in Australia most of New South Wales and Queensland were on fire, giving Sydney a smoke haze for the residents to breathe in eleven times greater than the normal measure. The lamps on both bedside tables were turned on, and the TV in the sitting room upstairs played a late-night Makjang drama on so quiet volume that Jeonghan and joshua couldn't hear it. Jeonghan lay on his side, making an effort to try to get to sleep. Joshua could see in the reflection of his phone Jeonghan's slow long blinks before sinking into one or two minute periods of total stillness, his eyelids like lead weights. Joshua stopped moving his thumb on the phone screen as Jeonghan's hand moved over his chest and down his stomach to his abdomen, sliding beneath the waistband of his pyjama pants. The bed shifted as Jeonghan moved closer, pressing his mouth against the spot of skin at the crook of Joshua's neck and shoulder that Sung Charles had bitten earlier, and the same spot that Kaito's tongue had ran over, cleaning him of the blood.


"Jeonghan, what are you doing?" Joshua asked, putting his phone down somewhere on the bed. Suddenly, Jeonghan's mouth was covering his; despite everything, Joshua's toes curled in on themselves. His knees rose up and instinctively parted for Jeonghan's body to settle in-between. Joshua just looked as Jeonghan as he took his mouth of Joshua's, the younger having been unresponsive to the kiss.


"Can you get me off?" Jeonghan's fingertips stroked Joshua' hair back from his face.


"What's up with you?" Joshua said. "You realize you've wrecked someone's marriage? If it wasn't for the fact that Seungcheol needs to be supported right now and that your girlfriend's husband will bash your head in if you were at home - you wouldn't be here. Do you understand what you've done? Do you even care about this woman at all?"
"She's an adult. Her daughter's grown up, too. Her husband and her have been on the rocks, but they wanted to see if building a dream they had for years would help. She just wanted sex. She was scared of turning into a frustrated bag and her husband hadn't been together with her for five years."


"I think she might have been lying." Joshua opined. A funny look came over Jeonghan's face; he conceded Joshua's words.


"I...I don't know. She's gorgeous, though." Jeonghan said quietly, almost begging Joshua to understand.


"And now you're doing this?" Joshua questioned.


"I'm only a few years older than her daughter. We're just messing about." Jeonghan tried to explain, his elbows either side of Joshua's head.


"We're too old to be this dumb. You, me, her, Lily." Joshua replied. "We're too old to be this fake."


"You're not fake. Cheol's not fake." Jeonghan pressed his mouth again to Joshuas, feeling the tips of his hair in-between his fingertips. Joshua didn't kiss him back, but neither did his mouth stay firmly shut, keeping him out.


"That's right." Joshua said. "But everyone else is." He pushed Jeonghan, the older falling back in a stumble, his head hanging off the bottom edge of the bed. He gasped as suddenly Joshua's mouth engulfed him, Jeonghan's hips rolling up into a bridge at the contact.


Why let him in my mouth? Why do this when Seungcheol is just down the hallway either dead to the world or stark awake, looking at the ceiling and trying to figure out the tatters of his relationship with Lily. I know he'd be thinking about his Grandmother's wedding ring. I hoped he brought that with him and didn't leave it in the apartment for Lily to find.


Why did I use my mouth instead of my hands when I consented to him? Or even demand that if he wants it he can come on his own with his mouth on me?
A part of me still cares, still worries. I wanted to tell him that everything was going to be okay even though he's done things that I never thought he would do. Absolutely, is it in his nature, but I thought that between me and Seungcheol - and, yeah, even the existence of Lily - that he just wouldn't do that stuff. They way we all worked, we worked things into each other and worked things out of each other. Smoothing out the creases and untying the knots and fixing split ends.


I wasn't going to tell him any of this in words; to me that was just hypocrisy. So I put it to him that way. At the end of the day, oral sex is oral sex. But he knows me and I know him.


I knew he'd feel even worse after it. I don't always get the things that Jeonghan does, but I get it most of the time. He's pretty much the same with me. Until he isn't.

Chapter Text

"When does your courtesan stuff start? New clients and that?" Seungcheol asked Joshua the next morning. Joshua winced. He was looking at the screen of his phone.


"You alright?" Seungcheol checked. Joshua's mouth went into a funny shape. It was a text from Lily.


"Yeah, it's just my Mum." Joshua walked out of the kitchen, leaving the lie behind. Jeonghan came and sat at the island bench with Seungcheol the both of them quiet.


"When are you going to give him the money?" Seungcheol asked. Jeonghan's head filled with white noise.


"What do you mean?" He said.


"I could hear you down the hall. That was revolting." Seungcheol responded.


Jeonghan went silent. 


"Quarter of an hour? That's £87.50. Or because he's had a career upgrade it's £150." Seungcheol said, stirring his coffee aimlessly.


"I know you're upset about Lily -" Jeonghan began but Seungcheol cut him off.


"I can't believe you sometimes." Seungcheol laughed sarcastically.


"How are we going to make this work?" Jeonghan stopped speaking as footsteps sounded.


"Lily wants to know if you're alright." Joshua appeared back down in the kitchen. "You won't answer your phone."


"I don't want to talk to her." Seungcheol pushed his mug away from him.


"Ok, I will." Joshua put the phone to his ear. "He said he doesn't want to talk to you." Joshua put the call onto speaker-phone.


"Tell him he can shove his head up his arse, then!" Lily thundered. "He told my Mum she was a bitch!"


"Because she is and no woman punches my Dad and expects him to not hit her back!" Seungcheol yelled. Jeonghan's mouth came over. Seungcheol hadn't mentioned that their parents had starting hitting each other. Verbal abuse, yes, but that was a immacuetly unvarnished truth.


"Oh, so you had a nice Christmas then?" Joshua inquired, in a almost innocent temperament. Jeonghan laughed. Lily laughed as well.


"Come home, babe." She suddenly said to Seungcheol. Her mood and opinion of him had changed in an instance.


"I don't want to see your face right now." Seungcheol said before walking off, leaving his coffee on the island bench and Jeonghan and Joshua.


Men don't need to talk as much as women, until we get into moods and times where we are comfortable and then we go on for years. Seungcheol had been able to lecture me on my life and try to get me to grow up while trying to endorse sort of a epiphany on me. He can talk to me for hours about my life and what Jeonghan's doing, But he couldn't tell me about Lily. He can't tell her about that ring in the velvet box either.


My mum likes certain British films; in their culture the English are everything. English are true equality; they're mad and they're sensible, they're high and their sober, they're disastrous and hilarious and most of the time it's chaos because things are up the shit or it is heaven. British films and British filmmakers teach you about life. They teach you how to live. They teach you how to be a man without any of these stupid things like "feminity", "toxic masculinity", "sins of the forefathers", "behavioural identity", and "stereotype" coming into it. It's just peaceful. It's peaceful with days like this


"What's he doing now?" Lily asked. Joshua imagined her with her hand pressed against his face.


"He's going to sleep for a while." Joshua replied. "You alright?"


"What a stupid question." Lily chuckled deresively. She hung up. Joshua looked at Jeonghan before going upstairs. He lay down on the spare bed on his back beside Seungcheol, who was turned on his side, his back to Joshua.


"Am I cold?" He asked.


"I don't know." Joshua said. "Do you feel cold?"


Apparently what caused the clash was Lily having a breakout. Seungcheol's told her apples would be good for her skin. Lily's Dad told him he was a cunt; what sort of man makes a comment like that to his son's girlfriend? Pimples are pimples; natural, ugly, but they just happen. The two men started snarking at each other, and then the women got involved. Lily's parents think that Seungcheol has no balls, and Seungcheol's parents think Lily is a psycho for how she reacted to the fight between the middle-aged adults.


"Do you have any idea how I stop Lily having access to my bank account?" Seungcheol asked Joshua, turning over.


"That depends; is it a joint account?"


"No, it's just mine, but she makes withdrawals from it. I had a check earlier, the balance was down by £4000." Seungcheol explained. Joshua's stomach dropped. That was a lot of money for Seungcheol.


"I...I don't know, sorry, hyung." Joshua replied. 


"That's alright. Alright if I use your shower?"


"Yeah, sure, I'll get some towels." Joshua sat up, and made a note in his head to change the linen on that bed and the one in the professional bedroom.


"Shua?" Seungcheol was sitting on the edge of the bathtub, still fully dressed in yesterday's clothes two hours later. While Joshua had dug through the linen cupboard in the laundry, by the time he came upstairs Seungcheol was dead to the world beneath the duvet. Joshua had let him be.


"Yeah?"


"Why's there a hole in the wall?" Seungcheol pointed at the sponge.


"Uh..." Joshua rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. Seungcheol started to chuckle.


"Have you noticed any shit around the place?" Seungcheol asked.


"What do you mean?"


"I think you've got a mouse. It looks like something's been nibbling the sponge." Seungcheol chuckled again as Joshua crossed his arms.


"Oh, fantastic." Joshua sighed heavily through his nose, his eyes shutting to a close.


"We'll find it. Just listen out for Jeonghan screaming." Seungcheol remarked.

 

-------------------------------

 

A courtesan never has any more than four clients. It makes him/her downgraded when they are supposed to be the highest level. To put it into perspective, the only level up from this is either owning one of these agencies, or personally servicing British and European royalty. The latter I'm not really interested in. No one wants to hear, "Awfully kind of you, dear" in a Prince Charles accent after you've made them come.


Who even taught that man to talk? It's horrible


I interviewed seven this morning. Two really stood out. 


Joshua waited in a upmarket café without a coffee or any other order in front of him, running his thumb back and forth over the edge of a portfolio papers that Yunjee and Sonoya had arranged for him on the seven men he was interviewing that day without shredding the skin. The next client was four minutes late.


I was nervous, okay? Believe it or not, that still happens. We all get terrified even if you're the one in control


You've got to be kidding me, honestly, Joshua thought to myself as a octogenarian man in a turtleneck and a tailored suit hobbled over in his direction.


"Sorry to disturb you, my son will be along in a minute." The old man said slightly wheezily. Joshua sat him down on the couch beside him and wondered what was going on.
"You're very young." The old man smiled a little bit before offering his hand and introducing himself as though he were an Englishman. "But then I'm very old. Even people in their sixties are like infants. I'm fond of my son but when it comes to anything other than business he couldn't organize a piss-up in a brewery." The old man's thin white eyebrows rose all of a sudden. "Here he is." He held out a liver-spotted, arthritic hand to a man Joshua guessed to be in...Joshua couldn't place an age. The man's skin was that was a twenty year old, and his body that of a thirty-five year old, but when Joshua paid attention to his face, the bones and the evolution of the face looked even towards fifty.

"Quite critical isn't he the old bastard?" The man said good-naturedly, taking a seat on the couch opposite across the coffee table.


"Jisoo Wilde." Joshua smiled and nodded to the man.


"You don't look like a half-caste." Harold remarked.


"Thank you very much, Father." The man replied. "My apologies. I'm Fred -"


"Fred as in Frederick?" Joshua questioned. Fred nodded. 


"You don't often see men called that do you?" The old man commented, looking quite proud all of a sudden. "A man has to have a good name, not any old trollop."


Joshua couldn't help but snort a laugh. He tried to arrange himself, but it happened again as Fred caught his eye and apologised once again for his Father. 


"I've spent my whole life been polite. Only about time I start been a rude old bastard." Harold said. He patted Joshua's knee.


"He was born Dong-Hae but since 1963 it's been Harold." Fred said.


"I couldn't get out of this country quick enough." Harold confided to Joshua.


"What are you looking for, Fred?" Joshua didn't take down notes like Sonoya and Yunjee advised him too. When you're in a situation like this, it must be comfortable experience that has no room for humiliation, and it's not to be a clinical practice either.


"Where are the damned bogs in this place?" Harold suddenly said, quite loudly. Joshua's mouth came open slightly, looking at Fred. He wasn't shocked or offended as he was interested. A recently published American cow-boy song that spoke of the question of "Would you sing about me like I sing about you?" played on the radio, and two of the café staff came over to see Harold.


Grandfather's in expensive suits with British language top the Korean hierarchy


"Talk about a piss-up in a brewery..." Fred muttered to himself, thumbing his brow. Joshua recognized it as a quote said by Harold earlier. "Dad - Dad! It's alright, come on, let the girls show you."


"I'm so sorry." Fred expressively apologised. "I don't mean to say you're unimportant, but Dad had an appointment at a Doctor's clinic, and then I realized I was late, and I couldn't get him to wait in the car. I run a photography and gallery business; when I said I had to duck in and see someone I think he expected to see a young woman with dyed hair and tattoos on her arms." Fred chuckled slightly.


"I think it's awesome." Joshua said with feeling. He wrote down his phone number for Fred.


The next one I decided on was a foreigner.


The chorus of "Sweet Chaos" by Day6 played just as Mies came in. White-blonde, Danish, pretty-boy and thin, a muso, plus a sense of taste in clothing that reminded me of Matty. The it hit me. Mies knew Matty from when his wife was still alive.


"Matty still on the drugs?" Mies asked.


"No." Joshua replied cautiously. He didn't get it yet. The late twenty-something with the hooded blue eyes, wide flat mouth and blonde hair had just sat down.
"We were at a party; all of this free love in the summer stuff is Tsvilde in Denmark. Someone kept saying to me about kissing my sister and getting her knickers off. It was pissing me off; who the fuck encourages incest at a lawn party? Next thing Matty appears with a fuckin' rifle and declares all Catholics, Lutherans and Evangelists are arseholes, ethno-nationalists, and Neo-Nazi's." Mies told Joshua warm-naturedly. "Haven't seen him since about 2015, though. He had so much drugs and shit in his system that the night he had the gun one pupil nearly swallowed the iris and the other pupil was as small as a star in the sky. No kidding, he was heterochromatic for twelve weeks because all of his hormones were AWOL. We were walking around one day and I asked him if he was getting any sex. When he said no, I told him I ws getting any either. We started laughing and he was crying in the middle of it and then we were up to our necks in the ocean."


Joshua laughed, but it was soft and shocked. "Jesus Christ." He said. 


"You ever been to Denmark?"


"Close. France."


"Sweet. I got arrested in France once. Saw a cunt across the street and gave him the finger and then I was arrested for public indecency."


This time Joshua actually laughed, humoured. Mies chuckled along as well.


"Do you drink this herbal shit?" Mies looked down at a menu.


"Not unless I'm forced and even then I try to find a pot plant." Joshua replied.


Joshua brought Mies home with him. Mies had parked his Jaguar in a way that the passenger door couldn't be opened to allow for a SUV to park beside him. It gave Joshua enough time to text Jeonghan and Seungcheol to get out of the house and make sure none of their stuff is lying around; extra toothbrushes in the bathroom, clothes on the floor, dishes in the sink.


Joshua glanced at Mies as he drove through Seoul and across the bridge to the Seongbukdong district. Mies was a good driver, and it didn't seem that he remembered Joshua in the passenger seat. 


It was like I was invisible. I liked that. I was still invisible even when we pulled into the garage under the section of the house and went inside. Then I wasn't anymore.


Mie's skin was cold in some places and hot in other's, but within seconds everywhere Joshua's hands went Mie's skin was hot. Joshua's nails dug into Mie's bare shoulders as the Dane's hands settled on his hips. Somewhere in the back of his head that came to life as Joshua breathed a thought of how well he and Mie's bodies fitted together.

Chapter Text

"So, you're suspended from work at the moment while your job is considered by the Network?" Joshua checked over the facts with Jeonghan. Jeonghan nodded.


"What a balls-up." Joshua leaned back into the pillows on the bed, his eyes slipping to a close as Kaito made a comment. It wasn't quite seven 'o' clock yet, but Joshua was tired. Kaito had come around and was playing some sort of folk music on Joshua's laptop while Jeonghan lay across the bottom end of the bed, talking. They were in the professional room.


"Could you play "Paris" by Night Creates Release?" Joshua said to Kaito. "I got it downloaded. It's somewhere in the music folder on desktop."


"That's new." Jeonghan said. "I didn't you know you listened to them."


"That's Millie and Matty and the band, you idiot." Joshua said, covering his mouth as he yawned, his head tipping to the side. "Paris" began with a steady drumbeat and high-toned acoustic guitar notes; it was soothing and warm and it had the aesthetic of seeing someone pretty across the street, but you'll never talk to them or let them know you were gazing at them wondrously.


"Oh, yeah." Jeonghan mumbled. Matty's Welsh-accented voice began to sing. She said hello; she was letting me knew that we share friends in Soho


"Funny how I remember that but he doesn't." Kaito remarked. Joshua chuckled. She's a pain in the arse. I'm a pain in retro-vintage car. You're a walking overdoes in a great coat


"We fuck; you're obligated." Joshua shifted across the bed and cuddled into Kaito's side. He could tell a weird expression had come across Jeonghan's face without opening his eyes. And so she made a plan for it on the back of a fag packet. She had to leave because she couldn't hack it. Not enough noise and too much racket -


"Oh, turn that off!" Jeonghan said suddenly. "It sounds like crap!"


"If you lose your job you should become an artist." Kaito replied. Jeonghan looked at him. Joshua opened his eyes as well. "Freelance artist; specialise in filmography and photography. You should work with people like Millie and Matty. There's money to be made if you get the sack by the network."


"What was your plan if you did get fired, anyway?" Joshua asked Jeonghan, who seemed stumped.


"I was thinking more about getting sued." Jeonghan said. "It's the 21st Century. I didn't realize they had adultery laws. Now, seriously, I want to know this -" He pointed Kaito. "Name one thing he's done that has pissed you off." He put to Joshua.


"He ignored me for a month because he got bored of me the moment he went back to the Shinto Temple in Japan last year." Joshua said. "It was our second year so for the whole March I didn't hear from Kaito because he was just consumed by all the home stuff."


"I didn't even think about him when my head was full of the snow and the mountains and how the air freezes your lungs." Kaito said quietly, touching Joshua's hair. Jeonghan felt his stomach turn violently.


"Why didn't you see him? Why didn't you tell him?" Jeonghan heard his mirth slip into his tone.


"He just said, Jeonghan." Joshua said.


"Bullshit." The word hung physical and heavy in-between all three of them.


"How would Seungcheol react if I asked him if he wanted to eat?" Kaito asked Joshua.


"He won't call you a faggot if that's what you're wondering." Joshua sat up and let Kaito wander off. Jeonghan glared at Joshua. He felt disappointed. He was sure that if he pulled a stunt like that...it wouldn't work out like this.


"Why did you take him back?" Jeonghan put to Joshua. Joshua jaw moved, like he was running his tongue along the back of his teeth.


"I had you in my mouth." Joshua said; his face twisted like a physical embodiment of a regretful and humiliated groan.


"That was your choice. Your mouth." Jeonghan replied.


"Yeah, I shouldn't have." Joshua scoffed a breath through his nose. His index finger stroked over his cheekbone once in a absent-minded gesture. "What are you trying to do?"
"What are you talking about?"


"Is it because you're scared? Is it because you're unhappy? Or are you just jealous?" Joshua said matter-of-factly, but his tone was soft. Jeonghan could hear just how tired he was. Jeonghan looked at him.


"Weird, isn't it, that sex noises are the same as pain noises." 


"Are we all on drugs and I don't know?" Joshua asked Jeonghan. "Or did some weird thing in the Universe happen and suddenly we've all...changed?"


"I think it started off when you told us you were a gay prostitute."Jeonghan admitted. "And for anything that comes to happen I still think the gay prostitute is the crown of it all."


"So it's my fault?"


"Did you hear me say that?"


"I mean when I say it."

 

Chapter Text

Barely a month had gone by and I hated everything and everyone. It all started with a disastrous trip to Italy.

 

-------------------

 

 

San Cataldo Artist's Retreat, The Amalfi Coast, January:

 

"Has anyone seen my black petticoat?"

 

It was Ilsa who had asked, and Joshua personally could understand why she was worried. There was at least one cross-dresser in the building, and the gut in question was ignorant and selfish. A total arsehole. Up until that point Ilsa had only talked about Denmark. Ilsa was Mies older sister, and she dressed nearly all the time in 1930's clothing that was both simple and grand. It always looked beautiful on her. Most if the pieces were original and antique. San Cataldo was a German-owned former cloister daring back to the twelfth century and situated 1,670 steps above the town Amalfi, which is already built on the side of a mountain cliff that falls into the sea. 

 

Mies and I were in a room that Mies said was interpreted as a salon rather than a suite. But to me it looked like a sparsely furnished cell. Two strange German's downstairs didn't seem to mind when Mies and I went into their salon during dinner the night before last and stole three ottomans plus an armchair, dragging them up the two flights of stairs. From where we were at the windows there were no glass panes, just curtains. We could look put across the Valle de Dragone with its lemon groves and donkeys. Everywhere the walls were thick and whitewashed. There were corridors everywhere that were long and made from bare sandstone. It smelt like  European-brand detergents and perfumes. I took pictures and sent them to Seungcheol and Jeonghan who were still holed up in my house in Seoul. 

 

When Mies and I arrived there on New Years Eve on the last flight across the New Year from Asia to Europe, there were already eleven other guests who had already been there since Mid-November. Mies lit up a smoke - just like Marty - and said, "Piss on the hierarchy of the Kraut cunts."

 

I thought the Danish and the Germans got along. It appears not. 

 

There were only two strong, powerful people apart from Mies. One was a Spanish-English woman called Maria Tate. She was a painter of pornography with thick red hair, black eyebrows like upside down "V's", a thin mouth, strong cheekbones, and a taste for 1980's denim jackets and David Bowie LP's. From the moment she clapped eyes on me, Mies and Ilsa joked that my eyes and my mouth and my collarbones would be appearing in her paintings; I didn't know what to hope for. I got talking to her when we both tried to go through an archway at the same time. She was quite warm and just really nice; I thought she might have nieces and nephews. She'd be a good Aunt.

 

Then there was her partner - I can't work out if they're married, but they both have the same last name Tate. Phillip Tate has lots of confidence. But he's a total arsehole. He makes your skin crawl - that kind if unpleasantness. I told Mies I thought he was a jerk. Mies gave me a handjob in the hallway as an answer. 

 

 

 

Phillip was about sixty, and styled and costumes as if he were back in the 1960's; tweed, handmade brouges, fastidiously ironed shirts and heaps of silk scarves in bold colours. He had long hair and and a agile body that made him seem younger. Sarcastic, laid-back, always vigilant; mouth full of poison (a direct quote from Ilsa). Phillip was working on a monograph about Hitler and was a celebrated first-class scholar. While ir wasn't like he didn't have a sense of humor, he always had to go out of his way to make a comment to hurt somebody. 

 

"I can't find my knickers or petticoats in the laundry." Ilsa said. 

 

Maria tried not to laugh.

 

"They're sort of special. Coco Chanel. Very old. Older than Phillip. What's it called?"

 

"Antique." Mies supplied. They were at the half-eight dinner outside on the balcony on the roof of the resort, under a calico marquee. Joshua hadn't thought this to be Mies sort of place; he imagined Industrial Copenhagen and a apartment above a restaurant or in a old munitions factory. Mies loved world war one era munition factories and other industrial property. His older sister Ilsa lived in one. It's white wash crumbled every six months and there was water leaks abd the floor was polished concrete, but ir was a existence that she and Mies raved about proudly.

 

"Antique, that's it!" Ilsa replied.

 

Maria cracked up laughing, blushed, then laughed again. Phillip put a hand on hers and smiled indulgently. Ilsa immediately became livid and started to speak with an accent. "North Jutland," Mies explained to Joshua quietly. "We grew up on a abandoned farm as rural nutters, no Church or school to speak of."

 

Ilsa was Kpop-girl thin from a diet of chicken soup, beef brother, a Danish dish called fikadeller, fruit and cheap English Breakfast. We were all speaking English


"Can't you two keep your flirting to yourselves?" Ilsa pronounced flirting as if with a "d". 


"It's quite a nice word like that." Peter said. "Ravishingly innocent."


"Shut up you old faggot." Mies contributed. Minutes later, dinner was served and Joshua barely touched anything. He hadn't really taken to the pasta, and every-time he wasn't looking at Mies or Ilsa, he saw Phillip eyeing him up like fresh processed meat at a deli like the ones scattered over Amalfi.


For the whole trip I think my face must have shown how repulsed I was at every comment made by Phillip. I knew it shouldn't let it bother me, but when you're trapped in a old nunnery in the middle of Italy and are supposed to be conducting a sex-a-thon while being a paid husband - things are different.


"Let's get away from this as soon as we can and have sex." Joshua murmured to Mies who accepted rather pleasantly.


Ilsa dragged them to the drawing room after dinner. Some of the furniture looked like it was from a time in the 1920's when the carpet and rug dealer Carl Wiinstedt placed the property - all information Joshua had found from Ilsa - at the disposal of paying-on-the-sly European artists and scholars. "A bunch of sooks with mental health conditions, a drug habit, fucked-up infidelity shit and schizophrenia." Mies corrected Ilsa's remark about artists and scholars. They were sitting on a uncomfortable art-deco chaise lounge. Around them was a Sigurd Swane canvas in a gold frame, the classic pieces of German furniture. The heavy, leather-bound visitor's books in the corner were filled with decade's worth of acknowledgements, watercolours depicting the gardens and Amalfi.


Maria and Phillip Tate danced in front of a fireplace filled with potplants while they conversed. Mies whispered to Joshua that he looked sexy. The crossdresser appeared downstairs in a brown jersey dress and long purple boots. Ilsa joked to Joshua, smoking a cigarette in a black 1920's holder with a solid gold nib at the end, that he would look gorgeous in the jersey dress and the purple boots. "Let's pinch them out of the fucker's room later." Mies muttered.


Every non-Korean man I know is foul-mouthed. It must be something in the water other than the fluoride. 


When they stopped dancing Maria made a beeline straight for Ilsa. Mies called good luck to her before walking out of the room with Joshua and leaving a dry impression for that night on Phillip and the cross-dresser.


"It's like everyone thinks because I'm a hot Korean guy on holiday in Italy it means I'm going to spread myself around a bit." Joshua said to Mies. He gasped through his nose as Mies shoved him up against a wall in a empty corridor. The sky outside through the glassless windows was a water colour blue, the sun having fully set. Candle-lit lanterns hung outside made of cast iron and glass; orange light bobbed and swayed in a breeze. Joshua chest, the left side of his face, and his hands were pressed against the wall.


"Spread yourself for me, that's ok." Mies whispered into Joshua's ear. Joshua wasn't put at ill-ease; it was indescribably arousing and equally surreal. He wanted to fight back and did, pushing off the wall and shoving Mies across to the other side of the corridor, the Dane's back pressed up against the stone.


"You get me like..." Mies breath went across Joshua's lips as their noses and their foreheads pressed together.


"You're a total narcissist." Joshua didn't pull away as Mies kissed him.


"You get ridiculous when you're horny." Mies mumbled against Joshua's mouth.


"Miles, we're grinding and kissing each other in the corridor of a super-rich and super-exclusive resort in the richest part of fucking Italy which is the richest place in Europe and I'm your whore." Joshua deadpanned. In response Mies massaged his penis through his jeans.

 

---------------------------------

 

Things got sick really quick. Ilsa shaved off her eyebrows and began to draw two thin line each morning with a thick yellow pencil. It was startling to say the least, but it gave her a appearance that....I can't describe it. 


"Can't you love me a little bit for it?" Ilsa asked me as I drove in Mies car down into Amalfi. Her hair was done in marcel waves and pinned back prettily. She had a hair-clip at the bun at the base of her skull that was a stained-glass butterfly; it was the colour of rubies and nearly the size of the palm of her own hand. "Cause you and Mies are just friends, really."


We took the car to the edge of the town by the sea. I didn't even know what I was doing. I should have been with Mies, I was supposed to be with Mies, but I didn't want to suffocate him. But is the answer to that hanging out with his sister instead? I don't know. We walked along the shoreline. Ilsa held the hem of her skirt up around her knees. She held my hand after a while. Her hand was warm and soft and she had a nice hand-cream with a flower smell. Lavender. I shouldn't think things like this but I thought Lavender suited her.


When we got back to the resort Mies was working on his laptop and arguing on the phone with someone in Danish, Phillip was being a pig, Maria was getting cuddly with the crossdresser and talking about how she thought Ilsa hadn't really lost her petticoats and knickers at all. A regional pie was cooked in a copper pan with spinach, pine nuts, and raisins. Ilsa said to me she thought it looked revolting, but we tried it nevertheless. It was made from donkey. Ilsa said to the resort director that "all wogs are dirty fucking cunts".


A new guest was announced. Some visual artist called Jane Fagan-O'Briain.


Jane had sections of chocolate-coloured hair falling down and the front plaited back from her face. It was long, down to her breasts. "I don't do hairtyes much. Damages the hair. For the bits that get in my face I just plait it back." She gestured to her head. Ilsa said it looked like the blonde-girl's out of the Disney movie, "Frozen" except the plait was on one side and the other side was loose....Ilsa chuckled softly, and I wondered if Ilsa was bisexual or otherwise had an interest in women. She had a face that resembled Miranda Kerr's and a gap between her front teeth. Phillip Tate drawled over her. I saw some of the most gentleman behaviour I've ever seen come out of Mies. She wore stretch fabric mini-dresses with long sleeves, and dresses that a collar was sewn into and a tie could be attached too, of all colours and lengths.


No one told me that they had all decided amongst themselves - Jane, Mies, Ilsa, Phillip, Maria and the crossdresser - that Jane was going to paint me. Mies wanted it to happen. He was the one paying me; I did as I was told. I walked into an old space for prayer that had been turned into a type of ball-room. All the resort guests - the ones whose names I didn't know as well - were sitting in an audience. I didn't see any canvas, but there were heaps of cameras. Apparently when Jane was going to paint me, she was to paint my body, not my body on a canvas. I didn't want to get my clothes off in front of all those strangers, plus Maria, Ilsa, Phillip, and the cross-dresser. I didn't want to be naked in front of Jane, either.


"What are you shy of gorgeous?" Jane said to me as she tried to get my shirt off.


"Just shut up." I replied back to her. I pushed her off and I went upstairs, packing everything that was mine. Mies tried to catch me on the way out but I told him to get lost.
Somehow I ended up in Rome via a few trains, and a couple of cabs. I wandered around by myself for a week and then went back to South Korea. Mies tried to ring me along with the Agency. I didn't pick up until I was back in Seoul. I rang Emerald's Escorts and got Yunjee. I told her I wanted to give it all up. Terminate everything.


"I want short appointments, lots of clients, lots of money, and control." I said. "I'm not being a paid husband or floozy or whatever you want. And you're still a prostitute, Yunjee, diamond earrings or not."


Joshua stared out of the windows in his sitting room. Before he had begun to type, he had been designing a new website. He was an independant hooker now. Jeonghan was back in his own house and had had to go to court; instead of cleaning her out, the husband split things 50/50. Jeonghan had to testify that he was the person the wife had conducted the affair with, called up by the husband's solicitors. Jeonghan lost his job at the Network for been "unbelievably fucking stupid even though the woman was a bit of a slag", words from head of the crew at the Network. Seungcheol and Lily were still broken up. Seungcheol hadn't seen Lily once, but Joshua sent her a text most nights saying that he was alright. What he was up too. It was February tomorrow. Kaito was going back to Japan at the end of Feburary. The thought depressed Joshua. Kaito had been onto something as far as Jeonghan went; Joshua had called up Matty and Camille and they had arrived with a chocolate cake and the boys. They spent a few hours chain-smoking and calling studios and galleries for Jeonghan; Joshua had had to have the windows open so he, Seungcheol and Jeonghan would not suffocate due to the cigarette smoke. Joshua reflected that's all the carpet and couch would smell of for weeks.
Joshua thought about Fred and his Father, Harold. Fred had been looking for something that Joshua tried to think abotu as well. He didn't want the shag and bag. It was like the favourite's set-up from when Joshua had worked for Gerda. It was just Kaito and Seong-hun now. Maybe there was room for Fred. Hyung-Woo and Min-ho were gone. Maybe there was room for Mies too if he cleaned up his act.


But what about Camille and Matty? A voice said in Joshua's head. Mies is like Matty so you can have either but what about Camille?


"Babe?" Joshua looked up and took out his headphones as Camille appeared. She was in a black corduroy mini-dress with a high neck and long sleeves, black tights, and a suede cap on her head that was all the rage in the seventies, eighties and nineties even though it was masculine and thirties era. Her long hair had been tinted some nice dark brown shades in a seamless ombre. She hopped up onto the bed next to him, and automatically kissed his cheek. Joshua thought she shouldn't have done it; he hadn't really deserved it. "Is it alright that I feel a bit sorry but at the same time I think everything's really funny?" Camille asked.


"How do you mean?"


"He shags a married woman that's building a house with her husband on a TV show. Husband finds out, tries to knock Jeonghan into the next Tuesday, and then we have the divorce settlement. Jeonghan and wife dump each other; she gets a packet and he loses his job. He then gets onto a couple of rock and roll weirdo's and a prostitute who get him a job in a art gallery." Joshua began to grin along with Camille as she talked. "See, honey?" She wrapped her arms around his waist, leaning into his chest. "It's not so bad." She made an "ooh" sound suddenly. Camille pointed at the screen of his laptop. "Like what you said to that woman, Yunjee."


"I'm happy he's not with the older woman or anything like that." Joshua admitted. Camille hummed.


"What's the first set of stuff you're doing now you're self-employed?" She asked him.

 

---------------------------------------

 

"Hey, mate, come here." Seungcheol climbed down the stairs of the balcony off the sitting room as Matty called up, a cigarette stuck in his mouth with a red flannel shirt on, Lumberjack colours.


"Hear you're having trouble with your girl?"


"Who told you that?"


"Mate, it's pretty fuckin' obvious." Matty's Welsh-accent got even more profound when he spoke Korean. His Korean was slowed-down but it was a good sound. "Plus blondie - Jeonghan - told me."


"Blondie?"


"Yeah, Blondie. Well, he is, yeah?" Matty exhaled cigarette smoke. "You need a new place to move into with not being here and that. Your mate's still a hooker."


"I know."


"What I'm trying to get to is that the apartment two floors above drummer-boy in there is vacant if you need somewhere to move into. It's only a block away from your bar-job and it's closer to all of this shit -" Matty gestured around him. "If you fancy that, like. Are you still paying your share of the rent on you and your girls' place?"


"Yes."


"You don't have to worry about rent for this one."


"Why would they let me live there for free? Do you or one of the others own it?"


"Nah, mate."


"You got to explain this."


"Nah, mate. trust me." Matty patted his shoulder before pissing off. "Just pack your bags tonight." He called over his shoulder. 

 

Chapter Text

I really, really don't like "Adult Parties".


Yet here we go again.


Thank God it's concept only.


Jeonghan's mouth dropped open with a laugh as Joshua appeared in a leopard-print mini-dress, red high-heels, a 1960's pouffe style wig, and thick eyeliner with red lipstick. "Voile." Joshua offered drily, raising an eyebrow and posing a knee forward with his hands on his hips. Seungcheol took a picture on his phone, and had Joshua approve it before it settled in the camera roll.


I made room for Fred. We're taking it steadily. For it to work we have to be friends first. I was right about him not wanting the quick shag deal. Fred is good with that. He's like his Father, Harold; charming, educated, well-mannered, good-natured, wordly. Just without the level of arthiritis and old-age induced cantankerousness with the walking sticking.


He welcome Jeonghan into the studios, and was really happy when I told him about Jeonghan been a pro camera-man.


I'm a hypocrite. I say about money and quick appointments and been my own boss, but I always want the other side.


I couldn't do without Min-ho and Hyung-Woo. So I found someone who had the best parts of both men. I know it's a constant process; men come in and out of my life, there's sex and money and either way it always fucks up. But life's just repepition, right?


"I always wanted to do something like this." Jeonghan said half-dreamily, looking estatic.


"What are you going to do if your Mum recognises you?" Seungcheol asked Joshua.


"What - I don't get it." Joshua said. "She's not going to..." He trailed off. Jeonghan was working with a clothes designer and a digital illustrator for this shoot that was going to be published in a Indie magazine and across eight website blogs and social media. Joshua considered whether fate would have it where his Mother is scrolling through the internet and just so happens to see her son in a mini-dress and a wig.


"It'll be fine." He decided, slapping Seungcheol's shoulder lightly, going over to the set which was constructed in front of a bright blue background. The table was 1960's pinewood chic with a tea and coffee set knocked over and spilling drink, and a bowl of plastic fruit in a mesh rack. On the set also was a still immensely handsome octogenarian woman that was Fred's Mother, Elena, and the two brothers of the digital illustrator to make up the featured shot. To go with the scene, they pulled startled faces, open-mouth and perfectly natural despite their freeze. Jeonghan grinned as Joshua did a thing where the shocked expression on his face didn't reach his eyes, which were dark brown and depthless and just a set of eyes that belonged in another shot. It capped it all off. It went to show how fake everything was. That was the theme of the art; garish luxury, 1960's innovation, and how fake everything was surrounded by corrupt politics, and what it meant to be "well-off" in a decade that tons of people were still fascinated with. Jeonghan thought Lily would have been great in this shoot. Thick black eye-makeup, a destroyed beehive, cigarettes and chipped nail polish in colourful holey stockings and geometric club-wear.


"Shua?" Jeonghan called over, collecting the attachments for his Steadicam. "Can you rap for me?" He asked. "We'll change the screen to the green one, and can you sort of drap yourself over the couch - on arm over the back with her legs and ankles crossed - and very drily, sort of un-interestedly - just look into the camera and rap for me?"
"What rap do you want me to do?"


"Anything. Make up a rap now, do whatever you want." Jeonghan said.


"We're smashing mikes in karoke bars; and God I wait because you're running late with half your make-up on." Joshua rapped, looking directly down the camera's lense. "This method of faking might buy those rich cars, but soon you'll be wanting to fall alseep amongst French-made velvet sheets. I love this feeling, and I love this part. I want to be like this forever so I got Grandfather to mention me in his will. Because of modernity failing us I'm in hot pursuit; my character's strong, but my wallet and head are loose."


"Where did that come?" Jeonghan asked.


"With the theme and that I thought those lyrics would be alright." Joshua laughed.


"Yeah - they're brilliant! But - you literally just came up with that." Jeonghan started to grin. All of a sudden, Joshua felt something bloom inside his body, between the bottom of his rib-cage.


"I think I love you." It was soft and unfamiliar though it was; it was light and it was searching. Joshua pictured this feeling in his head with the assiocation of a scene Jeonghan had once shot; it was a dutch angle shot of a girl with blonde hair and a thin mouth and a boy in a club. They were gazing at each other, the background slowed down around him. Half of scalp was shaved, leaving one side of long blonde hair; her black make-up was smudged around her eyes and she had been wearing a white singlet, leather jacket, tight jeans. The few seconds of film had shown she and the boy breathing as they searched each other's eyes, a distant wonder somewhere in the middle world. It was for the promotion of some seven-part series the network Jeonghan used to work at had held up not last year but the year before. Young people and young lives all around the world in televised fiction.


It slipped out; he was high and in a leopard print dress but that's all it came down too.


Jeonghan chuckled softly. "I love you too." 


Oh shit, Joshua thought. That was intelligent of you, you fucking idiot.

 

-----------------------------------

 

"What's this?" Seungcheol held up an envelope.


"Must be from one of the neighbours." Joshua took it out of Seungcheol's hand as he squinted at the handwriting.


Joshua opened it up and read the letter enclosed within. There was a small weight in it, but he didn't know what it was.


"Who is it?"


"One of the ladies down the street. Her and next door up the hill have been having plumbing issues and are wondering if I'm having the same problem...stuff about plumbers." Joshua fibbed easily. "You - you, er, staying for dinner?" He tucked the letter back into the enveloped and put it on the bench.


"Depends what you're doing."


"I'm not doing anything."


"When was the last time you caught up with Millie?" Seungcheol asked. He had come around to calling Camille Millie as well.


Joshua didn't immediately answer. "She's been working a lot." he said. It was true. They both had. Camille had nineteen clients, and Joshua had got all of his twenty-three clients back he had had with Gerda. "It's not normal for us, Cheollie, you know that."


"Yeah." Seungcheol nodded. When he left, Joshua tipped out the letter, and with it came a ring.


Joshua sat down at his kitchen table and stared at it. 


Hey Josh,


Tell Seungcheol this is for him. There's no point me doing it how I wanted to considering how things are right now. I don't think you would have thought about it, but I've been thinking about it for a long time, now. Settling down with Seungcheol properly. For however things seem, I do love him.


What does she mean by that? Joshua thought.


I had the plan of getting on a nice dress and just asking him when we went out to dinner at a restaurant we both agree is nice. Not get on one knee and embarrass him. Just ask him over the table, and show him  the ring


If you can get him to put it on, that would be wonderful. If you can't, tell him I'll give him a check for the £4000 that was taken out of his account.


If Seungcheol decides he really doesn't love me anymore, we still have made a huge impact on each other's lives. He needs to understand that - for me.


Lily


Joshua thought for a long time.

Chapter Text

You get knocked down, you get back up again. That's what they say, right? Well, what I want to know, is that still the method you use when a reporter is hassling you because somehow he has found out that one of your clients is the Frederal Government Minister for Health?


Look expensive and respectable, the email had said from the client. 


If I was a woman that would have been - in-between the lines - don't look like a tart. No one can know I'm at the hotel for a bit of that!


"You look great." Kaito said, kissing Joshua on the forehead as he left the house for Joshua to go out as well. Kaito's Dad had recently bought him a bran new Kasawaki motorcycle since he got his full liscence for "two-wheel driving", as Kaito referred to it as. The hotel was exclusive and upmarket at being £300 a night as Joshua walked through the lobby into the bar where the client had agreed to meet. After ten minutes the client texted Joshua and told him to come up to his room.


"We haven't got long." The man said briskly as Joshua came in. "I want you to wear this -" The client held out a French maid's uniform and the wad of notes to Joshua, who took them. "And then I'll go through what I like."


Joshua turned and walked into the bathroom as the man began to unbuckle his belt and his trousers.

 

---------------------------------------

 

"Seungcheol?" Joshua played music aloud on his laptop. Seungcheol had gone and moved into the flat a few floors above Camille's drummer. Joshua thought it had actually been alright having Seungcheol in the house. Jeonghan was a bit more complicated. 


"Hey, what's up?"


"Can you do me a favour and come around? Nothing's wrong, just need to see you."


"What's wrong?"


"What part of..." Joshua sighed. "You're an idiot." He hung up. Half an hour later Seungcheol was in his professional bedroom. He helped Joshua carry the vacumn cleaner upstairs that Joshua was planning on using for the whole second storey after Seungcheol left.


"You need a maid." Seungcheol remarked.


"I wouldn't trust any of them to come in." Joshua huffed a laugh, and went over to one of the bedside tables. He sat down cross-legged on the bed, and got Seungcheol to do so too. He gave the letter and the ring to Seungcheol, and waited while Seungcheol read Lily's handwriting.


The reason Lily got me to play piggy-in-the-middle was because she knew Jeonghan wouldn't.


Seungcheol swore softly, looking pale. He put the letter and the ring on the bed before getting up and pacing back and forwards widthways across the room. "What are you going to do?" Joshua asked him after a minute. Seungcheol huffed a laugh that was overbright and stunned.


"What am I going to do?" He echoed incredulously. "I don't know." He laid down on the bed. "This is too much to deal with."


"You're going to have to be a bit brave." Joshua told Seungcheol. "Why can't...you know, with her. You and Lily move on from all of this?"


"Because I just fucking can't." Seungcheol rubbed his eyes, before looking at Joshua tiredly. "I hate to just think of her face."

 

-------------------------------

 

I don't read newspapers. I don't take much interest in politics. They're all bastards, collective jerk-off's, and sons of bitches at the end of the day, no matter what you like to call them, no matter which party you vote for.


So when The Chosun Ilbo front page held a picture of the "french maid" client's austere-expressional face and the headline, "Min Dohun Mounts His Leadership Bid", I didn't know anything about it. I also didn't realize they he was in a position to be elected new party head of the current Federal Government.


I didn't realize that I could very easily fuck things up for him.


"Fuck." Joshua swore as he walked into the kitchen table, the edge of it been directly level with his crotch; he had to walk into the corner as well of all things. "Ooh..." He winced, thankful that he no clients coming in today. It was Sunday, Jeonghan was off the radar, Seungcheol was in a tight spot, and Camille had a gig on at a festival playing later that night and she wanted him to come.


Joshua nearly walked into the corner of the table again as someone knocked on his door. He opened it up to see a man in his late twenties with a beaked nose, heavily slanted eyes, and a unshaved face in a leather jacket. "My name is Kwak Hanson and you do hear what I've got to say." He said, before holding up a photograph of the client that Joshua had put the French maid's uniform on for. Joshua opened the front door to him, but didn't let the man inside.


"I've never seen him before in my life." Joshua said.


"No, I suppose you wouldn't, him been part of the Liberty Korea Party." Hanson said. "£15,000 pounds - negotiable - for your story."


"What are you on about?" Joshua's words caught in his throat as Hanson held up another photo, this time of him in the hotel lobby.


"You got the wrong man." Joshua said. "Goodbye."


"Yeah, well, suppose you like to think of yourself of a businessman rather than a fag prostitute." Hanson sneered.


"Get inside before someone hears you." Joshua slammed open the door and pulled Hanson inside. "You've no idea what sort of neighbourhood this is, but then again you're just a working-class dickhead."


Hanson chuckled. "Yeah, yeah." He looked at Joshua. "Fifteen grand for a little bit of your time."


"Oh, fuck off." Joshua opened the door and pushed him out. Hanson didn't fight him.


"Where did you learn such pretty language?" Hanson inquired.


I thought all journalist were required to be cunning; despite everything, this dickhead was really smooth. I thought Jeonghan had the smoothest personality I knew; the stuff he has done over the years. But this dickhead had pinched the crown.


Somedays it was a tiara, trust me.


"Whatever it is you think I am, you're wrong. I'm not interested." Joshua locked up his house behind him, and waited impateintly while the jounralist had to reverse his car out of Joshua's driveway so Joshua could drive out.

Chapter Text

Camille was wearing black tights, a white t-shirt with the slogan "Party Like A Russian" on the front across her breasts. Her hair was pink one-night dye through it in handsome streaks. Joshua saw the guitarists had had hair-cuts; the bass guitarist had a cut on his chin from shaving, and the drummer had got a new tattoo on his throat. His skin was still covered by bandages and plastic wrap.  Matty looked like he had lost weight, and Joshua thought it made the Welshman look even more attractive.


"Nos da, eh, babi?" Joshua had arrived earlier enough to find the band backstage along with other singers and songwriters and performing artists; it couldn't be clearer that Night Creates Release couldn't give a fuck about their company. Matty was smoking and looking at him in a way that Joshua now entirely associated with the Indigenous race.


I need to add Welsh to my language list


"You came!" Camille got up off the couch and jumped into his arms. Joshua found himself carrying her on his back towards the couch after a hefty kiss was put on his cheek, leaving a coffee-coloured lipstick mark.


"Of course he came, you silly bitch." Matty said. "He told you he would be coming."


Camille stuck her tongue out at him, unpeturbed by his swearing. Matty gestured over to Joshua. "Cryst-t da." he said.


"What?"


"Dw i'n Cymraeg dyn." Matty smiled suddenly very nastily. A few girls on the other side of the backstage green room visibly recoiled as they saw his change in expression. The drummer peered at Matty's cigarette.


"You keep on the fucking tobacco, sweetheart." The drummer said in English, taking the cigarette and having a puff, looking directly at Matty. Matty looked like he was consumed by a fire inside. The two guitarists got off the couch and it made Matty snarl something foul in Welsh.


"You see Synth?" The bass guitarist asked, using the nickname for their keyboardist and discographer. "Tell him to ring up his brother; Matty's not well."


"I am fucking well!" Matty yelled suddenly, having sharp ears and had heard every word the bass guitarist had said.


"If synth's fucking syphilitic fag brother turns up I'll break the little cunts neck." Matty grabbed the bass guitarist by the collar of his shirt. Joshua went to move in but Camille, the other guitarist, and the drummer gestured for him to not make a single movement.


"When did you inject yourself?" The bass guitarist whispered. "You're on withdrawal symptoms -" He hadn't even finished his sentence before the towering Welshman wrapped his hands so hard around the Korean man's neck that a visible crack in his chest or neck or back was heard as clear as day; simultaneously Matty's teeth sunk into the guitarist's jaw. Matty slammed the guitarist like a sack of goods onto the floor, and stomped on his face and chest. All around them people exploded into life. People called the Police, girls screamed, another three people were punched in the face by Matty, and before he knew what he was humanely doing, Joshua picked a clean plate off a coffee table and smashed it over the back of Matty's head. 


Fear flooded Joshua's body as Matty turned around slowly, his eyes thick and black and dangerous. Blood ran through his hair and down the back of his scalp to his neck and to his t-shirt. 


"I miss Wales. I miss me Mum and Dad, too." Matty said in English, only a few seconds before security rushed into the space.

 

--------------------------------------

 

The band played live even though Matty had a gash on the back of his head and was covered in blood, and the bass guitarist's clothes was also covered in blood; his face had been quickly patched up, but the result were bandages covering his face with an opening like the lid of a letterbox across his eyes and eyebrows. When Matty bit him; I think that will scar. I know that will scar.


Blood was everywhere. It was revolting but it just caught your interest. It sounds disgusting and macarbe, but maybe that guy was right.


Taffy were a Welshman


Taffy were a liar, Taffy were a thief


Taffy were the cunt who killed the Church of England priest


Together they flogged England to and thro


No wonder the English say the Welsh are barbaric. But then no wonder the Welsh say that the English are uptight fucks


That night they all did a cover of a song. Camille sung "Hold Me While You Wait" by Lewis Capaldi, the synthesist - who turned up just after the security having been hanging out at a knock-up bar - sang "Live And Let Die" by Paul McCartney, and Matty sang a new original song that made quite a stir.


"What can I do if I don't have you?" Matty sung in a way that reminded Joshua of another British artist, Sam Smith. It was mid-tone with a fluttering between the notes and the stadium didn't scream and shout like they had for the band's other songs, and Camille and the guitarists covers of Capaldi and McCartney. They were silent as to hear Matty. "I never feel like this but all I've got is numbness in my heart. I force it to stop. Your love runs and leaves. I am left painting gold everything in your world for the sake of blue." The croon in his tone fluttered at "Blue" and in turn Joshua felt his stomach flip. "What can we do if you don't have me?" Matty's face was shown up on huge two storey plasma screens either side of the stage. This wasn't just a countryside music festival; this was huge and exclusive. Joshua heard that GOT7 were playing tonight also with their new hit, "You Calling My Name". "You'll probably be alright without me while these others love the bed of you."


I wondered why he bothered been in this band in South Korea when he could do well himself in Europe and the UK..


 "Darling, I want to treasure your body just as it is. If I had wanted Gigi I would have fucked her, now..."


Joshua snorted a laugh, burying his face in his hands at the reference to Gigi Hadid.


That was a good thing. All girls who are anxious about their curves might by the whole EP just to hear that line in that song. Honestly, I wouldn't put it past Matty to have done that for that purpose


"Tell me you want me, tell me you want me, say it to me, baby 'cause I cannot stand to be alone."

 

-------------------------------------

 

Synth vomited into the kitchen sink at the sight of Matty stitching his head back together. Matty had refused to go to hospital, and I think was the only one who seemed to mind about the Welshman in Camille's en-suite while Camille and the other's went mental at Synth vomiting into the kitchen sink.
"Of all the fucking sinks in this house!" Camille howled, clenching her fists. "The laundry, the second bathroom - in the gutter even! That's revolting! You'll clean that up, you thot!"


"Twat." Synth corrected, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand. "They don't say thot in Wales, it's twat -"


"I said thot because I meant thot, you miserable fucking thot!" Camille screamed.


Joshua went upstairs to get some space between he and Camille's lungs. He laid down on her bed upstairs while Matty was in her ensuite. Occasionally Joshua heard the gentle thunk of metal on ceramic tile or sink. 


"If your bring up physchs, blue pills, or hypnotherapy I will put you through that fucking window." Matty told Joshua matter-of-factly, lying down on the bed beside him.
"I think you've got enough pills, no doctor can help your head, I don't think they even do hypnotherapy nowadays, and I don't doubt you could put me through a window but you'll come with me because I'll hold on tight." Joshua responded to Matty.


"Did you even fucking breathe?" Matty's brow furrowed.


"It's all the practice from deep-throating cock." Joshua sighed heavily through his mouth.


"Ah." Matty laid his head carefully on the blankets.


"Yeah." Joshua looked at him. "How was "operation"?"


"I didn't know that Millie had a thing for embroidery; she suddenly spouts about having some needles upstairs and I'm like, "Fuck, girl. I thought you were a real hard-arse bitch"." Matty chuckled. "You ever any good at the game? I used to always fuck it up; I liked the thought of causing something pain without actually doing it. Like, I'd get down to the liver and I'd put the metal thing against the megnet edge and make the siren go off. I used to do it to piss my Dad off sometimes. Set it off at three in the morning."


"You're a nutter."


"Ooh, yeah. What about you when you were little?"


"I was never one of the cool teenagers. More pretty-boy than other stuff. Not the sort of guy with the good jacket who always got laid. It was mostly me and my friends, Seungcheol and Jeonghan. Jeonghan's sexy; he's smooth." Joshua chuckled to the ceiling. "And all the girls like Cheol because he was on the football team. English football, soccer, you know. People saw me as this...pretty-boy "Church-oppa" image who was sweet and flawless..." Joshua scoffed. "Anyone who knows me for more than ten seconds know that is bullshit."


"You still into the bible shit?"


"Have you seen the Catholic Church lately?" Joshua said quizzically. "Makes you want to rip your skin off because you were an angel once in their nativity in the ninties." He laughed, but it wasn't happy. "Can you get home by yourself?"


"Fuck yeah."


"See you, then."


"Yeah, mate. Nos da."


He genuinely stitched his own head up. And whatever you is that you think about it, no wonder Synth threw up his stomach in the kitchen sink. When I was lying on the bed I could hear the sound of his breathing. He wasn't panting, but it was so quiet upstairs except for Camille yelling at Synth that you could hear everytime his breath hitched as he made a new stitch. The worst thing? I'll overthink it and imagine it when I go to sleep, and I'll wake up some time with this image in my head I can't get rid of.


We always need a visual to go with the sound

Chapter Text

Five days later this journalist still hadn't given up. I'm a firm believer in a private life - both myself and my clients.


I've told him to fuck off several times now but he won't get the hint. Police don't work in this situation either, without a massive bribe. "Officer, a journalist is harassing me because the next potential leader of the (far-right party) is a client of mine; and, yes sir, I am in the escort profession? As a brothel owner, no. What then? Uh..."
See how it works? At the first mention of "escort" I could be arrested, let alone if the full storey got told to policeman.


"Seungcheol, you have to - talk - to - Lily." Joshua emphasized.


"No." Seungcheol said abruptly.


"Cheol." Joshua insisted.


"What?" Seungcheol looked at him listlessly.


"Come the fuck -" Joshua groaned.


"Camille's made you really foul-mouthed." Seungcheol opined.


"And you need a brain transplant!" Joshua retorted. "Just - call - Lily!"


"No."


"For fuck's sake." Joshua kicked Seungcheol's knee hard enough on the just to make it hurt.


"Beautiful, Shua." Seungcheol remarked, completely unbothered. 


"Don't make a joke right now." Joshua warned him. It was pouring down rain outside, and Joshua was worried that their might be a leak somewhere in the roof. In the professional bedroom, he had found water on the inside edge of the windowsill, and he couldn't deal with tradesmen coming into his house. He didn't know how to go about that stuff, and whether or not it could be claimed back on insurance.


"I'm not."


"You are."


"Not."


"You really fucking are, Seungcheol." Joshua rubbed his hands over his face. "You know right now I'm the piggy in the middle?"


"I'm not happy about that either." Seungcheol gave in.


"Thanks." Joshua said drily. "And how easily it can be solved with one phone call!"


"How about a text?"


"How degrading are you trying to be?" Joshua scoffed. "Call her."


"Shua -"


"Do it or I will punch you in the throat." Joshua threatened seungcheol.


"So aegyo -" Seungcheol began, purposely trying to irritate Joshua. He succeeded.


"Fucking aegyo - I hate aegyo." Joshua responded.


"Oh, but you look lovely." Seungcheol sat up on the couch, messing up Joshua's hair.


"Lovely?" Joshua stared at Seungcheol.


"What?" Seungcheol faltered as well.


"There's a word that's never come out of your mouth before." Joshua pointed at Seungcheol's mouth. He was still pissed off at him.


"Don't make a joke - oh, I see what this is..."


"Do you? Do you?"


"I'll stop."


"Why isn't Lily picking up." Joshua got Seungcheol's phone and squinted at the screen.


"Have a guess." Seungcheol almost sneered.


"Shut up!"


"What's the yelling about?" Jeonghan waltzed into Seungcheol's sitting-room with a thickly-rolled cigarette in his mouth.


"Right - what?" Seungcheol said as Joshua's mouth fell open. Jeonghan didn't smoke; and that roll-up alone was enough to give him a tumor in his right lung.


"You won't believe the morning I've had." Jeonghan sat down on the couch, climbing over the back. He squashed himself in-between Seungcheol and Joshua, and the other two didn't mind.


"It's Sunday."


"Which is why it's unusual." Jeonghan conceded Joshua's answer.


"Oh, God." Joshua took a sniff at Jeonghan's roll-up, whatever it was he was inhaling. He didn't even know that Jeonghan knew how to smoke. His face and neck weren't flushed from coughing, and his voice didn't sound strained. The smell from the cigarette was organic and heady and it smelt a bit like Eculyptus. Whatever it was, Joshua didn't know, but it wasn't marijuana.


"Actually, it involves him Shua." Jeonghan chuckled, but there was something wrong with it.


"Fuck Lily, what have you done?" Seungcheol said down to his phone in temper. Jeonghan and Joshua exclaimed.


"Be nice." Joshua said. Seungcheol scoffed. "She spent four grand on a ring to propose to you?"


"Why the fuck do I not know this?" Jeonghan suddenly woke out of his haze.


"I told you on the phone, Hannie. A few days ago, remember?" Joshua said.


"Are you sure?" Jeonghan frowned.


"Yes." Joshua insisted. "I was on the line for ten minutes while you got your head around it." He privately wondered just how much that smoke was affecting Jeonghan.


"Oh..." Jeonghan sucked on the cigarette.


"What have you done?" Seungcheol repeated.


"I had a Anglican Priest kiss me on the arse." Jeonghan said blatantly.

 

-----------------------------------------

 

I don't know why I called Matty and Kaito. I must have had this thought that they could produce something that could...I don't know.


The moment Jeonghan repeated the same ten words, both Kaito and Matty nearly pissed themselves laughing. "How did a Anglican priest come to kiss you on the arse?" Matty asked. He chuckled to himself while Kaito lost it again.


"It's not Priest by the way, it's Minister." Joshua corrected.


"Hm?" Matty hummed. He lit up a cigarette. Joshua knew that by the time everyone left his house would smell like a wildfire.


"Jeonghan - Baptists and Anglicans are Ministers, Church of England are Vicar's, and Catholics are Priests." Joshua explained.


"Bunch of fucking loonies, anyway." Matty raised his eyebrows with a small matter-of-fact smile. Kaito laughed again.


"Hey cutie." Matty whistled, twirling some of Kaito's long hair around his index finger.


Seungcheol and Jeonghan looked at Joshua. Joshua didn't feel quite right inside at the sight, so he fiddled with his phone.


"I was up on a ladder filming something, and this kid about thirteen appears with the begging bowl -" Jeonghan began.


"Jeonghan." Joshua looked at him. 


"It is a begging bowl. "Oh, yes, we are so very poor despite having accumulated mega tons of money and Nazi gold for ourselves; yes, sir, give us some dosh"." Matty mimicked.


"I tell him I haven't got anything for him, he tries again, I tell him the same thing." Jeonghan started up again. "Next thing the Priest - Minister - appears, and he goes through this again. I tell him to get lost because I'm getting sick of this -"


"What were you doing?" Joshua nearly snapped. This was doing his head in. Meanwhile, Kaito and Seungcheol were captivated, and Matty looked frustratingly cool and effortless with that cigarette, leaning on his elbows on Joshua's bench in the kitchen.


"Over the top of the Anglican church in Yeouido is this terrific view."


"Right." Joshua and Matty talked.


"Next thing I know he kisses me." Jeonghan flushed a deep colour, looking quite awkward all of a sudden. Matty commented how fucking sick that was. Joshua couldn't get a word in for five minutes as Matty chattered on how they deal with "dirty priests" in England.


"Where exactly?" Joshua finally managed to say to Jeonghan.


"On my...you know, butt." Jeonghan said shyly.


"Where abouts?" Matty elaborated.


Joshua laughed with Seungcheol. He couldn't help it. The whole thing was ludicrous. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Matty eyeing up Kaito.


"On the side...by my hip." Jeonghan looked sick all of a sudden.


"We've been saying for years - us atheists - that all biblebashers are a bunch of cunts -" Matty said.


"Enough of that." Joshua talked over him loudly.


"I thought you weren't a pro-bible-basher." Matty remarked, raising an eyebrow/


"I'm sick of you swearing." Joshua replied honestly.


"You smashed a plate over my head." Matty retorted indignantly.


"You were being a dick. You had just punched and bitten -" Joshua started shouting.


"What's this?" Seungcheol, Kaito and Jeonghan said.


"Let's go home aisidu, talking rubbish here is pointless." The next thing Joshua knew Kaito was dragging him out the door, and he was on the back of Kaito's new Kasawaki motorcycle.


"See how much nicer it is just away from all that?" Kaito said, giving Joshua a spare helmet. 


"Can we stop at a newsagents on the way home?" Joshua asked Kaito.

 

----------------------------------

 

The news story was printed. The talk of a sordid paid affair between a same-sex couple. They portrayed me as being nineteen rather than twenty-four, and they used the photograph of me in the lobby but it was so pixelated that you couldn't tell if I was a man or something out of Doctor Who. On the news later that night they showed his wife and children in tears as other media outlets and journalists camped outside their house. Two police officers stood guard outside their front door, and there were Worker's Party of Korea supporters crowded in the streets - as shown on the television - wearing LGBT+ clothes and others shouting, "You're a hypocrite!" due to him and the rest of his party vocally been against LGBT+ rights and supporting conversaion therapy.


What has it achieved? It's been an intrusion on my life, it's broken up a family and a marriage, it's ruined the man's career and it's ruined his life. 


Most people are rejoicing at this blow to the Liberty Korea and their government. But it's not the government or its elected party.


It's one man and his wife and their children.


I haven't really realized how fast the Winter went. With it goes Kaito back to Japan. It doesn't give me a spiritual kind of happiness that he's going back to his home. It makes me depressed as fuck.


It just makes me tired.


Joshua didn't help Kaito pack his things. Kaito had asked if he wanted to come around to his Dad's house for a bit, and Joshua had said he'd rather go home. 


The truth is I didn't want Kaito to go home. I had virtually ignored him for six months. It was all chaos with Jeonghan and Seungcheol, the disaster in Russia with Min-ho, Hyung-Woo and Min-ho leaving, then Camille and Matty and the guys.


"I'm not trying to upset you, aisidu." Kaito said to him. 

Chapter Text

"Whoo!" Camille vocalized as she walked along a fallen log, holding onto Joshua's hand so she didn't go arse over head in the Seoul Botanical Gardens.


I was trying to make something real with Camille. That's the bit that keeps getting me that I can't figure out. I'm supposed to be making it real with her, but, honestly, I do it better with Kaito


It was still cool weather even though it was now February. Joshua found Camille's wardrobe astounding; it was a bit of everything. Today, she was the 2008-2010 era quintessential chic-cum-birth-of-the-hipster-mentality. Black 1930's style shoes with a heel, black tights, red wool mini-skirt, a white jumper with dark red breton stripes, a grey snood scarf, and a grey beanie. 


"What would you wear if you were a woman?" Camille asked Joshua.


"I don't know. Jeans, t-shirts...nice things."


Camille laughed. "I'm serious. You can tell me."


All of a sudden the sound of Kodaline music filled the air before Joshua could speak. 


"Ooh, someone's having a party!" Camille enthused. "Let's sticky-beak." She pulled on Joshua's hand.


Across the park from the river, there was a children's birthday party. Cars were parked all around the lawn with toys and other presents and balloons; a table was filled with food and mum's and dad's sat there talking and smiling and looking happy while children in costumes - pirates, doctor's, faerie's, ballerinas and even one pint-sized Elvis Presley - were running around after each other in a game of tag to the Irish rock music.


"Aw." Camille leant her head against Joshua's. "I think I'd like a couple of kids one day. Two or three. Maybe six."


Joshua chuckled with her. "Longer style skirts." He said to her question earlier about women's clothes. "High-heeled boots; shirts and blouses and stuff with flowers on them. Red things. Not just red; cherry red, pinky-red, red like your skirt." He pointed down to the fabric. "Being a Dad would be great. I'm terrified I'd fuck it up, though."


"I'm terrified of actually been pregnant and then having to give birth and that. All those hospital shows on TV; I can't watch them. There was once a woman have a caesarean section and I turned it off altogether. Don't know what I'd do if I lost the baby."


I don't know what I'd do either. I don't suppose it would feel really real to me. The baby's not really mine. It's in her stomach, in her body. I don't think men can really feel it in the same depth that they do. 


Women don't get that. They just don't understand how upset we men get too over a miscarriage. Our baby too, even it it's only the size of a jelly bean in her stomach. I told Camille that.


"You got to understand that for all the dumb bitches that carry on about feminism - it's bullshit. Not all men treat women like they say they do. My men - Father, Grandfather, all the generations back - were good men who respected women. Most women are dumb, stupid, ignorant, uptight bitches who bitch and snarl and act like a cunt." Camille replied. "There is no one that gives a woman a harder time about her face, weight, hair, skin, life, job, children and home than another woman. In some fucked up way it sustains our gender - to fuck around and bitch at everything."


"You don't have many girl friends do you?" Joshua asked.


"I don't have any girl friends. They're all tarts." Camille said. Joshua laughed, even thought it was slightly apalled. "Most women are cunts." She gazed at him side-on. "I'm going to stop working for Gerda; pursue me and the guys music.

Chapter Text

"This is where we filmed "Midnight (Lose My Mind)." Camille tooked Joshua through photographs on her laptop and a series of videos that the drummer and Matty had taken. They were sitting on the same side of a table in the booth seat of a cafe at the window.


"Didn't you get a bit awkward been naked in front of the guys?" Joshua asked.


"No, not really. I get naked in front of weird men all the time." Camille grinned. "I'd love to make a MV for a song with Keira Knightley in it." She told Joshua. "She's gorgeous, I love her." Her eyes twinkled warmly. "Who do you like?"


"Uh...Enimem, Drake, Jonas Brothers, Jason Durelo." Joshua replied.


"No, you idiot. Famous girls; pick one or two or a couple."


"You." Joshua said. Camille laughed. 


"Alright, I'll guess." Her nose wrinkled slightly as she pursed her lips. "Not the twat girls."


"Who are the twat girls?"


"Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Selena Gomez -"


"Oh, God!" Joshua laughed, resting his heand against his forehead, his elbow on the table. 


"Let me guess - it's one of the model girls. Victoria's Secret or something."


"Maybe." Joshua said to appease her.


"Not Gigi or Bella is it? Adriana Lima? Jessica Gomes? Are...I'm trying to remember more of them." Camilla checked.


"Very beautiful but no." Joshua said.


"Shit, right."


Joshua laughed again. "Gigi's hot, she's beautiful. I like her." He said.

 

---------------------------------------

 

"Where do you actually live?" Joshua asked Matty on the phone.


"Where it looks most like England."


"Where's that then?"


"Look, it's a bit of a mess right now."


"Come around to mine then."


Matty went quiet on the other end. "You alright?" Joshua checked.


"You know I'm fucked up and dumb right?" Matty remarked.


"You're depressed." Joshua replied.


"Fuck's sake..." Matty swore, before fading off.


"Matty?" Joshua checked.


"...there's, like, this footage of Americans..." Matty said eventually, slow-toned. "Leading an elephant down a hallway to do experiments on it. Electric psychotic shock treatment, that sort of shit. Bought it off the Indian government." A coughing sound was heard in the background. "Fucking cunts they are...yet everyone sucks up Yank arsehole...American arse."


"Matty?" All Joshua could hear was his soft breathing.


"Jesus Christ they're cunts alive. Infected." Matty sighed. "I'm going back to the UK. I can't stand it here." He paused. "You're a nice guy. Fucked-up, but nice."


"What do you mean I'm fucked-up?" Joshua asked him.


"'course you're fucked-up. You shag people for money. Camille's fucked-up too; why she did it too. Yeah, I know she's packed it in. You ever wanna come over to the place, I'll tell you where not to go. Dyfed-Powys in Wales - if any murders, robberies, rapes or cannibalism will happen, it's in Dyfed-Powys."


"Ok. Well...like..." Joshua laughed. "Ok."


"Not really satisfactory is it?" Matty sighed through his nose.


"No." Joshua chewed the inside of his lower lip.


"See you, love." Matty said.


"Hang on, one thing before you go." Joshua asked the Welshman.


"Yeah, alright." Matty granted him.


"What's it like when you get high? Would we fly?" Joshua asked.

 

Chapter Text

One night I had coke and then I came to Millie's house; I saw you and I realized how hot and sweet you were like vanilla is


"Jesus." Joshua looked up at his face in the bathroom mirror, gripping the bench. "Shit, fuck - fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!" With each "fuck" he hit his fists against the bench before thrusting his hands into his hair and gripping tightly, pulling on the strands and squeezing his eyes shut as he tried to get that memory out of his head.


"Fuck." he said again, looking at his face once more.


The photographs that Jeonghan took that I dressed up for - they're everywhere all over Europe, America, Australia, Russia and the UK in stupid Indie magazines and Pinterest, tumblr, Instagram, twitter. No one does Facebook these days. Facebook sucks.


The motto that goes with the "art" that was created is, "We're all just a bunch of captialists not giving a fuck about the dark side of the Anglo-American-aesthetic dream while we're at the forefront of failing modernity". A decent translation is, "Our parents and grandparents were idiots fucking it up and been dickheads - hippies, business people, revolutionaries, too much freedom, no common sense - in the sixties and seventies. How gaudy and sickening and downright retarded it is. Now we're all the same fucking useless grandchildren and children. Watch the orange juice be tipped into the toaster that is also a hairdryer that electrocutes the boy in the Chanel dress that looks like someone's been sick on it [fabric pattern]. Watch the kids with the pudding bowl haircuts have flowers grow out their ears with naked hippies draped over a television set playing 1960's batman cartoons while Mum in the violent pink lipstick and blue eye-shadow looks at said naked hippies."


Yeah. I'm in a bad mood.

 

------------------------------

 

"Will you do it again?"


"I'm not taking up dressing as a girl. Yeah, I fuck men but - no. No."


"Nobody knows."


"My mother saw it on Pinterest and said how much the model looked like me."


"Oh fuck."


"It's alright, I'm joking. She hasn't, Hannie. I just don't want to do it."


"Why not? You were alright with it earlier."


Joshua hesitated.


I'm ashamed, ok? I really feel like a fucking idiot for doing that. I had trouble going to sleep at night for the past few days because of it. I was just trying to help Jeonghan. Doesn't make much sense, does it? I go and do it and then I feel like an idiot


"Get lost." He said neatly. Jeonghave gave up. They talked for half an hour about Seungcheol, who still hadn't got back in touch with Lily. Joshua vented a bit by yelling to Jeonghan on the phone about Seungcheol and how stupid he was been.


"He will give Lily a mental breakdown doing this!" Joshua finished off his rant.


"But he can't force him." Jeonghan reasoned.


"Bullshit!" Joshua shouted. "He needs to grow the fuck up!"


After he ended the call with Jeonghan, he got his first call from Gerda since Christmas.


"I've got a new girl on, and I was wondering if you'd introduce her and have a bit of talk?" Gerda asked him.


"How old is she?" Joshua said.


"Twenty." Gerda replied. He didn't trust her.


"How old is she actually?" Joshua crossed his arms.


"Nineteen." Gerda said.


"Gerda -" Joshua began.


"She's very sweet, eager to learn -"


"This is prostitution not a job at a office, Gerda." Joshua cut through Gerda's rubbish.


"Which she knows. I'll send her around to your house in an hour." Gerda said sharply, before hanging up abruptly.


"Ok." Joshua said to the ceiling.

 

-----------------------------

 

"Heya, are you Jisoo?" A bright, bubbly girl smiled up at him, a clutch handbag held in her hands at her front. She had long black style styled in loose, graceful curls. She had huge eyes, a doll-like face, the embodiment of ulzzang beauty. She was wearing a wrap-waist black mini-dress and leather ankle boots in a latte-colour.


"Yeah, come inside." He stood back and let her in. The girl's boots clicked on the floor as Joshua settled her into the sitting room.
"Gerda told me I should come and see you and get some of your advice and talk to you because you've done this for a couple of years now. I've been thinking about getting into this for ages now - I mean, I've done a bit in films - my brother's friend, his porn film thing that he did." The girl smiled happily. "I love your website by the way. It's so clever, and you're all sorted out and happy, I love it!"


"Thanks, but, um, there are obviously downsides." Joshua didn't want to kill the girl's optimism and positivity, but he was quite aware that she really wasn't aware of the realism or the dark side of the job. A pornography set - particularly with her brother and his friends - that was a controlled environment, a safe environment. Not like the real world. The girl nodded attentively.


"Relationships became virtually impossible, the work can take a strain on you, you lie all the time and work strange hours -"


"Oh, I do that anyway." The girl enthused. She and Joshua laughed; his more was nervous than hers.


"Well, I've come up with a name." The girl glowed. "I want to be called Bambi. Because that's what people used to call me at school."


"Bambi, right because you're quite doe-eyed?" Joshua gestured at his eyes.


"No, it's cause my Mum got shot." Bambi told him soberly. Joshua blinked, taken aback. 


What the fuck do you reply to that sort of thing?


"I'm so sorry." He said.


"No, I'm only joking!" Bambi giggled suddenly, her eyes twinkling. Joshua nodded slowly, not quite out of the shock yet.


"Why do you want to escort Bambi?" Joshua asked her.


"Money." She replied. "What about you?"


"What about me what?" Joshua faltered.


"Why do you do it?" Bambi repeated.


"Well, I, uh..."


"Oh, it's ok if you don't want to talk about it." Bambi gazed him understandingly.


"No, I - I wasn't abused by a relative and I'm not on drugs and never have been, nothing like that." Joshua said quickly. "I got into it for money as well." He looked over Bambi's shoulder as he heard his phone ring. Bambi insisted he went and got it, and he was thankful she didn't mind; the phone that was ringing was his personal phone rather than the work one.


"Hey, what is it?" Joshua said to Jeonghan.


"We've fixed it with Seungcheol." Jeonghan said. "Six 'o' clock you need to be down at the big garden centre thing in the City."


"You ok?" Bambi asked as Joshua came back into the sitting room. "What's gone wrong?"


"No, nothing, it's alright...a friend's getting a proposal organized tonight." Joshua told her simply. 


It was the first time I had come across someone like Bambi in this line of work. I wondered if her personality would still be the same after a few months. It'd be nice if it was.
She's too young. I don't care what Gerda's opinion is. Bambi's too young

 

-----------------------------------

 

I don't know why I was nervous. It wasn't like Seungcheol was going to do anything stupid like push Lily into the river, or throw the ring and it's box into the water somewhere. 
But I figured there was a reaosn to be nervous.


When I turned up there with Jeonghan, all you could smell was toast.


"What's that?"


"Something's on fire."


"It smells like your kitchen."


"Jeonghan..." Joshua and Jeonghan were able to laugh as they saw the toast-smell was coming from a few little contained bonfires in stone basins at each of the four points of a small square courtyard. Lily was wearing a knee-length pink dress with no sleeves and a gathered waist. She was standing in the centre of the courtyard talking to Seungcheol; she was holding both his hands and looking soft-expressioned.


"Oh, look, look!" Jeonghan nudged Joshua's ribs as Seungcheol got down on one knee, and presented his Grandmother's wedding ring to Lily. Her hands flew to her mouth, and her knees bobbed for a moment. Joshua leant against Jeonghan as a few other people enjoying the Spring weather watched on.


"Cue the singing..." Jeonghan muttered. Joshua snorted a laugh as suddenly "All You Need Is love" by The Beatles began to blare through the gardens and the river.


Lily's wedding song. Maybe it'll come to be Seungcheol's too. The Beatles aren't bad; old, John and George are dead, Paul is someone's Grandfather and Ringo has a yacht in the Mediterranean, but not bad music.


Lily began to cry, and Joshua burst out laughing as Jeonghan stressed, "I haven't got any tissues - I hope Cheol has otherwise she'll ruin her makeup!"


Seungcheol and Lily looked over to the two of them; Lily waved, smiling through her tears, her pretty face crumpled and wet. Seungcheol shouted out, "We're not done yet!"


"I should have brought my camera." Jeonghan muttered, looking euphoric. Joshua squeezed his arm.


Lily crouched down on the ground, but instead of Seungcheol standing up, he sat down on the stone pavement. He had taken home the ring that Lily had bought for him in turn.
"Shit!" Lily yelled all of a sudden. She fell down to her bum on the ground, nearly wetting herself laughing. People looked over at her language.


"It doesn't fucking fit!" She shouted over to Joshua and Jeonghan. "Cheol's knuckles are too big." She lay on her back on the ground, still laughing her head off. Seungcheol lay beside her on the ground and they stayed like that. Jeonghan and Joshua went over and sat beside them on the ground while Seungcheol and Lily half-mumbled how there had to be one element that had to go wrong.


"You wouldn't be happy if it were perfect."


"Nope." Lily beamed, and wrapped her hand around Seungcheol's tie, bringing him in for a kiss.


I haven't ever really written about sex. I've written about clients, the up and down chaos and day-to-day life with Seungcheol, Jeonghan, Seong-hun, Kaito, Hyung-Woo, Min-ho, and Gerda. I overheard a discussion the other day, on what is "kinky". Well, kinky means kinks. Twists and curves and a human being; and, somewhere on the line, is another human being that fits in strangely and wonderfully with those kinks. Everyone has kinks, desires, hiddens secrets, hidden pleasures. We don't nessecarily want to exbound every single one of those beautiful, depraved, disasterous, ridiculous, cringe-worthy, laughable things out to a person, even another who has the same kinks, desires, hidden secrets, hidden pleasures that are just as beautiful, depraved, disasterous, ridiculous, cringe-worthy, and laughable as our own. Maybe even more so. We're the living thing of all of that - kinks and curves and twists. My relationship with Jeonghan, Seungcheol's relationship with Lily, Kaito's relationship with me,  my relationship with Gerda. Nothing is ever straight. 


That's why I don't get why people say "gay" and "straight". What's "straight"? Been heterosexual isn't "straight". But then being homosexual isn't "gay" either; they have all the ups-and-down's and heartbreaks and miseries as heterosexual couples do. 


Everyone has had - at some point in their life; probably their adolescence, or their mid-thirties, or half-drunk in their twenties - the thought of where they have gone, "I'm desperate for sex. With a man, with a woman, with a "they" - I don't care. I'm really, really desperate for a shag. And a lover. Something continual. Not everlasting. But around at two 'o' clock in the morning when I can't sleep, or at morning tea time on a weekend while everyone else is at markets, churches, and general arsing about. And eventually if they have to go - an IMMEDIATE REPLACEMENT. Who is just as good. Or just better. With a bit of a personality or visual reminisence to the old one. The by-gone lover."
The eternal salvation someone else might say.


And been desperate for sex and been desperate for love doesn't nessecarily mean, "horny". "Horny" is...horny is an non-descriptive, in-human way of giving motion and desire to sex. "Horny" is two life-forms rutting together, putting parts of themselves in another, giving displays for the other of their body.


Whereas "Desperate For Sex" comes under the area of people not just wanting what "horny" embodies. They want kisses, human touch. That awkward moment of when you have to get your shoes off if everything has been turned on for both particpants in the rush. Quite a few people have had that; "Oh, we need to get your shoes off - that's why I can't get your jeans off!"


There's only one way to deal with something like that. You laugh about it; tuck your hair behind your ears; smile. You get up and you get those wretched shoes off, and, hopefully, the sexy bubble hasn't burst, and you get back to where you paused.


People remember things like that. Not just how good the fingers were, or the inch-length of the penis, or how her/his tongue was like an industrial vacumn cleaner. People remember the shoe problem, and how you wandered into the spare bedroom instead of your partners bedroom, so you decided to pack it in and just have sex on the loungeroom floor.

Chapter Text

"If we're having an engagement party, you know the couple are supposed to be here, right?" Joshua said to Camille. She was wearing a paper hat that was from a left-over Christmas cracker that the Drummer's parents had brought around, and her lipstick was slightly smudged. Her eyes twinkled.


"In toast of Choi Seungcheol and something-a-rather Lily!" She bellowed out a toast, holding up a glass of white wine; the rest of the band mimicked the gesture and the bellow with beer bottles. The bass guitarist had stiches in his neck and face, and most of the bandages could be taken off; he was wearing large, waterproof padded dressings.


"Do you know what's her surname is?" Camille hiccuped. The boys laughed.


"No idea." Joshua replied. All of them had been in the middle of doing something music-related - notebooks, pens, and guitars were spread everywhere - when Joshua had turned up to see Camille.


"No fuss, babe, no fuss." She had dragged him into the kitchen from the front door to search for "mysteriously located plonk".


"Can you sing?" Camille asked him after taking a sip of the wine from her glass.


"Not that well, and not in a long time." Joshua ducked his head as he spoke.


"Do a few notes for me."


Joshua tried his best a mid-level "ah", and instantly he was horrified at the sound that came out. Camille smiled tenderly.


"Matty wrote a bit before he went home. Poor sweetheart. We've no one to perform it now; you want to have a look?" Camille said to him. Joshua followed her through to the sitting room and she produced a inch-thick folder of paper.


"The music is on top - the handwritten stuff - and beneath is the legal paperwork; the credits and rights for Matty's name on the song as a writer and producer and then us as a band behind it, and a space for whoever might perform it as the written song." Camille explained. Joshua looked at a top sheet of paper. The title was written in a word Joshua guessed to be Welsh, but the rest of it was in English.


Walk into the hyper-colour Banksy paradise


Raspberry lipstick taste of yours


"Which would taste revolting, by the way." Camille said. "Matty always said how lipstick made by Rimmel London tasted like physical nerve gas."


I get so lost on the light up floor


Would you believe it?


You don't have to say you love the world


You don't have to say nothing


You don't have to say your past


Darlin'


Walk through a war-zone for you


Just let me hold you


Oh, Darlin'


Walk through any death-zone for you


Just let me hold you


Like it's the only thing I'll ever do


"It doesn't quite make sense, but Matty said that his Dad was in the RAF." Camille said. "He flew the helicopters as he got older but when he was young - our age - he and another guy flew in supply planes to the Middle East and Africa."


"He's a Banksy fan?" Joshua asked.


"Don't know." Camille shrugged.


You're a wonder exposed like the Northern Lights


Illuminated soul and light over dusk


Would you believe it?


You don't have to say you love the world


You don't have to say nothing


I just want you to know that you have been on my mind


Darlin'


Walk through a war-zone for you


Just let me hold you


Oh, honey


Walk through any death-zone for you


Just let me hold you


Like it's the only thing I'll ever do


Like it's the only thing I'll ever do


(It's the only thing I'll ever do) 8x


Walk through a war-zone for you


Just let me hold you


Oh, honey


Walk through any death-zone for you


Just let me hold you


Like it's the only thing I'll ever do


Walk through a war-zone for you


Just let me hold you


Oh darlin', oh darlin'


Walk through a war-zone for you


Just let me hold you


Oh darlin'


Just let me hold you


Like it's the only thing I'll ever do


"I'd love to know who he wrote that for." Drummer said.


"His wife." Synth said. "Obviously. Of course they'd be for his dead wife."


Despite what they said, I had a feeling that that wasn't quite it. 

 

-------------------------------

 

I'm not sure why I agreed to do this. Get up on stage and sing the promotion release of "Hold You". But either way, I have done it.


Joshua talked to Fred on the phone as Camille attacked a kickboxing bag outside in her tiny back garden.


In boxing, you work in sets of seven punches; twenty-five repitions, for example, of seven punches. Punch, punch, upper-cut, upper-cut, punch, punch, punch. Repeat the twenty-five repitions seven times to make a decent ten minutes. You've got a thousand, two hundred and twenty five punches. If you work like Camilla works for a whole hour and forty minutes, you have thirty thousand, six hundred and twenty five punches.


I don't know why women put so much effort into stomach exercises. Flex your stomach inwards like a vacuum or just tense your lower abs while you box for a couple of minutes; five sets of one-minute sessions. The next morning when she wake up you take an inch off your waist, and you can feel the tightness in your stomach.
The only thing boxing doesn't give you is a thigh-gap. So Camille nearly kills herself doing it. She got into a deep lunge and couldn't get up again. I didn't mind helping her back up; we had a laugh over it. She was a bit shocked; that hadn't happened before. But then we discovered she couldn't walk. She stood for less than a second, then crashed like a baby taking its first steps. We tried again, I stood her up, and Camille crashed head-first across the floor.


I brought up a cup of green tea for her; her stomach kept undulating and making bizarre noises; you would have thought she had a bad Indian. I got a bucket out the laundry in case she did start throwing up.


She said the trick to keeping her "hooker" figure is to drink alcohol, burn it off, and don't eat much food.


I'm not trying to start anything by saying this, but women are funny creatures.


Camille's a funny creature.


Incredibly misogynistic, highly realistic, mildly cantankerous, almost violent, huge temper, but she's also very sweet and caring and very strong. She's gorgeous.
But do I invite her to Lily and Seungcheol's wedding even though I'm already in a position where I should be asking her, and should be wanting to ask her to come along?
Camille's not a nasty drunk. But she can create chaos like world war three.


She's different since Matty left. They were a good couple. Very alike each other. Even though he used profanities most of the time when he talked to her, you could tell he cared.
Would you believe it?

Chapter Text

"Let's try it again." Camille said patiently. "Mimick me. "I get so lost on the light up floor -" She looked over to Joshua. "Mid-level, honey; embalance the words."


"I get so lost on the light up floor..." Joshua sang the line. Camille nodded.


"Now nice and brisk. Would you believe it. Like - would you believe it?" Camille ducked her head, and swung her shoulders. Joshua got what she was trying to get across. You had to perform the words and get its rhythm.


"And then we get to the next bit, You don't have to say you love the world / You don't have to say nothing / You don't have to say your past - it's like you can't control your air-flow. Try it a bit more." Camille made a circular gesture with her index and middle fingers. It took fifteen minutes to get it down to a fine art; Joshua thought Camille's patience was incredible. 


"Look, it might be too big a ask - you don't have to do this, babe - but can you say Darlin' in English without saying the "g" and the end? Can you do it in a British accent? Like Hugh Grant or something? You know Hugh Grant?" Camille asked, running her hand through her thick black hair. 


"Darlin'." Joshua tried.


"No, no, no, that's German." Camille shook her head. Joshua scoffed a silent laugh.


"Darlin'." He attempted it again.


"You know what? Nevermind about it."


"Why?"


"You sound Irish, now." Camille snapped her fingers. "Run the chorus, again."


"Walk through a war-zone for you / Just let me hold you / Oh, Darlin' / Walk through any death-zone for you / Just let me hold you / Like it's the only thing I'll ever do."


A smile slowly bloomed on Camille's face. "That's it, honey." She enthused. "I'm not meaning to be bossy or demanding -"


"You're not." Joshua said to her.


"You sure you're alright with singing this? Just for the promotion back at Anobrain?" Camille asked.


"Why do you and the band keep going back to play at Anobrain?" Joshua asked her in turn.


"It's a special place for us. It's where we got discovered. It's a huge bar with a huge stage and a huge audience. It creates attention, and it gives us an aesthetic. We don't shun the roots we were born and discovered of. We go back and see them again and nurture it, you know?" Camille's hands moved around in front of her body as she talked. "But, in saying that, we need performance. We need oomph. We're doing the gig Saturday night which means we need to get you doing it with the band - which you'll do right on - but I need to show you how to move. Like, you know how I move? What I do up on stage? It's all part of the act. You've got to have the passion and feel the music and I know it's Matty's song and everything -"


"It's cool." Joshua nodded.

 

---------------------------------

 

"Hello." Joshua greeted Fred in his usual English-style clothes; neatly-buttoned collared shirt, tie, navy blazer, neat jeans and neat shoes with his neat brown eyes, mouth and combed hair. Joshua was waiting naked on the bed upstairs in the professional room.


People think I'm at least half graceful and a Christian well-to-do gentleman. If I am, then I've got nothing on Fred, who is genuinely the real-deal.


Joshua hummed as Fred lay down on the beside him. He wrapped his hand in Fred's tie, bringing him in close.


For all the world outside my job, I'm still a prostitute with a on-going relationship with twenty-three men who just want one thing from me.


And everyone knows all gentlemen liked it rough


Joshua pulled the older man over the top of him, hand still wrapped in his tie; Joshua's knees rested each side of Fred's hips as he kissed him firm and hard, no room for any other decisions. Even though he and Fred shared equal control, Joshua felt a bit light-headed. Fred's large hands came to rest beneath Joshua's body - one hand at the small of his back and the other on the top of his back. Joshua's hands groped over Fred's chest and clutched at the crook of his shoulders and neck.


Fred broke apart them apart, his chest going up and down with heavy breath refinedly, his eyes darker in colour and half-lidded. Joshua found that more seductive than if Fred had been wide-eyed and glazed all over with lust like a few clients in particular got. Joshua glanced down at him, feeling the heat of a flush burn like a wildfire on and beneath his skin. Fred was just as affected as he was, his chest hot to the touch and the two of them hard. 


"So," Fred started with a smile which Joshua responded with by pressing his hand over his mouth to stop a laugh. He felt it would have made Fred feel like he was taking the piss.


"You're such a gentlemen." Joshua chuckled, moving his hand and touching Fred's mouth tenderly. "Even when I'm naked you're a total gentleman."


"I think the best time to be a gentleman is when someone is naked." Fred replied quiet-toned. "Only course of action in polite society; if not, it's a kick up the arse."


Joshua couldn't help it; he burst out laughing, wrapping his arms around Fred and laughing into his chest which temporarily caused a problem, Fred's arms already been around him at an awkward angle. Joshua's face was momentarily squashed and suffocated between the bottom of Fred's ribs. The older man was still dressed.


"You want to do it?" Joshua asked, pulling a bottle of lube out from beneath a pillow. Fred was stripping off his clothes, and he was lying sideways across the bed, on knee raised with his foot on the mattress, the other leg hanging over the edge of the mattress, that edge at the back of his knee.


Joshua's eyes followed Fred as he walked to the end of the bed. Fred was pleased to see that Joshua's lips was bruised from kissing and his hair a mess. A second later, he took hold of the sheets and duvet and pulled them off the bed, bringing Joshua with them with a yelp from the younger man.


It was all my fault. Usually it is rough and hot, but that night I ruined most of it by laughing every five seconds. He must have thought I was on cocaine


Opening the bottle, Fred poured a generous amount of lube onto his fingers as Joshua watched with wide eyes beneath him. Just as Joshua opened his mouth to speak, Fred's hand disappeared inbetween Joshua's legs and a finger disappeared inside him without much resistance. Joshua's head tipped back and he moaned at the feeling, without breaking contact with Fred. Fred remained quiet and focused, gazing too at Joshua, as he worked him open with one finger. Joshua lay at a half lying half sitting angle against the bed surrounded by the linen, with his knees drawn up and his legs spread for Fred.


Without thinking, Joshua reach forward and took Fred's length in his hand, rubbing his fingers across the vein beneath, smiling slightly at the contact making Fred work him slightly harder. Joshua didn't have any complaints. He felt high. 


Fred didn't make a sound, but his eyes gave everything away; Joshua felt more blood rush down south, his skin tingling and hot. Joshua moaned softly as Fred pressed his mouth against his neck, making the air around them suffocating as he planted kisses all over Joshua's chest.


Another moan escaped his lips as Fred slipped another finger inside Joshua. Joshua's knees either side of Fred trembled at the sensation and his hands automatically flew up to rest on Fred's hips, gripping his sides tightly.


Beads of sweat dotted Joshua's forehead as Fred stretched him. He now had three of Fred's fingers knuckle deep inside himself. "You look gorgeous right now." Fred murmured, eyes fixed on Joshua's. Joshua managed a smile but it was an expression that made Fred feel wild. The younger man was beautiful; from the moment Fred had seen him been cornered by his cantankerous octogenarian Father, he had thought he was beautiful. But now he transcended something even more, and Fred didn't know how he achieved and deserved it; he was a forty-something photographer and studio owner with a British education. "Don't I - always?" Joshua moaned again, his back arching, as Fred's fingers unknowingly brushed against his prostate and Fred shifted forward slightly, pressing his mouth across Joshua's and swallowing the younger man's sounds. Joshua's hands crept up into Fred's hair and entwined the strands through his fingertips, pulling at the tips as they kissed each other with an ease that came from Fred's age and Joshua's job experience.


When Joshua pulled apart, a lewd trail of saliva connected their lips together. He deftly wiped it away before pressing quick kisses against Fred's mouth; across the lower lip, the corner of his mouth, the cupid's bow, not giving in to the open-mouthed connection they had had a few moments ago. 


Fred began to thrust shallowly inside Joshua, his fingers only brushing the younger boy's prostate and sending jolts of pleasure throughout him. Joshua's penis was trapped in-between their feverish bodies and briefly, unfaithfully, Joshua thought of Kaito with his long, long black hair; how wild it made him when he pulled it hard enough that black strands would be pulled out by the roots. 


"You like it, don't you?" Joshua mused, still playing with Fred's hair, the two of them close enough that their noses brushed occasionally. "You like your fingers fucking me, don't you?" Joshua pressed his thumb into the hollow of Fred's throat, giving a pressure that wasn't enough to choke him, but still made the older man's eyes dilate black. Joshua grabbed Fred's chin, holding it in-between his fingers. "Should we keep doing it then?" He exhaled a breath into Fred's mouth, their noses and foreheads pressed together. Joshua sunk down and made Fred follow him down to the floor, searching him. "You think you can get me off just by fucking me with your fingers?" He rolled his head on his shoulders, the back of his scalp against the floor. Fred was just as good as this as he was; Fred gazed down at him, not giving anything away.


"Well?" Joshua said. "Come on and do something." Before Fred could respond, Joshua sat up like a rock and shoved Fred back to the ground in the position he had formerly been in. Joshua moved over the top of Fred, teasing him; he lowered down his mouth to kiss him, but would pull back, or his move his mouth up so Fred had to thrust his hand into Joshua's hair and pull him down roughly. They rolled onto their sides, and Joshua got one back on Fred as well, gripping his hair as well; Joshua's left thigh was over Fred's hip, and both of their cocks were pressed together.


"Fred — ah..." Joshua breathed out, his eyes slipped shut. Still gripping onto Fred's hair with one hand, the other hand slipped down to touch himself. 


However, Fred grabbed Joshua's hand before he could start anything. "No, no, Josh. Don't touch yourself. Let's make you come just with my fingers."


Joshua's lips parted as he breath not to heavy, not trying to smother Fred in the close proximity, and he nodded his head slowly. "Well, you're going to have to work and get inside me so I can come. I want you cock." He told Fred, sliding his tongue over the man's mouth, the backs of his fingertips carressing the underside of Fred's jaw. 


"No, I have an even better idea." Fred spoke up after a moment of silence. He moved over the top of Joshua, and Joshua let him, arms flung above his head on his back. A second later, Fred flipped him again more roughly, and he was lying on his front with his penis pressed into the carpet. He didn't try to push himself up as only another moment later shivers ran up and down his spine from a kiss from Fred at the base of his spine. Joshua's face pressed against the floor, and he rested his head on his arms, waiting as his heart pounded in his chest, a heartbeat more like a drumbeat. He thought about Kaito and how the Korean-Japanese youth and once done this to him. It was the first time Joshua had had sex in a car. Kaito had borrowed his Father's SUV, and Joshua had tried to help, but had mostly pissed himself laughing as Kaito tried for half an hour to get the back seats down in the boot in the Mercedes Benz. "German made heaps of shit..." Kaito had kept muttering to himself.


Fred quickly pushed Joshua's legs open and leaned forward and breathed out onto the inside of Joshua's thigh. Joshua bit into his wrist; he was reminded of how sensitive his thighs were to touches soft and sensual like that.


Fred mumbled something that Joshua didn't catch, but each word sent another breath of hot air onto Joshua's thigh and he tried not to squirm, though he wasn't uncomfortable. 


Fred leaned forward and his fingers pulled Joshua's cheeks apart to expose his puckered hole. Joshua bit his wrist again as Fred's tongue experimentally darted out and into his hole.


"Ah - ah!" Joshua panted even though his legs were urging Fred forward.


"Fred!" Joshua gasped at the foreign feeling, jolting.  Not many of his clients did that. It had been a long time since Kaito had done it to him that time as well. Tonight was full of newly remembered sensations and it wasn't a bad feeling. It was a new way of getting high.


Fred licked his tongue over Joshua's entrance carefully, waiting to hear for any protest. Joshua shuddered again, moaning. Fred pushed his tongue inside and began to thrust erratically. Joshua rolled his hips back, trying to get as much as touch and sense as he could. Joshua moaned loudly, writhing beneath Fred. His movements were so strong that the older man had to hold Joshua down as he used his tongue to fuck the younger man.


Wanting the younger to come soon, Fred reached upwards and stroked Joshua in time with his tongue. With the combined sensations as well as the earlier foreplay, it wasn't long before Joshua's vision exploded into whiteness and he came groaning Fred's name, teeth sunken into his wrist. Fred moved away from Joshua to let him sit up. His eyes slid down Joshua's body and caught at the slick colour on his left wrist. Fred roughly gathered him up into his arms and clutched Joshua tightly to his body, sliding his tongue in Joshua's mouth and then biting the younger man's own tongue. Joshua ground down on Fred's lap which he straddled. Joshua gripped and pulled at Fred's hair and murmured against his mouth while the man's length strained against his stomach, "You're so good. You're so good." Joshua's head leant against Fred's shoulder. Joshua grinded against the elder until Fred was panting loudly into his ear. "Let's see if you can come without being inside me then." Joshua whispered seductively into Fred's ear before nipping at the flesh.


In retaliation, Fred sucked a hickey on the junction between Joshua's neck and shoulder. Once he was satisfied with the mark, Fred bit on Joshua's bottom lip until he drew blood. "Or we can see if I can make you come again just with my tongue." He growled deeply, pressing their foreheads together.


By then, Joshua was hard and needy again for Fred. He leaned forward, capturing Fred's lips in a heated kiss as he moved his hips sensually. Growling into his mouth, Fred groped blindly on the floor for the bottle of lube and hastily conditioned himself up.


"Come on, show me what you can do." Joshua ordered in a low voice as he raised himself up.

The elder man held his member and Joshua positioned himself before sinking down slowly on Fred's cock.


Once Fred was fully sheathed inside him, Joshua bit back a gasp of something over-whelmed. Fred's cock was much, much larger than his fingers or tongue and the stretch was bordering on painful. He let his eyes close and buried his face in Fred's shoulder as he tried to accommodate Fred's length. Fred let out a guttural moan as Joshua's tight, warm heat surrounded him. The feeling was out of the world and Fred had to force himself from moving until Joshua himself started to move. He kissed Joshua chastely on the mouth and wrapped his hand around Joshua's length, coaxing him to move. 


Finally raising his head, Joshua murmured into Fred's ear. "Move." Joshua lifted himself until only Fred's tip was inside him and then let himself fall back down onto his penis. The action caused both men to moan simultaneously of pure pleasure.


Fred grabbed Joshua's legs and flipped him onto the floor. This time, Joshua laid with his back to the floor. In one swift movement, Fred's hands were gripping Joshua's hips so tightly that he was sure there would be bruises the next day. Then, without warning, Fred was thrusting into Joshua relentlessly and mercilessly, and the younger arched his back, his hands going through his hair, his knees tight either side of Fred's body.


"Touch me, touch me." Joshua said to Fred. His thrusts not faltering or stopping, Fred pressed his mouth against Joshua's and  reached for Joshua's length. He tugged at him in the same rhythm as his thrusts. At some point, Fred changed his angle and Joshua gasped in pure ecstasy when the elder hit at his prostrate.


In a matter of moments, Joshua reached the limit of his high again and his eyes rolled into the back of his head as he came, painting his stomach white. He clenched tightly around Fred and seconds later the older man tipped over the edge and came as well; biting his should but avoiding collapsing on top of him as to not crush his body. 


Joshua got into the bed and Fred lay behind him, spooning him. Fred's eyes were closed and he was utterly exhausted, but Joshua was wide-eyed and electrified. 


"Your skin's burning." Joshua mumbled, Fred's body making him feverishly hot. He could feel sweat down his back and on the inside of his thighs, and the air in the house seemed warm as well. Not fazed, Fred moved away from Joshua. Fred then gripped Joshua's waist and pulled Joshua on top of him, legs tangled.


"Jeonghan's really good at his craft." Fred opined. Joshua didn't answer immediately. He lay with his head on Fred's chest, his index finger running back and forth lightly across the older man's side. "He was wasted at that television network."


"Let's not talk about him." Joshua said.  The last thing he wanted to hear was mention of Jeonghan right now, no matter if it was praise.

Chapter Text

"You're our best friend, why wouldn't we come?" Seungcheol put to Joshua, his arm wrapped around Lily. Joshua's head was done in by about six different seperate things; how fantastic Lily looked in a leopard-print dress with a high neck made from musk fur and fur on the hems of the sleeves and dress's skirt, how Camille was performing tonight's show simultaneously playing bass guitar because the bass guitarist had got a influenza diagnosis. He hadn't expected Seungcheol, Lily and Jeonghan to turn up to the Anobrain gig, and neither had he known what to say when the drummer said to him about inhaling a white powder that wasn't cocaine to "calm him down".  He hadn't expected such a huge audience to the gig either, even though all the audiences of the band were huge, and out of fear he loathed Matty. 


"What if I fuck it up? Of course I wouldn't want you around -"


"It's ok, Shua." Jeonghan said soothingly. In the club, there was nearly no light except for spectrums of red, gold and white colour that illuminated the ceiling and the airspace above the dancing, drinking, kissing, and socializing floor of audience guests and clubbers. Jeonghan looked brilliant amongst all of it. All four of them were standing in a alcove bacony inside the club eight meters above the audience and the clubbers on the floor below. 


"Jeonghan, it isn't." Joshua cut in.


"Don't be terrified." Suddenly, Joshua found Lily tucked under his arm, cuddling into his side, her hand running back and forth over his stomach. 


"I'm not terrified."


"Well, you are." Jeonghan fiddled matter-of-factly with the hem of Joshua's t-shirt; Camille had told him to just turn up in "a decent pair of jeans, no shoes, clean shirt, messy hair". 


"Hey." Seungcheol nudged Joshua as the drummer ran up the alcove stairs. 


"It's time." The drummer beckoned for him hurriedly, and Joshua disappeared with him. He quickly looked over his shoulder, and witnessed Lily blowing him a kiss, Seungcheol giving him the thumbs up, and Jeonghan half-smiling.


Shit, Joshua thought.


Within three minutes he was up on the stage, walked on by Camille and the electric guitarist, who played a soaring guitar riff in a welcome. Joshua glanced down at Camille's hips that swung from side to side as she walked. She was wearing a white Edwardian-era walking skirt with two sets of buttons at the front with the hem coming just below her bum, lace-up front high-heel leather boots, and a red-lace body suit. For a few moments she talked to the crowd and introduced Joshua, using his real name. He took notice of the way "Joshua Hong" came out of her mouth; it sounded better than it did from anyone else.


"Hold You" was the first song of the gig to be played. "Hold You" began with a instrumental discography consisting of a high-toned sound, like a heartbeat, played by Synth on his keyboard. It continued for five seconds before a backing chorus consisting of three men and nine women made a similar toned "aah" to introduce the lyrics of the song. Joshua swallowed the spit in his mouth heavily, and didn't even think about fucking it up.


"Walk into your hyper-colour Banksy paradise," Joshua sang out. He suddenly grinned. Everything was fine. Everything was absolutely fucking wonderful. Near him, a synthesized of Camille singing "paradise" echoed in the background and the drums played in a beat. "Raspberry lipstick taste of yours." Camille vocalized an "ooh" string of notes. "I get so lost on the light up floor," Joshua sung the line as best as he could, before he emptied his head to do the next line the way that Camille wanted him too. "Would you believe it?" 


The audience whooped and cheered and danced to where they had swayed only moments ago, taking in the sound from a man who wasn't Welsh.


"You don't have to say you love the world," Camille's played the guitar, sidling close to him so Joshua danced with her as he got through the break before the chorus. "You don't have to say nothing. You don't have to say your past. Darlin'..."


The drummer shouted out, "Alright!" as the backing choir vocalized for the chorus. "Walk through a war-zone for you - just let me hold you. Oh, Darlin'..." Camille made him move and sway and he saw what she was trying to get through to him. You're too stiff. Loosen up. "Walk through any death-zone for you - just let me hold you like it's the only thing I'll ever do..."
Joshua quickly sucked in a breath through his nose as Camille kissed him briefly on the mouth. He felt his hearing flicker in and out as the audience screamed so loud that his head spun; he was sure that somewhere some of that noise was made solely by Jeonghan and Lily.
"You're a wonder exposed like the Northern Lights..." Joshua felt his skin electrify hot as his mouth tingled from the contact with Camille's. "Illuminated soul and light over dusk. Would you believe it?" The backing chorus and the band joined in on the last line, the drum-beat halting.


"You don't have to say you love the world. You don't have to say nothing. I just want you to know that you have been on my mind. Darlin' -"


For a split second Joshua thought he heard Jeonghan's voice yell out, "You look sexy!"


"Walk through a war-zone for you - just let me hold you..." Joshua ducked his head and gazed up towards the alcove. He couldn't be dreaming, not now.


"Oh, Darlin'; walk through any death-zone for you - just let me hold you like it's the only thing I'll ever do. Like it's the only thing I'll ever do." Joshua separated the mike from the stand, and swung it by the cord around his body smoothly, not wrapping it around his being. "Oh, yeah." Joshua breathed out as the backing chorus behind the band sung over and over again, "Like it's the only thing I'll ever do" as the electric guitarist launched and played his guitar solo that radiated through the air and killed Joshua's ear-drums. They all have to have hearing damage, he thought of the band.


"Get down on your knees and rung your hands through your hair on the next line after the solo." Camille's voice suddenly whispered into his ear.


"Walk through a war-zone for you - just let me hold you. Oh, Darlin'..." Joshua sunk to his knees on the ground; the audience screamed louder and louder and danced even more wildly on the floor. At this height on the stage, the lights didn't blind him. He looked up to the alcove and saw a deliriously euphoric looking Lily, and a open-mouthed Seungcheol filming on his phone. His eyes caught Jeonghan's directly. "Oh, Darlin'..." Joshua ran his hand through his hair. "Walk through any death-zone for you - just let me hold you like it's the only thing I'll ever do." On the last line Joshua closed his eyes and rolled his head back on his shoulders. He didn't have to look again thought a part of him wanted to see Jeonghan's face. It had fucked him. 


"Walk through a war-zone for you - just let me hold you." The chorus sung in the background and Joshua got back to his feet and danced wildly with Camille and the electric guitarist. "Oh darlin'," Joshua's gaze slunk back up to where he knew Seungcheol, Lily and Jeonghan to be. "Oh darlin'. Walk through a war-zone for you - just let me hold you." Camille vocalized again, groping the back of his thigh and his hip, nails making a single claw line down his back through the fabric of his shirt. "Oh darlin', just let me hold you like it's the only thing I'll ever do."

Chapter Text

The first thing Lily did at the start of Joshua's performance was scream.


"Fuck, he's got even better looking!" She had hung off Seungcheol's arm. Jeonghan hadrested his head in his hands, his arms on the alcove railing, laughing. But from a moment later, he didn't take his eyes off Joshua.


"It's the prosititure skills." Lily had reasoned to herself in a mutter. "He's had to do four years of paid sexiness."


Joshua and Jeonghan sat by themselves in a boot up on top of the alcove balcony; Joshua was performing only "Hold Me" that night, and Lily had dragged Seungcheol off somewhere.


Joshua leant against Jeonghan, spent by the performance.


"I saw what you did."


Joshua chuckled. "Camille kept giving me the hint. Move, move, move."


"I saw what you did." Jeonghan repeated, looking down at Joshua. "Those eyes - if Lily was a guy, she would have have a hard-on."


Joshua laughed, angling his head to look up at Jeonghan. "Ok." He answered. The tip of Jeonghan's index finger touched his chest in a gesture before settling away. 


"Hm." Jeonghan's head turned, making Joshua's own head slip a centimeter on his chest. Joshua pressed a hand flat against Jeonghan's chest; the gesture in turn make Jeonghan look directly back at him. His thumb, index and fore-fingers slipped underneath Joshua's palm. 


"What is it?" Joshua asked.


"Uh - what's the song they're playing?" Jeonghan nodded his head back, gesturing to Camille and the band. Joshua listened for a few moments; the ridiculous noise of the audience made it hard to hear the song.


"I don't know, I can't hear it."


"Ah." Jeonghan looked back over his shoulder again.


"Oh, wait, no -" Joshua listened again. "Chocolate. It's "Chocolate"."


"It's a nice sound; it sounds British, happy." Jeonghan mumbled, half to himself, half to Joshua. He was silent, before suddenly saying, "I've missed you."


"What do you mean?"


"Don't know." Jeonghan chuckled, but it wasn't a humored sound. "I just have."


"Come round tonight, stay. We'll hang out." Joshua said.


"What about Camille?" Jeonghan asked.


"Any other day." Joshua insisted. "I've spent heaps of time with her."


Joshua and Jeonghan looked over at Seungcheol and Lily as they came back into sight; they went over to the bar with Lily holding a piece of paper covered in black scrawl.


"They're pretty loved up, aren't they?" Jeonghan mused.


"Yeah." Joshua nodded. He noticed Jeonghan's shirt smelt different; a new washing powder. He laughed again. "Just have to stay with you." Joshua felt Jeonghan's fingertips at the back of his head, playing with his hair.


"Hm."

 

-----------------------------------

 

"Hey, we're having a party - you're goanna come?" Camille asked Joshua.


"I'm dead on my feet." Joshua said by way of apology, and kissed her cheek, a hand at the small of her back.


"Call me in the morning but not before ten 'o' clock." Camille said before Joshua saw her climbed through the open boot into the back-seats of Synth's car parked outside in the main street. The drummer had a van, and staff from Anobrain were helping him load in the amplifiers. The backing chorus were mostly still inside the club, drinking and dancing, except for one who Camille had just paid a cab fare for. Camille had offered to get in the back of the drummer's van so the electric guitarist could take them all home, even though Joshua had come in his car and had picked up Jeonghan, Seungcheol and Lily on the way.


"See you!" They all waved as the band went off in their vehicles.


"Hubba hubba, babe." Lily giggled, and pinched Joshua bum. "You look so good."


"What about Cheol?" Jeonghan inquired to her, putting his arm around Joshua's waist, resting a hand on his hip.


"Oh, babe, he's my number one sexy chicken, aren't you?" Lily gazed adoringly up at him while Jeonghan laughed so hard his knees went out from beneath him, making he and a stumbling Joshua crash into a light pole. Seungcheol blushed in the street-light and the darkness until Lily stuck her tongue eleven inches down his throat, and Joshua did his best to convince Jeonghan to remember to breath.


"Happy?" Joshua said to Jeonghan later when they had dropped Seungcheol and Lily back home. They had decided to move out of the apartment they had formally lived in, and had moved into the apartment a few floors above Camille's drummer; no more scheming landlord, and no rent to pay. Joshua knew that one of the band's members had to own that apartment; what other explanation would there be for them having to pay no rent on it.


"Yeah." Jeonghan smiled, the tips of his teeth showing in the light movement. "We're just going back your place, right?"


"Yeah." Joshua nodded. He saw Jeonghan gazing at him out of the corner of his eye, but when he finally glanced at him, Jeonghan was looking out of the passenger side window.
Even when they were inside Joshua's house, they lingered in the entrance hallway. Jeonghan leant against the wall with his hands behind his back, palms pressed against the wall. He ducked his head and looked up at Joshua, who was leaning against the opposite wall, his arms crossed.


"You..." Joshua began, but he looked at Jeonghan first. He wasn't angry. Rather, he was dizzy. A little bit infinite. "You missed me, eh? You're a liar."


Jeonghan's mouth quirked up on both sides. "Sort of. You guess?"


Jeonghan looked at him in a way that curled Joshua's blood hotly.


"We're not doing this again." Either way, Joshua couldn't help but grin.


"Doing what?" Joshua gazed at Jeonghan's mouth.


"You're bored." Joshua put to Jeonghan. "You want something to play with." At his words - which he knew what they sound like - Jeonghan bit his lower lip. Fuck, Joshua thought. "You want an affair."


"That guy Matty is making your British."


"Don't get off the subject." Joshua said over the top of Jeonghan who made him grin wider.


"Shut me up then." Jeonghan's eyes bored into his.


Joshua moved across the hall and pressed his hand over Jeonghan's mouth. "You think I'm actually going to shut you up in that way?"


Remember it's your cock going in his mouth, a voice distinctly like Camille's echoed in the back of his head. You understood what he said right? Your cock, his mouth. You receiving from him not the other way around.


"You don't want to do that." Joshua said to Jeonghan, the two of them closed. One of Jeonghan's hands came to hold onto Joshua's hip. 


"Yeah?" Jeonghan mumbled behind Joshua's palm. A second later, Joshua pulled his hand away with an exclamation as Jeonghan's hot and wet tongue suddenly pressed against his skin.


Joshua gasped out a laugh as Jeonghan impossibly grinned even wider.


"I didn't think tongues and that would..." he gestured at Joshua, who scoffed.


"Don't be dumb." Joshua told him off. He wasn't actually angry.


"You're tired." Jeonghan said.


"Don't even think about it." Joshua warned him, kicking off his shoes.


"I'm not!" Jeonghan protested openn-mouthed and wide-eyed. He jabbed his index fingers into Joshua's back and then wrapped his arms around Joshua's waist from the back, nuzzling his face into the crook of Joshua's neck and shoulder muttering how untrusting he was; total lack of belief.


"I want to go to bed."


Jeonghan frowned when they got upstairs. "But...that's your bedroom." He pointed to the Professional Room as Joshua walked past the bedroom door.


"I work in that one." Joshua said.


"But -"


"Yeah, I know."


"Ok."


"Yeah."


Joshua looked down at his feet, before looking to Jeonghan.


"It's a huge bed." Jeonghan said to him. Joshu chuckled softly.


"You could put a midnight train in there." Joshua leant his shoulder and head against the wall, not able to give much effort to keeping his eyes open. 


"That's poetic. You're really tired, aren't you?"


"Yes, you idiot." Joshua blinked rapidly as he felt the upper half of his body begin to tip forward. Next thing he knew, Jeonghan had his arm around him, and they were going down to the professional bedroom. Jeonghan mumbled a comment about Seungcheol having slept in the other bed, and Joshua didn't bother arguing with him; he'd definitely bring it up in the morning.


He climbed into bed full clothed, and after a few minutes, he felt the bed dip beside him as Jeonghan climbed in as well. 


"I know what you're doing." Joshua said as Jeonghan exhaled softly on the back of his neck. Joshua tried not to twitch as the smallest bump from Jeonghan's nose and mouth pressed against his skin. "Bugger off."


"What?"


Thanks Matty, Joshua thought. All of a sudden he was wide awake.


"Welsh for "fuck off"." Joshua invented. British people say it all the time. Bugger isn't an English word. Originally. Some Welshman or Scotsman or Irishman had to invent it. Maybe a Cockney. Or West-Midland's. They're rough up there.


Jeonghan went silent behind him. Joshua stopped feeling Jeonghan's breath on the back of his neck.


"Hannie...I didn't mean it like that, come on." Joshua rolled over quickly and grabbed Jeonghan's wrist as the older man made to leave. Jeonghan just scoffed and tried to throw off Joshua's grip, but it only made Joshua hold on tighter.


"You're hurting me." Jeonghan said.


"Good." Joshua answered. A second later, he didn't understand why that had come out of his mouth. Jeonghan's slid from Joshua face to his hand on his wrist, and back to his face.


"Stay, or go. But I want you to stay." Joshua told him, still holding onto him. A tiny chuckle suddenly escaped Jeonghan; he smiled also, and a different look came over his eyes. 
"So...this is what you're like at work, eh?" Jeonghan head tipped to the side. He gasped theatrically as Joshua squeezed his wrist harder. Joshua knew he really had to be hurting Jeonghan now, but he wasn't going to give in and let it up. Jeonghan's eyes suddenly strayed down to just under Joshua's neck where the front of his neckline had slackened and pulled down to see the bruises and teeth marks that some man had left there on Joshua's skin. This made Joshua look down too, and he let go of Jeonghan's wrist.


"And?" Joshua questioned. "You know if you need me you can come to me. You know if you need a place I'm here."


Jeonghan looked as though Joshua's words made him freeze inside. It hadn't been a wrong thing to say but Joshua momentarily reflected that what he had thought was right actually wasn't. Joshua knew there was no point asking Jeonghan what he wanted. He wouldn't get an answer.


Jeonghan lay back down on the bed, on the left side where Joshua lay on the right side.


"I can't stop thinking about it." Jeonghan said so quietly that Joshua barely heard it. As Joshua heard what Jeonghan said, he couldn't help but smile. He had told Jeonghan he knew.


"Well, that's easily resolved." Joshua rolled onto his front, and leant up on his elbow. "Don't think about it."


Jeonghan scoffed. "You treat me really badly." Joshua laughed. Jeonghan suddenly frowned. "I wish I hadn't said that." He covered his face with his hands as Joshua laughed more.


"That's alright." Joshua still leant on one elbow, but rested the side of his head in his other hand, his fingers thrust up like a comb into his hair.


"Great, it's awkward now; all your fault." Jeonghan commented. Joshua raised an eyebrow. "I'm not going to say it's all my fault, am I?" Jeonghan added.


Joshua gazed down at Jeonghan. 


"What? Are my roots coming back?" Jeonghan touched his peroxide blonde scalp.


"Do you want me to kiss you?" Joshua asked. "Can I kiss you?"


"Do you actually want to kiss me or just, like, shut me up?" Jeonghan said in reply.


"Just tell me." Joshua said. "Yes or no? I'm not moving until you tell me."


"What about everyone else?" Joshua wondered where all of Jeonghan's insecurity came from. Maybe it had been quietly bubbling under the surface in the days that Joshua hadn't seen neither him or Seungcheol or Lily. Maybe it hadn't been so hidden. Maybe it was the fact that he hadn't been around to bear witness to it. 


"Hm?" Joshua buried his hand deeper into his hair as he angled his head better as his neck began to crick.


"Kaito, Camille, that English guy -" Jeonghan made a list.


"Welsh guy." Joshua corrected Jeonghan about Matty's race.


"That guy -" Jeonghan cut in.


"Jeonghan." Joshua stopped him. Jeonghan's lips remained parted for a minute before he closed them. Joshua moved his head tongue and his mouth barely touched Jeonghan's before electricity burned him at the contact. He pressed down firmer as the feeling soared through his body; as though kissing Jeonghan harder would squash the feeling. It only made the feeling greater, but nevertheless, Joshua kissed Jeonghan, still holding onto the belief that they could crush it out somehow. 


People say - writer's, artists's, painter's, or people who are interesting or people who are just people - say about having that affair or that girlfriend/boyfriend or that actual love where you cannot stop. There's no self-control. The two of you dive it into headfirst, make the choice even when there is no room for the choice to escape or say no or pull back. Opening the door to the Vampire on your front step, going for that coffee with that remarkable and horrible woman; cross-dressing for your best friend's camera because apart from him no one else knows. Walk into a Church and not feel anything because God isn't anymore as what they say or as I once felt him or it to be. Walk into a Church and not feeling anything because to me God is someone new and formed; someone else entirely. Sunlight coming through the window onto the her in my life, making her hair thicker and blacker and her already flawless skin and face and chest and shoulders look even more flawless as she sits up in bed in her black nighties. Open up my eyes from having them shut so one of the best friends can photograph the eye make-up painted on me with the same camera he'll use to photograph the other best friend's wedding. The other best friend when his wedding finally comes; something will have to go wrong. Someone will swallow the rings, or the bride's Mother will try to conduct a stabbing spree on her daughter's future parents-in-law. For anything it is now, God could be the bride that walks down the aisle in her white lace dress, as flawless and as powerful as the woman I wake up to some mornings.


You have the choice to make the leap, but sometimes it goes by and you don't even notice it was ever there, you don't ever get it or feel it

Chapter Text

"Will you go inside? I can't even hear you with all the wind!" Camille sprouted on the other end of the phone call. Joshua had gone out into the back garden with Jeonghan still tucked up and asleep in his bed. It was overcast and it was blowing a gale, but there was still a warmth in the air from the Spring that made it messy but fairly nice weather. Joshua rubbed the back of his neck as he looked out at his back lawn. It was about a footh high and needed a cut. He had to get onto it, but he hated mowing the lawn. He considered asking Camille if one of the boys would do it for £50 but he changed his mind; they would think he was a total faerie. 


"I can hear you fine." Joshua replied.


"Please just - go - inside!" Camille begged him. 


"Text me." Joshua climbed up the stairs to the balcony that came out from the sitting room. A second later Camille sent him a series of emoji's with a hand sticking the middle finger up. Joshua replied back with the same emoji and then sent a heart afterwards. 


Weak, Camille sent the message with a smiley face. Hang on, before you text me I got something to tell you. I wrote something last night. I tell you and you tell me just give me a sec to type it up 


Barely thirty seconds later the lyrics buzzed through on Joshua's phone.


In my head I do everything right


When you call I have forgiven out fight


All the sounds that I play in the dark


Wild and fluorescent


Love, come home to my heart


Joshua had just finished reading the lyrics as Camille texted him again.


What do you think?


Joshua thought for a minute. What sort of discography are you going to use? He asked her.


I don't know, but the song is going to go for about four minutes, and it'll start off and end with a bit of a fade-off period. Shit, sorry, got to go. Grandad's here. x x x 


Joshua turned off his phone and left it downstairs in the sitting room, go back up the stairs and getting back into bed with Jeonghan. He looked at a freckle that said a few centimeters to the inner left of Jeonghan's shoulder blade; Joshua incredibly lightly traced a line down Jeonghan's skin to the centre in-between his shoulder blades, before following the line he had traced without mark back up again to the tip of Jeonghan's neck at the bottom of his scalp.                                                                                                                                                                                            
The two of us are going to kill this relationship unless we look in the mirror and say enough is enough; we can do better than this. That's what I could imagine Camille, Matty, Kaito, Seong-hun, Hyung-Woo, Min-ho saying. I don't think Fred would say something like that. He's long been witness to a world where people get onto drugs and alcohol, screw their sisters-in-law and their best mate and create all this melodrama that creates a huge mess because even for everyone's personality and behaviour, there's a history of depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, obsession, bipolar, suicide. When it comes down to the crunch it doesn't work. People talk about misfits, and they talk about everything. I'm not a misfit; Jeonghan, me, Seungcheol, Lily, Fred, Matty, Camille, her boys, Kaito - everyone else. We're not misfits. We do lead alternative lives, sometimes downright bizarre and complicated lives. But we're not sick in the head, we're not shredding our skin with knives or glass; we're not addicted to drugs and alcohol. We don't come from broken families with horrible histories. We're just people. There's too much emphasise on a reality that people say is reality when most of the time it's bullshit.


Misfits are misfits because they don't understand much or where they are; they're not proud of who they are or anything else that relates to them. They just go through life on the outside. That's why I don't get it. People have the point - they have won the argument, absolutely correctly - if they say, "Well, look what happened, love; we'd send it end up in tears." They gossip and bitch and be fake while they accuse us of being fake.


What I'm trying to get at is that's the thing; "fake". People could say my affection and my sex and my relationship with clients is "fake", they could say that me and Jeonghan's relationship is "fake", they could say Lily and Camille are "fake" because two seconds ago both women told them to fuck off and they were ringing up their Dad's to bring down the family hunting rifles.


I was talking to Camille once, and she said that. Someone accused her of being fake, and spreading this fakeness out to young girls who are trying to figure out who they are in the world. "I broke their noses." She giggled to me, glowing happily. "If a girl decides something, that's her thing. I can't help her. I can't really support her either. But what it is - I make the thing they worship. I make myself the thing they worship and aspire to be. Most parent's hate me because I make myself God. And, in turn, they're children and want to God or like God too. You see where I'm getting at?"


I love that. Fakes accusing others of been fake. Everyone looks at me and get the Church-oppa aegyo boy impression; definitely gay. Then they see me kick a hole in the bathroom wall, tell my best friend to shut up in a Church, and date a woman like Camille, and all they can do is just curl up into a ball and die on the spot. Pathetic, right?
Define Fake.


Saying things you don't mean, been someone you're not. Most people's perception of the world is Fake, because the world is Fake. The information that is fed to people is Fake. But if you give the Fake to the people they swallow it down like wine; drink it down like they will die because people insist without information they die.


You let people take over the Fake themselves; they come to realize how Fake the Fake is and then they squander and corrupt it for their own personal gain and the accumulation - financial, mainly - for their Church, their race of people, their political party.


There has to be control of the world. Someone has to control all the fake because other wise that's why we all kill each other in wars; someone else inflicts their fake upon our fake, and even though we're fake, we think, "I'll kill this German/Russian/American/Arab/Japanese/Chinese cunt!"


It could all be solved if we looked in the mirror with that pride and even a little bit of loahting and decided, "Fuck, I can do better than this. We can all do better than this." People get prescribed good health, happiness, good mental health through doing practices and rituals and a lifestyle that will give them good health, a good mental well-being, and happiness. But it has to be a natural process; not something political. This politics is a smart one; if we can evolutionise people into a mindset, maybe the Fakeness will stop.


But it's a high hope, when you see how stupid the world is. You have a world that would spit and yell and cheer and smile at people like me, Seungcheol, Jeonghan, Lily, Fred, Kaito, Seonghun, Hyung-Woo, Min-ho and Matty in the street.


How the fuck does that work?


This is why people don't give a fuck half the time. This is why people don't bother to care about children in Africa; we can't help them. It's all the fault of their corrupt governments and the militaries or the fault of America when it pillages countries like Syria and Vietnam not for the people's sake but rather just to proect their oil and gold mines. It's why people don't worry about people in poverty in Russia or America, or anywhere in the world. Who cares? Just worry about your own family; your wife, you children, your friends. Because, when it comes down to the crunch, it's all that matters.


That's where the Fake stops. Families - all families - they all have their own problems and chaos and happiness, but, really, that's what matters to the misfits, the Fakes, and then the real people. The stuff they won't admit so easily actually matters to them. It matters so much that they can't always say it.


His touch woke up Jeonghan, who turned over beneath the covers.


"You left." Jeonghan said simply, one of his hands pressed beneath his face on the pillow, laying side-on. 


"Yeah. But it was only for a little bit." Joshua traced his thumb down the centre line of Jeonghan's nose and to his lips, then his chin. 


"Sorry, I shouldn't have said that." Jeonghan said. "I don't know why I said that."


"It's alright, I know what you mean." Joshua replied.


Then something occurred to him. "Hey, I'll be back in a minute, alright?" Joshua went back downstairs, and texted Camille. The lyrics flowed from him freely like water from a tap. It was effortless; he didn't really even think about it. Not sure where you could fit it in, but I had an idea, he texted before sending her the lyrics.


All the visions they wrap me up


For you I turn it all to just a supercut


Cause in my head, in my head I do everything right


When you won't call and I promise to not fight


All the monsters we play with in the dark


We were wild and fluorescent come home to my house


In your car we've got the radio on, in your car we've got the radio on


We keep trying to talk about us, slow-motion on a overnight crush


I'll be your violent yesterday crush


Super-hyper other-day love


Make you crazy over my touch


But it's just a supercut of us (supercut of us)


Oh, it's a supercut of us (supercut of us)


It wasn't his style of song; not a style of song that we would write.


But it was Camille's style. It was Night Creates Release's style

Chapter Text

"Has Seungcheol decided who the best man's going to be?" Camille asked, drinking some of her coffee, holding the mug in both hands. She had a pair of dark-blue gloves on, and Joshua thought it was kind of sweet.


Even though it was the middle of Spring, it had decided to get quite cold and snow heavily.


"Uh, no he hasn't." Joshua replied.


"You and Jeonghan won't get into a row over it, will you?"


"What? God no."


"Because if you get the best man position, the maid of honour one is opened up and all his." Camille raised her eyebrows and hands in surrender. Joshua laughed.


"I'll tell him you said that." He remarked, stirring his tea.


"I don't mind." Camille lifted her chin, tucking her arms underneath her chest. She and Joshua both laughed a few seconds later.


"Toff." Joshua told her. Camille mouthed "ouch". "Matty literally taught me a whole new vocabulary when he was here." Joshua winced as he swallowed tea that hadn't seemed that hot in his mouth. 


"Which is better? Yank English or Pom English?" Camille asked, rubbing at one of her eyes and then swearing as she remembered she had eye-liner on. Joshua talked as she pulled out a tissue, licked it, and then took the eye make-up off completely as she did have the kohl pencil to mix the eye where she now looked like a panda.


"It depends. There's upper-class English English, then there's the middle-class and then lower-class. Then we have the Welsh-English, then the Scots-English -"


"Which is just gibberish with an accent." Camille opined.


"Totally." Joshua agreed with her. She gestured over to a nearby baby where a couple walked in with a small baby and put the baby into a high-chair; the baby was trying to talk to his father - joshua thought the baby was a little boy - and was gazing and smiling adorinly up at the man who Joshua thought was about thirty-five. Camille smiled widely and murmured, "I love babies!".


"Matty taught me this too." She held up a kohl black tissue, getting back to their conversation. Staring at babies usually wasn't taken well. "Welsh-women - Cymry women - don't have make-up remover? Spit."


"All over your face, nice." Joshua replied giving a revolted expression. Camille just laughed.


"When's Seungcheol and Lily's wedding?" She asked, having a look in Joshua's tea-pot. She chastised him for not dirnking all of it, and in return he told her to sod off - another expression he had learned from Matty - he had paid for it.


"First Sunday of Summer." Joshua replied about the wedding after a tiny spat with Camille.


"I bet it'll pour rain." Camille remarked in a dry matter-of-fact way, necking the last of her coffee in a way that made Joshua think she really had no trouble swallowing pills; or deep-throating cock.


"Don't make a curse by saying that." Joshua warned, pointing the sugar spoon at her.


"I'm not, I'm not!" Camille defended herself. "Just saying it'll probably happen."


"I'm not driving you home now, bye-bye." Joshua put his coat on and pushed in his chair at the table. He was only teasing.


"Fuckhead." Camille remarked.


Joshua's mouth dropped open. He laughed - though he hadn't expected her say that at all - as Camille reclined back in her chair, crossing her legs and her arms, raising an eyebrow coolly.


"Millie, I'm joking." He said.


"I know, but, you know what boo?" Camille collect her hand-bag, hoisting it up onto her shoulder. "I've got you on a fucking leash." She put her arm through his, only breaking when she held open the door of the cafe for him. 


"If I was a guy and I had said that to you I would be in so much trouble right now." Joshua told her. "By the way, if that's gender equality, I don't like that. You've no idea how weird that was, you holding the door open for me."


"You don't want me to do you that courtesy?" Camille echoed.


"Only if I've lost the keys or I'm moving furniture or -" Joshua pinched her hip. " - or I'm moving babies."


Camille glowed. "Ah, yes. The little creatures in the nappies." She chuckled. She re-entwined her amr with Joshua's, and leant her head against his shoulder. "Like, I don't know why people carry on about changing baby nappies. So what? it's shit! They little things can't help it - aw, they're so cute. It's easy. Wipe their bum, bag up the yucky one, fresh nappy and  - ta-da!"


"Until they do the next one." Joshua commented.


"Yes..." Camille nodded slowly, conceding the fact. She and Joshua walked around an hour. Camille went to drag him into a cosmetic and soaps shop, but within twelve feet of the door all you could smell - a direct quote from Camille - was a perfume "that smells like a cat's piss". 


"Fuck, that's rank!" Camille hissed, and moved Joshua over towards the egde of the footpath by the gutter even though it was her who had made the retching noise. "What do they stock there? Fucking Russian nuclear weapons! Jesus, you can smell how off the chemical is? Actually smells like it was concocted in the Cold War from leftover Nazi fart from the 1940's - what are you laughing at?!" She looked down at Joshua incredulously as he laughed, along with several other people sitting at outdoor tables of a restaurant who had heard Camille's rant about the cosmetics shop just down the footpath.


"Didn't you have a hat on earlier?" Joshua asked Camille. She nodded.


"Yeah, no worries, it's in my bag." She pointed down.


"Put it on." Joshua told her. "You looked great in it."


I won that round. I topped later that day.

 

------------------------------

 

Two Days Later:


"Amazing what people do for their God's, isn't it?" Jeonghan said to Lily, watching the news on the television in she and Seungcheol's new apartment, three floors above Camille's band's drummer who Joshua had gone down to visit in the elevator.


"Out the way, out the way!" Joshua stormed through.


"What's up?" Lily asked, she and Jeonghan looked over the back of the couch.


"I need to tell Camille that her drummer is growing marijuana in the bathtub."


"You're kidding me."


"Yes, I am, but don't tell her that. I need an excuse for why he can't come to their gig tomorrow and telling her that he could potentially have a heart-condition won't help anyone."


"What the fuck is going on?" Seungcheol appeared from the kitchen, a frying pan in one hand.


"Wrong pan, honey, using the smaller one." Lily told him sweetly, before glaring at Joshua.


"Everything's a drama, isn't it?" Jeonghan remarked, sinking back down onto the couch.


"What it is that he downstairs -" Joshua pointed to the floor. "Went to the Doctor's yesterday because he needed a blood test and a tetanus shot because he got bitten by one of his mate's dogs. That's alright. He fills out a form at the Doctor's and they say to him, "Why have you marked "yes" for the box that says "current illness"? They're about to give him a shot, yeah? Apparently he's been getting chest pains and nausea for about six months; won't say anything to anyone about it, though. It turns out that his body isn't producing enough red blood cells and he's sick; the Doctor's say there's either three things causing it - heart problem, cancer, or diabetes."


"Oh, fuck." Lily said.


"Drummer said if Camille knows he's at the cop station, she won't worry."


"Well that's fucking intelligent." Lily scoffed.


"He could have cancer, Lily. Which one if it was Seungcheol? Marijuana or Cancer?"

"Camille will find out eventually." Jeonghan said. "Why can't Drummer ring her up and say -"


"I might have cancer?!" Lily echoed incredulously. "Alright, alright, this is really, really, really fucking bad."


"How about no one says anything?" Seungcheol suggested. "He can't do the gig tomorrow -"


"He's the drummer, Cheol. No drummer means the gig is cnaceled and for the gig to be canceled there has to be a good excuse." Joshua said.


"Cancer's a pretty good one." Seungcheol said.

 

"Cheol, come on -" Joshua tried.


"Will she have a breakdown over this?" Lily asked.


"Can't he just pretend to be sick? Drummer."


"He is sick." Seungcheol said to Jeonghan.


"I mean sick as in he has the flu. Running nose, high temperature -"


"He'd have to have the bubonic plague for Millie to not smack him." Joshua thumbed his brow tiredly.


"Why do you have to deal with this?" Seungcheol asked Joshua.


"Because he's Camille's bloke." Lily said like it was the most obvious thing in the world. "They've all got her down as Mrs Hong."


"Hong Camille..." Jeonghan tried out.


"Mrs Choi." Joshua pointed at Lily. She beamed proudly while Seungcheol looked quite abashed.


"Hong Jeonghan." Lily sprouted.


"No!" Seungcheol, Joshua and Jeonghan exclaimed.


"How'd it be if you were still with Wonwoo?" Seungcheol said.


"I was never with Wonwoo." Joshua deadpanned. Lily climbed off the couch. 


"Where are you going?" Seungcheol asked.


"Invite the poor guy downstairs up for dinner." Lily said over her shoulder.


"So, he's not actually growing drugs in his bathroom?" Seungcheol checked.


"No, he isn't."


"Good, if he was I don't want him up there."

 

---------------------------------

 

They all sat in silence in the sitting room eating dinner.  It was just simple. Chicken and rice and steamed vegetables.


"Why do you have that tattoo on your face?" Lily asked Drummer.


"Cover up a scar. And I like mermaids. Grew up by the sea; I was obsessed with boats and marine life when I was a kid. When Matty first came over from the UK he told me about Selkies; they're like a seal human hybrid that comes from Scotland. We went into a tattooist - which was illegal - and I told the guy I wanted a Selkie tattooed. But Matty said mermaid instead; he told me I wouldn't want a Selkie on my face and maybe he was right."


Joshua chuckled softly.


"He's heard the story before." Drummer said.


"Doesn't make it less ridiculous." Lily opined. Everyone laughed.


"You're pretty open-minded." Drummer remarked. 


"Sorry." Joshua said. Drummer rolled his eyes.


"You know it might just be diabetes, right?" He said. "Don't get that though. I don't eat much stuff with sugar in it."


"You get through the alcohol and the cigarettes." Joshua said.


"We all do." Drummer shrugged.


"You can get diabetes from not having enough sugar." Jeonghan said. Lily nodded, making a comment with her mouth half-full of rice. "You need to put more salt in, honey." She said to Seungcheol. 


They went quiet again until Drummer piped up.


"Anything funny happen at your work recently?" Drummer asked Joshua. Joshua noticed Lily, Seungcheol and Jeonghan all perk up.


"Had a funny one yesterday; one of the clockwork running twenty-three clients. Sits on me and masturbates; always the same. Sits and masturbates. That's it. Over and done in about twenty minutes; gets me to kiss him for a bit but that's it. Still gives me the hour fee when he stays for less than." Joshua told Drummer. "There's another whose interesting. He's got a stutter." Joshua smiled with the Drummer. "Sometimes it gets so bad that he brings me a little notebook with things written down in it. Yesterday he had written down, "The tax man has been looking up my arsehole with a torch -" Joshua broke off, laughing with Drummer, Lily, and Seungcheol; Jeonghan watched on attentively, but he wasn't cold to what Joshua was saying. "But if only he knew how I haven't looked into my wife's drawers' for nearly thirty-seven years"."


Drummer put his bowl of food down on the floor, and buried his face in his hands.


"Drawers as in undies, right?" Seungcheol said, grinning broadly.


"Oh, yeah." Joshua nodded.


"You didn't tell us about this." Jeonghan said. 


"It's a bit weird, eh?" Drummer scrunched his nose up in a gesture before laughing again. "What does he usually have?"


"Blowjob." Joshua replied. "I think he must be a drinker. Every-time he comes I have to brush my teeth because I swear the texture gets stuck there -" Joshua broke off again as Lily yelled out her revolt, and the Drummer was nearly pissing himself laughing.

Chapter Text

"Tell me when you're done; I'll go around and see her." Joshua told Drummer on the phone the next morning. He was walking around in a pair of trackpants and a shirt, and he felt if someone said the words either "sex", "work", "can you lie for me", or "don't worry" again he would put another hole in a wall in his house. He still hadn't fixed the hole in the bathroom wall. Lily had offered to fix it herself.


Late New Year's Resolution. Don't keep being made to be piggy-in-the-middle. One, it doesn't work.


"And, two, Camille comes along and puts piggy on a spit!" Camille yelled at him out of her bedroom window later that night. She wouldn't let him into the house, so he had had to climb over the back fence and then appeal to her in a way that highly resembled Romeo & Juliet, but, in reality, was anything but.


"Millie!" Joshua yelled. "It might not be cancer!"


"As if fucking leaky heart valves or diabetes isn't any better!" Camille yelled before slamming the window shut and closing the curtains. Joshua knew there was nothing more he could do, so he just drove around the city. 


I could have stayed out there all night, but I wouldn't put it past her to ring up her horrible Grandfather, or just chase me out into the CBD in her knickers with a broom; she's got two brooms. One for sweeping the floor and the another for hitting people with. The one she used for hitting people has a heavy and large solid plastic head, and she's a nasty woman.


Joshua found himself ending up at Seong-hun's. With Kaito in Japan, Seong-hun was the only original one left.


"Boy, you come too late at night. You woke me up." Ha-Yoon opened the front door to him in a dressing gown and flat hair. Joshua laughed, inhaling the smell of her perfume as she pulled him down to her five foot six height for a hug. "Seong-hun's in his office, not sleeping like he should be. Give him a good work and then tell him to rest - he skipped dinner on me tonight."


"Thanks Ha-Yoon." Joshua rolled his eyes where once he had once been awkward. He had gotten used to Ha-Yoon's personality over the last four years. He went up the stairs and found Seong-hun in his office as Ha-Yoon said. It was a huge space with tiles and large open windows, Scandinavian and modern.


"I'll go to sleep when I'm ready Ha-Yoon, don't be a nuiscance -" Seong-hun said.


"Ok."  Joshua answered, leaning against the doorframe. Seong-hun twisted around in his chair to look at Joshua. Joshua smiled at the expression on Seong-hun's face.
"This is a surprise." Seong-hun managed after a few seconds.


"Maybe I like surprising you." Joshua walked over and leant his hip against Seong-hun's desk. 


"Bullshit." Seung-hun replied with some affection. "I'm sorry, but I can't right now. I've got three inches of paperwork to do."


"Why do three inches of paperwork when you can have eight inches of something else?" Joshua asked him. 


Seong-hun chuckled softly, picking up his pen again. "What can I do for you?" Joshua asked him.
"Tea would be nice."


Joshua tipped his head back. "Really?"


"Yes." Seong-hun chuckled more, still soft. "I just can't tonight."


"You're actually turning me down?" Joshua knelt in front of him. "You're actually turning this down?" He pointed to his chin. Seong-hun sighed and put his pen down again, rolling his neck, stretching. 


"Indeed I am." The older man said. Joshua gave up. No was no.


"I'm going to go to bed." Joshua said.


"Ok." Seong-hun kissed Joshua on the cheek as the other did the same to him.


Three hours later, Seong-hun paused in the doorway to his bedroom to see Joshua wrapped up beneath the covers, sleeping on his side and his front; from his waist up he was balance, but from there down his legs were splayed across the right side of the bed. He didn't often stray from sleeping on his back. Seong-hun had thought that he might have gone home as well. He evenutally climbed in beside Joshua but didn't immediately move in close to him. Joshua's eyes opened not too long after. He hummed a small acknowledgment, half out of it.


"Big day?" Seong-hun murmured. Joshua nodded.


"There'll never be enough of us." Joshua woke up a little bit more. "I've got a friend who is a singer in a band." he told to Seong-hun quietly. "The drummer might have cancer. It's nearly giving her a breakdown. He smokes and he drinks like it's the 1970's."


"That's not good."


"Yeah." Joshua remembered what his Mother had told him about smoking when he was growing up. He remembered seeing a woman out in public, smoking cigarette after cigarette on his break from a retail job, when he was around three or four years old. He watched her smoke through four or five cigarettes over the course of around twenty minutes. Joshua thought it was fascinating. At the kindergarten he had gone to when he was small, it was built in a handsome little courtyard area with a book-shop on one side, and around the space next to the kindergarten were two-storey houses that represented the tenements of Brixton in England; a consistent face of building, with two or three front doors for two or three seperate homes within. The woman had looked distinctly Creole, her facial structure a latte colour with sculpted cheekbones and shoulder-length black frizzy hair. She didn't look anxious or on edge; she seemed completely relaxed, her feet resting up on the railing of the balcony; the view which she looked out on was metropolitan and it was becoming green. The city council had planted Ash trees along the neighbourhood roads and streets, but it had been many years before they had truly grown and created the desire effect. He had made the mistake of bringing it up in front of his parents; his Father had complained, and his Mother had told him about smoking creating cancer in your lungs, making your mouth shrink, making you smell awful.


"Grandma smokes." Joshua pointed out the habits of his Mother's Mother.


"That's because she's a dirty old witch, Joshy. She's even got the black cat." His Father had commented. That led to a screaming row between his parents.


He ran his palm flat over Seong-hun's chest. "What's been happening with you?"


"You know me." Seong-hun answered. His hand pressed over Joshua's; he shifted in closer to the younger man. "Just work; paperwork, meetings, contracts, wanting to kill lawyers who should do better for the money they are paid. You know all that; day-to-day business."


Joshua shifted even closer to Seong-hun and pressed his face into the crook of Seong-hun's neck and shoulder; Seong-hun's skin was smelled nice, even when he was fresh from running or cycling. Joshua thought he might tell Jeonghan and Seungcheol about that one day; Ha-Yoon had convinced Seong-hun into getting some cardiovascular exercise other than running. They had only gone one-and-a-half kilometers before Seong-hun went head-first, somehow, into a zebra crossing sign and bruised five ribs. Joshua had come around in his Jeep to pick up Ha-Yoon and Seong-hun; there wasn't really any other option. Seong-hun had had to lie about Joshua been his son at the hospital so Joshua could stay with him in the ward while x-rays were carried out. Ha-Yoon nearly blew her top over it; Seong-hun's morphine dose had to be doubled nearly specifically due to the fact Ha-Yoon kept making him laugh. 


"I don't think I can sleep." Joshua said to Seong-hun. He felt himself relax as one of Seong-hun's hands slipped in-between his legs. Seong-hun's fingertips traced patterns and swirls over the inside of Joshua's thigh. He stayed quiet, enjoying the feeling. The hand went up over his hip bone and then to his ribs; Joshua's eyes closed as the touch slid lightly over his neck and then to the tip of his jaw and the skin behind his ear. His breathing sank into something more comatose as Seong-hun's hand slid into his air, and the older man's mouth was pressed against his, dry enough to stick. Joshua nearly flinched at the sudden feeling of Seong-hun's eyelashes against his cheek. Seong-hun's touch got him lost in a world where there was no melodrama; no mood swings and smoking related illnesses, no Welshmen with sad pasts and no songs about wanting to be held.

 

------------------------------

 

The first thing Joshua got in the morning was a call from Camille, apologising. "Drummer got the test results. It's his smoking that's making him sick." She said. The sound of the shower faucet and the running water filled up Joshua's head; down the hall Seong-hun was in the shower, and Joshua was half inclined to join him in there.


Joshua wondered if he had had a premonition had some point. "How many does he smoke a day?" 


"Between fourteen or twenty-four."


"No wonder he's dead." Joshua said. "Which one of you is it that has the asphyxiation fetish? Synth or Electric?"


"Matty." Camille replied.


"That's right." Joshua nodded. "But does it make it a lung problem? With Drummer?"


"They're sort of fucked in a way, and he'll probably get cancer when he's older unless he clears it up, but, you know, he'll still get it." Camille didn't sound particularly bothered. Compared to her reaction over the last two days, it was a completely shock to Joshua. 


"Is Drummer going to give up smoking?" He asked her.


"Are you kidding me? He'll just start smoking organic tobacco or just smoke the usual and take vitamins - or by luck of God he'll kick the habit, but he'll just start drinking like a fish." Camille chuckled softly. Joshua ended the phone call shortly after, before Seong-hun got out of the shower.


"Are you alright?" Seong-hun asked Joshua. He sat down on the ebd beside Joshua, still wearing the bath towel just around his hips. "You look run down."


"What? No, I'm fine." Joshua said. He regretted the defensive edge to his tone. Camille had caused that. "Sorry." He added, gentler.


"No worries." Seong-hun replied.


In the end it would have been better if I hadn't come back around

 

----------------------------------

 

"That looks shit." Joshua said to Seungcheol quietly. All three of them had spotted the bridal magazines Lily had been flicking through, and Seungcheol reckoned she was putting an "X" beside the dresses she liked. The dress in question was a pork-pie neck with a straight shiloutte, a ribbon-belt waist, and gathered sleeves at the wrist. Seungcheol and Jeonghan laughed.


"Oh, that one's sexy." Jeonghan pointed out a dress that Lily hadn't marked. It was long-sleeved with a sweetheart neckline and backless; it was a embroidered voile construction, with a three foot train and from the thigh up it was fitted to the bride's body. "That would look nice on her."


"You think?" Seungcheol said.


"Yeah." Joshua nodded. "Or maybe that one." He picked out a lace dress that was high-necked with long sleeves; it was also backless with a long a-line cut skirt with a measured diamter of two meters for the skirts fall and width. 


"Can you image what Camille would wear?" Jeonghan teased Joshua, poking his shoulder.


"Oh, she wants a dress that either looks like Miranda Kerr's or Grace Kelly's. But then she's got an idea for a lace dress with thigh-slits and purple fuck-me boots." Joshua replied, looking intently down at the price tags in the bridal magazine.


"Fuck, have you talked about that?" Seungcheol said to Joshua.


"Camille talks about stuff like that; women talk about stuff like that." Joshua muttered. "Hey, Cheol, I've found her dress."


"Oh, yeah?"


"Well, the big tick beside it might give a clue." Joshua pointed down to a black dress which was high-necked, skin-tight, long-sleeved. It was constructed from a black velvet, but a line ran down the front from the neckline, crisp and white and covered in Edwardian-period Austro-Hungarian embroidery. The collar was white at the front, but at the back it was as deep black as her hair.


Jeonghan laughed at the expression on Seungcheol's face; he looked quite stunned, but he was blushing, clearly thinking about it. "Sexy." Joshua commented, snapping the magazine shut loud enough to make Seungcheol snap out of his reverie and make Jeonghan laugh even harder.


"Have you decided what music you'll have?"


"What do you mean?"


"The wedding, you idiot." Joshua looked at Seungcheol. "You don't want the big wedding do you? Do you just want to elope or something?"


"No, it's not that, it's just -" Seungcheol faltered awkwardly. "My parents can't stand her, and vice versa; my family and her family will fight and carry on and make a scene, and Lily will resent that day for the rest of her life. I sort of wish we could still have the wedding, but just us, you, Jeonghan, not all the Aunties and Uncles and the people will start a fight." Seungcheol sighed. "Lily was talking either The Beatles, Elvis Presely, U2, or Coldplay."


"You're alright with that?" Jeonghan asked. "It's your wedding too; you and Lily need to talk about this stuff."


"It's not really." Seungcheol replied. "Concept of a wedding is basically all about the girl - and that's fine! I like Elvis and The Beatles - Beatles was the one with John Lennon, right? The one who got shot?" He checked with Joshua, who nodded.


"Not on your playlist." Jeonghan remarked.


"Yeah, but in general." Seungcheol motioned about. "I know some of the songs anyway - everyone's heard "Yellow" by Coldplay, and "Can't Help Falling In Love" by Elvis."


"Alright, we won't say anymore." Jeonghan said. "Have you got a suit organized?"


"Oh no..." Seungcheol groaned. Joshua and Jeonghan grinned at each other. That was probably the highlight of shit of the wedding for Seungcheol; suit fittings. "The last thing I want is a sixty year old man with his hands in my crotch with a measuring tape." Seungcheol said plainly. 


"I know a tailor." Joshua said.


"Do you sleep with him?" Jeonghan questioned. Joshua raised an eyebrow. That had been graceful.


"Of course I do, but how is that relevant?" Joshua replied.


"Um..." Jeonghan looked him up and down. Joshua scoffed. 


"Seriously?"


"How old is he?" Seungcheol asked.


"Thirty-nine." Joshua said. "Good manners. Professional. Makes good suits. Hang on." Joshua pulled out his phone and brought up the tailor's business. Jeonghan's eyes widened at the shop front. It was cream-rendered front with nine-foot glass windows and internally the building was old-world luxury; polished floorboards, sixteen foot ceilings, hanging lights, displays of fabric along with shoes, and hunting garb. "Politicians go to him."


"Looks expensive." Seungcheol said.


"Pretty much, but I can work him." Joshua responded. They looked at him. "I'm £600 an hour, I've got to deliver and a bit more." He added.


"What does he like?" Jeonghan asked. Seungcheol laughed, and slapped Jeonghan's chest.


"You can't ask that all the time." Seungcheol told him.


"Yes, I can." Jeonghan was completely undeterred.


"He's got a fetish for Capnolagnia." Joshua said. "It's a fetish for smoking during sex."

Chapter Text

I've said this before. They say about women coming in all shapes and forms. It's the same with men. Tall women, short women, selfish women, ignorant women. Hairy men, thin men, quiet men, conniving men. I wouldn't say I'm scheming, but I'd say about nearly every other person I know. Matty and Camille are terrifying, Seungcheol has his moments, Jeonghan - for Jeonghan it's second nature - and I think Lily's trying to educate Seungcheol in it.


Twenty-three clients means twenty-three personalities; one of these personalities is called Dong-hyun, and he's an expert in aero-nautical engineering.


He's the actual rocket man.


I wouldn't be seen there dead during the day, so I guess I was lucky when it gets dark.


"Did you see where some idiot was launching firecrackers and projectiles last night off in Guro-gu?" Camille said to Joshua. She was walking around in a white dressing gown and her hair was in a loose ponytail. She looked ill, like she had been throwing up all night. If she actually had been, Joshua didn't know and she hadn't said anything to him.


"Yeah." He glanced over his shoulder at her as he put the kettle to boil. Camille drank green tea but apparently she hadn't for ages since Matty voice the opinion that it tastes like torture.


I tried to convince myself that Camille would have a fit if she knew. But, the truth is, she'd think it was the most hilarious thing she had ever heard in her life.

 

--------------------------------------

 

Car sex. Nothing wrong with that. Providing if the person like Dong-hyun has a huge car with heaps of space in the back. Providing if you're like me and don't mind been surrounded by boxes of crackers and portable tin tanks of petrol. Pitch black at night in the old industrial bones of Seoul. 


Joshua knew that Dong-hun preferred it in Budapest. He had done a full circuit of the Soviet-block after he had completed and graduated with a Doctorate from University. "For all the stuff that went on and goes on in Russia, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungrary - all the stuff you can just do." Don-hyung had once said to him. "Here, you need to go to the government through the University and get applications. In Budapest, you just check with an old man at the end of the street, and if anyone actually calls the fire brigade, he just goes out and tells them that some Chinky-people are doing a science experiment."


"Come on, come on." Joshua tipped his head back against the console as Dong-hyun thrusted into him. He clawed his nails down Dong-hyun thigh, and the man thrust into him more eagarly, five long red marks down his skin. Joshua moved down on Dong-hyun as he moved, making the two of them gasp and moan. "Harder."


Joshua's breath faltered and he squirmed beneath Dong-hyun's body as the man hit deeper inside him, and Joshua just couldn't stay still. As Joshua's back arched off the folded down seats, one of Dong-hyun's hands came to his back and held him against him as he thrust. Joshua was the first to come, and as he did he felt lost for a few moments, his vision having gone dark and distant, even though he could still feel Dong-hyun's breath on his neck.


Nights where you spend your time sitting on the roof of a four-wheel drive and watch crackers been launched off the roofs of old electrical plant offices - nothing wrong with that, either. It's wonderful, actually. 


Oh my God, Joshua thought as the first projectile launched up into the sky, and in exploded into a series of five separate explosions, all the bright colours of fire; gold, red, white, yellow, fierce orange that reminded Joshua once of a eye-shadow he had seen Lily wear. Joshua held up his phone and took photographs of the display. In-between the crackers and the projectiles going on, Joshua listened out for Police sirens as he watched Dong-hyun mutter to himself up on the building's roof and take notes in a black book. It was only for about fifteen minutes the display shot up into the sky. Dong-hyun insisted he had permission for "experimental purposes", but Joshua wondered how far that could be twisted and turned until it was kinked and curve and easy to shatter. 


We drove home after midnight with the windows down.


Joshua rested his feet up on the dashboard in front of the passenger seat, and gazed out of the passenger window, his hand cupping Dong-hyun's penis through his jeans in a hold.


"Did it go well?" Joshua said to Dong-hyun, who laughed a little bit.


"Yeah." He said. "And when I was jumping up and down, I wasn't having a psychotic episode - I was filming."


Joshua smiled. "Sure." He teased. He gripped Dong-hyun's penis through his jeans, and he felt satisfied as he noticed Dong-hyun twitch from the contact. He thought about giving Dong-hyun a handjob while he was driving; Dong-hyun wouldn't crash into the side of an underpass. Quite often when Joshua was with Dong-hyun they went out. Dong-hyun was a good driver.


Joshua's fingers unhooked the top button of Dong-hyun's jeans, and pushed down the zipper. Joshua pulled out Dong-hyun's penis and he pressed his thumb over the tip firmly; Dong-hyun's leg jerked, which made him take his foot away from the acelerator and put the car into cruise control. He saw Dong-hyun glance down at himself in Joshua's hand. Joshua moved his hand up and down Dong-hyun's length slowly. A tiny change appeared in the pattern of Dong-hyun's breathing. After a period of time that was only seconds long, Joshua stopped working on Dong-hyun, and had the grace to tuck the man back into his jeans. As Dong-hyun glanced down at himself, and then to Joshua, Joshua undid the front of his own jeans, and begin to work himself beside Dong-hyun in the car. Dong-hyun groaned, but kept his eyes on the road. Joshua grinned to himself, unseen by the other man.


A minute later Dong-hyun pulled up in a quiet section of neighbourhood in a area of Seoul pretty much within walking distance of Jeonghan's home. The car was already dark except the lights of the dashboard and the console, but things became darker as they parked beneath a ash-oak tree and Dong-hyun turned off the engine. As the hot slickness of Dong-hyun's mouth enveloped him, Joshua's head tipped back against the head-rest of the passenger seat, his mouth half open in a smile. He ran his hand through Dong-hyun's hair and lifted his hips up, pushing further into Dong-hyun's mouth. Joshua made a soft "ah" with each breath and each time Dong-hyun's head bobbed up and down on his lap. With Dong-hyun face down in a pitch-black car, he couldn't look up and see Joshua's face to see if he was doing a bad job; all he had to go on was what Joshua's hands were doing and the sounds he was making.


I wondered how it would be if anyone saw me pushing myself into Dong-hyun's mouth. I half expected a little old lady in a hairnet and a pink wool dressing down to appear and spot us with a lithium battery torch. Or a patroling police vehicle knocks on the window to check on us. How would we explain that? Am I into older men, officer? Well, sort of...
"I'm going to come." Joshua slowed down the thrusting of his hips; he was really going to hard, it was amazing that Dong-hyun could still breathe.


Suddenly, Dong-hyun pulled off him with a wet sound, before sorting himself back into the driver seat and turning on the vehicle's ignition. Joshua stared at him. Dong-hyun looked side-long at him in return.


"You bluffed me." He said by way of response. Joshua leant back into the passenger seat as far as he could go, and chuckled quietly. Of course Dong-hyun wasn't going to let him off; he knew what he was up too.


It's a tiny thing to say about, but I like how he puts the headlights on the lowest beam setting so the light doesn't shine into the neighbours houses; sometimes I'm coming home in the early hours of the morning before the sun comes up. It's a small courtesy, but I take notice of it


Dong-hyun climbed out of the car to see Joshua inside, parked in the driveway. Joshua kissed Dong-hyun on the mouth and grinned, their lips still pressed together, as Dong-hyun groped his backside. Dong-hyun made a slight "oof" noise as Joshua climbed up onto him, wrapping his arms around Dong-hyun's neck and his legs around Dong-hyun's hips. He could play cheeky as well.


"Can't convince you to come inside for another round?" Joshua said, his nose pressing against Dong-hyun's cheek; Dong-hyun now both has his hands squarely on Joshua's arse, lewd and groping as he held on. Joshua rubbed himself up against Dong-hyun, and the gesture made him the older man press his back into brickwork beside the garage door. Joshua chuckled, even though Dong-hyun's fingertips pressed into him in a way that would leave bruises and would probably feel better with no clothes.


"You've had enough for tonight." Dong-hyun answered. Joshua kissed him, open-mouthed, and was happy for Dong-hyun to get the hint to put his tongue inside his mouth. Joshua swore he could taste himself on Dong-hyun's.


"Alright, Daddy." Joshua said, grasping his legs around Dong-hyun tighter. Dong-hyun looked taken aback for a moment.


"Maybe next time." He conceded. He put Joshua down, and waved as he climbed back into his car and left. Joshua leant against the brickwork after Dong-hyun had left, and looked up to the sky. He could actually see the stars. It was a rarity to be able to see them in Seoul, with all the airborne pollution and smog. You had to be a decent twenty kilometers from the City before you could see an lunar life at night. Joshua got caught up in it for a minute, and reflected on all the things he didn't mean to do, but it was what his mind did anyway by fault.


He walked around to the front of the property, and climbed up the wooden stairs lined either side with pebbles and relatively low-maintenance garden to his front door. He started as he saw a figure emerge. "Cunt." Slipped out of Joshua's mouth in a growl as he stumbled back, not loosing his balance on the stairs but nearly having a accident. The figure didn't move anymore. Joshua climbed up the stairs, ready to punch whoever it was in the face; he didn't thick they might have a knife or a gun. He didn't think they could be a robber or some sort of psychopath. Whoever it was, no matter what, he was going to clock them. Joshua stopped as he made out Jeonghan's face. The older man was leaning against the brickwork beside his front door with his arms crossed, and one foot pressed flat to the brickwork.


I didn't mean to say it. Cunt. This I told Camille about. She told me that Jeonghan must give me "a touch of the Matty's". 


And, honestly, that's the only reasonable explanation. That has to be the explanation.


"You're wrong about the wedding dress." Jeonghan said. "Lily showed Seungcheol when she saw her magazines had been moved. You're far off it. It's a two piece thing; a skirt and a top."


"You came all the way out from the city to tell me this?" Joshua knew he was too harsh when he said it. Jeonghan couldn't see his face in the darkness; he couldn't tell that Joshua didn't mean it the way it had come out.


"Well...yeah." Jeonghan mumbled. Joshua half-groped for him in the darkness but found him, one hand locking in the front of Jeonghan's shirt in-between his ribs, and the other clumsily hitting his shoulder, before the palm and fingertips traced up Jeonghan's shoulder to his neck. He knew he had upset him; he and Jeonghan fought, but Joshua didn't call him a cunt. Joshua's forehead bumped against Jeonghan's, and suddenly Joshua realized that he couldn't find Jeonghan's mouth.


Joshua looked up to the sky as he felt a water drop; he waited for another to hit him out of the darkness, but it didn't make sense. How could there be rain with no clouds in the sky?


Jeonghan mumbled something so quiet that Joshua wished he could say that he didn't hear it, but he was too close to Jeonghan to not hear it.


"I think there must be something wrong with me."


"There's nothing wrong with you, you're wonderful." Joshua said to Jeonghan. Joshua felt Jeonghan's eyelashes fluttered against his cheek. "Jeonghan?" Joshua put his fingertips beneath Jeonghan's chin, which he had ducked. "Don't think stuff like this. You don't need to think stuff like this."


"What if I can't help it?"


"Be Yoon Jeonghan. Be a arsehole." Joshua chuckled softly. His nose bumped against Jeonghan's.


"What if I look at you and can't help but think it?" Jeonghan said. He was still so quiet in sound.


"Do you want to come inside?" Joshua asked him. One of his thighs was pressed up against Jeonghan's, and he could smell the slight older man's deodorant. Jeonghan's hands hung down by his side, and Joshua wished they would move. "Come inside."


Jeonghan's head tipped onto Joshua's shoulder as he fumbled around for the keys; Joshua was slowly unlocking the front door as he felt Jeonghan's warm breath on his neck. Joshua didn't turn the lights on as he and Jeonghan shuffled inside; there was something about it that didn't even make it occur to him. Right then Jeonghan didn't really want to see Joshua, and Joshua knew Jeonghan didn't want him seeing him. The dark masked them and kept things hidden.


"I don't even know what I'm doing." Jeonghan suddenly mumbled. "I need to leave."


"No, you don't." Joshua pressed Jeonghan into the wall; his knuckles were against the plaster, and each thumb rested on Jeonghan's waist. Jeonghan's head turned at the contact and they were both so close together that Joshua felt Jeonghan's chest hitch.


"It's my fault, everything. Not yours." Joshua told him.


"You'd always take the blame." Jeonghan didn't have anywhere to dart to out of shame as Joshua's hand came up to wrap around the curve of his neck, and once again Jeonghan's nose was pressed into Joshua's jacket as his head lay in the crook of Joshua's shoulder. Jeonghan wanted for a moment to ask Joshua to put the lights on so he could see if this was real.


"Yeah." Joshua's mouth moved against Jeonghan's hair.


"I'm such an idiot." Jeonghan said. Joshua hummed slightly, without saying a word. His hands slipped underneath the hem of Jeonghan's jumper. Jeonghan's skin was hot; there was no other description for it. His skin felt like he had just come out from a hot shower, then had been wrapped up in a electric blanket. Joshua wanted to see how Jeonghan would react to it. Jeonghan didn't move under his hands, except for a shiver.


"Your hands are freezing." He hissed. Joshua exhaled softly over Jeonghan's mouth. Jeonghan's fingertips came up and pressed against Joshua's lower lip. Joshua opened his mouth and bit on Jeonghan's index finger, sinking his teeth in slightly harder than he had been as Jeonghan's moved down. The gesture made Jeonghan admit a slight gasp, and Joshua came to hold Jeonghan's wrist, sucking the finger into his mouth. The other hand which was still beneath Jeonghan's shirt moved up the skin; his thumb pressed against Jeonghan's nipple, which nearly immediately hardened.


It sounds weird, but I'm glad that I couldn't see the way Jeonghan was looking at me, and he couldn't see the way I was looking at him. Usually - any other time - I would have wanted it the other way. Have the memory burned into my head and burned into Jeonghan's.


Jeonghan made a soft noise as Joshua's body body pressed against his and he was back against the wall, and the younger's mouth finally pressed against his. Without thinking, Jeonghan shoved Joshua back so hard in the darkness that he crashed to the ground, and Jeonghan think Joshua hit some of the other wall as well.


"Love?"


Joshua broke out of his reverie as she slapped his back gently. He had been leaning against the bench and had been staring at the kettle, off in his own little world. He hadn't noticed that the kettle had already well and truly boiled, and now it was just sitting there.


"Sorry." He quickly said, and turned off the power point for the kettle. Camille talked quietly, not bothered by it. He kept close but out of her way as she made a mug of tea. They fell silent as the tea-bag stewed in the hot water of the mug. He noticed her regarding him.


"Corpse Bride." Camille said. Her head tilted to the side. "Arsonist...The Art of Being An Arsonist? No, wait, does that work?" A knuckle pressed against the underside of her cheek. "Call To The Fire." She said. "I've just come up with two - you've made me just come up with two new songs."


The tea lay forgotten as she suddenly ran out of the kitchen and up the stairs to her bedroom and her laptop, completely leaving Joshua in another universe. He didn't follow her up the stairs; she needed her own space, and Joshua didn't want to admit to anyone let alone himself how he couldn't help but let his chest burn when Camille would tell him to "piss off".


Joshua had known the push and fall was coming before he hit the ground. His breath had left his lungs as soon as Jeonghan's hands at hit his stomach and the space in-between his ribs. The fall had been worse in the dark; he couldn't see where exactly he was going. Even though it was dark he had closed his eyes. The shock of the fall hadn't got him as hard as the thud from his skull hitting the wall and the skirting board in two separate crashes had. 


"God." Was the first thing that came out of Joshua's mouth as he got to his feet, wincing at a sting that echoed jut below the bottom of his skull. He pressed his fingers there, and it was wet, and so was his hair. It didn't feel like blood as it felt like sweat from how overwrought Jeonghan had made him; though the sting stayed at the back of Joshua's head, he couldn't feel a gash in the skin. 


"He's not going to help you now." Jeonghan dared to say into the darkness. He couldn't see his own hand if he held it in front of his face, let alone Joshua who wasn't touching him anymore.


"How do you think that's what I mean?" Joshua put into the air. He half lunged forward and caught Jeonghan's wrist, and by path of memory, they found the staircase and Joshua went up them as though it were daylight, no hesitation at all, while Jeonghan slowed him down, cautiously finding each step before he left the one below.


A single gasp of laughter came out of Jeonghan's throat as Joshua kicked the door open of the professional room.


I get rough for clients; men are men. And it's not a man having sex with a woman; it's a man having it with another man.


But that doesn't go for Jeonghan. Of course not; he's not into rough as he is...


But of course I was rough. He had shoved me hard enough that another hole could have been put through the wall in the house. I'm not finding an excuse. It's just hard trying to think about it when you're in you're girlfriends house and she's suddenly ignoring your existence as she writes music upstairs. They say about artistic licence; what about disqualification for being mental?


Still not turning the lights on, Joshua pushed Jeonghan's jumper and shirt up over his head and broke away to do the same. He heard a thud as one of Jeonghan's shoes hit the skirting board. He seized Jeonghan's body back again but he knew he had fucked up as soon as he realized he had Jeonghan by his neck.


I've got a secret that only Kaito knows about. Back in the early days, there was one day where he choked me during the sex until I had a blood nose and I was nearly passing out. It's stuck with me ever since. It's got a nasty habit of coming out sometimes. I want to blame it on the darkness, how can I think of Jeonghan's body being Kaito's just because it's dark and I can't see him as he actually was - is?


Jeonghan's startled breath was muffled as his mouth was back on Joshua's, or it was the other way around. Both of his hands were trapped in-between he and Joshua's chests and Joshua took control.


"Idiot." Jeonghan said. Joshua pulled one of his legs up so Jeonghan's inner thigh was pressed against Joshua's hip and their crotches were pressed together. One of Joshua hands ran beneath Jeonghan's thigh then over the curve of his arse and then up his back, thrusting his hand deep into Jeonghan's hair. "Total - fucking idiot." He growled.
"Bitch." Joshua replied, directly into his ear. The effect it had on Jeonghan made it come to bright animated life, and he and Joshua's hands were hard and intent as they pulled off their trousers and their underwear from each other. Jeonghan genuinely scoffed as he found Joshua didn't have any on.


"Slut." Jeonghan said to Joshua. Joshua responded by murmuring the same thing back to him, before picking him up fully and effortlessly, both of Jeonghan's legs now wrapped around his waist. Jeonghan groaned, his lips parting against Joshua's temple with one arm wrapped around the top of his shoulders and the other thrust into his hair, as Joshua's middle finger traced over his entrance.


"It's gay now; cockslut." Joshua informed him. Jeonghan could hear the grin in his voice.


"Oh, right." He mumbled.


Joshua threw Jeonghan down onto the bed and moved over the top of him, but Jeonghan pushed him over. A spring in the mattress squeaked at the movement, and the Spring around them felt like the Summer instead, hot and humid and suffocating. Joshua laughed, slightly deresive, and Jeonghan's body hovered over the top of his.


"You don't even know what to do." Joshua said. His eyes searched for Jeonghan in the dark; he remembered when Jeonghan's hair had been long and thick and black. It had, at the time, disturbed Joshua slightly incredibly deep down and the pure sense of androgony. When Joshua would gaze at Jeonghan side-long sometimes all those years ago, he had felt Jeonghan was the physical embodiment of a nearly spiritual place he had needed to reach. Joshua mused that if it was still long, Jeonghan's hair would have been tickling and tracing along his face and his neck and his chest, and he'd always know where Jeonghan was because he could keep hold of him, as though he was on a leash. A sudden epiphany reached the surface of Joshua's brain. For Jeonghan, Joshua himself was the place he also needed to reach.


I know this already, but it doesn't mean I pay attention to it or remember it. It comes and goes in waves. Some people are born like this. It's not a negativity, but it's a different sort of energy. Anthropologic wonder. Each time it comes - something like that occurs - it just shines. It makes you shine. A small fire builds up inside and burns away. Embers get on your bones and it feels like their in your hair and your bones as well.


The second that epiphany occured to Joshua, Jeonghan turned on a bedside table lamp.


Jeonghan suddenly made a exclamation, before pulling Joshua up by his shoulders. There was blood on Jeonghan's face, hair, hands, chest, stomach, ribs, hips and thighs; it was the same portrait on Joshua, with more in a drying state down his back and across the tops of his shoulders from where Jeonghan had spread it. A small pool was now on the pillow, and there were marks and strokes of it on the linen.


"I've hurt you, I'm so sorry." Jeonghan was suddenly rambling, half straddling Joshua's lap and coming away with more blood, fresh and thick and red, on his fingertips. He pulled Joshua's head down to look at the back of his scalp; blood had dried enough like a clay, matting sections of Joshua's hair together. "There's blood on your walls and everywhere, you need a hospital and get stitches -"


"Will you just not speak?" Joshua requested quietly, kissing Jeonghan's chest and running his hands up and down over Jeonghan's hip-bones and waist.


"Shua, you're covered in blood -"


"Hey." Joshua's nose ran in a small line up the centre of Jeonghan's chest as he chucked his chin, his eyes closed. He could feel the dampness of sweat on Jeonghan's skin and he wanted to run his tongue over Jeonghan's neck but from the position they were in, Jeonghan was too far away. "Don't you think it's a little bit sexy?" He put to Jeonghan.


Jeonghan froze, looking down at him. "Dump Camilla." He said. Joshua couldn't believe he had said "Camilla" rather than "Camille." "She's making you sick."


"I'm sick anyway, what's the use in that?" Joshua replied. "We can be sick and weird and perverted and fucked-up together. She's got really great breasts - have I ever told you that?"


Jeonghan still remained frozen, but wasn't stone. Joshua kissed him, entwining his fingers in Jeonghan's hair and pulling at it. As he did, Jeonghan's breathing pattern changed; Joshua hadn't been able to give much notice to it before, wherever in the middle air Jeonghan had been laying. Jeonghan came back to life again, fingertips running over Joshua's neck and jaw and cheekbones and collarbones, making the process of committing the tracings to memory but that was just bullshit; no one can remember something like that so vivid that it feels once more except for the deepest, inexplicably erotic dream. Jeonghan ground down onto Joshua, and he felt Joshua's lips part in a grin, one hand coming down to squeeze the flesh of Jeonghan's left thigh in a hold as the man moved on him.


"Lie down." Joshua said, finally able to run his tongue across Jeonghan's neck. He nearly bit down as Jeonghan began to fondle him.


"You're not taking control of me." Jeonghan told him.


"Yes, I am." Joshua looked up into Jeonghan's eyes as he said it; he believed what Jeonghan said, but he meant what he did as well.


 "No, you're not."


When you look into someone's eyes and you don't see yourself but you see fear, it does all sorts of things to you.


Fear wasn't something that either Jeonghan and I have ever got to. 


There's an underlying agreement with any relationship that fear doesn't enter it. And in the relationship, if you're the one to create the fear...it says a lot. If you're beating someone and they're on the ground, bleeding and pleading, it only sustains you. You don't stop. If you can see an opponent backing down, you work at it harder. Visceral pride fills you up; that power.


But that isn't the case with something like this. There's too much vulnerability and it's not us; neither me or Jeonghan really get like this. For me it's an act - make the money. For Jeonghan...anyone's capable of it. But we don't do things, never, that we're capable of.


It's because we make the choice


As if to illustrate his point further, Jeonghan's fingertips pressed at the bottom of Joshua's skull. Joshua's chest hitched at the sharp pain that echoed on his skin as one of Jeonghan's nails pressed there, getting further covered in blood.


I realized at that problem...he and I were covered in my blood that was caused by a gash in the back of my head from when he had shoved me into the wall. 


That's terrifying. 


I could have just made the choice to stop; I could have come back to my senses and realized how bad I was fucking everything up.


I don't think Jeonghan realizes just how much he ruins me; more often than not I can't remember who I am when we get like this. If I told him that it would probably terrify him as well. Because we're not normal, platonic, young and happy like Seungcheol and Lily are - even though they're engaged to be married. Secretly, their each other's best mates. More of the time Lily gives the point of view and point of life from a "friend whose a chick" rather than a "girlfriend that becomes fiancée who will soon be wife". But I'm liar. From day one where I saw him...


I don't know how to explain that.


I kept watching him. Watching all his movements and how his mouth moved when he spoke. Then I went up to him.


The truth is we've always had that "thing". That sort of intimacy. I said before how sometimes it was hell and how sometimes it was wonderful.


You know all we're doing? We're just repeating ourselves all over again, covering it up and then starting again.


Joshua ran his hand down the curve of Jeonghan's neck, getting the older man to focus in on him. 


I wanted to say I was sorry; I mean it. But you say something like that and you inadvertently fuck things up even more


Joshua changed his mind. "I'm sorry." He said. Jeonghan swallowed in response, not looking at him. He moved away from being over the top of Joshua's body and instead laid beside him.


"What the fuck are we going to do about your head?" Jeonghan said. "Let me look at your head." Joshua tipped onto his right side and tipped his chin down towards his chest so Jeonghan could see the gash in the lamplight. Joshua felt Jeonghan's fingers traced around the outside of the gash. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry..." Jeonghan murmured.


Joshua rolled back onto his other side; he fell tucked up close to Jeonghan. "Get your clothes back on; we'll call Lily." He said. Even though he didn't need the help, he kept quiet as Jeonghan put his t-shirt back over his head. As the fabric slipped over his head, temporarily banning his sight, when it came back a second later Joshua clasped Jeonghan's neck in his hands and he brought his face down to kiss him.


Lily made a soft sound at the sight of Joshua's head when she arrived half an hour later, black handbag in tow. "Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the little donkey that carried them all the way to Bethlehem." She opined. Her hands fluttered about. "I need music to do this." She said. 


"Get me laptop, Jeonghan." Joshua twisted around to look at the other men who looked like the aftermath of a human being imploding. He hadn't wanted Lily to know about anything because then Seungcheol would. He was back in all of his clothes, and he had said to her immediately as she came up the stairs and through the front door that Joshua had been drinking and he had fallen over. All of that had gone bust as Lily walked into Joshua's kitchen and saw him sitting on one of the barstools at the kitchen island in just his black shirt and with a ice pack held at the back of his skull; she could smell no alcohol on his breath. Nevertheless, a minute later pagan folk music was playing from Joshua's laptop, and Lily was cleaning up the wound with fresh chucks cloths and a bowl of Dettol dissolved water.


"I didn't know you were into this stuff, love." Lily said to him.


"More Kaito than me." Joshua explained. "He had a big rant one day; about hippies and folk cunts -" He broke off as Lily doubled over, nearly pissing herself laughing. "Pagan and Shinto isn't hippie or folk." Joshua mimicked Kaito's angry Japanese accent. "Hippies are a bunch of welfare-bludgers on drugs who steal from indigenous and native cultures and exploit them and make them a fashion and a load of bullshit. Folk is just old-world Christian culture in little villages in Europe. Do you know how beautiful it is to be Pagan or Shinto? No one knows; it's a secret. You say Pagan or Shinto and people don't know what you mean. There's enough sub-human cunts who exploit it; they're just fucking fakes. Most of them would shit themselves when they say how we actually behave."


"He's got a point." Lily affectionately stroked Joshua's cheek. "Kaito's very mature for just been on eighteen. Hey, love, this is going to sting a bit." She squeezed his hand. "Hey, come over here, you've got a job to do." She told Jeonghan, flicking her chin up. "We're going to have to glue your head back together. It's a special type of surgical glue; it takes only two minutes to set afterwards. Everything'll be alright. Everything will be ok."


Joshua grinned up at Jeonghan as his hand slipped into his as the singer from his laptop crooned, "Oh, given the chance to break, would you be on your way out? Who are you? Ooo, given the chance to break, would you be on your way out? Who are you?"


Joshua squeezed Jeonghan's hand as a warm burn started up through his skin; it lasted only a short while before another searing pain hit as Lily pressed the edges of the wound together, and held them in place. "Nearly done, love..." Lily told him.


"Where did you even get that?" Jeonghan asked of the surgical glue.


"Ask me no questions and I won't whoop your arse, bitch." Lily scowled over Joshua's head. She waved her hand like a fan at the back of Joshua's scalp, then tutted.
"See you later, love." Lily kissed Joshua's cheek. Out of the corner of his eye, Joshua saw Jeonghan get het about it. "Call me in the morning, tell me how you're feeling. Take a few Panadol and if there is any weeping or blood, get me around here immediately, eh?" She kissed his cheek again, and picked up her handbag and left.


"YOU'RE GETTING MARRIED TO CHEOL, REMEMBER, YOU SLUT?!" Jeonghan hollered after her. A second later he rushed around the other side of the bench as Lily stormed back into the kitchen, and pulled a very heavy stainless steel knife from a wood block by the stove.


"You give him AID's, I'll cut your testicles off and shove them down your throat." She said. "I'm the woman of the house. I own all of your arses." With that she hurled the knife across the room, sunk it four inches into the wall above Jeonghan's head, and this time properly left.


"Shua!" Jeonghan gasped out as Joshua simply sat on the barstool, gazing dreamily up at the ceiling, listening to the music.


"I think I like that." Joshua said after a while. "Lily of the house rather than Camille of the house..."

 

------------------------------

 

Joshua was lying length-ways across Camille's catch with his feet up on the arm when she came back downstairs two horus later.


"Oh, you're still here." She said to him.


"Yeah?"


"I thought you would have fucked off and left me a note saying I was a prize-winning bitch with a fat arse." She explained. Joshua absorbed the information.


"You sort of are." He admitted. She smiled in a way that made her completely beautiful.


"Warned you." She came over and kissed the top of his head. Lily had done such a immaculate job of his head that Camille hadn't noticed a thing. Joshua reached up and squeezed one of her breasts that was dangling in her top over his head.


"You made a song called "Corpse Bride"?" He said to her. "I want to hear it."


"No problem." Camille tapped her finger in the space in-between his eyebrows.

Chapter Text

"Where did you go?" Seungcheol asked Lily as she scrubbed at the inside of the bathtub with a sponge and a bottle of cleaning bleach. She sighed.


"You're not going to like it." She said to him.


"What happened?"


"Hey, now, keep in mind I could have just told you that my boss's credit cards got hacked or something?" Lily put to him.


"Yeah, yeah, yeah?" Seungcheol hurried her up.


"Joshua and Jeonghan were drinking, and somehow Joshy's head got split open. They needed a woman with small tits and medical knowledge." Lily said.


"What?!"


"Don't yell and scream at me." Lily put her hands on her hips. "If you want to fight, get the boys on the blower."


"Blower?"


"On the phone. Nothing like the British teaching in Korean schools." Lily said.

 

--------------------------------------

 

"Sweetheart, you won't believe it!" Camille nearly squealed down the phone at Joshua. He held up a finger to Seong-hun, and mouthed "Sorry, she's mad". "Matty's coming back from Wales! Matty's coming back from Wales!"


"Jesus Christ." Joshua said. The call was on speaker-phone, and Seong-hun looked down at it slightly aghast. Joshua grinned, equally out of his depth as Seong-hun, as the older man squeezed his hand for support. Joshua held onto it, running his thumb back and forth over Seong-hun's knuckles.


"You know what this means?" She shot at him.


"Huge party?" Joshua replied weakly.


"Yes!" This time Camille actually squealed. Joshua held his phone half a foot away from his ear. "Do you eat fish and chips?"


"Yeah, of course, why?"


"This evening's catering." She responded quite normal-toned and sensibly. "I'm away laughing on a fast camel, honey-buns!" Was the last thing Joshua heard before Camille hung up.


She's on drugs, Joshua thought. There's no other explanation


"Everything alright?" Seong-hun asked him a few moments later.


"With her head?" Joshua echoed. "No idea. I think she's been in a declining state for the last couple of years."


"Shit, sounds like me." Seong-hun huffed. Joshua laughed and moved into Seong-hun's side, resting a hand and his head on Seong-hun's still firm chest.


"What are you saying?" Joshua asked him. "You're fine."


Seong-hun gazed down at him. "I love waking up to you." He said, before kissing Joshua's mouth.


"For God's sake, don't tell Ha-Yoon that." Joshua warned him. Seong-hun laughed, and kissed Joshua's nose. For a second Joshua thought Seong-hun had accidentally missed his mouth, but then as he realized a moment later, he was nearly overcome by a hot sweetness that went through the back of his head and through his chest to his stomach and his throat.


"Do you need to go and pick your friend up?" Seong-hun asked Joshua.


"No."


"Good." Joshua smiled against Seong-hun's mouth as the older man kissed him firmer, and Joshua was happy for a early morning round.

 

----------------------------------

 

"How drunk were you to have split Josh's head open?!" Seungcheol hissed to Jeonghan in Fred's warehouse studio. "It takes a crate of straight Vodka to get him wobbling."
Lily lied, Jeonghan thought. "Look, it just happened, Cheol."


"Why does my wife have to get out of bed in the middle of the night to come and help you?" Seungcheol asked. Jeonghan stared at him.


"Do you know what you just said?" He put to Seungcheol.


Seungcheol groaned. "Why couldn't you go to a hospital?" he asked instead.


"Shua didn't want to." Jeonghan ducked his head. "You know what it's like - you walk in, you have to fill out forms and insurance and health care, and you have to give a reason. Then you get arrested for assault if they don't believe you about falling over -"


"Is that what happened?" Seungcheol interrupted. "Did Josh fall over?"


"Yeah." Jeonghan ran his hand through his hair. "I saw him with all the blood, I didn't know what to do. We got inside -"

"Hang on, where did he fall over?"


"Why are you interrogating me?" Jeonghan retorted to Seungcheol as he interrupted him again. 


"Just tell me what happened." Seungcheol said, his hands moving as he spoke.


"Joshua said he was alright, but he obviously wasn't. We were home by then - his house. He just called Lily. He called her, not me. He said she'd be able to help." Jeonghan finished. He wished he wasn't so uncomfortable trying to tell Seungcheol; he couldn't help this feeling that Seungcheol knew all the things he wasn't telling him. But he had other things to worry about.


Jeonghan turned around quickly; even saying about what had happened last night had him hot and internally flustered all of a sudden. It had been too much for anybody to deal with in the space of just a few hours. Even though he was trying to walk away from it, the feeling grew inside him and Seungcheol walked after him across the polished concrete floor. Hot fluroescent lamps were angled towards white screens which made the air even hotter; the white colour didn't asorb the heat like green and blue did. Jeonghan wondered how far you could take expression from personal experiences when it involved other people. He had had a chat to Fred that morning about something a lot darker to exhibit; Fred was fine with it. If anything, he had been enthusiastic. "All up to you." Fred had said. "But tell me if deliveries need to be done; trucks, vans - the service road down the side isn't acessible. Five years I've been waiting for the council to do road-works, and suddenly they decide to do it now."


Jeonghan quickly got two dresses in cover-bags from a rack and held them across the front of his body, naturally enough that it didn't look like he was trying to conceal something. They had come all the way from Germany in a huge yellow-taped box, and Fred's receptionist of the business along with the studio had helped Jeonghan to unpackage them. Jeonghan hadn't ordered them; his series of work and attempt to make money and image and reputation weren't the only things that went on in Fred's studios. 


He and Joshua hadn't had sex after all of that. They fell asleep pressed up against each other in the spare room, because the professional bed's linen was covered in blood. They had kept switching positions in the night; Jeonghan's head had been on Joshua's chest, Joshua's head had been on his chest. One point Joshua had had his thigh over Jeonghan's crotch with his head in the crook of Jeonghan's shoulder, and then he and Jeonghan had been pressed together frontly. Everytime Joshua inhaled and exhaled, his chest had touched in a rhythm with Jeonghans.


Jeonghan wanted to make that again. 


"I didn't come here - I don't want to fight with you." Seungcheol said.


"Can you make it like that then?" Jeonghan responded, sighing through his nose. Seungcheol gathered himself, and gestured down to the bags.


"Can I have a look?" His question was an olive branch. Oh, fuck it, Jeonghan thought.


"Yeah, in a minute, I just got to do something. Hold on for me." Jeonghan walked off with the bags still held in front of him. He called over to one of the lighting crew, who was nicknamed "Chocolate" due to a series of freckles, moles, and little scars from when he used to run about his Father's welding and industrial trades workshop as a child. "Tell me you know where Fred is, Choc." Jeonghan said to him. Chocolate looked a bit meek all of a sudden.


"Sorry, hyung, I don't know." Chocolate shrugged.


"Look, I'm having a bit of a problem. Can you pretend that something's happened - just for Cheol's sake, the guy over there in the blue shirt - where I have to go away for a while?" Jeonghan dropped the him. Chocolate gave a minute nod. Jeonghan suddenly swore.


"God, how long was this going on?!" Jeonghan shouted. Chocolate, it turned out, was a great actor.


"Look, she's up in the office. The reception said to her about not calling and she went all German, shouting about cheques and designs and magazines. I don't know, Jeonghan, it's her stuff you're advertising." Chocolate pretended that the pretend person they were talking about was the German designer of the dresses in the bags in front of Jeonghan's crotch. "Just be careful, she's got jack boots on."


"Great, ruin the floor in the process." Jeonghan said of the Fraulein. Any other occasion, everything would have been hilarious. With all the acting needed to be done, Jeonghan stormed out of a side door of the studio space through to the offices and a little café set-up that was in-built to the structure.


"What's going on?" Seungcheol went over and asked Chocolate, who shrugged.


"Yeah, well, we were all having a good day until Hitler's granddaughter turned up." He said by way of explanation.


There were no security cameras in the building. Fred didn't believe in them. The café there was, the reception there was, but up in the offices and studio they were no-existent. There were also streams of models and workers with varying degrees of clothing, there was always someone have a row with someone, there was always cigarettes been passed around and by law the structure was supposed to have a no-smoking policy for the sake of health and safety. Jeonghan locked himself inside Fred's office, and figured that Fred would have his guts if he ever found out, but then, he wasn't going to. Jeonghan threw the bags down onto the floor and leant against Fred's antique desk, un-doing the front of his jeans and fishing himself out. He grit his jaw as images from the last night flooded his head, along with images of precisely what Joshua's naked body liked, and what he looked like with his mouth around Jeonghan's length.


Jeonghan felt filthy doing that, but he had no other way of getting it down; he just couldn't get Joshua out of his head. When they were younger he was always tucked into Joshua's side, touching him, climbing over him, groping him, obsessing over him, getting bored of him, all of it a constant. But now they were older and they were different and Jeonghan couldn't do all those things he used to get away with.


Fuck, Joshua had a girlfriend anyway and Seungcheol was a prime example of how time went by; he was getting married.


When Jeonghan closed his eyes, he could so clearly see Joshua that that alone was enough to make his chest tighten and the pattern of blood flow in his body change.


"Here's this movie that I think you'll like." Joshua gave Jeonghan a DVD that read "Velocite" on the front. "It's about this guy who decides to quit his job and head to New York city; it's got cowboys running from themselves and Jessica Schneider's been living on the higher shelf."


"Whose Jessica Schneider?" Jeonghan asked.


"Very pretty." Joshua grinned.


Jeonghan looked at the back of the DVD, and found the photograph of a immaculate fine-boned, wide-set eyed woman with sleek blonde hair, a attractive wide flat mouth, and light blue eyes. She was beautiful, but when Jeonghan looked up and he saw Joshua gazing at him, he felt he had been taken away to the light side. Earlier Joshua had been messing about, and somehow Jeonghan had got it. Oh, I love you when you're singing that song, yeah, but I got a lump in my throat 'cause you've gone and sang the words wrong. That was what the lyrics had been.


The memory changed from one nearly five years ago to one more recent, the one of Joshua singing with Camille's band at Anobrain.


"You're our best friend, why wouldn't we come?" Seungcheol put to Joshua, his arm wrapped around Lily. Jeonghan looked at Joshua's face and saw the nervousness etched into it along with a kind of irritation and even an intoxication. He looked even a bit angry.


"What if I fuck it up? Of course I wouldn't want you around -" Joshua started, but Jeonghang cut in, wanting to soothe him. Jeonghan didn't want to see him like this; there was too much tonight for anything to go wrong. 


"It's ok, Shua." Jeonghan said to him, making Joshua look at him. In the club, there was nearly no light except for spectrums of red, gold and white colour that illuminated the ceiling and the airspace above the dancing, drinking, kissing, and socializing floor of audience guests and clubbers. Jeonghan's attention was caught by it, and he admired the sheer scale of the modern luxury; it made the bar where Seungcheol worked decidedly more dingy and cheap, not that Jeonghan would say that to him. Jeonghan would recommend him coming to work at Anobrain, thought. Jeonghan caught Joshua staring at him.  All four of them were standing in a alcove ba;cony inside the club eight meters above the audience and the clubbers on the floor below. 


"Jeonghan, it isn't." Joshua said to him. If anything, every little detail of emotion on his face had intensified. Jeonghan wanted to hug him, but all of a sudden Lily was pressed uo against Joshua's body and telling him not to be terrified, her hand running back and forth over his stomach. Bitch, Jeonghan thought. He liked Lily, of course he did, but she just didn't know when to back off. She was Seungcheol's fiancée, for God's sake.


"I'm not terrified." Joshua told Lily.


"Well, you are." Jeonghan fiddled with the hem of Joshua's t-shirt, trying to give Lily the hint to get away from Joshua. Jeonghan could smell Joshua's deoderant and cologne, and the two mixed nicely together. He was in a nice pair of jeans, a fresh shirt, and his feet were bare and his hair was messed up. Jeonghan would have liked it if he could have orhcestrated that. 


Jeonghan looked around as he heard hard footsteps and he was forced to leave Joshua's body be. "Hey." Seungcheol nudged Joshua as the drummer ran up the alcove stairs. 
"It's time." The drummer beckoned for Joshua hurriedly, and Joshua disappeared with him. When he quickly looked over his shoulder, he witnessed Lily blowing him a kiss, Seungcheol giving him the thumbs up, and Jeonghan half-smiling. Below Jeonghan wouldn't mind pouring a coke over Lily's head. Bitch, he thought again. Jealously curled hard and fierce in his body, and it made him feel like an animal. So what? he thought to himself with a sneer. She's got Cheol

Barely any time went by before Joshua was walking onto the stage with Camille and the electric guitarist, who played a soaring rift in welcome. Jeonghan saw Joshua glance down at Camille's lower half; Camille's hips swung from side to side in a very short skirt, high-heeled boots and a red body-suit. Jeonghan's head pounded with the amplifyed audio of the microphone as Camille talked to the crowd and introduced Joshua. Jeonghan's eyes narrowed as he saw Joshua looked at Camille again. 
Jeonghan didn't know anything about the first song that was been played. It sounded alright to him; as the seconds went by, Jeonghan actually really liked it. It began with a instrumental discography consisting of a high-toned sound, like a heartbeat, played by a skinny man on his keyboard. It continued for five seconds before a backing chorus consisting of three men and nine women made a similar toned "aah" to introduce the lyrics of the song. "Walk into your hyper-colour Banksy paradise," Joshua sang out. He suddenly grinned. Jeonghan's heart swelled with a delirious sort of euphoria in his chest at the sound of Joshua's voice and the lyrics. Everything was fine. Everything was absolutely fucking wonderful. Near Joshua on the stage, a synthesized of Camille singing "paradise" echoed in the background and the drums played in a beat. "Raspberry lipstick taste of yours." Camille vocalized an "ooh" string of notes to Joshua's voice. "I get so lost on the light up floor. Would you believe it?" Jeonghan's stomach twisted itself up in a way that wasn't bad at how Joshua sung "Would you believe it?" Jeonghan wanted to hear Joshua to repeat the line over and over again. 


The audience whooped and cheered and danced to where they had swayed only moments ago.


"You don't have to say you love the world," Camille played the electric guitar, sidling close to Joshua; he danced with her as he got through the break before the chorus. "You don't have to say nothing. You don't have to say your past. Darlin'..."


The drummer shouted out, "Alright!" as the backing choir vocalized for the chorus. "Walk through a war-zone for you - just let me hold you. Oh, Darlin'..." Camille made him move and sway. Jeonghan briefly thought she was doing too much; how obvious was she trying to make whatever it was they had - sex interest, relationship, God only knew. "Walk through any death-zone for you - just let me hold you like it's the only thing I'll ever do..."


White noise filtered in and out of Jeonghan's mind in broke pieces as his breath left his chest when Camille kissed Joshua briefly on the mouth. Jeonghan felt his hearing flicker in and out as the audience screamed so loud that his head spun; some of that noise behind him was made stupid Seungcheol and Lily, and Jeonghan could have sworn that Joshua himself looked lightweight on his feet.


"You're a wonder exposed like the Northern Lights...illuminated soul and light over dusk. Would you believe it?" The backing chorus and the band joined in on the last line, the drum-beat halting. Jeonghan decided he was getting his own back; if Lily and Camille could behave like idiots and drape themselves over him like he was some sort of possession of theirs, he could too. 


"You don't have to say you love the world. You don't have to say nothing. I just want you to know that you have been on my mind. Darlin' -"


"You look sexy!" Jeonghan shouted out. His breath caught as he saw Joshua react to it. The next line that Joshua sung, Jeonghan felt his knees go weak.


"Walk through a war-zone for you - just let me hold you..." Joshua ducked his head and gazed up towards the alcove.


"Oh, Darlin'; walk through any death-zone for you - just let me hold you like it's the only thing I'll ever do. Like it's the only thing I'll ever do." Joshua separated the mike from the stand, and swung it by the cord around his body smoothly, not wrapping it around his being. Jeonghan's mouth fell open. Once again internally he was washed clean by the renewed delirious euphoria, and the jealously drowned underwater but nevertheless, it still remained in his system, unable to be filtered out quite yet. There was too much energy, too many people, too much attention and too much lights, and, Jesus fucking Christ, Joshua's voice..."Oh, yeah." Joshua breathed out as the backing chorus behind the band sung over and over again, "Like it's the only thing I'll ever do" as the electric guitarist launched and played his guitar solo that radiated through the air. They all have to have hearing damage, Jeonghan thought of the band.


Jeonghan saw Camille go and whisper something in Joshua's ear. 


"Walk through a war-zone for you - just let me hold you. Oh, Darlin'..." Joshua sunk to his knees on the ground; the audience screamed louder and louder and danced even more wildly on the floor. Jeonghan felt his heartbeat echoing throughout his body. He felt Seungcheol and Lily come up either side of him by the alcove railing. He didn't take his eyes off Joshua for a second. A moment later, some Diety above rewarded him by letting Joshua see him directly. "Oh, Darlin'..." Joshua ran his hand through his hair, still looking at Jeonghan. Jeonghan was suddenly unable to do anything; he had the urge to mouth something that no one else could hear and Joshua wouldn't be able to tell. Joshua could see him, but he wouldn't be able to see his mouth say the words, "I want you". There were too many people around who might see it and think he was an idiot, talking to himself, or just totally drunk; Lily and Seungcheol were too close either side of him. He felt like a prisoner, two guards either side, keeping him in place. As soon as Joshua was finished, and came back up to them, Jeonghan refused to be chained up anymore. "Walk through any death-zone for you - just let me hold you like it's the only thing I'll ever do." On the last line Joshua closed his eyes and rolled his head back on his shoulders. The move single-handedly fucked Jeonghan.


"Walk through a war-zone for you - just let me hold you." The chorus sung in the background and Joshua got back to his feet and danced wildly with Camille and the electric guitarist. "Oh darlin'," Joshua's gaze slunk back up to where he knew them all to be on the alcove. "Oh darlin'. Walk through a war-zone for you - just let me hold you." Camille vocalized again, visibly groping Joshua. Lily whistled out at it. "Oh darlin', just let me hold you like it's the only thing I'll ever do."


Jeonghan came with his eyes closed, hard and bright and a pool of translucent mess in his cupped hand.


To him it didn't matter that Joshua had a girlfriend, anyway. He was he wanted. Everyone's got girlfriend's, anyway.

Chapter Text

The party was been held at Drummer's house. A whole set of rules had been written on a piece of paper and sello-taped to the front door. "Because we're ten floors up in the air, no jumping up and down and general misbehaviour. This means don't act like twats." Joshua had to laugh at the sign. If anything went majorly wrong this evening the security of Seungcheol and Lily's apartment was only ten seconds away via elevator. "Don't pretend you don't want me." Matty's smiling mouth moved against Joshua's temple and his hair, with one arm around his shoulders. Joshua had got three feet inside Drummer's front door and felt like an alien, and suddenly he was enveloped in Matty's cigarette smoke, alcohol scent, deoderant scent, his skin's scent. Joshua was surprised at how much he had missed it, and with the force that realization hit him.  The backs of Matty's fingertips stroked down Joshua's cheek, and Matty's rough and chapped lips pressed a kiss to Joshua's cheek. Matty's nose nudged against Joshua's cheekbone. Joshua thought he had never under-dressed for anything in his life, but he found himself to be wrong. Everything was blue and...ocean-themed. Matty himself was running about with blue eye-shadow on, leather cords, boots, and no shirt, Joshua spotted five women in a array of blue, silver, grey and black dresses - either champagen satin or sequined voile. There was another girl with blue hair, and there was a skinny guy with hair dyed white cuddled up with Camille by the television; she was wearing transparent voile 1950's style underwear with mermaids and starfish embroidered over the fabric. 


"She looks like a fuckin' pillock." Matty remarked, following Joshua's line of sight. Joshua ran his hand voer Matty's chest.


"You're looking well." Joshua couldn't help the tenderness that entwined itself around him, and around Matty as well. Matty had started it, and Joshua had fell into it with no inhibitions. It was lovely. Joshua missed Matty's Welsh-accent. The way his vowels and his words in general sounded like music, Joshua paid more attention to it than anything else. Matty's hair was still wild and crazy, and Joshua gazed for a few moments at Matty's adam's apple in his throat.


"Diolch, cariad." Matty kissed his temple. Matty put a finger under Joshua's chin and lifted his face up to look at him. "Rwy'n du garu di, oh..." Matty groaned softly before his mouth fully covered Joshua's.


"What about Millie?" Joshua said quickly.


"Love, she's bored of you. That's why she's whoring out for twiggy over there." Matty gestured with his head over to where now Camille and this guy that Joshua had never seen before were groping each other. "A ffrind, yn awr, dyma sut y cawn enw drwg." Matty tipped Joshua's chin and slid his nose and forehead against his, before disappearing back into the depths of the party. Joshua had no idea what Matty had just said, but he somehow got it.


He knew Camille's nature, and the things she did; she did what she wanted. But this hit him hard where only the morning before they were having sex in her bed with notebooks and pens and her laptop kicked off the bed by their movement. Suddenly Joshua craved Jeonghan and Kaito and Matty, Lily and Seungcheol and Seong-hun; Min-ho and Hyung-Woo and Fred. Anyone and everyone but her.


Kaito is what he is because of how he was raised, and because of that it now renders him just like that.


Matty's the way he is because  of his past drug use and because he's a widow to a woman whose going to always be at the back of his head


Seungcheol and Jeonghan are my best friends, and Lily coming in the other day and saying she was the woman of the house - her any-day over Camille


Joshua felt a hand on his back, and he turned around to see Synth in a v-necked grey shirt and black hipsters with a new style of glasses; they were a silver horn-rimmed frame.
"Sorry about Millie." Synth said genuinely. "Matty wants to you if you want to come out with the rest of us? Fuck all this." He gestured around. Joshua thought that was the first time he had heard Synth swear.


"I don't want to drink, Synth." Joshua told Synth. Synth shrugged.


"That's alright, but come out with us, eh? Don't get cut up over Millie." Synth implored. "All of us will be there, she won't be."


"Look, I don't want to be a dick, but you're not my friends; you're Millie's." Joshua said. Synth's mouth settled into an unpleasant line. "How I mean it - it doesn't sound like that -"


"Yeah, I get it." Synth rubbed the hair at the back of his head.


"I'm sorry." Joshua apologised awkwardly.

 

---------------------------------

 

Joshua stood outside in the hallway, leaning against the wall. The music steadily got louder, and Joshua didn't think it was fair on any of the neighbours. Joshua ducked his head, and thought quietly about what he was going to do. He went back inside the apartment, having decided he had enough. He found Camille no by herself in the kitchen, re-filling up what was essentially just a fruit bowl full of vodka and bright blue and pink mixers. Joshua thought that would taste disgusting, but when you were drunk, piss was piss.

 

Joshua's hand settled on Camille's arm. He stared hard at her face. "What do you think you're doing?" He said to her.

 

"Rinsing out a bowl, dickhead." She gestured down to the sink before slapping his neck and getting his hand off her. 

 

"What the hell was that earlier? Who was that guy?" Joshua put to her.

 

"I went to school with him. Nice guy. My first kiss. We were catching up."

 

"He had his hand inside your bra."

 

"Everyone here tonight has had their hand inside my bra." Camille grinned. Joshua didn't smile back.

 

"If you want to break up, fine; we break up. But I don't want to be with you and seeing you getting groped and groping other guys." Joshua said. "And don't bring up work; we get paid to do that. We fake it. It's a job. You seeing a guy you went to school with and then messing about with him -"

 

"You and Jeonghan are always touchy." Camille said to him. Her tone was normal, even a bit on the sweet side. Joshua couldn't believe it, but she genuinely wasn't at all disturbed by anything he was saying.

 

"No, don't you dare." Joshua shook his head. "He's my best friend, don't bring him into this."

 

"Min-soo's a good friend of mine too. And, really, what does it matter?" Camille said.

 

"What do you mean it doesn't matter?" Joshua was trying to keep calm; screaming and yelling at women never got anyone anywhere, and Camille was a woman that would shove his head under the kitchen tap and hold it there. "Don't you feel something when you're cheating on me?"

 

"That's rich coming from you bitch." Camille chucked her chin up at him. Joshua saw he had now pushed her buttons. "Matty - what's it with him?"

 

"What are you even saying?" Joshua was now aware how out of his depth he was. He had lost control of the fight. And in doing so, Camille had single-handedly flipped him, and it was no chip off her shoulder.

 

"Everyone in the room can see how drawn you are to him." Camille said softly. Emotions whirled visibly through her like a firestorm, but her eyes were like a Roman statues; cool and pleasant and searching, but at the end of it all, they weren't alive. They felt nothing, even though they were carved as mirrors to human form. "You don't even know what his last name his; you don't know about his Mum and Dad, and yet you're just so -" She crossed her middle and index fingers. 

 

"What's Matty's last name?" Joshua asked. Camille rolled her eyes, her mouth pursed gently.

 

"Taliesen-Tudur." Camille said. "His Mum and Dad both come from hierarchical families. That's why there's the two names. Matty says it sounds weird, it's not a clean simple name, but it's sacred to both his parents." She shrugged, tucking some of her hair behind her ears. "

 

"Matthew Taliesen-Tudur." Joshua echoed. Suddenly, Camille shook her head.

 

"Matty for him isn't short for Matthew - for him it's short for -" She broke off with a scoff. She looked at him darkly. "If you don't like what I do, piss off." She said. She hovered in front of him like a preying animal for a moment, before roughly shoving him in the chest. Joshua was shoved down violently onto the floor, and within an instant Camille was gone. He ran out of the kitchen after her; he followed her into Drummer's bedroom where she threw on a pair of his jeans and a leather jacket.

 

"Camille!" Joshua shouted, and he grabbed at her wrist. "You could have hurt me - why the fuck did you do that?" he gripped on tightly. The next thing he knew, he flew back into the sliding doors of Drummer's wardrobe as Camille king-hit his face. Joshua wasn't able to see, and he knew he had emitted - what had it been? A grunt, a shout, or had he said aloud what he had thought of her at that moment? 

 

Bitch

 

Joshua got up to his feet, before collapsing as his knees went weak a second later. His upper half hit the edge of Drummer's bed, and it made him groan because for some reason his torso was aching and aching and aching. He realized then that when Camille had shoved him over in the kitchen his ribs had clipped the side of a bench going down.

 

"Josh?" He heard Matty's voice, then the murmurs of Synth, Drummer and a woman's voice he didn't recognise. "Josh-man, you alright?"

 

"Me and Camille broke up." Joshua groaned as Matty's arms wrapped around him. A half-glance down at his front had given him the vision of the front of his shirt and jeans covered in blood, along with his thighs, hands and arms. Drummer came into help Joshua to his feet, but his legs went out on him again.

 

"Someone get a flannel." He heard Matty say. "For fuck's sake - Josh? Joshy, come on, what's happening with you?" Joshua blinked drowsily as Matty's fingertips waved in and out of his vision.

 

"Fuck, the bitch concussed him." Drummer growled lowly. "Whose got their car?"

 

"I have." The woman's voice chipped in. "I can only take you lot and then me, otherwise there's no more seats."

 

"Someone get a bucket in case he pukes." Joshua leant into Matty's side, where the Welshman on his own was holding him up. He thought he must have felt like a lead weight on Matty's body.

 

"Hey, mate, you're sick, don't try and get hasty." Matty murmured down to him in English. The language change had Joshua stunned for a moment; he thought Matty's accent was thick when he spoke Korean, but his English was pretty much unintelligible. "Come on, we're going to have to pop down to the hozzy."

 

Synth chuckled. "Matty, he won't understand what that means." He said. "We're taking you down to the A&E." Joshua nodded, showing he understood.

 

"I'm fine, I just need Lily." He mumbled. He tried to talk louder and more firmer, but his head and face was killing him. It made the backs of his eyes burn and a chorus of swear-words played like a melody in the back of his head.

 

"Seungcheol's girl?" Matty checked. Joshua couldn't answer; it was like there was something delaying him. "Wifey?" Matty talked again. This time Joshua managed to nod, before falling down onto his knees and vomiting into the bucket that Drummer had brought in. Joshua heard Drummer swearing and the woman was saying to just call an ambulance, this Lily could come along if she wanted to.

 

----------------------------------

 

Joshua walked down by a river that he didn't know where it was. It didn't seem like Korea anymore. The air was warm, and there was a wind blowing; there was a smoke in the air, and the smoke wasn't strangling and toxic in scent. It was warm and vibrant and reminded him of the illusion you got of watching someone else's childhood playing out on a theatre screen, or it felt like in the depths of night in your deepest sleep, memories running infinite in your head. The feeling and the air was like an epiphany, and Joshua found wherever he was, it wasn't Korea anymore. Around him soared mountains and highlands; there were no ticks or insects in the grass. A rainbow-shaded dragonfly caught his eye as it flew around his head before disappearing into a forest of Oak and Acorn trees that reached blissfully towards the sky. Joshua walked into the forest, to find a world that Korean people watched on theatre screens. Oaks and Acorns grew there so old that there limbs were as thick as human bodies, and their limbs and branches curved and kinked and twisted; they were slung naturally low to the ground, and in a tree every so often Joshua saw carvings in the bark; triple incandesnant swirls, initials, scars of an axe-man's failed work. Soil and the smell of smoke filled up his senses; leaves from ferns and hawthorn and bracken brushed on his thighs and hips and calves as he walked through the foreign wilderness. Beneath one tree there was a dampness, like the rain; the sky overheard was opaline silver, and without a batch of blue. It was beautiful. It was a perfect place, and Joshua wished he knew where it was. Joshua sat down on a patch of grand beneath a tree. His lips parted slightly as he looked up to the branches above him; like decorations of a Christmas tree, hung crystal and other gem-stone material decorations. They were necklaces, crafted on millimeter thick bits of chain and leather strap and even plain string twine. Joshua briefly entertained the thought that he was in the garden of Eden; and as for it's appearance, the scholars of the Testament had got it wrong. It was a Celtic paradise.

Something compelled to stand up after a long time, and his fingers traced along the bark and the leaves as he found a man-made dirt track, only two feet wide, and he walked along it blissful and unhampered until he found a river, where the path further took him to one of the most incredible things he had ever laid eyes on. It was a perfect circular man-made lake carved into granite walls of a cliff side coming down from a huge mountain, steep in the air above him. The water was blue and crystalline, completely pure. Above him the silver luminescence of the sun didn't quite touch the water's surface, making it a even more transcending natural wonder to lay eyes on. Joshua's breath left his chest as suddenly the naked figure of a woman appeared in the lake. Her neck and shoulder with her head rose above the water, and her white skin was nearly stained blue all over for tattoos. She had them all over her face, her neck, and across the visible part of her chest before her breasts, which were still beneath the water.

Joshua felt to move, feeling like a pervert, invading her privacy. He was sure she was completely naked. But something made him stay, and it hit him light and euphorically a moment later. The woman opened her mouth, and came from it a noise that he thought was heaven, but every priest he knew growing up would say was the Antichrist leading him away from God.

"Yr holl bethau rydyn ni'n eu cymryd oherwydd ein bod yn ifanc ac mae cywilydd arnom. Mae'n ein hanfon at leoedd perffaith." The way she swung was a scream and a chant; it was a prayer and it was a plead. It was simultaneously dark and light, flooding Joshua with an energy he couldn't describe; the wild visceral of it. It utterly enraptured him, and he went closer to the water's edge. He sat down on a rough bluestone edge by the water, and dipped his feet in, the water soaking his shoes and feet, plus his jeans. Her arms moved up into the air as she sung, her breasts becoming visible from the water. Between each breast, two gold necklaces, a locket, and a sapphire the size of an egg dangled; her nipples were tattooed bright blue. "Mae ein harwyr i gyd yn pylu ac yn awr ni allaf sefyll ar fy mhen fy hun. Beth am fynd i llefydd perffaith."

 

----------------------

 

Joshua's eyes opened. He found he was laying lengthways on Lily and Seungcheol's couch. He wished he hadn't woken up. He would have liked to be with that dream forever. . He sat up, and stood to his feet. Apart from that, he didn't move for a few moments. He touched his side through his shirt, before pulling up the cloth. His body was tightly-wound and tender, and he saw across his left ribs cotton that felt funny and warm, with wire mesh with a cover of duct tape across it. Joshua traced his fingers over the bump, and figured whoever had sprouted the idea of the hospital - he couldn't remember - it seems it hadn't happened. 


"Hey, honey." Joshua turned his head to see Lily walk into the sitting room in one of Seungcheol's t-shirts, a headband, grey tights, and two mugs of tea. He leant his head down so she could kiss his cheek, and she carefully put the mugs on the coffee table.


"I think I need to get away for a bit." Joshua told her. "This isn't me. I just don't mean a week, or two weeks. I need a long time."


Lily cuddled into the side that was taped up. "And don't start about me being Seungcheol's girl." She warned him. "I think you're right. Hey, love, Cheol and me have decided to put the wedding off a bit. We want you and Hannie to be part of the day, and we can see how messed up everything is for you two right now."


"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wreck you and Seungcheol's wedding. It's really selfish."


"It's alright, love."


Joshua looked down to the crowd, but he glanced up at Lily for a moment, searching her.


"Don't worry." She said softly. "I'll look after Jeonghan. Don't think he wants to look after him, but I will, whether he likes it or lumps it."


Joshua smiled. He couldn't help it. "Where does your personality come from?" he asked her.

 

"When I was young I used to do a very silly thing. I did it until the point - I was still doing it when I met you and Jeonghan." Lily said to him. "I used to hide my personality under the stairs so nobody could steal it."


Joshua went to laugh, but a astronomical pain went through his side. He gasped out, and next thing Lily was shushing him and talking to him. Each heartbeat echoed the thud, and for the next few breaths his ribs twinged. "It's just the bruising, love." She explained. "You're skinny; you get hurt easy."


"Tell me about that. The story?" Joshua rolled onto his side, half-lying against the couch with his legs tucked up. Lily's nose twitched slightly as she smiled.


"There was a woman teacher at my school. She was huge and fat; she had two chins and not much of a jaw with bob-cut hair and each of her breasts was the width of a k-pop girl's torso. But I loved her; she was so funny and she had this wonderful positivity and happiness. I wanted to be like her. Everyone saw her as this fat thing with a fringe, but I loved her. When I was fifteen and getting my bra straps twanged by the boys and the girls were been bitches, I used to have lunch with her nearly every day. Everyone said I was a lesbian. Then, one day, this huge but not fat - more Englishly curvy and round - lady with waist-length straight hair walks into school in a beautifully tailored wool skirt and a cashmere top. She got up at the front of the class, told them she was resigning so they wouldn't have to suffer her company anymore, and then announced that she thought they were all rich, good-for-nothing, Asian-ugly, anorexic cunts." Lily beamed. Her eyes were wet. "I love her so much. From the first second I saw her I thought, "I'll be exactly like her". I grew up with her, she was like a Mum and a Aunt and a best friend. This is me, and she inspired it."
"I wish you had a sister."


"If I had a sister I think she would be quite introverted and prudish."


"You once said what a beautiful thing it is when a introvert gets adopted by an extrovert." Joshua mused.


"Yeah?"


"Hm."


"Give us a kiss, come on." Lily angled her head up, and for Joshua there was no reason but to do it.


 It was harmless, it was sweet. Suddenly, I felt better than he had in months, like she had washed me clean. The first time I heard Kaito's folk music felt like that. Sure there are the good moments - Seong-hun and Fred, mostly - the electrifying ones - Camille and the band, Dong-hyun the other week with his fireworks - and then there are the things to look forward too. Counting down the days until the Spring and Summer was over and Kaito came back to Korea from Japan, Lily and Seungcheol's wedding. What does Lily's dress actually look like? The groom and Jeonghan knows, but I don't. 


Isn't that funny?


"Just a little one." Lily murmured, her whole being glowing gently up at him.

Chapter Text

Kaito's temple home is high up in the mountains that you get a plane to Tokyo, five seperate trains and a ferry to the mountains, then you can only get so far in a local coach before you get dumped off at the edge of a forest, where you're then collected by a old, old man with nearly all of his teeth missing in a threadbare beanie and calico trousers with a blanket over his knees.


This was my experience, anyway.


When I saw Kaito it was like he had come from gold. He was soaking wet, and his hair as plastered back over his scalp. For a second I looked at him and the tiredness from the trip got me; where his sopping wet sweater clung to him, I saw waves sweeping over his chest, and smoke appear from his nose.


But the smoke was actually smoke. He was smoking something herbal - not marijuana - rolled up in a section of newspaper. I didn't think him smoking in ink would be a good idea. I told him this. He just laughed.


Kaito was blue. His sweater was blue, his trousers were blue, his fingertips and lips looked blue.


"Oh my God, you're goanna meet my Mum!" Kaito said to him in Korean, holding his hand as they walked down over a smooth black pebbled shore by a lake that Kaito had led them down to via a mile and a half walk. Kaito suddenly halted their pace, and pulled Joshua back. Suddenly, Kaito looked as young as he actually was.


"Shinto up here isn't like Shinto down in Tokyo and Osaka." Kaito said lowly. "In the cities it gets controlled and kept an eye on by the governments and councils. Up here, nobody knows. We're wild. Mum's not just a Miko; she's the head child of the bear God that looks after all of us. Even if she irritates you, please don't fight with her. There's eight villages of men who have samurai and forest-hunter genetics."


Joshua couldn't help but smile. Kaito looked deeply affronted. Kaito poked his chest.


"No, man, listen to me." He said seriously. "We've got skins from English traders from the 1930's in the attic."


Joshua stared at him. "I'm sorry, what?"


"Tea traders tried to purchase my great-great grandmother for sex. My great-great grandfather carved them up."


"I thought Shinto was peaceful."


"Look at what Japanese people did only seventy years ago." Something hallowed and cold and transcending came over Kaito. Joshua went still. "We mutilated pregnant Korean women and stamped on the un-born foetus - and for what purpose? We were monsters. We are monsters." Kaito gazed at Joshua. "Don't get like that." Kaito took Joshua's hand and clasped the tip of his index finger in-between his teeth. "I know how weird you can get, but I've got to tell you because you just don't get it and to you it's funny but I know better." Kaito moved in close to Joshua full-frontally and moved even close, making Joshua walk back across the black pebbles. Joshua went to voice about how he was nearly in the water, but then he realized that Kaito was doing it on purpose. Suddenly, Kaito chucked his chin, and he and Joshua's noses and mouths brushed hard and quick just as Joshua took the first steps into the water. With the tension so tight and heavy around them, Joshua didn't want to move but he had to turn around so he could see where he was going in the water. The water was cold and a new sensation to him; he couldn't remember the last time it was he went swimming as the water lapped at the top of his thighs and then his hips. He then remembered Kaito's 18th birthday sex in his Father's Seoul condominium swimming pool, and he grinned. Round two, eh?
Joshua turned around and grabbed Kaito when the water came up to their chests. Joshua tried to crush their mouths together, but Kaito lifted his mouth above Joshua's, teasing him.


"Kaito...!" Joshua protested, his hands gripping at the crook of Kaito's shoulder and neck and the other hand gripping the back of his neck, trying to pull down. Kaito let out a tiny, playful growl, the water deep enough for him to float and make he and Joshua's bodies swim. Suddenly, the younger man gave in; his hands swept up Joshua's neck and clasped tight just beneath his jaw, and Kaito kissed him. Kaito's tongue ran over Joshua's teeth and his lips, biting at them with enough sting to make Joshua gasp and loose his footing on the lake-bed beneath them just as his hands went up Kaito's side beneath his shirt. As he and Kaito fell beneath the water's surface, Kaito held Joshua down beneath the water and took off his shirt. Joshua kept his eyes shut and tried not to breathe in the water as he felt oxygenated bubbles from Kaito's mouth and nose blow out against his neck. Joshua had no sense really in the enviroment, but the feeling was indescribable when Kaito drww him back up to the surface. The younger man's hands pressed to the small and the top of his back, pressing their bodies together; Joshua felt Kaito's legs kick as they swam, his thighs moving in-between Joshua's. As they broke the surface, fresh air flooded Joshua's senses and the air seemed cold on his face even though the water was cold, too; Kaito kissed his neck and one of his hands slipped down Joshua's back into his jeans, groping him in a way that Kaito's nails bit sharply into his flesh. All of Kaito's clothes were on the bottom of the lake, along with Joshua's shirt, shoes, and socks. They had moved five feet deeper into the water than they previously had been. 


Kaito ran his mouth over Joshua's shoulder, exhaling hot air from his nose onto Joshua's neck. As they clumsily treaded the water, not always making it, Kaito undid Joshua's jeans with one hand, and hooked them off Joshua's waist with one of his toes, bringing his leg up one side of Joshua's hip.


"Come with me." Kaito said again Joshua's mouth. Joshua had tried to wrap his hand through Kaito's hair to help them both stay afloat as they both treaded the water, but that turned into a mishap that had them both pulled underwater. "Swim a bit with me; I need to press you up against something." Kaito said after he had finished snorting water out from his sinuses, his trail of thought otherwise unbroken.


Joshua swam along the surface of the water while Kaito deeply dived beneath the surface; they swam less than a hundred meters towards granite mountain rock, where roots as thick as people's arms curved and grew down to the water and it's life-giving properties. All of a sudden, Kaito appeared in the water behind him, close enough that Kaito's chest touched Joshua's back.


"Hold onto the roots; back to the stone." Kaito ordered Joshua quietly. Joshua let him take control; he was too high for words. Maybe he had water on the surface of his brain and he was sure there was some down in his lungs, his sinuses were burnt and dry inside his throat and head from the contact. This was an environment he had dreamt about, almost fetishising it, but in the real life this was Kaito's domain, and it was no fetish. For Kaito it was undisturbed naturalism.


As Joshua's hands crept around the roots above him, leaves from the tree's canopies above rained down onto them, three or four, then five and then eight leaves, bright azure green from the Summer. Joshua's eyes closed as Kaito's tongue slipped into his mouth and he felt the muscles in his neck, shoulders and back pull from trying to maintain gravity in the gravitiless environment with Kaito's body pressing him into the granite rock-face.


Kaito drew Joshua's thighs up to lock around his hips, and Joshua threw his head back with a gasp as Kaito with no sense of consequence at all shoved two of his fingers fully inside him. Joshua squirmed against Kaito at the penetration, but as he felt Kaito working him he purposely didn't think about what Kaito was doing. It didn't hurt, and he felt himself slick, and he didn't want to think what Kaito was using to lubricate him beneath the water's surface. 

 

 "I've missed you." Kaito's mouth moved against Joshua's neck. Joshua didn't elaborate on it. They didn't do sentimentality, not in moments like this. Kaito was never very sentimental; most sentimentality - and their subjects - he found revolting.

 

"I missed not been scared every morning when I'd wake up and see you hanging upside down off the roof having a cigarette." Joshua chuckled, looking up half to the sky, and half into Kaito's freshly soaking wet hair. Joshua inhaled the scent of it - there was no perfume. Just clean, fresh natural smell. 

 

"Make you brave, huh?" Kaito's wet chest slid against Joshua's as he pressed his fingertips into the granite stone-face behind Joshua's body where he was pressed up against it and began to move into him. The water moved and splashed about them as the sounds of their wet skin slapping against each other echoed out. "Watashiha anata ni watashiwo aoku nutte hoshii." Kaito murmured against Joshua's temple in Japanese.

 

I want you to colour me blue


Joshua unwrapped one of his hands from the tree root above his head that smothered the space around he and Kaito and entwined his fingers roughly into Kaito's hair, kissing him deeply, feeling as though the two of them were the only people in the world.

 

---------------------------------

 

Joshua nearly pissed himself laughing on the lake's shore as Kaito spent nearly twenty minutes diving stark naked for he and Joshua's clothes and shoes.


"Kamisama!" Kaito yelled out. In one hand he had the remaining bits of Joshua's clothes; his jeans. "Your phone wasn't in there, right?!" He hollered the question. Joshua shook his head.


Kaito came up to the shore-line, and laid down with Joshua on the smooth black pebbles. The sun had warmed them up, but there was a cloud cover over everything that had appeared without Joshua noticing all that much.


"How does it feel when I'm not there?" Kaito asked. Joshua knew he didn't mean it quite like that; he meant, "How is life when I'm not there?"


"Chaotic." Joshua said. "I had a funny dream three or four weeks ago." Joshua found himself telling Kaito. "I don't know exactly where it was; it looked like Europe, but then it didn't; I don't know where it was. It didn't look like anywhere I've been before - Denmark, Italy, Greece, France. It felt like Heaven, just wandering through - that's what I was doing. I was just walking through his forest and suddenly I come to this lake and there was a woman with no clothes on at all singing and swimming and chanting in the water but it was natural as her talking, you know what I mean? Her mouth moved like she was talking, but she had this big sound coming out. She was covered in bright blue tattoos and she was speaking in a language that I don't know. It wasn't a dream language, or a made up one...it was just a bit weird."


Kaito smiled broadly. "Sounds like an epiphany." He said.


"I've tried having a girlfriend for a bit." Joshua told him as well. "She's fucking awful."


"Maybe that other girl is the one you should love. The one you dreamed about." Kaito touched Joshua's chest. "You're the one you should love."


"Gets kinda lonely after a while, though?" Joshua covered Kaito's hand with his own, gazing into his eyes and Kaito's smile which still lingered, even though it was much softer. Joshua told Kaito about he and Camille's fight at the party everyone had had for Matty coming back to Korea from Wales.


"What would you have done?" Joshua asked Kaito.


"I would have hit her." Kaito told Joshua honestly. Joshua took the revelation quietly, and once upon a time a part of him would have been ashamed because of the condolence he took from Kaito's words.


But there it was. That little feeling suddenly like a blackbird behind his lungs.


"Do you remember what the girl was singing?" Kaito asked him.


"It's all twisted up and faint and a mess." Joshua answered. "It's a language I don't know and can't say; it was all vowels and nouns blended together - it sounded like music and it sounds like animals, how they used to sing and talk before instruments and pop music were invented." Joshua smiled with Kaito, genuinely trying to think back and remember.
"Holl bethau..." Joshua faltered, the words that were not like words but merely half-made animalistic sounds heavy and unfamiliar in his mouth. "Mae ein hawryr gyd..." He tried more, but it came out even stranger. He ducked his head but Kaito murmured to him that he did a good job, considering it was a dream.

 

Afterwards, Kaito held Joshua's hand as they walked all the way back to the Shrine temple. Along the way, Kaito stopped and plucked Shirane-Aoi blossoms which were wide open and constrctued like that of a English pansy, except with one solid colour which was the softest shade of lilac. He gathered some of the flowers in a bouquet with Japanese pine stems and other wildflowers.


"Give this to Mum." Kaito told Joshua. "It's not a Shinto thing, it's just a common decency thing."

 

--------------------------------------

 

Whatever it was I had expected of Kaito's Mum...honestly, what did I expect? I had two ideas. The first was a warm, middle-aged, soft-faced, spiritual woman with the traditional Miko attire of the red Hakame - a pair of long divided trousers of a long skirt tied with a bow -  and the white Kosode - a type of kimono robe - with some red or white hair ribbons.  The second version of Kaito's Mum I expected was a thick-boned, ethnically beautiful woman in the full white-lead faced make-up with the thick short black eyebrows and black teeth, in a barely done up rough silk or satin kimono. It sounds dumb, but Kaito described her as a vicious and violent woman who controlled the region and did a lot of illegal cult-like practices in the eyes of the government's view to modern Shintoism; she talks to wolves and birds and bears and takes no behaviour of poachers. 

Just goes to show my imagination, I suppose.

The only things I got right were her face and her hair. Her hair was genuinely so long that it trailed a foot on the ground as she moved, and her face - it made me wonder why Kaito looked the way he did. His Father had a very average slim-faced Korean appearance, but Kaito's Mother's eyes were slits with a wide flat nose, a thick mouth, and cheekbones that looked like those of a African woman.

She was beautiful though. Despite all of it, she was beautiful. She was in her mid-forties with the beginning of lines like a cave either side of her mouth. She came out to the main part of the Shrine in a embroidered oat-meal coloured silk kimono and a floor-length calico petticoat underneath. I would say it's leisure wear; I don't really know about Shinto Miko's. Kaito didn't make a comment about it apart from when he said to me in Korean, "As you can see, Mum's more Shaman than Shrine Maiden." Her skin was a rich latte colour.


I don't know her name; she won't say and neither will Kaito. I'm literally just calling her Miko. The first night was..interesting, to say the least.


I make it sound like it was a bad thing, but, honestly, it wasn't. I was just too out of my depth in a foreign country. I thought Kaito was wild in Korea; nothing compared to how he was at home with his Mum and the rest of her family. At the dinner Miko's Father, Uncles, and, amazingly, a nearly century-old Grandfather appeared. I had this sense I was on uncertain ground with Miko. Turns out I was right and I was wrong.


It wasn't uncertain ground. It was volcanic


"We're going to light up a bonfire, so make sure you don't get clothes that will make you hot." Kaito told Joshua as he changed from the now cold and damp clothes in Kaito's bedroom. The Shrine been roughly 3,700 square feet, which gave room for Kaito and his Mother to live comfortably in the temple. At the very back of the temple were floating stairs that creaked alarmingly if you walked up them; Kaito had warned Joshua not to jog, and no more than one person was to go up the stairs at a time. "The wood is four centuries old." Kaito had said by way of explanation. "She's an old lady; you must forgive her." Kaito and Miko's living space was essentially up in the roof, but it had the layout of a little English cottage; a square kitchen, a railway hallway with sliding doors leading off to rooms and open spaces, a rectangular bathroom with a wooden ofuro tub. Kaito said that from past experience, he and his Mother had worked out that you could fit thirty-five people on the left side of railway hallway to sleep on their mats on the tatami floors. Kaito's head tipped to the side slightly as he saw Joshua hesitate over shirts, pulling them free of his suitcase. Joshua looked up.


"It's all your fault." Joshua told him, gesturing to his throat, neck, chest, ribs, shoulders, behind his ears and a very tiny gesture down south of his abdomen. The granite had left scrapes and marks on Joshua's back; some blood had come from a cut on Joshua's shoulder-blade earlier. Even though it was inappropriate, Joshua couldn't help the erection that came up as Kaito, without any fuss, pressed his tongue to the cut, taking away the blood.


"Healing properties. Wolf spit works good as well." Kaito said to him not long before Joshua had to get changed for the dinner. The two of them were laying together on Kaito's bedroom floor, and Joshua was horrified as he realized Kaito's mouth had only been about thirty feet away in the kitchen just down the railway hallway. He and Kaito had not been quiet; God, they had not being quiet. Joshua had the inclination to in the beginning, but as Kaito's fingers pulled his hair, the younger man whispered to him that his Mother was out in the forest doing rituals with the bears. She wouldn't be back for ages. But - unbeknownst to Joshua - with the whole family coming around it meant that she had a lot of cooking to do, which meant a extensive preparation time.


"Shit." Joshua whispered to Kaito. His chest lurched as Kaito smiled adoringly down at him.


"It's ok." He said simply.


"No, it's fucking not!" Joshua continued to whisper, purposely keeping his tone. "If this were my own Mother's house - shit, God no!" he faltered for a few moments. "I can't go out and apologise to her about...even though I -" He left it at that as Kaito got a rather bored expression on his face and asked him if he understood where he was now.
"Part of my Mother's job is going into trances and blocking out the world, talking to the God's." Kaito said. "She wouldn't have listened it to us like the radio, don't be weird."


"Weird?" Joshua echoed. "Weird?!" He hit Kaito's shoulder. "Idiot!"


"Careful, you know violence turns me on." Kaito said, and without even been personally aware of it, Joshua's body moved over Kaito's, their stomach's, chests, and crotches pressed together with their legs wound together as they kissed lazily.


Miko looked like her Father. Miko's Uncles looked nothing like her Father. Miko's Grandfather - Kaito's Great-Grandfather - looked nothing like his children and Miko and Kaito. Miko kept staring at me. So did her Father and her Grandfather. I thought it was because I was Korean. 


"Don't bow to them. To Mum, yeah, but only in her capacity as Miko. She'll think your weak if you do it to my Uncles and Grandfather. She's got a funny way of thinking." Kaito murmured, holding Joshua's hand as they walked up the dirt track through the field to where the family was gathered. Joshua saw Grandfather's lip curl obviously; they were all sitting in English chairs at a English table in the field.


One of the brothers and the Grandfather was complaining to Miko about something as we arrived; I could tell from the second I came into their line of sight that I was as good as shit. The look that came into Kaito's Grandfather's eyes - you've never seen anything like that. Kaito said his Uncle was insisting to his Mother even though the weather was indeed a fortune from the God's, why did they have to be outside when they could be inside away from the flip insects, mosquitoes, and general insect life? I didn't realise that not all of the family was like Kaito and Miko.


"Mum's gone all out on her special food." Kaito told Joshua. "This will be great." Kaito leant his head against Joshua's shoulder, and warmly had a conversation with one of his Uncles at the south end of the table in Japanese. Joshua introduced himself; this Uncle had a unshaven face but it wasn't messy. He had broad shoulders and a round stomach with a soft chest, but his five foot nine height carried it well enough that it didn't look like obesity. He just looked as he was; a man in his early fifties. He was the oldest of the Uncles, according to Kaito. There were three in total; one ran a cotton mill, one was a carpenter, and one was a Doctor of neurological health.


"We always thought if Grandfather got Alzheimer's or dementia, Uncle could get the horse tranquilizers to snuff him out on the sly." Kaito whispered to Joshua. Even though it was appalling what Kaito had said, Joshua couldn't help but laugh. All the men must have figured Kaito said something unconventional by the expression on Joshua's face; it made them stare at him harder.


"What did you do when you were young?" Joshua asked the Grandfather. He had done six hours of Japanese language study on the trip from Seoul. He knew his way around Japanese, but he had needed to get it under his wing again.


"I was in the Army." The man replied; his tone was dulcet, but the wholesomeness didn't reach his eyes which were like thunderstorms before they broke.


"Yeah, that's right, you cunt." Kaito suddenly said, slamming a mug down onto the table.


I worked it out quick enough; considering the age Grandfather was and his occupation been Army...initially I didn't feel anything. I just blinked and breathed and I was normal. Then I realized what I sitting opposite from.


The second world war wasn't that long ago; seventy years is nothing when you find yourself sitted directly across from a commander. There's nothing the American's are more proud of than the atomic bomb they dropped on Hiroshima. At school, you get taught all about that bomb and how it oblierated because of a default; the bomb exploded 5,000 feet above the ground, instead of exploding upon impact with land. You never think you'd find yourself sitting across a table from a definite rapist, torturer, murdurer and survivor of the Hiroshima bomb. 


"Be very careful of how you behave for the rest of the night." Kaito said. The old man seethed; thirty years younger and Joshua was sure that the man might have still had it in him to deck Kaito. Joshua saw Kaito's Uncles watching him cautiously; their nephew was so like their sister. 


"There isn't a person in Korea or Germany who doesn't have this." Kaito said aloud, picking up a knife and threading it through his fingers with such effortless skill that he didn't have to look at what he was doing. Joshua tried to get him to put it down, but he recoiled as Kaito tapped the underside of his wrist with the blunt edge and stared at him. "My grandfather wasn't a Nazi  or Imperial Japanese Army-man, they say. Bullshit. Look at this way - Hitler gets up to make a speech." Kaito smiled nastily. "The NAZI party expects 300,000 people to turn up. 3,000,000 people turn up with babies in baskets and swastika flags to cheer for their "God". It takes more than seventy years to...you know." Kaito gestured about. "Especially when the filth themselves still live." Kaito pointed the knife to the round-shouldered Grandfather in front of Joshua. "He won't die. The radiation from Hiroshima made him immortal. No cancer, diabetes, illness; no Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. Albert Einstein in actual fact made an all-round vaccine."


"Einstein didn't do that; he just did maths." Joshua said, shoving his hands into his pockets, hunching in the chair. He couldn't believe this was real; it was too much to deal with. Kaito turned around and looked at him. 


"Don't believe me?" He inquired silk-toned. "Ask Grandfather. He knows. Top military commander; only reason he wasn't executed by the British and the ANZAC's was because he let them cut out one of his kidneys and he gave them papers for several hundred war crimes."


I didn't want to be near him, and suddenly Kaito and Miko didn't want me near him. At that point I didn't want Kaito or Miko either; I just wanted to go home to my own bed, Lily ranting on the phone, Seungcheol watching the football, and Jeonghan himself even now starting to get on my case about the hole in the bathroom wall. Miko kept glancing at me; she wasn't watching me anymore, but her attention was that of a parent checking their baby in a pram. Are they ok? 


"We don't need to do this." The cotton-mill Uncle said. "Kaito, you're scaring you're friend."


"Filthy queers." Grandfather sneered. "In my day you two would have been galvanized until you're testicles were blue - or, his case -" Grandfather pointed a rheumatic finger at Joshua. "Vagina." He leered, before he spat onto the table. It was the straw the broke the camel's back. Kaito had been seething, but it was a mood that Joshua could have coaxed him away from. But not now. 


"He didn't need to kill thirty-five people plus eight women but he did." Kaito snarled, attacking his Uncle for the defense of Grandfather.


All of a sudden, Miko screamed in a way that made all of them loose feeling in their bodies and clapped their hands over their ears. The pitch and the tenacity of the scream tortured them as Miko made it go on and on and on. "You're child - our Father - died a demon because of you!" Miko howled at the old man. Joshua watched on in horror as Kaito's hands clutched at him as the old man tipped his head back happily and laughed like he was at a comedy at the theatre. "The first-born child of you! YOU!"
Suddenly, Joshua was running away with Kaito across the field.

 

--------------------------------

 

"I can't believe you made me do that." Kaito looked hollow-eyed at his Mother. He was hollow inside.


"If he can bear this, then you can ask for him." Miko told him. 


"You said we wouldn't lie. You promised to the Gods." Kaito inhaled deeply, looking up at the ceiling of the shrine. Above them Joshua was sleeping in a little section of room that was allocated as Kaito's personal space. Kaito worried about him. Why did his family have to be like this? Joshua could handle it. He had been a escort for nearly five years.

He was tough. 


"You know what your Grandfather did. This is true." His Mother said, mistaking the meaning of his words.


Kaito chuckled, soft and bitter. "This is traumatic to people like Joshua."


"Why were you crying then, child of mine?" Miko said to him. Kaito looked down at the ground. He had a small amount of shame for that; it came from great parts of shame. Bring up the family history, made even worse when the family history was still shuffling about in his leather shoes and walking stick.


"This test of our relationship...you've no idea what it was for Joshua to have to - look how you acted! You lost it half-way through and actually lost your shit with Grandfather!"
"I have to know that he can actually handle it." Miko insisted firmly. "I raise you - your Uncles raise you - so you are not like other people; you are special, you are a better man. Joshua may be a good man, but he never comes close to us. You take over me when I die, Kaito. Joshua does not realize this."


"Mum...." Kaito hesitated, a new lump in it's throat. It's not going to be forever, hung caught up in his chest. "Mum, I love him - he's cool - but, you know, it's -"


Miko gazed at him. "Joshua should. That's all there is. He should."


"Well, you've absolutely terrified him now. You and Grandfather." Kaito sighed. "Your Father - first Grandfather - he would have killed you for doing this."


"He would have tested Joshua too."


"Mum, he would have taken him out for a walk, taken a few strips off him, yeah, probably. He would have eased Joshua into it - but, Mum, we're not getting fucking married!"


"Then why is he here?"


A rock settled in Kaito's chest and stomach. "Kamisama..." He said faintly. "Joshua came over to visit me. To see me. As a friend...oh, Mum, what the fuck have you done?"


"He must love you to come and visit you." Miko blinked.


"Mum, he's not of our world!" Kaito found himself shouting. "You're insane! You know what - I can't believe you! Don't you remember Dad - my Dad? Foreign, insurance broker, normal, Korean Dad? How can you have no sense and be so fucking obsessed with all this that the moment -" Kaito scoffed, pushing his hair back over his scalp. "Thanks, Mum. Literally, thanks a lot. You've fucked everything."


"Everything is fucked the moment I find out I am going to have you." Miko suddenly said. "This boy blinds you then if what you say is right and I am so wrong."


"Guys?" Kaito caught his Mother suddenly glaring at Joshua as he came into the shrine, in a shirt and a pair of pyjama pants. Kaito looked between his Mother and Joshua.


"I can explain everything." Kaito said to Joshua in Korean. "But, firstly, Mum has something to say to you." He held up his hand in a gesture towards Miko.


"I can't believe you're even here." Miko said in Japanese, instead of apologising in Korean, and she left the Shrine altogether, taking a lantern with her that hung by the front door as Kaito swore foully and waved his fist in the air after her.


"You Christians are right; Pagans and Shinto's are fucking psychopaths." Kaito eventually settled on matter-of-factly, his hands on his hips.


Kaito told me what happened. Little wonder then that he had given me the commando lecture than threatened the stab everyone. Kaito said one line that I can't stop thinking about.


"This is how we get notorious."


I get that, even though everything here gets me like...it's freaky. There's a hundred different synonyms to that. Absurd is a good word for it too. I asked Kaito about his Great-Grandfather.


"Mum believes we're cursed because of him." Kaito said to Joshua. They were sitting on the roof of the shrine; Kaito was smoking and Joshua could clearly see how numb he was. Kaito kept apologising over and over again. Nothing Kaito said, did or explained to him was worthy enough for Joshua, even though the other man did his best to try and get it through to Kaito. "If we push him away, he doesn't repent or regard the lives he hurt and took away, therefore the God's are not happy. I tell her the God's should be able to see - they should know - but she just howls about how her Dad had to be the sacrifice for what Grandfather did. If we could not talk about it, kept it locked up inside. But Grandfather boasts. He actually boasts of what he did."


"What happened to your Mum's Dad?" Joshua asked.


"Six tumors on the surface of his brain." Kaito replied simply. "That's why Mum and my Uncles see it as something abnormal and scary. It wasn't just a brain cancer or any cancer or any other sickness. It was six fucking tumors on the surface of his brain." Kaito breathed out a huge lungful of smoke that he had held in his organs for a long time. "My Great-Grandmother was convinced the old man had radiated sperm or something; that was her reason for his brain cancer. But, then, none of my Uncles have a problem so that's why everyone's convinced it was a one generation thing."


"When did he die then?" Joshua questioned.


"Twenty-five. My uncles were born when he was fifteen, seventeen, twenty and then twenty-two." Kaito explained. Joshua kept quiet.


"So all of this was a purposeful act to see if I had any balls?" Joshua mused aloud. Kaito gave a small nod. Joshua put his arm around him.


"It's not your fault, aisidu." Joshua said to him. "It's not your fault." He pressed his nose against Kaito's cheek. "Are they all staying at the Shrine tonight?"


Kaito nodded. He glanced at Joshua. "I don't always sleep inside." Kaito told him. "A lot of the time I sleep outside, or I sleep on the pier at the lake. You alright to try that?"

Chapter Text

Joshua had waited outside while more yelling came from inside the Shrine, and only a few minutes later Kaito appeared with a wooden crate with blankets in it and a gorgeous, worked-iron lantern with a fire burning bright inside connected to the end of long walnut-wood pole balance on his shoulder. 


"Uncle's are pissed off with Mum for virtually spitting on first Grandfather's meeting, and everyone's upset about second Grandfather whose been ranting for ages about the war." Kaito said by way of explanation. His eyes went wide with fright and the sickened aura that enveloped Joshua. "No, no, I'm sorry..." Kaito's hand reached out for Joshua's.


"Just tell me - all you hate him, right?" Joshua said. He saw Kaito's chest implode, and took that as his answer. He took Kaito's hand.


"You're so cool." Kaito said to Joshua. All of a sudden, Joshua had Matty's voice singing in his head with Synth's soft discography with the animalistic noises and the voice overlap and the soft-focus British honesty that made the listeners at the gig smile and glow and cry. 


"It wasn't that bad." Joshua found himself saying. "The only personal thing was your Great-Grandfather saying I had a vagina and saying about conversion therapy and all your Uncles getting a look at me."


"Poor guy." Kaito said. "Step from one bit of chaos to another. Don't you ever want it to stop?"


"I'm a prostitute. This is all the stuff that comes with it; it's either this, or drug and alcohol addiction. I'm fine with this. You can control it." Joshua said. "I just want to sleep."


For everything that went crazy and mental, I still felt this magic. This sort of epiphany.


They settled down on the wooden peir at the South end of the lake; the bed below them was two thicker blankets, and the two men had a light one over the top of them. Joshua lay on his back, and tipped on of her legs over the side of the peir; his toes just entered the water. As a wind blew as he and Kaito talked, the water's unsteadiness created dampness up his foot and at one point, even reaching his ankle a few times. Kaito gazed up at the sky with a series of emotions that Joshua could pick like fruit from a tree; disappointment, guard, anxiety, tenderness, acknowledgement, separate understanding.


"The God's aren't pleased." Kaito said of the sky and the wind and choppy water of the lake. "They command a sacrifice, but not yet..."


"What do you give to them?" Joshua asked.


"Honesty, mainly. Wholesomeness. Hope for us to be organic and proud and happy. But all we do is destroy our planet and make our children suffer and convince them that everything is real even though everything is fake. It's alright for people our age to prtoest and do all of this rubbish, but they don't get it won't be long until our parents are dead and then we are in power, and what will happen? We'll do the same as our parents. It's bullshit, all of it. And this is Japan. Since when are we honest and wholesome and kind to our children?" Kaito responded.


"You know the weirdest thing?" Joshua tipped onto his side, resting his head on his arm. "I've got all of that song. The one I dreamed about. I can hear it in my head but I just can't say it."

 

---------------------------

 

Kaito's cotton-mill Uncle came looking for them with a woven basket full of food. Joshua was sitting on the edge of the peir, texting Jeonghan on his phone while Kaito dived for rocks from the lake's floor. Kaito had said something about smoking the stones and carving them, but Joshua didn't get it. Before he could say anything, Kaito kept disappearing back under the water. Joshua greeted the cotton-mill Uncle as he walked up the peir, and gestured down to the basket. The cotton-mill Uncle apologised in Japanese, and then reeled off a series of sentences that Joshua didn't understand.


"Kaito?" Cotton-mill Uncle said hopefully down to the water. Neither he or Joshua could see Kaito's figure. The morning was lukewarm and glassy, and so the only image that water gave was that of the sky and the trees and birds that flew through the air. Joshua wondered what the hell Kaito was doing when the cotton-mill Uncle was there after five minutes of having called down to him in the water. No one could hold their breath for that long, not even Kaito. Eventually, the cotton-mill Uncle gave up, and patted Joshua's shoulder before walking away. Joshua timed Kaito on his phone; even after the cotton-mill uncle was a speckle in the distance, it was a minute and forty seconds before Kaito re-surfaced as elegantly as a mermaid.


"He wanted to know if I told my Dad about what Mum did." Kaito said to Joshua.


"Where were you?"


"Under the wood." Kaito pointed to the pier. "Grown men shouldn't hide, but this is an exception."


Joshua suddenly burst out laughing. He couldn't help it. Came to Japan for a holiday, and look what I got! He thought to himself. Joshua found it coming naturally to him; as naturally as how Kaito's black hair floating in the water as he dived once more.


Be cool. Be proud. Don't give a fuck. Keep in control and work it. Everyone's just an idiot

 

---------------------------

 

At the beginning of a little road that was like a driveway to the Shrine, and the start of the private acsess was a sixteen-foot high totem poll, carved with the faces of bears and mountain and water spirits. Kaito told Joshua all about them, but Joshua couldn't remember most of it later on. While Kaito had spoke to him, Joshua's eyes had been captured by thick, beautifully-scented smoke rising in slim plumes into the air. Kaito didn't give him a direct explanation, but from the little he did say, Joshua worked out that Miko was performing a ritual in the caves with the villagers of the closest community. Joshua thought that there was something uncharacteristic about Kaito, and after a few hours he got it. He wasn't as touchy, and not as intimate. Yesterday when they had been walking up to the Shrine with the bouquet of flowers and pine in hand, for the sheer sake of it Kaito had shoved Joshua up against a tree and kissed him to within an inch of his life. If this was Kaito doing his best to give him space and normality, Joshua didn't want it. Joshua put his hand into a pocket of Kaito's trousers; when he was at home, Kaito wore quite loose, organic fibre clothes; loose trousers and pants. Joshua had a feeling that Kaito might wear a *male kimono* sometimes, but Joshua didn't think that Kaito would let him have the sight. Maybe he thought it was too much like putting on a dress. In Korea, Kaito ran around in denim and leather jackets, ripped skinny jeans, high-top sneakers and Doc Martens and t-shirts. Kaito had his hair pulled up into a bun on the back of his head, and little trendles are come down from it in places because the bun was tied with twine instead of a proper elastic band. Joshua looked at Kaito, taking in the sight. You didn't see men like that, often.


"Do you want to have a look at the villages?" Joshua asked Kaito. Kaito's lip parted silently.


"Uh...slight problem with that." He said, swallowing. "All the villagers know that...you're here. I mean, everyone knows we've got a Korean here, and so everyone wants to have a look at you."


"Right."


"Wait, I mean, we can definitely go down the mountain if you want, but I'll definitely abandon you there."


Joshua laughed. "My aching heart!" He exclaimed, taking the piss. But Kaito was serious.


"The first hint of it -" His hand whipped in a straight line through the air. "I'm off, aisidu."


Half an hour later, Joshua was beginning to love and hate been towed around in a farmer's wooden wheat-bale trailer with two horses at the head. More extraordinary to him, was that these horses in particular - chocolate brown stud's - didn't need a driver. "I told them where to go, and they will take us." Kaito said as though he was telling Joshua that they were in the back of a cab, and he had just given a note to the cab driver, human, rather than animal. To Joshua's further amazement, the horses pulled the wooden trailer along the track down the mountain, requiring no control, while he and Kaito kissed, lying down on the floor of the trailer to hide them from sight.


"Did you bewitch the horses?" Joshua murmured to Kaito something during the kiss, his mouth moving against Kaito's as the younger man didn't break their intent rhythm.
"Nah, I reckon Mum did." He replied. He and Joshua both lost it, and both tried to cut the laughter by still kissing each other, but it just ended up clumsy and warm.


Kaito was right; as they walked down the main street of the village, people looked at Joshua. Joshua didn't shrink under all of the attention, but he nearly felt like doing so. Many people called out to Kaito and dragged him off in conversations of fast and rural-accented Japanese. People touched Joshua's hands, chest, shoulders and a few old ladies touched his face as Kaito introduced him to dozens of people at a time.


"I love showing you off." Kaito murmured to Joshua later; Kaito had coaxed him into sitting up in a Cherry tree with him in the garden of a local pub to have the beers that Kaito had got off the tender inside. "One rule in the Village; never take money off the Miko's child." He said as Joshua said about the tab. Joshua contained a laugh, but knocked the bottom of the beer bottle none too gently against Kaito's knee. Kaito smiled with a warmth that was like the evening air around them.


"I'm happy you're here." Kaito said down to Joshua.


"I can't believe you actually go with the "not paying for anything" rule." Joshua replied.


"Does that get me into trouble then with your morals?" Kaito asked. 


"Hm, gets you tied up with rope." Joshua said. Kaito looked like a child on Christmas morning at the prospect. Joshua and Kaito fondled each other, laying back in the wooden wheat trailer again as the horses even in the Summer dusk knew where they were going, steering the trailer and the men over potholes and rocks on the bath and three branches of the forest and the mountains that kept down in the wind.


"You're bloody hair..." Joshua said as the wind kept whipping the strands about Kaito's face. As Joshua had gone to kiss him he had got a mouthful of Kaito's black hair in his mouth. Kaito just laughed, finding everything funny.


"Have to get it closer..." Kaito mumbled, but Joshua just pulled the younger man to be beneath his body, pinning him down onto the floor of the trailer. 


"Hey, I'm doing you for a change." Joshua said to Kaito, each thumb pressing against Kaito's throat as he pressed their mouths together, the horses finally having brought them back to the Shrine. Joshua tied up Kaito's hands, having to kneel all of his body weight on Kaito's chest and stomach to keep him in place. As he moved away, he moved a hand over Kaito's abdomen, sharply pinching the skin there, leaving red marks and blood.


"Blood makes everything better." Kaito had once said to Joshua.


Joshua leant over Kaito and exhaled onto his chest through parted lips, his mouth just close enough to Kaito's skin for his mouth to just brush. Kaito murmured something in Japanese that Joshua didn't catch.


"I told you not to speak." Joshua said to Kaito. His head slid up Kaito's neck and he let his nails bite into Kaito's skin. Kaito's head tipped to the side; Joshua could feel Kaito sensing him directly even though he was blindfolded. 


"I'll do what I want." Kaito said to Joshua. Kaito's lips parted open silently as Joshua squeezed his throat hard with just the one hand and simultaneously bit his left nipple.
"Not with me you don't." Joshua told him. Kaito grinned. Joshua slapped him with enough force that Kaito's head tipped to the other side. Joshua kissed Kaito before the pain settled in too much, and Joshua couldn't help but soften a bit at Kaito's doliceness.


Joshua gasped as the point of the knife sunk into his flesh just on the inner side of his hip bone, before he felt Kaito's mouth over where the cut had been made.
The memory made Joshua shiver, and he kissed Kaito harder because of it. Joshua gripped Kaito's hip tightly with one hand, balancing on the other as he sat beside Kaito's body and leant over it, making out with him.


"You're really not that good at doing this." Kaito told Joshua.


"I thought you wanted it? You like this stuff." Joshua said. Kaito said something in a non-committal tone in Japanese.


"Really hurt me." Kaito said to Joshua.


"I don't want to actually do that."


"What if I want you to?" Kaito put to Joshua.


Joshua faltered, but found he couldn't come up with a retort. Kaito sighed through his nose.


"Ok." Joshua said just as Kaito said, "It's alright, un-tie me now." Joshua hesitated.


"No." He replied to Kaito. One thing he did do was take of Kaito's blindfold, but not the ties around his wrists. He ground down on Kaito's crotch, and gazed into his eyes. Kaito didn't back, mirroring Joshua. However, he drew a gasp out of Kaito as he began to roughly finger him, making sure with every press of his index finger to hit Kaito's prostate. Kaito's hips rocked upwards as Joshua got him in the same sensitive spot over and over again, sitting in-between Kaito's legs. 


"Don't wriggle away at the feeling." Joshua had said to Kaito the very first time. "Moan, breathe, be overwhelmed."


Suddenly, Joshua pulled out and he left Kaito there for the next five hours, sleeping in the little sitting room area while Miko was still away in her cave until the sun came up. When Joshua went to un-tie Kaito in the morning, Kaito was soundly asleep, his head a solid weight against his arm still strung above his head. When Joshua saw Kaito's face closely, he could see there was some kind of meditation going on to attempt to cover up how uncomfortable he was.


"Kaito." Joshua un-tied him, and gently moved his arms as Kaito's eyes slowly opened.


"Good morning." Kaito blinked tiredly. Kaito's eyes slid closed again all by themselves even though he was trying to wake up from what Joshua had intended to be a difficult night. Joshua leant forward and kissed Kaito softly on the mouth, just enough to make Kaito's mouth flush and tingle with electricity, but not completely burn his being. Kaito's eyes opened heavily to half-lids, and one of his hands came up to touch Joshua's face. Whatever he had wanted to say, nothing came out as his eyes slid closed again, and Joshua's hand laid over Kaito's on his face before putting it on his side, and finding a blanket to put over Kaito's naked body. When he had found one, Joshua slipped underneath and embraced Kaito, one arm slipping underneath his body and the other arm going over the top. 


Kaito's body was warm against his, and Joshua saw the mark from where he had bitten Kaito's shoulder. Joshua gazed at the mark on Kaito's skin and considered tracing it with his fingertips, but he had the sudden compassion to just leave Kaito to sleep.


"Sorry if I was too harsh last night." Joshua murmured.


"Do you actually have anyone in your life that isn't bad for your health?"


"You -"


"No, I don't think so.


"Ok...Lily. Seungcheol's fiancée'. She's good for my health." - "I think she's the only woman left on Earth who gives goodbye kisses."


Kaito laughed. "You like that, huh?"


"Yeah, 'course I do." Joshua smiled. "Who doesn't?"

 

----------------------------

 

"How's Japan?" Seungcheol and Lily asked him on the phone. Joshua grinned.


"Good. Miko - Kaito's Mother - needs her head read but she's awesome. I'll tell you a few things in a while. Kaito showed me one of the pubs in the village. I got asked in front of everyone stuff about Japan. I said I knew only one thing."


"What was that? Sushi or magna?" Seungcheol said.


"Hashimoto." Joshua replied. Lily promptly nearly pissed herself laughing, but Seungcheol went quiet.


"Shua?" He asked cautiously. Joshua pushed aside his earlier decision and told Seungcheol and Lily. Lily's politics came out more than anything.


"JAPANESE CUNT!" She roared about Kaito's great-grandfather. Joshua waited patiently on the end of the line while Seungcheol spent a good ten minutes trying to get Lily to not have a fit. "Tell me you punched him?" She put to Joshua bitterly.


"Kaito threatened to cut his throat." Joshua offered truthfully in return. 


"Can you just come back home?" Seungcheol asked Joshua desperately as Lily began ranting and raving at the top of her lungs again. 


"Why? Nothing's wrong, Cheol. It's just literally how I met Kaito's Mother. The rest of them are pretty nice."


"Nice?! NICE?!" Lily screeched in the background. Joshua wasn't very perturbed when he and Seungcheol resorted to hanging up so he could get Lily under control.
Kaito came up into the private area in the roof of the Shrine. "If you hear a lot of noise, don't worry. Mum and one of the men from the village are slaughtering some pigs." He said to Joshua. Kaito visibly had a thought. "Which is why...you'rec coming out with me."

 

-----------------------------

 

"Where the hell did this come from?" Joshua said, staring open-mouthed at all around him.


"They used the money that would have been the tax they didn't pay." Kaito shurgged matter-of-factly. "Simple Socrates philosophy."


Joshua laughed. "This is cool."


"The first time I came in here, I thought everyone looked like Yoko Ono." Kaito said. "The men and the women."


"It's definitely a nightclub, right?" Joshua checked. Kaito nodded. "So, how are we in here?"


"I'm Miko's child."


"You're kidding me - she's practically ruler of the kingdom and all who come here."


"Actually, that's it."


"I saw you talking to here earlier; everything all good?"


"Oh, yeah." Kaito nodded lightly. "She just wanted to know if you could make sound."


"What?"


"Every human heart makes a sound." Kaito replied, still light toned. "She wanted to know if I had figured your sound out yet."


"Have you?"


"Yeah, if you like, and there's so much skin to see." Kaito slapped Joshua's arse, smirking.


Joshua started as the moment he stepped up onto the light-up floor, it did as it was supposed to; it lit up in bright white, and as though his presence activated everything. A stage where stripper poles were allocated lit up as well - all fluorescent and purple - and in the bar area bright gold Hollywood showbiz lights electrified the wooden surfaces and the glass bottles full of alcohol. "Mr Bright-Side" began to play by The Killers, and Joshua looked around just in time to see Kaito very graceful climb one pole and swing around it, holding onto it with one hand and one leg crooked around it so his toes touched behind his other knee, that leg stretched out elegantly like a ballet dancer. His long black hair swung out like black silk in the wind as he moved.


Joshua grinned, grabbing himself a beer from behind the bar. "Oh, yeah." He said. This could be fun.

 

----------------------------

 

"Where the hell is he?" Lily wondered aloud to herself. Every couple of days she drove past Joshua's house and checked inside it, using Seungcheol's spare keys, to make sure the place hadn't been robbed, and the roof hadn't started leaking or a pipe in the bathroom burst.


"Shua? Are you home?" A voice suddenly called; the front door been open sounded. It was Jeonghan. Lily quickly came downstairs to see a mildly infuriated but hopeful Jeonghan in the hallway. His mouth came open slightly, embarassment and disappointment filling him when she appeared at the bottom of the stairs.


"Lily." he said.


She leant against the wall, crossing her arms. "What are you doing here?"


Jeonghan couldn't give her an answer, and she smiled a little bit at that. "I know you miss him, love." She said. Jeonghan still didn't utter a word.


"I'm just here to check that no pipes have broken, and no one's broken in." Lily added. She tilted her head towards Jeonghan. "You want to talk to me?"


Jeonghan gave a non-comittal shrug, hiding his expression. "I can't believe he finally broke up with her." He said quietly, scuffing the heel of his shoe on the floor.


"Camille?" Lily said aloud. Jeonghan glanced up at her from the ground, nodding. His hands were thrust into his pockets.


"You know, I genuinely think she loved him." Lily said. She hummed as Jeonghan looked at her. "Raving psychopath, but, yeah. I really think she had that tender warmth; she just has a hard time getting it out because she's fucked up inside. It's not her head that's the problem - despite all the shit she's realer than any other woman I know. She's as real as it gets. It's her heart that's all fucked up."


"You swear a lot for a girl." Jeonghan said to her. Lily smiled.


"And you miss Joshy." She echoed her former words. "Hey, baby, give me a cuddle." She still leant against the wall, but held out a arm, moving her fingertips slightly. Jeonghan's mouth went into a abashed line, the corners curved, resisting her. Lily clucked her tongue, and moved her hand in a forwards motion. Jeonghan didn't give in. Lily gave up, sighing through her nose and putting her hands in the pockets of her capri trousers, leaning a bare foot against the white-painted wall. "You're a funny bit of work, you know." She told Jeonghan. She gave him Seungcheol's spare keys. "Have as long as you need." Her fingertips lingered on his palm. "But give me those keys back."

Chapter Text

Why don't you come with me down to one of the rituals? 


That's what Kaito said to me. 


Somehow, that's what happened.


Kaito's thumbed pressed over Joshua's lower lip as he marked it with the black paint made from coal and ground up Japanese pine-tree leaves that were dried and ground, before the powder was turned into a paste with rock dust and a few drops of pine snap. Kaito used a wooden tool like a pencil with a pointed end, but it was domed, and was sharp to cut. Kaito kissed Joshua's mouth, his chin held in-between his fingers. Joshua went still as Kaito tipped the pencil back into the black paint concotion and draw small straight lines about an inch long beneath Joshua's lower eye-lashes. Kaito's mouth and nose rang of Joshua's jaw, neck, throat and his collarbones as he un-did the buttons of the shirt that Joshua wore. Joshua saw him draw a symbol onto his chest. Joshua eyes slid closed as he tipped his head back, feeling the back of Kaito's fingers on his neck and Kaito's mouth on his throat again. Kaito mumbled something in Japanese; his hands ran up and down Joshua's side and over his back. Joshua could hear the crackle of a bonfire outside, and Kaito's Mother giving her strange vocalized sounds of Indigenous language to the temple's worshippers as their Shaman. Kaito fell in effortlessly with the words that sounded like vocalizations, his tone soft compared to his Mother's soaring calls; Joshua shivered as Kaito's mouth moved to the spot on his neck where he could feel his heart beat. He didn't remember the American Christian world ever been this terrifying, this alien, or this beautiful. His hands curled over themselves in Kaito's hair and he tugged at it firmly.


Joshua's insides backflipped as Kaito gasped out with something almost like a smile before one of his hands was holding Joshua's head and the other hand was pressed to his chest, and they were on the floor, Kaito over the top of him. Joshua gasped out a laugh as Kaito's tongue ran up the centre of his chest; it didn't disturb the mark painted there. It had transformed into a tattoo, not rubbing off. 


"Come on...come on." Joshua tugged harder at Kaito's hair, knewing that it turned him on. Kaito liked it rough and hot and as animalistic as hell.


"Everytime you get undressed...I swear to God." Kaito groaned, slipping Joshua's shirt off his shoulder and down his arms, biting into the crook of his neck and shoulder.

 

--------------------------

 

When Joshua saw his face in the reflection of a window in the temple upstairs, Kaito had painted geomatrically-uneven shapes on his face that had a wobble and a rigidity in their lines that was primeval. A little rectangle drawn with been filled in on the skin above his upper lip, a fat, small square on his chin, a dense half-moon that took up most of his forehead with a straight, thick lines through it. On the tip of his nose was another little fat square like his chin; lines ran down either side of the bridge from the tips of his eyebrows, and on his cheeks were inverted triangles. Joshua touched his cheek, but the paint had dried there; it didn't come off to the touch.


He looked around as Kaito's Mother appeared into the room, in her long red and white robes. she had a white blossom tucked through her hair; she had pulled the front sections back into a bun at the base of her skull, in a way that reminded Joshua of a Maid Marion style. She rested her hands on his shoulder's, and her chin on top of his head. Miko was an unusually tall woman for been Japanese; Kaito said, somewhat crudely, that the height was a side affect of in-breeding.


"You're the boy my son chooses to spend the rest of his life with. He won't find anyone else." Miko said through half-lids, looking at Joshua in the mirror's reflection. Her skin was painted dead-white, and it made her eyelashes invisible. She had similar markings painted on her face but they were dark red.


"You are blue. Your colour." Miko's head shifted, scenting Joshua's hair. "You are a born of the water." She looked at his eyes in the mirror. "My child Kaito is born of the Earth. His feet are the roots in the ground. They will grow further, and however much the water may nourish him and help him to grow, those roots will not be uplifted. Trees do not walk. They do not cross oceans."


"But it's not for me; it's for his Dad." Joshua spoke. "I'm just in the same place that his Dad is."


"You mean more to him than that. The earth needs the water to live, otherwise it becomes shallow, and dry, un-alive. Just existing. But the water needs the earth too; to ground them, give them boundaries, even if a consequence is that the earth is flooded and drowns a little bit."


The language that Miko spoke pulled Joshua's senses and made him light-headed. To him, she had been talking in tongues for fraught hours. But who did she say he was? Was he the Earth or the Water? He couldn't remember; he couldn't understand it. What did she mean about drowning, and why was she looking at him like that? She couldn't actually see his soul; she wasn't God. Every priest Joshua had listened to in Church growing up could account for that fact. God wasn't a woman. God wasn't the Mother of a man who was essentially his lover.


But everyone's in line for the throne; so, fuck yeah. Maybe Miko is God.

 

-----------------------------

 

Kaito kept Joshua safe on the outskirts as his Mother screamed and wailed, vocalized and chanted in her neurological trance, the several villages of people in her inner circle and community sat on their knees at her feet in traditional Japanese clothing and bearing lanterns and cuttings from trees and flowers and incense for the God's. The air around them was humid and stifling; the day had been unusually hot, creating illness and drowsiness. Miko began to sing, moving with her hands in her air inside a stone circle, deep and man-like with a visceral growl edging her voice. Kaito went still as she chanted, sang, spoke - whatever you wanted to call it - and as she continued to communicate to the people and her son and the God's, the worshippers vocalized with her and chanted in some places also. Joshua just watch on, and found himself gazing up at the sky in equal wonder as the sky dripped heavy with stars like glitter on fabric, and the Alps illuminated the sky about with a light Joshua was only familiar with from photographs of the northern lights. Joshua stayed out all night with Kaito. Never for one second did he want to pack it all in when all that filled his lungs and his head was the smell of burning flora due to a bonfire, Miko's screams haunting his head, the hustle and bustle and worship of the villagers around him, the howls and roars of animals that Joshua couldn't believe he was hearing - the bears and the wolves that Kaito said his mother were friends with - and Kaito's hands touching his body, as sexually as it wasn't. At some point during the night, Joshua knew no one would believe him if he told of how a massive male bear walked into the fields and the forest surrounding the Shrine, and laid on the ground with Miko beside him; no one Joshua knew would believe him as he watched on, in awe but terrified, as the bear growled a song and put one of it's huge paws the size of a human head onto Miko's stomach. Wolves ran wild around the ritualistic gathering, growling and snarling and playing their own games and getting pieces of food; the villagers didn't reach out to pet the Wolves, but the Wolves didn't attack or harrass them. Joshua gasped out for Kaito as he saw a huge female wolve approach a tiny girl, an infant barely walking, but Kaito only laughed and murmured sweet words as the wolve licked the infant's outstretched, chubby hands that looked like little starfish, before laying down on the ground and letting her ears and fur be touched and sniffed by the infant. Joshua watched Miko wrestle the wolves' dinner, a huge stag carcass with them, blood from the raw animal of her robes and hair and skin, her hands and her neck and face, as she growled and hissed at them, her teeth bared. "The wolves won't eat unless Miko fights with them over the meat." Kaito told Joshua. "And if she doesn't do this the wolves don't admire her; they think she is too weak, she has no fire with which she can burn them." Kaito's hand curled through Joshua's and gripped it supportfully as Miko laid down on the ground and the Wolves licked at her skin due to the blood from the stag carcass that was on her skin; their teeth nipped at her skin just enough to make small cuts and wounds which they licked over; their teeth ripped open her robes and paws pressed against her abdomen and thighs, throat and breasts as they climbed over her and even one wolve cub settled itself cosily in-between her thighs, before been joined by three others, making Miko spread her legs open to accommodate them. Joshua believed he had never seen anything that made him that twisted up inside and light-headed; he compared the feeling to the first time he had proper sex with Jeonghan, and how afterwards the older man was half unconscious from it on Joshua's bed on his front, his body stretched and gaping from where Joshua's penis and stretched him open to fit inside and fuck him. The bears haunted the background, and the Earth seemed to shake around Joshua as the male bear that had greeted Miko so gently reared up on it's hind legs and them slammed to the ground, roaring with such a power that it could be heard throughout all of the lives in the Alps. The bear pushed the wolves away from Miko, roaring. Parents held their children who cried at the sight to not be afraid of their Gods. Kaito distracted Joshua, kissing him and slipping his tongue into the older man's mouth, personally making him with his teeth and his words and his nails, but out of the corner of his eye Joshua saw Miko now naked, bruised and bloodied gathered up into the bear's arms; it was sitting on it's rear, and it held her in a embrace that was like a human hug. The breath left Joshua's lungs at the sight and it made his knees weak, but he didn't mind Kaito's hands on his body as they both sank roughly to the Earth beneath them, and suddenly Kaito was pulling his hair and strangling him and Joshua was sinking his teeth into Kaito's neck and clawing his back and abdomen.

 

------------------------------

 

"It'll be the Autumn soon." Joshua said to Kaito. It had been eight weeks since Joshua arrived in Japan. He had spent nearly the whole Summer in Japan. Five days in fact it was until the Autumn started, and Kaito would be with his Father in Seoul. Joshua's nose bumped against Kaito's, the two of them settled in close together. "Hey, when you come over to Korea, we should try some toys." Joshua murmured.


"Hm, no chance." Kaito replied. "Shinto rule."


"Hm, still Shinto rule if I have a vibrator directly on your prostate and I'm controlling it with a little remote while I fuck your mouth?" Joshua put to him.


"Well...that's different." Kaito conceded.


"Just you wait until you come around to my place." Joshua smiled against Kaito's mouth. "We're going to have so much fun."


"Are you alright to go home?" Kaito asked. "Like...bears, wolves, Mum with her clothes off, Mum screaming her head off, my family in general, everything...do you need some time by yourself in the city to readjust before you go?"


"Is that something you'd recommend?"


"Yeah."


"There's not really much point when you bring all of it back into my life in less than a week."


"But I don't bring all of it, Josh."


"But you do. When you're around I see it all and I think about it all because all of this is you; a good three quarters of you. More than half. Definitely more than half." Joshua told Kaito. "I can't wait to have you back in my house - back in my bed."


"It's been alright, hasn't it?" Kaito asked. "Being in my bed?"


Joshua nodded, running his thumb along Kaito's mouth.


I won't pretend that Miko and Kaito and their reality didn't terrify me. Because it did. It does.


But there's more to it. A Mother who loves her child; and to some degree he loves me so much that somehow I never picked up on it, but Miko does.


There's a lot of responsibility when you're unconciously carrying a heart like Kaito's.


But, really, it's on him. He carries around with him to unaware a sizeable chunk of my heart, too.

Chapter Text

I called all of them once I got home. And after I cleaned up the glass. Matty had climbed into my back garden over the fence and had throne a four pound granite rock with a letter tied to it directly over the balcony and into my sitting room.


I think I've said it before, but I'll say it again.


What is wrong with the Welsh? Don't they know what phones are to call and text and don't they know th - I hate to think what they class as damage to property over in Wales. This is as bad as it gets; the next thing up from this is Matty burning my house down. All he needs to do one day is go near the un-mown lawn with a dodgy cigarette lighter and all of us are gone. The letter was fucking rubbish; whoever taught him to write needs a punch in the face and a medal. Beautiful hand-writing except he had written it in Welsh. So I'm sitting here at nine 'o' clock in the morning on the couch using Google to translate - and whatever Google says, I think Matty means something different.
Everyone knows Google translator is crap; but it takes the dick of the year award when it comes to Welsh


Joshua called Matty. The first thing he said when Matty picked up, "You're paying for my window and you know fucking well that I don't speak your dumb language."


Matty just laughed. "Hey, cariad, whatcha up too?" He said quite sweetly.


"Shut it."


"Aw."


"Matty, I'm serious. I come home from Japan and you've thrown a huge fucking rock - it's a small boulder, literally - through my sitting room window. What if it had poured rain last night? Oh, by the way, I'm now infested with Christmas beetles. I've killed eight in the last fifteen minutes. I hate bugs - I hate them, and these ones buzz and crash into the remainder of the window!"


"Put some cardboard and tape over it." Matty advised simply. "I can come over and deal with the bugs."


"No, you're not." Joshua said firmly. "What do you guys do in Wales? Spray pesticide and agent orange on the carpet and expect that to do the job?"


"No, we catch them manually in a tissue and crush them." Matty replied. "I think you're being a bit racist."


"MATTY!" Joshua howled. He considered telling Matty to just fuck off, but he hung up on the call. A minute later, a text buzzed through.


Too, Camille's wrote a song about you and it's gone to Number one on every chart you can think off; she did an English and a Korean version, so, basically, it's everywhere
Joshua tunred off his phone, and would have been happy to spend ages staring at the shattered window and the weak sunlight coming in through it, the last days of Summer. But essentially the whole "family" turned up.


Joshua face-palmed as he saw Seong-hun's car parked just down the street from Seungcheol's car which he, Jeonghan and Lily piled out of. Lily was in a red and white striped mini-dress with her familiar red-lipstick, and in her arms she carried a huge box, and talked to Joshua at the door at the top of the stairs where the house was built on a slope. All Joshua saw was Lily's mouth moving; he didn't hear a word she said. As Seong-hun appeared with Ha-Yoon on his arm from the left side of the footpath in the village street, Joshua walked back inside and refused to think as Fred appeared coming the other way with a man who Joshua had no idea about.


Typical that everyone organizes a house-party. 

 

---------------------------

 

Fred genuinely tutted when he saw Joshua's window. Seong-hun wasn't very impressed, but his mouth in his un-impressed line quirked up at the corners at Fred's tutting. Ha-Yoon grinned broadly, but Fred didn't see her. 


"This isn't good." He opined.


"No shit, Sherlock." Lily came into the sitting room with a beer. "Hey, honey, come with me for a minute. Hey, hey, shh, just do as you're told." She coaxed Joshua out of the sitting room and into the kitchen, her hand wrapped around his elbow. Ha-Yoon wished him luck on the way out, and Lily glared at her around Joshua's side.


"Uh...have you heard about Camille lately?" Lily asked, pulling him up the staircase by the front door.


"Actually, the Devil texted me earlier that she's written a hit song about me - ah, you've heard it then?" Joshua took a drink out of Lily's beer. The gesture appeared to quite please her. She started grinning.


"I know she's a bitch and that, but...Joshy, oh my God, you just have to -" Lily gestured around in the middle air between them.


"Honestly, Lily, I just want to ignore it. I don't care. I just want to do a good job of not knowing about it."


"Babe, it's everywhere." Lily's eyes went qide as she gestured about more. She took the beer back, and had a drink. "You can't stick your head in the sand. Because when someone comes along and anal fucks you, you can't see their face."


Joshua just looked at her. Any other time he might have laughed, but not then. "Kaito's coming in four days." He said bluntly.


"He'll bounce off the walls." Lily smiled. "Actually, talking of anal fucking -" She leant in closer to Joshua. "Can you tell? I mean, like, which one? Do they do it all different so you can tell -"


Joshua sighed. He had no idea why he was telling her this. "Kaito I can tell anytime; he uses me like a sleeve."


Lily actually giggled at the statement. "Fred likes it a bit rough but he's gentle, Seong-hun gets a bit haunted by the fact I'm younger enough to be his son, so, you know..."

Joshua drank some more of Lily's beer. "But, honestly, if I was tied up and open and they all climbed on..." Joshua shrugged. Lily appeared to be delighted by it.


"Thanks for telling me." She said to him. "Oh, by the way, Hannie's missing you like crazy." Lily touched his knee, before looking up at the ceiling of the second storey above them. She and Joshua were sitting about half-way up the staircase.


"Don't get me wrong, I'm not having a go," Lily began. "But with Camille off the scene down, do you miss the hetero sex?" 


"I can get the same with anyone." Joshua gestured somewhere through the wall. "Fred, Seong-hun, Kaito -"


"Matty and Jeonghan officially struck of the list?" Lily raised an eyebrow. "Gay sex isn't the same; ok, like, hear me out." She gave Joshua the beer to hold, having pinched it back. "You don't get a set of tits -"


"That's fine, I always bite the shit out of Kaito, anyway." Joshua interrupted. Lily rocked on her side, grinning.


"You don't get your cock wet." She reasoned instead. Joshua noticed her cross her legs very tightly. "Us girls have the natural slick, you guys need it artificial and manual and frankly, fucking loads."


"Not that much." Joshua told her. Another huge smile came over her features. Joshua began to wonder if Lily had a bit of a fetish for gay sex. "I use less on Kaito and put more on me. One of the first time I had to stretch him open a bit, and he came on the spot just from me putting the lube in him. He likes a bit of pain, but you have to watch him. He'll do anything to get that high. I have a client - remember, there's twenty-three of them - and he's a Forensic Pathologist that does most of the gangland murders. He comes around sometimes. He asked me once about all the scars on her body that came from Kaito; we actually had a count, and apparently I've got forty-three scars and marks and shades from getting it on with Kaito." 


Lily's mouth hung open. She blushed, and shut her mouth quickly, but a huge smile came over her face and she covered it up with her hand. "That's alot." She mumbled. "Where are most of them?" She quickly added, visibly wondering if she was pushing it too far.


"My crotch, the inside of my thighs, my neck, shoulder, back, chest, hips, abdomen -" Joshua held out his wrist and pointed at a few marks. "For the record that wasn't self-harm, that was Kaito's teeth. Wait - Cheol's never said anything like that you?" He quickly checked.


"No, he can tell." Lily nodded. 


"Shua!" Joshua slid down the stairs on his arse, making Lily lose the plot as Jeonghan's voice rang out. Joshua grinned broadly, if slightly winded, up at Jeonghan from the bottom step. He felt Jeonghan staring at him, and he quickly looked down to his crotch. With talking about Kaito and forensic pathologists, Joshua thought you'd never know. 
"Hey." Jeonghan said to Joshua.


"So, you're talking to me, then?" Joshua said to him. Jeonghan's brow furrowed.


"What do you mean?" He said. 


"I thought you were angry with me. Didn't want to know I existed."


"Bub, he's had eight weeks to get over it." Lily called out, before excusing herself.


Jeonghan came to sit on the bottom step beside Joshua, and was silent for a bit. "Happy you had a nice time in Japan." Jeonghan eventually spoke. Joshua hadn't told him about any of the stuff that had gone on.


"Come here." Joshua held out his hand for Jeonghan, and they clapped as they always did, but Joshua purposely held onto him. Jeonghan gazed at him, and Joshua returned it.
"I think progressive." Joshua said to him. "I call and you come through; you know I'd blow everything just to sit in hell with you. You know you're the greatest, right? Not like you'd be hanged in the Louvre, but the galleries in Seoul are pretty cool."


"What the fuck are you talking about?" Jeonghan asked him.


"Don't know but I should write it down later." Joshua answered.


I must have a huge problem where Jeonghan's concerned. I know not to do it, but I always go and do it. I swear to God he goes straight to my head


Halfway through gazing at Jeonghan, Joshua glanced up what was Lily's skirt as she climbed over he and Jeonghan sitting on the bottom step. She had no underwear on, and Joshua could smell the pre-come on the inside of her skinny thighs.


"Come on, I want you to meet someone." Jeonghan said after a few more minutes. Jeonghan led Joshua through to his kitchen.


Before him stood a man with high cheekbones, a thin mouth, a nose that made Joshua wonder if he had Serbian blood in him somewhere and dark brown eyes that were depthless and sparkling with a good sense of nature. He had just been laughing at something Fred was saying in Mandarin, a language he spoke fluently because apparently the Chinese man's grasp of Korean was fairly...crap. He was neatly dressed in jeans and sneakers and a zip-front jacket. His hair was dyed down to a softer colour, dark brown.
"Please tell me you've told him what I actually do for a job." Joshua inquired to Jeonghan before speaking to the Chinese man.


"Oh, yeah." Jeonghan nodded slowly, something cloying in his gaze. Joshua knew he was taking the piss.


"Hi, nice to meet you, I'm Joshua." Joshua held out his hand and the Chinese man clapped it.


"Hey, you're the transgender model?" He tilted his head to the side.


"He means when you did the leopard-print dress for me that time." Jeonghan quickly said.


"Fred." Joshua raised an eyebrow at Fred, who quickly explained to the Chinese man. He immediately apologised, and Joshua took it gracefully. 


"I'm Wen Jun Hui." Joshua nodded, acknowledging the man as he spoke again. He supposed he shouldn't mind the transgender comment, but he didn't like it. It stuck around in his head as Junhui talked in Korea - a little bit of a disaster - and every few times he died it Fred automatically came in to rescue him. 


"What are you doing in Korea?" Joshua asked.


"Be a bird." Junhui said. "Be free. And be a model for Jeonghan."


For some reason, Joshua hadn't expected that.


"Everyone needs a muse." Jeonghan said quietly to Joshua later on. "You had me as yours for long enough."

Chapter Text

I don't know why I wanted to punch Junhui, but I did. The truth is I know why I want to punch him, but I'm not going to say it. What I will say, is that he has the - what the fuck is wrong with his nose? He looks Asian everywhere else but God got to his nose and thought, "Let's make you Serbian!"

 

Maybe it was just to do with the fact I walked in at the wrong time.

 

---------------------------------

 

"Fred." Joshua managed to say to the older man just as he had gotten a full view of Junhui's naked body. Jeonghan was photographing Junhui in a set designed to look like a Parisian Edwardian bathroom - as far as Joshua could think of it as - and the way Junhui looked through Jeonghan's lens while in the bathtub which was actually filled with water, smoking a Peter Jackson's cigarette knocked the conscious life of out Joshua.

 

"Hey." Fred pointed over to where Jeonghan and Junhui were working; staff hustled and bustled around everywhere; girls in black jeans and mini-skirts, ballet flats and converse sneakers; they all seemed to have pearl or ocean inspired earthly jewelry on and they all had scarves or bits of lace of colourful bands in their head, knotted and messy and creative.

 

"What's the song playing?" Joshua asked Fred, suddenly all he was able to focus on was a deep-voiced sound that to him was as blissful as a choir, grounding him, as he couldn't get the sight of Junhui's body out of his head, the image burned onto the surface of his brain, torturing him.

 

"It's a slowed-down and reverbed version of "Circles" by Post Malone."

 

"It's really good." Joshua said distractedly, rubbing the back of his neck and half-smiling at Fred.

 

"You look great." Fred said to him quietly. Kaito had come home to Joshua's house, and had fainted on the doorstep from jet lag. Joshua smiled at the memory, glancing down at his feet; Kaito had thought it was hilarious when he woke up in Joshua's arms just as the older man was putting him on the couch. Kaito had whistled and had felt up Joshua's biceps, grinning his head off and saying, "Kamisama" over and over again as they chattered in Korean and Kaito told Joshua to have a look in his suitcase. Inside Joshua found two inches worth of vinyl records.

 

"Uncle cleared out his cupboards and I thought Seungcheol's wife - to be wife - might like them." Kaito mumbled, the top half of his face just visible over the back of the couch.

 

"You know what? We'll keep it as a wedding present." Joshua grinned. That morning as he had left to go around and see Fred at his studio's, Kaito's hand had run through his hair sweeping it over into a side-part as he climbed into a taxi to go to his Dad's. Joshua's hair was still like that, and Fred couldn't stop looking at it.

 

Joshua came back to the present as Fred talked about the "aesthetic quality of gender confusion and apparel sense". Joshua barely got any of it, but that was alright. Suddenly, Fred's voice sounded intoxicating when he talked. Joshua listened to it intently, and focused on the man's mouth and his eyes as he spoke, occasionally glancing at the way his Adam's apple moved when he swallowed and he laughed.

 

"Wait, wait, Fred, what's this one?" Joshua looked up in the direction of the ceiling. 

 

"I've done a playlist recently of sort of slow songs - that's why it's that." Fred explained. "it's called "Poison" by a band called Night Creates Release. You don't see many rock-bands with a female lead singer."

 

Joshua's knees went weak at a single line that radiated above his head. 

 

Falling deep I can't sleep tonight

 

It had been months since he had heard Camille's voice - singing or talking. And this song - her voice was as deep as a female's voice could go, and...it was indescribable. He just couldn't think of any other words for anything about it as tiny shards of something sharp made his head go blank except for the existence of his voice, along with his head and any sense he had.

 

This was the song Camille had wrote about him.

 

"Look, I'll explain more in a minute but I know Camille - Camille from Night Creates Release." Joshua said quickly to Fred, fumbling for his phone. "Sorry, can you give me a second so I can call her? This is - sorry, Fred, hang on."

 

Nothing ever gets me high like this

 

Joshua looked over and caught Junhui's eye inexplicably as Camille's dial-tone rang in his ear and another line echoed throughout his head with Synth's discography

 

Trying to get over how bad I want you so much

 

"Cool." Junhui mouthed over to him, when Jeonghan's back was turned and suddenly Fred was talking to him; Jeonghan looked over to Joshua and was mouthing to him too - incomprehensible words as Joshua felt his senses fade even further.

 

I'm a lightweight and I know it because after the first time I was falling, falling down

 

"Camille?"

 

Nothing can kill me like you do

 

"Hey, sweetheart. What do you think of "Poison"?"

 

You're going straight to my head and I'm going straight to the edge

 

------------------------

 

"What's all that about?" Junhui asked Jeonghan, staying naked in the tub as he watched Joshua talked agitatedly into his phone, constantly running his hand through his head and gripping the back of his neck in nervous gestures.


"The woman who was just singing - one of the assistant girls turned her off. She used to be Shua's girlfriend but they got into a massive fight and they broke up. She wrote that song about him. Me and our friends have known about it for ages but Shua's been ignoring it, until now." Jeonghan explained quickly. "No, don't -" He half muttered to himself as Fred came over. A couple of minutes later Jeonghan leant over the tub to Junhui. "Sorry, I need to look after Josh for a minute, Fred's got to go -"


"Fucking Minghao." Junhui remember, mildly horrified. Minghao had had to come on a serperate flight from Shanghai.


Junhui let Jeonghan go as Joshua looked like he got even worse. His mouth was in a closed, twisted grimace on his face, and his eyes were barely open as he looked down to the floor. Fifteen minutes later, the first move he had made in all that time was putting his phone back in his pocket.


"She said she wanted me to know that she still loves me, and she doesn't expect anything of me; if I want to sue her, ruin her name, upset her life, that's perfectly fine, completely understandable. She apologised to me for being just like poison..." Joshua faltered for a minute. He looked at Jeonghan. "God, what am I going to do?" He asked, his chest stuttering hardly with a scoffed laugh, exhaled through his nose. "What am I going to about Millie? Cause, damn, I love that song." Joshua grinned painfully to the floor, rubbing the back of his neck. "I love that fucking song."


"What do you want to do?" Jeonghan asked, putting his hands on Joshua's shoulders.


"Download that song." Joshua replied.

 

-------------------------

 

Joshua was happy Kaito wasn't staying with him tonight, but rather he was at his Dad's. Joshua lay for hours on his bed, listening to Poison on replay.

 

--------------------------

 

"So...Jeonghan's pretty much got a boyfriend...as such?" Seungcheol said over the phone to Joshua. Joshua was groggily bent over his bench, trying to concerntrate on how long thr green tea in his mug had been stewing; even if it was over three minutes and his tea then tasted like cat's piss, he'd force it down anyway. He needed something to wake him up. Big day ahead.
"Yeah." For the last forty-five minutes Joshua had been having a catch-up with Seungcheol; the last twenty minutes alone had been devoted to Jeonghan and his new line of "work".
"Are you sure it'll get sexual?" Seungcheol asked about Junhui.
"Oh yeah. Trust me, I'm an expert in this stuff." Joshua replied. "And you know what Hannie's like."
Seungcheol hummed. "How's Kaito?"


"Thanks for asking." Joshua tried the tea. It was revolting. He gulped it down and winced at the burn. "Ask me about Millie and I'll punch you in the face."


"Through the phone?" Seungcheol retorted.


"Cheol." Joshua sighed through his nose, his eyes slipping closed despite him wanting them to stay open.


"Answer my question." Seungcheol pushed him, his nature still warm.


"Yeah, he's good. Everything's good." Joshua groaned. The tea really was disgusting. "I didn't sleep last night."


"Why not?" Seungcheol asked.


"I just couldn't." Joshua poured the tea drown the sink, careful of the tea leave dregs, before throwing the sodden herbal mess into the rubbish bin. He went through to the sitting room and laid down on the couch. He felt fucking awful. Somewhere in the back of his head, "Poison" played merrily along.


"You got much on today?" Seungcheol resorted to instead.


"Three clients." Joshua answered. He kept the TV turned off and he got thinking about Drummer and the cocaine that he kept hidden in the wardrobe. Some of that would be useful. Not everyone gets addicted to the addictive on the first time; alcohol, drugs, sex. What does that class Camille as? A voice in the back of his head said. If she doesn't come on that list, what is she then?


"Ah well, at least you can space it out." Seungcheol attempted.


"No, no, it's a foursome." Joshua corrected Seungcheol's line of thought.


"Shit...right." Seungcheol summed it up pretty well.


"Yeah."


"Is it just you?"


"Yeah."


"....You're doing it at once with three men?" Seungcheol checked, half weak.


"Yeah."


"Right." Seungcheol's tone went slightly higher-pitch from shock. Joshua actually smiled to himself. Poor Cheol, he thought.


"You got that window fixed yet?" Seungcheol asked.


"Nope."


"How the fuc - why is it not fixed?" Seungcheol demanded. "First it's the hole in your bathroom wall and then it's your window." 


"I told Matty he's responsible for it, so he's paying. I'll see him later to get the money." Joshua explained.


"Don't kill yourself with the sex. See you later."


"Bye, Cheol."

 

------------------------------

 

"Hey -" Joshua opened the door and before him on the doorstep stood Jeonghan, Junhui, and someone else that Joshua didn't know. He looked at them. He scoffed. Really?
"If you really expect this of me it's three times the money. One hour is £600, and it's £600 per person. That's £1,800 by itself. With the three of you doing this shit it's £5,400." He said darkly.


"What are you on about?" Jeonghan said sweetly.


"I've got three men coming at eleven 'o' clock - it's eleven 'o' clock and I've got three men on my doorstep and you'd better hope sure as fuck it's - did you, like, seriously?!"

Joshua growled at Jeonghan. "Answer me one - simple - fucking - question. Did you and these two other idiots pretend to be clients wanting me to have sex with them?"


"No."


"Are you sure?"


"Sort of positive." Jeonghan smiled a smile as sweet as his tone.


"Oh, fuck me..." Joshua leant against his doorway, covering his face with his hands.


"Is everything alright, Shua?" Junhui asked, his Korean properly spoken and pronounced and flawless. 


"No money for me? Get off my doorstep." Joshua shooed them away from his front door, but the third guy he didn't recognise mouth's twitched up at the corners.
"Is this the hooker?" He said to Jeonghan, jabbing his thumb in Joshua's direction.


"Minghao, shut up." Jeonghan said neatly.


"Call me what you want." Joshua said. "Escort, man-whore, prosititute, molly, sex-worker, gigilo, hookers, slappers - I don't care what you call me. That's just the semantic."
Minghao's eyes went up and down Joshua slowly, undressing him, the thing like a smile still making one side of his mouth curve up slightly.


"He's cute." Minghao said to Joshua.


"Fucking look at me." Joshua put to Minghao. He really wasn't happy. "Who the hell are you?"


"See how his eyes widen when he gets pissed?" Jeonghan pointed out to Juhui.


"Enough." Joshua warned him. 


"Why enough?" Minghao stepped forwards, his hands in the pockets of his black cords.


If Joshua had anything to say for Minghao, he had a thin tapered face with flawless light oat-meal colour skin, monolids without surgery, a flat nose that got thicker towards the tip - more Asian looking thant Junhui's Serbian-like nose - with a cupid's bow mouth. He body was thin, but when it comes to men, that never means anything very much. Joshua looked at him.


"Fuck off." He said, eye-to-eye with Minghao. At his words, Jeonghan exclaimed behind him and Junhui looked a bit lost, but Minghao's tipped nearly imperceptibly to the side, and he sucked the edge of his bottom lip into his mouth. 


"What if I don't care?" Minghao said softly. Not "we", including Jeonghan and Junhui. "I". 


"One time." Joshua replied, grasping Minghao's chin in his fingers and pulling him forward. Minghao smirked against Joshua's mouth as they met; their lips pressed together with a gentle stick, and Minghao's hand went into Joshua's hair. Joshua thought it was a bit early, but his knees nearly went out from beneath him as he felt the graze of Minghao's teeth and the tip of his tongue for a moment against his lips, before Minghao's teeth gently bit and gnawed at Joshua's lower lip as they continued to kiss in the doorway. Somewhere, it had started to pour down rain, and the morning had been foggy enough, but now it was an dense and as thick as cigarette smoke. 


"Forgive me, even if it's just temporary." Minghao suddenly spoke against Joshua lips, pulling him up tight against his own body, one hand in his hair and the other at the small of his back.


"Well, that's stupid." Joshua said to Minghao, pushing him away and purposely reasing for Junhui over Jeonghan.


Junhui was easy to kiss, the Chinese man letting him take control.


"Now all of you fuck off." Joshua said, letting his nails graze down Junhui's neck, before pushing him away, walking back through his front door, and slamming it shut.
He couldn't help but have this feeling that Junhui would use him like a sex doll, Minghao would come way to close to comfort, and it wouldn't be long until Jeonghan wasn't dressed up and kept undercover anymore.

 

----------------------------

 

Xu Minghao has the most fantastic nip-libbling technique -


Joshua paused, and stared down at what he wrote. He couldn't believe it. Nip-Libbling? Actually nip-libbling?


He backspaced on the written sentence and corrected the grammatical fuck-up.


Xu Minghao has the most fantastic lip-nibbling technique.


Joshua continued onwards.


Once he starts doing it, you're trapped. You can't move, can't really breathe. You're just lost with him pressed up against you. You could come on the spot with him doing that, but your head's too empty; it's blissful. Sometimes clients won't give you everything, and you won't give them everything, the first time around. But with Junhui and Minghao and I it just happened; there was no thought, no pretence, no past tense. It just happened, hot and conditional.


I'm too far out of the city up here in Seongbuk-Dong for them to easily haunt me. You can't just do a drive-past at Midnight. It's a six kilometer highway from Seoul and a semi-private entranceway with a toll fee to everyone that isn't residents of the area.


It's not as transparent as you think. 


I'm a whore and Jeonghan's trying to light New York city up after dark.

Chapter Text

"Bambi? Where are you?" Joshua said hurriedly into the phone, ignoring Seong-hun as he called out to him. "Look, can you see any of those little toiletries they have? Shampoo bottles or something? Tell me the name on the packaging."


"I can't believe I can't remember the name." Bambi stuttered out, her voice broken by her crying. "Ah - it says "Vine Luxury"."


"Ok, ok, the Vine Hotel in Itaewon district." Joshua said to her. "I'm coming, ok? I'll be there soon, just don't let him get through the bathroom door - keep it locked. I'm coming."

 

-------------------------

 

Half-Hour Earlier:

Seong-hun whistled with Joshua, looking at Jeonghan's online photography portfolio that he had constructed between Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr and Fred's official website, plus the website of hippy-dippy and yuppy magazines that the things designer he photographed were featured in. Seong-hun had made Joshua scroll down so he could see Joshua in the wig and the late 60's make-up and the leopard-skin print dress. 


"You look amazing!" Seong-hun said to Joshua, taking an intent view of Joshua's body and his face.


"Yeah?" Joshua felt slightly abashed.


"Yeah." Seong-hun replied supportfully, patting his shoulder. "You know what it's like for me to see, right?"


Joshua raised an eyebrow. "Classy."


"What do you mean "classy"?" Seong-hun put to him with a grin. They were both sitting on Joshua's bed, underneath the covers even though they were both fully dressed. "It's funky, it's degrading, it's political - crass and glamorous and it does things to your head. That's what the sixties and the seventies were like. I'd know - I was alive then."
"You -" Joshua broke off, laughing. "You're really not nice to yourself about your age, Seong-hun."


Seong-hun shrugged. "I'm an old fart; been like that for years." 


"What does that make me then?" Joshua retorted, closing the lid of his laptop.


"Gorgeous young lover that I do not deserve." Seong-hun kissed him, his fingertip tracing along Joshua's jaw-line.


Joshua groaned as his phone rang. "Bedside draw." He laughed as Seong-hun pushed him down onto the bed and moved over his body on the bed, their chests pressing together as Seong-hun fished the virbating device out of the draw.


"Will you do a cover of "One Last Time" by Ariana Grande for me?" Camille asked.


Joshua couldn't believe he was actually hearing from her. He hadn't spoken to her since the day that he was at Fred's and he heard "Poison" playing on the radio. "I'm not a singer."


"You're not that bad."


"Millie." Joshua said.


"Baby." Camille implored.


"No way." Joshua responded with no need for decision whatsoever.


"Yes way." Camille insisted.


"I'm hanging up." Joshua warned.


"Get fucked, then." Camille told him matter-of-factly.


"Cow." Joshua threw his phone across the room and it landed neatly on the couch.


"Sounds like she loves you a lot." Seong-hun smiled affectionately, but something hid under the surface. Joshua realized he had probably just slammed their age difference into Seong-hun's face; if there was anything that made Seong-hun trip, it was their twenty-four year age difference.


"I'll let you go on that one." Joshua said huffily, staring at his phone across the other side of the enormous room on the couch, before looking back to Seong-hun. "I'm not letting her get to me."


"Is she a friend?"


"She was until she hit me so hard in the head I was throwing up everywhere and I passed out." Joshua told Seong-hun, who suddenly looked troubled.


"Why did she hit you?"


"I got into a fight with her at a fish-themed party that we had for a friend of ours, a Welsh guy called Matty."


"What's Welsh?" Seong-hun asked.


"It's a tiny little native country in the UK next to England." Joshua said. "Their thing is mostly Pagans sacrificing Catholic Priests in UNESCO historically protected caves and rivers, daffodils, leeks, poverty caused by everything industrial been closed off by the English and a habit...they have this thing where holding grudges sustains them in some fucked-up way. Hating the Irish, hating the Germans, hating the English - they're pretty ethno-nationalistic but are pretty nice to Muslim immigrants; there's practically a banner at the Welsh border saying "Welcome all who worship Allah"."


"I see." Seong-hun said. 


"Sorry." Joshua commented. Seong-hun smiled. "As you can see I've been educated by one of them." he added. Seong-hun laughed. Joshua scoffed a groan as his phone rang again. "It'll only be Camille." He said to Seong-hun. He let the phone ring out, talking to Seong-hun comfortably. He looked over again as it rang again.


"Perhaps you should answer it." Seong-hun told Joshua rather than suggested that matter to him.


"I'm not putting up with her." Joshua threw over his shoulder, going over to the couch.


"Hello?" He answered.


"Jisoo?" A heartbroken voice sobbed. "Jisoo, is that you? It's me, Bambi, but I'm so sorry, I had no idea who to call or what to do -"


"Bambi, Bambi, take a deep breath and tell me what's wrong?" Joshua cut in quickly. He could hear crashing and banging of fists in the background, and a man yelling.
"I'm at this hotel with a guy -" Bambi sobbed harder. "I got in and when I checked the envelope it was a £20 on top but all the rest of fakes; photocopies. He pushed me around and I had to get my clothes off and now I'm locked up in the bathroom -" Bambi suddenly screamed.


"Bambi? Where are you?" Joshua said hurriedly into the phone, ignoring Seong-hun called out to him. "Look, can you see any of those little toiletries they have? Shampoo bottles or something? Tell me the name on the packaging."


"I can't believe I can't remember the name." Bambi stuttered out, her voice broken by her crying. "Ah - it says "Vine Luxury"."


"Ok, ok, the Vine Hotel in Itaewon district." Joshua said to her. "I'm coming, ok? I'll be there soon, just don't let him get through the bathroom door - keep it locked. I'm coming."


"I'm so sorry, I've got to go." 


"Is everything alright? Do you want me to come with you -"


"Uh, no, no, you can't - it's just...a friend, I'm sorry." Joshua gazed at Seong-hun. "It's best if you go home - I can't be around today. I'm sorry, I just can't." Joshua walked out of the room and ran down the stairs and the hallway, trusting Seong-hun to lock up after him. The drive into Seoul CBD was too long, and he fretted desperately behind the wheel, on the phone to Bambi all the while, the Iphone balanced on his thigh.


"What room? Which floor?" Joshua asked as he illegally parked the Jeep in a yellow-lined cab zone and ran up the front steps of the Vine hotel. It was a swish black and glass building, and Joshua couldn't think of it as anything bar revolting right at that moment. Joshua walked right by reception and was ready to get into a fight as three doormen and recpetionists muttered about him just walking through, and if he had been served that morning.


Joshua walked up the third door on the left hand side of the fifth floor, and punched his fist side-on against the door. "Open the door!" Joshua yelled. "The police are coming and I've called the concierge!" He lied, but it didn't matter. "Open the goddamn fucking door!" He hit it harder, his whole body inside turning bitter and black with fear and rage.
"It's ok, he left." A very softly spoken Bambi in a hotel dressing gown opened the door with a quiet click. Her black eye-makeup ran down over her cheekbones, and all her lipstick was worn off, except for a few little red marks at the corner of her mouth.


"Are you alright?" Joshua asked, breathing deeply. He walked across the room and sat with Bambi beside her on the bed. "What actually happened - is this guy one of yours? I'm having a heart-attack."


"I'm so sorry, Jisoo." Bambi said, her face tear-stained and blotchy.


"It's fine, just tell me what happened."


"This guy was great; he was just really quiet, opened the door. I was just about to count the money and he stopped me and I saw that the top note was a £20 and underneath it they were all photocopies - not even very good ones." Bambi rubbed her eyes and her nose, sniffing hardly.


"Is this one from a email you replied to?" Joshua asked. His heart sank as Bambi looked down at her lap, her fingers fidgeting together.


"I knew it."


"He told me to take off my clothes - I wouldn't." Fresh tears fell down Bambi's face as she shook her head. "And he got really angry and he pulled my dress down so I ran to the bathroom and he just kept shouting -" Bambi imploded in on herself, burying her face into her hands.


"Hey, it's ok, it's alright." Joshua put his arms around her and held her close, rubbing her back and resting his head on top of hers as she sobbed into the crook of his neck and shoulder. "It's ok." He murmured. "It's alright."


"Come on, we'd better go, he might come back." Joshua said to Bambi.


"Oh, of course!" More tears fell down the young girl's face. Joshua's insides clenched at the memory of how she wasn't even twenty yet.


"It's alright, it's fine, just get it together." Joshua told her. He scoured the room and found a tiny jersey-fabric black dress on the floor. He picked it up and like the child Bambi virtually was, she let him slip the wool dressing gown off her tiny, skinny body and she rose her arms up into the air and she let him slip the fabric dress down over her body. He saw on the underside of her arm a huge, mottled scar with dark purple veins, dead and unearthly looking.


"It's from ages ago, I try to cover it up." Bambi suddenly admitted to him, traumatised and light-headed. 


"I didn't mess up your day, did I?"


"No, you didn't Bambi, don't worry about it." He picked up her leather purse and found a lace Bolero inside it, and he slipped it on over her shoulders. He gnawed raw the inside of his lower lip at the lingering memory of the scar and how the day had been; she in tears in a strange hotel bathroom while someone had tried to sexually assault her.


"How's your day been so far?" Bambi sniffed, shivering. Joshua cuddled her into his side as he held onto her bag and they left her room.


"Well he didn't try to assault me so my day's been better than yours. Come on, let's go." He gently rubbed his arm as they huddled into the hotel elevator.


As they drove back to his house all the way in Seongbuk-Dong, Joshua held Bambi's hand as she fell asleep in the passenger seat of the Jeep, their hand resting together on the console as Joji played softly from the Spotify app on Joshua's phone and he steered the car with his left hand.


"You should re-think this." Joshua said to Bambi as they drove into an underpass.


"Look, I know I fucked up, but I can change, I can get like you -" Bambi spoke.


"No, no, no, you can't!" Joshua cut her off hurriedly. "That's exactly the issue that destroys you in this job - you can't let it take over you, you can't let it change you." He squeezed her hand tighter at the sight of her; Bambi had no idea how beautiful she looked, even with her make-up and her hair destroyed, eyes red and raw and illuminated colour as the lights of the underpass glowed over their skin, hot and honey in colour, illuminating her and illuminating the inside of the Jeep.


"I need you to tell me all about this guy so I can tell Gerda and the other madams that she knows and every other club security staff in the city." Joshua told Bambi.


Bambi shifted in her seat, resting her head against Joshua's shoulder. "Can I maybe stay with you, tonight?" She asked.


Joshua rested his head against hers, her thick hair running over his mouth. "You don't need me to answer that." He said to her, giving her hand a squeeze. "I'll look after you."

 

------------------------

 

Maybe that fight Camille and I had has gone to change people's lives for the better. When we got inside Bambi asked me if she could play a song on her phone while she had a bath. She's really cautious of disturbing anyone. I told her it was fine, and you could say I was a creep for hanging around outside the bathroom door, but it was because I heard her giggling about the hole in the wall with the sponge stuffed into it, and because she was listening to "Poison" by Camille and the rest of the band on replay for a good forty minutes.


Joshua put fresh pillowcases on the pillows of his bed as Bambi walked around the professional bedroom in her size 0 bra and knickers, a colour that reminded Joshua of mint-chocolate ice-cream. She searched inside his wardrobe, and he heard her murmur to herself about his "work clothes and home clothes".


Bambi had pulled on one of his shirts - a simple white-cotton one - and she had tried it on with a pair of pyjama pants, but she was so skinny that she could fit both of her legs down one trouser leg, and in no way was Joshua fat or bought clothes that were too big for him. Bambi curled up and went to sleep on the left side of the bed, both her arms beneath the pillow like a genie as she fell asleep on her side, her legs kinked and intertwined with one another. Joshua thought to himself sadly how much she looked like a fourteen or a fifteen year old over a nineteen year old when she slept; she was someone's little girl, someone's daughter. And clearly no one gave a fuck about her at all.


I know the job has taken over my life, and now it's taking over other peoples. But there's one thing that's normal about m