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Steady Now

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x

 

 

 

The house smells of mold.

 

Kyungsoo steps inside and his body immediately shivers against the cold bouncing off the gray walls surrounding him. It’s concerning to say the least, thinking about the fact that people have to live in here, especially during winter.

 

The entrance hall is large. There’s a magnificent chandelier hanging from the ceiling and Kyungsoo, once again, thinks that with a little bit of time and money, this house could be turned into something beautiful.

 

He tightens his hold on the bags and walks further inside, following the sounds that seem to come from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. The floorboards creak underneath his shoes and he almost trips over a broken racing car on the ground.

 

Whenever he comes here, it’s like he steps into another world.

 

It’s almost like time has stopped here because the furniture is still so old and the paintings are almost ancient and that one light flickering at the end of the hall hasn’t been fixed in over a year.

 

And there’s still a stain in the blue carpet from when four-year-old Kyungsoo had played with a bottle of bleach that someone had forgotten to put away and one of the caretakers knocked it out of his hands before the rim managed to touch his curious lips.

 

He takes a few steps into the hallway just as a shadow suddenly steps out from around the corner, making both Kyungsoo and the person jump at the same time.

 

“Oh dear!” The woman gasps, her hand clutching at her chest. “You scared me.”

 

“I’m sorry.” Kyungsoo gives her a meek smile.

 

“Kyungsoo.” The old woman smiles, stepping closer to pat his cheeks with her cold, wrinkled hands. “We haven’t seen you here in a long time.”

 

Kyungsoo bows his head, feeling bad about what she just said because she’s right.

 

It has been three months after all. “Life has just kept me really busy lately.” He admits with the attempt of an apologizing smile on his face.

 

The woman nods, the corners of her lips turning upwards as she gives him the usual once over, as if to check that everything’s still in one piece. “I’m sure it has.”

 

Her name is Soojin and she’s the main caretaker here, being the oldest and having been working in the house ever since it was founded. She looks a lot older than the last time Kyungsoo had seen her. Her cheeks seem a little sullen but Kyungsoo smiles back brightly because he has seen her lift barrels in a way no woman her age is able to and Soojin is simply destined to reach a century. He refuses to believe otherwise.

 

Kyungsoo acts like he doesn’t notice how much her frail hands are shaking when she pulls them back.

 

“I brought you guys some stuff.” Kyungsoo says to distract himself, pointing at the bags in his hands. “It’s not much...”

 

“Oh, Kyungsoo.” She shakes her head with a disapproving look on her face. “You have to stop spending the money you earn on us all the time.”

 

“It’s not like I was going to spend it on better things.” He points at one of the bags with his chin. “There’s meat in there, we should probably put that in the fridge.”

 

He helps putting away all the food he bought for them on his way here since Soojin has a herniated disk in her back that makes it painful to move. She scolds him with every new item he pulls out of the bags but he just laughs it off because it’s always like this with her. She never stops bickering but it’s just another thing about her versatile personality that makes her so easy to love.

 

It makes him feel better once he’s done filling the fridge and the cabinets, knowing that they’re filled to the brim for the time being and that no one has to go to bed with an empty stomach.

 

“You’re an angel, Kyungsoo.” She calmly states and Kyungsoo acts like he didn’t hear it.

 

He doesn’t want to hear stuff like that.

 

“Where are the others?” He asks instead, finally noticing the absence of the other caretakers.

 

“They went to town to take care of some paperwork.” The woman explains, a grim expression settling on her otherwise peaceful face, unnoticeable to everyone else’s eyes.

 

But not to Kyungsoo’s.

 

“What happened?” Kyungsoo asks. “Are they giving you a hard time again?”

 

“Everything’s fine, don’t worry.” She waves him off but her smile doesn’t reach her eyes. “You lost weight again, sweetheart. When will you start taking care of yourself?”

 

“No, something’s up.” Kyungsoo acts like he didn’t hear what she said. It isn’t like he doesn’t hear that every time he comes here. “What is it this time? Did they cut off the money again?”

 

“Kyungsoo.” Soojin sighs and starts walking out of the kitchen. “You need to learn to mind your own business.” She chuckles at her own sassiness and it’s incredibly cute and Kyungsoo just sighs because he can’t really be mad around that woman.

 

“Who’s here nana?” Someone shouts from upstairs and Kyungsoo immediately recognizes it to be little Naeun’s voice.

 

“Kyungsoo came to visit! Come down and say hello!”

 

An excited squeal is heard. “Taeil! Kyungsoo oppa is here!” And then it sounds like an entire herd of elephants is running through the house when really, it’s just two pairs of little feet running across the wooden floor, racing each other to get first to Kyungsoo.

 

He walks out of the hallway and back into the entrance hall where he barely has enough time to turn around before he gets tackled by two balls of excitement clad in colorful pajamas.

 

“Oppa!” Naeun screams and wraps her arms around Kyungsoo’s neck tightly when he lifts her up.

 

“H-Hyung, d-did you bring some t-toys?” The four-year-old boy who ran down along with Naeun asks.

 

“Taeil!” Soojin scolds the little boy that’s clinging to one of Kyungsoo’s legs. “That is very rude.”

 

“Hyung...” The boy pouts at him and Kyungsoo just chuckles, reaching down to pat his fluffy hair while he holds onto Naeun’s back who is clinging to him like a koala.

 

“I did but I will give them to you only if you share with everyone else. Not like last time.” Kyungsoo says and the kids both nod enthusiastically.

 

“We missed you Kyungsoo oppa.” Naeun mumbles against his shoulder and Kyungsoo feels a pang of guilt in his chest at the sadness in her cute little voice. “Did you miss us too?”

 

“Of course I did.” He mumbles and holds her a little tighter.

 

“T-Then why do you n-never visit us anymore?” Taeil asks.

 

They’re both just kids, they wouldn’t know just how miserable their words make him feel. “Hyung is working really hard so he can buy you guys nice things.” He explains, hoping to make them smile again. He gulps and looks up, only to be met with Soojin’s eyes that are filled with some kind of pain he hasn’t ever seen there before.

 

The woman clears her throat before Kyungsoo can open his mouth to question it. “Why don’t you go and get the others so you can play with your new toys?”

 

“You’re not going to leave?” Naeun asks, reluctant to let go while Taeil has already sprinted upstairs to call the other kids.

 

“No, I’m here, don’t worry.” He reassures and rubs her back comfortingly.

 

But even after that, the four-year-old refuses to let go, resting her head on Kyungsoo’s shoulder tiredly while sitting on his lap as she watches all the other kids unpack their toys.

 

The haunted look on Soojin’s face never leaves, despite her trying to cover it up with excited smiles whenever one of the kids shows her their new toys and Kyungsoo grows increasingly anxious with every passing minute.

 

It’s an hour later, when Naeun has fallen asleep on his lap and the kids have cleaned up their mess and left to get ready for dinner that the other caretakers come back from town.

 

Kyungsoo goes upstairs and carefully tucks the little girl in her bed, pressing a kiss against her cheek when she whines at the loss of contact.

 

When he comes back two of the female caretakers are talking to Soojin in the kitchen but they quieten down once they notice him, turning to face him with big smiles as they greet him with tight hugs that feel as familiar as the comfort of holding a sibling in your arms.

 

“You’ve been gone for too long!” Joohyun scolds after pulling back to look him up and down as well and Kyungsoo tries not to feel offended because all of them are acting like Kyungsoo can’t take care of himself when he’s out of their sight.

 

Seulgi snorts, reaching her hand out to run it through his hair. “What’s up with that hairstyle? I didn’t know you were into that idol stuff.”

 

Kyungsoo swats her hand away and fixes his hair back, grumbling. “Sehun made me do it. It’s only temporary anyways.”

 

“I think it looks good.” Joohyun chuckles. “The red makes you look dangerous. Like a rocker, you know.”

 

Kyungsoo rolls his eyes and tries not to blush but given the way the girls start cooing at him he fails miserably.

 

There’s something strange about their expressions. He waits for either of them to say something; when strangely everything goes quiet but no one seems to know what to say.

 

“Alright, what’s going on?”

 

The smile slips right off Joohyun’s face. “What do you mean?”

 

“Something’s wrong.” Kyungsoo says exasperatedly. “I’m not stupid, okay? So, just tell me before I find out on my own. What were you two doing in town?”

 

“Just some paper work-“ Seulgi starts but Kyungsoo shakes his head.

 

“What paper work?”

 

It’s silent for a moment, with Joohyun frowning at the ground and Soojin leaving the kitchen silently.

 

Seulgi takes a deep breath before her shoulders sag, her face falling right along. “They... sold it.”

 

Kyungsoo squints his eyes when she doesn’t continue but he feels like he already knows what’s about to come. “Sold what?”

 

And then Seulgi looks up, with teary eyes and a dejected smile on her face.

 

“The orphanage.” 

 

 

x

 

 

He doesn’t know much about how it happened. Soojin tells him that someone knocked on the door in a cold night and when they opened it, Kyungsoo was there on the doorstep, huddled up in many layers of blankets.

 

Pretty cliché.

 

He wasn’t registered at the local community, there was no birth certificate and no hospital had any records of his birth. It was like he had just... appeared there.

 

His biological mother had given birth to him on her own, probably kept her pregnancy a secret, since having a child before marriage was one of the worst things that could happen to a young woman - according to society.

 

There had been a note in the blankets, saying that the mother never wanted to have anything to do with Kyungsoo, to make sure that Kyungsoo wouldn’t go looking for her once he was old enough.

 

They told him everything they knew about him and Kyungsoo never went looking for her.

 

They named him and raised him, gave him a home until he turned eighteen because unlike some of the luckier kids in their orphanage, Kyungsoo never got adopted.

 

And he’d like to say that despite his harsh past he grew up to have a satisfying adulthood but he can’t because it’s not true.

 

Because no matter how hard Kyungsoo tries to forget, how much he tries to ignore the fact that he doesn’t have a family, growing up in an orphanage kind of messed him up in a lot of ways.

 

No matter how great the Cheonguk Orphanage was, the eighteen years Kyungsoo spent there were filled with more sadness than happiness.

 

It was a constant cycle of hoping and being let down, people stepping into his life only to leave him again. No one ever stayed and Kyungsoo as a child felt left alone no matter how many children and caretakers were around him.

 

His friends got adopted and Kyungsoo was left behind, not really understanding why they got to leave and he didn’t. Caretakers came and went and since he was nothing but a little child, he got attached way too quickly to anyone that promised some sense of warmth and love. Kyungsoo remembers feeling lost whenever one of his favorite caretakers left and suddenly someone new came along. He was expected to like those strangers and trust them. And then, after several months when Kyungsoo finally started opening up to them, they were gone.

 

This happened year after year, so one day he just stopped caring about all those people, stopped forming human bonds, really. Of course he didn’t understand it back then because him shutting people out meant he didn’t get hurt and that was all that mattered to him. But thinking about it now, he knows that it was an automatic self-defense mechanism, something he couldn’t have controlled even if he wanted to and now that he’s twenty-four years old, he can hardly undo that mindset.

 

Once he turned eighteen Kyungsoo left the orphanage and the government supported him through his years in college but he used to live on stale rice for months because there was not enough money for anything else.

 

But despite all of that, Kyungsoo managed to somewhat keep his life on track.

 

He graduated from college with a degree in international business management, has an apartment and an average job and he figures he’s doing better than the rest of people who grew up like him; the ones who started making wrong decisions once they left the safety of the orphanage.

 

He’s certainly not doing great, but he’s doing alright.

 

And that’s pretty much all he expects from life at this point.

 

 

 

 

 

“And then I was like, fuck outta here you bitch, I’m not paying for that shit.” Sehun talks with his mouth full with a bagel, crumbs flying everywhere and sticking to his expensive tie. “The nerve! I swear! First she throws her drink in my face because I refused to kiss her and then she expects me to pay for her stupid cab.”

 

Kyungsoo is only half listening, absently reading through the newspaper while Sehun keeps blabbering about his escapades from the weekend.

 

After his visit at the orphanage yesterday and hearing what was about to happen to it, Kyungsoo can’t stop thinking about it. He can’t get the hopeless look on the girls’ faces out of his mind either.

 

The orphanage is all they have, the children who never got adopted.

 

Some people say that for an orphan, every day spent at an orphanage is one day too much.

 

But Kyungsoo doesn’t agree with that, at least not when it comes to Cheonguk. Because there, the caretakers are always the same. Soojin, Seulgi and Joohyun have been working there for a couple years now and together with the children, they’re a family on their own. They play with them, read them books, send them off to school. They give them all their love.

 

It’s better than those foster families who are only in it for the money.

 

They have worked so hard to keep it up and running for those kids and it’s been going so well for the past few years. At least as well as it was possible, given the fact that they have always been tight on money because people care more about the rich and the economy and their investments rather than people in need.

 

And actually, they had seen this coming.

 

Kyungsoo isn’t sure why he’s so surprised.

 

But he’s just so... bitter. Those kids are going to get separated from the only people that they trusted to never abandon them.

 

He’s been visiting the kids at the orphanage for a couple of years now, has helped them out as best as he could even though he has a shitty office job with an even shittier salary.

 

“Dude! Are you listening to me?” Sehun’s voice rips him out of his thoughts.

 

Kyungsoo pushes the paper away tiredly, rubbing at his throbbing temples. “I’m sorry. I’m kind of tired.”

 

“What’s wrong with you?” The younger asks. “You’ve been out of it the entire day.”

 

After being roommates at college they both somehow managed to get a job at the same company (which Kyungsoo is silently glad about because he’s not good at making friends and it’s a miracle that Sehun is still putting up with him to this day).

 

Kyungsoo isn’t easy to befriend. He never wanted to be friends with Sehun, or with anyone for that matter, but Sehun was really persistent and Kyungsoo couldn’t get him to go away no matter how hard he tried. He eventually gave up and now, years later, Sehun is still here, often reminding him that he’s not going to leave even though Kyungsoo has never voiced out his fear of being left.

 

It’s not even a fear per se, it’s just an expectation, something that comes as naturally as knowing that it will start to rain when there are dark clouds in the sky.

 

Kyungsoo sighs. “There’s some trouble at the orphanage. It’s kind of stressing me out.”

 

Sehun’s face turns serious at this. “What happened?” He asks like he already knows because Sehun loves the orphanage too.

 

Or maybe he just loves Joohyun’s smile but Kyungsoo likes to imagine that his friend likes it for everything else it stands for.

 

“The government sold it.”

 

“What?” Sehun gapes, laughing humorlessly when Kyungsoo shakes his head. “What do you mean they sold it? Who did they sell it to?”

 

“To some company.”

 

“But... why would they do that? That house can’t even be worth that much, what the fuck are they selling it for?”

 

Some of the other employees in the office turn their heads at Sehun’s outburst. Kyungsoo doesn’t really get it, they should be used to Sehun’s nonexistent shame.

 

“It’s not the house itself. They sold the entire property. It seems like there was some kind of voting that happened behind the scenes because people apparently think their taxes should be spent on other things instead.” Kyungsoo grits his teeth, thinking about faceless men in expensive suits who talk about shares and stock exchanges during their shallow dinner parties.

 

There’s plenty of better properties they can have in the city, Kyungsoo know this; so it doesn’t make sense to him why they demanded something that’s potentially going to ruin many children’s lives.

 

They don’t care, it’s simple as that.

 

The only thing they care about is money, mergers and acquisitions...

 

“What’s going to happen with the kids?” Sehun asks. “Are they going to place them in another orphanage?”

 

Kyungsoo shrugs. “I doubt it. There are only two other orphanages around here and those are all filled to the brim. Seulgi says they’re going to put them in foster homes.”

 

Sehun makes a pained face. “But...”

 

“I know.” Kyungsoo sighs, gulping at the thought of those foster families that are supposedly picked very carefully and after long and thorough examinations.

 

And then he thinks about one of their kids coming back from one of those foster homes with bruises on his arms.

 

Sehun gnaws at his lower lip for a moment. “What company is buying it?” He wants to know and Kyungsoo knew that question was about to come.

 

“Guess.”

 

“Wait, it’s not Taemin right?” Sehun gapes at him at the thought of their boss being behind the entire affair.

 

Kyungsoo shakes his head. “Close.”

 

And that seems to be all it takes for Sehun to know who he’s talking about. “The Kims?”

 

Kyungsoo nods and his fingers curl into a fist, nails digging into his palms so hard it’s probably going to leave marks. This doesn’t go unnoticed by Sehun, who reaches a careful hand out and curls his fingers around Kyungsoo’s wrist to calm him down.

 

“Why does that not surprise me?” He sighs and rubs his thumb over the back of Kyungsoo’s hand. “Do you think Taemin knows about this though?”

 

Taemin is not only their boss but coincidentally also Kim Youngho’s nephew who is the CEO of the blue-chip company Kim Industries. New owners of the Cheonguk Orphanage.

 

That doesn’t even sound right to the ear.

 

“I don’t think he would care even if he knew.” Kyungsoo utters. “The orphanage doesn’t mean anything to them. “

 

Sehun shrugs. “Dunno... Taemin’s a nice guy. Generally speaking.”

 

“As long as it’s not about money, everyone can be a nice guy.” Kyungsoo replies and Sehun pulls a pained face because Kyungsoo is right.

 

And as if on cue, the elevator doors slide open and Kyungsoo doesn't bother looking up to check who it is; still absorbed in his own thoughts until Sehun digs his elbow into Kyungsoo's side to get his attention.

 

“Speaking of the devil...” He whispers.

 

Kyungsoo looks up and his eyes land on their boss and someone next to him walking into the office.

 

That someone being Jongin, also known as the son of Kim Industries’ owner and conveniently Lee Taemin’s younger cousin.

 

They're chatting together, Taemin’s face relaxed while he’s looking around and greeting his employees with a kind smile. Jongin is wearing the same stoic expression he’s always seen with.

 

Kyungsoo watches how Jongin briefly looks up, when the girl at the front desk greets them. He politely nods his head - completely ignoring the obvious blush on her cheeks - and turns back to listen to Taemin.

 

Taemin reaches out and brushes something off of Jongin's suit and then points at Jongin’s tie, probably telling him to fix it because a moment later Jongin reaches up to secure it around his neck.

 

Kyungsoo hates to admit it but they both look like they were born to wear nothing else but those expensive designer suits and for most people, them being so ridiculously rich would be reason enough to despise them.

 

It is for Sehun. At least when it comes to Jongin, since he doesn’t hesitate to roll his eyes whenever said boy walks past them even though Jongin hasn’t actually done anything to either of them.

 

And maybe that's what's making the entire situation so much more difficult.

 

Jongin might be Kim Youngho’s son but to this day Kyungsoo has yet to see him do anything that would justify calling him arrogant or ignorant.

 

The Kim's son has been working here for almost a year now; started assisting Taemin on his duties right after he graduated from SNU Business School.

 

Taemin's father unexpectedly passed away last year after having suffered a stroke and he needed someone's help to keep the business going. Jongin wasn't only his cousin but also the best graduate of his year that left him to be the safest choice.

 

He remembers how ecstatic everyone was upon receiving the news that Kim Jongin was going to work in their office. How one intern nearly had a nervous breakdown because apparently, Jongin is treated like a hot celebrity among the younger generation which - according to Baekhyun - is extremely reasonable because “Kim Jongin is God’s gift to humanity and all must worship his heavenly beauty.”

 

Kyungsoo didn’t really care about the news all that much but a lot of his co-workers were upset about it (mainly the guys) because they didn’t want a stinking rich brat strutting around at the office all day with all the women swooning over him.

 

And he remembers Jongdae telling him that Jongin’s parents apparently bought him a house in South Africa for his eighteenth birthday.

 

So it’s safe to say that Kyungsoo didn’t really expect much from Jongin.

 

And then Jongin stepped into the office for the first time, introducing himself to everyone politely and all his worries and prejudices turned out to be uncalled for.

 

Jongin is really quiet, not shy but he keeps to himself most of the time and only ever talks when he's with Taemin or Chanyeol.

 

Chanyeol’s a tall guy with big ears who works in in the financial department. He apparently studied along with Jongin and got hired after meeting Taemin at their graduation. Those two are seen together a lot as well and sometimes he can even hear Jongin laugh about something Chanyeol says which he hasn't seen happen with anyone else but the former and Taemin so far.

 

Sometime around August last year Jongin's name was all over the magazines and the internet after getting caught on a date with idol Jung Soojung. It was a huge scandal, with people accusing Soojung for only being after Jongin's money or even worse, that Jongin got her pregnant and thus was forced into the relationship by his parents as not to bring shame upon his family's prestigious name.

 

Because apparently the possibility of them actually liking each other was absolutely ridiculous.

 

Needless to say, Baekhyun wouldn't stop crying about it for as long as the both of them were an item. Kyungsoo isn't sure, because he has better things to do than follow the love lives of others, but he remembers Baekhyun mentioning they broke up a few months ago.

 

There are several people here who are hopelessly infatuated with Jongin and Kyungsoo is pretty sure that Jongin knows it. It's not like they're very subtle about it, with their flirtatious winks or the food and flowers that magically appear on the boy's desk every now and then. Or in Baekhyun’s case, stupid post-its with love declarations pinned to his computer screen.

 

Jongin is probably used to the attention, hence why he doesn't even blink an eye when someone tells his how handsome he is. Having been in the public eye, been admired and praised for his looks all his life. Some of the other employees insist that it's out of arrogance, that he doesn't bother mingling with the "low lives" since he thinks he deserves better. But after being around him for so many months Kyungsoo is pretty sure that Jongin's lack of interest in befriending anyone is probably just because the boy is extremely introverted. There’s no real other explanation as to why he seems to turn down every single person that only remotely tries to get closer to him.

 

Jongin is also really good at what he does. Every project Jongin has worked on turned out to be a success and the boy has some kind of charm that makes it impossible for business partners to reject an offer or a collaboration between their companies. Kyungsoo would know, he's seen it first hand during the few projects Taemin assigned them to work together.

 

But that's about all interaction Kyungsoo has ever had with him. He doesn’t remember ever talking to Jongin outside of their mutual projects let alone outside the office. Truthfully, Kyungsoo doesn’t really talk to anyone apart from Sehun and occasionally Baekhyun outside of work.

 

They can barely be considered colleagues because Kyungsoo can't remember the last time he spoke a word to the boy simply because Jongin doesn't leave his office, at all. He arrives early in the morning, eats his lunch there and leaves way after everyone else has long gone home.

 

“He has to know.” Sehun mumbles once Taemin and Jongin have walked past them, his eyes glued to Jongin’s retreating back. “Don’t you think?”

 

Kyungsoo shrugs. “Probably.”

 

“So? Aren’t you going to give him a piece of your mind?”

 

“What? And get myself fired?” Kyungsoo leans back in his chair, fiddling with the pen in his hand.

 

“Taemin wouldn’t fire you over something like that.”

 

“Maybe not... but there’s no sense in making a scene because of this. It’s not like they’re going to back out of the contract just because I ask them to.”

 

Sehun just his lower lip forward. “Well... what are you going to do then?”

 

“I don’t know.” Kyungsoo sighs and he honestly has lost count of how many times he’s done that today.

 

Sehun, sensing his distress, reaches a hand out to squeeze his shoulder comfortingly. “Hey, it’ll be fine. We’ll figure something out. We underdogs always bounce back, right?”

 

Kyungsoo snorts and nods his head. “Yeah.”

 

x

 

 

“How much time did they give you?” Kyungsoo keeps his voice down to a whisper because the kids are asleep. He’s leaning his head against his arms, watching the way Naeun cutely snuffles in her sleep, snuggling deeper into her pink comforter. A smile pulls at his lips and he gently brushes her wild hair out of her small face.

 

Seulgi is sitting on the other side, holding her head with one hand which squishes her cheek. She looks tired and her hair’s a mess too, which is uncommon of her, as she takes pride in looking decent at all times. Now it’s just tucked up into a messy bun but Kyungsoo thinks it looks better like this. Makes her look more approachable. “Three months.” She whispers.

 

Kyungsoo nods quietly, his eyes sweeping over the room, the makeshift beds on the floor, all occupied with kids between the age of three and twelve. A few of them will be leaving for foster homes in a couple of days and a few will be coming back because they didn’t like their families.

 

None of them ever like those families.

 

They insist that the people at the orphanage are their family, which sadly isn’t the case, but Kyungsoo understands them.

 

He used to feel like that too, when he couldn’t sleep at night and one of the caretakers sat beside him to tell him a story until he fell asleep. He knew they were going to leave but as a lonely kid he took any kind of comfort and safety he could get and those caretakers were the only source of warmth he’s ever known in his life.

 

“I don’t know what we’re going to do, Soo.” Seulgi whispers, pursing her lips. “I can’t imagine giving the kids away...”

 

He’s just glad these kids never had to go through that. Soojin is practically their mother, has been here ever since every single one of them arrived at the orphanage. Same goes for Seulgi and Joohyun. They’d never abandon the kids willingly.

 

“I know.” Kyungsoo presses his lips together. “I want to help you guys.”

 

“How are you going to do that?” Seulgi asks, the smile on her lips as sad as the dark bags underneath her eyes. “You barely have enough money to pay your rent, and you’re still paying off your student loans, you idiot.”

 

“I’ll figure something out.” When he looks up he finds Seulgi staring back and he doesn’t like how exhausted she looks, almost like she’s already given up and really, Kyungsoo can’t even find it in himself to blame her.

 

He looks over Seulgi’s shoulder where Taeil is sleeping, an Iron Man action figure clutched to his chest with his legs thrown across the mattress rather ungracefully. He smiles at the sight and then looks back to Naeun who shifts in her sleep and suddenly reaches her tiny hand out to curl her fingers around Kyungsoo’s palm, pulling it closer and holding on tight.

 

“You’ve grown a lot, Soo.” Seulgi murmurs. “I used to be scared that you’d lose the kindness in your eyes. But it’s still there.”

 

“Stop saying that.” Kyungsoo sighs and leans against the bed tiredly. Seulgi and Joohyun were two of the unlucky ones who never got adopted. However, unlike Kyungsoo, who moved out as soon as he turned eighteen, they came back after graduating from college with degrees in nursing and business administration, both things were useful in managing the orphanage.

 

It’s quiet for a few moments, with nothing but the wind outside and the soft snores of the kids filling the silence.

 

“I have something for you.” Seulgi reaches down where she has her bag and pulls something out that looks like a little square paper in the dim lighting of the room. “I think you should have it.”

 

Kyungsoo takes it and pulls it close to his face to look at it. It’s a picture, an old one, and it has a few scratches on it but the faces are recognizable. Two little kids smiling into the camera from where they’re standing in front of a tree, arms thrown over each other’s shoulders.

 

He smiles a little, brushing his thumb over it gently before he sighs tucks it away in the pocket on the inside of his jacket. Seulgi gives him pictures like these with Kyungsoo in them because he doesn’t really have much else that reminds him that he had a childhood at all. “Thank you.”

 

Seulgi nods and smiles down at Naeun when the little girl makes a cute little noise. “She really loves you.” She whispers. “She talks about you all day when you come to visit. Lately... she’s been telling me how she’s going to marry you once she’s grown up. She says she wants to have white horses and pink cupcakes at her wedding. You probably told her you’d bake cupcakes with her, right? She won’t shut up about it.”

 

Kyungsoo smiles but his chest feels a little too tight when he rubs his thumb over Naeun’s hand.

 

He’s going to help them.

 

He has to.

 

 

x

 

 

He goes to work earlier the next morning.

 

The office is empty when he arrives which isn’t surprising since it’s only a quarter past seven and no one ever shows up before eight. The silence is eerie as the rooms are usually filled with sounds of phones ringing and copying machines printing, people chatting and high heels clacking over the marble floors.

 

He’s been working for about twenty minutes when the sound of the elevator doors sliding open makes him jump out of his thoughts, head turning into the direction to see who it is.

 

Jongin must have not noticed him since he walks inside without looking his way. He has earbuds on and there’s a beanie on his head and it looks really odd since he’s also wearing a neat suit. He’s holding something that looks like a cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other and he coughs silently as he walks through the cubicles towards his office.

 

Kyungsoo furrows his eyebrows, confused by Jongin’s attire. The man always looks elegant and professional and his hair slicked neatly back, so seeing him in a beanie with his shoulders slumped feels odd.

 

Once he disappears out of Kyungsoo’s sight the former stares at the space for a few more seconds, still a little confused over Jongin’s entrance before sighing to himself, deciding that he shouldn’t care. He closes the open tabs on his computer and stands up to prepare his documents for today’s meeting and since Sehun will probably arrive late as usual, he prepares Sehun’s as well.

 

He doesn’t hear anyone coming near the copy room over the noise of the copier. He only notices Jongin once the man steps into his line of sight.

 

“Morning.” Jongin says flatly, reaching for the stapler to remove the staples from the bundle of pages he’s holding.

 

“Morning.” Kyungsoo replies, glaring at the copier as if that’s going to make it get the job done faster. It’s not that being in a small room alone with Jongin makes him feel uncomfortable, it’s just that the vibes surrounding Jongin - as if he’s annoyed by any presence around him - make him want to leave as soon as possible.

 

It’s just awkward, since they’ve been working together for nearly a year yet they’re practically strangers. Jongin probably doesn’t even remember that Kyungsoo works here, let alone his name.

 

They walk past each other on a daily basis without acknowledging each other so it’s natural they wouldn’t have anything but the weather to talk about.

 

And then there’s the issue with the orphanage. Kyungsoo’s mind is constantly buzzing, wondering if Jongin actually knows about it and if he knows that Kyungsoo knows but of course, Jongin doesn’t.

 

They stand side by side silently. Jongin is standing a little too close for Kyungsoo’s liking and he’s waiting for his turn on the copier, drumming his fingers against the table and Kyungsoo has never been more annoyed by the fact their boss doesn’t seem to notice that they desperately need another copier.

 

His eyes briefly flicker to the side to see if the man is still wearing his beanie which he isn’t. His dark hair is sitting perfectly, not one single strand giving away that it was being pressed down by a hat minutes earlier.

 

Jongin turns his head to look back at him once he notices Kyungsoo’s eyes on him. Jongin’s eyes scan his face before getting stuck on Kyungsoo’s lips. Kyungsoo frowns and turns his head to gather the copies from the machine, scrambling to hold them all in his hands before he turns around to leave.

 

“Hey,” Jongin stops him with a soft voice and Kyungsoo hesitates, turning his head to look at the man over his shoulder.

 

“Yes?”

 

“You...” Jongin starts, still staring at Kyungsoo’s lips and the latter is seriously getting irritated at this point. Jongin brings his hand up to his own lips and brushes his thumb over the left corner. “You’ve got something there. Might be toothpaste.”

 

Kyungsoo frowns and brings a hand up to rub at the spot Jongin had pointed at, feeling damn stupid all of sudden because this is anything but professional and he really should start checking himself in the mirror before he leaves his apartment.

 

Some of the papers he was holding slip from his grip and fall to the ground. Kyungsoo mentally groans as he kneels down to pick them up which only makes more of the copies fall. Now he groans for real because it’s always too hot in this copy room, he has toothpaste sticking to his face like he’s a helpless child and he can’t get a grip on the papers since they seem to be glued to the ground.

 

Jongin crouches to help Kyungsoo pick up the mess from the floor and Kyungsoo startles, eyes flicking up to stare at Jongin who in return looks up too, frowning when he sees the state Kyungsoo is in.

 

Kyungsoo rubs the back of his hand over his mouth harshly. “Is it gone?”

 

“No.” Jongin has picked up all the copies and presses them against Kyungsoo’s chest. “It’s probably dried. You might want to wash it off.” He raises his eyebrows, like he’s judging Kyungsoo and Kyungsoo feels more than just irritated with the boy’s attitude by now.

 

They both stand up again and for one unnerving moment, look into each other’s eyes. Kyungsoo has to tilt his head up because of the damned height difference.

 

This is probably the first time Kyungsoo is looking at Jongin up close and he doesn’t usually pay attention to anyone’s appearance that much. He doesn’t really care but he knows how everyone considers Jongin to be some kind of sex god and that description has always stopped him from taking a closer look. Nonetheless, he’s not that much of an idiot to deny just how indescribably gorgeous Kim Jongin is.

 

From his dark eyes to his plump lips to the oddly pleasing bump on his nose and his smooth skin that is a tad darker than what most people around here would consider beautiful.

 

Sehun always says how unfair it is; that Jongin wasn’t only born into one of the richest families of the country but is blessed with incredible genes as well.

 

Kyungsoo quickly gets rid of his drifting thoughts and rushes out of the stuffed copy room, feeling annoyed more than anything.

 

He looks ridiculous with the white smear on his skin. Some of it is even on his chin and he groans while he rubs it away with water in the bathroom a moment later.

 

Kyungsoo shakes his head to himself, wondering how someone can be so good at fucking up when his phone rings from where it’s hidden in his pocket. He picks it up instantly when he looks at the caller ID, frowning slightly.

 

“Seulgi?”

 

“Hey. Sorry, did I wake you up?” Seulgi asks. She sounds tired.

 

“No, I’m already at work.” Kyungsoo leans against the sink, stares down at the black tiles on the floor. “Is everything alright?”

 

“Yes, yes everything’s okay.” Seulgi says and then, after a beat, let’s a heavy sigh out.

 

“Actually... It’s not. I’m sorry Kyungsoo, I really hate doing this but I just... I don’t know who else to ask.”

 

“Seulgi.” Kyungsoo rubs his eyes, feeling just as tired as the woman. “Please stop doing this every time. Do you need money?”

 

Seulgi huffs out a laugh but it sounds shaky and she’s probably on the verge of tears. “I just did another monthly payment of Joohyun’s and my tuition, but they want... they’re making us pay half of the rent now because we asked for an extention to stay there longer.”

 

“Seulgi-“

 

“We got a bill for Taeil’s stay at the hospital last month.“ Seulgi mumbles. “I called the health insurance company because there’s no way we can pay that much at once but they want it by the end of the week and I just...”

 

She trails off, clearly tired of speaking, and Kyungsoo tries to keep calm even though he can’t quite believe how much trouble the girls are going through. “How much do you need?”

 

Seulgi doesn’t say anything for a couple of seconds and then Kyungsoo hears her swear quietly. “900.”

 

Kyungsoo winces hard and tries to recall how much money he has on his bank account and how many days there are until he receives his next paycheck.

 

Not soon enough, definitely.

 

“Okay.” He says. “Send me the billing details... I’ll take care of it.”

 

“Kyungsoo...” Seulgi clears her throat. “I’ll transfer about two hundred thousand to your bank account today but I can’t... I don’t have more right now, I’m really sorry. We’ll pay you back next month-“

 

“Stop it.” Kyungsoo interrupts her. “Just send me the bill, okay? Don’t worry about it. I told you I’d always help you guys out, that hasn’t changed.”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“Seulgi...” Kyungsoo sighs and lets his head fall forward tiredly. He tries to figure out what he’s going to do about food for the next week since his paycheck will arrive in ten days.

 

“I’ll send it to your email.” There’s a cry in the background followed by soft hiccups and Kyungsoo wonders which of the kids is crying. He hopes it’s not Naeun.

 

He cares for all of the children there, but Naeun has always had a special place in his heart ever since she clung to him when he first visited them. She refused to let go of him until he left after dinner that night, crying her eyes out for him to stay.

 

She’s so small and Kyungsoo can’t understand how someone could give up on her.

 

He wishes her parents could see her now, how adorable she is, how intelligent, and how beautiful she will be once she’s grown up.

 

“Alright. Do you need anything else?” Kyungsoo asks.

 

“God no.” Seulgi chuckles sadly. “You’re already doing too much. I hate myself for always coming to you with our problems...Come eat dinner with us for now, okay?”

 

“It’s okay -”

 

“I know you don’t have enough money to go grocery shopping.” Seulgi interrupts. “At least until you get your paycheck. Please Kyungsoo.”

 

“Okay.” Kyungsoo steps away from the sink. “I’ll come by tomorrow.”

 

Seulgi sighs but she doesn’t bother arguing with Kyungsoo, knowing all too well how stubborn he can be. “Alright. Thank you, Kyungsoo. Just... thank you.”

 

“It’s fine.”

 

“Alright.” Seulgi clears her throat. “Take care, okay?”

 

“You too. Say hi to the kids for me.”

 

“I will. Love you, Soo.”

 

Kyungsoo stiffens without any reason. “Bye.”

 

 

 

He leaves the bathroom, stuffing his phone into his back pocket. There’s a tightness in his chest that comes back every time one of the girls says those words and Kyungsoo realizes he can’t say it back.

 

Not because he doesn’t love them, because they actually mean the world to him.

 

He just can’t.

 

The first time Joohyun said it to him his heart almost stopped and he started sweating and trembling because she was waiting for him to say it back but his tongue refused to do it.

 

They were hurt at first but soon understood. Even before Kyungsoo realized it was such a big deal to him, they had stopped expecting him to say it back.

 

Kyungsoo thinks they now know they’re the most important people in his life and he hopes that only knowing it is enough for them.

 

He shivers once he enters the break room to grab a cup of coffee. It’s nearing fall and their office definitely doesn’t have the best heater. During winter they all have to place heaters underneath their desks to keep them remotely warm because the floor heater keeps breaking down from being overworked.

 

While the coffee machine brews his coffee his mind drifts off again to the entire situation at hand.

 

Kyungsoo isn’t one to give up as soon as he’s faced with an obstacle but he honestly thinks that this time his hands are tied.

 

What could someone like him do against a person like Kim Youngho?

 

He grabs his cup and turns around to leave since he doesn’t put milk or sugar in it and he probably was too lost in his mind again to notice someone else entering the room. If he would’ve noticed, he wouldn’t have been so startled to see Jongin standing there and he definitely wouldn’t have spilled the entire content of his cup.

 

“Shit!” He curses when the scalding liquid lands on his hand and he quickly turns around to put the cup down, shaking his hand around in the air to cool it off.

 

“Sorry.” Jongin says, grabbing some kitchen towels and handing one to Kyungsoo who takes it with a quick thank you. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

 

“It’s okay.“ Kyungsoo mutters, annoyed with how much his hand is stinging and that he needs to get another cup of coffee and that Jongin snuck up on him for the second time in the span of ten minutes.

 

Jongin squats down to start cleaning the floor and Kyungsoo joins him, wiping the coffee away with tissues that are way too thin and cheap. His hands just end up getting wet.

 

He feels Jongin’s eyes on him and he looks up with a frown, meeting the man’s intense gaze. Jongin’s dark eyes are kind of unsettling so he quickly looks down again. “What? Is there something else on my face?”

 

Jongin simply shakes his head. “No.”

 

“Then stop staring at me.”

 

This seems to surprise Jongin who stops cleaning the floor for a second until Kyungsoo looks up to check if he made the man upset. “I don’t remember you being so clumsy.”

 

“How would you know?” Kyungsoo huffs, his irritation spiking again as his eyes flicker up to meet the other’s.

 

It’s weird. This is the most he’s ever talked to Jongin.

 

And the first time without it being work related, too.

 

And Jongin’s weird. If Kyungsoo was someone else, he’d probably consider Jongin to be kind of rude but he feels like it’s just the way Jongin is. Reserved and well, maybe a little arrogant after all.

 

The timing’s really off though. Because right now Kyungsoo can’t really concentrate on anything else but the fact that Jongin’s dad bought the orphanage. It is a constant reminder at the back of his head that makes inappropriate words burn on the tip of his tongue.

 

He bites down on it to keep them inside.

 

“We’ve been working together for almost a year.” Jongin snorts. He crumples the wet tissues and tries to make them soak up the remaining droplets on the floor.

 

“But we’re not exactly close.” Kyungsoo gets up and throws the tissues away. His cup is practically empty so he throws the remains away and puts in under the coffee machine to refill it.

 

“Yeah. I guess.” Jongin washes his hands. It’s quiet again for a moment. “I’m not great at socializing.”

 

Kyungsoo turns his head and finds that Jongin is leaning against the counter, his arms crossed in front of his chest.

 

With the suit he’s wearing he looks like he’s about to model for Armani and that makes it hard to believe the words that have just left his mouth.

 

“Me neither.” He clears his throat, suddenly very aware of how awkward this is. People their age normally talk about parties or sports but Kyungsoo doesn’t know how to make small talk and he turns tongue tied when Sehun isn’t with him.

 

It doesn’t help that Jongin seems to have the same problem.

 

Or at least that’s what he’s saying. Kyungsoo doesn’t really think that Jongin is shy. Not entirely like Kyungsoo who tends to be awkward and timid in unfamiliar situations or with strangers. Jongin is extremely charming when he wants to be and he has a way with words that leaves everyone gaping but it seems like Jongin choses not to talk to others unless it’s inevitable.

 

Kyungsoo doesn’t really understand him but it’s none of his business anyways.

 

“You seem fine, though.” Jongin says and Kyungsoo looks somewhere else when their eyes meet. “You get along with everyone here.”

 

Kyungsoo shakes his head, reaching for his mug once it’s filled. “I only really talk to Sehun. And maybe Baekhyun, if you squint your eyes. “

 

Jongin suddenly smiles, it’s small and a little restrained. Kyungsoo finds it a little confusing - but it’s a smile nonetheless.

 

“The entire staff wants you to talk to them.” Kyungsoo doesn’t know why he says it. “If you haven’t noticed.”

 

Jongin fills his own cup of coffee, a thoughtful look on his face. “Even you?”

 

“What?”

 

“Do you want me to talk to you too?”

 

Kyungsoo gives him a blank stare, not really knowing what he’s supposed to say. He’s never been particularly interested in being friends with Jongin unlike the others who would do anything to get the man’s attention.

 

Right now, with everything that’s happening with his family and the orphanage, he would actually like it a lot better if he didn’t have to interact with Jongin at all.

 

But Jongin is looking at him oddly, like he knows what Kyungsoo’s thinking. Kyungsoo ends up shrugging, feeling overwhelmed by such a simple question. “I’m pretty boring. You should talk to Baekhyun though, he always has a lot to say.”

 

Jongin’s eyes scan his face intently and Kyungsoo looks at him, contemplating just asking the question that’s tickling at the back of his throat.

 

Does he know about his parents and their deal with the orphanage?

 

Jongin looks like he's about to say something else but he gets interrupted when Junmyeon enters the room.

 

“Oh, hi you two.” The CFO says, looking surprised to see them there. He reaches to grab a cup of coffee, still giving them an odd look.

 

“Good morning.” Jongin greets him and then steps back. “I’ll see you later.” With that, the man leaves the coffee room, not even bothering to give Kyungsoo a second glance which has the latter frowning and staring a little too long at the empty space where Jongin just left.

 

Junmyeon clears his throat and Kyungsoo startles, looking at him only to find the man raising an eyebrow at him, a smile hidden behind the rim of his cup.

 

Kyungsoo frowns. “What?”

 

“Nothing.” Junmyeon shrugs but he’s now wearing a full on smirk.

 

He looks at Junmyeon for another moment before shaking his head and leaving the room too.

 

 

x

 

 

“So, I heard you and Jongin are best friends now.” Sehun is looking at his screen as he talks, hours later after nearly getting fired during the very heated talk he had with Junmyeon in the latter’s office as soon as he arrived.

 

 

“What are you talking about?” Kyungsoo sighs, stapling another pile of sheets together.

 

 

Sometimes he regrets agreeing to share the same work space with Sehun at the office, especially when Sehun is having his moody days and is giving him an attitude for seemingly no reason.

 

 

“Junmyeon said he caught you two in the coffee room earlier.” His best friend looks up from his screen, lifting one accusing eyebrow.

 

 

Kyungsoo scoffs, shaking his head and pressing the stapler with more force than necessary. “We were just grabbing a coffee.”

 

“Yeah, okay.” Sehun rolls his eyes and Kyungsoo tightens his grip on the stapler so he doesn’t throw it at Sehun’s head.

 

As if on cue, Jongin walks out of his office, his eyes trained on the paper he’s holding in his hands. Several heads snap up at his appearance, stopping whatever they were doing in order to stare at Jongin walking through the office.

 

Sehun squints his eyes and observes the man until he’s out of sight. Kyungsoo just sighs at his behavior, like he’s expecting Jongin to pull out a knife and attack him any moment. Sehun stares at the space where Jongin disappeared around the corner for a while before he suddenly freezes and turns to look at Kyungsoo with wide eyes.

 

“I just had the best idea.”

 

“No.”

 

“Soo!” Sehun looks determined as he gets up from his seat to walk over to where Kyungsoo is sitting and trying to work. “I know how we can save the orphanage.”

 

“No-” Kyungsoo stops, only belatedly making sense of Sehun’s words. He slowly looks up and gives Sehun a dubious look. “We’re not kidnapping the Kims.”

 

“What?” Sehun looks disturbed for a moment. “What is wrong with you?”

 

Kyungsoo shrugs and presses the stapler down for the last pile of sheets.

 

“I’m thinking about Jongin.” Sehun mumbles quietly, leaning closer.

 

“Good for you.” Kyungsoo huffs. “So is everyone else.”

 

 

“Will you shut up for a second?!” His best friend hisses before rolling his eyes and leaning even closer, like he’s about to tell him a huge secret. “Look, since you and Jongin are best friends now, for which, fuck you-“

 

“We barely talked-“

 

“Whatever. Seriously though. You need to become friends with him.”

 

“No.“

 

“Kyungsoo! He’s our only option at this point! If you manage to be friends with him, you can tell him about the orphanage and he will convince his parents to break the deal.”

 

They look at each other quietly for a couple of seconds while Kyungsoo toys with the idea.

 

He doesn’t like it.

 

“No.”

 

“Why not?!” Sehun groans and closes his eyes in frustration. “Give me one good reason why you think it’s not a good idea!“

 

“I’m not going to use anyone like that.” Kyungsoo frowns at him. “Also, did you forget that I can’t really talk to people? Let alone make them want to be my friend.”

 

“Okay, first of all, we’re talking about a Kim here, okay? Do you seriously think he’d think twice about using someone if it was for his own benefit?” Sehun raises his eyebrows at him. “His parents are buying an orphanage! They are well aware that those kids are going to be practically homeless because of them and they don’t give a single fuck! Why should you care about that prick’s feelings?”

 

Kyungsoo takes a deep breath and reaches for his water bottle, taking a big gulp. “I’m still not going to do it. We’ll find another way.”

 

“No we won’t. This is as good as it’s going to get.” Sehun takes the bottle away from him. “You know the 20th anniversary celebration on Friday? The Dinner? That’s our chance. We always go out for drinks after dinners like that. I’ll get Chanyeol to make sure that Jongin comes too. That’s your chance to talk to him.”

 

“I’m going home after the dinner though.”

 

“No, you’re not! Hey, don’t even think about that! You’ll have a couple of drinks, you’ll loosen up and then you’re going to fucking talk to Jongin and make him fall in love with you.”

 

“Are you an idiot?” Kyungsoo’s head snaps up at Sehun’s words. “Forget it, why am I even talking to you?” He gets up and grabs the documents to hand them over to Jongdae.

 

Sehun follows him and Kyungsoo clenches the documents harder in frustration. “Okay, maybe the falling in love part was a bit exaggerated but, come on Kyungsoo, you have to admit that it’s a good idea. At least give it a try! Hey, come on, stop.” Sehun holds his arm and stops him from walking. His face softens into something more serious. “You don’t have enough money to help them forever, Kyungsoo; and I’m practically broke too... I care about those kids too, okay? If you have a better idea, great, but I really doubt you have one.”

 

Kyungsoo glares at Sehun some more before his shoulders sag. His head’s pounding again because Sehun is an idiot but he’s also right. Kyungsoo doesn’t have another idea, in three months the orphanage will be the Kim’s property and Kyungsoo will have to watch the kids get placed in different foster homes that will treat them like property as well. It breaks his heart just imagining Naeun getting separated from Taeil, how scared she’ll be to be torn away from Seulgi and Joohyun and Soojin.

 

Kyungsoo won’t even be able to visit them anymore.

 

“Why don’t you do it?” Kyungsoo asks tiredly.

 

“Hell, no.” Sehun snorts. “I hate that guy too much to even try and smile in his direction.”

 

Kyungsoo sighs then, thinking it all through, over and over when suddenly Jongin walks past them again. He watches Jongin’s back, watches the way Yerim from Human Resources blushes when he passes her desk and thinks that this idea is just destined to not work out.

 

How is someone like Kyungsoo even supposed to approach someone like Jongin who doesn’t even give pretty girls like Yerim the light of the day?

 

“So, are you going to do it?”

 

But this isn’t about him. It’s about those innocent children who have already been through way too much and they simply don’t deserve a fate like this.

 

“I’ll... I will try.” He groans after saying it out loud, ignoring the way Sehun fist pumps the air. “But I’m not going to make a fool out of myself, okay?”

 

“Yeah, okay, that’s all I wanted to hear. I’m going to help and I’m pretty sure Baekhyun will be ecstatic to help us too.” Sehun throws an arm around Kyungsoo’s shoulder as he guides them towards Jongdae’s office. “He always has amazing ideas.”

 

“Please don’t get Baekhyun involved.” He mumbles miserably.

 

Sehun just laughs and Kyungsoo already feels sick, wondering what he just got himself into.

 

 

x

  

 

Sehun never listens to Kyungsoo.

 

Because he does get Baekhyun involved.

 

And Kyungsoo just knows he should’ve stood his ground and said no.

 

“Alright look. I’ve already talked to Chanyeol. Apparently Miyoung and Amber already reserved a VIP area at this new club-“

 

“What club?” Sehun asks. “The new one?”

 

Baekhyun gives him a smug smirk.

 

Sehun and him high five each other and Kyungsoo just wants to leave.

 

“Anyway, as I was saying; Chanyeol’s going to make sure to drag Jongin along. Once we’re there, Sehun and I are going to drive everyone away that might catch Jongin’s attention so Kyungsoo won’t have any competition.”

 

Kyungsoo sighs and pushes his cold coffee away. They’re sitting at the café at the building next to their office and all Kyungsoo wants to do is go back to his apartment and sleep and pretend that none of this is happening.

 

“I don’t think I’m up for it anymore.” He mutters.

 

“But why?” Baekhyun whines. “I’ve planned this through so well...”

 

He looks genuinely hurt and Kyungsoo can’t help feeling bad all of a sudden. He knows he shouldn’t fall for it, Baekhyun’s really good at convincing people hence why he’s the one who does all the talking during meetings when it’s about getting something from other companies. “It’s not your plan. I just can’t do it. I barely know what to talk about with you guys, how... how am I supposed to make someone like Jongin want to spend time with me?”

 

“I’ve already considered that too. Since both of you are so quiet and awkward-“ Baekhyun laughs nervously when Kyungsoo glares at him. “I mean... shy. Whatever, that’ll give you something to bond over. I’ve read somewhere that introverted people feel scared when they’re around someone who’s loud and obnoxious.”

 

“Like you?” Kyungsoo asks flatly and Sehun bursts out laughing while Baekhyun just looks offended.

 

“I’ll ignore that.” Baekhyun huffs. “Look, the only thing you have to do is play along. I’ll make sure he comes and talks to you first since you’re so fucking scared of starting a conversation.”

 

“I don’t get it. Why are you helping me? I thought you wanted to... get into Jongin’s pants. Why aren’t you using the dinner to try and talk to him instead?”

 

Baekhyun shrugs, chuckling. “I guess I’m not that into running circles around someone just to get their attention for more than a second. There’s plenty people out there that would give anything to date someone like me.”

 

“You’re just sour because he’s not interested and that’s bruising your ego.” Sehun snorts.

 

“I don’t fucking care, okay? It’s his loss. I’m going on a date with Taeyeon next week anyway so screw Kim Jongin, honestly.” Baekhyun takes a deep breath and pushes his chair back. “Are we done here?”

 

Kyungsoo stands up and grabs his jacket, not really getting why he agreed to all of this.

 

He never thought being desperate would make him agree to one of Baekhyun’s stupid plans.

 

“You’re not going to back out, right?” Baekhyun frowns at Kyungsoo and the latter shakes his head when Sehun gives him an expectant look. “Great! Oh, I’ll have to check your outfit before the dinner since you don’t have any sense of fashion. No offense.”

 

“None taken.” Kyungsoo huffs, shrugging his coat on. “But that won’t be necessary. I’m not trying to impress him.“

 

“Uhm... Yes, you do? We’re talking about Kim Jongin. That guy isn’t friends with just anyone.”

 

“He’s friends with Chanyeol.” Kyungsoo frowns.

 

Sehun sighs and Baekhyun shakes his head at him. “What did Chanyeol ever do to you?”

 

“Nothing. I’m just saying, he drinks water from the tap like a dog...” Kyungsoo shrugs when his friends give him a judging look.

 

“Don’t say those things in front of Jongin, okay? He might get the notion that you’re an asshole.”

 

Kyungsoo stares at Baekhyun and the latter shrugs his shoulders innocently. “Just saying, my dear friend.”

 

 

x

 

 

He hates dinner parties.

 

Kyungsoo doesn’t like any form of social events but he especially dislikes nights like these. Nights where people from his work place are involved because suddenly, everyone is dropping formalities and getting drunk and embarrassing themselves, only to walk around with their heads lowered in shame at the office for the following couple of days.

 

Not that Kyungsoo has done anything like that but people like Baekhyun and Jongdae or even Sehun could write an entire book about it.

 

Their last dinner party had been the Christmas dinner a year ago. Kyungsoo went home after the dinner was over but, of course, most of the employees went to a bar or club afterwards. From what Kyungsoo heard, it ended up being a complete disaster.

 

Sehun actually shed some tears after telling him that he tried to make advances on Junmyeon. He was clinging to him so much people had to pull him off the man. Those two couldn’t stand each other at work before that and now it’s just that more awkward. He remembers Sehun hiding for an entire month every time he would spot Junmyeon somewhere around the office, until the CFO pulled Sehun aside and told him to quit being a baby about the situation, that he was ready to forget it if Sehun was and well, that was it.

 

They’re currently sitting at the table in the middle of the restaurant, listening to several executive employees talk about their path to success over the past twenty years.

 

Kyungsoo claps whenever it’s expected and nods his head along politely, despite not really listening to the words that were leaving anyone’s mouth.

 

The CEO’s and personal assistants as well as the shareholders all sit on one side of the table while the general employees are seated on the other side as if to remind everyone where their place in the world is.

 

Baekhyun whispers into his ear to look to his right and when Kyungsoo does he spots Jongin entering the restaurant. He is followed by several other people who Kyungsoo recognizes to be his family.

 

He’s confused at first until he remembers that Jongin’s father is Taemin’s uncle and thus his deceased father’s brother so it’s only logical for them to be also present tonight.

 

Kyungsoo has seen Jongin’s parents before but now it’s different. Now it makes the fine hairs at his nape stand up when Jongin’s father smiles at the waitress that offers to take their coats.

 

“They look like they’re using dollar bills to shower.” Sehun scoffs while eyeing the pearls on Jongin’s mother’s ears, or the diamond pendant on her chest. They’re a stunning family, there’s no other way to describe it. Looking at Jongin’s parents, it’s very clear where the boy got those great genes from. “I hate him.”

 

“Calm down.” Kyungsoo sighs and tries to be subtle about the way he watches them approach the table. How everyone instantly stands up to bow, almost like they’re a royal family.

 

Jongin looks uncomfortable and Kyungsoo wonders if he’s just trying to come across as humble or if the boy just really doesn’t like the treatment.

 

Kyungsoo sure as hell wouldn’t appreciate being treated like that.

 

They sit down next to Taemin who stands up to hug his uncle tightly, smiling brightly at Jongin’s beautiful mother and ruffling Jongin’s hair like he’s his little brother.

 

It’s just so odd, how they seem to be unapproachable for people like Kyungsoo while they seem to be like any other normal family when they’re around each other.

 

Kyungsoo doesn’t realize he’s staring until Jongin has sat down and his eyes flicker up to focus on Kyungsoo right away, their gazes locking. Jongin presses his lips together, nodding his head in a silent greeting and Kyungsoo almost chokes on his breath upon getting caught. He nods hastily his head before furiously staring down at his lap.

 

What the hell is he even doing?

 

“Smooth.” Sehun chuckles next to him and Kyungsoo grumbles a curse under his breath which only makes his friend laugh harder.

 

“You need to smile a bit more.” Baekhyun mutters from beside him when everyone has settled down and is busy chatting with their seat neighbor while waiting for the food to arrive. “You’re scaring people off with your frown.”

 

“Good.”

 

Baekhyun rolls his eyes and scans him from head to toe. “You look really good, you know.“ Baekhyun reaches a hand to move a stray strand of hair on Kyungsoo’s head. He fixed Kyungsoo’s hair too and Kyungsoo’s pretty sure that not even a freaking hurricane could destroy his hairstyle with how much unfamiliar hair products Baekhyun used on him.

 

“Thanks.“ Kyungsoo mutters, reaching for his glass of water just as his eyes catch Jongin’s from across the table. The boy is listening to something Taemin is whispering into his ear but his eyes are focused on Kyungsoo, flickering over his hair and features like he’s scanning him. Kyungsoo gives him a confused look and averts his eyes. He suddenly can’t help but wonder if Jongin knows about his plan, if Chanyeol told him about it.

 

He ignores the way Baekhyun snickers behind his hand, obviously having seen the weird scene.

 

The rest of the dinner goes by rather sluggishly. The food’s great but it feels like everyone’s waiting for it to be over so they can go get drunk or just go home and sleep (which would be Kyungsoo if he didn’t have a task to take care of tonight). It’s stressing him way too much. He doesn’t do things like this a lot, can’t even remember the last time he went to a bar let alone a club.

 

He just feels they’re too old for that stuff but obviously his friends disagree.

 

“Where are you going?” Sehun asks when he pushes his chair back.

 

“Restroom. You want to come with me?” He asks sarcastically but Sehun actually starts to push his chair back. “I was joking.”

 

Sehun sits back down. “Oh. Well... sorry, it’s hard to tell with you having the same expression all the time.” Sehun grins up at him innocently and swears under his breath when Kyungsoo pinches his arm where no one can see.

 

 

 

On his way back from the restroom Kyungsoo manages to draw a lot of unwanted attention to himself.

 

He’s fixing his tie just as a waitress walks out of the kitchen and Kyungsoo sees her shoes but he doesn’t have enough time to step aside. She suddenly turns around, a huge tray full of delicate wine glasses balanced on her palm.

 

The sound of the glasses shattering on the floor makes everyone in the restaurant jump and stop whatever they were doing. Every head turns in their direction while Kyungsoo and the waitress are looking at the mess with wide eyes.

 

“I- I’m so sorry!” Kyungsoo rushes out and he kneels down to... he doesn’t even know what the hell he’s trying to do. It’s not like he has something to clean it all up. He feels everyone’s eyes on him and he’s already sweating through his shirt and this is exactly why he avoids nights like these.

 

Everyone’s already standing, gathered around the tables, waiting for the wine to be served and Kyungsoo is standing in the middle of it all, making a fool of himself as per usual.

 

The waitress assures him that it’s fine until Kyungsoo finally gives up and walks back to his friends with burning cheeks, cursing himself for being such a klutz.

 

“Way to go, Soo.” Jongdae cackles. “You sure know how to draw attention to yourself, huh?”

 

“Stop it.” Miyoung - Jongdae’s co-worker in their department - hisses at him. “You okay, Kyungsoo?”

 

He nods quietly and before he has time to collect his thoughts or will himself to stop from blushing like a little kid, someone taps him on the shoulder. He turns his head to find Taemin standing there.

 

“Are you guys enjoying the night?” He asks the other employees and they all enthusiastically nod their heads like they’re telling someone that their food is great when it really makes them want to barf, just to spare their feelings. “Good. Kyungsoo, do you have a minute?”

 

Kyungsoo bites his tongue, expecting his boss to pull him aside and scold him for embarrassing him in front of all those important people. “Of course.”

 

“I want to introduce you to someone.” Taemin explains quietly as he guides Kyungsoo away from the table. Kyungsoo is confused to say the least. There’s no reason for Taemin to want to introduce him to anyone. Kyungsoo is probably one of the most insignificant employees at their company. “You were lucky, huh?”

 

“What?”

 

“I mean wine stains are pretty much impossible to get out.” Taemin chuckles and points at Kyungsoo’s white shirt, obviously referencing to Kyungsoo’s embarrassing encounter from before.

 

“Right.” Kyungsoo laughs nervously. He really wants to slam his head into a wall.

 

He realizes where he’s being lead when he sees Jongin standing at the table Taemin is guiding him towards. He’s with his parents, a glass of wine in his hands and Kyungsoo feels his own hands begin to sweat for some reason.

 

They turn their heads when Taemin and him arrive at the table and Kyungsoo tries not flinch when Jongin’s parents give him a not so subtle once over. He suddenly feels like there was a dress code and he ended up dressing up inappropriately.

 

His eyes flicker up to meet Jongin’s and it’s ridiculous because he doesn’t know the boy all that well but Jongin’s faint smile makes him feel a little less tense.

 

“This is Do Kyungsoo.” Taemin introduces him. “He’s been working for us for two years now. Kyungsoo, this is my uncle Kim Youngho, you surely know about him.”

 

“Of course.” Kyungsoo quickly bows. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

 

“The pleasure’s all mine.” Kim Youngho answers with a polite smile and Kyungsoo can’t help but feel like he’s wasting the man’s time. Kyungsoo tries to see if the man recognizes him which is stupid, of course he wouldn’t. They’ve never met before but Kyungsoo desperately wants the man to know that he’s currently causing him and his loved ones a lot of sorrow.

 

That the orphanage means the world to him and he’s stepping on it like it’s nothing but a piece of dirty gum underneath the soles of his expensive Italian dress shoes.

 

“Uncle, you know the deal with Madrid around last year’s September?” Taemin asks and the man nods his head without a beat.

 

“Of course I do. The deal was a great success for both our companies.” He affirms. Kyungsoo’s heart is beating a little too fast in his chest. He looks at Jongin only to find the boy still staring at him. He gulps nervously and Jongin smiles again, almost like he knows how Kyungsoo’s feeling.

 

“Well, we owe it all to this man right here.” Taemin clasps his shoulder again and Kyungsoo watches the surprise take over their faces. “Kyungsoo was in contact with them for a couple of months before he managed to convince them to agree to the deal. He’s a huge support to the company.”

 

“Really?” The look on Kim Youngho’s face suddenly changes and the man looks impressed. “That is very impressive Mr. Do.”

 

Kyungsoo wants to laugh. Is it really this easy to gain respect from people like them?

 

“I just did my job, Sir.” Kyungsoo clears his throat nervously when he notices all of them smiling at him approvingly.

 

He really just wants to go back to the others.

 

“And you did it exceptionally well. My brother was trying to do business with our colleagues from Madrid for a long while before we lost him.” Kyungsoo looks down at his feet for a moment, not really knowing what to say when he sees a flicker of sadness in the man’s eyes. “I’m hoping to hear more of you in the future, Mr. Do.” Jongin’s father suddenly reaches his hand out and Kyungsoo is taken aback for a moment.

 

He doesn’t want to shake that man’s hand.

 

He wants him to drop the deal and apologize for even considering taking away those children’s home.

 

But he grips the hand being offered to him, shaking it once with a tight grip. “I will do my best.”

 

“Alright then. Enjoy the rest of your night, Kyungsoo.” Taemin smiles at him and so do Jongin’s parents before they turn around to greet other people that were standing behind them like they were waiting for their turn to talk to them.

 

Kyungsoo takes a deep breath and notices that Jongin is still standing there.

 

That he’s still staring at Kyungsoo.

 

“There’s something on my face again, isn’t there?” He asks flatly, bringing his hand up to rub away whatever it is.

 

Jongin looks confused for a moment but then he chuckles, shaking his head. “No, no you’re fine.”

 

Kyungsoo nods and takes in Jongin’s appearance; from the way his hair is slicked back so effortlessly, how the suit is hugging him in all the right places. It almost seems like Jongin was born to live a life like this, like anything else wouldn’t do him justice.

 

“I was right, you know.” Jongin suddenly says and Kyungsoo realizes he’s been standing there without saying a word which probably wouldn’t be considered normal.

 

“Right about what?” His eyes move around uneasily, spotting all the employees that are staring at him with confusion. Why did Do Kyungsoo out of all people got introduced to the Kim’s and is now talking to Jongin?

 

That’s probably what’s running through their minds.

 

“You’re really clumsy.”

 

Kyungsoo frowns up at him, feeling his nape prickle again with embarrassment. “I never said I wasn’t.”

 

But Jongin shakes his head and he leans a little closer, putting the glass of wine down on the table between them. “I’m sorry. It wasn’t that bad, really.”

 

“Yes, it was.” Kyungsoo snorts.

 

“Honestly, it could’ve happened to anyone.”

 

“Wouldn’t have happened to you, though.” Kyungsoo mumbles.

 

“I once spilled red wine on one of my dad’s potential business partners’ white shirt.” He says and he looks down at his wrist watch, not meeting Kyungsoo’s eyes anymore. It’s now that Kyungsoo remembers that Jongin - according to the boy himself - isn’t really comfortable with talking to people either.

 

“What happened then?” He asks. He catches Sehun’s and Baekhyun’s eyes from across the room. Baekhyun looks ecstatic, giving him thumbs up, while Sehun looks at Jongin with distrust on his face.

 

A group of interns are staring at them as well, whispering, definitely giggling about how ridiculous Kyungsoo must look standing beside Kim Jongin. One of the male interns cocks his head to the side and licks his lips suggestively, a sly smirk spreading on his face and Kyungsoo’s eyes widen. He knows the action was directed at Jongin who just taps his fingers against his glass and turns his eyes back to Kyungsoo.

 

Kyungsoo can’t really believe that people have the nerve to do things like that.

 

“He left without signing the contract.” Jongin says and it takes Kyungsoo a second to remember what they were talking about. “And my dad took my gameboy away from me for an entire week.”

 

Kyungsoo laughs without really meaning to and it makes Jongin give him a strange look.

 

Before Kyungsoo can read too much into it though Chanyeol appears behind Jongin, throwing his arms around the boy and hugging him his chest tightly.

 

“Hey Kyungsoo!” Chanyeol greets him loudly. Kyungsoo greets him back with furrowed eyebrows, wondering if Chanyeol might’ve already had too much wine.

 

Jongin grunts when Chanyeol squeezes him tighter. “My parents are watching.” He mutters which makes the other man finally let go of him.

 

True enough, Kyungsoo finds that Jongin’s mother is watching their table like a hawk. Kyungsoo honestly doesn’t know who he finds more intimidating, Jongin’s powerful father or his mother that could definitely make anyone feel like a rat with just her gaze.

 

“We’re about to leave for the club so I’d say you guys go and grab your coats.” Chanyeol winks at Kyungsoo.

 

“I can’t, I have to drive my parents home.” Jongin says and Kyungsoo feels panic rise his in his chest. This is probably the only time he can actually try and get to know the boy because on Monday there won’t be any liquid courage in his system that’ll help him get the words out that he usually swallows down.

 

Time’s running out too. He needs Jongin’s help as soon as possible or else they’re going to start assigning the kids to different families and Kyungsoo just can’t let that happen.

 

“Don’t worry about that. I’ll have my chauffeur drive them home.” Chanyeol says, smiling at Kyungsoo like he can read his mind.

 

Jongin looks like he’s about to protest but Chanyeol doesn’t let him. “Come on man, it’s Friday night! Don’t leave me hanging here.” His eyes move around between Jongin and Kyungsoo. “Kyungsoo here is coming too, right?”

 

They’re both looking at Kyungsoo now and something about Jongin’s gaze makes him feel a little uneasy. “Yes.” He doesn’t get why Chanyeol felt the need to point that out or how it would convince Jongin.

 

“Are we ready to go?” The rest of his friends are suddenly gathered around the table. Sehun slings an arm around Kyungsoo’s shoulder while smiling at Jongin a little too brightly to be considered genuine. Jongin only furrows his eyebrows at Sehun which makes his friend hold him a little tighter.

 

Kyungsoo has to try really hard to refrain himself from rolling his eyes.

 

“Our Jonginnie is being a little stubborn again.” Chanyeol says which makes said boy shoot him a glare.

 

Baekhyun suddenly walks forward and grabs Jongin’s arm and starts dragging him away. “We’re all going to bond tonight and have lots of fun.”

 

“Wait.“ Jongin shakes Baekhyun off and starts straightening his suit. "I can’t just leave without saying goodbye.“ He eyes the crowd of businessmen chatting around in the room.

 

“You’re not seriously going to-“ Baekhyun huffs when Jongin starts walking through the crowd, putting on a polite smile as he starts squeezing everyone’s hands.

 

“This might take a while.“ Chanyeol chuckles, clearly amused.

 

“Fucking hell. Let’s go.“ Baekhyun grips Kyungsoo’s arm to guide him towards the exit of the restaurant.

 

 

 

While Jongin is busy fulfilling his role as Kim Youngho’s son inside, Kyungsoo and a bunch of others from the office are waiting outside in the cold for the cabs to arrive.

 

“He’s too fucking perfect.” Baekhyun sighs, a little cloud puffing out of his mouth from the cold around them.

 

“Who?”

 

“Who could I possibly mean?” Baekhyun rolls his eyes and nods his head towards the restaurant. “Kim fucking Jongin.”

 

“I thought you were after Taeyeon now.” Kyungsoo hums and Baekhyun shakes his head.

 

“Don’t get me wrong, I am.” He shrugs. “That fucker just makes it hard to hate him.”

 

“Don’t tell me you’re in love with him.”

 

“Hell no. He’s too difficult, honestly. I want something easy.”

 

Kyungsoo looks at him accusingly. “Are you seriously calling Taeyeon easy?”

 

Baekhyun snorts and shakes his head and it’s probably the first time Kyungsoo has ever seen Baekhyun so serious.

 

“I meant someone easy to love.”

 

Jongin joins them just as Baekhyun finishes speaking, making the girls fix their hair and bat their eyelashes at him while he looks nothing but tired. Kyungsoo just watches it happen like it’s a movie but it’s not.

 

It’s real and it’s absurd.

 

They spread out into the cabs after that and for some reason, Baekhyun’s words don’t leave his mind for the entire ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The club is bursting at the seams when they arrive.

 

It’s to be expected though, since it’s a Friday night and the club only opened its doors a week ago.

 

Amber apparently has a few connections which is why she managed to book VIP booths for them as well as get them on the guest list. Kyungsoo feels bad when they walk inside because there’s a ridiculously long line in front of the door with girls in short dresses trembling from the cold and the guys giving them dirty looks as they pass them.

 

What surprises him the most though is the few persons who - while waiting in line - take out their phones to snap pictures of Jongin, cat call and reach out to touch him like he’s a celebrity.

 

Chanyeol stands close to Jongin’s back and shields him from the view, preventing people from taking pictures of his face.

 

Kyungsoo suddenly doesn’t feel good about this entire plan.

 

How is this fair to Jongin? It’s not like he has ever done anything to deserve being used like this.

 

It’s his parents that Kyungsoo wants to give a piece of his mind.

 

“Hey, stop that.” Sehun whispers into his ear once they’re inside, waiting for Amber to handle the guards in front of the VIP area.

 

“What?”

 

“Stop thinking.” Sehun says. “You’re worrying again. There’s nothing to worry about tonight.”

 

Kyungsoo sighs and follows his friends into the booths that are booked for them. Sehun purposefully tugs him into the one where Chanyeol sits down with Jongin, earning dirty looks from their female colleagues who obviously wanted to use their chance tonight to get closer to Jongin as well.

 

Only they definitely have less innocent goals in mind.

 

Then again, would Kyungsoo’s motives be considered innocent too if not compared to the ones of those women?

 

Probably not.

 

“Alright, let’s order some shots!” Baekhyun is quick to exclaim once he spots the worried lines on Kyungsoo’s forehead. “First round’s on me.”

 

Kyungsoo can handle his alcohol well, so the first few rounds of drinks don’t get to him.

 

He just watches the night progress and it makes him feel sick for whole other reasons than the gin tonic he’s currently sipping on.

 

Jongin is shaking off people left and right.

 

He watches the boy shake his head at them in clear rejection, how he gets interrupted whenever he tries to talk to his friends. Sees him smile politely despite the obvious annoyance on his face but they keep coming back, keep touching him, leaning in to whisper in his ear and when one woman even goes as far as kissing his neck while Jongin is having a talk with Chanyeol Kyungsoo grips the glass so tight he fears it might just shatter.

 

“Kyungsoo.” Baekhyun mumbles into his ear. “Chanyeol’s sending Jongin to grab some drinks. Follow him and talk to him before those leeches are on him again.”

 

Kyungsoo sees Jongin gently pry a girl’s fingers off his arm and stand up from the booth with a dull feeling in his chest. “Go!” Sehun mouths urgently from where he’s sitting next to Junmyeon, their thighs dangerously close to the other’s.

 

He gulps down the rest of the gin in one go for good measure and gets up to make his way through the crowd, trying not to lose Jongin’s back from his sight.

 

“Wait... was that Kim Jongin?” He hears a girl ask her friend as he passes them.

 

“Hell yeah.” Another guy mumbles, eyeing Jongin up and down like a starving man.

 

Kyungsoo just walks faster and tries not to listen.

 

This night wasn’t supposed to go like this.

 

He was supposed to try and have a conversation with Jongin, not feel bad for the boy. Not feel anger bloom in his chest about how Jongin is being treated.

 

Jongin reaches the bar before him and Kyungsoo watches him order drinks before he takes a calming breath and steps up beside him. Jongin completely ignores him and keeps his eyes on the bottles of expensive alcohol displayed on the racks behind the bar.

 

Kyungsoo clears his throat to get Jongin’s attention and the latter closes his eyes in what seems to be frustration.

 

“Look, I’m not looking for a one night stand or whatever the fuck-“ Jongin turns to look at Kyungsoo and his eyes widen upon seeing whom he’s talking to. “Shit, sorry I thought-” The boy sighs and rubs at his forehead. “Sorry. I thought you were someone else.”

 

“It’s okay.” Kyungsoo reassures him.

 

Jongin gives him a tight smile and turns to pay for the drinks that have arrived.

 

“Jongin.” He says and the boy looks him in the eyes and Kyungsoo feels weird, never having said his name directly like this before. “Are you okay?”

 

“Yeah... Why wouldn’t I be?” Jongin tilts his head and slides a drink into Kyungsoo’s direction. Kyungsoo shakes his head in rejection but Jongin insists that he bought them for their booth anyways. “They’re on me, no worries.”

 

It’s silent between them for a moment. Well, as silent as it can get with the heavy bass blasting around them and people shouting over the music to talk to each other. “Is it... Is it always like this when you go out?”

 

Jongin studies Kyungsoo’s face but different to his mother he doesn’t do it like he’s trying to measure Kyungsoo’s worth by inspecting his appearance.

 

He looks like he’s taking Kyungsoo’s features in with no agenda and Kyungsoo takes a sip from his bitter drink to focus on something else. “Like what?” Jongin is leaning closer so they don’t have to shout and Kyungsoo is suddenly hit by a whiff of his cologne, fresh like mint.

 

“I mean... I know it’s none of my business but those people, they’re all over you.”

 

Jongin looks thoughtful for a moment before he nods in understanding and swirls his drink around in the glass. Some of the dark strands of his hair are falling into his forehead and the tie around his neck is hanging a little loose too, his sleeves rolled up to reveal his toned forearms. “It’s like this most of the time, yeah.”

 

“Really?” Kyungsoo furrows his eyebrows, not really able to imagine Jongin getting groped like this whenever he goes out with his friends.

 

He’s sure that there are a lot of young people out there who would gladly switch places with Jongin. Getting so much attention from beautiful women and men surely is what most people’s dreams are made of but Jongin doesn’t look like he wants the attention at all. Kyungsoo isn’t sure if any of this can be considered okay, no matter how you look at it.

 

If Jongin was a female, security wouldn’t hesitate to throw them out too, right?

 

“The perks of being a famous CEO’s son, right?” Jongin snorts softly and takes a gulp of his drink. The boy takes in Kyungsoo’s concerned face and shrugs. “It’s okay. You get used to it after a while.”

 

“You shouldn’t have to.” Kyungsoo frowns at him and Jongin stares into his eyes and then smiles, the corners of his dark eyes crinkling for a moment.

 

“I thought you didn’t want me to talk to you.” Jongin suddenly says and it takes Kyungsoo a moment too long to understand what he’s referring to.

 

“I didn’t say that.” Kyungsoo shrugs. “I just said I’m boring.”

 

Jongin hums. “I don’t find you boring.”

 

“You don’t know me, that’s why.”

 

“Then tell me about yourself.”

 

Kyungsoo huffs, shrugging his shoulders. “There’s not much to tell. I’m not just saying that, I’m actually just really boring.”

 

“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?“ When Kyungsoo looks up Jongin is smiling again and it’s nice to see, way better than the frown from before when he was hassled by all those people. “What’s your favorite color?”

 

“Black.”

 

Jongin frowns at him. “No, it’s not.“

 

“Why?”

 

“Because black is boring-” Jongin stops mid-sentence once he realizes what he just said. “Sorry, I didn’t mean that-“

 

“It’s okay. I told you I’m boring, didn’t I?” Kyungsoo snorts and Jongin gives him a timid smile and maybe talking to him isn’t so bad after all.

 

After that, things start blurring together.

 

Jongin keeps asking him questions which Kyungsoo always has a short and plain answer to and it’s funny to see him get frustrated over it. They order more drinks and Kyungsoo finds out that Jongin speaks four languages and is friends with about every famous idol in South Korea.

 

Kyungsoo doesn’t believe him so Jongin shows him selfies he took with them and Kyungsoo remarks that it almost looks like Jongin’s the celebrity instead and the idols are the fans that were trying to get a picture with him.

 

He tells him about all the places he has been to and that he fell in love with Iceland the most. The way Jongin describes it he makes it seem like a place where fairies and elves would live if they would truly exist. Kyungsoo in return is really vague with his answers because he simply doesn’t have amazing stories to tell but also because it’s hard to talk about his life without giving away anything about his past. Jongin thankfully doesn’t push him when he refuses to answer.

 

He loses track of how long they talk but Kyungsoo doesn’t mind because talking to Jongin kind of feels effortless. Jongin talks when he notices that Kyungsoo is being too silent and listens to the few words Kyungsoo is willing to speak out loud like it’s the most interesting thing in the world even if it’s just him telling how Sehun and him picked up an ugly couch from a flea market for his apartment and how he couldn’t get the smell of weed out of the fabric for months after.

 

Jongin laughs at that. He laughs a lot and Kyungsoo doesn’t know if it’s because they’re not at work or if it’s the alcohol but Jongin almost seems like a completely different person, not as tense and controlled. His posture is relaxed, his smile easy going and Kyungsoo somewhat wishes Jongin would always be like this because it would make it a lot easier to get closer to him.

 

As time goes by, Jongin steps closer, until their arms are almost pressed together with how they’re leaning against the bar, legs tired and minds fuzzy from the alcohol.

 

“You’re not boring, Kyungsoo.” Jongin mumbles, words slurring together. “You’re kind of cool.”

 

Kyungsoo shakes his head and weakly lifts it to stare at the watch on Jongin’s wrist. His mind is reeling but he can make out that it’s almost three in the morning. He turns to look at the booth they were sitting at and sees Baekhyun and Chanyeol still chatting with each other like there’s no tomorrow, Miyoung pressed into Chanyeol’s side where she’s almost falling asleep.

 

Sehun is kissing Junmyeon’s neck-

 

He quickly turns his head around, shakes it once to get rid of the image. Oh god.

 

“You’re...” He starts and feels a burp coming and doesn’t even bother to hold it back in his drunk state. He covers his mouth and laughs. “Sorry.”

 

Jongin chuckles, his gaze on Kyungsoo amused and soft. He leans closer until their thighs are touching and Kyungsoo thinks he should step away but Jongin feels warm against him and he doesn’t know why he should mind the proximity. “You’re not how I expected you to be.” Kyungsoo blurts out.

 

“Ah.” Jongin nods his head. “Wait, let me guess. You thought I was arrogant. An asshole. A spoiled brat. A player. What else...”

 

“No.” Kyungsoo shakes his head. “I never thought that. I just... don’t know. I thought you were really self-centered. Like your family.” It slips out, just like that, and even in their drunken state Jongin freezes next to him and so does Kyungsoo but he doesn’t realize just how important it was what he just said.

 

“My family?” Jongin gives him a confused look. “What’s with them?”

 

Kyungsoo shrugs. It’s why he’s talking to Jongin in the first place, right? He would have to ask him sooner or later so he’d rather do it now that he doesn’t have a filter over his mouth before sober Kyungsoo chickens out completely. “They’re taking away something that’s really important to me.”

 

“What?” Jongin suddenly sounds really serious and really sober.

 

“Don’t you know about it?” Kyungsoo looks up at Jongin and thinks that Jongin’s face is way too close. “The orphanage. They bought it. Now the kids don’t have a place to stay anymore.”

 

Jongin furrows his eyebrows and stares at the counter for a few seconds. “What orphanage?”

 

But Kyungsoo doesn’t get to answer because suddenly Sehun is standing behind them, gripping Kyungsoo’s arm urgently. “We need to leave. Right fucking now!”

 

Kyungsoo stumbles back and Jongin reaches a hand out to steady him, suddenly a lot closer than before. “What orphanage, Kyungsoo?”

 

“Ask him again on Monday!” Sehun grunts and starts tugging Kyungsoo away.

 

“Wait- what’s going on?” Kyungsoo asks while they’re making their way through the crowd.

 

Sehun whines pathetically when they’re waiting for their coats at the cloakroom.

 

“I have to find a new job.” 

 

x


Hangovers are never easy to deal with.

 

But it’s even worse when your best friend calls you at nine in the morning to cry about how much they fucked up the previous night.

 

“I kissed him!” Sehun almost shouts into the phone. “Hyung... What do I do? I can’t show up at the office anymore!”

 

“Don’t be so dramatic.” Kyungsoo sighs as he rubs at his throbbing temples. “You both wanted it; where’s the problem?”

 

“Alright first of all, if anyone finds out, we’ll both get fired. Did you forget that dating within our workplace isn’t allowed?

 

“Taemin wouldn’t fire you over something like that, Sehun.”

 

“And I wanted to ask Joohyun out soon. And Junmyeon’s almost five years older than me! He’s like an old stuffy man and he always shouts at me even if I didn’t do anything wrong! He’ll probably kill me on Monday! Fuck! Why am I such a horny brat? I should’ve gone home after the dinner was over.”

 

Kyungsoo sits up in his bed and squints at the light that streams in from his open bedroom door. Everything spins for a moment before it evens out into a dull pounding sensation at the back of his head. “Why are you telling me this? I don’t know anything about relationships. Also don’t even think about asking Joohyun out.”

 

“Because you’re my best friend! Who else am I supposed to ask?” Sehun groans. “And why not? She likes me.”

 

“Sehun... look, can we talk on Monday? I’m still half asleep.”

 

His friend sighs on the other end and there’s some rustling, like he’s in bed too. “Okay, but one more thing. What happened with Jongin?”

 

Kyungsoo suddenly freezes.

 

Yes, what happened with Jongin?

 

He squeezes his eyes shut, trying to remember last night, and he comes up with images of him and Jongin talking at the bar for hours, of Jongin laughing and finally, how he told Jongin about the orphanage.

 

“We talked.” He mutters.

 

“Is he going to help you with the orphanage?”

 

“I don’t know. You dragged me away when I told him about it.”

 

“Oh. Okay. Sorry.” Sehun grumbles something under his breath. “Well, does he like you?”

 

“How should I know?!”

 

“Do you think he’s going to help you or not?!”

 

“I don’t know!”

 

“Why are you shouting?!”

 

Kyungsoo groans and buries himself back into his blankets. “I’m hanging up. I can’t handle your voice right now.”

 

“Right back at you.” Sehun snorts and then, when Kyungsoo is silent he mumbles “I didn’t mean that. I love you, hyung.”

 

Kyungsoo grunts and hangs up, frowning when he catches a whiff of something that smells like a dead animal.

 

It’s himself.

 

He needs to take a shower.

 

x

 

Kyungsoo doesn’t know what he’s supposed to expect when he arrives at the office on Monday.

 

Now that he’s fully sober again, he feels rather anxious to see Jongin again. In all honesty, he expects the boy to just ignore him, probably regretting that he told Kyungsoo so much about himself while he was drunk.

 

He hopes that it isn’t the case because he still needs Jongin’s help and he thinks they got closer on Friday night more than he would’ve expected.

 

The office is still locked when Kyungsoo arrives at the building since it’s only half past eight.

 

And like the week before, while his computer is starting up the elevator doors slide open and Jongin steps inside.

 

Kyungsoo holds his breath and watches the man rub at his eyes sleepily, yawning as he yanks off the beanie from his head. He doesn’t notice Kyungsoo or the opening sound of his computer since he’s wearing earphones again and Kyungsoo just observes how he walks away and to his office.

 

He releases the breath he was holding, cursing himself for being so nervous over nothing. They just talked, like every other normal person would have. There’s nothing wrong with that.

 

Just as Kyungsoo is about to log into his account Jongin comes back, still looking half asleep and his hair isn’t as neat as it usually is either. This time though he isn’t wearing his earphones and he notices Kyungsoo when he lifts his head, still rubbing at his eyes groggily.

 

“Kyungsoo.” He says and Kyungsoo tenses up for unknown reasons upon hearing him say his name. “Were you there before?” He tilts his head, looking confused and together with his puffy eyes Kyungsoo can understand why Baekhyun calls him adorable.

 

“Yes.” Kyungsoo says and he can’t help it when the corners of his lips twitch, wanting to smile.

 

Jongin approaches his desk slowly, looking a little bashful. “I’m sorry. I guess I’m still a bit sleepy... Good morning.”

 

“Good morning.”

 

They look at each other in silence and Kyungsoo wants to wince from how awkward it suddenly is, with both of them sober again and back to their closed off personalities. “Uhm... do you want to grab some coffee?” Jongin asks and then proceeds to pull a pained face at his question since the coffee room is only a few feet away.

 

“Sure.” Kyungsoo usually doesn’t smile this much. Especially not in the morning, but the way Jongin is acting right now makes him want to smile so the man doesn’t feel so tense around him.

 

“Did you have a nice weekend?” Jongin asks while he hands Kyungsoo a clean cup from the cupboard.

 

Kyungsoo nods as he places his cup underneath the coffee machine. “The hangover wasn’t that fun though.“

 

Jongin chuckles while mirroring Kyungsoo’s actions. “You’re telling me.”

 

They fall into silence again while their coffees are brewing. Kyungsoo looks at Jongin without turning his head, having to look up because of the height difference. Jongin looks like he’s ready to fall asleep again and Kyungsoo thought about it a lot during the weekend, how people have this weird image of Jongin, that he’s a playboy, a womanizer, hence why so many people are so keen on being with him.

 

It seems animalistic, really, because Jongin doesn’t seem to be anything like the people make him out to be.

 

“Hey... Kyungsoo?” Jongin rips him out of his thoughts.

 

“Yes?”

 

“I don’t know if you remember but you told me something on Friday before you left... And it wouldn’t leave my mind over the weekend. I don’t know if you were just drunk or-“

 

“You mean about the orphanage?” Kyungsoo cuts in.

 

Jongin hesitates, then nods his head. “How are my parents related to that?”

 

Kyungsoo studies his face, looking for something that might give away that Jongin’s playing, that he’s just feigning innocence when he knows very well what Kyungsoo is talking about. “You really don’t know?”

 

“I’m honestly just confused. What is there to know?”

 

And maybe Kyungsoo shouldn’t tell him. There must be a reason as to why Jongin still doesn’t know about it but he can’t find it in himself to care. That’s his parents’ problems, his own problems are more important right now.

 

They sit down at one of the round tables close to the window. It’s raining outside and Kyungsoo tells Jongin everything there is to know. Just like on Friday, Jongin listens to him patiently without interrupting, his attention full on Kyungsoo.

 

He asks a few questions from time to time and it’s then that Kyungsoo notices that Jongin has a habit.

 

He rubs at the skin behind his ear with his fingers whenever he’s talking. Kyungsoo doesn’t know if it’s because he’s nervous or if he’s concentrating or if he just does it out of comfort. He did it four times in the span of a minute and it’s one of those things that once you notice it, you can’t really pay attention to anything else. So every time he does it, Kyungsoo’s mind blanks out for a second and he loses track of whatever he is saying.

 

Jongin licks his lips while he’s speaking. A lot. And while his other mannerism is quite harmless and some people would even go as far as calling it cute, this is just making him a really damn unpleasant conversational partner.

 

Kyungsoo tries not to look but it’s like the wet muscle is some kind of magnet and his eyes seem to be drawn to it every time it darts out to wet those lips.

 

“I didn’t know about any of this.” Jongin sighs once Kyungsoo has told him everything. “There must be a reason why my father did what he did. He’s not a bad person.”

 

“I’m not saying he is.” Kyungsoo shrugs and wraps his fingers around his cup. “But he obviously didn’t think about how much harm he would cause.”

 

Jongin looks at him for a while and he has this look in his eyes, like he’s accusing Kyungsoo of something and it rubs him the wrong way. “Of course you’re going to side with your parents.” He huffs, causing Jongin to frown at him.

 

“I didn’t say that.” Jongin ruffles a hand through his hair and it sticks up into the air. It makes him look a lot younger and Kyungsoo feels the tension ebb out of his shoulders despite him being annoyed.

 

Jongin stares at him again and unlike every other person Kyungsoo knows, the boy doesn’t look away after a few seconds.

 

“Quit staring at me.”

 

Jongin laughs at his irritated expression and Kyungsoo clears his throat when his eyes get stuck on Jongin’s smile for too long. “Kyungsoo?”

 

There’s no need for Jongin to say his name so much. It makes Kyungsoo feel restless. “Yes?”

 

“Why do you care about that orphanage so much?”

 

Kyungsoo freezes upon hearing the question and if Jongin notices it, he doesn’t say anything about it. “I’ve been friends with the caretakers for a long time.” The lie slips out easily.

 

“That’s it?”

 

“It’s not easy not to care about those kids once you’ve met them, you know.” Kyungsoo looks into Jongin’s dark eyes and Jongin looks right back, the ticking of the clock and the sound of rain splattering against the windows the only thing disturbing the silence around them.

 

“Can I meet them?” Jongin suddenly asks.

 

“You want to meet the children?” Kyungsoo squints his eyes at him and Jongin nods.

 

“And the caretakers too.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Am I not allowed to?” Jongin looks worried. “I mean, if it’s not appropriate then I’m sorry for asking. I’ve never been in an orphanage before...”

 

“No, no that’s not it. I mean, you can, if you want.” Kyungsoo still looks at him warily.

 

“I honestly just want to meet them. Don’t look at me like that.”

 

Kyungsoo nibbles at his lower lip. “Are you serious?”

 

Jongin nods.

 

Kyungsoo looks at him and tries to figure out if it’s a good idea to take Jongin there. Then again, if he wants Jongin to help him he needs to make him sympathize with the kids and that’s not going to happen unless he meets them, is it?

 

“I was thinking about going there tomorrow after work. I could tell them that I’m taking a friend with me.”

 

“A friend?” Jongin flashes him a smile that catches Kyungsoo off guard with how bright it is.

 

“I have to tell them something, right?” Kyungsoo mumbles but it doesn’t make Jongin smile at him any less.

 

Kyungsoo pushes his chair back and leaves without another word, pretending not to hear the quiet chuckle leaving Jongin’s lips on his way out.

 

x

 

 

Kyungsoo drops the Brussels sprouts into Sehun’s plate and moves the broccoli from Sehun’s to his own.

 

His friend makes an agreeing noise but keeps pushing the food around with his chopsticks.

 

“Aren’t you going to eat?” Kyungsoo asks.

 

Sehun looks horrible today, like he hasn’t slept at all and he’s strangely quiet too.

 

Kyungsoo feels a bit lost without the boy’s constant annoying voice holding him back from his work.

 

“Sehun.” He pokes him with his chopstick and Sehun only grunts. He swats him away like the brat he is. “Is this about Friday night?”

 

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

 

Kyungsoo sighs and picks up a Brussels sprout to press it against Sehun’s lips. A gloomy Sehun is hard to handle as it is, Kyungsoo doesn’t need a hungry one on top of that. “Open your mouth!” He hisses when Sehun refuses to part his lips. Sehun eventually gives in and Kyungsoo pushes the nasty vegetable into his mouth.

 

He and Junmyeon ran into each other this morning at the restroom and the man couldn’t even look at Kyungsoo in the eyes when he greeted him.

 

“Hey babies.” Baekhyun sits down next to Kyungsoo and places his tray on the table. “Uhm. Who died?” He asks once he spots Sehun’s expression.

 

“Sehun’s dignity.” Kyungsoo pops a piece of broccoli into his mouth, ignoring the burning glare Sehun sends his way.

 

Baekhyun chuckles and opens his bottle of apple juice. “Oh, I see... Can I ask you something?”

 

“What?” Sehun snaps.

 

“Does he have a big dick?” Baekhyun whispers, leaning closer. “I heard people with the last name Kim are hung as hell!”

 

“W-What?” Sehun’s face suddenly resembles a ripe tomato. “You fucking pervert! I didn’t see his dick!”

 

Baekhyun laughs while Sehun looks like he’s ready to strangle him with his tie. “I’m just teasing you, Hunnie. But seriously, do you like him or no?”

 

“I don’t want to talk about this right now.” Sehun sighs. He rarely gets like this. The last time he was so down was when his puppy Vivi ran away.

 

“Are you sure?” Kyungsoo asks.

 

“Yep. Let’s talk about you and Jongin instead since you wouldn’t tell me anything on the phone.” Just like that, Sehun is back to his usual self, digging into his food like a starving man and Kyungsoo wonders how he does that.

 

“Yeah, you guys talked for hours at the club!” Baekhyun speaks through a mouth full of food. “You must’ve impressed him! Jongin never talks to anyone for more than a few minutes at a stretch.”

 

Kyungsoo shrugs. “He was quite drunk.”

 

“Doesn’t matter. You told him about the orphanage, right? What did he say?”

 

“Nothing. He said he didn’t know about it.” Kyungsoo explains, looking around the lunch room to make sure Jongin isn’t here. It’s not really necessary because Jongin never eats his lunch here, he always eats in his office.

 

“As if.” Sehun snorts. “What did you say? Did you ask him to talk to his parents?”

 

“No, of course not, you idiot. That would be too obvious.” Baekhyun rolls his eyes and dodges the dirty napkin Sehun throws in his direction with a warning glare.

 

“I’m taking him to the orphanage tomorrow.” Kyungsoo says and Baekhyun’s head snaps around so fast Kyungsoo worries that idiot’s going to give himself whiplash. Sehun meanwhile nearly chokes on a piece of beef.

 

“What?!” Sehun coughs wildly. Baekhyun reaches out to pat his back but it looks like he’s trying to punch Sehun instead. The boy makes a pained noise and slaps his hand away with a freaked out expression. “Hyung! It took me an entire year until you took me to the orphanage, what the fuck?!”

 

“Hey, no, Sehun this is great!” Baekhyun says. “This is perfect! It will break Jongin’s heart when he sees the children and then he’ll have to talk to his parents.”

 

Kyungsoo looks down at his plate and feels the same feeling from Friday night gnaw at his chest. His gut drenched in something filthy that feels very much like guilt.

 

“Kyungsoo.” Baekhyun sighs upon noticing him frowning. “You don’t have to feel guilty for using him. Jongin isn’t as innocent as you might think.”

 

This only makes Kyungsoo frown harder. Baekhyun’s confusing as hell. A while ago he was worshipping Jongin’s entire being and now it’s like he’s trying to get him back for something. Probably for not giving in to his romantic advances. “What do you mean?”

 

Baekhyun quickly scans the room before he leans closer, like he’s about to tell them a secret. “A few months back he got into a fight at a club. Apparently he beat a guy up so bad he had to be hospitalized for days.”

 

Sehun snorts, shaking his head. “Bullshit, that would’ve been all over the news.”

 

“Oh, come on! Do you think his father would’ve allowed that? Chanyeol told me everything. They paid the witnesses and the kid half a fortune for him to keep their mouths shut.”

 

Kyungsoo doesn’t know what to think of that. Sure, Baekhyun has a huge mouth and tends to bullshit from time to time but he isn’t one to spread false rumors. He finds it hard to imagine Jongin beating someone up but he isn’t stupid enough to judge people based on first impressions.

 

“I find that hard to believe. I mean, I don’t like the guy either but he seems like too much of a momma’s boy if you ask me.”

 

“Why would you think that?” Baekhyun scoffs and shakes his head. “No, look, he has an aggression problem or something. He used to throw these crazy tantrums as a kid where he’d scream and kick around until he calmed down. He had a horrible stutter too and was bullied like crazy at school because of it-“

“Baek, stop.” Kyungsoo interrupts, feeling angry and upset that Baekhyun just told them all of this. It feels like he shouldn’t know any of that - if it happens to be true. “Why would Chanyeol tell you any of this?”

 

“He was drunk and... I might’ve taken advantage of that? Look, I only did it for you Kyungsoo!” Baekhyun shrugs and at least he has the decency to look guilty when Kyungsoo glares at him.

 

“Don’t- just don’t tell those things to anyone else. I’m serious Baekhyun. That’s too private.”

 

“God, okay. I was only planning on telling you guys anyways.” Baekhyun assures him.

 

“Wow.” Sehun raises his eyebrows as he leans back in his chair. “Who would’ve thought our ice prince was a fucking nutcase underneath all that beauty?” He snorts.

 

Kyungsoo feels his chest tighten even more.

 

Was this how Sehun would’ve talked behind his back too if they weren’t friends?

 

Because he knows very well that other people would be talking exactly like this about Kyungsoo too if they knew that he was nothing but worthless trash from the streets.

 

“He’s not a nutcase.” Baekhyun mumbles, almost like he actually feels guilty for revealing all that stuff about Jongin. “I think they send him to therapy so he could get his anger under control. Chanyeol told me it’s why he’s so quiet all the time. Like he’s scared he’s going to blow up like a grenade-“ Baekhyun stops talking when Kyungsoo pushes his chair back, clearly fed up with the conversation. “Okay, okay. I’m done talking. Geez, you’re so sensitive...”

 

“Just be careful with him tomorrow, hyung.” Sehun says as he chews on that little green vegetable that tastes like poison to Kyungsoo. “I don’t trust him.”

 

“I’m always careful.” Kyungsoo sighs as he picks up his tray.

 

 

 

 

He doesn’t see Jongin again until the office is almost empty and Kyungsoo is packing his thing to leave.

 

Jongin is standing at the reception, talking to Miyoung (who is probably the only girl at the office that doesn’t throw herself at the boy at every given chance).

 

He takes his time in clearing his desk so he doesn’t end up interrupting their conversation which definitely would happen since they’re practically standing in front of the elevator.

 

Miyoung smiles brightly and waves at Jongin before she turns around and walks away effortlessly on her high heels. Kyungsoo watches Jongin, expecting the man to look after her like every other guy at the office does but he doesn’t. Instead he looks up and spots Kyungsoo standing there and Kyungsoo feels strangely caught.

 

He shoulders his bag and makes his way towards the elevator, giving Jongin a quick smile as he presses the button. “Aren’t you leaving?”

 

Jongin shakes his head, his hand coming up to rub at the skin behind his ear again and, for some reason, it makes Kyungsoo want to smile. He was expecting it to happen after noticing it this morning. “I have to help Taemin prepare tomorrow’s meeting.”

 

Jongin always stays until late at the office. The skin underneath his eyes looks very thin, probably from how much he works.

 

Kyungsoo can’t help but think about Baekhyun’s words as his eyes sweep over Jongin’s face mindlessly. Nothing about him looks harsh or violent. Instead, Jongin looks like a kid that’s being forced into a suit to make him look like an adult. His shoulders seem tense, like he’s trying to keep them straight instead of how slumped Kyungsoo has seen him walk around twice, when Jongin thought that no one was watching him.

 

He tries to imagine Jongin as a child, how he got teased for his stutter and something twists in his chest at the thought.

 

“Is something wrong?” Jongin asks when Kyungsoo stares at him for too long.

 

Kyungsoo shakes his head. “No. Sorry, I was thinking about something.”

 

Jongin nods and his eyes move to the clock on the wall behind Kyungsoo. “Tomorrow... Is it still on? I mean. I kind of invited myself. I didn’t mean to.”

 

Did he really beat someone up? Jongin can barely look him in the eyes right now, how is someone like him supposed to raise a hand against anyone?

 

“Hyung?”

 

Kyungsoo looks at him with wide eyes, cursing himself for getting lost in his thoughts again. It’s also the first time Jongin has called him that. It’s only natural, since Kyungsoo is two years older but it also suddenly reminds him awfully much of Taeil from the orphanage.

 

Taeil also stutters so Kyungsoo has seen him getting teased by the other kids a lot. He’s had to hold the little boy more often than not when he was crying about them calling him weird names.

 

“Sorry.” Kyungsoo sighs. “No, it’s okay. I already told them you’d come along.”

 

“Okay, then.” Jongin bites at his lips and Kyungsoo deliberately keeps his gaze on Jongin’s eyes. “Should I pick you up? I don’t know where it is...”

 

“Uhm. I was thinking we would just go there straight after work? The kids have to go to bed at eight. I thought you might want to have some time with them before.”

 

“Oh! Y-Yes, absolutely.”

 

Jongin stuttered.

 

Kyungsoo doesn’t know why he suddenly feels so horrible but he does.

 

“If you want, I can make Sehun pick me up in the morning so I can leave my car at home or... I could pick you up, I guess-“

 

“No, no that’s fine. I can drop you off after.”

 

“Okay then.” Kyungsoo nods and Jongin nods too. He rolls his sleeves up and Kyungsoo accidentally spots the smudge of something black on Jongin’s wrist and on the side of his hand.

 

Kyungsoo used to have those marks back in college when he wrote his assignments by hand. Though, he isn’t sure why Jongin would have such a marks now. It’s not like they write papers and reports with a quill and parchment.

 

“I’ll see you tomorrow?” Jongin steps back without turning around and Kyungsoo takes a second too long to tear his eyes away from Jongin’s hand.

 

The boy notices his gaze and not so subtly hides it behind his back which only serves to increase Kyungsoo’s confusion.

 

“Yeah.” Kyungsoo looks up. He tries to figure out why Jongin felt the need to hide his hand but his expression is unreadable all of a sudden. His eyes are guarded in the exact same way they are when he’s around people who are trying to get something out of him. It leaves Kyungsoo’s stomach in knots because he obviously is not one of them.

 

And then he realizes that he is.

 

“Okay. Bye, hyung.” Jongin smiles briefly and then - without waiting for Kyungsoo to speak - turns around and walks away.

 

Kyungsoo stares at his retreating back as his own shoulders slump in defeat.

 

He is trying to get something out of Jongin.

 

He’s no better than them.

 

Not one bit.

 

 

x

 

 

The next day, he doesn’t see Jongin until the evening.

 

He couldn’t really sleep last night. Which isn’t anything new since he suffers from insomnia most nights but normally there isn’t a tangible source for his lack of his sleep.

 

However, last night he kept thinking about Jongin, and his family, and the black smudge on his hand which his mind - for some reason - deemed important enough to ponder about.

 

It’s not like the things Baekhyun told them about Jongin’s past were extremely touching.

 

Kyungsoo has seen and experienced too many things for him to be moved by a trivial story like Jongin’s. There are a lot of people in the world that most certainly experienced the same things in their past.

 

What kept him awake all night was the guilt.

 

He kept tossing around, annoyed and frustrated because there’s no reason for him to be feeling guilty. It’s not his fault that other people treat Jongin like some kind of price, like it’s all some kind of sick competition.

 

He doesn’t owe that kid anything.

 

Yet when he can’t spot the man around the office all morning, his fingers itch and his head pounds from how much he has to fight the urge to just walk up to Jongin’s office and tell him the truth. That he doesn’t want him to come to the orphanage and that he doesn’t want his help.

 

But Kyungsoo bites his tongue and furiously writes his quarterly report. He thinks about Naeun’s cute laugh and Taeil’s imitation of the Hulk in order not to give in.

 

“You’re not chickening out, right?” Sehun asks while he’s getting ready to leave too.

 

“Why would I?” Kyungsoo is reading the same sentence for the nth time. It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. He honestly doesn’t know where his head is.

 

“Because you keep glancing at the guy’s door every two seconds.”

 

“I’m not backing out, Sehun.”

 

“Okay. Just making sure.” Sehun throws a crumpled up post-it into the trash can and then stands in front of Kyungsoo’s desk. “If he tries anything funny you better call me. If he starts to drive you somewhere secluded when he’s dropping you off call the fucking police, you hear me?”

 

Kyungsoo looks up and snorts. “I can take care of myself, you know, and stop being so paranoid.”

 

Sehun shrugs. “It’s called being careful. You should try it some time.”

 

“Go home.” Kyungsoo kicks his legs under the desk.

 

“Alright.” Sehun laughs and starts walking backwards. “But if you don’t text me once you’re home I’m calling the cops!”

 

Kyungsoo waves him off and once the elevator doors slide shut behind Sehun, he’s the only person left at the office.

 

Well, there’s Jongin too because he can still see the light from his office and he doesn’t think Jongin is the type to stand people up.

 

About ten minutes later, when Kyungsoo is just about to send his report to Taemin’s mail account, the door to Jongin’s office opens. Kyungsoo looks up and sees Jongin shrugging on his coat as he makes his way towards Kyungsoo.

 

He looks tired, alarmingly so.

 

“Hi.” Jongin breathes with a little smile once he’s standing in front of Kyungsoo.

 

“Hey.” Kyungsoo sends the mail and shuts his computer off.

 

“Do you need a minute or are you ready to go?”

 

“No, I’m ready.” They walk to the elevator and while they wait for it to arrive Kyungsoo looks to the side and tries to figure out why Jongin looks so tired. “I haven’t seen you all day.”

 

“Hm?” Jongin looks at him. “Oh. Yeah, Taemin’s really busy because of the meeting with the European members. I’m just trying to help him out. People tend to forget that he’s only twenty- five.”

 

Kyungsoo nods his head. Jongin’s right though. No one expected Taemin’s father to die so suddenly. To say that he was unprepared when he was thrown the responsibility of taking over the company would be an understatement. “You look really tired.”

 

Jongin gives him this strange look again, the same from Friday night. Kyungsoo’s never been good at reading people but it’s even more misleading with Jongin. “Is it that bad?” He chuckles nervously though it’s strained and Kyungsoo simply can’t shake the feeling that there’s something he’s missing.

 

“No, but you should try to sleep more.” The elevator arrives and Kyungsoo wants to roll his eyes at himself. Like he’s one to talk about getting more sleep.

 

“I know.” Jongin clears his throat and it’s followed by silence.

 

Jongin has a BMW I8.

 

When Kyungsoo spots it he stops walking.

 

He stares at it like a teenager seeing boobs for the first time.

 

It shouldn’t surprise him. Jongin’s parents are one of the richest people in the country. They did buy Jongin mansions all over the globe.

 

But he’s driving a lousy Volkswagen and this car right here is more expensive than his entire being.

 

Jongin clears his throat. Then, when Kyungsoo manages to tear his gaze away he notices how uncomfortable Jongin looks, when he actually should look smug and tease Kyungsoo about wanting to drive it and whatnot but he’s not.

 

Kyungsoo tries not to whimper when he sees that the car unlocks with a press of Jongin’s thumb against the door handle. The doors then proceed to open upwards instead of sideways. Kyungsoo gives him an incredulous look and Jongin makes a pained face.

 

“I feel like I should change my clothes.” Kyungsoo mutters when he’s sitting on the leather seats seconds later.

 

“Why?” Jongin drives the car out of the parking lot and it feels like the car is gliding over the ground from how smooth the ride is.

 

“I don’t know. I feel dirty.” Kyungsoo snorts and looks out of the window.

 

“Don’t say that.” Jongin says, sounding genuinely upset.

 

They’re silent after that. Kyungsoo probably made Jongin feel uncomfortable and he didn’t mean to. However, he is once again being painfully aware of how incredibly different him and Jongin are.

 

It’s almost like they’re living in entirely different worlds.

 

Kyungsoo has to live on nothing but stale rice for entire weeks because the money’s so tight on him while Jongin is driving this car around like it wouldn’t matter if it crashed, as if he had spare ones at home.

 

Which he probably does.

 

“I didn’t tell them who you are.” Kyungsoo says after a while. “I mean, they don’t know you’re the son of the man who’s buying the orphanage.”

 

Since Seulgi and Joohyun both are a couple of years older than Jongin he doesn’t think there’s a chance they would know about Jongin even though younger girls know who the boy is. It’s not like his face is portrayed everywhere like it is with idols.

 

He also warned the girls not to say anything to Jongin about Kyungsoo being an orphan.

 

There’s no reason for Jongin to know that.

 

“Oh.” Jongin clears his throat, clearly uncomfortable again.

 

“Sorry, I just. It would’ve been weird to them, you know? It’s nothing personal.”

 

“No, it’s okay. I understand.”

 

Jongin’s shoulders are tense after that and Kyungsoo sighs tiredly.

 

He gives Jongin instructions as the man doesn’t know where the orphanage is. Once they’re only minutes away from it he notices that Jongin starts to act a little nervous.

 

The tight grip on the steering wheel gives him away too.

 

“You okay?” Kyungsoo asks.

 

“Yeah. Why are you asking?”

 

“You’re holding that steering wheel like you’re scared someone’s going to take it from you.” Kyungsoo chuckles but stops once he sees how the tips of Jongin’s ears suddenly start darkening.

 

It should look funny, with him wearing that neat suit and sitting in the driver’s seat like the car was uniquely made for him. Nonetheless, it’s just one more thing that makes Kyungsoo feel awful about using him. Jongin’s making it really hard for Kyungsoo to not consider his feelings too.

 

“I’m a bit nervous.” Jongin finally admits. “I’m terrible with people but I’m even worse with kids.”

 

“Don’t you like children?” Kyungsoo frowns. He knows there are lots of people who can’t stand kids and he has always had a hard time understanding that.

 

Jongin shakes his head. “No, no I love children. They just don’t like me.”

 

Kyungsoo can’t help but smile. “Why are you saying that?”

 

“My cousin has a two-year-old girl. Whenever I try to hold her she cries like she’s in actual pain.” Jongin trails off and Kyungsoo feels like he was slapped in the face because Jongin juts his lower lip out.

 

He’s pouting and it makes him look like a kicked puppy. Kyungsoo quickly averts his eyes, trying not to freak out about the way his stomach did a dangerous flip inside him because of that.

 

“That doesn’t mean every child hates you.” Kyungsoo tells him to turn at the next corner. “And I know one of them will definitely like you. His name is Taeil.”

 

“Why do you think that?”

 

“I don’t know. I just feel like you’re going to get along.”

 

 

 

Well, it turns out that Taeil is scared of Jongin.

 

The second they step inside and Kyungsoo announces that he’s there, Naeun and Taeil come running down the stairs like they always do, both of them hugging his legs tightly.

 

Kyungsoo kneels down to give them both a tight hug. “I brought a friend today. Be nice and say hi to him, will you?”

 

His chest fills with pride when Naeun shyly walks up to Jongin and does an awkward bow before reaching her hand out. “My name is Naeun and I’m already four years old!”

 

Jongin gapes at the little girl for a moment, his eyes flickering up to meet Kyungsoo’s who nods his head encouragingly. He tries to make him answer her before the girl gets scared of him. Jongin squats down, which Kyungsoo didn’t expect him to do.

 

Not many people consider doing it when they’re talking to kids but it’s a great way to get them to open up. It stops adults from coming across as superiors to the kids once the height difference is gone. “Hi Naeun. I’m Jongin. And wow... you’re already four? That’s impressive!”

 

Naeun’s face lights up in excitement. “Yes! Taeil is only three! I’m his noona!”

 

Jongin turns to look at the mentioned boy who is currently hiding behind Kyungsoo’s legs. Kyungsoo can see the uncertainty in Jongin’s eyes and decides to help.

 

“Taeil. Go say hi to Jongin.” He urges the little boy but Taeil shakes his head, hiding even more behind Kyungsoo. Kyungsoo sighs and pats his head. “He’s shy. He’ll warm up to you eventually.”

 

Jongin nods and smiles down at Naeun who is already reaching for his hand to hold it. Kyungsoo smiles too. She’s always been fast to warm up to people, which isn’t the best thing given the circumstances because it also means she gets attached quickly and that her little heart breaks very easily when someone leaves her.

 

“Kyungsoo!” Joohyun walks up to them with a bright smile. She hugs Kyungsoo tightly and laughs, pulling away. “I forgot how good you look in a suit.”

 

Kyungsoo shakes his head. “You look beautiful.”

 

Joohyun smirks and pinches his cheeks before turning to greet Jongin. “You must be Jongin then? I’m Joohyun.”

 

“Yes, I am. It’s nice to meet you.” They smile at each other and Kyungsoo, for some reason, waits for Jongin to let his gaze linger on her because Joohyun is one of the most beautiful girls Kyungsoo has ever seen, but Jongin doesn’t.

 

Instead he turns to look at Naeun and gives her a warm smile which makes the girl shy and hide her face against his leg.

 

Joohyun takes Taeil’s hand and turns around. “Come on guys. Dinner will be ready in a couple of minutes.”

 

Jongin looks positively overwhelmed when he sees the huge dinner table.

 

“How many kids live here?” He whispers.

 

“Currently, there are nine, two are temporarily in foster homes.” Kyungsoo explains.

 

“And Joohyun is...?”

 

“She’s one of the caretakers. There are three in total.”

 

It’s like Seulgi and Soojin were waiting for him to say that because they walk in with trays full of food seconds later. Both of them smiling brightly when they see Jongin and Kyungsoo standing there.

 

“Please take your jackets off!” Seulgi laughs, walking over to them. “I feel underdressed because of your suits.”

 

She introduces herself to Jongin and Kyungsoo doesn’t know why, but he feels relieved that both girls seem to like Jongin from the first impression. Though that’s stupid, he shouldn’t care about their opinion on Jongin.

 

Jongin seems nervous to greet Soojin. It’s obvious from the deep bow he does but the tension leaves his shoulders as soon as Soojin smiles at him. “What a handsome young man.” She says, patting his cheek and Kyungsoo gets the same feeling he had in the car when Jongin blushes at her words.

 

 

 

Dinner is as crazy as always. It’s basically impossible to make nearly ten kids sit still, stop them from chatting and make sure they’re eating their vegetables but Kyungsoo is used to this and he’d take this over the silent dinners in his cold apartment any day.

 

The kids keep asking Jongin questions and while Jongin still seems a little nervous there’s a strange glint in his eyes when he talks to all of them and he almost looks happy. The tiredness from before isn’t as evident either.

 

“How did you and Jongin meet?” Seulgi asks. “You never told us about him before.”

 

Kyungsoo tenses and looks to his side where Jongin is sitting. He hopes the boy will play along but Jongin beats him to it.

 

“We work for the same company.” Jongin says. “But I only started a few weeks ago so we haven’t known each other for that long.”

 

Seulgi nods, shooting a weird smile in Kyungsoo’s direction. “You must be special then, Kyungsoo isn’t just friends with anyone. He usually doesn’t bring them here either.”

 

Kyungsoo forcefully stabs into his vegetables, feeling his face heat up when even Joohyun smirks at him. They’re getting it all wrong and Jongin seems to notice too because he clears his throat awkwardly and shifts in his seat.

 

“He didn’t want to.” The boy tries with a nervous smile. “I kind of insisted on coming.”

 

“Well, you’re welcome to visit anytime you want.” Joohyun smiles but it falls a little towards the end. “At least as long as we’re still here.”

 

It goes silent on the table despite the kids still laughing and chatting with each other. Jongin looks down at his empty plate, gnawing at his lip. “I’m really sorry about that. Kyungsoo told me.”

 

Kyungsoo sees him swallow heavily and feels even worse than before because now he isn’t only taking advantage of Jongin, he’s making him feel guilty too.

 

“There’s nothing that can be done.” Soojin says when she sees all their dejected faces. “We have to make the best out of the situation.”

 

Jongin doesn’t really look up from his plate for the rest of the meal and Kyungsoo feels a little sick for entirely different reasons than the Brussels sprouts Soojin managed to sneak into his plate.

 

 

 

 

“He’s really handsome.” Seulgi whispers into his ear later while they’re washing the dishes.

 

Kyungsoo shrugs his shoulders in response and proceeds to put the leftovers into plastic containers.

 

“Don’t you think so?”

 

“I guess.” He mumbles, giving her an irritated look when she keeps staring at him.

 

She suddenly splashes water into his face. “Seulgi, what the hell?!”

 

“Don’t make me worm everything out of you!” She harshly whispers. “Why did you bring him here?”

 

“Because he wanted to see the orphanage!”

 

“Then why are you acting so nervous around each other?”

 

“We’re not!”

 

“He kept glancing at you during dinner.”

 

“No-”

 

Jongin didn’t do that.

 

Did he?

 

“Is there something going on between the two of you?” Seulgi asks, more serious now. “It took you over a year to bring your friend Sehun.”

 

“Of course not!” Kyungsoo blushes furiously at the question and walks over to the fridge to put the containers in. “We’re just colleagues. And what makes you think I’d be into guys?”

 

Seulgi looks unimpressed when he turns around again. “How should I know? You’ve never shown interest in anyone.”

 

“Exactly. I’m not about to start now.” He sighs. “If you find him so handsome then go for it. He likes women.”

 

“I’m not into younger guys but thanks.” Seulgi snorts and pushes a teapot into his chest. “Bring this to our guest, will you?”

 

 

 

 

 

Kyungsoo walks into the living room, still feeling annoyed by Seulgi’s ridiculous assumptions but it fades away when he’s greeted by the sight of Jongin playing with Naeun and her dolls. Taeil sits next to her and is still hiding a little from Jongin.

 

Jongin looks up when Kyungsoo steps closer to put the teapot down where the kids won’t be able to reach and knock it over. He smiles a little nervously, like he’s expecting Kyungsoo to tell him off for playing with the kids but it’s honestly just warming his heart. “I brought you tea.” Kyungsoo says and fills a cup for Jongin before handing it over to him.

 

“Thank you.”

 

Kyungsoo sits down next to them and motions for Taeil to come over to him. Taeil waddles over and plops down in Kyungsoo’s lap. “How are you, buddy?”

 

“G-Good.”

 

Jongin briefly looks up at Taeil when the boy stutters and Kyungsoo suddenly has an idea on how to get the two to warm up to each other.

 

“What did you do today?” He asks Taeil.

 

“I p-played with E-Eunji and her d-doll house.”

 

Kyungsoo hums. “What else?”

 

“W-We p-played in the g-g-ga-” Sometimes Taeil’s stutter gets so bad that he can’t finish a sentence or get the word he wants to say out. Like right now. Taeil makes a frustrated sound.

 

“It’s okay, buddy. Try again.” Kyungsoo mumbles but Taeil shakes his head. “Why not?”

 

“B-Because h-he’s here.” Taeil points at Jongin who’s been watching them silently. “H-He’s g- going to l-laugh at me.”

 

“No he won’t.” Kyungsoo assures him and looks up at Jongin who’s looking at Taeil with a strange expression. “Right, Jongin?”

 

“Of course not.” Jongin says. He tilts his head down a little so he can look at Taeil’s face. “I used to stutter too when I was little, you know?”

 

Bull’s eye.

 

Taeil looks at Jongin with wide eyes. “R-Really? B-But y-you d-don’t stutter n-now.”

 

“That’s because I practiced a lot to get rid of it.” Jongin explains.

 

“T-The h-hyungs m-make fun o-of me all t-the time.” Taeil mumbles.

 

Jongin gives him a solemn smile. “I know. It’s okay. They used to make fun of me too.”

 

Kyungsoo smiles to himself, glad that his plan worked out because after that, Taeil switches places and sits down on Jongin’s lap instead. Taeil suddenly acts like Jongin is his biggest hero and he won’t let go of him but it doesn’t look like Jongin minds it that much. He smiles and laughs with the little boy and pats his head.

 

He tells Taeil that he has to be brave when the bullies tease him and that he can get over his stutter if he’s strong and Taeil says he’s stronger than Iron Man.

 

Kyungsoo watches them interact with a weird feeling in his chest. He watches how Jongin brushes an eyelash from the little boy’s cheek so gently as if he’s touching something really fragile. Jongin looks up once and catches Kyungsoo staring. He gives him a timid smile and Kyungsoo suddenly finds it hard to focus on anything else but the way Jongin’s eyes crinkle when he smiles.

 

 

 

 

 

When it’s nearing eight o’clock Soojin walks in and tells the kids to go upstairs and get ready for bed.

 

Taeil immediately starts tearing up. “H-Hyung, c-can’t you s-stay with us?” He looks up at Jongin and Kyungsoo’s heart nearly breaks.

 

People come and people leave, Kyungsoo knows that feeling all too well. Jongin is probably the first person that understands Taeil so well and it’s obvious from how the boy is clinging to him that he already likes him a lot.

 

“I’m sorry, I can’t stay here Taeil.” Jongin mumbles, rubbing the boy’s back when he starts crying.

 

“Taeil, how about you go get ready for bed and Jongin hyung can read you a story after?” Kyungsoo looks up at Jongin to check if it’s okay and Jongin quickly nods.

 

“C-Can you read m-me Pororo?” Taeil sniffles, still clinging to Jongin’s shoulders.

 

Jongin chuckles. “Yeah, of course.”

 

Taeil wipes his tears away and stands up. Kyungsoo nudges Naeun who’s already half asleep in his lap. “Hey little one. Go and help Taeil brush his teeth, will you?”

 

Naeun nods immediately and runs up to hold Taeil’s hand like she’s his bigger sister.

 

Once both kids are out of the room Kyungsoo looks at Jongin and the latter holds his gaze until suddenly, they both start smiling.

 

“I thought children didn’t like you.” Kyungsoo says and Jongin laughs nervously and Kyungsoo can’t stop himself from smiling at the ground.

 

He isn’t sure what’s going on but there’s a light feeling in his chest and it’s not going away no matter how many deep breaths he takes.

 

“Naeun seems to love you a lot. She hasn’t let go of you all evening.” Jongin remarks.

 

“I think it’s because I’m the only male figure in her life.” Kyungsoo shrugs but Jongin shakes his head.

 

“But you love her too. Your smile is different when you look at her.”

 

They stare at each other for a few tense seconds before they get interrupted by Naeun’s voice from upstairs, shouting that they’re ready.

 

Kyungsoo looks for Taeil’s favorite Pororo book so Jongin can read it to him. When he walks back to his bed Jongin is sitting on the mattress with both kids curled into his sides.

 

“They forced me.” Jongin says and Kyungsoo wishes he would stop being so nervous. It’s not like Kyungsoo is going to scold him for being nice to the kids.

 

He chuckles and hands Jongin the book. “I know, they can be little monsters.”

 

Naeun giggles and reaches her hands out. “Come sit with us, oppa!”

 

“The bed’s too small, Naeun. I’ll read to you next time, okay?” Kyungsoo goes to sit on the chair next to the bed but Naeun starts whining.

 

“No, here! I can sit on your lap!” She insists, suddenly pouting almost like she knows how Kyungsoo can’t deny her anything when she looks at him with those eyes.

 

“Naeun, please-”

 

“Hyung, it’s okay.” Jongin suddenly says, tapping Taeil to get the boy to sit on his lap. He moves to the side of the mattress. “There’s enough room here.”

 

No, there’s definitely not. Kyungsoo doesn’t want to be squeezed into a small bed with Kim Jongin.

 

But Naeun looks at him accusingly, like he’s breaking her heart and he’s just too soft when it comes to the little girl.

 

“Okay, get up.” He grunts and moves to sit down on the bed, Naeun plopping into his lap happily right after.

 

His entire right side is pressed up against Jongin’s, he can feel every shift of Jongin’s muscles through the thin fabric of their shirts and when Jongin moves to open the book, he’s hit with the faint scent of mint again, just like back at the club.

 

He tries to focus on the story he’s read to the kids a hundred times before. Tries to relax to the sound of them giggling but Jongin is making ridiculous voices while he’s reading and the laughter that rumbles through him makes Kyungsoo’s skin tingle in all the wrong ways.

 

Naeun and Taeil fall asleep, a bit later than they usually would but Kyungsoo guesses they were fighting sleep so they could spend more time with Jongin. When Taeil starts snoring Jongin carefully closes the book and places it on the table beside the bed.

 

He turns to look at Kyungsoo and Kyungsoo feels a little heady with how close they’re sitting.

 

“That was impressive.” Kyungsoo says and Jongin soon enough rubs at the skin behind his ear.

 

He chuckles silently. “Thanks.”

 

Taeil suddenly sleepily reaches up and touches Jongin's face, nearly poking his chubby fingers into the boy's eye.

 

Kyungsoo snickers upon seeing the weirded out expression on Jongin's face. "Why is he doing that?"

 

“He likes to touch people's eyelashes when he's falling asleep." Kyungsoo explains, the corners of his lips twitching when Jongin furrows his eyebrows in confusion.

 

He frowns and squints his eye so the little boy actually doesn't poke him and Kyungsoo chuckles softly when Taeil starts running his fingertips over Jongin's eyelashes, snuggling some more into Jongin's chest. "I've never seen a kid do that."

 

 

“Yeah, it's kind of weird. I don't know how he picked that habit up to be honest. He likes to do it more on Joohyun or Seulgi though because they're wearing makeup and it makes their lashes longer."

 

They both laugh quietly but Jongin's gaze on the sleeping toddler in his lap turns soft. He circles his arms around Taeil's small frame and the little boy turns his head to hide it in Jongin's chest like he's seeking for warmth and comfort. Kyungsoo's chest feels warm as he watches how gently Jongin is holding him, how Taeil has his fingers curled around Jongin's wrist like he's trying to make him stay, even in his sleep. "He's really adorable. They all are." Jongin whispers quietly. His eyes turn a bit sad as he takes in the sad excuses for beds on the floor and Kyungsoo turns his head away.

 

It's silent again for a moment. Kyungsoo can hear the girls talking downstairs and the older kids who are allowed to stay up a little longer giggle in the room next door.

 

“I admire you for what you're doing." Jongin whispers, making Kyungsoo look up at him again. “Taeil told me you bring them a lot of toys and clothes.“

 

Kyungsoo shifts, slightly uneasy with how warm Jongin's eyes on him feel. He's not nearly doing enough. It will never be enough until Kyungsoo can find a way to turn back time and stop their mothers from giving up on them.

 

Jongin keeps staring at him and Kyungsoo keeps avoiding his eyes. "I didn't think you'd be like this." The younger mumbles.

 

“Like what?"

 

“Don't know. You always look so... indifferent at work. I don't think I've ever seen you smile until today with the kids." He pauses and looks away, his voice a little shaky when he speaks again. “You should smile more often. It suits you.“

 

Kyungsoo freezes for a moment and feels his face heat up which hasn't happened in so long and he forgot how much he hates the feeling, knowing that his cheeks must look flushed right now but not being able to do anything about it. "We should go before we wake them up." He clears his throat and wraps Naeun's legs around himself so he can lift her up from his sitting position.

 

They put the kids into their beds silently and when they step away they end up knocking into each other. Jongin's hands reach out to steady Kyungsoo, a hushed "Sorry" slipping past his lips and Kyungsoo just turns around and flees the room like he's being chased because the way his heart just flipped definitely wasn’t something he ever agreed to.

 

 

 

 

They’re about to leave, half an hour later, and it seems like it’s not only the children that took a liking to Jongin.

 

Soojin hands Jongin a bag full of containers with food and no matter how much Jongin tries to deny it, she’s not having it. “You’re too skinny, just like our Kyungsoo.”

 

“Make sure to visit again, okay?” Joohyun says and Jongin nods and no one but Kyungsoo sees the miserable look in his eyes.

 

Seulgi hugs Kyungsoo before they leave. “Thank you for the money, Soo.” She whispers, hugging him tighter.

 

Kyungsoo sighs and rubs her back. “It’s fine.”

 

 

 

 

 

Jongin is silent until they’re sitting in his car again.

 

He’s silent after that too, all the way to Kyungsoo’s apartment. Kyungsoo can’t help but feel it’s his fault, knows that Jongin probably feels extremely guilty right now, which was the plan but Kyungsoo doesn’t like how it makes him feel in return.

 

Jongin parks the car in front of Kyungsoo’s apartment and he proceeds to gaze at the neighborhood mindlessly.

 

Kyungsoo wonders what he’s thinking because it’s obvious from the condition of the streets and apartments that only people from the lower middle class live here.

 

“They’re really nice.” Jongin breaks the silence.

 

“I know.”

 

“I feel like a fucking asshole.” Jongin chuckles humorlessly and Kyungsoo sighs, cursing himself, cursing his friends and Jongin’s parents.

 

“You don’t have to.” Kyungsoo mumbles. “It’s not like you knew what your parents were doing.”

 

“But they’re my parents. I feel ashamed that they are being so cruel.” Jongin shakes his head and takes a deep breath after. “I’ll try to talk to them, hyung. But you... you need to understand, they’re my parents I can’t- I can’t question them so directly. I mean you’d understand, right? You wouldn’t want to accuse your parents of something like this either.”

 

Kyungsoo smiles, small and bitter as he nods his head.

 

“Of course not.” It comes out slightly choked and Kyungsoo wants to leave this damn car right now. He has never had a problem talking about this but this entire night has been toying with his feelings and he just wants to go to sleep. “Thanks for giving me a ride.” Kyungsoo unbuckles his seatbelt and reaches for the door handle, fumbling with it since there’s no real handle to begin with.

 

“Wait.” Jongin chuckles and reaches his arm over him, the side of his torso pressing up against Kyungsoo’s chest and there’s the smell of mint and Jongin’s warmth and Kyungsoo grits his teeth. Jongin opens the door for him and Kyungsoo quickly leaves the car. “See you at work tomorrow?”

 

Kyungsoo nods. “Goodnight.”

 

“Goodnight hyung.”

 

Jongin’s car doesn’t make a sound as he drives away and Kyungsoo doesn’t know why he feels like calling Jongin back to tell him the truth.

 

Needless to say, he goes through a sleepless night once again.

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Kyungsoo gets these pains from time to time, on the left side of his chest right above his heart and a little under his collarbone.

 

He felt it for the first time two years ago and thought he had a problem with his heart. However, once he was sure he wasn’t going to die he didn’t bother going to the doctor to get it checked out.

 

Until last year, when he nearly passed out while watching a movie with Sehun in his apartment. It was hard to breathe through the pain and he started wheezing and Sehun drove him into the ER because he thought his best friend was dying.

 

Kyungsoo wasn’t dying nor did he have a problem with his heart.

 

The pain was caused by the muscles around his spine tensing up so much that started affecting other muscles in his body too. Mainly his chest, causing them to stiffen and inflame.

 

It helps when he presses his knuckles left and right on his spine but it’s hard to reach so he mostly just ignores it until the pain goes away.

 

“Does your chest hurt again?” Sehun asks while he’s blowing some air into his tea to cool it off. The office isn’t as crowded today, a lot of employees being on a statistics seminar.

 

Kyungsoo shakes his head. Sehun rolls his eyes and a moment later he stands behind Kyungsoo and pats his shoulder, motioning for him to get up. Kyungsoo sighs and stands and Sehun expertly presses his knuckles into the right muscles, making Kyungsoo wince from the harsh pain it shoots up his spine. He presses them in there for about a minute before Kyungsoo exhales shakily, the muscles loosening up and giving him room to breathe.

 

“Better?” Sehun steps away and sits back at his desk.

 

“Yes. Thank you.” Kyungsoo smiles at his best friend because no matter how much they fight and how annoying Sehun can be, he’s probably the best friend Kyungsoo could ask for.

 

“So, what’s going on? Is Jongin going to talk to his parents?”

 

Kyungsoo sits down and nods. “He said so... I don’t think we should expect much from it though.”

 

“We’ll see about that. You didn’t tell them who he is though, right?”

 

“No.”

 

“So, I’m guessing they liked him.”

 

Kyungsoo nods.

 

Sehun grunts. “More than me?”

 

“Sehun.” Kyungsoo groans, chuckling when Sehun pouts at him.

 

It doesn’t affect him when Sehun makes silly faces like this so it annoys him immensely that he reacted the way he did when Jongin did the same yesterday.

 

When Jongin walks in a moment later he looks in the direction of Kyungsoo’s desk and Kyungsoo contemplates looking away, acting like he didn’t see him but then Jongin smiles at him, shy and small but genuine and Kyungsoo physically can’t look away. Jongin stares at him until someone calls his name which makes him look away and turn around.

 

“What the actual fuck.”

 

“What?”

 

“What was that?!” Sehun glares at him.

 

Kyungsoo shifts in his seat. “What are you talking about?”

 

Sehun’s eyes are wider than usual. “He’s fucking smitten with you!”

 

Kyungsoo feels his heart plummet to the pit of his stomach. “Don’t be an idiot.”

 

“No, the only idiot here is you!”

 

Kyungsoo glares at him like never before and Sehun cowers a bit. “I’m sorry hyung... But I’m being completely serious right now. What did you do to him? You’re like a grumpy grandpa why the hell would he like you?!”

 

“You’re being stupid.” Kyungsoo takes a calming breath and shakes his head. “Have you been watching those dramas again?”

 

“Maybe.” Sehun shrugs. He’s silent for a while before he curses under his breath. “This is all my fault. I came up with this plan and now the enemy’s fallen for my tiny hyung.”

 

“No one has fallen for anyone.” Kyungsoo hisses.

 

“You wouldn’t know! You’re romantically inept! You wouldn’t know someone was in love with you even if they told you straight to your face!”

 

“Drop it!”

 

“I forbid you from taking him to the orphanage again.” Sehun says. “We’ll come up with another plan. I’m not leaving you alone with that pervert-“

 

The rubber band Kyungsoo sends flying against his arm makes Sehun howl in pain and look at him like has Kyungsoo betrayed him.

 

But it made him shut up so there’s that.

 

 

x

 

 

Taeil doesn’t stop asking about Jongin when Kyungsoo visits them two days later. Even the girls want Kyungsoo to bring Jongin with him again.

 

Kyungsoo has to promise to bring Jongin along since otherwise, Taeil won’t stop crying.

 

It starts feeling like he’s stuck into quicksand and he sinks in deeper the more he tries to set things right.

 

For the next few days Kyungsoo tries to figure out how should he approach Jongin and ask him to come and visit the orphanage again or at least try to find out if the boy has talked to his parents about it.

 

It’s not only hard because Kyungsoo is awkward as hell and isn’t sure how to approach him but also because he rarely ever sees Jongin at the office anymore. He’s working from seven to god knows when and only leaves his office to use the bathroom or grab lunch with Chanyeol or Junmyeon.

 

They only have seen each other twice in the past three days and Jongin did the same thing every time: Look into Kyungsoo’s eyes, give him that smile and look away again.

 

Kyungsoo simply refuses to believe that there could be something true behind the things Seulgi or Sehun implied.

 

He’s not even thinking of Jongin at this point, it’s his own thoughts that are making him feel like he’s losing his mind.

 

Kyungsoo can positively say that there hasn’t been one moment in his life so far where he ever thought about someone in a romantic or even sexual way.

 

When he told this to Sehun a few months after his friend failed to set him up with pretty girls his first assumption was that Kyungsoo was gay.

 

He started introducing random dudes to Kyungsoo. Nothing happened. Kyungsoo told him the same thing again.

 

Now Sehun is perfectly sure that Kyungsoo is either aromantic, asexual or both.

 

And to be honest, Kyungsoo would prefer it if that was the case but it’s not.

 

His past doesn’t really allow him to get too close to people. Especially not when it’s about love because when you love someone, losing them feels like a near death experience. At least, that’s what he’s been told.

 

He remembers exactly how it felt to lose his friends one by one back in the orphanage. How it felt to lose that one caretaker that had been like a father to him for three years before he decided to leave.

 

So Kyungsoo is absolutely terrified when he finds himself staring at Jongin for too long when the boy decides to leave his office for more than two minutes.

 

When he catches himself thinking about how sad Jongin looked talking with Taeil about him getting bullied as a kid.

 

How the slightest hint of mint suddenly reminds him of Jongin.

 

He wants to blow the entire thing off just so he can avoid Jongin and stop himself from acting like this.

 

When he runs into Jongin (literally) the next day after work in the parking lot he decides he will put an end to it.

 

It’s better for both of them but mostly for Kyungsoo. He won’t feel so guilty anymore and his stomach won’t constantly be in knots whenever he catches a glimpse of Jongin’s form around the office.

 

“This is, like, the third time this has happened.” Jongin chuckles and squats to pick up the folders that fell from his hands when him and Kyungsoo stumbled into each other while Kyungsoo was looking for his car keys.

 

Kyungsoo helps him organize the pages back into the folders. He repeats the words he had prepared over and over again so he won’t fuck it up because this is his chance to make this madness stop.

 

But he suddenly spots something that doesn’t look like a report or numbers or anything work related for that matter.

 

It’s a drawing.

 

Not just one, there’s a bunch of them.

 

Kyungsoo frowns and pulls one away on instinct when Jongin reaches out to take it from him.

 

“Hyung-” Jongin starts but Kyungsoo shakes his head and studies the pattern of lines in his hands. It’s a drawing of a stag.

 

It’s... amazing.

 

There are flowers - baby’s breath, Kyungsoo realizes on closer inspection - its horns and thin lines look like threads wound around them.

 

“Did you draw this?” Kyungsoo asks, not even remembering what he wanted to say before.

 

Jongin looks at him warily before he nods.

 

“I... I didn’t know you could draw so well.” Kyungsoo looks up and his breath falters when he sees how Jongin is looking at him. “That’s really impressive.” He clears his throat and reaches the drawing out to give it back.

 

Jongin is strangely silent as he looks at the paper. He reaches out to take it.

 

The tips of their fingers brush and Jongin doesn’t pull away. He lets the drawing hang between their hands and Kyungsoo’s hand is tingling, from his fingertips all the way up to the bend of his elbow.

 

Jongin looks up again and his dark eyes are kind of mesmerizing.

 

“No one...” Jongin finally pulls his hand back and with it the drawing of the stag. “No one really knows.” He says as he puts all the drawings back into the black leather folder. Kyungsoo has the urge to ask to see the other ones as well but he knows it’s not his place.

 

Jongin already seemed reluctant to let him look at that one drawing.

 

“Why not?”

 

“It’s kind of a long story.”

 

Kyungsoo nods and looks away, down at Jongin’s hands and sure enough there is a smudge of black on Jongin’s hand again. “Do you draw at the office too?”

 

 

 

Jongin furrows his eyebrows and follows the line of Kyungsoo’s sight. The tips of his ears turn red when he realizes what Kyungsoo’s referring to. He rubs at the spot to remove it. “I do. Sometimes during lunch or after work. The lighting in the office is really nice. It... I don’t know. It helps me relax.”

 

Kyungsoo thinks about what Baekhyun told him, about Jongin’s aggression problem, about him going to therapy to overcome it and control himself. He wonders if drawing helps him with that.

 

He remembers what he wanted to say but when he opens his lips it’s not the words he wanted to say that come out. “Taeil asked about you.” He says, cursing himself to the moon and back as soon as the words are out. “He... I think he misses you.”

 

“Really?” Jongin’s entire face lights up and Kyungsoo can’t find it in himself to be mad anymore, not when Jongin looks so happy about something so small. “I miss him too. He’s really adorable.”

 

The question is obvious, hanging between them in the air. “Do you want to see him again?” Kyungsoo asks, his heart pounding as he does it.

 

Jongin shrugs, eyes boring into Kyungsoo’s. “Would that be okay with you?”

 

“Yes. Sure.” Kyungsoo clears his throat again. “I’m going tomorrow after work. Uhm, if you want to come too.”

 

“Yeah. Okay.” Jongin smiles. “So, same as last time?”

 

Kyungsoo guesses Jongin is asking about driving and he nods. “I can drive too, you know. But I’m not sure I want to put you through that.” He nods his head towards his car and Jongin turns to look at it, chuckling once he spots it.

 

“It’s cute.” He smiles, looking back into Kyungsoo’s eyes and his own crinkle in the corners again. Kyungsoo suddenly just wants to get out of here.

 

“Alright. See you tomorrow.” He gets up, his knees cracking from crouching down for so long.

 

“Hyung.“ Jongin says as they both get back up on their feet. “Are you busy right now?”

 

Kyungsoo fixes the strap of his bag, shrugging his shoulders. "I was just going home. Why?”

 

Jongin looks extremely nervous for some reason. People never really get like this around Kyungsoo, it’s mostly the other way around but he supposes that Jongin is just a very shy person from nature. "Do you want to grab a coffee or something?”

 

“What?” Kyungsoo can’t help but frown at the question. Why would Jongin want to grab a coffee with him?

 

What does that even mean? Kyungsoo honestly doesn’t know, no one has ever asked him to go grab a coffee with them before.

 

He knows that it sometimes is considered to be a date but surely Jongin didn’t refer to that, right?

 

Jongin’s eyes widen when he notices Kyungsoo’s confusion and he hurriedly shakes his head. “Oh no! I didn’t mean it like that. I just have a few questions about the orphanage... But if you don’t have time that’s totally fine.“

 

“Oh.” Kyungsoo clears his throat, fighting the urge in his mind to decline right away. It’s like there are alarm bells going off in his head, telling him to turn around and flee before it’s too late.

 

But it’s just coffee, right? And if Kyungsoo can answer him a few questions that only heightens the chances of Jongin wanting to help him with the issue.

 

He sighs. Sehun would be so proud of him.

 

“I guess I have a little time.” He says and tries to ignore the way Jongin’s eyes light up for a second.

 

 

 

Jongin drives them to a café Kyungsoo has never been in before.

 

And once they step inside and takes a look at the price table he understands why.

 

God, does he even have that much money in his wallet?

 

“Hi Jongin.” A girl with a pink apron walks up to them, smiling at Jongin warmly. "Haven’t seen you here in a while.”

 

“Hi Noona.“ Jongin smiles sheepishly. "Yeah, work’s keeping me pretty busy.”

 

The girl hums. "Slowly following in your father’s footsteps, I see?”

 

“Yeah, well. Someone has to.” Jongin clears his throat once he remembers Kyungsoo standing next to them. "This is Kyungsoo hyung, he’s working for Taemin too.”

 

Kyungsoo and the woman exchange their greetings and Kyungsoo tries not to stare too much but it’s hard since everyone related to Jongin in some kind of way seems to possess a kind of beauty that just seems out of this world.

 

It makes him feel like he shouldn’t even breathe in the same air as them.

 

“You guys go sit down. I’ll bring you your orders in a minute.” The woman who introduces herself as Yoona says after asking them what they’d like to drink.

 

“Can you put them in paper cups?” Jongin asks, turning to look at Kyungsoo. “I mean, if it’s okay. I thought we could take a walk…”

 

Kyungsoo hurriedly nods. “Yeah. Of course.” He’d feel better being out in the open rather than stuck somewhere with Jongin anyway.

 

Yoona slowly nods her head and Kyungsoo directs his eyes somewhere else when he notices the subtle lift of one of her eyebrows in Jongin’s direction.

 

Jongin clears his throat and guides Kyungsoo away with a hand on his elbow, away from the woman and towards the end of the counter where they give out the finished orders. They stand there in silence for a moment and Kyungsoo takes his time to admire the interior of the café and the unique architecture of it.

 

“She has a degree in interior design.” Jongin explains after taking in Kyungsoo’s curious eyes. “Her fiancé’s the owner of the café so she’s responsible for the entire design. It’s nice, isn’t it?”

 

Kyungsoo looks up at him and tries not to shy away from Jongin’s attentive gaze on him. People usually don’t look at him like that, like for some reason they’re entirely focused on him. “It’s really pretty.” He looks at the the little different shapes of glass containers everywhere, the rims made out of gold and copper, little candles and succulents placed inside of them.

 

Yoona passes them and winks at Jongin and Kyungsoo can’t help but notice how relaxed Jongin seems, how he doesn’t hesitate to smile at her when at the office it seems impossible to get the boy to lift the corners of his mouth for a moment.

 

Once she leaves Kyungsoo clears his throat. “You seem to know her pretty well.”

 

Jongin purses his lips. “She used to babysit me.”

 

“Really?” Kyungsoo looks to where the woman is standing behind the counter, pouring some whipped cream on top of a drink. She doesn’t look much older than them.

 

Jongin chuckles. “She’s already thirty. Great genes, right?”

 

Kyungsoo chuckles and nods his head. They fall silent then, surrounded by the soft tunes of some indie song. It’s warm and smells nice in here and Kyungsoo feels really sleepy all of a sudden. He isn’t one to do things after work like most of his colleagues who go out for drinks most of the time. Usually he’d be home taking a hot shower while the rice for his dinner is cooking.

 

When Yoona hands them their coffees a while later Kyungsoo reaches for his wallet to pay for it but Jongin waves him off, which makes Kyungsoo give him a stern look.

 

“You’re not paying for me.”

 

‘It’s just a coffee.” Jongin mumbles.

 

“No, please don’t.” Kyungsoo feels his skin prickle for some reason. He doesn’t like this at all, he doesn’t like people paying for his things because it’s what Sehun does, what Baekhyun does because they know how he’s struggling with money all the time.

 

Jongin probably doesn’t know that but that doesn’t manage to make him feel better about this in any way.

 

“And I asked you to grab a coffee with me, right? It’s only polite to pay for it if you invite someone.” Jongin frowns at him as he hands a bill to Yoona who regards them with a strange look while she walks to the cash register.

 

Kyungsoo keeps his mouth shut, feeling heat spread on his face.

 

It’s not because he’s touched by Jongin’s gesture.

 

He’s just frustrated and embarrassed that someone younger than him pays for his stuff when it definitely should be the other way around.

 

It makes him wonder if those mannerisms even apply anymore if there’s such a huge difference in social status.

 

"Keep the change.” Jongin shakes his head when Yoona wants to hand him a few bills which makes Kyungsoo notice just how much money Jongin gave her.

 

“Jongin…” Yoona sighs but Jongin only grabs their coffees and turns to walk away.

 

“Say hi to Minho hyung from me, will you?” He asks over his shoulder while holding the door open for Kyungsoo with his arm.

 

Yoona gives him a strange smile on his way out and Kyungsoo can feel her eyes burn into his back until they’re out of the café.

 

 

“Thank you.” Kyungsoo mumbles after they’ve been walking for five minutes, heading towards what he guesses to be the park with the lake. “For the coffee.”

 

Jongin smiles at him. “It’s fine.”

 

The air around them grows colder steadily as the sun slowly disappears as well. The frosty wind biting at his skin feels like a reminder that winter is coming.

 

Kyungsoo suddenly realizes that he still hasn’t watched the new season of Game Of Thrones and that makes him think that he’d rather be home catching up on the series than walking beside Kim Jongin with an anxious mind.

 

They don’t really talk until they’ve reached the park which is practically empty due to the ugly weather. It makes everything seem really calm, just the patch of nature in the middle of the crowded city with leaves falling from trees and the lake in the middle looking like it’s already frozen.

 

After sitting down on one of the benches along the lake Kyungsoo curls his fingers around the paper cup in his hand in hopes of warming them up.

 

"You said you had questions about the orphanage.” Kyungsoo asks, trying to speed things up since Jongin seems really hesitant for some reason.

 

He turns to look at Jongin when the boy doesn’t answer him instantly. Jongin is staring at the lake like he’s looking for answers to a question.

 

"Hyung.“ He mumbles without looking at Kyungsoo. "What’s going to happen to them?“

 

And somehow Kyungsoo just knows what he’s talking about. He turns to gaze at the lake as well, watches the ripples on the surface caused by the cold breeze in the air. "I’m not sure.” He answers. "They will probably be assigned to foster families across the country.“

 

"But that’s not so bad, right?” Jongin’s voice is hesitant and careful, like he knows that he’s treading on thin ice with this subject. "At least they will have a family.”

 

Kyungsoo likes to think that he’s a well composed person, that he is in control of his emotions rather than the other way around.

 

But something in him snaps whenever someone does as much as imply something negative about the orphanage or the kids and the care takers.

 

"They already have a family.” Kyungsoo bites out, well aware that that’s not true but calling those money-mad people family is even further from the truth.

 

"I’m sorry.” Jongin is quick to say once he notices how reserved Kyungsoo suddenly seems. "I just mean... I know that the caretakers love the kids but I imagine it must be hard taking care of each child’s needs individually if there’s a dozen of them. A child needs full attention, right?”

 

Kyungsoo grits his teeth together. He knows what Jongin says is true but he can’t help but feel like the boy is trying to justify his parents’ actions, like he’s trying to twist the truth so it looks like his parents are actually trying to help them instead of them robbing them of their home.

 

"I didn’t mean to be rude. I’m just trying to understand.” Jongin says and he sounds genuinely sorry.

 

Kyungsoo loosens his death grip on his cup and takes a deep breath. "I know. Sorry for snapping at you.”

 

"Don’t... Please don’t apologize.” Jongin sighs and presses his eyes closed. "Hyung, please believe me that I’m not trying to defend my parents. I’m really not. Especially not after meeting the kids.”

 

They’re both silent again for a moment, listening to traffic outside of the park and the few birds that haven’t left for the south yet.

 

"Are you close with your parents?” Kyungsoo breaks the silence.

 

"Yes.” Jongin says without hesitating and then, like he knows what Kyungsoo’s thinking, he adds “Just because they have a lot of money doesn’t mean they’re heartless people, you know?“ There’s a solemn smile on his face that manages to make Kyungsoo feel bad for a second.

 

"They raised me with so much love. They always put me first despite their loaded work schedules. They’ve never done anything to purposely harm other people. That’s why I’m so confused about this. I don’t get why my parents would ever do something like that.”

 

Kyungsoo mulls over Jongin’s words. "Maybe there’s things they don’t tell you about. They kept the deal with the orphanage a secret too, didn’t they?”

 

“I know.” Jongin gulps and he looks so miserable that Kyungsoo feels guilt well up in his chest once again. He doesn’t think it’s fair that Jongin is getting all the blame for the things his parents are doing. "I have another question, if that’s okay.“ Jongin turns to look at him and Kyungsoo is momentarily distracted by how red the tip of his nose is from the cold.

 

It makes him look like a child and something twists in Kyungsoo’s chest for some unknown reason.

 

"Shoot.”

 

"How come you know the kids and the workers at the orphanage so well?” Jongin asks.

 

If Kyungsoo were to tell the truth he’d tell Jongin that he grew up with Joohyun and Seulgi. He’d tell him that they used to play hide and seek in the garden and build blanket forts all over the house. He would tell him about that time Kyungsoo broke his arm after he fell from the tree and how Seulgi and Joohyun carried him inside and didn’t go to sleep until he came back from the hospital late at night.

 

He would tell him that Soojin would kiss him goodnight and put colorful band aids on his injuries. He would describe how Soojin would stay up all night to try and get Kyungsoo’s fever down. He would tell him how he used to call Soojin mom until he was old enough to realize that the woman was not his real mother.

 

"I went to college with Seulgi and Joohyun.“ He lies instead. "Once they started working at the orphanage after I helped them with building furniture and things like that. And then I just... kept going back.“

 

Jongin looks at him for a few seconds and Kyungsoo wonders if he can tell that Kyungsoo lied but Jongin ends up nodding his head. "I see.“

 

Kyungsoo changes the subject before Jongin can ask him anymore questions for which he wouldn’t be able to come up with a plausible answer instantly. "So, why didn’t you pursue art?”

 

This makes the boy tense up and it doesn’t go unnoticed by Kyungsoo. "I only recently started drawing and by then I was already about to graduate in business. And someone needs to take over my dad’s company in the future, right? So I never really considered it.”

 

Kyungsoo takes Jongin’s features in, how soft every line on his face seems. "But would you do it? If you had the chance?”

 

Jongin shrugs. "I don’t think I’m good enough.”

 

"You are.” Kyungsoo is quick to say. "I mean. I don’t understand much about art but from what I saw you’re really... really talented.”

 

Jongin looks up at him and Kyungsoo wishes he didn’t because the look on his face is too intimate all of a sudden. His ears are dusted in pink and it should look stupid but it makes Jongin seem vulnerable and somehow that ignites an urge inside of Kyungsoo’s chest, to make sure that Jongin is okay and feels comfortable around him which is ridiculous. Kyungsoo definitely isn’t supposed to care. "What about you?”

 

"What about me?”

 

"Is there anything that’s important to you?” Jongin asks. A gush of wind hits them and Jongin visibly shudders. "Besides the orphanage, I mean.”

 

Kyungsoo shakes his head. "No.”

 

"No?”

 

"What else could there be?” Kyungsoo huffs, burrowing some more into his jacket.

 

"I don’t know.” Jongin frowns and Kyungsoo tries really hard not to get lost in Jongin’s face, his red bitten lips, his dark gaze, the way his skin seems to glow despite the grey surrounding them.

 

Kyungsoo tries really hard not to be one of them, who turn stupid at the sight of him.

 

"There has to be something that makes you happy, right?”

 

"There is.” Kyungsoo sighs. "The children being safe and happy. That makes me happy.”

 

Jongin stares at him for a while and his gaze softens and Kyungsoo wants to tell him to stop. He needs to stop. "Are you ever selfish, hyung?”

 

Kyungsoo finally turns to look Jongin in the eyes, resisting the urge to let his gaze wander south to his lips. "I’m always selfish.”

 

"I don’t believe that.” Jongin licks his lips and Kyungsoo’s breath falters. "You look really tired, you know? You always look tired.”

 

"Always?” Kyungsoo chuckles because he doesn’t like how serious and... worried Jongin sounds.

 

"We have been working together for more than a year, you know? I’ve never seen you look well rested.”

 

"Sounds like you were watching me a lot, then.” Kyungsoo snorts, trying to ease the atmosphere but Jongin once again foils him.

 

"Maybe…” He mumbles, averting his eyes nervously when Kyungsoo’s turn confused. "Maybe I was.”

 

 

x

 

 

Jongin doesn’t seem to be at the office the next day, at least Kyungsoo doesn’t see him around. He doesn’t know if he just started paying more attention to the man’s whereabouts or if the other is simply busier.

 

He gets his answer late in the afternoon when he’s about to copy a couple of statistics reports Miyoung gave him earlier.

 

Jongin is busy alright.

 

He’s standing at the copier but he’s not alone. A girl is standing behind him, her hands on his shoulders, squeezing as if she’s giving him a massage in the middle of the damn copy room. She’s standing on the tips of her feet despite the high heels in order to whisper something into Jongin’s ear.

 

She seems to be an intern, judging by the blue badge pinned to her hip.

 

The nerve.

 

The papers in Kyungsoo’s hand rustle and the girl whirls around with wide eyes. She steps away from Jongin instantly only to bow hastily and leave the room, the sweet scent of her perfume lingering behind.

 

Jongin clears his throat, his neck and ears red and Kyungsoo doesn’t even want to know what that girl whispered to him.

 

“Close the door next time, will you?” Kyungsoo says flatly and turns to leave. He’ll just use the ancient copier in Jongdae’s office.

 

He doesn’t get far because Jongin holds him back by his elbow. He lets go immediately when Kyungsoo turns around and frowns at him.

 

“Hyung.” Jongin mumbles. “I... I didn’t do anything. She’s been following me the entire week-”

 

“Why are you telling me this?” Kyungsoo asks. “I don’t care.”

 

“But-”

 

“It’s okay, Jongin.” He doesn’t really mean to say what comes next. “I’ve seen you doing worse things.”

 

He’s referring to seeing him getting a lap dance by a male stripper when they were at the same club months ago. He means the time a female worker was grabbing at his crotch in his office when they thought no one was at the office anymore. The hickeys on his neck that no amount of concealer could hide.

 

And Kyungsoo knows that it’s mostly the other people who are to blame because Jongin has an image to uphold, has to be polite and controlled at all times for his family’s sake. At least that’s what Kyungsoo hopes, otherwise he doesn’t understand why Jongin lets people treat him like that when he’s clearly not into it.

 

Jongin flinches and the hurt is evident in his dark eyes.

 

Kyungsoo feels horrible as soon as the words leave his lips. He knows how low that was. He knows how much Jongin hates being treated like that by everyone. Saying that made it look like it’s Jongin’s fault that everyone acts like he’s some kind of ladykiller.

 

“I’m sorry.” Kyungsoo mutters.

 

“It’s okay.” Jongin smiles but he probably knows how wrong it looks.

 

Baekhyun suddenly walks in but stops with wide eyes once he sees them. The tension in the room. “Uhm. Should I come back later?”

 

“No.” Kyungsoo shakes his head and steps forward to finally copy those stupid reports.

 

Jongin leaves and the sickeningly sweet stench of perfume is replaced by the fresh scent of mint.

 

 

x

 

 

The ride to the orphanage that evening has got to be the most uncomfortable thirty minutes of Kyungsoo’s life.

 

Kyungsoo can’t even look at Jongin without feeling like the biggest asshole on the planet and Jongin hasn’t looked at him either ever since they left the office.

 

He’s trying to muster up the courage to apologize but given how Jongin turns up the volume of the radio he isn’t in the mood to talk so Kyungsoo just keeps his mouth shut until they arrive there.

 

It’s only when Jongin has turned the engine off and is about to get out the car that Kyungsoo stops him with a quick “Wait.”

 

Jongin hesitates before lowering himself back into his seat. He doesn’t turn his head, looks down at his lap instead.

 

“Jongin. I’m sorry about what I said earlier.” Kyungsoo says. “I didn’t mean it and it was uncalled for. I know you’re not like that.”

 

When Jongin finally turns to look at him he’s smiling, which throws Kyungsoo off. He expected him to be mad at Kyungsoo. “I know. I wasn’t mad at you. I guess I’m just too sensitive sometimes... I was a bit hurt.”

 

The words feel like a punch to the gut because Jongin is so painfully genuine and Kyungsoo doesn’t know what’s left and right anymore. “Being sensitive isn’t bad.” Kyungsoo dumbly says.

 

It’s better than all the other things that want to come rushing out when he looks at Jongin, how soft he looks illuminated by the little lantern at the end of the parking space.

 

“I just don’t understand.” Kyungsoo utters. “Why are they doing this? Everyone knows you’re not... You know, going to give in to their advances.”

 

Jongin stares out the window for a moment before he sighs, shaking his head. “I was pretty horrible during uni.” He shrugs. “There’s a reason why everyone thinks of me as a player, you know. I hurt a lot of people.”

 

Kyungsoo looks at Jongin’s profile and can’t help but frown. The idea of Jongin being anything else but sweet and caring seems entirely wrong. “But you’re nothing like that. I mean... now.”

 

“Well, I would hope so. I wasn’t a good person at all. You would’ve hated me.” Jongin huffs and his tone is sad all of a sudden.

 

“So... What caused you to change?”

 

“A fight at some club.” Is all that Jongin says, his tone bitter and tired and Kyungsoo wonders if he’s referring to the fight Baekhyun mentioned.

 

He feels bad because he didn’t mean to upset Jongin but the younger seems really down now.

 

“I really didn’t mean to hurt you.”

 

“It’s okay, hyung. Sorry if I made you feel like you had to apologize.”

 

Kyungsoo can’t handle this.

 

He groans and tries to get out of the car but he still doesn’t get how that stupid handle works.

 

“Why doesn’t this car have normal handles?”

 

Jongin chuckles and reaches over him to open it for him and Kyungsoo nearly whimpers from how nice Jongin smells.

 

What on earth did he ever do to deserve this?

 

 

 

Taeil pounces Jongin as soon as they step inside.

 

While Kyungsoo lifts Naeun up to hug her he can’t tear his eyes away from the two, how Taeil is laughing happily and burrowing his head into Jongin’s neck. Kyungsoo has never seen the little boy act like that with anyone before and it makes his heart swell in his chest.

 

They settle down in the living room since dinner isn’t ready yet. Taeil is tugging Jongin around to show him all his toys and it’s so cute because he’s trying to impress Jongin so hard when it isn’t even necessary.

 

Jongin seems completely charmed by the three-year-old.

 

 

 

Dinner is just as messy as last time but everyone looks so happy. Jongin is making the kids laugh with his stupid jokes that make Joohyun groan in embarrassment.

 

Kyungsoo can’t really remember the last time he felt this careless.

Especially since the whole issue with the orphanage came up.

 

Jongin’s knee touches his under the table on accident because Jongin is ridiculous and laughs with his whole body. Kyungsoo’s heart stutters in his chest when Jongin doesn’t pull it away after a few seconds and even goes as far as pressing it closer and Kyungsoo should pull away but he doesn’t.

 

It’s just their knees touching but knowing that Jongin is doing it on purpose is doing things to Kyungsoo’s sanity.

 

Above, Jongin is acting like nothing’s happening underneath the table but Seulgi is raising her eyebrows at Kyungsoo like she knows.

 

 

 

 

“Still nothing going on between you two?”

 

It’s the same scenery as last time Jongin came over for dinner. Seulgi and him are cleaning the kitchen and Kyungsoo’s mind is everywhere but here.

 

“No.”

 

Seulgi hums. “Would you tell me if there was?”

 

Kyungsoo looks up at her. “Of course I would. But there isn’t. And there won’t be.”

 

Seulgi looks almost a little sad as she nods her head. “Okay.”

 

He puts the towel away and is about to leave when Seulgi stops him. “Kyungsoo... Look, I’ve known you all my life. I believe you, that’s not it. But please, if there’s... something don’t push it away. I know you feel like you can’t be with anyone because of our past but it doesn’t have to be like that.”

 

They look at each other for a moment and what she’s saying is reasonable. If anyone understands how Kyungsoo feels about those things, it’s Seulgi or Joohyun. “Okay.” He says.

 

“Promise?” She raises her eyebrows at him.

 

“Yeah.”

 

He doesn’t break his promises, especially not when it’s concerning them.

 

But this time his fingers are crossed behind his back.

 

 

 

Jongin is drawing with the kids in the living room when Kyungsoo walks in there a while later.

 

Kyungsoo sits down on the couch and pulls his phone out and catches Jongin’s eyes from across the room. Jongin smiles at him and it sends a rush of warmth through Kyungsoo’s chest.

 

He briefly smiles back and looks down at his phone where he replies to the ridiculous amount of messages Sehun sent him, including various selfies. Kyungsoo sends a thumbs up emoji.

 

Naeun shouts excitedly when she spots him. “Come, look what I made!”

 

Kyungsoo quickly stuffs his phone away and walks over to the coffee table where Jongin is sitting with them. He sits down on the ground besides Naeun and rests his chin on top of her head. “Which one is yours, little one?”

 

Naeun points at the drawing with the butterflies and flowers. Kyungsoo’s lips stretch into a smile whether he wants it or not.

 

It’s very obvious that Jongin helped her draw it because while the butterflies look like they were drawn, well, by a four-year-old the flowers underneath are so effortlessly beautiful that it doesn’t take genius to guess that Jongin drew those.

 

“It’s amazing, Naeun.” Kyungsoo smiles and presses a kiss into her hair that smells like strawberries.

 

Naeun shrugs her shoulders. “Jongin oppa can draw really well. The flowers are better than my butterflies.”

 

Kyungsoo shakes his head and picks the drawing up. “I think your butterflies are more beautiful though.” He glances at Jongin and finds him already staring at Kyungsoo. The younger smiles with a soft look in his eyes and that alone is enough to transform his heart into a hummingbird inside his ribcage.

 

“Naeun! Taeil! Come and get ready for your bath and then you go straight to bed!” Joohyun yells from upstairs.

 

“No!” Taeil shakes his head and looks up at Jongin from where he’s sitting in his lap. “Hyung, I-I d- don’t want t-to go to sleep!”

 

“But it’s already late.” Jongin strokes his cheek so gently. Kyungsoo has to look away. Everything he does is more than he can handle. “I’ll read you a story again, okay?”

 

“No. You w-were g-gone when I w-woke up last time.” Taeil mumbles. “K-Kyungsoo hyung came t- to visit b-but you d-didn’t.”

 

Jongin’s face falls a little. “I’m sorry, Taeil... But I came today, didn’t I?”

 

Taeil looks up with teary eyes, shaking his head as his lower lip starts wobbling. “Don’t l-leave.”

 

Kyungsoo’s heart nearly shatters at the sight and Jongin gives him a worried look as he hugs the distraught boy to his chest.

 

“Taeil.” Soojin shakes her head as she enters the living room and approaches them. “You’re making your hyungs feel very sad with your behavior. Jongin can’t always visit you whenever you want. He has to work.”

 

“No!” Taeil whimpers. “E-Everyone l-leaves! I w-want hyung t-to stay!” He gets up and waddles away on his little feet, still hiccuping quietly.

 

Jongin looks crestfallen and wants to get up and go cheer the toddler up again but Soojin holds him back with a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry Jongin. He gets like this with everyone. He used to cry after Kyungsoo too until he realized that he came back every time.”

 

“I’m sorry.” Jongin says.

 

“It’s not your fault.” Kyungsoo reassures him.

 

It’s Kyungsoo’s fault, for bringing Jongin here, hoping that he’d help them save the orphanage. He should’ve known that both sides would get attached.

 

“I’ll handle it.” Soojin squeezes his shoulder and Jongin stands up to help her stand up since she was kneeling down. She looks like she’s in pain and both him and Jongin jump to steady her but she swats their hands away.

 

“Stop fussing over me.” She scolds them. “I’m not dying yet.”

 

Kyungsoo sighs and chuckles when she smiles at him over her shoulder on her way out.

 

“I feel horrible.” Jongin mumbles once the old woman is gone.

 

“I used to feel like that too.” Kyungsoo shrugs. “Those kids are used to being left behind, you know? Most of the old caretakers never came back.”

 

“But I can’t keep coming back forever, can I? You have a different relationship with them. You’re like part of their family.”

 

It makes Kyungsoo smile that Jongin refers to the orphanage as family. “Does it matter? All of this will be gone in a few weeks.”

 

Jongin’s face falls even more at that. “I tried to talk to my parents. I mean, I asked my mom over the phone but she just brushed it off.” Jongin shakes his head, his hand coming up to rub his knuckles over his tired eyes. “There’s a meeting at the end of next week at our office, my father will be there too. I’ll bring it up after that again, maybe he’ll talk about it if Taemin’s around.”

 

“It’s okay.” Kyungsoo sighs and he decides on a whim that he should just tell Jongin the rest of it.

 

Maybe he’s lucky enough that Jongin will be so mad that he won’t talk to Kyungsoo ever again.

 

Kyungsoo is ready to send out a silent prayer for exactly that to happen because he doesn’t know how else to get himself out of this mess.

 

“I took you here because I hoped you could convince your parents to break the deal.” Kyungsoo says. “I’m sorry. I know it wasn’t okay to try and use you like that.”

 

Jongin regards him silently and Kyungsoo waits for him to get up and leave but Jongin doesn’t do that.

 

Jongin laughs.

 

“You’re laughing...” Kyungsoo utters. “Why?”

 

“Because I knew that from the beginning.” Jongin chuckles and shakes his head. “Hyung, you’re such a closed off person. Why else would you take a random person somewhere that’s so important to you?”

 

“But... aren’t you mad?” Kyungsoo groans. Why is Jongin like this? “I’m just like everyone else. I used you because you’re your father’s son...”

 

Jongin shakes his head. “Well, yeah you can see it like that. But you didn’t do it for selfish reasons, right? You did it for these kids. Now that I met them I can understand why. I don’t blame you. I would’ve done everything possible to help them too, even if it meant I had to use you for it.”

 

Kyungsoo stares at him for a while and then huffs out a breath. “You’re impossible.”

 

Jongin just smiles at him, like he’s trying to suffocate Kyungsoo with his entire being and the sad thing is, he’s succeeding. Kyungsoo looks down at the drawings on the table and picks one of them up. Jongin drew a little bird there, it looks like it only took seconds but it’s better than anything Kyungsoo has ever drawn.

 

“So... how did you start drawing?” Kyungsoo wants to know.

 

Jongin shuffles a little closer until they’re sitting side by side and purses his lips. “Long or short version?”

 

Kyungsoo glances at the clock and estimates that the kids will be done with their baths in about ten minutes. “How about something in between?”

 

Jongin laughs. “There’s not much story to it to be honest. I only took up drawing a year ago. I started because-” He hesitates for a few seconds and Kyungsoo waits patiently. “I had problems dealing with stressful situations. I couldn’t really control my anger or frustration.“ Jongin stops talking and when Kyungsoo looks up he sees how uncomfortable he looks.

 

"You don’t have to tell me.“ Kyungsoo shakes his head. "It’s okay.“

 

Jongin shakes his head. "No. It’s fine. I think I want to tell you.“

 

The way he looks at Kyungsoo makes the latter forget to breathe for a second.

 

"Uhm...“ Jongin clears his throat, tearing his eyes away from Kyungsoo’s face. "You already know I used to stutter, right?”

 

When Kyungsoo looks up Jongin looks not only nervous but also looks embarrassed and Kyungsoo definitely doesn’t want that. He gives Jongin an understanding smile and nods his head for him to go on.

 

“I didn’t start talking until I was five. My parents took me to every doctor possible but they couldn’t find out why I was mute. They thought I was... mentally disabled.“ Jongin shrugs and Kyungsoo feels his chest tighten at his words. "When I turned five a doctor found out that I was practically deaf.”

 

“What?” Kyungsoo gapes a little. "But you were five, how did they not... notice?”

 

“Don’t ask me.” Jongin shrugs. “I guess I still reacted to my parents’ voice and stuff. Though I couldn’t make out any words. I used to have these attacks, because I was so frustrated. I screamed and basically threw horrible tantrums. I got hearing aids but because I started talking so late, I spoke like a two-year-old during kindergarten. Everyone made fun of me and my parents think that’s why I started stuttering. The stutter only made everything worse of course.” Jongin huffs.

 

“I stopped having these tantrums in middle school because that’s when I stopped stuttering and so did the bullying. Then in high school during gym one time some kids kept stuttering to rile me up and I guess that kind of triggered me. I started screaming like a fucking maniac.” Jongin pauses and then snorts, like he’s remembering it. He looks up at Kyungsoo almost to gauge his reaction, like he’s expecting Kyungsoo to look at him in disgust or something.

 

But Kyungsoo shrugs and smiles because he isn’t sure what else he’s supposed to do. "What happened then?“

 

“They all thought I was crazy, of course. The bullying started again from then on. They called me Hulk.“ Jongin smirks and it kind of looks adorable. "Just... I don’t know, whenever I got angry I had this urge to scream and break things. And I did. I even hurt people when I had an attack but I didn’t realize it until it was over.“ The smirk fades away and his eyes are suddenly troubled. Sad. "Then last year, I was out with friends and my girlfriend. Ex-girlfriend.”

 

Kyungsoo knows he’s talking about Soojung. Jongin almost looks wistful and Kyungsoo wonders if Jongin misses her a lot. “Some random guy kept harassing her. I told him to stop a couple of times but he didn’t. I don’t remember most of it but at one point he grabbed her arm and wanted to drag her away. She fell to the ground and then I just... blew off.”

 

Kyungsoo waits for him to continue, even though he already has some notion of what’ coming next.

 

“That man was hospitalized for a week. My parents paid everyone involved to keep their mouth shut. I wanted to get therapy for my aggression and then ended up realizing that creating things was a great stress reliever. And that’s how I started drawing. I know that sounds really dramatic but it’s okay. I mean I’m fine now so, whatever.” Jongin purses his lips and glances at the clock. “That was supposed to be the short version.”

 

Kyungsoo laughs and Jongin laughs too and Kyungsoo feels a bunch of butterflies erupt in his stomach when Jongin’s laughter dies down, his gaze remaining on Kyungsoo, too soft and too warm. “Thank you for telling me.”

 

Jongin nods and rubs at the skin behind his ear. “I feel like I’m always talking about myself. You barely told me anything about you.”

 

“Because I’m boring, remember?”

 

“You’re not boring.” Jongin denies, his eyes softening even further. “You’re far from boring, hyung.”

 

It’s too much. It’s all just much more than Kyungsoo can handle. Jongin’s entire story, Jongin’s kindness, Jongin’s laughter, Jongin’s eyes on him.

 

Kyungsoo feels like something terrible is going to happen and it’s all because of Jongin.

 

He picks another drawing up, hoping it’ll make the unbearable tension around them go away. “What on earth is this?” He snorts upon looking at it.

 

It’s a circle and there are eight people inside of it, seemingly holding hands. “That’s Taeil’s drawing.” Jongin smiles. “I mean; I drew it but he told me what to draw.”

 

“I get that but what is it supposed to be?”

 

“Well, the circle is the earth. Those people... that’s me, you, Taeil, Naeun, Soojin, Seulgi and Joohyun.”

 

Kyungsoo starts laughing. “But why did you draw us inside of it?”

 

“I drew us outside of it first! But for some reason Taeil seems to think that we live inside of the globe. I told him that we live on it and he started to cry because he was scared we’d fall off so I had to draw us inside.”

 

Kyungsoo can’t remember the last time he had laughed so hard.

 

 

He brings a hand up to cover his mouth, his eyes watering from all the laughter that bubbles up inside of him. It’s not even that funny but he hasn’t laughed in a long time and it feels good to let it all out.

 

Jongin smiles at him, his gaze soft with his eyes crinkling in the corners and Kyungsoo can’t look away because Jongin looks so happy. His eyes on Kyungsoo make his skin prickle, his heart thrumming in his veins from the feeling of Jongin’s thigh pressing up against his own.

 

And Kyungsoo can’t remember the last time he felt like this because this right here, this makes him feel undeniably happy. 

 

x

 

 

The next time they go to visit the kids Jongin insists on buying Taeil a present because he didn’t manage to visit him at all last week and it’s needless to say that the entire world came crashing down on the little boy upon realizing that his favorite hyung wasn’t going to show up to play with him.

 

"Jongin, you really don’t have to.” Kyungsoo says for the nth time while Jongin is driving them to the next toyshop.

 

"But I feel bad for breaking my promise. And I also promised him that I’d buy him a Captain America doll. He says his Iron Man feels lonely, you know?”

 

Kyungsoo chuckles at that. "You’re spoiling him too much.” He mumbles, thinking about the stuffed animals Jongin gave them last time. "You can’t do everything he asks you for.”

 

This makes Jongin pout. "But I can’t say no when he looks at me like that.” He whines and Kyungsoo turns to look at him, his smile turning soft when he takes in Jongin’s expression.

 

"Just get him a small one, please.” Kyungsoo mumbles later when they’re walking through the shop, eyeing the endless racks filled with colorful toys.

 

It makes him feel even more horrible, like he isn’t only using Jongin but he’s also making him spend money along the way.

 

"Hyung, look!”

 

Kyungsoo notices that he somehow lost Jongin along the way and he feels like he came here with a little child when he finds him again in the Marvel section, holding a box in his hands with an excited look on his face. "What?” He asks, amused.

 

"This doll moves and speaks!” Jongin frowns at it and presses a button on it’s chest and suddenly the doll makes a loud sound that startles both of them, causing Jongin to drop it with a hushed "Fuck!“.

 

Kyungsoo chuckles at him and ignores the annoyed look the cashier sends their way. "Are you buying the doll for Taeil or for yourself?”

 

Jongin’s ears are pink again after picking up the doll. He shrugs and puts it back. "We never had this stuff when I was little.”

 

Kyungsoo is about to open his mouth when a female voice stops him from doing so.

 

"Jongin?”

 

They both turn to look at the girl and while Kyungsoo doesn’t recognize her the way Jongin’s face falls gives away that he knows her. "Hi Seohyun.”

 

"Long time no see.” She smiles and tilts her head, her eyes never leaving Jongin. "I was just looking for a gift for my little cousin. How have you been?”

 

Kyungsoo feels like he’s intruding so he tries to discreetly step away and act like he’s looking at the toys. To his surprise Jongin reaches his hand out behind his back and grips Kyungsoo’s wrist, stopping him from leaving.

 

"I’ve been good. How about you?” Jongin politely answers but Kyungsoo can only really focus on the soft fingers wrapped around his wrist, refusing to let go even when Kyungsoo tries to shake them off without drawing the girl’s attention to it.

 

"Me too.” She smiles some more, her pink lips stretching prettily around her pearly white teeth. The interest in her eyes is obvious and Kyungsoo doesn’t know why it makes him feel so restless. He suddenly just wants to get out of here. "We haven’t been able to talk ever since you broke up with Soojung.” She shrugs. "Would you like to catch up over a cup of coffee?”

 

He tries to tug his hand back again and this time Jongin lets him.

 

"I’m kind of busy lately.” Jongin mutters.

 

"I can wait.” She shrugs, her lips stretching into an enticing smile.

 

The tension in the air is insufferable, really. Jongin seems really tense too. "Aren’t you friends with Soojung anymore?”

 

"I am. So?” Seohyun sweeps her bangs out of her eyes. "I don’t see a problem in us eating dinner together. Unless you still have feelings for her, that is.”

 

Jongin sighs. "It was nice seeing you again, Seohyun. I just don’t think I have time right now, okay? Maybe some other time.”

 

Seohyun rolls her eyes, clicking her tongue. "You’ll be taken by then again, Jongin, don’t try to fool me.” She finally acknowledges Kyungsoo’s existence with a tight smile. She steps closer to Jongin and leans up to whisper something into his ear and Kyungsoo finally turns around, not wanting to be a witness of any of that again.

 

It’s none of his business. He isn’t supposed to care what Jongin does with anyone.

 

Yet his entire body is tingling with how much he just wants to head back and take Jongin’s hand and take him away from there.

 

Kyungsoo simply can’t seem to wrap his mind around the fact that Jongin is dealing with people approaching him like that on a daily basis or how the boy can still be so calm about it. Kyungsoo would’ve snapped a long time ago but knowing Jongin a little better now it’s pretty clear why he doesn’t lash out on them. Jongin just is too polite and well mannered.

 

When Jongin finds him a few minutes later his expression is closed off again. He’s holding a small Captain America doll in his hands. "Can we go?”

 

Kyungsoo tries not to look worried when he tries to look into Jongin’s eyes but the boy isn’t meeting his and he just turns his face away so Kyungsoo gives up. "Sure.”

 

 

Jongin doesn’t talk until they’re back in the car and it takes Kyungsoo about five minutes into the drive until he finds the courage to open his mouth.

 

"Are you okay?”

 

"Yeah. Why wouldn’t I be?”

 

Kyungsoo shrugs and looks out of the window at the passing lights. "Who was that?”

 

"My ex’s best friend.”

 

"What?“ Kyungsoo gives him a confused look. Jongin has one hand on the steering wheel and the other is playing with his bottom lip. "But she was... clearly hitting on you.”

 

Jongin chuckles but it sounds humorless. "I know.”

 

"But... I don’t get it. Was she always interested in you? I mean, while you were with your ex?”

 

Jongin shakes his head. "Hyung…” He sighs and tiredly shrugs his shoulders. "None of these people are interested in me. They just see money when they look at me.”

 

It feels like a slap in the face and the tired look on Jongin’s face makes anger rise in Kyungsoo’s chest. "You’re not money. You’re a person.”

 

It sounds so stupid but then again, it doesn’t, because the way those people treat Jongin makes it seem like they don’t even see Jongin for who he is, too blinded by the fame and wealth he represents.

 

Jongin looks away from the road, a strange look in his eyes when he stares into Kyungsoo’s. "What about you?”

 

"What about me?”

 

Jongin only briefly checks the road and then locks his eyes with Kyungsoo’s again. "What do you see when you look at me?”

 

"Does that matter?” Kyungsoo asks. "You shouldn’t care what other people think of you.”

 

"I don’t.” Jongin shakes his head and Kyungsoo feels like the air around them is too heavy. He’s seconds away from asking Jongin to roll the windows down but he also knows that he’s the only one feeling so out of breath because Jongin’s burning gaze is suffocating him. "But I care what you think.”

 

"Why?” Kyungsoo huffs and he tries to mask just how nervous he is all of a sudden when he feels Jongin’s eyes scanning every inch of his face.

 

"I don’t know.” The younger mumbles slowly. "What do you see?” He asks again and he sounds anxious and nervous. Kyungsoo doesn’t want Jongin to feel like that around him. He doesn’t want Jongin to feel like that ever.

 

 

"I…” He starts, furrowing his eyebrows since there are no words in his mind. Kyungsoo’s not good with words but he never thinks too much about Jongin because it’s unknown territory, makes him want to hide in his apartment for days in fear of seeing him again. "I see a hard working person.”

 

Jongin sighs and a quiet chuckle leaves his lips. Kyungsoo can’t help but feel like he let him down so despite every nerve in him being against it he bites down on his tongue before just letting the words rush out of his mouth.

 

"And you care about your family and friends.” He clears his throat when Jongin’s gaze turns soft at his failed attempt to form an acceptable answer. "You’re really talented. And you have a big heart, because you care about those children when other people turn a blind eye on them. And... because you make Taeil feel better about his stutter when others make him feel like it’s something that makes him abnormal. You also read stories to the kids like it’s the most important thing you’ve ever done in your life.”

 

Jongin stares at him once Kyungsoo is done talking, taking in his features while Kyungsoo takes a calming breath and then Jongin smiles at, wider than ever before. "I never heard you talk so much.”

 

Kyungsoo chuckles nervously because Jongin manages to make him feel so flustered. Because he manages to make Kyungsoo feel something.

 

"Do you really think so highly of me, hyung?” Jongin asks.

 

Kyungsoo looks down into his lap. "Yes.”

 

And Jongin just keeps staring at him and when Kyungsoo can’t stand it any longer and looks up into his eyes Jongin looks like he’s about to say something, something Kyungsoo doesn’t want to hear.

 

He turns his head away and glares at the scenery outside, suddenly feeling sick.

 

Jongin doesn’t say anything else and the rest of the ride is spent in silence.

 

 

 

That night, when they bring the kids to bed, Kyungsoo and Jongin are sitting on either side of Taeil’s bed while Jongin is telling him a made up goodnight story about two squirrels falling in love.

 

Taeil giggles at Jongin’s silly voices while holding onto his new doll like his life is depending on it and Kyungsoo can’t help but smile at it, how much Jongin already loves those kids and how they all love him in return.

 

The room’s bathed in warm colors and Kyungsoo feels so content and sleepy and Jongin is right there, looking so soft and happy with his hand curled over Taeil’s little foot and Kyungsoo can’t tear his eyes away.

 

He can’t look at anything else but Jongin.

 

And when the story is over and Taeil is asleep Jongin looks up at him, their gazes locking, and Kyungsoo’s stomach flips because Jongin doesn’t look away either.

 

They gaze into each other’s eyes for a long moment and Kyungsoo’s chest feels like it’s going to burst if Jongin doesn’t stop.

 

But Jongin doesn’t, he moves his hand, just a little and then he stops and both of them look down to where their hands are inches apart on top of the soft blue comforter.

 

Then their knuckles graze.

 

Kyungsoo holds his breath, Jongin moves his fingers, his soft skin brushing against Kyungsoo’s and for the next few minutes their hands remain in the same position, knuckles pressed together as if they’re giving each other comfort for a reason neither of them are aware of.

 

They don’t pull away until Joohyun walks in to check up on the kids.

 

And Kyungsoo’s heart doesn’t calm down until Jongin drops him off and he’s alone within the safety of his dark apartment.

 

 

x

 

 

Sehun and Junmyeon are going on a date.

 

He’s glad that they managed to work it out because he’d prefer a Sehun who’s in love over a depressed Sehun any day.

 

“What are you guys doing?” Baekhyun asks him over lunch when Sehun tells him about it.

 

“Nothing special.” Sehun says. “I think we’re just going to eat something and maybe watch a movie at his place.”

 

Baekhyun smirks and wiggles his eyebrows. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

 

“You’d do everything, Baek.” Kyungsoo mutters.

 

“Exactly.” Baekhyun winks.

 

“It’s probably not going to work out anyway. We’re too different.” Sehun shrugs.

 

“I think you guys are perfect for each other. Opposites attract so don’t worry.” Baekhyun chugs the rest of his banana milk. “What about you? Any progress with our ice prince?”

 

Kyungsoo hesitates for a moment, his stomach dropping before he puts on an indifferent expression. "I didn’t ask him about his parents yet.“

 

“They’re going to get married soon. Better prepare your wedding speech.” Sehun huffs and Baekhyun’s eyes widen.

 

“Wait. What? What did I miss?!”

 

Kyungsoo shakes his head at them. “You didn’t miss anything. Sehun’s just being a brat again.”

 

"Of course.” Sehun rolls his eyes.

 

“Kyungsoo?” Baekhyun tilts his head in confusion. "What’s going on?“

 

“There’s nothing, Baek. What’s wrong with you?” Kyungsoo spits in Sehun’s direction and the latter just shrugs his shoulders reluctantly like a scolded child.

 

“He’s going to take you away from me.”

 

“You’re being ridiculous.”

 

“But he has a crush on you, I’m telling you-”

 

“You know.” Baekhyun cuts in. “He’s not exactly wrong.”

 

“What?” Kyungsoo frowns at Baekhyun.

 

"Chanyeol told me that Jongin talks about you a lot.“ Baekhyun holds his hands up protectively when Kyungsoo gives him an exasperated look, trying to ignore the way his heart beat faltered for a second. "Hey, Chanyeol said that, not me.“

 

“This is stupid.” Kyungsoo huffs and pushes his chair back.

 

“Why are you always mad at the end of every conversation?” Sehun stands up too, following him to put away their dishes.

 

“Because you make me mad.”

 

“I just stated the facts!”

 

“No, you just make up bullshit all the time and drive me up the wall with it.” Kyungsoo throws his garbage away and puts the tray on the conveyor.

 

“Okay, look I’m sorry.” Sehun sighs. “Why do you get so worked up over it anyway? So what if the guy likes you. It’s not like you like him back.”

 

Kyungsoo just keeps walking, ignoring how he suddenly has to think of Jongin’s smile at Sehun’s words. Or how it made him feel when Jongin touched him the other night, how his palm tingled, how he couldn’t sleep the entire night because of it.

 

“Right?” Sehun urges anxiously after catching up with him.

 

“Of course not.”

 

“Oh, thank God.”

 

Yeah.

 

x

 


It’s at the end of the week, when Jongin comes to visit the kids with them for the last time before his parents come back from Italy, that Kyungsoo realizes he let things with Jongin go too far.

 

 

Everyone welcomes the boy like he’s part of them, all of them acting so comfortably around him it makes Kyungsoo’s heart fill with worry, dreading the day Jongin will stop coming here.

 

It seems like even the orphanage itself accepts Jongin’s presence, the boy blending into the scenery like he has belonged there all along.

 

And Kyungsoo feels like he’s the only one left that can’t seem to open up his heart.

 

When he walks into the living room once dinner is over Jongin is sitting there, drawing something on his own since the kids are upstairs to take their baths.

 

Kyungsoo waits for a moment, watching how concentrated Jongin looks, bent over the desk while his hand moves over the paper so effortlessly. He looks at the bones on the top of Jongin’s spine, the way his shirt is hugging his arms, how his hair falls into his eyes because the hair products are wearing off after an entire day spent at work.

 

He wants to run his fingers through it, push his bangs back, see Jongin smile at him.

 

Kyungsoo clears his throat when he approaches him, not wanting to startle him and ruin his drawing.

 

Jongin looks up and starts smiling as soon as he realizes that it’s Kyungsoo. He smiles so brightly, like merely Kyungsoo’s presence is enough for him to be so happy.

 

"What are you drawing?” Kyungsoo asks, gulping, not knowing what to do with himself and his feelings.

 

Jongin gives him an uncertain look before patting the space next to him. Kyungsoo sits down and looks down at the drawing, his lips stretching into a soft smile when he sees the beautiful patterns.

 

It’s a drawing of a bundle of flowers, placed on what looks to be a white pillow. Well, it’s more of a sketch since Jongin didn’t have enough time to draw it in great detail but that doesn’t mean it’s any less breathtaking.

 

Kyungsoo traces the delicate lines. It’s the first drawing Kyungsoo has seen where Jongin used colors, so the soft purple of the petals comes as a surprise. "I didn’t know you did colored drawings.”

 

"I don’t.” Jongin mumbles. "Usually I don’t. But it’s hard to figure out the meaning of a flower if it’s not in color, right?”

 

Kyungsoo hums, his eyes still stuck on Jongin’s beautiful handiwork. "What kind of flower is this?”

 

"Lilac.” Jongin eyes Kyungsoo closely, silently watches him admire the flowers.

 

"What’s the meaning?” Kyungsoo wants to know.

 

Jongin doesn’t answer right away so Kyungsoo looks up, only to find that the boy is looking at him with a somewhat nervous expression on his face. "I... I don’t remember.”

 

Kyungsoo nods his head and leans back a little, sighing. "It’s beautiful.”

 

"It’s not done yet.” Jongin looks like he’s about to clean the table but Kyungsoo reaches his hand out to stop him.

 

"You don’t have to stop because of me.”

 

"Oh, no it’s okay. I can’t really concentrate on anything else when I’m drawing.” He gives Kyungsoo one of his sweet smiles.

 

"That’s fine. I’ll just watch you.“ He frowns right after saying that. "That just sounded really creepy, didn’t it?”

 

Jongin laughs, shaking his head. "It’s okay. You can watch me if you want.”

 

And so Kyungsoo does and he won’t ever say that out loud but watching Jongin draw is more interesting than ninety percent of the movies Sehun usually forces him to watch.

 

Jongin’s eyes are glued to the paper underneath his hands, his right arm moving swiftly as the pencil in his hand glides over the white surface effortlessly, like he’s been doing this for years now. His back is slightly hunched, his shoulder blades moving together with his arms and Kyungsoo doesn’t know why he’s so transfixed by it but he is. He can hardly look away.

 

Kyungsoo watches him create one small perfect petal after petal, the bouquet of flowers getting bigger, more majestic.

 

And then his eyes drift away, carefully climbing up the lines of Jongin’s throat, his jaw and then trailing over his profile, his nose, his eyelashes, the strands of hair dangling in front of his eyes.

 

He is easily the most beautiful thing Kyungsoo has ever laid his eyes on.

 

"Do you want to try?” Jongin suddenly asks and Kyungsoo takes pride in how he manages to conceal the way he jerks out of his state of admiring the boy.

 

"What?” He snorts and shakes his head. "No way. I can’t draw at all.”

 

Jongin chuckles. "I can show you.”

 

"No, really. I don’t want to ruin your drawing.”

 

"You won’t.” Jongin insists, suddenly gripping Kyungsoo’s arm. "Come here.”

 

Kyungsoo is hesitant and really, he’d rather not go there because it’s too close. But Jongin pouts at him when he resists and he ends up sighing in defeat, shuffling a little closer just to make Jongin stop looking at him like that. "Alright, which part am I allowed to screw up?”

 

Jongin snorts and hands him a purple pencil. "You won’t screw anything up, hyung.“ He says. "Just fill in this petal, that’s not too hard, right?”

 

Kyungsoo stares at the small empty petal Jongin is pointing at and grumbles under his breath, carefully placing the slightly blunt tip of the pencil in the middle of it before he dares to draw a line.

 

He takes his hand back and compares it with a petal Jongin already filled in and shakes his head. The line he made is way too hard and dark, nothing like the soft swirls that are filling up the rest of the petals. "I told you I’d screw up.” He scoffs, placing the pencil down again.

 

"Hyung.” Jongin shakes his head and picks it back up again. "You didn’t screw it up. Look, you’re holding the pencil wrong. You need to hold it likes this if you want to do fine, smooth lines.” Jongin demonstrates how he’s supposed to hold it.

 

"Well, great.” Kyungsoo shrugs. "Just do it yourself. Why do you want me to do it?”

 

"So it’ll be our drawing.” Jongin smiles at him and Kyungsoo, once again, has a hard time wrapping his mind around the fact that people are going out of their way to get into Jongin’s pants, expecting him to be some kind of panty dropper while this is what Jongin truly is like.

 

Kyungsoo sighs and snatches the pencil out of Jongin’s fingers, trying again for the boy’s sake. He tries to hold the pencil the way Jongin just showed him but the line still doesn’t come out as soft as it should. "This is stupid.” He huffs.

 

"You’re not holding it right.” Jongin scoffs and Kyungsoo is suddenly ready to throw the pencil at the boy’s head but before he can move to do that Jongin leans closer, the side of his torso draping over Kyungsoo’s back as he reaches out to wrap his fingers around Kyungsoo’s. "Turn the pencil so the blunt side of the tip is facing the paper.” He mumbles.

 

Kyungsoo isn’t even listening.

 

Jongin is too close.

 

The lines turn out soft and smooth but only because Jongin is guiding his hand, Kyungsoo isn’t doing anything, he isn’t moving at all. Jongin’s hand feels warm around his own.

 

"Like that.” Jongin smiles down at him but Kyungsoo refuses to look up because he knows they’re too close and he doesn’t need that.

 

What he needs is for Jongin to let go.

 

But Jongin seems to have other ideas.

 

Kyungsoo feels him take a breath that sounds too shaky, he can see the boy’s Adam’s apple move from the corner of his eyes and then, like he’s trying to decide if he should do it or not, Jongin curls his fingers around Kyungsoo’s, his thumb brushing over the patch of skin between Kyungsoo’s thumb and index finger until his fingers go numb and the pencil slips out of his grip.

 

Kyungsoo holds his breath, his nape prickling from how warm Jongin feels against him.

 

Jongin trails his fingers down to Kyungsoo’s palm and turns his hand around very slowly while Kyungsoo forcefully stares on the purple petals in front of them. Kyungsoo can feel his own heart beat in places he didn’t know his pulse could be felt. Jongin follows the heartlines on Kyungsoo’s hand with his thumb and he does it all so slowly and carefully, like he’s expecting Kyungsoo to pull away and stop him.

 

Kyungsoo knows he should pull away but Jongin’s touch feels so pleasant and it’s like Kyungsoo’s body was craving it without him ever realizing. He gulps heavily, his heart pounding against his ribs.

 

He finally looks up and meets Jongin’s gaze just as Jongin’s fingers slide into the spaces between his own, palms pressing together, warm and secure. He finds so much in those dark orbs and a part of him wants to know what all of it means but the bigger part of him is terrified.

 

They’re like the sea, dark, mysterious, yet he doesn’t dare dive deeper because he doesn’t know what’s awaiting him at the deep end. Kyungsoo doesn’t know what’s going to happen if he lets himself fall for Jongin.

 

He really doesn’t want to take the risk of finding out.

 

Someone clears their throat.

 

They both jump apart and Kyungsoo looks up to see Seulgi of all people standing there.

 

"Sorry for interrupting.” She says, giving Kyungsoo a very meaningful look. "The kids are waiting for their stories.”

 

Kyungsoo stands up on shaky legs and walks out of the room with his eyes glued to the floor, his head and heart feeling like they’re going to burst.

 

He needs to stop this.

 

He needs to stop it before he’s in too deep with Jongin.

 

 

 

 

Kyungsoo has never wanted someone to speed the car up so much in his life.

 

The entire ride home is a nightmare. Kyungsoo can’t stand being in the same space with Jongin any longer.

 

When Jongin stops the car Kyungsoo turns to open the door without Jongin’s help and he’s about to break the damn window because the door isn’t budging.

 

“Hyung, wait.” He says and Kyungsoo doesn’t want to listen, he just wants to leave but he’s just fucking weak. Jongin makes him weak. He sits back, hopes Jongin can’t see how his chest is moving too fast with how he’s breathing so hard from what must be anxiety over the entire situation.

 

“Can we... can we meet outside of the office?” Jongin asks. “I don’t mean the orphanage. I mean... I don’t know. Drink coffee somewhere?”

 

“What?”

 

“I mean a date.”

 

“A date?” Kyungsoo doesn’t know what’s happening or what he’s doing. “Why?”

 

"Because...“ Jongin looks nervous and Kyungsoo’s reaction obviously doesn’t help with that. "I mean. I just. I... like you, hyung.”

 

Kyungsoo just blinks at him, his mind completely shutting off.

 

“No.”

 

“No?”

 

“I can’t...” Kyungsoo takes a calming breath. He needs to stop acting like a teenager for god’s sake. “I can’t go on a date with you.”

 

Jongin stares at him for a moment, doing his best to mask the hurt in his eyes. “Okay... can I ask why?”

 

What he wants to say is: Because I can’t be with anyone. Because I can’t function like a normal human being with emotions. Because I’ll get too attached and it’ll hurt like hell when you leave.

 

What he ends up saying is: “I don’t like you like that.”

 

And this time Jongin can’t hide the hurt in his eyes and it feels like Kyungsoo is getting slapped in the face.

 

“Oh.” Jongin clears his throat and nods. “Alright. I’m sorry I didn’t think- I’m sorry hyung. I didn’t mean to be disrespectful. I don’t even know if you like men. Uhm. Okay. Can you please leave before I embarrass myself further?“

 

Kyungsoo gulps. “Jongin...”

 

“Goodnight, hyung.” Jongin reaches out to open the door for him, very careful to not touch him, a clear sign for Kyungsoo to leave.

 

So he does.

 

Kyungsoo looks up the meaning of lilacs that night and wishes he didn’t.

 

He stares at the ceiling for hours in his bed, his chest swollen with guilt and something else he can’t quite put a finger on but it gets worse the more he thinks about Jongin’s handsome smile, and then the hurt look in his usually warm eyes that Kyungsoo caused by rejecting him.

 

 

 

In the language of flowers, purple lilacs symbolize the first emotions of love.

 

 

x

 

“God. You look like you died and resurrected.” Sehun says the next day when Kyungsoo comes into the office a little too late after ignoring his alarm for an entire hour.

 

“Not today please.” Kyungsoo sits down and immediately starts working. He just wants to work through the entire day without looking up from his computer.

 

“What happened?” Sehun asks.

 

Kyungsoo hears Jongin’s voice from across the room and no matter how much he tells himself to ignore it, he can’t. He looks up and immediately gets caught because Jongin looks up too.

 

Jongin’s face falls for a second but he replaces it with a polite smile but it’s tired and all wrong. Nothing like the usual smile that lights up his face. He doesn’t even wait for Kyungsoo to smile back before he turns around and leaves.

 

It shouldn’t hurt because that’s all Kyungsoo’s fault but it does because Kyungsoo’s stupid heart wants Jongin’s smile and his voice and his touch and the rest of him too.

 

“When were you planning on telling me?” Sehun asks, his voice suddenly serious.

 

“Tell you what?” Kyungsoo sighs.

 

“That you like him just as much.”

 

“Stop.”

 

“You can fool the others but not me, hyung.” Sehun takes a deep breath. “I’ve never seen you look at anyone like that. That’s how I know you like him.”

 

“Great.” Kyungsoo shakes his head. “Doesn’t matter.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“It doesn’t matter if I like him or not.”

 

“Of course it does-”

 

“No it doesn’t! Now, can we please not talk about this anymore?” Kyungsoo turns to look at Sehun and there must be something really miserable on his face because Sehun suddenly looks really miserable too.

 

“Okay.” Sehun says and smiles comfortingly. “One last thing. I may not like him but if you - for some elusive reason - decide that you like him then I’m fine with that. I know I’m always joking around but I mean it. Okay? Okay. That’s all. I’m shutting up.”

 

Somehow that only makes him feel more miserable.

 

 

x

 

 

Things stay like that for the next couple of days, with Kyungsoo feeling miserable and Jongin avoiding him like the plague. He can’t really eat either from all the guilt and suppressed longing he feels whenever he thinks about Jongin which he shouldn’t be complaining about since he only has a few packs of ramen left and his salary for this month is only being paid out in two weeks.

 

So he’s sitting here, trying to eat some lunch and trying not to look up whenever someone enters the room, hoping to catch a glimpse of Jongin because it’s been almost a week since he last saw him and he doesn’t know what the pain in his chest means but he knows it’s not from his weak muscles in his back, not something that Sehun can make better with a massage.

 

“What’s wrong with him?” Baekhyun asks through a mouthful.

 

“He’s experiencing heartbreak for the first time. Leave him alone.”

 

“What? Over who?” Baekhyun’s and Sehun’s voices are starting to blur together. Kyungsoo isn’t even listening anymore. “Oh my god. It’s Jongin, isn’t it?” Baekhyun clears his throat, deepening his voice before speaking again. "Do Kyungsoo; the latest poor soul to fall victim to the irresistible charms of ice prince Kim Jongin.”

 

"Baek.” Sehun warns, sensing Kyungsoo’s distress. "Not now.”

 

Baekhyun eyes Kyungsoo silently for a moment before he sighs. "I’m sorry, man. But half of the office had to experience the horrible, horrible pain of getting their hearts broken by Jongin. I think one of the interns even wrote an entire handbook on how to get over him on her blog. Wait let me find it…”

 

Baekhyun squeezes his shoulder comfortingly with one hand while he scrolls through his phone with the other and Kyungsoo just stares down at his plate because they don’t really understand.

 

Kyungsoo knows he doesn’t have the right to be upset but he is.

 

It’s all his fault and all it would take to make it better again would be a few words but Kyungsoo can’t bring himself to walk up to Jongin and explain himself to him.

 

In the long run, this is the best for both of them and if Jongin knew Kyungsoo a little better he would agree with that.

 

 

x

 

 

“W-When will J-Jongin hyung c-come visit again?” Taeil asks him when Kyungsoo visits them again a few days later.

 

“He’s been very busy these days.”

 

“B-But I m-miss him.”

 

Kyungsoo smiles at Taeil and brushes his hair out of his face. “I’m sure he misses you too.”

 

“D-Do you miss him too?” The little boy suddenly asks.

 

“I see him every day at work.” Kyungsoo replies although that doesn’t answer Taeil’s question because Kyungsoo does miss Jongin.

 

More than he would’ve thought.

 

He misses him at the side of Taeil’s bed, telling him stories in his silly voices. He misses him beside him at dinner when Seulgi arches her eyebrows at him because he isn’t really touching his food. He misses him on the rides home when it’s too silent because he got too used to Jongin singing along to the songs playing on the radio even though he can’t sing at all.

 

“Is he y-your b-boyfriend?”

 

“What?”

 

“Joohyun noona s-said b-boys can love boys. And g-girls can l-love girls.”

 

Kyungsoo chuckles nervously. “That’s true, but he’s not my boyfriend.”

 

This makes the little boy frown. “Why n-not? Why d-don’t you love him?”

 

“Taeil, I do like him. He’s my friend. That doesn’t mean he has to be my boyfriend.”

 

“B-But if you like him... w-why not?”

 

Kyungsoo can’t even answer that.

 

Taeil makes it seem so simple.

 

And it probably is. For normal people; it probably is just that easy.

 

But Kyungsoo isn’t normal. He’s a fucking mess.

 

“J-Jongin h-hyung loves you!” Taeil smiles up at him.

 

Kyungsoo gulps and tries to smile too. “Why are you saying that?”

 

Taeil then reaches underneath the pile of his personal belongings next to his mattress his pulls out a stash of papers. He looks through the many drawings until he finds the one he’s looking for. It’s another one that was definitely drawn by Jongin.

 

It shows a house with people standing in front of it. Kyungsoo recognizes it to be the orphanage.

 

“L-Look.” Taeil points at one of the people that are drawn there, the one with Kyungsoo’s name floating above its head. “H-He drew a h-heart!” Taeil points out excitedly.

 

Kyungsoo looks closer and finally sees what Taeil means.

 

Jongin drew a heart where his mouth should be.

 

He’s positively drowning in a sea of guilt the entire night.

 

 

x

 

 

 

It’s been more than a week since he last talked to Jongin and he didn’t imagine their first conversation to go like this.

 

For some reason Kyungsoo already woke up feeling weak and tired and irritated.

 

It didn’t get better at the office either.

 

Kyungsoo’s desk was overloaded with work that needed to be done by the end of the day. Sehun and Junmyeon fought over something and Sehun was being moody the entire day because of it. Taemin had to fire someone because of violation of data protection. The entire atmosphere was tense for the rest of the day.

 

And it was gray and raining outside.

 

At least he didn’t see Jongin to top all of that. He really didn’t need one more thing to worsen his headache.

 

Maybe he had been too quick to feel relieved.

 

Because just as he’s about to leave the office, he sees him again.

 

Maybe he deserves this but today he definitely can’t handle it.

 

He sees him in the copy room, and he sees the girl from last time. She’s sitting on the table there, her legs spread open despite the skirt she’s wearing and Jongin’s tie is wound around her hand, pulling him closer into the v of her bare legs.

 

It’s apparent from the way she looks at him, her free hand running up his chest, what is about to happen there.

 

Something lodges itself in Kyungsoo’s throat.

 

Jongin isn’t doing anything, he seems to be talking to her in a serious tone but he isn’t pulling away either.

 

It’s her who spots Kyungsoo again, just like last time.

 

She lets go of Jongin’s tie, quickly brings her legs together and hides her face behind her hands in embarrassment and Kyungsoo gets it, this could potentially cost her the internship and thus ruin her entire career.

 

Jongin turns around and his eyes widen when he spots Kyungsoo. He finally steps away from her and looks like he wants to approach Kyungsoo but the elevator is there so Kyungsoo quickly steps inside and furiously presses the button for the doors to slide shut despite Jongin’s calling after him.

 

He’s furious.

 

He’s so incredibly upset that his sight starts getting blurry.

 

Kyungsoo has had enough with all these people constantly being all up in Jongin’s business, touching him and feeling him up like it’s fucking okay when it’s not. It’s not fucking okay.

 

And Jongin’s just-

 

Kyungsoo almost squeezes himself through the doors once the elevator stops in the garage because they’re not opening fast enough. He just needs to get to his car, he just needs to-

 

“Hyung!”

 

Jongin must’ve run down the stairs because he’s breathless and he’s so stupid. He could’ve tripped and cracked open his head or something.

 

“Hyung wait!” Jongin starts running but Kyungsoo’s already at his car and he’s almost inside when Jongin comes to a halt right behind him. He closes the car door again, his breath hitting Kyungsoo’s neck in quick puffs.

 

“Move.” Kyungsoo says, staring at his own reflection in the car’s window.

 

“No.” Jongin grips his arm and turns him around, caging him in against his car.

 

“Jongin, if you don’t move-”

 

“What?” Jongin is still trying to catch his breath, his hair is a bit messed up too but he still looks flawless and it only serves to make Kyungsoo angrier. “What are you going to do?”

 

Kyungsoo looks at his chest because it’s easier than meeting his burning gaze. “What do you want?”

 

“Why are you running away?” The younger asks, his tone slightly pleading. “I wasn’t doing anything with her. I told her I was going to report her if she didn’t stop.”

 

“Do I look like I care?” Kyungsoo snaps and Jongin grits his teeth together.

 

“You do, actually.”

 

“Well, I don’t.”

 

The air is charged between them and Kyungsoo hopes no one sees them like this, with Jongin towering over him, their faces only a breath apart.

 

"Why are you like this?“ Jongin asks, some of the anger leaving his face, his shoulders sagging too and Kyungsoo tries to take a breath without giving away how much his lungs are screaming for air that isn’t filled with the sweet scent of mint. "You told me you don’t like me but then you get upset when someone... when I...“ Jongin gulps and the way he’s looking into Kyungsoo’s eyes makes his breath falter.

 

"You’re being delusional.“ Kyungsoo mutters. His hand jerks, like he wants to reach out and pull Jongin closer just to show him that he doesn’t actually mean what he’s saying. "I don’t care what you do with anyone. I already told you I don’t like you that way. That’s not going to change.“

 

He doesn’t want Jongin to do anything with someone else. He can deny it all he wants but he just doesn’t want to see Jongin give his smile that makes Kyungsoo’s heart flutter so wildly to someone else.

 

“Is it my parents?” Jongin asks and it almost physically hurts, doing this to him. Any other person would lean up and kiss him right then and there but Kyungsoo can’t.

 

He doesn’t think he could do it even if he tried.

 

“Because I tried to talk to them. I tried doing research behind their backs but there’s nothing, no contracts or anything and no one knows about the deal. Kyungsoo, I don’t know what else I’m supposed to do! Do you want me to build the kids a new orphanage? Because I will! I’ll do it with my own fucking hands if you want me to!”

 

Kyungsoo blinks and his throat closes up. This feels way too much like a movie. Stuff like this isn’t supposed to happen to Kyungsoo. He’s supposed to live a mundane life without being bothered or bothering anyone else in return.

 

But here he is, his hands shaking from how much he wants to say ‘screw it’ and give into the pure longing in his body to kiss Jongin.

 

“Move, Jongin. Right now.”

 

Jongin looks into his eyes for a moment longer and he looks so tired and helpless, blinking like he’s trying to figure out what Kyungsoo is thinking because he knows as well that the words leaving Kyungsoo’s mouth aren’t true. Jongin looks to the side and then pulls away with a frustrated sound.

 

He turns around and walks away, gripping his hair and Kyungsoo is one second away from calling him back but it’s one second too long because Jongin is already gone by the time he has opened his mouth.

 

 

x

 

 

Kyungsoo plans on spending the entire weekend in bed with no human interaction whatsoever.

 

He should’ve known that wouldn’t be possible with Oh Sehun as your best friend.

 

Because on Saturday night, when Kyungsoo is lying in his bed still dressed in his pajamas, ignoring all the phone calls and messages on his phone and only getting out of bed to use the bathroom or grab some food, someone rings on his door.

 

Kyungsoo ignores that too.

 

The ringing only gets more insistent the longer Kyungsoo ignores it out until after one full minute it turns into one continuous ring.

 

Kyungsoo grits his teeth together, even considers putting headphones on because not even Sehun could be persistent enough to ring the doorbell for more than a minute.

 

But a minute’s been over two minutes ago and Sehun’s still at it so Kyungsoo jumps out of his bed. He curses Sehun to hell and back on his way to the door where he harshly presses the button that unlocks the door downstairs.

 

“Forgive me, hyung, but you’re a fucking prick!” Is the first thing Sehun shouts into his face when he steps into his apartment seconds later.

 

Kyungsoo is about to say something back but then he sees how troubled Sehun looks and the words die in his throat.

 

“I’ve been trying to talk to you since yesterday night and I was spending the weekend at Junmyeon’s and didn’t want to waste it by dragging my ass here to make sure you weren’t dead. But since you’re such an inconsiderate asshole I was forced to do that anyway! The only thing I know is that Chanyeol texted me saying that Jongin is fucking depressed because of you and I don’t even know why because it’s not like you stop and consider telling me anything ever and I’m fed up with it! You can’t keep being so selfish all the time just because you never had other people to be considerate of in your life!”

 

Sehun is panting by the time he’s done and it seems like he only realizes what he said when Kyungsoo presses his lips together tightly. “Hyung... Oh god. I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.”

 

Kyungsoo gulps and shakes his head. “No. You’re right.”

 

“No, I’m not, that was out of place.”

 

“Sehun.” Kyungsoo cuts in. “Don’t apologize. Please.”

 

Sehun is right. Kyungsoo never really thinks how his actions affect the people around him. His first priority is always making sure that he’ll get out of it with his heart unharmed.

 

He never really considers other people’s feelings.

 

He never once stopped to think about how Sehun must feel. He only just kept questioning him, never really understood why Sehun wanted to be his friend in the first place no matter how hard Sehun tried to be a good friend to him, which he’s always been.

 

Kyungsoo in return was nothing but an ignorant douchebag in return.

 

“I’m sorry.” Kyungsoo croaks, his voice cracking since he didn’t use it at all today. “I’m sorry for being a bad friend.“

 

And then Sehun’s eyes start watering because he’s always bad at containing his emotions. “You’re not. Hyung, you’re my best friend. Please don’t think that.”

 

“But I am. I... I will try harder, okay?”

 

“No. No, don’t you dare change. I can’t deal with change and I don’t want to live in a world where you’re suddenly nice to me.” The last part makes Kyungsoo laugh and Sehun too who’s still trying to hold his tears back. "I’m sorry. I love you hyung. I didn’t mean what I said... I was just worried about you.“

 

“Stop it.“ Kyungsoo shakes his head. "You should go back to Junmyeon. You know. Since I’m still alive and all.” Kyungsoo tries to smile but he just feels really exhausted from doing nothing.

 

His mind’s exhausted from all the worrying.

 

“No. I want you to tell me about Jongin.” Sehun shakes his head and grips Kyungsoo’s wrist, tugs him to the couch and makes him sit down. “No bullshitting again. You’re going to tell me the truth and I’m not going to leave until you have.”

 

Kyungsoo opens his mouth to refuse but then he thinks this is where a good friend would stop lying.

 

So he does.

 

He starts with the club, and the first time he took Jongin to the orphanage. How that was when he started looking at Jongin differently, and how it only got stronger after, and how he got scared and started pushing Jongin away once the boy told him how he felt.

 

By the time he’s done he feels like the biggest idiot on earth.

 

“You’re the biggest idiot on earth.” Sehun groans and leans back on the couch. “If I was Jongin I wouldn’t even bother with you, honestly.”

 

“I agree.” Kyungsoo snorts weakly.

 

“Oh, hyung. What are we going to do with you...?” Sehun sits up and leans his head against Kyungsoo’s shoulder. “You’re really cruel for putting him through this shit. That kid’s been in love with you for such a long time.”

 

“He isn’t in love with me, okay? And we’ve only been talking to each other for a few weeks so don’t be so dramatic.”

 

Sehun pulls back and gives Kyungsoo an incredulous look. “Wait, are you serious?”

 

“What?”

 

“Oh my god, you are serious.” Sehun takes another deep breath. “Well, I mean you couldn’t have known, I guess...”

 

“Known what?!”

 

“I found something in Jongin’s office.”

 

"You went through his stuff?” Kyungsoo gives him an incredulous look.

 

"No, he wasn’t there and we needed to find a very important paper he was supposed to hand in that day. Anyways, I’m not going to tell you what it is, You’ll see it yourself on Monday. But seriously, hyung. I’m pretty sure Jongin’s had an eye on you for way longer than you think.”

 

Kyungsoo shakes his head at him and brings his hands up to rub at his eyes.

 

Sehun sighs and goes back to resting his head on Kyungsoo’s shoulder. "I know I always say I hate him and all. But I kind of... feel bad for him now. Stop doing this to him, Kyungsoo. Stop doing it to yourself too, most of all. Just because... just because you were left so many times before doesn’t mean everyone new in your life will too. Look at me, I’ve been in your life for almost six years now and I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon. Or ever, for that matter. If you keep thinking that way, if you keep pushing people away, you’ll miss out on so many great things. Yeah, love can be the worst pain in the world sometimes but on the other hand it can also be the most amazing thing if you give it a chance.”

 

Kyungsoo turns his head and frowns at Sehun, blinking dumbly at him. "What the hell did Junmyeon do to you?”

 

Sehun laughs and hides his face against Kyungsoo’s back.

 

He doesn’t go back to Junmyeon’s place after that. They stay up late watching the entire 9th season of Friends and Sehun’s impressing speech keeps ringing in his head until he falls asleep to the sound of Phoebe’s evil laughter.

 

 

x

 

 

Once Monday comes around Kyungsoo’s mind still isn’t in a better place despite Sehun trying to talk some sense into him the weekend before.

 

It all just seems to get worse with every passing minute he spends behind his desk, trying his best to respond to one of their customers’ e-mail.

 

The lack of sleep doesn’t help, so doesn’t the stabbing pain in the left side of his chest.

 

This time though he isn’t so sure if it’s just muscles constricting or the fact that according to Sehun, he made Jongin feel miserable.

 

Kyungsoo doesn’t understand how someone like him could make Kim Jongin feel anything. He also doesn’t understand why Jongin seems to think that he likes Kyungsoo when he could have anyone if he did as much as look in that person’s direction.

 

It just doesn’t make any sense.

 

Kyungsoo doesn’t see him today. He isn’t even sure if the boy came into the office at all but it’s not like he’s complaining. He doesn’t think he could handle seeing Jongin today at all. Kyungsoo’s messing everything up as it is, he doesn’t want to add to it by pulling yet another stunt like he did on Friday in the parking lot.

 

He called Jongin delusional for god’s sake.

 

Kyungsoo isn’t usually like that, he doesn’t ever let his emotions control him like that but it’s like whenever Jongin looks at him, whenever he comes too close, the rational part of his mind just shuts off and uses the remaining brain cells to protect himself from possible harm.

 

"Did you see Jongin today?” Sehun asks him when the last employees start gathering their stuff to go home. The clock shows that it’s almost seven and Kyungsoo doesn’t even understand where the time went. He barely got any work done.

 

"No.” Kyungsoo doesn’t bother looking up, hoping it’ll show his friend that he really doesn’t want to talk about that right now.

 

"Oh.” Sehun hums, fiddling with a pen in his hand. "He probably didn’t come in, then.”

 

Kyungsoo shrugs, trying not to let his mind wander, trying not to worry over where he might be or why he didn’t come in today. He thinks about him being sick, about him getting into an accident and it’s all so wrong, it’s all just going downhill.

 

Kyungsoo shouldn’t care.

 

But he does.

 

The mouse makes a concerning sound under the death grip of Kyungsoo’s fingers and Kyungsoo closes his eyes, taking a deep breath to try and calm himself.

 

He faintly notices Sehun getting up from his desk and returning a minute later when he starts to pack his things too. "I’m going home, hyung. Are you going to be okay?”

 

"What kind of stupid question is that?” He asks, irritated. So much for him trying to be a better friend to Sehun. "Sorry. I’m tired.”

 

"I know.” Sehun shoulders his bag and bites the corner of his lips, gazing at him with concern in his eyes. "Can you text me when you’re done here?”

 

Kyungsoo looks up and frowns. "Why?”

 

Sehun shrugs. "I don’t know. I just want to make sure you’re fine.” He gives Kyungsoo a weird smile before turning around and walking away.

 

Before Kyungsoo can even question his weird behavior Junmyeon walks up to his desk with the same strange expression on his face that Sehun carried mere seconds ago.

 

"Are you about to leave?” Junmyeon asks him.

 

"No, I still have a few things to do.”

 

Junmyeon nods and places a see through folder on Kyungsoo’s desk. "In that case I’d really appreciate it you could copy these for me and put those on Jongin’s desk.”

 

Kyungsoo freezes at the mention of his name for a nano second, his eyes flickering up from the folder to Junmyeon’s face with narrowed eyes. "I’m not your personal assistant, you know.”

 

"I know but Yerim had an appointment this afternoon so I had to do all the administrative stuff myself. I barely had time to do my actual work.” Junmyeon sighs. "Jongin will come over in a few hours to pick those up so please do that because I really need to leave.” He looks at his wrist watch and his eyes widen a fraction. "I have a dinner meeting in about twenty minutes.”

 

"Look, I’m really busy and I’m sorry but can’t someone else-”

 

"You’re the only one left at the office Kyungsoo!” Junmyeon starts walking away. "I’ll buy you lunch tomorrow!” He says over his shoulder and Kyungsoo decides to just drop it.

 

He wasn’t going to be finished with his work today anyway so he might as well just do what Junmyeon’s asking him to and then call it a day.

 

"You’re the best!” He hears Junmyeon shout when he’s already in the copy room. He sighs and listens to the mechanic sounds of the copier as the endless pages slide through it.

 

His gaze drifts to the table on the other side and his jaw automatically tightens when he remembers the scene from the week before.

 

He wonders if that girl would’ve had her way with Jongin right then and there if Jongin had given in.

 

He also wonders if Jongin ever considered giving in because any other man in his place most probably would have.

 

His grip on the copies is too tight once they’re done and he’s pretty sure he’s leaving wrinkles in the pages as he carries them to Jongin’s office but he couldn’t be bothered less right now. It doesn’t happen often that Kyungsoo gets so upset over things but it seems like Jongin makes him feel a lot of things that are usually foreign to Kyungsoo.

 

He feels uneasy about entering Jongin’s office despite knowing that the boy isn’t in there. He feels like rooms with doors with people’s names written on them are simply off limits. He sighs and pushes the handle down, half expecting it to be locked but the door opens and Kyungsoo quickly walks to Jongin’s table without looking around, not wanting to spend too much time in there since it feels like he’s invading Jongin’s privacy.

 

But just when he’s about to put the folder down on his desk his gaze lands on something peeking out from underneath the many envelopes in the middle of Jongin’s desk. It looks like whoever put it there made it so that the next person would definitely see it.

 

He just knows that it’s Sehun’s and Junmyeon’s work. Because he remembers what Sehun told him, about having to show him something at the office and Junmyeon would never make him do something as absurd as this.

 

Kyungsoo’s mind is whirring as he tries to make sense of what his eyes are looking at.

 

It’s a drawing.

 

And it shouldn’t throw him off so much, Jongin already told him that he sometimes draws at the office too. He should just put the folder down and leave.

 

But he can’t.

 

Because he’s pretty sure that this is a drawing of him.

 

It’s Kyungsoo.

 

Kyungsoo wants to leave, he wants to ignore this and tell himself that it isn’t him because he still can, he still hasn’t seen the drawing clearly because why on earth would Jongin waste his time drawing Kyungsoo?

 

He doesn’t know why he suddenly feels so nervous, or why his heart is beating so painfully in his chest as he puts the folder down, his fingers hesitatingly reaching out to pull the drawing out.

 

The page is covered in different shades and shapes of charcoal, graceful curves and smooth lines drawn in a way that makes the drawing in front of him look like it’s a photograph rather than something created by Jongin’s hands.

 

But it's not the breathtakingly beautiful way Jongin brings those lines down on paper hat makes Kyungsoo's hands shake.

 

The way Jongin drew him makes him look like something so... ethereal, something Kyungsoo definitely isn’t.

 

He doesn't get why Jongin would want to draw him in the first place, someone so plain and unremarkable.

 

It looks like Jongin spent hours on this, perfecting every single line, paying attention to every single detail.

 

 

From the moles on his neck to the small dimple in the corner of his mouth to the look in Kyungsoo’s eyes and Kyungsoo doesn’t know what it’s supposed to portray but it almost hurts to look at.

 

He doesn’t remember having his hair like that, or owning a sweater like that, so he guesses that Jongin made this up from his mind and he can’t help but feel overwhelmed and awed and intimidated at the same time.

 

Kyungsoo’s mind is reeling, thinking about Jongin spending way too much time on this, leaning over his desk, dirtying his fingers with charcoal and something just lodges itself in his throat, his heart throbbing from guilt and other feelings that Kyungsoo just doesn’t want to have.

 

He’s about to put the drawing down, pretend to never have seen it but he notices something written on the back. He turns it around and spots two tiny dates scribbled down in the right corner and his heart stutters in his chest.

 

The first date is almost from six months back while the second one was only three weeks ago, around the same time he took Jongin to the orphanage for the first time.

 

Kyungsoo doesn’t know anything about drawings or how Jongin handles them but it doesn’t take a genius to realize that those are the starting and finishing dates.

 

Jongin started drawing this - drawing Kyungsoo - almost half a year ago.

 

He doesn’t hear anyone stepping into the room since he left the door open but he notices a

 

shadow from the corners of his eyes and sure enough, when he looks up, he finds Jongin standing there, looking at Kyungsoo with his warm eyes that are filled with confusion right now.

 

Kyungsoo puts the drawing down. It’s too late to pretend he didn’t see it.

 

Jongin steps closer and his eyes take in the top of his desk, land on the drawing and Kyungsoo sees his Adam’s apple move when he gulps as he makes sense of the entire situation.

 

"I’m sorry.” Kyungsoo utters, stepping away from the desk and closer to the door instead. "I had to drop something off and I... I didn’t mean to snoop in your things. It was just there-”

 

"It’s okay.” Jongin interrupts softly, his eyebrows scrunched up in the middle. "You weren’t meant to see that. I didn’t put it there. Just... Just so you know.”

 

Kyungsoo nods, he knows this is all on Sehun and maybe Junmyeon. He stares at Jongin’s profile and suddenly wishes that Jongin would fully turn around and look into Kyungsoo’s eyes. "Jongin.” He says before he can think better of it.

 

He can’t really think at all right now, with his blood rushing through his ears so loudly and his heart pounding against his ribcage so urgently.

 

Jongin looks up and Kyungsoo tries not to shy away from the eye contact, no matter how hard it is.

 

"Why…” Kyungsoo starts, looks down at his shoes with his eyebrows furrowed in confusion. He shakes his head and takes a deep breath. "What is the meaning of that?”

 

Jongin eyes him quietly and Kyungsoo notices that he - once again - looks extremely tired and he can’t help but worry. "You already know.”

 

"But that... You started drawing this months ago, Jongin. I don’t get it. And please don’t tell me you liked me back then too because I find that really hard to believe.”

 

"Why?” Jongin huffs.

 

"How can you like someone without knowing them first?”

 

Jongin sighs. "Okay, maybe I didn’t like you back then but I found you interesting, hyung. You were so quiet and hardworking and you just completely ignored my existence which no one had ever done before. And I liked the way you looked. I liked your face and I wanted to draw you. Is that so hard to understand?”

 

"What are you trying to do?” Kyungsoo asks back, tired of all this. He really just wants to turn back time and stop himself from agreeing to his friends’ plans. "Is this some kind of bet or something?”

 

"What are you talking about?” Jongin steps closer, an urgent look in his eyes.

 

"You can’t like me. That’s ridiculous.”

 

"Ridiculous.” Jongin repeats and Kyungsoo hates himself when he sees hurt flashing in his eyes. "You know what’s ridiculous? That you treat me like this when it’s clear as day that I’m... that I’m crazy about you.”

 

Kyungsoo exhales shakily, his skin prickling from Jongin’s words. "You don’t know what you’re saying.”

 

Jongin gives him a disbelieving look. "I’m saying that I like you. And you made it clear that you don’t feel the same about me and that’s- that’s okay. I can accept that but stop trying to make me believe that what I feel for you isn’t real because it is. Because I can’t stop thinking about you and it hurts when you say those things.”

 

Kyungsoo looks away, his fingers curling into a fist and he just wants to punch himself most of all, for not being able to function like a normal human being and stop treating Jongin like a criminal for having feelings. Jongin picks up the folder Kyungsoo put there and he turns around, side stepping Kyungsoo without looking at him and he’s about to leave and Kyungsoo... he doesn’t want that.

 

"Wait.” He rushes out, turning around to see that Jongin stops walking. He stares at Jongin’s back with his nape burning up and his head pounding. "I’m sorry. I’m sorry for being such an asshole but I just…”

 

He wants to say that he’s scared but the words won’t come out.

 

Jongin turns to look at him and all Kyungsoo wants to do is wrap him up in his arms and make him sleep from how exhausted he looks. "You what?”

 

"I…” Kyungsoo starts but he ends up shaking his head for a lack of words.

 

Jongin steps closer hesitatingly, like he’s approaching a wild animal. "Do you like me?”

 

Kyungsoo shakes his head.

 

But Jongin still steps closer. "Hyung.” He says, can’t quite mask the hurt in his voice. "Please look at me.”

 

And Kyungsoo does after a moment.

 

"Do you like me?” Jongin repeats and Kyungsoo hates how scared he sounds. Everything in him screams to tell him what he wants to hear because he doesn’t think he can bear seeing Jongin like this because of Kyungsoo.

 

"Jongin, don’t do this, please.”

 

"I’m not doing anything.” Jongin is too close now, the tips of their shoes touching and Kyungsoo can feel the warmth radiating from his body, the scent of mint hitting Kyungsoo and it’s so oddly familiar and comforting.

 

Kyungsoo finds himself leaning in and when he feels Jongin’s warm breath on his temple a tremor runs through his body and no matter how strong he thinks he is, he’s obviously too weak when it comes to Jongin because he just wants to give in.

 

Jongin’s fingers touch Kyungsoo’s, curling around his wrist. Not forcefully, just like a steadying touch, to make sure Kyungsoo doesn’t shy away. "Hyung.”

 

Kyungsoo gulps and looks up and their faces are only a breath apart and Jongin is even more breathtaking from up close and Kyungsoo just doesn’t understand. He doesn’t understand why Jongin would ever settle for Kyungsoo when he could have the entire world.

 

He doesn’t know who leans in but his breath suddenly comes in tiny puffs, his heart stuttering in his chest when he can feel Jongin’s breath on his lips, when their lips almost touch and he doesn’t know when or why his hands have done that but they’re gripping Jongin’s waist, pushing him away a little when their lips brush and Kyungsoo shudders because the want is suddenly unbearable.

 

"Wait.” He whispers and Jongin immediately stops, their foreheads touching, noses brushing and Kyungsoo curses himself to hell and back for interrupting them. "Not here.”

 

He still needs this job and he can’t take the risk of getting caught. Workplace dating is strictly prohibited and he knows a lot of people at their office still do it but they do it in private so he thinks they should too, even if Jongin is Taemin’s cousin and wouldn’t get fired even for that.

 

Jongin nods and licks his lips and Kyungsoo doesn’t know if he does it on purpose but Kyungsoo nearly loses his mind. "Come home with me.” Jongin mumbles and there’s still uncertainty in his voice, like he’s expecting Kyungsoo to back out.

 

But Kyungsoo isn’t backing out, not this time.

 

So he nods.

 

 

 

 

Jongin’s apartment is in the outskirts of the city and it covers an entire floor, more than thrice as big as Kyungsoo’s own measly apartment.

 

Jongin watches him quietly while Kyungsoo’s eyes dart around to take it all in. It’s very minimalistic, with white and black furniture kept to a minimum. There’s no decoration apart from the endless drawings and paintings scattered over almost every surface, some of the bigger ones either taped to the walls or hanging there in frames.

 

It doesn’t really look like what Kyungsoo imagines a home to look.

 

It’s really clean too and that somehow surprises Jongin.

 

"I have a housecleaner.” Jongin explains when he sees the way Kyungsoo scans the surfaces for dust. Jongin takes Kyungsoo’s jacket for him and hangs it up on the rack. "I’m not here much.”

 

Kyungsoo nods and suddenly feels sad when looking at the apartment. There aren’t even pictures of his family. He isn’t sure what he expected but just looking at the empty walls makes it look like Jongin isn’t living much more different than Kyungsoo is. Alone.

 

Kyungsoo - despite the nerves - gives Jongin a look as if to ask for permission when he approaches the artwork on the walls and Jongin gives him an approving smile. "Would you like some tea?” Jongin asks to which Kyungsoo nods his head. He faintly notices Jongin leaving the room before he hears the sound of water boiling but his eyes stay glued to Jongin’s art through it all.

 

Jongin comes back and hands him a cup of tea. Kyungsoo smiles at him, Jongin smiles back and Kyungsoo can’t quite understand that this is his life, that he’s head over heels for this person and that Jongin is smiling at him like he’s the entire world.

 

Kyungsoo sips at his tea nervously and turns back to the paintings while Jongin sits down on the couch and watches him quietly. Kyungsoo takes his time, studying all the drawings in detail, like he’s in some kind of art museum. It feels like it, with the difference that Jongin’s drawings and paintings are more beautiful than those so called masterpieces. Yeah, beauty’s in the eye of the beholder but those people haven’t seen Jongin’s pieces.

 

Because while Kyungsoo never had a clue what those artists tried to portray with their paintings even after studying it for hours for school projects, Jongin’s drawings give him goose bumps, they make him want to sit down and listen to him talk about them for hours and hours because the way the colors swirl and blend together, the way he connects those charcoal lines, it’s like he’s telling entire stories on the canvas.

 

He faintly registers Jongin stepping up beside him, feels the younger’s eyes on the side of his face.

 

"They’re beautiful.” Kyungsoo speaks around the sudden lump in his throat. "You’re really talented, Jongin.” He turns to look him in the eyes and he can’t help but feel proud. He doesn’t understand why but he feels so incredibly proud of Jongin and that doesn’t make any sense.

 

Jongin smiles and Kyungsoo wants to melt and he does, when Jongin turns to face him, when he reaches out to take the cup out of Kyungsoo’s hand to put it on the coffee table instead, when he comes back to take his hand and tugs him closer until their chests almost bump together. "Can I kiss you now?”

 

Kyungsoo doesn’t even think before he nods, lets Jongin’s hands wander until they’re cupping his face, tilting it up gently to connect their eyes. Kyungsoo exhales shakily upon seeing the look in Jongin’s eyes, the pure longing there shaking him to the core of his bones. He reaches out to hold onto Jongin’s waist to hide the way his hands are trembling from nerves.

 

Kyungsoo tilts his head up because he’s going to burst if he has to wait any longer, his skin pulled taught from how much he wants to kiss Jongin. Their noses brush, Kyungsoo closes his eyes and the next second there’s warm pressure on his lips.

 

Jongin moves away an inch, looking into Kyungsoo’s eyes as if to ask if it’s okay and Kyungsoo can only focus on the warmth pooling in his stomach, the dazed look in Jongin’s eyes, so he nods, leans up and presses their lips together again. Jongin’s grip on him tightens and he tilts his head to kiss him deeper and all Kyungsoo feels is the warmth and softness of his plush lips sliding over his own.

 

Jongin kisses him slowly, like he’s tasting the sweetness of honey for the first and last time, inhaling Kyungsoo’s sighs against his lips whenever their lips part with a soft smack.

 

Kyungsoo is gripping the fabric of Jongin’s jacket to keep some sense of reality while they’re kissing each other like they’re trying to memorize the other’s taste, every swipe of Jongin’s warm tongue making the lump of warmth in his stomach and chest grow and tighten.

 

„Hyung.” Jongin breathes against his lips once they pull away, their lips moving together from how close they still are. Kyungsoo doesn’t dare opening his eyes, he just holds Jongin closer and tries to calm his heart. "You like me too.”

 

Kyungsoo’s arms slide around Jongin’s waist, pressing them closer together and he nods his head, not bothering denying it any longer, kissing Jongin’s lips again and again until he forgets his own name and all he can think about is him in his arms, the way Jongin shudders when their tongues meet.

 

"Don’t push me away anymore.” Jongin whispers in between kisses, his thumbs rubbing soothing circles against Kyungsoo’s cheeks. "Please.”

 

Kyungsoo breathes in Jongin’s scent and nods again, pressing gentle kisses against Jongin’s lips, both of them huffing small breaths into the other’s mouth. "I won’t.” He moves his head to the side, his chest heaving as he kisses the warmth of Jongin’s cheek. "I’m sorry.”

 

He doesn’t know where the courage comes from, how he can hold on to Jongin like this, how he can kiss him without restraints just because his heart’s yearning for it so endlessly. He feels like he’s drunk from Jongin’s scent and warmth, it’s the only way he can explain his lack of concerns.

 

But as his head starts clearing up so do the troubling thoughts.

 

He tries to push them away as best as he can, not wanting to destroy this moment he has with Jongin. He likes how Jongin is holding him, likes how pliant Jongin’s beautiful lips are against his own, likes how light headed Jongin makes him feel.

 

"I should go.” He utters, resting his forehead against Jongin’s shoulder. It must be close to nine and if he stays any longer he worries that Jongin might ask him to stay over.

 

Jongin thankfully nods without objecting. "I can drive you home.”

 

"You don’t have to, I can call a cab-”

 

"I’ll drive you.” Jongin insists, pulling back.

 

Now, with both of them having calmed down and Kyungsoo’s head not as clouded with the feel of Jongin’s lips, there’s an uncertain air between them and Kyungsoo sees it reflected in the tense look in Jongin’s eyes.

 

He clears his head, nodding as he takes another step back. "Alright.”

 

 

 

The drive to Kyungsoo’s apartment is spent surrounded by the soft tunes playing from the radio, neither of them speaking. Kyungsoo can’t keep his hands still, his skin tingling as his mind repeats the scenes over and over in his head.

 

 

He has to gulp heavily because he can still feel the shuddery breaths from Jongin on his lips, can still feel the warmth of his mouth and god, his body just screams to reach out and kiss Jongin again.

 

Once they arrive Jongin doesn’t turn the engine off so Kyungsoo takes this as a silent request to leave as quickly as possible.

 

"Uhm.” Kyungsoo clears his throat. "Can you...?” He points at the door since Kyungsoo still hasn’t figured out how the hell that futuristic handle is supposed to open the door.

 

Jongin gazes at him for an unnerving second before he nods his head and leans over Kyungsoo, his biceps pressing up against Kyungsoo’s chest and Kyungsoo literally feels his body go weak from the touch. The door opens with a quick sound and Jongin is about to pull back but Kyungsoo knows that if he doesn’t do anything now, they will probably be back to square one by tomorrow morning.

 

He curls his fingers into the front of Jongin’s shirt before the boy can lean back again and as Jongin’s eyes find his and his lips fall open around a question that is certainly about to come Kyungsoo just tosses all his fears and worries out the window.

 

Kyungsoo leans in and presses their lips together, suppressing the moan at the back of his throat that wants to come out from how a simple kiss like that affects his entire body. He feels Jongin leaning closer, one of his hands coming up to cup Kyungsoo’s cheek while his other arm is supporting his weight on the armrest between them. Kyungsoo reaches his other hand up to curl it into the back of Jongin’s head, into his hair, pulling him closer while Jongin kisses him over and over again.

 

Jongin presses closer and Kyungsoo pulls him closer but nothing seems close enough and soon they’re both panting against the other’s lips. Kyungsoo’s shuddering from how Jongin’s lips against his own turn him into this useless mess.

 

"I can’t read you.” Jongin whispers against his lips, their foreheads pressed together. "I can’t tell if we... if we’re on the same page.”

 

Kyungsoo gulps, his fingers absently stroking through Jongin’s soft hair. "What do you want?”

 

Jongin’s thumb brushes over Kyungsoo’s chin and Kyungsoo never thought he’d like being treated like this, so gently and he’s pretty sure he only lets it happen because this is Jongin and Kyungsoo is pretty much transfixed by everything the boy does to him. "I want to get to know you better. I know next to nothing about you…” Jongin licks his lips and Kyungsoo bites down on his tongue to hold himself together.

 

He has more self control than this.

 

"And I want to be able to kiss you along the way.” Jongin adds and Kyungsoo can’t help but smile at the timid look in the younger’s eyes.

 

He knows he’ll have to open up to Jongin eventually if he wants this to work out but the thought still scares him. He doesn’t know how Jongin will react to the fact that Kyungsoo doesn’t even have a real family name, that he lives in an apartment that resembles a rat hole, that he probably wouldn’t be able to find a good job if he’d get fired from his current one.

 

And that alone makes him want to back out as quickly as possible before he can’t run away from this anymore. Because right now, he still can. He thinks he isn’t too attached right now, it wouldn’t hurt if he pushed Jongin out of his life but he needs to do it now before it’s too late.

 

But then he looks into Jongin’s beautiful eyes and his heart flutters like a hummingbird in his chest and he just doesn’t want to run away from this at all.

 

"Okay. I want that too.”

 

When Jongin smiles at him after it’s like the sun goes up in his face and it makes warmth spread on every inch of Kyungsoo’s skin.

 

He doesn’t know if he’ll regret his words tomorrow but he’s pretty sure he couldn’t ever regret making Jongin smile like that.

 

 

x

 

 

The next morning, for the first time ever since Kyungsoo started working here, he contemplates calling in sick.

 

Because he does feel sick.

 

Sick and absolutely terrified.

 

He doesn’t know what Jongin and him are, doesn’t know how he’s supposed to act around him and Kyungsoo just hates feeling like he’s been thrown into the deep end.

 

And it’s not Jongin’s fault.

 

Except it is, because if Jongin wasn’t so... if he wasn’t so handsome, so caring, if his eyes wouldn’t make Kyungsoo’s insides melt whenever he looked at him, Kyungsoo wouldn’t have made such reckless decisions.

 

"What are you thinking?” Sehun asks him later when Kyungsoo is drowning himself in work in order to ignore everything that’s going on around him.

 

"Nothing.” Kyungsoo is already having his third cup of coffee and it's barely ten in the morning. "Let me work."

 

"Kyungsoo..." Sehun leans a little closer to eye him carefully. "You saw it, right?"

 

"What part of let me work don't you understand?"

 

"It's amazing, isn't it?" Sehun whispers.

 

"Yes." Is what Kyungsoo says, figuring it'll make Sehun lay off sooner so he can actually get some work done for once. Kyungsoo suddenly feels his face heat up when Sehun smirks at him, his mind replaying everything that happened between him and Jongin over and over again. His skin tingles, remembering how it felt to kiss him.

 

Sehun groans obnoxiously and kicks at his chair which earns him a warning glare from Kyungsoo. "He fucking drew you, hyung!"

 

"I know, Sehun, now please be quiet."

 

"No, screw that. He didn't just draw you... he, like, I don't know. Have you seen how detailed it was? He must've spent hours on that thing!"

 

"Stop-" Kyungsoo stops talking when he suddenly sees Jongin entering the office.

 

Jongin looks absolutely horrible and it matches the way Kyungsoo suddenly feels when he sees how puffy Jongin’s eyes look.

 

Something’s wrong.

 

Because Jongin doesn’t even greet the girl at the entrance like he usually would. There’s a weird look in his eyes and he just walks towards his room without gazing anywhere else and for some reason, an uneasy feeling spreads in Kyungsoo’s stomach.

 

Sehun, who watched the entire scene silently, clears his throat to catch Kyungsoo's attention and leans back in his chair. "I'm just saying. When I drew Baekhyun I drew a penis in place of his nose. He’s completely in love with you, hyung.“

 

"We shouldn’t talk about this here.“ Kyungsoo utters absently, his eyes flickering over the paper in front of him without really processing any of the content because he’s too busy trying not to go after him.

 

What’s going on?

 

Is Jongin the one who regrets saying those things?

 

The dread pooling in Kyungsoo’s stomach makes him want to throw up the coffee he drank mere minutes ago.

 

And then the elevator doors slide open again and he sees Taemin step out of it, Jongin’s father by his side. They both look stressed and Kyungsoo knows for sure that something isn’t right.

 

"What the hell is that about?“ Sehun asks, almost like he sensed the weird atmosphere as well.

 

Kyungsoo shrugs his shoulders and tries to go back to work but his eyes keep drifting back to where they disappeared, his stomach churning strangely.

 

A couple of moments later a loud thump is heard, in fact, it’s so loud that all the heads in the room shoot up, worried glances directed to Taemin’s office where the sound came from. Kyungsoo tenses immediately, his body automatically moving to get up until he remembers that this isn’t any of his business.

 

He hears loud voices and the loudest of them is Jongin’s. Kyungsoo can’t understand what he’s saying but he has never heard Jongin talk like that and everyone else seem to think that too as they politely avert their eyes, pretending not to hear the argument that is obviously happening behind those closed doors.

 

Sehun shoots him a worried look and Kyungsoo tries to ignore the sick feeling in his stomach.

 

And a moment later the door bursts open and Kyungsoo lifts his head just in time to see Jongin pushing the door to the staircase open. Jongin’s father follows soon after, looking pale in the face but Taemin holds him back by his arm, saying things to him that Kyungsoo can’t hear.

 

Kyungsoo shoots up from his seat as soon as Taemin and Jongin’s father are back inside the office.

 

"Where are you going?“ Sehun asks him.

 

"I just... I need to check up on him.“ Kyungsoo knows he shouldn’t, he doesn’t feel like he’s the person Jongin wants to see right now but it scares him how distressed all of them looked and how they were shouting and he doesn’t want Jongin to get in his car like that.

 

He rushes down the stairs and his lungs burn when he’s down in the parking lot, his eyes darting around trying to find Jongin.

 

When he spots him the boy is about to get in his car so Kyungsoo just makes a run for it, the sound of his feet making Jongin look up.

 

He’s crying.

 

"Jongin…” Kyungsoo says, trying to catch his breath. The concern is almost eating him up by now. "What’s wrong?”

 

Jongin doesn’t say anything, he just opens the door and tries to get in but Kyungsoo shakes his head and walks around the car to grip his arm. "Let me go.” Jongin croaks.

 

"You can’t drive like this.”

 

"I need to get away from here.” Jongin’s voice is shaking and so are his hands.

 

"I’ll drive you.”

 

And Kyungsoo expects him to protest but Jongin doesn’t. He lets Kyungsoo push him into the passenger seat, lets him buckle him up and Kyungsoo looks into his eyes, worried to no end but Jongin isn’t looking at him. There are silent tears on his face and his jaw is clenched.

 

Kyungsoo sighs and starts the car, feeling slightly nervous about driving such an expensive car. "Where do you need to go?”

 

Jongin sniffles and Kyungsoo hears him take a trembling breath. "Home.”

 

 

 

 

As soon as he parks the car in front of Jongin’s apartment the boy jumps out of the car and Kyungsoo frowns because he still has the keys. He shuts the engine off and follows him, sees Jongin leaning against the door with his forehead until a buzzing sound is heard and the door opens.

 

A middle aged woman is waiting at the apartment door, a worried look on her face.

 

"Mr. Kim?” She asks, cautiously stepping aside when Jongin pushes past her into his apartment. "Is everything alright? Did you forget something?”

 

"You can go home for today.” Jongin shrugs out of his jacket and turns to her, bowing despite everything. "Thank you.”

 

The woman still seems worried. "Alright. Please call me if you need anything.”

 

She quickly goes to grab her keys and Kyungsoo hastily bows when she gives him a polite smile. The lady closes the door behind herself, leaving nothing but silence behind.

 

Kyungsoo turns around and looks at Jongin’s back.

 

And then - right in front of Kyungsoo’s eyes - Jongin completely loses it.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Jongin walks over to the wall where he has all his wonderful paintings pinned up and starts tearing them down, choked sobs wracking his body as he rips his artwork apart into pieces with his hands. Kyungsoo watches him destroy them helplessly, his hands trembling and his mouth open to tell Jongin to stop it but he can’t.

 

He doesn’t even know if he should be here.

 

Jongin is breaking down in front of him and Kyungsoo feels like he was never supposed to witness this.

 

Because Jongin is crying and shouting curses like he’s in physical pain, and he hiccups, and his shoulders are shaking and he’s swearing and shouting and he’s destroying everything that he’s spent hours on creating.

 

All those beautiful things that Jongin painted with his beautiful hands that he’s now destroying with the very same hands again.

 

Kyungsoo feels a kind of pain in his chest he’s never felt before as he watches Jongin crumble, feels a heavy lump in his throat and his heart nearly breaking apart.

 

He doesn’t know what’s going on, what it is that caused Jongin to have such a break down but he has no words to calm him down and he can’t move. He remembers Jongin telling him about having these kinds of attacks whenever he got upset but he also remembers Jongin telling him that they’d stopped ever since he learned how to control his anger.

 

Kyungsoo thinks that whatever happened, it must be really bad to cause Jongin to break down like this.

 

Minutes pass and Jongin’s heart wrenching sobs are fading out, little whimpers leaving his lips instead. Kyungsoo gulps heavily and blinks the sudden wetness out of his eyes, watches how Jongin goes to tear down the framed paintings now and when the picture comes crashing down on the floor, the glass shattering and flying everywhere, Kyungsoo finally steps in.

 

Jongin is standing with his back to Kyungsoo when he’s reaching for the other painting and Kyungsoo stops him, presses his palm against Jongin’s back hesitatingly in what he hopes to be a soothing gesture because he doesn’t know what you’re supposed to do in situations like these.

 

"Jongin…” He says and wishes his voice was more steady but it isn’t, it’s shaking just as much as Jongin’s shoulders. "Please stop.”

 

"Go away.” Jongin utters. "I don’t want to hurt you.”

 

Kyungsoo just rubs his palm over his back, showing him that he isn’t leaving. He doesn’t think Jongin would hurt him, even if he’s going through an attack right now.

 

Jongin hiccups again and after a few seconds, finally lets his arm fall to his side. His head is bent low, like he’s trying to hide and Kyungsoo steps around him slowly.

 

It’s all such a mess.

 

"You’re hurt.” Is what Kyungsoo says and he doesn’t know if he means emotionally or physically or just both. His voice cracks when he reaches out to grab Jongin’s wrist where blood is trickling down from the cut on the boy’s palm. "Let’s clean this up.”

 

He doesn’t know how to deal with this. He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do.

 

"Hyung…” Jongin suddenly hiccups and it sounds so broken, so hurt, so lost and Kyungsoo’s mind makes up endless scenarios as to why Jongin is like this and he feels horrible for not being able to help him.

 

Kyungsoo wants to help him because his heart feels like it’s bursting as he takes in Jongin’s teary eyes.

 

"Do you need me to leave?” Kyungsoo asks, his fingers curling around Jongin’s wrist tighter when another silent sob racks through Jongin’s body.

 

Jongin shakes his head. "I don’t know what I’m doing.” He whispers. He sounds out of breath and his voice is hoarse and there are silent tears streaming down his flushed face and the sight hurts Kyungsoo more than he likes to admit.

 

Jongin is always smiling, he’s always joking around and trying to get Kyungsoo to smile too. He shouldn’t ever do anything else but smile. It’s so wrong.

 

"I don’t know what to do.” Jongin croaks, sounding like a helpless child.

 

"It’s okay. It’ll be okay.” Kyungsoo whispers, Jongin’s broken voice making his eyes water again before he can stop it. He doesn’t even know what’s going on but he just needs Jongin to feel better. "Come on.”

 

Kyungsoo guides Jongin into his bedroom and tries not to look around too much because it’s Jongin’s private space and Kyungsoo doesn’t want to intrude any more than he already does.

 

Kyungsoo walks into the bathroom and searches the cabinets for some kind of bandage and maybe an antiseptic spray. He finds both in one of the many drawers and when he walks back into the bedroom Jongin is laying on the bed, an arm thrown over his eyes as if to hide.

 

"Jongin.” Kyungsoo softly says to get his attention. Jongin pulls his arm away and blinks up at him. "Let me take a look at your hand.”

 

Jongin stares at him for a few seconds longer before he sits up and pushes himself closer so he’s sitting at the edge of the bed. Kyungsoo kneels down in front of him and makes Jongin rest his injured hand on his knee.

 

The cut isn’t too deep so stitches thankfully won’t be needed but he knows how much cuts like that can hurt. Jongin isn’t showing any signs of discomfort though, he just stares at the blood that’s trickling out of the wound and Kyungsoo grows more concerned with every passing second.

 

He sprays some of the antiseptic on it and cleans it with a cotton ball, carefully dabbing at it, trying not to hurt Jongin any further. Jongin silently watches him do all of it and Kyungsoo feels the hairs on the back of his nape stand on end. He wraps a bandage around Jongin’s palm tightly and makes sure that it holds before picking up the utensils to bring them back into the bathroom.

 

Jongin is still sitting in the same position when Kyungsoo comes back.

 

"Is it okay?” Kyungsoo asks carefully.

 

Jongin doesn’t answer but after a moment he moves his hand, to the inside of his jacket and he pulls out something small, reaches his hand out for Kyungsoo.

 

Kyungsoo hesitantly takes it.

 

It’s a picture.

 

It’s a picture of Kyungsoo with that boy next to him in the garden of the orphanage, the one Seulgi gave him a few weeks back. It looks worse than back then, almost like it’s been thrown into the washer on accident.

 

His hand automatically shoots out to his own jacket, to the pocket on the inside because that’s where he remembers putting it, where he must’ve forgotten to take it out before washing it.

 

"It must’ve fallen out yesterday.” Jongin croaks.

 

Kyungsoo furrows his eyebrows. He feels like he’s missing out on something.

 

"That’s you in the picture, isn’t it hyung?” Jongin suddenly asks. Kyungsoo gulps, trying to make sense of the entire situation.

 

He stares at the picture, turns it around with his heart pounding nervously and he sure enough finds the scribbled letters on the back.

 

 

Cheonguk Orphanage, 1998.06.23

 

 

So Jongin knows.

 

"Jongin…” He starts, not really knowing what to say because Jongin wasn’t supposed to find out like this. He wasn’t supposed to find out at all.

 

"Do you remember the boy next to you?” Jongin asks next and his voice suddenly breaks and Kyungsoo feels his heart skip a beat when Jongin looks up and into his eyes. His eyes are brimming with tears and Kyungsoo wants to wipe them away before they can fall.

 

Kyungsoo shakes his head no.

 

Jongin smiles, small and bitter, and the tears fall over his cheeks silently. "Am I really that easy to forget?”

 

Kyungsoo freezes.

 

It’s like the entire world just stops around them and Kyungsoo just stares at Jongin with weak knees, hearing nothing but his own increased heartbeat.

 

He’s not sure he’s breathing anymore.

 

"W-What?”

 

Jongin wipes his tears away with the back of his hand, taking a shaky breath. "Now we know why they bought the orphanage.“

 

"Jongin…” Kyungsoo utters, taking a daring step forward. "What do you mean-”

 

Jongin looks up again. "I always had a feeling. They don’t have any pictures of me from when I was a baby. They told me they lost them because we used to move so much.”

 

"Are you-” Kyungsoo starts, mind whirring with everything Jongin just told him. "Are you saying-”

 

"That I’m adopted?” Jongin mumbles. "Yeah. That’s what I’m saying.”

 

Kyungsoo stares at him, unblinking, and he feels his own heart throbbing in his chest from all the pain in Jongin’s eyes, the betrayal, the hurt.

 

Jongin is adopted?

 

It doesn’t seem right. It’s like Kyungsoo’s mind refuses to process the information.

 

"What?” Kyungsoo’s voice is shaking. "Jongin, this isn’t funny-”

 

"You think I’m joking?” Jongin asks. "I wish I was. I wish... this was all just a fucking joke.” His voice breaks and Kyungsoo then knows he’s telling the truth.

 

The room’s silent for a few painful seconds and Kyungsoo tries to find words but he doesn’t know what he’s supposed to say. What could he even say to make the situation any better?

 

There’s nothing to say.

 

Because it’s one thing to know that you’re an orphan all your life but it’s an entirely different thing to find out almost twenty-three years into your life.

 

"You don’t have to worry about the orphanage anymore.” Jongin mutters. "I’m going to take care of that.”

 

"Jongin.” Kyungsoo rasps, the picture in his hands shaking. He looks at the two boys, smiling into the camera. He looks at himself, holding the smaller boy to his side tightly. He just can’t wrap his mind around the fact that the little boy is Jongin. That Kyungsoo and him used to be together in the orphanage, playing in the garden, sleeping in the same room.

 

Kyungsoo tries to remember. He tries to remember really hard but he doesn’t find Jongin in his memories and he doesn’t know why that hurts as much as it does.

 

"I’m... I’m sorry.”

 

Jongin looks up at him, his eyes red and puffy. "This isn’t your fault.”

 

Kyungsoo isn’t just apologizing for this, he’s apologizing for forgetting about him, for not being able to help him, for being such an asshole and for everything else too but he knows this isn’t the right time, not when Jongin’s entire life just turned out to be a lie.

 

"Can I help you in any way?” Kyungsoo asks, not knowing what else he’s supposed to do.

 

"I just want to sleep.”

 

Kyungsoo nods. "Do you... Do you want me to leave?”

 

Jongin looks at him with tired eyes. "I don’t want to hold you back from work.”

 

Kyungsoo shakes his head because he knows Jongin wants him to stay despite his words.

 

So he stays.

 

 

 

13:52 Do Kyungsoo: Please clean up my desk. I’m not coming back today.

 

 

 

13:55 Oh Sehun: k. is everything ok tho? whats going on?

 

 

13:56 Do Kyungsoo: I’ll tell you later.

 

 

 

While Jongin sleeps Kyungsoo cleans up the mess in the living room. He tries to sweep away the shards as best as he can but he knows it’ll have to be vacuumed in order to get every little piece but he doesn’t want to wake Jongin up so he just opts for spreading a blanket over the entire area for now.

 

Most of the drawings are destroyed and it breaks Kyungsoo’s heart, picking up all the pieces because he knows how beautiful they once were.

 

He knows it’ll break Jongin’s heart even more when he wakes up with a clear mind.

 

Kyungsoo lays all the pieces out on the huge dining table and fiddles with the torn pieces of Jongin’s art.

 

He thinks about Jongin’s parents, how they must feel right now. According to Jongin they did what they did to prevent Jongin from finding out that he was adopted.

 

It doesn’t really make much sense, Kyungsoo doesn’t get how the existence of the orphanage threatened them in any way. It’s not like Jongin was just randomly going to walk into the orphanage out of nowhere unless he had a very valid reason to assume his parents were lying to him.

 

Kyungsoo doesn’t think it’s right, to keep it from him for such a long time. He knows that most families tell their children as soon as they deem them old enough to understand just what it means that they’re adopted.

 

But Jongin is twenty-two years old. It’s just... too late, way too late.

 

He sighs and puts the second drawing he managed to put back together down. It doesn’t look because Kyungsoo’s horrible at crafting but at least you can tell what the drawings are supposed to portray.

 

Kyungsoo stares down at them and absently reaches for the picture in his pocket. He looks at the two little boys again and wonders why he doesn’t remember Jongin at all.

 

He wonders if they used to be good friends, even if they were really young back then.

 

He wonders if Jongin was one of those friends Kyungsoo cried about when they left.

 

He wonders at what age Jongin left them, why he can’t seem to remember the orphanage at all either.

 

He wonders if Joohyun or Seulgi will remember him because if this turns out to be true then Soojin will definitely remember everything about Jongin being in the orphanage.

 

Kyungsoo rubs at his eyes, shaking his head at the turn of events and waits for Jongin to wake up.

 

He’s been sitting at the table for about two hours - dozing off every now and then - when he hears the soft sounds of footsteps behind him. He turns around and finds Jongin approaching him slowly.

 

He looks terrible but Kyungsoo doesn’t blame him.

 

"Do you need something?” Kyungsoo asks.

 

Jongin shakes his head and stands next to the table, looks down at the drawings and the endless pieces of paper he tore apart hours ago. "No.” He croaks.

 

Kyungsoo nods and fiddles with the button on his sleeve. Jongin sits down on the chair closest to Kyungsoo and he looks like a lost child, like he doesn’t know what to do next.

 

He reaches for a piece of one of his drawings, runs his thumb over it. "I’m sorry you had to see that.”

 

"It’s okay.” Kyungsoo utters without hesitation. He knows that it burdens Jongin, when he gets those... attacks but he definitely isn’t going to be one of those people who will judge him for it. "Don’t apologize.” He eyes Jongin carefully, tries to figure out what Jongin is thinking, how he’s feeling. "Are you okay?”

 

Jongin stares at the piece of drawing in his hand for a while and eventually shrugs. "I don’t know.” He sighs and lets go of the piece of paper in his hand. "I just found out that my parents were lying to me all this time. I mean, they’re not... even my parents, are they?” He scoffs but there’s no humor behind it, obviously there isn’t.

 

Nothing about this is funny.

 

"Do you know what you’re going to do?“ Kyungsoo asks, not sure how much he’s allowed to ask.

 

"I can’t talk to them. Not yet anyways.” Jongin sighs and rubs at his eyes. His voice cracks and Kyungsoo’s hands twitch from how badly he wants to hold his hand.

 

"You don’t have to.” Kyungsoo tries.

 

"Oh, but I do.” Jongin shakes his head. "They’re going to come over-”

 

The doorbell suddenly rings and both of them look at the door and then into the other’s eyes.

 

"Is it them?” Kyungsoo asks when Jongin doesn’t move to go open it.

 

The rings get more urgent with every passing second. "I don’t want to see them.” Jongin croaks.

 

"Jongin!” Someone suddenly shouts. It’s a female voice so Kyungsoo guesses it’s his mother. "Honey please, please open the door!” She starts pounding against it and Kyungsoo feels his heart throb because her voice sounds so wrecked and desperate. "Jongin, sweetheart, please open the door!”

 

Kyungsoo gulps when he sees how Jongin’s shoulders are trembling and he’s about to get up and just... do something else but just sit there uselessly and watch him try to hold himself together. He hears a male voice and then the sound of keys jiggling and Jongin immediately tenses, pushes his chair back and moves back and behind Kyungsoo but it’s too late because suddenly the door opens and Jongin’s parents stand in the middle of the hallway.

 

The woman is dressed perfectly but her eyes are swollen and red rimmed, a hand clasped over her mouth as she gazes at her son while Jongin’s father takes in the entire scene, from the broken frames on the floor to the torn up drawings on the table.

 

He looks at Kyungsoo and he really wishes he wasn’t here. He’s intruding because none of this is something Kyungsoo is supposed to be witnessing.

 

"Jongin.” His father speaks, his voice steady, appearance collected while Jongin’s mother moves to step closer to Jongin but the boy holds a hand up, moves away, closer to Kyungsoo instead and the hurt on both their faces is apparent. "Son... We have to talk about this. You have to hear your mother and me out.”

 

"I don’t have to do anything.” Jongin snaps. From the way both his parents flinch Kyungsoo understands that Jongin normally doesn’t talk back to them like this. Jongin’s never harsh or impolite, at least Kyungsoo has never seen him act like that. "I don’t want to listen to anything you have to say.”

 

"Jongin.” His mother whimpers but she gets interrupted by his father.

 

"Please tell your friend to leave.” The man says, clearing his throat as he nods his head to where Kyungsoo is sitting. "This is something that has to be discussed in private.”

 

Kyungsoo doesn’t want to leave Jongin alone but he knows he has to respect the man’s wish so moves to grab his phone from the table but suddenly Jongin moves and grabs his arm. "No. Don’t go.” He utters quietly, a pleading look in his eyes when Kyungsoo turns to look at him. "Say whatever it is you have to say right now or leave.” Jongin says, looking at his parents again.

 

The man looks angry more than anything that he’s being told what to do by his son but he probably realizes that he’s not in the position to blame him right now. "Jongin... We understand that you are upset right now. You have every right to be. But we did what we did because we love you. We wanted to protect you.”

 

"Protect me?” Jongin scoffs. "Are you serious right now? Protect me from what?! The fact that you’re both fucking liars?!”

 

"Jongin!” His father shouts and Kyungsoo can’t help but flinch at his voice. "Don’t you dare talk to me like that.”

 

"Why not? I’m allowed to talk to you however I want.” Jongin’s voice breaks. "You’re not my father.”

 

His father looks like Jongin just spat him in the face while his mother sobs. Kyungsoo gulps, his heart beating uncontrollably as Jongin’s fingers dig into his wrist almost painfully.

 

"Jongin.” His mother now speaks up. She steps closer and Kyungsoo worries for her safety because she looks like she’s about to faint. Jongin seems to feel the same because his hand jerks at his side, almost like he wants to reach out and help her. She reaches a trembling hand out and holds his face, tears leaking out of her eyes. "We made a mistake. We shouldn’t have kept this from you. But please understand us…” Her face crumples. "I was so scared of losing you. I was scared you would hate us if you found out. I’m still your mother, and he’s still your father. Please don’t do this to us.”

 

"You lied to me... for so many years. You should have told me. You shouldn’t have kept this from me.” Jongin whispers. "Were you actually ever going to tell me?”

 

The silence that follows the question is all the answer Jongin needs. "So... not only would you have made me live this lie my entire life but you were also ready to tear those innocent children away from each other just for your own selfish reasons?”

 

"Son, it’s not like that-”

 

"Don’t call me son.” Jongin croaks and Kyungsoo sees his shoulders shake again. "I’m not... your son. I don’t- I don’t even know who I’m looking at right now.” His voice breaks as he looks into his parents’ face and all of this is so heart breaking, from the hurt in Jongin’s voice, the desperation in his mother’s face and the way even his father can’t mask the sadness in his eyes.

 

"Leave.” Jongin suddenly utters.

 

"Jongin, please don’t do this.” His mother sobs quietly. "Please, sweetheart, please forgive us-”

 

"Just leave!” He steps away from her and turns around to leave the room. The silence that follows the sound of Jongin’s slamming the door shut is almost unbearable.

 

Kyungsoo can’t handle this, seeing Jongin’s family on the brink of falling apart.

 

"Youngho.” Jongin’s mother whimpers, turning around as the man steps forward to bring her into his embrace. "Youngho do something. We can’t lose him…”

 

Kyungsoo gets up on unsteady legs, unsure as to how he’s supposed to act around them because he knows he had no right to be here, to see such a private moment. Jongin’s father looks at him over his wife’s shoulder, recognition flashing through his wet eyes. "Do Kyungsoo?” He questions and Kyungsoo is slightly surprised that the man still remembers him.

 

"I’m really sorry for intruding.” Kyungsoo says.

 

Jongin’s mother turns around in her husband’s embrace, looking into Kyungsoo’s face while she’s still hiccuping softly. "Are you Jongin’s friend?”

 

Kyungsoo’s mind flashes with pictures of Jongin and him kissing and he tries his best to mask the way his face heats up despite the situation. "We are colleagues.” He hopes it sounds convincing, it’s not entirely wrong at least.

 

"You are the one who took Jongin to the orphanage.” The woman suddenly says and Kyungsoo’s heart stutters in his chest.

 

It’s only now that Kyungsoo realizes it.

 

That Jongin and his parents would be okay if it wasn’t for Kyungsoo.

 

If Kyungsoo didn’t drag Jongin into any of this he would still live a peaceful life, even if it was a lie, he would at least still have a family.

 

Kyungsoo destroyed that for him.

 

He suddenly feels like throwing up, his eyes glazing over and his heart squeezing itself painfully in his chest.

 

"It’s okay.” She shakes her head once she sees the shocked look on Kyungsoo’s face. "This is not any of your fault. We’re the ones to blame.” She clears her throat, wiping at her tears with a tissue. "The truth had to come out one day. Maybe... Maybe this was for the best.”

 

"I’m... I’m sorry.” Kyungsoo utters helplessly.

 

He can’t help but feel that he did all of this to Jongin.

 

But he never wanted anything bad for Jongin, he doesn’t think he could hurt him even if he tried, so thinking that he’s the one who brought all of this upon him makes him feel like some kind of monster.

 

"No. We are the ones who are supposed to apologize.” Jongin’s father suddenly speaks. "Jongin told us that you had friends working there. It was not our intention to cause anyone harm with our actions.”

 

Kyungsoo slowly nods his head, not really knowing what he’s supposed to say at this point.

 

"Please don’t think of us as heartless people.“ Jongin’s mother speaks. "We did what we did because we love our son. Our methods weren’t right but you don’t understand how much you would do as a parent to not lose your child.”

 

He swallows around the lump in his throat, nodding again for a lack of words. He knows that weeks before he was hating on both these people for doing that to the kids at the orphanage but now he just... he feels sorry.

 

Kyungsoo clears his throat. He suddenly just wants to go see Jongin, wants to apologize, wants to make sure he’s okay, wants to make things okay between him and his parents. "I know this is not my business. But I think you should give Jongin some time for himself. This must be a lot to take in and he’s probably really worked up right now and not thinking clearly... I’m sure he didn’t mean those things.”

 

Jongin’s mother puts on a brave smile and nods her head. "Please tell him to talk to us as soon as he’s ready. And if he needs anything... just please call us.”

 

Kyungsoo nods but he feels uneasy because no matter how close Jongin and him got yesterday, they’re still not what could be considered close. He feels like Chanyeol should be here rather than him.

 

Jongin’s father nods his head at Kyungsoo before he wraps an arm around his wife, guiding her out of the apartment. The door shuts behind them with a soft click and Kyungsoo lets out a shaky breath, closing his eyes as he rubs a hand over his face.

 

When he enters Jongin’s bedroom a moment later he does it after making sure that Jongin is fine with him being here by knocking on the door and waiting for the boy to come open it since he really isn’t sure if he’s bothering Jongin by being here or not.

 

Jongin opens the door and looks at Kyungsoo nervously. "Sorry.”

 

"Sorry?” Kyungsoo cautiously asks, trailing after Jongin and sitting down on the bed when Jongin does.

 

"For dragging you into this.” Jongin mumbles. His voice sounds hoarse and he brings his hands up to rub at his eyes with his knuckles, the action making him look incredibly young and somewhat vulnerable.

 

Kyungsoo shakes his head. "None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for me. I’m the one who’s supposed to apologize. I used you for my own selfish reasons and now... you got hurt because of it. Because of me.”

 

"What?” Jongin turns to face Kyungsoo, his knee pressing into Kyungsoo’s thigh. The touch is strangely comforting, grounding and also not enough. "Hyung, no. Don’t even think about blaming yourself. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have even known my parents were lying to me and Naeun and Taeil, everyone at the orphanage would’ve gotten hurt way worse. This is…” Jongin shrugs and when Kyungsoo finally looks up at him he sees how Jongin’s lips twitch and Kyungsoo holds back a pathetic whimper at how hurt Jongin looks despite his words. "Sure, this sucks but it’s... it’s just how life is, yeah?”

 

Kyungsoo looks into Jongin’s eyes, feels his heart swell with affection for him when Jongin tries to smile despite everything. The emotions feel like waves crashing over him and he can fight them all he wants, knowing very well it’s a fight he was never meant to win in the first place.

 

"Is there anything I can do for you?” Kyungsoo asks.

 

Jongin shakes his head, the exhaustion apparent on his face. It’s silent for a moment and suddenly, Kyungsoo feels really tired himself. "Why didn’t you tell me?”

 

"Tell you what?”

 

"The actual reason you feel so strongly about the orphanage.“

 

And naturally, Kyungsoo’s first instinct is to shake his head and come up with a lie but when they’re lying on the bed a moment later, both of them staring at the ceiling while they’re battling their own thoughts, Kyungsoo feels the resolve in his chest crumble piece by piece.

 

"People usually don’t react well to it.” Kyungsoo mumbles, his words followed by the sound of rain hitting the broad windows lining the walls of Jongin’s bedroom.

 

Jongin turns his head and Kyungsoo feels his eyes following the side of his profile. "A lot of people are... adopted, hyung. There’s nothing wrong with that.” He sounds unconvinced, like he knows how hypocritical he sounds while trying to reassure Kyungsoo.

 

"I know.” Kyungsoo gulps and briefly closes his eyes as to brace himself. "But I wasn’t adopted.”

 

The sound of rain has never sounded more violent in Kyungsoo’s ears and he has never wanted to hear Jongin’s voice as much as now because him being silent makes Kyungsoo’s anxiety spike in ways it rarely ever has before.

 

Jongin shifts beside him and then he’s leaning up onto his elbows, his face looming above Kyungsoo as he looks down at him, confusion painting his handsome face. "What?”

 

Their eyes are locked on each other and Kyungsoo can barely think past the beauty of Jongin’s eyes and the memory of the taste of his lips, his chest hurting from the fear of the possibility of Jongin’s usually warm eyes being filled with disgust. "I was never adopted, Jongin. I’m still... I’m still an orphan.”

 

"Hyung…” Jongin utters.

 

"I left the orphanage when I turned eighteen.” He continues, just wanting to get it all out because he doesn’t want to talk about this later on anymore. "I don’t have a family. But you... you do. And I can only imagine how you must feel right now Jongin, but they’re still your parents. They gave you love and a roof over your head, they gave you safety and that’s what parents are supposed to do, isn’t it?” Kyungsoo sighs and lifts his eyes once again, almost unable to look into Jongin’s because they’re so close and so intense. "You can take as much time as you need but don’t push them away. Please.”

 

Jongin blinks down at him and Kyungsoo sees him gulp heavily when he leans down closer, his voice barely louder than a whisper. "So you were alone all your life and I... I grew up with a wealthy family just because they chose to adopt me.”

 

"Hey,” He mumbles, confused when he sees how Jongin’s eyes are glistening. He doesn’t want Jongin to feel bad about something that isn’t his fault.

 

"How is it fair?”

 

"Jongin. Stop. It’s okay, there are worse things in the world.”

 

They stare at each other for a while and Kyungsoo waits for Jongin’s eyes to stop watering, his hand carefully holding onto the boy’s arm.

 

"Why can’t I remember you?” Jongin asks. "I feel like I should remember you. I want to remember you.”

 

"We were kids, Jongin.” Kyungsoo shrugs, still feeling slightly overwhelmed by the fact that him and Jongin used to live at the orphanage together.

 

"Can we go to the orphanage tomorrow?” The younger asks quietly. "I just- I have questions. Maybe they can help.”

 

Kyungsoo nods. "Of course. They will be really happy to see you. Especially Taeil. He still talks about you all the time.” He knows that the kids are probably the last thing on Jongin’s mind right now but Kyungsoo’s just trying to take his mind off from everything else that’s happening right now.

 

And Jongin even smiles at the mention of the little boy. "I feel really bad about not visiting for so long.”

 

"It’s not your fault.” Kyungsoo clears his throat. "I was the one being stubborn.”

 

It’s like the first time they’re acknowledging what happened between them the day before, Kyungsoo can tell by the way Jongin’s eyes go soft as he looks down at him.

 

"Is that... Is that why you kept pushing me away?” Jongin asks, his voice barely louder than a whisper.

 

"What?”

 

"Because you’re. I mean, because you were alone all your life?” Jongin looks at him carefully, like he doesn’t want to say something wrong. "I’m sorry, I don’t mean to... I’m sorry.”

 

It takes Kyungsoo a moment to understand what Jongin means and once he does he feels vulnerable again, since he isn’t one to talk about things like that, usually keeping it inside. "I’ve never felt like this before. I think... I was scared.” He still is but he doesn’t say it out loud when he sees how Jongin gives him a solemn smile. "I’m not sure I know how to... express these kind of feelings.”

 

"That’s okay.” Jongin mumbles. "I can show you.” He looks very unsure about his next move, despite them talking things through yesterday but he ends up brushing his thumb over Kyungsoo’s cheek softly and the warmth in his eyes makes Kyungsoo’s heart flutter. "We can figure things out together, right?”

 

The spot Jongin touched is warming up and Kyungsoo can’t help but look at Jongin admiringly, his hands itching to pull him down and kiss his lips.

 

He knows they have a lot to figure out, especially with everything that’s happened today. Kyungsoo wouldn’t have ever thought that Jongin and him had a past that was somehow rooted with the other’s so all of this is a lot to take in, more so for Jongin whose life more or less just turned upside down.

 

Kyungsoo gives Jongin a reassuring smile because the younger looks like he needs it. "Okay.”

 

 

 

Jongin and him don’t talk much after that. They lie on Jongin’s bed with the younger drifting in and out of sleep, his eyes darkening from time to time. Kyungsoo sees the storm inside his eyes and he keeps hoping that his silent presence is enough support because he honestly doesn’t know how he could help him. After some time, Jongin reaches out to take Kyungsoo’s hand, lacing their fingers together and it makes Kyungsoo feel bad, how hesitant the younger is about it, like he doesn’t know how to act around Kyungsoo.

 

Kyungsoo gets that his cautiousness makes Jongin be wary around him as well so he squeezes their palms together, tightens his fingers around Jongin’s and turns on his side to look into his eyes reassuringly. Because he likes being so close to Jongin, he likes touching him, likes looking at him, likes how one look out of Jongin’s handsome eyes makes him forget about everything bad, but there’s no way he can say it out loud so he hopes his thoughts convey through his actions.

 

He makes Jongin some food when he hears his stomach rumble and they eat it at the isle in the kitchen, listening to the heavy rain outside. Jongin gives him a cute smile upon tasting the food and basically eats the entire pot and Kyungsoo can’t help but feel warm all over because of how nice it feels to make the boy smile even during such a tough situation. When Sehun texts him that he is waiting outside, Jongin’s face falls and before Kyungsoo even has the chance to feel bad, get up to grab Kyungsoo’s jacket. He helps him slip it on and it’s so ridiculous, how silent and careful both of them are being.

 

"You can... you can call me if you need anything.” Kyungsoo clears his throat, looking up at Jongin to see if the boy is okay because he feels bad for leaving but he’s also not sure if Jongin wants him around any longer since he didn’t say anything.

 

It’s probably better for Jongin to be alone anyways.

 

"I will.” Jongin smiles and Kyungsoo fights the urge to run his thumb over the thin skin underneath his eyes. "Thank you, hyung.”

 

And then Jongin leans in and before Kyungsoo could figure out what he wants Jongin grabs his arm to pull him in, his arms winding around Kyungsoo’s waist while he nestles his face into the crook of Kyungsoo’s neck despite the difference in height. Kyungsoo exhales heavily, his shoulders dropping as an odd sense of relief washes over him upon feeling Jongin so close again.

 

He doesn’t understand why, but he suddenly feels unexplainably protective over Jongin. He wraps his arms around the younger’s frame and feels Jongin melt into his embrace, tired and pliant and Kyungsoo wishes he knew how to take some of his burden away. They hold each other for a moment, Kyungsoo’s eyes pressed closed as Jongin rubs his palm over the small of Kyungsoo’s back soothingly.

 

Kyungsoo wants to kiss him, he feels his skin prickle from how much he wants to taste Jongin’s lips again because his warmth and scent make him feel heady like nothing else before. But this isn’t the right time, it definitely isn’t, so he pulls away and leaves after they exchange what has to be the most timid smiles either of them have ever worn on their faces.

 

 

Sehun greets him with a "Is everything okay?” to which Kyungsoo nods his head with what he hopes to be a reassuring smile. Thankfully, Sehun for once doesn’t flood him with questions during the drive, giving Kyungsoo some time to collect his thoughts before he starts explaining his best friend the entire situation.

 

Kyungsoo doesn’t even notice that they’ve arrived at his apartment until Sehun waves his hand in front of Kyungsoo’s face.

 

"Earth to Kyungsoo?” Sehun scoffs when Kyungsoo turns to give him a confused look. "Are you okay?”

 

"Yeah. Sorry.”

 

Sehun doesn’t look convinced but he doesn’t push it any further and Kyungsoo wonders if this is Junmyeon’s work because usually, Sehun would not lay off this easily. "People are talking, at the office.”

 

"About what?”

 

"Jongin.” Sehun studies Kyungsoo’s face for any kind of reaction but when he finds nothing he sighs. "Is he really adopted?”

 

Kyungsoo’s head snaps up at that, confusion and anger swimming in his eyes. "W-Who told you that?”

 

Jongin only found out this morning; how did words travel so fast? And who on earth thought it was okay to spread that kind of personal information?

 

"One of the interns overheard them.” Sehun explains. "And obviously couldn’t keep her mouth shut. I’m pretty sure Taemin’s going to fire her as soon as he finds out.”

 

Kyungsoo hides his face in his hands, shaking his head tiredly. It was only a matter of time until one of those assholes was going to sell the information to some reporter and from there, the news would spread all over the media.

 

"This is so wrong.” Kyungsoo utters, wanting nothing more than to slip into his bed and sleep and pretend that none of this is happening.

 

Whether he likes it or not, Jongin is important to him - that boy is all that’s on Kyungsoo’s mind all the time - and all of this is just too much to take in for two days.

 

"Is he okay?” Sehun wants to know.

 

"I don’t know. He seems to be as okay as someone can be in that situation.”

 

Sehun nods and then his expression turns serious, slightly anxious too. "Hyung?”

 

"What?”

 

"Do you and Jongin know each other?” He asks, making Kyungsoo look up and into his eyes. "Did you know each other before you started working for Taemin?”

 

Sometimes Kyungsoo forgets how smart his best friend is and sometimes he really just wishes he wasn’t just that smart. "So you figured it out.”

 

"Oh my god.” Sehun laughs nervously, his mouth opening and closing like a goldfish "This is like some kind of TV drama shit…” He clears his throat, putting on a more serious expression. "And you both really didn’t recognize each other?”

 

"Sehun, we were... like five years old back then.” Kyungsoo doesn’t even know how old they were, he knows that on the picture Kyungsoo had to be at least five years old. He doesn’t know about Jongin, doesn’t know when he left the orphanage... Saying it out loud, thinking about it like this, only serves to make all of this feel more surreal.

 

"Okay. Sorry, you’re right.” Sehun taps his fingers against the steering wheel, a steady sound following the raindrops that are hitting the windscreen. "I’m guessing the orphanage’s safe now?”

 

Kyungsoo shrugs. He can’t even feel happy about it, not when Jongin’s hurting because of it. "I guess so.”

 

"Alright... One last question.” Sehun says after a beat. "Did you kiss?”

 

Kyungsoo stares at him for a moment before he unbuckles his seatbelt. "Thanks for picking me up.” He reaches for the door handle and is about to get out because he’s definitely not going to talk to Sehun about him and Jongin, especially when he doesn’t even get it himself.

 

"No!“ Sehun laughs and leans over him to shut the door again. "Hyung, please. What happened to you trying to be a better friend? I know you hate talking about this stuff but please don’t leave me hanging here. I just want to know what’s going on, don’t I deserve to know as much as your best friend?”

 

"What do you want to know?” Kyungsoo’s hand stills at the door.

 

"Did you kiss?”

 

Kyungsoo grits his teeth together and glares at the window.

 

"Yes.”

 

Sehun seems taken aback that Kyungsoo actually answered, a disturbed look crossing his face. "You did?”

 

Kyungsoo keeps silent, trying not to think about it too much in fear of doing something stupid, like blushing.

 

"Wow... Hyung. I’m proud of you. Even if it’s, you know. Kim Jongin.” Sehun makes a face like he’s going to be sick and Kyungsoo can’t even find it in himself to be mad, too worn out from the day’s events.

 

Kyungsoo pushes the door open. "Thanks for picking me up.”

 

"I’m happy for you!” Sehun rushes out before Kyungsoo closes the door into his face.

 

It’s a good thing Sehun doesn’t see the stupid redness on Kyungsoo’s cheeks while he walks up the stairs to his apartment.

 

 

x

 

 

Jongin doesn’t show up at the office the next day. Not that Kyungsoo expected him to but as soon as he arrives at his workplace several heads shoot up to turn his way.

 

Kyungsoo ignores the stares, ignores the whispers and greets Sehun who’s already waiting for him at his cubicle, giving him an almost apologizing smile.

 

"They saw you going after him yesterday.” Sehun mumbles quietly, arms resting on the edges of his cubicle, his chin pressed on top of them. "People think you have something going on.”

 

Kyungsoo’s eyes flicker up, catching a few interns quickly turning their heads away upon getting caught staring at him. He shakes his head and looks down at his keyboard. He wonders what Jongin is doing. How he is doing. "Let them think whatever they want.”

 

He honestly couldn’t care less about his image or stupid rumors right now. He just wants to help Jongin fix things, wants to help him find it in himself to forgive his parents for their mistake, no matter how much time it’ll take. He also wants to sort out Jongin’s past. Their past at the orphanage.

 

"Yeah.” Sehun mumbles, eyeing him carefully. "I think Taemin caught up on it too, though.”

 

Kyungsoo looks up and meets his best friends’ worried eyes, opening his mouth to ask him where that assumption is coming from but he gets interrupted.

 

"Kyungsoo?“

 

He looks up to find Taemin’s personal assistant Jihyun standing next to Sehun. "Yes?”

 

She smiles at him, her hands clasped around her iPad. "Do you have a minute? Mr. Lee wants you to meet him in his office.”

 

Sehun’s eyes widen when Kyungsoo quickly glances at him. "Right now?”

 

"If it’s convenient for you, yes.”

 

He gets up from his seat. "Okay.”

 

When he follows her through the office, walking past all the endless cubicles, he can feel everyone’s curious eyes on him as he stares at Jihyun’s curled hair bouncing with every step

 

she takes, the sound of her high heels hitting the ground louder than all the hushed whispers around them.

 

So this is it?

 

He’s getting fired.

 

Kyungsoo shakes his head to himself. He doesn’t want another job, he wouldn’t get another job because he knows how job interviews go, he knows he’ll be asked about his family and he can just imagine the looks in their eyes when he tells them that he doesn’t have one.

 

Jihyun turns to face him once they’ve arrived at Taemin’s door. She knocks three times and opens it for Kyungsoo to walk inside.

 

"Thank you Jihyun, you can leave now.” Taemin says once Kyungsoo is inside. The woman nods and closes the door behind herself, leaving Kyungsoo alone with his boss.

 

"You wanted to speak to me?” Kyungsoo clears his throat and goes to sit down when Taemin gestures to one of the chairs in front of his desk.

 

"That’s right.” Taemin eyes him silently for a moment before sighing deeply. "I’m sure you know about what happened yesterday with my uncle and Jongin. The whole office does.” He chuckles bitterly.

 

Kyungsoo gulps. "I’m sorry for that.”

 

"Ah, it’s not your fault.“ Taemin shakes his head and is silent for a few seconds, his eyebrows scrunched up like he’s deep in thought. "How is he?“ He suddenly asks and Kyungsoo tenses up in his chair.

 

"What?“

 

"I’m talking about Jongin.” His boss looks into his eyes and Kyungsoo tries not to shrink into himself under his gaze. "He isn’t answering my calls. I talked to my uncle. Things aren’t okay, are they?”

 

"Mr. Lee-”

 

"It’s Taemin, Kyungsoo. How many times do I have to tell you that?“

 

Kyungsoo apologizes and clears his throat. "I’m afraid I don’t understand what you mean.”

 

"You don’t?” Taemin cocks his head to the side. "Alright. Let me help you understand. Our Jonginnie is completely smitten with you. The kid looks at you like an excited puppy whenever he sees you around the office. I know you are aware of that. You have been spending a lot of time together lately after all.”

 

When Kyungsoo doesn’t answer Taemin puts on a smile, probably after seeing the look of terror and confusion on Kyungsoo’s face. He doesn’t think anyone ever saw Kyungsoo and Jongin leaving the office in the same car and once at the office, they didn’t ever really talk to the other. He also never really noticed Jongin looking at him in a way that would make anyone suspicious of them.

 

"Our Chanyeol isn’t really good at keeping things to himself I’m afraid.” Taemin explains. "And also; I’m not an idiot. I do have a pair of working eyes, you know.”

 

"I-” Kyungsoo starts but he finds that he doesn’t even know what he wants to say. "I apologize. I didn’t mean to disrespect you or the company’s policies.”

 

"Kyungsoo.” Taemin says and waits for him to look and into his eyes. "We’ve been working together for a few years now. You are on the most hardworking and sincere employees here.”

 

Kyungsoo holds his breath, waits for the inevitable but.

 

"Ease up, will you? I didn’t order you here to fire you.” Taemin chuckles. "As long as you two keep work and your personal relationship separate, none of this is my business.“

 

The look Kyungsoo gives him must be hilarious because the man laughs at him for a few seconds.

 

"You heard me.” Taemin is smirking now. "Honestly, I don’t know what you see in my bratty cousin but I guess the heart wants what it wants, right?”

 

Kyungsoo can’t help but open his mouth like a goldfish for a moment. Taemin is acting like… well, just Taemin. A simple young man, not the CEO of one of the most successful companies in the country.

 

"So, how is he doing?” He asks again, not even giving Kyungsoo a chance to speak. "I would’ve gone to his apartment but I don’t think he wants to see anyone right now. I’m worried about him.”

 

Kyungsoo still stares at Taemin, completely dumbfounded and he doesn’t think Jongin’s cousin should ask him about his well being. It doesn’t feel right at all. It doesn’t feel right, the thought that Kyungsoo’s suddenly closer to Jongin than his own family.

 

"I think... I think he just needs a little time.” He repeats his words from yesterday again. "It’s a lot to take in.”

 

Taemin’s smile turns sad, his eyes soft at Kyungsoo’s words. Since Kyungsoo is his employee he knows of his past, knows about his situation and in that moment he must understand that Kyungsoo is probably the only person that can at least somehow understand how Jongin is feeling even if it’s completely different in some way.

 

"My uncle... my uncle and aunt, they love Jongin more than anything else in this world.” Taemin says quietly. "I don’t see how they could survive in a world where Jongin doesn’t call them mom and dad anymore.”

 

The words are incredibly sad and they squeeze Kyungsoo’s heart in his chest.

 

"Can you just... make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid?” Taemin sighs and leans back. "I know he needs time, of course he does. This situation is so... messed up. And I know my uncle made a huge mistake, maybe even unforgivable to some. But they’re not bad people. Love and fear are a dangerous combination. Makes people do crazy things.”

 

Kyungsoo nods and then decides to ask what’s burning in his mind. "Did you know?”

 

Taemin shakes his head. "I found out yesterday as well. No one in our family knew.”

 

And Kyungsoo wants to ask how that’s possible.

 

How could they just pretend that Jongin was their biological child without anyone finding out the truth?

 

In the picture of them Jongin had to be at least four years old. If they adopted him at that age, how didn’t anyone ever question it? How could that even make sense?

 

"I see you have a lot of questions.” Taemin clears his throat. "But I’m afraid it is not my place to tell you.”

 

"Of course.” Kyungsoo’s mind is still reeling with the new information though.

 

Taemin suddenly starts smiling again and Kyungsoo starts shifting in his seat uncomfortably.

 

"Did you need anything else from me?”

 

His boss shakes his head. "No, that’s all. You can go back to work.”

 

Kyungsoo nods and gets up to leave but just as he curls his fingers around the door handle Taemin stops him.

 

"Kyungsoo?”

 

"Yes?” He turns around to face him again.

 

"Take care of him, will you? Don’t go hurting him. Jongin’s been through a lot.” Taemin’s smile is a sad one. "And you know, he is my little cousin after all. I will look out for him if you do something stupid.”

 

Kyungsoo’s entire face burns up within a second and he doesn’t think he even remembers how to spell his own name in that moment. "Uhm. I.” He ends up chuckling like an idiot.

 

"It’s okay.” Taemin laughs. "I’m just teasing you Kyungsoo. You can leave now.”

 

Kyungsoo nods his head in a silent goodbye and flees the room, keeping his eyes on the ground the entire way back to his cubicle. Everyone’s staring and it takes a lot of willpower not to look into their faces and ask them what the hell their problem is - even if he actually knows the reason for the stares and glares.

 

Sehun looks up from his computer and gives him an anxious look as he gets up from his desk and walks over to Kyungsoo’s. "Do we have to look for a new job?”

 

Kyungsoo sits down with a sigh, ignoring how Sehun just automatically assumes that he’d have to look for a new job as well if Kyungsoo got fired. "No.”

 

"What did he want?”

 

"Nothing.” He replies but notices how Sehun’s face falls and remembers that he said he’d try to be a better friend. "He knows.” He adds.

 

"And?”

 

"I mean. He didn’t fire me, so.”

 

Sehun studies his face for a moment. "Taemin’s a good man.”

 

Kyungsoo nods his head.

 

"And you’re fucking Kim Jongin.” His friend adds after a beat. "What the hell is happening in the world?”

 

"Shut up.” Kyungsoo mutters. "Sehun, don’t say stuff like that.”

 

"Why not?” Sehun scoffs. "It’s true. It’s why everyone in here wants to strangle you. Because you get to hop on his dick-”

 

Kyungsoo reaches out to grip his tie, tugging him forwards which makes Sehun almost topple over. "Stop!”

 

Sehun slaps his hands away, pouting as he fixes his tie. The boy doesn’t even understand why he’s driving Kyungsoo up the wall right now given his next words. "Jeez, sorry, I just thought you’d bottom because I can’t imagine Jongin taking it up the ass to be honest-”

 

Kyungsoo’s face is positively on fire when he reaches for his paper knife and he honestly hasn’t ever seen Sehun move so fast because his friend is back at his own cubicle in the blink of an eye.

 

Kyungsoo glares at him, waving the knife in his hand once and Sehun shakes his head at him, smirking as he mouths "Witnesses”.

 

 

 

 

It starts raining again when Kyungsoo is sitting in his car later that evening, on his way to pick Jongin up after exchanging a few text messages to check up on his well being.

 

Kyungsoo is nervous for two reasons.

 

Because for one, he doesn’t know what’s going to happen tonight when they talk to Soojin. He doesn’t know what she’s going to tell them, how much she will remember, if the things they will hear will only make the situation worse.

 

And the other thing is simple. It’s Jongin.

 

Kyungsoo doesn’t know what they are and he doesn’t know how to act around him, especially now that the younger has so much more important things on his mind than his relationship status with Kyungsoo.

 

It wasn’t easy for Kyungsoo to act on his actual feelings back in Jongin’s apartment, when the younger kissed him, when he told Kyungsoo to stop pushing him away and when Kyungsoo agreed to it while his mind was clouded with Jongin’s overwhelming presence, the way his lips felt against his own.

 

He shakes his head and decides to stop thinking about it too much. He just wants to make sure that Jongin feels comfortable around him - especially now that everything’s already so complicated for Jongin - so he’s ready to put his own worries aside for the moment.

 

Jongin is already waiting outside when Kyungsoo arrives at his apartment.

 

He’s dressed in normal clothes and it’s something Kyungsoo’s eyes aren’t used to at all. He hasn’t ever seen him wear anything else but suits so seeing him in a loose sweater and simple jeans makes him look like an entirely different person.

 

Jongin quickly opens the door and gets in, visibly shuddering from the warmth inside the car. "Hi.” He breathes as he fastens his seatbelt.

 

His cheeks are red, so is the tip of his nose and Kyungsoo can’t help but frown once he realizes that Jongin isn’t wearing a coat. "Hey. Why aren’t you wearing a coat?”

 

The younger gives him a confused look and Kyungsoo tries to ignore the way his dark eyes scan his entire face quickly. "I didn’t think I’d need one since we’re going by car. Or are we going somewhere else?”

 

Kyungsoo starts driving again and shakes his head. "No but it’s cold outside. You could get sick.” He reaches his hand out to change the direction of the warm air from the air conditioner.

 

"Put your hands here.”

 

"Hyung, I’m fine.” Jongin mumbles. Kyungsoo looks at him and can’t help the way his eyes soften because Jongin looks so incredibly tired. He can’t help but wonder if he cried or how upset he was once Kyungsoo left. Maybe it’s too soon to feel like that but every fiber of his being seems to care about Jongin’s well being more than his own.

 

He reaches out and takes one of Jongin’s hands into his own, glaring at him when he feels how ice cold his fingers are. He holds them in front of the vent closest to Jongin. "Put your other one here too, will you?”

 

Kyungsoo focuses back on the road but he can see the little smile on Jongin’s face when he does as he’s told.

 

It’s silent in the car after that save for the sounds of cars passing and the warm air blowing out of the vents to warm up the inside of his car. Kyungsoo has a dozen questions burning at the tip of his tongue but he doesn’t dare ask them, at least not before they’ve talked to Soojin.

 

"How was it at the office?” Jongin asks after a while. Kyungsoo glances at him, sees the younger resting his elbow on the windowsill.

 

"People know.” Kyungsoo answers, not bothering to hide the truth from him. "They’re talking.”

 

"Why am I not surprised.”

 

"I’m sorry.” Kyungsoo feels like he’s been apologizing a lot to him but he doesn’t know what else he should do. Jongin turns to look at him and shakes his head, a tired smile tugging at his lips.

 

"Don’t be. None of that is your fault.”

 

"How are you feeling?” Kyungsoo asks.

 

"I’m okay.” He shrugs. "I’m like, still half-convinced all of this is just a horrible dream though.” Jongin chuckles quietly.

 

"Did you talk to them?”

 

"My parents?” Jongin asks and hesitates, like he’s wondering if he’s still supposed to use that title. "No. They tried to call but I just. I need some time. I need some answers before I can talk to them. I don’t want to hurt them again like I did yesterday.”

 

Kyungsoo’s heart twitches because he knows that Jongin’s a kind person but he’s still thinking about his parents’ feelings despite everything they’ve done to him. He wonders if he ever really thinks about his own feelings.

 

Or if he thinks he deserves the bad things because according to him, he used to treat people like shit a few years back.

 

"I hope you’ll get the answers you’re looking for tonight.” Kyungsoo mumbles.

 

Jongin nods. "I hope so too. But we both need answers, hyung. We were both on that picture, right?” Jongin glances at him, and when their eyes meet, Kyungsoo’s heart does a happy little jump in his chest. He can hardly look away from Jongin’s eyes, wanting to reach out and take his hand, feel the warmth of his skin and intertwine their fingers tightly.

 

And it’s like Jongin can read his mind because a moment later he does what Kyungsoo is lacking the courage to do, reaches over the armrest separating them and takes Kyungsoo’s hand that is curled over the clutch.

 

He slides his fingers into the gaps between Kyungsoo’s and curls them to press their palms together tightly, his thumb brushing over the back of Kyungsoo’s hand.

 

Kyungsoo stares at the road, slightly overwhelmed from how soothing and grounding it feels to hold Jongin’s hand, how it makes most of Kyungsoo’s anxiety ebb away.

 

He squeezes Jongin’s hand and brushes his own thumb over his knuckles, trying not to smile too when he catches Jongin smiling at their hands before he turns to look out of the window.

 

 

 

Before they go inside, Jongin stops and stares at the garden of the orphanage. Kyungsoo waits and looks at him with concern because he can’t tell what Jongin is feeling, what he’s thinking.

 

There are tiny clouds puffing out of their lips, and Kyungsoo shudders when a gush of ice cold air their forms.

 

He steps closer when Jongin hasn’t moved for a long time, the gravel underneath his shoes crunching loudly in the silence around them. "Jongin, we should go inside. You’ll get sick.”

 

"Is that it?” Jongin asks, tilting his head as he steps closer to where the grass from the garden starts. Kyungsoo furrows his eyebrows and tries to figure out what Jongin is looking at.

 

"What?”

 

"The tree.” Jongin mumbles and suddenly, Kyungsoo understands. He’s talking about the picture Kyungsoo has hidden away in his pocket, where the two little boys are smiling into the camera in front of a huge tree.

 

"Yes.” Kyungsoo answers, stepping up beside him.

 

Jongin doesn’t talk again for a moment. "Do you, do you remember if there used to be a swing there?” His voice is shaking slightly. "Like, one... one made out of a huge tyre?”

 

Kyungsoo freezes at the question, his heart suddenly pounding a lot faster.

 

He honestly didn’t expect Jongin to remember anything about his time at the orphanage.

 

"You remember?” Kyungsoo asks, disbelief painting his voice.

 

"I just remember playing on a swing like that.”

 

"The branch nearly broke one time when one of the kids was playing on it. They took it down after that.” Kyungsoo explains.

 

Jongin looks at the ground, his eyebrows furrowed, and he’s silent for so long it starts to worry Kyungsoo. "Are you okay?”

 

"Sorry. I’m stupid.” Jongin huffs and brings the sleeve of his sweater up to rub at his eyes. "I guess it just didn’t feel real until now.” He swears quietly, and Kyungsoo sees his shoulders shake and before he knows it he has his arms around Jongin, the younger’s head buried in his shoulder, his hands grasping the back of Kyungsoo’s coat weakly.

 

Jongin feels cold in his arms and Kyungsoo tries to warm him up as best as he can, feeling Jongin burrow deeper into his embrace, like he’s seeking comfort and Kyungsoo is ready to give him anything he needs at this point. "You’ll be fine.” Kyungsoo tries to comfort him, not sure if he’s succeeding because saying those things is so difficult, no matter how much he means it.

 

It’s like his own lips aren’t used to those kind of words, struggling to speak them out loud but if it’ll make Jongin feel better he doesn’t care. He just wants him to be okay.

 

He breathes in Jongin’s sweet scent and everything about this moment makes his heart swell so painfully that he worries it might burst. Jongin holding on to him like this, them standing in the garden of the orphanage surrounded by what has to be the coldest night of the year so far.

 

"We should go inside.” He mumbles and it takes a few seconds for Jongin to step away. Kyungsoo smiles at him and reaches out to wipe away some of the wetness on his cheeks.

 

"I promise I’m usually not such a cry baby.” Jongin grumbles like it’s hurting his pride to be seen crying.

 

Kyungsoo chuckles. "Sure you aren’t.”

 

 

 

Taeil is sitting on the carpet at the entrance when they step inside a moment later, almost like the little boy was waiting for their arrival (which he probably was).

 

"Hyung!” He scrambles up from his seat and makes grabby hands at Jongin who has one of the fondest smiles on his face Kyungsoo has ever seen. He crouches down and wraps his arms around the little boy, standing up again when Taeil wraps himself around his hyung like a koala bear baby. "I-I missed you s-so much, Jongin hyung!”

 

Jongin chuckles and holds the little boy closer and Kyungsoo clears his throat to himself, not really sure where the stupid stinging in his eyes suddenly came from. "I missed you too, buddy.”

 

"Hi you two.” Joohyun walks up to them with a smile on her face. "It’s nice to see you again, Jongin. That little monster’s been driving us crazy about you coming to visit him again.”

 

"I’m really sorry.” Jongin says over Taeil’s shoulder since the boy is refusing to let go of him. "Work just kept me really busy.”

 

"Of course. Don’t worry about it.” She smiles at him and walks over to give Kyungsoo a hug, scolding him as she pinches his sides. "Did you lose weight again?”

 

"No.” Kyungsoo rolls his eyes even if she’s probably right. He catches Jongin’s worried look and sighs. "I didn’t.” He insists.

 

"Do I look like I’m stupid?” She pinches his arm this time. "Go sit down. I’ll whip up some food for you two.”

 

"Where’s Naeun?” Kyungsoo asks since the little girl would usually be here to greet him by now.

 

"Noona is s-sick!” Taeil turns his face, pressing his cheek against Jongin’s chest as he pouts at Kyungsoo.

 

Kyungsoo turns to look at Joohyun, not able to keep the concern out of his voice. "Is she okay?”

 

"She came down with a stomach flu. She’s okay, don’t worry.” She reassures him. "We gave her some medicine and she’s been sleeping pretty much the entire day.”

 

"I wasn’t allowed t-to p-play with h-her.” Taeil juts his lower lip out at Jongin.

 

"That’s so you don’t get sick too.” Jongin rubs his back.

 

"W-will you p-play with m-me?”

 

"Of course.”

 

Taeil hugs him again, resting his head on Jongin’s shoulder sleepily while Jongin holds him against his chest.

 

"I’ll just quickly check up on Naeun.” Kyungsoo says to him.

 

Jongin hesitates, concern flickering through his eyes before he gives a nod. „O-okay.”

 

There’s something about Jongin stuttering. It squeezes Kyungsoo’s chest so painfully because he knows how much the younger struggled because of it in the past and how it still appears when he’s either nervous or scared.

 

Naeun is sleeping when Kyungsoo crouched down next to her, brushing her sweaty bangs out of her eyes with a pained smile on his face. It hurts him to see her so small and weak.

 

The little girl whimpers, her lower lip wobbling as she turns to her side and blinks her eyes open. She gazes up at him through teary eyes.

 

"Hey little one.” He whispers, brushing a thumb over the heated skin on her cheek. "Did my little Naeun get sick?”

 

She starts crying and nods, reaching her small hand out to hold Kyungsoo’s. "My tummy hurts a lot.”

 

Kyungsoo feels his heart break a little at her words and brushes his thumb over her little hand comfortingly. Naeun doesn’t really have anyone else in her life apart from them - none of these kids do - but since Naeun is so attached to him, it always feels like he failed in taking care of her whenever she gets hurt or sick. "Did you drink your medicine?”

 

She nods, sniffling cutely.

 

"Then it will stop hurting really soon, okay?”

 

"Promise?”

 

"Would I ever lie to you, princess?”

 

She shakes her head. "No.”

 

Kyungsoo sees that she’s trying to get rid of the snot in her nose with his sleeve and stops her, grabbing the box of tissues next to the mattress to help her. He holds it to her nose and waits for her to blow out most of the snot.

 

"I’m thirsty.” She mumbles, her nose red now from the tissue which makes her look really adorable.

 

There’s a jug of water and a cup standing on the table at the end of the room so Kyungsoo gets up to fill it with some water before heading back to give it to her.

 

"Sit up.” He holds her back and helps her drink from the cup without spilling any of the water. "Do you need anything else?” He asks as he tucks her back in her bed.

 

She shakes her head, her eyelids fluttering sleepily. "Are you going to leave?”

 

"I will be downstairs.”

 

"Can you leave the light on?”

 

He smiles and leans in to kiss her forehead. "Sure.”

 

"Will you bake me cupcakes?”

 

Kyungsoo chuckles. "If you promise to get better really fast.”

 

"I promise.”

 

"Alright. Goodnight, little one.”

 

She reaches her arms out and Kyungsoo leans down to give her a hug. "Goodnight. I love you to the moon and back!”

 

Kyungsoo freezes as he pulls back, smiling down at her. "Where did you learn that?”

 

"I saw it in a movie.” She smiles up at him. "I love you the most. I love you to the moon and back, Kyungsoo oppa.”

 

Kyungsoo takes a deep breath, pushes his stupid problems, and fears back for Naeun’s sake when she looks at him expectantly.

 

"Me too, little one.”

 

 

 

Jongin is already sitting at the dinner table when Kyungsoo goes downstairs, Taeil sitting in his lap, looking like he’s about to fall asleep there. Most of the kids are watching TV or are playing in the living room, shouting their greetings at Kyungsoo or coming up to him to hug him. Kyungsoo takes his time to listen to them because they all have so much to tell about the things they learned at school or what they found while they were playing in the garden.

 

"Kids, leave Kyungsoo alone. He has to eat dinner now; you can play with him later.” Seulgi ushers the kids away and kisses Kyungsoo’s cheek with a "hi there, handsome.”

 

Kyungsoo smiles at her but stops once he catches Jongin’s look from the table. There’s a crease between his eyebrows, almost like he’s irritated and Kyungsoo doesn’t know why it makes his chest feel so weird but it does.

 

He doesn’t really understand how anyone could ever get jealous because of him, especially not someone like Jongin but the way Jongin frowns down at his table shows that Seulgi’s words definitely made him feel a little jealous.

 

Kyungsoo sits down next to him, not really knowing what he’s supposed to do when Jongin doesn’t look at him. "She always says things like that.” He tries, clearing his throat as he reaches for the chopsticks.

 

Jongin turns to look at him. "Oh. Yeah, that’s cool.” But he doesn’t look like it’s cool when he tries to eat his food without disturbing the toddler that’s currently napping in his lap.

 

So Kyungsoo just moves his leg and presses his knee against Jongin’s - the way the younger did a while back - almost in reassurance that Kyungsoo honestly is only interested in Jongin.

 

Jongin halts in his movements and a moment later he feels him pressing back, a smile tugging at his lips and Kyungsoo wants to smile too because apparently, it’s really easier for them to communicate without words.

 

"Hey Taeil. Let Jongin eat his food, okay?” Seulgi tries to lift the boy from Jongin’s lap. "You can play with him later.”

 

"N-No.” Taeil pouts, clinging to Jongin’s arm.

 

"Taeil.” Seulgi gives him a stern look.

 

Jongin shakes his head at her. "It’s okay. He can stay.” He’s about to put a piece of chicken into his mouth when Taeil opens his mouth wide, like he was expecting Jongin to feed him. "Are you hungry?”

 

Taeil nods, his little mouth still forming a cute ‘O’.

 

"Taeil.” Seulgi laughs and shakes his head. "You already had dinner. You’ll get a tummy ache if you eat again.”

 

The little boy pouts again and Jongin groans. "I can’t eat when he looks at me like that. I’m sorry.” He quickly pops the meat into Taeil’s mouth who starts munching on it happily, one of his hands playing with Jongin’s hair.

 

Seulgi sighs at Jongin. "You’re really too easy on him.”

 

Kyungsoo smiles to himself and then sees how hungry Jongin seems, half of his meat already gone before Kyungsoo has even touched his own. "Did you eat anything today?”

 

Jongin looks up at him with his mouth stuffed, a look on his face like he just got caught. He nods but Kyungsoo knows he’s lying.

 

He picks up the chicken from his plate and puts it on Jongin’s instead. "Eat that.”

 

"Hyung.” Jongin begins to argue. "You should eat it, you need to gain weight.” His eyes widen when he realizes what he said and he quickly shakes his head. "I just mean Joohyun’s right, you lost weight. You should take better care of yourself. But I think you’re perfect like this too.” And his eyes widen even more, the tips of his ears turning pink. He starts eating again to avoid looking into his face and Kyungsoo - still a little taken aback by his words - catches Seulgi’s eyes from across the table.

 

She’s smiling at him, half teasing and half happy.

 

Kyungsoo clears his throat. "Where’s Soojin?” He asks, not having seen the old woman around tonight.

 

"She’s taking a nap. I don’t think she’s feeling too well.” Seulgi purses her lips. "Why?”

 

Kyungsoo briefly glances at Jongin and finds that the younger is now pushing the food around in his plate almost nervously. "There’s something I want to talk to her about.” He hesitates, feels Jongin’s leg against his own and decides to add, "Jongin and I, we both want to talk to her.”

 

Seulgi raises her eyebrows at them, confusion written on her face. "Well, in that case I’ll go wake her up. You guys finish your food.”

 

Honestly, he doesn’t really know what he expected to happen once they told them about Jongin.

 

But they’re gathered in the living room later, Jongin and him sitting next to each other on the smaller couch while Soojin, Seulgi and Joohyun are sitting on the one on the other side.

 

The kids are all asleep upstairs and when Jongin opens his mouth to talk his voice is shaking and it sounds eerily loud in the old house. Kyungsoo wants to hold his hand but he can’t and he also can’t sit closer to him, so he just stares into Soojin’s face, watches her eyes change while she listens to everything Jongin has to say.

 

They’re confused when Jongin confesses that he’s the son of the family that bought the orphanage. They’re taken aback when he tells them that he just found out that he was adopted. And then, at the end, when he tells them that he used to be an orphan at the Cheonguk orphanage, recognition lights up in her old eyes right before they fill with tears.

 

Joohyun and Seulgi both look like they’re having a hard time making sense of Jongin’s words and when Kyungsoo glances to the side he sees how tight Jongin has clasped his hands together between his knees. He has the urge to hold it but he knows this isn’t the place to do that.

 

"Jongin.” Soojin shakes his head. "Little Jongin who never talked. He got adopted when he was four years old. You’re telling me that’s... you?”

 

Jongin gulps, nodding his head. "Yes.”

 

"Oh my god.” Joohyun whispers, holding her hands to her mouth. "I remember you. I remember there was a little boy who didn’t speak. That’s... that was you?”

 

What follows are endless tears, mostly on the girls’ and Soojin’s part, and they hug Jongin until the boy can’t breathe properly when Jongin tells them that the orphanage is saved, that he will make sure nothing will happen to it, and where Kyungsoo expected him to get really upset and emotional, Jongin is smiling and it almost looks like he’s doing the comforting instead of the other way around.

 

Kyungsoo shows them the picture of him and Jongin when they’re drinking tea a while later. Soojin smiles as she looks at it, brushing away a tear that threatens to escape her eye. "Kyungsoo and you... you two used to be inseparable. You used to follow Kyungsoo around wherever he went, clinging to the hem of his sweater all day.”

 

Jongin shifts next to him, his hands twitching, and Kyungsoo feels his heart thumping wildly as he listens to Soojin’s words.

 

Because Kyungsoo does remember a little boy from his past, he remembers playing with him all the time before he just... disappeared. But how could he have ever known that it was Jongin?

 

"The children used to tease Jongin a lot because he didn’t talk. But you, Kyungsoo, you always protected him and that’s why Jongin never left your side. Our Kyungsoo had a big heart, even then. I have never seen a child your age act so mature and responsible because of a friend. Whenever Jongin cried, Kyungsoo would try to cheer him up by giving him his toys.” Soojin chuckles fondly. "Once a month toys would get dropped off at the orphanage, donations from people, but they were gone so fast because every kid wanted the best toy. I remember one time, Jongin was napping when the toys were dropped off and he was really sad because he didn’t get a single toy. Kyungsoo, you... you gave him all your toys you managed to pick up that day. Can you imagine?” She shakes her head, her eyes turning solemn. "When Jongin left, Kyungsoo turned really quiet. You didn’t play with anyone for a long time and you didn’t let anyone else play with Jongin’s toys. You didn’t let anyone sleep in Jongin’s bed either. I remember how much it broke my heart because I knew Jongin was the only child that was so close to Kyungsoo. You were like brothers.”

 

Kyungsoo gulps heavily. He remembers that too. He remembers a lot of sadness, remembers some grown ups visiting the orphanage a couple of times, always playing with his friend - with Jongin - and he never understood what it all was about. He remembers coming downstairs one day to find Jongin crying as a tall man held him to his chest. He remembers asking where Jongin was going and how they told him that Jongin was going home and Kyungsoo didn’t understand because the orphanage was Jongin’s home.

 

And he remembers the scared look in Jongin’s eyes when he spotted Kyungsoo standing downstairs, almost as if he was pleading Kyungsoo to save him like he always did, but Kyungsoo was only a kid and there was nothing he could do to stop those strangers from taking his friend away.

 

"You sat at the window for hours, waiting for him to come back. We kept telling you that he wasn’t going to come back but it took you a few days to finally realize that we were telling the truth.”

 

Kyungsoo feels Jongin’s eyes on him and it feels like his heart is being squeezed in his chest. Because if what Soojin is telling them is true, it means that Kyungsoo used to like Jongin a lot when they were kids and now, almost twenty years later, he still does.

 

"When was I adopted?” Jongin asks quietly. "I just... I can’t remember almost anything from what you just told me.”

 

"If I’m not completely mistaken, you were four, just about to turn five.” She nods to herself. "Oh Jongin... You didn’t have it very easy here and you were so young. I’m afraid you just suppressed those memories. I can’t speak for your family; I don’t know what they told you, if they helped you forget. But from the things that happened to you at such young age, you only remember the important things very vividly.”

 

"But then why don’t I remember Kyungsoo hyung?”

 

Everyone in the room falls silent, three pairs of eyes focused on Jongin once they make sense of Jongin’s words and at first, Kyungsoo thinks that Jongin just slipped, that he didn’t mean to say that, but then the younger turns his head and looks at Kyungsoo like he’s scared that he’ll get angry at him for saying something like that.

 

But Jongin looks so lost and Kyungsoo isn’t angry at all and they silently look at each other until someone clears their throat.

 

"Maybe because getting separated from him was like a traumatic event for you.” Seulgi suggests, her eyes moving back and forth between the two of them.

 

She knows.

 

"So your mind just... I don’t know, deleted the memories.”

 

"That’s so sad.” Joohyun mumbles.

 

"I remember.” Kyungsoo says, looking at Jongin. "I remember most of it. I can help you remember.”

 

No one has ever looked at Kyungsoo the way Jongin does in that moment, like he’s trying to squeeze Kyungsoo’s heart with how much it twists in his chest, and when the younger’s eyes suddenly look dangerously wet, Kyungsoo finds it hard not to reach over and hold his hand.

 

"Okay.”

 

And somehow, Kyungsoo just knows that everyone in this room knows what Kyungsoo only recently managed to admit to himself.

 

That Jongin makes him feel things he has never felt towards anyone.

 

"Come visit us more often.” Soojin hugs Jongin tightly when they’re about to leave. "You’re a part of our family too. You’re always welcome here.”

 

Kyungsoo looks at the way Jongin smiles at her, how genuinely happy he looks, how handsome his smile is, and it makes his breath falter even though he should be used to it after spending a decent amount of time with the younger.

 

"You never break your promises, do you?” Seulgi suddenly mutters next to him.

 

"What?”

 

"You said you’d help us.” She whispers. "You said you’d save the orphanage. And you did.”

 

Kyungsoo shakes his head, watching Joohyun give Jongin a warm hug. "I didn’t do anything.” He really just created a huge mess, revealing things that weren’t supposed to be revealed, at least not from him.

 

Seulgi sighs and together, they watch how Jongin chuckles at something Joohyun tells him. "It’s like fate brought you two together again.”

 

And this time, Kyungsoo doesn’t deny it, his eyes glued to the crinkles that appear in the corners of Jongin’s eyes when he smiles.

 

"You guys are so obvious.” She chuckles, shaking her head. "He looks at you like you hung the stars for him.”

 

Kyungsoo shakes his head, feeling his face heat up. "That’s not true.”

 

"You look at him the same way.”

 

Kyungsoo turns to look at her then, gulping nervously. "I do?”

 

"You really like him, huh?” And then something strange happens; Seulgi’s eyes fill with tears and Kyungsoo is so surprised because he can’t remember the last time he’s seen the girl cry. He hugs her because it looks like she needs it right now and she rests her head on his shoulder, sniffling quietly. "I’m so proud of you, Soo.”

 

Kyungsoo rubs her back and catches Jongin’s eyes from over her shoulder, and Jongin gives him a timid smile, his eyes so bright, and Kyungsoo can only think one thing in that moment.

 

How much he wants to kiss him.

 

 

 

The ride home is pretty much spent in silence.

 

When Kyungsoo is about to drive the car into the direction of Jongin’s apartment, the younger speaks up.

 

"Can I stay with you tonight?”

 

And because he’s driving, Kyungsoo doesn’t have much time to make a decision and he ends up driving straight ahead, away from where Jongin’s apartment is located. Once he realizes that, his heart nearly stops.

 

"I’m sorry.” Jongin utters, sensing Kyungsoo’s anxiety. "I just. I want to be with you for a little longer.”

 

Kyungsoo nods, gulping heavily. “Okay.”

 

 

 

 

"It isn’t much.” Kyungsoo mumbles as he sticks the keys into the lock of his apartment door. "I’m just... warning you.”

 

His hands are sweating and it’s not even because of the fact that Jongin wants to stay with him tonight. What scares him is that Jongin will see the circumstances that Kyungsoo is living in and, apart from Sehun, no one’s ever seen the state of his apartment.

 

If the girls knew, they wouldn’t accept a single penny from him anymore.

 

Jongin’s reaction is only proof of that.

 

The apartment is ice cold when they step inside, and while Jongin shudders violently, Kyungsoo doesn’t even flinch since he was expecting the chilly air inside.

 

There isn’t much to look at.

 

It’s a living room with a couch and a TV, the kitchen connected to it since he only has two more rooms - the bathroom and his bedroom.

 

There’s not much furniture: no decoration, no pictures. It’s all just really dark and depressing but Kyungsoo grew used to it, not even bothering to look around the four walls any more than necessary after coming here from work.

 

It’s not a home - it never was - so Kyungsoo never bothered to make it look like one. Because there are no people to welcome him, there are no memories attached to this place and there’s nothing keeping him here apart from his job.

 

It’s just a place he sleeps in, where he eats and showers.

 

And honestly, from the outside, it looks like Kyungsoo simply isn’t done unpacking after moving.

 

But he finished unpacking almost three years ago.

 

"I told you.” He mutters, taking in Jongin’s reaction.

 

Jongin looks up at him. "Hyung…”

 

"Do you want tea? I can’t offer much else to warm up. The heater’s broken.” He doesn’t wait for an answer, walks over to where the kettle is and pours fresh water into it before turning it on.

 

He wouldn’t have brought Jongin here on any other night. But he understands that the younger doesn’t want to be alone after what he heard and honestly, Kyungsoo didn’t want him to leave either but he just. He can’t believe Jongin is here, seeing just how miserable Kyungsoo actually is, and he just doesn’t know what to expect.

 

What he doesn’t expect is for Jongin to step up behind him, doesn’t expect the arms wrapping around his middle, the warmth that suddenly surrounds him when Jongin pulls him back against his chest, his forehead resting against Kyungsoo’s nape.

 

"I’m sorry.” Jongin mumbles. "I’m not judging you. I’m just worried about you.” His breath tickles Kyungsoo’s skin, spreading goosebumps across his neck. "It’s so cold here, hyung.”

 

Kyungsoo bites his lip, his hands hanging at his sides uselessly. "You get used to it.”

 

He feels Jongin shake his head. "You take care of everyone else all the time. You need to take care of yourself too.”

 

"I am.” Kyungsoo sighs, watching the water boil in the kettle. "I’m fine. I’ll get the heater fixed.”

 

"No you won’t.” Jongin huffs and Kyungsoo wonders when he started to read Kyungsoo so easily. "I want to take care of you. The way you used to when we were little. Let me pay you back.”

 

Kyungsoo’s nose suddenly starts prickling at Jongin’s words and one of Jongin’s hands moves to hold Kyungsoo’s cold one, intertwining their fingers tightly. "I don’t need help.” He utters weakly, but he sounds like a hypocrite when he shudders against the cold air in his apartment.

 

"Everyone needs help from time to time.” Jongin nuzzles into his shoulder.

 

He can’t even remember the last time he asked someone for help, which is stupid, because as Jongin said, everyone needs help at times so why is it so damn hard for him to admit that he doesn’t even have enough money to fix his broken heater?

 

Kyungsoo keeps his mouth shut, not even realizing that he’s leaning back into Jongin’s chest, like he’s seizing his warmth and scent.

 

They drink the tea in silence mostly, pressed closely together to share some warmth.

 

"I’m freezing.“ Jongin pouts once his mug is empty and Kyungsoo smiles against his chest, his back pressing against the cold counter.

 

"I’m sorry.”

 

"Can we go to bed? I need a blanket.”

 

Kyungsoo leads him to his bedroom, which is just as empty as the rest of the apartment. The bed is loaded with blankets though so that’s good.

 

"I don’t have a spare toothbrush but you can floss and use my mouthwash.” He says, scratching at the back of his neck.

 

"It’s okay. I shouldn’t have invited myself like that.” Jongin purses his lips and he’s slightly shivering and Kyungsoo feels horrible. He hopes the younger won’t get sick since he’s not used to such cold air inside.

 

"No. I’m... I’m glad you’re here.” Kyungsoo says, his cheeks burning after, not used to saying things like that.

 

The smile Jongin gives him is more than worth it though.

 

He gives Jongin a long sleeved shirt to sleep in but none of his sweatpants fit him properly so he ends up wearing nothing underneath, much to Kyungsoo’s dismay, because Jongin’s legs are just as beautiful as the rest of his body.

 

Jongin catches him staring from where he’s already sitting in the bed and a grin spreads on his face, one that just reminds Kyungsoo of just why Jongin is breaking so many hearts without really noticing it.

 

"Come here.” Kyungsoo huffs, lifting the covers and grumbling under his breath when the already toasty air underneath escapes. Jongin slips in quickly, shuddering at the sudden warmth when Kyungsoo makes sure that he’s fully covered with the blanket.

 

He shuffles closer, so close that the tips of their noses almost touch but Kyungsoo doesn’t even mind despite the way his heart starts going crazy again. "This is nice.”

 

"It’s cold.” Kyungsoo grunts and Jongin chuckles, the sound making Kyungsoo feel ridiculously happy.

 

"I mean being here with you hyung.” Jongin tentatively reaches his arm out, wrapping it around Kyungsoo’s back. "You make me feel like everything’s okay.” Kyungsoo hesitates but mimics Jongin’s actions, pulling the younger closer by his waist. He keeps telling himself that it’s okay to touch him, to show him that he doesn’t mind Jongin’s presence here because that’s what people do when they like someone.

 

And he does like Jongin. He likes him a lot.

 

"Do I?”

 

Jongin nods and starts biting at his lower lip, taking a deep breath before he speaks again. "I’m sorry for being one of the people that left you.”

 

"That’s not something you chose, Jongin.” Kyungsoo says.

 

"Does it matter?” Jongin shakes his head. "It’s not fair. That I was the one that got to have a family, that they adopted me when I couldn’t even fucking talk.”

 

"Hey.” Kyungsoo frowns at him. "Stop that. Don’t worry about things that can’t be changed. I don’t need a family. I’m doing okay on my own.”

 

Jongin keeps quiet for a moment, staring into Kyungsoo’s eyes. "You’re not alone anymore. You know that, right?”

 

He knows that Jongin means that they’re together now, that Kyungsoo has Jongin, because the younger reaches a hand out and touches Kyungsoo’s cheek, trailing the tips of his fingers over the cold skin. "I know.”

 

Jongin leans closer, the tips of their noses brushing, and Kyungsoo’s eyes flutter shut before he feels Jongin’s lips press against his own.

 

This is the first time they’re kissing since that night Kyungsoo promised him to stop pushing him away and if anything, the way Jongin is kissing him right now - without any desperation behind their movements - feels even better. Jongin pulls him a little closer and Kyungsoo can’t help but sigh against his lips because he’s so warm and so gentle.

 

"Hyung.” Jongin whispers once they’ve pulled away, and Kyungsoo thinks he shouldn’t like how breathless Jongin sounds from such a short kiss but he can’t really help it. "You do have a family.

 

He nudges Kyungsoo’s cheek with the tip of his nose and Kyungsoo closes his eyes. "What?”

 

"I’ll be your family.”

 

 

x

 

 

 

Kyungsoo drops Jongin off the next day so he can change clothes and most of all, so they don’t show up at work together.

 

Just because Taemin... gave them his blessing doesn’t mean Kyungsoo wants to cause even more of a mess at the office by showing up at Jongin’s side first thing in the morning. He’s pretty sure all hell will break loose as soon as Jongin enters the office today since he’s been missing in action for two days since the incident.

 

Jongin told him he’d show up at work again today, but it’s lunch time and the younger is nowhere to be seen.

 

"Worried about lover boy?” Sehun whispers, noticing the way Kyungsoo is looking up from his food every ten seconds.

 

Before Kyungsoo can tell him to shut up, Baekhyun joins them at their table. "So it’s true?! You guys are fucking now?”

 

"Is that all everyone thinks about?” Kyungsoo grunts and continues eating.

 

"Uhm. I mean, what’s more important than that?” Baekhyun looks clueless when Kyungsoo looks up to glare at him, his cheeks stuffed with food while a chopstick is stuck between his lips. "Oh come on. Don’t tell me you don’t want to bend over for him whenever you see that kid.”

 

Kyungsoo ignores him and keeps eating.

 

"Oh god.” Baekhyun mutters and rolls his eyes. "Okay, I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, father Kyungsoo.”

 

"I will kill you.”

 

Sehun laughs when Baekhyun looks mildly frightened as well as offended. "Jokes aside, are you two... like boyfriends now?”

 

"Is that what they’re saying?” Sehun whispers and Baekhyun nods.

 

"Some even say they saw you two kissing in the parking lot. But I’m not sure if I wanna believe that since you’re such a fucking prude.”

 

Kyungsoo shakes his head. "They’re making things up.”

 

"But you’re together?”

 

"Who’s together?” Chanyeol suddenly sits down beside Baekhyun. "Jongin and Kyungsoo?”

 

"Yup.”

 

"Oh, they are. Jongin told me so.” Chanyeol grins at Kyungsoo, wiggling his eyebrows.

 

"He did?” Kyungsoo blurts.

 

"Oh my god, this is fucking tragic. He doesn’t even know they’re dating.” Sehun groans and sips at his orange juice. "It’s like watching two idiots fall in love in high school.”

 

Everyone suddenly goes quiet in the room, and when Kyungsoo looks up to see why, he sees Jongin standing at the entrance, his heart doing a stupid little jump upon seeing him again. Chanyeol waves his hand to gain his attention and when Jongin walks up to their table, every single head follows and Kyungsoo just feels fed up by their reaction, especially when he sees a few girls pulling out their phones to snap pictures of him.

 

"Hey dude.” Chanyeol greets him when Jongin sits down at their table, greeting everyone with a polite nod of his head.

 

He sits down beside Kyungsoo.

 

And he’s looking at Kyungsoo.

 

And everyone in return is looking at them.

 

Kyungsoo stares at his food, his neck prickling with all the eyes shooting invisible daggers at him.

 

"Hi, hyung.” Jongin says and Kyungsoo knows he’s smiling from the sound of his voice.

 

"Hey.” Kyungsoo quickly looks up and the smile on Jongin’s face grows wider, a little softer when their eyes meet. "What are you doing?”

 

"I want to eat lunch with you. Is that not okay?” His knee brushes Kyungsoo’s under the table and Kyungsoo wonders if that’s going to be regular thing for them.

 

He’s also pretty sure one of the interns is currently snapping a sneaky picture of it and posting it all over the internet.

 

Baekhyun and Chanyeol are grinning at them while Sehun is staring at Jongin intently.

 

"Uhm. If you want.” He’s trying really hard not to smile back, especially when he remembers the things Jongin said last night, how they kissed until they fell asleep, how Jongin wrapped his arms around him when Kyungsoo made him toast this morning.

 

Honestly, it feels too surreal. Kyungsoo doesn’t even know how to act like a normal human being, let alone a normal human being in a relationship and yet he seems to have slipped into one with Jongin without actually realizing.

 

"Aww. He wants to eat lunch with his boo. This is too fucking cute.” Baekhyun coos at them.

 

"Hey.” Sehun suddenly speaks up, nodding his head at Jongin who gives him a confused look. "Since you’re with Kyungsoo hyung now, there are a few things we should talk about.”

 

"Sehun, shut the fuck up.”

 

"First of all, if you ever do anything that will hurt him, I will personally make sure that someone will cut your balls off. I know a guy who does martial arts and he won’t hesitate-”

 

Kyungsoo stuffs a huge piece of bread into Sehun’s mouth, effectively shutting him up. "Eat your lunch and be quiet.”

 

Sehun gags a couple of times before he manages to spit the bread out again, his eyes watering when he looks at Kyungsoo. "This is what I get for looking out for you? What the fuck happened to being a better friend?!”

 

"I love how we all get along so well.”

 

Jongin chuckles and Kyungsoo cracks a smile as well because no matter how Sehun is acting, when no one is looking, he gives Kyungsoo a little smile that shows how happy he is and honestly, Kyungsoo is too.

 

He’s really happy.

 

 

 

Kyungsoo thought that working at the same place as Jongin would be weird, now that things are different between them, but the truth is that he doesn’t see the younger around the office at all since both of them are so busy. And Jongin will be leaving by the end of the month when the project he’s helping Taemin out with comes to an end, and Kyungsoo is silently glad about that as well.

 

He just hopes that people will calm down because right now, most of his co-workers are staring at Kyungsoo like he personally offended their mother or something like that, and it’s so ridiculous because no one really confirmed the rumors of something going on between Jongin and Kyungsoo yet everyone believes it.

 

Kyungsoo enters the bathroom, silently glad that it’s empty because it feels like he’s being followed everywhere he goes today.

 

And then before he can even get into one of the stalls, the door behind him opens again. Someone grabs his arm and starts pushing him into the last stall and really, Kyungsoo is pretty sure whoever it is is about to beat him up for supposedly dating Jongin but then he turns around and finds that it is Jongin who just locked the both of them into a bathroom stall

 

At work.

 

"What are you doing?” Kyungsoo asks with wide eyes. "Someone could see!”

 

"No one will see.” Jongin chuckles and Kyungsoo can’t even be mad at him, not when he smiles at Kyungsoo like that.

 

"Jongin.” He sighs. "What do you want? I have work to do.”

 

"I’m going to talk to my parents.” Jongin suddenly says. "Today, after work.”

 

Kyungsoo opens his mouth and closes it again, anxiety kicking in since he doesn’t know what Jongin means by that. "What are you going to do?”

 

"I thought about it.” Jongin says. "I thought about what you said to me and you were right. I don’t think I can just forgive them for keeping this from me but I just. I can’t handle hurting them. They’re my parents, no matter what.”

 

Kyungsoo nods. "That’s amazing, Jongin. I’m... really proud of you for doing this.”

 

"You helped.” Jongin steps closer, reaching out to take Kyungsoo’s hand. "You make me think a lot more rationally.”

 

"Stop.” Kyungsoo chuckles but Jongin smiles and shakes his head, leaning closer. "Jongin, stop-”

 

"I want to kiss you.” The younger pouts, and Kyungsoo feels his resolve crumbling.

 

"We’re at work. Be rational.”

 

"Just one kiss.”

 

Before Kyungsoo can protest any further, Jongin leans in all the way and presses their lips together tightly, his arms wrapping around Kyungsoo’s waist, pulling them close together.

 

It doesn’t stop at one innocent kiss like Kyungsoo expected. Instead, Jongin’s tongue runs over the seam of his lips and Kyungsoo can’t hold back a moan at the feeling, his hands gripping at Jongin’s hair to pull him down closer.

 

He never thought he’d be so weak and stupid but Jongin’s kisses make him be both of that.

 

"Stop” Kyungsoo breathes between kisses, his heartbeat going crazy. "You said one kiss.”

 

"One more.” Jongin whispers and then he’s kissing him again and suddenly their tongues meet and Kyungsoo’s mind is too far gone to care. Jongin groans and pushes him up against the wall, the sound of their breathing and their lips meeting again and again definitely too loud in the restroom.

 

Jongin’s tongue feels so good and Kyungsoo shudders all over, trying to push Jongin away because this is too much, they’re at work and if someone caught them... Kyungsoo doesn’t even want to think about it. "Stop, Jongin. Stop.”

 

The younger pulls away, smirking against his lips. "You don’t want me to stop.” He kisses him again, slow and deep and Kyungsoo curses under his breath.

 

"Jongin, dude, what the hell is taking you so long?!”

 

They both freeze at the sound of Chanyeol’s voice. Kyungsoo didn’t even hear him enter for god’s sake.

 

He hears Chanyeol walk inside and shit, he will see both their shoes because the door of the stall don’t go all the way down. Kyungsoo just silently sidesteps Jongin and steps on top of the toilet seat so Chanyeol won’t see two pair of shoes if he should look.

 

He buries his face in his hands, shaking his head because what is happening to him? He isn’t one to do reckless things like this.

 

"Can’t I even take a piss in peace?” He hears Jongin ask and suddenly there are hands on his own, tugging them away from his face and Jongin is leaning down despite Kyungsoo shaking his head in warning. Jongin just cups his face in his hands and kisses him, this time short and sweet, like he promised at the beginning and Kyungsoo’s eyes flutter shut on their own accord because kissing Jongin makes his brain go fuzzy.

 

"Just hurry the hell up! The meeting is starting in two minutes and you’re first up and screw me if I’m filling in for you again! Last time I did we lost a fucking client.” Chanyeol continues grumbling to himself.

 

Jongin pulls away and Kyungsoo opens his eyes when their lips separate. He wonders if he looks just as dazed as Jongin does. "I’ll be right there, you go ahead.” Jongin answers absently, smiling at Kyungsoo as he brushes a thumb over his cheek.

 

Kyungsoo half-heartedly glares at him and slaps his hands away, crossing his arms. He must look really stupid, still squatting on the damn toilet like that.

 

"No. I’m waiting right here until you come out. You’re not leaving me hanging again. Come on, I’m even holding the door open for you like you’re a fucking prince or something.” Chanyeol insists.

 

Jongin sighs and acts like he’s zipping up his pants, reaching out to flush the toilet for show. He gives Kyungsoo a questioning look, like he wants to make sure if he upset him, and Kyungsoo just sighs, shaking his head because he isn’t mad at Jongin. He’s mad at himself for being so careless. Jongin leans in and kisses his cheek before finally pulling away and unlocking the door, stepping outside and closing the door behind himself again.

 

"Were you jacking off in there or what?” He hears Chanyeol ask.

 

"Maybe.” Jongin snorts over the sound of water running and Chanyeol just laughs.

 

Once they’re gone, Kyungsoo decides to wait a couple more minutes just to make sure Chanyeol won’t see him exit the bathroom.

 

And if he’s smiling to himself like an idiot, well, no one can prove anything.

 

 

 

That night after work, all Kyungsoo wants to do is go home and sleep because it feels like so much happened in the past few days and Kyungsoo couldn’t really get any sleep because of it. So when he arrives home, he immediately changes into comfortable clothes, ready to call it a day when suddenly, Joohyun calls him, telling him that he needs to come over to the orphanage and she sounds like she’s crying on the phone and nothing could hold him back from going there after that.

 

He’s expecting the worst when he arrives there, but when he steps inside and hears excited squeals from upstairs and is met with Joohyun’s smile, he’s just confused.

 

"You were crying on the phone.” He frowns at her.

 

She shakes her head, taking his hand. "Where’s Jongin?”

 

"He’s busy.” Which isn’t a lie because Jongin is probably talking to his parents right now. Kyungsoo almost forgot about that. "What’s going on?”

 

"See for yourself.” She tugs him upstairs and towards the bedroom of the kids where all the noises are coming from.

 

Kyungsoo steps inside and just... freezes on the spot.

 

Taeil runs towards him excitedly, asking where Jongin is, tugging him to his new bed. "J-Jongin hyung b-bought us b-beds!” He exclaims, pointing at his own bed that has a Captain America shield attached to the headboard.

 

Kyungsoo wordlessly looks at the bed next to it where Naeun used to sleep on the floor on a flimsy mattress. Her bed is blue with stars scattered across it. She waves at him, looking happier than he’s ever seen her.

 

Every kid has a bed of their own.

 

Every bed is different, almost like... like Jongin took his time to talk to all of them and find out what kind of bed they want.

 

Kyungsoo doesn’t know what to do.

 

He feels like laughing and crying at the same time because he knows how much those kids wanted actual beds to sleep on. Who wouldn’t?

 

"He changed our entire bedroom.” Joohyun says, taking his hand again, a smile on her face like she understands what Kyungsoo is feeling.

 

The girls don’t just have their own beds now, but they even have new wardrobes, and new lamps, and a rug on the cold floor.

 

"We didn’t want to accept it when the delivery men came over but they said they were instructed to make sure the furniture was dropped off and assembled at the destination.” Joohyun explains. "I was hoping Jongin would come over today so we could thank him. I don’t know how we could ever thank him enough but just... this is too much. Just look how happy the kids are.”

 

Kyungsoo just nods his head, not knowing what he’s supposed to say. He feels like he’s drowning in a sea of emotions right now and it’s terrifying because he doesn’t know what it is he’s feeling, like he can’t breathe.

 

"Are you okay?”

 

"Yes.” He’s choking up.

 

"Aw. Soo.” Joohyun pulls him into an embrace. "Seulgi was right. You’re so in love with him, aren’t you?”

 

"I’m not.” He huffs, shaking his head as he steps out of her arms. "I’m just being stupid.” He chuckles nervously.

 

Joohyun smiles. "Tell Jongin to come here so I can cook him the dinner of his life, okay?”

 

"I will.”

 

But Joohyun was right.

 

Because as soon as Kyungsoo is in the car he’s reaching for his phone with shaking hands, dialing Jongin’s number, completely forgetting that he might be talking to his parents right now.

 

"Yes?” Jongin picks up after the fourth ring. „Hyung?”

 

"Are you at home?” Kyungsoo asks, trying to focus on the road and on Jongin’s voice and the way his heart is almost beating out of his chest.

 

"Yeah.” Jongin sounds confused. "Is everything okay? You sound weird.”

 

"Are you alone?”

 

"I am... are you okay?”

 

"I’m- can I come over?”

 

"Yeah. Of course. Hyung, tell me, are you okay?”

 

"I’m fine.” Kyungsoo answers. "I’ll be there in a minute.”

 

"Alright. Be careful.” Jongin still sounds confused and Kyungsoo doesn’t blame him because it isn’t like Kyungsoo to call him at all, let alone at this time at night but he just needs to see Jongin right now.

 

He isn’t sure what he wants to do when he stands in front of Jongin’s apartment, he just knows that he’s breathing nervously and that his eyes are burning and he’s pretty sure he’s going to cry if Jongin does something to trigger it.

 

Jongin opens the door and his eyes immediately fill with worry when he sees the state Kyungsoo is in. "What happened?” He asks, tugging Kyungsoo inside.

 

But Kyungsoo just shakes his head, staring at Jongin like he can’t quite believe he’s real. "Why did you... you... Jongin you bought them beds.”

 

It seems to take the younger a moment to realize what Kyungsoo is talking about. "Is that why you’re like this? You’re mad?” He steps closer and takes a hold of Kyungsoo’s hand.

 

"No.” Kyungsoo shakes his head. He doesn’t know why he’s acting like this. "I’m not mad... you don’t understand.”

 

"What do I not understand?”

 

"The kids... they wanted beds. They always just wanted a bed whenever it was their birthday or Christmas. It’s such... such a basic thing to wish for but we never had enough money to buy all of them a bed and we couldn’t just buy one of them a bed. They had to sleep on the floor and got sick because of it so many times and we couldn’t do anything and you just…”

 

"Should I not have?” Jongin asks carefully.

 

Kyungsoo looks up at him and shakes his head because Jongin is too much, everything he says, everything he does, how he looks at Kyungsoo, how he kisses him, how he touches him and knowing that they somehow found each other again after all this... Kyungsoo just doesn’t want to let go of him again.

 

He doesn’t want to see Jongin leave again.

 

He leans up and kisses him, Jongin seems surprised at first but he responds immediately, his hands gripping Kyungsoo’s waist while Kyungsoo pulls him down to kiss him deeper.

 

Kyungsoo opens his mouth and licks Jongin’s lips, shuddering when he feels a moan slip past the younger’s lips at the action. The air around them grows snug and hot and Kyungsoo can’t contain the heat building up in his abdomen when Jongin starts licking into his mouth.

 

Somehow they end up in Jongin’s bedroom but Kyungsoo barely notices, not with how he can’t stop touching Jongin, how Jongin is making those breathy sounds that shoot heat right to his groin.

 

He doesn’t know what he’s doing when he undresses Jongin, revealing his beautiful skin inch by inch, when he presses Jongin into the mattress. He doesn’t know what he’s doing when he kisses Jongin’s smooth skin, his jaw, his neck, sucking marks everywhere with Jongin’s hands wandering over his biceps, his back, stifled moans leaving his sinful lips.

 

"Off.” Jongin whispers, his fingers tugging at Kyungsoo’s tie and Kyungsoo stops kissing his neck to let him do it, only now realizing that he’s still wearing most of his clothes when Jongin is already naked down to his briefs.

 

Jongin looks him in the eyes while he unties it and Kyungsoo feels his stomach plummet because Jongin looks at him like he hung the stars and Kyungsoo - despite his efforts - knows that he must look at Jongin like he’s just as beautiful as those drawings hanging on his walls. Jongin’s knuckles are grazing the heated skin on his chest and Kyungsoo slowly starts realizing that this is actually happening.

 

And Jongin looks absolutely mesmerizing. His skin looks so beautiful and Kyungsoo doesn’t care what people say, Jongin’s skin is kissed by the sun and everyone is just too stupid to see the beauty in it. He looks at his lean arms, his broad shoulders, his tousled hair, his blown pupils, his puffy lips and it all nearly drives Kyungsoo mad with how much he wants to have all of that for himself.

 

Jongin presses kisses into Kyungsoo’s chest, into every patch of skin that gets exposed with every button he opens on his way down.

 

Kyungsoo reaches up to hold Jongin’s hands in his because the younger is taking too much time. He helps him undo the buttons faster and leans down to kiss him so Jongin stops looking at him like that, pressing him down into the bed at the same time.

 

Once the last button comes free, Jongin slides the soft fabric over Kyungsoo’s shoulders and his arms wrap around his back, hands mapping out the skin over his shoulders and Kyungsoo shudders against him because it feels so incredibly good to be touched like that.

 

Jongin pulls him close and Kyungsoo holds himself up with his forearms on either side of Jongin’s head and he feels the younger spread his legs as he lowers his hips, fitting them against Jongin’s.

 

He can’t really look at anything else but Jongin’s eyes, completely mesmerized.

 

Kyungsoo kisses his lips, feels Jongin’s arms wrap around his waist to pull them closer together. They’re both already half hard when Jongin lifts his hips to get some friction. Kyungsoo gives it to him by pressing down in return.

 

He moves their crotches together, his arms shaking when Jongin moans against his lips. "Hyung... do you have anything?” Jongin groans while Kyungsoo ruts against him, feeling both of them grow harder until Kyungsoo is heavy and aching between his legs, his mind dizzy from the heat and want and Jongin.

 

It takes Kyungsoo a moment to make sense of Jongin’s question, his mind too far gone with Jongin’s scent, the feel of his skin, the way he looks. "Fuck... No.” Kyungsoo swears against his lips, cursing himself for throwing away the stash of condoms and the lube that Sehun had hidden underneath his bed for ‘emergencies’. "Don’t you?” He whispers, lips never leaving Jongin’s.

 

Jongin groans. "I ran out.“ He seems to realize what he said when Kyungsoo freezes and shakes his head quickly. "I ran out a long while ago! I just didn’t bother buying anything new because... you know, because of you.” He looks at Kyungsoo like he’s scared he might have ruined the mood but Kyungsoo just smiles down at him and Jongin sighs, relieved, lifting his hips demandingly.

 

Kyungsoo thrusts their erections together faster because it seems to be wrecking Jongin with how he scrunches his eyes shut, quiet moans escaping his lips whenever Kyungsoo presses down against him.

 

Kyungsoo lifts himself up and opens Jongin’s legs wider by pressing his thighs apart and down against the mattress, his cock twitching at the needy moan that leaves Jongin’s lips when Kyungsoo presses him down. Kyungsoo bites down on his tongue because Jongin looks so incredibly beautiful spread out underneath him, for him. He moves his hand to palm Jongin’s cock, starts rubbing it through the fabric and Jongin curses under his breath, his hips rolling into Kyungsoo’s palm and it’s driving Kyungsoo mad, how hard and heavy Jongin is in his hands, the sounds leaving his lips - the fact that Kyungsoo did this to him without even really touching him at all.

 

His own cock is throbbing painfully, twitching every time a beautiful moan leaves Jongin’s lips, and he’s about to reach inside the fabric to finish Jongin off but Jongin seems to have other ideas because suddenly, Jongin slaps his hand away and the next second Kyungsoo’s on his back and Jongin is leaning over him, panting and flushed with dark eyes and red bitten lips.

 

Kyungsoo opens his mouth to argue but Jongin pushes his legs apart and presses their erections together again and the protest dies in his throat, his head falling back against the pillows when Jongin starts grinding against his crotch. "Shit, Jongin....” He groans, the pressure almost painful on his erection. He doesn’t know if it’s because he hasn’t been with anyone for such a long time or if it’s just because this is Jongin, but he’s pretty sure he’s going to come just from this.

 

Jongin leans down and buries his face in Kyungsoo’s neck, moaning against his skin, peppering it with kisses and Kyungsoo wraps an arm around his slender waist, his other hand moving down to to his underwear to slip underneath the fabric and over the swell of his ass. The sound Jongin makes when Kyungsoo grips his cheeks almost drives him over the edge. Jongin moans when Kyungsoo mindlessly slides his fingers between his cheeks, rubbing against his entrance, and a breathless "fuck” escapes his lips as he starts pressing back against his fingers.

 

The pressure in his stomach grows until it’s almost unbearable, until their breathing turns horribly frantic, and Jongin rubs their cocks together faster and faster to the point where Kyungsoo can’t tell if Jongin is pressing down against him or back against the fingers that are pushing against his hole.

 

"Hyung.” Jongin whispers against his neck and Kyungsoo’s eyes nearly roll back in his head, the ache of blood in his cock and the pleasure from the friction against it almost maddening. He pushes his hips up to meet Jongin when the tension in his body gets too much, when the heat in his stomach feels like it’s going to burst. "Fuck, hyung, I’m gonna come.” Jongin whines almost like he’s embarrassed and Kyungsoo doesn’t know why he’s smiling but he is. He pulls Jongin back to look at him and thinks he’s never seen something more breathtaking. "Don’t laugh.” Jongin half moans and half chuckles.

 

Kyungsoo leans up and kisses him. "Come for me.” He mouths against his lips and Jongin’s mouth goes slack, his eyes screwing shut as he lowers his head. Kyungsoo digs his fingers into Jongin’s skin when the younger presses his hips down hard once, twice and then again, stilling as a violent shudder runs through Jongin’s entire body. His hips are stuttering against Kyungsoo’s as he spills into his briefs, and feeling the wetness soaking the fabric, feeling Jongin tremble against him and hearing him moan Kyungsoo’s name so breathlessly drives him over the edge too.

 

His cock pulses heavily as he spurts into his underwear and he’s moaning against Jongin’s hot skin, holding him closer as Jongin grinds against him, panting heavily while they ride out their orgasms.

 

Kyungsoo feels boneless in the moments after, his heart going absolutely crazy in his chest and his thighs trembling from the pleasure that’s still thrumming underneath his skin.

 

He cradles Jongin’s face in his hands and brings him up to kiss him. He kisses him until he feels Jongin’s arms shake beside him, until his lungs hurt from the lack of oxygen.

 

Jongin pulls away and stares down at him, panting softly and then a brilliant smile spreads on his face. "I’ll get you... something to clean up.” He mutters and rolls off of him, leaving Kyungsoo there to stare at the ceiling in a mixture of bliss and shame.

 

Did he honestly just get dry humped until he came into his pants like a teenager?

 

Yes.

 

Yes, he most definitely did.

 

Jongin comes back with a wet towel and something that looks like new underwear. "I haven’t worn these before.” He mumbles as he hands them to Kyungsoo.

 

"Thanks.” Kyungsoo clears his throat and Jongin turns to go clean himself up in the bathroom while Kyungsoo changes his underwear.

 

When Jongin comes back, Kyungsoo holds his breath because the younger looks absolutely ravished with his hair all over the place, his lips red from kissing and his skin still a little flushed.

 

To think that Kyungsoo did that to him is just mind blowing.

 

"Why were these still in original packaging?” Kyungsoo asks, pointing at the briefs he’s wearing. He knows they’re expensive, way too expensive for underwear but it doesn’t surprise him. If he had as much money as Jongin has, he probably wouldn’t care about the price tags of anything he bought.

 

"I get them sent to me all the time.” Jongin explains, sitting down next to him. "I modeled for them once.”

 

"You did?” Kyungsoo can’t help but frown.

 

Jongin stares at him for a moment and starts laughing. "No, hyung. I’m not that good looking.”

 

"I think you are.”

 

"You do?”

 

Kyungsoo nods and Jongin leans in to kiss him again and no matter how many times they’ve already kissed, it still feels like Kyungsoo’s going up in flames when they do, like his skin is drenched in gasoline and Jongin’s lips are the spark of fire.

 

"Honestly, Jongin.” Kyungsoo speaks. "Thank you for doing that. You can’t imagine how happy you made them.”

 

"Don’t thank me. It’s nothing.” Jongin shrugs. "Was Taeil happy about his bed? I couldn’t find an Iron Man one anywhere. I hope he wasn’t too disappointed.”

 

"Are you kidding me?” Kyungsoo chuckles. "You’re like his hero, Jongin. He would be all over it no matter what you gave him. But yes, he was really excited.” He smiles when Jongin actually looks relieved. "He really loves you.”

 

"I love him too.” Jongin smiles. "I just... I want them to be happy. I think the least I can do is use the money I have for good stuff.”

 

Kyungsoo nods his head, trying to ignore the pang of guilt in his chest because he’ll never have as much as Jongin does. He can’t help the kids the way Jongin does.

 

"Hyung, I know what you’re thinking and I want you to stop.” Jongin brushes his thumb over Kyungsoo’s chin. "The kids love you no matter what. And we’re going to do things for the orphanage together from now on, okay? I bought it. We’re going to renovate the entire place, all of us, together. Forget about the money.”

 

"Wait, what did you say? You bought it?”

 

"I didn’t want other people to be in control over what happens to it. This way we can keep an eye on everything that happens with it. I thought... I thought it would put your mind a little more at ease.”

 

"Jongin... but that must’ve cost a fortune.” Kyungsoo shakes his head at him. "You can’t spend all your money on them.”

 

"Isn’t that what you’ve been doing all your life?” Jongin asks gently. "I said I wanted to help you. This is me helping you. You don’t have to do everything on your own.”

 

Kyungsoo sighs and lets Jongin pull him closer. "Hey. Did you talk to your parents?” He asks, only now remembering that.

 

"Yes.”

 

"Why didn’t you tell me?”

 

"I wanted to. But you kind of jumped me as soon as I let you in.” Jongin laughs when Kyungsoo shoots him a glare, pulling him into his embrace again.

 

"What happened?” Kyungsoo’s voice is muffled against Jongin’s bare shoulder and he suddenly feels really sleepy.

 

"I think we’ll be fine.” Jongin sighs. "I might forgive them one day but right now I’m just trying to make things go back to normal.”

 

Kyungsoo hums, feeling relieved about the news. "I’m happy to hear that. How are you feeling?”

 

"I’m feeling good, hyung. Don’t worry.” Jongin turns to kiss Kyungsoo’s temple. "I feel really good with you by my side.”

 

"You’re a sap.”

 

"I’m sorry.”

 

"Don’t be.”

 

"Hyung?”

 

"Hm?”

 

"I really like you, you know?” Jongin mumbles into his ear. "And I just... want you to know that I’m not going to leave you behind again. I promise that.”

 

Kyungsoo can’t help but smile, his heart swelling with affection for the younger. "I like you too.” He wraps his arms around Jongin’s bare shoulders and pulls him closer, closing his eyes as he takes in Jongin’s comforting scent.

 

"Let’s go to sleep.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They sleep in the next day since it’s a Saturday and waking up with Jongin in his arms, the younger snoring softly with his almost naked body tangled in the sheets, definitely is a sight Kyungsoo could get used to.

 

Jongin hums happily when Kyungsoo cards his fingers through his hair, snuggling into Kyungsoo’s chest while mumbling "Hyung” against his skin. He tries to pull away without waking him up but Jongin just wraps his arms around his waist, shaking his head. “Stay a little longer.” He mumbles, pressing soft kisses against Kyungsoo’s shoulder and there’s just no way Kyungsoo could move away from him now.

 

Not with how soft Jongin looks, how nice he smells and how a sleepy smile adorns his face upon realizing that he made Kyungsoo stay with his gentle touches, his hands rubbing over Kyungsoo’s bare back comfortingly as he molds their chests together and continues kissing every patch of skin his lips can reach.

 

“Are you always this clingy in the morning?” Kyungsoo whispers. He might sound annoyed but the way his fingers comb through the younger’s hair and how his eyes are closed from the butterfly kisses pressing against his skin gives away how much he likes this.

 

“Not clingy. Just affectionate.”

 

“I want to make breakfast.”

 

Jongin hums.

 

“Do you have eggs?”

 

“I think so.” Jongin mumbles. “Can you make me french toast?”

 

Kyungsoo chuckles. “If you ask nicely.”

 

At this, Jongin pulls away, blinking his eyes open and squinting when the light seems to hurt him. “Please?” He leans in without warning, pecking Kyungsoo’s lips in such a sweet way that he feels like he’s melting.

 

Yeah, he could definitely get used to this.

 

 

 

When he’s cleaning the table to put the dishes down on it, he spots the drawings that are still on there, the ones that Jongin tore apart a few days ago. Kyungsoo feels sad because they were such nice drawings and Jongin must’ve spent hours on a few of them, so seeing them destroyed like this is really heart breaking.

 

Since it’ll take some time for the rice to cook, Kyungsoo decides to try and fix a couple of the drawings as best as he can. It’s not easy because there’s only so much you can do with a little glue and tape but by the time the rice has cooked Kyungsoo has managed to put together four of the drawings.

 

Kyungsoo puts the rice into bowls and fries some vegetables, and when he turns around to place them on the table, Jongin is standing there, holding one of the drawings in his hands.

 

"Good morning.” Kyungsoo says, placing the plates on the table.

 

Jongin looks up from his drawing. "You didn’t have to do this.”

 

"Uhm. I wanted to. Should I not have?”

 

Jongin just shakes his head and steps closer, cupping Kyungsoo’s face and giving him a kiss that shakes Kyungsoo to the core of his bones. "Thank you.”

 

Kyungsoo gets a text from Joohyun during breakfast, asking them to come over for dinner tonight. "Joohyun asks what your favorite food is.”

 

The younger tilts his head at him, speaking through a mouthful. "Why?”

 

"She wants to cook for you. To say thank you for what you did.”

 

"She doesn’t have to.” Jongin sighs. "But she should know by now that I basically eat anything.”

 

Kyungsoo snorts. "Alright. I’ll tell her that.”

 

Joohyun sends him back a picture of Naeun pouting and making a thumbs down with her hand for giving such a lousy answer which makes him smile brightly because they braided her hair and she looks absolutely adorable.

 

"Why are you smiling?”

 

Kyungsoo turns his phone to show him the picture and Jongin smiles too upon seeing it. "She’s really lucky to have you. You love her a lot.”

 

"I do.”

 

"Please don’t hit me for this.” Jongin mumbles. "But I’ve been thinking, how nice it would be, if we could... I don’t know. Fuck, it didn’t sound as stupid in my head.”

 

"What?” Kyungsoo wants to know.

 

Jongin shrugs. "If we could adopt Naeun and Taeil. I think we’d make good parents.”

 

Kyungsoo looks at Jongin with wide eyes. "You mean us two...?”

 

Jongin nods, suddenly looking really nervous.

 

"But you know that’s not possible.” Kyungsoo says, his heart fluttering just because Jongin thought about them adopting children together.

 

Normally this would scare the shit out of Kyungsoo but he’s so happy today that he doesn’t mind talking about it at all.

 

"I know.” Jongin sighs and shrugs again. "I’m just saying. In a perfect world, you and me would adopt them. And we’d have like, a huge garden and cute puppies and throw lame barbecue parties with our neighbors. We’d be a happy family.”

 

Kyungsoo chuckles. "Yeah, in a perfect world, I think we could.”

 

“I really want to kiss you when you smile like that.” Jongin mumbles.

 

“I’m not stopping you.”

 

Jongin’s leans over the table to press their lips together, both of them not able to stop smiling into the kiss.

 

Kyungsoo doesn’t really need a perfect world.

 

He has his friends, he has the people at the orphanage, the kids.

 

He has Jongin.

 

And that is all he needs to be perfectly happy.

 

 

x

 

 

True to her words, Joohyun has prepared a dinner that has Jongin looking lovestruck upon seeing all the food on the table when they arrive.

 

The night is loud as always but everyone seems so much more at peace without the fear of losing the orphanage lingering at the back of their minds.

 

The kids are completely in love with Jongin.

 

They don’t stop telling him how much they love their beds and Kyungsoo feels his heart swell even more when he sees how Jongin blushes from all the attention on him. Jongin nods his head along when one of the younger boys tells him about his amazing dream that night and he reaches his hand out to hold Kyungsoo’s under the table. Kyungsoo can’t help but smile as he squeezes back and when he catches Seulgi’s eyes from across the table, she just smiles and looks happier than Kyungsoo’s ever seen her look.

 

 

 

 

 

After dinner, they sit in the living room while the kids are watching a movie.

 

The night is filled with laughter and tears because they’re talking about their memories from their time at the orphanage.

 

When Kyungsoo talks, he tells them about Jongin.

 

He tells them what they used to talk about even if Jongin was silent all the time. How Kyungsoo learned to read his eyes. How they used to sleep together in a bed to keep warm.

 

Jongin starts crying and no one says a word when Kyungsoo hugs him.

 

 

Later, when they’re about to go and read stories to the kids, Jongin stops him in the hallway and pulls him into another hug, this one more intimate.

 

“Thank you.” He whispers into his ear.

 

Kyungsoo presses a kiss against his temple, hoping to sooth him. “You okay?”

 

Jongin nods “I am. I’m okay with you.”

 

A few weeks ago, those words would’ve made Kyungsoo cringe, but now they only make him hold the younger closer just to show that no, he isn’t pushing him away any longer.

 

 

 

 

Kyungsoo’s sitting in Naeun’s bed, just having finished reading her a story and he smiles down at the sleeping girl, putting the book away. Her head’s laying on Kyungsoo’s chest as she sleeps peacefully, looking happy and healthy and everything Kyungsoo’s ever wanted for her.

 

He looks up and to his right where Jongin is sitting in Taeil’s bed, the toddler once again clinging to Jongin like a Koala baby would to it’s mother, arms and legs wrapped around him as his little face is snuggled into Jongin’s chest.

 

Kyungsoo smiles because one of Taeil’s hands is in Jongin’s face, his fingers playing with his eyelashes and Jongin still looks mildly disturbed but mostly, he just looks completely fond with the little boy in his arms.

 

Their eyes meet and Kyungsoo holds his breath when Jongin smiles because it’s like watching a beautiful flower bloom.

 

There, in the curl of Jongin’s lips, are a few words that aren’t meant to be said out loud in that moment.

 

And when Kyungsoo smiles back, his heart skipping a beat, there’s a reply that also remains silent.

 

Because Kyungsoo learned to read Jongin’s eyes a long, long time ago.

 

Because sometimes a love like this doesn’t need words.

 

 

 

 x ... ... x