Title: So The Thing Is
Word count: ~8,300
Summary: Moving on doesn’t take time; it takes the right person. Myungsoo’s been stuck in a rut until his manager takes on the perfect project for him—a photoshoot starring the ultra handsome, ultra sexy football star, Lee Howon.
Author's Note: Thanks to my team for being so awesome! It was a lot of fun writing with you guys /coughs especially during the last few days when we were being exceptionally encouraging haha. Love to everyone~ ♥ (Lyric quotes are from Jinyoung/Yoo Sung Eun’s I’m In Love.)
Archery competition. Arctic fox documentary. Some orchestral performance. Then some guy playing a guitar solo.
Myungsoo throws the remote control towards the television, intentionally missing it. The channel gets switched to some football match when the remote control hits the edge of the shelf, then Myungsoo sighs and buries his face in one of the numerous cushions on the couch.
It has been a year and a half since the break-up. Too long for Myungsoo to be still harping on it, too short for his ex-fiancé to be already getting engaged to someone else.
His ex dropped the bomb a week ago (“Please be there, Myungsoo, it’ll mean a lot to me”), inviting Myungsoo to the engagement party in less than a month’s time on Valentine’s Day. Honestly, Myungsoo doesn’t know why he is being invited. Jinyoung isn’t the type of man who’d find pleasure out of another’s misery, so perhaps he just genuinely wanted Myungsoo to share his joy with him.
Still a jerk.
But Myungsoo had said yes to the invitation anyway. So he doesn’t have much of a choice. If he backed out, it would make him look bad.
Now everything reminds Myungsoo of Jinyoung, and Myungsoo hates everything, although he mostly just hates himself. He has turned into exactly the kind of person he despises, and he absolutely hates it.
Then his phone starts ringing. Myungsoo doesn’t budge.
His phone keeps ringing until it stops. Then the cycle repeats for four more times before Myungsoo finally gets up with a groan and reaches forward to grab his phone.
“Kim Myungsoo.” The voice on the other end is flat and emotionless.
“Don’t forget we have a final meeting with the clients tomorrow.”
“No but’s, Myungsoo! It’s time you got out of your apartment, anyway.”
Then the voice softens and continues, “Look, Soo, I know it’s been hard on you. I’ll come by later with dinner, alright?”
Myungsoo opens his mouth to protest.
“And that’s final. Don’t bother arguing.”
“Good. I’ll see you in a bit. Try to stay alive in the meantime.”
Myungsoo spends the rest of his afternoon wallowing in self-pity.
Sunggyu rings the doorbell at around seven in the evening. And he rings it incessantly because it takes Myungsoo all of five minutes to drag himself to the door.
“You look like shit.”
Myungsoo doesn’t even have a rebuttal for that because he knows it’s true.
“To think you were the one out of both of us to be always clean and tidy,” Sunggyu mutters as he looks around Myungsoo’s apartment, which is in a complete mess.
Sunggyu glances at Myungsoo’s forlorn expression and stops, then quietly clears the table before setting the food on it. “Let’s eat.”
Myungsoo has always been really grateful to have Sunggyu in his life. And he feels even more so now, as he watches Sunggyu.
“You’re staring, Soo.”
“Oops?” Myungsoo smiles weakly.
“You missed your chance about five years ago.”
Myungsoo chuckles softly. He did. They did. And Myungsoo often wonders how different his life would be now if they had taken the chance with the relationship back then. Unfortunately, they missed that window, then Myungsoo found Jinyoung, and Sunggyu had gotten attached too. And that was it.
Fortunately, they still remain close as ever, and on top of being Myungsoo’s high school senior, then his best friend, Sunggyu is now Myungsoo’s manager. In a way, Sunggyu is a lot like what Myungsoo is looking for in a relationship. All the time they have spent together have pretty much proved that, but it may also be because of that that they can’t be together.
“So, about tomorrow...”
Myungsoo cocks his head to the side like a puppy.
“We’ll just have to finalize the details and shooting schedule.”
Myungsoo doesn’t even know what this is about, so he looks at Sunggyu blankly.
“Photobook, remember? That super hot football player?”
Oh. Myungsoo remembers now. Sunggyu had brought a stack of magazines to Myungsoo’s place about a month back, and made Myungsoo look at sports personalities in underwear ads. Then he pointed at this really attractive one with a perpetual smirk and told Myungsoo that he was negotiating a deal with his representatives for a photobook shoot.
Two days later, Sunggyu told Myungsoo he got the deal.
Everything was going along fine until Myungsoo got himself into the slump he can’t seem to get out of. So right now, Myungsoo is completely unprepared and uninspired for the upcoming photoshoot. He isn't going to admit that to Sunggyu, even though the man already knows anyway. He can’t even admit it to himself without feeling even more like a complete failure.
“This is important, Soo.” Sunggyu’s soft voice pulls Myungsoo back to reality.
Myungsoo nods. “It’ll be fine tomorrow, hyung.”
“What about you?”
Myungsoo says nothing.
The next morning, Myungsoo wakes up to relentless knocking on his door.
“Kim Myungsoo, open the fucking door!”
Myungsoo tumbles out of his bed in a bid to rush to the door, but there isn’t a need for him to get the door anyway, since Sunggyu had evidently managed to let himself in and is standing by the doorframe, glaring at him.
“Wash up and get dressed. You have exactly five minutes.”
Myungsoo gets done in four, though that means his hair is still sticking out in some parts, and his shirt is clinging to his skin in the areas his towel missed.
Sunggyu’s already waiting for him in his car downstairs.
When Myungsoo gets into the car, Sunggyu helps him to pat his hair into place.
“You seem nervous.”
“There’s no reason to be.”
There really isn’t. Myungsoo’s just nervous because he feels like he is going to screw everything up.
The meeting place is at Myungsoo’s little workshop. It is really an office space, but Myungsoo had set it up to fit a small studio with proper lighting and backdrops. On busy days, Myungsoo can spend nights on end cooped up in the place, sometimes alone, occasionally with a couple of freelance assistants.
Myungsoo isn’t a commercial photographer, he usually works on his own projects. At times, such as this, Sunggyu picks up commercial projects for him. Of course, Sunggyu has his own standards on when and what to sign with for Myungsoo.
So this one with the hot footballer had been a bit of a surprise for Myungsoo.
Sunggyu announces belatedly, once they have arrived in Myungsoo’s workshop, that the proceeds from the photobook will be donated to charity. Myungsoo wonders why Sunggyu didn’t mention this earlier.
But Myungsoo’s mood has visibly lifted as he prepares the studio for the test shoot.
Sunggyu is lounging on the couch going through the documents for the contract, while Myungsoo busies himself with the studio even though there is no use for it now. The dust had accumulated in the time he hadn’t been using it and it bothers him a bit.
Then there’s a buzz on the intercom and Sunggyu hops out of the couch so fast. Myungsoo watches him in interest as he gets the door.
And Myungsoo’s jaw drops. Not literally, he hopes.
Sunggyu’s description of that guy as “that super hot footballer” is indeed accurate.
The underwear ads resurface in Myungsoo’s mind and plant themselves there firmly. Now he has no idea how he is going to have a serious conversation with the man and his manager when he can’t think of anything else but those damn abs.
No, not abs. Those damn ads.
Myungsoo snaps back to reality when he feels Sunggyu’s glare on him. He glances at the older man, who is trying to get him to go over to meet the clients.
“This is Lee Howon and his manager, Jang Dongwoo. And this is Kim Myungsoo.”
Myungsoo shakes hands with the two of them, still desperately attempting to get the underwear ads out of his head.
The few hours ahead are going to be excruciating, especially after the way Howon had given him that brief once-over that was impossible to miss and said “hello” in that deep, sexy voice.
Howon and his manager sit across the table from Myungsoo and Sunggyu, with both the managers doing most of the talking. Hence Myungsoo and Howon just sit there quietly, nodding their approval at appropriate times, while spending he rest of the discussion stealing glances at each other instead.
Perhaps it is more accurate to say that Myungsoo keeps stealing glances at Howon, because Howon very obviously has his eyes on Myungsoo the whole time.
When Sunggyu and Dongwoo are done talking, Myungsoo realizes he has heard nothing at all. He will just have to read through Sunggyu’s notes later, then.
Myungsoo has met his match in Howon. In the department of staring games, that is. Howon’s eyes are so round and bright and they sparkle like those of a deer in headlights. It is almost as if Myungsoo is physically unable to look away.
Two hours later, it is Sunggyu’s articulation of his name that draws him back to reality.
Howon and his manager are leaving, and Myungsoo feels a strange sense of panic even though he knows that he will be meeting them again in two days for the first day of the photoshoot.
Then when Howon is shaking his hand again, he asks, “I need to borrow your washroom. Mind showing me the way?”
They exchange glances for a moment, before Myungsoo nods. “Sure.”
The only washroom in Myungsoo’s workshop is in a corner of his studio, so that’s where Myungsoo leads Howon.
Howon doesn’t enter.
“Want to grab a drink and hang out?”
“Just the two of us.”
So Myungsoo spends the rest of his afternoon trying to convince Sunggyu that he’ll be fine on his own and that Sunggyu can go have a nice dinner with his girlfriend in peace. Due to his hyung’s stubborn personality, it is a huge feat when Sunggyu finally sighs and gives up arguing with him. On top of that, his usually intuitive hyung didn’t even suspect Myungsoo is up to something.
Myungsoo supposes it’s because he’s been neglecting his girlfriend after Myungsoo got the engagement party invitation since Sunggyu feels bad to leave Myungsoo to wilt in his apartment.
To be quite honest, Myungsoo doesn’t really know why he’s so captivated by Howon or why he actually said yes. Perhaps he will find out later.
Howon’s late because he can’t find his way. Myungsoo had been the one to choose their meeting place since it is Howon’s first time in Tokyo.
When Howon shows up, Myungsoo beams despite the cold.
Myungsoo shakes his head. “It’s fine. Shall we?”
Howon nods, and Myungsoo leads the way again, taking him through streets and alleys until they reach a nondescript yakitori place.
“You’ve been in Tokyo for quite some time?”
Myungsoo nods. “About a year and a half.”
“What brought you here?”
Myungsoo halts for a moment, then says quietly, “New beginnings, maybe?” He pushes the door open and steps inside, waiting for Howon to go in after him.
They find a spot in the corner by the glass windows.
“I’m guessing this isn’t the most appropriate topic for a first meeting kind of thing.”
Myungsoo smiles and shrugs. “It could be after a few drinks.”
Between the two of them, they order thirty yakitori sticks, six bottles of beer, and one bottle of sake.
“Won’t your manager yell at you for eating too much?”
“I’ll just work out more, then. Good thing we’re doing the street shoot first instead of the studio one.”
Myungsoo blinks at Howon, not really understanding the correlation between working out and the studio shoot.
“Weren’t you involved in the planning?”
Myungsoo blushes and ends up stuttering. “I wasn’t that much involved in this one due to personal issues... Sunggyu hyung was the one who did everything.”
Howon raises his brows. “That’s interesting.”
“He knows what I can or cannot do, so he usually just makes all the decisions for me anyway.”
Howon nods between sips of his sake.
“What’s the deal with the studio shoot?” Myungsoo asks.
“Well, just me without my clothes, since that’s what the general public likes about me.” Howon shrugs.
“Oh. Right.” Myungsoo has to look down to hide the flush of his cheeks, and curses how his heart starts racing almost immediately. It’s been ages since Myungsoo has been physically attracted to anyone—with the exception of Sunggyu—that he doesn’t know what to do.
“Are you alright?”
“You’ve been staring at your glass wordlessly for the past minute.”
Then a devilish grin finds its way across Howon’s handsome face and it scares Myungsoo. “You have seen that series of underwear ads, I presume.”
Ha. Ha. Ha. How the fuck does one answer a question like this?
It takes every ounce of self-control in his being to remain composed. Myungsoo smiles right back at Howon. “That depends on how relevant it is to this conversation.”
Howon laughs. “It could be relevant, if you want it to be.”
Nope, Myungsoo can’t do this anymore. “Let’s just keep things professional until the shoot is over.”
“I see.” There is a long pause, then Howon continues, “Just so we are clear, that wasn’t what I meant. But it seems to me right now we both want the same things.”
Myungsoo kicks himself then sighs, smiling in resignation. “I have to admit it’s hard not to entertain fantasies of you after those pictures.”
“It’s fine, I get that a lot, just mostly not from the people I want to get that from.”
“What’s your real reason for asking me out for drinks?”
“Do you want the sugarcoated version or the absolute truth?”
“You can give me both.”
“Alright, the sugarcoated version is, I think it’s good to get to know you better since good chemistry produces better results. And you’re hot, so why not?”
“All of the above.”
Myungsoo raises his brows.
“I think you already know.”
Myungsoo shrugs and looks at Howon with his best impression of an innocent kitten.
“Hey, that’s unfair.” Howon grumbles.
Myungsoo smiles angelically.
Howon groans. “I’m staying in a premium suite with this really luxurious bed and fluffy pillows. Do you want to visit?”
Howon stares at Myungsoo blankly, then takes a long swig of his beer with a chagrined expression.
Myungsoo laughs obnoxiously.
They leave the yakitori place when it closes at two in the morning.
“I’ll walk you back.”
“I’ll find my own way.”
But Myungsoo walks with Howon anyway, and the man doesn’t protest.
“So, why Tokyo, of all the places in the world you could have chosen?”
“I guess some part of me didn’t want to be too far away from home despite all the things I want to escape from.”
“Must have been hard.”
“Still is. But at least I’ve got Sunggyu hyung.”
“Is he your...”
Myungsoo chuckles. “I wish.”
“I mean I used to wish. He’s a great guy.”
“Is that part of the inappropriate topic for a first meeting?”
“Far from it!” Myungsoo smiles.
“I’d love to get to know you better, Myungsoo.” Howon suddenly says, earnestly.
Myungsoo glances at him to find him already looking. “I can’t say I feel differently.”
Howon stops, and Myungsoo follows suit.
“Well, my hotel is just right ahead. You sure you don’t want to take a look?”
“Another day, perhaps.” Myungsoo grins. Then he leans forward to kiss Howon’s cheek before he has time to dissuade himself.
Somehow his lips meet with Howon’s lips instead of his cheeks, and Myungsoo is about to jump back in embarrassment when Howon presses his lips back against Myungsoo’s. Howon’s arms find their way around Myungsoo and Myungsoo just melts into him.
This is not what was supposed to happen. Myungsoo had figured the worst that could happen is them working out their obvious physical attraction towards each other, so handjobs, blowjobs, or maybe even sex because if it did come down to that, Myungsoo knows he wouldn’t say no. But this is worse than all of that.
Kissing is a big deal for Myungsoo, because it is his absolute weakness and it involves feelings.
And Howon kissing Myungsoo is stirring up all these feelings inside of him.
It is Howon who pulls away first eventually.
“Come to my place tomorrow.” Myungsoo blurts out.
So Myungsoo once again spends a considerable amount of effort to keep Sunggyu away, though it had been a lot easier than he had expected. Sunggyu probably jumped at the opportunity to spend the day with his girlfriend since it is a Sunday, after all.
Myungsoo, however, did feel a little apologetic towards Howon’s manager.
“Is it alright to abandon him again?”
“He’ll be fine. He says he’ll be exploring Shibuya with my stylist.”
Howon looks around Myungsoo’s apartment.
“Excuse the mess, I already cleaned up as much as I could.”
“Don’t worry, you’re all I have my eyes on anyway.”
Myungsoo blushes. “You might want to tone down a bit. Cheesiness is not my type at all.”
“Oh, you want me to be your type?”
“I so did not say that!” Myungsoo protests, sending a spoon flying in Howon’s direction when he walks into the kitchen.
“But you meant that.” Howon nods, effortlessly catching the spoon.
For a moment, Myungsoo is skeptical about Howon being a footballer.
Howon hands the spoon back to Myungsoo.
“I did not.” Myungsoo turns and fixes Howon with an indignant glare before making Howon hold a bowl of ramen. “Bring that out.”
“I thought you were going to prepare a feast for me.”
“I thought you were less annoying last night!”
Howon laughs as he takes the bowl of ramen to the dining table. “That is how I got you to invite me here.”
Myungsoo narrows his eyes at Howon when he brings another bowl out. “It’s premium ramen, okay.”
“Don’t make me regret this.”
“I’ll try not to.”
“Let me just remind you that we have known each other for a grand total of two days.”
“So am I everything you fantasized I would be?”
“I will throw you out of my apartment.”
But Myungsoo doesn’t, and after ramen they find themselves on the couch.
“It’s kind of weird, isn’t it?” Myungsoo says as he stares at the television screen.
“That we’re sitting on your couch watching a documentary about polar bears when there’re a million other things we could be doing? Yeah, it’s weird.”
Myungsoo looks at Howon dryly.
Howon puts his hands up in mock surrender. “I’m just saying!”
“I mean we basically went from ogling each other to... sitting on my couch watching a documentary about polar bears like it’s the most natural thing to do... in the span of two days. Less than two days.”
“Ah,” Howon nods, “Yes, it is a little unexpected.”
“You sound disappointed.”
“I do not! It’s actually pretty nice, doing this.”
“Well...” Myungsoo looks away from Howon and wrings his hands. “If your offer to visit your hotel room still stands after we finish the photoshoot, then...”
“It’s a deal.” Howon says. “Or...”
“You could show me your room.” Howon shrugs. “I’m not picky about places.”
Myungsoo ignores him and goes back to watching his documentary, while subtly leaning against Howon. He hears Howon chuckle softly, and doesn’t bother hiding his smile either.
Howon actually does resemble a polar bear, Myungsoo thinks, he is strong and he is cuddly too. Not that Myungsoo is cuddling with him, though he seems perfect for cuddling with.
Myungsoo goes rigid for a moment after that thought, and hastily pushes it aside. He doesn’t have the energy or time for this right now.
Howon definitely feels Myungsoo stiffening, Myungsoo is pressed against him so it would take a block of wood to not feel it. But Howon doesn’t say anything. Instead, he wriggles his arm free and puts it around Myungsoo.
Myungsoo sneaks a peek up at Howon and shifts closer to him.
They watch the rest of the documentary in relative silence except for the one time they argue about it’s fun to be a polar bear. For the record, Myungsoo is for the notion and Howon is against it. Howon finally gives up, though he insists that he is merely giving in to Myungsoo since this is his place and Howon doesn’t want to be kicked out.
Myungsoo has a smug smile plastered to his face for the rest of the documentary.
Howon begins to get a little fidgety when the documentary ends and Myungsoo starts channel-surfing.
“Okay, do you want to make out because that’s all I’ve been thinking about for the past however-long and I can’t do this anymore.”
Myungsoo shakes his head.
Howon sighs. “I should’ve made full use of the opportunity when I had it last night, shouldn’t I?”
“So what are we going to do now? I don’t think I can sit through another documentary.” Howon admits.
“How do you feel about video games?”
Myungsoo regrets this wholeheartedly after getting thoroughly thrashed by Howon in almost all the games Myungsoo brings out.
“I thought you were going to be nice to me.” Myungsoo sulks.
“Well, shit, I was trying to go for the ‘impress him with my skills’ route but I guess it backfired, huh?”
Myungsoo sighs dramatically. “At least it’s a lot more fun than playing with Gyu hyung.”
“Maybe I could arrange a gaming session some day and you’ll see.” It occurs to Myungsoo the moment the words have left his lips that it sounds like a promise.
“I’ll be waiting, then.”
The next day both of them go out of their way to pretend to be strangers when they meet at the designated spot. They had agreed to not speak about the time they spent together in case their respective managers had something to say about it. But Myungsoo can tell that Sunggyu, however, isn’t fooled.
Despite all of Myungsoo’s initial worries, he had been in fine form since the shoot started that morning, and Howon might as well have been a professional model for all the front cover worthy poses he had been striking. Sometimes it is hard to find the right mood for photoshoots, even for someone of Myungsoo’s calibre, but Howon has made it so easy that Myungsoo’s really impressed. And deeply grateful for it.
It is when they take a break for a new set of outfit change that Myungsoo gets time alone with Sunggyu, since his assistants have disappeared for a smoking break as well. He can safely say that he had not been looking forward to this when he first saw Sunggyu’s expression this morning.
“So, how’s it?”
Myungsoo is genuinely confused. “How’s what?”
“The sex, obviously.”
Myungsoo’s face reddens so rapidly he feels his cheeks heating up. “You have a low opinion of me, hyung.” He manages to say.
“You’re interested in him on a deeper level, then.” Sunggyu nods seriously.
“Isn’t it a bit too early for that conclusion? We met two days ago.”
“He’s single and eligible, I think it’s not too early for anything.”
“We agreed not to talk about it until this was over, alright.”
“So you talked about it.”
“Hyung!” Myungsoo looks at Sunggyu in frustration. “What are you trying to do?”
Sunggyu merely smiles and pats Myungsoo’s head. “They’re done.” He gestures to the people walking towards them. “Time for the next scene.”
Then Myungsoo is left wondering what Sunggyu is getting at, but even that is soon pushed to the back of his mind as he puts all 100% of his concentration into the shooting.
The shoot ends way earlier than originally scheduled because Myungsoo and Howon had such flawless chemistry working together, and Myungsoo is pleased. But Howon, his manager, and the stylist split after it ends, though not before Howon subtly flashes Myungsoo a smirk which Myungsoo does not understand.
Myungsoo is left alone with Sunggyu again, and he knows that he’s in for a difficult time.
He’s just slurping loudly on his udon when Sunggyu says, “Haven’t seen you so in sync with your subject in a while.” Myungsoo bites on the udon strand to break it, glancing sideways at Sunggyu.
“Did you seriously say yes to this project because you’re trying to matchmake me with Howon?”
“I may have.”
“Hey, when I first started discussions with Dongwoo-ssi you haven’t gotten the news of the bloody engagement yet, so don’t think it’s just because of that.”
Myungsoo stares at his udon. It had been a while back when Sunggyu first mentioned it.
“Anyway, after that shit, I figured this might help.”
“So you decided to help by throwing an attractive man my way.”
“He’s more than just that and I think you definitely know better than I.”
Myungsoo sighs. “Why are you doing this, hyung?”
“If you’re not actively meeting new guys—decent guys—then as your good hyung I can’t just sit here and watch you waste your youth.”
Myungsoo stares dryly at Sunggyu for a moment, then picks up an edamame with his chopsticks and shoves it into Sunggyu’s mouth.
Sunggyu yelps and spits it out, immediately downing an entire glass of beer after that.
Myungsoo snickers and resumes slurping on his udon. His hyung’s hatred of anything related to beans is such an advantage to him sometimes.
Howon’s face drifts back into his mind as Sunggyu’s words eventually sink in. Sunggyu’s right, moping around isn’t going to get Myungsoo anywhere. Meanwhile Jinyoung has moved on ages ago and is doing so well. It shouldn’t take Myungsoo this long.
Howon is interested in him anyway.
“You think I should...”
“I think you should.”
They are in the middle of a shoot when everyone simultaneously decides to take a quick break to warm up their fingers. Howon is visibly taken by surprise when Myungsoo approaches him from the back and leads him away gently by his wrist.
“Are we revising the rule about no making out?” Howon fixes those dark eyes on Myungsoo, complete with the lopsided smile that never fails to get Myungsoo.
Myungsoo stares at Howon, his eyes taking in every inch of how Howon looks. The warmth of Howon’s breath and skin is a stark contrast to his own. Myungsoo lets go of Howon’s wrist.
Howon raises his brows. Myungsoo also hates it when he does that. For some reason it’s ridiculously hot.
“I hope this doesn’t sound bad, but I’d like you to come with me to this party I have to attend because I can’t go alone.”
“Specifically... my ex-fiancé’s engagement party.”
There is a gap of silence, and Myungsoo looks away.
“You want me to be your partner?”
Suddenly Myungsoo’s request sounds absurd even to himself, and his words spill out in a rush. “It’s too much to ask, isn’t it? It’s alright, just pretend I never—”
“Whoa, slow down, Myungsoo.” Howon chuckles softly and reaches for Myungsoo’s hand.
Myungsoo glances at his hand in Howon’s, his heartbeat increasing gradually.
“This is part of your inappropriate discussion topic, isn’t it? I’ll go with you, Myungsoo.”
The truth is, saying that I liked you from the first time we met—it’s quite difficult for me to say
If I fell deeper, I thought that there were only going to be wounds
For the next few days of outdoor shoots, Myungsoo and Howon stop avoiding each other. After the time Myungsoo had pulled Howon away in front of everyone, they might as well have announced that they are dating now, except they are not. Myungsoo also notices that Sunggyu and Dongwoo-ssi seem a little chummy sometimes and they occasionally share smug looks. Myungsoo doesn’t get it but he doesn’t ask.
As the end of the photoshoot draws closer, it means they’re a lot closer to separating, but also nearer to the day of the engagement party.
The last day of the photoshoot begins rather normally, just like the previous days. But Myungsoo is very obviously nervous about it, unlike before.
“What’s got you all jittery?” Sunggyu casually asks while Myungsoo fumbles with the setup in the studio.
“Try that again, cutie.” Sunggyu laughs.
Myungsoo flushes when he realizes Sunggyu knows exactly why. “Shut up, hyung.”
When Howon walks through the doors, Myungsoo looks up and their eyes meet briefly. Myungsoo looks away first but it doesn’t help that much since Howon makes his way over to him.
“Are you nervous?” Howon says in a low voice. Myungsoo doesn’t need to look at his face to know he’s smirking.
“No.” Myungsoo pushes him aside and attempts to go talk to his assistant.
Howon merely smiles. “Don’t forget we have a date.”
“That does not count as a date!”
“Would you prefer we go on one first?”
Myungsoo doesn’t answer but they don’t have time to dwell anymore because Sunggyu starts fussing loudly about the time.
It must be a sin to have such a beautiful man right in front of you when there’s nothing you can do about it. Myungsoo’s throat is dry from just looking at Howon.
Howon, who is lounging on the bench with droplets of water on his face, his chest, his arms... his thighs...
Myungsoo swallows nervously. He shall not think unholy thoughts. He shall not think about how the light is glinting off the perfect beads of water on Howon’s sculpted abs, or how ridiculously hot the way the trail of dark hair disappears into the waistband of the silky red material of the shorts.
Sunggyu clears his throat loudly.
Myungsoo squeezes his eyes shut briefly to suppress his very unholy thoughts, then motions to his assistants to position the reflectors properly before he starts snapping away.
Howon is a fucking sin.
Myungsoo already knows he’s a natural at doing poses. The past few days of street photoshoot had been of a casual and free nature, and Howon owned it with his charming smile and natural stance. But this time, this time Myungsoo is crying internally because now Howon is just seducing the camera—seducing him, with all that lip biting, smirking, and eyebrow cocking.
Everything is coming along just fine, except when the light just isn’t quite right for this one shot Myungsoo really wanted. It wouldn’t have been a problem too, but Myungsoo decides to personally step forward to adjust the reflectors, and then Howon’s hair. And when he steps backwards he misses the wire, gets his foot caught, and falls in the most unglamorous way one can ever fall in front of the attractive man one is trying to get with.
Howon is about to go help Myungsoo up, but Myungsoo yells at him to not move and Howon freezes in place.
So Myungsoo awkwardly gets up and steps carefully back to his spot, yanking his camera back from Sunggyu, who is snickering behind his hand. Myungsoo scowls at him.
At least the shot comes out perfectly after that mishap.
When they break for a change of outfits, Myungsoo notices Sunggyu very obviously grinning at him.
“What?” Myungsoo hisses.
“I’m guessing you’ll be ditching me again tomorrow due to plans.”
Myungsoo flushes the colour of Howon’s shorts and ignores Sunggyu, instead he scrolls through the photos on his MacBook quietly.
Sunggyu laughs obnoxiously.
When they’re finally done, Howon makes a beeline for Myungsoo after coming out of the washroom.
“Does it still hurt?”
“Don’t talk about it.”
Sunggyu snorts and excuses himself.
Myungsoo glowers at him as he walks away.
Howon unceremoniously perches himself on the edge of Myungsoo’s work desk. “Shall we have dinner?”
Myungsoo looks up at Howon, then glances at Sunggyu with Howon’s manager and the assistants.
Howon turns the same way. “Ah. Got it. We can still have supper after. Just the two of us.”
They’re well through their third bottle of sake and countless beers when Myungsoo’s assistants and the stylists leave, so there’s just Myungsoo, Sunggyu, Howon, and his manager Dongwoo.
“So when are you guys heading back to Seoul?” Sunggyu asks as they start on their third bottle of sake.
“The day after,” Dongwoo says, “Otherwise he’ll be behind on training and the coach won’t be pleased.”
Sunggyu nods. “Well, if you need a guide around Tokyo tomorrow, just give me a call.”
“Sounds perfect! Thanks, Sunggyu-ssi.”
And when they go their separate ways, Dongwoo leaves after saying bye to Howon even though Myungsoo’s pretty sure they’re staying at the same hotel.
Sunggyu mouths “have fun” to Myungsoo and winks at him.
At least Howon didn’t notice.
“So...” Myungsoo echoes.
Howon laughs. A deep, husky laugh that sends a rush of butterflies to the pit of Myungsoo’s stomach.
“Why are you laughing?”
“Because you’re cute.”
Myungsoo frowns and nudges Howon.
“But where are we going now?”
“Aren’t we headed to... you know.”
“I was thinking if we could maybe go to your place? I kind of liked it from that time I was there.”
“Well, it’s still in a mess.”
“That’s alright, I won’t see it when the lights are off—”
And Howon is still chuckling after Myungsoo stalks off before he even had a chance to complete his sentence.
“More beers?” Myungsoo calls from the kitchen.
Howon has already made himself comfortable on the couch. “No, I don’t want to kiss you when I’m drunk.”
Myungsoo brings a few bottles of beer out anyway, handing one to Howon, keeps one for himself, and puts the unopened ones on the table.
Howon’s strong arm is around Myungsoo before he realizes, then the footballer pulls him down onto his lap, drawing a soft gasp of surprise from Myungsoo. Howon sets the beer bottle down and takes Myungsoo’s from him.
“The beer can wait. I can’t.”
Then Howon cups the back of Myungsoo’s head, his touch gentle despite how big and strong his hands look, and they’re leaning closer and closer until—Myungsoo’s fingers are on Howon’s lips. Howon raises his brows, clearly confused.
“I thought you wanted this too.”
Myungsoo looks away. “I do.”
Myungsoo shrugs and shakes his head at the same time.
“If you don’t want this to be a thing then it doesn’t have to be.”
But oh, Myungsoo does.
Howon sighs softly when Myungsoo still doesn’t say anything. “I will still go with you to that engagement party.” Then suddenly Howon smiles as he speaks again, and Myungsoo can hear it in his voice and he starts panicking a little. “I guess I’ll get going, then. It’s been... fun.” Howon puts Myungsoo down on the couch and stands.
Myungsoo slips into complete panic mode and he reaches out to grab Howon because that is the only thing he can think of to do. But in his haste, Myungsoo had not managed to catch Howon’s hand. Instead, his fingers are bunched in Howon’s shirt. Myungsoo looks up and Howon’s eyes immediately meet his. “I’m not sure what I want this thing to be,” he says softly.
“That’s fine, I’m not too sure myself either. But I was kind of hoping we can just wait and see where this takes us. We’re obviously attracted to each other right now—”
Myungsoo clears his throat uncomfortably.
“Oh? I’d like to see you deny that when my clothes are on the floor.”
Myungsoo grimaces and belatedly removes his hand from Howon’s shirt.
Howon chuckles, and sits again next to Myungsoo, their thighs lightly touching. “Anyway, my point is,” Howon pauses suddenly.
Myungsoo glances at Howon expectantly.
“I can’t remember where I was going with this speech so let’s just make out.”
Howon grins and Myungsoo smiles back.
“Are you just going to smile at me?”
“I could ask you the same though.”
“Well, you did suggest it.”
“You’re a difficult one.” Howon shakes his head as he cups Myungsoo’s cheeks and finally draws him into a kiss.
Myungsoo is still smiling when his lips meet Howon’s.
Two days later, Myungsoo is packing his bag when Sunggyu knocks on the door. Myungsoo’s too lazy to go get the door so he yells for Sunggyu to just open the door himself to enter.
“How long do you think you’ll be staying there?”
“I honestly just want to get that damn party over and done with.”
“What about Howon?”
Myungsoo tenses for a moment, then continues dumping stuff into his luggage. “What do you mean what about him?”
“You’re still going to the party together, right?”
Myungsoo nods as he tries to pat his clothes flat. “And then I’ll be back here.”
“We could move operations back to Seoul.”
Myungsoo sends a stray sock flying Sunggyu’s way as he grimaces at him. “We’re not discussing about that right now.”
“I’ll still talk about it when you’re back. That’s in about a week.” Sunggyu pats Myungsoo’s shoulder. “So we’ll see in a week.”
Howon looks really happy to see Myungsoo again, except Myungsoo can tell something is bothering him. They kiss briefly when Myungsoo gets into Howon’s black BMW X5 that exudes the same manly charms Howon does.
“I’ve missed you.” Howon confesses.
Myungsoo smiles shyly. “Three days aren’t that long.”
“Long enough for me to miss you this much.”
“Shut up and drive.”
Howon grins and nonchalantly pats Myungsoo’s thigh, leaving his hand there afterward like it’s the most normal thing to do. “Yes, sir.”
Myungsoo glances at Howon, then at his hand. He tentatively moves his hand on top of Howon’s, and Howon instantly flips his hand to lace their fingers together. “What is it?”
“Well, there’s this party I have to go to—”
“That’s my line.”
Howon laughs nervously. “Yeah, but mine’s tomorrow.”
Myungsoo tilts his head.
“My ex is holding a party to flaunt his new boyfriend, basically.”
“And you need arm candy?”
“I like how confident you are in your attractiveness.”
“Please stop calling me that.”
Howon grumbles under his breath and pulls his hand away from Myungsoo’s, sulking.
Myungsoo finds it absolutely adorable. “Well, go on, Howon-ssi.”
“I’m driving. Stop bothering me.”
Myungsoo chuckles and leans back to look at Howon quietly instead.
“Can you not do that?”
“What did I do now?”
“Don’t look at me.”
“I’m not even doing anything!” Myungsoo protests.
“You’re staring right into my soul with those eyes.”
Myungsoo stares blankly at Howon.
Myungsoo smacks his arm then looks straight ahead. “Did your last boyfriend leave you because you say too many stupid things?”
“Did yours leave you because you are too mean?”
“Oh, look who’s talking.”
“You haven’t told me the whole story, you know.”
“We’ve got a week for that. But I don’t have a week for yours.”
“Mine’s simple. He cheated on me with the only son of his club’s owner.”
“Alright, we’re going to that party tomorrow.”
Myungsoo is no stranger to exclusive parties thrown by rich brats, though he may be slightly out of it since he doesn’t have that many social events to attend after moving to Tokyo a year and a half ago. But he’s pretty sure he’s doing his best impression of a rich, charming, handsome, and super eligible boyfriend.
“Be my boyfriend for real, please.” Howon says when they catch a breather from the socializing and stand by the railings at the side of the yacht by themselves. His ex-boyfriend has not shown up yet despite this being his party.
“Maybe when you have more sincerity.”
They smile at each other anyway, and share a soft laugh before Myungsoo pulls on Howon’s jacket and leans forward to kiss him. Howon slips his arms around Myungsoo’s waist and returns the kiss, lips parted.
Myungsoo very reluctantly separates from Howon and looks in the direction of the voice. It’s from the deck above.
Howon looks up. “Hey, Sunwoo.” There is a smile on his face, but the coldness in his voice is unmistakable.
It is the first time Myungsoo has seen Howon like that and it honestly scares him a little.
So Howon’s ex-boyfriend is Cha Sunwoo, football prodigy and extraordinaire, the star of Howon’s rival club. Myungsoo’s heard of him before, but he never thought Howon would be with someone like him. Someone so... frivolous, so wrapped up in himself.
Howon is very much a huge star too, but in the days Myungsoo has spent with him, Howon has been anything but arrogant and narcissistic.
Sunwoo and his new boyfriend—who really seems like a prince—walk down to meet them on the lower deck. Myungsoo has an urge to link his arm with Howon’s and be protective, but he resists the urge, opting to hold Howon’s waist casually instead.
“Why are you hiding here? The party’s not good enough for you?”
“We all know you have the best parties, Sunwoo. Just wanted to enjoy the beautiful view of the sea here.”
“Seems to me the only view you were enjoying is that of your boyfriend’s mouth. Speaking of, aren’t you going to introduce us?”
Myungsoo doesn’t like him. He definitely doesn’t like him.
“Myungsoo, this is Sunwoo. Sunwoo, this is Myungsoo.”
Myungsoo extends his hand with disdain, as if he can’t be bothered at all. “Pleasure.”
Sunwoo looks impressed. “Myungsoo... Asia’s top 10 photographers, yeah? The pleasure’s all mine! You’re doing pretty well, Hoya.” He reaches out to pat Howon’s arm as he smiles smugly. “Oh, this is Chansik, but I believe you already know him, right?”
Myungsoo would love to smack Sunwoo in the face if he could. He doesn’t know if the man is being obnoxious on purpose or if it’s his true nature. How on earth did Howon ever live with this? Meeting Jinyoung is going to be so easy compared to this.
And right now Myungsoo just wants to whisk Howon away because he doesn’t deserve any of this at all. But he can’t, so he settles for a reassuring squeeze of Howon’s waist and subtly presses closer to him while they continue with the conversation, though Howon’s ex is the one who does most of the talking.
When Sunwoo finally leaves because his boyfriend got bored, the first thing Howon says to Myungsoo is “I’m sorry”.
Myungsoo shakes his head and pulls Howon into a light embrace. “How did you even...”
“He didn’t use to be such a jerk.” Howon hugs him back briefly before letting go and leaning against the railing. He sighs, then reaches for Myungsoo’s hand. “Sorry I made you come with me.”
“If I had a choice, I wouldn’t let you go through that alone.”
“Aww.” Howon chuckles softly.
“Hey, I’m being serious here.” Myungsoo squeezes his hand.
Howon doesn’t respond to that. His lips are pursed for a moment before he says, “Let’s go.”
Then Howon releases Myungsoo’s hand and starts walking without waiting for him. It is that moment, exactly, when Myungsoo watches Howon walk away that Myungsoo realizes the feelings Howon has been giving him since the day they first met. The lust at first sight is very real, of course, but that doesn’t take away everything else.
Myungsoo enjoys Howon’s presence. He enjoys how being with Howon makes him feel so warm, comfortable, and most of all, safe. Myungsoo enjoys Howon’s snark. He enjoys when Howon’s being sarcastic and mean, because Myungsoo knows that beneath that sharp tongue and wittiness, Howon’s really just a big, awkward softie.
So some time between the bantering, the name-calling, the kissing, and the late-night talks, Myungsoo already knew what thing he wanted them to have.
And right now Myungsoo knows what he wants.
He follows after Howon, falling into step next to him easily. Then Myungsoo reaches for his hand and grips it tightly. “Let’s go home.”
Howon lets Myungsoo drive without even the slightest bit of objection, and they spend the car ride mostly in silence.
Myungsoo holds Howon’s hand all the way back to Howon’s swanky, upscale loft.
“Sorry I ruined the night.” Howon says from the living room.
“Don’t be stupid.” Myungsoo is having a hard time looking for glasses in the kitchen and ends up too distracted to speak. He eventually gives up and heads out to the living room with fruit beer and a tub of ice cream. “Ta-dah~ Now all we need is to put on a nice movie.”
Howon stares at Myungsoo incredulously. “I don’t recall having any ice cream in the fridge.”
“Luckily for you,” Myungsoo grins and taps Howon’s nose, “I bought it last night.”
“Yes, when you were getting beer, I put it in the cart.”
“What?” Myungsoo laughs and sits all pressed up against Howon on the couch.
“Then go find us a nice movie and come back here.”
So Howon does, and returns to Myungsoo’s side.
Myungsoo leans into him and starts feeding him ice cream as the beginning credits start to roll. He expected Howon to play some action movie or perhaps one of those Oscar-nominated movies with dark themes, but instead Howon put in a romantic comedy.
They finish the ice cream halfway through the show, so Myungsoo makes himself comfortable by hugging Howon’s arm and pressing his cheek against him, his legs stretched out on the other side of the couch.
“You’re so snuggly.” Howon comments as he tries to reach a bottle of fruit beer but is having a hard time because Myungsoo has him pinned there. He finally manages to get one and leans back into Myungsoo.
Myungsoo glances up at Howon. “So the thing is...”
“Ah, the thing.”
Howon huffs and pokes Myungsoo’s forehead.
Myungsoo chuckles. He will always be amused at how Howon gets all pouty when he addresses him formally.
“What is it, Myungsoo-ssi?”
“I think... the thing is... I like you.”
Howon smiles slightly and adjusts Myungsoo’s hair affectionately. “I like you too. But I think we already knew that.”
“That’s the thing.”
“Be more specific, Myungsoo.”
“No, I don’t want to.” Myungsoo releases Howon’s arm and flops to the side of the couch, hugging a cushion instead.
“Myungsoo...” Howon repeats as he slides towards Myungsoo and raises his brows.
Shit. Howon’s brows. Myungsoo’s weakness. He looks away from Howon and covers Howon’s face with his hand.
“Yah, Kim Myungsoo.” Howon grabs Myungsoo’s hand and pulls it away.
Myungsoo widens his eyes at Howon and does his innocent kitten face.
Howon freezes and Myungsoo thinks victory is his. Then suddenly Howon laughs. “Oh, what am I even going to do with you, Kim Myungsoo?”
Victory is Myungsoo’s after all. He’s been waiting the entire night to hear Howon’s laugh. The warm, fuzzy feelings return, and Myungsoo grins, tossing the cushion away to put his arms around Howon’s neck. “I believe there’re a lot of things you could do with me.”
“Is that an invitation, Myungsoo?” Howon wiggles his brows.
“It could be if I was your boyfriend.”
“Then be my boyfriend.”
“Wow. You’re a sneaky one, Myungsoo.”
Myungsoo giggles and pulls Howon down to crash their lips together.
If he can choose one thing, Myungsoo thinks as he wakes up to Howon’s strong arms around him, just one thing that he can have for the rest of his life, it would be this. Myungsoo kisses Howon’s nose lightly, and snuggles closer against his chest.
The person I prayed and hoped for with an earnest heart
I believe that it’s you
“Soo, I’m going to be late.”
Myungsoo whines and flails his arm around, trying to cover up the source of the sound.
“Yah, Kim Myungsoo.”
Then a hand grabs Myungsoo’s wrist and Myungsoo stops moving. “Five minutes.”
Howon sighs loudly. “You’re ruining me.”
“I’m not.” Myungsoo slips his arms around Howon and cuddles close, smiling into the crook of his neck.
Myungsoo has been back in Seoul for two months. He had returned to Tokyo right after his ex’s engagement party to pack his things. Sunggyu was elated to be going back to Seoul, although they had both decided that they will keep Myungsoo’s studio for future works.
Myungsoo’s apartment, though, was a hot discussion topic for about a week because Howon had insisted on keeping it but Myungsoo kept refusing. In the end, Myungsoo won the debate because Howon was weak—to Myungsoo’s wiles—so the apartment was sold. He is going to miss it, though, because it had been his refuge when his life was in shambles.
But at least the engagement party was pretty alright. Of course it was better because Myungsoo had Howon with him, but Myungsoo didn’t have the bitterness about it anymore. Jinyoung had moved on, so now it’s Myungsoo’s turn.
“Soo, your five minutes are up.”
“They’re not.” Myungsoo wails. There ought to be a rule of some sort that said Myungsoo gets to sleep in with Howon every day because these arms are just so hard to leave.
Howon peels Myungsoo off him and ignores the incessant whining. “I’ve already been late for training the past month because of you, I’m not going to be late for the launch of my photobook!”
Myungsoo flops on the bed like a dead fish.
Howon leaves him be and heads to the bathroom.
Myungsoo sulks and drags his feet as he follows after his boyfriend.
Howon’s stepping into the shower just as Myungsoo catches up with him, and needless to say, it’s an open invitation for Myungsoo to join him.
Still a pretty good way to start the day, Myungsoo thinks as he steps right into Howon’s arms just as Howon drawls, “Morning, my baby,” and pulls Myungsoo into a deep kiss.
Yeah, Myungsoo can definitely begin his days like this for the rest of his life.