Seungcheol has a lean frame the last time Jihoon saw the man but then Jihoon was just a young man himself in his late teens and the same goes for his boyfriend who practically takes it to himself to revive the messy hair DBSK had made mainstream, only that a few years later, one specific fan still keeps that hairstyle no matter how tacky it looks. It was thick, messy and uncombed except for the occasional gusts of the salty wind from the southern Busan seas that brushes the turf of black chaos, only then would Seungcheol fix it right back to its original place where each strand is to find its own direction to stand point at.
It was indeed messy and Jihoon hates it, and he makes sure his boyfriend is very much aware of his distaste toward it especially how it doesn’t help to hide the fact how skinny Seungcheol really is, making his head look bigger than it normally should. And boyfriends should find an equal footing on all things, right? A sort of compromise they should work on if they’re to make their relationship grow; Jihoon wants Seungcheol to cut his hair short, thin out the crop even because there’s not enough room for two big-heads in their relationship even if it’s not so much of a relationship for the whole world who only see them together as ‘very close best friends’, best friends who hold hands whenever they go and leave school, best friends who practically lives together in an apartment , and best friends who, behind closed doors, would do things only couples would but yes, if you put your mind into it, Seungcheol is Jihoon’s first best friend and Seungcheol could say the same as well. But that won’t save the older from getting his direly needed haircut.
It’s both figurative and literal when Jihoon says he is a ‘big-head’ because he is! He is too smart, too bright and too advanced for his own good, maybe even for all of Gyeongsangnam-Do* and it’s not only him who says that- in fact, it was the people around him. Oh, and how Jihoon loathed that because they’re not entirely encouraging when they say Jihoon is too much for them, no. It was the other way around, and with his brilliant mind comes the bullying all highschoolers can’t avoid, it just so happened then that the bullied Lee Jihoon has his own personal savior who, no matter how lanky he is, an almost literal definition of skin and bones, would throw himself without a second thought at Jihoon’s oppressors even if he won’t end up winning (and that happens often). Seungcheol would then end up getting saved himself after getting beaten up, limping back home and getting tended by his own boyfriend in distress.
Seungcheol was a gentleman with a very gentle soul, one who would cast himself even into the fires of Hell if he’s asked to if it means of saving a poor stray puppy from dying. He’d even succeed on what Orpheus failed at! The only time he’s not so gentle is when he needs to but that rarely happens.
Choi Seungcheol is Jihoon’s lover- was Jihoon’s lover if he says it honestly and the thought of getting back with him is not in Jihoon’s mind nor would it be there to even slide in for a chance for the next decade again, maybe for the next lifetime knowing how busy Jihoon’s life as Woozi and his name won’t be plastered on almost everything his if not for his ever-busy nature and the one thing Seungcheol can’t live with because if Seungcheol prefers to stay in Busan, no, in Daegu and live the rest of his life full of potential as an ordinary man who’d work day after day to just survive and make kimchi with his family during the winters, Jihoon on the other hand can’t have that!
Jihoon wants more. And Jihoon got what he wanted, without Seungcheol by his side, a known fact he knows for the better (or so he hopes).
As one thing leads to another out of one’s own choice, Jihoon chose and he chose to get on with his dreams, to go to Seoul and go to college, show the world what he’s made of and rise through the ranks of the entertainment industry as a renowned artist and a producer. In ten years’ time, Lee Jihoon is no more, replaced by Woozi of the Woozi Factory and while he lives his life in the splendor of his own achievements, every now and then, there is something that he can’t name just yet that goes popping into his head, a thought, some sort of unrequited idea he can’t seem to figure out what exactly reminding him of some forgotten past he intentionally has no plans on revisiting. That is until he decides to take care of a decade-old frustrations that when let loose, as it turns out, most of his life came unfurling with it.
* * * * *
Scoups has a broader form, a muscular physique what his client can deduce as something out of pure, devoted hard work with the muscles compact and strong. They’re not as shaped, as sculpted as that of LJ’s he keeps a straining schedule to keep as he visits the gym almost every night and spends a great deal of time in it lifting weights, working out and doing all kinds of routines he was told to but unlike him, it felt like Scoups is still stronger than him as if his body tells enough story on how it ended up just like what it is as Scoups laid there on his stomach right next to LJ to catch his breath.
The taller man is covered heavily of sweat, his thick, black locks in a messy haze as some of the curls have intertwined into one another into a heap some of which are sticking on Scoups’ forehead and his nape and for a moment, had LJ to release a heavy sigh of annoyance as he unknowingly reaches a hand forward to brush the other’s hair back in an attempt to help him vent out the heat his body is still burning with after another successful night together.
“Were you born deaf, Scoups?”
It’s not a good topic to start with in pillow talks but that’s just what LJ knows about his Night Companion. It’s either that or how did Scoups get to have a big dick he knows how to use well, that even after a few minutes of them just lying next to one another in their own mess, LJ can still Scoups inside him, so yes. Asking him that question is probably the best LJ can really come up with.
Scoups didn’t mind the question anyway as the man tilts his head back to chase the wandering hand on his head, smiling as he did and in the process, bares one of his dimpled cheeks making LJ smile at himself.
“No, sir. I was in an accident.”
Okay, so much for a conversation with a deaf guy.
Frankly, LJ wasn’t really expecting anything good out of this pillow talk he tries his hardest to initiate with a deaf guy and the worst of all, asked him a personal question he never would’ve expected such an answer but Scoups did answer still and that’s technically progress no matter what angle you look at it.
“I went to Seoul a couple of years back and a motorbike ran over me. I got my leg broken and you know…” Scoups continued before he points a finger at his ear. “…these.”
“Didn’t the guy get caught? He should’ve at least paid for your bills.”
“He took me to the hospital, sure. But he’s not entirely rich and he was running late to deliver something…” Replied the taller man with a nonchalant shrug but LJ can see through him, even behind the mask the sad excuse to look as if what he’s reliving all for his client’s sake isn’t at the very least, painful.
“…So we agreed on the overall coverage of my hospital bills; the steel cast too on my left leg here but the ears? It costs more than his whole family so I just let it go. I figured there’s nothing I could do if I send him to jail anyway and that guy’s kids would’ve starved to death without their father so yeah- that.”
“Well, aren’t you a living saint?”
LJ is a not an avid fan of religion and would only pay a visit to a church whenever he feels like it but never had he thanked the Lord Creator for some misfortune as to how he did as he kept there in his position next to his Night Companion playing with one of the pointed sides of the pillowcase, missing his client’s rather rude comment on his previous hardship. Instead, LJ added and this time, with Scoups turning his attention back to him:
“How did it happen anyway, if you don’t mind me asking- the accident, I mean…”
“I wasn’t paying attention to the road that day, sir.”
* * * * *
As far as ‘stop, look, and listen’ goes to save if not everyone from a potential accident, that kind of thinking befalls to the pedestrian who should be mindful of his surroundings as much as drivers should too with the road so that poor delivery man ramming his motorbike right onto the somewhat dazed young man crossing the road can’t be blamed entirely of the otherwise unwanted accident that befell them both that day.
There was a sharp turn just outside the University where the man is to deliver lunch to some faculty who ordered in and as the delivery man takes his turn, running late to his supposed destination as not to risk the one-hour delivery policy he’ll have to cover for the bill if he gets there late, there dead in the center is a young man whose head is bowed and obviously not in the best of conditions to even notice the speeding vehicle heading his way and so as the flustered driver riding it screaming at the top of his lungs to get out of the way. But did the young man move? He did anyway, he actually flew and he did a good couple of meters from where he stood with only a blink of an eye to spare on what happened.
The last thing Seungcheol remembered then was that he was crossing the street after a quick trip to this university he took a risk on visiting, hopeful and desperate to find someone he shouldn’t have let go so easily. His trip wasn’t in vain apparently and a few days wandering around the capital in search of his previous lover finally had its very first progress when he found a young man with so much resemblance to that of the Lee Jihoon from Busan he loved for the most of his young life, only that this Jihoon is happier, brighter, far more excited and by the looks of it then, is someone who has his life all complete without Seungcheol in it.
Jihoon was smiling. He has his huge headset on he was obviously listening music to as it sits on his now bleached hair, blonde and golden as the Sun, making his way into the premises of the school he is attending and if that’s not promising yet, he was greeted by a group of what Seungcheol can say as Jihoon’s friends. He was happy- Jihoon was happy and why would Seungcheol take that away from him? Seungcheol loves Jihoon and there’s no question there, and that he would love Jihoon no matter what, even if it takes him to cut himself out of the picture he was holding that day he was showing to the Seoul populace as the only reference he has if ever these people had any clue on where a provincial boy is but no, Jihoon is no provincial boy. He was one and Seungcheol is one; there’s a big difference to it. Another big difference would be the span of time where Seungcheol was flung from the sheer impact of the motorbike hitting him, throwing him off the ground and onto the nearby wall he quickly passed out from because the next time he gains consciousness, nine days had already passed.
Seungcheol was in a hospital when he woke up with a terrible headache. He was bedridden with a cast on his leg and that the patient next to him with a similar situation, only his arm was casted, seemed to be making fun of him as he was just moving his mouth and quite enthusiastically at it too.
“Are you saying something? I don’t think I can hear you!” said Seungcheol with the best of his abilities to raise his voice but not to sound too rude at it, his mouth parched and his ears ringing from what he thought would be the medications his body is heavy with.
He can’t hear the young man who’d later he’d find out to be Yoon Jeonghan. What he found out sooner was that apparently, he can’t hear anything at all! Not Jeonghan, not the busy hospital wing, not even himself.
* * * * *
Jeonghan had to make Seungcheol repeat everything he said since his best friend was frantic! His hands were all over the place and with him keeping his mouth shut with good reasons (because a man who can’t hear his own voice also can’t modulate the volume of his as well, simple, and Seungcheol and Jeonghan are at work at the moment where valued customers can hear whatever it is their impaired server is saying).
“Calm down, Cheol! What is it?”
Seungcheol did calm down. He took a deep breath as his chest, so as his wide shoulders rose and fall as evidence of his efforts to cool his system down to restart his deliberate wordless monologue.
And Seungcheol goes back again:
“LJ asked me about my past. Is that alright?”
“Well, depends on what you said. What did you say?” replied Jeonghan who is a far more experienced Night Companion compared to his newbie best friend and Jeonghan knows how strict The House of Carats is regarding security, identity included.
“I didn’t say much. He asked what happened to my ears.” Was the older’s answer, earning him a judging brow from Jeonghan he knows too well to be holding back just yet and it’s next reaction would depend entirely on what Seungcheol would say next so Seungcheol added quickly as to spare them both the tension:
“I just said I was in an accident.”
“Nothing more, I promise.”
Jeonghan shrugged. “Meh- If you say so. Just make sure that’s just about it because I’ll cut your balls off if it isn’t.” and he leaves Seungcheol to his station behind the counter since a nearby customer is calling Jeonghan’s attention for a drink refill.
Seungcheol didn’t say anything more anyway, or at least not the kind of information that would go against company rules and regulations. He did however mention something else and as much as it was meant for a certain kind of clarification Seungcheol’s been carrying ever since the first time he and his client met, he wasn’t expecting to receive a different kind of reward for it! Especially on just being grateful.
* * * * *
A whole month had passed and with each Friday of it (five to be exact), Seungcheol or rather, Scoups finds himself walking along the bricked pathway that will lead him into one of the three high-rising towers he has grown familiar with at that point, to wear his mask once he steps into this designated elevator, ring the doorbell twice and wait patiently for his host, his client to greet him with the same mask on his face. It almost had been a routine for him already without realization to it. Scoups just does what he has to and in turn, gets him paid enough for him to afford what he needs for himself and at the same time, send money to his parents back in Daegu!
He thought that this profession he got himself into won’t sit well with him and maybe it hasn’t yet, but Scoups is a fast learner and he knows that if one can’t sit well, he might as well find a good position and make it work. And he does! Being a Night Companion is not the most noble of jobs, there’s a truth in it, but it is a job to pay the rent nonetheless. All he has to do is to follow whatever LJ tells him to from stripping his clothes off for LJ, touch LJ or let LJ touch him and to answer whatever inquiry his client has he usually receives a good tip right after.
But the most recent meeting they had just a few hours back, Scoups was given an additional tip in the form of a pair of lips he is quite familiar with landing on his left cheek LJ threw a punch directly at before- that was funny as it was painful but getting kissed out of nowhere put the taller man into a sudden speechless stupor he was left with, and to look back at LJ who brushes some of his messy hair back, helping Scoups to look a little less disheveled than he already is.
“You should be more careful, Scoups. Okay?”
“Yes, sir.” Replied Scoups softly. “For you.”
“ –for you too, pabo!*”
“For you, sir LJ!” insisted Scoups however with a soft, light smile slowly forming on his masked face.
“I don’t wanna disappoint my client.”
“Then be careful for me then, Scoups. Be more mindful of your surroundings especially that you can’t…” and LJ makes a hesitant gesture of pointing his own ears to indicate an otherwise obvious fact. “…you know- hear…?”
“I can see though.”
“I know but you should be more car- ”
“Like how pretty your lips are.” Scoups hummed. “ -sir.”
Frankly, that’s not what LJ was expecting from someone- anyone at all! But he’s not alone on that thought because Scoups is sharing the same sentiments as well especially form someone whose words suddenly created a sudden rift between him and his client just a hair-inch away from each other as they kept there on the bed in the dimmed bedroom heavy of that rich scent they both know to be of what being a key-player on making it themselves.
Scoups’ uncalled compliment (or flirting) wasn’t seen coming however, by either really. It was messy, it was amateurish and quite unprofessional between a client and a Night Companion who should keep his mouth shut, at all costs, unless spoken to, and it was something that earned Scoups another kiss.
LJ kissed him on the lips.
“Are they as good as they are pretty, Scoups?”
“Y- yes, sir.”