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This story is under major construction. Previous chapters will be edited and reuploaded before the new chapters are posted! ^-^*

Chapter Text

 Chapter 1.

4/15/2013 Hongbin’ s POV

Panting harshly and thrashing with everything inside of me, I try to release myself from the vice like grip pinning me to the mattress. Too many times….too many times I’ve been in this position; helpless, confused, and hurting at the hands of someone I love. Petrified of someone who’s supposed to love me.

I open my mouth to scream, to cry and beg for mercy but only silence follows. I try bucking off the dark figure looming over me and quickly realize I can’t move a single muscle. It’s as if in addition to the man sitting on top of me, there is an invisible force holding me stagnant; the panic sets in quickly.

I fight harder, trying desperately to move, to yell, to stop what I know is coming. My body is frozen, and I can’t do anything but stare in wide eyed horror as the man lifts his hand, balling into a fist, aiming for my face again.

Again.

AGAIN.

 Faintly I hear him murmuring something, repeating it like a mantra; yet I can’t quite make out what he’s saying through the pain fueled haze. The punches continuously land, over and over each one harder than the last. I feel myself screaming, throat raw with effort; yet I lay soundless and immobile as he continually beats me.

Finally, he stops his assault to lift my body from the bed, shaking me violently and still muttering what I now hear is my name. His words start to cut through the fog, becoming clearer as he clutches my shoulders tightly between his palms.

He’s telling me to wake up.

He says I’m having a nightmare.

He’s begging for me to  

“WAKE THE FUCK UP!!” My eyes fly open. Hakyeon continues shaking and screaming at me.

 

A dream, it had been a terrible dream, a horrible nightmare.

A haunting memory.

 

“I’m up, I’m up. I’m awake,” I wheeze, still feeling panicked and out of breath with the phantom pain of the hits still raining down and lingering across my face. My hands grab at his wrists and the warmth I find there is grounding.

“Jesus Hongbin, you scared me!”

The expression on his face tells me I had, indeed, frightened him. For a moment the room is still, quiet with only the sound of our distraught breathing. Hakyeon releases me to clutch his chest where I imagine his heart is racing just as fast as my own.

Eventually the sharp gasps finally slow to something more controlled, more normal. It slows enough for him to speak first, still hesitant as he asks,

“Was it the one about Ken again?”

 I shake my head not trusting myself to speak just yet. It had been a long, long time since I’d had that particular dream. The worry etched across his face is so clearly visible; I offer him a shaky smile and I try brushing it off as just a random nightmare. I know he doesn’t believe me, he knows I’m lying, but he doesn’t push the matter any further and for that I am grateful.

I slowly turn away from his anxious gaze and pull myself to the side of the bed. Placing my feet on the cold wooden flooring as I stretch my arms above my head, I try desperately to rid myself of the feeling of sleep paralysis.  He asks again if I’m sure I’m okay and again I give him a half-assed smile and a nod. It’s not very reassuring but he accepts it, as always.

“Alright then, come down and eat breakfast when you get done dressing. We have to be at work soon.”                                                                                                 

He lifts himself from the bed and walks out of my room closing the door gently behind him, offering a worried glance over his shoulder before he exits. The guilt I feel behind every lie I feed him sits heavy in my chest, but there are some things I just can’t bring myself to talk about. Even though we’ve been best friends for years now, my father and the things I’ve endured was something I just can’t bear talking about with anyone else. Not again. Having it thrown in my face and used against me had scarred me in more ways than one. Maybe one day I’ll have enough courage to finally tell him what I had gone through, what I had escaped from.

What I survived.

Until then, Hakyeon and I both pretend like there’s nothing wrong. As I go through the daily motions of dressing and preparing for the long day ahead of me, I can’t help but to think about Hakyeon and the events that ultimately led us to where we are now.

2007 

After a long and painful night of sleeplessness, I lay awake with the covers pulled up to my chin seeking comfort in the warmth they provide. My father tiptoes into my room shortly before daybreak; his face is the epitome of sorrow, illuminated by the street light glowing just outside of my window. It’s a face I've long become familiar with.

This is nothing new. He locks himself in his room and drowns his pain in alcohol. After a few blissful moments of peace, something snaps and he goes into one of his drunken fits, an uncontrollable rage composed of cruel words and unabashed violence, and once the buzz wears off he’s here. Apologizing and promising things I knew he’d never be able to deliver.

This night, I thought, was no different.

“I love you so so much Kong-ah,” he always starts his apologies, “I know I do horrible things to you, things you don’t deserve. Things that no parent should EVER do to their own flesh and blood; I can’t…I just can’t explain why I do it. I don’t know why I do it.”

Again, something I already know. In those moments of wrath, he seems to have no recognition of who I am; he truly believes I am here to steal away his beloved, yet again. I am the angel of death and he must protect the only one he has left at all cost.

 I wish I could get him to see that the monster he fears doesn’t exist, that the same evil he’s fighting so hard to defeat is the same love he’s so desperately trying to save. Understanding only dawns on him after it’s too late and the guilt sets in.

Until he forgets again.

 “I’ve decided to get help. There is something wrong with me, adeul. So very wrong.”

I stare at his crumpled form indifferently, hearing these words many times before. I know he’s right.  There is something wrong with my father, something far darker and deeper than grief; the death of my mother only kick- starting it. Still, I reach a trembling hand up to caress his face and lie the same way I’d learned to do at ten years old.

“It’s ok appa, there’s nothing wrong with you. We are just mourning the loss of mom.” I’ve repeated this script so many times over the years I can no longer tell if I’m saying it to comfort him or myself.

 I fight hard to keep myself from flinching as he runs a finger across my bruised cheek and gently pulls me into his embrace. It’s a reaction so deeply integrated into my body, the physical strain of holding it at bay adds another layer of exhaustion to my already worn limbs while never fully containing the slight jolt of fear that runs through my body at his touch.

This night wasn’t like all the others though. My father pulls back from me and looks deep into my eyes, the hurt flashing clearly in his gaze at my poorly hidden wince, and then he cries. Not just a tear filled regret, nor a sorrow filled grievance, no. For the first time since her death, my father cries for the loss of himself as he clings to me again tighter than before.

 It took me years to understand that when my mother died, my father died with her. That the man I had grown up looking up to was no longer present and wouldn’t return for a long while, if ever. The only comfort he could find, laying at the bottom of a bottle. What started as the occasional glass quickly turned into a few nightly shots before rapidly increasing to a full bottle just to help him sleep . That initial violent outburst that followed after the bottle was finished was something that had caught us both by surprise. 

 

Surprisingly, he proves himself serious this time as he checks into an inpatient institution at the hospital. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel at the news of him going away to get help. On one hand my father going away meant I would be left completely alone for the first time in my life with the little money he makes sure to send every week to support myself with. For as abusive as he was while drunk he was equally as attentive while sober, caring for me in ways I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do on my own, even with his money.

On the other hand, everything would be alright now, he will be cured and we can be a family again. I had fought through doubt and disbelief he would actually get help and now that he has, there is nothing left but pride. I was so proud that his love for me finally overshadowed the darkness in his heart, that he loves me just that much, he was willing to force himself get better and fight to be the warmhearted father I remember him to be.

 

 

Two short months after that eventful night I received a phone call from the clinic he had checked himself into. There had been an incident; I was needed at the facility immediately.

 

Treatment hadn’t been going as well as we had hoped .”

 

The doctor’s explanation following immediately after her solemn apology. I sit on the other side of her mahogany desk littered with photos, papers and pens trying to make sense of her words. My eyes find focus on the small potted plant nestled in the corner of the window behind her as she speaks.

 There was nothing they could do; finding him cold, hanging in his room, face purple and swollen.  It was only after receiving his ashes pack neatly in the simple onyx urn did the realization truly dawn on me. He had decided to join my mother in the same way she’d left us.

He’s gone.

He’s really gone, forever.

He left me too.

 

I tried to be understanding and sympathetic. He had tried, fought, and lost to his demons, it wasn’t his fault. The hurt and sadness followed soon after. It wasn’t fair. Why him? Why my sweet mother? Why had any of this happened? What had we done to deserve this cruel twist of fate that ended both of their lives and left me behind?

Somewhere along the way I became angry; irate and furious. Coming from a small family that didn’t have much to begin with, being abandoned left me with nothing. Absolutely nothing.  After my father left me, the money he’d left disappeared just as quickly. I found myself evicted from the only home I’d ever known, the landlord had graciously allowed me to stay as long as he could, taking pity on the boy whose screams could be heard echoing through the empty halls of the entire building late into the night. 

Why me?

Now left completely alone and now homeless, my only possessions were a bag packed with all the necessities I could fit and my father’s urn. Everything else had been left in the apartment to be disposed of later as if it wasn’t the entirety of my life soaked into the very fibers of the furniture, photos and knick knacks that would be sent to the dump without a second thought. I could feel the rage in me building steadily over time every time I looked at my father’s urn.

 It wasn’t long before I accepted the fact that I was truly and completely alone, abandoned; my only refuge being the desolate park that offered shelter during the rain and a bench to sleep on.

 

Salvation came in the form of a man named Ken a week later.

Ken was a handsome stranger who had found me sitting on the ground, staring at the mess I had made late one afternoon after bitterly smashing the simple black urn holding my father’s ashes to the ground in a fit of saddened anguish. After cursing him to hell and back I had lifted the urn high above my head before watching as it crashed and shattered at my feet. The tears I had willfully held back rolled hot and steady down my face and refused to stop even as the stranger sat himself right next to me.

He draped his jacket over my shoulders and asked if I wanted to talk about it. I had snatched the offending material off of me so quickly, my body hadn’t had time to register the warmth it provided.  

Even after my hostile rejection of his jacket and kindness, he insistently sat with me. He had picked the jacket up off of the ground and slung it back over my shoulders wordlessly every time I rudely shrugged it off. Day after day he would come find me in various places around the park with the same unwavering desire to comfort.

After one particularly cold and miserable night I found myself welcoming his warm embrace as I poured my soul to him.  I don’t know what had prompted me to confide in this handsome stranger but once I started talking, I couldn’t stop. It was like the breaking of a levee, the words pouring from my mouth until here was nothing but the sound of my unsteady breaths tearing from my lungs.

 He pulled my shivering body into his arms and allowed me to bury my wet, frozen nose into the column of his neck as he whispered soothing words to me. Once I was able to form a coherent sentence, I ask the question that had been bouncing around in my head since the second time Ken had sat with me despite my silence,

“Why?”

He silently holds me against his body and for a moment I wonder if he hadn't heard me. Before I could ask again, he pulls back,

“Because, you have no else.” his lips follow his answer, gently pressing into my own and warmth flood my entire being.

 

Ken took me in and cared for me that night and thereafter. He gave me clean clothes, hot food and a comfortable bed to sleep in. Over the course of three months, I found myself madly in love with this angelic like man. Ken was six years older than me, having graduated high school only a few years prior, but the age gap didn’t bother either of us. Although I was only fifteen, Ken never treated me like a child. He taught me about the harsh truths of the world, never sugar coating his words. Even when it hurt, I was always grateful for his raw honesty.

I had come to trust him with an intensity I’d  never felt before. It was frightening but exciting. He made me feel special in the way he looked at me, the way he spoke to me, in the way he touched me when he finally made love to me for the first time, taking my innocence and filling me with all the love my heart had been dying for. My life couldn’t have been more perfect. In my eyes, Ken was truly God sent, a real life angel; he was my everything.

 

That is, until he wasn’t.

Until the day turned me to the streets to pay off the debt I owed him for “ saving my life” . The hell I had lived before was nothing compared to the things I went through because of him. Ken showed me just how evil the world really could be…

 

On my sixteenth birthday, I was introduced to Ken’s world.

Nothing major, just weighing and bagging bags of marijuana and the occasional baggie of pills. When he first asked if I wanted to help, I was ecstatic! Of course I knew the business Ken was a part of but the fact that he trusted me enough to help meant he really did see me as an adult and a trustworthy partner. It wasn’t a huge responsibility but I saw it as my chance to prove myself to him.

My enthusiasm paid off and shortly after, I was tasked with delivering the orders.  The customers were easy enough, high school and college kids looking to score for a party, young moms looking for a little pick me up while the kids napped, nothing I couldn’t handle.

By the age of seventeen, I found myself “upgraded” from simply delivering to selling his more premium products. I was tasked with getting customers to try drugs I had never even heard of myself but Ken believed my pretty face would be persuasive enough.

His theory proved to be correct as they all but fell over themselves buying whatever I offered, hoping to please me. I learned quickly that these people were a lot more difficult to handle. Especially when they were tweaked out and got a little too touchy, too aggressive, asking for more than what I was willing to deliver. After I had complained to Ken, he told me that was just part of the job.

 “You’ll get used to it.”

I never did.

 

It wasn’t long before Ken felt that I was too beautiful to keep for himself since receiving multiple offers. I declined immediately. My adamant refusal was met with a nod and a gentle kiss as he asked me to at least think about it.

 There was nothing to think about. I wasn’t desperate enough to sell my body to random people, nor did I need to since Ken was taking such good care of me. I loved him, he was the only person I was willing to share that intimate part of myself with and I couldn’t understand why he was so willing to share me with random strangers. Didn't he love me? 

For a while things were okay, Ken hadn’t brought it up again and I hadn’t given it a second thought. Until Ken found me sprawled across our living room coach late one afternoon asking to talk .

“Why not bean~ah?”

 “Because, I’m not a prostitute”

My voice is harsh even to my own ears. Ken laughs but I fail to find the humor. He’s sitting on the other end of the worn black sofa watching me with a gaze I can’t quite grasp the meaning of. There’s an uncomfortable feeling weighing in the pit of my stomach as he watches me silently, eyes roaming my body. He heaves a sigh before scooting closer to me, resting a gentle hand on my thigh, thumb running over the exposed skin through my distressed jeans. His tone is soft as if he’s trying to placate a startled animal,

“It’s not like that. You’d be more like an escort.”

“And the difference is….”

“Technically, escorts are legal. These clients are paying you for your time and company. There is nothing illegal about paying someone for entertainment. Prostitution, however, is selling sex for money. We are offering so much more than that Bean-ah. I have a hyung who’ll be joining you as soon as he’s healed enough to work so you won’t be alone. ”

He’s still wearing that same smile but it’s doing nothing to ease the frustration simmering through me.

“But I’m still expected to sleep with them.”

It’s not a question but I can’t help the scoff that slips past my lips when he shrugs and nods like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“Listen, I know you don’t have much experience in entertaining but you have the looks that’ll help you for now. When N hyung comes, he’ll help you with everything else. In the meantime I’ll be following along with you. Don’t worry like I said, you won’t be alone. ”

He just didn’t get it. Or he pretended not to. It wasn’t about not knowing what to do or being alone.

“What if I still don’t want to hyung?” My voice comes out barely above a whisper. The finality in Ken’s voice had answered my question before I even asked it. “Will you force me to do it… even if I don’t want to?”

“I’m not forcing you to do anything Hongbin-shii, although it would only be fair after all. The money that you bring in would cover all the time that you’ve stayed with me. You didn’t think all of this was free did you?

The use of my real name made my heart drop as his smile transforms into something closer to a snarl, marring his otherwise beautiful face. The man looking at me right now was not the same man I’d met in the park. Couldn’t be the same man that held me tight and whispered sweet praises in my ear as we climaxed together the night he’d claimed my virginity. This wasn’t my Ken. It couldn’t be.

“I mean you’d probably be dead without me. I saved your life. Don’t you think you owe me for taking such good care of you since daddy offed himself?”

He stares at me for a moment longer before the smile returns at my stunned silence. He stands and pats my cheek with more force than necessary.

“Good chat love. Your first client is tomorrow night at six. Make sure you’re presentable.”                                                          

 

Just like that, without much of a choice, I was thrust into the world of Escort and I hated every second of it. Ken didn’t mind, the money he was racking in clearly more important than any discomforts I had. He was even kind enough to let me keep a portion of the money he made off of my body despite the routine panic attack that ensued before every new appointment.

Once Ken started feeding me pills, fed up with the anxiety and panic attacks, everything became easier for a while. It got even better when the clients would offer to share the premium products I had convinced them to buy even though I had no idea what the trip would be like. At this point I don’t really care, they were all the same anyway.  I was high enough to be able to endure the countless men and women that paid nonsensical amounts for just a piece of my soul.

 Every new body made me feel smaller and smaller, less human, the drugs helping to keep me numb enough to ignore it. The things my father had done to me began to make more sense by the day. I wasn’t a person, I was a warm body to use when you were angry, horny or just flat out lonely. I existed to be used, to make people feel better for just a little while. I was a toy, a doll.

More like a dummy.

 

A month into my new position, Ken introduced me to N hyung .

 “Hakyeon.” the boy had corrected.  He looked to be around the same age as Ken. He was tall and slender with skin a soft golden color and the brightest red hair I'd ever seen. His high cheekbone gives his face a masculine sharpness that counters his beautiful, almost feminine features. What struck me the most were his eyes. The skin under them are dark as if he hadn't slept in weeks, but what stood out the most was the absolute blankness of his gaze. There was no life in the eyes of the man staring back at me. Although he offers me a smile, the emptiness in his eyes was something I felt deep within myself. It was a feeling I was getting reacquainted with.

Defeat

 

 Just as Ken had promised, he had started to accompany me on the outings with various guests. He taught me the art of seduction, how to be the right amount of coy and sexy. How to flutter my eyelashes innocently while running my hand up the clients inner thigh reaching just enough before pulling back giggling in faux embarrassment.

His teaching had paid off, our tips racking in more than they had been when it was just me; yet he’d always let me keep all of it. He wasn’t in much better shape than I was if the track marks and constant sniffles were any indication; yet he had somehow taken on the role of my protector. I couldn’t fathom how he was okay with this line of work but I never built up the courage to ask why someone would willingly do this. The void in his eyes told me I didn’t want to know.

 

By my eighteenth birthday I was fed up with it all and the urge to self-destruct was crippling. Ken had started treating me differently, getting more and more distant by the day, Oftentimes I'd catch him staring at me with a look of disgust before he's walking away. On the rare occasion he would make love to me, he would flip me onto my stomach, not wanting to see my face.

"You used to be so beautiful. Tragic .

He whispers in my ear as he fucks into me hard and relentless. There was nothing gentle about his touch. It hurt, but his words hurt even more. That simple sentence was all it took for my world to completely shatter once again.

 

I had started being reckless, taking on clients without Hakyeon or Ken’s approval, letting them fuck me without protection, taking whatever drugs I could get my hands on. That hatred inside of me had finally boiled over.

 I hated everybody.

I hated for my mother for leaving as early as she did and a renewed hatred my father for going batshit and leaving me afterwards, I hated Ken for seeming like an angel then turning out to be the fucking devil himself, I hated these clients that didn’t seem to understand that I was in fact a human and not an actual fuck toy to be used and disposed of, but most of all I hated Hakyeon.

 I hated him for constantly staring at me as if he was trying to pick apart my entire being. I hated the way he always smiled and talked to me as if I hadn’t just told him to fuck off and leave me alone. I hated how he had effortlessly gotten clean, only still sticking around to look out for me , as if I needed a fucking babysitter.

I hated the way he seemed to be the only person to understand what I was going through, always forcing me to eat and asking if I wanted to talk. I really fucking hated how he held me through a bad trip and held even tighter after a rough client. I absolutely hated how much I had come to need him, even though I hadn’t realized how much I needed him until I overdosed on the night of my birthday.

 

Everything was spinning as I lay wheezing on the bathroom floor. I could feel the sweat seeping through my clothes as my body violently shuddered. I knew what was happening and I welcomed it. I could hear Hakyeon yelling for Jaehwanah when he found me convulsing on the bathroom floor with a belt still tied around my arm and a needle on the floor.

Who is Jaewhan?

 

I must have blacked out because the next thing I could make out was Hakyeon and Ken arguing.

“….so just dump him in the alley. I’m sick of his shit. Its not like he’s bringing in much money anymore anyway. Nobody wants to fuck a skeletal pin cushion.  At this point he’s costing me more than he’s worth. He’s just a drugged out whore, hyung.”

I could hear Hakyeon speaking from above me, feel him gently wiping the foamy vomit from the side of my face and mouth. When had he put my head in his lap? He must have removed the belt as well because I can feel the blood flowing back into my fingertips. His fingers are running shakily through my thin and oily hair and I’m not sure if it’s meant to comfort me or himself.

“I’m not just gonna ditch him like a wounded animal Jaehwan, he’s dying! He needs help! I’m calling an ambulance.”

I could feel N frantically moving around under me, presumably looking for his phone. All movement stops and for a moment I wonder if I’ve blacked out again. I still can’t open my eyes or say anything to let them know I’m awake.

“Yeah,I can’t let you do that. Look hyung, I refuse to risk jail time for this useless little bitch.”

“Are you serious Jaehwan?  A gun? I thought we were friends...”

“Yea yea, we’ve been friends for a long time but the fact remains. I’m not going to jail.  You want to save him so bad then, fine. You take him and you get the fuck out. Don’t come back and please understand, if my name comes up in anything, anything at all, I’ll have no choice but to get rid of you both. Nothing personal. You understand right?”

I hear the smile in his voice and the sound of the gun cocking hits me as Hakyeon shudders and whispers that he understands. It’s not until Kens command for us to get the fuck out of his face that I register N lifting me off of the floor. He half carries me, as I try to force my feet to move, out of the house and into the street where we make the unusually long trip to the emergency room, given my current state. The last thing I remember before blacking out again was Hakyeon apologizing and promising that he’d save me.

 

Four years later and he’d done just that. After I’d been admitted into the hospital, Hakyeon was right by my side. Still I didn’t understand why, but every time I asked, he would brush it off with a simple, “because I care about you,” and change the subject.

He had told me that he enrolled me into a rehab program and once I was released, that I would be living with him from now on. I protested, naturally, at first about how I didn’t need him or his help. Overtime, I stopped lying to myself and allowed myself to get better.

Now we were both clean and still living together.  I still don’t understand why he stuck by me when everyone else left, but words can never explain how thankful I am to have a best friend like Hakyeon.

 

I am snapped out of my memories by Hakyeon calling me down for breakfast, yet again. I quickly finish dressing and head downstairs. Hakyeon is already sitting at the table eating when I enter the kitchen. I can tell by the look in his eyes he’s still worried but he offers me a smile and says nothing. I decide to try and ease his mind by returning his smile with one of my own, this one much more genuine, as I join him in eating breakfast.

I groan thinking about the long work day ahead of us,

 “uuuhhh, I hate working Saturdays. It seems like all the assholes Seoul decide to come out.”

Hakyeon makes a sound of agreement

“Yeah, I’d have to agree. Luckily I’m on kitchen duty all night.”

“Lucky you. I’m serving until Hyuk comes in tonight then I’m on bar duty.”

“Well damn. That does suck. Maybe tonight we won’t be flooded with drunken dickheads for once.”

I highly doubt it though. We have been working at that restaurant long enough for me to know every weekend is the same. During the day, it's a fairly normal upscale restart. Business men having a meeting over lunch. Rich city girls coming in for brunch mimosas and the latest gossip. The occasional jerk complaining about everything, demanding to see the manager hoping for free food. That I could handle.

What I hate the most is the Saturday night crowd. Our high end restaurant transforming into a lounge for the rich and well, asshole-ish. Hakyeon and I needed a few extra hours to fix the leaking roof in our living room, unfortunately this was the only time we could get. The elite and entitled always made me wish I still did drugs, if only to make the time pass more quickly.

I groan again and lower my head to the table. Hakyeon laughs and pats my head,

“There there love. Come on, we still have a few hours before we have to be in, let’s watch a movie or something.”

I get up and follow him to the living room, leaving the dishes, and work related thoughts to deal with later.

Chapter Text

12/20/2001 Leo’s POV

For as long as I can remember, I’ve never known the definition of love nor that of a real family. I don’t know my father as he had disappeared long before I had been born and my mother, my poor mother, has been strung out my entire life. Many times I’d find her passed out on our roach infested living room floor high or drunk; cross faded mostly. As her son it was my responsibility to get her cleaned up, fed and tucked into her bed to sleep it off until the next night. As sick of this routine as I am, I will always help her even though she fights desperately to keep me from touching her.

I have long become accustomed to her hitting me and screaming about how everything was my fault and even though she never elaborated on what exactly everything was, I understood what she meant. She never failed to remind me of how much she loathed me, though I had never done anything personally to displease my mother. She hates me for being me, for having a nearly identical face as the man she wanted to forget or so she had told me during one particularly emotional high. She simply hates me for being born. I knew her anger wasn’t really directed at me but at the man that had stolen her heart, her innocence, and her life; then abandoned her when she needed him the most. I knew deep down, as the person who had carried me inside her womb and had birthed me all by herself, she had to love me, she just couldn’t remember through her drug induced haze.

I understand the pain she must feel when she looks at me, so I take whatever she dishes out. She had never been particularly affectionate, but she cared enough to keep me alive and relatively comfortable. My childhood had been normal in every other aspect, I went to school, had friends and never went to bed hungry. That was until I turned 13 and she demanded I drop out of school and find a job; I obliged without a second thought. 

Two years had passed since then and not much had changed other than me taking on the bills and my mother partying more than she had since she had the extra money.  It was only when her funds ran low that she started selling me to her boyfriends, telling me it was the least I could do after destroying her life.

Again, I oblige.

I lay with these vile men promising myself that she wouldn't let them hurt me and that she would love me if I did this for her. The first night was worse than anything I could've imagined, I begged for her, pleaded to make him stop; she calmly closed the door and pretended not to hear my screams.

Soon enough I became used to using my body to feed her habit and although she still didn't show she loved me, the hatred didn't radiate off of her like it had before so I forced myself to endure it. Sometimes, though, it got to be too much, and the men got too rough and I had to fight my way from under them. Once they left I would sob, crawling to my mother hoping for soothing hands and gentle words but receiving harsh slaps and biting insults instead. Now at the age of fifteen I no longer cried, I no longer sought comfort from my mother. I complied when I could and fought when I couldn’t.

Fighting had become part of my everyday life it seemed.

This night is no different from the rest, my mother passed out on the couch while her new boyfriend snorts something off of the table. I’ve just returned from the grocery store using what little money I’d managed to save after paying all the bills before she spends it all on her drug of choice for the night.

As I move around the kitchen putting the food in its respective place, her boyfriend stumbles into the kitchen, watching me with glassy unfocused eyes. For the longest time he says nothing, just the occasional sniffle reminding me of his presence. I hate him, him and all the other men that come and use my mother and abandon her when they get bored. They’re all the same and he is no different. My body stills at the still open cabinet as he staggers over to where I’m standing.

“Taekwoon,” he slurs, “Taekwoonah~. Ya know, for a boy, you certainly are pretty,” he whispers in my ear, breath pungent as it wafted across my face,

I close my eyes, bracing for what I know is coming, hands balled into fists at my side as he presses his body against my backside. He runs his filthy hands over my body and I let him do it. He starts at my shoulders, running his hands down the length of both my arms before his own circle around me. The man’s nose is pressed into the hair behind my ear, inhaling deeply and signing in satisfaction; I fight not to shiver in his hold. His hands move to my chest, down my abdomen. He fumbles to lift my thin t-shirt, fingers roughly rubbing at my nipples. This time I can't stop the shiver of disgust as he moves gradually to my lower half, dirty fingernails raking over my jean clad hips and thighs as he starts shamelessly rutting against me like a bitch in heat.

“You have such a nice body. Did you know that?" he groans into my ear sounding breathless already. "You have no idea how bad I want to fuck you. The only reason I stuck around your druggie mother was to get to you. Holding you my arms now, I think it was well worth it.”

At the mention of my mother my eyes snapped open and the shaking stops, my entire body pausing, stock still.

“What the hell did you just say?” I asked, turning and pushing him away from me. My voice is void of emotion even to my own ears despite the fury spiking inside of me immediately. “You don’t talk about her like that. Leave. Now.”

He freezes, stunned silent, for a moment before regaining his composer. He laughs, that bastard, cocking his head to the side as he makes his way back to me,

“Oh but it’s true. Everyone knows that she’s just a junkie who’ll let you fuck her beautiful son with the cat like eyes for a quick hit."

The skin around his eyes crinkle, the shit eating grin adorning his face entirely too pleased, as he all but purrs his insults towards my mother. The rage is steadily boiling under my skin, heat licking the back of my neck and warming all the way up to the tips of my ears. My hands tremble for a completely different reason now. 

"She’s pathetic; no one in their right mind would want her. It’s you they come for Taekwoonah. Come on, be a good boy and bend over for me, hmm?” He reaches a hand up and caresses my face and I’m not sure what happens after that; I black out.

Everything is moving so slow yet speeding past faster than I can comprehend. I feel more so than I hear  the screams ripping from my chest as I lunge at him, could feel my fists connecting with his face, repeatedly,  continuing long after he stops trying to fight me off. I feel someone pulling at me trying to get me from on top of the man; yet all I could see was red. The voice in the back of my head screeching for me to keep going, keep hitting, harder, harder.

It isn’t until my mother slaps me hard across the face that I realized she had been begging me to stop. Her face red and wet with tears even though her eyes still looked dazed. She pulls my perched form from the man's chest and on to the floor; I go easily enough as the adrenalin quickly leaves my tense nerves. We all sat on the floor in almost silence, me panting still glaring at the filthy pervert now semi-conscious and wiping at the blood streaming steadily from his nose. I look over to my mother who is still silently crying as she whispers

“Get out,”

She brings a trembling hand to her face, swiping furiously at her eyes and nose “Everybody is right, I’m useless. The only reason they come to me is for my son.”

I open my mouth to tell her it’s not true and ask the man why he isn’t leaving but quickly shut it as she repeats herself, now looking at me,

“I said get out. It’s all your fault. They leave me because of you. No one wants me because of you! Get out."

She pulls me up to my feet and pushes me to the door. "Get out! Don’t ever come back.”

The tear spring forth quickly as I plead with her not to do this. I apologize for things I know I’m not responsible for, I make promises that I know won’t make a difference, I try everything I can think of just so she won’t leave me all alone.

“Where am I supposed to go, what am I supposed to do? Please don't, I need you mother. I love you”

She stops pushing me as we make it to the doorway and for a moment I foolishly think that I’ve finally gotten through to her. She turns to grab a pen and a random piece of paper from the table. It doesn’t take her long to finish writing before she hands me the paper with a name and address written on it.

“It’s time for you to fuck up someone else’s life,” she says pushing me the rest of the way out of the open door, “that’s the best I can do for you”

Before she can shut the door completely I beg her to at least tell me who she’s sending me to and she pauses and answers me with a bitter smirk,

“Your father.”

I stand there rooted to that spot long after the door has been shut and locked feeling completely dazed and bit dumbfounded.

My father?

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

Leo’s Pov

12/21/2001

What the hell just happened? 

This is a joke, it has to be.

This is just another intoxicated stunt and she’s going to open the door soon. Her feelings are hurt and she’s lashing out but she’ll sober up and realize she made a mistake. She’ll kick that filthy bastard out and let me back inside. She won’t hug me or apologize but that’s alright, as long as she just opens the fucking door.

I pace the front yard, back and forth, for what may very well have been hours; waiting for her to call me back inside. I know things between us aren’t exactly normal, not by a long shot, but I am still her son, right? She wouldn’t really throw me out with nothing because of some perverted asshole. She needs me to pay the bills and do the cooking and cleaning. She needs me to take care of her. She needs me to be here.

 

“Does she?”

 

Of course she does!

Mother has no one else so I wait and wait. When the coke-head doesn’t come out and the lights inside the house are flipped off, I know I’ll never step foot inside the only home I’d ever known again. She really didn’t want me anymore, she is choosing him and drugs over me. Dejected, I back away from the house swallowing the sob steadily building in my chest.

I walk aimlessly, mind blank as the wind whips around me. My head swarms with a thousand different thoughts and emotions, making it nearly impossible to settle on anything particular so I continue to wander.

 It’s only when I feel the chill cutting through my body more intensely than it had been before do I realize it’s snowing. The layer of white covering the ground confirms that it had been snowing for a good while. I reach to pull my jacket around my body before I realize that I’m not wearing one. I look down at my body and take in what I’m wearing; an old dingy t-shirt a few sizes too big, faded jeans that have started to fray at the bottom of each leg, house slippers that are now soaked through along with the black socks covering my feet.

Just like that, everything  rushes to the forefront of my mind in vivid detail as the events of tonight catch up with me. My head spins and I stumble, scrambling for purchase, sliding down the nearest building as I try to stop the vertigo claiming my body.

 

It was real.

 

 Everything that had taken place tonight was real. I feel my heart beating rapidly in my chest, threatening to break free from its confines. My breaths comes out in short pants as the tears finally make their way down my face. Once they start, I feel like tears will never end.

The only parent I’d ever known had pushed me away. She didn’t want me. I knew she didn’t particularly like me but I had thought she, at the very least, loved me enough to never leave me. Why doesn’t she love me? How could she abandon me?

Why me?

“Because you’re nothing.”

Those words echo in my head as the sobs that I fought so hard to keep down rips from my chest and into the freezing night air. My quiet weeping turns into full out bawling the simple question still ringing in my head.

Why me?

“Because you deserve it. You’re filth; you don’t deserve to be loved. This is all your fault.”

  My head snaps up and I look around, finding myself nearly alone. The voice that had spoken to me had sounded as if someone was sitting right next to me. All that I find is the snow covered sidewalk. There are people passing by, huddled deep in the warmth of their coats, walking quickly to escape the cold.

 

 

I wipe at the tears still falling from my eyes and pull myself up. Sitting here crying will get me nowhere and the temperature feels like it’s dropped well below freezing. I know I can’t stay out here for much longer so I pull the crumpled piece of paper from the pocket of my jeans and read the address written on it.

193 Widow Peak Ln. Jung Woosung.

 My father?

I have no idea where the hell Widow Peak is. I check my other pockets hoping for cab fare; I have nothing.  With no money and nowhere to go, I feel the tears welling up again.

I began walking aimlessly again, staring at the ground and willing it to open up and swallow me whole. Lost in my miserable thoughts, I don’t notice the man stepping out of one the stores. Walking straight into him, I look up and apologize and began walking away. The stranger stands there for a moment before running up after me and placing his hand on my shoulder.

“Are you alright? You look like you’re freezing.”

I shake my head shrugging his hand away before I continue walking until he catches up to me again.

“Hey, you seriously look like you're about to pass out. Can I give you a ride somewhere?”

I stop, taking in the man’s face. He’s young, probably early 20’s, and has a kind smile adorning his face. He’s quite attractive, if I’m being honest. His hair is a little longer than my own but just as dark. His coat is a light beige color and is long enough to be nearly touching the ground. It looks expensive and warm. A shiver runs through my body as if to remind me of what I’m wearing.

“My name is Kiseop.”

He offers a gentle smile and extends his hand for me to shake. I tentatively introduces myself as I clasp his hand. His skin is smooth and warm against my palm.

“Leo.”

“Oh my God you are freezing.” He pulls my hand closer to him, clenching tighter; chastising me as he looks at me with worry shining clear in his eyes,   

“Come on. My car is right over there, and it’s already warm. Even if you don’t want a ride you should at least warm up for a bit.”

The cold settles painful and deep in my bones; and I’m reminded yet again how underdressed I am for the weather. I nod, accepting his offer. The trek to his vehicle is spent in silence but I don’t mind. Once we reach the black truck running on the other side of the street he opens the door for me and allows me to slide in. As soon as he closes my door I reach for the handle and open the door slightly, making sure I would be able to if I needed to. I pull it shut as he gets in, he chuckles but says nothing. I watch him, my hand still on the door’s latch, as he turns on the seat warmer and turns up the heat for me.

 We sit in silence for a while before he asks if I have a place I wanted a ride to. I hesitantly show him the slip of paper my mother had given me. He takes the paper and reads the address before his eyes go wide.  He lets out a whistle and comments on how most rich kids don’t run away this far from home.

“Do I look like a rich runaway kid?”

“Well, not exactly but this neighborhood is exclusive to the wealthiest in Korea. Not to brag but,I actually live nearby. This street in particular is known for housing one of the most influential families. The entire area is owned by the Jung family.”

Jung?

Hearing my surname spoken in the same breath of wealthy sends me into a shocked silence. Was this man truly the father that abandoned us when I was just an infant? Is that why he left? Am I the illegitimate bastard son of some rich business man? 

Kiseop watches me in silence for a moment before telling me to buckle up as he shifts the car into drive. “We have a long ride ahead of us.”

 

 

 As we drive further from the city, my grip on the door latch never loosens. Kiseop seems to notice my discomfort so he tries his best to fill in the silence with random stories and information about himself. I learn that he’s 26 and has recently taken over his late mother’s cosmetic company. He seems genuinely baffled if not slightly offended when I tell him I’ve never heard of Amorepacific .

“How could you have never heard of it? It’s literally sold at every beauty store in the country.”

I can’t help the scoff that leaves my mouth as I gesture to my overall appearance once again.

“Right because I’m clearly a regular customer of all those fancy ass shops.”

He barks out a laugh and drops it with a promise giving all the free samples in the trunk. I find myself feeling a bit more comfortable riding with him after a while. Finally I allow myself to find comfort in the heat of the car and the calmness his voice provides as my mind slows and focuses on the tall buildings slowly fading from sight.

He starts off asking me simple questions such as, is my real name Leo, how old I am, rather or not I’m still a student.  I knew the question would come eventually but I’m still unprepared when he finally asks why I was walking around after midnight, crying alone in the snow.

I don’t know how much would be socially acceptable to tell a stranger but I needed to talk to someone. Saying it out loud would help me fully accept what took place mere hours ago. I told him about the events leading up to me being kicked out and being forced to find a man that is supposed to be my father. Someone I wasn’t even sure was actually my father, and if he was would he even accept me? He listens quietly but places his hand on my thigh to comfort me when the tears start their trek down my cheeks again. Kiseop is quick to reassure me that everything would work out the way it's supposed to. His gentle word of reassuring helps calm the bubble of hysteria threatening to burst once again. It was only then that I allowed myself to let go of the door latch. He wasn’t out to hurt me and I realized how thankful and lucky I was to have run into Kiseop.

 

The rest of the ride is spent in comforting silence allowing me to try to get my thoughts in order. A quick glance at the time displayed in the dash of the truck tells me we’ve been riding for nearly an hour and a half. The houses in this area are clearly better than the ones in my crumbling neighborhood. They seem to get bigger and bigger the further we ride before we eventually pull onto a road lined with nothing but trees on both sides. As we trek further down the road I began to see glimpses of castle-like mansions through the clearing between the trees. These houses are significantly spaced apart and after riding for what feels like another half an hour Kiseop points to the mansion towards the end of the road.

“That’s the one you are looking for.”

As we near the house Kiseop turns onto a street that seems to go directly into the woods surrounding the estate. I shoot him a confused glance and he quickly explains it is the only way to get in.

“It’s hidden so the media and other outsiders can’t get in.”

I don’t question how he knows how to get into the Jung’s house as the anxiety of meeting Jung Woosung grips me again.

Jung Woosung, my father.

Will he believe I’m his son, will he even let me in to explain who I am and why I’m here in the wee hours of the morning?  Will he even care? What if I end up on the street after all? This will have all been a waste of not just my time but Kiseop’s as well. The thought strikes me and I suddenly realize I never thanked him.

“Thank you.. for everything. You don’t even know me but you went out of your way to bring me all the way here.  I’m sorry for crying and everything I know it probably made you uncomfortable.” I scratch at the back of my head feeling sheepish and a little embarrassed. I really am lucky to have run into somebody like him.

 

Or maybe I wasn’t so lucky.

 

No, not lucky at all.

 

 

He smiles as the car slows.

 “It was my pleasure, no problem at all. Don’t apologize for crying, I understand. Besides,”

He turns and looks at me as he comes to a stop and shifts the car to parked,

“You look so pretty with tears streaming down your face.”

 

The uncomfortable feeling hits me tenfold as his kind smile drops into something more sinister. A deviant smirk graces his face as he turns the key and kills the engine. I look out of the window starting to feel panicked but all I can see is trees and darkness blurring together when my eyes begin to water..

“I’ll tell you the truth Leo-shii, I really do feel bad that you’re having such a horrible night, honestly I do. Initially I only stopped you because I thought you’d be an easy score but you looked so terrified, I was going to give up and just give you a ride. Now that I’ve seen your beautiful tear stained face, I just can’t help myself.” He gently thumbs at the tears slowly rolling down my face.

“Now, the house you’re looking for is right around here. If you cooperate, I’ll take you the rest of the way.”

He smiles at me again as he pulls out a switchblade, flicking it open inches away from my face as his other hand buries itself in the hair at the back of my head. He doesn't pull, like I feared  he would.

“If not, then you’ll be stuck looking for it on foot. Either way, I’m going to get what I want Leo-shii. Nod if you understand.”

I jerk my head in some semblance of a nod and that seems to be good enough for him. He gets out of the car and stalks around to my side.. I contemplate locking the doors before I realize he has taken the keys from the ignition and could simply unlock it.

“Here we go again”

 

He opens the door and gently pulls me from the passenger seat, I go easily. It’s only as he opens the back door do I realize all the seats in the back seat are folded down with a blanket covering the upholstery. I start to wonder how often he lures people like me to take advantage of them but it's cut short as he guides me to lay on my back. He quickly settles himself between my legs and pushes the hair back from my forehead. For a while she just stares as I tremble and cry underneath him.

 The same voice I’d hear earlier speaks to me when he leans down to place his mouth over my own. His kiss is soft as he kneads my lips with his. It doesn’t take long before his tongue finds its way into my mouth.

“No matter where you go you’ll always be nothing but a whore. You like it don’t you?”

I clench my eyes shut tight and I feel the tears rolling down the side of my face as I whimper a pathetic no . I’m not sure if I’m talking to the voice tormenting me or to Kiseop who is now kissing the side of my face and licking at the tear trails dripping from my eyes. His hands run across the expanse of my torso until they reach the button of my jeans. He undoes it swiftly before stuffing a hand down my underwear, palming at my soft cock.

“This all you’re good for. You just lay there until they’re done with you. You like it. You like when they use you and leave you.”

It’s not true. I hate it. I want him to stop. I don’t want him to touch me anymore. I don’t want to do this. I turn my head to the side hoping to block it out. I open my eyes and they land on the blade. Kiseop, so involved in his ministrations, must have dropped the knife pleased with my submissiveness.

“If you don’t like it, stop it. Make it stop. The knife is right there. Grab it. Kill him.”

I shake my head to clear the thought. As much as I hate him right now I could never take someone’s life.   I just can’t do it.

“I won’t do it.”

“You don’t really have a say right now Leo-shii.” I feel him laugh against my neck before he pulls back enough to yank my pants and underwear down my thighs in one swift motion and shoving his hand between my legs once more. His fingers prod at my entrance impatiently and I realize in horror that Kiseop is attempting to push the digit in dry.

“Do it!”

“No”

I weakly push at his arm. I can hear myself babbling, begging for the voice to leave me alone. I’m starting to hyperventilate. Everything is too much.

“Do it, Taekwoon!”

“NO.”

“DO IT! KILL HIM!!”

“I SAID NO!”

 I feel myself screaming and thrashing under Kiseop. He lifts himself off of me, hand gripping the side of his neck. He staggers backwards out of the car a few steps and it’s only then that I register the blood splattered across my face, coating my cheeks and tongue. He looks at me in shock and pain and I realize I’m holding the knife. 

When did I pick it up?

 I sit up quickly, wheezing as I watch him fall to the ground. I hurriedly stumble out of the car struggling to pull my pants up. I place my hand over the wound in his neck feeling the blood gushing through my fingers. Kiseop gurgles for a few seconds before going completely still. I don’t cry. I simply stare at the unmoving body before me in shock.

“Oh God, what did I do? What have I done?”

Somewhere through the haze of adrenaline and panic I hear the distorted voice laugh,

“Good boy. Pull yourself together. Get the hell out of here.”

Fumbling in the darkness of the woods, I hastily locate the car keys stuffed in his crimson stained coat pocket. I stand on shaky legs and back away until I reach the car. I don’t spare the man I had just murdered a second glance as I round the vehicle to climb into the driver’s seat. The door slams as I pull it shut behind me and something inside of me changes. The tremors racking my body stop and my breathing is slow and calm. The guilt I’d felt moments ago has completely vanished. I’m not sure what happened after I closed the door but something in me felt different. For once in my life I didn’t feel like a helpless pathetic child. I didn’t particularly enjoy killing him but I felt justified in doing so. I was sick of feeling weak and powerless. For the first time, I felt like I was truly in control.

“Never again will anyone hurt you”

 

I take a moment to just breathe before shoving the key into the ignition and starting the car. Throwing the gear into reverse, I back up careful not to run him over. The GPS in the car told me that Kiseop had been telling the truth and the house I was looking for was on the main road we were originally on. Before long, I make it close enough to the giant house to cut the engine and walk the rest of the way.

As I near closer, I notice there are many men dressed in black suits guarding what I assume is the entrance to the house. Halting quickly, I look at my clothing, there is blood covering the entirety of my shirt and dirt staining both knees where I’d leaned over Kiseop’s lifeless body. I know there is still blood smeared across my face and I realize that there was no way in hell they would ever let me in, let alone talk to Jung Woosung. They’d be more likely to call the police. It wouldn’t take long to find the body in the woods and I’d spend the rest of my life in jail. I turn on my heels and began to walk away in exhaustion and defeat.

 “Hey, you there! Who are you?”

Shit.

My body freezes mid step, I’m caught. I debate making a run for it but I know I won’t get very far. I look up to face the woman who had apparently just stepped out of the vehicle stopped a little ways behind Kiseop's truck. Completely lost in my thoughts, I’d failed to hear the car pull behind me. In addition to the guards standing on either side of the car with the woman I hear the footsteps of the men running up behind me, obviously alerted of a stranger lurking near the house. In the dark, it was impossible to make out her features but her very presence made it impossible for me to speak. My tongue feels heavy in my mouth and the lingering taste of blood nearly makes me gag. The woman’s heels clicking against the ground is the only sound breaking the tense silence. The designer's shoes stop mere inches from my own sock clad feet.

When had I lost my slippers?

“I asked who you are. Why are you here?” After I fail to answer her a second time, she gently lifts my head and asks if I can speak. I nod in response and she offers me a soft smile before looking down and regarding my clothing in shock. The woman takes a step back and asks if I’m hurt and this time I shake my head no.

“Why on earth are you covered in blood?” she asks and I feel myself trembling. I had never been a good liar and I had no idea what to tell her. Surely I couldn’t tell her that I’d been kicked out in the middle of the night because of a junkie pervert just to be picked up by a rich pervert whom I'd just murdered and left in the woods; yet the confession found its way through my stuttering lips.

 I stopped rambling long enough to suck in a much needed breath, eyes widening in fear. What the hell had I just done? She was definitely going to call the cops now and I’ll be arrested for murder. I could feel myself starting to hyperventilate. My legs give and my body crumples to the ground.

“Wait, wait, slow down sweetie. Breathe. That’s it, just breathe.” Taking a few deep breaths as instructed, I try my best to slow my racing heart, “Tell me from the beginning. Someone tried to harm you?”

I nod my head again at her question as my voice escapes me yet again.

 “Okay, someone tried to hurt you. And then what happened?”

I confess to her about how Kiseop had lured me into the woods and pulled a knife on me.  I explain how I stabbed him in self-defense once I got it from him before driving away. Technically I’m not lying; I just chose not to give her the entire story. Not yet at least. I’m still not sure if this woman was going to have me arrested so I keep those details to myself.

“Are you sure you killed him?”

There is no doubt that Kiseop is in fact dead. I’d watched the life drain from his eyes as his body fell still and quiet. The woman stares at me with a look I can’t discern before she motions to one of the men surrounding us.

“Find him. Clean it up and get rid of this car.” After giving her commands, she turns to me and wraps an arm around one of my own and gently pulls me up from the ground and leads me through the entrance of the gate.

“Let’s get you cleaned up.”

 

The confusion must show clearly across my face but she ignores it and continues walking, her pace unhurried as if we were simply taking an afternoon stroll. Although I feel extremely thankful that this woman hadn’t called the police and decided to help me, after the incident with Kiseop I’m a little hesitant to trust another stranger. I can’t help but wonder why she’s helping me in the first place. Why is she leading me into the house that was supposed to be my father?

“Who is this woman?”

As if she were reading my mind, she answers my unasked question and I feel my stomach drop as we walk into the mansion. “My name is Jung Jisoo and this is my home. Don’t worry; you can stay here for as long as you need to. I’ll speak with my husband when he gets back from his trip.”

Jung Jisoo? It was a name I had long become familiar with. This was the woman my mother often spoke enviously of. The woman my father chose over the two of us. I spent my life hating this woman yet here she is, taking me in, after helping me cover a murder. The situation is so utterly baffling a humorless chuckle forces its way out. My head throbs in earnest when she leaves me alone to take a much needed hot shower. I blankly watch as the water swirls pink at my feet and to will my headache away. It doesn’t help.

 

I step out of the shower once the water goes tepid and stare at myself in the large mirror. My face is clean of the blood and tears that had dried on my skin. My eyes are puffy and dull. This had truly been a night from hell. I look around noticing my clothes were nowhere in sight, instead I find a pair of dark sweat pants and a long sleeved shirt folded neatly on the counter. There’s an unopened toothbrush laying next to the clothing and I don’t waste a second tearing it open, desperate to get the foul taste out of my mouth.

I quickly dress and exit the bathroom where Jisoo is waiting for me. I flinch, not expecting to see her standing there. She smiles and leads me to a room further down the hall where she says I should get some rest. I wanted to ask why she had trusted me so easily; why she had decided to open up her home to someone she didn’t even know. For now though, I’m thankful that after the night I've suffered through I’m finally laying in a large comfortable bed. Sleep finds me quickly. I barely register the soft kiss placed on my forehead, only faintly hearing the words whispered to me,

“Everything’s going to be okay little Leo.”

Chapter Text

 

Hongbing Pov

4/15/2013

Fml. Fuck my life. Fuck my fucking life.

This has been the only thought running through my head since 9 o’clock. When Hakyeon and I arrived at work earlier today, everything had been going fine. Better than, actually. There were no customers with ridiculous complaints, no obnoxiously loud people, and my tips for the day were a bit higher than normal. As I said, everything was going splendid; until of course, 9 o’clock. That was the time in which the calm dinner crowd rolled out and the rowdy party crowd stumbled in.

I could tell this would be the night from hell when my first set of customers entered the bar as I wiped down the counter top. It was a group of girls I had to deal with every weekend. Every. Fucking. Weekend. They are the type of people I absolutely hate. Spoiled, rich girls with entirely too much makeup and not enough clothing that act like the world revolves around them. They seem to think that by bating their eyelashes and flashing their cleavage, their bills would miraculously vanish. When flirting doesn’t work, they resort to whining; the drunker they get, the more high pitched their wining got. I suppress a shudder as one of the girls call out my name in that shrill voice I so despised.

“Hooongbin. I'm so happy you’re on tonight! I was just starting to miss you.” One of the girls says as I turn around to greet them. She leans far enough over the counter for her breast to be poking halfway out of her shirt, if you could call it a shirt, the scraps of material does nothing to cover her. I feign a smile as the girl, Yoona if I recall correctly, continues her best attempts at flirting. Hyuk eyes me from across the room with a sympathetic smile and walks over to us.

“Hello ladies,” he smiles, “you’re here awful early tonight.” Hyuk is a tall, slender kid with a baby face and a boyish smile. He had the ability of making older women swoon over his adorable-ness. When I first started working here, Hyuk was quite shy and easily embarrassed. Now, his innocence is nothing more than a façade that got him everywhere with the pervy noonas.

“That’s because it's Krystal’s 21st birthday!!!” Yoona all but screeched as she pulled a pretty red haired girl from behind her. “How about some free birthday shots?”

When Hyuk doesn’t respond we all look over at him. He’s staring at Krystal with his mouth open and a slightly dazed look on his face. Krystal’s face darkens under his gaze almost matching the rouge tint of her hair. She ducks her head with a sheepish smile and I hide a smirk as I clear my throat to bring him back to reality. He sputters before agreeing to Yoona’s proposal. Hyuk politely ushers the women to a table away from the bar. I shake my head and laugh, positive that he has no idea what he just got himself into. I set to work filling the shot glasses with expensive liquors I could never dream of tasting.

 

 

The bar, slowly but surely, starts filling up with people as the DJ begins spinning upbeat dance songs and remixes of popular songs. A few hours have gone past since I’d seen Hyuk leave with the girl and luckily I haven’t had any more obnoxious girls hitting on me. I alternated between filling drink orders and having conversations with the people who chose to sit at the bar. Maybe tonight won’t be so bad after all. I allow myself to finally relax and try to enjoy my shift, dancing to the music from behind the bar and earning a few extra tips.

I spot Hakyeon walking out of the doors leading from the kitchen and making his way over to the bar. He looks absolutely exhausted and his once white shirt is covered in various spills and stains. When he reaches the bar, he sits heavily in the stool.

“I am so freaking tired!!” he complains as I hand him a bottle of water. “My feet are killing me and I burned my finger.” Hakyeon pouts as he holds up his index finger. I offer him a sympathetic laugh before ducking down to locate the stash of band-aids I keep behind the bar. Working with glass had proved they’d come in handy more often than not.

“I know the feeling, hyung.” I agree. He accepts the bandage while shooting me a glare.

“At least you had some kind of break between shifts. I've been working non-stop since we got here. I swear if it wasn’t for Wonshik, I would have passed out by now. How’s it going out here?”

“Yoona and her group were the first people in here after we opened back up. Apparently it’s her sister’s birthday. Hyuk looked star struck so they sucked him into buying shots for them all night. I haven’t seen him since. Other than that it’s been pretty calm especially for a Saturday night.” Hakyeon grunts and shakes his head-

“There goes his entire check. Those girls drink more than most of the guys that come in here. Poor Hyukie.” I nod in agreement.

We continue our conversation until Wonshik comes from the kitchen looking for Hakyeon. Lucky for them the kitchen closes long before the bar does, although they sometimes hang around until I get off. I leave them alone to check on the other patrons at the bar and refill a few drinks. I take a moment to glance around the club. The dance floor is packed with people all moving together to the beat of the music. The bright lasers and strobe lights make them look as if they are moving in slow motion. It’s spellbinding.

Sometimes I wish I could go out and party like them again, fueled on a lethal combination of drugs, alcohol and lust. As much as I try to forget the life I left behind, the want for it almost gets me at times. I feel it most usually after the nightmares, like the dreams remind my body that it’s no longer receiving the substances it used to crave in order to forget everything.

I shake my head to rid the thoughts from my mind. Nothing good will come of thinking too hard about it. I had made a promise to not only myself, but to Hakyeon as well. I would never go back down that path; I owed him that much for saving my life. Taking a just at the bar was a personal way to prove to myself that I was stronger now than I was before.

I busy myself by wiping the counter again and drying a few glasses. I make my way around the bar collecting tabs and filling more orders before I notice a man sitting alone at the bar. He’s sat far away from any of the people lining the bar and is staring at the mass of bodies with a scowl on his face. I’m not sure how long he’s been sitting there but I notice he doesn’t have a drink in front of him so I put on a smile and make my way over to him.

“Hi! What can I make for you?”

He looks over his shoulder at me seemingly startled. He doesn’t respond right away; just continues to stare at me with wide eyes before he looks down and turns around facing the bar. He picks up a drink menu and I take in the man's appearance. His pale skin contrasts nicely against the jet black hair he has pulled up in a half ponytail at the back of his head. The light catches the two studs pierced through his ear as his sharp cat like eyes roam over the menu and his sculpted eyebrows bunch at the center of his forehead. I allow my eyes to travel to his collar bones that are visible through the cut of the black beater and the unbuttoned matching jacket. His slender fingers are adorned with silver bands and I watch mesmerized as they flip through the menu in apparent frustration.

“If I may,”

I speak up, and when his dark eyes land on mine I feel my mouth go dry. I swallow thickly before addressing him once more, “Why don’t you tell me what kind of drinks you like and I’ll make something special for you.”

He places the menu back in its holder and gives me a curt nod. My eyes are automatically drawn to his full lips as he speaks. His voice is so soft I strain to hear him over the heavy bass resounding through the club. I lean forward and ask him to repeat himself. He does, and when I pull back he refuses to meet my eyes again. He almost seems embarrassed.

Cute.” I find myself thinking as I set out to make him a drink. Coffee, coffee, what can I make with coffee? I decide on a Dublin iced coffee. As I make his drink, I try to make small talk with him.

“Is this your first time here?” he nods, eyes transfixed on the cream swirling through the coffee mixture. I continue, “Yeah, I figured as much. You don’t look like the clubbing type. What brings you here, if you don’t mind me asking?”

He finally looks up at me, albeit briefly before answering, “I had a meeting.”

I dust a sprinkle of cinnamon atop of the drink and slide it over to him. He takes a sip and then another. I ask if he likes it and yet again, he answers with a nod. As much as I would love to stay and chat with this handsome stranger, the song that had been bumping through the speakers comes to an end which means people seeking out more drinks. I excuse myself and go on about doing my job.

It’s hectic for a moment until everyone has their alcoholic beverage; I walk to the other side of the bar where Hakyeon and Wonshik are still lounging. Wonshik is leaned over whispering something into Hakyeon’s ear as the latter giggles and hits him softly on the chest. I clear my throat and laugh as they jump apart.

“I am ever so sorry for interrupting,” I laugh sarcastically as N fans himself with his hands while trying to hide his flushed face. Wonshik simply smirks.

“Hey, have either of you ever seen that guy sitting at the end of the bar?” They both take a glance down to where I’d left the man sitting still sipping on his drink. N says he doesn’t know him and Ravi looks at us both in astonishment.

“How can you not know who that is? That’s Jung Taekwoon.” He tells us, shaking his head. When neither of us recognizes the name, he sighs and explains who Jung Taekwoon is.

“He owns this place as well as our sister hotels and restaurants. The previous owner passed away about a year ago and his son took over. That’s him, Jung Taekwoon”

Hakyeon and I both nod in understanding. “I wonder why he didn’t tell me that. I asked if it was his first time here and he said yes.” Wonshik shrugs his shoulders

“I don’t know but from what I've heard, he’s quite strange and not very friendly, like at all. I mean look at him, what kind of person just sits there glaring at everyone.”

I had to agree, he didn’t look like a very warm person right now but the vibes I had gotten from him weren’t hostile. Shy maybe but not unkind. When I voice this, Wonshik shrugs and says he’d rather not find out so he and Hakyeon would be taking their leave. N protests that they should stay until the bar closed so we could all walk home together but I shoo him off. There were only a few hours left before the crowd would start thinning out; after that, the rest of my shift would be a piece of cake. It wasn’t until I promised to call him as soon as I left did Hakyeon let himself be led away.

 

 

I find myself stealing glances at Taekwoon throughout the night. I only refill his drink once before he switches over to water. There is something about him I am undoubtedly attracted to. I allow myself to steal one last glance at Taekwoon before I hear some asshole snapping his fingers at me.

 

Aside from the whiny drunk rich girls, there is another group of people that make me regret ever stepping foot inside of this fucking bar. Those are the entitled douche wads that walk in here thinking that they own the place. More often than not the have a large group of people with them mostly made up of idiotic girls and even bigger jerks. By the time groups like these come in, they are already half past drunk yet they still have no idea what they want to order. Or even worse, they order so many different drinks they get confused and restart their order several times, slurring and demanding that I get everything right. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they have the nerve to come to the bar snapping their fingers at me as if I’m their personal servant. I take a deep breath and look at the clock. I only have about an a couple hours until we close so I decide to let the rude behavior slide.

It’s almost clock out time Hongbin, we got this.

I keep repeating this until I turn around to address my newest customers. The moment our eyes connect I feel my mind screech to a halt and my eyes start to water. It seems as if the sound inside of the bar was suddenly muted; the only thing I could hear was the blood rushing in my ears. The man's surprised face relaxes in that very smirk that still makes my heart clench uncomfortably.

“Hello love. Small world, aye?” he smiles. I can’t seem to force my body to move, to speak, to do anything. After all the things I swore I’d do and say if I ever had the misfortune of running into him again, I couldn’t.

“You are just as beautiful as I remember. You look good Hongbin-ah, better than the last time I saw you. I’ve missed you.” I know his words are bullshit; yet I find my face burning at the bittersweet complement. I force my feet to move as I walk away from Ken and his group of friends. I try my best to ignore him when he follows me to the other side of the bar. “Come on babe don’t be like that. Talk to me.”

He pouts taunting me, “You can’t still be mad at me right? It’s been what three years?” He reaches across the bar and grabs my hand. Before I know it, I snap ripping my hand out of his grip

“It’s been four and don’t fucking touch me. Am I still mad? What kind of fucking question is that Jaehwan? You left me to die after you tricked me into a life I never asked you for! I loved you!” I can feel my heart pounding furiously and my hands starting to shake when he still stands there, smiling at me just as wicked as the last time I’d seen him,

“Fuck off Jaehwan. Leave.”

“Sorry hun, no can do. Although I don’t get to stop in very often, this happens to be my favorite spot.” he tells me pulling out a VIP pass card from our restaurant. “It would be a shame if your manager knew you were kicking out a VIP member. We wouldn’t want you to lose your job and end up back on the streets, now would we?”

The anger in me doubles at the threat. I tear my gaze away from his and suck in a deep breath to keep me from throttling him. It was then that I noticed Taekwoon staring unblinkingly at Jaehwan and I. We hold eye contact before he gets up and walks out after throwing a few bills down on the counter. I glance back at Ken before I walk down to collect the cup and the money that the man had left behind, praying that he hadn’t heard our confrontation. I really couldn’t afford to lose this job. I clench my teeth and ask Ken what he and his party were drinking and after he places his order, I don’t see him again.

 

Even after he has disappeared into the crowd of people with a smirk still on his lips, my body is still trembling. My hands are shaking so bad, I end up spilling most of a drink on top of the counter as well as shattering a shot glass that seemed to have jumped from my hand.

I nearly cry when Hyuk reappears out of thin air asking if I’m alright. I wasn’t and I needed to get out of there asap; yet I couldn’t form the words over the sobs that were stuck in my throat. Luckily he didn’t need much more because he was telling me he’d cover the rest of the night.

After that everything seemed to blur together as the next thing I knew, I was walking down the sidewalk a block away from the club. Only then did I realize I was close to hyperventilating as well as walking in the wrong direction to my home. I stop and crouch down to the ground to try to regulate my breathing. There are people walking past giving me odd stares but I can’t bring myself to care.

 

I continue ignoring the people walking past until I notice a pair of black boots standing in front of me. When I look up my lip automatically curls into a snarl.

“Seriously? Did you follow me?” I scream, standing to meet Ken’s eyes. I don’t even try to mask the despair in my voice; the desperate feeling that is clinging to every word I force out of my mouth. I seriously can’t deal with him right now. I don’t like the thoughts that are swirling around in my head.

“What the hell do you want from me?”

I’m terrified.

Jaehwan is a drug more potent than anything I’d ever tried, his high stronger than any trip. The thrill that I searched for was all that he was and all that I ever needed. My body responds to him without my permission as if it knows that all that I wanted, needed, was him. Like smoke, he clung to me and like a habit, I couldn’t shake him.

Finally, I found an escape in the form of Hakyeon. He helped me pick up the scattered pieces of myself after Ken, or Jaehwan as I’d learned later, had broken me. Yet still, standing in front of me was the devil himself and I couldn’t find the will to run away.

Ken doesn’t say anything as he walks forward, backing me up against the building behind me. I want him to go away, to stop looking at me with that gaze that lured me in all those years ago. He reaches a hand up and strokes the side of my face as he pins my body between his own and the brick wall. There was always something about Ken that I could never resist and I thought after everything I had been through with him, I'd have grown accustomed to the spell he seems to have over me. When he leans down and whispers in my ear, I knew I was fucked

“You’re trembling baby.” He noses along the hair tucked behind my ear as he continues talking, “I know I was bad to you baby. I really am sorry things ended the way they did. You know no one will ever love you the way I do Bean~ah. I also know that no matter how pissed you think you are at me, you still want me. Let’s not play these games, Hongbin. I want you; you want me. Just let go baby.”

The panic attack I had fought off comes back full force when Ken starts running his hand down my face to my neck, traveling lower until his hand settles on my waist. My breathing picks up again when his hand ventures under my shirt to scratch lightly at the small of my back. I feel lightheaded and my legs feel as if they’d give way at any second.

“You are gonna pass out love. Just breathe for me Hongbin. That’s it. I have something that will help you calm down” he says before reaching into his jacket pocket and pulling out a little baggie. My mind goes blank and everything in my mind screams to take it. I want it, I need it and judging by the look and Ken’s face he knows it too. I close my eyes to block everything out.

Don’t do this Hongbin. We’ve come too far. It’s okay. Just walk away. It’s a trap and you know it. We’ve been clean for so long, don’t allow yourself to go down this path again. What if you can’t find yourself out this time? What about Hakyeon?

I fight desperately to remind myself of why I shouldn’t take the little baggie that’s being offered to me but the only thing I can’t think of is this shitty day. As if the nightmare wasn’t enough to start my day with, why did Jaehwan have to show up? Now of all times, why? I open my eyes to see him still holding the drugs that my body desired. My hand moves to reach for the bag and the last thing I think before I take it is, fuck my life!

Chapter Text

Leo pov

4/15/2013

I’d learned at a very young age, love is not something that truly exists. Love, is simply an illusion that people find themselves trapped in. Infatuation, affection, and desire are all things that come to pass. These emotions that people associate with love are all pointless; finite. I never understood why people chase after something that leaves you feeling desperate and helpless when it falls apart. It’s idiotic. I promised myself that I would never allow myself to be fooled into falling in love; yet I still found myself storming over to where Hongbin stood, pinned to the wall by the guy from the club. As I neared him I asked myself how the hell I ended up falling for this stranger with the prettiest smile I’d ever seen.

 

February

The meeting I have scheduled today is with the managers at one of the restaurants my father passed on to me after his death. Since this is one of the more upscale areas that brought in wealthier customers, we were putting together a Valentine’s Day special event. When I arrive at the restaurant I note that I’m half an hour early so I take a seat in the very back where I can see around the entire restaurant. I busied myself jotting down notes and planning what decorations would go where. Shortly after, a waiter approaches me and asks if I was ready to order. I absentmindedly order a coffee while still looking at the pad of paper I was writing on. I didn’t particularly believe in celebrating Valentine’s Day but this event had to be perfect. Couples would pay insane amounts of money just to prove their love to their significant other. I scoff at the pure foolishness of it all but continue to plan out the menus and such. Even if this holiday was nothing more but a hoax, our elaborate events and high class resorts kept Amara’s name as one of the top franchises in the business.

The waiter returns with my beverage and asks if he could get me anything else. Lost in my work I simply shake my head no. He tells me his name is Hongbin and to call on him if I needed anything. I don’t know what it was but something compels me to look up and watch as the man walks away. I take in his slim figure, long legs and wavy hair tied at the nape of his neck. I stare for a beat longer as he makes his round to other tables before brushing it off and glancing back down at my notes. Once the manager makes his way over to me, Hongbin is long gone from my mind.

After several long hours of discussions and planning for the event, the meeting finally ends. I gather my belongings and make my way to the door where I bump into a waiter apparently leaving at the end of his shift. My eyes travel to the name tag pinned to the front of his shirt and it reads, Hongbin. My eyes snap back to the young waiter’s face as he apologizes and holds the door open for me to walk out first. I find myself stuck, pinned under those dark eyes and I am immediately drawn in to that dimpled smile. That same smile falters when I make no move to walk out of the restaurant. His eyebrow quirks and I snap out of my awed stupor, offering him a slight bow before rushing to my car.

Once inside I grip the steering wheel tightly, staring blankly ahead before moving a hand to my chest. Why is my heart beating so fast? I had seen plenty of attractive people in my lifetime, slept with my fair share as well, and yet none of them ever had this effect on me. I spot him out of the corner of my eye and watch as he walks further and further down the street with his hand stuffed in his oversized hoodie. His pace is brisk, probably hoping to hurry out of the chilly weather of early February. I watch until I can no longer see him. Only once he is completely out of sight do I allow myself to drive away from the restaurant.

 

The entire drive home and the rest of the night thereafter, Hongbin wouldn’t leave the forefront of my mind. I found myself thinking back to our brief encounter earlier that day. The deep voice of the waiter who had served me didn’t match the pretty face of the man I'd run into, just as his dimpled, carefree smile didn’t match the sadness I found in his gaze. In that brief instant I could sense there were many painful memories stored behind those beautiful dark eyes, a feeling I knew all too well. I heave a sigh and close my eyes but all I could see was his face. Something twists uncomfortably in my stomach and I fight to shake him from my mind.

 

I find myself sitting in the parking lot the next day and quickly realize shaking him wouldn’t be as easy as I thought.

It started out innocently enough. After learning his schedule, I would sit in my car in the parking lot and simply watch him walk away from the restaurant until I could no longer see him. There was no harm in looking or so I told myself. This was good enough; I only needed to see his beautiful face and then I could go on with the rest of my night.

I continued this routine day after day for a few weeks before watching him walk to the end of the street wasn’t enough anymore. I began trailing Hongbin on the walk to the home he apparently shared with a shorter red haired male I’d seen leaving the restaurant with him on occasion..

That, I didn’t like.

Soon enough, just seeing him wasn’t enough either. I longed to hear his voice again.

And so, I found myself visiting my restaurant daily for the past few months. I’d always sit far away enough for him to not notice me but close enough to hear him speak, to see him smile, to watch him flit from table to table like a little butterfly.

I told myself to be content with this, though there were times I longed for something more. On the days Hongbin comes in looking exhausted I fight down the urge to ask him if he’s okay, to demand he go home and rest. Of course I couldn’t do that, wouldn’t do that so the one thing I allowed myself to do was to watch. Watching him wouldn’t hurt.

 

 

What started out as mild curiosity quickly turned into infatuation and I needed to know everything I could possibly learn about him, without ever having to talk to him, of course. It wasn’t very hard to gather information about him. After a bit of researching I found out how hard my little Hongbin’s life has been.

I learned at the age of ten his mother passed away from an apparent suicide and Hongbin had been the one to find her body hanging in her closet. My heart clenches for him. The horror of seeing something like that such a young age must have left him traumatized. A few months after her death he was in and out of hospitals, seemingly a clumsy child. Younger photos of him showed me Hongbin was just as beautiful back then, even covered in bruises as he was. It was clear even to my untrained eyes his bruises were purposely inflicted. His file states it was speculated that he was being abused at the hand of his alcoholic father but there was never enough evidence to prove it. Hongbin provided a plausible explanation every time he got hurt that saved that bastard from paying for what he had done. I felt my blood boil. Who could hurt such a delicate person?

 

After he turned sixteen his rap sheet quickly went from nonexistent to a mile long in the span of a few short years. He had been arrested after being caught stealing food from a market but had been released when the market owner found out he was homeless. At the age of seventeen he was arrested a few more times for suspected prostitution and spent a few days locked up a few times a month.

On his eighteenth birthday he was checked into the hospital after a severe overdose and enrolled in a rehabilitation program by Cha Hakyeon. The next photo was one of the red head guy he’s living with who is also employed at my restaurant. I feel my hostility towards the male dim just the slightest bit. He had been the one to save my little butterfly.

I spend a little more time flipping through the files I had acquired on Hongbin before burning them in the lit fireplace of my living room. Being the CEO of one of the wealthiest franchises gave me access to people who could gather all of this with the flip of a coin. I had paid a pretty penny to gain all of this information as well as clearing his rap sheet. I quickly found I was willing to do anything to help Hongbin in any way I could. I felt an obligation to do so as Hongbin and I aren’t that different, our backgrounds similar. It is with startling realization that I understand, Hongbin and I are meant to be together. Who else to better understand than me for him and him for me?

Feeling that much closer to him, I devise a plan to finally talk to him as watching him has long stopped being enough. I check his schedule and see that he’s working the party crowd next week. I would definitely make him mine.

 

Present

 

This was it. This was the day planned to formally introduce myself to Hongbin. Nerves swarm around my belly as I arrived early in the day to watch him as I usually did. He walks out from the employee area and sets to work immediately with a bounce in his step and a smile on his face that I find mirrored on my own. I settle more into my seat, pleased to see that my little butterfly seemed to be in a good mood today. His smile never dimmed as he fluttered from table to table, giving nothing but the best customer service. I notice a couple from one of Hongbin’s tables pack up and leave without leaving a tip. Irritation spikes inside of me in an instant. Who the hell did those people think they were? Frowning, I move to leave a generous tip for him in their place. I quickly sneak back to my seat as he approaches the now empty table and I watch closely as his eyes light up as he counts the money I had left on the table. That smile encouraged me to do this at a few more tables throughout the day.

Hours pass as I study him, occasionally moving sections to avoid being detected. I stay watching over him until the restaurant closes to prepare for the night crowd. I felt the nervousness settle in the pit of my stomach like a rock. I make the drive back to my home to shower and change into an outfit that would better suit the nightlife crowd that was sure to bustle in tonight. On the ride back to the bar, I try not to dwell on the aggressive churning of nerves in my stomach.

 

Once I arrive, I can’t bring myself to go into the building. What am I even doing? This wasn’t like me in the slightest. I’d gone nearly 27 years without wanting anything more than the occasional hook up. What if I’m making a huge mistake? Hongbin’s smile flickers in my mind and my heart rate picks up just the slightest. So what, yes he was beautiful but there were plenty of attractive people in the world. I can’t understand why I am so drawn to him. The information in his files pop into my head. Maybe it was just empathy I felt for him.

“One abused and abandoned child to another. How romantic.”

 

I shake the sniggering sarcastic voice in my mind and take a deep breath. I glance back to the entrance of the building and decide I would go in when there were more people in the club that way I could watch him without him catching me before I was ready to talk to him. I spend the time waiting sitting in my car wondering what I would even say to him. Obviously I couldn’t just walk up and tell him we should be together because I understood his pain like no one else would. I wasn’t particularly good at casual flirting, How in the hell was I supposed to pull this off? My heart races and the beat of it matches the heavy bass pumping from inside and I decided I had waited long enough. It was now or never.

Crowds had never been my thing and this was no different. I hate the bodies that rub against mine as I fight my way to the bar where I knew my Hongbin would be all night. I quickly find a seat far away from everyone else where I could watch him uninterrupted. He was on the other side of the horseshoe shaped bar talking to that red head, his best friend Haekyeon , I remind myself as I fight to relax the sneer I knew was gracing my features as I watched them. The two stand there laughing and talking until a stocky blonde walks over to them.

I watch as Hongbin walks away to help the small group that had come up to the bar. Sitting at this end of the bar gave me a full body view of my little butterfly and I let my eyes rake over his form as he works. Clinging to his thighs are a pair of dark skinny jeans that accentuate his long legs as he walked back and forth. He has a crisp white shirt tucked neatly into said jeans and I find myself bewildered at how such simple attire could be so astonishing. I nearly fall out of my seat, bewitched as Hongbin starts moving his hips the music playing through the club. His movements aren’t dramatic, just a slight swaying to the beat as he mouths the word to the song but my mouth runs dry nonetheless. I turn faced the crowd dabbing at the sweat accumulating at the nape of my neck, hoping to find a distraction or to at least calm the explicit images my imagination had conjured up.

I’ve never quite understood what it was about this particular lifestyle that people enjoyed. Sweaty strangers and gripping and grinding on whoever was closest to them, running on alcohol and God knows what else. I found it to be rather repulsive to be honest. Drugs had destroyed my mother and alcohol my father. The urge to get so fucked up reality blurred into a mirage of peace and tranquility was one that baffled me the most when they knew full well it wasn’t real. A few drinks here and there were fine but it was hard enough for me to keep control of my own mind sober. I would never fall into the same trap my parents had.

Lost in my thoughts as I am, I don’t notice Hongbin approaching until the deep timbre of his voice rang loud and clear behind me.

“Can I get you anything?”

Startled, I look over my shoulder to his smiling face and I feel my heartbeat accelerate once more. This is the moment I had been waiting for, my chance to talk to him and yet, no words would form in my mouth. I take a deep breath as I swivel to face the bar and grab a menu from its holder on the counter top.

Say something. Say anything!

I continue scolding myself mentally before I hear my sweet butterfly speaking to me again “If I may. Why don’t you tell me what kind of drinks you like and I’ll make something special for you.”

I look up from the menu and into those deep dark eyes and give a curt nod and tell him the first thing I can think of. He steps back and begins making my drink, smile never leaving his face.

What is wrong with me? Why can’t I come up with a single thing to say to him?

“Is this your first time here?” I nod again and he continues, “Yeah, I figured as much. You don’t look like the clubbing type. What brings you here, if you don’t mind me asking?”

Panic sets in when I realize I didn’t know how to answer him. I couldn’t very well tell him I was here because I had been watching him and decided to finally talk to him tonight. I settle for mumbling a vague excuse of a non-existing meeting as he slides my drink over to me.

I take a sip and bite down a moan as the sweet taste swirls over my tongue. I don’t know if the drink itself was as wonderful as it seemed or if it was just the fact that Hongbin had made it just for me. Either way I was positive that this was the best drink I’ve ever had. I wanted to tell him this when he asked if I liked it but all I could do is nod once again. I watched in disappointment as he walked away to service the other people at the bar.

“Nice going.”

My eyes follow him as he makes his way over to Hakyeon who looks flustered as the other male pulls away from him. I look away and try to appear normal when I see them all look my way. What had he said about me to make them all glance in my direction. I don’t have much time to dwell on it when the red head stands up and heads to the door with blondie in tow. I wasn’t able to learn much about Hakyeon through my research but he seems to be really close to my little Hongbin. Maybe I should do a little digging on him as well. I make a mental note to do just that as soon as I leave the bar. For now though, the only thing I am concerned with is my little butterfly.

I look back to the bar in search of my beloved and I spot him talking to a man dressed in a bright red jacket. I can’t see his face but the look on Hongbin’s face tells me this was someone he knew. Someone he was surprised to see. I strain to hear what they’re saying over the music to no avail. I watch as Hongbin blushes and walks away from the group of people with the stranger following. Something coils in the pit of my stomach hot and angry when he reaches over to grab Hongbin’s hand. The feeling is replaced with satisfaction when he slaps his hand away. That is until Hongbin’s words reach my ears

“I loved you!”

He practically screams and my entire body fills with a jealous rage. I never considered the fact that Hongbin may have a boyfriend. Of course someone as beautiful as him couldn’t possibly be single. I hadn’t seen mentions of anyone he was close to in his files aside from Hakyeon yet here was this man that Hongbin was screaming his love for in the middle of a crowded bar. I couldn’t sit here and watch the lovers’ quarrel anymore for fear that I may get up and bash this stranger’s skull in. Hongbin and I make eye contact right before I pull out my wallet to pay for the drink. My hands are shaking with the effort it’s taking me to just pay and leave. I throw the money down and storm out of the club with every intention of going home and forgetting about the boy that had nearly shook me. Once inside of my car, I sit still willing myself to calm down.

“What did you expect?”

I close my eyes desperately trying to block out that voice. Nothing good ever happens when that voice comes to talk to me. It cackles and I shudder,

“You couldn’t have possibly thought you’d found happiness in him. We’ve been through this Taekwoon-ah. Love isn’t real. It only causes pain.”

That’s right. Love doesn’t exist, it is simply an illusion. I let out a sigh of frustration because this is something I already knew, something I’d seen over and over. I was temporarily distracted by a pretty smile and that was it. I make the decision to go home and forget about everything; yet when I see Hongbin waking out of the club in the opposite direction he usually takes, I can’t stop myself from following him. I tell myself it’s just out of simple curiosity. The feeling is intensified when I notice the guy from the bar following a distance behind him. I pull the car to a stop a bit up the darkened street when Hongbin stops and slides down and crouches in front of one of the buildings with his head tucked between his legs. I’m up and out of the car before I realize what I’m doing. I walk close enough to see them clearly but not enough to be noticed thanks to the blown street lights.

I make no move to get closer when I see the man in the red jacket stop and stand in front of Hongbin. I watch silently as Hongbin stands swiftly and I can hear now that he is crying and yelling at the man. I can’t make out the words being shouted so I settle for just watching until the man pins Hongbin against the wall. He makes no move to push him off and I realize with a jolt I had made a mistake following them. I was just about to turn around and head by to my car when the stranger pulls something from his jacket and holds it out for Hongbin to take. From where I sand I can only make out a small baggie with something small and white inside. It’s only when Hongbin reaches up with a shaking hand do I click all the pieces together. My body moves without consent and I find myself storming up to the pair, fury coursing through my veins.

 

I grab the arm holding what I now see are pills with more force than necessary and snatch the baggie out of his hand . Hongbin looks at me with wide vacant eyes and I stare back. My man yanks his arm back harshly trying desperately to shake free of my grasp. It only makes me squeeze tighter, relishing in the pained gasp that leaves him before he begins yelling at me.

“Yah! Let go of me asshole. Who the hell do you think you are?”

He doesn’t stop struggling until I let go of him in favor of pulling Hongbin in the direction of my car. He follows me dazed and pliant. I open the door and place him in the seat before I strap him in. Hongbin doesn’t seem to register anything going on around him as he stares blankly ahead as tears stream steadily down his flushed cheeks. I shut the door gently before I stalk over to where the man is still standing looking as pissed as I felt. His chest heaves as he opens his mouth to speak but I cut him off before he can utter a word,

“Stay away from him.”

For as livid as I feel, my voice comes out smooth and steady. He looks shocked momentarily but quickly smirks at me in response and I swallow the urge to rip that fucking smile right off of his face.

“What do you care? He’s just a whore anyway, no need to be so serious.” He shakes his head and laughs, pointing and the pills still gripped tightly in my fist. “Feed him those and he’ll let us both have a go for free.”

I grab him by the collar pinning him to the wall the same way he’d done to Hongbin just moments ago before sliding my hand to his neck. The smile drops from his lips quickly at the sudden pressure at his throat.

“If you ever come near him again,” I threaten, squeezing his windpipe that much tighter, “I will kill you. Do you understand?” I smile at the way he struggles to swallow past the weight of my palm. His hands come up clawing at the back of my own, trying to pry my hands off of him. It’s useless and we both know it, panic fills his eyes as they grow wide with fear.

“ye-yes” he wheezes out, face red with effort “I got it, I got it.”

My smile grows wider as I tighten my hold once again just to watch him struggle before I lessen the pressure just a bit, still keeping him held firmly in place. I lift my other hand to show him the baggie with about 8 circular pills inside of it. I pry his mouth open with my fingers easily enough and dump them all into his mouth. I tell him to swallow and he hesitates before I feel his Adam’s apple bobbing under my hand as he struggles to swallow them dry. I let him go and he slumps down to the ground. I stand over his hunched form for a moment watching him dry heave on the concrete feeling a sense of contentment before making my way back to my little butterfly. I make up my mind right then and there. Hongbin is mine. I will protect him for as long as my heart is beating.