And then this is failed attempt at humor? And, not that it's really important to this story, but it takes place in this universe, oh god. I do promise that it gets somewhat better than how it starts off, okay?
I HOPE YOU'RE HAPPY NOW, KENDRA. I HOPE YOU'RE HAPPY.
The first time Hyukjae had met Donghae, he promptly fell in love. He fell in love with the dazed look that took up almost permanent residence on his face, with the way he stuck his tongue out ever so slightly when he was concentrating, and how all of his clothes were paint speckled as if a badge that proved he was an artist.
The only problem was that Donghae didn’t entirely know who Hyukjae was. To Donghae, Hyukjae was ‘That Guy Who Picks Up Junsu To Go Home From Time To Time, The Guy Who I Do Know And Is Teaching A Singing Seminar Down The Hall From My Own Seminar And Has A Very Good Voice’. No, really. Hyukjae had made Junsu ask Donghae about him one time and that was the answer he had returned with.
“It’s vaguely pitiful,” Junsu snickered, “He made all these hand gestures and told me that your substitute reference was in title case.” Hyukjae paled as Junsu burst out laughing.
(“Did you at least tell him what my name was? So things wouldn’t look so, well, bleak for me?” Junsu blinked. “No. Should I have?” Hyukjae whimpered. “Yes, that would have been very helpful.”)
Sungmin had sighed at him and told him that it wasn’t that hard to win an artist’s heart. “We’re simple creatures. We like to make art and then for it to be appreciated by someone. You said he works at the activities center and runs classes? Well, try to tell him how you appreciate it or something. It’ll get a conversation started, at least. He’ll remember you.”
Hyukjae whined. “It’s not that easy.”
“Yes.” Sungmin declared, eyes locked on his canvas and using his pinky nail to carefully add a swooping detail to the little houses that were making up a little town, “Yes it is.”
Hyukjae tried his best on his own. He really did. It just didn’t help that he got extremely nervous, extremely nervous and scared and just generally freaked out, when he tried to talk to people he really really liked – he always had, ever since primary school when he met Yun Sol, the girl of his dreams at the age of eight, and spilled the milk carton he was trying to offer as a symbol of his love all over the front of her brand new dress.
“I. You. With me. Junsu.” Was pretty much all he managed out. He was only allowing himself to drop by Donghae’s empty classroom under the guise of waiting for Junsu to finish up his last evening class.
Donghae looked up from the paintbrushes he was rinsing out. “Hello. Sorry, no more classes today, and anyway you’ll need to sign up for registration at the start of next term.” He offered a smile that promptly melted Hyukjae’s heart into warm goopy goo of love, “Thanks for stopping by, though.”
“Er.” Hyukjae said in response. “Eurhgaf.”
Donghae stared at him blankly. “…Right.”
Hyukjae noticed with dread that Donghae was backing up at a somewhat gradual pace, holding his paintbrushes close to his chest like they were going to protect him. “Right. Okay. You have a nice night.”
Hyukjae could definitely recognize the ‘get away from me before you get your crazy on me or I call security to cart you away’ tone (was that pathetic? That he knew such a tone so well that he could identify it?) and slowly walked backwards out the room, managing to only bump into a set up easel or two, and then continued to do so down the hallway.
I blew it, he whimpered mentally, I completely and totally blew it.
“Do I want to know?” Junsu asked when Hyukjae collided with him and caused them both to fall over into a heap on the floor. “Seriously? Do I want to know?”
“No.” Hyukjae told him very seriously, “You don’t.”
Hyukjae had decided to forget his lost love by going brain dead behind the counter of the store his family owned and he, consequently, worked in.
Hyukjae didn’t even lift his head up from the counter. There was loose change he had forgotten to put in the register from the last customer’s purchase and it was digging into his forehead. But still, he was brain dead, he reminded himself. He did not care. Right.
Hyukjae squeezed his eyes tightly closed. Brain dead. Not responding. Not even if someone was SCREAMING INTO HIS GOD DAMN EAR.
No matter if he was shooting for brain dead with all his might, he still eventually had to face the fact that he was steadily going deaf in one ear, and he did not appreciate this fact. He looked up as fiercely as he could, “What Heechul, I hate you, what?!”
Heechul smirked at him, “So, okay, you have this ridiculous indent of a coin on your head. But anyway! Donghae told me about your total fail and, while he apparently didn’t seem to know your name, I figured it was you. God, you really are hopeless.”
“Well you are a – ” But before Hyukjae could finish that sentence up with an ever so pleasant total bitch, you know that? something sunk in. “Wait, you know Donghae?”
Heechul had been unpleasantly sticking around in Hyukjae’s life since middle school and, no matter how much Hyukjae pleaded with him, Sungmin wouldn’t chase Heechul off, (“Partially because he’s cute in his own horrid way,” Sungmin explained, “Partially because he’s grown on me, and mostly because I don’t think I could if I tried.”) so the mere thought that maybe he knew Donghae well enough to be on speaking terms with him was pretty much frightening beyond all words.
Heechul snorted. It wasn’t attractive and Hyukjae would tell him as much to insult him if he wasn’t so afraid of Heechul and his wrath. “Donghae lives with me. Yes I know him.”
Hyukjae died a little on the inside. “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME? I AM IN LOVE WITH HIM AND HE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW OF MY EXISTENCE.”
He knew Heechul knew about his undying passion for Donghae; Junsu had a big mouth and Yoochun had a big mouth and Changmin and Jaejoong and Yunho had an even bigger mouth put together, so of course Heechul knew. Along with Jay and Jungmo and Jungwoo and Kibum and Jungsu and Youngwoon and Sungmin, who obviously had also told Sooyoung and Jongwoon from the jazz café, who had told Kyuhyun, who had probably told Donghee and Siwon, who probably told Hangeng and his parents about it, and…well, basically, to sum it all up Hyukjae was pretty sure that just about everyone in town probably knew that Hyukjae liked Donghae from the stupid and long reaching grapevine, except for Donghae himself, who didn’t know who Hyukjae was, except for maybe as the local crazy. But yes. Stupid. What?
Heechul laughed, being very loud and obnoxious and all-knowing, “I thought it’d be good for you to take care of it on your own. But you can’t even do that much and Siwon started feeling sorry for you so he told me to intervene and help. I’m considering it.”
Hyukjae groaned. That wasn’t a very good thing at all.
Hyukjae could question Heechul’s morals when Donghae showed up at his house door with a duffel bag and two boxes of personal stuff, but he really didn’t want to. It brought up questions that he didn’t actually want to ponder the answers to.
“Uh hi.” Donghae said, struggling to reach into his pocket for a slip of paper. “I’m here because Heechul said that he made arrangements for me to live here?”
Hyukjae frowned. “I don’t…think so?”
Donghae fidgeted and looked up at him with sad puppy dog eyes. “Please? I don’t know, Heechul just shoved this piece of paper in my hand the other day and told me that Kibum was moving in but I thought that’d be fine because Jay used to live with us and Yunho before that and we were fine with three people in the house at one time but then he said that, because Kibum was moving in, he was bringing Hangeng with him and that it was part of their deal because Kibum and Hangeng would die if they don’t live together, I guess, because they are desperately and madly in love and suddenly Heechul cares so much about it when he never has before and then he told me that he was not going to house four people in one dorm and that I was getting kicked out and he said that this was the address to where I could live and now I’m homeless and he also withdrew his half of the deposit for the lease on the room I use at the center for my lessons and my life and everything I love and hold dear, like not living on the streets and doing art for a living, is falling apart and I don’t know what I’m going to do!” At the end of his rant, he let out a small wail and a few angry tears squeezed their way past his eyelashes and down his cheeks.
Hyukjae figured that Heechul was very very evil for putting the both of them in a position like this. Next time, he would make sure Siwon clarified the meaning of help and how to give it considerately when assigning Heechul such a task.
But for right now, he couldn’t really stand the sight of Donghae crying and furiously pretending that he wasn’t.
“Oh!” Hyukjae said in a fake recalling voice that probably totally sucked – he wasn’t an actor, he was a local shopkeeper for god’s sake – “I…know what you’re talking about, yeah, of course, you can move in right away.” He paused for a moment to go back through Donghae’s rant to figure out if he was missing anything, “And about the deposit…”
Donghae stared at him in something very akin to horror (OH NO HE REMEMBERS WHO I AM, Hyukjae thought, having a mini nervous breakdown in the span of two seconds, a new personal record), then began waving his hands wildly, dropping his boxes in the effort, “Oh no no, you don’t have to worry about that, it was just an agreement thing with being roommates with Heechul, I have trouble paying it all off with my salary but I can manage, really, I barely know you, don’t bother yourself over it.”
Hyukjae would have pushed it and said to not worry about it and how it wasn’t a big deal or anything (YES HE DOESN’T REMEMBER WHO I AM OR SOMETHING I’M NOT GOING TO QUESTION IT, Hyukjae thought, immediately pretending that his panicked wheezing was due to allergies), but Donghae nodded fiercely to enforce his point and strode into the house.
Hyukjae realized, probably belatedly, that this could get very awkward – he was now going to be living with his one true love! – and grabbed the two forgotten boxes left on his porch in resignation.
He hated Heechul sometimes. A lot of the time, actually.
Living with Donghae changed a few things.
For one, Hyukjae started to think of Donghae as a person rather than something resembling a god of perfection as he had built him up to be in his mind. Donghae wasn’t exactly perfect, for starters. He snored at night and drooled all over the pillow. He was kind of too touchy and clingy a lot and could be really very annoying at the worst of times. Donghae also had weird and infuriating habits, like making bowls of cereal to eat at three in the morning whilst creating a mysterious surplus of noise that could wake the neighbors and then leave all the milk in the bowl and sit it on the sofa where anyone half asleep could accidentally land in it and ruin a perfectly good pair of pajama pants.
Another effect of their living together was that Hyukjae got to know Donghae and Donghae got to know him and now, if Donghae did happen to remember the incident at the center when Hyukjae had tried and failed to carry a conversation and just wasn’t bringing it up, he knew that Hyukjae was a fairly normal person who wasn’t going to eat his brains out. (Hyukjae really hoped that Donghae had just forgotten about it or, better yet, hadn’t even made an association between him and the crazy person from that fateful day. He actually kind of was pretty sure that Donghae hadn’t.)
Also, Hyukjae now felt like they could function in each others’ lives. He could feel himself come off his high of his previous ‘I want Donghae, I want I want I want!’ state. They were comfortably roommates and comfortably friends. It was…nice. More than nice. He wouldn’t ruin it for anything in the world – except for maybe a guarantee that Donghae would say yes if Hyukjae ever asked if he wanted to have mind blowing sex, but that wasn’t really realistic, now was it?
But then again, he also had a few problems with how they had ended up in their situation in the first place.
“I feel like I should hate you,” Hyukjae said conversationally to Heechul as Sungmin clipped pink barrettes into his hair. “You made Donghae homeless so he’d move in with me? What kind of sick and twisted scheme is that?”
Heechul scowled and threw a Doraemon barrette at him. “It’s working isn’t it? Shut up. When you get Donghae to give you head and you find out about this amazing thing he does with his tongue, you’ll thank me graciously and maybe even kiss my feet in gratitude.”
Hyukjae buried his face in his hands, “Ew. I don’t want to know why you know about this tongue thing. I just don’t want to know about your sex life in general, really.”
“Even if it includes Donghae from time to time?”
“Especially if it includes Donghae from time to time.”
Sungmin didn’t glance up, just reached for a pink ribbon. “Seize the day, Hyukkie. Didn’t some Roman dictator say that once?”
Hyukjae hardly thought that comparing Heechul and the effects his insanity had on the poor unsuspecting public to a Roman dictator was a good idea. It might give him weird ideas.
Heechul grinned maniacally. “Yeah. Seize the day, you ingrate.”
Well, sometime after this and before Sungmin started falling in love – with some kid who was new in town and worked at the jazz café and Sungmin claimed he sang like an angel and that he was sweet and cute and adorable and that he was not getting any painting done because of said kid – Hyukjae became Donghae’s patron.
It wasn’t immediate and it wasn’t entirely conscious. In fact, when Hyukjae had found out that that was exactly what he was, he had the tendrils of guilt creep upon him, like he was accepting a title such as ‘Sugar Daddy’. It was practically the same thing, in his opinion! (He had definitely vocalized this opinion on more than one occasion to his friends after Sungmin had obtained one and, thusly, ‘was set for life’ Sungmin had said.)
Despite the guilt, it had happened mostly because Hyukjae couldn’t stand by and just watch how hard Donghae struggled to raise enough money for his monthly lease – this was the reason Hyukjae never asked him to pitch in for rent because then he would have felt like he was an evil asshole.
In the efforts to accumulate the money on time, Donghae had taken on an extra job at the downtown movie theater as a ticket booth worker, according to Donghee who worked at a dance studio across the street from said theater, and he had started coming home at odd hours in the night, completely exhausted and, worse of all, not making his nightly three a.m. cereal bowls and leaving them on the couch. It was messing up their normal flow!
Hyukjae felt bad because it really was his fault that Heechul had stopped paying half of the deposit, the evil manipulative bitch he was, and the whole thing was just Not Right, with capital letters and in title case, as Donghae would say.
So, behind Donghae’s back, he sent in enough money to cover half the deposit for the next month. Convincing Donghae that he had just miscalculated his figures was easy enough and Hyukjae had peace in his heart.
Soon enough, because it was easy and the right thing to do, it became a pattern every month and maybe Hyukjae had taken Donghae for granted because of his dazed and laid back manner.
That was, until Donghae confronted him.
“You’ve been paying for my lease fees.” He accused, eyes narrowing dangerously.
Hyukjae gulped and thought that, maybe, he shouldn’t have been putting down more and more money each month so Donghae would have to pay less and less than half. It was kind of more than a little obvious. Had he really thought Donghae was that stupid?
(…um. yes, he had.)
“…Yeah.” Hyukjae admitted; there was no point in trying to lie about something so obviously true, “I have. The store has good business and I just thought, since we’re friends now…I could help you out. You’re so happy when you get to do what you love, and you deserve that much without having to worry about the deposit. Besides, now you can pitch in for rent, and we’ll call it even.”
Donghae stilled unnaturally and stared at Hyukjae. Crap. Had he overstepped his boundaries? Crap.
Slowly, though, Donghae began to look like he was fighting back a smile rather than being extremely insulted. Hyukjae sighed inwardly in relief.
Donghae grinned, “Okay. Since we’re living together and you sit in my milk bowls every morning without complaint and I don’t even pay rent, I guess that’s a pretty okay deal.”
Hyukjae positively beamed and let Donghae kiss him on the cheek. (and squealed on the inside like a twelve year old girl that promptly foamed at the mouth and passed out, but he didn’t ever talk about that to anybody.)
The next month, Hyukjae paid for the whole deposit and, according to Kyuhyun who was apparently now living with Kibum, Hangeng, and Heechul (who, if this nonchalant addition to their household while Donghae had been coldly kicked out was any indication, had no shame), officially became Donghae’s patron.
“Or Sugar Daddy, if that’s what you really feel like it should be called.” Kyuhyun finished with an all too familiar smirk.
Hyukjae did not appreciate how snarky the younger had become in the past few years. “Well…” He tried feebly, “I see your skin condition has worsened!”
Kyuhyun just laughed, openly and rudely, in his face. Jerk.
Hyukjae didn’t like the art inspiring part of being a patron. He had sold a couple of Donghae’s pieces at the store because they were really good and it was another source of income for food and bills and now some of the noonas were stopping by everyday asking if there was anything new to buy.
The only problem was that when Hyukjae tried to coax Donghae to paint something, Donghae would say yes, and then go in the absolute opposite direction and not work on anything.
He was tease. A complete and total tease.
“Why aren’t you working?” Hyukjae asked as he rummaged through the refrigerator, trying to figure out what they were going to eat for dinner.
Donghae lounged in the kitchen chair, tongue sticking out ever so slightly as he played his handheld game. He gave a litany of excuses, “I had a long day, Joo hyung’s English seminar next door got too rowdy when Alex hyung stopped by to help out and I have a headache, there’s this new student named Taemin in my class and he’s so young and is loads of work to teach and he doesn’t know at all what he’s doing yet so I’m tired from teaching him the difference between water based and oil based paints, I’m not inspired.”
Pursing his lips and thinking it over, Donghae settled for the last one. “Yeah. I’m not inspired. Not at all inspired. You’re bad at this patron job, Hyukjae! Really bad! You should be punished, you’re so bad!”
When had Hyukjae’s life become so difficult? Why did he know such difficult people? He groaned.
“Sungmin’s in love and he was right. Ryeowook is the sweetest cutest little thing I have ever met and I am so jealous.” Hyukjae said as he walked through the front door. Donghae was sitting in front of the television, fingers wrapped around a piece of charcoal as he drew something.
“I’m hurt,” He muttered, tongue poking out and completely distracted as he sketched a…nose? Whose face was that supposed to be? Who had a nose that sat above their ear and went into their hairline like that? “I thought you were in love with me.”
Hyukjae laughed and leaned over Donghae to peer closer at the drawing. It was very abstract, the scatter of anatomically incorrect placed body parts proving as much. “You didn’t appreciate me and my love,” he joked, “so I moved on.”
Donghae tilted his head back and looked up at Hyukjae, eyes wide and unblinking and Hyukjae found himself kind of sucking his breath and feeling all weird and uncomfortable like he hadn’t around Donghae in forever. They had settled into close best friendship and Junsu had made fun of him for it and also complained because he was being replaced after years and years of loyalty and if I’d known it was coming to this I would have made Yoochun my best friend years ago! and Hyukjae had been fine with all of it (and also Junsu was stupid and was his best best friend of all time and Junsu knew it).
Donghae’s face was so close to Hyukjae’s that he could feel brush of air as he spoke. “That’s a shame. Cuz I think I fell in love after you word vomited at me in our first conversation ever.” He paused meaningfully. “…Well, okay, and after I was assured that you were not a psycho.”
Now Hyukjae gaped at him. “You remember that? I thought you had forgotten!”
Donghae grinned. “No way. It was pretty much the funniest thing I’d ever seen. I just never said anything because Heechul told me it would be best if I didn’t.”
Hyukjae rolled his eyes, tried not to think about the fact that maybe Heechul and Donghae had been manipulating him for months and months and months, and just took the initiative to kiss Donghae.
Freaking finally, a little voice in his head said, and it sounded unsettlingly similar to Heechul’s voice, Wait till you see if that tongue thing really is true.
“I hate Heechul.” Hyukjae said promptly as they parted.
Donghae frowned, looking confused. “…Okay? Good for you?”
“And you should too.” Hyukjae ordered bossily, “Because he kicked you out and stopped paying the deposit and that was a really bitchy thing for him to do and it was messed up and he keeps talking to me about this tongue thing you can do and I don’t want to hear about it from him, he should mind his own business but no, he has to be all in my life and kicking people out of their proper homes to help me and then holds it over my head like I OWE him something and it’s not like I asked for help though I am really glad you came to live with me, don’t get me wrong – ”
Donghae interrupted, exasperated, “I’ll show you that tongue thing Heechul was talking about if it’ll shut you up.”
Hyukjae gulped. “Oh,” He said meekly, “Oh, okay.”