Kyuhyun’s life is set in stone until he gets dumped in front of a bar.
The bar was set deep in the city, settled between the Finite Hair Salon and the Changes beauty parlor. To get to it you had to go up a flight of narrow stairs which could hardly fit one person going one way, the walls were made of old brick and one had to press hands against them to keep from falling on steps that were barely half a foot thick. It was definitely not the safest for drunken people to be tramping.
The Shipmate was one of the oldest gay clubs in the city. It used to be the one place homosexuals could go to have fun in the 1920s, before the Great Depression closed everyone down for a good decade. Then some rich bastard got hold of it and fixed it up and it’d been running strong ever since.
A young, raven haired man with polished shoes and a sharp, tailored suit, stood in front of those narrow stairs, pressing his lips in a thin line. Cho Kyuhyun’s sleek black car took off without him, and with it—his bodyguard and his hideout. Now he, the son of the richest man in North America, was stuck to enter The Shipmate. Of course, he could have walked to one of the two salons, or even the bagel shop across the street, but he wasn’t one to be called a coward. He’d come this far after all.
He almost tripped on the narrow steps on the way up, and then when he was finally up, he almost got hit by the door as a few drunkards tumbled out. Figuring that this club probably needed an elevator (and watching in partial horror as a man dressed in high fashioned drag started making out with the other man half way down the stairs), he entered the club.
To his surprise, it was rather spacious, dimly light with a dance floor and some live jazz band playing at its head, and tables surrounding the floor at one end. A black marble bar stretched along one wall; with a crimson haired bartender serving drinks as though he were made for it.
After one look around at all the finely dressed ladies and gentlemen in the room, he paled and made his way over to the bar, dropping heavily onto the stool and requesting a brandy. Delicate fingers slid the glass in front of Kyuhyun, and he took it without looking up, preoccupied with the man that had slid onto the stool beside him. He smelled strongly of alcohol, the tie loose around his throat drenched in something (he hoped was water).
“Wanna let me buy you a drink?” The man asked, in a way he supposed should have been sultry—if he weren’t so drunk. His fingers idly wrapped around Kyuhyun’s waist and pulled at the waistband of his dress pants.
Kyuhyun stiffened, pushing the man off of him. “No thanks,” he tried; the man grabbed his wrist and pulled it to his mouth, smelling. Disgusted, he wrenched himself away and moved away. Apparently the man followed him, because the bartender intervened in the most inconspicuous way ever.
With a sound like a miniature cannon, the pitcher full of beer slammed upside down on the man’s head, drenching him with beer. “Kangin, I don’t think he likes you.” The bartender cackled. Kyuhyun couldn’t help but notice the ease with which he seemed to move. Security guards appeared then, to haul the drunkard—Kangin—away.
Kyuhyun couldn’t help but smirk. “That’s why I don’t drink.” He started, pushing his glass away as though in emphasis. When he glanced up, the bartender was wagging a long finger at him.
“You just cost me my favorite customer.” The effeminate man started conversationally, a hard edge in his eyes that hinted unspoken dangers.
Ignoring the chill running up his spine, Kyuhyun smirked back and leaned on his hand. “You must be getting pretty shitty business if that’s your best customer.” Moments later he jerked back and fell to the floor with a thud as the glass of brandy he’d ordered splashed into his face.
The bartender cackled, throwing a rag down on his chest. “Might as well get out,” he pointed towards the door with a careless flick of his fingers. “Or I’ll call security again.”
Gaping, he walked outside with a sigh. All he’d done was sit at the bar and he’d already been kicked out. That must have been a new record. He plucked his cell phone from his pocket as he dabbed at his ruined dress suit with the rag.
”We’re sorry, your number has been temporarily disconnected…” He nearly threw it down the steep stairs, instead he dropped down onto them with a heavy sigh, trying to keep his shirt from staining. It was a nice, pricy dress shirt and blazer; he didn’t appreciate it being destroyed. He had larger things to worry about, however, such as the fact that he’d just been abandoned by his own parents in the middle of New York City with nowhere to go.
Life was just absolutely fantastic.
He was still feeling completely miserable thirty minutes later, as his stomach rumbled from the smells of the food inside. The soothing rhythm of blues and jazz from the bar made him ache for the warmth and gentle laughter.
He’d never been partial to things such as social interaction. Yet he supposed he preferred it to being stuck with nothing but the wallet in his pants and brandy-scented clothes on his back. He rubbed his arms and hunched down as someone tripped over him on their way up the stairs for the umpteenth time.
The music started to change, the slow trickle of people entering changed into a flood, and he had to move from his spot on the stairs to the corner beside the door. A few minutes after the crowd had finally ebbed, a familiar figure dipped onto the stair landing. The longhaired bartender pulled out a cigarette from his coat pocket, lighting it with a practiced ease. He took a drag and glanced back at Kyuhyun. He did a double take, nearly dropping his cigarette in surprise.
“What the hell are you still here for?” He snapped, “don’t you have something better to do than drive away our customers?”
“You seem to have a pretty good crowd, even with me here.”
The bartender gave a bark of a laugh. “You know nothing about good crowds, then.”
Kyuhyun shrugged, getting to his feet stiffly. “Not really, no.” He said breezily, distracted by the man’s red hair in the lamp light. The man looked like he could either be a rock star, or in one of those boy bands.
The bartender took a drag of his cigarette and held out his hand to Kyuhyun, “Heechul.” He blew smoke in Kyuhyun’s face after he took it.
“Kyuhyun,” he choked out, inhaling the secondhand smoke. Heechul’s hand was far rougher than he imagined that it would feel.
“Kyuhyun,” Heechul rolled his name around flicking ashes to the ground, “Korean.”
“American,” Kyuhyun automatically added on.
“Really?” Heechul stated sarcastically, “aren’t we all?” He took another drag. “Why are you still here?” Heechul asked again, annoyed.
Kyuhyun sighed, waving his phone at the man. “My parents dumped me here and then disconnected my phone and my card.” He’d checked it at an ATM down the street a while ago, after he’d first found out. He must have looked miserable, because Heechul started laughing at him.
“So you’re waiting around here for someone to come back?” He looked Kyuhyun over, and he felt naked suddenly, under Heechul’s intense stare. “What a load,” Heechul cackled, crushing the butt of his cigarette under his heel. “So now you’re a bum.”
Kyuhyun nodded, sneering at the matter of fact tone that Heechul used. “Yeah, I guess I am.”
Heechul took a cigarette out of his pocket and flicked it at him. “Here, have a fag.” He smirked, “you’re going to need it.” With that, he turned on his heel and started back inside.
Staring blankly at his back, Kyuhyun held the “fag” between his thumb and forefinger loosely, as though it were going to light on fire and burn him. He’d never smoked, he’d never dared too—it would ruin his voice, or that was what his vocal instructor said.
“Yah,” Heechul’s voice was sharp as the man turned around. “If you need a light for that and are still here when I’m off, you can ask for one.”
Kyuhyun scoffed at Heechul’s offer, but as he disappeared back to work, he rolled the cylinder between his fingers thoughtfully. Perhaps he would try it. After all, this was a night for new things. And his family did abandon him here, after all. What sort of family left their only son (and heir to their corporation) to rot on the street. What if he got robbed? He might be left out here long enough to grow a beard, and then what?
He pulled his legs to his chest and wrapped his arms around him, leaning against the cold brick wall of the corner. On the other side of the wall, there were people having a grand old time, getting drunk. In the mean time, he was thrown out for doing nothing.
Life was definitely, definitely grand. He’d never felt so along in his young life than he had in this moment. There was no comforting mother; there was no warmth or reachable happiness. He felt lonelier now than he had the moment he was younger and had performed his first solo on stage. The singular spotlight on him had destroyed his contact with humanity—it had been only him and his voice, alone, before an unreachable world.
Closing his eyes, he let his voice rumble out, softly at first, but growing stronger slowly. There was nothing like a song to comfort oneself, at least in his lifetime. Ruin his perfect voice with the sardonic call of nicotine? Never.
The next thing he knew, he was being shaken awake by a pair of rough hands. “Yah!” He blearily glanced up and caught sight of a flash of red against the flickering light. “Get up! What the fuck are you sleeping here for?” He was yanked to his feet unsteadily and was shoved down the steps. “What if you got mugged, this club doesn’t need a fiasco like that on its hands, idiot!”
In a sleepy haze, he was yanked along busy sidewalk rapidly. The New York crowds crushed in on his sides, the lights and noise overwhelming. By the time Heechul stopped at the end of the block to let a slew of taxi’s zip by, he had regained enough consciousness to be coherent.
“Where are you taking me?” He asked, adjusting his coat.
“My apartment,” Heechul yanked him across the street, turning the corner and continuing down the road. Kyuhyun stopped dead. Heechul whipped his head around, shouting at him. “Look you idiot, you have the worth of a spilled drink and a wasted cigarette to me. Don’t ruin things for yourself by opening your pathetic mouth.”
The bartender yanked him up the stairs into an apartment complex that looked remarkably just like all the other homes on the street. Heechul checked his mailbox, snatching a few bills from the inside of the box before climbing upstairs. He kicked at the door, waiting for it to be opened as he read through them.
“What, is he not here?” Heechul complained, digging for his keys. The door opened earlier, a sleepy figure blinking at them with a frown on his face. His dark hair was pulled into a pony tail that was too short and made his hair stick up, with contrasting manly proportions, accented by the collarbone visible from the collar of his white shirt.
“Morning,” he smiled, laughing at Heechul’s distress. Heechul elbowed past him, heading straight for the kitchen. Kyuhyun stared after him, and then smiled at the roommate, who was currently scratching his back and giving him a bemused look.
“Who’s your friend Heechul?” He asked, gesturing for Kyuhyun to come in idly and shutting the door behind him. The apartment had a nice air to it, looking far better than he’d imagined one to be. It wasn’t too cluttered, it seemed open, and everything was organized just so on the shelves. They even had an old record player on one of them. Then, his knowledge of the typical New York flat was RENT, and that wasn’t exactly accurate any longer.
“Some kid who got dumped on our doorstep at the bar.”
The roommate snorted, giving Kyuhyun an onceover with his dark eyes, a hand on his chin. “So you’re playing the Good Samaritan and bringing the lost puppy home.” He dodged the fork thrown at his head deftly, as though it were an everyday occurrence (from Kyuhyun’s limited knowledge of Heechul, it seemed likely).
“I can speak for myself,” Kyuhyun snarled, reaching a hand out to the tall roommate. “Hello, I’m Kyuhyun, sorry for the inconvenience.”
“Geunsuk,” the man introduced, giving his hand a firm shake. “It’s not a bother; I’m headed out soon for the theater anyway.” He jerked his head in Heechul’s direction. “Some people don’t stay out until five in the morning.”
Heechul snarled at him from behind the counter where he was cooking something on the stove. Geunsuk’s gave a boisterous laugh and disappeared down the hallway. “Don’t burn your ramen this time.”
Heechul stirred the ramen on the stove with an angry expression. Awkwardly, Kyuhyun pulled out his phone and tried to call his folks again, just to get the same message. He sighed, stuffing his hands into his pockets. He pulled out the cigarette, a bit squished, but miraculously still intact.
“Can I have a light?” He asked, leaning up against the counter bar.
Heechul couldn’t help but smirk, pressing the tip against the stove fire until it lit. Kyuhyun stared at the burning end, watching the smoke spiral up for a moment, wondering what the fuck he was doing. Then he put it between his lips and took a long drag.
There was a moment of absolute bitterness, and then he choked on his own breath, jerking as he tried to take a clean breath, Heechul’s snickers floating around him. He lifted his head after the coughs finally ended, red in the face from embarrassment and lack of breath.
“This is your first time, isn’t it?” Heechul cackled, taking the cigarette and taking a long, expert drag. Kyuhyun wondered how he made it look so easy. “Here’s a hint,” Heechul’s eyebrows waggled at him. “Don’t swallow it.”
He handed it back, and Kyuhyun tried again, breathing the smoke out instead of swallowing (it was harder than it seemed). He focused on not coughing, but he ended up choking in the end anyway. Heechul patted him on the shoulder with a sneer. “The first one’s always like this.” He turned back to the stove, busying himself.
There was a silence, only interrupted by Kyuhyun’s odd bursts of coughing. By the final drag he managed to keep from coughing. Feeling rather much like a newbie, he dropped the butt into the ashtray as Heechul dropped a bowl of ramen in front of him complete with a pair of chopsticks.
“Cigarettes give you cancer,” Heechul said, pulling up a stool across from Kyuhyun and scooping noodles into his mouth. Kyuhyun sneered at him, turning to his own noodles in silence. Geunsuk chose that moment to reenter, fully dressed and with his hair falling around his face.
“Your noodles give me cancer,” Geunsuk joked, grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge and making himself a sandwich.
Heechul threw a limp noodle at him and Geunsuk made a face. “Now I can see why Jay and Hankyung all left, no one wants your abuse.” Heechul made to throw the entire bowl at him but Geunsuk ran off with half a sandwich, leaving the apartment and taking his icebreaking laugh with him.
“You can sleep on the couch,” Heechul nearly snarled, pushing a pillow and blanket into Kyuhyun’s arms. “In the morning you can use our phone to call your folks and get out of my house.” He left Kyuhyun alone in the living room, with only the running of the fridge and a ticking clock on some wall to keep him company.
He woke up to a heavy weight on his chest. His eyes flickering open, he found himself staring up at crimson hair again, midday sun streaming in through the window. “Hi.” He greeted, wondering if everything from the night before was a dream, or if he was still dreaming.
Heechul rolled his eyes at him, waving the phone in his face. He took it, smirking. “Tired of me already?” He asked, curious.
“Bored to death,” Heechul replied, lounging on the other end of the couch with his feet on Kyuhyun’s abdomen.
Kyuhyun dialed the number from memory and put the speaker to his ear. His mom’s voice met his ear. “Mom, what are you—“ There was a gasp and a click, and then nothing but the dial tone. Scowling, he hung up the phone and stared at Heechul helplessly.
“They hung up on you?”
Kyuhyun rolled his eyes at Heechul’s snide tone. The redhead dug his toes into Kyuhyun’s abdomen. “Of course,” he pushed Heechul’s feet off him and stood up, stretching his stiff muscles. He slept in his suit pants and his dress undershirt. He’d draped his blazer over the back of the couch before he’d fallen asleep, and now there was a grey cat lounging on it.
“You sing, don’t you?” Kyuhyun blinked at the odd question, not that he didn’t mind the distraction; it was nice compared to the stone in his stomach.
“I guess.” He smirked. “I took lessons, but I’m supposed to go for accounting.”
Heechul rolled his eyes. “Let me guess, you’re the heir to some CEO of the corporate world and are going to inherit the company, continue the family legacy and ignore all of your dreams because paperwork is amazing, right?”
Kyuhyun opened his mouth, but then closed it with a frown. Heechul eyed him over his nails. “You take too deep of breaths when you stretch to be anything but a singer, and your singing is oddly good in your sleep.”
“How do you know?” Kyuhyun asked, unable to help his blush.
“You slept here,” Heechul snorted, then reached over and groped him. Kyuhyun jumped away but Heechul withdrew with what he’d wanted—his wallet. “Nice quality,” the man complimented, flipping it open and pulling out he bills folded inside. “Since you’re staying here, I’ll just take these for your share of the rent.”
“You can’t just take my money; it’s all I have left.” Kyuhyun complained. Heechul just flapped the bills in his face and sauntered away. “Well can I at least get a shower?” He whined. There was at least $200 there. He may have been stranded, but he didn’t go anywhere without cash—just in case.
Time continued like this for two days, Kyuhyun slept on the couch, started making ramen for Heechul, grew addicted to cigarettes with coffee, screwed up his sleeping schedule, got a new wardrobe (thanks to Heechul), ate a lot of ramen, and went with Heechul to the Shipmate every night.
He grew used to Heechul’s oddities, fell in this odd rhythm of a lack of structure—the bohemian lifestyle that Heechul and Geunsuk seemed to live. He also fell in love with the Beatles overnight, and started going through the old cassettes that they had while he was there.
While he was shaving in the bathroom, Heechul caught him singing. One minute he was alone, shaving and singing “Hey Jude”, the next Heechul was hanging off the doorframe clad only in a pair of dark jeans. He nearly sliced himself with the razor.
“You know, for as much of an ass as you are, your voice saves you.”
Kyuhyun smirked at him through the mirror. “I’m killing my voice with these cigarettes, I can feel it already.”
Heechul gave a bark of a laugh. “It gives it texture, texture is good.”
Kyuhyun wiped the excess shaving cream off his chin with the white towel around his neck and dropped it onto the dry rack. “Until I can’t hit those high notes without cracking.”
Heechul waved a hand with a scoff. “You don’t need to; you’ll be well on your way to being a rock star if you stay here.”
“You think I could really drop everything and do something like that?” Heechul scowled at Kyuhyun’s sarcasm. “I’m not like you, I’m not a normal person.” He pulled a grey print shirt on over his head. “I’m not allowed to dream.”
Heechul pushed him against the wall so suddenly that he almost fell into the shower. “Everyone is allowed to dream.” Oddly enough, Kyuhyun suddenly had the overwhelming urge to kiss Heechul senseless. He shook the urge away.
“Not me.” He deadpanned. He’d told himself that he was someone who was going to be able to have real dreams. His future was his father’s company, nothing more, nothing less. “I don’t want any sort of dreams to make it harder for me when I don’t accomplish them.”
He made to leave but Heechul pushed him firmly against the wall, holding him there with hands against the sides of his cheeks. Hot lips pressed against his so suddenly that he didn’t quite get the grasp of what happened before Heechul had already pulled away.
“If you don’t dream I’ll kick you out.” Heechul deadpanned when he pulled away.
Kyuhyun gaped, eyes wide, until long after Heechul had started to apply shaving cream to his own chin. “Oh,” he finally breathed, leaning over and awkwardly grasping Heechul’s lathered chin and pressing a kiss against his lips. He tasted like shaving cream. Pulling away to Heechul’s snickers, he wiped his face off again and stormed out, annoyed.
That night they slept together, in the sense that night was day now and Heechul was too exhausted after work to do much more than kiss him on the cheek and curl around him into sleep. Kyuhyun realized that Heechul had a soft heart, too. It was just hidden underneath layers of sarcasm and bitterness.
Just like every New Yorker, really.
Kyuhyun threaded Heechul’s hair between his fingers in a sort of mindless trance. From the sunlight streaming in through cracks in the blinds, Heechul’s hair glowed. He pressed his lips against the locks, a certain shimmer in his chest. He suddenly wanted to dream, and walk through Central Park with Heechul, and read literature instead of accounting, and listen to Dylan and learn guitar, and smoke cigarettes and sing, even if his high notes cracked and his voice turned as hoarse as a mooing cow.
He wouldn’t mind. He wouldn’t mind waking up at five in the evening instead of five in the morning. He wouldn’t mind living like this, with Heechul, and Heechul’s annoying cat, and Geunsuk, the roommate who was sure to be on Broadway.
He’d just drifted off to sleep when his cell phone rang. Moaning, he groped for it without opening his eyes. Heechul shifted in his arms and jabbed him with a sharp elbow. Wincing, he brought it to his ear. “ ‘lo?” He mumbled, eyes snapping open. “Dad!” He abruptly sat upright, overturning the other figure on the mattress.
”Hello Kyuhyun, are you well?”
“Yes, sir,” he cleared his throat, trying to sound more awake.
”Well son, I have a confession to make.” The man on the other end cleared his throat. Kyuhyun felt a stone of dread well in his chest as he made to pull himself out of bed. Heechul’s hand on his wrist stopped him.
Before his father could finish his sentence, Heechul plucked the phone out of Kyuhyun’s hand and put it to his ear. “Hello Mr. Cho, since you abandoned your socially lacking son on my doorstep, I’ve taken him under my wing and fucked him silly, so now you can’t have him back, okay?”
Kyuhyun choked on his tongue, his mouth dropping open as Heechul listened intently to whatever his father was saying. “Yeah, yeah I’ll tell him.” Heechul smirked. “Now if you don’t mind, we are going back to bed. He’s gonna stay here then, if things are going to be like this.” Heechul gave a bright grin, “of course, Dad!” He chimed, and then hung up.
“Did you just tell my father we did the one thing we haven’t done?” Heechul shrugged, slewing his arms around Kyuhyun’s shoulders and dragging him down into the abyss of their bed.
“It’ll happen before he sees you, I’m sure.” He pressed his lips against the corner of Kyuhyun’s lip and curled against him.
“So what did he say, then?” Kyuhyun asked, his eyes heavy. Heechul’s fingers traced his cheekbones idly.
“Oh, don’t take this to hard,” Heechul snarked, “but your dad found someone he wants to be his heir better than you, but he didn’t know how to break it to you so he dumped you in front of our bar to see if you’d find something you liked more.”
Kyuhyun gave a dark chuckle. “Well I guess he’s right.”
“Yeah, I definitely like sleeping here better than the stairwell.”
His snickers were cut off when Heechul pinched his cheek painfully. He’d wake with odd bruises for the rest of his life, and he’d probably get cancer from his new addictions, but he didn’t mind, not anymore. He never much liked the daylight, anyway.
note: written for hellohyukjae in the sjrarepairings challenge. reposted here for archiving. hope you all enjoy it. ♥