“Ryeowook! Move these outfits to room 3A please!”
“Ryeowook! Do you have the thing I asked for yesterday?”
“Yes, it’s in my bag!”
“Well hurry up and send it to room 2E, we need it for the next photoshoot!”
“Ryeowook! Have you seen Jul Hee?”
“Then go find him please!”
“U-Um... but I just...”
This is how Kim Ryeowook’s day usually starts off.
The minute he walks into Lucky Guy Modelling Agency where he works, he is bombarded with commands and requests. Being one of the studio’s residual ‘errand boys’, his job description may as well be described as a “handyman”. He does everything, from cleaning the studios after working hours and rescuing the President’s kitten from being stuck a tree.
But Ryeowook never complains, because he is a good-natured boy with a big heart and a penchant for helping others. Bashful as he is, he does his work with a certain enthusiasm that makes the others around him feel inherently grateful for his presence. He was a favourite, though artists being so never really gave him the credit he deserved, instead showing their affection towards him by giving him more and more menial tasks. Ryeowook’s work burden was heavy and taxing, but at the end of the day, working at the agency does have its perks.
One of them is having the chance to meet his idol face to face.
It is not well-known to others around him, but Ryeowook is a huge fan of Cho Kyuhyun, one of the agency’s newest models. Tall, youthful and charming in a way that humbles himself to others, Kyuhyun is quickly rising to be the agency’s most valuable asset. It certainly helps that Kyuhyun has an aura of quiet mystery around him, matching his clean, plain-but-handsome looks, making him a popular choice in recent contracts with various small-time companies. Though he has not reached the big leagues he is definitely skirting the borders, as although his contracts are small-time, there is an abundance of them. It is said to be inevitable that he will be modelling amongst the big stars soon, and there is no doubt in Ryeowook’s mind that his idol will achieve that goal.
Just thinking about him makes Ryeowook feel slightly giddy. Kyuhyun is the epitome of everything he wants to be. Ryeowook always felt that he is a bit short, and awkward with others. He has cheekbones that are way too high, that people always made a connection with him and that one painting by Edvard Munch. He also has a very unimpressive background, having lived the past twenty-two years of his life in a small hick town far away from bustling Seoul, and that the only reason he is here now is because he needed an income to support his tuition fees. Being a student in one of Seoul’s music academies really sucks money from his low-income parents, so he decided that he must support them and pay his tuition fees himself.
After dropping off the prop he was asked to bring to room 2E, Ryeowook left his bag in a locker in the staff rooms and quickly set off to find Jul Hee. Han Jul Hee is currently the agency’s most prominent model, and also the most egoistic. Ryeowook dislikes the man for a reason. Jul Hee always maltreats his manager and the errand boys, Ryeowook included. One of his favourite past-times is to make Ryeowook buy his lunch from a delicatessen five blocks away, and most times Ryeowook discovers – after having run all the way to bring the food back within Jul Hee’s rest period – that the manager has already bought the food anyway, making Ryeowook’s efforts totally unnecessary. Simply said, the errand boys always stay clear of him unless he wants something of them, and whatever Jul Hee wants, he gets. That’s the golden rule in the agency, according to the President himself.
After checking the men’s room, the offices and the lobby, finding Jul Hee nowhere in these areas, Ryeowook is beginning to lose hope. Besides being a complete pain in the rump, Jul Hee is rumoured to be very familiar with the building layout of the agency. So familiar, in fact, that it is said to be impossible to find him once he wanders off. He knows all the little hideouts, alcoves and secret places, which staircases are locked at what time, so on and so forth. Ryeowook lets out a small sigh. But he’s not defeated yet! He still has a good twenty minutes to find Jul Hee before the photoshoot starts—
“RYEOWOOK! Where are the outfits that were supposed to be carted to room 3A?!” He cringes. Of course, there has to be something cropping up at these last crucial minutes. Anyway, how could he have forgotten?! Turning around to apologize earnestly to the set manager, he quickly ran to the studio a few floors to the top of the building and grabs the outfits, before thundering down the stairs to hand them to the model preparing herself in room 3A. He barely makes it and manages to escape the model’s wrath because of course, besides being ‘handymen’, errand boys also qualify as outlets for aggression and stress.
Stopping to regain his composure, Ryeowook glances at the clock and dimly realizes that he only has ten more minutes to find Jul Hee before shooting starts. He is never going to make it! He decides to hedge all his bets on the rooftop lookout. It is a popular hang-out for staff and models alike seeking to take a break from the rush of work, and it is where Ryeowook hopes to find Jul Hee. Again taking the stairs, he practically jets his way up to the top, bursting into the open space though the unlocked door.
The perfect blue of the mid-morning sky dazzles him for a moment, before he scans the area for signs of Jul Hee’s signature platinum blonde hair. There he is!, thought Ryeowook, seeing the man a little ways away from the door. But he is not alone. Gasping, Ryeowook realizes that standing near Jul Hee is none other than Kyuhyun himself, his short brown hair slightly tousled in the gentle breeze. He is momentarily struck speechless. Maybe his mind is playing tricks with him, but Ryeowook senses a slight tinge of hostility in the air. Strangely though, both men are smiling, so Ryeowook hopes that his gut feeling is wrong for once.
“Ah, Jul Hee-sshi, there you are. Your photoshoot is starting in a few minutes, so please hurry to the studio!”
Jul Hee looks at Ryeowook and the expression on his face tells the errand boy that he did not notice his arrival at all. Nodding once, Jul Hee turns back to Kyuhyun and shakes his hand firmly, his grin widening a sickening amount. “Well, Kyuhyun, it was nice talking to you. Keep up the good work.” He strides past Ryeowook down the stairs, and the errand boy could have sworn that he heard a quiet ‘Tch!’ from him.
What could have possibly happened between them...?
The silence hanging in the air alerts Ryeowook that he is standing alone on the roof with Kyuhyun, of all people, and that brought him back to the present. That is, only to find that Kyuhyun is somehow standing in front of him, the previously edgy smile easing into a soft smirk. Ryeowook jumps a little, peeking over his shoulder to see if there is anyone behind him that Kyuhyun is directing the smirk to, but finding no-one. Turning back, he sees that Kyuhyun is still staring at him and smirking, and with the passing of each second Ryeowook thinks that his heart rate probably increased by about ten beats.
“Uh... um... y-yes?”
Kyuhyun’s smirk grew more slanted, and the other end of his lips starts to quirk as well. “Sorry, I didn’t realize that I needed a password to get past to the stairs.”
Ryeowook blinked. Then he remembers that he has been blocking the exit to the stairs for the past minute. He leaps backwards in shock and trips, losing his footing and almost falling down the steep stairs as a result... if it was not for Kyuhyun’s quick reflexes in catching his hand just as he was about to find reason to make an appointment with his GP. “Whoa! Are you okay?” Kyuhyun’s voice sounds heavy with concern, and Ryeowook feels extremely embarrassed to have showed a display of clumsiness in front of his idol.
“I... I’m f-fine! I’m very sorry! Um... goodbye!” Ryeowook skipped quickly down the stairs to get away from Kyuhyun, hiding his flushed face from the other because really, he could not be any more embarrassed that he already is! After safely finding his way back to the lobby and catching his breath, he realizes that he forgot to say his thanks to Kyuhyun for saving him from the fall. Aish! He sighs loudly, knowing that if his mother knows about it that she would nag him to no end. He forgot his manners!
However, for the rest of the day, he could not find the tall model to deliver his thanks. Despite being busy himself, Ryeowook finds that Kyuhyun has apparently gone out to socialize with his contractors with his manager, effectively rendering him inaccessible for the rest of the day. At the end of his workday, Ryeowook could not help but feel that he left something very important unfinished. He has to find Kyuhyun tomorrow and thank him!
While he is studying in Seoul, Ryeowook stays with his older cousin Park Jungsoo. Though that is his given name, Ryeowook calls his cousin “Leeteuk” because he really is that special. Carefree and extremely likable, Leeteuk is an out-of-closet homosexual and frequently teases Ryeowook about his little ‘infatuation’ with Kyuhyun (though really, Ryeowook claims that his idolization is really not so ‘rose-coloured’). They live together in a moderately-spacious apartment two bus rides away from the agency, in a good neighbourhood because Leeteuk’s partnership in a law firm really gives him a lot of money to throw around. He has even offered to financially support Ryeowook with his tuition fees but the younger man refused to take his money. Ryeowook likes to be independent whenever he could.
Getting off the bus with a tired step, Ryeowook begins the slow trudge home. Autumn is nearing its end, and the cold tendrils of winter snap anxiously at his ankles. He buried his exposed nose in the scarf he had previously wounded tightly around his neck and tucked his bare hands in his pockets. Idly he wondered if Leeteuk’s lover would be there when he arrives at the apartment later. Choi Siwon likes to drop in during cold nights to ‘seek warmth’ as Leeteuk puts it. Ryeowook has reservations about Siwon in the beginning – as he does with all men with eight-digit incomes – but Siwon turned out to be an extremely nice guy. He frequently presents Leeteuk with expensive gifts and new fashion apparel from his privately-owned men’s clothes shop, and sometimes that means freebies for Ryeowook too, if he could find anything with his size. Leeteuk once laughed at the state of Ryeowook’s stuffed wardrobe, comparing it with the small suitcase he had brought over from his hometown a year ago containing only a measly few pairs of clothes.
Arriving at the compound, Ryeowook checks the parking lot. The absence of Siwon’s dark blue Aston Martin means that it will just be him and Leeteuk in the apartment today. Greeting the concierge with a quiet “Anyeong haseyo” Ryeowook keys in the passcode to get into the secure building and whistles as the door whizzes smoothly open. He remembers the first time he arrived here when Leeteuk had to show him how everything worked. He’s gotten the hang of it now, thanks to his cousin, but the sudden transition from country to city sometimes catches up with him, and that would be when even a simple “push the button to unlock the door” sequence becomes completely befuddling.
Leeteuk lives on the fifth floor of the apartment building, simply because being too low is “boring” but being too high is “dangerous”. Ryeowook’s room faces the sunrise and it is invigorating to wake up to a room accented in the youthful yellow of sunlight in the morning, and come home to the same room awash in orange nearing dusk. He loves the changing colours. However, it is already night now and he has missed the orange glow of the sunset. He feels suddenly sorry that he did.
The elevator dings to signify that they have reached fifth floor. Ryeowook got out his keycard and swiped it against the detector. He keyed in another passcode before the door finally unlocks and grants him access. But as he walks into the apartment, his ears pick up a noise he is uncomfortably familiar with.
He stands temporarily motionless, trying to judge where the moans are coming from. It is sort of faint so he presumes that they are in the shower. Wiping away unclean thoughts from his mind, he tries to be silent as he tiptoes to his room, but he forgets to close the front door properly and it bangs shut behind him. The loud noise is apparently heard by the couple in the bathroom, judging by the way the moans and groans suddenly stopped. Ryeowook blanches and grumbles a hissed “Aish!” under his breath.
“...Wookie ah? Is that you?” Leeteuk’s breathless voice echoes from inside the bathroom. Ryeowook chooses to keep silent, hoping that it will make them resume whatever they were doing before his interruption. He quickly continues his tiptoeing.
But just before he reaches his room, the bathroom door abruptly opens to reveal Siwon, topless and wet, his bare chest gleaming. He looks surprised to see Ryeowook mid-stance in his tiptoe. “Ah! It was him!” Leeteuk peeks out from behind his lover to wave at Ryeowook, who produces a groan of his own at being found out.
“Why didn’t you answer me, Wookie? Siwon thought a burglar got in.”
“I didn’t want to interrupt...” Siwon and Leeteuk both laugh at the cowed look on Ryeowook’s face. “Never mind me, you guys can just... get on with it...”
“Oh no way, now that my Wookie’s back, we’re gonna be all nice and well-behaved, right Siwon?”
“Huh? Uh, sure. I guess. Should we... clean...?”
“Well, I’m not going to let you pitch a tent in the living room when my baby cousin’s around, so of course we will. Be right back, Wookie. Oh, what are we having for dinner?” Leeteuk flashes Ryeowook a disturbingly adorable smile. The younger man dithered for a while. He would have loved to cook for them, but... today, he feels extremely tired. He tells this to Leeteuk, who immediately scrunches his eyebrows in worry. “Are you sure you’re okay? Alright, give me a few minutes, and we can talk.”
The door closes again and not long after that Ryeowook hears Leeteuk’s signature laughter, followed by an apparently rambunctious Siwon trying to hose down their ‘tents’, so to speak. Ryeowook covered his ears and shut himself in his room.
After ordering takeout from the local restaurant, the three men settled into the living room with Leeteuk and Ryeowook on the same couch and Siwon in the armchair. Leeteuk has one arm around his ‘baby’ cousin’s shoulders and the other playing with the younger man’s hair. Ryeowook entails the events of the day to him, grateful for his attention. When it came to the event with Kyuhyun, he stopped for a moment, to take a calming breath.
“Kyuhyun saved me from falling down the stairs today.”
Leeteuk raises his eyebrows in surprise. “Oh, wow. Sounds dramatic! How did it happen?”
“Um, I was standing at the door to the stairs. He wanted to get past, but I didn’t notice him coming up to me. When I did, I jumped away, because he was so close, but I misjudged my step and slipped. He got me before I went too far back. ”
It was Siwon’s turn to raise his eyebrows. “He got you how?”
“He took hold of my hand. He really has a strong grip.”
Leeteuk checked his cousin’s wrist for any injury. “Is your wrist okay? He didn’t pull too hard, did he?” He could be a bit of a worry-wart sometimes, but he is more adamant in worrying when it comes to Ryeowook and Siwon’s safety and well-being. Ryeowook can testify to this; once, he scraped his knee while jogging with his cousin, and when they got home Leeteuk swabbed the wound with alcohol, spread ointment over it, covered it with a thick patch of cotton, bandaged it five rounds, wrapped it with Clingfilm on top of the bandage (much to Ryeowook’s confusion) and even gave Ryeowook a crutch to use while it healed. Another time, Siwon sprained his ankle and was given the same treatment, but added to that he was also confined to Leeteuk’s bed and was not allowed to go back to his house or to work for about a week.
Though Siwon probably enjoyed all the attention he must have been getting.
“He didn’t, hyung. Well, even if he did, it would’ve been better than falling and cracking my head on the steps! But I got so embarrassed that I forgot to thank him.”
Leeteuk frowned disapprovingly. “Wookie! I thought auntie taught you better than that.”
“She did! I just... panicked, I guess. I mean, he was so close, hyung...”
Siwon laughed. “Give him a break, Teukie. He just survived a confrontation with his crush. We should be understanding...” Ryeowook threw a pillow at him.
“You guys are mean! I don’t like him that way! I just think that being a man; he has unbelievably good genes, that’s all.”
His cousin snickered good-naturedly. “That kind of talk is so old-fashioned, Wookie. What’s wrong with admitting that you like him just a little bit?” Ryeowook pouts, being stubborn. Leeteuk swipes his chin affectionately.
“Chagiah, do you think I’ve got ‘unbelievably good’ genes too?” Siwon tilts his head and lands Leeteuk with his most adorable grin. Ryeowook found out long ago that Leeteuk’s weakness is when a handsome man like Siwon does something cute – his cousin really could not defend himself against cute things. Leeteuk kicks his lover in the shins.
“Quiet, you. We’ll just see how good your genes are in bed tonight.”
“Urgh, guys, really, I don’t need to be hearing this!” Ryeowook covers his ears with his hands, earning another bout of laughter from Siwon and Leeteuk.
Just then, there is a call from the concierge saying that their takeout has arrived. Siwon goes off to fetch it, while Leeteuk pats his younger cousin’s back, telling him to stay on the couch. “You just rest for a bit while we prepare things in the kitchen. After dinner you can go straight to bed, okay? You have classes in the morning.” Leeteuk smiles and pinches Ryeowook’s cheeks. “Don’t worry, Wookie. You’ll feel better once you say thanks to Kyuhyun-sshi tomorrow.”
“Yeah. Thanks hyung. I love you.”
Leeteuk ruffles Ryeowook’s hair affectionately. “I love you too, dongsaeng.”
Ryeowook wakes up late the next day and has to forego the long bus ride for a ride in Siwon’s car. The older man had stored it in Leeteuk’s garage, cramming his Aston Martin behind Leeteuk’s Hyundai. After buckling himself in the passenger’s seat, Ryeowook turns on the radio while Siwon kisses Leeteuk goodbye outside the driver’s door. The opening tune of the morning news segment is playing.
“Good morning Korea. This is Choi Seok-Bae, your newscaster for Seoul FM. On to today’s news. Popular men’s clothes retailer ‘Namja’ announces their winter lineup at the prestigious Kookje Fashion School as a move to promote the company’s dedication to advancement in fashion education—“
Ryeowook lowers the volume as Siwon gets into the car, waving goodbye to his lover. “Hyung, are you attending your company’s showcase today?”
Siwon pulls out of the compound slowly as he maps out the route to Ryeowook’s academy in his head. “Ah, no, I have business somewhere else. Why do you ask?”
“Well, Kookje is close to my academy. I think I might drop in, just to look around.”
“That’s a good idea! I’m sure Donghae would love to see you.”
“Ah, Donghae-hyung will be there? Awesome!” Ryeowook bounces in his seat in excitement, making Siwon smile at his antics.