Blind by: Phoenix_Soar

blind.jpg

  • a SuHoon (Suwon x Sunghoon) fanfic
  • on-going
  • from asianfanfics

Description

The first time they met, Suwon took one look at Sunghoon’s eyes and knew he meant trouble. When they meet again twenty years later, Sunghoon looks at him with the same eyes and Suwon wishes he were blind – blind to Sunghoon and his feelings for which he has no answer.

Foreword

Title: Blind
Pairing: Sunghoon/Suwon
Genre: Romance, Friendship, Humour(?), Drama(??)
Warnings: Slight coarse language, Sensuality
Rating: PG-13

Notes: I never thought I’d write fic for Sechskies but here we are and this is absolute trash. This is nothing but shameless, self-indulgent trash and I can’t even bring myself to feel sorry about it. 

To anyone that might be here, reading this thing written for the near non-existent pairing of the maknaes – SungWon? SuHoon? WonHoon? I don’t think they even have a couple name! – I hope you enjoy it, nonetheless.

The segments of this fic alternate between the present Sechskies and the Sechskies before they disbanded. I’m not making much attempts at keeping the story in line with actual events, btw, so though this is set in canon, I’m still butchering their past as I please.

Unchanging

Suwon is not blind.

He does not mean it in the literal sense but in perception. He has always picked up on things quickly, discerns people’s feelings easily, and that is a less painful way to live because a life with fewer misunderstandings means a life less troubling.

But then he meets Sunghoon and Suwon kind of wishes that he was blind. Blind in perception because he picks up on Sunghoon’s feelings too easily, discerns his thoughts too quickly – and it is the most troubling thing he has ever faced and he does not know what to do.

The first time he sees Sunghoon is during his audition. The moment he meets his future group mate’s calculating eyes, he just knows that the other is meant to bring him trouble.

It only takes a little while for Suwon to figure out what kind of trouble that is.

Two decades later, when they meet again for the first time in years, Sunghoon looks at him with the same eyes and Suwon realises that it is not only Sunghoon’s looks that remain unchanged.

The realisation sinks in, pressing like a weight down on his chest, and Suwon weakly wishes – just like he did twenty years ago – that he was blind.

Blind to Sunghoon and his feelings for which Suwon still has no answer.

~***~

They first meet as teenagers, but Sunghoon does not feel like one to Suwon. He looks like a teenager, all gangly body and awkward limbs still coming out of adolescence, but there is something mature and shrewd in his gaze as he stares at Suwon when the auditioner calls his name.

As he steps forward to the middle of the small audition room, Suwon thinks he should be paying more attention to the auditioner, who is sitting at the centre of the judges’ table and is obviously the in-charge. Yet he cannot help but be acutely aware of Sunghoon – whose name he will learn later – sitting to the left of the auditioner. He is dragging those sharp eyes of his up and down Suwon’s body, critical and almost invasive in his study, before finally settling on Suwon’s face.

Suwon does not know what that boy is looking for in him, but he knows none of the other judges at the table is making him as uncomfortable as the boy who looks as pretty – as dangerous – as a girl.

There are no questions as to what Suwon has prepared for his audition. The auditioner simply cuts right to the chase.

‘What can you do?’

A part of him is a little stunned. He had expected they would specifically ask to see his singing or dancing skills. Not ask if he has any skills to begin with.

He kind of appreciates the bluntness. Because Suwon is nothing if not blunt.

‘Nothing.’

He feels a swell of satisfaction at the looks on their faces. He can see the questions forming behind their widening eyes – what is this nobody with no talent even doing at an audition? – as they try to hide their discomfiture. The truth is, even Suwon could not have answered them. There is nothing he is particularly good at, but he needs a dream, something to work for, and when DaeSung Enterprise announced their open auditions, he had thrown caution to the wind and sent in his application because what does he have to lose anyway?

At least he’s tried. And he did it with honesty. That’s it, he supposes. This is how his two minutes as an idol hopeful ends.

But then his eyes find the boy beside the auditioner, the boy whose presence seems to carry more weight than the rest of the judges combined, and Suwon is taken aback. The look in the boy’s eyes has changed. The coolness from before is now something warmer and more intense, something Suwon cannot define.

Without removing his heavy stare from Suwon, the boy tips his head closer to the auditioner’s in a gesture that looks almost casually authoritative. He murmurs a few words that Suwon cannot catch.

The auditioner looks surprised but he nods. He briefly thanks Suwon for coming to the audition and – throwing an uncertain glance at the boy to his left – adds that the company will contact Suwon in a few days.

Suwon is stunned. It makes no sense that DaeSung Enterprise is even considering him.

As he bows and stammers his thanks, he sneaks a look at the boy and is immediately caught looking. The boy is still studying him, a slight twist to his lips and a strange gleam in his eyes. Almost like he is pleased.

In that moment, Suwon comprehends what the rest of the auditionees missed: the person who is truly in charge here.

Two weeks later, when he receives a phone call from Daesung Enterprise telling him that he has been picked as a trainee, Suwon already knows who pulled the strings on that decision. He just doesn’t know why.

~***~

Twenty years after their first meeting, Suwon finds that Sunghoon still has that same low-key authority that most people don’t notice about him.

Though it is Suwon and Jaeduk who make the first move to actively push for a Sechskies comeback, contacting all the members they can reach to put the plan in motion, it is ultimately Sunghoon that physically gathers them all together. He is the one who decides on a date for them to meet, makes arrangements and books a private room at some fancy restaurant, sends unnecessary (but secretly appreciated) reminders to everyone twenty-four hours before their get-together, and he is the first one on the scene.

Suwon is the second member to arrive and he is a bundle of frazzled nerves as the restaurant’s hostess escorts him to the room. He hesitates for a full minute outside the door, staring at the polished wood as he tries to picture the people on the other side.

Jiyong had gone completely off their radar, but Suwon has met Jaeduk and Jiwon, and seen Sunghoon (and rarely Jaejin) on television now and then over the years. And yet, he strangely cannot imagine what they must look like now. His mind only supplies images of what they used to look like fifteen years ago, before they disbanded.

Taking a deep breath, he finally pushes open the door and –

Suwon freezes. For a moment, he thinks that he really must have stepped through some portal into the past. Sitting at the table directly across from him is Kang Sunghoon and he looks exactly like the boy Suwon remembers from nearly twenty years ago.

He forgets to breathe for a second or two.

‘Suwon.’

His name is a heavy thing that hangs in the air between them, weighed down by emotions saturating a voice that Suwon has not heard in so long. A voice that, too, has remain unchanged.

And then Sunghoon stands up from his seat and Suwon sees that, past his face and dyed blond hair, he is no longer the lanky youth Suwon parted with half a lifetime ago but very much a man. He still looks as good as Suwon remembers – better, in fact, with that perpetual youth and beauty of his – but the arms that wrap around Suwon in a hug are strong and the lean body pressing against him is all muscle. When Sunghoon pulls back to smile at him, Suwon notices the crow’s-feet at the corners of Sunghoon’s dark eyes and the squareness of his jaw – proof that time has, indeed, passed. Nearly sixteen years of it.

‘Suwon-ah…’ He has drawn away from the embrace, but his hands are still on Suwon’s hips as he continues to smile at him.

It is one of those smiles that earned Sunghoon the title of ‘Killer Smile’ back in their idol days. The smile that Suwon did not see during his audition, was in fact not privy to seeing until their group was complete and Sunghoon finally satisfied with the members he chose.

He feels a little derailed to have that smile aimed solely at him out of the blue. He has forgotten how disarming it can be.

‘You look good,’ Sunghoon tells him and Suwon almost laughs. The words are sincere, but they still sound like a lie coming from someone who looks like, well, like Sunghoon.

‘I should be the one saying that,’ Suwon replies, taking a small step back to dislodge Sunghoon’s hands from him. ‘How come you haven’t changed one bit?’

‘You don’t mean that,’ Sunghoon chuckles, ducking his head for a moment. ‘Of course I’ve changed.’

Suwon has to agree though he doesn’t admit it. Sunghoon still looks unfairly young; he could claim to be in his twenties and people unacquainted with him would believe it. But he has filled out and there is a different quality to his looks now. “Pretty” is no longer a word that suits him, Suwon thinks as he searches for a better description. “Cute” has always been Jaeduk hyung and “handsome” are Jiwon hyung and the Jiyong he remembers, but Sunghoon now is –

The closest adjective Suwon can think of is “beautiful”. Beautiful like Jaejin hyung but still different.

Suwon would not have called Sunghoon beautiful before.

He realises too late that he has been staring at Sunghoon throughout his mental monologue and now Sunghoon is gazing back, bold and unflinching. His smile has dimmed to something more reserved, but the look in his eyes is more intense now. Feverish and aggressive in a way that has nothing to do with dislike.

Suwon knows that look. It is what had evolved from that first unnerving stare Sunghoon gave him during that audition so many years ago, a look Suwon has received countless times throughout the years they worked together.

His mouth goes dry.

He and Sunghoon are friends and colleagues above anything else, but he knows that Sunghoon had not always looked at him in that light. Suwon had been a friend and a colleague to Sunghoon but also something else – something left undefined in a dark place that never saw light.

And now, he can see that that has also remained unchanged. Even after all this time.

Sunghoon parts his lips and moves as if to step closer to Suwon, his eyes roving hungrily over his face. But then the door opens again and Suwon has never been more relieved to see Lee Jaejin in his life.

Exhaling a breath he did not realise he was holding, Suwon breaks into a grin and greets his hyung, glad for the excuse to turn away from Sunghoon and whatever he had tried to say, to do. He is even gladder when Eun Jiwon and Kim Jaeduk appear on Jaejin’s heels and the atmosphere in the room becomes something he can finally breathe and feel comfortable in.

Because it turns out that Sunghoon in his mid-thirties is not all that different from who he had been at twenty, and to this day, Suwon does not know how to respond to either.

~***~

The first time Suwon meets Sunghoon as a member of Sechskies, he is surprised yet again. Because he remembers Sunghoon from his audition, but he hadn’t known until then that Sunghoon is actually part of the group. It is a reality slap he doesn’t see coming.

Still, Suwon is pretty good at controlling his expressions, so he pretends he does not recognise the pretty boy from his audition when he is introduced to the first two members of Sechskies.

Suwon introduces himself with a polite bow and recites all the social niceties, feeling more self-conscious than he thought he would. He tries not to stare too much, his gaze flitting alternatively between the pretty boy – who seems to be sizing Suwon up just like he did at the audition – and the fierce-looking guy next to him who has dark circles under his eyes and is, Suwon assumes, a manager sent by the agency.

He is a bit embarrassed when the second guy gives his own introduction in response, revealing himself to be Eun Jiwon, two years older than Suwon, and “the leader” – leader?! – of their group. Suwon can feel his face reddening and he hopes it does not betray his first impression of Eun Jiwon. He doubts that the leader – who is already assuming a hyung and sunbae tone of voice – would appreciate knowing that the rookie mistook his looks and age for the complete opposite of an idol group member.

Then the pretty boy from his audition introduces himself and that is when Suwon learns Kang Sunghoon’s name.

‘It’s nice to meet you,’ Suwon replies formally, glad that his voice is steady and that he did not accidentally say something completely nuts like why did you choose me or you’re prettier than most girls I know.

Sunghoon gives a small smile – not one of his killers – and says in response, ‘No need to be so formal. We’re “friends” so let’s just speak comfortably.’

‘We just met,’ Suwon blurts. It is true in a way, he thinks. His audition doesn’t really count as an official meeting.

The second guy – Jiwon – gives a bark of laughter, looking at Suwon like he finds him both funny and a total loser. Suwon feels his enthusiasm at being a part of Sechskies waning a bit.

Sunghoon chuckles, too, but it is nowhere near as insolent as Jiwon’s.

‘No, I meant we’re friends as in we’re the same age,’ he explains, somehow driving his elbow into Jiwon’s side and making it look like a complete accident. ‘Oh! Sorry, hyung.’ He turns back to Suwon without even giving their winded leader the time to reply. ‘So you can drop formalities with me.’

‘Oh.’ Suwon still feels a bit hesitant but he nods anyway.

‘You guys are the same age?’ Jiwon asks, still a little out of breath. ‘I didn’t know.’

Suwon blinks, abruptly realising that Sunghoon has just – unwittingly or not – revealed to Jiwon that he has met Suwon before. As an auditioner, he would’ve seen Suwon’s birthdate and other personal information on his application.

However, Sunghoon breezes over Jiwon’s question with a natural ease Suwon immediately envies, ‘Yeah. You were born in 80, right, Suwon?’

It’s still a little odd how easily he can say Suwon’s name so informally, considering they just got introduced to each other.

‘Ah, yes, Sunghoon-ssi,’ he almost stammers.

‘Drop the ssi,’ says Sunghoon pointedly while Jiwon peers at Suwon.

‘You’re an 80-liner, too?’ He demands while Sunghoon rolls his eyes.

‘That’s what I just said, hyung,’ Sunghoon mutters dryly at the same time Suwon answers the leader, ‘Yes, I was born on July 16.’

‘Huh. Sunghoonie is February so you’re still the maknae,’ Jiwon remarks. He breaks into a sudden laugh and nudges his younger friend. ‘Congrats, Hoonie-yah. You can finally take a break from minion errands.’

‘You’re terrible,’ Sunghoon retorts without batting an eyelash while Suwon just watches them, feeling a little out of his depth. Jiwon winks at him and he’s not entirely sure if the leader is joking or not.

‘Welcome to minion life, Jang Suwon,’ Jiwon sticks his hand out and the gesture is both friendly and dominating.

Suwon takes it, murmuring a quiet, ‘Yes, hyung.’ He figures he may as well be mentally prepared for life under Eun Jiwon (who doesn’t seem too bad, but you never know). If the rest of the members they – or just Kang Sunghoon?- pick are older than Suwon, he will end up as the maknae anyway.

Besides, it’s not like being the youngest in the room is a new situation for him.

Then he finds Sunghoon suddenly taking his hand too, nudging Jiwon’s aside in the process. He is still smiling lightly but his voice is serious and gentle as he says, ‘Don’t worry too much, Suwon. Jiwon hyung will occasionally tell you to do ridiculous things as the maknae – he made me wash his underwear a couple of times when we were living in Hawaii – but he’s not too bad once you get to know him.’

‘Yah,’ Jiwon shoved Sunghoon with his shoulder in warning.

‘He acts all tough but he’s a sweetheart,’ Sunghoon continues, somehow pulling off a smirk that almost looks sweet. ‘He’ll look after you. Or us, now, I suppose.’

‘Punk.’ Jiwon playfully smacks Sunghoon upside the head, making him drop Suwon’s hand. Turning to the youngest, he said, ‘Look, you work hard and do your part and we’ll get along just fine, a’right? You slack off, I won’t go easy on you.’

‘Don’t worry, hyung, you don’t have to tell me. I always give my all,’ replies Suwon evenly. He is starting to figure Eun Jiwon out and he thinks he has an idea how to remain on his good side.

‘Even to washing my underwear?’ Jiwon suddenly cracks.

‘That’s a bit much,’ Suwon cannot help muttering, his tone turning wry.

A surprised laugh escapes Sunghoon while Jiwon blinks owlishly at Suwon, clearly not having expected such a response from the new guy.

‘But I’ll do as you say to make this group work. Hyung.’

Jiwon peers at him for a long moment – Suwon wonders if he is deciding on whether to be angry or not – before he says flatly, ‘Alright. I’ll let you off for now. We’ll see how the training goes.’

‘I’ll work hard,’ Suwon promises.

‘But you’re in charge of making the ramen,’ Jiwon adds suddenly, crossing his arms with child-like stubbornness. ‘As the maknae, you should do at least that much for your hyungs, right?’

Suwon’s lips curl up in amusement despite himself. He is beginning to see why Sunghoon, who has clearly known Jiwon for a while, appears to be both fond of and exasperated by him.

Nevertheless, he answers smoothly, ‘Yes, hyung.’

‘You make him food, he will go to the ends of the earth for you,’ Sunghoon adds matter-of-factly.

As Jiwon immediately rounds on his friend, Suwon finds himself chuckling. He is finally beginning to feel at ease, the tension draining from his body as he muses that this first meeting is not so bad. Neither are his new colleagues, it seems.

Sunghoon echoes his thoughts, speaking over Jiwon’s grumbling, ‘I think we’ll get on well enough. We start training immediately. You ready?’

Suwon nods with another amused glance at Jiwon who looks like he is hiding a pout. The leader mutters something about going down to the practice room since they cannot be any more introduced than they already are, and begins to head for the door, leading the way. Suwon automatically waits for Sunghoon to move, intending to follow, but Sunghoon waits for Suwon to walk with him.

Mildly surprised, Suwon falls into step with him.

As they leave the room, Sunghoon leans closer to his side and says in a low voice without looking at him, ‘You need to put in extra effort into singing and dancing, Suwon. We have to bring you up to par.’

The unexpected words send a jolt through Suwon and he almost missteps, feeling like he has been jilted out of some fantasy realm back into reality. He abruptly remembers that he was picked – by Sunghoon, specifically – despite his lack of skills or any previous training.

Suwon almost stops right then and there to demand an explanation from Sunghoon, to demand what he had seen in some nobody – what he is looking for in that nobody. But Sunghoon slows down too and looks him square in the eyes. His expression is unreadable.

In that moment, Kang Sunghoon looks as alluring as he did the first time Suwon saw him and the questions stick in his throat.

Danger, warns a voice inside his head.

Turning his gaze away, Suwon can only repeat weakly, ‘I’ll work hard.’

~***~

As a teenager, Suwon had been a man of his word. Twenty years later, he is no different. With their huge comeback looming on the horizon, Suwon throws himself into singing and dancing with the same zeal and determination he had carried in his idol days. Those were the only weapons he had had back then; he had sharpened and honed them tirelessly during his training and even after debut so that people would think of Jang Suwon as a decent enough idol.

He will never be able to hit all the notes that Sunghoon can, but at least his singing is pleasant enough. He will never be able to rap like Jiwon either, but at least his voice is smooth enough. Nor will he ever be able to freestyle dance like Jaeduk and Jaejin, but he can at least pull off the moves if he practises enough.

Suwon will always be a person that is just “good enough”, he knows. Good enough to sing, dance, do variety … be an idol. The field of entertainment is not where his natural talent lies, but Suwon likes this field. He has survived here where hard work and determination have led him to this point, to being good enough. And that has made him realise that being “good enough” is good enough for him. He isn’t greedy for more, for something he cannot have.

So he practises, determined not to be fazed by the additional pains that come with age. On top of falling back into old dance routines and recalling lyrics that have blurred in their memories, all of them are struggling with one thing or another – Jiwon’s knees are paining him, Jaejin is dieting to lose weight, Jaeduk is not in his best condition, Sunghoon has a small injury in his foot – so Suwon refuses to complain and grits his teeth against the exhaustion.

But, despite the fact that they are no longer at the peak of their youth, they are aware of how lucky they are. Their comeback is on Infinity Challenge, the king of South Korean varieties, and that stroke of luck is far and beyond their wildest dreams. Suwon never counts his chickens before they hatch, but he cannot help but daydream of how much exposure and promotion the show will bring their comeback.

The blessing of all blessings – and this, they all know, goes a long way in securing their future good fortune – is being signed into YG Entertainment. It had taken Suwon days after their contract to fully absorb their situation; he still chuckles to himself, in gratitude and relief, every time he recalls their dismal circumstances in Daesung Entertainment/DSP Media nearly two decades ago compared to what they have now.

Even Jiwon is ecstatic about it, in that mildly annoying childish way of his. ‘Yah, Lee Jaejin,’ he pipes up during a break in one of their practice sessions halfway through filming Infinity Challenge, ‘you’re one lucky son of a gun, you know that?’

Jaejin looks round in puzzlement, pausing in the middle of practising Road Fighter by himself. ‘What do you mean, hyung?’

‘You got Yang freaking Hyunsuk as a brother-in-law,’ Jiwon snickers from where he is taking a breather against the mirrored wall of their practice room.

It’s a well-worn joke by now, but it still makes them all laugh while Jaejin shoots a frown without any real heat at their leader.

‘You know Eunju had nothing to do with it, hyung. That’s not why Hyunsuk hyung took us on -‘

‘If you didn’t have a sister,’ Jiwon cuts across him with a shit-eating grin, ‘then I would’ve married you off to YG instead to get this deal.’

Jaejin makes a face while the rest of them shake with laughter. ‘That’s … just disturbing.’

‘Oh, come on, with a face like yours, I’m sure it would’ve worked. Right? Right?’ Jiwon went on, nudging Suwon who is sitting next to him.

‘You’d make anyone a beautiful wife, Jaejin hyung,’ Suwon plays along, lips curling as Jaejin grimaces at him. Meanwhile, sitting crosslegged on the floor a few feet away, Jaeduk and Sunghoon are trying to suppress their laughter and doing a very poor job of it.

‘Please don’t talk about me and my brother-in-law like that in the same sentence,’ Jaejin retorts dryly, already returning to his dance. Before Jiwon can say anything else, he adds, ‘If you’re that thankful, let’s get back to practice, hyung. We don’t have much time left till our comeback and even turtles can jump higher than you right now in Pong Saeng Pom Sa.’

Jaeduk and Sunghoon give up all pretense of containing their amusement while Jiwon flushes red. He grabs his water bottle – shakes it once to make sure it’s not full – and then chucks it at Jaejin who misses it purely by chance as he twirls around, still doing his solo Road Fighter.

‘God, what happened to my Lee Jaejin?’ he laments dramatically, raising his face to the ceiling. ‘I swear he wasn’t this mouthy twenty years ago.’

‘He was always mouthy, hyung,’ Sunghoon speaks up with a chuckle. ‘Just off camera and out of your earshot.’

‘Shut it, don’t interrupt my conversation with God.’

‘Besides, he has a point,’ Suwon cuts in. ‘You barely lift your heels off the ground when we do Pong Saeng Pom Sa.’

‘Because my knees hurt!’

Suwon knows it himself, but he cannot help making another jab, ‘But they magically heal for Com’ Back, eh.’

He laughs apologetically when Jiwon smacks him on the shoulder. ‘Brat. The choreo is completely different and you know it.’

‘Sorry, hyung,’ Suwon grins.

‘You’re both savage asses,’ Jiwon grouses, glowering from Suwon to Jaejin who is ignoring them in favour of dancing. ‘Hell, if Jaejin can’t find himself a woman before he turns grey, he should just marry Suwon. You both can be happy assholes together.’ When Jaejin doesn’t say anything, Jiwon adds loudly, ‘I’m taking your silence as a yes!’

Jaejin doesn’t look round but he replies this time, his voice as matter-of-fact as if he’s telling the time, ‘If Suwonnie is fine with it, why not.’

Jiwon snorts with laughter, a hint of surprise colouring his voice. Suwon just shakes his head and reaches for his water bottle, amused.

‘Ah, but then the J-Walk fans will be disappointed,’ says Jaeduk suddenly, giving Suwon a mock heartbroken look. ‘All those years of fanservice for nothing!’

‘Yah,’ Jiwon yanks Suwon’s water bottle out of his hand and throws it lightly at Jaeduk who quickly catches it. ‘You’re practically married to Tony Ahn of all people; you can’t have everyone, you greedy bastard.’

Right on his tail, Jaejin mutters, ‘Maknae deserves better than a national traitor.’

Jaeduk, in revenge, flings Suwon’s bottle at Jaejin who nimbly dodges it. It rolls away towards the opposite wall.

Suwon laughs again, leaning lazily against the leader and feeling happier than he’s been in years. He has missed this, he realises. Not just Sechskies together as an idol group, but … just them, as people. Working with them, talking with them, laughing with them – the long years had numbed down the feeling until he barely realised it himself, but he’s missed them. Even Jiyong whom they have yet to find.

‘At least leave my water bottle alone,’ he speaks up with a chuckle. ‘It’s innocent and I’m thirsty.’

Without missing a beat, Jaejin spins on his heel and begins to walk over to retrieve it. The sight sparks loud jeers from Jiwon while Jaeduk breaks down into a fit of giggles.

But Sunghoon, Suwon abruptly notices, is frowning.

‘Already working hard to impress your future man, eh, Jaejinnie?’ Jiwon hollers after him, clapping Suwon on his knee. ‘You’re landing yourself a dutiful spouse there, our Suwonnie. I’m almost jealous.’

‘Come on, hyung, give him a brea-‘ Suwon stops when he finds a plastic bottle of water abruptly shoved in front of his nose.

He looks up to find Sunghoon standing over him, holding out the bottle. When Suwon meets his eyes, he gives a tight-lipped smile that doesn’t match his hard gaze.

‘Here, you can have mine.’

‘Uh. Thanks,’ Suwon mutters as he accepts the offered bottle. Past Sunghoon, he can see Jaejin pausing in his approach uncertainly, passing Suwon’s bottle of water from one hand to the other.

Wordlessly, Sunghoon returns to his spot next to Jaeduk. Suwon watches him go, aware that something discreet has abruptly changed in the previously lighthearted atmosphere.

Then suddenly, from beside him, Jiwon says, ‘Better up your game, Jaejin. You’ve got competition.’

Sunghoon immediately tenses; Suwon sees it clear as day, sees the way Sunghoon avoids looking at Jiwon and Jaejin both, reaching for his handphone instead to pretend that he is unaffected.

But in that moment, it’s not Sunghoon’s reaction that holds Suwon’s attention. It’s Jiwon’s tone – those words … they had not been said in jest.

He turns to stare at the leader, hardly daring to believe what he’s just realised. He swallows. Jiwon’s face is emotionless and his eyes, fixed on Sunghoon, look almost cold. And then, under his breath that Suwon barely catches the words, he growls,

‘I thought he was over this…’

Suwon freezes, his heart in his mouth. He looks slowly from Jiwon to Sunghoon, his grip almost deathly on the plastic water bottle in his hands. Sunghoon continues to avoid looking their way while Jaeduk and Jaejin remain awkwardly on the sidelines, both of them now aware of something gone amiss but at a complete loss, judging from their expressions.

In that moment, Suwon prays that neither of them ever finds out.

Because it appears that Jiwon knows. Jiwon knows. And what Suwon wouldn’t give to change that!

Jaejin clears his throat, shattering the ice in the air. ‘We should get back to practice.’

Jaeduk is immediately on his feet, looking relieved, followed by Sunghoon who has schooled his face to neutral. Suwon and Jiwon stand up slower, neither of them looking at each other, but Jiwon grips Suwon’s shoulder briefly before walking forward to take his place. During the rest of the rehearsal, none of them say anything about the conversation that took place earlier and, to Suwon’s relief, things seem finally back to normal when they call it a day a couple of hours later.

Or so it seemed.

Suwon is on his way back to the practice room after showering to retrieve some things he left behind when he hears low voices. The door is ajar and he is about to push it open when he hears Jiwon’s voice and stops outside.

‘- can’t believe you’re serious.’

‘Does this look like a joke, hyung?’ Suwon’s eyes widen as he recognises Sunghoon’s voice; it is low and raspy, full of ire and frustration. He has never heard Sunghoon use that tone with Jiwon before. ‘Do you think I’d ever joke about something like this?’

‘That’s exactly the problem,’ Jiwon snaps. ‘That you’re not joking, that you’re actually doing this – what the hell is wrong with you?’

‘It’s not like I wanted to – I didn’t choose this, hyung!’

‘Yet you’re acting on it. What the hell was that today, huh? I make a few jokes with Jaejin and you act out like some jealous teenager!’

‘I – That’s a bit of an exaggeration, hyu-‘

‘D’you have any idea how dangerous this is? What this would do to Sechskies if people found out? To the both of you?’ Before Sunghoon can reply, Jiwon barrels on, ‘I know I was lacking a lot as a leader, but I still tried my best to protect the members. Especially you and Jiyong and Suwon because you were the youngest -‘

‘Hyung,’ Sunghoon begins but is cut off.

‘- but how am I supposed to do that if you’re the one putting us in danger, huh? How do I protect? What do I protect?’

‘Hyung…’

‘We’re not kids anymore, Sunghoon! You can’t afford to be like this!’

‘For the love of – hyung … please, I … I can’t help -‘

Jiwon finally bursts out, his voice like a gunshot, ‘Goddammit, Kang Sunghoon, I thought you were over this! It’s been sixteen years. Sixteen! I thought you finally got over him!’

Suwon inhales sharply, hardly daring to believe his ears. Inside the practice room, a long moment of silence follows Jiwon’s outburst.

And then Sunghoon responds, soft and utterly miserable, ‘So did I…’

Suwon’s breath catches in his throat.

‘I thought I had, at least for the past dozen years or something…’

‘But?’

Sunghoon’s voice turns bitter. ‘But then we met again and I realised not a goddamned thing has changed.’

‘Sunghoonie…’

‘You say you’re pissed, hyung? How do you think I feel? Everything that I did to forget him – it all became meaningless the moment I saw him walk into that restaurant on our reunion. You’re not even close to being as angry at me as I am at myself, Jiwon hyung. I’m pathetic.’

‘I didn’t say that.’

‘Well, I am. Because I should be over him. That time with him when I, when we … I thought he was finally out of my system after that night.’

Suwon clenches his fist when he notices that his fingers are trembling. Swallowing, he leans closer to the gap between the door and the frame, straining his ears and, at the same time, terrified to listen because he’s realised he knows exactly what Sunghoon is talking about.

‘Wait,’ Jiwon suddenly sounds extremely uncomfortable. ‘That night? Are you … hell, Sunghoon, what are you saying? Did you … do you mean to tell me … that you actually slept with him?’

There is a second of shocked silence during which Suwon almost chokes on thin air. And then Sunghoon gives a bark of mirthless laughter.

‘Hah, I wish. Hell, I should have. Maybe that would’ve solved everything.’

‘This isn’t funny,’ snaps Jiwon, still sounding worried and like the leader Suwon has witnessed only in their direst of times.

‘I’m not being funny, hyung,’ Sunghoon retorts. ‘But no, I’m not right, either. Sleeping with him would’ve solved nothing. Considering my lot in life, it probably would’ve only made me want him even more.’

Jiwon doesn’t say anything in reply for a long minute after that. Suwon licks his lips, his mind whirring as he tries to process everything he’s just heard. A part of his logical side is ringing warning bells, urging him to leave; he has eavesdropped long enough and there is every danger of being caught, either by the duo inside the room or anyone else that decides to come down here. But he remains rooted to the spot, his head angled towards the ajar door; something tells him that he should hear what’s coming next.

When Jiwon finally speaks, he sounds tired, resigned. ‘… Sunghoonie.’

‘Hyung?’

‘I understand how you feel. I’m trying, at least. But … I can’t ignore the risks. Do you get what I’m saying?’

Sunghoon sighs audibly. ‘I get it. Hyung, please, don’t worry about it too much. Like you said, I’m not a kid. I know the dangers. And I won’t let people find out.’

‘Can you guarantee that?’

‘Hyung, I was dealing with this even way before we disbanded. I never did anything on camera or in public that could’ve exposed this. You know that.’

‘OK. Yeah, I admit that.’

‘It’ll be the same even now. You can trust me to be careful.’

‘But,’ Jiwon’s voice hardens slightly. ‘You weren’t very careful today. Even Jaeduk and Jaejin realised something was up.’

‘Jiwon hyung.’ Sunghoon’s voice is as serious as Suwon has ever heard it. ‘I need a break from pretending sometimes. If I can’t do that in private, even just within the group, then I can’t keep pretending elsewhere. I’ll go insane.’

‘And you’re OK with Jaejin and Jaeduk finding out about your feelings?’ Jiwon demands.

‘Even if they do, I’m sure they’ll keep it secret.’

‘And Suwon?’

Suwon stills at being properly addressed for the first time in their conversation.

‘How does this affect Suwon?’ asks Jiwon. ‘I sympathise with you, Sunghoonie, but you can’t prioritise yourself here; you can’t push your own feelings onto Suwon. If you keep acting like this and it makes him uncomfortable -‘

‘The day he tells me so,’ Sunghoon interrupts flatly, ‘I’ll stop. It’ll be the end of it. Right then and there.’

‘Wait …’ Jiwon sounds a bit taken aback. ‘You mean, Suwon knows?’

‘I’m sure he does. For a long time now.’

‘What? And? He never told you to stop?’

‘Not really, no. He’s never told me to back off.’

‘But does that mean Suwon wants you, too?’ demands Jiwon fiercely and it’s a question that makes Suwon’s knees almost buckle. ‘Just because he didn’t tell you to get lost doesn’t necessarily mean he’s encouraging your feelings!’

‘I know that!’ says Sunghoon. ‘But it’s also likely that he wants me back.’

Suwon’s mouth goes dry at the declaration. Sunghoon had said it with such conviction.

‘Likely?’ Jiwon repeats slowly. ‘Sunghoon, please, for you own sake, get rid of wishful thinking. You’re hurting yourself.’

‘I’m not just saying that.’

‘Oh, yeah? And how do you know, for a fact, that Suwon might actually return your feelings?’

When Sunghoon replies this time, Suwon clearly hears the smile in his voice,

‘Because I kissed him that night, and he kissed me back.’

A/N: Some reference points for anyone that doesn’t know: 

– After their comeback, it was revealed that Kang Sunghoon had personally picked each member of Sechskies (except Jiwon. Originally their agency wanted to make them both a singer-rapper duo but then decided on an idol group instead to overthrow H.O.T.. Sunghoon hated the idea, so they told him they’d let him choose the new members.)

– Lee Jaejin’s younger sister, Lee Eunju, is married to YG Entertainment’s founder Yang Hyunsuk. 

– Kim Jaeduk currently lives with Tony Ahn of H.O.T. (They’ve become best bros and basically the target of ‘ambiguously gay couple’ comments on all variety shows. Also Jaejinis a savage calls Jaeduk a national traitor for being bffs with Tony since H.O.T and Sechskies’ were top rivals in the 90’s XD)

I have my doubts that anyone is reading this fic – I haven’t seen anyone ship Sunghoon/Suwon XD – but if you are, thank you for giving this trash a chance! Reviews and constructive criticism are always appreciated 😀

Next Chapter

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