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13 March 2012 @ 12:13 am
How Not to Impress a Host [Chapter 9]  
Title: How Not to Impress a Host [Chapter 9]
Pairing(s): Donghae-centric. Donghae/Eunhyuk; side!Han Geng/Heechul and Yesung/Sungmin
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Romance, Friendship, a fair bit of Angst
Disclaimer: Contrary to popular belief, no one owns them.
Warning: Mild language and mature themes.
Summary: Donghae knows that ‘getting smitten with a fair-skinned host and bumbling through many attempts of courting said host’ was definitely not part of his job scope as a valet, but he won’t relent in his pursuit; even if it meant going through abject mortification and more.

Previous Chapters: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8


Hyukjae, where are you? I really need to talk to you.

The thought had been niggling at the back of Donghae’s head ever since he entered the premises of Guilty Pleasures for yet another work shift. After pulling out his standard work outfit, he dumped his uniform cover unceremoniously into his locker and shoved his backpack inside in a similarly distracted fashion.

Donghae hopped towards the door in a rather comedic way, his balance affected by his current attempt of moving and sliding his left foot into the respective dress shoe at the same time. As soon as he reached the door, he had also successfully coaxed his foot into the shoe, and gave his black stockings a last readjustment. Finally standing up straight, Donghae twisted the doorknob and hurried out of the locker room.

Unbeknownst to Donghae, Sungmin had been watching the entire time, the scene causing the latter to pause in between smoothening the crinkles of his white buttoned up shirt. He watched amusedly as Donghae did a little dance, which vaguely resembled the sprinkler dance, towards the door and the furrows on his forehead deepened as Donghae ran out of the room.

Sungmin simply shook his head and went back to buttoning his sleeves; weirder things have had happened in the club, after all.

-

Han Geng rolled up his sleeves carefully above his elbows, as he prepared for another long, and most possibly, lonely night at the bar.

An uneven shuffle of footsteps in the direction of the doors alerted Han Geng to a potential customer, and he looked up to see the familiar face of Kim Jongwoon smiling at him. He returned the smile immediately, the curl of his lips instinctively pulled upwards.

“Good evening, Hankyung-sshi,” Jongwoon greeted, before slipping onto a barstool.

“Good evening, Jongwoon-sshi,” Han Geng replied. And without intending to, his next sentence slipped past his lips.

“You’re here rather early, Jongwoon-sshi.”

Jongwoon raised a brow at Han Geng’s statement, causing the latter to let out a slight cough.

“My boss let us off early at the office. Something about needing to discuss a case with some big shot client by himself.” Jongwoon’s easy smile told Han Geng that he hadn’t taken offense over his question. “And who am I to question that, am I right?”

Han Geng nodded in agreement. While Brian was officially the boss of Guilty Pleasures, Heechul was the one doing most of the administrative work, running the club in Brian’s absence. Han Geng didn’t expect any special treatment for being Heechul’s partner; if anything, Heechul was extra hard on him, laying down high expectations of his performance and behaviour. And frankly, he wouldn’t have it any other way, for it was Heechul’s own way of showing that he cared, that he was paying close attention to Han Geng. The thought caused Han Geng’s face to split into a fond grin.

“My usual, Hankyung-sshi, if you may.” Jongwoon’s voice broke through Han Geng’s thoughts, alerting him to revert back into professional, work mode.

Han Geng acknowledged Jongwoon’s order with a quick nod, and proceeded to his work station, preparing his tools.

“I know someone who can easily sew cuffs onto those sleeves for you,” Jongwoon said, as Han Geng presented to him the finished mocktail.

“I’m sorry?” Han Geng blinked confusedly, before his eyes followed Jongwoon’s gaze, landing on his own left shirt sleeve, the roll already unravelling past his elbow.

Han Geng let out an awkward laugh. “I’ve been meaning to send the shirt to a tailor, but it keeps slipping my mind. Some of the tailors in this neighbourhood are reluctant to touch my shirt, due to my profession. Being a bartender and dealing with all sorts of alcohol. I understand fully, of course.”

“I know someone,” Jongwoon repeated, as he curled his fingers around the stem of his glass. “I’ll put in a word, and I’m sure he’ll give you a discount. In fact, if you converse with him in Mandarin, he’ll be so overjoyed, that he’ll probably forget to charge you for it.”

This time, Han Geng’s laugh was loud and genuine. “He’s from the Mainland too?”

Jongwoon nodded. “Zhou Mi’s his name. Here, I’ll pass you his card.”

Just as Han Geng had taken the rectangular slip of paper from Jongwoon’s outstretched hand, they both heard a slick skidding across the tiled floor, and turned towards the sound. A few seconds later, Donghae came into sight.

Donghae was panting, with his usually gelled hair sticking out in odd places. Stopping to catch his breath as he stooped on his knees, he slowly straightened up, much to the bemusement of the other two occupants of the room.

“H-Hyu-" Donghae’s breaths were still coming out in short, uneven spurts. “W-where is-"

Han Geng caught on soon enough. “If you’re looking for Hyukjae, he hasn’t arrived yet,” he said smoothly. “Heechul informed me that he had some personal problems to attend to.”

“Ran here...F-for nothin-"

Donghae had staggered to the bar counter and plopped himself unceremoniously onto his usual barstool. He rounded his shoulders as he wiped the beads of sweat forming at his hairline, his posture one of defeat.

“And a very good evening to you too, Donghae,” Jongwoon mumbled over the tip of his glass. He tittered when Donghae raised his head in alarm and started to open his mouth, most probably to formulate a deeply apologetic reply.

Jongwoon raised a hand before Donghae could even say anything, and went on to lightly pat Donghae’s shoulder.

“So what’s got you running around the club, Donghae?” Jongwoon attempted to initiate some small talk, since between the three of them, one was still in the middle of composing himself and the other had quizzically grown silent.

“Hyukjae,” Donghae breathed out. “I need to settle things with Hyukjae...”

Jongwoon’s hand paused on Donghae’s shoulder, and he turned to Han Geng when the youngest of the trio said no more and rested his head in between his folded arms.

“Who’s this Hyukjae the both of you are talking about?” Jongwoon questioned, obviously lost in the proceedings of their conversation. “A loanshark?”

If it wasn’t for Donghae’s apparent disappointment in not being able to meet Hyukjae straightaway, Han Geng would have let loose a chuckle at Jongwoon’s blithe guess.

“Hyukjae,” Han Geng started, when it became clear that Donghae would not be emerging from the safety of his folded arms anytime soon. “Is the receptionist host here at Guilty Pleasures.”

It took Jongwoon a few seconds to bring a face, well, at least a semblance of one hidden behind a mask, to the name. “You mean, the one sitting at the counter in front of the waiting room? The one with the light brown hair?”

“That’s the one,” Donghae finally lifted his head, deciding that he would face Han Geng and Jongwoon properly. “He’s the one I’m looking for.”

“You’re looking for him? But whatever for?” Jongwoon continued his barrage of questions, hoping that someone would please just enlighten him on the whole situation.

“I like him.”

Well, Jongwoon couldn’t say that he was expecting such an answer, and a direct one at that. Han Geng, however, frowned and aimed a subtle slanted look in Donghae’s direction. Donghae darted his eyes back and forth from Han Geng to Jongwoon, his mouth unconsciously open.

“I can pretend that I’m suddenly afflicted with hearing loss for the past five minutes and that I haven’t heard anything at all,” Jongwoon offered.

“I’m sorry, Jongwoon-sshi,” Donghae mumbled, as he fiddled with his fingers. “But since you’re an outsider, I don’t think that...that...”

“That I’m privy to such information?” Jongwoon finished the sentence for Donghae, who looked immensely relieved that the former could follow.

“But,” Han Geng suddenly spoke up, his voice prompting the other two to turn and face him. “I suppose it would be okay if we keep this to just ourselves, in this moment.”

Han Geng wordlessly gave Jongwoon a weak, apologetic smile which the latter dismissed with a good-natured grin.

“Well, you know who Hyukjae is, right?”

“He’s the receptionist host with the red and silver mask.”

“And he’s also the one who Donghae is completely besotted with,” Han Geng supplied. “What?” He feigned an innocent countenance when Donghae gave him a certain look.

“Donghae likes Hyukjae; that much I’ve processed.”

“I’ve only realised that I like him after talking to Hankyung-hyung,” Donghae paused as Han Geng cleared his throat pronouncedly. “...We’re going to be here forever if you keep doing that, Hankyung-hyung!” Donghae whined, his arms flapping unknowingly by his sides.

“Carry on,” Jongwoon said, as if he hadn’t heard or seen Donghae’s petulant outburst.

Taking in a huge gasp of air, Donghae then continued, “There was an earlier...misunderstanding between Hyukjae and I, and I had a feeling that he didn’t want to talk to me. But I wanted to clear the air as soon as possible, so I tried to come up with a way to convey my apology without me having to refer to it directly.”

“Hankyung-hyung came up with the idea of sending a drink over to Hyukjae, that it would convey both my apology and my interest in him but...”

“But?” Jongwoon prompted.

“But I spoiled everything by failing to mention that Hyukjae doesn’t drink alcohol,” Han Geng admitted, the tips of his ears reddening at his confession. “Needless to say, Hyukjae rejected the drink and the awkwardness between the two of them has expanded.”

Donghae let out a disgruntled sigh and absentmindedly ran a hand through his hair. “That’s why I’ve been searching for him. I just want to resolve this once and for all, before the air between us gets any heavier.”

Jongwoon began patting Donghae’s shoulders once more, while Han Geng moved towards his work station to prepare a concoction which could hopefully sooth Donghae’s frazzled nerves. From the light, yet distinct scent of citrus, Donghae could tell that Han Geng was making one of his famed non-alcoholic cocktails, the one that he had prepared for Donghae’s welcoming party.

“Well, love tends to do strange things to people, Donghae,” Jongwoon said comfortingly, with a hint of knowingness in his tone. “I’m sure that it’ll all get resolved soon-"

“Discussing love lives now, huh? Why am I not part of it?”

All three heads instantly whipped to the newcomer’s voice. Youngwoon was standing in the doorframe, his hands tucked into his pockets.

How much had he overheard?

The answer was obvious; Youngwoon wasn’t one who had full control over his expressions, and his current one, which was one of smugness, plainly told the three of them that he had been standing there for quite some time, enough to get the gist of their conversation.

Youngwoon made to open his mouth, most probably to start digging for answers to his speculations, when his eyes landed on Jongwoon, who was initially blocked by Donghae’s body. Instantly, his mouth clamped shut and he shot Jongwoon a tentative smile as he approached the bar counter.

“Good evening, sir,” Youngwoon said cordially. “Kim Jongwoon, isn’t it? You’ve been a regular client of late, haven’t you? Of Number 7-"

“Sungmin.” Jongwoon’s voice was clipped as he corrected Youngwoon. “And I would suspect that you’d rather address him as Sungmin too.”

Jongwoon looked around at the trio, who were in similar states of shock over Jongwoon’s icy tone. He let out a self-conscious cough.

“I’m,” Jongwoon started uneasily. “I’m also the client whom you regularly shoot looks of bemusement at.”

“Well, that’s because you’re always doing the 50m dash into the club,” was Youngwoon’s immediate response, and he was relieved when Jongwoon simply laughed.

Disruptions seemed to love making their presence known that night, as yet another halted their conversation; a crackly sound started to play from, all of places, Youngwoon’s back pocket.

Youngwoon nearly shot up into the air when his walkie-talkie buzzed about in its position. He quickly extricated it from his pocket, fumbling at the lapel of his suit where his earpiece was attached to, but it was too late.

The sound soon became distinct, and three of them instantly knew whose voice it was.

“Where the heck are you and Donghae?” Heechul’s fierce voice echoed from the device. “And don’t lie to me that you’re both at your positions. It’s five minutes to 8, so you’d better find Donghae right now and get both your assess at the entrance as soon as possible!”

Well, that actually wasn’t too bad for Heechul’s standards. He was one who was fastidious about sticking to schedules, so Youngwoon (and Han Geng) had actually expected more from him.

Donghae hopped off his seat and paced towards Youngwoon, not daring to meet the latter’s eyes. “I suppose we should be on our way now, hyung.”

Youngwoon turned to Donghae and flung an arm around his shoulder.

“Yes, yes, we should,” Youngwoon said a little too brightly. “Excuse us!”

Over Youngwoon’s arm, Donghae quickly said, “Bye, Hankyung-hyung! Bye, Jongwoon-sshi!”

As they disappeared from the bar and headed towards the club’s entrance, Donghae anxiously chewed on his bottom lip. The pressure on his shoulder hadn’t lessened and when Youngwoon finally let go of him, the familiar smug look had returned.

“So. About that love story...”

Donghae knew that he had no means of escape. All he could do now was divulge everything and brace himself for Youngwoon’s response.

-

Sungmin cast a glance at the overhanging analogue clock above Hyukjae’s vacant booth. 8.17pm, it read, and there was still no sign of the receptionist host. Sungmin leaned over the booth, hoping that the covered desk could supply him with clues to Hyukjae’s whereabouts. Instead, he only saw a thick book filled with details of the clients and bookings, a notepad which was halfway depleted, and a white cordless table phone.

Curiosity hadn’t clouded his judgement, and Sungmin ignored the urge to grab the notepad to take a peek at its pages; the first page had writings in Hyukjae’s neat, slanting script, so the following pages may also have writings as well. But Sungmin, who was the closest to Hyukjae in the club, knew that the latter was a rather guarded person, and being caught in the act of snooping around Hyukjae’s booth definitely wasn’t a very good idea if Sungmin wanted to maintain the strong bond of trust between them.

Immediately, Sungmin pushed himself away from the edge of the booth, and to his relief, he had managed to clear at least ten metres from the booth before the focus of his concern, Hyukjae, appeared from the hallway.

Hyukjae’s attire was as impeccable as ever, but no degree of neatness could have distracted Sungmin from the deep furrow between his eyebrows. He was still fiddling with the cuffs of a shirt sleeve, a telltale sign that he was deeply uncomfortable. Sungmin started to approach Hyukjae, and nearly collided with him, as Hyukjae was clearly not aware of his own path.

“Careful!” Sungmin said softly, reproachfully, as his arms shot out to grab at both of Hyukjae’s arms to steady him.

“Oh, Sungmin-hyung,” Hyukjae said blankly. “I didn’t see you coming.”

“I’m sure you didn’t see anything five metres in front of you before you bumped into me,” Sungmin giggled, and as a comforting gesture, he squeezed Hyukjae’s arms lightly.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” The weary tone in Hyukjae’s voice caused Sungmin’s smile to instantly dip into a frown, and he brought the thinner man into his arms. Hyukjae’s posture remained tense for a while, but he soon slumped into Sungmin’s hold.

“Condition?”

“Still the same,” Hyukjae paused when Sungmin pulled away and looked at him sadly. “But we’re all coping, we’re managing. We were at the office earlier, settling this month’s fees.”

“Hyukjae...” Sungmin didn’t know what to say; whatever comforting thoughts in his mind were blocked by the choking sensation in his throat. Sungmin was certain that he hadn’t misheard the crack in Hyukjae’s voice.

“We’re managing,” Hyukjae repeated, but it seemed as if it was more for himself than Sungmin.

-

“You’re joking, right?”

Donghae shook his head. “I wish I could, but everything that I’ve just told you actually happened, hyung.”

Slumping over his valet stand, Donghae felt even more demoralised after retelling the story of his failed attempt of confessing to Hyukjae. In fact, it simply reinforced to himself how stupid he was.

“Stupid, stupid, stupid!” Donghae chastised himself unkindly. He still possessed a faint glimmer of hope, but it was largely overshadowed by his misdirected anger towards himself.

“Come on, Donghae.” Youngwoon stooped beside Donghae so that he was face-to-face with him. “You yourself told Hankyung-hyung that this was only the beginning. Scolding yourself isn’t going to help things.”

Resting his head on the cool wooden surface of the valet stand, Donghae made a faint noise of dissatisfaction, one that was a cross between a snort and a sigh.

“I know, hyung.”

“Buck up, kid,” Youngwoon said. “Because now, your Youngwoon-hyung’s going to help you, and he definitely won’t render aid to someone’s who’s feeling pathetic about himself and is already on the verge of giving up!”

Youngwoon-hyung’s right, Donghae admitted. Using his hands, he propped himself up from the surface and straightened his posture.

Pleased by Donghae’s renewed confidence, however feeble it may be, Youngwoon slapped Donghae lightly on the back. “That’s the spirit, Donghae!”

“W-wait!” Something had suddenly cropped up in Donghae’s mind. “You’re not going to tell anyone about this, r-right?”

Once the words had tumbled out from his lips, Donghae knew he had said the wrong things. A flash of disappointment had flitted across Youngwoon’s features, and though he had quickly replaced it with a grin, it didn’t fool Donghae.

“I’m sorry, hyung, it’s just that-“

“I know, I know. It’s my reputation, isn’t it?” Youngwoon managed to laugh at himself, and his smile grew wider when Donghae laughed along shyly.

“Well, Hyukjae wasn’t exactly pleased when he found out that the first thing I knew about him was his alleged lack of, I quote, ‘hygiene habits’.”

“Hyukjae!” Youngwoon snapped his fingers, the mention of his name bringing them back to the topic at hand.

Once again, Youngwoon threw his arm around Donghae’s shoulder and this time, Donghae didn’t feel burdened by the action. Instead, he felt relief as his hyung was willing to help him.

“This is what I think you should do, and listen to me good, Donghae...”

-

Youngwoon-hyung was joking, right?

Because how on earth was Donghae going to prove his manliness to Hyukjae?

When Donghae had posed this question to Youngwoon, the older man simply waved it away with a dismissive laugh. “That, you have to think of it yourself, Donghae. It isn’t that hard.”

Even after Donghae had stepped back into the club for a quick freshening up, not even one idea had popped up in his head.

Well, it was easy for Youngwoon to say that; he was of medium-build, and filled out his suit in a way that helped project himself as a confident, self-assured man. On the other hand, Donghae was lean, and the sleeves of his work shirt were actually slightly loose and too long for him, making Donghae look like he had borrowed his hyung’s clothes. Not exactly convincing in the manliness department.

How does Youngwoon-hyung project his manliness? Donghae wondered. He knew that there were probably ways that Youngwoon did so that didn’t involve slapping the wind out of someone else.

His eyes started to stray across the floor and they soon landed on an empty crate of vodka. The cogs inside his brain churned furiously as his eyes narrowed on the crate, and he soon burst into a grin.

That’s it- No, I can’t do that. The thought fizzled out as soon as it had been ignited.

Firstly, shipments of any sort of alcohol were scheduled to arrive on the 15th of each month, and Donghae had missed that date, considering how he had taken leave to study for his common test.

Secondly, he would look like a complete joke next to Han Geng and Youngwoon, who were both used to the chore of transporting the heavy crates. Donghae would probably just wheeze and whine throughout while the other two stood tall.

Thirdly, Donghae couldn’t just call on Hyukjae to watch him carry the crates. The delivery truck dropped the crates off at the back door, not the entrance, so Hyukjae wouldn’t even be present to watch Donghae and his attempted heroics in tackling the heavy crate anyway.

Donghae shook his head, trying to rid himself further of the idea.

It took a while for Donghae to realise that he was approaching Hyukjae’s receptionist booth. Instantly, he willed his legs to quicken their pace, so as to avoid further embarrassment.

However, he abruptly stopped in his tracks when he saw the situation at the booth.

Leaning over the booth was a client, and Hyukjae was placidly responding to whatever the client was saying. Yet, Donghae could notice Hyukjae’s expression were frozen for a split second before his face relaxed again, and that Hyukjae’s eyes kept darting downwards, to his left.

That’s where his phone is placed.

After another of Hyukjae’s polite laughs, his eyes sought out his surroundings awkwardly. It didn’t take long for them to land on Donghae.

Upon eye contact, Donghae raised his eyebrows, silently questioning Hyukjae about his situation.

Help me, Hyukjae mouthed.

Donghae had only two seconds to attempt to decipher Hyukjae’s succinct reply, before the client leaned forward and grabbed Hyukjae’s collar.

By then, instinct had decided to dictate Donghae’s course of action, and he lurched forward.

-

Donghae wasn’t a confrontational sort of person. When people had opposing opinions, he could easily place himself in the other person’s shoes to gain a better understanding of where the person was coming from. Most of the time, that simply did the trick.

However, in terms of physical confrontation, Donghae himself could admit that he stood little to no chance of winning.

Which was why Donghae had frozen midway, upon assessing the client after narrowing the distance between them.

The client was solid, firm, with his shoulders broad and tapering down to an impressive torso. It didn’t take Donghae even a second to realise that he stood no chance of confronting the man, should this confrontation turn physical.

Donghae gulped, willing saliva to relieve his suddenly parched throat. “Sir, sir? Excuse me, sir, but you shouldn’t be handling my co-worker like that.”

The client whipped his head around and Donghae could barely suppress his grimace when the acrid smell of alcohol started to infiltrate his nostrils. Of course, the client was drunk. Because who in their right mind would want to create a ruckus in the club with Youngwoon around?

Youngwoon-hyung. He had told Donghae to prove his manliness in front of Hyukjae, in hopes that impressing him would ward away any negative thoughts he had about Donghae. Despite being presented with the opportunity to do so, the odds certainly weren’t in Donghae’s favour and he was about to come up with hasty semblance of a plan when the client’s fist came sailing towards his face.

Thankfully, his assailant’s actions were hindered by his inebriated state; Donghae quickly stepped back and unconsciously, his fists rose before his chest, bracing himself for a fight.

The client blinked stupidly at Donghae for a few seconds. He had let go of Hyukjae’s collar, earning a muffled cry of alarm from the receptionist host, before moving to punch Donghae, or attempt punching him, at least.

Donghae still had his fists tightly balled, and his stance was one of defensiveness. His eyes darted quickly towards Hyukjae, and he managed to see the latter shake his head vigorously before his eyes snapped back to attention to his assailant, who had lunged towards him.

Sidestepping granted Donghae a few seconds of security before the client lunged forward again. Donghae, distracted by Hyukjae’s muffled cries, let out a surprised choke when the client tackled him straight in the chest, bringing him to the ground. His back hit the floor with a thud, with a quick jolt of pain shooting throughout his body. The client clumsily scrambled over Donghae’s body, attempting to mount his stomach as Donghae feebly tried to push the heavy man off.

“Don’t you dare step away from that booth, Hyukjae!” Donghae shouted harshly when he spotted Hyukjae tentatively trying to venture away from his booth, most likely to assist Donghae in the ongoing scuffle.

The client chuckled unkindly at Donghae’s gesture and took advantage of Donghae’s distractedness once again to throw his fist at Donghae’s face. This time, it was a direct hit and Donghae gasped as the left side of his face instantly registered the effects of the hit.

Delighted by his actions, the client attempted to throw his fist at the same spot once more, but now, Donghae knew better and both of his hands shot up to halt the heavy fist. Clenching his hands around the fist firmly, Donghae gritted his teeth as the client jerkily forced his fist forward, applying brute strength which Donghae knew he would slowly lose to.

“You. Get off the boy at once,” a voice called out, its measured tone made even more pronounced by the silence of the room.

“Hankyung-hyung...” Donghae said weakly.

In an instance, the client was hauled off Donghae, with Han Geng making the task seem as easy as hauling a medium-sized dog off a person. The drunkard barely had time to react to the twist in the proceedings before Han Geng calmly and swiftly grabbed hold of the side of the man’s neck and pressed it. Within seconds, the man was on his knees, begging for mercy from whatever unimaginable pain Han Geng must be inflicting onto him.

In response, Han Geng relieved the pressure on the man’s neck but his fingers stayed, resting on the exact same spot, to remind the man of what he was capable of doing within a split second.

Donghae had remained sprawled on the floor awkwardly, preoccupied with lessening the throbbing pain on the left side of his face. The cool tinge of his palm against the swelling provided some relief, but it was minimal. Donghae’s first instinct when he brought himself up was to ask Han Geng for some ice, but pain shot up in his back again, causing him to double over and stagger towards the nearest wall for support.

“Donghae!” Hyukjae cried out.

He rushed towards Donghae, who was awkwardly leaning his side against the wall, and hovered tentatively as Donghae panted erratically, eyes scrunched up in pain.

“Okay, now what the fuck is going on here?” Yet another voice joined in the fray.

Heechul appeared in the hallway, arms akimbo, and just right beside him was Youngwoon, who was clearly bewildered by the scene before him. Heechul stepped forward, his wide, bright eyes darting all over the room and assessing the situation. His eyes read Donghae and Hyukjae beside the wall, and they then landed Han Geng and the client, who was still in his position of relinquishment.

“I’m guessing it’s you, huh?” Heechul’s eyes had narrowed into dangerous slits. “Pyo-sshi.”

The client looked up in alarm when Heechul had said his surname.

“That’s right. I’m well-aware of who you are, and I’m also well-aware about your record here, at this club,” Heechul continued. “I’ve told you before, whatever moves you make on my boys in their private parlours, it’s kept strictly confidential, and that I won’t interfere with. But when you take it outside and do stupid things that may harm my staff- under the influence of alcohol or not, I don’t fucking care-, that’s when I step in. You got that?”

Pyo looked at Heechul and then at Han Geng again, before slowly nodding his assent.

“Good. Now get up and let Youngwoon call you a cab. I don’t want you to step foot in this club ever again, do you hear me loud and clear?”

Again, Pyo nodded meekly.

“Then scram,” Heechul said, a hint of weariness lacing his tone.

Youngwoon followed Pyo, who had instantly regained control over his movements, out onto the sidewalk. As he passed Donghae and Hyukjae, he quickly turned and raised an eyebrow.

Uncertain, Donghae shrugged his shoulders lightly.

Unaware of the significance of the exchange between Youngwoon and Donghae, Hyukjae grabbed Donghae gently by the shoulders and steered him towards the receptionist booth. Pushing Donghae till he was seated on his chair, Hyukjae then pointed at it and in a tone an adult usually used in addressing a disobedient child, he said, “Stay right there.”

Donghae complied without much dissent; the pain didn’t leave his brain much room to think deeply about anything at all.

After a few minutes of waiting, Hyukjae soon returned with a small ice pack. Donghae instinctively smiled upon seeing the item that would soon bring him relief, but the muscles on the left side of his face twitched uncomfortably at the action.

Hyukjae made known his disapproval by uttering a few tuts, but his expression soon softened when Donghae raised his palm to massage the left side of his face. Placing a hand over Donghae’s, he gently pushed it aside and brought the ice pack carefully to Donghae’s swelling.

“Just bear with it for a bit,” Hyukjae said soothingly, when Donghae winced at the sudden, searing sensation of the ice against his cheek.

Soon enough, Donghae’s swelling became numb, and the pain in his back was also growing weaker and weaker. Having shut his eyes in pure relief the whole time Hyukjae was holding the ice pack to his face, Donghae’s eyelids fluttered open when he heard Hyukjae’s voice for the first time in minutes.

“You shouldn’t have done that, you know.”

“Done what?” Donghae said, even though he already had an inkling of what the answer was.

“Confronting the client like that. Trying to handle him by yourself. Telling me to stay where I was and to not be involved.”

“But what else was I supposed to do? You asked for my help,” Donghae retaliated.

“I asked for help; it wasn’t like I was specifically asking you for your help,” Hyukjae corrected agitatedly.

“What’s wrong with my help?” Donghae’s voice was raised.

Hyukjae opened his mouth, before shutting it and he shook his head. “No, no, I didn’t mean that I didn’t want your help. It’s just that I wanted you to call Youngwoon-hyung or Hankyung-hyung.”

“Because you thought I couldn’t handle the client?”

“Because I knew you couldn’t handle the client and I didn’t want you to get hurt, Donghae!”

In the heat of the argument, Hyukjae’s grip on the ice pack had slackened and it soon fell out of his hand, landing onto the floor with a pronounced cracking sound.

The both of them stared at the plastic bag filled with a mixture of already melted ice and irregularly shaped pieces of ice, with neither of them daring to say a word.

“I’ll tell Heechul-hyung that I want to go home early,” Donghae began awkwardly. “I have just the ointment for this kind of swelling back at my dorm.”

“Maybe Heechul-hyung is keeping some sort of similar ointment,” Hyukjae paused when he saw Donghae’s tired expression. “You’re right, Donghae. Maybe, maybe it’s best if you just rest at home.”

“At my dorm.” The words tumbled out before Donghae could even stop them.

They briefly met each other’s eyes before turning away, the contents of the argument still playing in both their minds.

Donghae stood up stolidly and began heading towards the hallway, the one leading to Heechul’s office. Just before he turned out of sight, he stopped at the last second and peeked from behind the wall. Hyukjae was bent forward, holding the ice pack in between his hands. He raised one of them to slowly rub his face, the side where Donghae was injured.

Before Hyukjae could even catch Donghae staring at him, he ran off. Any more words would probably just make things worse between the two of them.

I guess that trying to be manly just won’t cut it. There’s no point in me pretending to be something or someone I’m not.

-

A/N: ...No, I haven't forgotten about this fic, contrary to popular belief !! (Yeah, right, lol; I'm kidding myself right here if I thought anyone cared.)

I had a dream, well, a nightmare where you guys hated me for...reasons I am still not sure what, but it was still pretty crappy to see people leave obscenities in your comments. orz And another thing, my thumbdrive that I use to keep my school stuff and fic drafts and all just decided to cease to function properly on its own, so I've lost most of my updated fic ideas. /insert fliptable.gif

So I've taken these as signs to continue writing, and actually, I do feel more motivated to write! Plus, I'm attached to yet another writer (a real life friend) that I do beta reading for, and that makes me motivated too. :)

If you're curious to know what the sprinkler dance looks like, here's a link. And I know using walkie-talkies is a little old school lol, but I use it at my workplace at the theatres and it's very effective, actually! XD

Okay, okay, to reward those to have managed to plough through until here (or you just scrolled down till you saw the gif lol):

Photobucket

 
 
 
Lenakhaus414 on March 12th, 2012 04:17 pm (UTC)
SPOTTTTT I'll be back after work!
Lenakhaus414 on March 13th, 2012 03:46 am (UTC)
yayyy update!

awww i hope the tension between hyuk and hae gets settled soon! poor awkward things! ;o;

lolol omg kangin encouraging hae to be more manly tho LOL.
I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on March 17th, 2012 02:25 pm (UTC)
Yay update indeed! :'D

I'm sure that after a while, the tension will soon subside... Unless I be mean to poor Donghae and Hyukjae again. 8( Welp.

Well, it works for Kangin... As seen in this chapter, not so much for Donghae. D':

Thank you for reading and commenting! :D

Edited at 2012-03-17 02:26 pm (UTC)
Lenakhaus414 on March 17th, 2012 06:26 pm (UTC)
awww hahaha unless i be mean to poor Donghae and Hyukjae again I laughed! :P

<33
I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on March 19th, 2012 08:21 am (UTC)
But it's true! I'm horrible to them. orz Especially poor lover boy Donghae !!

:'DD
Lenakhaus414 on March 19th, 2012 12:00 pm (UTC)
but if it were just butterflies, sunshine, and rainbows, where would be the fun in just that? kekekeke :'DD
I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on March 20th, 2012 09:29 am (UTC)
Photobucket

Indeed! Where would all the fun be? ;D
paradigm_twistparadigm_twist on March 12th, 2012 05:11 pm (UTC)
Word of advice: never take any advice from Kim Yoongwoon. He overestimates everyone's strengths. And proving one's manliness is like the lowest rung of any dating rule book D8 Oh Donghae. Just pout and kiss it away with Hyukjae xD

This time, Han Geng’s laugh was loud and genuine. “He’s from the Mainland too?”

Jongwoon nodded. “Zhou Mi’s his name. Here, I’ll pass you his card.”

^ I see what you did there ;D

Your GIF is distracting from leaving a proper comment /ogles

^^b
paradigm_twistparadigm_twist on March 13th, 2012 12:51 am (UTC)
Also, when you mention Brian as the owner. You don't mean Brian Joo did you? xD
I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on March 17th, 2012 02:34 pm (UTC)
Youngwoon means well! ...It's just that his advice can't be taken by just anyone, and well, especially by Donghae. XD Sure,I could just type that, but the fic won't stay true to the summary and as planned, and well, it's more exciting to prolong the chase! 8D

;D Indeed you did!

I was looking for an appropriate gif amongst my mostly Sungmin gif collection... XD

...Of course it's Brian Joo! He's made his presence known since chapter 1. :'D

Thank you for reading and commenting! :D
TeSa Regina: hae12tesa11 on March 12th, 2012 06:11 pm (UTC)
SPOTTTTT!!!!!!!!
I'll be back after I finish my deadline work!!!:))
TeSa Regina: haecutetesa11 on March 13th, 2012 06:37 am (UTC)
hahahaha.....omg donghae,you should think and considering much before take youngwoon's advice XD
donghae in this chapter really adorable..haha,so much to make hyukjae's eyes on him~
and I agree....just go straight to hyukjae and confess to him and then kiss..../case closed//
but am I forget something about hyukjae's condition....if I'm not wrong you had mention about the same topic that sungmin and hyukjae talk about in chapters before right??hmmm....

it's really great to see you make an update \(^o^)/
TeSa Regina: hyukwettesa11 on March 13th, 2012 06:41 am (UTC)
last thing....your last gif is distracting very much XD
I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on March 17th, 2012 02:39 pm (UTC)
Well, Donghae was just too desperate and relieved that Youngwoon actually gave him advice...that he took it too literally. XD

Donghae just couldn't stand the tension between the two of them! It would be way easier, but that would mean that the fic would just end abruptly in the next chapter. D':

Someone remembers !! /wipes tears of happiness Haha, yes, I have alluded to that before...You'll have to wait to find out more! ;)

You don't know how gratified I am to read this sentence! :'))))

That gif... Just take it as a gift. XD

Thank you for reading and commenting! :D
TeSa Reginatesa11 on March 17th, 2012 03:23 pm (UTC)
yupz...the fact that he take youngwoon just show how desperate he is XD

haha,I know that bb...just bring this story flow like what you want...indeed if it end abruptly I will mad *ehhh?? XD
oh well about hyukjae and sungmin scene,that's mean I'm not wrong then :))

I'm not lying....very very happy to see you make this update :)))
I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on March 19th, 2012 08:30 am (UTC)
Youngwoon meant well! And the both of them clearly weren't thinking too much lol. XD

Haha, I'm taking it as feedback from the readers, nevertheless! There's gonna to be more to this fic verse than just this fic, so introductions and pacing are important. You're too cute though, "indeed if it end abruptly I will mad *ehhh?? XD" :'D

You're not wrong about it, so you'll just have to wait and see... :)

Like I've said, I'm every bit as happy to read this from you! :D
mister fish, did you die?tees2mai on March 13th, 2012 12:04 am (UTC)
\o/ updated \o/ fjkfnjdsn aw haeface 8| no to proving your manliness.. only Kangin can do that shit.
I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on March 17th, 2012 02:41 pm (UTC)
Took me long enough, right? ;~; Well, too bad Donghae and Kangin realized that when it was too late... :/

Thank you for reading and commenting! :D
(Deleted comment)
I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on March 17th, 2012 02:45 pm (UTC)
Haha, you're not the only one who's requesting that! XD But that would just make it too easy...and well, I would have a lot less to write. ;A; Haha! I'm glad you're liking Donghae here; I have a soft spot when it comes to writing him. :3

Zhou Mi's mention has its relevance, but not in this fic. :) (Yes, I know, it's confusing. orz) So HanChul shall still be whole!

Thank you for reading and commenting! :D

Edited at 2012-03-17 02:45 pm (UTC)
almightyblingeralmightyblinger on March 13th, 2012 02:41 am (UTC)
awww damn donghae :/

that sprinkler dance. ide lol
I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on March 17th, 2012 02:54 pm (UTC)
Donghae really has go through a lot here, doesn't he? /mean author is mean

My sister's favourite dance~ Lol, idek. orz

Thank you for reading and commenting! :D
Habbahhanisnh on March 13th, 2012 09:53 am (UTC)
OMG UPDATE!
awww, the ending ;~~~; just talk to each other, you two.
can't wait for the next one, fighting!
I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on March 17th, 2012 02:57 pm (UTC)
I apologise for the delay! ;A;

Let's wait and see how the pair will handle it! And thank you for the encouragement! :)

Thank you for reading and commenting! :D
(Deleted comment)
I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on March 17th, 2012 02:59 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, Donghae was too desperate to think it through. :/ Hence the unsavory results!

I'm not that mean of an author to say that no, the tension between them will continue. :X I do love happy endings after all! XD

Thank you for reading and commenting! :D
one_normal_boyone_normal_boy on March 14th, 2012 09:12 am (UTC)
Awww it seems like things are getting worse instead of better. Hope it will turn out for the better in the later chapters
I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on March 17th, 2012 03:00 pm (UTC)
Well, in such a situation, it's hard to stay calm, I guess. :/ Well, just wait for how they're gonna handle it then! :)

Thank you for reading and commenting! :D
cheerguangyucheerguangyu on March 14th, 2012 11:05 am (UTC)
I see Jongwoon and SungMin ih this chapter.
But....NO YeMin moments.
Ah~~~~I wanna cry~~~~~~~~~T_T
I really miss your YeMin fic badly.
I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on March 17th, 2012 03:04 pm (UTC)
Well, it's Donghae-centric, so it's understandable that YeMin are just a mere side pairing in this fic...

Ah, we'll see when the mood to write a YeMin fic. In the meantime, please don't cry! D':
yuue04yuue04 on March 14th, 2012 09:01 pm (UTC)
OH HI *WAVES EAGERLY* NEW READER HERE!!!
I'M SORRY FOR TAKING SO LONG TO FINISH PREVIOUS CHAPS BEFORE COMING TO THIS BECAUSE APPARENTLY MY SCHOOL IS JUST KILLING ME INSIDE AND OUT AND IDK WHY I RANT THIS ON YOU WHEN I AM VERY MUCH AWARE YOU ARE NOT INTERESTED IN MY BORING LIFE *CATCH A BREATH* MY DEEPEST APOLOGY FOR FOR MY NONSENSE WORDS
AIGOO SINCE THE START OF THIS STORY I JUST COULDN'T REALLY SAY HAE IS MAINLY - HE IS MORE CHILDISH AND I COULD HAVE NAME IT INNOCENT AND I KNOW YOUNGWOON'S ADVICE WOULDN'T BE GOOD FOR HIM
AND YEAY FOR HANGENG FOR CLEARING HAE'S OWN FEELING *I ALMOST BEG ANYONE AND EVERYONE TO TELL DONGHAE ALREADY ABOUT HIS FEELING FOR HYUK*
AND I WONDER WHAT PROBLEMS HYUK HAVE...FAMILY???BECAUSE HE SEEMS TO BE KEEPING A SECRET
AND AWWWWWWWWWWW JONGWOON *CUDDLES HIM* WHY YOU SO SWEEEEEEET!!! *GIVES HIM A TURTLE*
THANKS FOR SHARING!!!AND YOUR GIF IS VERY MUCH DISTRACTING THANK YOU *STARES AND DROOLS*
I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on March 17th, 2012 03:15 pm (UTC)
Hello there! :D

It's alright; no need to apologise! I take so much longer to even write a chapter, y'know! XD I hope you're coping better at school! :)

Haha, aww, yes; in essence, Donghae is definitely innocent in this fic. XD Youngwoon meant well though!

Han Geng understands what it's like, the feeling...I think others probably see it as Donghae having to fight his own fight? XD

Everyone in the club has their secrets... As for Hyukjae's, I can only say that you're close!

I'm glad you're liking Jongwoon here! :') I think I've already typed him inside way too much LOL. orz

The gif is to apologize for the late update, so I'm glad people are mesmerized by it! XD

Thank you for reading and commenting! :D
kuma_rikuma_ri on March 15th, 2012 04:56 pm (UTC)
kekekeke...hae you better just confront hyuk and confess immediately....just do it already..muahahahhahaha
I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on March 17th, 2012 03:16 pm (UTC)
Isn't that what everyone wants? Put Donghae out of his misery? XD Can't be that simple, sadly!

Thank you for reading and commenting! :D
rubyjnrubyjn on March 18th, 2012 01:31 pm (UTC)
WHY DID I NOT RECEIVE A NOTIFICATION FOR THIS UPDATE?!

You may ignore my other comment in the other post you have!

I am going to read this, after finishing up my last piece of homework. Like a boss</s>
I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on March 19th, 2012 08:32 am (UTC)
...Probably because the tag was jammed as it was underused or something. orz

Well, too bad, because I have replied to it! /trolls

Good luck on your homework! \o/
rubyjnrubyjn on March 19th, 2012 12:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you~ =)

After I clicked on the link for Chapter 9...I realised I never read from Chapter 5 onwards. I blame the lack of notification! Going to recheck the settings! haha...and I was wondering if there was something wrong cause I had this strange sensation....

But on to the commentary of this chapter! And I might sneak in some for the earlier chapters too! =)

Firstly, I do agree with your last sentiments, or Donghae's, that he definitely shouldn't try being someone he isn't. Or he should just start buffing up to protect Hyukkie. heehee~ Hankyung to the rescue! :3

I'm quite...hmm...pleased/satisfied? I can't find the right word now! =( But it's more of a "happy-elated-pleasantly surprised???" type of feeling, with regards to how you're building up the story plot, characters and relationships! It's not too slow and not too fast (for me), hence I was able to get a better grasp of the overall picture as well as being able to better understand the characters and perhaps a hint of their roles here. So...bravo amigo! ^_^

I genuinely like the atmosphere of Guilty Pleasure, and sort of am half-hoping that such an establishment exist (with all the characters in it, playing out their different jobs). Hey, I wouldn't mind speaking to the cute valet or receptionist! ;) Okay, I'm getting off topic here.

But yes, the bond between the workers of Guilty Pleasure is one that reminds me of a family! Perhaps in time to come, Donghae would finally finally feel settled down? (and start a family with Hyuk)

Oh, and I read the two other side stories. Is Sungmin really leaving Guilty Pleasures? =( I do hope that he would return to visit! And maybe jibe at Youngwoon somemore! hahaha~

THANK YOU FOR UPDATING BB~ And I'm so sorry for my OTL moments and not reading this on time and for being too childish =(
rubyjnrubyjn on March 19th, 2012 01:04 pm (UTC)
oh and I saw the video of that sprinkler dance. somehow, my class is adding that into our class cheer for this cheer competition (I'm going to strangle the darling choreographers BECAUSE ALL OF US CAN'T STAY BALANCED) *facepalm*

forcing myself to tear away from the gif. smooth move my dear friend. smooth ;P
I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on March 20th, 2012 09:45 am (UTC)
Hmmm. For other readers, the notifications tag have jammed for them as well. I still have no idea how it works, so uh, good luck in checking! orz

Hahaha, I think if he resorts to buffing himself up, this fic would go on even longer! 8D Sorry, Donghae!

Likewise, I'm really pleased that a reader thinks so! :'DDD This fic wasn't even supposed to exist (oh wow, how dramatic !!), but I'm glad the details about the fic verse so far have managed to fit in and make sense. Oh, thank you!! ;~;

Glad to hear that you've found the club likable! Hahaha, we all can wish, can't we? :P Too bad I don't have a car that the cute valet can service... orz

Some of the main characters may have felt like outsiders when they first came in, but it'll probably had the most impact on Donghae! We'll have to wait and see how it turns out~ ^^

Other two side stories? Ah, the YeMin two-shot, I presume? Sungmin did leave to study culinary arts... Haha, of course, he would visit! I'll be writing more about that once I've finished this fic. :)

Oh, no, it's fine! I'm always happy to see readers keeping up with the fic despite the irregular updates! For that, I'm really sorry! ;A;

I'm sorry, but...How on earth does the sprinkler dance fit into a cheer? LOL. Furthermore, it's...a little hard to be in sync with that dance. XDDD

You enjoyed that? Well, have another one! ;D

Photobucket

Thank you for reading and commenting! :D
rubyjnrubyjn on March 21st, 2012 11:52 am (UTC)
That's a dance move the dancers in my class came up with. O.O

hahaha! Donghae's shirt should be illegal! It's a vest! not a shirt!!! gahh
mata7ashita: Hangeng/Hankyungmata7ashita on March 27th, 2012 08:42 pm (UTC)
"I like him" Lol, that was pretty...direct, Donghae. I didn't see that one coming
"Condition?" Hmm, that sounds serious =/

Han Geng, my hero! Oh, he can come save me anytime!

I'm glad you updated!
How are you btw? It's been a while ^^

I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on March 28th, 2012 06:41 am (UTC)
Haha! I guess since Donghae knows his feelings, he can be upfront about it, to trusted outsider Jongwoon. XD

Ah, yes, well, you'll learn about it soon enough! :)

Truthfully...I'll probably hide behind Heechul or Youngwoon even if Han Geng shows up to save the day. orz

I'm glad to see that people still know this story exists, tbqh! ;A; Indeed it has been too long. :/ I'm doing well; work and everything just zapping away my time, but I'm coping! How about you? I hope you're doing fine too! ^^

Thank you for reading and commenting! :D

mata7ashita: Softspotmata7ashita on March 31st, 2012 07:26 pm (UTC)
Same here, time seems an issue in college >.>
Sigh, no time to discover new Yemin fics but I`ll survive...
Our 2 week-vacation has started today so I`ll have some time for recovery but studying will still be a priority ^^

I`m also really excited because I` m going to SS4, my very first super junior concert!!! I still can`t believe it. I read you also went, how was it ^^?

You`re welcome :D

I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on April 1st, 2012 05:43 pm (UTC)
A combination of college-related matters...and the evil ol' habit of procrastination. XD Well...Even I don't follow YeMin fics so much now, so I rely on people to link me lol. orz Aww, good to hear that you have your priorities in order! :) All the best for that!

You are? That's awesome! :'DDD Do you mind me asking which SS4 it is? Haha, yeah, I went to SS4 Singapore; it was awesomesauce! I just...was too lazy to do a post on it, tbh. orz

^^
mata7ashita: Softspotmata7ashita on April 2nd, 2012 07:58 am (UTC)
You've got that habit too?! xD
Yeah, good priorities but we'll see how far I get with that habit OTL

The Super Show in Paris ^^ I live in Belgium but I thought "This is destiny! I have to go!" And...Belgium is not that far off...

~I'm gonna see Kyuhyun live~ *chanting*
I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on April 5th, 2012 04:44 am (UTC)
Unfortunately, I do. XD ...Hmm, well, at least even with that habit, you still have the mindset of having your priorities in order? If what I said even made sense LOL. orz But yeah, all the best!

That's this weekend, isn't it? :D Awesome! Some of my other friends are going to SS4 Paris too! :)

Kyuhyun is just so awkward and adorable, even more so in person. :'D
mata7ashita: Softspotmata7ashita on April 5th, 2012 09:00 am (UTC)
It absolutely made sense to me, thank you ^^

Yup, it's on friday! I wonder how many people will be there...
Haha, then I can see the awkwardness in person =D ...and try to capture it on camera
I'm a river in Franceohmygeng on April 19th, 2012 12:18 pm (UTC)
Oh dear goodness, I'm horrible; I'm sorry I hadn't replied till now! orz

I heard from my other friends that it was good. :) I hope you enjoyed yourself then! :>
mata7ashita: Kyuhyukmata7ashita on April 22nd, 2012 06:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's okay ^^

I did, it was one of the best nights of my life!! I'm now the proud owner of a Kyuhyun light stick! xD