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13 July 2016 @ 11:28 pm
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Part 2





When Jaewon pulls up to the main YG dorm building, having left recordings for Show Me The Money for the last time, Minho is waiting for him.

“Man I’m so sorry,” he hums, pulling Jaewon into a bone crushing hug, “come on in and tell us all about it.”

Jaewon shrugs him off, putting on his best brave face, “there’s not much to tell. I went on Show Me The Money. I got kicked off Show Me The Money. You know how it goes.”

“Well-“

“Hanbin knows how it goes.”

“Well said,” Minho grins at him, “the two of you can go commiserate over failed glory.”

They head up to the Winner dorm, where it seems the only other occupant is Jinwoo, who’s currently engaged in icing a rather wonky looking cake. He looks up as they come into the kitchen, looking positively radiant, “Jaewon! How are you?”

“I’m fine,” Jaewon holds out a hand to shake but gets a very enthusiastic hug instead. He doesn’t know Jinwoo very well, but he’s not one to turn down a good hug.

Jinwoo returns to the cake, babbling about how he’s spent most of the afternoon making it, “from scratch! Myself!” he crows proudly.

“Wow hyeong that’s so cool,” Minho gasps. He seems genuinely impressed. One of the wonderful things about Song Minho is that he’s always happy for people.

Jinwoo visibly preens. He’s so fragile looking, so doll like with his large eyes and plush lips. For a moment, Jaewon zones out just looking at his face, till Minho drags him back to reality with a sharp elbow to the gut. He supposes this must be how most people feel looking at him.

“Can I smell cake?” Jiwon yells from the front door.

“Of course you can, Jinwoo hyeong hasn’t shut up about baking all day,” Hanbin reminds him curtly.

Their feet slap loud on the wooden floors as they make their way towards the kitchen. No sooner has Jiwon appeared in Jaewon’s line of site than he’s making a beeline for Jinwoo, “c’mon hyeong share!”

Hanbin has a little more control over his stomach, choosing to prioritise Jaewon over cake, “hey there. I hear it’s not good news.”

“Eh, it’s not great news,” Jaewon concedes, “I did alright in the end, it just wasn’t enough.”

“No regrets,” Hanbin asks him seriously.

Smiling, Jaewon shakes his head, “none at all.”

Something about the rather pointed narrowing of Hanbin’s eyes makes Jaewon think that he’s probably aware of the one rather obvious regret currently in play here. Still, for now Seo Chulgoo is out of site and mind, and nothing Olltii has supposedly said is going to change that.

“Who did you go out to in the end?” Minho asks, “Seo Chulgoo?”

“Nah man, no one got eliminated in the rap battle round. It was your cousin that knocked me out.”

Minho blinks at Jaewon for a moment like he hasn’t quite heard him right, then he explodes with a delighted shriek, “Gunhee’s still in?”

“He’s thriving,” Jaewon tells him, dryly.

At his shoulder, Hanbin glares at Minho, no doubt for being an insensitive ass. Jaewon can take it though, in the grand scheme of things Gunhee probably needs the publicity more.

“Shall we eat cake?” Jinwoo pipes up brightly. He has apparently finished icing the cake in rather sloppy pastel pink letters that read Welcome Home One.

It’s chocolate cake, slightly overbaked but to Jaewon it tastes heavenly. Jinwoo marvels at his own baking prowess, Minho is giddy at Gunhee’s triumph. Jiwon looks like he might bust a nut from the cake alone and Hanbin tries to be stern with him – he fails miserably.

Regardless of whatever else it might mean to be in YG, Jaewon’s glad that he has these friends to fall back on.

“Woosung and you should probably have a chat about…things,” Hanbin says, blinking pointedly at Jaewon. He still can’t wink.

Woosung…Olltii…he seems like a decent kid, more or less. But the conversation Jaewon could have with him doesn’t sound comfortable or fun. So he leans back in his chair, closes his eyes, and declares, “it can wait.”



Two weeks later, Jaewon’s checking his reflection in the mirror. He adjusts and readjusts his jacket, searching for a way to hide his frame within it that doesn’t look stereotypically Jung Jaewon. He’s already ditched the baseball cap in favour of a beanie, and has a mask pulled up over his face. The most important thing, is that when he steps out, he doesn’t look like himself.

His manager is indisposed, fled the city for a few days with Jaewon’s blessing. She’d been pitifully grateful when he’d agreed to cover for her and stay out of trouble while she was gone, though he can’t pretend that he doesn’t enjoy the enhanced freedom.

Jaewon leaves his dorm, heads down the road, catches a subway to Hongdae. It’s the middle of the day and no one tells him that he can’t. No one even recognises him. He blends into the midweek crowds gleefully, he doesn’t think public transport ever felt so good.

When he arrives, Kevin is waiting for him. He’s less well disguised that Jaewon, his dreads tied back with an oversized scrunchy, wearing cargo shorts underneath a button down shirt. After everything, he can stand in the street, in broad daylight, and no one stops him.

“Funny how fame works,” Kevin muses as they duck between streets in search of a relatively uncrowded café, “I was at Brown two nights ago and people couldn’t leave me alone. But today…”

“It’s all the tourists, they don’t give a shit about Korean hiphop,” Jaewon nods I the direction of a group of westerners gathered round a boy with a guitar like they’ve never seen a busker before.

“Hey, I’m a foreigner!” Kevin protests.

“Yeah but-“

“But what?”

“That’s different.” Jaewon throws up his hands in defeat, “I dunno man you don’t seem like an American.”

“And yet, I am one.”

They slip into a café well off the main drag, and take their iced lattes out to the tables on the street. Occasionally, groups of students or tourists come wandering by, some of them do a double take when they see Jaewon and Kevin, like they might just recognise them, but no one stops to ask them if they’re One and G2.

Jaewon takes a long slurp of his drink, “damn that’s so good.”

Kevin cocks an eyebrow at him, “just an iced latte man”

“You don’t understand. My manager never lets me drink milk. She’s scared I’m gonna get fat overnight if I eat anything that’s not a vegetable.”

“Yikes,” Kevin shakes his head, “you idols really don’t have an easy time of it.”

“I’m not an idol,” Jaewon corrects him.

“Maybe not any more. But you were, and you will be again.”

“You don’t know that,”

“Sure I do,” Kevin reaches forward to rest a reassuring hand on Jaewon’s shoulder, “you’ll be fine.”

The sun is riding high in the sky, and with a jolt Jaewon realises that he’s very hot indeed. Black clothes in the summer are never a good idea, but somewhere along the line he lost track of the seasons. He pauses with his fingers on the zip of his jacket, debating whether he can risk taking it off or not, if that would be a step too far.

“If you’re hot, take your jacket off,” Kevin rolls his eyes, “what’s the worst that could happen? Someone might recognise you?”

“I see your point, but my manager would be in a world of trouble if I was caught.”

“Why? Because she was a human for five minutes and so were you? Listen, if the company’s gonna be breathing down your neck like this no matter what, you might as well have some fun.”

“Do you have any idea how long I’ve been waiting for someone to say that to me?” Jaewon breathes a sigh of relief pulling off his jacket. For good measure, he ditches the beanie as well.

Kevin’s lips pinch with suppressed laughter, “you have such bad hat hair.”

“My wild locks must be let free,” Jaewon runs a hand through his hair, tossing it out behind him where he can feel it bounce erratically to a rhythm of it’s own devising, “so tell me, what have you been up to since they so unfavourably booted you off Show Me The Money in favour of yours truly?”

“Yeah, that didn’t work out so well for them did it?” Kevin teases, like Jaewon needs reminding, “I dunno man I’ve been chilling. Working on some new material, gearing up for some gigs.”

“Gigs! Man I wish I got to do gigs,” Jaewon says, as much to himself as anything, “you got space for a support act who barely has two full songs to his name?”

“If you played at one of my gigs, more people would show up for you than for me.”

“So?” Jaewon puts on his best cocky smile.

Kevin falls for it, hook line and sinker. Scowling only semi-seriously, he leans in to explain in big slow syllables like you might to a child. “If people show up for you, you’re not the support act, you’re the main event.”

“Aren’t I always?” Jaewon beams. Kevin gives a drawn out groan of fake irritation and crashes back into his chair.

“Look at you all cocky. You’ve picked up since Show Me The Money.”

“Tell me about it,” Jaewon shudders, “that show was seriously bad for my nerves. And my sleeping habits. I dunno what I was thinking going back.”

Kevin is silent. Jaewon looks round to find him staring into space, pensively, like he’s searching very hard for the question he wants to ask.

Jaewon reaches over to touch him lightly on the shoulder, but that doesn’t snap him out of it, “Kevin? You ok?”

With a great huff, Kevin comes back into the conversation. He looks distinctly uncomfortable, and Jaewon starts to worry that he might be wrestling with bad news.

“It’s just…I mean…I don’t wanna sound insensitive but…” Kevin starts. And stops. And starts again.

“Spit it out,” Jaewon urges him, voice more confident than he feels.

Kevin has to stare at the table to talk properly, “You seemed kinda fucked up about Seo Chulgoo and like…are you alright?”

Oh. That simple. Despite himself, Jaewon lets out a bark of relieved laughter, “Seo Chulgoo? Yeah man I’m fine. He was like a one week thing.”

The truth is that Jaewon’s still angrier than he probably should be, and he keeps sidestepping Hanbin’s attempts to get him to talk to Olltii. It’s silly, to let something that didn’t even count as a proper relationship hold so much weight over him, but it turns out that the one thing he really hates is being lied to.

Perhaps Kevin can sense that he’s not getting the full story, perhaps he just needs to finish his piece. Either way, he ploughs onwards, “I mean, I know that you’re a grown ass man and you can handle yourself but he just struck me as a bit of a user and I was worried for you back there.”

“I had no idea you were paying so much attention,” Jaewon tries to keep his voice bright but even he can hear the note of bitterness that creeps in. He’s rather touched that Kevin took the time to look out for him, lord knows that even now, much as they enjoy each other’s company they don’t really know each other that well.

That’s probably what makes Kevin so easy to be around. He’s very straightforward, he doesn’t keep important shit up his sleeves. Jaewon looks at him and sees an open book that won’t judge him for being closed sometimes, and in that way he kind of reminds him of Minho, though he possesses a perceptiveness that sets him apart.

“Yeah well, I don’t normally like guys like that.” Kevin says. He says it so casually that it takes Jaewon a moment to cut through his voice to the words beneath.

Kevin is suddenly very interested in the contents of his cup, fingers tightening around the plastic rim, head bent low over it, like he’s waiting for the milky brown liquid to swallow him whole. His cheeks are burning, and he’s conspicuously avoiding looking at Jaewon in a manner that would be funny if it weren’t so ludicrously unexpected.

“Well,” Jaewon says, because someone has to say something, “I didn’t see that coming.”

“I shouldn’t have said anything,” Kevin groans, “shit. I’ve made it awkward, haven’t I? Just forget I opened my mouth.”

Jaewon shrugs, “I’m not awkward. I promise not to be if you aren’t either.” And truthfully, he doesn’t feel particularly like the fundamentals of their friendship have been displaced. Just because he wasn’t aware that Kevin’s feelings for him were anything more than friendly doesn’t mean the idea doesn’t make sense after he’s had a moment or two to mull it around his head. They’re a similar age, they get on, they both love hiphop, they’re at ease with each other – he’s heard of worse recipes for happiness than that.

Kevin evidently feels the need to backpedal against the wheel of time nonetheless, “just to be clear, I didn’t invite you out today as a ‘secret date’ or anything. I just wanted to hang out as friends. I don’t want anything from you.” He looks at Jaewon with pleading eyes, waiting for a judgement that’s never going to fall on his head. Taking crushes so seriously must be exhausting.

Jaewon gestures to the coffee on the table, “we’re at a café together. We’re talking. We’re having fun. No one else is here. This could be a date.”

“But…I just said it didn’t have to be,” Kevin looks at him nonplussed.

“And I said it could be.”

“But you don’t like me like that.”

“I haven’t had time to think about it yet. I might do, you never know,” Jaewon smiles as casually as he can at Kevin. He looks like he needs calming down. Hell, he looks like he needs to lie down.

Gradually, Kevin’s shoulders relax, though he looks no less confused about his stroke of good luck. “Right. So, how does this work?”

“First, I do this,” Jaewon drags his chair closer to Kevin, close enough that his hand is in easy holding distance, if it should come to that, “then, you tell me that you’re gonna get me on the guest list for your next gig.”

“Already done,” Kevin mutters, and a fresh wave of scarlet washes over his face.

Adorable. Jaewon will have to work him up to proper compliments. Straight boys always need to take their time.

“Then what?” Kevin asks, eagerly, hanging off every word.

“Then whatever,” Jaewon replies, “we keep going as before. You can start by telling me about the new music you’re working on.”

The more he talks, the more Kevin’s initial nerves get themselves under control, and by the time they’re done with their coffee it’s like nothing has changed. Except that now Jaewon’s paying more attention to the wrinkles at the corner of his eyes when he smiles, and how his every emotion is displayed through his cheeks. There are no butterflies, no instantaneous attraction, but there’s the beginnings of proper trust between them, and that feels promising.

Jaewon has been looking for trust for a long time. Trust in himself, trust in his future, trust in anyone beyond the four white walls of the trainee building. Sitting outside, in the Hongdae sun, with a whole host of trials behind him and Kevin chattering excitedly about dirty bass and clipped high hat beats, he feels like he might have a real shot at sorting his life out. It may not be everything he ever hoped for, but it’s a start.