Pairings: SiHyuk and Broken!BloHyuk (more to come in future chapters)
Summary: Lee Hyukjae is an unemployed pastry chef who just got dumped by the love of his life. In comes Choi Siwon, the jerk owner of a French restaurant who provides a second chance for Hyukjae to start over. Problem is, they
Hyukjae used to love the rain. It meant staying inside the house, watching out his window counting colored umbrellas versus black ones and sounds of muted traffic and the patter of rain against glass. Most of all it meant hot cocoa and blended cacao beans, the smell of chocolate permeating the kitchen and staining his fingers for hours. It meant busying himself in the kitchen sometimes discovering new recipes and the many ways to peel an onion, and then just settling with baking cheese truffles to give away to neighbors once the rain stops.
He's back in Seoul for a month already and he's still trying to get used to everything. He missed his family in Korea but there was just a sameness he found extremely boring, from the lack of color in the markets and the way everyone rushed into each motion like tomorrow and today were merely minutes apart. So when he woke up that moment to the sound of rain against his window, he had breathed a sigh of relief.
It is still raining at this exact moment and it's been over an hour since he's stumbled into this bar, now wet and miserable. He's cold but his damp coat lies unusable on the empty stool next to him and he's drank three shots of brandy already, the bartender giving him a worried glance every now and then. It's a far cry from how he was that morning when he'd rushed out of the apartment he shared with his boyfriend of two years to get to the markets to buy the freshest ingredients for a surprise breakfast.
Truthfully, he doesn't know why he's here. He's never stepped into this bar before, other than the obvious need for refuge. In his studying in Paris he's learned to have an appreciation for wines purely for the taste of it, but he'd never imagine himself to be the type to lose himself in inebriation.
His phone rings yet again and he lets the tune play, barely looking up, ignoring the annoyed glances being thrown his way by the other occupants of the bar. Let them stare, he thinks bitterly. He didn't care. He used to, but not anymore.
Eventually, he sneaks a peek into the phone screen. Forty missed calls, he reads numbly. All from the same person. Fifty-seven text messages. He considers against it for a moment, but he decides to read one.
I'm sorry. - Blo
He drops the phone instantly with a clatter, feels his vision start to blur again as the tears threaten to overcome him once more, and lets out shaky breath.
It was raining two weeks ago. That was the last day he saw Tablo before he had bid him goodbye for a business conference, and he had wrapped his arms around him that night, the blankets keeping them both warm and his nose contently nuzzled in the crook of the other man's neck. "In fifty years we'll all be dead," Tablo had muttered sleepily, snatching his fingers and wrapping it around his own. "The future's so fucking bleak."
"As long as you're in it, I don't care," Hyukjae answered cheerfully and Tablo kissed his forehead and told him he loved him.
Or so he thought.
How did we become this way?
When Hyukjae came to Paris, he had no high expectations. People his age kept on saying he was lucky to be accepted to the Le Cordon Bleu on a scholarship. Junsu then told him Paris was for lovers and 'you'll finally meet your man there, Hyukjae-ah!', his brother repeated careful instructions on how to get from the airplane to the college dorms because 'Yah, Hyukjae-ah, you always get lost in foreign countries, not that you've never been to much but you get lost on your way home from the supermarket, what can you expect now?!' and he's been quick to correct him that he did not get lost, he just wasn't used to missing the bus and everything's different when it's night, didn't he know? His dad...
Never mind his dad.
The point is, he wasn't expecting one day he worked overtime in that coffee shop he was interning in on his second year to his Patisserie Diploma to change his life forever. It took three cups of black coffee, 'The Way You Look Tonight' playing quietly from the jukebox, a shared language amidst an entire country that seemed to speak in anything but his native tongue, and a 'Hi, I'm Tablo, I think your French is really cute."
He's read in a dozen self-help books that it takes more than a good first meeting to find your one. It was different, though. Everything was different with Tablo. He recalled the sweating of palms and his shaking hands as he gripped the coffee pot a bit too tightly to tip just the right amount on Tablo's cup, the blossoming red of a blush creeping from his neck to his cheeks as he realized Tablo had finally dropped the book he was engrossed in and was staring at him with an unreadable expression on his face. He couldn't resist as he passed by Tablo's table more than once, refilling his coffee and receiving a gentle smile in return. He risked nearly getting fired when he spent a one-hour break sitting across the other man, talking about anything under the sun.
At the end of his shift he had a rare moment of bravado that would have made his older brother proud: he'd left his number in one of Tablo's paper napkins, hoping each step he took on his way back to his own apartment that he would call.
Then he did.
And again the day after, and the day after, and one day after class Tablo was waiting for him on one of the park benches. Dinner dates and coffee dates where they talked for hours followed, chocolate-chip cookies in threes (for 'I love you', Hyukjae said sheepishly, and Tablo had laughed) wrapped in foil nestled every Friday in Tablo's book bag so he has something to snack on while boarding a train to the Sorbonne. Mondays were soufflé-movie nights at Tablo's apartment, his hair tickling Hyukjae's neck as they sat next to each other on the sofa. Early Thursday at dawn Hyukjae would wake up after they've made love and he'll giggle to himself, telling himself he's lucky he's in love and happy.
But then it happened. He couldn't even remember exactly how it began but it was there, that feeling that something bad was going to happen and there was nothing he could do about it. At first he tried to shake the feeling off but it persisted, like loose shoelaces or the texture of undercooked rice against his tongue.
Then there were the calls that became rarer and rarer, the growing number of times Hyukjae ended up waiting in the cold on a shaded park bench after class alone, how he's gotten used to saying 'it's okay' as an answer to one apology after another.
So how did they become this way? It was pretty clear, as clear as night and day when he returned to the apartment that morning to the sound of shared muted laughter in the bedroom, clothes disrobed on the hallway, Tablo gripping the sheets with another man beneath him on their bed.
Why was he here in this bar? It was pretty obvious too.
"There you are, you worried me," a way-too familiar voice resonates from behind him and tentative hands find their way on his shoulders, much like last time.
His fingers tremble around the shot glass and he doesn't risk looking up.
Oh, how he hated rain.
He figured he owed Tablo a few minutes to explain himself, but really, how many more of 'I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you' did he have to hear anyway? He couldn't help it anymore, he cuts Tablo off mid-explanation. "Did you really love me?"
He hates himself instantly at how weak he sounded.
Tablo looks taken aback by the question. He doesn't speak, choosing to stare at a random spot on the counter, and Hyukjae continued. "Did you? That time in the Paris market, that day you went down on your knees on a cobblestone road because I asked you to, each and every moment you told me you loved me." He breathes harshly, gripping the shot glass tighter around his palm enough for even the smooth surface to hurt. "Were those all lies?"
The tears have fallen yet again and Tablo was practically a blur; he blames it on the alcohol but he knows better. Still no answer. "Yah, Tablo-shii," he says, voice shaking. "Did you really love me?"
In front of them, the bartender shifts his feet, his uneasiness melting against the tense air to be forgotten as he finally decides to refill Hyukjae's glass, taking quick steps to the other end of the bar as soon as he was done. This was probably an embarrassing scene that he would regret later but Hyukjae doesn't care.
How could he? His world was ending bit by bit. Everything he worked hard for, rendered useless. This was inconsequential.
"No," Tablo repeats, finally sounding sure of himself compared to the uneasy babbling he spouted earlier that Hyukjae restrains himself from leaping off his seat and punching him. "They weren't all lies," he says, his voice softening and his hand's on his fist around the glass, gently prying it open, caressing the soft skin and Hyukjae's breath hitches at the familiarity. "I loved you, the boy who made everything from his hands out of love, the boy with the crazy smile that everyone laughed at," Despite himself Hyukjae feels himself smile at this, "The boy who was still too thin even after eating everything in his favorite restaurant in one sitting, who risked everything to fulfill a dream in Paris even when everyone said you'll never make it."
"All those things I said, I meant every word." Tablo lets his hand go and puts it back in his pockets, facing him squarely. "So yes, I did really love you."
"But," he says gently yet firmly, "it ends here."
Hyukjae nods numbly, looking at anything but Tablo. He concentrates his gaze instead on the display of wines in front of him, knowing that Tablo's waiting for an answer and knowing also that he can't bring himself to say a word because once he speaks he'll cry harder and he doesn't know anymore if he even has the strength left to do that now. Tablo reaches for his hand and he doesn't stop him as he plants a kiss on his knuckles, whispers a goodbye as he turns and leaves the bar in quick steps.
If this was a movie, he'd run after him and beg. Instead, Hyukjae downs a shot of brandy in one gulp, hoping it would melt the lump in his throat and the sudden constricting he's feeling painfully against his chest. But the painful feeling still remains.
He supposes it was just his heart, breaking.
Lee Seung-hyun, or Seungri, as he prefers to be called, is twenty-three years old. His father was vice president of Lee Drugs, and his mother owns her own chain of Yoga schools. He's currently taking up Accounting at Inha University and is on his way to inheriting the family business.
Choi Siwon is twenty-four years old, son of Choi Jungsoo, proprietor of the top five-star hotels of the country, currently studying Restaurant Management in the same university as Seungri, and is incredibly bored.
Match made in heaven? Maybe, maybe not. He didn't even know why he bothered meeting up with him in the first place. He planned everything well, covered his tracks by telling Hankyung that he was off to a Baking Conference to test out new cake recipes for the restaurant so no one would notice his disappearance. He picked out a bar at Incheon, respectable enough but definitely not a place his dad would ever think he'd go to. And Seungri seemed like a good enough catch, bisexual but leaning more to the side Siwon was more accustomed to, smart, rich and good-looking.
But like almost all the dates he's been to (even the ones with hapless girls his dad's set him up with) for the last two years, Siwon felt his interest drifting elsewhere.
In fact, he finds the conversation of the couple right next to him inherently more interesting.
He couldn't really see their faces clearly due to the dim lighting of the bar, but he can hear enough to piece the story together. Someone was deeply in love, someone sailed along for the ride. Someone's heart is broken.
"Did you really love me?"
He cringes inwardly but managed to fake a bitter chuckle to Seungri, who had looked up at him with questioning eyes. Stupid question, he wanted to snap at the guy. If he really loved you he wouldn't have done that.
If he really loved you the two of you won't be having this conversation.
"What do you care?"
He looks up in surprise and realizes that he had said what he thought out loud. "Nothing," he says smoothly. Seungri looks suspicious, taking a sip of Evian with one eyebrow raised at him. Siwon nods at him, faking an encouraging smile despite his own inner impatience at having to deal with this, so Seungri continued with his story on how he spent last summer skydiving in Florida.
He listens for a minute or two but again, the voices next to him threaten to capture his interest. He doesn't mean to, really, and he doesn't even understand why, but he's just too taken by what was happening next to him. Without noticing he's adjusted his seat so he could hear better. He's just being kind, he thinks to himself bitterly as he listens to the other man flattering the boy next to him shamelessly. He's stupid if he actually believes him.
"Excuse me?" Uh-oh, he said that out loud again.
He considers apologizing to Seungri who's now frowning at him with his arms crossed, and really, he was about to.
"How would you know if it's real love?" he asks, instead, and Seungri just stares at him blankly. "Huh?"
"I mean, look at you and me," Siwon attempts to explain, straightening a bit from his perch on his stool chair. "I bet neither of our parents knows that we met today. I doubt your dad would ever approve of me, and while I don't really care about what my dad has to say about my own affairs since that's my older brother's role, not mine, I still doubt he'd be open to the thought of us being together."
He pauses, and looks at Seungri, who looks a wee bit confused at the sudden change of topic. "I guess my question is what exactly do you want from me?" he asks, struggling to sound kind. "Let's get it all out in the open, no use in fooling each other with all the small talk, Seungri-shii."
Seungri's smile disappears permanently and he grips the glass of water he's been holding tightly. "Yah, Siwon, if you weren't interested in meeting up, you should have just said so," he snaps, eyes flashing in fury.
"It's not that, I-"
"It's difficult enough to get a decent guy date here in Korea, and you have the nerve to waste my time?" Siwon can only gawk in surprise and before he knew it Seungri had emptied the contents of his water glass to his face in a way reminiscent in Korean dramas. He remained open-mouthed in flabbergasted silence, watching Seungri grab his jacket and walk away in a huff, the entire bar looking up at the commotion.
He scowls at the onlookers and turns his back at them. Yet another useless date, and a now-useless Armani jacket to top it all off. He really should think twice before meeting up with a random stranger but he never learns. Yes, it was rude not to listen to his diatribe but it wasn't his fault he found his stories boring, right? And a glass of water in the face was just too dramatic it was ridiculous. He felt an instant rush of anger course inside of him, and Siwon supposes he should run after the other boy and tell him exactly where to shove it, but he's suddenly distracted by a snort at his side.
He turns and there he is, the other boy whose conversation he was listening to earlier shamelessly. Jet-black hair on the longish side, bangs not enough to hide wide, dark-brown eyes still red from crying. Small hands curled around a shot glass and hunched shoulders and sniffling slightly, but his lips are curved upward to a huge smile that revealed his gums. He definitely wasn't the most good-looking boy on earth, Siwon thinks, and if that alone can speak for his boyfriend leaving him then the reasoning behind the conversation he witnessed earlier was hardly shrouded in mystery.
"What are you so amused at," he mutters, grabbing a tissue and desperately attempting to wipe his jacket dry.
"Just happy to know I wasn't the only unlucky one when it comes to love for today," the boy answers, still smiling and downing one shot and then another.
"You're mistaken," he says icily. "I'm hardly in love with that guy. We're just friends talking and hanging out."
"Well then, lucky you."
Shrugging off his jacket, Siwon grabs yet another bunch of tissues, patting his jacket dry. It was a useless cause, he realizes eventually, biting back a curse at the thought of losing such an expensive jacket for something so trivial. Damn that Seungri, he thinks angrily.
A sniffle next to him makes him look up, and he sees the guy next to him now looking at him with glazed eyes. Uh-oh.
"Yah, why are men like that? You love them, cook for them, wash their dishes, give them everything they need, and then they leave you." Yet another sniffle, punctuated by a gulp of another shot of brandy, and Siwon raises his eyebrows at the sight. This wasn't going to be good. "You know when I met him in Paris I thought he was the one? He was so sweet and kind and smart, he even went to the Sorbonne, you know? Studying business, he was really set for big things yet he still loved me. I should have known then that it would end this way but what was I supposed to do, I was in love..." He keeps on talking and Siwon sighs impatiently, focusing his attention back to his jacket and maybe he should make Seungri pay for the entire thing. He just as much as tunes the other boy out until-
"He was my first, you know? He was my first everything." Siwon's hands still around the jacket's pockets he was wiping dry and like his mind was on autopilot, he turns to his side. The boy's smiling dreamily now, and really, this can't be good. "He was my first boyfriend, the first guy who actually gave me a second glance, and he was my first time..." he giggles, teetering precariously on his stool chair and Siwon resists the urge to straighten him up. "You know first times hurt?" Siwon's eyes widen. "But it only hurts for just a little while," he goes on, voice going louder and Siwon could barely believe what he was hearing, but it was like a car crash. You can't just.walk.away. "Then when you get used to it, it gets really, really good. You know we even tried different positions and lots of sex toys...Paris has lots of stores for these kinds of stuff. When I first walked into a sex toy shop, I was like, 'what's that for?' Until we tried it out and then..."
"Yah," Siwon says nervously, shaking the other boy's arm, looking around them to make sure no one hears. "Are you going to keep on talking this way?"
"You don't understand, I loved him," he suddenly says, shoulders shaking pitifully as he starts crying. Oh for crying out loud, Siwon thinks impatiently. "I loved him so much, I just don't-"
"You're such an idiot," Siwon finally snaps, and the other boy stares at him in a mixture of anger and confusion. "What the hell, you don't even know anything-"
"Oh, now I know everything, thank you very much," he cuts him off and the boy pauses, looking shamefaced. "And really, who cares if it's your first relationship? You can give a hundred percent for someone you love and it's always never enough. Men are men, women are women, we're all the same," he shrugs. "That's just how it is."
Siwon gets up, throwing bills on the table to cover for his own drinks from earlier. "You just have to live with it," he mutters, not meeting the other boy's eyes who's now looking at him curiously. Without another word, he turns his back at him and leaves the bar.
He's parked close by and he shrugs on his still-damp jacket, not caring anymore if it's going to stain his crisp white shirt. Oh, he knows all about it all right, giving everything and waking up one day to realize that it's all for nothing. He checks his phone, searches for the familiar name on his contacts list.
Hae - 854-3574
The rain has stopped, it's remains rendering the entire world colorless and it matches well with the night and Siwon's mood. He tucks his phone back into his pocket, gets into his car and prepares yet another night of fruitlessly attempting to forget.
End Chapter 1
Author's note: I swear to God, this is the only angsty chapter. D: The rest are going to be more fun. Next up is the introduction of the rest of the characters. :D