Strastruck - Chapter 9 - Im_Moon_Wang (2024)

Chapter Text

J ❤️

🤞🏼 for today!

A small smile lifted the corner of Seonghwa's lips as he pocketed his phone to get back to work. He got up excited despite the knot in his stomach that had not left him for several days. Today, the results of the fancalls were coming in and he couldn't take it anymore. These two weeks of waiting had made him sick with apprehension and whatever the result, he would finally be able to breathe again. Since Atee*z's comeback, he had a mixed feeling. This album was definitely the one of consecration for them. Acclaimed by critics, loved by fans, promoted around the world, the success was more than there and Seonghwa felt his heart swell with pride at each mention of the duo and their new feats. But he couldn't help but see the number of fans increasing, tickling his possessive mind which whispered in his ear that the chances of winning new fancalls or even a fansign were diminishing visibly and he hated being that fan there. “The price of fame” Wooyoung told him after the announcement of the winners of the first fancalls of this comeback. Seonghwa was in his third this month and he was hoping to win it more than anything. He had attempted a lot more of albums this time, many more than he ever thought he would, and knew full well that if the outcome was unfavorable, he would not repeat. He couldn't afford to go broke like he had done a few months ago, especially if he didn't have any rewards. He felt jaded and hurt by this vast lottery and had to pull himself together so as not to suffer from it on a daily basis. His greatest comfort could not become his source of frustration and anguish. He had already had the chance to speak to Hongjoong 3 times in his life and should know how to be satisfied with this gift. He jumped as Wooyoung gently shoved him out of the way where he was stoic, lost in thought.

_ The second batch is ready hyung! I can help you at the counter if needed now.

_ There aren't many people there, don't worry.

_ Maybe, but you don't seem well and a little company won't do you any harm.

Despite the cook's comforting smile, Seonghwa's grateful one didn't reach his eyes and Wooyoung sighed while stroking his back. The barista shrugged his shoulders before approaching the counter where new customers were waiting. He still had a few hours to wait for the results and had work to do.

He was busy preparing a cappuccino when a smiling Ms. Suh appeared behind the counter, a small box in her hands. Seonghwa raised a questioning eyebrow at her before placing the cup on the tray Wooyoung was patiently holding.

_ Yes Mrs. Suh?

_ A package arrived in your name Seonghwa.

_ It's for me ?

_ You'll excuse me, I opened it. I didn't see it was addressed to you. But I didn't touch anything!

Under Wooyoung's wide eyes, the young man delicately grabs the package before opening the sides. A box of Animal Crossing chocolates and a letter awaited him and he grabbed the paper, his fingers trembling, his eyes full of hope.

Seonghwa,

I know that recent times have not been very pleasant for you so I hope that this little attention will comfort you.

I also want to be forgiven for making you wait so long... I promise that soon I will stand before you to give you a gift.

Believe in your luck. It won't abandon you. Atee*z is always there for you.

See you soon

J.

PS: I checked, there is no mint!! No need to look askance at this poor little green leaf, it's innocent!

With red cheeks, Seonghwa bit his lip as he clutched the package to him. Wooyoung's shrill cry pierced his eardrums and he hurried away into the kitchen to Mrs. Suh's laughter.

_Yah Park Seonghwa!!! Come back here !!

_ You have an order to serve Wooyoung.

_ But Mrs. Suh! You can't drop a bombshell like that and expect me to stand idly by watching him wiggle like a lovestruck teenager!

_ Leave Wooyoung…

_ I just want to know what…

_ The Wooyoung order!

Seonghwa stuck his tongue out at his friend when he saw him glaring at him before leaving to the waiting customers. With a beating heart, the young man took the opportunity to take the box of chocolates out of the box and delicately folded the letter before heading towards his locker in their break room where he placed his gifts. With a smile on his face, he took a pic before sending it to the sender.

Hwa ❤️

[Photo]

I would have liked to be able to thank you in person but in the meantime: thank you for everything. You are (almost) the best. ❤️

He barely had time to put his phone away before a tornado hit him, making him cry out in the process.

_ Now Park Seonghwa you are going to confess everything to me!

_ Confess what to you?

_ You want to play smart but your dear loved one has revealed you! “He’s just a friend” my ass ! You've been flirting through messages for months and now he's sending gifts?! I want to know who it is! I have the right to know!

Seonghwa laughed as his friend curled around him like a koala, a pout on his face.

_ It’s not my dear loved as you say. He's... Maybe more than a friend in the making but I promise you nothing has happened yet.

The cook sighed and finally resolved to release his friend, not without yet another pout. Seonghwa pinched his cheek friendly and took him in his arms. A comfortable silence settled between them before a whisper left the older man's lips.

_ I think I like him a little.

Wooyoung didn't respond and snuggled closer to his friend's warm body, tucking his head under his chin.

_ You will be the first to meet him if our meeting goes well. Promised.

The cook suddenly raised his head before diving into the dark orbs in front of him.

_Have you never met him?

Seonghwa blushed before nodding his head.

_No… But that doesn’t stop me from appreciating what we both share. On the one hand, I'm not blinded by his hypothetical beauty or blocked by a physique that I wouldn't find attractive... I've gotten to know who he is inside and... I love him a lot.

With bright eyes, Seonghwa broke away from his friend and locked his locker after one last glance at its contents. It would have been a lie to say that he wasn't frustrated that things hadn't changed since J. returned from Paris. Several weeks had already passed and he was chomping at the bit with each new day that passed without having met him. He understood that the producer was overwhelmed with work and knew how to be patient most of the time. But he could only notice that he had been more irritable and impatient lately, frustrated by the fancalls and the lack of progress in his relationship. He needed something to happen in his life and shake up his daily life before allowing himself to be overwhelmed by his threatening negative thoughts.

_ Boys, I need you at the counter.

_ Of course Mrs. Suh!

The two young men set off together and Wooyoung shook his friend's hand before getting behind the cash register, ready to take orders. Seonghwa smiled at Mrs. Suh who winked at him before handing him an order to prepare.

_Your little rapper has something to worry about. He’s not the one who makes you smile like that anymore.

The barista blushes as he prepares his hot chocolate. Maybe the fancall wasn't what he was most looking forward to now…

********

Leaning against the sink in the break room, Seonghwa chewed on his finger, eyes glued to the clock. Just a few more seconds and the results would be there. Wooyoung stroked his back to soothe him and Yeosang's face in the cook's phone screen looked at him tenderly. Feeling that their friend was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Wooyoung had triggered a best friend's operation and had taken advantage of the young teacher's meal break to invoke him and support their hyung.

_If I don't win I won't do it anymore. No more making myself sick over this.

Finally, 1 p.m. appeared and Seonghwa took a deep breath before opening the site. Wooyoung's grip on his arm helped keep him steady as he typed out the winners list. Dutifully, he scanned the board before scowling and putting the device in his pants pocket. A heartbreaking sigh escaped him and he looked at his friends with shining eyes.

_ I guess that means it's time for me to stop all this.

_ Can I look ? Maybe you saw it wrong.

A joyless laugh shook Seonghwa's shoulders, who nevertheless handed Wooyoung his phone after unlocking it.

_ I don't think I've gone blind but if that can reassure you.

_ Hyung? Do you want us to come to your house this evening? Just the 3 of us, a bottle of soju and some junk food.

_ Yes… Thank you Sangie.

A small scream escaped Wooyoung, attracting the barista's attention and his friend handed him his phone, a smile on his face.

_ You received a message, hyung.

Seonghwa blushed as he picked up his device, which for some time now had been displaying as a wallpaper a selfie that J. had sent him upon his return from Paris. Sitting in a car, his hood was pulled down over his face, only part of his jaw was visible in the dim light and Seonghwa felt himself burst into flames at the sight of him. Maybe it was ridiculous to get carried away over something so trivial but he didn't care. J. opened up to him little by little and he appreciated every step. The notification at the top of the screen made his heart sink.

J ❤️

… So ?

Hwa ❤️

T.T.

_ Sannie would like to see you hyung. Can I invite him this evening?

Seonghwa nodded wordlessly before leaving to mechanically clean the counter where he had prepared their lunch. He vaguely heard his friends whispering behind him but didn't pay any further attention. He knew he must look pathetic and blamed himself for worrying them so little. He impatiently waited for 2 p.m. to go back to work, wanting more than anything to occupy his mind. Stop thinking about Kim Hongjoong. And no longer let himself be affected by the absence of J. at his side.

********

Hwa ❤️

Would you agree to do a call...?

Seonghwa's afternoon had passed in a complete blur, the young man totally disconnected from his surroundings. He only wanted to go home and start the X-Wing Lego he got for Christmas from his brother. Mingi had made no comment on his lack of words but had watched over him with attention and concern throughout the service. Seonghwa had spent the bus ride with his head leaning against his friend's shoulder, his box of chocolates clutched to him and he was beyond grateful to Mingi for being that silent presence for him. They separated after a tender hug and Seonghwa returned home with his head bowed. After placing his box of chocolates in his Animal Crossing shelf filled with stuffed animals and figurines, he took a pic to post on his Instagram and took out his Lego set, ready to enjoy his afternoon. But he couldn't concentrate. The bricks spread out on the table in front of him seemed to taunt him and the plan could have been written in an alien language and he would not have paid attention. He had more than 2 hours to kill before his friends arrived and his gaze was relentlessly drawn to the box of chocolates. He needed J., needed to talk to him, needed his presence.

J ❤️

I'm in the middle of a meeting 🥺💔

Annoyed by his constant irritability, Seonghwa finally put the bricks back in their bags before putting the box aside. He knew he wouldn't achieve anything today. Finally, he opted for the option of taking care of himself and locked himself in his bathroom to shower and do his full skincare and haircare routine, away from his phone. He could only count on himself to feel good right now. He blamed himself for being so resentful towards J. but couldn't put on a good face today despite his gift. Was he too demanding?

His phone was lit up with notifications when he finally emerged from his bathroom, clean and slightly more relaxed. A glance at the time told him that his friends' arrival was approaching and he opened the group chat he was having with them to see that they were waiting for permission to come early, to which Seonghwa responded with the affirmative. His apartment was always clean and tidy anyway and he didn't want to spend more time alone. He hesitated for a moment before finally opening J's waiting message.

J ❤️

I'm sorry Seonghwa... I'm doing everything to make our first meeting happen quickly. I hope you’ll forgive me when it happens and you’ll understand.

He locked his phone without answering and went to the kitchen to prepare drinks and some snacks for the evening, with a bleeding heart. He was surely selfish and would certainly blame himself later but for the moment, he couldn't accept this umpteenth refusal.

As soon as the door opened, Seonghwa welcomed Wooyoung's exuberant screams with gratitude as well as San's suffocating hug. He was going crazy walking around in circles all alone in his too-quiet apartment. Behind them, Yeosang held a bag that emanated the nice smell of fried chicken while Mingi brought up the rear, two bottles of soju in his hands. With a wet look in his eyes, Seonghwa brought them into his home after hugging them all lovingly.

_ Thank you for coming to support your pathetic friend.

_ Aish hyung!

A little pat smacked the back of his head and San gave him another hug, giving him the most childish look he could, breaking Seonghwa's barriers and rolling his eyes.

_ Stop being mean to yourself hyung. It happens to everyone to feel down.

_ Because of a lost fancall or a ghost boyfriend? I doubt.

Silence suddenly fell as everyone took their seats around the coffee table in the living room. Yeosang and Mingi stormed the beanbags while Wooyoung and San settled on the sofa, leaving a place in the middle for Seonghwa who brought the tray he had prepared. Everyone collected their glass of soju and the oldest gulped it down in one go under the worried looks of his friends. Wooyoung patted his back and San began serving the food.

_ Let’s talk about something else please. How is your work at the dojo Sannie? The kids haven't driven you crazy yet?

San’s eyes lit up as he recounted the exploits of his students and their progress in learning Taekwondo. Wooyoung's constant caress on his back helped him relax and he sighed as he settled more comfortably against his friend. He was going to make it a point to spend a good evening in their company and not think about anything.

The atmosphere finally lightened as a Mario Kart tournament took place in Seonghwa's living room. Tipsy, he had abandoned the idea of beating up a Yeosang proud to be able to display his talent in front of his friends and preferred to take advantage of their presence rather than awaken his competitive spirit. Although the oldest of the group and considered their mother, he was more than grateful to them for being the rock he could lean on when he felt he was losing his footing, each helping in their own way. While Mingi was the silent presence, Wooyoung was the ball of energy; while Yeosang was the listening ear, San was the person most able to change minds with his jokes and anecdotes. He couldn't imagine his daily life without one of them. Could J. fit in as naturally as Mingi, the newest addition to their group? Seonghwa jumped at this thought, dropping his Joy-con which crashed into the head of Yeosang sitting at his feet who screamed cheating. Why was he thinking about that? J. was still only an intangible presence, there was no question of integrating him into his friends in advance. Feeling nauseous, Seonghwa excused himself before locking himself in his bathroom. He exhaled deeply and ran some water over his face to try to reduce the heat burning his cheeks and calm his heart, which had been racing at the mere thought of having J. by his side. He closed his eyes and rested his forehead in his hand. He was no longer used to feeling such strong emotions for someone. Single for several years, he had made a promise to himself to no longer let himself be fooled by his sensitivity, he had suffered enough from it before. He had learned to be content with fleeting encounters and even more with himself; his heart under close surveillance. But he had let himself be charmed by J., his shyness, his kindness and his daily presence. He suffered at the thought of possibly having to stop this whole thing, but he had to protect himself. The past days nourished the attachment he had for this man and he could not hope infinitely. No matter if J. wasn't ready, Seonghwa couldn't accept this situation anymore. Things were going to have to change, one way or another.

When he reappeared in his living room, an unusual silence greeted him. Crowded around the coffee table, blissful smiles on their faces, his friends seemed to be waiting for him and he looked at them one by one without saying a word. Finally, Wooyoung handed him an envelope.

_ We have a gift for you hyung. From Mrs. Suh and us.

All too quickly, tears welled up in his eyes and he batted his eyelashes to keep them from falling. He delicately sat down on his knees on his soft carpet and grabbed the envelope with trembling hands.

_ You should not have…

_ Open it before you tell us that!

He tried not to rush and opened the envelope with wet eyes. He grabbed the single piece of paper and frowned at the sheet before him. His highlighted name jumped out at him and he looked up questioningly at his friends who gestured for him to look in more detail. Then he studied the paper carefully, his breath hitching as he became aware of the gift that had been given to him. He knew these sheets, they had been taunting him for a month by plastering these failures in his face for fancalls. Except this time, the title was different. His throat tight, he swallowed, murmuring.

_ Did you win me a fansign?

A choked sob escaped him and soon he was mobbed by his friends, enveloped in their embrace as he cried into them.

_ But how did you do it?

_ We went online to understand how it worked, we all contributed, everyone organized group orders.

_And Ms. Suh put pressure on us to succeed.

A sincere and powerful laugh shook Seonghwa's body as he kissed his friends in turn.

_ You are completely crazy! There was no need to go to such trouble for me.

_ You won't say that when truckloads of albums are going to arrive at your house and you have to send everything around the world.

But that was the least of Seonghwa’s worries. He had the best friends in the world and was going to meet Kim Hongjoong and that was all that mattered to him right now.

_ I love you so much.

Seonghwa let himself be enveloped by his friends as he thanked them over and over again. Despite his bruised heart, he felt alive again thanks to them. And Atee*z.

Strastruck - Chapter 9 - Im_Moon_Wang (2024)
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