Title: I For You
Pairing: Kyuhyun/Donghae, Kyuhyun/Zhou Mi, Donghae/Victoria
Genre: Romance, Drama, Comedy
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Word Count: 15,657
Summary: Wild things were never meant to be caged, as Cho Kyuhyun learns when he meets the wildest beast of them all - Seoul socialite Lee Donghae.
A/N: Written for the sj_reel contest and based off of Blake Edwards' 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany's. The title, cut, and lyrics are from the Luna Sea song of the same name.
I want to tell you something from my heart
I'm hurt a little bit too much, but I'll still be on time
I love you from my heart
I want to wipe all of the pain away that falls on you
“Donghae, baby! Come back, now; I treated you so good! What about all that money I gave you for the DJ? Aren’t you going to come back with me?”
A young man dressed to the nines in a jet black Givenchy suit, impeccably shined oxfords, and Ray-Ban wayfarers stood near the top of the stairs leading up to his rooftop apartment and stared down at the man waiting for him. The Seoul lights illuminating his frame dramatically and the light breeze tossing his perfectly styled hair made look for all the world like a haute couture model, the world his catwalk and everyone else his audience. The smirk on his handsome face said that he was well aware of it, too.
His expression more amused than anything, Donghae dug his keys out of his pockets and lowered his sunglasses to make eye contact with his current nuisance.“Jungshin, darling, I had a lovely time tonight, but I truly need to get to bed. I’ll simply look dreadful if I don’t. I’m sure you understand – once again, good night!”
“My name is Kim Hyunwoo, baby! And you like me!” Hyunwoo attempted to climb the stairs, but stopped as soon as Donghae turned to continue his trip up the stairs.
“You’re right, Mr. Kim; I simply worship you, but I need to get on to bed. Have a lovely evening,” he shouted as he stomped up towards his apartment.
He gave the man one final wave and ran up the rest of the stairs amidst the yells and protests from his latest patron. He’d leave after a few more minutes, when he figured out that Donghae wasn’t coming back – they all did, eventually.
“Mr. Lee Donghae! You’ve caused yet another ruckus – I’ll be forced to call the police if you wake me up one more time!”
Startled, Donghae turned his head to see his landlord, a Chinese immigrant by the name of Han Geng, peering out of his window and looking as if he were trying to kill him through sheer mental power.
Making his way up two more steps and coming face to face with the elder man, Donghae flashed him a brilliant, show-stopping smile. “Mr. Han Geng, I am so very sorry for all the trouble I’ve caused you, but I’m sure that there’s no need to have the authorities involved.”
“It’s like this every night, Mr. Lee! Constant drunken yelling, always running up and down these metal stairs, forever forgetting your keys – if you weren’t on time for your rent, I would’ve thrown you out earlier! I am an artist and I require sleep.” His scowl contorted with every word he managed to spit out. “This needs to end!”
“You’re absolutely right and I am incredibly sorry. But, if you let me off this time and allow me to go on up to my room, I’ll let you take those pictures you wanted.” He threw in another smile to seal the deal, less for the landlord and more for him – one last hit for a flawless victory.
The offer quickly caught the older man’s attention. “You better not forget, Mr. Lee. Whenever you are free, come to my apartment and we’ll set up something for you, alright?”
“But of course, Mr. Han Geng. Good night.” And with that, Donghae disappeared up above the top of the stairs and onto the rooftop, entering his apartment and not expecting to emerge until well after noon.
Stepping out of a cab with large suitcases and an eternity of fatigue on his face, Cho Kyuhyun made his way towards the small apartment building that he’d learned about only hours prior. Once he finally got inside the building proper and reached the door of his place, he sat his luggage down and tried to open the door, only to find it locked. He cursed aloud, taking out his phone and flipping through his texts to find the one that said The door should be unlocked when you get there. I hope you enjoy the apartment! <3 to confirm that he was not, in fact, an idiot.
He couldn’t call anyone to get the key; he wasn’t given the landlord’s number nor did he want to call a locksmith to open an apartment that he didn’t officially live in. It was then that he remembered seeing a staircase that led up to the rooftop with a small apartment built on top of it, a modern addition to a relatively ancient building. Figuring it couldn’t possibly be worse than his current situation, Kyuhyun gathered up his luggage and his will to make the trek up the stairs in the hopes of contacting someone with a key.
When he finally reached the roof, he laid his burden down and resisted the urge to collapse right there. Collecting himself, he took in his surroundings – the modular apartment looked almost like a quaint little cottage, especially with the small potted plants arranged around the rooftop as a sort of ersatz garden. But there were more pressing matters at hand than the decor. A quick knock and a few moments later, a young man in nothing but a pair of blue plaid pajama pants and an eye-mask on
his forehead answered the door.
If it weren’t for the fact that he was in the process of swallowing hard, Kyuhyun would’ve sworn that his mouth was wide open in surprise. In the few seconds that the other man stood at the door waiting for him to say something, Kyuhyun took in the expanse of the man’s soft, deep gold skin and chocolate-brown cow licked hair hanging over heavy-lidded, warm eyes and he just knew that he would never see anything more beautiful in his life.
“Can I help you?”
He blinked rapidly. “Uh, yes. I was wondering if you had the landlord’s number? It seems I don’t have my key and I was never given his contact information. I just moved into the apartment on the bottom floor.” He silently congratulated himself for his quick recovery.
“Oh, yes,” the young man replied blearily. “Please come in; you can use my telephone if you like.” He swung the door open, inviting him inside.
Crossing the threshold, he took in the scattered state of the young man’s home and almost laughed – he’d never seen a claw-footed bathtub cut in half and used as a sofa before. Moving boxes stacked about the living room and the general un-lived-in-ness of the place made him wonder if the man was
coming or going.
“Oh, so you just moved in yourself?” he hazarded a guess.
“No, I’ve been here for about a year,” he replied dreamily. “The telephone is over there.” He pointed towards an empty table that stood next to the opposite wall. “No, it isn’t,” he corrected. “I put it in this suitcase here; it kinda muffles the sound.” Shuffling over to a large suitcase that sat next to the sofa, he opened it and pulled out a large antique rotary telephone along with a small book, and sat it on the table.
Kyuhyun attempted to walk over and take the phone, but a loud yowl and a blur of orange startled him, the mass settling on his shoulder and using him as a ladder to get to the bookshelf next to him. He was relieved to see it was just an ordinary housecat; in this place, he didn’t know what to expect.
“Is he alright?”
“The cat? Sure, he’s OK,” Donghae laughed. “Poor Cat. Poor slob without a name,” he laughed as he walked over to pick the cat up from its perch. He carried it into the kitchenette, setting it down near the refrigerator as he opened the door and pulled out a carton of milk.
“I don’t have the right to give him one, I feel. We don’t belong to each other, we just took up with one another by the Han River and the rest is history,” he said, taking a bowl and a stray martini glass out of the nearby cabinet. He poured some of the milk for himself and the cat. “I don’t want to own anything until I can find a place where me and things go together. I’m not sure where a place like that is, but I know what it feels like.” He paused for a moment and sighed. “It feels like Tiffany’s.”
“Tiffany’s? You mean the jewelry store?”
“That’s right. No other place in the world can make you feel like Tiffany’s,” he said matter-of-factly.
“You know those days when you get the mean reds?”
“The mean reds? You mean like the blues?” Kyuhyun wasn’t quite sure if his new neighbor was about to wax poetic or take them back to elementary school.
“No, the blues are when it’s been raining too long or you’re stuck and don’t know where else to go. The mean reds are when you’re afraid and you don’t even know what you’re afraid of. Don’t you ever get that feeling?”
“Sure, I know what you mean.” He honestly did understand it, although most of the time, he knew what exactly it was that made him afraid.
“Well, whenever I get the mean reds, I just take a cab and go to Tiffany’s, the one in Apgujeong. Nothing bad can really happen there and it just makes everything right again. If I could find a real-life place that made me feel the way Tiffany’s does, why, I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!” He toasted to nothing and took a long sip of his milk. “I’m sorry; you wanted something.”
“Oh, I just wanted to call the landlord; I just got back from Rome and I’m supposed to move in today, but I didn’t have the key. I’m meeting someone here in a bit, actually. It is ten AM Saturday morning, correct? Jet lag has me all messed up.” Kyuhyun picked up the receiver and the small book from their resting place on the suitcase.
“Ten AM? Oh no, it can’t be!”
“Can’t be what?” He watched, confused, Donghae leap up from his place on the sofa and scramble into what he assumed was his bedroom.
“I need to catch the 10:45 out to Yeongdeungpo Prison; I have an appointment and I absolutely cannot be late,” Donghae called out. “Would you please help me find my black alligator shoes?”
Puzzled, Kyuhyun abandoned the telephone and went into the bedroom. He found Donghae hurriedly brushing his teeth in the attached bathroom. Kneeling down beside the bed, he found one black dress shoe that he assumed was alligator skin (what did he know about fashion anyway); looking up, he watched the other man dash across the room and grab a comb.
“So what you’re saying is, we’re getting you ready to go to Yeongdeungpo Prison”, Kyuhyun asked as he stood up.
“That’s the long and short of it. I’ve got to get ready and I can’t possibly show up looking a mess. Everyone gets in their best clothes on visiting day – especially the children. The mothers dress them up in their finest and I just love them all for it,” he replied. “Shoes, alligator.”
“I could only find one,” Kyuhyun said, holding it up for display.
“Oh, damn. Where did it go, where did it – oh! There you are, you sneak,” he exclaimed, reaching into a random basket and pulling out the shoe’s match. “But yes, I’m going to Yeongdeungpo – to visit, of course.”
“And just who are you visiting, if I may ask?”
“Oh, perhaps you’ve heard of him! I’m visiting Kim Heechul. It’s simply awful, how the papers and the nightly news persecute this sweet, sweet man,” he said. “But I get paid 100,000 won every week to go visit him in prison and deliver the weather report to Mr. Kim – just to make sure I’ve actually been, you know.”
“Kim Heechul? The mafia boss Kim Heechul? Of one of the most feared kkangpae in the entire country?”
“They’ve never been able to prove a single thing. They’re holding him for tax evasion, but really, who hasn’t fudged a little on their tax return?” He picked up his comb and stood in front of his mirror, trying to tame his messy mane.
Kyuhyun just stared like at the other man like he’d insisted the sky was green. “And Kim Heechul pays you 100,000 won just to visit him?”
“Well, he doesn’t pay me; his lawyer Mr. Kim Youngwoon does. He approached me and asked me how I’d like to go and cheer up a lonely man and pick up an extra 100,000 for my troubles. I told him, ‘Mister, you’ve got the wrong Lee Donghae; I’m not that kind of person and I do as well on trips to the restroom and cab fare’ – because you know, a real gentleman or lady always pays for cab fare – and he insisted it was nothing ratty, just a visit.
“Apparently, Heechul-ssi saw me somewhere and was just mad over me. He pointed me out and insisted that I should be the one to visit him every week. The weather report thing is just to reassure Mr. Kim that I’ve been, I suppose. Really, after hearing all that, I couldn’t say no. It was wildly romantic.” Donghae set down his comb and rushed over to his closet, pulling out a simple black suit and a hat. “Excuse me for just a moment.” With that, he disappeared back into the bathroom.
Kyuhyun sat on Donghae’s bed and did his best to process everything that had happened within the last five minutes, but gave up as soon as the door opened and his new neighbor stepped out looking like a movie star. It was really just another confirmation that life was unfair.
“What do you think?”
“I have to say, I’m thoroughly impressed.”
He gave him a coy, genuinely grateful smile before looking down at his watch and bolting towards the door. “I’m so sorry to cut this sort, but I’ve really got to go; I’ll be late if I don’t leave immediately.”
“I’ll call a cab for you,” Kyuhyun yelled out as he followed the other man out of the door and into the street.
He stopped and yelled for a taxi, but to no avail; one by one, taxis sped on without even pausing for him. Donghae then brought his fingers up to his lips and whistled loud enough to startle Kyuhyun right out of his shoes.
“I’ve never been able to do that,” Kyuhyun said.
“It’s easy,” Donghae said, obviously pleased with himself.
A cab finally pulled up and the door swung open to reveal a man with an incredibly brilliant smile and wine-red hair stepping out of the vehicle. He seemed to grow as he stood to his full height, his long legs making him tower over Donghae. Everything about him, from the bespoke three-piece suit that clung to his lithe frame to the Italian leather shoes that adorned his feet, quietly spoke of wealth and sophistication.
“Oooh, darling! It is so good to see you,” the man cooed as he reached out and patted Kyuhyun’s cheek. Donghae noticed the slight accent to his Korean and figured immediately that he must be Chinese. “I’m so sorry I was late, dear; Jielun is an absolute beast and it’s so hard to get away.”
“It’s fine; luckily I had Lee Donghae here to keep me company. Donghae-ssi, I’d like you to meet my… decorator, Zhou Mi.” Kyuhyun gestured towards his new companion and Donghae stuck out his hand in greeting, but Zhou Mi didn’t seem to notice.
“It’s a pleasure, I’m sure,” he muttered. “So darling, did you get a chance to see it yet?”
“The apartment? No; it was locked and I didn’t know the landlord’s number so – “
“Oh, I’m so sorry! I have the key right here; we’ll go right now,” Zhou Mi exclaimed as he strode away from the pair and towards the building. When Kyuhyun turned to follow, Donghae stepped away and into the cab; it sped off while the other two men entered the building.
“I know it was wicked of me, but I just couldn’t resist. If you don’t like it, we’ll rip everything out and redo it all,” Zhou Mi said as he unlocked and opened the door.
Kyuhyun wasn’t quite sure what to expect when he walked into his new apartment, but the large paintings adorning the walls and the rather… unique furniture scattered throughout the living room certainly surprised him.
“Guixian, darling, tell me you like it,” he insisted. “I do hope it’s alright; I worked hard to make it stylish and comfortable.” Kyuhyun winced slightly at the use of his Chinese name – it almost made him feel like he was someone he didn’t know.
Zhou Mi wandered in behind Kyuhyun and immediately sought out the sofa. He set his bag on one end of the couch and gracefully fell back into the other, stretching out his limbs and taking up the rest of the sofa that his body couldn’t fill with his large presence.
He was the sort of man that would buy anything to coordinate with a new outfit and keep it hidden away until the next time he needed it. Kyuhyun just so happened to be on sale that day, a penniless writer with a boyish, innocent face as well as a color palette that matched his bed sheets perfectly.
“It’s fine, Zhou Mi – I’m just happy that you managed to find something for me. I can’t thank you enough.” He carded his fingers through his thick ebony hair and sighed loudly. “This will help me get started on the new book in a big way.”
Zhou Mi rose up off the couch and strode over to where Kyuhyun stood, stopping just short of touching him. “It was my pleasure, Guixian – I’m more than happy to help a friend.” He leaned forward and left a ghost of a kiss on his cheek before turning heel and going towards the couch and the door.
“I’ve left a check on the dining room table – it’s enough to cover the first two months’ rent and a little extra for anything else,” he announced as he picked his bag up. “I really must be leaving now, but I’ll be back in a few hours. Keeping up appearances, you know.”
“Yeah, I know. I’ll see you then,” Kyuhyun called out as he watched Zhou Mi leave the apartment and shut the door behind him.
It felt oddly empty, now that he was completely alone in this new place – his new place. The weird, abstract trappings and knick-knacks scattered about entire apartment unnerved him a bit. None of it was him, nothing here was anything of his personality. He supposed that was entirely the point; there was nothing quite like living in a borrowed apartment to serve as a stark, daily reminder of ownership and indentured servitude. Kyuhyun reached up and felt around his neck for an invisible collar and tags.
Fighting back the urge to retch, he shook the thought out of his mind. He remembered the promise he made so long ago – that he’d do anything it took to make it – and started unpacking his suitcases. Regrets didn’t pay the bills.
Donghae found himself running down the stairs this time. Music blared from his apartment and people milled about on the rooftop, debauchery of varying levels occurring as the night drove on. Another man, another drunken marriage proposal and it was his cue to escape out of the bathroom window and lose him amongst the crowd. He didn’t know quite where else to go as he sped down the metal stairs, but he froze as he passed a window with the light on.
He peeked in and saw his new neighbor asleep – nothing necessarily unusual, but the other figure that crossed his vision intrigued him. Recognizing him immediately as the neighbor’s ‘decorator’, Donghae watched as the fully dressed man walked around the room and set something on the desk. He couldn’t say he was truly surprised to see him walk over and lay a gentle kiss on his cheek before finally walking out of the room, but somehow it felt unsettling. A shout of his name had him scrambling for the window ledge and some sort of refuge.
Kyuhyun woke up with a start to see his new neighbor opening his window – the man had a foot in the room before he noticed that he was being watched. “Hey, what’s going on here?”
“It’s alright; it’s only me. I’m your upstairs neighbor, Lee Donghae. We met this morning, remember?” he laughed as he peeked through the curtains. “Oh, don’t worry; he’s gone now. I must say, he works rather late hours for a decorator. The thing is, there’s a terribly drunk man upstairs looking for me – he’s a lovely person, but once he gets that soju in his system and, oh, 什么 beast. I escaped out the
window and now here I am.
“May I come in?” he pleaded, a gentle desperation in his voice hidden behind a façade of indifference. Another loud shout escaped from the crowd upstairs and he clambered into the window anyway, shutting it and the blinds behind him. “I’m sorry; you can throw me right back out if you like, but it was getting rather cold out there and your decorator friend just left.”
“And here I always heard that people in Seoul never got to know their neighbors,” Kyuhyun joked. He couldn’t possibly let someone go that was obviously in trouble, especially when they looked as good as he did in that well-tailored suit.
“You know, you’re really sweet,” Donghae said, sitting down in the desk chair. “And you remind me of my brother, Donghwa. Do you mind if I call you Donghwa?”
“A bit of an odd request, but I don’t see why not,” he groaned, stretching and popping a few joints.
Donghae leaned over and leafed through the bills laid near the edge of the desk. “This is what, 300,000 won? I must say, your decorator friend is very generous. Is this by the week, the hour, or…?”
A flash of heat rose up his face and hot shame settled itself into his stomach. “That’s it, you can leave now,” Kyuhyun snapped.
“No, no! I’m dreadfully sorry, Donghwa; I didn’t mean it that way and I certainly didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I was just trying to tell you that I understand completely. Perhaps more than anyone should have a right to,” Donghae said, his voice quiet as if he were telling a secret.
“It’s fine. Go ahead and make yourself a drink, or I can make one for you if you’ll hand me my robe.”
“You’ll do no such thing,” he chided as he glided over to the miniature bar sat up against the wall.
“You must be absolutely exhausted – well, I mean, it is late and everything. I’ll make something for the both of us.”
Kyuhyun simply sat up and leaned against the headboard as he watched Donghae move about and pour out two glasses of his whiskey.
“I suppose you think that I’m too brazen or 很错 – “ he paused as he handed one of the glasses to him, which he gratefully accepted.
“You’re no more… that than anyone else, I suppose.”
“ – but it is quite useful being top banana in the shock department,” he continued as he took a sip of his own drink. “So what is it that you do, sir?” he asked as he settled back in front of the desk.
“I’m a writer, more or less,” Kyuhyun answered as he did the same.
“More or less?”
“A more positive answer, then – I am a writer. Ringing affirmative.”
He moved across the bedroom and looked back out the window. “The only other writer I’ve ever met was Kim Kibum. He wrote a few dramas for SBS, but 很 rat.” Donghae sat down at his desk, a gaudy faux-Rococo thing, and leaned back into the chair. “So what have you written, Mr. Writer?”
“I wrote what’s in that box right next to you.” He pointed at a cardboard box underneath the desk. “It’s all multiple copies of one book, but they’re my books all the same.”
He immediately reached down and took one out for himself. “Nine Lives by Cho Kyuhyun,” Donghae giggled in delight. “Oh, they’re stories. Tell one to me, would you?”
It was Kyuhyun’s turn to laugh. “They’re not exactly stories you just tell.”
“Oh. Are they dirty?”
“Well, not exactly. According to a prominent literary critic, it’s ‘exquisitely written prose that is sensitive, powerful, and, that most dangerous of all words, promising’ – so says the Times Review, October 2008.”
He snapped the book shut and shot him an inquisitive stare. “This might sound rather ratty, but have you written anything since?”
“Well, I’ve been working on it – I’m writing a novel right now, actually,” he groaned as he leaned over and turned on a lamp. “Trying to continue that whole exquisite, sensitive, promising prose thing. It’s taking a while because it’s got to be just right, but I’m working on it.”
Opening a small case that rested on the top of the desk, Donghae inspected the contents with great amusement. “Oh, you use a typewriter – that’s rather vintage of you. Do you also have a record player, or would that overload your cool levels, Mr. Hipster?”
“You’re very funny,” he snorted. “I use a typewriter because it forces me to keep writing without stopping; you can’t delete anything on a typewriter. Besides, all the greats used them – Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Capote; they all did their best work on typewriters. It’s part of a grand tradition.”
The other man seemed intrigued. “You fancy yourself a Capote now? Are you a Capote in other aspects, as well?”
“In what way?”
“Never mind,” he laughed. “So tell me, Mister Writer, have you written anything lately?”
“Yes, I have,” Kyuhyun answered, reaching over to turn on his bedside lamp.
“Did you write anything today?”
“That’s rather funny,” Donghae said as he fiddled with a lever, “because there’s no ribbon in it.”
“Oh,” he murmured. At this point, it was either come up with a lie about using a notebook to write in today or change the subject entirely. “So, tell me something – because it’s been bothering me all day. They really give you 50,000 won just for trips to the restroom? You must be doing quite well for yourself,” he said, choosing the latter.
“Yes, sir,” he replied. “I’m trying to save, but I’m terrible at it. You know, you really do remind me of my brother Donghwa. I haven’t seen him since I was fourteen – it’s when I left home. I miss him terribly.”
He stood up and sat on Kyuhyun’s bed, reclining and resting his weight on his elbow. “He’s in the Army now, completing his mandatory service – it’s the best place for him right now until I can get some more money saved up.”
“And then Donghwa and I… well, I suppose we’ll open up a tea shop or something. He always loved tea and coffee; he was so good at brewing it just right. But even the rattiest spaces cost something and there never seems to be more than a couple hundred thousand won in the bank.”
A light chiming drew his gaze to an overly complicated clock on the wall and he cursed under his breath. “I can’t believe it’s so late. Do you mind if I get in there with you? It’s awfully late and I can’t exactly go back up there. It’s alright – I mean, we’re friends, aren’t we?”
Kyuhyun wordlessly shifted over and Donghae removed his jacket and shoes, sidling up next to him. He wasn’t exactly sure what possessed him to allow this handsome stranger into his bed, but seeing him so vulnerable and in such close proximity confirmed that it was the right decision.
“Good night,” he yawned, immediately drifting off into slumber and Kyuhyun along with him.
It wasn’t the growing light outside that woke him; the odd wet sensation on his shoulder did. He stirred and saw Donghae curled up into his side; he figured he moved after they’d both fallen asleep. The strange wetness came from the tears streaming down the other man’s face and onto his bare skin, which sent Kyuhyun reeling.
“Donghwa, where are you?” he whimpered. Kyuhyun wouldn’t have heard him if it weren’t for him laying right next to his ear. “It’s so cold, Donghwa.”
“Donghae, wake up,” Kyuhyun said, shaking his shoulders. “Are you alright? Why are you crying?”
He shot up and gasped aloud, eyes wide in surprise. Kyuhyun gave him a strange look, but he didn’t press further. Moving out of the bed, he gathered his jacket and slipped on his shoes. “I’m sorry. I need to go.” Reaching the window, he stopped and turned to face the other man. “Let’s just get one thing straight, if we’re going to be friends – I don’t like people prying into my life, alright?”
Kyuhyun only sat there in bed as Donghae opened the window and climbed back out, confused and curious as to what he could possibly have to hide. He fell back into sleep, doing his best to push it out of his mind; it wasn’t his business, after all.
He arrived back to his apartment building after shopping for that night’s dinner, noticing the emptiness of the side stairwell and the rooftop. Making his way into the building itself and to his door, he found a note and a small box waiting for at his door. The note read:
Please forgive me for last night. Come on up tonight for a drink around six o’clock? I hope you enjoy your present! Maybe you’ll get some use out of it.
He couldn’t help but smile – it always felt good to patch things up, no matter how trivial or silly it felt at the time. As soon as he stepped into the door, his home phone rang. He laid the bags on the nearest table and answered the ugly ‘designer’ phone.
“I’ve been trying forever to reach you – Jielun just returned a day early, so I’m going to have to cancel on you,” Zhou Mi’s voice said over the speaker, not really pausing to let Kyuhyun speak. “You’ll let the rest of the girls know, won’t you? You’re an absolute doll. Maybe we can have a long lunch tomorrow; I’ll call you in the morning and see if you’re available.”
“Alright, then,” he replied. He always wondered how Zhou Mi came up with these odd stories, but it really didn’t matter to him.
“And you will be fine without me tonight, right?” he purred.
“Yeah – maybe I’ll even try to write. Who knows?”
“Good night, dear.”
He hung up the phone and opened the package Donghae had left him at the door. He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but his heart sped wildly in his chest all the same – it was a roll of typewriter ribbon.
Six o’clock rolled around faster than Kyuhyun expected, and he soon found himself at Donghae’s rooftop apartment holding a cheap bottle of champagne he picked up about an hour before, as well as a package wrapped in brown paper. A man that certainly was not Donghae answered the door, holding a glass of liquor and beaming brightly at him.
“Oh, hello there. Kid’s still in the shower, but he’ll be out shortly. You expected?” the man asked. He stood a good bit shorter than Kyuhyun, but seemed older.
“I was invited, if that’s what you mean.”
“No need to be offended now, I’m just making sure. Party crashers are all the rage in this part of town. Come on in,” he said, opening the door wide enough for him to enter. “What’s your poison?”
“Bourbon, if you got it – on the rocks, with a little bit of water,” he replied, following him into Donghae’s kitchen and setting the bottle of champagne down. A plethora of people already stood about the somewhat empty apartment, commiserating and carrying on as some light dance music played in the background.
“So, have you known the kid for very long?” he asked as he poured out the liquor into a small glass, with ice and water per request.
“Not very long; I just moved in downstairs.”
“This place – it’s a real dump,” he muttered. “So is he, or isn’t he?”
“Isn’t he what?”
At that moment, Donghae stepped out of the back bedroom – an absolute vision in a charcoal Armani suit and a smile. Kyuhyun felt underdressed and outclassed, but he found he didn’t mind; Donghae was the star of the show wherever he went and he was only an extra on the set.
“Kid, that is you, that is you!” the older man exclaimed, holding out his arms for a hug. “You look fabulous, Donghae.”
“Why thank you,” he laughed, taking Jungsu’s embrace. “Oh, Donghwa! I’m so happy you could make it.” He hugged Kyuhyun and took the small package out of his hands. “Is this for me?” Kyuhyun nodded as he unwrapped it and revealed a copy of Nine Lives. “Oh, you’re so sweet! I’ll set it right here on the mantelpiece; it’ll look lovely.
“Now Donghwa, I want you to meet Park Jungsu; he’s my agent and he knows everyone and their numbers. Jungsu-hyung, I want you to call Kim Jaejoong and tell him that Donghwa is a genius – don’t blush, dear; I said it, not you. Now tell me what you’re going to do to make Donghwa here rich and famous.”
“Why don’t you let me and Donghwa sort all that out, alright?”
“Certainly, but remember, I’m the agent. He’s already got a decorator,” he chuckled, moving away and into the crowd.
“So Donghwa baby, is he or isn’t he?”
“Isn’t he what?”
“A phony!” Jungsu laughed, downing another sip of bourbon. “Is he or isn’t he a phony?”
“I don’t know – I guess he isn’t.”
“That’s where you’re wrong – but you’re also right. He’s a real phony. See, he honestly believes all this glamorous, glitzy, fake stuff. I mean, he’s a real sweet kid and I love him for it. I’m sensitive and you’ve got to be sensitive to like him – a poetic touch, you know. In fact, I’m the one that discovered him. When I found him in Incheon, he had an accent so heavy you didn’t know if he was from Jeollanam or Busan. It took us a whole year to smooth it out – you know how we did it? We gave him Mandarin lessons. Figured if he could imitate Mandarin and the tones, he could imitate Korean well enough.
“So when we got him an audition at an entertainment company for an acting gig, he up and disappears to Seoul,” he explained. “I ask him why, he says to me that he’d never been in Seoul before and he just hangs up! So Donghwa baby, don’t tell me he’s not a phony.”
A woman caught his attention and he called after her, leaving Kyuhyun alone to mingle with the crowd. He figured that Jungsu told him that story to warn him about Donghae’s flightiness, but he’d already had that portion of Lee Donghae’s mystique parsed out and he found it didn’t bother him at all.
As the night wore on, the party grew bigger and bigger in a sort of controlled chaos that sprawled out all over the apartment. The music blared, the drinks flowed, and the good times seemed to roll on without end. Amidst the insanity, he finally managed to find Donghae alone for once.
“Who are all these people?” he asked, grabbing another drink out of the kitchen.
“Who knows? Word gets out, you know,” he shrugged, taking a sip of what looked to be a Harvey Wallbanger. “It’s awfully funny, I – “
“Donghae, daaaaarling!” They both turned towards the source of the screeching and winced as a rather tall, solidly built man burst through the door and flailed his arms about in an attempt to get the host’s attention.
“What the hell is that?”
“That’s Choi Siwon, a model, if you can believe it,” Donghae groaned. “He’s a complete bore and about as useful as makeup on a hog – but would you look at the presents he brought with him?”
A stunning young woman, resplendent in a black cocktail dress that she had to have poured herself into, stood to Siwon’s right while a rather portly man in a mismatched suit and shoddily dyed peroxide-blonde hair flanked his left.
“I suppose she’s great, if you’re into that dangerous, high-class, richer-than-God sort with passionate natures and flawless makeup,” Kyuhyun said.
“She’s lovely, but I’m not talking about her – I’m talking about him.”
“Pardon me for asking, but why?”
Donghae rolled his eyes as if he’d just asked if water was wet. “That is Shin Donghee, the ninth richest man in South Korea under the age of fifty.”
“Now that is a rather interesting piece of information to have at your fingertips,” he said as he followed him through the crowd to meet the new guests. “Wait, how do you know he’s – “
“Because they all are – when they meet me, that is,” he shot back, wry smile set in place.
It was hard to argue with that logic.
“Donghae, darling, I want you meet my friends! This here is Song Qian, but you can call her ‘Victoria’; she prefers it. She comes all the way from Beijing and she’s an absolute delight! And this here is Shindong, as he prefers it,” Siwon yelled above the din of the party.
“Welcome to the party!” Donghae shouted in kind. “你想不想喝点什么？ ”
“No, I’m fine,” she replied in slightly accented Korean. “I’m just here to experience your culture for myself – I’ve been all over Seoul, but this is the first time I’ve been in a typical Korean home.”
“Well, I’m sure you’ll find it quite the experience, then! Now, let’s see what we can amuse you with, Mr. Shindong,” he said, pulling him apart from the pack and back into the fray.
The party carried on, with dancing, drinks, and games galore continuing throughout the night. As the crowd swelled in size and the music grew even louder, the phone in the suitcase rang. Crawling under quite a number of people’s legs, Kyuhyun managed to answer it before the other side hung up.
“MISTER LEE,” the man – Mr. Han Geng, Kyuhyun figured – screamed. “This has gone on long enough! I’m calling the police right now, so you’d better have that party broken up by the time they get there. Good night!” Kyuhyun hung up and managed to escape the crowd, running straight into Victoria.
“Was it something important?” she asked.
“No, it was just the landlord complaining about the noise. Said something about calling the police,” he said nonchalantly.
“The police? I can’t have that at all,” Victoria said, slightly panicked. “I better look for Siwon-ssi and go – “
“I think your date is, er, otherwise preoccupied.” He pointed over to where Siwon laid, curled up on the tub-couch and comatose. “But I’ve got another escape route; come on.”
He took her hand and led her through the partygoers, reaching the bathroom. As he helped her out of the window, he saw Donghae standing out on the sidewalk – with Shindong on his arm – talking with the police outside and pointing up towards his own apartment. The pair walked away without a care as the cops moved in on their location.
Scrambling out of the window after her, he led her down a fire escape and out on the street. They stopped for a moment and caught their breath, sharing a look equal parts exhilaration and shock before breaking down into a fit of laughter. Kyuhyun held out his hand, and without missing a beat, Victoria took it in kind and gave him a hearty handshake.
“Are you going to be alright, miss? I mean, it’s a new city and all,” he said, an offer of refuge implied.
“I certainly appreciate it, but I will just get a cab. Thank you, sir!” Without any further ado, she strode off down the street and he took off for his own apartment, away from possible incarceration and possibly the wildest night he’d experienced since college.