Theme: Screenplay, Phrase to include: "because that's how it works"
Summary: A struggling playwright attempts to grasp the muse that teases him and leaves before words could be jotted down. Envious of the man who was able to see and create the image with ease.
"Why do I have to say this? The character would never say such an anti-feminist line." The actress yelled from the stage.
"You're playing the character, she is not you." The producer from the red velvet seats scolded.
"I don't see why—"
The playwright beside him bolted upright and yelled. "Because that's how it works in this business, if you don't appreciate it, then leave."
Behind the duo was a man who leaned back against his chair, hair tied back in a ponytail beneath his hat. Heechul sighed heavily as he continued jabbing down notes in his notepad, excusing himself from the hostile scene.
As a playwright's assistant, he learned the basics of the business first-hand. Yet to accompany that experience, was talent. He needed inspiration, and that was fickle muse he couldn't grasp for long. Even if the muse lingered, his inability to write down the narration of expressions, actions, natural dialogues. If he couldn't surpass this obstacle, then becoming an assistant is all he'll ever amount to.
He exhaled, walking through the streets late at night. His messenger bag hit against his thigh repeatedly as he walked in a huff, mind in deep thought when he felt a lurker come beside him.
"Hey," The voice said suggestively.
Heechul glowered. He walked into the nearest shop he could find.
"Where do you live?" The voice continued, not letting up as he followed him inside.
"Here." Heechul said, his annoyance didn't turn the other off. He then reached for a clay pot and walked towards the register.
"Are you interested in doing something tonight?"
"Not really." Heechul paid by credit card and waited for the receipt.
The cashier watched warily at the man who accompanied the one with longer hair, who clearly didn't feel comfortable. He reached for the receipt and read the message beneath where the signature was meant to be. It read, "Help me."
The cashier abruptly walked around the counter, hugging Heechul from behind to the shock of the stranger. Heechul was silently startled, but not from the action, but rather how cold his skin was despite the warm store.
"Are you being mad on purpose?" The cashier continued.
Heechul blinked, but quickly played along. "You were the one who stood me up."
"Yes, and I apologize for that."
"Tonight?" Heechul asked, beaming with ease. The third wheel glanced between them, scowling when Hankyung agreed. Once the bell dinged and he left, the cashier instantly let go and Heechul sighed in relief.
"Thank you," Heechul said sincerely.
The cashier walked back around the desk. "No problem, although, do you want to return the pot then?"
Heechul glanced at the one he bought, carved and clearly handmade and shook his head. "I like it."
He read the name tag, tilting his head as he met Hankyung's eyes.
"And just so you know, if that conversation was real and you really did stood me up, it'd take much more than that."
Hankyung chuckled. Heechul walked towards the door, his hand on the handle.
"Just so you know," Heechul looked back as Hankyung added. "I doubt anyone would stand you up if they had a choice."
Heechul tipped his hat as the bell rung, signaling his leave. He clutched the black strap and looked at the small sign above the pottery shop.
He felt a small smile trace his lips, the day didn't seem as bad as he thought.
The rainy season had ended, yet still the occasional showers occurred in summer as Heechul lowered the umbrella and walked in the coffee shop.
Drops of water fell down his face, the umbrella having done no justice. Hankyung greeted the other politely, sitting in a corner booth. "Still having a hard time?"
Heechul took out his notebook and pen and laid them on the the table. "Yes." He then held out the pen. "Do this for me."
"As always, I'll decline." Heechul sighed and bit the edge of it. "Why are you here this time?"
"I just needed to clear my head." Heechul admitted, his mind exhausted. He then narrowed his eyes accusingly, "Why? Don't want me here?"
Hankyung lifted a napkin and gently dried the leftover rain from his skin. "No, I always want you here." Hankyung said, then laying it on the table.
Heechul drank his warm tea, in truth he couldn't find much fault in the other's honesty. He began to read the spare screenplays in his hand, examining how they described movements and actions. He still couldn't grasp the ideal.
Hankyung leaned forward and glanced at the open notebook. Each line was half-written and countless spurred ideas that made no sense.
"I write the ending first, then the beginning and then backwards from there." Heechul explained idly to his confused look. "Not sure why I do it either."
Hankyung nodded. "Maybe cause you want to strive for it, if you want that ending at least."
"...I guess." Heechul said skeptically, his palm beneath his chin. "I just say I'm weird."
"We could look at it that way too." Hankyung reasoned as he drank his iced drink, the one that made Heechul cringed. "I'm assuming you prefer hot coffee."
Hankyung handed his cup over. "Try it."
Heechul stared at it apprehensively, before deciding to try it. He sipped from the same cup, Hankyung chuckled as Heechul winced at the extremely bitter taste.
"I don't use sugar or milk."
"Just know, I hate you." Heechul added as he scribbled side notes on the various pages, making Hankyung laugh a bit more.
For the brief moment, the playwright felt himself relax, something that it seemed only the other could do. He could without the bitter taste though.
Heechul stepped to the back of the store with his belongings in tow. Hankyung sat on the stool and began pedaling, molding the clay as it formed. Heechul wasn't sure why he found the atmosphere so relaxing.
He paid special care to how his hands formed the edges and shape with ease, yet when Heechul attempted the same thing a few times, he realized it was harder than it looked.
"It's beautiful," Heechul said in awe at the unique designs. "What prompts you to make this stuff?"
"The image just comes to mind." Now painting one of the pots that came out of the oven.
Heechul sighed, envious. "I wish I was like you, able to just create the image in my head. Can I ask what your inspiration is?"
Hankyung stared at the pot in his hand, finishing painting the edges when he cleaned it on a brush. "As of late," He raised his eyes to meet his. "You."
Heechul averted his gaze as he palmed his cheek. Hankyung smiled as he returned to his work. He knew the reason why the other was there. "If you can't be a playwright, why not become a sitcom writer again?"
"Because they're difficult! I did some for sitcoms and such, but this constant need to describe every little detail is aggravating."
"Therefore, you're a successful screenwriter, but a failure as a playwright."
"When you put it that way..." Heechul said lowly, offended as he closed his eyes.
Hankyung wiped his hands on the towel and encouraged, "You'll do fine."
"No, I won't." Heechul insisted stubbornly.
"Because that's how it works in this cruel world. Not everything ends as it should be, things just don't go right for anyone and it's far from fair." Hankyung nodded slowly at his venting. Heechul sighed, "You don't seem to share my sentiments."
"I do," Hankyung countered. "I still think you'll be amazing once you do become successful though."
Heechul exhaled, "While I know they're all lies, I thank you nonetheless."
Hankyung stared at the solemn man who closed his eyes, despite his rants and cries against humanity, he enjoyed speaking to him. Looking forward to this time each day.
"I'm always here when you need me." He reminded.
It was times like this when Heechul waved a small and strained smile. A rare gesture the man displayed to anyone else, that made him anticipate the next visit. He only wished he could do something to help.
Autumn hadn't yet arrived, but the colorful leaves were falling one by one.
Hankyung waited in the streets when he sighted Heechul a short distance away, standing impatiently until Hankyung came by. It was obvious the man was in a bad mood, his hat tilted slightly backward to reveal menacing eyes.
Heechul was becoming more frustrated by his work, his attempts at a decent screenplay he was never satisfied with. The said that were thrown, scattered across the pavement.
One by one, Hankyung knelt down to pick them up.
"Stop it!" Heechul scolded. "They're all trash." He said scathingly, mad at himself for having wrote it.
Hankyung finished gathering the pages and handed them over, wearing a softened expression. "I have faith in you."
"Faith doesn't get anyone far."
"It may not, but anything written by your hand doesn't deserve to be thrown like it meant nothing."
Heechul lowered his eyes, staring at the crumpled pages, reluctantly taking him back. He held his head low, embarrassed of his outburst.
Hankyung stepped forward and daringly held him close. He could feel the man's body stiffen under his touch, and opted to let go when Heechul looked up.
"I didn't say you had to let go."
"But you're cold."
"And?" Heechul countered, he closed his eyes without hearing much of an argument from the other.
Hankyung was used to others rejecting his touch because of the temperature, his skin never able to attract the warmth well. And he was glad the aspiring playwright didn't mind, but despite how much he wanted to do this, how much he wished to. He considered the other's health foremost.
He then reluctantly let go, against Heechul's narrowed eyes, he gave a half-hearted smile.
"Let's go then." Heechul said quietly, his messenger bag hitting his side as he walked ahead, the crumpled pages clutched in his pale hand.
Hankyung felt his disappointment settle in, and followed after him a few steps behind.
Heechul bit his cheek, his mood that had lifted briefly gone, wishing the other could simply take a few steps forward.
Within the velvet seats of the theatre, Heechul tried writing in the professional setting. It worked temporarily, but frequently, he'd simply stop and let his thoughts drift off.
He looked beside him at Hankyung who came by to visit him, napping when Heechul had taken too long. Heechul placed the tip of the pen on his lips as he studied his features. It was then that inspiration hit, and he quickly continued.
He momentarily stopped when he felt Hankyung shift and lay on his shoulder, eyes still soundly shut.
He cleared his throat, and tried to nonchalant about it. But as he lowered the pages to his lap, glancing at the other's peaceful expression, within the otherwise vacant theatre. He briefly wondered since the rest of him was cold, would his lips be also?
He felt the corners of his lips switch upward at the thought, leaning slightly back against both the seat and continued writing with ease.
For the most of the fall season, Hankyung hadn't seen Heechul at all except for a few times. Yet they were quick as the man left, not uttering a word about what work he was up to. Hankyung could only assume he meant some work with the established playwright.
He hurriedly checked the door every time the bell dinged, disappointed each time he realized it wasn't the man he thought it was.
He heard it rung and went outside, barely looking up when he dried his hands from the freezing water.
To his shock, Heechul was standing before him, grinning. "They pick my play! They're going to produce it!"
Hankyung blinked, excited when he then asked. "When did you know?"
"A week ago, but I held back from telling anyone until I told you first."
Hankyung seemed taken aback. "I'm... the first one you told?"
"Of course." Heechul stated. "Without you, I would never have gotten this far."
Hankyung fought back a smile when he went ahead and hugged him. This partially shocked the other, but he quickly hid it as he reached around and held him just as tightly.
They were both guilty of taking advantage of the moment.
Once they parted ways, Heechul felt his smile grow wider when he scanned the shop he hadn't stepped in for a while. "You don't have a large selection." Heechul commented at the limited display clay pots before him.
"My muse left me, there wasn't much I could do."
"Then would you mind if I stay longer? Everyday if I could? Never-mind, I don't want to hear your rejection."
Hankyung pursed his lips, tilting the hat forward as Heechul playfully waved away his hand.
If Heechul ever asked, he doubted he'd reject anything the man asked. The weeks that were without him, he realized how much he wanted for the other to come by.
Heechul took off his coat, his thin long-sleeve shirt hung off his shoulders as he crossed his arms, following behind Hankyung to the back of the shop. Their arms accidentally touched and Heechul, by habit, winced at the frigid feel of his skin.
It was a feeling they both missed.
Hankyung arrived in the back room of the stage that late winter. He met the playwright who sighed in the back, instantly hugging the pottery maker to comfort himself.
"You did good." Hankyung said, hugging the exhausted man back. Heechul allowed himself to lay against him for a long while, drifting off as his shoulders became less tensed and he was able to breathe easier now.
There was pressure on the actors, the producer and the art department, but the story he created tied it together. He was glad for the moment, that it succeeded.
Heechul then peered over Hankyung's shoulder, staring around as if the man was hiding someone. "I gave you a pair." Heechul said, "I thought you were going to give it to a friend."
Hankyung shook his head. "...Mm." Heechul said uneasily. "I guess I thought you'd bring a date or someone. I was worried when I realized it was too late to take back the second ticket."
"Why are you worried if I bring a date?"
Heechul realized the spot he got into, and simply chose to stay quiet. Hankyung scanned around the office briefly when he noticed the pot in the corner of his office, sitting on display in his desk, while the few awards and letters of recognition were hidden and obscured behind various books and magazines.
He smiled as Heechul arched an eyebrow at his expression. "What is it?"
"You're sweet." Hankyung realized.
"...Must you sound so shocked?" Heechul asked, offended as he reached for his coat. Hankyung chuckled and reached for Heechul's infamous hat, one he hadn't seen the man wore for most of the season.
Outside the theatre in the calming cold, he hurried to Heechul's side and then placed it on his head. Heechul adjusted it while giving him a questioning look.
"It isn't you without it." Hankyung explained, walking ahead. Heechul's gaze followed after him, and glanced at his own reflection, deciding the other was right.
Heechul bought a coffee from a nearby vendor and held it to warm his hands.
"I admit I was surprised." Hankyung stated abruptly, continuing as Heechul raised his eyebrows. "I thought you would write a tragic ending, considering your perspective of the world."
"Well, I figured not every story has to face a tragic ending, no matter how cruel the world is." Heechul said bluntly, walking closer to Hankyung unconsciously. Hankyung noticed the closing distance and his eyes lit.
"Agreed." Hankyung said afterward, he watched his step as his hands were stuffed in his pockets. He took in that small hint of courage and dared to ask. "You have to write endings according to how it fits the story and the characters, right?"
"Of course," Heechul replied, a puff of white air escaping his lips.
"Then, what's our ending?" Hankyung asked. "If the world was fair and just, do you think things would go right for us?"
Heechul paused momentarily at the other's straightforward approach, sipping his coffee as he shifted his gaze slightly, staying idly silent. "I'm not sure."
Hankyung lowered his eyes, disappointed with such a vague response. Heechul glanced at his disheartened expression and then looked up as the snow slowly fell from the skies above. "If it was, then I say so."
"And if it wasn't?"
"I like to rebel and make it so nonetheless." Heechul then claimed. "Do you think you'd be willing to write the story with me?"
"If it means forever with you, I gladly will."
Heechul was thankful for the dim lights and the shadow of his hat shielding his face. To save face, he could blame his flushed cheeks on the cold weather.
Things were beginning, and Heechul figured he didn't have to think of a conclusion between them yet. He kept the nearly empty cup close to his lips, Hankyung then leaned forward and kissed him on the tip of his nose.
"What was that for?"
Hankyung shrugged playfully, looking straight into his wide eyes. "Just thought you needed it."
The playwright looked at the pavement between them, his coffee soon turning cold as he dropped it in the nearby trash bin. He clasped them together when he felt Hankyung pull one of them away and hold it snugly in his own hand.
To his surprise, they weren't so cold as before.
And to his delight, his lips were as warm as he imagined them to be.
A/N: Haven't written Hanchul in so long, miss it >< I intended to write a Fluff Romance between them, but it didn't really come out like that.
Determined to try next time ><
Check out hanchul_love ^^