Thank you for your request and thank you so much for waiting!
CL drummed her fingers impatiently against the arm of her
desk chair. They had been working for hours now with only laughable results and
Gray could feel her eyes boring into him. He tried to tell himself that he was
over thinking it, remind himself that she was actually a sweet person despite
her stage persona, but he always found himself being extra cautious around her.
“What’s wrong with you today?”
“Nothing,” he mumbled.
He made a feeble attempt at concentrating. Even putting a hand to his headphones like he was listening for something. CL rolled her chair towards him, her legs practically brushing against his, so that she could study his face more closely.
“We can work on this another day,” she said. “When you’re feeling more up to it.”
She stood up to leave but Gray motioned for her to stay.
“I told you nothing’s wrong. I can do this.”
“Gray, I’ve seen you produce a beat from scratch in five minutes. You’ve been working on just the base for over an hour.”
He dejectedly tossed his headphones on his desk and buried his face in his hands. She was right. He’d come to work this week with the full intention of being productive but his mind kept wandering to all the things he’d been neglecting lately. His social life, his sleep, but most importantly you. What he wouldn’t give just to hear your laugh again.
CL wasn’t his first choice to talk to about what was really going on. But she was there and she was listening which counted for something.
“There’s someone I’ve been talking to lately. I haven’t seen her in a while and I guess I just, you know, miss her.”
“I knew it!”
She let out a short laugh as she relaxed back against the chair, waiting for him to continue.
“You knew it?”
“Just look at your office. It’s so clean. Cleaner than Jiyong’s at least,” she corrected herself when she saw the trashcan nearly overflowing with Soju bottles and food wrappers. “You don’t keep a lot of sentimental stuff around. Except for this one birthday card.” She picked it up to demonstrate. Gray held out his hand to take it from her but she ignored him. “I already read it while you were in the bathroom.”
“You went through my stuff?”
“Just the card. I had to know what made it so special.”
No wonder people are afraid of you, Gray thought as he snatched the card away from her and placed it carefully inside his desk drawer. He saw the guilt flicker across her face just before she looked away and he knew that this wasn’t her idea. Their friendship had never developed the same candidness that she had with the others. Someone had put her up to this, most likely Simon, but that didn’t make him want to humor the conversation any further.
“So..,” she said hesitantly.
“What are you going to do about it?”
He didn’t have an answer for her, not the one he knew she wanted to hear, so he turned his attention back to his monitor as if that could make the conversation dissipate. As if stopping her meant everyone would leave him to bury his intentions until he had time to fathom them out for himself. But that wasn’t possible. Not when the rest of the crew had clearly decided something needed to be done on his behalf.
“Ignoring things won’t solve your problems, Gray.”
“Maybe,” he shrugged. “But it won’t cause any either.”
“It already has. At least from what Simon tells me.”
“You can’t just string her along like she’s a toy,” she continued. “Both of you care about one another. That much is obvious even to me but there will come a point when knowing you care won’t be good enough. You need to say something or do you not think she’s worth it?”
“Of course she’s worth it!” He didn’t mean to yell but losing you was not something he liked thinking about. “Why do you think this is so hard for me?”
“But what are you so afraid of?”
“That I’ll say the wrong thing. That I’ve misinterpreted our friendship. That I’m asking too much of her too soon.”
“That’s you trying to rationalize being selfish.”
“Then what would you have me do?”
“Stop thinking and just do it. No planning. No speeches. And no clichéd song writing.” Seeing Gray cringe at the mention of song writing made CL smile a bit. She moved closer to him; taking hold of his hands before he could shy away from her. “Practice with me.”
It felt weird confessing to her. Gray tried his best to visualize you instead but his words came out stunted and awkward like lines he’d plagiarized from a poorly scripted movie. There was no trace of passion behind them. Only the distinct urge to get this over with as he rattled off words like “love” as if they meant nothing.
If only he hadn’t been too wrapped up in his own embarrassment to hear the shuffling of footsteps outside his office door. Jay’s voice saying your name a little too loudly to give him a warning. You standing frozen in the doorway, your arms laden with food for them all, as you listened to him confess to someone else.
He stood up the moment he noticed you. You let the bags of food fall to the floor before he could say anything as you turned on your heel to leave. By the time Gray called after you, you were already at the lobby. You couldn’t bring yourself to turn back and face him. Your strength was like paper but the one thing you were determined to do was not let him see you cry. You loved Gray and if that meant letting him be happy with someone else then so be it…
Gray fumbled with the keypad to your apartment. He couldn’t stop his fingers from trembling despite the small wave of relief he felt when he heard the door lock click that you hadn’t changed to code already. None of this was supposed to have happened and the only thing he could think as he hurried through the doorway was that somehow he was going to make things right.
You heard the door and tried to go hide in your bedroom but Gray was quicker than you anticipated. He blocked your way before you could even leave the living room and you both stood there in stunned silence for a moment.
He noticed how you flinched when he said your name and his chest tightened. The betrayal you felt was evident in your eyes in the brief contact you managed to make with his. What was he putting you through? He didn’t even want to imagine the things that had been going through your mind in the time it took him to recover from you running out of the studio.
CL had been right. The things he’d left unsaid too long had caused more damage than he could have anticipated. But he wouldn’t let that happen next time because he didn’t want there to be a next time. He didn’t want to categorize his life from now on as before and after losing you.
Before he could think, Gray was crossing the room and wrapping his arms around the small of your back. His lips were on yours in a heartbeat as he pulled you against him. You were too stunned to reciprocate but he kept trying; his mouth gently imploring you to forgive him.
It was only when he felt your hands pushing against his chest that he realized he’d fucked up. That in his desperation he’d only succeeded in widening the rift between you. His grip tightened in response. In his head he was already scrambling to memorize the details of your face, the sound of his name in your voice, the way you fit in his arms because he knew when he let you go those memories would be all he was left with.
“What the hell, Gray?” You shouted when he finally let you go. Your voice was trembling. Hot tears were streaming down your face but you didn’t care if he saw them anymore.
“No,” you cut him off. “You don’t get to say that to me. Don’t you dare.”
He tried stepping closer to you but you backed away in response. He looked panicked like he was genuinely at a loss as to what to do next which made two of you.
“She doesn’t mean anything to me. She never has.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
“No you don’t understand,” he said, running his fingers through his hair in an exasperated gesture. “She was trying to help me. Ask her. Ask any of the guys and they’ll tell you the same thing. You’re all I think about. You’re the only one that makes me feel grounded. Whenever I picture my future it’s always me standing beside you because that’s all I want.”
Your face softened as he spoke. The Gray you’d become accustomed to was always so reserved. He only showed what he was feeling in a series of subtleties that’d you’d learned to pick up on. Even after everything that you’d seen, there was something about the way in which he spoke then, how raw his words sounded, that made you want to trust him.
“Please just say something. Anything. Even if it’s that you hate me.”
Gray let his head fall as he braced himself for your response.
“I could never hate you,” you whispered which made Gray perk his head back up.
“You believe me?”
“You’re a lot of things, Gray, but you’ve always been a terrible liar.” You gave him a half smile. This time you didn’t move away when he chanced another step towards you. “But I’m still royally pissed.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
“You had to go and have our first kiss while I’m angry with you.”
You both couldn’t help but laugh at the situation and you leaned into Gray’s embrace as you tried to wipe the tears from your cheeks. Gray kissed the top of your head, one of his hands rubbing your back to help soothe you, as a smile plastered his face. It was only when your breathing steadied that he broke the silence.
“Are you still mad at me?”
“In that case, I’m sorry again,” he said as he tilted your chin up and kissed you for the second time. Only this time you kissed him back.