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A an apology

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Jinwoo stepped into the Prince’s chambers and caught Dongmin’s eye. They’d found and rescued Moon Bin’s sister.

Dongmin nodded and glanced at Minhyuk, who reached out and unlocked Moon Bin’s shackles.

Myungjun, who’d been sitting on the edge of the bed surrounded by Hyunwoo, Jooheon, and Changkyun, lifted his head.

“Is it done?” he asked.

Jinwoo bowed. “Yes, Your Highness.”

Myungjun flicked his wrist. “Everyone out.”

Hyunwoo, Jooheon, and Changkyun made a beeline for the servants’ door behind one of the heavy draperies near the east window.

Dongmin and Minhyuk escorted Bin toward the main door.

Jinwoo followed them.

“Except Guardsman Park,” Myungjun said.

Minhyuk and Jinwoo paused obediently.

“Except Guardsman Park Jinwoo,” Myungjun corrected himself.

Dongmin whisked Moon Bin and Minhyuk out of the room and closed the door soundlessly behind them.

Jinwoo clasped his hands behind his back and ducked his chin deferentially. “Your Highness?”

Myungjun’s voice wavered when he said, “You said the new guardsman was cute.”

Jinwoo blinked. “Pardon?”

“Guardsman Ok.”

“Jinwook-ssi?” Jinwoo considered. “Well, he has a cute personality.”

Myungjun pinned him with a glare. “You said the other new guardsman has a pretty singing voice.”

It took Jinwoo a moment to figure out which new member of the royal guard Myungjun meant, because a whole new squadron had just been added to the force, and their welcome party at the local noraebang had been kind of wild.

“Ah - Park Hyungseok-ssi,” Jinwoo said carefully.

“You remember their names. You used to never learn their names for at least a month,” Myungjun said.

Because during the worst of the conspiracy to overthrow Myungjun’s family’s dynasty, the life expectancy of royal guards had been low, and there had been no point in getting attached to new recruits.

Jinwoo cleared his throat. “He has a pleasant voice, if you like that folksy trot sound.”

Myungjun frowned. “You don’t really like trot music.”

“Not really, no, but we were at the noraebang.”

Myungjun narrowed his eyes. “I’ve seen Guardsman Ok. He is very pretty.”

Jinwoo said, “Your Highness -”

“Don’t call me that. Not when it’s just us. Not when I’m talking about us.”

Jinwoo closed his eyes, took a deep breath, opened his eyes. “Myungjunnie. I meant he has a cute personality. He’s...kind of like an old man sometimes. He’s awkward. You can tell he was probably raised by his grandparents. He also really likes trot music. All the songs he sang were his grandmother’s favorite songs.”

“Why this sudden interest in trot music?”

“You like trot music. I thought, the next time you wanted to go to the noraebang, you might want people besides me and Minhyuk and Dongmin to sing with you,” Jinwoo said. He sighed. “Were you jealous because you thought I was flirting with other guards? Is that what this whole drinking at the bar was about?”

Myungjun looked away. “I know it’s difficult, for the two of us. Besides being two men, I am who I am, and you are who you are, and -” He was on his feet and across the room in a few steps. “Jinwoo, I -”

Jinwoo looked at him. “You what?”

Myungjun kissed him. It was fast and desperate, and Jinwoo could taste his tears. Jinwoo held him tightly and kissed him back, softened the kiss till Myungjun’s sobs subsided.

“I’m sorry,” Myungjun whispered. “I didn’t mean to be so jealous. It’s just - you’re so handsome, and you could have anyone you want, and I’m the second son, and I can’t really have anyone, and -”

Jinwoo kissed him on the mouth, a brief, warm press of lips. “I’m sorry too. I’m sorry I didn’t explain. They’re nice, and I think you could be friends with them, and I think you’d be happy with a few more friends, and it makes me happy to see you happy.”

“I love you, Jinie,” Myungjun said softly.

“I love you too, Junie.”