It was only yesterday when Karn had his first real interaction with Fuse. Not watching him from a distance, instead they had actual conversations and physical contact

Smiling to himself, Karn swiped a croissant from the silver tray in his room and bit into the warm, crunchy bread. It didn’t taste exactly like the ones France, but it was close enough.

Just over a year ago, Karn was sitting behind Fuse in ‘International Relations’, admiring Fuse’s gorgeous, bronze skin, which contrasted nicely against his white uniform. He hadn’t seen anyone as focused as Fuse, not even the nerds that treated school like the stairway to heaven. It was a rare sight to see someone so beautiful give a damn about his brain. Most attractive people, at least from Karn’s experience, didn’t bother with their intellect. They relied on their looks to get by.  

But not Fuse. If anything, he seemed oblivious to his stunning features. Any person that was even half as good-looking as Fuse would’ve been having his way with every girl on campus and relishing the online attention. However, Fuse kept a fairly low profile. He didn’t have any social media profiles, that Karn knew of, and not once was he seen flirting. This much was learned from Karn’s slightly obsessive attention. 

It wasn’t that Karn was too shy to approach the other boy, but he knew that his lifestyle wasn’t conducive to relationships, especially with someone like Fuse. Mafia life was dangerous and unpredictable. One minute, Karn could be enjoying a night in the club, and the next, he might be on the run from enemies. Not to mention that his father was roping him in to deal with more of the family business. With this in mind, having a relationship with Fuse would put Fuse on the enemy’s radar. It’d taken everything in his willpower to not walk up to Fuse and simply say, “Hi.”

Karn thought his semester in France would help take his mind off Fuse, and for a while, it did. Paris was full of other-worldly beauty. For months, it was fine dining, nightclubs, and a bit of studying.

But it didn’t help him to stop thinking about Fuse. None of the extremely attractive Frenchmen who hit on him compared to Fuse, with his rich, golden-brown skin, and cinnamon-colored eyes that blinked rapidly when he was agitated.  

When he saw Fuse yesterday, all his feelings came rushing back. Paris had been a waste of a plane ticket. And now, Karn was delighted by a new discovery—pressing Fuse’s buttons. It was half the fun yesterday. That guy seemed to have more buttons than the elevator of a skyscraper, and Karn was determined to push them all, eager to trigger his various reactions. 

So far, there were three tell-tale signs from his body language to indicate his feelings. The easiest one to provoke was anger. One snide comment from Karn, and Fuse was clenching his fists like he was trying to trap air in his palms. Dejection made Fuse’s eyes flutter, and Karn hated that he’d witnessed it. Though he couldn’t pinpoint exactly what had caused him to go quiet back in the car, he suspected that it had something to do with his abrupt scolding. The last, and Karn’s new favorite, was making Fuse flustered. His face and ears flushed a cute scarlet-red, adding depth to that already exquisite skin-tone.

Karn knew he shouldn’t be messing with him. But he couldn’t help himself despite the constant struggle between chasing after the person that stole his breath with one glance or keeping away from him. Yes, Karn was in the mafia, but he deserved happiness too, didn’t he?

Sinking back in his velvet chair, Karn grabbed his coffee from the tray and took a sip, enjoying the bitter-sweet taste. The heat running down his throat filled his body with a warmth that brought him back to the feeling of kissing Fuse. Before, Karn only dreamt what it’d be like to taste those full lips and nibble on that perfect cupid’s bow. He’d never imagined what that kiss would do to him. Hell, his heart hadn’t beat that quickly since the thrill of his first car race when he was fifteen. 

Karn was lucky to have had that opportunity in the maid’s closet yesterday. When he’d noticed Fuse following him in the hotel, he didn’t really understand why. He also didn’t know that dragging him into a closet would result in a kiss that turned his world upside down, inside out, and into a million pieces. Actually, Karn had no idea what Fuse would do if he kissed him. Best guess would’ve been a punch to the face. And thanks to whatever god was granting wishes that day, his hypothesis was proven wrong. Fuse hadn’t hit him, and in fact, for a second he thought he might actually be into the moment as much as he was. 

Unfortunately, their kiss wasn’t the only thing that affected Fuse. Thinking about that damn gun pointed at his head made Karn’s blood boil hotter than the coffee in his hand. If Taksin hadn’t possessed a weapon, Karn would’ve beaten the man until he was nothing but a bloody pulp.

Thankfully, Fuse was a very impressive fighter and skillfully took down Taksin’s crew. Karn didn’t know what it’d feel like to have something bad happen to him, and he didn’t want to find out. 

Still, Fuse’s combat talents raised an interesting question. Where did the bruises on his body come from? Fuse came to school each week with a new set of bruises on his neck and arms, but this was the same person that escaped two mafia bodyguards without a scratch? When Karn first noticed them, he figured that Fuse was skirmish-prone. It was becoming apparent that there was a much darker answer. Abusive household, maybe. Fuck, Karn really hoped it wasn’t that.  


After Karn arrived at campus, he was in for another delight. Fuse and his friend, Ake, were at a recruitment table for the school’s extracurricular ‘Bodyguard Program’. Looking at the golden flecks of sunlight on Fuse’s skin, he couldn’t help but smile. This was his usual routine, playing the role of secret admirer and then carrying on with his day.

But after their kiss, things were different. He couldn’t keep his distance, and Karn’s smile, therefore, was short-lived once he saw Fuse happily talking to the campus’ hottest senior, Tao. A bitter taste pooled in his mouth, pure, red-hot jealousy seeping in. There was no chance in hell he was going to let Fuse be swept up by that meathead’s charms. While Tao’s muscular physique was attractive, he had little to offer. From their brief conversations at the gym, Karn determined there was more space than brain in his skull. Karn was a way better match for Fuse. 

The vivid image of Tao and Fuse getting frisky in one of the campus hallways pained his mind, prompting Karn to storm over to that damned table. Stepping in between Tao and Fuse, Karn snatched a registration sheet from the table, feeling incredibly smug at separating them.  

“Why are you here?” Fuse asked tartly. 

Karn bit back a grin. Someone must’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed.

“Good morning to you too,” Karn replied playfully, eager for their new round of repartee. “Why does it look like I’m here?” Holding the form, he pretended to scan the page long enough to feign genuine interest. Once his gaze met the last sentence, he lowered the paper and shifted his focus to the much more fascinating view in front of him—a glaring Fuse.

“You’re here to irritate me,” he accused, wrinkling his form in his fist. With almost no effort, Karn had managed to play with another of Fuse’s ‘buttons’, and it was kind of turning him on. 

Beside Fuse, Ake raised his eyebrows but said nothing.  

“Good guess, but I’m interested in joining the program,” Karn said, picking up a pen to emphasize his sincerity. At Fuse’s eye-roll, Karn set his form on the table and neatly wrote his name on the first line. 

Fuse mimicked his actions, filling out three lines more than him. “This is for people who want to become bodyguards, not hire them.” 

“Actually,” Wisit, the recruiter behind the table, spoke up. “This program is designed for bodyguarding, but it can be an alternative for learning self-defense.”

“Is that so?” Karn raised a brow. This program was sounding better by the second. Signing up might not be a bad idea after all. “What exactly do you do in this program?” 

“Simple.” Wisit reached under the stand and retrieved a brochure. Laying it flat on the table, he pushed it towards Karn. “We pair you with another participant, and you alternate being each other’s bodyguard for each assessment.” He pointed to a section titled, ‘About Us.’ “You’ll have assessments conducted on how well you protect or are protected.”

Karn nodded, but something still didn’t make sense. “Why alternate bodyguards?” This was a bodyguard program for everyone, wasn’t it?

“This way you can understand the perspective of your client and gain hands-on experience as a bodyguard.”

Never mind the logistics. “Can I choose who I get paired with?” Karn asked, handing the brochure back to him.

“No.” Wisit accepted the pamphlet and set it aside. “We do that for you.” 

Karn glanced at Fuse. Somehow, he was going to make sure they were paired. No way was anyone else ‘guarding’ that body. 

Just thinking about all the ways he could get closer to Fuse sent excitement running through his veins. Fuck—he really had no business meddling with Fuse’s training, especially when he knew he should be staying away, but it was impossible to hold back. His rationale was on vacation while his creative side was daydreaming scenarios that ended with him and Fuse in another small space. Amazing things happened in tight enclosures, like kisses that led to body tingling experiences.

“N’Tao,” Fuse asked, resting against the table as he peered over at him. Karn’s eyes narrowed. He leaned forward, obscuring Fuse’s view of Tao. Evidently, Fuse wasn’t having any of his shit because he shoved Karn’s chest back, hand lingering on his pecs. 

“Like what you’re grabbing?” Karn murmured, smirking as the boy yanked his hand back like he’d been burned. Too cute.

Busy filling out his information, Tao acknowledged Fuse with a, “Hm?” 

“Why are you joining?” Fuse asked.

Tao looked up at him and shrugged. “I like martial arts and figured this would be a cool way to practice it.” 

Karn withheld rolling his eyes as he saw the man not-so-subtly flex his biceps. “You mean show off?” I can flex better than that.

“Which martial arts do you practice?” Fuse asked, ignoring Karn.

“Uh, Wing Chun. Lot of sore forearms.” Tao rubbed his forearm for emphasis. 

Karn was familiar with the combat style and recalled the many weeks of arm-aches. It didn’t take long for him to decide it wasn’t his speed.

“I’ve heard that Wing Chun is pretty useless in real fights,” Karn said. This Tao guy wasn’t that impressive, and he was determined that Fuse knew it too.

“It’s best for close proximity,” Tao admitted sheepishly, seeming thrown off by the opposition. “But with proper training, it can be effective at longer distances.”

“Does that mean you’re experienced with closeness?” Fuse asked, nudging Ake’s side.

What the hell is that supposed to mean? Karn bit the inside of his cheek. Tao and Fuse’s light flirting shouldn’t have been sending him into a jealous frenzy, but the sickness churning his stomach was telling a different story.

“You could say that.” Tao laughed.

“You don’t sound very confident,” Karn pressed. This was so unlike him, letting something rile him up so easily. Usually he’d quip a snide remark and relax in the eye of the hurricane. His sister called him the ‘unwavering sea’.   

Tao rubbed the back of his neck. “I’ve only been practicing for a couple of years.”

“What belt are you?” Ake spoke up, hiding behind Fuse like a timid child. 

“Wing Chun doesn’t have belts.” Tao bit his lower lip and returned to writing, a faint blush appearing on his cheeks. 

Ake covered his face with a form and turned away. Fuse needed friends that weren’t going to pass out from a conversation. His social status was far below what it should’ve been, given his looks and fighting skills. It defied the law of hierarchies. 

“Maybe you could show us your moves sometime,” Fuse said, grinning hopefully. “Ake has been wanting to learn some self-defense techniques.” 

Over my dead body. “Isn’t that what this program is for?” Karn asked, letting the words smoothly roll off his tongue to show he was totally calm. After all, Fuse had no reason to think he’d be upset at his apparent interest in Tao. And he planned to let him think that.

“Yes, but one-on-one training is the best way to learn,” Fuse responded in a sassy tone. 

Karn grit his teeth, his jaw growing sore from the tension. That was it. Returning to his paper, he began filling out the rest of the form, using enough pressure that the pen was able to tear the paper. It was decided. He was going to be in this fucking program and keep people like Tao away from Fuse. Those were his lips to kiss.

“Karn, are you even going to have time for this program?” Fuse asked, sounding anything but curious. 

“Time is but a human concept, which I love to manipulate to my liking.” In reality, this program was going to be a tight squeeze in his busy schedule. Maintaining study and a mafia business was rather time consuming, but he’d make it work.

“So, no.” Fuse scoffed. 

“That’s not what I said.”

Fuse huffed out a dramatic sigh of irritation. “Why do you even want to join?” he pestered.

Finishing his paper, Karn set the pen aside and took one quick sweep of Fuse’s body, stopping at those pretty lashes and soft, brown eyes. Fuse challenged his stare, locking their eye-contact. “So I can guard you,” Karn said bluntly.

Fuse’s thick brows furrowed as he swallowed thickly. “I don’t need your guarding.” 

Karn smirked, catching Fuse’s quick glance at his lips. “Life is full of luxuries we don’t need, yet we still enjoy them.”

“There’s nothing to enjoy about you.” Fuse crossed his arms over his chest. His defiance was adorable. 

“Really?” Karn crept forward, shivering in the soft warmth coming from Fuse’s body. “I’d argue otherwise.” He shamelessly stared at Fuse’s mouth, those perfectly full lips that he’d kissed. If they were in private, he’d have pulled him close and kissed him again. And he’d never let go. He’d bring Fuse new pleasures that’d make him forget everything.

Ake peered from over Fuse’s shoulder, eyeing them suspiciously. “Do you two know each other?” 

“No,” Fuse answered quickly.

Had the circumstances been different, that response would’ve hurt Karn’s feelings. But given that their budding relationship was off to a rocky start, he would’ve expected nothing less. He’d rather be a nobody than Fuse’s enemy.

Lifting his paper, Karn hummed a tune as he inspected what he’d written, checking that it was all correct. His delightful melody must’ve been too loud because Fuse started growling.

“Don’t you have somewhere else to be? Where’s your entourage?” Fuse interrogated. 

Karn gave his form to Wisit, staring at Fuse, who apparently couldn’t stop looking at him. “Eating croissants back in France.”

“Why don’t you join them?” Fuse clutched the edge of the table, his fingers turning white. All this pent up rage would have been better used in a dojo. 

Au contraire,” Karn said. “I already have. They decided to stay an extra semester.” Trust Karn’s friends to stay abroad while he was forced back home.

“And they left you behind?” Fuse teased, as though it was such a shame for them to abandon him. Sarcasm? Someone is a quick study.

Karn shrugged. “I hated being frozen to a popsicle. I’d rather melt here with you.” 

“Save your breath,” Fuse hissed, annoyance etching his tone. 

“Share it with me?” Karn winked. 

“In your dreams.”

“Or in a closet.” 

Fuse opened his mouth to speak but snapped it shut as soon as the word ‘closet’ left Karn’s mouth. His golden face turned beet-red. Karn primed his lips at the memory, wanting to make him moan again, louder next time.

“It really seems like you know each other,” Ake muttered.

“We don’t!” Fuse shouted. Letting go of the table, he clenched his fist and slammed his form on the table with his other hand, shoving it towards Wisit. In a ball of rage, he stormed off.

“Ai’Fuse?” Ake called after him, shaking his head as he watched his friend enter a nearby building. Of course he tore the door open. 

“Your friend is so hot-headed.” Karn chuckled. In theory, he shouldn’t want Fuse upset. But he couldn’t help feeling triumphant in finding another Fuse discovery. When given the opportunity and if pushed enough, Fuse walked away rather than stay and fight.

Ake laughed. “I know. That’s why I call him, ‘Short Fuse’.”

Karn grinned and followed after Fuse.


1 Comment

  1. Kaikai

    This a a delightful delicious chapter. It was an endearing chapter I loved it.
    From the first musings of Karn, a prior relationship with Fuse is revealed.

    This totally surprised me.

    A smiling Karn, muses that he not only had a real conversation with Fuse but also physical contact.

    Karn has been observing Fuse for over a year. He is obviously attracted to Fuse with his stunning features and gorgeous, blonde skin.
    Karn is self aware. He even notes he has been paying slightly obsessive attention to Fuse.

    Karn is very perceptive. He has been studying Fuse and discovering what he can from afar.

    It is the detailed perception of infatuation.

    Karn sees Fuse as very focused on his studies unlike
    “ the nerds that treated school like the stairway to heaven”. Like this.

    Attractive Fuse is oblivious to his beauty.
    Instead he keeps a low profile, and keeps to himself, not a flirtatious type.

    I was not surprised to learn that Karn was not shy. He is definitely a confident social individual.

    So it was not shyness that had kept Karn from approaching Fuse. Instead he feared the predictable dangers in the mafia life. “Having a relationship with Fuse would put Fuse on the enemy’s radar “.

    Using his willpower Karn purposely made no contact.

    So Karn is being protective here with his crush. He is showing care and that he did not want to get people hurt.

    Even a year away in Paris did not diminish his infatuation with Fuse.

    Upon seeing Fuse following Karn,
    “ all of his feelings came rushing back. “

    With the real life encounter, Karn lets his playful self emerge, pressing Fuse’s buttons.
    Enjoying that Fuse had “ more buttons than the elevator if a skyscraper. “ Nice image.

    Karn is perceptive. He quickly learns from the tell-tale body language, how to trigger reactions.

    I like this description of anger.
    “ clenching his fists like he was trying to trap air in his palms. “

    Karn is sensitive to Fuse. He is aware that with his abrupt scolding, Fuse was hurt.
    I like. “ dejection made his eyes flutter. “.
    I like seeing a caring sensitive Karn.

    There is also the teasing Karn who loves to see Fuse flustered with a cute blush.

    Karn is very aware of the contradictory push pull reaction to Fuse.

    I love this.
    It was “ the constant struggle between chasing after the person who stole his breath with one glance or keeping away from him “

    Yet telling also is that the attraction is very strong. To the point of Karn being unable to help himself and planning to pursue Fuse.

    His question to himself was reflective. Didn’t he deserve happiness even if he was in the mafia?

    So is this revealing that Karn was not currently happy in his life. I think so.

    I like seeing a caring sensitive Karn.

    There is also the teasing Karn who loves to see Fuse flustered with a cute blush.

    Karn is very aware of the contradictory push pull reaction to Fuse.

    I love this.
    It was “ the constant struggle between chasing after the person who stole his breath with one glance or keeping away from him “

    Yet telling also is that the attraction is very strong. To the point of Karn being unable to help himself and planning to pursue Fuse.

    His question to himself was reflective. Didn’t he deserve happiness even if he was in the mafia?

    So is this revealing that Karn was not currently happy in his life. I think so.
    I love. “ The heat running down his throat filled his body with a warmth that brought him back to the feeling of kissing Fuse.” Lovely.

    I like Karn being very aware that kissing Fuse “ turned his world upside down, inside out, and into a million pieces. “. I love this extended description.

    Karn also savors the knowledge that Fuse responded to the kiss instead of punching him in the face.

    Karn is happy about this response.

    Again showing care for Fuse, Karn is very aware of the danger Fuse incurred from Taksin’s crew.

    Again observing Fuse, Karn appreciates his superior fighting abilities.

    Karn is not just looking at Fuse as a sex toy, he is looking at him as a person.
    This is delightful.

    Karn even wonders if past bruises on Fuse were from abuse.

    In a good mood, Karn finds delight in discovering Fuse on campus.

    This is cute that he couldn’t help but smile. I like this secret admirer Karn.

    Karn is much more emotional than I had thought.

    Upon encountering Fuse talking happily to the good looking Tao, Karn is hit with a wave of jealousy.

    This boy is emotional.
    This is beautiful writing.
    “ A bitter taste pooled in his mouth, pure, red hot jealousy seeping in ‘“.
    I love the water image.

    Karn immediately decides to intervene with that meat head talking to Fuse.

    This is a possessive delightful cute Karn.
    He smugly storms over to separate the two.

    Karn is greeted by a grouchy Fuse who woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

    Fuse who is trying to forget Karn and the encounter, is tart , glaring, accusative.

    The repartee begins. It is an endearing and adorable exchange.

    Karn delights in seeing emotional reactions from Kinn.
    He feigns interest in the bodyguard program.

    I like his gaze met the sentence.

    Fuse is definitely on the defensive. He reminds me of a hissing cat.

    He tries to drive Karn away with accusations, glares and eye rolls.

    It does not work.
    Karn is adorably irrepressible.

    Seeing a way to be closer to Fuse or perhaps to enjoy pressing more buttons, Karn signs up for the program.

    Infatuated Karn knows he should not interfere with Fuse’s training,
    “ but it was impossible to hold back .”

    The expression , this boy was whipped fits.

    Giving up being rational, Karn fantasizes about body tingling experiences in closed spaces.

    Caught but the cuteness of Fuse’s reactions, Karn flirts with like what you are grabbing?

    Karn tries to thwart Fuse’s attempts to draw Tao out for Aek.

    Karn’s jealous antics and comments to himself are just endearing. He over reacts to Tao’s comments. He overacts to Fuse asking Tao about being experienced with closeness.

    Jealousy is a sickness churning in his stomach. Very nice image.

    Karn is self reflective and realizes he is not being his usual unwavering sea clam self. Instead he is riled up and emotional.

    Karn does notice that Ake is timid, especially around Tao.

    However, Karn totally misinterprets Fuse trying to draw Tao out for his friend.
    However, Karn attempts to feign calmness.

    Fuse also missing emotional cues from Karn or purposefully ignoring them,
    continues with his sassy tone.

    I love “. Using enough pressure that the pen was able to tear the paper. “

    I love possessive Karn with those lips are his.

    Fuse is challenging , meets Karn eye to eye.
    “ There is nothing to enjoy about you. “
    Unperturbed and attracted by the cute defiance, Karn crept closer.

    Karn again shows sensitivity to Karn. He does not take offense at being rebuffed.

    Fuse is most definitely flustered at this point. He tries to use sarcasm to retaliate.

    This cheesy sentence made me laugh out loud.

    I hated being frozen to a popsicle. I’d rather melt here with you.

    It is delightfully awful.

    This sequence is adorable,
    Save your breath.
    Share it with me.
    In your dreams.
    Or in a closet.

    Or in a closet is the perfect response to basically stop Fuse in his tracks.

    Not only did the comment stop Fuse, his emotions exploded as he storms off in a ball of rage, tearing open a door to get away.

    Karn observes that Fuse would run away rather than to stay and fight.

    Meanwhile friend Ake knows there is interaction going on, between the two.

    When queried about his friend Fuse being hot headed,
    Ake laughs and drops out Fuse’s nick name.
    Short Fuse.

    Karn is left grinning at delectable Fuse and gets ready to pursue.

    Karn in this chapter is endearing. He is cute as he pursues his infatuation. I had not expected this perceptive side underneath the arrogant flirting.

    Fuse reveals his feisty side as he valiantly tries to ward off his attraction to Karn.
    He is much sassier than expected. He is also more hot tempered than expected.
    But he is very cute in his glaring comments.

    I love Karn taking a delight in teasing Fuse. I like his possessiveness.

    But is there anything beyond playfulness with Karn ? I see evidence of being a caring person while being playful.

    I loved this chapter.

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