It was easy to tell when someone who did not typically belong in a tattoo parlor had walked into one, especially when you’d been working in one for years like Moon Bin had. Bin liked to consider himself an expert on it, in fact. The nervous person tended to either rush in with a great burst of confidence, or they’d hover outside the door, pacing back and forth while they tried to muster up the courage to finally inch themselves inside.
The man that had just managed to get in the door fell into the latter category. Bin had originally noticed him maybe twenty minutes ago, when the man had first walked by the windows. He was startlingly beautiful, and Bin had always had a weakness for beautiful things. So when a tall, well-dressed man with big eyes and shiny hair had walked past the shop when Bin had been sitting behind the counter without any appointments or anything else to do for over an hour, he’d been eager to notice him. The fact that the man had started going through the motions of someone entering the parlor for the first time had simply been a bonus.
Once the bell over the door to the shop had finally rung, Bin called out a friendly greeting, which the poor man jumped at before quietly returning, then decided to give him a couple minutes to look at the artwork hung on the walls before he said, “Can I help you with anything?”
The man jumped again at being addressed the second time. He glanced around the room nervously, but shuffled up to the counter. Up close, he was even prettier, and Bin gave him one of his brightest smiles. I’m putting him at ease, he said to himself.
Clearing his throat, the man finally looked Bin in the eye. “Are you Park Jinwoo?” he asked, and Bin’s smile immediately dropped with his shock. His change in expression seemed to make the man even more nervous, because he started stuttering and fumbling for his pocket of his overcoat. “Or Moon Bin? I, I’ve been doing some research...” He flipped open the small notebook he’d produced.
Half rising out of his seat so that he could peek into it, Bin saw neat handwritten notes. Reading upside down was difficult, but he could make out headers of both his and Jinwoo’s names, with bullet points listed underneath each one.
“I’m Moon Bin,” he said, looking up at the man. “You’re very thorough.”
A blush flooded the man’s cheeks, and he closed the notebook again. He seemed just as nervous as before, but unsure of how to proceed.
Taking pity on him, Bin sat back down and smiled again. “So you’re looking for me or Jinwoo. I’m assuming you’re looking for a tattoo?”
The man nodded. “You two seemed like the best options for what I want,” he said. “Also, you’re closer than any of the other shops. And had some of the best reviews.”
Bin’s smile felt a bit too wide, but the fact that this man had researched and decided to come to him and Jinwoo made a drop of warm pride grow in his chest. “Well,” he said, sitting back down in his chair. “I’m certainly not going to argue with the reviews if they brought you here.” In a moment of confidence, he winked, and was pleased when the man’s blush came back in full force.
Smirking to himself, Bin pulled out his sketchbook and a handful of colored pencils, and grabbed a customer information packet. “I can go ahead and do a consultation now,” he said, standing up and walking out from behind the desk. “What was your name?” he asked over his shoulder as he led the man towards one of the empty rooms off the lobby.
“Lee Dongmin,” the man answered as Bin pushed back the curtain that offered privacy from the lobby.
Together they sat down at the small table tucked into the corner of the room, Dongmin in the chair that stayed there and Bin on a rolling stool. “Alright, Dongmin,” Bin said. He looked up, and noticed the other man’s gaze was stuck on the bench that took up the most space in the room. Bin smiled, and pushed the packet across the table towards him. “This is a lot of basic information about our practice, liabilities, that kind of thing.”
Dongmin nodded. “I looked over this on your website,” he said.
Pleased, Bin straightened a bit on his stool. “Awesome,” he said. “We can talk more about the tattoo in specific then.” He flipped his sketchbook open and picked up a blue colored pencil. “Did you have any ideas?”
“Yes, actually.” Dongmin reached into the inside pocket of his coat this time, and pulled out a folded sheet of paper, handing it to Bin. Curious, Bin unfolded it. The paper had a drawing of plant, a long stem with bunches of flowers growing off of it. “It’s a snapdragon,” Dongmin continued.
Bin hummed. “It’s beautiful,” he said, and kept himself from taking on like you to the sentence. “Any reasons why this particular flower?”
Dongmin hummed thoughtfully, reaching out and playing with the corner of the paper. “It means grace under pressure,” he said. “My mother always told me to live by that.”
Nodding, Bin put the drawing down between them. They discussed sizing (it was going to be relatively large) and placement (Dongmin wanted to put it on his right shoulder blade), and Bin couldn’t help but think that for someone who had never gotten a tattoo (Dongmin had admitted to the fact when he asked), Dongmin was extremely well prepared. He’d obviously thought about it carefully before coming into the shop.
After Bin had made a rough sketch of the drawing, they walked back towards the front counter. “When are you wanting to come in and do it?” he asked, settling down in the chair and pulling the scheduling book towards him.
Dongmin rested both hands on the counter, leaning forward to peer over. “What’s the earliest time you have available?”
Bin hummed as he flipped through the book. “Usually we wait about a week or so after a consultation, just to give you a little more time to think.”
Dongmin wrinkled his nose, and Bin’s heart skipped a beat at how cute it was. “If I wait that long I’m going to chicken out,” he mumbled.
Bin gave a loud laugh, then looked back down at his book. “I’ve got a spot open tomorrow afternoon.”
“I’ll take it.”
With a down payment securing his appointment, Bin waved Dongmin out of the door. He spent the next forty minutes researching snapdragons and refining his sketch. As he was working on coloring, Jinwoo walked into the shop, lugging with him a large box.
“Do you mind?” he said in an exasperated voice, when Bin made no move to get up from behind the desk.
Bin waved a hand. “You’re already nearly to the back room,” he said dismissively, not looking up from his drawing. “You made it that far yourself.”
With some exasperated grumbling, Jinwoo shuffled on towards the back room where they kept extra ink and the stock of sanitized needles. There were some thumps and a muffled curse, and then he reappeared, coming around the counter to peer over Bin’s shoulder. “That’s pretty,” he said. “Is it for you?”
Bin shook his head, picking up the sketchbook and passing it to Jinwoo so he could look closer. “A very pretty man came in today. His name is Dongmin, and he wants to do it as soon as possible.”
Jinwoo snorted, handing the sketchbook back to Bin. “First tattoo?” he asked, and Bin nodded in affirmative. “Where does he want it?”
Bin reached back and patted his shoulder. “About where a tank top ends.”
“Sounds cool. Come help me get the rest of the packages.”
The next afternoon, Dongmin walked into the tattoo shop exactly five minutes before his appointment. He seemed jittery but determined, his leg bouncing as he sat on the padded bench but his face set.
Bin glanced at him as he put a few finishing touches on the transfer paper. The snapdragon done, he straightened up. “Alright, here’s the part where you strip.”
Dongmin’s head snapped up, eyes wide and alarmed, and Bin swallowed a laugh at his expression. “Your shirt, Dongmin-ssi,” he said, plucking at the sleeve of Dongmin’s button up as he walked by to put on gloves and pull out his inks. “I can’t put a tattoo on your shoulder if it’s all covered up.”
“Right,” Dongmin said, his voice floating over Bin’s shoulder. Smiling, Bin pulled his inks and shook them up a bit. Satisfied, he turned around, and quite nearly dropped the ink straight onto the floor.
He was used to naked bodies. People wanted to decorate all over their skin. Being a tattoo artist insured that Bin was not usually thrown by seeing naked skin.
Bin just hadn’t been prepared to turn around to Dongmin pulling off his undershirt, revealing abs and other lean muscle that Bin hadn’t been expecting to see. It was enough of a surprise to make him freeze in his spot, stuck there until Dongmin looked up and caught his gaze. His cheeks immediately turned pink, and Bin’s burned in response as he cleared his throat and then quickly walked to his rolling tray and arranged his inks. Picking up the transfer paper with the snapdragon drawn on it, Bin turned back to Dongmin.
“Here’s my design,” he said, passing the paper over. “If you like it, we can put it on your shoulder and get started.”
Dongmin handed Bin the paper back with a small smile. “It’s beautiful. Exactly what I was imagining.”
“Brilliant,” Bin said. The process of transferring Bin’s design onto Dongmin’s shoulder was quick, and in short order Dongmin was lying face down on the bench and Bin was rolling over on his stool, tattoo gun in hand. “Are you ready?”
Dongmin let out a shaky exhale. “As I’ll ever be,” he said.
Frowning, Bin rolled over so that he was in front of Dongmin’s head. “Hey,” he said, tapping the top of his head. Dongmin lifted his head and rested his chin on his forearm. If he hadn’t needed to address Dongmin’s comment, he very easily could have gotten lost in his beautiful brown eyes. “Are you completely ready? A tattoo isn’t something you can easily change your mind about.”
Eyes twinkling, Dongmin smiled. “I’m ready,” he assured. “Just nervous about the needle bit.”
Bin nodded, rolling back to be next to Dongmin’s right shoulder. “Tell me if you need a break,” he said. “You’re my only appointment for the afternoon, so there’s no rush.”
“Alright,” Dongmin called quietly, and then Bin picked up his gun again. He put a hand on Dongmin’s back, and felt the muscle tense when he turned the machine on.
“I’m starting,” he said, and then began on the first line.
The outline was the quickest part of the tattoo. He finished the outline of the entire flower, without doing the lines of the smaller petals, and lifted up. He watched with a bit of amusement as Dongmin sank into the bench a bit more with a heavy exhale. “Doing alright?” Bin asked, reloading his ink.
Dongmin hummed. “Not as bad as I thought it was going to be,” he said, turning his head so his cheek pillowed on his arm. Bin grinned in response, and then started his gun back up. The rest of the outline passed quickly. They took a few more breaks during the shading, when he’d switched to a bigger needle. The coloring took the longest, and required the most breaks. Dongmin had stopped responding to Bin’s quiet questions when the shading was nearly done, shaking or nodding his head in response instead. After Bin had paused and assured that he was alright, he’d stopped asking questions entirely, letting the sound of the tattoo gun and the soft rock music Jinwoo had turned on in the shop at some point fill the small room.
About three and a half hours after they’d begun (four, really, if you counted all the breaks), Bin rolled back from the bench with a grand sigh, turning off the machine and ejecting the last needle. “You can sit up now,” he said, standing up and stretching his back before grabbing a mirror off a nearby shelf.
Dongmin groaned a bit as he sat up, spinning his legs so that he faced the mirror mounted on the wall. “That was awful,” he said to Bin.
“But you made it through,” Bin said, walking around the bench so that he was standing behind Dongmin. “You ready to see it?”
A quick intake of breath, and then Dongmin nodded, his eyes bright and excited despite his complaints. Bin grinned at him in the mounted mirror, then turned the one in his hands so that Dongmin could see his shoulder. “Oh my,” Dongmin said, his left hand coming up to his mouth. “Oh. It’s beautiful.”
Bin smiled as he watched Dongmin look at his new tattoo in the mirror. When Dongmin’s gaze lifted to meet Bin’s, his heart skipped a bit in his chest and he ducked his head a bit at Dongmin’s bright grin. To hide the way his cheeks were warming, Bin put the mirror down and crouched down and pulled plastic wrap from under the bench.
Dongmin cringed a little bit as Bin smoothed the wrap over the fresh tattoo. Bin gave him a gentle pat on his upper arm, then passed Dongmin his shirts. “Don’t take that wrap off for four hours, alright?” Bin said, and Dongmin nodded.
Together they walked back out to the front desk, where Bin gave Dongmin a packet on aftercare and some house ointment to put on the tattoo, reminding him that it was essentially a large open wound.
“If you need more ointment don’t be afraid to come back,” Bin said. “Or if you want another tattoo. They’re a bit addicting.”
Dongmin laughed. “Getting stabbed repeatedly with tiny needles is addicting?”
Shrugging, Bin pushed Dongmin’s card and receipt to him over the counter. “You’ve done it once now,” he said, grinning. “If you’re not back in the next four months, I’ll get a matching snapdragon somewhere on my body.”
A bright grin stretched over Dongmin’s face. “If I win, do I get to choose where it goes?” he said, and Bin’s heart skipped a beat.
“We’ll see,” he managed to say. He may have only known Dongmin for a little over twenty four hours, but he could already feel himself falling head over heels. “I’ve been told I’m quite irresistible. You might come back just to see me.”
Dongmin laughed, a loud and pure sound, as he stuck his card in his wallet and started leaving the shop. “We’ll see!”
one day i'll write something before 1am? like???? why does everything i write insist on only working after midnight
i know absolutely nothing about how tattoos work, but here's a buzzfeed article that i got most of my process details from.
brownies for all of those who read this far. as always, come talk to me on tumblr!
Chapter 2: band
“What’s this?” he said, pointing at the drawing. “Could this be what I think it is?”
“That depends on what you think it is,” Dongmin replied calmly. “If you believe it’s your win, I’m afraid you’re incorrect.”
Bin’s first tattoo did not hold a lot of special meaning, beyond the point of it being his first tattoo.
It was a simple black band around his upper arm, where his bicep and the muscle of his shoulder met. It was a little less than a centimeter thick, and had only taken about half an hour for Jinwoo to do for him. When it was done, Bin had decided that he liked the simplicity of it, and the fact that it was easy to maintain.
His next tattoo had been done only a couple weeks later, this time some small illustrated stars in the shape of Taurus, for his mother’s zodiac sign, on his left side. Tattooing on his ribs had been painful, but the end result had mad Bin’s heart soar.
After the second tattoo, Bin had walked back into the shop and asked Jinwoo to teach him how to do tattoos. He’d brought sketchbooks of his artwork as proof of his skill, and Jinwoo had agreed to let him become an apprentice.
Now, three years later, he’d become Jinwoo’s partner rather than apprentice. Bin loved putting tattoos on people. He loved being entrusted to create artwork that was permanent in someone’s life, he loved hearing the meanings behind the tattoos that different people chose. There wasn’t much better of a feeling than when he finished inking someone, and they could only smile when they looked at their tattoos.
Usually, Bin would take pictures of his completed works to put in his portfolio. Sometimes, when he was bored with nothing else to do, he’d flip through them and admire his work. In the couple weeks after Dongmin’s tattoo, he’d found himself looking at it quite a lot. He’d never done a snapdragon before (or even heard of it, if he was honest), and Bin was quite proud of how the end result had come out.
The fact that he had looked at it so often was probably the reason his attention was caught by the edge of a tattoo one day at the gym.
Bin had just finished his weight training, and was getting on a bike to ride for a couple miles before calling it a day. His gym was relatively large, and had both bikes with seat back and ones that were more like actual bikes, set up in two rows the the backed seats in front of the regular bikes.
Perhaps a mile into his ride, a man walked past Bin and settled in the lower bike in front of him.
At first, Bin wasn’t very concerned with the man. Bangtan’s Fire was playing in his earbuds, and he was determined to finish his next mile before the song finished. A few minutes later though, Bin noticed that the man at the bike in front of him had the edges of a yellow tattoo poking out of the sleeve of his tank top.
It wasn’t that Bin had recognized the tattoo straight off the bat. He really just enjoyed looking at different tattoos, especially if he thought he might try a similar design at some point in the future. However, the longer he looked at this tattoo, the more familiar it looked. After a couple seconds of hard staring, Bin realized that it was the edge of a yellow flower, one that looked very much like the snapdragon he’d tattooed onto Lee Dongmin a little over two months before.
After a couple more minutes of pedaling, the man shifted a bit, making his tank top fall enough to the left for Bin to confirm that yes, that was a yellow snapdragon, and that was either Lee Dongmin or someone with a startlingly similar tattoo in a startlingly similar location.
Deciding that it would be awkward to stop in the middle of his biking to address the probably-Lee-Dongmin-but-maybe-not, he finished his ride. Thankfully, the man did not get off the bike before Bin finished, which meant it was easy for Bin to walk around and confirm that it was, in fact, Lee Dongmin on the bike in front of him.
A grin broke out over his face as Dongmin looked up to see who the person hovering next to him was, his eyes widening in recognition.
“Moon Bin?” he asked, and Bin nodded happily.
“The one and only,” he said. “How are you, Lee Dongmin?”
The bike Dongmin was on beeped, and Dongmin jerked a bit in surprise. “Finished with my biking, apparently,” he said, making Bin snicker as he rose. “How are you, Moon Bin?”
Bin easily fell into step with Dongmin, walking towards the locker room. “Doing well. Your snapdragon seems to have healed nicely,” he said.
The smile Dongmin gave him in response made Bin’s heart skip a beat, wide a bright. “I love it,” he said earnestly, and Bin really could have died because the way Dongmin held eye contact with him while saying “I love” was completely unnecessary and heart-stopping.
Clearing his throat, Bin held the door to the locker room open for him. “I’m glad to hear it,” he said, following him into the room. The lockers they had chosen were (unfortunately, in Bin’s opinion) not next to each other. Dongmin had chosen one a few yards to the left of Bin’s, but was still near enough to continue conversations. “Have you gotten the itch for another one yet?” Bin asked cheekily, reaching into his locker to pull out a change of clothes. He looked back at Dongmin, only to be assaulted for the second time in his life by the sight of the man pulling off his shirt.
For the second time in his life, he also got caught staring. Unlike the time at the tattoo shop, though, where they had been on Bin’s home turf, they were in neutral territory. Apparently, that was all Dongmin needed to not blush immediately at Bin’s gaze- this time, he grinned, and Bin’s stomach flopped in response.
With a cheekiness that equaled Bin’s in asking the question, Dongmin responded, “You’ll find that I’m not fond of losing, Moon Bin.”
The way he said it, combined with the playful smirk Dongmin was giving him, sent a shiver down Bin’s spine as the realization that he very well may end up with a snapdragon somewhere on his body swept over him.
He couldn’t let Dongmin know that though, so instead he grinned and sang, “Only time will tell.”
“The more that ticks away, the closer I become to winning,” Dongmin threw back, and Bin couldn’t come up with a response to that one.
After the meeting at the gym, Bin began to keep careful track of the amount of time left before Dongmin won their little bet and he had to have a snapdragon put somewhere on his body. Jinwoo, upon finding the pad of sticky notes that Bin had turned into a countdown, had only rolled his eyes when Bin had explained its purpose.
“This is that pretty guy, right?” he asked, tossing the pad back to Bin.
Jinwoo snorted. “How many times have you met the guy so that you trust him with power over where you put a tattoo?”
There was a short pause as Bin added the number up in his head. “Five times now? We go to the same gym.”
Tisking, Jinwoo shook his head.
“I’ve gotten tattoos with less meaning,” Bin said defensively.
Jinwoo arched an eyebrow. “Does that mean that this one will have more meaning?”
Caught, Bin could only flounder, trying to come up with an explanation that wasn’t incriminating. Jinwoo watched him expectantly, and after a moment Bin simply sunk into his chair. “That’s what I thought,” Jinwoo said loftily. Bin was saved from continuing interrogation by Jinwoo’s next appointment walking into the shop.
When Bin made the sticky note countdown, there had been 54 days left until it was four months after the day Bin tattooed the snapdragon onto Dongmin’s shoulder.
On day 45, there had been no word from Dongmin.
By day 39, Bin found himself doodling snapdragons, wondering where he might most like to have one.
On day 28, Bin ran into Dongmin at the gym again. When they returned to the locker room, Dongmin had taken out a backpack to pull clean clothes out of. Bin happened to notice a sketch book, with another flower drawn in it.
“What’s this?” he said, pointing at the drawing. “Could this be what I think it is?”
“That depends on what you think it is,” Dongmin replied calmly. “If you believe it’s your win, I’m afraid you’re incorrect.” He’d laughed at Bin’s subsequent pout.
When Bin pulled off the sticky note marking the day as 13, he’d all but resigned himself to the snapdragon.
With two days left for Dongmin to walk in and have Bin win, he’d gotten over the sulk of losing and had begun to get excited about getting a new tattoo.
On day zero, Bin threw away the empty sticky note pad and put tattoos on three different people. None of them were Dongmin. Jinwoo had teased him a bit throughout the day about it, and then they’d gone out for drinks together with Jinwoo’s friend Myungjun. Any event that Myungjun was at was boisterous and happy, and dinner with him was no different. Bin managed to convince Jinwoo to pay for his portion of the meal, and happily listened to Jinwoo complained about it as they walked down the street from the restaurant.
They parted ways at a street corner, Myungjun and Jinwoo tumbling down to the subway to get back to their apartments downtown. Bin walked leisurely to his, only a few blocks from the restaurant, enjoying the cool spring breeze and humming to himself, soju and meat warming his belly as he walked.
It was after midnight by the time he let himself into his apartment. Tossing his keys into the dish by the door and shucking his shoes, Bin decided he wasn’t quite ready for bed despite the late hour. Jinwoo was not and had never been a morning person, and subsequently did not open the shop until noon unless there was a special appointment set up. Bin, thankfully, had no such special appointments and wouldn’t have to worry about being awake early, anyway.
A text to confirm that Minhyuk was awake and wanted to play a game of Fifa, Bin started up his XBox and plunked down on his couch. Waiting for the game to load, he clicked through his notifications. There were a couple texts from his sister, a few Instagram and Twitter notifications, and an email. Curious, Bin clicked on the email.
12:01AM. From: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bin immediately sat upright, opening the email in a rush and almost dropping his phone. Cursing as he fumbled for it, Bin read the first line.
His heart flipped at the lack of his family name. Dongmin had never addressed him as simply Bin before.
I’ve decided that it is the perfect time to get a new tattoo, the email continued.
“Oh my god,” Bin said out loud. He could practically hear the smile in Dongmin’s voice, could almost picture the grin he’d worn as he typed the message and sent it exactly a minute after the bet expired. He didn’t even need to read the rest of the email at the moment, the important part was that Dongmin had won and was rubbing it in his face.
Flopping back onto the couch, Bin stared at his ceiling, unable to keep a grin from making its way onto his face. Beside him, his phone buzzed with texts from Minhyuk, asking why he wasn’t on the game yet. All Bin could do was smile like an idiot, and think about Lee Dongmin, the sassy man that he was very quickly falling for, and with whom he’d have a matching tattoo very soon.
honestly i'm not at all happy with how this came out, i had a hard time writing it. hopefully some real plot will turn up at some point, idk what's happening here.
if you're not driven away by the poor quality here, come visit with me on tumblr!
Chapter 3: dahlia
“Oh man,” Jinwoo said, looking at Bin with wide eyes. “You’re a goner.”
Bin couldn’t say that he was wrong.
When Dongmin had come in for the consultation for his second tattoo, he was grinning like a cat that got the cream. He was also dressed impeccably in a suit, complete with a vest but no tie, the top two buttons of his shirt undone and exposing his collarbone.
“Yeah, yeah,” Bin said in greeting, pretending to be much more annoyed than he actually was. This was mostly for the sake of concealing the fact that Dongmin’s outfit made him a little bit weak in the knees. “You win, you win.”
Dongmin stopped at the counter, grinning down to where Bin and Jinwoo sat. “I win,” he said happily, and Bin rolled his eyes, gathering up his sketchbook and colored pencils. As he stood, Bin turned to face Jinwoo.
Jinwoo, who was staring up at Dongmin, his mouth hanging open a bit. Bin smirked. “I told you he was pretty.” He pushed Jinwoo’s jaw up, and his mouth shut with a soft click. Bin looked over a Dongmin and grinned in response to the embarrassed but pleased smile on the man’s face.
Still grinning, Bin led Dongmin back to the small tattoo room. Their meeting went quick, Dongmin’s sketch (which had, in fact, been the one Bin had seen at the gym) neat and clear. Bin was able to quickly make a replica in his sketchbook. When they moved back to the lobby to schedule Dongmin’s next appointment, Jinwoo was still behind the counter, eyeing both of them as they drew closer.
Bin smiled at him as he breezed behind the counter, pulling out the schedule. “What do you say, think you can wait a week this time?”
Dongmin laughed, a pure sound that Bin wished he could hear over and over again. He could feel Jinwoo’s gaze on him, though, so Bin worked very hard on keeping a relatively neutral expression.
“I can wait until next week,” Dongmin affirmed, leaning his elbows on the counter. Jinwoo offered to take his payment and he bustled to pull out his wallet.
“How’s next Thursday?”
A hum as Dongmin stuck his card back in his wallet. “It’d have to be after five.”
“I can do that.”
Nodding, Bin wrote Dongmin’s name into his appointment slot and blocked out the rest of the evening for the appointment. “That’s it then,” he said.
“Um, no it’s not,” Jinwoo said. “You haven’t addressed the bet.”
Really, Bin could have kicked him. If Dongmin didn’t say now where he wanted Bin to get the tattoo, that meant he’d have to come back at some point.
Though it was strange that Dongmin hadn’t brought it up. Bin looked up at him, only to find Dongmin smiling shyly. Perhaps he’d not forgotten at all. Still, Bin couldn’t well pretend that Jinwoo hadn’t spoken.
“He’s right,” Bin said, plunking down in his chair and sending Jinwoo the most subtle death glare he could manage. “Where am I getting a snapdragon?”
Dongmin hummed again, leaning on the counter so he could look at Bin. As his gaze roved, Bin couldn’t help the feeling that he was suddenly being stripped bare, pinned under a microscope. “I’m assuming you have other tattoos?” Dongmin said with a smile. When Bin nodded, Dongmin flicked a hand. “I’ll need to see you without your shirt then.”
Bin gasped lightly, his arms immediately coming up to cross over his chest while Jinwoo burst into laughter.
“I like him!” Jinwoo managed to say through his giggling, which only got worse when he finally got a look at the glare Bin was giving him.
Dongmin had the audacity to be grinning at Jinwoo when Bin looked back at him, his arms still crossed tightly over his chest. “Don’t look so reproachful,” Dongmin said, still smiling. “You can’t possibly expect me to tell you where to put a tattoo when I don’t know where your others are.”
Bin frowned, especially when Jinwoo piped up again with, “He’s right, you know.”
“Sorry,” Bin sniffed. “I don’t take my shirt off before the third date.”
“Neither do I, but you’ve seen me without a shirt,” Dongmin said immediately. “Multiple times. You didn’t seem too upset about it.”
Bin’s face burned as Jinwoo burst into laughter again. “Would you like me to do your tattoos through your shirt?” he bit out. He wasn’t quite sure he liked this, Jinwoo and Dongmin getting on like a house on fire. He felt far too much like the butt of all the jokes. Dongmin just kept grinning at him, and Bin fell back in his chair, pouting.
Dongmin giggled, still smiling. “Can we compromise, then?”
Bin refused to look at him. “What kind of compromise?” he mumbled, still pouting.
Dongmin’s smile stretched even wider. “Two dates,” he said. “Then we decide where the snapdragon goes.”
His heart must have stopped in his chest. He was dead, his heart had given out, that was the only way that this situation was real. Bin was frozen, arms still crossed over his chest, gaze still off towards the side.
Jerking a bit, Bin finally looked up at Dongmin. His throat was dry. “Um. Yes. That would be a good compromise, I think.”
Dongmin’s smile was blinding. “Excellent,” he said. “We’ll arrange after next week, alright?” And then he winked and Bin really wanted to die because this was surely not the same man that had walked into the tattoo shop four months and three days ago, stuttering and scared of the whole building.
After Dongmin had walked out of the door, Bin looked over at Jinwoo. The older man seemed just as shell-shocked as Bin felt.
“Oh man,” Jinwoo said, looking at Bin with wide eyes. “You’re a goner.”
Bin couldn’t say that he was wrong.
“So,” Bin said. Dongmin was currently on the bench in front of him, head pillowed on folded arms while Bin put his second tattoo- another flower, this time a dahlia- artfully next to the snapdragon. “Why flowers?”
Dongmin hummed, turning his head so that he faced Bin, despite the fact that the angle didn’t really allow him to be in Dongmin’s sightline. “They hold meaning,” he said. He grimaced as Bin moved needle. Bin mumbled an apology.
They were quiet for a moment. Jinwoo had chosen English music that day, and Jason Mraz was playing softly in the background. “‘Grace under pressure’ was snapdragon, right?” Bin asked. “Why do you want that etched into your skin?”
Eyes closing, Dongmin sighed lightly. “I’m a lawyer,” he said, and Bin’s interest was immediately piqued. Learning new things about Dongmin was one of his favorite activities. “Even the most well-laid defenses can get thrown to the wind if the other side pulls out information you didn’t know existed. Dealing with that is important.”
Bin nodded, though Dongmin couldn’t see him. “Are you out there putting bad guys in jail, then?” he asked, grinning down at Dongmin’s shoulder as he wiped excess ink and some blood that had welled up away.
A frown creased Dongmin’s face. “Not exactly,” he said, and his voice, usually cheerful, was flat.
Bin’s grin slipped off of his face, the sound of the tattoo gun dying as he took his foot off the pedal so that he could look at Dongmin’s face instead of his shoulder. His eyes were still closed, mouth set in a firm line. It didn’t seem any more information was forthcoming, so he reloaded the ink in the tattoo gun and went on with his work.
It took some time, but eventually the air in the room lightened again. Dongmin seemed to relax under the tattoo gun, the frown fading away to a peaceful expression. As he worked, Bin wondered what kind of work Dongmin could possibly be doing that made him so unhappy.
Maybe he defends murderers, Bin thought. Some kind of state lawyer? Are those a thing? Bin couldn’t decide if his knowledge was accurate or if it stemmed from too many crime television shows.
Whatever it was, it made Dongmin upset, and Bin wasn’t in any hurry to bring it back up. Instead, he concentrated on coloring the tattoo. They’d been working on it for nearly four hours now, and Bin estimated it’d be another half hour before he was done. The color of the dahlia was a bit more complicated, with the vibrant pink petals Dongmin had emphasized.
Another ten minutes passed without a word, only interrupted when the soft music cut off and Jinwoo stuck his head in to tell Bin he was headed out.
“Do you want me to put music back on?” Bin asked, rolling back and using Jinwoo’s interruption as an opportunity to stretch his back a bit.
Dongmin hummed but stayed still. “How much longer do you think it will be?”
Bin picked up his wet rag and wiped the tattoo a bit. “Maybe fifteen more minutes? We’re nearly done.”
“Don’t worry about it then,” Dongmin said. “Let’s just get done. It’s a bit late.”
“Okay.” Bin rolled back close and picked the tattoo gun up again.
The next fifteen minutes simultaneously flew by and seemed to stretch into infinity. The shop was quiet, just the two of them, with the only noise the sound of the tattoo gun as it pushed ink into Dongmin’s skin. Sometimes Dongmin would make noises, small grunts or groans as the needles hit especially sensitive spots.
Bin would mumble quiet apologies. At one point he’d paused in tattooing long enough to run a hand down Dongmin’s spine, trying to offer a quick comfort. Only after the fact that he’d done it did the motion seem more intimate perhaps than was professional- he certainly didn’t go trying to comfort other clients like that.
When the tattoo was done, Bin pulled his gloves off quickly and stood, pulling the hand mirror out and walking around the bench so he was behind Dongmin. Despite the tired weariness in his eyes, Dongmin’s face brightened when he saw the completed tattoo.
“It’s exactly what I wanted,” he said softly. Bin smiled, pleased with this reaction, and then went about the task of smoothing plastic wrap over the fresh tattoo. While Dongmin dressed again, Bin started cleaning up his inks and the gun. They stayed quiet, the silence peaceful. There was an unspoken agreement that they’d leave together.
Bin wasn’t exactly sure when they agreed to it, but he certainly wasn’t complaining as Dongmin stood behind him, waiting for him to lock the shop door. A final tug to make sure it was locked properly, and they started ambling down the road.
If Bin recalled correctly, one of Dongmin’s reasons for coming to Jinwoo’s shop in the first place had been its proximity to his home. He wasn’t sure where exactly that was, but it seemed to be taking him the same route as Bin, which certainly wasn’t something Bin was going to complain about.
They walked in silence, side by side with their hands tucked into their coat pockets, simply comfortable with each other. It was perfectly picturesque, right up until Bin’s stomach gave a loud, angry grumble.
It was loud enough to startle him into stopping, looking down at his stomach in shock.
“When did you last eat?” Dongmin asked. Bin looked up, and his breath caught in his throat. Dongmin’s brow was furrowed in concern, the glow of the street lamps casting warm light over his face while the breeze kicked his hair up into the most handsome dishevelment Bin had ever seen.
Jerking himself out of his observations, Bin thought back. “I guess around two? I ate late because I knew you weren’t coming til later.”
Dongmin tisked. “You should have eaten an early dinner,” he said. “Not a late lunch.” A glance over his shoulder, then Dongmin was turning back and grabbing Bin by the elbow. Startled by the contact, Bin let himself be pulled along and pushed into a convenience store just a block from where they’d been. “Go pick out a ramen,” Dongmin said, gently pushing Bin towards the ramen aisle. “Grab two.”
Still in a state of shock, Bin did as he was told, grabbing two of his favorite ramens and then shuffling back towards the front of the store. Dongmin was rounding the corner from the drinks, carrying a couple of banana milks and sausages. “Excellent,” he said when he saw the ramen in Bin’s hand. He dumped his sausages and milks onto the counter, and then grabbed the ramen from Bin and added it to the pile. He ignored Bin’s protests and paid for it all.
Five minutes later, Bin mumbled his thanks as Dongmin slid the cooked ramen in front of him, settling beside him with his own bowl. They ate in silence, the same comfortable feeling settling over Bin as he slurped up his noodles.
He watched Dongmin out of the corner of his eye, and every so often would see him grimace as he moved his right arm too much, the fresh tattoo probably pulling a bit.
“What does it mean?” Bin asked suddenly. Dongmin looked up at him, eyes wide and mouth full of noodles. “The dahlia. If I can ask,” Bin continued, smiling at him fondly.
Dongmin chewed his mouthful, nodding slowly. “Strength,” he said, and offered no other explanation. Bin nodded, turning back to his noodles.
Before he could take another bite, though, another thought occurred to him and Bin froze, chopsticks halfway to his open mouth.
“Dongmin,” he said, lowering the noodles. “Is this the first date?”
Dongmin hummed, mouth full once more, this time of banana milk. Once he swallowed, he looked over at Bin, meeting his gaze. “Do you want it to be?”
Bin was silent for a moment as he considered. “I guess so,” he said.
A grin spread over Dongmin’s face, and Bin felt the corners of his mouth tug upwards in response. He bumped his knee into Dongmin’s, and received a bump back as they both went back to their food, finishing in companionable silence once more.
Bin insisted on buying ice creams on the way out, eating the sweets as they walked down the quiet street. Their empty hands dangled between them, sometimes brushing as they walked. In a moment of confidence, Bin finally grabbed Dongmin’s hand, and the answering grin made his heart feel light enough to carry him off the ground.
Both ice creams were gone by the time they got to Bin’s apartment building. “Is yours much further?” he asked.
Dongmin shook his head. “Just a couple more blocks.” He seemed reluctant when he let go of Bin’s hand, but smiled nonetheless.
Bin tucked his hands into his pockets. He wasn’t quite ready to go up to his apartment quite yet. “Well,” he said, kicking at the ground lightly. “I enjoyed our first date.”
“I’m glad,” Dongmin said, and the earnesty in his voice, like always, made Bin smile.
“But there’s one thing missing,” Bin said, letting his gaze drop to the ground.
Dongmin’s brow furrowed. “What’s that?"
Bin looked up at Dongmin from under his eyelashes, and watched as the other man’s cheeks flushed a bit. “A kiss,” he said, letting himself pout a bit. He knew his pout was very hard to resist.
A grin stretched over Dongmin’s face. “I usually don’t kiss until the second date,” he said.
“Really?” Bin said, still pouting a little.
“Mm.” It seemed he’d gotten his way, though, because Dongmin was stepping closer and wrapping an arm around his waist. “But I guess since you’re expediting taking off your shirt for me, I could move a kiss up a bit.”
Bin hardly had time to feel the flush of embarrassment at the shirt comment before Dongmin was gently pressing their lips together, and at that point, Bin wasn’t much concerned with anything outside of wrapping his hands around Dongmin’s neck and chasing the sweet combination of ice cream and Dongmin’s lips.
WOW THAT ENDING WAS CHEESY LET'S PRETEND IT DIDN'T HAPPEN
real talk this is the actual fastest i've ever spit out a chapter pls don't expect this on the regular i had some serious inspiration today (it's not even 1am do y'all see this? two whole chapters before midnight i think i've been replaced by an alien). that being said i'm sure there's typos in here somewhere lemme know if you find any
as always, come talk to me on tumblr!
(bonus: here's the playlist that i listened to while writing this bad boy)
Chapter 4: roots
“You’re going to let him choose a place for a tattoo,” he said. “Even if the tattoo isn’t his name or anything, you’re always going to associate it with him. Are you alright with that?”
Bin kept looking at the ceiling. “Y’know, Minhyukkie,” he said. “I am.”
Minhyuk was the first person Bin had ever given a tattoo without Jinwoo’s careful supervision. His also happened to be the first white-ink tattoo that Bin had ever done. To make it doubly nerve-wracking, it was to be Minhyuk’s one and only tattoo, a small tree in the middle of his upper back with an extensive (and detailed) root system that extended down the length of his spine. The roots ended near the middle of his back. It had taken upwards of five hours for Bin to do, despite the fact that the tattoo only had lines, no coloring or shading.
If Minhyuk had not been his best friend, Bin probably would have cracked under the fear of messing up. But Minhyuk was his best friend, and the tattoo went on smoothly. When it was fully healed, the white ink stood out stark against his tan skin, a beautiful contrast. It was quintessentially Minhyuk, Bin had decided- grounded and wise, but made bold by one small change.
Another thing that quintessentially Minhyuk was the fact that he was really good at being annoying.
“It looks the same as the other shirt you tried on, or the one before that. Or any of the shirts you’ve made me look at.”
Bin growled in frustration as he regarded his reflection in the mirror. Minhyuk was lying on his bed, leaning on his elbows and tapping away at some game on his phone. The growl made him flick his eyes up quickly, then return to his game. “Look, hyung, in the past twenty minutes you’ve tried on, like, six shirts in varying shades of white and grey. They’re all t-shirts. What do you want me to say?”
With a groan, Bin spun around and fell face-down on his bed, making Minhyuk squawk as he was jostled by the movement. “Tell me one makes me look better than the others,” he said, voice muffled by the fact that his face was smushed into the mattress.
Beside him, Minhyuk sighed. “Show me a full outfit, then. And tell me what this is all about. And for the love of god, roll over so I can understand you.”
There was a shriek as Bin’s hand made contact with Minhyuk’s hip, but he rolled over nonetheless. With a sigh, he said, “I’m going on a date with the most beautiful man in existence, which will consist of lunch and a walk down the Han River, and then we will walk back to the shop so that I can take my shirt off and he can tell Jinwoo where to put a snapdragon tattoo on me.” Dongmin had sent him the idea for the date in an email, along with his phone number so that they didn’t have to communicate by email.
(Bin’s contact name for him included two yellow flowers.)
Minhyuk whistled. “He must be pretty damn attractive if you’re letting him place a tattoo.”
Sighing, Bin sat up. “He’s not just attractive, he’s nice and funny, even though he makes fun of me-”
“Oh my god,” Minhyuk said, unfolding his legs and springing off the bed. “If I help you choose an outfit it’ll keep you from waxing poetics, right?”
Bin smirked a bit as Minhyuk dug around in his closet. The peace lasted for all of five minutes- the amount of time it took for Minhyuk to throw clothing at Bin’s head, and subsequently for Bin to leap off the bed and start chasing him through the apartment. The chase ended when Minhyuk tripped and fell onto the carpet in the living room, giving opportunity for Bin to leap on him and start smacking. At some point they dissolved into a pile of limbs, lying on the floor and looking up at the ceiling.
“Do you really like him that much, hyung?” Minhyuk asked, when they had been quiet for a long time.
Bin hummed. “I think so.” He’d only known Dongmin for four and a half months- had really only been talking to him for two. They’d been on a singular date. “Is that crazy?”
The silence that followed did not surprise Bin. Minhyuk always took a while to gather his thoughts, and spoke only when he was sure of what he wanted to say. Dongmin would like him , Bin thought, and immediately wondered how telling that thought was.
He was distracted by Minhyuk rolling onto his side so that he was facing Bin. “You’re going to let him choose a place for a tattoo,” he said. “Even if the tattoo isn’t his name or anything, you’re always going to associate it with him. Are you alright with that?”
Bin kept looking at the ceiling. “Y’know, Minhyukkie,” he said. “I am.”
The next afternoon, Bin sat in the cafe Dongmin had asked to meet him at, bouncing his leg under the table. He fiddled with his phone, trying not to check it for texts, because he’d checked it every two minutes since Dongmin had been five minutes late for their date.
He’d checked his phone at least six times now.
His stomach was tight as he watched traffic outside the window, next to which he’d gotten a table. Surely he hadn’t been stood up. Dongmin did not seem to be the type that would skip out on a date with no warning- even if he hadn’t been flirting with Bin for well over a month now (really more, if you counted back to their first meeting), and especially not after the kiss(es) they’d exchanged outside Bin’s apartment building the week before.
But , the evil, evil little voice of anxiety in his mind said. What if he did?
Shut up , Bin told the voice, and then checked his phone again. Still no messages. With a sigh, he opened up a game and started playing to try and distract himself.
That, at least, was effective, because when Dongmin suddenly appeared and fell into the chair across from him, Bin was not at all prepared. Instead of cooly greeting him, Bin jumped and sent his phone clambering down to the table, making far more noise than was necessary.
Dongmin seemed amused, smiling as he shed the jacket of his suit.
“Hi,” Bin said, picking his phone up off the table and shoving it into his pocket.
“Hello,” Dongmin returned. The amusement fell off of his face as a concerned expression took over. “I’m so sorry that I’m so late- they wouldn’t let me leave the office, I’m so sorry.” Dongmin bit his lip, and Bin felt himself flush a bit as the guilt of having suspected the worst (even if only in the back of his mind) rolled in his stomach. “I hope I didn’t make you worry.”
Bin shook his head. “It’s not a big deal,” he said. “I didn’t have any appointments.”
The sigh Dongmin let out was relieved. “Thank goodness,” he said. With a glance towards the counter, he stood, and then extended a hand to Bin. “Wanna go with me?”
Pretending he wasn’t entirely affected by the way Dongmin was smiling down at him, Bin managed a grin as he took Dongmin’s hand and walked with him to order lunch.
The cafe Dongmin had chosen was excellent, with good sandwiches and better coffee. They’d split a piece of cake, which Bin had though was a great idea until he fed Dongmin a bite and the man had held eye contact as he delicately ate the piece off of Bin’s fork, and then Bin decided that his fork was his own and Lee Dongmin could keep his smirk to himself, thank you very much.
They walked out of the cafe and the short distance it took to get to the Han River, where they walked, talking about everything and nothing. Bin talked about Minhyuk and how he was a dance teacher, Dongmin talked about his friend Sanha, a paralegal at his firm. Bin found out that Dongmin didn’t care for spicy food but loved cheesy ramen, liked Eric Nam’s music, and liked learning languages when he had time.
Bin told Dongmin that he liked Block B and Bangtan, read a lot of manga (and therefore knew just the barest amount of Japanese), and liked to eat just about anything and everything.
“Maybe I should cook for you then,” Dongmin had said, laughing. “I’ve been trying to learn.”
Grinning in response, Bin said, “Tell me where and when. I’ll be there.”
At some point, one of them had grabbed the other’s hand. Bin relished the way they slotted together, Dongmin’s warm hand fitting into his palm nicely, swinging a bit as they walked. When they came upon a food cart they stopped and got fishcakes, and Dongmin’s smile had gotten them two extra ones for free from the old woman working the cart.
Eventually they ambled off the river bank and back into the city proper, winding their way through the streets until they were just a couple of blocks from the tattoo shop. Excitement built in his stomach, making him a bit wriggly as they drew nearer. Bin wanted to show Dongmin his tattoos, wanted him to know about them. Bin wanted Dongmin to know everything about him, and he wanted to know everything about Dongmin. That thought made him smile as he pulled the door to the shop open, dropping Dongmin’s hand so that he could flounce into the shop and get Jinwoo.
It would have been brilliant, had the lobby not been empty except for the sound of of a tattoo gun. The sound seemed to be coming from Jinwoo’s workroom. Brow furrowing, Bin walked over to stand outside the curtain.
“Jinwoo?” he called.
“Just a minute!” came the response, and after a moment the sound of the tattoo gun died and Jinwoo stuck his head out, a tired expression on his face. “Look, I know I said I’d do your flower today-”
“Snapdragon,” Bin corrected automatically.
JInwoo closed his eyes and breathed out a deep breath. “Snapdragon,” he amended. “But this lady ran in all panicked about an awful tattoo so I’m fixing it, and then I have an appointment. Decide where it’s going and I’ll do it later, okay?” Before Bin could respond, the blond man pulled his head back into his room. Music started playing a moment later, and then the sound of the tattoo gun started up again.
Bin turned to Dongmin, who had followed him into the shop. “Do you still want to figure out the placement?” Bin asked. “I’m not sure when the next free moment he has is.”
A small smile was given to him, and Bin was grinning in response before Dongmin said, “Sure.” So Bin lead him over to his little tattooing room, closing the curtain after Dongmin.
It was like being shut into their own little world. It took conscious effort not to appear too eager to strip his shirt off (he definitely, definitely had not gone to the gym more in the past two weeks than usual, absolutely not). Bin hummed along to the music Jinwoo had turned on as he unzipped his hoodie and pulled it off. Dongmin held a hand out for it, and Bin handed it to him without a second thought.
Bin managed to keep himself from dramatics as he tugged off the tank he’d had underneath the sweatshirt. A part of him was proud, but another part wondered if Dongmin would have enjoyed an over-dramatic reveal of his upper body. “I’m up for your examination,” he said, smiling as Dongmin rolled his eyes.
The barrier of cloth gone, Dongmin’s full attention was given to Bin’s revealed chest. Bin didn’t have a ton of tattoos on his front- there was a line from a poem he’d written in script underneath his left collarbone; a pretty blue and brown bird on his chest, just to the right of the middle; and a few things on his sides that wrapped around from his ribs. Dongmin seemed enraptured nevertheless, looking at each tattoo closely and making Bin’s skin prickle with his gaze. Reaching a hand out, Dongmin’s fingers hovered over the letters. “May I?” he asked.
Bin nodded, his throat suddenly dry as Dongmin traced the letters lightly with his fingers. Everywhere he touched seem to burn, and the small room felt smaller as Bin watched him move his hand along the tattoo.
“What’s so wrong about dreaming?” Dongmin read, and looked up, meeting Bin’s eyes. The room was suddenly ten degrees warmer and a tenfold more intimate as Dongmin held his gaze. Bin swallowed. Dongmin opened his mouth, then closed it, and whatever he was going to say was lost to Bin. “Can I look at your back?”
Wordlessly, Bin turned. The main focus of his back was a biplane on his upper right shoulder, done partly because when he was young he’d wanted to be a pilot, and partly because Bin was fascinated by the plans themselves. There were a few others, designs he’d thought were pretty or other small things. His breath hitched, though, when Dongmin laid his hand on Bin’s blank left shoulder, a perfect opposite to the tattoo on Dongmin’s right.
“Here,” Dongmin said quietly, tapping his fingers lightly against Bin’s skin. Bin shivered, and then tried to disguise it as a nod. He expected Dongmin to take his hand away, but instead it stayed there, warm and heavy.
Bin enjoyed having Dongmin’s hand on his back. He quite liked the feeling, and would even venture to say he might like to have Dongmin’s hands on other parts of his body (included, but not limited to, his shoulders, his sides, his butt). In fact, Bin was inclined to think that he might like to put his own hands on Dongmin’s shoulders or back or butt. However, they were in the shop. There was a lady neither of them knew having ink stabbed into her skin not ten yards away.
If that didn't kill a vibe, Bin wasn't sure what else did. So he turned around, catching Dongmin’s hand before it could completely fall away.
“So my upper left shoulder?” he asked.
If Dongmin’s pink ears were anything to go by, Bin had not been the only one affected by the intimate air in the room. That didn't stop him from nodding though, and Bin smiled as he dropped Dongmin’s hand and picked his shirt up. “I’ll tell Jinwoo then,” Bin said, tugging the top over his head.
As the curtain was shoved aside and they stepped back out into the lobby, Dongmin sighed. “I’m sorry Jinwoo doesn’t have time. I wanted to see the tattoo go on,” he said.
Bin looked at him strangely. “What do you mean, you’re sorry? I’m not getting this tattoo without you here to witness it.” He’d assumed Dongmin would want to see the tattoo go on, and the fact that he had been right made a little bubble of happiness burst in his chest.
Dongmin looked confused. “He said he’d do it later. Did he not mean tonight”
Smiling fondly, Bin grabbed Dongmin’s hand. “It can get done whenever. You have my number, right?” Dongmin nodded. “Then text me when you know you’re available. We’ll do it then.”
The smile Bin received for so small a statement was blinding. It was almost as good as the kiss that Dongmin leaned in and left on his cheek.
“I’ll text you then,” he said brightly.
Bin smiled back. He couldn’t wait.
your 2am post times return with this one...the true mh is back and there has been no proofreading
i don't actually know how tattoo parlors work but i'm assuming you can have people sit in on one (and if you can't- well, this is fiction for a reason)
here's the best idea i could find of what rocky's tattoo looks like...just imagine the tree bit smaller and the roots longer, and as a line drawing instead of a shadow.
come talk to me about what tattoos you think the members would have bc my ideas are kinda dumb on tumblr!
In my 2am state I forgot two very important things!!!
1. "What's so wrong about dreaming", aka the words from Bin's tattoo, are lyrics from My Style, the final track on Summer Vibes.
2. deaminanalo DREW REALLY AMAZING FANART OF DONGMIN AND HIS SNAPDRAGON AND I'M STILL YELLING BECAUSE IT'S EXACTLY HOW I PICTURED IT. seriously, go look at it and give it so much love because it's an absolutely gorgeous piece of art~
Chapter 5: honeysuckle
“Ready to go?” Dongmin asked, holding out his hand.
Twining their fingers together, Bin called, “I’m leaving, hyung!”
Jinwoo and Dongmin’s schedules did not line up nicely. In the month that passed after Dongmin had chosen where Bin’s tattoo would go, neither him nor Jinwoo had a free couple of hours at the same time to dedicate to the tattoo.
Bin wasn’t horribly upset though, because while Dongmin and Jinwoo’s schedules may not have lined up, that didn’t mean that his were not open. He and Dongmin were able to go another six or so dates in the time that passed.
Dongmin had no shortage of fun date ideas. They’d gone to a movie and to several different museums. Bin’s favorite one so far was when Dongmin had showed up right as the shop was closing (which was, mind, relatively late in the evening) and taken him to Namsan Park for a walk that had ended at the observatory, where they had looked at the stars and Dongmin had pointed out constellations. (When Bin had asked him where he learned them all, he’d blushed and mumbled something about a book he’d picked up the day before.)
He had another date that evening- he didn’t know what Dongmin had planned, but he’d gotten a text that morning asking if he was free. When Bin answered with a ‘yes’, Dongmin had sent another message saying he’d meet him after Bin’s last appointment for the day.
Bin was practically squirming with the excitement of it, sitting behind the counter while he waited for Dongmin to walk in. Jinwoo glanced at him, then rolled his eyes as he went back to the dragon design he was working on. “You are disgustingly cute,” he said.
Grinning, Bin tapped out a rhythm on the counter with his pen. He was really supposed to be working on a design for a girl that had emailed them, wanting a koi fish with lots of different colors, but the prospect of a mystery date had thrown his attention out of the window. His last appointment had just left, and he’d texted Dongmin that he was done. The bell over the door rang, and Bin shot out of his seat, only to sink back down as Jinwoo started laughing and stood to greet his client.
They moved to Jinwoo’s room, and Bin pouted a little as he worked on the sketch. The next time the bell rang, he looked up and felt his face break into a smile that was mirrored on Dongmin’s as the other man crossed the lobby. Happily Bin stood, tucking his sketchbook away in the counter drawer.
“Ready to go?” Dongmin asked, holding out his hand.
Twining their fingers together, Bin called, “I’m leaving, hyung!” There was a muffled shout of goodbye from Jinwoo’s work room, and then they were walking outside into the early spring air.
Spring was in full swing, the weather finally warm enough that coats were no longer necessary and green buds were beginning to be visible on tree branches. Dongmin seemed to have taken advantage of this, and was dressed in jeans and a dress shirt, a sweater pulled over it.
“This is nice,” Bin said, plucking at the light blue knit as they walked. “Was it casual Friday at the firm or something?”
Dongmin smiled brightly at him. “We cleaned out the office today,” he said, and started talking about all the things they’d thrown out and cleaned. Bin smiled fondly, swinging their hands back and forth lightly. He wasn’t sure where they were going, but it was his usual route home- in fact, his apartment building was within sight.
Poking Dongmin lightly in the side with his elbow, Bin asked, “Where are we going?”
Dongmin gave a small jerk, looking up and seeming to take in his surroundings for the first time. “Ah,” he said, smile returning. “We’re on our way to my apartment. I wanted to cook for you tonight.”
If there had ever been a phrase that made Bin’s heart soar, the words “cook for you” surely were them. The fact that they were coupled with Dongmin’s grin, while en route to his apartment, took them to levels of happiness Bin didn’t know they could achieve.
“You should have told me,” he said. He was fighting the urge to begin skipping. “I would have bought. I don’t know, wine or something.”
Dongmin must have been able to sense Bin’s excitement, because his smile got a little wider and his pace a little quicker. “No need,” he said. “I’ve got plenty of wine-or-something.”
The laugh he gave in reaction to Bin’s unamused face was loud and pure, and Bin tucked it away in his memory despite Dongmin’s bad joke. The rest of the walk to Dongmin’s apartment passed quickly, lighthearted banter carrying them through the distance easily. In the elevator on the way up to the right floor (the twelfth), Dongmin had pulled Bin into his side with an arm around his waist. Bin relished the hug, leaning his head on top of Dongmin’s as it was tucked into Bin’s shoulder. Another short walk down the hall and Dongmin was keying in his lock code and opening the door for Bin to walk through.
The apartment was, unsurprisingly, neat and tidy. Modestly sized, with a decor that somehow managed to be homey and effortlessly trendy at the same time. Bin shuffled into the living room, looking around with interest while Dongmin bustled by him and into the kitchen. Bin followed him slowly, taking in the neat stacks of books and notebooks that seemed to appear on every table. A violin was hung on the wall in the living room, and Bin stopped to marvel at it before continuing on to the kitchen.
The kitchen, like the rest of the apartment, was modestly sized. The counter wrapped around two walls and jutted out in a peninsula on a third side, separating the kitchen from the area for the table. There were bar stools tucked under the overhang of the counter’s peninsula, and Bin settled into one. “Do you play violin?” he asked.
Dongmin hummed, looking down at the recipe card in his hands. “When I was younger, yes,” he said, setting the card down and moving towards the refrigerator. He came back with several bowls of ingredients, carefully covered with clingfilm, and placed them on the counter.
Bin was close enough to reach over and pick up one of the bowls. “What are these?” he asked.
“Pine nuts,” Dongmin answered immediately. And then he set about cooking, starting a pot of chicken broth on his cooktop, and then using it to make rice. While the rice cooked, he mixed together two different kinds of cheeses. He batted Bin’s hand away when he tried to reach across the counter and steal a bit, and hadn’t been at all affected by his pout, much to Bin’s dismay. Instead, he only smiled, reaching over and ruffling Bin’s hair affectionately.
Bin huffed a bit, leaning on the counter with his elbows. “If pouting doesn’t affect you, I’m not sure this relationship can continue,” he mumbled, and the answering laugh was another one that he tucked into his memory for a rainy day.
For the next hour or so, he watched as Dongmin chopped vegetables and meat, combined it with the rice, and shaped the rice into balls. The cheese mixture was pressed into the center of each ball, and then they were coated with egg and breadcrumbs and carefully dropped into a pot of oil to fry.
The smell was amazing, and each one Dongmin carefully scooped out was a perfect golden brown. They were quite large, nearly the size of a fist, and Bin’s mouth had been watering for ages by the time Dongmin said it was ready to eat.
Bin scrambled up to help carry plates and utensils to the table, then hurried back for the plate with the food on it. The smell that wafted up to him as he moved was incredible. “What are these called?” he asked, settling down in a chair.
“Arancini,” Dongmin said, trailing after him with a bottle of wine in one hand and two wine glasses, held by the stems, in the other. Bin waited patiently as he opened and poured wine for each of them, and then picked up an arancini and put it on the plate for each of them. He then looked at Bin expectantly, resting his elbows on the table as he folded his hands and rested his chin on them.
If the smell was anything to go by, there was no way Bin wasn’t going to like the arancini. So he cut it in half, almost groaned at the melty cheese that started to pull out as he pulled the knife through it. There was a moment of internal struggle before Bin decided that they'd been on enough dates to forgo a fork, and simply picked a half up with his hands.
When he took a bite, Bin was unable to contain his moan this time. “Oh my god,” he said around the mouthful of food. Dongmin made a delighted noise, but Bin hardly noticed it as he took another huge bite.
Apparently satisfied with his reaction, Dongmin cut his own arancini in half and, like Bin, picked it up with his fingers to eat. Between the two of them, the food was rapidly demolished. After a few minutes of simply sitting at the table, relishing in his full stomach, Bin stood and started picking up the dirty dishes, carefully stacking them. As he passed behind Dongmin’s chair he reached out and squeezed his shoulder, then continued on his way to the sink.
“This is so nice,” Dongmin sighed. Bin looked over from the kitchen and was struck again with Dongmin’s beauty. He was lounging in his chair, wine glass held in the air as he swirled the small amount that was left around. Bin loved looking at his profile, but loved it more when Dongmin turned his head and smiled in his direction. “Making food for my boyfriend and then letting him clean up.”
Bin’s heart seized, and if he hadn’t already put the plates down in the sink they probably would have ended up broken with the way his hands jerked. The way Dongmin’s eyes twinkled and turned to crescents as he smiled told Bin that the phrase had not been a simple stray thought.
Face hot at having been affected so easily, Bin turned on the faucet and picked up the sponge on the edge of the sink. “I can clean, but I don’t know where any of your stuff goes,” he said. “Better come help, or I might just stick everything in the refrigerator out of spite.”
Dongmin laughed again, and Bin’s heart warmed as he thought about the ease with which Dongmin seemed to laugh around him. There were a few moments before Dongmin finally made his way into the kitchen, thought once he did he was rather unhelpful, plastering himself on Bin’s back as he tried to wash dishes.
Bin was extremely thankful that the number of dishes was relatively few, especially when Dongmin started carding his fingers through the hair around the nape of his neck. Bin shuddered as he did it, and knew that Dongmin had undoubtedly felt it with the way he was pressed up against him. One of the pots almost slipped out of his hands when Dongmin started leaving light kisses on his shoulder, traveling up his neck and along his ear until Dongmin’s nose was in his hair.
“Unfair,” he said, and tried to pretend it wasn’t the slightest bit breathy as he rinsed the last dish and set it in the drying rack next to the sink.
The smile Dongmin was wearing when Bin finally turned around was lazy and pleased- he knew exactly what he had been doing and didn’t seem to be the least bit apologetic about it. It did mean, though, that he went easily when Bin turned them around so Dongmin was the one against the counter instead.
Dongmin tasted like the wine they had with dinner. It was a heady flavor, and Bin chased it, his hands resting on Dongmin’s sides and thumbs rubbing gently where they were.
After Bin felt he’d gotten his revenge (though it was hardly a revenge if Dongmin seemed so happy to receive it) the kissing gave way to simply standing in the kitchen together. Dongmin was still leaning against the counter, but his arms were wrapped loosely around Bin’s waist. Bin had buried his face into the crook of Dongmin’s neck, relishing the warm smell that was undeniably Dongmin.
“I want another tattoo,” Dongmin said, after they’d been standing in silence for a long while.
“Mm?” was Bin’s response. The wine had made him sleepy, and Dongmin was warm and comfortable.
“Did you hear me?” Dongmin poked Bin in the side, making him jump a bit and shriek.
“Yes- yes, stop that! Tattoo. You want another one.” Dongmin grinned at him gleefully, and Bin stuck his tongue out in response. That didn’t stop him letting Dongmin pull him into the living room, where he settled into the couch while Dongmin rifled through one of the neat piles of notebooks. He came to the couch with what looked to be a sketchbook- and Bin was proven right when Dongmin flipped it open and he was greeted with colorful flowers.
“Honeysuckle,” Dongmin said. Bin pressed up against his side to get a better look, and Dongmin seemed unthinking as he lifted his arm to allow Bin closer.
“What’s this one mean?” Bin asked, unashamedly leaning most of his weight onto the other man. Onto his boyfriend , his mind helpfully supplied, and Bin felt his cheeks flush with happiness at the thought.
Dongmin traced the outline of the small yellow and pink buds with his finger. “Happiness,” he said.
Bin’s heart felt warm as he grinned, settling into Dongmin’s side more comfortably. Happy was a good way to describe him at that moment.
The next morning Bin had woken up on Dongmin’s couch, a blanket thrown over him. Morning sunshine had been streaming through the window in the living room, and Bin had managed to shuffle to the kitchen after lying on the couch for a few minutes more. There had been a pot of coffee waiting for him, and the sketchbook from the night before with a sticky note stuck to it was sitting next to the pot.
Good morning (or afternoon, depending on when you wake up)~
Don’t feel like you have to rush out. I had to go work, they called me for a meeting.
Take the sketchbook with you! I want some options on the honeysuckle design. I’ll text you later <3
The coffee had been excellent, and Bin had taped the sticky note on the inside cover of his own sketchbook.
A couple days later Dongmin had gotten away from work early and come to the shop so that Bin could add the honeysuckle to the small garden he was slowly cultivating on his shoulder. About halfway through the tattoo, Jinwoo had wandered into the room, taking up residence at the small table in the corner with his sketchbook and markers.
“Wow,” Dongmin said, admiring the blooms Bin had just finished coloring in the mirror. He was able to see some of them without the aid of the second mirror, the flowers creeping over his shoulder and just barely onto his collarbone.
“They look great,” Bin said, standing up and stretching before ejecting the needle out of the tattoo gun and tossing it in the biohazard box mounted on the wall before pulling off his gloves.
When he turned back around, Jinwoo had already moved and held up the small mirror for Dongmin to be able to see the rest of the design on his back. “Ah, all of yours are so nice,” Jinwoo said. “Especially the pink one.”
“It’s a dahlia,” Dongmin said, smiling. Bin rolled his eyes, then started pulling and applying plastic covering to the fresh tattoo.
Jinwoo was still looking at the small garden on Dongmin’s back. “When are you going to get your dumb tattoo? Everyone gets one eventually.” Dongmin laughed, and Bin let a small smile pull at the corner of his mouth as he taped down the plastic. This was his favorite parts of their appointments, when he got to smooth down the plastic over the artwork he’d just created on Dongmin’s soft skin. It was a little piece of him, tucked into Dongmin forever.
“Please,” he said, finally stepping back. “Not everyone has a stupid tattoo, hyung. Dongmin’s too smart to do something like English words he doesn’t know.”
The unamused look Jinwoo gave him was enough to have Bin snickering. “I know what mine mean,” he said flatly.
“Still English words,” Bin said, and ran around the bench to hide behind Dongmin (who was smiling as he observed their bickering) when Jinwoo raised an arm to bat at him.
Jinwoo gave Bin another annoyed look, then said to Dongmin, “Don’t let Binnie fool you, he’s got an embarrassing tattoo.”
Bin frowned. “My pokeball is not embarrassing,” he said.
“You have a pokeball tattoo?” Dongmin asked, disbelief evident in his voice. Bin nodded. “You didn’t have one when we chose the place for the snapdragon.”
“Got it last week,” Bin said, then shrugged off his sweatshirt and let Dongmin see the inside of his arm, where the pokeball had been added to his first tattoo, using the black band as the line that when through the middle of the ball. To a casual observer, it simply looked like a circle with the bottom half colored red, which was Bin’s favorite thing about it.
“That’s not the one I’m talking about, idiot,” Jinwoo said. He flicked his eyes towards Bin’s butt, and Bin immediately knew which one he was actually talking about.
Bin shot upright, and hand automatically reaching back to cover the tattoo that was already hidden by his pants. “We agreed not to talk about that one,” Bin hissed. The tattoo Jinwoo was referencing had been a drunken decision egged on by his little sister, and Dongmin absolutely did not need to know about it.
Unfortunately, Dongmin seemed quite curious. “What is it?” he asked, leaning back a bit as if to try and see the tattoo through Bin’s hand and pants.
“Nothing!” Bin insisted shrilly, twisting away so that his back half was not in Dongmin’s field of vision. Dongmin only grinned at him, and Bin wanted to die a little inside, especially when Jinwoo forged on, ignoring him completely.
“He’s got the moon tattooed on his ass. Because his name sounds like ‘moon’ in English,” Jinwoo said.
There was a moment of silence, in which Bin was shocked that Jinwoo would really betray his trust like this in front of Dongmin , and in which Dongmin processed what he had just heard. Then, at the same time, Bin let out an indignant shriek and Dongmin’s head tipped back as he laughed, loud and hard.
Bin flopped forward onto the bench, burying his hot face in his arms. “This is a personal attack,” he said loudly, muffled slightly by the padding on the bench. Salt was rubbed in his wounded pride when Jinwoo started cooing at him.
Dongmin was still laughing, and Bin picked his head up to glare at him. It took another minute for him to finally calm down, a grin still stretched wide across his face. “That’s a tattoo I wouldn’t mind seeing,” he said, and another moment of silence fell while Bin tried to parse out exactly what that meant because oh my god the tattoo is on my ass - and then Dongmin winked, and Bin’s face was suddenly incredibly hot and Jinwoo was yelling in his ear.
so in case you never watched episode three of my romanic some recipe that eunwoo was in, here's the wikipedia page about arancini and here's the recipe i used for my vague attempt at describing the process of making it lol
if you're curious about the timeline of the story, it's about mid-april in their world, and dongmin got his first tattoo around november-ish
anyway i'm a mess and this note doesn't make sense but come talk to me on tumblr if you want to scream or anything
Chapter 6: watercolor
“Oh Heejun?” he repeated. “Kinda tall, brown hair? Probably had it in a middle part?”
Bin nodded. “Why?”
Dongmin smiled. “He’s the one that recommended your shop to me.”
“I should take him out to dinner, then,” Bin said. “I certainly owe him if he’s the reason you walked into our shop.”
Dongmin settled into Bin’s life like he had never existed as anything but Bin’s boyfriend. They saw each other at least twice a week, oftentimes more. When they did not have time to physically be together, they were constantly texting.
Bin was over at Dongmin’s apartment one Saturday afternoon, simply relaxing. He was laid out on the couch, his feet in Dongmin’s lap. Dongmin had one hand on Bin’s shin, stroking every so often while he watched the drama playing on the television and Bin played on his phone. It was comfortable and domestic, and Bin had decided that he could very happily stay in that position for the rest of his life.
Unfortunately, life could never be so simple, and Dongmin’s phone started ringing. Bin poked his head up to see Dongmin fumbling to get his phone out of his pocket without disturbing Bin’s feet. When Dongmin frowned at the phone, Bin hissed in sympathy. “Work?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Dongmin sighed. “Let me up, I need to see what they want.” Begrudgingly Bin lifted his legs and let him up off the couch. Dongmin disappeared down the hallway off the living room, undoubtedly going to his bedroom to take the call.
Bin lounged on the couch, alternating between playing a game on his phone and half-watching the drama that Dongmin had left playing. He was vaguely hungry, and entertained himself for a few minutes debating the pros and cons of getting up off the comfortable couch to search for something in Dongmin’s kitchen.
Just as he had decided that yes, getting up was worth the food he would find, Dongmin walked back into the living room, holding his phone in one hand and a mildly shocked expression.
Bin sat up, immediately concerned. “Is everything alright?” he asked. “Did something happen?”
“I’m fine,” Dongmin said, shaking his head. He was still standing just past the doorway to the hall, and Bin wasn’t entirely convinced he would move again. “We got a big case.”
There was a pregnant pause in which Bin waited for him to continue, and Dongmin still seemed to be processing the call he’d just hung up. “And?” Bin asked gently.
Dongmin looked at him for the first time since he’d walked back in, eyes wide. “They want me to take the lead on it,” he said.
For a moment, Bin was quiet, a slow smile spreading over his face. Then he got up off the couch and crossed the room, stopping in front of Dongmin. Gently, he took the phone that Dongmin still was holding up in the air, sticking it in his back pocket and then raising his hands to cup Dongmin’s face. “That’s amazing,” he said, and then Dongmin finally started smiling, and then surged forward and kissed Bin hard on the mouth.
When he drew back, his smile was giddy. “They want me to take the lead on it,” he repeated, and then laughed out of happiness.
Bin was helpless but to smile as Dongmin all but bounced in front of him. He knew Dongmin was an excellent lawyer, because Dongmin was excellent at everything he did. However, he was also young, and at a large firm with many older, much more experienced lawyers. Being asked to take the lead on a huge case was a huge step.
Unable to resist a happy, giggling Dongmin, Bin kissed him again. “You’re amazing, and you’re going to do amazing work,” he said. Dongmin was flushed and smiling, whether from the kissing or from the excitement, Bin wasn’t quite sure (though it was probably a combination of both). “Let’s go get something to eat. I’ll pay.”
Despite his giddy grin, Dongmin still managed to roll his eyes. “Is there anything in the world that can distract you from food?”
Bin smiled again, and this time pressed a kiss into his cheek. “Very few things, but you’re one of them.” That time, Bin knew the blush was from his words.
The tattoo parlor was busy. It had never been quiet, per say, but Bin knew that he sat behind the desk a lot more half a year ago than he did now.
A busier tattoo parlor was not a bad thing- it meant that both Bin and Jinwoo had bigger client lists, and that they were in demand. Being in demand was a good thing, because it meant that people thought your art was good, your shop and instruments clean, and your price fair. Having a bigger client list was a very good thing, because the more clients you had, the bigger your paycheck tended to be.
That being said, having more clients meant you had a lot less time for walk-ins. Because Jinwoo was a bleeding heart, he had always tried to squeeze in as many walk-ins as he could. Bin, back when he was still Jinwoo’s apprentice, had done most of them. Now though, with both of them being full artists with rapidly growing lists of clients, neither of them had much time for walk-ins.
On a Friday night a couple days after Dongmin had gotten assigned to his case, Jinwoo turned off the neon open sign in the window and flipped the lock on the front door while Bin lowered all the blinds. After that, Bin cleaned the lobby, sweeping and dusting the furniture while Jinwoo emptied biohazard bins and wiped down benches. When the shop was finally clean, they collapsed together onto the couch in the lobby.
Silent for a while, Jinwoo turned his head to look at Bin. “We need to hire more artists,” he said, and Bin nodded in agreement.
They began putting out ads and feelers. Jinwoo was picky about the people he wanted in this shop- part of the reason the shop was so successful was because of the way he and Bin got along. Bin wasn’t going to complain- he’d rather have a couple more weeks of heavy workloads than Jinwoo hire someone that didn’t fit in with them.
About two weeks into the search, they had found one man that Bin was very much a fan of. His portfolio was beautiful, full of intricate linework and lots of watercolor colorings- a skill Bin had always wanted to develop but never quite mastered. Named Oh Heejun, the man also seemed like he’d fit right in with Jinwoo and Bin- he kind of reminded Bin of Myungjun, loud and bubbly, with a bright laugh that sounded easily in the shop. By the time Heejun left the shop, Bin had been grinning the entire afternoon and Jinwoo was still clutching his sides from laughing.
“I like him,” Bin said, leaning on the counter.
Jinwoo nodded. “I’m going to call him tomorrow and offer him a spot,” he said, dropping down into a chair and pulling a pad of sticky notes towards him.
Bin nodded and grinned, and about an hour later they closed the shop for the night and headed their separate ways. Bin had gotten a text from Dongmin requesting he pick up something for dinner and come to his apartment, so he ducked into a restaurant and picked up an array of side dishes, deciding that he’d make some rice once he got to Dongmin’s apartment.
A short walk later, he was knocking on Dongmin’s door. He tapped his foot impatiently while he waited- it’d been nearly a week since he’d seen Dongmin in person, and Bin was eager to enjoy a meal with him again.
“Dongmiiiiiin,” he called, knocking on the door again.
There was some muffled movement from inside the apartment, and then the door was finally pulled open. “Sorry,” Dongmin gasped. “I didn’t hear you. Is that dinner?” Bin stared openly, his slight annoyance forgotten as Dongmin reached out and took the bag of side dishes from his hand. He exclaimed in delight when he found the fish cakes, and looked up with a smile. When he saw Bin’s slack-jawed expression, though, the happiness fell off of his face. “What?” Dongmin asked, concern evident in his voice. “Is everything alright?”
Bin stared a little more. “You’re wearing glasses,” he said finally, reaching out and thumbing the corner of the frames.
Dongmin’s face did a funny little thing, like he couldn’t decide if embarrassment or annoyance was going to win out. “Oh my god,” he said, and then grabbed Bin by the arm and pulled him inside, letting the door fall shut behind him. He then turned and headed straight towards the kitchen.
Grinning, Bin toed out of his shoes before he padded after Dongmin. “Don’t run away from me,” he cooed, wrapping his arms around Dongmin’s waist from behind. “I like your glasses, Dongminnie.”
Even though he couldn’t see his face, Bin could perfectly envision the way Dongmin rolled his eyes. “Let me go,” he whined half-heartedly.
Bin tightened his arms around Dongmin’s waist. “Never,” he said with a grin. He got another groan in response, and Bin grinned wider before he pressed a kiss to the back of Dongmin’s neck and finally let him go. “I need to make some rice to go with the sides, but you can go ahead and start if you want.”
“I’ll wait,” Dongmin said, leaning on the counter. “I need to clear off the table, anyway.”
For the first time, Bin looked over at the dining table and was surprised that he had managed to overlook it before. The table was covered in folders and paper. A couple of glasses and a coffee mug were mixed into the fray, and Dongmin’s laptop was placed precariously amid the chaos, still on and running.
Bin let out a whistle. “Is that all for work?” he asked, crossing the kitchen and pulling Dongmin’s rice out of the cabinet.
Weariness crept into Dongmin’s expression as he looked at the mess. “Yeah,” he said. “There’s a lot of material to read for the case.” He still hadn’t moved from where he was leaning on the counter.
With a click, the rice maker was started. Bin walked back to stand opposite Dongmin, the counter between them. Dongmin looked tired- he’d taken off his glasses, and had red marks from where they must have been sitting on his nose for several long hours. The messy piles that littered the table were definitely not his norm. Bin felt a pang in his heart, and wondered if all big cases had that much reading and paperwork.
“Why don’t we eat in the living room?” he suggested. “We could use the coffee table instead.”
The look Dongmin gave him was so thankful, Bin wondered exactly how stressed he was. Twenty minutes later they were settling on the floor of the living room, the side dishes and rice spread out over the coffee table. They sat on opposite sides, their legs tangling together gently underneath the table as they ate and chatted.
“We’re hiring a new artist at the shop,” Bin said around a large mouthful of rice. Dongmin made a hum of acknowledgement, and he continued. “Oh Heejun. He does really nice watercolor tattoos.”
Dongmin’s head all but snapped up. “Oh Heejun?” he repeated. “Kinda tall, brown hair? Probably had it in a middle part?”
Bin nodded, wondering where this was going, especially when Dongmin’s head tipped back and he laughed. “Why?” he asked, nabbing some beans with his chopsticks.
Smiling, Dongmin picked up another fish cake. “He’s the one that recommended your shop to me,” he said. “We went to college together, he was a year ahead of me. When I decided to get the snapdragon I asked him where he’d recommend because I knew he did them.” Shaking his head, Dongmin bit into the fishcake and quickly followed it with a scoop of rice.
Bin swallowed his beans. “I should take him out to dinner, then,” he said. “I certainly owe him if he’s the reason you walked into our shop.”
They shared a smile, then continued eating.
In addition to Oh Heejun, Jinwoo decided to hire a man named Kim Youjin, a fellow friend and artist of Heejun’s who did clean, pretty tattoos and could do them quickly. He was quiet but kind, a reassuring presence that did wonders for nervous people getting their first tattoos. Bin liked him immediately upon meeting him, and liked him even more when he took over most of the walk-ins.
Hiring new artists had meant that they’d had to rearrange the shop to make room for them- a portion of the lobby had been sectioned off with some heavy curtains hung from the ceiling, and a room that had been left mostly untouched for the five years Jinwoo had owned the shop had been cleaned out and repurposed. Instead of a supply closet and a back room, they now had a room where all of their ink and needles were stored, with a small couch shoved in for when someone needed to work on sketches. Jinwoo joked that if they got much more popular he’d have to buy a new shop or start turning people away.
They all got along well, though, and the relatively small space wasn’t a major hinderance to their work. In fact, Heejun and Youjin had brought their own small sets of clients, and the shop stayed busy.
One day, just a week or so after Heejun was hired, Youjin poked his head into Bin’s room while he was working on a humming bird on a middle-aged woman’s shoulder. “Excuse me, Bin,” he had said, and then waited for Bin to pause and look up before continuing. “A man named Dongmin came in and asked for you,” he said.
Bin’s heart jumped in excitement. Dongmin had been extremely busy with work, and he’d not seen him since they had dinner on his living room floor the week prior. “Okay,” he said. “Tell him I’m almost done, he can go to the back room if he wants.” Youjin nodded and then disappeared again, and Bin turned back to the woman. “What were you saying about your daughter?” he asked as he started the tattoo gun back up.
Fifteen minutes and a long story about the woman’s daughter going to America to study abroad, Bin hurriedly cleaned up his room and ducked down the hall to the back room. He opened the door to the back room and saw Dongmin’s back, dressed in one of his usual suits for work. “Hey babe,” he said, smiling and letting the door fall shut behind him. Dongmin turned around, and Bin felt the smile drop off of his face. “What’s wrong?” he asked immediately. Dongmin’s face was pinched and flushed, caught somewhere between distraught and angry.
Instead of answering, Dongmin all but pitched forward, burying his face into Bin’s neck. Bin immediately lifted his arms, holding him tightly.
For a long while, they simply stood there. Dongmin had been shaking slightly when he’d first fallen into Bin’s arms, and the tremors slowly died away the longer Bin held him, one hand coming up to slowly rub Dongmin’s back. After what seemed like an eternity, Dongmin turned his head so that his face was no longer pressed into Bin’s neck. “I hate my job, Binnie,” he whispered.
Bin’s heart thumped in his chest. He didn’t know how he could help, so instead he just kept rubbing Dongmin’s back, offering comfort the best he could.
fun fact: i have no idea how lawyer-ing and law firms work so like dongmin’s job stuff may or may not be accurate lmao. i also don't know how tattoo shops really work, so the business of hiring artists is completely out of my own head as well
this chapter was originally supposed to be the pickup for some heavier plot but domesticity just kind of happened instead with the little bit tagged on at the end so that it can pull us into the next arc. this one's bit shorter because of that, and i apologize for it
come hmu on tumblr and talk about watercolor tattoos with me bc those things are cool af
Chapter 7: bracelet
“Do you need to go back to the office?” Bin asked eventually.
A sigh. “Probably.” A pause. Then, quieter, “I don’t want to.”
Bin had never been so thankful for a lack of appointments as he was that afternoon. After they’d stood in the back room for longer than he could keep track of, Bin had led Dongmin back out to the lobby. After ducking into Jinwoo’s room and quietly telling him that he was leaving, Bin led Dongmin out of the shop and into the streets.
The way Dongmin followed blindly was unsettling. Usually, he was the one leading Bin to some unknown destination, or actively following along. Now, though, he clung to Bin’s hand tightly, a step behind him as Bin led them to the cafe where they had their second date.
Bin returned to the table he’d sat Dongmin at, two cups of tea in hand. Dongmin accepted the tea, murmuring a thank you.
They sat in silence for a while. Bin desperately wanted to ask why Dongmin had come to the shop so upset, but restrained himself, taking a gulp of hot tea and gasping in reaction to the temperature.
Dongmin huffed a laugh, looking up at Bin for the first time since he’d first flung himself into Bin’s arms. Bin smiled despite his burning tongue, and Dongmin returned it before dropping his gaze again.
He played with the to-go cup of tea, picking at the cardboard sleeve. “Sorry about that,” he said finally. “I didn’t mean to worry you.”
Bin shrugged, smiling softly. “Part of being a boyfriend, isn’t it? Emotional support, and all.” He held a hand out over the table, which Dongmin took after a moment of hesitation.
They sat there wordlessly again for a few minutes. Bin rubbed the back of Dongmin’s hand with his thumb, hoping he was offering comfort well enough despite not knowing the situation.
“Do you need to go back to the office?” Bin asked eventually.
A sigh. “Probably.” A pause. Then, quieter, “I don’t want to.”
Bin took another gulp of tea, then stood. He hadn’t let go of Dongmin’s hand, and the other man looked up in alarm as his arm was pulled up into the air. “Not to be a bad influence or anything,” Bin said, tugging on Dongmin’s hand until he stood up, then whirling them out of the cafe. “But I’ve made the executive decision to help you ditch work today.”
That, at least, made Dongmin smile a bit more. So they spent the afternoon wandering Seoul, eating food from street carts and ducking into stores. Bin found a braided bracelet that he liked, and insisted on buying two to make a couple set for him and Dongmin (his was dull red, Dongmin’s was navy). During the entire excursion, Dongmin was reserved. He seemed tired, so it wasn’t too late in the evening when Bin led them back to Dongmin’s apartment.
He’d intended to simply drop Dongmin off, step inside for a moment to say goodnight, and then head back to his own home. When they entered the apartment, Bin had held the door open and let Dongmin through, then followed and watched as Dongmin carefully took off his shiny work shoes and stowed them away. Bin was smiling, ready to hug Dongmin and say goodnight.
But then, Dongmin lifted his head. Bin watched as his eyes fell on his dining table, still buried in legal documents and research. He watched as dread settled over Dongmin’s face, and then as Dongmin turned to look at him.
It didn’t take any convincing at all for Bin to agree. Dongmin disappeared to his bedroom to change into sleep clothes, and Bin lingered in the living room for a couple minutes to give him the privacy to do so. When he figured it had been long enough that he wouldn’t walk in on Dongmin more than shirtless, he walked down the hall and poked his head into the room.
Sure enough, Dongmin was changed, and had already tucked himself into bed. Bin crossed the room and stood next to him, where Dongmin was curled up on his side. “Is it alright if I shower?” Bin asked, reaching out and carding his fingers through Dongmin’s hair.
A nod. “I got some pyjamas out for you.” Bin thanked Dongmin quietly, pressing a kiss to his temple and scooping the pyjamas up from the end of the bed as he ducked out of the room.
As he showered, Bin pondered the situation. He’d spent the night at Dongmin’s before, usually because he fell asleep on the couch and Dongmin didn’t have the heart to wake him up and make him go home. A couple times, they’d even ended up sleeping on the couch together. Bin had woken up with Dongmin lying on his chest, snoring lightly with a bit of dry drool in the corner of his mouth, and his heart had possibly doubled in size that day.
They hadn’t shared a bed before, though. Quite honestly, this wasn’t the way Bin had imagined that first going, but Dongmin obviously wanted him there. So Bin was going to be there.
With that thought, Bin turned the water off and stepped out of the shower, grabbing a towel from the rack on the wall and running it through his hair. With the water shut off, the sounds of the apartment started to filter back through- the hum of the air conditioner, the soft buzz of the electric lights. After a few moments, though, Bin noticed a sound that did not belong.
He noticed what sounded like someone knocking on the door- quite insistently, and with increasing volume. And if Bin was noticing it, that meant that Dongmin had not gotten up to answer the door, which meant that Dongmin had fallen asleep, and that this person was now in danger of waking Dongmin up.
Whispering curses, Bin tied the towel around his waist and darted out of the bathroom, rushing to the front door and cussing fervently when he almost slipped with his wet feet. He managed to get to the front door without dying though, and ripped it open with a gusto, snapping, “What is it?”
The man standing on the other side of the door was frozen with shock, one hand still raised to knock. “Um,” the man said, and Bin regarded him coolly through the doorway. He was tall, taller than Dongmin, even, but his face was still young. Bin thought that he probably could have passed for a high schooler if he were to put on a uniform.
Leaning against the doorframe, Bin crossed his arms over his chest. This had the double reward of making his biceps stand out intimidatingly and also partially covered his bird tattoo, which the young man had been staring at. “How can I help you at-” Bin leaned back to glance at the clock hanging in the kitchen. “-Ten thirty in the evening?”
“Oh,” the man said, and fumbled to reach into his bag. “Um. I’m Yoon Sanha. This is- this is Lee Dongmin’s apartment, right?”
“It is,” Bin said.
Yoon Sanha seemed even more flustered. “Right. Okay. Um. Are you Moon Bin?”
If he wasn’t so focussed on looking intimidating, the fact that this Yoon Sanha knew who he was probably would have made Bin react with visible shock. (Did Dongmin talk about him? Did his coworkers know that Dongmin had a boyfriend? How much did he get mentioned that Yoon Sanha knew his name, and what had been said that caused him to assume that a naked man covered only with a towel answering Dongmin’s door was, in fact, Moon Bin?) Instead, he said, “I am.”
Yoon Sanha managed to pull several thick file folders out of his bag, which he extended to Bin. “Can you please make sure Mr. Lee gets these? They’re for a case he’s working on-”
Bin grabbed the files, probably a little more roughly than was strictly necessary. “Can do,” he said, and Yoon Sanha gulped.
“Right,” he said. “I’m just going to- I’m leaving.” Halfway through bolting from the door, Yoon Sanha remembered his manners, and tried to pause in his quick escape to bow. It was a mess of limbs, and Bin watched with private amusement until the young man had disappeared into the elevator.
Shaking his head, Bin stepped away from the door, letting it fall shut as he walked towards the kitchen to add the new folders to Dongmin’s growing towers on the dining table.
A tower that, apparently, couldn’t take another folder. Bin yelped as he darted back to the table, and managed to catch the folder before it could fall to the floor and spill its contents everywhere. In his heroic lunge, though, Bin managed to fumble into the keyboard of Dongmin’s laptop, making it whirl to life.
Bin knew he should not look at Dongmin’s personal emails. It was a breach of privacy, especially stuff about work- but, he hadn’t meant to turn Dongmin’s laptop back on, and he certainly hadn’t expected for the screen to light up and be open on an email with the subject line “URGENT.”
If Bin had been a better person, he would have stopped reading. However, Bin was a curious person, and he wanted to know if the email could tell him anything about why Dongmin had suddenly shown up at the shop and pitched into Bin’s arms. So, without scrolling or doing anything more to disturb the laptop, Bin crouched down and read.
I am concerned about our most recent client, OTB Industries. The more I research and read about the charges brought forth to them, the more it becomes clear to me that their intended plea of innocent is not, in fact, the case. Their instruments and products have caused numerous deaths and severe complications in nearly all those that have used them. Additionally, I have come across multiple documents that indicate that OTB had knowledge that their equipment would cause these complications, and that the possibility of death of the patients treated with their products was high, even probable. Despite this, they sold their products and allowed them to be used by doctors and surgeons in major hospitals.
I seek guidance on how to to proceed with my investigation, and how we can continue to defend a company so solidly in the wrong. I have reached out to OTB, and they have stated that they will not change their plea.
Please respond at your convenience.
The further he read, the more Bin felt sick to his stomach. If Dongmin was having to defend a company that caused the death of innocent people who thought they were going to get better with their treatment, it was no wonder he was so upset.
That in and of itself was enough to make anyone upset. Then, though, Bin noticed the reply from the senior lawyer at Dongmin’s firm.
We fulfill what our clients ask of us. Our firm does not lose cases. Find a way to make it happen. If you cannot, perhaps your future with us will need to be re-evaluated.
Bin stayed crouched in front of the table until the laptop screen went dark in front of him, and even after that for a few moments more. Then, he got up and walked back to the bathroom, where he put on the pyjamas Dongmin had loaned him.
When he went to Dongmin’s bedroom, the lights were off, and Dongmin was curled up on his side. Bin walked around to the other side of the bed, lifting up the covers and crawling in. He longed to plaster himself up against Dongmin’s back and simply hold him, but refrained, lying on his back and staring up at the ceiling. If Dongmin was sleeping, he didn’t want to wake him up.
It was still for a few moments, but after a short while, Dongmin rolled over and pressed himself into Bin’s side, tucking his face into Bin’s shoulder. “I thought you were sleeping.”
“Trying to,” Dongmin said, then shifted a bit more as he got more comfortable.
Bin wiggled a bit, getting a arm under Dongmin so that he could wrap it around him and pull him close.When they were finally comfortable, Dongmin was half sprawled on Bin, but the content sigh he gave seemed to say he didn’t mind. Neither did Bin, as he tried to distract himself from the thoughts of the email he’d just read by counting how many beats of Dongmin’s heart he could feel.
He wasn’t sure how much time passed where they simply laid there, breathing in tandem. After a long time, Dongmin sighed. “I’m a terrible person,” he whispered, and there was so much loathing and sadness in his voice that Bin could do nothing but press his lips into Dongmin’s scalp and hug him to his chest tighter. He tried to convey with his body that no , Dongmin wasn’t terrible, the company he was defending and his law firm were the terrible ones- but he couldn’t exactly say that, not when he wasn’t supposed to have seen the email.
Together, they fell asleep like that, Dongmin shaking slightly and Bin rubbing his back once more, murmuring the best comforting words he could think of.
When Bin woke up, it was to an empty bed. Morning light was streaming through the window, making the room light and warm. That didn’t make up for the lack of Dongmin, though, and Bin shuffled out of the bedroom.
Dongmin was sitting on the couch, papers and folders spread on the coffee table and the arm of the couch next to him. He looked up when Bin padded into the living room, and smiled fondly at him. “You have terrible bedhead,” he said. “There’s coffee in the kitchen.”
Before he went that way, Bin moved behind the couch, draping himself over Dongmin’s shoulders so that his arms hung over his chest. Dongmin was wearing a loose tank top, falling to the side enough that one of the honeysuckle buds Bin had tattooed onto his collar bone was visible. With a rumble of approval, Bin ducked down and pressed a kiss to the flower, then straightened up and continued to the kitchen.
He returned a minute later, coffee mug in hand, and settled on the other side of the couch. It was small enough that he was able to wiggle his toes under Dongmin’s butt, who merely swatted his knee with the folder in hand.
They sat in comfortable silence for a moment. After half his coffee, Bin decided that he was awake enough that he had to ask. “Are you reading for your case?”
The sigh that Dongmin gave in response was weary and tired, and the arm holding the file up immediately dropped into his lap. “They’re terrible people, Binnie,” he said. “Terrible, awful people, that caused the death of innocent people. And I have to defend them when they deserve any punishment that comes their way, or I’ll lose my job.”
Bin untucked his toes from under Dongmin’s leg and shuffled so that he was next to him instead. His coffee cup got deposited on the table, and then he pulled Dongmin into him. “That’s not your fault,” he said. “It’s not your fault, Dongminnie.”
“I shouldn’t be defending them,” Dongmin said, his voice muffled by Bin’s neck. “They deserve to rot in hell.”
“I know,” Bin said. “I know.” He couldn’t think of anything else to say in response.
Chapter 8: gladioli
“Hyung, wait--where are you going?”
“Gyeongju,” Bin said gleefully.
“Gyeongju? ” Yoon Sanha repeated, and it was almost a screech.
“Gyeongju,” Dongmin confirmed, swinging his jacket over his shoulders.
“How,” Bin started. “Do you help someone relax?”
Minhyuk hummed. He was lying on the floor of Bin’s apartment, throwing a baseball in the air. “Depends on who it is. For example, if you wanted to help me, your poor, tired friend relax, you could take me out for barbeque.”
With a snort, Bin let his eyes fall closed. “As if.” The sound of the ball hitting Minhyuk’s hands filled the apartment for a moment, a rhythmic smack of cowhide on flesh. “I want to help Dongmin,” he said, shifting a bit so that he was settled more comfortably on the couch. “The case he’s working on has him really stressed out.”
“Uh, there’s a really easy and cheap way to do that,” Minhyuk said. “It’s called sex.”
Bin flung a pillow at him, causing a shout and the disruption of the one-player game of catch. “Something thoughtful, you idiot.”
Minhyuk opened his mouth again, and Bin immediately amended his statement with, “That doesn’t involve sex, thanks.” He got an eyeroll, and then Minhyuk flopped back onto the ground.
The baseball resumed being thrown. Bin rolled his head and watched as it went up in the air and back down to Minhyuk’s hands.
“What about flowers?” Minhyuk suggested eventually.
“He knows too much about them. I’d get something that means something wrong.”
“Take him out for barbeque.”
“Take all of us out for barbeque.”
“Sorry, you’re not all my boyfriend.” Minhyuk groaned, and Bin grinned. “Stop trying to get free food out of me.”
Minhyuk shook his head. “What happened to all the ramen you used to buy me?” Bin rolled his eyes, playing with the bracelet on his wrist while Minhyuk continued to bemoan the lack of barbeque.
Suddenly, he had an idea. With a gasp, he sat up on the couch. “I know what I should do,” he said.
Still throwing the ball in the air, Minhyuk didn’t seem near as excited as Bin was. “Look, if you’re about to describe how you’re gonna-”
“For the love of god, if you start talking about sex again I’m not letting you in my apartment the next time your roommate has his girlfriend over,” Bin said, wishing he had another pillow to throw at his friend.
That seemed to shut him up nicely. “Fine,” Minhyuk said hastily, rolling up so that he was facing Bin. “What is it?”
Bin clasped his hands together, resting them under his chin. “What if I took him on a vacation? Like to Jeju, or something.”
Minhyuk was silent for a moment, but then nodded slowly. “Is he gonna be able to go on a trip?” he asked. “Like, will he actually have the time to leave town?”
Ah. Well, Bin hadn’t thought of that. “Not sure,” he said, digging his phone out of his pocket and opening the internet. Dongmin liked plans- if he had his idea all sketched out, with specifics and ideas, he probably had a higher chance of getting a yes. With Minhyuk’s help, he planned a three day trip to Gyeongju, a historic city in the south that he’d been to once in elementary school. Dongmin had probably before as well before, but Bin had forged ahead with the idea that even if Dongmin had been before, he’d at least never been with Bin.
His hopes were high, and a couple hours later, after Minhyuk had gone home, he called his boyfriend’s cell.
“Sorry, Binnie,” Dongmin sighed over the phone. “I really don’t think I can afford to leave for three days right now.”
Bin nodded sadly, and then realized that Dongmin couldn’t see him. “Right,” he said. “That’s okay, it was just a thought.”
Apparently his disappointment leaked into his voice, because Dongmin hastened to say, “But I really want to! Gyeongju sounds lovely, I haven’t been in so long--”
“It’s okay, Dongminnie,” Bin assured him. “I know you’re busy, and it’s important to you.” A bit of guilt wormed in his heart at making Dongmin worry over him instead of the case.
There was a bit of silence over the phone. Bin wiggled a bit, shifting and trying to get more comfortable on his couch. The pillow he’d thrown at Minhyuk would be helpful, but it was still halfway across the room.
A sigh crackling over the phone distracted him from the pillow. “I just don’t want to have to bring work on our first trip together,” Dongmin said, and he sounded tired. Bin’s heart ached at bit at it, and he wished for nothing more than to be able to help Dongmin rest for just a couple days.
“It’s alright,” he said again. “We can go after the trial, to celebrate when you win.”
Almost as soon as the words were out of his mouth, Bin regretted them. There was another silence, this one a bit more awkward than the last. “Right,” Dongmin said finally, and Bin bit his lip to contain the groan at his own stupidity, sinking into the couch as Dongmin continued, “When I win.”
Idiot, Bin thought. Dongmin didn’t want to win this case, even if he needed to to keep his job, and he knew it. There was nothing that could be said to save the conversation now, though. Bin picked at the hole in the knee of his jeans, unsure of what to say. Dongmin didn’t offer anything, but he also didn’t hang up the phone. “Have you eaten dinner?” Bin asked. “I can bring you some ramen.”
A third sigh. “I’m alright,” Dongmin said. “I’ll talk to you later, alright? Sanha’s hovering outside my office, I think he has more documents for me to look at.”
“Okay,” Bin said, and after saying goodbye, he hung up and dropped his phone unceremoniously. It fell somewhere into the couch cushions as Bin pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes, groaning loudly to the empty apartment. “Stupid,” he said out loud, and he stayed in that position for longer than he could keep track of.
A few days after the incident on the phone, Bin was in the supermarket. His kitchen was almost entirely bare, and only after he had opened his refrigerator and found almost entirely condiments did he accept that he needed to go shopping.
He hummed to himself as he considered different brands of coffee grounds, wondering idly if he should change it up and go with something different from what he usually got. Dongmin preferred darker roasts, while Bin usually bought medium ones.
Holding two bags in his hands, Bin continued to consider them. The evening after their mild...whatever it was, Bin wasn’t even sure what to call it- he’d surprised Dongmin at his apartment with hot chocolate and a croissant. Dongmin had still been suited up in his work clothes, surely not home for long, but seemed surprised and elated to see Bin. He had accepted the treats, and then pulled Bin into a hug. It was a hug of forgiveness, and Bin was relieved that the spat had been smoothed over so easily.
Deciding to go with the darker roast, Bin tossed the bag into his basket and placed the other one back on the shelf, then continued on his way towards the vegetables.
As he was inspecting the onions, his phone started ringing. Still humming, Bin pulled it out of his pocket, smiling when he saw Dongmin’s caller ID. “Hey you,” he said, pressing the phone to his ear and leaning against the onion crate. “What’s up?”
“Is that trip still an option? ”
Bin blinked, freezing with a bag of onions held aloft. “What?”
“The trip. To Gyeongju. Let’s go.”
Standing up straight, Bin looked around the store. This almost seemed like a hidden camera prank. “Are you serious?” he said into the phone. “What about work?”
“I’ve handled it,” Dongmin said, and he sounded breathless. “How quickly could you get to my office? Wait, wait- I need things. Can you go to my apartment and pack a bag? You know where all my stuff is.”
Bin’s head was reeling. “Wait, wait- you’re being serious? You can go?”
Dongmin laughed, loud and pure, and it was only once he heard it that Bin realized it’d been weeks since he’d last heard Dongmin laugh. “Yes, Binnie. Let’s go on a trip together.”
It took twenty minutes for Bin to pay for the groceries he’d managed to pick out before Dongmin called and get back to his apartment. He was a whirlwind of a man, throwing the necessities into a bag while trying to book a hotel on his phone at the same time. He raced down the street to Dongmin’s building, and thirty minutes after hanging up the phone he was putting in the lock code to Dongmin’s apartment and rushing inside. It took only a short period of time to find everything Dongmin would need for a weekend trip- he was so organized that it was easy for Bin to locate things and put them in a bag. (The thing that took the longest was packing Dongmin’s skincare products so that they wouldn’t leak.)
Fifteen minutes after entering the apartment, Bin wormed his feet back into his sneakers, and then he picked up the car keys he’d always seen hanging on a hook near the door, but never saw moved.
(“You’ve got a license, right? Go ahead and drive my car over here, I’d rather that than a train.”
“Are you sure?” Bin asked nervously, still talking while putting the few groceries he’d managed to grab on the conveyer belt. The lady checking him out gave him an odd look, and he smiled tightly at her.
“What do you mean, am I sure? Are you a bad driver?”
“No,” Bin said immediately. “Just...you really trust me with your car?”
“I trust you with my life, Binnie.”)
Finding the parking spot for Dongmin’s apartment proved to be the most difficult thing to locate, as Bin jogged around the underground parking garage before finally hearing a car respond to his clicking of the key fob.
It was a small black car, sleek and modern without being flashy. Despite Dongmin’s earlier reassurance, Bin couldn’t keep his heart from pounding a bit as he sat behind the wheel, nervously patting the steering wheel as if the car was alive.
Realizing he was being moronic, he mumbled, “What are you doing, Moon?” He put the car in reverse, pulled out of the garage, and onto the road.
Dongmin had sent him the address to his office, and when Bin pulled up outside the building his mouth dropped as he tilted his head back to look at the high rise that apparently housed Dongmin’s offices.
He felt out of place in his ripped jeans and flannel over a t-shirt as he walked into the building. Judging from the look the woman behind the lobby desk gave him, he didn’t just feel underdressed. Still though, the woman told him the floor number, and Bin made his way to the elevators and pushed the button to go up twenty six stories.
The elevator door slid open to a tiled hallway, and Bin walked around until he found what looked like a secretary’s desk with a woman sitting behind it. The way she smiled--much more pleasantly than the woman downstairs--and said, “How can I help you?” reaffirmed the assumption.
“I’m looking for Lee Dongmin’s office?” Bin said, trying to sound more confident than he felt surrounded by quiet offices and business suits.
The woman smiled knowingly. “I presume you’re Mr. Moon,” she said, rising out of her seat and extending an arm to the right. Bin’s dumbfounded nod went unnoticed as she continued, “Go down this hall and take your first right. His office is the second door on the left.”
Bowing in thanks and still wondering how on earth all of Dongmin’s coworkers seemed to know him, Bin hurried down the hallway, following the woman’s directions and ending up right outside an office with a nameplate reading “Lee Dongmin” on the wall next to it. Bin nearly walked straight in, but at the last second remembered himself and knocked on the door.
There was a moment’s pause, and the voices that had been muffled inside the room stopped. Another second later and the door was being opened, and this time Bin found his way into the room being blocked by one Yoon Sanha, a perfect opposite to their situation a few weeks prior.
“Can I help you?” Yoon Sanha said, and even though he was trying to be professional and authoritative Bin still heard the waver of nervousness in his voice.
It took valiant effort to keep the smirk out of his voice, but Bin managed to do so as he said, “I’m here for Dongmin.”
“Is that Bin?” Dongmin’s voice said, floating up over Yoon Sanha’s shoulder. The younger man glanced behind him, then back at Bin.
“Yes,” he said wearily, then stepped back to allow Bin into the office.
Dongmin looked like he’d been working non-stop. His suit jacket was missing, his tie loosened and the sleeves of his button up carefully rolled up and out of the way. His hair was messy, and Bin could count the four track lines that Dongmin’s fingers undoubtedly had caused. Sure enough, as he was crossing the room to stand in front of the impressive desk that took up most of the space, Dongmin ran his hand through his hair again, letting his bangs flop back down over his forehead without much care.
“Did you pack a bag for me?” he asked, and when Bin answered with an affirmative he gave a relieved grin. “Great,” Dongmin said. He started unfolding his cuffs, and Bin was sad to watch the smooth skin of his forearms disappear under fabric once more.
Yoon Sanha seemed startled by Dongmin’s obvious packing up. “Hyung,” he said, looking like he wanted to stop Dongmin’s hands as they closed folders and threw things into piles. “Hyung, wait--where are you going?”
“Gyeongju,” Bin said gleefully.
“Gyeongju? ” Yoon Sanha repeated, and it was almost a screech.
“Gyeongju,” Dongmin confirmed, swinging his jacket over his shoulders.
To Bin’s amusement, the younger man’s mouth worked like a fish for a few moment. “Hyung,” Yoon Sanha finally gasped. “We were just sent an entire new case of files, you can’t possibly leave now-- ”
“Well, I am,” Dongmin snapped, and Bin jerked a bit, surprised that he’d switched from happy to annoyed so quickly. It was unlike him. Seeming to realize that, Dongmin took a deep breath, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose between two fingers. “I need a weekend,” he said. “Just...flag anything important, okay? I’m not looking at my email until Monday morning.” Yoon Sanha continued to stand in the middle of the office, looking dumbstruck as Dongmin picked up his bag and turned off his computer monitor. “Let’s go, Binnie,” he said, and Bin threw a glance at Sanha again as he followed Dongmin out of the office obediently.
The ride down the elevator was silent. Tension seemed to be bleeding off of Dongmin, different from how excited he’d sounded on the phone.
Maybe I misinterpreted the emotion earlier and he was more stressed than excited, Bin thought to himself, squirming a bit as he tried to think of something to say to break the thick quiet.
The silence carried all the way out of the building and into the building’s parking garage where Bin had left the car. They had just to it when Bin wondered if he should pass the keys to Dongmin, and then suddenly he was grabbed by the wrist and found his back pressed against the back passenger door.
“Dongmin, what--” His question was abruptly cut off by Dongmin sealing their lips together, kissing him hard and with huge urgency. Bin made a noise in the back of his throat, and he wasn’t sure if it was a sigh or a whimper. Whatever it was, it made Dongmin press impossibly closer, hands coming up to weave into Bin’s hair.
It was when the kisses moved away from his mouth and down his jaw and neck that Bin finally managed to gasp, “Dongmin--Dongminnie, not--not here, please, oh my God-- ” The last exclamation was caused by Dongmin nipping at the juncture where Bin’s neck met his shoulder. “Oh my god,” Bin said again, and now Dongmin was simply standing there, his face buried in the crook of Bin’s neck as Bin tried to pull his thoughts back together. It took a minute, but eventually he was successful.
Successful enough to realize that Dongmin still hadn’t moved, except now he was shaking mildly, and Bin’s stomach dropped as he realized that something was very, very wrong. “Dongminnie?” he said tentatively. Dongmin didn’t move, didn’t reply, and instead a noise that sounded suspiciously like a sob echoed through the parking garage. Bin’s heart hammered in his chest as he whispered, “Minnie?” Dongmin finally looked up, and Bin immediately wished he hadn’t because oh god he had tears running down his face and his eyes were red and Bin didn’t know what was wrong--
“Can we go?” Dongmin asked, voice thick, and Bin was helpless but to nod and help him into the car.
The drive to Gyeongju was not a terrible one. Fortunately, they had left Seoul in the middle of the day, missing most of the rush hour traffic, and by the time people had begun their commute home in the city, Bin and Dongmin were already driving down the interstate, an hour away and only three from their destination.
The ride to Gyeongju, on the other hand, at least as it had been thus far, was not a fun one. Bin drove, almost scared to ask Dongmin what was wrong. The man himself offered no information either, curling up in the passenger seat and pointedly staring out of the window. Whether it was from embarrassment at the way he’d handled himself earlier or from not wanting to talk or a combination of both, Bin didn’t know. What he did know, though, was that this was without a doubt the most fragile he’d ever seen Dongmin, and if he wasn’t careful he might accidentally say the wrong thing and shatter the other man to pieces.
So instead of pressing for information, Bin drove. He drove and drove and drove, weaving through traffic and tapping on the steering wheel, sometimes humming along to the songs playing off of the “Chill” playlist on his phone that he’d started up when it had become obvious that Dongmin wasn’t planning on speaking any time soon.
Two hours into the drive, Bin pulled off in Daejeon to get gas and snacks. Dongmin had said he didn’t want anything, but when Bin darted into the rest stop he picked up a couple of Dongmin’s favorite chips and drinks and an iced Americano, anyway. Now, another hour into the drive, the Chill playlist had run out and though the snacks remained untouched at Dongmin’s feet, the Americano was nothing but ice in a plastic cup. The tension in the car had eased greatly, and Bin was content to pretend Dongmin’s breakdown hadn’t happened for at least the amount of time it took them to get checked into the hotel and settled.
Dongmin, though, seemed to have other plans. “My dad died when I was in high school.”
Bin glanced over to the passenger side of the car. If he hadn’t been the only other person in the car, he almost would have guessed Dongmin hadn’t spoken at all, given the way he was still curled up and looking out of the window. He took a moment to process the information, and then finally said, “That’s awful.” Reaching out, he took Dongmin’s hand in his own. “I’m sorry, Minnie.”
Shrugging, Dongmin shifted a bit, uncurling away from the window and opening a bit towards Bin. “It’s been ten years now,” he said. “I’m done grieving, at least.”
Silence fell over the car again. Bin passed a slow driver, then carefully merged back into the right hand lane.
“He had his first heart attack,” Dongmin said, and Bin stroked the back of his hand with his thumb. “When I was in middle school. The doctors thought it was so strange--there’s no history of heart disease in our family, and my dad was really healthy. My mom always said it was stess, that he worked too hard.”
The narrative puttered out again, and Bin hummed. “You don’t have to tell me this, Minnie,” he said quietly.
The statement made Dongmin laugh thickly. “Except I really, really do,” he said. Bin glanced over as he tipped his head back, eyes closed as he rested against the headrest. “He had surgery a couple months after the heart attack, and it seemed like it helped. He was happier, Mom was happier, me and Donghwi--”
“Your brother, right?”
“Yeah--we both kept studying, moved into the next school year. Then, suddenly, everything went downhill. Dad couldn’t breathe, his chest was always hurting, and then he was just--” Dongmin waved a hand. “Gone.” The breath he let out was more of a shudder, and Bin squeezed his hand. He glanced over at Dongmin, and watched as his face grew thunderous. “Would you guess the name I found in an updated list of patients of this company that had passed away due to the faulty stents they received from OTB Industries?”
Bin’s stomach dropped for the second time that afternoon.
“Lee Chanseok,” Dongmin said, confirming the awful conclusion Bin had drawn. “Married, two sons.” He rolled his head to look in Bin’s direction for the first time since they’d gotten in the car, and Bin was horrified by the tears he saw in Dongmin’s eyes. “Bin, I’m literally defending the people that helped kill my dad. Why am I doing this?”
Bin didn’t have a good answer, and after a terrible moment where his throat ached with the want to say something but being unable to find the words, Dongmin turned his head away again. Bin felt like a terrible boyfriend, that he couldn’t find anything to comfort Dongmin when he needed it horribly.
The rest of the drive passed in silence. A half hour later Bin pulled into the hotel parking lot, and together they hauled their bags into the building and up to the room. They took turns in the shower, Dongmin going first and coming out looking a little more relaxed than when they’d gotten out of the car. As Bin scrubbed shampoo through his hair, he resolved to make the next day as jam-packed as possible, giving Dongmin as little time to think about the whole situation as he could manage.
After he’d dressed again, Bin padded out of the bathroom, clutching his balled up dirty clothes and tossing them haphazardly into his duffle bag on the ground. Dongmin was stretched out on his stomach on one of the two full beds in the room, and Bin elected to drape himself across his back than crash into the other one. “What are you working on?” he asked, noticing the sketchbook under Dongmin’s hand.
“My next tattoo,” Dongmin said. He passed his phone to Bin, unlocked and open to an image of a stalk-like flower, kind of similar to the snapdragon in structure, but with pale pink flowers that had five petals each. Dongmin must have been able to feel Bin’s unasked question, because he continued, “It’s a funeral flower.”
Bin nodded. It was for his dad, then.
“It means strength, like the dahlia,” Dongmin said lightly. “But also moral integrity.” He put his pencil down, moving the sketchbook to the nightstand and then rolling over to tuck himself into Bin’s side. Bin lifted an arm easily, more than happy to let Dongmin cling.
As they laid there together, Bin wondered how the air had become so calm. Dongmin, who had been all over the map the entire afternoon, finally seemed to have settled back into himself. Bin savored the feeling, and sleepily thought about the itinerary MInhyuk had helped him plan a week earlier.
“The prosecution is going to give a request for production,” Dongmin said quietly.
Bin hummed in response. “Tell me what that is?” he asked, equally as quietly, tucking his chin on top of Dongmin’s head and breathing in the smell of his shampoo.
“It’s a request for all the documents we have on the case,” Dongmin explained. “I think--I think the firm wants me to come up with a way to hide the bad ones.” Bin’s stomach felt sour, and he couldn’t help the scowl that crossed his face. He imagined walking up to the firm and punching the workers straight in the face. Unfortunately for Yoon Sanha, he was the only person Bin had a face for that worked at the legal firm, and therefore was the person getting punched in Bin’s imagination.
“I’m going to give them all of it,” Dongmin said, after a pause.
Bin let the silence hover for another moment. “What’s gonna happen when you do?”
Dongmin’s breath was warm on his collarbone. “The case won’t go to trial, because there’s no way OTB can even have a defense against all the things I’ve seen,” he said. “They get an official investigation into all the shady business work and science I’ve read about, because the prosecution is going to read about it and bring it to the judge and then OTB will either be shut down forcibly or they’ll pay enough money to keep everything quiet that they’ll go away for a long, long time.” There was another pause, and Bin started slowly rubbing Dongmin’s back though his white sleep shirt. “And then--” Dongmin gulped, and then he huffed out a laugh. “And then I get fired, and I figure out what I’m gonna do with my life.”
guess who's done with the semester and officially on summer break! (hint: its your favorite mess who still cannot post before two o'clock in the fukin mornin) without exams and papers bogging me down, i'm hoping i'll get to wrap up this story before i go back to school! i think it's going to end up another three or so chapters (i promise, this angsty stuff will only last for like...one more chapter. hopefully). for the time being, enjoy this extra-long one as an apology for disappearing for so long
the standard things apply: my knowledge of legal things goes no deeper than wikipedia and what the lovely Linxe_Termoil tells me. this also applies to the shady stuff about heart attacks and stuff in there that sounds vaguely medical bc i really don't know anything y'all besides facts about female soviet night bombers during world war ii but they don't really pertain to this story
here's what will eventually end up being dongmin's gladioli tattoo
come talk to me about the world war era on tumblr bc that's the only thing i actually know stuff about besides astro
Chapter 9: gyeongju
“What did you wake me up for if I don't get to kiss you?” he complained, flopping back into the mattress as Dongmin crawled out of the bed.
Dongmin was full of smiles. “I should certainly hope you're dating me for more than kisses,” he said, shrugging off his shirt as he headed towards his bag.
“You're right,”Bin said lazily, admiring his artwork on Dongmin’s shoulder blade. “I’m also dating you because you’ve got a great ass.”
When Bin woke up, it was not to his alarm like he had planned for it to be. Instead, he woke up slowly, disorientated for a moment as he tried to remember why he was in an unfamiliar bed, the sunlight spilling across the sheets from the wrong angle. Haphazardly he rubbed his eyes, groaning as he finally sat up and looked around.
Ah. He was in the hotel in Gyeongju, tangled in a mess of sheets in the bed he and Dongmin had fallen asleep in the night before. The bed was disappointingly Dongmin-less, and as Bin felt around the cold sheets, it seemed like he’d been up for a while. When he’d determined that the shower was not running and therefore Dongmin wasn’t likely to be in the room at all, Bin flopped back onto the bed with a disappointed groan. “Damn,” he mumbled, flinging an arm across his face to block out the bright sunlight.
He managed to doze off again, and only woke when the sound of the room door opening jerked him out of his sleep. With an unattractive snort, Bin jerked up again, blearily opening his eyes to see Dongmin smiling at him, two coffee cups clasped in his hands.
“I was supposed to be up before you,” Bin mumbled, voice rough with sleep as he accepted the coffee Dongmin extended to him. He shuffled over a bit, patting the bed next to him.
“You drove for almost five hours yesterday,” Dongmin said, climbing onto the bed. Bin smiled in amusement as Dongmin made himself comfortable, nudging Bin’s arm up so that he could tuck himself into his side as tightly as possible. Bin didn’t mind though, happy to let Dongmin cuddle. “You deserved the extra rest.”
Bin took a sip of coffee. “My original plan involved being outta the door bye nine,” he said.
Dongmin made an acknowledging hum, and wriggled a little closer. “I think I prefer this,” he said, and Bin laughed before pressing a kiss into Dongmin’s hair.
They lounged in bed for another hour or so before Bin was finally ready to get moving and Dongmin was willing to unclasp his octopus-like hold on him. It took only a short time to get ready, dressing lightly for the August heat, and then they were walking down the street with their hands clasped together. Dongmin had been the one to initiate the hand-holding, and Bin said nothing about the increased clinginess. Instead, he smiled when Dongmin laced their fingers together and swung their arms back and forth lightly.
They spent the day wandering Gyeongju. Bin’s original plans had mostly revolved around them getting up early instead of lounging in bed for half the day, but Dongmin didn’t seem to mind the vague outline Bin gave him as they rode a bus to Bulguksa Temple. They roamed the grounds, exploring the old buildings. Dongmin took pictures of the beautiful scenery, and Bin took pictures of Dongmin.
“What are you grinning at?” Dongmin asked him later, when they were on another bus.
Bin smiled a little wider. “Just you,” he said, flipping through the photos he’d taken. Some were cute posed photos of Dongmin making V signs in front of the old Buddha statues, others were candids. A couple selfies of the two of them had made their way in as well.
They ended up having lunch in a noodle shop (though it was really more of an early dinner, given that it was mid-afternoon when they ate). The whole day, they talked about nothing and everything. Dongmin told stories about his little brother, Bin returned them with stories about Sua. Somehow, Dongmin convinced him to tell the story of how he ended up with the moon tattoo. He was in stitches as Bin described the night of drinking for his little sister’s 20th birthday and the subsequent dares (and tattoos), nearly getting dirty looks from the workers as they made their way into the National Museum.
After the museum they wandered the streets until nightfall, only returning to the hotel when Bin thought he could no longer keep Dongmin from discovering the destinations he was saving for later. They collapsed into the room, full of kimbap that they’d stopped for on their way back and simply laid there for a while.
Bin relaxed into the bed. His head was lying on Dongmin’s chest, and Dongmin’s hand fell somewhere on his arm. The room was warm and they’d only bothered to turn on a lamp, easily dark enough to drift off to sleep.
Just as he thought he might doze off, Dongmin sighed deeply and shuffled away, making Bin’s head fall into the mattress. With a disappointed snuffle, Bin rolled over onto his stomach so that he could watch Dongmin pick up the phone he’d left in the room all day.
“Are people going to be mad at you?” he asked as Dongmin powered the device on. “For leaving?”
Dongmin huffed a laugh, then reached down and started carding his hands through Bin’s hair. “They certainly won't be happy,” he said, and despite the dreary topic Bin had to keep himself from humming happily as Dongmin scratched at his scalp. “Not as mad as they will be about the request for production, though.”
“Mmm.” As Dongmin’s phone finally blinked on, it immediately began buzzing with emails, texts, missed calls, and voicemails.
“Mostly Sanha,” Dongmin observed. Bin watched as he opened the texts and closed them again without responding.
“Have you told him about the request for production thing?” Bin mumbled.
“Not yet.” From his vantage point by Dongmin’s hip, Bin watched as he scrolled through his emails before locking the phone and tossing it onto the nightstand. Bin welcomed him with a leg thrown over his thigh when Dongmin shuffled down to lie next to him. With a quiet giggle, Dongmin said, “We should change.”
Bin acknowledged the idea with a hum. Neither of them moved from where they were wrapped around each other.
“Do you have a plan?” Bin asked quietly. It was a risk, breaking the easy silence they had between them. “Y’know. For after.”
Dongmin hummed again, and Bin thanked whatever deity there was that he didn't have to add the “you get fired.” Instead, Dongmin started running his hand up and down Bin’s arm. “I don’t really know,” he said finally. “I could try to find a new firm. I could open up my own. I could stop being a lawyer altogether.”
Bin shuffled a bit, so that he was on his side with his head propped up in his hand. “What would you do?” he asked, curious.
As Bin moved, Dongmin had rolled so that he was on his back. Now, he looked up at the ceiling, hands folded on his stomach. “I don't know,” he said. “Become a food blogger?” He smiled up at Bin, who couldn't help but throw his head back and laugh.
“If I get to eat what you cook I’m all for the idea,” he said playfully, then ducked down and stole a kiss from the corner of Dongmin’s mouth.
The reaction he got was a happy sigh, and Bin basked in the way Dongmin looked more relaxed than he’d seen him in months. His eyes drifted closed, and Bin smiled as he reached up to gently run his fingers through Dongmin’s hair. They settled into their easy quiet once more, Bin’s head slipping down so it was pillowed on Dongmin’s shoulder once more.
Bin snuffled, not willing to wake up.
“Binnie,” came the second whisper.
Bin groaned. He rolled over and tried to pull the covers over his head, but the attempt was stopped by a soft giggle and strong hands.
“Moon boy,” Dongmin said, dragging the covers down Bin’s torso. His voice was far too cheery for what must have been an early hour.
Throwing his arm over his eyes, Bin let out another sleepy groan. Dongmin shifted beside him, and then Bin gasped and nearly kicked Dongmin off the bed when warm lips were suddenly on his hipbone. He scrambled into a seated position, only to find Dongmin grinning at him cheerfully.
“Good morning,” he chirped, and Bin could only frown sleepily at him. Dongmin smiled brilliantly, then reached forward and combed a hand through Bin’s bangs before tipping forward and pressing their lips together gently.
Well. After that, Bin could hardly continue frowning. “Morning,” he mumbled after Dongmin pulled back. Then he used a hand on the back of Dongmin’s neck to tug him forward and kiss him a bit harder.
Again, Dongmin didn't let the kiss last long. Bin whined a bit when he pulled back. “What did you wake me up for if I don't get to kiss you?” he complained, flopping back into the mattress as Dongmin crawled out of the bed.
Dongmin was full of smiles. “I should certainly hope you're dating me for more than kisses,” he said, shrugging off his shirt as he headed towards his bag.
“You're right,”Bin said lazily, admiring his artwork on Dongmin’s shoulder blade. “I’m also dating you because you’ve got a great ass.” With a bark of laughter, Dongmin threw a wink over his shoulder. Bin could feel his grin nearly splitting his face in two. Reaching out, he grabbed one of the complimentary hotel pens off of the nightstand. “Don’t get dressed yet,” he said, finally sitting up.
“Just because you’re dating me does not give you free access to my ass, Moon Bin.”
Rolling his eyes and pretending he couldn't feel his cheeks heat up just a bit, Bin shuffled down the bed. “Not for that ,” he said. “C’mere. I wanna draw on you.”
Dongmin continued standing just out of reach, grinning at him. “Are you gonna charge me for this artwork too.”
“Oh my god, Dongmin, just come here.”
With a laugh, Dongmin let Bin pull him back into the bed, landing on his back and propping himself up on his elbows. “How do you want me?” he said, and his grin was far too cheeky for it to be completely innocent.
“Jesus,” Bin groaned. “Roll over, I can't look at your face.”
Delighted laughter filled the room as Dongmin complied, bearing the canvas of his bare back for Bin to doodle on.
“What has got you in such a good mood this morning?” Bin asked. He had started drawing a cartoon flower on Dongmin’s lower back, contrasting to the detailed colored versions above it on his shoulder.
“I slept well,” Dongmin said. “We had a great day yesterday. I’m going to leave a toxic part of my life behind me when I get home.” There was a brief moment of silence, and Dongmin’s back rose as he took a breath, like a person steeling themselves. “Right now I’m in a beautiful historic city with my boyfriend, whom I love very much.”
Bin’s hand jerked, and suddenly there was a thick black line marring the cartoon flower. His heart was pounding in his ears. “Love?” he repeated.
Dongmin rolled over, sitting up as he did. “Yeah,” he said. “Is that—is that okay?”
Bin blinked. And then, “Yes—oh my god, yes, Dongmin, yes, that’s—” Then, because he couldn't think of better words, Bin cupped Dongmin’s face and yanked him towards himself, crashing their lips together in a kiss that was terribly messy, mostly due to how hard they were both smiling. Bin was pretty sure he kissed Dongmin’s teeth at least once. “I love you, too,” he said when they pulled away.
The way Dongmin’s eyes crinkled with his smile made Bin’s heart swell, and it took an enormous amount of self control to keep from simply saying “I love you, I love you, I love you,” over and over.
Eventually, they managed to get out of bed and showered. Bin was surprised to find them getting out of the room earlier than they had the day before, and wondered exactly how early Dongmin had woken him up.
His frowning was negated when Dongmin bought him a bagel from a cafe, smeared with a pink strawberry cream cheese. They spent the day exploring the historic sites they’d skipped the day before.
During lunch (barbecue, at Bin’s insistence), Dongmin asked Bin if he’d told him why he wanted to be a lawyer.
“I don't think so,” Bin answered, talking around a mouthful of lettuce and meat.
Dongmin frowned at his lack of table manners, but the shake of his head was undeniably fond. “I wanted to help people,” he said, playing with his chopsticks. “I think I figured out how to get back to that.”
Bin made sure to swallow before responding this time. “That’s awesome,” he said. “What are you gonna do?”
“I want to be a state lawyer,” Dongmin said. “Help people that can't afford one. I’ll have to go back to school since I’ve done nothing bit corporate since I graduated, but I think—I think this is the right thing to do.” Dongmin’s smile was small, a bit unsure, but lit up his entire face.
Bin grinned. “Sounds great, Minnie.” Dongmin grinned at him across the table, and then nudged another piece of meat towards Bin.
Before they went to their final historic attraction, they went back to the hotel and checked out, loading their bags into Dongmin’s car to head back to Seoul that evening. With their bags in the back seat, they headed to the site Bin was most excited about—the Cheomseongdae Observatory.
“Do you remember the first date you picked me up from the shop for?” Bin asked, practically skipping as he tugged Dongmin down the pathway.
His excitement was infectious—Dongmin was laughing, breathless as he let Bin pull him along. “Is that the one where we went to Namsan? And ended at the observatory?”
“Yes,” Bin said happily, slowing as they rounded a bend and came upon the very thing Bin had been rushing towards, just as the sun was hitting the horizon.
“Oh wow,” Dongmin said softly, stopping to stare at the sight of the Cheomseongdae Observatory from the 600s, lit by the setting sun. “Binnie, this is beautiful.”
Bin couldn’t help but beam. He darted over and dropped a kiss on Dongmin’s cheek, enough to make him pull his gaze away from the observatory and smile softly at Bin. “This is perfect,” he murmured, and then leaned in and kissed Bin gently on the lips.
Sighing, Bin pulled back, tugging Dongmin into his side and looking back at the ancient building.
When they’d gotten their fill of the sight, Bin and Dongmin wandered back to the car. Dongmin offered to drive, since Bin had driven in. The roads were relatively empty, given that it was late on a Sunday night. Two hours in, Bin was struggling to keep his eyes open. Dongmin had given him a fond smile and told him to go to sleep.
When Bin woke up, it was to Dongmin gently shaking his shoulder. “Hey Binnie,” he was saying.
“C’mon, we’re back at my apartment. It’s like two o’clock in the morning.”
Bin yawned hugely, and mumbled something unintelligible about heading home. Dongmin shook his head in response. “Just stay here,” he said, speaking around a yawn of his own.
That was all the convincing Bin needed, clambering out of the car and following Dongmin up to his apartment. They tumbled sleepily into the entrance, dropping bags in the living room on their way back to Dongmin’s room. It took all of Bin’s remaining energy to tug on a tank top and sweatpants before he collapsed into Dongmin’s bed. Ever-consistent with his skincare, Dongmin fell in beside him a couple minutes later, smelling like tea tree oil and with his hair still pushed back by a headband.
Grinning, Bin reached out and tugged the headband off. “I like sleeping next to you,” he mumbled, tossing the headband somewhere on the floor. “We should always do this.”
Dongmin’s eyes were already falling shut. “M’kay,” he sighed, shuffling close enough so that he could throw an arm around Bin’s waist.
For the third night in a row, Bin smiled as he drifted off to sleep, happy in Dongmin’s arms.
so after writing this i realize that 90% of this chapter is just binu lounging in bed but after the last chapter i doubt y'all are really upset about that. also, Like 75% of this was written on a plane from detroit to new orleans (just a fun fact). look forward to one or two more chapters sometime in the future- we’re almost done, y'all! As always, my tumblr is where I live (even if it just says queue I'm probably there lol)
another note: this travel blog was my reference for the gyeongju trip. originally i was going to go into a lot more detail but then, you know, binu said "what if we laid in bed the whole time" and i was like "shit they right"
please ignore me i've been up for a very long time and flying all day
Chapter 10: bouquet
It was easy to tell when someone didn’t belong in a tattoo parlor. Bin liked to consider himself an expert on it, but this time he didn’t need to be, because Bin knew that a person like Yoon Sanha did not belong in tattoo parlors.
Their rising the next morning was unhurried. Bin had woken up when Dongmin’s alarm began going off, and had gladly accepted the way Dongmin flopped onto his chest to press warm, open mouthed kisses to his cheeks and lips.
“Morning breath,” he mumbled, grimacing a little.
Dongmin smiled down at him. “Yours isn't much better,” he said, then kissed him again despite it.
They finally rolled out of bed when Dongmin’s second alarm started ringing. While Dongmin disappeared to the bathroom to get ready for work, Bin wandered into the kitchen to start a pot of coffee and work on breakfast.
As he started making porridge, Bin was struck by the ease of the morning. He liked this, waking up next to Dongmin, making breakfast while he was in the other room. If he strained his ears, he could hear the sink of Dongmin’s bathroom running, as familiar as the one in his own apartment.
Maybe we should move in together, Bin thought. He blinked, nearly over filling the rice cooker as he processed what he said. In that moment, Dongmin walked into the kitchen, hair pushed back by a headband and an unbuttoned dress shirt hanging off of his shoulders. Bin was helpless but to watch as Dongmin poured a cup of coffee, rooted to his spot by the thought that had passed through his head.
Dongmin glanced towards him and smiled. “Alright there?” he asked.
Bin nodded, desperately trying to count the months since he and Dongmin had started dating. Nearly five months. That wasn’t long at all. Definitely not long enough to go asking someone to move in together, Bin told himself.
To keep himself from blurting the question out, he reached out and tugged Dongmin towards him, grinning at the shout of laughter that it caused before sealing their lips together. After he finishes the case, he promised himself. I’ll ask him then.
Lawsuits, Bin discovered, took forever.
A month and a half passed, August slipping away to September to almost October, the whole period of which Bin probably wouldn’t have seen Dongmin if he didn’t stubbornly bring him dinner most nights (and, by extension, sometimes brought dinner for Yoon Sanha).
Dongmin always thanked him when he did, and each time Bin had to swallow saying something like, Move in with me and this can wait for you at home every night. Or something equally as sappy and terrible.
“Moon Bin, I swear to god if you don’t stop moping about your boyfriend and tell me your appointments for the next week I’m actually going to fire you.”
Bin started, nearly knocking his cup of colored pencils onto the floor as he did.
Jinwoo sighed, steadying the cup with a hand before flopping into the second chair behind the front counter. The shop had just closed for the night, and Bin had been able to hear Jinwoo’s college-aged female client, with a notably nasal and high-pitched voice, all the way in the lobby.
“Sorry,” Bin said, pulling out his phone to check his bookings for the next week.
Another long sigh was Jinwoo’s only response, though this one was more directed at the world as a whole than Bin. It was quiet for a moment, the only sound the electronic blips of Bin’s phone as he tapped through his calendar and the rustling of Heejun emptying the biohazard bins throughout the shop.
“You and Dongmin weren’t really friends before you dated, right?” Jinwoo asked suddenly. Bin looked over at him. His eyes were closed, hands folded behind his head as he leaned back in the rolling chair.
“Not really,” Bin said, pulling the appointment book towards him to fill in his schedule. “Why?”
Jinwoo sighed again. “No reason,” he said, scrubbing a hand across his face and opening his eyes. “Did you ask him to move in with you yet?”
Bin’s heart thudded in his chest. “Not yet,” he said. “We haven’t seen each other much.”
Jinwoo nodded again, and they were quiet once more. Heejun passed through the lobby, bidding them goodnight as he left for home. Bin looked back down at his sketchbook, and picked up a pencil to work on the hot air balloon a client had requested earlier that day. After another couple minutes, Jinwoo pulled out one of his sketchbooks as well, and together they worked at the front desk. For a moment, it was like it had been a year ago–late nights, just him and Jinwoo, making designs for future tattoos that may never get used. It was comfortable, and familiar, and–
Ruined, by a loud knocking on the glass door to the lobby. Jinwoo cursed quietly, and Bin glanced over to see a thick black line marring the mermaid he’d begun drawing. Shaking his head, Bin looked up to see who was thick enough to miss the large “closed” sign on the front door.
It was easy to tell when someone didn’t belong in a tattoo parlor. Bin liked to consider himself an expert on it, but this time he didn’t need to be, because Bin knew that a person like Yoon Sanha did not belong in tattoo parlors. Especially not at almost one in the morning.
“Who the hell is that?” Jinwoo asked as Bin rose to get the door.
“What are you doing here, and why am I always opening doors to you?” he asked.
Sanha had the audacity to roll his eyes, and shouldered past Bin to stand in the lobby. “It’s cold, Moon Bin-sshi, let me by.”
Bin glared, locking the door behind him and regretting ever telling Yoon Sanha where he worked.
“Hi,” Sanha said to Jinwoo, who was watching them with wide eyes. “I’m Yoon Sanha.” He bowed, then turned back to Bin. “You need to give Dongmin-hyung flowers or something.”
Bin blinked. Jinwoo blinked. “What?” Bin said.
“Flowers. Chocolates. I don’t know. Something, please, he’s driving me crazy,” Sanha said, flopping down onto one of the couches in the lobby. His overcoat fanned out around him dramatically and Bin briefly thought that he and Myungjun would get along. Sanha looked around, then said, “This is a nice place. Much less seedy than I was expecting.”
Jinwoo spluttered, and Bin couldn’t comfort him because he was too busy trying to figure out what Sanha meant .
“How is he driving you crazy?” Bin finally managed to ask, about the same time Jinwoo spit out, “My shop is not seedy!”
Sanha snorted. “Moon Bin-sshi works here, I was expecting at least a little bit seedy,” he said to Jinwoo.
“Tell me what’s wrong with Dongmin before I kick you out,” Bin said, breathing heavily out of his nose while Jinwoo continued to make offended noises. Dongmin likes Sanha, he reminded himself, crossing his arms over his chest. The teasing is his way of showing affection, Dongmin says.
With a dramatic sigh as equally worthy of Myungjun as his jacket, Sanha closed his eyes and let his head fall back against the couch. “He won’t shut up about you,” he said, in what could only be described as a whine. “He feels bad that you aren’t getting enough time together, he wants to express how much he loves you, blah blah blah.” He lifted his head back up, nose crinkled. “I’ve heard the same story about you cooking for him at least three times in the past week.”
Bin’s heart thudded in his chest, overwhelmed by the idea of Dongmin constantly talking about him.
Jinwoo snorting behind him made both Bin and Sanha turn to look his way. “Good timing then,” he said. “You can ask him to move in with you. Then you can cook for him all the time.”
The shop was silent for a moment. Or maybe Bin just couldn’t hear anything over the sound of blood rushing in his ears.
“That could work,” Sanha said thoughtfully, nodding slowly on the couch.
Bin looked back at him so quickly he almost gave himself whiplash. “It could work?” he said. “You think Dongmin would agree?” He bit back the verbal onslaught of questions that were threatening to spill out.
Sanha blinked at him, as if surprised by the desperate note in Bin’s voice. He seemed to consider his response, and then sighed as a small smile settled over his voice. “Honestly? I’ve never seen Dongmin-hyung so happy.”
Bin’s heart continued to pound. “Does that mean you think he’ll agree?”
At that inquiry, Sanha shrugged. “I dunno,” he said, and seemed genuinely concerned by that statement.
Rubbing his neck, Bin tried to ignore the anxiety building in his stomach. He could feel both Sanha and Jinwoo’s eyes on him. “When are you gonna be done with the request for production?” he asked finally. He was looking at his shoes.
There was another beat where Bin could hear Sanha’s dramatic coat rustle against the sofa. “We’ve got about a week before we have to get it to the prosecution,” he said finally.
Bin nodded. “I’m gonna ask then,” he said, looking up again.
For a moment, Sanha looked excited, and Bin felt his face mirror Sanha’s grin. After just a moment, though, the younger man’s face creased once more.
“You mean I have to spend another week with the lovesick sap?” he cried, flopping back against the couch. “That’s like, an eternity of stories about you,” he moaned.
Though a week may have seemed like an eternity to Yoon Sanha, for Bin it felt like nothing. He spent three days psyching himself up. He planned what he was going to say, and texted Minhyuk for opinions so many times he threatened to make Bin come teach one of his Mommy and Me dance classes to make up for the time it took him to text him back. He pulled up his lease and wrote down all of the legalese that he didn’t understand, and then emailed Sanha asking for explanations. (Sanha’s reply said something to the extent of go away, I’m not a property lawyer followed by explanations of the things Bin was asking.) He called Dongmin and planned to come over with dinner the night before they were turning in the request for publication.
It was a flurry of activity that led to Bin standing on Dongmin’s doorstep, with a bag full of side dishes and an expensive cut of meat to be grilled in one hand and a large bouquet in the other.
“Oh my god,” were Dongmin’s first words, upon opening the door and being greeted by all the flowers. He took the bouquet, and Bin’s heart swelled with pride when he saw Dongmin’s shocked open-mouthed smile. “These are beautiful,” he said, stepping back to let Bin in the apartment.
“I know,” Bin said, grinning as he made his way towards the kitchen.
“This is a snapdragon,” Dongmin’s said, following Bin into the apartment. “This is a dahlia, and–wait, are these all my tattoos?”
Bin looked over his shoulder, grinning broadly. “And every flower you’ve mentioned to me,” he said. He wasn’t going to tell Dongmin that he’d scrolled through months’ worth of texts to find them all.
Dongmin’s smile became a bit awestruck, looking between Bin and the bouquet. Unable to help himself, Bin crossed the kitchen to press a gentle kiss into Dongmin’s cheek. “I love you,” he said.
“I love you too,” Dongmin said, gently placing the flowers on the counter and moving towards the cabinets. Bin hummed as he followed him, ducking down to pull out Dongmin’s portable grill as Dongmin stretched up to get a vase. They moved easily around each other, almost like a choreographed dance as Bin pulled out utensils and Dongmin cut the flowers to put in the vase. Within twenty minutes they were on the floor in the living room, vase of flowers on the side table while meat began sizzling on the small grill.
They talked about everything and nothing, laughing as they cooked together. Dongmin was smiling, looking more relaxed than he had since their trip, and Bin’s heart felt lighter than he could remember.
When the meat was nearly gone, Bin started his campaign.
“So,” he said, wrapping a piece of beef in a piece of lettuce and piling side dishes on top of it. “Are you ready for it to be done?”
For the first time since Bin had met him, Dongmin smiled as he started talking about work. “As soon as I turn in the publication I’m walking out of the building,” he said. “My office is packed up, the files are sitting on my desk, and my letter of resignation is in an envelope to hand to Mr. Jeong’s secretary on my way out.”
Swallowing his wrap, Bin asked, “What are you gonna do with the rest of the day?”
Dongmin’s relaxed smile was beautiful. “I don't know,” he sighed. “And I don't really care.”
Bin couldn't help but grin, even as his stomach twisted with nervousness. “Well, I have an idea for something you could do,” he said, trying to be as nonchalant as possible.
Dongmin paused in his wrap making. “If you’re about to suggest I do you tomorrow afternoon–”
“Oh my god,” Bin groaned, and judging by Dongmin’s cackle he’d decided that was not going to be Bin’s suggestion. “You’re horrible,” Bin said, and even he could hear the fondness in his tone. “What I was going to suggest was looking at apartments, but now I’m not sure I can live with you.”
The grin still lingering from his dirty joke slid off of Dongmin’s face. “Apartments?” he said.
Bin’s heart was beating so hard he could feel it in his toes. “Y’know, I thought that maybe since you were kind of...starting over, per se, that maybe you’d like to...” Bin shrugged. “I dunno. Try living with me.”
Dongmin blinked. Bin tried to ignore the anxiety building in his stomach. “Binnie,” Dongmin said, and he sounded slightly breathless. “You’re completely serious?”
Dongmin’s wide-eyed gaze was almost too much, and Bin found himself looking down as he started playing with his chopsticks. “Yeah, I mean...my lease is gonna be up in a couple months, and you’re not jumping straight into a new job so I thought it made at least a little bit of logical sense–” the sound of Dongmin shifting on the other side of coffee table made Bin look up. “Because, you know, Seoul isn’t really cheap,” he continued, slowing as Dongmin shuffled around the table to be on the same side as Bin, crawling around so that he was knee to knee with Bin. “And I’d really like to be with you all the time,” Bin finished, his voice disappearing off to a whisper as Dongmin’s hands came up and settled around his neck.
Before he could say anything else, Dongmin leaned forward and sealed their lips together, one of his hands tangling in the back of Bin’s hair. Bin was kept there for several long moments before Dongmin pulled away. “Is that what the flowers were for?” Dongmin asked.
Bin nodded, scared to say anything more.
A bright smile spread across Dongmin’s face. “You’re so dumb,” he said, surging forward again and kissing him again.
Starting to laugh, Bin pulled back. “Is that a yes?”
“Yes, you idiot,” Dongmin laughed, and then he yanked Bin towards him so that he could kiss him again.
Breaking away again, Bin smiled. “You know, though,” he said. “Your idea for spending tomorrow afternoon doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.” He kissed Dongmin again. “In fact, we could push that up a bit if you wanted.”
Dongmin groaned into Bin’s mouth, pulling back and standing up. “You’re the worst,” he said. “You’re never allowed to come onto me like that again.”
“It’s working though,” Bin said as he followed Dongmin to standing and pulled him back in with a hand around his waist.
Dongmin rolled his eyes, but let Bin kiss him again anyway.
Gentle kisses on his shoulder roused Bin from sleep the next morning. With a snuffle he pulled the covers up over his head, getting a quiet laugh in response. “C’mon, moon boy,” Dongmin said. “Time to get up and smell the coffee.”
Bin straightened his arms, folding the duvet back down quickly and making a large puff of air that ruffled Dongmin’s bangs. He frowned up at his boyfriend, squinting in the morning light. “Is it already made?” he asked, voice rough with sleep.
“Not yet,” Dongmin hummed, leaning down to press a kiss to the corner of Bin’s mouth. “You wanna make it while I get ready for work?”
With a loud groan, Bin started kicking the comforter off. “I feel used,” he grumbled dramatically. “A morning coffee supplier.”
Dongmin’s bright smile was almost enough to break his partially-feigned grumpiness. “I love you,” Dongmin called as Bin shuffled towards the door.
“Yeah, yeah, I love you too,” he said over his shoulder as he padded out to the kitchen. Making coffee, at least, was ingrained deep enough into Bin’s bones that he went on autopilot as he started dumping out old grounds and putting in a new filter. Which is why, as he was filling the pot with water, he jumped so badly when someone knocked loudly on Dongmin’s front door.
“Son of a–” Bin sighed sharply in frustration as he looked down at his freshly-soaked shirt. Muttering curses, Bin started pulling the shirt off at the same time that the person knocked again, louder than before.
“Can you get that?” Dongmin yelled. “I’m not dressed!”
Still mumbling curses, Bin tossed his shirt into the sink, ignoring the wet slap of fabric as he trotted to the entryway. Yanking the door open, Bin found himself face to face with Yoon Sanha.
“Oh my god,” Yoon Sanha said, immediately averting his gaze from Bin’s bare chest.
Bin sighed, bracing a hand on the door jam. “Are you incapable of bothering Dongmin at human hours? It’s barely eight o’clock.”
Sanha’s cheeks were stained pink, his eyes stubbornly continuing to look up towards the ceiling as he mumbled something that sounded like “Are you incapable of wearing a shirt?”
“He wasn't answering my texts,” Sanha said, louder, finally looking down enough to meet Bin’s eyes. “Look, just—I’m coming in.” Then, with more strength then Bin was expecting, he managed to push his way into the entryway. The door fell shut behind him with a loud click.
“Binnie?” Dongmin’s voice floated out from the back of the apartment, apparently having heard the door shut. The sound of rapid steps followed, and Dongmin emerged from the bathroom. “Who was it? I don't know who would be—” Dongmin’s voice cut off as he froze, mid-step, in the living room.
Dongmin stared at Sanha. Sanha stared back, occasionally cutting glances to Bin’s naked chest. Bin looked between them, and wondered exactly what Yoon Sanha was thinking, because Bin’s lack of shirt combined with Dongmin’s lack of clothing, save for his underwear and a button-up hanging open off of his shoulders, was certainly some kind of picture.
"Is that honeysuckle?" Sanha asked, his voice strangled, as he gestured vaguely to his own collarbone.
There was a beat of silence. Dongmin's face had gone bright red, and he seemed torn between sinking into the ground and running back into the bathroom.
"Yes, it is," Bin finally said for him, when it became apparent he wasn't going to answer.
"Is it—" Sanha gulped, and kept waving his fingers around his collarbone. "It's not usually purple, right?"
Another beat. Then, Dongmin made a choking noise, and fled back into the hallway. A moment later a door slammed shut, leaving Bin and Sanha in silence.
Bin blinked. “Uh. No. It’s not.” Then, because it only seemed polite after subjecting the kid hickies at the early hour, he added, “Would you like a cup of coffee?”
after like three literal months i return from the dead
we're here!!! we're almost done!!!! one more chapter and we'll be finished!!!!! i'm so sorry i made y'all wait for so long but real life got crazy busy and i started back at school and life is just...life, y'know? but hey i came back and i wrote this and honestly i'm real pleased with it so i hope y'all enjoy
a reminder that i am not a lawyer, have never been a lawyer, and will never be a lawyer. All knowledge about legal things has come from google and me going “well if that says this i can probably fudge it a bit.” one day i’ll write about things i know, i promise–in fact i've even started writing about them a bit on my tumblr if you ever wanna drop by and request something