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You're a nice guy and all-

Jinwoo sighed and kicked at a rock on the ground as he continued along the lonely trek home, words ringing in his ears from this date he had just gotten off of, from all previous dates he had ever gotten off of.

You're just not exactly my type-

Why was he no one's type? Why was he no one's idea of a good, romantic partner? Jinwoo wasn't sure what it was, and he had normally let his date give a simple explanation of, It's not you, it's me. Which never really covered why he wasn't someone's type, and the one time he did ask, the answer incited him.

I was expecting someone...taller.

“As if I can help my height,” he mumbled to himself, burrowing further in his jacket. “I'm not the one who chose to be like this.” He glanced up then, at the stars hanging overhead and the moon in its crescent shape, and he yelled, “A few inches wouldn't have hurt anyone, would it?!”

The stars remained silent to his anger, and Jinwoo huffed. Well, screw the stars. He didn't need them. It's not as if they had ever been of any help to him before, either.

Honestly, he wasn't sure who he blamed most of all, though. It might have been the stars, for ignoring his pleas for a taller stature. It might have been Lee Dongmin, for setting him up on so many blind dates in the first place. It might have been himself, for being short and, apparently, not exactly anyone's type.

But he would place more blame on the men who always ended his date with a smile and a handshake and a, Let's just be friends!

They never texted back, and after a few days, Jinwoo had deleted their numbers from his phone, anyway.

He was going to end up alone at this rate. And, sure, maybe he was only twenty-one, but he had already been on far more dates than older people he knew, and he had already been rejected far more times than anyone he knew before.

“I'm going to be a bachelor forever,” he moaned to himself sadly. The stars didn't hear, and he felt the need to inform them of the miserable life he was leading. “I'm going to be a bachelor forever!” he yelled out, and they seemed to understand, and they seemed to also not care at all.

Yelling at the stars felt nice, in any case, but when Jinwoo noticed a lady across the street staring at him in confusion, he realized that maybe it was more silly than it was nice.

So he hurried home, content with grumbling to the stars instead, and also contemplating whether or not he should call Dongmin to yell at him some.

He had his phone out by the time he reached his tiny apartment, and one hand worked on unlocking the door in the dark, while the other searched for Dongmin's number to call.

And he had finally dialed it just as he opened his door, and he would have congratulated himself on his intense multi-tasking, but the moment he stepped inside his dinky apartment, he heard a noise. Not only that, but he was certain he had left the lights off, and just visible around the corner was a soft glow, presumably coming from his fridge.

Which meant someone else was in his apartment.

Jinwoo stood just in front of his door, breaths deep and eyes wide, until Dongmin finally answered the call.

“Hyung!” he greeted cheerfully. “How did the-”

“He hates me, but more importantly,” Jinwoo hissed out, holding the phone close to his mouth as he inched further into his apartment, not yet bothering with his shoes. “There's someone in my apartment.”

Silence fell on Dongmin's end before he repeated, “Someone is in your apartment?”

“Yes! I hear someone moving in my kitchen-” There was more shuffling, the sound of an item being thrust back in his refrigerator. “I don't know if they've heard me come in.”

“Why did you keep going in? Why don't you get out?”

“Because I'm going to defend my apartment!” Jinwoo whispered as he hid behind his couch. “I don't have much to call my own, but what I do have is very important to me, and I'm not going to let some criminal steal my stuff!”

Dongmin sounded worried, “Hyung, what do you want me to do?”

“Come save me, of course! I'll fight him off, but I need you-”

“I can call the police.”

“Don't call the police!” Jinwoo was a bit louder, more insistent, and he responded angrily, “You're right down the street from me, and I might be about to die! There's probably a murderer in my kitchen as we speak, and you think I should wait for the police?”

“Fine, fine, I'll get on my shoes and bring something – pepper spray? I have pepper-”

“Whatever you bring is fine, just come save me!” Jinwoo listened for the intruder, and when he heard nothing, he hissed into his phone, “I'm going to try and make it over to my front door again, alright?”

“Is it clear for you to do that?”

And Jinwoo really didn't know. He hadn't checked again since his initial discovery of someone in his kitchen, but he supposed he should do that before running off into his death. So he took a deep breath, then twisted his body around to look-

Peering at him over the couch were a set of eyes – a man was staring straight back at him.

Jinwoo screamed, and he hurled his phone in shock. The phone smacked into the man's forehead, and Jinwoo heard a soft, “Ow!” before the man disappeared again.

Jinwoo also heard his phone shatter upon hitting his wooden floor, and he could have cried. His phone was his only contact to Dongmin, who was going to save him from this murderer. Now, not only did he probably piss off a killer, but he also lost Dongmin.

He muttered curses under his breath as he scrambled to his feet, but before he could go anywhere, the stranger's face popped back up. Jinwoo screamed again, falling back to the ground, and watched in terror as the figure climbed awkwardly over the back of his couch. The man had a scowl on his face and his eyes were staring seriously into Jinwoo's, but even in the dim lighting, Jinwoo could make out a milk mustache.

What the heck was that all about?

He didn't get too much time to think about it, however, because as he desperately tried to shuffle away from the man, the man easily inched closer. A hand came up, and Jinwoo squeezed his eyes shut. He had lived a good life. He had regrets, but at least he was a good person, if not a little bit short in height.

But no hand wrapped around his neck as he assumed. Instead, he heard the man speak. “Excuse me, but why did you do that?”

Jinwoo's hands clenched into fists from where they propped him up from the ground, and he peeked through one eye. Rather than looking serious, the man now looked indignant, and a slender finger pointed at his forehead.

“Wha-?”

“You threw something at me for literally no reason at all!”

The man had a higher-pitched voice than Jinwoo would have thought a murderer would have, and he had pouty lips that were seriously more model-material than they were killer-material.

(A killer in good looks, though, that might be how Jinwoo died tonight.)

“You...you are in my house!” Jinwoo announced, wondering how he actually wasn't dead yet. Maybe the man just came to rob him.

But, then, why was he sticking around and looking at Jinwoo with such adorably large eyes?

“Is this your house?”

“Well, yeah, I mean-”

“Because your window was wide open, so I'm pretty sure you're basically inviting people inside!”

Did he leave his window open? Oh, god, it was possible. In his rush to make it to his date on time, he might have forgotten to close the window. But still - “It wasn't wide open, was it?”

“It was wide enough that I could push it on up the rest of the way.”

“That's breaking and entering!” Jinwoo accused, and he pointed a finger at the man. “So you're a criminal!

The man looked confused. He cocked his head, reminding Jinwoo of a puppy, and oh god, why was Jinwoo finding a potential murderer so cute?

“I didn't break a single thing,” the man assured him. “I propped up the window and hoisted myself in.” The man suddenly gasped. “Maybe this place isn't even yours! Maybe you are breaking and entering!

“That's ridiculous!” Jinwoo snapped, and he held out his keys. “I have keys to this place, so obviously this is my apartment!”

“Keys?” The man blinked and then grabbed for them. Jinwoo knew he was typically the slow one of his friend group, but even he saw that coming, and he closed his fist around the set of keys.

“And now you're trying to steal my keys? What's wrong with you?”

“What's wrong with you?” the man countered with a scoff, and he grabbed Jinwoo's fist. “I want to see the keys!”

“They're mine!

“I've never seen keys before, let me look!”

Before Jinwoo could consider the absurdity of the statement, the man suddenly clambered on top of him. Jinwoo held his fist away as the man fought him for the keys. And, yeah, maybe this was how Jinwoo would die – a cute criminal vying to get the keys. He was pretty certain, too, from the huffing the man was giving, that he was getting a little pissed off. What would he do if he got the keys? And why was he so strong? He was peeling apart Jinwoo's fingers, displaying the tip of the keys.

“Let me see!” the man demanded, and he pulled at Jinwoo's wrist.

Jinwoo realized that fighting back would get him nowhere. The man was pulling hard enough, too, that going limp suddenly might be the best option. The man would probably tumble backwards and Jinwoo could use that distraction to get away as fast as he could. (His personal belongings could be replenished, maybe, if he made up a sob story and went to his parents for help.)

However, going limp didn't have the same effect that Jinwoo thought it would. Instead of the man falling backwards, he managed to pull Jinwoo's fist towards him, the keys slicing across his eyebrow – and then he fell back with a slight whimper.

Jinwoo scrambled away from him, breathing harshly and holding his keys to his chest. “It serves you right!” he scolded in between his panting. “For trying to take a man's keys-”

But the man, he realized, was bleeding. Even if it was dark, Jinwoo could tell that the man was gingerly touching the new wound that had most likely appeared and was wincing at the sight of the blood that might have been on his fingers.

Jinwoo felt a twinge of guilt, despite knowing full well that he had done nothing wrong.

“You-you made me bleed!” the man whined, and he looked up at Jinwoo. “I'm bleeding! Why are you so rude?”

“Me? Rude? Me, seriously?” Jinwoo fussed as he reached over to turn on the lamp. “You're the one trying to fight me for my keys!”

“I wanted to see them.” The man sounded so sad and so pitiful, and Jinwoo gave a slight tsk as he turned back to him.

“And I don't need you stealing them.” Jinwoo stuffed his keys in his pocket and knelt down towards the man. “Move your hand. Let me see.”

He wasn't sure what he was going to do about it. After all, why on earth would he help a criminal's wound?

The man was pouting again, and in the light, Jinwoo could see just how attractive he was. He was small and tanned and had beautiful brown eyes and full, plump lips. His hair was a dark brown, or a black, Jinwoo really couldn't tell, and he stared up at Jinwoo in slight anticipation. “You'll hurt me again, all because I can't look at your cool keys.”

“I won't hurt you,” Jinwoo assured, if only because maybe this criminal wasn't a criminal at all. Maybe he was just some cute, lost man who randomly climbed into Jinwoo's apartment for reasons still unknown. “I promise, I'll fix it and then you can look at my keys and then leave, alright?”

That seemed good enough for the man, and he carefully drew his hand away from his wound.

Jinwoo blinked.

“Um...”

“Is it bad?” The man looked worried.

“It's...blue.”

“What?”

The blood was blue. It was smeared around the wound and on the man's hand and it was still welling up, threatening to drip down the man's eyebrow.

“It's blue,” Jinwoo whispered, his eyes wide with shock.

The man stared at him. “That's because it's blood,” he repeated, also in a whisper.

“Blood is...is red.” Jinwoo was wondering if he was going crazy.

The man seemed just as confused, then he suddenly smiled brightly. “Oh! Maybe it is here, but on my planet, it's blue!”

Did Jinwoo hear that right? On his planet? What did that mean?

His breath was getting shorter as he stared at that blue blood. “It's...what? Planet? What?”

“I said, on my planet it's blue. I guess it could be red here, I'm not really sure.”

Jinwoo's heart hammered in his chest and his mind suddenly wrapped around the words this man was saying.

“Are you...an alien?

The man – no, the alien – giggled endearingly. “Nope! I think you are, though.”

“But...you're not from this planet?”

“Nope!” The alien looked unashamed of that.

Jinwoo blinked again, whispered out, “Oh my god-” and then the world went black.

 

Chapter Text

His coworker had asked him how he would spend his Friday evening.

“Oh, another one of Dongmin's blind dates,” Jinwoo had responded as he loosened the knot on his work apron. “And maybe this one will actually go well and I can end the day by relaxing on my couch and watch a movie, or something.”

It had been his idea of a perfect Friday evening, but it never came to pass. For one, the date definitely hadn't worked out. For another, he definitely wasn't on his couch watching a movie. Instead, as he blinked his eyes open from unconsciousness, he realized he was being clumsily dragged away from his living room.

And the man doing the dragging was none other than that alien.

(Jinwoo had always prepped for a worst case scenario, but this was way beyond a worst case scenario.)

“What the hell are you doing?!” he screeched out as he pulled away from the alien's grasp. Unfortunately, he forgot that his apartment was small and cluttered, and his head ended up smacking straight into his coffee table. He hissed in pain, and the alien dropped his foot.

“Oh my gosh, are you alright?” the alien rushed at him, but Jinwoo scrambled backwards all the more. He might have been in great pain, but there was no way he would allow this alien to touch him again.

“D-Don't touch me!” he warned, rubbing at his forehead in pain. The alien looked confused, adorably so once more, his chocolate brown eyes wide as he paused in his rush. “You're an alien!

“Well...no, you are an alien. I am just a normal person,” the alien scoffed, then plopped down on the ground in front of Jinwoo.

“You bleed blue blood.”

“And you bleed red blood!” The alien grinned. “So you're an alien!”

Jinwoo wondered why this alien thought he was the alien, when he clearly wasn't. “I'm from Earth, so I'm not an alien.”

“And I'm from Planet Seven!” The alien was sitting with his legs crossed, clearly expecting some form of conversation – which Jinwoo was not very willing to give, considering he still wasn't certain if this alien was going to abduct him or probe him whatever it was that aliens did to unsuspecting humans.

But no way was Jinwoo going to be an unsuspecting human. No, he was very much a suspecting human, and he suspected that this alien would probably try something funny. There was no way for an alien to be so cute and friendly and smiley.

“Planet...Seven?”

“Because we're the seventh planet in our system,” the alien exclaimed. “It's so nice that you guys call this place Earth. Do all the other planets here have names?”

If the alien was planning to do something nefarious, he sure was fantastic at hiding it. He had leaned forward now, his eyes bright with anticipation for Jinwoo's answer.

“I...I mean, yeah. We have, um, Mars, and Jupiter. Uh...Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, Venus – all different sorts.” He wondered why the alien was looking so amazed. He also wondered why he was sitting on the floor with a bruise slowly forming on his head as he explained planet names to an overly curious alien.

“They all have names?” The alien clapped his hands together. “Wow, you guys are really good at naming things! I like Venus, I think, the best out of all of those. Maybe I'll rename my planet Venus!” He leaned back up against the couch, clearly getting comfortable in his seated position, as he continued smiling at Jinwoo. “I should have tried to land on Venus, maybe, but I was actually just going to keep traveling, but then my ship started messing up and I had to do a quick crash-landing.” The alien used his hand to mime the crash-landing, noise effects and all. “It went sppppttt, and I tried fixing it, but I couldn't! And then, boom! I crashed into this huge area of water, except it was very salty, and why do you guys have salty water?”

Jinwoo didn't have time to answer. (He also didn't have time to wonder how the heck they even got on this subject.)

“And so then I decided to leave my ship behind, because I guess I'm stranded here! It's probably floated away on the giant area of water by now. Anyway, so I kept walking and walking, and I finally found some signs of civilization! So I took these clothes, because all I had was my dirty spacesuit, and-”

“Where did you get the clothes?” Jinwoo asked. Honestly, they didn't look bad. He wore a nice sweater, striped and oversized, the sleeves coming down past his hands, and a pair of baggy jeans – the flip-flops were an odd decision, but Jinwoo wasn't really here to be judging an alien's fashion choices.

“These?” The alien held up his arms and dangled the sleeves around. “Oh, they were in this one building. I saw them in the window, except their windows weren't open like yours are, so I had to force the door open myself.”

“Christ.” Jinwoo groaned and buried his head into his hands. Okay, so maybe this man was a criminal. This was fantastic.

The alien didn't seem to realize the severity of his actions, so he continued, “And I kept walking and walking, and these shoes are very uncomfortable for walking, so I was so happy when I finally found an open window! And I looked through all of your cabinets and finally found food in the cold one – what's that white stuff?”

Jinwoo looked up. “The what?”

“The white stuff? It's in a jar in your cold cabinet, it's really good, I was drinking a lot of it because I was so hungry.”

He had to take a few seconds to think that question through, then he gave a small, “Ah,” and nodded his head. “Milk. You drank my milk. Right from the jar, too-”

“Milk! What a cute name!” The alien giggled and Jinwoo wondered why he was so damn taken by an alien. “Right, then, the milk – is it okay if I drink all of that milk? It was one of my favorite things in this whole world.”

Well, his mouth had already touched it, Jinwoo figured, and he wasn't really in the mood to be getting alien germs, so he nodded his head in agreement. The alien gave a small “Yes!” in excitement, punching his fist in the air. “I now have milk – seriously, though, it's such a nice name!”

“Do...do you not have milk where you're from?” Jinwoo asked. He felt his body loosen up from some of the tension, and he wondered why he was getting so comfortable in front of an alien. At this point, he was supposed to be phoning the police. (Speaking of which, he wondered why Dongmin was taking so long to get here.)

The alien shook his head fervently. “We don't! We have water and...and other liquid-types of drinks. None of them have cute names, though. We don't really name too many things.”

“Do you have a name?”

“I do not! Sometimes people call me Seven, because I am the seventh member in my home, which is cool, I guess, because it's like the planet I live on.” He suddenly laughed. “But no one has any names!”

“No one?”

The alien shook his head once again. “Nope! You don't name people.”

Jinwoo stared at him for a few seconds. He wondered what sort of bizarre planet this was where they didn't have names for drinks or planets or for themselves. “I have a name.”

“You do?” As he expected, the alien looked completely surprised to hear such a thing. “Is it better than milk?

He hoped his name was better than milk. “It's, uh, it's Park Jinwoo.”

“Park...Jinwoo?”

Jinwoo decided that hearing an alien say his name, concentrating hard on making certain the syllables came out correctly, was probably one of the most precious things he had ever heard. “Park is my family name, so you can just call me Jinwoo.”

Jinwoo?

Jinwoo gave the alien a nervous smile and shrugged his shoulders. “Is it better than milk?”

“It's way better than milk! Jinwoo is my new favorite name! Why did you get a name, though? Are you important here?”

Jinwoo could have laughed at that. He wondered if the alien truly got a look over at his apartment or at his empty cabinets or at his stack of unpaid bills. “Hardly important,” he responded. “But everyone gets names on Earth. It doesn't matter who you are, you get a name.”

The alien stared at Jinwoo with wide eyes for a few seconds, and then suddenly bit at his lip. “But...I don't have a name. What are you supposed to call me? M-Maybe I can be milk?”

Jinwoo wondered if aliens had a tendency to act as pitiful as possible and force humans to do their bidding, because all Jinwoo wanted to do right then was find the alien a name. He looked so sad, so lost and lonely, so nameless, and Jinwoo hated seeing that look on such a cheerful face.

“Here-” He pushed himself up from his seated position, then moved aside some books on his coffee table to reveal his laptop. It was old, hardly running at this point, but it served its purpose just fine. Jinwoo sat on the couch and then, against his better judgment, patted the seat next to him. The alien just looked up with an inquisitive gaze.

Jinwoo gave a sigh. “Sit here.”

“Oh!” The alien did as he requested, that wide smile back on his face as Jinwoo booted up his laptop. “That is such a cute device you have, Park Jinwoo!”

“Just Jinwoo, is fine.”

“Just Jinwoo, then, you have such-”

“It's...Jinwoo.” Jinwoo glanced over at the alien, amusement tickling his heart and making him feel even more attached to such a dorky creature. “Jin. Woo.

“Oh, Jin. Woo.” The alien looked proud of himself, then patted Jinwoo's shoulder. Jinwoo didn't move away from his touch this time. “Cute device, Jinwoo!”

“Do you think everything is cute?” His laptop finally pulled up the internet, and Jinwoo went about researching names for the alien.

The alien giggled beside him. Jinwoo wondered why his heart seemed so satisfied with such a simple laugh. “Well, just things that are cute. Like milk, and this nice shirt I was able to find, and your device that you have, and Jinwoo.”

Did the alien just call him cute? Jinwoo glanced over for confirmation, but the alien's focus was no longer on him. Instead, he was looking around the house, and his eyes sparkled with the thousands of stars he must have seen personally before on his travels to get to Earth. Jinwoo wondered just how many planets he had come across, just how many other aliens had been blessed to get so much as a glimpse of this weirdly adorable creature.

He cleared his throat and forced himself to stop thinking such thoughts. It was a silly, ridiculous idea to get caught up in his daydreams. He was just a lonely bachelor, was all, and he couldn't attach himself to the first person to call him cute, regardless of how much his aching heart wanted to.

“Let's see,” he murmured, scrolling through a list of names he had found online. It was a baby-naming website, something he didn't think he would need so soon (or ever, really), but he figured it wouldn't hurt to choose something that fit this alien's personality.

“Maybe something like Eun-”

“I like that!” the alien announced, and Jinwoo blinked up at him.

“Well, I'm still going through these. Maybe it can be something starting with Tae?”

“That sounds great, too!”

“Are you just going to agree with any of them?” Jinwoo asked, exasperated.

And the alien nodded his head.

Really, all that meant was that Jinwoo could choose literally any name and the alien would be happy with it, but his conscious wouldn't let him do such a thing. Naming a person was such a large responsibility, and he had to ensure that it was perfect.

He went through various names in his head, all of which the alien eagerly agreed with, but none of them stuck for Jinwoo. And, finally, he asked, “Myung?”

The alien said nothing, waiting in anticipation for Jinwoo's next addition, and Jinwoo stared at the list he had made up. “Um...Myung...jun?”

“Is that it?” The alien's hands were clenched into fists, resting on his knees.

Jinwoo actually liked his choice, and he wasn't sure why the alien seemed so hesitant to accept. The name fit, very nicely, too, but if the alien rejected it, Jinwoo still had a few other names he could choose from. “If you don't like it, that's fine.”

“Is that my name?”

The alien swallowed thickly, and seemed about ready to say something else, but Jinwoo's front door suddenly burst open, and in stormed Lee Dongmin, looking both worried and pissed and also incredibly attractive at the same time. (How did Dongmin do it, and how could Jinwoo do it just as well?)

“I took a taxi to make the time go faster, but he took a wrong turn!” Dongmin exclaimed loudly, hurrying over to look at his friend. “And you never answered me after that scream, I thought you were dead-”

“And you still didn't call the police?” Jinwoo asked in amusement. Not that he would have wanted Dongmin to, anyway, especially since he now that he had an actual alien in his apartment.

Dongmin scoffed and smacked Jinwoo's shoulder before turning an angry gaze onto the alien, still seated and watching Dongmin seethe with wide eyes. “Are you the murderer in Jinwoo-hyung's apartment?”

Jinwoo sighed. “He's...actually, Dongmin, I can explain-”

“Is your name Dongmin?” the alien asked, interrupting Jinwoo mid-speech. He finally hopped up from the couch, bouncing on the balls of his feet and looking far too excited to be facing off with the very definition of a pissed-off mother-figure. “That's such a cute name-”

“Of course it is,” Jinwoo mumbled.

“My name is Mong joon-”

“Myungjun,” Jinwoo mumbled.

“Oh, Myung. Jun.” And the alien shot Jinwoo a grin, gesturing over to him. “Jinwoo named me! I was going to be milk, but he thought I could be named something even cuter, and it's probably the cutest name ever, right behind Park Jinwoo!

At least Dongmin's anger was mostly gone, but it was now replaced by pure and utter confusion as the alien (Myungjun, Jinwoo proudly reminded himself) continued to ramble on. “To be honest, I thought milk was the cutest name ever until he told me his name! And now that I have a name, it's not as cute as he is, but it – what is this?” Myungjun was great at interrupting people, it seemed, including himself, and he reached down to grab Jinwoo's oversized headphones, a gift that one of his coworkers had gotten him. Myungjun stared at it in amazement, and Jinwoo wondered how he hadn't seen it before. “Jinwoo, is this a communication device? It looks like one. Who are you communicating with, Jinwoo?”

Dongmin continued staring before snapping out, “Jinwoo, what the hell is going on?”

Jinwoo hadn't envisioned spending his Friday night having to explain to his very skeptical best friend that an alien had invaded his apartment in order to steal his milk.

 

Chapter Text

“An alien?”

Dongmin's hands were crossed over his chest as he shifted his gaze away from Jinwoo and over to Myungjun, who stared at him with a small, unsure smile.

“I know it's difficult to believe,” Jinwoo started, “but it's true. He's not human, at the very least, and he claims he's from some far-off planet.”

“It's really far,” Myungjun spoke finally, catching Jinwoo's attention. The alien was still staring up at Dongmin, looking a little nervous to be so heavily scrutinized. “Like...it took a pretty long time to get here. I lost track after a few days.”

“Oh?” Dongmin cleared his throat, and in that moment, Jinwoo knew Dongmin didn't believe a word that Myungjun was saying. “I suppose you crossed galaxies?” Myungjun nodded his head enthusiastically. “And I suppose you met various other aliens along the way, didn't you?”

Myungjun grinned, not recognizing the signs of Dongmin's skepticism. “I did! Lots of different sorts, but you two are probably the prettiest aliens I've met before.” He pointed at Jinwoo. “Especially him.”

Jinwoo wondered if Myungjun was blind. Jinwoo wondered if Myungjun was hit on the head harder than he originally thought. Jinwoo wondered why on earth Myungjun would choose him as the prettiest, especially when he was up against Lee Dongmin. Why would anyone ever decide that he was prettier than Dongmin? Dongmin was the epitome of beauty; he was tall and dark and mysterious, with wide eyes and thick hair and a smile to charm even the most stoic of women. And Jinwoo was, well, short, according to everyone he dated. Jinwoo was not quite anyone's type.

And yet Myungjun chose him as the prettiest.

Jinwoo felt like Cupid's arrow had just shot him right in his heart.

“He said I'm pretty, Dongmin!” Jinwoo whispered, despite the fact that Myungjun stood right within earshot. “Dongmin, he said I'm pretty!”

“I heard, Hyung.” Dongmin only looked vaguely irritated to have his beauty tossed aside like it didn't matter. “That doesn't make him an alien, though. Tons of people think you're better looking than me.”

“Name one.”

Dongmin bit his bottom lip and looked away in thought. “Um...we-well, uh, I'm pretty sure Minhyuk is rather impartial, and Binnie says that, even though I'm prettier, he thinks you come in close second, and I think you're prettier than myself-”

“Best friends are supposed to think that,” Jinwoo countered with a scoff. “And Minhyuk thinks that you-”

“What's a best friend?” Myungjun's sweet, angelic voice interrupted the two boys, and when Jinwoo glanced over, his eyes were wide with interest, and that smile was still plastered on his face. “Is Dongmin a best friend?

“Not to you,” Dongmin muttered, and Jinwoo smacked his arm.

“Dongmin's my best friend,” came Jinwoo's response. “And a best friend is, um...someone who cares for you, I guess, and who wants to protect you. Like how Dongmin wants to protect me from aliens.”

Myungjun seemed to understand, if the little ooh he gave was any indication of that (and that little ooh made Jinwoo's previous transgressions with the world disappear without a trace).

“I don't think you'll have to worry about aliens coming to this planet,” Myungjun assured Jinwoo with a little pat to his shoulder. “It's too far away and there isn't much reason to come out here.”

Jinwoo blinked, then rolled his eyes. “Well, you came out here, so-”

“How do you even know he's an alien?” Dongmin asked. He was back to being a skeptic again, regarding Myungjun curiously. “Like, does he turn into some sort of tentacle creature? Or does he spit acid? Or-”

Dongmin probably read way too many comics (or maybe Bin forced him to watch way too many horror sci-fi flicks). Whatever the case, Jinwoo just snorted, then gestured over to Myungjun's forehead. “He bleeds blue blood, which is how I figured out about this,” he replied, and then he pushed Myungjun's bangs aside to show off the wound from earlier. Blood was still smeared around it, bright blue against Myungjun's tan skin, and when Jinwoo's finger brushed into the cut, Myungjun winced. Jinwoo instantly felt bad; he had hurt this poor guy and hadn't even offered to fix it up.

“It's...blue?!” Finally, finally, Dongmin started to catch on to Myungjun's not-quite human nature. His eyes were wide, and he brought a hand up to his mouth to hide his gasp. “Ji-Jinwoo, blue blood! Is that even possible?

“Not on Earth.” Jinwoo was still focused on the cut (and trying not to focus on how close he was to Myungjun, and how Myungjun was only staring up at him). “Do me a favor and don't freak out, Dongmin,” he requested before allowing Myungjun's bangs to fall back over his forehead. Myungjun blinked nervously at Jinwoo. “And do me a favor and stay here.”

“Whe-Where are you going?” Now that Dongmin seemed to believe Jinwoo's story, he didn't look nearly as cool and as collected as he had before.

Jinwoo grabbed onto Myungjun's wrist, hesitantly at first, before wrapping his fingers gently around the alien. “Well, he cut himself on my keys, and I feel bad just letting him stand here with blood all across his forehead,” Jinwoo murmured in response, and he shot Myungjun what he hoped was a comforting smile. “So I'm taking him to my bathroom and putting a bandage over it, or something. Just...you stay here, okay, Dongmin? I'll be back in literally five minutes, and we can probably talk all of this through.”

He wasn't sure what they were supposed to talk through, however. The fact that Myungjun was an alien? The fact that Myungjun was an alien who Jinwoo was dragging off to his bathroom? The fact that Myungjun was an alien who Jinwoo may or may not find utterly adorable and attractive and everything he wanted in a partner?

Jinwoo was just as confused as Dongmin was, honestly, and as he sat Myungjun on the edge of his bathtub and rifled through his medicine cabinet, he wondered what he was supposed to do after cleaning up Myungjun's wound.

Myungjun didn't seem to catch onto Jinwoo's internal struggle. He just looked around the small bathroom in awe. “Is this the washroom?” he asked.

“Yup.”

“It's really nice, Jinwoo!”

Jinwoo glanced up. He wondered if Myungjun saw things differently than regular humans did, because the bathroom was far from nice. It was small and currently very cluttered with dirty laundry Jinwoo had yet to attend to. Still, when he caught eyes with Myungjun, the alien grinned widely and seemed extremely genuine. “Oh. Um, thanks, I guess. It could do with some cleaning, though.” He squatted in front of Myungjun and pushed his bangs up again, using a damp washcloth to wipe away the smeared blood. Once again, Myungjun winced, and Jinwoo felt slight guilt well up in his heart. “I'm sorry I didn't fix this sooner,” he mumbled. “I shouldn't have left it alone.”

“You don't have to apologize,” Myungjun replied brightly, despite how he was trying to shy his face away from Jinwoo's hand. “If I had a stranger from another planet come into my house, I might try to slice off their face, as well.”

“Slice off – I wasn't trying to slice off your face!” Jinwoo huffed, his cheeks turning red in embarrassment. Still, even if he knew he didn't do anything wrong, he still felt like he had somehow caused poor Myungjun's wound. “You were just grabbing at my keys, and I was trying to protect them.”

Myungjun was quiet for a few seconds before asking, “Why do you have keys?”

Jinwoo thought it was an obvious answer. “Because it's my apartment, so I need to make sure intruders don't get in.”

“Then why do you keep your window open?”

Myungjun actually had good questions. “Th-That was just a mishap. I won't do it again. I was rushing to go out on a date, and I guess I forgot-”

“What's a date?”

Aliens sure were an inquisitive bunch. Jinwoo felt like he was talking to a child, and as he finished cleaning up all the blood from around Myungjun's forehead, he responded, “It's when you go out to eat with someone you really like, or someone you might want to stay with for the rest of your life. Something like that.”

“Oh!” Myungjun hummed cheerfully. His eyes followed Jinwoo's every movement, and Jinwoo fumbled with the band-aid in his hand more than once. “So you went out to eat with a guy you really like?”

“Not exactly.”

“I'm confused, Jinwoo.”

Jinwoo couldn't help but giggle at Myungjun's lack of understanding. He gently placed the band-aid over the wound, smoothing it out before answering, “I actually didn't like him. He didn't like me back, either. He said it wouldn't work out between the two of us, because I'm too short.”

Myungjun suddenly reached a hand out and ruffled Jinwoo's hair. Jinwoo always prided himself on his hair, on fixing it nicely and constantly fussing over it, but Myungjun messing it up didn't even bother him right then (of course, if he truly thought it through, it was probably already messed up from his whole fainting ordeal). Instead, the hand running through his hair felt comforting, in a weird sort of way, and Jinwoo wondered if Myungjun knew exactly what he was doing. Maybe he had some sort of mind-reading powers. Maybe he could tell how weak Jinwoo had become for him.

But maybe not, because when he withdrew his hand, he proudly exclaimed, “You are really short compared to your best friend!”

“Not you, too!” Jinwoo groaned, and he plopped down on his bathroom floor in order to bury his face in his hands properly. Now even Myungjun was calling him short, and Myungjun certainly wasn't the poster child for tall, dark, and mysterious. “You weren't supposed to call me short, Myungjun!”

Myungjun tittered lightly before whispering, “I really love my name, Jinwoo.”

God, he was too cute. He was too cute, and even though Jinwoo wanted to be mad at him for solidifying his unflattering stature, he really couldn't. Myungjun was the absolute cutest person Jinwoo had ever seen in his entire life, even when he brought Sanha into the equation.

“But you're not tall, if that's what you wanted me to call you.”

Of course, he had to ruin all of his adorable qualities by continuing to poke fun at Jinwoo's height, even if it was clear he was simply trying to tell the truth.

“I just wanted you to inform me that I'm taller than I think I am,” Jinwoo whined, and he looked up at Myungjun with a pleading gaze. “And that maybe someday, someone will want to date me even though I'm short.”

“Maybe Dongmin will?” Myungjun helpfully suggested.

(Or, really, not so helpfully, because, ew.)

“Dongmin's my best friend!” Jinwoo announced, and he made a face. “I'm not dating my best friend!”

“Oh.”

“Besides that, he has a boyfriend. I don't think he'd want to ruin that relationship-”

“Jinwoo, what's a boyfriend?” Myungjun was looking intrigued again, excited to be learning new sorts of information. “Is it like a best friend?

Jinwoo sighed. “It's basically a best friend, except it's someone you go on dates with and spend lots of time with and...stuff like that.” He had never thought that he would have to describe what a boyfriend was to someone who seemed about his age.

But, then again, he never thought aliens existed, and yet here he was.

“Do you have a boyfriend? Since you have a best friend, maybe you have a boyfriend?” Myungjun was running his fingers over his bandage again.

“I don't. That's why I'm going on the dates, though. I'm trying to find one.”

“I hope you find one, then!” Myungjun exclaimed, and he stood from his seat. “Maybe Best Friend Dongmin will have some more dates for you if we ask him!”

Jinwoo stared up at Myungjun and wondered if looking at Myungjun was akin to looking at the sun. Myungjun shone like a sun, like one of those many distant stars in the sky, and Jinwoo wondered if Dongmin would find him weird for wanting to date an alien.

“Let's not ask him, though,” Jinwoo murmured as he, too, stood from his seat on the bathroom floor. If Myungjun asked, then Dongmin might actually have someone that he wanted Jinwoo to date, and if that was the case, then Jinwoo would have to date someone other than the alien he just met half an hour ago.

(Actually, it was a great idea – anything to get his mind off of his dreams of dating an alien.)

“What do we ask him, then?”

It was a difficult question to answer, if only because Jinwoo hadn't been planning on asking Dongmin anything. As such, he simply shrugged his shoulders as he led Myungjun back into the living room, where Dongmin was talking animatedly on his own cell phone.

“It's a communication device!” Myungjun breathed in amazement.

Dongmin heard it (because Myungjun was clearly not the quiet sort), and he glanced over at the two older boys. “Binnie, he's right here, he's seriously an alien in Jinwoo's apartment, and Jinwoo keeps giving him those big eyes he gives to other guys he finds cute-”

Oh, hell no. Not only was Dongmin really humiliating Jinwoo to his own boyfriend, but he was also giving away the secret that Myungjun was an alien. And, sure, maybe Jinwoo had given it away first, and maybe Jinwoo wasn't even sure why he was so upset that others knew about the alien, but he felt the need and the desire to protect Myungjun from all public interest. So he did the first thing he could think of doing: he snatched the phone out of Dongmin's hands and placed it to his own ear.

“Bin! Nice to, um, see you? Look, Dongmin is drunk out of his mind, so I'm sending him back to his place, okay? Go give him some hangover soup tomorrow!”

“He didn't sound-” Dongmin's boyfriend started on the other end, but Jinwoo wasn't going to have any of that.

“He's drunk, definitely. See you later, Bin!” And then he hung up, ignoring Bin's protests and glaring over at Dongmin. “What was that about?” he asked.

Dongmin frowned. “Jinwoo-hyung, that-”

“Why are you going around telling people about my alien?

Your alien?” Dongmin blinked in confusion. “Hyung, just half an hour ago, you called me panicking that you were about to die!”

That made Myungjun gasp suddenly, and he grabbed onto Jinwoo's arm. “Jinwoo, are you going to die?

“No, Myungjun, just – it's a figure of speech-”

“It isn't, though,” Dongmin cut in. “Give me my phone back, Jinwoo.”

And Jinwoo would have, because Jinwoo liked Dongmin and Jinwoo was a good best friend, but with Myungjun gripping onto him with such a worried expression, Jinwoo couldn't give the phone back – at least not without setting some ground rules. “So Binnie may or may not be aware that I have an alien in my house,” Jinwoo mumbled. “And if you love me at all, Dongmin, you're going to pretend like you're drunk and had no idea what you said and that Myungjun is just an old childhood friend of mine who's crashing with me for the week.”

“I did crash,” Myungjun whispered, and he glanced at Dongmin, adding on, “I crashed my spaceship in the big area of water, Best Friend Dongmin.”

Dongmin sighed loudly and ran his fingers through his hair. “Hyung, you have an alien in your apartment.”

“Thanks for pointing that out, Dongmin. I wasn't aware.”

“No need to get sarcastic. I'm looking out for you. What if he...you know?” Dongmin shot Myungjun an anxious glance before whispering, “What if he probes you?”

“Oh my god.” Jinwoo wanted to bash his head in a wall.

“No, Jinwoo-hyung, I saw a documentary on this once before! They probed a man, they stuck...they stuck devices in his-”

“Am I supposed to probe Jinwoo?” Myungjun asked, keeping his voice down just as low. “And, if so, what does that mean?”

Jinwoo refused to ruin Myungjun's innocent ears, and so he held out Dongmin's phone. “Take this back, keep talking to your stupid boyfriend about this, I don't even care. He won't believe a word you say, anyway. Just...Myungjun won't do anything like that to me. He's absolutely harmless. I mean, look at him and tell me that someone like this could do anything wrong, ever in his life. I mean, he called me cute, Dongmin!”

“A murderer would call you cute and you would die happily,” Dongmin complained.

Jinwoo wasn't going to deny that.

“Dongmin, I just think that I'll be perfectly fine and safe. Myungjun won't harm me, so you don't have to worry at all-”

“I can probe Jinwoo, if that's what he wants!” Myungjun blurted out.

Dongmin decided to stay.

 

Chapter Text

Jinwoo was well known among all of his friends for being able to sleep soundly, regardless of the circumstances happening around him. Which was why he was rather confused when Dongmin appeared shocked the moment he plopped into bed and instantly started to drift off.

“Are you seriously able to sleep, Hyung? With an alien in your living room?”

Jinwoo had nodded his head in response, though he didn't open his eyes.

Dongmin tried again. “He might probe you! He said he would if-”

“If I wanted it,” Jinwoo finished for his friend, finally rolling over to stare at him. Dongmin had taken up residence on Jinwoo's floor, cuddled in one of the spare blankets he had been able to find. It was obvious that Dongmin wasn't going to get much sleep through the night; even as he spoke with Jinwoo, his eyes continuously darted towards the door, as if afraid Myungjun would pop in any minute.

“And do you want it?”

Christ, of course I don't!” Jinwoo snapped at him, pulling his own blanket up to his chin. “He doesn't even know what it is, anyway, and I'm pretty sure he'd be horrified to find out.”

Dongmin was quiet for a few seconds, and just when Jinwoo was certain that he might actually be able to go to sleep for the evening, his friend muttered, “How do you know he'd be horrified? Maybe he'd like the idea of that.”

That was ridiculous; Dongmin was simply far too paranoid for his own good, and Jinwoo scoffed out, “He wouldn't.”

“How can you be sure of that, though?”

“Because he-”

Dongmin tried again. “What if he knows all about probing, and he's waiting for you to fall asleep so you won't suspect-”

“Fine, then!” Jinwoo pulled himself up out of bed, gesturing for Dongmin to follow suit. “Come on.”

“Where are we going?”

“We're going to explain, in great detail, all about probing, and all about that documentary you saw that talks about probing, and ask if he truly doesn't know,” Jinwoo responded with a huff. He opened his bedroom door, adding on with a whisper, “And then we'll see who's right.”

“Why are you whispering?”

“He might be asleep.”

Dongmin blinked, standing from his blanket. “Well, we need him to be awake to ask him this, don't we? So, um, does it matter how loud we talk?”

Jinwoo just rolled his eyes. Dongmin was really insensitive to the needs of aliens. Aliens needed sleep like regular humans, after all!

(Jinwoo knew, because Jinwoo had asked Myungjun, “Do aliens even sleep?”

And Myungjun, curled up on the couch with a blanket over top of him, nodded his head proudly. “Sometimes,” he started, a smile on his face, “I get five whole hours of sleep per night! Isn't that amazing?”

“Get more than five, please,” Jinwoo begged, wondering how terrible his day would be if he was awoken at five in the morning.)

Dongmin was the one leading the way, tip-toeing across Jinwoo's carpeted floors and looking very much nervous to be the one waking up an alien. However, he was the one who couldn't leave the whole probing nonsense alone, and so Jinwoo had no pity for him whatsoever.

“He doesn't probe people,” Jinwoo whispered suddenly, making Dongmin jump. “We should just go back to bed, because Myungjun is a nice alien, not a mean one. Only the mean ones probe.”

“You know nothing about aliens, Hyung.”

“I know that Myungjun is too precious to probe someone.”

“You're an idiot.”

And Jinwoo would have totally refuted that point had they not stepped up to the couch right then. Myungjun was fast asleep, his plump lips parted as he breathed deeply, and Jinwoo stared at him with wide eyes.

He was cute.

His hair was mused from the little bit of sleep he had already gotten, bangs brushed up from his sleeping position. The blanket was tightly wrapped around him, and his hands were curled into the sheet, gripping it tightly in order to keep it on top of him.

And Jinwoo had never seen any other person look as serene as Myungjun looked right then and there. His eyelashes were long and dark and beautiful, and his cheek was squished were it rested on the pillow.

Dongmin reached a hand out, and Jinwoo quickly grabbed it. “Don't wake him!” he hissed.

Dongmin blinked. “What?”

“Don't. Wake. Myungjun.” Jinwoo emphasized each word before pulling Dongmin back. He could hardly take his eyes off such an ethereal creature. “Dongmin, look at him!”

His best friend did exactly that, then glanced back at Jinwoo in confusion. “Okay? Now what? Can I wake him?”

“Why the hell would you want to wake someone so adorable?” Jinwoo snapped, and he gave a long sigh. “Oh my gosh, Dongmin, is it possible to fall in love so quickly? Dongmin, slap me, I think I love him.”

He hated Dongmin sometimes. Dongmin actually slapped him, and Jinwoo stumbled backwards.

“What the fu-?”

“You told me to!” Dongmin exclaimed, a little flustered. “I just...why are you fawning over an alien? Are you nuts? Not only do you barely know him, and not only did he break into your apartment-”

“Is it really breaking into my apartment if he just climbed in my window?” Jinwoo asked, pouting as he rubbed a hand over the red mark on his cheek.

Dongmin's angry look could kill a lesser man, and Jinwoo winced from such a glare. “Not only did he definitely break into your apartment,” Dongmin continued, “but he's an alien!

“As if I didn't know that.”

“Hyung, come on, you don't really want to fall in love with an alien, do you?”

If that alien was Myungjun, Jinwoo certainly did want to. However, Dongmin was his best friend, and maybe Dongmin had a point, albeit a small one. If he did end up falling in love with an alien, what would happen then? Sure, Myungjun was cute and seemed really sweet, but he wasn't a human in the sense that Jinwoo was. It was probably doomed from the start.

(Besides, if Jinwoo stopped to think about it for more than five seconds, Jinwoo really didn't know Myungjun, and Myungjun definitely did break into his apartment.)

Dongmin seemed well aware that Jinwoo was caving to his demands. He tightened his lips as Jinwoo gave a small sigh and nodded his head in a reluctant agreement. “Fine,” he murmured. “I don't want to fall in love with an alien. I mean, if Myungjun was human, you know for a fact I'd be all over him-”

“You already are all over him.”

“I mean, I'd be more all over him if he was a human.” Jinwoo's heart felt like mush whenever he so much as glanced at Myungjun. “But look at him, Dongmin! You can't look at that sleeping face and tell me he isn't ten types of adorable!”

Dongmin rolled his eyes, but he did glance over and shrug his shoulders. “I mean, not as cute as Binnie,” Dongmin responded, “but I guess I can understand the appeal.”

At least Dongmin accepted Myungjun's captivating aura, even if it was a bit half-hearted of an acceptance. Whatever the case, Jinwoo was satisfied with Dongmin's answer, and he nudged his friend's shoulder. “So, um, can we sleep?”

“What about the probing-?”

“Leave Myungjun alone about that! I'm not waking him when he looks like that!

Dongmin narrowed his eyes. “Promise me you're not falling in love-?”

“I promise, I promise.” Jinwoo shoved at Dongmin again. “So let's go back to sleep, alright? Myungjun's only guaranteed me five hours of it, and I'm going to get every second I can out of that five hours.”

Fortunately for him, Dongmin agreed not to mention the probing, at least not until Myungjun was awake.

Which was, as Myungjun mentioned, five hours after he had fallen asleep in the first place.

On top of being able to sleep regardless of the circumstances, Jinwoo was also very difficult to wake up, regardless of the circumstance. And the particular circumstance that did wake him up was Myungjun shaking him as Dongmin lay on the floor coughing and groaning.

Jinwoo cursed everything in the world when he yawned and blinked his eyes open to realize that the sun hadn't even come out yet. “Gosh, Myungjun, I want to go back to sleep,” he mumbled, burying his face in the pillow (mostly to ignore Myungjun's eyes, which shone with enthusiasm and the promise of a new day – maybe Myungjun was the sunshine, in which case Jinwoo had risen with the sun).

“I'm sorry, but I think I might have hurt Best Friend Dongmin.”

Dongmin was still sputtering, and Jinwoo sighed before rolling over to look down at Dongmin. “You okay?” he asked, and Dongmin shot him a glare. “You're getting real good at looking pissed off.”

Myungjun hovered nervously in between the two, looking quite unsure of what exactly to do. “I didn't know Best Friend Dongmin was on the floor, and-”

“He stepped on me!” Dongmin was finally able to blurt out with a gasp of breath. “That hurt!

“I'm so sorry!” Myungjun apologized, and he shook Jinwoo again. “Jinwoo has bandages, though, we can just bandage up your wound! Jinwoo, if you show me where the bandages are located, again, I can heal Best Friend Dongmin, and you can probably have five more hours of sleep!”

Five more hours of sleep sounded lovely, but he noticed Dongmin's fearful gasp and decided that he wasn't going to leave his scaredy-cat best friend in the hands of an alien. “Bandages are for when you're bleeding,” he mumbled as he forced himself to kick back his covers. “Is Best Friend Dongmin bleeding?”

“I'll bleed if you call me Best Friend Dongmin one more time, Jinwoo-hyung,” Dongmin snapped.

Jinwoo waved a hand and smiled at Myungjun. “He sounds fine, I guess. I don't think you did any harm.”

“He stepped on-”

But Jinwoo was going to ignore Dongmin in favor of staring at Myungjun, who seemed to be relaxing now that he was aware that he hadn't hurt anyone. (And Dongmin thought he was capable of probing – Jinwoo could have laughed at that.)

“I told you that you should stay in bed until I got you, though,” Jinwoo said, yawning again. He smacked his lips a few times before swinging his legs off his mattress. “Is everything okay?”

“Oh, yeah! I was just going to ask if I could have the rest of your milk.” Myungjun smiled sheepishly and brought a hand to his stomach. “I haven't eaten anything for a while, and I felt my stomach start to rumble, so if it's okay with you-”

“And I also told you that the milk was yours.”

That simple statement made Myungjun's eyes widen, and Jinwoo realized he had never seen anyone so excited over milk. And, somehow, it wasn't even as weird as it was adorable. Jinwoo found himself returning Myungjun's smile again, fondly this time as he stared up at the alien.

“Jinwoo, you are the nicest alien I've ever met!” Myungjun exclaimed cheerfully, and he turned around to leave, but Jinwoo grabbed his arm before he could do so.

“Wait – you said you hadn't eaten anything in a while?” he questioned, and Myungjun nodded his head innocently as a response.

Which would mean that milk certainly wasn't enough to hold off poor Myungjun's hunger. If he truly had gone for such a long time without eating anything, then why would milk make him full? Milk was a drink, and what Myungjun needed was a meal.

So Jinwoo, a man who valued his sleep more than anything else, stood from his bed and motioned for Myungjun to follow him. “Come on,” he said. “I'm making breakfast.”

Myungjun blinked. “What's that?” he asked, and Jinwoo wondered if he was breaking the promise he made to Dongmin to not fall in love, because Myungjun's curiosity and ignorance of regular things was extremely endearing.

“Something you eat in the mornings. It'll give you energy for the rest of the day.” Jinwoo looked down at Dongmin, who had now thrown his blanket over his head, shielding himself from the world (and hungry aliens). “Dongmin, do you want anything?”

“A normal life,” Dongmin whispered in a muffled response.

“I don't think that's something you can eat,” Myungjun responded, also in a whisper, and Dongmin rolled over, presumably so his back would face the two older boys.

Jinwoo shrugged his shoulders as he led Myungjun away. “It's fine. He's like this sometimes – real melodramatic because of things he has no control over.” And Dongmin's idealistic world of no aliens had been shattered completely; Jinwoo just hoped the guy wasn't imagining weird, probing aliens coming down to Earth.

(Also, he hoped there was no such thing, and that Myungjun was the only alien he would ever see.)

Once he arrived in the kitchen, he began peering into his fridge for something to make. He knew he had rice on hand, and probably some eggs, but his small salary really wasn't enough to pay for anything very extravagant. At the very least, he could feed Myungjun some cheap cereal he had picked up the other day, but it didn't seem fair to make Myungjun's very first Earth meal something he bought from the store.

“Eggs and rice sound good?” he asked.

Myungjun peeked from over his shoulder at the contents of Jinwoo's fridge. “Which one's egg and which one's rice?”

Jinwoo held back a smile as he pulled out a carton of eggs. “These are eggs,” he replied, opening the top of it.

Myungjun stared down at them in amazement before lightly brushing a hand over the top of one of the eggs. “Whoa,” he whispered, and his eyes grew wide when he looked back up at Jinwoo. “Jinwoo, do you eat this? How are you supposed to do that?”

“You...you, um, usually you cook it someway and just eat it like that, I guess.”

“I'll eat the egg, then, if you want me to.” Myungjun picked one up carefully, holding it as if it was the most fragile thing on the planet, and then brought it to his mouth. It was only then that Jinwoo realized what he was doing.

“I said you cook it!” he exclaimed, snatching the egg away from Myungjun. “You can't eat it raw!

“Why not?” Myungjun didn't look embarrassed – if anything, he just looked pitiful, and Jinwoo wondered just how hungry Myungjun truly was. “You said it's breakfast.”

Jinwoo couldn't blame Myungjun for the blunder, though, especially if he hadn't even been aware of what eggs were. “Once it's cooked, it's breakfast,” he muttered, pulling out his pan to cook with. “I'll make us some omelets.”

“What's an-?”

Before Myungjun could finish his question, though, Jinwoo reached out and ruffled his hair. Perhaps he did so more fondly than he meant to, smiling brightly over at Myungjun, and perhaps he was seeing things, but when he pulled his hand away, he detected a small blush rising to Myungjun's cheeks.

“I'll make it for you.” Jinwoo cracked a few eggs in a bowl, and Myungjun's blush died down in order to make room for his stare of amazement. “Then you'll know what it is.”

As he stirred the eggs, Myungjun asked more questions, and each one was answered with, “You'll see, Myungjun.”

He appreciated Myungjun's excitement, though. Typically, none of his friends liked his cooking very much, and the only person he ever cooked for those days was himself. He had always dreamed of having some cute guy compliment his cooking skill, which was exactly what Myungjun was doing.

(“You are very skilled at flipping the egg breakfast omelet, Jinwoo!”

“Thanks, Myungjun.”)

When the small, meager meal was laid out in front of Myungjun, Jinwoo wondered when was the last time that he had seen someone look so impressed at food. “It's not much,” Jinwoo said, passing over a fork.

Myungjun took it, unsure of what to do next, and so Jinwoo showed him. “You just cut into the egg like this-” He cut into his own and held up a piece. “And you eat it!”

But instead of putting his egg to his own mouth, he thrust it out to Myungjun, whose eyes followed its every move. “Here!”

“What...what do I do?”

“To eat? You just...you chew on it, I guess?” Jinwoo mimed what chewing was supposed to look like, and Myungjun still seemed hesitant. “Do you guys not eat on your planet?”

“No, we do, we just...it's liquid diets, mostly. That's...that's it. This is a solid food, isn't it? And I chew it?” Myungjun's knee jittered. “Gosh, it's been so long since I had something sort of solid.”

Jinwoo bit at his lip. Maybe this had been a bad idea, then. He probably should have asked about Myungjun's diet before assuming they ate the same thing. “I can make a smoothie-”

“I want to try your egg breakfast omelet, though, Jinwoo!” Myungjun exclaimed, and he snatched the fork away. “Is it...like this?” He bit down on the piece of egg, and after chewing exaggeratedly for a few seconds, he swallowed it.

Jinwoo stared as Myungjun's eyes lit up. “Is it good?” he asked.

He already knew the answer to that. Myungjun bounced slightly in his seat, then grinned widely. “This is the best, Jinwoo! Thank you so much for my egg breakfast omelet!”

“It's just...just an omelet.”

Jinwoo felt his cheeks get hot as Myungjun giggled. He knew he wasn't supposed to fall in love, or even fall into a crush, but Myungjun was so endearing that it was difficult not to. Jinwoo watched in adoration as the alien sped through the rest of the meal, chewing and talking suddenly as if it was second nature.

The end of breakfast came too quickly, and Jinwoo gathered the plates. “I'm really glad you enjoyed it!” he commented. “I mean, most of my friends hate it, because they say I can't cook, but I'm okay with basic stuff like this. I just can't believe you've never really had solid-”

“Jinwoo?”

Myungjun didn't sound as happy as he had just seconds before, and when Jinwoo looked over at his new friend, he realized how queasy he looked. “Are...are you okay?”

Myungjun shook his head hurriedly.

(And that was how Jinwoo learned that aliens got sick just as well as regular humans.)

 

Chapter Text

Jinwoo wasn't very used to allowing aliens to use his bathroom to puke in, but he figured that it was just another event to add to his list of “Weird Things That Have Happened To Me.” At the very least, it might be a great conversation piece (if he ever found friends other then Dongmin and Bin and his annoying coworkers).

Myungjun, too, seemed very shocked at what had happened, and as Jinwoo wiped the alien's mouth with a damp washcloth, Myungjun muttered, “Please don't tell Best Friend Dongmin that I'm weak and threw up your egg breakfast omelet.”

“He heard,” Jinwoo responded. He figured Myungjun was too busy vomiting to notice Dongmin poke his head in and explain, in a disgusted tone, that he would be taking his leave to stay away from a sick alien.

(“He just ate too fast, he isn't sick!” Jinwoo had retorted, but Dongmin kept his distance as if Myungjun was carrying around a deadly plague.)

Armed with the knowledge that other people were now aware of his embarrassing ordeal, Myungjun frowned and jutted out his lower lip in a pout. “Will Best Friend Dongmin hate me now?”

Jinwoo hated seeing such a forlorn expression on Myungjun's face, and he was determined to somehow make it vanish completely. “Honestly, I don't think he, um, he ever loved you in the first place,” he carefully answered, but it wasn't helping. Myungjun simply sighed and ducked his head into his chest. Jinwoo tried again. “Dongmin only likes studying, though.”

“He likes you.”

“That's because he knows me very well. We're best friends.”

None of this seemed to be doing anything except intensifying Myungjun's obvious sadness. “I don't have any best friends,” Myungjun replied in a mumble, and Jinwoo felt pity tug at his heart.

“Did you have best friends back on your planet?” Jinwoo asked. He already knew the answer, though, given Myungjun's confusion as to what a best friend was in the first place. Someone who had best friends wouldn't feel the need to ask questions about friendship.

And, as expected, Myungjun slowly shook his head, still refusing to look up and meet Jinwoo's concerned gaze.

He didn't elaborate. He simply stood there, still a little shaky and a little pale, rubbing one of his arms in slight anxiety.

Jinwoo chewed at his bottom lip for a few seconds before blurting out, “Let's go somewhere.”

Myungjun finally glanced over at Jinwoo. “What?”

“Let's go somewhere, Myungjun!” Jinwoo smiled brightly, hopeful that he could bring Myungjun's own smile back to him. After all, it was too dreary without the sunshine beaming in his face. “I mean, it's pretty early so there might not be too many people, and it's a clear day today. Like, um...there's a park right near my house that we can visit.”

Myungjun blinked. “A park?” he questioned. “What's a park?”

Jinwoo had never realized how much he took things for granted. Having to explain these simple, modern day conveniences made him figure that Myungjun's planet must have been dreary. “It's, um...it's a big area of land that's usually scenic, set aside for people to walk around in and enjoy. It's relaxing. There's a pond there, with-”

“What's a pond?”

“It's an area of water-”

“Like the one I crashed into?”

Jinwoo figured that they wouldn't get a chance to go to the park if he had to stand around and explain it all. People usually learned best from hands-on activities, in any case, and maybe if Jinwoo could point everything out, Myungjun would learn it easier that way. So he simply laughed and patted Myungjun's shoulder. “We'll discuss it when we get to the park. Let's, um, let's change your clothes – I've got some that you could borrow, if you'd like.”

Myungjun's eyes lit up, and that smile that Jinwoo so dearly missed came back in full force. “I can have your clothes?”

Borrow,” Jinwoo corrected. “Because I'm poor, and so I'll need them back when you're done.”

Myungjun didn't seem to care if he was only getting one day to wear a new outfit, though. He bounced lightly on his feet and nodded his head in enthusiasm. “Sure! I'll give them right back when I'm done! Will I look as cute as you in your clothes?”

“Cuter,” Jinwoo responded without thinking his words through. He tried to control his blush as Myungjun giggled and covered his mouth with his hands.

“I'll look cuter than Jinwoo?” Myungjun asked, his voice at a higher pitch than it normally was when he spoke.

God, yes, Jinwoo wanted to say. You already look so much cuter, you are just the cutest creature in the entire universe – all of them, all of the universes, however many there are.

Apparently, he did say it. He didn't remember moving his mouth, but Myungjun's eyes grew wide and he pointed at himself in shock.

“Y-You think I'm the cutest creature in all of the universes?”

He hadn't meant to say it, but since it was out in the open regardless, Jinwoo was at least going to stand by those words. He might have been short, and he might have been not exactly anyone's type, but he was at least honest enough to nod in embarrassment and clear his throat. “The...the cutest,” he declared.

Myungjun looked as if he had just won the lottery. “The cutest?”

“I'll repeat it a thousand times if you'd like, but shouldn't we go to the park?” Jinwoo didn't need his cheesy words replayed over and over again in his head. Fortunately for him, Myungjun nodded in agreement, though he still seemed ecstatic to have been called cute.

“Yeah! The park is good, a scenic area with a pond, which is water. I'm learning a lot today, Jinwoo!” Myungjun had a little skip in his step as Jinwoo led him into his bedroom and began rifling through his clothes. “What else is there at the park? I need to know so that I'm prepared for anything.”

Jinwoo snorted and held up a white sweater. “Spread your arms out,” he commanded in order to properly gauge Myungjun's size, then added, “There's nothing to be prepared for, Myungjun. We'll just walk down this path and enjoy whatever sights we find.”

“Like the pond?”

“Just like the pond. Here, you can wear this, and-” Jinwoo figured that he and Myungjun might have been about the same size, so he tossed a pair of jeans in, as well. “And once you're dressed, I have a jacket that you can borrow, since it's cold outside. And a beanie, to keep your ears warm. Oh, gosh, do you think you might need a scarf?” Jinwoo pulled out the articles of clothing he had mentioned, more or less talking to himself at that point. “I mean, it'll keep your neck warm, but I'm not sure whether or not it's overkill. Myungjun, do you-”

Myungjun, however, had gathered everything up in his arms, including the red, wool cap, looking incredibly pleased to have gained so much at once. (At least he wasn't stealing clothes anymore, and Jinwoo prayed that there were no video cameras installed at whatever location Myungjun had broken into.) “Can I wear all of this?” the alien asked.

“If...if you want. It might not be that cold-”

“I'll wear it all!” Myungjun deposited the clothes on Jinwoo's unmade bed, and without a word of warning, he began to remove the sweater he currently had on.

Jinwoo blinked, seeing the tanned skin of Myungjun's bare back, then quickly turned away and crossed his arms over his chest. Apparently, Myungjun's kind weren't too fond of privacy. (Jinwoo had already guessed as much.) “Y-You aren't supposed to change in front of me!” he exclaimed.

“You can leave, then,” came Myungjun's muffled reply (probably from pulling on the new sweater).

And he was right. Jinwoo had no reason to stand around there, and so he hurried out of the room, making sure to add, “Come out with me once you've changed!”

He closed the door behind him, perhaps a bit more loudly than he meant to, but he was in a slight panic. He had an extremely attractive man in his bedroom getting dressed – oh, god, and he couldn't even talk to anyone about it! Dongmin wouldn't listen, on account of Myungjun being an alien, and Bin probably wouldn't care (and if Dongmin had gotten to him at that point, Bin might have been well-aware of Myungjun's status). Minhyuk might listen, and so Jinwoo pulled out his phone and excitedly sent a text: I have a hot guy getting changed in my bedroom.

It only took a minute for Minhyuk to reply: pics or it didn't happen.

Jinwoo huffed and angrily stuffed his phone back in his pocket. Like he would take pictures of poor Myungjun getting dressed! Minhyuk might have had a rotten heart, but Jinwoo was full of nothing but kindness and innocent and purity.

Not nearly as much as Myungjun, though. Myungjun seemed to be the true definition of a pure soul, and Jinwoo refused to do anything to taint it.

Still, he lamented the fact that now no one would ever believe him. It was a pity, really, because he thought he was quite the catch – it sucked that his friends were well-aware of his lonely bachelor lifestyle.

He grew tired of waiting after two minutes. He was alone with his thoughts, and they weren't thoughts filled with too much self-confidence. He needed company in order to take his mind off of his own shortcomings.

“Myungjun?” he knocked on the door to his bedroom and cleared his throat. “Hey, Myungjun? Are you done yet?”

Myungjun replied, “I'm covered, if that's what you wanted to know, but I can't figure out this scarf!”

As he was given the sign that the coast was clear, Jinwoo entered the room. Myungjun turned to face him, and Jinwoo blinked.

He was cute.

Jinwoo wasn't sure how many times he had thought that within the past twelve hours, but Myungjun was really, really adorable. The sweater was a little too broad on the shoulders for him, displaying a rather baggy fit, and while the jeans looked good, the hat was probably what topped it all off. It was pulled over Myungjun's hair messily, lopsided and brushing up some of his bangs past the bandage. The scarf draped down Myungjun's side where he had tried to wrap it once around his neck, a little too tightly – all in all, he looked bundled up and warm and utterly precious.

Jinwoo wondered if hearts could coo, because he was certain his just did.

“Oh, gosh,” he mumbled, and he ran his fingers through his hair. How was he supposed to cope with Myungjun? “Alright, um...let me just-” He stepped forward to straighten the hat and to flatten Myungjun's bangs. He then focused on wrapping the scarf correctly; as loosely as possible while still trying to protect Myungjun's bare neck from the winter elements.

And Myungjun watched him all the while, those warm, brown eyes never once wavering in their inquisitive stare of Jinwoo's actions.

Jinwoo fumbled a few times from such a gaze, but when he managed to finally pull back, he realized that he liked seeing Myungjun wear his clothes.

(Dongmin would slap him again if he knew those thoughts had even crossed Jinwoo's mind.)

“Perfect,” he murmured when he had the chance to admire Myungjun's full self once again.

“Your clothes are perfect!” Myungjun responded.

Jinwoo didn't correct him – the clothes were cheap, Myungjun was perfect.

“Oh, but...you'll need more than just flip-flops. I have a pair of extra boots you can borrow, because these probably will-”

“I get to wear more of Jinwoo's clothes?” Myungjun practically squealed, and he plopped down on the floor and patted his feet, bare of socks or shoes in general. “I can put them on if you hand them to me!”

He did good with the boots, at least. Jinwoo let him borrow a pair of socks, as well, and once Myungjun was situated, he hoisted himself up off the ground and gave himself a quick pat-down. “Do I look good, Jinwoo? Do I look as good as you?”

Jinwoo's breath was taken away. “D-Do I look good?”

“You always look good! I mean, in the short time span I've known you, you are the best-looking Earth person I have ever seen!”

Myungjun was so genuine, but Jinwoo still had to double-check. “Even against Dongmin?”

“Best Friend Dongmin looks good, too, but I think you are the cutest one.”

Jinwoo wondered if he was allowed to squeal. He held back, though, and instead shot Myungjun a large grin. “I can't believe you actually think that. Seriously, it's the first time anyone has told me I look better than Dongmin.” And he loved it. He relished in it, and he felt incredibly blessed that the stars he hated just hours before had decided to reward him with an alien who gave heartfelt compliments.

“You do, though!” Myungjun clapped his hands together, quite ready to move on with their day. “Can we go visit the park and the area of water that you call a pond, Jinwoo? I'm all dressed.”

Jinwoo agreed with a nod of his head, but Myungjun stopped him. “You said it was cold, but you're going out in light clothes?”

It was then that Jinwoo realized he was still wearing what he had worn to sleep, so after shooing Myungjun out of his room with explicit instructions to “not touch a single thing,” he, too, dressed himself in his warmest clothes (minus the scarf, as Myungjun looked far too cute in it for Jinwoo to take away).

He came back out to find Myungjun going through his pantry and looking at the boxes of cereal in amazement.

“So much for don't touch anything,” Jinwoo mumbled as he cleaned up the boxes of food Myungjun had tossed aside. “Don't you want to go to the park, Myungjun?”

“Yeah!” Myungjun cheerfully announced, and he dropped the cereal box he was holding. “Let's go!”

(Jinwoo left the mess as it was – he could clean up the fallen cereal later, but he wasn't sure when he would get the chance to take a cute alien to the park again.)

The walk there was short, thankfully, and there weren't too many cars out on the road, considering it was still rather early in the morning. Myungjun seemed impressed by the cars that did drive past. “Is that a transportation device?” he asked in complete awe as he stared one down. “Is that how Earth people travel?”

“It's called a car,” Jinwoo responded. “And, yeah, it's how we travel.”

“It's like a tiny, slow spaceship on wheels!” Myungjun whispered in excitement. “We don't have these on my planet!”

Jinwoo hummed lightly, stuffing his hands in his pockets. His breaths came out in short puffs of smoke, and his nose was turning red already from the delightful cold breeze that nipped at it. “So you guys just use spaceships to travel?” he asked.

Myungjun shook his head, then thought better of it and nodded. Jinwoo stared at him in amusement. “Yes? No? Which one is it.”

“Both? Um, we travel in space with spaceships, but on my planet, we just sort of walk wherever we need to go.” Myungjun giggled. “I wish I came here sooner, though. This planet is amazing! You guys have cars, and you guys have all these places with clothes to wear, and water, large bodies of water, and milk, which is the most perfect liquid drink in the world, and your egg breakfast omelets are even better-”

“You threw them all up, though.”

“Jinwoo!” Myungjun whined, and Jinwoo had to hold back laughter. “I just got sick from eating too quickly, you know that! If I had eaten slower, it would have been the most perfect meal of my entire life! Was it your most perfect meal of your entire life?”

The eggs hadn't been that great, honestly, and it was a light meal. Jinwoo had been to fancy restaurants before when he was younger and living with his parents, and he was currently a waiter at one, and he had eaten from Minhyuk's cooking before – and yet none of those could compare to how perfect Myungjun had made that one meal.

He was falling too quickly.

“It was average,” he responded. “I'll let you try something even better next time, though.”

“Even better than perfect?” Myungjun asked, and he looked shocked. “Is there even such a thing?”

“Sure. It's called not my cooking,” Jinwoo joked, and Myungjun offered him a grin at that.

They arrived to the park in record time (Jinwoo couldn't be slow and languid when Myungju nwas around, it seemed). Jinwoo was used to coming in the late afternoon, where children would be running around and parents would be talking off near some benches. Right at that moment, though, when the sun had only just risen and the day was still bitter cold, it was mostly empty.

He looked over at Myungjun in order to assess his expression.

Myungjun's eyes were wide as he stared at over the landscape. “Is...is this a park?” he whispered.

“Yeah,” Jinwoo whispered back.

(Why were they whispering? Jinwoo had no clue, but he would keep it up as long as Myungjun was doing it.)

“Jinwoo, it's so green! It's green and – oh my gosh, look at all these plants! And the trees, there's trees here, right near your apartment, Jinwoo!”

His excitement was contagious, and Jinwoo found himself starting to grin. “I guess you haven't seen too much of this, have you?”

“No! Can I touch one of the plants, Jinwoo? Please, I won't even hurt it, I just want to-”

“Of course you can! Here-” Jinwoo led Myungjun over to one of the flowers, still persisting despite winter's chill. He bent down and poked the yellow bud. “Just like that.”

“Just like that?”

Myungjun still seemed unsure, but he followed Jinwoo's lead, poking at the flower before taking to stroking it's leaves. “I like this,” he murmured, smiling brightly. “Jinwoo, this is probably my favorite place ever.”

Out of all the planets Myungjun might have gotten the chance to see, he chose Earth as his favorite. He chose this park as his favorite, and he had already chosen Jinwoo as his favorite. Jinwoo wondered why the stars had rewarded him so generously.

Jinwoo also wondered if the stars would allow him to touch Myungjun's hand. He wondered if the stars would allow him to hold Myungjun's hand.

He would test the stars' patience.

He reached out his own hand, determination forcing his arm forward, but then Myungjun gave a loud gasp and jerked backwards. He fell on his butt on the dusty path they had taken. Jinwoo wondered if he would be required to brush the dust off of Myungjun's butt.

(Jinwoo decided the stars might smite him if he did that, as much as he wanted to.)

“What's wrong?” he asked the alien.

Myungjun shakily pointed at something in front of him and hissed. “What is that? Jinwoo, it might kill us!

All sorts of things crossed Jinwoo's mind; it could be a criminal, or an escaped tiger from a zoo, or possibly a car that had somehow gotten out of control.

But when he looked up, all he saw was a squirrel.

That couldn't have been what had Myungjun so scared, but the squirrel's tail twitched and Myungjun scrambled to hide behind Jinwoo, whispering, “Should we run?!”

Jinwoo sighed.

Myungjun was scared of squirrels.

 

Chapter Text

It took Jinwoo far longer than he thought it would to explain to Myungjun that squirrels were not dangerous, and he would not be killed by a squirrel.

“Are you sure?” Myungjun whispered as if the squirrel could hear him. “Because it keeps darting around, and that means it's very fast, and it's usually the small, fast creatures that can kill you.”

Jinwoo couldn't really imagine a squirrel going after anyone in the first place, so he simply shook his head. “It won't do that, Myungjun. I promise.” The alien was still on the ground, regarding the little creature in curiosity as it burrowed for acorns. To make things less awkward, Jinwoo squatted down beside Myungjun and cleared his throat. “I mean, honestly the most if will do is chatter at you from a tree.”

“He can talk?”

“No, I mean...he talks in his language.”

“What language is that?” Myungjun questioned. “Do you speak it?”

Jinwoo tried to hide his smile behind his hand the best he could. Explaining such simple concepts to an alien might have been difficult, but it never failed to amuse Jinwoo completely. “I don't speak it, no. It's just an animal language, Myungjun. All animals communicate in their own way. Um...I guess, for example, dogs bark and cats meow-”

“Are these animals, too? Dogs and cats?” Myungjun's fear seemed to have subsided slightly, and he turned his gaze to Jinwoo. Jinwoo hadn't seen such childlike intrigue in such a long time, and Myungjun's excitement to learn about new things was rather refreshing.

“Yeah. Dogs are...dogs are normally bigger than cats. Cats have pointy ears and whiskers and claws-”

“Claws?” Myungjun understood that, and he grimaced. “That's a dangerous animal, then.”

Jinwoo shrugged. “Depends on the cat. Some cats are mean, but some are nice.”

Myungjun nodded his head slowly, as if he actually was able to grasp that concept, then murmured, “I bet, then, that some squirrels are mean and some squirrels are nice. And I think this one may be a nice one, but one day I might run into a mean squirrel, Jinwoo.”

He couldn't hide his smile then. He snorted, and Myungjun glanced over at him sharply. “S-Sorry,” Jinwoo choked out, and when it became obvious that he was laughing, Myungjun's eyes widened.

“You're laughing at me!”

“I-I-I'm not! I just – I just remembered something-”

“No, you're laughing at me!” Myungjun scoffed and shoved Jinwoo.

Jinwoo was unable to keep his balance, and so he fell on his bottom right beside Myungjun, laughing all the harder at that.

“Stop laughing! I was serious, what if I run into an evil squirrel – Jinwoo, this isn't a laughing matter! It could be a life or death situation!”

He had managed to survive the few hours of the morning without giggling too much at Myungjun's obliviousness to how things worked on Earth, but he was unable to hold it in for that much longer. It was cute and endearing that he had to teach an alien how things worked on this planet, but it was also somewhat hilarious to hear the ideas and thoughts Myungjun would blurt out.

Also, imagining an evil squirrel running at Myungjun was too good of an image to pass up, and Jinwoo found that he really couldn't control his laughter.

In response, Myungjun shoved him again, and Jinwoo fell over on his side, holding onto his stomach as he attempted to catch his breath again.

He finally did fall silent, and he had to wipe some tears from his eyes as he gazed back up at Myungjun, who was leaning in close to him with a frown.

“I'm serious,” Myungjun whispered.

“Are you, now?” Jinwoo responded, breathing harshly.

Myungjun nodded his head, very seriously, and Jinwoo commended him for staying so straight-faced throughout the whole ordeal.

“You don't have to worry, Myungjun, about evil squirrels.”

But Myungjun didn't look convinced. He chewed down on his lip and averted his stare, turning his head back to watch the squirrel, which had scurried farther away from Jinwoo's movements.

Maybe he was being cruel. After all, it was Myungjun's first time visiting Earth, and he had never seemed to encounter such things beforehand. He could only imagine how much he would freak out if he had to visit Myungjun's planet, which apparently didn't have milk or solid foods or headphones or squirrels.

So he sat up, clearing his throat, and muttered, “If an evil squirrel does come at you, I'll protect you, Myungjun.”

He had expected Myungjun to look excited at that. At every other thing he said, Myungjun seemed ready to jump up and down with joy, but with this promise, Myungjun just raised an eyebrow.

“How?” he asked.

Jinwoo blinked. “How what?”

“How are you going to protect me from evil squirrels?” Myungjun pursed his lips mockingly. “You don't have any weapons. I should know, I looked over your house.”

“When the hell did you do that?”

“You were asleep. And when I was changing, I scanned your room, as well. I don't see any weapons.” He hummed slightly, then pointed at his forehead, where the bandage still covered his wound. “Unless you use those keys you have! That can cause some serious damage right above the eyebrows, Jinwoo, I know this from first-hand experience. So if a squirrel comes at me in an attempt to kill me, do you promise that you will slice above the squirrel's eyebrow?”

Jinwoo was going to respond, because he would certainly protect Myungjun from evil squirrels any day of the week (though he wasn't sure if he could ward them off with his keys), but then Myungjun suddenly gasped. “I never thought, though – do squirrels even have eyebrows?”

It was something Jinwoo had never given any thought to, either, and he was suddenly just as curious as Myungjun was. “You know what, I'm not actually sure.” He pushed himself up off the ground, then held out a hand for Myungjun to grab. “Why don't we go investigate that?”

“How do we investigate?”

“There's only one way to investigate whether or not a squirrel has eyebrows, and that's to find a squirrel and examine it.”

Myungjun didn't look convinced, but he took Jinwoo's hand regardless and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet. “Not that squirrel, though,” he muttered, pointing over at the innocent creature with a face full of distrust. “He's going to probably eat me.”

Apparently, Myungjun couldn't be convinced that a little squirrel wouldn't hurt him, and so Jinwoo had no choice but to agree. “We'll find a different squirrel,” he promised. “Don't worry.”

Unfortunately, it seemed that most of the squirrels were still sleeping in the early morning hours, or else they were looking somewhere new for their food. Myungjun wasn't deterred from his mission, however, and even when Jinwoo mentioned that perhaps they should give up their quest and continue the walk in the park, Myungjun just waved him off.

Jinwoo didn't know that aliens were so rude, but he wasn't going to fuss at someone as cute as Myungjun, so he simply rolled his eyes and trudged along.

Myungjun stopped him suddenly at one point, after half an hour of playing seek-and-find with the nonexistent squirrels. “I found a huge squirrel!” he announced. “Jinwoo, I think this one's evil, too. We definitely need to turn back – you have your keys on you, right? We might have to fight it off.”

It was a dog. A fluffy dog with a fluffy tail, and maybe it looked like a squirrel to Jinwoo if he cocked his head and squinted his eyes and pretended he wasn't looking at a dog.

But, of course, to an alien with no idea of how other creatures looked, it was definitely a big squirrel.

“It's a dog, actually,” Jinwoo replied helpfully.

“A dog – the dog that is bigger than a cat and – did the dog bark or meow?”

“Dogs bark. Cats meow.”

Now that it was coming closer, Jinwoo was able to see the person walking alongside of it; so did Myungjun.

“That person trained it?” Myungjun whispered his question with round eyes. “It looks so evil! And it might bark at him! How did he do that?”

“It's not evil.”

“I don't believe that for an instant.” Myungjun moved to hide behind Jinwoo. “It'll eat us if we don't run right now.”

Jinwoo loved dogs, and if he was going to be spending a lot of time with Myungjun (and, so far, it looked like he would – he didn't trust the alien to live by himself right yet), he might as well spread his love of dogs. “Okay, look...let's go up to it-”

“Are you insane?”

“Listen, Myungjun. Let's go up to it and I'll pet it. You can stay back a little bit, and if it tries to kill me, then I'll say you were right and we'll use my keys on it and never touch another dog again. But if it doesn't try to kill me, you have to pet it, too, okay?”

Myungjun was chewing on the inside of his cheek, eyebrows knit together in worry. “If it tries to kill you, I-I don't have a weapon in order to rescue you.”

That made Jinwoo sigh – as it turned out, the only way to properly convince Myungjun along with the plan was to actually hand over his apartment keys. Myungjun looked pleased with the gift, and Jinwoo wondered if he would actually be able to tear them away from Myungjun when he needed them back.

“Ready?” he asked as Myungjun held the keys in amazement.

Myungjun no longer seemed worried about possibly dying. He just nodded his head proudly and followed Jinwoo, keeping a short distance between them.

Jinwoo greeted the stranger, making certain to compliment his fluffy dog, adding in his question, “Do you mind if I pet it?”

“No, go ahead!” the man urged. “She's friendly, I promise.”

And so Jinwoo got to pet a dog, and he realized it was probably the best day he would have in a whole month; he found a cute alien who seemed to like him well enough and he got to pet the prettiest dog he had seen in weeks.

It would probably be a perfect day if Myungjun got a chance to pet the dog, as well, and so he gestured for the alien to come over.

“Can my friend pet her? He's scared of dogs, but he's, um, trying to get over his fear.”

The man nodded as Myungjun shuffled over nervously, holding the keys tightly in one hand. He glanced at Jinwoo for support, and Jinwoo smiled calmly at him. “It's okay, Myungjun. She won't do anything. You saw how friendly she was, didn't you?”

Myungjun didn't answer. His other hand stretched out slightly, and the dog sniffed the air. Suddenly, though, she seemed alert, and Jinwoo saw it coming before he had a chance to properly react: she barked.

She barked loudly, directing it straight toward Myungjun, and he gave a screech before scrambling backwards. “She'll kill me, Jinwoo!” he yelped, and Jinwoo fully expected him to run.

Instead of fleeing the scene, though, he grabbed onto the back of Jinwoo's shirt and pulled him. Jinwoo almost fell from the force, but he caught himself at the last minute. “Myungjun-”

“Jinwoo, we have to run! I can't protect you if you're this close to it!”

The man was trying to soothe his dog, and he when he was unable to, he bowed in apology and tugged her away from the two boys.

“Jinwoo, you didn't run! You should have run!”

Now that Jinwoo was able to get a good look, Myungjun really did seem scared. His hands were trembling ever so slightly as he pulled again on Jinwoo's shirt, weaker this time, his eyes filled to the brim with fright. “We both could have died!”

As far as Jinwoo was aware, the dog had most likely smelled something unfamiliar and unknown.

(And, great, now Jinwoo wondered how Myungjun smelled. He would have slapped himself if Myungjun wasn't staring at him still.)

In any case, the dog wasn't trying to be mean, but Jinwoo knew that there was no way Myungjun would believe him now. Dog Meeting Number One: failure. Big, fat failure, and now Myungjun would probably never go near another dog as long as he remained on Earth.

Jinwoo sighed and shook his head, gently removing Myungjun's hand from his back. In response, Myungjun wrapped his fingers around Jinwoo's wrist, not quite ready to let go.

“Myungjun, calm down. I promise, it wasn't trying to kill you. It was just barking. That's how dogs communicate.”

Myungjun took a few seconds to steady his breathing. “So...so squirrels chatter and dogs bark? Was it just communicating with me?”

It wasn't doing that, exactly, but if he tried to explain it, Jinwoo knew that things would just become all the more complicated. He shrugged his shoulders instead. “Most likely, yeah. I don't think she was going after you on purpose. It's probably because she sensed you're an alien, and not human.”

Myungjun seemed to be processing all of the information he had been given. “So the dog wasn't trying to kill me?”

“Nope.”

“Oh.” Myungjun released Jinwoo's arm finally.

(Jinwoo missed the warm and protective feel of Myungjun's hand.)

“Oh,” Myungjun repeated, and he rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “Now I feel rather silly, Jinwoo. Do you think the dog knew I was going to stab it above its eyebrow?”

“I doubt it.”

Myungjun stared at the dog from his safe distance, then murmured, “Actually, I didn't see any eyebrows. So dogs don't have eyebrows, and we haven't determined whether or not squirrels have eyebrows.” He snapped his fingers. “Next I need to find one of those cats and see if they have eyebrows. The one who has eyebrows is probably the one closest to a person, and therefore that one might be the most intelligent one, which means I might be able to learn to speak its language.”

Jinwoo could picture Myungjun bending down and meowing at confused cats, and the thought made him hold up a hand to cover his smirk, once again. This time, Myungjun didn't notice, and he continued to ramble theories about cats being the ultimate lifeform on the planet - “Except for you, Jinwoo, I think you come way above everything else!”

He had come in at just the right time of the (one-sided, on Myungjun's part) conversation, and he stared at the alien in surprise. “Excuse me, wha-what was that?”

Myungjun blinked. “What was what, Jinwoo?”

“What did you say about me?” Maybe he yearned for affection, though he tried telling himself that he wasn't that needy. Still, after hearing his dates nonstop describe him as someone they wouldn't ever be with, after being rejected multiple times and left to pick himself up and try again, having someone actually spout compliments about him helped give him slightly more confident in himself.

It also made his heart beat fast and his whole body feel warm, but he would definitely take those side-effects in order to hear such nice words.

“You, um, you come way above everything else,” Myungjun responded, looking slightly unsure of his words. “Not in terms of physical height, but in-”

Well, there it was. The stars must have sent Myungjun to mock him for being short – and it must have been quite the evil gift, considering Myungjun was just tall enough to say such things.“You ruined it, Myungjun. I told you not to mention the height.”

Myungjun looked sheepish; at least his fear had ebbed away. “Sorry, Jinwoo. I don't think you're super short, though. You seem to come up to my height, at least, which is still smaller than a lot of other aliens I've seen-”

“Stop ruining it.”

“You're the best, though!” Myungjun assured, and he held out his hand. Jinwoo made a move to grab it, to hold onto it, but then he realized that Myungjun was just trying to give back the apartment keys. “I guess I won't be needing this anymore, will I? As long as we don't run into anymore evil squirrels, and you already said you'd fight off an evil squirrel, didn't you?”

He had, and looking up at Myungjun's bright, cheerful expression, he still meant every word of it. So he took the keys with a smile, staring at them fondly before turning that same stare onto Myungjun.

“Let's go get some coffee, Myungjun,” he offered. He was poor, sure, but Myungjun was probably hungry, and Myungjun really deserved to know more about this world if he was going to stay for the long-run.

And as they walked down the path again, Myungjun rambling his ideas of what coffee would taste like (“Not as delicious as your egg breakfast omelets, Jinwoo!”), Jinwoo did hope that Myungjun would stay forever.

 

Chapter Text

Coffee was, as Jinwoo learned, not exactly Myungjun's favorite thing in the whole world. And Jinwoo did try everything he possibly could to make the experience better for Myungjun, until he finally gave up and asked the barista for a cup of milk instead.

She looked confused, but she poured it, regardless, and Myungjun brightened up considerably as he sipped on it.

“I still find it really bizarre that you don't have milk where you're from,” Jinwoo muttered as they took a seat near the windows. Myungjun stared in amazement at the cars passing by and the people heading off to work. “I mean, aren't there any cows?”

Myungjun couldn't tear his eyes away from the scene laid out just beyond the cafe walls. “What's cows?”

“They're bigger than squirrels and dogs, and they have different colors and big eyes and they make moo sounds.”

Myungjun blinked. He still didn't look over. “Sounds dangerous. What do cows have to do with milk, though?”

“Cows make milk.”

Finally, that seemed to be enough to draw Myungjun's attention. The alien looked at him with wide eyes. He had a milk mustache. “Is there a recipe? I'd like to make milk!”

Jinwoo had to make certain he didn't snort out his coffee as Myungjun enthusiastically awaited his response. “It's...a natural process,” he explained, and all he really wanted to do was laugh. “Cows make milk.”

“Myungjun will make milk.”

“It doesn't work like that. Let's just stick with drinking cow milk, okay?” Jinwoo smiled fondly at Myungjun, who returned the smile wholeheartedly and nodded in agreement. At least that bit of dilemma was put to rest, but Jinwoo already anticipated so much more trouble down the road concerning things that would be simple to anyone who hadn't come from a completely different galaxy.

Thinking about Myungjun's lifestyle before coming to Earth only made Jinwoo more interested. A world without milk or keys or squirrels or dogs – what type of world even was that?

“Myungjun?”

Myungjun wiped his mouth, removing the milk that had been spread out across his upper lip. “Hm?”

“Can you tell me a bit about where you came from?”

The alien looked confused. “Why?”

“Because...because I'm curious,” Jinwoo admitted. “I mean, all of these things I've lived with my entire life are just brand new to you, and I'm curious how you haven't been able to experience all of these simple pleasures in life. What's your world like?”

“Planet Seven?” Myungjun considered the question seriously for a few seconds before shrugging his shoulders. “Brown.”

“Brown?”

“Brown,” Myungjun repeated, and he gestured outside the window. “There are a lot of colors in your planet, Jinwoo. You have lots of nice, green grass and you have areas of water that just ripple and move and they're clear and sparkling. You guys have really white, puffy clouds. Also, everyone wears all different kinds of clothes. Some of its really bright, and some of its drab and bland, but it's all different. And people here smile a lot easier.”

Jinwoo couldn't imagine living somewhere that didn't have puffy clouds or fun fashion or water, for goodness sake. And yet Myungjun had grown up experiencing a lack of what Jinwoo loved. “You smile pretty easily, though.”

“Well, the rest of the people who live on my planet don't. And I used to not smile much at all.” Myungjun sipped at his milk again. “It's not a happy planet. Not like here.”

Jinwoo remembered how Myungjun mentioned his planet was called Planet Seven. He remembered how Myungjun himself was called Seven, simply because of his position in his family.

“What's it like, then?” he asked quietly, trying to figure out just why exactly Myungjun was smiley and happy when he came from such a dreary planet. “Tell me about what life was like for you growing up.”

Myungjun set his cup of milk down and smacked his lips thoughtfully. “Um...well, I didn't grow up in the wealthy families,” he commented. “I always wanted to be in a wealthy family. They don't have to worry about anything. All I remember is that I was the seventh youngest member of where I stayed.”

Jinwoo furrowed his eyebrows. “Where you stayed...so, like, your family?”

“Nope! We didn't get to have families. That's a concept the wealthier people enjoyed.”

Jinwoo didn't understand that. “Well, surely you had a mother or a father, didn't you?”

“Only wealthy people have mothers and fathers.” Myungjun was starting to look a little uncomfortable, and he stared at Jinwoo with large, doe-like eyes. “Do you have a mother and a father?”

“Everyone does. You can't be born if you don't have a mother or a father.”

Myungjun seemed unsure of that, and he cleared his throat and stared down at his milk. “Oh. We, um, we're workers on my planet. And workers don't have mothers or fathers.”

“Then how were you born?”

Perhaps he was inquiring too much. Myungjun glanced outside, a longing expression reflected in the window. “Jinwoo, does everyone here have a mother or a father? Was everyone here born like a wealthy person?”

Jinwoo swallowed thickly. He didn't mean to make Myungjun upset; in his curiosity, however, he had inadvertently displayed to Myungjun just how bad the poor guy had lived beforehand. He wasn't sure how to fix it, either, so he carefully muttered, “That's how it is here. You don't have to tell me anymore about your planet.”

Myungjun hummed lightly, a frown overtaking his normally-cheerful features. “Workers are made,” he responded, ignoring Jinwoo's last comment. “There's this big place where they make workers. I've never seen it, but that's where I came from. And then we're old enough to be shuffled into this other house, where other workers like us live, and they have an overseer who teaches us how to do our jobs. I mined. We supplied fuel for spaceships, and so I had to mine for ores. And different spaceships take different kinds of ores, so you had to know which ores to mine for properly. We'd do it for hours, too.” He tore his eyes away from the window finally, and shrugged his shoulders at Jinwoo. “I became used to not sleeping much, because they wanted to work us as often as possible. It was dangerous. A lot of people would die. But that was okay, they said, because they could easily make more workers.” He pointed at his milk. “And we had a liquid diet, because food was scarce on our planet, and when they imported food, it cost so much so only the wealthy could afford it.”

The more Jinwoo heard of Myungjun's planet, the more he was glad Myungjun had crash-landed into Earth. Sure, it might have been somewhat of an inconvenience for Jinwoo at first, but Myungjun was far too cheerful, far too naive to be stuck on such a dreadful location for the rest of his life.

“No squirrels, then? No animals of any kind?”

“Well, we had dangerous animals if you ventured out past certain points,” Myungjun responded. “A few people did, hoping to find something elsewhere, but most of the planet is uninhabitable, so I never bothered with that. I just stole a spaceship.”

Jinwoo had remembered Myungjun talking about having stolen clothes, and he remembered how Myungjun completely broke into his apartment, but those were small, petty crimes, and he assumed Myungjun had just been ignorant. However, knowing that an alien had stolen an actual spaceship made him worried. “A-A-A spaceship? You stole-”

“I heard that other planets had it better than we did!” Myungjun whined out. “And I was tired, Jinwoo. I got sick from the mining, but they kept making me go down deeper, and I thought I could just take a spaceship out for a bit and bring it back without anyone noticing.”

“How did you even manage that?”

“I was a good worker, so my overseer allowed me to accompany him to sell some ores, and while he was discussing prices with the alien who had come by, I just stole the alien's spaceship.” Myungjun gave a slight chuckle and averted his gaze. “O-Of course, um, they saw me take off in it and I realized if I went back, they'd probably kill me, so I decided to just get as far away from them as possible. And then I ran out of fuel after a while and crash-landed here, and I think you know the rest of the story, right?”

Jinwoo knew the rest of the story; the stars somehow plopped Myungjun right in his kitchen, and also made certain he was a very attractive alien.

(Curse the stars – and curse whichever one was Myungjun's planet.)

“There's no way they can find you, though, is there?” Jinwoo asked. He wanted to be assured that he wouldn't have crazy aliens coming after him.

Myungjun shook his head, easing Jinwoo's worries. “They wouldn't waste all that time and fuel they had to find me. As long as I don't show my face anywhere near the planet, they don't care. In fact, they probably think I'm dead. Which is great!” Myungjun was completely clueless to the horrified look on Jinwoo's face. “Because they won't come at me, and I can just live here forever! I don't have to mine here, do I?”

He must have said it as a joke, because when Jinwoo didn't answer, Myungjun just giggled. “I'd like to fight off squirrels, if that's a job. If I can have my own key, I think I can be the best fighter of squirrels in the world! Not dogs, though, because dogs are loud.”

Jinwoo cleared his throat and looked down at his coffee. It was probably lukewarm by now, since he had listened to Myungjun's story without drinking any of it. He didn't care too much, though, and instead he mumbled, “Promise you'll live here forever?”

Because here was better than there. It hadn't even yet been twenty-four hours since Jinwoo met Myungjun, and yet he needed Myungjun to be safe. The stars had sent him a little bit of their brightness, a little pinch of stardust, and Jinwoo wanted to ensure that it shined forever.

Myungjun couldn't ever shine properly in the depths of a mine, forced to endure long hours of difficult labor.

“You want me to live here forever?” Myungjun asked, confirming Jinwoo's original question. “You don't mind? Because I think my ship has already sunk.”

Jinwoo wondered what would happen if someone pulled it out of the ocean one day.

“Which means I'm stuck here,” Myungjun continued. “So, um, either way I'll be living here, whether you want me to or not!”

“I want you to,” Jinwoo blurted out, and Myungjun's eyes grew wide. “And I can make you an apartment key, so that way you can-”

“I can protect myself against squirrels?”

“Well, um, more so you can open my apartment door without breaking into my window.”

“I didn't break it! I just lightly pushed it up and wiggled my way inside.”

The more Myungjun spoke about the window incident, the more Jinwoo was convinced that the window had been mostly closed the entire time and Myungjun really was a criminal.

(An alien and a criminal and a pinch of stardust.)

“Whatever you did, you don't have to do that anymore. Once I have enough money to, I'll have a spare key made and you can use that one.”

It would be difficult on him, though, to take care of an alien when he could barely care for himself. A few of his bills were running late, and he hardly had any food in his fridge as it was, but Myungjun's innocence needn't be ruined anymore than his home planet had already ruined it. If Myungjun's words were true (and he had no reason to lie), he had been through more than enough for a single lifetime, and Jinwoo was going to ensure that Myungjun was cozy and comfortable with life from this point onward.

Even if it meant Myungjun would be cozy and comfortable in Jinwoo's house.

(Especially if it meant Myungjun would be cozy and comfortable in Jinwoo's house.)

“Will it open your window so I won't have to hurt my fingers opening it myself?” Myungjun asked, and he rubbed his knuckles in mock pain.

Jinwoo scoffed. “No more using my window. It's for the door. You know, what I came in through.”

“I came from another planet and another galaxy, but I know what doors are, Jinwoo,” Myungjun replied with a scoff.

“You were really confused with the automatic doors at the building nearby.”

Myungjun pushed his milk aside and used his hands to mime an automatic door opening and closing. “They go like this without anyone having to touch anything! And they sense people! They're alive, Jinwoo, that's the only explanation as to how they work like that!” He pointed suddenly over at the counter, and then at the display case with the food he had marveled over earlier when they had first arrived. “And they just have food sitting out – solid food, Jinwoo, and if I can pry open that glass, I can take it and they won't even-”

“That's not how it works.”

Myungjun pouted and took one last sip of his milk. “I wish I could try some. Those have the same yellow color your egg breakfast omelet does.”

“That's because those are eggs, too.”

“How many eggs does this world even have?” Myungjun asked in amazement, and then he leaned forward. He seemed to have forgotten about his previous transgressions with his home planet.

(Jinwoo hadn't forgotten. Jinwoo would launch himself into space and beat up anybody who had ever made Myungjun's life a living hell.)

“Jinwoo? If milk comes from cows, where do eggs come from?”

He had already explained squirrels and dogs and cats and cows – and now, he assumed, it was time to explain about chickens.

Myungjun listened to his every word, seemingly excited about the prospect of an animal with wings that pooped out food.

“This world is just amazing!” he exclaimed. “If I could find a chicken, we could have food forever! Anytime it pooped, we'd get an egg!”

“Not...not really how that works, either.” But he wasn't going to argue about chickens; he would pick his alien battles wisely. “In any case, I'm not going to find a chicken-”

“I'll do it for you, then.”

Neither of us are going to find a chicken.” And he sure hoped that Myungjun would listen to him, but according to the mischievous look that crossed the alien's face, he highly doubted it. “You're going to drive me insane, aren't you, Myungjun?”

Myungjun grinned and shook his head. “I won't do that, Jinwoo! I will drive you happy. I will be grateful if you allow me to live with you until I can figure out how to dwell in like a true Earthling does.” He looked around for examples; his only inspiration, it seemed came from Jinwoo and the baristas, and at that moment, it seemed he was going to draw his behavior from how baristas acted. “Hello!” he called out to them, and the girl who had served their drinks looked over. “Hello!” Myungjun repeated. “I just want to let you know that I enjoyed your milk, which comes from cows, and next time I'd like an egg breakfast ome-”

Jinwoo was slow, typically; more often than not, his reaction speeds sucked. But when it involved an alien possibly giving away the fact that he wasn't a true human, Jinwoo was actually speedy quick. He grabbed Myungjun's hand and pulled him up from his seat with a tight smile directed to the poor, confused girl behind the counter.

“Too much coffee,” he lied.

The girl looked at Myungjun's clear cup, obviously having been filled with nothing but milk, and Jinwoo cleared his throat. “He drank all of mine.”

“Jinwoo, I didn't drink any-”

He had to get Myungjun out of there before he revealed his own secret, so with a slight bow to the workers, he pulled the alien away.

“Jinwoo, I was going to greet them like a true human-”

“I'll give you human lessons,” Jinwoo interrupted. “I'll teach you how to be a human being, if you'd like.”

Myungjun's face lit up and he nodded his head excitedly. “I want to learn how to be just like you! That would be so cool, Jinwoo! When can we start? Can we start tonight?”

Jinwoo glanced over as they walked down the street.

“Anytime you'd like,” he responded.

The sun was bright now in the morning sky, as if trying to hide the light from the stars. It did an awful job at that, though, because Myungjun's eyes held every last twinkle of starlight.

 

Chapter Text

Surprisingly enough for Jinwoo, it wasn't too difficult to accommodate for an alien. Myungjun seemed happy enough to sleep on the couch every night, proclaiming it to be the best bed he had ever slept on in his entire life (which really tore at Jinwoo's heart), and he actually seemed to enjoy that he could laze around on the couch every morning until Jinwoo woke up.

They would make smoothies together, concocting any sort of flavor they could think of. Myungjun was incredibly impressed with Jinwoo's blender, and he would watch in astonishment as the ingredients were mashed together at a high speed.

And no matter what weird smoothie they would make, Myungjun always seemed to enjoy it.

He would try solid foods, as well, just a few bites here and there. Soups seemed to work the easiest and make Myungjun's stomach the least upset, so Jinwoo started preparing soups more often than not.

(It was a good thing it was winter, or else it would definitely be too hot for soups.)

When Jinwoo had work, Myungjun was content with sitting at the apartment. He was fascinated with the television, and Jinwoo usually came home every night to Myungjun excitedly discussing what interesting show he had watched that day. Jinwoo would prepare dinner and let him talk, a small smile on his face as Myungjun's excitement filled the air around them.

Clothes were simple enough, too; they were around the same size, and so Jinwoo started letting Myungjun borrow some of his own clothes.

(“You know,” Myungjun said one day, sitting on the floor in a pair of baggy sweatpants and a hoodie, “I don't understand the reasoning behind having a pair of clothes to wear during the day and a pair of clothes to wear during the night. Why can't you just wear one pair?”

Jinwoo wasn't sure how to answer that properly, so he just shrugged. “I think night clothes are more comfortable to sleep in, don't you?” he asked.

Myungjun picked at his pants before slowly nodding. “I guess so. I've never known there was a difference, though.”

“Would you rather wear the jeans and sweater you wore earlier today?”

The alien shook his head fervently and hugged himself, as if trying to keep the clothes on him. “Nope! I'll wear these, Jinwoo!”)

The only issue, really, was Dongmin, who seemed to be constantly worried with Jinwoo's new roommate. “You have no room for him-”

“I've made room.”

“-and no money for him, and an alien, Jinwoo-hyung, really? I'm sure the homeless man down the street would probably be a far safer choice!”

Jinwoo scoffed as he prepared dinner. Myungjun was currently in the shower, leaving Dongmin plenty of time to fuss at his friend (unfortunately so). “I think the homeless man down the street would steal my money and run.”

“But he won't probe you.”

“Would you shut up about the probing nonsense?” Jinwoo stirred at the soup in his small pot and turned his head to glare at Dongmin. “He's been sleeping over for about a week now. I think he's had plenty of time to try something, and the fact that he hasn't yet surely has to mean something, right? Like maybe he just doesn't know what probing is. And from everything he's told me, he really doesn't understand that. It's just fictional fluff in movies.”

Dongmin scowled and rested his chin on the palm of his hand. “I just find it weird why he doesn't go back home, or off to explore a different alien planet.”

“Probably because his ship crashed and he feels comfortable here. With me.”

He felt comfortable with Jinwoo. He had mentioned that earlier in the day, commenting on how fun it was to be around Jinwoo and how he had never had anyone he felt so close to before, and it made Jinwoo's heart flutter to hear such a thing.

Dongmin was quiet for a few seconds, seemingly content on just watching Jinwoo cook, and then he muttered, “Are you still falling in love with him?”

“No,” Jinwoo lied.

Dongmin caught on rather easily, and he gave a loud sigh. “Hyung, it's an-”

He. Not it. He.”

“Fine. Sorry. He is an alien. I just...do you even know if he can feel emotional attachment? I know he seems to like you very much, but that could just be how his kind show gratitude. Perhaps he doesn't feel connections and commitment to other people like we do. Perhaps he doesn't feel love.”

Jinwoo slowed in his stirring, and when Dongmin noticed his hesitation, the younger boy continued. “I'm...I'm sorry. I don't mean to make you feel bad. I think...I think I'm just worried that you will get attached and he won't. You know I just want you to be happy, right? I'm trying to find someone who will make you happy-”

“Myungjun makes me happy.” Jinwoo wet his lips before facing Dongmin, who was staring at him with such pity that it made Jinwoo feel embarrassed. “Dongmin, stop it. I can take care of myself. None of the guys I've been on dates with have shown any sort of fondness for me. I've been rejected so much, and Myungjun doesn't do that! He doesn't care that I'm slow or that I'm short. He just...he seems to really like me for who I am.”

Dongmin met Jinwoo's gaze and the pity began to melt away, replaced instead by a reluctant acceptance. “Has he met many other people?”

“Other than you? No one.”

“At least let him meet everyone else. I can bring Bin over to see him, if you'd like, and he might get along well with Sanha and Minhyuk. And then...and then we'll see. If he's still only attached to you, I'll take back everything I've said and I guess...I'll work hard to make sure that he understands how important your feelings are.”

Jinwoo grimaced and pointed his big ladle in Dongmin's direction. “Don't get involved in my love life. You've done that plenty of times. I think I can figure it out myself.”

“Still. If he needs a little push in your direction-”

“Give him time, Dongmin. I don't think he's ready to start falling in love just yet.”

Dongmin shrugged and opened his mouth, presumably to continue arguing with Jinwoo about the possibility of falling in love with an alien, but Myungjun appeared to have finished with his shower just then. The alien hummed as he flounced down the hall and into Jinwoo's kitchen, still rubbing at his hair with a damp towel. When he noticed Dongmin, he beamed brightly and waved. “Best Friend Dongmin!” he greeted.

Even if Dongmin wanted to be cold and calculating around Myungjun, Jinwoo definitely noticed his lips twitch upwards. “Um, hi, Myungjun. Did you just get out of the shower?”

“I did! Do you know how much water that thing shoots out?”

Both Jinwoo and Dongmin seemed to take it as a rhetorical question, but when Myungjun still stood there, Jinwoo was the first to realize that he was awaiting the answer. “Oh. Um, I mean, I guess as much as you need? It turns on when you want and it turns off if you want. As long as the water bill's paid, it-”

“And Jinwoo sometimes skips the bill.”

“Quiet, Dongmin,” Jinwoo hissed, and his friend shot him a look full of mock innocence.

(It was quite different from Myungjun's wide-eyes and genuine innocence, which Dongmin vastly preferred.)

“Sometimes,” Jinwoo explained to Myungjun, “I don't have enough money and they shut my water off. It's only happened once or twice, but Dongmin likes to hold it over my head because I still owe him for when he turned it back on. And I said, Dongmin, I'll pay you back.”

He huffed in frustration; Myungjun still grinned.

“It's okay if we don't have water for a bit – I'm used to that! I just think it's so cool that you have it right now!” He plopped down in the seat beside Dongmin and carefully folded the wet towel. “It sure is nice to be this clean, though! And your water was really nice and warm! Jinwoo, you're the kindest alien in the world to let me use all of your water just to clean myself!”

Jinwoo blushed heavily and ducked his head. Some of the steam from his soup rose up and fogged his glasses, but that was still a better fate than letting Myungjun catch onto the fact that he was so in love with those sweet compliments. “A-Any time, Myungjun.”

He listened in slightly as Myungjun tried to partake in small-talk with Dongmin. (It was lesson number fourteen from how to act like you were born on Earth lessons – small-talk was important, because otherwise you would sit in silence and it would become awkward. Myungjun asked Jinwoo to write a book and sell it across the galaxies. Jinwoo decided he would take that into consideration.) It was cute to hear Myungjun trying out the phrases that Jinwoo had taught him; “What about this weather we're having, Best Friend Dongmin?” and “How's your mother doing?” made Dongmin a little flustered and confused, and Jinwoo peeked back to see Dongmin answering quietly with Myungjun hanging onto every last word.

“Jinwoo!” Myungjun called out. Jinwoo spun back to his soup and pretended he wasn't just eavesdropping. “Best Friend Dongmin says his mother is doing fine – should I ask about his father?”

“He's fine, as well,” Dongmin responded, and he definitely had a smile on his face this time. “How about your mother, Myungjun?”

Jinwoo scowled at him. “Dongmin,” he warned, and Dongmin glanced over inquisitively. Jinwoo had never actually told Dongmin about Myungjun's familial situation. It hadn't come up in their conversation topics just yet, and he figured it might also be a little too personal to try and explain himself.

In any case, it was Myungjun's turn to be flustered, and he scurried up from his seat and rushed to plaster himself to Jinwoo's side. “Jinwoo?” the alien whispered, “What am I supposed to tell him? Is it okay if I tell him the truth?”

“If you'd like to,” Jinwoo replied, and he gave Myungjun's arm a comforting rub and offered him a bright smile. “He won't judge you any differently, Myungjun. And it isn't a bad thing. Remember, I told you that you can meet my mother one day, and she will probably treat you like her son.”

Myungjun seemed relieved with Jinwoo's words, and he moved to explain his own situation to Dongmin, but his eyes were drawn to the small window above Jinwoo's sink, and they widened considerably when he noticed the scene outside.

“J-Jinwoo?”

“Hm?”

“I think the clouds are falling apart!”

“The what?” Jinwoo followed Myungjun's gaze, his own eyes settling on the world outside his apartment, on the snow that was floating downwards to the ground in large, chunky flakes. “Huh. It's snowing.”

Myungjun's breath appeared to have been taken away with the sight, and his hand reached out and grasped onto Jinwoo's sleeve. “What's snowing?

“It's when, um, it's when...Dongmin, help me-”

“It's basically just frozen water that falls down and stays pretty frozen, depending on the temperature.” Dongmin was already checking his phone as he stepped over to the window, as well. “And it looks like it's going to last throughout the night and go into the next day, so we'll probably have a nice blanket of snow on the ground in a few hours.”

“Snow makes blankets?”

“It's a description,” Dongmin replied to Myungjun's question, then sighed softly. “Maybe I should head home before it gets really bad, Jinwoo-hyung. I don't want to wade home in it.”

“Definitely,” Jinwoo agreed. At least that meant Dongmin wouldn't inquire about Myungjun's family life anymore, and Jinwoo could actually give him a proper explanation so the next time he wouldn't ask about it. “If Binnie's there, tell him I said hello.”

“I'll do that. Save me some soup, though!” Dongmin grinned cheekily. “You know how much I love your cooking.”

“Get out before I throw you out,” Jinwoo demanded.

Dongmin left with a slight giggle. He tried to bid Myungjun farewell, but the alien was far too enraptured with the snow falling down to actually respond. Even when Jinwoo's soup was finally finished, Myungjun didn't seem to want to pull away from the sight.

“We can go out and you can get a chance to feel it if you actually eat first,” Jinwoo bribed him, and that did work. Myungjun tore his eyes from the window and turned his excited smile onto Jinwoo.

“Really?”

“Promise.” It was the first snowfall of the season, and Jinwoo wanted to share the experience with someone who had never laid sight on snow before. Myungjun's childish enthusiasm to play outside in the snow was infectious, and Jinwoo found himself even hurrying through the meal.

(He did make sure Myungjun ate slowly. “You don't want to throw up again, do you?” he scolded, and Myungjun's pout as he forced himself not to take such large bites was endearing and cute and, not for the first time, Jinwoo wondered if this was what love felt like.)

When they were done eating, Myungjun darted up from his chair instantly, ready to run outside, but Jinwoo stopped him. “You're in pajamas, Myungjun!” he exclaimed with a slight tsk of his tongue. “It'll soak right through your pants.”

“Jinwoo, it doesn't look wet!” Myungjun responded. He bounced on the balls of his feet as Jinwoo began layering him with jackets and coats, his eyes solely trained on the window. The snow really was starting to pile up, so even if it wasn't yet the correct amount to build a snowman, at least they could make snowballs or snow angels or whatever else it was that people did in snow.

“It's very wet, and you'll definitely feel it when we head on out. Here, lift your chin, I need to put your scarf on.”

Myungjun did as Jinwoo requested. His eyes sparkled. “Are you going to wear lots of warm clothes, Jinwoo? If it's cold out there, I don't want you to freeze or get wet, either.”

His concern made Jinwoo want to melt. And when Myungjun's gentle hands began to fumble with the buttons on Jinwoo's coat, Jinwoo was certain he felt his heart turn into a big pile of mushy goo.

The buttons ended up being mismatched, but Myungjun looked so proud with his completed task that Jinwoo didn't have the heart to redo them.

They put hats on; Myungjun's was lopsided, as per usual, and he looked too precious and Jinwoo wasn't going to fix that, either. He was just going to make sure that it at least covered his ears enough, and finally, with Myungjun holding his breath in anticipation, Jinwoo opened the door.

Minhyuk had always said that there was no sound to snowfall. Minhyuk had always said that Jinwoo was crazy for saying that snowfall had a sound, but, once again, Jinwoo would stand by those words: snowfall had a sound, and Jinwoo loved the sound.

It sounded crisp and clean, but hushed. It sounded as if the world was on standstill and the little flakes that touched the ground were the only things audible. It sounded as if life was, for once, calm and serene and just as beautiful as the snow that caught in the bare branches of the trees, enveloping them in a warm embrace of shining brightness.

But this time, snowfall sounded different.

Snowfall sounded like a light gasp as Myungjun stared out across the white landscape. Snowfall sounded like the soft crunch of his boot as he took a tentative step forward, at the light squeal left behind when he lifted his foot to stare at the imprint he had made. Snowfall sounded like his delighted yelp as he hopped forward once, ruining the perfect beauty that nature had spent time and effort to form, and, in turn, adding in his own perfect beauty when he turned back to look at Jinwoo, the largest of smiles tugging at his pink lips and his eyes wrinkled at the corners as his cheeks were forced upwards.

“Jinwoo!” he called, even if he wasn't even that far away. “I love it!

Love.

He loved it.

Myungjun had said the word love on multiple occasions before. He loved everything, apparently. He loved grass and he loved clouds and he loved the little ding that Jinwoo's oven made, and he loved the blender and he loved the little moped that had raced by them one afternoon, and he loved Jinwoo's thin-framed glasses and the contacts he wore when he felt brave enough to put them in.

It had become so common to hear Myungjun exclaim things that he loved, but this seemed different somehow. As Myungjun trudged through the snow, proclaiming his love for the weather over and over again, there was something different in his voice, something more heartfelt, something more emotional.

Myungjun stumbled, fell into the snow, and, as per Jinwoo's warnings, had soaked pants when he stood up again. And even then, his smile never fell from his face, but his chin was quivering and his eyes seemed wet, and so Jinwoo hurried over in a panic, breaking himself from those thoughts.

“Myungjun?” he reached his roommate and started to brush the snow off of him. The pants would remain damp, unfortunately, and he hoped he could convince Myungjun to head inside soon in order to get into clean and dry clothing, but otherwise, Myungjun seemed to be physically fine. Still, as Jinwoo stared up at him with wide eyes, a tear rolled down the alien's cheek. He trembled, and Jinwoo wasn't sure if it was from the cold. “M-Myungjun?” his voice was quieter this time, concern dripping through his words. “Myungjun, what's wrong? Are you okay?”

“I...” Myungjun brought a hand up and his fingertips gathered the tears. He took a shuddering breath and blinked his eyes rapidly. “I love it,” he finally whispered in reply, and he sniffed before sobbing out, “J-Jinwoo, I love it so much.”

Jinwoo couldn't react quick enough, and Myungjun suddenly flung his arms around him, burying his face into the crook of his neck. Jinwoo figured that his scarf would work well in collecting all of Myungjun's tears, and so he wrapped his own arms around Myungjun, holding him tightly by the waist.

“I'm sorry,” Myungjun cried. “I-I-I just feel overwhelmed, I don't know why-”

“It's a lot to take in,” Jinwoo murmured, and he made sure to continue hugging Myungjun. “Once you're done crying, though, you have permission to hit me with a thousand snowballs.”

Myungjun gave a choked laugh. “I would never hit you, Jinwoo. I love you, too.”

Love. There was that word again, but Jinwoo wasn't sure if Myungjun meant for it to have the same weight as his love for snow did. Jinwoo would like it to, very much so, but Myungjun had said this before and never seemed to show any signs of actual romantic love.

It was nothing, then. Jinwoo was just one of the many things Myungjun held dear to his heart, alongside the blender and the grass.

Still, as Jinwoo looked up at the sky, still depositing snow around the two boys, he couldn't help but respond, “I love you, too, Myungjun.”

He felt Myungjun laugh, a light, breathy feeling against his skin, and finally he pulled back, rubbing at his red face and taking deep, gulping breaths. “So we don't have to hit each other, do we?” he asked.

Jinwoo wondered if Myungjun understood how Jinwoo's love worked. Jinwoo wondered if Myungjun categorized that with Jinwoo's love of drums and hats and sweet-smelling perfumes. In any case, it didn't appear as if the confession had done anything at all to Myungjun's emotions, save for comfort him a little bit, and Jinwoo felt a flash of disappointment.

Maybe next time? he asked the silent, vacant stars. The clouds hid them, the snow blocked them from view, and Jinwoo tried so hard to hide his one-sided infatuation for Myungjun. He cleared his throat, wiped away more of Myungjun's tears, then replied, “Nope. We can just hit the tree, if you'd like.”

“Aw, don't do that. I love the tree, too.”

“Of course you do. Well, um, maybe we can just make snow angels, instead.”

Myungjun brightened, and with one last sniffle, he seemed back to his old self. “That seems like fun! How do you make a snow angel?”

Maybe next time, he demanded to the sleeping stars as he instructed Myungjun on the very complex topic of snow angels, maybe next time he will love me as much as he loves the snow.

 

Chapter Text

It snowed throughout the day, just as Dongmin had said it would. And the whole time it snowed, it was very difficult to drag Myungjun away from the windows. He wanted to watch, he said, as the snow piled up and covered everything that had been left out. He wanted to measure it, too, but after Jinwoo showed him how the weathermen would give out the measurements, Myungjun seemed satisfied enough.

Most of all, though, he wanted to talk about it. He wanted to know every last detail there was to know about snow; when did humans first discover snow, did it have any interesting properties, could he sell it on the black market and make millions?

Jinwoo answered each and every question with half-hearted responses. He was still coming to terms with the idea that Myungjun loved snow more than he loved him. And, really, it was clear to see that Jinwoo had been knocked to second place. The more Myungjun stared outside at the white landscape, the brighter his gaze became. The more questions Myungjun asked concerning the weather and climate, the more adoration spilled through his tone, until Jinwoo was pretty certain that Myungjun would probably marry the snow if he could.

Regardless, Myungjun was happy.

Jinwoo decided he could handle being tossed aside as long as Myungjun had finally found his happiness.

(Or, rather, he accepted the fact that he wasn't truly Myungjun's happiness. And there was nothing he could do about that.)

The snow slowed down sometime around three in the morning. Jinwoo only knew this because Myungjun woke him up to inform him of such.

“Jinwoo!” he exclaimed, shaking his sleeping roommate.

Jinwoo hated being woken up from such a fantastic sleep. “Mm?” he hummed out.

“Jinwoo, it's not snowing anymore, but all that snow is still all over the ground – oh my gosh, it's so pretty at night! It's the prettiest thing in the world, Jinwoo!”

Jinwoo remembered two days ago when he had been the prettiest thing in the world. His sleep-addled mind felt like pouting in order to make Myungjun's life miserable for pushing him aside, and so he simply rolled over so his back was facing the alien.

He told himself it didn't hurt at all, coming in second place to something that wasn't even alive. He told himself that if Myungjun loved snow most of all, that was perfectly fine. Jinwoo could handle that. Besides, it wasn't as if he loved Myungjun most of all, not when he hardly knew him.

And yet it was weird and painful. He was reminded of the men he had gone on dates with, of the men who claimed he lacked something, be it height or looks or humor – he must have lacked something with Myungjun, too, to be knocked down from his pedestal so quickly.

Someone had found him beautiful for a week, and he couldn't even maintain that spot when it snowed. God, he was pathetic.

He wished the stars had just killed him. That was probably a better punishment than leading him on with an attractive alien.

“Jinwoo!” Myungjun whined lightly, and he shoved at Jinwoo again.

“What do you want, Myungjun?” Jinwoo breathed out into his pillow. “I've seen snow before. I know what it looks like at night. It's not even that big of a deal.”

It was quiet for a second. He didn't hear Myungjun speak, and he didn't feel Myungjun's hands on him any longer. He wondered if maybe he had hurt Myungjun's feelings in some way, but then, suddenly, someone was climbing on top of him, movements slow and unsure.

Myungjun was climbing on him.

Jinwoo stayed still, hardly daring to breathe, and Myungjun held tightly onto him. His chest was pressed up against Jinwoo's back, and his mouth was unbelievably close to Jinwoo's neck. Even his legs wrapped around Jinwoo's waist, and Jinwoo wondered if he could consider this straddling.

(And, if so, he couldn't wait to tell Minhyuk that a hot guy had straddled him.)

“Myungjun-”

“Come watch with me!” Myungjun whined, his voice high-pitched as he pleaded for Jinwoo's involvement. “You can see that planet in the distance-”

“Moon,” Jinwoo supplied helpfully.

“Right, your moon. Jinwoo, you can see your moon and it's bright and it's happy, and all the other far-away planets are shining a lot, too, and the snow is quiet and it's all so beautiful, Jinwoo, it's the most beautiful!”

There he went again. The snow was beautiful. The snow was first place in the beauty contest in Myungjun's mind.

Jinwoo was second place.

He clutched at his covers and squeezed his eyes shut, thankful that Myungjun couldn't even see his face. “I want to sleep-”

“There's lots of time to sleep! This world has all the time to sleep! This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, Jinwoo!” Myungjun held tightly onto Jinwoo. “Please!

“I see it all the time. Let me sleep,” Jinwoo grumbled.

Again, silence. And, again, Myungjun broke it. “On my planet,” he murmured, resting his head down on Jinwoo's shoulder. “We didn't have snow. It was just brown and dusty all of the time. The ground was dry. I was always wiping sweat off of my forehead. And I thought that maybe other planets had cold weather. Maybe other planets had water that would fall from the sky. Maybe other planets would have the most beautiful...beautiful things in the world, and I came here and all of my dreams came true.” His voice was lowered to a whisper now, and he snuggled all the closer to Jinwoo. “I want to scoop up some of the snow and I want to carry it with me forever. I want to remember this moment for my entire life, Jinwoo.”

The warmth pushed into his back was impossible to hate. Jinwoo accepted it fully and completely, relishing in the sound of Myungjun's breathing and the way his chest moved as he talked. He wondered if Myungjun's cheeks were smushed up against his shoulder. He sure hoped so.

But, even still, he couldn't force himself up out of bed if Myungjun was only going to praise the snow. “Then go remember that moment. You don't need me to do it.”

“It doesn't mean anything if you're not there.”

If anything caused Jinwoo to suddenly sit up, it was that. The words stirred him from his self-pity, and Myungjun nearly fell as Jinwoo scrambled into a seated position. As it was, the alien had to quickly grab him, and when Jinwoo was completely up and alert, he stared at Myungjun with wide eyes.

Myungjun and his messy bed-hair and the large t-shirt that nearly hung off one shoulder and the inquisitive and hopeful expression as he readily returned the stare.

“What?” Jinwoo murmured. “What does that mean? Why do I have to be there?”

“Because I tried making the memory by myself, but then I realized I had also made a spot for you.” Myungjun beamed suddenly, his arms still wrapped around Jinwoo as he spoke. “I have blankets and I moved the couch a little bit so we could watch it better – my arms hurt from doing that, Jinwoo, why are couches so heavy? But I'm okay with them hurting if you say yes!”

Honestly, how could he say anything but yes? How could he reject Myungjun when he looked so excited about Jinwoo's involvement?

And how could he say no when Myungjun refused to make a memory unless Jinwoo was actually in the memory.

That had to stand for something, didn't it? Even if he was second-best to the snow, at least he was still there in the top three, and at least Myungjun didn't want to do things without him. That validated the fact that he still held a very high position, didn't it?

“Okay,” he finally agreed with a sigh. Myungjun's smile stretched out even more, and he hopped off of Jinwoo in order to give him proper room to sit up. “But only for a bit, okay? Because-”

“And we need to let in the person from outside.”

Jinwoo blinked. “What?”

“I told him he needed to wait because you told me not to let strangers into your house, and he looks like a stranger.”

“There's someone at my door at three in the morning?”

“Is it against the rules to be at your door at three-”

Jinwoo pushed Myungjun aside and rushed out of his room, trying to ignore the fact that he was only in boxers and a sweater. “Who the hell-?” he fussed to himself before flinging his front door open.

There was a rush of cold air, a sudden change in the temperature, and also Yoon Sanha.

Sanha smiled nervously before giving a small wave. “Morning, Hyung.”

“Sanha?” Jinwoo ushered the younger boy inside quickly, still very much confused. He thought Myungjun woke him for a sweet reason, a reason that made him believe he might be able to beat the snow in terms of Myungjun's love, but it seemed to be some sort of scam. Even if Myungjun didn't mean to make it out to be a scam, Jinwoo was now faced with a shivering Sanha and not an early morning of snow-watching.

Jinwoo cursed Sanha.

“I tried calling, but you wouldn't answer,” Sanha stammered out as he removed his coat.

“Because it's three in the morning,” Jinwoo snapped, and he crossed his arms over his chest. “What are you doing at my house at three in the morning? Won't your mom get mad at you?”

Sanha rubbed at his body in order to try and get warmer faster. “She likes you. Besides, I left a note of where I was going to be. I tried Dongmin's place first, but he had Bin over and I didn't want to deal with both of them being all lovey-dovey to each other, and Minhyuk came outside only to stick snow down my pants, so I figured you would be nice and actually make a snowman with me properly.”

“You can make a man out of snow?” It was the first time Myungjun had spoken up since Sanha had come inside, and now Sanha looked over at him in confusion.

“Hyung, who is this? He answered the door and told me I had to wait outside like all strangers had to do.”

At least Jinwoo could rest assured that Myungjun wasn't going to invite in any weirdos.

“My name is Myungjun!” Myungjun exclaimed before Jinwoo could say anything. “And I come from-”

“He's from, um, somewhere else,” Jinwoo broke in quickly. He didn't need Myungjun to reveal his alien status just yet. Not to Sanha, at least, who would probably believe anything. “He's an old friend of mine, though, and he's just staying here for a bit because his apartment, uh, was destroyed by...something, I'm not sure.”

Myungjun raised his eyebrows at Jinwoo's lie, but he appeared to catch on. “Yup. It was...it blew up! A huge explosion – tons of deaths-”

“Why didn't I hear about this on the news, then?” Sanha asked suspiciously.

“Oh, Myungjun's exaggerating! He...he does that.” Jinwoo laughed it off, though he decided that he would cut in next time Myungjun started following along with Jinwoo's lies. Myungjun wasn't very good at lying. “Anyway, Sanha, you should go home. I'm definitely not playing in the snow at three in the morning.”

“Come on, Hyung!” Sanha begged. It was reminiscent of Myungjun's earlier pleading. However, with Sanha, Jinwoo wasn't deterred. “I've been walking for an hour trying to get someone to play with me! It'll probably all melt by the time I have another chance to make a snowman!”

At least Sanha had already forgotten about the supposed apartment explosion. Jinwoo didn't have to awkwardly come up with an explanation for that, then. “Sanha, look, I'm just too exhausted right now-”

“I want to do it!” Myungjun's hand shot up, volunteering himself for the position of Sanha's Playmate. “I want to make a man out of snow. I bet I can make one as perfect as Jinwoo is!”

Perfect.

If Myungjun was trying to make Jinwoo agree to let him go outside at three in the morning, he was doing a great job.

A perfect job.

Perfect, like Jinwoo.

Jinwoo felt himself stand up straighter with pride. His heart was beating wildly in his chest, especially when he noticed Myungjun smiling cheerfully in his direction.

He really could never say no to Myungjun.

“If you wear your coat and hat and scarf and boots and gloves,” Jinwoo instructed. Both Myungjun and Sanha gave a loud cheer, and Myungjun finished his celebratory yell with a quick bow in Jinwoo's direction.

“I'll be back, then!” he exclaimed, and he scurried off to Jinwoo's bedroom in order to change.

Sanha, too, was excited. He bounced lightly as he began to put his coat right back on his body. “At least someone wants to have proper fun with me! Myungjun seems so different from you, though, Hyung. How come you two became friends? And why haven't I ever heard about him? And why is he wearing your clothes and getting changed in your bedroom?”

Those were all very good questions. Jinwoo was a very good liar.

“When his apartment blew up, he lost all of his clothes, so I'm letting him borrow mine for the time being. As for the bedroom thing, where else is there to change?”

He figured he was going to skate by pretty nicely until he heard Sanha mutter, “I'm pretty sure an apartment didn't just blow up. Did it, Jinwoo?”

“I'm sure somewhere it did.”

“Where's he from, then?”

“Keep asking questions and I'll lock Myungjun in my bedroom so he can't play with you at all.”

He was also very good at shutting Sanha up until Myungjun was completely dressed. Jinwoo had to fix the scarf and rebutton the coat, but, otherwise, Myungjun seemed to be getting a hang of winter clothes.

“Only stay out for an hour,” Jinwoo demanded. “It's way too cold to do any more than that. And, Myungjun, you're not used to this, so I'm worried if you stay out longer than necessary, you'll just freeze to death. Sanha, make sure he comes back inside-”

“You're not our mom!” Sanha scoffed. “Myungjun-hyung and I can figure it out ourselves! Right, Hyung?”

At first, Myungjun didn't appear to notice that Sanha was talking to him, but when the younger boy shoved his shoulder, Myungjun looked up with a slight, “Wha-What?”

“We can figure it out, right?”

Jinwoo was too soft for Myungjun. He wanted to melt when Myungjun glanced at him helplessly, confusion clear in his gaze, and whispered, “What am I supposed to figure out?”

“Just have fun, is all, Myungjun,” Jinwoo replied, and he shooed the two boys out of his apartment before it could stretch on. With Myungjun out of his hair, at least he might be able to catch a quick nap.

But sleep wouldn't grab at him again. He just had thoughts of Sanha and Myungjun outside playing, enjoying each others' company, laughing and joking and acting close.

Which, when he peeked outside for the sixteenth time, was exactly what they were doing. He felt his heart constrict when he noticed Sanha pull Myungjun down into the snow, arms wrapped around the smaller boy's waist as they both laughed and giggled. Stupid Sanha.

Regardless, Jinwoo was a great host. Jinwoo prided himself on making certain Sanha was comfortable, and he knew that Sanha really loved hot chocolate in the winter time.

He made two cups; one for Myungjun and one for Sanha's. They were in differently patterned mugs – the one with Mickey Mouse on the front was for Sanha, but only because Jinwoo gave him way less whipped cream than he gave Myungjun.

Sanha noticed, too, when they finally did come inside. He had initially reached for the mug with a sloth on it (given to him by Minhyuk because, “you're just as slow, Hyung.”), since that one had far more whipped cream, but Jinwoo stuffed the Mickey Mouse mug into his outstretched hand.

“This one,” he murmured, holding up the sloth mug, “is for Myungjun.”

Myungjun didn't seem to spot the difference in drinks. He simply sipped at the one he had been handed, and when he drew back, he had whipped cream all over his nose. Jinwoo smiled in amusement.

“I love this, Jinwoo!” Myungjun announced proudly. “This is the best drink ever, besides milk!”

The whipped cream was white and fluffy and right on the tip, and Jinwoo leaned forward in order to brush it off. He would do so flirtatiously, possibly lick it off his own finger when he was done in order to add to his own appeal (even though he knew Myungjun wouldn't understand the sentiments behind the action), and then maybe announce how much he loved Myungjun.

Before he could do so, however, Sanha did it. Sanha wiped it off Myungjun's nose and onto his pants with a giggle. “You're so messy, Myungjun-hyung!”

Sanha couldn't see the death glare Jinwoo was shooting in his direction.

Myungjun, laughed, too. And when they were all done with their hot chocolate, Myungjun grabbed Sanha and showed him the pile of blankets he had made and the couch he had moved. “I wanted to watch the snow and that moon up there!” he explained happily.

Jinwoo definitely didn't miss the way he was holding onto Sanha's arm with such gentle ease and comfort.

“Can I watch it with you?” Sanha asked, and Myungjun looked ecstatic. He nodded his head with such enthusiasm that it made Jinwoo wonder if he would allow anyone to be a part of his memories. Maybe it wasn't Jinwoo he had needed specifically. Maybe it was just the presence of another human being by his side.

Plastered to his side, more like, because that's what he did to Sanha the moment he sat down. He was close, nuzzling up into Sanha's shoulder and giving a soft sigh of content.

And Sanha, the little brat, looked as if he enjoyed the proximity. He smiled proudly and let his head rest on Myungjun's head, because that kid was tall and was graced with good looks and a bright personality and good humor and no wonder Myungjun had so easily latched onto him.

(Is he jealous? He could hear the stars teetering to each other, and Jinwoo longed to destroy the stars.)

He stayed in the kitchen, slowly cleaning out the mugs they had used and prepping breakfast for the day ahead (whenever the sun woke up, he supposed, would be breakfast time). And he stared out at the two angrily, wondering why Myungjun had invited Sanha to do that with him. Originally the spot had belonged to Jinwoo and yet now it was Sanha that Myungjun was cuddling up against and giving those big, adoring eyes to.

Jinwoo put the mugs away a little more harshly than he meant to. They clattered against each other and it caused Sanha to jump slightly where he was seated. “Jinwoo!” he hissed. “Shh!

It was only then that Jinwoo noticed Myungjun was falling asleep. His eyes had fluttered shut and his lips were parted as small breaths left his mouth. He was fully leaning on Sanha at this point, relying on him for cuddling and snuggling and that should have been Jinwoo.

In fact, it should have been Jinwoo so much that Jinwoo was willing to make it so. He hurried over to the two boys and pushed at Sanha's back. “Up,” he demanded.

“Hyung, stop it! I was here first-”

Up!” Jinwoo snapped. “Or else I'll drag you from the room and force you outside without your coat.”

“You wouldn't dare do that.”

Jinwoo would dare. He grabbed onto Sanha's arm and began to tug. Fueled by desperation to not freeze, Sanha gave in rather quickly, scrambling to his feet and trying to make sure Myungjun leaned up against the couch instead of on his shoulder. “Fine!” he hissed. “Just because you're in love with Myungjun doesn't mean you have to-”

“Who the hell told you I was in love with him?”

Sanha rolled his eyes. “It's obvious, Hyung. You've been looking like you want to kill me since I first arrived, just because Myungjun likes me, too. I'm shocked Myungjun hasn't figured it out yet. I should tell-”

“You tell, I seriously will murder you!” Jinwoo threatened, and he pushed Sanha to his front door. “Go home and don't wake me up again at three in the morning for some stupid snow!”

(He had a vendetta against snow and Yoon Sanha, and he was only a little ashamed to admit as such.)

Sanha left hurriedly, not wishing to suffer the wrath of Jinwoo, and once he was out of the way, Jinwoo turned his attention onto Myungjun.

Myungjun's position didn't look very comfortable. Myungjun didn't look very comfortable in his sleepy state. He kept shifting, as if trying to find a better way to rest his head on the back of the couch, and a whine escaped through those bright, pink lips of his.

Jinwoo's heart was going to explode if Myungjun kept acting so cute.

And now that Sanha was gone, Jinwoo really could take his rightful spot. It was a lot more nerve-wracking than he thought it would be, however. He cleared his throat as he sat where Sanha once was, moving the blanket into his own lap.

“Myungjun?” he whispered, mostly to let the alien know that he was there.

Myungjun peeked through one of his eyes, and when he saw Jinwoo, he suddenly smiled brightly.

“Are you finally going to watch the snow with me?” he asked, then he yawned and shut his eye again.

Jinwoo snorted. “You don't seem like you're watching it,” he murmured, and Myungjun moved in order to properly lean his head into Jinwoo's shoulder, just as he had done for Sanha.

Except he didn't stop there. He cuddled closer, he squished his cheek up on Jinwoo as much as he could, and then he wrapped his arms around Jinwoo's waist. It was impossibly close, way closer than Sanha had been, and Jinwoo wondered if he was about to melt from all the physical affection that Myungjun was bestowing upon him.

All was quiet for a second. The moon shone over the blanket of snow, now completely ruined of its perfection from Sanha and Myungjun's playtime. A lopsided snowman hung out near the edge of the yard, short and stumpy and lacking a proper middle section, with three sticks protruding from his oversized head.

(Jinwoo didn't even know what they had been trying to create.)

Today, the sounds of snow was Myungjun's light breaths and the little pop he gave as he smacked his lips, and the soft hmm when he curled all the closer to Jinwoo's body.

And then Jinwoo felt the need to break such a perfect sound of snow. “Hey, Myungjun?”

“Mm?”

“Who do you like hugging better – me or Sanha?”

“You.”

The answer came with no hesitation, and Jinwoo grinned widely up at the stars.

“Hey, Myungjun?”

“Mm?”

“Who do you love better – me or snow?”

“You.”

(The stars twinkled. Jinwoo thanked them.)

 

Chapter Text

Since Myungjun's sweet confession had been blurted out, Jinwoo was willing to do whatever it was the alien requested. Build five more snowmen? Jinwoo was outside and ready to go. Hunt for squirrels up in the trees? Jinwoo hated climbing trees, but for Myungjun he would. Just lay down in the snow and try to catch snowflakes on their tongues? It was a weird idea, but Jinwoo was the first one out of the two of them to plop himself down in a snowbank and wait for Myungjun to join him.

In hindsight, he probably should have dressed as warmly as he made Myungjun dress.

(In hindsight, he shouldn't have given Myungjun all of his jackets to wear outside.)

Regardless, Jinwoo's body was clearly not prepared for the sudden influx of time spent outside in the cold in the middle of snowy weather. When he woke up the next morning, he expected to feel just as energized as he had been for the previous day.

Instead, his body felt sluggish and his head felt heavy and his throat felt sore.

He sniffled and realized he was sick.

Great,” he moaned out, rolling over in bed and pulling the covers up closer to him. He had promised Myungjun that they would continue to make a big snowman family (as it turned out, Myungjun was very much into the idea of actual families – he built a mother snowman and a father snowman and several children, and after Jinwoo told him about extended families, he was quite ready to make his snowman family grow even larger), but if he had caught some sort of bug, there was no way he would be able to head outside again.

Disappointing Myungjun was not an option, however. Jinwoo briefly wondered if he would die without proper warmth and rest, but he decided he could take that risk if it ensured Myungjun wouldn't be upset.

Which meant he would have to get up and get dressed and prepare himself to make the hundreds of snowmen that Myungjun had planned out for his snowman family.

But leaving his bed was proving to be rather difficult. Jinwoo kept giving himself small pep-talks, reminding himself that Myungjun loved him more than snow so it would be worth it, even if he did die in the process, and yet his limbs refused to actually move. He kept counting down time, telling himself, “Ten more seconds and we get up...okay, five extra seconds – a whole minute, I'll get up in-”

His door slammed open before he could try (and fail) to convince himself once more that he really needed to get started with his day. He blinked blearily at the intruder.

Of course it was Myungjun. It wouldn't be anybody but Myungjun.

He was dressed for cold weather already, too. He was bundled up in Jinwoo's coat with that hat on his head (he managed to put it on correctly this time – Jinwoo missed the sloppy, messy work from before) and that scarf wrapped around his neck. He even had gloves on, though Jinwoo noticed that the fingers were all mismatched.

“Good morning, Jinwoo!” Myungjun greeted cheerfully.

Jinwoo wondered if some sort of doctor could bottle up Myungjun's happiness and deliver it as medicine. Jinwoo was certain it would heal all sorts of ailments.

“I have some more plans for our snowmen.” Myungjun plopped down at the edge of Jinwoo's bed, looking quite like a giant marshmallow. He grinned, though, from behind his scarf as he began to rattle off his ideas. “So you said that a grandmother is important, but since that's very important, we should probably have at least three. I also remember you mentioning an uncle, which is still weird, but we can add several uncles, if you'd like. Those are the men, right? We need to add less hair, then, since they're men, and for the girls, we can use more of those twigs as hair. Do you think we'll have enough twigs? I also want them to have a lot of children, and I haven't decided if we need more girls or more boys.”

He had to get out of bed. Myungjun's eyes were sparkling as he discussed his snowman family, and Jinwoo had to get up to help him out with it.

But when he rolled over in order to finally release himself from his rest, he coughed a few times, which definitely caught Myungjun's attention.

“Jinwoo?” the alien's voice was quiet. “Jinwoo, are you alright?”

“Fine,” Jinwoo croaked out. It didn't take a genius to notice that his voice was hoarse and stuffy.

“You don't sound fine,” Myungjun worried, and he leaned in closer to examine Jinwoo's face. “Jinwoo, are you ill?”

“Nope.”

Myungjun narrowed his eyes at Jinwoo for a few seconds before hopping up from his seat. “You are ill! I recognize the symptoms from anywhere, Jinwoo! I've been ill before and I know what it's like.”

Jinwoo sighed loudly and moved to bury his face in the pillow. “We can still go outside-”

“When I was ill, they made me continue mining, and then I kept getting sicker and sicker, but they told me that since I was replaceable, it would be alright.” Myungjun gave Jinwoo's sweaty forehead a pat with his gloved hands. “But you are not replaceable, Jinwoo!”

“Neither are you,” Jinwoo retorted.

Myungjun smiled again, but he didn't pause to agree with that statement. “All we have to do is make sure that you get better! How long does it usually take humans to get better, Jinwoo?”

Jinwoo sniffed again, rubbing at his nose, then murmured, “It depends. Maybe a day or two? Sometimes longer, but this is just a cold, I don't think-”

“What's a cold?” Myungjun interrupted. His smile had disappeared and he blinked in confusion. “Like, outside is cold. Are you going to make snow, Jinwoo?”

Jinwoo struggled to contain his laughter – his poor, scratchy throat really didn't need that at the moment. “It just means I hung out in the cold too much, and now my throat is sore and my nose is stuffy and I just feel gross all over.”

“You hung out in the cold...?” Myungjun gasped, his hands coming up to cover his mouth. “Jinwoo? Because I kept asking you to play outside with me – did you get sick from that?

He hated seeing Myungjun look so fearful, and so he quickly backtracked. “I-I'm not sure what caused it. I think that's a myth, anyway, that you can catch a cold from being in the cold – it's probably just a small virus I caught. Sanha probably gave it to me, because he's a brat.”

“But then why didn't I catch it?” Myungjun asked. “I was with Sanha more than you were.”

Jinwoo gave a nervous chuckle. “Maybe because, um, because you're stronger than I am. Maybe your immune system is stronger than mine is. I'm...I'm really not sure.” Myungjun still didn't seem convinced, and Jinwoo noticed he was biting his bottom lip. “Myungjun, it is not your fault. I swear, you didn't cause any of this, alright? I promise, it just probably came from a virus that had been floating around and it so happened to land on me.”

“I wish it had landed on me, so that you wouldn't have to get sick,” Myungjun whispered. He finally lowered his hands completely, until they rested in his lap. “Jinwoo, what am I supposed to do? I need to get the sickness away so it won't kill you.”

“It won't kill-” Jinwoo's words were cut off then by a massive sneeze. He quickly moved to cover his mouth, ensuring none of his germs would transfer over to poor Myungjun, then took a few seconds to compose himself. “It won't kill me.”

Myungjun looked frightened with Jinwoo's current state, and he glanced frantically around the room before his eyes landed on Jinwoo's phone, still on the nightstand and plugged into its charger. “That's how you contact people, right?”

Jinwoo nodded his head. “Why?”

Without answering the question, Myungjun snatched the phone up and began pressing the screen. He didn't seem to know quite how to work it, however, and with a small whine, he held it over to Jinwoo. “I need to contact Best Friend Dongmin! He'll know exactly how to take care of you, I know he will! I'm useless right now, Jinwoo, I-I won't be able to do a thing, but Best Friend Dongmin probably knows the proper medication to heal you.”

“I'm not calling Dongmin.” Jinwoo had unlocked his phone, but when Myungjun explained his plan, he let it fall to the bed and he wrinkled his nose up at the alien. “He'll just fuss. It's better that he's not over here while I'm not feeling well.”

“Then I can go find him for you!” Myungjun exclaimed. “You said he lives close by, right? I can look into all of the houses-”

“Myungjun, no.” Jinwoo tried sitting up in bed, but Myungjun pushed him back down with a small shh. “Myungjun, stop, I'm not invalid. You're not going around in the cold in a vain attempt to find Dongmin.”

Myungjun pouted for a second, then crossed his arms over his chest. It looked as if it took some maneuvering to do so; Myungjun was so bundled up that his arms wouldn't move properly without a lot of effort.

(He was so adorable.)

“Then you can call him. Or else I really will go out and find him.”

It was difficult to take Myungjun seriously when his lower lip was jutted out and his eyes were narrowed in what Jinwoo assumed was a threatening stance. Whatever the case, he just looked like a child trying to play as an adult.

But Jinwoo knew better. Oh, boy, Jinwoo knew that Myungjun really would traverse the snow and knock on every single door he came across to find Dongmin. After all, Myungjun was the one who played outside in the snow for hours, starting at three in the morning.

Jinwoo didn't stand a chance next to such a determined alien, and he groaned in frustration. “You're making this so difficult, Myungjun,” he mumbled. Myungjun looked disappointed at first, but when Jinwoo dialed the number and brought the phone up to his ear, his face brightened.

“Good job, Jinwoo!” he praised, clapping his hands together. “Best Friend Dongmin will know just what to do!”

“If he's even awake- oh, god, he answered. Hi, Dongmin.” Jinwoo cleared his throat when Dongmin gave a soft grunt on the other end. Barely awake, then. “Listen, I've come down with a cold or something, and Myungjun's here in a panic, and he was wondering if you could come down for a bit. You don't have to, I'll be-”

“Who's Myungjun?”

The voice on the other end definitely did not belong to Dongmin. Jinwoo's eyes widened in alarm and he held back a light curse.

“Bin?”

“Yeah. Who's Myungjun, Hyung?”

“Why do you have Dongmin's phone?”

Bin yawned into the phone. “Dongmin left it in his bed. He got called into work. He said he doesn't need it, though, so he'll deal with it later tonight when he gets off – who's Myungjun?”

“You sound like a parrot. Stop repeating yourself.” Jinwoo buried his face into his hands, ignoring Myungjun's inquisitive gaze. Of course it was Bin who answered the phone. It wasn't as if the stars were trying to make things work in Jinwoo's favor, after all.

(Well, they had been doing a relatively good job at pleasing Jinwoo, but he supposed he had run out of luck.)

“Tell me who Myungjun is and I'll stop.”

“He's...he's no one. Just ignore it, Bin-”

“No way! You have a boy over at your house? A guy actually stayed with you? Was he there overnight?”

“Bin!”

Bin laughed loudly into the phone, and Jinwoo held it away from his ear. Even so, Bin's voice still rang out and Myungjun watched curiously as Jinwoo scowled at the voice. “I'm coming over to help poor, defenseless Jinwoo and his poor, panicky boyfriend-”

“If you come over, I'll kill you.”

Myungjun was the one to respond to that, wagging his finger seriously in Jinwoo's direction. “Jinwoo!” the alien whispered in a hiss. “Don't kill people! Especially people you know the names of!”

It was solid advice. Jinwoo would have to remember it next time he wanted to throttle Bin.

“I'm on the way, Hyung!” came Bin's reply to Jinwoo's anger, and then the line went dead.

Jinwoo flopped back down dramatically and gave a loud groan. His phone was deposited beside him. “Myungjun, look what you made me do!”

“Is Best Friend Dongmin on his way?”

No! Even worse.” Jinwoo sighed and stared up at the ceiling, wondering the lightning could come and strike him down. He prayed to the stars to make that happen. The stars ignored his requests and instead focused on what else they could do to ruin his life. “His boyfriend is coming over.”

Myungjun looked confused for a second before snapping his fingers and gasping. “Boyfriend, like, the person he goes out with and loves even more than a best friend? I get to meet a real, live boyfriend?” Myungjun hadn't seemed to catch onto Jinwoo's despair, and he excitedly stood up. “Do you think he'll like me, Jinwoo? Maybe he'll also love me more than a best friend-”

“Really, really not how boyfriends work,” Jinwoo mumbled, and he tossed a hand over his face. “Myungjun, there's so many problems with Bin coming over right now – the first of that being he thinks we...spent the night.”

“We did,” Myungjun responded. “We've been doing that for a while now.”

“But you can't let him know that!” Jinwoo took the hand off from over his eyes and looked up at Myungjun's smiling face. “Because he thinks it happened differently than what actually happened.”

Myungjun couldn't catch onto despair, and Myungjun couldn't catch onto the fact that, in Bin's mind, he was now a one-night stand.

“I don't get it.” Myungjun didn't lose his smile, but he looked far more confused. “How does he think it actually happened? I mean, we slept together. I don't think there's another meaning for sleep!” Myungjun giggled, a small snort escaping his nose, and when he calmed down from his laughter, he finally realized that Jinwoo didn't find any of this amusing. “There's...not another meaning for sleep, is there?”

“There's...one other meaning. It, um...” Jinwoo cleared his throat and averted his gaze. He couldn't stand to watch Myungjun's wide-eyed innocence disappear with the next word Jinwoo was about to utter. “It's...sex.”

There was silence. Jinwoo's heart beat wildly in his chest in anticipation. And then-

“Jinwoo? What's sex?

Jinwoo cried out before stuffing his head under his pillow. He was going to actually bawl. There was no way he could destroy Myungjun's naivety like that! It would be a single strike, a quick attack, and boom! Gone would be the sweet, gentle alien that Jinwoo loved and cared for so much, and in its place would be a shell of that as Myungjun finally grew to accept that Earth's ideas of fun and pleasure were far different than what he had always been aware of.

Jinwoo was going to forgo Myungjun's advice and kill Bin before he had the chance to question Myungjun about their nightly activities.

He popped up from his bed, ignoring Myungjun's exclamations of, “No, you need to rest, Jinwoo!” and rifled through his dresser.

Shirts were good for suffocating people, weren't they? As long as he wrapped it around Bin's mouth tightly enough-

The doorbell rang. Jinwoo wondered how fast Bin must have ran to make it there so quickly, and he looked over at his bedroom door in horror.

“I've got it!” Myungjun announced, then grabbed Jinwoo's shoulder. “And you go back to bed! Boyfriend Bin and I will take care of you today, got it?”

“Myungjun-” Jinwoo weakly protested, but in his state of illness, he was unable to deter Myungjun from his path to open the door and welcome Bin graciously into the small, cramped apartment.

And so Jinwoo was left trailing behind as Myungjun did just that. The alien grinned widely; Bin, on the other side of the door, looked amused.

“Good morning, Boyfriend Bin! My name is Myungjun, and I've been sleeping with Jinwoo for a few nights, but he's sick now and so I need help because I don't want him to die. Have you ever cared for a sick person before?”

Bin's eyes widened at the announcement, and he glanced over Myungjun's shoulder in order to share a look with Jinwoo.

(He seemed to be holding back laughter; Jinwoo's fingers gripped the shirt he was holding. It would be so easy to kill Bin right now.)

“Sleeping...?” Bin murmured. “Sleeping with Jinwoo?”

“Yes!” Myungjun appeared to be pleased at Bin's understanding.

“So...you and Jinwoo are sleeping together?”

“That's what I said.” Myungjun cleared his throat and ushered Bin farther into the apartment in order to shut the door and keep the warm air inside. “Oh, but Jinwoo told me it also means sex, which we may or may not have done, I'm not really sure if we did sex yet. Jinwoo, did we-”

“Nope.” Jinwoo wished he wasn't on the first story. He needed to fling himself out of the building. “Nope, nope, nope. Did not, Myungjun, we did not have sex. Nope.”

At least now the amusement was slipping off Bin's face as his eyes darted back and forth from Myungjun and Jinwoo. “So you two slept together but there...was no sex?”

Myungjun didn't catch onto Bin's confusion. (Jinwoo wasn't surprised with that.) “Exactly! But that's not important, I'll keep sleeping with him for a while, probably – right now, though, I need to get him better before he dies. Can you help me make sure he won't die, Boyfriend Bin?”

Bin blinked; the smile had been wiped away. “Wait, I'm...I'm really not following along with this conversation. Jinwoo, why is he calling me Boyfriend Bin, and why does he claim you guys slept together but you didn't have sex?”

“Jinwoo won't tell me what sex means,” Myungjun blurted out suddenly, looking quite upset to be kept in the dark. “But he told me that it also means sleep.”

“Are you for real?” Bin scoffed and worked on removing his coat (something Myungjun still had yet to do – Jinwoo wondered how he wasn't burning up in that). “Sex is when a man and a woman who love each other – wait, I guess since you are both guys, it's when two guys get together, and they remove all of their clothes, and-”

He didn't get to finish his explanation, due to the fact he had to ward off Jinwoo's strangulation attempts.

 

Chapter Text

As it turned out, Myungjun seemed to be at ease with pulling people apart from fights. The moment Jinwoo tackled Bin and Bin started pulling at his hair, Myungjun was on the scene, prying their hands off of each other and fussing all the while.

Jinwoo didn't know who was supposed to be taking care of who, really, but he figured Myungjun was probably far more mature than he was. He sat Jinwoo and Bin together on the couch; Bin glared angrily, whereas Jinwoo pretended that Bin didn't exist.

“I'm sure Jinwoo didn't mean to punch you,” Myungjun assured Bin as he handed over an icepack for Bin's face. “He's not the sort of person to go around hurting people!” And ignoring Bin's mumbled reply, Myungjun turned to Jinwoo. “And Bin was just explaining something to me that you weren't going to explain!” he complained, and he crossed his arms over his chest. “I don't think there's anything wrong with me knowing something that both of you already seem to know. Who else knows? Does Dongmin know?”

Jinwoo decided not to even comment on the fact that Myungjun actually managed to leave off the weird title of Best Friend from Dongmin's name. He was too frustrated with being treated like a petulant child.

“Of course Dongmin knows,” Bin responded with a scoff. “It's just a fact of life that you should know-” And he sent another pointed glare to Jinwoo, who simply looked away once again.

Myungjun seemed to be waiting for Jinwoo to say something, perhaps to explain exactly what it was he should know, but Jinwoo was steadfast in his determination to keep his mouth shut.

“Fine, then.” Myungjun was great at breaking up fights, and he was also great at looking extremely sassy.

(Jinwoo knew he had a crush on the right guy.)

“But you need to get some rest, and we need to get you something to heal you up nicely. Which is why I called Boyfriend Bin in here – Boyfriend Bin, what can I give Jinwoo to help him become better?” He turned his expectant gaze to Bin, who blinked and shrugged his shoulders.

“What's in it for me if I help?”

Myungjun seemed confused with the question, and he pointed at Jinwoo. “Boyfriend Bin, he's sick, and so he needs help to get better. I think I can help him by myself if you just give me some instructions, so that way you can sit there and try and nurse your bruise.”

“Right. The bruise.” Bin's lips tightened and he took the ice pack off of his cheek to display the blossoming black and blue colors spread out in a large circle. “That Jinwoo gave me because he punched me. Right. This one. Jinwoo, look at this! Do you know how awful and terrible this is? Do you really think friends actually do stuff like this to each other? It looks gross, and it hurts like hell, and-”

“It's not that bad.”

To the surprise of both boys, it had been Myungjun who spoke. He was staring at Bin with amusement, and when he noticed that all eyes were now on him, he grinned and patted his own cheek. “I got hurt here even worse once. It's really easy to heal, Boyfriend Bin, and it really isn't that bad. Besides, it just means that Jinwoo is super strong, doesn't it?”

Super strong.

Jinwoo is super strong.

Jinwoo liked to repeat certain words in his head, even more so when it was Myungjun who said those certain words. He felt his chest puff out slightly in pride and he tried so hard to hide the smile on his face. After all, he was supposed to still be mad at Myungjun for getting involved and stopping him from murder. He wasn't supposed to have all of his anger cleared away with such a compliment.

But, gosh, it was cleared away. It was all gone and Jinwoo held nothing but adoration for Myungjun and his stupid antics once again.

“I think I could go for some tea,” Jinwoo muttered, and he wondered if his cheeks were flushing from Myunjun's words. He hoped not, because Bin was glowering at him. “But I can make it. I don't want you-”

“I got it!” Myungjun interrupted excitedly. “I've seen you make tea before! You pour the water into that weird bowl and-”

“It's a kettle.”

“The kettle, yes! And then you place it on the hot part of that big box-”

“That's a stove.”

“Exactly! And then you press the buttons on the big bo- on the stove, sorry, you press some buttons and then you wait until the weird- kettle, I mean, until the kettle starts screaming at you, and then you pour that into a mug and there's a box with those weird bags attached to strings, and-”

Bin suddenly waved him off, cutting into Myungjun's own personal Tea Guide. “You get the process well enough, kid,” he mumbled, “so just go make it. I need to talk to Jinwoo privately, anyway.”

Myungjun's eyes were wide and his mouth was parted lightly. “Ooh. A private talk! Jinwoo, will you tell me what you guys talked about when I'm done?”

Myungjun looked so sweet and youthful and innocent, and Jinwoo finally broke and smiled widely at him. “Sure, Myungjun!”

With the promise he would be told all the secrets in due time, Myungjun scurried off into the kitchen, and Jinwoo turned his full attention onto Bin.

(He definitely lost the smile.)

“Who is he?” was what Bin instantly started with. The ice pack was back on his bruise, squishing lightly against his cheek (and it was difficult to take him seriously that way). “Don't lie to me, Jinwoo; he's weird, and I'm getting my suspicions that all of Dongmin's alien talk hasn't just been stupid, drunken rants.”

Jinwoo shifted uncomfortably where he sat before leaning up against the couch. Now that all was finally still and he was no longer trying to strangle Bin, the cold had hit him again at full blast. His throat felt even scratchier than it had when he first woke up, and he felt extremely groggy. Still, he supposed Bin deserved an explanation; after all, that bruise did look nasty. “He's...not from this planet,” Jinwoo murmured. “I know it sounds weird and hard to believe, but...trust me, if both Dongmin and myself think he's an alien, obviously there has to be some truth to our words, right?”

Bin nodded his head slowly and he glanced to the kitchen, where Myungjun was making a lot of noise in his attempt to find the kettle. “Hard to believe, but I've always believed in aliens, so I get it. Though I didn't expect an alien to look human. Are all his parts human?”

“His parts?” Jinwoo groaned and tried to hide the blush that was overtaking his cheeks. “God, Binnie, I don't know. I'd guess so, but I'm not going to check if they are or not.”

“I will, then,” Bin teased, and Jinwoo smacked him once more. “Okay, okay, I'm joking. How'd he come down here, anyway, and why is he living with you?”

And because Jinwoo knew it would take Myungjun a very long time to make a simple pot of tea, he began to relay the previous few weeks to Bin, explaining just how he found Myungjun in his apartment and why he kept Myungjun in his apartment. Perhaps his tone was softer when discussing Myungjun's finer points, or perhaps he kept staring longingly towards the kitchen whenever there was a pause in his explanation, but Bin seemed to catch on to Jinwoo's feelings rather quickly.

“You like him?”

“That's stupid to say. Of course I don't like an alien.”

Bin smirked and leaned in closer to Jinwoo. “Is this why you're so reluctant to tell him how sex works? Because you like him?”

Jinwoo just scowled, which seemed to egg Bin on.

(Jinwoo forgot that Bin fed on the discomfort of others.)

“Though most people who like someone else would be ecstatic to teach this someone else about sex. Hands-on learning works best, after-”

“Jesus christ, Bin, can you not be so lewd?” Jinwoo ran his fingers through his hair and ignored Bin's giggling. “I'm just not ready to tell him.”

“He's not a kid, Jinwoo. He's an adult.”

“He's an alien, first and foremost, and an innocent, sweet one at that.”

Bin hummed lightly in response, then poked Jinwoo's shoulder. “I'm shocked he doesn't already know. You mentioned that he was made, but other people where he came from were born normally. So he has to know at least where babies come from, right?” Before Jinwoo could make any effort to reply, Bin added on, “Besides that, he's not going to lose his innocence from knowing a simple fact of life.”

“Bin-”

“What about Sanha? Sanha knows. Sanha's been through the sex-ed classes, and is he any less innocent than he was before?”

“Sanha's a demon child,” Jinwoo answered in frustration, recalling just how happy Sanha had looked to be embracing Myungjun a few days prior.

“He was a demon child before sex-ed, so that doesn't count. He's still innocent, though. I kissed Dongmin the other day and Sanha squealed and covered his eyes.”

“I think he plays it up.”

Bin sighed, obviously irritated by Jinwoo, and gestured frantically toward the kitchen. “He deserves to know, Jinwoo! Especially if you've been harboring all of these emotions for him and pining after him from afar.”

“But I don't want to do anything with him!” Jinwoo exclaimed. (Yet, his mind supplied.) “If we do start something, I just want to...to hold his hand and maybe cuddle with him and all those stupid, lame things that Sanha thinks dating is.”

“That is really lame,” Bin agreed, earning himself a glare from Jinwoo. “Nothing has to come out of it if you tell him, except the good feeling you'll get when your alien friend becomes more like an Earth-human.”

And as much as Jinwoo wanted to ignore Bin's words, Bin was right. He had been teaching Myungjun about everything involving how people on Earth operated, and if he skipped over such vital information as how we're made, Myungjun would be left in the dark and everyone else around him would understand and know something that he did not.

On top of that, he couldn't keep coddling Myungjun as one would a child. He couldn't shy him away from mature subjects such as sex. Wouldn't that be some form of manipulation? Keeping Myungjun around just because he was cute and innocent?

Jinwoo groaned and buried his face into his hands. After a minute of silence, he grumbled out, “I'll teach him about it tomorrow. I've never told anyone about it myself, so I have to prepare a few things-”

“Hands-on experience?”

Myungjun wasn't there to stop him, and so Jinwoo decided to try strangling Bin again. Of course, Bin just laughed and warded off Jinwoo's attempts with hardly any effort at all, and when Myungjun finally came back in the room, Jinwoo had given up already, curling in on himself and coughing into his hands.

Myungjun instantly cooed over him and hurried forward, carrying a mug in his hands. Jinwoo noticed the tea bag still in it, and he straightened up. “You actually made tea?” he questioned.

Myungjun beamed widely and passed over the mug. “I pick up on these Earth things rather quickly!” he announced.

(Jinwoo hoped he wouldn't pick up on sex as quickly as he had tea-making.)

“Except I burnt the teapot because I think I made the numbers on that metal box go up too high and so it got too hot.”

(Jinwoo hoped he would pick up on sex as quickly as he had tea-making.)

“It's fine. I can survive with the kettle being a little burnt.” He sipped at the tea, ignoring, for now, the tea bag that was tossed inside, and smacked his lips.

It tasted like hot water.

“Did I do good?” Myungjun asked, and Jinwoo couldn't say no when his eyes were wide with anticipation.

“Perfect,” he replied. “There's a little issue of it...it just tastes a little off, but that's a mistake I make all of the time, too. Besides, I like how it tastes. Next time, let's make it together, okay?”

He had hoped his words would go over nicely; fortunately, Myungjun clapped his hands once in enthusiasm. “I'd love to make tea with you, Jinwoo! That would be the best gift ever!”

How could Myungjun always make him feel like he was on top of the world? How could Myungjun have taken all of the happiness and displayed it in such exuberance that it made the sun and the stars shine weak in comparison? How could Myungjun love him in such a manner?

It might not be a romantic love; Jinwoo was well-aware of how Myungjun's love worked, and he was prepared to accept his status as better than snow, but not quite there. He was able to be the most loved thing in Myungjun's life, even if Myungjun would never understand that love was something different.

Because if Myungjun was so excited to just spend time with him, then Jinwoo could be loved in Myungjun's own, unique way.

“What does he need next, Boyfriend Bin?” Myungjun had turned his attention onto Bin now, who was looking down at Jinwoo's tea in distaste. “Plenty of rest, correct?”

“Yeah. And medicine. Or you could just go to the hospital, Jinwoo-”

“I'm going to let Myungjun take care of me,” Jinwoo retorted proudly. “He's doing a fantastic job. I bet the doctors couldn't even do better.”

With his words, Myungjun grinned shyly and ducked his head. Bin didn't seem as impressed, and he snorted. “Sure. Trained professionals can't heal your cold, but this alien who crash-landed into Earth and doesn't even know about basic concepts like sex – yup, he can definitely do a better job than those pesky doctors.”

“One thing will help me feel a lot better, Myungjun, and that's if we kick Boyfriend Bin out of my apartment.”

Myungjun's head shot up and he looked conflicted for a few seconds. However, he finally sighed and stood from his seat. “Alright, Boyfriend Bin. You need to leave now. I think I can do the rest of it on my own, but Jinwoo needs time to heal, and if you're somehow ruining his healing abilities, I can't let you stick around any longer.”

Bin didn't seem too upset at being told to vacate the premises. He simply shrugged his shoulders and wrapped himself up in his coat once again. “The only reason I came down here was to see Jinwoo's one-night stand, and I was very disappointed by that. All I got was some weird alien.”

“He knows?” Myungjun gasped and glanced over at Jinwoo. “Should we kill him?”

(Jinwoo had told Myungjun the other day, “Never let anyone know you're an alien. It's bad if they do.”

“What should we do if they somehow figure out?” Myungjun had asked worriedly.

“I don't know. Kill them or- that was a joke, Myungjun, please don't grab the kitchen knife.”)

“I think we can probably let him live for a bit longer,” Jinwoo teased, and he smiled up at Bin. “Watch your step, though, Bin. You don't know what an alien is capable of.”

(But, to be honest, Jinwoo was certain that Myungjun would never be able to kill anybody. He was simply too sweet and too kind.)

“The only person who'd believe me is Sanha, anyway, and I'm still not on speaking terms with him after he woke me up at three in the morning, banging on Dongmin's door and requesting that we come out and play with him.” Bin scoffed and tugged the beanie on over his hair. “Jinwoo – tell Myungjun about the birds and the bees, or I'll do it for you. And, trust me, I have plenty of videos I could show him as a resource-”

Jinwoo threw a pillow at Bin, who gleefully dodged it before scurrying out the front door and into the snow.

At least with Bin gone, Jinwoo now wouldn't have to worry about that valuable and explicit information being blurted out; however, this also entailed that he was going to have to come up with a way to explain sex to an alien who had been created in some weird factory.

Great.

“Boyfriend Bin mentioned some sort of medicine,” Myungjun suddenly blurted out, jolting Jinwoo from his thoughts. “Where is that? Can I give you some medicine?”

Jinwoo blinked, then rubbed at his head. “Oh. Sure. Um, it's in the bathroom in a big, pink bottle – you can just bring the whole thing in here, and a spoon, too, and I can take it myself.”

But he wasn't able to just pour it and take it himself. Myungjun brought it all back, but then he demanded to be told exactly how much to give, and when Jinwoo tried to reach out and grab the spoon, Myungjun tugged it away and exclaimed, “I'm the one taking care of you, so I'm going to give it to you.”

Myungjun was gentle, though, as he stuck the spoon in Jinwoo's mouth and waited for him to swallow. And Myungjun cleaned everything up, even the tea that Jinwoo hardly drank any of.

And when Jinwoo clambered back in his bed, Myungjun was right beside him to pull up the covers and make sure Jinwoo was tucked in nicely.

“Anything else will make you feel better?” Myungjun asked after setting a glass of water on the bedside table. “I can do anything you want me to!”

Jinwoo had nothing but the dumbest of requests. He wiggled his fingers slightly and glanced down at his hand, clammy and sweaty from his sickness (and from being wrapped in all the blankets that Myungjun could find). His request wouldn't really help him feel better, probably; not in any scientific way, at least. It wasn't something doctors would prescribe or recommend to sick patients, and yet Jinwoo was certain that his spirits, at least, would be lifted if only he could just-

“Hold my hand?”

Myungjun looked down at Jinwoo's outstretched hand, and with very little hesitation, he grabbed onto it. Their fingers enveloped together; Myungjun's hands were rougher than Jinwoo's were, probably from years of working on his planet, but it felt perfect. It was comforting and warm and Jinwoo never wanted to let go.

“Will you get better if you hold my hand?” Myungjun asked in a hushed whisper.

Jinwoo met his gaze; his lips were tugged up in a bright smile, and his eyes held all of the stars in them.

“I'll get better if I hold your hand,” Jinwoo assured.

 

Chapter Text

Jinwoo was correct; he got better because he held Myungjun's hand.

(Now, of course, causation did not equal correlation. Jinwoo knew that. He could have gotten better because he took his medication or because he drank his tea-flavored hot water, but he preferred to believe that Myungjun's amazing hand had healed him of all ailments.)

Unfortunately, the sickness hadn't left the apartment just yet. It had simply transferred hosts. When Jinwoo awoke, Myungjun was sniffling and clearing his throat and looking very much uncomfortable. Even so, he smiled widely when he realized Jinwoo had risen from his slumber.

“You're awake!” Myungjun announced. His voice was hoarse. “Are you feeling better?”

Jinwoo couldn't recall the last time he had gotten over a sickness so quickly. He blinked and sat up. He was no longer sluggish or sore or downright miserable. “I'm...better, yeah.” His voice was back to normal, as well. He glanced over at Myungjun, at his red nose and droopy eyes, and his heart felt like it was being ripped out of his chest. “Did I get you sick?”

“What?” Myungjun scoffed and waved a hand in dismissal. “As if! Remember what you said yesterday? I'm too strong to get sick.”

Jinwoo stared at Myungjun; Myungjun was content on returning the stare, and Jinwoo almost believed the alien, until Myungjun let out an explosive sneeze and then fell on Jinwoo's bed with a groan.

“Jinwoo. I'm weak.”

“You're not weak.” Jinwoo gave a slight tsk as he maneuvered out of bed. Great. He should have known better than to hold Myungjun's hand as he slept. Obviously Myungjun wasn't yet used to Earth's illnesses and diseases. What if he couldn't recover from a simple cold? What if this actually killed him?

Worry overtook Jinwoo's entire being, and he began to force Myungjun to lay down. “I shouldn't have touched you. I should have stayed far away from you – I didn't even consider that you could catch my cold.”

Myungjun gave another sniffle. “I caught your cold?”

“Looks like it.” Jinwoo was hovering around Myungjun, pulling the covers up to his chin and tucking him in properly so that he could remain nice and warm. “What do you need, Myungjun? Anything at all? Can I make you some tea – I think the tea would help your throat, if your throat is scratchy. I can get you some medicine, as well, and maybe-”

“I'm perfectly fine,” Myungjun responded, and then he coughed into his hand. “It's not even that bad. I've had worse!”

His smile was bright and brilliant and it stabbed Jinwoo right through the heart. He had knowledge that Myungjun was worked even while suffering from some other sort of disease, and yet he still managed to remain so cheerful.

(Jinwoo decided that if he could ever get to space, he would find Myungjun's planet and beat up everyone who had ever wronged him.)

“Yeah, well, if you want to recover quickly, you need to stay in bed,” Jinwoo commanded, and he mussed Myungjun's hair ever so slightly. “I'll make you some tea, okay? And I'll bring some medicine over, too, that you can take. Just stay in bed for a little while and things will be fine.”

“But, Jinwoo...” Myungjun frowned and his eyes turned to the small window at the end of Jinwoo's room. He stared out at the white landscape, at all of the snow that was starting to melt away with the arrival of the sun and warmer weather. “I wanted to go play. And the man on the box that talks said-”

“The television?”

“The...smaller one, the cuter one-”

“Oh. My laptop.”

“Yeah!” Myungjun nodded in enthusiasm. “That one! I found the place where they talk about the weather, and the man said that the snow was supposed to go away by tomorrow morning. And if I'm in bed all day long, I'm going to miss all of the snow!”

Of course it was about the snow. Jinwoo felt a little prick of jealousy try to rise its way its way up to his chest before he remembered that Myungjun had chosen him. Myungjun had said that he was more loved than the snow was.

(And then he remembered it was stupid to be jealous of snow.)

“Maybe the weatherman is wrong,” he helpfully suggested, giving Myungjun a wide smile. “Sometimes they're wrong, you know. Maybe it will stay until later tomorrow, and if you're all better by tomorrow morning, we can go out and finish building our snowman family.”

Myungjun bit his lip, the worry evident in his gaze. “But what if the weatherman is right?

“Then...then he's right.” Jinwoo wasn't sure what else he was supposed to say, so he simply shrugged his shoulders and moved some of Myungjun's hair away from his eyes. He needed to take Myungjun to the salon for a haircut sooner or later. “And the snow will melt away, but it might snow again later this winter. And even if it doesn't, then it will snow again next winter.”

His words seemed to satisfy Myungjun enough. “Alright. Next winter, then. When is next winter?”

“In a year.”

Myungjun nodded his head, but asked, “How long is a year?”

He forgot that Myungjun's concept of time was different than his own; according to Myungjun, his planet had longer hours of sunlight, thus making the months and years a little wonky. “So you know our days are the twenty-four hour cycle, right?” he asked. Myungjun nodded again. “So take that...and it's over three hundred times.”

“Over three hundred days?” Myungjun gasped. “I have to wait over three hundred days to see the snow again?”

“More or less. Probably less. Definitely less,” Jinwoo added, noticing the heartbroken expression written on Myungjun's face. “It'll snow again soon.” And if it didn't, then Jinwoo was fully prepared to fight the weather.

Myungjun didn't look entirely convinced, though. He still stared longingly out at the window, at all the snow that was soon to melt, and played with the blanket Jinwoo had wrapped him on up in. “Are you sure I can't go out?” he murmured, his voice soft and questioning. “I've done worse, Jinwoo, it really isn't that bad if I get a little more sick-”

“No.” Jinwoo didn't want to see Myungjun worsen his condition over snow. And he certainly didn't like the reminders he was being given that Myungjun's life was once far from happy and healthy. He couldn't imagine anyone taking one look at him, at his red nose and pitiful face and pouty lips, and deciding that he needed to work rather than rest.

He couldn't imagine anyone finding Myungjun replaceable.

“You're staying in bed, and that's that.” He felt Myungjun's forehead, pushing back his bangs in order to make sure that it was just a cold and Myungjun wasn't actually harboring some sort of deadly fever, and then he sighed. “It's not going to take long to heal, probably, but I do need you to rest, okay? I don't want you to get even more sick. You were sick when you were on your planet, right? I bet it was bad when you didn't get a chance to rest it off.”

Myungjun blinked up at Jinwoo, looking very much confused. He finally responded, “I knew, though, if I stopped, they could just get rid of me.”

“What do you mean, get rid of you?” Jinwoo hated the sound of that. He hated how casual Myungjun appeared to be about it all in general, too. He hated how it had become so normal in Myungjun's life that all else was odd. “They can't do that.”

“They did it to everyone else.” Myungjun swallowed thickly and seemed to take a few seconds to compose himself before plastering a large smile on his face. “I worked through my sickness to make sure they wouldn't do it to me. And isn't it good that I did? If I was disposed of, I wouldn't be able to make it down to Earth to see you, Jinwoo!”

It was definite. Jinwoo was going to become a rocket scientist, build a spaceship, and beat up everyone on Myungjun's planet.

“I'm glad you weren't disposed of,” Jinwoo murmured, and he bit down harshly on his lip. “Promise that you're going to stay on Earth from now on? Promise that you won't try to leave and find somewhere else?”

“Nowhere else would be as wonderful as Earth is, Jinwoo.” He was sincere in this statement, too; Jinwoo had been around Myungjun long enough now to understand when he truly meant something and when he was just trying to convince Jinwoo of something. And the fact that Myungjun could finally be comfortable somewhere, could finally be with people who felt he was more than a replaceable worker, made Jinwoo feel more at ease.

He nodded his head and took a deep breath. He couldn't get all emotional in front of Myungjun; Myungjun would get up, regardless of his illness, and try to do everything in his power to make him feel better.

“Could...could I go make you that tea now?” he asked. “It'll warm your throat. I think you'd like it.”

“I always like your tea, Jinwoo!” Myungjun exclaimed, and he snuggled closer down into the covers, seeming content (finally) to be looked after in his time of bad health. “I think you make it better than I do!”

“Not possible.” Jinwoo couldn't help but smile, which Myungjun readily returned. “Just stay here, okay? Don't move much.”

Fortunately for Jinwoo, Myungjun did seem to be taking his commands to heart. He allowed Jinwoo to baby him for the entire day, to set damp washcloths on his forehead and deliver fresh tissues whenever he needed them and lull him to sleep with simple stories of things that had happened at work.

(“They threw a drink at you because you delivered the wrong food to them?” Myungjun asked with wide eyes.

“It's okay. I probably should have paid closer attention,” Jinwoo responded as he parted Myungjun's hair. Secretly, though, he liked seeing Myungjun look appalled with the way Jinwoo had been treated, though he certainly wasn't going to mention it.)

At some point during Jinwoo's intense session of care and concern, they both fell asleep. Myungjun drifted off first, and Jinwoo, bored now with no one to talk to and nothing to do, had also caved to the pulls of sleep a few minutes later. His back was stiff and uncomfortable in the small chair Myungjun had pulled in from his kitchen just yesterday, when Jinwoo had been the one sick and sniffling.

(Jinwoo felt bad for making Myungjun sleep on such a hard chair all throughout the night. He felt like he had single-handedly propelled Myungjun's cold by not allowing him a spot on the bed.)

Usually Jinwoo was a heavy sleeper, but in such a position, he found it difficult to be one. Therefore, when he heard movement, Myungjun shifting and the mattress squeaking as he moved, he was blinking himself awake, yawning and rubbing at his eyes. “I didn't mean to fall asleep,” he mumbled out. “How was your nap, Myungjun? Did you sleep-”

His question trailed off as he gathered his focus on the alien.

Myungjun was crying.

It wasn't like the time he cried at the snow. It wasn't like those tears of an overwhelmed sense of adoration and wonder and love.

His face was screwed up as he struggled to keep his sobs quiet, his teeth held down in a grimace and his fists balled up in his hair, as if tugging at the strands would cause his body to obey his command to stay silent. His shoulders shook with the repressed wails he kept inside, and when Jinwoo was able to actually catch a glimpse of Myungjun's eyes, he noticed in them fear and panic.

“Myungjun?” Jinwoo lowered his voice down to a whisper and leaned forward. “Myungjun, what's...what's the matter, Myungjun?”

Myungjun sniffed, then gave a cough, his breath hitching as he struggled to breathe properly again afterwards. He didn't speak at first, and Jinwoo was certain he might not explain the situation for a while.

“You don't have to tell-”

“I want to stay here forever.”

It was a spilled confession, a request in some way, as Myungjun met Jinwoo's gaze with the worried one of his own. “I-I-I know you said I could, but- Jinwoo, please don't let me ever go back!”

“Of course I won't,” Jinwoo responded, and he reached over to grasp one of Myungjun's hands. He rubbed his fingers over his skin and gave him quiet shhs, deciding that comfort and closeness was probably the best remedy at this point. “Myungjun, you're stuck with me, I think. I'm not letting you ever leave.”

Myungjun had a few tears rolling down his cheeks. One of them curved over his nose before dripping down and stopping at the small dip in his lips, at the small frown that had taken over Myungjun's normally-cheerful features. “I hate my planet,” Myungjun said, and his voice was hushed.

Jinwoo had never heard of Myungjun hating anything. Myungjun loved even the most simple of objects that he found on Earth; he loved the blades of grass and he loved the tires on cars and he loved the loud noise Jinwoo's old laptop made as it booted up.

He hated nothing. Or, at least, so Jinwoo had thought.

But Jinwoo didn't respond. He wasn't sure how exactly he should reply to such a statement, so instead he nodded his head.

(He hated Myungjun's planet, too.)

“I like it here,” Myungjun continued. Jinwoo could hear the sick in his voice, the heavy tone that had taken over as he spoke around the sore feeling in his throat. “You act like...like I'm important. You act like I wasn't ma-made in a factory and used only to mine ores.” He sniffed again and used his hand to wipe his nose. “Back on-on my planet, I was told I was replaceable. If-if I got too sick to work, or if the mines caved in on me, they'd find someone else.”

Myungjun glanced down at their hands. He didn't seem interested in making any form of eye contact. Instead, he kept his focus solely on Jinwoo's fingers as they rubbed comfortingly at his skin. “I had seen other workers get sick. Some of them couldn't get out of bed. If they still didn't get up when our overseer told them to, they were forcibly taken away, and they'd never come back. I was scared of that happening to me, so...so when I got sick, I kept working.” His eyes shone with unshed tears, glistening as he finally moved his head to look up at Jinwoo. “But I was slow because I felt bad. The overseer started hitting me to make me work faster. If he was standing away from me and saw me slacking off, he would throw rocks at me. Some of them cut me. It hurt a lot, but I was trying my best. My body just wouldn't go fast enough.”

Jinwoo didn't like the way his imagination filled in the pictures for him. He didn't like the short snapshots of Myungjun's life that he had been given.

“When I got better, I worked harder though, to make up for it all.” Myungjun's lips were tight as he lowered his gaze once more. “But all I wanted to do was leave. I saw how the wealthy citizens of our planet would live. They were happy and they had affection for each other. I had never loved anything before in my whole life. I was told that...that I couldn't love because I was just a worker who was made in some sort of factory.”

With his free hand, Myungjun wiped at his own cheeks, rubbing at them in an effort to free himself of his tears. “But I came here and I loved it. I loved your apartment the moment I came inside, because it's small and messy but it's warm and welcoming, and you had milk and keys in here. And-and I loved the park we went to, because it wasn't brown and dusty. It was green and bright and people were happy to just sit on a bench and enjoy life. And even the evil squirrels looked like they were having fun.

“And I love the snow. That's one of the best parts. It's quiet and it covers everything and when I'm out with the snow, I feel like it's gathering up my entire past life and telling me that I don't need to think of it anymore. When I make footprints in the snow, or snowmen, or the snow angels, it stays there and it's like I'm part of life. It's like it's accepting me, as a person and not as a worker, and...” He trailed off, filled once again with emotions he couldn't contain. Jinwoo saw his bottom lip quivering.

“You just want me to let you out to play more, don't you?” Jinwoo murmured, trying to lighten the mood a little bit. Fortunately, it worked; Myungjun gave a breathy laugh before sniffing and running his hand across his face once more.

“Right now, I'd rather stay in here with you,” the alien admitted once he seemed to have composed himself enough to do so. “Even if you aren't snow, I still think you're amazing.”

“I'm fine with being second place to snow.” Jinwoo could accept it, at least; he could accept that the snow gave way under Myungjun's figure, that it was molded into shape by Myungjun's hands, and it left Myungjun's mark on the world. He could accept that snow made Myungjun feel as if he was important-

But Jinwoo was determined to do the same thing that snow could, so he leaned forward once more, straightening out Myungjun's shirt and gently caressing his hand.

“Myungjun?” He waited until Myungjun's attention was solely on him, until the red-rimmed eyes wouldn't look over at anything else. “The moment you came here, I think my life changed. I'm happy now. I'm confident in myself now. I'm...”

I'm in love with you, he wanted to say, in love with the brightness and the smile and the stars that reflected in Myungjun's piercing gaze. But the words stuck in his throat, and all he could say instead was, “I think you're the most important thing in the world.”

He couldn't say what he truly felt, but it was okay, because with those words, Myungjun offered a watery smile before ducking his head and leaning into Jinwoo's chest. It was okay for now that Myungjun remained unaware of Jinwoo's love.

It was more important that Myungjun became aware of how special he truly was.

 

Chapter Text

Myungjun's cold seemed very content with sticking to him for more than a few days. Jinwoo had assumed it would come and go as quickly as it had for him, but after the third day had passed with no sign of improvement, he was beginning to wonder if he should just take Myungjun to the hospital.

But that would entail spilling the secret about Myungjun's identity when they did any form of blood work. Jinwoo wasn't willing to allow the government to get involved and take Myungjun from him, and so it fell on his shoulders to do the work that doctors would probably be far better at.

And, unfortunately, Myungjun wasn't as wonderful as a patient as Jinwoo had originally believed he would have been. He was restless and bored, and Jinwoo knew that it must be no fun being confined to a bed all day long, but he really did wish that Myungjun would stop trying to sneak outside in order to relieve himself of some pent-up energy.

The third time Jinwoo caught him dressing, he said nothing, but he figured his look of disappointment was what made Myungjun pout and slowly remove the scarf from around his neck. “I just thought...I feel better today!”

“You're still sick. I can hear it in your voice.”

“I feel better!” Myungjun disguised his voice this time, taking on a deeper vibrato. Jinwoo smiled, though he shook his head regardless, and when he realized that he wasn't going to get anywhere, Myungjun gave a loud sigh and pulled the cap up from his head, revealing messy, greasy bed-hair. “I wouldn't be outside for that long, Jinwoo. I don't think it'll hurt me anymore than the cold already has, would it?”

“It definitely would,” Jinwoo responded. He helped Myungjun take off his jacket before sighing. “You didn't even change out of your pajamas, and you expected to be fine going outside?” Myungjun had the defiant expression down to a pat, Jinwoo noticed, and he gave a loud sigh. “Myungjun, you know I don't want you getting any more sick! After what...what you told me, about your pla-”

“Nuh-uh!” Myungjun shook his head quickly and put a finger up to Jinwoo's lips, effectively silencing him.

Ever since Myungjun had woken up crying and talking about his past, he seemed to not want to discuss it again. Whenever Jinwoo attempted to bring up anything about it, Myungjun would shrug it off, pretend he had no clue what Jinwoo was referring to, or just loudly start talking about a new subject. And, really, Jinwoo didn't like it. He needed Myungjun to discuss that moment of weakness, to ensure that he really wasn't just suffering by himself, but he was unable to get more than a few words in before he was interrupted.

But it was something that needed to be discussed, wasn't it? If Myungjun was actually bottling things up, Jinwoo knew it wouldn't be healthy for him.

“Myungjun-”

“I'll get back in bed if you want me to, Jinwoo, let's just-”

“I think it's something we need to bring up. I think it's something we need to sit down and fully-”

“I don't want to.”

“Myungjun-”

“I don't want to remember all the stuff that happened.” Myungjun looked nervous and anxious, and he played with the beanie that he still held in his hands. “I'm fine now, Jinwoo. I promise, I'm fine. But the more I think about it, the more I'm reminded of how bad I had it back there as opposed to here. I just don't want to live in the past anymore, so can...can I just focus on my life right now? Can I focus on what my life is like living here, with you?”

He was convincing, at least, and Jinwoo realized that maybe he was trying to push too hard. Myungjun would talk when, and if, he was ready. Trying to force him into a discussion wouldn't help anybody.

Jinwoo gently took the hat from Myungjun and nodded his head. “I'm sorry for-”

“Don't be sorry!” Myungjun seemed to brighten up when he realized that he wasn't going to have to get deep and emotional about his difficulties before coming to Earth. “I can get back in bed now, if you'd like me to!”

Jinwoo definitely would. Lord knows he didn't need an alien getting even more sick on his watch, and so with a smirk, he began to herd Myungjun back into the bedroom. “I can't believe you were trying to escape. Most of the snow is melted, anyway.”

“I need to save my snowmen, though.” As Myungjun was pushed back into bed, he coughed once, then grabbed onto Jinwoo's hand. “You can go save them! Bring them inside to make sure they can remain nice and warm! One of them is looking really lopsided today.”

“Of course he's lopsided. He's melting.”

Myungjun looked horrified, and Jinwoo held back a giggle. “It's not real, Myungjun. And if I bring him inside, he'll just melt even faster, since it's warmer in here.” He pulled the covers up to Myungjun's chin, then grabbed the tissue box on the bedside table and stuffed it beside Myungjun. “And, like I said, we can go out whenever it snows again and make as many snowmen as you want! I know how much you love them.”

It was still all about the snow. Jinwoo couldn't catch a break, it seemed. No matter how hard he tried to prove he was a person worthy of love, Myungjun just couldn't seem to grasp onto the concept of loving Jinwoo in a different manner than loving snow.

And it was okay. At least, Jinwoo told himself that it was okay as he set up his laptop with the documentaries that Myungjun had begun to enjoy watching. He flipped through a few of them, directed by Myungjun's tirade of, “Seen that. Seen that. Seen that. Wait, what's this one about?”

Jinwoo stopped his scrolling to look at it. “It's a history one, about life hundreds of years ago.” He didn't know if Myungjun would appreciate historical documentaries. He never seemed interested before, but he guessed that Myungjun might have watched all of the nature-related ones during his sick days and days when Jinwoo had work. Perhaps it was finally time to branch out some.

Myungjun seemed enthusiastic about the small screenshot displayed, pointing out the funny hats that they were wearing, and Jinwoo took it as a signal to go ahead and start it up. As the opening credits began to roll, he mussed Myungjun's hair.

“How about I make you some soup while you watch this?” he asked.

Myungjun had been fascinated in Jinwoo's laptop since Day One on Earth, and today was no different. He couldn't take his eyes off the screen, only nodding in response to Jinwoo's question. Jinwoo smiled and removed his hand from Myungjun's tousled hair.

(He also reminded himself that he was going to have to make Myungjun shower, even if he felt that rest was far more important than clean hair at the moment.)

Preparing the soup was easy enough. Jinwoo had learned, through trial and error, just what foods exactly Myungjun could eat in solid form. He didn't add chicken, as it appeared meat was off the menu for the time being, but a few vegetables were thrown into the broth. As long as they were a little mushy, Myungjun seemed to take them okay.

Myungjun promised that he'd be up for chicken one day, but Jinwoo wasn't willing to try it when he was sick.

He didn't add as many flavorings as he normally did, either; not for this batch. While he was sure that intense flavors were probably only bad with fevers, he decided it wouldn't do good to make Myungjun even more sick when he was still trying to recover.

(While Jinwoo didn't ask for any credit or acknowledgment of his good deeds in caring for an alien, he at least hoped that the stars would take notice and grant him more luck.)

It took an hour or two to complete his soup. He set it on a tray, adding a cup of water and Myungjun's daily cold medication to the batch before balancing it in his hands and walking carefully back to his bedroom.

Myungjun's documentary had been finished, and he was clicking around on the laptop.

(Jinwoo still wasn't convinced that Myungjun even knew how to use it – from what he could tell, Myungjun would literally just click, but he seemed excited enough with whatever it was he was clicking on, so Jinwoo wasn't going to direct him to do more.)

“How was it?” Jinwoo asked as he moved the laptop aside and set the tray down.

Myungjun eagerly accepted the food that Jinwoo had to offer, a large smile on his face. “Great! I've learned a lot about your world, Jinwoo. I mean, more than just animals and plants; I'm learning what life used to be like.” He slurped at the broth, and after a few smacks of his lips, he muttered, “They killed each other a lot.”

“That's just how humans are.”

“And other people in space. I mean, at least everyone on Earth live peacefully now. Not like up in space.”

Jinwoo decided he would show the more current documentaries later on, when Myungjun had a better grasp on what things were like at this point. It was too idealistic to believe that things were perfect on Earth; but Myungjun was idealistic and still ignorant to many things, and Jinwoo didn't mind taking time.

“They mentioned something interesting, though, at one point in the documentary.”

“What's that?” Jinwoo was quite used to multitasking while listening to Myungjun ramble on about whatever interesting thing he had seen displayed on the laptop. It was almost a hobby at this point, listening to Myungjun and retaining the information while still working on his own thing. So, as Myungjun spoke, Jinwoo poured the medicine into the spare spoon, then prompted Myungjun to open his mouth.

“It's-” Myungjun swallowed the liquid with a slight grimace. “Yuck. Your soup is a lot better than that. Oh, but they were talking about sex.”

Jinwoo glanced up in shock; Myungjun stared at him knowingly.

“And so now even your laptop knows about sex, and I don't. Why's it such a bad thing for me to know, Jinwoo? What is it, and why does everyone seem to have some sort of knowledge about it but me? Am I not allowed to know? Is it too secret?”

Jinwoo had promised Bin that he would explain the concept behind sex to Myungjun at some point, and Jinwoo really had been planning to, but Myungjun's cold had caused his mind to become occupied with things not concerning sex.

But here he was, given the perfect opportunity, and he couldn't make the words come out.

On one hand, he was frightened that Myungjun would abhor it. He was frightened it was cause Myungjun disgust, and he was terrified Myungjun wouldn't look at people the same way ever again. On the other hand, however, he remembered what Bin had said before; certain people were born on Myungjun's planet, which meant that some sort of liaison was going on. And Myungjun seemed aware of differences from those born and those made, which meant he had to already have some idea, didn't it?

“Jinwoo?”

Myungjun's voice was quiet, inquisitive, as he watched his friend and roommate panic over the question.

“Sorry.” Jinwoo took a deep breath. He supposed this was as good of a moment as any. He could hurriedly explain everything while Myungjun was sick, and pray to the stars that nothing would change after this. “Mind if I, um, sit on the bed?”

Myungjun easily made room for him, shifting the tray of food over and patting the spot beside him. Rather than stay close, though, Jinwoo sat on the edge, more along the middle, where Myungjun's feet were still curled underneath the blanket.

“So.” He clasped his hands together. “Sex.”

“Right.” Myungjun nodded, then took another sip of soup. “Sex.”

Jinwoo hesitated for a few seconds. What was he doing? He wasn't qualified to teach sexual education! This was a dumb idea. He needed to hire someone for this task, and so he hurried, “I think I might have left the oven on, so I should-”

“I figured out how to search for questions on your laptop.”

Damn. Now he was truly stuck. The internet probably wasn't the best source for this sort of information.

“Fine,” Jinwoo pouted, and he made certain to look at anything but Myungjun.

(Myungjun, on the other hand, didn't once break his own eye contact.)

“It's a little complicated to explain.”

“I'm intelligent.”

Jinwoo couldn't argue that. He just shifted uncomfortably in his seat, took a deep breath, and started on what would probably be the most embarrassing discussion of his life.

“When a man and...and a woman love each other very much, Myungjun,” he began, “they, um...get in a nice and healthy relationship. Like how Bin and Dongmin are in a relationship. And when a certain time comes-”

“Which one of them is a woman?”

Jinwoo blinked, shaken very rudely from his explanation. “What?”

“You said a man and a woman get in a relationship.” Myungjun's wide-eyed, innocent expression hadn't changed. “And then you said Best Friend Dongmin and Boyfriend Bin were in a relationship. So which is the woman?”

“Well, it doesn't have to be a man and a woman, it...it can change. Let's just...pretend, though, that, um, Dongmin was a woman.”

When Myungjun snorted, Jinwoo sighed, and the alien apologetically said, “Sorry, it's just that I can't imagine Dongmin as a woman.”

“Bin, then.”

“Can't imagine that for him, either. Is there a better option?”

Myungjun!” Jinwoo whined. He ran his fingers through his hair. Myungjun's attention span was no good for this sort of conversation. Perhaps he should quit while he was still ahead.

But yet the stars seemed to egg him on, because Myungjun seemed to give up on choosing a perfect example to follow. “A man and a woman who are not Best Friend Dongmin or Boyfriend Bin. I got it.” Myungjun gestured for Jinwoo to continue, and he returned to slurping at his soup.

(Jinwoo wished he wouldn't have done so, because now Jinwoo really had to go further in depth.)

“Then let me finish this time with no interruptions. Can we do that?”

Myungjun smiled brightly and nodded his head.

“Good. Alright. A man and a woman, um, get involved in a relationship. It's healthy and consenting. That's how it needs to be before...before they have sex. And usually sex is only to-to make babies. So...men have different body parts than women, right? I mean, down there, at least.”

Jinwoo pointed at his lap, and when Myungjun's eyes followed, he felt his cheeks turn red. “You don't have to look, Myungjun! All guys have it!”

“So you and I aren't all that different, then!” Myungjun seemed very much unaffected by talks of sex. “Continue, Jinwoo!”

“Women have a different part, and the man can stick his, um...his part into...the woman's part, and...” Jinwoo hadn't touched-up on his teaching skills when it came to sexual education. Then again, he hadn't supposed he needed to touch up on them. He was very unsure of how to explain the actual process, and so he quickly mimed something similar with his hands. Myungjun seemed relatively amused. “And then stuff happens after...after this sex thing, after the man, um...climaxes, for lack of a better word, and there's a sperm and an egg and a baby is formed, and that's sex.”

He finished rather quickly, but Myungjun took note of the end of the discussion, and he removed his hands from his bowl of soup in order to clap a few times. Jinwoo felt his cheeks become all the more red.

“That's procreation,” Myungjun suddenly supplied when he was done clapping. “I didn't know you guys called it sex.”

“Pro- wait, Myungjun, you already knew?

“Of course! Most people from other planets don't just pop up from a factory like I did, you know.” He took a sip of his water and added, “At least, I kind of figured you guys here didn't when you told me that you had a mother and a father and everyone else does, too.”

“Why did you let me keep going if you already knew?” Jinwoo asked in exasperation. “That was the most uncomfortable thirty seconds of my life!” He couldn't believe he reduced himself to a nervous wreck over something Myungjun was already aware of.

Myungjun shrugged his shoulders in response. “You were doing good. I just wanted to see if it was different on Earth as opposed to my planet. But I still don't get how Best Friend Dongmin and Boyfriend Bin procreate. Is one of them secretly a woman?”

Well, maybe reducing himself to a nervous wreck was needed for this part. “It's...different for two guys, it's...through a different, um...but it's not to make, uh, babies, it's for fun.”

“Fun?” Myungjun raised his eyebrows. “It's for fun?”

“Well, I mean, it can be? It's...it makes people feel very pleasured when it happens, and so, um, even if you don't want kids, you might still...do it. And if it's two guys, they...they can do it, too. It's different, but they can-”

“It's fun that doesn't require going outside?”

“Yeah.”

He shouldn't have answered that question. He knew, the moment he looked up at Myungjun's face, he shouldn't have answered that question. And, sure enough, he knew exactly what Myungjun would ask. “Jinwoo, can we do this pro- this sex, can we? I'm so bored, and-”

Rushing out of the room and covering his face was the only option Jinwoo had.

(Also dunking his head under the sink and turning on the cold water full blast – that was a fantastic option, as well.)

 

Chapter Text

On the fourth day of Myungjun's cold, Jinwoo finally noticed the signs of it clearing up. Sure, Myungjun's nose was rough and red, and his voice was still scratchy and hoarse, but at least he appeared to be brightening up and coughing less.

It didn't change the fact that he looked absolutely horrible, though. He was cute – he would never stop being cute – but days of doing nothing save for lounging in bed clearly hadn't bode well for him. Especially not his hair, which was a long way from its usual soft quality.

And Jinwoo told himself that he didn't care really, not all that much. Sure, Myungjun's hair might be greasy and gross, but he was still beautiful and perfect and full of smiles. The hair didn't bother Jinwoo one bit.

It bothered Myungjun, though.

“Just let me take a shower!” he argued. “Look at me, I look really, really disgusting, Jinwoo! My hair feels like it's covered in slime. It's gross, and I want to clean myself.”

“You told me you never were able to take baths on your home planet. Just think of it like that.”

The words shouldn't have come out; Jinwoo didn't realize that Myungjun could scowl so well. “I'm not going to think of it like that. That's another reason I hate my planet. You've been taking showers, so why can't I?”

Jinwoo sighed . “Sorry, Myungjun, I didn't-”

“If you're truly sorry, let me take a shower.”

If Jinwoo had known that Myungjun was going to be so stubborn, he might not have ever taken him in.

(That was a complete lie to himself, though; Jinwoo adored Myungjun's stubborn attitude. It was endearing and, really, it seemed like a good trait to have. Besides that, Myungjun was surprisingly convincing when he needed to be, and Jinwoo fell for it every single time.)

“I just really don't think you should be up and standing in a shower right now.” Jinwoo was no doctor; he wasn't sure if cold victims should stand under a stream of steady water while they were still trying to recover. “And you take very long showers, Myungjun. The longer you stand in there, the sicker you might become.”

It probably wasn't very sound logic, but Myungjun didn't know enough to refute his point. Instead, the alien just gave a pout, and he pushed aside the water that Jinwoo had given him. “I feel so icky,” he mumbled, mostly to himself.

As much as Jinwoo tried to ignore Myungjun's sullen expression, he really couldn't. Myungjun had him wrapped around his finger.

(Jinwoo wondered if Myungjun was aware of his power.)

“We can at least wash your hair, then,” he murmured, and Myungjun looked up at him with hope in his eyes. “And I'll wash your face for you, and we can change your clothes, but that's it until you're fully better, okay?”

“As long as I can clean my hair, I'm fine with anything, Jinwoo!” Myungjun seemed positively ecstatic, and he hurried out of bed with such enthusiasm that Jinwoo found it difficult to slow him down.

“We're going to do it calmly.”

“Calmly. Right.” Myungjun was anything but calm, though. He seemed to be bouncing lightly on his feet as he made his way into the bathroom behind Jinwoo, and the grin on his face was actually infectious. Jinwoo liked it.

He also liked that Myungjun had appeared to understand Jinwoo's reluctance to discuss anymore topics related to sex. When Jinwoo had finally composed himself from their discussion just a day ago, Myungjun had veered off toward a different topic, which both shocked and relieved Jinwoo. He had been certain that Myungjun would rehash the information about sex, or yet ask as many questions as he could think of, but that wasn't the case.

Whether Myungjun was catching onto emotions better than he had before, or whether he just grew bored of talks concerning sex, Jinwoo was thankful regardless. It meant that he could save himself the embarrassment of trying (and failing) to explain more about it.

“Do you need me to get undressed for this, Jinwoo?” Myungjun asked, breaking Jinwoo from his thoughts. The boy blinked at him, then glanced over at the shower.

“Um...no. No, let's not get undressed. I'm just washing your hair and your face, so I think you can keep your clothes on for that.” He turned the water on and, while waiting for it to get warm, fetched a chair from his small kitchen and shoved it into his even-smaller bathroom.

“Here we are! So you can just sit here and lean your head back, and I'll wash your hair for you.”

“Can't I do it myself?”

Myungjun could do it himself. He knew enough about showers and how cleaning worked to be able to do it all himself. However, Jinwoo was selfish. Jinwoo wanted to spend as much time as possible with Myungjun, and if it included performing domestic tasks such as this, even more so. Washing hair was something cute and sweet, something couples did, and Jinwoo was determined to do it, too.

“If you want,” he responded, sticking his fingers in the water to ensure it wasn't too cold. “But I think it might be difficult for you to reach it properly. You want a good, thorough clean, right?”

Myungjun took no time at all to contemplate his answer. “Yes! So you can clean it for me.”

He plopped down in the chair and instantly moved his head back, giving Jinwoo a thumbs-up. “I'm ready, Jinwoo.”

It was difficult to not giggle whenever Myungjun started up with any of his antics. He never seemed to know just how cute and adorable he was, either, meaning Jinwoo had to suffer in silence as Myungjun made even the most simple of tasks out to be something too precious for Jinwoo's heart to fully take.

“Close your eyes, then,” Jinwoo instructed, and he wrapped a towel around Myungjun's neck, hopeful to stop the water from soaking through his clothes. “And it's nice and warm, so don't worry about being cold, okay?” When he received a closed-eyed nod from Myungjun, Jinwoo took the shower head and carefully maneuvered it over to Myungjun's head, ensuring that he didn't jerk it too fast and accidentally spray his friend.

He began to run the water down Myungjun's hair, combing his own fingers through it gently as it became wet. And, sure, maybe he didn't need to start massaging Myungjun's scalp, but he did it anyway, eliciting a few soft sighs from the alien.

“You're great at washing hair, Jinwoo,” Myungjun murmured.

“Thanks. It's something I've been doing for a while, so I hope that practice makes perfect.”

Myungjun gave a small snort at that, his lips still turned up in a wide smile. As Jinwoo grabbed the shampoo and poured a little bit over Myungjun's hair, he heard him ask, “Are you really able to just take a shower whenever you want?”

“Whenever.”

Myungjun peeked through one opened eye, catching Jinwoo's attention. “And no one ever tries to stop you or tell you that you don't need to?”

“Nope.” Jinwoo set the shower head down on his shower floor and started lathering up Myungjun's hair with both his hands. His fingers worked through damp strands, creating soapy suds, some of which fell down to the tiled floor. Jinwoo didn't mind. He could clean it up later. More important, though, was how he felt like he could do this for the rest of his life. “No one ever tells me I can't shower or that I don't need to shower. Everyone needs to shower, though, Myungjun. It makes you clean. Otherwise, we'd all smell awful and diseases would spread.”

Myungjun hummed lightly, then responded, “That makes sense. Lots of people got sick from lack of hygiene, I think, on my planet. Jinwoo, would you believe it if I told you I always smelled bad? I never got the chance to bathe, unless they set a tub of water out for all of us to use. This is like a dream. I can bathe now whenever I want – unless I'm sick, I guess, because you're mean like that.”

“I'm not mean!” Jinwoo wasn't going to delve farther into Myungjun's previous problems. Every so often, sure, Myungjun would bring something up about it, but he never wanted to cut through the surface of his issues. He seemed content with his life now, and Jinwoo was content when Myungjun was. “I'm just looking out for your well-being! Knowing you, you'd stand here long enough to shrivel up to a prune, and then what would I do? I don't think I can take care of a prune, Myungjun.”

“Did you think that you could take care of a guy from outer space?”

Myungjun got him there. Jinwoo rolled his eyes as he massaged at Myungjun's scalp. “Nope. You certainly put a little damper in my plans for my life, didn't you?”

“What plans?”

“I had plenty of plans for my life. I was going to finish school and find a good-paying job and...and marry some guy, I don't know. Plenty of plans. And now I'm stuck washing your hair instead.”

He didn't think Myungjun completely understood sarcasm just yet. Sure enough, Myungjun looked a little upset, and so Jinwoo poked his nose with a soapy finger. “I wouldn't have it any other way, though. All of my plans sucked. Besides, I'm on break from college for a little bit until I have enough money to feel more comfortable, so-”

Before he could say anything else, Myungjun reached up and poked his nose, his eyes now fully open. He looked understanding, and he responded, “I bet you had the best plans in the world, Jinwoo. You always have the best plans.”

Jinwoo was taken off guard for a second, but he quickly came back to, clearing his throat and rinsing his hands. “Oh yeah?” he asked as he began spraying the water back into Myungjun's hair to rinse it off. “Name one plan I had that was even remotely good.”

“Letting me stay with you.”

Oh.

Myungjun really knew how to shoot a man right in the heart. Or, at least, Myungjun knew how to melt hearts, because Jinwoo felt his heart melting into a puddle of goo. He felt himself go slack where he was sitting on the edge of the bathtub.

And even though his heart was goo, he wondered why it still beat so quickly in his chest and why he felt blood being pumped right up to his cheeks, covering them in an intense, red blush.

Myungjun was truly something else, something entirely magical and amazing, and Jinwoo couldn't believe that Myungjun was here with him, letting Jinwoo wash his hair and complimenting him all the while.

“Jinwoo?” he heard Myungjun whisper over the steady stream of running water, but he couldn't shake himself out of his stupor. His name was repeated once or twice more before he felt a small tickle at the side of his neck. He jerked his head back in response, turning a wide-eyed gaze on Myungjun.

“What was that for?” he asked, rubbing at the affected spot. Myungjun just stared back at him with a grin, his neck craned ever so slightly in order to actually make eye contact.

“You weren't answering. I was just going to say, I think you need to massage my hair more in order to get all the shampoo out. At least, that's how washing hair should be, right? Unless, um, unless you do it a different way, then-”

Jinwoo shook his head quickly, then moved one hand over to tousle Myungjun's hair as the water hit it. “Nope. It's...yeah, it's supposed to be like this. My bad.”

Myungjun closed his eyes and settled back down in his seat, hands folded over his chest as he allowed Jinwoo's affections to soothe him over. “What were you dreaming about?”

“What?”

“You must have been dreaming. I don't think most people just doze off like that without something on their mind. So, what was it?”

Jinwoo didn't want to tell him. Jinwoo didn't want to say, I was thinking about how beautiful and wonderful you are, because that would be weird, and that definitely wasn't something that friends told each other. His hands slowed in Myungjun's hair as he thought up an excuse for why he had dozed off in the middle of this bathing session.

Myungjun cleared his throat once, twice, then mumbled, “You need to massage better.”

Jinwoo gave a start. “I...need to what?”

“Massage!” Myungjun had his eyes squeezed shut, and he mimed Jinwoo's hand movements from before. “You're just combing my hair with your hands right now. I...I think my cold will get better if you massage it, though.”

“Massage?” Jinwoo stared down at Myungjun before gently working on his scalp, as he had earlier. “Like this? This type of massage?”

Myungjun seemed extremely satisfied with that. He took a deep breath and exhaled, leaving a little whisper of, “Much better,” at the end.

Jinwoo worked for a few seconds before a grin slowly overtook his facial features. Myungjun liked the massage. Myungjun liked Jinwoo's hands rubbing into his hair. Myungjun liked it enough to ask for it, even if he had seemed embarrassed when bringing it up, and Jinwoo wasn't about to let this moment get away from him.

“You like my massaging?”

“Of course I do! You're amazing at it, Jinwoo!”

Jinwoo was proudly smirking at that point, and he worked harder to bring Myungjun as much comfort as possible.

“Were you embarrassed to be asking such a thing from me?”

Myungjun was quiet for a second, then he asked, in an unconvincing tone, “What does embarrassed mean?”

“Seriously?” Jinwoo snorted as he turned off the water. “You know perfectly well what it means, don't play dumb. You're embarrassed because you liked my massages so much!”

“When have I ever gotten embarrassed?” Myungjun asked. Once he ensured Jinwoo was done with his hair, he sat up and spun around to face his roommate. “I'm certain that I've never, ever been embarrassed around you before.”

Jinwoo scoffed. “First time for everything,” he teased as he poked a finger into Myungjun's side. Instantly, the boy let out a squeak and flinched, hands moving to protect where Jinwoo had touched.

And, oh, Myungjun was ticklish?

He had so many plans for this little bit of information. Most of those plans included having fun, because he was definitely allowed to have fun, wasn't he? Even if Myungjun wouldn't understand that Jinwoo would only do this to someone he liked liked, Jinwoo could still relish in the moment and pretend they were something more than just two men who happened to live together.

“Does that tickle?” he asked, and when Myungjun frantically shook his head in reply, Jinwoo reached around to poke his other side.

Myungjun gave a yelp and hopped up from his seat, hair dripping water down into his face as his eyes grew wide. “Jinwoo-”

Jinwoo wasn't going to let him get in anymore than that. He attacked relentlessly, grasping hold of Myungjun's arm and tickling whatever spot he could get. And Myungjun squealed as he struggled to get away, breath coming out in short pants and body squirming each time Jinwoo's fingers brushed up against the sides of his stomach or the dip in his ribs. He seemed to have a large amount of ticklish spots, too, and Jinwoo tested the waters, trying out all the major spots he knew (and noting, quite cheerfully, that they all seemed to be Myungjun's most ticklish spots), and then moving his hands to lesser-known spots; somewhere along his back seemed to make Myungjun laugh enough that he slipped, too, and he would have fallen had Jinwoo not held onto him protectively at the last minute.

Still, because Myungjun's legs had completely given out, Jinwoo lowered them both to the floor, kneeling in place as he wrapped his arms around Myungjun's body, which was still squirming in anticipation.

“I think I'm done torturing you for now,” Jinwoo hummed out, a large smile on his face as he watched Myungjun's laughter slow down to small giggles and light snorts.

Myungjun was beautiful.

Jinwoo felt he might have gone deaf from the ear-piercing screeches Myungjun gave during Jinwoo's tickling bout, and Myungjun was limp in his arms, and Jinwoo was certain that half his body was asleep from holding onto him, but despite all of that, Jinwoo couldn't find it in him to move or tear his eyes away. Myungjun's hair was still wet, not having been dried just yet, and from his close proximity with Jinwoo, it had caused small, damp spots to appear on Jinwoo's clothes. Myugnjun's face was red, too, from all the squeals and laughs he produced, and his breathing was still erratic as he tried to calm down. His eyes were squeezed shut and his hands were covering his most ticklish spots in protection.

Jinwoo wanted this moment to last forever.

“Th-That wasn't fair,” Myungjun finally gasped out, peeking his eyes open. “You needed t-to let me have a chance to get you back.”

“Get me back, then.”

“Can't. I'm weak again.” He took one last deep breath before fully opening his eyes and sitting up again. He was practically in Jinwoo's lap at this point, and Jinwoo's hands held onto his waist. “You're not nice, Jinwoo.”

He was pouting, his lower lip jutted out, and Jinwoo's eyes were drawn to it. Myungjun's lips looked soft and pink and plump, and he wondered what it would be like to kiss them. He wondered what it would be like to kiss Myungjun. He wondered what it would be like to lean forward, as he was doing, and rest his forehead up against Myungjun's wet hair, as he was doing.

“Jinwoo?”

Myungjun's inquisitive tone couldn't stop Jinwoo at this point. Myungjun was intoxicating, and he was just within Jinwoo's reach. He was willingly sitting in his lap and willingly keeping his head still as Jinwoo pushed all the more forward, noses bumping together, his breath mingling with Myungjun's. At some point or another, his hand moved from Myungjun's waist and cupped his cheek instead, his thumb splayed out in order to stroke Myungjun's sharp jawline and soft skin.

He was going to kiss Myungjun.

Nothing could stop him. Even the stars above, relaying their thoughts (bad decision, they screamed) into Jinwoo's mind, couldn't force him to stop. He refused to have Myungjun so close and yet so far. He wanted Myungjun more than anything or anyone.

The only thing that could stop him, then, was Myungjun. And Myungjun did just that. He pushed lightly on Jinwoo's shoulders, forcing him to back up a little bit, and his eyes were wide as he stared.

“Your...someone's at your door.”

“What?” Jinwoo felt a little dizzy, a little confused, and he blinked rapidly. “What?”

“Someone's at your door,” Myungjun repeated.

He had almost kissed Myungjun.

He had almost kissed Myungjun.

He could have hit himself for being so stupid. What did he expect to happen when their lips made contact? Myungjun might have known how kissing worked, how sex worked, how people could form relationships, but he didn't seem to understand what to do with those feelings and emotions. He might have understood what love meant, but on a deeper level, he didn't seem to know. He loved whatever was closest, whatever interested him the most, and continuously replaced and handed out love as if he had an unlimited quantity, as if love was the same across the board, regardless of what it was he saw. He wouldn't react in a proper manner. He might react negatively, and then what was Jinwoo supposed to do?

He was an idiot. Jinwoo was the most idiotic person on this planet, and, realizing he had gone too far and too deep, he scrambled up from his sitting position.

“Someone's at the door?” he asked, trying to pretend that his heavy breathing and red cheeks were the result of moving too quickly, and not from being a second away from making out with Myungjun.

Myungjun nodded his head. He still looked shocked and confused and unsure, and Jinwoo definitely didn't blame him. He probably had no idea what had just transpired. He was too sweet to question it, too, though he did appear as if he wanted to say something, mouth opening once, hesitating, and then closing again, lips pressing down together to form a tight line. It was vastly different from the cute, pouty expression Jinwoo had been so close to kissing.

And, yet, even like this, Jinwoo wanted to kiss him.

He felt gross and weird, and he needed to get out of the small, stuffy bathroom.

“Dry your hair, then,” Jinwoo instructed, pointing at the towel that had fallen to the ground in the midst of their tickle fight. “And...and then come out and I'll make you something t-to eat before you should go back to sleep.”

Usually Myungjun fought being forced back into bed, but, oddly enough, all he did this time was nod. He averted his gaze, staring sullenly at the tiled floor.

Jinwoo didn't have time to ponder Myungjun's sudden mood change; someone was definitely knocking at the door, loudly so.

Jinwoo wasn't sure if he should be thankful or upset for the interruption, so he went for a more neutral response of hurrying out of the room and greeting this uninvited visitor.

“Minhyuk?”

The figure in front of him scowled as he hurried inside, removing his beanie almost instantly. “I've been standing outside of your apartment for ages, Hyung! What on earth were you doing? I didn't hear any music – why are you wet?” Minhyuk's gazed raked over Jinwoo's body, especially at his damp t-shirt, before he quickly glanced down the hallway. Jinwoo's eyes followed, and he noticed Myungjun nervously peering out from behind the bathroom door.

Minhyuk took one look at Myungjun's wet hair and Jinwoo's wet clothes and made an assumption.

“Oh. Good job, Hyung.”

(Jinwoo decided he was going to be upset with this uninvited visitor.)

 

Chapter Text

Minhyuk's visit was unexpected, and the assumptions he made were unwarranted, but Jinwoo still had to admit that having a third presence in his small apartment space was a godsend. He wasn't certain how he was supposed to survive alone with Myungjun now at this point in time; after he had tried to kiss him, he was sure Myungjun would have plenty of questions.

As it was, Myungjun actually remained mostly quiet as Jinwoo went into the initial introductions.

“So not a boyfriend?” Minhyuk asked.

“Not...not a boyfriend,” Jinwoo clarified, and he cast a quick glance towards Myungjun, who remained tight-lipped still and nodded his head in agreement.

Minhyuk look confused for a split second, his eyes darting back and forth between the older two boys, before he shrugged his shoulders. “Friends, then. Regardless, I didn't come over for that. I don't care too much about your love life, Jinwoo.”

“You tried to set me up with a friend a few months ago.”

“And the offer still stands. He's still very much single.”

Jinwoo didn't respond to that, and Minhyuk snorted. “God, okay, no, then. Just keep going out with Dongmin's friends, even though they're all clearly uninterested-”

“Why are you here, Minhyuk?”

Minhyuk knew he had struck a cord, and a large grin fell across his face. “No need to get pissy, Jinwoo. I just came over because you keep switching shifts with other people, and now it's hard to see you, since you haven't called me to organize some sort of hang-out or anything.”

Jinwoo felt a little guilty for that. He had been so preoccupied with Myungjun that he had forgotten somewhat about his other close friends.

That still didn't mean he would allow Minhyuk to show up at his door whenever he so pleased.

(And, yet, he had to thank Minhyuk mentally – if he hadn't come, Jinwoo really might have kissed Myungjun, and he was certain things would become more weird and more awkward and he couldn't handle that. He liked what he had going with Myungjun, and changing it up was just asking for his heart to be broken.)

“Sorry,” Jinwoo offered as an apology. “It really has been busy here lately. Um...Myungjun is staying over for a while since his apartment is being worked on, and I got sick and now he's sick and it's just been difficult to plan anything when I'm trying to keep our colds down to a minimum.”

“I'm mostly better.” It was the first time Myungjun had spoken up in front of Minhyuk, and Jinwoo felt his mouth turn dry. The memory of his lips almost touching Myungjun's came to mind, of their mingling breath and their squished noses. He was certain he had worn a heated expression, his eyes probably filled with as much desire as his heart had been in. Myungjun, for his part, had just looked inquisitive, worried, unsure.

Jinwoo wanted to toss himself out in the snow and die of hypothermia.

Minhyuk blinked over at Myungjun. “You don't sound better. Your voice is stuffy.”

His voice was beautiful. It was like a cool breeze on a spring day. Jinwoo loved Myungjun's voice.

(It was also like a train coming at him at full-speed, unable to put on the brakes, colliding with him – and, yet, it wasn't the train's fault. It was his own fault for sitting in the middle of the railroad tracks and allowing the wreck to happen.)

“My voice is not stuffy. I'm almost one hundred percent better. Tell him, Jinwoo.”

Myungjun grasped onto his arm and Jinwoo nearly flinched. He hadn't expected contact. He certainly hadn't expected Myungjun to suddenly seem normal again, to suddenly act as if nothing had ever happened.

Was he disappointed with that? He wasn't sure. On one hand, he wanted Myungjun to acknowledge his feelings. On the other hand, since Myungjun was an alien and didn't understand romantic love, he wanted his emotions to remain hidden.

And, so, hidden they would remain. He put on a small smile, a little nervous, and nodded to Minhyuk. “Almost.”

Minhyuk narrowed his eyes at Jinwoo, but only for a split second. Before Jinwoo could readily voice his opposition to Mihyuk's apparent distrust, his friend had returned the smile and nodded his head. “Alright, then. Maybe Jinwoo is a good doctor.” He plopped right down on the couch, and Jinwoo stared at him in exasperation. “I guess since you already have a friend over, you won't mind one more addition to this happy, little get-together, would you, Jinwoo?”

He would.

But, then again, he couldn't get the feel of Myungjun out of his mind. The contact, the look, the way their lips would have definitely molded so perfectly to each other-

“Don't mind at all,” he agreed, perhaps a little too quickly. He didn't mind, though, that Minhyuk appeared entirely confused with Jinwoo's breathless attitude. Perhaps later he would explain himself, but for now, he needed any sort of distraction that he could get. “We can, um, we can watch a show or something on my laptop – and I have soup for all of us, I can get us some soup prepared.”

Myungjun was still standing nearby, his hands clasped behind his back and shoulders stiff and straight. Despite the smile that fell across his expression, he seemed tense.

Jinwoo was sure of the reason why, and he was sure that he was not going to make the situation worse for Myungjun. “Sit on the chair,” he gently directed, pointing over at his chair nearby. “Just so, um, just so that you don't spread your cold accidentally.”

Myungjun glanced at him, a little warily, before beaming brightly all of a sudden. “That wouldn't be good if I made your new friend sick!”

“Old friend, really. He's a coworker of mine.”

Minhyuk waved, leaning over to be seen from behind Jinwoo. Myungjun waved back enthusiastically, countering Minhyuk's more relaxed action.

“Coworker Minhyuk?”

Myungjun's nicknames were so cute. Myungjun's shining eyes were so cute. God, Myungjun was so cute, and Jinwoo could not fall any more than he already had. Myungjun was smart, but Myungjun lacked the ability to prove how two loves differed from another. In Myungjun's mind, he loved snow and he loved Jinwoo and the love he felt was the same for both. In Myungjun's mind, there was no such thing as levels concerning love. He wouldn't understand that he could hold a deeper, more romantic love for a person, and still love snow just as much as he had before.

Falling in love with Myungjun was just setting himself up for rejection and heartbreak, and Jinwoo refused to allow himself to become like that.

“Coworker Minhyuk, if that's what you want to call him,” Jinwoo responded, feeling exhausted already.

“And you both work at that restaurant you told me about? The one where you have to wear the fancy clothes?”

“That one.”

“You always look very nice in fancy clothes, Jinwoo!”

Minhyuk was watching the proceedings, which meant Minhyuk was witness to Jinwoo's cheeks heating up and his eyes growing wide.

Myungjun really must not have understood Jinwoo's intentions with the almost-kiss. Either that, or Myungjun put it all out of his mind. Regardless, it appeared none of it meant anything to him; which was fine and all, because Jinwoo didn't need Myungjun to start catching on-

And, yet, Jinwoo felt his heart sink down his chest with the realization that Myungjun truly wasn't the one for him.

“Right.” He didn't respond in his usual manner, and Myungjun blinked once.

“Very, very nice,” the alien added, possibly in an attempt to garner more of a familiar reply.

Minhyuk was still staring. Jinwoo felt like the air in his apartment was trying to suffocate him.

“I'm going to make soup.” He didn't respond at all now. He didn't even glance at Myungjun, too frightened to see a downtrodden expression – or, perhaps, too frightened to see any sort of adoration in his eyes. Either one would hurt. “Minhyuk, Myungjun, you both want soup, right?”

Minhyuk nodded, and from the corner of his eye, Jinwoo could see Myungjun nod. Good enough for him. He wouldn't have to force himself into talking, then. He could take his time on the soup and just let Minhyuk and Myungjun converse amongst themselves, hopefully about topics that didn't concern anything on Jinwoo's mind.

He prepared the bowls before sticking his container of soup in the microwave to heat up.

The best thing to do would be to discuss everything with Myungjun. Jinwoo could explain that his actions had been spontaneous, accidental, that he hadn't meant anything, and then he would make it clear that he wanted to continue to be Myungjun's best friend and roommate for as long as possible. He would explain that he loved Myungjun as Myungjun loved the snow.

He would decline to mention that it was all a lie, and that he still desperately wanted to kiss Myungjun.

“Don't kiss him,” Jinwoo mumbled to himself, hitting his forehead. “Do. Not. Even. Think. About. It.”

The less he thought, the easier it would become.

He glanced over at the two boys in his living room. It seemed they had decided on a show, something Minhyuk must have pulled up on his laptop, and they were both leaned in close to it, Myungjun curled up on his chair and Minhyuk relaxed on the couch. It was a scene he could get used to; Myungjun getting along with his friends, chattering despite his stuffy nose and sore throat, the cheerful, refreshing expression never once leaving his face. It was something he would want to see more of.

But the stars had apparently had different plans when they dropped Myungjun into his apartment. They wanted to see Jinwoo fall, obviously, or else they wouldn't have made the uninvited visitor arguably the cutest person Jinwoo had ever seen. They wanted to see Jinwoo grow to love someone with his entire being, only to snatch it away at the last second and remind him that he would never find someone who would truly cherish him back.

Myungjun tried. Myungjun tried his hardest, but he just didn't get it.

Jinwoo couldn't fault him for it. None of the blame was to be placed on Myungjun's shoulders for not understanding Earthly-concepts. No, the blame was all on Jinwoo, for growing to love someone he knew he could never have.

He knew it. He knew it the moment Dongmin reminded him of Myungjun's other-worldly status. And, yet, he ignored all the signs, written out in both his heart and in the horrid stars above.

He ignored common sense and had become too attached.

His punishment, he supposed, was watching as Myungjun cherished him without the growth of anything more than platonic feelings.

It was a horrid punishment, which is what he should have expected from horrid stars.

The microwave beeped loudly, the sound causing both Minhyuk and Myungjun to jerk their heads up.

“Is it done?” Minhyuk called out his question.

Jinwoo grit his teeth down as he pulled the bowls out and tested them. Relatively warm without being scalding hot. For once, the microwave did it's job properly on the first try.

(For once, Jinwoo wished it hadn't, as he now had to actually face his problems head on.)

“All done,” he responded, and he carefully balanced the soup bowls on the tray he had been using for Myungjun. Eager hands grabbed at them, which was just as well; he didn't want to accidentally brush hands with Myungjun, because he knew the feeling would send electric jolts through his own body, even if Myungjun wasn't affected by things such as love.

They hadn't paused the show, and so Jinwoo was easily able to figure it out. Some sort of romantic comedy; the sort he expected from Minhyuk, actually, being that Minhyuk was tough on the outside but soft goo on the inside.

He didn't know whether or not Myungjun would enjoy it all, however. Myungjun was definitely more the type to become fascinated with documentaries and informative pieces, as he still struggled to understand how things worked differently on Earth as opposed to other planets in the vast universe.

Jinwoo spared a quick glance over to Myungjun. He seemed interested enough in the drama. As he sipped at his soup, his eyes never once left the laptop screen, following along with the plot and characters very carefully.

Jinwoo had to wonder if they had anything like this on his previous planet. Did people act for entertainment? Did they produce movies and television dramas like this one?

He cursed the fact that he hadn't asked before, because he was definitely too shy to bring anything up now.

“A romance drama?” he questioned instead.

Minhyuk was the one who nodded his head, which made sense; not only was Myungjun far too engrossed in the show right now to be of any help in answering questions, but Myungjun wouldn't know what a romance drama entailed. It was obviously Minhyuk who chose it.

“It's a new one. It's really good, too. Just keep watching, and you'll follow along well.”

“Because they'll rehash the entire episode at one point or another,” Jinwoo mumbled, sipping at his own soup.

He had to admit, he was paying far more attention to Myungjun than he would have liked to. Despite the fact that he was seated beside Minhyuk, his eyes continuously darted away from the laptop screen and instead focused on Myungjun.

Myungjun didn't notice. Myungjun's lips were barely making it to his bowl of soup in time, and he didn't seem to want to tilt his head back in order to drink anything. Instead, he stared at the drama that was playing, following along with such intensity that Jinwoo was almost taken aback.

Almost. Not quite. Because he now refused to allow himself to be thrown off-guard by Myungjun any longer. He refused to allow himself to fall for that gaze and the way his teeth chewed at his plump, bottom lip, and the way his skin had felt between Jinwoo's fingers.

“I need to stop,” Jinwoo muttered to himself.

“What?” Minhyuk looked over, and Jinwoo put on a quick smile, as fake as it could be, and hoped that Minhyuk would somewhat fall for it.

“Nothing.”

Minhyuk wasn't convinced, and the younger boy's pointed glance to Myungjun proved as much. Minhyuk caught on quickly. Jinwoo would have been pleased for his intuitive nature had it not been his relationship that Minhyuk was catching onto.

(Or, rather, the lack of a relationship.)

The drama continued. Jinwoo's longing stares continued. And, really, everything would have continued just fine if the two leads in the show hadn't decided to suddenly kiss.

It was a slow build-up, as well. Jinwoo would have seen it coming had he not been preoccupied looking elsewhere.

But, from what he had seen, their foreheads had leaned up together and their noses had brushed into each other and then they had kissed.

A kiss in the first episode.

That was just Jinwoo's luck.

He felt his face turn red, and he kept his eyes now solely on the screen, as awkward as it was to watch.

Because Myungjun shifted. Because Myungjun moved. Because Myungjun must have known something by that point, considering the two leads had been in a very similar position to how Jinwoo and Myungjun had been in just an hour or two before. Because Myungjun had to figure out by now.

And Jinwoo couldn't bear to witness the lightbulb going off in the alien's brain.

“Jesus christ, this show moves fast,” Minhyuk commented, breaking the tension-filled silence with a well-timed whistle. He let the episode's credits roll, and he smiled over at Jinwoo. “How do you like it? It's good, isn't it?”

Jinwoo nodded his head hurriedly and cleared his throat.

Minhyuk then turned to Myungjun. “Are you enjoying it?”

Jinwoo didn't hear an answer, but from Minhyuk's small, “That's good,” he assumed Myungjun nodded his head.

That was weird. Myungjun had no comments about anything? Myungjun had no questions about anything? Usually he was as curious as could be, and he wouldn't hesitate to ask questions, even if they had embarrassing answers. But now, there was nothing but quiet from Myungjun's side of the room.

So Jinwoo decided to finally look.

Myungjun's eyes were still glued to the screen, but Jinwoo could detect a light, pink blush spreading across his cheeks and covering his nose. His eyes were wide, though not with excitement this time, but rather a clear sign of puzzlement.

And, as Jinwoo stared, Myungjun slowly brought a hand up to his forehead. Long, nimble fingers brushed up against the skin slightly before traveling down and ghosting over his nose.

Myungjun's eyebrows furrowed together, and he dipped his fingers down to his lips, touching them gently, before pressing down on them and tilting his head.

Jinwoo held his breath, and when Myungjun suddenly met his eyes, Jinwoo didn't look away.

Myungjun understood.

Suddenly, somehow, Myungjun understood, and he didn't look at all like Jinwoo would have expected. He looked scared and unsure, frightened and confused, and Jinwoo finally had to break their contact and stare instead down at his lap.

Myungjun understood.

And Myungjun didn't seem to like it.

“Ready for the next episode?” Minhyuk's voice cut through Jinwoo's thoughts, but they hardly registered in Jinwoo's mind. He simply nodded his head and cleared his throat one last time.

Before Minhyuk pressed play, however, Jinwoo grabbed onto his wrist. “Minhyuk?” he whispered. “Minhyuk, that single friend you had – the one you tried to set me up with before...is he still available?”

“Yeah?” Minhyuk wrinkled up his nose, and his eyes almost traveled over to look at Myungjun, but he seemed to resist. “Why?”

Jinwoo took a deep breath. “I want to date him.”

If it wasn't Myungjun, Jinwoo would date him. Anything to get away from Myungjun's rejection.

 

Chapter Text

For once in Jinwoo's life, he had been asked for a follow-up date.

“When can I see you again?” Minhyuk's friend had questioned him after their movie was over, and Jinwoo, still trying to adjust his eyes to the bright outdoors, was shocked.

“When...?”

He trailed off, and the taller man before him laughed. He was charming and polite and had a warm smile. “When can I see you again, Jinwoo? I really enjoyed our date!”

Gwangho was different. Gwangho liked him. Really, Jinwoo had never experienced someone returning his affections, and so he cleared his throat nervously and squeaked out, “Whenever.”

Gwangho's grin basically fueled his excitement as he rushed home that evening, after the date was complete, and flung open the door. “It went amazing!” he exclaimed.

Bin and Dongmin sat at his kitchen table, a deck of cards arranged around them. Myungjun himself held several cards in his hand, and when Jinwoo noticed the coins laying in the middle of the table, he lost his own happiness. “Are you guys teaching Myungjun to gamble?

“They told me not to call it gambling,” Myungjun helpfully supplied. “They said I needed to call it...what was it, Boyfriend Bin?”

“Go-Fish,” Bin responded.

Myungjun nodded his head, and his eyes sought Jinwoo's. “We're playing Go-Fish.”

Jinwoo decided that was the last time he ever had Bin or Dongmin look after Myungjun. “From now on,” he mumbled later that evening, after he freed his house of losers, “you can stay home alone. I think you've been here long enough that you'll know how to work everything.”

“Sure!” Myungjun exclaimed as he set up the couch to sleep on. “I'm just as capable as any of you Earthlings are, so I think I can handle this.” He plopped down on the seat and looked up at Jinwoo with a soft gaze, eyes sparkling and brightening up the entire room.

Neither of them had mentioned the almost-kiss. Neither of them had mentioned that Myungjun probably knew what it was that Jinwoo had been about to do. Neither of them ever brought it up. Even when Jinwoo had gone out on his first date, Myungjun acted as he had before. He was silly and fun and innocent and full of questions as he attempted to learn how to work a tie for Jinwoo's work outfit.

(“So will you two be boyfriends? And if so, will you two always be together, like Dongmin and Bin? And, if so, will I have to share my spot on the couch? And, if so, is there enough room-?”)

Jinwoo didn't feel a need to bring it up. He told himself that he much preferred the casual relationship now that he and Myungjun had. It was less complicated than having to explain why he had wanted to kiss Myungjun.

Had – and, truthfully, he still did want to kiss Myungjun. As the alien talked, Jinwoo's eyes still drifted down to his lips, to the way they moved and looked, and he could only imagine how they must feel.

Myungjun was intoxicating. It might have been his cheerful personality or his exceedingly good looks, but something about Myungjun was absolutely intoxicating. Even though Jinwoo had just come from a date and was in the process of scheduling more dates with Gwangho, his mind still flirted with the idea of kissing Myungjun, just once, just to see what it must be like.

“You have something on your mind, don't you?” Gwangho asked during their second date.

Jinwoo looked up from his milkshake before slowly shaking his head. “No,” he lied.

“Ooh, but I can tell!” Gwangho's eyes sparkled, but not nearly as brilliantly as Myungjun's had. “Spill the beans, Park Jinwoo. I want to know what you're thinking.”

Jinwoo frowned and messed with the straw sticking out from his milkshake glass. He couldn't very well tell his date that he may or may not have been in love with someone else, but keeping it hidden would just be a little suspicious. He had to think fast; not really a strong feat of his when his mind was this confused.

“No, sorry. It's...friendship issues, actually.”

“With who? Not Minhyuk, I hope.”

“No, no, everything's fine with Minhyuk. I mean, he...he got us together, didn't he?”

Gwangho's grin was instantaneous, and Jinwoo thanked the stars up above for his quick words. “Who is it, then? I don't think I know any of your mutual friends – is it that tall boy that Minhyuk always talks about? What's his name-”

“No, it's not Sanha, either.” Jinwoo sighed and stopped himself from slumping over in despair. “It's someone else, actually. And it's so stupid, but...I don't know how he feels about me.”

He worried that he might have said too much. Gwangho was smart, and he might be able to easily catch on to Jinwoo's despair and hidden (or, according to Dongmin, not so hidden) crush. However, Gwangho just looked thoughtful instead. “You don't know if he considers you to be a friend?”

Jinwoo decided just to roll with it. Even if Gwangho believed the relationship to have friend issues, and not romantic issues, he might give some advice that could work.

“Right. I'm not sure. He's difficult to read sometimes. He always says...he says everything is his friend. He thinks little bugs are his friend, and clouds are his friend, and things he sees on the television – they're his friends, too. So when he calls me a friend, I'm not sure if he's grouping me in his bugs and clouds and television category, or if I'm a friend to him.”

“Nobody's dumb enough to mistake a joking friendship for a real one,” Gwangho replied.

Jinwoo knew he couldn't reveal that Myungjun was actually an alien, but he felt as if he needed to find a way around that explanation, to better inform Gwangho and thus have better advice given to him in return. “He's not...he's not actually from Korea,” Jinwoo muttered. “And so sometimes I think he doesn't actually know the meanings of the words he's using.” It felt like a false statement, even though it was all true; Myungjun wasn't from Korea, and Jinwoo did sometimes think that he hadn't grasped onto the different levels of love. “So when he says that he's my friend, I don't know if it's the same as when he says a cool tree he saw once is his friend. Like, am I a tree, or am I actually a friend?

“Well, Jinwoo, you're not a tree.”

Jinwoo snorted and went back to sipping at his milkshake, watching as Gwangho seemed to think through his next words.

“But don't you think you aren't giving this guy enough credit? I mean, if he's still hanging around you and calling you a friend, then that must mean he likes you. I really don't think he'd call you by the same word he uses for tree. I just don't think so.”

“He's never had a friend before, though. I don't think he fully knows what to call them or how to treat them differently.”

“Then explain it.” Gwangho laughed. “Jinwoo, you're making it sound more difficult than it actually is. Just ask him if he truly knows what he's saying and go from there!”

He never expected to get love advice from his date, but Jinwoo accepted it and decided he would make the most out of it.

He waited for a few days until he heard Myungjun proclaim his love again for something else.

“I love rain!”

They were stuck under Jinwoo's umbrella, huddled close together. Jinwoo was stiff, but Myungjun seemed excited, constantly sticking a hand out to catch water droplets. He watched as they rolled down his fingers before falling to the ground. He seemed most amazed when the rain picked up pace, creating large puddles on the sidewalk they stood on, and he tentatively reached a foot out to poke at one of those puddles.

He had sneakers on, and Jinwoo could tell that they were already soaked through. “We need to get you home as soon as possible so you can get out of those wet shoes,” he mumbled, then gestured for Myungjun to reel it back in and stay stationed underneath his umbrella. “You don't want to catch another cold, do you?”

“I thought you could only catch colds from the snow or from other people.”

“Well, you can catch it from being too wet for a long amount of time. Especially since it's still sort of chilly out here.”

Spring had been trying to poke through for a few weeks, but winter seemed to want to stick around more. Jinwoo couldn't wait until the cold was replaced by nice, warm breezes and flowers blooming to reveal beautifully colored petals. He hoped that his heart would warm up, too. He hoped he would stop being stiff and unsure of himself. He hoped that he could somehow fall in love with Gwangho and fall out of love with Myungjun.

He hoped spring would open him up along with the rest of the world.

“But I've never really seen this sort of rain, Jinwoo!”

It had drizzled once before, and Myungjun had gone outside in it, laughing and catching the raindrops above his head, hands clapping at them. He had yelled for Jinwoo to join him.

But Jinwoo, as he usually did now, shook his head and distanced himself.

It was too bad that a rainstorm had sprung up when they were shopping for clothes. It was too bad that Jinwoo had decided to buy only one umbrella.

It was too bad that he had the money to buy a second one but refused to do so because part of him wanted to stay plastered up beside Myungjun for as long as he possibly could.

“And you love it, don't you?” he asked. His voice sounded bitter, even to his own ears, and Myungjun faltered for only a second before answering.

“Of course I do.”

“Myungjun...” Jinwoo cleared his throat. He looked up at the sky and wished that the stars would stop clouding over. They hadn't shone for him in ages. He wondered if they were as mad with him as he was mad with himself. “Myungjun, what does love mean for you? When you say you love rain and snow and my laptop and my blender – Myungjun, what does love mean?”

Myungjun glanced over at Jinwoo, his warm eyes filled to the brim with confusion. “It means I never want to let it go,” he replied. “It means I want to keep it in my heart forever and ever.”

“Then...” Jinwoo smacked his lips together once, wondering if he should actually ask the question. His curiosity stirred him onward. “What does it mean when you say that you love me?”

Silence.

Jinwoo could hear the sounds of cars rushing by, their windshield wipers shielding them from the onslaught of rain. He could hear the slight pitter-patter of the droplets as they hit the roof of a building. He could hear the sound of people rushing by, not wishing to be caught by the storm.

And then Myungjun took a deep breath.

“I think,” he murmured, “it means the same thing. Love doesn't have another meaning, does it?”

He didn't meet Jinwoo's eyes.

“How's that friend of yours?” Gwangho asked on their third date. They sat in the shop of a cozy noodle place. The owner kept giving them glances, which Jinwoo had ignored until he realized that they were the only couple actually in there. They had taken a spot by the window, the night sky visible and the stars dimly lit. Jinwoo wondered why the stars hid from him.

He slurped at his noodle bowl, contemplating his answer. He hadn't known the reasoning behind Myungjun's answer. He had assumed that Myungjun observed love as one giant feeling with no distinctions between the different types of love. And even with that assumption in his heart, he had still felt incredibly disappointed with the response.

Jinwoo wiped at his mouth and shrugged his shoulders. “I mean, he still seems to enjoy my company,” he said. “He acts the same. But he doesn't...I don't know if he knows.”

“He knows.” The statement was simple and quickly spoken, and Jinwoo's eyes widened at Gwangho's smile. “Trust me, Jinwoo. If he's still treating you the same, and if he still claims that you two are friends, I think he knows. I just don't think you've truly asked him.”

“I did!”

“So you fully explained the types of friendship and the different levels and how his tree-friend is different from his human-friend?”

Jinwoo pouted and stuffed more noodles into his mouth. His reaction caused Gwangho to laugh, and the man reached across the table to lightly squeeze one of Jinwoo's hands. “You'll get there,” he murmured.

But Jinwoo tried to explain it. He came home and caught Myungjun intently watching a romantic drama on his laptop. The alien closed it quickly when he noticed Jinwoo had walked into the apartment, and with wide eyes he exclaimed, “I didn't see anything!”

Jinwoo ignored his protests and opened the laptop. Instantly, the show started up again and the two leads resumed what appeared to be a heavy make-out session.

“Myungjun, it's just kissing,” Jinwoo mumbled. And, still, he skipped those parts before handing the laptop back to Myungjun, trying to disregard his crestfallen expression. “Because they're in love.”

Myungjun didn't seem to care. He just stuffed the headphones back into his ears.

“Myungjun-”

“What?”

“You know what falling in love is, right?” Jinwoo sat on the couch next to him and pointed at the drama. “These two people – they fell in love, didn't they?”

Myungjun didn't respond. Instead, he just clicked the play button and the show was still going, mute to anyone but Myungjun himself.

Jinwoo disregarded the anxious glances Myungjun continued to cast his way, and instead pushed himself up from the couch and hurried off into his room.

Living with Myungjun was suffocating. All Jinwoo wanted to do was embrace him; all Myungjun did was hide his emotions and feelings away. Jinwoo wasn't sure what Myungjun was thinking anymore. All he knew was that it stemmed from the kiss.

The only time he felt able to breathe was when he was with Gwangho, and he told his boyfriend as much.

(At some point, he had come to accept that he was Gwangho's partner. At some point, he had come to accept the term boyfriends. Dongmin and Minhyuk congratulated him; Bin just gave Myungjun a pointed glance, and Myungjun ignored the entire situation in favor of going back to the laptop.)

Gwangho looked pleased, and he smiled brightly, dispelling the rain that had come about as they stood underneath the awning of a restaurant. Jinwoo had dressed nicely for this date, though he had no idea it was supposed to rain. His umbrella was left at home, then, and Gwangho hadn't wanted to abandon him by himself.

“I...I feel more relaxed when I'm with you, too, Jinwoo.”
“Mutual understanding, then.”

(No wonder no one wanted to date him, Jinwoo thought, because he sucked at flirting.)

It was quiet again, until Gwangho cleared his throat, catching Jinwoo's attention. “I really like you, Jinwoo. A lot.”

Jinwoo didn't dare say anything. It seemed like a dream that he had always prayed would happen. It seemed fake and completely fabricated in his mind. And, yet, he felt a cold breeze bite against his nose and small droplets of rain hit his shoes.

Gwangho was leaning in close, and Jinwoo was reminded of Myungjun.

The two were vastly different. Gwangho had sharp features and thin lips. His nose was a little longer, and his eyes, while still portraying warmth, couldn't brighten the gloom nearly as much as Myungjun's could. He wasn't Myungjun, whose face was soft and who had a cute nose and plump, pink lips. He was Gwangho.

So Jinwoo wasn't sure whether to be upset or not when their lips connected.

He definitely kissed back. He felt it would be rather rude to just stand there awkwardly as Gwangho tried to kiss him, so he kissed back. The movements were soft and gentle, and yet something felt off. Something felt wrong with the entire picture.

Jinwoo drew back first, blinking rapidly and trying to remind himself that he wanted to fall in love with Gwangho. He wanted to kiss and embrace Gwangho.

But he also wanted to stop as soon as possible.

Gwangho didn't seem to realize Jinwoo's reluctance. He just smiled all the wider and kept his arms wrapped around the shorter man. “We have one umbrella.”

Why was he talking about umbrellas right after they had kissed? Jinwoo bit down on his lip. “Well...you do.”

“You live on the other side of town, don't you?”

Jinwoo nodded, then suddenly realized where it was going.

“So, um...how about we go to my place? We can, uh...get you out of those wet clothes, if you'd like. We can...”

Jinwoo desperately looked for a way out. He wanted to, he told himself. He would gladly have sex with Gwangho.

And, yet, his heart hammered and yearned him not to do it, and so he looked around, at something, anything that could be an excuse.

His eyes locked with someone nearby, behind Gwangho, staring at the two in shock.

“Myungjun?” Jinwoo breathed.

Myungjun stood, not even teen feet away, breathing harshly with sweat lining his forehead and Jinwoo's umbrella held loosely in one hand. He stared, and the emotions he so clearly displayed brought Jinwoo back to the night they watched the romantic drama with Minhyuk, the night Myungjun seemed to learn what it was Jinwoo had been about to do.

Jinwoo couldn't pretend any longer, he decided. He couldn't love Gwangho. There was no way he could pour his affections into this pretend relationship any longer, and so he pulled back, gaze moving to meet with his “boyfriend's” gaze.

“Gwangho, I'm sorry. I'm...I'm going with my friend.”

Before he could register the confusion in Gwangho's eyes, he rushed into the rain, feet stepping through puddles and soaking the bottom of his pants. He ducked underneath the umbrella Myungjun held and gave him a nervous smile.

“Hey, Myungjun. Can we go home now?”

And Myungjun started to cry.

 

Chapter Text

Myungjun understood what love was.

He had never experienced it. He felt jealous of those who had experienced love. He had to watch on as they displayed their love, flaunted it, and he felt mocked.

He first discovered the emotion known as love when he accompanied one of the managers of his mining team to deliver some ores to a customer. The sun was hot and beat down on him as he dragged the supplies over to the ship, his hair matted and dirty and his clothes threadbare, offering little protection from the immense heat. The customers in front of him were dressed for the weather, and as they weren't laboring in such a harsh environment, they actually looked put together. They regarded him with little more than a nod of their head as he deposited the ores in front of them.

That's when Myungjun noticed they were holding hands.

They spoke to each other, their voices light and cheerful, and Myungjun realized he had never seen people look like that. He had never seen their eyes light up and their expressions soften just from the close proximity of another being.

On the way back to the mines, his feet weary and sore, he had asked his manager, “What do those two have that I don't?”

“A lot,” his manager had responded with a scoff. “A home. A family. Freedom. Love.”

Love. That was it. That was what Myungjun realized he was missing in his life.

Myungjun didn't love anything at all. Stopping to look around at the vast landscape, it wasn't too difficult to see why. He didn't like the color brown, simply because it was everywhere. The sand that covered his planet was brown, the cramped quarters he lived in were brown, the drinks he was given to help him live were brown; it was all brown.

And, during the few chances Myungjun got to look at himself in some sort of mirror, he recognized brown hair and brown eyes and even skin, tanned to a light brown, and he hated himself, too, for having been made and for not giving up on life like he sometimes longed to do.

The manager called out his number; not his name, Myungjun thought bitterly later on, but his number. He didn't have a name on his planet. He was one of many, many replaceable workers, seen as less than human because he didn't have what normal people would have.

When he escaped, though, space was exciting. The stars shone brighter outside of his planet, and he watched them with fascination. He zoomed past different planets, staring out at each one, wondering if he would come to love a different planet. He saw ones that were completely blue, others that were spotted yellow and orange, and one interesting place that appeared completely black.

It wasn't until he crash landed on a blue and green planet that he realized he could definitely grow to love.

He loved the planet he was on.

As he climbed out of his wrecked spaceship and stumbled in the water, he decided he loved the water. It was salty, he learned when he tasted it, and he grimaced and spit it out, but it was no matter because he loved the water. He loved the sand on this planet, too. It was soft, not dry and course like what was found where he had come from, and it squished between his feet as he walked.

He discovered vegetation, trees that grow tall and short, trees with green leaves and trees with pink blossoms. He loved all of the trees, too.

He loved the clothes that he found (that he later learned he had stolen). They were comfortable and seemed to offer much more protection than the measly clothes he had first arrived in. He loved all of the buildings he passed, as well, and when his stomach started to rumble, he loved the one building he climbed into and gazed around in.

It was dark and empty, but there were signs of life. Myungjun excitedly wondered what sort of alien lived in this place. He wondered what sort of alien left papers out on the table, had multiple changes of clothes, got by with no weapons to fight off intruders; he wondered all these things, and when he was finally able to meet such an alien, he decided he loved the alien, too.

Jinwoo was sweet and kind to him. When Myungjun seemed to assure the man that he wasn't a threat, Jinwoo stopped trying to murder him with keys (keys! Keys were so cool!) and Myungjun was able to get a better look at his face.

He was handsome, far more so than Myungjun had ever seen himself as being. He had blond hair and soft eyes and a cute nose and a calm smile. Myungjun really liked him; he was different than anyone else that Myungjun had ever come in contact with before. He spoke clearly and patiently and readily explained to Myungjun information that seemed otherwise weird and inaccessible. No one else had treated him like Jinwoo had. Other aliens from other planets would regard him as nothing more than a slave, and the natives on his planet acted as if he didn't even exist.

But Jinwoo gave him a name.

And Jinwoo gave him a bandage.

And Jinwoo gave him a place to stay.

It was kindness beyond what Myungjun had ever experienced before, and as he lay down for the evening, curled up on Jinwoo's lumpy couch, he decided that he would never love anything else as much as he loved Jinwoo.

He loved milk, but not as much as he loved Jinwoo. And he loved the breakfast omelet, but not as much as he loved Jinwoo. And he loved blenders, but not as much as he loved Jinwoo.

He thought maybe snow could rival that love, however.

He had never seen or heard of snow before. Rain, while not common to hear about, did take place from time to time on other planets, and Myungjun would hear about it from other alien travelers. He decided that one day, he would definitely see rain.

Snow was a different matter. Snow wasn't at all like what rain had been described to him as. It was white and cold and fluffy. It crunched as he walked through it, his boots (Jinwoo's boots, he proudly reminded himself) leaving imprints behind, and when he looked back on them and saw where he had been, he realized that he was there.

He was leaving his mark in a world that still remained unfamiliar to him. But the snow molded his shape into the ground, and even though Jinwoo explained to him that it would melt soon, Myungjun couldn't help but think that, if even for a bit, he meant something. He changed the shape of the snow and it allowed him to do so. It wasn't the static planet he had first come from, where no marks of his own had ever been left. It was so different, so overwhelming, and Myungjun cried.

Snow came close to replacing his love of Jinwoo. But, later on, as they cuddled together, the snow continuing to fall outside, Myungjun decided that even a world as accepting as this one, even the snow that welcomed him cheerfully and brightly, could never replace his love of Jinwoo.

He was fine with that sort of love, with feeling the way he did, until the day Jinwoo decided to wash his hair.

The was the day Myungjun first felt his stomach twist and turn, first felt his heart beat wildly in his chest. It didn't even happen until Jinwoo pressed up close against him. Their foreheads touched, their noses bumped together, and their breath was mingled. Jinwoo closed his eyes; Myungjun kept his open, staring in confusion and shock, until he managed to get Jinwoo to pull away from him.

He hadn't known what was going on. He hadn't known why Jinwoo had suddenly leaned in, and he hadn't known what it was that Jinwoo was going to do.

Then the drama Minhyuk wanted to watch played and Myungjun stared at the two leads, as they leaned in and touched foreheads and bumped noses and then they kissed.

Kissing was a new concept. Myungjun didn't understand what exactly it was and what exactly it meant, but he knew that his stomach flipped and turned and his heart thumped quickly against his ribs, threatening to burst.

Jinwoo wanted to kiss him.

But he didn't know what kissing meant.

“Boyfriend Bin?” he asked one day as Bin finished explaining the rules of gambling and poker. “What does it mean when people kiss each other?”

Bin looked up from his cards. “It's...what?”

“Well, Minhyuk showed me this...this show, and I've been watching it recently, and the two people in it kiss, and I don't...know what it means.”

Bin glanced at Dongmin, who shrugged his shoulders, then he looked back at Myungjun. “It's usually something people do when they're attracted to each other. Like, um, I kiss Dongmin because I love him, and because he's my boyfriend.”

Boyfriend.

Jinwoo had explained it before. Jinwoo told him that a boyfriend was someone who you would go out on a date with because you liked them as more than a friend.

“So Jinwoo is going to kiss this man that he went out on a date with?”

Bin didn't answer. Bin simply cleared his throat before laying his cards down and muttering, “I fold.”

Myungjun did the same, because he wasn't sure what else he was supposed to do. He hadn't listened as Bin had explained the rules in the first place; his mind was far too focused on Jinwoo, on the kiss that he had almost received from Jinwoo, on the kiss that would probably be given to another person instead.

For some reason, it made him upset to know that Jinwoo would be sharing a similar, intimate moment with someone else. Myungjun didn't know why, but he wished that it was him.

He just didn't know exactly how to tell Jinwoo that he wanted to be his boyfriend. After all, Jinwoo seemed rather happy since he had the chance to go out on dates. He seemed to be enjoying it all. Myungjun watched the rain cascade down to the pavement one day and wondered just how many kisses Jinwoo had given to this strange man.

He wondered if the strange man's heart would beat as fast as Myungjun's had during their almost-kiss.

He wanted to ask, but the words couldn't even form correctly in his head. Rather than make a mess of himself and ruin everything, then, he just lied. He lied about loving Jinwoo differently than he loved rain and snow. He lied about his feelings, because Jinwoo was happy with the strange man and Jinwoo didn't deserve to be bogged down with all of Myungjun's curiosity and inquiries. Things were probably simpler without Myungjun admitting that he wanted Jinwoo to kiss him.

But he still wanted to. He felt like he wasn't just lying to Jinwoo as he told him everything was fine; he felt as if he was lying to himself. He felt like he was trying to believe that everything was fine, that he didn't love Jinwoo, that he didn't find himself obsessively watching romantic dramas in order to learn about kissing and romance and true love.

He did, though, and he discovered that on another rainy evening, away from Jinwoo this time. He had busied himself by watching the clock count down the time, remembering that Jinwoo mentioned he would be home in three or four hours. He had stared, muttering out the new numbers whenever the digital clock would change, and he would try and figure out the exact math in order to know how much longer he would have to wait.

It started to rain at some point, and he noticed Jinwoo's forgotten umbrella laying on the counter. Maybe Jinwoo had meant to grab it, or maybe he hadn't cared about the rain. Maybe the strange man he was dating would have an umbrella.

Or, maybe, Jinwoo was stuck by himself in the middle of a heavy downpour with no one available to save him.

Myungjun glanced at the clock, then back at the umbrella.

Jinwoo had mentioned the movie theater near his location of work. He had pointed it out to Myungjun once or twice, and Myungjun was certain he could remember where it was.

His clock-counting could wait; Jinwoo needed him much more at the moment.

He hurried to get dressed, pulling on the rain boots Jinwoo had also left behind and a large raincoat. He decided he could give Jinwoo the coat once they met up, just to ensure his friend wouldn't catch another cold, and after securing the umbrella in his hands, he was off.

Above all else, Myungjun wanted Jinwoo to be happy. He had assumed Jinwoo would be happy with an umbrella to protect him from the cold rain that was pouring down, but he never thought that Jinwoo's happiness would come from other sources. He never thought that perhaps he couldn't make Jinwoo happy, but maybe the strange man could.

Maybe, then, that was why Jinwoo was kissing the strange man. Maybe that kiss made him happy. Maybe the strange man made him happy.

Maybe he had never wanted to kiss Myungjun. Maybe Myungjun imagined it all.

And even as Jinwoo ran over to him, Myungjun couldn't help but think how stupid he had been. He had seriously assumed that just because he wanted that kiss, maybe Jinwoo would have wanted it, too. Jinwoo must have wanted someone who wasn't an alien, though. Jinwoo must have wanted someone tall and handsome. The strange man had nice black hair and sharp facial features and wore smart clothes. Myungjun had glanced in Jinwoo's mirror earlier today – his brown hair was messy and his cheeks were soft and puffy and his clothes were whatever Jinwoo was not wearing on any particular day.

How could he have ever expected Jinwoo to love him more than he loved music and dogs and his friends? Jinwoo deserved better; he deserved a nice human, not Myungjun.

Jinwoo said something, but the words were lost on Myungjun as he held the umbrella loosely in his hands. Jinwoo's voice flitted past him, quiet and hushed and mixed in with the rain.

Myungjun loved the rain.

Myungjun loved Jinwoo more than he could ever love the rain.

Something was welling up inside of him. It was intense and overwhelming, reminiscent of when he discovered snow, but it was different somehow. It was worse, and as it threatened to take him over, he cried.

The umbrella was lowered now, and the rain fell on them both as Myungjun cried, big, fat tears dripping down his face, mingling in with the water droplets that hit his skin.

Jinwoo looked shocked, confused, worried, and Myungjun loved him all the more.

He wondered why his love was making him cry. That was really the only thing he could imagine was making him cry, because the love that had been blossoming in his chest had suddenly and violently sprouted, consuming him completely until all he wanted was for Jinwoo to love him in return.

“Myungjun-” Jinwoo started, reaching out for him, but Myungjun shook his head and took a step back. If he kept the distance between them, Jinwoo would remain happy with the strange man and Myungjun could suffer by himself. He was used to being alone; it wouldn't be too difficult to cast himself away from the warmth and kindness Jinwoo provided, would it?

“Myungjun, what's wrong?”

“Nothing,” Myungjun croaked out, then he hiccuped. “N-Nothing is wrong.”

Everything was wrong. Myungjun's heart felt like it was about to burst. He couldn't handle it.

“You wouldn't be crying if it was nothing wrong,” Jinwoo replied, and he stepped forward again. Myungjun took another step back. “Myungjun, what the hell is wrong?

Myungjun wanted to blurt it out and explain the entire situation. He wanted Jinwoo to assure him that his feelings were fine and normal.

He longed for Jinwoo to return those feelings. He longed to have a relationship like what he saw in those dramas he had become so invested in. Again, though, maybe it just wasn't acceptable to someone from a different world. Perhaps, on this planet, they would only stay with one of their kind.

“Myungjun-” Once more, Jinwoo was reaching out for him. Myungjun panicked this time, not wanting for his words to come out, so he stumbled backwards, slipping off the sidewalk and into the road. He would have probably continued to fall, as well, had Jinwoo not finally shortened the gap between them completely and grabbed onto Myungjun's shirt.

He pulled him forward, away from the road where the cars were speeding, then hugged him close, his breath coming out in quick, harsh pants.

Myungjun's heart raced.

Jinwoo was holding him.

It felt different from all of the other times Jinwoo had latched onto him. It felt warmer, despite the cold pellets of rain beating down on them. It felt comforting, despite the entire situation that Myungjun had found himself in. It felt like every single worry in the world had evaporated into thin air with Jinwoo's touch.

They pulled back far too soon, but Jinwoo's hands remained clenched into Myungjun's clothing.

“What's wrong, Myungjun? Why are you acting like this? Why are you trying to get away from me – why are you crying, Myungjun? Is it about your planet? Are you thinking about your planet again?” Jinwoo's eyes were large with concern. They were bright and shining, and Myungjun wondered if the stars had left their dark, vast landscape in order to make their home in Jinwoo's eyes, where they truly belonged.

“It's not-” Myungjun started in a whisper, but Jinwoo wasn't yet done.

“You've been acting weird for a while, Myungjun, and I don't know why you just can't talk to me about it! Did I do something wrong? Is that why you're not saying anything to me? Is that why you've been almost ignoring me and what I tell you? Is-”

“I love you!”

Myungjun's feelings didn't want to wait. He had never experienced such emotions on his home planet, and they were spilling forth, their refusal to be kept locked up any longer fueling Myungjun's tears. “I-I love you!”

Jinwoo blinked. “What?”

And Myungjun repeated himself. Each time he said it, anyway, it felt like a weight was being lifted off his chest. “I love you, Jin-Jinwoo!”

Jinwoo was quiet, and Myungjun could definitely detect the shock on his face. “You...what? Myungjun, you told me you loved me like you love the rain and the snow – you don't know what love is.”

“I do know!” Myungjun sobbed out. “I know, Jinwoo! I love you more than I love the rain and the snow and anything else in this world! I love you so much that it hurts. It hurts so bad, Jinwoo, and I-I've never felt anything hurt me inside like this before! You tried to kiss me, didn't you? An-And I thought you might love me, like in Minhyuk's drama and all those shows I watched, but you don't! You love th-that strange man, and I know why, but all I want right now is for you to love me just like I lo-love you!”

Jinwoo's mouth was open, but he wasn't moving it. He stared in confusion as the rain plastered his bangs to his forehead, as the cars continued to pass right on, as both he and Myungjun became completely soaked.

“I wanted you to kiss me, I realized. I didn't know at first wha-what it was, but I figured out, and it was too late, because you were kissing tha-that strange man, instead. But I wanted to be him. I-I want to be the person you're excited t-to go out with and watch movies with and kiss! I want to be loved li-like you love him!”

His requests were probably selfish. He felt selfish, wanting more from Jinwoo when he had already been given so much. But his heart felt as if it was on fire, and he needed to tell before it burst from his chest.

“But i-if you don't love me, I won't – I'll be okay. I'm used t-to not being loved. And I'll leave you alone, an-and you can love that strange man and I won't bother you-”

His hands came up to cup at Myungjun's cheeks, a thumb caressing over the skin. Myungjun froze as Jinwoo slowly leaned their foreheads against each other.

“Myungjun?”

Myungjun held his breath. His own eyes were wide now as he stared, and when their noses bumped together, he was reminded of the almost-kiss from before.

“Myungjun?”

Jinwoo's repeated words came with hot breath, a contrast to the chilly weather outside, and Myungjun finally responded, voice breaking and cracking. “Ji-Jinwoo?”

Jinwoo finished closing the distance between them. Their lips met, softly, wetly, and Myungjun stood still with surprise as he was given his first kiss.

It was far more brief than any of the kisses that Myungjun had seen portrayed in his dramas, and yet it seemed a thousand times better. Myungjun blinked once, twice, trying to remove his eyes of tears and rain drops, and he saw Jinwoo smiling shyly back at him.

“Can I kiss you again?” Jinwoo asked in a whisper. “Can I kiss you every single day of my life, Myungjun? Can I tell you I love you as often as possible?”

Myungjun's heart was no longer heavy. Instead, it was light, floating up into his chest, as if carried by wings to shoot up to the heavens and land somewhere among those stars.

“Y-You love me?”

“I do.”

“More than...more than snow?”

“More than anything.”

And Myungjun was crying again, but this time, Jinwoo was there to kiss away all of the tears from his cheeks.

Myungjun understood what love was, and he never wanted to let love go.

 

Chapter Text

“Why did you bring an umbrella out if you were just going to get us both soaking wet, anyway?” Jinwoo asked as he held the umbrella up again, trying to block out some of the rain. It probably didn't matter at this point, however; his clothes were dripping with water, and he felt like there was a puddle in his shoes.

Myungjun had fared better, oddly enough, than Jinwoo had. He had on boots, though, and an actual rain coat. And while his hair was definitely a wet, matted mess, at least he was probably drier underneath the layers he had on.

“I didn't know I would drop it,” Myungjun whined, trying to match his stride with Jinwoo's. “I was just surprised.”

“Surprised at what?”

Myungjun cleared his throat. “You know,” he murmured, and when Jinwoo glanced at him, he detected a blush.

“Was it me and Gwangho?”

Myungjun whined again, and Jinwoo giggled lightly at the obvious jealousy. No one had ever been jealous over him before.

He hoped he would never give Myungjun another chance to be jealous again.

“If by Gwangho, you mean the stranger you were kissing, then yes.”

“He wasn't a stranger. I've been dating him for a few weeks now. I can't believe you never bothered to learn his name. You love learning peoples' names, don't you?”

Myungjun kicked at a puddle. “Not his name,” he stubbornly responded, crossing his arms over his chest. “Whenever you talked about him, my heart felt like someone was pushing on it really hard, and I felt better if I pretended he was a stranger to everyone.”

It sounded different than jealousy, and Jinwoo felt like he understood. Pain. Heartbreak. Myungjun felt those things that Jinwoo had become familiar with, and it made him feel all the worse. He hadn't meant to put the man he loved through those sorts of emotions; then again, he hadn't even known that Myungjun was capable of feeling anything other than bizarre, child-like endearment.

“I was wrong about you, Myungjun.”

“Wrong?” Myungjun's head snapped up, and his hair splattered water on Jinwoo's face with the sudden jerk of movement. Jinwoo had to take a minute to wipe at his eyes.

(Not that it did any good, as he was going to be wet regardless.)

“Wrong,” Jinwoo confirmed. “Dead wrong. Completely, utterly, entirely wrong.”

Myungjun stared at him as they walked, and Jinwoo had to place a hand on his back to guide him around a corner properly.

“Wrong about what, Jinwoo?”

“Wrong about you being an idiot. Wrong about you not understanding things. Wrong about your ability to love. Wrong about you and your emotions in general.”

Myungjun blinked. “You...you thought I was an idiot?”

He didn't seem to be accusing Jinwoo of anything. He seemed genuinely curious as to the thought process behind it all. His eyes were inquisitive and his tone of voice was interested. “Why did you think I was an idiot?”

“I didn't know I thought you were an idiot at first,” Jinwoo explained. “I thought – I knew – you were smart. But I didn't know that you could feel love. When you were so excited to see snow, I thought that was the extent of your love. That was the absolute limit to how much you could love. Even if you told me you loved me more than snow, I never really felt it. Or, maybe, I don't know, I convinced myself that you just couldn't.”

He shifted the umbrella in his hands, ensuring not a single raindrop was hitting Myungjun. “And I never realized it – I never realized that in thinking all of that, I was equating you to someone below human. I thought you couldn't feel emotions like regular humans could. And that...that was wrong of me to think.”

“You can't help what you think sometimes,” Myungjun replied, and he smiled widely. “Besides, I knew I loved you more than snow, but I didn't know there was actually a way of expressing it. I thought that's how it was. Just like that.”

“And when did you learn otherwise?”

“Um...” Myungjun clicked his tongue, looking away from Jinwoo and back at the path in front of them. “Probably when you were washing my hair.”

Jinwoo remembered that very clearly. It had been exhilarating, yet embarrassing. It had been romantic, yet plain. It had been stupid – just absolutely stupid. He should have taken proper steps in order to sort out his feelings.

“Yeah,” he mumbled. “That was a rash move.” He sighed and ran his fingers through his wet hair, pulling harshly at a tangle. “I'm...I'm sorry for that, Myungjun. It was wrong of me.”

“Why?”

“Why?” Jinwoo repeated, and he moved his hand from his head, glancing over at Myungjun in shock. “Because...because we didn't have a chance to talk about it! I just leaned in one moment, you learned what kissing was a little bit later, and then I just abandoned you.” He groaned loudly; the hand came up again to slap at his own face. “Oh god, I was such a moron. I've been such a moron! I think every single thing I've done up until now has been the dumbest I've ever been. And that's saying a lot, Myungjun, because do you know how dumb I am?”

Myungjun gave a small hmm in response. “Not very dumb,” was his answer, and then he giggled. “I'm happy it played out that way! Even if...if you started dating that strange man, at least-”

“Gwangho. Come on, you know his name-”

Strange man,” Myungjun grounded out, and he didn't seem to care that Jinwoo rolled his eyes. “At least, though, I was able to figure out what my love for you meant. I think if you hadn't done that, I'd still be under the impression that I love you like I love snow.” He reached over and tugged at Jinwoo's arm. “And that isn't true at all, Jinwoo! I love you more than I love snow! I love you more than I love anything at all!”

He had proclaimed his love so much in the short time since Jinwoo had run over to him, and every single time he uttered those words, Jinwoo felt his heart skip a beat. It was such a breathtaking thing to listen to, especially when spoken in the sweet, honey-like voice that only Myungjun possessed. Jinwoo decided it would never become old to him; he would feel just as excited every single time he heard it.

“But what are you going to tell to the strange man?”

Myungjun broke into his thoughts suddenly (easily) and Jinwoo blinked over at him. “What?”

“The strange man,” Myungjun repeated. “Because you were kissing him, and now you're kissing me, and from all of the cute shows I've pulled up on your laptop, kissing two people is...they used a word, what is it – not following the rules?”

“Cheating,” Jinwoo supplied.

Myungjun nodded his head enthusiastically. “That's it! Cheating! So are you cheating, Jinwoo?”

Jinwoo cleared his throat and turned his gaze away. He hadn't thought of it like that. Technically, he was still dating Gwangho. Technically, he did just cheat on his boyfriend with Myungjun. He had knowingly and deliberately cheated.

“Maybe,” he mumbled. He knew for a fact he was, but he needn't involve Myungjun in that process. Myungjun had nothing to do with it, and Jinwoo didn't want him feeling guilt for something he didn't know much about. “I'll explain it to him tomorrow morning, though. I'll just...I'll explain that I had never been in love with him.”

“Why were you his boyfriend if you didn't love him?” Myungjun inquired. He looked at Jinwoo, eyes wide with innocence, arms still wrapped around himself protectively.

Even if Myungjun was on the path to understanding concepts of Earth, he was still far from completely grasping information that Jinwoo had originally assumed was simple. The path set ahead was sure to be riddled with more misunderstandings and explanations for certain things, and when Jinwoo took a second to imagine everything he would have to sit down and talk to Myungjun about, it seemed rather daunting. However, Jinwoo was ready for the task. He would take it with ease and stride and the knowledge that Myungjun loved him, and would love him regardless of how well he would explain every curiosity Myungjun might have.

And so, he decided, he would answer all of Myungjun's questions. He would answer them even if the answer made him uncomfortable.

This one certainly did.

“It wasn't because...because I loved him,” Jinwoo stammered. “But when I had, um, when I had tried to kiss you and then Minhyuk showed up, things seemed like they were about to get weird. You saw two people kiss and I could tell that you had connected the dots. You figured out what I had been trying to do, and originally I had been praying you wouldn't ever know. And when you looked at me, you looked...you looked scared and confused.”

He moved the umbrella to his other hand, shifting his hold, mostly in order to give himself something to do while thinking of what it was exactly that he needed to say. “My only other choice would be to continue to long after you. I...I loved you at that point. God, I loved you before that point, and I had been okay with the knowledge that you would never return my feelings. I had been okay with loving you from a distance. But then you knew, and I...I panicked. I thought facing you would mean an actual rejection. I thought you would tell me that you didn't love me at all, or that you didn't want to kiss me, or...or any combination of the two, honestly. I felt I'd be safe if I went with someone else, and maybe I could grow to love whoever it was I chose. As long as he wasn't you, I thought, I could handle life.”

Myungjun didn't respond when Jinwoo fell silent. Instead, all he heard was the pitter-patter of rain cascading onto the umbrella, and the little squeaks his shoes made as he walked along the puddle-ridden sidewalk back to his apartment.

Myungjun, he realized after a quick glance over, looked thoughtful, as if he was processing all of the information that Jinwoo had given him.

Jinwoo wouldn't interrupt Myungjun's thinking. He wanted Myungjun to mull over it, to figure out what it meant, and then he would speak.

It took two minutes for Myungjun to finally make a noise, a quick cough, and then, “You've loved me for that long?”

Out of everything to take away, Jinwoo hadn't expected that piece of information to be the one thing Myungjun focused on.

“Yeah.”

“Since when, then?”

It was embarrassing to admit, and Jinwoo sighed. His grip was tight on the umbrella, knuckles turning white as he contemplated his answer.

“Since...since you were in the snow,” he responded. “Since then.”

Myungjun's emotions had been raw and beautiful. Myungjun had been so overwhelmed, so in awe of something new to him, and Jinwoo had watched with fascination as Myungjun's eyes had sparkled with the light of a million stars.

Myungjun, who had been through space, who had come from a different planet, had cried at snow. Myungjun, who seemed as old, if not older, than Jinwoo, had played in the snow. Myungjun, who deserved everything perfect Jinwoo had to offer, accepted the bare minimum in appreciation.

“Before that,” Jinwoo continued, “I had been mesmerized by you.”

“Mesmerized?” Myungjun repeated. “By me?

Jinwoo giggled lightly and nudged Myungjun's shoulder. “You're good-looking, Myungjun. I think you should recognize it more.”

Myungjun scoffed. He jumped over a puddle and straightened himself before replying, “I've seen myself in the mirror. I don't know what you're talking about.”

Myungjun-

“I'm boring!” Myungjun exclaimed. “Nothing about me is lovable! I look like the planet I came from, and do you know how gross that planet was? It was just brown and bland. Like...like even my skin! It's much darker than yours, it's brown, and you're nicer and have smoother skin. And you have cool hair, it's a neat white color-”

“It's bleached,” Jinwoo interrupted, and Myungjun waved him off.

“And your eyes are soft and you have a nice nose, and I'm just...” Myungjun whined, as if trying to properly describe himself. “I'm like my planet.”

“From the way you described your planet, you're nothing like it.” Jinwoo stopped suddenly, and he had to grab Myungjun and pull him back under the umbrella. “Let's look at you.”

“Don't!” Myungjun squealed, and he covered his face with his arms. “You'll see how gross I am!”

“Oh, shut up. Let me see.” It was easy enough to pull Myungjun's arms away, and the boy just stood there pouting as Jinwoo examined his face. “Mhmm. Yes. I've determined you are the best looking man I have ever seen in my entire life.”

“Stop it-”

“No, look!” Jinwoo leaned forward and poked Myungjun's cheeks. “You have soft cheeks. And you have beautiful lips, Myungjun – god, you have the best smile and the best lips. I should know, too, I've kissed you, so I know they're the best lips.”

Myungjun was still now, at least, and Jinwoo detected slight hope in his eyes, adoration, expectations for Jinwoo to continue. And Jinwoo definitely wanted to.

“Your eyes are bright and warm and they make me cheer up, no matter how difficult my day was. And your hair – well, it's really wet right now, but usually it's cute.” Jinwoo laughed as Myungjun shook his head in an effort to dispel the water. “And I like your complexion, Myungjun. It makes you who you are.”

“Gross, then.”

No, you dork. It makes you the person I love.”

Myungjun made a face and opened his mouth to say something, but Jinwoo swiftly leaned in and planted a kiss right on his cheek.

That was enough to silence him.

“You taste like the rain,” Jinwoo commented, smacking his lips together.

“Well,” Myungjun started, and he looked like he was blushing, “I, uh, I've been standing in the rain. Y-You saw me – or, even, you see me right now, right? I have rain water a-all over me, so if you put your mouth on my skin, you could taste the rainwater, right?”

Jinwoo smiled brightly. With his free hand, he reached over and grasped onto Myungjun's hand. His fingers curled into the touch, and while Myungjun seemed too shocked at first to do anything, he soon returned the affection with a small squeeze.

“Do you think I taste like rainwater?” Jinwoo asked.

Myungjun looked at him – it was definitely a blush that Jinwoo had caught sight of. “Probably. You've been, um, you've been standing in the rain, as well.”

Probably isn't a certain answer. Can you say, with complete accuracy, that I taste like rainwater?”

“How am I supposed to do that?”

Honestly, Jinwoo had been waiting for that answer. His smile grew into a grin and he released Myungjun's hand in order to point a finger at his own cheek. “Kiss me,” he demanded. “Right here. Just like I kissed you.”

Myungjun hadn't understood the issue involved with kissing until recently; and, up until recently, kissing was something foreign and weird to him.

Apparently, it was now something he knew about, and something he seemed surprised about. “Kiss you?”

“We've kissed already, remember?”

“Bu-But – no, you kissed me!

“You totally kissed back.”

“I didn't! I didn't even have time to react! You just – you just pushed your lips onto mine! An-and then you pushed your lips onto my cheek, too!”

Jinwoo moved his finger away from his face and cocked his head. “So...are you saying that you didn't want me to kiss you, Myungjun? You wished I hadn't?”

“That's not what I said! I just meant that, um...”

Jinwoo waited. Myungjun seemed to be thinking again, figuring out his reply in his head before opening his mouth.

(It was a sure change from just a month ago, when Myungjun had no problem with blurting out whatever he so pleased.)

“I just meant that you kissed me first, so there's no reason for me to kiss back, is there?”

Jinwoo raised his eyebrows. “Your logic is way off. Couples kiss whenever they want to.”

Myungjun fell silent for a second time, staring at Jinwoo with slight anxiety. “Then I'll kiss you back,” he suddenly mumbled. And, before Jinwoo could react properly, he leaned forward and kissed Jinwoo's cheek.

Myungjun hadn't kissed back originally – Jinwoo had lied about that, mostly in an attempt to tease and poke fun at, but Jinwoo hadn't minded. He knew it was still going to be weird, and he didn't care if he had to take everything slower than most other relationships. And, honestly, he hadn't expected a kiss in return so soon and so quick.

Myungjun's peck to his cheek left behind a spot that seemed warm. It made his skin tingle and he felt goosebumps down his arms at the feel of the lips pressed up against his face.

If starlight could leave behind kisses, Jinwoo was sure that it would be a similar experience.

“I want to kiss you back whenever you kiss me,” Myungjun mumbled, and he released Jinwoo's hand to walk away hurriedly, obviously shielding himself from further embarrassment. He was out in the rain, and Jinwoo had to jog to catch up.

Jinwoo matched his long strides, holding the umbrella over the both of them, trying to catch a glimpse at the grin that Myungjun was (unsuccessfully) working on hiding away.

“Then I'll kiss you every second I can,” he whispered.

(Myungjun slipped instantly and fell on his backside. Jinwoo just fell even more in love.)

 

Chapter Text

The rain didn't let up for the rest of the night, but by the time Jinwoo ushered Myungjun into the apartment, he didn't really care. They were inside and they were safe, if not soaking wet. Even that didn't deter Jinwoo's grin, however.

Myungjun had confessed to him. Myungjun loved him. Myungjun had kissed him and claimed that he would like to give Jinwoo even more kisses than just the couple they shared. Honestly, despite the dark and dreary weather, Jinwoo felt as if the world was in his favor and the universe was in his hands.

“Here, hand me your jacket, Myungjun. I'll hang it up on the door to dry.” He held out his arm, and Myungjun draped it over his skin without responding. “And take off your boots. Set them here, too, so they can dry.”

“Can I take off the rest of my clothes?”

Jinwoo laughed, a little nervously, and placed the raincoat on his doorknob, straightening it out so the water would drip down onto the floor. He would set a towel down to catch it later; for now, he needed to focus on getting Myungjun warmed up. “Well, not here. But if you want to go to my room, you can change into some of my pajamas. Whatever cozy ones I have, they're yours.”

But after he took his boots off, Myungjun didn't move. He stood there, completely drenched and shivering with cold, but he didn't move. Jinwoo blinked at him, then gestured to his bedroom. “Go get changed! You look like you're freezing.”

“So do you.”

Jinwoo hadn't noticed, but he was definitely trembling at this point, as well. He hadn't had the protection that Myungjun had the foresight to put on; the rain had soaked him before it got to Myungjun. He didn't feel as cold as he thought he would, however. He somehow felt warm, a glow centered at his heart that spread through the rest of his body, almost like a small fire had set in him and was flickering and welling up, driving away the cold.

He wondered if it was from Myungjun's kisses.

He wondered if it was from Myungjun's love.

“I'm going to change after you do!” Jinwoo exclaimed, and he smiled brightly, pushing at Myungjun's shoulders. “Now go. You look like a fish out of water.”

“A fish?” Myungjun cocked his head. “I've seen documentaries of fish. I don't think I look like a fish. They have scales and fins and they swim in the sea or in fresh water – why is some of your water salty and some of it fresh? And why do fish live differently in these waters? How did that happen, Jinwoo?”

At least, despite their confessions, it didn't appear as if Myungjun had actually changed in any sort of way. Love was supposed to change people – Jinwoo, though, wanted Myungjun to stay the exact same.

“Okay, so maybe you don't really look like one. You can make a fish face, though. Bring in your cheeks like this, and purse your lips.” Jinwoo demonstrated as best he could, and Myungjun stared at him in confusion.

“Jinwoo, that doesn't look like a fish-”

“Just try it.”

And Myungjun did. He tried his best, and in the end, all he could do was purse his lips out slightly. He pointed at them in questioning, eyes searching and waiting for Jinwoo's confirmation that it was a good fish face.

It wasn't. Jinwoo didn't care. Myungjun was cute, regardless, and so Jinwoo leaned forward and quickly captured those lips in his own, kissing them softly. Myungjun drew back with a gasp, a hand slapping over his mouth.

“Got you,” Jinwoo teased.

It took Myungjun a few seconds to respond, and Jinwoo couldn't tell if his ears were red from the cold or from embarrassment. “Y-You can't just keep kissing me like that! I said I would kiss you back whenever you did, and I can't when I'm this cold!”

“Go change, then. I can wait.”

Myungjun seemed unsure of what else to do, but he finally scrambled backwards, pointing an accusing finger at Jinwoo. “When I come back,” he warned, “I want to know why Earth has two different types of water and why some fish live in some water but not other water, and I don't want you to distract me from gaining knowledge with your kissing, alright?” He wagged the finger when Jinwoo didn't stop smiling. “I'm serious, Jinwoo!”

“Right. Of course. We'll discuss fish. A lovely, romantic topic.”

Myungjun stood by the doorway of Jinwoo's room. “I'm serious,” he repeated.

“As am I.” Jinwoo waved him off. “Hurry up so I can change, too! You're not the only person who's frozen, you know.”

That finally got Myungjun moving, and he took Jinwoo's words to heart. It wasn't but five minutes before the alien came tumbling out of the bedroom, pulling on socks and rubbing at his hair. “Was that fast enough?” he asked, worried eyes scanning Jinwoo's body. “Are you really that cold? Do I need to get you medicine? Should I call Bin?”

Myungjun's concern was endearing, and Jinwoo couldn't help but lean over and kiss his cheek. “It's the non-sick sort of cold, Myungjun. I'll be fine. Promise.”

Jinwoo's affection hadn't stopped Myungjun's worry, and he grasped onto Jinwoo's shirt sleeve. “You need to change now, too! Are you going to get the sick sort of cold if you keep on wearing these?”

“Of course I am. I'm not going to wear this all night. I was waiting for you to finish up first, remember?” He wanted to kiss Myungjun again. He wanted to cover Myungjun's entire face with kisses. He wanted to feel every bit of Myungjun's skin and he wanted to memorize every single bump, every single crevice, every single freckle and scar and hair on Myungjun's body. Myungjun was intoxicating, and Jinwoo was willing to allow himself to fall for him, over and over again.

“God, I love you,” he muttered, pushing aside Myungjun's wet bangs to plant a kiss on his forehead. That would do for now, at least. He could be satisfied enough with just that for the moment.

It seemed it was enough for Myungjun, too. The blush on his cheeks was definitely from embarrassment, and the alien ducked his head in an effort to hide it. “I-I told you to stop kissing me right now,” he fussed. “Because you're still wet and I'm still cold.”

“Kissing you makes me feel warm, though!”

“But you don't look warm. You look colder than I am.” Myungjun tugged at his shirt sleeve again, a whine protruding from his lips. “Jinwoo! I don't want you to get sick, because if you get sick, then I have to take care of you, and what if I get sick again? Then we'll both be the sick sort of cold, and it won't be very fun.”

“I think I'll have fun if I'm with you.”

Myungjun rolled his eyes. “You won't have fun. Did you have fun last time you were sick?”

Jinwoo didn't want to exactly say that he did, because he wanted Myungjun to win this little argument. He wanted Myungjun to feel satisfied. And so he shook his head, trying to forget just how cute and sweet and helpful Myungjun had been, trying to forget how maybe getting sick was one of the best things that could have happened to him. It inadvertently led to Myungjun's cold, which led to the weird almost-kiss that Jinwoo now couldn't regret because, hey, it had gotten Myungjun thinking about their relationship.

It had gotten them into a relationship.

But he didn't care if Myungjun ignored all of that for the sake of fretting over him once more. So he continued to shake his head, until Myungjun gently shoved his shoulder.

“Then go change, before you get us both the sick sort of cold! I don't want to feel that icky and gross again.”

Jinwoo laughed, and he tried to lean in for one last kiss, but Myungjun caught him this time. A hand came up, pushing at his forehead. “Not until you're warm,” Myungjun scolded.

If anything could make Jinwoo rush, it was the promise of Myungjun's kisses. It was the promise of cuddling close to Myungjun, and it was the promise of true warmth, the sort that made that fire in his chest.

And by the time Jinwoo came out from his bedroom, dressed in his warmest pair of sweatpants and holding towels in his hands, Myungjun was already setting up the couch, throwing whatever blankets he could find onto their seats.

So far, he had three, and Jinwoo was pretty sure he was still trying to add on even more.

“I think that's enough,” he commented, and Myungjun looked over at him.

“But you told me that warmth will make sure we're not the sick sort of cold. So if I can get us as warm as possible, maybe we'll be safe!”

“I think as long as we take medicine and just actually use our umbrella next time, we'll be fine.”

The little slight sent to Myungjun made the alien frown, and he defended himself, “If you hadn't been kissing that strange man, then I wouldn't have dropped my umbrella!”

Jinwoo couldn't find fault in Myungjun's logic; he honestly couldn't. After all, if it had been the reverse situation, if it had been Myungjun kissing someone Jinwoo didn't even know, he was certain that he would be too shocked to care if the rain hit him at all. He was certain that he would try to scramble away from Myungjun, and that he would be the one to end up crying in the middle of a downpour.

He could only imagine what Myungjun must have felt. He had been so worked up in his own sorrows and despair that he had never even thought about how his relationship with Gwangho might have affected Myungjun, especially in such a confusing period in his life.

“You're right,” he admitted, and Myungjun stared over at him. “What I should have done- what I ought to have done...”

He should have kissed Myungjun the moment he tried to.

Originally, his brain had informed him what a bad idea it would have been. And even after Myungjun confessed, Jinwoo still hadn't regretted his decision to just ignore what had happened and pretend they were friends, and only friends.

If he had kissed Myungjun at that moment in time, he would have had to explain why he kissed him. He would have had to explain his feelings, his emotions, what kisses meant, what their relationship could have progressed into – everything that Myungjun ended up figuring out on his own, Jinwoo would have been able to walk him through.

It was such a missed opportunity, caused by nothing but Jinwoo's own stupidity and hesitation. At least now he had the chance to right his wrongs.

He took one of his towels and tossed it over Myungjun's head. “I should have done this,” he murmured, rubbing at the wet hair. “I should have cared for you and actually dried you off back then.”

“Huh?” From the little sliver of Myungjun's face just visible under the towel, Jinwoo could detect clear confusion. He smiled lightly.

“Back when I was about to kiss you. I should have kissed you. And then I should have actually tried to finish drying you off. And I should have ignored Minhyuk. And I should have explained everything to you. I should have admitted my feelings right then and there, and instead I just ran away from everything I considered to be an issue.”

Myungjun's hair definitely wasn't dry just yet, but he looked a little warmer, and Jinwoo pushed the towel away from his face. It hung over Myungjun's head, draping down his shoulders, damp and smelling like rain. “But didn't you explain it now?” he asked. “So it's okay.”

“But I made you wait for so long.”

“I didn't mind waiting!” Myungjun beamed. “Because at least you loved me, in the end. And at least I realized, too, that I loved you. And at least now you can...you can be my boyfriend, right? Boyfriend Jinwoo?”

Jinwoo's heart skipped a beat. He was pretty sure it did a flip or a somersault. He was pretty sure he hadn't felt this happy in his entire life. “You...you want to be boyfriends?”

“Of course I do! I wouldn't love you if I didn't want to be more than a friend. That's how it works, isn't it?”

Myungjun's innocence would definitely change with time and knowledge, but for now, Jinwoo would cherish it. He would cherish the childish thoughts and realizations, just as he would later cherish the maturity that the years would bring about. He would cherish Myungjun.

“Oh, but that strange man is your boyfriend, isn't he?”

Myungjun's reminder wasn't very welcoming, and Jinwoo grit his teeth down. “Technically...yes. He still is.”

Myungjun nodded his head. “Oh,” he said again. “What...what are we going to do about that?”

“What am I going to do about that,” Jinwoo corrected. He maneuvered Myungjun to the couch, sitting him down before taking the seat right beside him. “And I'm going to talk to him. Tomorrow.” He pulled at the covers, making certain Myungjun received the majority of the warmth, and then he pressed into Myungjun's side.

The fire in his chest had spread, as if burning trees down in the forest, and Jinwoo welcomed it.

“I'll explain to him that I'm sorry, that I love you, that I wish him the best of luck in life but...but I want you to be my boyfriend.”

Myungjun giggled, and he pushed his nose into Jinwoo's cheek. It was a little cold, but Jinwoo didn't dare pull away. Affection from Myungjun was what he desired above all else, and he would accept it, cold nose and all. “And then,” Myungjun whispered, “we'll be like Boyfriend Bin and Best Friend Dongmin, right? Except it will be Boyfriend Jinwoo and Boyfriend Myungjun. Right?”

Jinwoo moved his head so Myungjun's nose fell against his lips. He kissed the top of the nose. “Right,” he responded, voice hushed. “Then we'll be boyfriends.”

However, it was much easier said than done to actually break it off with someone. Gwangho had been nice, too. He had been pleasant and sweet and romantic, and he had been the first man Jinwoo dated who actually liked him.

But, as they sat down for coffee the next day, Jinwoo knew he couldn't lengthen their relationship for any longer, not when he had Myungjun at home eagerly awaiting his arrival.

Gwangho watched him carefully. He said nothing at first, his long fingers playing with the rim of his mug, and he stared at Jinwoo.

Jinwoo cleared his throat. “So-”

“Is this about your friend?” Gwangho suddenly asked, his voice quiet. “The...the one you saw in the rain last night? The one I presume was...the friend you had been asking me about the entire time?”

It would be impossible to go back now. Gwangho had already seemed to figure some of it out. Jinwoo supposed he hadn't helped in that regard, after running off to be with Myungjun, after calling Gwangho out for coffee the moment he woke up.

Jinwoo nodded his head. He didn't want to look at Gwangho.

“Ah,” said Gwangho. “I figured. You weren't asking if he liked you as a friend, were you? It was always something more, wasn't it?”

“I wanted to know if...if he loved me like I love him.”

Gwangho sighed and looked down at his coffee. “I think part of me realized it. I mean, no one asks if someone likes them as a friend. No one is that worried about friendship to keep asking their boyfriend.”

Jinwoo gave an apologetic shrug. “It was a difficult situation,” he replied. “It...it was weird. And I never meant for you to get caught up in it. I really wanted to love you. And-and I really enjoyed our dates. I enjoyed all of them, and you were one of the nicest people I've ever dated, I just...couldn't. I couldn't look at-at Myungjun without feeling that love that should have gone to you.”

“Myungjun is his name?”

Jinwoo nodded, and Gwangho sighed again.

“He was cute,” the older man mumbled. “And when I saw him staring at us, I think I realized, too, that you had nothing to worry about.”

“Yeah.”

“He loves you, doesn't he?”

Jinwoo thought back to earlier that morning. He had woken up to Myungjun plastered to his side. Drool was smeared down Myungjun's cheeks and had dried onto Jinwoo's t-shirt. Myungjun's arms were wrapped tightly around Jinwoo's waist, and anytime Jinwoo tried to move, Myungjun had just groaned and attempted to hold on tightly. It had taken a few minutes to release himself from Myungjun's grasp.

And it had woken Myungjun up. He had blinked blearily, glancing around for a few seconds before his eyes caught sight of Jinwoo.

He had smiled. He smiled as brightly as the stars, and he whispered, his voice groggy still, “Good morning, Boyfriend Jinwoo.”

Myungjun loved him, and that fire had spread all throughout Jinwoo's body. He felt as if he would never be cold again.

“Yeah,” he replied, and he couldn't help the smile that was threatening to overtake his own face. He knew it was as beautiful as Myungjun's smile was, nor was it as brilliant, but it was still difficult to hide.

Gwangho nodded his head in resignation. “This is difficult,” he mumbled. “I really liked you, Jinwoo.”

It had been the first time a date had actually worked out in his favor; it had been the first time Jinwoo had broken it off on his own accord.

“I really am sorry. I just...I don't want to lead you on anymore than I already have.”

“I know.” Gwangho ran his fingers through his hair. “I wouldn't want you to be miserable and watch Myungjun from afar. You deserve happiness.”

Jinwoo wondered if it would be easier to break it off if Gwangho showed him nothing but hatred. As it was, he felt pity settle in his stomach.

“I hoped that it would be you-”

“I don't think focusing on the past will help you much right now.” Gwangho seemed to compose himself just fine, and he took a sip of his coffee finally. “Besides, I think you hoped it would have been Myungjun all along, didn't you?”

He couldn't deny it, and so when he said nothing, Gwangho chuckled.

“Then I want Myungjun to be it. I want Myungjun to make you happy. And if he doesn't, you have my number, right?”

Jinwoo didn't bother trying to hide his grin at that point. He nodded his head and gestured to his pocket, where his phone was stored away. “Hopefully, I won't need to call you, though.”

The words didn't appear to hurt Gwangho. The man just rolled his eyes, a smirk playing on his lip. “What a thing to say to the man you're breaking up with.”

“Well, if we're not going to focus on the past, I might as well focus on Myungjun. And...and you can focus on whatever other hot guy you meet next. He might not be as much of a catch as I was, though.”

Gwangho looked him over for a few seconds. “No,” he agreed, “though it'd be nice if he was taller.”

(It was good that Gwangho accepted the breakup easily, but Jinwoo was happy to put him in the past.)

 

Chapter Text

It had been difficult to pull Myungjun inside of the small bakery. He wanted, instead, to stand outside, to catch snowflakes on his tongue, to make snowmen and snow angels and to build an entire fort out of the small dusting of snow that had just begun to cover the ground.

“That's impossible at this moment,” Jinwoo responded, ushering him inside to the warmth.

“No, trust me, Jinjin, it's not impossible! I saw it on this movie, these children made a snow fort! A huge snow fort, and they could live inside of it, probably, if they wanted to, and wouldn't that be so interesting, to live inside a fort of snow?”

“It would be cold.” Jinwoo tugged off Myungjun's heavy coat and removed the beanie from his head. It mussed his hair as he left, and so Jinwoo tried to flatten it the best he could before he gave up and just stood there, content with running his fingers through thick, brown strands. “And, besides, there's hardly any snow out there right now. You'll have to wait, alright? The weatherman said it'll last a while, so why don't we just wait for more snow, and then we'll do all of that, okay?”

Myungjun stared out the doors, a forlorn expression on his face. “Alright,” he agreed. “I just really like snow.”

“I know you do.” Jinwoo couldn't help the giggle that fell from his lips as he leaned forward and planted a kiss onto Myungjun's cheeks. The frosty smell of winter was still obvious, and the cold that clung to Myungjun's skin had nothing against the warmth Jinwoo tried to usher into his affection. “Can you believe,” he murmured, “that it's been a year since we met?”

Myungjun finally tore his gaze away from the small flurry outside, brightening a considerable amount when his eyes met with Jinwoo's.

“And a year since it last snowed!” he exclaimed.

Jinwoo whined, causing Myungjun to burst out in laughter. “Which one do you love more, though: me or snow?”

“Hmm...” Myungjun contemplated his answer, and Jinwoo whined again, shoving at his shoulder and relishing in the sound of Myungjun's giggles, pure and innocent and full of joy.

It had been a year, and he still couldn't believe the gift that the stars had dropped in front of him. When he awoke in the morning to a kiss and some sort of smoothie or fallen-apart omelet, or when he would visit Myungjun at work during a break in classes, the smell of coffee lingering on the boy's clothes, or at night time when the moon shone overhead and the stars twinkled in the sky and he would stare at Myungjun's sleeping face, difficult to make out in the dark but it didn't matter, because Jinwoo knew every last line, every last curve.

And he realized Myungjun was a gift from the heavens, from the stars above.

“Oh, I see Dongmin, Bin, and Minhyuk over there!” Myungjun was cut from his teasing as he noticed his friends, and he pulled Jinwoo's hand. “Come on, let's go sit with them! I want to tell them that it's snowing!”

The windows in the bakery were large, and Jinwoo was certain that they could already see the change in weather for themselves, but Myungjun's enthusiasm was greater than Jinwoo's common sense. He grinned as he allowed himself to be dragged to the large table that his friends had picked out, exclaiming pleasantries and greetings and small details of the past few days they hadn't seen each other. At least Myungjun waited until they were in their seats before excitedly gesturing to the snow. “Look!” he exclaimed. “Jinwoo and I are going to go build a snowman once all the snow has piled up some. Aren't we, Jinwoo? Just like last year!”

Jinwoo smiled and reached over to grab Myungjun's hand, squeezing it gently and nodding his head. The snow brought with it memories of the past, memories of their struggle to become more than just roommates, more than just friends. It had been a rocky path, uncertainty dwelling between them, but it had been Myungjun who took the step that Jinwoo could not.

Bin glanced up from devouring the cupcake he had in his hand and made a small noise of confirmation, glancing to the window and then back over to Myungjun. “You really like the snow, don't you?”

“He's been waiting all year,” Jinwoo pointed out.

“It's exciting, though! Besides, snow is special. It's one of the most important things to me!” And, as if remembering the entire fiasco that last year had brought about, he placed a small kiss on Jinwoo's cheek, giggling as he drew back. “Not as important as Jinwoo is, though!”

Minhyuk groaned into his hands. “Can't we have one outing where you two don't act like dumb schoolchildren who have just confessed to their first love?”

Bin and Dongmin seemed to agree, if their nods were anything to go by, but Jinwoo didn't stop holding Myungjun's hand, in any case. He didn't mind being the insanely gross couple; in fact, that option would be the first he would choose, in order to display his love for the cute alien that was now stuck to his side.

“Fine,” Jinwoo said, even if his fingers, entwined with Myungjun's, displayed a different answer. “We won't act all gross and perfect. Even though I think it's just you guys being jealous because of how cute Myungjun is.”

As expected from the compliment, Myungjun grinned, ducking his head shyly and nudging his shoulder into Jinwoo's chest.

“Really?” Dongmin asked with a scoff. “Because he wasn't so cute when he broke my coffee machine. Twice.”

His words caused Myungjun to sit up straighter in his seat, an indignant expression pasted across his face as he shook his head, vehemently denying the charges. “It wasn't twice! It was just once, and you promised to keep it a secret, Dongmin!”

“It was twice,” Dongmin shot back. “The first time, you somehow managed to make it nearly explode, if you recall. And the second time, you punched it. I still don't know why you-”

“It was making a weird sound! It kept whirring and when I told you about it, you didn't seem concerned, and then it got louder and that was the only way to get it to stop!” The men around the table raised their eyebrows, and so Myungjun turned to the only person who would believe him.

Jinwoo knew he must remain strong and unbiased, but those adorably large, brown eyes got to him every single time.

“Jinwoo! Tell them I would never ever do something like that on purpose!”

“Well, he wouldn't do it on purpose,” Jinwoo agreed, bringing Myungjun's hand up to his lips to press the lightest of kisses onto his knuckles. When he lowered the hand, he added, “But I can totally see him ruining your machine twice.”

Myungjun quickly released the hold they had on each other, crossing his arms over his chest in irritation. “You're just agreeing with Dongmin because he's your best friend,” the older boy accused, his tone sharp, but not entirely serious.

“Also because I think he's probably telling the truth.” And because Dongmin had called him on those days, explaining what it was Myungjun had done and requesting payment for his broken machines. They weren't too costly, and Jinwoo kept it secret that he had always known about it. He just couldn't force Dongmin to deal with it himself, however. Dongmin had been the one to ask if Myungjun could work for him, at the small coffee shop his parents helped him start. It had been incredibly nice of him to request Myungjun, of all people, to teach him how to make coffee (which led to him teaching Myungjun what coffee even was, which led to Jinwoo waking up one morning to Myungjun pouring over documentaries about coffee – which Jinwoo didn't even know was actually a thing) and to teach him how to actually work for his money. Myungjun seemed happier with a purpose in life, with his own means of survival, and from what Jinwoo could tell, he was a big hit with the customers, too. His friendly demeanor and bright innocence brought in regulars, who always requested Myungjun make them their coffee. He took his orders seriously and, after his first few months, he maintained a solid record of making perfect coffee on demand.

The only blemish on his otherwise spotless record was his destruction of two coffee machines.

“You're a traitor,” Myungjun whispered to Dongmin, even if the rest of the table could obviously hear it. “You said you wouldn't tell anyone, and you just told all of my friends, and all of Jinwoo's friends, and all of-”

“He told us all,” Minhyuk helpfully supplied.

Myungjun nodded in agreement to Minhyuk's statement, and Jinwoo realized that their small group of friends had accepted Myungjun without question. They had accepted his innocence and his ignorance. They had accepted his rambling discussion topics and his endless questions. They worked with him well; they realized what he meant, and they would always help him find the words or phrases he needed to get his point across quickly and easily.

And they liked him.

Dongmin, despite all of his complaints about Myungjun and the coffee machine, had nothing else but praise for his work ethic and cheerful demeanor. And Bin had quickly learned that Myungjun wasn't just a naive alien, and had ended up befriending him readily. Minhyuk became Myungjun's drama buddy (and, also, had inadvertently been the reason Myungjun ended up figuring out and confessing his own feelings, something he never let Minhyuk forget, even if Minhyuk still didn't quite know how his drama made Myungjun confess), and Sanha was, according to Myungjun, “the most lovable little Earthling ever, but did you know he has evil thoughts?”

And sitting here, watching Myungjun banter with the younger boys, watching Myungjun giggle and try to steal some of Bin's food, brought a smile to Jinwoo's face, soft and watery.

Myungjun had friends. Myungjun had happiness. Myungjun had love. Earth had given him all these things that his previous life hadn't consisted of, and Jinwoo was thankful that he was there with Myungjun through the process of gaining a new will to exist in the universe.

Myungjun shoved at his shoulder, and Jinwoo snapped out of his thoughts. “What was that for?”

“Were you dreaming again, Jinwoo?” Myungjun asked. “Stop dreaming when you're awake. You need to listen, because this is important!”

And Jinwoo was all ears (even if the last important thing Myungjun had to say was, “If people could be bitten by spiders and develop those powers, wouldn't they shoot webs out of their butts? Jinwoo, stop laughing, I haven't told a joke today.”).

This was a little less ridiculous.

“Dongmin said I can't keep anything a secret, so he asked me why he should keep his own secrets, and then Bin and Minhyuk agreed with him, and I just need you to tell them that I can keep a secret!”

Jinwoo wanted to tell off his friends for teasing his lover in such a manner, but, at the same time, he couldn't think of any secrets Myungjun had actually kept. “Um,” he started, “there was that time before he confessed to me, and he kept it a secret.”

“Wasn't that just because he wasn't aware of his own feelings?” Minhyuk asked.

“Yeah. Point taken.” Jinwoo had to think, his eyebrows furrowed, and he tried to ignore the helpless stare Myungjun was shooting in his direction. “Myungjun, you don't keep secrets from me, do you?” he questioned. He hadn't thought so; and, if he was wrong, then Myungjun was actually damn good at keeping secrets.

Myungjun sighed loudly. “I have one secret I'm keeping from all of you,” he said. “Sanha told me this secret.”

“Really?” Minhyuk was the first one to sit up, looking quite intrigued. “What is it?”

“Sanha said that he really, really likes you,” Myungjun responded, gesturing over to Minhyuk. “And he said I was supposed to keep it a secret, and I've been doing a great job at it! None of you guys knew! Especially not Minhyuk, he was really not supposed to know! And I kept it a secret!”

Minhyuk was red in the face, eyes wide, owlishly blinking at Myungjun. Bin just laughed, and Dongmin raised his eyebrows.

It took Myungjun a few seconds to realize just why he had been given those reactions, and he slapped a hand over his mouth in horror.

“Oh, my god!” he exclaimed, voice muffled. “I didn't – I mean, it just came out! You can't tell Sanha I told you, alright? He'll never trust me with another secret again!”

Jinwoo wasn't very shocked from the admission; he was more shocked from the fact that Minhyuk looked surprised. He figured Sanha's infatuation had been obvious, what with the way the boy followed Minhyuk everywhere and was constantly texting him when they were apart. Regardless, he had to save his own boyfriend from further embarrassment (and from further reveal of secrets he had kept piled up within himself), and so he stood from his seat, pulling Myungjun up with him.

“I think that's our cue to leave,” he said to the group as Myungjun continued to try desperately to convince them all to keep his spilled secret a secret. “Besides, the snow is coming down harder out there, and I want to get home before it's too difficult to walk in.”

Talking about snow was the key, Jinwoo was learning, to calming Myungjun down, to helping his mind rest on things other than Sanha's potential wrath (though Jinwoo doubted Sanha would be too mad, especially since it seemed that Minhyuk held the same feelings for him). And the promise of walking out in the snow was enough to make Myungjun sigh in relief and hook arms with Jinwoo as they, once again, traversed down a path that was becoming littered with white flakes.

“I really didn't mean to,” Myungjun murmured once they were far enough away from the bakery.

Jinwoo smiled. He kissed at Myungjun's rosy red cheeks, three or four times before he drew back. “I know,” he assured his boyfriend. “Secrets are hard to keep. Besides, I know Bin was mocking you for spilling it, but he would have told us all much sooner than you did.”

Myungjun looked up. Half his face was tucked down into his scarf, and his eyes peered into Jinwoo's gaze. “Really? So my mistake wasn't so bad?”

“Of course it wasn't!” Jinwoo didn't care if Minhyuk had found out; something good was bound to come out of it, in any case.

Myungjun was satisfied with Jinwoo's answer, and he walked all the closer. They left behind footsteps in the snow, side-by-side, plastered together in warmth and love. Jinwoo glanced back behind him once. It was no longer just Myungjun leaving his place in the world. Instead, they went together, and the world accepted them as one.

Jinwoo hoped they could always be one.

“Do you have any secrets?” Myungjun asked quietly, his voice as soft as the sounds of snow.

(Or maybe Myungjun had somehow become the sounds of snow, gentle and bright and pure.)

Jinwoo had secrets. He didn't have too many he kept from Myungjun, however, save for the one that was buried away in the back of his dresser drawer, a small black box that contained all of his affection and love and adoration in a simple ring.

He thought of that, of the joy that had spread through his body when he held it in his hands the first time, of the anticipation he felt as they settled down for sleep in the evenings, of the constant imaginations he thought up for the rest of their lives together.

Before he could deny the question, though, Myungjun gasped out and poked him. “You do have a secret!”

“How do you know?” Jinwoo asked in defense.

“Because you were quiet and you had this look on your face that you get when you're trying to convince me otherwise!”

Damn. Jinwoo would have to ask Dongmin for acting lessons one day.

“Just one secret, then,” Jinwoo admitted, and Myungjun drew in his breath, presumably to go into one of his many rambling lectures, so Jinwoo hurried to remedy the situation. “It's not important at the moment, though,” he added, “and I'm definitely going to tell you! I just...I need a few more months to prepare everything, and then it'll be the perfect time.”

Myungjun didn't look convinced at first. “Is there a perfect time to reveal secrets?”

“There's a time and a place for everything.”

“And will we still always be together when you tell me your secret? It's not...it's not a secret that's bad, is it? We won't, um, we won't be apart, will we?”

It was at times like these that Myungjun's vulnerability shone, and Jinwoo desired nothing but to ensure his boyfriend's fears were properly demolished. So he stopped, pulled Myungjun's scarf down, and found his lips, kissing him gently.

“As if I would ever break up with you,” he murmured.

It seemed as if the reassurance worked. Myungjun beamed, eyes sparkling with excitement, and he grabbed Jinwoo's hand to continue their walk. “Then I can wait!”

Myungjun was patient and kind and so good to Jinwoo. He had realized that from the very start of their relationship, and at times, he couldn't believe he had someone like Myungjun.

No, he thought later that evening, as he typed the final words of his essay, not even like Myungjun. I can't believe I have Myungjun.

It was a thought that stuck with him daily. He woke up in the mornings and, god, he had to thank the stars, as vacant as they were from the daytime sky, for crashing Myungjun's ship down into his planet, into his country, into his town. He would brush back Myungjun's hair, a giddy smile on his face when he noticed Myungjun's lips twitch, when he noticed the signs of Myungjun's awakening, and he felt the same sort of intoxication he had just one year prior. Their relationship was still young, but it had been long enough that, according to various sources, they should be over their honeymoon period.

But they weren't, and Jinwoo closed his laptop with a fond sigh, his gaze drifting to the window where two snowmen sat in the front yard. One was already threatening to fall over, and Jinwoo wondered if the snapback Myungjun had stuck on its lopsided head (“to make it look just like you, Jinwoo!”) would still be there come morning.

It didn't matter if it would or not, just as it didn't matter if the snowman would still retain his shape throughout the night. What truly mattered was the snow itself, and the sounds of snow.

Tonight, Jinwoo thought, turning around to his couch, it was Myungjun's light breathing as he slept. It was the small moan he gave as Jinwoo lightly shook him, and it was the smacking of his lips when Myungjun finally opened his eyes.

It was his voice, laced with sleep, that asked, “Are you done with your homework, Jinjin?”

It was the nickname that fell from his lips and the love that shone in his eyes.

If Myungjun claimed that snow was the best thing in the world, then Jinwoo would agree, but only because snow became synonymous with Myungjun.

“All done,” Jinwoo replied. “I only had a little bit more to write. It was easy; you already told me a lot about the birth of new stars.”

(He had switched his major after a few days of thought. He ran it past Dongmin, too, before doing anything. “Astronomy?” Dongmin asked out loud, and the boy smiled up at Jinwoo. “I wonder why.”)

“The birth of stars is happier than the death of stars,” Myungjun mumbled, and Jinwoo rolled his eyes as he helped Myungjun stand from his seat.

“Rambling nonsense, again, babe?”

“I'm tired,” Myungjun complained, “so I'm allowed to right now, aren't I?”

He was always allowed to, and Jinwoo giggled as Myungjun leaned on him for support. “You know, you could have waited for me in our bedroom. You didn't have to fall asleep out here.”

Myungjun yawned, shuffling his feet along their carpeted floor. “But I wanted to watch,” he responded. “The snow was falling and you were sitting in front of it and it was my two favorite things in the entire universe together, and I had to watch it.”

Jinwoo made it to their bedroom, his heart filled to the brim with warmth, and he laid Myungjun down in their bed. The alien instantly curled up under the covers, though once Jinwoo was in position, Myungjun wrapped his arms and legs around the younger boy, burying his face into Jinwoo's neck and sighing deeply.

“Do you still love me more than snow?” Jinwoo asked, his voice a whisper in their otherwise silent room.

“Mm.” Myungjun nodded his head. Jinwoo could feel the movement. “I love you more than the snow and more than the stars and more than all of the planets in the sky.”

Jinwoo laughed, planting kiss after kiss onto Myungjun's sleepy face. “It's a lot of love,” he murmured.

“And it's only for Boyfriend Jinwoo.” Myungjun's eyes were shut and his words were becoming less coherent with each passing second. “No one else. Just Boyfriend Jinwoo.”

Jinwoo relished in those words. His chest filled with pride, with affection, and he wondered if it was possible for a heart to burst from love. He held Myungjun close to him, threading his fingers through brown locks, and he sighed in content, closing his own eyes finally.

Before sleep's embrace could gather him up, however, he heard Myungjun, voice muffled and quiet, ask, “Is your love only for me?”

Never mind bursting; he wondered if it was possible for a heart to melt from love.

“Yes,” he whispered. “My love is only for Boyfriend Myungjun.”

He made certain Myungjun was tucked in fine, and he waited for the tell-tale signs of a sleeping Myungjun, for the light breathing and the open mouth, and he planted one last kiss on Myungjun's forehead, lips lingering as he, too, fell asleep.

And the stars hanging above, small lanterns in the sky, watched on soundly, at the love they had helped to create.