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“Hyung.” Changkyun peeked into Hyunwoo’s room, curious expression on his face, only to see both Hyunwoo and Jooheon on the floor, studying.

Jooheon’s face was scrunched up, lips forming a frown as he stared at the paper in front of him. If Changkyun didn’t know any better, he would’ve sworn that Jooheon was trying to set the thing on fire with his mind.

However, Changkyun did know better. He knew very well that Jooheon was struggling with a class and that Hyunwoo, who had taken the class in a previous year, was helping him.

It stung a little that Jooheon didn’t go to Changkyun for help. They were taking the same exact class and Changkyun was excelling it. Jooheon knew that because they would often share scores on papers and assignments.

Changkyun had seen the downward trend of Jooheon’s scores while Changkyun’s stayed at the rather high A’s and B’s range.

It didn’t matter, he quickly told himself. It only made sense that Jooheon asked Hyunwoo for help. Hyunwoo was a better teacher anyway. Jooheon would learn much more easily from someone who wasn’t an automatic genius.

Plus, it wasn’t as if Changkyun offered to help him study. He just offered to read and correct Jooheon’s papers. Changkyun should’ve been more specific about being willing to help Jooheon with studying too.

Not that Jooheon had taken him up on the previous offer either.

When neither of them had answered him and he had lingered far too long at the door, Changkyun tried again “Hyung, are you guys going over material for the test next week?”

This time, Hyunwoo looked up but there was a hint of annoyance in his expression “Yes, Kyunnie, did you need something?”

Changkyun’s heart almost soared when Hyunwoo finally started paying attention. He quickly steeled his expression, though, and, instead, answered “Well, I was wondering if I--”

“You can’t study with us.” Jooheon spoke up even without looking to Changkyun and his words felt like a knife plunged straight into Changkyun’s heart.

Slowly, Changkyun straightened and his feet moved as if readying to leave “Oh, uh, really?”

Hyunwoo had turned his attention to Jooheon, something unreadable in his expression. If Changkyun hadn’t known any better, it would’ve been indifference. But, he did know better. Why wouldn’t Hyunwoo feel bad for him?

Didn’t he care for Changkyun? What Jooheon had said definitely crossed the line and it was obvious Changkyun felt hurt. Instead, however, Hyunwoo said nothing.

Jooheon continued “You’ll distract me. I need to ace this test, okay?”

“Well, it’s just that, I had a question on the review sheet and I thought maybe…” Changkyun trailed off, lie leaving his lips easily. These days, it felt like lies like that were becoming easier and easier to make.

It wasn’t a surprise that he needed to lie either. If he didn’t lie like that, he felt like he’d never get the opportunity to hang around Jooheon and the others. They always seemed to do this and that, leaving him out. He always had to procure some sort of falsehood as an excuse to join in.

Changkyun knew the review sheet backwards and forwards. He knew the subject like the back of his hand. He didn’t need help. Maybe it was selfish of him but he just wanted to be around them, be near them, just have their attention even if it was just for a second.

He felt pathetic.

“Changkyun-ah, I’m sure you can figure it out on your own.” Hyunwoo answered, that unreadable expression on his face still present. Instead of fighting it, Changkyun just felt tired, like he didn’t want to keep pushing.

He tried to keep from looking pitiful which was, coincidentally, how he felt. He also ignored the way his heart seemed to clench, weighed down by some sort of load. He wondered if it was the sadness he felt but then quickly pushed away that thought because wasn’t that overdramatic of him to think?

Instead, he gave a curt nod, awkward laugh forcing itself out of his throat “Yeah, you’re probably right, hyung.”

Then, without even looking back, he left, nails digging into the palms of his hands. Maybe someone else would have time for him, would give him some attention. It made him feel needy, like he was only bothering people whenever he insisted on hanging out with them.

He wondered if that was normal.

Instead of dwelling on those thoughts, he turned his attention to where he was headed. Maybe there was something to entertain him in the kitchen.

He knew that eating because he was bored (and not because he was hungry) was a bad idea. It would definitely cause him to gain weight and he didn’t need that extra fat. Changkyun couldn’t help it, though. There was nothing else he could do.

Maybe it wasn’t even because he had nothing to do. Part of him knew thought that, perhaps, if he lingered in the kitchen, he would bump into someone else. Maybe Wonho, maybe Minhyuk. Someone who would ask him to do something with them.

Pathetic .

Just as he entered the kitchen, he spotted Hyungwon and Wonho. Both of them were crowded around the microwave. From the popping sounds coming from the microwave, Changkyun quickly deduced that they were about to watch some movie or perhaps a TV drama.

Changkyun would bet his money on the TV drama. He would’ve happily asked them what they were up to, which would have lead to them inviting him to watch the TV drama with them, but he couldn’t lie about wanting to watch the drama.

It wasn’t as if he wasn’t willing to. At this point, Changkyun was willing to do just about anything to hang around Hyungwon or Wonho (or, really, anyone ). It was just that he had established, early in their relationship, that he hated those kind of TV dramas.

He  didn’t like the ‘plot twists’ which weren’t exactly ‘plot twists’ and were more excuses to extend the drama past its expiration date. Most dramas that Hyungwon and Wonho watched were enjoyably cheesy and romantic but too drawn out.

“Oh, Kkukkungie.” Wonho spoke up just as Changkyun opened the refrigerator door. Suddenly, a feeling of not exactly dread but something similar filled Changkyun’s heart.

Instead of dwelling on that, Changkyun simply turned to his hyung and gave a small smile “What’s up, hyung?”

“We were going to watch that TV drama. You know which one, right?” Wonho’s lips pulled back into a broad grin and Changkyun felt as if he was supposed to be in on some sort of information. Except, he wasn’t so he only felt even more left out.

Instead of replying, Changkyun raised an eyebrow. Thankfully, Hyungwon responded “It’s about these two childhood friends who are in love--”

“Ah, wait no, I think I do know that drama.” Changkyun quickly interrupted, not wanting a play by play of whatever drama they were currently watching. The lie slipped easily enough and it wasn’t a surprise that Changkyun had been so convincing.

What was a surprise, however, was how easily Wonho and Hyungwon accepted the lie. Like both Hyunwoo and Jooheon, they didn’t suspect a thing.

With Hyunwoo and Jooheon, it wasn’t as big of a disappointment because, yeah, they knew that he was good at the subject but even the best geniuses got stumped on a problem or two. No, the fact that Hyungwon and Wonho didn’t suspect his lie was much more disappointing.

Changkyun wanted to think that, maybe, they believed that there were certain dramas that he was into. Another part of him wanted to think that he hadn’t been that adamant about hating dramas so, perhaps, they just forgot.

Telling himself that felt like he was lying to himself. The worst part about that was that, unlike everyone else, Changkyun couldn’t believe in his own lies.

Either way, what he had said seemed to please both Wonho and Hyungwon. As the microwave dinged, Wonho grabbed the bag of popcorn and Hyungwon kept his gaze on Changkyun “Did you want to watch it with us?”

Instead of saying no like he wanted to, Changkyun felt himself nodding almost subconsciously. The grin on Hyungwon’s face was almost big enough to eclipse the heaviness in Changkyun’s chest.

Almost .