The moon shone down unforgiving on his face, as Jae Shin lay back with his head propped on his arm, and tried to get some sleep. Distracted by the loud chatter of the scholars drinking and playing word games, he didn't notice that Yong Ha had sat down next to him, until a warm hand whacked him softly on his chest.
"Are you just going to lie there like an old shadow of yourself?" Yong Ha's voice was deliberately light. Jae Shin ignored him, and pretended to be sound asleep. "Don't be so stubborn. You know your heart is with Daemul."
When the hand turned into a playful fist and started knocking his head, Jae Shin gave up the act and leveled a death stare at Yong Ha. It didn't seem to deter him in the least.
"See? It's making this hollow sound," Yong Ha announced, seemingly pleased at his discovery.
As his fist was about to come down again, Jae Shin's hand shot out and grabbed it mid-trajectory. "If you keep making these senseless assumptions, your wrist is going to break," he promised, as seriously as he knew how.
Yong Ha didn't seemed cowed by his threat, but his expression was a little abashed as he took his wrist back.
Jae Shin exhaled tiredly and shifted slightly to find a more comfortable spot. In all the years he had known Yong Ha, he knew that there were times Yong Ha sought him out simply because he wanted company, and then there were times he sought him out because there was something that was bothering him. This was one of those times. Yong Ha wouldn't share if he felt forced into it, so Jae Shin tried to lie there as harmlessly as he knew how, and wait for Yong Ha to speak.
It didn't take long.
"You like her, don't you? Daemul."
The words were sudden, and Jae Shin felt his breath catch in his throat.
Yong Ha's tone was careless, but there seemed to be an undercurrent of -- wistfulness? Hurt? Jae Shin felt a welling sensation he couldn't quite place, fleeting and frightened in his chest. Strange. He'd never felt something like that before -- almost as if his heart was tripping all over itself.
He decided it was fear. Yong Ha was brilliantly astute when it came to people, sharp eyes seeking them out and cataloguing their motives and weaknesses. It wasn't something he did consciously or maliciously, but Yong Ha's curiosity could never resist it either. Regardless, it would never do to give Yong Ha a hold over him.
Jae Shin carefully turned over his options, and decided the best solution was to progress cautiously. He made his voice casual. "What about you? Don't you like her too?"
He felt, rather than saw, Yong Ha shifting uncomfortably next to him. "That's true. Who wouldn't like that bright-eyed person?" He seemed to hesitate, and search for the next question to ask.
It was turning dangerous. The best option was to withdraw first, and return when Yong Ha was in a less questing mood.
"I'm going to sleep," Jae Shin said brusquely, and made to leave.
"Don't waste your energy trying to put on a stoic front, Geol Oh," Yong Ha said, using his nickname. He circled over to Jae Shin, usual cocky expression fixed on his face. Jae Shin noticed distractedly that Yong Ha wasn't quite meeting his eyes. "Pretending not to want, pretending not to be jealous. Pretending to be strong and unaffected by such petty matters."
Yong Ha always had a tendency to get too close when he was teasing him. It was something Jae Shin still couldn't get used to, even after ten years, and he held his breath as Yong Ha drew near. His heart was hammering insistently in his chest. With just a few words, Yong Ha was able to make him feel as though he could see right through him, right down to his likes and dislikes and deeper desires. He was always able to do that -- say a few words and it would be like pushing a switch, galvanising Jae Shin into action.
Yong Ha knew this, too.
His lips quirked in a small smirk, though there seemed to be an inexplicable heaviness in his eyes, which Jae Shin caught and wondered briefly at.
But then Yong Ha was speaking, the exact words he knew his friend needed.
"If I were you, I would focus all my energy into making her mine."
And Jae Shin was gone.