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Hello perfection, come stay awhile.

 

Taemin nibbled thoughtfully at his pen, blond hair awry in the playful wind. The curtain billowed, flapping at his neck as he absently patted it back into is place.

 

Taemin had been in this position for two hours already, from ten to twelve, and he still hadn't gotten any further.

 

Clash.

 

"Oh my goodness, ajumma, so sorry. I'll pick everything up, so sorry," a nervous voice floated up to the window from the alley below. Taemin poked his head out.

 

There was the boy Taemin kept trying not to think about. He was bent over, picking up pots and wooden spatulas, glancing up at an old lady nearby as he did so. "Sorry sorry," he kept saying in that musical voice of his, and Taemin leaned against the window sill, sighing.

 

As the lady finally went off without a word when the boy gave her bag back, he bent down to pick up his own books strewn messily over the pavement. Then he straightened and whistled, making his way to a freshly painted yellow door. Taemin knew it was freshly painted because he'd woken up early and watched him paint it only hours before. He fumbled with something in his pocket, brought out some keys and unlocked the door.

 

Taemin groaned when it shut behind him.

 

"I don't even know your name!" he called out, recklessly, and sat down again.

 

"Here I am," he muttered furiously at himself. "A perfectly normal eighteen year old who writes sections for the school newsletter, and I'm about to get kicked out of it after two years, because some cute guy whose name I don't know has blocked all sane thoughts in my head." He paused for breath, letting the words sink in, and laughed incredulously. "I sound so stupid, dear God."

 

There was relative silence for a while, then. Just his pen tapping insistently on the plain pages before him as he twiddled it between his thumb and forefinger. "Okay," he said, after some minutes had passed. "Okay, so, basically, I'll just move on with my life. The end, right?" Then he realized he'd zoned out somewhere in the middle and didn't even know what he was talking about, or why he was talking to nobody. Or himself. Pretty much the same thing. He groaned.

 

___

 

"Two cappuccinos, please. I'd like them in those paper tray things," he added. The girl smiled. "You mean two cappuccinos to take home," she corrected, gently, as she turned on the tap and the steaming liquid frothed into a cup.

"Um, yeah, sorry." Not that it mattered, she was already talking to another customer.

"No need to apologize," a voice said behind him, and Taemin's heart couldn't decide whether to pop out his ears or sink down his toes, so it tightened painfully and caused him to freeze.

 

"Sorry?" he asked with more force than a normal stranger would have had, whirling around to face - yeah. It was him. Still, Taemin contemplated, I'm not a normal stranger. I'm an obsessed semi-stalker.

 

"No need to apologize," the other boy smiled, and Taemin's heart proceeded to take the second option from before and sink.

This is why I'm a mess, Taemin sighed, distraught. His smile is bedazzling. Is bedazzling a word.

 

"See, knowledge is a beautiful thing," he went on. "So is the process of gaining it. We should never apologize for doing something beautiful. Then again, ignorance is beautiful, too. It gives some a thirst, and others a chance to feed that thirst. Nothing to apologize for."

 

Great choice, Taemin. Fall for a philosopher why don't you.

 

"Um, okay. Thanks."

 

"How did that sound, though? Did it even make sense?" the smile had changed to an apprehensive pout. "It's for my presentation. Not the apologizing bit, of course, but you know, the knowledge versus ignorance thing. We have to - "

 

"Two cappuccinos, sir," the girl interrupted, and Taemin glared. She didn't notice, though. "Oppa!" she squealed. "Where have you been? Mom's missed you these past few days."

 

Taemin took his order in the paper tray thing and slipped away.

 

___

 

"Lee Taemin!" Yeeun called out, irritated. "This is the fourth time I'm calling your name."

 

Taemin stared out the class window, unheeding. He was pretty sure he just saw him walk past the building, on the way to what was most probably his own campus, and Taemin imagined him standing a little breathless before the big classroom, twisting the hem of his lose, dark purple T-shirt in nervousness, coughing, and then starting his speech on how the search for knowledge was -

 

He yelled incoherently as the class gave a small, collective gasp.

 

"You're lucky I didn't break a ruler over your back," his math teacher hissed, and pulled him to his feet by his ear.

 

"Principal's office, immediately."

 

"Yes ma'am."

 

She didn't let go of his ear. "You are to tell him you were horribly rude and not paying attention."

 

"Yes, ma'am."

 

"You are to write a thousand lines of how you will not do so again for homework."

 

"Yes, ma'am."

 

"Don't ma'am me like that, I don't approve of patronizing elders."

 

"Sure, Yeeun."

 

Her nails dug into the shell of his ear and /damn/ it hurt so much he couldn't even deign to scream.

 

As he walked out the room, vision unintentionally blurring from his still-smarting ear, he felt someone expertly pinch at his hip pocket. He made a mental note to tell Kibum that their friendship was over.

 

___

 

I will not do so again I will not do so again I will not do so again. His hand was aching and he'd only done four hundred lines. Still, he was slightly pleased with himself. The teacher had obviously wanted him to write 'I will not ignore my teacher again when she calls my name.' And here he was, quoting her, 'not do so' instead.

 

His phone rang. He danced slowly towards it, about to pick up bed when it stopped ringing. "Hypocrite," he cursed, randomly, and turned back before it started ringing again. He brightened and picked it up.

 

"No," he started, eyebrows raised, as he pressed 'answer'.

 

The silence on the other side was slightly confused and static.

 

"Kibum was just asking how the lines were going," the voice on the other end said, awkwardly, and he heard the phone being passed to someone else, soft hushed kisses in the background.

 

"You touched my butt," Taemin ignored the sounds.

 

"You slap mine on a regular basis," Kibum returned.

 

"Do I do it in front of the class?"

 

"You do it in front of the entire locker room after gym class. Everyone thinks we're an item now."

 

Taemin's eyes widened. "They can't, you're joking!"

 

"Of course, pabo. How're the lines?"

 

"Four hundred," Taemin leaned back and twirled on a leg of his chair expertly. "Can you do the rest?"

 

"No."

 

"Please?"

 

"Dongsaeng," Kibum's tone turned stern.

 

"Hyung," Taemin grinned, knowing this exchange by heart.

 

"Okay," the other sighed. "Whatever. Shopping tomorrow."

 

"Whatever," Taemin hung up, gleefully. Kibum was a nice hyung.

 

He turned back to his desk, taking up a pen and beginning to push the button at its tip mindlessly until he started and took out a new sheet.

 

"Writing, now."

 

His desk listened, dolefully.

 

Taemin surprised himself as the words began pouring out. Usual, crisp, normal words. Stuff that talked about the weather and growing exam tension and the school plays and /nothing/ that was poetic or related to - Taemin shook his head fiercely and didn't let his thoughts further.

 

___

 

"This is pretty good, Taemin," the senior noona looked over his paper, readjusting her glasses. "Better than usual. I like how you start out with the wind and loop it back when you're done for a neat end."

 

He grinned, "I know you like those sort of things."

 

"Call a tactic, strategy. Even trick is better than 'thing'. You're a senior, too, Taemin. Vocab," she intoned as she adjusted the papers and set them aside. Normally he'd have shrugged and given a small smile, but he found himself saying, "Thanks, noona."

 

She looked surprised. "For what?"

 

"For being beautiful."

 

Taemin slipped out the door, grinning inside as the girl behind the desk sat frozen in shock, eyes wide.

 

___

 

Taemin took to watching the alleyway from his window, keeping his head low so only his mop of light blond hair showed if anyone was to look up.

 

Two weeks passed, the newspaper had actually received attention from the principal, and Taemin raised an eyebrow over his drafts as he went over them once more at home after having the man call him from lunch break and tell him he should write for a living. Nothing special, he scoffed, as he tossed the papers away and went back to poring over the schedule he'd gathered he had.

 

Intensive staring out the window had lead him to

 

weekdays

 

6.00 a.m. Throws trash

6.15 a.m. Comes back

6.30 a.m. Finishes breakfast, leaves for college.

8.00 p.m. Comes back

 

weekends

 

8.00 a.m. Throws trash

8.15 a.m. Comes back

8.30 a.m. Leaves for someplace with satchel

12.30 p.m. comes back

 

Taemin frowned at the wrinkled schedule paper on his bed. Did he ever go out? What did he do in his house? Obviously he wasn't a minor if he was in college. He could go clubbing or something but he'd never seen him leave. And he was sure that he didn't leave because the lady with the pots who lived next to him had a lamp over her building's door and everyday at 7 in the evening she came out to put it on and then went back inside.

 

Taemin sat back on the floor with a sigh.

 

___

 

 

"Calvin Klein," Kibum announced the next day when school was over, handing him a bunch of keys as he dug in his backpack for something. Probably hand cream, Taemin rolled his eyes, amusedly, throwing the keys up in the air and catching them.

 

"Stop that. It's noisy," Kibum muttered, as he finally extracted a tube of lavender scented moisturizer.

 

"Kibum," Taemin stated, evenly, as he stopped throwing the keys. "You're very gay."

 

"Well, thanks for that, I was wondering how to come out to you."

 

Taemin grinned. "Remember when you thought I'd scream and run after you with a knife and - "

 

"That never happened," Kibum cut him off flatly, but he couldn't help grinning too when Taemin looped an arm around hi shoulder as they walked towards the school gates. "Ah, the days of little fifteen year old Kim Kibum, so naive and sca - "

 

"I will slap you."

 

Taemin stopped talking, He started again five minutes later.

 

"So. Car keys," he prodded, voice carefully neutral when they reached the parking lot across the street.

 

Kibum grunted.

 

"Whose?"

 

Kibum shrugged. Taemin was about to take his arm away but Kibum pouted. "No, no. Keep it there." And he put an arm around Taemin's waist to drag him closer. Taemin smiled at his shoes.

 

"Jessica's," the elder said, finally.

 

Taemin gave an audible, theatrical gasp. "Did you flirt?"

"No no, I got in her good books."

 

"So you made out."

 

"Taemin."

 

"I am a curious child, hyung."

 

"You were never a child. You always had a scheming mind and dirty ideas," Kibum grumbled, snatching the car keys from him and unlocking the small Toyota.

 

Taemin couldn't exactly disagree so he kept quiet.

 

 

 

 

"You really like purple shirts," Taemin realized, dazedly, as he faithfully followed Kibum around the store, the amount of shirts, all ranging from lilac to indigo, draped on his arm steadily increasing.

 

"I love purple. It's my favorite color right after pink," Kibum said with fervor, finally going through a rack of jeans instead. "What do you think?" he asked, putting a pair up to his hip. "Girly? No girly? Attractive? Disaster?"

 

Taemin wrinkled his nose. "No girly," he pondered. "But not really attractive. It's kind of plain. I get that you like those tight things with hip pockets, Bummie, but - "

 

"What?"

 

"What?"

 

"You called me Bummie."

 

"Oh, right, uh - "

 

"Don't call me that again."

 

"Why?"

 

"Don't."

 

"Okay. So, uh, yeah, these jeans. Not really - "

 

"Yeah, yeah, great."

 

 

 

 

"Kibum can I sleep."

"Kibum can I drop dead."

"Kibum my legs."

"My legs are gone."

"Hyung."

"Bummie." Taemin was talking to himself now, so tired he didn't even know where Kibum was, just drowsily pulling his legs around.

 

"Oh God!" Taemin gave a strangled scream and ran behind a rack, crouching down to peer behind long sleeves of wool - Never going to wear sweaters again, he swore - heart racing as he saw a pair of legs walk in. He saw brown jeans, the ends of a black jacket and white converse all- star shoes. He rejoiced silently over how his unnamed crush obviously had good taste in shoes. The jeans looked slightly worn but those legs would look good in garbage bags.

 

"Can I help you?"

 

Taemin started, head shooting up. The sleeves got in the way and slipped into his mouth. He blanched. The salesman eyed him strangely as he flailed.
I'm dying and you're just going to watch me,
Taemin thought, bitterly, as he pulled the sleeves out and got up, Kibum's shirts still somehow on his arm.

 

"Sir, if you need a seat - "

"
Taemin
! Where are you, I'm - "

"Bye," Taemin smiled fiercely at the man in front of him and made his way to the counter as inconspicuously as possible.

 

"Kibum," he whispered, in choked tones, "Someone I like is in the store."

 

"Get feisty with 'em," his friend didn't bat an eyelash, counting out bills from his wallet. Taemin seriously thought about it for a moment before he reminded himself of the gravity of his situation. "Hyung."

 

"Okay, okay," Kibum sighed, grabbing the bags the cashier held out and pulling Taemin out.

 

 

 

 

"Boy or girl." It wasn't even a question.

 

"I don't know," Taemin mumbled miserably, staring at his hands as Kibum angrily honked at the swerving car in front of them. Silence ensued for a minute.

 

"Taemin," Kibum tapped his knee as the signal light switched to red. "I asked if it was a boy or a girl and you just said you didn't know."

 

Taemin raised his head, blearily.

"What?"

 

Kibum sighed. "Go to sleep, baby."

Taemin did.

 

When he woke up on his bed, sneakers pulled off but otherwise fully dressed, his neck ached.

 

"Cute guys," he rasped. "Really suck."

 

His phone promptly buzzed in his pocket. He pulled it out, screwing his eyes against the bright light from the screen.

 

Locked door n pushed key under. eat wen u get up. ~ <3 ur awesome hyung.

 

Taemin laughed, and stretched, tumbling off the bed to brush the sleepy breath off.

 

 

Taemin liked living for the moment, but his writing side like to plan. Trying to think of a way to meet his 'one true love' as Kibum liked to title the unassuming brunette, therefore, was a slightly difficult task because of his internal wars.

 

Taemin had tried bumping into Jinki accidentally on purpose quite a few times over the past few weeks, but it hadn't worked. He'd either chickened out as soon as he saw him - like he'd just did earlier in the afternoon, or hadn't seen him at all. Learning just his schedule obviously wasn't enough. After an attempt to talk to his older brothers Minho and Taesun about getting to know someone casually (Taemin shook his head disapprovingly as they both ignored him for Halo 3) failed, and a restless night under needlessly thick covers, he'd finally realized the only way to meet him again would be to either live at the cafe or try to meet up candidly downstairs.

 

He tried to think of how to do it without seeming out of place as he did his homework

 

"The thing is," Taemin had debated aloud, excitedly, sitting upright in his bed at four in the four morning. "Is what story do I make up to meet him? What plot do I have? What - " then he stopped himself. "This isn't a story," he continued in a calmer voice. "I'll just hang around and ask what's up."

Then he ambled to the couch and fell asleep.

 

 

"Yah, aegi, it's your hyung, respect me and answer the call," Kibum's voice rang out , and Taemin groped for the phone under the cushion he was sleeping on. His thumb pressed Answer and he blearily raised it to his ear. "Mm?"

 

"The ringtone I set for me, did it work?"

 

"Like a charm," Taemin mumbled, trying not to taste his sleepy morning breath.

 

"Can you come over after my chemistry class is over?"

 

"It's Saturday already?"

 

"Yeah."

 

"I don't know."

 

"Well, you
do
know you haven't told me - " Kibum's voice took over a familiar tone.

"It's a
boy,
hyung. Can we stop talking about my problem as if I'm expecting a baby?" he sighed, rolling over, falling face first on the floor with a yowl.

 

"Taeminnie?"

 

"Nose hurts," he yelled at the phone, eyes watering in pain. He heard an annoyed huff and the call dropped. Taemin flicked the phone under under the sofa in irritation.

 

"I need surgery," he sighed as he shifted a bit to gaze sadly at the ceiling, sleepy brain still jumbled with thoughts of permutation and converse shoes. He would have stayed there, in that awkward position, had his eyes not wandered towards the clock.
8.25.
the arms showed, second hand ticking around quickly. He pushed himself up on his elbows, head still feeling heavy, before getting onto his feet with determination.

 

Washing his face didn't do anything to make him feel better. Brushing his teeth didn't make him feel better. Changing into his jeans and T-shirt didn't either. "Nothing's going to make me feel better," Taemin whined as he shuffled out the door and locked it.

 

He blinked at the bright chandelier lights already on in the lobby when he descended the stairs. His tired mind ran through possible scenarios. He seriously considered falling into Jinki's arms like a girl and passing out after smiling at him, but then he realized that'd make him seem pathetic, so no.

 

He'd reached the front step of the building by the time, so he shrugged and decided to wait a little behind the door, and say hello when it opened, pretending he'd already been walking.

 

So he waited.

His legs got tired so he sat down and drew his knees to his chin. He'd get up in a jiffy if anything happened, he swore to himself.

 

 

"Are you homeless?" a voice asked, concernedly.

Shit, his brain screeched, and his eyes flew open. Wait, what? No, he didn't He didn't fall asleep.

 

"Hello," he croaked, and then groaned. He tried telling his brain that all was lost, but it didn't work. He was dragged to his feet by some inner force, found himself saying, "I'm Taemin," found himself waiting for a reply.

 

"Oh."

 

There was an awkward silence, and Taemin kept his eyes shut because he was really tired and the plan was screwed anyway.

 

"Uh, I'm Jinki. Nice to meet you."

 

Taemin was in shock. This boy, this man, this object of Taemin's desire and affections and admiration (from afar, admittedly, but still) had a name. Holy crap, he'd forgotten about that.

 

"Really?"

 

Taemin's eyelids pushed upwards, vision clearing slowly as his pupils adjusted to the sunlight, and he could see the other's face. It was closer to his own than he expected, perfect and worried and confused. "Um, yes, really. Did someone say my name wasn't Jinki?"

 

"No no no."

 

Taemin couldn't quite get over the fact that this - this Jinki - was in kissing distance. He could ruffle his hair, even, could go up on tiptoe and count his eyelashes - wait, why was Jinki shaking him?

 

"Hello? Are you alright, Taemin?"

 

Oh, he thought he was insane.

 

"Yeah," he mumbled, finally. "Just, you know. Sleepy."

 

"Do you have a place to sleep?"

 

"Yeah," Taemin said, again.

 

"Did you get kicked out?" Jinki sounded sad. And his eyes had widened a little and turned down at the sides.

 

"No," Taemin couldn't stand having Jinki sad. "I just, felt like, you know... sleeping on the pavement."

 

"Oh."

 

Taemin nodded, his brain suddenly realizing it should be embarrassed. "It's for a project," he added, mentally kicking himself. A cat walking by stopped to look at him, as if to ask him if there was a limit to how dumb he could make himself look. "I wanted to gain actual experience to make my writing seem, you know - "

 

"Convincing." So he bought it?

 

"That's very dedicated," Jinki seemed cheerful, now. Apparently he was all for education and grades and going to crazy lengths to gain them.

 

Taemin grinned at his shoes. "I suppose."

 

There was some comfortable silence for a minute, as they stood in front of each other, nodding vaguely as if actually talking.

 

"I remember you," Taemin finally stated, cautiously.

 

Jinki smiled, a thousand watts of earnest brilliance attacking his lungs, taking his breath away. "I remember you, too. Seya Cafe, you asked for two cappuccinos. I tried to be all impressive and talked - "

 

"You tried to impress me?" Taemin's eyes widened and Jinki ducked his head.

 

"You're, uh, really pretty, you know."

 

Taemin positively glowed. He glowed so hard he didn't notice another silence stretching on for quite a while. "Well, you succeeded, you know," he finally commented, carefully casual.

 

"I what?" Jinki's head snapped back up. His neck cricked. They both flinched.

 

"You were impressive."

 

"Really?" Jinki sounded incredulous. "Hardly anyone cares for what I say," he blurted, as if in explanation of his reaction. "So, you know, it's just surprising."

 

Taemin felt a sudden urge to hug him, so he reached out and patted his shoulder instead. "You're cool," he shrugged, then felt his ears turn pink at the bluntness of his statement.

 

"Thanks," and Taemin was exposed to that - that smiley smiley again.

 

"So, uh, what's up?" Taemin's eyebrows shot down at the lameness of everything that left his mouth that day.

 

Jinki chuckled, stuffing his hands in his pockets. "Um, I came back from throwing the trash at the big dumpster, and now I have to leave for high school tuitions in a couple of minutes, I think I'm already ten minutes late."

 

"It's past eight thirty already?" Taemin mused. "You should have left then, you know. So wait, that means I only slept - " oops.

 

"You know I leave at eight thirty?" Jinki sounded amused.

 

"Of course not!" Taemin hurried to supply. "How could I know? I don't stalk people or anything. It's just, uh, you know - " Taemin searched frantically up at the windows of the apartment building to his left, praying for a story to - Kibum. "My friend, he attends tuition classes for chemistry. They start at eight thirty in the morning, so, I just..."

 

"What's his name?" the other was curious, now.

 

"Uh, Kibum." Please don't know Kibum, please don't.

 

"I've heard of him." Oh, the hesitance in his words.

 

"Just heard?"

 

"Yes, not exactly met the fellow."

 

Taemin breathed. "Well, then. I suppose I'll get going. Since, tuitions. And stuff."

 

"Alright..."

 

Was he really unwilling to leave or was Taemin imagining it?

"Come over sometime!" Jinki called as Taemin stepped away. He threw him a smile over his shoulder. "Sure."

___

 

"Gay," was the first word Kibum spoke when he opened his front door to find Taemin standing on the porch.

 

"Look who's talking," Taemin brushed past him into the living room. "Morning, Mrs. Kim!" he called out.

 

"Morning sweetcakes!" came a faint reply from upstairs. Taemin grinned in triumph. "Bet she never calls you sweetcakes."

 

"Bet she never calls you a demon child," Kibum retorted, locking the door.

 

"Hey, try to open those feline eyes of yours and see who cares more about the grades than hitting on the teacher in chemistry. There's a reason behind everything."

 

"You suck."

 

"Aw I'm sorry, bro," Taemin simpered as they walked to Kibum's room.

 

"Speaking of bros," his friend grinned, and stared at him very obviously as he plopped himself down on the bed.

 

Taemin was about to burst. "His name's Jinki, okay. Isn't that cute?"

 

"Uh."

 

"Kibum."

 

"It makes me think of licorice."

 

"I bet he's tasty," Taemin sighed, dreamily, then froze, hand still fidgeting with the tangled controller wires.

 

"Sure," was the drawled comment that Kibum deigned to grace him with.

 

"It just came out, Kibum, I didn't realize the underlying tones, or the seriousness of what I said, or - "

 

"You always get eloquent when you want to correct your wrong doings," Kibum observed, and Taemin scowled.

 

___

 

 

"Hello," someone said, pleasantly, and Taemin looked up lazily, hand still writing the next few words of the sentence he'd thought out.

 

"Good afternoon," he replied, cheerfully, and bent his head down again - wait.

 

"Mind if I sit here?"

 

Of course I would, I stink of sweat right now, it's a hot day and I'm writing romantic crap with your name doodled across the top of my page, if you sit down I will die.

 

"Nah, I'll be going in some minutes, anyway," Taemin replied, quietly turning back a page, hand shaking.

 

He tensed up as Jinki sat next to him, back snapping straight and shoulders levelling, cursing inwardly and hoping he didn't notice. Jinki didn't say anything, just crossed his legs and leaned his head back on the back of the bench. "Nice day," he commented, quietly, and it sounded so soft, so sweet and sleepy.

 

Taemin nodded, then stopped mid-nod and agreed verbally. Jinki couldn't see him with his eyes closed.

 

"How did the project go?" he asked after a while, and Taemin made a great show of sighing. "It got canceled in the end."

 

"Oh," Jinki sounded a little disappointed.

 

"Mhm," Taemin kicked at the leg on his side of the bench, idly.

 

Jinki blinked his eyes open at the patch of dandelions at their feet. "So I guess you write, huh?"

 

Taemin shrugged. "I don't know, really. I just like doing it. It feels pretentious, though, every once in a while. If you somehow get it in your head to compare my scribbles with people's stuff that's gotten published - mine just seems sad. But putting things down..." Taemin trailed off, staring hard at the dandelions, too.

 

"I'm sure you're really good, though. People who write well are usually the only ones who write voluntarily in the first place," Jinki said, earnestly, patting his hand. It curled into a fist immediately. Jinki's eyes widened. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to - "

 

"It's alright," Taemin cut him off. "I was just - surprised."

 

"Tell me a story," Jinki said, abruptly, after they'd gazed at the clouds for a while.

 

"What kind?"

 

Jinki grinned and shifted a bit, drawing his legs up and sitting cross-legged on the bench. "A fairytale, please."

 

Taemin chuckled. "And you're a university student?"

 

"My heart is still a child's," Jinki pouted, bumping his nose against Taemin's cheek, speaking in a ridiculously high-pitched voice, and Taemin laughed uncontrollably.

 

Jinki leaned back and grinned, pleased with himself.

"Well," Taemin started, thoughtfully. "Once upon a time..."

 

___

 

"You told him a fairytale?"

 

"Yup. He said it was pretty good and then he fell asleep on my lap midsentence while telling me about his presentation," Taemin puffed out his chest, proudly.

 

"And I thought you were going to get it on," Kibum groaned into his hands. "Sometimes I really don't know you."

 

"You don't," the other agreed, patting his back sympathetically.

 

"Tell me you at least didn't put any morals in."

 

"It wouldn't be a fairytale without any morals!" Taemin was scandalized.

 

"Oh, God."

 

"He loves morals," Taemin intoned.

 

"Of course He would! He made them, didn't He?"

 

Taemin frowned, confused.

 

___

 

The SAT had gone well, but that ball in his stomach hadn't really loosened. Three hours of being locked in a huge room with almost two hundred other people his age, five invigilators floating across the aisles, peering over shoulders made him so nervous.

 

The first breath of fresh air piercing his lungs didn't calm him. His brain had shut off (it did that a lot); on autopilot, he couldn't really sense anything.

 

He did, however, realize that he was knocking on the yellow door on the right side of the alley instead of pushing open the glass gate on the left.

 

Jinki's muffled, "Coming!" woke him up from his stupor. Six months of being friends and he still felt like leaving Jinki to himself, afraid he'd just be irritating the elder. He should've just gone, honestly, he was -

 

"Hey Minnie," Jinki smiled, tugging at the bottom of his shirt. Taemin tried not to stare. Jinki always preferred big, lose T-shirts or hoodies, but today...

 

Taemin tore his eyes away from Jinki's arms, and shuffled in, attempting to not feast his eyes on Jinki's legs in those tight jeans but damn.

 

"SAT today, right?" Jinki walked into his little kitchen, moving the pans around.

"Yeah." Taemin smelled French toast. His stomach growled. "I heard that," Jinki laughed, and Taemin smiled as he let his bag drop on the floor, settling down on the Ottoman. "
I bought this because, well, I thought you'd like relaxing in it whenever you're over
," Jinki had said shyly, last week. Taemin recalled the slight touch of fearful vulnerability in Jinki's eyes as he'd showed it to him, and Taemin's toes scrunched up in warm glee at the memory, that Jinki had actually looked
up
at him for something, had sought his approval, that he cared what he thought.

 

"So," Jinki traipsed back in grey sock-clad feet, tray in hand. "How'd it go?"

 

Taemin eyed the French toast. "Great."

 

"Any problems?" Jinki handed him a plateful and a fork. "I didn't put syrup because I thought it'd be really sweet already," he added, rubbing his hands together anxiously.

 

Taemin took a bite, chewing thoughtfully. "It's awesome!" Jinki gave him that grin he reserved for when he felt extremely happy and proud of himself.

 

"About the problems, though, I think I screwed up on a simultaneous, and three critical reading ones. I blanked out and forgot the meaning of
incite
for crying out loud, and then I - " Taemin wasn't one to hold any thoughts in he ended up giving Jinki a minute-by-minute commentary of how when he opened the paper he got the shock of his life because he couldn't solve the first question, how on the seventh question in the third section he pulled his hair in frustration to make his mind get the answer, how the kid to his left had
clearly
picked his nose for half an hour straight - "And hyung, I wasn't even
looking
at him. He was in my
peripheral
vision but I could make out that much!" How the invigilator in the pink skirt had the most nauseating perfume ever, "I wanted to puke, hyung, the way she batted her lashes at everyone in the beginning," Taemin confided, plaintively, demonstrating as Jinki fell back on the sofa, wiggling his legs in the air with laughter.

 

Taemin stopped talking then, just looked at him, smiling, and laughing, too, because Jinki's laugh was contagious.

 

 

 

"Taemin," Jinki whispered later that evening, as they crunched on popcorn, watching The Fog with ridiculous subtitles.

 

"Hyung," Taemin whispered back, eyes glued to the screen.

 

Jinki snuck his hand over Taemin's shoulder, latching his little finger against Taemin's. Taemin buried his face in Jinki's lap. The elder bit back a grin.

 

Finally, Taemin raised his head to stare at him. Jinki didn't really know what Taemin wanted to see, so he just crinkled his eyes up a little in a secret smile.

 

"Yes," Taemin said, finally.

 

"I didn't even
ask
yet!"

 

"I knew anyway."

___

 

"So, this is your room," Jinki said, awed. Taemin nodded, shuffling in to let him step through. "It's, uh, small, okay? And I don't have much of a kitch -
hey
!"

 

Jinki had already made his way to the board next to his bed. "So this is where you organize your genius?" Jinki asked, excited. Taemin gulped as Jinki slowly rose an eyebrow.

 

"So."

 

"I can
explain
- "

 

"You don't 'stalk people or anything', huh?"

 

Taemin blanched. "You remembered - "

 

"Everything you said on seventh February this year, yes, I did. What kind of boyfriend would I be if I didn't?" Jinki grinned.

 

Taemin was slightly confused. "Wait, you - you're not mad?" He was almost immediately engulfed in a very solid, very firm, very reassuring
there
bundle of Jinki.

 

"Not at all. Just, you know. Worried about your social habits. You
do
know stalking is generally considered creepy, right?"

 

"Ignorance is a beautiful thing," Taemin grumbled, shoving him off.

 

Jinki laughed, dropping a kiss on his neck.

 

"That it is."

___

 

 

Kibum gasped, audibly. "Your
neck
?"

 

"Yep."

 

"Dude,
hit
that." He slammed on Taemin's table for emphasis.

 

"Keep it down," Jinki groaned sleepily from underneath the blankets.