Yesung always wore headphones so he could drown out the rest of the world. He just didn't want to hear it: all the gossip, all the whispering, all the speculation. The world was just filled with mindless chatter and it was all empty. He preferred to listen to music, he preferred to sing, he preferred to daydream. Strangers always thought he was weird because of his quiet and awkward nature, but it was more indifference than anything else, he chose not to care. He came to Seoul because of his dream, he wanted to attend a famous arts university and that required attending the correct high school. Yesung had to leave his family behind and they were very supportive of his dreams, so he was determined to be independent and self-sufficient. He lived alone even though he hated it, he kept up the appearances of being a model student at school, and he was club president of the choir club. Everything he did was meticulously planned out to bring him one step closer to arts school. He shut out the rest of the world so he wouldn't be distracted from the things he needed to do, but the world is unpredictable and it threw a wrench into the perfectly organized plan that was Yesung's life.
It was the first day of the fall semester. Yesung was busy singing to himself and relishing in the cool, crisp autumn air when he felt something snag his shoulder. The strap to his backpack had unraveled and all his belongings spilled out onto the ground. He hastily scooped up the scattered books and pencils before a notebook was suddenly thrust in front of his face. Yesung looked up from the ground in annoyance, a young man with large brown eyes offered the notebook with a smile. The stranger reminded Yesung of autumn itself, the way his school uniform and maroon tie complimented his gold-streaked brunette hair was similar to fallen tree leaves that colored the season with gold, copper, and red hues. Yesung was staring up at him in stunned silence with half of his books crammed into his backpack. The student made a motion pointing to his ears and Yesung realized he still had his headphones on. He removed one ear bud and straightened himself out, still not accepting the notebook in the outstretched hand.
“I was asking if this was your notebook,” the young man had a deep voice as smooth as honey and he was about half a head taller than Yesung even though he was clearly a freshman, as his maroon tie indicated.
Yesung was mortified when he recognized his own name scribbled across the notebook cover. He accepted it with a thanks and an apologetic smile.
“You're much cuter when you smile, Yesung.”
Yesung's smile flattened into a frown as he read the name tag on the student's shoulder bag, “Cho Kyuhyun-ssi, do you always speak to your elders informally?”
“My elders?” Kyuhyun scrutinized Yesung's appearance carefully, “You couldn't be more than a second year at Garam Jr. High, right?”
“More like a second year at Neul Paran High School,” Yesung spat out with annoyance, “Your upperclassman.”
Kyuhyun stared at Yesung in disbelief. The high school junior had a soft baby face with messy raven hair and an adorable pout, he didn't look a day over twelve except for the dangerous glare in his almond- shaped eyes. “I don't believe you, unless you're a genius and you skipped some years?”
Yesung turned red in the face and fumbled with the clasps of his oversized black coat and Kyuhyun thought that a flustered Yesung was the cutest thing he had ever seen. Yesung unzipped his coat revealing the same navy blazer uniform as Kyuhyun, but with a forest green tie, he was definitely a junior. There was something about Yesung's indignant manner that made Kyuhyun want to tease him.
Kyuhyun leaned in until they made eye contact and smirked, “You're cute, let's be friends.”
Yesung resisted the urge to pound his tiny fists on the taller boy's chest, “You are the rudest person I've ever met!”
He stomped off leaving a bewildered Kyuhyun staring at his back.
Yesung was seething by the time he reached the school grounds. He yanked his locker door open and just shoved all of his belongings in unceremoniously rather than arrange things neatly. His best friend sidled up to him with a bemused smile.
“What's gotten under your skin today?”
“Some jackass thought I was a junior high student,” Yesung pouted.
Sungmin laughed and smacked Yesung on the back, “I told you that oversized jacket combined with your baby face makes you look like a kindergartener.”
Yesung shot him a look full of daggers, “Your pink jacket and puffy cheeks makes you look even younger than me!”
Sungmin shrugged, “So we're the same age, whether people believe we're 16 or 6 years old, at least we'll always have each other.”
Yesung resisted laughing, but the corners of his lips began to quirk up in a smile. He flung his jacket into his locker and three envelopes came fluttering down from the top shelf, he sighed. “How many did you get today?”
Sungmin fanned three perfumed envelopes in between his fingers, “The same.”
“Don't they ever get tired of playing these games?”
“You should feel flattered, the first day of the semester and girls are already pining over you.”
“I guess three love letters are mild, what's frightening was the last day before summer break,” Yesung shivered at the memory.
“What are you complaining about? I got buried in a mountain of candy because some crazy rumor spread that I liked lollipops.”
“But you do like lollipops.”
“Those things weighed a ton! I got bruises! I nearly lost an eye!”
“Look, a mountain of letters is no safer, I had paper cuts everywhere. Nearly scratched a cornea.”
The two friends side-eyed each other and started laughing.
“Aren't you going to say yes to anyone this year?”
“And ruin my image as a cold prince?” Yesung shook his head, “I don't have the time to waste on dating.”
Sungmin snorted, “But you do get bored and lonely easily.”
Yesung ignored the last comment, “How many are you going to say yes to this year?”
“About one a week? Until it's competition season,” Sungmin shrugged. Girls were great as long as they didn't get in the way of his martial arts team.
It was Yesung's turn to snort. “You're such a playboy.”
“Well, I do have an image to maintain and it's not like it hurts more than getting flat out rejected by you. At least I'm making an honest attempt to find love.”
“Honest? Lee Sungmin, don't you ever get nightmares about being chased down with knives by the hundreds of girls that have been dumped by you?”
Sungmin flashed puppy dog eyes at his best friend, “Why would anyone ever want to do that?”
“Gehhh, don't look at me like that! Those eyes of yours should be considered illegal weapons!” Yesung smacked Sungmin on the head. The young man's bottom lip began to quiver, “And don't waste the waterworks on me, I know you are a heartless fox.”
“Ah, Yesung-oppa, how could you ever doubt my love for you?” Sungmin whined with a high-pitched voice earning squeals from the female students in the hallway.
Yesung was about to smack Sungmin playfully again, but he was suddenly hit by something very solid, or rather it was someone very solid. Yesung stumbled backwards a few steps before large hands grasped his shoulders.
“Sorry! I wasn't paying attention to where I was going,” a familiar voice said. “I was looking for the chemistry lab.”
Yesung looked up in surprise, it was the freshman he met that morning, “Kyuhyun-ssi, all first year classes would be on the first floor, not the second.”
Kyuhyun smiled mischievously, “Ah, I assumed there would only be one lab room on campus, my mistake.”
Kyuhyun was slowly working his thumbs in soothing circles on Yesung's shoulders, there was no indication that he planned on releasing the second year student any time soon. Yesung typically didn't like being touched and Kyuhyun's ministrations were making him uncomfortable. He slapped the younger man's hands away from him.
“The first bell is about to ring,” Yesung said stiffly. “You don't want to be late.”
Sungmin studied Kyuhyun with sharp eyes before following Yesung to their homeroom. Kyuhyun remained in the hallway and watched Yesung walk away until the older boy disappeared from view.