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your eyes will lead me straight back home

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"I'm stuck on the ending. He's already gotten away from getting caught several times before. What if this time his best friend catches him?"

Kyungsoo looks up from the book he's been reading, a bit of a romance novel this time since he's trying to cut back on historical texts. He watches as Jongin continues to ramble on and on with his chin resting on his palm, elbow on the table. Jongin has this faraway look in his eyes, which tells Kyungsoo that Jongin's not really talking to him and is just talking at him. It's his way of playing with ideas.

"But if I do that, it would mean I'm taking the whole series to a new level and that would mean creating a more plot-based story where everything is connected," Jongin continues, straightening up and leaning back on the wooden backrest of the seat. He meets Kyungsoo's eyes that are watching him with amusement. It's endearing how much thought Jongin actually puts into his writing. It's more than anyone thinks.

"Isn't it about time, though?" Kyungsoo speaks up for the first time since Jongin's tirade started. They're set up in one corner of the coffee shop that they normally frequent; Jongin has his laptop open, notes at the ready, while Kyungsoo has his books with him. It's not unusual for Jongin to just suddenly start talking about his stories. "It's been two years. I think your readers would appreciate a shift in the story with the relationships of your characters."

"You think they'd care?" Jongin actually looks concerned about this. It's what makes him so successful at what he does. Jongin cares about his books, the characters and the stories, and cares about what his audience would think about them. "They're kids."

"And you think those kids don't worry whether Kai's best friend Tao would get mad at him for being an actual superhero when he's the one who studied martial arts?" Kyungsoo points out and he smiles when Jongin's eyes light up at the suggestion. Jongin grins at Kyungsoo before picking up his pen and writing down notes.

Kyungsoo takes a sip of his coffee and looks out of the window, smiling at the relaxation that the scratching sounds of Jongin's pen and paper give. There's a bit of a drizzle that day despite the sun being out. With Jongin here, it's exactly his ideal kind of day. It's been a while since he's been out with Jongin, just the two of them, hanging out and doing work. In between Jongin's deadlines and mini book signing tour, Jongin hasn't had as much free time. Kyungsoo suspects he's going to be busier because on top of The Adventures of Little Kim Kai, Jongin has been in the midst of planning a new book for an older audience.

"I think I've got it!" Jongin announces, throwing his hands up in the air and then stretching. He keeps stretching until he arches backwards, a strip of his tummy and his abs showing when his striped shirt rides up. There was a time that Kyungsoo had wondered what those abs would feel like under his palms, back when Kyungsoo was ignorant and stupid of what Jongin was really like. That ship has already sailed, though, and Kyungsoo would get more luck kissing Baekhyun (maybe, on one of his bad days) than ever have anything with Jongin. "I'm going to go with your idea," he declares, the grin on his face so big that it can split his face.

"They're all my ideas," Kyungsoo reminds him, his grin so smug that Jongin's own smile falls off his face. He cannot even count the number of times he pitched an idea during their random conversations and ended up reading it when the book came out. Kyungsoo doesn't mind. Jongin is way better at expressing the ideas onto paper than Kyungsoo can ever hope to do so. Kyungsoo can't even express feelings so, really, he doesn't care. But the way Jongin is now fidgeting in his seat and playing with his fingers like he's just been scolded is enough for Kyungsoo to sigh and grumble his guilt. "I'm joking," he assures him, pushing his remaining coffee across the table. It's so easy to make amends with Jongin because that's all it takes for the corners of his mouth to curl back up again.

"I have to get going," Jongin says, closing his laptop and packing his stuff back into the black bag he carries around everywhere when he's on a mission to write. "I'm meeting Sehun and Zitao for a quick game before I become dead to the world for several days." When Jongin is on a deadline, he disappears from the world, so much so that not even Kyungsoo knows where he is sometimes. He doesn't even write in their apartment, saying that Kyungsoo can be a distraction with all his nagging. As if Kyungsoo telling him to eat is a bad thing.

"By game, I take it you're going to play video games," Kyungsoo clarifies, unable to keep the disdain from his tone. "Why don't you just continue writing here? I'll leave you alone." He makes to close his book and get up, but Jongin links his ankle with Kyungsoo's to stop him.

"Don't be like that," Jongin mutters. He's not frowning, but Kyungsoo can hear the frown in his voice. There are many things that Jongin doesn't like, which covers a wide variety of subjects, but one of them is feeling like he's making Kyungsoo disappointed or sad. Kyungsoo isn't sure what Jongin is talking about when he gets like this because Jongin has never disappointed him or made him sad. Although, Jongin and Kyungsoo both know that Kyungsoo prefers it when Jongin is around. He's like a bad and annoying habit that Kyungsoo's gotten used to. Maybe Jongin is referring to that. "And video games are games, which is why they're called video games," he says defensively.

"Fine," Kyungsoo kind of huffs because he doesn't want to get into a discussion on how Jongin's lifestyle is going to kill him someday. The combination of junk food and sitting around isn't exactly a healthy one and Kyungsoo is too relaxed at the moment to get worked up. Besides, it's not like these arguments actually make Jongin eat healthy and exercise. "You should get going," he goes on. "They're probably waiting for you. Zitao's probably whining as we speak."

Jongin chuckles as he picks up his writing bag, which contains his laptop and notes, as well as slings his backpack over his shoulder. The backpack is a reminder that Jongin isn't going to come home for several days and that Kyungsoo is going to be fretting whether Jongin is eating properly. Kyungsoo leans back on his seat and looks up as Jongin bends down to press a light kiss on the crown of his head. Jongin only ever does this when he's going to disappear and when he's telling Kyungsoo not to worry about him; right now, the reason is both.

"You better be alive in five days," Kyungsoo tells him, looking back down at his book, now opened again on his lap. He doesn't like watching people walk away.

"I'll be ready to eat your delicious cooking in five days," Jongin promises with laughter.

After a while, Jongin's footsteps, his presence, is gone and Kyungsoo closes his book to look out of the window. Fall has got to be the saddest and loneliest season. It's basically a season that says 'goodbye happy days' and 'hello freezing misery' and it's really the worst time for Jongin to disappear. Jongin probably remembers, or maybe he forgot. Even so, Jongin has priorities and has a life outside of making Kyungsoo feel better and safe. Kyungsoo also doesn't want to be selfish—isn't usually selfish—but when autumn comes around, it's when he most wants to be. It's the worst season to feel left behind.

 

 

 

There are many reasons why Kyungsoo chose to work in a library. Aside from being a wide and voracious reader and loving the smell of books, he also figured that being in a library would be enough reason for Baekhyun to not hound him and nag at him like what he is currently doing. Baekhyun is perched on the librarian's desk, even though there is a teenager checking some books out, and chattering away about the Great Wall of China and some Chinese guy.

"Ignore him," Kyungsoo practically growls at the teenager when he opens his mouth to comment about how scandalous Baekhyun is being. "He's not himself. Brain problem."

"Your brain would explode, too, if very pink lips wrapped themselves around you and sucked your co—" Baekhyun gets cut off with Kyungsoo accidentally throwing a book at the back of his head. "Hey!" Baekhyun whines, pushing himself off the desk and rubbing the back of his head. There's a very definite frown on his uneven lips and Kyungsoo just wants to slap some packing tape over it to get him to stop speaking ever again. The teenager snickers and Baekhyun snaps his steely gaze towards him, making the teen zip his lips and hurry out of the library with his books in his arms.

"You should stop terrorizing the kids," Kyungsoo mutters, fixing the papers that Baekhyun's ass has messed up. "In fact, I think it would be good for everyone if you didn't come here at all." He smiles his good-natured smile at Baekhyun, who just rolls his eyes and sits right back on the desk.

"I know you want me here, Soosoo," Baekhyun says in a singsong voice and Kyungsoo would strap him down and staple his mouth if he could, except his next words make him swallow down his retort. "The leaves are starting to fall again," he says this while looking out of the nearest window where they could see several orange-ing trees lined up.

"Hmm," is all Kyungsoo ends up saying because as much as he hates Baekhyun, Baekhyun does know him almost as much as Jongin does. He wouldn't even think of keeping him around if he wasn't at all useful to him.

"As I was saying," Baekhyun continues like he hasn't been cut off. "This cute Chinese guy is very cute and very nice and sweet. He has a house in Beijing and he's saying we could stay there if we go." He looks at his fingernails and makes a face when he sees that he needs to have it manicured again. "That's very convenient, don't you think? I didn't even have to sleep with the guy before he offered. I was that charming. And we've only just met." He grins like the big shot that he thinks he is.

"I don't want to go to Beijing," Kyungsoo tells him, hoping that he gets his point across. With Baekhyun though, he never usually does because Baekhyun can be a dumb shit at times.

"Well then, we'll just have to go somewhere else," Baekhyun says, not even sounding a little put off. "We can go to Shanghai or something. That's a good place too."

"I don't want to go to China or anywhere else for that matter," Kyungsoo tells him with a sigh. The notion of traveling, while appealing, doesn't really excite Kyungsoo. He's very much content in staying where he is and doing what he's always done. "You know I don't want to get on an airplane and travel. You and Jongin can go by yourselves."

"Oh Soo," Baekhyun says, a pout on his lips, which always spells trouble. He reaches out and pats Kyungsoo's hand, which is close to the stapler. If Kyungsoo moved his hand a bit, he could get to it in time and he could staple Baekhyun's mouth before he can get another word out. Alas, he's too late. "You have to get over that some time. It's been years and you can't just—"

"I'm busy," Kyungsoo interrupts him and looks up when he hears footsteps approaching. "Go bug Joonmyun instead. I have work to do." He's going to have a talk with Jongin about him and Baekhyun discussing travel plans behind his back.

Baekhyun hops off the desk, smiling his most winning smile, the one that has all his teeth, canines included, showing and has his eyes curled up into half moons. It's what Baekhyun calls his cute but seductive smile, to which Kyungsoo just says he looks like a kid who wants his candy. It seems to work on Joonmyun, though, because whatever stern thing he'd been about to say dies in his throat, clearing it instead. Kyungsoo shakes his head and grabs the stack of books that have been waiting to be shelved. Hopeless, he thinks, he knows too many hopeless people. Good thing he's not as hopeless as them. With that boost to his ego, he leaves Joonmyun sputtering helplessly when Baekhyun slides a hand up his arm.

 

 

 

"What are you doing?"

Kyungsoo presses too hard and squeezes out too much vanilla icing than he intended to. He puts the icing bag down and pouts at his slightly ruined vanilla cake. He'd been at it for hours, carefully making sure that he's doing everything perfectly, step by step. He has been doing really well too. Until now anyway. Kyungsoo glares at the hunkering intruder in his kitchen as he takes a spoon and tries to scoop off the excess icing on one side of the cake.

"What are you doing here, Chanyeol?" Kyungsoo asks, trying very hard not to sound upset. He's quite busy and he doesn't like being interrupted when he's working, especially when it entails food.

"Can I not visit my friend?" Chanyeol answers with a flourish. He throws his arms out, knocking off the bottle of sprinkles off the counter, and grins, even though Kyungsoo is looking at him like he's going to eat him. Or throw the cake at his face. Kyungsoo suspects Chanyeol will even welcome the latter. "What are you baking?" he asks, leaning on the edge of the counter and dipping his elbow into the extra batter by accident. "Sorry," he mutters and looks for a napkin to wipe his elbow off.

"A cake," Kyungsoo sighs in exasperation, proceeding to dump the elbowed batter into the sink despite Chanyeol's protests that his elbow is not dirty. "Which I was planning to give to you," Chanyeol visibly brightens up at this, "to give to Jongin," Kyungsoo finishes and Chanyeol deflates. "But now, seeing as it's ruined, you might as well have it."

"You're lucky I'm so used to being second best to Jongin," Chanyeol responds with a grin as Kyungsoo puts the cake in a box, not bothering to decorate the top part of the cake like he was planning to.

Kyungsoo isn't being mean to Chanyeol. He's just gotten tired of baking. It's his second cake of the day, after making two batches of cupcakes. He tends to... get overexcited about baking when he's making an effort to not think too much. Usually Jongin is around to get his mind off things, but he can't always rely on Jongin for that.

"You can take this with you, too," Kyungsoo tells Chanyeol as he pushes one box of cupcakes towards him. Maybe he'll give the rest to Baekhyun, who will probably pretend he baked them himself and give them to Joonmyun. Baekhyun can be shameless like that.

"Do you have any more baking plans today?" Chanyeol teases and pointedly sits down on one of the chairs. "Because Baekhyun mentioned watching a movie and having dinner. We can go hang out with him and that guy he's been stalking." He wiggles his eyebrows up and down and Kyungsoo just knows what he's doing.

"I'd really rather not go another day of seeing Baekhyun turn his charms on for Joonmyun and another day of Joonmyun half-heartedly resisting it," Kyungsoo mutters. He really has enough of that everyday, seeing as Baekhyun practically works at the library with the amount of time he spends there. Sometimes he wonders if Baekhyun's job as a hotel manager still stands when he's away so often. "But really," he leans on the counter, "what are you doing here? Shouldn't you be with Jongin?"

"You know how Jongin is," Chanyeol coughs, flapping around like an idiot as he scrambles to drink the glass of water on the counter. The red patches on his cheeks and the tight grip he has on the glass is a tell-tale sign that he's lying and trying to skirt the issue but Kyungsoo lets it go.

"I do," Kyungsoo agrees and pushes the sweet treats towards Chanyeol. "And he's probably going insane without his editor at his beck and call."

"I am never at his beck and call," Chanyeol huffs, puffing his chest out as he takes the boxes of baked goods. "I am my own man and no one, not even Kim Jongin, with his distracting laughter and eye smiles can order me."

Kyungsoo has his chin rested on his palm, elbow steady on the counter. "Really," he responds, tone only slightly dry in an effort to indulge Chanyeol in his delusions. "So when Jongin told you to go check on me or else he isn't going to submit a draft, you immediately got up and drove to see me, right?"

"Right," Chanyeol agrees before his eyes widen and he shakes his head. "Of course not!" he takes it back, brows furrowed, lower lip jutting out. His knuckles are white from where he's holding the edges of the boxes too tight and Kyungsoo decides to let it go.

"Fine," Kyungsoo sighs, shrugging as he straightens up and heads to the living room and to the door. "Just tell him I'm fine and that I'll see him in a couple of days."

"You really can't wait to get rid of me, can you?" Chanyeol says and Kyungsoo kind of wants to reach up and ruffle Chanyeol's hair with how confused and disappointed he sounds. If only he could reach properly. And if only he was that caring.

"Just hurry back to Jongin because he needs his editor," Kyungsoo tells him, managing not to roll his eyes with success. Chanyeol seems so starved with affection sometimes that he always seeks for approval and attention. "And tell him to stop sending his minions over because I'm fine."

Chanyeol looks affronted about being called Jongin's minion, but doesn't really comment on it. Instead, he wraps an arm around Kyungsoo's neck, careful to balance the boxes on his other arm, and squeezes him. He and Chanyeol hadn't really been close until he'd been assigned to become Jongin's editor. Before then, Kyungsoo knew Chanyeol as someone whom Baekhyun briefly dated. It was a somewhat turbulent relationship, what with Baekhyun getting upset with Chanyeol because Chanyeol is too nice and Chanyeol trying to overcompensate by trying to be bad. This, of course, just upsets Baekhyun even more because it proves his point that Chanyeol is too nice.

"He worries about you," is what Chanyeol says when he's at the door. He looks ridiculous with his arms full of the two boxes, but there's a look on his face that Kyungsoo is uncomfortable with. "He worries about you a lot, actually," he clarifies. "Like there are days when he's supposed to be busy writing but then he never stops talking about you and I wonder..." He bites his lip and furrows his brows like the next few words he's thinking of saying bothers him.

"You should stop thinking too much," Kyungsoo says, interrupting his thoughts because he'd really rather not know what goes on in Chanyeol's head. That, and there are things he'd rather not delve into with someone who wouldn't want to hear it. "You guys don't need to worry about me," he insists. "I'm fine. I'll be alive when he gets back."

The apartment becomes too quiet when Chanyeol leaves. Kyungsoo is used to the quiet because Jongin doesn't really talk much or even make much noise. Sometimes Jongin lounges on the living room and watches TV or plays videos games, but even then, Jongin is quiet. But Jongin's quiet is the kind that fills spaces and makes Kyungsoo feel full and not alone. Meanwhile, Chanyeol walks into a room and explodes in it with his contagious (or annoying) brand of happiness and loudness that when he leaves, you just notice the difference. Kyungsoo doesn't like that difference.

There's a person he always thinks of calling at times like this. Kyungsoo sits in the middle of the sofa and looks at his phone lying on the living room table. He only has a couple of numbers saved in it, mostly comprising the few people that he tolerates to be his friend, and he texts and calls them from time to time. But there's a number he hasn't called for a couple of months now.

Seungsoo lives in Incheon now, as he has been for close to two years. It didn't seem like a hard decision for him to move out of their home and leave Seoul. He has his pretty wife there and a kid who is loud and boisterous but cute. There is no reason for Seungsoo to come back to Seoul. Kyungsoo isn't even sure if he's been back since he left. They haven't talked in that long and Kyungsoo wonders for a second if it's time that he call his older brother and ask him how he's doing. But then again, so much time has passed that Kyungsoo doesn't know what they would end up talking about anymore. So many things have changed. Seungsoo might not even want to talk to him. He took what happened harder than Kyungsoo and if Kyungsoo called him, it might elicit some memories truly best forgotten.

Kyungsoo averts his eyes from his phone and curls up on the sofa. He lies on his side and wraps his arms around one of the throw pillows. When he closes his eyes, he remembers things from a past that seems so blurry he's almost forgotten it. There's still that dull ache in his heart and he hates that he still feels the hurt after all this time. Kyungsoo wonders if his mother would still run her fingers through his hair, whisper comforting words in his ear and make him hot cocoa to make him feel better if she saw him like this. Kyungsoo wonders about a lot of things that he knows he wouldn't get an answer to.

 

 

 

Kyungsoo wakes up encircled in a comforting embrace, with his back against a warm and sturdy chest. He blinks away the sleepiness for several seconds and looks around. Light gray walls, a closet in the corner and a simple wooden table by the window, navy blue sheets... Of course Jongin carried him to his room, even though his bed is way smaller than Kyungsoo's. Kyungsoo kept telling him to replace his single bed to a queen-sized one, but Jongin kept saying that he didn't need a bigger bed; it's just something he sleeps on and he still fits in it anyway, not minding that he's already longer than his bed.

He wiggles and snuggles back further into Jongin, who just tightens his arm around him and buries his face in Kyungsoo's hair. This is familiar and comfortable. Kyungsoo remembers all those nights back when Jongin would curl up in bed with him when he gets too tired to sleep in his own bed. It's a weird habit that Kyungsoo stopped questioning after a while because Kyungsoo's room is further into the hallway than Jongin's. It's been months since they've done this. It's almost like they were past that stage of their friendship. But Jongin never disappoints Kyungsoo when he needs him the most.

"Stop squirming," Jongin says, his voice coming out muffled as he moves his lips against the back of Kyungsoo's head. "You're waking me up."

Kyungsoo presses on Jongin's arm as a silent apology before turning in his arms to face him. Jongin's breathing is steady, his chest rising up and down with slow rhythm that signifies he's still very much in dreamland. Kyungsoo reaches up to brush Jongin's bangs away from his eyes and drops his hand to rest on Jongin's chest. Jongin is infinitely warm and like this, Kyungsoo can see without surprise how people could fall for him. Letting out a breath, he closes his eyes and tries to go back to sleep. But then Jongin shifts such that Kyungsoo is pulled closer to him, his face pressed against the crook of his neck.

"You think too much," Jongin mumbles. His lips are ghosting over Kyungsoo's forehead and Kyungsoo fights the urge to shiver.

"How do you know?" Kyungsoo grumbles, eyes opening and staring at the bobbing of Jongin's Adam's apple.

"You're doing that thing where you drum your fingers on any available surface," Jongin says. "Stop tapping my chest. I haven't been asleep for very long."

Kyungsoo's hand freezes and closes it into a fist. Sometimes he hates how Jongin knows him too well. He sighs and squeezes his eyes shut, burying his face in Jongin's chest, crushing his hand in between them so he wouldn't start tapping. "What are you doing here, anyway?" he mutters. It hasn't escaped him that Jongin shouldn't be home for a few more days.

"Chanyeol's apartment smells like ferrets," Jongin complains in the middle of a yawn and Kyungsoo is startled at the realization that that's where Jongin has been staying when he doesn't go home with Kyungsoo. Of course. Where else would Jongin go? Kyungsoo has known that Jongin needs Chanyeol to be close by when he's close to a deadline, but he didn't realize that Jongin would be sleeping in Chanyeol's apartment.

"I don't even want to know what a ferret smells like," Kyungsoo responds. Jongin's embrace is getting too tight and uncomfortable that he tries to ease out of it as gently and as quietly as he could. There's a reason they haven't cuddled like this in a long time. "I should go make breakfast."

"Baekhyun hyung is coming over to bring us some food," Jongin tells him, moving on his back as he watches Kyungsoo get up through his blurry eyes. "I specifically told him to buy and not cook," he clarifies when Kyungsoo looks at him in horror. Baekhyun has never had a good track record when it comes to cooking. He'd burned a pan in their apartment before and Kyungsoo believes that once is enough. "So just come back to bed." He stretches out his hand for Kyungsoo's.

It's very tempting. Kyungsoo knows the reason why Jongin is back in the apartment instead of shacking with Chanyeol. Jongin remembers everything even when he seems like he forgets and knows exactly what to do to make Kyungsoo feel better. He takes a step forward but then he hears the front door opening and Baekhyun yelling as he trips over the shoes (probably Jongin's) littered by the front door and decides against it. Kyungsoo takes Jongin's hand and squeezes it.

"I'll go make sure Baekhyun doesn't burn anything down," Kyungsoo tells him instead, dropping his hand. "You go get some more sleep. I'll wake you up in a bit." He watches with fondness as Jongin smiles and falls right back to slumber without protest. Jongin probably stayed up really late and went back home early in the morning just to find Kyungsoo on the couch. He's confused because he doesn't want to analyze what it means.

Baekhyun is sitting on the counter, busy texting on his mobile phone. The feral grin on his face tells Kyungsoo who it is on the other end and doesn't really comment, deciding to shove Baekhyun instead. Baekhyun fumbles with his phone and almost snaps at Kyungsoo until his phone starts quacking, signaling a new message.

"You're lucky I'm in love," Baekhyun tells Kyungsoo before replying to the message.

Kyungsoo snorts as he starts sorting out the food that Baekhyun brought over. He's not surprised to find curry ramyun, along with some soondubu jjiggae and kimbap. He takes everything out of their packaging and puts them in plates and bowls. Baekhyun's not entirely useless when it counts and that's something that Kyungsoo is grateful for.

"Where's Jongin?" Baekhyun asks, pocketing his phone after giggling at it like an idiot. He moves around the kitchen with ease, getting plates and utensils from the cupboards. He helps himself to some kimbap and a sip of soondubu jjiggae.

"He's sleeping," Kyungsoo answers after inhaling a forkful of curry ramyun. This is his ultimate comfort food and both his friends know this.

Baekhyun makes a face. "That ass woke me up early this morning to remind me to buy the food," he whines. "As if I would forget. He wouldn't shut up about it yesterday." He chokes and coughs in the middle of inhaling his soup. "I was planning to stay over last night," he continues to explain, grinning when Kyungsoo shoots him a look. There's an unspoken agreement that Baekhyun is never to stay for more than two hours in their apartment. It's Kyungsoo's life preservation thing. Baekhyun is a menace and a danger, especially when he gets bored. "Not my idea," he defends himself. "You should get mad at Jongin."

Of course it's Jongin's idea. Kyungsoo puts his spoon down and sighs as he pads back towards Jongin's bedroom. Jongin worries about him too much and while it's sweet for him to, it's not necessary. Kyungsoo is a big boy and he can take care of himself. He's been doing it for more than a year. Although he can't deny that Jongin has been present for all of that. Still, Kyungsoo can handle it.

When he walks into Jongin's room, he finds Jongin already showered and dressed up. He's moving around his room with his phone glued to his ear, grabbing his wallet and the papers scattered on his desk and stuffing them in his writing bag. Kyungsoo hears words like deadline, almost done and Chanyeol so it's not a secret what the conversation is about. Kyungsoo kind of feels bad that Jongin thinks he has to be home just for Kyungsoo.

"You should get some breakfast before you leave," Kyungsoo reminds him when the phone call is over, making Jongin jump and whirl around. He turns towards Jongin's closet and takes out a paper bag containing the clothes that he'd washed and pressed the day before just in case Jongin needs them. "You can take these with you. I put in a towel and your pajamas. I realized you'd forgotten to pack one with you."

Jongin drops his bag and wraps Kyungsoo in another one of those tight hugs. Kyungsoo can feel Jongin's breath on the side of his head, where his lips are pressed. Kyungsoo knows what this means, that Kyungsoo cares too much about Jongin, that he shouldn't care too much, that he's at that point where he can't care like this anymore. But Kyungsoo knows it also means that Jongin is grateful and that this gratefulness is something that he's not sure how to return.

"Thank you," Jongin says when he releases Kyungsoo. He grins at Kyungsoo and then he's picking up his bag and walking out of the room.

Kyungsoo tries to ignore the unspoken I'm sorry on Jongin's lips.

 

 

 

Jongin waltzes in and out of the apartment for the next few days, which surprises Kyungsoo every time, but doesn't really comment on it. He would tell Jongin not to bother if he's doing it for Kyungsoo, but Kyungsoo knows that Jongin would take offense to it so he doesn't say anything. But what's more surprising is when Kyungsoo finds Jongin in the kitchen putting food in the cupboards and in the refrigerator that he's apparently just bought. Kyungsoo has tried to ignore Jongin's extra jumpiness whenever Kyungsoo walks into a room. But this, Jongin buying food for the apartment, for them, when he hasn't done it once before, is suspicious.

"What are you doing?" Kyungsoo asks, stopping in the doorway and watching impassively at the way Jongin jumps and drops the pack of coffee. He eyes the paper bags of groceries on the counter. "Did you just go grocery shopping? Am I seeing this right?"

Jongin makes a face, aside from the guilty one he has on, and picks up the coffee before stuffing it into the wrong cabinet. "I figured I should start helping out around here," he explains. His smile is sheepish and Kyungsoo narrows his eyes. "I mean, I should start pulling my own weight." His smile widens when Kyungsoo merely raises an eyebrow in response. "Hey, I can go grocery shopping too!" he complains.

"Is this about the other day?" Kyungsoo then asks. There's a prickly feeling in his chest, the bad one, and Kyungsoo wishes it would stop. "I was doing the laundry anyway." Jongin isn't very fond of people looking after him and taking care of him, which Kyungsoo thinks is unfair, because Jongin does the same thing to Kyungsoo. "If you'd rather I didn't—"

"Soo!" Now Jongin looks offended. His brows are furrowed and he's sucking his lower lip into his mouth, probably to stop blurting out more words that he might regret. "How could you say that? Have I ever complained about anything that you did? Have you ever done anything worth complaining about?"

Now Kyungsoo feels bad. "I could have and you've just never told me about it," he points out, clasping his hands together. Jongin follows the movement, frowning even further, and Kyungsoo takes his hands to his back. "You've just never..." He gestures helplessly to the groceries scattered on the countertop and sees all the ingredients to things Jongin would never even think of buying. "I mean, what's this about? You've been really weird lately." He doesn't even want to mention Jongin doing some cleaning when he's in the apartment. "You even removed your stuff from the living room."

Jongin averts his gaze and Kyungsoo knows something really is up. He's hiding something, Kyungsoo is sure of it. But he doesn't ask. He's afraid that if he does, the answer is going to be something he'll regret hearing. And Kyungsoo really doesn't want to find another reason to dislike the fall season. So, instead, he nods and smiles and walks out of the kitchen. Jongin doesn't run after him, doesn't even call after him. Jongin knows better than to do that.

 

 

 

Baekhyun's nagging voice is still echoing in his head when Kyungsoo comes home. He'd decided to take a walk and drop by Baekhyun's work place just to get his mind off things for a bit. He and Jongin rarely disagreed about anything, much less actually escalated these disagreements into fights. Once in a while, however, one of them gets really upset and walks out. Usually it's Jongin because, while he's normally the type to hit something when he gets upset, he never shows a hint of that violence around Kyungsoo. Today, though, Kyungsoo is just moodier than usual and figures it's his turn to do the walking out.

The walking didn't really help much. Sure, it cleared his head of his moodiness, but it didn't change the fact that there's something going on with Jongin. Kyungsoo doesn't care that he knows now that he stays with Chanyeol when he has deadlines, doesn't even care that his relationship with Jongin will always be a tiny bit shady. They've always been that way and Kyungsoo knows that there's a reason for that. They're really good the way they are and pushing for more—whatever that more may be—probably isn't a good idea. Being friends for close to 10 years has done that. There's so much at risk. Even if there wasn't any, it would still be weird.

Baekhyun just laughed in his face when Kyungsoo told him about what happened. Baekhyun had told him that Jongin is pretty much an open book and if Kyungsoo doesn't understand, it's just because he thinks too much. But no matter how Kyungsoo arranges and rearranges his conversation with Jongin in his head, it just doesn't compute. What is Kyungsoo not seeing?

With a sigh, he toes off his shoes and hangs his coat on the rack and heads straight to the kitchen. If Jongin had gone through all that trouble to get groceries, Kyungsoo might as well prepare a good dinner for them. Although Kyungsoo isn't sure if Jongin is staying the night, it would be nice if they could have a nice homemade meal together before Jongin left. It has been a while, seeing as Jongin doesn't have the time to wait around for his food to be cooked and usually just gets take-out.

He passes the living room and there's a big dark gray travel backpack sitting beside the couch. There are several items on the table, a wallet and something that looks like a small satchel of some sort. It's purple and knitted and Kyungsoo looks away, not wanting to think of where Jongin had found that. There's a man who stands up at seeing him come in, but Kyungsoo is already thinking about the food he's going to prepare. He pokes through the cupboards and the cabinets, making a face at how disorganized everything is. As to be expected, Jongin doesn't really know where everything should go. It makes Kyungsoo smile, however, knowing that Jongin went through all that trouble just because he wanted to help out around the apartment.

Kyungsoo is in the middle of turning the stove on when his hand freezes on the knob. His left hand twitches as he starts drumming his fingers on the side of the stove. Jongin didn't say that he was leaving when Kyungsoo left for his walk and Jongin never leaves the apartment when they're having one of their mini arguments. It's their unspoken agreement that they shouldn't let the day end with them in a fight. Jongin normally says hi and hugs him at once after the other takes a breather. But this time, Jongin didn't do that.

"Hi," the man, who is clearly not Jongin, greets Kyungsoo when he goes back to the living room.

He's around Jongin's height. But that's where the similarities end. He looks Chinese, for one, and has slightly wavy black hair that falls to his face. His white shirt doesn't cover much of his upper body, seeing as Kyungsoo can make out the outline of his abs, much to his embarrassment. He's wearing simple fitted jeans. The contented smile on his face is a pleasant sight, but more than that, his dimples that are as deep as the Mariana Trench are so attractive.

Kyungsoo's hands ball into fists as he takes a step back. He takes another step back when the stranger lifts an arm, arm muscles rippling, and takes another step back when the stranger takes a step towards Kyungsoo. There is a man—a stranger—in their apartment, one who looks incredibly cute, but a stranger nonetheless. With a big backpack, Kyungsoo adds when he sees the bag leaning against the sofa again. Kyungsoo starts to turn around, to run or just do something—maybe grab a knife from the kitchen—when Jongin comes out of his room, freshly showered.

"Oh I see you two have met. This is Yixing," Jongin tells Kyungsoo with a grin. "He's staying with us for a while." His grin falters when Kyungsoo's eyes bug out a little.

The stranger—Yixing—approaches Kyungsoo, a hand stretched out to shake his. "I'm Yixing," he says. "You must be—"

"Going to have a talk with Jongin," Kyungsoo interrupts, forcing a smile at Yixing's outstretched hand before grabbing Jongin by the collar and dragging him into the nearest room which happens to be Kyungsoo's.

The room looks as Kyungsoo left it that morning, pristine white walls, neatly fixed bed, everything in its proper order. Kyungsoo really hates it when anything is out of place and doesn't like it when there are clothes scattered on the floor or when things are in places where they shouldn't be. This is precisely why he's very glad he didn't become roommates with Baekhyun instead. Kyungsoo would've probably smothered Baekhyun with all his clothing and crap by the end of the first day living together. At least Jongin is clean enough; Kyungsoo can tolerate him.

"Hyung," Jongin prods Kyungsoo's arm to get him out of his head. "We can't just leave Yixing hyung out there. He's our guest." He stumbles backwards when Kyungsoo whirls around to face him with such speed that his hair flies upwards.

"A guest that we never agreed on having," Kyungsoo snaps. He takes a deep breath when Jongin's face crumples into his puppy dog frown, the one that Kyungsoo really doesn't like because he can't deny Jongin anything when he does it. "He's a stranger, Jongin," he continues, but this time, his tone is more gentle. "Where did you even find him?"

"He's not really a stranger," Jongin answers, his grin back on his face. He looks excited and Kyungsoo sighs in indulgence. "He's an acquaintance of one of Zitao's friends." He reaches up and kind of fluffs his hair, which is still wet from his shower. Kyungsoo steps back and scrunches up his nose when he feels drops of water hit his face.

"Which friend?" Kyungsoo asks with a pointed look. When Jongin doesn't say anything and just looks at some space on the wall behind Kyungsoo, he goes on, "He's a stranger." Sitting on the edge of the bed, he grabs Jongin's hand to pull him down beside him. Jongin doesn't waste time in leaning his head on Kyungsoo's shoulder even if he's the bigger one between the two of them.

"I'm sorry, hyung," Jongin mumbles, pressing his nose on Kyungsoo's collar bone and breathing out. Kyungsoo closes his eyes and suppresses a shiver. "About earlier, I didn't mean... I don't mind that you do things for me and take care of me. You know I don't, so it really wasn't about that." He lifts an arm and puts it around Kyungsoo's waist, tugging him closer even if they're already so close. "I just really think that I don't do enough for you," he explains with another sigh. "I want to be able to take care of you too, you know."

Kyungsoo wonders how or why Jongin doesn't know how much he takes care of Kyungsoo. It's amazing how Kyungsoo relies on Jongin so much that he didn't even realize it until recently. Jongin may think that he doesn't do much for Kyungsoo, but there are so many things that Kyungsoo can't recount them all. The most important thing is that Jongin is always around when Kyungsoo needs him the most. Like right now.

"Jongin, you do take care of me," Kyungsoo assures him, voice soft and low as Jongin tries to squeeze closer to him. Jongin is so warm and so cozy that Kyungsoo knows he's going to miss it when the time comes. Kyungsoo doesn't want to think about that time. "It's not something I count the number of times of. It's not something you do either so I'm not sure why this is an issue."

Jongin shifts and for a moment he's just quiet. Kyungsoo can feel Jongin's heart beat on his arm, it's loud but steady and comforting. Kyungsoo leans his head on Jongin's and closes his eyes. It was summertime when he and Jongin first met. Kyungsoo was going to university the coming school year and Jongin was going into his senior year. Jongin had been too quiet and shy and Kyungsoo, aloof. Baekhyun was the one who got them into talking. Actually, it was more than that. It was their agreement that Baekhyun is a menace to society that got them to being friends. In some ways, they were closer than they each were to Baekhyun. Kyungsoo would never let Baekhyun lean on him like this. The last time Kyungsoo allowed it, Baekhyun had sneaked a hand under his shirt and nuzzled his neck. Kyungsoo still blanches at the thought.

"I signed our apartment up,"" Jongin speaks up about a completely different topic that makes Kyungsoo feel relieved and confused at the same time. They were never really one to discuss their relationship.

"What?" Kyungsoo asks, looking at Jongin when he pulls away from him.

"Zitao mentioned that a friend of his friend—I don't know which one," Jongin grumbles when Kyungsoo raises his eyebrows in question. "But Zitao told me he's really nice and decent and wouldn't hurt a fly."

"It's possible for someone to be afraid of flies and not care about committing mass murder," Kyungsoo tells him with a knowing smile.

"Did you see him?" Jongin gestures towards the door where Yixing is probably standing and waiting for them on the other side. "Does he look like he'd commit mass murder? He looks so..."

"Vacant?" Kyungsoo supplies. Yixing had that wide-eyed look about him that made him seem fascinated about everything he laid his eyes on. Kyungsoo is pretty sure that apartments are generally the same all over the world or wherever it is that he's come from.

"Innocent," Jongin corrects him with a light glare that has Kyungsoo chuckling. "Zitao's told me a bit about him—"

"You haven't even met his friend, the one who actually knows—"

"Zitao has told me a bit about him," Jongin continues with a hard stare that has Kyungsoo shutting up and giving in. Kyungsoo really has to remember not to treat Jongin like a little kid anymore. "He's been living in China, in Changsha, and he works for a travel magazine as a photographer. But to be really immersed in the places that he goes to, he does couch surfing instead. It's also a way for him to save his magazine some money."

Kyungsoo feels like he's going to have an aneurism. "So when you said you signed our apartment up..." he prods his friend, who smiles and sits a little farther away until Kyungsoo grabs the back of his neck.

"He needed a place to stay. It's his first time here," Jongin yelps, curling into himself as he tries not to let Kyungsoo's hand on the back of his neck affect him too much. He's pretty ticklish and Kyungsoo knows this very well. "And Zitao suggested it when I talked to him about how you're—" He stiffens at his words and cuts himself off.

"About how I'm what?" Kyungsoo presses, dropping his hand back to his lap. Jongin doesn't meet his eyes. "About how I'm what, Jongin?"

"Just..." Jongin hesitates. His hands are clasped together and he looks like he doesn't want to go on with the conversation with the way he's squirming in his seat. "You seem lonely, hyung." Jongin lifts his gaze towards him and they're so concerned that Kyungsoo's heart clenches. "I think that after what happened you've just—"

"So bringing Yixing here is your solution to my supposed loneliness?" Kyungsoo interjects because he's not lonely. He's not.

He knows loneliness. Kyungsoo has seen it in his dad's eyes and the way he never really smiles anymore when he goes to visit him. He can see it in the way Baekhyun sometimes curls up on himself when Joonmyun rebuffs his advances. There's also the way Chanyeol's smiles tone down whenever he talks about Jongin. Kyungsoo is fine. There may be things he wishes he has and things he wishes had never gone from his life, but he's not lonely.

Jongin takes a deep breath and stands up. "I'll tell him that I'll find him a hotel instead," he tells him and walks out of the room. "He knew this wasn't a sure deal anyway."

The collar of Jongin's shirt is soaked with the droplets from his hair. Kyungsoo wants to tell Jongin to put a towel around his neck or change a shirt because his neck is going to get cold which might lead to him getting sick. This is the thought that makes him get off the bed and go after Jongin. Because Kyungsoo always worries about Jongin, even to the smallest and simplest things that Jongin sometimes grumbles when Kyungsoo mothers him too much. Why should he get mad when Jongin tries to do the same for him? Even though Kyungsoo really isn't lonely.

Jongin is just about to tell Yixing that they've changed their minds about hosting his stay in Seoul when Kyungsoo comes out of the room. Yixing's eyes flicker to Kyungsoo and smiles such a pretty smile that Kyungsoo almost forgets what he's going to say.

"Have you had a meal before you arrived?" Kyungsoo asks when Jongin halts his roundabout speech as he walks back into the living area. Jongin's really too nice a person. One time, Jongin actually climbed a tree to save a kitty, but that was probably because it was Chanyeol who pointed it out and, for some reason, Jongin was easily taken with Chanyeol's nonexistent persuasive powers.

"I was going to get one after I got settled in," Yixing answers, the dimples on his cheek deepening with each word. It's fascinating and Kyungsoo has half a mind to reach out and dip his finger in it. That is, of course, if he was weird or something. Kyungsoo is a very sane and normal person.

"You don't have to do that," Kyungsoo tells him with a shake of his head. Jongin startles beside him but Kyungsoo ignores it. "If you could wait some more, I was just about to make dinner. Jongin can help you get settled in his room." He returns Yixing's smile and then turns to Jongin. "Or Yixing can stay in my room and I can stay in yours."

"You don't have to do that," Yixing repeats to him with such urgency and panic that his accent comes out. He's waving his hands at them, eyes wide and imploring. "I can stay on the couch, really. That's what Jongin and I discussed." He presses his lips together and his dimples come out. Again. Kyungsoo flutters his lashes and looks away.

"No, it's fine," Jongin assures him, waving back in dismissal of his plea. "I'm not going to be around much anyway." He sends an apologetic look towards Kyungsoo at this. "If I do come home, I can sleep with Kyungsoo instead." Kyungsoo's ears burn at the statement even though it really doesn't mean the way it sounded. "So, really, you're welcome to stay in my room. Here," he insists, picking up Yixing's heavy backpack with a grunt. "Let me help you with your things."

Kyungsoo smiles to himself as Yixing follows Jongin to his bedroom and goes back to the kitchen to start making dinner. He thinks he should make some classic Korean food since Yixing is a tourist. Moving around the kitchen, he takes out some ingredients for bibimbap, kimbap and some kimchi jjiggae for their soup. Side-dishes would be good, too, he thinks. They haven't had side dishes with their meals for a while. This is a good time to have them. Kyungsoo hopes Yixing would enjoy dinner.

Strong arms wrap around his waist just as he's finished putting the toppings on the third bowl of bibimbap. Jongin's hair is less damp when he presses to the side of his face, his chin resting on his shoulder. Jongin just hugs him like this for a while and Kyungsoo lets him. He knows what Jongin is saying and Kyungsoo knows that he doesn't have to say anything either. There are many things that they do for each other but Kyungsoo never gets used to being given help. Kyungsoo needs to come to terms with being told that he's lonely because there's nothing wrong with his life right now. He likes his life, but he thinks this is something he can do for Jongin.

"It looks and smells good," Jongin says, not moving away from embracing him. Kyungsoo doesn't want him to anyway. Jongin's hugs are always so warm and comforting.

"Did you really expect anything less from me?" Kyungsoo teases.

"No, but it's been a while since you've made this much food," Jongin replies, tightening his hold on him. "You even made mandoo," he adds his disbelief. "You never make mandoo anymore."

"Because you snack on it like they're chips," Kyungsoo retorts but it's lighthearted. He really can't get mad at Jongin for anything for long anyway. "And then you tell me to make some more so you can feed Sehun and Zitao." Sometimes he questions Jongin's friendship with those two since all they do is mack at each other when they're together, but Jongin adores them so there's nothing Kyungsoo can do. "Besides, it's Yixing's first time in Seoul and he could use some authentic dinner on his first night."

"You're the best," Jongin says. Kyungsoo can hear the grin on his voice and chuckles. "Really, hyung," he insists. "I won't spring anything like this on you again." He presses a kiss on Kyungsoo's cheek.

"Gross," Kyungsoo retaliates by elbowing him even though his heart is beating so hard. It's a reminder of how close they are. It's also a reminder of things that Kyungsoo is sure has passed. "Kim Jongin, you're—"

“Oh. Sorry." Yixing is standing at the doorway, his eyes moving back and forth between Kyungsoo and Jongin with some confusion. "I can come back—"

"No, no, come in," Jongin says, stepping away from Kyungsoo. He gets three sets of chopsticks from one of the cabinets and takes the napkins out. "I was just being gross. Come on, take a seat. Soo's practically done with dinner."

As they eat, Kyungsoo watches the way Yixing's face lights up with every bite of food that he takes. It makes Kyungsoo feel more relieved that he let Yixing stay, despite his continuing reservations. They really don't know much about Yixing and he really could be a mass murder or something, but Kyungsoo also knows that he should trust Jongin and his judgment. Besides, Yixing does look innocent with the way he smiles and wiggles in his seat with joy at the food. Kyungsoo thinks he can get used to this.

 

 

 

There are days when Kyungsoo gets to wake up late, days when Jongdae takes the morning shift at the library and Kyungsoo takes the later one. On these days, he rolls around in bed for around an hour, alternately sleeping some more and checking whatever dumb messages Baekhyun has left in the messaging group that they have with Jongin. It's a chat room that has mostly Baekhyun's emoticons and whining and Jongin replying with cute stickers and Kyungsoo just reading them and doing nothing. He really has no patience for Baekhyun's dramatic love story with Joonmyun. He sees enough of that at work; he really doesn't need to read about it too.

After he rolls around in bed, he gets up, puts on one of the plain white shirts he has and pads out of his room to go to the kitchen and see what he can make for breakfast. Kyungsoo hates wearing pants at home and so he never really bothers with one, walking around the apartment in only his boxer briefs, normally black. He pokes his head in the fridge and wondering if heating up the mac 'n cheese that Baekhyun brought over the day before would be enough breakfast or if he should make something else. Making food isn't something he particularly enjoys. On most days, he only does it because Jongin is around or because he wants to feed his friends; Baekhyun doesn't normally eat when he's love sick, Joonmyun keeps on watching his weight, and Jongin eats too much junk food.

Kyungsoo has just popped the mac 'n cheese in the microwave when he hears someone shuffling into the kitchen. Strange, because he was sure Jongin didn't come home the night before and that he wouldn't be home for several days. Chanyeol's put him on lockdown and isn't allowed human contact until he finishes his draft. So for someone to be shuffling in would mean that someone else is in the apartment. Kyungsoo has turned around with a tight grip on the fork in his hand when he closes his eyes and chuckles in relief.

"Sorry," Yixing mumbles, sheepish. He's wearing a sleeveless tank top that isn't really much in terms of clothing since it's practically see through and too low cut.

"Yixing," Kyungsoo breathes, putting the fork down on the counter. He manages a smile. "Good morning."

"Did I scare you?" Yixing asks, not wasting any time in preparing the table for breakfast for two.

This has become something of a habit for both of them, having breakfast together every morning in the past few days that Yixing has been staying with them. Kyungsoo makes breakfast and Yixing sets the table and helps out. Still, even with this new daily routine, Kyungsoo still isn't really used to having him around. The first morning of Yixing coming into the kitchen early in the morning wasn't pretty. Kyungsoo had knocked down a pan in his fright and almost burned the kitchen in the process. Which is hard to do since Kyungsoo is very well-versed with cooking and the kitchen and knows very well how to not burn it down. Unlike Baekhyun. Since then, Kyungsoo has tried to wrap his mind around the fact that there is another human being living with him who is not Jongin. Kyungsoo tries to get used to Yixing and the sounds that he makes. The problem is Yixing is too quiet.

"It's fine," Kyungsoo waves at him, gesturing at him to take a seat just as the microwave oven sounds. "I just didn't hear you."

"I don't think me being loud would be of service to anyone," Yixing tells him as they start eating. "I am a guest here."

"Please," Kyungsoo dismisses his concern again. "You don't have to act like one. You can act the way you want to." He purses his lips. "But I don't really approve of parties in the apartment, loud music, cooking that may lead to fire and, therefore, death." Yixing is smiling at him and there's that dimple again. "I'd also rather you did your own laundry," he adds, looking away to stare at the food on his plate.

"I can do laundry," Yixing agrees after finishing his chewing. There's some remnant of kimchi on the corner of his lips, near his dimple, that makes Kyungsoo kind of want to lean across the table and wipe it with his thumb. Not his tongue. "In fact, I can do all our laundry."

Kyungsoo's eyes shift from where he's ogling his dimple to his eyes. He's suspicious of anyone who talks like they can do laundry well. He's had too much history with Baekhyun and Jongin to know that just because you think you can do laundry doesn't mean you actually can do it without a hitch. And just because one looks cute while saying it earnestly too doesn't make it true.

"We'll see," is all Kyungsoo says because, hey, benefit of the doubt.

"I can also fix your TV stand and Jongin's door knob," Yixing goes on. Kyungsoo stares at him. "I kind of wanted to fix it the first time I saw it but I didn't want to without permission. I mean—"

Yixing is definitely kind. Whatever notions that Kyungsoo had of Yixing being a mass murderer of some sort, he now kind of has confirmation that Yixing really wouldn't hurt even just a fly. The other day Kyungsoo caught him watering Jongin's poor excuse of having nature in their apartment, small potted plants that he'd bought at some flea market a couple of months ago, plants that haven't been touch (and, surprisingly haven't died yet) in months. It wasn't just that Yixing was watering them, he was also humming to them, as if he actually cares for plants he's never even seen before. Not only that, Yixing straightens everything that he sees when he walks around the apartment even when he doesn't mean to clean. He picks up a candy wrapper here, wipes a table there, airs out the living room, cleans the sink... Kyungsoo doesn't think he knows anyone like Yixing among his group of friends, seeing as they're all slobs. So yes, Yixing is definitely kind.

"You mean it could be by design that Jongin is too lazy to fix the lock of his door?" Kyungsoo finishes for him. Did he mention that Yixing was a good person? There's a fond smile on his face that only mostly appears when talking about Jongin and his stupidity. "But you don't have to. I've been reminding him to get it fixed for months but he's just too lazy and he really doesn't have anything of value in his room. His whole life is in his writing bag."

"What does Jongin write?" Yixing asks, which makes sense for him to ask seeing as Jongin is gone all the time so he can finish it.

"He's a children's book writer," Kyungsoo tells him as he gets up to put his bowl on the sink. "You might see it when you go to a bookstore. The Adventures of Little Kim Kai. It's quite popular. Shockingly." It's probably really because Jongin has the mindset of a child at times.

"That's cool," Yixing says and he really looks like he finds it cool. Which it is, actually, Kyungsoo thinks. Jongin now has book tours and everything because the kids and their parents want to meet him. Especially the mothers when they find out that the author is kind of hot. "What do you do? Sorry, Jongin never told me."

"I work at the city library," Kyungsoo tells him with a proud smile. His cheeks are puffed up, teeth all showing, which just shows how much he loves his job. His friends may think it's boring but Kyungsoo doesn't care. Books have everything that Kyungsoo could ever want in this life. "So if there's a book you're looking for, you can always ask me."

"Actually, I want to look for travel books about Seoul and South Korea," Yixing pipes up, straightening up with interest before he gets up to put his bowl back in the sink as well. He turns the water on and starts washing the dishes. "I know I could just go online and search it, but I haven't activated my sim yet and I figured there's no better way to explore than to read actual books and to just... explore." He smiles at Kyungsoo, who leans his hip against the sink. "Or would you rather show me around?"

"Aren't you supposed to have a list of things to do or places to go already?" Kyungsoo asks, raising an eyebrow. "I mean, your magazine must have given you something to do already so that all you have to do is go out there and take pictures."

Yixing shrugs but doesn't disagree. "The magazine has been giving me leeway as to what I can do and where I can go," he explains. "When I was in Japan, I literally just walked around Tokyo and talked to locals about what they think are the best places to go to." He shrugs. "It's never done me wrong before. Knowing a local, though," he then beams at Kyungsoo as if to say that Kyungsoo being a local is his key to experiencing the best of Seoul, "is definitely more helpful."

Kyungsoo has half a mind to decline because doing touristy stuff has never been his thing. He doesn't even like going around places he hasn't been to, what more in Seoul, which is where he's lived all his life? He considers passing him on to Joonmyun or maybe Baekhyun. Except Baekhyun would probably eat Yixing alive since Baekhyun has the tendency to eat fresh meat for breakfast. So scratch Baekhyun. Jongin is busy and Kyungsoo isn't close enough to Jongdae so that really does just leave Kyungsoo to help Yixing out. Yixing beams at him when Kyungsoo tells him so. It leaves Kyungsoo with an unpleasant dip in the pit of his stomach.

 

 

 

"Will you shut up?" Kyungsoo grumbles as he enters the apartment, Baekhyun in tow. Baekhyun has been rambling on and on about Joonmyun walking him home the night before. As if Kyungsoo hasn't heard the whole story first thing the night before, with a recap in the morning and again during lunch time. He doesn't really get what the big deal is. It is so obvious that they like each other. Why don't they just get together already?

"Ah but getting together already will take the fun out of it," Baekhyun answers what Kyungsoo didn't realize was a question he's said aloud. "It's the journey that's important, Soosoo." He coos and ruffles Kyungsoo's hair, chuckling when Kyungsoo scowls and slaps his hand off. "The getting there is what's exciting." He drapes himself all over the sofa as soon as he toes his shoes off and Kyungsoo glares at him for a second before heading off to the kitchen. Not because there are knives there that maybe can be of some current use to him to shut Baekhyun up.

"But you already know Joonmyun likes you and you obviously like him," Kyungsoo points out, taking out the pie that he'd bought the other day. "What's the point when you already know where you guys are heading?"

"That's where you're wrong!" Baekhyun yells back with glee. "Just because we like each other and we know it, doesn't mean we're fit to be together. I mean, he could totally be a slob and I could hate him for that and then we won't get along. You still have to get to know the other person, Soo. I thought you, of all people, would know this kind of thing. I mean, you did make Minseok court you like a young virginal maiden for two years."

Kyungsoo almost slices through the counter at Baekhyun's words. He tightens his grip on knife and puts it down. He slaps down the slice of pie on one of the smaller plates and stabs a fork through it. Minseok was a subject they never talk about because Kyungsoo put his foot down on it a long time ago and threatened hanging on anyone who would mention him. He wonders if that threat could still be carried out, considering he had told this to Baekhyun too many times. Baekhyun probably forgot the moment they moved on to another topic.

"Are you saying you're the virginal maiden in this scenario?" Kyungsoo scoffs, clenching his jaw. "Because I'm pretty sure Joonmyun nor anyone else is buying it." He quirks his lips as he waits for Baekhyun's sure to be indignant response. But it never comes.

He leaves the kitchen and finds Baekhyun sprawled backwards on the couch, eyes wide and mouth open as he stares at Yixing, whom Kyungsoo had forgotten (maybe intentionally) to mention to Baekhyun. But Kyungsoo is sure that's not what has Baekhyun ogling at him like an idiot because even Kyungsoo can't turn his gaze away. Yixing is more muscular than Kyungsoo thought him to be. Not that Kyungsoo has ever thought of Yixing's muscles. Why would he? But now that Yixing is standing half naked in his living room, well, now he'll start thinking of Yixing's muscles and how he would love to reach out and press his hands on the dents and curves of his abs.

"Sorry I was moving some of the furniture in Jongin's room so I could clean properly," Yixing explains with a smile that shows he doesn't care that he's baring his body out to the world. "I was going to get started on the living room, I guess I'll do that later." His smile widens when he turns to Baekhyun. "I'm Yixing."

"Baekhyun," Baekhyun is quick to reply. But, surprisingly, he doesn't get up and pounce on him.

"You should probably get dressed too," Kyungsoo squeaks, blinking rapidly, hoping that maybe Yixing being topless is only a figment of his imagination.

"Or not," Baekhyun quips with a grin so predatory that Kyungsoo isn't sure why Yixing isn't running yet.

"Oh right," Yixing says, looking down at his body and, much to Kyungsoo's horror, he runs a hand down, from his chest to his tummy. Kyungsoo jerks, torn between running away from Yixing or towards him. "I should do that." What's worse is that Yixing looks up at them and smiles like there's nothing wrong with what he just did. Like, "oh I'll run my hands down my sexy body, that should be okay and totally not seductive."

"Yep," Kyungsoo urges him, wondering what's happening to his voice because it's normally not this high. "You should go take a shower too. You must be tired after all that cleaning."

Yixing waves at Baekhyun and goes into Jongin's room, the door clicking shut. It takes a while for the images of Yixing peeling off the pants off and maybe running both his hands this time all over his body to go away. Kyungsoo has to grip the back of the couch and breathe in and out several times for him to calm down. His meditation is cut short, however, when Baekhyun springs off the couch and jumps on his back.

"I can't believe you never told me that the guy you're living with is an adonis!" Baekhyun's mouth is too close to Kyungsoo's ear, his lips brushing on the shell of it, making him shiver. Not because Baekhyun's breathing on him (his breath smells like a dump truck), but because Kyungsoo didn't need to have Yixing as an adonis in his head! He really doesn't need to know these things! He works in a library!

Kyungsoo does some sort of wrestling move where he grabs Baekhyun and throws him over his head and back down on the couch. Baekhyun goes down with a loud oof to his great satisfaction and glares down at him. He is not going to give Baekhyun the satisfaction of an agreement that he thinks Yixing is even remotely attractive. His friends have already come to the resigned conclusion that Kyungsoo is never attracted to anyone or even anything anymore and Kyungsoo would really like it to remain that way.

"You have Joonmyun!" Kyungsoo snaps at him. "I don't think he'd appreciate knowing that you already have your next conquest lined up."

There's a flash of hurt in Baekhyun's eyes the moment it leaves his lips and Kyungsoo swallows in lieu of an apology. Because he knows Baekhyun would just brush it off and because Baekhyun has already launched into a winded explanation of why Joonmyun Is Not A Conquest But The Love Of His Life. Kyungsoo reaches down and squeezes his shoulder after his speech anyway and Baekhyun just rolls his eyes at him.

"I can't believe neither one of you told me." Baekhyun is back to pouting as he follows Kyungsoo to the kitchen, where his whole face lights up at the sight of the mangled pie slice that Kyungsoo prepared for him. "I mean, what's so hard about saying hey Baek, the guy we asked to live with us is totally hot and sexy? Not that hard," he relays through a mouthful of pie.

"Chew your food properly," is all Kyungsoo says because he is not going to be rope in into this conversation. There is no way he's going to get into a discussion with anyone about how hot Yixing is because it's already a tormenting one that his brain has by itself. He knew there was a reason he didn't tell Baekhyun, because of things like this, because of how he makes things seem like a bigger deal than it really is.

"Really though, I'd tap that," Baekhyun goes on. He doesn't seem to mind that he's practically talking to himself. "If I didn't have Joonmyun, of course." He blushes at the statement and Kyungsoo just wants to smack the back of his head. "Not that he's mine or anything like that. But if there wasn't a Joonmyun in the picture, I would totally ask him if I could run my hands over his body. Like he seemed to need help with that earlier. I can be totally helpful in that aspect."

"Don't you have something else to do than talk to me about our hot guest?" Kyungsoo almost growls because Baekhyun is really getting on his nerves. Baekhyun is already annoying by himself, but all this talk about Yixing is making it worse. "Because I have to go do some inventory reports and—"

"AHA!" Baekhyun yells as he jumps off his seat and points at Kyungsoo with startling smugness. "You agree!"

Kyungsoo blinks. "What are you talking about?"

"You totally agreed!" Baekhyun laughs, loud and free, throwing his head back. "You totally agree!"

"I'm leaving," Kyungsoo tells him and turns around to leave the kitchen. He's not entirely sure he knows what Baekhyun is saying but if he's right...

"You think Yixing is hot," Baekhyun cackles after him. "You just said 'Don't you have something else to do than talk to me about our hot guest?' You think he's hot!" He bursts into another round of laughter when Kyungsoo whips around to face him. Kyungsoo is pretty sure his face is red and he wants nothing more than to smash Baekhyun's face to the wall.

"Will you shut up?" Kyungsoo hisses, looking around to see if Yixing has come out from his shower yet. "Don't make him feel uncomfortable. He's our guest."

Baekhyun shrugs, manic grin still on his face. "He acts more like he actually lives here, what with the walking around naked and all."

"Baekhyun, if you talk about Yixing being naked one more time, I swear to god I will..." Kyungsoo clenches and unclenches his fists. This has Baekhyun backing away, hands raised in surrender.

"Okay, okay," Baekhyun gives in. "Sheesh. Chill out." Kyungsoo is overjoyed when Baekhyun walks to the front door and puts his shoes back on. "I should go home," he says, winking. "Joonmyun and I are going out."

"Whoopee," Kyungsoo responds with the excitement of someone who doesn't care. "Bye." He slams the door in Baekhyun's face, ignoring Baekhyun's yells. Then he goes straight to his room and flops face first on the bed. He hates his life.

 

 

 

"What are you still doing here?"

Kyungsoo jumps from where his face is practically pressed to the computer monitor in an effort to make sense in organizing the inventory numbers on the excel file and looks up at Joonmyun peering down at him with a frown. He blinks at him, looks down at the computer screen and looks back up again. It takes a couple of seconds for him to respond, his brain seemingly fried with all the numbers and book titles he's been going through.

"Uh," Kyungsoo stammers. "Obviously, I am doing some work." He looks around and the library is dark, only the lights near the librarian's desk is turned on. "Why are you still here?"

"Well I finish a lot of paper work after most of the visitors leave," Joonmyun explains. He purses his lips to show that he's not pleased, but what he ends up doing is looking cute. Joonmyun pursing his lips is equivalent to pouting and, as much as it pains Kyungsoo to admit it, it does look cute. "Doesn't explain why you're still here, though. Actually, you've been going home late for several days now. What's going on?"

"Aren't you supposed to reward me with employee of the month or something?" Kyungsoo asks, voice strained as he arches his back and stretches. He hears several cracks on his back, which makes him moan in satisfaction. He really has been hunched in front of the computer for too long. Standing up, he continues stretching and smiles when Joonmyun continues frowning at him. "I just wanted to get things done faster," he tries again. "There's nothing going on."

Well, there is. But Joonmyun doesn't need to know that. Joonmyun doesn't need to know that inside the apartment that Kyungsoo shares with Jongin is a man, a man who is threatening to break Kyungsoo's sanity. Kyungsoo would like to keep his sanity intact, thankyouverymuch. It's very important to him and his job and his future. One hot Zhang Yixing isn't going to break him.

Kyungsoo packs up and gets ready to head home once Joonmyun leaves. He hasn't really explained this to everyone, not even Jongin, who suddenly sends him text messages in the morning, asking him what time he got home. Kyungsoo never replies. He also ignores Yixing's curious looks at him when they do get to see each other but he never asks, which Kyungsoo is very much grateful for.

He remembers days when coming home late was not an option, not just because he had classes the next day, but because there was a person to go home with everyday. Those when days when it felt like spring all year round even when the snow and biting cold fell on them harshly. It was a great time to be alive. Until everything fell apart.

Kyungsoo is at the door of the apartment when he gets a message from Jongin. We're going to talk about your late night rendezvouses when I go back for the weekend. He snorts and shoves his phone back into his pocket. The apartment is dark and quiet as it always is when he comes home these days. Yixing turns all of the lights off before he retires to Jongin's room, which is nice of him to do because Jongin always forgets to turn off the lights and Kyungsoo always complains that he's wasting energy. It's admirable how Yixing has managed to fit himself into Kyungsoo's routine and how he's grown to know what's expected of him, even if Kyungsoo's never really said anything.

Yixing usually leaves every morning with his camera the same time Kyungsoo goes to work. They leave together and part ways where Kyungsoo needs to turn left to go in the direction of the library, while Yixing just goes in whatever direction he wants to for that day. Most days Yixing walks Kyungsoo to work. Except these days, Kyungsoo wakes up extra early. He still makes breakfast for two, but packs his and eats it at work. It's probably a dick move, considering that Yixing hasn't done anything but be hot and sexy, but Kyungsoo thinks his actions are justified anyway.

He's on his way to the kitchen to get a glass of water when he sees a foot peeking from one end of the sofa. When Kyungsoo looks, he finds Yixing curled up on the sofa, hand cupping his cheek, chest rising and falling slowly with his breathing. He's happy to note that Yixing is at least wearing a tank top. It may not cover much but at least there's something making an effort to keep Kyungsoo's sanity together.

Normally, Yixing is already in Jongin's room, asleep. Kyungsoo wonders why he's out here in the living room now when it's already so late. When he sits on the edge of the sofa, he sees Yixing's SLR camera on the table. He picks it up for some reason and starts going through the pictures. He's curious where Yixing has been and what he gets up to when he's out for the day. There are pictures of street signs and vendors and cafes and parks. There are ones of people walking their dogs, couples holding hands, and people eating street food. There's none of tourist spots, like maybe the Han River or the N Seoul Tower or anything remotely similar to what most travel blogs or magazines show and talk about.

There's nothing wrong with the pictures. Kyungsoo thinks it's interesting how Yixing picked this angle to show, how it's really the everyday life that should be showcased because tourist spots only beautify the place, but it doesn't mean that it's what the place or it’s how the people really are. Yixing gets more and more interesting, it seems, every time Kyungsoo makes an effort to know more about him. He wonders if there's anything about Yixing that isn't nice and interesting. Little by little, the word 'perfect' becomes the word to describe him.

Yixing stirs in his sleep the moment Kyungsoo puts the camera back on the table. Kyungsoo almost drops it when he lets go and gets off the couch when Yixing sits up, rubbing his eye.

"Hey," Yixing greets, voice hoarse. Kyungsoo swallows and forces a smile on his face. "Did you just get back?"

"I—yeah," Kyungsoo agrees with a swift nod. "Did you fall asleep working?" He nods towards Yixing's laptop sitting beside the camera.

"I made dinner," Yixing tells Kyungsoo instead of answering his question as he stands and stretches. Kyungsoo does not look down at the little tummy that shows when his shirt lifts up. "Did you eat?"

"Oh," Kyungsoo says. So the food he keeps seeing in the small containers in the fridge are food that Yixing makes. For Kyungsoo. Yixing has been making food for him all this time. He thought they were just leftovers or that Yixing just likes to store food. "I... could use some dinner," he says, shifting from side to side as he tries not to feel even more like an asshole.

Yixing smiles so bright that he looks like he hasn't been asleep just a couple of minutes ago. Kyungsoo follows him to the kitchen and takes a seat when he's told to do so. He props his elbow on the table, chin resting on his palm. It's nice to watching Yixing move around the kitchen with ease, heating the food and making some hot cocoa for him. It makes him seem more comfortable and more at home, which Kyungsoo could have helped with if he was around more. Kyungsoo makes a face and leans back on the seat, putting his hands flat on the table before starting a drumming beat. Jongin should also be around to help Yixing out. Then again, if Jongin's main purpose for having Yixing around is for Kyungsoo to have company, then it really should be up to Kyungsoo. He thinks there should be a limit of how much he can feel like a dick in one day.

"I'm sorry I've been coming home late," Kyungsoo tells Yixing once the food’s all on the table and Yixing's sitting across from him, expression expectant. He's not entirely sure what he's apologizing for considering he and Yixing have no agreement whatsoever on anything aside from house rules, but it feels like he should. Especially since Yixing seems to have been making dinner for him. Yixing just shrugs. There's still a smile on his face that seems to be permanently plastered there. Is there even anything that makes Yixing upset? There has to be something, not that Kyungsoo wants Yixing to be sad or upset.

"I'm thinking of going to N Seoul Tower tomorrow," Yixing says. Kyungsoo sees his acknowledgement of the apology and the way he raises his eyebrows with the message you don't need to apologize. "It would be nice to see it with someone from around here."

Yixing's tank top has slipped way past decent levels. It's now revealing his collarbones in their full glory and Kyungsoo kind of wants to reach out to touch them and maybe bite them. Biting would be a wiser and probably more delicious option, but he isn't sure if Yixing is into that. Yixing would probably be averse to the touching too so there's really no point in moving forward with the biting. Kyungsoo should shut his brain down.

"Well," Kyungsoo stammers as he rearranges his brain. He has finished all his reports and Joonmyun has been encouraging him to take a day or two off. They've also recently hired someone new to take over the shifts that Kyungsoo and Jongdae leave when they're on their days off so it should really be okay. "I haven't been to the N Seoul Tower to be honest." His aversion to traveling doesn't just mean traveling out of the country. "So I'm not sure how much of a help I can be."

This doesn't seem to deter Yixing, though. In fact, he looks even happier than if Kyungsoo said he knew everything about the history of the country. "We can go learn about it together," Yixing suggests, reaching up to scratch his neck, which somehow stretches his shirt downwards and Kyungsoo clutches at his chest at the almost nipple slip.

Kyungsoo pushes the chair off and carries the plates to the sink, vowing to wash them tomorrow morning before stalking off to his room. He throws in a hasty 'good night' to Yixing right in the middle of it because he feels like his hands have minds of their own with the way they lifted up by themselves to touch Yixing's skin. Not a good idea. Yixing would probably throw him off the tower tomorrow if he did that. It would be terrible press for a place that's said to be one of the most romantic spots for couples. Kyungsoo can't do that to Seoul. So he keeps he clasps his hands together as he buries himself in bed. He's won the battle today.

 

 

 

Yixing takes pictures of the seemingly most insignificant of things. He points and shoots at anything that he finds interesting, which to Yixing, can really be anything. Kyungsoo had caught him taking a photo of a flower fallen right beside a trashcan once and he's not sure what story he sees in that photo. But then there are the pictures of the far off scenery, of couples holding hands, of people writing down messages on their padlocks at the same time, of friends laughing together and then Kyungsoo thinks that maybe that's what traveling is supposed to be about. It's a nice and idealistic thought.

"Look at this," Yixing nudges Kyungsoo in the arm and he looks away at a padlock with only a half of a heart. It's a picture of a little boy handing a little girl a single pink flower and he's about to think that he's cute, until he sees the the haughty rejection on the little girl's face.

"That's a misrepresentation of the Namsan Tower right there," Kyungsoo comments, wrinkling his nose. "Are you planning to publish this? I don't think it'd be a good image of a place that's supposedly full of romance." He crosses his arms over his chest and huffs, suddenly feeling irritated. The little girl is just mean. Unrequited love shouldn't happen to little kids least of all.

"Not every photo I take is for the magazine," Yixing tells him as he looks through the photos. "Just like not every story necessarily has a sad ending." He shoves the camera under Kyungsoo's nose and he sees the little girl picking up the flower that the boy seemingly tried to throw into the trash bin but missed.

"That's still heartbreaking," Kyungsoo says, and wow when did he learn how to whine like a high school girl? "The boy will never know and he'll go home thinking that the girl didn't like the flower and him." He tightens the cross of his arms over his chest.

Yixing chuckles—chuckles—like unrequited love is funny. Like it's something that you feel one moment and forget the next, like it doesn't feel like you've dedicated having feelings for this one person only to have your heart ripped out of your chest, like there's no gaping hole in your chest for weeks afterwards but you have to suck it up because life goes on. Kyungsoo is obviously affronted.

"Just because the boy doesn't know, doesn't mean that the girl doesn't like him," Yixing counters, a smile on his face and dimples on his cheeks. Kyungsoo makes a face and rubs his arms up and down. "Just because it seems unrequited, doesn't mean it is."

"Well even if it's fake unrequited feelings, it still looks that way and it would still hurt like it's not fake," Kyungsoo reason, not entirely sure why he's getting into a debate about little boys and little girls having/not having feelings for each other. He has enough of this in his own (lack of) love life. He doesn't need to worry about other people's too, much less kids'.

"The difference is the girl likes him back," Yixing says, shaking his head and hanging his camera over his neck. "He just doesn't know it yet. Sometimes, it just takes time. Or courage. Or both." He takes off his jacket, revealing that he has nothing more than a thin undershirt underneath it. A thought occurs to Kyungsoo about Yixing being so warm that he doesn't feel cold. Someday he should test that theory. For now...

"What are you doing?" Kyungsoo yelps when Yixing wraps the jacket around his shoulders.

"You're cold," Yixing points out, brow furrowing almost meeting in the middle of his face as he frowns.

Kyungsoo didn't realize that he is. But now that he has Yixing's jacket on him, he finds that he really was. Not anymore, he thinks as he puts on the best scowl that he can muster, while slipping his arms into the sleeves and zipping himself up. Yixing offered. Who is he to decline such a warm comfort? "Thanks," he mutters, scowling even more. He's sure his ears are red as Yixing beams at him. His ears turning red is a bad sign.

The day considerably becomes colder and Kyungsoo worries for Yixing and his lack of clothing. He's pretty sure undershirts aren't warm at all, no matter how Yixing doesn't seem to look like the cold affects him at all. So when they ride the gondola on the way down, Kyungsoo strategizes on how to make Yixing less cold. Returning his jacket isn't an option because Kyungsoo does feel cold and the whole gesture would be lost if he gave it back. Maybe he could squeeze him into the corner and the small space would hopefully provide some warmth, but then he'd stick to the glass and the glass is cold.

Out of options, he reaches for Yixing's hand to tuck in the jacket pocket with his, only to find that Yixing's hand is warm, like a hot pack. "Oh," Kyungsoo hiccups, dropping Yixing's hand. Then he points an accusing finger at him, eyes narrowed. "How come you don't feel cold? It's practically freezing!"

"It's not freezing. Not yet anyway," Yixing corrects him with a chuckle. Kyungsoo scowls because he is right. It isn't freezing; Kyungsoo just gets cold easily. "Let me help keep you warm, Kyungsoo." With these words, he stands behind Kyungsoo and stuffs both of his hands in the jacket pockets so that he could wrap his hands around Kyungsoo's.

Kyungsoo shivers and Yixing just presses even closer against his back, which just makes the shivering worse. Kyungsoo tries to lean forward as if to look at the lights around Seoul because it's a better option than leaning back against Yixing's chest. That chest is dangerous territory. Not that it's something Kyungsoo wants to claim. But then Yixing just kind of curves around him, like he thinks doing so will protect Kyungsoo from being cold. All it's doing, though, is make Kyungsoo have thoughts about Yixing's sexy body coming into contact with his. It's so warm and rock hard and—no, he's not thinking about Yixing's sexy, rock hard body. It becomes a vicious cycle wherein Kyungsoo shivers because of Yixing being too close, which makes Yixing move even closer because Kyungsoo is shivering. This is bad. Very, very bad.

"I'm not that cold," Kyungsoo yelps when Yixing takes a hand out of one of the pockets so he can wrap his arm around his waist to anchor him to his chest. He thinks this is a sign that he's at death's door—he can feel the heat and the hard lines of Yixing's body. He hates his life.

Kyungsoo skips away from Yixing as soon as they're out of the gondola. He skips because that's less suspicious and less mean than actually running away. The soft but beautiful laugh that Yixing rewards him with is all worth it. He whirls around, face stretched into a grin, because really he can't help himself when Yixing looks happy and giddy like he does. For some reason, Yixing smiling and laughing makes Kyungsoo smile and laugh, too. Even if Kyungsoo doesn't know why that happens. He goes with it anyway. There's nothing wrong with being happy because someone else is.

Kyungsoo decides to make Yixing some delicious hot coffee the moment they get home to the apartment. He makes really good coffee. Coffee is better than skin contact anyway. Whoever thought that body warmth is the best form of warmth is an idiot because there are things such as coffee, which doesn't require him touching Yixing. Did he mention that coffee is better than skin contact?

The problem is Yixing seems to think that they're close enough that he can just sling an arm around Kyungsoo anytime he wants and have his arm skin brush the skin of his neck. Now he keeps feeling Yixing's arm around his neck like a phantom, which is really annoying because he doesn't want to feel Yixing close to him every single minute of the day. All it does to Kyungsoo is remind him that Yixing's chest and abs are closer than he thinks and makes him realize that he can, maybe, touch them someday. The probability is bigger, better, and that's what he hates so much. Because now all he will think of is when he can touch.

"Where have you guys been?"

Kyungsoo jumps, while Yixing rams into his back. Jongin is sitting in the kitchen, munching on what looks like a chicken leg, the only one that's left on the huge box sitting on the table. Writing must be going rough because Jongin only ever eats so much chicken when he's overly stressed out with his draft.

"Are you okay?" Kyungsoo asks. He moves around the kitchen, gets a glass of water, and hands it to Jongin. "Is everything alright?" He sits down beside Jongin, a hand on his back.

Jongin shrugs and then grins around a big chunk of chicken meat. "Everything's good," he tells him, wiggling his eyebrows up and down. "I finished my draft. Chanyeol's going through it as we speak. Told me I could go home." He takes another bite. "So where did you guys go? And why are you only wearing a shirt?" He nods towards Yixing.

"Kyungsoo was cold," Yixing tells him with a nonchalant shrug the same time Kyungsoo says, "Yixing is warm." Jongin raises an eyebrow.

"Yixing felt like he didn't need his jacket because he's warm and I was cold," Kyungsoo interrupts before either of them could say anything else. He flushes in embarrassment when he realizes that he repeated what they both just said. "Just—we were at N Seoul Tower and it was windy," he added lamely.

Jongin is trying not to laugh in his seat and Kyungsoo wants to stick his elbow in Jongin's mouth. But he doesn't want to look violent, not in front of Yixing, who is so nice and thinks Kyungsoo is too. So he just steps on Jongin's toes instead and is satisfied when Jongin yelps to the point of dropping his food. It's good enough for Kyungsoo because he knows how much Jongin likes food, especially chicken. Depriving him is enough punishment.

"I'll go and upload my pictures. I'll sleep in the living room." Before Kyungsoo and Jongin can protest, he's out of the kitchen.

Kyungsoo sighs like an idiotic school girl, slumping against the backrest of the chair and watching Yixing leave the kitchen. His back muscles must feel really good too. Someone who has such a rock solid, well-defined chest would have a back that wonderful as well and Kyungsoo is going to hell. He jerks back into his seat and takes a deep breath.

He jumps and looks at Jongin when he starts laughing.

"What?" Kyungsoo snaps.

"Well—" Jongin bursts into more laughter.

"Shut up," Kyungsoo growls and kicks his shin. He is not having this conversation with Jongin. Or anyone else for that matter.

 

 

 

Baekhyun is laughing. Just like how Jongin was laughing. Kyungsoo doesn't know why he's friends with them, or why he has friends at all. Clearly, nothing good comes from having them, aside from annoying sounds. Right now, Baekhyun's being very annoying.

"Will you shut up?" Kyungsoo hisses just as Joonmyun shoots him another look from the counter. He knees Baekhyun's ass for good measure, making him yelp like a kicked puppy. "We're in a library."

"So what?" Baekhyun grins at him and hops onto a table, swinging his legs back and forth. "I'm here everyday anyway."

"Exactly," Kyungsoo retorts, shelving the books with more force than he would normally do. "You're here everyday. It's almost as if you don't have a job. Does the hotel owner know that you gallivant all the way to the library to visit your eye candy?" He shoves a hardcopy of some Fyodor Dostoyevsky book back in its place.

"Aww don't be mean," Baekhyun says, leaning back on his hands on the table. "Joonmyun isn't just my eye candy." He leans his head back so he can wink at Joonmyun from around a shelf. A couple of thuds are heard from the counter and Kyungsoo can only assume that Joonmyun had twitched and knocked some books over.

"I really don't get this whole dance thing that you two are doing," Kyungsoo grumbles as he pushes the cart to another aisle.

"You're just a bad dancer," Baekhyun quips with a big grin, following him. "But no worries. Practice makes perfect." He winks and Kyungsoo shudders. He doesn't really want to know what kind of practicing Baekhyun does on the subject.

"Congratulations," Kyungsoo says, rolling his eyes. "What are you doing with me then? Why aren't you doing the rhumba with him?"

"The tango is sexier," Baekhyun tells him with a wiggle of eyebrows. "You think you're so good at changing the subject to me and the love of my life, when you're the one in a dilemma over your incredibly hot and dashing boy toy.” He keeps on wiggling his eyebrows up and down that Kyungsoo immediately thinks on getting some tweezers after work.

"He's not a boy toy, much less mine," Kyungsoo growls.

"Well if you don't want him..." Baekhyun trails away, watching Kyungsoo closely.

"Go away, Baekhyun," Kyungsoo mutters.

He doesn't meet Baekhyun's eyes and just frowns so hard that his eyebrows feel like they're going to fall off. Baekhyun may think he's hilarious with all his joking. It's not that Kyungsoo doesn't want Yixing, assuming they were actually talking about him because who else fits the description incredibly hot and dashing boy toy? He's annoyed because maybe Baekhyun is on to something. Even Jongin, despite only laughing at Kyungsoo about it. Kyungsoo really hates his friends.

"Okay," Baekhyun says, much to Kyungsoo's surprise. "I think I'll go tango with Joonmyun for a bit before I go back to work."

Kyungsoo doesn't say anything and Baekhyun doesn't comment on it, except for a quick ruffle of his hair. Baekhyun does that sometimes. He says it's because Kyungsoo really needs to fix his hair more, but Kyungsoo knows it's his way of showing that he's concerned about Kyungsoo. Which he totally doesn't need to be. Kyungsoo doesn't have problems of the heart. He's sworn them off after Minseok. Maybe even earlier than that.

He finishes the rest of the shelving much faster than when Baekhyun had been distracting him. There's really no time for games or distractions because they normally just make things worse instead of having the fun it usually promises. Maybe if Kyungsoo hurries he can go home earlier and can sleep things off.

The apartment is empty when he gets home. Or it seems to be. When Kyungsoo walks into the living room, there are photographs littered on the living room table. The television and the DVD player is turned on, paused over what seems to be Mulan. He sits on the sofa and picks one photo up. It's one of the Statue of Liberty looming from a distance, after a large expanse of water. Kyungsoo had wondered about going to America before, even having planned a semi-serious trip there with his Seungsoo. He puts the photo down and sees another one of cherry blossoms.

Kyungsoo has read somewhere that they signify new beginnings, a fresh start, and he can't help but snicker at how true that saying is. Too true. He drops the picture and stares as it falls on top of a photo of Shinjuku and the temples of Angkor Wat. It's interesting how one photo can bring back memories he's tried so hard to forget. It's also interesting how, in seeing all the photos of Yixing's travels, Kyungsoo can still get jealous in spite of all his platitudes about not wanting to travel.

Yixing must have been to hundreds of places most people only really ever dream about going to and yet he's been to them all. Once upon a time, Kyungsoo dreamt of traveling the world exactly like what Yixing's doing. But he's found that traveling is risky and can create problems that were never even possible in the first place.

"I was sick then." Yixing takes a seat beside Kyungsoo, soft and gentle as seems to be everything with him, only a few inches between their thighs. He takes the picture of the cherry blossoms and smiles a little, which is only what it takes for his pretty dimples to appear. "But it was the first day of the blossoms and I had to get up and see them," he shares.

Kyungsoo sucks his lower lip in between his teeth, thighs jiggling as he clasps his hands together. "What was it like?" he asks.

"Worth it," Yixing answers. His smile grows, all of his white teeth showing as he looks at him. "I felt better as I kept walking around. By the time I got back to my hostel, I didn't feel sick at all. Maybe it's the whole new beginnings and all. Maybe it was curing."

Kyungsoo shoots him a look. "That sounds really cliche," he scoffs. Yixing shrugs, still smiling. Kyungsoo rolls his eyes and takes a look at all of the photos. "What's your favorite place you've been to so far?"

Yixing purses his lips as he gives a thoughtful look over the pictures. Kyungsoo follows the way his eyes traces photo after photo, from Bali to Palawan to Nagoya to Beijing and everywhere else in the world. Kyungsoo might be more than a little jealous.

"I'll get back to you on that," Yixing finally says, grinning at him. "I'll tell you somewhere I want to go, though." Kyungsoo raises his eyebrows in question. "Jeju Island."

"Why?" Kyungsoo asks in surprise. He shakes his head and recovers. "I mean, of course you would want to. As part of your job."

Yixing smiles. "Not just that," he corrects him. "I hear Jeju is a beautiful place so I would go there whether if it's for my job or not." He shrugs. "Maybe you should go with me when I go next week?"

"Hmm. I don't know if I'll be able to get away from work for that," Kyungsoo murmurs, leaning back on the sofa and putting his legs under him as he makes himself more comfortable. He doesn't really want to go on any trips with Yixing alone. He doesn't want to go on any trips at all. But the more Kyungsoo gets to talk to Yixing, the more he learns about him, the more he realizes how much of a warm person he is. He's too hot for Kyungsoo's taste and he wrinkles his nose at the thought. "Why are you watching Mulan?" he changes the subject.

"When I miss home," Yixing chuckles, scratching the back of his neck in what seems to be embarrassment, "I watch it. Believe it or not, my parents love this cartoon."

Yixing is in his twenties and he loves watching Disney movies. How cute—NOPE. Kyungsoo shakes the thought away. Instead, he takes the remotes and plays the movie, ignoring the way Yixing looks at him in surprise. After a couple of seconds, Yixing leans back on the sofa and wiggles to a more comfortable position. It shouldn't bother Kyungsoo, except Yixing is pressed against him, even though there's a lot of space on the other side of Yixing.

"Do you mind—" Kyungsoo starts to push him away because there is only so much Yixing he can take. But then Yixing turns to him with bright, happy eyes and then Kyungsoo is saying something else. "Do you mind if I watch with you?"

Yixing leans back on the couch as he tilts his head, looking at Kyungsoo. The look is long and appraising and Kyungsoo shifts away a bit because overstepping boundaries isn't something he wants to do. Watching Mulan is probably something that Yixing does in his alone time and the last thing Kyungsoo wants is to break some tradition that Yixing gets comfort in alone.

He's about to get off the couch and maybe crawl under the covers of his bed when Yixing smiles. And then puts an arm around his shoulders to pull him close. "Mulan is more enjoyable with someone else," he agrees, while Kyungsoo tries not to have a heart attack.

Kyungsoo doesn't move the whole night. Even when Yixing falls asleep on him.

 

 

 

Yixing seems intent to give Kyungsoo a permanent heart seizure. The Mulan movie night cuddling didn't appear to be enough, because now Kyungsoo has this impression that Yixing is everywhere. As if that night several days ago was permission for him to be constantly in Kyungsoo's space, smiling at him, leaning on him, touching him. It's driving Kyungsoo insane.

He jumps about a mile high when he feels a hand on his back. He muffles his scream with a hand and turns to swipe with the other. Yixing can't keep on following him everywhere, especially not in the library where he's supposed to concentrate on doing his job.

"Whoa." Jongdae has both hands up.

Kyungsoo closes his eyes in relief and turns back to the shelf. "Sorry," he breathes. "I thought... I thought you were someone else."

"Are you hiding from someone?" Jongdae teases.

"No," Kyungsoo grumbles. He turns to push the cart to another aisle so he can get away from the questioning.

"Is it a cute boy?" Jongdae continues.

"What makes you think it's a cute boy?" Kyungsoo wants to stomp his feet and throw a tantrum because, no, Jongdae isn't going to be another one of his friends who finds out about Yixing and teases him about it.

"Because there's one up-front looking for you," Jongdae answers like it's not life threatening for Kyungsoo to have Yixing in his place of work.

Kyungsoo whirls around, his jacket flying up behind him, and true enough Yixing is standing by the counter, talking to Joonmyun and Baekhyun. Kyungsoo's jaw hurts with how hard he clenches it. Yixing is giggling at something Joonmyun is telling him with Baekhyun's arm slung over his shoulders.

"Kyungsoo, look who's here for you," Baekhyun says, squeezing Yixing with glee. "Yixing."

Kyungsoo ignores Baekhyun because Baekhyun is meant to be ignored. He focuses his attention on Yixing, who smiles at Kyungsoo like he's happy to see him, like they hadn't seen each other that morning.

"He says he's come to pick you up after your shift," Joonmyun relays as he glances up at the clock, "which is right about now." He slaps a hand on Kyungsoo's arm. "Off you go," he says, grinning at him and Yixing. "Have fun!"

"Have fun where?" Kyungsoo demands, looking at Yixing.

"He says you two have plans to do the laundry," Baekhyun tells him in a singsong voice, resting his chin on his hand, eyebrows wiggling. "How romantic." Joonmyun places a hand on his arm, probably to stop him from teasing Kyungsoo mercilessly, and Baekhyun leans against him.

Kyungsoo gives Yixing a look that he hopes says how embarrassing this whole scenario is. He really hopes he can blame Yixing for actually picking him up so they can do laundry, but given that the last time Yixing did laundry by himself he turned everything to the color red. Jongin didn't mind because he likes the color red. Kyungsoo hates it.

"We are doing the laundry," Kyungsoo repeats with a sigh. He takes his identification card off and hands it to Joonmyun. "I guess I'll see you guys tomorrow." He doesn't look at Baekhyun when he whistles in teasing and he definitely doesn't flinch when Yixing wraps an arm around his waist as they walk out of the library.

Yixing doesn't really take his arm off Kyungsoo's waist until they get back home. He keeps his arm around Kyungsoo the whole time, their clothes rubbing together and making Kyungsoo drunk with how nice Yixing smells. Kyungsoo hates that Yixing smells good, like some hunky aftershave meant to make Kyungsoo sick to his stomach over him.

Before he can stop himself, he turns his face toward Yixing's neck and sniffs—he sniffs like a goddamn dog unable to turn away from a delicious treat. Kyungsoo supposes Yixing can qualify as a delicious treat, what with those chest and abs and arms, that is if Kyungsoo was a dog. Which he isn't. Still, it doesn't stop Kyungsoo from blurting things out.

"You smell nice," is what comes out of his mouth and almost immediately Kyungsoo stiffens because oh my god. He doesn't move because he's afraid that if he does, he's going to end up doing or saying something equally ridiculous and embarrassing. Except when he doesn't move, he ends up keeping his face pressed against Yixing's neck, which is worse. He stumbles back, away from Yixing's grasp and bumps onto the back of the couch, tumbling backwards.

Kyungsoo scrambles to his feet almost immediately, clawing at the couch to get grounded. That did not just happen. He didn't just fall backwards over the couch and face plant on the floor. This is the worst thing that could have happened, after the snuggling, after the sniffing and after the voicing out of how Yixing's manly scent is glorious. The worst. Kyungsoo is losing fast in this relationship. Yixing probably thinks he's an idiot or thinks he's stupid or dumb or something equally low and shameful.

He moves to slink away as if he can go unnoticed, but Yixing tugs him back with a smile on his face.

"You smell nice," Yixing tells him. Kyungsoo blinks. Is this how they're going to flirt with each other? Not that Kyungsoo thinks Yixing is flirting with him because Kyungsoo is certainly not flirting with Yixing. Nope. "I borrowed your toiletries," he explains.

"Oh," Kyungsoo mutters. Wow, he just basically told himself that he smelled nice. He didn’t realize that he was this conceited. "Right. Of course."

"Is that a problem?" Yixing asks, sounding uncertain with his brows furrowed, lower lip sucked in between his teeth. "Because Jongin said—"

"It's alright," Kyungsoo says, waving him off. He wonders how weird it is that Yixing smells like him. "So, um, laundry?"

Yixing nods. And then he takes his shirt off.

"What are you doing?" Kyungsoo yelps, taking another step back because he is seeing Yixing in his full glory—or, well, semi-full glory. There is so much skin—neck, shoulders, collarbones, arms, pecs, abs and that trail... He looks away, coughing rather violently.

"Laundry," Yixing tells him as if that is reason enough to start stripping in the middle of the living room in front of innocent people. He slings his shirt over a shoulder and his hands move to his pants zipper.

"Stop!" Kyungsoo wails, holding both his hands up before Yixing does something like take his pants off in front of Kyungsoo and kill him. "Just... over here, we do laundry with our clothes on."

Kyungsoo pulls his hair when Yixing makes a sound of wonderment at that. He does not picture Yixing doing the laundry naked. Not at all.

 

 

 

"Did Yixing really do the laundry properly this time?" Jongin pokes his head out of his room the moment he hears Kyungsoo walk into the apartment. There's a clean white shirt dangling from his hand.

"With major help," Kyungsoo tells him as he drops to the couch and curls up in it. It's been a pretty long day at work. He had to go in early because Jongdae had a family thing out of town. It's been a whole day of sorting out the new books that had come in last week. Joonmyun wasn't much of a help since he had to be up front. That, and Baekhyun was there to flirt with him again.

"Figures," Jongin chuckles, walking to the living room to take a seat on the couch, the shirt now on him. He arranges Kyungsoo so that his head is on Jongin's lap.

"It's progress," Kyungsoo says, yawning instead of smiling the way he wants to just at the thought of Yixing. He doesn't tell Jongin about how Yixing stared blankly at the washing machine before turning to Kyungsoo for what to do. He doesn't share how Yixing had cried out with joy when he found out how easy it was to wash clothes with a machine. Apparently, he'd been doing everything by hand for his past travels. He doesn't tell Jongin how cute it was. "He said he's going to finish folding the rest of it later."

"Looks like he's doing quite well here," Jongin comments, running his fingers through Kyungsoo's hair, which sends pangs of something in Kyungsoo's heart. "Seems to be fitting in quite well," he adds. Kyungsoo knows that Jongin's seen Yixing hang out with Baekhyun, even Joonmyun and Chanyeol and is happy with the development.

"It's nice that he likes it here," Kyungsoo mutters, sighing with contentment at the way Jongin is massaging his scalp. He thinks about all the pictures that Yixing shows him of his day-to-day city trips out and how it shows how much he's enjoying his stay. "How's your draft going?"

"It's with the artist," Jongin tells him as he leans his head back. "Chanyeol and I will go through everything maybe in two weeks." Kyungsoo sits up so Jongin can lean his head on his shoulder. "We're sending out advance copies in the next couple of months for reviews and then it'll probably be out in the market in the next year or so."

"So proud of you," Kyungsoo sighs as Jongin snuggles to him. It's always like this, them getting comfort from each other because they know they always have each other. It's one of the few cliche things that Kyungsoo has allowed himself to believe. Jongin would always be there for him no matter what "feelings" or their non-existence that are involved in the process. "I'm surprised you aren't with Chanyeol, though," he goes on. It's about time he starts acknowledging the fact that Chanyeol is in the picture.

"I've been told that I need to be around more," Jongin admits and Kyungsoo straightens up to look at him. He half smiles, half grimaces when Kyungsoo raises an eyebrow. "Baekhyun thinks I'm skirting my best friend duties."

"Best friend duties," Kyungsoo repeats because he doesn't remember ever listing down duties that Jongin or Baekhyun needed to do for him. Maybe disappearing is a duty for them that he should list down.

"Best friend duties," Jongin reiterated with a firmness and fierceness that surprises Kyungsoo. "I feel like we haven't really talked lately." He hedges in his seat, slightly putting more space between them, for Kyungsoo to know how uneasy this conversation makes him feel. "About... about stuff."

"Stuff," Kyungsoo says. He knows what Jongin is talking about, has been waiting for Jongin to breach the subject and continue it ever since they had first talked about it at Yixing's arrival. It's interesting how much time has passed since then, and how things have changed.

"Well," Jongin starts, ruffling his hair.

"Jongin, you really don't have to go through all this trouble," Kyungsoo assures him with a pat on his thigh. "I'm fine. I mean, sure, maybe I really was lonely but with Yixing being around, it's really been—"

"So it's true." There's a big smile on Jongin's face that speaks of happy things like birthdays, Valentine's Days and Christmases with a plethora of food and chicken that Jongin loves. It's an interesting smile and one that makes Kyungsoo blush because he knows exactly what it means. "Yixing is getting to you."

"Whoever told you that is lying," Kyungsoo snorts and makes a move to get off the couch to go to the kitchen because the kitchen is a safe place.

"So are you saying that I'm lying?" Jongin challenges. Kyungsoo turns around and narrows his eyes at him. "I'm just saying. I have eyes, too." Kyungsoo sighs in exasperation because there is nothing he can do or say in this situation that would make Jongin think otherwise. "You're not denying it."

"I think I need to go to a doctor," Kyungsoo says, making Jongin raise his eyebrows in concern.

"Everything okay?" Jongin asks, climbing on a stool.

"I don't know," Kyungsoo answers as he sits across Jongin. "Sometimes I get these chest aches and have shortness of breath. Maybe I have heartburn or something. It's been happening a lot and it really worries me." He frowns at the counter and plays with his fingers. It's been really worrying him. He's not one to have panic attacks or anything of the like, but he has had some sort of heart aches after his mom left after their family trip to China and when he and Minseok broke up. This is probably something similar, except it isn't because there is nothing happening in his life concerning his heart.

"That does sound serious," Jongin agrees. There's a quirk in one corner of his lips that he hides by bowing his head for a second before looking back up. "Except you should know that heartburn is actually an indigestion problem and not a chest or breathing or even a heart problem."

"Right," Kyungsoo sighs, getting up to start preparing dinner.

"Maybe I should make dinner," Jongin offers, standing up as well. Kyungsoo coughs in a rather violent manner. "Hey, I can make dinner," he defends himself with such chagrin that Kyungsoo bursts into laughter. "Tell him, Yixing. I've made dinner for you before."

Kyungsoo chokes on his own spit when he sees Yixing walk into the kitchen being... Yixing. Sexy. And there's that heartburn, chest ache, something again. He reaches up to rub at his chest as he shakes his head. "I'm going to make dinner," he announces, smiling a little at Yixing. "It's unfortunate you got to experience Jongin's cooking, Yixing."

"Hey," Jongin whines at the same time Yixing says, "Very."

Kyungsoo and Jongin both look at Yixing in varying states of surprise before bursting into loud laughter. Yixing stands there, grinning, before moving towards the stove. "Maybe I should make dinner," he suggests. "For you guys this time."

"Let's do a collab!" Jongin perks up, excited at the prospect of getting something to do for Kyungsoo.

"You two are going to burn down the kitchen," Kyungsoo almost yells his refusal. "Jongin, you know why," he adds when Jongin opens his mouth to protest and then turns to Yixing with, "Yixing, I know you can cook but there's only so much Kimchi fried rice that we can take." He pats his cheek as he moves around the kitchen towards the stove, failing to notice Jongin's steady eyes on him.

"Hey, Yixing," Jongin speaks up when Kyungsoo already has the stove up and running, rice already in the pan. "What do you say to hijacking the kitchen from Kyungsoo tonight?"

Kyungsoo freezes because he knows that tone. It's one that suggests mischief and something that means that he's definitely not going to be able to do anything about it. Slowly, he turns around and sees Jongin with an idiotic grin on his face and Yixing smiling a little, like he's already agreeing to the plan.

"Jongin," Kyungsoo warns him, furrowing his brows. The last time something like this happened, it did not end well.

"What?" Jongin teases, clapping a hand on Yixing's back. "I'm pretty sure we can whip something up just the two of us. Something for you."

"I like this idea," Yixing finally speaks up his agreement, which has Kyungsoo sighing again. "If only for the fact that Kyungsoo is resisting.” In the time that Yixing has spent with them, he’s learned how to become teasing and mischievous. Kyungsoo knew he shouldn’t have ever introduced him to Baekhyun. It’s his biggest mistake to date and now it’s backfiring on him.

"What," Kyungsoo blurts out, eye twitching. "I just don't want to die in my own apartment." Just what is going on here? As far as he knows, Yixing and Jongin barely spent even just half a day combined together and now they're having fun ganging up on Kyungsoo like they're best buddies. It must be Baekhyun’s doing somehow.

"See, Yixing gets it," Jongin responds with glee. "It's fun watching you squirm when people want to do things for you." Kyungsoo scowls and Jongin laughs. "This is getting better and better. C'mon just once before Yixing leaves. Would you want some curry ramyun or maybe some—"

"You play dirty," Kyungsoo grumbles, already stomping away from the kitchen. Kyungsoo would marry curry ramyun if he could, although that probably won't be wise seeing as that would kind of be very strange because it's food and you can't marry food. He could marry the person making the food but that would mean Yixing and—definitely not finishing that thought. Marrying Jongin is, of course, not an option. Goodness, what has his brain come to!

Yixing intercepts him before he gets to leave the kitchen with an arm around his waist and his cheek pressed to his. Kyungsoo dies a little inside. Or rather, he dies a lot because Yixing. Arm. Around. His. Waist. Help.

"Don't be mad, Soo," Yixing coos and Kyungsoo kind of freezes because since when has he and Yixing been close enough for Soo? "It'll be delicious and then I'll finish with the laundry.” Kyungsoo tries to breathe calmly.

"You better," Kyungsoo says, making a face and then rolling his eyes. "On all accounts.” Dinner better be delicious and the laundry better be done because if not, he’ll… well he’s not sure what he’ll do to Yixing. He’s not sure what he can do to Yixing. Although he has some ideas… most aren’t really punishment in his opinion.

"Maybe you two can fold it together," Jongin suggests from where he's leaning his back against the counter, watching them with so much amusement. Kyungsoo wants to poke his eyes out of their sockets.

"I would want to fold laundry with you," Yixing agrees with delight, his arm around Kyungsoo tightening, pulling Kyungsoo closer to him, which Kyungsoo just doesn't understand. All this sweetness and touchiness and wanting to fold laundry with him is making him catch his breath every time and he doesn't understand it. He's not entirely sure he wants to understand.

"Fine," Kyungsoo gives in as if it's a struggle to. He squirms out of Yixing's hold and goes to his room. "Call me when dinner is ready and please don't burn anything."

"Got it," Jongin says, winking at Kyungsoo when he turns to glare at him.

 

 

 

"So!" Baekhyun slaps a magazine down on the table so loud that it echoes around the library. Kyungsoo looks up at him with a glare he's given Baekhyun so well that it doesn't have much of an effect anymore. "I heard from a little bird—well, okay maybe not a little bird—that Yixing asked you to go to Jeju with him."

Kyungsoo's look turns startled, mouth opening and then closing when he finds that he doesn't know what to say. That Jeju invitation, which seemed like something only in passing, feels so long ago. All he really remembers from that conversation is that Yixing cuddled to him like they've known each other for a long time, like he didn't care about being so close to Kyungsoo to the point of even falling asleep on him. And that Kyungsoo felt like he was going to have a heart attack. That was it.

"What," Kyungsoo stammers because clearly the whole Jeju thing is an even bigger issue than he realized with the way Baekhyun is half glaring, half smirking at him. He wants to smack Baekhyun’s face twice.

"Jeju," Baekhyun says, sliding the magazine towards Kyungsoo.

Kyungsoo closes his laptop where he's been researching for new books that the library could get and looks at the magazine. It's a travel magazine featuring, of course, Jeju Island. He traces the letters of the magazine name and looks at Baekhyun.

"Okay," Kyungsoo responds, not entirely sure what he's supposed to be saying. So Yixing invited him to go to Jeju Island with him, so what? What is he supposed to do about that? There’s nothing really. He doesn’t have to do anything.

Baekhyun huffs so hard that Kyungsoo can almost see the air coming out of his nose. He climbs on the seat across from him and places his hands flat on the table. "Really? That's all you have to say?" he presses and Kyungsoo is even more confused at how urgent he sounds. "Yixing, the really hot guy in your apartment, the one you clearly have a crush on," he bares his canines when Kyungsoo opens his mouth to violently protest, "has invited you to go to Jeju Island with him and you say no? Really?"

“I—I didn't realize that it was such a big deal," Kyungsoo answers, baffled. Yixing had mentioned it so casually and had never mentioned it again that Kyungsoo really didn’t think it was that important. For Kyungsoo to come along, he means. "I mean, he said it in passing and I do have work and—"

"Kyungsoo, are we really going to go through all your excuses again?" Baekhyun interrupts. His eyes are hard on Kyungsoo. It’s one of those rare times that Kyungsoo supposes Baekhyun is going to push him.

"They're not excuses!" Kyungsoo defends himself, pushing the magazine away and leaning back on his seat to cross his arms over his chest. They're not. Not wanting to travel because he's content with his life has never been an excuse. It's just a fact. "They're facts. I do have work, which, unlike you, I take seriously."

Baekhyun's eyes flash and Kyungsoo immediately feels bad for his words. Baekhyun works hard and it's not fair for Kyungsoo to say those things to him. "I'm going to pretend you didn't just insinuate that I don't take my work seriously," he retorts and instead opens the magazine to the page of the Jeju Island feature before pushing it back towards Kyungsoo. "It's not China. You don't even have to take the plane if you don't want to, but don't turn it down just because you're scared."

"I'm not—I didn't—“ Kyungsoo stutters. He bites his lower lip as he looks down at the open page of the magazine. There are days when it gets harder to deny things, especially when it's shoved in his face by his best friends. It actually gets harder and harder with each passing day because it gets easier to forget things. And once you forget, you don’t even remember what you’re denying anymore.

"It's just a trip," Baekhyun continues, tone calmer, more soothing. "It doesn't have to mean anything. Yixing is also your friend." He sighs as he moves around the counter to put an arm around Kyungsoo. "It's also just Jeju Island."

"Oh you mean that island that romantic couples go to," Kyungsoo comments. He flips through the pages of the magazine and sees all the places he'd been to before, once, with his family too. What is to be gained by going there again at an age where he can probably appreciate it more, and with a man that has all the potential to be so much more than Minseok was, maybe even more than Jongin?

"Just an island," Baekhyun repeats, squeezing Kyungsoo’s shoulder. "Just a vacation. Just Yixing."

"With just Kyungsoo," Kyungsoo finishes.

"With just Kyungsoo," Baekhyun confirms, and there's a smile on his face that tells Kyungsoo that he already knows this Jeju thing is going to happen.

 

 

 

Kyungsoo is just a guy. Jeju is just an island. Yixing is just wonderful. Maybe he should rephrase that last sentence. Yixing is incredible, in that one-of-a-kind, too sweet, too nice, such a gentleman, oh my god how does someone like him exist kind of way.

They've only been on the island for two days and it's already becoming one of the best vacations Kyungsoo has been on. It doesn't take rocket science to know that it's probably all because of Yixing and nothing to do at all with Jeju Island. Not that it isn't beautiful.

It's nice to remember how beautiful the sea and flowers are. But it's so much nicer to be away. It's been a long time since he's stepped out of Seoul. But Yixing has been nothing but sweet, taking care of accommodations, making sure Kyungsoo is comfortable and happy, opening doors for him, pulling chairs for him, putting a hand on his back... It's almost like, if and when Kyungsoo allows himself to think about it, it's almost like Yixing is wooing him. But why would he do that? Why would anyone do that for him? Sighing, Kyungsoo shifts in his seat, legs crossed indian style as he cranes his neck to look for Yixing. Yixing wanted to look at the view and watch the sea from some high point and now here they are, Kyungsoo sitting on the meadow with rows of plants and grass stretched everywhere and Yixing at the edge of the cliff overlooking the ocean and taking pictures. If Kyungsoo were to say how this whole thing is going, he'd say he's having fun.

"I've been here before," Yixing tells him later on, sprawled on the grass beside him. His arm is outstretched above him, fingers tracing the clouds with a dreamy smile on his face. "With my ex."

"Oh," Kyungsoo responds, back straightening. The grass scratches at his arms so he crosses them over his chest. Of course Yixing has an ex. He probably has a lot of them seeing as he's so... Yixing. For some reason, though, it's never occurred to him for Yixing to have dated or to be dating. Swallowing, he wonders if Yixing is dating. On the other hand, he's not entirely sure if that's something he wants to know the answer to.

He catches the gaze that Yixing throws his way at the corner of his eye. But Kyungsoo is determined to look straight ahead, closing his eyes and feeling the wind on his face. He tries to focus on the nature around him. The grass is prickly under his palms and fingertips and the breeze is cool on his face. It relaxes him somewhat, but still, the intensity of Yixing’s eyes on him heats his face. There is something behind that look that Kyungsoo isn’t sure he understands. When he can’t take it anymore, he opens his eyes and looks right back at Yixing.

“What?” Kyungsoo prompts him straightforwardly. Yixing is sitting back up, hands clasped together on his lap.

“You’re not going to ask?” It’s like a nudge for Kyungsoo to actually press the issue rather than a demand to not ask. Yixing’s dimple appears as he forces a smile on his face.

Kyungsoo does want to ask. Yixing seems like he would be a dream boyfriend and Kyungsoo wonders why his past relationship didn’t work out. But he’s not going to. It may not be applicable to all cases, but Kyungsoo has found that the truth hurts too much sometimes and it would be best that if it didn’t come out.

“Talking about exes isn’t really my forte,” is what Kyungsoo responds with instead, kind of returning the invitation back to him. Yixing startles at this, back straightening. He blinks several times wordlessly at Kyungsoo before Kyungsoo chuckles.

“I don’t think it’s anyone’s forte,” Yixing returns with a more genuine smile, but he drops the subject to Kyungsoo’s relief.

They fall into a comfortable silence after that. Yixing lies down on his back again and Kyungsoo follows him down on the grass. Kyungsoo’s thoughts turn to Minseok, the only well-defined relationship he’s had. They weren’t together very long, probably just a little over six months, but it gutted him when they broke it off, or rather, when Minseok broke up with him.

Minseok did court Kyungsoo for around that same time. Kyungsoo had been resistant, even going as far as telling Minseok no, I’m not interested several times because he wasn’t ready and because he was afraid, but Minseok had persisted. He said that he liked Kyungsoo and that nothing was going to stop him from wanting to get to know him better and from, maybe, being his boyfriend. Kyungsoo was charmed by that. Persistence is big in his book; the continuance of a course of action despite difficulty or opposition, according to the dictionary. He likes it when someone is willing to go the extra mile even when they’re unsure of the results. Kyungsoo also values the continued presence that persistency brings. Minseok showed that he had those qualities.

Eventually, Kyungsoo caved and agreed to be Minseok’s boyfriend. He wasn’t in love with him; he didn’t even feel for Minseok how he’s felt for Jongin. But it didn’t matter. Love and relationship requires effort and Kyungsoo was willing to make it work. And they did make it work. For a while, at least. They went out on dates, held hands, kissed, cuddled. Minseok picked him up from work and then brought him home. They were happy. Or so Kyungsoo thought.

It wasn’t a big break-up. It wasn’t messy. No one even cried. But when Minseok had told him that it wasn’t working out, that it wasn’t what he expected and that they should break it off, it felt like Kyungsoo’s heart was being squeezed by a fist he couldn’t shake off. Sure, it wasn’t love. But to be left again felt like Kyungsoo was hard to love and he hated that feeling.

He’s pulled out of his reverie when he feels a hand grip his tightly. Kyungsoo blinks at Yixing’s slightly larger hand covering his, slowly coaxing it out of the tight fist he was holding it in. He swallows, not entirely sure how to act, even considers pulling away. But he doesn’t. He tightens his fist for a second before turning his palm upward to meet Yixing’s.

There have been slight touches on the back, arms around each other’s shoulders or waists; there have even been cuddles. Yixing is naturally affectionate and Kyungsoo has accepted that, even if he wasn’t so comfortable with it in the beginning. That’s who Yixing is by default. But there hasn’t been anything like this, nothing this forward. Because they’re friends, and friends don’t really do things like holding hands. Although they really don’t cuddle either. Except for Jongin. Or Baekhyun. Or—so Kyungsoo’s argument is invalid. Still. It’s different with Yixing somehow. Because Yixing came out of nowhere with his sunny smiles and optimistic personality and his constant touches, disarming Kyungsoo and everything he’s worked so hard to build around him.

Kyungsoo holds his breath when Yixing intertwines their fingers together ever so slowly. There’s another second of doubt that niggles in his mind, that almost makes him think that this isn’t a good idea and that he should take his hand back. But then Yixing is suddenly holding his hand, and Kyungsoo… Kyungsoo just lets him.

Kyungsoo doesn’t look at Yixing, isn’t entirely sure he would see what he wants to see, or what he’s afraid he would see. So he just leans his head back and closes his eyes, breathing in and out. They’re in Jeju Island. Surely, there’s another time and place to figure out complicated actions and the complicated feelings that go with them.

“I’m glad I came here,” Yixing speaks up. Kyungsoo shifts a little but still doesn’t look at him. “It’s nice to just lie here and look at the sky. It’s nice to be able to just close your eyes and feel the breeze with no urgency to go to places."

This makes Kyungsoo look at him, gaping with surprise. “But you like traveling,” he states. Yixing really does, if the amount of random pictures that he has and the way he continues to do so for his job, in spite of any discomfort, is any indication. There’s also the fact that Yixing always looks happy.

Yixing chuckles, his eyes turning into slits as he regards Kyungsoo. “Of course I do,” he says. “I love it even,” he then amends. “But there are also days when I think about what it would be like to just stay in one place, a place where I can live in for longer than several months time and work there."

“Most people want to get out there and see the world,” Kyungsoo tells him, a chuckle bursting out of his lips before he can stop it, “and here you are, telling me that you want the exact opposite.” His friends have ragged on about him not wanting to leave or being too comfortable where he is and not wanting to see what’s out there. They’ve never really understood. Although, Kyungsoo can see where they’re coming from. Kyungsoo not wanting to travel isn’t mostly because he’s completely settled in. There’s also some fear in there somewhere.

“I’ve already done that,” is Yixing’s reply, “for several years. I think I might want something different now.” He smiles a little, turning on his side so he can look at Kyungsoo properly. “Change is inevitable. I’m thinking it’s time for me. Unless…” The smile on his face disappears, his brows furrowing a little and his lower lip in between his teeth.

“Unless what?” Kyungsoo presses, turning on his side to face him as well. For some strange reason, his heart is thudding hard in his chest. He really should go to a doctor some time soon. They’re still holding hands, their arms in weird angles as they face each other, but no one lets go.

“Jongin tells me that you guys have plans to travel soon,” Yixing says and it makes Kyungsoo frown at how swiftly the subject is changed, and to something Kyungsoo hasn’t really thought about. He hasn’t changed his mind about going to China.

“We may have,” Kyungsoo answers as neutrally as he can. “They’ve been planning it for a while now. Baekhyun especially wants to go.” There have been various, on-the-spot, discussions about it over dinner, during phone conversations and even in their messaging group. Jongin, at least, knows how to hold back every now and then, but Baekhyun’s been on a roll about it.

“You don’t sound excited,” Yixing says. His pink lips are pursed and his brows are still furrowed. Kyungsoo wants to reach out and smooth it because Yixing looks better when he’s not worried or concerned about something. He looks best when he’s happy, serene, and Kyungsoo wants to be—Kyungsoo shuts the thought down and shrugs.

“I’m not really a fan of traveling,” Kyungsoo admits and he hates how that makes Yixing kind of sag in some sort of defeat. He hates it when the things he dislikes clashes with his friends’ likes. But Kyungsoo can’t force something, especially not something that makes him afraid he’s going to get hurt again.

Yixing doesn’t say anything. He just squeezes Kyungsoo’s hand and makes Kyungsoo just look at their hands again. It’s interesting how comfortable it is to be like this, to hold hands, like it’s the most natural thing to do.

“I just feel like so much can happen when you travel and I’m not built for those kinds of things,” Kyungsoo releases in a breath. It’s not saying much, but it’s saying something.

“What are you built for then?” Yixing wonders aloud.

What is he built for? “I just think that… there’s nothing wrong with staying,” Kyungsoo says when he gathers his thoughts. “Everyone is so hellbent on leaving and seeing what’s out there when there could be nothing wrong with what’s in here in the first place.” The wind blows and Yixing’s hair flies up. Kyungsoo looks away so he won’t be forced to smooth it back down.

“You like the idea of home,” Yixing elucidates, “and you don’t understand why everyone isn’t satisfied with it.” Kyungsoo startles, their hand-holding getting jostled in the process. Yixing just squeezes back. “You know, not everyone who leaves means to leave. It’s not always for good. Most people come back. Because home is always important."

Kyungsoo doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t want to break Yixing’s optimism about home being important of all things. He’s sure that Yixing has a beautiful home to come back to in China. Kyungsoo shouldn’t dump his concerns on him.

“Changsha is beautiful this time of the year,” Yixing continues when Kyungsoo doesn’t say anything to that. “I miss it. I can’t wait to go back home.” He sounds happy and Kyungsoo hates that it makes his stomach roll.

Kyungsoo swallows, and slowly untangles their fingers. He doesn’t look when Yixing makes a surprised noise as he gets up and dusts his pants. “I think we should get going,” he suggests. The thought of Yixing leaving makes his stomach lurch and it’s not a pleasant feeling. So he doesn’t wait for Yixing to say anything and keeps walking.

 

 

 

“Are you alright?” Yixing is looking at Kyungsoo like he’s crazy for fixing and re-fixing the magazine and manuals in the seat pouch, for shedding so much tissue paper and for just keeping on fidgeting with the seatbelt.

“Sure,” Kyungsoo kind of snaps, slightly annoyed. “I hate flying."

“I didn’t realize that flying scared you so much,” Yixing says, brows furrowed in worry.

Kyungsoo squeezes his eyes shut and takes a deep breath. It wasn’t that he was scared of flying. He actually didn’t hate flying as much as he disliked traveling. But the thought of flying back to Seoul just so Yixing can starts packing his bags doesn’t sit well with him.

“It’s fine,” Kyungsoo mutters, leaning back on his seat and taking another deep breath. “I’m fine.” He’s been doing fine for a long time now. People have left his life before. What’s another one?

“Of course you’re fine,” Yixing teases with a little nudge to his shoulder. “You’re Kyungsoo.” He settles back into his seat, smiling a little.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Kyungsoo asks, the corners of his mouth tilted downwards. “I’m fine because I’m Kyungsoo?” he repeats. He locks and unlocks the seatbelt, the clicking loud and annoying. It’s a ridiculous line of reasoning because Kyungsoo is most certainly not fine because he is Kyungsoo.

Yixing turns to him, smile gentler. “I just meant that you’re always in control of things, always calm and happy with everything,” he explains softly. He has his hands clasped on his own seatbelt, tight, knuckles almost white. Kyungsoo kind of wants to reach out and hold them, but his words make him pause.

“If you think that’s true for a second then…” Kyungsoo trails off, shaking his head and scoffing. He looks out of the window just as the plane lifts off the runway. The beautiful plains and beaches of Jeju go farther and farther away as they go up higher and higher. “No one is always in control of everything."

“I know,” Yixing quietly responds. He shifts in his seat, closer to Kyungsoo that their elbows bump. “We all have moments where we hope we can just release a breath and just be.”

Kyungsoo eyes flick towards Yixing’s lower lip as he bites it. He has the sudden urge to… do nothing. He can’t make a move for something that’s just going to slip through his fingers. “Yeah,” he agrees, almost breathless. “It’s not always easy to do."

“Which one, being in control or…?” Yixing prods, nudging his elbow to Kyungsoo’s.

“Both,” Kyungsoo says with a soft chuckle, making Yixing smile. “But the latter is easier, I think.” He touches his elbow back to Yixing’s.

“You think?” Yixing teases him and Kyungsoo chuckles because Yixing’s dimples are out with his full smile. “So what makes Do Kyungsoo lose control?”

That’s a loaded question if Kyungsoo ever heard one. He opens his mouth to answer when Yixing suddenly puts his arm around his shoulders and he jerks, startled, kicking the seat in front of him and angering the seat owner by accident.

“Sorry,” Kyungsoo mumbles again apologetically when the passenger finally faces forward and stops glaring at him. He leans back on his seat and immediately stiffens when Yixing’s arm catches him, the arm rest gone between them.

“Are you alright?” Yixing’s voice is laced with laughter and Kyungsoo allows it to wash over him.

No, Kyungsoo wants to say. You make me lose control, is another thing. “Being asked if I’m alright probably isn’t good track record for me,” Kyungsoo answers, relaxing and allowing himself to laugh along. This whole thing is ridiculous. So what if Yixing’s arm is around him? So what if Yixing is practically hauling Kyungsoo closer and pressing him to his seat to remind him how hot he is—literally? “But I’m okay,” he says, letting out a breath.

“You’re so wound up for someone who is going home,” Yixing comments as he tilts Kyungsoo’s head to rest on his shoulder. Kyungsoo’s heart dances in his chest as his cheek presses on Yixing’s collarbone. “We’ll be back in Seoul in no time."

Those words squeeze Kyungsoo’s heart and he whimpers before he can stop himself. The definition of home has changed so much for him with everything that has happened. Home used to be about living in a house filled with love and laughter. Home used to be about being with the people he cared about. Home used to be about family and staying together. Now he’s not entirely sure what home is to him anymore. Kyungsoo used to think that home was Seoul, too, even when he and his family lived apart from each other. He has Jongin, and Baekhyun (which he only admits on the days when he feels nice), and that used to be enough.

Kyungsoo isn’t sure if it will be anymore.

Yixing hugs him tighter and Kyungsoo bites his lip as hard as he can to keep himself from letting out a sob when Yixing presses a kiss to his head.

 

 

 

Kyungsoo likes folding clothes. It’s a think-less task, simple, maybe even calming. Left side. Right side. Left sleeve. Right sleeve. Lower half. Upper half. And done, on to the next. It’s easy. So that’s what Kyungsoo does when they get back to Seoul. He folds all the clothes that he finds and when he’s done, he folds them again.

“So!” Baekhyun flops down in front of him him on the edge of the bed, right on the shirt he’s been folding, while Jongin sits on his other side, behind him. “How are you doing?” he asks in that annoying singsong voice he uses when he’s pretending to be nonchalant.

“I’m folding clothes,” Kyungsoo answers in a deadpan tone, “that you are sitting on.” He tries to push Baekhyun off the bed.

“Clothes that you’ve folded ten times,” Baekhyun says with exasperation as he gets up for a second and shoves the clothes he sat on to the floor. Kyungsoo clenches and unclenches his fists. “What is going on with you?” Kyungsoo shifts on the bed so that he’s sitting so far in that his feet are dangling on the edge.

Jongin sighs and puts his arm around him to pull him close. “Is everything okay, Soo?” he asks this time.

Kyungsoo thought he’s been hiding it well, what with him burying himself at work as much as he can and avoiding the apartment. But then Joonmyun started waiting for him to finish his work so they can close the library and go home at the same time. Now Kyungsoo has more time in the apartment than he really wants. He’d really rather not be present for Yixing’s packing, which has been happening all week.

“You shouldn’t leave Yixing out by himself,” Kyungsoo mutters, not meeting either of his friends’ eyes. He knows that they’re just concerned for him but he can’t bring himself to say anything. It would just mean that everything he’s been fighting for the past months has been for nothing. “He’s a guest."

“Is that what this is about?” The way Baekhyun asks is so careful and so gentle that it makes Kyungsoo upset that he is that obvious. Kyungsoo wonders if there was ever a second where his affection for Yixing wasn’t written on his face. “Kyungsoo, I thought you and Yixing were doing well."

“What gave you that idea?” Kyungsoo snorts and lays back down on the bed. Baekhyun and Jongin exchange a look, which he chooses to ignore expertly. There’s been a lot of those lately.

“Uh, you guys have been attached to the hip?” Baekhyun offers. "You two touch each other all the time, which isn’t as inappropriate touching as both of you would’ve liked I’m sure. Plus there’s the fact that you guys went to Jeju Island and then—"

“That was for his job,” Kyungsoo cuts him off, unable to keep his silence. “I simply tagged along.” He knows what Baekhyun is talking about. He’s thought about those things. But he knows better than to think that they mean anything.

“What about you being happy?” Jongin pipes in and Kyungsoo stiffens, which Kyungsoo is pretty sure doesn’t go unnoticed with the way Baekhyun reaches for his hand and squeezes it. “I haven’t seen you this happy in a while, Soo. That’s why we thought you and Yixing were doing well. Because you’ve been smiling more than we’ve ever seen you in a long time. Is that reason enough for you?"

“I don’t know because I’m not entirely sure if I’m actually happy seeing as—“ Kyungsoo starts to explain but doesn’t get very far.

“Please don’t do this with us,” Jongin cuts in. He lies down beside Kyungsoo and so does Baekhyun. They lie on their sides and face him, making Kyungsoo feel a bit trapped. “It’s not bad to feel happy because of another person again. It’s not wrong to let someone in again."

Kyungsoo just scoffs. “I know it’s not wrong,” he tells them. “In fact, I’m not saying anything is wrong at all.” He wiggles in place to push his friends away. “So I’m not sure why we’re all here, having something of a weird cuddling thing?” He sighs in resignation when his friends just press closer on both sides. “Guys, really."

Kyungsoo lets out a chuckle when Baekhyun rests his forehead on his shoulder and when Jongin wraps an arm around his waist. His friends can be ridiculously protective and affectionate sometimes. It usually only happens at a specific time, but Kyungsoo supposes his friends thinks it’s necessary this time.

“It really sucks when you get all sad and mopey,” Baekhuyn mumbles when he presses his lips on the ball of Kyungsoo’s shoulder. “I haven’t seen you that way ever since Yixing—"

“—is not the reason why you think I’m happy,” Kyungsoo interrupts and insists. He pokes Baekhyun’s tummy with his elbow in retaliation for his words. Baekhyun winces, much to Kyungsoo’s satisfaction. “Just because some new guy arrives and I start smiling again doesn’t mean that it’s because of him. I can be happy without romance in my life."

“That is not what we’re saying,” Jongin sighs, tightening his hold on Kyungsoo’s waist. “We’re not telling you that you can only become happy when there’s a guy involved. We’re just saying that we haven’t seen you this happy in a while and we believe that the reason is Yixing."

“And now that Yixing is leaving, you’re sad again,” Baekhyun points out.

“That’s not true,” Kyungsoo denies, shaking his head. He hates that he’s lying but he can’t say it out loud. He can’t admit that he is sad because Yixing is leaving. He can’t confess that Yixing did—does—make him happy, happier than he has been for a while. So what if his friends noticed? Kyungsoo doesn’t care. He didn’t ask for this. He didn’t ask for Yixing and it shouldn’t make a difference that he’s leaving.

“Would angry be a more appropriate description then?” Baekhyun suggests. “Because, let me tell you, if I hear Jongdae tell me about how you’ve snapped at work again today, I’m going to punch him.” He purses his lip and frowns as he pauses. “Or maybe I should punch you. But then Joonmyun starts going on about being patient and letting you come to terms with things and then he cuts me off with a kiss and then I kiss him back and then—"

“Please don’t tell us what happens next,” Jongin begs, burying his face in the space between the bed and Kyungsoo’s shoulder.

Kyungsoo can feel Baekhyun’s smirk on his shoulder. “Well,” Baekhyun continues with smug satisfaction on his lips. “I guess we both have a habit of getting carried away."

There’s silence after that. Kyungsoo closes his eyes and revels in it. They haven’t really hung out just the three of them in a while. Baekhyun’s been busy with Joonmyun, Jongin’s been busy with writing and probably with Chanyeol and Kyungsoo… well he supposes he can say that he has been busy with Yixing. It’s kind of depressing that this has to be the reason for them to have another one of their heart-to-heart talks.

“Look, I’m not trying to be hardheaded,” Kyungsoo starts. “But Yixing is leaving.” Jongin and Baekhyun both suck in a breath that tells Kyungsoo they're about to speak up and protest. “And regardless of what I feel,” he hurries on. “He’s still leaving. It doesn’t change anything.” He sits up and pats their thighs. “Now let’s stop talking cooping ourselves up here and spend time with him before he leaves."

Jongin sighs as he gets off the bed and stretches. Surprisingly, he doesn’t say anything, but just leaves the room and closes the door behind him. Of course it would be too much of a good thing for Baekhyun to do the same thing.

“I’m going to say it now,” Baekhyun voices out as he stands up and stares down at Kyungsoo. “You’re making a mistake."

“By being realistic?” Kyungsoo reminds him.

“By being closed off,” Baekhyun interjects. “If you just tell him how you feel—"

“No,” Kyungsoo shuts the idea down before Baekhyun can even finish saying. “No,” he repeats when Baekhyun starts to disapprove. “I am not going to put Yixing in the position of having to leave someone behind with feelings he doesn’t know how to return.” It hurts him to say it. Yixing is kind, sweet and caring. But those aren’t indications of romantic feelings and Kyungsoo knows better than to think otherwise.

“That’s the thing,” Baekhyun argues. “You don’t know that. You don’t know what he’s thinking or feeling because you’ve never talked about it. If you just tell him—"

“He’s leaving the day after tomorrow, Baekhyun,” Kyungsoo retorts in the calm and low-voiced manner that has Baekhyun shutting up. “There’s no reason to put ourselves through that without having any time to properly deal with it. Some people have all the time to have a relationship and those don’t even end well. I can’t imagine what it would be like for this one."

“Kyungsoo, not everyone is like your mother,” Baekhyun almost pleads to him. “Not everyone is just going to get up and leave."

“Yixing and I don’t even know each other that well,” Kyungsoo snaps, getting up from the bed and facing Baekhyun. “What makes you think that this would be any different?"

Baekhyun doesn’t say anything for a second. “Because Yixing is different,” he reiterates. “Because you can actually do something about it this time."

Kyungsoo shoves his hands in his pockets and just takes a deep breath. Baekhyun is the type who speaks up all the time and asks for what he wants. But Kyungsoo finds complication in that and he can’t risk what happened with his family and, on a lesser extent, Minseok happen again.

“It’s fine,” Kyungsoo assures him. “It’s fine.” He pulls Baekhyun into a hug when Baekhyun makes a face at him. “Thank you for being concerned."

“Of course I’m concerned, you idiot,” Baekhyun tells him, slapping his back as he returns the hug. “For some reason, I care about you."

“And we all know how hard that is for you,” Kyungsoo teases as they pull away. “I wonder how Joonmyun passed the test.” He raises his eyebrows when Baekhyun actually blushes. Baekhyun doesn’t blush much, but he tends to do it a lot when it comes to Joonmyun.

“Shut up,” Baekhyun mutters and slaps Kyungsoo’s back again before leaving the room. “C’mon, let’s see what Jongin and Yixing are up to."

Kyungsoo looks up at the ceiling. It’s just a couple more hours until Yixing leaves. It’s just a couple of hours more until Kyungsoo goes back to how things were, him being happy by himself. He takes a deep breath and goes back out.

 

 

 

“Do you have everything you need?” Kyungsoo asks when he sees Yixing stuffing some things in his bag when he gets home from work.

The only bag Yixing brought along with him is his large grey backpack, which he never really unpacked. But now it’s full and ready to be slung over a shoulder and taken home. Seeing it makes Kyungsoo breathe deeply and force the smile on his face when Yixing nods with a smile.

“Yeah,” Yixing confirms, zipping up his bag. He walks to the kitchen. “I was just about to grab some lunch outside and then grab some groceries so that you have something to cook for when Jongin gets back.” Kyungsoo startles at Yixing remembering that Jongin’s due to come back to the apartment within the week. They’re finalizing some details for his upcoming book.

“Uh okay,” Kyungsoo says as he follows him to the kitchen. Yixing opens the refrigerator and some cupboards, checking for what needs to be restocked. “You know you don’t have to, right? I can take care of it. Jongin won’t be coming back in two days or so anyway so it’s not urgent."

“I don’t mind,” Yixing states with a nonchalant shrug. “It’s the least I can do for you guys letting me stay here."

Kyungsoo shoots him a look. “You’ve done more than enough for us,” he declares. “Besides, it’s not like you were a hardship to be around.” He gives him a smile, a genuine one because he is telling the truth. Yixing staying with them was a great time for all of them. “So just relax. It’s your last day. You don’t want to spend it doing groceries."

“I really don’t mind,” Yixing says again, walking back out of the kitchen to the living room. He slips on his satchel and turns to Kyungsoo with a look that can only be described as hopeful. “Do you want to come with me?"

“To grocery shopping?” Kyungsoo raises an eyebrow, one corner of his lips quirking up.

“I thought you said I didn’t have to,” Yixing responds with a smirk of his own. He moves his sling bag to his back. “But I was thinking I’d go walk around instead and that… you could come with me.” He has a hopeful smile on his face and, really, how can Kyungsoo say no to that?

They end up in N Seoul Tower for some reason. Of all places, this is what Yixing chooses to go to on his last day. The good thing is it’s not as cold as the last time they were there, even though it still really is cold. The bad thing about that is Kyungsoo would have no excuse to be close to Yixing’s bod—just Yixing—he would have no excuse to be close. In actuality, Kyungsoo doesn’t have a reason to be close to Yixing at all, seeing as they are friends and friends don’t normally cuddle randomly in the middle of a public street. That, and there’s really no reason to make things even more complicated.

“So…” Kyungsoo claps his hands together and clasps them. “What do you want to do? Sight-see? Take photos? Lock your own padlock?” He chuckles at the thought of Yixing writing down a love note on one of the locks and throwing the key away, never to be found again.

“Why not?” Yixing says with a half shrug, walking towards the shop.

“You can’t be serious,” Kyungsoo jogs after him.

Yixing holds up two yellow locks in one hand and holding up two pens in the other. “My last day in Seoul,” he reminds him. “So why not?"

They make their way to an isolated corner. Kyungsoo, ignoring Yixing’s words, leans against one of the lock-filled railings as Yixing inspects the locks he has in his hands before handing one of them to Kyungsoo.

“I would never have thought you as someone who is cheesy,” Kyungsoo comments, taking the other pen as well.

“I take pictures for a living,” Yixing points out with a light chuckle.

“Okay, maybe not this cheesy then,” Kyungsoo amends. He sighs inaudibly as he watches Yixing start writing down on his lock. Looking at the yellow padlock in his hand, he wonders what he should write on it, aside from the fact that he wants Yixing to maybe not go. “I guess we’re doing this then."

“We should have done this when we first came here,” Yixing says. “It was also your first time. It would have been more logical.” He grins when he finishes writing and unlocks it with a key.

“What would we be doing today then?” Kyungsoo responds teasingly and then he’s writing down his stupid feelings on a padlock, which, hopefully, no one would get around to reading. He pockets his pen and then gestures around. “So where do you want to do this?"

Yixing just puts his lock on the spot on the railing right beside him and smiles at Kyungsoo to follow after him. Kyungsoo takes a deep breath and clasps his lock with Yixing’s. He’s tempted to lean a little bit closer to read what Yixing wrote down on his. Three words, just one word more than Kyungsoo’s don’t go.

 

 

 

Yixing goes. Kyungsoo doesn’t stop him.

 

 

 

“Alright, get up.” Baekhyun uncovers Kyungsoo, who has been enjoying curling up in his bed, undisturbed.

Kyungsoo knows why Baekhyun is intervening with his “beauty” sleep. Kyungsoo has been communing with his bed for a week now, choosing to use up all of the work leaves that he has left. Joonmyun has been understanding and patient with him, telling him to take his time. He suspects that Baekhyun said something to him. No boss would just let an employee take several consecutive leaves if it wasn’t a life and death situation.

“Go away. I’m sleeping,” Kyungsoo mumbles through his pillow as he covers his face with a hand.

“No one sleeps for a whole week, Kyungsoo,” Baekhyun snaps. He grabs all of Kyungsoo’s pillows and throws them on the floor, leaving Kyungsoo defenseless and vulnerable. Kyungsoo curls into himself anyway, covering his face with his arms. Baekhyun can shove it. “Kyungsoo!” Baekhyun stomps his foot and, to Kyungsoo’s non-surprise, leaves the room.

He thought that was it because that was usually it. Baekhyun would come and wake him before giving up entirely and leaving him alone. Then Kyungsoo would pull the covers back up to his chin and would stare at the ceiling until he falls back asleep. He’s found ceiling-watching quite entertaining as far as his current life is going.

Kyungsoo’s life isn’t all that different if he’s to be honest. He’s still got his job at the library. He and Jongdae are getting along better. Joonmyun is infinitely kind. Baekhyun and Jongin are still as insufferable as ever. Seoul isn’t any different either. In fact, it might be even more beautiful now. Everything is blanketed in white. The snow glistens on rooftops and the sidewalks. No matter how lovely it may be, it just reminds Kyungsoo of just how miserable winter is and how empty home can be.

He’s halfway to dreamland when he feels the bed dip behind him. Squeezing his eyes shut and covering his face with his hands, he sighs. “Baek, I am not leaving this bed,” he grumbles.

“Just stay in then,” Jongin says. Kyungsoo sucks in a sharp breath, his eyes fluttering open as he lowers his hands to his mouth. “Hey,” he continues, voice softer. Jongin's fingers start running through Kyungsoo’s hair. Kyungsoo’s eyes flutter close again. “It’s okay."

“You’re being awfully nice,” Kyungsoo breathes more evenly, "considering you’re probably angrier than Baekhyun is.” He knows Jongin, knows how angry he gets on Kyungsoo’s behalf sometimes, how he gets upset when Kyungsoo gets sad.

Jongin doesn’t respond, doesn’t say anything for a while. He just sits beside Kyungsoo, his hand in Kyungsoo’s hair. Kyungsoo lets Jongin takes his time and tries hard not to stiffen as he braces himself for what he’s about to hear

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” Jongin breaks the silence. He stops running his hand through Kyungsoo’s hair for a second before starting over again. “You don’t have to be this sad. You don’t have to be sad at all."

Kyungsoo purses his lip, thinking of what to say. “Don’t worry,” he finally decides. “I’ll get over it. I always do."

“That’s the thing,” Jongin snaps and Kyungsoo jumps. Kyungsoo shifts on the bed so that he’s looking at Jongin, who takes a deep breath before continuing. “You shouldn’t have to get over it. It’s not—Baekhyun hyung’s right."

“About what?” Kyungsoo wants to know. He watches as Jongin clasps his hands together, his knuckles white, his eyes averted.

“You made a mistake not telling Yixing how you felt about him,” Jongin explains, surprisingly open and honest. “And you’re making a mistake lying here and not doing anything about him being gone.” The white of Kyungsoo’s bed must have gotten boring because he finally meets Kyungsoo’s eyes.

“Jongin,” Kyungsoo sighs, his heartbeat beating like a drum in his chest.

“If there was one thing that I regretted a lot, one thing in my whole life,” Jongin presses on, ignoring Kyungsoo. He takes another deep breath before holding Kyungsoo’s gaze. He’s been doing that a lot so Kyungsoo guesses that what he’s about to say is going to be big. “It was when I didn’t do anything… about my feelings for you."

The confession hangs in the air and Kyungsoo almost forgets how to breathe. Well that’s certainly a bomb he never expected would be dropped. Sitting up, he keeps Jongin’s gaze, trying to find something that would, maybe, refute the statement. But there’s none. It’s not that Kyungsoo doesn’t want there to be. He’s always wondered and wanted for Jongin to have felt something for him. Now that he knows there has been, Kyungsoo isn’t sure what to do about it.

“I… don’t know what to say,” Kyungsoo finally admits. What is there to say? It’s a missed opportunity and sure it’s a waste, but that’s all it is now. Things have changed. Things are different.

“I know it’s not worth anything now,” Jongin goes on in complete understanding of Kyungsoo. It was a good thing they’re so in tune with each other. “I probably shouldn’t have brought it up because there’s no point. But for a long time, I had wondered why I’d never done anything until it was too late. Hyung,” he implores, reaching out to touch Kyungsoo’s hand. “It doesn’t have to be that way for you. You don’t have to go through that. You shouldn’t have to. You deserve to be happy."

Jongin’s hand is warm and comforting, as his touch always has been. Kyungsoo lets himself wonder for a second what it would have been like if Jongin had said something or if he had said something. Would it have worked out? Would they still be together? Would they be as close as they are? What would Baekhyun think? Kyungsoo snorts. Normally Kyungsoo wouldn’t care about Baekhyun’s opinions about his relationships. But Jongin is also Baekhyun’s best friend so it would matter.

Then again, now that they are where they are, he believes that they are much better off as friends. Sure, that’s probably the missed opportunity speaking; doesn’t make it any less true. Jongin is a constant in Kyungsoo's life that he’s not sure he’d still have if they got into a relationship and it got bad. His current relationship with Jongin is perfect the way it is. Kyungsoo is sure he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Jongin,” Kyungsoo speaks up, clearing his throat. He turns his hand so that he can lace his fingers with Jongin’s and squeeze his hand. Jongin’s lips quirk up in a small smile. “I think this is a little bit different."

“It’s exactly the same,” Jongin insists, squeezing Kyungsoo’s hand back with more fervor. “Exactly the same, hyung. Please don’t make it reach a point where you can’t take it back."

“It turned out for the best, didn’t it?” he whispers and Jongin frowns. Kyungsoo pulls his hand away and tucks both his hands under his thighs. “Besides, I don’t know how I can,” Kyungsoo hesitates, puffing his cheeks out, which Jongin pokes.

“Seungsoo hyung calls me sometimes, you know,” Jongin then shares, smiling guiltily when Kyungsoo head snaps up, his gaze sharp on him. “He calls to check up on you, asks how you’re doing."

“Why doesn’t he ever call me?” Kyungsoo demands, feeling slightly hurt. “And why have you never told me this before?” His hands are back on his lap, both clenched into fists.

“You kept on hanging up on him,” Jongin reminds him as gently as he could, which doesn’t make Kyungsoo any less irritated. If Seungsoo wanted to talk to him, he should have kept trying. “After a while, he thought it was best to just let you grieve."

“I wasn’t grieving,” Kyungsoo grumbles. “My mom didn’t die. I was hurt and angry because she met someone else when we were on vacation as a family and decided to leave us for him.” He clenches his fists tighter. After all this time, the thought of his mother leaving them for someone else still hurts.

Jongin wraps his arms around Kyungsoo and Kyungsoo tries to fight it. He doesn’t need comfort and he doesn’t need Jongin to be so damn nice and sweet all the time. If it were Yixing, well, Yixing would probably be worse because then he’d have his muscular arms and abs pressing against Kyungsoo—and he really shouldn’t be thinking about Yixing and his body at all, especially right now. He shouldn’t be thinking about Yixing because thinking about Yixing makes him miss Yixing. And he doesn’t want that at all.

“Things don’t always have to have a sad ending, hyung,” Jongin tells him with such earnestness that Kyungsoo feels the fight leaving him. “In fact, things normally have happy endings if you let it."

Those words are almost reminiscent of something that Yixing had said to him before, things that Kyungsoo still remembers because they could have been true for them. Just because it seems unrequited, doesn’t mean that it is. What if?

“What do you think Yixing would do?” Kyungsoo whispers after a short silence.

Jongin pulls away from him and there’s the biggest smile on his face. It makes Kyungsoo laugh.

“Why don’t you go find out?” Jongin teases.

 

 

 

This is a mistake. Kyungsoo looks at the house in front of him and thinks he is making a mistake. A very big, very embarrassing one. One he’s not entirely sure he wants to make in front of an audience of one that he’s grown to care about so much.

Kyungsoo shoves his hand inside his pants pocket and calls the first person he thinks of. It takes three rings before someone picks up.

“I think I might be making a big mistake,” Kyungsoo blurts out.

“Kyungsoo?” Seungsoo’s voice is clear through the line even though they’re hundreds of miles away. He chuckles. “Slow down. What are you talking about?"

Kyungsoo lets go of his bag and sits down on the sidewalk, letting his older brother’s voice wash over him. It’s been so long since they last talked that he actually feels like crying now that they’re on the phone.

“I’m in China,” Kyungsoo says as he takes a deep breath. He bows his head down and rests his forehead on his knees.

“In China?” Seungsoo repeats with much disbelief in his voice, which Kyungsoo can understand because, really, Kyungsoo is the last person to travel out of Seoul to anywhere ever. To China least of all.

“I didn’t plan it. It's one of those spontaneous, it’s now or never kinds of things,” Kyungsoo explains in a haste. He breathes deeply and exhales noisily. “It’s kind of stupid now that I’m here. I mean, I’m here because of a guy.” His laughter borders on hysterical. “A guy. I followed a guy all the way to China. To China. The irony isn’t lost on me.” He lifts his head and runs a hand through his hair.

“So what’s the big mistake?” Seungsoo then asks when Kyungsoo doesn’t say anything else. Kyungsoo kind of stills before going back to burying his face in his arms.

“You don’t think this is impulsive and stupid?” he asks, biting his lower lip in worry.

“I’m sure you have a very good reason why you went after this guy,” Seungsoo tells him and Kyungsoo misses his older brother more than ever. He’s reminded of all those years when they had each other’s backs and took care of each other.

Kyungsoo wishes that he had just picked up the phone a long time ago and called him. They needed each other and Kyungsoo had made himself unavailable.

“I miss you, hyung,” Kyungsoo admits, voice breaking with emotion. He opens his mouth to say more, admit more, to apologise but the words won’t come out. He worries his lower lip instead and wishes those words are enough, even though they’re really not.

“Soo.” Seungsoo’s voice is gentle and soothing. “I miss you too. Maybe when you get back we can have a meal together and you can tell me about this boyfriend of yours.”

Kyungsoo chokes on his breath. “He’s not my boyfriend,” he weakly corrects. The thought of Yixing being his boyfriend after everything that’s happened and after all the distance between them short-circuits his brain.

“With the distance you traveled, I expect he will be,” Seungsoo teases. “Listen, Soo, it’s only a mistake if you make it so. And from what I’ve learned these past few years, everything that happens are just things that we can learn from. Now, get off the phone and go talk to him."

Kyungsoo is grinning by the time he’s getting up and grabbing hold of his bag. Yixing’s house is a charming one-story home, one that intimidates him nevertheless. Because what if Yixing is mad at him? What if Yixing asks him to leave? What if—

“Kyungsoo?"

Yixing looks even better than he ever did when he was in Seoul. In his tight black jeans and white, practically translucent (hello, abs), v-neck shirt, he looks happy and not at all like he missed Kyungsoo and regretted leaving Seoul. This is a mistake. Kyungsoo takes a step back.

Yixing reaches for him but only catches the strap of his bag. It’s enough to stop Kyungsoo from running away. “You’re in Changsha,” he states with wide, twinkling eyes. “You’re here."

Kyungsoo manages a smile, albeit a shy one. He’s pretty sure his cheeks are pink. Because the weather is cold and the wind is blowing. It’s really not because Yixing is grinning at him, like he’s actually happy that Kyungsoo is there. Nope.

“I guess I am,” Kyungsoo agrees, smile widening as Yixing chuckles. Okay, fine. Maybe Yixing’s smile is doing wonders to him. Like that’s news. Maybe it’s about time that Kyungsoo acknowledges that.

“Come on in,” Yixing says. He opens the door wider and walks back inside to usher Kyungsoo in.

Kyungsoo follows Yixing inside. The couch in the living room registers in his head but turns around to look at Yixing, who’s just closed the door, before taking a look at everything else in the house. There are more important things. Things like Yixing and his whole glorious—Kyungsoo should stop thinking at all. Clearly, he can’t think properly when Yixing is in his vicinity.

“I can’t believe you’re here,” Yixing starts, but Kyungsoo interrupts him with a shake of his head.

“Before you say anything else, there’s something I need to say,” Kyungsoo lets out in one breath. Yixing waits expectantly, his dimples coming out as he gives him an encouraging smile. Kyungsoo loses his thought process. “I—"

He gets overwhelmed by the disbelief that he’s traveled all those miles just to get to Yixing, by the fact that he’s actually here, that he actually went after Yixing. Standing in front of Yixing makes Kyungsoo realize just how much he missed him and how much he truly cared after all. It wasn’t about the abs, or the arms or the collarbones. It wasn’t even about Yixing’s smile and his annoying dimples. It was because of Yixing, all of Yixing. Just Yixing.

“Soo? What is it?” Yixing asks, looking adorably concerned.

The term of endearment wakes Kyungsoo out of his reverie and pushes him to just go for it. He trips over his own feet and stumbles, looking rather dumb and embarrassing, but it doesn’t matter because Yixing catches him.

Kyungsoo is in Yixing’s arms now, his own hands clutching the front of Yixing’s shirt. Normally, Kyungsoo wouldn’t be caught dead in such a cliche situation, but he would choose this over the alternative, which is missing Yixing forever.

“I just… Before, you said, just because it seems unrequited…” Kyungsoo whispers, his eyes on Yixing’s pink and inviting lips. Why he’s never fantasized about Yixing’s lips as much as he had his other body parts is a mystery.

“…doesn’t mean it is,” Yixing finishes the sentence with a grin. He chuckles when Kyungsoo blushes. Why does Kyungsoo turn pink so easily when Yixing is around? There has to be some kind of medication for this. “Kyungsoo—"

“Is it true? Do you mean it?” Kyungsoo presses because he has to know. He has to be sure. He can’t live on assumptions. His next step would depend on Yixing’s answer.

Yixing chuckles as he cups Kyungsoo’s face. “It’s not unrequited,” he states, his eyes piercing on Kyungsoo’s. “It never has been unrequited."

Kyungsoo whimpers as he closes the distance between them and kisses him. He stands on tiptoes to press even closer and, as he does, he feels like every inch of their bodies are touching each other’s. Kyungsoo sighs in complete satisfaction and bliss. So this is what heaven feels like.

 

 

 

“What do you mean you’re at the airport? You’re leaving? Without telling us? Who are you and what have you done with Kyungsoo? Where the hell are you going?” Baekhyun says all of this without breathing and Kyungsoo is seriously concerned for his own well-being at accepting this friendship in his life.

Yixing’s chuckle beside him makes him smile anyway. Kyungsoo entwines his fingers with Yixing’s as he answers, “Well we’re going to Japan right now. I don’t know where we’re going after that yet.” He grins when Yixing squeezes his hand. “But we’ll be back in a couple of weeks. I just called to tell you that I won’t be back in a while and that you should remind Jongin that the sink in our bathroom isn’t working and that he should get it fixed. I already told him but he’ll probably forget."

Baekhyun is quiet, so quiet, and for several minutes too that Kyungsoo thinks he’s hung up. “Baek? You still there?” he prods.

“Still here,” Baekhyun responds.

“Okay then, just—“ Kyungsoo goes on.

“I’m just having a moment right now. I feel so proud right now and am overwhelmed with joy and gladness,” Baekhyun cuts him off in an annoyingly weepy voice. Kyungsoo can even imagine him wiping a non-existent tear. "My little boy is all grown up.”

“Oh shut up. I’m hanging up now,” Kyungsoo practically growls and hangs up before Baekhyun can say anything more. Yixing is laughing quietly beside him and Kyungsoo just rolls his eyes as he pockets his phone. “It’s not funny. One of these days, I’m really going to kill him. Murder is not funny."

“It isn’t,” Yixing agrees. “But you are funny and very cute.” He lifts Kyungsoo’s hand and kisses his knuckles.

“Stop being gross,” Kyungsoo grumbles, taking his hand back, although he’s pretty sure his cheeks are pink. So what if he likes it when Yixing is all sweet and touchy? Doesn’t mean he has to be obvious about it.

Their flight is announced over the PA system and they pick up their bags and stand up. Yixing is still grinning when he looks at Kyungsoo and wiggles his eyebrows in such an adorable way.

“You ready?” Yixing asks, reaching for his hand.

Yixing told him before that not everyone who leaves means to leave. It’s not always for good and that people usually come back because home is important. In this case, Kyungsoo is pretty sure he’s got the best of both worlds. It’s about time that he leaves home and see what’s out there and he’s excited to do that. At the same time, though, it’s not really leaving because Yixing is with him. Yixing, who, for quite some time now, has felt like home.

The past few months have lead to this very moment, Kyungsoo thinks. Traveling still scares him because it leads into the unknown. But what doesn’t? All things can be risky and can be scary. But they can also be promising and exciting. Kyungsoo chooses to be excited, the way Yixing is with everything that happens in his life. Kyungsoo has decided that he’s going make everything a learning experience with a happy ending.

Kyungsoo takes Yixing’s hand and smiles. “I’m ready. Let’s go."