This was the sort of thing that happened when you didn't pay attention in class.
Or at least, that was what Hyukjae figured out when he wasn't staring at the blackboard, but instead at his friend Donghae.
Yeah, that was right.
"Ow," he said, "shit--ow--um."
His teacher was standing above him, tapping her feet and glaring. She had a yardstick in her right hand. He hoped that he wouldn't use it on her.
"Mister Lee," she said, which always amused him because thirty percent of his class could be called "Mister Lee." The other seventy percent were made up of Kim's, and a small percentage other Korean last names.
"What are you doing on the ground?" she asked him.
"Um," said Hyukjae, still on the classroom floor. "Inspecting the ceiling?"
His teacher was still glaring.
"Up, up, I'm getting up," he grumbled, picking himself up from the floor. Everyone watched as he put himself back into his seat. "Happy?" he said to his teacher, who merely scoffed and went back to the front of the classroom.
He stole a glance at Donghae again.
Donghae was sniggering at him.
Hyukjae wondered if he should be concerned that Donghae was still sniggering after class.
"Did you see... the look on your face?" he giggled.
Hyukjae glowered. "Why am I friends with you," he said, although with no malice. "And of course I didn't see my face, I can't see my own face."
"You should be able to, because that was hilarious." Donghae skipped ahead of him, hanging onto his bookstraps. He turned around to face Hyukjae again. "What are you doing after school?"
"After school? Um," said Hyukjae, shrugging. "I dunno."
"You should come over," said Donghae.
Hyukjae glared. "If you want me to go into that space simulator again--"
"I don't!" Donghae insisted.
"Dude," said Donghae, "I told you, isn't this the greatest thing ever?"
"Yeah," said Hyukjae, rolling his eyes. "It's great."
It actually kind of was. Donghae was rich, because Donghae was rich, and he was always inviting Hyukjae over. Hyukjae didn't mind too terribly, because it wasn't like Donghae was trying to show off or anything (he was rarely even aware of himself, which is why he said and did stupid things all the time), but sometimes it bugged Hyukjae. In that nice way when someone you like wants to do everything with you and you act like you don't care or are annoyed but you're secretly pleased.
That pretty much summed up ninety percent of Hyukjae's life.
The space simulator was the newest thing in Donghae's gigantic house--courtesy of his father, who frequented trips to the United States and had associations with NASA--and also Donghae's newest obsession.
Hyukjae didn't know why he liked such a weird kid.
"Look!" said Donghae, pointing up into the simulator sky. "There's Orion's Belt! And there's Leo! And there's the Chained Lady!"
"How do you know all this stuff?" asked Hyukjae.
Donghae grinned at him from under the stars. It was a little bit dark, but Hyukjae could clearly see his face.
"I went to America over the summer," he said. "Space camp. It was pretty awesome."
"Was it?" said Hyukjae. "Do you go to America a lot?"
Donghae shook his head. His hair was slightly ruffled against the ground. "Nah. Dad usually goes all the time and I rarely see him, so in freshman year he said that he'd stay in Korea over the summer with me." He sighed. "But Dad can't really control his work stuff, of course, and I didn't see him at all that summer. So last summer he said that he was going to send me to space camp to make up for it so I did and it was great!"
"You spent time with your dad?" said Hyukjae.
"Nah," said Donghae, "but I learned about space and some English! Wanna hear it?"
"No," said Hyukjae.
They were still under the stars about an hour later.
"I keep thinking about earlier today in English class," he said. "When you fell out of your chair--"
"It wasn't that funny!" Hyukjae said indignantly. He felt his cheeks burn.
"It was pretty funny," said Donghae. "Why'd you fall out, anyways?"
Hyukjae shifted on the ground. "No reason."
He left Donghae's house when he started to get hungry, even though Donghae insisted for him to stay for dinner. Hyukjae didn't want to, though, because he felt like he was intruding. That, and staying around the guy you liked could lead to dangerous situations. Nice situations, yes, but dangerous situations ultimately.
It was stupid, liking Donghae, because Donghae was his friend and Hyukjae didn't think he was capable of liking a friend. He thought he'd fall in love with a girl with long hair and pretty eyes and woo her to liking him too, and then they'd get married and live in a house together with 2.5 children. But when it was Donghae, he envisioned the two of them going off to college together and being roommates and getting drunk on the worst nights and stealing each other's food and throwing blankets at each other. And that--Hyukjae was a little more comfortable with that.
He went home and ate dinner and did his homework and slept. And, before he fell asleep, he told himself not to think of Donghae.
Because yeah. He wasn't thinking of Donghae, no. He was thinking of cats. Cats who were cuter than Donghae.
The week went by like a haze.
Hyukjae couldn't remember some of it, because most of it felt like he was constantly just telling himself not to like Donghae so much. It got to the point where it was a bit worrying when Hyukjae wasn't hungry during lunch and gave Donghae his box of his favorite flavored pocky, and Donghae, with big eyes, took the box immediately and opened it up.
"You sure, Hyuk?" he said, the strawberry end of a pocky stick sticking out of his mouth. Donghae had a weird way of eating them.
"Yeah," said Hyukjae, and sighed. Didn't think about the fact that Donghae was sitting across from him and usually when people were on dates they sat across from each other and--stop, just, stop.
"Well all right," said Donghae, and munched on another pocky stick.
Hyukjae glanced up to him.
"If," he said, glancing back down, "say. If you knew--no, um. If a guy--any guy--had a crush on you, what would you do?"
"What would I do?" Donghae laughed. "I don't know if any guys would like me, man. I don't even think any girls like me right now."
He laughed again and then reached in the pocky box for the last of it. Hyukjae wondered how anyone couldn't fall in love with Donghae.
"Really though," he said. "Just say, if, um." He glanced around the lunch room. "That guy, over there," he pointed to a guy with glasses and hair that stuck up in the back. "If he liked you, how would you feel?"
"Well, flattered really," said Donghae. "It'd be kinda like--I mean, I don't think I'm ugly or awful or anything, but I'd want to know why he liked me."
"You wouldn't be--creeped out, or anything?" said Hyukjae.
"Of course not," said Donghae.
Donghae's giant house also had an arcade.
"If you were in a freak show," said Donghae, panting as they furiously played DDR, "what would you want to be in it for?"
"Hmm? For having the longest eyebrows, of course," said Hyukjae.
"Like, a unibrow?"
"Yeah. I guess the longest unibrow," said Hyukjae. "It'd reach all the way to my ears. Like a forehead mustache."
"Dude. That'd be sick," said Donghae. "I'd want to be in for being able to do five hundred things with my tongue."
"Five hundred? Why?"
"Because five hundred's a nice even number," said Donghae.
"No, not about the number. I mean, why five hundred uses with your tongue?" said Hyukjae. And then he was looking at Donghae's tongue, which was unfair because Donghae's mouth was now more open than necessary due to their DDR playing and now he was permanently distracted.
"Because the tongue's the most powerful muscle in your body," said Donghae. He had a very nice tongue. "Just think about all the things we could do with it! If only we used it more. Yeah," he said, staring up at his DDR screen. "I think that'll be my life's goal. Discover five hundred things I could do with my tongue."
"You'll have a pretty interesting life," Hyukjae chuckled, looking back to his screen at well and trying not to think about Donghae's tongue.
"Are you kidding me," said Donghae, "I'd have the best life ever."
"When we're in college," Hyukjae started, and then stopped.
Donghae continued bouncing the basketball against the wall. "Yeah?"
"We're going to college together, right?" said Hyukjae.
"Duh," said Donghae.
Hyukjae stared at him.
"Dude," he said. "Where have you been my whole life?"
"Under your bed," said Donghae, and when Hyukjae laughed, Donghae said, "Yeah, I know, it's weird. Like. That we became friends this year."
"Yeah, I know," said Hyukjae. Softly, "I felt like I've known you my whole life."
"Don't pull sappy shit on me," said Donghae. "Yeah, when we're in college together. What?"
"We need to go skinny dipping," said Hyukjae.
Donghae stopped bouncing the ball. "What?"
"I've never been skinny dipping before," Hyukjae explained.
"What," Donghae yelped, "dude," he said, "what have you been doing your whole life?"
"Waiting to go skinny dipping, apparently," said Hyukjae. He self-consciously lifted up the bottom of his shirt. Donghae returned to bouncing his basketball. "It's something I've always wanted to try," he said. "For the sake of doing it."
"Yeah," said Donghae. "We should. It's literally one of the stupidest things you could do, especially if you got your clothes stolen, but it's so much fun."
Hyukjae giggled. "Only you would say that getting your clothes stolen is fun."
"Yeah," Donghae agreed. "But why in college? Why can't we do it like, next weekend?"
"You see this place?" They were in the back of Hyukjae's apartment building. "City. No lakes or ponds anywhere to skinny dip in."
"We could find one," Donghae suggested."
"Really," said Hyukjae, raising an eyebrow. "Where?"
"I don't think this qualifies as a body of water," said Hyukjae, stripping off his shirt.
Donghae was getting his pants off. "What? It totally does."
"Someone swimming pool?"
It was hazy, and they'd made their way to the outskirts of the city looking for a pond of some sort. Hyukjae's apartment was only several blocks from the suburbia anyways, and soon enough they'd chanced upon nearby reserves. Apparently houses in the reserves had swimming pools and Donghae had said, why not those.
"But they're just swimming pools," said Hyukjae, and then made to take off his pants. "Don't look."
"I'm not. I can't, anywawys," said Donghae, briefly glancing at his face before turning away. "IT's all misty and shit."
"Yeah. It was raining last night," said Hyukjae. "Those should've made some large enough puddles in the city."
"I don't think you understand how science works, Hyukjae," said Donghae.
Hyukjae took off his shoes. "And I don't think you understand my sarcasm," he said. "We're going in on three?"
Donghae nodded. "Yeah. One."
They jumped into the pool, stark naked. The owner of the house--well, the owner of the pool, too--burst out onto the front porch and started shouting at them. Hyukjae and Donghae laughed and then when they heard gunshots, grabbed their clothes and ran into the street.
"We could get arrested for public nudity," said Hyukjae, and then giggled.
He was glad that it was so misty and grey so that no one could see his bare backside. Donghae was giggling too, and Hyukjae tried not to get distracted by his naked body.
"Well that was like a two second skinny dipping thing," he said. "Want to get our clothes back on?"
"Sure," said Hyukjae, "if we could find a place to put them on."
They giggled again and Donghae said, "On the sidewalk is fine." They walked out of the middle of the street and onto the sidewalk and Donghae started pulling his shirt on.
Hyukjae cleared his throat.
"Um," he said, and Donghae looked up at him.
"There's something I gotta confess to you," said Hyukjae.
Donghae rolled his eyes. "What? Is it that you went commando? 'Cause I totally knew."
"What?" Hyukjae yelped. "No. Wait. How did you know?"
"You asked me to turn away when you were only taking your jeans off," said Donghae. "Duh."
"No, that's not--" Hyukjae sighed. "Um. No. Um. I just. Kind of like you. And. Yeah. That's all."
"What," said Donghae.
"That's why I asked you if you'd be okay if like--if a guy liked you." Hyukjae blushed.
Donghae stared at him.
He let out a small chuckle and said, "Well duh." And when it was clear that he wasn't being as smooth as he'd hoped, he said, "You're telling me that because we're both half-naked right now, aren't you?" And then, pulling his pants on as Hyukjae continued staring at him for a proper response, Donghae said, "Yeah, I'm okay with it. Um," he glanced down at Hyukjae. "You're still naked."
"Oh. Oh!" said Hyukjae, when his brain processed what Donghae had said.
But Donghae smiled.
"And I kinda like you too."
That night Donghae invited him over for dinner and, for once, Hyukjae did say yes. Donghae looked immensely pleased.
When they were done, they went back into Donghae's space simulator and stared at the fake stars.
"So, Donghae," Hyukjae started, and then Donghae leaned over and kissed him on the mouth.
"Um," he said when Donghae pulled back. "What was that?"
"I just," said Donghae, shrugging. Hyukjae imagined that if it weren't so dark in here, Donghae would be blushing. "Wanted to do that," he said.
"I thought you'd say something like, 'I wanted to practice one of my five hundred uses of my tongue,'" said Hyukjae.
Donghae laughed. "I didn't kiss with any tongue."
"You should," said Hyukjae, and then couldn't believe he'd just said that.
Donghae rolled over to look at him. His eyes were bright under the computer generated stars.
"I should?" he said.
"I imagine it'd be quite nice," said Hyukjae.
It was very nice, indeed.
"If only we could do things with our eyebrows," Donghae said later, and Hyukjae fell over laughing.