Kris settles down at the round table by the window of the quiet and quaint café as he waits for his friend. It’s a Sunday morning – his favorite time to visit the coffee shop. The rush of college students that usually occupy the café is noticeably less on Sundays; most of them probably still asleep or trying to nurse their hangovers. It allows Kris the time and space to unwind, and to go over the rows of pictures in his albums to choose the perfect one to crop, edit, and post onto his Instagram page. It has become a ritual, of sorts, for Kris to venture out into the city to snap pictures for his photo-sharing social networking page along with his buddy (and most of the time, photographer), Mark; afterwards coming to the café to grab a cup of joe. In no way was he or Mark professional; but photography was his hobby, and was something he took seriously. He didn’t expect when he first started posting random black and white images on his Instagram that, over time, his following would grow to the size that it was at now (his followers count had just recently reached 14k). Kris would’ve never guessed that so many people would flock to his page to comment on his amateur photography skills and his less-than-perfect editing work, done with a free app downloaded onto his iPhone 6S. The skills, of course, have improved since then, and he’d even bitten the bullet and bought an editing app that allows him far greater range than the free and simple ones he’d used before.
That morning, Kris had woken up and had gone through his normal routine of checking through his emails and messages, before opening the Instagram app and skimming through his notifications. He had then opened The Weather Channel app and smiled when he saw that bright yellow sun indicating blue skies and sunny weather, before texting Mark to meet him at the park by the river – his chosen destination for today’s shoot. After a quick shower and shave, Kris had emerged from his walk-in closet adorned in ripped black skinny jeans and a sky blue button up shirt (sleeves rolled up, of course), humming as he grabbed his dark grey wool Fedora and keys on the way out of his flat. The “photoshoot” had not taken long; he and Mark worked together like a well-oiled machine. A few dozen snaps here and there and the two friends were heading back to Kris’ Velvet Red 2016 Grand Cherokee, with the images of freshly baked muffins and top-notch brew in mind.
Now, Kris sits with one of his photo-editing apps open, cropping the picture to his liking and adding borders to ensure that all of the picture is shown in his feed. He glances up and over towards the counter where Mark is busy chatting up the barista, before looking back down to his phone and tapping on the Instagram logo. He uploads his edited picture and scrolls through the three available black and white filters to see which one suits best; today’s lucky winner is “Willow”, which he clicks on and adjusts the intensity (44 seems like a good number today) before moving onto the next screen to add his caption. He finishes just in time to see Mark pull out the chair opposite him and slide his espresso over. Kris nods a “thank you” before glancing down at his phone once again, taking a sip of his drink before grabbing half of the toasted bagel Mark has generously spread butter onto. He scrolls through his explore page, double-clicking on the pictures or videos that catch his eye, before stopping at a selfie of a boy (an adorable boy) in an oversized grey hooded sweatshirt, throwing up a heart sign with his thumb and forefinger with two plates of pasta sitting in the background. Out of impulse, Kris clicks on the bolded username, and is pleasantly surprised to find a page full of selfies, with the occasional selfie-in-front-of-food post. He smiles to himself as he scrolls through the boy’s feed; and before he knows what he’s doing, Kris finds himself clicking on the button to follow byunee_baek.
* * *
Jongdae groans as he watches Baekhyun rearrange the plates, drumming his fingers on his left hand impatiently on the table’s surface while his right hand firmly holds a fork. He’s hungry, they only have twenty minutes left until they need to head back to campus in order to make it in time for the next lecture, and his annoying, Instagram-addicted, selfie-addicted friend can’t seem to snap his pictures any slower.
“Baekhyun, for the love of God, can we please eat now?” Jongdae whines, making to grab back the pasta staring at him from the center of the table, taunting him. Baekhyun slaps his hands away before he can even get within inches of the plate.
“Wait a minute, will you?” The brunet sticks his tongue out of the corner of his mouth in concentration as he adjusts the angle of his phone, playing around with the lighting before snapping a few more pictures, alternating between a heart and a V sign. He smacks Jongdae’s hand away when he notices the boy’s fork getting dangerously close today’s guest stars – Pasta Primavera and Pasta Bolognese. “Wait!”
Jongdae grumbles and throws his utensil onto the table, crossing his arms as he watches Baekhyun scoot over a few inches. His stomach lets out an unhappy growl, and he glares at the top of his friend’s head as he curses him silently.
“All done!” Baekhyun finally exclaims as he sits back and scrolls through few dozen photos he’d just snapped.
‘Finally,’ Jongdae thinks, sagging in relief. Jongdae’s fork is back in his hand in a flash and he pounces, practically inhaling the food. He’s not even sure if he can taste anything at this point, but all he cares about is filling his growling stomach.
Baekhyun scowls when Jongdae pushes aside his empty plate and pulls Baekhyun’s dish towards him; but he knows better than to stop him. A ravenous Jongdae is a dangerous Jongdae – Baekhyun has learned that the hard way. He slumps in his seat and sips on his vanilla soymilk, eying his Bolognese that Jongdae is currently shoveling into his mouth. The notifications that pop up on his phone’s lock screen distract him from his hunger and resentment towards his friend, and has Baekhyun excitedly unlocking his phone and tapping on the Instagram icon. He hums elatedly as he scrolls through the notifications of people liking his latest post, and then pauses when a new notification shows up just as he’s about to close out of the app.
galaxyfanfan started following you. 7s
galaxyfanfan liked your photo. 30s
Curiously, Baekhyun clicks on the bolded username and is surprised to be brought to a page full of black and white pictures of buildings, trees, and other various sculptures and statues Baekhyun vaguely remembers seeing from around the city. The bio under the profile picture (the only picture not in black and white) is simple; incredibly simple that it almost makes Baekhyun mad. Only one word. Four bolded lowercase letters that spell out what Baekhyun assumes is galaxyfanfan’s name. ‘Okay, Kris. Who the fuck are you?’ He scrolls through the feed and finds himself lingering on one picture longer than others – the one which has a model (an incredibly good looking model) sitting in front of the equally appealing surrounding.
“Who’s that?” Jongdae’s voice over his shoulder suddenly pulls Baekhyun back to his senses, and he quickly closes out of Instagram and pockets his phone.
Baekhyun stands up and takes another wistful glance at the two now-empty plates on the table. “Nobody.”
* * *
Kris lets the towel hang from his shoulders as he pours himself a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a Friday night, and the lights in his high-floor, one bedroom apartment are dimmed, creating just the relaxing mood that he needs after a long day of work. Not that he had to overly exert himself at work physically, per se – being a web designer allows him the comfort of working from home – but spending hours upon hours staring at the bright screen on his 27-inch iMac does do quite the number to his eyes and, more often than not, leaves him with a massive headache. He slumps down onto his couch, allowing his body to mold into the soft white cushions and pulls out his phone, giving the triple-digit number on his mail app a passing glance before opening up the Instagram up. He lazily scrolls through his notifications, picking up on the few familiar usernames that by now, he’s sure he can call his “fans”, before hitting the home button to scroll through his feed. It’s not much (he only follows fifty-six people, after all), but he hums in content as he passes by the various posts of his friends at a leisurely pace. He passes by the picture mindlessly at first, but then pauses and scrolls back up. A smile spreads across his usually cold features as he admires the slight up-turned angle of the face and the adorable pout of the boy in the selfie. For the second time that week, Kris double clicks on one of byunee_baek’s post; and for the rest of the night, he can’t seem to get the boy’s face out of his head.
* * *
Baekhyun is playing an intense game of Temple Run when the notification banner interrupts his concentration and causes him to run off the platform. Muttering a quick curse under his breath, he closes out of his game and glances over at the glowing red numbers on the desk next to his bed. 12:27am. He stares vacantly across the room, and the empty bed that greets him back confirms that Jongdae still has not yet returned (not that he’s waiting up for him or anything), even though he’d texted Baekhyun an hour ago stating that he’d be heading back “soon.” With nothing else to do, he opens up Instagram, hoping that scrolling through the various posts of food and dogs on his Explore page will help to pass the time and keep him awake until his friend comes stumbling through the dormitory room door.
The notification pop-up right above the small heart on the row at the bottom of his screen distracts him from his fifth puppy video.
galaxyfanfan liked your photo. 2s
Baekhyun stares at the notification for a short second, and then taps on the small photo that brings him to his own selfie – the one he’d taken earlier that day right before leaving for lecture in his baby blue, striped sweater. He hadn’t given Kris another thought since Sunday, after the man had randomly liked one of his pictures and then followed him, seemingly out of the blue. Baekhyun’s followers (392 followers, thank you very much) mainly consist of friends and peers he’s met through school or through other mutuals. All people he knows, or at least remembers smiling at. Kris, Baekhyun realizes, is the outlier – the one mystery that Baekhyun has been yet to be able to solve.
He once again clicks on the bolded username of galaxyfanfan and takes his time to scroll through Kris’ posts, giving a heart to the ones that stand out among the rest. He finds, by the end of his harmless stalking, that he’s a bit more of a fan of the mystery man than he cares to admit.
* * *
Kris stares, amused, at his phone screen as notification after notification pops up across the screen. He puts his phone down on the couch and checks his emails on his laptop, giving byunee_baek time to finish stalking through eighty-four weeks worth of photos. Forty minutes and one hundred and ninety-one emails later, Kris picks up his phone to find a screen full of Instagram notifications – all from his adorable new follow. He chuckles because just over an hour ago, he’d had to hold himself back from liking all of byunee_baek’s posts, choosing to like only the newest one in hopes the endearing stranger would notice him. He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t disappointed that after liking sixty-four of his posts, byunee_baek still hasn’t followed him back, and figured it was time he took the first step to remedy that. Clicking back to his home screen, and then tapping on the top-right corner to open up his direct messages, Kris composes a new message with a simple, “Hello :)” and hits the send button before he can talk himself out of… whatever it is he’s doing (he just wants the puppy-like stranger to notice him, damn it!). He distracts himself from freaking out by migrating from his living room to his bedroom.
The notification of a new message comes as he’s settling himself against his headboard, and Kris all but dives for his phone sitting on the bedside table. “Cute…” he chuckles when he sees the response (an excited waving emoticon), and then taps his fingers against the back of his phone as he racks his brain for what to say next. He decides to play it safe, lest byunee_baek decides he’s a weirdo or something.
The response comes almost instantaneously, like byunee_baek is waiting for his reply.
i know (^～^)
not that i’m a stalker!
your bio says “kris.” >.<
Kris laughs as he read’s Baekhyun’s messages, coming in one after another, and can almost imagine the boy being flustered as he types out his explanation.
It’s nice to meet you, Baekhyun :)
your pictures are really nice ^o^
haha…mine are just lame selfies
Really cute lame selfies ;)
If Mark was here, Kris is sure he would be laughing at Kris’ lame attempts at flirting, but Baekhyun seems to not mind it when he replies back almost a minute later.
you’re making me blush (#^.^#)
They continue to chat, and Kris soon discovers that Baekhyun is an art major in his senior year, who likes to play computer games and take an unhealthy amount of selfies in his spare time. He tells Baekhyun a little about himself too: he’s a computer science graduate who now works as a web designer from home, and he minored in photography. They exchange likes and dislikes, and Kris listens (well, reads) as Baekhyun complain about his annoying professors, and laughs at his and his roommate’s silly antics. They talk for hours, until Baekhyun’s responses start getting slower and then stop altogether. He smiles as he types in a quick “Good night :)” before scrolling up and rereading their conversation, laughing again at all of Baekhyun’s lame jokes. Before he knows it, the sky outside his bedroom window is already starting to light up.
They settle into a comfortable routine of messaging each other on Instagram every day, and Kris finds himself waiting for Baekhyun’s direct messages every day to tell him how his classes were, or how much of an asshole Jongdae has been.
Two weeks after their first conversation, Kris proposes a meet up.
* * *
In all of his twenty-seven years of life, Kris has never been as nervous as he is now. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration…but watching the time tick by as it gets closer to the time when Baekhyun is supposed to show up has him more nervous than he has been in a while. It’s silly, he knows. He’s a grown man for heaven’s sake, and he’s been on plenty of dates before. He takes another swig of his now-cold coffee, and glances at his wristwatch once again. 2pm. The notification on his lock screen has his heart speeding up as he fumbles with the sleeves of his sweater.
i’m here ^^
He’s sure he hasn’t heard the bell chime indicating anyone has entered the café, so he looks out of the window from where he is sitting and cranes his neck to see if he can spot Baekhyun. His breathe catches in his throat when he does see the boy, and he can feel the palms of his hands beginning to sweat as he unlocks his phone and types back a response.
I’m at the corner table, by the window.
He watches as Baekhyun glances down at his phone, and then takes a deep breath before taking hold of the door’s handle and pulling it open. Baekhyun takes a quick look around the quiet café before making eye contact with his date, and offers Kris a shy smile and a small wave as he makes his way towards the table. Kris swears that the air in the room gets thinner as Baekhyun gets closer to him; either that, or he’s just on the verge of having a panic attack.
‘Play it cool, Kris. Breathe. It’s just a date.’ He attempts to calm himself down, and manages a smile when Baekhyun finally stands in front of him.
“Hey,” he says, sounding much calmer than he actually is (‘Good job, Kris!’) as he stands to greet the petite brunet.
“Hi,” Baekhyun’s muffled reply sounds from somewhere behind his big, white scarf. He watches as Baekhyun unwraps the scarf from his neck, and then unzips himself from his puffy red coat. “This is a nice place.”
“Yeah,” Kris motions for Baekhyun to take a seat, “I found it a while ago with a friend. We come here every Sunday.”
Baekhyun nods, and they both sit in silence for a while before another chime of the door brings Kris’ attention away from the very interesting spot on the table. He clears his throat as he stands up, wiping his hands on the material of his jeans. “Can I get you anything?” he asks, nodding towards the counter.
“Hot chocolate, please.”
Kris nods and heads for the counter, where he greets the barista, Jackson, with a smile. “A hot chocolate and a black coffee, please.”
Jackson nods and gets to work on the ordered drinks. “Date?” He asks, glancing behind Kris towards the brunet sitting alone at the table, playing with his phone. Kris hums and bounces on his feet slightly, impatient with how long the drinks are taking to make today. “Calm down, hyung,” Jackson laughs, sliding the first order over. “You’re not supposed to let your freak show on the first date.” Kris scowls, and Jackson laughs again. “Okay, okay. Here, take this and go charm the pants off that little cutie.” Jackson winks at him, but Kris is in too much of a hurry to get back to Baekhyun that he grabs the cups and turns to leave, missing the mischievous smile on the barista’s face.
“Sorry that too so long,” Kris gently slides the mugs onto the table as he settles in his seat, “the barista likes to chat.”
“It’s okay.” Baekhyun takes one look at the drink Kris offers him, and then glances at Kris. The smile that is spreading on his face makes his eyes crescent, and the slight blush to his cheeks as he shyly reaches over to pull his hot chocolate closer towards him makes Kris want to coo or squeal at his cuteness. “T-Thank you…” Baekhyun mutters, staring down at the cup he now has his hands wrapped around.
Kris smiles and nods and takes a sip of his coffee, but then almost chokes when he finally follows Baekhyun’s gaze downward. ‘That little shit!’ He turns and narrows his eyes at Jackson, who seems to be finding the espresso beans particularly funny today. Baekhyun’s soft call of his name returns his attention back to the embarrassing moment at hand.
“Do you mind if I…?” Baekhyun holds up his phone, and Kris nods. He watches in awe as the brunet opens up his camera app and turns so that the hot chocolate is sitting in the background behind him, and then throws up a peace sign at the camera. He turns and grabs Kris’ coffee, and pushes it together next to his cup in the middle of the table before holding his phone up again. This time, he gives the camera a heart. After a few more clicks of the camera, Baekhyun pockets his phone again, and returns Kris’ mug. They spend the next hour talking, until Baekhyun announces that he needs to head back to campus in time for his evening lecture. Kris nods and offers Baekhyun a ride, which the brunet declines, much to Kris’ dismay. He settles for walking Baekhyun to the bus stop and waiting for the bus to arrive; and he stands with one hand in his leather jacket, the other waving back at Baekhyun as the bus drives away.
* * *
That night, Kris settles under his comforter for bed before sliding across the screen of his phone to unlock it. He opens up the Instagram app and smiles to see Baekhyun’s newest post – a selfie of him smiling with his signature finger heart, and the cup of hot chocolate with the chocolate syrup sauce in the shape of a heart drawn onto the whipped cream in the background. He double taps on the picture, and then goes into his DMs where he opens up his chat with Baekhyun.
There was something I forgot to ask you earlier.
He’s almost asleep, with the phone lying on his chest, when Baekhyun replies ten minutes later.
there’s something i wanted to ask you too…
You go first.
why did you follow me? O.o
Kris chuckles, runs his hand over his face, and then looks back down at his screen.
I guess you could say I was instantly captivated by you.
soooooo cheesy~ （˶′◡‵˶）
ok, your turn!
Will you go on another date with me? Friday night?
i thought you’d never ask :)
Okay, I have another question…
Are you ever going to follow me back?
Baekhyun doesn’t answer for the next half hour, and Kris assumes the boy had fallen asleep. He’s just about ready to turn in himself when the slow glow of his phone’s screen lights up his room. He grabs his phone and squints at the bright screen, and unlocks it when he sees he has a new notification from Instagram. His smile is plastered to his face for the rest of the night as he stares at his new notification.
byunee_baek started following you. 21s