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love is a journey

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If there is one way the universe would tell him that his entire life is a joke, this is definitely the way to go.

Because when Youngjae had asked him to go out on their overdue first date, he had been ecstatic. The same Youngjae he’s been crushing over for years had asked him out. Yet, here he is, with the same Youngjae that had asked him out, sitting at the bar as they wait for their drink order, with nothing to talk about.

They never run out of things to talk about. Rather, Daehyun never runs out of things to talk about. He knows Youngjae tunes him out 80% of the time, but he has a knack for tapping back into the conversation at the right moment, which was what had gotten them to where they currently are.

Two weeks of finals had driven them to the point of delirious exhaustion. Daehyun couldn’t fathom the lines that have started to merge into one incomprehensible jumble of words and he had started to list all the things he would do once he’s done with his finals to cope with his slow descent to insanity, when he noticed Youngjae nodding off at the other side of the low table. He was being a good friend when he kicked the other awake, because he’s supposed to be studying, not sleeping, so when Youngjae had looked at him, bleary eyed and slightly annoyed, and looking absolutely adorable, Daehyun had instead blurted out I like you.

And bless everything that was holy, Youngjae smiled dopily and said, ‘I like you too,’ and Daehyun would have leaped at him and crushed him into a bear hug but Youngjae had stopped him. ‘But let’s get this over and done with before we go on our first date.’

Here they are, two days later, after 20 hours of much needed sleep. They hadn’t seen each other in that span of time, and they had only talked through texts, which was also when Youngjae had asked him out for a drink. Youngjae doesn’t drink.

Daehyun had stuck to what he knows best and ordered them both a pint of beer each, hoping it’d go well.

“I usually go with this order,” he says, handing the pint glass over to Youngjae. “It tastes okay. I like it.”

Youngjae eyes his glass warily. “I’ll take your word for it.”

They clink their glasses and Daehyun winces at how he slams his glass a bit too hard, spilling some of the liquid over his hand. He takes a quick sip to cover it up, all the while eyeing Youngjae’s reaction.

Youngjae, bless his heart, tries to cover the disgust on his face, but the beer is too bitter and Youngjae has never liked the taste of alcohol and so he can’t really help the way his face scrunches up.

Daehyun feels himself deflate. “You hate it.”

“No, it’s—” Youngjae swallows, “it’s fine,” and drinks more just to prove his point.

They’re both nursing their drinks, not looking at each other, and Daehyun doesn’t know why this is so hard; he has been on dates before, plenty of times, and so has Youngjae. They are both just letting the silence eat the space between them.

He peeks over at Youngjae, taking in the way he’s dressed. Immaculate, as always, ever the stylist with his crisp white button down and tight black jeans. He’s dressed to impress. He’s dressed to impress you, his brain helpfully supplies and Daehyun shuts that thought down immediately. The guy he’s been pining for is right there, on a date with him, and he has no clue what to do with himself. What to do with them.

Looking around the bar for something to do, Youngjae spots a jukebox player at the far corner and goes straight to it, his beer in hand. He looks back for just a moment in Daehyun’s direction, silently asking him to tag along, so Daehyun does exactly that.

For a bit, as they debate on what to play, it feels like their normal night out; just them hanging out on Friday nights whenever they have extra money to splurge on stupid things, and Daehyun takes a moment to revel in the familiarity of it all. He can do this. There’s still hope for this to not end up in a sad pile of pathetic.

Youngjae bobs his head as soon as the music starts playing, turning around to face him with a small smile on his face. “This isn’t so bad,” he says, taking a sip on his beer.

Daehyun huffs a quiet laugh. “The beer or this date?”

Groaning, Youngjae slumps down onto a free seat. “Really, Daehyun?”

He slips down onto the seat opposite Youngjae’s, a sheepish smile on his face. “Sorry.”

They lapse into silence again.

Now, Daehyun has never been good with silence. He hates it. Which also means that whenever there is a quiet moment, his mouth tends to run off on its own and he would always blurt out things he would later regret saying.

“I mean, really,” he starts, already sensing the bullshit he’s about to say but having no control of stopping it from happening. “Have you ever had awkward dates?”

Youngjae frowns. “What do you mean?”

“Think about it.” And once he’s started, Daehyun rarely can stop himself from inflicting severe damage. “You’ve gone out with a ton of people right,” True, but uncalled for, his brain yells at him. He can see the offended look on Youngjae’s face. “How many of them are this awkward on the first date?”

“I can think of a few,” Youngjae says, his voice tight. “But at least they aren’t rude about it.”

He can feel a rush of cold breeze when he realises what he just said.

Daehyun sighs. He runs a hand over his face. “Sorry,” he says, “I didn’t mean to—” He cuts himself off by chugging down his beer for lack of anything better to say or do. Just when he thinks he’s done enough damage for one night, he burps out loud as he slams his empty glass down, earning a few dirty looks from the other patrons.

Youngjae’s face is doing that thing it does when it doesn’t know whether to laugh or be angry. It chooses to laugh at him instead and Daehyun, much as it would normally annoy him at being laughed at, laughs along.

When they’ve calmed down, Youngjae, with laughter still in his eyes, says, “Can we please just stop pointing out how awkward everything is.”

“Pretty sure I’m doing that on my own,” Daehyun replies.

Youngjae’s features soften, in a way it never really does around Daehyun, at least not until now, and Daehyun would very much like this to be a recurring thing because he can definitely get used to that look.

“That makes you Daehyun,” Youngjae says. “Stupid,” Daehyun protests with a sharp kick to his shin, but Youngjae continues, laughing, “loud, and annoying.”

“I thought now that we’re dating, you’d stop abusing me with verbal insults,” he grumbles.

It takes a while for Youngjae to say anything back, a small smile on his face as he no doubt is turning what Daehyun said over and over in his head. Youngjae bites his lip, smothering the smile and schooling his face into a neutral one. “Just cause we’re dating doesn’t mean I’ll treat you differently, Daehyun. Yeah, it’s gonna be weird, but get over it.”

Maybe this night has been a disaster up to this point, and maybe Daehyun had played a big hand on it too, but none of that matters now with the way his heart soars at those words. Because of course, that’s it. He’s been agonizing over how to act in front of Youngjae now that they are more than just friends—boyfriends—and the answer is simple, nothing has to change. Except for a few fundamental things, of course. Like kisses. And stuff.

Speaking of which, they have yet to share one between them. A kiss.

Youngjae raises a brow, and regards him with an unimpressed look, like he knows just what Daehyun is thinking, and he would be embarrassed, except he isn’t. Daehyun’s always been the one who’s more forward with his feelings.

But before he can say anything, Youngjae cuts him off with a glare. “Don’t say it.”

For the first time that night, Daehyun grins, unabashed, and ignores Youngjae’s futile warning. “Can I get that kiss now?”

They kiss later that night, in front of Youngjae’s apartment, and it’s just as horrible as their date. It’s all fine, though, because they get to redo it again and again, until they are both out of breath and Daehyun has to pull himself away from Youngjae and leaves a final goodnight kiss on his cheek. He skips all the way to the train station.