The first time, Hakyeon sees him in the café he works at.
"Ah! Leo-ssi!" he says so suddenly, he surprises himself.
The man looks at him half startled, half like he's already planning Hakyeon's slow and painful death.
"My name is Taekwoon," he says.
His voice is quiet and soft, but that doesn't ease the murder in his gaze even a bit.
"But you look like Leo," Hakyeon explains without really explaining.
The man's face is really intriguing. Hakyeon has never seen anyone looking even a little bit alike. He's so busy staring, it takes him a while to notice the man finishes his coffee and stands up, turning away from Hakyeon without another word.
"Hey! You can't ignore me just like that when you've already introduced yourself, Taekwoon-ssi," Hakyeon calls after him.
The man turns around, probably with the intention to point out that it's blatant manipulation. He doesn't say anything, though. Maybe because he knows Hakyeon is fully aware of what he's doing, or maybe he doesn't like to talk in general.
"Stop that," he mutters instead.
Hakyeon cocks his head to the side, puzzled.
"The honorific," the man says. "I don't like it."
"Taekwoonie then?" Hakyeon asks, catching the chance as soon as he spots one.
The man sighs irritably and just glares at him. Hakyeon nods to himself and smiles. It's the first genuine smile since he can remember.
"It's nice to meet you, Taekwoon. I'm Hakyeon."
The second time, he also sees Taekwoon in the café.
"What would you like to drink, Taekwoon-ah?" he asks casually.
Taekwoon looks at him contemplatively. Hakyeon remembers they're not close enough to speak like that to each other. He doesn't try to correct himself. They stare at each other for a while.
"Choose for me," Taekwoon says and Hakyeon smirks to himself.
He won this round.
He gets him the sweetest coffee imaginable and watches how surprise appears on his face. Taekwoon glances up at him and Hakyeon can tell exactly what he's thinking.
"Enjoy," he says, winking at him.
Taekwoon's cheeks get a shade darker and Hakyeon goes away with satisfaction twisting his stomach. He can't believe anyone could think Taekwoon would like anything that doesn't make your teeth hurt from all the sweetness.
After that, it's kind of a routine. Taekwoon shows up at the same time for the next two weeks. Hakyeon starts looking forward to Tuesdays. They don't really talk. It's hard to get any words out of Taekwoon, so Hakyeon makes up for that with his own word-vomit. Taekwoon gets annoyed easily and masks his expression with a glare, but it's unexpectedly easy for Hakyeon to guess what he's thinking right away. He learns to notice the smallest changes on Taekwoon's face and uses them against him. Taekwoon is so easy to tease, it's ridiculous. He also can't take compliments at all. Hakyeon thinks spending those few minutes of every Tuesday with Taekwoon is the most interesting thing that's happened to him since the trip to Japan the year before.
"Who's that?" Jaehwan asks him when they're on the same shift one Tuesday.
"That's Leo," Hakyeon says with a small smile.
"Is he a foreigner?"
Hakyeon shakes his head.
"Then why Leo?"
Hakyeon glances at Taekwoon reading a book by the window.
"Doesn't he look like Leo?"
Jaehwan looks at him like he's worried Hakyeon has lost his mind, but then just shrugs.
"A friend? Can I go say hi?"
"You want to do one of your gigs, don't you," Hakyeon says flatly and smacks Jaehwan's ass with a cloth. "Make that mocha first."
Jaehwan shows him his tongue. Hakyeon looks up in time to catch Taekwoon's gaze for half a second. There is something weird in his stomach and he distracts himself with another customer. Jaehwan stares at him pointedly. Hakyeon smacks him again.
"How many times do I have to tell you you're not my mom, hyung?!" Sanghyuk says, half frustrated, half amused.
"Shut up, you obviously don't listen to your mother," Hakyeon grumbles, trying to feed him the sandwich that was supposed to be his lunch.
He can't let the moron starve just because he spent his last money on a game.
"You should learn how to save some of what you get from your parents," he nags, but knows Sanghyuk won't take him seriously either way.
"But I've wanted to get that game for three months already!" Sanghyuk whines.
"And because of that you don't have money to eat, congratulations."
"Don't you need to go back to work?" Sanghyuk asks innocently.
Hakyeon cuffs him around the head.
"You're not getting food from me again."
Sanghyuk gapes at him with such a shock, as if Hakyeon told him to get the hell out and never come back.
"Hyung!" he wails, clinging to Hakyeon's arm.
Hakyeon laughs and gives him a noogie.
"You should respect your parents and get a job to help them, not use their money for games," he says more seriously.
"I'm a college student, I don't have time to work," Sanghyuk bats his eyelashes at him.
"But you have time to party?" Hakyeon raises an eyebrow.
"You should try sometime, instead of holing yourself up in your room with Gabriel, like an old cat lady," Sanghyuk nods to his own words solemnly.
"You damn brat, I'll show an old cat lady–"
But Sanghyuk grins suddenly and waves at someone behind Hakyeon, ignoring him completely.
Hakyeon turns around and his eyebrows almost reach his hairline when he sees Taekwoon, who seems equally surprised. Sanghyuk demands a high five for greeting and Taekwoon grants him one distractedly.
"You know each other?" Hakyeon asks. "And you didn't introduce me?!"
"Why would I introduce you to everyone I know?" Sanghyuk says and Hakyeon tries to hit him again, but Sanghyuk runs away, giggling.
"Taekwoon-hyung is my senior at college," he explains. "I didn't know you were a regular here," he turns to Taekwoon.
"Not really," Taekwoon says, as usual, quietly. "I've been here only a few times."
He's staring right at Hakyeon and for the first time, Hakyeon can't tell what he's thinking at all.
"Well, a few times is enough for Hakyeon-hyung to hit on you," Sanghyuk decides and Hakyeon feels his face burn.
"Do you ever shut up?" he yells, chasing Sanghyuk around the café.
"Was that a self-reflecting question?" Sanghyuk laughs over his shoulder.
"I'm going to cut your tongue off and choke you with it," Hakyeon promises with a dark smile.
"Well, that's not very nice," Jaehwan notices, observing them from his place by the coffee machine with a huge grin that doesn't match his mockingly concerned voice.
Hakyeon finally catches up to Sanghyuk and puts him in a headlock.
"Hey, hyung, want to take a picture with me?" Sanghyuk asks, freeing himself easily.
"Why would I?" Hakyeon growls and proceeds with fixing his hair.
Sanghyuk smirks and pulls out his phone.
"I know you can't say no to a picture and we haven't seen each other for like, three weeks."
Hakyeon gives in too easily to his stupid charming face and lets him take the picture. Sanghyuk patiently waits until Hakyeon has enough of hugging and goes to talk to Jaehwan. Hakyeon turns to Taekwoon and some of his good mood disappears.
"What would you like to drink, Taekwoonie?" he asks softly.
"A black coffee, please," Taekwoon says.
He's not looking at him. Hakyeon frowns and sits down next to him. There are no customers at the moment anyway and Jinki is too soft to yell at him for extending his break.
"Are you okay?" he asks carefully.
Taekwoon just nods. He still won't meet Hakyeon's eye.
Hakyeon huffs and stands up to get a piece of chocolate cake and put it in front of him. Taekwoon stares at it like an alien is about to jump out of it.
"Chocolate improves your mood," Hakyeon says.
Taekwoon finally glances up at him. It's a glare, of course.
"One bite?" Hakyeon tries, but there is no reaction.
He sighs and scoops a bit onto a fork, offering it to Taekwoon. That seems to surprise him.
Taekwoon looks at him for a few more seconds and then bites. There is a moment when they stare at each other and it's somehow electrifying, like maybe the reality shifted just a tiny bit, a small change that's impossible to come back from. Hakyeon has no idea what Taekwoon's dark eyes are saying right now, but it reaches something in him. And that something makes him want to do things. Hakyeon doesn't want to dwell on what things they are.
Taekwoon moves away.
"It's good," he says.
Hakyeon smiles at him, trying to calm down his insides.
"Of course it is. I baked it."
Taekwoon doesn't show up the next Tuesday. Hakyeon is a bit restless, but tries not to worry, because maybe Taekwoon is busy. They've never made a promise to meet in the café every week, either.
"Calm down," Wonshik tells him in a boring tone of voice.
"I am calm," Hakyeon protests.
Wonshik pointedly looks at his jittering leg and the tenth apple he's currently peeling.
"Okay," he says, leaving Hakyeon be.
"Maybe he'll come later," Jaehwan pipes up, wiping the table next to Wonshik's.
"We're closing in half an hour," Hakyeon points out, biting the apple that was supposed to be used for an apple pie.
"He might be busy," Jaehwan shrugs and goes over to one of the last two customers.
Hakyeon knows that. He's been trying to believe that all day.
Taekwoon, predictably, doesn't show up. Jaehwan shoos Hakyeon out, promising to clean up himself. Hakyeon goes without much protest. He gets home in sort of a resigned mood. Gabriel rubs himself against his calves and Hakyeon picks him up with the intention to bury himself in bed and never come out again. He's not sure why he feels so down.
"I want a human," he tells Gabriel, stroking his fur. "That could be with me just like you are."
Gabriel looks at him with so much judgment and disdain, Hakyeon snorts at him.
"You're okay, too," he says. "But you won't even talk to me and you know how much I need talking."
Gabriel huffs gently and tries to climb on his face. Hakyeon leaves him on the couch and goes to make some food for them both.
He's dozing off over a book half an hour later when his phone buzzes, startling him awake.
From: My Flower Boy
r u busy?
Hakyeon sighs. He's not in a mood for human interaction tonight. Gabriel protests with a soft hiss when Hakyeon moves beneath him to get his numb hand to work properly again.
To: My Flower Boy
From: My Flower Boy
get dressed ill be there in twenty
Hakyeon sometimes misses the times when Hongbin wanted to get as far away from him as possible. He contemplates starting to harass him again for a few minutes and then stands up with another sigh, ignoring Gabriel throwing a fit.
"Hongbong!" he whines desperately as soon as he sees him, throwing all thoughts about spending a lonely evening out the window.
He's a people's person, okay. Hongbin lets himself be hugged and gives him a once over.
"Get dressed doesn't automatically mean put on your tightest jeans," he says.
"You're just jealous of how good my ass looks," Hakyeon waves a dismissive hand. "What are we doing?"
Hongbin rolls his eyes, but lets it go.
"Hyuk's throwing a party."
"You mean you want to take me to his dorms full of younger than me people, most of whom will get shit-faced and could throw up on me?"
"You're a student too, you know," Hongbin says flatly. "And you need to get out instead of falling deeper into an old cat lady's life."
Hakyeon gasps theatrically, scandalized. Hongbin snickers.
"I'm going to kill Sanghyuk," Hakyeon promises darkly.
"At least it's not me."
Hakyeon is the one who gets shit-faced instead. Well, maybe not instead, but is definitely included in the group of people who get shit-faced. He remembers himself only when he's already being pulled away by Sanghyuk from a random stranger's lap.
"What came over you today?" Sanghyuk asks, passing him a glass of water.
Hakyeon laughs breathily and squeezes his cheeks.
"Ya're really cute, y'know," he mumbles, letting Sanghyuk force the water down his throat. "You should be caref'l not to get hurt by s'me asshole."
"I'm not gay, hyung," Sanghyuk says patiently. "And I'll be fine."
"That's chauvinistic," Hakyeon slurs. "G'rls c'n be assholes too."
Sanghyuk laughs at him and pats his back, as Hakyeon thumps his head against the younger one's shoulder.
"Whatever you say, hyung," Sanghyuk nods cynically.
"Right, I was s'pposed to kill you," Hakyeon remembers, but the world above Sanghyuk's shoulder sways and moves around and is generally a dick. Sanghyuk's shoulder, on the other hand, is warm and comfortable and Hakyeon doesn't want to move, especially when Sanghyuk starts threading fingers through his hair.
"Where is Hongbin?" Hakyeon asks barely audibly.
"Probably sucking face with someone, but he's not as drunk as you, so I decided you needed rescuing more."
"I really love you, guys," Hakyeon manages and doesn't remember how he gets home.
He's definitely there when he wakes up in urgent need to puke, though, head still spinning. He's already getting used to the thought of spending the rest of his life in the bathroom, but a very loud, very persistent knocking makes him leave his temporary asylum. He barely crawls to the door. Seeing Jaehwan's sunny grin definitely doesn't improve his mood.
"You look like shit," Jaehwan says, his smile not deeming even a little bit.
Hakyeon groans and gets back to the newly found love of his life - The Toilet.
"What do you want," he mutters.
He doesn't have the strength for question marks. He wonders briefly how bad he must smell, if Gabriel didn't come over to wake him up and demand food.
"I brought you soup," Jaehwan calls from the kitchen.
Hakyeon would kiss him, if he wasn't kissing the toilet. He stays on the floor for another while, making sure his stomach is already absolutely empty and listening to Jaehwan having a conversation with Gabriel, which meant them literally meowing to each other. At least Jaehwan gave the cat food. Hakyeon is about sixty three percent sure.
"Are you done, hyung?" Jaehwan yells suddenly. "I think Gabriel wants something from me!"
Hakyeon knew he shouldn't have put his hopes in Jaehwan.
"Give him food, dumbass!" he shouts and immediately winces because of the volume.
"Oh, yeah, that could be it!" Jaehwan says, as if he just discovered a cure for cancer or something.
Hakyeon is surrounded by idiots.
"What made you act like a horny teenager last night?" Jaehwan asks later, when Hakyeon feels alive again after a shower and is eating the best soup in the world.
"I don't know," Hakyeon grumbles. "Can we not talk about it?"
"Not a chance," Jaehwan shoots immediately.
Hakyeon groans into his bowl and then mumbles his answer into it.
"What?" Jaehwan asks, leaning in to hear better.
"I was lonely," Hakyeon mutters, fully aware of how pathetic that sounds.
Normal people don't get trashed just because they feel lonely, and they definitely don't dry hump some stranger because of that either. Hakyeon doesn't even remember his face.
"You're a weird person," Jaehwan decides, and hearing that from him really sucks. "You told Hongbin you're busy last night."
Hakyeon sighs, finishing his soup.
"I wanted to wallow in self-pity, but he saw through me, probably," he mumbles begrudgingly.
"Of course he did, we can all see through you," Jaehwan says easily.
Hakyeon glares at him. Gabriel jumps into Jaehwan's lap, demanding petting.
"Traitor," Hakyeon tells him, but it's not like Gabriel will give a damn.
"Get your shit together, it's not like you're alone, you know," Jaehwan says. "Isn't that right, Gab?" he coos at the cat. "Yes, it is!"
Gabriel purrs under his hands and Hakyeon huffs at them annoyingly. Jaehwan grins and smooths his hair just like he did with Gabriel's fur a second ago.
"Our shift starts in an hour," he says and then Hakyeon is left with still purring Gabriel and mixed feelings in the quiet of his apartment.
Taekwoon's face suddenly flashes before his eyes and shame attacks him. Taekwoon definitely wouldn't do something so stupid just because he felt bad about himself for a moment. Well, Hakyeon can't picture him at a party at all in the first place, but that's not the point.
Hakyeon takes another shower, because he feels like he has to, and goes to work.
Wonshik is obviously there, because he lives to make Hakyeon's life unnecessarily difficult.
"You were that upset Taekwoon-hyung didn't come yesterday?" he asks with visible effort, while almost toppling over in giggles.
Hakyeon has a hangover and a foul mood, which makes the world a really unpleasant place, and Wonshik's teasing doesn't help in the least.
"Shut up, or I'll make you pay up for every coffee you ever drank here for free right the fuck now," he threatens and watches with dark satisfaction how Wonshik's face morphs to express true horror.
"You practically poured those coffees down his throat every time he looked even a bit tired," Jaehwan points out.
Hakyeon can't really deny that, so he sighs in frustration and goes to clean up after the clients that just left.
"Don't piss him off more than he already is, I wanna get home uninjured," Jaehwan stage whispers behind him.
Hakyeon throws a rug at him.
It's a miserable week of being teased endlessly before finally a Tuesday comes. Hakyeon is bitter, because no one says anything to Hongbin, even though he ended up sleeping with some girl at that party.
Hakyeon forgets all about it when Taekwoon appears, though. It's six and there is only one couple in the café, talking to each other in hushed voices. Jaehwan is humming softly, wiping the counter absentmindedly. Wonshik just left, excusing himself with a paper he has due tomorrow. Hakyeon is about to go to the back, having nothing to do, but the bell rings at that moment. Taekwoon's dark eyes look at him, and suddenly, life is a bit better.
"Cake," he says in lieu of a hello.
Hakyeon grins at him and goes to get the cake, ignoring Jaehwan's pointed smirk.
"Why didn't you come last week?" he asks when Taekwoon's attention is mostly on the food, but Hakyeon has a suspicion (or maybe just hopes) that Taekwoon is listening to him anyway. "I made a lot of bad choices because you didn't show up."
Taekwoon glances up at him, eyes sparkling. That bastard. Hakyeon doesn't get how that can be intriguing enough for Taekwoon, but stories about Hakyeon's everyday life aren't.
"Like what?" Taekwoon asks, as per usual, quietly.
Hakyeon stares at him for a second, smiling sweetly.
"So, were you busy?" he questions.
Taekwoon drives his inquisitive gaze into him for another two seconds and turns to the cake.
"Yeah," he says.
Hakyeon waits for him to elaborate. It doesn't happen. Of course.
"Is it personal? If not, then I wanna know."
Taekwoon didn't have a choice but to get used to his nosiness during those few Tuesdays they talked. Well, he could have stopped coming, but didn't, so Hakyeon assumes he got used to it.
Taekwoon looks at him for a moment, as if wondering if that's how you get friends. It's not hard to guess he likes to keep to himself.
"My mom was sick," he says slowly, probably still not sure, if it's okay to share it.
"Is she okay? Did you take her to the hospital? Did you make sure she doesn't skip her meals? Eating is important when you're sick! Is it something serious? Did you make her drink a lot? Dehydration can happen just like that and you won't even know it–"
"Hyung," Jaehwan says, tapping his shoulder.
"What?" Hakyeon asks, annoyed.
He was in the middle of a conversation here.
"Taekwoon-hyung doesn't seem to know what to do with himself because of your rant," Jaehwan raises his eyebrows.
Hakyeon glances at Taekwoon, who stares at him with wide eyes, looking slightly intimidated.
"She's okay now," he says slowly.
Jaehwan shakes his head and disappears in the back.
"What choices?" Taekwoon asks.
His eyes are sparkly again. Hakyeon blinks, trying to follow the change of topic.
"Who would have thought you're so stubborn," he observes with a smirk.
Taekwoon runs away with his gaze, face suddenly more pink than a second ago. He has nice skin, Hakyeon thinks, fighting with himself not to reach out and poke his cheek.
"Shut up," he mumbles.
"I went to a party," Hakyeon says and doesn't know why. "And got really drunk and did stupid things, like a teenager."
Taekwoon stares at him, his head cocked to the side. He's adorable.
"That sounded like you were at least forty," Taekwoon observes, his mouth pulling at the corners and Hakyeon flashes furiously, hitting Taekwoon's arm.
"I bet you've never been at a party in your life!" he shoots back, embarrassed.
Taekwoon hits him back with a smile and doesn't deem it necessary to respond. Their little fight goes on until Jaehwan reminds them there are customers still there, but Hakyeon thinks he's a hypocrite. He hasn't seen Jaehwan hold back once from doing a ridiculous display during work when he wanted to. So, like the mature adult he is, he shows Jaehwan his tongue and stops looking at Taekwoon eating his cake only when the customers leave, throwing him amused smiles. He can't just ignore the work and wait for Jaehwan to clean when he's already done with the major part of their closing up routine.
"See you next week then, I guess," Hakyeon says as Taekwoon puts on his coat.
A sudden feeling of longing twists his stomach, but he pushes it down with a smile. He already embarrassed himself because of his stupid needs once, he doesn't have to repeat it every week.
Taekwoon looks up at him and for one slightly exciting, but a lot more terrifying moment, Hakyeon thinks the man knows exactly what's in his head right now. But the moment passes, Taekwoon turning around with a quiet, "Yeah." The door closes behind him with a soft chime of the bell, leaving Hakyeon with a fake grin on his face.
It's not a Tuesday. It's not even a Monday, yet. It's a freezing Friday with rain rambling on the windows and strong wind chasing the unlucky ones that didn't have a choice but to be out of their comfortable apartments. Hakyeon is alone in the café, absently scrolling through his phone. There are no customers at all; one or two have stopped by through the whole day. There is no Jaehwan either – he left early because his brother called him, rambling something about his girlfriend in what sounded like panic. Hakyeon just shooed him out after a mere glimpse of his distressed face.
So Hakyeon is alone, lulled into a weird daze by the padding of rain. He thinks vaguely of Taekwoon's face and what it would look like, if he told him the whole story about his bad life choices.
The bell by the door rings and Hakyeon wakes up. It's Sanghyuk.
"Hey, hyung," he says.
Hakyeon needs only half a second to know something is seriously off. Sanghyuk has his hood on and while it's not weird in this weather, he should have taken it off by now and show Hakyeon his toothy grin. He doesn't do either, his face hidden and shoulders tense. Hakyeon abandons the counter and pulls at him to sit him down on one of the couches.
"Show me your face," he says sternly.
A strange giggle escapes Sanghyuk then and he doesn't raise his head.
"Why? It's a weird thing to ask–"
"Sanghyuk," Hakyeon interrupts and the younger closes his mouth with a snap. "Show me your face," Hakyeon repeats, softer now.
Sanghyuk sits motionlessly for another beat. His hands are clenched tightly in his lap. He throws off his hood and Hakyeon sucks in a breath, taking in his bruised face.
"What the hell happened?" he whisper-shouts.
Sanghyuk flinches. Hakyeon wants to soothe him in some way, but touching him now doesn't seem like a good idea. So he waits, gut wrenching and nervous energy bubbling under his skin.
"I was mugged last night," Sanghyuk says finally and Hakyeon tries to hold back from all the questions that pop up in his head, but he's never been good at that, so they come out anyway.
"Did you call the police?"
Sanghyuk nods. He still won't meet Hakyeon's eyes.
"What did your mom say?" Hakyeon asks to get some kind of longer response.
Sanghyuk is quiet for a long moment and Hakyeon almost can't sit still, on edge.
"She wanted me to go home," Sanghyuk finally mutters. "My dad convinced her I'll be fine. I can't go back now, exams are in two weeks."
"Did you see their faces?" Hakyeon babbles as soon as he's done.
Sanghyuk sighs and lets Hakyeon examine his face all he wants.
"I'm not sure."
"How can you not be sure?"
Sanghyuk looks at him for the first time since he showed up. His left eye is almost closed completely because of a hideous swelling.
"I don't know, hyung, okay, I was so scared I almost pissed myself, it didn’t seem to be the perfect time to look at their faces!" he snaps and grimaces instantly.
The cut on his lip probably doesn't appreciate shouting. Hakyeon wants to cry a bit. He gently smooths a hand through Sanghyuk's hair instead.
"Did you go to the hospital?" he questions softly.
Sanghyuk's eyes are down again. He shakes his head. Hakyeon curses under his breath.
"Why not? Sanghyuk, this is serious! Did they hit your head?"
"They didn't. I'm fine, it's just my face," Sanghyuk answers quickly and then he mutters something Hakyeon can't hear.
"What was that?" he prompts.
"My chest, too," Sanghyuk says.
"Your ribs could be broken, stupid! Okay, that's it, we're going to the hospital, come on," he makes to stand up, but Sanghyuk's hand catches his wrist.
His knuckles are grated horribly.
"It was just one punch," Sanghyuk says. "Really, I'm okay."
Hakyeon deflates, falling back onto the couch.
"Was someone with you today, at least?"
"Sungjae," Sanghyuk says. "The whole day. I could barely go to the bathroom alone," there is a hint of a smile in his voice and Hakyeon calms down somewhat. "He even saw me off when I told him I want to come here."
"Okay," Hakyeon says. "That's good. Did you put anything on those bruises?"
"Not really," Sanghyuk mutters, burying his face in his scarf.
"Seriously," Hakyeon sighs again, in exasperation this time, and stands up. "I see you at least got them back a bit."
Sanghyuk smirks, but only slightly, maybe because of his lip.
"If there was only one, I would have owned him, hyung," he says, but then his smile gets lost, as he remembers, no doubt in detail, what happened.
"Hyukkie," Hakyeon starts and for the first time in forever doesn't know what else to say.
"I'm really okay, hyung," Sanghyuk says and tries to smile, but his voice is shaking.
Hakyeon turns around, because he knows that if Sanghyuk starts crying, he's going to turn into a sobbing mess in no time himself, and there is stuff to do. Like making sure Sanghyuk's bruises are taken care of properly.
"I need ten minutes, stay here," he says, already heading to the back.
"Hyung?" Sanghyuk says, but Hakyeon smiles at him reassuringly and he sags back. "Okay."
It actually takes less than ten minutes to turn everything off and fill in the sales book and then Hakyeon is pulling Sanghyuk out into the rain.
"Can you do that?" Sanghyuk asks cautiously.
Hakyeon shrugs, spending a few seconds to regret not bringing an umbrella.
"They can take that hour out of my salary, at most."
Sanghyuk bites his lips, eyebrows drawing together, but then he hisses in pain and Hakyeon rolls his eyes.
"Don't take it on yourself, okay, it's not that much and, more importantly, it's my choice to take care of the idiot who doesn't know how to do that himself, apparently."
Sanghyuk doesn't look any less guilty, but Hakyeon decides to deal with it when they're in a dry place. He closes the door and turns on the alarm, checking everything twice.
"Hyung!" Sanghyuk says suddenly, surprise in his voice, and Hakyeon turns around to find Taekwoon looking at them questioningly from under a yellow umbrella, wrapped up in the softest sweater Hakyeon has seen in his life. It's orange.
"Are you closing already?" Taekwoon asks quietly, a slight frown on his face.
Hakyeon feels misplaced for a second, like he forgot something important that now showed up unexpectedly, but then he remembers it's not Tuesday.
"Yeah, sorry," he says, an apologetic smile on his face and a spike of regret in his heart, because he wants to feed Taekwoon his cakes more than anything. "I'll bake you something delicious next time."
But Taekwoon isn't looking at him anymore, his drilling gaze on Sanghyuk and the frown a lot deeper now.
"What happened?" he asks.
Calm. Composed. Not like Hakyeon at all.
"Nothing," Sanghyuk says and corrects himself after another moment of being stared at so intensely. "I got mugged."
Taekwoon looks at him longer, expression unchanging. Then he asks, "Are you okay?"
And Hakyeon feels his stomach turn nauseatingly, because he realizes that's the only thing he didn't ask.
Sanghyuk shrugs awkwardly, his face hidden again.
"Not really," he says and it hurts a bit how he could admit it so easily to Taekwoon, while he kept repeating he's fine in front of Hakyeon.
It passes, though, as Hakyeon reminds himself Sanghyuk doesn't want to feel weak when he's with Hakyeon. He told Hakyeon once when he was really drunk that it's because he hates feeling weak in front of his mother, too. Hakyeon was also drunk then, too drunk actually, to think it's maybe a bit weird for Sanghyuk to take all those jokes about Hakyeon being their mother so seriously. He vaguely recalls they both ended up crying that night and Wonshik laughed at them being sappy so hard, he fell from his chair.
"Of course you're not okay, you can't even put a bandage on," Hakyeon grumbles, because when he's talking there is less chance he will start crying. He turns to Taekwoon who is now holding his umbrella over all of their heads somehow. "So, sorry, but you're gonna have to come again another day."
Taekwoon shakes his head a bit, still watching Sanghyuk carefully, as if he will get hurt again, if Taekwoon just takes his eyes off of him for a moment. Hakyeon huffs, probably too fondly.
"Okay, then let's go, because I'm not gonna spend another minute in this damn cold."
He drags them both by their elbows in the direction of his apartment before they can say anything else. Not that they try to, succumbing themselves to his mercy for the time being, probably because he has a roof and a warm, enclosed space to offer just a five minute walk away.
Sanghyuk plops obediently onto the couch the second Hakyeon points at it. Taekwoon's eyes light up at the mere sight of Gabriel and Hakyeon knows right away it's going to be the most serious betrayal his cat serves him. They look at each other for three seconds and then Gabriel is already purring in Taekwoon's arms, both happier than Hakyeon has ever seen them. He shakes his head and focuses on Sanghyuk.
The younger looks even worse than before, Hakyeon's lamp throwing an intense light on him, dark bruises on his face a striking contrast with his sickly pale skin. Hakyeon realizes he probably hasn't slept at all.
"It's gonna hurt," he warns, dabbing antiseptic all over his skin.
Sanghyuk clenches his jaw and lets him do whatever he thinks is necessary, Taekwoon watching from the chair closely with Gabriel lying in his lap. On his back. Hakyeon has never seen his cat show his belly to someone before. It's seriously magic or something.
It takes a longer while, but Sanghyuk has wrapped everything that was possible to wrap in a bandage, or at least covered with band aids, and Hakyeon pets his hair and tells him he's a brave boy. Sanghyuk looks at him like he doesn't know, if he should cringe first and murder Hakyeon for humiliating him like that later, or the other way round. Taekwoon snickers quietly and Sanghyuk escapes to the bathroom all red. Hakyeon shares a smirk with Taekwoon, glares at Gabriel without any effect whatsoever and heads to the kitchen. He hears quiet steps behind him, as he turns on the coffee machine, and he smiles to himself. He doesn't turn around until the coffee is done, though. He throws tiny marshmallows into Taekwoon's and sits next to him by the table.
A moment passes.
"You seem to know him well," Taekwoon says suddenly into his mug.
Hakyeon jerks, broken out of his thoughts about Taekwoon fitting into his kitchen like he's always just belonged here.
"I do," he says with conviction.
"Will he be okay?" Taekwoon asks next and Hakyeon feels warmth spread inside his chest.
"Of course he will," he murmurs softly. "He's a tough kid and he's got us."
Taekwoon's cheeks get a little pink and he smiles into his coffee. Hakyeon pictures them doing this every day, just sitting comfortably in his kitchen and drinking whatever he feels like making, coffee, tea, cocoa, lemonade, guessing what Taekwoon would like that day to see that little pleased smile on his face. He backpedals immediately. It's not like they're even friends, Taekwoon wouldn't have a reason to come over to his apartment every day, if he doesn't frequent the café more than once a week.
Sanghyuk appears in the threshold and Hakyeon slides the cocoa he made towards him. Sanghyuk rolls his eyes and clenches his teeth right after. Hakyeon can't believe how he can be so silly to forget it's going to hurt every time he uses his facial muscles too much.
They sit in silence, the rain still insistent behind the window. Sanghyuk drinks his cocoa carefully and as his mug gets more and more empty, his eyes start to droop. Hakyeon observes him the whole time, holding back with everything he has in order not to start cooing at him. Taekwoon finishes his coffee and stands up. Hakyeon starts giggling like mad when he sees the foam mustache he's sporting now. Taekwoon goes to the mirror in the hall and comes back furiously blushed, wiping at his face with a quiet shut up. He starts washing his mug before Hakyeon manages to tell him not to bother, and puts a gentle hand on Sanghyuk's shoulder as he leaves. Hakyeon follows him to the door.
"You can stay a bit longer, if you want," he says.
Taekwoon glances up at him and for a second Hakyeon is sure he's going to kiss his cheek as a goodbye.
"Thanks for the coffee," Taekwoon says and Hakyeon averts his gaze, embarrassed at his strange thoughts.
"Sure," he mumbles, laughing a bit nervously.
"Take good care of him," Taekwoon adds, even more quiet than usually.
"I will," Hakyeon says and shoos away the drama like image of Taekwoon leaving him with their kid to go on a war.
His brain is really weird sometimes.
Sanghyuk is almost asleep already when Hakyeon touches his arm and he twitches violently, looking wildly around.
"Sorry," he mumbles, rubbing his good eye.
"It's fine. Come on, we're taking a nap," Hakyeon says, pulling him to his feet, mindful of the sensitive ribs that thankfully aren't broken, but were hit pretty hard, judging by the giant yellowish-purple bruise.
"Hyung left?" Sanghyuk asks, letting himself be manhandled into Hakyeon's bedroom.
"Yeah," Hakyeon sits him on the bed carefully.
"Sorry," Sanghyuk repeats and suddenly he looks small and defenseless like the first time Hakyeon saw him.
"I told you it's fine, silly, stop it," Hakyeon murmurs, helping him get into one of his fluffy pajamas.
"Yeah," Sanghyuk agrees absently. "Okay. Thanks, hyung."
"I'm staying with you, just so you know," Hakyeon warns, searching through his closet for something comfortable.
"I know you are," Sanghyuk responds, barely audible. "Thanks."
Hakyeon wakes up early. It's gray outside the window, but he finds it easier to get up than he has for quite some time now. He supposes having a purpose makes a difference. Sanghyuk is still sound asleep, snoring softly, hands wrapped loosely around Hakyeon's middle. Hakyeon can't help but smile down at him.
He gets up carefully and heads to the bathroom, but before he can turn on the water, his phone rings. Hakyeon picks up immediately, congratulating himself his good sense that told him to take the device with him, because it's not going to wake Sanghyuk up at least.
"Did you close early yesterday?" Jaehwan asks, clearly distressed. "What happened?"
Hakyeon remembers he wrote 'because of an emergency' on the paper he stuck to the door.
"I'm gonna come over there in half an hour, I'll tell you then, okay?" Hakyeon asks and doesn't tell him not to worry.
Only then does he look at the time. It's six thirty and Hakyeon feels better about himself at this ungodly hour today than he has for at least the past few months. And it's not a Tuesday.
Eunkwang is there, as always on the weekends. Jaehwan's mouth is twisted in worry.
"How is your brother?" Hakyeon asks.
"He's fine, relationship drama," Jaehwan waves impatiently. "What happened?"
Hakyeon sighs and drags him to the back to tell him. Jaehwan looks really pale by the end.
"Is he okay?" he asks faintly, even though Hakyeon has repeated at least four times that yes, Sanghyuk is fine.
He repeats it for the fifth time and holds Jaehwan's shoulders, because he can't stay still from the nervous energy he's almost vibrating with.
"I'll take care of him," Hakyeon assures. "You don't need to worry, okay?"
Jaehwan nods, but they both know it's not going to work much. Hakyeon finds Jinki and explains everything once more.
"So you should take that hour out of my salary. I'm really sorry."
Jinki looks at him intensely for another second and then a warm smile stretches his face.
"It's fine. It was an emergency, I appreciate you came to tell me. You should take the kid to the hospital, though."
Hakyeon thanks him, feeling a bit lighter, and drops by the store on his way back to the apartment. It's still cold, but only wet pavements and the smell of ozone in the air are left after the heavy rain yesterday, the sky gray but not threatening.
Sanghyuk is still sleeping, but wakes up when Hakyeon is trying to make them both breakfast. He sits at the table quietly.
"Thanks, hyung," he says after a moment.
Hakyeon turns around to examine his face and the swelling has gone down a bit.
"You need to stop saying that, moron," Hakyeon says, flicking his ear.
"Yeah," Sanghyuk says. He doesn't get back at Hakyeon for the teasing and that's the biggest tell something isn't the way it usually is. "Okay. But it was really nice."
"You knew how I'd react, right? I mean, you wouldn't have come to me, if you didn't," Hakyeon says, busying himself with food again.
"I didn't know it would be that much," Sanghyuk's voice is almost lost in the sound of water boiling in the kettle. "So, thanks."
Hakyeon convinces himself looking back at the younger isn't a good idea. He has managed to be tough and as composed as possible over this for a whole day, he can keep this up, despite the swelling of his heart and stinging eyes. He's not going to break down in tears now.
"Have you told the others?" he asks and is a bit pleased with his voice that doesn't even waver.
"I texted Hongbin-hyung to get here as fast as he can and I wanted to call Wonshik-hyung later, too," Sanghyuk informs him, his focus already more on the food Hakyeon puts before him than on their conversation.
"I have classes in the afternoon," he grumbles, sitting down to eat too. "I can't just leave you two alone here, not after that time you almost burned the house down."
"Almost," Sanghyuk emphasizes. "That story has a happy ending."
Hakyeon flicks his ear again and Sanghyuk whines in protest. Hakyeon ignores him and makes sure he doesn't eat too fast. Sanghyuk grumbles the whole time, but lets Hakyeon dote on him either way. It feels a bit more normal already.
"We should examine you in the hospital, not loiter around here all day and make me skip classes," Hakyeon mutters, half eating, half trying to figure out if there aren't any bruises he missed the previous day.
"Are those classes very important?" Sanghyuk asks, too timidly as for him.
Hakyeon already knows he would abandon everything for those puppy eyes of his, if the need be.
"I can skip once," he says with a sigh.
Sanghyuk smiles a bit into his food and Hakyeon thinks it's totally worth it.
Hongbin doesn't really give a shit, because he maybe thinks Hakyeon's attention was enough, and gets on with teasing right away. Sanghyuk laughs with him, so Hakyeon leaves them be with an eyeroll. Wonshik shows up in panic that quickly changes into mocking the younger, too. They order pizza and Hakyeon tries not to get annoyed at them all for making a mess, because it wouldn't matter anyway. Jaehwan shows up around six and he's not alone.
Hakyeon stares at Taekwoon in surprise.
"You don't mind, right, hyung?" Sanghyuk asks sweetly and there is no trace of the morning's timidity in his behavior at all.
Hakyeon shakes his head and invites an awkwardly looking Taekwoon in with a gesture. He supposes there has always been five of them, so now it's just going to be six. It doesn't feel weird, either. Taekwoon eats four slices of pizza before he even speaks one word, but that's fine. He fits right in. At some point during the evening, Hakyeon catches himself wondering why he hasn't been there before. Taekwoon has this face between I want to laugh, this is funny and I can't laugh, this is Jaehwan as he watches the younger make an idiot out of himself. He meets Hakyeon's gaze and smiles fully.
Hakyeon's fingers are tingling. He clutches them into fists and smiles back.
Taekwoon shows up on the next Tuesday at three thirty and stays until closing. Hakyeon tries not to read too much into that. He bothers Taekwoon as often as he can, but the weather is back to being decent, which means they're busy serving college students, who are currently in desperate need of caffeine before studying for upcoming exams. Hakyeon thinks it's nice to have classes only on the weekends, even if he has to pay for them. He only has two exams and three essays to write and then there are holidays and the last half a year before he graduates. Sometimes, he thinks he could have done without an additional course, but sitting in a coffee shop all his life doesn't look that appealing.
Taekwoon lingers outside when Hakyeon is turning the lights off. It makes Hakyeon smile stupidly to himself.
"You spent half a day getting me to back off because you need to study, don't you need to be doing that now?" he asks, as he checks everything.
Taekwoon, predictably, doesn't answer. Only after Hakyeon is done and turns to him, and another minute of staring ticks by, does he say anything.
"I won't come next Tuesday."
Hakyeon's heart does a delighted swoop and he has to massage his chest to calm down.
"We're open on other days, too, you know," he tries.
Maybe if he doesn't take it seriously like Taekwoon feels obliged to inform him he can't come, as if they promised to meet, he won't risk a heart attack. Taekwoon nods, because he apparently does take it seriously.
"Last Friday was an exception," he explains. "I don't have the time on other days usually. Not before the finals."
Hakyeon feels a spike of something inside his chest at that. He doesn't try to name it.
"What about after finals?" he can't help but ask.
Taekwoon averts his gaze, but his eyes are bright.
"I can come whenever," he says, even quieter than usually.
That thing in Hakyeon's chest gets bigger and he knows it's hope. Taekwoon has a white henley on and it makes him look like he just came out of some expensive perfume commercial. It's not dark yet, but the sun is gone and the dimmed light makes his skin glow. The black hair Hakyeon remembers to be shorter when they first met flows in a soft breeze.
"You don't have to come here then," Hakyeon starts, his heart fluttering painfully. "How about I buy you something good to eat after the exams? We could take a walk."
Taekwoon still doesn't really look at him, but his eyes start sparkling at the mere mention of food. Hakyeon doesn't try to think, if that's all there is to it, because his heart might not take it well.
"Okay," Taekwoon says finally.
Hakyeon believes he knows him a bit by now, but it doesn't take countless Tuesdays to understand Taekwoon will say no, if he really doesn't want to do something. And this time, there is no glaring, no grumbling, not one half-hearted protest. Hakyeon takes it as a sign that Taekwoon, contrary to all those times he wasn't deadset against something, but still a bit reluctant, may actually like the idea. It feels nice. Like there is finally something to look forward to.
"Okay," Hakyeon echoes, unable to keep the smile off his face. "We should both go study."
Taekwoon nods and waves at him a bit awkwardly, taking off down the street. Hakyeon heads in the opposite direction, humming to himself.
The finals are crazy busy, even though Hakyeon doesn't have all that much to do. Sanghyuk passes everything with flying colors and Hakyeon feels relieved he's okay already. The rest do fine and Hakyeon has a need to nag at them, but Wonshik cuts him off irritatingly with a promise his own parents already made sure to do it perfectly well.
They get drunk. Taekwoon isn't there, because he still has a lot to do, as Sanghyuk had told them. Hakyeon finds himself lying in Hongbin's lap sometime later. Hongbin is laughing with Sanghyuk at something stupid they just said. His fingers are running through Hakyeon's hair absently. Wonshik is talking to Gabriel excitedly. Gabriel is staring at him like he's looking at a complete idiot. Hakyeon chuckles.
"You're creepy, hyung," Jaehwan tells him.
He's considering his pizza carefully. Hakyeon guesses it's because he doesn't know, if his drunk ass can take it, or if he's going to puke, after all.
"I'm not creepy," he says. "I'm fantastic."
Wonshik snorts and Hakyeon reaches out to smack him. They drink even more and Hongbin falls asleep on Jaehwan. Hakyeon tries to get up off the floor that he spent the last hour on. Jaehwan helps him roll Hongbin over to the mattress he was smart enough to prepare before they started. Sanghyuk lies down on the couch, taking up almost all of the space, but Jaehwan manages to squeeze in next to him either way. Hakyeon makes sure they're comfortable enough and trudges to his bed. He hears Wonshik exit the bathroom a minute later and expects him to join Hongbin, but Wonshik gets into his bed.
"You seem to be feeling better," he mumbles into Hakyeon's nape.
"When was I feeling worse?" Hakyeon asks.
It's nice to be hugged like this. Hakyeon thinks it's been a long time since he felt another body's warmth against his back.
"Don't bullshit me," Wonshik says. He's not as drunk anymore. "You'd been depressed."
"That's not true!" Hakyeon protests.
"You didn't feel like doing anything, hyung," Wonshik mutters softly. "It was like you just were and nothing else. Taekwoon-hyung showed up and it helped, but just like, a bit. You started being yourself again only after that whole thing with Hyuk happened."
Hakyeon doesn't think that's how it was, but he doesn't argue. He's tired. He has no idea what Wonshik says next.
Taekwoon shows up in a white shirt on the day they're supposed to meet. He looks soft and doesn't lift his gaze once when Hakyeon talks to him. Hakyeon gets him strawberry cake and talks his ear off during his entire shift. Even Jaehwan can't stand him and finally throws them both out.
Hakyeon tries not to grab Taekwoon's hand, as they move slowly down the street. It's hot, but the sun is already going down.
"Are you sure you finished everything?" Hakyeon asks.
His heart feels too big for his chest. It's almost painful, and he massages his chest begrudgingly. He's not a teenager anymore.
Taekwoon nods. It's more awkward than Hakyeon anticipated. He was sure they were close enough to talk comfortably.
"Are you sure you want to go for a walk with me?"
Not that Taekwoon has much of a choice, because Hakyeon does want to go for a walk, but he can give Taekwoon an illusion that it's still possible to back out.
Taekwoon looks up at him for the first time.
"Why would I come, if I didn't want to," he says simply.
"You might have changed your mind," Hakyeon points out.
"You said you'll buy me food," Taekwoon answers and that seems to be it.
Hakyeon snorts and they walk in silence for a bit more. There is a small breeze and the air is slowly cooling after the hot day. The sun is barely visible over the buildings already.
"Going somewhere over the summer break would be nice," Hakyeon says.
Before he has a chance to fall into his usual banter, Taekwoon says, "I'd like to visit my parents."
It's easy after that. They talk like always, wandering to the suburbs. Hakyeon feels like they've known each other for ages already. Taekwoon says more during that hour than Hakyeon's ever heard him say at the café. He learns about Taekwoon's sisters and all the animals he's had or wishes he had. It's almost dark by the time they get back to the city centre. There is some kind of festival, music playing from the direction of stalls set up on one of the markets.
A lady with a dog passes by them and Taekwoon is suddenly gone. Hakyeon turns around in confusion and then his heart swells. Taekwoon is crouching by the dog and petting it with the prettiest smile Hakyeon has ever seen on his face. The lady smiles too, apologetically, and says she has to go. Taekwoon stares after the dog for a minute and finally turns to Hakyeon. Hakyeon must have a weird expression, because Taekwoon looks down, flushing.
"Shut up," he mutters.
Hakyeon grins and pokes his cheek. Taekwoon glares at him.
"You're cute," Hakyeon laughs.
Taekwoon hits his arm, hard. Hakyeon gets back at him immediately and then they're shoving each other until they're both laughing. Well, Taekwoon is little more than just smiling, but it counts.
"Okay, okay," Hakyeon says finally, putting his hands up in defense. "Let's stop, you won."
Taekwoon looks too pleased about that. Hakyeon notices suddenly how close they are. Taekwoon does too, judging by the way his eyes widen. They look at each other for a moment and Hakyeon feels sixteen all over again, his heart thumping like crazy in his ears. He wants to move forward, but doesn't. He's not sure if it's because Taekwoon might not want it, or because they're in public, even though the park where they're standing is empty except for the faint sounds of music. Taekwoon's eyes sparkle in the orange light of nearest lamppost. Hakyeon wonders what he's even doing with his life right now and why it feels so nice to care about silly feelings for a change instead of everyday problems, like having enough money to buy cat food.
Taekwoon is the one who moves forward. Hakyeon doesn't believe it, so there is no way he can react. He barely even registers the press of Taekwoon's lips on his own. Their faces are impossibly close for half a second and then Taekwoon moves away to crouch on the ground and hide in his folded arms.
Hakyeon feels his mouth stretch slowly into a grin. He mimicks Taekwoon's pose.
"Excuse me, Jung Taekwoon-ssi," he says, poking the other's shoulder with a finger. "You were the one who kissed me, what are you doing?"
Taekwoon shakes his head without lifting it for a second. Hakyeon sighs.
"How about that food now?" he asks gently.
A man in a suit walks briskly past them, throws an annoyed look. Hakyeon glares right back. Taekwoon slowly raises his head.
"That's the spirit," Hakyeon grins, getting to his feet to help him up, too. "Come on."
Taekwoon won't look at him, but lets himself be dragged along to the market and accepts every food Hakyeon buys him without a second of hesitation, nodding in thanks every time.
They don't talk much for the rest of the evening, but that's just fine. Hakyeon knows he will have a chance for that next time. He feels light and happy, and that hasn't happened for some time now. Taekwoon finally glances at him when they stop in front of Hakyeon's apartment complex. Hakyeon assured him he'll be fine on his own twice and then just let himself feel flattered when Taekwoon kept walking with him stubbornly.
They don't kiss. They don't even hug. Hakyeon just obnoxiously smacks his lips against Taekwoon's cheek, while Taekwoon tries to get away from him. His attempts are too half-assed to be serious, though, so Hakyeon doesn't care.
They stand opposite each other for a moment. Taekwoon's hair falls into his eyes. Hakyeon doesn't reach out to brush it away. They stare carefully, cautiously, trying to guess what's going to come next in vain. Looking for the line that would help them in the dark, so that they won't miss a step. It's too thin to notice yet, though.
"I'll come by the cafe tomorrow," Taekwoon says finally.
Hakyeon fights his smile.
"But tomorrow's Monday."
Taekwoon gets a bit flustered and Hakyeon knows what he wants to say, even when it can't get out of his throat, but makes no move to help him with this struggle.
"I can come," Taekwoon gets out eventually.
The whenever I want now is there either way, as if the words left his mouth too. Hakyeon grins.
"I know," he says, playing with the keys he must have taken out of his pocket at some point. "You told me that last time."
Taekwoon flushes. His eyes are glitter. He punches Hakyeon's arm. It hurts, but Hakyeon laughs, hitting him back. This time, they don't continue the fight.
"Tomorrow, then," Hakyeon says.
It's softer than he intended. Taekwoon nods and waves at him, still a bit awkward. Hakyeon vows to himself to get a completely voluntary hug from Taekwoon someday and turns around to open the door.
"You're disgusting," Hongbin decides, watching as Hakyeon puts a latte with vanilla ice and rainbow sprinkles in front of Taekwoon.
Taekwoon glares at him and hits his arm, even as his cheeks color slightly. Hakyeon looks up at Hongbin, full of judgment.
"What are you even doing here," he says unpleasantly.
Hongbin shrugs and makes grubby hands for his own coffee. It's an unimaginably hot September afternoon and Hakyeon wouldn't be surprised if the rest dropped by to demand a cold drink. It doesn't mean he wants that to happen.
Hongbin isn't that much of an asshole either and disappears as soon as he finishes his frappe. Hakyeon sips on his lemonade, watching Taekwoon stir the remnants of foam around his glass. It's quiet, peaceful. For once, Hakyeon doesn't have the need to fill the silence with idle chatter. Birds are singing outside. Gabriel, done with his food, jumps up into Taekwoon's lap. Hakyeon has made peace with being ignored about a month before.
"You're okay now?" Taekwoon asks suddenly.
Hakyeon startles from the gentle lull he slipped into at some point and blinks at him with a frown.
"When wasn't I okay?" he asks carefully.
Taekwoon isn't looking at him but at his empty glass.
"That time you told me about the party," he starts cautiously. "Didn't sound like you were okay."
Hakyeon is surprised Taekwoon even remembered something as trivial as this. He smiles, small and private.
"I'm okay," he assures.
Taekwoon nods, an awkward jerk of his head. His face is even more red now. He doesn't like to show that he cares.
"That's good," he mumbles.
Hakyeon feels his chest swell with affection.
"You want some cake?"
Taekwoon finally looks up, dark eyes sparkling. Hakyeon snorts and retrieves yesterday baked tart with strawberries from his fridge. Taekwoon doesn't pay much attention to anything else when he eats, but that's perfectly okay, because Hakyeon could just watch him devour his cakes all his life.
It's been a few weeks since Taekwoon has gotten used to spending time at Hakyeon's apartment after the cafe closes. It's been a few weeks since Hakyeon has gotten exactly what he wanted instead of lonely evenings. He doesn't feel sixteen anymore, dealing with real problems like a real adult, but that's fine, because he's not the only one. Taekwoon doesn't shy away when they kiss anymore, but he still can't bring himself to hug Hakyeon without being prompted. And that's okay, too. It's a work in progress, just like figuring out how to make them function properly together.
"Hakyeon," Taekwoon says softly with his mouth full of cake.
"Yeah?" Hakyeon asks, waking up from another trance.
"Can you make me another drink?"
Hakyeon smiles to himself, standing up to open the fridge.
"You don't want a drink, too, Gabriel?" Taekwoon asks the cat.
Hakyeon's smile grows, the kitchen filled with gentle purring.