Chapter 1: I
The high collar of Jaehwan’s red cape was messing with the back of his head and the ruff around his neck was itchy. The horns on top of his head had probably collected half of the loose cobwebs hanging down from the ceiling, but he couldn’t care about them anymore. He didn’t want to be here among all these monsters: tens of witches and werewolves and ghosts and… skeletons. What’s up with all the walking skeletons, anyway?
From his peripheral vision, he saw pitch black, velvety feathers moving towards him between the strange creatures, a tacky grey scythe helping its owner advance towards Jaehwan. When the Angel of Death finally stopped in front of him, Jaehwan saw how rosy his cheeks were under the dark shadows framing his eyes.
“Next time you need to get your own drink,” Hakyeon grumbled as he handed an open bottle of beer to Jaehwan. “It’s so fucking hot in here; why isn’t anyone opening a window?”
“Decorations,” Jaehwan shrugged, pointing at the paper bat garlands and sticky cobwebs in front of the windows.
Hakyeon mumbled something about ‘useless shit’, but then a blonde girl dressed in a racy cop costume stopped in front of them, flashing white teeth from behind her luscious red lips.
“Hello, guys,” she said, giving both of them a once-over. Her smile seemed to widen as she looked up at Hakyeon’s face again. “Trick or treat?” She fluttered her long, false eyelashes, holding up a pair of plastic handcuffs in one hand and a small basket already full of sweets in the other.
“I’m gay,” Hakyeon declared flatly, resuming scanning the crowd for something or someone. (Definitely someone.)
“And I choose treat, thanks!” Jaehwan said happily, grinning as he grabbed a handful of the sweets in her basket and put them in his pocket.
The girl’s smile faltered and she grimaced, saying “Assholes” before turning around, deliberately swaying her hips in her blue mini dress.
“There he is,” Hakyeon said and practically started vibrating next to Jaehwan.
“Taekwoon?” Jaehwan asked wearily, taking a sip of his beer. “Thank God, I’ve been beginning to think he died.”
“Seems like he did,” Hakyeon said cheerfully, like that was something to be cheerful about.
And indeed Taekwoon’s face looked greyish green with some fake dark wounds and stitches above his left eyebrow and on his right cheek, the dirty and torn T-shirt with the similarly disgusting zip up hoodie making him look like a homeless guy about to puke. Hakyeon looked like he could swoon from the sight anytime.
“He hangs out with that Sanghyuk guy way too much,” Hakyeon scoffed when Taekwoon and Sanghyuk greeted each other with some kind of pretentious bro-handshake. “Why is a 4th year Engineering student hanging out with a Chemistry freshman anyway?”
“They could be friends with benefits,” Jaehwan offered, laughing at the murderous glance Hakyeon sent him. “Or they could just be friends.”
Sanghyuk then reached into his pocket under his stupidly authentic vampire cape, grinning with his stupidly white teeth as he shoved a small plastic bag into Taekwoon’s hand, seemingly trying to hide the mysterious item from those who were standing around them. Jaehwan narrowed his eyes.
“And business partners,” he murmured. “Do you think it’s some kind of drug?”
“No!” Hakyeon exclaimed, indignant. “Taekwoon wouldn’t use drugs.”
“Well, he’s giving Sanghyuk a nice wad of cash though,” Jaehwan said, not approving of the shady exchange whatsoever.
The thing was that Jaehwan didn’t like Taekwoon, but he felt an even deeper antipathy for Sanghyuk. He didn’t know the boy personally, but he had heard about him from Hongbin who had gone to the same high school as him, and so Jaehwan knew Sanghyuk had a history with the police. Hongbin could never really tell him about the details—“I just heard he did something bad,” he said. But ever since Sanghyuk had come to study at their university, Jaehwan kept an eye on him. Hakyeon always joked about how Jaehwan had a crush on Sanghyuk, but that was absolutely ridiculous and Jaehwan always felt like slapping Hakyeon for such comments. True, Sanghyuk had stupid shiny black hair and a stupidly cute fleshy nose and a pair of stupid, nicely-shaped eyes as well as stupid pink lips he liked to wet with his tongue a little too much between two stupid smirks, and he was also stupidly tall, but Jaehwan would never have a crush on him. He didn’t like bad guys.
“It can’t be drugs,” Hakyeon said now, sounding a bit devastated.
Sanghyuk, however, leant close to Taekwoon, whispering something into his ear, and then Taekwoon nodded, skittering away and getting lost in the crowd.
“I’m going there,” Hakyeon said determinedly and grabbed Jaehwan by the wrist, tugging him along as if Jaehwan was his belonging without which he couldn’t show up anywhere.
“But I don’t want to go!” Jaehwan shrieked in vain. “Wait, my pitchfork!”
Hakyeon didn’t wait for Jaehwan to get his plastic pitchfork from where it stood in the corner, and instead hurried to Sanghyuk.
“Hi,” he greeted the boy who seemed to wince in surprise as he glanced down at Jaehwan and Hakyeon’s duo. Jaehwan felt like a Hobbit looking up at an Ent.
He wouldn’t watch The Lord of the Rings ever again.
“Oh, hey,” Sanghyuk smirked.
“Nice vampire costume,” Hakyeon said, stretching his neck to look for Taekwoon. His head looked like a periscope in the sea of people.
Sanghyuk laughed and shook his head.
“I’m not a vampire.”
“We must have different ideas about what makes a vampire,” Jaehwan grimaced, motioning vaguely at Sanghyuk’s white-painted face, slicked-back black hair, and the cape that looked a bit too short and only reached his ankles. He looked like a little boy who had outgrown his favourite trousers.
“No, you’re misunderstanding me,” Sanghyuk said, unfazed by Jaehwan’s biting comment. “I’m dressed as Bela Lugosi.”
Jaehwan cocked an eyebrow and tried not to roll his eyes too conspicuously.
Bela Lugosi – how snobbish.
“So, you’re a human dressed as a human dressed as a vampire,” Jaehwan drew the conclusion.
“How cool,” Hakyeon said and then his voice changed to a higher pitch as he said, “Oh, hello, Taekwoon.”
Taekwoon mumbled a ‘hello’, suspiciously rubbing his nose and sniffling as he handed Sanghyuk a cup of disgustingly turquoise liquid with something white and steam-like floating up from it, but the drink somehow still looked cold, if the condensation on the side of the transparent plastic cup was any indication. Taekwoon took a tissue out of his pocket and blew his nose. Jaehwan and Hakyeon shared a look which, on Jaehwan’s part meant “I told you” and on Hakyeon’s meant “Please, tell me this isn’t what it looks like”.
Jaehwan was sure it was cocaine. Well, he was only sure it was cocaine because he didn’t really know much about drugs (except weed which he had tried twice before), and cocaine was the only one he knew was meant to be consumed through the nose. Taekwoon looked shady enough to use such things and Sanghyuk looked shady enough to trade such things. It was as clear as day.
“This is really good,” Sanghyuk nodded at Taekwoon after taking a sip of his drink. He turned to Jaehwan then, holding up the cup. “Do you want to try it?”
Jaehwan opened his mouth to say something—to lecture Sanghyuk about human relationships and especially about the non-existent relationship between the two of them, and about how he would never even want to touch something a criminal like Sanghyuk had touched before him.
But Jaehwan was weak and he was extra weak for neon-coloured, syrupy, sweet-looking drinks. He took the cup, keeping his eyes on Sanghyuk as long as he could. He might have just imagined it, but Sanghyuk’s cheeks looked a bit pinker than they originally had when Jaehwan gave him back his drink which tasted extremely good.
“Can I try it, too?” Hakyeon asked, blinking at Taekwoon innocently, smiling that sweet smile of his that made humans of all genders and sexual orientations melt. It had made even Jaehwan melt once, but that’s another story and by now Jaehwan knew the raw and almost animalistic intention behind that smile. He shivered from the thought.
Taekwoon frowned momentarily in confusion, but let Hakyeon take the cup from him, holding it with two hands as he took a sip, his eyelashes fluttering prettily when he returned the cup to Taekwoon and somehow managed to influence the movements of his oesophagus, swallowing slowly and pursing his lips like a kitten drinking too cold milk. Taekwoon seemed a bit dazed.
“That was… sweet,” Hakyeon giggled, licking his lips. Taekwoon followed the movement with his eyes, mesmerized.
“Okay, we really need to go now,” Jaehwan said, grabbing Hakyeon’s arm. He really didn’t want to spend the night in the common room of their dorm, sleeping fitfully on a couch and waiting for Hakyeon to materialize next to him in a T-shirt he had haphazardly thrown on, smiling like a fool and telling Jaehwan he could go back to their shared bedroom. He also didn’t really want to freeze to death from having the window open in order to let out the stuffy, sweaty air that screamed sex. (But if he had to choose, he’d rather freeze to death than inhale the scents of Hakyeon and someone else’s condemnable deed.)
Hakyeon made a wailing noise, but it was now Jaehwan’s turn to drag him away. Before they could have fought their way through the crowd though, Jaehwan felt a hand on his shoulder.
“Jaehwan,” Sanghyuk said and when Jaehwan turned on his heels, they were so close to each other the tip of Jaehwan’s nose almost touched Sanghyuk’s lips. Jaehwan was sure the piercing sensation in his chest was a delayed reaction to the ice cold beverage, just as the sudden change of the speed of his heartbeat was. He took a step back. “Um, good night,” Sanghyuk said almost sheepishly and Jaehwan nodded jerkily.
He saw from the corner of his eye how Hakyeon glanced longingly at Taekwoon one last time before they left the main hall and in it, two possible criminals.
Jaehwan dreamt about Sanghyuk that night and woke up with an annoying and embarrassing morning wood.
Chapter 2: II
The Indian summer brought with it a warm air that was unusual even compared to the unseasonable warmth that made Indian summer what it was.
Jaehwan and Hakyeon had decided to spend the afternoon in the park of the campus, pretending to study for their Maths test the day after. Jaehwan went to get his favourite iced coffee from the cafeteria, mixing five packets of sugar into his drink before walking back towards the tree under which Hakyeon was lying on his stomach, no doubt daydreaming about Taekwoon while drawing small hearts in his textbook and writing CHY × JTW in the middle of them. He was like a schoolgirl.
Jaehwan wanted to mock him and sing the Kissing Song, but then he noticed a tall, familiar figure lurking behind the wall of the Science building, looking as if he was up to no good.
Sanghyuk’s hair fell into his forehead, his faded black T-shirt stretching on his back as he bent over somewhat, taking a worn backpack off his shoulder. Jaehwan narrowed his eyes and hid in a niche, peeking from behind the wall.
“You can’t tell anyone, understand?” Sanghyuk asked in a low voice and he sounded so serious it made the hairs on Jaehwan’s arms stand on end. He tried to make himself believe it wasn’t from Sanghyuk sounding extremely hot while giving orders. (Jaehwan gulped down half of his coffee to freeze his irrational brain.) “You need to be very careful. Promise me you won’t show it to anyone.”
“I promise,” came the shaky, scared whisper.
“Good girl,” Sanghyuk said, making Jaehwan’s stomach tie into knots.
The praise made him remember the dream that kept returning to him: Sanghyuk towering over him, backing him up against a wall until Jaehwan could barely breathe from the close proximity of their bodies and he felt Sanghyuk’s heartbeat in his own chest. In his dream Sanghyuk would always lean close to his ear then and whisper his name—“Jaehwan, Jaehwan, Jaehwan” over and over—and when Jaehwan felt Sanghyuk’s breath ghost over his lips… he would always wake up angry and uncomfortable and hated Sanghyuk a little bit more than the day before.
“Spying on others, are we?”
Jaehwan took a sharp breath, blinking fast to force himself back into reality as Sanghyuk stood in front of him with his hands in his jeans’ pockets, cocking his head to the side curiously, his ever-present smirk making him appear rather condescending.
“What I’m doing here is none of your business,” Jaehwan grumbled, lifting his coffee to his mouth, but before he could have drunk from it through the straw, the cup got snatched away from him, Sanghyuk beaming at him victoriously.
Jaehwan watched Sanghyuk wrap his mouth around the straw, and when he smacked his lips in a satisfied manner, Jaehwan felt like kicking the boy in the shin.
“I’ll see you around,” Sanghyuk said, holding up the coffee to its ex-owner, thus bidding goodbye to Jaehwan before sauntering away, no doubt squaring his shoulders just because he knew how broad they were and how attractive that might look to certain bystanders.
“Nice back,” Hakyeon (one of two certain bystanders) said, appearing next to Jaehwan. “But he could work on his butt a little bit more.”
“Says the one who’s crushing on Mr. Pancake Ass,” Jaehwan mumbled.
“Oh, so now you’re defending him?” Hakyeon snorted, elbowing into Jaehwan’s side. “We could go on double dates!”
“If I still had my coffee, I’d throw it in your face,” Jaehwan said and turned around, walking towards the dormitories, mourning his loss.
Chapter 3: III
Sanghyuk thought he was so clever, but Jaehwan knew he was even cleverer than a boy who kept conducting fishy business among the trees in the park, behind the bookshelves of the library, and in the dirty toilet stalls of the men’s room. Therefore Jaehwan, quite unlike himself, took notes—too bad those notes wouldn’t help him pass his Geometry exam.
“See? He met up with that guy, Wonshik, in the library,” Jaehwan told Hakyeon, sticking his notes under Hakyeon’s nose and covering the screen of Hakyeon’s phone.
“That doesn’t mean anything,” Hakyeon said, batting away Jaehwan’s hand so he could continue scrolling through his Twitter feed.
“Of course it does!” Jaehwan exclaimed and climbed up on Hakyeon’s bed, pointing at his notes. “Neither Sanghyuk nor Wonshik ever go to the library, and we all know Wonshik is high on something ten hours out of the twelve he spends awake! They were whispering in the corner!”
“Jaehwan,” Hakyeon sighed and sat up in bed, cupping Jaehwan’s cheeks in both hands. “With all due respect and with all the love I feel for you… you’re being paranoid and your obsession with Sanghyuk is starting to grate on my nerves. Go and kiss him or tell him to sleep with you, just— please, do something about this, because I’m near suicidal from the whole thing, okay?”
Jaehwan stayed utterly still for a few tense moments, his cheeks gradually heating up under Hakyeon’s soft palms. When he next spoke, his voice trembled with suppressed anger.
“I wanted to share the brownies I bought today with you,” he said, “but I don’t share my food with people who aren’t my friends.”
With that, he stood up, and spent the rest of the evening glowering at Hakyeon from his bed while munching on his brownies and pouting at every single bite.
Chapter 4: IV
Jaehwan kept bouncing up and down next to Hakyeon while a member of the student government was explaining the rules of the treasure hunt to them, talking about maps and paths and colourful envelopes hidden in the forest, but Jaehwan was deaf to all of those things. Earlier during his speech, the student government representative mentioned that the prize would be “something invaluably sweet”, which, to Jaehwan, meant a huge chocolate cake, or a piñata filled with chocolate bars and sour candy and lollipops, or maybe a giant box of assorted doughnuts (with delicious vanilla glaze and raspberry filling and sprinkled with popping candy). The list of mouth-watering possibilities was endless and Jaehwan’s stomach rumbled loudly at the thought of them.
“I’d like you to form groups of four,” the guy said and Jaehwan stopped bouncing.
“Let’s just hope he fucked up the maths and we can stay alone,” Jaehwan told Hakyeon, but the noisy crowd started moving on the clearing like one giant body and two figures appeared in front of them. “Oh, no. Quick! Let’s hide!”
“Are you insane?!” Hakyeon hissed. “I’ve been trying to get close to Jung Taekwoon for months; I’m not going to run away from him!”
Jaehwan mewled pathetically as Sanghyuk, with that shit-eating grin on his face and a hand on the shoulder of a rather reluctant Taekwoon led the older towards Jaehwan and Hakyeon.
“Guess the four of us have to be in a team,” Sanghyuk singsonged.
Jaehwan, who had previously tried to hide behind Hakyeon’s back, stuck his head out now, trying to look for other available people, but they were the only ones remaining without a group. He wanted to head-butt Hakyeon from behind so badly.
Jaehwan watched Hakyeon take one of the five different maps from the student government representative, and folded is arms in front of his chest, walking sulkily behind Hakyeon, Taekwoon and Sanghyuk, keeping some distance from them and kicking away stray pebbles. As if mirroring Jaehwan’s sombre mood, the sky suddenly became overcast.
“What’s up, Jaehwan-ah?” Sanghyuk asked, dropping behind to walk with Jaehwan.
“How dare you call me that,” Jaehwan grumbled, the quiet sound of a faraway thunder emphasizing the murderous look he sent Sanghyuk. “And don’t talk to me.”
“Sorry, I got tired of third-wheeling over there,” he pointed at Hakyeon who chuckled obnoxiously at whatever Taekwoon had or had not said, leaning on Taekwoon’s arm.
Jaehwan was not going to give in to Sanghyuk so easily, so he stopped walking which Sanghyuk only noticed after more than two metres. When Sanghyuk turned around with an eyebrow cocked questioningly, Jaehwan pursed his lips.
“Go ahead,” he said. “I’ll go after you; just go.”
“Jaehwan, come on,” Sanghyuk rolled his eyes. “Do you really hate me that much?”
But Jaehwan didn’t reply. Instead, he looked up at the now steel-grey sky from where cold raindrops kept falling, landing on Jaehwan’s hair and face.
“It’s raining,” he stated the obvious, and the thunder that followed his words seemed to shake the earth under his feet. Up above the dry, half-dead branches of the trees, a lightning bolt crossed the sky.
“We need to get back to the clearing!” Sanghyuk yelled through the sound of the heavy rain falling on the leaf litter.
Jaehwan turned around—he looked left and looked right and looked behind himself, but Hakyeon and Taekwoon and with them the map were nowhere to be found. The wind violently ruffled his wet hair.
“And which way did we come from?” Jaehwan asked, another thunder resounding through the forest. He decided it was best if they found the map, so he bellowed from the top of his lungs, “Hakyeon! Taekwoon! Where are you?!”
Panic started rising in him when neither Hakyeon, nor Taekwoon answered, and he heard an awful cracking noise as if a tree got broken into half. He jogged up to Sanghyuk who was fiddling with his phone under the lapel of his jacket.
“What the hell are you doing?” Jaehwan asked, trying to curl in on himself to become as small as possible. The less the surface the less rain would get on him. He’d also have less of a chance of being struck by lightning. Science was a beautiful magic.
“I’m trying to get us out of here, but there’s no service,” Sanghyuk said with branches crackling above their heads. “Fuck, we need to get out of here!”
“I know, but why are you yelling at me?!” Jaehwan all but screamed.
“I’m not yelling at you!” Sanghyuk shouted back. “Okay, come on.” When Jaehwan looked down at Sanghyuk’s palm held out to him as if it was a dead rat, Sanghyuk became impatient. “Come on, Jaehwan, I don’t have any diseases, I promise! Take my fucking hand!”
Jaehwan took his hand, but not before stamping his feet a little. They started running in a direction Sanghyuk must have felt right, and some of the trees did seem familiar to Jaehwan until some point after which he was utterly lost. Sanghyuk, however, must have had a destination, running so fast Jaehwan felt like he was only floating behind.
Sanghyuk stopped at the edge of a frightfully unfamiliar row of rocks under which the forest floor continued a few metres lower. It was like a massive step and Jaehwan sort of expected another one to appear in the distance, leading even lower into the woods.
“We’ll need to jump,” Sanghyuk said then, letting go of Jaehwan’s hand and leaping from the edge. He landed with a small slip on the wet leaves. “Jaehwan, jump!”
“This is too high!” Jaehwan whined, shaking his head. “I’m going to break my legs!”
“You’re going to break all of your bones if you stay there and a tree falls on you!”
“What’s the chance?”
“Fifty-fifty; it either does or it does not happen, but— Jaehwan, come on!”
Jaehwan felt hot tears stinging his eyes as the storm seemed to start raging even more wildly. He was so cold and scared and he wanted to murder Hakyeon for disappearing—he just wanted to go back to the dorm.
“I’ll catch you,” Sanghyuk said then, wiping the rain out of his eyes and pushing his fringe back to see Jaehwan. He was blinking rapidly so as not to let the rain fall into his eyes. “I’ll catch you, I promise, just jump!”
“I don’t believe you!”
“Jaehwan, I swear to—” a roaring thunder and a blinding flash, “I swear to God!”
Jaehwan took a deep breath and sat down on the edge of the rocks, his fingers turning white as he tried to grip the stone under his butt. He didn’t trust Sanghyuk whatsoever and he especially didn’t want to be indebted to Sanghyuk for saving his legs, but the trees around him were now cracking and breaking constantly and he wasn’t ready to die yet. So he jumped.
Jaehwan kept his eyes closed while he was falling and only opened them when he felt his body stop in mid-air, his feet still not touching the ground. He knit his brows and looked up to see Sanghyuk smirk again.
“What are you grinning at?!” Jaehwan yelled. “Put me down!”
Sanghyuk huffed, but he did as he was told and Jaehwan suddenly found himself sitting in a narrow hollow between two rocks, shaded from the downpour. Sanghyuk sat down next to him, leaning back and breathing loudly, stretching out his legs.
“This is it?” Jaehwan asked and Sanghyuk let his head loll to the side to look at Jaehwan. “Are we just going to sit here?”
Outside of their shelter a thick branch fell off one of the trees, landing on the ground with a thump.
“I am,” Sanghyuk nodded. “You’re free to go if you want.”
Jaehwan only held his own arms tighter.
“Didn’t they check the weather forecast?” Jaehwan grumbled, just to do something about the awkward atmosphere. “How long do you think this’ll last?”
“Not too long,” Sanghyuk replied.
“How do you know?”
“I just know,” Sanghyuk shrugged.
Jaehwan rolled his eyes, but didn’t say anything else.
No matter how much they hid from the rain, the cold November wind still found its way into the cavity, making Jaehwan’s teeth chatter. He pulled up his knees and hugged them, trying to warm himself up a little, but his hoodie was drenched and nothing felt warm anymore. There was some rustling then and Sanghyuk took his jacket off, laying it on Jaehwan’s shoulders.
“What are you doing?” Jaehwan asked, frowning.
“You seemed to be cold.”
“Yeah, but you’re going to catch a cold like that,” Jaehwan said, motioning at Sanghyuk’s torso which was only clad in a T-shirt now.
“I’m a tough cookie, I’ll be fine.”
“Thanks,” Jaehwan mumbled.
There was silence again and it stretched on as if it was meant to contrast the storm outside. Jaehwan had to admit that no matter how much he didn’t like Sanghyuk, it would have been a lot worse if he had got lost alone. He was grateful somewhat, but he didn’t want to tell Sanghyuk just yet. On the other hand, he probably wouldn’t have got lost if it hadn’t been for Sanghyuk.
“Can I ask you a question?”
Jaehwan looked at Sanghyuk who was worrying his lower lip between his teeth, goosebumps running over his bare arms. Jaehwan nodded.
“Why are you always so hostile to me?” Sanghyuk asked and he didn’t look embarrassed or sad—his eyes were clear and curious.
“Ah,” Jaehwan groaned, “is this when we make up and become best friends and the rain stops and we see rainbows and butterflies and live happily ever after?”
Sanghyuk laughed unhappily at that and shook his head, taking a stick from the ground and drawing circles into the mud with it. “Forget it,” he said.
“Okay,” Jaehwan sighed. “I can’t say no to kids with sad puppy eyes.”
“I’m 19!” Sanghyuk exclaimed. “I’m not a kid!”
Sure, Jaehwan knew that. In fact, he had first noticed Sanghyuk wasn’t a kid when they had run into each other on the corridor while Jaehwan had been on his way to the bathroom from where Sanghyuk had just appeared and another freshman thought it would be funny to pull the fluffy white towel Sanghyuk had been wearing around his hips off him. Sanghyuk had cursed while the other guy had run off, and Jaehwan had stood there, rooted to the spot and his eyes glued to Sanghyuk’s dick (and later, when he had turned around to retrieve his towel, his ass).
The memory still made Jaehwan flush, and it very often featured in his wet dreams.
“I know you’re a drug dealer,” Jaehwan said, ever so straightforward so he would chase the memory of Sanghyuk’s most treasured organs out of his head. “I saw you conducting your… business no less than six times in the last month.”
“Oh, yeah, I remember catching you lurking,” Sanghyuk replied rather scornfully.
“Yes, well, I needed evidence! I can’t let a criminal walk around campus, giving drugs to innocent people!”
“Why, what are you? An undercover cop?”
“And what if I am?”
“You’re being irrational,” Sanghyuk said. “God, Jaehwan, you can’t be so naïve. Has no one ever told you not to believe everything you see?”
“Hongbin told me you got into trouble with the police back in high school,” Jaehwan declared.
“When the mall security guard caught me stealing a lighter from a convenience store?” Sanghyuk raised his eyebrows.
“He didn’t know details,” Jaehwan muttered. “But still! You gave something in a plastic bag to Taekwoon at the Halloween party for which you got money from him, and then he disappeared and came back rubbing his nose like he had just snorted something.”
“That thing in the plastic bag was dry ice which he put into the punch bowl to spice up the party as one of the hosts!” Sanghyuk said indignantly. “I bought it for him from Professor Lee! And he had a cold!”
Jaehwan gaped like a fish, but couldn’t let Sanghyuk win. He felt his face heat up again and this time it wasn’t from a naughty memory.
“You gave something to a girl behind the Science building and told her not to show it to anyone,” Jaehwan continued listing Sanghyuk’s crimes. “And then you took my coffee!”
“I gave her the answer keys I’d stolen from Professor Choi,” Sanghyuk sighed. “I’m sure you still remember how hard the first year Statistics final was. My entire group would’ve failed if I hadn’t stolen the answers and she’d heard I had them, so she asked me for them.”
“Nice story,” Jaehwan said sceptically. “What about Kim Wonshik and the library? I don’t see either of you there too often.”
“Okay, I admit—”
“I knew it!”
“—that that was part of my prank on you.”
“I noticed you following me around,” Sanghyuk said and now he was smirking again with no trace of regret on his face. “I wanted to know how long it would take for you to confront me about acting shady—because yes, Hakyeon told Taekwoon you thought we were both shady. And if you’re curious about why Taekwoon and I hang out so often: he used to be my neighbour when we were children. We’re not friends with benefits.”
“These are bloody lies,” Jaehwan shook his head. “How should I know you’re not lying?”
“You don’t need to believe me,” Sanghyuk shrugged.
Jaehwan wanted to believe him. Sanghyuk kept looking him in the eye and Jaehwan wasn’t a very good judge of character, but he knew when someone was lying and Sanghyuk wasn’t. Maybe it was just Jaehwan being obsessed with him as Hakyeon had said; Sanghyuk was nice and Jaehwan was too eager to find something not to like about him, because liking him would have been too dangerous. He mystified Sanghyuk to the point he made himself believe Sanghyuk was the spawn of Satan, and it was so easy to feel disgusted with him while Jaehwan walked into his trap and noted down everything he found suspicious about Sanghyuk. He felt so stupid.
“Look, Jaehwan, I really like you,” Sanghyuk said, sounding honest. “And I don’t want you to hate me.”
Jaehwan’s heart fluttered in his chest like a frantic bird, the heat in his cheeks almost making him sweat. He looked up at Sanghyuk and saw something different on him: Sanghyuk wasn’t smirking but he was smiling sadly. Jaehwan really wanted to kiss him.
And so he did.
Sanghyuk’s lips were soft and warm like they were in Jaehwan’s dreams, like when Jaehwan was daydreaming about him in boring classes, about the two of them cuddling on Jaehwan’s bed. They weren’t anywhere near such a comfy surface now and it was extremely cold, but even through the shivers that ran through both of them, Jaehwan could enjoy the way Sanghyuk kissed him back, pulling him close. There was rainwater in their mouths and Sanghyuk’s wet fringe was tickling Jaehwan’s nose. He felt Sanghyuk’s arm around his waist and Jaehwan soon found himself half in Sanghyuk’s lap. He never wanted it to stop raining.
The ringing of Jaehwan’s phone made them stop abruptly. Jaehwan’s eyes widened from the realization that he was making out with Han Sanghyuk somewhere in a forest, sitting inside a rock like two cavemen. He quickly got off Sanghyuk (who looked lovely with the bridge of his fleshy nose dusted with pink) and answered the call.
“Hakyeon!” he yelled. “Where the fuck are you?!”
“We’re on the clearing, but where are you?! And where’s Sanghyuk? Everyone came back when it started raining, but you two—”
“I hate you, Hakyeon, I—”
Sanghyuk took the phone from Jaehwan. “Hey Hakyeon, this is Sanghyuk,” he said and twisted away from Jaehwan who tried to get his phone back. “We’ll be there in a few minutes. Okay. Bye.”
“I was about to lecture him,” Jaehwan grouched.
“You can lecture him as soon as we’re out of here.” Sanghyuk took out his own phone and opened the newly working map application. “Let’s go.”
The wind outside had subsided and it wasn’t raining as awfully as it had, the clouds in the sky becoming less dark as the sunshine tried to break through them. Sanghyuk took Jaehwan’s hand and helped him up, climbing the rocks like he had been practising. Jaehwan followed him a bit clumsily. As soon as Jaehwan made it to the top of the rocks, Sanghyuk held his hand again, lacing their fingers almost shyly. He felt Sanghyuk trembling beside him as they walked in silence with Sanghyuk checking his phone every now and again.
“You know,” Sanghyuk said suddenly, “we could go grab coffee together sometime. I’ll buy you an iced coffee for the one I took from you.”
“I’m going to kick your ass if you buy me anything cold after we’re out of this icy hell.”
Sanghyuk laughed with his eyes crinkling and when Jaehwan wanted to let go of his hand as soon as they got to the edge of the clearing, Sanghyuk tightened his grip around his fingers.
Jaehwan felt himself smirk in the same way Sanghyuk always did.
Chapter 5: Epilogue
Studying together for finals in the common room was a very, very bad idea.
Hakyeon kept chirping and whispering and chattering and giggling in Taekwoon’s lap—he had climbed there like a child would climb into his parent’s lap.
“Can’t we just go to our room?” Jaehwan asked, looking up at Sanghyuk from where he rested his head on Sanghyuk’s thighs.
Sanghyuk looked up from his Physics textbook, glancing first at Jaehwan’s suffering expression and then at Taekwoon who looked like a frightened wild animal about to be eaten alive by an overly enthusiastic anaconda. Hakyeon was now kissing Taekwoon’s cheek and Taekwoon forced a smile, patting Hakyeon’s back. Jaehwan didn’t really understand the nature of their relationship yet, but he supposed if Taekwoon hadn’t run away in the last two months, he’d have enough time to figure out the two of them later.
“Okay, let’s go,” Sanghyuk said and closed his book, leaving it on the floor.
As soon as Jaehwan opened the door to his and Hakyeon’s room, Sanghyuk took his shoes and socks off, putting one of said socks on the doorknob.
“We’re supposed to study, you idiot,” Jaehwan chastised him, but he wasn’t really serious.
“My original plan was to be a Biology major,” Sanghyuk said then, grinning like a Cheshire cat as he locked the door from the inside and stepped to Jaehwan, wrapping his arms around his middle and kissing along the column of Jaehwan’s neck.
“And what happened?” Jaehwan chuckled, both because Sanghyuk was being cheesy and because his neck was very ticklish.
“I didn’t practise enough.”
Jaehwan burst out laughing as Sanghyuk pushed him down on the bed, his fingers crawling up under Jaehwan’s shirt and tickling his side, making Jaehwan kick out in frustration and nearly die from laughter. Sanghyuk soon stopped tickling him—probably because he didn’t want to be kicked in the balls. He pulled back to look into Jaehwan’s eyes, sweeping Jaehwan’s hair out of his forehead.
“Jaehwan,” he called his name softly as if it was something sacred. Jaehwan’s heart felt very happy about it.
“I can’t believe you thought I was a drug dealer.”
Jaehwan laughed again, because he expected something big—a confession, a compliment, maybe something vaguely sexy.
“I mean, I don’t even have money to buy food sometimes!” Sanghyuk exclaimed. “Shouldn’t I be super rich if I sold cocaine?”
Jaehwan was sure his giggling fit wouldn’t die down anytime soon, so he pushed Sanghyuk off himself, the boy laughing with him as they lay on the bed, Jaehwan curling up under Sanghyuk’s arm and shaking with the suppressed noises of his laughter.
He wanted to stay there forever.