“Get up, bitch!” Juho jumped at the loud scream from his roommate, feeling a dead weight on his back from the boy laying on him. He groaned, trying to flip him over.
“Why am I getting up? You’re the one leaving.” Juho rolled over, staying well under the covers, but now watching Sanghyuk’s movements. The boy was bustling around, jumping like a child on Christmas while playing music from his phone. Truth be told, Juho forgot about what Sanghyuk was so eager for, and Sanghyuk seemed offended by that.
“Seriously? It’s the parade, dude! I told you last night.” Sanghyuk put his hair back into a beanie, a signature look of his.
“In my defense, dude, I was on a major high and didn’t even know my own name.” Juho’s voice was raspy, clearly unused for some amount of time during the night. All he could remember about last night was a room with colorful lights, smoke hazing his view, and pills. Maybe some vaporwave as well.
“Okay, fine, fair enough. But you still coming. We’ve been waiting for this! I’ll be back in 20, you better be up!” Sanghyuk dashed out of the room; to where—Juho couldn’t care less. He was just glad it was quiet.
He had no headache this morning, which was a little unusual. His limbs felt stiff, and he extended his body to stretch, feeling relaxed afterward. He stared up at the ceiling, listening to the chatter happening in the hallways of the dorm building. Another memory came back to him suddenly. A boy. A tall boy, with black hair and eyes that shone every time the color on the disco ball-like thing would change from red to pink to orange. A bite on his neck, lips by his ear.
He brought his hand up to touch his neck, and it was sore, he assumed there was a mark if it was sore like that. He groaned. He can’t remember anything else about this kid. Just that he was tall, probably seductive as fuck, also probably handsome as fuck if Juho deemed him worthy enough to bite his neck.
Juho sat up, watching the way the room spun before he had to close his eyes. Once that was over, he stood and walked to the mirror on the closet door, tilting his head and pulling the collar of his shirt down enough to examine the mark.
And, oh boy, a mark there was. A big one. It looked more like a hickey than a bite, but he could remember teeth sinking into his skin. There were no bite marks. He was at least grateful for that.
He put aside his hickey worries for now and threw on a shirt, not really paying attention if it was his own or Sanghyuk’s. After a few minutes, now clad in a jean jacket, white tee and black jeans, somewhat remembering what Sanghyuk had on before he left. He mussed up his hair and sat and waited for Sanghyuk to return, which luckily was only three minutes.
“Good, you’re ready. We’re going to meet Jaeyoon and then leaving for the streets. Jesus Christ, you had a fun night.” Sanghyuk was staring at the large blotch on his neck, and Juho was still too tired to bother hiding it.
“I don’t know who did it, man.” He sighed, waiting for Sanghyuk to take his eyes off him. It seemed like he wasn’t going to anytime soon.
“Was he a fucking cannibal? Jesus, this is gruesome.”
“Okay,” Juho said, offended. “Don’t insult me because you can’t get fucking laid. Let’s go.”
Jaeyoon was Sanghyuk’s friend. Only Juho’s friend through the mutual, he had never really been alone with him, and to be honest, Juho wasn’t sure if he wanted to be. Not really helping to defeat the stereotype, but Juho really only stuck to people who weren’t afraid to use substances to get a little loose sometimes. Jaeyoon seemed like he did not do just that. Juho didn’t even know how he and Sanghyuk became friends, he never asked, and he wasn’t inclined to find out either. He started zoning out after the first three feet of walking with him, since there was no direct conversation to him. He didn’t even know what the point of this parade was, unless Sanghyuk told him while he was on maximum overdrive with drugs like an idiot.
“What is the point of this anyway?” Juho directed to either of them, mostly Sanghyuk.
“It’s for the frats. I don’t really know the purpose, I just know that’s what it is. I hope there is a streaker.” Sanghyuk said, the last part mostly to himself, but Juho kind of hoped the same.
There were a lot of people, too many people, Juho wasn’t used to being sober and around so many people. He stuck close to Sanghyuk, not seeing anyone else he would know enough to hang with. Everyone was waiting on the sidewalks, all he could see were people for miles. Or, probably not miles, but it what it seemed to be.
After a long (not really) while of standing and waiting, the air started to get slightly warmer, and Juho was growing impatient. He received a hard nudge from Sanghyuk, only to get his attention to tell him that it was starting. He saw floats approaching their way from the right, and loud cheering. He wanted to go back to bed.
Eventually, the slow ass floats came their way, and Sanghyuk was cheering for someone on the top. Juho recognized the boy to be Youngbin from his environmental studies class, and a past he tries not to remember often.
“Youngbin’s in a frat?” He asked Sanghyuk.
“Yeah. I’m only here to see him make a fool out of himself.” Juho laughed at that, it would be funny if he did something stupid.
Youngbin left the top of the float, and another boy took his place. This boy had Juho’s stomach clenching in disgusting familiarity. He had sharp cheekbones and bright eyes, hair pushed off of his forehead. He was tall. This was the face he could see when he thought of last night. He furrowed his brows, studying him more. He really had no idea who he was, but Juho was sure this was the kid.
The kid seemed to think so, too.
They made eye contact, which Juho was surprised at first how he managed to see him before he remembered his not so subtle red hair color. The kid stopped in his tracks for a second, but his facial expression never faltered. Finally, he cocked a small smile, tossing plastic beads in Juho’s direction, which made him flinch before catching them, and turned away. He leaned towards Sanghyuk.
“Do you know who that is?”
“No, but he seemed to know you.” Sanghyuk raised his eyebrows. Juho rolled his eyes.
“Ask Youngbin, will you? I’m leaving. I’m tired.”
He heard Sanghyuk as he was walking away. “Sure, have fun loser.” He flipped him off without turning around.
Under the covers in his bed, it was quiet, peaceful. He was almost tempted to find something (drugs) to do, but decided against it, figuring that was best left for the parties. He drifted off to sleep, willing his mind to stay away from the kid on the float.
“There’s a party at the frat down the block. Are you going?” Sanghyuk asked later the next day while Juho was sat on the couch, laptop on his legs, not doing anything important.
“You think I’m going to say no?” Juho mumbled.
“I mean… no, but I thought I would confirm so we don’t have to go alone.” Sanghyuk plopped next to him.
“Come on, you know parties really get me going.” Juho stretched his arms over his head and shut his laptop.
“Yeah I didn’t think you would turn me down.” Sanghyuk never looked up from his phone. “Want to go now?”
“Fuck yeah, I’m rock solid. Let’s go.” He sprung off the couch and headed towards his room, going to throw on whatever was at the top of the pile of clothes on his floor.
“Alright, I’ll be outside, pretending you didn’t just say the thought of parties gives you a raging boner.”
During the quick walk, Juho suddenly remembered something. “Hey, did you ask Youngbin if he knew that kid?”
Sanghyuk hummed. “I did. He didn’t know him.”
Juho sighed. How does he not know someone in his own frat?
Ten minutes later, the two show up to the front lawn of the frat house, people standing around with drinks in their hands, lights flashing on the inside, loud music that was heard a street away. No one seemed to notice either of them walk up. Sanghyuk elbowed him. “I’m going to go find my friends, do whatever, I’ll find you later.” Juho just nodded as he walked away, deciding to enter the house, deeming himself too sober to be at this location.
Upon walking in, it was exactly how he pictured a frat party to be. It was loud, and crowded, and hazy. He made his way past many huddles of people to simply get to the kitchen, which proved to be much more difficult than expected.
People who were already appropriately drunk grabbed him and tried to weave him into the crowd, but Juho pulled out, making his way to the drinks.
The atmosphere was thick, people were everywhere like a virus. Music thrummed in his chest and made his ribcage rattle. He couldn’t see much due to the smoke hanging heavy in the empty space between the people and the ceiling, and the red lights that was most likely procured from placing solo cups over the lightbulbs. Juho wouldn’t put that past college kids.
He made his way to the beverages after a while of squeezing through the crowd, pouring a cup of whatever was on the table, he learned not to care about what it was as long as he would be able to feel it.
Downing it quickly, he wasted no time in pouring himself another one, carrying this one through the house instead of chugging it right away. He looked around at everyone. He did not recognize most of the people, but a few he had seen before in his classes, or they are regulars at the library, or wherever Juho frequents often.
He could feel the thrum of music coming from below his feet, and decided to make his way to the stairs, climbing down carefully, watching out for the people running up or falling down. The red lights were more intense, he realized as he reached the bottom. The smoke was so condensed on this level that he was sure that with one firm inhale he would pass out. Biting his lip and looking around quickly, Juho gulped the rest of his drink down and threw the cup over his shoulder, walking into the fog.
Immediately, his shoulders knocked with people and people knocked with him, but he couldn’t care less as the music got louder with every step forward he made. The haze was so viscous that he was sure it dampened his fringe, and if it wasn’t the smoke, then he must have been sweating with how hot it was. He kept walking forward. Someone blew smoke in his face. He inhaled deeply. Still conscious, he found a wall and slid down slowly, the music mixing in with the high alcohol content of the drink, making his head throb, so he sat, waiting for it to kick in.
Juho doesn’t know how long he was sitting, although, he does remember Sanghyuk’s voice in the distance, but he had no energy to find out what he was laughing about. He closed his eyes, feeling the tips of his fringe tickle his eyelids, shivering uncomfortably at sweat beads that rolled down into his neckline. He tugged at the hem of his flannel, wondering why he always makes the mistake of wearing it.
When he opened his eyes again, the scenery hadn’t changed. He was still on the ground in a heap by the wall, there were still people walking by not paying an ounce of attention to him, there was still Sanghyuk shouting at someone to chug faster. The mainstream hip-hop songs blasted through the speakers, making the walls rumble, making his chest shake. He closed his eyes again, waiting for the thrumming of his head to fade before he would move again. If he moved again, that was, and tonight wasn’t the fatal night.
It wasn’t, though, he was proved when someone sat next to him.
Juho didn’t process this right away. He mistook the thump on the ground next to him for someone who had fallen down again, the action not being uncommon. His eyes only opened when he felt the tips of soft fingers brush the strands of hair out of his eyes.
He turned his head. His vision was a little blurry, but he could tell exactly who was in front of him.
It was the kid, from the float, from the party. The one who Sanghyuk’s friend didn’t know his name. The one who he remembers marking up his skin. Juho’s vision was teetering, but he was close enough. He could see him. The sharp jawline, and the hair that was too perfectly styled to be in a place like this, taking to someone in a state like Juho was.
“Fancy seeing you here.” He tried his best to be heard over the music, Juho heard just fine. He couldn’t reply, though, his mouth felt cottony and he was too aware that he was salivating too much. No words came to mind. The boy seemed to take care of that. “I saw you at the parade. I think you saw me, too.” Juho just nodded dumbly, his mind was getting cloudy, and he could only listen at this point.
He laughed, and Juho’s thighs quivered, he thinks that’s what that was. His head leaned back against the wall and his jawline was on display, a perfect side profile, and Juho’s stomach dropped when he made eye contact.
“You don’t seem entirely there, if I’m being honest.” He bored holes into Juho, but he just couldn’t look away. It was like a trance.
“I’m not,” Juho croaked.
“Didn’t think so.” They stared at each other for some time longer, only because he wouldn’t look away, and Juho found it hard to do so. Eventually, the other boy reached into his pocket and pulled out an orange pill bottle, shook it around and clicked his tongue. He dispensed one tablet.
“Xan?” He offered it to Juho, but even in his state he knew better.
He shook his head before answering: “Not tonight.” The boy laughed again, putting it back into the empty (now occupied) bottle.
“Shame. I know you always take them, but I guess tonight it’s something different.”
“You… How do you know?”
He smiled, a sick smile that made Juho finally turn his head. “I’m at every party. We seem to always find each other. I just wish you could remember my name.”
“I would if you could tell me.”
Juho turned his head back, and the boy was now smiling delicately to himself, looking down at his folded legs. He licked his lips and looked back up to Juho, the angle was really accentuating just how handsome he was. Juho wished he knew his name now more than ever.
“My name is-”
Like a goddamn, cliché movie, Sanghyuk chose this exact moment to jump in between the two and drag Juho up by his arms, his head falling backwards and hitting the wall hard. He hissed and rubbed the sensitive spot once he was on his feet.
“What the fuck, man? What is so important that you needed to interrupt me?” He threw his arm backwards to gesture to the boy who was still sitting on the floor, watching the scene play out with a sly grin on his face.
Sanghyuk’s face lit up in recognition. “Hey, you’re the kid from the float, right?” He nodded, chuckling. “The one who gave Juho the huge hickey?” Juho slapped his forehead with his palm. The boy nodded again.
“That would be me.”
Sanghyuk reached down and grabbed his arm as well.
“Great, you’re coming, too, then. You can devour each other while watching Youngbin do stupid shit.”
Juho almost wanted to ask ‘Again?’ but didn’t say anything as he dragged the two out the back door, the fresh air was instant relief on Juho’s heated skin. He relished in the cool breeze and he was dragged further out into the large yard, where once his eyes were not glazed over anymore, he could see Youngbin, shirtless, about to do stupid shit.
Juho wasn’t sure what he was trying to accomplish. He was soaked, he wasn’t sure if it was water or sweat or something else, but there he was. Juho stared hard for a second. He had a nice figure. He almost feels bad for their failed relationship. But then again, he doesn’t, because Youngbin just didn’t care about Juho as much as Juho wished he would have. Not in a bad way, of course, Youngbin didn’t realize his mistake. They only split after 4 months, after Juho had declared he was tired and Youngbin had said he thought there was someone else.
(There was someone else, but it turned out to be just as useless as the somewhat relationship Juho had with him. Youngbin just didn’t have room in his heart for another person. Juho feels bad for this, because he knew Youngbin had skeletons in the closet he only let Juho know of once, and they were never spoken about again. He wished the other boy could open his heart more, he really did need someone in his life.)
They made eye contact for a minute, and Youngbin seemed to hesitate, but turned back around and continued his ministrations of trying to climb over the fence to get to the pool. Something Juho did not want to ask about.
Only then did he remember he was not alone. Sanghyuk had abandoned him to boost Youngbin up higher and higher, and Juho jumped in shock for a moment when he realized the boy was still standing there.
“You had a thing with him, right?”
Juho didn’t understand how this kid knew everything. He knew that Juho was at parties all the time, he knew his name, he knew his past flings with people. He wanted to know how much more he knew. On second thought, he really didn’t want that.
“How do you know this?” Juho asked, tiredly.
He laughed again, and Juho wanted to punch him. “I know a lot. I’m friends with Youngbin, and you know how Youngbin loves to overshare about things that don’t matter, and always under shares about things that do. He was very open during your relationship. He was kind of sad when you broke it off but, it doesn’t matter. He’s very over it. Clearly.”
Juho didn’t look back over to Youngbin, which is probably what he wanted Juho to do, instead he kept looking at him. He had a million questions.
“Who are you?”
He quirked an eyebrow as he turned back towards Juho, staring intensely at him. “You know who I am.”
“I don’t! I don’t know your name, or your studies, or your fucking social media, I don’t know you. Who are you? Why do you know me?”
This only made him smile wider. Juho’s heart was betraying his brain, the latter wanted to beat the shit out of him, but the former only made him softer.
“My name is Seokwoo. Kim Seokwoo. I’m in your year. Studying law, friends with Youngbin. Follow my Instagram if you want, its underscore k-i-m-underscore-w-o-o. That’s me. But I know you already.”
“How?” Juho tried to be forward, but his voice failed, and collapsed in his throat.
“We meet all the time, Juho. You’re always high, or something. I wish we could meet regularly.”
“Then, why don’t we? Why don’t you find me?”
He- Seokwoo- shrugged. “Maybe I want you to find me.”
Juho inhaled sharply, “You little-”
Seokwoo cut him off. “I have to go. Tell Sanghyuk to tell Youngbin that you were looking for me.” He smiled one last, cryptic smile, and turned away, and Juho wishes he could beat his ass.
He turned back around to see Sanghyuk laughing and approaching Juho, but instead of stopping to say something, he just pats him on the shoulder and walked away. Juho looked to the ground, up to the sky, and wished for something that he hadn’t wished for in a long time. Inner-fucking-peace.
He locked eyes with Youngbin again, and instead of looking away quickly, the older male approached him. Juho sighed inwardly.
“I saw you talking with Seokwoo.” Juho nodded. Youngbin’s hair was dripping. His skin glimmered nicely under the light of the backyard, the droplets of water (Juho still didn’t know if it was water) glistening when he breathed in and out frantically. He was taken back suddenly, remembering the days when he genuinely liked the older boy. His heart squeezed for a moment, but then relaxed once he realized he had nothing to be sad about.
“Do you like him?” Right, he forgot Youngbin was talking to him. He realized he was still quite drunk. He made a mental note to find Sanghyuk as soon as this impromptu meeting was over.
“I don’t know.” Juho shrugged.
Youngbin breathed a laugh and looked up at the house behind Juho. “You know,” He started, drying his face with his shirt. “I think we should try again, Juho. It was really nice.” He pushed his hair on top of his head. Part of Juho wanted to say yes. A very, very small part.
Juho blinked slowly at him. “You’re very high.”
Youngbin nodded, a self-deprecating smile on his face. “I am.” Juho nodded once more, gave Youngbin’s shoulder a firm shake, telling him to take care of himself, but also, he probably wouldn’t be talking to him for a while longer. He walked away, pulling his phone out to see Sanghyuk was waiting by the front for him.
Sanghyuk kept a hand on Juho’s bicep the whole five-minute walk home, making sure the drunk boy wouldn’t trip and fall and injure himself.
“What did Youngbin say to you?” Sanghyuk asked.
“Nothin’ important.” They didn’t say much else.
Juho shoved his face in his pillow once the morning arrived, desperate to keep the darkness intact. There was no other commotion in the house, and he knew Sanghyuk would never get his ass out of bed earlier than noon, so his best bet was that he was still sleeping.
Slowly, and very tenderly, he stood up, careful of the pounding bouncing off the walls of his skull, and made his way to the bathroom to get the strongest pain killer he had. (By ‘strongest pain killer’, Juho really blindly searched about the bathroom in the dark, swallowing down what he was sure were some Advil. He said fuck it, and would deal with the consequences later if it were not.)
Laying back in bed, he fell asleep again, waking up two hours later without a headache, and Sanghyuk playing music in the kitchen. He dragged himself up and out of the room.
“Hey.” Juho said as he sat at the countertop, earning a nod from Sanghyuk who was doing something on his laptop.
“Did you finally get his name?” Sanghyuk straightened out. Juho only stared at him for a minute. Neither of them were wearing shirts, and he was almost positive Sanghyuk didn’t haver underwear on under his pajama pants, but he couldn’t judge as he sometimes did the same. Sanghyuk had wild curly hair, the long rounds bouncing in front of his eyes, and no matter how often he pushed them back, they would always find their way to the front. Juho admired that about Sanghyuk. It gave him character. Something that Juho’s pin straight, blood red hair lacks.
“Who’s name?” He sipped gingerly from the water bottle Sanghyuk placed in front of him.
“The kid? From the float? Who gave you the hickey a few nights ago?” Juho stared at him. Sanghyuk stared back like he was crazy.
“He was there?”
“Are you serious?” Juho just stared. “You were talking to him before I pulled you both outside, and you were still talking out there. Then Youngbin said something to you. Then we went home.”
“I talked to Youngbin? Why would I do that?” Sanghyuk shrugged.
“I don’t know, he talked to you first.” Juho scoffed. “Anyway, you really don’t remember his name?”
Juho shook his head. Now that he thinks about it, he remembers someone being there, but in his head, it was just Sanghyuk. But the more he thought, it really wasn’t Sanghyuk at all. He remembers being on the floor. A sharp jawline. Eyes that seemed to look right into his soul. Youngbin, really wet.
“Was Youngbin wet?”
“Yeah. Don’t ask why, I don’t know.”
“I… think I remember.” Sanghyuk didn’t move, he just watched Juho talk. “I think Youngbin asked if I wanted to… try again.” Sanghyuk raised an eyebrow. “I don’t remember well. I think that’s what he asked, though.”
“Don’t take it to heart. You should have seen him beforehand. He smoked like, five joints.” Juho laughed, thinking about the interaction, wondering if Youngbin really did want to try again.
“I know. He’s always been a lightweight.”
“You can say that again.”
Lectures really knew how to kick his ass. Juho was never the type to learn by listening and writing down, so it was no surprise that he was lost 70% of the time. His laptop was open in front of him, a blank document open. He presumed there were supposed to be noted written down upon looking at everyone else’s screens, which were littered with little black letters (and sometimes different colors, depending on if the person really wanted to pass). Juho gave up on trying to pay attention a good amount of time later, figuring that if he was going to start trying to pass, he would start next week.
His eyes darted around the room, looking at people’s screens, because that’s a normal thing college kids totally do. He saw people actually taking notes, mixed in with some on social media, some playing free games on shitty websites, and some, like him, not doing anything at all.
The hall was medium sized, there were two sections for elevated seating with an entry and exit way splitting down the middle, and one on either side of the room. Juho usually sat close to the right side, further up, not for any particular reason, just to not grab anyone’s attention.
There were a few people that he did not recognize, and most of them he had seen daily, whether it be once or twice. He had a few friends in here, one of them he recognized as Inseong, someone who frequents his house often with Sanghyuk (again, more of a mutual friend rather than direct), he saw Youngbin, the back of his head was all too familiar with him at this point for him not to notice. Luckily, he was far enough away that he could leave quickly without Youngbin trying to explain anything about the night before—if he could even remember what he did.
He knew most of their names. Not that he was trying, he just happened to remember. He was looking at Youngbin, trying to decipher his screen and whether or not he was taking notes or goofing off, when the kid next to him turned his head. The image of that side profile was seared into the inside of his eyelids, so much so that he would be an idiot not to remember it.
It was the kid, from the party. His name… his name… what the fuck was his name?
Juho sighed and sank down into the seat for a second, his eyes never left the boy, studying him hard, trying to force his name to the surface. He knew this was him. He remembers it so clearly now. He remembers how he took a seat next to him at the wall, how he knew so much about his life, but Juho didn’t even know his name!
Seokmin? No, Seokmin is the loud kid who lived in the same building as he and Sanghyuk.
Wooseok? No, Wooseok is the very tall young kid who hung out with the rapper people.
Hoseok? No, Hoseok is the wicked buff guy who looks like he should be on the cover of a magazine.
Useless, it was useless. Juho could not remember his name. But he knew his face. Maybe he should say something. He drew in a stuttered breath, the thought of actually talking to him sober was now rendering him weak. Who is this kid, and why did he make Juho feel so useless?
Juho stared harder, watching how his face never turned to face his own screen again. He kept his eyes on Youngbin’s screen, his mouth moved with whatever sound was coming out, his cheeks turned up when he smiled, his Adams apple bobbed when he fluctuated his voice (Juho guessed), his head turned when he locked eyes with Juho, he-
He was staring at Juho, who was staring at him. Juho tensed, but he couldn’t look away. He barely moved, only blinking, and upturning his mouth in a smirk when Juho scrunched his eyebrows. So, he definitely recognized Juho. And he knew that Juho recognized him, so, what now? Now he really needs to say something. He can’t just go without stopping to say something. He can’t just pretend that he doesn’t remember him now that he was staring at him, and still hasn’t broken eye contact.
After what seemed to be hours of staring, and Juho having a mental breakdown, they are cut off by everyone standing up around them, and with the wall of bodies blocking his view, the kid is out of sight, and once Juho stands to find him, he is gone.
Juho stands there, looking around like a lost dog, trying to see where in the world he could have gone, and then—he makes a very rash decision, and descends the stairs with a quickness that’s usually odd for him, and approaches Youngbin.
Youngbin was alone, he was walking slowly, which is typical for him, and turns when he heard Juho say his name. His eyes widen for a moment, and he faces him completely once Juho catches up. Juho runs a hand through his hair before he starts speaking.
“Hey, Youngbin, sorry this is a little sudden, but, I just wanted to know who you were sitting next to. Just now.” He pointed to the seat where he assumed the older boy sat, and Youngbin followed his gaze, as if the boy would still be sitting there.
“The one to my left?” Juho nodded. “That was Seokwoo, he’s in my frat.” Seokwoo! It was all coming back now. Juho made an ‘Oh’ with his mouth, nodding as the memories were flooding back, and Youngbin just stared. “Do you know him?”
“Um… we met the other night, and I didn’t remember his name.”
“You met more than once, right?” Youngbin inquired. Juho furrowed his brows.
“Yeah… but, how do you know that?”
“Well, he told me when you first met each other, then again when you met each other the other night. Speaking of-” Juho cut Youngbin off.
“Wait, so you do know him?” Youngbin nodded, slowly, looking nervous. “That asshole. Sanghyuk told me you didn’t know him.” Youngbin looked down and laughed, quick and breathy.
“Seokwoo told me to say no.” Juho’s shoulders fell, and he sighed. He shook his head.
“Sorry, you were saying?”
“Um, yeah… about the other night-” Shit—Juho knew where this was going. “I’m sorry for saying that, I didn’t mean it. Not that I don’t think you are not worthy, because you definitely are, I just, don’t want to try again. I don’t know why I said that. I didn’t mean it. No offense, unless you want to try again, but you seem to get along with Seokwoo just fine, and I made a mistake last time and…” Youngbin shook his head, looking helpless. Juho felt bad for him. He really hoped someone would come around for him sooner or later.
“Youngbin, it’s fine. I’m not offended. I don’t want to try again.” Youngbin relaxed at this, and nodded. “Don’t think too hard about it.” Youngbin nodded meekly again, and Juho turned to go, but Youngbin stopped him with his words again.
“There’s another party tomorrow night, I know Seokwoo is looking forward to seeing you.” Juho looked back. He averted his eyes, the sincerity Youngbin was sporting hurt his heart.
“I’ll be there.” He turned, and didn’t look to see if Youngbin was following.
It was Friday, and yesterday was when he spoke to Youngbin willingly. He still didn’t tell Sanghyuk about that, or the party, but he figured Sanghyuk already knew about the latter. They were sat together on the sofa, neither of them saying anything, but both were comfortable. Now or never.
“I spoke with Youngbin yesterday.” Juho put his phone down, and Sanghyuk followed suit.
“Like… on purpose?”
“Yeah. I asked him about the kid from the party. Turns out he was in my environmental studies class the whole year, and I only just noticed yesterday.”
“So, why speak with Youngbin and not him?” Sanghyuk watched him speak. Juho was growing more nervous, unsure about how Sanghyuk was going to react.
“Well, I was going to, but then everyone blocked me from him and when I could see again, he was gone. And, I know it was a stupid decision, but I really wanted to know his name.” Juho sighed. “His name is Seokwoo. Apparently when you asked if Youngbin knew him the day of the float, Seokwoo told Youngbin to say no.”
“Oh yeah, I knew that. He was there when I asked.”
Juho stared at Sanghyuk. “You were there? And just said no because Seokwoo asked?”
Sanghyuk threw his hands up in defense. “Listen, listen! He said the day that I asked that he would find you no matter what, so I can tell you no, but he would find you anyway. So, now you know his name, and it all worked out.”
Juho sighed. There was no point in arguing, because Seokwoo was right, he did find him. And he was going to the next party, and Juho was aware that Seokwoo would be looking for him again. Juho thought to bring this up, to gander Sanghyuk’s thoughts.
“Youngbin said he would be looking for me at the party tonight.”
“Then you’re going. A word of advice, I know you’re desperate to get as high as humanly possible, but why don’t you just… not get high? So, you can remember. And actually have a conversation that’s not riding off the fact that you popped like, twelve pills.”
Juho nodded. He knew Sanghyuk was right, he truly was desperate for some form of high all the time, but if not doing it this one time would give him memory of events at the party, he could control himself.
After a few minutes, Juho spoke again. “Youngbin brought up what he said to me the other night.” Sanghyuk looked weary. Juho couldn’t blame him. “He said that he didn’t mean it. He doesn’t want to try again, and he doesn’t know why he said it. He threw in a, ‘I don’t want to try again unless you want to try again’.”
“Yikes, that’s dangerous. You know what that means.”
“I do, unfortunately. I don’t want to go back to him, but I feel bad. I don’t know.” Juho chewed the inside of his lip thoughtfully. Since they split, he had been waiting for someone to come and comfort Youngbin the way he needed to be (before it’s asked why Juho couldn’t do that, Juho needed to be comforted more than Youngbin at the time. Juho sometimes wishes he could have fixed that).
“You know, we could introduce him to someone.”
Juho looked over. Sanghyuk was being serious. “Who?”
“Like… Kim Inseong? The one who is always here?” Sanghyuk nodded. “You think?”
“Yeah. Inseong has that manly aura around him. He knows how to deal with every situation. If I were gay, I’d go for him myself, to be honest.”
Juho scoffed. “You say ‘if I were gay’ as if I didn’t catch you in the closet that one time with Jaeyoon-”
“We do not talk about that anymore! We agreed!” Juho just laughed.
The party later on looked identical to the one from the other night, and he walked up the lawn with Sanghyuk on his right, and Inseong on the right of the shorter boy. Sanghyuk turned to speak to Inseong, loud enough for Juho to hear.
“Okay, Inseong, you stay by Juho, and he will introduce you two.”
“Why me?” Juho jumped in.
“It’s too suspicious if it’s me!”
“And it’s not when it’s me?” Sanghyuk rolled his eyes. Inseong laughed.
“Just do it. I’m going in.” Sanghyuk left. Juho sighed and turned around, spotting Youngbin standing alone, leaning against the porch rail, scrolling through his phone. Juho bound up the steps with Inseong in tow, and greeted him.
“Hey, Youngbin.” Youngbin looked up and smiled weakly at Juho. “This is Inseong, I’m sure you’ve heard Sanghyuk talk about him one time or another, I thought you two would get along nicely.” Juho smiled and pat Inseong on the shoulder, and the older stood there coolly, and Juho was jealous of it. “To be honest, you need someone better than me, and I know he can do a lot better than I ever could.” Inseong kept his calm, a relaxed look on his face, knowing exactly what he signed up for. “I have to go find my friends, please, no strangers here.” Juho smiled curtly.
“You don’t have friends.” Inseong butt in. Youngbin laughed. Juho fought the smile as best as he could.
“Thank you for an unwanted input, Inseong. I’ll go now.”
He turned and went inside the house, feeling better than he had the whole day.
The hallways were crowded, but he was able to make his way to the back of the house where the majority were located, figuring Seokwoo would be out there.
His theory proved to be correct when he spotted the tall boy on the hammock in the corner, chatting with someone who looked younger than him. He approached him quietly, not wanting to disrupt the conversation, but unable to wait for it to end.
“Look who it is,” Seokwoo grinned when Juho came closer. “The man of the night. Was wondering when I would see you.” The other kid turned to look at him, not moving. Seokwoo, however, scooted over so Juho had space on the hammock, which he gingerly accepted, and sat next to him. He was painfully aware of how close they were. “Youngkyun, this is Juho. The one who is friends with Youngbin.”
“Ah,” Youngkyun lit up. “That Juho.”
“I didn’t realize there were multiples.” Juho joked back. Seokwoo laughed, a deep sound that made Juho look over at him for a quick second, then back at Youngkyun.
“I’ll leave you two alone, I’m sure my friends are trying to drown Chanhee by now.” He stood up and walked away, heading towards the pool, which, Juho could see a crowd of five or six people trying to push someone in.
“Seems like everyone knows me but I don’t know them.” Juho mumbled.
“You do know them. You get very friendly when you are not sober, I’ll say.” Seokwoo looked over, and Juho’s instinct was to turn his head to look at him also.
“Should I be weirded out?” A smile made its way onto his face.
“No. You tend to cling to the sober ones when you are… not so.”
They were quiet, and Juho was thankful that Seokwoo chose an area far away from everyone, or else Juho would regret coming and not going straight for something to fuck him up.
“Can I ask a weird question?” Juho didn’t turn his head when he spoke.
“How come the night before I saw you on the float you left a massive mark on my neck? Like, you didn’t a few nights ago, but you did that night.”
Seokwoo laughed, looking at him this time. “I don’t know. I’ll be honest though, that night wasn’t the first time we had encountered each other at a party. And, I guess when I decide to step out of my comfort zone and take something when I am not alone, I couldn’t help myself.” Seokwoo lowered his voice, and Juho gulped.
Seokwoo held eye contact, and Juho could feel his limbs going weak. Juho was on his elbows, looking slightly down at Seokwoo who had his arm behind his head, casually gazing up at Juho while the latter had a panic attack.
“You know,” Seokwoo continued. “I might not be drunk or high right now, but I don’t think I can help myself tonight either.” His voice was low, it rumbled in his throat and made Juho want to cry, but his stare never wavered, and Juho wondered where he became so confident. Where he became so sure Juho would comply to his requests, because he sure as hell was not going to pass up this opportunity.
“I’m not stopping you,” Juho’s own voice was merely a whisper, too scared to speak up and risk it cracking, or embarrassing himself in some dumb way.
Seokwoo’s lips upturned, and Juho could see the smirk in the dim light, and his heart beat erratically when Seokwoo lifted his arm from behind his head to lay it on the back of Juho’s neck and pulled him in.
At first, it was like a memory. Juho could see this exact thing happening in his memories of nights ago, of Seokwoo pulling him in, of them two becoming one, isolating the rest of the world. The feeling, it was like Juho should have known it forever. It felt knew and exciting, but now, he knows he had felt this before.
Their mouths moved in sync with one another, Seokwoo’s fingers were trailing slowly up Juho’s scalp, leaving the other boy with shivers running down his arms, to his fingers which were now dancing along the smooth skin of Seokwoo’s neck.
They didn’t separate, neither of them made a move to relocate, both enjoyed the moment, the breeze, the feeling of each other, the distant shouts of other people that didn’t matter to them right now.
Seokwoo’s lips left Juho’s, and they made their way to his jawline, the tender skin right underneath, and to nip right below his ear. Juho inhaled sharply at the feeling of Seokwoo’s teeth tugging on the skin, the hand on the back of his neck pulling him in impossibly closer.
Juho heard Seokwoo laugh for a moment, a low, thunderous sound that rendered him ultimately weak.
“Mind if I add to the collection?”
Seokwoo’s lips ghosted over Juho’s neck, and Juho did nothing but smile, and let Seokwoo bite into him, making sure the memory of Seokwoo on his body stuck this time.
(“Do you have any decency?” Sanghyuk threw at Juho the next day.
“What do you mean?”
“You two were just out in the open, mouths all over each other like no one was watching!”
“It was dark! No one could see us. No, I am not into exhibitionism—No, I don’t want to see the pictures!”)