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sickeningly sweet like honey

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sure, anyone can judge changbin for all the fuck they want - boy with glasses at the crook of his strong nose, eyes sharp as they dart around the sweet sugary shop, hands stuffed into the black bomber jacket always thrown over whatever faded tee he has on. anyone can judge a coffee-deprived university kid dressed all in black sauntering into a desserts shop with infectious bubbly pop music streaming from the speakers, and changbin won’t, for the life of him, give a shit about it.

except maybe for one person.

it starts off when jisung practically begged changbin to tag along with him to the newly opened delicacy shop just around the corner, a stone’s throw away from their campus. the boy, annoying as he is with his big round eyes and infinitely full cheeks, was persistent, and thus changbin had found himself scanning the blackboard menu, chalked up with milkshakes and smoothies and cakes and whatever other confectionery one could only dream of.

lemon/milk , which fittingly had shop’s name in the lemon/milk font overhead the shop, had been bustling with gaggles of girls and gangs of guys hoarding the counter and trying out whatever latest flavour of ice cream float the shop owner had dreamt up of. jisung had been staring at the menu from far-off the counter for at least a good ten minutes, before finally deciding on a banana and mango smoothie, and so ditching changbin for the counter.

and of course changbin, the caffeine-induced boy, had settled for a matcha latte with a spritz of whatever ‘secret ingredient’ listed down in the description. he’d marched up to the counter, in the line behind jisung, and let his friend order first before walking up to the sleek countertop

and promptly falling head over heels.

the cashier boy was - is - for the record, one of the prettiest boys changbin has laid his eyes on in the longest time possible. his doe eyes had watched changbin carefully, squinting when changbin stammered and stuttered over nothing. “so.” his voice was higher-pitched, leaning towards somewhat nasally, but it fit him, changbin thought. “welcome to lemon/milk, how can i help you?”

“i-i,” changbin had blinked rapidly, eyelids shutting quickly before reopening just to double-check, no, triple-check, whether the boy before him was reality or just a figment of his horrendously boy-deprived imagination. “what’s the secret ingredient to your matcha latte?” he blurts out.

cute cashier boy readjusted the cap adorned on his head, chestnut brown dyed hair peeking out from underneath. “it’s a secret,” he had retorted slyly, and as if to fluster changbin more, he sent the other a cheeky wink. “just kidding. it’s my heart and soul put into brewing it. LOL.”

changbin’s not sure which one to cringe at: the fact that the boy just said ‘heart and soul’ or pronounced LOL as lawl . he had cringed at both.

“okay, er. i’ll have a matcha latte then,” changbin forced himself to smile. as cute cashier boy was punching in his order ( thunk, thunk, thunk , his fingers smash the buttons), changbin had sneaked a quick peek at the nametag adorning the boy’s frilly pink and yellow apron. hi, my name is seungmin! the name was laced around his thoughts as he waited for seungmin to input his order.

“that’ll be five dollars and fifty cents.” seungmin’s voice sliced through changbin’s daydreaming thoughts. fumbling for his wallet in his back pocket, changbin had just yanked it out when this motion sent his phone clattering to the floor noisily. several eyes had looked their way, and an embarrassed changbin had bent down to grab his phone. when he faced seungmin again, seungmin had arched an eyebrow daringly at him. “if you want to give me your phone as payment, that’s cool, but i’d like payment in cash.”

his voice was edgy, as if mocking changbin, and changbin had decided then and there that pretty boy was kinda mean. he had scoffed as he counted out his dollar bills. “do you always treat your customers like this?” he had asked pointedly as he hands the cash over to seungmin. when their fingertips grazed each other lightly, he had tried not to let it show on his face, but clearly seungmin caught on, because he plastered a chesire cat smile across his face.

“no, only the clumsy ones.” changbin didn’t even have time to gather himself as seungmin drops the cash into the cashier and rips out the receipt. as he gave it to changbin, his smile widened. “your order should be ready in five minutes. in the meantime, you might wanna check if your screen cracked.”

in conclusion, changbin hates seungmin, had hated him since that very day. hates his big eyes and snub nose and gummy smiles he offers to every other customer except changbin. hates his teasing jokes and smug grins. hates his bubbly personality and dainty figure.

hates to love seungmin for all those things.

it’s a friday afternoon when chan suggests for him, changbin and jisung to stop by the cafe after a music assignment the three have been working on. stretching his arms out into the air, chan grins at the both of them. “i haven’t been to the cafe before; is the place nice?”

but before jisung can answer, changbin butts in with a scoff. “food is great, service is a hell no.”

beside him, jisung rolls his eyes, folding his arms across his chest. “you just say that because you hate seungmin’s guts. and just because he teased you once , doesn’t mean he’s a mean guy. i’ve seen him around before; i bumped into him at a convenience store a week ago. he’s really nice, hyung-”

“-whatever,” changbin huffs, and it’s that point in time wherein his friends know that they can’t change changbin’s mind.

“if you hate him so much, why do you care so much about him?” chan muses.

bewildered, changbin fumbles with his words, spitting and sputtering like a cranky old machine. “what do you mean, ‘why do i care so much about him’? i don’t! hyung, you know i hate his guts and his snobbish attitude. he’s like a five-year-old with attitude issues.”

“clearly you care a lot about him.” out of the blue, mischievous jisung strikes, snatching the lyric notebook from changbin’s lap. thanks to his sadly poor reflex skills, changbin shrieks blue murder as jisung tears it open. “look at this. you literally drew his name in a big ass heart.” he shows it off for chan, the doodles scribbled along the margins of words changbin’s scrawled onto the rough paper. not being much of a good friend, chan bursts out into laughter.

warmth seeps through changbin’s skin, flushing his cheeks. “yah,” he retorts, making a grab for it, but jisung stands and raises the notebook up high. changbin grumbles, which only makes chan laugh even more at his friend’s height. frustrated with both of them, changbin crosses his arms and pouts. “no fair.”

“please,” jisung rolls his eyes as he flips through the pages. “all these lyrics are so obviously about seungmin; is he all you can think about?” jisung muses as the sound of pages flittering fills the room. “someone is whipped as hell-”

“-give it back ,” changbin mumbles irately, glaring up at his so-called good friend. jisung gives one last chuckle before handing the notebook back, its binding almost fallen apart.

with that said, chan rubs his hands together playfully. “well, that means we definitely do have to go check out the cafe, and this time…” he sneaks a hopeful glance at jisung, who mirrors his friend’s expression. what’s going on? changbin wonders. “... you’re going to man up and ask for seungminnie’s number. all by yourself,” he finishes with a flourish, and claps his hands together gleefully.

“w-wait, what? me ? get his number? seung mean ? no, no, no,” changbin laughs humorlessly. “no way in hell am i going to do that. he’ll tease me like crazy.”

“so what?” jisung pinches his lovestruck friend’s cheek, causing him to hiss in pain. “at least you’ll get his number after all, right?” before changbin can open his mouth to protest again, the two friends drag changbin out by the arms, out of the recording studio, out of the campus grounds and to the very cafe changbin hates to love to go.

 

_______________

 

the silver bells above the door ring softly as chan pushes the glass door open. as usual, the afternoon buzz mills about the shop, several familiar faces sat at the tables and enjoying the friday delicacies. as soon as chan’s eyes land on seungmin (who works every week except mondays and saturdays, but changbin is certainly not counting), he turns around to wiggle his eyebrows at the now blushing younger. “ooohh. is that him?”

“shut up, chan-”

“-sure is,” jisung cuts in, grinning from ear-to-ear, his cheeks so chubby they could burst from his giddy excitement. “he’s been admiring him for, say, one month? a month and a half already? wow, changbin, look at you and your progress.” he earns a poke in the ribs from an agitated changbin, who shuffles ahead of them.

from behind, chan wraps an arm around his friend. “c’mon, binnie. it’s about time you got his number, y’know. it’ll be so cute to see you two together.”

“who said i wanted us to be together?” changbin shoots back, just as seungmin sneezes into his fist. changbin wants to grumble in dismay. how can someone so cute have an even cuter sneeze. at the sight of his friend’s expression, chan sighs, shakes his head. pats changbin’s shoulder.

knowing that that’s his cue and that his friends will never let him live it down if he turns down the challenge, changbin gathers whatever is left of his little courage and strides up to the counter. he lines up behind a considerably taller boy with a mullet and dangling earrings, hair slightly sweaty. when the boy in front reaches the counter, seungmin’s face lights up. “hyunjinnie! it’s been a while. you had dance practice?”

hyunjinnie? changbin cocks an eyebrow as he watches seungmin’s wide eyes watch the customer. “hi, seungminnie. yeah, i’m so tired know, haha. can i get my regu-”

“-ular iced americano, extra milk? of course,” seungmin giggles, and it’s the cutest fucking thing to exist, especially when the corners of his lips turn upwards and his eyes are the tiniest of crescents. “it’s-”

“-five dollars and ninety cents, and-”

“-another fifty cents for the extra milk-”

“-yeah,” hyunjin laughs as he hands his money over. “here you go.”

the whirring of the receipt spitting out distracts changbin momentarily. his heart sinks to his feet, settling amongst the marble tiles. see? because of you and your scared little non-existent ass, you might as well have lost that door of opportunity weeks ago, you stupid changbin-

“hello, welcome to lemon/milk, how can i help you?” seungmin’s nasal voice deters changbin from delving too deeply into his thoughts. he struggles to find his voice momentarily as the younger boy stares wistfully into changbin’s eyes. changbin blinks. “hello? did you hear me?”

“yeah, heard you,” changbin finds his voice in a hurry, blinking rapidly before glancing down at the menu taped to the counter, but he knows his order by heart. “matcha latte, please.”

seungmin nods his head politely before punching in his order. befuddled as to why the cashier hasn’t begun spitting jokes all over changbin, the boy furrows his eyebrows together. this is your big chance, stupid, his mind berates him loudly, the words echoing in his head as he clears his throat. “um, seungmin…”

mildly surprised, seungmin turns his head to face changbin. “yeah?”

holy shit. his palms turn clammy, and so changbin tries to wipe the sweat off of his skinny jeans. “um…” say it! spit it out! “h-how… how much is it for the latte?” out of the corner of his eye, he catches jisung face-palming himself and chan patting jisung’s back to comfort him as they seat near the window, a table facing changbin. dammit.

seungmin quirks an eyebrow. “you come here at least twice a week, changbin. five dollars and fifty cents,” he chirps, his eyes narrowing in suspicion of the other’s intentions. “do you have something to say?”

oh god oh god oh god- “no! i mean, yes. i mean…” changbin’s voice trails off as the letters fail to connect together in his head; they lie in a heap in his damned mind. “i mean, yeah, i want to ask…”

he swears seungmin leans in mockingly, raising his eyebrows as if to say well, say it. from this angle, he can see the little mole on his left cheek (which he really, really wants to squish, but he decides against it and promptly suppresses the little desire blooming in his chest) as seungmin clicks his tongue. “so? what is it?”

“i-” goddammit, seo changbin! “-how many kinds of tea do you sell?”

overlooking at the pair, jisung groans and buries his head in his arms, fake sobbing loudly. chan sighs, scratching his head. “so you were right. he is pretty hopeless,” he comments, but still amused by changbin’s panicked expression scribbled all over his worried face. “no wonder seungmin is mean to him.”

“what’s that supposed to mean?” jisung asks pointedly, tilting his head up to meet the other’s eyes.

chan raises a shoulder in a shrug, and for a second the light catches on his hoop earring. jisung’s gaze fixates on it, but for only a moment, because all of a sudden chan releases a sharp gasp. “holy shit, jisung, look, just look-”

“-what?-”

“-look.”

jisung gives in to his friend’s insistent words, and the second he does, he watches changbin chew down on his bottom lip, before parting his lips to form the words, “can i… can i have your digits?”

from where he’s stood behind the counter, seungmin’s frozen to the spot. “my digits ?”

“digits? you know, your number-”

“-um, excuse me, but can you get the line moving please?” jisung recognises him as minho, also a dance major, who pokes his head out from behind changbin, a distasteful look lining his facial features. “ someone has a practice in five minutes and i’ve been standing here for the past ten minutes, and if i don’t get my double shot latte i will slaughter you.” at you, minho points at changbin, whose flustered face turns a shade redder.

even seungmin panics momentarily. “i’m so sorry! please, step right up.” seungmin kind of shoves changbin out of view, plasters on a hasty grin on his face as minho walks up and repeats his order. sighing, changbin shuffles over to his two friends, who gaze at him in awe and, perhaps, pity.

when he plops himself down onto his seat, chan pats his back affectionately. “don’t worry, changbin. you made an effort this time.”

changbin purses his lips together. “is the problem me, the fact that seungmin is ungodly cute, or the fact that minho is a bit of a bitch?” he mutters irately under his breath, before slumping down in the plastic seat. “i have had the worst luck so far.”

opposite him, jisung ruffles his friend’s hair, making him whine, but it does spur a small smile on changbin’s face. “don’t be so down. besides, you should’ve really seen seungmin’s face. he was so surprised when you asked for his number-”

“-i saw it, dude. i was right in front of him-”

“-order 2609!” a shrill nasally voice hollers above the din of the shop. slowly, changbin brings himself up to his feet, the chair scraping against the floor. both of his friends cringe in the noise. changbin shoots them an apologetic smile before swivelling around, mustering up what little dignity he has left, and padding over to the pick-up counter.

there, his drink is left there, with a tissue and straw on top of it. when changbin shoots the cashier a look, seungmin’s attention is already on another customer, one with big googly eyes and is currently talking animatedly with him. changbin forces himself to look away, snatch up his drink and trudge back to the table. he sets the drink down, suddenly exhausted.

as he pokes the straw into the drink, jisung picks up the tissue warily, before flipping it over. changbin’s taking one sip of his drink when jisung perks up, “hey. why’s there pen ink on this shit?”

changbin almost chokes on his drink as he sets it down. “what? let me see that.” he doesn’t even wait for jisung to hand it over before he snitches the damned tissue out of the other’s grip and scans the ink scrawled hastily across it.

 

hi changbean (is that how i spell your name?)

sorry for being an ass to you. i’m surprised you want my number, but then again, it’s because i’m really cute, right? hehehe >:) text or call me whenever!!!

XXX XXXX XXX

 

and with that, changbin sets the tissue down gently, before turning around in his seat to catch a glimpse of the boy. amongst his friends ooh-ing and ah-ing over the handwritten message, changbin catches the ghost of a grin and a wink from seungmin, for just a second, but that already hints the many more seconds shared between the both of them in the very, very near future.