Megalomania (noun) – An unnaturally strong wish for power and control, or the belief that you are very much more important and powerful than you really are.
If you were to ask Jeonghan who he was, a million answers replies would be ready on his tongue. A future king. A conqueror. A charmer. The one that the kids whisper about in parties. When he walks through the hallways as school, head held high and back straight, the embodiment of confidence, the crowds would part for him and he would bask in the knowledge that he is more than any of them could hope to be.
Jeonghan had worked for his power. Clawed and scrambled using everyone else as stepping stones to get to the top. In his mind, the world was his for the taking, and as he sat lazily on his assigned seat in class, the wooden seat would turn itself into a throne, the sunlight falling on his face, accenting the soft highlights on his hair to form a halo, or rather, a crown. He would sit and watch as everyone else turns away when his gaze falls on them, would smirk because they knew this this was. A well-structured play, and Jeonghan was the director, the lead actor and the critic; the rest of them being the minor characters, waiting to be told what to do, hoping for a spot at the limelight that was on him at all times.
When he was 8, he asked his mother where he came from.
“God said ‘let there be light’ ” she replied, “and there you were, standing brilliantly before us”. She ran her hand through his hair and smiled at him. “My beautiful, shining boy.” She drew him in for a hug and whispered to him of his importance, of how he was going to grow up to be bright and brilliant and better than the rest.
When he was 10, his mother pointed at the wide expanse of stars in the sky and told him they were all his. That he was prettier and more beloved than all of them put together. The next day, Jeonghan walked down the streets knowing that he outshone the very sun itself.
When he would win at talent shows and competitions, his mother would flatter him with praises and tell him he was the only one who deserved first place. But when he would lose, she would be livid, her eyes bright with anger as she argued with the judges and then stormed out, Jeonghan in tow. She would tell him to work harder, to show everyone how talented and important he was, and even though her anger scared him, he would swallow her praises and savour the sweet taste they left. His mother was not easy to please, but Jeonghan was insatiable, always hungry for more power, for more significance. For more.
Threat (noun) - a person or thing likely to cause damage or danger.
When Jeonghan walks into his class, he finds a boy sitting in his seat. The boy was all sharp bones and chiselled cheekbones, the complete opposite of Jeonghan’s soft edges and indulgent features. He bristled at the newcomer, at how his lips were turned at an easy smile as he spoke to the person sitting next to him, at the bright eyes that hinted more than they should. But more than anything, he bristled at the way the classes eyes were on the strange boy, their faces adoring. Jeonghan wanted to grip the boys collar and tell him to leave, tell him that this was all his. His seat, his conquest. His people.
When he walked up to his seat, backpack slung over his shoulder, the boy looked up and smiled but Jeonghan face was set in indifference. “That’s my seat.” he said, feeling drunk off of power when the rest of the class quietened as he spoke.
The boy didn’t stop smiling. “The teacher told me to sit here for now”, he said sweetly, but Jeonghan felt the venom that laced his words. “I’m Joshua.” he continued, extending his arm for a handshake.
Jeonghan glanced at his hand, and then back at the boy. “That’s my seat.” he repeated. To be honest, he didn’t care about the seat; he was just desperate to win this too, to regain his spot. He had never lost in his life, not really, and he refused to let this boy with his black hair and shining eyes be the first.
“Well then where am I supposed to sit?” Joshua replied, annoyingly calm
“That’s not my problem.” he replied, and the air grew thick with tension. This was a scene that he never had to face – a threat to everything he worked for. An unscripted scene that no one saw coming, the plot twist that left every director and critic scrambling to make sense of what was happening.
Before anything else could happen, his homeroom teacher walked in. “Is there a problem here?” he asked, eyes moving between the two boys, and Jeonghan shook his head no. He learnt not to involve the superiors in these types of problems. Besides, he didn’t need their help – his conquests could only be attributed to him.
He placed a hand of Joshua’s back as he passed him to take a seat at the back of the class. It was a gentle touch, simple enough to pass off as an accident. But they both knew the implications behind that simple act. He felt Joshua stiffen under his touch, and smirked to himself when he saw the boy turning slightly to take a better look at him, eyes wide, trying to analyse him. ‘I am better than you.’ Jeonghan thought, leaning back in his chair and Joshua seemed to understand what was happening. But to Jeonghan’s surprise, Joshua smirked and raised an eyebrow as if to say ‘You think so?’ He turned back to face the teacher, leaving Jeonghan feeling unsettled for the first time in forever.
Joshua was in almost all of his classes, ridiculing Jeonghan with his soft smile and sharp cheekbones, quickly becoming a favourite of all his teachers. Jeonghan huffed when he put up his act of polite words and sleek movements, wondering about exactly what kind of monster his pretty face was hiding.
When school was over, Jeonghan walked to his lockers to find Joshua standing there, leaning against the wall. Joshua straightened up when he saw Jeonghan, and flashed him a smile.
“What do you want?” Jeonghan asked when he was in front of the other, vaguely aware of how a hush fell upon the hallway.
“I think we got off on the wrong foot” Joshua said, brushing his hair out of his eyes. “Let’s start again.” he stuck his hair out, that annoying smile on his face again. “I’m Joshua he said, his voice carrying down the hallway, “let’s be good friends.”
Jeonghan quirked an eyebrow, his face impassive even as his heart screamed threat threat threat. “Why would you think I want to be friends with you?” he asked, turning to his locker.
“Ouch” Joshua replied, and Jeonghan knew he was enjoying their exchange from the playfully hurt expression on his face. He cocked his head. “Why do you hate me so much?”
Because no one else seems to “I don’t hate you.” Jeonghan replied. “I just don’t want anything to do with you”
“That’s a pity.” Joshua replied, a mocking smile on his face that made Jeonghan rage boil. Warning bells were ringing in his head, his brain putting up extra walls and defences against an unknown, unexpected threat. “I was going to invite you to this huge party I’m throwing tonight.” He smiled slyly, “I was so wishing you’d be there.”
Jeonghan actually huffed out loud this time. He’d thought Joshua was smarter than this. Trying to bribe Jeonghan with a party was something a second grader would do.
“No thanks,” he replied, turning around and walking away. “I have better things to do.”
Combat (verb )-take action to reduce or prevent (something bad or undesirable).
Jeonghan was running.
He was out of the door before he knew what was happening, his legs carrying him faster than he thought was possible. He knew that no matter how hard he ran, he couldn’t outrun his thoughts, and yet he ran. Ran until he was red faced and panting heavily and his sides hurt from the sudden physical exertion.
It was the night of Joshua’s party and the idea of showing up unannounced had crossed his mind several times. A ridiculous idea. He was Yoon Jeonghan - he didn’t run after anyone. The people probably weren’t even enjoying, Jeonghan had thought, but when he pulled out his phone, his snapchat was filled with stories of his classmates having fun, dancing drunk on tables and laughing wildly. Now, not only did Jeonghan want to go, but he also had to pull off something bigger and better than this. Something truly unforgettable.
None of this would have happened if it weren’t for Joshua freaking Hong. The black haired boy had strode into Jeonghans life and charmed everyone with his soft smiles and gentle features. But Jeonghan could tell that there was more to him than meets the eye - could tell from the way his eyes sparkled with joy when Jeonghan threatened him, the way that he would met Jeonghan cold gaze and dint immediately look away.
Jeonghan sighed and ran a hand through his hair. What was he doing? Why was he getting so worked up? He prided himself on control - control over himself, control over the people around him. And now everything was slipping away.
He turned around and walked silently back to his house, ignoring the slight ache in his legs and the way his mind kept wandering back to a certain black haired boy.
The next day at school, the whispers of Joshua’s party followed him around, and by the end of the day Jeonghan was considering just waking out. Apparently, it was a huge success, the booze good and the playlist kept everyone on their toes all night long. The only thing that seemed off was that the host had disappeared halfway throughout the party, only reappearing to let everyone know that they were free to spend the night if they were too drunk to drive home.
He had been there in the beginning, welcoming each guest with a red solo cut of warm alcohol, but disappeared when the party was in full swing. He was nowhere to be found and rumours of a secret girlfriend had already started to spread through the corridors.
To make matters worse, Joshua didn’t even come to school the next day. Why start something you can’t finish Jeonghan thought, rolling a blunt in the cool comfort of his house. It was empty of course, his mother had packed her bags and went to ‘seek an adventure’ around 6 months ago, and Jeonghan didn’t even remember the last time he saw his father.
When his mother left, he tried to pretend like he was enjoying the freedom, but every time he walked into the empty house after a hard day; he couldn’t help but crave her fingers running through his hair, and her soft voice telling him how well he did, and how he was going places.
He took a drag of the blunt, watching the smoke dance as it floated away. He had never been much of a smoker, but o nights that he needed to relax and let o, he found himself reaching for the lowest drawer of his desk and the weed that was carefully stored there.
Jeonghan almost laughed when he realised that it was still hidden away. How, even after months of his mother’s disappearance, he still couldn’t bring himself to just relax and keep it somewhere that didn’t make him feel like a fumbling 17 year old, sneaking cigarettes and blunts into his room while keeping a wary eye on his mother.
Perhaps a part of him was still waiting for her to come back.
Before he knew it, he was outside, walking through the cold streets of Seoul with a thin, hastily thrown on jacket hanging from his shoulders. The four walls of his empty, suffocating house had been too much, and his weed addled brain just wanted out.
He wanted out.
Not just out of his house of out of his head, but out of this small town. Jeonghan craved something physical that wasn’t the blunt still burning between his fingertips. He wanted greatness, glory, wanted to do something that made people turn and stare. He wanted to travel the world and conquer everything in his path. Sometimes, he swears that he can see the gold of ichor running through his veins, reminding him of his greatness. Sometimes, if he listened closely, he swears that he can hear the stars asking him how he shone so bright, their voices tinged with envy. But tonight, under the blanket of the sky, he couldn’t hear anything but the silence, and he wanted to scream to pierce the heavy, thick sound of nothingness.
He realised that he had stopped walking and was now standing outside Joshua’s house, his wandering feet taking a path that he didn’t recognise. The house in front of him was unfamiliar – sharp, modern and brightly lit. It looked uncomfortable in the row of old, traditional houses in the area, as though all 3 stories of the imposing house were trying to shrink and hide beneath each other.
The door opened, and Joshua walked out, black trash can cover in hand. Jeonghan tuned his face to avoid being seen, but he was too slow, and he knew that Joshua caught a glimpse of his face.
He stared at the pavement with immense feigned interest, face burning with the embarrassment. And then Joshua was beside him, touching his shoulder hesitantly and telling him that it was warmer inside. Jeonghan shook his head at the offer face burning .something about being in enemy territory flashed through his mind but his refusal was more out of stubbornness than anything else
Joshua sighed. “Wait here.” he muttered squeezing Jeonghan shoulder before going back into his house.
Jeonghan waited, took a final drag of his blunt and then crushed it under his foot, the drug coursing through his veins.
Joshua returned after a while, a blanket and a Cup of hot chocolate in his hand. Wordlessly, he sat on the pavement; legs spread across the road and patted of the space beside him. After a second of hesitation, Jeonghan sat as well; his too long legs awkwardly folded beneath him and felt Joshua wrap the furry blanket around him. There was a warm feeling in his chest and he didn't know if it was because of the drugs or because of the boy sitting beside him.
“You didn't show up for the party.” Joshua muttered, taking a sip of his drink. The stars above leaned closer anxious to hear the exchange. The sound of cars and people from the other end of the street were distant noise, fading. The grand stage was set, the curtains were drawn and the play had finally begun.
“I told you I wouldn't be there.” Jeonghan huffed, but the words came out softer than expected, lacking any bite.
“Still”, Joshua replied, looking at the steam coming from the hot Cup. “I thought you'd be there.”
“Stop thinking you have me all figured out.” Jeonghan said, suddenly defensive and annoyed. The words came out angrily and splattered on the pavement but its harshness lingered in the air like gunpowder
The warm Cup of hot chocolate was pressed into his hand. Jeonghan stared at it for a second before taking a sip, feeling the warmth from the drink seep in. “I heard that you were barely present for the party anyway.” Jeonghan said, “Apparently you disappeared right after everyone arrived.”
Joshua turned to face him and Jeonghan realized how close they were sitting. Their shoulders were lightly touching and Joshua was close enough the Jeonghan could count the hairs of his eyelashes, could see the faint smudge of eyeliner in the corner of his bright, twinkling eyes.
If he leaned forward, even a little, they would be kissing
Jeonghan ducked, taking another small sip of his drink, letting his longish hair cover the redness of his face
“I don't really care much about parties”, Joshua explained. “The only reason I threw that party was because I wanted to catch your attention. I only decided to throw a party during that conversation with you in the hallway.”
Jeonghan swallowed too much of his drink in surprise wincing slightly at how it burned his tongue. You have my attention, he wanted to say. You have all of it. But he didn't. Instead, Jeonghan hummed, trying to feign indifference, and pushed the hot chocolate back into Joshua’s hands.
It felt so right, sitting there on the cold pavement with only a blanket covering the boys from the cool night air.
Tomorrow morning, Jeonghan will wake up and pretend like none of this happened, and Joshua will do the same. And Jeonghan doesn’t know whether that makes him feel better about this whole situation or makes him feel even worse.
“You’re driving me insane.” Jeonghan said, and the night stretched on ahead; cold and empty to the world but to Jeonghan, it felt a bit like happiness.
Downfall (noun) - A sudden loss in power, prosperity or wealth
The next morning, Jeonghan walked into his homeroom class and plopped down into his seat without sparing Joshua a glance. When the high of the drugs wore off after that night, and Jeonghan was walking home alone with only the moon as company, he tried to regret what had happened. It was stupid – he had walked right into enemy territory and had shared hot chocolate with the very person he wished would disappear. But then Jeonghan remembered the warmth he felt, the way he chest felt funny when Joshua had laughed at some joke he made, and realised that he enjoyed it more than anything else.
And that terrified him.
So that day, he was determined not to let anything sway him. He was Yoon Jeonghan, he didn’t need other people, and he didn’t want them. He had himself, and over the years, he had realised that he couldn’t count on anyone else. This was His story and he was not going to let anyone get in the way of his success.
Not even pretty black haired boys with gentle smiles and kind hands
So he went through the day like he normally would, and completely ignored the other boy. He focused on his work, on retaking his land and people. Whispers followed him wherever he went, and he was used to them by now. But this time, they were not whispers of awe and adoration. They were snide muttered comments and sceptical eyes staring his way. But the second he lay his eyes on them, their wandering mouths would turn silent, and their eyes lowered to stare at a stop on the floor. Jeonghan would smirk, and they would all hide for cover. This was the high that he was chasing last night – the high of being loved and feared at the same time. The high of being a king. And no drug could compare to the rush of power he felt in that moment.
He was leisurely walking through the streets on his way back home, when Joshua caught up with him.
“Are you done ignoring me yet?” he asked, fingers in his pockets.
Jeonghan gripped the edge of his bag, mourning his lack of peace. “What do you want?”
Joshua sighed, heavy and exaggerated a mocking smile on his face. “I thought we were past this phase.” he complained.
“Listen”, Jeonghan said, stopping and turning to face Joshua. “Forget everything that happened yesterday. It doesn’t mean we're friends now or that i want you around me. I thought i made that clear today. Why can’t you just leave me alone?”
Joshua cocked his head to the side, as though he was considering his answer. “I'm not sure”, he said slowly.” At first, I just wanted to have some fun and you seemed easy to get to. But now”, he shrugged, “you make me curious. I can’t help myself anymore.”
“Well learn how to”, Jeonghan barked, turning away, “we're both better off without the other in our lives.”
Rats scurried into their hiding holes, and for a fraction of a second, the alley seemed to grow darker. Jeonghan sometimes thought that if he were to be the god of anything, it was most likely that he was the god of destruction. He couldn’t help but seek out beautiful things. And he couldn’t help but leave them broken when he eventually got bored and walked away.
Joshua snorted. “You don’t get to make that decision for me”, he said. “You don’t get to decide what’s good for me.”
When Jeonghan turned to look at him, Joshua’s face was half hidden in the shadows and half illuminated by the strands of sunlight that had crept into the ally. He looked godlike, ethereal even. A creature of light and darkness.
“Let’s stop this.” Jeonghan sighed, “Before it gets too far. Because i take and take and then leave. You deserve a lot better.”
Joshua looked angry now, his delicate features growing harsh. “Why do you keep trying to convince me that you’re such a monster?” he demanded, a frown set on his face. “This isn’t who you are and you know it”
“Don’t.” Jeonghan said, the words coming out harsh, and his own rage bubbling under his skin. “Don’t try to get inside my head. Stop it.”
“Or what?” Joshua asked, tipping his head high to stare Jeonghan right i the eye. “What are you going to do?” He let out a laugh bitter and emotionless. “You think you’re all that great but I bet you’re all talk.” He took a step closer to Jeonghan, breaths coming out fast and loud, a bit of madness creeping into his eyes. “What are you going to do?” he breathed
So Jeonghan pushed him. Shoved him with all the force he could muster, sending him stumbling against the brick wall. Joshua laughed again, crazy and unhidden.
“Is that all you’ve got?” Joshua taunted, eyes bright bright bright. “That was weak”, he whispered, and Jeonghan moved again, anger flaring its ugly head ,hands going to grab Joshua’s collar, fists bunching against the fabric.
Shut up, he growled, his fingers tightening until his knuckles were almost white. The other boy tilted his head, a smile still on his face, madness still in his eyes. His usually neat hair was dishevelled, falling into his eyes and sticking out in all directions. And Jeonghan wanted to mess him up more, wanted to know what Joshua Hong looked like when he lost control
One second, he was gripping Joshua’s collar, ready to punch him. The next, he was kissing him. After a second of shock, Joshua kissed him back, rough and furious. Jeonghan could feel the anger in the press of his lips, the madness in the way Joshua pressed his fingers to his waist with bruising intent. The kiss was messy and rough, teeth clanking and hands wandering. Jeonghan held on to Joshua like he was his lifeline, not pulling back even when his lungs burnt from lack of oxygen and their teeth clanked. It was messy and uncoordinated, but Jeonghan felt eternal in that moment. Nothing else existed except the feel of Joshua’s lips against his, his hand skimming under Joshua’s shirt, the way they gripped each other without wanting to let go.
And then, too soon, they were pulling away, breaths coming out hard and heavy, the familiar buzz of arousal roaring through his veins.
They stared at each other for a second, both unsure of what to say.
Jeonghan turned, hands gripping the strap of his backpack,” I gotta go.” he said, trying to control his racing breaths. He ran a hand through his now dishevelled hair, and from behind him, Joshua spoke.
“You’re not a monster.” he said simply, and despite all his thoughts of just leaving, Jeonghan found himself looking back for just one last glance.
The sight knocked the air from his lungs.
Joshua stood, a hand touching his lips as though he couldn’t believe what had happened. His hair was messy, shirt half ridden up because of Jeonghan wandering fingers. The madness in his eyes had subsided, leaving gentleness behind, and suddenly, Jeonghan wanted to cry
“You’re not a monster.” Joshua said again, looking at him right in the eyes.
Jeonghan shot a watery smile his way “I’ve gotta go.” he said again, his voice quiet and helpless. He mustered his courage and turned around, walking into the grey roads and busy streets, away from Joshua’s heavy stare.
The words followed him back to his house, spinning around his mind and wrapping themselves around his bones. You’re not a monster, Joshua had said. But then again, what did he know.
See, what Jeonghan feared most was not spiders or Heights. It was the possibility of being forgotten. It was the thought that one day his name too would get lost in history like the countless people before him and the many that would come after. So Jeonghan did his best to be remembered. He threw the wildest parties, participated in every trending challenge- did anything that made him forget his mortal insignificance. Eventually, he drew himself into something bigger and better .something that would outlive them all. Drew himself into a monster --the kind of monsters that have an acid tongue hiding behind a row of white Pearly teeth; neat, trimmed nails that would scratch and grab until he got what he wanted. His angelic features drew people in and then, he would grab them by the collar and demand they kneel. And like fools, they would. They all would.
Except Joshua, that is.
Joshua stared back at him, eye to eye, made him want to quiver, made his empire wobble. He told him the facts as they were, even when Jeonghan denied them. Pushed and pushed until Jeonghan allowed himself to be swept away.
Jeonghan entered his house, quiet and empty as always. Joshua Hong is going to be the cause of my destruction he thought, and his mind wandered back to a particular conversation they had had the night before.
“Everyone knows you, but I don’t think you have any friends.” Joshua had said. It wasn’t a question or an accusation. Just a fact. They were sitting under the open sky, time nearing midnight. Jeonghan was feeling impulsive and vulnerable when he answered.
Jeonghan scoffed.” Have you ever seen a god that seeks out mortals?”
“You think you’re a god?” Joshua had asked, eyebrow rising.
“I’m the closest thing to a god that this world has.” Jeonghan had boasted, a smile forming on his lips. He tipped his head back, closing his eyes as he continued. “Don’t you think so?”
The cold air was passing through Jeonghan’s hair, caressing is face, and he knew Joshua was staring at him when he answered. “I think you’re pretty enough to be one, but no. you’re not a god. You’re a man. Weak and mortal like the rest of us. You cry and piss and smoke like men do. And you bleed like men as well”
It was a simple fact, a fact that Jeonghan liked to ignore. But to him in that moment, it felt like a threat, and Jeonghan drew the walls around his fortress, confusing the worry in Joshua’s voice as danger.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Jeonghan had said, opening his eyes to look at Joshua.
But Joshua just sighed, burrowing closer into his blanket. The intensity in his eyes enough to make Jeonghan want to look away. But he didn’t. He met the other boy eye to eye, cocking his head in his direction. A challenge.
“What are you running away from?” Joshua had asked then, his voice sincere. “What do you think is going to happen if you stop to breathe?”
‘I’m going to collapse’, Jeonghan remembered wanting to say. He had wanted to scream – wanted to wreck the city up, tear it apart with his bare hands and rebuild it into something majestic and grand and kind. He wanted his mother to reappear, he wanted to push Joshua against the nearest wall and find out what it felt like to have his plush lips against Jeonghan. But he couldn’t, and if he stopped even for a second, the walls holding him together would crumble – he would crumble. And after holding himself tall and proud for his whole life, Jeonghans pride would not allow it.
So he kept up his facade, “you don’t want to know.” He had replied instead, feigning confidence, trying to sound dark and dangerous. Joshua could probably see through his act, but he didn’t say anything, instead choosing to lean his head against Jeonghan shoulder. Joshua pointed at the constellations, at the stories spread out across the sky, and Jeonghan felt the well of tears in his eyes as he heard Joshua talk. He wanted to tell the other boy that he was more beautiful than all the celestial bodies, that he was the only person that made Jeonghan feel this vulnerable.
“Joshua Hong is going to be my destruction,” Jeonghan thought again, flopping down into a chair, lips tugging up at the corners, “but never before has destruction felt this sweet.”
Ruin (noun) - the physical destruction or disintegration of something or the state of disintegrating or being destroyed.
Jeonghan spent the whole night tossing around in bed, going over what had happened. The moon shone down on his but on that night, Jeonghan didn’t feel any sense of importance, wasn’t able to hear he stars whispering or the wind whispering the secrets of the world. On that night, Jeonghan felt like he lost something. There was a hole in his chest that he had not ever experienced before. An emptiness, the kind the consumed him from the inside.
The next day, Jeonghan walked into class and made a beeline for Joshua’s desk. The other boy looked up, dark hair falling into his eyes, but didn’t smile.
“Let’s meet up after school today.” Jeonghan said before he could stop himself, and the words echoed around the silent classroom. His classmates leaned in next to each other, eyes fixed on the pair. But Jeonghan didn’t look at them, didn’t care.
Joshua lifted his chin, rolling his eyes, “What, for you to run away again?” he scoffed, and Jeonghan wished, for the millionth time, that he didn’t walk away last night.
“I’m here now.” Jeonghan insisted, fingers curling desperately on the strap of his backpack, to ground himself. “I don’t plan on going anywhere soon.”
A second of tense silence passed before Joshua nodded, and Jeonghan felt his shoulders relax. He almost smiled, the corner of his lips lifting up slightly. “I’ll see you later then”, he said, “I know a place that sells the best milkshakes in Seoul.”
Joshua snorted, “Okay but you’re paying.”
Jeonghan actually smiled at this, a huff of laughter forcing it way through his mouth. Joshua looked up in surprise. But Jeonghan just shook his head and made his way to his own desk, ignoring the whispers that broke out in the room.
For the rest of the day, he was in a bit of a daze, going through the motions but not really paying attention. The whispers followed him around school. But for once, he didn’t give it much though. This mind was filled to the brim with thoughts of a black haired boy who kissed like he was never going to let go.
The two of them met outside after school, and walked to a little café in 25th street, right next to the barber shop and the old apartment complex that looked like it had never been renovated.
The walk was relaxing- the both made small talk about school and their grades, but somewhere along the way they established a pattern amongst both of their dynamics. It was comforting, to walk through Seoul with a cute boy and talk about jihoons new red mullet, or about how soonyoung was in charge of this years prom and was undoubtedly going to decorate the whole place with frills and leopard prints. Silly, mundane things that made everything feel less terrifying.
“This is my favourite place in the whole city”, Jeonghan said when they reached. The bell chimed as they entered, the warm smell of coffee and baked break surrounding them, instead of the musty and polluted air of the city.
“It’s really cosy.” Joshua commented, looking around with a fond look.
Jeonghan remembered how his mother used to bring him here on good days. On days when she’d clean up and sprinkle perfume in the stuffy air of their house, trying to get the place to smell like apples and wild flowers. She used to laugh out loud on the good days, twirling Jeonghan around till the boy was dizzy and giggling with her. She used to ring him to the café and buy him a strawberry milkshake, and tell him about her childhood. He didn’t know whether a word of it was true, but it was the only proper bonding moment he had with his mom. His mom- who loved him for the sense of importance he gave her, instead of for himself as a person. So he sat eagerly while she talked, and laughed loudly when she joked and hoped that it would be enough.
He was drawn out of his thoughts when Joshua pointed at a pair of well worn, but comfortable looking sofas, and suggested sitting there. The cloth of the sofa was faded in some places, strings coming out slightly at the edge. But it felt warm, and Jeonghan wondered how many moments of love the sofa must have encountered, to be this warm, even when there was no need to be.
“So,” Joshua began after they ordered their drinks, “wanna tell me why you suddenly wanted to meet, after ignoring me ever since I joined?”
“I’m sorry about last night.” he said as way of reply.
Joshua huffed lightly, “What are you sorry for. Kissing me? Or running away after?”
“Running away. I don’t-,” he stopped, not knowing what to say, he had never done this before, had never had to explain himself for to be accountable for anything before. But Joshua was sitting across from him, pursed lips, arms crossed and Jeonghan was desperate not to mess this up. “I was scared.” he said finally.
“You’re not anymore?”
Jeonghan shrugged, looking away. “Just realised that even if this all does burn apart and crash, I would have liked to experience it”
Joshua didn’t say anything, and when he spoke, he sounded slightly offended. “So you’re here with me in this nice café because you wanted to experience it?”
Jeonghan cringed at Joshua tone. “No I–“he paused, and looked up. He realised that this was a chance to be honest, to be really truly honest, and it wasn’t a chance that many people got.
“I’m saying that we’re all going to die someday and no one I going to remember us. Someday the sun is going to explode and there will be no one to remember Cleopatra or Caesar, let alone the two of us. And that bothered me for a long time – it still does. But now, somehow, it feels like even if I can’t be anything to the rest of the world, it’d be enough for me if I can be something to you.”
Joshua seemed lost for words, blinking when Jeonghan fixed his stare on him.
“Shit,” he said finally, “how the heck am I supposed to reply to something that smooth?”
Jeonghan laughed nervously, “Just say what you’re thinking.”
“I’m thinking about how I want to go over to my place after this and kiss you again.”
Jeonghan swallowed, anticipation tingling in his veins, “We could start with that.”