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Ruffled hair and candy

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He has a weak heart- he'll be the first to admit it.

As much as he tries to convince himself that he's not one to feel sentimental- definitely much more of a realist, he's embarrassingly aware of how he spends his time. Doodles of small hearts litter his notebook, with pages upon pages of soft clouds and dreamy eyes, an embodiment of everything that makes Soobin's cheeks dimple.

He wants to fall in love, just like in the manhwas.

In hindsight, it's an embarrassing thought. Makes him feel like some little kid, despite his overgrown body and experienced peers. But he doesn't know what it's like- had never really gotten close enough to anyone to do so. He just knows from his time watching others that it's nice; something that blossoms like flowers in the sun.

Something that he can't help but want to experience himself.

As he watches the courtyard from his position next to the window, palm against one cheek, index finger swirling patterns into the desk, he wonders to himself whether it would ever be possible for someone like him.

Shy, quiet, nerdy- he was the exact opposite of the traditional male love story protagonist.

He gently closes his notebook shut.

It was always a different crop of people around the courtyard during lunch-time. Boys on break after a sweaty, yet invigorating game of basketball in the school gym, and popular girls with neatly tied hair and cutely accessorised phone straps. Whatever the combination was, Soobin took it all in, absorbing their interactions and intimacies as if it might help him better understand how they worked.

He knows that it really doesn't- that he was still light years away from ever doing so, but he holds fiercely onto it, like some beacon of hope.

It's the crowd that breaks him out of his reverie.

Craning his neck slightly out of intrigue, he sees what he thinks might be laughter, with a few elbows here and there knocking each other around. A few girls whisper to each other excitedly, while a few boys try to push their way to the front. What could it be that was so interesting?

He moves more closely to the window.

When the crowd finally parts enough for Soobin to see what's going on, he realises that it's not something they're gathering around.

It's someone.

There's a boy out in the centre of the courtyard, surrounded completely by admirers, laughing as his friends push against him. Soobin can't make out a face, but even from afar sees the tinges of blossoming pink and a smile as bright as the sun.

He can't help but watch.

“Soobin hyung, what're you doing?”

Fingers ruffling through his hair, it’s Taehyun’s playful yet concerned tone that jolts him back to the present. Two faces stare back at him in slight worry, and he realises that perhaps he may have gone a little too overboard with his daydreaming. Ah.

Eyes quickly flitting back to his friend, he gives him a sheepish smile in return, and ducks his head.

"Sorry," he mumbles to no-one in particular, desperately trying to rid his head of all previous thoughts. He chews his lip, and awkwardly scratches the base of his neck.

How embarrassing.

Beomgyu sighs dramatically over his juicebox, cheek in one palm.

“You’re always so shy, Binnie hyung,” he pouts.

The comment is only teasing, but Soobin still bows his head in apology. Despite the others being understanding of his quiet disposition, he still feels guilty for not being able to contribute much to the conversation.

Out of the corner of his eye, Soobin sees Taehyun cast Beomgyu a pointed glare, before interjecting with a light, “Hyung, as if you were any different,”, which sets off a quarrel with the other.

Soobin cracks a wide smile at that.

When he finally unfolds his arms, feeling a little more comfortable, a hand suddenly claps on Soobin's shoulder, startling him violently. He looks up sharply to see one of his classmates, Minhyuk, sliding into the seat next to him, holding something like a magazine.

Minhyuk was one of the more popular kids in class- the type that probably would never give Soobin a second look if he didn't hang around Taehyun and Beomgyu, and Soobin didn't really know what to think of him.

He hadn’t really made much of a response to the startling shoulder clap, but he finds himself nodding quietly along as Taehyun's eyes light up at the new entry to their conversation. Beomgyu interjects with what seems to be a teasing protest, but Soobin finds himself distracted by something else.

"Already have your eyes on the prize, huh?" Minhyuk grins, leaning into Soobin's space. Soobin blanches at sudden the contact, and leans back by instinct.

"What?" he chokes out, eyes flickering up at the other.

"The magazine- I saw you staring! Hyung will show you if you really want," the other replies smugly, and splays his magazine out across the joined tables for the entire group to see. It takes Soobin almost an entire minute to comprehend what he's staring at.

He flushes a bright scarlet.

"Ah geez, put that away Minhyuk. We're gonna get in trouble!" Taehyun whispers, batting at the laughing elder.

"What? We're all hormonal teenagers. I think it's fine if it's this way at least! I personally prefer the ones with dark hair, in case you were wondering," Minhyuk bats his eyelashes as he waves the dirty magazine around, and it takes both Taehyun and Beomgyu to pull him back down.

It's a dangerous territory.

Behind Beomgyu's yells that "Nobody asked you, you weirdo!", and the other's maniacal laughter, Soobin chances another glance at the magazine, then at Minhyuk.

Dark hair...? Minhyuk's teeth flash a brilliant white as he grins, and all of a sudden Soobin feels strange.

He sees Beomgyu give him a look out of the corner of his eye, but he sharply turns the other direction.

“How about you?” Minhyuk asks, propping a hand up under his chin. Soobin immediately startles.

“What?” he asks, blinking back, and finds his fists clenching reflexively under the table.

“I asked what type you’re into, Bin,” he repeats, and Soobin immediately enters a cold sweat. What type was he into?

His mind comes to a blank.

He liked a lot of different people. He had often heard his hyungs and dongsaengs talking about pretty girls with long hair and gentle smiles. About cold girls with sharp eyes and sleek bobs. About cute girls with pigtails and cherry pink lips.

They were all nice.

He couldn't find anything to say.

Suddenly there's a loud clutter near the window, and his attention is immediately ripped from the conversation right towards the sight of a head of dark hair peeking its way into the classroom.

He makes direct eye contact with the boy at the window.

He isn't sure where to look exactly- the unexpected directness of the interaction leaves him frozen to the spot. Like a character out of a manhwa, the other boy's elbows are propped up against the windowsill, the boyish ruffle of his dark hair reminding Soobin very devastatingly of the earlier conversation with Minhyuk.

Although any stranger by now would have looked away, the other boy only seems to stare back.

There's a moment of silence, before his slanted eyes crinkle into crescent moons.

Soobin feels his heartrate spike.

He...was the boy smiling at him? Was it just his imagination?

"Soobin?" Minhyuk frowns, but he only vaguely registers the tone. Who was this- ah.

The boy is suddenly thrown off-kilter as his friend tackles him from behind, surprise evident on his face. It's a boy that Soobin recognises from his class- the half Korean one that Soobin never really got around to interacting much with, being the shy person that he was. But as quickly as the first is surprised, he smiles as bright as the sun, turning around to chat animatedly with his friend. Eyebrows furrowing, Soobin tries to assess the situation. It seemed that he was only just visiting, but it was clear that the two were well acquainted- enough for the boy to laugh in such a way, snorting while hanging for dear life onto the windowsill. Albeit a little embarrassing, it was kind of endearing.

Soobin kind of wants to kick himself for thinking that way.

Suddenly a girl joins the group, pulling a CD out of her bag for the boy to take. From what he can hear, there's a lot of laughter, as well as subtle teasing. He doesn't think much of it, until another person joins the group, then two more, until it becomes somewhat of a noisy crowd. With a twinge of disappointment, he can no longer make out what's happening, but suddenly he realises why the boy had seemed so familiar. With pink tinged cheeks and a bright smile, Soobin remembers.

The boy from the courtyard.

Oh.

As if sensing the other's intense stare, the boy’s eyes flicker briefly in his direction, before cocking his head once again. Soobin’s eyes immediately snap downwards, and he tries to nod along to whatever inane topic Minhyuk is now ranting passionately about. This was bad. Was he being weird? Did the other think that was weird? He must have come across as being weird.

But as he chances another glance upwards, he notices the other boy still staring.

For just a brief moment, his lips quirk slightly into a smile, and Soobin thinks “oh,”. He almost falls off his chair.

While the motion of the crowd pulls the boy back into conversation and thankfully away from the embarrassing act, he fastens his eyes onto the desk with intense humiliation.

You're an idiot, Choi Soobin. Why did you do that? he thinks.

Maybe he was just being polite, but Soobin’s cheeks darken just the slightest bit. But that time it seemed like a deliberate act.

He feels a small push at his shoulder, quickly snapping to attention. He realises he's facing Minhyuk's expecting gaze.

“Yeah, I agree,” he replies automatically. The boy had smiled at him, as if it hadn't been weird that Soobin was staring at him. Almost as if they could be friends.

For the first time, he wonders if being visible isn't so bad.

“I knew you’d think so, Bin!” Minhyuk's voice suddenly rings out, and he slaps the table animatedly, startling the other boy. Soobin stares for a moment, eyes wide, before bursting into laughter at the exaggerated response.

He starts to feel eyes on him around the class, but for once he doesn’t really care.

He’s kind of drunk on the feeling.