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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.

Chapter Text

“You seem like you’re in a good mood today,”

The words catch Yeonjun slightly off guard as he stoops over to pick up a boxed juice from the vending machine. Stabbing a hole through the drink with his straw, he looks up at the boy standing in front of him and takes a long sip, taking in the sight of him.

“What do you mean?” He asks, making sure not to break eye contact. It was always like a game when talking to Hueningkai. You never knew whether it was going to be an innocent conversation or whether he was going to eat you alive. And truthfully, although he was still young, Yeonjun would rather not get on his dongsaeng’s bad side.

“I mean you’ve been weirdly nice these days. Always coming to visit me, lending me supplies, buying me all these treats even though I’m just your lowly dongsaeng—” Kai ticks off with his fingers, while raising his eyebrow.

It was true- Yeonjun had made a point recently to visit the younger more than usual, always stopping by during break times and bringing him snacks.

But he didn’t really have a motive. He was just being a good hyung, and wanted to look out for his dongsaengs. Kai was the half sibling of one of his good friends, and by relation became one of his.

Being elevated to a higher grade for his intellect, Yeonjun also felt slightly responsible for making sure that Kai was properly looked after, especially since he was in the same building.

But a twinkle in the younger’s eyes made him feel strangely uncomfortable. It was almost as if he knew what was going on.

Something that Yeonjun didn’t even know himself.

“If I didn’t know better…” Kai starts, dragging out his sentences, and Yeonjun’s fingers drum nervously against his side.

“…I’d say you were in love with me,” he finishes, and the elder’s eyes immediately widen in alarm.

“Excuse me?” he chokes out, almost dropping his juice. At the sight of the younger’s smug face, he immediately fills with horror, and quickly whips around to see the stunned and dubious looks of a large number of classmates around him.

“I mean, I know I’m beautiful but really—“ Kai continues airily, but Yeonjun doesn’t let him finish the sentence.

“Ya, you brat! Come here-“ he says, raising a fist, and the younger immediately runs off down the hallway, laughing.

They both eventually get caught and reprimanded by one of the teachers, but Yeonjun only cuffs Kai good-naturedly over the head and tells him to behave before going to his own class.

Scratching the back of his head, he wonders if the younger had really caught on.

**
It had started quite a few weeks ago.

Yeonjun had been making his way down to the vending machine one lunch break, when he decided to make a slight detour to check in on Hueningkai.

He knew that he shouldn’t worry, but he had heard a copious amount of stories of foreign students getting picked on in the past- and if Kai was elevated from a lower year, that was bound to make the situation even worse.

His best friend hadn't really been all that concerned though- said something about Kai being able to take care of himself, but it was in Yeonjun’s nature to worry. He was after all, a member of the student council, and as ridiculous as it sounded, he wanted everyone to feel welcome.

Hands in his pockets, he had stealthily poked his head through the window to scan the room- and stopped.

With one cheek smushed into the crook of his arm, and a mouth slightly open, there was a boy, sleeping soundly in an entirely empty classroom.

Yeonjun stared at the sight for a few moments, before quickly bringing the back of his hand to his mouth.

Too cute.

Had there always been such an adorable person like this in their grade? He couldn’t seem to think of a name to match with the face, no matter how desperately he tried to rack his brain.

Before he could make it very far, his thoughts were interrupted by a loud, “Soobin hyung!”. Startled by the sudden call, he turned back to see a boy with light brown hair running into the classroom and crash tackling the sleeping boy.

“Huh?!” With a choke, the boy suddenly jolted awake, eyes widened in fear, a near 180 from his peaceful, angelic expression from before. He was almost like a big, startled puppy.

“You shouldn’t scare me like that! I almost thought I was going to have a heart attack!” the boy had said accusingly, hand on his chest. Yeonjun had to physically hold himself back from laughing- the guy's expressions were just too honest and easy to read.

“It’s not my fault you’re so easily scared, hyung,” the lighter-haired boy had responded, but hadn’t objected when the elder clung to his sleeve.

Yeonjun smiled softly to himself, before picking up his juice box and slipping it into his pocket. He almost didn't want to leave the scene, but gathered that he should probably make it back before his friends started to wonder where he had gone. Perhaps he would find Kai another time.

As he walked down the corridor back to his classroom, a flock of classmates swarmed to his side, asking him about whether he wanted to join them for lunch, or whether he had heard the latest CD of a certain boyband, but his mind was entirely elsewhere.

“Soobin, huh,” he had murmured softly to himself.

He filed the name away for later.

Chapter Text

The boy comes many times from then on.

Soobin doesn’t know what exactly brings it on, or who he’s here to see specifically, but he’s grateful.

He doesn’t pay him as much mind as the first time, but he finds that he doesn’t particularly mind. They weren’t exactly friends anyway, and to smile that many times to a complete stranger would border upon strange.

So he’s content in just watching.

Sometimes the boy would show up at the end of the lunch period, sweaty with his tie loose and a gym bag under his arm. Sometimes he would show up right as the bell rings, peeking mischievously around the classroom for his half-Korean friend. No matter what he did, Soobin found that he liked all sides of him, without even meaning to.

It's strange when realises that his hobby of people-watching has shifted to just one person. The person whose name he still doesn’t know, yet knows more facts about than he should.

Like the fact that he's a dancer- number one in fact, in his club, and known state-wide for his talents. Soobin later finds out that he's also part of the student council- has been for a while now, and also volunteers at animal shelters on the weekends, as if he's not already devastatingly perfect. Through his own observations, he finds that the boy always smiles shyly when he's being praised, yet preens as if to ask for more. He never seems to be without food, always seeming to favour eating over any present that any of his adoring fans can give him, but also loves gaming and watching One Piece.

Soobin thinks he's a real mash-up of traits, yet they all boil down to one word- endearing.

His ears redden at the thought.

The half-Korean boy from his class isn't the only one that the courtyard boy comes to see, but he's the main receiver of his affections. Soobin briefly considers asking going up to him for answers, but shakes his head, slapping his cheeks. He can’t bring himself to do it. The boy seemed to be quite popular among his peers, brimming with joy and youth, and Soobin could think of no-one more opposite than himself.

It was never going to happen anyway, he tells himself. He wasn't expecting anything to really happen.

But his dilemma must show on his face, because one day he’s unexpectedly dragged to the side by both Beomgyu and Taehyun.

“You have a crush,” Beomgyu says.

Before he can even open his mouth, he’s cut off by the wicked cackles of his supposedly two best friends.

“Me?” He points at his chest, head turning almost comically around to make sure he wasn’t mistaken.

“Oh, give up the act. We heard from Minhyuk the other day that you were eyeing someone- so moony that you were barely listening to him,” Beomgyu says, smirking, and Soobin’s heart drops all the way into his stomach. What did that mean? Did he know? Did they all know?

“No…I was just distracted,” he says, wiping his sweaty palms onto his pants.

Curse his awful tendency to drift off at the most inopportune times. Curse his easy ability to sweat even more.

After a long look at the elder, Taehyun finally rests a kind hand against his shoulder.

“You know you don’t have to lie to us right? I just think that it’s great you like someone. You usually never tell us things like that,” Taehyun smiles gently. Soobin opens his mouth to reply, but the teacher walks in and the other boy quickly shuffles back to his seat.

Letting the words sit in his mind for a while, Soobin frowns slightly, and wonders if he really seemed that closed off when talking to his friends.

He didn’t want to seem like he was concealing his emotions on purpose- it was just that Taehyun and Beomgyu were two of his closest friends, and he didn’t know what he’d do if they knew he was different-- if they thought differently of him, he revises.

He looks down at the table glumly, before pulling out his books. He was pathetic.

Thinking back on it, he had never even had a crush before, so he doesn’t even quite know himself what he likes. Surely this couldn't be considered a crush? What was his type?

2D, he thinks. Like a character from a manhwa.

Dark hair, cute, looks good in uniform.

Funny, bright smile, friendly.

Sharp eyes—

Sharp eyes?

He falters in his thoughts.

“Choi Soobin?”

“Yes!” The response comes out much louder than he means to, and there are a number of snickers around him, as well as a subtle shake of Beomgyu’s head. He looks up to see the teacher staring back at him in bewilderment, with a class roll in his hand.

“I’m glad to see your enthusiasm so early in the morning, Soobin-ssi, but it would be nice if you could lower your volume a little,” the teacher shakes his head, and he sits back down in humiliation. Eyes fastened determinedly to his desk, he wonders why exactly he had spaced out so much.

“Loverboy must be daydreaming again,” comes a snicker from behind him, and he looks even further down, face burning. He should never have talked to Minhyuk in the first place.

He wasn't in love or anything.

He just liked to watch people. A single person.

It was like a project. There were many times where he had witnessed the birth of a friendship out on the courtyard, as well as its developments throughout the year. There were also many times where he watched the activities of certain social groups.

It was just the first time he had seen such an enigma like this boy- cool, confident, cheerful, with a smile as bright as the sun, who Soobin had only seen once in the courtyard before, and now seemed to live permanently in his classroom. It was strange how he had never seen him before.

He can’t even say for certain which class the other boy was from, and whether it was a long trip to come over almost every day.

Soobin likes to think this is the reason why he’s developed such an interest.

Because any other reason would give him too much to think about.

Stop thinking about it, he scolds his brain. Idiot Soobin.

“Shut up,” he hisses out loud by accident.

“What was that?” the teacher asks, eyebrows furrowing, as the other looks back at him in alarm.

“Oh, uh…nothing, seonsaengnim. I just…uh…could I step outside for a bit?” He asks awkwardly, fingers clenching and unclenching reflexively underneath the table. Please. The teacher assesses him for a second, before his eyes soften.

“Sure, take your time. You don’t look too good,” comes the response. Soobin takes the opportunity with relief, bolting as fast as his legs can take him in the school zone.

Quickly walking throughout the corridor, he rubs his face with his hands, and pushes his hair back.

Why had he been thinking about all of those unnecessary thoughts? It was so unlike him.

Perhaps he was projecting his ideals onto this boy- the picture perfect embodiment of the slice of life high school experience that Soobin wanted so badly. The picture perfect embodiment of attractiveness that Soobin couldn’t help but admire.

Admiration...? Was that it?

No, thinking someone was cute after a sweaty time playing basketball at the gym couldn't possibly just be admiration. Who was he fooling?

Shaking his head, he speeds down the corridor until he finds a quiet spot, and sits down, head buried in his hands.

What was he doing? Thinking such strange thoughts about someone that he didn't even know, and even disrupting and skipping class. He was someone that abided by the rules. He didn’t like making trouble for others, and he always wanted to fade into the background by not being the best, nor the worst.

Just in the middle.

So why was he thinking such troublesome thoughts? Staring distantly at the ground, he wonders what his mother would think if she somehow find out about this incident, and casts his eyes down in apology.

He startles as something drops right next to him.

He looks to his left at what appears to be a notebook, then up at where it had dropped, and sees a face at the top of the stairs.

“I’m so sorry! Are you alright?” The words come flying at the latter, but they barely register.

Wondering if he’s hallucinating, Soobin doesn’t say a word- merely looks at the book, then back at the face, then repeats.

It’s the boy from the courtyard.

Chapter Text

He stares vacantly for a few seconds, before the boy comes running down, and suddenly it registers to Soobin that the situation might be real.

That he might be real.

“I’m so sorry! Are you alright?” The words come flying at the latter, and he vaguely notes the other grasping his arms and head, looking for damage.

“I didn’t hurt you, did I?” The other looks to Soobin for clarification.

But he only blinks once, then twice, then looks back up at the other, dazed.

“I…” he starts, but somehow isn’t able to complete the sentence. He’s too tongue-tied to speak.

Say something, idiot. Anything.

“Oh god…I must’ve hurt you real bad for you to be so out of it,” the boy says, biting his lip with worry. His face is wrought with a look of such genuine sorrow that Soobin scrambles to try and respond. He doesn’t want the other to think that his shyness is in any way his fault.

“No- I…I’m fine. You didn’t hit me,” he says, voice cracking slightly, but the words come out coherent enough for the other boy to understand. His heart races slightly at the delivery, but he knows that the words have taken effect.

Because after his initial look of confusion, the boy responds with a smile so bright that Soobin has to look away so as to stop a potential heart attack.

Oh god. I might die.

“You’re really alright? I didn’t really knock your braincells out?” The other asks, and Soobin somehow finds the courage to nod in return.

The other boy quickly gets to his feet, and dusts off his pants. For one second Soobin is worried that he may have chased him away, but the other only holds his hand out to him.

Soobin looks at it like a foreign object.

The other boy laughs at his bewildered expression, and Soobin can’t help but feel embarrassed when he realises that it was an offer to help him up.

Cheeks reddening, he quickly scrambles to his feet. Now at his full height, he awkwardly towers over the other, which only makes him feel more clunky than usual.

He had never really felt fully comfortable with his height- although it was usually something most people liked and envied, it only made Soobin seem like an awkward, fumbling giant, especially around his cooler friends of a more average height.

The other boy seemed to be quite tall too, but it seemed to suit him, standing confidently with a charming smile.

Soobin hangs his head low, ears reddening.

“You’re so refreshing,” comes a sudden comment, the other boy’s eyes turning into crescent moons, as he looks up at the taller. Soobin’s so caught up with his smile for a moment that it takes him a couple fo seconds to register his words.

Refreshing?

His brain goes into overload trying to analyse the comment- surely he couldn’t have been talking about him. All Soobin had ever been called before in his life was quiet.

Not quiet enough to be creepy or dubbed a nerd, but enough to not leave an impression.

So what did the other boy mean?

Before he can work through his confusion, the other boy is already speaking.

“What were you doing out here, by the way? I mean, I’m glad I didn’t hit you, but you crouching here was really dangerous,” the boy asks.

He’s about to respond, when he snaps his mouth shut, unsure how to answer. How was he supposed to tell the other that he was the reason Soobin was distressed enough to run out of class?

Thinking over his options, he chooses to awkwardly shrug instead, rubbing the back of his head.

So embarrassing.

The other boy cocks his head initially at this reaction, before a certain sense of realisation washes over his features.

“Oh, I see,” he says, a mischievous grin on his face. He then leans forward and bumps Soobin’s shoulder with his own. Soobin almost has a heart attack.

He knows, he thinks in panic. Then chastises himself- no- there was nothing to know.

“You’re skipping class, aren’t you?” the boy whispers behind one hand, even though it’s still loud and unmistakably child-like.

Soobin feels a mixture of conflicted emotions. He shakes his head rapidly- he wasn’t intending to, even if that was what had eventually happened, and he didn’t want the other to think he was some kind of slacker.

But the boy’s mischievous smile still doesn’t disappear, and Soobin wonders what it would take to sway him once he had an idea.

“Don’t worry, I’ll keep your secret. You helped me out anyway, by not being injured,” the boy winks, putting a finger up to his lips.

When Soobin looks back at him with a baffled expression, he lets out a loud laugh, tucking his hair boyishly behind his ear.

“I mean, I really don’t know what I would do if I had a record to go along with my aesthetic delinquency,” the boy says, turning his head slightly so that Soobin can see the line of piercings along his ear that he had never really noticed in much detail before.

He had never seen anything like it- there weren’t many people in school that could get away with such a thing, but they made him look like some kind of cool bad boy from a shoujo manhwa.

Soobin flushes when he realises how close they are.

“Ya! Choi Yeonjun! What’re you still doing? The teacher asked for the books ages ago!” A voice rings out from the top of the stairs, and the other boy’s eyes widen briefly in panic.

“Ah- looks like I’ve been caught,” he grins, before reaching forward to pick up the book. Soobin doesn’t really know how to react- doesn’t want this conversation to end so soon, but the boy seems to already be on his heels, ready to leave.

Suddenly he feels a hand ruffle through his hair, and he looks down to see the boy grinning up at him.

“Stay in class, delinquent #2,” the shorter says cheekily, before running off.

As Soobin watches his retreating figure, he somehow finds the courage and yells back.

“Don’t almost kill any other people either, delinquent #1,” he says, and sees the other laugh, waving his hand.

The owner of the voice at the top of the stairs suddenly emerges, and looks back and forth along the corridor.

“Hey, you. Did Choi Yeonjun just pass by here? Or at least a boy with a student council badge? He was supposed to deliver some books,” the boy frowns, pushing up his glasses.

Choi Yeonjun? Was that the boy’s name?

Clearing his throat, he quietly says, “No, I didn’t see anyone pass by here,”. The frowning boy further furrows his eyebrows at this statement, before looking back up the stairs.

“Okay, well let me know if you see him,” the other waves dismissively, as if Soobin is no longer a priority.

He lets out a sigh of relief.

Hand touching the spot on his hair in which the other had ruffled earlier, the true weight of the earlier conversation suddenly dawns upon him for the first time.

He had just had an entire conversation with the courtyard boy.

Him. Choi Soobin. Had not only had an entire conversation with someone without running away, but had had it with one of the most sought after boys in school.

He sinks onto the ground.

No- not only that, but he doesn’t think you’re a weirdo. He thinks you’re refreshing!

Thinking back about the encounter, Soobin’s heart races.

He’s not a main character by any definition- he knows this.

But watching the bright, confident enigma that is the courtyard boy, and how he talks to Soobin as if he were just as interesting and good, makes him feel a certain way in which he can’t express.

He doesn’t know much about love or what high school crushes are supposed to be like, but there's one thing he does know.

He's never going to be able to stop these butterflies.

He leans back into the wall with a groan.

Chapter Text

He doesn’t get to talk much with Yeonjun after that.

He supposes it was to be expected- they weren’t suddenly going to be best friends after accidentally meeting once.

But he thinks shyly that the smiles and tiny waves whenever the other comes by his classroom is a vast improvement from what it used to be. Because now they know each other to an extent- or at least, the other boy at least knows of his existence, and it feels good.

He even has a name now to put to the face, and repeats it like a mantra in his head.

Choi Yeonjun.

It briefly crosses his mind that he could perhaps try and meet the other again in the same way as the first time, but chides himself.

No- he wasn’t going to risk his grades for something like that.

Plus, it was a much more reliable source to watch the other through his daily visits to the classroom anyway. Although it was usually at different times each day, Soobin spent a majority of his breaks in the classroom, so it was rare that he wasn’t able to catch him.

And with Beomgyu and Taehyun often using the time to argue over each other, he had a refuge to hide his dreamy stares.

But still- it's strange. With his love for people-watching, his supposedly momentary infatuation with this cool, confident enigma of a boy doesn't seem to subside with time.

It’s strange. Really strange.

Still, Soobin can’t help but shyly watch him. Even looking from afar, he could tell that there was something different about Yeonjun.

He was loud, confident, playful.

But mixed with a little hint of kind, grateful, shy. Pink-tinged cheeks with a blossoming smile.

He can't tear his eyes away.

“What’re you looking at again?” Taehyun teases, fingers pushing back Soobin’s hair.

“Huh? Oh, nothing,” he blurts out immediately, eyes drawn away from the windowsill.

Damn. He got caught again.

“He’s probably distracted because the school festival’s coming up,” Beomgyu says, putting his hands behind his head as he leans back against his chair.

“It’s prime manhwa material, after all,” he grins, pushing back until it’s almost parallel to the ground.

“Don’t do that- you’re going to fall,” Taehyun chides, putting a steady hand against it, to which the elder rolls his eyes.

Soobin smiles at this interaction, but his attention is quickly caught by the words.

“Is the school festival this month? I didn’t know it was so soon,” he asks, eyebrows furrowing.

“Yeah, it’s next week actually. You were supposed to have signed up for something, weren’t you?” Beomgyu frowns. He quickly turns to Taehyun for confirmation.

“I guess it’s harder for people who aren’t part of clubs to remember. We both automatically have shifts, but Soobin hyung isn’t part of anything,” Taehyun says thoughtfully, before giving Soobin a quick smile of reassurance.

“Don’t worry, you can always sign up for something after class,” he says, patting the taller’s hand.

Soobin considers this for a moment, before looking to the side.

So embarrassing, he thinks.

Hearing about the clubs that his friends were a part of only reminded him of how uncool he was, and how little he was involved in anything.

When class finally finishes, he waves goodbye to the other two, and tightens his bag strap as he heaves it over his shoulders. He makes the trek all the way to the staffroom next to the guidance counsellor’s office, and peeks his head in, to look for the roster of activities to sign up for.

As his eyes glance over the available positions, he notes that there are an overwhelming majority of votes centred around bringing props and food, and taking on shifts in certain clubs, but not nearly enough for moving equipment and more manual labour-based work.

He thinks quietly to himself that he could always take the easy route out and sign up for the former, but a twinge of guilt eats away at him.

He remembers that Beomgyu and Taehyun would be slaving away at their respective clubs, and would be working so hard while he was just relaxing.

He also knows that despite its unpopularity, moving equipment was a job that needed to be done, and so he signs up.

Plus, there’ll be less people you have to interact with, he tries to convince himself, and smiles to himself.

Little steps.

**

When the time of the school festival finally comes about, Soobin finds that not only are there not that many helpers, but that a majority of the people who signed don’t show up at all.

He groans internally.

“Wow, man. Tough luck, huh?” Minhyuk pops up from behind him, and startles Soobin violently.

As the elder scans the work to be done, Soobin briefly wonders whether he would help.

Maybe Minhyuk isn’t such a bad guy after all, he thinks.

But the other only clucks his tongue in pity, and promptly walks off. Soobin’s face falls.

Right. It was okay- he could do this alone if he had to.

As he carefully picks up a box, he heaves it up onto his knee, and takes a moment to balance himself.

There were quite a few boxes, but it wasn’t anything unachievable. Sure, he might end up missing out on most of the school festival, but it wasn’t like he had anything else to do anyway.

All two of his friends had shifts to work, and there wasn’t really any activity he was interested in.

Although the maid cafe was definitely something that peaked his nerdy interests, he felt that it just wasn’t worth it going alone. That would definitely only draw attention to himself, which was not what he wanted.

As he runs through the activities in his mind, he promptly crashes into another body, and feels hands reach out to cover his, in order to steady the box.

“Whoah! You okay?” Comes the voice, and Soobin’s eyes widen.

He looks to the side of the box, to see Yeonjun’s eye-crinkling grin.

Oh!

“So you’re volunteering as well, I see,” the boy says, shifting the weight of the box so that he’s bearing all of it. Soobin makes a sound of protest, but Yeonjun promptly ignores it.

“I think it’s about time I paid back my debt of almost killing you,” the elder smiles cheekily.

“You’re volunteering as well?” Soobin asks, as he picks up another box, and shifts his weight so that he’s more stable. Somehow the struggle of trying to balance makes him less self-conscious about his words, and he finds the words coming out without warning.

“Oh no, I’m part of the dance team so I have a shift. But Kai was just complaining about how no-one showed up. So thank god he has you,” Yeonjun grins, as they walk side by side to place the boxes down.

The name Kai doesn’t ring a bell in Soobin’s head, but he supposes that with the millions of friends that the elder probably has, it wasn’t unreasonable not to know.

He only smiles back, and thinks that at least he’s of some use to somebody out there.

As they continue walking, they talk a bit more, before Yeonjun is suddenly approached by a girl holding something that looks like a list. The two discuss something for a bit, before he turns to Soobin with a sheepish look on his face.

“Sorry I couldn’t help any more,” he says apologetically. The younger only shakes his head, before levelling a dimpled smile at the other, waving him a goodbye. Just talking to him alone was enough to raise his spirits for the day.

Progress, Soobin thinks to himself in gentle satisfaction.

But thinking back on his conversation, who was this other person that was supposed to be volunteering?

As he turns back around to collect more equipment, he startles when he almost trips over another person crouching there.

“Oh- I’m so sorry!” the boy says, as Soobin reaches out to steady the other, just as Yeonjun had steadied him. Not again, he thinks with embarrassment. Then he stops.

It’s the half-Korean boy from his class.

Eyes wide, Soobin looks back and forth between the box in his arms, and the boy.

This boy was volunteering as well? One of Yeonjun’s closest friends? He gapes at the sight.

“Hey, you’re from my class right?” The boy suddenly asks, and Soobin is surprised to find out that the other even knows who he is. He nods shyly.

“Oh, great. Thanks for helping me out!” The other smiles, before nudging him with his shoulder.

“Not a lot of people take up this job. I’m Hueningkai, by the way,” he says, and suddenly everything makes sense. Kai. Hueningkai. Of course.

“T-thanks. I’m Soobin,” he replies, bowing his head down.

“Aw, no need to be so formal!” The younger grins.

“A-alright, then,” he says, before directing a lop-sided smile at the other. It seemed that the other wasn't so bad.

They eventually talk some more, discussing mundane things like their homework and what they thought of the different teachers at the school, but the conversation flows much more easily than Soobin could’ve imagined.

Somehow Hueningkai makes things fun.

So this is probably why he’s so popular, he thinks to himself, as he watches the younger’s bright energy from the corner of his eye. It was so different from himself.

“Soobin hyung, are you doing anything after this?” Hueningkai asks suddenly, as they haul the last of the equipment to the classrooms.

The taller looks up, surprised, as he turns to look at the other.

Huh?

“Oh, um…not really, I guess…I was just going to go watch my friend’s dance performance,” he says quietly. Beomgyu hadn’t really said anything about him needing to come along, but he had wanted to show up as support regardless. Plus, he didn't want to seem like a loser who had nothing to do, even if that was the truth.

Listening to the words, the younger stands up straight, enthusiastic.

“Really?! What a coincidence!” Kai beams, as he dusts off his hands. He turns around, pulls a fan out of his bag, and passes it to Soobin. He startles when he realises what it is.

“That’s my friend, Yeonjun. He's the captain of the dance team,” Hueningkai says proudly, as he points at the fan. Soobin can only stare.

“He’s suuuper popular you know! One of the girls in his fanclub made these and passed one to me,” he winks, as the taller turns it over repeatedly.

One side has Yeonjun’s face plastered across it, while the other says “Team Yeonjun fighting!”

He’s mortified. Surely this kind of thing only happened in movies?

Suddenly he feels Hueningkai grabbing his arm, and the next thing he knows, he’s being swept away by his new friend and pushed into the school gymnasium, where there’s a screaming crowd.

“Come on! I think the new performance is starting!” Hueningkai calls over the noise, and Soobin has to squint from his position to make out what’s going on.

On stage is a line up of girls- six of them to be exact, that look like they’re finishing up their act. When he shifts his gaze to the side of the stage, he thinks he sees a crop of blonde hair, and notices that it’s Beomgyu.

His heart soars.

It wasn’t like he had planned to make it just in time for Beomgyu’s shift or anything, but he was glad nonetheless.

He cheers from the back of the crowd as his group enters the stage, and doesn’t stop until the entire performance is over.

“You’re such a good friend, Soobin hyung,” Kai laughs as he claps his hands together, and Soobin flushes. Sure, he was embarrassing, but he’d be damned if he went to see his friend perform and not cheer his loudest.

A few minutes later, after the stage is cleared, he hears footsteps, then the launching of a body at his own, taking him off guard.

“Soobin hyung! You came!” Beomgyu appears out of nowhere, and tugs on the elder’s arm. Soobin laughs, and holds onto him before he falls. Then suddenly noticing Hueningkai, he looks back and forth between the two.

“Are you guys here together?” he asks cautiously, before the younger steps forward.

“Choi Beomgyu, right? I’m a huge fan of your performances!” Hueningkai beams, to which the other is instantly mollified, rubbing the back of his head shyly.

“Oh, thanks. You’re-you’re Kanghyun’s little brother, right? The one that’s good friends with Yeonjun?” Beomgyu responds. Soobin’s startled at the name at first- how did Beomgyu know Yeonjun?- when he realises that being the captain of the dance team, it was a given that Beomgyu would know him. Of course.

It was just Soobin that was disconnected.

“Yeah, actually I came here to see him,” Hueningkai beams, before taking out his fan and waving it. Beomgyu looks at the fan briefly, before trying to stifle his laugh.

"That's cute," he grins, patting the younger on the head. Soobin looks between the two, then at the ground.

It was enviable how easily they managed to get along. Soobin wishes that he could be like that too.

“Speaking of Kanghyun though, we’re throwing a party on Friday! I know it's late notice, but you two should totally come,” Hueningkai grins, tugging on Soobin’s hand. Soobin turns around fast enough to give himself whiplash.

A party invite? Including him?

"Wow, really? You sure Kanghyun won't mind?" Beomgyu asks, while shooting Soobin a hesitant glance.

“Of course not! The more, the merrier. Especially you, Soobin hyung! As thanks for making equipment duty less tiring, coming to my party is a must!” Hueningkai says, wagging his finger.

Before Soobin can reply, the younger is already pressing a card invitation into his hands. The lights in the gymnasium suddenly dim, and the new performance comes on.

Looking at the invitation with eyes wide, he finds that he doesn’t know what to say.

He’d never been to a party before.

The only thing that distracts him is Yeonjun’s voice up on stage.

Chapter Text

Soobin ends up going with Beomgyu and Taehyun.

Head still dazed from Yeonjun’s performance at the school festival from days ago, he’s almost too shy to show up in case by some chance of fate, Yeonjun’s also invited to Hueningkai’s party.

Which would probably be more than likely since they were close friends.

He hadn’t thought it possible to be even more starstruck by the elder, but now he had visual proof burned into the back of his eyes of the older boy’s talent, and that disarmingly gorgeous gaze of his.

Needless to say, Soobin thinks that he, the manhwa-reading nerd, has a new fascination with dance.

Mussing up his neatly brushed hair, he looks to the side at his two friends who chat animatedly on their way to the party.

He doesn’t know how they’re so calm, going to an event hosted by someone they were barely familiar with.

Taehyun himself hadn’t even exactly been invited, but Beomgyu had mentioned something about needing moral support, and Soobin tries to ignore the implication that it’s for him.

Because it was true- he did need the moral support.

When they finally arrive, he’s spared the awkward door knocking ordeal when it swings open of its own accord, and he comes face to face with a glowing Hueningkai.

“Soobin hyung! You came!” the younger smiles brightly as they enter the doors, before excitedly greeting the other two.

Soobin blinks, startled by the other’s radiant smile as he’s pulled inside.

As soon as they enter, Beomgyu immediately goes off to get some drinks, and Taehyun starts making small talk with the young host of the party.

Soobin takes the chance to get a good look around the house, and somehow he feels even smaller than before, despite his grand height.

It's around two stories tall, with an impossibly high ceiling and multiple chandeliers, looking more expensive than anything he’s ever seen before.

Looking down at his ratty white cardigan and simple jeans, he feels very out of place.

There are teenagers everywhere, sprawled around couches and dancing, with a few holding what Soobin thinks might be alcohol.

He swallows, and inches just the slightest bit closer to Taehyun.

Pretty soon, it becomes evident that Hueningkai needs to greet other guests, and he leaves the two alone with an apologetic smile.

Taehyun has a comforting hand on Soobin’s back the entire time, but even that isn’t enough to stop the latter from feeling nervous. He feels like his heart's going at 120 miles per hour.

Soon enough, even the younger ends up recognising someone he hasn’t seen in a long time, and because Soobin doesn’t want to ruin the other’s night, he tells him it’s okay to go talk with them.

So now he’s alone.

Bad move.

Biting his lip, he stands awkwardly to the side, hoping that Beomgyu would come back soon with the drinks, while playing with his phone. But after waiting for a while, it appears that he wasn’t going to be returning anytime soon.

Eyebrows creased in worry, he decides to stay close by to the door so that if his friends were to regather at the end of the night, it would be easy to find them.

But after standing for a while, the loud music pounding in his ears as he watches friends catch up and couples whisper to each other, he can’t help but feel nauseous.

He doesn’t know what it is- the overwhelming number of strangers or the heat, but he starts to feel dizzy.

Grabbing onto the side of a staircase, he quickly abandons all thought of waiting the night out, and runs upstairs in search of a spare room to breathe in.

When he finally makes it up, he picks any random room, and bursts in.

Before he can even turn on the lights, his vision blurs and he falls to the ground in a faint.

**

When he wakes up, there’s a cool cloth on his forehead, and fingers softly brushing through his hair.

He's dizzy- still very dizzy, but it's much better than before.

The light's too bright for him to open his eyes, so he keeps them shut, focusing on the soft rising and falling of a chest behind him, and the fingers in his hair.

What a nice dream, he thinks to himself, eyes fluttering.

He takes a deep breath in, then out.

Then realises that there's something very wrong.

He quickly opens his eyes, and although it takes a while for them to adjust, he sees a boy with piercing clarity.

He’s frozen to the spot.

“Hey, you’re awake,” the other smiles, eyes creasing, before he stops the fingers carding through his hair.

Yeonjun.

When it finally registers to Soobin what’s happening, his ears turn red, and he quickly scrambles to his feet, backing up against the bed.

In the mirror, he can see his hair sticking up in all different directions.

“I…what happened?” he chokes, turning to look at his surroundings. The other boy only smiles back.

“Ah...well I came in here to get some downtime, when I saw what looked like your dead body sprawled across the floor,” the elder says simply, crossing his legs.

Mouth snapping shut, Soobin’s only barely able to suppress his mortified screams.

Was that really what had happened?

The first time he sees Yeonjun outside of the school picture, in a setting where they’re not just acquaintances passing each other by in the school corridor, and he’s blacked out in a darkened room.

“I’m sorry,” Soobin mumbles, before the other laughs.

His eyes flicker up, and sees the elder staring back at him with an amused smile, no sign of disgust anywhere.

His heart starts beating again.

Eyes looking back down, Soobin notices that it’s the first time he’s seen Yeonjun outside of school uniform.

He’s wearing a black shirt with a windbreaker on top, and his eyes are smudged out with a hint of eyeliner.

It’s a simple look, but very effective.

Soobin’s mouth is suddenly dry.

“So what were you doing here anyway? I always feel like we meet in the weirdest places,” Yeonjun says teasingly, raising an eyebrow.

Heartbeat spiking, Soobin quickly looks to the side. He licks his lips nervously and lets out a low laugh.

“I just seem to have really bad luck, I guess,” he says, before quickly backtracking, his eyes wide in alarm.

“N-not that meeting you is bad luck or anything! I just- I meant you always seem to catch me in bad-“ he starts again, before being cut off by the laugh of the other.

“Ah sorry, you don't actually have to explain yourself- I was just teasing you,” Yeonjun waves, trying to hide his smile behind his hand.

It takes Soobin a couple of seconds to process the words, before he snaps his mouth shut, cheeks blossoming with pink.

“Oh,” he says.

There's a silence.

Before he can say anything further, the door slams open, and they both jump.

Soobin almost slips trying to scramble to his feet, and looks up to see Hueningkai at the door, who stares back at both of them with surprise.

His expression is unreadable for a few seconds, before he walks over and grabs both of their arms with excitement.

“Come on, you guys! We’re playing a game and we need more numbers!” he says in a sing-song voice, before pulling them out of the room.

Soobin barely has time to say anything- neither does Yeonjun, as they’re dragged along by the younger, voices drowned out by the loud music of the party.

Glancing over at Yeonjun, Soobin can't help but feel disappointed that their time is cut short, despite his happiness to spend time with the boisterous younger.

He wasn't really great at making conversation, but he can't help but think back to the soft fingers carding through his hair, and the eye-creasing smile of the elder as he teased him.

It was nice. Really nice.

He chances another glance out of the corner of his eye, and sees Yeonjun staring back at him with a smile, mouthing jokes about the pushy boy dragging them around.

Head dazed, he smiles back.

The moment's cut off when they finally make it to their destination, and Hueningkai firmly shuts the door behind him, confronting Soobin with an overwhelming sight.

There’s a large circle.

Alongside a handful of girls from their school and a couple that he doesn’t recognise, there’s a group of popular looking guys and the host of the party himself in the centre of the room, all chatting loudly.

He’s almost rooted to the spot, unsure what to do.

Before he can ask what's going on, a boy leans over and places a bottle in the middle of the circle, smiling wickedly.

At the sight, Soobin blanches.

It’s truth or dare.

Chapter Text

Before he can say anything to withdraw himself from the game, the bottle is already in action.

He watches the events unfold in front of him, and sits, frozen.

Every instinct in his body is telling him to leave, but he doesn’t want to be rude- would rather die than have anyone think badly of him, but his heart palpitations won’t slow down.

If the bottle were to land on him, he doesn’t know what would be worse- being the centre of attention, or having to potentially bare his soul for the whole world to see.

He can barely speak to his classmates without stuttering, so he doesn’t know how he’ll sit through this.

He hears a sudden laugh, and looks up to see Yeonjun playfully pushing the girl next to him.

Oh.

Maybe he’ll stay- at least it would be nice to get to know Yeonjun a little better.

To know something more than just what he can see through classroom visits or coincidental meetings.

The first time the bottle spins, it lands on one of the girls, thankfully. The girl- he thinks her name is Ryujin- replies with dare, and spends the next five minutes chugging an entire litre of orange juice without restraint.

She spends the next five in the bathroom.

A majority of the room is mortified when she returns, mouth stained, but she replies with a shrug that she doesn’t really care.

Soobin finds that kind of cool.

As a few more turns pass, Soobin finds himself watching as people knock heads with each other, and pull stunts so wild that he's worried he might end up in a casket when it gets to his own turn.

But at the same time, some of the questions asked are so strange and embarrassing that he thinks to himself it might just be better to end up in a casket doing a stunt than answering them.

After around twenty minutes of gameplay, the bottle finally lands on Yeonjun. Soobin sits up a little straighter.

“Truth,” the elder says, smiling openly. He leans back on his palms in such a casual, effortless way that Soobin finds himself distracted for a moment, before focusing back on the girl giving the question.

“Okay, Yeonjun. We all know that you’re captain of the dance team, and extremely popular. And I know I’m not the only one thinking this, so…how many people have you dated?” she asks, cunning grin on her face.

At the question, Soobin feels his heart drop to his stomach.

He doesn’t want to hear the answer- knows that it’ll be too painful to bear, but he can’t turn away.

The elder looks down at the ground, eyebrows furrowing as he concentrates on his answer, and it only makes it harder and harder for Soobin to breathe.

Why is he taking so long? Are there really that many people? he thinks, chewing his lip worryingly.

Then the other flashes a bright smile, and cocks his head.

“None!” He says.

Soobin blinks.

What?

“I’ve never dated anyone,” he says with a shrug.

At this statement, there’s a silence.

Yeonjun? Had never dated anyone before?

There was no way that was true.

Soobin’s heart races.

“Ya, don’t lie to me!” the girl- he thinks her name might be Yuna- laughs, before Yeonjun shakes his head with a cheeky smile.

“No, really! I’ve always been too busy with my co-curriculurs and my studies,” he replies, shrugging.

“Surely you must’ve gotten offers before, though?” someone else presses on. Soobin plays nervously with the hem of his cardigan.

“Oh, uh…I have,” Yeonjun responds shyly, before looking down at the ground.

Oh.

“But I never accepted any of them. If I were to date, I’d want it to be with someone who knows me well,” he says quickly, scratching at his cheek.

“Oh yeah? Don’t we know each other well?” Hueningkai jokes, before Yeonjun rolls his eyes.

“Not you," he replies dryly, before he breaks back out into a smile.

"What's your type then?" Yuna prompts again, leaning forward.

Soobin waits nervously, fidgeting with his fingers.

"Maybe someone who balances me out well? Someone funny, but not too loud…and good-natured,” he says, and suddenly he makes eye contact with Soobin.

He looks away, cheeks burning.

Funny? Good-natured?

That could never be him.

The only thing that he could be was quiet, but he’s not sure that anyone would date another person just because they didn’t speak.

He looks down at the ground, disappointed.

It's not like you could ever have been his type, anyway, Soobin thinks, rubbing his arm self-consciously.

It's pure luck that you're even in his presence at all.

Somewhere in the background, the bottle spins again and a girl named Mijoo is dared to sit in the lap of the person five spaces to her right.

Soobin doesn’t exactly pay attention- too busy thinking about the fact that Yeonjun of all people, who had people fighting to talk to him on the daily, had never dated before.

He couldn't decide whether it was a good thing or a bad thing.

It was good in the sense that he doesn’t have to think about how popular the other is, and what type of person he tended to date, but bad in the sense that if he were to date, there would be no reason why his first partner would be Soobin.

Lost in thought, it barely registers to him what's going on in the game, until a shadow falls over his body, and he looks up to see a girl standing over him.

Then it hits him- the person five spaces to the girl’s right was him.

Hands hovering awkwardly, he can only watch as the girl plonks comfortably in his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck.

His face turns bright red.

There are hoots everywhere, as her soft skin brushes against his, the scent of her perfume clinging to him, and his head spins.

She’s pretty.

And she’s sitting in his lap.

“Sorry about this,” she whispers with an apologetic smile, but he shakes his head.

“It’s just the game,” he says back, though his blush won’t calm down. He feels someone slap him on the back.

When Mijoo finally returns to her seat, Soobin can’t help but replay the situation in his mind.

Did that really just happen?

It was strange.

She was pretty, and can still feel his face burn, but somehow it’s different- different from when he sees Yeonjun laugh while talking to his friend.

Or when he feels the other’s fingers ruffle through his hair, or when he waves at him through the classroom window.

There are no butterflies.

He sweats.

Why were there butterflies with Yeonjun?

With barely any time to recuperate from the last event, the bottle spins again with much more force, and he’s dragged back into the game.

He wants to leave- badly, but he notices Hueningkai’s watchful eye on him, as well as Yeonjun’s playful smile from across the room, and finds himself stuck.

While the old Soobin might have stayed so as to not offend the host, he would definitely not have stayed as he did now just to see his crush's face for just a little longer.

At least don’t let the bottle land on me, he thinks glumly.

The last thing he wanted to do was embarrass himself in front of Yeonjun, when he had already gone through the mortifying experience of fainting in front of him already.

It doesn't land on him, but the next spin does.

His heart almost stops.

"Truth or dare?" the girl opposite him asks, grinning like a shark.

There were many people that had gone through the game twice, or even three times if they were particularly unlucky, but Soobin was fresh meat.

Every pair of eyes are concentrated on him.

“Uh…truth,” he replies lamely. Even if it was against the rules, he could still lie.

But he’d always been known to be a bad liar.

“Boring!” one of the popular guys hoot, but is hushed down quickly.

Soobin reddens.

“Okay, okay. My question is...do you have a crush on anyone in this room?”

It’s an entirely juvenile question, but there’s a silence, and Soobin’s frozen in place.

He can't speak.

His mind flashes back to Mijoo, with her dark hair and red lips. Everyone was probably expecting him to say her name.

In fact, it would be weirder if he didn’t, seeing as he had barely interacted with any of the other girls in the room.

But his eyes flicker, and he can’t help but look at Yeonjun, sitting there effortlessly with his strikingly dark hair, his simple black t-shirt and his sharp eyes.

The very same boy that stares back at him, waiting.

“I…it’s…” he starts.

He doesn’t want to give anyone the wrong impression, but at the same time he doesn’t want to lie.

“Yes?” he chokes out, and the entire room is filled with hoots and whistles.

“Who is it? Who is it?” He hears, and suddenly he is the centre of attention.

The girls nudge and giggle to each other excitedly, and the boys edge closer, excited.

“Ya, that’s two questions! Leave him alone!” Ryujin says, batting off the hooting boys. Soobin gives her a grateful look, before looking away with flushed cheeks.

Yeonjun is staring at him with a look he can’t exactly discern.

He can’t make eye contact with him right now.

That's so coming back to bite you, idiot, he thinks to himself, hugging his legs.

Just stick it out for a few more rounds and tell Kai that you were sick and needed to go home.

He shuts his eyes. He was so embarrassed.

Thankfully, the game only gets through a few more rounds, before people start getting bored and taking their exits.

Soobin tries to think to himself if he can use the opportunity to leave, but somehow he can't bring himself to move- not when Yeonjun levels that eye-crinkling smile at him from across the room, and he misses the opportunity.

So against all of his instincts telling him to go, he decides to stay.

With a tighter-knit playing group, it’s suddenly Yeonjun’s turn again, and Soobin doesn’t know if he can handle another risque question like the previous one directed at the other.

But this time, there’s a different twinkle in the elder’s eyes.

“Dare,” Yeonjun says, smiling cheekily.

The girl next to him sits up a little straighter.

Soobin doesn't like that look in her eyes.

“Okay...I dare you…to kiss the last person you were alone with,”

Soobin's eyes widen.

The entire room hoots.

Heart racing, he sits there, frozen, unsure what to do. Yeonjun was going to be kissing someone...right in front of him? As in, right in front of his eyes?

Relax, it's just the game. Just be grateful you didn't get something that embarrassing on your turn, he thinks to himself, before nodding determinedly with relief.

He sits there, waiting anxiously for whoever the victim of the dare is to stand up, before he comes to a realisation.

A realisation that it’s him.

He was the one that was last alone with Yeonjun, before Hueningkai had interrupted.

Blood running cold, he enters a fight or flight mode.

He tries to think of ways to get out of it before the elder realises- thinks that perhaps their encounter was too small to be properly considered being "alone", when Hueningkai foils it with a loud cackle.

“Weren’t you last with Soobinie hyung?” he croons, and all of the eyes in the room turn to stare at him.

Suddenly everyone starts laughing, then egging them on.

“Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” they yell.

It’s clear that they’re just swept along with the mood, because Soobin is too, heartrate spiking as Yeonjun stares at him from across the room.

For a second, the other’s expression is unreadable, before he calmly walks up to Soobin, kneeling in front of him like a prince.

This action alone is enough to send Soobin’s mind into overdrive, watching as the other looks up at him, hand cupping his jaw.

He has stars in his eyes, Soobin thinks.

And he’s touching me. He actually knows he’s touching me. And his hands are so soft- why are they so soft? he thinks.

A million thoughts race through his mind, before they settle on one alone.

I’ve never been kissed before.

The chanting in the room increases, and Soobin can feel his vision waning.

He doesn’t think he can do this.

He screws his eyes shut, and leans back instinctively.

Chapter Text

It’s not a proper kiss.

Somehow, his prayers are heard, because Yeonjun instead presses a gentle peck on the other’s cheek, his warmth leaving Soobin's side far too quickly.

The cheers turn into disappointed boos, but the elder only waves them off good-naturedly, returning back to his seat.

While it’s clear that this isn’t Yeonjun’s first time, it still leaves Soobin’s face in flames.

“Aw, look at him! He’s so red!” Yuna coos, leaning over to pull at Soobin’s cheek.

At the unexpected reaction, Yeonjun slowly turns pink himself, hiding his blush behind his hand.

“Don’t overreact,” he says, looking to the side.

Soobin can’t look anywhere except the floor.

After a few more rounds of the game, it's clear that the cheek kiss is quickly forgotten, but he can't help but brush his fingers against where Yeonjun’s soft lips had made contact.

It felt surreal, even if it had happened by dare.

Just a few weeks ago, he would never have imagined even talking to the elder, let alone receiving a kiss from him at a party.

He can't help but feel giddy.

When the game finally finishes at the end of the night, Hueningkai sees them all out. Somehow Soobin doesn’t want to stick around Yeonjun, for fear that the memories of the kiss would creep up on him again, and he wouldn’t be able to control his blush.

Surprisingly, Soobin finds Beomgyu and Taehyun standing by the entrance, and quickly rushes into their waiting embrace.

“Where were you? We couldn’t find you all night,” Beomgyu asks, brushing his hair back in concern.

“Game,” is all he can manage to say.

“Game? You were with friends? Ah, our Soobin hyung really is growing up,” Taehyun coos, patting him on the back.

Before he can shake his head, he sees the orange juice girl- Ryujin, he thinks- walk down the stairs and give him a friendly smile.

Oh.

Perhaps he did make some acquaintances- not ones people would regularly call friends, but something that still meant a lot to someone shy like him.

He smiles down at the floor.

As they prepare to exit, Soobin watches as Beomgyu laughs and fistbumps with Hueningkai, while Taehyun reaches up and fondly messes up his hair.

“Man, you guys are like my parents!” Hueningkai jokes, before the other two pull faces at each other and laugh.

Soobin’s heart swells at this interaction, eyes creasing.

The night had been such a good experience, despite everything.

As they all walk off with waves, feeling much more lightweight than before, Soobin raises his head to take in a deep breath.

“What a good kid,” Beomgyu grins as soon as they’re out of sight.

Soobin nods vehemently in agreement, and pulls his cardigan more tightly around his body.

He wants to replay the night over and over again.

Before they can walk off to find the local bus stop, Soobin suddenly hears someone call out his name.

He turns around, and is startled to find Yeonjun jogging up to him, nose red from the cold and hair bright under the streetlight.

“Hey! I just wanted to catch you before you went,” he says, slightly out of breath.

Eyes wide, Soobin turns to his friends, unsure how to respond.

What was Yeonjun doing here?

Looking back and forth between the two, Beomgyu and Taehyun look equally as bewildered, but seem to catch onto the situation much faster than he does.

They both excuse themselves, stepping aside to go on ahead.

"We'll see you at the bus stop," Beomgyu pats his arm, before Taehyun hurries him along.

Soobin watches until their figures disappear, before he turns back to Yeonjun, anxiously waiting.

“I just wanted to apologise if I made you uncomfortable back there,” the elder says, rubbing the back of his neck.

Surprised, Soobin shakes his head.

“No, it’s okay. It was just part of the game,” he replies simply.

It was true- although he would undoubtedly play the scene over again in his mind as soon as he got home, he acknowledged that it was just a fleeting dare that the other had had no chance but to go along with.

Any other thought would make him burn up too much.

“Oh, yeah of course! But I uh…I did choose to go along with it, so…” Yeonjun says, before snapping his mouth shut.

It’s the first time that Soobin’s seen him tongue-tied.

It's surprising.

“Sorry, I’m not usually like this. What I meant to say was…are we good?” Yeonjun asks, searching the other’s eyes for answers.

Soobin’s heart soars.

“Yeah, we’re good,” he smiles shyly, dimples in his cheeks.

There’s a moment of silence, before Yeonjun smiles back.

“Good,” he replies.

They stand there silently in the cold for a few moments longer, before Yeonjun clears his throat.

“You should get going now- your friends are probably waiting,” he says, before reaching into his pocket and dropping something into the palm of Soobin’s hand.

When he looks down, he startles to find three lemon candy pieces.

He looks back up, questioningly.

“For your energy levels...you seemed quite faint earlier, so I thought it might help. I hope you can get better soon,” the elder says shyly, before ruffling his hair and jogging off.

Looking down at the candy, Soobin flushes.

He still feels embarrassed, but he’s grateful that the elder is thinking of him.

As he sits at the bus stop later, waiting for the next bus with Beomgyu and Taehyun chattering excitedly around him, he pops one of the candies into his mouth.

He swings his long legs back and forth on the bench and looks up at the night sky, feeling like a little kid again.

It’s sweet.

**

The next school day is eventful, to say the least. Hueningkai jumps up to him and tackles him from behind as soon as he enters the classroom, much to the surprise of their surrounding classmates.

One of the popular guys from the party passes him by in the hallway and waves at him, despite Soobin never having interacted with him.

Suddenly everything shifts, and Soobin’s life begins to fill with colour.

It's strange.

Even Yuna comes into their classroom during the break time and takes a seat at their table, which startles Soobin greatly. She spends most of the time complaining about never being able to catch Yeonjun, but over the initial shock of her arrival, Soobin finds it more amusing than annoying.

Ryujin brushes her hair, giving Soobin an apologetic look.

“Sorry, do I know you?” Beomgyu asks Yuna, annoyed at one point, while Taehyun tries to stifle his laughter.

“I’m here for Soobinie, not you, dwarf. He’s the one that has Yeonjun’s attention these days,” she sticks her tongue out at him, and Beomgyu splutters back.

“D-dwarf?!” He turns to look at Taehyun in disbelief, who only shrugs in return.

While Yuna and Beomgyu bicker, Hueningkai takes a seat at their desk too, and strikes up a conversation with Taehyun, having taken a liking to the other’s hair ruffles.

It’s loud.

Soobin can’t remember the last time he had spoken to so many people.

Over the noise, he sees Minhyuk raising his head and frowning at the crowd.

Soobin swallows, hoping that the noise isn’t bothering the rest of his class, and puts a hand on Beomgyu’s back as a signal to get him to quiet down a little.

But when he chances another glance at the other, he's surprised to see him walking over to their group.

His body casts a shadow over the table, and everyone immediately stops talking at the new arrival.

Cautiously, Taehyun manages a wave.

“Hey,” he smiles, sitting up straight.

The other smiles politely back, before looking at the table.

There are no spare seats left, his usual seat next to Soobin occupied by Yuna, and the extra seats taken by Hueningkai and Ryujin.

So instead, he awkwardly stands to the side.

“I didn’t know you guys were all friends,” he says casually, while gesturing at the girls at the table. Looking over at Yuna and Ryujin, Soobin's surprised at how relaxed and well-integrated they look.

He rubs his arm self-consciously.

“We’re not,” Beomgyu pipes up, before being whacked over the head by Yuna.

“Don't talk nonsense. We’re friends with Soobinie, aren’t we?” she smiles instead, leaning over to grab Soobin by the arm.

Soobin’s eyes widen in surprise.

Minhyuk seems to be taken aback as well, because his smile seems to slip off for a second.

“Oh, really? This quiet guy? And when’d you guys meet?” he asks.

“At the party on Friday,” Yuna replies, rolling her eyes, before she notices someone standing at the window.

She stands up immediately, abandoning the conversation, and Soobin follows her line of sight to a dark crop of hair by the window.

"Yeonjun!"

He almost stands up as well, when he remembers where he is.

Right- he shouldn’t be too cocky.

Just because they had talked a little the other night didn’t mean that he had permission to just go up to the boy every time he felt like it.

There were boundaries to this kind of thing.

But as he watches Yuna sidle up to the elder, his fingers drumming against the table nervously as Yeonjun laughs at something she says, he can't help but feel worried.

She was funny.

And pretty.

And seemed to be somewhat good-natured.

Chewing his lip, he wonders if she was something along the lines of his type.

She has more chance than you, at least, he thinks miserably.

Suddenly the two walk inside, and Minhyuk stands up straight, ready to make a greeting.

Soobin sits up nervously as well, wondering how he should present himself, and whether he should present himself in a certain way at all.

But surprisingly, Yeonjun blows right past Minhyuk, ignoring his raised hand in a wave, and moves straight to Soobin instead.

His eyes widen.

“Hey! How’re you feeling?” Yeonjun asks with a bright smile.

Minhyuk’s eyes practically bulge out of his head.

“I- a lot better, thank you,” Soobin replies shyly, before looking down at the table.

It seemed like a dream that the elder was talking to him.

He wants to bring up the candy, but feels that it's too private of a topic to bring up in front of so many people, so instead he keeps his mouth shut.

Still, his heart pounds from the interaction, and he feels flattered that the other was paying attention to him at all.

Before he can say anything again, he's suddenly cut off by the boy standing next to him, and he startles.

“Hey, you’re Yeonjun right? I’ve heard a lot about you! I’m Minhyuk,” the boy says, reaching out a hand to shake the other’s.

“Nice to meet you too,” Yeonjun smiles back, clearly surprised as well, before quickly retracting his hand.

Soobin looks down at the table, rubbing the back of his neck.

It seemed that their time was over.

“You've probably already heard, but my family are kinda well off. So if you ever need anything, just ask me,” Minhyuk says, folding his arms.

At this, Yeonjun's eyebrows raise.

"Ah...is that so?" he asks politely with a hesitant smile, before rubbing the back of his neck.

Bad sign.

After an awkward silence, Minhyuk pipes up again, leaning over the table uncomfortably close to Soobin.

“So I heard you guys went to a party on Friday, right? What were the invitation requirements?” he grins, slapping his hands together in an attempt to look casual.

“Oh, it was just a simple get together held by my brother. I invited Soobin and his friends because he helped me out on the day of the school carnival,” Hueningkai pipes up, and Minhyuk’s smile almost slides off again.

He had almost come close to helping Soobin that day too, but had backed off last second.

Soobin vaguely wonders if the other had regretted that, before mentally chiding himself.

He shouldn’t think badly of Minhyuk- perhaps there was a reason he chose not to help out.

“Hey, are you done talking about old news yet? Yeonjun oppa said he'd go with me to the cafeteria once he finished talking with Soobinie,” Yuna cuts in, impatient.

Eyes widening, Soobin turns his attention to the elder.

Was that true? The elder had really come in just to talk to him?

“Oh no, I’m all done. See you guys around,” Yeonjun says, embarrassed, before shooting a hesitant look at Minhyuk. His last wave is directed at Soobin.

“Bye,” Minhyuk pipes up, but doesn’t receive a response.

He turns beet red.

After the two leave, Ryujin and Hueningkai also make their way out, leaving just Soobin, Taehyun, Beomgyu and Minhyuk at the table.

Minhyuk quickly slides into an empty seat, and kicks against the desk.

“Man, what’s with that guy?” he asks, slightly annoyed.

“W-what?” Soobin replies, eyes wide.

“Acting all high and mighty and stuff. You agree, right?” the elder asks, nudging him.

Soobin only stares blankly back.

“Hey, he’s not that bad,” Beomgyu says, shaking his head, while also putting a hand on Soobin’s leg for reassurance.

Minhyuk only glares back, before folding his arms. At the silence that follows, he turns back to Soobin.

"Well, what's the deal with you two? Why would Yeonjun get close to someone like you?" he asks nastily.

Soobin's eyes widen, before he looks down at the ground.

"W-we're not..." he starts, before swallowing.

What really was their relationship?

They weren't friends exactly, but he wouldn't label them as mere acquaintances.

Although that might've been the case before the party, Yeonjun had been too kind and caring towards him for it to be that way, unless he happened to treat everyone like that.

He turns back to Minhyuk and bites his lip.

"He's just a nice person," Soobin replies, finally.

At this, Minhyuk's expression darkens.

"Oh, so I'm trash, is that it?" he asks. Soobin startles.

That wasn't the reaction he had been expecting.

"No! It's just-" he says, but he's cut off by the elder.

"You know, I come in here all friendly and nice and the guy just acts like I'm the scum of the earth, while he treats someone like you who can't even speak, like some kind of fuckin' angel," Minhyuk scoffs, shaking his head.

Soobin flinches at the words, moving back.

He knows that he doesn't deserve the attention- was a nobody with nothing to offer, but it still stings to hear it from an actual person.

Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Taehyun tense slightly, ready to intervene, when Minhyuk calms down himself.

"Sorry, I didn't mean that. I'm just- I'm just really frustrated at the moment," he says, wringing out his hands.

Soobin bites his lip and looks down at the ground, wondering if it was his fault.

Maybe he could talk to Yeonjun for the other, and explain that he was just trying to make friends.

But before he can say anything, the other stands up, and goes back to his usual group without a word.

"Don't mind him, he's always been a hot-head," Taehyun says, patting the elder's head.

Soobin only smiles in return, but he can't seem to get the conversation out of his mind.

He wonders if the new changes to his life are good, when it came at the expense of others.

He finishes the lunch break feeling much worse than usual.

Chapter Text

He’s pissed.

He’s not usually one to lose his head- or at least not publicly, but the sequence of events from the day before still play over in his mind, blinding him with rage and embarrassment.

He kicks over a nearby trashcan.

“What?” he barks when some juniors stare at him, whispering, and they quickly run off.

Shit- he was ruining his image.

It was all that Soobin’s fault.

Why the fuck is someone like him getting all of the attention? he thinks to himself, annoyed.

He talked to the kid sometimes out of pity, but he was too quiet and a pain in the ass to make proper conversation with.

It was almost insulting that he of all people hadn’t been invited to what seemed like an exclusive party full of the school’s most popular kids, when the quiet freak had.

And judging by the way they had interacted with him, they even liked him.

What ever happened to standards in this school?

Fuck, this is so embarrassing, he thinks, running a hand through his hair.

He was supposed to be the one people admired. The good looking, rich kid that all the girls fell over their feet for.

He doesn’t know what went wrong- was he acting too desperate? Was he having a bad hair day?

No- his father had always told him that money would solve any problem, but it seemed that this time it wasn’t working.

Maybe it was something to do with Soobin himself.

Thinking back to that petrified deer-caught-in-the-headlights expression of his as he looked up at Yeonjun, Minhyuk can’t help but feel his skin prickle.

So annoyingly fake.

Shit, I’m gonna dig up his dirt. Teach him to put on an act. They’re gonna find out he’s a loser and a creep one way or another, he thinks to himself, jaw clenched, before stalking off into the courtyard.

**

Come on, Soobin, be cool.

Repeating it back to himself like a mantra, Soobin paces back and forth across the corridor, heart pounding, and palms slightly sticky from the handful of candy he holds tightly in clenched fists.

“Just hand them to him and you’ll be fine…you’re just returning the favour,” he whispers to himself nervously, as he strides, chewing his lip.

He doesn’t know why he’s over-thinking it so much.

He had initially thought it was perfect- using the excuse of returning candy to Yeonjun as a way to talk more with him.

They would talk, and laugh and Soobin would leave with a new piece of Yeonjun previously unaccessible.

But now, all he can do is try to stop his nerves from taking over, and to lessen the shaking.

Maybe it was the fact that so many things could go wrong- the possibility that Yeonjun would think he was a weirdo for preparing candy for him, when he himself had only given it to Soobin spontaneously.

Or maybe the fact that he was actually waiting for Yeonjun, instead of giving the candy to him at any convenient time.

But still, it’s too late to back down.

As he paces back and forth, thoughts overflowing, he suddenly jumps when someone taps at his shoulder.

Heart racing, he turns around quickly to see the slightly cautious grin of the boy behind him.

“Are you alright?”

Yeonjun’s head is tilted slightly to the side, his expression a mix of gentle playfulness and concern, as he watches Soobin freeze up.

“Y-Yeonjun-ssi!” he stutters, standing up straight, and the elder raises an eyebrow.

Oh.

With a cocked hip, he slowly points a finger into Soobin’s chest, before making a point of stepping into the younger’s space.

“Yeonjun-ssi? You know you can just call me hyung, right? You’d think we were close enough by now,” he teases with a pout, and Soobin’s heart skips a beat at the sight.

“Ah, I apologise, hyung,” he still says formally, to which the other laughs.

He smiles back.

“So what’re you doing here?” Yeonjun asks after a moment, and Soobin stands bolt upright again.

“Right! I have something to return to you,” he says over-enthusiastically, before holding open his palm.

To his relief, the candy pieces don’t look as melted as he had thought they were, and he makes a show of it with a dimpled smile of pride.

“Oh? You didn’t have to, Soobin-ah,” Yeonjun says, slightly perplexed, yet pleased at the same time, as he collects the candy from Soobin’s palm.

Soobin tries to ignore the way his heart flips at the sound of Yeonjun calling his name, and even more so at the brush of his fingers as he takes the candy from him.

He instead scratches at the nape of his neck.

“I know it’s a different flavour, but I thought it might give you energy too,” he says quietly, before mentally kicking himself.

It had sounded cool when Yeonjun said it, but it only sounded cheesy coming out of his mouth.

Still, the elder smiles back at him as if it’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for him, before reaching over to ruffle Soobin’s hair.

“Aish, you’re such a good kid. It would be nice if you could energise me all the time,” he says with an eye-crinkling laugh, and pops a candy into his mouth.

At the implication of an open invitation, Soobin looks over at him in surprise, before smiling shyly back.

“So energetic is your type, huh?”

At the unexpected remark, Yeonjun raises his eyebrow, then leans in with an exaggerated wink.

“I guess so, Soobin-ah. Wanna get married?” he nudges the taller, and Soobin has to hide his laugh behind his elbow.

It's surprising how easy it is to talk with the other.

Before he can say anything in response, Yuna suddenly pops up beside Yeonjun, tugging at his arm.

Soobin jumps.

“Yeonjun oppa! You said you’d come with me to the cafeteria again!”

Looking down at her, it's clear Yeonjun's surprised as well, but he gives her a small smile, before turning back to Soobin as if asking for permission.

"Oh no, go ahead," he mumbles quietly, feeling a little silly as he takes a step back, and Yuna beams.

At this, Yeonjun cocks his head slightly, perplexed.

“No, I meant you wanna come with?”

Soobin startles.

He hadn't expected the other to actively make an offer like that, and especially not to somewhere as public as the cafeteria. He almost jumps at the opportunity- would give anything to be alone with the other, but sees Yuna’s complex expression out of the corner of his eye, and backs down.

Right- he wasn’t going to steal anyone’s time.

If she was also in the race, he was going to play fairly.

Soobin stares at the elder’s other hand, full of the candy Soobin had given him, and straightens his shoulders.

With a dimpled smile, he shakes his head, patting Yuna on the shoulder.

“I’m happy to just stay behind.”

I’m happy to just watch you from where I am, he thinks.

Before Yeonjun can say anything further, he’s suddenly being dragged away by Yuna, and this time Soobin lets him.

He reaches a hand up to touch the spot which Yeonjun had last touched, and sighs.

He had delivered the candy successfully, and hopefully with a piece of his heart.

Because he knows his position- he was by no means a formidable opponent, but if he was going to be a contender for the other’s hand, he was going to do it his way- slowly and steadily, piece by piece.

“It would be nice if you could energise me all the time,” Yeonjun had said, smiling.

He tries not to feel too pleased.

From far in the corner, Minhyuk watches him closely, eyes dark.

Chapter Text

A/N:

Hi everyone, it's been a while! Sorry that this isn't an update- I just wanted to make a few comments. Truthfully, I was having a bit of trouble with this story because of a lack of confidence...it was my first ever TXT fic and it had just started out as a fun throwaway project, with not much planning and preparation prepared.

I've written quite a few fics since, so now I feel I might come back to this one if there's enough interest. Just let me know in the comments whether you'd prefer I write new fics/keeping going with the ones I have, or if you want me to pick this specific one back up. I'd be happy to hear your thoughts! (Also hope you're all staying healthy and safe.)