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Lightning In A Bottle

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The wind whistles, displacing some of the more haphazardly stuck posters on windows and walls outside. It’s a dark but cloudless night and the moon is shining brightly. There’s an almost magical quality to the air given the silence and beauty of this late time. Especially since the exact location is a convenience store. It is bound to fit some sort of Tumblr aesthetic.

However, despite the oh so desirable aesthetic of the situation, Hwang Hyunjin is fucking bored. So bored he is wholly ready to just sleep on the job and get fired if he’s caught with no cares because he is just so. Damn. Tired. And. Bored.

Night shifts at the local convenience store just really don’t do it for him. There’s rarely any customers but he can’t even just text somebody to pass the time because his friends are all asleep at this hour (02:43 to be exact). At least he’s getting paid, though even that is a bit disappointing since it’s only minimum wage. Which he is happy to go on a rant about, because it is most definitely not an adequate living wage. (Not that he wants to complain to the owner of the store since it’s only a small store and is just paying the employees the standard amount for a job like this.)

This is the life of an ex architecture student living alone for the first time in a new part of town with no full time job despite having the qualifications, huh? Oh and don’t forget he has no financial support from his parents anymore - or emotional support but let’s not go there. They removed themselves from his life without a word the moment he came out as bisexual when he was 19, and he finds it a bit sad that he’s thankful for the fact they even paid his university tuition and accommodation until now.

The money situation is exactly why he’s here right now at this ridiculous time. One of his coworkers, a slightly older man named Changbin if he recalls correctly from their few brief meetings, isn’t able to do his normal ungodly hours and Hyunjin is always ready and waiting for the opportunity to make a bit more money. Even if it is at the expense of his sleep schedule.

Despite the horrifying lack of human contact or honestly anything exciting, it is quite a nice place to work. The owner is nice; the customers are generally in too much of a rush (or just zombies at this hour) to be rude like all the horror stories on social media; his coworkers are nice, although there isn’t much of a chance for bonding when they tend to only have one person at the till and another couple working in the back or stocking shelves; it’s just a short walk away from his new apartment, and it’s an easy walk without any scary alleyways or big roads - which is very good when it comes to picking up extra shifts after dark.

Maybe Hyunjin shouldn’t whine so much internally about having nothing to do, because a customer actually walks in while he’s distracted. The jingle of the bell startles him which causes him to hit his shin against the counter. ‘Nice, Hyunjin’ he thinks to himself, cheeks turning pink in embarrassment when the stranger briefly glances at him. Most likely due to the ridiculous high pitched yelp that comes with the clumsiness.

But oh dear lord, he can’t help but think this person that just walked in is hot as hell. At first he isn’t quite certain of their gender because they’re dressed in quite a feminine way: a loose and soft looking cropped sweater that’s light blue with writing on it that Hyunjin can’t see from across the store, sweatpants, and black combat boots; it’s also made even better by a dainty choker necklace topping the outfit off. And then Hyunjin looks up at their face. Oh wow, their face. Granted he only gets to see a side profile now that the customer is no longer staring at him directly, but it must be their best side. ‘Every side is their best side probably’ Hyunjin can’t help but think.

Where was he? Right, the customer’s actual features. While the outfit is the perfect blend of cute yet reasonably simple, their actual natural looks make it way better. They’re stunning. Honey coloured hair which is artfully messy, slightly smudged eyeliner around eyes with some of the longest and prettiest eyelashes ever, a straight nose with a mole on the side that Hyunjin can just about see, and pretty pink heart-like lips pulled into a slight pout. Yes this is definitely a gay panic moment for poor Hyunjin and it’s fully justified, thank you very much.

Hyunjin finally gets a chance to read the writing on the sweater when the customer walks past reasonably close to the counter. It says ‘baby boy’ in cursive and Hyunjin barely holds in a squeal. How does this person - boy, most likely - manage to be so adorable and yet somehow have a powerful and strong way at the same time. I mean, come on, a crop top and combat boots? Iconic.

Hyunjin would like to argue that he deserves credit for not just staring at the customer forever, especially given that there isn’t exactly anything else for him to be doing right now. Obviously he’s not completely serious because he genuinely hates the idea of being a creep, but this stranger is really hot and Hyunjin is really gay (well, bi, but the internet is swiftly corrupting Hyunjin’s way of talking and even thinking) - not that it’s an excuse if he were by chance actually creepy, but he just kind of wants to observe this stranger in the most pure almost awe filled way.

Instead he tries his best to focus on the muffled sounds of the occasional nocturnal animal or car passing by outside. Maybe the night is a little tiny bit beautiful right now. Okay so fuck that Hyunjin is definitely extremely whipped for this ethereal stranger, but he wants to at least pretend he isn’t falling in love at first sight without even a single word exchanged between the two of them. Is it sad that Hyunjin is a bit excited to talk to him when he inevitably comes up to the counter to pay for whatever he’s here for? Well, that’s probably trumped by how sad Hyunjin will act if his luck is how it usually seems to be and the customer leaves without buying anything. Normally Hyunjin would offer a greeting to anyone who walks in, especially when it’s pretty much deserted and he doesn’t have much of an excuse for ignoring someone. However, at the time he was a bit busy embarrassing himself and now it’s much too late. He’ll just try and be extra friendly when the boy is paying, no big deal.

As if by magic Hyunjin’s awkward situation of trying not to stare whilst having nothing else to look at is solved. Arguably the saviour - the notification for a text from one of his friends who is miraculously awake at this time - just creates another problem since Hyunjin is very likely to be teased mercilessly the moment he describes his current predicament in any detail at all, but oh well.



CHAT BETWEEN: ‘Demon #1’ [Kim Seungmin] & ‘Victim’ [Hwang Hyunjin]

 

Demon #1 : Yo, you bored yet?

 

Victim : lol I was, but we have a rare creature in here right now. You’ll never guess what it is… A customer! At 3 in the fucking morning!

Victim : Wait,,, why are you up at this time???

 

Demon #1 : A customer? In a 24-hour convenience store? The world’s really ending, huh

 

Victim : Stop bullying me

Victim : And answer my question! Don’t you have like a job or whatever in the morning

 

Demon #1 : Unfortunately, but in the afternoon actually this time

Demon #1 : Not at the photography studio though, I have a shift at the cafe from 1-7

 

Victim : Oh right, I might stop by to bother you then, I don’t have another shift until like 5

 

Demon #1 : Nice, so who’s this rare shopping creature lurking in your store in the middle of the night?

 

Victim : Pls stop teasing me

Victim : It’s this gorgeous guy who makes me go into gay panic… He’s wearing a crop top! And a choker necklace!!! And smudged eyeliner!!!!!!!

 

Demon #1 : You really gonna ask me not to tease you and then come out with that?

 

Victim : Shut up

 

Demon #1 : lol make me

Demon #1 : But shouldn’t you be paying attention to make sure you don’t miss the man of your dreams walking over to pay for his stuff, therefore making him wait and destroying any chance you ever might have thought you had

 

Hyunjin thinks it’s quite frankly ridiculous that he’s always instantly labeled as the dramatic one of his little friendship group when the others are always like that. Though maybe they’re like that because they like to imitate him. They’re pests clearly. Lovable pests though, especially Jeongin, the evil baby who can get away with murder. Seungmin didn’t even answer why he’s awake at this hour.

However he can’t dwell on it for long as he takes the advice and puts away his phone just in time for the boy to approach the counter with his basket. Hyunjin’s a little bit curious as to what the hot stranger is buying, but is ultimately a whole lot more focussed of just ringing everything up properly. He does however allow for the “distraction” of trying to make conversation.

“Hey,” he greets with a smile as he scans in the first couple of items, “You having a nice night?”

His friendly smile is barely returned, the boy only offering up a small twitch of the lips that is almost missed. Not that Hyunjin is staring! Though he’s pretty sure it wouldn’t be noticed if he was, given that the boy doesn’t seem to be looking at him at all. Instead the gaze of the eyes that Hyunjin was admiring earlier seems to be fixed anywhere but Hyunjin.

Oh well. It’s a stranger, so maybe he’s finding Hyunjin asking about his night a bit much? Who knows, maybe the boy is having a hard time right now and the question makes him awkward or uncomfortable. Hyunjin’s really trying to give him the benefit of the doubt here, maybe more so than he usually would due to his quickly developing crush. Nevertheless Hyunjin resolves to keep up his friendly smile and tone. Not that he has to for long since there’s only a few things to scan.

“Do you want a bag for this?” Hyunjin breaks the silence again.

He gets no reply at first, so repeats himself after tapping on the counter with his nails (his boss would definitely have his head for this breach of “customer service etiquette”). There’s a slight expression of surprise on the boy’s face which Hyunjin can’t help but find cute however pissed off he is but he simply gets a sharp nod in answer.

Despite the short time this whole exchange has taken, he can just about recognise the sound of the boy tapping his foot (impatiently?) against the floor. Hyunjin shakes his head slightly to get rid of his raging thoughts and tries his best to just focus on bagging up the items. And definitely not on the fact that the height difference is really obvious standing like this on opposite sides of the counter. While the boy isn’t exactly tiny, he’s also noticeably shorter than Hyunjin (though Hyunjin really is quite tall) which is made more obvious by the dainty features and pretty outfit.

As Hyunjin is about to state the total price, the boy already has the exact amount ready. There’s a slight awkward moment as Hyunjin reaches out to take it directly into his hand, but the boy appears to be planning to put it down on the counter instead. If they were in a movie right now then this would become a key romantic moment signifying the start of their fairytale romance. However, the moment their hands meet the boy flinches harshly. The awkwardness in the air is only slightly saved by the fact that the money is all in notes so there isn’t the dramatic sound of coins rolling - something way too loud for a horrific awkward silence like this.

“Thank you, I hope you have a nice night- uh morning? Day? Yeah, uh bye,” Hyunjin attempts to save the situation. Key word being ‘attempts’. The boy just blinks slowly, head slightly tilted, before grabbing his bags and leaving. Okay then.

 


 

“You guys will never believe what happened!” Hyunjin throws himself into a seat opposite his two best friends, reasonably near the counter since Seungmin must be on break (officially or not, who knows?)

“It’s been what, a month since you started working in a customer service related job? Nice to know you’ve finally had that moment.” It’s almost worrying how delighted Seungmin sounds at the idea of Hyunjin suffering. Only almost because he’s used to it by this point.

“Haha, very funny. It sucked ass,” Hyunjin complains, as while he’s used to Seungmin’s ominous and threatening ways at times, he is still very much offended.

“Weren’t you literally screeching to me through text about some hot guy? What went wrong?” This. This is what shows up when you look up the definition of testing someone. Hyunjin is caught between blushing and getting all flustered at the teasing, or getting pissed off at Seungmin for not just mercilessly teasing him but doing it in front of others (such as Jeongin) who can and will join in.

“Hot guy? What’s this? Oh my god,” Jeongin joins in.

“Please shut up…” Hyunjin groans, sprawling out across the table with his head resting on his arms. The other two cackle at his suffering. Because they’re evil and mean human beings.

“Three guesses what happened,” Seungmin directs this at Jeongin. Really, why does Hyunjin do this to himself? He needs new friends.

“Bet he embarrassed himself-” Jeongin is quick to answer.

“I hate you both!”

“Love you too, Hyunjinnie,” Seungmin coos at him, delightedly clapping his hands at the same time.

“Seungmin stop being a brat. Poor Hyunjin is clearly having a crisis,” Woojin, who is Seungmin’s brother and older than them by about three years, steps in much to Hyunjin’s relief. He’s still behind the counter, but it’s quiet right now in the cafe.

“Woojin, I love you!” He can’t help but be dramatic in this sort of situation.

“Oh I want to know the gossip and I support Innie’s guess, but I’m trying this thing called being a nice person,” Woojin says. So much for that. Though at least it’s also a shot being fired at the other two for being rude.

“Excuse me, police? Yeah there was a violent murder of three people while I was just trying to get a fucking coffee,” Hyunjin complains.

“So what actually happened then?” Jeongin asks.

“Okay so-” Finally, Hyunjin attempts to start his story off properly, but is promptly interrupted.

“Here we go,” Jeongin would be that interruption unsurprisingly.

“Get ready for drama,” Seungmin acts as if he’s dramatically narrating Hyunjin’s life, much to the amusement of Jeongin (and even Woojin is trying, and failing, not to laugh). Hyunjin is not amused.

“Let me tell my fucking story!” He all but screeches, before realising they’re in public and ducking his head down. He bows to the few other people present, embarrassed, though luckily for him they seem to find it more funny than anything.

“Is it about hot guy?” Seungmin questions him. Both him and Jeongin are now leaning identically on one hand and staring intently at Hyunjin. It’s unwanted.

“What- stop calling him that oh my god, why are you like this? Okay yes, it’s about ‘hot guy’ because I don’t know his name,” Hyunjin splutters, flustered from all the interrogation and abuse he is being subjected to.

“If it’s about the guy then it’s valid, but you know what’s not valid?” Seungmin questions. Hyunjin doesn’t know how exactly this can go wrong, but he knows it can and will.

“Hyunjin for not finding out the guy’s name.” So that’s how. Through letting Jeongin answer Seungmin’s questions. The innocent smile on the younger boy’s face is such a goddamn lie.

“Exactly!” They high-five. Hyunjin wishes the window he’s next to was on a higher floor so it would be of more use to him right now.

“Okay, continue. We’re done now,” Seungmin promises. (Though how much you can hold him to that is debatable.)

“Fucking finally, thank you. Anyways so there was this hot guy wearing a cropped sweater and a choker necklace and eyeliner and I was lowkey instantly whipped for him I’ll admit-” Hyunjin attempts to start the story again.

“How is this a shitty customer service story?” So yeah they are not done and cannot be held to their word.

“I thought you said you were done!” Is there a place he can get new friends easily? A friend replacement service, maybe? There should be one of those.

“We were. At the time,” Seungmin explains, “But now you’re being ridiculous again and as your trustworthy, helpful and supportive friends we need to call you out.”

“If you actually shut up, you would see that I am getting there-”

“Get there faster then!” Jeongin complains.

“I can and will strangle you!”

“For the love of fuck, no murder in the cafe!” Woojin quickly breaks up their argument/soon to be screaming match.

There is a chorus of “sorry, Woojin” from all three of them, heads bowing slightly. Woojin smiles slightly threateningly at them before they continue their conversation at a quieter and calmer tone.

“Wait so if I, your darling little brother, and Innie, the baby, were to be murdered outside your place of work… You would be fine with it?” Seungmin questions Woojin.

“Absolutely. Peace and quiet at last!” The two youngest gasp in shock. Hyunjin can’t help but think they look exactly like the Pikachu meme right now.

“So what happened with hot guy?” Jeongin sets them back on track.

“He basically ignored me completely when I tried to make conversation, looked everywhere but at me, flinched when our hands touched exchanging the money - and no, not in a romantic way. More of a uncomfortable way,” Hyunjin eventually manages to tell them, sighing as he gets to the end of his story.

“Is that all?” Seungmin asks incredulously.

“I really get no sympathy, huh?”

“Pretty much, yeah!” Both of them say, perfectly synchronised. Must be a demon thing.

 


 

At the weekend Hyunjin drops by the dance studio. He went for a couple of lessons already, but the main instructor offered for him to just come and practice with the other more serious dancers (who are mostly choreographers and instructors working for the studio). He’s honored and also definitely appreciating the fact he only has to pay for things like studio rent costs instead of full lesson prices.

“Hi, Hyunjin isn’t it?” A practical ray of sunshine with fluffy dyed orange hair and freckles greets him, also known as Felix. The voice is surprisingly deep compared to its owner’s adorable appearance, and a bit slurred but Hyunjin obviously doesn’t comment on it.

“Hey, yeah, nice to meet you. I look forward to dancing together!” Hyunjin bows politely as he says the last part.

“Not to be really awkward but er, would you mind repeating that last bit? While like facing me if possible,” Felix requests.

“Oh um yeah, no problem. I just said ‘I look forward to dancing together,’” Hyunjin repeats.

“Thanks, yeah sorry I kinda need to lipread to have any idea what you’re saying. Otherwise I’m a bit lost,” he explains, before leaning in a bit to stage whisper: “I also can’t hear music, my whole life is a lie please keep this precious secret…”

The front desk person looks like they might once have been amused by this, but have heard it so many times they’re just a bit done. Hyunjin however can’t help but break into loud laughter that dispels any awkwardness between them. It also explains the obvious difference in the dancer’s voice and the heavy bass music used in the classes he was in before. It does not however explain why when he looks down, the dancer is barefoot.

“Wha- ah shit, I’m walking around without shoes again aren’t I? I was making some choreo that was kinda like contemporary and ended up barefoot… I’m a mess okay,” Felix whines.

“Honestly same.” Hyunjin can’t help but say.

“Oh you are gonna fit right in with me and my friends, sweetie.” It somehow sounds welcoming yet ominous. Oh no, when Hyunjin wished for new friends he just got part 2 of his current ones, didn’t he?

“Is that a threat?”

“Oh, definitely,” Felix replies without missing a beat, “My boyfriend and his bestie are the most chaotic gays ever! Minho actually dances here so you’ll definitely meet him one way or another.”

“Is he the boyfriend or…?” Hyunjin clarifies.

“Oh no, ew, he would be my boyfriend Jisung’s best friend. Okay, maybe ew is a bit far but he’s not my type. You might like him though, that is if you’re into boys? Objectively he’s pretty damn hot and a brilliant dancer. Also a sweetheart like 90 percent of the time, though he can also be ready to fight.” Sounds like a cool person alright.

“Pretty much the opposite of my friends who are mostly evil but do something half decent like twice a year. And yeah, I like boys - well both, I’m bi,” Hyunjin replies.

“Oh I am so introducing you to Min. You will love him! He’s like next level pretty, even wears crop tops and fucking rocks them. And yeah like I said he has a personality or whatever, okay okay I’m joking he’s genuinely a great guy. He’s actually the main person who got me confident in my speaking voice despite it being well, y’know…” Felix adds onto the description of his friend, and possible future ship, though he ends it on a slightly more serious tone.

The mood soon lightens up again when they reach the actual dance studio. Though Hyunjin can’t help but wonder if there’s any chance this guy could be the same boy from the store? That would be way way waaaay too much of a coincidence, though knowing Hyunjin’s weird luck it’ll happen.

Chapter Text

Never again. ” Minho wastes no time in letting his annoyance and general displeasure be known, immediately starting to complain in sign language the moment he walks into the main open area of his apartment.

He is, of course, referring to the horrific time he had at the convenience store a few days before. Since that time he hasn’t been able to complain about it since Felix and Jisung were already asleep when he got back and he hasn’t hung out with them since.

Minho- ” Felix tries to sign something, most likely disagreeing with Minho.

Nope. It was awful and unnecessary, and you are wholly to blame for making me do this, ” Minho complains, interrupting and shutting down Felix before he can make his point.

Some people may get the idea that he’s an overly dramatic individual. However in actual fact it’s a combination of what might be ‘little’ to a neurotypical person instead being a massive detail to his autistic brain, and having a bit of a meme-like way of speaking/signing at times due to spending a lot of time online.

What else was I supposed to do? Sung can’t walk right now and Chan was still in the studio, ” Felix argues.

You could have gone yourself! ” Minho points out, causing a look of shock and realisation to appear on Felix’s face, “ Oh my god, Felix you absolute idiot!

Okay, no, see here’s the reason that I am definitely not making up as I go for why you are wrong, ” he signs back very convincingly not, “ It would require leaving you two alone.

We’re responsible! We only started like three fires, and if it happens again I can call emergency services, ” Minho attempts to justify both himself and Jisung. Though the whole ‘three fires’ thing doesn’t really help. Like at all. Maybe he should leave that out next time.

“‘ Emergency services’ in general… Do you even know which one you should call specifically for a fire? ” At this point Felix is genuinely wondering if either Minho or Jisung know the answer to this.

No, ” So he actually doesn’t know the answer, “ But they all operate under the same number so it’s fine.

Three fires, yet you don’t know? ” The expression of disbelief is priceless.

Chan had to call- ” Minho admits.

Exactly! ” Felix interrupts.

Listen-

Not very possible to do that, sorry,

Why are you like this? As I was signing, I know how to call an ambulance. Granted I will most likely fuck it up, but in theory yes I understand the concept . ” Minho puts emphasis on the word ‘signing’ where he would normally somewhat incorrectly put ‘saying’ just so there’s no more bad jokes.

Reassuring. ” If the disbelieving expression of a few moments ago is already brilliant, the look currently gracing Felix’s face is all new levels - he looks deeply concerned for his friend’s wellbeing, though close to just being too done to bother.

I try my best! ” Minho forcefully grins and tries to wink. Badly.

Please never do that again.

Yeah, let’s just forget that. It genuinely hurt my face.

You guys got so off track, ” Jisung joins the conversation.

Jesus fuck! Why in the everloving fuck would you just suddenly jump in to our conversation like that? ” Minho lets out an ungodly screech in surprise.

Your reaction was so worth, ” Jisung signs in reply, cackling.

You come into my apartment, steal my food, watch my TV, cuddle my cat while underneath my blankets… ” Minho begins to rant, causing Felix to laugh.

Eh, used to live here it’s all good, ” Jisung justifies.

But you don’t anymore. You move out with your sunshine of a boyfriend, you pay the price Han Jisung! ” Minho exclaims.

Did you really sign my whole name to make a point?

Kinda almost misspelled it-

You have literally known me my whole life! ” Jisung protests.

It happens, bitch!

Can you just maybe say all this out loud so I can’t hear, and therefore be less disappointed in you two? ” Felix pleads.

No!

Absolutely not, ” Jisung signs at the same time, both him and Minho giggling.

Alright. Didn’t have high hopes anyway, but I thought we had gotten to that desperate point where it’s worth a try. ” Felix puts his head in his hands briefly, before raising his eyes again to follow along with what the others are signing albeit reluctantly.

A valiant effort… If we were to, you know, care. ” Boyfriend of the year award is most definitely going to Han Jisung.

Wait I was complaining, let me complain more! ” Minho remembers.

Oh yeah, sorry Min. No really, I’m genuinely sorry I made you do that despite my reasoning and next time we will all drag ourselves down to the store and suffer together, ” Felix apologises, dragging Minho down onto the messy blanket fort that him and Jisung are sprawled across and giving him a side hug.

Thanks Lix, I love you guys…

Enough to push my wheelchair? ” Jisung questions.

With these wrists, literally no chance unless I have to. Ah that sounds harsh you know what I mean- ” Minho shakes his head roughly in slight distress, shaking his right hand out in an anxious manner in front of his eyes.

Don’t worry about it, no offense but your wrists are a bit fucked, ” Jisung tries to lighten up the mood, which luckily works judging by the slight curl of Minho’s lips.

“Yep!” Minho chirps out loud.

Because, really, they are. Not in a mean way though, they actually all find it kind of cute how Minho’s wrists angle themselves a bit differently. He tends to let them flop down extremely but held up high, normally around chest to collarbone height; basically, imagine an adorable raptor, which is where the common name for it in the autistic community (raptor hands) comes from.

So did anything happen that made the store bad, or was it just generally draining? ” Jisung questions.

Well it took energy to go there and get the stuff and approach the person at the counter. But then just ahhhhhhhh sorry needed to shriek... Anyways, communication was just so hard. ” Minho can’t help but break up his words with little distressed noises and hand movements while recounting the stressful situation, “ Like it was literally three in the morning and the worker was all smiley and chatty.

Weird. Normally I love going late at night just because the people are dead on their feet and won’t try and start conversations I can’t follow, ” Felix comments.

Wait… I thought Binnie was supposed to be working? ” Jisung tilts his head to the side as he thinks well, not aloud, but through his signing.

I guess he switched shifts or something. Haven’t seen this other guy around town before, he’s kind of cute though, ” Minho answers.

Oh, worm? ” Felix grins suspiciously.

Really?

Apologies, continue.

He was quite pretty and tall. Had quite a nice voice too. Seemed a bit miffed by my behaviour though so yeah no chance with pretty boy, plus I’m highly embarrassed! ” He brings his knees up to his chest and rocks slightly, drumming his fingers on the soft blankets and pillows beneath him until Felix gently picks up Minho’s hands and lets him fidget like that instead.

I will fucking fight him, I swear down. Min, you know you’re extremely gorgeous and amazing and fantastic, and the way you act is as well. Absolutely nothing you do that shows that you’re autistic should ever be classed as embarrassing or annoying, ” Jisung rants, before drawing Minho into as tight a hug as he can, the older boy nuzzling into his shoulder affectionately.

Minho murmurs a thank you into Jisung’s collarbone, the sound muffled by the fabric of Jisung’s hoodie. He curls his hands tightly into fists in between the two of them, his wrists at their usual odd angle. A few tears make an appearance but Jisung quickly swipes them away and presses a few small kisses to Minho’s cheeks. Felix takes one of Minho’s hands again after he had initially let go to allow for Jisung’s cuddles, and swings their hands back and forth slowly.

After a couple of minutes Minho’s cat, Dori, softly pads in and joins them. The little tabby kitten drapes herself over Minho and he gives her a tiny little boop on the nose. She jumps slightly causing Jisung to giggle.

You coming to the dance studio tomorrow? ” Felix asks them.

Yeah, I don’t have anything else to do as far as I know. What about you, Min? ” Jisung replies first.

I guess. Can we have easy to listen to music though? I’m a bit eh right now so I don’t know if I can handle stuff, ” Minho checks.

Sure, wanna do some contemporary or something else barefoot so I can feel the music easier but have it on low? ” Felix comes up with the suggestion

Sounds perfect, thank you! ” Minho agrees to it enthusiastically.

No problem. It’ll be fun anyway, ” Felix reassures him.

Yeah. I haven’t seen you guys do softer dances for a while so I will totally drag myself over on crutches to watch this, ” Jisung adds.

Listen up bitch, I will throw you into a wheelchair if you need it! ” The threat is not an uncommon one in the frequent mild arguments of the couple.

Chill, this little episode is fading away now so I’ll be good to go around slowly on crutches. ” Felix looks at Jisung distrustfully as he signs, “ Babe, I promise it’s fine.

Okay, but I’m watching you. ” The distrustful look is still present, but Felix’s face has softened considerably. Minho just giggles and coos at them.

 


 

Minho is busy setting up the sound system which is completely off since they’re the first ones in the dance studio this morning, when Felix runs up and pokes him. Naturally the action causes an undignified screech which has Jisung in hysterics. Jisung must have seen what was going to happen from where he’s sitting on the couch at the other end of the room - and yet, he just lets Minho get startled.

Hey, is it cool if Hyunjin joins us? ” Felix asks him.

Who? ” Minho doesn’t remember that name, but he’s never good with names anyway.

New dancer here, we’ve danced together a few times already outside of class but you were at work I think, ” Felix explains.

Sure, he has to put up with our plans though.

He’ll live with it. He seems too sweet and shy to really put up a fight on that anyway. Can’t promise he has any clue about contemporary or lyrical dancing though since we never really went anywhere near it, ” he warns Minho.

He’s a decent dancer in general though, right? ” Minho questions, getting a nod in response, “ Well then it shouldn’t be too hard for him to keep up with. We’re only messing around anyway.

True true. Okay, I just texted him. He’ll be here in like five or ten minutes, ” Felix announces.

Cool, speakers should be ready to play ridiculous girl group music for warming up to by then, ” Minho signs, fiddling around with a few settings.

Perfect! ” Felix does a little happy dance which is quickly copied by Minho and Jisung.

Make sure to play Likey! ” Jisung reminds them.

Of course, how could I forget a bop like that? ” Minho acts jokingly offended.

Just making sure, ” Jisung manages to somehow sound almost defensive with the way he moves his hands for each sign, causing the other two to find the short exchange way funnier than it is.

It doesn’t take long at all for Minho to get everything fully set up, after years of working at the studio and even more of just being a student there. He dutifully puts their playlist of fun warm up songs - mostly Twice and Red Velvet - on shuffle, and starts to stretch. Jisung gives him a thumbs up and a wide grin.

Minho takes care to actually stretch properly and not get too distracted by the bubblegum pop songs blaring out the speakers. He leans down and basically folds himself in two with his arms wrapped around the back of his knees, which causes the crop top he’s wearing to ride up even more than its original height. Jisung lets out a wolf whistle and several other inappropriate noises.

Felix, help. Your boyfriend is harassing me! ” Minho runs up to Felix to sign.

So? ” is the relaxed reply

I see how it is, ” Minho huffs, pouting.

Okay, okay. Ji stop it!

“Sorry babe, sorry Min!” Jisung calls out an apology while laughing, making sure to sign along as well since his giggles are distorting the words and making them harder to lipread.

Minho and Felix both go back to stretching in comfortable silence other than the music. Jisung keeps his comments to himself, mostly, even when Minho goes into the splits or any other extremely flexible movement. Then Likey starts to play and they all get hyped - distraction is a major understatement to describe what this song is to them.

Han Jisung sit your ass right back down or so help me God, ” Felix threatens when his boyfriend begins to get up to dance.

Ugh okay, I’ll just dance while sitting then. ” Jisung pouts dramatically and crosses his arms with a huff the moment he finishes signing.

He lightens up within moments though as the song gets to the chorus and Minho goes over to dance beside him. Felix laughs while filming the two of them on his phone. Neither of them mind since they often post both funny and serious dance videos anyway. Along with that they also make videos about their individual disabilities, and all of this is uploaded to their shared YouTube channel ‘Lixie, Minnie and Sungie’. It’s not exactly famous, but they have a decent following and it’s a lot of fun.

 


 

Halfway through Bad Boy by Red Velvet, someone timidly opens the door. Minho is mid slutdrop but can’t bring himself to have any shame, much to the amusement of his two friends. The new person does not seem to hold this sentiment however, looking rather flustered with an obvious blush painting his cheeks.

“Uh, hello…” he greets them, stepping into the room gingerly.

And oh no. Minho recognises that voice. It’s pretty boy from the convenience store. Can he please flee the country and find a dark cave to live in, only occasionally surfacing to wish his family things such as happy birthday and merry Christmas?

“Hey, Hyunjin. Nice to see you,” Felix fortunately replies quite quickly, “These are the idiots I hang out with, who even knows why… The cutie sitting down is my boyfriend Jisung, and the one slutdropping to girl group songs is Minho. He has no shame.”

“I noticed- oh fuck I don’t mean it like that. Uh, yeah I’m just gonna stop,” Hyunjin trails off.

“Yeah, sounds good.” Jisung doesn’t hesitate to get riled up over it, slightly glaring. Minho nudges him on the shoulder in warning.

“It’s fine,” Minho forces out - not because he’s angry, but because speaking is hard and sucks and he’s trying his best to find ‘easy’ words but there’s not a lot of options. Though he’d like to applaud himself for being pretty much understandable with just the a tiny bit of it sounding very hissy. Unfortunately this does mean he sounds way more pissed off than he is, nevermind whether he managed to get the tone right or not.

“Really?” Hyunjin asks doubtfully. Minho just hums in response trying for a small smile that he really, really hopes doesn’t look like a grimace.

“Anyways,” Felix draws the ‘a’ out because he delights in others’ misfortune and embarrassment, “Wanna get back to stretching and then we can do some proper dancing?”

“Sure, is there somewhere I can toss my bag and jacket?” Hyunjin asks. He does at least seem to be trying to make it easy to lipread what he’s saying, most likely for Felix’s benefit.

“Over here by Ji. Don’t worry, he doesn’t bite,” Minho tries to reassure him while gesturing to the spare seating area beside him and Jisung. He can tell Hyunjin is slightly confused by his voice and the slightly off tone and slurring, but Minho tries his best to ignore it for his own sanity.

Jisung on the other hand is not as gentle about these things. He literally lunges at Hyunjin with his teeth as if to bite him - it only looks half joking, alarmingly - and makes the poor boy jump away and squeal in shock. Jisung cackles while Minho and Felix both try their best not to laugh so they don’t encourage his behaviour.

“Sungie, love, please chill,” Felix pleads with him. He gives Jisung a little kiss after putting down Hyunjin’s things for him.

“Alright, fine.” The pout is back. Minho gives Jisung’s shoulder a small squeeze before getting up to join the other two who are starting to stretch again.

They quickly stretch without any more conversation. It’s pretty tense and awkward still at first, but gradually the atmosphere becomes more breathable as they bond in their own little creative dancer way. Minho knows Jisung will probably still be seething hours later if there isn’t any more obvious progress but they’ll deal with that when they have to. He can’t say he blames his friend as he’s the same when their roles are reversed in other similar situations, but he wants to at least be nice for Felix’s sake.

Hyunjin, or ‘pretty boy’ as Minho’s taken to calling him between their first meeting and today due to not knowing his name, doesn’t seem too bad anyway; a bit - no, a lot - clueless, sure. But he’s probably just never had anyone properly teach him how to act around anyone disabled, especially a disability like autism which works a bit differently. Fingers crossed, if they end up hanging out more he’ll catch onto things.

“So me and Min were thinking we could do some kinda chill dancing today. Like contemporary or lyrical?” Felix proposes the idea to Hyunjin once they finally finish their stretches.

“Okay. I don’t have any proper experience with it, really just when I’ve done dances with mixed or no genre and that’s it. But I do like it!” Hyunjin seems happy enough with the plan, which makes Minho genuinely happy too (even if it’s mostly because he gets to do what he wants because of this).

Felix goes and puts on the playlist him and Minho have for this style of dance. They made it (as well as a whole lot of others) ages ago so they don’t have to search up loads of songs. The first song that comes up is I Like Me Better by Lauv and Minho doesn’t hesitate to start moving along to the beat in a relaxed sort of freestyle dance. While he started off his dancing career in more street and modern focused styles of dance, he ended up learning a bit of everything as part of starting to be a teacher at the studio and now really enjoys chilling out with a softer style of dancing.

They all just dance along to the music with minimal conversation. Sometimes they’ll involve one or both of the others in a little mini routine they think up on the spot. Hyunjin seems to be a bit wary of Minho, but he can’t lie and say the feeling isn’t mutual. It’s understandable though given their little past together and just not knowing each other in general. Plus Jisung scaring him off as well.

Suddenly a slightly less… appropriate song starts to play. Jisung almost falls from where he’s seated watching them because he’s laughing so much. Felix and Minho are just now remembering that oh yeah, they added some ridiculous stuff to some of the playlists as a joke when bored. The reactions and memories are pretty much the only ways Felix recognises the exact song since he can’t hear the lyrics.

Minho doesn’t waste much time standing around though, starting to give his all into sexy dancing. He doesn’t even mess around with it, dancing seriously as opposed to doing ridiculous slutdrops like earlier. As he’s doing a particularly inappropriate move on the floor he sees Hyunjin staring, cheeks more red than any other time Minho has seen him blush before.

“Like what you see?” Minho asks, smirking. He has to put a lot of effort into a couple of harder to pronounce letters and his speech problems are still definitely noticeable but it doesn’t sound too bad since he’s also panting a bit from all the dancing.

“Oh so when I wolf whistle at your ass, you run to Felix to stop me ‘harassing’ you… But you flirt with Hyunjin when he stares at you?” Jisung whines, signing along for Minho and Felix’s benefit (as he usually does when speaking).

Ji, you’re taken and like a little brother to me. Let’s not go there, ” Minho signs back. Hyunjin looks a bit puzzled.

“Basically Min told him to not go there because he’s know him since he was in diapers,” translates Felix. There’s a little ‘oh’ of understanding from Hyunjin.

After that they continue dancing for another hour but take it a bit more seriously. They even film a couple of things that Minho looks forward to editing later when he gets a chance. Once they’re all tired and sweaty, Felix suggests going to the cafe all together after quickly showering and changing. Jisung requires a bit of a kick to the shin to reluctantly agree as politely as he can manage and Minho and Hyunjin agree immediately after, though Hyunjin still looks a bit frightened of the tiny little terror that is Han Jisung.

“Oh I forgot spare clothes,” Hyunjin realises.

“Min normally has plenty of spare stuff, right?” Felix questions, turning his head to Minho. He gets a nod and hum in response as Minho digs through his bag for them.

Minho tosses a black cropped sweater with red hearts down the sleeves and matching sweatpants at Hyunjin. Although Hyunjin seems a bit shocked by the choice of clothes, he appears too polite to decline them and goes to change as well when the others leave.

Chapter Text

Hyunjin stares down at the clothes in front of him. He doesn’t have to have the sweater on yet to know that it’s a crop top, though it doesn’t seem to be extremely short. Maybe in case Hyunjin is insecure? He can’t say he really is but the thought is appreciated, if it was even there. Minho clearly has some thoughts about the outfit though since Hyunjin caught him high-fiving Jisung with matching smirks on both their faces before he left the room. This is karma for speaking without thinking, huh?

Well, as long as Jisung doesn’t try and bite him again… He knows it’s silly, especially given how absolutely tiny he is compared to Hyunjin, but he can’t help but be a bit scared. Even leaving out the obvious threats to his physical safety he’s really desperate to get along with Jisung and Minho. At the very least he doesn’t want Felix to decide they can’t be friends because of the tension with the others. Hyunjin only has a handful of friends here and they’re often busy, as well as not sharing many interests with him. But then Felix comes along and is a great dancer with a sweet personality, as is Minho. Plus they won’t judge Hyunjin for being bi; at least he’s pretty sure they won’t, given Felix and Jisung are dating. And while he doesn’t know about Minho, he’s pretty sure the other is into boys since Felix seemed intent on setting Hyunjin up with him before.

After fully drying off after his quick shower - he’s really trying to hurry so he doesn’t offend anyone by taking forever - he throws on the clothes. Hyunjin actually finds he doesn’t mind them too much, despite straying from his usual go-to style. Honestly, if the way they make him feel so… pretty is how Minho feels whenever he wears something like this, then Hyunjin can definitely understand why he dresses like this so much.

“You look good!” Surprisingly, Minho compliments him as soon as he steps back into the room. Not that Hyunjin minds: a pretty boy? Saying Hyunjin looks good? Perfect.

Hyunjin really hopes it isn’t meant to be sarcastic. He seriously cannot read Minho, ever. One moment he seems cold, the next hyper, and most of the time cute whether he’s being frustrating or not. And that’s not even including the flirting… Which really makes Hyunjin blush. He lifts his hands to his own cheeks and blushes even more when he realises how flustered he already looks, before running a hand through his hair embarrassedly. Minho giggles and smiles in what Hyunjin is assuming is a reassuring way.

“Alright, lads! You ready to go?” Felix arrives in the room last, clapping his hands dramatically to announce his presence. (Jisung has also been there the whole time, not quite glaring but looking at Hyunjin ominously enough for him to shiver, and Minho to nudge Jisung disapprovingly.)

There’s a chorus of ‘yeah’s and nods from all of them and they quickly get all their stuff together before leaving. Hyunjin notices Felix taking Jisung’s bag as well, but doesn’t question it once he realises Jisung is on crutches for whatever reason. If Hyunjin were more familiar with them, then he might offer to help. However, as he mentioned before, he is a little wary for now.




The walk to the cafe is very quiet, but not uncomfortably so. While it’s still a bit chilly outside with a light breeze, the sun is shining and making everything just a bit more pleasant. Hyunjin can’t help but smile at Minho skipping ahead slightly and basking in the sunlight while waiting for the others to catch up. Generally Hyunjin is just feeling very soft for this adorable person right now, especially when Minho stops and leans down to pet a cat who also seems to be enjoying the nice weather.

In almost no time at all they appear to be arriving at their destination. Hyunjin easily recognises it as the cafe that Woojin and Seungmin work in part time to make a bit of money on top of their main jobs/internships. Oh, he is never going to hear the end of this if they find out. One glance at the counter shows that Hyunjin has no luck in life and fate hates him: both of them are working. They’re also grinning at him in a way that he is not enjoying.

“Oh this is fucking brilliant!” Seungmin cackles. Hyunjin just glares.

“Seungmin, language. Please,” Woojin sighs.

“Wooj, just look at them. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had to listen to Min and Jinnie complaining about each other to me, so seeing them together is literally making my day.” Clearly Hyunjin really needs to get some new friends.

“Oh my god,” Felix joins in on the laughter, apparently understanding the situation. Hyunjin risks a glance at Minho, who seems a bit embarrassed but also amused, and Jisung who doesn’t seem to realise what’s going on yet. Which is good. Because Hyunjin likes being alive.

Though that probably won’t be for long as Jisung is signing something to Minho with his eyebrows raised in question. Minho looks at Hyunjin briefly before signing something in reply. Felix pats Hyunjin on the shoulder sympathetically, almost as if this is Hyunjin’s last day on Earth - which it really might be, given the situation. He just hopes Minho’s eye roll and gentle shove aimed at Jisung’s shoulder have something to do with trying to tell him to back off.

Before it can get too awkward, Minho steps up to sign something to Woojin. Presumably an order. Wait, Woojin knows sign language? How is Hyunjin only finding these things out now… Wow.

“Hyunjin, what about you?” Seungmin asks him, snapping him out of his half daze.

“Oh um… I’ll just have an americano, thanks,” he answers.

“Can someone grab mine for me? I’m gonna sit down,” Jisung calls out.

Hyunjin is lucky enough to be the first back to the table since the others’ orders are really complicated and extra (he can see that Felix has a really, really sweet tooth based off of the large amount of marshmallows and cream and sprinkles he asks for on top of his hot chocolate). The silence here is most definitely awkward. So awkward Hyunjin really cannot stand it. What’s the worst that can happen if he tries to break it?

“So uh, how come you’re on crutches?” He kind of wants to hit himself for only coming up with that.

“Oh I developed multiple chronic illnesses as a teenager that make me collapse and be really weak and have random pain, you know the usual,” Jisung replies, voice sharp as a knife. Add this to the list of Hyunjin’s regrets in life.

“So should I make that coffee and hot chocolate to go?” Seungmin questions. Out of the corner of his eye Hyunjin can see Woojin giving his younger brother a light smack.

“Yup!” Jisung chirps, pushing himself up and grabbing his crutches. It’s somehow worse than him storming out angrily.

“Sorry-” Hyunjin tries to apologise, but Felix cuts him off.

“Don’t worry, we were due some alone time anyway. Haven’t had a date in a while so I’ll take him out somewhere once he calms down,” he reassures, “You and Minho just chill here and we can sort this out another time.”




Hyunjin still feels incredibly guilty, sitting there until Minho strolls over with his own coffee. The dancer graces him with an awkward smile as he settles down in the seat opposite. After putting his drink down he immediately starts digging around in his bag for something, before making a little ‘aha’ noise as he pulls out his phone. Hyunjin raises an eyebrow and gets what is probably the sign for ‘wait’ in response.

“So you get to deal with the annoying text to speech thing now!” Minho grins as the phone reads out his words.

“It’s not that bad.” Hyunjin at least attempts to be nice and supportive.

“That’s a lie and you know it.” Minho laughs. And holy- his laugh is adorable.

“It’s a bit robotic, but whatever helps you?” He definitely sounds uncertain but Minho doesn’t seem to take offense at this.

“True. I just don’t feel like you understand my speaking voice very well-”

“It’s not that bad! Really! If you want to speak then do, I’ll just focus more. I’m really fine with it, I promise. I mean I’m fine with Felix’s voice…” Hyunjin hurriedly tries to tell him, hands waving all over the place which seems to amuse the other.

“Wow, just let me speak… Or type? I was going to say, I can’t speak right now anyway. At least for a little bit. Drama really makes my voice be like ‘nope’,” Minho continues what he was trying to say before, “Oh my god. Stop looking like a kicked puppy! That wasn’t an aimed comment, really.”

“Are you sure?” Hyunjin questions in a small voice.

“Really sure. I get that you didn’t really… understand what was going on. While you maybe shouldn’t have questioned it, you didn’t mean any harm. Plus he also needs to stop being all protective over me,” Minho explains.

“I just- I don’t really know about this stuff. I never know what to say or do when it comes to it… And it’s kinda hard to judge what’s okay because Jisung seems to hate me and be angry whatever happens, and I really can’t read you…” Hyunjin trails off.

“Pretty much what I assumed. Ji is just a bit more touchy about certain things, especially given his protective best friend thing with me. But I can tell you I haven’t been really offended by most things you said directed at me: Like I said, I get that you’re a bit confused and don’t try to hurt me so…” Minho gives him a bright smile, “I mean I could explain a few things?”

“Yeah, whatever you feel comfortable with I guess. Thank you,” Hyunjin tries his best to be polite. Minho rolls his eyes slightly at the careful tone, but it seems more joking than mocking.

“Well… Felix is deaf, as he probably told you. He had severe hearing loss since birth and he’s been almost completely deaf since I became friends with him in uni. I don’t know how much Ji is fine with me sharing, but he has a few chronic illnesses that suddenly appeared when he was 15. Some of them are more constant and some cause episodes that make him need crutches or a wheelchair.”

“Ohhhh right. So, uh, what about you?” Hyunjin really wants to smack his head against something because of the awkwardness from that question.

“Ah, really, please stop looking like a kicked puppy. I’m probably the most chill about these questions honestly. Anyways, I’m autistic and have auditory processing disorder and social anxiety,” Minho does finger guns at the end, which makes Hyunjin laugh.

“Ah, that explains the uh, thing, in the store!” He just knows the look on his face must be really something, “I kinda assumed you were being rude or something… Sorry.”

“Yeah, no, don’t stress. I work in a bookstore so I totally get how customer service can be really shitty. Normally I would bring my phone to type things when I’m completely nonverbal like that, but it broke and I didn’t have this new one yet,” Minho gestures to the new phone he’s typing on.

Hyunjin still feels awful, but he’s so grateful for Minho’s laid back ways and willingness to explain and educate him on things. It makes him want to try really hard to be able to properly support all three of them and become close to these new… Friends? He’d like to consider Felix a friend already, and hopefully Minho after this chat - ‘especially Minho because he’s very hot’ his brain supplies unhelpfully. He really has to find the right time to apologise and make things right with Jisung, but the reassurances from the others as well as them clearly not being angry at him gives Hyunjin at least a bit of hope that it’ll all work out.

Hyunjin is brought out of his thoughts again by Minho pouting at his phone while drumming his fingers along the table in an annoyed way. He looks at Minho questioningly, and the pout stays there. Because apparently Minho has no sympathy for Hyunjin being bi and panicked.

“Phone’s out of charge,” he whines.

“I told you I’m fine with you speaking,” Hyunjin points out, trying to make his voice a bit clearer and slower.

“Uh uh, no baby voice!” Minho swiftly tells him off.

“S-sorry…” Hyunjin murmurs. He receives a slightly ominous smirk; Minho just knows he’s got Hyunjin wrapped around his little finger already, huh?

“It’s fine, just don’t like uh mutter long sentences,” Minho advises him, giving him a thumbs up as well.

“Will do!” Hyunjin stores the information in the back of his head, hoping he can remember and get used to doing it, “So you said you work in a bookstore?”

“Yeah, the uh one by the park?”

“Kind of? I’m new to the area but I think I’ve passed it a couple of times,” Hyunjin tilts his head in thought.

“Hmm, I work there part time. Also teach dance a bit but mostly kids classes,” Minho adds.

Hyunjin notices there’s a slur in Minho’s speech - it’s a bit hard not to notice - as well as slight stutters and mispronunciation on some words. It’s pretty much understandable though with a bit of concentration. While he’s wary of calling it ‘cute’ in case that comes across as patronising, it’s definitely not in anyway unpleasant to hear. Especially since Minho’s voice is very sweet sounding and nice to listen to anyway.

“Ah, really? What’s it like teaching?” Hyunjin prompts him to go on.

“It’s cool! The kids are awesome, but it can be a bit ahhh hard work? They can be hyper even though they try to behave. Choreo takes up time as well, so I only teach a few classes and then have hours of um maybe call it behind the scenes work?” Minho answers animatedly, flapping his hands loosely in different motions at different points.

He blushes a bit when he appears to realise he’s doing that but Hyunjin just waves him off with a smile, hoping it gets his message of ‘don’t worry you look cute’ across roughly. It seems to since Minho happily flaps his hands while grinning, which makes Hyunjin grin back. Is he whipped? Yes.

“I wish I had a more interesting job like that. At the moment I’m just working at the convenience store while searching for something… I guess not better? But closer to what I planned,” Hyunjin shares a bit about himself. He can see Minho watching and listening intently, which makes him continue, “I actually just finished a post grad in architecture. I don’t really know if that’s what I want to do though.”

Minho hums thoughtfully before replying, “Well you should do whatever you want… within uh what’s the word, saying, thing… within reason! I studied childcare in uni but I didn’t get a job in it exactly because the average hours and schedule for it don’t suit me.”

“I- thanks. I know it’s not uh detailed advice but it kind of helped? While I do like architecture it was never really… The plan. Like I wanted to be a dancer, dance teacher, choreographer or something like that. My parents didn’t really like that though…” Hyunjin admits. He feels a bit bad for bringing the mood down with his problems now, and says as much.

“Hey, it’s cool! I’m just happy to help and cheer you up if you want.” Minho gives his foot a little playful kick under the table, “But I meant it when I said you should do what you want. I don’t uh know the situation? But you won’t be happy just, well, following what your parents say.”

“I mean I’m already pretty much disowned so I’m not really getting any instructions to follow anyway,” Hyunjin laughs bitterly.

“Well shit.”

“Yeah that sums it up. God, I’m really not handling this mood, huh?” Hyunjin shakes his head lightly to try and reset his thoughts a bit.

“I already told you it’s fine!” Minho pokes his arm. Damn, this boy is really putting his everything into cheering Hyunjin up. He honestly might cry from all this care and attention directed at him.

“I- well anyway, I’m mostly like dealing with it. They stopped really talking to me when I came out when I was 17 so it’s been a while,” Hyunjin adds.

“Still fucked up. You deserve better, Jinnie,” Seungmin decides to join them, “Also Min be careful, you’re gonna make the poor boy cry. Or be more of a panicked bisexual than usual.”

“Mood.”

“Min, you are a chaotic pan shush!” Seungmin hushes, “Jinnie you would not believe the fuckery him and Sung get up to!”

“I literally walked in on him slutdropping to girl group songs, I think I would believe it,” Hyunjin points out. Minho pouts, letting his wrists and hands flop and just generally dramatically looking upset.

“I can’t even say anything mean now, you pouty baby!” Seungmin huffs, poking at Minho’s cheeks and receiving a giggle which makes Hyunjin’s heart melt.

“So you on break now?” Minho questions.

“Yep, for uhh-” Seungmin confirms, looking down at his watch, “About twenty more minutes!”

“Nice, I have work in - oh shit - soon!” The look of horror on Minho’s face when he leans over to check the time is actually fantastic.

“Do you need to go then?” Hyunjin can’t help but whine a bit, Seungmin giving him a look for his whipped behaviour.

“Eh, I don’t need to um rush off but I should go soon,” Minho says.

“Okay, it was really nice to well, get closer with you! You’re um very cool…” Hyunjin gets flustered, much to the amusement of all witnesses.

“Thanks. You too, Jinnie! Ah, I don’t have your number since my phone ran out of charge…”

Hyunjin quickly gets his own phone out and opens up a new contact page. He hands it to Minho with a murmured ‘here’. When he gets it back he has a new contact saved as ‘Min’ with a heart, as well as a selfie that he had to go through watching Minho carefully take.

“Seeya around!” He gives Hyunjin a quick hug and starts to walk off once Hyunjin and Seungmin have said their goodbyes (and Woojin as well from behind the counter), but turns around to call out: “Text me!”




“So Lee Minho, huh?” Seungmin rounds on Hyunjin.

“Seungmin. Please.”

“Okay, okay! But really, wow. I know you said ‘hot guy’ but Min is really a catch, mate,” Seungmin tells him.

“Don’t I know it?” Hyunjin whines. He makes the mistake of starting to think about Minho more which causes him to stare into space almost dreamily, which is a perfect set up for teasing.

“Oh wait until Innie hears about this! He doesn’t really know Min, but he’s seen pictures so he’ll understand!”

Hyunjin smacks Seungmin’s shoulder and mutters darkly about deserving respect.

“Alright, I get it. No more teasing. But really, he’s awesome and you two will be great once you just well, get your shit together I guess. Also get the approval of Jisung-”

“Oh god…” Hyunjin groans

“Ji’s a sweetie really, just a very angry tiny ball of fluff and you managed to hit one of his legitimate and reasonable sore spots which made it worse. Just apologise and get closer to him while being as genuine and honest as possible,” Seungmin advises.

“That’s the plan!” Hyunjin agrees.




Later in the evening, after he’s back from work, Hyunjin lies in bed staring at his phone. It’s weirdly nerve wracking trying to send that first text to Minho, despite there being nothing romantic… Yet.


CREATE NEW CHAT WITH: ‘Min <3’ [Lee Minho]

Hwang Hyunjin : Hey


Min <3 : Yo


‘Min <3’ has set [Hwang Hyunjin]’s nickname to ‘Pretty Boy’


Pretty Boy: Really?


Min <3 : Yep!!!

Min <3 : it’s what i called you before i knew your name lol


Pretty Boy : Okay. I see how it is.


‘Pretty Boy’ has set [Lee Minho]’s nickname to ‘Baby Boy’


Baby Boy : all bc that crop top?

Baby Boy : eh whatever it’s cute

Baby Boy : aaaaand, we’re matching ;)


If Hyunjin didn’t know he was a goner before, he knows now.


Chapter Text

Minho scrolls through his phone idly as he lays across the big armchair in the living room. He’s practically hanging off of it with his feet up in the air, ankles hooked over the top, and head thrown backwards down towards the floor. Draping himself off of furniture questionably in a way that resembles a cat is definitely one of his talents.

His real cat, Dori, decides to join him in this activity. She’s an adorable little tabby that he adopted from a rescue shelter as a kitten. Now she’s all grown up and Minho totally feels like a proud parent. Plus, it helps him with missing his other cats less - they live with his parents still since cats tend to not enjoy moving houses much, especially as they get older.

Chan actually didn’t really approve of her at first. Not because he dislikes Dori herself. But more in relation to the costs and responsibilities involved in having a pet. However it didn’t take too long for Minho to prove that a) cats are delightfully chill animals that aren’t all that high maintenance, and b) a single rescue cat is definitely within their price range.

He reaches up his free hand to scratch her behind the ears while continuing to go through everything irrelevant he can find on his phone. Technically he has work to do in the form of finishing up the editing for the YouTube channel he shares with Felix and Jisung, but Minho’s already worked on it for a few hours earlier. Although it can be quite fun and interesting work, he has to be quite careful to not push himself too far with it on top of his more standard jobs at the studio and bookstore.

When he gets to his messages Minho notices that Hyunjin is online right now. It’s only been a few days but Minho is already growing quite close to the younger boy. While he’ll admit he’s a little wary and reserved due to Hyunjin and Jisung still needing to fully sort out their issues with each other (as far as he knows), Minho is pretty hopeful that everything is going to work out.

From past experiences Minho is fairly certain that Jisung will come around, especially if Hyunjin apologises nicely. The conversation at the cafe that Minho had with Hyunjin at least seems to encourage the idea of a nice apology being likely. He seems plenty sweet, despite being clueless.

Minho takes a quick little picture of Dori curled up on his stomach, leaning her head into his hand. Though the picture really just does not do the little cat’s next level cuteness justice. Oh well, Hyunjin will have to deal with it. He can always be spammed with higher quality pictures and videos another time. There are definitely a lot of them available on all of the nice cameras owned by Minho and his friends.

 

CHAT BETWEEN: ‘Pretty Boy’ [Hwang Hyunjin] & ‘Baby Boy’ [Lee Minho]

Baby Boy : Yo

‘Baby Boy’ has sent an image

Baby Boy : look at this cat

Baby Boy : isn’t she the BEST

 

Pretty Boy : Cute

Pretty Boy : I’m allergic to cats tho

 

Baby Boy : oof

Baby Boy : poor u missing out on the superior animals

 

Pretty Boy : I- okay

 

Baby Boy : this means u cant come round mine

 

Pretty Boy : Wait why

 

Baby Boy : if these names weren’t cute i would change urs to dumbass

Baby Boy : she’s my cat. that lives with me. in my apartment

 

Pretty Boy : Excuse me I have to throw myself out the window

Pretty Boy : Also big oof on the whole allergy front

 

Baby Boy : yea i know

Baby Boy : we can never go on my bed

 

Pretty Boy :

 

Baby Boy : not like THAT

Baby Boy : ahhhhhh

Baby Boy : Hwang Hyunjin nooooo

 

Pretty Boy : Hey you said it, not me!!!

 

Baby Boy : hmm

 

Pretty Boy : Really, humming in text?

 

Baby Boy : yea humming is the best

 

Pretty Boy : uwu

Pretty Boy : You’re cute

 

Minho is blushing. Quite a bit. But it’s very much so justified when a sweet and pretty boy like Hwang Hyunjin is lowkey (or highkey) flirting with him. He can’t help but flap his hands in excitement - though he tries to be a bit more controlled and gentle for the sake of Dori who is taking a nap on him now. He wouldn’t dare wake the sleeping princess… Though he might have to soon anyways for dinner.

 

Baby Boy : how do i wake up the cat napping on me

Baby Boy : like in a nice way

 

Pretty Boy : Idk just pick her up

Pretty Boy : Do you really have to?

 

Baby Boy : yes

Baby Boy : i need food

 

Pretty Boy : Are you sure?

 

Baby Boy : yes omg i know ur joking but dont do this to meeee

 

Pretty Boy : Ok ok

Pretty Boy : Just put her down somewhere else comfy?

 

Baby Bo y : its a bit hard from the position im in right now

 

Pretty Boy : Do I want to know?

 

Baby Boy : omg shush im just upside down in a chair because it be like that

 

He quickly takes a selfie, making sure to include every part of his ridiculous seating arrangement. He throws up a peace sign near Dori’s ears.

 

‘Baby Boy’ has sent an image

Baby Boy : see

 

Pretty Boy : OMG you look adorable, your hair is all fluffy awwwww

Pretty Boy : Also what’s that bracelet thing?

 

Baby Boy : oh it’s a friendship bracelet

Baby Boy : Ji made it for me when he was like 6

 

Pretty Boy : Wow the uwu intensifies

 

Baby Boy : shut upppp

Baby Boy : but thanks i guess ^^

Baby Boy : wait stop distracting me

Baby Boy : i need sustenanceeeee

 

Pretty Boy : Okay you gremlin

Pretty Boy : Go displace your cat and order food or whatever

 

Baby Boy : excuse you, im cooking !!!

Baby Boy : i cook, Channie cleans

 

Pretty Boy : Really?

 

Baby Boy : yea im like next level terrified of vacuum cleaners

 

Pretty Boy : Why am I not surprised???

Pretty Boy : Anyways get your ass over to the kitchen and cook

 

Baby Boy : will do

Baby Boy : i’ll be back to harass you in like half an hour

 


 

Minho carefully reaches behind him to place his phone on the coffee table before turning his attention to the big task: safely removing Dori from his lap. If this were not a regular occurrence he might actually have to put more than a bit of thought into it. However Minho has a habit of sitting questionably and has had cats for years, so he’s used to this.

He lifts his head up a bit so he can see what he’s doing better before carefully lifting the cat up and onto the armrest. After that he very delicately brings his legs down from where they’re leaning up against the back of the chair, making sure not to kick Dori or fall off the chair. Once Minho’s no longer upside down he gets up, picking his phone up along the way to the kitchen. Dori settles back down in the empty place he leaves.

Next task: actually deciding what to cook. The best idea is probably to check what they have in the fridge and cupboards first - both so he isn’t wasting food, especially things that won’t be in date much longer, and so he doesn’t have to go out to the store for something he already has. Because not only is it stupid to buy things that are already there… Minho also hates stores. And shopping.

Public places in general are a bit fucking awful to be honest. The cafe he can handle, mostly due to avoiding it during busy hours as well as having the blessing of workers that can sign somewhat decently. Minho knows that Woojin learnt sign language previously due to a mix of interest and also feeling it might be helpful when it comes to pursuing a career in psychology. However Seungmin was not particularly fluent, but has been learning a lot from Minho and Felix over the couple of years they’ve known each other.

Luckily for Minho they do have a reasonable amount of fresh food around the place that can be tossed together to make at least a half decent meal. It might not be absolutely stunning restaurant quality, but it’ll be edible and at least the bare minimum of healthy.

The first thing he does is boil some water to cook ramen in. After that, he gets to work chopping up different vegetables, before throwing them in the frying pan to cook. Within a couple of minutes the water is ready and he quickly sorts it out before returning to the more difficult tasks.

It doesn’t take long for the kitchen to become somewhat like a little obstacle course of mess and questionable ‘multitasking’. Minho really can’t lie here, tidiness is not his thing. Neither him or Chan really mind as long as it’s all cleared up reasonably quickly though - normally one or both of them cleans up everything after eating.

 


 

The finished meal actually looks kind of good, if Minho does say so himself. It’s a mix of different stir fry vegetables and beef along with simple ramen noodles. Easy, but nice.

He steps away from where he’s left the food, so he can check his messages. There’s a spam of adorable kitten pictures from Hyunjin which makes him smile and make a little happy clicking sound. He has about ten or fifteen minutes to wait until Chan should be home since he’s working late and Minho finished up dinner a bit earlier than usual anyway so he decides he might as well talk to Hyunjin for a little bit.

 

CHAT BETWEEN: ‘Pretty Boy’ [Hwang Hyunjin] & ‘Baby Boy’ [Lee Minho]

Baby Boy : yo

Baby Boy : im back

 

He goes to click out of the messenger app to put on some music or a dance video on YouTube while he waits for Hyunjin to reply. But before he can even open another app there’s a notification informing him that Hyunjin has already replied. Minho feels a weird type of happy surprise. It’s strange. But a good, warm sort of strange

He can’t help but get distracted by the mini debate beginning to rage in his mind over whether this is really that big of a deal. After all, Hyunjin might just have been on his phone right at that moment and able to reply quicker.

However before he can get too deep into his own thoughts Minho sighs to himself and tells his thoughts to shut up. Whether Hyunjin is ‘desperate’ or ‘excited’ to reply to him swiftly right now, he cannot and will not be able to work out. But either way, Hyunjin did reply and Minho should read said message and continue the conversation.

 

Pretty Boy : Did you finish cooking?

 

Baby Boy : yea

Baby Boy : Channie is gonna be back in a few minutes hopefully so im waiting for him so we can eat it together

 

Pretty Boy : Cool cool

Pretty Boy : What did you end up cooking?

 

Baby Boy : just a simple stir fry thing of whatever shit we had in the fridge

Baby Boy : wait

Baby Boy : lemme show you

‘Baby Boy’ has sent an image

Pretty Boy : ooh nice

Pretty Boy : I can’t cook to save my life tbh

Pretty Boy : Can you pleaseeee make me dinner too, your flatmate is so lucky

Baby Boy : honestly,,, sure

Baby Boy : just tell me what you want and i’ll see if it’s something im able to make easily enough

 

Pretty Boy : OMG REALLY????

 

Baby Boy : yes lmao

 

Pretty Boy : Wow thank you, i’ll let you know when i’m free

Pretty Boy : Also I swear that’s the first time I’ve seen you write ‘yes’ properly??

 

Baby Boy : yea sounds cool

Baby Boy : and you’re probably right about the yes thing, it physically hurt to type but it just,,, fit better

Baby Boy : i really cant say yes when speaking aloud so i dont really type it either

 

Pretty Boy : fair enough

 

At that moment Minho hears the familiar click of the front door opening and then shutting again after someone walks in, the sound of their footsteps clear against the wooden flooring. It’s not difficult for him to recognise the particular sound of Chan’s footsteps by this point. Even before they started living together Minho was able to get used to Chan and Jisung’s footsteps due to being around them so much, and later did the same with Felix.

He can’t help but smile and quickly do a little happy movement with his hands, even if it is only a little thing that his friend and flatmate is back. Quickly typing out a message to Hyunjin saying he has to go, he starts to walk over to greet Chan. On his way he tosses his phone onto the table as soon as the message sends.

“Channie!” Minho calls out excitedly, hurrying over to leap at Chan for a hug.

Chan happily hugs him back, ruffling his hair affectionately. He can’t help but laugh softly at Minho’s enthusiastic greeting, “Hello to you too Min!”

I made dinner. It’s on the table, ” Minho signs after pulling away from the hug. He smiles slightly, proud of himself for the cooking despite it being a regular thing due to their cooking and cleaning agreements.

They both head over to the table, which is mostly set. Chan sits down immediately, clearly tired from work. Minho however still buzzes around the kitchen, bringing over a few last things like drinks which he avoided taking out of the fridge so they wouldn’t lose their nice coolness (especially since they haven’t got any ice in the freezer at the moment). As he’s standing on his tiptoes trying to reach the glasses (one of Chan’s tall friends helped cleaning up and put them up way too high on the top shelf) Chan speaks up: “You just got a message from ‘pretty boy’... Who’s that?”

“What’s it say?” asks Minho, still struggling. He can’t bring himself to care about how much effort speaking is, and if it might take too much of his energy right now, when he absolutely has to get these glasses - how can he possibly turn around to sign and also achieve this important goal?

“It says ‘seeya doll’,” Chan reads out, “Who is this? Your sugar daddy? Oh my god Min! Do you-”

“For the love of fuck, Channie!” The interruption from Minho is definitely necessary. “He’s just a cute dancer who works at the store Binnie works at. Chill.”

(If there’s one thing Minho can definitely complain and pout about whether he’s feeling particularly insecure or not, then it’s the fact that he can never truly sound badass, threatening or anything like that. The little slurs in his voice just kind of shove that plan off a cliff. While he can generally accept his voice as ‘cute’ or ‘soft’ it is definitely annoying when he’s angry but can’t properly show it. At least he can angrily sign in a serious way.)

“Oh, worm?” Chan smirks, clearly picking up on the fact that Minho is describing someone as cute.

“I’m gonna ask him out or whatever after him and Jisung stop trying to end each other,” Minho continues, making Chan laugh uncontrollably.

“Er, more context please?” Chan prompts as soon as he’s done laughing.

Minho finally manages to swipe a few glasses down (quite literally, he reached and smacked them forwards like a cat swiping at something, much to Chan’s horror). He then sits down opposite Chan and starts explaining the whole story as soon as he’s set the glasses down and can sign. He’ll admit he’s a bit scared Chan will take Jisung’s side and hate Hyunjin. It’s unlikely since Chan tends to be the mature and logical one, but Minho is mentally preparing for any reaction and trying to shove away any high hopes.

Honestly kind of what I’d expect from Jisung. I hope everything sorts itself out when Hyunjin apologises, ” Chan signs once Minho finishes his explanation. He doesn’t make a big deal out of the rapid shifting between speaking and signing, which Minho is grateful for.

Yeah, me too. ” Minho agrees. He lazily signs the relatively simple sentence with one hand so he can eat with the other.

Well dramatic rivalries with Sung aside, what’s this boy like?

He’s really sweet. Super easily flustered, though I think he’s getting more comfortable with me and my flirting? He speaks before thinking it through sometimes, but he’s so energetic, and eager to learn and help! So I couldn’t bring myself to stay mad at him for anything whilst realising he isn’t purposefully causing trouble. ” Minho just knows he has that lovestruck dreamy-eyed look on his face. However to nobody’s surprise, like in a lot of situations, he doesn’t particularly mind or care.

Sounds pretty sweet. I’ll have to actually meet him sometime though… Maybe after he and Sung get their shit together? ” Chan suggests.

Sure! I actually told him I’d cook dinner for him whenever he’s free so we can put all these things together! ” Minho is getting into excited planning mode now.

What are you planning to cook for him?

I don’t know yet, probably just whatever he wants as long as it’s easy. Oh and we may have to go to his place for it since he’s allergic to cats… ” Minho remembers, “ Though I don’t know if it’s a bad allergy, so it might be fine as long as he doesn’t full on curl up with Dori.

After that they mostly turn their attention to their food. While both of them are very used to signing and have plenty of tricks for how to sign while eating or carrying things, there’s only so much one can do. And food is definitely being prioritised over conversation, at least now that the bigger topics have been discussed.

 


 

 

When Minho falls asleep a few hours later he dreams about happy dinners with everyone and dancing in fields of flowers with Hyunjin. Dori is also present in his little dreamland, with Hyunjin being magically unaffected. While maybe the last part is a tiny little bit far fetched, he hopes the happy energy of the fairytale dreams can transfer to real life.