“Namjoon, do you have all your bags?” A taller woman bustled around the side of the car and tsked at her son, brushing the bread crumbs off his jacket.
“Yes, Mom.” Namjoon rolled his eyes and groaned as his mother sighed, brushing his wine purple hair out of his eyes.
“And you know where to put your things?” She made to pull out her phone, but Namjoon put one hand on her wrist, ceasing her movement.
“Of course. And if I don’t show up on time, Yoongi will come get me and throw a hissy fit.” They shared a laugh, shutting the trunk of the car.
Namjoon stood awkwardly at the curb of the gates and stared at the large sign that displayed the school’s name in large, perfect font.
His mother was silent for a moment before she sniffled, causing Namjoon to turn back for a moment. “Mom-”
His mother rushed him into a hug, gripping his forearms tightly. Namjoon coughed as the breath was knocked out of his lungs but hugged back just as tight, already beginning to feel a longing for the familiar sight of Ilsan’s small neighbourhoods. Seoul was a big city, stretching for miles in every direction. Shops filled every inch of the streets where thousands of people hurried from moment to moment. Namjoon disliked the fast paced environment, preferring the warm air and a comforting sense of knowing everyone. A part of him still wished for it, but he known that he’d had to leave eventually a long time ago.
“Sorry,” His mother wiped her eyes, rummaging carelessly through her purse for a pack of tissues. She held one out to Namjoon, who declined with a small smile. “It’s just...I think I’ve finally realized how grown up you are-”
“Mom-” Namjoon protested again, but his mother talked over him.
“It seems like yesterday when I was pushing you on the swings at the park because your feet couldn’t touch the ground,” She choked out a laugh, followed by a sob, “My little moonchild…”
Namjoon groaned, looking over both shoulders to see if a stranger had been able to hear the unfortunate nickname. “Mom, you know how I feel about you using that nickname in public-”
“Yah,” She hit his arm with her purse, a frown worming its way onto her face. “I raised you on my back, show me some respect. I’ve provided you with the food that made you big and strong, you would have starved without me-” She rambled on and on, making Namjoon chuckle. His mother had always been one for reminiscing about the past, eyes filling with starlight as she told a story.
“Mom, I’m going to be late for orientation.” Namjoon tapped his fingers patiently against the handle of his suitcase, waiting expectantly.
“Yes, yes, I know,” His mother pulled out her phone and snapped a few pictures of him, making the teenager groan. “Just let me have this moment, yes?”
“If you have this moment any longer, I’ll be graduated by the time you finally leave.” Namjoon gave a teasing smile in his mothers direction, who stuck her tongue out at him.
“Alright, alright.” His mom stuck her phone back in her purse and grabbed the rest of his bags, wheeling them to the entrance. Namjoon stared at the large iron poles of the gate an gulped. His mother noticed his expression and put a hand on his shoulder, leaning on the balls of her feet to reach so high. He relaxed his muscles at her touch, sighing softly.
“You’ll do great here, Namjoonie.”
“Thanks, mom ,” Namjoon hugged his mother one last time before waving goodbye and stepping onto the campus grounds.
The school was built like a small city. Multiple buildings stretched higher than Namjoon could see, displaying plenty of room for large lecture halls and studios. They had their own paved roads, road signs pointing the way to the various departments scattered across the large area. He followed the steady stream of students to a large courtyard filled with people.
It was like walking through a marketplace: Established students were bustling about, herding the new students like sheep in a pasture while others pushed through the crowds, knowing their own way. A few older groups stood to the side, waving posters and manning dressed up tables to advertise the school clubs. As he walked past the line of tables Namjoon tried his best to ignore the piercing stares of the club members and continue on to his dorm room, opting to look a bit later. He felt like a baby animal, glancing back and forth at the shadows of vulture-like young adults that threatened to smother him with fliers and social anxiety. He just needed to get past the last few-
“Hey! You!” Namjoon tried walking a bit faster. Maybe the voice was referring to someone else?
“Yes, I’m talking to you! Purple hair guy! Daddy Long Legs!” The voice shouted again, causing Namjoon to flush a deep maroon as a few other voices snickered. He stopped where he was, not wanting to turn around. That was definitely about him.
“Yes, you! Skinny grape boy!” The voice was persistent, getting even louder now. Namjoon was sure that the entire courtyard could hear the exchange. He grit his teeth and spun on his heel, searching for the origin of the voice.
As Namjoon finally located the source of the sound, he laid his eyes upon the most beautiful boy he’d ever seen.
His black hair bounced slightly as he walked towards Namjoon, saying something incomprehensible. His lips were plump and shined a pretty pink colour as the light caught the side of his face. His eyes were a dark mahogany, smooth and entrancing. As he reached out, Namjoon noticed that his skin was a golden tan. He was staring so intently that he’d become aware of the small speckled patches of freckles adorning his cheeks up to-
“Hey!” The boy waved a hand in his face, causing Namjoon to break out of his inner monologue. “Can you even speak Korean?” He slowed his speech and spoke in broken phrases. “Do you know ‘an-nyeong-ha-se-yo’?”
Namjoon, still startled, regained enough control to choke out a response. “Yes, I can speak Korean.”
"Thank goodness,” The boy visibly relaxed, letting out a huge sigh. “I can’t speak English for shit.” His eyes crinkled, aware of his humour, and Namjoon gave a small laugh to accompany him.
“S o, as I was saying,” the beautiful boy held a flyer expectantly in front of him, “I’m the president of the Drama Club and all things Fine Arts.”
“O -Ok?” Namjoon slowly pulled the flyer from his grasp, leaving the other a chance to grab it back if he liked.
“We do the musical each year and we put on a couple open mic performances for slam poetry, songs and the occasional rap.”
“Oh?” Namjoon’s interest stirred like a sleeping cat. “And when would those be?”
“Oh, forgive me,” The boy laughed to himself, gesturing wildly with his hands to make up for unsaid words, “It’s not open. You have to audition.”
“Audition?” Namjoon raised a brow, forehead creasing as he regarded any hints of humour in the boy’s voice.
“Yep!” He took a step towards Namjoon, pointing to the small font towards the bottom of the flyer. “That’s why we’re a club. People audition for parts and then perform over the course of the year. Interested?”
Namjoon rubbed the flyer in between his thumb and fingers, avoiding eye contact with the other boy who was staring up at him expectantly. They were almost the same height, but Namjoon’s long legs boosted him just above the other’s eye level.
“I...I guess I’ll think about it…” Namjoon didn’t want to commit to any clubs on the first day.
“Great!” The boy didn’t seem to notice the lack of wholeheartedness in his voice, moving to stalk back to the table. “See you then!”
“O-Oh, ok, bye-” Namjoon tried to give a small bow as the boy ran off, trailing his next unsuspecting victim.
Shaking his head with a small smile, Namjoon folded the paper neatly and tucked it into the pocket of his faded jeans. He supposed he should have dressed a bit more appropriately for the weather. In spite of the fall season quickly approaching, the sun shone down in harsh, bright rays that were licked up by Namjoon’s black turtleneck. The belt around his waist, paired with the almost unbearable heat, felt quite constricting as he walked, following the maze of street signs. Cars were stopped in lines, each waiting for the flood of students to clear the crosswalk. Namjoon, sensing their impatience, ran across with a small wave of appreciation. It wasn’t soon before he reached his dorm.
The building was fairly large and much nicer than Namjoon had imagined. As an accommodation to his majors, Namjoon had been fortunate enough to gain a dorm near the Music Department which, to his delight, happened to feature a quick path to the Literature Building.
Namjoon was double majoring in music composition and philosophical literary studies, taking a minor in creative writing in his spare time. His mother had been quite proud of his ambitions but was quick to establish that if Namjoon found he couldn’t handle the workload, he was to drop one and focus on the other. He’d been glad his mother had even let him enroll with both; he couldn’t imagine having to choose.
Namjoon’s best friend, Yoongi, was also attending. They’d gone to high school together and formed a bond through an accidental run-in at an underground rap battle. They became fast friends after that, helping each other through the hardest of high school battles.
He stared at the front door. It seemed to be the most important steps that he’d taken in quite some time. He knew Yoongi would be waiting for him there, but the building felt most unfamiliar, like a foreign planet. Even the air felt different as he took scarce lungfuls, regulating his breathing.
“Well?” A woman poked her head out of the door, looking at Namjoon with a slightly incredulous look. “Are you going to stand their all day?”
“Uh, no, I-” Namjoon fumbled with his pockets, searching for his papers, “I’m here for my dorm room. Min Yoongi’s roommate?”
“Oh, right,” She stepped aside, letting Namjoon step into the blissful crisp air of the room. As he walked to the small table that had been set up, he took a quick look to the ceiling and blessed every deity he’d heard of that their building had functioning air conditioning. “He mentioned something about a purple haired boy earlier. Was wondering when you’d show up.”
Namjoon rolled his eyes, mentally throwing a lewd hand gesture to his friend. He was making a name for himself, and not the way he would have liked.
“Here,” She handed him a dull key, “You’re on the third floor, 307. Pretty good, in my opinion. Everyone has house parties on the ground floor, so you won’t find much trouble up there.”
“Thanks,” Namjoon pocketed the key, taking the first right.
“It’s on the left!” She yelled down the hall.
“Right!” Namjoon spun on his heels and quickly walked in the other direction, avoiding any further eye contact. He quickly spotted the thick metal doors of the elevator but continued down the hall in favour of the stairs that promised a quick escape from his embarrassment.
The third floor was quite well kept. The carpet was clean, possibly recently replaced, and the walls painted a soft grey. Room 307, as it turned out, was situated at the end of the hall, earning Namjoon a view of the street corner, where the campus café could be seen bustling with customers.
Fumbling with his pockets, he wrenched the key from the tight jean material and unlocking the door. As Namjoon slipped his shoes off, he surveyed the room slowly. It was well furnished and in good condition, to Namjoon’s surprise. The kitchen was a good size, not that he’d be cooking in it, but it also provided a nice couch and a table to eat meals. Over near the window sat a TV, no doubt brought by Yoongi, which had been haphazardly set up amidst a mess of wires and electrical tape. He threw his suitcase next to Yoongi’s, which was perching atop a small footstool.
“Yoongi!” Namjoon cupped his hands, bellowing. “I’m here!”
There was a rustling sound in the other room, followed by a loud yelp.
“Yoongi?” Namjoon cautiously tapped the bedroom door with his foot, letting it swing open. “Are you ok?”
Min Yoongi was a short boy with nimble fingers and a penchant for coffee. He was usually quite stoic in crowds, carrying himself with a silent grace that baffled Namjoon. He usually saved the embarrassments for the safety of a closed door, and today seemed to be no exception.
“That’s a lovely anteater impression you’re doing, Yoongi.” Namjoon held back a loud laugh as he observed his friend, trapped under his chair and sticking his tongue out in vain retaliation.
“Shut up, Grape Boy.” Yoongi shoved the chair off him with an annoyed grunt, picking himself up, choosing instead to perch on the edge of the bed.
Namjoon groaned. “Ugh, not you too. I thought I showed you already?”
“I have,” Yoongi ran a hand through his own vibrant mop, a mint green that drew heads and curious stares from far distances. “But the forums just found you.”
“The forums.” Yoongi stood up, beckoning Namjoon to follow him. “While I was waiting for you I decided to set up an account; everyone at this school has one. So I did a bit of browsing and I was so pleasantly surprised,” Yoongi’s voice got higher as he teased Namjoon, watching the thinly veiled horror of anticipation, “To find a video of my own best friend, Kim Namjoon, trying and failing to outrun an acting major.”
Namjoon crossed his arms, sputtering defences. “He was persistent, ok? And a lot of my nice stuff is in that suitcase, I didn’t want to break it.”
“I’m pretty sure I heard you throw it beside mine.”
Namjoon’s cheeks turned pink. “Shut up.”
“Anyways,” Yoongi flickered his fingers over the touchpad of his laptop, bringing the screen back from its slumber, “one ‘Atomic_Sparkle93’ graced my timeline with his beauty. Enjoy.”
As soon as Yoongi clicked the ‘play’ button, Namjoon’s eyes were assaulted by the painfully good quality video of him practically racing down the pavement, pretty boy in fast pursuit.
“Hey, Purple hair guy! Daddy Long Legs! Yes, you, skinny grape boy!”
Curse good phones and their audio capturing abilities.
Yoongi muffled a fit of laughter with his hand as Namjoon forced himself to watch the last few seconds. He could see his face turning red as they continued to talk. How embarrassing.
“So, that was the highlight of my day,” Yoongi banished the video from the screen with one clean swipe, much to Namjoon’s relief, “You in gay panic mode has got to be the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”
Namjoon gave a chaste punch to Yoongi’s shoulder, pulling his fist away quickly before the older could grab him. “It’s not funny! He was the most beautiful man I’ve ever had the pleasure of laying eyes upon, and he’s calling me ‘Daddy Long Legs’!”
“I mean, he isn’t wrong.” Yoongi shrugged his shoulders as he dodged a second punch from Namjoon. “You are, like, ninety seven percent leg.”
“And he didn’t even think I spoke Korean! Do I really look like a foreigner?” Namjoon ranted, flopping down onto Yoongi’s back and staring at the ceiling.
“You are dressed like Steve Jobs.”
Namjoon opened his mouth to speak, but Yoongi shushed him. “Am I wrong, Joon?”
Namjoon stayed silent.
“Come on, Joon, it’s not that bad. You have a campus wide reputation now!”
“And that is good because?”
Yoongi thought for a moment. “You could have gotten campus famous for setting fire to a classroom or something.”
Yoongi suddenly clapped his hands together, leaving his laptop on the bed beside Namjoon. “I’m going to go search for the kettle and make myself some coffee. You want some?”
Namjoon craned his neck, making eye contact with his best friend. “Does it look like I could use coffee right now?”
“Yes. Very, in fact.”
Namjoon let his head thump back onto the pillow. “I’ll take it black. And make it one of the small cups, please.”
“As you wish,” Yoongi chuckled to himself as he disappeared down the hallway, “Wait, Joon?”
“What?” Namjoon had buried his head into Yoongi’s unfurnished pillow, inhaling the distinct scent of old coffee stains.
“Make a forum account. Apparently the teachers use it to update their classes instead of sending emails, and it syncs with your Kakao Talk to so you can chat with people.”
Namjoon groaned. “Fine.”
He begrudgingly rose from his sprawled position and grabbed Yoongi’s laptop, logging out of his friend’s account. He browsed the refreshed site for a moment, soon finding the small ‘Sign Up’ button and patiently waited for the site to load.
First Name: Namjoon
Last Name: Kim
Password Verification: ********
Please note that the username chosen cannot be changed without a special, in person request to the administration office.
Namjoon drummed his fingers on his thigh, deep in thought. He’d had a lot of unfortunate names for himself in the past, creating a vast amount of second hand embarrassment that followed him through the teasing remarks of Yoongi and his own reminiscences.
“Yoongs?” Namjoon called out into the hall. Footsteps had been created from his beckoning, gaining volume as they approached closer.
“Yes, Joon?” Yoongi popped his head around the doorframe.
Namjoon gave him a pout, pointing at the computer. “I don’t know what to make as a username.”
Yoongi walked around to the side of the bed where Namjoon was sat. “What about ‘Rap Monster’?”
Namjoon glared at his friend. “It’s RM now.”
“Right, right,” Yoongi parroted as if he hadn’t known, “Just put your name?”
“But that’s so boring!” Namjoon threw his hands into the air, frustrated. Everyone else has something cool and their name, or a fake name and a grad year.”
“Here, give it to me,” Yoongi motioned for the laptop to be handed to him. “I’ll make you one so that you don’t have to choose, alright?”
Namjoon clutched the laptop close. “No. You’re just gonna put something stupid.”
Yoongi put a hand around Namjoon’s shoulder, rubbing a soft perimeter to soothe his anxieties. “Joon, you’re my best friend in the whole wide world. You’ve always been there for me. Why would I start messing with you now?”
Without a word, Namjoon passed the computer to his friend. They both sat there in silence as Yoongi took the device into his lap and was tapping his fingers to the keys in thought; typing, then furiously deleting. After a while, a triumphant smile appeared on Yoongi’s face as he gave a purposeful click to the touchpad.
“Alrighty, Joon. I’m done. You should be getting a notification in about three se-”
His phone vibrated in his pocket, much to Yoongi’s delight. Namjoon pulled it from his jeans, curious as to what his friend had chosen.
Sender: Seoul University: Human Resources
Welcome to the Seoul University Forum, “grapejoon”! We’re pleased to have you at our institution this year! Enclosed in this email you will find…
“Min Yoongi!” Namjoon roared as his friend squealed with laughter, practically diving out the room. The chase was quite short, and Namjoon managed to corner Yoongi back into the bedroom. “How could you?”
“Nammie, it’s for your own good. This way, you can communicate with hot actor dude and he’ll know who you are!” Yoongi had his hands held out in front of him as a precaution while Namjoon stalked forward with amused anger in his eyes.
“Everyone is gonna know who I am!” Namjoon whined pointing back at the computer. “You saw the video, Yoongs, everyone can hear the nickname!”
“But Joon, this is-”
They were both cut off with another vibrating sound. Namjoon almost dropped his phone in surprise.
Kakao Talk - New Message! Allow?
Message (worldwide_handsome_jin) - what’s up, daddy long legs? Though about the flyer yet? I'm making the list right now...
Yoongi let out a high pitched, triumphant sound as Namjoon flopped back onto the bed with a pained groan. “See, I was right! He’s totally into you! I bet that by the end of this year you guys are totally gonna be a thing and-”
Namjoon chose to stare solely at the ceiling, letting Yoongi’s excited babble fade away. When he’d dreamt of university, he’s always thought he’d stick to the sidelines, let the others take the spotlight. After all, he had his moments on the stage and that was all he needed. Being campus famous for gay panic was certainly not the plan.
“Yoongi?” Namjoon curled himself into a small ball, tucking his knees up to his chest and stuck his face into the coffee pillow with a dramatic thump.
“I’m going to need a bigger cup of coffee than planned.”