Actions

Work Header

That Throttling Crimson around Us

Work Text:

As long as Minghao got to remember; red had always been that one color which always overweighed Minghao’s wide kaleidoscopic perspective of the world. It swarmed, floated, and covered everything in front of Minghao; coming in the forms of thin strings. 

Minghao had known what they were since very early on. There had even been countless times when this ability of his made his day and sent him soaring to cloud nine. Minghao was the proudest whenever he got to witness the happiness in his friends’ faces; even more so when it was sprinkled by some gratitude.

Just like that one time when he watched Seungkwan strolled inside the café with Hansol in his arm. The high school student squealed and jumped onto him, planting wet kisses all over his face as he shouted how thankful he was to Minghao. It got Minghao laughing all his heart out.

His heart swelled with happiness throughout their whole night out that day. He could never forget how wide Seungkwan had smiled or how gentle Hansol’s gazes had been whenever he laid eyes on his new boyfriend.

It got him wondering what he’d feel the day he’d finally meet his soulmate.

 

 

“Seungkwan-ah, are you happy?”

 

 

“Oh my god! Of course; of course, I am!” The younger exclaimed, bursting in tears to which Hansol quickly took his hand and placed kisses on.

 

Minghao watched with his heart full; nodding contently, “Both of you truly are match made in heaven. Never think of giving up on each other ever again, Kwan-ah.”  He wiped Seungkwan’s tears; smiling as the red string binding his friend and his boyfriend glared at him and beamed.

 

Minghao then talked some more before deciding it was finally dark enough for them to call it a day. He waved at them and watched as Hansol took Seungkwan home; a task that used to be his.

 

***

 

Minghao had always wondered who could it be the one who’d stand on the other end of his string; waiting for him to reach him or her. There had even been countless nights when Minghao would just stared at his ceiling, missing this other someone he’d never once met. Never had he imagined he would meet this someone in Korea; a place so foreign and new to him.

Minghao had just arrived in Korea, his words still slurred and broken. It was his first day in collage and he had just happened to wander a little bit too deep inside the huge campus. The many tall buildings and people swallowed him as they shaded him away from the light. He wanted to ask direction, yet he was still too insecure with his Korean. Thus, Minghao ended up roaming even deeper into the campus in hope of finding a way out.

He was nearing a somewhat looked like the abandoned part of the campus when his ears caught a tune; a really beautiful tune sounding too much like a siren song. It lured him and guided him until he stood by a doorway; a doorway to a small room with paint that had turned yellowish where dust was swirling freely under its ceiling.  The room was a mess of boxes and wastes, the lamps were broken, and it was clear to anyone that the room was undoubtedly a storeroom.

The most intriguing though; was the big, grand, black piano which unfittingly sat in the middle of it all. The said instrument flaunted its strong dominant as it slowly unveiled the man perching behind it. A really beautiful man, Minghao had to add.

The streak of sun ray sneaked through the thin curtain; landing perfectly on the man’s brown hair and had it glinted the light back. His eyelashes were long and curled beautifully; making Minghao’s judgement the harder to take. The sight in front of him together with the melodious arrangement made everything the more questionable, Minghao wasn’t even sure if they’re real!

So, he stood unmoving, dared not take a step forward; feeling as if there had been some glass box keeping him away from the man. His ears were keen to take in every notes being pressed, processing whatever emotion it stirred as he felt his heart danced in his ribcage.  The symphony felt oddly familiar and close to home.

When the last crescendo was reached, Minghao couldn’t help but gasp. He didn’t even know he was holding his breath! The man finally opened his eyes and let their gaze met, and oh my god; that was the prettiest eyes Minghao had ever laid eyes on. The dark brown orbs were staring at Minghao with so much intensity it caused Minghao’s knees go weak.  

The man looked surprised, but was quick to recover his composure and stood up from his seat. He walked toward him and Minghao noticed he was tall; his legs were long, waist’s small, hands – !!

 

 

His red string was straightly connecting to his!

 

 

Minghao instantly gasped and flew backward; his hands covered his mouth and his eyes bulged twice its size. His breath ragged as the man turned alerted and approached him in twice faster speed.

 

Nononononono, Minghao pushed himself farther back. This man couldn’t be! His mind was set in a blast with the information he hadn’t been ready to receive.

 

Sure, he indeed missed his soulmate, longed for him even, and was curious of him ever since forever. But, never would he thought to meet him this fast; not when he was still unable to arrange a decent sentence and especially not when he was this far behind his soulmate!

He was only wearing a plain sweater, an ugly glasses sat atop his nose, and shoes were dirtied with mud! He was nothing compared to his soulmate who was dressed in an expensive trench coat and wore pointed shoes; for god sake! Minghao really felt like digging holes and just hid inside!

 

“Are you okay?”  The man’s long fingers came to Minghao’s view, the pinky finger where their string was being attached being no exception. It glared at Minghao and beamed so brightly as if it was mocking Minghao who was now being cornered. It irked Minghao.

“You’re not having a panic attack…right?” The man had now crouched before him. His voice’s deep, but Minghao could hear the faint hint of awkwardness in it. The fact that the man scratched the back of his neck further proved his point.

They stayed under the silence for another set of moment before Minghao finally forced himself up, failing just at the same second he tried in which thankfully and not-so-thankfully; there was this man to catch him just in time. Everything later went spiraling downward so fast from then on, Minghao wasn’t even sure he would still have his face to go to the campus tomorrow.

The man carried him with a single whisk to the infirmary while Minghao, being the coward he was; couldn’t peel his face off of the man’s neck. His face burnt as he clung for his dear life. The man’s muscles flexed beneath his attire and Minghao could feel them all. His heart was racing in his ribcage. The rest then became a history and Minghao was far too glad he was still spared to live.

 

Later, it took Minghao a good one week to learn the man’s full name; the China prince, the one and only infamous school heartthrob, Wen Junhui.

 

Minghao even liked his name.

 

***

 

Wen Junhui loved dressing dapperly. He loved wearing coats. Whenever the class started, he never bothered putting them off. He would wear them through rain and sun; never fully revealing the clothes he wore underneath his coats, pretty much like how he never openly revealed himself.

Minghao realized this after two months of observation.

Wen Junhui was quiet. He never spoke too much, always making sure only spoke whenever necessary. His words were always carefully arranged, strung together with so much care as if they were music, or maybe it was Minghao who was just too careless with his way around words. The dictions he used never failed to impress; always holding so much regality and spoke of his broad knowledge and wisdom.

If Minghao back as a kid; had come to love the moon so devotedly, then, the now Minghao could safely say the moon had always owned, still was owning, and would continue on owning Minghao’s heart for another long time. Loving the moon might as well have been one of the many identities that make him Xu Minghao. And, as gaudy as it sounded, Minghao found Wen Junhui to be similar with the moon.

Wen Junhui drew everyone to him; too much like the moon leading the wave to kiss him, but at the same time setting in distance between them. He was a huge force, hiding behind a façade he let other people see. He walked around pulling other to gravitate around him, but never let them be closed enough to touch him.

Wen Junhui never bugged. Just like the moon, he had his priority set straight; revolving only around his piano and study. Minghao found it admirable.

 

He held up his hand and stared fondly at his string; bright and red. Somewhere between Babylonia and Assyria, Minghao was lost; too preoccupied by his thought of what could be running inside the head of the man sitting two rows in front of him. He watched in amusement as his string danced. Wen Junhui’s broad shoulders quaked as the man’s jotted down the professor’s words.

 

Wen Junhui never looked back, but in their string; Minghao believed.

 

He would.

 

Soon.

 

***

 

Wen Junhui didn’t like fuss. He pushed people away and created bubble around himself; an invisible yet undoubtedly strong one. Those who had cheekily or too confidently tried to poke inside the bubble were burnt just as fast as they took their first step closer; just like the sun had done Icarus’ wings

Minghao had learnt this early and asserted himself not to do the same mistake. Thus, he stayed within his range; civilly looking over the man and feeling blessed already just by seeing him from afar and how their string danced so lively thanked to Wen Junhui who seemed to keep on being in a race with time. Another point to add on Minghao’s already too long list of what to admire of his soulmate.

Another history class and as always Minghao seated himself two rows behind the man who was yet again rocking another black trench coat. Wen Junhui must have loved black a lot; it had been the seventh time this month he wore the said color.  Minghao couldn’t help but giggle at this new found information. He opened his textbook and added a new doodle on it; still giggling.

 

 

“Can I sit beside you?”

 

 

Minghao’s giggle was rudely pulled to an abrupt stop. His head shot up in no seconds.

There; standing on the step beside Wen Junhui’s seat, was a black haired young man who was holding a stare with his soulmate. The man was soft spoken and his smile was sweet, his eyes reflected warm summer light and his overall look was a breath of fresh air in this ever so crowded hall filled with the dust and crumbles from the Assyrian’s forces.

Minghao didn’t feel good about the man. Especially, not about his kind eyes nor the blatant hope radiating from them. He couldn’t stop himself from gritting his teeth.

Wen Junhui checked on the man; nodded his head before pulling his bag from the empty seat and gave way for the man. The man then claimed the seat.

His string started to dance again, but this time; Minghao was too busy to find it entertaining. Instead, he squinted; trying to bear holes on the new man’s back, waiting for him to be burnt and turned into ash.

 

Yet, to his dismay, the fire never flicked.

 

The man who had strangely felt so close to him these past few months suddenly felt so far away, being sucked into a moving box Minghao was forced to watch. The distant between them churned and messed up Minghao’s stomach so bad. The professor was long forgotten and Minghao’s brain tricked him; escorting him away from the lecture hall to a stinky cinema. The sight of the new man and Wen Junhui took up the screen. His legs were paralyzed as the scenes further unfolded.

 

 

 

“Hey, I’m Joshua and you?”

 

 

“…”

 

 

“You know; giving name won’t kill.”

 

 

“… Wen Junhui, Jun.”

 

***

 

If Minghao had to only have one thing he would always put his faith in, that thing would unquestionably be his string. Destiny shouldn’t be questioned and universe should be learnt; that would forever be what was ingrained in Minghao’s little mind.  People were just stars and cosmic dusts; used to make up the vast universe.

Yet, Joshua was rude; Minghao had concluded. His fist was clenching without him thinking. His knuckles turned white, nails started digging crescents on his palms as venomous hiss slipped off his lips. His heart burnt with jealousy and mind overran with complaints of ‘It should have been me’s.  

Joshua had kept taking the seat next to Wen Junhui; always so naturally jumped in there and soon marked it as his territory without much hindrance. Wen Junhui on the other side never chased the other man away like he should have done and from Minghao’s vision; started to loosen up instead which totally was unfair to him.

 

 

When would his soulmate take a pause and look at him?    

 

 

“You want some?” Joshua asked; hesitation and fear evident in his voice as he pushed a package of chewing gum for Jun. Both his shoulders were curled inward; giving out the illusion of him being smaller than he actually was. His doe eyes were so unsure he looked like a little kitten which had so unfortunately gotten soaked under the rain.

Wen Junhui didn’t take the gum directly. The action was subtle, but Minghao with his trained eyes could see him jerking up a little, his eyes widened for the briefest second before falling back to his seat. His lips and nose stiffly contorted, but his hand reached for the gum, and a smile soon followed rolling in; a smile so gentle Minghao had never once seen it. The corners of his lips rose and his usually knitted eyebrows unfurled, jaw slackened as a low murmur made its way out of his mouth, “Thanks.”

“Anytime.” Joshua replied. An oh-so-sweet smile spread on his face and Minghao swore he could feel a strong urge kicking by the back of his head; urging him to scrap that face off and tear it into nasty shreds he wouldn’t even want to spare a glance at. What pissed him even more was how clueless the innocent man was. Joshua still smiled and asked for Wen Junhui’s wrap so he could throw it for him.

Minghao would shred hi—

 

“Whoah, easy there…” A hand grabbed Minghao’s hand and forced him out of his judgment. His head whisked up to meet its owner; a boy with brown hair. Minghao didn’t remember having him there. It had even taken him some time to register that he was still indeed inside the lecture hall and was not being left alone to watch his soulmate bonding with some third party.

Back to the brown haired boy; Minghao realized he was holding his hand as if he was treating a porcelain doll. The first thing worth noted was the softness of his palm and the gentleness of his act. He had really carefully peeled Minghao’s fingers, taking out the pen from his grip and placed it next to Minghao’s book, working on rubbing Minghao’s palm next before setting his palm down on the table. A naughty cat like smile later pinned on his face.

 If it hadn’t been for Wen Junhui staying in the same room as him, Minghao would have had his breath taken by this boy. But, he shrugged the thought.

 

He wouldn’t betray fate.

 

“You nearly snapped the innocent pen into two!” The boy proclaimed. “I’m Dokyeom by the way,” he voluntarily supplied the unquestioned informa — Wait, did he just winked at Minghao?!

OMG! Thank God they’re still in the lecture hall! Minghao couldn’t imagine what he would have done to this boy if they weren’t; he might have thrown one or two goddamn table to his face by now! Minghao couldn’t believe he had just been winked at for god sake?! He sincerely wanted the boy away for good, but again; since when had this boy been here to begin with?! Minghao wanted to shout.

“Hey, shouldn’t you tell yours too?” The boy cocked his eyebrow.

Minghao couldn’t believe him.

The boy was too blockheaded for his own good.  A smirk played on his face instead before words — to Minghao’s horror — rolled off his tongue, “Okay, you don’t want to tell me yours; I can take it. So, does that mean you prefer me calling you ‘mine’? Or should I call you ‘handsome’ instead, hm? You decide.” God, his stupid smile and wink!

 

Minghao couldn’t help but slapped his face hard. He breathed a curse and finally noted; this year would undoubtedly be a long one. He was already tired before the fight.

 

***

 

Time proved Minghao to be true.  Only a week had passed yet Minghao felt like he already aged twice. If the last time Minghao had concluded Joshua to be rude, then this time around Minghao concluded Joshua and Dokyeom to both be rude; especially Dokyeom.

“What is there especially fascinating to see?” Dokyeom asked, peering at the direction Minghao was staring at from beside him. Granted, the boy had marked the seat next to his as his own ever since their fist conversation last week. And if Minghao was allowed to be really openly honest; there’s nothing more he would wish but stitching the mouth of this very boy beside him altogether to stop him for spewing out nonsense all the time.

Minghao only clicked his tongue in disapproval, hissing at the nasty sight before him. He had expected the reply to chase Dokyeom away, but to no avail; it got Dokyeom even more worked up to dig his nose instead. The boy squinted and Minghao rolled his eyes.

Ever since Joshua first offered his soulmate chewing gums, it became a routine for them to share gums every time the class was about to start. It irritated Minghao beyond belief to see their small talk, to be slapped in the face with truth that he was merely in outsider when truly it should have been him the one talking with Wen Junhui.

But, needless to say; Minghao still believed in fate. Fate would decide when it was best for them to talk. So, before fate interfered; he would just stay low and watched over his soulmate. He’d wait and wait because after all, Minghao knew; they were meant and bound for each other.

 

“What are you smiling at now?”  Dokyeom always had the best time to ruin moment; Minghao had learnt. The boy genuinely looked confused at the empty space ahead of Minghao’s empty book which wasn’t strange since no one can actually see the red string floating above it but Minghao.

Minghao chose to ignore him, managing only a snicker. The boy didn’t seem to be satisfied and it strangely was exhilarating for Minghao. He took his pen, ready to write down notes before checking his string one last time; expecting to get his heart warmth up again.

 Yet, to his dismay, what greeted him was instead dismissing his excitement altogether as if it was nothing; throwing it out of the window as his throat dried and his face paled.

 

 

 For the first time, it was Wen Junhui who first initiated the talk.

 

 

 “You kept on giving me gums. I feel bad.” The man scratched his nape; nervous. He looked up from under his bang and intertwined Joshua’s and his gaze together. The man cleared his throat and Minghao almost felt like his soul had started slipping out from his body. Now, his hand already took Joshua’s; evidently surprising the latter too. The next word, though, was what dreaded Minghao the most;

 

 “Let me treat you lunch today.”

 

Minghao might or might not have died on the spot. Good thing Dokyeom was bad at timing; he parroted the sentence beside him before dragging him all the way to the canteen. When he realized, Minghao was already pushed down onto a chair.

“Wait here. I’ll order for us.” Dokyem winked before fleeing out the scene; his tall body blending into the crowds. Minghao could care less.

His attention didn’t need a second to fly to the other part of the canteen, spotting the familiar checker board coat draping over his tall soulmate’s body in an instance who was currently having the best time of his life with a man who was not him. His heart turned sour at the picture.

Both men were standing side by side in a queue; without words. A blush was adorning Joshua’s face that Minghao couldn’t unlook.

His jaw clenched as the whole canteen gawked at them; especially Joshua.  As much as it wasn’t a common sight seeing Wen Junhui in the canteen, it was an even rarer sight to see someone standing so close beside the campus heartthrob; standing so safely without having to worry a single chance of him getting burnt.

The students were eyeing them as if they were a couple, which of course; they weren’t. It was obvious in Minghao’s eyes how some of the students were approving Joshua as the right man to stand beside Wen Junhui; taking photos of them and cooed at the photos. There were also some students who were backing away; stepping out from the competition even before they tested the water, which Minghao didn’t really know whether he should be happy or unhappy of. The only thing he knew being Joshua who had rudely taken the place that should have been his and his only.

Poison was spreading fast through his veins as both men reached their turn; with Wen Junhui looking so attentively at Joshua who was choosing his lunch. The man even brought it to himself to bring the tray for Joshua, choosing a seat at the farthest corner of the wide room; a more private space for them to talk comfortably without the canteen chaos.

 Minghao really felt like turning away and retreated to his sacred place.

But again, thanked God Dokyeom was good at timing. The boy strode in skipping his way just in time, sliding the tray in front of Minghao with a beaming smile that could compete with the sun. His mouth was stretched from ear to ear, gums showing like little kid who had just gotten his favorite toy from the McDonald’s Happy Meal. Foods were piling on high with Kimbap being the majority of it.

 Minghao didn’t even wait for permission to hurl his hand inside the mountain of food; letting himself be absorbed by his emotion as he dag in. He furiously stuffed his mouth and ate with no care, ignoring Dokyeom’s reaction at his blow up.

 The boy’s eyes only bulged; mouth hanging low as he comically bit into his own food. Disbelief being the only expression painted on his face. “I would have invited you sooner if I’d known you love Kimbap this much,” he mumbled.

 

***

 

The next few weeks shoved Minghao into a turbulence he wasn’t ready to get involved in. His soulmate and Joshua had become closer in a lightning speed; getting themselves into a state Minghao had never thought they’d reach. Minghao could almost no longer recognize his soulmate! So many sides of him had changed.

Wen Junhui now ate his lunch in the canteen, no longer having it in his secret piano room like he used to. The time he spent in that room became lesser and lesser which saddened Minghao when he realized how much he missed listening to those nice symphonies he used to listen every day. His side profile was also now more frequently out opened for Minghao to see as he turned to talk to Joshua. He smiled a lot more and seemingly; the bubble he’d built around himself had slowly dispersed as more people started to crowd around him. Minghao also noticed the accumulating days Wen Junhui spent no longer rocking his lavish coats.

 

Minghao loved it more when his soulmate wore coats.

 

Today; Minghao should finally be able to breathe in peace. Joshua wasn’t around latching over his soulmate and he could finally had the sight of his back all to himself, finally being able to watch him seriously jotted down note like the man he had admired who he hadn’t got much chance to see in the last few weeks.

But, no; note the word ‘should’. Minghao couldn’t breathe in peace; instead he might have been kind of hyperventilating by now. For all the nineteen years Minghao had spent watching over the thousands red strings, never did he once see such a strained string. It was strained to a point it became so thin and fragile. It also didn’t glow as bright when they were close like it used to. Instead, it glimmered in a really dull way; worrying Minghao he could almost piss himself on the spot. It got him checking their string more frequently now which also meant earning more confused stares from the boy next to him.

Surprisingly enough, Dokyeom still stuck around despite all the cold shoulder Minghao shoved him. The other boy only looked at the space across Minghao’s table and back to his face, repeatedly doing it for quite some rounds before his lips finally parted and his curiosity came out and about, “What exactly are you looking at? You’ve been looking at it for like days.”

“Something really important,” Minghao answered.

 

“What exactly because I can’t see anything!”

 

“That is; something you can’t see.”

 

Dokyeom only raised his eyebrows; understanding nothing but knew enough the fact that Minghao wouldn’t lead their conversation elsewhere. So, he dropped the topic and laid his head on the table, examining Minghao yet again only to sigh; noticing his eyes were trained only on the campus heartthrob. Dokyeom closed his eyes and huffed. He was soon harshly woken up when the door inhumanly screeched and a student stumbled inside.

Joshua forced the whole occupier of the hall to look at him, having cut the class’ serenity and barged in with a not-so-graceful entrance. His hair was all over the place which served as a telltale of how panic he had been, his loud pant echoed which told how frantic he had run earlier. It also wasn’t helping the fact that he had sweats rolling down his face.

Wen Junhui seemed to be pretty worried.

“I’m so sorry I’m late, Professor!” Joshua bowed a full ninety degree in front of the class.

 The professor only waved him off and dismissed the class altogether. The whole class went on uproar; chats quickly swarmed under the hall’s roof. Students packed in ruckus and left in a pack; Joshua being the only one left to trudge on the reverse direction. He fell square onto Wen Junhui’s opened arms which to Dokyeom’s surprise, got Minghao so worked up he suddenly banged the table.

His eyes darted on Minghao and he believed so did Wen Junhui and Joshua’s as the hall suddenly turned quiet Minghao’s pupils twitched and brimmed with what Dokyeom could only name as fear, panic, disbelief, terror, and everything bad. His hands were curled together and his feet slightly trembled, followed by his shaking shoulders. It was — to Dokyeom — told enough of how busy Minghao’s mind right now as the latter got the full attention from all the people left in the hall. 

He was just about to touch Minghao when the man suddenly shouted a loud ‘sorry’ before fleeing out the scene. Dokyeom grabbed their bag and chased after the man.

 

 

“You…okay?” Jun started, his hand still supported Joshua as the latter clung onto his arms. He was checking on the shorter male. He swiped some of Joshua’s bang while wiping his sweat; having the other male complies under his touch. “Why are you late, hm?” He asked.

Joshua stepped back a little to make some space between them, “I overslept.” Jun’s eyebrows immediately shot up. A smile tugged on his face as he further supplied, “I was making songs last night. I slept away and forgot to set my alarm. I hope I didn’t miss out many notes though.” He laughed.

Jun studied his answer for awhile before pointing at the bag slinging over his shoulder. “So, you play guitar?” a cat like smile curled on his face.

Joshua nodded his head in maybe a little too vigorous manner, pulling his guitar case down and massaged his shoulders after. Running all the way from his house with a huge guitar on his back wasn’t really the best choice; looking back at it. What he failed to notice, though, was Jun’s eyes which were now littered with tints of mischief and naughtiness.

A shriek left him the moment Jun suddenly grabbed his hand; dragging him away with his guitar case now on Jun’s back. The said man pushed a finger in front of his own lips, his tongue sticking out in a teasing manner as he smuggled them out.

 Joshua found no escape as he fought hard suppressing his smile. His cheeks heated up as his heart drummed a little louder. They ran and cut through the campus.  

Once they stopped, all Joshua could see was nothing but an old, abandoned room. Yet, the moment his eyes laid on the majestic piano, Joshua failed to hold his gasp: sinking onto his knees as he sincerely admired the black instrument.

Jun only smiled beside him before entering the room. The man pulled out a chair and cleaned it up, gesturing for Joshua to come with him, “Come, it’s my place. No one knows about this place.” His smile was a little too bright, a little too sweet, and a little too everything that oozing out of him and drove Joshua crazy for the man.

He obediently walked in and traced his fingers over the piano; heart was instantly attacked with fondness for the instrument. “How did you find — No, do you play music too, Jun?”

The said man nodded. “This –“ he patted at the piano “– is my instrument.” Proud was the only adjective Joshua could reckon from his face. “And also, my only friend here before you came sitting down next to me.”

 

“No way…” Joshua playfully countered.

 

“It was. I wouldn’t even eat at the canteen if it wasn’t for you who accompanied me. I used to always have my lunch here.” Jun chuckled. Joshua’s face was comical with his ‘o’ shaped mouth. “People might have even suspected me of being mute at some point. I hardly spoke before you; don’t even mention smile. Even having someone within an arm length was already quite some achievement back then, I think.”

 

“Oh my god, Jun, you’re so sad!” Joshua commented.

 

“I was; I’m just that awkward,” a laugh before Jun changed the topic. “So tell me, what do you do with the songs you wrote?” Jun asked, scooting over to give Joshua some space to sit.

 

Joshua took it like he usually did his seat at the lecture hall. “I volunteer at an orphanage and have the kids sing and dance to my songs. You know, they’ll sing and dance like the little joy they are. So cute, unreal, and happy,” He explained; voice singing song, legs dangling and swinging which Jun’s eyes didn’t fail to capture.

 Even when his gaze wasn’t on Jun, Jun could with no hesitation proclaim that there were stars in his eyes. He was so in his element it oddly messed with Jun’s mind.

 

“What about you?”

 

“Me? I just play; hobby, I think.”

 

Joshua’s face contorted upon the answer; his lips curved downward and a pout pulled on his lips. Jun only tilted his head in respond, copying Joshua’s pout as to mock the shorter male like it was the rightest and most natural thing for him to do. It got Joshua pouted even deeper to which Jun found it so hard to resist not to kiss. The thought surprisingly surprised him and settled him at the same time. Nonetheless, he decided figuring what Joshua currently wanted was far more interesting than thinking over the obvious.

 

“You shouldn’t just hide your talent all for yourself,” Joshua spilled out, his face brightened at his next sentence. “You should come with me! The kids will surely love you!”

 

And with all Joshua’s too close face, beaming smile, and crescent eyes; Jun freed himself. Instead of giving his answer; he brought his lips to Joshua’s, letting them meet for the briefest of time under the basking sunlight behind his piano. A perfect place to give away his first kiss with the first person who knocked him out of his shell.

Jun’s heart was then found bubbling with fulfillment and adoration as he stared down at the shorter male, staring at those clear wide orbs which seemed to have always seen the world in a little different shade, watching all the glitters and stars twirled inside them as he traced circles on the man’s cheek.

Joshua tensed up at the sudden act; his heart couldn’t believe what had just happened upon him. Only a whisper escaped him, “J — jun?”

The said man hummed, letting him know he was listened to. His eyes were filled with so much love it weakened Joshua’s legs and made him want to just melt in the man’s arms; complying with everything the man wanted out of him.

 

“Did you just kiss me?”

 

Jun only hummed as he nodded, giving his answer with no words as he led their forehead to meet.

 Their close to none existent proximity, Jun’s breath on his face, and also Jun’s fingers on his cheeks sent chills down Joshua’s spine. A disturbing urges kicking within his gut and told him to just seal the distance between them already.

 And as if Jun understood him, the man asked, “Can I kiss you again?”

His breath was fanning Joshua’s face, his hand held onto Joshua’s chin and set them to position with only enough inches not to let their lips touched as they talked. It got Joshua’s legs shaking and heart screaming; begging for him to just simply nod his head. He did. And, their lips crashed.

A firework shot and sparks were bloomed. An immeasurable feeling of content and satisfaction hit home as moan slipped off his tongue. The feeling of having Jun’s hand on his nape was so good that he was loving how in sync their heads were moving.

Jun gave him as much access as he needed and he loved how fast Jun was leading their kiss. Their tongue danced a routine Joshua didn’t know but knew enough how much he was wanted and thirsted at the moment. He wouldn’t even want to let go if only it wasn’t for their lungs that had been screaming for air for some good minutes already.

Thus, they pulled away and soon a loud ‘smack’ echoed through the room; causing them to cringe almost immediately but fell into laughter not long after seeing how swollen both their lips were. They let their forehead met once again as both went on admiring the blush coloring each other’s faces. Both breaths slowed down as time passed by.

Joshua was again the first one to break the silence like he was the one initiating their first talk. His breath was still falling short, “Does this make me your boyfriend?”

 

“Obviously, y—“

 

 

“NO!! IT DOESN’T!!”

 

 

The door flew open and in came an angry man; both recognized as someone from their class earlier, another man was behind trying to hold him back.

 Both men stood up with Jun pulling Joshua behind him. His face changed as he eyed the unknown men, “What are you doing here?!”

The angry man rebelled from his friend’s grasp and charged toward Jun, surprising Joshua who immediately flinched and clutched onto Jun’s shirt. The action seemed to provoke the man even more as he now grabbed onto Jun by his collar.

Jun hissed and yanked the man’s hands off him; the man’s friend also helped pulling his crazy friend away.

The poor friend was sent flying to the back of the room.

Joshua rashly fled to his side and checked on him; ignoring Jun’s call as he did. He even gave a smile for the man after finding no wound on him; forgetting about the fight for a moment.

 

“YOU ARE MY SOULMATE!! IT SHOULD BE ME WHO IS YOUR BOYFRIEND; NOT HIM!! IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ME YOU KISSED!! I’VE WAITED YOU ENOUGH, I CAN’T WAIT ANYMORE!!” The man shouted.

 

“THE F*CK WITH SOULMATE ARE YOU TALK — !!“

 

 When Joshua turned his head around, the first thing greeted him — to his horror — was his now-boyfriend being kissed by another man. He gasped as he watched Jun squeaked and pushed the other man hard. The next thing he knew; Jun had been dragging him out while cursing at the other man.

Jun’s voice blared in his ears, “F*CK OFF FROM ME AND MY BOYFRIEND, YOU CRAZY ASS!!”

 

Joshua’d never wanted to go home as much as he did that moment. 

 

***

 

“Stay away from me, Dokyeom! You’re just going to mess up whatever I’ll do!” Minghao whined. The other boy had been bothering him ever since he first arrived at the hall. It was still early and not much students had arrived. Minghao had particularly woken up and made sure he had gotten ready super fast to take the seat he was currently sitting on. He wouldn’t let Dokyeom mess up his plan after all the effort he’d put; especially, not with Dokyeom’s ridiculous reason! “If I want to sit here, I sit here. You f*ck off! This is Wen Junhui’s place!” He yelled.

 

“Whose place?” Joshua’s sweet voice was what interrupted their banter. The man came up with Wen Junhui beside him; hands laced together.

Minghao gritted his teeth at the sight. Wen Junhui was also clearly not pleased; he also had his teeth gritted.

Minghao wanted to snort at Joshua’s clueless face. Told ya; he’s supposed to be mine. He pushed Dokyeom away and gestured at the seat beside him; the seat Wen Junhui usually occupied. “Wen Junhui’s place; my soulmate’s,” he made sure to emphasize their status. A smirk decorated his face as he knew he was winning the battle. His devil horns might have just about to reveal themselves, Minghao mused.

 

“We can just sit at the back. Look; two rows behind, it’s empty.” Wen Junhui brought up their intertwined hands; using them to point at the chair Minghao and Dokyeom usually occupied for Joshua to know which chairs the man were saying. Joshua immediately nodded and both men left for the chairs.

Minghao could only deadpan as he watched his soulmate pulled out a chair for another man. His fists clenched as he watched the sweet exchange between the two men. His breath turned ragged as his soulmate leant in to accept the gum another man had fed into his mouth. His pupils quivered with anger and betrayal as he felt his heart one by one part being ripped and slaughtered; his soulmate should never be kissing another man’s hand, let alone staring at another man with those eyes of his.

 Joshua was rude and Minghao would never forgive him. His nails dag into his own flesh as students started to fill up the hall. But, Minghao was too busy staying at the stinky cinema he didn’t realize their presence.

Dokyeom only sighed before bringing his hand over Minghao’s eyes; gently pulling the hurt man down and patted his head. The latter then hid his face in Dokyeom’s chest until his shoulder quaked and Dokyeom could no longer identify whether he was muffling a cry or a rage.

 

He just let him be, “There, there.”   

 

***

 

Minghao wouldn’t have been as crazy as he was if he hadn’t seen what he saw. It was as if someone had just strode in recklessly and crashed his head numerously onto the wall; letting it bled and cracked. As if someone had just pried open his eyelids so his eyes could bulge out and take in a wider view of the world.

 Minghao felt like he was struck by a lightning in the daylight the moment he passed by his soulmate and Joshua. The grocery bag he carried made a loud thud as it fell onto the pavement. His jaw hit the ground hard as his mind met difficulties processing what he thought he’d seen.

 

 

New strings; a small yet glowing and beaming proudly around their pinkies, fluttering around as they walked, and actively squirming behind them as if they were seeking for each other.

 

 

The new string on Wen Junhui’s other finger glared at him as if it was mocking him who still held onto his dull one. Minghao would have been hyperventilating on the spot if only he hadn’t been as flared up.

New strings; was something Minghao had never seen. As long as he’d ever seen strings and believed in them, it never toyed with the only thing Minghao had so religiously put his faith in. There had never been cases on two strings on a person fingers. Thus, it didn’t require Minghao long to conclude that if he didn’t make any action fast, it would only be time until his string strained and finally snapped on its own.

Minghao didn’t want that. After all, who would want to lose one’s soulmate?!

So, Minghao ran. He ran and pushed past people, chasing after Joshua and his soulmate. His grocery’s long forgotten and his vision’s clouded by swarms of red strings. Different shade of reds were glaring and mocking his dull one.  His feet pounded against the hot asphalt as his eyes were set on the two male people were admiring.

They looked happy. Even from his place, Minghao could see Joshua’s faint blush and Wen Junhui’s proud smile. It made reasons for Minghao to speed up his pace. Especially, once Joshua and his soulmate were being ushered into the building.

Minghao couldn’t lose them! So, he stormed across the road, care less or the curses and screeching sound greeted him. He ran with no care because after all; his world had been deemed quiet ever since the moment he saw those two strings on his soulmate. His legs throbbed as his feet hit the hot asphalt; one of his slipper had long been lost somewhere when he pushed past people.

He was  already slightly wobbling when he reached the door; regretting his decision of not joining any clubs to maintain his physical durability. He banged on the door. His throat burnt with dryness.

A nun trudged out and opened the door for him.But, Minghao was too worked up to deal with her. So instead, he pushed the door hard and sent it flung open; slamming her flat onto the floor with a loud thud which grasped everyone’s attention. Murmurs and flock instantly filled the cramped space.

Minghao’s ability to hear the world also suddenly hurled back to him. It quickly paralyzed him as realization as to where he was dawned on him. Pairs of eyes landed on him; kids, nuns, Joshua, and lastly…

 

 

Wen Junhui.

 

 

“You…” Joshua trailed. His big eyes gawked at Minghao whose appearance wasn’t the slightest expected. His hand was slightly raised as he pointed at the new comer his fresh, blood-colored string glared at Minghao.

A striking reminder as to why he came here in the first place; refueling Minghao’s rage as he too, caught a glimpse of Wen Junhui’s hand snaking around Joshua’s waist he was some nasty animals Joshua must stay protected from. Well, good job, Soulmate; Minghao snickered. The action had just struck the right cord for him to finally be crazy enough to charge out of his position; aiming directly to Wen Junhui.

Joshua must have noticed this, “Wha—!!“

 

 

“STOP MESSING AROUND WITH ME, WILL YOU?! I’VE HAD ENOUGH TOLERATING YOU!” 

 

 

A punch hit his face as soon as he latched onto his soulmate. His lips didn’t crash onto his soulmate’s but instead his knuckles did, he didn’t taste his soulmate but instead did his own blood. He was bottomed; but not in bed and instead on the cold hard tiles of a small orphanage.

Minghao right away fought back; one hand pulling onto Wen Junhui’s collar while the other tried locking him down by the neck. To no avail, Wen Junhui was far stronger. One of his legs was already hooked around the stronger’s waist. Wen Junhui had now started to growl. But, Minghao wouldn’t waver. Both men wrestled as if they were in alone a ring; both had individual’s goals set in their minds.

 

A snapping Joshua being what stopped them, “WEN JUNHUI! I SAID; STOP!” His voice boomed louder than Minghao and Junhui remembered it could have ever been. But in it, there’s a quiver; a heartbreaking one that it knocked all Junhui’s senses back to him.

 Junhui let go of Minghao’s shirt and looked at his boyfriend. His blood rushed out of his body when he saw tears welling up Joshua’s pretty eyes. His strength and rage drained out like waves curling back to ocean and angry wolves that had gotten their pets.

Junhui stood up, “Josh – UMPH!!” A pair of lips crashed onto his.

A gasp, a smirk, and a wince; all mixed up together before Joshua dashed out, Minghao forced his way in, while Junhui struggled on pushing him.

 The moment Junhui succeeded, Minghao was thrown across the room. The nuns were screeching and kids scattered; the once peaceful atmosphere was gone and was replaced by a disgusting racket. Pretty much like dark clouds and heavy chemical dust that came and pushed the clouds and sun away above the sky of a once happy little village; the small orphanage was blown and wrecked.

Junhui only barked as he fled out, leaving everything behind him, “STAY OUT OF MY SIGHT, YOU SON OF A B*TCH!” The kids flinched but Junhui was too worked up to notice. His head was only filled with Joshua and his brimming tears only. He exited and chased after the man.

Minghao, wincing and grimacing at his now scrapped knees, didn’t waste long to jerk back on his feet. He too; flew out of the building and chased after his soulmate. He gripped onto his wrist and whirled him around. Fire flared in his eyes, “WHEN WILL YOU SEE ME?! I AM YOUR SOULMATE, NOT HIM!” He yanked up his and Wen Junhui’s wrist, “YOUR STRING IS ATTACHED TO MINE, NOT HIS! IT’S ME, IT HAS ALWays been me! Why can’t you just –  see?” He asked.

His heart truly had bled for too long, for too much; the stitches he’d sewn were too many they couldn’t hold up his ruptured heart anymore. The whole ordeal had been too much for his weak heart; finally deciding it was time to burst and just give in completely. His body was limp as he gripped onto Wen Junhui’s arms to support himself.

He was already tired; really, really tired. All he wanted was just getting what was his; nothing more and nothing less. What was so wrong about it? “I am the one the universe had decided for you, not him.” Minghao pleaded, freezing the time and Wen Junhui altogether.

 

The answer wasn’t what he’d expected, “You know what? Strings, soulmates, whatever craps you’ve been saying; F*CK THEM! There’s no such thing as universe deciding you for me; my life is mine and I’ll get what I’ve fought for! Joshua is the one I’ve decided for me and that’s what he’ll be! Now, let go –“

 

“NO, YOU’RE MINE AND MINE ONLY! WE’RE BINDED TOGETHER!” WHY COULDN’T WEN JUNHUI JUST SEE?! Minghao wanted to scream at his face.

 

His world shattered the moment Wen Junhui pushed his hands down.

 

 The ground beneath him split open and he fell right into its endless pit. Darkness swallowed him as white became the only thing ringing inside his ears; buzzing til his ears rang and bled.

 Wen Junhui’s eyes were colder than Minghao had ever witnessed them to be. They were finally looking at him; yet no, nothing but pure disgust was reflected from them. They stared at him as if he was nothing but a filthy animal.  This Wen Junhui could not be his Wen Junhui.

 

 

“If those strings and crazy theories of yours are the only thing you can hold onto whenever you said you love me, then I’m sorry; you don’t love me. Love is about heart. Strings and soulmates; they mean nothing if there’s no heart presents.”

 

 

With that, Wen Junhui went out of Minghao’s life; leaving him alone in the dark as the man chased his own light.

 

Minghao fell into his knees.

 

All this time; he truly had always been falling alone.

 

He walked away.

 

***

 

“M – Minghao?” Dokyeom stuttered. Blanket thick around him as he blinked his confusion; his face was flushed red as he peered from behind the door. The sky was having its own battle and storm was inevitable to devastate the land. Thunders were hammering with rainfall competing against their loudness. Dokyeom didn’t know how long they’d been, but he knew they’d been long enough to soak Minghao and messed him this bad.

His eyes were empty with no emotion as the man trudged inside Dokyeom’s dorm. They weren’t even seeing. Dokyeom could tell after the man shoved past him; heading straight to his study desk. He furrowed his eyebrows; Minghao was dragging his feet instead of walking.

The alarm inside his head blew off though once his eyes processed what Minghao was grabbing. In an instant, he was standing right beside Minghao whose whole body was racking. The sight toppled his heart and sent it gliding down to the pit of his stomach.

Minghao was tightening his grip on the scissor; holding his palm up to expose his wrist openly. His tears spilled as he watched his strained string slowly lost its color; turning from dim red to a disgusting black. A loud and painful wail broke from his aching throat, slicing through the heartbreaking rain.

 

 

He cut his string.

 

 

Dokyeom yelped, but Minghao strangely didn’t feel anything. The string broke and shattered like glass before it vanished into thin air.

Dokyeom pulled his hand and scanned over it, huffing out a loud sigh the moment he found no scar littering it. He, again, pulled Minghao into his chest; squeezing him hard, breath loudly realeased as he held the man, “Oh my god, you scared me so much!” He could no longer contain himself. He peppered kisses all over Minghao’s crown as his fever messed him up.

 

Minghao noticeably stiffened. “D – Dokyeom?!”

 

He only sheepishly smiled, “I’m sorry. I just want to tell you I’m always here.” His arms dropped to Minghao’s waist; now, wrapping around it.

 

That was the moment Minghao realized how red and hot Dokyeom’s skin were. He frowned at the temperature. Buds of sweat were already working their way down Dokyeom’s neck. The male’s clothes were slightly damped; maybe a mixture from colliding with him and the sweat he himself had produced. Minghao noticed the man wasn’t even that stable standing yet still managed on holding him.

 

Dokyeom still smiled.

 

Minghao was sent in trance by the smile. Had Dokyeom always been this smiley? Had he always been here? Minghao had never acknowledged him. Now, his heart also ached for the other male. How had Minghao treated him so bad? Dokyeom didn’t deserve any of his sh*t. He had been too blinded by Wen Junhui; ignoring and forgeting the one who had always stayed beside him.

 

Dokyeom was the one.

 

And before Minghao realized it, the next time Minghao saw his wrist after the sun had once again shone,  a new, faint, red string had appeared; dangling and squirming actively behind him. When he looked up at Dokyeom and saw the same string, Minghao’s smile spread.

 

 Dokyeom was smiling back at him; beaming even.

 

***