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Land Fishes

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Woosang comes to the beach at the persuasion of Wonil and Jungeun - "You love swimming," Jungeun had said (which is hardly true, considering it's more of his career than a hobby) and Wonil had added, "I'm going!" Not that that'd helped their case - well, Woosang supposes that if he had to pick someone to go to the beach with, it'd be Wonil. 

Wonil loves the water too much. Woosang doesn't know how he hadn't been in the water right away nearly a year ago, when he first came to school. 

Jungeun splashes him and, laughing, Wonil splashes back. Woosang stands with his hands on his hips at the shoreline, pushing back his still dry hair. 

"C'mon!" says Wonil. 

"Don't make us drag you," says Jungeun. 

"You wouldn't," says Woosang. "Also, you couldn't."

Wonil and Jungeun glance at each other, and then they're running right at him. Woosang tries to get away but Wonil is faster than the both of them, all long, flailing limbs, and practically tackles him to the ground. 

"C'mon - you - land fish!"

"Is that the best insult you could come up with?" Woosang, with a face full of sand, tries to crawl away. Wonil's got his hands on his ankles. 

"You're getting into the water!" he says. "You're always the first one during swim practice!"

"That's because I know how to swim in a pool!" says Woosang. "I don't know how to swim in the ocean."

"Lemme - show you!"

With a mighty heave, Wonil manages to push Woosang right into a wave - not quite off the ground, and making Woosang's entire front covered with sand. It quickly washes off as he gets hit by another wave, this time from the front. 

Jungeun's shrieking with laughter when he comes up for air. 

"You actually did drag me into the water," Woosang says incredulously. 

Wonil gives him a cheeky grin. "I keep my promises."

"Ah - "

Woosang dives at Wonil and it takes Wonil a few seconds too late to realize what's going on. The next minute, Woosang's wrestling him into the water, practically shoving his head down. 

"Uncle, uncle!" Wonil cries. 

*

They're staying at a love motel on the boardwalk. The receptionist had winked at Jungeun when they'd checked in last night, but now he just looks confused. 

 

They eat dinner at the seafood restaurant nearby.

"Ah, this fish isn't as good as your dad's meat," Wonil says, tearing their trout apart. 

Jungeun looks amused. "I'll be sure to tell him that when we get back."

Wonil points his chopsticks at her. "Don't. He'll hold it against me forever."

Woosang probably eats half the whole fish, and when they're done, Jungeun calls for an order of chicken feet. 

"You're disgusting," Wonil says, to Woosang's surprise. 

Jungeun laughs. "You're both weak," she says. "You'll never find a girlfriend this way."

Wonil and Woosang glance at each other. Jungeun still refuses to date either of them, and Woosang has been highly under the impression that she has something going on with her bandmates. 

When he'd brought it up with Wonil one day, Wonil had scoffed but wouldn't talk about it. 

Woosang decides to say, "Is this what you and Hanna do on dates?"

Jungeun tosses her hair back. "As a matter of fact, yes."

Wonil says, "Ah, we might as well eat one. Come on, Woosang."

He grabs a chicken foot from the plate with his fingertips. Woosang watches as Wonil carefully places it in his mouth, and starts chewing. 

"There're bones everywhere!" he says through his food. "How do you eat this?"

"That's what this is for, silly." Jungeun gestures to the bowl she's been spitting her bones into. 

"Eugh." Wonil puts what's left of his chicken foot on his plate. "Woosang-ah, here. You finish it."

Woosang sighs. "Your saliva's all over it."

"Scared of swapping spit with a man?" Jungeun teases. 

"It's not even swapping spit." Wonil has his elbows on the table, chin in his hands. "He'll just be tasting mine."

Woosang picks it up anyway, because he and Wonil have shared water bottles, and Wonil's eaten his unfinished ice cream before. 

He struggles eating the chicken foot, almost chokes on a bone. Wonil and Jungeun laugh. 

"I didn't laugh at you," he says to Wonil. 

"I didn't ask you not to," Wonil replies cheekily. 

When Woosang manages to finish - miraculously - Wonil asks, "Can we order a plate of beef, too?"

*

Woosang can't sleep, mostly because Wonil's next to him, snoring loudly. They'd ordered only one motel room, to save money, and Wonil had offered to sleep in the same bed as Jungeun until she'd shot his offer down. 

Woosang, of course, knew she'd refuse both of them. 

Wonil has too many angles that jab into him while he sleeps. Woosang tries to shove him away but somehow his attempts make Wonil move even closer. 

"Bothersome," Woosang mutters, pushing off Wonil's arm slung across his torso. 

Wonil sniffs, snorts, says, "Stop it."

"I'm not stopping." Woosang doesn't know if Wonil's conscious or dreaming but neither are an excuse to let him tug him closer. 

He tries to wriggle away but ends up on the edge of the bed. When Wonil goes for him again, Woosang flails and manages to fall off. 

"Ow," he says, crawling up. The floor's hard.

Wonil's sprawled across the entire bed. Woosang considers sleeping on the floor. 

But he supposes sleeping with Wonil's arms all around him would be less uncomfortable. 

"Ah, fine," he says to himself as he crawls into bed again. One of Wonil's arms is behind his neck while the other curls at his torso. 

As he falls asleep, he's sure he feels Wonil smile in his hair. 

*

He hardly remembers these details the next morning though. They go to the beach again, and Jungeun walks in the water but refuses to go any further than when it comes to her knees.


"You need to actually get in the water," says Woosang. 

Jungeun says, "You just want to see me in a swimsuit." 

Woosang sputters. "That's not true!"

"You wanted Woosang to get into the water but you won't even let it touch your knees," says Wonil. 

"You just want to see me in a swim suit too!"

Wonil and Woosang attempt to race, but the waves are too heavy and in the places that are calmer, there are too many children.

Wonil's hand gets stepped on by a toddler. 

"Ow!" he howls, so loud that the kid bursts out crying. 

Woosang stands up and goes over to him. "Look what you did," he says, pointing to the kid. 

Wonil's crying too, but Woosang knows it's fake. "Look what he did to me!"

The mother's getting her kid and glaring at the two of them. 

 

Woosang tsks but helps Wonil up. "I told you, we can't exactly swim here," he says.

"We can try!" 

Wonil runs into the ocean and gets knocked over immediately. Woosang tries to push back a laugh. 

Jungeun disappears as the sun begins sinking below the horizon. Woosang supposes she's gone back to their motel, or whatever; Wonil's having too good of a time trying to throw sand and water at him, and Woosang kicks back. 

"Are you asking for me to beat you up?" Wonil asks. 

"You couldn't beat me up if you tried."

Woosang takes that as a challenge and splashes at him. Wonil lets out a high-pitched shriek and tries running, kicking up the water as he does. 

People start leaving, as it gets darker. Woosang doesn't know how late it is, but Wonil tells him to help bury him in the sand at one point, and it's fun tossing sand at Wonil and have him cry out, "Hey, that almost got in my face!" every so often. Even more fun when Wonil says, "Thanks," and Woosang looks at him, amused, at Wonil's solitary head and lumps in the sand that are his body. 

Jungeun comes back, yells, "You guys are still here?"

"Yeah - ah!" Wonil shouts as a wave comes close enough to wash out the sand at his feet and legs. "What the hell?"

"I'll get more sand." Woosang starts down the beach. 

Jungeun giggles. "Don't you guys remember anything about the ocean? The later it is, the higher the waves. And the deeper the water."

"You're lying," says Wonil, but then another wave comes and washes away most of the rest of his sand. "Oh."

"You have sand up your shorts," Woosang comments. 

"I probably have sand up my butt." Wonil starts tugging at his trunks. "Can you check for me?"

Jungeun nearly falls over laughing. Woosang turns away immediately, his face heating up. 

"No!"

"I'm just teasing." When Woosang looks at him again, Wonil's sticking his tongue out. 

Woosang doesn't know what to say other than, "You're gross."

"I try to provide," says Wonil. 

*

They're here for the long weekend, and the love motel receptionist asks when they leave out for the beach again the next day, "You can't stay longer than two nights."

"Why not?" asks Wonil. 

"Did you see the sign? This is a love motel, and I'm sure you're not here for that purpose."

"We all love each other," Woosang puts in. "For the most part."

"This is all we could afford," Jungeun tells the receptionist. "C'mon, we're paying for all the days."

The receptionist eyes them. "You know what people think of you when they see the three of you here, right?"

"So what?" says Jungeun. "I'm not interested in either of these idiots, anyway."

Woosang glances at Wonil, who for some reason glances right back. Woosang turns away. 

The beach is less pestering than both the receptionist and yesterday evening. Jungeun at least wades deeper with them, in her tiny jean shorts and big white shirt. 

"Hey, Jungeun-ah!" Woosang kicks water in her direction. 

She shrieks and backs up into the drier sand. "If that's what you're going to do then I'm not coming in with you."

"You have to suffer with us!" Wonil splashes at her, too. 

Jungeun shrieks and kicks back. "You're bullying me," she says. 

Woosang kicks in Wonil's direction, to be fair. 

Wonil says, "Hey, I thought we were going against her!"

"Every man for himself." Woosang bends down to splash water with his hand, and Jungeun is kicking against the waves at Wonil, too. 

Woosang goes back to kicking water until he feels a sharp jab at his foot. He yelps and jumps up. 

"Woosang!" Wonil's eyes are big. "There's a crab on your toe!"

"Get it off!" Woosang cries out.

He hops toward Wonil and Wonil tries, but misses Woosang's foot and lands in the water. Woosang trips over him and then he's on Wonil's wet body, splashing sand everywhere. 

"Ah." Woosang tries to see his foot from around their mess of limbs. "I think it's gone."

"Good."

Woosang rolls off him and spreads his arms and legs out. Wonil does the same, stretching so that the back of their fingertips are brushing slightly. 

"Good weekend," Woosang breathes. 

"Fun weekend." Wonil chuckles. 

Jungeun comes running over to them. "You're both stupid," she says, as a particularly large wave crashes over them. 

Woosang shouts. 

Wonil says, "I got salt up my nose!"

*

They go to a bar for dinner, Jungeun's treat. 

Wonil sighs and says, "Aish, you know that I have a problem with alcohol."

"You mean you're just scared of doing something stupid and getting caught again?" Jungeun chuckles as she takes a sip from her bottle. 

"Don't make fun of him for it," Woosang says. 

Wonil gestures toward him. "Yah, see, he understands."

"Don't wave your hands at me." Woosang bats him away. 

Jungeun asks him, "Are you going to drink?"

"Maybe just one," says Woosang. 

Wonil watches as Woosang grabs a bottle. "Fine, I will too," he says. 

"You don't have to do everything I do," says Woosang. 

Wonil sticks his tongue out. "I'm not. It's not fun watching you get drunk without drinking myself."

"I'm not going to get drunk," says Woosang. 

*

He doesn't, but Jungeun does so much that she sings loudly, ends up climbing on their table to sing even more, and then passes out after Woosang and Wonil's long attempts to pull her down. 

She's faceplanted on the table. Wonil's on the edge of tipsy, perhaps almost drunk. Woosang's only on his second bottle. 

"Ah, you're a lightweight, aren't you?" asks Wonil. 

"Aren't you?" Woosang gestures toward him. Wonil's on his fourth. 

Wonil laughs, swaying. He rests his head in the crook of his elbow. 

"You're so pretty," he says. "Too pale."

"You're definitely drunk," Woosang decides. 

Wonil laughs again, shrugs. "So pale," he says. "Too pretty. Why don't you have a girlfriend yet?"

"Why did Jungeun get girlfriends before us?" Woosang says. 

Wonil glances at their third companion, who probably has spots of alcohol in her hair now because of the table. "You're probably right," he says. 

Woosang puffs. "I know I'm right."

Wonil giggles and touches one of Woosang's cheeks. "You're not that pale," he says. 

"I just thought you said I was."

"Not now," says Wonil. "You look all... pink."

"Ah."

Wonil's moved closer. His knees are knocking into Woosang's. When Wonil reaches over to poke Jungeun, his elbow brushes across Woosang's chest. Woosang feels his own hands and face get warm. 

"Hey, Jungeun-ah," Wonil says. "Jungeun!"

"She's gone," says Woosang. "We should get back to the motel."

"And leave her here?"

"No, dummy." Woosang tries to hit Wonil's head and misses. Maybe he's drunken more alcohol than he thought. 

He lifts up his bottle. It's empty. 

"Then what?" asks Wonil. 

"We get her back," says Woosang. "All of us."

They walk back with Jungeun's arms around their shoulders. Woosang's wrist brushes against Wonil's shoulder the whole way there, and Woosang tries not to think too much about it. 

*

He attempts to go to sleep but his mind is fuzzy and demands to be kept awake. Woosang falls asleep eventually, thinking too hard about Wonil's heavy breathing next to him. 

When he wakes up later, Wonil's gone. 

The bedside clock says it's five am. They'd gotten back at midnight; Jungeun's still conked out the next bed over. Woosang looks for a pair of clean shorts but ends up finding his swim trunks on the floor. He tugs them on instead. 

The usual noodle place they go for breakfast isn't open yet, so Wonil isn't there. Woosang wanders around the boardwalk, until his eyes catch someone in the water.

"Wonil?" he shouts from the shoreline. 

The figure doesn't respond, but they do turn around. 

"Wonil!"

Woosang tears down the beach, throwing his shirt off along the way. When he gets into the water he starts swimming; he can recognize Wonil's posture from several meters away. 

"No hangover?" is the first thing Wonil asks when Woosang makes it over to him. 

"Ah - you had me worried there!" Woosang splashes him. 

Wonil grins. "You were worried about me."

"Of course I was, idiot!"

Woosang tries to hit him upside the head but ends up splashing water on the both of them. 

"I couldn't go to sleep," Wonil says over the waves. They crash every so often. 

"Neither could I," says Woosang. "Your solution is to come out and swim?"

Wonil nods. 

Woosang sighs; at least the sea is calmer, higher. He supposes he likes the morning tide. 

"Let's swim then," he says. 

He starts off in freestyle and Wonil follows. Every so often they have to pause, to let the ocean fly over them. 

Wonil is bright in the sun. 

"Woosang-ah," he says during one of their pauses. "Do you want to take a break?"

"We take a lot of breaks," says Woosang. "Let's keep going."

They do, and Woosang tries to make sure he and Wonil don't collide. The water is already pulling them in the opposite direction, as it does, and his freestyle is only so strong. 

A wave comes and drags him under; he squeezes his mouth shut and starts back upward. As soon as he gets up, another wave sends Wonil crashing into him. 

"Ow!" Wonil says. Woosang's shoulder hurts, and Wonil's body bumps into him again. 

He can feel Wonil's arms, thighs against thighs. 

"Ah," Wonil says, hair sticking to his face. A small wave passes through. 

Woosang makes a quick decision and closes the gap between them. 

Wonil's lips are dry, probably because he bites them so much, and he's warm and his tongue is too close to his lips and he tastes like salt and soju under his teeth. He kisses back, their mouths the only thing touching until Woosang brings him closer, puts a hand at Wonil's back. 

Their thighs brush again, and this time Woosang slips a knee between them. He can feel Wonil's erection through his trunks. 

"Shit," Wonil says when they pull away. 

Woosang kisses him again because he needs to taste Wonil again. He opens his mouth and Wonil lets go. 

"There's so much sand in my shorts," he says. "We can't do this here."

"Why not?" One of Woosang's hands has found its way to Wonil's behind. Wonil squeaks when he squeezes. 

"Unhygienic," he says. 

Woosang laughs. "You sound like me."

Wonil pouts. "Isn't that the goal?"

Woosang kisses his cheek. "Not really," he says. "We should go back and shower."

*

They do, and Wonil says, "I didn't expect you to like me this much either," and Woosang says, "I don't really have a choice when it comes to you."

Toweling each other off leads to kissing, and then they're stumbling out of the bathroom with Woosang's mouth on Wonil's collarbone. His own erection pressed through his towel. 

"Is she asleep?" Wonil mutters to him, and Woosang nods. 

They start for their bed, until Jungeun's muffled voice comes, "You are not having sex while I'm in the room."

"You sound tired," says Woosang from Wonil's shoulders. 

"Maybe you should go back to sleep," says Wonil. 

Jungeun doesn't lift up her head when she throws a pillow at them. "Go make out in the ocean," she says. 

"Already did." Wonil sounds too proud of himself. 

Jungeun sighs. "Fine, fine, you win," she says, climbing out of bed. "If you need me, I'll be eating breakfast and nursing a hangover."

"We won't be needing you," says Woosang. He's just finished sucking a hickey on Wonil's neck. 

Wonil giggles as Woosang slips his fingers under his towel. 

"Good to know," says Jungeun, but Woosang's hardly paying any attention to her anymore. He clutches at Wonil's hair, watching his dark and happy eyes. 

"What?" Wonil asks. 

Woosang doesn't answer, just kisses and lets himself sink into Wonil, and swim.