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runaway baby

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ONE.

Looking back, it all begins one dismal Thursday morning during Seungyoun’s third semester at Seoul National University. At the time, he’s hauled himself out of bed at an ungodly hour so he could snag a nice table in the library, determined to commit to his promise to actually study this year. Which he would be doing if his brain manages to wake up any time soon. As it stands, all he’s done is crack open his folders and stare blankly at the lecture notes they keep safe.

“I just drank a cup of black coffee and walked up two flights of stairs,” Jinhyuk announces, collapsing on the chair opposite Seungyoun. He pays no attention to the nearby sign that advises all students to keep their voices down. “I’m not out of breath, but my heart’s beating really fast and I genuinely think I’m about to die. I’m really scared, guys, I don’t know what to do.”

Seungyoun can only blink at him.

To his left, Wooseok glances up from his sketchbook and smiles sweetly. He takes his boyfriend’s hand in his and gently squeezes. “Leave everything to me in your will,” he suggests.

“I’m being serious.” Jinhyuk pouts.

“So am I, baby.”

Not for the first time, Seungyoun wonders how they so easily manage to behave like no one else is in the room. It’s like he doesn’t even exist. “Ew,” he says with exaggerated disgust. “Please hold back from using any and all pet names when in public. I’d like to get through this semester without feeling sick, thanks.”

“Might want to avoid the mirror then,” Wooseok says swiftly.

“Shut up, Satan,” he shoots back. “Not all of us can walk around looking like an SM idol.”

“Well, I can’t help it if I’m blessed with – “

“Oh God, my heart’s literally pounding in my chest like it’s a bloody bird trying to escape,” Jinhyuk interrupts loudly. The girl at the next table over hisses at him to shut up which he promptly ignores. “Fuck my life, I’m going to die. This is why I never drink coffee. I knew I shouldn’t have betrayed my body like this, I just knew it.” He presses his free hand against his chest in fear. “Do you think Professor Kim will let me pass Algorithms and Imperative Programming if I die?”

“Babe, it was literally one cup of coffee,” Wooseok says. “You’re going to be fine.”

“But my heart – “

“It’s probably just beating fast because I’m here,” says Seungyoun, throwing his most roguish smirk across the table. Wooseok kicks him in the shin. He hastily amends, “Or because of your boyfriend. Whatever. That works too, I guess.”

“That’s a great idea, Seungyoun!” Wooseok exclaims before turning to Jinhyuk with a smile that’s much more genuine in its cheer. He flutters his eyelashes like a demure doll. “Are you sure it’s not me causing this reaction?”

Once again: Seungyoun’s going to be sick.

Fortunately, Jinhyuk appears to be too preoccupied with his body freaking out on him to flirt back. “I genuinely think I’m about to drop dead in about five seconds,” he despairs.

“Well, that’s unfortunate,” Byungchan chimes in, popping up behind them from out of nowhere, “seeing as how I wanted to introduce you to my new friend.”

Much to the displeasure of their neighbouring students, Seungyoun screams. Of all people, he’s the one who really shouldn’t be so caught off-guard by people seemingly appearing out of thin air, but Byungchan is just so freakishly light on his feet that he can’t help but react. The younger boy always manages to sneak up on people without anyone noticing and it’s terrifying. He must get some kind of sick kick out of it, the twisted bastard.

“Byungchannie, how many times do I have to tell you to stop creeping up on people like that?” Seungyoun exclaims, whirling around to glare at him and add, “One of these days, you’re going to – “ He cuts himself off like a sudden power outage.

Byungchan smiles down at him with an angelic beam he doesn’t trust in the slightest. “I’m going to what?” he prompts.

He doesn’t even remember anymore. All words, all common sense has fled from his memory. All that’s left there, in blaring neon letters that stand fifty feet tall, is the word wow. Wow. Wow. Byungchan’s new friend is… Well, he’s wow. How? His barely functioning brain can’t take it this early in the morning.

“I,” he stammers. “I’m. Um, I… Hm. This – this is your new friend?”

“Yup.” Byungchan throws in some jazz hands as if to say ta-da! He slings an arm around the cute guy and pulls him in close. “This is Hangyul. We met a couple of weeks ago in the dance studios and I’ve now decided to make him part of our gang gang. Say hi.”

“Hi,” Wooseok says in that prim and proper way of his he adopts whenever he’s confronted with something new and unfamiliar. “Nice to meet you.”

“Why were you in the dance studio?” Jinhyuk asks instead. “You can’t dance.”

“How would you know?” Byungchan says defensively. “Maybe I’m a prodigy at it. Maybe I’m secretly b-boying and none of you know it. Maybe I break out the tap shoes once in a while.”

“You literally have chronic Achilles tendonitis, dipshit.”

At that, Byungchan’s cute friend – the one who has broken Seungyoun’s brain, the boy who drips of wow, beautiful beautiful Hangyul – lets out a surprised laugh. It’s deep and breathy and sends a hot spark right down to the bottom of Seungyoun’s stomach. Even his laugh is gorgeous. Seungyoun’s already half in love.

“I like your friends,” Hangyul tells Byungchan warmly.

I like your face, Seungyoun thinks.

A short silence ensues. Hangyul’s eyes dart over to him, cheeks darkening slightly, and the little demon to his left smirks, dimples deep in his cheeks. Seungyoun realises he must’ve said that out loud just as Wooseok kicks his shin in reprimand once again and his boyfriend stifles a snort. The silence abruptly feels a lot longer; the awkwardness in the air turns it unbearable.

“Um, thanks?” Hangyul says uncertainly.

Red explodes across Seungyoun’s pale features.

“Uh,” he says, voice even more nasal in his embarrassment. He cringes. “No – no problem. You’re welcome.” Without a second’s thought, he slings his bag onto his shoulder and gathers his things from the table, loose sheets slipping to the floor. Fuck his promise to study harder this year, he needs to leave right now before he makes things worse. “Uh, I should – I should go, I have a class to get to. You know what they say: Instrumental Composition waits for nobody! Uh – bye!

He scrambles for the nearest exit, ducking his head in shame and avoiding eye contact with anybody who might’ve witnessed the humiliating exchange. As he leaves, he hears Hangyul ask someone whether everything’s okay with him.

“Oh, Seungyoun?” Wooseok replies. “He’s always like that. Likes to get to class forty minutes early, you see.”


Later that evening, Seungyoun is still mourning the death of his dignity as he eats a tuna and sweetcorn sandwich on top of a skyscraper. His legs dangle over the side, red and blue spandex suit clinging to the muscles in his calves like a second skin, and he idly muses whether falling from this height would provide enough force to wipe the entire traumatic experience from his memory.

He can’t believe that he actually said something so embarrassing out loud. It’s not like he’s a stranger to doing stupid things – he’s always been alright with poking a little fun at himself if it means getting a few laughs from his friends. But to do it in front of someone so new and cute and apparently accepted as part of their “gang gang” (if the selfie Wooseok took with Hangyul and then texted directly to him says anything)? It’s mortifying.

(For the record, Seungyoun didn’t reply with anything other than a flippant fuck u but perhaps he studied the picture for longer than he cares to admit.)

As if merely thinking Wooseok’s name summons him, the A.I in Seungyoun’s suit – a savvy little thing by the name of Sunho – suddenly speaks up to inform him of an incoming call from the boy in question.

“Hi loser,” Wooseok says after Sunho puts him through. “You still on patrol?”

“Sort of,” he replies. “I’m eating a sandwich in my suit.”

“The city of Seoul thanks you,” he says sarcastically. There’s rustling on the other end of the call as Wooseok adjusts his position. “Make sure you drop by my apartment when you’re done. I have your Intermediate Study in Musicology booklet from when you ran away this morning. You need it for tomorrow afternoon, right?”

“I didn’t run away,” Seungyoun protests. “I made a tactical retreat. There’s a distinct difference.”

“Really? Because I find both hilarious. I particularly liked how you tripped over the doorstop on your way to the stairs. Are you sure Lee Dongwook has the right superhero?”

“You’re just jealous,” Seungyoun informs him. “I know it’s hard knowing you’re not as cool as me, but that’s fine. Not everyone can be Spiderman.”

A scoff echoes down the line. “Yes, you’re right. Spiderman was very cool today when he told Byungchannie’s new friend that he likes his face and then proceeded to run away three seconds later. That’s the word I’d use to describe him. Cool.

Don’t,” he groans. “Please don’t. I’m embarrassed enough as it is.”

“It was all very smooth, I’m sure Hangyul was very impressed. Do you think he’d be more impressed if he knew it was the infamous Spiderman of Seoul who was drooling over his face? Or would that ruin the mystique of your skin-tight blue and red Halloween costume?”

“Don’t you dare.”

Wooseok laughs, short but bright. “Relax. I’m not going to tell him. What do you think I am?”

“Well, you told Jinhyuk,” he points out.

“That’s because I’m in love with him,” he says very matter-of-factly. It amazes Seungyoun how he can say such sappy things without cringing – but then again, he doesn’t think he’s in much of a position to judge today. “And we live together. How was I meant to hide the fact that my best friend is Spiderman when he’s always swinging by our place so I can patch him up when he’s injured? Say it’s really intense LARPing or something?”

“You know, that’s not a bad idea…”

“He already knows, Seungyoun.”

“Damn it.”

“Damn it, indeed,” Wooseok agrees, sounding very much like he thinks the opposite.

Whatever. No matter how much the other denies it, Seungyoun knows he told the secret mostly because Jinhyuk was obsessed with Spiderman and his crime-fighting ways. When he found out that it’s really just his dorky friend, he dropped that crush faster than a hot potato much to Wooseok’s visible pleasure.

“Anyways, make sure you come and pick your notes up for class. We’ll probably have some leftover naengmyeon Changhyun dropped off that you can eat as well.”

“Ooh Changhyun’s cooked it?” Seungyoun exclaims. “I’ll be there in an hour.”

“Stay safe,” he says.

After the call ends, Seungyoun carefully wraps the rest of his sandwich – now suddenly looking a lot more pathetic in his hands – in the cling film he packed it in earlier and tucks it into his backpack. He rises to his feet, careful not to prematurely slip over the edge of the building and pulls his mask over his face. Gone is the strange hybrid of Music Composition undergraduate Cho Seungyoun and local superhero Spiderman; now he is just the latter, staring out at the sprawling city of Seoul.

It teems with life beneath him, streets upon streets of people good, bad and ugly. It’s impossible to keep track of all of it by himself – that’s for the big fish like Lee Dongwook and Kwon Bo-ah – but he’s here to help out with the littler grievances that tend to get overlooked in the busyness of the bigger picture.

“Come on, Sunho,” he says to his suit, stretching his arms out above his head. “Let’s see what Seoul has for us this evening.”

“Preparing to jump,” Sunho confirms.

A grin spreads across Seungyoun’s face – and then he lets himself fall.


The music building at SNU is an ugly thing for a place that houses such creativity. It sits squat and blocky, a dark foreboding brown against the pale background of the sky. Inside is much friendlier; bright displays and a comfortable recs area cheerily welcoming all students and visitors. Seungyoun’s favourite part of it is the collection of vending machines lined up for his service. Or, at least it is when they’re actually working.

“Damn it,” he hisses, watching his kkokkalcorn shimmy forward a feeble centimetre or two before it shudders to a stop. He raps on the glass. “Fall, you piece of shit. I paid good money for you.”

The kkokkalcorn makes no move to do so.

He takes a deep breath through his nose, screwing his eyes shut in an effort to summon all of his patience. Usually, he wouldn’t be this irritable over a single snack (that’s a lie – he probably would be since he’s already coughed up his limited student allowance for it), but he’s had a long day of lectures and his tutor in Instrumental Composition told him that Seungyoun’s melody is both contrived and uninspired, so he’s not in the brightest of moods. And he really just wants to eat his kkokkalcorn in misery.

“I am not leaving until I get you,” he says, opening his eyes to glare at the snack. Taking care to temper his strength, he wraps his arms around the vending machine and jostles it just enough so that the kkokkalcorn should fall. It refuses to budge. “Oh, come on! Can’t you just fall goddamn it! I just want to shove you into my mouth!”

He punctuates this with a vicious shake and still, it doesn’t move.

Seungyoun tilts his head up to look at whatever deity is surely laughing down at him. “Whoever thinks this is funny can literally suck my dick dry,” he declares. “I don’t give a shit anymore.”

“Um, are you… okay there?” someone asks.

Under normal circumstances, the sudden question might cause Seungyoun to leap up with a startled scream (especially if the voice belongs to Byungchan).  But this time, the voice freezes his bones in place, even though it is nothing but husky and warm. Because that’s not just any voice; that’s a voice Seungyoun has committed to memory, even after only hearing it speak a handful of words. That’s a voice that can melt butter on a wintery morning, that darkens his cheeks like a maid in the early spring. It drips of wow.

Literally why does this have to happen to him.

“Uh,” Seungyoun says, still facing the vending machine. His voice already starts to climb high in his embarrassment. “Yes, I am. Just peachy, in fact!”

What the fuck.

Peachy? Who even uses that word in the 21st century? God, if Wooseok ever hears about this, he’ll never let him live it down.

“Really?” Hangyul says a bit hesitantly. “Because… you’re kind of hugging a vending machine?”

“Yes,” he says. “Yes, I am. Fantastic things, really – vending machines, I mean. They deserve a hug every once in a while, let’s us show our appreciation for the technology we are so lucky to have been bestowed with.” Honestly, why is he allowed to speak? Seungyoun can feel his face getting redder by the second, but his mouth keeps prattling on without a care. “Technology’s great, don’t you think? I’m so glad we have the opportunity to access technology like this. I mean, it’s so fortunate we were both born in Seoul! Who knows what we could’ve gone through otherwise?”

Hangyul chuckles, a soft breathy sound. “Who knows?” he agrees. “You might’ve had to actually go to a shop for your snacks.”

“Exactly! It’s so much more convenient to use a vending machine instead.”

“You’re right,” he says. “Interesting way to use one though: hugging it, I mean. Never seen that one before. Uni really does teach you new things.”

Oh right. Seungyoun still has his arms wrapped around the damn thing. Coughing hastily, he lets go of the accursed vending machine and takes a couple of steps away, only to have his back collide with another body. Hangyul’s arms shoot out to steady him, hands light on his waist, and he almost melts right there and then. He settles for muttering an apology instead.

“No problem,” the younger says easily. He (unfortunately) lets him go, brushing past him to survey the display of treats. “It’s Seungyoun-ssi, right?”

He nods an affirmative.

“We didn’t really get to talk the other day,” Hangyul says, as if the mortifying memory of their first meeting isn’t burned into Seungyoun’s brain regardless. “It was nice to meet you though.”

“You too.” Seungyoun offers him a small smile, hoping it doesn’t come off nearly as awkward as he feels. “Sorry I couldn’t stick around, I was just…”

“Late for Instrumental Composition?”

Sure, let’s go with that.

Hangyul nods understandingly, still studying the vending machine. As he begins to feed it some fresh money, he says, “It’s a shame we didn’t get to hang out. I would’ve liked to get to know you more. You know, since you’re Byungchan’s friend and all.” He jabs a button and then turns to smile at Seungyoun, a curve that’s soft and entirely too lovely for his heart to deal with properly. “I guess we’ll have more chances in the future since he’s kind of adopted me.”

“Him and Wooseok,” Seungyoun says. “Which means Jinhyuk will start babying you in approximately three seconds.”

A KitKat falls from its perch on the other side of the glass. The kkokkalcorn that’s been taunting Seungyoun follows suit. Hangyul collects both and then hands the second over to him, looking up at him with warm eyes.

“And you?” he asks in that soft murmur of his. “Will you be babying me?”

Red immediately flushes Seungyoun’s face. “I – Sure,” he manages, too shy to meet his gaze. “I – I should probably go now though.”

And for the second time in as many meetings, he runs away.


In his last year of high school, a spider bit Seungyoun. All in all, the experience wasn’t the most pleasant – turns out a radioactive bite is actually pretty painful, so his body freaked the fuck out on him for a good few days while it adjusted to his brand new capabilities. Plus he ended up in a few near-death experiences when testing them out.

But he turned out okay!

He graduated with good grades, decided to use his superpowers to help people that the police either  couldn’t or wouldn’t aid, and then ended up trending on Naver multiple times for his efforts.

A lot of the older generation disapproved of him and his “rebellious, vigilante” ways, claimed that he was promoting the wrong message to the youth of today, but public opinion of him was generally positive amongst his peers. ‘Spiderman’, as he quickly became dubbed after being videoed swinging through Seoul’s skyscrapers using his strings of web, was getting stuff done; a nice change of pace in a time where corruption was being ruthlessly exposed everywhere.

Even now Seungyoun likes to think his little acts of help make a real difference. Sure, he might not be saving the world like Lee Dongwook (although he would like to humbly point out that Lee Dongwook actually knows his real identity and supports his plight), but even just helping a seven-year-old boy find his missing dog counts as a win in his book. He doesn’t need to save the world to make it a better place for some people. His dad taught him that back when he was still a little boy; he likes to live by those words every day.

So here Seungyoun is nearly two years later, patrolling through Itaewon in his “Spidey Suit” as Wooseok likes to put it. In general, Seoul’s a pretty quiet city in terms of crime compared to, say, how São Paulo was back in the day, with Itaewon merely the slightly worse of a good bunch. Which means he’s not expecting much more than the odd pick-pocketer tonight.

Meandering through the city’s rooftops, he hums a rough melody he’s been working on for class.

“Alright, Spiderman?” an American soldier shouts up at him in English as Seungyoun jumps the gap between two buildings. “How’s Itaewon holding up tonight?”

He pokes his head back over the edge. “It’s doing great,” he calls back in the soldier’s mother tongue. “Make sure you have a safe night.” He sticks his thumb up to convey the grin that his mask hides.

As he strolls away, he hears the soldier mutter to his companion, “Cool guy, isn’t he? They don’t make them like that no more in Dallas.” The reply he receives melts into the rest of the night’s noise as Seungyoun moves further away from the pair.

After patrolling some more blocks with nothing eventful happening, Seungyoun decides he’s in dire need of some fresh conversation. It’s nice to be the friendly neighbourhood Spiderman, it really is, but it’s also awful lonely sometimes. And he can’t always rely on calling Wooseok through his suit to keep him company.

“Hey, Sunho?” he says, waving to a little boy who points excitedly at him from below. The boy’s mother ignores his frantic tugs in favour of examining a sale of spices at a stall. “If people like Thor exist, do you think mermaids might be real? I mean, he’s from another dimension and he’s real so it has to be possible right?”

There’s a faint whirring as the A.I in his suit turns on. Moments later, Sunho’s voice replies, “It is conceivable, yes. It is estimated that humans have explored just 5% of the earth’s oceans, meaning that it is possible for mermaids to exist and live within the 95% that has been left unexplored. Furthermore, Naver indicates that mermaids have appeared in the folklore of numerous cultures across the world; this popularity indeed suggests that there may be some truth to their existence due to the persistence and spread of the mythology.”

Daebak.

“Daebak,” Sunho echoes. Somehow, there’s a hint of amusement in the A.I’s agreement.

A thick streak of spiderweb shoots out of the tips of Seungyoun’s wrists, attaching to the building that towers before him. He takes off at a run and then the ground falls away beneath his feet, leaving nothing but air. He can’t help but whoop, never sick of the rush of adrenaline that comes with freefalling only to propel himself through the city. Things are so much more exciting when you can travel this way.

“So Sunho,” he says as he flies through Itaewon, “I was thinking of hitting up some of the residential areas to make sure that things are okay before I head home. We should be done pretty soon, don’t you think?”

“As you wish,” the A.I. says primly. “Remember to stay quiet in the residential areas. It is getting late and tomorrow is a school day. Many of the commenters in the 30-40 age group wrote noise complaints on the video of you in Gangnam last month.”

“Ugh, they would. Rich people just don’t know how to live. But yeah, whatever, I’ll stay quiet and mysterious.”

“You are not particularly mysterious,” Sunho refutes. “According to Kim Wooseok, you are both ‘lame’ and a ‘loser’.”

Quite rightly offended, Seungyoun yells a protest about how that’s a lie and Wooseok is never to be trusted. When Sunho states that he will input said information into the system and notify Lee Dongwook of the news, he hastily backtracks. Jesus Christ, he can’t put his best friend on the Avengers’ hit or shit list, annoying though he may be. Imagine how disastrous that would turn out. Especially because he lowkey feels like Wooseok could take down a few of the team with him. He might be short, but the boy’s a force to be reckoned with.

The busyness of Itaewon’s centre dissolves the further Seungyoun travels from it. This area of the city is calm and hushed, the streetlights and windows twinkling beneath him in a pretty display. He tends to feel weird travelling in these neighbourhoods, more like he’s a boy playing dress-up than a legitimate superhero, but the sights make up for it. This is his city, after all. In the daytime, he blends into the teeming mass in the streets; at night, he protects it.

Seungyoun is just about to open his mouth to confirm that things really do seem quiet tonight when his ears pick up what can only be described as a distressed squeak from down below. He frowns, coming to a muffled stop on the roof of a nearby house. The noise appears to have come from the alleyway beside it. When he peeks over the edge, he spots a baby-faced boy anxiously backing up against the wall as three figures approach him.

“Alright, you little freak,” the one in the middle says, “you should’ve known that if you’d told Mrs Kang about what I did to Jinwoo, I’d be coming after you next.”

“I – I didn’t tell anyone,” Baby Face says. If Seungyoun were to measure him, he’d place him at a height that towers over the main aggressor, but the way he cowers is pretty convincing at suggesting otherwise. “It wasn’t me, I swear.”

“Then who was it? Give me a name and I’ll think about letting you go.”

Baby Face hesitates before he clamps his mouth shut. The message is apparent: he won’t be throwing anyone under the bus tonight. Seungyoun can’t help but respect him for it.

Clearly, the other boys don’t share the same attitude. “You’re not going to talk?” the short one says dangerously. He takes another half-step forward. “You do know what that means, right?”

“I-I didn’t even do anything.”

“I don’t care,” he barks. “Someone did and now I’ve been suspended for a week. That’s on my permanent record, you little freak. Which means that for the next week, I have plenty of time to beat you up.”

And that’s Seungyoun’s cue. Soundlessly, he drops down from the roof and lands in a crouch behind the trio of aggressors. If it’s possible, the eyes on Baby Face grow even larger in shock, having been the only one to have witnessed his arrival. The others soon find out though when Seungyoun coughs loud and clear to announce his presence.

“I really don’t think you’ll be doing that,” he says as they whip around at the sound.

The shock on the boys lasts for a handful of moments. After all, it’s really not a regular occurrence to see Spiderman silently appear behind them in some random alley in Itaewon when they’re threatening to beat someone up. He supposes it’s natural to be caught off-guard.

With the sense of someone gathering all of their arrogance, the leader of the boys smooths his shock away, cocking an unimpressed eyebrow. “Oh,” he says with forced disinterest. “It’s just you.”

“Just me?” Seungyoun repeats flatly.

“Jooyoung, that’s Spiderman,” whispers one of the lackeys.

“I know who it is,” he hisses. Raising his voice, he directs his next words at Seungyoun. “I’m not scared of you, you know. It’s not like you do anything but fly about like a wannabe Iron Man. You’re not really a threat.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that’s all I do. I also stop little boys like you from causing trouble. Now run along, Jooyoungie, go home before your mummy worries about where you could be.”

If there’s one thing Seungyoun can excel at, it’s annoying people. Just ask Wooseok, he’ll confirm it for anyone – to be honest, no one even needs to ask, he’ll likely volunteer the information by himself. It’s clear that Jooyoung is no exception to this power if the way his face hardens at the taunting indicates anything. The younger boy balls his hands into fists.

“You can’t follow the freak around everywhere, Spiderman. If I don’t get to punish him today, I’ll just do it tomorrow.”

“Oh no, we can’t have that, can we?” he says calmly.

Inside, he feels anything but. Bullies have never been something Seungyoun’s had patience for, especially the ones that feel like they have to physically knock someone down to assert their dominance. Alpha males have always set his teeth on edge. He masks this by casually leaning against the wall, one gloved hand tapping at his mouth in exaggerated thought.

“Here, I’ll tell you what’s going to happen. I’m going to check in on my friend over here for the next little while and if I find even a scratch on him… well, let’s just say that anything you do to him is what I’ll do to you once I track you down.”

He won’t do it, of course. The guy looks no older than sixteen at most and he’s not about to knock a kid out. But he doesn’t need to know that.

“Of course,” Seungyoun can’t help but add, “I can also punch through a brick wall with my bare fist so the results might be slightly different.”

He can practically see the blood drain from their faces in real-time.

Swallowing audibly, Jooyoung tries to shrug the threat off. “Whatever,” he scoffs. “He’s not worth it anyways. C’mon boys, let’s leave the little freaks alone to bother each other. This is getting boring.” He tosses one last sneer at Baby Face for good measure before he and his friends scurry past Seungyoun, careful not to make contact with him.

He watches them leave, eyes narrowed at their backs until they disappear into the night. Then he turns to Baby Face and offers him a smile. “Hello,” he says, softening his voice since he’s not threatening to beat this one up. “You okay?”

Baby Face blinks at him several times in a second. “Uh,” he finally squeaks, reaching what Seungyoun is sure is a new pitch. “Yes. I’m good.”

“They didn’t hurt you before I came?” he persists.

“N–No, you dropped in before that could happen. I think they were about to. You know, just before you came. But… they didn’t.” Baby Face looks about three words away from screaming or passing out. Or maybe both. He still manages to choke out a polite, “Thanks for stopping them by the way.”

“No problem,” Seungyoun says warmly. “It’s what I’m here for. I’ll walk you home, make sure that this lot doesn’t come after you when my back’s turned.”

“Oh, you don’t need to – “

“I want to,” he says firmly.

“Oh. Okay. If you insist.”

Seungyoun falls into step beside him and they make their way out of the alleyway together. What a strange pair they must make: a schoolboy with fluffy cheeks and a university student in a superhero costume. Walking side by side in comfortable silence.

Or at least Seungyoun is. In the corner of his eyes, he can see Baby Face twist his hands together anxiously and send the odd look over at him. His mouth opens and closes a few times, as if words rest on the crest of his tongue but can’t quite make their way out. Taking pity on him, Seungyoun decides to speak first.

“So, what’s your name by the way?” he asks. They turn left onto a narrow street. “I missed it in all the fun back there.”

“Oh, D-Dohyon,” says Baby Face. He seems to be perpetually surprised at being addressed. Already, Seungyoun can feel the urge to adopt the boy rise in him. What an absolute cutie. “Nam Dohyon.”

“Nice to meet you, Nam Dohyon. I’m Spiderman. You can call me Spidey if you want.”

“Spidey-ssi,” Dohyon says immediately and then cracks the brightest grin he’s ever seen. Seungyoun wants to pinch his cheeks and coo at him all day. “What’s your real name?”

“That’s classified information,” he deflects before adding dramatically, “I’d tell you the secret, but then I’d have to kill you.”

Dohyon stumbles over a crack in the pavement. Quicker than a flash, Seungyoun’s hand shoots out a web to steady him and pull the boy upright. He tears it off him with the other and Dohyon stares at him, fascinated.

“Daebak,” he breathes, eyes as round as two full moons.

He can’t help himself: he reaches over and pinches the boy’s cheeks. “Ahh, you’re so cute, Dohyonnie. Hyung won’t kill you, don’t worry. Not after I threatened to beat up a bunch of kids for you anyway. You’re too adorable to murder.” He releases his cheeks, only to smush them between his palms. There’s so much cheek and fluffiness that he just wants to pull him close or gobble him right up.

Looking half-flattered, half-terrified, Dohyon only answers with a confused, “Thank you?”

“You’re welcome.”

Seungyoun frees the poor boy from his hold and then slings an arm over his shoulder. If anything, Dohyon looks even more lost at this show of skinship, but he chooses not to question it. The two of them continue their walk to his home, chatting idly about Dohyon’s life to pass the time. Like why he’s out so late in the first place (he was at cram school) and who his friends at school are (Hyeongjun, Eunsang and Dongpyo) and what food he’s been craving (spicy pork ribs). He mentions that his brother would get them if not for the fact that he’s a broke university student which to be honest is a big fat mood on his part.

They keep up their conversation all the way to the Nam Dohyon household. It’s like once he got into the groove of things, Dohyon decided to never shut up again, but Seungyoun’s honestly too endeared to be bothered by it.

(And if it keeps the attention off the question of his real identity, then that’s just a bonus.)

When he delivers Dohyon to his house, the younger boy turns to Seungyoun with a hopeful look. “You’re fun, Spidey-ssi,” he says decisively. “And nice. Will I see you around again?”

“Call me hyung,” he replies. “And of course, we’ll see each other again. You’ll be seeing a lot of me this next week probably. I don’t really trust that Jooyoung boy further than I can throw him – and I can throw pretty far.”

A surly expression darkens his features. “Yeah,” he says sulkily. “Me neither.”

“You know if he ever tries to hit you, it’s okay to fight back,” Seungyoun says gently. Maybe it’s not the best advice to give someone, but the memory of Dohyon cowering against a brick wall, small and meek when the glimpse at his true personality seems anything but, leaves a bad taste in his mouth. “You’re not beneath him, Dohyonnie.”

Dohyon smiles at him like the compliment’s brand new. Feeling that wave of fondness once again, Seungyoun reaches over to ruffle his hair affectionately just as the front door flies open and, as if his life isn’t enough of a joke, it turns out that Hangyul is on the other side.

“Where the hell have you been, I’ve been worried sick!”

For a bizarre moment, Seungyoun genuinely thinks Hangyul is talking to him before he realises that he’s still suited up and that he doesn’t know him either way. But no, Hangyul’s talking to Dohyon, who he promptly pulls into his arms and squeezes into a tight hug.

“You were meant to be home twenty minutes ago!” he exclaims. “I called you and you didn’t pick up. Dohyonnie, you little shit, I’ve told you so many times to keep your phone off silent. There’s a reason I bought you the damn thing and it’s to contact you in times like this.”

“I thought it was for Snapchat,” the teen deadpans.

“Ha, very funny,” Hangyul says sharply. It is at that moment that he realises that they’re not alone because his eyes land on Seungyoun and then widen in disbelief. His mouth falls open – much like Seungyoun’s was behind his mask when Hangyul first flung open the door – and he lets out a sharp, choked noise, almost like a squashed dog toy. “Y-You’re Spiderman.”

“Hyung,” Dohyon adds.

“Hi,” Seungyoun says.

Hangyul blinks. “Um. Hi? Nice to meet you, I guess?” He gapes at Seungyoun blankly. “I’m not really sure what is going on or how to react to it? Or why I’m speaking in questions? This isn’t a regular experience for me.”

“Nothing’s happened really – “

“I was just patrolling in the area,” Seungyoun says over Dohyon’s bluff. He speaks rushed and low, hoping that this way his voice won’t be recognised. After all, the two times he spoke to Hangyul saw him reach new heights with his pitch so going the opposite way is a good tactic, right? “Saw that a couple of boys were going to beat Dohyon up. I intervened and then decided to make sure he got home safe. Anyways, I should – “

“Some boys were what?” Hangyul squawks, looking at his brother in anger. “Who the fuck were the little punks that thought they could – “

“No one,” Dohyon says exasperatedly just as Seungyoun offers, “Jooyoung and his homies.”

The younger glares at him, though the effect is ruined by how cute he looks in his brother’s embrace. He can only shrug – it’s not like he owes this Jooyoung anything by protecting him from Hangyul’s wrath. Part of him idly wonders how hot Hangyul must look when he’s angry since soft Hangyul is already a thousand and one shades of wow, but then he shakes it out of his thoughts. This is not the time to be drooling over the boy of his dreams. This is the time to escape.

“Anyways now that Dohyon’s all safe and sound and home, I should get going,” he says, getting ready to dramatically soar off into the night and take his lustful thoughts with him. “It was nice to meet you, Dohyon’s brother.”

“Wait! Don’t you want to stay for dinner or something? I want to thank you for what you did for Dohyonnie and we have bulgogi on the stove.”

“And I’m sure it’s lovely. But it’s getting late and – ”

Hangyul frowns. “Are you sure you don’t– “

“Thank you for the offer, it was really nice meeting you,” he says quickly. He shoots a web onto the branch of a nearby tree and pushes himself off the ground, blurting, “Stay safe and don’t do drugs! Tenha um bom dia!

And with that, Seungyoun runs away from Hangyul for the third time in a row.


The day after he rescues Dohyon from Jooyoung and his Homies, Seungyoun can be found in the café in the Students’ Union lamenting his struggles with his Instrumental Composition assignment and how his tutor keeps dismissing his drafts as having “too much precision and too little feeling”. He already gave Wooseok the details about what happened on patrol the evening before – albeit with a little embellishment since he didn’t need to provide him with any more ammo to tease Seungyoun with – so today it’s all about the other big bad in his life: university.

It seems that the Second Year Slump is truly a thing because Wooseok, Jinhyuk and Kookheon join his commiseration. Apparently, Art and Dance are not subjects whose difficulty should be underestimated and Jinhyuk’s Algorithms and Imperative Programming unit is going to chase him into his grave, so the four of them collectively mourn their good grades and sanity.

At least, Seungyoun consoles, the SU sells good burgers.

Kookheon then attempts to verify this by taking a bite of Seungyoun’s food to which he shrieks and furiously bats his hands away. He paid for this food with his hard-earned money, he will not have it stolen while Kookheon’s noodles lie there, cold and untouched. He yells this as he wrestles the box to safety.

“No way,” Byungchan says disbelievingly as he and Hangyul draw closer to the table. Immediately, Seungyoun’s shrieks fall away and he smooths down the strands of his hair. When Wooseok snickers, he kicks him in the ankle, only to receive a blow just as fierce in return. “You actually talked to him?”

“Talked to who?” Kookheon asks.

He nabs Byungchan’s apple the second his tray touches the table, but the younger is too distracted to notice or care. As long as Kookheon doesn’t grab Seungyoun’s burger, he couldn’t care less about pointing it out.

“Hangyul says he’s met Spiderman,” Byungchan announces.

Jinhyuk promptly chokes on his orange juice.

As in: it literally sprays across the table in a disgusting half-moon of backwash, some flecks even landing on Seungyoun’s new white jumper. Shooting him a look as if to say he blames Seungyoun for this, Wooseok rushes to pat his boyfriend on the back, muttering a soothing there, there. He wipes away the traces of orange juice from the corners of Jinhyuk’s lips with his thumb in their millionth sickeningly loving display.

“You guys are so domestic,” Seungyoun complains.

“Jealous, much?” Wooseok retorts.

“Of the people that don’t have to watch this? Yes.”

Byungchan sighs. “As always, you two keep bickering like a married couple. Can we get back to more important topics? Like the fact that Hangyul claims he’s met Spiderman. Nay, not just met – “

“Did you really just say ‘nay’?” Kookheon interrupts.

“ – but actually talked to. Like had a real, genuine conversation with. A heart to heart if you will.”

He looks them all dead in the eye as if to force upon them just how significant this is through the sheer will of his intense stare. And to be fair, if Spiderman was anyone but Seungyoun, he might be just as impressed as Byungchan is. But the thing is that Spiderman is Seungyoun’s alter-ego and three of the people currently at the table are well aware of it. The two of them that aren’t the man in question pointedly burn holes into the side of his face in the least subtle display he’s ever seen.

When none of them say anything (barring Kookheon’s soft “Holy fuck,” that is), Hangyul admits, “It wasn’t really a heart to heart. It was, like, three sentences. If that.”

It was a little more than three sentences, really, but who’s counting?

(Seungyoun is. That’s who’s counting.)

“That’s more than me!” Byungchan exclaims. He gestures passionately to Jinhyuk who is still giving Seungyoun a knowing look. “That’s more than Jinhyuk hyung and we all know how obsessed he was with Spiderman last year. Seriously, I thought he was ready to throw himself off a building to have the guy catch him and dramatically save his life at one point, he was that desperate.”

“I wasn’t that bad,” Jinhyuk protests, face reddening in embarrassment.

Wooseok frowns and tightens his grip on Jinhyuk’s shoulders. “Good,” he says sulkily. “I bet you Spiderman’s not even that great anyways. He looks like a complete loser if you ask me.”

Seungyoun kicks him underneath the table.

He kicks back.

“He’s not a loser,” Hangyul protests. “He seems quite nice.”

Quite nice. Hangyul thinks he seems quite nice? The revelation makes him feel like he’s about to float off into the air from elation. He’s going to write that on all of his CVs from now on. Job applications here he comes: Cho Seungyoun, Quite a Nice Guy. He’s thriving.

Wooseok kicks him again, this time to point out that he’s grinning into the air like an absolute idiot.

“I don’t think he is,” he says just to annoy Seungyoun. “No one looks good in spandex, let’s be real.”

Byungchan sips on his apple juice contemplatively. “I don’t know,” he muses. “I’ve always thought Spiderman’s arse looks really nice in his suit. Peachy, you know? Can’t help but look at it whenever a new picture comes out.”

Oh God. Kill him now.

“Uh,” Seungyoun says awkwardly. “Let’s not talk about Spiderman’s arse – “

Peachy arse.”

“Yeah. That. Whatever you said. I don’t think it’s very relevant to the conversation.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Wooseok says with a grin that can only be described as sadistic. He pushes up the frame of his glasses as if to emphasise the evil glint in the eyes behind them. Never has Seungyoun regretted befriending the little Satan more than now; he knew he shouldn’t have shared his new colouring pencils with him back in preschool. It’s earned him nothing but trouble since. “I’m always up to have someone convince me on why the spandex suit is a good idea. Go on Byungchannie, tell hyung more about this peachy – “

“So!” Seungyoun startles everyone with a loud clap of his hands. He gives them all a painful grin. “How about them sports?”

His friends look at him like he’s gone mad.

Then Kookheon offers to the table: “You know, I’ve always liked Spiderman’s arms.”

“Those are some good arms,” Byungchan agrees. “Strong. Capable. The kind of arms on a man you know will be able to take care of you when you’re at your lowest and most vulnerable.”

“Yeah and he must be pretty jacked if he’s using them to swing his body weight around Seoul. Honestly, I should track him down for some workout tips.” Kookheon swivels around to face Hangyul while Seungyoun sits there, red-faced and unnoticed, begging the ground to swallow him whole. He does not need to be present for this conversation. “Hey, Hangyul. Next time you see Spiderman, ask him what weight exercises he uses for his arms. Tell him it’s important.”

Hangyul laughs. “You do know I’ve only seen him once, right?”

“And talked to him,” Byungchan reminds him. “You’re our in.”

“We didn’t talk much. He just told me what had happened to Dohyonnie and then I invited him in for bulgogi – “

“Bulgogi!”

“ – but he seemed to be in a rush because he didn’t take the offer.” He pauses. “Or maybe he just doesn’t like bulgogi. You know, I think he might be Spanish so maybe that’s why.”

“Spanish?”

Hangyul nods. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure he spoke a bit of Spanish to me. Sounded like it anyway.”

“Who the fuck speaks Spanish in Korea?” Byungchan asks, genuinely confused. “Are you really saying Spiderman’s a foreigner? But his Korean is so good in all the videos I’ve seen! Maybe it’s a second language or something?”

“That makes no sense,” Kookheon says. “What’s Spanish going to do for him over here? Why wouldn’t he just learn English? Or Mandarin like Seungyoun did.”

Kill him now.

Literally just strike him down where he sits. Seungyoun can’t take this conversation anymore. He’s convinced that someone up there must have it in for him since they insist on sticking him into these embarrassing situations. Does no one have any pity for him? Is he a joke to the powers that be? A laughingstock to entertain themselves with? God, this can’t get any worse.

He really shouldn’t have said that.

As if determined to inadvertently humiliate Seungyoun even further, Hangyul continues, “Also, now that I think about it, he seemed kind of… panicky when I met him? I mean, Dohyon said he was really cool when they were walking home, but with me he was kind of just… nervous? I guess? Not sure why.” It’s like he wants him to die of embarrassment.

Naturally, Wooseok latches onto that bit of information quite happily. “Nervous, you say?” He rests his head on Jinhyuk’s shoulder and hums pensively; when he meets Seungyoun’s gaze, his eyes dance with mischief. An absolute Slytherin, that one. “I wonder why that is.”

It’s official. Seungyoun is going to kill him. Straight up just kill him. Or at the very least revoke his best friend card since Wooseok is taking too much pleasure in this conversation for it to go unpunished. There’s no way he can just let this mental torture slide.

Taking pity on him, Jinhyuk chimes in, “He was probably just running late for something. You have to remember, Spiderman’s just a normal person like us at the end of the day. He might wear a mask and shoot webs from his wrists or whatever, but he has to live a normal life too. I mean, Lee Dongwook used to be the same before he admitted he’s Iron Man.”

“I’m not sure how Lee Dongwook is considered normal even without being Iron Man,” Kookheon says unhelpfully.

“Yeah, that doesn’t really count, does it?” Wooseok rolls his eyes. “It’s Lee Dongwook.”

“Well, what about Thor, he’s literally a Norse god from outer space? Or Kwon Bo-Ah, or Kwon Ji- “

“For the love of – Kookheon, forget about the Avengers! Spiderman’s not an Avenger, he’s just another Spanish guy flying through Korea using super-strong strings of spiderweb and bringing justice to our streets, okay? For all we know he’s probably having an existential crisis about the extremely saturated job market just like the rest of us. Nothing special about him.”

Seungyoun nods quickly. “Yeah, he’s probably not even that interesting.”

“Actually, he was really lovely when I met him,” Hangyul defends with a soft, disappointed frown.

Well, shit.

How does he navigate this one? He can’t exactly say that he’s not insulting Spiderman because he is Spiderman, but he also can’t let Hangyul think that he’s a prick who hates someone the rest of the city adores.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” he says, trying his best to seem nonchalant. Can’t have people think that he’s seriously invested in the topic, after all. “What I meant is… he’s just another person living here. Sure, Spiderman helps people and that’s nice of him, but we should all let the guy be, you know? It’s clearly what he wants. I mean, if he’s choosing to wear a mask, that means that he’s not interested in fame or money or – or trending on social media, no matter how many times he ends up on Naver. He just wants to help people in what little way he can, and I don’t think speculating about his real identity is what we should focus on. All that concerns us, all that’s interesting is that he’s Spiderman. We don’t need to know who’s behind the suit.”

Perhaps it is due to the gravity with which he carries his speech, but his friends absorb his words with genuine thought before they voice their collective agreement. Hangyul looks surprised at the explanation albeit pleased if the smile he offers Seungyoun suggests anything. Meanwhile, Byungchan lets out a dreamy sigh.

“I love it when Seungyoun hyung gets all philosophical and deep like this. It restores some of my faith in humanity.”

“Why do you always have to be so intense?” Kookheon laughs.

He pouts. “Why do you always have to attack my personality? Am I not good enough for your high standards, Kim Kookheon-ssi? Do I not live up to your expectations? Well, I’m sorry that I’m too spicy for you to handle.”

“Please stop.”

In response, Byungchan smiles so that his dimples are fully on show and pokes them with his index fingers. “Stop what, hyungie?” he asks sweetly, puckering up his mouth in an exaggerated kiss.

“Yah, stop that!”

The table descends into chaos as Byungchan loops his arms around Kookheon, lips smacking together obnoxiously as he tries to wrangle the older boy into a kiss while Kookheon cries out about respecting his human rights. Ever the skinship opportunist, Jinhyuk takes advantage of his struggles by leaning in on Kookheon’s other side to wrap his arms around the two of them. In the meantime, Hangyul whips out his phone to Snapchat the entire ordeal.

Relieved that their attention has shifted elsewhere, Seungyoun watches them with a small smile. At last, he can relax.

“That was a close call,” Wooseok murmurs quietly under his breath so that only Seungyoun will be able to pick it up. He meets his gaze with a small raise of his eyebrows. “Smooth talking there, Seungyounnie.”

He makes a big deal of reaching over to steal Wooseok’s white chocolate and raspberry muffin. “I’m going to kill you for putting me through that,” he promises him, only to have his best friend laugh and pat him endearingly on the head. “I’m being serious!”

“I’m sure you are.”

“You will be catching these hands very soon.”

“Caught and blocked, bitch. Caught and blocked.


Sticking true to his promise to check up on Dohyon, Seungyoun spends half an hour at least every other day with the teen, often walking him home from cram school. The younger boy is hopelessly endearing, his quirky personality too adorable to steel his heart against. Within a matter of days, he’s already bought the boy pork ribs after he mentions craving it for the fiftieth time. The squeal he manages to record is payment enough – seriously, Dohyon rivals Seungwoo hyung in how high his voice can reach.

“You’re the best, Spidey hyung!” Dohyon exclaims with a happy hug.

He’d be lying if he says it doesn’t feed his ego a little.

Despite spending so much time with his little brother, Seungyoun is careful to leave before he meets Hangyul again. His tongue already manages to twist itself into knots around him; he doesn’t need to add the stress of hiding his identity from him on top of that. Knowing him, he’s going to blurt out something about how Hangyul’s arms looked great when he jokingly had Byungchan in a chokehold earlier that day. It’ll be better for everyone if they don’t meet again.

Of course, the universe ensures the opposite.

It happens when Seungyoun lands in the alleyway next to Dohyon’s cram school, having travelled via rooftop as per usual, and hears a startled curse followed by the clatter of bins. Seungyoun responds in kind – because when is he ever going to respond to a scream with anything other than another scream? – and twists around to see Hangyul struggling to pick himself up out of the rubbish.

He rushes over to help him up. “Oh God, are you okay? You didn’t get hurt, did you?”

“Uh, no,” Hangyul says, his lovely tan skin rapidly flushing red. He laughs awkwardly. “Just my pride, I guess. You scared me, jumping down out of nowhere.”

“Sorry,” he says as he brushes the dirt off him. It doesn’t even occur to him that it might be awkward for Hangyul to have a random stranger pat him down until a few seconds later. He snatches his hands back, thankful the mask covers his deep blush. “Sorry again. I didn’t realise someone was in the alleyway, it’s usually empty at this time.”

“I came to pick Dohyonnie up,” Hangyul explains.

“Oh, right. I should probably go then since he has someone to walk with – “

“No, no, don’t go! He’s probably expecting you, right?” He grabs Seungyoun’s wrist as if the loose grip is enough to keep him grounded. Since he is harbouring a very pathetic crush on Hangyul, it turns out that it is. “I don’t want him to get disappointed that you’re not here. We can just walk him home together? If that’s alright with you?”

“Uh.” Time for Seungyoun’s voice to become a squeak again. “Sure. That’s alright.”

Hangyul smiles and it’s honestly the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. How can one person be so goddamn breath-taking? It’s a mystery that begs to be solved. Seungyoun would like to be the one to crack it, but he also seems to lose all of his cool the second Hangyul enters his presence. It’s really not an ideal situation.

“That’s good,” Hangyul says. “Dohyon really likes you, you know? He looks up to you a lot.”

Right. Dohyon. That’s a topic that he can talk about comfortably without sounding like the biggest prat to walk the streets of Seoul. He can already feel himself relax as a fond smile springs to his mouth.

“I like him too, he’s really sweet. The circumstances weren’t great, but I’m glad to have met him.”

“Yeah, me too,” Hangyul agrees. At Seungyoun’s questioning look, he elaborates with all the casualness of commenting on the weather, “I was left in an orphanage until I was, like, seven. So technically, Dohyon’s not my biological brother. But he’s my baby brother in the only way that counts so I don’t really… I’m just glad I was adopted by our parents and I got to meet him. As far as little brothers go, I could’ve done a lot worse.”

Seungyoun doesn’t know what to say. “Oh. I’m… sorry that you were… left there.”

“Don’t be. My biological parents probably had a good reason to leave me at the orphanage and my current parents are great people. I love them a lot and I’m really grateful to them. It’s not really a sad story.” He glances over Seungyoun’s shoulder at the first students to emerge from the cram school. “We should probably head into the open, the kids are being let out now.”

He gives one last smile as if to reassure Seungyoun that the topic is not a sensitive one before he leads the way to the cram school’s entrance. Seungyoun follows, a mere step behind, and wonders what else he doesn’t know about Hangyul. The younger is a mystery to him. It doesn’t really help that Seungyoun’s brain freaks out on him whenever they’re together either. He can’t exactly get to know the other boy if he stops functioning in his presence.

However, this is not the time to contemplate such things. This is the time to escort Dohyon home as his alter-ego Spiderman. When the teenager in question passes through the doors of the cram school and spots both of them there, his round little face positively lights up in joy. He rushes down the steps to squeeze himself in between them, already babbling at 100mph about his day; from the other side, Hangyul catches Seungyoun’s eye in amusement and winks.

His heart just about explodes.

In fact, it spends the rest of the walk working overtime.

Turns out that Hangyul is not just quite possibly the most attractive person Seungyoun has ever seen, he’s also incredibly sweet with his younger brother. He manages to simultaneously tease him in the way only older siblings can while also absorbing every bit of information Dohyon has to offer with an attentiveness that’s surprising. Even when the two of them bicker – Dohyon petulant and exasperated with how his hyung keeps embarrassing him in front of Spidey hyung, Hangyul relentlessly poking fun – it’s clear to see that they love each other. It’s all incredibly soft.

It’d be easy and understandable for them to get lost in their dynamic and unintentionally exclude Seungyoun, but nothing of the sort happens. They pull him into conversation easily and for the first time in his life, Seungyoun manages to talk to Hangyul like a normal human being. Yes, his stupid heart still stutters every time Hangyul tosses his head back in a laugh at one of his jokes and yes, his temperature has raised by about 10 degrees inside his suit – but it’s nice and natural and normal.

By the time he reaches their home, he’s sad that he has to go. He says as much to them as Hangyul fiddles with his keys.

Hangyul frowns at him, his fingers still wrapped around the head of the key he’s just slotted into the lock. “You don’t have to go if you don’t want to. Dad’s made samgyeopsal tonight, I think, and there’s plenty to go around.”

“No, no, I don’t want to impose,” he says quickly. Gesturing vaguely at his mask, he adds, “Besides this Halloween costume doesn’t come with a way to get food to my mouth.”

His eyes crinkle in amusement, zeroing in on the lower half of Seungyoun’s face. “Fair enough. Got to protect the identity, I suppose.”

“Aw, hyung!” Dohyon is much less understanding. He tugs pleadingly on Seungyoun’s arm, blinking up at him with those huge doe eyes of his. “Please come in. It’ll be like paying you back for the pork ribs you got me the other day – “

“You got him what?

“ – and you can keep the rest of your mask on. Just uncover your mouth so you can eat, it’s not like we’ll recognise you from that. We’ve probably never met you out of the suit anyways so it doesn’t really matter.”

“You never know, he might have a really distinctive chin,” Hangyul says.

Dohyon sends him a withering glance. “Hyung, you’re really not as funny as you think you are.”

“I’m hilarious,” he says firmly and then tugs his brother’s hands off Seungyoun with just as much authority. He offers Seungyoun an apologetic smile. “We’ll let you escape, don’t worry. Dohyonnie, get inside so you can wash your hands, feet and face before you eat dinner. Go on. And don’t bug me for pork ribs for at least the next month since you’ve apparently been getting them from someone else.”

Dohyon scowls and mutters something about how Hangyul is “so embarrassing” and how his hands “aren’t even dirty, you clean freak” before he reluctantly enters the house. The two of them watch him grumble his way inside. Once he’s disappeared up the stairs, Hangyul turns to Seungyoun.

“You’re right, you know,” he says. “This was fun. We should do it more often.”

And because Seungyoun is, to put it simply, an idiot, he blurts, “Are you asking me out on a date or something?”

The question clearly catches Hangyul off-guard (although no one is as shocked as Seungyoun at the fact that he actually said that) if the startled way his eyes widen and the stammered start of his reply suggest anything. He recovers with a laugh which thankfully seems amused rather than disturbed.

“It’s a little soon for a date, don’t you think?” he asks, raising an eyebrow. “This is only our second conversation. Though maybe if we walked Dohyon home together more often, I might change my mind.”

“Yeah that makes sense,” Seungyoun says unthinkingly before the words properly register in his mind. He blinks. “Wait, what? Are you being serious?”

Hangyul shrugs. “Yeah.”

“I – what. Y-You… What?”

“I haven’t broken you, have I?” He laughs. Shoving his hands into his pockets, he elaborates, “But on a serious note, I did like walking him back with you. You seem like a pretty cool guy, Spiderman. If you can keep it up, why shouldn’t we go on a date? Unless, of course, you’re not into me like that in which case I totally respect – “

No! No, no, I mean – yes, yes, I am into you. Honestly who wouldn’t be, have you seen your face? You’d have to be insane not to be into you. But like. Aren’t you scared?”

“Of what?” he asks, confused.

“Of – of me? Like, what’s really under this mask. I could look like anything under here. You have no idea what you could be dealing with.”

Once again, Hangyul shrugs it off. “Well, as long as you’re not a minor, I don’t really care.” Suddenly, he grins, wicked. The sight sends a warm shot right down into the pits of Seungyoun’s stomach. “Besides, a friend of mine recently pointed out that your suit happens to be very flattering so I suppose you can’t be all bad.”

Seungyoun’s mouth falls open in disbelief. What the fuck. Literally, what the fuck? “Byungchannie,” he hisses under his breath. This is all his doing.

“What?”

“Nothing,” he says quickly. “Um, I guess – well, if I’m reading this conversation right anyways – that I’ll see you tomorrow? Same place, same time?”

“Well, hopefully I won’t have fallen into a rubbish bin tomorrow, but yes. I’d like that.”

“Okay,” Seungyoun says, nodding. A grin tugs on the edges of his mouth as the situation starts to sink in. He can’t believe this is happening. Like this is really happening. “I’ll, uh, be going now. See you tomorrow.”

Hangyul smiles. “See you.”

This time when Seungyoun swings away, he feels like he’s on top of the world.

Chapter Text

TWO.

The date doesn’t happen.

Not really anyways.

It takes about two hours for Seungyoun to realise the implications of his conversation with Hangyul that night. Firstly, that Hangul likes his personality when his mouth isn’t choking on his foot. And secondly, that Hangyul likes Spiderman’s personality when his mouth isn’t choking on his (spandex-clad) foot. Those are two very different things.

Because see, Seungyoun may don Spiderman’s mask and fly through Seoul on the hunt for petty crimes to stop; he might be able to produce actual silk from his wrists because some freaky radioactive spider thought he’d make a nice snack one day – but he’s not actually Spiderman. Spiderman is a person concocted by netizens, a persona he wears because it’s easier to help people when he’s an anonymous superhero than admit to the rest of the world that he’s Lee Dongwook’s newest mentee.

Spiderman isn’t real.

What’s real is Cho Seungyoun: sleep-deprived on most mornings, struggling through his Music Composition degree, has been known to cry into a cold cup of coffee at eleven pm during exam season. Sometimes, he uses his spider abilities to yank objects over to him from across the room which is how he gets hit in the face by his laptop charger on a semi-regular basis. More often than not, Wooseok laughs at him when that occurs.

So, the date doesn’t really happen.

Because Spiderman is not someone people can just go on a date with and Seungyoun is someone who hasn’t yet connected with Hangyul on that level to even suggest such a thing. Sure, things have slowly improved between them – they’ve had several conversations now without him combusting, for starters – but it’s just not as natural as when Seungyoun has his suit on. Which is kind of sad when one thinks about it.

He doesn’t particularly like to think about it.

After approximately three and a half conversations with Wooseok about the situation – all of which consist of him confiding in his best friend about the gulf between the two facets of his personality and how shitty it feels to have Hangyul only like the cooler version of him – he resolves to put it out of his worries. He’d rather not have it dampen his time with Hangyul and Dohyon. That hour is reserved for good vibes only.

(If anyone’s wondering, Wooseok responds by a) pledging to treat Hangyul a little more coldly and b) telling Seungyoun to pull himself together. According to his professional opinion, Seungyoun’s personality is the same inside and outside of the suit so Hangyul does like him. Naturally, Seungyoun thinks that sounds preposterous. Honestly Wooseok, get a grip.)


 

November creeps up on them with a chill. By the time the fifth day dawns on Seoul, the temperatures have plummeted into the minuses and there’s a crisp quality to the air that whispers of snowfall. Seungyoun takes to rotating through a collection of huge cable-knit scarves in various colours and keeps his face mask on permanently so that all anyone can see of him is the squint of his eyes beneath his beanie of the day. The first time he rocks up to uni dressed like so, Jinhyuk walks past him without a second thought.

“Fucking hell,” he gasps, having screamed when Seungyoun grabbed his arm to get his attention. He clutches his chest. “I didn’t even recognise you. You’re like a fucking chameleon, honestly.”

“I am indeed a master of disguise,” Seungyoun agrees.

Jinhyuk responds with some elaborate gesture that can only be from an anime. Once a weeb, always a weeb.

In November, the cold is oppressive, seeping into every nook and cranny in every university building he enters. He is not ashamed to admit that he spends hours in his bedroom just dressed in his Spidey suit to chase the cold away since it has adjustable heating built into it. He’d be loath to pass up such a blessing in favour of freezing his balls off.

Unfortunately, the option isn’t available to him during study sessions at Wooseok’s so the two of them make do by snuggling under the covers in his bed. Seungyoun’s not exactly sure how Wooseok manages to annotate pictures of Jan van Eyk’s paintings from this angle, but it’s working well for him thus far. Meanwhile, he is trying and failing to write up his notes from his last Musicology lecture.

“Stop checking your texts,” Wooseok reprimands. “You’ve barely done any work today and I can’t lean on you when you’re fidgeting like this.”

Like a little kid who’s just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar, Seungyoun immediately drops his phone. “In my defence,” he says, trying not to sound guilty, “Kookheon is in a bit of a dilemma at the moment with his upcoming dance recital.”

“No, he’s not. He’s just nit-picking his choreography now that he’s seen Ten’s.”

“And I’m supporting him through it.”

“Go back to writing up your notes,” says Wooseok. He radiates such mum energy that Seungyoun can’t help but immediately comply.

After another hour or so, however, the two of them both call it quits.

Well, technically what happens is that Wooseok abruptly slams his notebook shut and hurls it across the room (yeeting it, says a voice that sounds suspiciously like Mark, a first year Music Comp student he knows) while yelling something about European art giving him a headache. Like the good friend he is, Seungyoun joins him by selflessly tossing his notes to the side faster than Byungchan running from live mudfish. He declares his good intentions to an unimpressed Wooseok.

“Whatever, loser,” says the boy in question, even as he rearranges Seungyoun so that it’s more comfortable for him to curl up next to him. Though he’s never been much of a cuddler, Wooseok in winter has a way of permanently attaching himself to another warm body without seeming overtly affectionate like the little tsundere he is.

Or a cat.

Not that Seungyoun minds much. He allows himself to be manhandled until Wooseok’s head rests on his shoulder and their legs intertwine beneath the covers, the two of them content to lie in relative silence. Outside, the sound of the constant stream of Seoul’s traffic wafts up to Wooseok’s bedroom window: tires on tarmac and pedestrians yelling out to each other across the road. It’s oddly soothing.

“You don’t have any assignments coming up soon, do you?” Wooseok asks after a while as he stifles a yawn. “As in Spidey assignments, I mean. Not the Instrumental Composition ones.”

Seungyoun shakes his head. “Nothing big is happening over here so no. I don’t think Lee Dongwook is even in Korea at the moment.”

“Oh yeah, he’s in America right now,” he recalls. “I heard that all of the Avengers are there on official business.”

He hums in confirmation.

“Hey Seungyoun,” Wooseok says a moment later. His voice is soft and sleepy, trailing off at the tail-end of his sentences. “You know how you’ve met some of the Avengers? Have you ever met The Hulk? The guy seems pretty cool.”

“No, not really. I have met Captain America though.”

“Really? What’s he like?”

He shrugs. “American.”

There’s a small pause as Wooseok thinks this over. “Oh,” he says understandingly. “Yeah, I can see it.”

Seungyoun snickers lightly. On a whim, he starts to scratch at Wooseok’s scalp since the other boy is already bundled up in his arms. Wooseok sighs in contentment, adjusting so that his head is more accessible, and tightens his grip on Seungyoun’s waist. His breathing starts to even out as the sleepy atmosphere claims him.

“Hey Seungyoun,” he murmurs, the words barely audible in his exhaustion. “Did you see on the news that it’s meant to snow tonight? Our first snowfall of the season.”

“It feels it,” he says and shivers as if merely talking about the snow drops the room’s temperature by several degrees. “You gonna go out with Jinhyuk when it does?”

He nods minutely. “Jinhyuk likes cheesy things like that,” he says as if Seungyoun hasn’t had the misfortune of seeing Wooseok dawdle in the snow just to plant one on Jinhyuk since, contrary to popular opinion, Wooseok is a romantic. “He should be back from tutoring by then.”

“I thought he was at Seungwoo hyung’s?”

“He’s tutoring this kid at Seungwoo hyung’s. Name’s Dongpyo. We’re probably going to adopt him soon.”

“Jesus Christ, you two are so domestic.”

Wooseok snorts. “Bet you in a few months you and Hangyul will be worse than us.”

“Nah,” Seungyoun says with a resigned sigh. “He’s probably never looked twice at me. Me me, I mean, not Spiderman me.”

“You are Spiderman you, dipshit.”

“You know what I mean.”

“Not really. But whatever.” He yawns and rubs his cheek against the wool of Seungyoun’s jumper. “I’m shattered. Maybe if we get some sleep, you’ll be able to stop underselling yourself and finally make a move on the guy. Goodnight.”

“It’s literally 5pm,” Seungyoun tells him, though he closes his eyes all the same.

Maybe it’s the quiet atmosphere of the room, maybe it’s the warmth of having another body curled up next to him, but it takes only a handful of minutes for him to succumb to sleep too. He briefly wakes up when Jinhyuk crawls into bed beside them upon his return, and there’s a small disturbance as Wooseok turns over in his sleep to throw his leg over Jinhyuk’s hip, but the three of them find a comfortable position quickly enough. He slips back under moments later.

Snow starts to fall later that evening just as Seungyoun lands outside the cram school for his daily duties. Hangyul doesn’t flinch at his sudden arrival, too busy staring up at the sky. His arm is outstretched, bare palm faced up, ready to collect the flakes. The smile that lingers on his mouth is soft and peaceful.

“It’s so pretty isn’t it?” he says wondrously.

Hangyul turns to him and there’s something so breathtakingly beautiful about him in that moment - eyes bright with joy and snowflakes clinging to his long lashes, dark hair messy underneath the hood of his coat, the tip of his nose red from the cold – that Seungyoun’s heart twists something fierce. Suddenly, he thinks he understands why people see the beauty in photography now; there are some scenes that just ask to be immortalised forever as something more tangible than mere memory. This is the kind of snapshot that people treasure, the kind that inspires songs. It’s electric.

Seungyoun tilts his head back to look up at the city’s sky. “Yeah,” he agrees quietly. “It really is.”


 

“Think fast!”

Seungyoun has barely a moment to look up from his phone before a packet of Honey Butter Chips flies directly at his face. By instinct, his hand snatches it up mere inches from his nose and he looks past it to see Kookheon on the other side of the music building’s rec area, mouth open in awe.

“Bro, that was so cool,” he exclaims, approaching him slowly. “How do you do that?”

“I’m Spiderman,” he deadpans before he hurls the snack right back at him.

Kookheon yelps, just about managing to duck out of the path of the missile by throwing himself to the floor. He glares from the ground. “Oh, it’s on.” He throws his body backwards in search of the Honey Butter Chips, swearing his vengeance. “It’s on like that beanie you wore for three months straight when you had that tragic haircut of yours last year.”

And then – because he is both always down to mess around with his friends and well-accustomed to indulging Kookheon’s madness without question – Seungyoun promptly somersaults to behind the nearest armchair. The girl in the next seat over stares, concerned.

“You’ll never take me alive,” he promises.

Kookheon cackles maniacally. “Who says I need you alive?”

“What on earth is wrong with the two of you?” the girl asks.

Seungyoun is too busy to answer her question since Kookheon chooses that moment to charge forward with a yell, shaking the Honey Butter Chips in his hands like a weapon. Naturally, he responds with a scream of his own and leaps away, jumping over the low tables and onto the sofas while Kookheon gives chase. He’d like to say that he keeps his dignity throughout the entire debacle, cool as a cucumber as always… but this building has already seen him dressed in his ratty pyjama pants and an ugly Christmas jumper during summer exam season, so his dignity fled a long time ago. Along with his concept of shame, to be honest.

Although it’s not like he’s alone in his embarrassment. The music building, also host to the dance studios, has witnessed many an incident over the years. Whether it’s been teary breakdowns over exams, Kim Sungjoo drunkenly serenading a water fountain two years ago, or that one afternoon a month ago when there was a dance-off between a few students and one of them ended up humping the floor in front of the Modern Contemporary Dance teacher. This place has seen it all.

So really Seungyoun leaping between sofas like the floor is lava isn’t weird.

Except when he turns around to poke his tongue out at Kookheon like the five year old child he really is, he spots Hangyul watching them in amusement over a bottle of Fanta Fruit Twist and proceeds to crash to the ground. He lands heavily on his arse with a yell.

“Seungyoun, what the fuck!” Kookheon cries as he scrambles to reach him, his mission forgotten. “Are you alright?”

Yes, that’s just what he’s thinking too: what the fuck? What the actual fuck? He can’t believe this is happening to him. Literally what the – He meets Kookheon’s eyes in bewilderment.

His friend takes one look at him and bursts into laughter.

“Your face,” he wheezes, practically collapsing on top of him. “You should – you need to see your face. You look – you look so – I can’t breathe – “

Seungyoun doesn’t even know how to react. His crush (also known as the only relevant man to exist on this cruel earth) has just seen him prance about the recs area like a prat and then fall on his arse; his friend is seriously about to choke on his own laughter; the hot commodity that are the Honey Butter Chips are abandoned and unopened a few metres away; and he’s still sat on the floor. Where he just fell. On his arse. In front of Hangyul.

Great.

Speaking of the devil. “Hey, are you okay?” Hangyul asks gently, coming to crouch down beside him. He reaches out with his left hand, the right still preoccupied with his half-full bottle of Fanta, and dusts down Seungyoun’s shoulders somewhat clumsily. “You’re not hurt, are you?”

He reddens. “Uh, no. Just my pride, I guess.” He gives a forced chuckle, prompting Kookheon to laugh even harder.

Something indecipherable flashes in Hangyul’s eyes. “Well, as long as you’re okay,” he says after a moment. “Here, I’ll help you up.”

“No, it’s fine, I can – “

What Seungyoun means to say is I can do it myself.

What he actually does is let out a screech akin to a dying seal.

Because – in his determination to brush off Hangyul’s help and escape to the recording studio, thus locking himself in to record an hour’s worth of wailing about how he is literally the unluckiest person to walk this planet – when he tries to pull himself out from under a hysterical Kookheon, he ends up knocking into Hangyul’s arm and getting drenched in soda.

His jumper is white.

Great.

“Oh my god, I am so sorry!” Hangyul gasps. He chucks the Fanta to the side and tries to pat down Seungyoun’s jumper, as if that’ll achieve anything. “Holy shit, I did not mean to do that. Hyung, I swear – it was an accident, I…”

By this point, Seungyoun’s not even surprised anymore. For all he cares, a bird could swoop in and crap on his head right about now and it wouldn’t even faze him. Surely someone is playing some sort of cosmic joke on him by this point. (Loki, perhaps?) Whether it’s Loki or not, Seungyoun’s too tired to fight against the tide. He just sits there on the ground and stares blankly at the massive red spot on his chest.

Distantly, he registers Hangyul tell Kookheon to shut the fuck up and stop laughing.

“Hyung, I have a spare top in my bag if you want it,” he says apologetically. His teeth sink into his lower lip in contrition. “It’s only a t-shirt because I usually wear it for dancing – but don’t worry, it’s fresh from the wash so it’s not sweaty or anything! And it’s really oversized so it’ll definitely fit so there’s no need to worry about that. Not that you wouldn’t fit anyway! I just meant –  you’re taller than me so it’s – it’s just – Yeah. Um. It’s the least I can do.”

Seungyoun hums noncommittedly, still feeling somewhat removed from the situation. He’s half-tempted to tell him to just leave it and let him continue on his day like this. It’s not like things can get any worse, right? Before he can brush off the offer, however, Kookheon takes the decision out of his hands by pushing him into a standing position and giving Hangyul the go ahead.

The younger gingerly takes Seungyoun by the wrist and leads them to the nearest bathroom.

“Don’t fall into the toilet or anything,” Kookheon calls after them, a broad grin colouring his words.

Hangyul rolls his eyes. “Ignore him, hyung.” He throws an indiscrete vulgar gesture behind him just as they reach the bathroom.

The door swings open to reveal an otherwise empty room albeit grubby and a little sickening to look at properly in the way most guys’ toilets are. When Hangyul starts to rifle through his bag for the spare top, Seungyoun finally remembers how to function. Now that he’s re-entered this astral plane, he’s all too aware of how the soda has seeped through even the vest underneath his jumper to stick to his chest uncomfortably. Grimacing, he pulls both layers off.

This is honestly disgusting, he thinks as he reaches for some paper towels to wipe himself down with. If he didn’t have an important seminar in the next twenty minutes, he would just skive to shower it off. Instead, he has to make do with cheap, damp towels from a questionably sanitary environment.

“Here you go,” Hangyul says brightly.

Seungyoun turns around to take the top, words of gratitude on his tongue as it hits him just how fortunate he is to at least have spare clothing on hand. Perhaps his melodramatic self jumped the gun a bit before. When he reaches for the top, however, Hangyul’s grip on it remains tight. He stares at Seungyoun, eyes oddly glazed and trained on his torso.

Confused, he follows his gaze down to see what’s grabbed Hangyul’s attention. “Oh right,” he says with clarity. “I forgot you’ve never seen my tattoos.”

Hangyul nods slowly. “Yeah, that’s – that’s… some tattoo.”

Seungyoun dims a little. It always slips his mind that a lot of people in Korea aren’t the most receptive to tattoos, especially since his friends either don’t care about them or have been inked themselves. “I’m not part of a gang if that’s what you think,” he says defensively. “I know it’s a gun so that might not be very convincing, but like – I believe that tattoos are, like, an expression of the mind and that they can be really beautiful when you think about it so – “

“I know you’re not part of a gang, don’t worry,” Hangyul interrupts, amusement in his words. “I’ve actually been meaning to get one myself. I just… I was a little shocked to see you with so many.” His eyes flit between the various tattoos and he adds, “Exactly how many do you have? Just out of, like, curiosity.”

“Um. Eight, I think.”

“Eight,” he echoes, sounding somewhat strangled. “That’s great. They’re – they’re really nice, hyung. Really cool designs.”

He doesn’t look like he thinks they’re really nice. Actually, he kind of looks like he’s choking on something, cheeks spotted with red and eyes wide. Even his breathing is oddly irregular.

Frowning, Seungyoun tentatively prods, “Are you sure you’re okay with them? Or in general actually? You look kind of flushed. Oh wait, there’s a winter bug going around – do you think you might’ve caught it?”

Without waiting for a response – because why would he do anything as normal as that? – he takes a couple of steps forward and presses the back of his hand against Hangyul’s forehead, not even noticing the other stiffen at the sudden movement. The skin there is warm but not unusually so. He brings it back, lips still turned downwards.

“You don’t seem to have a fever,” he says pensively.

“I run really warm,” Hangyul squeaks. “Even in winter.”

Oh. That makes sense.

Seungyoun nods understandingly at him before he realises that he’s a) stood way too close to Hangyul for it to be normal and b) still shirtless. He quickly backs up with an embarrassed apology. Hoping it will shield him for at least three seconds, he busies himself with pulling on the t-shirt. At least this way if he manages to continue this streak of humiliating experiences, he won’t do it while coming off as a creep that’s all up in Hangyul’s personal space.

When his head is free from the t-shirt, he notices that Hangyul is staring at him.

He’s not quite sure why.

“What?” he says, feigning an ease he doesn’t feel. He cups his face like a flower and blinks exaggeratedly. “Don’t I look pretty in it?”

“Yes.”

Seungyoun blinks.

Hangyul blinks too. He then coughs, rubbing the back of his neck. “You look good in everything, hyung,” he says sincerely. “My t-shirt’s nothing different.”

Oh God. Seungyoun can’t help the stupid grin that takes over his face. Hangyul thinks he looks good in everything! He feels like a thirteen year old kid with his first crush, ready to dance around the room and yell in happiness. For obvious reasons, he restrains himself.

“Thanks,” he says and adds teasingly, “You don’t look too bad yourself.”

“Ah hyung.” Hangyul pushes his shoulder playfully. “You shouldn’t make fun of me like that. Although maybe I deserve it after spilling drink all over you today. I’ll buy you lamb skewers soon to make it up to you.”

“Careful now. I’m a broke student so I might actually take you up on that offer.”

He shrugs. “Fine by me. You finish at 6 on Thursdays, right? I’ll pick you up after your lecture.”

Wait, what?

Seungyoun’s mouth falls open. “Wait, are you actually being serious? You want to grab lamb skewers with me? Like not with Byungchan and the other guys there. Just me?”

He’s dreaming. He has to be dreaming. There’s no way that Lee Hangyul – the most beautiful guy to walk the campuses of Seoul National University and the sweetest person Seungyoun has ever had the pleasure of meeting – wants to hang out with Seungyoun. Seungyoun the Resident Pleb.

“Yeah, of course. Why wouldn’t I?” Hangyul says. “We’re friends, aren’t we?”

“I mean – yeah, yeah, of course, I just didn’t…”

“So then I’ll see you then,” he says firmly. He glances at the watch on his wrist. “Oh shit, I should head to the dance studios now. I’m meant to be meeting my dance team to go over some things before class.”

With one last apology for the ruined clothes, he hurries away, leaving Seungyoun by himself in the bathrooms to wonder what on earth just happened.


 

“Wear those ripped jeans of yours,” Wooseok says. “They make your legs look nice and long.”

Seungyoun pauses in the middle of frantically rifling through his wardrobe. “It’s minus two degrees,” he says. “I can barely feel my toes, my balls are frozen, and you want me to expose half of my body to that kind of weather?”

“Look if you play your cards right, Hangyul will warm your – “

“I’m not wearing the jeans.”

“For fuck’s sake.” Wooseok collapses back onto the bed like a starfish. “Then I give up. I’m out here trying to get you a man and you’re just not cooperating with me. What’s a little frozen toe if it means you stop pining pathetically over Hangyul? You have nine other toes, Seungyoun. You’ll live.”

“You’re literally no help at all, you know that?”

“My mere presence is a blessing, bitch, and you know it.”

He doesn’t even deign to give that an answer. It’s not like Wooseok’s ego will accept anything other than complete agreement, after all.

Besides, Seungyoun has bigger problems to think about. Namely: what to wear on this date that’s not really a date, just Hangyul apologising for spilling Fanta Fruit Twist all over Seungyoun. He needs to balance practicality with fashion and looking good without looking like he’s trying too hard. Basically, his usual winter get-up isn’t going to cut it today, but he can’t let Hangyul think that he thinks this is a date, thus freaking him out and making him question why on earth he let Byungchan introduce him to their gang gang.

It’s an exhausting thing this whole fancying someone business.

Almost makes him sick.

“You’re overthinking it,” Wooseok sighs, now curled up on his side like a comma. He grips Seungyoun’s teddy – a small fluffy bear that his dad bought him back when they lived in São Paolo – to his chest like a small child. To be fair, he’s about the height of one so there’s not much difference. “It’s just lamb skewers with Hangyul. You don’t need to stress about what you’re wearing because I’m sure he won’t care either way.”

“Big words for someone who freaked out for six hours before his first date with Jinhyuk,” Seungyoun deadpans.

“That was different,” he hisses. “He’d already seen what I looked like first thing in the morning, I needed to blow him away and look hotter than the fucking sun so he’d stick around regardless.”

“Wooseok, you are literally the one person I know who doesn’t need to worry about what he looks like in the morning.”

“You’re a liar, but I’ll take it,” he says without missing a beat. “Anyways, I’m being serious, you really shouldn’t worry about what you’re going to wear. I don’t think you own a single piece of ugly clothing in your wardrobe. Everyone knows you dress well so no matter what you pull out, you’ll be fine. You just need to worry about not embarrassing yourself on your date.”

“Not-date.”

“Yeah, that thing. As long as you don’t accidentally burn him with the grill, you’ll be fine. Or reveal that you’re Spiderman and use your alter-ego to hang out with him on the sly every weekday.”

Seungyoun comes to a horrified stop. “Oh my God,” he whispers, aghast. “What if I accidentally reveal that I’m Spiderman and use my alter-ego to hang out with him on the sly every weekday? He’s going to think I’m an absolute creep that stalks him.” He clutches his favourite Supreme jacket to his chest. “I don’t think I can do this.”

He’s barely finished the sentence before Wooseok launches the Brazilian teddy bear at him. It bounces off the side of his head with more force than he’d thought could be capable of a stuffed toy.

“Pull yourself together!” Wooseok exclaims, scrambling down to shake his shoulders. “Hangyul said he’s going to take you out to eat lamb skewers and I’ll be damned if you don’t milk him for every last won he’s worth. You have not been drooling over this guy for the past couple of months just to back out now. What would Lee Dongwook say if he could see you now?”

“What the fuck does he have to do with any of this?”

“I don’t know, he’s Iron Man and he’s your mentor so I just threw his name in there. The point is: you’ve literally gone up against criminals before – “

“Only small ones. And the Winter Soldier, I guess.”

“ – so this date is nothing. So calm down, stick on some clothes, go to the lecture that you’re running late for and try to behave like a normal human being around Hangyul, okay? If things go really bad, just text me and I’ll conveniently call you crying about an argument I’ve had with Jinhyuk so you can get away. Is that clear?”

“Yes, Mum,” he says meekly.

Wooseok pinches his cheeks. “Get dressed, son.”

“Ow, that actually really hurts.”

“Your superhuman strength is truly on new levels of pathetic.”

Once his cheeks are free from Wooseok’s wrath, Seungyoun finally assembles an outfit he deems acceptable – and no, it does not include any ripped clothing, thank you very much Wooseok – and throws it on. He adjusts his cap and turns to smile tentatively at Wooseok.

“How do I look?” he asks.

He tilts his head to properly analyse him. “Like a hypebeast about to go on Show Me the Money.”

“Good enough for me.”

He shoots a string of web from his wrist to haul his backpack to him from the opposite side of the room, ignoring Wooseok’s muttered distaste, and then heads for class, giving himself a silent pep-talk as he goes. Just as his bedroom door closes behind him, Wooseok yells that he’s going to eat Seungyoun’s hidden stash of Oreos, to which he tells him to fuck off back to his own apartment. His enhanced hearing picks up nothing to suggest that this order is being followed.

The hours until 6 o’clock feel like they crawl past. His lectures are as uneventful as usual aside from that one moment where someone in the third row of his Music Cultures of the World lecture accidentally blasts TWICE’s ‘Cheer Up’ from their laptop (which, let’s be real, is a Tune so Seungyoun gladly bops along to it). His vocal teacher compliments him on his sustained high note in their workshop and he works on a new melody during Instrumental Composition to keep himself distracted from the impending not-date.

At last, it arrives in the form of Lee Hangyul outside his lecture theatre. When Seungyoun appears, he straightens up from his slouch against the wall and offers one of the corrugated cups in his hands.

“I got you some green tea,” he says as Seungyoun takes an experimental sip. “Would’ve gotten coffee, but I’m not sure how you like yours.”

“Black with one spoonful of sugar,” he replies. “In case you wanted to get me some in the future.”

“What, lamb skewers aren’t enough for you?” Hangyul teases. He sweeps his eyes up and down Seungyoun’s assemble and then meets his apprehension with a smile. “Ah, you look good again hyung. You’re making me feel real sloppy.”

“Don’t! You look great!” Seungyoun blurts. He nearly face-palms. Way to sound smooth there. He hides his burning face under the guise of taking another swig of tea. “Anyways, you want to head out now?”

“Yeah, we probably should. I just had dance practice so I’m starving.”

Dance practice. Since that’s something doesn’t focus on Seungyoun and potentially lead to him sticking his foot in his mouth, he latches onto the topic eagerly as they set off for the restaurant. Hangyul readily takes the reins of the conversation as he talks about his upcoming recital for his hip hop class, complaining about his teacher’s eagle eyes and how he doesn’t miss a single mistake. Seungyoun has vivid memories of Kookheon making the same complaints around a year ago and shares them in consolation.

“I get that he just wants the best for us,” Hangyul says in annoyance, “but he’s a perfectionist to the exact degree. I’m not even lying, I’ve seen him whip out a protractor to make sure we’re all at the exact angle he wants. It’s insane, I’m telling you.”

“Sounds intense.” He sympathises. “At least this way you’ll look crazily in sync when you perform.”

“Stop playing the devil’s advocate, hyung. You’re meant to be on my side.”

Seungyoun laughs, holding his hands up in surrender. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. What I meant is that he’s the worst teacher ever and deserves to rot in hell with his protractor. My bad.”

“Much better.”

By the time they settle down at their table, Seungyoun feels much better. He tries to approach the not-date with Wooseok’s words in mind. There’s no use in spending the entire time freaking out in his head instead of enjoying it as it happens. Rather than worrying about what could go wrong, he might as well relax in the moment.

Miraculously, he manages to do just that. Some semblance of who Seungyoun used to be before his tongue got all tangled up in Hangyul’s presence that fateful day in the library returns. As the minutes tick by, he settles into himself with an ease he hasn’t felt in Hangyul’s presence for a long time. It feels good. To treat Hangyul like just another guy instead of the personification of the word ‘wow’ means that he gets to enjoy his company in a way that he hasn’t gotten to do when being plain old Seungyoun opposed to Spiderman.

The conversation flows between them easily.

They talk about their degrees and why they chose to pursue them, share their joint misery about upcoming exams, and lament on the ridiculous expectation to be awake for nine o’clock on a Monday morning in this day and age. Discussing their past reveals that they both used to be somewhat athletic when younger, with Seungyoun seriously pursuing football in Brazil and Hangyul studying taekwondo for a number of years. They discover that while Seungyoun is down to eat all kinds of food, Hangyul can’t stomach anything that’s mildly spicy – to which Seungyoun promptly dips the end of his skewer in chilli sauce and exaggeratedly chews on it with a grin – and that they both talk in their sleep. They even share the same sense of humour.

When they order another round of lamb skewers, Hangyul’s wallet wincing all the while, Seungyoun fires off a quick text to Wooseok letting him know that everything’s alright and going well.

WOOSATAN: they’d be going better if u wore the ripped jeans

CSY: suck my toe

“Who’s that?” Hangyul asks, jerking his head towards Seungyoun’s phone.

He quickly locks it before any incriminating messages can be seen. “Oh, just Wooseok checking up on me, making sure I’m not murdered. The usual.”

“A valid concern,” he says understandingly. “Although I don’t know whether I should be offended. Do I look like the type of person to murder someone?”

“I mean, criminals don’t have a certain look, do they, or that’d be profiling,” Seungyoun says. He takes a sip of his water and exaggeratedly scans the other from head to toe before adding, “But you never know, a good looking guy like you? Probably an axe murderer, let’s be real. You can never trust someone with a nice face.”

He raises his eyebrows. “You think I have a nice face?” Before Seungyoun can reply, he says, “Oh wait, you already answered that back when we first met.”

Don’t you dare,” he hisses. The burn of his ears betrays the red flush of his face. He thinks back to that mortifying encounter in the library and cringes. “We’re not going to talk about that day ever again.”

“Why not? I liked the compliment. Very direct.”

“Suddenly, I can’t understand Korean.”

“No sugar-coating, no lead up to it, just saying it as it is – “

“I’m sorry, I don’t speak your language,” Seungyoun states in English, vehemently crossing his arms in the shape of an ‘X’. Hangyul laughs and grabs onto an arm, trying to pull it down, but Seungyoun refuses to budge. “Tīng bù dǒng. Não entendi nada.

“Bloody hell, what are your arms made o – wait, you speak Mandarin and Spanish?” Hangyul stops trying to pull on his arms (now with both hands) in surprise. “I didn’t know that.”

“It’s Portuguese, idiot,” he corrects with a laugh. “I lived in Brazil, remember? They speak Portuguese there.”

“Oh. What’s Spanish sound like then?”

“I don’t know? Hola, como estas?”

“What?”

“Never mind.”

Hangyul tilts his head to the side like an overgrown puppy. “I’m confused,” he admits.

Really, he can’t help the smile that spreads across his face at that. It’s probably too transparent in all the things it holds – too fond, too smitten, too ready to tell anyone who glances their way that Cho Seungyoun is head over heels for the boy across the table from him – but he doesn’t try to halt its path. Hangyul smiles back, still seeming somewhat lost, so Seungyoun’s left hand comes over to pat his head endearingly.

“This feels somewhat condescending,” Hangyul says even as he leans into the touch.

He shrugs. “It lowkey is.”

“I should be more offended than I am.” He reaches up to guide Seungyoun’s hand to the crown of his head. “But I like having my head scratched so I’m prepared to let it slide.”

He takes the prompt for what it is and lets the edges of his fingernails gently scrape at Hangyul’s hair, fingers occasionally running through the soft strands. Sighing, Hangyul settles into a comfortable position, cheek resting against the arm he’s still clutching and smiles contently. They fall into a moment that’s so serene that neither of them feels the urge to break the silence with speech.

Unfortunately, it’s shattered minutes later when the next batch of lamb skewers arrives at the table. The moment passes, Hangyul pulls away and Seungyoun clears his throat, flooded with awareness of how non-platonic all of this is on his end. The rest of the evening continues like before.


 

In the weeks that follow the not-date, Seungyoun finds himself busier than ever. A slew of high-profile corruption cases takes the nation by storm due to popular media coverage and he gives Lee Dongwook, fresh from his flight back from New York, whatever help he can (no matter how vehemently the man denies needing it). As if they’re all being exposed by the media storm, Seungyoun’s patrols start to see more trouble from petty criminals which means he spends longer on his rounds, careful to keep his eyes peeled for any signs of trouble.

When he’s not in his suit, his free time is dedicated to studying since winter exams are just around the corner. As sad as it sounds, he becomes so well-acquainted with the library that he even has a seat with the regulars. If it wasn’t for the fact that his friends join him in also killing themselves off with revision, he probably wouldn’t even remember what their faces look like. It’s a tragedy, really.

With exams looming on the horizon, it means that he doesn’t get to see Hangyul anywhere near as much as he’d like, the younger determinedly putting in the hours in the dance studios to perfect his routine for his assessed recital. They do catch each other here and there – running into each other in the convenience store at odd hours in the night, brushing past one another on their way to class – but most of the encounters are too short for his satisfaction. Rare is the time when they get to hang out properly, taking their sweet time about it.

Of course, this doesn’t include their daily walks with Dohyon. Those don’t count because they happen when he’s all suited up – when he’s Spiderman opposed to Cho Seungyoun.

Although as the weeks progress, it increasingly feels more or less the same either way.

It’s like the not-date finally shattered the brick wall that lingered between them, allowing Seungyoun to relax and get to know Hangyul in a way he was too nervous to do before. Even when they’re just mechanically eating cup ramen from the convenience store in the middle of the night, eyes bloodshot and backs sagging on top of their stools, there exists a comfort that Seungyoun has fast come to appreciate. It’s good to finally be the non-bumbling, non-blushing version of himself around Hangyul.

(Even if that does mean his crackhead behaviour has taken the opportunity to slip out more.)

Wednesday afternoon in the library hosts the version of Seungyoun that is tired and unfocused, blearily stumbling his way through page 23 of 47 of his assigned reading. Anyone glancing at him can tell that he’d rather be anywhere but there. His throat keeps pushing out yawn after yawn within thirty seconds of each other and he’s sunk so far down his chair that he’s slumped over with his cheek pressed against the table and legs splayed wide, half-heartedly highlighting the odd word or two. Even HyunA’s ‘Roll Deep’, iconic though it is, can’t bring his mood up. He might as well throw his earphones away.

As if someone has just read his mind, the earphones in question are rudely yanked out of his ears. Frowning, Seungyoun pulls his head up from the table to glare blearily at the perpetrator.

Of course. Who else would it be but Choi Byungchan?

“You look cheerful today,” he says in a sing-song voice. He leans over to tap Seungyoun on the nose and smiles, annoyingly endearing dimples saying hello to the world. “Exam stress got you feeling down?”

He makes a sound that can barely pass as a grunt. “I want to throw myself off a bridge.”

“I’d say I’d jump with you, but I think my mum would shout at me if I did,” Byungchan says. He pulls out the chair next to him and starts to unpack his things. “But I feel you, hyung. Exam season is the worst season. It disguises itself with pretty things like snow and Christmas and cuffing, but it’s hell. I never realised how much reading I’d actually have to do at uni until it came.”

“Tell me about it,” Seungyoun moans. His pink highlighter falls from his limp fingers as he admits defeat. “I wish I could just absorb all of this information through osmosis or something.”

“Ew, please don’t use scientific words in my presence. I left that behind with high school and I’m not going back there again. What are mitochondria you ask? Fuck if I know, it sounds like somewhere Hoochie Nedval would live.”

“I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about and I’m too tired to ask.”

“I don’t know either, hyung,” Byungchan says solemnly. His gaze shifts to somewhere above Seungyoun’s shoulder and he repeats, “I don’t know either. Hey Hangyul, do you happen to know what the mitochondria is perhaps?”

The speed with which Seungyoun turns around should probably make him cringe. The sight of Hangyul, however – drowsy and clutching a cup of coffee like it’s his lifeline – is well worth it; Seungyoun can already feel the lethargy from his assigned reading dissolving away. He smiles brightly.

Hangyul returns it sleepily as he sits down before asking Byungchan in confusion, “Do I know what now?”

“The mitochondria. What it is, what it does, where it’s located and who lives there.”

He makes a face. “I don’t know, is it Spanish or something?”

“Seriously, what is with you and Spanish?” Seungyoun can’t help but laugh.

The other shrugs it off with nothing more than a private smile, but Byungchan readily offers the secret. “He’s probably just obsessing over it because of Spiderman – you know how he spoke Spanish that one time they met? Probably just wants to impress him or, like, flirt with him in his mother tongue or somethi – ow!”

Byungchan abruptly cuts off with a loud yelp that is certainly not appropriate for the library and reaches down to rub his leg. He glares over the table at Hangyul.

“Thanks for that,” he bites out.

He smirks. “Don’t try to embarrass me then.”

“Whatever,” he mutters petulantly. “It’s not like everyone doesn’t already know you have a crush on your Spider boy. Who cares if I mention it to Seungyounnie hyung?”

Well. That doesn’t sting at all.

Seungyoun schools his face into an expression that looks at least somewhat neutral and a little less like heartbreak. Dramatic, he knows, but it’s not easy hearing that your crush fancies someone else. Or rather, that they fancy you, but they don’t know it’s you because it’s your secret alter-ego they’re crushing on, so they just fancy the cooler, vigilante version of you opposed to the version that they’ve seen dip a hotdog into milkshake.

It’s a confusing situation that he can barely get his head around sometimes, especially now that he and Hangyul are really good friends, so he doesn’t like to think too much about it.

“I don’t have a crush on him,” Hangyul hisses. He throws Seungyoun an oddly searching look and kicks Byungchan in the leg once again, eliciting another howl from their friend. “Stop exaggerating.”

“You guys have daily dates.”

“We’re literally walking Dohyon home. How the fuck is that a date?”

Byungchan rolls his eyes. “Okay, fine, it’s a flirtation. You’re in Flirtation Station with Spiderman. We get it, you want to play it cool – ow, stop kicking me! I have sensitive legs! And chronic Achilles tendonitis! You’re going to stick me in the hospital at this rate.” He makes to swipe at Hangyul before pausing thoughtfully. “Actually if I do end up in the hospital, do you think they’ll excuse me from exams due to mitigating circumstances?”

“I can put you in there and we’ll see,” Hangyul offers.

Byungchan sighs and shakes his head. “I couldn’t do that to you. It’d be like forcing you to kick a puppy, I’m just too cute.”

“Your head is honestly the size of Mars,” says Seungyoun, finally chiming in on the conversation. He tries to guide it away from all topics concerning a certain superhero in what he hopes in a subtle manner. “Where do you even get all this confidence from?”

“Just blessed with it, I suppose! Aren’t I lucky?”

“You are also being kicked out from the library,” says a pointed voice, fresh to their conversation. The trio freeze, meeting each other’s eyes like a bunch of guilty schoolboys. They turn to the librarian who has materialised beside them without them even noticing. She’s only a handful of inches taller than Seungyoun when he’s sat down, but the hard glint in her eyes is intimidating as hell. “Or you will be if I hear another scream come from this table one more time. There are people studying here for their exams – you boys might not care about yours, but they do, and I’ll be damned if I let you distract them for much longer!”

Seungyoun gulps. Scrap ‘intimidating’ – this woman is nothing short of terrifying. He feels like she could beat him up if she really wanted to.

Clearly, Byungchan doesn’t feel the same way. Or if he does, he does a hell of a job hiding it because he straightens up underneath the librarian’s glare and whips out his most angelic smile, eyes crinkling into crescent moons and dimples as deep as trenches at the corners of his mouth. He literally radiates aegyo.

“Sorry saseo-nim,” he says sweetly. “I really didn’t mean to disturb you and make your job more difficult. I promise I’ll do better next time.”

There’s a tense moment as Hangyul and Seungyoun wait with bated breath for the librarian’s reaction. She holds herself so stoic that he’s sure they’re going to get kicked out right there and then for the cheek of their response…. But then Byungchan’s magic gets to work and they watch as she visibly melts before their very eyes. He truly is the Aegyo King.

“I’m sure you will,” the librarian says gruffly before she offers Byungchan a small smile (a smile!) and then totters back to the front desk.

Seungyoun watches her go in shock. “What the actual fuck,” he breathes. “How the – “

“Don’t underestimate my powers,” Byungchan says smugly. He leans back in his chair with his arms folded behind his head, the very picture of arrogance. “You can thank me now. I just got us all out of trouble.”

“You’re also the one who landed us in it with the constant screaming.”

“You’re the one who kept kicking me!” he retorts, pouting at Hangyul. “Not only did you hurt my leg… you hurt my heart.” Hangul’s empty coffee cup bounces off his face a moment later and he blinks. “Ouch.”

Hangyul grins cheekily. “Oops,” he says. “My hand slipped.”

The affronted expression Byungchan responds with cracks Seungyoun up instantly. The three of them dissolve into fits of laughter, trying desperately to muffle it with their hands and textbooks lest the librarian returns to make good on her promise. As he wipes away the tears that linger on his lower lash-line, cheeks aching from how wide he’s grinning, Seungyoun feels a hundred times lighter.


 

Studying begins in earnest as the New Year approaches. The holidays are no excuse to slack off, though Seungyoun does clear out his schedule to spend Christmas with his mum. These days, it’s just the two of them so he likes to give her his undivided attention, snuggling up to her on their sofa under several piles of blankets to watch dramas and movies all day. They call Christmas their ultimate cheat day because absolutely nothing they eat has any nutritional value, but the toothache he gets is worth the way his mum radiates by the end of the night.

He doesn’t see any of his friends on Christmas Day, but they meet up briefly the next day to swap presents. Since they are all broke students, they’ve opted for a Secret Santa system this year (only without the secrets because it has never worked out in the past) and agreed not to spend more than 20,000 won on each other. Seungyoun receives a stuffed monkey toy from Seungwoo and a metal drink bottle he’s been meaning to get for a while; there are tiny smiling cactuses all over the sleeve with the words “don’t be such a prick” printed in English along the side.

(He’d drawn Kookheon from the system – a very sophisticated method that included Byungchan’s snapback and hastily scrawled names on the back of a torn-up McDonald’s receipt – and gifted him a new set of acrylic paints.)

Aside from that one paltry meet-up that lasts two hours at most, Seungyoun doesn’t interact much with his friends outside of conversations on the group chat. He tends to call Wooseok at some point during his patrols, the other pretending as if it’s not because he’s worried about Seungyoun in light of Seoul’s uptick in crime, but for the most part, he’s withdrawn from the world in favour of his laptop. Even his walks with Dohyon take a hit since he can’t always make them, though the teenager never questions him on why that is.

New Year’s Eve is one of the days where he’s timed his studying well enough to be able to walk Dohyon home, stick around for a while to prolong his time with him, and then swing back home in time to usher in the New Year with his mum. But when Seungyoun drops down into his usual spot in the alleyway, the lights in the cram school are off.

Hangyul, however, is still in their usual spot.

“Hey,” he says, straightening up from his slouch against the wall. He shuffles through the snow to Seungyoun’s side and briefly pulls down his face mask to flash a smile. “I thought you might come tonight.”

“Uh, yeah.” Even a mask as technologically advanced as Seungyoun’s can’t quite hide his confusion. “Why are the lights in the cram school off?”

“You weren’t here the past couple of days so we couldn’t tell you that it’s closed for the rest of the week,” Hangyul explains. “I realised you might turn up today since you didn’t know so I figured I might as well come and explain in person. Dohyonnie would’ve come too, but he’s visiting my grandparents in Japan so he couldn’t.”

“Oh right, that makes sense. It’s the New Year, after all, I guess the teachers want to spend it with their families too. How come you’re not in Japan as well?”

Hangyul nudges Seungyoun with his shoulder to indicate that they should start walking. As they approach the mouth of the alleyway, he says, “I was going to go, but I have exams and a recital coming up and I can’t really afford to miss practice. Figured I shouldn’t risk it so it’s just me at home.”

Oh. That sounds lonely.

Seungyoun frowns. “I didn’t realise… Hey, how come you didn’t text – “ He cuts himself off before he can finish with ‘the group chat’. Wrong persona. He tries again. “Have you texted any of your friends about it? I’m sure one of them would spend tonight with you if you asked. It’s not good to start off the new year alone. I know it’s the Western one, but it’s all the same.”

“Yeah, I texted Byungchan about it,” Hangyul says with a long sideways glance at him. “Said I’ll swing by after I meet up with you. I didn’t want to leave you out here in the cold, confused and alone.”

 “My hero.” He pretends to swoon. Straightening himself up, he asks brightly, “So do you want me to drop you off at Byungchannie’s? I bet he’ll die if he sees me at his front door.”

“Hm, that’s very tempting. I’d pay good money to see him freak out like that. But no, I need to grab a few things from home first so just walk me there and we’re good.”

Although he doesn’t like the thought of Hangyul walking to Byungchan’s by himself, Seungyoun doesn’t argue against it since it’s not his place to impose. He changes the subject to the upcoming exams and how Hangyul’s faring with studying for them. It’s a little strange to pretend like he hasn’t heard him discuss these very things before, but it’s always nice to just listen to him talk, especially when it’s about dance. It’s clear when he speaks that he’s passionate about the subject, that it’s the only thing he can imagine himself pursuing as a career.

The discussion about exams takes up the duration of their careful walk to Hangyul’s home, Seungyoun content to let him ramble with minimal interruptions on his part. When they reach his house, Hangyul seems to realise that he’s dominated the conversation, startling at the sight of his front door.

“I just realised I took up the entire conversation talking about myself,” he grimaces. “Way to be self-centred.”

Seungyoun smiles. “Nah, it was nice hearing you talk about uni. You’re very passionate.”

“Is that a nice way of saying I talk too much?” he grins.

“I like it when you talk too much. It’s clear that you love dance and that it’s very important to you which means it’s important to me.” He pauses. “That sounds way more intense than I meant it to.”

Hangyul laughs. Hooking an arm around Seungyoun’s elbow, he pulls him away from the front door and towards the garden gate. “I’m glad I didn’t annoy you then. But I still feel bad about making everything about myself so what do you say we hang out for a bit before you disappear on me? We can take lots of selfies and make Dohyonnie jealous. It’ll be great.”

It’s not like he has much of a choice. The grip Hangyul has on him is firm and decisive, their bodies pressed against each other along the length of their sides as he steers him into the small garden at the back.

Unlike the rest of Seoul, the snow here is mostly untouched: a thick, fluffy blanket that looks soft to the touch. In the centre of the small square is a tree, skeletal branches devoid of any colour save the thick lining of white on the tops of the boughs, that stands proudly against the dark of the night. It looks like something out of a picture book. Inexplicably awed by the scene, Seungyoun lets out a breath of wonder and stares speechlessly. He barely registers the warmth of Hangyul disappear from the side.

That is, until a snowball strikes him on the small of his back.

He whips around faster than lightning to find Hangyul standing there, hands behind his back as he blinks innocently at him. Mischief tugs on the corners of his lips until he can’t fight back the grin anymore.

“Whoops. I wonder where that came from.”

Seungyoun raises an eyebrow. “You don’t know what you’ve just unleashed,” he tells him.

Hangyul responds by whipping his hand back out and throwing a snowball right at Seungyoun’s chest.

Oh, it’s on.

With a war cry that could rival Thor’s, Seungyoun snatches a handful of snow from the ground, not even bothering to pack it into a snowball before he hurls it at Hangyul’s face. His friend yells, scrambling back and so begins a battle of monstrous proportions. Forget the fight that Seungyoun once had against half of the Avengers, this is the fight of his life. He refuses to lose.

He and Hangyul hold nothing back in their attacks. They chase each other around the garden like children, Seungyoun sometimes leaping away with the use of his webs only to have the other furiously yell that he’s a disgusting cheat. They throw snowballs at each other as fast as they can, uncaring if their missiles go wide or hit their mark as long as there’s a constant assault on the other person. When that doesn’t work, they shamelessly tackling each other to the ground, if only to knock the wind out of the other person before running away.

Even as they egg one another on with jabs neither mean, even as they pretend to square up to each other and threaten to squash their opponent like a measly bug, Seungyoun can’t help but laugh happily. What they’re doing is so ridiculous. It’s half ten on New Year’s Eve, they’re both supposedly adults, and they’re screaming in the middle of a quiet neighbourhood in Itaewon because of an impromptu snowball fight.

He wouldn’t be anywhere else in the world.

“Okay, okay,” Hangyul wheezes as he kneels on the ground, holding his hands up in surrender. “I give up. Let’s call a ceasefire.”

Seungyoun halts to a stop beside him, a monstrosity of a snowball held aloft in his hands. “Admit that I’ve won, and I’ll call it off.”

“Listen, you store-brand X-Men mutant,” Hangyul hisses passionately, “I am at a significant disadvantage here since you have your superpowers. So no, I will not admit – okay, okay, you won! Don’t knock me out with the boulder you’re carrying, Jesus Christ!” He scrambles back from the weapon as Seungyoun advances threateningly.

He grins and tosses it over his shoulder; it falls to the ground with a muffled lump, scattering into several pieces. “Smart choice.”

“You’re evil.”

“Thank you,” he says brightly. “You put up a good fight though, I’ll give you that. You’re just no match for Spiderman. I’m amazing.”

Channelling all of Wooseok’s Scorpio energy, Hangyul throws him a withering glance. “You only won because you have the physical advantage,” he says petulantly. “I can’t keep up with your energy. If we were on even footing, I would’ve won.”

“I guess we’ll never know,” he says, the words sweet as a song in his mouth.

Just to annoy him by further emphasising his powers, Seungyoun shoots a web to stick to the base of the nearest branch on the tree and swings himself up onto it, legs dangling over the side. He salutes Hangyul from his new position, only to receive the middle finger for it.

“You may bow down to me now,” he declares.

Hangyul raises an unimpressed eyebrow. He stomps his way across the battlefield until he comes to a halt next to Seungyoun’s legs. After a moment’s consideration, he shrugs and pokes Seungyoun’s foot through the suit.

Instantly, Seungyoun recoils with a shriek, pulling his legs back – he’s always been extremely ticklish regarding his feet, even the nanotechnology is a paltry defence against it – but miscalculates and tips back entirely. Instinct takes over and another strand of web slaps itself onto the tree to bring him to a quick stop, even as he lets out another screech. He halts to a stop upside down in mid-air, arm outstretched awkwardly. This all happens in a collection of seconds, punctuated by Hangyul’s answering startled yell.

“Holy shit,” he exclaims, hands coming to hover awkwardly around Seungyoun’s torso. “I did not expect that to happen. Are you okay?”

He lets out a long breath. “Yeah, just startled. I’m really ticklish on my feet.”

“Yeah, no shit.”

He can’t help but laugh at that, though it quickly dissolves into a grimace as the uncomfortable angle he’s at takes strain on his body. He murmurs for the other to wait just a second as he adjusts his position with a few rapid-fire shots of his webs until he can hang upside with his arms free, held up by his feet. When he’s finished, he’s at eye-level with Hangyul.

“Well, hello there.” He flashes a grin. “Fancy seeing you here.”

A noise that sounds like the beginning of a reluctant laugh escapes Hangyul in a puff of mist. He rolls his eyes and says, “You’re such a dork, you know that?” but he can’t quite keep the fondness hidden from his voice.

“You love it really.”

He hums contemplatively. “True.”

There’s an odd look on his face, almost like his mind is a million miles away while his body is planted here in his garden. Something tells Seungyoun not to disrupt him and let his thoughts wander where they may, even if he’s doing it while staring him down.

After sizing him up for what feels like an age, Hangyul says slowly, “I’ve got a question for you.”

Oh, is that all it is? Seungyoun shrugs. “Go for it.”

“If I said I wanted to kiss you right now, what would you say?”

Seungyoun literally grinds to a stop. Like, completely. His heart stops beating in his chest and his breath catches in his lungs, halfway out into the world. Even the neurons in his brains stop transmitting the signals that tell his body how to function. Whatever he thought Hangyul was going to say, it’s not this. This is so far out of left field that all he can do is let out a high squeak.

Hangyul waits, patient.

Finally, Seungyoun remembers how to use his mouth. “I, uh,” he stammers. “I would say that it’d be a bit awkward to kiss me through my mask, wouldn’t it?”

“Ideally it wouldn’t be through the mask,” he says. “I don’t mean you should take the whole thing off, just enough to be able to… reciprocate. I mean, only if you’re comfortable. We don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to.”

Okay, his mind might be struggling to keep up with the sudden turn of events, but he’s not that far behind.

“No, no, I want to,” he says quickly. He clears his throat as if that’ll dislodge his nerves. “I just – um, let me just – “

Fingers trembling in anticipation, Seungyoun catches Hangyul by the wrists and guides his hands to the subtle seam that rests against his collarbones. His breathing quickens as he cautiously lets go, as Hangyul’s fingers hook under the edge of his mask, the brush of his skin searing his. With every painstaking inch revealed, Seungyoun is all too aware of the level of trust he’s putting in the other boy at the moment. If the whim overtakes him, Hangyul has the power to rip the mask off entirely and discover his identity.

The urge to recoil, to pull back and state that this can’t happen, grows by the second. But it’s drowned out by the even fiercer desire to melt into Hangyul once and for all, to press his lips against the seal of his mouth like he’s been dreaming of for months now. He stays quiet, relinquishing all the cards to the other.

When the bottom of Seungyoun’s face is finally exposed to the cold, lips cherry red against the paleness of his skin, Hangyul exhales. He moves his hands to cup Seungyoun’s face and nods in determination.

“Feel free to push me away,” he says.

Seungyoun whispers, “I won’t.”

And then his mouth is on his.

Instinctively, Seungyoun sucks in a surprised gasp of air, stiffening at the foreign contact. He relaxes a heartbeat later and melts into the curve of Hangyul’s lips. Kissing from this angle is a little inconvenient, but the pressure of Hangyul’s hands on the sides of his face and the firm, chaste press of his mouth dissolves any concerns about that. All he feels is warmth. Warmth and happiness.

The smile that smears his mouth comes unbidden, but he’s helpless to stop it. He feels Hangyul follow suit and their teeth clash against each other awkwardly –  it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t make the moment any less special. On the contrary, it feels like much the opposite. Kissing someone you really like should feel like this, like you’re weightless with how buoyant you are. He laughs and they break apart, grinning stupidly at each other. He can feel his face shine red and not just from being suspended upside down for this long.

Hangyul looks at him, impossibly fond. There are crinkles at the corners of his eyes when he softly states, “I really like you, hyung.”

He feels like he could fly.

“I like you too.”

Chapter Text

THREE.

It takes Seungyoun twelve hours to understand the gravity of the situation.

Hangyul kissed him.

And he kissed him back.

Now that he’s had some sleep and time to think over it, he realises that he shouldn’t have. In the light of day, Seungyoun’s actions make him feel uneasy, like there were questionable morals about the way last night unfolded. Not on Hangyul’s part, of course, but from his end; after all, he’s the only one who knows the gravity of what the kiss meant. Yes, not only did Hangyul consent to the kiss, he suggested it in the first place – but he did all that without knowing that Spiderman is not a distant and separate entity to Seungyoun. If he knew who was actually under the mask, he surely wouldn’t have even entertained the thought.

As Seungyoun lies in bed, staring blankly at his ceiling, he feels his stomach churn with guilt. He really shouldn’t have kissed Hangyul. He’s the older one, the one who should’ve known better. He should’ve reined in his emotions and approached the situation with a clear head. Instead, he acted selfishly and recklessly, uncaring as to what the implications of such a thing would mean.

It’s not like Hangyul even likes him that way. Or at least, he’s never indicated such feelings to him.

It is this thought that really hammers the last nail in. Yes, the kiss was wonderful, if a little awkward, and carried him into the new year on a wave of complete bliss… But it was a kiss that was ultimately meant for someone who isn’t him. Latching onto the event and what it could mean would be wrong. At the end of the day, there’s no way to move forward with this – what’s he meant to do? Juggle a life as Cho Seungyoun the weird, embarrassing hyung and Spiderman the vigilante boyfriend who never shows his face? He can hardly remain at a platonic distance from Hangyul when the mask is off and then snog him senseless when he’s donning the suit.

Besides, a voice in his head whispers, the you that really matters is the one he doesn’t want anyways.

A tear spills from the corner of his right eye. Sniffing, Seungyoun brushes it away impatiently, only for another one to take its place. And then another.

And another.

He rolls onto his side and prays his pillow soaks them all up.


 

After he cries for longer than he cares to admit, Seungyoun deals with his heartbreak the only way he knows how: by burying himself in music.

He holes up in his room for most of the day, either rotating through a collection of sad songs that despair about the pain of unrequited love or writing his own. His headphones have a permanent address on his head and the muscles in his back ache from how he hunches over his desk studio for hours on end. Cup ramen and energy drinks litter his desk alongside the glasses of water his mother brings up, voicing her worries about Seungyoun staying locked up all winter. He brushes it off by explaining that he’s just getting his assignments for university out of the way – which technically isn’t a lie. Now that he’s miserable, his drafts for his final Instrumental Composition assignment are out of this world.

Agony truly does make for the best artists.

To put it succinctly, Seungyoun avoids everyone. He sends a few messages on the group chat about how studying has claimed his arse so that no one’s suspicions arise when he goes radio silent, even when he replies to videos of Kookheon’s dog with only five hearts opposed to the usual twelve. He keeps his conversations with Wooseok during his patrols brief under the guise that he’s feeling tired recently. With everyone being in the same boat, it’s easy for his excuses to fly under the radar.

As for Spiderman?

Well, in a display he knows is, to put it lightly, worthy of a dickhead’s, he only returns to walk Dohyon home the one time once the younger returns from Japan and that’s just to let the brothers know that he won’t be back for a while. The excuse he offers is the recent corruption cases that have demanded the Avengers’ attention and though Dohyon nods understandingly (albeit after grumbling about how he’ll miss his favourite hyung), the look Hangyul shoots him suggests he doesn’t buy it in the slightest.

Seungyoun would be hard-pressed to call the encounter pleasant. Whenever Hangyul addresses him in the conversation – which isn’t much, for that matter – his tone is lukewarm at best. He seems to be reluctant to make his anger too blatant for fear of Dohyon catching on, but the fact that he refuses to even spare a glance in Seungyoun’s direction is about as obvious as a dancing neon sign that screams how they’ve fallen out to the world. The walk home is tense and awkward, seeming to last for eons where once Seungyoun felt like they couldn’t stretch on for long enough. Part of him thinks he should just ramble off an excuse and fly off into the night, but Dohyon’s persistent attempts to lighten the mood keep him rooted. He even brought up sports.

So Seungyoun stays with them until their house looms before the trio. He can’t help but stare at the building. As though his eyes can pierce through the brick and mortar through to the spindly tree on the other side where this mess began. As if reading his mind, Hangyul’s face snaps in his direction, expression as foreboding as the cold that nips at his exposed cheeks. For a moment, all he does is study Seungyoun wordlessly.

Helpless, he can only stare back.

“We should go inside,” Hangyul mutters after a moment. He nudges Dohyon as he starts to turn for the door before biting out over his shoulder, “I guess we’ll see you round eventually.”

Though he knows he deserves it, that doesn’t stop the note of hurt that Seungyoun feels at the spite in his farewell. He doesn’t blame Hangyul for receiving him so coldly – after all, as far as he’s aware, Seungyoun kissed him one night and then flat-out avoided him for the next week. Of course, he’s pissed off.

Still, the hard set of his jaw when he turns away stays in Seungyoun’s memory for days afterwards.


 

Having resolved to avoid everyone in the supposed name of exams, Seungyoun doesn’t particularly expect anyone to drop by his home without a heads-up and thus dresses to impress only his reflection. Which, in his current state, counts anything unstained as the pinnacle of fashion so the bar’s not set too high.

 Realistically, the only people who would turn up without warning are Wooseok and Byungchan. If his Snapchat story indicates anything, the latter is spending the day at Lotte World which is why, when his mum yells up the stairs that his friend is at the door and he yells back that she should just send him up, Seungyoun is fully prepared for Wooseok’s pouting face to enter the doorway. He doesn’t even bother to change out of his pyjamas into something presentable.

It’s not Wooseok.

“So you are alive,” says Hangyul, pushing open the door. His eyes are sweeping across the room when Seungyoun shoots up at the sound of his voice, so he misses the way he gapes at him. “Your room’s cool, by the way. Looks a bit like a café with all these decorations.”

“What are you doing here?” blurts Seungyoun. When he receives a raised eyebrow, he hastily amends, “I mean, how did you get my address? I mean – you know what I mean. My brain is fried and this – this visit is a bit unexpected. Sorry.”

Hangyul cracks a smile. It’s so different from the last time Seungyoun saw him although still not quite as bright as it used to be. Regardless, Seungyoun latches onto its warmth with more fervency than is good for his health.

“Wooseok hyung gave it to me,” he says. “Said I should make sure you haven’t died in the middle of composing a song.”

“Not quite,” Seungyoun jokes weakly.

Inside his head, he curses the day he met Wooseok. Always an inconvenience at the most inopportune times, that one. Even when he doesn’t intend to be, he’s the Woosatan that plagues his life. And Seungyoun is always the one to suffer for it.

Hangyul hesitates on the threshold to Seungyoun’s room, shoes edging the hinge of the door. “Can I come in?” he asks tentatively.

He starts. “Oh! Oh, of course, did I not invite you in already? Sorry, I’m so used to the others just barging in here whenever they like, I forget that some people have manners.” He slides out from underneath his duvet and shoves his feet into a pair of fluffy slippers. “Actually, tell you what. I’ll take you to my super-secret spot since it’s your first time here.”

Drifting over to him, Hangyul snorts, “Is that meant to be a pick-up line?”

It’s a joke, but Seungyoun immediately splutters a denial and flushes a colour he hasn’t succumbed to in a while. He garners an odd look for it in return before Hangyul reassures him that he’s just teasing.

“I knew that,” Seungyoun mutters petulantly. Turning away in embarrassment, he moves with purpose to his window and pulls it up, a cold blast of frigid winter air smacking them across the face. “C’mon, little Gyul-ie. Make sure you grab some of my blankets, it’s a bit nippy outside.”

“You don’t say.”

It turns out that Seungyoun’s super-secret spot is just the bit of the rooftop he can access from his bedroom. He’s used the hideout ever since he was a kid who was plucky enough to brave climbing out of his window despite the risk of breaking his neck on the pavement below; even now, he’s meticulously cleaned the snow off so that he can sit out here in winter. The two of them squeeze onto the dry spot, the sole blanket Hangyul grabbed wrapped around their shoulders.

“This is a nice super-secret spot,” Hangyul tells him, head tipped back to look at Seoul’s afternoon sky. It’s the palest shade of blue they’ve seen in a while, almost white at the edges. He lets out a low whistle. “God, that’s a view.”

Seungyoun tries not to be cliché in the way he gazes at his profile, but he fails and murmurs, “Yeah. It really is.”

“I don’t blame you for becoming a hermit if this is where you hang out.”

“As if,” he snorts, dragging his eyes back forward before Hangyul notices him staring. He looks down at the street of his neighbourhood, empty at this time of day due to the biting chill. Everyone’s inside cosied up next to the fire, leaving the streets bare of life. “I’ve just been sat at my desk studying or making music. Been making a lot of that recently, actually. You could say I’ve been inspired by recent events.”

He can practically taste Hangyul’s curiosity on what he means by that, but the younger doesn’t voice the question on his tongue. He’s glad for it, not sure what he would’ve replied with or why he even said it in the first place.

Instead, Hangyul switches the conversation to explaining the plot of an American drama he’s started watching recently. As always, he really gets into it, hands gesturing under the blanket, eyes bright as he passionately denounces the protagonist for double-crossing his best friend for his own goals. Seungyoun listens, attentive, swept up by the way Hangyul loses himself in his interests for the hundredth time. A soft smile plays on his lips as he absorbs Hangyul’s words. He feels so damn fond just sitting next to the younger boy.

It should be surprising how easy it is to talk to him considering what recently happened, but it’s not. Talking to Hangyul has become as easy as breathing since their not-date; with the other boy unaware of the kiss’ true recipient, it’s still the same on his end. Guilt should probably eat away at him in light of that, but Seungyoun’s too selfish to let it grip him just yet. He simply enjoys the moment while it lasts.

He laughs when Hangyul cracks wisecrack after wisecrack. He responds to his teases with his own jibes, poking into the other boy’s side to reprimand him. He offers advice when Hangyul confesses his worries about his upcoming recital, the wrinkle of his frown marring the handsome landscape of his face. He lets Hangyul shuffle closer to him when a particularly cold gust of wind sends a shiver through him like a ripple in a pond.

Because at the end of the day, Seungyoun is still half in love with this boy. He might be heartbroken, and he might hate himself for it later, but in the moment, all he cares about is savouring the seconds with Hangyul where Seungyoun’s not doing anything other than enjoying his company. Seconds he can commit to memory without feeling like he’s betrayed Hangyul’s trust.

“Fucking hell, it’s cold,” Hangyul grumbles after they’ve spent close to an hour on the rooftop. “Why does your super-secret spot not come with a fireplace?”

“Sorry, I should’ve asked for the builders to install it when they made the house,” Seungyoun deadpans. He nudges Hangyul by the shoulder to get up. “Let’s go inside if you’re feeling cold. I can make hot chocolate and we’ll watch a movie downstairs or something.”

“You had me at you making me something,” Hangyul says. He pushes himself to his feet with a groan, stretching his arms up high. “Ugh, I’ve got pins and needles in my legs. And I’ve literally lost all feeling in my toes. Yah hyung, your super-secret hiding spot has just cost your dongsaeng his toes, what are you going to do now?”

Seungyoun doesn’t get to tell him what he’s planning on doing now.

Because when Hangyul turns around to pretend to square up to him, he slips on a patch of ice that’s stubbornly clung onto the tiles despite his efforts to sweep it away and topples backwards off the roof with a yelp.

Seungyoun screams his name.

His hand flings out and a streak of white shoots out from his wrist. Frantic with his heart hammering in his chest, Seungyoun scrambles to the edge of the roof and peers over the edge, already fearing the worst. Speechless, Hangyul meets his gaze from where he hangs suspended in the air inches from the ground. His eyes are as wide as saucers.

“Oh God,” Seungyoun gasps. The tiles are freezing against his cheek when he sinks against them in relief. “Oh, you’re not dead. Thank God. You’re okay. You’re okay.”

He jumps down to a crouch beside Hangyul, the smack of his slippers muffled by the remnants of the snow in his driveway. Hand wrapping around the web secured to Hangyul’s torso, he tears it clear from his hoodie and tosses it to the side. He brushes away the stray strands anxiously.

“You’re not hurt, are you?” he asks, scanning Hangyul as if he’ll be able to tell through his clothing. “I mean, you might get some bruising, but I think you should be okay. No broken bones or anything though? Anything feel out of place?”

Hangyul doesn’t say anything. Just stares at him, dumbfounded.

It is then that Seungyoun realises what he’s just done.

He reels back so quickly it’s a wonder he doesn’t get whiplash. “I should go,” he squeaks, and then tucks tail and literally runs into his house as fast as he can. He slams the door shut behind him.

Shit.

Shit, shit, shitty shitfuck. He’s fucked up. He’s well and truly fucked up. There’s no coming back from this – it’s official, he might as well leave Seoul forever. São Paolo here he comes. It’s been a few years and his Portuguese is rusty, but he’ll get by there, he’s sure of it. Anything to avoid the reckoning that’s sure to come once Hangyul gets over his shock and realises who he’s been spending all his evenings with for the past couple of months.

Kind of like he is now.

Snow crunches against the gravel of his driveway as Hangyul storms up to the house. His fist hammers on the other side of the door in a furious tempo. “Seungyoun hyung, open the door!” he barks. When he makes no move to, he says, “I’m being serious, open the door!”

Oh God. His heart’s actually going to give out. He’s not ready for this confrontation, didn’t have enough time to prepare for the possibility that Hangyul might ever find out the truth.

Seungyoun screws his eyes shut in panic. “Go away!” he calls back. He feels like a three year old when crying such things, but he can’t face Hangyul yet. Or ever, for that matter. He just can’t. “Go home, Hangyul!”

“I’m not going anywhere, hyung. So you can open the door now or in seven hours for all I care. I’ll just stay out here yelling your name until you do.”

As if possessed by Wooseok’s spirit – and in quite possibly the worst moment he could’ve chosen for demonic inhabitation – Seungyoun scoffs, “You’re really going to spend all that time here? Do you not have a life to get to?”

“Just open the damn door.”

“No!”

“Hyung!”

“Go away, Hangyul!”

CHO SEUNGYOUN, OPEN THE DOOR.”

That does it.

“Fine!” Seungyoun cries, whipping around and tearing the front door open to reveal Hangyul on the other side, hand still curled into a fist in mid-air. He hisses, “Fine, I’ll open the door. There! It’s open. Now you can shout at me for fucking deceiving you all this time and not telling you who I really am. You can smack me across the face if you’d like or – or, punch me if that makes you feel better. I know, I get it, I understand, and I don’t blame you if you want to do that. I get it, you must think I’m a fucking creep who stalks you in his spare time, but I promise that’s not what I was doing.

“I genuinely just wanted to walk Dohyonnie home from cram school – I mean, I didn’t even know he was your brother when I first made the offer and I couldn’t just back out and leave him by himself when I did find out, that’s not who I am, but that doesn’t mean I meant for it to snowball into the rest of this. You might not believe me when I say this and I don’t blame you if you don’t, I clearly haven’t given you many reasons to trust me – but, but I’m sorry, Hangyul. I honestly am.”

His speech comes to a screeching halt. His chest heaves from running his mouth for so long without taking a breath and he sucks in a much-needed gasp of air. Hangyul watches him, unimpressed.

“Are you done?” he says flatly.

It’s a rhetorical question, but Seungyoun nods anyway. “Sorry,” he repeats. “I just… I’m so sorry for all of this. I know you must be freaked out. And I don’t blame you for it, but I promise I didn’t mean for this to happen. It just kind of… did.” He trails off with a wince.

God, that sounds beyond pathetic.

But it’s the only explanation he can offer.

None of this occurred with malicious intentions on his part and he really isn’t sure how it ended up coming to this point. This was never part of the plan. For months now, he’s been content to pine from the side, never making a move or attempting to seduce Hangyul into doing it for him. He put all suggestions to do that out of his mind, willing to just enjoy his company as a friend in both forms.

And then the kiss happened.

And now they’re here.

A line appears in the middle of Hangyul’s brow as his eyebrows pinch together. Seemingly deep in thought, he glances away to the side before he comes to a conclusion, draws himself together and says softly, “Hyung, I already knew it was you.”

What the fuck.

He blinks. “What? You what?”

“I didn’t at first,” he admits. He seems hesitant to meet Seungyoun’s eyes, instead watching his own fingers as he wraps them around the doorframe. “Like when we had that whole conversation about – about Spiderman’s arse and stuff, I didn’t know. Although it puts a lot of that day into perspective in hindsight, to be honest. But yeah, I had my doubts early on and I knew for certain by the time I spilled the Fanta on you. I just didn’t say anything because I figured you were keeping it secret for a reason.”

“I – ” Seungyoun’s mouth has forgotten how to work. He opens and closes it several times before finally spluttering, “How the fuck did you even guess that I’m – that it was me?”

This, Hangyul seems to find funny. He glances up at him in amusement, a wry grin curling the edge of his mouth. “You’re not very subtle, hyung,” he tells him. “You kept slipping up with details here and there.”

“What? No, I didn’t. I am the King of Subtlety, I’ll have you know. A subtlety connoisseur some might say.”

“Hyung. You literally spoke Portuguese to me both in the suit and out of it. How many people in Seoul of all places speak Portuguese?”

“You thought it was Spanish!” he shoots back indignantly.

Hangyul bats off the retort with a shrug. “Does it matter? The point still stands. You kept messing up and it just confirmed my suspicions that you were Spiderman. Like you kept asking me stuff about Dohyon that I’d only told Spiderman or talking about things that I’d only told Seungyoun hyung. You referred to Byungchan as Byungchannie about half a dozen times whenever we spoke about him, like you knew him or something. You once – “

“Okay, I get it,” he interrupts weakly. “I’m a lot worse at this double identity thing than I thought.”

“You’re terrible at it,” he says with the utmost sincerity.

Seungyoun frowns. “Thanks.”

Okay. So Hangyul has known about the true identity of Spiderman for most of the time that he’s been meeting up with the alter-ego. Out of respect for the secrecy, he chose to remain silent about his knowledge of the matter until Seungyoun accidentally slipped up around him in a way that even he couldn’t ignore. Okay. That’s not what he expected to find out today, but it’s okay.

Except.

If he knew who Spiderman really was this whole time, then that means that…

As if knowing exactly where his thoughts have lead him, Hangyul nods and mutters, “Yeah. I knew who I was kissing on New Year’s Eve. I knew it was you, hyung.”

If Seungyoun thought accidentally revealing himself was a shock to the system, this revelation just about makes his brain explode. There’s absolutely no way that Hangyul could’ve willingly kissed him knowing he was Seungyoun – but then again, that’s the only explanation that works. Unless he was somehow being mind-controlled into snogging him for whatever reason. And though not that’s not beyond the realms of possibility in this world, he has a hard time trying to figure out what kind of sick freak would waste their time getting a kick out of that shit.

“Y- You – I… what?” Seungyoun stammers, incredibly eloquent as per usual. His jaw drops, completely slack. “I – that doesn’t make any sense.”

Hangyul looks like he’s physically holding himself back from succumbing to the biggest eye-roll in history. He heaves a sigh. “Look, hyung, if we’re going to have this conversation, can we at least have it somewhere where I’m not freezing to death? Didn’t you say you were going to make me a hot chocolate earlier? I’d like to cash in on that offer before hypothermia kills me off.”

How can he think about hot chocolate at a time like this? Seungyoun’s torn between shaking the boy’s shoulders in exasperation and continuing to melt into an incomprehensible puddle.

He settles for nodding mutely and stepping aside in invitation. Hangyul’s shoulders slump in relief with a murmur of thanks and he brushes past him without hesitation, diving into the nearest room. It happens to be the living room, thankfully unoccupied by Seungyoun’s mother so they can continue their conversation freely.

When Seungyoun enters, Hangyul is crouched beside the fireplace, hands closer than they should be to the grill. He looks up at Seungyoun and seems to steel himself for the conversation ahead.

“Okay,” he says. “You can ask me whatever questions you want now.”

Seungyoun’s not even sure what the questions he wants to ask are. His brain is still struggling to process what’s happened. “You kissed me,” is what he settles for.

Hangyul nods. “I did. You kissed me back.”

“Yes.”

“And then ignored me.”

Seungyoun winces. “Yes. I can…explain that.” A sudden thought occurs to him. “Wait, but if you knew it was me, then how come – I mean, you were pissed off with me the last time we saw each other at the cram school, and I was in my suit. Understandably, of course. But then you came here today and were completely normal. How come you’re not – “

“Not ripping you a new one for treating me like a dickhead?” he suggests. When Seungyoun winces, he explains, “Not going to lie, if I had run into you a few days ago, I probably would’ve. What you did to me really hurt, hyung. But then Wooseok hyung mentioned that you seemed off to him recently and I realised that you were probably taking this a lot harder than I thought. That maybe you weren’t just being a jackass for no reason and there was something more to it. So I figured I’d come here and see what was up with you. And of course, once I did come here, I couldn’t even stay mad at you properly. Just being next to you made it fade away.”

He trails off, looking pensive.

When he speaks again, his voice is quiet. “You’re so confusing, hyung. I thought you – it seemed obvious that… Look, the way you act around me sometimes made me think that I had a chance. But when I gave you the opening, you threw it back in my face the next day. And like an idiot, I can’t even hold it against you. Even now, I can’t even stay mad properly. I just… I can’t.”

His words cause Seungyoun’s stomach to seize with a fresh wave of guilt. All this time, he’s been so caught up in how he feels about the situation that he didn’t fully grasp how hurtful his actions were. Even if it was the case that Hangyul only likes Seungyoun when he’s Spiderman, that still doesn’t give him the right to just disregard his feelings and blow him off without an explanation.

“I’m sorry,” he says. The apology gets caught in his throat with all his shame and regret, escaping him in a choked whisper.

Hangyul looks at him, oddly wistful. “Yeah,” he says heavily. “Me too.”

“I thought – “ Seungyoun starts.

He cuts himself off with a bite of his lip, not wanting to dive headfirst into his explanation without properly thinking his words through. Not when he’s already messed up so much. After a moment’s thought, he moves so he’s sat down directly next to Hangyul, looking at him eye-to-eye rather than down at him from across the room. When he speaks, his words are slow with consideration but sincere.

“I’m not trying to excuse what I did, but I can give you an explanation,” he says. “And you might not agree with it or like what I say, but it’s the reasoning I had. That sounds more arrogant than I intended and I’m sorry for that, but I want to speak truthfully with you. Even if it comes across a little frank.”

“That’s okay.”

“Okay,” Seungyoun echoes. He exhales a long puff of air. “Okay. Look, I’ve fancied you since pretty much the first time I laid eyes on you. You probably already know this considering what I said in the library – please don’t remind me of it, it makes me cringe whenever I think of how embarrassing I am – but I’ve liked you for months now. Not just because I think you’re really attractive, even though you’re honestly one of the best looking people I’ve seen in my life, but because – because I like who you are as a person too.

“I like how you tease Dohyon like it’s your day job, but also hype up everything he does like it’s the best thing since sliced bread. I like how passionate you get about whatever you’re talking about and how you love dance and how you can hold your own in everything you say or do. I like how we can talk about absolutely shit all for hours and I’ll still have a fun time. And I really, really like being able to know all of these things.”

As he reels off his list, Hangyul steadily turns pinker under the constant shower of compliments. He fidgets, looking off to the side. “You say all that,” he says, “but that doesn’t explain why you blew me off. Especially after telling me you liked me that night.”

“Because I thought my feelings were one-sided,” Seungyoun replies. “I’ve liked you for months, embarrassed myself in front of you like mad for most of them, but you never seemed to be into me the same way.”

At that, Hangyul snaps his head back, quick and fierce. “That’s not true!” he protests. “I’ve been plenty obvious about liking you. I literally asked you out on a date!”

“You asked out Spiderman, not me. You were interested in Spiderman, not me,” he says gently. “Not Seungyoun.”

“You are Spiderman,” Hangyul says. “It’s not like I practically fell in love with one but not the other. All the traits that I like in Spiderman are the same ones I like in the Seungyoun hyung that’s my friend. It’s the whole reason I even suspected that you guys were the same person in the first place. I thought I was going mad at first, trying to force the two of you into one person, but I know you, hyung. I know how you act, how you speak, how you move. How could I not realise you’re Spiderman?”

It’s a sweet statement, but Seungyoun’s stuck on one sentence and one sentence only.

“You’re in love with me?” he breathes.

Hangyul freezes in the middle of his passionate speech. The blush bounces back into his cheeks like an elastic band that’s just been released. “I thought you’d realised,” he says, avoiding the starry expression on Seungyoun’s face. “Byungchan always made out like I was so obvious about it. Said I had constant heart eyes around you. It’s why he kept bringing up Spiderman, to see if you’d react or get jealous.”

“I’ve never seen these supposed heart eyes before?”

“Hyung. I’ve literally checked you out while you were shirtless. So you’re either blind or about as observant as a brick wall.”

“You have never – oh.” Seungyoun stops short, remembering the Fanta incident. The dazed look as Hangyul gaped at Seungyoun’s torso, the odd flush in his neck, the strangled squeak of his voice. He thought Hangyul was coming down with something; he never even entertained the thought that he might’ve been checking him out. “I thought you were judging me for my tattoos.”

“Trust me, I was doing anything but judging you that day.”

He’s not sure how to react to that, though his cheeks decide an appropriate response is to visibly warm. Something in his chest croons with pride at the revelation.

Clearing his throat, Seungyoun returns to his previous point. “Well, I didn’t realise you liked me. I thought it was just Spiderman you fell for. At first, I thought I’d be okay with it because just being your friend was enough for me. But then we kissed, and I enjoyed it, but it was irresponsible of me to have done it in the first place. I mean, it’s not like I could kiss you as Spiderman but pretend like you weren’t anything to me when I was Seungyoun. I realised there wasn’t a way it would work moving forward which is why I avoided you afterwards.

“I’m not saying it was right or that I wasn’t a dickhead with the way I went about it, but that’s why I did what I did. It was selfish, I know, and I really am sorry that I hurt you with my actions. I’ll understand if you don’t think it was a good enough reason to, I just – “

“Stop,” Hangyul interrupts.

Seungyoun does so. “Um. Why?”

“You already know I’ve forgiven you.”

“I… I do?”

He sighs, “Yeah. I told you before that I can’t stay mad at you when I’m with you. Two minutes in the same room as you and I’ve already stopped being angry. And you look so sad and pitiful that I can’t help but forgive you. Especially because the way you talk makes me think that you think that you’re not as good as ‘Spiderman’ which is stupid because you are Spiderman so you’re only comparing yourself to yourself. Like, it’s not like I fell for Spiderman and then transferred those feelings to you when I realised you were him; I fell for you as a whole.” He looks Seungyoun dead in the eye, adding fiercely, “Spiderman’s just a suit, you know? The person you are when wearing the mask is still you. You don’t magically get a new personality with the costume. Stop thinking there’s a difference.”

Seungyoun doesn’t even know what to say anymore. He offers a tentative “okay” to appease Hangyul and receives an acknowledging nod for it.

Honestly, he’s a little exhausted from the constant twist of events. First, Hangyul sprung a surprise visit on him out of the blue. Then he gave Seungyoun the fright of his life when he fell off his roof, only to be stopped by Seungyoun’s enhanced reflexes. Then he dropped the truth bomb on him when he admitted to knowing Spiderman’s true identity all along and kissing him despite that – no, not just “despite it” but because of it, even. Now he’s found out that Hangyul has liked him for weeks now, dating back to at least as early as the Fanta incident, and not just because he’s Spiderman. But because he’s Cho Seungyoun. Sleep-deprived Musical Composition student and resident crackhead.

It’d be a lie to say that Seungyoun magically stops feeling like there’s a divide between his two personas with these revelations, that he no longer feels inferior to his superhero persona. That sort of insecurity doesn’t just disappear overnight, especially when it’s been built up over months. But his words do help.

“Thank you,” Seungyoun says after a moment. “That actually means a lot.”

Hangyul offers him a small smile. “I’m glad. I really hope you start to believe it, hyung. You deserve to see yourself the way the rest of us do.”

He hopes he does too.

“I hope it’s flattering,” Seungyoun jokes, aiming to lighten the atmosphere after the solemnness of their heart-to-heart. He leans back on his hands and pulls on a cocky grin. “It’s nothing less than I deserve, after all. Don’t you think?”

Hangyul responds with a shove to his chest. “Think again,” he scoffs over Seungyoun’s shriek as he topples to the ground. He muses, “You know for someone who has super-strength and enhanced reflexes, you are always caught off-guard.”

“It’s to even the playing field,” Seungyoun bluffs.

“Even the playing field? That’s really rich coming from the one who kept using his superpowers during our snowball fight.”

He shoves himself up onto his forearms, hissing, “That was different. That was war.”

“You’re a dork,” Hangyul informs him before placing his hands on Seungyoun’s shoulders and kissing him.

He collapses to the floor.

Needless to say, it’s embarrassing. He’s embarrassing. By this point, he should probably be used to it, but it’s like Seungyoun is determined to outdo himself every time. He doesn’t even bother to move, just lays on the ground and wishes that a sudden hole would materialise just to swallow him into the pits of the earth so he can escape the way Hangyul looms over him, equipped with a flat stare.

Half-helpless, half-defensive, Seungyoun says, “You caught me off-guard,” in answer to the unspoken ‘seriously, hyung?’ in Hangyul’s expression. “It came out of nowhere.”

“You’re right, I should’ve given a heads-up,” says Hangyul, only half-joking. He adjusts so that he’s lying parallel to Seungyoun, one calf strewn over his leg so he can hover over him. His hand comes up to cup Seungyoun’s face, his touch as light as a feather. “I’m going to kiss you now if that’s alright.”

His throat suddenly feels very dry. “Yeah, that’s alright,” he says faintly.

Kissing right-side up is much better than kissing someone when hanging upside down from a tree. It’s still soft and warm, but there’s also a sense of solidness, of being in the here and now. When there’s a body that’s pressing down on him, fingers splayed across his cheek, Hangyul’s chest against his as he moves to deepen the kiss. It feels less like a fairy tale dream this way and so much more real. Seungyoun’s hands move of their own volition to circle around Hangyul’s back as the seam of his mouth comes undone beneath him. He pulls him down, pulls him closer, relishing in the way the other is half-draped over his body, pinning him to the carpet.

Because Hangyul is here and he’s real. He’s not just some shadow of imagination cooked up in the hot white flashes of a crush. He’s not a caricature of the boy that Seungyoun has latched onto in his infatuation. He’s here in his entirety, kissing Seungyoun on his living room floor because he’s half in love with him.

When they pull apart, Seungyoun can count every lash that frames Hangyul’s eyes. Eyes that crinkle at the edges with soft joy as he looks down at him. Seungyoun feels his cheeks bunch up as he answers with his own exhilarated smile.

“You know my mum could walk in at any moment,” he says conversationally.

Hangyul reels back from him from him so quickly it’s a wonder he doesn’t snap his neck in the process. “Don’t say things like that!”

“What? It’s true, she could. She’s home, you know.”

“Still,” he insists. “I want to make a good impression on her. Not be the kind of guy she walks in on making out with her son the first day she’s met me.”

Seungyoun sits up, still grinning. “Aw, that’s cute. You care about impressing my mum.”

“Well, if I’m dating her son, then why wouldn’t I?”

Dating. The word sends a spark of excitement through his body all the way down to the tips of his toes. He feels the elation taking hold of him by the second. On the outside, though, he chooses to tease, “Who said we’re dating?”

Hangyul freezes.

For a moment, there’s a shadow of fear stamped across his features, but then he catches Seungyoun’s gaze – must see the jest that glimmers there, or the rosy smitten hue of how he truly feels – and responds with a light smack to Seungyoun’s thigh. He pretends to turn his back on him in indignation.

“Well, if you’re going to act like that, I don’t see why I should date you.”

Laughing, Seungyoun moves forward so he can drape himself over his back, arms wrapping around his waist and cheek pressed against Hangyul’s. “Don’t be like that,” he chides. “We didn’t go through all this pain just to back out now. We can date all you want.”

“You mean all you want,” he scoffs, even as he places his hands on top of Seungyoun’s and guides them to sit on his midsection. Their fingers rest on his torso, still interlocked. “You’re the one who likes my face so much.”

“I thought we agreed never to bring that up.”

“I am literally never going to let you forget it,” Hangyul promises. After a moment, he adds, “Although I can be persuaded to keep quiet if someone buys me lots and lots of lamb skewers. Out of the kindness of their heart, knowing that I am a student with about 3000 won to my name who has recently had his heart broken and could sure use the pick-me-up.”

“I mean, I’m also a broke student – “

“What’s that? You think my face is – “

“ – but I guess we have a deal,” Seungyoun finishes hurriedly. He presses a fond smile into Hangyul’s hair. “It’s a date.”


 

“I knew it,” Byungchan crows, standing on top of the table in the SU when he spots Seungyoun and Hangyul walk in together hand-in-hand. “I knew it! I knew that you two would get together. Call me Raven Baxter everyone because Choi Byungchan is officially a psychic.”

Wooseok rolls his eyes. “Everyone knew it, idiot. We all saw it coming from a mile away.”

“Well, I knew it first. After all, I am the mastermind behind HASHTAG OPERATION OTP SEUNGYUL FOR LIFE and I’m the one who brought them together.”

“You did nothing.”

“Did too!”

“Literally name one thing you did that got them together – “

Seungwoo sighs, warily tracking the tread of Byungchan’s feet on the table. He pulls his chips close to his chest. “Byungchannie, please get off the table. People are eating here.”

“Yeah, you tramp,” Wooseok adds, eager as ever to throw fuel onto the fire. “People eat off this table.”

“You’re just jealous because I’m, like, five feet taller than you now,” Byungchan says.

Staring him dead in the eye with an eerily blank face, Wooseok jabs the blunt end of a pencil into Byungchan’s exposed ankle. He shrieks, leaping back from the assault. Of course, since he’s standing on the table of a six seater booth, this just means that he ends up standing on Kookheon’s arm and crashing down into the crack between the table and the booth, long legs splayed awkwardly in the air. Kookheon screams, a wayward limb knocks into Seungwoo’s chips which sends them flying into every direction, and Wooseok bursts into a round of laughter so fierce that he nearly dry-heaves.

Seungyoun and Hangyul arrive at the booth just in time to see the madness unfold first-hand.

“What the fuck did I just see?” Hangyul asks blankly.

“Byungchan’s very excited,” Jinhyuk replies in a calm manner that only someone who’s known Byungchan since they were toddlers can carry around him. He pushes his chips across to Seungwoo who has not moved an inch since he lost his food, either in shock or simply resigned to his fate. “Wooseok is Wooseok. The usual really.”

The two watch Wooseok record Kookheon frantically try to shove Byungchan’s limbs to where they need to be. He hasn’t once stopped laughing. The man’s literally gone hysterical.

“Sometimes… I regret befriending the gang gang,” Hangyul says after a moment.

Seungwoo sighs. “Me too, Hangyul,” he says, pained. He mechanically places a sole chip into his mouth, looking as though it tastes like ash on his tongue. “Me too.”

Since it doesn’t look as if Byungchan and Kookheon are going to be done anytime soon, Seungyoun opts to slide into the booth beside Jinhyuk. The other shuffles up to Wooseok to make room, arm draping over his shoulder, and then Seungyoun pulls Hangyul in beside him, the two of them squeezing into the space for one. It takes some manoeuvring, but once they’ve settled, they share a soft, private smile and Hangyul squeezes his hand.

Seungwoo coos from the other side. “Aw, you two are sweet,” he says, a teasing lilt to his compliment. “Seungyounnie’s in love.”

He doesn’t even bother with a snarky rebuttal. Rising to such taunts is below him now that Seungyoun is well and truly in the honeymoon stage. Clearly, the same sentiments are not shared by his best friend because Wooseok somehow manages to simultaneously insult Seungwoo for being “old and alone” while also claiming that Seungyoun and Hangyul are sickening (albeit while defending that they’re within their rights to be as a fresh couple).

“I mean,” he adds with a shrug that tells Seungyoun he’s about to drop some hot goss about him, “if I had to suffer through months of him mooning over Hangyul and whining about how he’ll never be good enough for him, this is nothing. At least he’s happy now.”

Sighing in resignation, Seungyoun closes his eyes. “Thanks for that,” he says. Way to make him look suave in front of his man.

“Anytime,” he simpers.

“Wait, is this why you were so mean to Hangyul for a while?” Kookheon asks Wooseok as he shoves the last bit of Byungchan’s leg underneath the table. He sinks against the back of the booth, exhausted. “I was wondering what he’d done to piss you off.”

Hangyul gasps. “I knew I wasn’t just imagining it!”

“I wasn’t mean to him,” Wooseok says stiffly although he is careful to avoid looking in their direction. He pretends to be very busy with sipping his boba tea. “I was perfectly civil.”

“Which is Wooseok-speak to mean you froze him out.”

“Hey,” Jinhyuk protests, coming to his boyfriend’s defence, “he could’ve been worse.”

“I don’t think I want to know what’s worse.”

At that, Wooseok sends Hangyul a smile. It’s only a small quirk of his pursed mouth, but it’s cold and merciless. “Break Seungyoun’s heart and you’ll find out,” he says, the promise as saccharine as fresh tangerines on a summer morning. When the younger visibly gulps, he smiles much more genuinely – which is somehow all the more terrifying. He admits, “I do like you, Hangyul. You’re a good match for this idiot.”

“Hey!” Seungyoun protests. “I’m not that much of an idiot.”

“Debatable,” Byungchan says. “Hangyul told me you thought he was judging you for being a rogue, anti-social and rebellious hooligan from the streets because of your tattoos. Not that he was trying to hold himself back from mounting you there and then.” He ignores the swift kick Hangyul lands on his leg, adding, “You should’ve seen him when he was describing the scene to me. There were buckets of drool coming from his mouth, hyung. I thought I was going to have to whip out an umbrella soon.”

“Stop lying,” Hangyul exclaims. “You chat so much rubbish.”

“Absolute buckets.”

“I’m honestly going to kill you if you don’t shut up.”

Such threats have never fazed Byungchan, else he would’ve stopped his antics several years ago. He meets Hangyul’s embarrassed glare with a cheeky smile.

“Oh yeah, that reminds me,” he says after a moment. “Now that you’re with Seungyoun hyung – which I called, by the way, I knew it would happen before the end of the year – how are you going to break the news to Spiderman? It’s kind of obvious the guy has a huge crush on you.”

Wooseok snorts into his boba tea.

Ignoring him, Seungyoun turns to Hangyul to see what his response is going to be. At first, he assumed that the other confided his suspicions to Byungchan about what Spiderman’s real identity is, but Hangyul reassured him early on that he hadn’t shared them with anyone out of respect for Seungyoun’s secret. He wouldn’t have blamed him if he had turned to Byungchan about the issue since they’re best friends, but it’s rather touching to see that he cares so much. Even when he was going crazy about whether Seungyoun and Spiderman were the same person, he kept it to himself.

Even now, Hangyul just shrugs. “I’m sure he’ll be okay with it. He doesn’t seem like the type to get annoyed if I’m interested in someone else.”

This time, both Jinhyuk and Wooseok start to snicker to each other.

Meanwhile, Byungchan is all gasps. “But it’s Spiderman!” he exclaims. “He’s so cool. And rugged. No offence, Seungyounnie hyung. I love you and everything, but you know Spiderman is, like, Seoul’s sweetheart. Anyone would die to date him.”

“Anyone would die to date Seungyoun hyung too,” Hangyul says defensively. “He’s just as good as any spandex-wearing superhero.”

“But what about Spiderman’s arse?” Wooseok, ever the opportunist when it comes to making fun of his friends, leans across Jinhyuk to smirk at the new couple. The sick bastard is enjoying this far too much. “Are you sure you want to let that go?”

Seungwoo lets out a soft, disapproving tsk under his breath. “Wooseokie,” he says reprimandingly.

“What, Seungwoo hyung? All I’m saying is that the general consensus at this table is that Spiderman has an impressive physique and I just think that – “

“I’m happy with Seungyoun hyung,” Hangyul interrupts. His fingers, still intertwined with Seungyoun’s, squeeze his hand comfortingly and he meets his gaze, firm and determined. When he speaks, his voice is soft at the edges. “He’s the one I fell in love with.”

A small silence falls upon the table.

Then Wooseok breaks the quiet with a round of exaggerated gagging which sends everyone into peels of laughter, Hangyul and Seungyoun included (though they can’t help but also roll their eyes in exasperation). Throughout the chaos, Seungyoun keeps his attention trained on his boyfriend and the sincerity and genuine happiness he sees there softens his heart. A steady warmth builds from the very heart of his body and spreads across the surface of his skin like electricity until he’s sparking at the tips of his fingers.

In a swift, split-second decision, Seungyoun turns to face his friends. “Actually,” he says, just loud enough to be heard over their laughter, “I have something to tell you guys.” He waits until he’s sure he has everyone’s attention before he admits, “I’m Spiderman.”

Another silence.

Byungchan laughs a little disbelievingly. “You’re what?” It’s clear he thinks it’s a lie.

Now Seungyoun could try to argue his case with words or explain the whole crazy thing from start to finish like he did with Wooseok when he caught Seungyoun in his suit over a year and a half ago. But because it’s Byungchan and he kind of wants to see the little brat freak out, he answers by shooting a small web onto his phone and snatching it out of his grasp.

Byungchan gapes at him in shock.

Hangyul whispers, “That was kind of hot.”

And then the table explodes with noise once again. Byungchan literally screams, jumping up to launch across the table and grab Seungyoun’s wrists, pressing his eyes to them as if he’ll be able to ascertain how the fuck that happened through fucking microscopic analysis or whatever. The chips that Jinhyuk kindly offered to Seungwoo aren’t snatched out of harm’s way in time so end up squished under Byungchan’s hip, much to Seungwoo’s distress.

(Meanwhile, Wooseok demands to know exactly why that was supposedly hot since he is of the opinion that it was rather unhygienic.)

“Did you know this?” Byungchan cries, eyes swivelling across their group. They land on Hangyul. “Did you know?”

Hangyul laughs. “Damn right I did.”

As Byungchan demands a thesis of an explanation to be presented to him right away and Kookheon despairs about how he swooned over Spiderman’s arms in front of the man himself and Jinhyuk excitedly recounts how he found out to Seungwoo, Seungyoun remains a pillar of calm in the middle of the madness. He never expected to reveal his secret to so many people, even if he knew his crazy group of friends can be trusted with his life. But he supposes this is all part of the journey of accepting that Spiderman and Seungyoun truly are one and the same, part of letting the two parts of his lives marry.

He thinks of how all of this started all those months ago when Byungchan decided that they were all to adopt a friend he made from the dance department; when Seungyoun, sleep-deprived and struggling through his textbooks, took one look at Lee Hangyul and promptly surrendered his heart, soul and what remained of his dignity to the younger boy. He thinks of Dohyon with his baby cheeks and odd sense of humour that sets him apart, of how Hangyul dotes on his little brother, and how he loves with such a big heart that Seungyoun couldn’t help but want to see more of it, experience just a taste of what he has to offer.

What a rollercoaster of a journey it’s been, getting to this point.

And though he took some wrong turns along the way, free-falling and threatening to crash and burn, here Seungyoun is. His hand secure in Hangyul’s and his mask just that tiny bit looser.