Allegedly, Jisung wasn’t the best cook out there.
Said Chan once but Chan was also the self-proclaimed best cook of their shared apartment while he had, one time, took all the leftovers in the fridge and put it into his ramen. Turned out that chocolate and (apparently expired) strawberry milk wasn’t a good mix and he was sick for three days. In conclusion, Chan’s opinion was irrelevant, and he now prohibited from being left alone in the kitchen.
No, the real cook in — he must admit rather small — group of Jisung’s close friends was Changbin. Which was a shame, really. Because if Chan’s bragging was annoying, they could at least make fun of him for its unfoundedness while for Changbin, it was annoying and justified. Therefore, it was technically even worse.
Jisung couldn’t really complain about it though. After all, he was the one profiting the most of Changbin’s unfairly good culinary skills as he was his favorite roommate.
(Jisung wasn’t sure about the last part, to be honest, it seemed like Changbin had a fight with Chan just before and it was the only part he caught in between. They made up afterward but Jisung liked to think it was still relevant even if he never brought this up again.)
The thought of splashing the cream tart Changbin was doing into his face was tempting at times while he was rambling about how good of a person I am, don’t you agree Sung? but it would also mean he would be the one cleaning up and he wouldn’t get anything to eat so Jisung had learned to suck it up throughout the years. The muffin and late-night snack were worth it.
So, when Chan made Jisung sit down with the rest of them to organize Changbin’s birthday, it was natural that he immediately volunteered to be on the Gateau Blaster Team (terrible name but Felix was to blame for this one and Jisung was too nice to say anything). It was not as much as he wanted per se to cook but more like he had a debt to repay. In sweet.
Behind Chan, he could see Felix and Seungmin exchanging a guilty look and avoiding his desperate attempt at getting help. Frustrated, Jisung huffed and crossed his arms and when Chan tried to rub his arms, he whipped it away from him. As he said before, Jisung wasn’t the best cook. But refusing to let him into Gateau Blaster was overreacting. Hearing Jeongin, Jisung entered a kitchen and the chance of an oven exploding escalated from 40%. It only happened one time, and no one got hurt except the mug Hyunjin offered them when he got back from Jeju and it was an ugly mug anyway that they wanted to get rid of, so they should have thanks Jisung instead of forbidding him to cook a goddamn cake.
Seeing the situation wasn’t getting any better and Jisung’s upper lips were starting to tremble dangerously, Felix made his way between them two and hugged gently Jisung’s waist. “Listen bub, getting a gift is good too! You know Changbin like no other, it will be fun!”
“But Liiix, I just want to bake something from Changbin with you… he’s always doing the most for me and I want to show that I really care about him and… I won’t be alone, anyway? You will be here with Minho, right? I swear I will be nice and follow your instructions and your instructions only, pleaaase!”
At this point, Jisung knew he won when Felix’s expression fell down slightly, and turned to Chan and Jeongin, giving them a pleading look. Apparently, the combination of both of their youngest friends pouting was too much to handle and Jeongin massaged his temple and ended up shrugging at Chan’s offended expression. “I give up,” but before Jisung could cry of joy he added with a threatening finger, “but Jisung is never alone in the kitchen, he doesn’t decide or is allowed to touch food you didn’t tell him to. Am I clear?”
With a bright smile, Jisung nodded eagerly and proceeded to do a little dance with a laughing Felix. Nothing could go wrong, he would make the best cake Changbin had ever eaten in his entire life. And maybe, maybe he would find the courage that the only thing in the world Jisung’s liked more than Changbin’s cake was their creator.
Nothing could go wrong.
“I’m sorry but I really can’t come, one of the babies got sick this morning and Minho is not taking this well, plus we need to go to the vet…”
Nothing was going well. At all. The telephone still on speaker lying on the kitchen counter, Jisung stared at the bag full of everything he bought earlier. Encouraged by Minho, they did not plan beforehand as he claimed: “best things are done under pressure”. A theory was yet to be approved but neither Felix nor he had dared to tell him no. Jisung was starting to seriously regret that decision now.
At least he had a vague idea of what he needed to buy, watching Changbin bake had its advantage and therefore had raided his local convenience store under the terrified eyes of the cashier. The three bags certainly took a toll on his credit card and ignoring the worried messages from his bank, Jisung had come back from his 8 AM trip and had sat in his couch, waiting for the other to arrive. Until he received the phone call.
Dizzy by the information he was just hit with, Jisung stayed quiet while Felix’s comforting voice was talking to someone next to him. Hearing Minho’s whiny voice awoke something in him. A bit of pity (Minho’s kittens were cute, and he didn’t want them to be sick) but mostly annoyance — Changbin’s birthday was more important than being sad over one’s cats!
“Minho! You can’t throw out the window all of our plans like that! At least give me my best friend!”
“Listen, heartless rodent, I need to have my emotional support boyfriend with me right now.”
“You’re just going to end up fucking! And Jeongin had said to not leave me alone!”
Cutting short Felix’s stuttered excuses, Minho’s “fuck you” was the last thing he heard before the characteristic ringing of someone hanging upon you, and your problems resonated in the empty apartment.
That went well.
Even if this unexpected betrayal unsettled Jisung a bit, it was fine. This cake would be done, one way or another, Minlix-less or not.
Their kitchen wasn’t a modern one. It could be even defined as “objectively dangerous” by some people (Jeongin), but dangerous has never stopped Jisung before. Yet. Could change soon. Full of fresh-anger, Jisung tried to canalize this energy into finding where the utensils hid in the wooden shelf.
If this cake may be the last thing Jisung had to left on earth, then so be it. Poems will be written about this desperate lover, his love so intense and burning that his kitchen had caught fire. Maybe it could be his epitaph. Even better, his confession could be his epitaph. “Soz Binnie, btw i love u :p”.
Jisung sighed while putting down a dented pan. His — admittedly morbid — thoughts could only distract him so much from reality.
Because now, a new problem was to be taken into account: Jisung didn’t really know what kind of sweet Changbin liked. The irony lies in the fact Changbin could name instantly name all of Jisung’s favorite patisseries in a heartbeat and then complain how many times he was asked to bake them at unholy hours. It hadn’t come to Jisung’s mind that maybe, his favorite sweets weren’t Changbin’s one. Unconsciously, he had previously thought the presence of his friends would have solved this problem but Jisung had learned long ago that life didn’t want to work his way and very loudly so.
Suddenly, it struck Jisung.
Changbin loved peanuts.
At least, it’s what he gathered after months of investigation. It started with Chan and a sudden wish of peanuts and as a good roommate, Jisung had come out of his way to buy it for him — absolutely not because he was sick of Chan’s loud sighs.
The jar full of peanuts stayed exactly 9 hours in their house. What happened to it was still a mystery to this day for Jisung. After buying it and gently leave it on the kitchen table for Chan to see, Jisung had eagerly sought for his friend, claiming there was a surprise for him at home. And indeed, it was a surprise to a kitchen table very jar-full-of-peanut-less when they came back home that night. Chan hasn’t questioned it too much, thinking it was another of Jisung’s bad prank.
Offended wasn’t a word strong enough to describe how Jisung had felt at this exact moment. So this is what was happening when he was trying to be actually nice to his friends? Turned out, after a bit of digging, there was one potential culprit who was home during the robbery. Seo Changbin.
Now that he had a suspect, Jisung had needed a motive. If it wasn’t for his recent binge-watching of City Hunter, Jisung would have had given up by now. But, long story short and several missing peanuts jars later, the wannabe detective had found an explication good enough. Changbin loved peanuts so much he was taking it all for himself. Which was fine, but didn’t explain why he was hiding from them?
At that time, Jisung wouldn’t say it vexed him, being kept secret from but he just never bring the subject again on the table and had tried to forget about all of this and just… bought regularly peanuts home. This whole thing was stupid when he was thinking back about it but at least he had now a direction for his cake and, hopefully, successful confession.
For a moment it was silence as Jisung met Changbin’s eyes. The flour made a soft sound while hitting the floor. Or was it the sound of Changbin’s sports bag? Jisung genuinely could not tell, too startled by the sudden arrival. In the list of thing that was not supposed to happen there was: his best friends standing him up, not knowing what recipe wouldn’t make his house blow up, burning himself with hot chocolate, ending up deciding to take a nap, waking up 4 hours later and finally, the one person who happened to be his crush and the recipient of said cake showing up unexpectedly after his third meltdown over the stupid oven.
“What the hell are you doing…”
“You, cooking?” Changbin raises an eyebrow at the mess Jisung had made in the kitchen. A bottle of milk ripped out and dripping softly on the floor was lying on the table while the white flour had invaded the air of the small room. As they were starting to have trouble breathing, Changbin opened the window and Jisung silently cursed himself to have not thought of this earlier. The burned smell could have disappeared way before anyone had arrived. “And for whom murder?”
“You’re so mean,” pouted Jisung, vainly hiding the rest of the massacre behind him. “Maybe I was just being nice and wanted to make something for my friends.”
Jisung knew Changbin too much to not notice his attitude switching slightly as he was looking at his state. In a vain attempt to compose himself more, Jisung wiped quickly his cheeks, leaving a white stain on his hand. It was not as successful as it wishes it was, according to the smirk slowly forming on Changbin’s face.
“Come here,” the world seems to slow down around Jisung, except for Changbin who was coming at a resolved pace to Jisung. “Han Jisung in the kitchen. Truly a sight.” Changbin was close, too close, trapping Jisung against the counter, between his arms.
Feeling his breathing’s quickening and a blush making up his way up to his face, Jisung laughed nervously, putting a hand on the counter and the other on Changbin’s chest. This action, who seemed like a decent decision - keeping Changbin at a distance while not collapsing because of his weakened legs - turned out to be torture. He forgot Changbin had been hitting the gym lately and now had actual muscles that he could feel moving under his palm.
If the timer didn’t ring, Jisung could not tell what his next action would have been. Maybe something like kissing Changbin. Or passing out. Instead, he pushed Changbin off of him a bit too harshly and rushed to the oven. Someone must have taken pity out of him this time because the cake looked actually decent. By decent, read: not completely burned and only slightly green on the sides.
Jisung glanced toward a confused Changbin and took a big breath before shakingly ask: “Do you want to taste?”
The surprise, for this cake at least, was already ruined anyway.
Grabbing the platter harder (he did not trust his sweaty hands), Jisung came up where Changbin had seated and put down the cake in front of him. He did not realize how much he was shaking until he had to cut it and the knife almost fell out of his hands. A hand came to hold his, and Jisung didn’t have the courage to met the burning gaze of his crush and just silently gave him the knife.
Their table wasn’t the strongest but it could at least hold the weight of Jisung and a cake. It would be a lie if he said he wasn’t nervous and feel like dying more each second that passed by, but Jisung must admit that he was also a bit thrilled to see Changbin eat something he had done. He and no one else, with his blood (just a drop and it wasn’t intentional), sweat and tears (only out of frustration after his nap). His heart was loudly resonating into his ears when the first bite was taken.
Trying not to stare too hard at Changbin’s lips, Jisung was too impatient to wait for him to stop chewing and leaned over the table to get a glimpse of his expression. “So? How is it?”
“What did you put in there?”
Jisung deflected at Changbin’s tone. Trying to light up the mood and ignoring his heart who he could physically feel getting heavier, Jisung forced a laugh out and winked at his friend. “Guess?”
“No Jisung, I’m serious.” And indeed, Changbin had never looked more serious while talking to him. Jisung was not sure if he liked it. “What did you put in there?”
At this point, Jisung had given up on joking around and was just focusing on making sure his tears haven’t fallen yet. His voice came out particularly weak and cracked on a word: “I don’t know? Chocolate, eggs, flour? Ah and also peanut but-”
Before he could finish his sentence, Changbin was rushing out the room. If not incredibly confused, Jisung would have been hurt. Screw that, it did sting. First Changbin had acted all cold and serious and then he straight up puked up his cake? Was it that bad? Did everything Jisung tried was a failure, and he was going to die alone and without a nice epitaph out of pure shame?
Overthinking had never done Jisung any good before and it would not start now. Even if he programmed a self-deprecating and crying session later, Changbin’s well-being was still more important.
A quick peek in the bathroom revealed a slumped Changbin on the floor, breathing heavily. Worried but still careful, Jisung approached and kneeled down before him to take a better look at his face. Beyond the fact he was stunning and he really really wanted to kiss him, Changbin wasn’t looking like he was on the verge of death, only a bit paler than usual. Which was good. Maybe it was not his cake, he was just getting sick.
Hopeful, Jisung brings a hand to feel Changbin’s forehead. The other said nothing as he pushed his bangs out the way and if Jisung was delusional enough, he might as well think Changbin was leaning into his touch.
“Hyung, are you ok? I’m sorry if you didn’t like my cake, I really tried…”
“Jisung. I’m allergic to peanuts.”
Shocked, Jisung almost broke his neck by looking up at Changbin. They both winced at the unnatural crack that his neck made and the warm hand that came to cover it wasn’t helping in the slightest. “What? And you didn’t tell me?”
“I didn’t think it was vital information…” To be fair, he looked genuinely sheepish. It’s not like Jisung cooked every day (or at all really) so he must have thought it would not affect him.
“How could it not be one? I almost killed you and-” Overwhelmed, Jisung felt his eyes getting sweaty again and a sob breaking out, shaking up his small frame.
The hand previously on his neck was quickly rejoined by another under his chin. This whole thing was too humiliating for Jisung to handle and he firmly closed his eyes. The familiar and reassuring voice of Changbin made him clench a fist onto his shirt. “No, don’t cry… I swear, it wasn’t bad. If not for my allergy, I would have eaten it all!”
“You’re just saying that…”
“I’m not! I swear, look I pinky promise.” Sniffling, Jisung opened an eye to observe Changbin, almost panicky, taking one of his hands to make a pinky promise. It was a nice hand. Changbin was nice. Jisung had almost killed him and he was still nice.
There were a lot of things Jisung wanted to say to Changbin. How much he liked, no loved, everything about him. Starting from his nice hands (that fitted perfectly into his), to his visceral passion, burning bright and hot, a volcano never sleeping, to the soft hours they shared, despite Jisung felt too much and not enough, he was still there. He was always here. It came in every form in Jisung's life, from hot cookies left exposed on the kitchen table, to gently ruffled hair making him turn a dainty pink.
Jisung had a hundred promises and words to tell Changbin but the only thing that came out made him turn crimson. “You forgot to seal it…” It was the end, Jisung was convinced of it. Everything was going to be over in a few, he could as well finish it properly.
“You’re supposed to seal it with a kiss, right?” The sudden rush of confidence died had quickly as it came, when Jisung read the incredulous expression on Changbin’s face. Well, at least he tried. “I… Nevermind, just ignore me. This is so humiliating please, I-”
Changbin’s lips felt as soft as they looked. It was warm, so warm and Jisung wondered how could he feel like burning and drowning at the same time. All the time he had thought about kissing the other was useless, nothing could ever come close to the real thing and Jisung felt tears streaming down his face again. Not wanting to ruin the moment, he responded eagerly to the movement of Changbin’s lips again his. Admittedly, it was saltier than he would have liked to but being a crybaby was part of the package.
The giggle of Changbin after Jisung had to break the kiss to take a breath was heartbreaking. Pouting at Changbin’s coo over his sweater paws whipping his wet cheeks, Jisung whispered softly. “M sorry I almost killed you…”
“Come here, you big baby.”
The day did not go as he had planned but Jisung was suddenly thankful for the sick cat and deathly peanuts. At least, he made up for the last one by kissing it better for as long as Changbin would kept him around. And something told him it would take a while but Jisung had time. So much time.
(“Wait, does that mean we’re boyfriends?”
“I mean… Only if you want to… And you never cook for me alone again.”
“I was going to protest, but that’s fair enough I guess.”
“God, I like you so much.”
“I like you too, loser.”)