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Never say never

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“okay so when will you date me”

“never”

Those words continuously ring in his head once more, almost going deaf by now. It wasn’t like the older had said that to him directly; it was just some playful banter while texting each other, a few hours after the older had asked for his number regarding their shared classes. There were a few more exchanges somehow similar to that in the next days that came, usually, Minhee is the one chasing (read: flirting) while Yohan just flatly turns him down. Looking back at it now, it makes Minhee laugh because he can clearly remember how it was the other who asked him out first to be official boyfriends.

Official,” perhaps could be the most beautiful word ever for Minhee of that time and to the Minhee of now. He can vaguely remember how in a whim of the moment, after everything he has witnessed at Seungyoun’s place, he randomly asked Yohan who was busy enjoying himself at the party with something he was glad he did.

 

To: | 

random but mayhaps you wanna fuck around and fake date maybe?

 

Minhee types in his phone as a new message with no receiver yet before looking up once more to see a sight he wishes he wasn’t doing so. There, right in front of him, was Yunseong with his friends, chatting away with red cups in their hands. Minhee never fails to notice the way how the latter’s hand casually places itself by Donghyun’s waist and pulls him closer flushed to the side. What irks Minhee the most though was how natural it seemed and the younger didn’t even seem fazed by it. It makes him think and wonder how long has it been and what went wrong that made the older drop him quick and replace him with someone younger just like that.

It’s only been days and everything still seems so fresh for Minhee that he could be sad and moping now but thanks to the alcohol in his system, his mind is now buzzing with a list of options he can go for just to get something out of what happened. He could make a ruckus now and say shit about Yunseong but that’ll only dampen the mood; even more, since it’s supposed to be a celebratory party for the semester that ended with good results, he’d feel bad causing some unwanted drama.

Turning back to his phone screen once more, he takes a few gulps from his drink before starting to scroll through his contacts. The first number at the top was Yunseong’s which he only scrolls past. There was Dongpyo, Eunsang, Jungmo, and Moonhyun but he skips them because he’s pretty sure the boys from his circle are just gonna clown him for his stupid idea. It kinda takes a while before he gets to the bottom and none of which seems to qualify for his plan since they’re either people he knows he won’t be meeting anymore or are friends too of his circle but not to Yunseong. He was almost giving up ‘til he saw a “Yohan” at the bottom of the list. His eyebrows furrow at that, finding the name familiar yet also unfamiliar. Exactly at that moment, he heard Yunseong’s voice call out for a “Yohan” which makes him look up and a man who seems to be older than them makes his way towards Yunseong. From where he’s situated, he watches the two interact and suddenly the gears in his head are working as he comes up with a more concrete plan, as he’d like to think, finally deciding to hit the send button.

Yohan is a batchmate of the seniors, Yunseong included, but had to stop for a few semesters for his injuries as a taekwondo athlete, hence becoming almost at the same year level as Minhee. He remembers sharing a few classes with Yohan and as a block representative, Yohan had asked for his number and the only thing they ever talked about are the things that happened in class since the older barely attends them. (Maybe he did playfully flirt with him through text too which the other just flatly rejects and brushes off every time, bringing up another topic related to classes.) With that fact alone, Minhee was sure the people in his circle barely knows him in a personal level which is great and him knowing Yunseong is a bonus.

The ping his phone makes cuts him from his thoughts, noticing how Yohan had looked at his way before opening the message.

 

From: Yohan

fjfjdj that's sudden but I don't see why not

 

Minhee gapes at the response, completely in disbelief that he had to read the message over and over again; then it hits him, the sudden waves of embarrassment, that he types back a reply, trying to make himself sound so nonchalant despite the panic rising in him.

 

To: Yohan

it was a random, passing, stupid thought after looking back on our previous text messages

 

The other was quick to reply though since there’s suddenly a new message.

 

From: Yohan

but I don't mind fake dating

 

At this point, Minhee had to pinch himself just to check if he’s dreaming or not. It’s THE Kim Yohan. Minhee might not personally know him well, but he knows full well, just like everybody else, that aside from being a Taekwondo player (a great one at that), the man is the nicest and friendliest guy ever that he somehow gets along with almost everyone. He has admirers left and right from all genders though he always rejects except for some girls that he got to dating, people started to think that he might be a het. Time to test that theory out.

 

To: Yohan:

oh, really? okay then. today's day one

 

He boldly replies without much thought before downing his cup in one go then grabbing the one in Jungmo’s hand and drinking it all also.

“What’s wrong with you? That was my drink…” Jungmo whines at his side, words slurred after all the alcohol he drank. Minhee can only roll his eyes as Jungmo doesn’t even let him say anything before walking towards the kitchen, probably getting himself another drink.

Minhee’s thoughts get cut off once more but not because of the ping of his phone but by an all too familiar voice that’s suddenly near him. “Hi boyfriend.”

He snaps his head to look and there Yohan stood in all his glory.

 

After that, everything seems to just whizz past Minhee he can barely remember anything. Suddenly, he was joking around with Yohan and acting all lovey-dovey as if they’ve known each other for long and are actually dating which everyone doesn’t seem to mind (maybe except Yunseong because of the glares they were receiving but that might be just him being delusional and a bit too hopeful). They were being too touchy that a sane Minhee would have disapproved but it must be the alcohol in him that when Yohan offers to (literally) sleep with him at his place, the younger just agrees without much thinking.

The morning he wakes up, his head was throbbing and Minhee regrets everything last night. Or maybe not really as he feels Yohan nuzzle against his neck. In Minhee’s whole existence, he has never cuddled with anyone after puberty has hit him, family and friends included, that everything seemed all too new to him. He remembers asking Yohan to fake date him but the two haven’t talked about anything, not even how everything was supposed to go so he just plays along. Maybe it can help make their act seem more real in front of everyone?

“Good morning, did you sleep well?” Yohan asks, his fingers tracing small circles on the younger’s back. The touch sends tingles all over Minhee but instead of complaining or pulling away, he just melts even more into the other’s arms, humming softly in reply. Silence ensues and Minhee regrets not making a decent reply just to keep the conversation going but it wasn’t anything uncomfortable, just the two of them enjoying each other’s warmth that a part of him was a bit relieved.

“Say, how about going on a date?”

Minhee thought it was gonna be a one-time thing or just something to show off but he regrets nothing. Yohan was the best company one could ever ask for that at times it slips from his mind that they’re supposed to be fake boyfriends until the older’s pressing a kiss on his cheek or calling him “boyfriend”. Minhee doesn’t mind though. He’s even glad that they do it most times in front of Yunseong who’ll just suddenly walk away without a word until he stopped seeing Yunseong around Yohan when they’re together (or he just doesn’t notice him anymore).

 

‘Hey, wanna go to the park and have some ice cream after class?’  he texts Yohan one time after receiving the results of a quiz in a class. Usually, Yohan would be seated beside him during classes so he could just slide a note to him but the one he’s in now isn’t one of Yohan’s classes. ‘Sure, meet you outside your class?’ comes Yohan’s quick reply.

True to his word, Yohan was right outside their classroom, the only indicator being the screams of his female classmates as they exit the room. He sees some of them try to initiate a conversation which the older replies too with a kind smile and only stops when Minhee’s finally out of the classroom. The younger walks up to the other and Yohan was quick to pull him to his embrace, pressing a kiss on his cheek. Minhee blushes at that, the color deepening as he feels the gaze of people and the sudden whispering around him.

“Don’t mind them. Let’s go?” Yohan softly asks, letting him go and taking his hand into his instead. Minhee only nods in reply, flashing a smile at him before looking ahead as they start to make their way. While walking, he noticed Eunsang at the side watching them with a questioning look on his face. At that, Minhee knew what’s about to come.

 

From: Eunsang

How come you never told me anything?

You and Yohan? What kind of AU is this?

Are you two really dating?

Yah, Kang Minhee! Reply!

 

Minhee would scroll further if not for Yohan grabbing onto his phone and keeping it in his pocket. “Your ice cream is dripping.”

The younger looks at his ice cream in horror and realizes how it was impossible since they’re eating out of pints and not cones. He playfully shoves the other, glaring at him before stuffing himself with cookies n cream ice cream, his all-time favorite.

“You really love that, huh?” Yohan points out, eating a spoonful of his ice cream. A mint chocolate ice cream that Minhee looks at him then to the pint in distaste.

“Of course, I do! It tastes hella good. A whole lot better than some toothpaste with chocolate chips.”

If Minhee thought that’ll be the last they talk about their ice creams, boy was he wrong. After engaging in different talks about random stuff, they were surrounded by silence and just like before, it was a comfortable one. Yohan disrupts it when he’s suddenly nudging his pint of ice cream towards Minhee. “Wanna try some- maybe it'll change your perception towards mint chocolate?”

“Pretty sure that's still gonna taste like toothpaste with chocolate chips...” he trails off, shuddering at the thought of the taste.

A laugh slips past the older’s lips, still holding the tub of ice cream in front of the younger, clearly persistent on letting Minhee try it. “Come on, it doesn't taste like toothpaste. It's good, I swear!”

Minhee squints his eyes at Yohan, looking at the tub once more and beams as an idea cross his mind, leaning in close as a playful smile adorns his face. “Say, how about letting me have a taste of it with your lips maybe?”

He’s not drunk, that’s for sure. Although it’s not like there’s some alcohol content in their ice creams that Minhee was surprised as to where he’s getting all this confidence from. Yohan doesn’t seem to be surprised though as he takes a spoonful of ice cream and cups his cheek with a hand, pressing a quick kiss on Minhee’s lips. The gesture makes Minhee blush, his face getting hot as he becomes completely at a loss for words and only recovers after a while.

“Yohan, I- Can you do that again?” He asks in the smallest of voice, head empty with no thoughts as he just stares at him.

Now Yohan is the one who is surprised at the sudden request. He expected the younger to go off on him or anything negative since that’s their first kiss together and he took it away just like that. Yohan doesn’t hesitate though and kisses Minhee once more on the lips.

When Yohan pulls away, Minhee seems to be in a daze as he stares at Yohan dumbly before stuttering out, “Oh, um, that was great. I guess…”

Yohan seems to be proud of himself at that and the two converses once more like usual as if they didn’t just kiss.

 

When the two finally decides to call it a day, his phone back in his hands, Minhee was surprised to see Eunsang inside his dorm.

“What are you doing here?” he asks while taking off his shoes before plopping down on the bed.

“Have you not seen my texts?!”

Minhee raises a brow at that and takes his phone out only to see that it’s dead which he shows to Eunsang which the latter scoffs at.

“Whatever. Anyways, you and Yohan?”

When people ask about him and Yohan, he’s quick to reply that he’s his boyfriend which everyone seems to believe especially with their excessive public display of affection. Just like always, he gives Eunsang the same generic reply, “Obviously he’s my boyfriend.”

After setting up his phone to charge and settling himself to a comfortable position in bed so he can still make use of it as he goes through his messages, his thumb halts from scrolling at Eunsang’s words.

“I don’t believe that. Knowing you, you’re not one to show off too much affection, even more out in public. So really, what’s the deal?”

Minhee has known Eunsang for years and as flattering as it may seem that the latter know him so well, Minhee knew he has to come clean to his best friend. Among everyone else, it was Eunsang too who knew full well how everything went down between him and Yunseong. Yet why does it seem like he’s struggling to find the right words, let alone even admit that Yohan is just, in fact, not his boyfriend?

 

“the way how I wanna say something but at the same time I don't want to cause a part of me wishes this isn't the real ity I'm in.”

 

Eunsang reads aloud which sends Minhee into panic as he gives the other an alarmed look.

“You probably forgot I follow you on twitter too? Okay now tell me before I start making speculations like you asked Yohan to fake date because you felt lonely and upset that Yunseong found someone else really quick after dropping your ass because I swear if that’s your reason then I have to laugh.”

Eunsang does laugh, the thought alone making him crack up for how absurd it sounded to him. It soon dies down when he sees Minhee looking sad and avoiding his gaze, hearing him let out his umpteenth deep sigh.

“Wait, so it’s true…”

“Yeah, now shut up. It’s stupid, I know. Making a deal with a stranger I don’t even know much just because I wanted to get back at what Yunseong did. Happy now?”

There was silence and Minhee wasn’t liking it one bit. He reaches over for his bag to grab his earphones, planning to listen to some music but stops midway when Eunsang spoke.

“It seems like there’s something though… But never mind! I’m dumb when it comes to things like this anyways.” He muses, giving Minhee a meaningful look which only makes his eyebrows furrow.

The statement somehow makes him think but a bigger part of him quickly destroys what little hope he has that was slowly building up inside him. “I doubt. I mean, I think I like him but I also think it’s only just one sided.”

Eunsang gives him a sympathetic look and a pat on the back. The two best friends spend the night binge-watching rom-com movies and for once, Minhee’s glad it was Eunsang he opened up to.

 

The semester continues just like that and by now, the people in his small circle of friends already know what’s going on and Minhee is very much grateful that no one has spread the info yet. He and Yohan still went out on dates and still flirted like any other couple would but not much anymore as midterms draws near and both are very much occupied with their studies.

Minhee knew how toxic and moody he can be that he chose to refuse to interact with anyone during that time as he tries to aim for better results for the upcoming midterms. But contrary to what he expected, he receives grades that were a lot lesser and this just throws him in a slump. Everyone around him and knew how Minhee’s like were careful around him as if walking on eggshells. Everyone but Yohan, who still hasn’t seen that side of him yet.

 

“What if I’m not exactly as great as you thought I am?” Minhee had asked one time in the midst of the older showering him with a bunch of compliments. It was merely just a simple and random question yet it throws Minhee mentally off to a darker corner in his mind.

A soft smile forms on Yohan’s lips, his thumb caressing the other’s cheeks. “So what if you're not as great as I thought. I’d still stay by your side. Everyone has their own imperfections.”

The response somehow puts Minhee at ease and for another time yet again, he’s glad he got to meet and became close with Yohan. “Thank you, I really needed that. I hope you know that I'll also be here for you too no matter what.” He places his hand over Yohan, leaning into the touch as a contented smile forms on his lips.

“There's no need to thank me, I’m just doing what I should be doing as a friend.”

What might have been a soft moment for Minhee, soon ends in vain at those words. The darkness that has been looming inside his head which was almost clearing up darkens his mind once more and Minhee couldn’t think anymore that he goes for a more generic and decent response.

“Ah, right. But I still want to thank you for being a great friend, that is.”

He gives the older’s hand a slight squeeze before pulling away from the touch. He was hurt but he couldn’t bring himself to say anything about it, out of fear that it might ruin everything.

 

Things were never the same again for Minhee after that and it was only a matter of time before the ticking bomb in him explodes and his shards scatter everywhere and harm people. He just didn’t expect for it to come that soon.

It all happened after Minhee got grouped with Yohan, Jungmo and Hyunbin, the other two being his friends, a few days prior to his talk with Yohan. He didn’t react much every time Yohan says something related to their supposedly fake act in the group chat that they made. Still not over by the previous results, Minhee made sure as much as possible that the group was focused on doing their project and will get upset once in a while every time Yohan will become playful. He doesn’t say much though, just a casual reminder but Jungmo and Hyunbin both knew there was something more to that. Before Minhee gets to say anything, either one of them calls out on Yohan and the latter is always quick to behave. Except for that day.

The fine evening the four were having soon turns into a messy one when Minhee finally explodes and sends long rants, the pressure and stress finally getting to him (and the hurt after being called as a friend by Yohan).

 

To: Eng Lit Proj (Jungmo, Hyunbin, Yohan)

Yohan, can you please stop? Jungmo and Hyunbin are my friends so you can just drop the act and focus on our work.

 

He sends in that message last. The three were quick to see the message though but no one dared to reply. Hyunbin, being the eldest, finally replied and tried to pacify the situation but Minhee wasn’t having it. Head clouded now with anger and hurt, he continues to type away which he’s might have hurt his friends, and maybe Yohan too. In his state, he couldn’t even remember much anymore as he was acting more on his feelings than thinking with his head. Unable to bear it anymore, he leaves the group chat and even messages everyone personally to not be added back. He distracts himself with his games, ignoring how message after message kept coming in.

Once he was sure he’s finally calm, he goes to check his messages and was surprised to see Yohan’s preview mentioning the fake dating so he checks it first.

Minhee was surprised to see Yohan’s long message going beyond the screen. He ignores it first since he remembers his chat head having a three on the number badge so he scrolls up and frowns at the older’s words. ‘also, I need to get something out of my chest. it doesn't matter if you decide to ignore me after this or, even block me completely but let me just say some things okay.’

Like the pessimist that he is, he automatically thinks that Yohan is probably gonna cut him off and ask for them to just totally stop the act in general. There’s no reason for Yohan to stay anymore when he has seen an ugly side of Minhee which he isn’t proud of.

 

From: Yohan

i admit, I didn't know why I agreed with the fake dating cause everyone knows that im someone who falls easily, and gets attached. but ig im a clown???

 

The first line confuses Minhee a lot and as much as he doesn’t want to admit, that little hope he had before slowly starts to grow as he read on. By the end of it, Minhee just couldn’t believe anything at all. The guy he likes also likes him too? And as if by some black magic, Minhee’s suddenly spilling away everything that crosses his mind and rants to Yohan. He talks about how his day went which only added fuel to his pissed mood, never forgetting to bring up that time he referred to Minhee as just a friend.

 

From Yohan:

funny story. I thought that you only saw me as a friend hence why.... ig I' m at fault for this since im used to having one sided crushes? im sorry for that, really.

STOP apologizing when you didn't do anything wrong. in fact, I should be the one who's apologizing

for calling you, a friend. when in reality you mean more than a friend to me.

 

At this point, anyone who saw Minhee would think he has lost his mind by the way how his smile was so wide from ear to ear, that dark aura all over now gone and replaced with a bright and happy one. The two continued to exchange messages and at the end of the day, it puts them in a gray situation (as Minhee thinks) as two people who have crushes on each other but are still fake boyfriends.

 

A few days pass and things are still the same, as Minhee would like to think, except they’re both aware now of the feelings they have for each other. For some reason, the situation being in a gray area where there’s nothing exactly clear, his mind wanders yet again to the dark side. Thoughts of ‘it won’t work’, ‘you’re just a fling’, and ‘he doesn’t want you anymore’ continues to swirl inside his mind he could barely focus on anything else. As defense mechanism he ended up being cold and giving dry replies to Yohan, seeming to distance himself once more, and Yohan isn’t dumb enough to not notice that.

“Hey, is everything alright?” Yohan asks after pulling Minhee away from the crowd in the party and bringing him in a more secluded area.

Minhee looks at him briefly before looking away and chews on his bottom lip, a clear indicator that something must be up then. “Not really but does it matter? Let’s just go back inside.” He tries to pull his hand free from the older’s hold but Yohan doesn’t let go and just tightens his hold on it (but not enough to hurt him though).

“It does matter to me?” Yohan replies, cupping Minhee’s cheek with his other free hand to make the younger look at him. Tears were brimming Minhee’s eyes before he looks down, mumbling a soft “I’m sorry”, as he finally ends the cold act.

“You didn't do anything to be apologetic for.”

“I was being an ass there.”

“I’m not gonna deny that. But still, you were feeling down and I don't really blame you for that?”

Minhee knew that despite the questioning tone, it wasn’t like Yohan is asking; rather, he seemed more doubtful and the younger dreads that this day has come even though he knew he was supposed to be more open anyway since that’s what Yohan deserved.

“Well, I, for sure, do like you. But then if you don't want anything else after this then I respect that. Remember that time I asked what if I wasn't as great as you thought I'd be? that's what I had in mind. The uncertainty really scares me a hella lot, you know.” Minhee trails off, taking in a deep breath before continuing. “I'm probably just gonna be rambling now but I guess that's also what I've been sad about? I also realized we're not exactly anything so I don't have any rights on you anyways so I couldn't be more open about my thoughts. I know you've said you like me but I wasn't sure since nothing has really changed with how you were treating me then to how you’re treating me now. It made me think maybe you're still unsure...” Minhee trails off once more, now closing his eyes as he swallows hard, dreading the next words he’s about to say. “And maybe that's also good on its own, like, I'm letting you leave if you want to.” He says in a voice small enough but he’s sure Yohan hears it too as the latter’s face scrunches up.

“First of all, if I didn't want anything else with you, would I still be here trying to reach out to you? I’m not a person who says that I like you and then acts like nothing has happened the next day. Yes, I do wish that we are more than just friends. I like you, and I like you a lot. I’m not sure if you're still going to doubt me after this, but I’m pretty sure I know my own heart and mind. Don't expect me to leave you anytime soon. I said before that I’ll stay by your side, didn’t I? Sure, I might have gotten a bit sad over your cold replies earlier, but it was just because I was worried. I’m not even sure myself why I was so worried, maybe it's because I like you a bit too much. But I really hope that next time you have something in your mind that you want to tell me, you can just tell me straight. As I said, I’ll never leave you.”

The whole time Yohan talked, he made sure Minhee was looking at him and the younger does. It warms his heart by how sincere the other sounded. He feels sorry when he even doubted the other’s feelings and has hurt him along the way by having those kinds of thoughts. Despite all that, Yohan saying “I like you” continues to ring inside his head that nothing else registers.

Maybe not even the way how Yohan has brought him back to his friends or the way how said friends are suddenly nudging him by the side and asking him to go to the center. Minhee was still in a daze and seemed lost but does as he’s told anyway. Looking around, he saw how everyone has gathered around and had their eyes on him; Minhee wonders what’s going on exactly. Suddenly, he hears an all too familiar voice.

“Hey there, Minhee, my baby…”

That seems to take Minhee out of his thoughts as he turns on his heels, trying to find where the voice is coming from. He snaps his head to look and there Yohan stood in all his glory. 'Familiar,' the first thing that crossed Minhee's mind.

Yohan reaches for Minhee's hands and gently squeezes them, which makes the younger chuckle softly. He squeezes Yohan's hands in return as if encouraging him for whatever he was about to do. Although Minhee already knew what it was, he can't help but still feel excited for what was to come.

"Remember when you asked me if I wanted to fake date?  Who knew it would end up with me falling head over heels for you?" Yohan starts, thumbs rubbing at the back of his hand. Minhee smiles at the thought.

As each second passes, Minhee finds himself still falling for Yohan, if that's even possible. He loves and adores every part and bit that makes up Yohan. His personality and attitude towards Minhee and everyone around. The way how Yohan makes him feel safe and at ease. Of course, Minhee could never forget the constant reassurances he gives whenever he's in doubt. Most times, Minhee feels sorry for the way how Yohan seemed to be always the one catering for his needs when he's unable to give back in return.

'Oh no-' Minhee thinks as he finds himself falling for that dark pit of insecurity once more. Every part of him is screaming and itching to say no and just walk away right there and then. It's not that he doesn't feel the same, nor he doesn't want to be with him. Just like before, his insecurities are slowly consuming him that his head has been coming up with multiple excuses to support his decision.

"Will you officially be my boyfriend?"

The question Yohan had asked was left hanging in the air as everyone held their breath, waiting for Minhee to answer. The younger could see how anxious Yohan seems to be for the lack of response, not even a single reaction out of him. Meanwhile, his face remains stoic and void of any emotion. Deep within, though, he's panicking as he tries to stop himself from even sinking lower and come up with a better response.

If it would have been any other day, or maybe someone else who has experienced the same thing as Minhee did, the question would have make them laugh. It's fitting as to how Yohan managed to even add the word 'officially' into it. Minhee was even surprised too when no one even reacted with the sudden confession. Were they too obvious that everything was all an act?

"W-wait, let me compose my thoughts first," Minhee croaked out, which earned a few laughs from the audience (his friends, actually). Taking in a deep breath, he squeezes Yohan's hands and grips onto it tightly before speaking.

"Of course, I'd love to be your boyfriend, to be yours." He finally starts with his long rant, remembering to apologize also for even taking awhile, and the rest is history.

 

Looking back, "official" perhaps would still be the most beautiful word ever for Minhee of that time and to the Minhee of now. It still amazes him, despite dating for two months now, as to how everything just began with a 'random and passing' thought of his. But here they are, still together and very much in love with each other. Of course, there were ups and downs, just like in every relationship. What Minhee liked the most, though, was how both of them (mostly Yohan) tries to communicate their thoughts. It makes Minhee happy knowing that despite everything, Yohan still chose to stay and make things work.

Yohan never really fails to make Minhee feel good about himself and how worthy he is of all the love and affection he's receiving now. And honestly? Minhee wouldn't really ask for more. (Maybe a hopeful wish that he's able to do the same thing for Yohan too as that's what he deserves for being the best boyfriend.) Yohan's a man of his words, but the one time he isn't is something Minhee will always be grateful for.