The summertime for Soobin at young age meant only one thing: visiting his grandparents in the countryside. As many other kids in his age hated the idea, preferring spending their holidays at the beach or playing computer games, the little boy was very thrilled about the idea of visiting his elders. The house was immersed in the nature, his granny’s cuisine was the best in the world and his grandpa took him around to pick up fruits and vegetables they planted in their garden. Soobin liked everything about it, from the sounds of cicadas singing under the sun to the fresh breeze of the summer night, the sky at night was so clear he could see a lot of stars with his bare eyes. But the thing he liked the most was the quietness of the countryside, along with the big amount of plants and flowers he could find every day in a new place.
That day was a hot one, Soobin had just finished exploring the zone at the east side of his grandparent’s house; looking between the lush vegetation the boy found the rest of an old house, only the brick walls and parts of the ceiling were still up, the plants grown in every corner making it look like some mysterious hideout. The little boy felt lucky, that would be a good place to spend the rest of the afternoon – he thought, taking out from his back pocket a book; the brunette first looked around thoughtfully, there was nothing to sit over that wasn’t dirty. Soobin sighed, his mom would have killed him if he dirtied his pants. With a frowned expression he took out from his right pocket a handkerchief, laying it on the ground so he could sit over it and started reading.
Soobin was in the middle of the chapter when he heard something moving in between the leaf. His eyes quickly lifted from the pages, only to meet the figure of a small boy standing in front of him; the little stranger was wearing a bandage over his right eye and a black bandana was tied between his bowl cut hair, his clothes and his knees were quite dirt.
“Who are you? What are you doing in my secret base?”
The little boy screamed, branding in the air a wooden sword. Soobin couldn’t help but laugh at the scene, the boy was being too cute – trying to intimidate him with a threating expression.
“My name is Soobin, I’m sorry for the intrusion, I didn’t know this place was yours.”
The brunette spoke in a soft tone, the little boy looked at him for a couple of seconds, his sharp eyes being all widened as he listened to his words. He took a couple of steps forwards, offering his dirty hand to the other.
“I’m Huening Kai”
The little boy simply stated, his chest being pumped in proud. Soobin hold his hand, he didn’t like the idea of dirt himself, but his mom would be disappointed if he didn’t behave well.
“How old are you, Kai?”
“Eight! And you?”
Kai showed eight exact fingers, his hands were so tiny in compare of his own, Soobin thought as he lifted up both of his hands, making a 10.
“ Waa, then you’re a hyung... ops.”
The smaller boy chuckled, scratching his head while making a big smile showing of all of his crooked teeth. He was so cute. Soobin quickly shook his head, smiling too.
“It doesn’t matter, don’t worry.”
Kai nodded as he sat himself near the older, looking at him carefully now that he was closer, Soobin felt his cheeks burning – sometimes he hated being that shy.
“What were you doing here, anyway?”
“I was reading..”
The small boy leaned his head to the right, his eyes landing over the book that was resting over the elder’s lap. His lips curled in a funny expression as he thought about something for a while. Suddenly the younger stood up and ran out of the abandoned house. Soobin blinked his eyes, asking himself what the boy was doing. Two minutes and the smaller returned inside holding a bunch of flowers in his hand, his big eyes staring at Soobin as he offered the improvised bouquet.
“You know Soobin hyung, I’m a pirate. Dad said I’m too young to be a captain but that’s my dream and you’re really soft and beautiful and smart because you read, like the princess in the pirates story, so do you want to be my princess?”
Kai blabbered everything in one sentence, his small chest rising rapidly as he tried to breath – his puffy cheeks being all rosy under the dirt. Soobin looked at him surprised, his hands came to hold the flowers before even realising it. Their smell was beautiful, and inside the bouquet there were species he didn’t catalogue yet. A smile naturally grown over the elder’s lips as he nodded happily.
“I’d like to be your princess, captain Huening Kai”
Soobin didn’t expect to find such a good friend in Huening Kai, he was used to be alone during his holiday at his grandparents’ house but since he met the little boy, every day was spent exploring a new side of the country, looking through camps and woods, discovering new places, new flowers. Soobin carefully reported all their adventure in his journal, Kai was amazed about how ordinated Soobin was – the more time passed, more Kai was convinced that Soobin was a prince for real. Summer ended quickly, way too quickly for Soobin’s like.
The day his parents came to take him back to the city was the worst day of his life, Kai cried so hard while hugging him tightly, clenching at the elder’s body to not let him go.
“We’ll see each other next summer”
Soobin murmured softly at the younger, caressing his humid cheeks to clean the tears away. Kai puffed them, looking at him with a frowned expression.
The smaller boy growled, sticking out his little finger while his lips curled in a pout. Soobin quickly wrapped the younger’s finger with his own, locking them tightly.
The young boy calmed down a bit only then, showing a big smile to the brunette. Soobin smiled tenderly at him, his hand coming to ruffle the younger’s hair before placing a kiss on the top of his head.
“Soobin, we’re going!”
His mother screamed from the car, her perfect shoes tapping over the dirt road, waiting for her son to come. Soobin sighed, giving his last goodbye to Kai before walking to his parents. The younger waved at him, keeping on doing it even when the car started to move – from inside the vehicle, Soobin kept his eyes glued to Kai until he didn’t become a little point in the horizon.
Since the start of middle school, summer for Soobin only meant one thing: study. His mother didn’t send him to his grandparents’ house anymore, his nose was constantly buried in books, giving his best to memorize notes over notes, paragraph over paragraph. His mind during the years often wandered away, making itself lost in the thought of what was happening in the countryside, if Huening Kai was waiting for him.
The torture luckily ended when he graduated from high school with the best grades, for his mother’s happiness he managed to get accepted into Seoul National University – she even agreed on letting him study natural science, as she only liked the idea to have her only son studying at one of the most important university in the country. Soobin was quite happy, his lessons were great, and he was now able to enjoy his summer vacations without his mother being cling to his back, nagging him to study.
The sun was particularly hot that day, Soobin almost felt he was about to melt inside his white tank top, the street light didn’t seem to want to turn on green, letting him roast under the sunlight – god only knew how much he craved for the fresh shadow at the other side of the road, and an ice cream too. He let out a satisfied sigh when the light finally turned green, his steps fast as he ran to reach the other side of the street.
Soobin suddenly heard from behind as he just reached the sidewalk, the nickname made him turn around fast, so fast his head almost snapped from his neck. A boy was standing there, his eyes fixed over Soobin’s figure, his uniform hanging messily over his not so small body, Kai grew up beautifully – he got taller too but still he was shorter than him by few inches and his glare was deep, unmoved, staring deeply at the other’s eyes.
The boy nodded before showing a smile, his teeth were now perfect like they were a collection of pearls. Soobin knew he couldn’t be wrong; a smile curled the elder’s lips instantly, his arms moving before the brain dictated the input, already wrapping the smaller boy in a tight hug.
“What are you doing here?”
“Going to school?”
The younger joked, pointing at his brand new uniform when the other untangled him from his hold – Soobin laughed, the brunette didn’t seem to lose his humour during the years.
“I mean what are you doing here in Seoul.”
“Ah, well. Mom remarried recently and we decided to move since her new husband didn’t like the country life, I suppose.”
Kai shrugged his shoulders, Soobin was about to speak when someone roughly pushed the younger from behind, making him collide onto his chest. Only then the older realized they were still in the middle of the road. He quickly wrapped his arms around Kai, keeping him close as he bowed his head to the man who just run into them.
“We’re a bit, uhm,”
“Yes… I think I should go now; I can’t be late on my first day”
Huening Kai took two steps behind making sure to leave enough space between their bodies, his cheeks slightly red in embarrassment. Soobin nodded, a little smile still lingering on his lips as he felt really warm in the place where Kai’s face laid a minute ago.
“You should go, yes..”
“Before I leave, can I have your number?”
The younger boy cleared his throat, his big eyes fixed over Soobin’s one as he took out his phone, waiting for the older to type over it. Twenty seconds passed before Soobin’s brain reacted to the situation, his fingers tapping quickly his number over the screen.
Kai smiled so brightly, Soobin was sure that smile burned more than the sun of late August. Ten years had pass since the last time Kai and Soobin were together, but from the moment they met again it was like it didn’t pass at all. Spending his time with the younger became Soobin’s favourite part of the day; after they accidentally met on the street there wasn’t a day where they weren’t together, catching up all the things they lost about each other.
Soobin talked about his growing passion about flowers and nature, he finally had time to explain why he didn’t go to the countryside anymore. Kai told him about his mom’s new husband, how their moving to a big city went, he even said that his new dream was now becoming a musician instead of a pirate.
“Can you spare some time for me too?”
Yeonjun once asked, two weeks since the last time he saw Soobin; the older looking at him in the eyes, the brunette hesitate a bit. He felt guilty, he didn’t meant to forget about him.
Yeonjun was a senior he met in high school, they got closer thanks to a science project –Soobin didn’t have a lot of friends during his school years, Yeonjun was the first he actually let get closer to himself.
Yeonjun was also the one who made him realize his sexuality – Soobin was already aware of the fact he never liked girls in a romantic way, Yeonjun only gave him the ultimately proof about it, kissing him on the lips on the day of his high school graduations. They’ve been dating since then, one year into it he couldn’t help but feel extremely guilty.
“I’m sorry, hyung”
Soobin whispered, climbing into the elder’s bed to lie down next to him, his lips curled in a pout as he took his hands to caress his blue hair.
“What’s so great about this Kai guy? You only talk about him and meet him... Should I be jealous?”
“What are you saying… He’s a childhood friend”
Yeonjun narrowed his eyes, looking thoughtfully at the younger for a couple of times before sighing, his hands grabbing the brunette’s chin to bring him closer and kiss his lips a couple of time.
“When I can meet him?”
The blue-haired boy asked, Soobin felt his heart sinking inside his chest as he didn’t know what to say. He kept quiet for a while, his eyes darting away to avoid the other’s gaze.
“You didn’t tell him, right?”
Yeonjun couldn’t blame the other if he didn’t feel comfortable enough to talk openly about it yet. He just wished to be introduced as the boyfriend he was, after all September was about to begin; autumn was quietly approaching but summer didn’t seem to give up yet.
The night breeze got a little fresher, Soobin got to notice as he walked outside the restaurant, his cheeks slightly rosier because of the couple of beer he drank before. Yeonjun leaned an arm over him, his nose sniffling at the sweet scent of his dark hair, making Soobin chuckle.
He didn’t know what happened to him that night, maybe it was because of the alcohol, maybe the fault was on the stars who shined so brightly in the sky – Soobin lost is consciousness, his lips pressing over the taller one without caring that they were in the middle of the street, he finally felt free.
The familiar voice rang inside the blonde’s head like the sound of a thunder, Soobin moved away from the elder’s body rapidly, a confused Huening Kai standing two feet away from them, his eyebrows furrowed.
He whispered as he took a step forward, the younger shook his head – he didn’t understand, what was going on? Why Soobin was kissing a random guy in the middle of the street? “Ah, so you’re Kai. Finally I can meet you” Yeonjun grinned, his hands coming forward with the expectation to introduce himself to the brunette.
“Who are you?”
“Choi Yeonjun, I’m Soobin’s boyfriend”
Kai frowned ever more, what was supposed to mean? Boyfriend? But Soobin wasn’t a girl. Yes, when he was eight, he thought Soobin was a princess but now they were all grown up, they were both male too, why would they… The younger took his hands to cover his mouth, he couldn’t believe that.
Before saying anything else he ran away, leaving the two guys there.
Soobin yelled, his eyes teary as the younger’s back became more and more tinier as he ran. He didn’t think about it twice to run behind him, not listening to Yeonjun calling him. Founding Huening Kai was not easy, but he couldn’t go too far –Soobin thought as he looked around, the streets were so quiet that late at night.
After fifteen minutes and the complete neighbourhood being hunted down, Soobin managed to find Kai sat on a bench in a small park, his head low looking down. Quietly, Soobin sat beside him without saying a word.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I’m sorry” “Were you ashamed?”
Soobin confessed, his gaze was fixed over the sky, he couldn’t bear to look at the younger who was now looking at him.
“Does he make you happy?”
“Yes, I suppose..”
Kai nodded at the elder’s words, a little sigh escaping from his lips as the blonde finally decided to look at him. Their eyes met in a contact that was too solid to be broke, their gaze locked into each other’s orbits – Kai’s one wandered only once, down to the elder’s pink plump lips, the imagine of that guy kissing him wasn’t leaving him alone.
Kai, in all the eighteen years he lived, never thought about kissing another guy before that very night. He felt his palm itch in a strange sensation.
“Hyung, can I try something?”
Before the older could reply, Kai leaned in to press his lips over Soobin’s one, kissing him slowly. Soobin’s lips were soft as they looked, a bittersweet taste lingering on them, the elder’s dark hair tickling his cheeks.
Kai moved away after a couple of minutes, his eyes blinking – Soobin’s heart was beating so fast in his chest, the tip of his ear becoming red as he didn’t understand why the younger did that.
“Exactly like I thought, nothing special...”
Kai murmured, shrugging his shoulders before standing up and shake his head, stretching his arm up.
“Sorry for the bother hyung, I hope your...friend? didn’t feel offended. Say I apologize to him. Now I’m going, see you around”
Soobin only nodded in a half smile, looking at the younger walking away from the park, his words echoing into his mind. His head started to spin, suddenly he didn’t feel well, his breathing becoming heavy as if something was choking him.
Tears started to fall uncontrollably, his whole body shaking, everything stopped when he finally managed to cough – a bunch of coral pink rose petals falling over his lap, his shoes and over the ground.