Actions

Work Header

vivid lights (and the ways they guide us home)

Work Text:

Byungchan knows that there isn’t anything inherently dangerous about flying from New York City to Los Angeles for a week and a half, and he knows that Seungwoo knows it too. There isn’t anything to worry about when all he’s doing is travelling to the other side of the country for a week and a half. There isn’t an ocean to cross and the flight is barely seven hours in length. Seungwoo is reasonable enough to know that the chance that Byungchan’s safe flight won’t be safe is so low that it shouldn’t even be considered. Still, the knowledge that everything will most likely be fine doesn’t make the older man look any less worried, that much is apparent in the way that Seungwoo’s eyebrows are slightly knit together as he trails behind Byungchan, pulling the younger man’s carry-on for him.

The walk to the departure gate is almost too quiet. It’s almost unsettling, how quiet it is. Seungwoo is frowning and even while he isn’t saying a word, Byungchan knows that he’s worried about the moment that Byungchan leaves his line of sight. Seungwoo has always been protective of him and he’s always worried about him the most out of all their friends. To a degree, it’s almost humorous. But Byungchan doesn’t want to leave Seungwoo in New York worrying about him for every second that he’s gone. A week and a half of worrying? It’s too much even for Han Seungwoo.

Byungchan stops walking and turns his head. He sighs and he looks at Seungwoo.

So deep in his thoughts, staring at the ground as he drags the carrier, Seungwoo doesn’t notice. Byungchan’s lips tug into a small smile and he shakes his head in disbelief.

“Hyung,” he calls. Seungwoo visibly flinches at the sound of his name being called. Byungchan says, “If I knew you were going to be frowning the entire time that you see me off at the airport, I would have asked Chan hyung to take me to the airport instead.”

Seungwoo frowns at him. “I’m not frowning,” he says.

Byungchan laughs at that.

“You’re frowning right now,” he says. Seungwoo scrunches up his nose at him.

“I’m glad that you asked me to drive you. I would be even more concerned than I am right now if you let Chan drive you to the airport,” Seungwoo tells him. “I heard Subin say that he needs more than one seatbelt when Chan is driving. I wouldn’t have let Chan drive you, Byungchan.”

Chan? What did he do to be slandered so badly by Subin? Byungchan resists the urge to snort.

Byungchan grins, “He’s really not that bad. Subin is just being dramatic.”

“I think Subin has every right to be worried,” Seungwoo mutters under his breath. “Chan is great as a person but I don’t know who taught Chan to drive.”

“Have you ever let him drive you anywhere?”

Seungwoo shakes his head. He says, “He always makes me drive when he can.”

“Oh, that sounds like me,” Byungchan grins. It makes Seungwoo smile.

He nudges him with a laugh.

“Everyone makes me drive when they don’t want to,” he says.

“That’s just because you don’t know how to say ‘no’ to us, hyung.”

Seungwoo doesn’t argue with Byungchan’s point because he knows that he’s right.

There isn’t any denying that Seungwoo would do anything for their group of friends in a heartbeat. It’s common knowledge that Han Seungwoo would do anything for them—it’s something that was established from the very moment that their friendships developed. And, without a doubt, they are infinitely grateful for it even when he worries too much about them.

The rest of their walk to the entry point is quiet, accompanied by only the sound of soft footsteps against the tiles and the sound of Byungchan’s carrier’s wheel rolling across the floor.

“Come back safely, okay?” Seungwoo tells him when they’re standing in front of the entry point. He looks like he doesn’t want to see Byungchan leave just yet.

Seungwoo ruffles Byungchan’s hair affectionately and it feels strange because they’re practically the same height, but Seungwoo still treats him like a child. He still worries about him like he’s a child. Byungchan is used to Seungwoo treating him with so much care, but it feels comical that Seungwoo seems to be on the verge of sulking. Byungchan almost wants to laugh at how it feels like Seungwoo is seeing his first child off to kindergarten and doesn’t want to leave the school grounds until Byungchan is out of sight.

Seungwoo sighs, “I don’t know what I’m going to do without you.”

Seungwoo shoves his hands into his pocket and he looks down. Byungchan knows that he’s trying to restrain himself from hugging him and not letting go. He’s known Seungwoo long enough to know that Seungwoo gets emotional for goodbyes, even if they’re temporary.

(He knows because he’s seen it many times before. Just two years ago, Seungwoo got emotional hugging him at his graduation ceremony when Byungchan handed him a bouquet of flowers because he knew that he wouldn’t be living in the dorm across the hall from Byungchan, playing the role of his RA anymore—even though Seungwoo was just moving down the street to a nearby apartment complex with his boyfriend.)

“Hyung, you have Seungsik hyung,” he says. “He’s going to be thrilled that I won’t be in your hair every time you two try to hang out alone.”

He’s teasing Seungwoo to lighten the mood. He knows that both Seungwoo and Seungsik would be worried sick if anything happened to him, even if said ‘anything’ was a minor paper cut. He knows that if Seungsik came to the airport with them, he would be walking around with two oversized, pouting puppies who were worrying about him (and that’s why he insisted that Seungwoo should drive him to the airport alone).

Seungwoo gives him a look, one that says, You know what I mean, and Byungchan can’t hide his amused smile.

He looks away.

They don’t say anything else to one another, because there isn’t anything else to say until the loudspeaker crackles and calls for Byungchan to board his flight. Seungwoo shoots him a glance and Byungchan meets his eyes. He offers him a small smile and Seungwoo mirrors it.

Byungchan takes his carrier back from Seungwoo.

“Have a safe flight,” he says. He places a hand onto Byungchan’s shoulder and nods at him. Seungwoo immediately shoves his hands back into his pockets when he drops his hand from the younger man’s shoulder. And now that he doesn’t need to watch over Byungchan’s carrier anymore, he doesn’t know what to do with his hands. He looks a little awkward.

If it weren’t Seungwoo at the airport with him, he might have made a joke about how he didn’t have any control over piloting the plane. But he knows that jokes will make Seungwoo worry so he keeps his mouth shut (only Chan would appreciate jokes like that, anyway).

Byungchan nods back and smiles at him. He hopes it’s reassuring, even though he knows that Seungwoo is bound to worry for the entire drive back from the airport.

Seungwoo quietly watches him leave as Byungchan takes his steps towards the gate. Byungchan glances over his shoulder at Seungwoo. They make eye contact and Seungwoo offers him a weak. Byungchan has only taken a few steps; they’re standing several meters apart and somehow, Seungwoo looks tiny from the distance. Maybe it’s the emptiness of the spacious airport that makes Seungwoo look so small, or maybe it’s the way that he still looks so worried that he’s letting Byungchan out of his sight. Byungchan doesn’t know which it is but he knows that seeing Seungwoo like this is endearing.

Byungchan exhales a soft sigh and his amusement dances across his lips in a smile.

“Come here,” he mutters. He drops his hand from the carrier and opens his arms for a hug.

Seungwoo’s eyes immediately brighten at the gesture and he quickly rushes forward to embrace Byungchan in a tight, loving hug. It almost knocks the air out of Byungchan’s lungs, but it’s warm and comforting like every time Seungwoo hugs him. Byungchan wraps his arms around the older man’s waist and squeezes him gently.

“I’ll come back in a week and a half,” he says. “It’ll be like I was never gone in the first place. You don’t have to worry about me, hyung.”

“Keep in contact, okay?” Seungwoo says. His grip on Byungchan tightens and he exhales a shaky breath, “You have my number, Byungchan. I will fly to Los Angeles for you if I have to.”

“I’ll text you when we land, hyung,” he promises. “You’re not going to need to fly to Los Angeles for me. I can take care of myself for a week, I promise.”

Seungwoo almost looks like he wants to argue with him but Byungchan gives him a stern look that says, Hyung, I’ve taken care of myself for years now. I can do it again.

Seungwoo shrivels a little at the look. He sighs and nods his head, relenting.

The loudspeaker calls his flight again and Byungchan untangles himself from Seungwoo.

He gives him one last wave before he rushes off to the entry point.

And Byungchan knows that Seungwoo is still lingering by the gate even when he’s already long out of sight—a small part of his mind wondering if Byungchan might run back out to ask something of him, like a child who needs to see their father one last time before they spend an entire day apart from one another.

Byungchan fishes his phone out of his pocket after he passes the check-in point and he sends him a text to reassure him that he’ll be okay. He adds a quick reminder for Seungwoo to drive home safely because Seungsik is waiting for him.

(And he swallows the thought that wonders if he’ll ever have a relationship like theirs.)

 


 

The plane ride is a space to think.

He’s all alone, alone with his thoughts and the ambient noise of hushed whispers from the other passengers on the plane. He’s lucky that the hushed noise around him is enough for him to drown it out. He can’t fall asleep on the plane because it’s too unfamiliar for him to be comfortable, so Byungchan tunes out the quiet noise with the soft music playing from his earphones to focus on his thoughts.

He drowns in them.

The trip to Los Angeles was an impulsive decision. It was something that Seungsik suggested with a sweet smile on his lips and a tilt of his head, his soft voice being everything Byungchan needed to be convinced that it wouldn’t hurt to try. According to Seungsik, it’s supposed to be an escape from everything that Byungchan has known for the entirety of his life—the gruelling focus on education and the struggle of being hellbent on academia.

It’s supposed to be freeing. That’s what Seungsik insisted.

It’s supposed to be his chance to throw himself into something unfamiliar before he finally graduates and spends the rest of his life working in an office, crunching and analyzing the numbers he’d become so obsessed with. Before he dedicates the rest of his life to applying everything he learned in school to every aspect of his life and prays that it never bores him to death. Seungsik had been insistent that it was a good idea.

Seungwoo was supportive of his boyfriend’s suggestion. He backed him up with a small smile and a shrug of his shoulders, as he quietly remarked, ‘A week and a half can’t hurt you, Byungchan.’

Byungchan supposes he isn’t wrong. He needs something fresh in his life.

Everything feels dull and grey when it’s all a routine, cycling through familiar scenes no matter where he goes. Flying across the entire continent for a week and a half and immersing himself in a world that he isn’t familiar with sounds good in theory.

It’s bound to be something different. It’s bound to be something he doesn’t already know.

There’s nothing familiar about being halfway across the continent. He doesn’t have Seungwoo with him. He doesn’t have Seungsik with him. The things that make him comfortable aren’t with him when he’s across the continent but Seungsik insisted that the entire point of the trip was to get away from everything he was familiar with.

He’s still in America and that’s the only thing familiar.

Byungchan just hopes he doesn’t regret his trip. He hopes it won’t be the worst week and a half of his life. (And Seungsik hasn’t said anything about the thoughts Byungchan hasn’t voiced aloud, but Byungchan can still hear Seungsik’s voice in his mind, promising him that he’ll have the time of his life as long as he stops thinking about academia for a week and a half.)

And he thinks, trying to take his mind off of everything he’s known for the past eighteen years of his life will be hard. It might be a little too hard.

For Seungsik’s sake (and maybe for his own sake), he promises himself that he’ll try his best.

 


 

The first hint that the trip wasn’t going to go as smoothly as he planned came quickly.

When he booked the flight (after a lot of convincing), he had hoped that he wouldn’t run into complications until much later in the trip but the very first one greeted him without hesitation. He was hoping that complications would come in the form of meeting someone unpleasant on the streets of Los Angeles. He was hoping that the flight would be simpler.

Byungchan felt his soul leaving him when it was announced that they were to be delayed in the San Francisco airport for an additional three hours before the flight to Los Angeles. He would have given anything to head directly to his hotel room and sleep away his first afternoon in Los Angeles. But the world preferred to throw wrenches in his plans. He wouldn’t be in the hotel room until much later in the evening.

He sends Seungwoo a text message when he is wandering around in the San Francisco airport with absolutely nothing to do. Seungwoo’s concerned replies are prompt, almost as if he was waiting for Byungchan to text him (and the truth is that he probably was).

Seungwoo tells him to find a snack while he’s waiting for his flight.

Byungchan doesn’t reply to that message. He shoves his phone into his pocket with an amused smile on his lips. It’s just like Seungwoo to worry about him like this.

But as much as he rolls his eyes at the way that Seungwoo worries about him like a concerned parent, Byungchan takes his advice. He supposes that he needs something to keep him company while he mindlessly explores the airport to kill time. Three hours is a lot of time to kill in a place you don’t know. His phone wouldn’t last him the entire time—not when games were everything that could keep him company at the airport.

Coffee sounds like it would do the job well.

He wanders into the closest café with his eyes glued to the menu.

He knows that if Seungsik was with him, Seungsik would tell him to be more adventurous with his coffee order when he was on the other side of the country. He can hear it in the back of his head, Seungsik’s voice as he dreamily outlines the fantasy of finding something new to fall in love with, in a foreign place (“What if you taste something on the west coast that’s so delicious that you fall in love? You’ll want to take it back with you and you’ll be a changed man when you come back to New York!”).

But Seungsik isn’t with him and Byungchan defaults to his usual coffee order.

He doesn’t plan on falling in love with anything new in a foreign place.

 


 

There isn’t anything fascinating about being on the other side of the country without anyone he knows.

The sun hasn’t set yet and that’s the only thing Byungchan can pinpoint as a blatant difference. He knows that it’s already late afternoon on the east coast and it’s around the time in the afternoon that Seungwoo would scold him for having another cup of coffee.

But Seungwoo isn’t with him.

Seungwoo is in New York, where it would be unreasonable—in Seungwoo’s eyes—for Byungchan to have yet another cup of coffee. But Byungchan is in California, three hours behind New York’s schedule and he is preoccupied with a large cup of coffee and a magazine (that he doesn’t know anything about).

He spent the last fifteen minutes staring at the magazine that was left on the table he chose to sit at, mindlessly flipping through the pages without reading a single word. The pictures are interesting enough.

It turns out that his fifteen minutes of peace flipping through the magazine is his only period of silence. He’s interrupted by an unfamiliar voice to his left. He barely feels the presence of someone approaching them. He only notices the way the glare on the glossy magazine page vanishes when their shadow looms over him.

“Excuse me, are you waiting for the flight to LA, too?”

Byungchan lowers his cup of coffee and turns to look in the direction of the voice. He nearly jumps in surprise when he sees a shock of silvery-blue hair and bright eyes.

It’s a man. Someone he doesn’t know.

“I am,” he replies, quietly. He sounds hesitant.

Byungchan turns his head and looks over his shoulder to make sure that he’s the only person in proximity. A stranger is approaching him is weird. He makes sure that the blue-haired man is actually talking to him. He turns back to the stranger when he realizes that he’s sitting in the corner of the cafe without anyone else around him. The stranger is definitely speaking to him.

The confusion is evident in his tone. He tilts his head, his eyebrows furrowing, “Um… can I help you?”

The stranger laughs. He has the decency to look a little flustered.

“I’m sorry, this is probably really weird,” he says. He looks down at his feet for a brief moment before he glances at Byungchan again. He clears his throat and smiles shyly, “I’m waiting for the flight too and I have nothing to do, so I was hoping to make a friend and try to kill some time. You look around my age and… I hope this doesn’t sound creepy but I noticed that your carry-on bag has a sticker for LA.”

Byungchan blinks slowly at him. It does sound creepy. But he doesn’t have the heart to tell the other man that it does. Not when he looks so desperate to find someone to talk to.

They’re both looking to kill some time and Byungchan supposes that it isn’t that big of a deal to entertain a stranger for a short time.

He looks hopeful as he peers at Byungchan. Byungchan offers him a small smile, one that he hopes is reassuring enough to tell him that he isn’t being that creepy by approaching a random stranger with a sticker for the same destination. He takes another sip of his coffee as an awkward silence hovers between them.

He isn’t doing a good job of reassuring him that he isn’t creepy, surely. The realization settles onto Byungchan like an itchy childhood blanket. He decides he doesn’t like it at all.

Byungchan clears his throat in an attempt to dispel the awkward air, an attempt to fix it.

It doesn’t do much but it does snap them both out of the awkward silence.

The silver-haired man claps his hands together in realization. “Ah! What’s your name?”

“Byungchan,” he replies. It’s a little awkward. He hasn’t introduced himself to anyone since his orientation week at his prospective internship. It’s been months. “My name is Byungchan.”

No matter how awkward Byungchan’s self-introduction is though, the silver-haired man practically radiates happiness. He looks absolutely thrilled when Byungchan says his name.

His smile immediately widens—visibly brightens so that his eyes look like they’re shining—and he enthusiastically reaches out to offer Byungchan his hand. “I’m Sejun!”

Absently, Byungchan brushes off the thought that he’s pretty.

(Sejun is his first hint that his trip might be a little better than he thought it would be.)

 


 

Killing time with one another doesn’t amount to anything more than Sejun purchasing a slice of cake from the counter and a refill of coffee for both himself and Byungchan (despite the younger man’s insistence that he doesn’t need any more caffeine in his system). Sejun was too enthusiastic for Byungchan to turn down and the silver-haired man was insistent that a simple cup of coffee was nothing he couldn’t afford for a stranger.

Byungchan finds himself unable to fight his logic, so he accepts it. And they end up talking about random things. It starts with an awkward conversation about the weather in Los Angeles until Sejun rolls his eyes and drifts the conversation away from blatantly dull topics (“You know, Byungchan, I’d fuck around on a dating app for several hours if I wanted to have conversations without any real value,” Sejun told him with a cheeky smile on his lips. Byungchan hid a small smile at his words and let him take the conversation wherever he wanted.)

Sejun learns that Byungchan is from New York, born and raised. He learns that he’s on a trip to relieve stress before he throws himself in the workforce for the foreseeable future. He learns that he has very convincing friends who often make him the subject of their ploys. He learns that Byungchan isn’t used to being approached by strangers and his awkwardness is obvious proof of it.

“So, you’re graduating this summer?” Sejun asks him, bright and curious eyes peering at him from across the table. Sejun has his elbows on the table and he’s leaning forward, obviously interested in whatever Byungchan has to say. It briefly crosses his mind that Sejun must be really bored to be talking to someone like him (and genuinely display interest in his words). “That must be exciting. What does it feel like?”

Byungchan shrugs his shoulders. He taps his fingers against the table as he thinks. He says, “It feels like all my hard work is finally getting me somewhere, I guess. It’s just moving on to do what I’ve been doing all my life and getting paid for it.” He takes a sip of the iced coffee Sejun bought him and resists the urge to make a face—it’s way too sweet for his tastes but he doesn’t tell Sejun that. It’s not something he would have bought with his own money but it’s something different and he appreciates the gesture. He was the one who told Sejun to get him ‘whatever he’s getting’ after all. “It’s pretty cool, I guess.”

“What are you studying?” Sejun asks. He sounds genuinely interested. Byungchan’s lips pull into a small frown and he hopes that it isn’t obvious. He looks down at the table.

“It’s not that cool,” Byungchan says after a short moment of silence. Sejun frowns at him. Byungchan tacks on, “Everyone says it’s boring and brutal.”

“Why does it matter what everyone thinks about it?” Sejun asks, locking his fingers together and resting them under his chin. He takes a sip of his drink. “Isn’t it enough that you liked it enough to study it for your entire undergraduate degree? I wouldn’t want to pay so much money for something I don’t like.”

Byungchan purses his lips. He shrugs, “Actuarial science,” he says.

Sejun blinks.

“That sounds cool!” he exclaims after a brief silence. Byungchan makes a face.

“You don’t even sound like you mean it.”

Sejun grins at him, “No! I mean it, I swear.” His eyes almost seem to sparkle when he admits, “I just don’t know what it is, but anything I don’t know is still probably super cool.” It’s the first time that Byungchan has ever seen someone so excited to not know something.

Byungchan chuckles. “Thanks, Sejun.”

“Are you going to ask me if I want to know what it is?” Sejun asks. Byungchan arches an eyebrow.

“Do you want me to?”

“Please.”

Byungchan laughs quietly. He smiles, “Do you want to know what actuarial science is, Sejun?”

Sejun beams at him.

“Please tell me about it,” he replies. Byungchan snorts.

“You don’t have to suffer through it for me,” Byungchan says, “we can kill time talking about something else.”

“I want to know!” Sejun tells him. He clasps his hands together over his cup of coffee, his bright eyes practically glimmering as he looks at Byungchan. And Byungchan doesn’t have any reason to say ‘no’ to him.

They kill the time with Byungchan droning on about his major until he feels bad for making Sejun listen to him (though, the silver-haired man doesn’t look like a single second of Byungchan’s explanation bored him). Byungchan doesn’t know how much time passes when he talks but Sejun’s enthusiasm never seems to fade. He only stops animatedly talking when Sejun gently pulls his empty cup of coffee away from his hands. Byungchan hadn’t noticed that he had already finished his drink and was sipping nothing.

“Oh,” he murmurs, embarrassed. Sejun laughs.

“You love what you do so much,” Sejun tells him. He doesn’t bother acknowledging the fact that Byungchan got so distracted that he didn’t realize his drink was finished. For that, Byungchan feels grateful. Sejun flashes a charming smile at him, “It’s really cute.”

Byungchan feels the warmth of a blush flood to his cheeks. He looks down at the table and drums his fingers against the surface with a quiet laugh. He shrugs his shoulders, “I guess I do like it a lot, huh?”

“I’m glad you do!” Sejun says. Byungchan glances at him, still flustered from having been so absorbed in what he was talking about. He clears his throat.

“So, what do you do?” he asks. “What are you heading to LA for?”

Sejun beams.

Sejun is from Los Angeles—or at least, he has a place to stay when he’s there. Byungchan isn’t certain which it is, but Sejun’s eyes glimmer like he’s saying he’s excited to be returning home.

Sejun, he learns, is a year older than him. And they’re nothing alike. Sejun is a free spirit and he doesn’t know anything of the gruelling years of post-secondary education that Byungchan went through. He’s completely oblivious and he’s happy.

He’s Byungchan’s opposite in every way. When he finished his high school diploma, he decided he was finished with school and decided that he wanted to travel and do what made him happy. For Sejun, happiness meant making music—he’s a DJ. He’s heading to Los Angeles for a festival, he explains with excitement in his tone. His eyes sparkle when he declares that he’s performing at the show. He’s one of the smaller acts at the show but he’s proud of his ability to move a crowd.

“Oh! You should come to the show,” Sejun tells him, his eyes bright. Byungchan is taken by surprise at the sudden invitation. It comes out of nowhere but Sejun looks excited at the simple proposal. Byungchan blinks at the older man, surprised, and Sejun is grinning widely at him. Byungchan can’t help but wonder if he looked the same when he was talking about what he was planning to do for a living. On Sejun, the excitement is almost endearing. “It’s an open festival so it’s free for the public! You should come to see me perform if you have nothing planned for that night! It’ll be good, I promise!”

Byungchan hesitates.

The truth is that he still doesn’t know what he has planned for the entire week that he’s in Los Angeles—Seungsik insisted that he leave New York without a clear itinerary for the full effect of freedom—but the festival is the night of the last day of his stay in California.

Completely absorbed in his thoughts, Byungchan tunes out the details that Sejun goes through—the details of who will be performing at the show and what time Sejun will be taking the stage. It’s information that he should probably know if he plans on showing up for the festival but Byungchan doesn’t hear any of it because he’s drawn to the way Sejun’s eyes sparkle; the way his smile is dazzling.

Sejun, he learns, has a pretty smile—dimples and all. Sejun, simply put, is breathtaking.

“Yeah,” he breathes out, looking just past Sejun’s bright smile. He nods his head, “I’ll come to see you.”

He doesn’t know if it’s possible but Sejun’s smile widens even more. He looks thrilled to hear Byungchan’s acceptance and he clasps his hands together in excitement. He bounces a little in his seat.

“Perfect!” he exclaims.

And for a brief moment, they’re quiet. For a brief moment, all Byungchan does is stare at the way Sejun smiles at him. He loses himself in the older man’s smile and he finds himself completely unaware that he’s staring. But it doesn’t seem to bother Sejun that Byungchan is staring at him because he’s resting both elbows on the table and cupping his face with his hands. He’s smiling and staring right back at Byungchan, happy.

Byungchan’s phone rings, buzzing loudly on the table, and it snaps him out of his trance. He jumps.

Sejun looks away and giggles at him.

Byungchan glances at the caller identification when it pops up on his screen and his brows furrow. Seungwoo.

“Shit, sorry,” he murmurs, grabbing his phone. “I have to take this.”

Sejun easily rests his chin in his palms again and leans his elbows back against the table. He smiles and tilts his head, “Go ahead. I’ll stay right here.”

 


 

He’s standing just outside the café entrance with his phone pressed to his ear. He’s leaning against the pillar that separates the glass of the window from the entrance and he can still see Sejun playing on his phone in the cafe from the corner of his eye. Byungchan tries his best not to stare at him through the window like a creep.

But as much as he tries to keep his focus on something other than Sejun, his attention doesn’t draw away from Sejun until a familiar voice sounds through the speaker of his phone.

It turns out that, despite the caller information showing Seungwoo’s name, Seungwoo isn’t the one on the phone. It’s Seungsik. It’s Seungsik calling him from Seungwoo’s phone because Seungwoo is in the shower and he left his phone charging on the table. Seungsik is cheerful when he greets him.

“You didn’t reply to Seungwoo’s text,” Seungsik tells him. “We were both getting worried.”

Byungchan rolls his eyes. “The text about getting a snack to kill some time?”

“That’s the one,” Seungsik replies. Byungchan can hear the smile in his voice. Seungsik’s voice was always so musical when he was happy. It’s endearing in a way that makes it impossible for Byungchan to be upset with him, even when he’s being scolded for not keeping both Seungwoo and Seungsik updated on his trip. “What’s going on with you? Have you found something better than texting us? I thought you would be texting us during the entire delay because you didn’t have anything to do.”

Byungchan glances over his shoulder through the glass of the window again. His eyes fall on the silver-haired man looking down at the magazine on the table. Unconsciously, his lips tug into a small smile.

He almost forgets that he’s on the phone.

“Byungchan?”

“Oh,” he snaps out of it. He laughs, scratching the back of his neck, “um, I found someone to talk to.”

“Oh?” Seungsik sounds interested. He always does, but it’s the kind of interest that asks Byungchan to give him more information for the sake of sharing with Seungwoo; for the sake of wanting to know something potentially scandalous. It’s different from the interest that glimmered in Sejun’s eyes when Byungchan explained something boring to him. And Seungsik is obviously smiling, “Tell me more.”

“There’s nothing to tell you, hyung,” Byungchan murmurs. He looks away from Sejun. “Not anything interesting, at least. I just met someone at the airport who is also heading to Los Angeles. We’re on the same flight and he asked me to kill time together.”

Byungchan can’t see Seungsik through the phone but he can imagine that the older man is tilting his head in interest. Seungsik has always had a habit of doing it when he thinks. Seungsik hums softly, “Is he cute?”

“Hyung,” Byungchan scrunches up his nose in distaste at Seungsik’s inquiry. “It doesn’t matter if he’s cute or not. We’re never going to see each other again after this.”

As if Byungchan broke his heart with the simple statement, Seungsik makes a pitiful whining sound when he frowns; purposefully dramatic. He huffs, “That’s not the kind of spirit you need when you meet cute boys. You should hope that you’ll meet them again. I’m sure that Los Angeles isn’t that big. What if you’re meant to run into one another again? What if you’re soulmates?”

“Seungsik hyung, he’s a stranger,” he replies. Seungsik sighs.

“Fine, fine,” he says, “whatever you say. Just don’t blame me if you’re letting a cute boy go.”

“You don’t even know what he looks like.”

“But you do,” Seungsik points out, his tone sounding overly dramatic, “and you refuse to tell me because you know I’m going to make fun of you. You’re already all grown up, Byungchannie. You won’t fall for my tricks anymore.”

“You’re the worst.”

Seungsik laughs at that. He knows he doesn’t mean it, Byungchan is certain of that. The sound of his laughter is familiar and hearing it settles a strange comfort in Byungchan’s stomach. It’s a reminder that no matter how far away they are, there’s familiarity in the people he knows. He’s on the other side of the country, meant to make new memories with the freedom of being somewhere unfamiliar, but familiarity is just a phone call away.

“Wait,” Seungsik interrupts his train of thought, “what’s your friend doing, now? If you’re on the phone with me?”

Byungchan hesitates. He looks over his shoulder back to where Sejun is still flipping through the magazine.

“He’s hanging out,” he replies. “When I picked up the phone, he said he’ll stay there and wait for me. We have a lot more time to kill, so I think he’s hoping that I’m not just going to abandon him.”

Seungsik laughs. He hums softly and Byungchan can picture him tilting his head as he adjusts the phone on his shoulder. There’s the soft rustling of clothing as Seungsik moves the phone to rest comfortably on his ear.

“Okay. I just called to make sure that you were doing alright. I should let you go, now that Seungwoo and I know that you’re still alive and fine,” Seungsik says. Then, as an afterthought, he adds, “You should get back to hanging out with your new friend. He’s a stranger but I think you need a little bit of temporary fresh air in your life. Take some risks, Byungchan. It’ll be good for you.”

And then, he ends the call. Byungchan is left staring at his phone in confusion. It isn’t unlike Seungsik to suddenly end the phone call but he didn’t expect Seungsik to abandon him so promptly.

Byungchan sighs. He looks over his shoulder back at Sejun.

He supposes he doesn’t have a choice. He doesn’t know what Seungsik is trying to imply when he says that he needs a little bit of temporary fresh air in his life, but Sejun is his best chance at killing time after all.

Byungchan shakes up the strange feeling and heads back into the cafe.

He slips into the seat in front of Sejun, leaning his elbows against the table. He offers a small smile when the silver-haired man looks up at him with bright eyes. Byungchan finds himself noticing the deep dimple pressed into his cheek, again. It’s cute. He brushes that feeling off, too.

“Who was that?” Sejun asks, smiling.

Byungchan shrugs. “Just a friend,” he says. “He was just checking up on me.”

Sejun beams. His eyes nearly twinkle.

He nods his head and slips his phone back into his pocket.

He says, “Cool!”

There’s a beat of silence before Sejun’s smile grows. He tilts his head, “Hey, do you want to go shopping?”

Byungchan makes a weird face.

He doesn’t say no.

 


 

When Sejun said shopping, Byungchan didn’t think he would be dragged into all the shops in the airport. It turns out that his judgement is wrong and he should expect more spontaneity from the stranger who had the guts to approach him in the middle of a coffee shop, in hopes of becoming temporary friends.

Still, he lets Sejun do whatever he wants because he doesn’t have any better ideas.

Byungchan follows the other man through the stores, watching as he picks up different articles of clothing and holds them up to himself. Sometimes, he holds hangers up to Byungchan’s body (and earns himself a questioning look because he seems to have a strange impression of Byungchan’s fashion sense).

“Do you see anything you like?” Sejun asks, tilting his head. Byungchan scans the store, a glance over the items adorning the walls of the shop. He doesn’t have any real interest in actually looking at anything the store has to offer, so he pretends to look. He hopes Sejun doesn’t notice.

“I don’t think I’m going to buy anything,” Byungchan replies.

Sejun makes a face at him.

“You’re not even going to look?” he asks. Byungchan hesitates.

“You’ve been suggesting tons of things to me,” he says. He shrugs, “I didn’t like anything very much.”

Sejun frowns. He turns away to one of the racks and flips through the hangers.

“What do you like?” he asks.

Byungchan frowns. He leans against the display next to him and shoves his hands into his pockets.

“I like simple things,” he says after a moment of thought. “I don’t like anything flashy. I don’t think there’s anything here that fits that description, though.”

His response is met with silence. Sejun digs through the racks with his eyebrows furrowed in thought.

Then, like magic, Sejun pulls out a pastel coral sweater from the rack. Its material looks extremely soft and the colour is so pale that it almost looks white. Suddenly, Byungchan is reminded of every single time he goes shopping with his mother because she always seems to shove her hands into the racks and conjure an item that was definitely not there.

“Is this simple?” he asks. It isn’t something he would usually pick out for himself, so he almost wants to say that it isn’t simple. But Sejun looks at him with wide eyes and he doesn’t have the heart to do it.

“It’s okay,” he replies. Sejun beams.

“Try it on!”

When Sejun pushes the sweater into his hands, Byungchan complies.

He’s almost immediately whisked into the fitting rooms with the way Sejun takes his hand and pulls him to one of the associates. At the speed Sejun moves, Byungchan almost feels dizzy. It’s not a horrible feeling, though. It’s just a speed that Byungchan isn’t used to, and he’s still wrapping his head around being near Sejun.

When he presents himself in front of Sejun with the hoodie on, he feels a little awkward. He tugs at the collar of the sweater, hoping that it sits properly on his body. He can’t look Sejun in the eyes when the other man is positively checking him out to give a review on the sweater. Sejun’s eyes linger a little longer than they have to, but Byungchan doesn’t say anything about it. He simply stares at the ground.

“You should get it,” Sejun says when he’s finally done checking Byungchan out. His eyes are sparkling. “It looks nice on you.”

“It does?” Byungchan turns to glance at himself in the mirror again.

The sweater fits well. It’s loose and sits comfortably on his body. It’s also just as soft as it looked on the hanger and Byungchan feels like he might be able to happily fall asleep in it. It feels like a warm hug. He does like it and Sejun has no real reason to lie to him about it looking good.

He supposes a souvenir wouldn’t be too bad.

In their reflection, Sejun looks so excited. Byungchan hides a small smile and looks down to find the price tag.

Byungchan almost cringes when he looks at the price tag on the sweater. It reminds him of the crippling weight of student debt, waiting to stare back at him from a threatening stack of letters in a few months. It’s a pain he doesn’t actually know, yet, but it already feels too real when he looks at the price tag.

“Um,” he starts, brilliantly. Sejun looks so excited and Byungchan doesn’t know if it’s because he’s wearing the sweater that Sejun picked out or if he always looks like that. Byungchan falters under the pressure of bright, joyful eyes. Quietly, he ends up saying, “I don’t know, Sejun. It’s kind of expensive.”

Sejun starts.

“Expensive?” he purses his lips and reaches out to take the price tag between his fingers. His eyebrows furrow when he looks at it. And then, he sighs, “I guess it kind of is expensive, huh?”

Byungchan shrugs. He turns to head back into the fitting room.

“It’s okay,” he says, “I don’t need any new clothes.”

Sejun rocks back onto his heels and tilts his head.

“What if I buy it for you?” he asks.

He feels a surge of shock jolt through his body immediately. Byungchan turns back to look at him, his eyes comically widening as if Sejun said something ridiculous. And for the record, he did.

“I’m sorry?”

Sejun repeats himself, seemingly unfazed by Byungchan’s shocked tone. The smile on his lips makes it feel like he genuinely believed that Byungchan didn’t hear him. “I asked ‘what if I buy it for you?’

He looks so serious that Byungchan forces himself to forget the idea that Sejun could be joking.

Byungchan frowns. His eyebrows furrow. He looks down at the hoodie, its price tag, and then looks back at Sejun, frown deepening. He can’t wrap his mind around the thought of accepting a gift from someone he met just a few hours ago, someone he was certain to never meet again once they left the airport.

“Sejun,” he says, seriously, “I can’t accept gifts from a stranger.”

It feels ridiculous. He doesn’t know anyone who had the money to spend on a stranger. Sejun bought him coffee and asked for his time (which he granted), but that didn’t justify Sejun needing to spend money on him. It didn’t make sense. He knows that they’re complete opposites, but he didn’t expect Sejun to be comfortable with buying an overpriced hoodie for a stranger.

“Nonsense,” Sejun laughs. He nudges Byungchan and grins, “We’re friends!”

It stuns Byungchan silent.

Without another word, Sejun pushes him back into the fitting room with a bright smile. And Byungchan learns that, at the core of his existence, Lim Sejun might be made up of all the risks that he doesn’t dare to take.

 


 

It isn’t until he gets to his hotel room in Los Angeles that he realizes how hard it is to kill time alone.

Spending time with Sejun and killing time with someone else—especially a stranger—felt like so much all at once. It was busy and almost every passing moment felt like he was forcing himself too far out of his comfort zone. It was something unfamiliar to Byungchan, but now that he’s alone, he realizes that it feels lonely without the silver-haired man. Sejun isn’t standing beside him, talking about something strange. Byungchan brushes off the immediate thought that he already misses the other man’s presence.

Byungchan can’t help but think that unfamiliarity might be better when it’s paired with more chaos to distract him from the fact that it doesn’t feel comfortable.

They aren’t going to see one another again, he reminds himself as he lays down on the bed.

Byungchan consciously knows that he shouldn’t get stuck on the memories of having someone by his side for a few hours. It isn’t rational to get attached to someone after spending a few hours with them. They bid one another goodbye before they entered the gate for their flight and that felt enough like closing the short chapter of his story. There isn’t a need to stay attached to something that has passed.

But he looks at the paper shopping bag on the floor of his hotel room and sighs.

He hadn’t been able to refuse Sejun’s gift in the end.

He rolls over on the bed and dials Seungwoo’s number to report his safe arrival at the hotel.

It doesn’t do him any good to think about Sejun, Byungchan thinks. He didn’t even bother to ask for his number. And as small as Seungsik thinks Los Angeles is, Byungchan doesn’t think he’ll run into Sejun again.

 


 

He spends his first few days away from home wandering around the shops near his hotel. He texts Seungwoo for recommendations and he usually finds himself ending up with an attempt at a barely-convincing text from Seungsik that insists he should be doing something ridiculous in the name of freedom. It never works.

Realizations come to him quickly when he’s on the other side of the country without anything familiar to ground him into reality. The biggest realization strikes him almost immediately: without someone to accompany him and coax him into taking risks, Los Angeles feels just like New York City. It’s a big city built on promises with a lot to do, but there’s nothing to do when he doesn’t know what he should be doing.

The differences are minor between being home and being here.

If he’s honest, Byungchan doesn’t see how being far from home would open his eyes to anything new. The differences are all too boring to note; Seungsik isn’t there to drag him out to do weird things when Seungwoo isn’t watching, so he doesn’t do anything that his mind considers risky.

In Los Angeles, Byungchan wakes up at six in the morning, existing in a timeline three hours behind his usual schedule. The city isn’t awake at six in the morning, though.

So, Byungchan sits by the window in his hotel room and nurses a cup of coffee he procured from the hotel lobby, staring down at the city, slowly waking up beneath him.

He’s on the phone with Seungwoo, who is busy with clattering pans on the other end of the line. Byungchan assumes that he’s making breakfast for himself and Seungsik. A glance at the clock tells him that Seungsik is probably still in bed. Seungsik is always in bed past noon on his day off.

“What do you mean it’s boring?” Seungwoo sounds disappointed. He shouldn’t, Byungchan thinks, he isn’t the one stranded in an unfamiliar city with nothing to do. “Seungsik is going to be so upset if he hears that.”

“Don’t tell him, then,” Byungchan says. “He doesn’t need to know that I’m not having the time of my life.”

“I knew we should have come with you,” Seungwoo muses. “You don’t know how to have fun by yourself. All you do is think about how much work you have left to do.”

“Seungsik hyung wouldn’t have let you come with me,” Byungchan reminds him. He can imagine Seungwoo’s pout. “He’s all about me experiencing this all alone. And well, here I am… not having the time of my life. Hyung, honestly, Los Angeles is exactly like New York. I wouldn’t bother coming here for the experience.

“Maybe you’re not trying hard enough to find something to do?” Seungwoo suggests. “What happened to your new friend? The one you met at the airport? Why don’t you call him up and ask you to show you around?”

Byungchan hesitates for a second. He asks, “Seungsik hyung told you about him?”

“Well,” Seungwoo muses, “there isn’t very much that he doesn’t tell me, right? Besides, why wouldn’t he tell me about your cute friend?”

Byungchan groans.

“How do you know he’s cute?”

There’s another clatter of metal on the other end of the line. It’s followed by Seungwoo’s laugh.

“Seungsik said that he heard the hesitation in your voice when he asked you if your friend was cute,” he says. “He concluded that it must mean that your friend is super cute and you just weren’t willing to tell him about it. So, he told me that your friend was super cute.” Seungwoo chuckles, “What? Is he not?”

Byungchan takes a moment to think of an answer. He takes a moment to think about Sejun.

It’s easy to recall Sejun’s face, despite the short amount of time they spent together. Byungchan finds that it’s too easy to remember Sejun. He thinks of Sejun’s pretty smile and remembers: breathtaking.

“He’s cute,” Byungchan murmurs into the phone. He doesn’t know why he feels the need to tell Seungwoo the truth, but he supposes it doesn’t hurt. “But it’s not like I’m going to see him ever again.”

Seungwoo gasps, a scandalized noise. Byungchan thinks that he has learned too much from his boyfriend.

“What?” Seungwoo squawks, “Didn’t you get his number? Oh my God, is that why you’ve been so bored in Los Angeles? You don’t have any friends and you didn’t even bother getting the cute boy’s number?”

Byungchan rolls his eyes. He knows that Seungwoo can’t see him, but he knows that the older man can feel the action through the phone. Byungchan abandons his cup of coffee on the window sill and throws himself back on the bed. He exhales a loud sigh.

“I’m going to go back to bed,” he says. “I don’t feel like talking to you anymore.”

Seungwoo sniffs at him. He says, “I can’t believe you’ve changed so much in just a few days. You don’t even want to talk to your favourite hyung anymore.”

Byungchan rolls over on the bed, pressing the phone closer to his ear.

“It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you,” Byungchan mutters. He pulls one of the pillows under his chin and moves his phone to his other ear. Jokingly, he continues, “It’s just that you’re starting to talk like Seungsik hyung and I miss my rational hyung. I think you’ve been hanging out with Seungsik hyung too much. That probably has something to do with the fact that I’m not in New York. And also, the fact that you’re dating and you live in the same apartment.”

Seungwoo laughs at that. It’s so loud that Byungchan instinctively pulls his phone away from his ear.

Byungchan shifts on the bed to make himself comfortable. And then, his eyes fall on the shopping bag on the floor, still sitting in the middle of the hotel room amongst his belongings. The light coral colour peeks through the tissue paper stuffed into the bag and, again, he thinks of Sejun.

He thinks of the excitement visible on Sejun’s face when he went through the details of performing.

He thinks about the way that Sejun looked at him with so much interest when he was talking about something that he didn’t understand. He doesn’t have any plans to do anything interesting in Los Angeles, but he’s suddenly struck with the reminder that he made Sejun a promise—a promise to see him again at the festival.

He sighs, “Hey, hyung?”

“Still here,” Seungwoo assures him. “What’s up?”

Byungchan is quiet for a moment and Seungwoo waits for him to speak. Deep in his thoughts, he drowns out the sound of Seungwoo clattering cutlery on the other end of the line.

Lying alone on the bed, staring at the ceiling, Byungchan wonders how many different patterns he can find in the ceiling paint and if it would distract him from thinking of the pretty man he met in the airport. And then, he remembers Sejun’s bright eyes when he promised he would see him at the festival.

Resigned, he closes his eyes and loosens his grip on his phone, letting the speaker slide and drop against his cheek. Having been pressed to his ear, the thin metal of his phone feels warm.

He exhales, slow and steady.

“Would you keep a promise you made to a stranger?”

 


 

He takes a risk the night before he’s due to return to New York City.

The music at the festival is loud, the bass booms in Byungchan’s ears long before he immerses himself in the crowd. Colourful, flashing lights keep his attention better than the person spinning dials and cranking knobs on the stage. But this has never been Byungchan’s sort of scene.

He came on a whim because he made a promise.

He prefers solitude and quieter places. Outdoor festivals aren’t what he seeks when he thinks of entertainment. He prefers late-night coffee shops to nightclubs and he wonders why he came when he knows that Sejun’s world isn’t anything like his own. He prefers the smell of coffee brewing at two in the morning in a dim-lit diner because students are cramming for an exam at one of the corner booths.

But he supposes that he’s on the other side of the country and Seungsik’s encouragement to try something—to take a risk—echoes in the back of his mind. He supposes that Sejun is the risk he can take.

Evenings in April are still a little chilly and there are so many people crowded around him. It feels like he should be warm in the presence of so many people, but Byungchan keeps his distance from the drunk, dancing bodies. Instead of warming up to strangers, Byungchan keeps himself warm with the hoodie Sejun bought him.

His eyes wander no matter how hard he tries to look at the stage, though.

In the new environment, Byungchan finds that he’s too easily distracted by the flashing lights. The music is loud and he thinks he hears people trying to yell over the music, but he can’t make out anything. He knows that the screaming men to his left are drunk and he feels terribly out of place.

He came for Sejun but he doesn’t know if he’ll even run into him.

For a moment, Byungchan feels a little ridiculous because there isn’t a chance that Sejun would even find him in a crowd. There are so many people surrounding him and it’s impossible to pinpoint someone you met once.

No matter how peculiar Sejun is, Byungchan thinks that it is impossible for Sejun to find him. And along with the realization, he feels a pang of regret that asks him why he bothered coming in the first place.

The first answer that comes to mind tells him that he did it because he was bored. But the second whisper from the back of his mind reminds him that he made Sejun a promise.

A promise to a stranger, he thinks. Why was it so important to him?

He has the belated realization that he doesn’t remember when Sejun said he would be onstage. He doesn’t even think he was listening when Sejun told him because he was too absorbed in staring at him.

The mechanical riffs of the synthesizer finally end and the crowd erupts into loud cheers. Byungchan turns his attention back to the stage in time to see the man wave to the crowd and run off of the stage.

The group of young girls to his right rush together and whisper excitedly.

Byungchan shoves his hands into his pockets and watches, quietly.

Then, there’s a familiar head of silvery-blue hair under the flashing lights and Byungchan feels his heart stop.

 


 

“Byungchan, you actually came!”

Somehow, Sejun’s voice is louder than the music blasting around them. Maybe it was because there was something akin to hope in the pit of Byungchan’s stomach when he watched Sejun bolt off the stage after he finished his performance. Byungchan whirls around in time to catch Sejun when the other man jumps at him.

The force of his weight almost knocks Byungchan off of his feet. He takes a step back with his arms still wrapped loosely around Sejun. He looks down at the older man’s bright expression; vivid eyes glittering up at him, pretty dimple pressed deeply into his cheek—breathtaking.

It takes him somewhere. Byungchan suddenly feels himself melting into the loud music blasting from the speakers and the myriad of colourful lights swirling around them. Sejun’s face is illuminated by a rainbow of colours in a matter of seconds and Byungchan can’t take his eyes off him.

There are still so many people surrounding them, jumping and shouting in excitement at the DJ on stage, but Byungchan feels like they’re alone. And, somehow, this feels exhilarating.

“Of course, I did,” Byungchan breathes out. His eyes are wide and he feels breathless for some reason. Sejun’s eyes glitter under the light. “I made you a promise.”

Sejun beams at his words. Something in Sejun’s eyes turns warm and his smile grows.

“You made me a promise,” he echoes. “You kept it.”

His heart thuds in his chest at the look in Sejun’s eyes. And Byungchan doesn’t know what to expect because he has never been so reckless in his life. He’s never been so impulsive in his life.

But Sejun makes him want to live a little dangerously. If only just a little.

He acts on the surge of warmth that rises in his chest.

He leans in and kisses him.

Sejun gasps softly against his lips, but he reacts quickly. Sejun’s fingers raise to Byungchan’s chest and he grips into the front of his hoodie, the soft material bunching up beneath his fingers. He pulls Byungchan closer.

Byungchan thinks this kind of warmth is a first for him.

 


 

He wonders if this could be classified as a whirlwind romance, one that sweeps you off your feet, takes you by surprise and embraces you in the warmth of unfamiliarity that feels too dangerously familiar.

That’s what it feels like when Sejun takes him back to his apartment.

They’re drunk on the atmosphere if nothing else. He doesn’t know why he feels so high on the thrill of being with Sejun, but he is. He can’t shake the feeling of this impulse being the greatest risk he’s ever taken.

If not with Sejun, Byungchan thinks he might be in love with the moment.

 


 

“Do you really have to leave?”

It’s a low murmur.

Sejun has the blanket pulled up to his chin and his hair is a mess. He looks at Byungchan with curious eyes.

Byungchan is already out of bed, sitting on the floor near the bedroom door where there is an outlet plugged into the wall. He has his phone plugged into Sejun’s phone charger and he’s waiting for it to fully charge.

He looks up at the sound of Sejun’s voice. He lowers his phone and places it on the floor as he rises to his feet.

The sunlight filters through the window of Sejun’s room, through the chiffon curtains, and Byungchan thinks this might look like a scene straight out of a romantic movie—messy hair and flushed cheeks. If they had slept together, maybe it would be the beginning of a romantic escapade that stemmed from a one-night stand.

He thinks about kissing Sejun and falling asleep in his arms, he thinks about how nice it is to take risks if they end up like this. If the risk is Sejun.

“I do,” Byungchan replies. “I’d stay if I could, trust me. But my flight leaves in a few hours.”

Sejun sighs and sits up in bed. He throws the blanket to the side, shooting Byungchan a look.

“Fine,” he says. “I’ll get dressed and take you to the airport.”

“You don’t have to,” Byungchan says.

He looks at Sejun, quietly taking in his appearance—the loose t-shirt hanging off his shoulders, the sunlight filtering through his silver locks and backlighting his figure, and the way that he looks at Byungchan with unfiltered fondness. He commits it to memory.

“I want to.”

Byungchan smiles at him. He steps towards the bed and opens his arms. Sejun immediately buries his face into the front of Byungchan’s hoodie. Byungchan wraps his arms around him.

Sejun inhales, closing his eyes.

“I wish you could stay,” he murmurs. “LA could be good for you. I would be good to you.”

Byungchan presses a kiss to the crown of Sejun’s head, closing his eyes; staying.

“I’ll come back to see you.”

 


 

Seungwoo is waiting for him at the airport when he lands in New York.

He looks excited to see Byungchan.

Byungchan belatedly realizes that he hasn’t updated him about his trip since talking about keeping promises with strangers. He spent too much of his time wrapped up in Sejun.

“How was your trip?” Seungwoo asks. His tone sounds teasing and there’s a small smile on his lips. He takes Byungchan’s carrier from his hands, dragging it behind him as he falls into step next to Byungchan. “Eye-opening? Any more travel plans for you?”

Teasing or not, Seungwoo’s question makes him think about the risks he took in Los Angeles.

He thinks about throwing caution to the wind in an unfamiliar city; a stranger’s sweet smile and bright eyes, and where they managed to lead themselves from that smile alone. He thinks about the intoxicating bright lights that managed to be enough to coax him into the arms of a pretty man with a pretty smile.

He thinks about how Sejun kept pulling him back for more kisses when he dropped him off at the airport. He thinks about the way their fingertips brushed together before Sejun finally let him leave the car (only after he promised that he would keep in contact and he would come back to see him).

Warmth spreads in his chest. Byungchan smiles to himself and looks behind him, surveying the bustling bodies rushing to meet their loved ones at the airport.

He turns to look at Seungwoo and shrugs his shoulders.

“Maybe I’ll head back to Los Angeles next year. I had fun.”